Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Summer is Gone, but...

..Domaine Tempier Rosé still remains.

2008 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé

Many people scoff at Rosés because they are thinking of White Zinfandel. Two different styles of wine entirely. Domaine Tempier is a world class wine which happens to be a Rosé.

Light Salmon-colored, Light-to-Medium bodied, but delicate. Honeydew on the nose,then ripe Canteloupe. Dry. You also get a whiff of chilled carnations and roses. Perfumey. No heat. Sleek and silky. A wee-bit buttery with a lingering finish. I have had Francophiles disway me from buying this wine in the past, strictly because of its price ("Don't spend that much on a Rosé!."), but now after having it, I understand.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Napa... this week! ...with Updates on the Big Bad List of wines.

The Flannery Steak... Behold!

Am so happy to be going back to Napa. I want to move there, seriously!

A swarm of my wine-geek buddies (50 people?) from WineBerserkers.com will be infesting Napa at the end of this week. I will be on the road Thursday through Sunday (driving up "The 5" oh dear, but it's a quick route).

On tap will be: Barbecues (Flannery Steaks with none other than Bryan Flannery in attendance) with gout-inducing mass amounts of meat and wine, of course. Winetastings, and wine dinners. Will see a lot of people I've never met before, and also some familiar faces. Totally hyped!

More later. Ciao!


Here are the wines present on Saturday for Berserkerfest... we all did our best to try and get to as many of them as humanly possible. The Flannery beef was outrageously good.

N.V. Jacquesson & Fils Champagne Cuvée No. 731 (France, Champagne)
N.V. Vilmart Champagne Grand Cellier (France, Champagne)
1999 Mumm Napa DVX Santana (USA, California, Napa Valley)
1998 Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Blancs (USA, California)

2006 Sea Smoke Chardonnay Gratis (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills - Sta. Rita Hills) - Magnum
2003 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills - Sta. Rita Hills)
2008 Grey Stack Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Rosemary's Block (USA, California, North Coast, Bennett Valley)
2007 Josef Rosch Leiwener Klostergarten Riesling Kabinett (Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer)
2006 Remoissenet Père et Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières (France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru)
2002 (Label gone!) Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet (France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru)
2004 Mountford Chardonnay (New Zealand, South Island, Canterbury, Waipara)
2007 Olivier Savary Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume (France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru)
2006 Cameron Chardonnay Blanc Abbey Ridge (USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley)
2006 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Baudines (France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru)
2007 Corra Sauvignon Blanc (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2002 Tablas Creek Roussanne (USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles)
2007 François Chidaine Vouvray Le Bouchet (France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray)
2007 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Silex (France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Pouilly-Fumé)
2007 Araujo Estate Sauvignon Blanc Eisele Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2006 L'Aventure Roussanne Estate (USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles)
2007 Melville Viognier Estate Verna's (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County)
2007 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2007 Lava Vine Vineyards Chardonnay (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2006 Robledo Family Winery Sauvignon Blanc The Seven Brothers (USA, California, North Coast, Lake County)
2008 Hartwell Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc (USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District)
2006 Aubert Chardonnay Lauren Vineyard (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast)

2008 Dacalier Première Rosé (USA, California, North Coast, Lake County)
2007 Domaine du Gros' Noré Bandol Rosé (France, Provence, Bandol)

2004 Bodegas y Viñedos de Murcia Jumilla Pico Madama (Spain, Murcia, Jumilla)
2004 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Southing (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills - Sta. Rita Hills) - Magnum
2002 Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir Hillblock Pommard (USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola - Amity Hills)
2000 Château Pontet-Canet (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)
2003 Carlisle Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley (USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley)
2003 Carlisle Three Birds (USA, California, Sonoma County)
2005 Carlisle Syrah Pelkan Ranch (USA, California, Sonoma County, Knights Valley)
2004 Saxum Broken Stones (USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles)
2004 Saxum James Berry Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles)
1992 Dominus Estate Napanook Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2007 Maybach Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Materium (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville) - Magnum
1994 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2003 Pax Cuvée Moriah (USA, California, Sonoma County)
1998 M. Chapoutier Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence Terra d'Or (France, Provence, Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence)
2006 Aubert Pinot Noir UV Vineyard (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast)
1965 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2005 Piña Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Buckeye Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain)
2005 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Don Melchor (Private Reserve) (Chile, Central Valley, Maipo Valley, Puente Alto)
2005 Alapay Cellars Syrah Reserve Stolpman Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley)
2006 Justin Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles)
2003 Robert Foley Claret (USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District) - Magnum
1997 Seavey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2003 E. Guigal Hermitage (France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage)
2003 Château Olivier (France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan)
1995 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape (France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape)
2004 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Valbuena (Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero)
2004 Bell Wine Cellars Merlot (USA, California, Napa Valley, Yountville)
2004 Bravante Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain)
1995 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (USA, California, Napa Valley)
1997 Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry Reserve (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2006 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Charlie's Patch (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2006 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon GIII Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)
2005 Neal Family Zinfandel (USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford)
2003 Andrew Rich Syrah Reserve (USA, Washington, Columbia Valley)
2005 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2005 Match Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Butterdragon Hill (USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena)
1995 Château Troplong Mondot (France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru)
2000 Brown Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley, Chiles Valley)
2006 Belle Pente Pinot Noir Belle Pente Vineyard (USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton)
2006 Scherrer Winery Zinfandel Old and Mature Vines Alexander Valley (USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley)
2004 Petroni Sangiovese Poggio Alla Pietra (USA, California, Sonoma County)
1994 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena)
2002 Plumpjack Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville)
2001 Reverdito Michele Barolo Bricco Cogni (Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo)
2005 Bodegas y Viñedos Alión Ribera del Duero (Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero)
2001 Clark-Claudon Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Grown (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2005 Reynolds Family Winery Meritage Fourteen Vineyards (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2000 Rolex Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Black Coyote Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2000 Bodega Numanthia Termes Toro Numanthia (Spain, Castilla y León, Toro)
2001 Bodega Numanthia Termes Toro Numanthia (Spain, Castilla y León, Toro)
2004 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Lyndenhurst 'Young Vines' (USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena)
2005 Match Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Baconbrook (USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District) - Magnum
2007 Peachy Canyon Zinfandel The Vortex (USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles)
2007 Peachy Canyon Zinfandel Snow (USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles)
2007 Peachy Canyon Zinfandel Especial (USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles)
1999 Signorello Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Bottled (USA, California, Napa Valley) - Magnum
2006 Jessup Cellars Petite Sirah (USA, California, Central Valley, Yolo County)
2004 Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta (Chile, Central Valley, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley)
2005 Domaine Dujac Morey St. Denis (France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Morey St. Denis)
2001 Nicolas Potel Chambertin-Clos de Bèze (France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru)
2004 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, California, Napa Valley)

All I can say is, WOW. Napa was great as always. Had some amazing food and ridiculous wines. My contributions were: the 2007 Didier Dagueneau "Silex" (which happened to be the WOTN), and also the 2001 Reverdito Bricco Cogni Barolo, the 005 Bodegas y Viñedos Alión Ribera del Duero, 2004 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Valbuena, 2004 Bravante Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, and I also brought "the Ringer": 1999 Mumm Napa DVX Santana. :)

Roy Piper was kind enough to show us around the vineyard where he makes wine, "Seven Stones" located in Meadowwood in St. Helena. Delicious cabs, gorgeous property. We enjoyed the wines near the pool. Then, we went to Randy Sloan's of Match Vineyards and had lunch at his property while tasting his Butterdragon cabs. A group of us also went to "Ghost Horse World" and spent time with none other than "The Todd"... Todd Anderson of Anderson's Conn Valley and his entourage. More on that on my next post.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

A hedonistic Birthday weekend

Had an absolutely wonderful, elongated birthday weekend, which stretched from Thursday until Tuesday. Imagine that! Birthdays should be every month.

Highlights of the weekend were:

Making lunch at home for JP and "The Todd" from WineBerserkers.com and his lovely family.
Whale Watching off Dana Point
Sightseeing of The Mission at San Juan Capistrano
Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach
Entertaining my Mom, Brother and our family members visiting from Montreal

Libations for the marathon birthday weekend:

NV, Louis Roederer, Brut Premier
2000 Louis Roederer, Brut "Cristal"
2002 Louis Roederer, Blanc De Blancs
2005 Sea Smoke, "Southing"
2008 Chateau De Puligny-Montrachet, Bourgogne, Rose of Pinot Noir
10 different Champagnes from Ambonnay - Hi-Time Wine Cellars
2004 Ponsot Morey St. Denis - Monts Luisants
1970 Bodegas Marques De Murrieta, Castillo Ygay, Gran Reserva Especial
2002 Domaine De Baumard, Quarts de Chaume
1927 Solera - Alvear Pedro Ximenez
50 some odd rums - Hi-Time Wine Cellars (Rum Tasting, got through half of them)
2005 Les Pailleres - Gigondas
2005 Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet 1st Cru, "Les Caillerets"
NV, Schramsberg Brut Rose
Lapu Lapu (Royal Hawaiian)
2007 Pierre Boniface, "Apremont"


Thursday, WaterMarc, Laguna Beach
Friday, Lunch at my place: Smoked salmon, Caprese salads (Thanks, JP for your endless supply of Caprese salads!), homemade chewy chocolate cookie ice cream sandwiches
Friday, Royal Hawaiian, Laguna Beach
Friday, 230 Forest, Laguna Beach
Saturday, Brunch at my place: Caprese salads, Serrano ham, baguette and cheeses
Saturday, Harbor House, Dana Point
Sunday, Hush Restaurant, Laguna Beach
Monday, A picnic lunch on the bluffs at Crystal Cove State Park
Monday, Splashes Restaurant at The Surf & Sand Hotel
Tuesday, GulfStream, Newport Beach

Of the wines, the real showstopper was the 1970 Bodegas Marques De Murrieta, Castillo Ygay, Gran Reserva Especial. It was a gorgeous wine with great texture, very present fruit still (no orangey edges in the glass), floral notes and a nonstop finish. Plus, it was the first wine I have had from my birth year. All the wines were wonderful, even the Apremont, which I bought for $12..just a lovely, refreshing summer wine.
The standout restaurants were: Hush, for their Veal Porterhouse and Truffled Mashed Potatoes. Heaven! Also, WaterMarc is a phenomenal find in Laguna and I can't wait to go there again. A remarkable weekend.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A night of Rhones at Grace

Going with my wine group to a dinner at Grace Restaurant on Friday. Never been! It shall be fun! Everyone is bringing their own wines, and for the night we have chosen the theme of wines from the Rhone region (with exceptions for the bubbly and dessert). The kind people at Grace are planning a menu based on the wines we will be having.
Super Cool.

Here are the wines for tomorrow... (I'm bringing two of the whites).

1998 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vielles Vignes Blanc
2006 Chapoutier "Les Granits" St. Joseph Blanc
2006 Cuilleron "St.Pierre" St. Joseph Blanc

1997 JL Chave Hermitage Rouge
2005 Paul Autard Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee La Cote Ronde
1999 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge
1999 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape "Prestige"
2005 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape "Prestige"
2004 Domaine du Pegau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuveé Réservée

2000 Royal Tokaji Wine Company Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos Betsek

Details to follow, and maybe pictures.

Grace Restaurant
7360 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

Thursday, June 04, 2009

India's Grill in Los Angeles

On Friday, my wine friends headed off to India's Grill in LA. Since there is only a $6 corkage fee, we all brought different wines for everyone to share.

India's Grill
428 S San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

The food is phenomenal and quite inexpensive! We brought in all of our wines and stems, and I don't think they even charged us for corkage. We had a bevy of different dishes, chicken curries, grilled okra (so delicious!), lentils, lamb, a couple of other chicken dishes, and the bread (naan) was great. Excellent service, too. I can't wait to come here again.

Here are some of the wines our group brought in for the evening, wines that would match with Indian food.

Occhipinti Il Frappato
2004 Saxum Syrah Bone Rock James Berry Vineyard
2008 Gutzler White Pressed Pinot Noir
1999 Abbazia di Novacella Praepositus Lagrein
2005 Pipestone Viognier
A white wine from Louisiana!
2008 Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina Rose Rubentis
2005 Van Volxem Scharzhofberger Riesling
1991 Stony Hill Gewurtz Traminer (sic)
Alfred Merkelbach/Geschwister Albertz Erben
2005 Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Auselese, Mosel,
2006 Domaine Weinbach Cuvee Laurence Gewurtztraminer Vin d'Alsace
2006 Porter Creek Old Vine Carignane

All the wines were fantastic and wines I might not think to get for myself. My favorite wine was the 2006 Domaine Weinback Gerwurtzraminer from Alsace. Luscious, honeyed, and pleasing. There were a couple of other wines not mentioned. All in all it was a great outing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Are some Red Wines better for you than others?

There is a dizzying amount of articles touting the benefits of drinking red wine in moderation ...but are some red wines more beneficial for you than others?  Is a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon better for your heart versus  a Pinot Noir from Russian River?  Is a Central Coast Syrah just what the doctor ordered for the old ticker?

Two articles discuss two lesser-known wines; one from the southwest portion of France (where they grow the grape, Tannat), and another wine from Sardinia, Italy (known for growing Cannonau, a.k.a.: Grenache).  They also add that it is not Reservatrol that we should be concerned with, but instead, procyanidins.  

Interesting. Keep in mind that the people they are studying are living in small provincial towns in Europe where they have different lifestyles and diets than in the U.S. The optimist in me wants to believe that drinking the right kind of wine would allow us to reap some great cardiac benefits. Below are the articles.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Three Italian Beauties

Disclosure: I am lucky enough to be representing these three wines. They are all made from the same grape, Nebbiolo, but crafted in entirely different ways. All are stunning in their own right.

Varaldo Langhe Nebbiolo 2006

Bright red fruit, sour cherry, good acid. Think of a bumblebee in your mouth (without the stinger). Delightful!

Varaldo Barbaresco "Sori Loreto" 2004

Same producer as the first wine, this is the "big brother" to the Langhe Nebbiolo. More depth, black cherry, wood presence and a lasting finish. Great acidity. This wine stood well for 3 days after opening. Again, this is stunning wine. If you are into Robert Parker, he scored it a 94.

Reverdito Barolo "Bricco Cogni" 2001

My favorite of the pack. A deep, rich wine with tons of earth. Close your eyes, and you are outside, in the dark, stepping on Fall leaves and smelling damp soil. I swear I could taste this wine for 20 minutes after. Gorgeous.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A musical moment

Paul McCartney has perfect pitch.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Hour Week in OC - April 12-18

April 12th marks the beginning of the First Annual Orange County Happy Hour Week. During this week you will be able to visit some of your favorite restaurants for some fantastic happy hour specials. The best part about this is that most restaurants will be offering these fantastic happy hour special all day long for the entire week! No more rushing to try and get your order in before happy hour ends! Here are some of the participating restaurants and the menus that they are offering. More may be added soon.If the restaurant name is clickable, you can view their special happy hour menu.

***Many of the restaurants are offering their happy hour specials all day, some only have extended hours though. Please check the page for the restaurant you are going to before going down to the restaurant.***

118 Degrees - Costa Mesa
21 Oceanfront - Newport Beach
Ambrosia - Santa Ana
Avilas El Ranchito - Newport Beach
Bistro West - Tustin
Bluewater Grill - Tustin and Newport
Brix Wine Bar - Sunset Beach
Chaparosa Grill - Laguna Niguel/Tustin
Citrus Fresh Grill - Aliso Viejo
Commonwealth Lounge - Fullerton
Daily Grill - Irvine
French 75 - Newport Beach
HUSH - Laguna Beach
JT Schmid's Restaurant & Brewery - Anaheim/Tustin
Karl Strauss - Costa Mesa
Kimera - Irvine
K'ya Bistro - Laguna Beach
Leatherby's - Costa Mesa
Lucca - Irvine
Mozambique - Laguna Beach
O’Neill’s Bar and Grill - Mission Viejo
Orange County Mining Company - Orange
Pinot Provence - Costa Mesa
Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen - Anaheim
Royal Hawaiian - Laguna Beach
Ruth's Chris Steak House - Irvine
Sage - Newport Beach
Sage on the Coast - Newport Beach
Savannah at the Beach - Huntington Beach
Simply Fondue - San Juan Capistrano
Sorrento Grille - Laguna Beach
Stonehill Tavern - Dana Point
Summit House - Fullerton
Sundried Tomoto - San Clemente
Sundried Tomato - San Juan Capistrano
TAPS Fish House and Brewery - Brea
Terra Nova - Costa Mesa
The Clubhouse - Costa Mesa
The Loft Bistro at Montage - Laguna Beach
The Melting Pot - San Clemente/Irvine/Brea
The Ranch Sports Grill - Ladera Ranch
The Red Chair Lounge - Huntington Beach
The Rooftop Lounge - Laguna Beach
The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar - Tustin
Tommy Bahama's Island Grille - Newport Beach
Zov's Bistro - Tustin
Zov's Neighborhood Cafe's - Irvine/Newport Beach

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2009 Wine Blog Awards

There are some really great wine bloggers out there, and you have a chance to vote for them now if you follow this link


Voting ends March 4, so sooner the better! Also, please check out their sites if you haven't already. They are pretty awesome. Alder Yarrow, who writes "Vinography.com" is a pretty cool guy, with a great palate and who does honest assessments of wines and the wine world. You should definitely check him out if you haven't already.

2009 Wine Blog Awards


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Bipolar ... bottled up.

This is Urban Uco, a 50/50 blend of Tempranillo and Malbec, grown in Argentina.

You see the deep, mulberry color at first, but be patient. There is a finesse to the wine that catches you off-guard....that is the tempranillo taking over. Very rustic (leathery...baseball mit kind of leathery, but surrounded by dark berries). The lean, old world nature of the Tempranillo grape mixes with the Malbec (which is also an old world grape, but entirely different). The malbec fleshes out the tempranillo... makes it rounder and fruitier. Then it catches you off-guard again, as it packs a wollop. The bottle is stating 14.5%, but I am guessing more like 15% alcohol. But the wine is perfectly balanced. No heat, just intriguing flavor.

This is a wine presented by the Spanish importer, Jose Ordonez. He is known for choosing interesting wines at modest prices. This wine goes under $10 and is a good sipper.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Hope your New Years was peaceful and lovely and spent with those you care for.

Yours truly celebrated the New Year by opening a bottle of the 1996 Henri Abelé Champagne - Brut - Reims, France ($55). Its makeup is: 47% Chardonnay; 34% Pinot Noir; and 19% Pinot Meunier.

This is a gorgeous, savory, rich-tasting wine. The color is a dark straw yellow, apricot on the nose, sporting an almond and croissant flavor. This Champagne is a bit acidic, so best to pair with food.

The semifreddo I made for dessert paired magically with the Champagne, cutting through the dessert's sweetness, but still showing its nutty character that matched the semifreddo. A semifreddo is an Italian term for a half-frozen dessert. In this case, the flavor was chocolate hazelnut.

Here is the recipe for the semifreddo. It is delicious and extremely easy to make.

Chocolate Semifreddo
  • 2 1/4 cups chilled whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of Frangelico (Hazelnut liqueur)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Toasted almonds
  • 9 chocolate cups
Take a handful of almonds, chop into small pieces, and toast under a medium-low heat being careful not to burn. After the almonds have browned, immediately transfer to a glass or ceramic bowl and set aside. Combine whipping cream and vanilla in another large bowl. Sift powdered sugar and cocoa over. Using an electric mixer, beat at mid-high speed, add in vanilla and liqueur, continue to beat until soft peaks form. Spoon the mixture into chocolate cups, which can be purchased in a gourmet/specialty store. Freeze until cream is set, at least 1 hour. Top with toasted almonds.


When you are buying a bottle of Champagne* or Sparkling Wine, you will notice different jargon on the label (for example, XD or Brut). This is important because it is in reference to the Champagne's degree of sweetness. Listed below are the different levels of sweetness, starting from bone dry like the Sahara Desert, to sugary sweet. The most common type of Champagne/Sparkling Wine is Brut, although throughout the 19th century Champagne was generally much sweeter than it is today.

Levels of Sweetness in Champagne/Sparkling Wine (starting from driest to sweetest)
  • Brut Natural or Brut Zéro (less than 3 grams of sugar per liter)
  • Extra Brut (less than 6 grams of sugar per liter)
  • Brut (less than 15 grams of sugar per liter)
  • Extra Sec or Extra Dry, XD (12 to 20 grams of sugar per liter)
  • Sec (17 to 35 grams of sugar per liter)
  • Demi-Sec (33 to 50 grams of sugar per liter)
  • Doux (more than 50 grams of sugar per liter)

* Champagne can only be called "Champagne" if it is made in the Champagne region of France, blah, blah, blah. Everything else is called "Sparkling Wine".