Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Left me wanting more, but not in a good way

I've procrastinated long enough, it's time to get down to my first wine review. I wish I could say that is was worth the wait - for me, something tells me you all had better things to do than worry about when my first wine review was coming - but it wasn't.

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

2004 Tacama Gran Blanc

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.

Mighty Tasty!

Sorry to be late to the red wine party!

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!

Just don't ask me about the merlot I had on our flight to L.A. this weekend ... let's just say it was not so fine, with not so subtle hints of Robitussin!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

June's Assignment

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.

Sound good?

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

I've never bought wine on-line (look I'm a poet, and I didn't know it!) but, if you order before Friday, May 25th, is offering 1¢ shipping on orders of $99 and above, just enter promo code PENNY -- seems like a pretty good deal to me.


Archetype Shiraz: Sometimes Pairing is Everything

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

Feeling Continental

First an introduction: for anyone who doesn’t know, insurancemom is Clare’s Mom. In other words, we’re married. We’re Sue and Darren. Thanks for having us.

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.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

By popular demand




Right click, save image as...blah, blah, blah

A little too acidic for me

First let me begin that I have had other wines from Bogle Vineyards and enjoyed them very much. In fact, one of my go-to, reasonably priced red wines is Bogle's Old Vine Zinfandel. So when at the store this weekend I saw Bogle's 2004 Petite Sirah, I decided to pick it up. It was also recommended by a reader over on Sarah and the Goon Squad, so between it being from a favorite Vineyard and a recommendation, it seemed like a no-brainer. Maybe not....

Yesterday after work I uncorked the bottle and let it breathe for oh, I don't know, three minutes before pouring a glass. I was a little taken aback with the first sip. The OVZ is pretty smooth. This wasn't. Granted, I had just eaten a BBQ chip, so I decided not to hold it against the wine. I waited a bit, had some water, finished cooking dinner when Mr. Tall Guy asked if he could get in on the bottle. Sure! So I poured another glass and off we go to dinner. Again, my choice of food pairings wasn't the best. This morning I checked the recommendations of the website. "Try this unique wine with rich meat dishes of lamb, pork or game and their hearty sauces." Yeah, mac and cheese and a grilled chicken sandwich probably wasn't what they had in mind. (hey, no judgements! It's what I had in the house!)

The first thing that struck me about the wine is when I poured it was the color. It's a very rich, dark plum color. The first sip was somewhat acidic and they didn't get much better than that. In fact it covered any fruity undertones that may have been there. I'm a bit of a wine novice, so I don't have all the jargon, but Mr. Tall Guy wasn't a fan of it either. In fact we both stopped after our first glass, and that just never happens. Who knows? Maybe it was an off night for us. I sealed it up what was left of the bottle and will try again tonight.

I paid $12.99 for the bottle and will probably pass on it in the future.

Keep a LookOut for this one

Unlike the Cape Buffaloes, we didn't couple our wine with dinner -- no, we waited until the 'lil Dubya was asleep and the 'lil Dubyette was chillin' under her Flutterbye Gym to uncork Lookout Mountain's Merlot (2002).

This is a bottle we already had on our wine rack, but a label we'd never tried before -- the Big Dubya picked it up the last time we were in the Berkshires at a favorite wine shop of ours -- the same guys have similarly themed wine shops in the Boston area that I frequented when I was living/working there. The gimmick of the shop is extremely effective -- the lion's share of their wines are less than $15 and they are categorized by flavor, rather than strictly by type. The selection is constantly changing -- so it's never the same place twice -- terrific if you like to try new wines all the time, but kind of a bummer if you find one that you love, love, love...chances are it won't be there the next time you stop in.

This particular Merlot was $10 and classified as a "Smooth" which is defined by Grape Finds as "Medium bodied-red wines. Velvety. Graceful. Deliciously refined."

The thing that struck me immediately was that this wine is subtle...very subtle. There was nothing hitting your throat after you sipped it -- it's very, very smooth and kind of light for a red.

Bottom line -- this is a nice, solid red -- it's got some good berry flavors with a subtle hint of wood -- giving it a little complexity without being too deep or rich. The label suggested a hint of dark chocolate...I didn't pick up on that. And, despite busting it out on a Wednesday night, I felt just fine this morning. If you aren't really into red wines because they tend to be too heavy -- you might like this one, as it's lighter than the typical red.

I would definitely buy it again.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A syratic experience?

The Husband is not into the whole blog thang. Sometimes he thinks of my little hobby as a time consuming annoyance and although he is far more articulate than I (well, some of the time) he will never blog. Except when he found out about this site.... I think he's ready to make the plunge. When I told him about Mrs. Big Dubya's challenge/ directive/ suggestion to try a new red, he was at the wine store within the hour.

One of the bottles he picked up was Syratica, a 2003 Napa Valley Syrah produced by X Winery, that the wine store billed as having cherry, vanilla, and fruity this or that. We paired it with a Trader Joe's Roasted Vegetable Pizza which is a vegan cheeseless/ tomatoless pizza with a caramelized onion "sauce" and roasted artichokes, shiitakes, and red peppers on top. I served it with a bit of chevre alongside to make the crust more interesting. The wine paired well with the sweetness of the caramelized onions but when I snuck in a piece of my daughter's Margharita Pizza the combination was pretty nasty. The acidity in the tomato sauce created an ugly collision of flavors. The goat cheese was moderately aromatic and while the combination was not as foul as with the tomato, the wine did nothing for the cheese and vice versa.

We followed dinner with molten chocolate cake from Trader Joe's (the low fat organic pizza cancels out the cake don'tcha know?) and the wine held up well against the chocolate. I guess I would recommend this as a wine to drink with dessert not for it's sweetness, per se, but for the fact that it was only drinkable with the sweeter foods on the menu.

Also? I awoke at 1:30 in the morning and was awake for an hour downing huge glasses of water to offset the feeling of a really hard night of drinking (which it wasn't). I felt so awful, I actually replied to work email. In my pj's. At 1:30 in the morning. Today have a wicked headache and upset stomach and I blame the wine.

Verdict: at $14.99 this bottle won't become a regular but I highly recommend the molten chocolate cakes. mmmm.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Your First Assignment

Okay -- I came up with a better idea (at least I think it's a better idea) to get us started.

Today is May 15th -- so, I am proposing that between now and May 31st -- everyone is to try a red wine that they have never tried before. During the first week of June, come to this space and let us know how it was.... nothing fancy -- just price, taste, flavor etc.

I'm thinking that this is a good way for us to get our feet wet, get to know each other and hopefully pick up some more contributors.


PS -- I don't have email addresses for a couple of the contributors listed, so if you could send me your address.... I'll grant you permission to the site

mrsbigdubya at gmail dot com

Monday, May 14, 2007

Welcome to our 'lil internet wine club!!!

We're still working out some of the technical kinks, getting the page set up and recruiting contributors, but here we are.

If you are interested in joining the club as a contributor, please leave a comment -- or if you'd prefer to just comment -- of course, we welcome that to.

Lastly, if anyone would like to take the bull by the horns and suggest our inaugural wine..... okay guys, not everybody at once.