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.

Castle Rock 2010 Pinot Noir

Grapes from the Willamette Valley revealed a semi-opaque ruby color with strawberry, spice, cherry and floral notes on the nose. This was a tremendous bouquet and really opened the wine senses. This medium-bodied Pinot found blackberrry, cherry (dominant), cinnamon and vanilla flavors on the palate. A very silky blueberry finished this delectable inexpensive red wine.

This wine was paired with roasted turkey sans the traditional trimmings of cranberry, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc., etc., etc. after the Nor’easter dropped feet, not inches, of snow on our New England abode. After all, we were way too tired from snow blowing the driveway and shoveling out the cars to go all out with Sunday dinner and seeing as we couldn’t grill out on the deck.












Ah yes, the unofficial, official snowfall amount of almost 27 inches, or 2 1/4 feet.












And to really let you know how tired we were, we even had to shovel the screened in deck so we could get to the back door.












Anyway, back to the wine. I bought this wine on sale for $8 (regular price $12.99) with a 13.5% ABV and well worth the price of a turkey dinner. I only wish I had picked up a case of this when I had the chance. I think that’s the problem with having so much wine in the cellar – not being able to get to all the wine I need to. Well, better luck next time. Hmmm, maybe when I retire…



Baker’s Dozen Jammy Pinot Noir NV

The color was a translucent red; the aroma was a mixture of red cherry, raspberry, and Concord grape juice on the nose. A concoction of fruits in a semi-sweet to sweet flavors of red raspberry, red cherry, red currant, and red plum. The brown sugary finish was limited which didn’t last very long and just fizzled out real quick but that sugary after taste lingered way too long.

I attempted to have this with a turkey, bread stuffing, garlic-mashed potatoes, and sweet potato dinner – but in my anticipation to try this before the meal I realized this would not be my wine of choice for a turkey meal.

Although there are a multitude of Pinot Noirs that would pair well with a traditional turkey dinner, the Baker’s Dozen Jammy Pinot Noir failed to produce a delectable memory for me and may have thus tarnished the traditional turkey meal for future occasions. I knew I should have opted for the Chianti and spaghetti marinara.

At $9.99 a bottle it is way below the average cost of a Pinot Noir; it was also way below in character too. This reminded me more of a dessert wine and just may have been better at the end of the meal instead of its complement. Come to think of it, this wine could substitute for the cranberry in a traditional turkey meal:) This wine tastes more like a jam than a wine. But if you like sweet wine then you’d probably like this one.

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.

Diamond Hill Vineyards

Traveling to the Northeast hills of Rhode Island I decided to take as many back roads as I could muster meanwhile prompting the GPS (of which one of my children has affectionately named Delores) well, I believe I may have upset Delores quite a bit as she kept saying “Re-calculating” over and over, but I have to hand it to her, she never lost her cool. Then I found the “setting” button where you could actually turn off certain options like “avoiding highways”. Anyway, it was an enjoyable trip after all. Then again, I can’t remember when I didn’t have a great time on any wine trip I’ve taken:)

Don’t know if you noticed the “Free Tastings” under the winery name but not often do you come across a winery that does not charge at least a few bucks for their tastings. So I was mildly pleased when I saw this on the sign to the Diamond Hill Vineyard.

On to the tasting room where you walked up the back stairs to enter the winery tasting room. The house was typical New England coastal right down to the the color gray house with white trim that often line the coastal villages along the Atlantic Ocean.

Once inside the tasting room you walked just past the wine bar which could accommodate only 2-3 tasters at a time, but I, along with several others managed quite well shuffling out wine glasses and by the way because there were no tasting fees, you didn’t get a signature wine glass either.

However, the other tasters allowed me to stay close to the wine bar as they noticed I was taking quite a few notes on each of the wines we were trying and as it was easier to utilize the wine bar than to juggle my pad, pen, and wine sample, so I was quite appreciative of this kindness. And of course they had a great little gift shop area with many wine accessories to purchase.

Claire, the sommelier and owner of the winery was a most pleasant individual complete with many stories both on the winery and other subjects. I’ll let you visit the tasting room here at Diamond Hill Vineyards to hear her stories as they were way too numerous and I couldn’t write that fast. It will be a trip worth taking. So, on to the wines that were available on the day I arrived.

2005 Pinot Noir: This dry medium ruby colored red wine opened with a cherry and raspberry aroma. Aged in French oak for one year than cellared for two more years found black cherry on the palate with a hint of raspberry on the finish.

Scarlet Run: A Merlot with no oak found raspberry and strawberry patch aromas with a blend of raspberry and strawberry flavors and a smooth silky finish with undertones of chocolate.

Cranberry Apple: The nose opens with an explosion of cranberry. It was sweet but not too sweet with a cranberry flavor with a tart apple finish. This is their best selling wine. It was very good.

River Valley White: Lemongrass and fresh cut hay on the nose led into tropical fruits flavors. I expected a lot of minerality here but didn’t get any.

Peach: Obvoiusly I got peach aromas with apricot undertones on the nose. The predominately peach flavor was more of ripe peaches at their peak of freshness. The winery recommends you have this served over chocolate or vanilla ice cream as well as fresh fruit. They also recommend putting this in a white wine Sangria – now that sounds delectable.

Blueberry: This wine is made from 100% blueberries that are organically grown on their own land. The taste was more like a Port wine with a blueberry aroma and flavor. Although I liked the Port nuances the blueberry didn’t do it for me. I guess because there was way too much blueberry for me, not that it was a bad wine but too much blueberry.

Raspberry: A lot of raspberry going on here as the aroma, flavor, and finish were all the same – raspberry. Although this did strike me more of a raspberry liqueur than a raspberry wine.

Spiced Apple: Upon first aroma I got mulled spices reminding me of New England in the autumn months especially when it’s apple picking season. The flavor was of apple pie. This was a nice tasting wine but in their wine notes it is recommended to serve this heated with a tad amount of brown sugar. This might be nice to substitute this for apple cider when using mulling spices for the autumn fall classic drink.

Entering and leaving Diamond Hill Vineyards there is a “traffic light” welcoming and thanking you for visiting as the driveway at one point is a one lane road for several hundred feet. When I first entered and saw the stop light I chuckled and had a great big smile on my face as I left.


Running Brook Vineyard & Winery Inc.

Traveling to a few of the Massachusetts wineries on a rain soaked morning with plenty of fog cover nonetheless did not “dampen my spirits” –  no pun intended until after I wrote this and realized what it said so, what the heck! It’s a been a week since I visited the Maine Coast for relaxation and the trees in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are well on their way to fall foliage. I think upper New England needs to get with the fall program.

When I embark on a wine trip I have no preconceived notions of anything, I’m just out to enjoy the day and seeing as this was Friday and I was on vacation – well, you get the picture. I usually try to visit 3-4 wineries per trip as after four wineries my palate is shot anyway and I would not be able to give you an honest assessment of the winery. So, I like to limit my winery visits to no more than four at a clip. The reason I’m rambling on is this wine trip, albeit rain soaked, was the best wine trip I’ve ever been on. And you’re wondering why this is? Blame it on the sommeliers in each of the wineries I visited – Running Brook Vineyards & Winery, Coastal Vineyards, and Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery. It was way too crowded in New Bedford to stop into Travessia Urban Winery so I’ll make another trip on a less hectic day such as a Saturday or Sunday.

You must put this on your “wineries to visit” trip list as the wines were very good but the “stories” were great. Here was my experience at Running Brook Vineyard & Winery…

This winery wasn’t much to look at but looks can be deceiving. The inside of the winery was small but was well organized.

The wine bar as you can see will accommodate several tasters at a time but I hit it on a day where I had the place all to myself. Pat, the sommelier, has a great personality and a wonderful sense of humor in the hectic hubbub of winery life. Not only was she attending to my wine samples, she was answering phones and giving me some history of the owners/winemakers. Manny and Pedro were from the Azores in Portugal. Manny is the farmer and grape grower and Pedro, a dentist by day and winemaker by night put in many hours to make the fruit of the vines come to reality for our pleasure. They produce over 2500 cases per year.

They have two properties, one in Dartmouth with 8 acres of planted vines and in Westport they have 13 acres planted. They grow Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, and Pinot Gris. And they’re all locally grown. Locally grown grapes in New England are becoming a staple of the area – so here’s my “in” to tell you to support locally produced wines.

Pat was also kind enough to share the following tidbits of information Running Brook has categorized as “frequently asked questions”.

Oak barrels

hold 225 liters (60+ gallons) yielding 24 cases which turns into 288 bottles. One tank of the delectable juice holds 500 gallons, a large tank (my favorite one) holds 1, 500 gallons=7,500 bottles=625 cases=10 tons. Wow, now you’re talking some numbers.

Oh, I’m not stopping here:


One ton makes 150 gallons of wine.

1 grape cluster=75 grapes=1 glass of wine

4 clusters=1 bottle

40 clusters=1 vine=10 bottles (now we’re getting somewhere)

1200 clusters=30 vines=1 barrel=60 gallons

400 vines=1 acre=5 tons

5 tons=332 cases

Okay, on to the wines they produced. There was no tasting fee for trying the nine wines they had for offerings then again you did not get a signature wine glass either.

2010 Unoaked Chardonnay: I found pear and apple on the nose which continued onto the forward palate with good acidity on the finish.

2008 Chardonnay: This is 60% oaked and 40% unoaked which I found much the same as I did with the 2010 unoaked Chardonnay but I did detect a bit of apricot on the nose and this could be why I preferred this over the unoaked Chardonnay. Note: they will soon be releasing a Reserve Chardonnay (see above oak barrel marked 82 W) – it may be worth the two hour trip to taste this.

2008 Pinot Gris: A floral nose with citrus notes on the palate. This semi-dry full bodied white wine had a crisp clean finish.

2008 Vidal Blanc: Kitchen fruit bowl aroma with an emphasis on pear and apricot lead into a tropical fruit flavor on the palate. This was very nice and I can envision having this on a warm evening on the deck with spicy Thai cuisine.

2010 Vidal Blanc: Bartlett pear aroma and flavor. This was somewhat sweeter than the 2008 version. It had minimal acidity on the back palate.

2007 Pinot Noir: Cherry blossom aroma (if you’ve ever been to Washington, D.C. in April you’ll know what I mean) with a hint of bell pepper. The aromas were a nice combination. On the palate I experienced cherry hard candy and a hint of fig with a chocolate finish. A very nice sipping wine.

2010 Cabernet Franc: Black cherry and blackberry awaken your senses before leading into a black cherry flavor with a subtle hint of white pepper. I liked this one.

2007 Auslesen (OWZ-lay-zun): Honey and golden raisin was found both on the nose and palate. This semi-sweet dessert wine had a lot of character with just two distinct aromas/flavors of honey and golden raisin. I don’t know what they did to make this dessert wine pop the way it did but this knocked my socks off. And yes, I did get a bottle of this. For me, this was the gem of the winery.

2010 Frost: This is a late harvest dessert wine made from the Vidal Blanc grapes which are left on the vine for a “couple” of frosts. I found subtle hints of pear and candied apple on the nose with sweet apple on the palate. It had a nice balance between sweetness and acidity.

Special Edition For Turkey Day.

Most of us celebrate Thanksgiving in one form or another, that is either with a lot of wine or with none at all. If you’re in the latter category this post isn’t going to help you one bit. But for those of you that relish the thought of good wine with good turkey here are some of my favorites. I have found that all of these wines go well with the traditional turkey dinner and all the trimmings.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law host the most magnificent turkey dinner on earth. Wine was made for their dinner table amidst ample appetizers, homemade soups (I’m a chicken noodle from the can kind of guy) but my brother-in-law can make some pretty interesting soups that even I can be persuaded to try and they’re usually real good, along with an assortment of breads, and numerous delectable desserts. They conduct the Thanksgiving dinner around a special theme of which we are not privy to until the precise moment.

The most memorable one was a 60’s theme where everyone came as hippies, flower children, and rock stars except for the turkey day hosts who masqueraded as the parents of the hippies, flower children, and rock stars – ingenious comes to mind. Who would of thought to come as the parents. It is one of the most memorable days of the year where when it’s over you can say “yeah, I was there”. So, without further ado, this post is dedicated to family for without them we are lost souls – I’m fortunate to have a soul.

If you don’t mind sharing, post your favorite/ideal turkey dinner and let’s compare notes. Maybe we could create the ultimate turkey meal with a combination of everyone’s favorites.

Okay, on with the favorite wines for Thanksgiving…

Sharpe Hill 2004 Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay. A rich golden color is the opening act for pear, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon aromas leading to apricot and nectarine flavors leaving a delicate buttery and mineral finish. $18.99 and a 90 rating.

Chateau Souverain 2002 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Mixed berry aroma and a hint of spice on the nose with raspberry and black cherry flavors and a smooth delicate finish. $25.00, 91 rating. Although this is pricey I believe you will find most Pinot Noirs to be that way.

David Bruce 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Very similar to the above wine but a $30 price tag, 91 rating.

Stephen Vincent 2006 Pinot Noir. Mixed berry notes on the nose with cherry and raspberry flavors with a hint of mocha. $19.99, 88 rating.

Concha Y Toro 2005 Casillero del Diablo Carmenere. Chocolate and coffee aromas lead to intense spice, raspberry and cassis flavors. A nice mocha and spice finish. $8.99, 89 rating (yes, Cousin Carl & Sparing Sharon- this is for you).

Cline Cellars 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Gris. A floral aroma gives way to pear and apple flavors with a peachy finish. $12.00, 87 rating (this is for Jacuzzi Jack).

Here’s a bonus wine for the happy turkey day festivities.

14 Hands 2008 Hot To Trot Red Blend. This wine exhibits mulberry, blackberry, and earthy aromas gracefully yielding to black cherry and clove flavors with a smooth mocha finish. $9.00, 89 rating. An excellent low priced red (for Mike’s Cellar Emporium).

Enjoy your day with family and friends so we all can keep our souls close to us.

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


Cooking At Home

Okay, I’m still on my quest, inspired by Cousin Carl, to find low priced reds. By the way, Carl what is your idea of low priced reds? Under $20, under $15,  under $10, do I dare decrease the price any further?

Although I’m not as familiar with French wines as I am with North American wines I still have a propensity to learn more in both countries. Come to think of it I can still learn more about wines from the following countries also: Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and yes, Mike, Australia. Are there other wines from around the world we should be looking at? How about Germany, Japan, Greece, New Zealand? More???

Perrin Reserve 2003 Cotes Du Rhone. This French wine blended of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mouvedre, 10% Cinsault provided a peppery and spice aroma yielding a black cherry flavor with a hint of blueberry. A great wine to watch a movie with. I did not try this with food but I’m sure the possibilities are endless. Grilled meats come to mind whether you grill chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, game dishes. Yummy, I’m beginning to think I should have had this with food instead, ah another rating then. Someone try this with food and tell me if it went well or is this a better stand-alone wine.  $12.99, 87 rating.

As I was chopping mushrooms, onions (pearl & white), and draining fresh peas whilst my wife was painting a fresh look in our living area, we decided to open this sparkling wine on a whim. This is why my wife is the handy person and I prefer to cook and taste wine. Why you ask? Well, my wife has always had a level head, of course as long as she doesn’t drink too much wine and when I drink too much wine I can’t paint for beans but I can still cook and taste more wine : ))

Villa Yolanda NV Prosecco. This Italian sparkling wine provides maraschino cherry, ripe pear (most likely a Bartlett) and apricot on the nose and very profound. The palate discovered ripe pear and tropical fruits with a smooth bubbly finish. Have this with anything you like. I find that flavored liqueurs such as strawberry, pear, peach, or black currant pare pear pair well with this wine. Boy, I’m glad I never entered a spelling be, bee (Me thinks I’ve had too much wine..)-  Spelling is worse than rating wine. Don’t you agree? Well, this comes in a convenient 200 ml bottle (part of a three-pack) for $12 and is a great alternative to the more expensive champagne of which I will discuss in future reviews as well as other inexpensive sparkling wines. 89 Rating.

Next on my list of wines is a Laetitia 2005 Arroyo Grande Valley Pinot Noir. Black cherry, spiced clove, and hints of smoked bacon. Raspberry plum flavor with a distinct cherry hard candy finish. This bottle was a gift so I don’t know the price (although I don’t believe it will fall into Cousin Carl’s low priced reds category). However, I do give this a 92 rating – a great Pinot Noir!

We paired this with Perdue’s Italian seasoned perfect portions boneless chicken breasts, a medley of fresh peas, shallots, and pearl onions. Sauteed mushrooms in white wine, sauteed white onions in olive oil, and leftover rice pilaf and broccoli & cheese ravioli rounded out this meal.


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