Summer Whites for Sipping & Dinner

I recently purchased a couple of white wines that were fairly inexpensive (both under $12) that I wanted for those summer afternoons that were on the hot side. The past couple of weekends in New England have been just that and seeing as I’m sort of like a lizard on a rock, this is my kind of weather.

The first wine we tried was a Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc. This Stellenbosch South African wine was pale yellow in color with pear, pineapple, banana and melon fruit aromas which was quite pleasing. It followed with pear, grapefruit and green apple flavors which was much different than the aromas but again quite pleasing. Serve it well-chilled and savor on the deck while enjoying a warm summer eve with a slight breeze. It’s good for the soul. This one gets 8 WG.

Matua 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

The second wine was a light green color with yellow hues (I think it was the way the sun reflected off the glass).  Aromas of sage, mint, and baled hay (think summer time on the Kansas plains) with a concoction of herbs on the nose. Flavors of pineapple, melon, and lemon were dominant with citrus notes on the back palate. This wine was fantastic and has become a quick favorite of mine and I’ll remember to pick up a case the next time I visit the wine merchant.

We paired this wine (again, serve well-chilled) with marinated boneless, chicken breast (recipe for marinade below), steamed long grain rice, and a medley of veggies (broccoli, snap peas, orange & red bell peppers, red scallions) slightly sauteed in California olive oil, then by adding a 1/2 cup water at the end to steam them in the wok. The recipe for the chicken marinade follows and measurements are approximate as I really didn’t measure, except by eye & taste. This wine is worth a 9 1/2 WG rating.

Recipe for two chicken breasts:

  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup BBQ sauce (I used a Texas hot sauce)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tsp cracked black pepper
  • Frank’s hot sauce to taste (I would guess, maybe a tsp or two)

Marinate the chicken breasts for around 4 hours, then cook out on the grill basting the marinade during cooking – approx. 25-35 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken. Enjoy!!

 

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…

Mawson’s Hill Block 3 Wrattonbully 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

If you’ve followed this blog long enough then you know I’m not a big fan of Australian wines. I have a tough time wrapping my arms around them. Many of my oenophile friends keep telling me I have to try this one or that one but I never seem to get the chance. So I picked this one on a whim with a cost of around $20 and an ABV of 14.5%.

The Wrattonbully wine region is in Southern Australia’s Limestone Coast which is in the southeastern corner of the state bordering Victoria. The red wines from this region are the mainstay of the Wrattonbully region. The Cabernet Sauvignon varietal is the most planted with Shiraz and Merlot right behind it.

I bought this particular bottle for two reasons. One being I’ve heard good things about the Wrattonbully region and of course the other being that I’m still prodded by my fellow oenophiles to keep trying Australian wines as they’re confident I’ll find one I like eventually.

I may have just found it. This is a medium bodied red wine with nice tannins. On the nose were aromas of mint (yeah, go figure), berry flavors with hints of minerals and earthy notes. The flavors were of elderberry, mulberry, dark berry, and plum. We had this with Bison burgers and it was a good match.

 

 

Root 1 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

This bold red wine is produced in the Colchagua Valley in Chile and has a 13.5% ABV with a price tag of around $14 give or take a few bucks. This started with black currant, blackberry, licorice, smoked bacon, leather and earth notes on the nose. For me this is some pretty good aromas to start off with.

Once I was done wafting in the aromas, I found blueberry, blackberry, dark cherry, and mocha flavors with a hint of licorice and light pepper. A mix of mocha and chocolate on the back palate and finish rounded out the tasting on this wine.

We paired this with a beef stir fry with crunchy broccoli, snap peas, onions, green pepper, celery and mushrooms over long grain rice.

Root 1 does have a Carmenere that is supposed to be pretty good so I need to find a bottle of this and try it. If any of you have tried the Carmenere – please drop me a note and let me know what you experienced.

Nicosia 2010 Nero D’Avola

The Nero D’Avola grape varietal is one of my favorites and I’m particularly fond of Italian wines and the wine label was written entirely in Italian so I couldn’t resist buying it. I was able to translate about half of it as my Italian is limited to the darker side of speech (due to my grandparents always cussing at each other in Italian, hence I got to learn those words quite well) but nonetheless I was able to put the correct proper words from Italian to English. However, if I thought of it I could have used any one of a multitude of apps that would have done the translation easier and probably in a fraction of the time it took me to work it out.

The Nicosia 2010  sells for around $14 and has an ABV of 12.5%, rather low on the red wine scale but very tasty nonetheless. The wine was a dark ruby color with a purpleish rim which on a young wine yielded dark plum, spice, chocolate, and a hint of pepper, but not too peppery on the nose. The palate however exhibited more of a red fruit concoction of red plum, red raspberry, red cherry with nuances of earth notes and pepper accents on the finish.

This was quite an enjoyable wine as we paired this with sausage al forno and it fit perfectly with the acidity of the sauce and the sweetness of the sausage topped with Romano cheese (me), or Parmesan cheese (my better half), or shredded Mozzarella would have also sufficed (next time). Enjoy the wine and the food.

Cupcake 2011 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

You might not think Cupcake is a traditional winery name but they are producing some pretty good wines. A case in point is this New Zealand rendition of a Sauvignon Blanc. A zesty white wine that is refreshing and not one that I figured I’d be drinking in the dead of winter. All we need to do is get through March and this wine made me think of spring so it should be only a few short weeks before you could enjoy this out on the deck on a warm spring day.

The wine was a pale yellow-green color and upon placing this into my Riedel wine glass reserved for white wine, the aromas wafted immediately the moment I started pouring. I found lemon, lime, grapefruit and citrus notes with the lime & lemon being the most dominant. It reminded me of a Prosecco but without the bubblies.

On the palate the flavors consisted of key lime, fresh tart lemon, and more citrus notes. On the finish I thought I detected lemon chiffon cake, smooth, slightly tart and creamy and wishing for another piece – maybe I was just imagining this or thought this in a dream. At an average price of $14 this was a wonderful wine to pair with fish & chips or whole belly clams from your local seafood shop – we did!

 

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.

 

Messapicus 2001 Primitivo di Manduria

I picked this wine up on a recommendation from the wine store I visit on occasion. It cost $12 and has an alcohol by volume of 14%.

Although I’ve had this for awhile (I still have about 60 bottles of wine in my cellar that I have yet to try) I figured now was as good a time as any.

Once poured it exhibited a deep purple color with nose notes reminiscent of black licorice, tar, leather, and earthy tones.  So far, so good.

On the palate I found blackberry, dark plum, black raspberry with a hint of dark cherries. It did have a nice velvety smooth finish but it didn’t last as long as I would have hoped for.

I had this stand alone so I would presume this would go with hearty pasta dishes, game meats, lamb (although I can think of some other wines in my cellar I would prefer with lamb).

The wine was good but it didn’t quite hit my flavor palate so the value of the wine for the price is lower than average.