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On the Mend

February 28, 2007
I'm finally feeling well enough to sit up and focus long enough to write up a post. I think I've had the plague. It's been a super fun week, given the I've only been at my job for 5 months so I had all of 3 sick days to use to get over whatver this was...

Anyway, back to the wine. The other night (don't really remember when) we drank this bottle of 2005 Terlato Pinto Grigio. I'm assuming we picked this up last summer though to be honest I have no recollection of visiting the vineyard and it's the only bottle in our collection, so I'm stumped. There was only one other vineyard where we bought but one bottle and that was due to the fact that the least expensive bottle there was $39...a little out of our everyday price range!

So this bottle. Cost us $22, is 13.6% alcohol by volume and had a screwcap closure. On the nose this bottle was very aromaic, showing a melon and white flowers. In the mouth there was more melon and a bit of spice. The wine actually surprised me in the mouth, as it was heavier than I expected from the nose and actually had a touch of an oily feel to it. Overall, a well done Pinot Grigio. I served this with Chinese take-out, which consisted of Seshwan Beef, Spicy Shrimp and Sweet and Sour Chicken. It was a pretty good match for the meal, with the melon giving a good balance to the spicy food. I also wrote down that I'd like to drink this on the porch in the summer.

Tasting with Best Cellars

February 23, 2007
I seem to have picked up a bug yesterday and am currently in my pjs on my couch, sitting up for the first time today and eating some ice chips...yum, ice chips. Basically, it means I had no wine last night (or really nothing at all, yum, ice chips....) and I will not be imbibing tonight either. Instead, I have a report on a tasting we attended a few weeks ago (part of my backlog of posts) with Best Cellars in Dupont Circle. It was organized by my college's alumni club and cost us $30 for the evening for lots of yummy appetizers and 6 wines. A little pricey, but all the profit goes to the scholarship fund, so at least it's a good cause.

We were presented with 3 white, 2 reds and a port to taste. It was done very nicely, with a new glass for each wine, the server explaining all the wines and asnwering questions that the participants had.

First up was a Botter "Spago' Prosecco from Veneto, Italy. The bottle cost $11, is 11% alcohol by volume and is non-vintage. On the nose, it was sweet and fruity with a distinct scent of almond paste, plus a little honey. In the mouth it was very slightly fizzy, light and slightly slight, but with a nice crisp note to keep it in line. In the taste I got fizzy peaches and apricots. A good value.

Second was a 2005 Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc from Napa. The bottle cost $15, is 13.5% alcohol by volume and has a screwcap closure. On the nose, this one showed grassy herbs and a tiny bit of apple. I was surprised when I sipped it and got a large amount of pear in the mouth, with a bit of apple and finishing with big grapefruit. Overall, this one had a very good structure and acidity. It's exactly what I wanted with my crab the other night when I got an oaked sauvignon blanc instead.

Third up was a Crisol Torrontes from Mendoza, Argentina. The bottle cost $9. This wine showed honey, sharp white flowers (I'm not really sure what I meant by that) and passion fruit on the nose. In the mouth, there was a slightly sour note, but the rest of the flavor was all crisp green apples. At $9 this was a great value, I would definitely get it again.

Next we moved to the reds. First up was a 2005 Tortoise Creek Pinot Noir from Pays d'Oc, France (I didn't get a chance to look at this bottle, but I was under the impression that the French didn't name their wines by the I totally wrong?). This one was $12, was 13% alcohol by volume and had a screwcap. An odd fact about this one is that it is stainless steel fermented. The wine was ruby red in the glass, with a nose of raisins and black currants. In the mouth, I got more of the currants, plus a little earth. This one was a bit mouth drying, though smooth until the end and showing some cherries. My overall impression was "eh."

Second for the reds was a 2006 Altos las Hormigas Malbec Reserva, again from Mendoza, Argentina. This one cost $13 and was 14.3% alcohol by volume. I got alcohol and plastic on the nose of this one, with a little spice. After that cleared, I got raspberries, cedar and black currants. In the mouth, some currants, and not much else. This was my least favorite of the evening.

Finally, we had a Ramos Pinto Tawny Port from Douro Valley, Portugal. This wine cost $15 and is 19.5% alcohol by volume. This wine smelled sweet and had alcohol on the nose. I also got some dark fruit on the nose. In the mouth, this was really full of alcohol, but I also managed to discern dried raisins, dried currants and dark fruits. Overall I thought it tasted like Robitussin cough syrup. But I'll admit I'm not a big port drinker, so I don't really know what makes a good port.

Altogether, a very nice evening and I'm glad we attended. I also really enjoyed some of the whites and the price was right for everyday wines. When I am in need again I will be seeking out the 2 whites I really liked, as I thought they were very good values.

To protect the Innocent

February 22, 2007
Or not so innocent as the case shall be, I will not be naming names or wines in this post. Merely, a few thoughts on when I realized that I have become, for all intents and purposes, a full fledged wine snob. Well, perhaps not a snob, because I wouldn't laud knowledge or wine above anyone else. And I would never actually tell someone that what I was thinking in my head while watching them guzzle a crappy wine as they extolled its virtues was: OMG PUT THAT DOWN IT'S DISTGUSTING. But a snob nonetheless. And I realize that at one point in my life, when I was a broke college student and didn't know that better wine was out there nor could I afford it or get my hands on it, I drank these wines. They were there. They were cheap. It was college, we weren't really on the hunt for that great bottle of wine so much as a hunt for a state of cheap inebriation to deal with the freezing cold winters of New Hampshire.

I have absolutely nothing against inexpensive wines. In fact, I routinely am on a hunt for really good inexpensive wines and avidly read Good Wine Under $20 and Quaffability in search of more worthwhile inexpensive regions, varietels and bottles to try. However, I cannot drink cheap wine. It's just plain awful. I am differentiating cheap from inexpensive here folks. Cheap to me is the wine made in vats bigger than my house, filled with chips of oak or other flavor "enhancers" the comes out of the bottle with what can only be described as the smell of chemical waste.

Thus, it entered my mind as I had to develop a blank stare and nod my head when a friend started talking about how the zinfandel from this giant bottle of wine on the counter was the best wine that I am a wine snob. Plain and simple. That's not good zinfandel. I'll show you good zinfandel. I have a bedroom closet full of it. I just can't bring myself to go back to drinking that stuff. It had a time and a place in my life, but that time and place is over and has been for a while (pretty much the day I turned 21).


February 21, 2007
I wonder if the wine writer over at the Washington Post reads wine blogs? An article appeared this week in the Food and Dining section of the Post about biodynamically produced wine. Considering we recently had WBW 29 which featured biodynamically produced wine, you just have to wonder. The article echoes many of the questions and concerns posed by all the wine bloggers when reveiwing the wines tasted for WBW. It also has a hefty dose of skepticism mixed in with its information, also a theme I noticed in that particular WBW. Who knows.

Back on Track

February 20, 2007
I've been off visiting the fam in CT for the past few days, so I apologize for my lack of posting! The dial-up there is not so conducive to even using the internet, let alone doing anything else on it.

On Thursday (see, I told you I had a backlog of posts!) we went out to dinner at one of our local favorites, the Lebanese Taverna. My Dad was in town to do our housing inspection (which went very well, nothing major is wrong, we are proceeding to closing, yay!) and he loves the food there, but my Mom won't eat it, so we always go when it's just him visiting.

The Taverna actually has a really interesting and fairly diverse wine menu, including many selections from Lebanon. We've tried several of those in the past and have always liked them. However, my eye was drawn to a bottle of Pinot Blanc from Alsace, because I was thinking of the WBW hosted by Fork and Bottle a few months back where I had a biodynamic bottle of Pinot D'Alsace, which was a different blend, but had Pinot Blanc in it. Back then, I had wanted to find the same varietal from the same location and taste them side-by-side, but couldn't turn up a non-biodynamic one fast enough.

When I saw the bottle of Pierre Sparr 2004 Reserve Pinot Blanc, I had to get it. The basics: restaurant priced at $31, though I see you can find it here for $11.99, it's 12.5% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure.

On the nose of this bottle I got lots of green apples. It was very floral and aromatic, a very good nose. In the mouth, I found minerals, more green apples and just a slight citrus quality. The finish was quite long, with the crips flavors lingering in the mouth. Overall, this was a very good wine and a great choice for dinner. We all had some variation of beef and lamb shwarma, which had a bit of a spicy kick to it, and the wine lent itself nicely to flavors.

In terms of comparing this bottle to my WBW bottle, I don't think that after drinking them, the comparison is fair, and I'm not sure I will every get a fair comparision, since the blend I drank for WBW only had 30% Pinot Blanc grapes in it, and though I can't find information on what grapes other than Pinot Blanc (if any) were used in this bottle, I'm fairly certain it was a higher percentage than 30% Pinot Blanc. Oh well, just an excuse to keep trying other ones!

Celebrating V-Day

February 16, 2007
We're not really Valentine's Day people. As evidenced by the fact that when someone asked me what we were doing that evening I gave them a blank stare because I had no idea why they thought we would be doing anything.

We spent our first married V-day at home, eating leftover Zuppa Toscano. We celebrated by popping open one of our more expensive (to us!) bottles of wine and it was well worth it!

The bottle was a 2003 Dutcher Crossing Taylor Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. It cost us $39 at the vineyard and had a real cork closure.

On the nose there were strawberries, then blackberries and then a spice, which I think was ginger. After a little while just a hint of vanilla showed. Several hours later, a big scent of black currants showed through.

In the mouth on my first glass I got earth, black currants and other dark fruits. A tiny hint of oak showed through, but overall, this wine was full of deep, dark flavors (can I describe a wine that way?). Then, wow, after a few hours, I tasted the oddest thing, but it's really good, despite how disgusting this will sound....chocolate leather! Yum!

The wine could definitely age for a while, though it's drinking beautifully now. An excellent choice to share on this first Valentine's Day as married folks, since we didn't do anything else to celebrate, at least we had good wine!

Drink it now!

February 15, 2007
We had a bottle of 2005 David Coffaro Pinot Noir to drink tonight. It cost us $25 at David Coffaro and had a screw-cap closure which was nearly impossible to open. I paired it with garlic herb chicken, mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.

Currants, spice and a hint of vanilla on the nose. In the mouth, cherries. And just a bit of spice. It's incredibly smooth. There isn't a hint of a tannin or any bite in this wine. I would suggest drinking it now or fairly soon. It didn't need to be decanted at all, except for the fact that there is quite a bit of sediment since this is an unfiltered wine.

After an hour, I got raspberries on the nose and in the mouth. What I found odd about this wine was that it looked like a much older Pinot Noir, the color was darker and less ruby than most young Pinot Noirs. Overall, this was a delicious wine and quite a value for $25! Perhaps the layering of flavors that appears actually suggests that it could be aged longer. However, I must say, it taste pretty darn good the way it is.

Then there were 6

February 14, 2007
Matt cancelled two more wine clubs last night. Which leaves us with six still going strong. However, I have spoken with most of them and reduced our shipments to only once or twice a year, which makes the shipping infinitely more affordable and reasonable for us. So that puts us at an average of $150 a month over 12 months for shipments of wine. Much better than the $400 we had been averaging for the last 6 months! It's only going to be about 68 bottles of wine a year now, instead of closer to 140. Not to mention what I had been spending on everyday wine from various wine shops around here. Ah, the cost of being a wine lover. Where's that winning lottery ticket when I need it? Or perhaps the job that's willing to pay me to drink wine? Or just pay me a lot more money than a government minion makes! Hmm, what should I drink in the meantime? We're working our way through our stash at a fairly alarming rate.

I'm going Bananas!

The other night we drank a bottle of 2005 un-oaked Hop Kiln Chardonnay. It cost us $16, is 14.5% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure. I paired it with some leftover Zuppa Toscano, just trying to get a feel for what goes well with it. This did not go well at all.

The wine smells like bananas and tropical fruits.
There are some tropical fruits in the mouth, but not nearly what I would expect based on the nose. At the end, just a tiny bit of peach could be detected. But overall, kind of flat. I wasn't impressed with the flavor of this wine. The taste is a little off for a Chardonnay, even for an un-oaked Chardonnay, which I usually like a lot. I can't really put a finger on what's off, exactly, but it just didn't work for me. Ordinarily, I would say it's the banana scent that put me off, since I can't stand bananas, but Matt also commented that he didn't really care for this bottle.

I've had a string recently of wines I've not been pleased with. Perhaps I need to take a drinking break for a few days.....well, that would just be punishing myself though! Thankfully, the bottle we drank last night was excellent and I can't wait to review it!

Hanna 2005 Pinot Noir

February 13, 2007
I know this wine exists. I drank it and I have a picture of it. However, I can find absolutely no mention of it on their website. Very odd. In anycase, it came in a club shipment, cost us $25ish, runs 14.6% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure.

I thought this wine showed a lot of potential. I think perhaps we drank it a little too young, but what with serving Roz's Zuppa Toscana again, I wanted a Pinot Noir since it seemed to work so well last time I paired the two. A few hours in the glass and this was a very tasty wine.

In the glass, it was a beautiful ruby red color. You can't tell from the picture because, well, I kind of suck as a photographer, plus my life pile on the table is starting to really cramp my photographs!

On the nose I found cherries, raspberries and spices. In the mouth, after a few hours, it was quite smooth and showed raspberries, more spices and some cedar characteristics. Overall, a good wine that just needs some time to come into its own.

WBW #31 Announced

This month's theme is Box Wines and Non Traditional Packaging and is being hosted over on Box Wines. Box Wine Guy has a nice write-up about box wines and other packages that are acceptable.

Now, I have to admit, the thought of box wine brings back horribly horribly painful memories of playing "Never Have I Ever" with my girlfriends in college and drinking some fine Dr. Franz. Though I have to say, the Dr. Franz was a welcome departure from the usual "Fire and Ice" shots that accompanied that game. And I can't say that I've ever had, nor have I ever looked for a box of wine outside of that capacity.

So I guess this month will find me out beating the bushes for a box of wine that doesn't taste like sweet, burnt rubber. (You think I'm joking, come on, fess up, you've had a box of Dr. Franz on occassion.) Hopefully my grocery store will carry something, I can say with about 99% certainty that my local wine shops do not carry boxed wine!

Get your entry in by March 14. Happy box wine hunting!

More bubbles!

February 12, 2007
We are still celebrating. And probably will be for a while, and then again when we close and move in to our new house. I love even saying it, yay, a house!! And then celebrating some more in May when through an enormous housewarming party. Any readers/winebloggers in the area who want to come celebrate? I don't think we'll be serving Cristal, but it will fun!

Anyway, we celebrated a bit more on Saturday and had a another bottle of Korbel, this time a Moscato Frizzante. This bottle is only available in the tasting room and through the Korbel wine club, and I think it cost us around $15. I know it was Matt's favorite wine of our tasting.

In aroma and flavor, this was much like a Moscato d'Asti. On the nose it was floral and sweet. In the mouth, there were pears, apples and peaches. It's a sweet bubbly, one I will like to consume on our new patio come summertime! The wine in the glass displayed a tiny little bead, itty bitty bubbles that carried over into the mouth. While sweet, the structure of this wine is very well done and it would make an excellent apertif.

I know it's not fancy

February 11, 2007
However, I think that this is a decent bottle of sparkling wine for the price. I understand that Korbel gets the brush off from many wine lovers, and that's fine, but I've never been a fashionable person myself, so when I'm looking for a bottle of sparkling wine that is very inexpensive and I know will deliver a reliable flavor, this is what I go for. Since we are celebrating our house and our "champagne" tastes are going to have to shrink in cost from the Roederer we love, we had a bottle of this Korbel Blanc de Noir. We picked this bottle up for around $8 at Korbel Cellars last summer.

In the glass, the color is of toasted almonds. It has a tiny bead and lots of them, I'm not sure my photography skills are quite good enough to pick them up. When I poured it at first there was a lot of foam in the glass.

On the nose, there were peaches and a slight yeasty quality. In the mouth, dry strawberries and rapsberries. It's a crisp sparkler with good bubbles on the palate. Overall, it's quick and easy and consistent in flavor and what you expect of it. Simple and fun, and does not disappoint for the price.

We bought a house!

Sorry, this has nothing to do with wine, but does explain my slower than normal posting and my lack of timely responses to everyone's comments. We are incredibly excited to have our own place and to be homeowners! We close April 30th and will be moving in over the month of May. So I expect that I will be back to normal with posting and responses for the next 2 months and then things will be a little hectic again. Not that I don't have things to post, I think I have a backlog of about 8 posts at this point!!!

What was wrong with my wine?

February 10, 2007
So the Sauvignon Blanc from Steenberg was not the only bottle we tried to drink the other night. I also opened a bottle of 2005 Ferrari-Carano Sauvignon Blanc. This one came in a club shipment this fall. It was $15.60, had a cork closure and was 14.2% alcohol by volume. I am absolutely convinced we had a bad bottle.

The notes on the bottle read: Clean, crisp and vibrant, this wine was made from a unique grape clone of the Sauvignon Blanc family called Sauvignon Musque. Nicely balanced, this wine displays an intense floral aroma with hints of citrus and fruit flavors. Bone dry with lively acidity, this very limited special wine underwent extremely cold fermentation to retain its varietal characteristics. Perfect with delicate dishes or as an apertif.

I will give it this much: it certainly had an intense aroma. Such an intense aroma that I kind of wanted to gag. It was a muskily sweet aroma. I would call it rotten oranges or peaches with a little applesauce thrown in. I have to admit it was hard to get it past my nose to actually taste the wine. Matt only made it through one sip before declaring it undrinkable. I got about halfway through my glass before I too had to admit defeat. In the mouth it was flat. It really tasted like slightly sweet juice, but of no distinct flavor. The color was also off. Matt poured it down the drain before I could take a picture, but the wine was a very dark yellow color in the bottle and glass. It was eventually the aroma that did me in, it was so hard to get past it. Not to mention the flat and lifeless taste in the mouth.

Holy Grapefruit Batman!

February 9, 2007
Last night we opened the last bottle from my most recent quest for everyday wine at the Curious Grape. This was a 2006 Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc. I picked it up for $10.99, it's 12.5% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure.

My kind of Sauvignon Blanc! Big ol' grapefruit and nothing much else, but that's okay with me. I love the crisp citrus flavors of this style of Sauvignon Blanc. The grapefruit was all over the nose and in the mouth of this wine.

I served this with ham, cheese and pineapple omlettes last night. It was actually a really good match. Although this wine was fairly simple, it was a great and inexpensive everyday wine and I'd definitely get it again.

I Love Zinfandel

February 8, 2007

Really, I do. I think I would have been in paradise if I could have attended the ZAP event that was held recently. I love the big fruit, the subdued fruit, the juicy, the jammy, the spices, basically everything about it. I even love the way it stains my lips. Well, I could go on and on and on about how much I love the wine made from this grape, but I think we've just about covered enough of it for the moment.

We are also apparently on a Fritz kick this week, what with the Syrah for WBW and this bottle of 2005 Fritz Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel last night. Now, I know you are possibly (if you read my blog frequently) thinking, hey didn't she review this just the other day? Well, I did, but I promise this bottle is actually different. It doesn't have a little red banner in the corner indicating that it is a reserve or estate bottle or whatever it says, I can't remember.

14.2% alcohol by volume, real cork closure and cost us $20ish in a club shipment. On the nose were blackberries, raspberries and pepper. In the mouth, there were crisp raspberries. I wouldn't describe this as either juicy or jammy, but more on the tart side, like a raspberry that makes you pucker a little, but not in a bad way at all. The taste of this one lingered for a long while after swallowing.

I think it could age just a little bit more, but I would say only up to a year. It's almost perfect to drink now, just a little heat from alcohol that showed on the end in the first hour. This could easily be solved by decanting or just letting the bottle sit open for an hour or so before serving. After an hour in my glass, this was smooth, easy to drink, with no heat from the alcohol.

I served this with grilled filet mignon with a currant and (this Zin) wine sauce over a bed of cheese risotto. Though this time I just threw in whatever cheese I had hanging around which happened to be extra sharp cheddar and fresh parmesean. Matt proclaimed it the best risotto yet. I give all the credit to the Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar. If you have never had Cabot cheese you are missing out, big time. Best. Stuff. Ever. I was so excited a few weeks ago when the Cabot people were in my grocery store to celebrate the store starting to carry their cheese. I talked with the rep for a while and got a cow magnet and a Cabot t-shirt. I lived on Cabot cheese in college. I guess it's a Northern East Coast thing. Clearly we've hit on two of my favorite topics tonight: Zinfandel and Cabot Cheese. Make macaroni and cheese with a block of the Seriously Sharp. It will be the best tasting mac and cheese you've ever had. Okay, I'll shut up about the cheese now, this is a wine blog after all.

American Wine Blog Awards

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the biggest thing going on in the wine blogging world at the moment. Tom Wark over at Fermentation has designed, orchestrated and is hosting the first ever American Wine Blog Awards. During the nomination period, anyone could nominate up to three wine blogs in each of seven categories with the caveat that the blog produced a certain number of posts in the year 2006 and was written in English (the American part was not an indication of where a blog had to be from). I nominated many of my favorites for the various categories during the nominations and there were a ton of great blogs that were mentioned.

Now, the finalists in each category have been announced, selected from a panel of very distinguished judges, ranging from editors of wine publications to winery executives. So it's time for wine blog readers to pick the winners! You can vote for one blog in each category, one time. In order to get to the voting, click on the link in Tom's post announcing the finalists. American Wine Blog Awards Finalists Announced.

Many of my favorites (and some of the ones I nominated!) made it to the finals.

I encourage you to check out these blogs in particular:

Best Single Subject

Best Winery Blog

Best Wine Blog Graphics
Wine Waves
Vivi's Wine Journal

Best Wine Reviewing Blog
Wine Waves

Best Wine Blog Writing

Best Overall Wine Blog
Dr. Vino

Go vote!

WBW #30 New World Syrah

February 7, 2007
For this WBW, Tim of Winecast is our host and he requested that we choose a New World Syrah (or Shiraz, same thing!) to review this week. So that leaves a lot of the world to choose from...Australia, North American, South America, etc. My choice was made easy by two factors. One, I have a ton of California Syrahs hanging around and two, I'm trying to limit my purchases of wine. Thus, a California Syrah for me!

The wine I chose was a 2004 Fritz Alexander Valley Syrah. This came in our last shipment from Fritz and cost us around $21. It is 14.2% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I got roasted meat and tons of dark fruit, plus an earthy quality and a hint of violets. In the mouth it transformed to pepper and spice with cherries and a leather taste.

I believe that there is at least one other bottle of this Syrah in our collection. I will leave it on the shelf as I think this has great potential to age for several years. There were enough dry tannins in the mouth to hold this one together and I really believe the dark blackberries will come out more, along with the violet which appeared after several hours in my glass (I usually end up drinking about a glass and a half out of a bottle since I like to watch it develop and by the time I get ready for my second glass there isn't much left in the bottle!). The berries really made their appearance as my glass sat out. If you are going to drink it now, I would suggest decanting or at least letting your glass sit out for an hour or so.

2005 Milton Park Chardonnay

February 6, 2007
Sunday night we drank this bottle of 2005 Milton Park Chardonnay from South Australia. We actually went to a Superbowl party but peaced out at half-time mainly cause I was having an allergic reaction to the place we were. By the time we got home I was all better and we decided to watch the rest of the game and drink a bottle of wine. I picked this bottle up for $8.99 at the Curious Grape. It had a screw cap and is 13.5% alcohol by volume.

On the nose of this botttle I found an herbal scent with wafts of vanilla coming out of the glass plus oak and just teensy bit of butter.

In the mouth, there were spices, a little lemon and a bit of peach. It had a fairly long finish. Overall, a very drinkable everyday wine, especially for the price!

Picks and Pans

February 5, 2007
At the risk of stating the overly obvious, I drink quite a bit of wine. Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing, because I love wine, it completes a meal in my opinion and it's something I really want to learn about and the best way to do so, as far a I am concerned, is to taste a whole bunch of it. Which I do, on a regular basis.

Now, it seems pretty clear to me that the odds of me liking every bottle of wine I drink are slim to none. And here come(s) my question(s) do you feel about reading a bad or a so-so review? Is it worth it for me to take the time to write a review of a wine I'm not so thrilled by or am I better off just not bothering and sticking only to the bottles I really like?

Up to this point, I've pretty much reviewed everything I have tasted, the good, the bad and the ugly. I try to couch my opinion by not screaming from the rooftops that something was the worst bottle of wine I've ever tasted (well really, nothing I've had recently comes even close to the worst wine I've ever tasted). I also try to look really hard for something I like about the wine.

Thoughts? I also feel a tad guilty posting a poor review. I know (or at least I hope) someone worked to make a product they felt was worthy of the market. And maybe it's just me who doesn't like it. How do you handle reviews of wines that just didn't work for you?

Is it Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc?

February 4, 2007
Last night we were pretending it was summer again, with snow crab legs as our main dish and homemade bruschetta as an appetizer. Plus, snow crab leg clusters were on slae for only $4.99 a pound yesterday at the store. Too good a deal to pass up!

Per my usual, I picked a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to go with the crab legs. I almost always think the crisp fruits in a Sauvignon Blanc are an excellent match to the light crab.

Last night was a bottle of 2005 Dutcher Crossing Sauvignon Blanc. I have to admit we bought this bottle without tasting it first because they weren't pouring it and we usually really like sauvignon blanc. I can't remember what it cost, but it is 13.9% alcohol by volume and had a cork closure.

This bottle is a blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc grapes, 10% Semillon grapes, 8% Viognier grapes and 2% Rousanne grapes. The Sauvignon Blanc grapes were fermented in French Barrels. So color me confused. With both the oak fermentation and the blending in of the Semillon grapes, I really thought I was drinking a bottle of Chardonnay. If you had put it blindly in front of me, I would have instantly said it was a Chardonnay. It had a nose of oak and butter. In the mouth it was fairly oaky, so much so that the other flavors had trouble showing through. When they did, I got a little grass and some subdued lemon. It was a very good Chardonnay. But I want my Sauvignon Blanc to taste like Sauvignon Blanc. This one felt like it was trying to be a Chardonnay.

Drinking with the Guys

February 3, 2007
We had plans last night to go out with one of Matt's new coworkers and the coworker's girlfriend, but the girlfriend wasn't feeling so well, so there was a last minute change of events. Instead we ended up out with around 10 of Matt's coworkers and me. All of his coworkers are men, and they (including Matt) were drinking Budweiser by the pitcher like it was going out of style. Now, you'll be hard pressed to get me to drink a beer to begin with, but if they had gone with the Blue Moon which the bar also had on tap, I might have been tempted. But Bud, no thanks, I'll pass.

Which puts me in a precarious position....I don't really drink hard alcohol and the wine lists at bars are usually extrodinarily underwhelming. So color me surprised when I took a look at the menu and found an albeit short, but really well thought out and pretty exciting wine list! Last night found us at Hamilton's Bar and Grill, which doesn't appear to have a webpage beyond it's myspace page.

I really liked the place. It's a little out of the way on Constitution and 2nd, right by the Department of Labor, but I thought it worth the trip. The atmosphere was kind of college bar meets Capitol Hill (though I suppose that can be said for many places in this neck of the woods) with plenty of TVs, a hug bar, lots of cozy booths and pretty cool bartenders. Our bartender was attempting to kill the keg of Bud and kept giving the guys free pitchers (he really wanted to get the keg of Magic Hat tapped).

So the food and wine. I first chose a glass of Grove Mill Riesling. It was okay, but I was in the mood for something a little more fruity. This glass tasted really reserved and was a bit too cold at first (and, that, coming from me, is saying a lot, as I love my wine fairly chilly). I also thought that perhaps it was a bottle that was a couple days old. So from there I moved on to a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from Chile!! And that's where I stayed for the rest of the night. I wish I had my pen with me so I would have written down the name, but it was delicious and perfect with the creamy and tasty crab and artichoke dip I had ordered. It had bracing acidity, goseberries, hints of citrus and a great structure. I will go back to this place just to find out what it was. Overall, the wine list had about 10 wines on it, a great mix of varietals and locations (seriously, I was shocked to find a sauvignon blanc in a bar (it's usually an oaky chardonnay or a flabby pinot grigio) and flabbergasted when I found out it was from Chile!). All glass were $6.25 and on Wednesdays they have half-price wine night.

My crab dip was excellent. Really creamy with great parmesean flavors to complement the crab and artichoke, plus really generous on the amount of crab in the dip (and a huge portion overall). It was served with hot toasted pita triangles which made great scoopers. Matt had a cheeseburger, which he gobbled down (so I can only assume it was good) with fries (which were great, nice and crisp and salty). Great prices, good wine list and excellent grub. I recommend it.

Wasting Away Again in Margaritaville

February 2, 2007
Well, no not really. Jose and I are not friends, so I don't actually drink margaritas. However, the flavors and aromas I got from this bottle of wine inspired me to start singing (which trust me, no one actually wants to hear, it's bad enough my poor husband has to put up with it!).

The bottle was a 2005 Chateau de Chasseloir Muscadet Sevre Et Maine Sur Lie. I picked this on up at the Curious Grape yesterday while browsing the shelves. The wine cost $10.99, had a cork closure and was 12% alcohol by volume. I didn't pair it with anything, just used it as a sipping wine.

The juice in my glass was really aromatic. I also picked up some grapefruit on the nose. In the mouth, this wine displayed layers of minerals, then limes. And finally, oddly enough, and the key to my singing was that it was salty in the finish. I can honestly say I've never tasted salt in a glass of wine before.

So margaritas in a wine glass, it worked for me! I'd get the bottle again, good price and really an interesting wine.

Alois Lageder 2005 Pinot Bianco

After falling off my quest for everyday wine, yesterday found me back at the Curious Grape, mainly to get a present for a friend, but also to pick up a few bottles for us (really, can any of you walk in the wine store to get one thing for a friend and not get at least a bottle for yourself??).

Last night we had this bottle of 2005 Pinot Bianco from Alois Lageder. It hails from the Alto Adige area of Italy, is 12.5% alcohol by volume, cost $10.99 and had a real cork closure. I paired it with the last of the Zuppa Toscana, not the best pair, but eh, I really wanted a white one last night.

On the nose I found minerals and just a hint of apple, with prehaps the tiniest bit of grass showing through. In the mouth there were sweet apples and white grapes. The finish just keeps going, easily for a minute or more, the taste just lasts and lasts. The wine was smooth and full in the mouth and very easy to drink. I think this one was an excellent value for money.

Dinner at David Greggory

February 1, 2007
Matt and I stuck around after the wine club gtg because it was late and we hadn't eaten yet. Also, it would have taken us a while to get home and actually cook something, plus I was feeling lazy. So dinner at David Greggory it was. Matt had the braised lamb shank over mashed potatoes and I had the cheese tortellini in a red cream sauce with Italian ham. Yum, I finished up the leftovers for lunch today and my whole office was jealous of my excellent smelling meal. We also tried one of the desserts, an excellent S'more in Greek's Clothing, which was a gooey, chocolately concoction all wrapped up in phyllo dough. Quite decadent. The service was excellent and the food was well prepared. We both enjoyed our meals quite a bit.

We also ordered a bottle of wine. Not the best call I've ever made, since I had to be to work at 6am, but eh, I can't say it was the worst idea I've ever had. I was a bit dissapointed in the wine menu, I have to say. Apparently they are in the midst of switching out their wine list, and are just selling down what they have left rather than restocking. But they haven't made any notations of what is there or not. So I attempted to follow the advice of the readers who have suggested I explore some European regions. I first ordered a 2003 Dr. Wagner Ockfener Bocksteint Kabinett Riesling for $34. No dice, the were sold out. When the server came back to tell me, I went for a 2002 Zellenberg Marc Tempe Pinot Blanc for $35. Again, sold out. Finally, I decided to follow Barrld of Barreled's advice and explore a bit more into New Zealand for a Sauvignon Blanc.

Apparently I'm Goldilocks (sort of fitting with my shiny new haircolor) because the third bottle was just right. I ordered a 2005 Seresin Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough for $38. It was 13.5% alcohol by volume and had a screw-cap closure. This was an incredibly light and and crisp wine, with a great light citrus flavor. I found gooseberries (yes, I finally got around to learning what they smelled like), lime, grass and hay in the nose. The citrus stood out in the mouth more than anything else, along with mineral traces. It had a nice, long finish and matched really well with out diverse dinners. I found it online for $19 and change.

Tuesday Wine Down Review

As previously mentioned, we joined Leah of DC Gastronome (too cute with her food journal open the whole time!) at David Greggory for the Happy hour meeting of the DC/NOVA Meetup Wine Club. All in all, a good time was had. A good number of people showed up (I would say around 20 over the course of the evening!) and it was great to meet new people, which I find is hard to do when you move to a new place and 95% of the people at your new job are at significantly different life stages than you are.

Overall, the restaurant was crowded! It was hard to get enough seats for everyone at the bar, and the bar is a good size. The servers were also a little frantic, they seemed to only have one bartender for their biggest happy hour of the week.....

The wine specials for the evening, at $4.75 a glass were a Spanish Grenache, a Cava and a Chardonnay. I don't think anyone had the Chardonnay. I had the Grenache and the Cava. Nice selections, I was particulary impressed with the Cava, it had great bubbles, a scent of yeast, and was crisp and light with apple and pear flavors. The Grenache was a little less exciting, though definitely drinkable. It had little on the nose, but the mouth was nice and fruity and it went down easily.

Several options existed for appetizer specials and the group seemed to try all of them over the course of the evening. I didn't have any (not my best call ever), since Matt wanted the deviled eggs (NMS), but he said they were delicious. He got 3 deviled eggs filled with different centers for $5.00. Not so bad. I also saw they had some mini-pizzas and wings. Everything looked good, and came out of the kitchen quickly.

We stayed for dinner and a bottle of wine after the happy hour slowed down a bit. I'll review that later!