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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.