Holiday Excursion

The Friday before the Labor Day holiday I left the throes of a light wind swept rain from hurricane Earl kissing the Rose City boundaries to embark on a journey to Table & Vine in search of the elusive low-priced reds Cousin Carl speaks so fondly of. Reaching my destination the coolness of Table & Vine’s “wine cellar” tingled my senses and upon first glance hundreds of bottled wines beckoned me to peruse at my leisure. However, my time was limited as my brother and I were taking our “mom” out for her 85th year on this earth. The short escapade to this wonderful “wine cellar” proved fruitful as I purchased a case and a half of wine. Yes, some of these were Spanish wines of which I am not very familiar with but willing to experiment on or accept recommendations from our wine enthusiasts’ community. Each of the 18 bottles was under $15 with 11 of them under $10. So, I believe I have stumbled upon some decent low priced reds. My fingers are crossed.

Lastly, let me say that I love wine. There are two things worth living for, one is wine and the other is more wine. So, on with the reviews……

Osborne 2001 Solaz. This Spanish wine comprised of 80% Tempranillo & 20% Cabernet Sauvignon produced black & bing cherry on the nose with a hint of leather. A beautiful wild raspberry flavor greeted the tongue and lasted quite awhile. One of those great low priced reds. $9.99, 88 rating. I did not pair this with any food but I’m sure it will go well with any grilled meats as the raspberry flavors complement the meat quite well.

My wife and I went to Boston for breakfast on the Sunday of the Labor Day weekend, alas also to visit with our daughter and her friend. We walked a couple of blocks (have you seen the blocks in Boston? Much longer than the Rose City offers). Anyway, we walked in a chilly early morn a couple of blocks (seemed like 8 blocks though) to reach a convenience store and wondered what we were going to do in a convenience store as we were on a quest to find a breakfast establishment. So, my first thoughts were of packaged donuts and pastries prefaced by weak coffee. Upon entering the convenience store we walked to the back and I was surprised to see an entrance to Gerard’s Tavern opening into a small but quite comfortable dining area. Although the tavern was Irish in tradition I ordered a Spanish omelet after buying so many Spanish wines two days before. I was sure I was morphing into a Spaniard as I was envisioning being in a bull ring chanting Ole, Ole, and then slipping into a paragon dream with the aromas of wild raspberry and chocolate nuances.

After the walk back to the apartment, I learned that my daughter bought me a bottle of Spanish wine (I knew there was a reason we had children). I haven’t the faintest idea of the cost but here’s what I found in the bottle when I returned home and paired it with a medium-well hamburger and a grilled hot dog with yellow mustard, sweet relish, chopped onions and a sandwich dill pickle. Not quite a Chicago style hot dog, but darned close. The tasting notes are as follows….

The Flying Winemaker 2007 Tempranillo. Upon putting the ol’ schnozz into the bowl of my wine glass an immediate explosion of wild raspberries hit the nose in such force I think my nose is  still disjointed. I also detected hints of mint chocolate. The palate provided nuances of dark cherry and black raspberry flavors followed by a smooth blueberry and chocolate finish. I gave this wine 90 points. Whatever the price was well worth what I got out of the wine. I’m beginning to realize that Spanish Tempranillos have a lot to do with wild raspberries. Do you find the same or similar nuances? Again, I’m not sure of the price but this is a wine that you can bring to your neighbor’s, a wine group, as a house warming gift, or just for turkey dinner and have everyone tell you that you need to pick the wines for future venues, you’ll be an instant hit while getting on several “speed dial” lists.

I’ve often chided white wine drinkers for being a white wine drinker and why would anyone drink white wine as I’m a staunch red wine lover.  One of our wine enthusiast’s siblings lived in Germany and Japan for a number of years and had the following to say:

“Why drink a white?  Because if you lived in Germany and had Riesling grapes giving you 5 distinct levels of taste (sweetness) all during one 5 or 3 course meal, you’d do it every day for $8, just like if you lived in Argentina, you drink Malbec all night with fish to beef for $8.  Wait ’til he “discovers” sake and the Far East!”

Whoa, is this the beginning of a white vs. red venue? This could prove to be a lot of fun. This prompted me to take a more serious look at white wines and what all the fuss was about, so as a result I found this delectable white wine.

Ca’Montini 2004 Pinot Grigio. Apple greeted the nose much like a fall evening in the apple orchards with a hint of pear. The aroma led to a green apple and lemon flavor on the palate with a slight, pleasing mineral finish. Yummy comes to mind after opening this bottle of wine which was well-chilled. Pair this with shrimp fettuccine or baked salmon with a maple syrup/balsamic vinegar glaze topped with chopped garlic, however I prefer thinly sliced garlic over chopped. I’m more of a red wine drinker but this one I really like. $18.99 deserves a 90 rating.

Try the wines and let me know what you think. Post your comments below.

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