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.

 

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

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

Toasted Head 2009 Untamed Red, Barrel Aged

Toasted Head used to be produced by RH Phillips but not sure if that is still the case today. Toasted Head may be under its own nowadays. I tried researching it a bit and didn’t come up with a whole lot of information other than from a staff writer, Melanie Turner at the Sacramento Business Journal that RH Phillips was closing Sept 1, 2009. The Toasted Head brand was to be produced by Mondavi at the Woodbridge region near Lodi.  Not sure if that actually happened as this wine was quite good.

The blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, and Petit Syrah is a well kept secret as I also tried to research the percentages of each varietal but to no avail. But alas, perseverance paid off and I was able to locate Toasted Head’s wine blog and here I found an article by Todd Ziemann titled “How to fit Untamed Red into a bottle” where I found the percentages of the red blend. It was comprised of 50% Syrah, 27% Zinfandel, 13% Petit Sirah, 9% Tempranillo, and 1% Carignan.

On the nose I got black cherry, black currant, fig, smoke, and bacon notes. On the palate I found black and red cherry, black licorice, spice, and pepper flavors with a nice cocoa finish. I enjoyed this wine stand alone and it was actually better the second night. It is reasonably priced at $9.99. I had originally given this wine 7 1/2 wine glasses but changed it to 8 WG due to the improvement of taste on the second night.

What Was Your First Car?

The first car I ever owned was a Midnight Blue Pontiac Tempest with the slant six which had a lot of power and was priced much cheaper than my most sought after car – the GTO. However I learned to drive on a 1954 Chevy Bel Air with a three speed on the column. It didn’t take me long to drive it right into a tree stump ending an aspiring race around the tobacco field. Geez and I was leading all the way too. Back to the Tempest. This car was in pristine shape until one night my father woke me up from a sound sleep (you know, the way teenagers are supposed to sleep – don’t wake me till noon). Well a little after midnight, more like after 2 am during the Christmas holidays I can feel someone shaking me right out of my dream and I visioned that my father was hovering over me like I had been in a deep coma (did we snore as teenagers? It’s been so long I forget). Anyway, I manage to open my eyes and realize I wasn’t dreaming at all and my father really was hovering over me. He said “Get up, someone just smashed into your car”. Of course as a teenager you never believed your parents about anything, after all they were old weren’t they? It took several minutes for me to realize my dad was telling me the truth and I got dressed and found the guy who smashed into it was right in our living room drunk out of his mind. I mean, I probably wouldn’t have been so mad if at least I had wrapped it around a tree stump (see earlier note about tree stumps). Come to find out after reviewing the wreckage the drunk guy couldn’t move away from my car (which he tried to do by the way) as his right front fender was wrapped around my left rear bumper hampering his alleged and proposed get-away. As a result of this I received a minor settlement (which wasn’t much) and I went out and bought a cheap ’62 Chevy Bel Air which didn’t even have a key (bought it for $50 which was a lot of money back in the ’60’s) so I had to leave the car in the on position. To start the run down heap I would take a screwdriver and open the hood and hit the starter to get it going. I swear I put more oil in the junk than I did gas. What was it 4G’s said? “oh, the humanity” So, what did I learn from all this? Well, for one don’t park your car on the street, don’t lose any sleep over it, and don’t buy any junk cars.

Well, can you remember what your first car was? Any good or not so good memories?

If you fall into any of the above categories here are a couple of wines to make things a bit better – but don’t drive after you had the wine.

Line 39 2009 North Coast Petite Sirah. Tobacco, clove, and black cherry aromas lead into plum, black cherry, and cassis flavors on the palate. A really nice black berry finish with a hint of mocha (I’m beginning to think this might be dessert). $9.99, 84 rating. This was served with corned beef, cabbage, and carrots.

Chateau St. Jean 2003 Sonoma County Gewurztraminer. Peach, grapefruit, and floral notes on the nose with peach and mango flavors with a smooth honey finish. $16.99, 85 rating. Paired this with angel hair pesto pasta with chicken, red and yellow bell peppers, broccoli, and yellow squash.

Esser 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. Black cherry, clove, smoked bacon, and pepper aromas awakened the palate to subtle cherry and pepper flavors. $8.99, 83 rating. This wine was consumed as a stand alone wine, but would surmise this to go well with steaks, lamb, grilled burgers, and the like.