now is the time to try: wines from Glamma and Kathy Lee Gifford’s GIFFT
by John Dunham, Wine & Spirits Columnist
One of the nice things about writing about wine is that occasionally something fun just shows up at your door. This happened a couple of weeks ago when three bottles of wine from Glamma Wine arrived. Glamma wines are produced in Paso Robles California, one of the country’s most versatile wine regions. They are inspired by celebration, and good times with family, friends and fine wine, and their provocative labels featuring a socialite in an evening gown entering a room evoke a feeling of celebration and – well glamor.
Later that month we were invited onboard the Carnival Splendor at the New York Passenger Ship Terminal to meet someone who truly knows about “fun”: Kathy Lee Gifford who was the original Carnival “fun ship” spokesperson, whose GIFFT wines are served on Carnival Cruise Lines Ships (and she has a new wine, a GIFFT rose that will soon be joining the other wines onboard Carnival ships).m If you haven’t tried these fun wines that are perfect for celebration, parties, or “just because” now is the perfect time.
Glamma produces three varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Chardonnay) as well as a sparkling wine by contract at Solana Cellars located on California’s Central Coast. We tasted the Cabernet, the Viognier and the sparkling, which at $18 a bottle was the belle of this ball. The Glamma Bubble Bling was a pale yellow in color with a bright somewhat yeasty nose. It had a very active mouse, and a palate that featured some apple, pear and a yeasty overlay. It was quite well balanced and was a very good representation of a California sparkling. At the current price point it is a very good choice for a celebration, just like the folks at Glamma suggests.
We followed the Bubble Bling with the Viognier, which is an excellent varietal that is often compared with Chardonnay. We feel that the Viognier grape actually produces more complex full-bodied whites with a soft character that is more fruit forward. The Glamma 2013 Viognier ($24 a bottle) reflected this. The wine was light golden in color with a classic Viognier nose of peach, pineapple and other tropical fruits. The wine did present some oak on the palate with a distinct vanilla, and “pumpkin pie” note above the fruit forward nature of the wine. It is a good pairing wine for chicken, fish, and even the spicier foods that one would serve a Riesling with like Chinese food or Indian curries, and while we think of this varietal more as a workhorse of a white wine cellar, the intriguing label and branding do help make the Glamma Viognier a good house give or celebration wine.
We also tried the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, and have generally found Paso Cabernet’s to be fine examples of the varietal. The Glamma Cabernet ($28 a bottle) was price on the higher end for wines of this type, and maybe because of its fairly old age for a California wine did not show as well as the label’s whites. The wine was a garnet color, somewhat lighter than would be expected. The nose was fruity with the expected black fruits and strawberry notes. On the palate these were enhanced by some licorice, and a bit of spice. The wine has good structure and at the same time a good soft tannic nature; however, it had a roughness that one would not really want in a California wine at this price point. While this may be due to the current age of the wine and might age out over time, we expect a California Cabernet to be an early drinking wine so it should be advised that the 2009 Glamma Cabernet might require a bit more hold time.
GIFFT Wine and Carnival Cruise Lines
A few weeks later we got a unique invitation to sample a unique wine, Kathy Lee Gifford’s GIFFT Rose, that will be featured on the Fun Ships of Carnival Cruise Line. The launch was hosted by none other than the original “fun ship cruise” spokesperson herself: TV personality Kathy Lee. Ms. Gifford was on hand aboard the Carnival Splendor in New York harbor to showcase the wine and a tasting for a select group of editors.
The wines are produced under contract by Scheid Family Wines Monterey California for Kathy Lee and are generally available to the public. GIFFT produces a Chardonnay, a Merlot based red blend, and the wine featured on the ship, a rose of Pinot Noir. The 2014 GIFFT Pinot Noir Rose ($17 per bottle), was salmon-pink in color with a strawberry nose very similar to a Provence rose. The palate also featured the minerality that one sees in a Provence, with red fruits, strawberry and good acidity. While priced on the high side compared to similar products from Provence, the celebrity provenance provides GIFFT with a special a value at dinner parties, for fun times while cruising, and as a – well a GIFFT.
Carnival Cruise Lines featuring the GIFFT collection of wines on all 24 ships in its fleet. Kathie Lee Gifford became closely associated with the Fun Ship brand in the 1980’s when Carnival launched the first national television ad campaigns in the cruise industry, becoming the line’s first spokesperson and appearing in such memorable campaigns as “If You Could See Me Now” and “Ain’t We Got Fun?” check out the Advice Sisters exclusive YouTube Video of Kathy Lee talking about the importance of relationships, Carnival Cruise Line, how she was selected to be the “fun ship” spokesperson, and hear her listen to her sing new lyrics (a capella) to the Carnival Cruise jingle “If You Could See Me Now.”
*during the editing of this piece, Frank Gifford, Kathy Lee Gifford’s beloved suddenly husband, passed away. The Advice Sisters offer our condolences to Kathy Lee and her family.
For more about Glamma wines visit the Glamma Wines Web Site and solanacellars.com
For more about Gifft wines visit http://www.gifftwines.com/
For more about Carnival Cruise Lines visit the official Carnival web site