RH Phillips 2000 Dunnigan Hills Cabernet Sauvignon

This bottle of RH Phillips Dunnigan Hills (sorry about the blurry picture) still had a real cork closure and not the screw tops this particular brand went to. I can remember the last time I opened this bottle of wine and it was pretty good. Although this wine was good it didn’t have the intensity it did when I opened another bottle about a decade ago.

I think I bought two of these back ten years ago and the first bottle was pretty good. And if you know me at all you know I can be very patient when it comes to cellaring wine to see how it ages throughout the years.

When you have high hopes for a brand of wine, you sometimes wait a bit too long to open a bottle of wine. I should have opened this a few years ago but it was still a decent wine as it didn’t disappoint with red cherry, red currant and red plum aromas.

On the palate I found flavors of red & black cherry, red & black currant, and red & dark plum. The flavors were decent enough but as I mentioned earlier the intensity and “pop’ of the wine was lacking.

Again, we paired this wine with a beef tenderloin with a baked potato and green beans & steamed broccoli. No dessert followed much to our chagrin but hey we don’t always have a dessert after a good meal. I just need to get better at knowing when to open a cellared bottle of wine.

Guess I need more experience, huh?

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.

 

Beringer 2007 Chenin Blanc

Seeing as summer is still here I like sipping on white wines (although you know reds are tops with me) and on this occasion on a warm sunny afternoon on the deck a white wine fit the bill. The Beringer 2007 Chenin Blanc has an alcohol by volume of 12.5% and cost me $6.99 back about five years ago. I’ll presume it’s a bit more today than five years ago. And yes, I’ve has this for 5 years and was wondering if I kept this too long.

I’m not opposed to decanting white wine but don’t think I’ve ever done this. I have on occasion poured it through a wine aerator and this wine took a while to open up. I probably sniffed this for a dozen times or more and initially got apricots on the nose but again sniffing it a dozen times and then running it through an aerator I picked up some nectarine, lemon peel and cantaloupe. The cantaloupe is what really did it for me and the aromas were quite pleasing to the ‘ol snozzola.

On the palate were flavors of orange zest, pear, apricot and hints of citrus. The finish was clean and crisp which is something I look for in a summer sipping wine. We happened to have the wine with Cajun sea scallops (yes, my own recipe). So, if you’re looking for a pretty decent white wine for a summer afternoon out in the backyard this will definitely not break the bank.

7 Deadly Zins 2007 Lodi Zinfandel

I’ve tried a lot of Zinfandel over the years and every once in a while you come across one that just brightens up your “spirits”. Upon uncorking this wine the color was a deep, dark ruby hue. With a 14.5% ABV a full-bodied old vine zinfandel was just the right wine to pick on a chilly winter weekend while the forecast of getting a few more inches of snow to cover what we already received from Storm Charlotte loomed overhead.

On the nose the 7 Deadly Zins produced aromas of blackberry, black currant, black cherry, earthy notes, cola (yeah, strange but true), and spice. The bouquet was quite pleasing and was a prelude to the flavors I was about to experience. On the palate, raisins, blackberry, spice, walnut, and red currant were the prevalent flavors and the finish was of red raspberries and black pepper. A touch of blueberry finished off this tasting and it lasted for an eternity.

Now the question was what to pair this “zinful” zinfandel with. My initial thoughts were grilled lamb, Filet Mignon, or a Porterhouse steak. Nah, too complicated for a Saturday evening. So, I decided on sauteed onions and Black Angus pastrami on a grinder roll topped with Baby Swiss cheese. It may not sound like much but this was the perfect pairing. The succulent combination of a Spanish onion and the pastrami with the peppery-ness of the zinfandel worked exceptionally well.

The next time you’re in the mood for a pastrami sandwich or an incredible zinfandel, why not combine the two and have an exceptionally paired food and wine experience. When you do, let me know how it was. At $17.99 for a 750 ml bottle this is reasonably priced and won’t break the bank.

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.

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

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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.

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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 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.

Geyser Peak 2003 Alexander Valley Malbec

I bought this wine back in 2005 or 2006 (not sure exactly as I didn’t record this in my wine database) and have been cellaring it since then and thought now would be a good time to open this.  After all, shouldn’t we drink our best wine first? Or is anytime a good time to drink any kind of wine? I paid $30 back then and opening it now was well worth the wait and the cost. My only regret was not getting a case of this as only 100 cases were produced and aged in French oak for 15 months.

The Winemaker’s Selection of the Hoffman Estate Vineyard Malbec from the Alexander Valley is one of the best wines I have tasted at Geyser Peak. On the nose were blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, spice, leather, and garden earthy notes. I kind of felt I was in for a treat after getting those aromas. I wasn’t disappointed as on the palate were nuances of raspberry, blueberry, pomegranate, and mocha. After tasting mocha on the palate I thought for sure I would experience a mocha or chocolate finish but I experienced one more like a chocolate raspberry cordial – quite delectable.

We paired this with a 2 1/2 inch thick beef tenderloin grilled to perfection (to my taste buds that is) seasoned with sea salt and Worcestershire black pepper and served with a side of sauteed garlic, onions, scallions, shallots, and a yellow bell pepper.

 

 

St. Francis Sonoma County 2008 Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is one of my “go to” wines when I’m looking for a wine that is bold but not too brassy, light but not mellow, and something that is as good stand alone as it is with food.  And one of my favorites is from St. Francis winery.

Ever since my first trip to this winery in 2001 I have been a fast fan of their Cabernet Francs when I sampled the McCoy’s Vineyard Cabernet Franc and this Sonoma County version is very good as well. It is in the same price range of $45 as the McCoy’s Vineyard version but excellent just the same.

Aged in French oak for eighteen months (and then transferred to bottles for my use) had a deep, dark, ruby red color that opened with blackberry, mulberry, and leather notes on the nose. And it didn’t stop there as the flavors were of dark berries, hard cherry candy with hints of chocolate and mocha on the finish.

I paired this with beef tenderloins that were about two inches thick and seared on both sides about a quarter of an inch each. Topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions with steamed broccoli (my doc says I can have all I want) makes for a delectable wine with a scrumptious meal.