Apothic White Winemaker’s Blend 2013

Apothic WhiteThe 2013 Apothic White Winemaker’s Blend cost a mere $8.99 a bottle with an ABV of 12% and had  an array of aromas and flavors that really surprised me. I like the red blend from this vintner so I thought I would give this one a try.

The second weekend of August was not as hot as the start of the month but was in the upper 70’s to low 80’s with a nice Northwesterly wind (red wine drinking in my book) but it still did not deter me from continuing my quest to find as many good, decent, inexpensive white wines for summer sipping.

The wine was pale yellow in color with good clarity and a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Riesling. Not sure what the percentages were but based on the aromas and flavors it was done just right.

On the nose I found pear, apple, melon and fresh squeezed lemon juice. The palate was a concoction of peach, melon, pear, and lemon rind with hints of sweet lemonade. The finish was that of sweet apricot iced tea. My only regret was not having another glass with the meal. I think it would have paired quite well. Another day perhaps?

The meal consisted of zucchini boats – huh?? Actually it’s a zucchini cut lengthwise and the insides scooped out and stir-fried with onions, broccoli and ground pork (you could use any other meat – ground beef, ground bison, ground veal, ground sausage and any other veggies you’d like to add in) and then baked in the oven until the outer zucchini was cooked but not mushy.

 

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.

 

 

19 Crimes.

The 19 Crimes 2013 red wine is a blend of Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon & Pinot Noir and has an ABV of 13%. It has a real deep garnet color with aromas of red cherry, strawberry and bing cherry with hints of wood and smoke. The flavor is of cherry jam, strawberry, sweet mixed berries and a hint of oak.  On the back palate, a Swiss Miss cocoa powder gives this wine a smooth, velvety, chocolate finish.

I did have this with grilled pork, homemade potato salad & fresh green salad and it went quite well with the meal. I’m sure this wine will pair well with a variety of dishes but I’d like to try it with grilled, skinless chicken breasts smothered in Texas Hot & Spicy BBQ sauce, roasted potatoes and your choice of vegetables. Oh, and corn on the cob wouldn’t hurt either.  I would suggest having several glasses of this wine as it is really tasty.

I’ve seen this wine in the price range of $10.99 to $15.99 depending on which wine merchant I visit, but found this one up in the NH State Liquor store on sale for $9.99. I only bought 2 bottles – foolish me! You also know that I’m not real fond of Australian wines but this one suited my palate very nicely. I’ll have to remember when I go back up to NH or to Table & Vine in West Springfield to look for this wine and get at least a half case of it. For the price you can’t go wrong.

Words and Pictures (2013)

Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche portray two teachers at a high school where they strike up a rivalry of their respective passions – art & literature. Owens plays a one-time lit phenom, Jack Marcus, but hasn’t published in a long time. This, along with his alcoholism, may just be his demise and get him fired from the prep school.

Dina Delsanto (Binoche) is an abstract artist debilitated by rheumatoid arthritis and is the new teacher on campus. Jack quickly starts the flirting game by challenging Delsanto to a word game by increasing the number of syllables of words. The flirting then leads to romance but is soon dissolved by Jack’s alcoholic blunder.

Although it appears bleak that Jack and Dina will repair their relationship, the students are engaged in a competition as to whether words are more important than pictures. Is a picture really worth a thousand words?

While watching the movie I enjoyed a red blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Sirah produced by Bota Box called RedVolution.

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I know, I know it’s a box wine but for some reason I really enjoyed this with the movie along with some chips & pretzels. I found aromas of plum, blackberry and black cherry. This wine was quite jammy with similar tastes that I found on the nose. And for $19.99 for a 3 Liter box it’s pretty easy on the budget so it gets 7 1/2 wine glasses.

 

 

 

Ghost Pines 2011 Red Blend

I received this as a Christmas gift in 2013 (yeah I know – what took me so long?) and has a delectable blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Sirah, Merlot & Sangiovese grape varietals from Sonoma County (56%), Joaquin County (23%) and Napa County (21%) which yielded a deep garnet color with an alcohol by volume of 14.5%.

On the nose were aromas of blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry & mulberry. On the palate were a variety of flavors and each time I sipped the wine I got a different combination which was quite a surprise and a fun experience. In addition to the blueberry, blackberry, boysenberry & mulberry flavors I found spice and caramel mixed in with the blackberry combination with nuances of leather, tobacco & pepper – but not always the same.

We paired this with ziti & marinara sauce with Romano & Parmesan cheeses, a side green salad sans Italian bread (which I really missed) and had it on the deck. I’m not sure if the bottle returned to the pantry (where all my opened wines find their resting place) or it was emptied while enjoying it on the deck.

I don’t have a price for you on this wine as it was a gift, but whatever the price, it was worth it – don’t be afraid to bring this to the party and have it be the first one opened.

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

Jacqueline Bahue Rosé Lodi 2012

The Jacqueline Bahue Rosé Lodi 2012 has an ABV of 12.3% and is the second of six bottles I received from NakedWines. Still a bottle of wine with a screw top closure (will I ever see a cork again???), at least I didn’t have to search for the corkscrew – like that’s really a problem huh? Anyway, this had a fruit punch color but stopped there as it began with a very nice fresh strawberry aroma. After swirling it for a bit I was able to detect a nice floral bouquet with hints of Peach Melba. And at the very end I picked out a hint of tart cranberry. I’ll have to tell you I was quite pleased with what I smelled so far as it gave me hope that the flavor would follow the nose’s lead so to speak.

On the palate a nice burst of fresh strawberry flavor abounded past the ‘ol taste buds and found ripe apricot on the back palate. Oh, but that wasn’t the end of the experience as the aftertaste was of creamy strawberry yogurt. This wine costs $14.99 on the Naked Wines website (see above link) but if you’re an “Angel” (still need to do my homework on this) the cost drops to $8.99, but I did find where this sells for around $8.99 on most sites I searched.

We paired this with baked chicken breasts (skinless) with a BBQ sauce concoction of Jack Daniels BBQ, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco brand hot sauce. We accompanied the chicken with Rice Pilaf (chicken style) and mixed veggies (regrettably from the can, but we survived) and surprisingly the wine and food went quite well. I also tried this stand alone and this would make a great summer sipping wine out on the deck on a warm summer eve with a bunch of friends to hang out with.

 

 

RH Phillips 2000 Dunnigan Hills Cabernet Sauvignon

This bottle of RH Phillips Dunnigan Hills (sorry about the blurry picture) still had a real cork closure and not the screw tops this particular brand went to. I can remember the last time I opened this bottle of wine and it was pretty good. Although this wine was good it didn’t have the intensity it did when I opened another bottle about a decade ago.

I think I bought two of these back ten years ago and the first bottle was pretty good. And if you know me at all you know I can be very patient when it comes to cellaring wine to see how it ages throughout the years.

When you have high hopes for a brand of wine, you sometimes wait a bit too long to open a bottle of wine. I should have opened this a few years ago but it was still a decent wine as it didn’t disappoint with red cherry, red currant and red plum aromas.

On the palate I found flavors of red & black cherry, red & black currant, and red & dark plum. The flavors were decent enough but as I mentioned earlier the intensity and “pop’ of the wine was lacking.

Again, we paired this wine with a beef tenderloin with a baked potato and green beans & steamed broccoli. No dessert followed much to our chagrin but hey we don’t always have a dessert after a good meal. I just need to get better at knowing when to open a cellared bottle of wine.

Guess I need more experience, huh?

Adelaida 2009 Claudia

*Disclaimer: I received this wine from Griffin Estate Wines

The day started off with a brisk 50 minute walk around the neighborhood, then a few cups of coffee and a mindset that this was going to be a relaxing day. Well, my better half had other plans as she decided that cleaning the vinyl siding of our house was her project for the day. After 41 years of marriage, she pretty much has me pegged and knowing that eventually I’d come out of my relaxing day to help out. Yeah, I’m one of those that likes to procrastinate about household projects – and it works for me!

I decided that I’d give the power washer we bought a few of years ago a try. It took a couple of yanks but it eventually came to life and we added some detergent to the machine and started cleaning the house. It took about two hours with running to the local hardware store for a set of “o” rings that fell apart while washing the siding but it was finally finished. We couldn’t believe the results as it almost looked as if we just got the house re-painted.

Word to the wise though, if you decide to power wash your home do it when it’s the middle of summer with ambient temperatures reaching the mid-90s, not in October with temps at 68 degrees. Both my wife and I were soaked to the bone and chilled, although I did put on a raincoat about halfway through. So, after a long hot shower I decided it was time to make the noon day meal and open a bottle of wine to start the whole process.

After opening the bottle of wine to let it breath a bit, I seasoned two beef tenderloins that were about 2 1/2 inches thick with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt. Although we are the tale of two cooks concerning the “doneness” of the steaks as my wife prefers a medium to well done cooked center (hence I’ve gotten used to butterflying one steak) and mine are usually ‘mooing’ to me when it hits my plate. But I’ve gotten pretty good with setting the outdoor grill to about 400 degrees and grilling the tenderloins at about 6-8 minutes on one side, then 4-6 minutes on the other side. Whiling I was grilling the steaks the other cook was preparing garlic mashed potatoes and wax beans to finish off the meal. And of course I have to have freshly cut Italian bread too.

What really amazed me was the wine we opened to serve with the meal. Adelaida is in the Paso Robles region which consistently produces great wine. And the 2009 Claudia was no exception. It has a deep garnet color with pretty decent tannins. The 2009 Claudia has an ABV of 14.5% and is a red blend of Grenache (38%), Mourvedre (29%), Syrah (20%), Cinsault (11%) and Counoise (2%) and if you’ve read this blog long enough you know I’m particularly fond of red blends. It’s reasonably priced as I researched the following sites at WineWise, Ancona’s, and Wine-Searcher for price ranges. They all showed $19.99.

It opened with a very dominate black raspberry jam aroma but after swirling in my wine glass, a black cherry aroma emerged to open my ‘nose’ senses. Then after repeating the swirling process a few more times, a very pleasant concoction of tobacco, forest floor, wild mushroom, moss and boysenberry aromas awoke to finish off the experience. It took a while to open the aromas but when it did open it was wonderful. I got flavors of black currant, boysenberry, black cherry, thyme, cigar box and pepper. A slight hint of anise was found on the back palate. This wine was great as either a stand alone wine (I had another glass of this wine after lunch while reading in the sunny portion of the deck) or served with a meal. This would also be a great wine to bring to a party as you know it would be received well by the most discriminating of wine palates.

My wife thought it was fantastic and we don’t always agree on wine selections. But I do know if she says its “fantastic”, then it’s a really good wine because her wine rating system is “I like it” or “I don’t like it” which varies from my 1-10 wine glasses rating system.  I’m hoping I can get my hands on a case before it is sold out as I’m excited about having this as a staple in the Witless Whiner’s Cellar.

Oh, did I mention we topped off the wine experience with a Reese’s Pieces Hot Fudge Sundae? Well, it was almost a perfect match for the wine but a chocolate cheesecake may have been the ideal dessert for this particular opened bottle. Maybe on the next bottle perhaps…

 

Mawson’s Hill Block 3 Wrattonbully 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

If you’ve followed this blog long enough then you know I’m not a big fan of Australian wines. I have a tough time wrapping my arms around them. Many of my oenophile friends keep telling me I have to try this one or that one but I never seem to get the chance. So I picked this one on a whim with a cost of around $20 and an ABV of 14.5%.

The Wrattonbully wine region is in Southern Australia’s Limestone Coast which is in the southeastern corner of the state bordering Victoria. The red wines from this region are the mainstay of the Wrattonbully region. The Cabernet Sauvignon varietal is the most planted with Shiraz and Merlot right behind it.

I bought this particular bottle for two reasons. One being I’ve heard good things about the Wrattonbully region and of course the other being that I’m still prodded by my fellow oenophiles to keep trying Australian wines as they’re confident I’ll find one I like eventually.

I may have just found it. This is a medium bodied red wine with nice tannins. On the nose were aromas of mint (yeah, go figure), berry flavors with hints of minerals and earthy notes. The flavors were of elderberry, mulberry, dark berry, and plum. We had this with Bison burgers and it was a good match.

 

 

Beringer 2007 Chenin Blanc

Seeing as summer is still here I like sipping on white wines (although you know reds are tops with me) and on this occasion on a warm sunny afternoon on the deck a white wine fit the bill. The Beringer 2007 Chenin Blanc has an alcohol by volume of 12.5% and cost me $6.99 back about five years ago. I’ll presume it’s a bit more today than five years ago. And yes, I’ve has this for 5 years and was wondering if I kept this too long.

I’m not opposed to decanting white wine but don’t think I’ve ever done this. I have on occasion poured it through a wine aerator and this wine took a while to open up. I probably sniffed this for a dozen times or more and initially got apricots on the nose but again sniffing it a dozen times and then running it through an aerator I picked up some nectarine, lemon peel and cantaloupe. The cantaloupe is what really did it for me and the aromas were quite pleasing to the ‘ol snozzola.

On the palate were flavors of orange zest, pear, apricot and hints of citrus. The finish was clean and crisp which is something I look for in a summer sipping wine. We happened to have the wine with Cajun sea scallops (yes, my own recipe). So, if you’re looking for a pretty decent white wine for a summer afternoon out in the backyard this will definitely not break the bank.