Waterbrook Mélange Blanc 2010

It’s that time of year where I tend to drink more white wine than I do the red stuff. Although, my real passion for drinking wine is in the deep garnet coloring of the delectable juice we know as “Wine”. The Waterbrook Mélange Columbia Valley 2010 vintage from Walla Walla, Washington is a surprising, wonderful concoction of 39% Riesling, 18% Pinot Gris, 14% Gewürztraminer, 10% Chardonnay, 10% Sauvignon Blanc and 9% Viognier with an ABV of 11.8%. Don’t let the mere ABV percentage fool you, as this was packed with a variety of aromas and flavors.

Have you ever picked fresh peaches where you still have the twig and one leaf still attached to the peach? That kind of fresh peach aroma as you put it in the basket with a handful of other picked peaches is the kind of aroma that first hits you when you drop the “ol snozzola” into the opening of the wine glass. At first I thought “Is that it?” – well let that aroma savor for a bit. Then repeat the process of letting the aromas open in the wine glass, and uh, I would recommend using a Riedel or similar type wine vessel to open all the possible smells.

After you get the peach orchard smell, I found melon, honey, apricots, floral notes, fresh cut hay and lemongrass as additional aromas to the already present peach. The fresh cut hay and lemongrass were subtle yet letting you know its presence was real.  The flavors were a delightful blend of pear, apricot, peach and melon with sweet notes of honey. This clean, crisp white wine found the back palate with slight sweet vanilla notes. Although I wished this lingered longer than it did.

We served this well chilled with a baby spinach salad with bacon bits (from the fry pan, not from a jar – so pick your poison), thin apple slices (we used a Fuji apple but whatever suits your fancy & palate will suffice) topped with a mildly sweet salad dressing (recipe follows) and topped with chopped walnuts. For a meat protein topping, we used pan fried skinless chicken breasts sliced about an 1/8″ by 3″ (approx.) in a sage & onion infused olive oil (about a Tbsp) until cooked thoroughly. Just a note: the first glass of wine went down way too quickly but was an excellent complement to the meal. The second glass of wine sans the meal didn’t go as quickly but fear the bottle will not last through the evening hours on the deck. Not bad for a $13.99 bottle of wine. I don’t like spending a lot of money on white wines (there are a few though) and this was well worth the price we paid.

Salad Dressing:

3 Tbsp cider vinegar

3 Tbsp white wine vinegar

2 Tbsp honey

1/4 cup shallots, minced

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and pour over the baby spinach, 1/4″ sliced bacon pieces, apples, strawberries (although the recipe didn’t call for this, we decided to add them) & walnuts. One thing of note – the above recipe is very vinegary, so my wife added more honey to sweeten it and that was more flavorful, so you’ll have to experiment a bit before pouring over the salad.

 

 

Summer Whites for Sipping & Dinner

I recently purchased a couple of white wines that were fairly inexpensive (both under $12) that I wanted for those summer afternoons that were on the hot side. The past couple of weekends in New England have been just that and seeing as I’m sort of like a lizard on a rock, this is my kind of weather.

The first wine we tried was a Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc. This Stellenbosch South African wine was pale yellow in color with pear, pineapple, banana and melon fruit aromas which was quite pleasing. It followed with pear, grapefruit and green apple flavors which was much different than the aromas but again quite pleasing. Serve it well-chilled and savor on the deck while enjoying a warm summer eve with a slight breeze. It’s good for the soul. This one gets 8 WG.

Matua 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

The second wine was a light green color with yellow hues (I think it was the way the sun reflected off the glass).  Aromas of sage, mint, and baled hay (think summer time on the Kansas plains) with a concoction of herbs on the nose. Flavors of pineapple, melon, and lemon were dominant with citrus notes on the back palate. This wine was fantastic and has become a quick favorite of mine and I’ll remember to pick up a case the next time I visit the wine merchant.

We paired this wine (again, serve well-chilled) with marinated boneless, chicken breast (recipe for marinade below), steamed long grain rice, and a medley of veggies (broccoli, snap peas, orange & red bell peppers, red scallions) slightly sauteed in California olive oil, then by adding a 1/2 cup water at the end to steam them in the wok. The recipe for the chicken marinade follows and measurements are approximate as I really didn’t measure, except by eye & taste. This wine is worth a 9 1/2 WG rating.

Recipe for two chicken breasts:

  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup BBQ sauce (I used a Texas hot sauce)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tsp cracked black pepper
  • Frank’s hot sauce to taste (I would guess, maybe a tsp or two)

Marinate the chicken breasts for around 4 hours, then cook out on the grill basting the marinade during cooking – approx. 25-35 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken. Enjoy!!

 

Taylor Brooke St. Croix Rosé

It’s been a while since I’ve been blogging and I recently got an email to my website account from wannabewino.com about Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW) and that it’s back. Well, for one, this was news to me and it’s been around for a long time. Goes to show ya that you can teach a new dog an old trick – no, reverse that. Anyway, getting back to the reason I’m posting this one is simple – I needed to get back in the “sip” of things and this seemed like a good place to start. You can read the background for WBW from Tim Elliott at winecast.com for more information. This happens to be WBW #80, but the first for me.

The theme for WBW #80 is a dry rosé and as many of you know I’m more of a bold, sassy, dry red drinker with a Borolo at the top of the list although there are many others that could easily tie for the top spot. Although when I leave this earth I believe I’ll be toting a French Bordeaux or two with me – well, I can’t use my wine luggage for traveling on the plane anymore so I might as well put it to good use.

So I went looking for a bottle of dry rosé and wouldn’t you know I could only find one and I really thought I had two in my wine cellar. Alas, whiners of wine, I remembered I did a tasting up at Taylor Brooke back a few months and was really impressed with their rosé and realized the wine was still in the box I brought home and had not logged it into my wine database yet – not like my mind is going or anything like that! Seeing as this is my first WBW I thought doing a virtual wine tasting of a local wine would be a pretty good choice. The rosé sells for around $14 and had an ABV of 12% so it won’t break the bank and one glass isn’t going to get you tipsy. It’s made for summer sipping and produced from the St. Croix grape varietal.

So, I chilled the wine as I was planning on having it on a warm summer afternoon out on the deck whiling reading one of three books I’m in the process of reading now. And yes, I can remember the plots and characters in each of them – hey, my mind isn’t all that gone – yet!! Okay, the wine’s been chilling in the wine cooler and I’m making a new recipe for a late lunch and early dinner.

The wine opened with a nose predominately of red raspberry (I have to open the wine before I start cooking) and the aroma was much like when I pick fresh wild red raspberries that grow in the backyard when it’s hot and muggy outside with the sun shining with nary a cloud to find. I continued to sniff into the wine glass and found strawberries and black raspberry aromas too. I also detected a slight hint of apricot after sniffing it for 8 or 9 more times. On the palate I found the succulent red raspberry flavors with hints of black raspberry and red currant. This dry rosé had a nice acidic feel to it and the finish was very smooth and creamy on the back palate.

The meal consisted of chicken marinated overnight with a soy ginger marinade making the chicken moist and quite tasty. Along with the chicken were grilled pineapple slices and grilled Portabella mushrooms. We then added garden fresh tomatoes, baby Swiss cheese, sautéed red onions and avocado slices. The recipe called for all of this to be delicately placed between two slices of Ciabatta bread but my better half and my son decided to put it all on a plate while I had mine on the Ciabatta sans the avocado.

Needless to say, the meal went well with the dry rosé and I opted for cubed cantaloupe and fresh picked blueberries for dessert and not only did the wine complement the meal but added to the dessert. If you could imagine a red raspberry in liquid form – this would be it.

Sunset Meadow Vineyards 2009 Vidal Blanc

Located in Goshen, CT Sunset Meadow Vineyards is one of about 30+ boutique wineries in Connecticut. In my opinion, CT white wines are getting better every year. Usually when I visit CT wineries I look forward to tasting their white wines. The reds aren’t quite there yet on the grand scheme of things with the rest of the world, but hey, the rest of the world has been doing it for a lot longer than the small wineries in southern New England. The wine retails for around $19 and has a 12% alcohol by volume.

The vidal blanc had an opaque yellow color with aromas of lemongrass, lime, fresh cut hay and floral notes. On the palate I found lemon-lime jello, pear, and clementine. The finish was refreshing with ripe apricots. We paired this with Cajun sea scallops, leaf spinach, and long grain wild rice. The crispness of the wine complemented the Cajun spices (my own concoction BTW) which marinated the sea scallops.

Okay, here’s the recipe for the Cajun marinade for about 1 1/2 lbs of sea scallops (approx. 1 1/2″ in diameter and just as tall): Rinse sea scallops well and drain any excess liquid and place in a quart container. Combine 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 1 tsp (you can vary this to your taste) of your favorite dry Cajun seasoning (I use the Habanero Cajun seasoning from Hell – beyond hot). You can also vary the ingredients to suit your tastes.

Pour this over the sea scallops and let soak for at least 10 minutes. Bake in a glass dish at 425 degrees for 14 minutes although this will vary based on the size of your sea scallops. Total time of preparation to sitting down and eating the meal is less than an hour so this can be a great meal during the middle of the week. Oh, and don’t forget to have the bottle of wine well chilled. The coolness of the wine with the hotness of the Cajun spices does a cha-cha on your taste buds. Bon Appetit!

Taylor Brooke Winter Pomegranate

The other day I opened a bottle of Pinot Noir that didn’t quite suit my fancy and here I had a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings (well, most of them) so I had a dilemma on my hands.

Now that the first wine I opened didn’t do the trick for a wine paired with some food, so I had to venture into the catacombs of my basement to retrieve a bottle of wine to save the day.

As some of you know me will also know that I can spend hours in the basement on my wine database searching for the “right” wine. Seeing as I had struck out with the red wine I first chose I decided to go with another strategy and seek out a wine other than a Pinot Noir. I decided on Taylor Brooke’s Winter Pomegranate.

This seasonal fruit-infused Riesling is usually only available in the October-November-ish months when this is plentiful. The aromas and flavors are of fresh pomegranate when they are in season. I am quite fond of Rieslings and Taylor Brooke’s spin on a fruit-infused Riesling gave the turkey dinner a great wine-food pairing. So, this saved the day as it went perfectly well with the meal.

I have in the past also paired this with an appetizer my grandmother used to make consisting of sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil; sprinkled with fresh chopped basil (whole leaves are good too); sliced or chopped garlic; and either Asiago, Parmesan, or Romano grated cheese on top. You can also place sliced fresh Mozzarella instead of the grated cheese, which I prefer especially if all the ingredients are fresh.

So, if you’re looking for a great wine to serve with a meal, pick up the Winter Pomegranate. It sells for around $12 and is well worth the cost of admission.

Taylor Brooke Cranberry Riesling

This Riesling is fermented first then aged for around 7 months before blending it with their signature Riesling. The outcome of this effort produced a predominately cranberry aroma and flavor. However, this well balanced wine begins with tart cranberry on the forward palate leading into a crisp and dry finish on the back palate.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, or a Pinot Rose, try this Cranberry Riesling for your Thanksgiving holiday as this should go quite well with the proverbial turkey bird and at $12.99 it’s a great buy. Or if you’ve chosen ham for the holiday meal, I know for sure this will go well as this past weekend we paired this with a semi-boneless ham with sides of carrots, onions, and roasted pineapple. My recipe follows:

In a baking pan with rack, place a 6-8 lb (or other weight) semi-boneless ham (cut side down) and secure pineapple slices by any proven method over the ham. Pour one bottle of your favorite white wine in the pan with quartered onions and carrots cut Julienne (but thicker than normal) style, add 2-3 cups water and bake in the oven @ 325° for approximately 18 minutes per pound. Seeing as your ham is probably already cooked the internal temperature should be at least 140°. The ham should be pretty moist, tasty and a good match for the Cranberry Riesling. Enjoy your Thanksgiving feast!

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…

Blackstone 2008 Winemaker’s Select Merlot

This Blackstone wine opened with black cherry, strawberry, and clove aromas with a hint of bell pepper. A very nice combination of aromas. On the palate I found cherry hard candy and dark cherry flavors with a hint of mint leaves. $9.99 with a value of 4 out of 5 corks.

We paired this with Cajun pork: ingredients were 2 lbs of cubed pork, 2 yellow peppers, (1) 15 oz can of spicy diced tomatoes, and frozen broccoli (yeah, I thought the same thing too but it wasn’t bad). Cook in a crock pot for 2 1/2 – 3 hrs on high, season to taste including hot sauce, Cajun seasoning, and cayenne pepper. Add the broccoli during the last 1/2 hour of cooking time. Serve over long grain rice. We also paired this with a beef stew at my sister-in-laws and it was good with this meal too. I don’t think you can go wrong with whatever meal you decide to cook.

Clif Bar Family Winery 2006 “The Climber” Meritage

Doppelganger (cont’)

It always puzzled her mother, Sophia, where the dolls ended up as she could never find them in any of the rubbish barrels. Her father, Antonio, died when she was a very young girl but she could remember when he would put her on top of her shoulders and run up and down the Dominican seacoast in the Estes National Forest. They would make sandcastles just before high tide and would watch the tide slowly approach their expertly crafted sandcastles. What took an afternoon to build was washed away in mere minutes. Memories are all she has now. Nellie and her father would dream of rescuing the damsel in distress locked in the tower of the sandcastle built just hours before the thunderous ocean waves descended upon it. She missed her father and knew in her heart one day they would meet again. She has that feeling, after all, she is “special”…

The Clif Bar Family Winery Meritage is a blend of 32% Zinfandel, 28% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, and 4% Petite Sirah makes for jammy fruits and smoked bacon on the nose. Rounding out this wine the flavors consisted of black currant and pepper. I had higher hopes for this wine but it kind of let me down but it is a decent table wine though at $13.99. Guess I was expecting too much as I love blends and they’re one of my favorites so I always get excited when I’m about to open a blend. The best part about this wine was I paired it with a salmon recipe I received from my sister-in-law. Thank goodness for sisters-in-law.

Wild Caught Sockeye Salmon Food Recipe:

1 – 1 1/2 lbs wild caught sockeye salmon, Brianna’s Homestyle Dijon Honey Mustard dressing, Fresh Gourmet Garlic Pepper Crispy Onions.

Place salmon skin side down on a glass baking dish coated with an olive oil spray. Spread the Brianna’s dressing over the salmon so it is coated and put the crispy onions and top of that. Bake @ 425 degrees for 12-16 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon. Serve with a broccoli/cauliflower mixture and Mediterranean couscous. Hmmm, when’s dinner?

 

Piccini 2009 Chianti

It is now your 7th date with the perfect partner and you want them to know how versatile you are pairing several dishes with only one wine varietal for another small group of both of your friends and maybe a family member or two from each side. So, you decide to prepare a pasta dish with a marinara sauce consisting of a 26 oz can each of tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and whole peeled tomatoes, a 6 oz can of tomato paste and one 26 oz can of water. Prior to pouring the tomato concoction together saute a few chopped garlic cloves right in the same sauce pot with two tablespoons of olive oil. Then dump all the cans of tomato “stuff” into the pot plus the can of water and set on the lowest heat setting. Brown up some hamburg to add to the sauce, drain the excess grease and add to the mixture.

Then prepare your meatballs the way you’d like and add them to the mixture. For spices I use a very small amount of sea salt. Then to taste, add black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano. Let simmer for about 3-4 hours, then taste and add more spices, stir and now add basil to the sauce. Let simmer for another 3-4 hours, then spice as needed and simmer 2 more hours. Have the sauce mixture and meatballs with Italian bread or serve over your favorite pasta.

The second dish you prepare is a white pizza (go to the web and Google white pizza for recipes). The third dish will be a chicken cacciatore (here’s a good one from “allrecipes” http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/moms-chicken-cacciatore/detail.aspx).

Now the wine that you’re going to woo everyone with is the Piccini 2009 Chianti that has a nice ruby color with fruit on the nose – red berries mostly. The palate was predominately cherry flavor with a touch of earthiness. Priced at $8.99 it is a very good buy, probably 4 corks.

Tres Picos 2008 Borsao Garnacha

Gumshoe

The story begins with the opening scene:

Awakening the senses to the aroma of a great wine is just the beginning of the whole wine experience where your inner abilities instinctively take over for any misgivings about what you thought you just smelled and tasted.  This scenario rolls over in your mind from time to time when you open a bottle of wine that you have cellared for some time – ten years to be exact when the winery released 496 cases in 1999 and as I was a wine club member I received an entire case of the delectable juice for my drinking pleasure…

Sit back and relax as we intend to entertain you with “stories” from time to time while some of it is fiction and some isn’t. And while you’re relaxing enjoy the following wine. The Tres Picos 2008 Borsao Garnacha opens with plum, blackberry and fig on the nose with blackberry and cassis flavors with a mocha and pepper finish. A bit of a different combination but it seemed to work okay. Try this with a beef stew (1-1 1/2 lb) cooked in the crock pot with carrots (5-6), potatoes (3 medium), celery (5-6 stalks) (add this later, like as soon as you get home as they tend to get mushy if you put them in too soon or don’t add them at all – your choice) and a small can of tomato paste and cover with water, oh and don’t forget to sprinkle in some spices too. When you get home dinner is ready, pour the wine and enjoy the rest of the day relaxing. $13.99 and an average buy as I have had other Garnacha that were as good but cost a few bucks less.