Today’s Wine Review

Today is Labor Day, a day honoring the American Labor Movement, and most Monday through Friday workers get it off. Mitch doesn’t and I do so we’re a split household. This usually means that while I don’t have to go to my real job that pays the rent, I get the dubious pleasure of doing manual labor, either yard work or a DIY project that is always ongoing around here. The current project is replacing one of the existing retaining walls with huge boulders and ornamental grasses. Hard labor intensive work using a crowbar and mason’s hammer to knock out the top rows of the existing retaining wall so that the boulders can camouflage the failing wall behind them. Believe me I sweated out about ten pounds of sweat and have the tight shoulders and lower back to prove it.

This morning started off with thunder storms and day stayed overcast and cloudy, so for dinner I decided to make Chicken Fajitas, complete with guacamole and sour cream. Yes I know that Margaritas and/or beer would be a better pairing, but I didn’t have any tequila on hand and I don’t drink beer. So I opted for an Italian Moscato instead and I might add that it very well with the hot spicy chicken and pepper mix. It was a nice light sweet wine that when paired with the chicken fajitas softened the heat of the jalapenos and the hot spicy mixture reduced the sweet nectar of the wine to a soft smooth liquid that slid down the throat leaving a soft taste of orange blossoms.

The Moscato was Italian from Ecco Domani 2011, with 8.5% alcohol and cost less than $15. All by itself, it tastes like tropical fruit and orange blossoms and is very drinkable, especially on a hot humid day. Normally a bottle of wine usually makes it to two days here, but not today, the whole bottle was gone in one sitting. My only regret was that I only had the one bottle on hand. An oversight I plan on correcting on my next wine run.

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Today’s Wine Review

Occasionally we switch it up with our best friends and we go over there for dinner and wine. G makes a mean steak, marinated in his secret sauce and always cooked to perfect, rare of course. He also made bruschetta with roasted tomatoes from his garden. Oh my god these were so good, I could have eaten the whole pan all by myself. But at the last minute I remembered my manners and forced myself to not be a glutton. He roasted ears of corn in their husks on the grill which gave me the opportunity to try something I saw on Facebook on how to de-husk corn on the cob effortlessly.

After the corn is cooked, you take it off the grill and place the ear on a cutting board and with a sharp knife, cut the base of the ear of corn off. Then pull the ends of the husks slightly away from the corn. Grab the tip of the husk at the opposite end of the corn and pull off. The husks and almost all of the silk come cleanly off the cob. So simple and easy I wish I would have known this a long time ago.

The first bottle of wine we had to go with the bruschetta was a New Zealand Pinot Noir called ARA Single Estate from Marlborough, 2009. You can find them at http://www.arawines.co.nz. It had a light fruit nose, dry and soft, with a medium finish. It was very drinkable. Needless to say, the bottle didn’t last long.

To go with the steaks for dinner we had a bottle of Louis M. Martini, a California Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012. Their website is http://www.louismartini.com. This was a super smooth buttery tasting wine. It smelled of soft fruit without the high alcohol smell of some Cabernets. It had a full finish that filled my mouth with a wonderful softness and went down with no burn or bite at all. I will definitely add this one to my must buy list.

Steaks on the grill, bruschetta made with tomatoes from the garden, great wine and better friends, you can’t ask for much more than that.

Today’s Wine Review

We have had a very pleasant summer so far, not the usual blast furnace complete with humidity in triple digits. This means that we have been able to drink a lot more red wines and not just chilled whites or rosés. Don’t get me wrong, I love white wines and rosés, but steak goes much better with red wine and with the summer heat we grill out most every night. Besides I think Mitch would stage a mutiny if all I fixed all summer was chicken and pork chops.

To go with the steaks on the grill, I opened a bottle of Mark West Pinot Noir, 2012. Mark West is a California wine and can be found at http://www.markwestwines.com. This wine was a brownish red purple color in the glass and had a fruit forward smell and taste. It had a light spicy taste with a medium finish. It was a very nice very drinkable wine. This is one I will be buying a lot more of when I go for my regular wine re-stocking.

Another really good Pinot Noir is Roaring Meg, 2010, from Mt Difficulty Estate, in New Zealand. The web site is http://www.mtdifficulty.co.nz. This is a wine I had in Texas on vacation earlier this year. It was full of crisp flavors of peaches and pears with a hint of spiciness. When I stuffed my nose in the glass I could smell honey and fruit nectar. It was a wonderful glass of wine and one that I will buy if I can find it.

Today’s Wine Review

As far as summers go, this one has been a very mild one around here. I’m not complaining mind you, in light of the previous three summers, this one has been very pleasant, rain now and then, temperatures only hit the nineties a few times, almost picture perfect. The only down side has been that because of the really long cold winter, it has taken my vegetable garden longer to produce any zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes.

This summer I’ve experimented with new white wines I hadn’t tried before. Overall I’m making a bigger effort to get out of my comfort zone and try more red and white wines. A few have been really good.

One of the white wines that I hadn’t had before is Concannon Selected Vineyard, Sauvignon Blanc, 2012. A California white wine that was very light and tart, with a grapefruit aroma, and a clean taste. It had a nice light finish.

Another new wine we had was one of the wines we bought in Texas. Becker Vineyards, Wildflower, Fleur Sauvage, 2012. This is a Texas High Plains white wine blend. This wine was off dry, demi-sec. It was a wine that went really well with spicy food.

The third one is one that we’ve had many times, Toscana Villa Antinori, an Italian white blend. The vintage was 2011 and super tasty. The wine was tart and dry, with a mineral taste like a Sauvignon Blanc. The first taste was grapefruit with a medium finish.

One of the best things I’ve discovered about wine is that there is always a new wine to taste. No one can ever say that they’ve tasted them all. This is a passion that can never be fulfilled, but will never get boring either.

Today’s Wine Review

My favorite wine is a big jammy Zinfandel. One that is dark purple and full of blackberry and cherry flavors, not too dry and not sweet. I had the perfect bottle once, a Rosenblum, Planchon Vineyard, 2006. It was everything I wanted in a glass of Zinfandel. I went back to the store where I bought the bottle, I know, I made the mistake of only buying one bottle but I planned on rectifying that by buying many bottles. Alas, there were no more bottles to be had. In fact I couldn’t find another bottle at any store I went to. Later I found out that Rosenblum Cellars had sold their holdings to another company and was told not to expect the same quality ever again. Needless to say, I keep searching for that perfect big jammy Zinfandel.

I’ve been told by some in the wine business that for great Zinfandel there were the three R’s, Ravenswood, Rosenblum and Ridge. Both Ravenswood and Rosenblum have been sold and the quality is not the same as before. I’ve been intrigued about Ridge Wines, seeing the clean simple labels and the price tag, a bit pricier than I normally pay when stocking up on wines but hadn’t tried any yet. So when I received an email about a Ridge wine tasting at a local liquor store, I jumped at the chance to taste some of the fare.

The lineup included a Chardonnay, Merlot, two blends and three Zinfandels. The Chardonnay wasn’t as bad as some I’ve tasted, but I don’t like oaked Chardonnay, un-oaked Chards taste really clean and fresh, oaked just tastes like flat beer to me. The Merlot was very dry and thin tasting, not too bad but not what I was looking for and at $49.99 a bottle, very pricy. The blends were good, all dry with a medium finish that was quite drinkable; one was priced at $27.29 and the other at $39.49. The three Zinfandels were also drinkable, drier than I prefer but they were still very tasty. The first one, Ridge Paso Robles, 2012, was dry and tart with a medium finish and priced at $31.29. The second one, Ridge East Bench, 2011, was a lot thinner and a little smoky, priced at $31.99. The third one, Ridge Geyserville, 2012, was much better than the other two, smoother softer, but still dry, not the big jammy Zin I’m looking for. The third one was priced at $38.99. This is how the Ridge style of Zinfandel is made, drier and higher alcohol content, most around 14.4% to 14.8%. The Ridge wines were nice and drinkable just not the style that I am searching for.

Because the room was almost full, the owner of the liquor store sat at our table and I mentioned that while these were nice, they weren’t the same as the Rosenblum I was trying to replicate. He told me to see him after the tasting and that he had something for me. After the tasting I picked up a couple bottles of what we tasted, Ridge Paso Robles and Ridge Geyserville and went to pay when the owner handed me a Rosenblum 2006, Monte Rosso Vineyard Reserve Zinfandel. He said he had bought all the Rosenblum Zinfandels he could get his hands on when the vineyard sold. I figured that this bottle was going to be very expensive, but he said that he wanted me to have it and gave it to me. I couldn’t believe it; he just gave me the bottle of wine. It’s not from the Planchon Vineyard, but I can’t wait to try it.

Now I just have to come up with a perfect menu to go with the wine.

Today’s Wine Review

Summer is in full swing and here in the Midwest, Summer means heat and humidity. And what makes heat and humidity more palatable? Something cold to drink. It’s a perfect time to drink the lighter wines out there. On my last wine stock up run, I bought eight bottles of white wine, three red and one rosé. I wanted more rosé but I had a difficult time finding any that sounded appealing.

I have to admit that the one I did buy, I bought because of the label. Once again I got sucked in by those marketing wizards. It was a French rosé called AIX Vin De Provence vintage 2013 and was a very pale blush color, not as pink as some I’ve tasted. It was reasonably priced at <$15 so I thought I would give it a try.

It didn’t taste at all as it was described on the label. The label described “bright fruit flavors” and “delicate floral notes”. Well to my uneducated nose, the first thing I smelled was alcohol and at 13% there was plenty to go around. I was expecting pears or strawberries, but what I tasted was more like a dry Sauvignon Blanc with a drop of red food coloring. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the wine, but it was as though someone had switched labels on the bottles. This wine had all the mineral notes of a Sauvignon Blanc and was almost paper dry.

Another rosé I tasted was from our trip to Texas in May I bought a very nice rosé from Pedernales Cellars, from the Texas Hill Country. It was a dry rosé vintage 2013 and was a bright pink color. The first thing I smelled was strawberries and the alcohol second. It is a very refreshing wine that is so drinkable. I found myself refilling my glass more than normal.

I’m on the hunt for more rosé wines. I’ve had a few that are very tasty and some that I wish I’d never opened the bottle. I know it’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it and it might as well be me.

Today’s Wine Review

Grilling season is here and I’m grilling with a vengeance. It’s easy and quick, no fuss no muss. We grill almost every night. From chicken breasts to steak, I even cook a lot of vegetables on the grill. I tried pizza a couple of times, very tasty. And the best part about grilling is that it doesn’t heat up the house like cooking a complete meal on the stove would.

For Father’s Day, it was strip filets, corn on the cob and baked potatoes on the grill. For the wine we had a California Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley Vineyards from Sonoma County. The vintage was 2011 and was a Christmas present from my brother, something I had been sitting on and finally decided to try it. It was actually a bit of a blend, with grapes from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, but the label read Cabernet Sauvignon. You can find them at http://www.avvwine.com.

The wine was dark red in the glass with nice legs. It was very dry with a lot of tannins and a full finish. There was a touch of smoky aroma. It was very tasty and complemented the steaks well. Mitch especially liked it, he had four glasses, but who’s counting? Me that’s who, I wanted to make sure I had my fair share too and he was hogging the bottle.