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.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
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.
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
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
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.