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.

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…

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…

 

Castellani Poggio Al Casone La Cattura 2006 Toscana

I’m not that familiar with the Teroldego (teh-ROHL-deh-goh) grape varietal so I found that this grape is very similar to the Zinfandel grape varietal. Most of the research I have done on this points to the growing region of Trentino-Alto-Adige in northeast Italy. Although it is considered to be a warm climate grape it thrives in the sunny patches of northern Italy. I know, I’m stumped too!

However, the La Cattura hails from the Tuscany region (in the wine guru world I gather this is not normal) and is aged in oak barrels for 12 months, this red wine is a blend of 90% Teroldego and 10% Syrah and has a deep purple color which opened with plum, raspberry, blackberry, and black & white pepper notes on the nose.

The flavors were of raspberry, cherry hard candy, ripe plum, coffee, strawberry jam, and hints of clove. This really had a lot going for it, in my mind anyway which is fodder for another story in the future 🙂

Pair this with almost any grilled meat – beef, pork, lamb, chicken. This wine goes well with pasta and marinara sauce. But my favorite is with pasta fagioli. I prefer the pasta fagioli with ditalini instead of farfalle, elbows, or any other small pasta they choose to use.

This just might be a staple on the table in this household as it is great at room temperature or 60-65 degrees. This bottle cost me $14.99 so it is an affordable wine to keep stocked in my wine cellar. I knew my rabbit’s foot I won at the Carnival was going to be lucky one day!

Les Trois Emme

I was getting to the end of my day for wine tasting and Les Trois Emme was my last stop of the day. Located in Southwestern Massachusetts in the Berkshires, it was quite a drive from where I had to be for the evening but it was worth the stop. I spent about 2 hours and 15 minutes here and it will go down in my top memorably wine experiences.

When I first walked in this is what caught my eye right off the bat.

Disregard the pad and pen off to the right of the table as this wasn’t supposed to “get in” the picture. (Note to self: Pay more attention to where you place the writing instruments). I immediately enjoyed the color scheme of the purple walls and the green doors. The only thing missing is the black ceiling I remember from my college days.

I was greeted by a lady named Mary Jane and she came right up to me and wanted to know if I’d like to do a wine tasting. You know what my answer was. But before we got to the wine we took a walk in the back where they make and bottle the wines. Although I have been to many of the back rooms and they are all quite similar, it amazes me how each winery I visit, add their own charm to the surroundings.  I must have left my camera out in the tasting room area as I do not have any pictures of where the wine is made. (Note to self: pay more attention to where your camera is).

During my conversation with Mary Jane, she commented that the name of the winery was named after her first three granddaughters – Megan, Madison, and Mary Katherine – hence, Les Trois Emme. Mary Jane, with a pleasing voice, began telling me “stories” about a lot of interesting subjects. I was so mesmerized with the “stories” that I forgot to write them down. (Note to self: pay more attention to capturing the “stories” you hear).

Normally you get around five wines for a $6 fee but somewhere along the line it was decided I would get to taste all of their wines and do the food parings as well. I forgot to write down all of the food I paired with which wines (Note to self: pay more attention to food & wine pairings). About this time Mary Jane’s husband, Wayne (he’s the chemist), came in for a quick visit and we also chatted for a spell – no, I didn’t write what we talked about – yeah, I know “Note to self” time.

Okay, on to the wines I tasted and yes, I did remember to write my impressions of the wine as I tasted each one:

Kiyo’s Sparkling Wine – $20: This was a semi-sweet sparkler made from the Chenin Blanc grape. I found pear with a hint of apple on the nose with pear and apple on the palate. This was a very nice sparkling wine.

Splash of White – $16: A blend of several white wines from French-American hybrids, this opened with an apricot nose. Megan (not one of the granddaughters, but the wine staff and a radio host) gave me a shrimp cake that had sweet potatoes, cumin, and red bell pepper as the ingredients. This went very well with this wine which had a pear flavor.

Cayuga White – $16: This is one of their medal winners and it was predominately pear and apple aromas and flavors. This was paired with a pot sticker (don’t ask for the ingredients as I didn’t write it down).

Nick Jackson Blush – $16: A blend of 90% Cayuga and 10% Marechal Foch produced pear on the nose with red cherry on the palate with a slight peppery finish.

Julia’s Ruby Red – $18: Red berries on the nose and palate, this was served well chilled and had a bit of sweetness to it. This was paired with a quesadilla.

Shiraz-Cabernet – $18: 60% Shiraz and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon began with plum and boysenberry on the nose. On the palate I got plum and black cherry with a slight peppery finish.

Old Vine Zinfandel – $25: On the nose were hints of black and red cherry followed by red cherry and raspberry flavors. I liked this one a lot and was probably my favorite of all the wines.

Malbec – $20: I paired the other half of the quesadilla with this. Raspberry on both the nose and palate with a slight mocha finish.

Cabernet Sauvignon – $22: This had black cherry all over it. Although one dimensional it was quite tasty.

Berkshire Red- $18: This blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec produced mostly black berry fruit aromas and flavors.

Stingy Jack’s Pumpkin Wine- $16: I got pumpkin rind aroma, like when you’re carving a pumpkin for the Trick or Treaters, but not too overpowering. A subtle pumpkin flavor unlike a pumpkin ale which is way too much pumpkin flavor for me. This was a bit softer. It was paired with a warm pumpkin soup and it went very well. The wine complemented the soup tremendously.

Wizard’s Cranberry Wine – $16: A semi-dry wine infused with cranberry, hence you’ll get cranberry on the nose and palate.

As you can see from the above picture is was fairly light when I first arrived, however when I left, darkness had taken over the whiner-mobile. Their wine is made from the grapes that are located on their three acres in the vineyards as well as six acres from the Finger Lakes Region. They produce just over 2500 cases a year and Mary Jane is the taster and when she says says it’s ready, then it gets bottled. I’m going to take her word for it. (Note to self: take time to revisit Les Trois Emme).

Le Coq Rouge 2010 Pays d’Oc

A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Grenache, 10% Merlot, and 10% Syrah, this French red was chosen merely because I liked the label, nothing more – nothing less. This wine wasn’t overly complicated but it did whet the palate.

On the nose were black and red cherry, herbs, and pepper aromas. The palate found much the same but heavier on the black berry fruits. This finished with a chocolate nuance. I also thought I detected a touch of vanilla too but was very subtle, almost unnoticeable.

Given the price ($8.99, I’ve seen this as high as $12.99, guess I was lucky) this was more enjoyable as I did not have any preconceived notions about it seeing as I chose this for the label only. You can find their wines at Sacha Lichine wines to get more information on other wines they produce.

We paired this with a penne pesto and chicken – I know what you’re thinking but it went very well with the meal, so don’t be afraid to experiment with other food choices. I’ll try this wine again when I get ready to fire up the old gas grill and slap a couple of burgers (probably Bison burgers) or maybe a good steak would do well too.

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.

Chateau Sainte Eulalie 2007 Minervois La Liviniere

The Chateau Sainte Eulalie wine is a blend of 55% Syrah, 20% Grenache, and 25% Carignan with a dark red color producing aromas that were woody, smoky, toasty, Sneezy, Bashful, and Doc (ah, strike the last three) and ripe red fruits on the nose was quite pleasing.

I’m finding French wines are more enjoyable as I get older (no jokes about aging – the older it gets the better it is, etc, etc, etc) and I’m not sure why but I like it. This wine had a medium bodied structure to it with flavors of black cherry, red cherry and plum prevailing with nuances of smoke and pepper. I enjoyed this with spaghetti and marinara sauce. Priced at $14.99.