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Italian Wine Club Tasting Notes: June 2015

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We hope you enjoy the June Italian Wine Club tasting notes, courtesy of Elio Longobardi of PlumpJack Wine & Spirits. In the northwestern corner of Italy nest a tiny jewel of region. Tucked above Piemonte, surrounded by the Gratian Alps in the north, where it shares a border with France and Switzerland. The Monte Bianco, or Mont Blanc, towers over the valleys’ region at 4,810 meters (15,781ft) making this mountain the highest peak in Europe and the 17th in world. Valle d’Aosta is more renowned for their naturalistic beauty, striking alpine range, bringing thousands of rock climbers, alpine skiers and avid excursionists into the region. Beautiful castles dot the valleys, 72 in the main valley alone, built between the II and the XVI centuries. The castles are one of the principal attractions for tourists. The wine is a pleasant and unexpected surprise, as it is hard to imagine this place suitable for growing vines, but Valle d’Aosta produces some very fascinating and unique wines. Get your hiking boots on, and let’s start to climb up to reach the wine region at the top of the world.mens nike air max

 Elio Longobardi, Italian Wine Specialist
PlumpJack Wine & Spirits – Noe Valleynike air max junior

Valle d’Aosta a.k.a. Vallée d’Aoste, was originally a big glacier, when the glacier receded it left a wide valley furrowed by the river Dora Baltea that cut across the region for 100km (62mi). This mountain territory, 3268 km2 (1261 square miles), with a population of 126.000 inhabitants, makes the small and less populate region of Italy. Aosta is the capitol and also the only province, and has been populated since the 4th century B.C. by Celt tribes until the Romans annexed it 25 B.C. Always in constant commercial contact with their neighbors, France, across the Alps made the Valdostani a bilingual ethnic group where French is spoken equally if not more than Italian. The Fascists forbide the use of French language in the schools and in the press, and for this reason Valle d’Aosta was not a fertile ground for Mussolini and his ideology. The opposition to the dictatorship was strong. In 1948 the region acquires the Autonomist Regional Status that grants the right of self-government, though still part of Italy. Nowadays we have a total of five regions in Italy that benefit of the same legislative powers; beside Valle d’Aosta also Trentino-Alto-Adige, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Sicilia and Sardegna are elevated to this status.
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Who would have thought you could plant vineyards at 4,000 feet and make wine too? The geography is alpine, high peaks, and temperatures below zero most of the year would discourage any sane vintner. Not the Valdostani. They terraced the steep slopes with walls of rocks and bricks to contain the scars terrain formed by glacier alluvial soil of rock moraine and sand. The vines did the rest of the job, digging deep in search of nutriments they also helped to keep the soil from getting loose and prone to slide downhill. Working the land in this condition requires giving up the support of mechanization and industrial technologies, all the job in the vineyards is up to the farmer’s arms and legs. The terrain often reaches inclines up to 30% requiring you to be more of a climber than farmer. Many call this ‘Viticultura Eroica’, which can be accurately translated as ‘Extreme Viticulture’.
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Valle d’Aosta produces 0.1% of the total Italian wine production, making of about 1 million bottles on an area apt to cultivation of 1290 acres. What makes those wines more alluring is their unique peculiarity. We’ve already talked about the many grape varieties of each Italian region, here are even more. Grapes that are limited only to this specific area and you wont find them elsewhere. White grapes: Prie’ Blanc, Malvoisie, Petit Arvine. Red grapes: Cornalin, Mayolet, Petit Rouge, Premetta, Vien de Nus and Fumin. There also other important grape such as Nebbiolo from near by Piemonte, here called Picotendro. Gamay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay are cultivated as well. 
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Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta Valley, Italy


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Pavese Ermes, Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle, Vallée d’Aoste 2002 D.O.P.
Ermes Pavese is a youthful grower in the commune of La Ruine just outside of the town of Morgex in the high Alps, just minutes from the summit of Mont Blanc.  Pavese works with the native grape known as Prié Blanc. This is the old varietal of the region was first mentioned in documents dated in 1691. The name probably refers to the wine’s use in Sunday Mass by priests (priest, in French). Starting with barely two hectares of vineyards, situated at about 1200 meters (~4000feet) a.s.l., Ermes has gradually expanded his holdings in this high altitude zone. He now produces three versions of Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle. Besides the bottle that we’ve selected, Ermes makes a version barrel aged and a dessert wine. Basically an ice-wine, the grapes are harvested in December when temperatures are between 17 and 14 Fahrenheit. Because these vineyards are so isolated, Pavese has been able to work with the original, pre-phylloxera rootstock since that parasite never infiltrated this area, because of the high elevation and sandy soil, when it came sweeping through Europe at the end of 1800. To understand the difficulties and the hard labor required in making wine here, you must understand that in order to plant vines the farmers have to remove all the rocks that cover the terrain until they get to the soil. Removing them manually, one by one. This labor of love produces wines that are the pure expression of this terroir. Nervy, crispy and racy with minerality that speaks of glacier and moraine rocks.
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Pavese Ermes

Pavese Ermes

Pavese Blanc de Morgex fruit is harvested between the end of September beginning of October. All the clusters are softly pressed, vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks and then filtered and bottled. This wine in the glass has a bright clear yellow straw color with golden reflections. Aromas are clean, the palate loaded with fresh acidity with a whisper er of aromatic herbs such as thyme and chamomile, floral notes of hawthorn, white fruit tones, pear Williams and yellow plums. The finish is long with accents of white pepper notes. Perfect as aperitif, it also works great with fish and white meat dishes as well with semi-firm aged cheeses.
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La Cantina di Cuneaz Nadir, Badebec, Rosso-Vallée d’Aoste 2012 DOP
Nadir Cuneaz is a young and enthusiastic wine maker, driven by a passion for his land, he puts all his energy into the vineyards owned by his family for over a century. The Cuneaz family has a mere 0.5 hectares near the town of Gressan, in the southern part of the region, reflecting a local mix of grape varieties, some of which were planted over 100 years ago. All the work in the vineyards is rigorously maintained and manually done by hand. The harvest usually happens at the end of October to allow plenty of time for the fruit to reach maturation. The grapes harvested earlier are left to dry for a couple of weeks until they achieve the right sugar concentration and then combine together for the vinification. The wine spends then one year in barrels in the cellar, which also serves as one of the rooms in their home.

The wine we’ve selected is composed of 90% Petit Rouge with small amounts of Fumin and Vien de Nus. The wine hints at the passito element, with rich, ripe fruit. Open the bottle, pour a glass and let the olfactory sensations bring reminders of mountain fruits and herbs. There are dark, sweet notes of blackberry, complimented by alpine flowers that reflect the position of the vineyards. The rich, balsamic notes of stone ripe fruits envelopes the palate with a soft, warm alcoholic accent well supported by a fresh and sapid structure. The name of this wine ‘Badabec’, comes from the mythical monster that is said to roam the forests above Gressan and occasionally feast on misbehaving children in the village! The perfect match for this wine is the Soupetta di Cogne (see recipe below).

Soupettas di Cogne (Cogne’s soup)
This dish, as all the Valdostana traditional cuisine are made with the few ingredients available in those remote valleys in the past when long winters made impossible any contact and exchange with the regions around. You may not think this recipe as a summer one but after a long day of hiking in the high elevation I can ensure you’ll be very hungry and something like this will put you in the right mood.

Ingredients (serves 4):
500 g fontina* cheese cut in ¼ inch slices
200 g butter
500 g rice
2 and 1/2 cup beef broth
1 kg stale rye bread
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
Salt

1. Cut the bread in ½ inch slices and fried in 100 g of butter until the bread has a nice golden color.
2. In another pan, with 50 g of butter cook the rice as you do risotto, adding slowly 2 cups of beef broth and a pinch of salt. Cook on medium-high heat until the rice is almost done, 15-20 minutes.
3. Using a baking pan, start with strata of bread, then rice and top with slices of fontina. Repeat the process until all the bread, rice and cheese is used finishing the last top with fontina.
4. Pour now over the half-cup of remaining broth, melted butter and the nutmeg.
5. Bake in the oven at 375F for 4 minutes and serve warm.

* Fontina is the most famous regional cheese. It get its name from the pasture area called Font.

Cocktail Club Tasting Notes: June 2015

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PlumpJack Wine & Spirits brings you this month’s cocktail club tasting notes, featuring Seven Stills and McVicker Pickles. June marks the beginning of summer. With longer days, abundant sunshine and a bounty of fresh produce it doesn’t get much better than summer. Summer also means the arrival of fresh tomatoes into the markets, and we can’t think of a more useful way to celebrate than with Bloody Marys! The products featured this month are made by local San Francisco producers, Seven Stills and McVicker Pickles and contain everything you need to create an instantly delicious Bloody Mary.

Cheers!
PlumpJack Wine & Spirits

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Image from @sevenstills via instagram

Seven Stills was officially founded by Tim Obert and Clint Potter in January of 2013.  It began as a conversation over drinks at Dobbs Ferry in early 2012. Clint had explained the process of distillation and how whiskey is traditionally made from a low quality beer.  Tim, an avid homebrewer thought, “Why don’t we buy a still and see what happens if we distill my homebrews?” They spent the next year creating over 30 different whiskeys before realizing the results were too incredible to squander. They decided to start a company specializing in whiskeys made from craft beers.
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They chose to name their brand Seven Stills, after the seven hills of San Francisco. In order to get up and running they launched a vodka line, produced on Treasure Island at Treasure Island Distillery. The vodka provides an easy canvas for mixing and sipping alike. Ever since they launched their vodka line we’ve talked about a feature with Bloody Marys in the cocktail club, so we’re excited for this release. The packaging you see here is brand new, this batch bottling hot off the press (still).
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Born and raised in Kansas, Kelly McVicker learned all about pickling and canning from her grandmothers, Margarett and Harriet. When she moved to San Francisco she brought her family tradition with her, and soon found herself haggling over boxes of cucumbers at the farmers market. In 2012, Kelly launched McVicker Pickles, after winning first place in three categories at the 2012 Eat Real Festival in Oakland. Kelly launched McVicker Pickles to bring her love for canning and pickling to the masses, creating updated versions of her family classics. She also teaches pickling classes at Workshop in San Francisco.
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Canning Classes with McVicker Pickler


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After taking a pickling class at Workshop late last year, we got inspired to collaborate with Kelly and feature her pickles as accompaniments to a Bloody Mary themed cocktail club selection. When we approached her about the pickles, Kelly mentioned that she, along with friend Gillian Fitzgerald (of Virgil’s Sea Room) could create a shelf stable Bloody Mix come tomato season. This Bloody Mary mix has evolved over time with lots of experimentation and tinkering. Super accessible, the mix is a little bit spicy, a little bit briny. After McVicker unloaded 20-30 jars at the Maker Faire in San Mateo a couple weeks ago, Proud Mary Mix was officially born.
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Poppin’ Bottles: Our Favorite Sparkling Wine for Brunch

There is no better way to start the week than with Sunday brunch, and with Easter coming up, one of the biggest brunch days of the year, PlumpJack Wine & Spirits has put together a list of our favorite sparklers perfect for brunch, or whenever.
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Roederer Estate, Anderson Valley
$18.99
Best price in San Francisco for a well made, French-owned Champagne house. This is made in the methode champagnoise. Nice, dry, and round.

 


Adami Bosco Prosecco
, Italy
$18.99
Delicious, round, fruit driven, but dry Prosecco. It’s perfect for a Sunday brunch or a tailgate party. Flavors of lemon and green apple with a toasty finish.
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Bailly-Lapierre Cremant de Bourgogne, Burgundy, France
$24.99
Burgundy is known for this style of bubbles, which features a very fine bubble and a dry finish. Only 12% alcohol, so you can rest assured that you won’t over indulge while drinking. The champagne has peachy flavors with a toasty warm finish.
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Bochet-Lemoine Brut, Champagne, France
$39.99
Extraordinary Champagne from a grower-producer in Champagne–only 5% of the annual production comes to USA, all of which goes to Northern California. You’ve never heard of it because they have no marketing budget. A delicious combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier–rich mouth feel with a warm crisp finish.
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Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose, Champagne, France
$70.99
PINK is not Sweet! This Champagne has a fine line of crisp bubbles for a special celebration. It’s a beautiful, slightly pink, champers with slight strawberry and raspberry aromatics. Very rich and sexy with a long dry, crisp finish.
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Check out Balboa Cafe Mill Valley’s Easter Brunch Menu

The People of PlumpJack: Rob McCormick


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This week on The People of PlumpJack, we feature Rob McCormick. He is the Director of Sales at PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn for the past 19 years. On his free time, Rob enjoys exploring Truckee and North Lake Tahoe. He often opens a map, looks for a region he has yet to explore and ventures out there to hike, ski or 4 wheel. When he isn’t skiing at the resort with his wife and son, he goes backcountry skiing. Another passion of Rob’s is music, he has been djing as a hobby for 15 years.
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 “When I go into the backcountry I have a fairly selective rotation of ski partners.  Who you choose to travel with in the wilderness is very important because you want to make sure your partners have similar attitudes toward goal flexibility and risk tolerance.  Getting into adventures with the right people is so much fun in so many ways, but most of all just being away from the constant distractions of everyday life.”

In 2011 Rob was lucky enough to fly around the mountains outside of Truckee in his friends Cessna 180, where they discovered an amazing couloir (a steep, narrow gully on a mountainside). Two years later when conditions were just right, they navigated their way into the location and skied it in perfect conditions. Rob describes it as an unforgettable experience and found it rewarding to put in the time researching maps and weather conditions and getting to eventually go.

1. What would your last meal be?
Maine Lobster
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2. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? 
It’s better to under promise and over deliver than the other way around.
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3. What is your top bucket list item?
Trip to Europe with my wife and son.

4. If you could travel back to any one point in time when would it be?
February through May 2011 – I’d really like to relive that ski season.

5. If they made a film of your life what star would you like to play you?
John C. Reilly
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6. What is your personal mantra?
Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgment.

7. If today was the last day of your life, how would you spend it? 
A backcountry ski adventure followed by a BBQ on Donner Lake with my friends and family.
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8. What is the last thing you Googled?
Ski conditions at Grand Targhee, WY.

Check out Rob’s Ski blog here

Rob’s enthusiasm for all things outdoors & Lake Tahoe in general transfers into his day to day interaction with all of our Clients. Rob is always sharing favorite activities and his passion for Squaw Valley with corporate groups and wedding couples to add to their experience during a stay at PlumpJack. It is always fun catching up with Rob after the weekend or a day off. Rob takes full advantage of living in Lake Tahoe and is often plotting a fun camping trip, BBQ with friends, bike ride or backcountry ski trip. Other places you may find Rob .. a ski movie, a DJ party, or his favorite vacation destination .. Mexico.

Ilana Heyne
Catering & Sales Manager at PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn

Holiday Cocktail Creations & Recipes

The holidays are officially here. There is a chill in the air and holiday music on air. What better way to celebrate, and get through, the holidays than to try some new cocktails. Whether entertaining guests or cozying up to the fire with a loved one, we found some creative and festive drink options for you to imbibe in this season. Tell us in the comments what your favorite cocktails are to celebrate this time of year, and we may just choose yours to feature in one of our cocktail lists at one of PlumpJack’s restaurants and bars.
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All of the spirits and liquors featured in this post are available for purchase at both PlumpJack Wine & Spirits stores. Delivery is free on orders of $100 or more in San Francisco or stop in to peruse our selections. Happy Drinking!
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English Harvest 
Contributed by Food & Wine



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In a pitcher, combine the apples with the orange, apple juice, lemon juice and brandy. Just before serving, add the hard cider. Serve over ice.
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Ingredients
Ice
1 ounce London dry Gin
3/4 ounce bounded apple brandy
3/4 ounce dry vermouth
3/4 ounce unfiltered apple juice
1/4 ounce oregeat (almond flavored syrup)
3 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 spiral-cut orange twist for garnish
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Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the remaining ingredients expect the garnish and shake well. Strain into a small chilled coupe or snifter and garnish with the orange twist.

Cranberry Gimlet
Contributed by Genna’s Lounge
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Combine the vodka, lime juice, cranberry juice and agave nectar in a shaker over ice. After you shake, pour into a chilled martini glass. Add garnish with fresh cranberries or a lemon twist. This twist on a Cosmopolitan, delivers a perfect balance of sweet and tart.
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Ingredients:
Serving size 1
2 oz. citrus vodka
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
¾ oz. unsweetened cranberry juice
½ oz/ agave nectar
Lemon twist or fresh cranberries, for garnish (optional)
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Apple Barrel
Contributed by Saveur.com

 

 

 

 

 
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Cognac, apple brandy, and an apple-mint vermouth are combined for a decidedly autumnal cocktail.

Ingredients:
1 oz. vermouth, preferably Uncouth Vermouth Apple Mint
¾ oz. apple brandy
¾ oz. cognac
¼ oz. Becherovka liqueur
2 dashes apple bitters

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into an old-fashioned glass with a large ice cube. Twist a 1″ strip orange peel over cocktail; drop peel into glass.

Fig Thyme
Contributed by Honestly Yum
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First make the thyme simple syrup. Add sugar and water to a small saucepan and stir on medium, heat until the sugar dissolves. Then add the thyme and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the thyme and pour into a heat-safe glass jar. Let cool before using in your cocktail. Label your jar with the date and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

 

 

Ingredients
1 ½ oz. Pisco
¼ oz. Cointreau
½ oz. thyme simple syrup
½ oz. lime juice
1 fig (quartered)
Thyme Simple Syrup
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
5 sprigs of thyme

Coquito
Contributed by Liquor.com

 

 

 

 

 

This rich and creamy rum-spiked Coquito is a classic Puerto Rican holiday cocktail recipe. Combine all the ingredients except the rum in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, let cool and stir in the rum. Transfer to bottles (making sure that at least one cinnamon stick goes into each bottle), seal and store in the refrigerator. Serve over ice in rocks glasses and garnish with cinnamon sticks.

Ingredients
2 (15-oz) cans Unsweetened coconut cream
2 (15-oz) cans Cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
1 Vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
3 tsp Ground nutmeg
8 Cinnamon sticks
1 (750-mL) bottle Añejo or spiced rum
Garnish with a Cinnamon stick

Try these at home or come into one of PlumpJack’s Restaurants and Bars for our own take on the holiday classic cocktails.

#PlumpJackLife Instagram Contest!

PlumpJack LifeAt PlumpJack, we’re about living life to the fullest and taking advantage of the Northern California lifestyle. This is our #plumpjacklife, show us your #plumpjacklife on Instagram. Follow us at @plumpjackgroup, then point, zoom, shoot and tag #plumpjacklife to be entered to win $500 in PlumpJack Bucks that can be redeemed at any of our 15 properties. Go to plumpjack.com to view list of properties.
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HOW TO ENTER
1. Follow @plumpjackgroup on Instagram
2. Take a photo of something that represents #plumpjacklife and tag it
3. Make sure your privacy settings are open, so the PlumpJack judging team has access to your photos
4. You’re done, you’re automatically entered!

GOOD LUCK! Love, PlumpJack

Sweepstakes Rules
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5 Rosés to Drink All Summer

Kelly of PlumpJack Wine and Spirits Noe Valley has a decision to make

Kelly of PlumpJack Wine and Spirits Noe Valley has an important decision to make.

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Just because Karl the Fog is an SF summer resident doesn’t mean we can’t emulate the sunshine via a frosty bottle of rosé. Our ancient PlumpJack ancestors even said that drinking rosé attracts sunlight! In all seriousness, rosé is the bomb, just ask Rick Ross or . Pick up a bottle or five at your closest PlumpJack Wine and Spirits, in the Marina or Noe Valley. Sip through this list with us and you’ll be seeing the world through rosé colored glasses.

  1. Domaine Amido, Tavel – The fuchsia-tinged wine of Tavel was a favorite of French King Louis XIV. It’s easy to see why with its gorgeous cherry, strawberry and almond flower notes. Sip alongside a pork roast or chicken salad.RoseTavel
  2. Skylark, “Pink Belly,” Mendocino – Bright, fresh, and lively, this 100% Grenache rosé is summer in a glass with notes of strawberry, ripe cherry, and watermelon.Pink Belly
  3. Dominique Piron, Beaujolais – This rosé of Gamay boasts mineral driven fruit with violets, strawberry, crisp acidity and overall deliciousness. It’s begging to tag along with you at your picnic.BEAUJOLAIS-ROSE-NV
  4. Ostatu, Rioja – Grenache and Tempranillo give this pale salmon colored wine its mineral, blood orange, peach, and honeysuckle flavors that invite pairing with marinated green olives and sheep’s milk cheeses. bodegas-ostatu-rosato-rioja-doca-spain-10361551
  5. Liveli, Puglia – Coming from the heel of Italy’s “boot,” this rosé of Negroamaro exhibits fragrant fresh fruit aromas of plum and strawberry and gets along well with a variety of antipasti like prosciutto, burrata, and summery salads. masseria-li-veli-salento-rosato-igt-puglia-italy-10345244

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