Monday, December 17, 2007
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that since we are, once again, in the family way, wine drinking will be shelved and I will turn my attention to providing some beer reviews. Beer. It's not just for breakfast anymore. No, that's not what I meant to say. Life is too short for crappy beer. Yes, that's better. Because, honestly, a good beer is just as good as a nice bottle of wine and should be enjoyed and appreciated similarly.
Smuttynose Winter Ale: At the suggestion of TwoBusy, I grabbed this seasonal offering. FYI: all reviews in this post are winter offerings. According to the Smuttynose site, the Winter Ale "is a full-bodied, amber beer brewed with a special Trappist ale yeast. Stylistically reminiscent of a Belgian Abbey Double, it features fruity aromas and flavor, balanced by soft Crystal hops." Yeah, this description just tells me that I have some learnin' to do. I will say that TwoBusy's recommendation was spot-on and it is a very fine beer and great winter brew for holiday parties or just sitting fireside watching the snow fall. It will certainly help you forget the twelve inches of snow in your driveway and the cookie sheet and broomstick you call a shovel waiting for you.
Ipswich Winter Ale: This one I picked up because of the strong showing of the Ipswich IPA, which is quite yummy. Yes, that's beer talk - yummy = more gooder. Yes, more beer jargon. Looks like you need some learnin' too. Anyway, it pours a rich medium brown with a nice head to it. It has a distinct malty aroma and taste and a nice dose of hops, but not overly so. Initial taste is sweet and the finish is a tad bitter, but not off-putting. Another enjoyable beer for this time of year.
Great Divide Hibernation Ale: I've heard great things about Great Divide Brewing, but have never taken the plunge and purchased anything from them. Something about being old and set in ways. But I decided I would allow them the opportunity to introduce themselves to me through their Hibernation Ale. What a great first impression. It's a strong ale that pours a deep red bordering on murky brown. The initial taste was a nice balance of malt and hops. I found that balance quite nice but would have enjoyed a little more hoppiness, but that's just me. That takes nothing away from this beer's goodness. Hibernation is an award-winning beer that also ages very well. Yes, I guess, much like wine, beer can be aged as well, which allows it to develop different character traits over time. See, you learn something new every day. This is not, however, a beer to be taken lightly or shotgunned as it comes in at 8.1% ABV - not too shabby. A very good sippin' beer.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Like we’ve done for the past few years, Sue and I picked up a bottle of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais nouveau. This is the French red wine that is fermented for just a few weeks and comes out annually on the third Thursday of November—Beaujolais Day—and is best drunk lightly chilled. It’s also best not to let this wine age more than a few weeks or months at most.
Usually, we’ve enjoyed the Beaujolais. We never expect anything great from it—it’s cheap, light and pretty unexceptional, but it’s usually fun and a decent fruity wine. This year though we couldn’t even finish it. It was too light and tasted like watered-down sour grape juice.
I looked for some other reviews to see if Sue and I were alone in our opinion here. We weren’t—I found some pretty terrible reviews of the 2007 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais nouveau. I also found some reviewers who enjoyed it for what it was. If I were in the habit of trying this wine every year (which I guess I am), I’d probably still pick up a bottle. Just don’t expect much.
Does anyone else have a good holiday wine for review? Maybe a wine you’ve given or received as a gift? Let us know and post a review.
Happy holidays, everyone.
Friday, November 30, 2007
This is not a wine post. For reasons mentioned above, we haven't been drinking any wine and I'm not one to go opening bottles and finishing them off myself. Well, not anymore. Let's leave the past in the past, shall we? Great. Moving on. I've been drinking more microbrews. That's not to say that I've been flogging my palate with Bud talls or Mich Lights and have only recently seen the light and the errors of my ways. Nooooooo. I've just been branching out and trying breweries with which I'm not all that familiar. I could extol the virtues of Sam Adams Octoberfest until the cows come home, but I thought I'd share some of the others I'm enjoying.
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
Oh, Lord has there ever been a better tasting IPA? I like hoppy beer. Scratch that - I have grown to love hoppy beer. There was a time when I was all about blondes and reds and "crispy" beers. No more. I'm all about the hops now. Dogfish is one of those brews I never paid any mind to - it's rare you find it on draft anywhere and when confronted by a slew of other offerings, I'm always tempted to stay with what I know: Hooker, Red Hook, Harpoon, etc. But, TwoBusy posted about a particular Dogfish a while back so I was intrigued. I grabbed this offering (a four-pack), encouraged as I was by the quote: Esquire Magazine calls our 90 Minute I.P.A., “perhaps the best I.P.A. in America.” Well, color me curious. You know what? It's good. Really good. But if you're not a fan of hops, you might want to stay away as it's up there on the International Bitterness Units clocking in at a 90 (for comparison: Guinness is in the 45-60 range and typical IPA is 40 and above). It also has an ABV of 9.0% - not quite the potency of EKU 28, but up there nonetheless. In short, well worth the purchase and added to the "buy again" list.
Magic Hat #9
I had my first Magic Hat #9 about seven or eight years ago. I remember I thought it was good, but didn't pay it much mind after that. Fast forward to this summer. I purchased the Magic Hat Variety Pack which offered Fat Angel, Circus Boy, Hocus Pocus and #9. A very good selection of beers, but I fell in love with the #9. The #9 is "not quite a pale ale" of the English Ale variety. It's malty and sweet and finishes both hoppy and fruity. See, Magic Hat adds apricot. But this is no fruit beer a la Dogfish's ApriHop - it's just a little extra flavor that if you concentrated hard enough you'd notice, but neither overpowers nor defines this great beer. Along with Fat Angel, goes on the "buy again" list.
I might start drinking some wine by myself for the next few months to maintain some posts here from the Dubyas, but I might also throw in some beer reviews from time-to-time as well, if you all don't mind.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
We’ve actually had a few bottles of wine since I’ve last posted. But none of those bottles have made it through to a review. I’m guessing that all of us get a little busier as the holidays get closer and posting wine reviews is one of the first things to go.
There are a few standby wines that we buy when we want to be sure we’re getting something good—a favorite Rioja or Chianti or any one of a few California wines. A great, moderately-priced and interesting red blend that we love is Red Truck.
Red Truck is a Sonoma blend that we’ve had many times. Recently though, Sue found a Red Truck Pinot Noir. I also learned from their website that Red Truck makes a Merlot and Cabernet. There’s also a White Truck blend, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and a Pink Truck. (All of the “Truck” wines are a division of Cline Cellars.)
As claimed, the 2006 Red Truck Pinot Noir was smooth with a mix of fruity and spicy tastes. I actually could make out the cherries that the label said were in there too. Sue and I both enjoyed this wine and, although we’re not great at describing tastes in detail, we recommend it. All of the Truck wines we’ve tried have been good and they always seem popular at our local wine stores too—even though the Red Truck name has only been used since 2002. The website seems fun too and you can sign up to become a “Friend of Red Truck.” I sent in my email address. If I get anything good, I’ll let you all know.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Billed as a wine that pairs well with chicken or pork, it had smooth citrus and melon notes that were a perfect complement for the hoisin sauce-based marinade I had slathered all over the ribs. What's more, for someone who has been slacking since joining this esteemed collection of drinkers, I am proud to report that it counted for three-in-one research: It's a California wine, it's a sparkling wine and it's a wine I'd give as a gift or serve during the holidays.
And just look at this packaging (captured poorly with my cell phone's camera):
Cute pink plastic! A delicate floral label! You know you want to grab a few bottles of this and get the girls together for a mani-pedi (and drinking a ton of this) night! You'll also find this sold in smart red cans (each of them with their own straw), a perfect solution for serving guests at holiday parties. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Monday, October 29, 2007
"Auxerrois is a close cousin
and recent DNA tests have proven
that both grapes hale from the same lineage."
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I didn't know what to expect - normally my wine consumption is limited to Rieslings and sweeter dessert wine (one reason I joined this group - to broaden my horizons). I really liked this wine. It was pleasantly fruity without being overpowering. There was a touch of sweetness that kept it balanced rather than dry or acidic. It paired nicely with both meals, as well as alone later in the evening! I would definitely purchase this one again.
Note: The name refers to the three wines that were mixed to make this smooth concoction: Chardonnay, Muscat and Chenin Blanc.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Darren doesn't want me to blog this. I bought a Beringer sparkling white zinfandel for the extra credit assignment, and we drank it last weekend. He made fun of it's pink color and asked if we would be drinking it from a shoe, and did he need a smoking jacket?
This is a non-vintage sparkling wine (can't call it Champagne because it's not from the Champagne region of France). It was pink, and bubbly. The cork had the fun "pop" action of all sparkling wine/champagne bottles - it felt celebratory even though we weren't really celebrating anything.
It was difficult to find a sparkling wine/champagne within the price guide here (ok, maybe I'm just a Champagne snob). This one was $9.99 and yes I did buy it because it was pink. Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
For an "everyday" celebration this would be a perfectly acceptable sparkling wine. It was dry, and not sweet or overly "fruity" (as say, an Asti would be). But if you're celebrating something special, I'd spring for a bottle of the real Champagne.
I picked up this 2005 California chardonnay (Hess Vineyards website is down tonight otherwise I'd link to it) because it was:
a. cheap (about $9.99 or so); and
We enjoyed it with an assortment of pickings (or tapas, depending on how formal you want to be!). After being in the fridge for about a month or so, the first very cold sip was nondescript - really I couldn't detect any taste. So we popped in the first of two John Cusack dvds (One Crazy Summer, followed by Sixteen Candles (look carefully, he's one of Farmer Ted's friends!)).
Once the wine warmed slightly, there still wasn't much to write or blog about. It was crisp, and dry, with no detectable fruit flavors. Really, it was very disappointing. Sure, we drank the whole bottle but when followed by an Australian chardonnay, the difference between the two was very noticable (the Australian was much better!). I can't see us buying this one again.
Friday, September 14, 2007
As I sit at home watching the RedSox Yankees game, I decided to treat myself to a glass of wine. I typically have beer with baseball (isn't that the American way?) but, the Big Duyba's at a work function and..... having a glass of wine alone seems slightly less alcoholic than having a few beers (I'm not so good at having a (one) beer.... I can have a (one) glass of wine)
So, I went upstairs to the wine rack to see if there was anything that tickled my fancy -- I came across a bottle of 2002 Danzante Merlot -- this is an Italian (the website says Danzante is Italian for Dancing) wine and the price tag said $8.99.
The label reads:
"Intense violet-red in color, with aromas of black currants, blueberries and soft spices. Danzante Merlot is the result of a meticulous search by Tim Mondavi and Lamberto Frescobaldi for quality vineyards in southern Italy. Grapes were hand-harvested from vines in Sicily's historic Agrigento province, an area where wine growing dates back to the 8th Century B.C."
The color is a very deep, dark red -- and the aromas are nice -- not too strong, but not overpowering. The flavor is velvety and the flavors are subtle and tasty - the tannins really bothered me in the beginning -- the first two or three sips were lovely, followed by that "back-of-the-throat-smack" that I hate in tannin-heavy wines..... but suddenly it's gone and it's enjoyable beginning to end.
I can't say that I love it, but..... for just under $9 it's a decent glass of wine.
And so it was that I sent the man of the house out with orders to get something -- anything -- from California, and just for fun make sure the anything in question had an interesting label.
He scratched his head, shrugged his shoulders and headed out the door with this ill-defined directive ringing in his ears. When he returned, he had a bottle of Joe Blow Red (I will not even waste your time on the other bottle he scored -- Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin. Sipping it made me sad).
Joe Blow Red ($10) is a blend of Syrah, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Billed as a serious wine with a none-too-serious label, you definitely get a lot of fun, fruity taste (I'm guessing that's from the Syrah and Zin, maybe?) with a hint of Cab kick. One wine writer suggested chilling it for 20 minutes to make it more refreshing in the warm weather, but me, I'm more of a room temperature red kind of girl, just on principle. Though it took me a while to warm up to it, it's not a bad wine; it's something I could see drinking with a grilled pork tenderloin or barbecued chicken breast, but it wouldn't stand up too well to a nice New York strip steak. And I would bet (just a hunch here) that this would be a perfect base for a homemade sangria.
Just a hunch.
If you try it, let me know what you think.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
To be fair, the reviews were mixed on this one. I thought that the 2005 Mourvèdre from Cline Cellars in Sonoma was dark, heavy and a little acidic. Sue thought that the wine was dark, heavy and a little acidic. For the same reasons, I liked it and Sue didn’t so much.
Mourvèdre is a grape that I hadn’t heard of before. The description on the back of the bottle explains that it’s an ancient, somewhat uncommon grape:
Mourvèdre is an exotic grape found in the Rhône and Provence regions of France, Spain and Australia. It is a key component in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and has a starring role in Bandol. Once widely planted in California (where it is often called Mataro), today only a tiny amount exists and Cline owns many of the historic ancient vines that remain. Redolent of dark plum and chocolate with a hint of oak, this juicy Ancient Vines Mourvèdre is delicious now and will age for well over a decade. A perfect complement to herb-roasted meats, grilled pork tenderloin or dark chocolate.
We didn’t have the wine with herb-roasted meat, grilled pork tenderloin or dark chocolate. (Do people really have much wine with chocolate?) We just opened the bottle at night and had it with some cheese. Both Sue and I got the dark fruit taste, but the chocolate undertone wasn’t so obvious. I guess liking this wine (as with almost any food or drink) is a matter of taste. If you like dark, fruity flavors, you may like it. Or you might find it too dark and heavy. If anyone else tries it (or has already), I’d really be interested in hearing what others think.
Cline Cellars’ website lists this wine at $18.00 retail, but I picked it up on a recommendation from the store clerk for $12.99.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Note: The Big Dubya was supposed to write this review, but he's got a head cold and just confessed that, despite being halfway through his glass, he still can't taste it..... so you are stuck with me.
Once again, we went to the ye ole wine rack for this bottle. According to www.wine.com it runs for about $19.99 -- I must have gotten it on sale, because I know I didn't pay that much for it.
I chose this label because when I was in Vegas a couple of years ago, my cousin recommended it. He's become somewhat of a wine snob in the past few years and he mentioned that Sterling was a wine that you could count on -- good value for short money. Generally speaking he knows what he's talking about -- particularly when it comes to wine, so I took his recommendation and picked up this bottle.
The label didn't offer a whole lot of information -- but the winemakers notes listed on www.wine.com are as follows:
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
We haven't tried it yet, but with a name like that, I couldn't resist.
2005 Italian -- Pinot Grigio or Rosso Primitivo. At $10.99, I figured, what the heck?
More to come once the cork is popped! ;)
But I see Sue and Darren beat us to the punch on this one. I figure we'll weigh in anyway -- with a name like that, they've got a good marketing niche!
Friday, August 31, 2007
Neither Sue nor I have posted here much in the past couple months. But not to worry—we did get most of the assignments done. Unfortunately, like Mrs. Big Dubya, we drank a couple bottles of wine on vacation and didn’t take the best notes. Here’s what we remember.
The wine we purchased specifically for the extra-credit blend assignment was an Italian Sangiovese and Merlot blend from Luna di Luna. We don’t remember the year or price, but it couldn’t have been that old and the price was well within the guidelines here. This brand is famous for its blends in colorful bottles. We’ve tried the brand before (I think we’ve had the Merlot/Cabernet blend in the red bottle, and the Chardonnay/Sauvignon in the green), but we weren’t very impressed with this one. It was a little too acidic and fruity for our tastes.
Another wine we tried on vacation was in a bottle that Sue picked up based on the name and label (and we've all seen how that usually works out). It was a 2005 Mommy’s Time Out and given that name (and the quality of the website which I just found) we didn’t expect anything. But this one was a good surprise. It’s from Primitivo grapes in the Puglia region of Italy, which, I’ve just learned, have been found to be genetically identical to California Zinfandel grapes. The wine was smooth, a little oakey, and had a great balance of fruity flavors. It was also well under our price guideline. How can you beat that? Only by giving the wine a better name and marketing.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The Big Dubya and I decided to try a bottle that was already on our wine rack -- Wild Horse Winery's 2005 Pinot Noir. I'm honestly not sure where this bottle came from -- it may have been a gift, I may have just picked it up based on it's pretty label (it's been known to happen) -- but, based on this site, it runs about $13.49.
The label describes it as follows:
Our 2005 Pinot Noir is a blend of fruit sourced from some of the most highly acclaimed vineyards in the Central Coast. Exceptional fruit, combined with traditional winemaking techniques helped to create this elegant wine, rich with varietal character. Aromas of black cherry, rosewater and cinnamon are followed by a silky, smooth mouthfeel. Enjoy with salmon, duck and mushroom risotto.
The website describes it as:
The name Wild Horse is nearly synonymous with incredible Pinot Noirs. Offering up vibrant aromas and flavors of cherry, pomegranate, cola, and Oriental spices, our Pinot Noirs are consistently praised for their complexity and good value. They are, without a doubt, the most food-friendly red wines we produce. Our flagship wine!
I did get the fruit flavors...... maybe the cinnamon and perhaps the Oriental spices... not really sure though. The flavor was kind of flat, shallow and a little bit bitter. We didn't pair it with anything -- just an after dinner glass, so maybe if paired with the right meal we would have enjoyed it more -- but I had half a glass and dumped the rest. The Big Dubya agreed that this wouldn't make our buy again list.
Bottom line -- it won't take Wild Horses to keep us away from this one.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Long time no post.... I know, I know.....
In my defense, I was in CA and didn't forget about my Whinery responsibilities..... I thought of you all when I enjoyed a delicious Pinot Noir at my cousin's rehearsal dinner -- it was so delicious in fact that I decided to review it for the blog's August assignment. I even went so far as to have Aunt P take a photo of the bottle so that I wouldn't forget the name (she's in Key West this week, so I still don't have the photo).
If you must know, it was so delicious that I drank a lot of it..... too much of it..... so much of it that hubby took the kids back to the hotel and I went dancing with Aunt P, the bride and her friends..... let's be clear -- I don't dance.
This wine was so delicious, that I ordered shots..... and drank shots ordered for me. Yes friends, this wine took me down a dark path. Random men bought us drinks, and we drank them -- we had no shame.
This wine was so delicious that I was junk the entire next day..... and I don't remember a single thing about it.... nope, not the taste, the flavor, not the bold colors or even the label. I suck!
Anyway, the Big Dubya and I are enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir right now -- one of us will be reviewing it for you all tonight or tomorrow.
In other news, you may have noticed we have a new member. Please join me in welcoming Paige (from The Avery Lane Experience) to our prestigious (cough, cough) club.
Lastly, for the next three days www.wine.com is offering 1 cent shipping for orders of $99 or more just use the code 1cent99.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
How did it get to be the last week of August?! Seriously, I can't believe we waited this long to get to our assignment (although I did run right out and purchase the wine when assigned).
I went to a different liquor store (packys if you're in MA, bevvys for VT) this time (since the one we had been frequenting had just been busted for selling to underage minors. Oops. Plus their selection wasn't the greatest.) So on the recommendation of the nice man who helped me out, we tried a 2006 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio. It cost approximately $13 - $15 - I just told the nice man my price range and this is what he recommended. What can I say, I'm easy.
This was a nice, crisp, refreshing white wine. It had been chilled for a while, waiting for us to decide to open it for the penultimate weekend of "unoffical" summer. The bottle doesn't have a description of the vineyard, or wine, but it does have the handy dandy website of the winery. The winery is located in South Tyrol, which is close to the Swiss Alps, and there's a castle! The vines grow on the south facing slopes of the castle.
According to the website, the wine is described as "light yellow to sandy coloured in appearance, with an unobtrusive bouquet, hints of pears and candied fruit". We didn't get that at all. It was a nice white, not too fruity, and kind of "oak-y", but nothing that stood out at all.
For that price, I think I'd try something different next time. Nothing against this wine, I just think there might be better out there for the same price (or less).
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Interesting assignment this month -- anything that begins with Pinot! How to choose?
I found this Sidewise Pinot Noir (ours was a 2005) (not to be confused with the whole Pinot Noir discussion in Sideways) at our favorite local wine store for $9.99.
Mr. PunditMom couldn't believe I had found a Pinot Noir for the assignment that was under $15 and was somewhat suspect about whether this would be drinkable or not!
Surprisingly, it was pretty tasty. Lots of berry flavors that went well with our "gourmet" Trader Joe's gnocchi and ripe tomato and avocado salad. (I love you, Trader Joe's, but that's another post!)
Just having gotten home from vacation in France, I worried that we would be spoiled from drinking so much wonderful, inexpensive wine that whatever we tried would be a disappointment. But we were pleasantly surprised and I'll definitely keep it in mind for when the Mark West isn't on sale!
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Leave it to me, CPA Mom, to do the extra credit first. Tonight, my husband "HP" and I tried a new dessert wine: a 2005 Monticello Table Wine ("made from grapes frozen after harvest"). In the interest of "keeping it real" I made a delicious Blueberry Streusel Cobbler to accompany the dessert wine. Just for research purposes, of course (Karla, this dessert is "to-die for" good. Heaven on a plate. Thanks for the recipe).
A little research about dessert wines for those who have not indulged: (IWG) Any wine greater than 17% and less than 24% alcohol content is classified as a dessert wine in the USA. This would also be a fortified wine. Dessert wines can vary from dry to very sweet as well as be fortified. In a general context, the term dessert wines is also used to describe a sweet or very sweet wine of any alcohol level that is served at the end of a meal.
We had purchased the wine (2005 Sweet Afton Monticello (Muscat of Alexandria, Gewurztraminer) 375ml, $20.00) at our last local wine festival. I consider myself to be somewhat of a connoisseur of dessert wines as invariably, Riesling wine is the driest wine I will typically imbibe in.
This wine, failed to live up the the sweet expectations set by the blueberry dessert. We both thought the wine had a bitter taste to it - I swear I tasted licorice. It was thicker than your normal white wine, tending towards the Late Harvest varieties that I love, but it was still less than satisfying. I doubt we would buy it again. But if you are a person who dislikes intensely sweet dessert wines, this would be a good one for you to try.
The Barkundy is described as:
Your canine will enjoy Bark Vineyards Barkundy. A gourmet treat experience awaits the canine who receives a bottle of the Bark Vineyards' 2006 varietals. Pour evenly over a meal, step back as your beloved furry friend savors the delicious bouquet and unique flavors. As with many fine wines, sediment may collect in the bottom of the bottle. Buy a case for your best friend, or share with your many canine friends.
And can be yours for a mere $179.88, that's a $60 savings.
Can somebody please tell me, what is wrong with people?
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I know not everyone has completed the July assignments...... the Big Dubya & I have done the easy part ( the drinking part), but have yet to post our reviews.
As tomorrow begins August -- I thought I'd put the new assignments up.
Additionally, I'd like to welcome a new member to the fold-- and invite anyone else interested in joining to get in touch.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
OK, I know we're late with this one, but I figured better late than never!
Mr. PunditMom and I actually managed to have a two-day adult escape to the Virginia wine country at the end of June and visited the Barboursville Vineyards.
We chose this one to visit because we learned that there's something a little different about this one -- the winemakers are all Italian and they make wines in the Italian style, like Barbera and Sangiovese.
Obviously, we did the wine tasting and wanted to mention this little number -- the Viognier Reserve. It's more expensive than the general price range The Whinery usually adheres to, but at $21.99, we thought this was pretty tasty, with some great spicy flavors. We've discovered that Virginia is actually a pretty good place to make Viognier.
Some Virginia wines fall short, but this light white wine was a definite winner. We definitely liked it better than the Chardonnay from this vineyard, which does come in under $15, which didn't have a lot of flavor.
The reds from this vineyard were outstanding, as well, especially the highlight of their collection, Octagon, which is a blend of several different grape varieties. We picked up a couple bottles of that to stow away for a cold winter night!
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Being the eager winos that we are, we jumped right on July's assignment. The liquor store we went to didn't have a huge selection, but this bottle's label was cool, and the price was right ($8.99!) so we went with this - a Cabernet Pinotage from Sebeka Wines.
The pinotage originated in 1925 as a cross between the Pinot Noir and Cinsault. South Africa seems to provide the ideal enviroment for growing this type of grape and most Pinotage/Pinotage wines are from this area. According to the website, it produces complex and fruity wines with age but that are also very approachable and enjoyable without long aging.
D and I both enjoyed this wine. It had a berry flavor without being too Bartles and James'y. Heavier than a traditional Pinot Noir (one of our faves!) but still a good choice with the french bread and cheese we paired it with.
Definitely one we'd try again - especially at that price!
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
CaberKnuckle. That's right. CaberKnuckle. And there, on the label, Tim Wakefield. I thought it was pretty cool - Wake's got his own vintage. Sweet. Then I see the unmistakable visage of Manny on another label. Manny being Merlot. And there's Schill - Schilling Schardonnay. Ha, such clever word play all around. Ok, ok I'll admit it - I am a fanboy. Sue me.
What's that? Of course I bought a bottle. The wines are distributed under the Longball Vineyards label through Charity Wines (VinLozano Importers). The sales proceeds benefit each player's selected charity: Charlee Homes for Children, Curt's Pitch for ALS and Pitching in for Kids.
Like I said, I picked up the CaberKnuckle and brought it home to try that night with Mrs. Big Dubya. She's not that big a fan of Cabs and only had one glass. I finished the bottle - surprise, surprise. It was okay. I'd love to be able to throw in some knuckle-ball metaphors here, but I think I'll let them go for now. It wasn't an impressive bottle - not one that made me say, Wow or anything. I picked it up for its novelty factor, not because it was a rare vintage and I was hoping to collect it. It was, by far, better than the vitamin water we had at the end of June. It was smooth, light on the tannins (a huge plus for me) and subtly fruity. Not one that I'd call a Bold or Big red, but mild.
However, it didn't stop Mrs. Big Dubya from picking up the Manny Being Merlot. Hopefully it's big and bold and not lackadaisical and aloof.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
July's Assignments are posted!!!!! (over there on the right).
If you haven't finished the June assignment, don't fret -- skip June and move on to July or skip July and work on June -- if you're feeling particularly thirsty..... do both, it's a long month.
You'll notice that the July assignment was suggested by Sarah, so if you have a suggestion for a future assignment -- please feel free.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I'm a girl, I know -- but the label looked fun and happy to me -- I love sunflowers and the description reminded me of summer, it reads as follows:
"Sachem's Picnic is a semi-sweet, low-tannin wine, light in color with bright raspberry, blackberry, and plum fruit. It is best enjoyed within a year or two. Food pairings: Picnic basket fried chicken, Carolina pulled pork sandwiches, a classic burger with the "works" or a good dog (we like ours with caramelized onions and mustard)."
The Big Guy opened the bottle, poured a couple of glasses and let them "breath" for a little bit. I asked him to bring me my glass and read the bottle to me. After he read the description, I held it up to my nose..... FRUIT PUNCH! I smell........ fruit punch.
I took a sip, the Big Dubya must have seen something on my face because he said "Oh, no... not good?"
I said nothing and he took a sip..... he exclaimed VITAMIN WATER!
I had hoped the second taste would improve, but...... no -- it tastes like a bitter Welch's Grape Juice and I'm not sure I can finish the glass.... never mind the bottle. I was embarrassed to suggest it, but he was relieved when I asked him to pour it down the drain.
The label is true, you can indeed taste the berry flavors -- however, for $11.99 I was hoping for something more than spiked Hawaiian Punch.
Sorry, but thumbs down, way down -- this bottle could easily be confused with one of the illustrious "Wines of the Fenway".... I can almost smell the pee.
Commenter Sean mentioned some wine recommendations along with a shameless plug for his buddy's site InterWined (very cool and clever name by the way).
I checked it out briefly this morning and it's a pretty neat site (I know, it's much fancier than this one, but...) -- "The Tasting Room" features some basic wine lessons as well as some tips on how to serve and store wine.
So, to Sean -- thanks for the tip
And, I've added a list of like-minded-blogs over on the right..... please feel free to refer us to others and I'll add them.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Since Big Dubya used the Evita reference in his review of an Argentine Malbec, I figured I'd throw everything else I knew about Argentina into the title of this review. Except before buying a 2005 Doña Paula Los Cardos Malbec from the Mendoza province, I didn't know anything about Argentine wines. (I also didn't know that los cardos means the thistles, which are pictured on the bottle.)
To be honest, we chose the wine because we thought we'd be different. We had heard of Chilean wines and thought that other people would buy those. To be more honest, I'm not sure if we've even had a Chilean or any South American wine before this. But, I learned that Argentine wines are becoming more popular, and we did like this one.
The label describes the wine as "a spice wine with a touch of dried herbs that are well combined with mature fruits as dry plums and black cherries." (I know it seems like there's a word missing in that quote, but, even though I'm typing this right after we've drunk the wine, I've checked twice and it's like that on the bottle.) The wine also describes itself as having a hint of mint.
Sue and I both liked this wine. It was slighty spicy, dry and fruity as the label suggested, but we didn't get the hint of mint. I'm sure it would be great paired with steaks or any heavier South American or Mediterranean food. We didn't have it with a meal though; we had it with some bread and gorgonzola dip from a local bakery that we bought downtown at the farmers' market today. (That reference is mostly for the Dubyas.)
So, we've found another wine that we'd buy again. But, since we're usually not knocking back that many bottles a month, our next purchase will probably be July's assignment instead. That's the beauty of this project—that we're trying wines that we probably wouldn't have otherwise.
Friday, June 22, 2007
I'm not one to claim that I have a refined palate. To put it bluntly, I'm the type of guy who would go to a poetry reading and offer up some naughty limericks or some Andrew "Dice" Clay takes on some nursery rhymes. For years I abused my taste buds with "Wines of the Fenway" - MD 20/20, (What's the word?) Thunderbird!, Wild Irish Rose, Boone's - you know, stuff that will take off paint.
But, as I've aged and matured, so has my appreciation for better tasting wines. I'm not able to discern all the distinct flavors of any given wine, but I can recognize some things. And, at the very least, I recognize when I like a bottle or not. Mrs. Big Dubya sent me out last weekend to pick up some things for the bar and also asked me to pick up a bottle of wine from South America and a local vineyard. Not being familiar with the wines of S.A. - I know something about California, Australia, Italy - I just looked at bottles and any descriptions the liquor store provided. I settled on a Malbec from (Don't Cry for Me) Argentina (sorry, I just had to). I grabbed the $11.99 bottle of Punto Final Malbec 2006 which comes from Bodegas Renacer located in Perdiel in the Mendoza region of Argentina. Malbec is planted all over Argentina, but the Mendoza region is widely regarded as the best.
We opened the bottle Monday night to complement our pasta dinner that evening.Mrs. Big Dubya used a little bit of it in the sauce prior to anyone even taking the first sip. She was hesitant at first, having read on the label that "This wine is unfiltered in order to preserve its distinct varietals qualities." "Does that mean chunks," she asked. I was intrigued by the "unfiltered" quality -- I am a huge fan of unfiltered wheat beers -- and I replied, "Yep, floaties." I poured us each a glass; let it breathe for a moment or two; gave it a nice deep sniff and took a sip. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It was very, very mellow and left barely any aftertaste. There was a slight tannin quality to it but nothing that would be off-putting. Mrs. Big Dubya, a little overwhelmed by the initial "nose," found it to be a nice, refreshing wine -- not as heavy or as bold as some reds can be.
The bottle went very well with the pasta we had that evening, bringing forth the flavors of the tomatoes, garlic, onions and Italian seasoned turkey. It was another bottle Mrs. Big Dubya wished I had bought two of.
All in all, a very nice buy. Fruity and refreshing and I think the unfiltered quality only added to its complexity. (Do I sound remotely like I know what I'm talking about? Maybe just a little?) Definitely a buy again.
I had several problems (all of them personal - not like I won't share them with you, but like I am a moron problems) with the South American wine assignment.
1) I thought we were supposed to pick a South African wine at first. I'm just bad at reading. But seriously, South Africa has great wines, we should do that sometime.
2) I drank the bottle of wine and forgot to write down what it was.
Judging from this wonderful picture that I took with my cell phone it is a 2005 Malbec. I'm pretty sure it $12.99 and from Argentina. Also judging from this picture I am pretty sloppy when it comes to pouring.
I think I liked it. I think we drank it with some sort of chicken tacos. I'm pretty sure that I enjoyed it and it was spicy, and I am certain that I caught a nice buzz off of it and then threw away the bottle without writing anything down.
Next time I'll try to be more specific.
We also cheated on the extra credit assignment itself. There are wineries that are more local (we actually have two that are just one town away), but we went to a liquor store and bought one from a vineyard that’s in southeast Connecticut. Stonington Vineyards had the best selection of our state’s wines and choices other than blends. We also spent $16.99, which is a little more than the $15 we were limited to.
We’re not huge fans of white wines, but we picked a 2003 Chardonnay. According to the vineyard’s site, the wine “has been fermented and aged in both French and American oak barrels. This adds to its complexities, and gives an up front yet not overpowering oak finish. There are also wonderful tones of pear and butter. This wine is wonderful with classic French cuisine.”
We didn’t have our Chardonnay with French cuisine. There may have been some French bread involved though. If we had thrown some French fries into the oven and gotten some French dressing, we’d have created “dinner mon dieu.” (We’re good with the John Cusack movie references too—even though we totally missed the boat on appropriately titling that last review of the Peruvian wine “And to drink…”)
Sue liked the wine more than I did, but I didn’t hate it. Actually, it’s a wine that I’d try again—especially if we’re ever at the vineyard to get it. It wasn’t too dry, wasn’t too fruity, and who could resist “tones of butter.”
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Monday, June 4, 2007
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Just passing through the wine store on Saturday afternoon and this one looked like it was a good candidate for this challenge!
And the verdict?
Terra Andina is definitely a great sipping wine for the summertime, especially at this price!
Light, crisp and refreshing and it had some major grapefruit flavors which makes it a great one for drinking on the deck on a warm, summer night.
It reminded us very much of the more expensive New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and would definitely be quite tasty with fish or cheese and crackers.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Let's go to the beginning. A new wine store recently opened in the shops surrounding on our picturesque, very New England-ish town common. I had high hopes for my first wine from this shop, but I had my two year old daughter with me (they're only open until 6pm, closing well before my husband gets home from work) and I was a bit distracted. So I was only too happy to take the suggestion of the woman behind the counter. A 2004 Fattoria di Vetrice Chianti Rufina.
I was all Hey, I like Chianti! and for $11 I was pretty happy. So I brought the wine home. The wine is produced by the Grati family in the Rufina region of Tuscany, in the hills around Pontassieve. I was even more thrilled then because I've been to Pontassieve twice and was familiar with the area.
I started to do a bit of research on the web about this wine and there was... Nothing. Well, next to nothing (I couldn't even find a picture of the actual label, that one above is a different vintage). And that was a foreshadowing of what this wine was to be like. As soon as I took a sip and swallowed there was...
It is a Chianti Rufina, after all, and not a Reserva, and the very first taste was enough to bring me back to those warm days in the Tuscan sun. But like a good vacation it was over too fast. The fruit explodes quickly in your mouth but there's no finish. And the tannins were a bit too overpowering for the fruit. I don't mind that fuzzy tongue feeling you get from heavy tannins as long as the wine is worth it. This wasn't.
As my husband put it, "It is what it is. For eleven bucks it's not bad." And we weren't eating when we were drinking this wine (long day + cranky child = pass the alcohol NOW). Maybe a good port salut cheese would have helped this wine a bit, but we didn't have any (damn).
For my hard earned $11 dollars I'd like a bit more. This wine, in my opinion, would have been great - fantastic even - in a carafe as the local house red in a trattoria in Sienna. But those cobblestone streets have a way of making everything better, even a sub-par wine. It's not horrible, it's very drinkable, but I'll forget its name as soon as the last drop is gone.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
We went out on a limb and got a white wine for our South American adventure. After some searching, we found a 2004 Tacama Gran Blanc. The Tacama Vineyard is located about 180 miles from Lima, Peru.
From the Tacama website:
The pale yellow colour of this wine gives it a lovely presentation. The freshness of its bouquet is revealed on first contact with the nose. Both flowery and fruity, with highly agreeable citric notes, its flavours give it a particular finesse. The grape varieties used are Semillon, Sauvignon, and Chenin.
The Tacama winery website also suggests some dinner pairings with their wines, and for this wine, suggested “Plain poultry and fish dishes, such as Roast Chicken, Roast Turkey, Fish in Meniuere Sauce, etc.”
We had this wine on Sunday night, paired with a Yancy’s Fancy Champagne cheese and Triscuits. (Money baby, we’re money.) The taste was fruity, light and crisp. The only thing we might have done differently was let the wine warm a bit before trying to drink it – we had refrigerated it since Friday (when it was bought) and it was very chilled.
While not fans of white wine, this one was an interesting change from the reds we normally drink. I think we paid about $10 for the bottle. ($9.99? Perhaps I should have saved the receipt.) While it could be an alternative to the usual pinot grigio or chardonnay (if we drank those on a regular basis), I don’t think we’ll buy this again.
The PunditMom family was away for the long weekend for a family wedding, but that doesn't mean that red wine wasn't on my mind.
In the spirit of the challenge, I truly walked into our local wine shop and chose something on a whim that I had never tried before -- a Spanish wine called Onix. At $13.99, it met the financial part of the bargain.
The short story -- this is a yummy wine (you can see I will need to do better on my wine descriptions!)
It is from the Priorat region of Spain, which is about 100 miles southwest of Barcelona and is made from 50% Grenache and 50% Carinena grapes, and reminded me of a nice Burgundy.
This was smooth and lovely when we first opened it and had not lost any of that roundness after being in the fridge for several days. We liked it on its own and with pizza (nothing but high gourmet dining here at Chez PunditMom)! It had lots of berry flavors and a hint of chocolate.
The highest praise? Mr. PunditMom is the true wine connoisseur in our household and he gets suspicious when I buy something new (especially if I pick it up because it has a cute label!).
But he said this was definitely one to add to the weeknight wine rotation!
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The Dubya family will be out of town for the next few days, so I thought I'd post June's assignment a little early (see right hand column) -- just in case anybody wants to do some whining over the long weekend.
Everyone has been so incredibly responsive (holy crap, 5 reviews in just over a week!!!)......either this is a rockin' club, or we're just a bunch of winos.... either way, wicked cool!
We'll shoot for having this assignment completed for June 15th, and if at that point we've got a good number of reviews, and people are interested -- I'll post a second assignment -- otherwise, we'll just extend it 'til the end of the month.
By the way..... completely unrelated to June's assignment..... is it all kinds of wrong to buy a wine because of the very cool bottle????
Monday, May 21, 2007
The day before I found out about this blog I drank a bottle (well, my husband and I drank a bottle) of Archetype Shiraz. I had never tried it before and I really liked it. It was a big round flavor. We drank it with some Cambozola cheese and crackers (I highly recommend this cheese if you haven't had it. You can get it at Trader Joe's for under $5. It is good with every wine.)
I loved this wine. I had to go to the store and buy it again to review it because 1) I had no idea how much I paid for it, 2) I couldn't remember anything except I loved it and 3) I didn't know where it came from.
Archetype is from the Barossa region of South Australia. I tend to buy Shiraz if it says Barossa on the bottle because the grapes seem to have a very rich deep flavor.
What was my point? Oh yeah, so I bought another bottle - it was $12.99 at Wine Warehouse, I think they have it featured this month. I brought it home and we drank it with chicken tacos.
It wasn't nearly as good. It tasted sort of bitter with the pico and jalapeno flavors. I am learning, but I am still often surprised at how important pairing your wine is.
I will definitely buy this wine again, but next time I am going to drink it with some steak or a roast or some other red meat. I bet it would be great with hamburgers, especially if you used bleu cheese or Gorgonzola on it. I think the Shiraz needs fat to compliment it. I wouldn't drink it with anything spicy again.
(Check out the cheese - it rocks.)
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Like the Dubyas, we don’t usually pair wines with dinners. We wait for Clare to go to bed and then pop open a bottle. We do usually pair a bottle with some cheese or crackers or some other picking like olives or sausage though (can’t call it an appetizer if it’s after dinner…and hors d’oeuvres is just too fancy for us), and that’s what we did on Saturday.
We also picked a wine that we’d already bought—a 2003 Spanish rioja from Marqués de Cárceres that we picked up for $12 a few weeks ago, but hadn’t tried yet. Spanish wines have become popular in the past few years, and we’ve had a few others that we’ve liked.
The winery describes the wine like this:
Bright, ruby red colour. Lively bouquet with notes of red fruit that add a pleasant freshness softened by a discreet touch of vanilla. Deliciously full in the mouth where well integrated, silky tannins highlight the wine’s fruit. Good length in which the complexity of flavours comes through delicately.
I’ll be honest. I don’t know all the proper words for describing a wine. I know that bouquet equals smell; I know that tannins have something to do with the grape skins. But, beyond obviously dry, sweet or fruity wines, I’m not good with all that “undertones” and “hints of” talk. Here’s what I can say: the wine is smooth and fruity and a slight oakiness from the casking is obvious. It’s exactly what I like in a red wine.
The wine is recommended as an accompaniment to Mediterranean food, grilled vegetables, pasta, paella and rice dishes, hams, sausages and cheeses. In other words, it’s a good pairing for Spanish food or tapas—which might just be the coolest word for what we had it with.