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.

 

 

 

Domaine Mas Du Bouquet 2009 Vacqueyras

This Grand Vin de la Vallée du Rhone red blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre sells for $16 and has an ABV of 14.5%.

The Domaine Mas Du Bouquet 2009 Vacqueyras was a nice surprise as I had no preconceived notions when I purchased this wine – I’m getting better at this as I get older & wiser.

Aromas of dark cherry, dark plum, dark raspberry – dark berry in general wafted its way to the ‘ol schnozzola. Not sure if I was having a really good day or a really bad day with the aromas but dark berry was the call of the day.

Flavors of elderberry, boysenberry, fig, and yes, dark berries found a smooth dark chocolate cherry cordial finish. This had some nice acidity and I noticed this tasted much better the second day, so maybe I’ll open this up for a while in the future before pouring into my glass. Or at the very least through the aerator (which I neglected to do) to open up the aromas and flavors a bit more. But a very nice, decent wine for the price.

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

 

3000 BC 2009 Luscious Scarlett

Summer has finally arrived here in the Northeast. Mother nature certainly took her time – but I’m grateful. Although many believe a clean, crisp white wine fits the bill for a sipping wine while relaxing on the deck with the ideal temperatures and humidity, I still like my reds. The Luscious Scarlett is a South African Stellenbosch blend of 56% Shiraz and 44% Cabernet Sauvignon.

After aerating the wine I went through the ritual of swirling it several times while taking in the aromas each time. On the nose I found ripe plum, black cherry, blackberry, fig and anise. This took several moments as I was really enjoying swirling and sniffing. If anyone passing by would certainly think twice before knocking on the screen door. You know how we wine wannabes can be.

Now it was on to the flavors. Jammy plum, elderberry, boysenberry and fig on the palate with a nice peppery finish. Once the pepper dissipated a velvety chocolate truffle appeared on the back palate which was a nice surprise. It was a lot more than I envisioned – but isn’t that the best part of drinking wine?

Although I tend to drink a bit more white wine in the summer months I did relax on the deck with a glass of this wine reading Wine & War by Don & Petie Kladstrup and their description of the battle for France’s greatest treasure during WWII – wine!

The wine sells for around $14 and the ABV is 14%. Anytime you get a decent wine for under $15 it’s usually worth it.

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

Jacqueline Bahue 2012 Red Angel

Here is another selection I received from Naked Wines. I was mildly surprised with the Jacqueline Bahue Rosé I reviewed a couple of posts ago. And I’m not a real big Rosé fan but hope to try this one again in the summer while out on the deck.

Well, back to this red blend and I’m not sure what this wine’s blend varietals are but I’d guess it contains the major varietals we all see in most red blends. This opened on the nose with mostly a black berry aroma with a hint of Bing cherry. The flavors were of black berry with hints of berry jam and black cherry. There was some oak in the flavor.

This did not pique my interest a whole lot and doubt I would purchase again. Not that it isn’t worth it, but it’s that I have tried so many really good wines that are as good if not better and for the same price (around $10).

This has a screw top as did all the wines I received from Naked Wines. With a 14.2% ABV it had decent tannins and an okay balance. I had this stand alone so I don’t know if it would have gone better with food or not.

 

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…

 

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.

 

Tommasi Rafael 1999 Classico Superiore Valpolicella

It’s been awhile, but now that the holidays are behind me for another year and I’m not on any extended business trips and the inevitable recycled air gushing through the aircraft’s well-designed “air circulators” doesn’t get me sicker than a dog I should be able to get back to one of my passions – you got it, drinking wine.

I don’t mind going on business trips for a couple of weeks at a time. But the aftermath of plane rides is what throws me underground for a spell.  First it’s rush to get to the airport, pay $25 for checked baggage, take everything out of your pockets per the TSA agent at the security checkpoint including my belt and removing my shoes has been second nature to say the least, then raise your hands above your head only to be pulled out of the line and asked by the TSA agent in an accusatory tone “What do you have in your left pocket?”

By nature, I’m a bit of a smart _ss but I know when not to be one. And this isn’t one of those times to be a smart _ss. I replied rather seriously “Nothing, the other TSA agent asked that I remove everything from my pockets, so I’m curious as to what your X-Ray picked up”. Of course I didn’t get a response but did get a pat down from the top of my left shoulder to my left ankle paying special attention to my left pocket. Then he said to “Move On” in the same tone as Yul Brenner said to Eli Wallach in “the Magnificent Seven” when he told him to “Ride On”. I’ve decided never to fly on a plane again (except maybe for going across the pond)!

Okay, I’m off my soapbox and on to the wine.

A blend of Corvina, Molinara, and Rondinella grapes from the Rafael vineyard makes this Valpolicella a delectable red wine. And one that I have not had in awhile. The last time I had this wine it would have been considered a young wine. Upon opening this and pouring it through an aerator to open the bouquet a bit I noticed the wine was a dark ruby color with an orange-brown hue on the rim of the wine. So far I’m happy with what I see.

On the nose I found a lot of cherry and fresh ripe plum – lots of fresh ripe plum, maybe some blackberries too. On the first taste, juicy plum was the dominating flavor with dark cherry and black currant. On subsequent sips the flavors were more dark cherry with hints of blueberry. The finish was very smooth and velvety. If I remember correctly this tasted as good as when I tried this as a young wine in the early 2000’s. So, this seemed to cellar quite well.  Unfortunately I won’t be able to see how this cellars for another five years or so as I’m all out of the 1999 vintage. As a matter of fact, I’m out of the wine altogether. Guess I’ll have to buy several bottles of another vintage and start the experiment all over again.

We paired this with grilled chicken, spaghetti squash, and steamed broccoli. To my surprise it went very well with this meal although I’m sure it would go well with red meat and red sauce pasta dishes too. At only 12.5% ABV this wine still packed a punch or is this because I haven’t had wine in awhile, or am I still reeling over the TSA experience? Reasonably priced at $21.

 

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.

Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery – 2012

Traveling to Paradise Hills Vineyard brings you to what you think is a residential area giving you reason to believe the GPS isn’t working quite well. But if you persevere you’ll find yourself in front of the wine barrel with the winery’s name on the front. And when you think otherwise, a sign points you in the right direction.

These are the signs I like to see  and after following the hand crafted sign I found my self right in the parking lot with the adobe style tasting room.

 

As you can see I had the place all to myself and could wander around at will and decided to visit the vines before entering the tasting room. I must say the grapes look enticing but seeing as I am a patient individual I can wait for the finished product.

Once inside the tasting room I was met by Richard, one of the owners as the wine staff for the tasting. The tasting fee is $8.00 for the five wines they have on the wine menu. You do not get a signature glass but their wine glasses are clearly 20 ounce or better wine glasses. I’m particularly fond of this venue as it really provides ample room to swirl the wine and get the full potential of the wine’s aroma and flavor. I have a gazillion wine glasses anyway and not getting another one wouldn’t bother me at all.

Before the tasting begins Richard gave me a run down of the history of the place (which I did not write down verbatim, so you’ll have to visit them and get the whole story) including the visit from George Washington traveling through the winery hillsides and the family initial above the wine bar. Then we got into the wines.

Washington Trail White ($18): A strong green apple aroma led into apple and tart pear on the palate. This was clean and crisp with a lingering finish. This is one you’ll want to serve well-chilled.

Chardonnay ($24.99): This is produced from Estate grown grapes which happen to be the ones I decided to visit (see previous picture of grapevines) before I entered the tasting room. This had apricot and honey on the nose with strawberry and citrus flavors and was served quite chilled. A bit more than I like my Chardonnay but good nonetheless.

After tasting the two white wines, Richard produced a new glass for the red wine tasting.

Trio ($22.99): A red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Carmenere revealed a mocha and cherry aroma which was quite pleasing to the ‘ol schnozzola. On the palate were chocolate and wild berry flavors with hints of pepper on the finish.

Riomonte ($22.99): This red blend was very similar to the Trio minus the Cabernet Saivignon but with an additional pronounced plum aroma and flavor. A slight peppery finish and after a few sips a chocolate flavor found its way to the back palate.

Cayuga White ($20.99): This opened with lemongrass and hints of peach on the nose. Semi- sweet flavors of melon, honeysuckle, peach and apricots on the palate.

In the event you want to stay for awhile grab your self a glass or bottle of your favorite Paradise Hills wine and sit out on the patio watching the grapes grow.