Hofsas House Carmel-by-the-Sea: A central, tasty stay

422450_10150590205892639_1292516201_nEarlier this year, the Lady and I had a chance to stay at a continually refurbished gem in one of our fav places on earth: Carmel-by-the-Sea (FB, Tw, IG, YT).  We hadn’t had a chance to stay at the Hofsas House Hotel (FB, Tw, Blog) in a number of years, so we were excited to be granted a media weekend stay at the centrally located property, courtesy of the hotel and Chatterbox Wine Marketing. Family owned and operated for over 60 years, the Hofsas is a longtime landmark for the entire Monterey Peninsula, with its Bavarian charm and singular ocean views atop the hill in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

IMG_5171Longtime Vinopanions know that Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Valley are two very special places for the Lady and I.  Not only is it our preferred weekend getaway spot, but Carmel Valley is also our favorite #wine appellation (ssh, don’t tell my hometown, Napa)!  When we first started visiting Carmel back in 2000, one of the first places we stayed was right there at the Hofsas. We were taken in by the Bavarian styling and beautiful murals by featured artist Maxine Albro, famous for her murals in San Francisco, alongside Diego Rivera’s own. The Theis family has been serving guests with compassion and infectious happiness for much longer than that, but the service has always remained the same. Donna Hofsas founded the hotel in the early 1940’s with her husband Fred.  Fast forward through many beautiful years of management by various family offspring and now Donna’s granddaughter, Carrie Theis has been General Manager since our first year there, in 2000.  Carrie is not just a small business owner in town, she also sits on the city council and has been instrumental in bringing many wine and food-friendly changes to her artistic village by the sea.

IMG_5163The Hofsas sits a couple blocks north of Ocean Ave, on San Carlos Street.  It is easy and very short walking distance to anything in Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Beach, and less than 15 minutes away from everything else on the Monterey Peninsula, including Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach and Cannery Row, Monterey. For this visit, we chose to stay in town and walk all weekend (something very easy to do in Carmel!).  The Hofsas offers many great, very affordable stay packages and we chose the Tail Wagging Package, as we were traveling with our little pug Jasper Tinto.  Carmel is extremely dog-friendly (off leash at the beach!) and with this package we received a number of doggie treats, a dog frisbee, collapsable dog bowl, and a number of dog-friendly tips and recommendations.

IMG_5807The Theis’ were also kind enough to comp us a Wine and Cheese Package as well, which is a phenomenal steal for #winelover’s and #foodie’s. This package includes a bottle of local wine and paired cheeses from another longtime fav, The Cheese Shop, upon arrival.  Another fantastic wine activity is the Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea Tasting Passport (FB, Tw, IG). Normally only $65, this gives you 9 wine flight tastings at any of the 14 participating winery tasting rooms, all just blocks away from each other and the Hofsas, which is a crazy deal. The Wine and Cheese Package plus the Walk by-the-Sea Passport together are only $95. Many of our longtime wine loves are part of the Tasting Passport: Galante Vineyards (WL, FB, Tw) and Wrath Wines (WL, FB, Tw), along with new discoveries Silvestri Vineyards (WL, FB) and the fantastic De Tierra Vineyards (WL, FB, Tw). Paired with the Carmel Food Tours (FB, Tw, IG, YT) which are also available, this here is a wine and food heaven!

We at Vinopanion can’t recommend the Hofsas House any higher, for food lovers, golfers, beachcombers, dog lovers and of course, wine lovers.  Book your summer stay now, before they completely fill up! Cheers!

mural

Speedy Holiday Wine Recommendations

The holidays get busy.  You barely have time to shop, decorate, make food, attend parties, try not to get drunk and, OH YEAH, still work!  All of this stress adds up, manifesting itself in strange ways and differently within each person, as evidenced by the varying types of “holiday spirit” seen in the photo on the right.

You don’t have time for this!  Your time is too precious to waste upon wondering which kind of wine to bring to coworker Aaron’s holiday party and wait, is it Aaron or Erin…CRAP, you’re so stressed you can’t even remember!  It is with these conundrums in mind that I have constructed my Vinopanion holiday wine recommendations and pairings, listed below.  Short, sweet (or dry!) and to the point.  Let’s drink.

[Note: Reeeally in a hurry?  Skip to the bottom for the list of wines recommended and no jibber-fabber.]

Bubbly:

Pair with just about everything, including the high pressure, yet celebratory mood of the season.  Blammo!  You just paired everything at once, how fast is that!?

 Freixenet Cava Cordon Negro Brut NV – $9

This under-$10 Spanish sparkler is our hands-down, go-to daily bubbly.  Yes…we drink bubbly that often.

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Color: Meyer lemon yellow, with green highlights and a medium fine, robust bead.

Nose: Clean and bright lemon with just a tinge of cream, and some kiwi to round things off, along with some light florals.

Palate: Crisp and zesty, with that same, but now juicy lemon from the nose, those same white florals enter in the mid-palate and ride out to the juicy, multiple layered lemon finish. Good as always, and always a great value play: QPRWK.

Freixenet Cava Elyssia Pinot Noir Brut NV – $18

Another Spanish bubbly win that while not made from a traditional Spanish varietal, this a great example of a well-made rosé sparkler.

Color: Beautiful darker watermelon red, with a fine and very robust, fine bead.

Nose: Great red fruited nose of juicier strawberry and bright Bing cherry, complemented by some zestier red grapefruit.

Palate: Medium-bodied, with that same fine and zesty bead on the palate, with great red grapefruit acidity and an underlay of cream and toast. Finishes with smooth, sweeter Bing cherry.

 Schramsberg Vineyards North Coast Brut Rosé 2004 – $40

Here’s your heavier hitter, featuring some creaminess and added complexity to the fine examples already listed above.  This is our favorite producer of domestic bubbly.

Color: Pale salmon, fine bead, robust mousse.

Nose: Cherry with strawberry cream.

Palate: Starts with citrus, bright cherry and then some cream and lemon at end. Full body. Very good: NewWorldWK.

Rosé:

Why dry rosé, you ask?  Well, it just so happens to match most everything on the table, as well, with its tasty acidity and lack of tannin.  It’s also perfect for those guests that say bubbles give them a headache, or the other one that only eats fish…and drinks bold red wines.

 Georis Carmel Valley Estate Les Abeilles Rosé 2008 – $22

This is the high-end rosé from my favorite winery and the one that introduced me to good, dry rosé.  Just a phenomenal mix of vibrant acidity, complex and juicy fruit, all mingling with some extra floral notes.  Outstanding fun.

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Color: Light salmon pink

Nose: Quite good and a bit crisper than last vintage with bright strawberry, celery root and light florals.

Palate: Also very good and right up there, perhaps even surpassing the superb ’07.  Good complexity again here of bright, crisp red fruit, light fresh garden herbs and even lighter floral notes, finishing with a crisp strawberry, juicy cherry mix! AwesomeWK.

Albret Navarra Rosado Garnacha 2010 – $15

Another Spanish wine here showing very good quality (hmm, could there be a pattern!?).  This has all that I like in my dry pinks: zesty acidity and juicy red fruit, cut with robust citrus.

Color: Light ruby, with almost clear edges.

Nose: Very juicy and bright red fruit on the nose and some red apple as well. Very inviting.

Palate: Very bright, great mix of citrus, tart cherry and cranberry, with some strawberry underneath. Very zesty acidity, some hint of tannins, but still lighter bodied. Good.

 County Line Anderson Valley Elke Home Ranch Rosé 2010 – $18

This is just a heavenly wine, with such crazy complexity for a rosé that you almost forget to just sit back, enjoy and have fun with it…almost.

Color: Beautiful light salmon pink and copper colored.

Nose: Earthier but still ripe and bright, strawberry and cherry.

Palate: Good bright and juicy acidity with the lightest of tannins complement this light-bodied strawberry, raspberry and dusty cherry rosé. Finishes with zesty plum skin. I’ve been a fan of this wine for a number of years, great stuff from Eric Sussman, yet again: NewWorldWK.

Lighter Reds:

OK, you’ve been plowing through the bubbly and dry rosé with your friends whilst avoiding your family and now you’re looking for something a little heavier and YOU’RE RIGHT!  You only want to reach for reds that are on the lighter side; all that tannin, toasty oak, and big alcohol is going to squash your food.  So shoot for things like Pinot and Cabernet Franc, for instance.

Wild Horse Central Coast Pinot Noir 2008 – $20

This is one of my favorite wineries to mention when someone asks me about affordable pinot noir.  Yes, $20 isn’t cheap, but for the finicky grape, it’s quite low, yet this has quality that is quite high: yesss.

Color: Ruby core, light ruby edges

Nose: Distinct fresh cherry pie, complete with toasty pie crust, very bright.

Palate: Cherry pie here as well, fuller body and smooth and chalky mouthfeel, toast out to the cola finish: QPRWK.

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Masút Vineyard and Winery Mendocino Estate Pinot Noir 2009 – $40

This one brings the bigger guns to the table, but only in comparison to other pinot.  This has phenomenal savory aromas and flavors to balance the silky soft tannins and earthy red fruit.  This Estate vineyard is also organically farmed, by the family that brought organic farming to the vino mainstream, the Fetzers.

Color: Medium to lighter ruby, clear edges

Nose: Very reductive at first, but with 30 minutes of air, it totally reverses, showing earthy red fruit, slight baking spice, light toast and slight loam.

Palate: Light bodied, good brightness, earthy red fruit, with nice touches of more savory flavors hinted at, then the light tannins and good acidity kick in for a long spicy, rhubarb and cola finish: OldWorldWK.

 Titus Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 2009 – $36

This one almost breaks my lighter rule with its alcohol, but it’s so sexy smooth and filled with great food pairing components like soft tannins, juicier acidity, and nice savory notes that it fits right in with this crew.

Color: Deeper ruby with some highlights of violet, medium ruby edges.

Nose: Very good, with some integrating toast, followed by cherry tobacco, deep red fruit with darker hints of cassis and some rose petal just showing through, loam.

Palate: Very smooth and while bigger in alcohol, the balance is definitely here, with that same deep red/black fruit from the nose, soft and almost silky tannins and very food-friendly acidity, all with a finish that show some savory earthiness, sweeter tobacco and toast: NewWorldWK.

And there ya go!  You can find all of these wines tagged with “2011Holidays” to put in your own WineLog and they are also conveniently listed below.  Cheers!

[winelist query=”2011Holidays” num=”100″]