AG Pick: Helfrich Crémant d’Alsace

A birthday. An anniversary. A Wednesday. If you’re looking for a Champagne alternative to celebrate a special occasion or are just in the mood for a glass of bubbly, try a bottle of the Helfrich Crémant d’Alsace Brut. Made using the traditional method like Champagne but costing around $20, it’s a bottle you can enjoy any night of the week.

Helfrich Cremant d'AlsaceCrémant is sparkling wine from France that is made outside of the Champagne region. As indicated by the name, this sparkling wine comes from Alsace, located east of Champagne near the border with Germany. The grapes for the Helfrich Crémant d’Alsace come from a vineyard located at the foot of the Vosges Mountains.

Helfrich Cremant d'AlsaceCrémant may be made with a variety of different grapes, not just the ones used in Champagne (those would be Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). The Helfrich Crémant d’Alsace is 100% Pinot Blanc, a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir that thrives in the Alsace region.

Click here for more information on Crémant

This dry sparkling wine is straw yellow in color and has subtle lemon aromas. The citrus notes expand on the palate, with flavors of fresh lemon, white grapefruit, white flowers and toast. With its small bubbles, the Crémant is delicate and fresh in the mouth and culminates in a crisp finish.

In addition to being enjoyed as an aperitif, the Helfrich Crémant d’Alsace can be paired with a variety of foods including seafood, shellfish, hot and cold soups, salads and fruit-based desserts.

$20, 12.1% alcohol by volume

White Wines | Red Wines | Under $20

A New Era for the Old Vinings Inn

Old is new at the Old Vinings Inn. A longtime landmark on Paces Mill Road, the restaurant is beginning a new era, with new management and a new executive chef.

Old Vinings InnIt’s an evolution, not a revolution, according to new owner Lee Schulman. Since the transition in mid April the Old Vinings Inn hasn’t missed a beat, offering simple yet satisfying upscale southern cuisine.

Though Executive Chef Don Diem has added his touch to the menu, longtime diners will still recognize the Old Vinings Inn. At the same time, it gives new diners a reason to choose it for a special night out.

The Old Vinings Inn is the total package — a charming setting in a historic building, friendly and attentive staff, and delicious southern food. Even the yeast rolls are tasty. Topped with melted honey butter, you’ll have a tough time eating just one.

charcuterie plateIn addition to wines offered by the glass and bottle, Old Vinings Inn has a tempting selection of cocktails. Try the Old Vinings Inn Plantation Punch, made with St. Germain, Campari, champagne and fresh grapefruit juice. Or try the Chattahoochee, made with Jim Beam, St. Germain, ginger beer, lemon juice and bitters.

To start, try the Charcuterie Plate. It comes with a selection of house pickled vegetables, salumi, cheese, flatbread and a generous serving of Chef Diem’s pimento cheese, a real guilty pleasure.

gulf coast oystersNot to be missed are the Blue Corn Crusted Gulf Coast Oysters. Big and juicy, they’re perfectly cooked and bursting with flavor.

For the main course, try the Pecan Mountain Trout. The pecans add a wonderful flavor and texture to the fish. The Pan Seared Lamb Lollipops offer a touch of sweet with savory. They’re served with a wild mushroom and leek farmhouse bread pudding.

If you want to stay more traditional, go for the Buttermilk Fried Chicken or the Shrimp & Grits.

peach pieYou’ll have a hard time choosing among the side dishes, but make sure the Pot Likker Collards are one of them. They just may be some of the best collard greens you’ll find in Atlanta.

If you have room for dessert try the Farmhouse Peach Pie, which comes with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

The night doesn’t have to end when you get the check. Head upstairs to the cozy Attic Bar for a digestif. There’s live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night starting at 9pm.

Old Vinings Inn, 3011 Paces Mill Road, Atlanta, 30339. (770) 438-2282
Dinner Monday through Thursday from 5pm to 9pm; Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 10pm. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30am to 3pm.
The Attic Bar is open beginning at 5pm.

Chateau Miraval Rosé: Worth It?

The hottest rosé to get your hands on this summer is the Miraval Côtes du Provence Rosé. Made by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in partnership with the Perrin family, the first cases to arrive in the United States sold out right away.

Chateau MIraval RoseThe new shipment has arrived on US shores and you’ll find it at numerous wine stores in Atlanta. But costing around $30 a bottle is it worth it?

Here are the AG’s tasting notes:

Location: Château Miraval extends over 500 hectares in the Côtes du Provence appellation. The Château is located in the town of Correns, north of Brignoles in southern France. Grapes for the rosé came from the organically-farmed Chateau and a selection of neighboring vineyards.

Grapes: The 2012 wine is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Rolle. The grapes were hand picked and hand sorted. Five percent of the wine spent time in barrels with batonnage (stirring of the lees).

Miraval RoseAppearance: Starting with the shapely bottle and minimal labeling, this is an eye-catching wine. You can’t help but be attracted to the color of the rosé: a lovely pale pink.

Nose: The Miraval Rosé has subtle aromas of pink grapefruit, white raspberry and rose. It’s not as aromatic as other rosé wines recently tasted by the AG.

Taste: Dry and elegant, the wine has flavors of raspberry, wild strawberry, grapefruit and lemon. Light in body with gentle mineral notes and a crisp finish, this is a rosé for white wine drinkers. There was a little heat on the finish (the wine is 13% alcohol by volume), which faded over time in the glass.

Verdict: This is a very nice rosé from Provence but take away the celebrity and it would be priced more in the $17 to $19 range. The Miraval Rosé won’t likely become your every day sipping rosé, but at $30 a bottle it’s fun to taste and well worth trying it for yourself.

Want more Miraval? A white wine from Château Miraval is expected to be released this fall, and a red wine is coming in spring 2014.

More Rosé Wines | White Wines | Red Wines

Chimney Rock: Showcasing Stags Leap

Driving along the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District, you can’t miss Chimney Rock’s bright white Cape Dutch-style estate. Though the building was influenced by architecture in South Africa (where the original owner worked as an executive at Pepsi Cola), the wine has always been true to place.

Chimney Rock“Our wine should paint a picture of the appellation,” said Elizabeth Vianna, Chimney Rock’s winemaker. Elizabeth visited Atlanta in June and shared the winery’s history and a taste of their current releases.

Hack and Stella Wilson purchased what was then the Chimney Rock golf course in 1980. They dug up the first nine holes with the ideal of making small production, high quality estate-grown wine. Today Chimney Rock is owned by the Terlato family who, in partnership with the Wilsons in 2001, dug up the second nine holes to plant more vines. Elizabeth joined as winemaker in 2002.

Chimney Rock’s focus is on red wine, Bordeaux varieties in particular. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and a small amount of Malbec are grown on their Stags Leap District estate. Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris are grown just north in Rutherford. The goal is to grow the best fruit possible. To achieve this Elizabeth is very active in the vineyards, pruning vines and monitoring the grapes’ growth.

Elizabeth’s passion for wine and winemaking is clear when she speaks about Chimney Rock. “I think about this as abstract art,” she said, “because it’s about shape, about texture.”

Chimney Rock winesThe artistry comes in once the grapes have been harvested – blending the grapes, stirring the lees and determining the use of oak – to produce high quality wines that capture the essence of the Stags Leap District.

“I think there’s an honesty to our wines. We want to be truthful to the vintage and place.”

With the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Elizabeth aimed to showcase the purity of the fruit. The wine was fermented in stainless steel, and did not spend time in oak or undergo malolactic fermentation. There was some stirring of the lees to give the wine a more creamy mouthfeel.

You won’t find grassy notes in this wine. The 2012 Chimney Rock Sauvignon Blanc is fresh and lively, with crisp flavors of stone fruit, white peach and golden pear.

Elevage BlancRich, lush and layered are the adjectives that come to mind when describing the 2010 Elevage Blanc. The Bordeaux-style white wine is a blend of 88% Sauvignon Blanc and 12% Sauvignon Gris. New and used French oak as well as lees stirring were used to enhance the flavors and texture.

The Elevage Blanc is wonderfully aromatic and velvety smooth. Mouth-filling flavors of white apricot, nectarine and lemon meringue are layered with white flowers, chamomile and a hint of vanilla. This is a wine that can age for an additional five to fifteen years.

Elizabeth’s objective with the 2009 Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon was to show off Stags Leap District fruit. The wine spent 18 to 20 months in French oak barrels, and has a small percentage of Merlot.

The 2009 Chimney Rock Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon is intense yet refined. Aromas of black cherry introduce a palate of ripe dark fruit. Blackberry, cassis and plum mix with sweet cedar and vanilla. It’s smooth and supple in the mouth, and culminates in a satisfying finish with lingering berry notes.

ElevageWhile the Stags Leap District Cabernet is all about the fruit of the AVA, the 2010 Elevage is all about the texture, according to Elizabeth. The proprietary red is a blend of 56% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot (the percentages of grapes vary each year in both the Elevage and Elevage Blanc). The wine was aged in 100% new oak barrels from Burgundy, selected because they impart more elegance to the wine.

The 2010 Elevage is a wine to plan your meal around. Soft, velvety smooth and sophisticated, it’s the most feminine of Chimney Rock’s red wines. The Elevage has delicate flavors of cassis, blackberry and boysenberry, woven together with layers of black pepper, black tea and vanilla. Big tannins are balanced by the wine’s acidity. Ending with a long finish, the Elevage is a pleasure to sip. This wine can age for an additional 8 to 10 years.

For more information on Chimney Rock visit www.chimneyrock.com.

Bottle shots of Elevage and Elevage Blanc from Chimney Rock’s website

AG Pick: Bacalhôa Moscatel de Setúbal

And now for something sweet: the Bacalhôa Moscatel de Setúbal 2009, a fortified wine from Portugal. Aromatic and rich with citrus and nutty flavors, it is a decadent post-dinner drink.

Bacalhoa Moscatel de SetubalAs indicated by its name, the wine was made entirely from the Moscatel de Setúbal grape. Fermentation was stopped early by the addition of aguardente (a neutral spirit made from grapes, similar to brandy), which preserved the sugar while raising the alcohol content. The wine spent time aging in small used oak casks.

Golden amber in color, the Bacalhôa Moscatel de Setúbal has aromas of orange blossom, dried fruits and toasted almond. The taste is sweet without being cloying, with flavors of dried apricot, fig and plum layered with toffee, hazelnut, caramel and black tea. The texture is silky smooth, with good acidity keeping each sip fresh and bright. The finish is long and lingering, with warm notes of lemon and candied orange peel.

The Bacalhôa Moscatel de Setúbal should be served slightly chilled (50 to 55 °F or 10 to 12 °C), making it perfect for the warmer summer months. And with a price tag of less than $20 a bottle, you won’t feel guilty indulging in a glass on a weeknight.

Enjoy the Bacalhôa Moscatel de Setúbal with crème caramel, dark chocolate or ripe strawberries, or on its own as a digestif. Add a lemon peel and it’s a delicious apéritif.

$15, 17.5% alcohol by volume

White Wines | Red Wines | More Under $20

Where to Celebrate July 4th in Atlanta

fireworksThe Fourth of July is all about fun, friends, fireworks — and food! Whether you’re looking to dine out on Independence Day or want to bring a feast home, here are the top holiday eats in Atlanta.

Buckhead

Southern Art

Outdoor Barbecue: The Southern-inspired restaurant will be hosting a gourmet barbecue outdoors on the patio featuring Memphis-style barbecue, brews and more from noon to 4pm. Be sure to stop by Bourbon Bar to enjoy an All-American tipple.
3315 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta 30326
(404) 946-9070, southernart.com

Downtown

Game-X

Game-XPlay, Drink and Dine: Finger foods like dead-heat hummus and wings of fortune are available throughout the day. Gamers can play Pac-Man Smash, NBA Hoops and plenty of other favorites. Once the sun sets, guests can watch the fireworks from the city’s new Ferris wheel, SkyWheel Atlanta, conveniently located near Game-X.
275 Baker St NW, Atlanta 30313
(404) 525-0728, gamexatl.com

 

Ventanas

Music and Fireworks: Ventanas is teaming up with Q100 for a night full of music, food and drinks. The $26 ticket includes hors d’oeuvres and a complimentary well drink. The indoor event will keep guests cool while they dance to music played by the night’s DJ. With fireworks at eye level, Ventanas is the premiere location to watch the Atlanta skyline light up. The party starts at 6pm and fireworks will begin as soon as the sun sets. Guests who purchase tickets will also receive a $5 play card to use at Game-X before the event. Call or visit their website to purchase tickets.
275 Baker Street, Atlanta 30313
(404) 766-3867, ventanas.com

Glenwood Park

Gunshow

BBQ to Go: Chef Kevin Gillespie’s Gunshow is offering barbecue-to-go packages for four, filled with Southern classics. Dishes include a quart of whole hog, pulled pork and Brunswick stew, a pint of coleslaw, eight buns, dill pickles, saltine crackers and cookies. The cost is $50 plus tax and diners can reserve by Saturday, June 29 to guarantee pickup between noon and 3pm on Thursday, July 4th. A few extra packages will also be available at the restaurant, but reservations are highly recommended.
924 Garrett Street SE, Suite C, Atlanta 30316
(404) 380-1886, gunshowatl.com

Inman Park

The Albert

Dine In and Takeout Rib Special: Guests are invited to enjoy The Albert’s $16 rib special, which includes a full rack with sides of savory creamed corn and baked beans. For those who prefer to celebrate at home, a takeout special will also be available for $30 and includes two full racks of ribs with sides of creamed corn and baked beans. All takeout orders must be placed by July 2nd.
918 Austin Avenue, Atlanta 30307
(404) 872-4990, www.thealbertatlanta.com

Midtown

Cucina Asellina

Cucina AsellinaJuly 4th Edition of POP! Brunch on Sunday, July 7th: Throughout the day guests are invited to relax on Cucina’s scenic, dog-friendly patio while sipping on $4 Tito’s Bacon Bloody Marys and enjoying delicious POP! Brunch menu items like wood fire baked eggs, salmon tartare, housemade yogurt and more, with DJ Dillon spinning tunes.
1075 Peachtree Street, Atlanta 30309
(404) 793-0141, togrp.com/togrp-cucina-asellina-atlanta

 

Cypress Street Pint and Plate

Free Brunch for Peachtree Runners: Following the Peachtree Road Race at 9am, any participating runner or walker that brings in their race number will receive their meal free of charge.
817 West Peachtree, Suite E-125, Atlanta 30308
(404) 815-9243, www.cypressbar.com

 

Marlow’s Tavern

Red, White and Brew Menu: Now through Monday, July 29th, a selection of patriotic plates, hand-crafted cocktails and local brews are available to diners. The “Red, White and Brew” menu celebrates summer in the U.S.A. with dishes and beverages like the beach house bruschetta and the summertime watermelon margarita. The restaurant is also hosting the Fourth Annual Marlow’s Tavern Grilling Recipe Contest, where grill-masters can submit their best recipe for a chance to win a Big Green Egg and other prizes.
950 West Peachtree St NW #215, Atlanta 30309
(404) 815-0323, marlowstavern.com

 

Olmstead

Celebrate Early: Atlantans can rise and shine for a tasty day to celebrate America and the Peachtree Road Race. Bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys will be offered for $14, while an a la carte menu will be served starting at 7am.
1180 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta 30309
(404) 443-8431, olmstedatl.com

 

Rí Rá Irish Pub

The Great Guinness Road Race Giveaway: Starting at 9am, the Irish Pub will featuring 5-cent pints of Guinness for Peachtree Road Race competitors (first 90 pints, max two pints per runner), 20% off food for all and a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar.
1080 Peachtree St NE #1, Atlanta 30309
(404) 477-1700, www.rira.com/atlanta

 

Woody’s

Open Early for the Race: Woody’s will open at 7am on the 4th to serve those running and watching the Peachtree Road Race. Woody’s will be serving its All-American menu of Philly-style cheesesteaks and other submarine sandwiches, hot dogs and potato chips, with locally brewed SweetWater 420 and Red Hare beer on tap, premium ice cream for shakes or splits and frozen treats from the King of Pops. Starting on the 4th Woody’s will begin serving Frozen Pints.
981 Monroe Drive NE, Atlanta 30308
(404) 876-1939, woodys.com

Morningside

Woodfire Grill

Annual BBQ & Beer Party: Executive Chef Tyler Williams of Woodfire Grill is preparing a star-studded barbecue feast on Wednesday, July 3 from 5:30 to 11pm. Guests can load up their plates with watermelon, skillet cornbread with butter, pork butt, chicken thigh and beef brisket served with Carolina mustard vinegar, pepper vinegar and sweet Memphis-style sauces. All-American sides include coleslaw, potato salad, deviled eggs and green beans with bacon. Pastry Chef Karie Brown is preparing peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream for dessert. SweetWater 420 drafts are available for $6 and proceeds from sales are being donated to “Save the Hooch,” a campaign started by Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewery in 2005 to advocate and secure the protection and stewardship of the Chattahoochee River, its tributaries and watershed. The cost is $38 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Reservations are required and seating is limited.
1782 Cheshire Bridge Rd, Atlanta 30324
(404) 347-9055, woodfiregrill.com

Virginia Highland

Atkins Park Restaurant & Bar

Sixth Annual Go Whole Hog or Go Home Fourth of July Party: For $15 guests can enjoy a meat-and-three meal for lunch or dinner. The Backyard Beer Olympics starts at 3pm and games include Ping-Pong, ladder toss, cornhole and darts. Registration for teams of two is free, and over $500 in prizes is up for grabs.
794 N Highland Ave NE  Atlanta 30306
(404) 876-7249, atkinspark.com

 

D.B.A Barbecue

Fourth of July Catering Packages: Looking for a way to enjoy an All-American backyard barbecue without the hassle of cooking? This 4th of July let D.B.A. Barbecue cater your cookout. Call or visit their website to place an order for a catering package that includes:

DBA barbecue• The Smoked Chicken Wings Platter: With Blue Cheese and Celery Plain, BBQ, Buffalo, or Lemon Pepper. 50 wings for $45; 75 wings for $60; 100 wings for $80; and 250 wings for $190.
The Big Game Platter: Two pounds of pulled pork, Boiled Peanuts, 50 wings, and one full rack of individually cut Spare Ribs. Feeds 4 for $75.
Smoke-n-fried Chicken: Smoked then battered and fried chicken. Twelve pieces with 4 muffins, any two sides and banana pudding. Feeds 4 for $45.
Tailgate Package: 4 pounds pulled pork, 4 racks spare ribs, 4 bone in chickens, 3 quarts baked beans, 3 quarts potato salad, 3 quarts coleslaw, 3 quarts banana pudding, with sternos and stands. Feeds 15 for $250.

SweetWater Tap Takeover: Beginning on July 4th at 11:30am, D.B.A. will host a SweetWater Tap Takeover through July 7th, featuring SweetWater 420, IPA, Blue, LowRYEder, Georgia Brown, Waterkeeper Hefeweizen, and Road Trip. On July 5th, 10% of all dine-in sales will benefit SweetWater’s Chattahoochee Riverkeeper efforts.
1190 N. Highland Avenue NE Suite B Atlanta 30306
(404) 249-5000, www.dbabarbecue.com

West Midtown

Bone Lick BBQ

Red, White + ‘Cue: Bone Lick BBQ is excited to invite friends and fellow barbecue aficionados to the inaugural edition of their Fourth of July Rooftop BBQ Bonanza. The special event, featuring live music, a whole hog roast, kiddie pools and more, will kick off atop the Apex building at 12pm. As guests sip on ice-cold brews, Chef Mike LaSage will serve up his award winning ‘cue, complete with all of the fixings. Red White + ‘Cue attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in a Twinkie eating competition for the chance to win a variety of prizes courtesy of PBR and Bone Lick BBQ. When the sun sets, guests will experience 360-degree views of some of Atlanta’s best fireworks displays. Ample parking is available on the street and in a large parking deck accessible by an entrance located between Slice and Bone Lick BBQ.
1133 Huff Road NW, Atlanta 30318
(404) 343-6574, www.bonelickbarbecue.com

Decatur

No. 246

Table Tennis & Tipples: Guests are invited to celebrate the Fourth of July with a day of Ping-Pong and drink specials. The lunch menu will be served from 11am to 7pm and includes pizza, salads and sandwiches
129 E Ponce De Leon Ave, Decatur 30030
(678) 399-8246, no246.com

Atlanta Downtown Restaurant Week

Mark your calendars for the annual Atlanta Downtown Restaurant Week, a chance to check out some of the top dining spots in the heart of the city that kicks off later this month.

Atlanta Downtown Restaurant WeekFrom Saturday, July 27th through Sunday, August 4th more than 35 restaurants will be offering three course prix fixe lunch, brunch or dinner menus for $15, $25 or $35 per person, plus tax and gratuity.

Click here to see the participating restaurants and their menus

Reservations are recommended and may be made by calling the restaurant or by clicking here to book online at Open Table.

Coming up later this year is Midtown Atlanta Restaurant Week, taking place Saturday, September 7th through Sunday, September 15th.

Atlanta Downtown Restaurant Week, July 27 through August 4, 2013.