Thursday, September 27, 2007

Menage a Trois

The September assignment was to try a California wine. I scoured the aisles of our local Farm Fresh for an interesting label and ran across this gem. And at $10.46, the price was right so I picked it up. My mom and I tried it on Sunday with a pork dish I made and my husband and I tried it last night with Mexican take-out.

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

It's October already

Well, it's almost October already.

I've posted the October assignment a little bit early, so I'll leave both September
and August up for a while longer.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Beringer Sparkling White Zinfandel

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.

2005 Hess Chardonnay

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
b. Californian

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

Extra Curricular

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.

Did Joe, in fact, Blow?

I'm not going to lie to you: I'm a drinker. But I am not the sort of drinker who can write with a sommelier's genius about a wine's nose or residual sugars or whatever else it is that reduces me to sticking with the same bottles again and again and again.

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

Vote Early, Vote Often

Thoughts on this poll?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Moo-vad, or How Many Times Can I Call It Dark?

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

Sterling Vinter's Collection Merlot -- 2004, from California's Central Coast

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 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 are as follows:

"Deep ruby red, color, with big blackberry and blackberry pie aromas, as well as toasty oak and vanilla. Complex, with more subtle cherry-cola notes. On the palate are mouth filling cherry-berry tannins, which are round yet offer nice mouth feel and a long finish. Drink this with beef dishes and other entrees with richer sauces".
This wine has a deep flavor and the oakiness of it is evident. I don't get a lot of blackberry flavor, just a hint. The description (blackberry pie, cherry-cola) would have made me expect a sweetness, but on the contrary..... it's got a tartiness to it -- an edge. The tannins caught me a little off guard as the first sip was smooth and it wasn't 'til the end that I got that subtle hit lingering at the back of my throat.
I started my glass and set it aside while I put the kids to bed and I definitely found it to be smoother and more mellow when I came back -- I'm thinking that this is a wine that benefits from a little time to breathe.
Bottom line.... if it were on sale, I'd buy it again.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Beaten to the Punch

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!