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Happy New Year!

December 31, 2006
Have fun and stay safe! And of course, drink some excellent bubbly, as we are at the moment! See you next year!

Esta Obvio!

Tu necesitas beber esto vino si quieres vino blanco y barato. Sorry, got a little carried away with my Spanish there. Our second bottle of the evening last night was this little gem, Obvio, Vino Torrontes 2005 from Argentina. Synthetic cork, 13.5% alcohol by volume and cost me $9.99 at the Curious Grape. For those who don't speak Spanish, Obvio means obvious, so my title today is "It's obvious!" and the first sentence says "You need to drink this wine wine if you want white and inexpensive wine.

I almost titled this post "Deja vu" because I swear I've had this wine, or something quite like it in the past, yet I can't place when or where. Whatever the case may be, it's yummy. This is a light and simple wine, very floral on the nose. My notes say: topical fruits in the mouth, good acid holding it together. Easy to drink and I lurve it(apologies for the spelling, just a small joke among friends). Great value for the price and an interesting grape.

For the second time this week, I was sent scurrying off to learn about this grape in my Oxford Companion to Wine, and since I'm trying to increase my knowledge, I'll bore you with what I learned too. As usual, Jancis Robinson is both helpful and informative as I find that the Torrentes grape is parented from the Muscat of Alexandria grape. And I think that's where the deja vu came in, it is slightly muscat-like, but has just enough different characteristics that it didn't come to mind immediately.

It's Juicy!

And I don't mean that in a bad way. Tonight's bottle was a Mauritson 2004 Zinfandel. Real cork, 15.1% alcohol by volume (or 15.5% if you read Mauritson's website?) and cost us $27 minus a club discount.

Quite different from the 2003 Mauritson Zinfandel I tasted here. It's not jammy this time, but juicy. Big mouthfuls of strawberries and blackberries. I swear a hint of vanilla on the nose, though Matt completely disagrees. The big alcohol in this one doesn't bother me as it's easily countered and covered by the fruit. A little scent and taste of oak, but not overpowering or offensive at all. And I remembered to decant! I got none of the peppery taste of the 03 and none of the initial alcohol scent, though the decanting might have helped that. This just tastes good and worked really well with the beef strouganoff I made for dinner. Excellent finish, with a good lingering mouth taste. I have another bottle. I wonder if I keep it around for a bit if it will show some of the jam that the 03 does?
My mouth is watering looking at the purple inky color of the wine in this picture. It was seriously a delicious bottle of wine and really easy to drink.

Wine with an Identity Crisis

December 30, 2006
Last night we drank this bottle of Paringa 2004 Chardonnay/Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc. It ran me $9.99 at the Curious Grape, is 13% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure and comes to us from South Australia. This is another bottle bought in my pursuit of the everyday wine.

In my opinion this wine doesn't know which of these grapes it wants to be and the blend didn't work for me. It's composed of 47% Chardonnay, 38% Semillon and 15% Sauvignon. The nose is oaky and a little buttery, but the Sauvignon Blanc gives it subdued citrus in the mouth with a bit of grass and mineral. The combination just seemed odd and contrived.

In the mouth, it felt oily and had a long, not altogether pleasant finish. Maybe if it had been a little colder, but our wine fridge seems to have decided it wants to stay at one temp and no amount of fiddling on my part is changing its mind. I wouldn't buy this bottle again, it's NMS.

Tasting at Arrowine

We decided to head over to Arrowine last night as I had gotten an email saying they were having a tasting. They ended up pouring a Sauvignon Blanc, an un-oaked Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a (cheap) Bordeaux. We bought a bottle of each of the whites, I especially liked the Sauvignon Blanc, but Matt was more partial to the Chardonnay. Neither of us were overally impressed with the reds, plus, we have bottles of red coming out of our ears. (You may think I'm joking, but at last count, I think we have 109 bottles.) The Pinot tasted like it had some potential, but it was young, only a 2005 and needed some time to come into its own. The Bordeaux was cheap. And it tasted cheap, heavily oaked and really unappealing.

Also picked up a few cheap bottles while there, though even the poured whites ended up being under $20 each with the tasting discount. More to come as we get into those bottles!

2004 Domaine de la Salette

I picked this bottle up for $6.99 at the Curious Grape on my excursion for everyday wines on Thursday. The full title includes Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne. Closed with a synthetic cork, it weighs in at 12% alcohol by volume and is composed of 75% Colombard, 15% Ugni Blanc and 10% Gros Manseng.

For the price, the wine makes a pretty tasty white table wine. It reminded me of a slightly odd cross between a sauvignon blanc and a riesling. Light and floral on the nose, but with the citrus and acidity of a sauvignon blanc in the mouth. I thought the structure was well done and would definetly recommend this at the $6.99 price tag.

Love VA Wines?

December 29, 2006
Go over to Fermentation and read this post.

I knew that these laws were being pushed here by lobbyists. As we were visiting Virginia Wineries earlier this year at least one of them, Tarara, had a sign up asking patrons to sign a petition against the enactment of the law forbidding VA wineries to sell directly to retailers and restaurants. Something they had previously been permitted to do.

I wish I knew what good, if any, wine distributors actually did. To me, it seems like they are simply a middle-man in the process of getting wine to retailers and restaurants, thus driving up the cost for the ultimate consumer and hurting small wineries, especially local ones who could use any leg up they can get.

The development of this law makes me sad for the future of the wine industry in VA. And for me, since I doubt I will be able to get the Governor's White from the Williamsburg Winery for $7 in the store anymore.

Everyday Wine Take # 5,555

December 28, 2006
No, just kidding. I have no idea how long I've been searching for something I can drink inexpensively as an everyday table wine. At times, I find something I really enjoy, but then eventually get bored with, or simply want to try something new. I find it's great to have some fall backs for a Tuesday night that you know will be decent, are well priced and will work with your food, but at the same time, I'm always itching to try something new.

Which brings me to tonight's wine. I picked it up today at the Curious Grape for $10.99. It had a real cork closure, is from Sicily and is 12% alcohol by volume. The bottle is an Alcesti 2005 Grecanico. I had to bust out my Oxford Companion to Wine to get some info about this grape as I have never had it nor heard of it before today. Jancis Robinson writes "Sicilian white grape variety whose total vineyard area increased from less than 3,000 ha in 1980 to 5,172 ha/13,100 acres in 2000. The name suggests Greek origins and the wines currently made may not be maximizing its full aromatic, rather sauvignon blanc-like potential." Okay, that helps, but doesn't give me any idea of what I should really expect from this wine.

So here are my opinions. Have you ever been to an orchard when the apples are just past their peak in the sun? Or where they are crushing apples to make cider? That's what the nose of this wine reminded me of. Also, with an odd little hint of pine. In the mouth, it's tart apple with a little citrus zing on the end. Crisp, and it matched well with the Asian Basa filet I sauteed lightly in butter, salt and pepper and our purple mashed potatoes (thought of you Brent when I made these tonight!). I think I will have to buy another bottle of this varietal from another producer so I will have something to compare it to, as I had absolutely no expectations going into this wine.

A Trip to the Wine Shop

I spent a good part of the afternoon nosing around the Curious Grape today. Although it's winter and the more likely choice for wine is a nice heart-warming red, we still like to drink the occassional white, especially on nights where I serve light seafood dishes. And, sadly, we have almost run the course of white wines purchased on our Sonoma trip. I ended up purchasing seven bottles for around $78, not a bad deal. They range from $6.99 to $21.99 and all but one were purchased in my pursuit of everyday wine.

Additionally, I was searching for my entry for WBW #29. Keeping in mind my indecisiveness over which bottle of sparkling wine to review for the previous WBW, I didn't want to get caught in the same trap this time. So I figured I would poke around the wine shop and see if I could find anything on my own before asking the salespeople for a recommendation. Sadly, it appears that vineyards don't seem to proclaim on their bottles that they are biodynamically produced, at least none of the bottles I looked at did. I found myself cursing the fact that I hadn't thought to print out the list of producers over at Fork and Bottle. If you have yet to purchase your bottle and you are unfamiliar with biodynamic wine like me, I definetly suggest bringing a list!

When I asked the clerk for help, she couldn't immediately point me to one. She showed me a few she thought were biodynamic wines, but couldn't confirm for sure. Even though she was incredibly busy (they were setting up for a champagne tasting in light of the impending arrival of New Year's Eve) she took the time to look at their inventory log on the computer and point me to some that most definetly were biodynamic wines. And so I am now the owner of what I think is my first ever bottle of biodynamic wine.

I must admit I am still a little skeptical. Plus, it was a little pricier than I am normally willing to spend on something I haven't tested. But, I'll try anything once. So come January 17th, we shall see!

What Wine Books to Buy?

My very thoughtful parents gave me an Amazon gift card for Christmas since we wouldn't be going to their home this year and they didn't want to ship a ton of books to our house. I am now left contemplating what books I should buy. I have a few on my list and Matt gave me the Oxford Companion to Wine for Christmas already.

Currently this is my list:

How to Taste: A Guide to Enjoying Wine by Jancis Robinson
The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil
Red White and Drunk All Over by Natalie MacLean
Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2007
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to Present by Thomas Pinney
American Vintage: The Rise of American Wine by Paul Lukacs
The Accidental Connoisseur by Lawrence Osborne

What do you think? Any I should ditch? Any I should add? Thoughts on any of these books? Am I missing a quintessential tome that I just have to have in my collection? :)

How much is too much?

I've had several friends and family members comment to me that I post quite frequently on my blog. It doesn't sound like they are criticizing me, but it made me stop and think. A good balance has to exist between posting so much on a blog that content gets lost in a constant flow of new posts and posting so little that you have lost the interest of your audience.

Personally, I have trouble remaining focused on anything if the content isn't frequently new. I get bored fairly easily and so when I see blogs that haven't updated in a month or only update every few weeks, I tend to not return to those, even though the content may be great when they do update. Perhaps, as has been suggested by several people I know, I just have adult ADD. Or, I'll go with my more logical explanation, which is that my attention span got shot to hell this summer when studying for the bar. I simply have no patience for anything that moves slowly anymore.

I also get really disappointed when a blog pops up as having new content and then it turns out that it doesn't. And I'm frustrated that since my blog was listed as down yesterday, it hasn't been caught again as updated, despite the fact that I've made a few decent sized posts. I think I'm crabby today and should just go back to bed.

So the question remains, what is a good frequency with which to update a blog?

Fondue + Wine= a Good Night

December 27, 2006
Tonight we had our only bottle (sob) of Trentadue 2005 Sauvignon Blanc. Such is the problem when you can only bring back so much wine. And this was a good one. Screw-cap closure, only $14.95 and 14.1% alcohol by volume. Served it with cheese fondue and crusty bread.

On the nose, I want to say the wine smells light, but I know that's not right and I can't truly explain it, but it does. I suppose a better description would be that it is slightly floral and certainly full of lemon. I also get a hint of fresh grass. In the mouth, this is one crisp wine. Tart and tangy and nicely acidic. The lemon on the nose certainly follows through with a touch of melon too. The end shows off very good minerality and this has a long, lasting finish.

We picked this bottle up at Trentadue this summer while we were visiting. Trentadue was a surprise stop for us, we happened upon it on our way back to the bed and breakfast we stayed at. Highly recommend the place too, the Vintage Towers in Cloverdale, best breakfasts ever! Anyway, Trentadue is a gorgeous place! We were the only visitors that afternoon. We had plenty of time to chat with the servers and we decided to stay and do the special port tasting. Trentadue makes a Chocolate Amore Port that is absolutely to die for. There are two bottles lounging in our bar, just waiting for us to break them open....go visit! I'm still regretting our choice not to join the wine club here and may yet change my mind. Excellent value for the money and fun to drink!

Menu For Hope III

Okay, first, my blog is not down, I have no idea why Wine Blog Watch is reporting it as such, but that's not cool! Maybe I went on too much of a posting rampage last night, who knows.

Second, Menu for Hope ended on Dec. 22. What a great event, over $58,000 was raised! It will take a while until the prizes are announced, but check with Chez Pim on January 15 to see if you won. I will certainly be checking it out in hopes that I won one of the great prizes I bid on. Even without the prizes, it's a great cause and I'm happy to have participated and been able to give what I could this year.

However, my pocketbook will be lighter if I don't win that lot from Twisted Oak, as I've been wanting to try their wines and will have to head on over to their site to get myself some.

WBW #29-Biodynamic Wine

December 26, 2006
Ack, it's here already! I feel like I just finished WBW #28. This month will be hosted by Fork and Bottle and we are being asked to drink a biodynamically (can I make that a word please?) produced wine. Now, I don't know much about biodynamic wines. I'm about 99% positive that I have never had one. From what I do understand, it has to do with harvest cycles and the moon and all aspects of the environment working in harmony or some such thing. So I guess this week will find me visiting old haunts again to hunt down a biodynamic bottle. And reading a bit more so that I have a better understanding of what exactly I'm drinking. I can only hope that it doesn't take me as long to find one I'm happy with reviewing as it did for WBW #28. Pick a wine, drink it and send a review in by January 17 if you want to participate.

Festivus for the Rest of Us!

Sadly, we were unable to taste any actual Oklahoma grown wine while out in OK. Our weekend was just too packed to be able to fit anything else in, what with Gramma's 90th birthday celebration and Christmas in just 2 days. Plus, OK is in the bible liquor sales on Sundays, the one time we had a spare hour. Oh well, I'm sure we'll be back as a good portion of Matt's family lives out there.

However, we did have some wine that is blended and bottled in Oklahoma by Grape Ranch Vineyards, a relatively new winery at only 3 years old which has not yet produced a vintage of its own. Though they seem to have a great sense of humor with their Festivus wine selections.
The festivus is made from Sonoma grapes and is a Cabernet Sauvignon. It costs $15.99 a bottle, has a real cork closure and can be purchased through the Grape Ranch Vineyards website. There was also a bottle of Festivus Chardonnay floating around, but it was gone before I could get a taste.

The Cabernet Sauvignon was a little thin in the mouth, but I think that might have been due to the fact that it was served slightly warm. Otherwise, it had very good cabernet sauvignon characteristics, currants, peppers on the finish, a little kick at the end. I thought it showed great promise. Plus, it's fun for the label kitsch factor!

Wine at Christmas

We visited my FIL's family over the Christmas holiday out in Oklahoma City. Much fun and good food was had by all. We've made it home, full of Christmas cheer, but spent for this year. Too bad New Year's is this weekend, I could use a weekend off!

Several bottles of wine were consumed over the course of the weekend, including a 2005 McManis Family Vineyards Viognier. The botle is from California, 13.5% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure and can be found here for just $9.98. At the price, this is a great wine. It would be perfect for an everyday bottle and worked really well as something to drink as we were all waiting to go the Hornets-Spurs game on Saturday!

I got peach and a bit of melon on the nose. The wine was very floral with touches of honey in the mouth. Smooth, with just a little citrus on the finish. This was an easy and fun wine to drink.

2001 Brothers in Arms Shiraz

My Mother-in-law received this bottle as a gift last Christmas and brought it out to Oklahoma for all of us to enjoy this year. Vital stats: 14.5% alcohol by volume, real cork, produced in South Australia, probably cost around $34. You can read about the winery here and can find it for about $40 here.

Vanilla on the nose of this one. Dark berries in the mouth, with a slight roasted meat flavor. Earthy with a touch of oak. Very full in the mouth, long finish, very smooth. Good falvors and well balanced. I'd say drink it soon if you have this bottle.

Free Wine Game!

Go check it out! I won one, and it should be here soon! Woohoo! Very excited. Click here for the link.

Should be a fun trivia game, at least a little bit different than our normal games of Battleship, etc.

A Toast to Roshambo!

December 22, 2006
In honor of their new venture, we broke open a bottle of 2005 'The Obvious" Sauvignon Blanc. Cork closure and was somewhere around $15.

Crisp and clean flavors. Very citrusy and tart. That's not a bad thing to me though. I love tarty wines. Some melon flavors too. Yum! Good mineral flavors and a lingering finish. An all around fun glass to drink. I imagine seafood and a summer day.

So raise a glass, and join me in wishing Roshambo the best of luck with their Roshambus!

Reading Wine Blogs

While perusing the New York Times one morning back in the days when my job didn't know what to do with me, and I was reading upwards of nine papers a day online, I clicked on a link for Eric Asimov's The Pour. It was the beginning of the end, so to speak. From there, I noticed a column of links to other wine blogs and found, in particular, Alder's Vinography. I was now officially hooked. A browser is always open to the Wine Blog Watch, which I refresh constantly in hopes of more updates being posted.

I've been really impressed over the past months with the community and dedication that exists not only amoung wine bloggers, as evidenced by the monthly Wine Blogging Wednesday started by Lenn over at Lenndevours, which has been going on for over 2 years, but also by the generosity and compassion of the whole food and wine blogging community. It only takes one glance at the current total (almost $50,000!) for Menu For Hope to see the impact this community has.

So, thanks to all, and really, I do mean all, I read every blog (well, those in English and Spanish anyway) that pops up on Wine Blog Watch, for providing hours of entertainment, advice and commentary.

Black Cat

December 21, 2006
Matt put this bottle of Black Cat Riesling in my stocking, I think more for the kitsch factor of the cat shaped bottle than for real drinking potential. The whole bottle is only 500mL, so fairly tiny for a bottle of wine, and I must admit, it was cute.

Overall, it's just a simple wine. Florals with some minerals on the nose. Honey, mineral, and sweet in the mouth. Just slightly cloying, but enough structure to hold it together. A little lemon as it goes down with a long, lingering finish.

Celebrate Good Times Come On!

So we didn't save that second bottle of 1999 Roederer Brut L'Ermitage. We got some really great news today that had to be celebrated, and since it was Matt's good news, he picked the bottle. I am now on the hunt for more of these delicious babies as Roederer does not ship to Virginia. Sigh. They did tell me when we were visiting that they hoped to be able to ship to more states soon....but since August I've been checking their website and no dice yet. For the moment I will stare wistfully at this picture and imagine the bubbles that once were.

Roshambo News

I was browsing on Pinot Blogger last night and saw that Josh had a post up about the sale of Roshambo's tasting facility. I hadn't caught the article in the news, so I was happy to get a heads up. We joined the Roshambo Party Army while we were visiting the winery this summer.

You can read all about it on the Roshamblog. For the time being, they will be operating out of an RV, which sounds incredibly interesting. I hope we make it back out that way to see it in operation. There have been a few articles in the Press Democrat about the news. You can also read some more over on Fermentation.

I hope this means even better things for Roshambo in the future. They were a ton of fun to visit and make some great and intersting wines. Best of luck to them!

Menu For Hope: Good Cause + Good Prizes= Donate Now!

I've been meaning to write about this since I first noticed the post over at Vinography. Many food and wine bloggers have come together to donate some fantastic prizes in order to raise money for the UN World Food Programme. The donation page for this year's Menu for Hope is here.

You can read all about the great wine prizes on Vinography at the link above and all the other prizes at Chez Pim. There's still time to donate(but do it now!)! For just $10 a ticket you can be in the running for one of the fabulous prizes, many of which still have fantastic odds! Go!

As Promised

We (or rather I) drank the Pedroncelli 2005 Zinfandel Rose with the pizza I made on Tuesday. Decided to make a Hawaiian pizza since we had pinapple and ham hanging around, and it turned out pretty well if I do say so myself. I think I've finally got this pizza making thing down pat.

As for the wine, it's 13% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure and I believe cost around $10 when we picked it up at the vineyard. Sometimes I'm not too sure on the prices of the wines as I lost track of several receipts along the way. Happens when your vacation spans two countires and 4 different cities/towns.

More with the strawberries! I seem to have theme weeks at times. A few weeks ago it was citrus, this week it's strawberries. On the nose of the wine there is the scent of strawberries in the sun. Kind of like if you've ever spent the day picking strawberries in the field as the hot sun beats down on them. Also, a whiff of vanilla. In the mouth, the wine is dry and fruity (sounds incongruous, huh?), but with a slight sweet note that seems a touch off to me. A little peppery kick, which I can only attribute to the Zinfandel grape. A pleasant and easy to drink wine, but not a great match for my pizza. The pinapple killed the flavors of the wine and made it unpleasant to me. I enjoyed it more after dinner, as did Matt when he finally gave in and joined me in a glass. Serve it very chilled.

Great color on the wine though, quite pink! I'll post a picture later. No wine last night, I was too busy making cookies, so we grabbed a quick bite at Chili's where I (gasp) had a beer!

Got My New Camera!

I'm super excited! And it seems the pictures from my old camera are still on the memory card, woohoo! I also took a video of this super-annoying motion sensitive singing ornament that someone hung outside my cubicle. I wonder if Blogger lets me upload videos? It's creepy and annoying, my favorite combo in a Christmas decoration.....right. If you could see it, you would understand why I am such a grinch this year. Once, it might be okay, but this thing goes off twenty to forty times a day and sings "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," the full version. I'll have to play around with it later and see if I can get the video up here. Phooey. Can't seem to get it to work.

Strawberry Fields Forever

December 18, 2006
Apparently we have a theme going for this week: wines that have distincly strawberry flavors. And, I haven't yet put away my longing for summer, much boosted by the very unseasonal 72 degrees we hit here today. (So how's that global warming working for you?) Thus, tonight was a bottle of Preston of Dry Creek 2005 Vin Gris, which is a rose table wine. This wine is 13.5 % alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure and ran us $17 minus a case discount when we bought it at Preston. Sadly, this bottle of Preston is also sold out. It seems most all Preston had to offer this year is sold out, which is making me rethink the decision not to join their club, as I'm not sure we can get their wines otherwise....

Back to the wine. What a great wine. Fun to drink, light, yet creamy and perfect for a summer afternoon (or a winter day masquerading as summer, or really, any day you want!). As I said, the texture is creamy, which I find surprising in a rose. The color looks like a melted watermelon Jolly Rancher, and it follows though with a solidly watermelon and strawberry taste (though not in the sickeningly sweet way I would imagine a melted Jolly Rancher to taste, which really, can't be all that pleasent to drink!).

I paired this with our leftover "Christmas" dinner. So honey baked ham, cheesy mashed potatoes and candied carrots. It was a pretty tasty match. I think a rose is great with a ham, and we have a bottle of Pedroncelli 2005 Rose (or 3) hanging around that I might pair with our ham and cheese pizza that I'm making of the leftovers for dinner tomorrow. Stay tuned (if anyone actually reads this!) :)

The Stockings All Hung By The Chimney With Care...

in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there. Well, not really in our house, since we don't have a fireplace, but what more appropriate place for us to hang them then off of the bar! And as I mentioned earlier, we had "Christmas" in our house on Saturday!

Santa (aka Matt) was good to me in a wine-related way this Christmas. I must have been an extra good girl this year. Not only was my stocking stuffed with riesling, but under the tree I found the Oxford Companion to Wine!!! Just what my collection was in dire need of. I am very excited to delve into this book for all the wine nuances I have yet to master. I also got a very helpful food reference guide to help me when my dishes call for an ingredient I'm not familiar with. A very well rounded food and wine holiday in our house this year!

Strawberry Jam

December 17, 2006
After a long day of baking Christmas cookies, I wanted nothing more than to have a glass of wine with dinner. Thankfully, we had leftovers tonight so I didn't have to cook! Roast beef, mashed potatoes and candied carrots. I decided on a bottle of 2003 Mauritson Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. I can't remember whether we bought this while at Mauritson or if it came in a club shipment, but it cost $19.20, has a real cork closure and is 15.1% alcohol by volume.

On the first glass, there was a bit of alcohol, pepper and dark fruit. I let it air for a bit (and stuck it in the fridge quickly as it was a little bit warmer than I like) and I'm pretty pleased with the results. What I have in my glass is perfect for drinking now. The structure of the wine is smooth, with an easy finish and very jammy. As the bottle aired out, I got a lot of strawberry jam in the mouth, though the nose is still dark fruit and pepper. I think this would be an excellent bottle to drink at a summer barbeque. It'll definetly last until the summer, but I think it's at a great time for drinking now or pretty soon!

Sparkling Wine Heaven

December 16, 2006
Not that I'm trying to continue along the WBW #28 theme or anything, but we had another bottle of sparkling wine tonight. One we've been saving since we bought it for a special occassion. Tonight was that occassion. We are heading out of town for Christmas to my father in-law's family out in Oklahoma as it is his mother's 90th birthday on Christmas Eve. The thought of dragging our presents to each other out to OK and then back to VA seemed a touch ridiculous, so instead we decided that today was Christmas in our house.

We got up early, opened presents, had fancy hot cocoa, lounged in our pjs and had a ham for Christmas dinner. Not to mention some fancy homemade chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce for dessert. With our meal, we opened a bottle of Roederer Estate 1999 L'Ermitage Brut. What a fabulous sparkling wine. I never want to drink anything else again. (Well, not really, but I'm pretty darn pleased with this bottle!)

At 12% alcohol by volume, it's pretty hefty compared to other sparkling wines we've had recently! We picked this bottle up when we went to Roederer Estates on our way to Mendocino this summer. (Along with several special release bottles of Roederer Pinot Noir!) I think it cost us around $40.

As for the wine....perfect little bubbles that kept coming through each glass poured. The scent of flowers and honey on the nose. In the mouth, lots of little bubbles, crisp, tart apple, a touch of honey. The wine is creamy and perfect. I would rate this a Special sparkler in keeping with the WBW theme from this month. This would be something I would save for special occasssions (like tonight, our first Christmas as boring old marrieds :) ) or serve to those who would really appreciate it. We have one more bottle. I'd say we would drink it on our anniversary, but we already have a bottle set aside for that, that our kind server at the Lion's Den Bistro in Hopland gave us when we announced it was our favorite bottle of the evening after tasting several courses and many glasses of wine.

I crossed a line

That line between enjoying wine and being a wino. I picked up my water glass at dinner tonight, swirled it and sniffed. My husband burst out laughing at me. I didn't even realize what I was doing. It was a natural reaction to holding a glass, any glass, in my hand.

Culinary Fool Rounds up the Sparklers!

Wow, that was incredibly fast! There seem to be a ton of entries for WBW #28 and the Culinary Fool has already managed to get the summaries of all of them up. You can find the posts here and here.

It looks like people tasted a ton of different things, with many great values to be had. I was a touch disappointed that no one like the Rumball Sparkling Shiraz, both the Culinary Fool and another blogger tasted it. I had thought it was a fun and fruity sparkler. Oh well, goes to show everyone likes something a bit different.

In perfect time for the holiday though, there are now reviews of a great variety of sparkling wines to be used to grace any festivity. Enjoy! Again, many thanks to the Culinary Fool for hosting and for being so prompt with the summary. I'm very glad I got to participate!

2003 Quivira Syrah

We found Quivira while we were out driving on our honeymoon. I was driving since I could get a better rate on the rental car and Matt was navigating. He insisted that we were driving to nowhere, there were no vineyards on that far out on the road we were on. I persisted and we came upon Quivira. (I love being right.) It was a slow day at the vineyard, on what I believe was a Wednesday. We had plenty of time to chat with the tasting room server and learn about Quivira's wines and history. We enjoyed the wines so much that we signed up for the club and have been very pleased with the wines we've received.

Last night we grabbed a glass of the 2003 Syrah before heading out to dinner. Again, I really wish I remembered to decant more often. I really think this wine would have benefitted from decanting for a bit. On that first glass, the flavors were really tight and difficult for me to pick out, but I got a strong sense of roasted meat and pepper. After dinner we had the second glass and the wine had aired (albeit in the bottle) for the hour or so that we were gone. This is a very earthy wine. A little bit of oak and big earthy flavors. I got a bit of dark fruit, plums, black cherries, currants, as the wine opened up some more.

Preston 2005 Sauvignon Blanc

December 14, 2006

We picked this bottle up for $18 minus a case discount at Preston while we were visiting the area this summer. Sadly my camera is on the fritz and in the process of dying managed to erase my photo of the bottle and the wine in the glass. I've ordered another camera, but I won't have pictures of any bottles until it gets here :(

Preston has gone completely organic in their farming procedures and all bottles of wine, starting with the 2005 Suavignon Blanc are made of organic grapes.

The wine is 13.5% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure. I got lots of lemon and other citrus on the nose of my glass. A crisp wine in the mouth, with traces of minerality and grass. It was tart and light with an easy finish. Paired well with the creamy chicken casserole I had made as it seemed a good balance for the creamy flavors.

Looks like Preston is completely sold out of the 2005 vintage of all their white wines, including the Madame Preston Grape Wine, a bottle of which I have hanging around! Although, you can still find this Sauvignon Blanc online here.

It Sparkles and it's not Champagne

December 13, 2006
So it must be my entry for WBW #28!

This is my first time participating in WBW and I have tried for several weeks now to come up with a suitable entry.

What I finally came up with was a bottle of Clairette De Die Carod Freres from France, specific appellation: Clairette de die controlee.
You can find out more about the producer and the appellation here. One of the more interesting tidbits is the suggestion that this could be served at daytime meetings...I want to work at a place where it's acceptable to drink at daytime meetings, or meetings of any sort for that matter!

Vital stats of the wine: I purchased it for $12.99 at the Curious Grape in Shirlington, it is 7.5% alcohol by volume and had a traditional champagne type closure.

On the nose, I get lots of flowers. It smells like a spring-time garden. This is a sweet wine, made from 75% Muscat Petits Grains grapes and 25% Clairette grapes. In the mouth I could easily taste the flavors of a sweet muscat grape, apricots, some honeydew melon and a bit of orange.

Lots of small little bubbles, but not too fizzy. I would suggest serving this very chilled and keeping it cold as I found the sweetness to be a bit overwhelming as we worked our way through the bottle. It was light and crisp and perhaps could have used just a bit more acidity to keep the structure. But overall, for $12.99 it was a great deal and something that would be easy and different to serve at a party.

I rate this in the Party Sparkler category! Many thanks to the Culinary Fool for hosting this WBW!

Visions of Sugar Plums

December 11, 2006
I was trying again to find a wine to review for WBW #28. Tonight we turned to a bottle of 2005 Voulet (with an oomlat on the "u") Antichi Giochi Piemontesi, Casorzo.

And yet again, I don't want this one to be my entry for WBW. I really wanted something different, and I thought this one might fit the bill. And I will admit, it was different, but not quite what I was looking for.

The bottle had a cork closure, was 5% alcohol by volume and cost me $11.99 at the Curious Grape. The wine is produced in Italy.

It was awful with our dinner. The dinner was a very thick steak rubbed with fresh rosemary, broccoli and purple mashed potatoes. The wine was way too sweet for dinner and tasted terrible. I stopped drinking and stuck it back in the fridge.

Took it back out after dinner (nice and chilled) and had it with some dark chocolate. And that made it taste pretty good to me, though Matt preferred it on its on.

As far as being an entry for WBW, it was really not sparkling. It fizzed the teensiest little bit upon pouring and that was it. So I did not find it worthy, but still wanted to write about it in another post.

The title of the post results from the fact that I thought the wine tasted like candied plums, and it's almost Christmas, so visions of sugar plums dancing in my head seemed appropriate.

Tasty for a non-syrupy red dessert wine. Serve it with chocolate, or it probably would have done really well with my chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce that I served for dessert to our company last weekend. Also, make sure it's cold, unless you really enjoy sweet wines. It was just too sweet for me when it warmed up a bit.

Crab Legs and Sauvignon Blanc

I'm unwilling to admit that summer is over. So when I saw the store had fresh caught snow crab clusters (not pre-frozen!) on Sunday, that's what we got for dinner. And why not pair it with a great, crisp, summery white? Ta-da! My idea of summer in December.

The wine was a 2005 Mauritson Sauvignon Blanc. A familar refrain, but we visited Mauriston in August, on our full day tour with Gene of Healdsburg Area Winery Tours. Again, Gene knew all the people in the tasting room, and we probably wouldn't have visited without him. Mauritson was easily my husband's favorite vineyard. He loved all the wines there, plus he really enjoyed picking the brain of the tasting room server. I know he can't wait to break into the Magnum of Rockpile Petit Sirah we've got stashed away.

Back to the wine. This bottle cost us $17 minus the club discount (did I mention we joined a ton of clubs, it's a party every day at our house, as wine arrives constantly!), screw-cap closure, 13.5% alcohol by volume. This was a great match with the crab legs! Very crisp and light and lots of clean fruit flavors. Citrus, some melon, and I definetly thought I got some green apple. Easy to drink. Yum, drink up!

Nothing to do with wine

But nothing says "Peace on Earth" and Merry Christmas" like a giant SUV decorated like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!

PS-This car is residing in the garage at our apartment, so I get to giggle every day when I drive into the garage.

Ferrari Carano 2003 Zinfandel

December 10, 2006
Served this little beauty last night to our dinner guests with the appetizer and main course. Bruschetta and homemade pizza. Which were both excellent if I do say so myself! The wine was a decent match with the dinner, but might have done better with a light meat dish. A very nice wine though, and it could easily have been enjoyed alone, which I did with the last little bit after our guests left.

Blackberries, black cherries, a bit of spice. Just a touch of oak. I decanted the bottle for about an hour before serving it, and I think it really helped. The wine was flavorful, well balanced and perfect to drink now. Go, drink it if you have it! This cost us $24 minus a club discount and we picked it up while we were at Ferrari.

Ferrari Carano was a beautiful place to visit. Go to it for the grounds alone (picture above was taken in August). They are impeccably manicured and full of gorgeous flowers. Not to mention the absolutely fabulous new reserve tasting bar. It's located in the cellar and no expense was spared in building it. The new bar has just opened the week were in Sonoma, so we were lucky to see it. Plus, their tasting was quite varied, the pours were decently sized and the tasting room attendants really knew their stuff.

Bella is Beautiful!

Bella wines are fabulous. I have never had one I haven't enjoyed. Last night we had a 2004 Bella Dry Creek Zinfandel. Delicious. We picked this bottle up at Bella on our trip to Sonoma. Bella was such a cool place to visit. The tasting room is built into a cave in the hill. We visited Bella on the day we were driven around by Gene of Healdsburg Area Wine Tours. Which, by the way, was a fantastic value and Gene was awesome! He's really friendly and seems to love what he does. He took us to lots of vineyards that we may have not visited otherwise.

Back to the actual wine. The nose didn't impress me very much, but the flavor more than made up for it! Lots of dark fruit and spice in the mouth. The finish was long and lingering and full of blueberries and a bit of cherry. We had leftover meatloaf and bruschetta for dinner last night and if was a great match for my meatloaf. Enjoy!

A Lebanese Red

December 9, 2006
After Matt's Christmas party on Thursday we decided to go to the Lebanese Taverna, one of our favorite places, for dinner since I didn't have anything made. Yum! We've tried many of the Lebanese white wines on the menu in previous visits (in addition to Lebanese beer) and many have been very tasty. I'll write about them next time we try them. On Thursday, we thought we'd try a red instead.

We bought a bottle of Chateau Kefraya 2005 Les Breteches. It was $27 at the restaurant, 13.5% alcohol by volume and a cork closure. The wine was a blend, containing 70% Cinsaut, 5% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Tempranillo, 5% Carignan, 5% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre. It hails from the Vallee Da La Bekaa.

We drank this with a beef and lamb shwarma with came with tomatoes, onions and rice pilaf. Which, but the way, is a fabulous dish. Yum! Anyway, the wine had a very reserved nose of raisins and spices. But it was rather large in the mouth given the reserved nose, with a very long finish. Paired well with the dish, but I thought it should have been a touch colder.

Hop Kiln 2004 Old Windmill Zinfandel

December 7, 2006
Served this with homemade tomato sauce and pasta. A bit of a last minute dinner (thankfully sauce defrosts well in a pan) as my plans to make meatloaf were dashed when I arrived home to find the ground beef was still quite frozen.

A lot of alcohol upon opening this bottle. I almost didn't have a sip through the whole meal as I needed to let my glass just sit there. After dinner, it had mellowed considerably. I got a lot of dark fruit on the nose, a little pepper. The finish was a little strong on the first glass, but by the end of the bottle was very nice and full of fruit. The wine was not a good match for the plain pasta sauce. We still have another bottle of this left and I will probably use it with a meaty stew or a nice grilled steak. I would also recommend keeping this around for a bit longer to help the tannins mellow in the bottle rather than letting it sit out for a few hours. But if you must drink it now, decant!

Cork closure, picked it up for $20 at Hop Kiln.

It's sparkling and red!

December 5, 2006
I am still in search of a wine to review for WBW. As such, I've been perusing the local wine shops trying to find something interesting. I thought I had found it at the Curious Grape, which may be my new favorite wine store by the way, but again, my hopes are dashed. I came home proudly bearing a bottle of Peter Rumball Sparkling Shiraz, only to find that the Culinary Fool had already displayed the same bottle in her Preparing for WBW series. And alas, I really wanted to find something different so it's on to something else.

Well, I did come across a bottle of sparkling eiswein (yes, really, it exists) but at $70 for a small bottle, Matt was very happy that I did not bring that beauty home.

But the Rumball Sparkling Shiraz still deserves a review! What a fun wine to drink. Matt and I enjoyed it last night over the last (finally!) of the turkey soup and it actually made a fantastic pairing. My soup was more of a stew with potatoes and carrots and such, so it was a hearty meal. I really liked how this sweet, but surprisingly crisp bottle of wine paired with the turkey. I would seriously consider serving this at Thanksgiving next year (or perhaps bringing a bottle to OK for Christmas?). Lots of berry flavors, a bit of plum. Nice tiny bubbles, crisp and refreshing.

If I don't get some of this for Christmas, I think it will for sure make its presence known again in our house over New Year's. For $25 a bottle, it was a really fun sparkler and I think it'll make a nice change for the midnight toast on New Year's. At least it will be different!

A glass by myself

December 3, 2006
Matt's had a touch of a headache all day from the wine we drank on Saturday. Sometimes red wine does that. However, so that I could have something to blog about today I sacrificed myself and forced myself to drink some wine tonight ;)

Tonight's choice? A 2004 Roshambo Rock Paper Scissors Merlot. Strawberries and cherries on the nose. In general, it doesn't do much for me. The taste is bitter and tannic. And it dries out my tongue. I'm pretty sure this bottle came in our club shipment. Which kind of sucks cause that means I paid a lot to ship it across the country. It ran us $8.00 with the discount. 14.1% alcohol by volume, screw-cap closure. Not terrible, but I wouldn't seek it out.

David Coffaro 2003 Terre Melange

Tonight we enjoyed the 2nd of our 3 bottles of David Coffaro 2003 Terre Melange. The bottle had a nose of berries and black cherries. In the mouth it was big, with currants and cherries. It had a very earthy character over all. The fruits were very subtle, the finish was sharp and long.

We picked these bottles up while visting Coffaro in Sonoma. This one was $24, plastic cork closure, 13.9% alcohol by volume. What an interesting place Coffaro was. The tasting room is in a very large old barn. Lots of sports memorabilia on the walls. Also, an enormous tv screen (I think it may have been a pull down projection screen) at the far end of the barn playing a game, wieght benches and lots of couches. Fun place to visit. The vineyards dog was quite friendly and gave us the once over as we walked in.

Coffaro sells most of its wine in futures sales, and only 30 cases of this Terre Melange were even made, so we were excited to be able to take a few bottles home with us. I think I will keep the other one around for another year or so to see if the finish mellows out at all. Overall, a very tasty bottle, but with lots of sediment!

I need to wash my mouth out!

December 2, 2006
No, not with soap silly, well actually.....really, with anything that will get this sweet sweet sweet syrup taste out of my mouth.

I've been trying to find a bottle of sparkling wine that I want to review for WBW on December 13. Thus, I've been drinking more than my share of sparkling wines. This is the second one I've tasted. I haven't blogged about the first because it's still in the running for my WBW entry.

This was a Beviamo Moscato D'Asti. I picked it up for $8.99 at World Market. The beverage specialist said it was a sweet wine, but easy to drink. My thoughts: Well, for nine bucks I'll give it a shot.

NO!!! Don't do it. It was not easy to drink. In fact, I think I was making a face the whole time I was drinking this wine. It was just too sweet. I think the proper term is that it was cloying. It lacked any structure to tame the overwhelming sweetness of the syrup in the bottle. Overripe peaches with some apricot were the fruits I smelled. I just couldn't get past the sweet taste to actually distinguish anything in the mouth. It also wasn't that fizzy. NMS.

The Neverending Turkey (and Sides)

I've discovered the flaw in hosting a holiday meal when there are only two people who live in the house regularly: leftovers that never end. I did not notice this when I was a kid, for a few reasons. One, my family all lives in the same area of the same state and thus the host usually ends up only making the main meat dish and maybe a few small things. The cousins, aunts, grammas, etc., bring everything else. And when they leave, they clearly want to take their dish home, so they take it with whatever leftovers are in it. Two, there were 4 people to eat the leftovers. And finally, my mother clearly knew better than I how much turkey any given group could eat at a time.

That said, we still have a ton of leftovers. We've eaten turkey almost every night since Thanksgiving and had it in sandwiches for lunch. We're turkeyed out. However, not one to want to waste anything, I made turkey soup out of the rest of the turkey.

And that's what I paired with a Bottle of Hanna Winery Bismark Moutain Vineyard 2000 Noir. We picked this bottle up for $30 at Hanna when we were out in Sonoma. Cork closure, 14.5% alcohol by volume, this wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

I actually remembered to decant this bottle, and I had it out for about 40 minutes before drinking the first glass. I'm really glad I decanted it. I could still smell alcohol on the nose even after that time. So I put my glass to the side and let it air a bit more. When I went back to it, the alcohol scent was gone and I got cherries, herbs and spices. However, this was by no means a big fruity wine. It was also not sweet, it weighs in at 0.03% residual sugar. It was smooth in the mouth, with a long lasting finish, but the finish was not as smooth as I would have liked. This usually retails for $50.00 a bottle, but was on sale for $30.00 the day we bought it. We have another bottle and I will keep that around for a while. I think the finish should mellow with a little more aging.

A Night of Two Whites

December 1, 2006
For some reason, we decided on Wednesday we needed two bottles of wine. Probably not the world's wisest idea, but it certainly didn't stop us from drinking another bottle the next night! Both bottles were purchased at Arrowine in our quest.

The first was a Olivier Morin 2004 Bourgogne Chitry. $16.99, 12.5% alcohol by volume, one of those plastic "cork" closures. It had cedar and pine on the nose. It was tart at first in the mouth, but then just flat. It also had an odd finish. There wasn't much structure. I'm inclined to believe that we may have gotten a bad bottle. I've read good things about this producer, and his wines are supposed to be very terroir driven, with the soil being chalky and imparting mineral flavors to the wine. I would be inclined to try another bottle of this if the opportunity arose and the price was right. It's 100% chardonnay, so the flavors I found were quite off.

The second bottle was a deal and a great surprise! A 2005 Comte Laudet Vin De Pays De Terroir Landais. 12% alcohol by volume, screw cap and only $6.99!! Made of 80% Colombard and 20% Gros Manseng. We also picked this up at Arrowine in our quest for everyday wines. This was incredibly easy to drink and would make a great everyday white table wine. It had some tropical fruits, a hint of lemon and some peach on the nose. Also, a nutty scent. It was tasty in the mouth, not too thin, had a little vanilla on the taste and a bit of spice on the end. Drink up for $6.99 a bottle.

Questing Again

November 29, 2006
Last night we moved on to another bottle in our quest for everyday wines. This was a bottle of 2005 Vin D' Alsace Willm Gewurztraminer. We paired it with the last (phew!) of the turkey and some sides (still lots of those left). 13% alcohol by volume, $13.99 at Arrowine, cork closure.

Very nice flowery nose. Good spice on the finish, light, but full in the mouth. I'm sold. For the price, it will find it's way to our table frequently.

A Bottle of White

November 28, 2006
So we decided one bottle wasn't enough on Sunday night and cracked open a second. We are again on a quest for everyday wines and this time we were searching at Arrowine. I saw a commercial for them and signed up for their mailing list. Which was great because they sent me a coupon for 20% off a bottle of wine.

Anyway, we picked up 4 bottles while there. On Sunday we tasted a bottle from Ameztoi Vineyards in Spain. I'm not quite sure what it is, it says Cosecha 2005. And the importer says the grapes are 90% Hondarribi Zuri and 10% Hondarribi Beltza. But I don't know what those are.

Moving on. The sales associate at Arrowine told me it is akin to a Vihno Verde which I blogged about a little while ago. He also seemed surprised with my evaluation of the Vihno Verde I had tried, as they carry the same brand.

So this bottle was slightly fizzy. I was wary after my last experience, but this was really tasty! It was a bit like a fizzy riesling minus the petrol scent. It had a lot of citrus, was light and clean and very easy to drink.

$14.99, 14% alcohol by volume and one of those plastic corks (shudder).

We'll buy this again as I like lighter wines for a weekday.

A Bottle of Red

Leftover turkey and sides, which gives me another chance to try pairing wine with the turkey. And yet again, I'm led to the conclusion that there's just no great wine that will pair well with it all. Oh well, it gives me yet another excuse to try more wines!

Sunday night's was a 2003 Alexander Valley Vineyards Sangiovese. We picked this bottle up at Alexander Valley Vineyards this summer for $20. We had a great time at the vineyard. We were the only people there and our server was great. He spent a lot of time chatting with us and even gave us a nifty corkscrew when he found out we were on our honeymoon. Came in handy when we got to LA and really needed a bottle of wine!

Back to the wine. It had a lot of strawberry jam on the nose and more strawberries in the taste. Very full in the mouth. A bit unfinished at the end. It will definetly improve with age. I'd keep it around for a few more years to let it round out. The finish smoothed as it aired out and I was reminded once again that I really need to make more use of the decanters we got as wedding presents.

Do you feel wine guilt at vineyards?

November 27, 2006
And by that, I mean, do you feel the need to buy a bottle at each vineyard you visit? I do. Even if I don't really like the wines, I try to find one I find palatable to buy. Otherwise, I would just feel bad, like I wasted their time by not buying anything.

Made with Wine

November 26, 2006
Oh how delicious. We picked up a bottle of Caramel Chardonnay Sauce at Alderbrook Vineyards. I served it as an appetizer for Thanksgiving, oddly enough, with pretzel sticks. The really thin little pretzel sticks. The salt of the pretzel is a great contrast to the very sweet sauce. You can actually taste the chardonnay in the sauce and it is just fabulous. A bottle was $18.95 minus our club discount.

I loved visiting Alderbrook. We were there at the very end of the day and the wine-maker happened to be behind the counter so we got to pepper him with questions about his wine. I loved how big and open their tasting room was, as it offers a very large selection of wine merchandise and food products. I would really like to return some day when we have more time to spend there and perhaps enjoy a light lunch on their porch.

4 Pinots all in a row

Last night we went to the Aunt and Uncle's place for some pizza and football. My husband's uncle brought out pinot after pinot for us to try.

1.) First up was a 2004 Argyle Reserve from the Willamette Valley. My notes on this one say cherries, balanced, smooth, hint of tobacco, could probably age and have a much fuller flavor. Very light in color for a pinot noir, I almost thought it might be a slightly dark rose when it was poured.

2.) Next we had an Orogeny 2003 Pinot Noir from Sonoma. Now I know I said I wouldn't be picking out dirt flavors in my wine. I lied. I got a big Earthy, dirt flavor throughout this wine. Raisins, currants and a hint of cherry. There was also a sour scent on the nose, I still can't place what it is, it's been driving me nuts since it was poured into my glass last night.

3.) Third was a Belles Soeurs 2000 "The Wild Thing" Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. My notes say excellent, smooth, perfect balance, lots of cherry, full in mouth, currants. May I please have more? I gather only 625 cases were made of this and it might be at its perfect drinking time now. The website says between 2003-2007 would be best for this bottle. I want to buy it all and drink it now.

4.) Finally, was a 2005 Saintsbury Carneros Garnet Pinot Noir. Sweet meats, soda, like a Coke. Flat. No flavor really, an odd finish. Perhaps the bottle wasn't good? This is supposed to be their finest pinot, but I wasn't impressed.

Overall, my favorite was #3, then #1, then #2, then 4. Uncle Bruce said 3, 2, 1, 4, my husband said 3, 4, 1, 2, Aunt Terry said 3, 1, 2, 4 and Ella(sister in law) said 2, 1, 3, 4.

And please, does anyone want to find some bottles of #3 for me? Please?

A duet of reds

Friday evening found us going with my husband's brother and our sister in law to the Melting Pot for a fondue feast (just what we needed after Thanksgiving was to expand our belts a little more, right?). Cheese fondue, then meat fondue and finally chocolate fondue for dessert. It presented another conundrum, what to drink with such a mixture? The Melting Pot offers a surprisingly extensive wine list, with prices up over $200 for a bottle. Those were not to be in our price range for the evening. Our sister in law was inclined to want a red that night so I concentrated on those.

I chose a 2005 Trinity Oaks California Pinot Noir. It's produced by Trinchero Family Estates in Napa. $30 on the menu, cork closure, but our waitress had a terrible time getting the cork out. I found it online for $9.00, so a $21 mark-up, not terrible for a restaurant I suppose. I certainly wasn't going to pay $45 for a Chateau St. Michelle Riesling which I know I can get for $13 at the store.

Back to the wine. I wasn't impressed. It was very thin in the mouth to start. It tasted of cherries and raspberries. I put it aside for a bit and let it open and air. It tasted better toward the end of the meal, a little fuller, but still a very thin wine. But what could I expect for the price?

We came home and opened a 2004 Quivira Steelhead Red Dry Creek Valley Blended Red Wine. 14.2% alcohol by volume, cork closure, cost us $15 after our club discount. I think I read somewhere that this wine supports the restoration of trout to the creek at Quivira. This wine was spicy, but well balanced and easy to drink. Tart berry flavors, and a lot of spice. I think this would go well with an Italian dish that had some sausage in it.

What do you serve with this:

I believe that is the question that many a wine lover (or blogger) has been asking him or herself over the past few weeks. This was the plate of food that was served to everyone at my house. Sweet potatoes with marshmellows, candied carrots, mashed potatoes with cheese, turkey, etc. Is there really a perfect wine to serve with this disharmonious collection of food that somehow all tastes good together?

I think the answer I have arrived at is that no, there is no perfect wine to serve. But that's okay. Since nothing will go fantastically well, why not just serve what you like and add it into the mix of all the other random foods put together on a plate?

With that in mind, 4 bottles fell at our house on Thanksgiving. I was little off in my predictions. I thought we would drink 2 white, a red and a dessert. It ended up being 2 white, a dessert and a Champagne. As noted before, we let our guests choose off our pre-prepared list. My husband's brother and his wife chose the first bottle, a 2005 Ferrari-Carano Sauvignon Blanc. My brother in law said it was because it had Ferrari in the name. Everyone seemed to like it, though I think most were more concerned with tasting all the food at the table than with the wine! It's a slightly sweet sauvignon blanc with a good bit of citrus rounding out the flavor. I remember really enjoying this the day we tasted it and we do have another bottle hanging around for later. Cork closure, $15.

Next we moved on to a dessert wine, which was the choice my husband's Aunt and Uncle. Being slightly wary of the VA dessert wines on the list, they chose a 2005 Bella Late Harvest Zinfandel. This was also a cork closure and cost $20.50. At 15% residual sugar, I expected this to be a very sweet wine, but it really reminded of a very young port. I thought it had a great finish, a lot of blackberry flavor and I probably should have served it with an assortment of chocolate, but, chocolate would not seem the dessert of choice for Thanksgiving.

Up third for the evening was a bottle of Preston Vineyards 2005 Dry Creek Valley Viognier. Cork closure, $22 after a case discount. If you ever have a chance, try Preston's olive oils. They are superb and I only wish we had taken home a few bottles. This was a good choice for a wine to drink as we did, sitting around playing Trivial Pursuit. It was light and easy to drink, but surprisingly full in the mouth and very smooth going down. It had a bit of spice that I can't place and maybe a hint of tropical fruit. This was my choice as I realized we were hunkering for a long battle of the wits.

Finally, to finish the evening, we opened the bottle of champagne that our Aunt and Uncle were so kind to bring. It was a G.H. Mumm & Cie. Cordon Rouge Brut. I gather it runs around $37 for the bottle and sadly the cork was thrown away before I could see what year it was. I thought this was a very tasty bottle and a great way to finish our evening. I tasted a lot of apple, and thought it was slightly sweet for a brut champagne. A good finish, with just a bit of yeasty undertone. I'd definetly get this bottle again.

And then there were 8

Seven of these were from our collection and were consumed between Wednesday and now. The Champagne was a gift from my husband's Aunt and Uncle who came to our house for Thanksgiving.

Let's start with Wednesday evening.

Out of this collection, far and away my favorite was the Fritz 2005 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. We picked this bottle up for $25 while visiting Fritz Winery. Fritz was great, we joined their club and got to meet several members of the Fritz family who served our wine that day and wandered in and out while we were there for our tasting.

Of course, we didn't really do this wine justice as we drank it while eating a Pizza Hut delivery and waiting for the call that my husband's brother and our sister in law had arrived, but nonetheless, it was fabulous. It had a lot of big fruit, cherries and blackberries and I also got a hint of tobacco. It was smooth and big and easy to drink. I have two more bottles that I will keep in our collection as I expect this will just get better with age.

The next wine of the evening was a De La Montanya Felta Creek Vineyards 2005 Summer White. Even my sister in law, who is not a big fan of white wine, liked this one. I wrote on my note pad that this was crisp, quite acidic and tasted like pears. I also jotted down that it probably would have done well with Thanksgiving as it could have easily cut through all the creamy buttery flavors.

Finally, we moved on to a Columbia Winery Spirit of Washington Dinner Train 2004 Riesling. Columbia Winery is in Washington State and we did pick up this bottle when our Dinner Train stopped at the winery. For $7.00 it was quite a bargain. A nice sweet riesling, very easy to drink and a good way to finish the evening.

Fountains of WIne

November 25, 2006

At last count, since Wednesday afternoon, we have consumed 9 bottles of wine. Phew. I haven't had a chance to post about any of them yet, but I have my notes all assembled and ready to go. Our company leaves tonight, so hopefully tomorrow I will get the time to write about everything we drank this week (which will probably be added to tonight!).

Thanksgiving went incredibly well. My first bird came out perfectly and I managed to get all the dishes prepared and out of the oven at the right time. I think everyone enjoyed themselves. I ignored my friends who encouraged me to make a bad meal in order to escape from further Thanksgiving responsibilities. And I was really pleased with how everything tasted and turned out. The homemade cranberry sauce was a big hit as was the homemade ice cream.

We're off to lunch with our company now, so more later on the massive amount of wine we drank.

How do you drink wine?

November 22, 2006
Traditionally, my husband and I drank wine as many people would drink a beer: basically, any time we wanted an alcoholic beverage we'd drink a glass of wine. I've gathered that many people carefully pair their food and wine, and while I've been trying to do that more frequently, I still find the we just break out a bottle while we're sitting around watching a movie and drink it without any accompaniment. And really, it never so much bothered me if the wine didn't fit with the meal, so long as the wine was good. I've always been of the opinion that a good wine can make up for a bad dinner.

So how do you drink your wine? With your dinner? As an everyday beverage? With chocolates or cheese? I'm genuinely curious.

Wine, how I love thee

I am in love with a new bottle of wine. It came in our De La Montanya shipment. It is a 2005 De La Montanya Estate Vineyards Chardonnay. Thankfully, 3 bottles came, as I will be keeping the other two for a few more years.

Perfection! Just a slight oaky scent, with a very little touch of butter on the nose, with lots of citrus undertones. So smooth and full in the mouth and the taste lingered. Yum! Just a hint of oak in the taste, green apples, peaches, a little citrus and a bit of spice on the end. I can still taste it today.

The 2004 was $30 a bottle, so I would assume this is around the same price, but I can't find a listing for it on the website.

I have to see if I can talk my husband into reordering some of this so that I can have more than 2 bottles to taste over the years.

Tasting VA Wines

November 20, 2006
Summer White from Lost Creek Vineyards, which we picked up on our excursion to Leesburg.

I don't remember this wine tasting the way it does now when we were sampling. It's an apple wine, with I believe 20% apple wine.

It smells like flowers and decomposing grass. And tastes a lot like a very sweet hard cider, with a lot of overripe apple taste.

I guess we must have liked it that day, but I wasn't such a fan when we drank our bottle. Maybe it wasn't cold enough?

Tart n' Tangy

Leftovers again last night. I'm still not feeling so great, so I haven't been cooking. Thankfully there were lots of leftovers from last week.

Anyway. The wine for last night was a 2005 Felta Creek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc from De La Montanya. And the title says it all. This wine was tart and tangy. Crisp, with lots of citrus on the nose (continuing in the theme of Weekend 'o Citrus).

I'm offering this wine as an option for Thanksgiving and I'm glad I tasted it again. I still think it's a good bottle, but I think it will do really well with Thanksgiving dinner. It's so crisp and acidic that I think it will be a good match with all the creamy potatoes, yams, casseroles, etc. It should be a great palate cleanser. We shall see if anyone selects this as one of the wines for the meal. Pretty good deal for the price.

Thanksgiving Wine Menu

November 19, 2006
Clearly much more important than what is actually on the food menu, right?

Since we have so many bottles from our trip, and the collection is a bit eclectic, I thought I would give our guests a choice of wines. I'm preparing the whole Thanksgiving feast this year and it is my first time making a turkey. Hopefully if our guests get into the wine a bit they will be sufficiently tipsy by the time I put out the bird in case it doesn't come out as planned...

I know not all of these are traditional matches with turkey, but I'm going to print up a little menu with some tasting notes and let the guests select the bottles. It's me, my husband, his brother and our sister-in-law and my husband's aunt and uncle.

White Wine Choices:
De La Montanya 2005 Felta Creek Sauvignon Blanc $11
De La Montanya 2005 Sonoma Coast Fume Blanc $16
Hop Kiln 2005 Chardonnay $16.50
Preston Vineyards 2005 Viognier $22
Roshambo 2004 Chardonnay $15
Ferrari Carano 2005 Sauvignon Blanc $15

Red Wine Choices
Hop Kiln 2004 Old Windmill Zinfandel $20
Wilson Winery 2004 Estate Zinfandel $22
Alexander Valley Vineyards 2003 Estate Sangiovese $20
Tarara 2005 Pinot Noir $22 (This is from our visiting Virginia vineyards day-trip)
Quivira 2004 Steelhead Red $15
Roshambo 2004 Merlot $10

Dessert Wines
Bella Vineyards Late Harvest Zinfandel $20
Williamsburg Winery Late Harvest Vidal $24 (Picked this up a few years back when living in the burg)
Raspberry Infusion (From somewhere in Vermont, I can't put my finger on the name of the vineyard) $?? (We picked this up last fall while at a wedding of a cousin)
Fritz Late Harvest Zinfandel $27

Korbel Blanc de Noirs $9

So we shall see what we get through and I will report back on how I liked the match. I imagine that we'll probably drink 2 bottles of white, 1 red and a dessert wine over the course of the day.

Oh, and I'll probably be imbibing all day as I'm a touch nervous to be in charge of such a big holiday meal. ;)

Weekend o' Citrus

November 18, 2006
Apparently we were destined to drink wines that showed lots of citrus flavors this weekend! I'm feeling much better today, so onward with the wine tasting.

Tonight's dinner was leftover Chinese and I thought I'd give it another shot with pairing a white wine. The choice? Another from the 6 we bought from Unwined in our quest for everyday wines, also suggested by the helpful associate. Here, a West Brook Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Screw-cap, 13% alcohol by volume and cost us $13.99. I gather it's a small family vineyard that wins many New Zealand wine awards, among others.

Grapefruit, lime, lemon. Mostly grapefruit upon sniffing it, but all kinds of citrus in the taste. Very crisp and a long, lingering finish in the mouth. Acidic. An excellent match with the Chinese. For the price, I loved it. Sadly, my husband poured himself the last glass and then said, oops, sorry honey.

VWV #2 (Visiting Virginia Vineyards)

On our recent venture to VA wine country, we also stopped at a vineyard named Hidden Brook This was our second stop of the day. I really loved the look of this vineyard. It reminds me of a log cabin or a hunting lodge. Inside, it was big and open, with a very large tasting bar. There were 2 or 3 other groups there at the same time, but it didn't feel crowded at all. We had intended on stopping here for lunch, but there were running low on their supply of cheese that day. Another time.

We purchased a few bottles here and drank one yesterday. While there, I was sad to learn that their dessert wine, which is made in an ice wine style, was sold out. Yesterday we drank a bottle of 2005 Vidal Blanc.

It smelled like pine. At first I thought it might be me, but my husband actually said it first. Pine. A touch odd for a Vidal Blanc. Honey, very sweet, maybe a hint of pear in the taste. Overall, very sweet. I think it must have a lot of residual sugar, though my huband threw out the bottle this morning before I could read the label again.

White Wine and Chinese Food

November 17, 2006
I'm not feeling at the top of my game today, so instead of breaking into an expensive bottle, we decided to continue into our stash of "quest for everyday wine" bottles. I also didn't feel like cooking so we ordered in some Chinese food from a local place we hadn't tried before. Very tasty food and we will order again (I love free delivery).

The wine was a 2005 Vinum Cellars Chard-No-Way Chenin Blanc from Wilson Vineyards. Clarksburg, CA. Another screw-cap, but thankfully easier to open than the last two. 13% alcohol by volume and cost us $11.99 at Unwined.

Holy lime Batman! I taste tons of lime and the nose of the wine on being poured knocked me back with the citrus. A very dry Chenin Blanc, with a very acidic finish. But lime all the way. Interesting choice with the Chinese, I'd probably stick with a white, but probably not this one the next time we had Chinese, the match wasn't quite right.

It was easy to drink and for $11.99 I think I'll try another bottle when I'm feeling better and maybe I'll get something other than lime, but then again, my husband agrees with me on the lime/citrusy assessment, but says he thinks he might taste a hint of green apple as well.

We made the club!

I got the best kind of surprise in the mail today. Unexpected wine!! We signed up for the De La Montanya mailing list while in the Sonoma area. Sadly, at the time, the wine club was completely full, as it is limited to 1,000 members due to the fact that De La Montanya only makes around 3,500 cases of wine a year. However, the very nice and helpful associate told us that if we put our names on the mailing list we could be on the waiting list for the club. They wouldn't actually inform us when or if we were made members, wine would just arrive at our door. And today it did and I'm very happy!

The wines at De La Montanya were my favorite that I tasted on our whole vaction. I loved everything about this winery. The grounds are gorgeous, wines are fantastic and the people were so friendly. So in addition to being very excited about being in the club and being kept in supply of these wines, I now have 6 more wonderful wines to enjoy in the near future.

Visiting Virginia Vineyards

November 16, 2006

We ventured into Northern Virginia wine country last weekend and stopped at 4 vineyards in the Leesburg area. Our third stop of the day was Lost Creek Vineyards.

We tasted 5 wines here. They were sold out of several others already, which was disappointing, I wanted to taste their Spring Time wine which I have heard good things about. Perhaps next vintage.

Lost Creek has a large tasting bar, which was great considering the crowd that arrived after us. We decided to stop for a light lunch while visiting and the staff was very accomodating. They make bread on site, so we had hot fresh bread, cheddar cheese and a summer sausage with a glass of Rose each. The staff brought us out two carving boards, napkins and a knife and delivered our bread to our little table. Very nice. We enjoyed our visit and this should be a great place to visit in the summer, the terrace looked inviting.

They charge a tasting fee, but it is refunded with a bottle purchase. We took home a bottle of the Rose and drank it tonight. I paired it with pasta and tomato sauce I made this weekend. A rose wouldn't normally be my choice for tomato sauce, but, it was chilled, so why not?

The pasta sauce actually helped this wine by giving it a bit of a tart finish. My first sip was before I ate and I smelled candied fruit. I tasted very sweet raspberries and overripe strawberries. Very very sweet. After the sauce, the finish was a little tart and was easier for me to drink. Not a bad wine, but a little too sweet for me. My husband likes it a lot.

Wine Blogging Wednesday #28

November 15, 2006
I've been reading about it for a few months and I think I will participate this month since it will be the first WBW since I started my blog. The full announcement for details is over at the Culinary Fool who is hosting this month. The theme is sparklers, so I will have to peruse my collection to find something suitable or else venture out for something new.

I think I'll try to find something under $20 since I'm sure that others are just as budget conscious as I am around the holidays.

2004 Nelson Family Cabernet Sauvignon

Paired with tonight's dinner was this 2004 Nelson Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. It is at 14.7% alcohol by volume with a cork closure. Cost: $18. We picked this bottle up when we visited Nelson Family Vineyards while on our honeymoon.

For dinner I made a parmesean, bread crumb, herb and honey dijon encrusted rack of lamb and a butternut squash soup topped with parmesean and rosemary. I figured a red would be my best bet for the lamb, but was a little unsure of what kind of a red. I didn't want to go too light on the flavor because I think of lamb as a heartier meat, but not so much so that I would go with a zinfandel. So I chose this cabernet sauvignon. I wasn't pleased with the match, so I am on the hunt for a different red for next time.

The wine itself had a lot of potential, but the food combo just didn't do anything for either the meal or the wine. When I first sniffed this wine, I got a lot of berry flavor, mostly blackberry. The first sip showed me that I probably should have decanted this wine, it had a lot of alcohol flavor. I let it sit for a while and the next taste didn't show any of the alcohol. Instead, I got the berry flavor, plus a little wood, some currant and later on, a hint of cherry. It's a very full wine for a cabernet sauvignon, but now that I'm into the second glass and it's aired out some more, I'm really enjoying the fruit flavors. They aren't overwhelming and seem well balanced with the wood and now a bit of chocolate that I'm getting. I think this would have gone well with the eye of the round roast I made the other night.

If you get a bottle of this, I would keep it around for a few years. I have written down that it would be good now until 2009 and I wish I had kept it around for a while longer.

Oh, and if you get out to Sonoma, stop by Nelson. We were the only visitors at the time and serving us wine was Chris Nelson. It was great, we stayed for quite a while, played with the vineyard dogs and tasted some really great wines, especially the Orange Muscat which is sadly sold out (we have one bottle left!). Great small family operation.

Tonight's dinner and wine!

November 13, 2006

The dinner was a lemon-herb chicken sauteed in fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil that we got at Hop Kiln Winery and I am sad to say is now an empty bottle, and fresh rosemary. Green beans and biscuits with honey (yes, Pillsbury, I can't do everything yet!).

I normally think of white when I make poultry. Though I have heard the pinot noir is excellent for turkey and I will be offering a bottle on my Thanksgiving menu (more on T-day choices later). I decided to go with my first thought and pick a white. Since it was a really light sauce on the chicken and lemony, I decided a riesling would be a fair match.

This riesling came from our search for everyday wine. It's a 2005 Matheus Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett. German if you couldn't tell. Most of what I can find about this wine online is written in German, which isn't much help to me. We paid $14.99 for this bottle, but I found it for $12.95 here

Screw-cap closure, 10.5% alcohol by volume. A nice light wine for a nice light meal. However, the screw-cap was nearly impossible to open. We had to use a knife to cut around it in order to remove it. I smelled mostly honey flavors when I poured this bottle. Tasted like honey as well, with just a slight citrus/acidic note. It paired excellently with the lemon chicken and was very tasty to finish up after dinner.

Well done to the sales people at Unwined for selecting this for us. At the price and with these flavors, which my husband really loved, it will make a regular appearance at our table. Also, the low alcohol content makes this perfect in my opinion for a weekday wine....I can enjoy it and not worry about feeling any ill-effects.

Our quest for everyday wines

We bought a lot of wine while in the Sonoma area this summer. And by a lot I mean around 200 bottles. Now, not only has the storage of such a quantity been a challenge given that we live in an apartment, but many of the bottles cost more than we like to drink as a regular weekday wine. If we actually lived in Sonoma and didn't have to ship, it might be an option to drink more of it regularly. So we are currently searrching and tasting to find more affordable options in all categories to drink with dinner most nights.

Our search led us to Unwined a local wine shop I read about on Virginia Vine Spot

We picked up 6 bottles and have tasted our way through 3 so far. The first two weren't worth mentioning, except for the point of interest that one was a Vihno Verde from Portugal. I had never seen anything like it before and had to try it. For $7.99, it was worth it just for the experience. Vihno verde literally means green wine, but this bottle was completely clear in color. I gather that it's generally a sparkling wine, but I would say it's a lot less fizzy than any other sparkling wine I've ever had. Ours was Gatao Vihno Verde. I can't say I was disappointed since I didn't know what to expect, but this was an almost flavorless, slightly fizzy (think sparkling table water), lemony gingerale type of drink. I wouldn't rush to buy it again, but might consider trying a different brand. If unique wines are your thing, give it a go for the novelty.

In the interest of not writing novels, I'll put my notes from tonight's wine in a new post.

Jumping in

November 12, 2006
Tonight we drank a bottle of 2004 Roshambo Taylor Vinyeard Zinfandel. This was our first bottle of this wine, though I think we have 2 more cellared. I suppose we probably tasted it on our actual visit to Roshambo though one cannot be so certain. We visited 26 vineyards in our 7 days in the Sonoma area. I did enjoy Roshambo while there. The atmosphere was entirely different from any other winery I have ever visited. Very modern tasting room, lots of young people, just a completely different vibe. We joined their wine club, and have received at least one, if not two, shipments from them so far.

Alright, back to the wine. I made an eye-of-the-round roast tonight with broccoli for myself and peas(yuck) for my husband and added a rice pilaf to finish out the meal. I'm still working on pairing food with wine, but thought a nice hearty red with the roast would work splendidly. And I was right! This wine is big and fruity to start, with a little peppery kick at the end. I did notice that as we worked our way through the bottle, the pepper finish was less noticeable and the fruity flavors (tastes a little like cherries to me) made an even bigger appearance. Very full flavored with lots of body, running an alcohol content of 15.4%, definetly not for a lighter meal! It probably could have stayed in our cellar for a little while longer. I will keep the other bottle hanging around. This cost us $28 minus the club discount. A great wine, but a little steep of a price tag to be an everyday wine for us. I'll enjoy taking the next bottle out of the cellar.

Voila! A new wine blog.

Welcome to my wine blog! I've recently discovered the world of wine blogs and I have much enjoyed exploring them over the past few weeks. In fact, I was so inspired that I'm finally joining the blogging world myself and adding my thoughts about wine.

As my profile says, I dream of some day owning my own vineyard. I've been saying that long before I even appreciated wine, mainly because I grew weary of folks asking me what I wanted to do when I grew up, so I came up with, what I thought at the time was an outlandish answer, being that I was 16 and had spent my whole life living in New England. Apparently, I'm "grown-up" now, yet, despite graduating college and law school, I still tell people I want to own a vineyard. So my dream has grown with me.

My love affair with wine began over a bottle of Schmitt-Sohne Riesling, vintage 2000 somewhere in the summer of 2001. Watch this because it makes me laugh: Schmitt-Sohne Commercial and it's apropo for the season. And thus my long hot summer days of drinking this lovely riesling in the blue bottle began with my 4 best friends from college. Thanks to the great fortune of one of their mothers being a wine critic, we were kept in constant supply of very excellent wines, though I doubt we were savvy enough to realize it at the time. We still drink the Schmitt-Sohne, though nothing compares to those lazy days in the summer, when we thought college could never end. For around $7 a bottle, this is just a great wine, very light and crisp with lots of fruit flavors. My father was kind enough in my college years to procure it by the case for me, clearly quite bemused by my affinity for wine, given that he is mostly a beer and whiskey type of guy.

Enough waxing poetic about the good old days when my dad supplied my alcohol. Let's fast forward to now. I am recently married and I was lucky enough to meet my now husband before his own taste in libations was developed. Thus, he too is an avid wine-drinker. In fact, we spent the better part of our honeymoon in the Russian River Valley (probably not a great idea given what we spent while we were there,) but c'est la vie, we will be in plenty of good wine for a while to come.

I hope to use this blog to chronicle our wine tasting adventures and development of our knowledge. We drink 5-7 bottles a week, so I believe I will have plenty to write about. Bear with me, I'm learning and I won't pick out tar, dirt or other such descriptors for what I am tasting, but I will give my honest opinion about whether or not I like something and why.

And in a tribute to my Irish heritage, Slainte!