Affordable Single Vineyard Chardonnay, Juicy Delicious Summer Red: Classic Mushroom Appetizer

I’m always looking for an exceptional wine under $15.00. I remember the days when the goal was under $10. A recent wine we’ve kept around the house is Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay 2011, a really nice example of what we should expect from this fine coastal region for the price, but often can’t. A red we’ve loved this summer is Catedral Reserva 2008. It’s a light-to-medium-bodied summer red, juicy-but-with-a-backbone, summer red.

Chardonnay_446_2011 - Catedral_Reserva_2008

Depending on your market, you should be able to find 446 Chard from $10.00 – $15.00 – usually about $13.00. The grapes are sourced from Monterey, California, Block 46 of Noble Vines San Bernabe Vineyard. The climate is cool with foggy mornings, perfect for this Clone 4 which was cultivated by Louis Martini in Carneros.

I don’t often give wine ratings because, well you know…we don’t know who pays to boost their ratings (and I’m not saying that happens, but I’m also not saying it doesn’t happen). I feel good about ratings when I know the wine and agree with it. In this case I agree with Beverage Dynamics Magazine’s 90 points for 446 Chardonnay 2011.

(90) 446 Monterey Chardonnay 2011 (California) Creamy, with layers of concentrated ripe apple, pear and apricot flavors that blend well together finishing with a touch of oak, vanilla and spice ($15) Source: Beverage Dynamic Magazine

The finish on the 446 is lovely and lingering. I get the apple and pear, but also pineapple just sweet enough to avoid ‘pineapple acidity,’ really annoying to my palate. Find a second white we always have on-hand here – easy to drink, affordable and I love it.

The Catedral Reserva DOC Dão (Portugal) 2008 red is one of those juicy blends that make you smile, as red wine sometimes doesn’t when the thermometer is nearing 100℉. You’re not brewing up a stew, you’re thinking pasta salad, a fruit and cheese plate or a steak with a side of home-grown sliced tomatoes. The Catedral Reserva is a Single Estate wine from “Quinta da Beirã,” in the coveted Dão region of Portugal. You’ll find lots of red and black fruit in your glass with dark ripe plums, riper cherries and a touch of toast.

When you view the photo in my pic above, you can’t miss the fact that the Catedral label bears it’s 90 rating from Wine Enthusiast. The 90 is not unreasonable for a wine in this price range, and one so absolutely delightful to drink.The blend is 50% Tinta Roriz, 30% Alfrocheiro and 20% Touriga-Nacional (will you remember even one after 15 minutes?).

This wine has received a lot of attention: The Wine Advocate gave it an 85, Jancis Robinson 15.5 out of 20 and Wine Spectator 84 out of 100. Depending on your market, the price is probably between $10 and $13. It’s a 2008 and supplies might be low-to-gone, so I’d shop sooner rather than later if you want to try it.

Red wine drinkers often judge all red wine by how ‘big’ it is and just as often, miss out on little jewels – Catedral Reserva 2008 is one, find another here.

Two fab wines need an equally fab dish that can be enjoyed with either the 446 Chard or the Catedral Reserva. I suggest Pioneer Woman’s Brie-stuffed Mushrooms – with my twist. Find her easy recipe here, complete with the step-by-step photos she is famous for. I make a few minor changes. I chop-up more than a handful of parsley (Italian Flat Leaf) and more than a few green onions. I also chop the mushroom stems and add them to the mix. Pioneer Woman does not. I like lots of chopped goodness to cover the oozy melted brie. I’ve been known to add basil, and particularly like the tiny boxwood basil. Here’s how the dish starts.


UPDATED 8-10-13 (just found this pic of what the dish looks like with the topping):

Just before popping into the oven:


Right out of the oven:



This is one of those recipes I know guests will adore (and ask for the recipe) (unless the guest doesn’t like mushrooms – and you know who you are – but sometimes takes the recipe home anyway). Hubby and I use it as a main course with crusty bread and sliced apples on evenings we want to eat light. Salut.

Pronunciations (attempting to be proper enough to keep from being embarrassing):

Dao: Dow (rhymes with sow and cow)
Catedral: Cat-eh-draow (draow has the same sound as dow or sow or cow with an ‘r’)

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1 comment for “Affordable Single Vineyard Chardonnay, Juicy Delicious Summer Red: Classic Mushroom Appetizer

  1. April 26, 2014 at 4:42 am

    If you are looking for a nice sweet white wine, try Riesling.Riesling can be dry, semi-sweet or sweet, so make sure to read label.Other “sweet” (aka “off-dry”) white wines to exrmnieept with are Gewurztraminer from Alsace (France) or Moscato from pretty much anywhere. Some very nice Moscato wines are produced in California and can be found even at Trader Joes. Try them. Moscato d’Asti is an Italian fizzy low-alchohol wine that is sweet enough to be served with dessert. If you have a good wine merchant, another wine you might ask for is an “off-dry” (meaning slightly sweet) version of Chenin Blanc. The more you exrmnieept, the more you will learn what pleases you.

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