Saturday, September 20, 2008

Summer Abroad

If you wonder why I haven’t posted here lately it’s because I’ve been traveling. A trip around the world can take a lot out of a guy. That’s right, I said around the world. Five continents and at least six different countries. You didn’t know I was gone? Neither did my wife—and she was with me.

Okay, you called my bluff. We actually didn't leave the country—or go further than about one hundred miles from home—all summer. But we have had a few wines from around the world and I’ve been saving up the reviews. (You can read that as too lazy to write and post them.) I think we had a South American wine over the summer, but I don’t remember it and didn’t save the bottle or the website as I did with the others. We’ve had a couple of American wines recently too, but Sue reviewed one (Jarhead Red) and the others are some favorite ones (like Red Truck) that we’ve already reviewed. Here—from Australia, Europe and Africa—are what we remember. All of them were in the range of ten to fifteen dollars.

I’ll admit that we bought an Australian 2004 Woop Woop Shiraz only because of its name. Woop Woop describes this Shiraz as “deep in colour with great intensity, bursting with blackberry fruit juice, blueberry jam and masses of clean varietal Shiraz fruit” and “well balanced with black liquorice, pepper and spice giving tremendous flavour and length.” I’d say that it was true to that description. If that sounds a little dark and heavy, you’re right. And if you’ve been following Sue’s tastes and mine, you can guess that I liked this one and she didn’t. So that would be one thumb up from us.

We’re no experts with French wine and know next to nothing about how to choose one. So, I can’t really tell you how or why we picked a French 2006 Vieille Ferme Blanc. Vieille Ferme describes this blend of Viognier, Vermentino (called Rolle in southern France), and a few other grapes as having “lots of peach and pear fruit backed by a round, creamy finish.” It was a light type of fruity wine—which is exactly what I don’t like. In this case though, Sue and I agreed that we didn’t care for it much. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a good wine—it just wasn’t for us.

Our South African 2005 Fleur du Cap Pinotage was forgettable. And by that I mean that neither Sue nor I can remember too much about it. We didn’t hate it, but we didn’t love it enough to want to remember to buy it again either. Fleur du Cap describes this one as having a “dark ruby colour with purplish edges,” “ample berry fruit aromas dominated by plum and sweetish mulberry flavours,” and “rich and ripe plum flavours…supported by a good tannic structure.” Like the dark Australian Shiraz, it’s one that I liked and Sue didn’t so much. Another one thumb up.

Sue and I have almost always agreed on liking Spanish red wines and a 2006 Tapeña Tempranillo was no exception. Spanish riojas and tempranillos are often dark enough for my liking, but light enough for Sue. Tapeña describes this Spanish red as a “rich, bold blend of fruit, earth and structure, rounded out by a deliciously soft mouthfeel. We think of this Tempranillo as something like Pinot Noir in blue jeans.” A Pinot Noir in blue jeans? I’m not sure we would have come up with that, but we can agree that the wine has a hint of “luscious red cherry fruit wrapped around an earthy, intense center” with a finish “long and layered with a hint of coffee and chocolate and a pinch of spice.” Actually, we wouldn’t have come up with any of those words either. But we do give it two thumbs up and we’re buying more.

So, without leaving home, we made it around the world this summer. I don’t think any of these are strictly summer wines though. Let us know if you try them too.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Chef Mickey

So, I just got back from vacation and while I was away I decided to try some new cocktails. I don't typically drink hard-alcohol, but I decided to dabble a bit..... rather than just sticking with the typical beer & wine..... it was vacation after all.

Although this is "The Whinery"..... I thought I'd share a few of the tasty concoctions that I enjoyed on my trip.

At the Big River Grille, I tried a Raspberry Ice Pick (Stoli Raz, Tangueray, Captain Morgan's, Chambord and a splash of Sprite) and it was lovely. Smooth, refreshing and despite all the booze -- very mild -- this is one that could sneak up on you and knock you off your nut!

I also tried (on a different evening of course) Big River's Chai Latte Martini (Voyant Chai Cream Liqueur, Kahlua and chilled coffee), which was also lovely -- but didn't taste like there was much "power" in it.... just like a $9.00 glass of chocolate milk in a pretty glass.

While at the Leaping Horse Libations, I was able to try a Poolside Lemonade (Bacardi O, Bacardi Raz and Sweet & Sour) -- yum! The only problem is that when you are poolside, these go down like lemonade -- and they are far more potent than that. They are cool and refreshing, but will catch up to you in no time.

At Chef Mickey's (Contemporary Hotel) I had a Mudslide Martini (Bailey's, Vanilla Stoli, Kahlua, vanilla ice cream) and it was delicious. It was lovely and rich, but again, it tasted like an expensive chocolate milk in a fancy glass (decorated with chocolate syrup)-- but it did have a bit of a kick.

I may try to recreate some of these at home.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


So a couple weeks ago Darren, Clare and I were in the wine store trying to chose a wine for that evening (well, not so much Clare - she just has to touch everything and make me nervous because she's attracted to the most expensive bottles for some reason). I saw this red and with Darren's former college roommate being a Marine and all, we decided to try it.

Jarhead Red is "a wine made by Marines, for Marines (ed. note: I didn't know Marines drank wine, but you learn something new every day I guess), on California’s Central Coast. Net proceeds from the sale of this wine benefit the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, which provides educational assistance to children of U.S. Marines, with special attention given to children of fallen Marines". So far so good - red wine (always good) and a good cause.

Upon opening the bottle, the first sniff made me a bit nervous. The wine smelled a bit acidic and I was afraid it would be vinegary. The first sip was very light, and while the Jarhead Red website states: "Jarhead Red is a robust, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. It was aged in French oak barrels for eight months. It offers flavors of plum, cassis and black currant with fine tannins on the finish" it took awhile for any flavor to begin to show up after sipping.

The wine definitely improved after being in the glass a bit - if you were to get this wine, I'd recommend opening the bottle and letting the wine breathe a bit before taking the first sip. I think we paid about ten dollars for the bottle, and if you're looking for something that supports a good cause and could be a conversation piece, if you can find this wine it would be a good choice.

This is posted in honor of Lt. Col. Brian P. O'Keefe USMC, currently serving our country in Kuwait.