Locally-made Truffles from Neo Cocoa

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast month, I embarked on a chocolate tasting adventure. Why, you ask? Well, I was looking for the most exceptional chocolates in San Francisco to offer in a Valentine’s Day gift pack Winelandia is putting together. We have a strong dedication to the finest quality, locally-made products, and so I set out to find chocolates that fit this model.

It started with lots of Googling, Yelping, and asking around. I was already familiar with Poco Dolce, a chocolate maker in the Dogpatch that features hand-made dark chocolate tiles that will blow your mind. Poco Dolce is a household name in San Francisco, and their chocolates proliferate every speciality market in the city (for good reason). While I love these chocolates, I wanted to find something a little different.
P1090024I kept looking, and eventually caught wind of a local truffle-maker by the name of Neo Cocoa. After a little investigation, I learned that it was not only woman owned-and-operated, but that the owner got started in the La Cocina kitchen incubator program. La Cocina is an SF-based non-profit organization that helps low-income food entrepreneurs realize their goals through educational programs, use of a shared commercial kitchen, and by providing market opportunities. They are doing a really amazing thing for our local food community and I was pleased to find that Neo Cocoa got started this way.

I had the opportunity to taste samples of Neo Cocoa truffles when I paid a visit to the Crocker Galleria Gift Alley, an annual market during the holidays that features local food companies. It was a chocolate epiphany – you see, normally truffles are sugary, gooey messes on the inside with hard, glossy chocolate on the outside. The Neo Cocoa chocolates were totally different – they are the “hearts” of the truffle – pure ganache. They come in an array of inventive, unique, perfectly balanced flavors such as lime zest (my favorite), almond butter & smoked sea salt, toasted coconut, mocha cinnamon, and crushed cacao nib. They also make exquisite salted caramels (shown above), and a variety of seasonal flavors.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI knew instantly after my first taste that I had found my chocolates. They are truly exquisite and encompass everything I love about artisinal foods. High-quality, locally sourced ingredients combined with pure passion from the producer come together to create a product that can’t be described in words. The only way to experience this for yourself is to get some of these chocolates and put them in your face.

Winelandia will be featuring a 10-piece sampler box of Neo Cocoa Truffles for our Valentine’s Day gift pack, which will also include a bottle of Champagne (the real deal, from Champagne) and a personalized card that you can send to your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. Your very own Cupid (that’s me) will be delivering these amazing chocolates, delicious Champagne, and thoughtful card to your Valentine’s home or office on February 14th.  To get in on the offer, keep your eyes peeled for our formal announcement which will include a way to purchase one of these for your honey.

Support small, local businesses! By purchasing goods that are made locally, you keep more money in your community and provide people with the means they need to operate their businesses and live their lives.

Coming Soon: Winelandia’s Online Shop!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACan you believe it’s been nearly a year since we launched the Winelandia blog? We sure can’t. It seems like only yesterday we were wrestling with WordPress, flexing our dusty writing muscles, trying to find our place in the blogosphere. The good news is that December was a record-breaking month for us in terms of blog traffic, even with all the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Our readership and wine club are growing every day, and we are grateful for all of our supporters – old and new.

Winelandia is quickly growing too big for her britches, and we will be expanding the website in the coming weeks to support an online shop where you can buy a la carte offers and other goodies from us with the click of a button. We have all sorts of exciting things in the pipes, such as a Valentine’s Day gift pack which includes locally-produced truffles, wine, and a personalized card for your sweetheart.

Things may be a little funny during the migration process to our new website, so please be patient with us while we iron out the kinks. We will keep you informed of any scheduled down-time or site maintenance that may be taking place.

In the meantime, you can still sign up for our 2-case per year wine subscription at https://signup.winelandia.com. Our next shipment is going out in early February and we have some really exciting wines lined up.

Much love from the ladies at Winelandia HQ, and we wish you the happiest and most prosperous new year. Cheers!

The Winelandia Holiday Lineup!

The Holiday 6-Pack has already sold out, thanks to everyone who ordered! We do have some of the La Vigne di Alice Brut Tajad and the Celler Acustic Red blend available for purchase. We can also re-order any of these wines by the case, so please let us know if you are interested in special-ordering by emailing orders@winelandia.com.

The Winelandia 2013 Holiday Lineup

NV Le Vigne di Alice Tajad Brut
Winemakers: Pier Francesca Bonicelli & Cinzia Canzian
Bio: Cinzia and Pier are sisters-in-law who set out in 2004 to produce artisinal Prosecco that is all their own. They started Le Vigne di Alice, an homage to Cinzia’s grandmother Alice who worked in the family’s osteria. The winery is in the northern-most reaches of the Conegliano and Valdobiaddene hills with the Dolomites in their backyard. Their focus is sustainably farming and producing natural, top-notch Prosecco.
Region: Veneto
Country: Italy
Vineyard: Estate
Blend: Verdisio, Glera & Boschera (proprietary field blend)
Aging: 45-60 days on the lees
Production Notes: Produced from sustainably farmed grapes using the Charmat method. This fun and rustic wine is produced as a field blend of three estate-grown indigenous Italian grape varietals – verdisio, glera and boschera. The chalky, rocky, lean soils lend a pure, mineral edge to this brut-dry sparkling wine. Perfect as an aperitif or with a cheese plate, this unusual Italian sparkler is sure to please wine geeks and novices alike.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of mineral and fruit; crisp and lean.
Food Pairings: Sushi, asparagus, nuts, prosciutto, Italian cheeses

2010 Suriol Cava Brut Nature
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemakers: Assis & Eudad Suriol
Bio: Cellers de Can Suriol is a family estate devoted to making traditional and ecologically sustainable wines using as little intervention as possible. They have been growing grapes and making wine on the same property located in the Alt Penedés since the 15th century.
Region: Alt Penedés, Cava
Country: Spain
Vineyard: Certified Organic, calcareous soil vineyards. 25 year old vines.
Blend: 40% Macabeo, 30% Xarlel-lo, 30% Parellada
Aging: 20 months on the lees
Production Notes: Fermented with indigenous yeasts in a vat, malolactic fermentation in concrete, secondary fermentation in the bottle. This vintage-dated Cava is quite unusual in it’s richness, body, complexity, and seductive character. We love the fine bubbles and beautiful golden color – it would be an excellent wine to pop open on New Year’s Eve to ring in the new year with friends and loved ones.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of honey, citrus, flowers, and anise. Medium bodied, mineral, and fruit-filled with a long finish.
Food Pairings: Jamón, seafood (fried, fresh, grilled), hard Spanish cheeses, tapas, tortilla española

NV François Pinon Vouvray Brut Non-Dose
Winemaker: François Pinon
Bio: François Pinon is a retired child psychologist, making some of the best wines in Vouvray since 1987. He aims to maintain typicity of the region in his wines.
Region: Vouvray (Loire Valley)
Country: France
Vineyard: Certified Organic, estate-grown. Clay and silica soil on a base of tuffeau (limestone) and silex (flint). Average vine age is 25 years. Vineyards are plowed & hand-harvested, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides are never used.
Blend: 100% Chenin Blanc
Aging: 12 months sur lie
Production Notes: Only certified Organic estate fruit is used in the production of this wine, and the care taken in the vineyard really shines through. Aging occurs in a combination of stainless steel tanks and foudres (old, large-format oak casks) to maintain balance and freshness. Non-Dosé means there was no sugar added during disgorgement, so this wine is very dry. The finished wine is then sterile-filtered instead of heavily dosed with SO2 to provide stability.
Tasting Notes: 
Have you ever had a sparkling Vouvray? It’s like drinking real Champagne without the deep regret of emptying your bank account. Chenin Blanc lends itself to this Loire Valley specialty, producing a nuanced and delicious sparkling wine. Fresh, savory, bubbly, Chenin Blanc goodness. It’s our favorite sparkling wine from Vouvray.
Food Pairings:
Oysters, shellfish, goat cheese, trout, brunch foods, salads.

2010 Celler Acústic Red Blend
Winemaker: Albert Jané
Bio: Albert Jané, a third-generation winemaker, believes the best wines are made with old winemaking techniques.
Region: Montsant (Catalunya)
Country: Spain
Vineyard: The organically farmed vineyards (planted in 1932) are located at high elevations, between 1200′ & 2200′. The soil is composed of clay, rock and sand.
Blend: Samsó & Garnacha
Aging: 10-12 months in new & used French oak barrels
Production Notes: Hand-harvested grapes are fermented with indigenous yeasts. The wine is racked using gravity into the estate’s 200 year old underground tanks, then is aged in a combination of new and used French oak barrels for 10-12 months. The wine is unfined, unfiltered, and a true expression of Montsant terroir.
Tasting Notes:
Ripe, layered black & red fruits, balanced acidity, supple tannins, and well-integrated oak make this wine perfect for drinking on it’s own or enjoying with food.
Food Pairings:
Braised beef, stew, roasted game birds, charcuterie, mushroom dishes, or delicious all by itself.

2010 Réméjeanne ‘Les Arbousiers’ Côtes du Rhône
Winemaker: Rémy Klein
Bio: Originally established in 1960, Rémy took over the domain from his father in 1988. He constantly strives to improve upon the quality of his wines by trying new approaches, and expands the vineyards while planting fig and olive trees.
Region: Côtes du Rhône
Country: France
Vineyard: Certified Organic vineyards rest at an elevation of 650′-900′ in sandstone and limestone soils. Vines are an average age of 25 years. The higher elevations and geographic location of the vineyard creates a much cooler climate than the surrounding areas.
Blend: 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah
Aging: 12 months in cement tanks
Production Notes: Grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed, and cold-soaked prior to fermentation. This red wine is from a cooler part of the Southern Rhone, which imparts a freshness and liveliness not usually found in wines from this region.
Tasting Notes:
This wine has density, concentration, and structure which all interplay to produce a delicious, harmonious red wine. Notes of red fruit, tobacco, licorice, mint and spice.
Food Pairings:
Roasted chicken, root vegetables, burgers, onion soup, pizza, sausage.

2011 Domaine Filliatreau ‘La Grand Vignolle’ Saumur-Champigny
Winemaker: Frédrik Filliatreau
Bio: A 4th generation winemaker, Frédrik continues to work with his family to produce wines from various vineyards in Saumur-Champigny.
Region: Saumur-Champigny
Country: France
Vineyard: La Grand Vignolle is a well-known vineyard which rests atop a tufa-stone outcrop that runs along the Loire river. The old vines are organically farmed and yields are kept low.
Blend: 100% Cabernet Franc
Aging: Stainless steel
Production Notes: The highly calcareous soil lends acidity and juiciness that is often lost in wines from this region. The wine is aged in tanks instead of oak, which adds additional freshness to the wine. The wines of Saumur-Champigny are some of our favorite old-world Cabernet Franc – a genetic parent of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. While this wine is drinking well now, it would make a great gift for a person who is interested in aging wine.
Tasting Notes:
Chisled red fruit, tobacco & licorice. Full-bodied and structured with herbal notes which are the hallmark of Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley.
Food Pairings: 
Aged goat cheese, lamb, duck, vegetable dishes, steak with pepper, eggplant.

Pre-Order your Winelandia Holiday 6-Pack!

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, we are ramping up to offer a 6-pack of Holiday wines perfectly suited to the month of December. There will be celebrations with friends, office parties, holiday meals, gift-giving, and New Year’s Eve. We are putting together a collection of wines that will pair with all of your events, which will include three fuller-bodied red wines and three sparkling wines in the $20 range. The total price of the 6-pack will not exceed $125, excluding tax and shipping.

The best thing about the Winelandia Holiday 6-Pack is that you needn’t be a Wine Club member to buy it – it’s available as an a la carte purchase to everyone. So if you’ve been on the fence about joining our wine club and want to see what we have to offer before making a commitment, this is the perfect time to do it.

We are finalizing the list this week but we are taking pre-orders. We will be shipping & delivering early next week. Sign up at https://signup.winelandia.com. We will get back to you to finalize your order. Delivery within San Francisco is free and there’s a $5 delivery fee for orders within the Bay Area. If you are outside of the Bay Area, UPS shipping is billed at cost.

Support small businesses this holiday season and give happiness! Give wine!