Fine Wine

Springtime White Wine That Will Rid You Of The Winter Blues

The taste of spring is tantalizing our taste buds even though it is likely a trick and Montana still plans on dumping another load of snow on springtime aspirations. The season may not be in full swing, but that does not mean there is a need to hold off on indulging in the succulent aromas and bouts of wonderfully warm weather. The grassy herb flavors of spring are fantastic but can also be a challenge to pair with wine. A few guidelines can assist you on your quest to combining the romance of wine and the reality of food. If your meal contains fresh leafy greens, think acidity and balancing the bitterness. Your wine should have more acidity than your food to avoid it tasting flat. If your food is sweet, it is prudent to pick a wine which is sweeter to ensure that your wine is not lost in the sweetness of your food. Here are a just a few of our springtime white wine favorites:

Domaine Romain Collet Chablis Les Pargues

Les Pargues sits between the vineyards of Montmains and Vaillons. Abandoned during the First World War, Les Pargues was ‘declassified’ to standard Chablis, but after the Second World War, the family began to restore it to its former glory. Now, 50-year-old vines deliver wines of impressive concentration. The honeyed minerals of this Chablis are urging a springtime combination. It has a medium body, fantastic tension, and a long dry finish. Its present minerals combined with lemon acidity will make this wine a great addition to many springtime meals without over (or underwhelming) its consumer. Serve slightly chilled with fine cuisine; especially fresh oysters, sea bass, or white meats.

Brunn Gruner Veltliner

Brunn is a small, family-owned and operated winery that uses 100 percent estate grown fruit. After harvest, the grapes are fermented in small tanks with native yeasts, followed by maturation in neutral vats in subterranean cellars as one of Europe’s oldest traditional basket presses. This light to medium bodied wine is appreciated for its acidity and alluring aromas of green apple, citrus, and a crisp, tart finish enticing your palate. This quaint, squat bottle with the soda cap is a fantastic deal holding one liter. Even better than the value is the exceptional way it pairs with food: Pork, chicken, tuna, salmon, shellfish, and soft cheeses.

Mark Ryan Viognier

In the early years of Mark Ryan, the first vintages of Long Haul and Dead Horse were crushed and pressed in garages of friends and family, but their goal has remained the same: “Make delicious wines that represent the vineyard from which they come, making every vintage better than the last…” The Viognier is no exception. You are wafted with notes of orange blossom, lemon, subtle banana, and buttered bread up front. The neutral barrel aging offers hints of smoke while adding rich, broad flavors of knockout apricot, peach, citrus rind and minerals emerging from the glass. This medium-bodied springtime white wine has a luxuriant mouthfeel that is offset by the wine’s buoyant acidity, holding it together tightly with a finish impressive in length. The floral aromatics of this wine have an affinity to fruit and the scents in the wine will be more present when you try them with foods that use fruit, but it is also a wonderful wine to embrace on its own.

How to Choose Wine That You Love

Our main priority at City Vineyard is to help you decide how to choose wine that is best for you. After all, you are the most important judge of the wine you drink. We know that the wine selection at City Vineyard is vast and choosing a wine can be overwhelming, so giving you a balance of information and experience is our mission. Many of our customers learn the “lay of the land” quickly with our help. Others just walk through the door and ask us to choose a wine for them.  Some customers shop on a wine rating system.

Wine ratings may influence your decision, but the ultimate judgment is yours. Everyone has a different palate and different preferences, so basing purchases on wine ratings may not garner the perfect wine match for your tastes. Always read the tasting note to find out more. And when you do purchase for wine ratings’ sake, you’ll soon learn which publications or tasters possess your style of palate.

The wine rating system is a 100-point scale that has become the benchmark of quality in the wine industry. If you have ever looked around for good value ‘90-point’ wine, then you have used ratings. City Vineyard regularly has wine tasting where we bring in wines for under $20 that score 90+ points. The system does rate some aspects of wine quite well, including production quality, but there are a few inconsistencies that you should know about in order to shop smart. Wine ratings don’t necessarily indicate how delicious a wine is. Instead, wines are scored based on production quality and typicity. Typicity is how much the traits of a particular wine ‘typify’ the style and region it’s from.

The 100-point scale actually starts at 50 points (and some raters never include wines below 80):

50-59 wines are flawed and undrinkable
60-69 wines are flawed and not recommended but drinkable
70-79 wines are flawed and taste average
80-84 wines are ‘above average’ to ‘good’
85-90 wines are ‘good’ to ‘very good’
90-94 wines are ‘superior’ to ‘exceptional’
95-100 wines are benchmark examples or ‘classic’

The best way to consistently buy wine you like is to learn about what you like and why. Ratings can help you find quality wines from new regions, but if you stop into City Vineyard we’ll do the legwork and read between the lines to factor in personal style. The best tip on how to choose wine you love is to start learning about the wine regions you like and go beyond just scores. Our favorite way to find out what you love about wine is to taste it. We offer feature samples regularly or if you feel like you need a better fill, try a wine flight in the wine bar. We’ll see you here soon!

3 Easy Steps on How to Love Wine Correctly

Do you love wine? Are you wondering how you can develop your wine palate? Given all the complexity in the world of wine, the first answer is remarkably simple: Drink.

In moderation, of course, but on a regular basis. As with most learning, developing an appreciation for the distinctive aromas and flavors of wine begins with experience. Drink, read, watch, listen, write, drink some more, and more after that!

You Can Love Wine Even More With This Easy Guide

Here are three strategies for learning to appreciate the wine you already love – and for getting more enjoyment out of every sip.

Love Wine at the Right Temperature

To taste wines more fully, drink them at castle temperature – the temperature of a typical basement (from now on referred to as a cellar). Too much refrigeration can chill away the flavor of wines. In fact, try no refrigeration – for any wines, except sparkling. You may be surprised at how much more flavor that Chardonnay has.

Love Wine by Knowing the Categories

Learn the categories of taste experience: Tannin, oak, acidity, sugar, alcohol, and fruit. Tannin comes primarily from the skins of grapes and provides the structure for red wines. It can be astringent and potentially bitter. It is also abundant in tea, so to experience a direct dose of tannin, brew very rich black tea. Oak comes from the barrels that the wine ages in and often shows itself as a hint – or a dollop – of vanilla. Acidity, which provides the structure for white wines, tastes tart and tangy. Sugar, of course, tastes sweet. Alcohol is always in the wine glass but is often balanced with the fruit. If there’s too much alcohol and it’s out of balance with the fruit, it can leave a burning sensation on the finish, like the aftereffects of tequila. Which leaves the flavor profiles of the fruit – often the most complex experience in tasting wine, including fruit flavors but other flavors as well.

Love Wine By Drinking Slow

When drinking wine, take your time to savor the flavor and don’t be concerned about making noises. Smell wine in short intense sniffs. Taste slowly, aerating your mouth as you hold the wine in your mouth. While smelling and drinking the wine, think of familiar fruits, berries, nuts, and vegetables. Pay attention to the initial flavors (the attack), the flavor as the wine moves through your mouth (the mid-palate), and the lingering tastes after swallowing (the finish). A garden of earthly tastes waits to be detected and appreciated.

Simple Guide to Value Wines – More Than Just a Good Price!

Where should you look for the best wine values?  The answer is simple: All around you. At City Vineyard we have selected the best wines in an affordable price point for your convenience. Leave the guessing games at the big box retailers. We have the expertise, product knowledge and customer service you won’t find anywhere else around town.

Know What You Get With Value Wines

The ratio of quality to price is greatest in the $10 to $25 range. For those who wish to spend less, there are sound bottles available for less than $10. But is “sound” really what you’re searching for?  . . . Or do you want exciting and distinctive?  This often requires more labor-intensive, expensive farming and winemaking.

City Vineyard is willing to pay a little more because exciting wine is important to us. Something else to keep in mind – most wines in the under $25 price point are great values because they do not have the sort of pedigree that almost always raises prices. Many come from little-known regions, made from little-known grapes. Trying them requires a commitment to the unknown.

Fear not thrifty wine enthusiasts, City Vineyard is here to be the great wine shop with friendly professionals you trust!  This is crucial to finding a great wine shop. Even the biggest, recognized stores won’t have everything. American laws governing the distribution of alcoholic beverages virtually assure that every state will have a very different selection. If a wine merchant can’t find the exact bottle you are looking for, good wine merchants can often suggest something similar.

Trust us (and see above on keeping an open mind). In wine and in life, the best discoveries are often on the back roads.

Wine Feature – A New Year To Try New Things

New Year’s resolutions can be difficult to make, and even harder to keep up. The gym is the most crowded between January and March, and your fridge will be stocked with healthy food until all of the chocolates you get on Valentine’s Day, but one resolution you can definitely fulfill? Try new things, like new wine!

A New Year Means Time To Try New Things, Like Wine!

It’s a new year and you’re ready for a new you. If you love wine as much as we do, why not make some resolutions that speak to your true passion! Great wine! From wine lover to wine lover, here are a few New Year’s resolutions that we can happily commit ourselves to.

Drink More Wine

Join our Wine Club and you are well on your way to a glass a day. Our clubs are great for those looking to try new items, experience wines from different countries, or even start a wine collection. With two different levels of wine club, you can select the one that fits your desires.

Stop By Our Wine Bar And Sample Our Wines By The Glass

Wine club isn’t the only way to try new wines to keep up on your resolution! Our knowledgeable staff will guide you through each taste and maybe you’ll find a new favorite – or two.

Have Patience, Some Wines Get Better With Age

That bottle you’ve been dying to open? Give it a few more months for a real treat. Or to make it easy just buy two, one to drink and one to cellar. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how certain wines develop in the bottle.

Switch It Up

Do you usually drink red wine? Explore and treat your palate to a white wine for a change.

Share With friends

From childhood, partners and teachers tell us the same thing again and again – sharing is caring! And, after all, the best way to enjoy your favorite bottle of wine is with a group of friends.

Discover Perfect Pairings

A good meal becomes a great meal with the right wine.

Make More Time For Wine

Don’t chug, sip and savor. Appreciate each sip and learn to taste all the different flavors a single wine can offer – rich tannins intermingling with plum, blackberry, and toasty oak flavors. Or maybe cigar tobacco and raspberry nuances, lingering long after your glass of wine is empty.

In a city like Billings, there are many options to try new things for the New Year, but this resolution will not only be satisfying to your taste buds, but will also broaden your wine knowledge and bring out your inner sommelier to impress all of your friends and family.

This Wine Gift Giving Guide Will Make You the New Favorite

Looking for the perfect wine to give as a gift this year? You’re in luck! When it comes to wine, one (bottle) size fits all, doubles of the same wine are just fine, and if it’s not the perfect fit, wine is easy for the recipient to re-gift. Read on for our essential wine gift giving guide!

The Wine Gift Giving Guide That Will Help You Win the Holidays

Ideally you know the person’s taste preferences: Full-bodied or light, dry or sweet, red or white. However, if you don’t have any of that information, it can get tricky. When in doubt we say go for something unique, or maybe just something fun that your recipient has never tried! Here are our top picks for the Holidays this year.

  • Carménère (“car-men-nair”) is a medium-bodied red wine that originated in Bordeaux, France and now grows almost only in Chile. Carménère makes an excellent everyday food pairing wine for several reasons. For one, its natural higher acidity makes so it’s never lost when paired next to foods with higher acidity sauces. Another keen benefit is Carménère’s herbaceous peppercorn-like flavor that often embellishes roasted meats of all kinds.
  • Cabernet Franc (“Cab-err-nay fronk”) is medium-bodied red wine whose origins likely lie in the Basque country of France. The wine is loved for its savory, bell pepper-like flavors, medium-high acidity and mouthwatering taste. It is an ideal food pairing wine. You can find single-varietal Cabernet Franc wines, but the variety is also quite popular as a blending grape in the famous Bordeaux Blend.
  • Since Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in a wide range of climates and regions throughout the world, it has varied flavors. Fundamentally speaking, Cab is a full-bodied red wine with dark fruit flavors and savory tastes from black pepper to bell pepper. Our domestic section is full of fun colorful labels that make a statement under any tree.
  • Grower’s Champagne is sparkling wine crafted by grape growers and their families. It embodies those who grow grapes in their own vineyards and produce cuvées (aka sparkling wine blends) that reflect their distinct vineyards and style. They are often times less expensive than their big-brand counterparts, but there will be no doubt that your wino friends will flip over them!
  • Late harvest wines are made from grapes that are left on the vine even after they’ve reached their peak ripeness. When grapes are (quite literally) left hanging, they become sweeter over time as each individual grape dehydrates and the sugar content becomes more concentrated. Technically, any wine grape can be harvested late (Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Gris, etc.) so the options are pretty much endless. This makes a great gift for your sweet tooth friends.

Wrap It Up!

Let’s be honest, there is a wine out there for everyone. As long as you put a nice bow or ribbon it, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of wine! Now that you’ve read our wine gift giving guide, you should be a wine picking pro and find new favorites for everyone. And with a little luck, you’ll be everyone’s new favorite person this holiday season!

4 Amazing Holiday Wine Pairings You Will Not Regret

Christmas dinners present a prime time to try new wines with favorite recipes of old. Will it be ham, turkey, goose or prime rib? If you are looking for new holiday wine pairings to complement your holiday meal, then look no further! Check out our unique selection of versatile whites and diverse reds that are sure to enhance your holiday gatherings, varietals picked for both their presence and adaptability.

Holiday Wine Pairings That Will Wow Your Guests

Wines to Serve with Ham

Baked, smoked, or honeyed hams beg for wines with a dash of sweet. A German Riesling with a touch of residual sugar, made lighter in style and a bit lower in alcohol will hop on the ham pairing wagon with plenty of food-friendly acidity and crowd-pleasing palate appeal.

Alsatian Rieslings tend to bring more body, significantly less sugar, and a richer palate profile than their German wine cousins, and are capable of handling a wide range of pork-themed options with a focus on weight and pairing presence.

Red wines that can accommodate ham happenings tend to be lighter in body and overall style. Beaujolais, Pinot Noir (especially from Burgundy or California’s Russian River Valley), and Spain’s Tempranillo grape often exhibit subtle tannins with an easier going pairing profile.  

Wines to Serve with Turkey

Turkey on its own presents a fairly straight-forward pairing partner, but who really eats turkey solo? Herb-filled stuffing, roasted veggies, rich sauces, and an assortment of savory sides manage to make their way alongside the bird. It’s these sides and sauces that must be taken into account when working out the best wine pairings.

Sauvignon Blanc is hands-down one of the top white wine picks for turkey and savory sides, as it tends to bring its own herbal tones to the table. The all time go-to favorite is a Pinot Noir or Burgundy red wine, its high acidity and low tannins makes for the perfect pairing.

Wines to Serve with Duck

When it comes to pairing wines with duck, considerations have to be made for the unique, fatty profile along with the innate gaminess of the meat. The wines of France have a long and storied pairing partnership with a variety of duck preparations. As local foods paired with local wines make a trendy comeback, there’s an underlying synergy between “historical” regional pairings and the red wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux, as well as the reds of the Rhone Valley.

All will handle the elements of roasted, smoked, or braised duck. If the duck is served with a fruit-based sauce then the wine pairing gears will shift towards the white wine trails: Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Sauternes, all will make their mark on the fruit-themed duck pairing profiles.

Wines to Serve with Prime Rib

Prime rib makes a serious play for a variety of red wines: A big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon from California, a playful Zinfandel, a rustic Tempranillo from Spain, a refined red from Bordeaux, a Barbaresco or Barolo from Italy – all of these varietals can mix and mingle with a slice of prime rib and bring out subtle nuances in the pairing depending on the regional roots.

White wines will have a tough time keeping up, but if you are hard pressed and must venture to the white grapes, try a full-throttle White Burgundy (Chardonnay) to keep pace with the rich textures and greater ratios of protein and fat.

Now You Know The Perfect Holiday Wine Pairings

Now that you have all of the holiday wine pairings you need for any meal this holiday season, give them a try and let us know what you think! Be sure to head into the store to browse our plethora of options, and get some expert opinions on what is the best wine to pair with all of your favorite meals and side dishes!

The Holiday Season Can Be Hassle Free With These Expert Tips!

Let the holiday season begin! It’s already November and with Thanksgiving and Black Friday quickly approaching, the time has come to plan those holiday dinners and parties. It just so happens that the team at City Vineyard is ready to make your holiday party planning and shopping as easy as can be. Ready for our quick tips to take the hassle out of the holidays?

3 Ideas to Make Your Guests Happy This Holiday Season

Pre-Made Holiday Gift Baskets

We can help you shop for everyone on your list with custom gift baskets and gifts that will fit any budget. You can even order in advance and pick up when you’re ready, or we can put your gifts together while you wait and enjoy a glass of wine or beer in the lounge. In a hurry? We have plenty of pre-made baskets ready to go.

Artisan Cheeses & Gourmet Snacks

As your guests gather around and anticipate the feast that awaits them, calm their hungry appetites with artisan cheese and accoutrements. Our market is brimming with exotic selections and classic favorites. Cheese is the perfect addition to any holiday table. It also makes a simple meal for the after shopping frenzy. City Vineyard also offers custom meat and cheese trays that will excite any group of revelers. We can custom create each board to serve any number of people in a wide variety of textures and flavors! Stop in or call for more information.

Wine & Beer

And you can’t forget about the wine and beer! If you’re scratching your head wondering what to serve with your labor of love meals this holiday or you’re just looking for something special to share with your loved one, the team at City Vineyard can make great recommendations for every budget and appetite. We love pairing the perfect wines and beers to go with everything from a simple dinner of pizza to a five-course turkey extravaganza.

Whatever it is you need, let City Vineyard make the holidays easy! Head to the store to check what we have on hand and get our expert advice on what to grab to make your holiday season the best one ever!

Holiday Wine That Will Fill Your Guests Full of Cheer

Thanksgiving, the ultimate feast! Friends and family crammed into small, hectic, delicious smelling kitchens. To start, let’s get one thing out of the way:  There’s not a “right” or a “wrong” wine to sip with your stuffing. We like to say, “If you like it, drink it”- but there are wines that just might be more likely to send you to sensory elation. Keep reading for some our favorite holiday wine pairings!

Holiday Wine to Make Your Party One for the Books

For tried and true classic pairings to serve with Thanksgiving dinner, we recommend living by the “high acid rule.” You want a wine with decent levels of acidity, to cleanse your mouth of all those rich and buttery flavors. A touch of sweetness wouldn’t be a horrible thing either. Austrian Grüner Veltliner, German Riesling, or southern French Grenache blends would all be great options.

Since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, we thought we should offer a couple domestic options to celebrate with as well. The domestic varieties we recommend for Thanksgiving are sparkling wines, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.

Holiday get-togethers are often started off with a toast. But did you know that keeping those sparkling wine corks popping throughout your meal could be the perfect complement to your bird? Especially if you’re one of those households that fries your turkey. Here at City Vineyard we love J Vineyards Sparkling Cuvée. The high acid in this great sparkling wine will help cut through the richness of a fried fowl. But because of the versatility of bubbles, it’s actually a wine choice that will last through every course.

Riesling is a top pick for a white to drink on turkey day. Riesling innate flavors of apple, apricot, honey and its clarifying acidity give it a significant edge against other wines to drink alongside sweet potatoes, turkey meat and spice-laden or herb-filled stuffing. Penner-Ash’s off dry Riesling is a great wine to get you from the appetizers to that last bite of mashed potatoes and gravy.

If it’s a red you’re after, the most popular pairing for Thanksgiving Day dinner is Pinot Noir, lighter in body and softer on the palate than something like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot. The areas that reign supreme for Pinot Noir in America are California and Oregon. California Pinot Noir’s plush, easy berry fruit is just the right match for poultry and all your T-day fixins.

But not to be outdone on this holiday, Pinot Noir from Oregon is also a fantastic match as there’s a touch more earthiness than their sister to the south, and that can really play well with savory turkey trimmings. Try Love Oregon or J. Christopher from the Willamette Valley for stellar turkey day options that will have you stopping by City Vineyard for another bottle. To accommodate any last minute Thanksgiving Day wine, beer, or gourmet market needs, City Vineyard will be here for you throughout the holidays.

In the end, Thanksgiving is about celebrating our blessings. So whatever variety of holiday wine or beverage ends up on your table, raise your glass and toast to friends and family!

Vouvray is the Best Way to Get Cozy This Autumn

The Times They Are A-Changin’. Autumn is in the air and with that comes the time for transitional wines. While it might be warm enough for shorts and a T-shirt during the day, at night there’s a chill in the air and a sweater or jacket will probably be called for. Well, you can hold off on the heavy reds and the mulled spice wines for now, but you might want to switch up from your summer Pinot Grigios and Sauvignon Blancs to some cooler weather wines. We have Vouvray on our minds.

Vouvray (“voo-vray”) is a white wine made with 100% Chenin Blanc grapes that grow along the banks of the Loire River in the Touraine district of France. Wines range in style from dry to sweet, and still to sparkling, each with its own distinct character. Regardless of style, Vouvray is loved for having naturally penetrating acidity and aromas suggestive of quince, chamomile, honeysuckle and apple, and make you immediately wish for another sip. Sounds like Autumn in a glass. These stunning white wines have several stylistic variations depending on the amount of residual sugar. Sec and demi-sec bottlings represent the drier styles and pair perfectly with dishes like roasted pork tenderloin with grilled apples. The luscious moelleux and liquoreux are notably sweeter, often laden with botrytized aromas and flavors, and are best enjoyed with desserts, such as a honeyed pear tart. City Vineyard currently carries a hand selected amount of delicious, mouthwatering, Vouvray.

Bernard Fouquet Vouvray ‘Cuvee de Silex’ 2016

This Chenin Blanc is wonderfully aromatic with notes of white peach, white flowers, lanolin, and crushed rock. Beautiful balance on the palate with ripe orchard fruit, warm wet wool, and poached pear matched with lemony acidity and a long finish. It’s on the lighter side of medium-bodied and very fresh. This wine loves vegetables and it’s very happy alongside goat cheese. Try pairing it with our Spring Vegetable Tart with Chevre. The ripe fruit compliments the asparagus and leeks while the acidity matches that of the goat cheese. It’s a classic partnership.

Champalou Vouvray 2016

The Champalou family farms twenty-one hectares of vineyards on clay, limestone, and siliceous soils. They embrace sustainable farming while also integrating the use of the lunar calendar more traditionally associated with organic viticulture. The soils in their vineyards are rich, deep, and aerated through regular plowing. Cover crops are planted in between vineyard rows to help with excess water absorption and to encourage microbiotic activity in the soil. The Champalou house style produces wines of great elegance and tenderness, highly aromatic with impeccable balance. No one comes close to copying their distinct style.

Charles Bove Vouvray

From Vouvray, where the Abbey of Marmoutiers promoted the farming of Chenin in the 3rd century. Vouvray and its sibling Montlouis across the river are Touraine’s two great white wine appellations. This is a traditional style of Vouvray, bottled with a touch of residual sugar, which allows its incisive fruit to age long and gracefully.

Need more ideas on what types of wine pairs best with each season? Head to the store today or sign up for our mailing list!

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