Hope is in your glass

By Celia Strong

Well, we have three new wines this week: two reds and a white. And each brings something above and beyond some wine and a good time and a possible buzz.

To start, I will introduce you to a new concept that is showing up in the wine world. All of us, over past years, have been to wine tastings that were held as fundraisers for one cause or another. A wine tasting has always been a great way to get people together, give them something that they enjoy, get them a little relaxed (thanks to some heavy-handed pouring), talk casually about the “cause” of the tasting, and get them to donate some money somehow. In the last year or so, some producers have come up with the idea of making a wine, or wines, where some or all of the profits are earmarked for a cause. Example? Some of us were able to take part in Folonari’s fundraising for ovarian cancer during the month of September. Folonari gave, donated, all month, $0.50 cents from each bottle they sold of any of their wines to benefit research on ovarian cancer. When faced with a choice of one of their wines versus another company’s wine, the choice seemed obvious. So, Folonari probably sold a bit more total wine last month and they helped society at the same time.

Other wineries are also working with new ways of helping and “giving back” to their customers. Which takes us to Jake Kloberdanz. A resident of Manhattan Beach, in California, he had a  23-year-old friend who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Jake, feeling that he had to help, worked out giving 50 percent of the profits from his company. And, in case you haven’t guessed, his company is a winery. Located in El Segundo, ONEHOPE was founded in June 2007. As of last year, ONEHOPE has sold 50,000 cases of wine and they have donated more than $1 million dollars since 2007. At ONEHOPE, each variety of grape, and the wine it makes, is designated for one particular charity. Robert Mondavi, Jr. is the winemaker for these wine. Nice credentials.

So, now that we have an extra excuse to try our new wines this week — the more we drink the more we also help. So, let’s look at our three wines. First, only because it’s the first one we got at the store and it seems easy enough to take them in that order, we have the ONEHOPE Zinfandel. This Zinfandel helps our troops and their families. This red wine was chosen for this particular cause because the variety is uniquely American. (I know it has an Italian heritage, but the wines it makes in California are especially American.)  A blend of Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast grapes, there is also a tiny bit of Syrah blended in. The wine is a deep red color and loaded with dark red and black fruit flavors (black cherries, plums, black raspberries). And it has a black pepper spiciness too. Its textures are juicy in your mouth and they hold the flavors and linger for a long time. Perfect with pizza, barbecued ribs, leg of lamb. Hmmmm. Making me hungry. At $13.99.

Our second wine, also a red, is the ONEHOPE Pinot Noir. This wine is a more recent addition to the winery’s group, but it is partly the result of so many of their employees being animal lovers. This wine, partnered with the ASPCA, helps animals find permanent homes. Having been the recipient of many adopted pets, I am determined to like this wine. Again, a blend of grapes from the same three areas as the Zin, this Pinot Noir is delicate with lighter red fruit flavors — strawberries, cranberries, red cherries. The wine is aged for a short time in American oak barrels where it picks up some weight, some tannic structure and a bit of baking spice flavors. Lovely sipping Pinot, and it pairs well with seafood and poultry. At $12.99.

ONEHOPE Chardonnay is last, but not least. Half the profits from this Chardonnay go to breast cancer prevention and early detection. And, for every eight cases sold, ONEHOPE donates a mammogram to a woman who can’t afford one.  And, what about the wine?  ONEHOPE Chardonnay is hand-crafted also from a blend of grapes from select Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast vineyards, like our other wines. (It’s not like Robert Mondavi, Jr. doesn’t have any contacts to get good grapes when he wants to make a wine. With a cause like breast cancer prevention, or any of the others, taking the proceeds, he probably has no trouble getting what he needs.) This wine also has a small amount of Muscat and Chenin Blanc blended in. It is a pale straw gold color and has aromas of apple blossoms and honeysuckle. (Hello, Chenin Blanc.) The flavors add in fresh pears with the apples, and hints of oaky vanilla. This wine’s acidity is crisp and refreshing and it is medium bodied and dry. Try this wine with shellfish and poultry, light Asian flavors, fruit and cheese platters. Jeez. Hungry again. Of particular interest, as we taste this wine, we might all remember October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. ONEHOPE wants to raise $100,000 dollars just this month! At $9.99.

And, now we have our three new wines.  Each a good one, and each with and extra reason for us to drink them. All these years, many wineries have done many wonderful things to support their consumers. Now, with ONEHOPE, we can all feel like we are helping too. Because we are. All we have to do is think about these wines when we want a bottle. I know we’ve only mentioned three, but there are other flavors.  But, let’s save them for another time. For now, sip, give and, above all, enjoy!

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