New White Wines for Summer

There are so many white wines beyond Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. Here are some less familiar white grapes and wines to taste this summer:

Albariño

Albariño is grown in the Rías Baixas region in northwest Spain. You’ll also find it in Portugal, where it is called Alvarinho. Albariño produces dry and fragrant wines that are high in acidity with moderate alcohol.
Try: Paco & Lola Albariño ($20)

Assyrtiko

Indigenous to the Greek island of Santorini, this grape produces light bodied and fresh wines with apple and pear flavors and high acidity. Pair this wine with mezze, shellfish or grilled white fish.
Try: Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini 2011 ($20)

Gewurztraminer

Imagine yourself sticking your nose into a bouquet of flowers and taking a sniff — that’s the sensation you’ll have when taking a sniff of this lush and aromatic wine. Gewurztraminer is grown in Germany, Austria and Alsace, France, and produces off dry to sweet wines with flavors of rose, jasmine, honeysuckle, apricot and lychee.
Try: Trimbach Gewurztraminer ($22)

Grüner Veltliner

This dry Austrian wine is made for summer parties. Extremely versatile, it can pair with all sorts of foods ranging from shellfish to spicy Asian cuisine. Grüner Veltliner has citrus and stone fruit flavors, crisp acidity and gentle minerality.
Try: Zocker Grüner Veltliner 2011 ($20)

Marsanne and Roussanne

These French grapes are often blended together and with other white wine grapes like Grenache Blanc or Viognier. Marsanne and Roussanne come from the Rhône region in southern France. It is also found in California’s Central Coast, particularly in Paso Robles. Marsanne and Roussanne produce aromatic wines with floral notes.
Try: Halter Ranch Côtes de Paso Blanc 2010 ($24)

Picpoul de Pinet

Picpoul de Pinet comes from the Languedoc region in southwest France. It is made from the Picpoul (or Piquepoul) grape. This wine is light, crisp and refreshing, perfect for an afternoon outdoors or with shellfish.
Try: HB Picpoul de Pinet 2010 ($12)

Riesling

Don’t think that Riesling has to be sweet. Dry Riesling is wonderfully aromatic and flavorful, as well as very food friendly. And since it’s the Summer of Riesling, now is the perfect time to enjoy this wine. Riesling is grown all over the world, from Germany, Austria and Alsace to Washington, New York and Chile.
Try: Dr Heidemanns Bernkastel Kabinett ($15)

Torrontes

If you’re a fan of Sauvignon Blanc but want to try something different, try this white from Argentina. Similar in taste and in body, Torrontes has elegant floral aromas and flavors with a touch of citrus.
Try: Filus Torrontes 2010 ($11)

Verdejo

Verdejo is grown in the Rueda region in west-central Spain. It produces a light and refreshing white wine that has floral and tropical fruit notes.
Try: Tapeña Verdejo ($10)

Viognier

This French grape has just the right mix of dry and sweet. It comes from the Rhône region of France and is grown all over the globe. Viognier produces wines with low acidity, floral notes and flavors of ripe pineapple, guava, mango, peach and sweet lemon.
Try: Biltmore Estate North Carolina Viognier 2010 ($16)

Tickets on Sale for HOToberFest 2012

Hotlanta meets Oktoberfest at this event that celebrates craft beers, live music and the Earth. Taking place on October 6th in the Historic Fourth Ward Park, HOToberFest is part free neighborhood festival and part ticketed beer tasting — and it just happens to be the nation’s largest consumer-judged craft beer competition.

This year HOToberFest will offer tastes of more than 225 craft, rare, seasonal and aged beers from around the world. Attendees will vote on their favorites using a free electronic Smart Phone balloting system via a web link or optimized iPhone App. In addition to helping locate and rank the beers, the app will store the information on the beers for later use.

Serious beer fans will want to purchase VIP tickets for the chance to taste true one-of-a-kind beers — Firkins and Wood Aged styles brewed exclusively for HOToberFest.

Click here to see the list of top beers from HOToberFest 2011. Click here to see photos from previous years.

Beer is certainly the highlight, but HOToberFest’s focus is a sustainable Earth. The event has been organized to promote sustainability and conscious choices that help balance the use of natural resources, and it raises funds to support the efforts of non-profit groups that share these beliefs. HOToberFest benefits Trees Atlanta, the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy and Legacy World Missions.

HOToberFest begins at noon with food trucks. The VIP tasting starts at 2pm, and the general tasting starts at 3pm.

General admission tickets are $30 in advance ($40 at the event) and VIP tickets are $75 in advance. Get your VIP tickets early as they have sold out the last two years. Click here to purchase tickets online.

If you want to support the cause but don’t want to participate in the beer tasting, food and drinks will be available for purchase from vendors.

HOToberFest will be held on October 6, 2012 in the Historic Fourth Ward Park on North Avenue in Atlanta. 12pm to 7pm.

AG Pick: Zocker Gruner Veltliner 2011

Grüner Veltliner is the kind of wine you crave on a hot day. It’s an ideal summer white, going well with a variety of foods including seafood, sandwiches and salads, hard to pair vegetables like artichokes and asparagus, or Asian or spicy cuisine. You can enjoy it with a backyard barbecue or simply on its own while relaxing on the patio.

One Grüner Veltliner to search out this summer is the Zocker Grüner Veltliner 2011.

It is rare to find Grüner Veltliner grown outside of Austria – a reason why the Zocker Grüner Veltliner is special. But what makes this California wine outstanding is its taste.

Zocker grows Grüner Veltliner and Riesling in the Edna Valley, located in California’s Central Coast AVA. The terroir of the Niven family’s Paragon Vineyard is similar to northern Austria and perfectly suited for the high acidity grapes.

With a name that means “gambler” in German, Zocker took a bit of a risk growing a variety that is uncommon in the United States. But it is clear that their gamble paid off.

Veteran French winemaker Christian Roguenant has produced a wine that is the ultimate expression of Grüner Veltliner. Fruit, mineral and spice blend together harmoniously for a crisp and elegant sip.

Enticing aromas of citrus and melon lure you in. Meyer lemon, honeydew and white peach flavors are enhanced with a touch of white pepper and crushed shell minerality.

The Zocker Grüner Veltliner has a lovely roundness to its taste and texture, with a pleasant, slightly oily feel that coats the mouth. Racy acidity tickles the tongue, and the finish is clean and satisfying.

A bottle of the Zocker Grüner Veltliner 2011 costs approximately $20.

13.5% alcohol by volume

In Georgia Zocker is distributed by Prime Wine & Spirits. Visit their website to find restaurants and retailers where Zocker is available.

More White Wines | Red WinesUnder $20

Chocolate South: Handcrafted Treats with a Southern Flair

Now open in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood, Chocolate South offers a selection of handcrafted chocolate indulgences using the finest ingredients.

Architect by career and chocolatier by passion, owner Amy Stankus has been perfecting her chocolates since 2004. A native of Mississippi who has called Atlanta home since the mid-1980s, Amy infuses her southern heritage into both the chocolates and the boutique.

Each chocolate takes days to make and is truly a piece of art. There is great attention to detail, from the shimmering shell of the Green Tea with Mint bonbon to the alligator print of the Mississippi Mud.Southern Gardens chocolatesTea Time chocolates

Taste is most important and here Amy excels too. She selects special tempered Valrhona chocolate for each of her creations and uses organic cream in the ganache. These give the chocolates a delicately crisp shell and a luxuriously rich inside.

Great Southern Getaway chocolates

Try the Peach Tea – locally-produced Georgia Peaches Tea from Just Add Honey is infused into cream and blended with dark chocolate and surrounded with a dark chocolate shell. Or try the Honey Ginger – ginger-infused cream is mixed with local honey, dark chocolate and crystallized ginger bits in a dark chocolate shell that resembles a gemstone.

The selection of chocolates will grow over the coming months. Amy plans a line of chocolates inspired by southern celebrities, including Elvis, Dolly Parton and Ted Turner.

There is savory in addition to the sweet. Amy makes vegan muffins, pimento cheese sandwiches and egg and olive salad sandwiches, which she sells at the shop.Chocolate South

There is also picked okra, cheese straws, loose tea and greeting cards, all made by people whom Amy knows. And there’s art on display too — beautiful wooden bowls made by Amy’s husband Roman, and coming soon to the walls, paintings from local artists.

Chocolate South: a one-of-a-kind chocolate boutique and much more.

Chocolate South, 1050 Marietta Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30318
404.815.8859, chocolatesouth.com

Get Inspired by Biltmore’s Century Wines & Win a Weekend Getaway

This summer bring a taste of Biltmore to your table – and enter for a chance to win a wine and culinary weekend at the Asheville, North Carolina estate.

Biltmore produces a range of white, red, rosé and sparkling wines using grapes grown in North Carolina and California. The Biltmore Century Collection, first released in 1999 to commemorate Biltmore’s 100th anniversary, are among their most popular wines.

The Biltmore Century Collection was crafted to be fun, approachable and delicious, and to enable people to re-live their Biltmore experience at home. Each wine comes in an etched bottle depicting the Biltmore House.

The Biltmore Century White Wine is an aromatic blend of Gewurztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Riesling and Symphony (an American viticulturalist-created cross of Muscat and Grenache Gris). The majority of the grapes came from California, with a small percentage from the estate’s vineyards in North Carolina. The wine is light and refreshing with gently sweet flavors of lemon, lime, honeydew, lychee and rose. The Biltmore Century White Wine is enjoyable as an aperitif or with Asian or spicy cuisine.

The Biltmore Century Rosé is a blend of Syrah and Grenache from California. Light magenta in color, the wine has off-dry flavors of raspberry, strawberry and violet. It’s a great wine for brunch or for sipping outdoors on the patio. Serve it with turkey, pork or white fish.

The Italian-style Biltmore Century Red Wine is a fruit forward blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Zinfandel from central and northern California. The wine spent 10 to 18 months in French and American oak barrels. Smooth and easy to drink, this red has flavors of boysenberry, black cherry and plum, with a touch of vanilla and smoke. It’s great with hamburgers, steaks or barbecue.

The Biltmore Century wines are priced around $15 per bottle. They can be purchased at wine shops or online. Click here to find a retailer near you.

Let one of Biltmore’s Century wines inspire your meal for the chance to win a culinary and wine weekend at Biltmore!

Submit your best original recipe (appetizer, entrée or dessert) and recommend one of Biltmore’s three Century Wines to pair with it. Submissions will be presented before a panel of Biltmore’s top chefs. For more information and to enter the contest visit www.biltmore.com/recipecontest. The contest runs through August 31st.

Here are the prizes:

Grand Prize Winner Receives a Culinary & Wine Weekend at Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina
— Two night accommodations at the Inn on Biltmore Estate for winner and one guest (1 room/double occupancy)
— Two length-of-stay daytime admission tickets to the estate grounds
— Chef’s breakfast buffet daily at the Inn on Biltmore Estate
— One lunch for two up to $100 value at Stable Café on Biltmore Estate
— One dinner for two at Bistro on Biltmore Estate up to $150 value at Biltmore
— A private winery tour and tasting, guided tour of estate vineyards and Field-to-Table garden on west side of estate
— One $200 pre-paid gift card to supplement travel expenses
— Recipe will be featured on the menu of an estate restaurant and on Biltmore.com

Two First Place Winners Will Receive Wine & Food Pairing Dinner at a local restaurant
— Dinner for winner and three guests at a local restaurant nearby winner’s place of residence up to $300 value
— Where legal and available, wine and associated corkage fees will be provided by company to pair with meal
— Recipe will be featured on Biltmore.com

Fan Favorite: The three recipes with the most votes in each category will receive:
— Biltmore-inspired food and wine prize pack
— Recipe featured on Biltmore.com

Click here to enter the Biltmore Savor Summer recipe contest

AG Pick: Eppa SupraFruta Sangria

This summer there is a new spin on sangria. Introducing Eppa SupraFruta Sangria, a refreshing red wine drink made with antioxidant-rich superfruits.

The red wine in Eppa Sangria is a blend of organically grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from Mendocino California. This wine is blended with organic superfruit juices including pomegranates, blueberries, Mediterranean blood oranges and açaí berries.

These fruit flavors combine for a drink that is smooth and rich with a nice sweet taste. A great party drink, Eppa SupraFruta Sangria is ideal for an outdoor picnic or an evening with friends.

Serve Eppa SupraFruta Sangria over ice with slices of orange, lemon or apple. You can even add a splash of soda water or a shot of vodka or gin.

Eppa SupraFruta Sangria is available at Whole Foods and costs $12 a bottle.

8.5% alcohol by volume

More Red Wines | White Wines | More Under $20

A Look Inside Czar Ice Bar

Has the summer in Atlanta got you searching for someplace cool? Check out the Czar Ice Bar, a new hot spot in Buckhead’s East Andrews Entertainment District.

Czar Ice Bar has the feel of a Russian oligarch’s living room, complete with framed portraits, long couches and chandeliers.

No winter coats are necessary to enter. The “ice bar” is exactly that — a long glowing slab of ice that makes up the bar.

Czar Ice Bar is a vodka fan’s paradise. On the menu and behind the bar are hundreds of vodkas from around the world. Order a flight to taste a few, or try one of the specialty martinis.

The Czar Martini is a take on the classic martini with Imperia 8 times distilled and 6 times filtered vodka, a hint of Dolin dry vermouth and blue cheese stuffed olives. If you’re looking for something more adventurous try the 7even-7even-0h, made with Russian Standard vodka, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur and fresh grapefruit juice. There is even a tribute to Georgia – the Sweet Georgia Peach Martini is made with 360 Georgia Peach vodka, Southern Comfort, fresh orange juice and Cherry Herring liquor.

For big spenders there is the Swarovski Czar Martini, a $400 martini. HDW CLIX 159 times distilled vodka is gently stirred with a hint of Dolin dry vermouth and served with caviar stuffed olives in a take home Swarovski crystal martini glass.

If anything – or anyone – can compete with the massive list of vodkas, it is master sushi chef Saito Saito. His ornate rolls are arranged artfully on the plate. Try the Rock and Roll (eel, avocado, red and green caviar, red pepper, scallions and barbecue sauce), or the Red Square (spicy tuna, asparagus and spicy sweet chili sauce).

If you prefer your sushi a little less showy, try the Mixed Fish Ceviche. Tuna, salmon and white tuna are topped with spicy peppers, scallions, cilantro, onion and a light and tangy citrus dressing.

Czar Ice Bar is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, from 11am to 2:30am.

Czar Ice Bar, 56 East Andrews Drive Northwest # 10, Atlanta 30305.
(404) 869-1132

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Summer Menu at Briza

This summer is the perfect time to discover – or rediscover – Briza. With new dishes added to the summer menu, Executive Chef Janine Falvo continues to demonstrate why the Midtown Atlanta restaurant is one of the best spots in the city for a special meal.

At Briza Chef Falvo serves farm-to-table fare with a Southern flair using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. When you speak with Chef Falvo or taste her food you can tell she’s passionate about what she does.

On the new summer menu Chef Falvo adds a southern twist to raw oysters with a green tomato mignonette. The mignonette has a kick of spice from black pepper and complements the delicate Beau Soleil oysters.

Juicy pieces of watermelon add a refreshing taste of summer to the Heirloom Tomato Salad. Burrata cheese melts in your mouth and basil “caviar” (basil seeds) adds a surprisingly delightful crunch.

A standout among the entrees is the 48 Hour Short Rib. The short rib is cooked sous-vide for two days and served with Vidalia onion puree, rattlesnake beans and stone fruit watercress salad. One of Chef Falvo’s favorite dishes on the menu, the short rib is dense and richly flavored.

Chef Falvo is very conscious about food and wine pairings, in part from working eight years as a chef in Sonoma. She brings her appreciation of California’s wine to Briza, whose wine list includes a nice selection of the state’s whites, reds and rosés, available by the glass or bottle.

Chef Falvo has created some dishes specifically to pair with certain wines. Try the 2009 Buena Vista Pinot Noir with the Alaskan Halibut — both are outstanding and pair wonderfully together.

For dessert try the Sour Cream Pound Cake crafted by pastry supervisor Valerie Tyes. It is prepared like French toast and served with grilled Georgia peaches, spicy peanut brittle and a scoop of peaches and cream ice cream.

Briza, adjacent to the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel at 866 West Peachtree Street NW in Midtown Atlanta. (678) 412-2402.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner served daily, Sunday brunch.

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