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…

Kitchen Sink NV Red Table Wine

I couldn’t resist picking up this bottle for the name alone. So, I had not a clue as to what this would bring to the kitchen table – no pun intended, nah I intended that! Anyway, I’m always in the market for new wines and sometimes I strike it rich, and sometimes not.

This was a fairly decent wine with 12.5% ABV and around $18 for a 750 ml bottle. I had every intention of having this with food. It was supposed to be served with grilled chicken and a fresh garden salad but it just didn’t work out that way, hey – it happens!

It started off with really great aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, elderberry, damp forest floor with hints of moss and earth. So, seeing as this is a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah I can understand all the great aromas.

On the palate I got blackberry, black raspberry, dark plum, fig, and black currant flavors. The downside to this wine was the flavors, albeit plentiful, lacked any sustainability. That is, the flavors didn’t last long plus with the $18 price tag I was expecting a bit more. So, pick up a bottle and check it out. You may get a much different impression than I did. Maybe we can compare notes.

 

Chateau Doyac 2006 Haut Medoc Max de Pourtales

A red blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from 20-year old vines and an alcohol by volume of 13.5% had a rich purple color. The aromas of cherry, blackberry, fresh sage, forest floor, and moss wafted its way to my schnozzola slowly and uniformly. This began to open the wine senses for an exciting experience with a French Bordeaux.

Not only were the aromas very pleasing but the flavors of cherry, cedar, earth, and cigar box were blended with a great deal of care. On the finish I found a delectable vanilla finish, faint but no mistaking the vanilla.

An exceptional French Bordeaux I found on sale for $19.99 but worth much more. I did manage to purchase four bottles of this so I will cellar the last three for a few years and see what develops. Although I again failed to buy a case of this and probably won’t find this bargain price again I do urge you to buy a couple of bottles and drink up.

We paired this with meatloaf, I know, cut off my culinary tongue, but it really paired quite well. I’ll presume this would go very well with grilled meats such as lamb, venison, beef. If any of you try this with buffalo let me know how the pairing went.

 

Saltwater Farm Vineyard 2010 Cabernet Franc/Merlot Blend

I recently visited Saltwater Farm Vineyard as we had a few relatives visit during the Thanksgiving holiday and they wanted to get in a few of the Connecticut wineries before returning back to Texas.

Now, I have not visited any of the wineries in Texas but I understand they have a whole bunch of them and if you remember my definition of “bunch” then you’ll get the picture you aren’t going to get to all of them in one day.

So, we decided to visit Saltwater Farms after eating at the Voodoo Grill in Mystic where we had some of their famous “hot” wings, burgers, and other delectable treats.

Arriving at the vineyard, the scenery was still picturesque even though the vines are bare and a coolness hung over the landscape it was still active with ocean birds, marshes, and salt in the air.

Upon entering the tasting room, Michelle, one of two wine bar staff persons greeted us quite warmly and began the process of pouring wines for us. Although we liked the wines on the tasting menu that Michelle walked us through, what really grabbed our attention was the last wine we tasted.

The Cabernet Franc/Merlot sported a 12.5% ABV and opened with black cherry and black berry on the nose, a hint of boysenberry and eucalyptus found it’s way in the aromas as well. On the palate I found a very smooth mouthfeel with blackberries and intense black cherry. It had a really great mixture of the two flavors yet were quite distinct from each other. A combination of mocha and a light peppery finish rounded out the tasting on this wine. Although a bit pricey at $35 we found it to be well worth it.

Michelle was quite knowledgeable with the Saltwater Farm wines letting us know the nuances of each selection. We were also provided with a bit of history concerning the effects of Hurricane Sandy and fortunately, the winery escaped the deepest wrath of Sandy. I know tasting the wines is the ultimate factor in visiting a winery but I also like to interact with the wine staff as this is part of the wine visit too. You never know what little tidbits you come away with.

As an avid red wine drinker, I do believe that Connecticut has improved greatly in producing red wines that get better each year. Visiting Saltwater Farm this year, among other CT wineries, I have high hopes for the reds in Connecticut.

Savino Vineyards – 2012

This year I made a decision to visit no more than three wineries in a day which is about a 5-7 hour day of wine hopping. The reason for this was that I wanted to spend more time at each winery and enjoy the experience in addition to tasting their wines. I have come to realize that wineries have more to offer besides the delectable liquid grape concoction we know as wine.

Upon entering the Savino Vineyards parking lot where the “tasting room open sign” beckoned me to a tasting (can you spot the witless whiner mobile?) I found nary a wine taster so I knew I was in for a surprise.

Last year the tasting room was a bit smaller than the new building as you can see from the pictures below. I’ve noticed a number of Connecticut wineries that have expanded or in the process of expanding.

The old.

And the new.

Usually when I am one of a few or no wine tasters I get to know the wine staff a bit better as they are able to spend more time with you. So upon first entering the building I was met by Lisa and Sandy (look closely).

When I first saw the bar stools I thought these would not be conducive to a long visit but after a half hour I realized how comfortable they were.

Savino Vineyards offers two tastings. The first is $7.00 and includes the wines, a plate of cheese, crackers, and salami plus their signature glass which is a pretty good size that will allow you to get your ‘ol schnozzola into the glass to get the full aroma of the wine.

The second offering is for $12.95 for the wines, olive oil, bread, and an antipasto tasting. Sandy prepared this for me and I began tasting the wines and the antipasto, bread, olive oil, salami, cheese and crackers in no apparent sequence but that didn’t seem to matter as everything was tasting really good.

When you decide to visit Savino, go all out and order the antipasto tasting. It consisted of marinated mushrooms, green olives, a garlic/bread crumb stuffed cherry pepper, and marinated julienne-cut eggplant. This was awesome and I no longer thought I was in a wine tasting but felt like I was in my Grandma’s kitchen eating her delectable food.

The wines I tasted along with the food are as follows:

2001 Bianco di Casa ($15.99): This white wine opened with citrus notes with honeysuckle on the nose. Lots of citrus with lemon on the palate. This had a clean crisp finish.

2011 Seyval Blanc ($14.99): This was not part of the tasting as quantities were limited but I was treated to a sampling of this wine. It opened with citrus with hints of white grape aromas. On the palate I found nectarine and apricot. A nice lemon zest was detected on the finish.

2011 Rosso di Casa ($16.99): A blend of Barbera, Frontenac, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot proved to be a hearty red and reminded me of Grandpa’s wine he used to make so many years ago. This wine had red plum and red cherry aromas with a very subtle blueberry note at the end. I detected a bit of a floral note too. Flavors of cherry, red raspberry and sweet plum preceded a slight white pepper finish. If you waited long enough before taking another sip you get a slight mocha aftertaste on the back palate.

At about this time, Sonia, the owner’s daughter-in-law came in and we both remembered the wine our grandfathers made and it was similar to the Rosso di Casa. This proved to be my favorite wine they had to offer.

2010 Frontenac ($18.99): A light red wine with cherry and bing cherry aromas followed by dark cherry and plum flavors and a hint of European chocolate. This went well with the cheese I had.

2010 Cabernet Franc ($18.99): A medium bodied wine opened with red plum and red currant aromas. Plenty of cherry, plum and chocolate on the palate. This wine paired well with all the food I had in front of me.

2010 Merlot ($18.99): This was an unusual Merlot with aromas that I found amazing. The aromas opened with cherry, red currant, forest floor and black olives, not something I have found a lot of in Merlots so I was mildly surprised with these aromas. The flavor was of dark cherry and after having a dark chocolate Hershey Kiss, the flavor turned into a cherry cordial. It made all the difference in the world.

So, if you want to spend an afternoon at the winery they have plenty of room on the right side of the bar area where you can relax and grab a glass of your favorite Savino Vineyards wine. Not only were the wines tasty and the food great, it was the conversations I had with Lisa, Sandy & Sonia making this a very memorable wine visit and one that I will remember for a long time to come.

Connecticut Wine Festival – 2012

The CT Wine Festival was on the last weekend of July. The witless wine troupe (ah, that would be me & the missus and my sister- and brother-in-laws) started off the morning drive to the Goshen Fairgrounds in Goshen, CT under a partly cloudy sky but soon realized that it was not if it would rain, but when. We were hoping the inevitable dilemma of transparent moist daggers from the heavens would hold off long enough for us to enjoy the 4th annual CT Wine Festival.

The parking lot was as empty as could be, given that the wine festival would not open for another 30 minutes.

We arrived a half hour earlier than expected and you can see that we were among the brave and loyal wine enthusiasts to get a front row parking spot.

This is advantageous strategy on the part of us wine purveyors. You see, we didn’t need to worry about parking in the doldrums of the cheap seats, way back in swamp land, wondering if we would ever find the wine mobile without utilizing the panic button on the key fob.

Umbrella in hand, we marched on to the starting gate (see featured photo) to enter the world of fine wines.  You can see the line forming in anticipation of finding the best wines of the festival. Much to our surprise they opened the gates about 10 minutes before the announced starting times.

Fortunately we arrived early but so did many of the other wine enthusiasts as well but it was not yet to the point where you were four or five deep. So, the process of getting wine samples was still relatively easy to obtain. Here are just a few of the brave wine tasters waiting for samples or those purchasing wine.

Many of you have heard about our Fancy Schmancy Initials Club so, can you spot Sparing Sharon and Cousin Carl?

Once we sampled the wines and made our purchases we found ourselves outside the tasting barns and out in the open where the skies threatened numerous droplets of rain but we were determined to visit the vendors of other products than wine before the wet stuff began. I’m particularly fond of the vendors selling oils and vinegars.

Once we had visited the outside vendors we got back to the car – oh, look at the parking lot now.

So, if you want to park in the front row, get to the wine festival early. Now, the only thing left to do now was stop at Apricot’s restaurant in Farmington to top off a perfect afternoon wine tasting. But outside under the tent the rains finally poured down upon us (sorry no pictures of the rain as the camera was in the car). I have to remember that I have a phone with a camera in it.

If you’re looking for a fun day and want to taste wine from many of the state’s wineries, you’ll surely enjoy this outing. So, put a reminder on your calendar for July 2013 to visit the Connecticut Wine Festival

Saltwater Farm Vineyard – 2012

Driving down to Saltwater Farm Vineyard along the shoreline routes on a sunny afternoon with the temperature in the mid-80s I was, as they say, out for a Sunday drive. Although it was a Saturday it really didn’t make a difference as I was enjoying the day for what it was – just plain old pleasant. It was enjoyable because I didn’t have to go to work, I didn’t need to pay any bills, I didn’t need to wash the car, and I didn’t want to sit out on the deck and read. So what else was there to do? Yes, this is a rhetorical question as a wine tasting was in order. So, I was off to see what wines were in store for me to try.

Once I drove down the rock driveway I parked the wine mobile in the designated area and took in the incredible views of the vineyards. I enjoy the smell of the ocean air and seeing the many species of birds in their natural habitat.

Saltwater Farms is a great place to spend an afternoon on the back patio with a picnic lunch and a bottle of your favorite Saltwater Farms wine while overlooking the marsh and the wildlife it contains.

Although there wasn’t a sign that pointed directly to the tasting room the two enormous doors couldn’t be ignored and as an analytical individual I concluded this was the way I needed to go to start my wine tasting.

Inside there is a reception area where you check in and they direct you to an upstairs wine bar. Once I reached the second floor bar area I was met by Jessica (wine bar staff) and Paul (tasting room manager) and was immediately given a glass for tasting. The glass is a good sized one so you’re able to get the ‘ol schnozzola into the glass to fully grasp the wine’s aroma. The simple, but elegant egret in flight logo reminds you that the ocean is home to more than just wineries. Below is the list of wines I tried. Tastings are $10 per person and includes their signature logo glass.

2011 Sauvignon Blanc ($28): Aged in stainless steel tanks this opened with floral notes with a great explosive citrus aroma. On the palate were pear and sweet lemongrass. If you didn’t know you were at the ocean, this wine sure made you aware that you just might be. This was an excellent wine to start the tasting with.

2010 Estate Chardonnay ($18): Pear & nectarine combined to start this wine off on the right note. Pear, apple and citrus flavors were the highlights of this Chardonnay. Though I’m not a Chardonnay drinker, I was pleased with this one.

2009 Estate Chardonnay ($20): This portrayed citrusy notes on the nose with pear and green apple flavors with hints of nectarine and stone mineral notes on the back palate. This had a nice balance.

2010 “Gold Arc” Chardonnay ($27): A real nice citrusy aroma and flavor. Picture yourself getting off a plane in Florida during orange grove harvest time -yeah a bit like that. I did detect a hint of vanilla on the finish.

2011 Cabernet Rosé ($23): A product of Hurricane Irene’s salt spray yielded a French style rosé with an aroma of just entering the strawberry patch to pick fresh strawberries. On the palate were fresh strawberries galore. This had a real nice balance. I’m really beginning to warm up to rosés.

2010 Pinot Noir ($35): Barrel aged in French oak this opened with plum and pomegranate aromas. I found a soft plum flavor (my indication of a great Pinot). Made from estate and New York varietals, this for me, was the best wine of the tasting. A light garnet color, this wine also had a hint of pepper on the finish. If I had more time I would have purchased a glass and enjoyed it on the back patio.

2008 Cabernet Franc ($28): A nice plum color with blackberry fruits on the nose. Cherry candy, plum, and juicy blackberry flavors rounded out this wine.

2008 Merlot ($30): The last estate Merlot for awhile due to an early frost opened with raspberry and cherry aromas on the nose with surprising plum and raspberry flavors. this had a nice balance of flavors.

Chamard Vineyards – 2012

Nestled just past the Clinton Outlets and down to the left a bit is the entrance to Chamard Vineyards – you have to look for it though unless you’re using GPS then you should have no problem finding the winery. As I entered the short gravel road from the road I stopped to get a few pictures of the grapes pondering the obvious that soon I would see them again if only in liquid form began to warm my heat and soul and I was excited about another tasting.

After parking the wine mobile (a vintage Austin Martin two- seater, actually it’s a ’98 Buick Century, but that’s why dreams were invented) I mulled around the grounds a bit before venturing in for my tasting adventure and noticed quite a lot of activity going on. I believe they were getting ready for an evening event, of which I would not be partaking as I would be long gone before the festivities began. But I did peruse the back and just enjoyed the water fountain before going in.

Here’s the view from just outside the entrance of the tasting room.

As I entered the tasting room there were 4 or 5 tasters mulling about the wine bar and I went to the far end to begin the tasting ritual. However, there was only one person tending the wine bar and seeing as she was the phone taker person too, it was a good 14 minutes before I was asked if I wanted to taste some wine. Then another 6 minutes passed as she had to answer the phone again. Plus she stamped the wrong page on my Passport but that was easily fixed. It must have been a tough day for the wine bar staff. I didn’t complain though as I could see she was having a rough go at it.

Once they paid attention to me they said I could taste five wines for $10 with the small wine glass. I don’t know about you but it’s real tough for me to put my schnozzola in that wine glass. In my opinion this glass is only good for having a few ounces of dessert wine at the end of an evening meal – not for tasting wines. Or for $15 I could receive a Riedel white or red wine glass. Now we’re talking serious wine tasting as everything tastes better in a Riedel wine glass. So, I opted for the Riedel.

The first wine I tasted was the Stone Cold White ($14.99) made with Chardonnay grapes from California. Pear, fresh cut grass, and hayfield on the nose and on the palate I found pear and apple flavors with some decent acidity.

Next I tried the Gewürztraminer ($14.99) and this was produced with grapes imported from the Finger Lakes region of New York. Made in the Alsace tradition made this a bit drier than the German style Gewürztraminer. Apple, honeydew melon, and some pear on the nose all blending quite nicely. On the palate I found grapefruit and papaya. This was my favorite at this winery.

Next was their 2006 Estate Chardonnay ($19.99) which is estate grown grapes and fermented for 60% in oak and 40% in stainless steel. A golden color with hayloft (but not musty, more like fresh cut hay that was just stored in the hayloft) with some earthy notes too. Honeysuckle was the predominate flavor (or at least this was all that I could get from the wine), oh and a hint of lime on the finish.

The next wine was their Rosé ($14.99) and I was mildly pleased with the final product. The grapes are imported from Chile and made with 50% Malbec and 50% Merlot. I found herbal and veggie notes on the nose with some mushroom. Then on the palate were spice and cherry flavors.

The last wine on the tasting menu was the Merlot ($16.99) which was a blend of 80% Merlot, and a 20% blend of the following: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot done in the Bordeaux style. Pepper, spice, and red cherry aromas wafted from the rim of the glass to give the taster a prelude of what to expect from the flavor. On the palate were cherry hard candy and pepper flavors.

They also have many songwriter/singer music venues as well. I might just try one this summer. See their website for dates/times as they’re usually held on the weekends.

Next week – Stonington Vineyards

Lost Acres Vineyard – 2012

Lost Acres Vineyard is new to the CT Wine Trail Passport this year and their sign indicating where I should go to enjoy a wine tasting is one of the signs I look for.

But let’s back up for a minute so you can see where the tasting room and other wine activities are conducted.

Did you notice the deck on the right side of the barn structure. Looks like a great place to spend an afternoon sipping some wine while admiring the vineyards.

And yes, this is the path leading up to the tasting room where I have never been before but am willing to take the plunge. When I entered, the tasting room was cool as it was becoming warm outside once the sun was intent on staying for awhile.

As you can see there is ample room to accommodate a lot of wine tasters either at the wine bar or in many of the tables that are set up here. Once inside one of the owners, Michelle welcomed me to the vineyard. The tasting fee is $6 including the CT state tax (I always like it when wineries include the tax within the tasting fee) for trying six wines on their menu. Plus you get their signature wine glass too. So, on to the wines and where the fun begins.

First up was their Chardonnay ($14.99) which opened with lemon, melon, and lemongrass aromas leading into citrus and apple flavors. Serve slightly chilled this was a very good wine to start of the tasting venue.

Next, I tried the Wedge White ($13.99) which is a white blend consisting of Cayuga, Chardonnay, Riesling, Seyval Blanc, Traminette, and Vidal Blanc. I found this wine to have clean crisp citrus aromas and flavors with some good acidity. This would be a great wine to have on their deck enjoying an afternoon with friends.

The next wine on their list was a fruit wine called Old Orchard Apple ($12.99) and as the name suggests you get apple aromas and flavors with a neat little tart apple finish.

The Riesling ($17.99) was next up on the tasting menu and I found lemongrass and fresh cut hay on the nose with a lingering spice cornucopia. This was a really surprising array of aromas and the flavors consisted of sweet apple and pear.

The Rock Wall Red ($15.99) was a blend of Carignane, Gamay, Merlot, and Petit Sirah. This red blend opened with plum, blackberry and jammy aromas. Much the same for the flavors but a nice spice and peppery finish followed leaving a nice mouth-feel on the palate.

The last wine on the list was the Merlot ($13.99). On the nose I found jammy blackberry and wild black cherry and on the palate I found cherry hard candy and plum flavors with a nice complement of pepper. Then I tried a chocolate morsel and this seemed to bring out the plum flavor more and as it turned out the last wine I tasted was my favorite.

If you haven’t stopped here yet, you’ll want to make the trip. One thing that I enjoy so far and I know I’ve only visited two wineries so far but how pleasant and friendly the wine staff and the tasters are so far – let’s hope that the trend continues.

Next week – Arrigoni Winery