Apothic White Winemaker’s Blend 2013

Apothic WhiteThe 2013 Apothic White Winemaker’s Blend cost a mere $8.99 a bottle with an ABV of 12% and had  an array of aromas and flavors that really surprised me. I like the red blend from this vintner so I thought I would give this one a try.

The second weekend of August was not as hot as the start of the month but was in the upper 70’s to low 80’s with a nice Northwesterly wind (red wine drinking in my book) but it still did not deter me from continuing my quest to find as many good, decent, inexpensive white wines for summer sipping.

The wine was pale yellow in color with good clarity and a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Riesling. Not sure what the percentages were but based on the aromas and flavors it was done just right.

On the nose I found pear, apple, melon and fresh squeezed lemon juice. The palate was a concoction of peach, melon, pear, and lemon rind with hints of sweet lemonade. The finish was that of sweet apricot iced tea. My only regret was not having another glass with the meal. I think it would have paired quite well. Another day perhaps?

The meal consisted of zucchini boats – huh?? Actually it’s a zucchini cut lengthwise and the insides scooped out and stir-fried with onions, broccoli and ground pork (you could use any other meat – ground beef, ground bison, ground veal, ground sausage and any other veggies you’d like to add in) and then baked in the oven until the outer zucchini was cooked but not mushy.

 

Waterbrook Mélange Blanc 2010

It’s that time of year where I tend to drink more white wine than I do the red stuff. Although, my real passion for drinking wine is in the deep garnet coloring of the delectable juice we know as “Wine”. The Waterbrook Mélange Columbia Valley 2010 vintage from Walla Walla, Washington is a surprising, wonderful concoction of 39% Riesling, 18% Pinot Gris, 14% Gewürztraminer, 10% Chardonnay, 10% Sauvignon Blanc and 9% Viognier with an ABV of 11.8%. Don’t let the mere ABV percentage fool you, as this was packed with a variety of aromas and flavors.

Have you ever picked fresh peaches where you still have the twig and one leaf still attached to the peach? That kind of fresh peach aroma as you put it in the basket with a handful of other picked peaches is the kind of aroma that first hits you when you drop the “ol snozzola” into the opening of the wine glass. At first I thought “Is that it?” – well let that aroma savor for a bit. Then repeat the process of letting the aromas open in the wine glass, and uh, I would recommend using a Riedel or similar type wine vessel to open all the possible smells.

After you get the peach orchard smell, I found melon, honey, apricots, floral notes, fresh cut hay and lemongrass as additional aromas to the already present peach. The fresh cut hay and lemongrass were subtle yet letting you know its presence was real.  The flavors were a delightful blend of pear, apricot, peach and melon with sweet notes of honey. This clean, crisp white wine found the back palate with slight sweet vanilla notes. Although I wished this lingered longer than it did.

We served this well chilled with a baby spinach salad with bacon bits (from the fry pan, not from a jar – so pick your poison), thin apple slices (we used a Fuji apple but whatever suits your fancy & palate will suffice) topped with a mildly sweet salad dressing (recipe follows) and topped with chopped walnuts. For a meat protein topping, we used pan fried skinless chicken breasts sliced about an 1/8″ by 3″ (approx.) in a sage & onion infused olive oil (about a Tbsp) until cooked thoroughly. Just a note: the first glass of wine went down way too quickly but was an excellent complement to the meal. The second glass of wine sans the meal didn’t go as quickly but fear the bottle will not last through the evening hours on the deck. Not bad for a $13.99 bottle of wine. I don’t like spending a lot of money on white wines (there are a few though) and this was well worth the price we paid.

Salad Dressing:

3 Tbsp cider vinegar

3 Tbsp white wine vinegar

2 Tbsp honey

1/4 cup shallots, minced

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and pour over the baby spinach, 1/4″ sliced bacon pieces, apples, strawberries (although the recipe didn’t call for this, we decided to add them) & walnuts. One thing of note – the above recipe is very vinegary, so my wife added more honey to sweeten it and that was more flavorful, so you’ll have to experiment a bit before pouring over the salad.

 

 

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!!

 

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.

Preston Ridge Vineyards

This past weekend I awoke on Saturday morning hoping to soak the deck in Australian Timber oil to protect the beautiful cedar boards so I can get our patio furniture out and I can enjoy the warm weather, if it ever comes this year.

It has to, I presume, because the local farmers have all spread manure on their fields and that is a sure sign that spring has sprung. But the only liquid soaking the cedar was from natural resources – rain, that is.

So, I’m moping around the house getting under my better half’s skin as she’s trying to study and I’m trying to have a conversation. So, I was politely told to go do something, go to a winery or something. Well, I don’t need to be prodded to visit a winery. So, I logged on the computer to see where I wanted to go and found a new winery I had not heard of yet.

Preston Ridge Vineyard opened last October but I was unaware as I had already turned in my CT Passport (no, I didn’t win) and was pretty much done for the wine season. Seeing as the vineyard was only 8-9 miles away, I figured what the heck and I gathered my keys to the car and hit the road. It didn’t take long and I was soon at the vineyard.

IMG_0168

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After heading down the entrance the tasting room came into view and there were only about five cars in the parking lot and the building seemed to be fairly large so I was excited about visiting a new winery.

IMG_0170

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon entering the wine bar is just to the right of the entrance. This is where I met Steve and Ann, the owners, and where I began my wine tasting.

IMG_0171

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But not before I noticed the 144 bottle wine rack to the right of the wine bar. I have to get one of these wine racks.

I started my wine tasting with their 2011 Fieldstone White which is a blend of Cayuga grapes and it opened with peachy and citrusy notes both on the nose and the palate. Although it wasn’t a real warm day I could envision sipping this on a warm sunny afternoon out on the deck that is, if I ever get the Australian Timber oil on it.

Next up was the 2011 Chardonnay which had peach, apple, and pear aromas and as this was chilled to just about the right temperature the flavor was similar to the aromas as my palate found this to be clean and crisp. As many of you know I am not a real big Chardonnay drinker but I liked this one. On their tasting menu were two other Chardonnays of similar aromas and tastes, however the 2011 Chardonnay Reserve had a real buttery finish on the palate and the 2011 Chardonnay Premier Cellar Reserve finished with vanilla notes on the back palate.

Next up was the 2011 Zundell Farm Rose which was light and refreshing and reminded me of strawberry shortcake sans the cake but with the creamy topping. Again, another good summer sipping wine. This would probably go well with a cheese and fruit tray.

Now I was on to their reds and the first one was the 2011 Cabernet Franc which is one of my favorite reds – actually, reds are my favorites in general. This didn’t disappoint as jammy red raspberry, red currant, and red cherry flavors were plentiful with a slight peppery finish.

Then I tried the 2011 Estate Cabernet Franc and I found much the same as the previous Cabernet Franc but detected hints of plum with the same slight peppery finish. The the last wine on the wine list was the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon which consisted more of the black berry fruits of cherry, raspberry, strawberry, currant with hints of earth and leather.

Well, I thought this was the end of the wine list but Steve and Ann had a few more surprises. I was treated to a few barrel tastings (these are some of my favorite things) and was quite surprised to be offered a couple of Rieslings which weren’t even on the tasting menu. I couldn’t tell you specifically what the two were but the aromas and flavors were of peach, honeysuckle, and pear with slight hints of green apple. Clean, crisp and wonderful, however these won’t get bottled until the fall but worth the wait if you’re a Riesling drinker.

The last one was a Cabernet Franc. I really liked this one and it will be bottled in the winter which was a surprise to me as it tasted perfect. I’ll definitely be back to taste this one again when it’s ready. Bet you’re wondering what the aromas and flavors of the barrel Cabernet Franc – oohhh, you’re going to have to visit the winery and hope they bring some of this up to the tasting room to experience the nuances of this wine.

IMG_0175

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was leaving I took this picture and I’m not sure what this is but I’d love to turn that into a bocce ball court.

IMG_0176

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now this is the way to do a wine tour!

 

 

Rosedale Vineyards Serendipity

There are times I’m just looking for a decent white wine as a simple complement to a fairly simple meal. So I went into the basement where I keep all my wine (unless of course they’re open, in which case they’re upstairs in the pantry – uh, that would be for the red wine, so the whites are always kept in the chiller) and seeing as I didn’t have any opened bottles of white wine I chose a local wine that I had not had in a while. I just happened to choose the Serendipity from Rosedale Vineyards.

Made with 100% Riesling grapes, this local Connecticut wine opened with fresh apple and peach notes (about equal between the apple and peach aromas) on the nose and with spring around the corner this was a very pleasing aroma. On the palate were orange peel, peach, green apple, honey and mineral flavors. The finish wasn’t long but it wasn’t short either – maybe just right. This paired quite well with shrimp pesto over angel hair pasta.

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!

 

Sunset Meadow Vineyards 2009 Vidal Blanc

Located in Goshen, CT Sunset Meadow Vineyards is one of about 30+ boutique wineries in Connecticut. In my opinion, CT white wines are getting better every year. Usually when I visit CT wineries I look forward to tasting their white wines. The reds aren’t quite there yet on the grand scheme of things with the rest of the world, but hey, the rest of the world has been doing it for a lot longer than the small wineries in southern New England. The wine retails for around $19 and has a 12% alcohol by volume.

The vidal blanc had an opaque yellow color with aromas of lemongrass, lime, fresh cut hay and floral notes. On the palate I found lemon-lime jello, pear, and clementine. The finish was refreshing with ripe apricots. We paired this with Cajun sea scallops, leaf spinach, and long grain wild rice. The crispness of the wine complemented the Cajun spices (my own concoction BTW) which marinated the sea scallops.

Okay, here’s the recipe for the Cajun marinade for about 1 1/2 lbs of sea scallops (approx. 1 1/2″ in diameter and just as tall): Rinse sea scallops well and drain any excess liquid and place in a quart container. Combine 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 1 tsp (you can vary this to your taste) of your favorite dry Cajun seasoning (I use the Habanero Cajun seasoning from Hell – beyond hot). You can also vary the ingredients to suit your tastes.

Pour this over the sea scallops and let soak for at least 10 minutes. Bake in a glass dish at 425 degrees for 14 minutes although this will vary based on the size of your sea scallops. Total time of preparation to sitting down and eating the meal is less than an hour so this can be a great meal during the middle of the week. Oh, and don’t forget to have the bottle of wine well chilled. The coolness of the wine with the hotness of the Cajun spices does a cha-cha on your taste buds. Bon Appetit!

Taylor Brooke Winter Pomegranate

The other day I opened a bottle of Pinot Noir that didn’t quite suit my fancy and here I had a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings (well, most of them) so I had a dilemma on my hands.

Now that the first wine I opened didn’t do the trick for a wine paired with some food, so I had to venture into the catacombs of my basement to retrieve a bottle of wine to save the day.

As some of you know me will also know that I can spend hours in the basement on my wine database searching for the “right” wine. Seeing as I had struck out with the red wine I first chose I decided to go with another strategy and seek out a wine other than a Pinot Noir. I decided on Taylor Brooke’s Winter Pomegranate.

This seasonal fruit-infused Riesling is usually only available in the October-November-ish months when this is plentiful. The aromas and flavors are of fresh pomegranate when they are in season. I am quite fond of Rieslings and Taylor Brooke’s spin on a fruit-infused Riesling gave the turkey dinner a great wine-food pairing. So, this saved the day as it went perfectly well with the meal.

I have in the past also paired this with an appetizer my grandmother used to make consisting of sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil; sprinkled with fresh chopped basil (whole leaves are good too); sliced or chopped garlic; and either Asiago, Parmesan, or Romano grated cheese on top. You can also place sliced fresh Mozzarella instead of the grated cheese, which I prefer especially if all the ingredients are fresh.

So, if you’re looking for a great wine to serve with a meal, pick up the Winter Pomegranate. It sells for around $12 and is well worth the cost of admission.

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.