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.


Dalice Elizabeth Winery

I decided to take the back roads to Dalice Elizabeth Winery traveling on Rte 165 until it intersected with Rte 164 toward Amos Lake on my quest to visit all the Connecticut wineries this year (a feat I will undoubtedly accomplish given good health and other stuff) plus getting my wine passport stamped at each winery as I go along the trail.

Once I arrived the views were spectacular with the rolling hills and trees surrounding the lake and just a short jaunt down the rock driveway was the tasting room. However, on the way I did get to see a few birds and sheep on the lawn in the distance. Just off to the right of the tasting room was a small pond, no doubt to be used by the various forms of farm animals enjoyment. I’ll bet if it’s hot enough (and it was this day) you’d be tempted to jump in to cool off a bit. Something I learned at an earlier winery – take time to smell the roses, take in those little pleasures in life. We don’t always see them but they’re around waiting for us to recognize them. Now, there I go getting philosophical – okay, back to the wine experience.

Dalice Elizabeth’s tasting room isn’t much larger than an overgrown tool shed, however it’s what is inside that counts. The decor was rustic in nature with plants and pictures and a few local products for sale and the ambiance of the small dwelling was picture perfect for a wine tasting. The tasting fee is $10 for four wines plus you get to keep their signature wine glass which was stemless. However, the day I visited the fees were only $8. This is the second winery I’ve come across so far on my Connecticut wine trips that has offered tastings from a stemless wine glass. This wasn’t quite as large as the one from another winery but large enough to really get a sense of what the wine’s all about.

So, here are the wines I tasted. I’ll have to go back and try the ones I missed (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Old Vine Zinfandel, and the Sangiovese) on this trip.

Chardonnay: Lemongrass and dried hay on the nose sort of like being in a barn with a breeze blowing through and you’re enjoying the moment. Tart apple and citrus flavors complemented the aromas with a subtle vanilla finish. A very decent white wine.

Pinot Grigio: Honey and pear on the nose leading into melon and pear flavors. This was clean and crisp. Would go well with Asian cuisine.

Cabernet Franc: Cherry aroma in an earthy tone on the nose. The palate consisted of raspberries and black currant with a smooth finish. I think I would tend to just sip this instead of serving it with food.

Syrah: A deep garnet color yielded blueberry, blackberry, spice, and smoke aromas. The palate had black berry and black currant with hints of semi sweet chocolate. Another great sipping wine but would go great with grilled meats.

And as a bonus the sommelier let me try their dessert wine.

Ice Angel: Peachy aromas with honey and apricot flavor. This was way too sweet for me, but it was good though.

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

Fancy Schmancy Initials Club

There is a small group of oenophiles that exchange emails discussing wines we really enjoy and we got to naming each other for our particular expertise and decided we would give each other special initials much like Wine Spectator (WS), Wine Advocate (WA), Robert Parker (RP), Wine & Spirits (W&S), Stephen Tanzer (ST), et. al., to name a few famous wine experts so we too can be identified as elite wine tasters (although this is all done to poke fun at each other). Though we may not be wine experts we do know what we like and what we don’t like so we share this through emails and one thing led to another and I’ll introduce them in this special Fancy Schmancy Initials Club edition of the “The Wit Is Out”.

Now mind you, some of what is in this post is fact, while some is fiction, some of it is witty, some of it funny, some of it is amusing. We’ll leave it up to you to decide which is which. You see my stories each week so no need to bore you this week with another story from the Witless Whiner (WW), but I do want you to meet our fancy schmancy initials club members. Here are their stories as told by them, or by someone else, or do their stories really exist…

Susie Q’s Silver Saloon (SQS2)

I moved to Vancouver, BC in the fall of 2006 to go to grad school at the University of British Columbia. I decided to go for a nice run in the nearby Pacific Spirit Regional Park.  I double checked at the kiosk to make sure I knew what trail I wanted and noticed a posting about owls. Apparently, it was their perching season which meant they were “in the mood” and aggressive towards anything that looked like they were going to get in the way of their love making. I didn’t really pay attention to it and decided to start my run. Not even 10 minutes into the run do I start hearing the “coos” of the owls and decided it was actually quite beautiful to listen to as I ran along the wood-chipped trail.

Then, out of nowhere, I feel a spike piercing my skin on my head and I quickly hit whatever it was that was poking me. I looked around and saw nothing so I started my run again. With that, the creature came back immediately and was holding on hard, pecking at my head.  I finally fell down to the ground with whatever it was that was biting me and I grabbed hold of it and ripped it from my head.  Sure enough, it was an owl… cute little devil. He flew off as I laid there on the dirt ground laughing my ass off about the randomness that just happened.

Apparently, I was making a lot of noise and a nearby cyclist came over to see if I was OK. I guess I was laughing so hard that he thought I was crying but I reassured him that I was not and described to him what had just happened. He laughed as well and then went on his merry way. I still sat in the dirt, trying to figure out why the owl had picked me since I saw a lot of people on the trail that day and realized it had to have been my ponytail. It was bouncing around so much that it looked threatening to a young adult owl in his perching phase. Therefore, he had to kill it… and so he did. I chopped my hair off the next week.

And SQS2’s favorite wine:

My favorite wine is Blasted Church Sauvignon Blanc (doesn’t matter what year).  It reminds me of freshly cut grass (I know that sounds gross but it’s totally awesome) and I also just LOVE the labels! You can view the wines of Blasted Church at http://www.blastedchurch.com/

Gumshoe Guido’s Grapevine Garage (4G’s)

My maternal Grandfather was a “Market Gardener”, essentially a door to door veggie vendor, complete with horse, wagon, a loud bell to ring to announce his arrival, and neighborhood kids utilized to carry goods to customers, and payments back to him.

From his farm in Suffield, Connecticut, he would sell his vegetables across the Connecticut River in the Thompsonville section of Enfield, Connecticut, which at that time was a bustling hub of industry as the home of the “Bigelow Sanford” Carpet mill complex. The farm in Suffield was comprised of two houses, two barns, garages, and other outbuildings. The two homes were set up as duplexes. One house my grandfather had built, and another which came with the property. My grandparents lived in the first floor of the newly constructed home, rented the upstairs apartment, and had renters in both floors of the original dwelling.

As his family grew and matured the renters were moved out so daughters and son could move in. So, by the time I arrived it was truly a “family compound”. With a shared driveway between two houses, my grandparents living below me, an aunt and uncle with families living across the driveway, well you get the picture.

One of my memories as a youngster was watching the wine making process first hand.  In early fall my grandfather and uncle would make their own wine.  I remember the process would start many days earlier, readying wooden barrels to contain the “fruit of the vine”. Each barrel was filled with water so its fitness was tested. The water swelled the staves and my uncle would adjust the hoops until the barrels no longer leaked. Next was the arrival of the grapes, box after box of “Zinfandel” with a picture of a smiling young girl on each. These were transported to the cellar, where the wine press was located.

Next, powered by an electric motor, was what appeared to me like a noisy clothes wringer which would crush the grapes into the wine press. No foot stomping for them. I don’t recall what method was used to separate the stems and skins from the liquid, but there was a spigot at the bottom of the press from which the liquid flowed into the barrels. As I recall the barrels sat for awhile, and then my uncle (grandfather was well on in years at this point so most of the work fell to my uncle) would bottle the product in gallon jugs and they would be stored in the wine cellar. From there the next step was the dining table as my grandparents had wine on the table at every meal, with the exception of breakfast.

My Italian heritage presented wine, not as a forbidden fruit, but as required adjunct to family meals. My grandmother did have a habit of lacing her coffee with a half and half mix of whiskey and Anisette, (Sambuca). A tradition we still affectionately refer to as a “buca blast”.  Picture it, a young boy comes upstairs to his mother, who inquires: “you seem to be in a very happy mood”. Answer:  “Oh, I just had some coffee with Grandma”.. Yee ha!

And 4G’s favorite wine: 4g doesn’t really have a favorite wine but does prefer wines with   either the Bardolino grapes for red wine and the Verdichio grapes for white wines.

Mike’s Cellar Emporium (MCE)

OK, We were late arriving to the world of wine, which is really a bummer as all those years were wasted drinking beer(sic)! Our friends introduced us to wine when we were in our late thirties, we are now a lot grayer.  First glass was Louis Jadot Macon Villages and the rest is history.

We like motorcycles, wine, good food, wine, camping, wine……anyway you get the picture. We love getting together with friends to eat and share our love of wine, whether a gourmet meal or just hors d’oeuvres.

Red is our first choice but we also have a great supply of whites and ports. We have a wine closet as we do not have a cellar which will hold up to approx. 400 bottles. We keep the house between 64 and 68 year round and the closet is about 1 or 2 degrees less. This has worked out OK so far for storage.

As for our favorite wine that is a tough one. We had a favorite for over 10 years but can no longer get it. We have not found another yet but we keep looking. My favorite wines are Spanish made in the old style, especially Riojas and older reds.
Remember a wine not tasted is a treasure possibly wasted!

And MCE’s favorite wine:

McGuigan Bros. Black Label Shiraz visit their website at http://www.mcguiganwines.com.au/

Cousin Carl’s Schnozzola Sanctararium (CCSS)

The Cousin Carl ( CC ) initials ( and the less recognized longer version referring to my schnozz, that is the Schnozzola Sanctararium) was earned the old fashion way— by birth. Well, yes, I was born with a prominent nose but I was referring to the fact that I am lucky enough to be the cousin of the co-owner of Taylor Brooke Winery (my cousin Linda runs the day to day business while husband Dick is the wine maker). This helps support my habit (as well as Sparing Sharon) of enjoying good/great wines. While I certainly think Taylor Brooke is tops I have learned to appreciate other fine (and hopefully bargain priced) wines, most importantly ones with a bacon nose….

And CCSS’s favorite wine is: Anything under $10 and it’s good.

Sparing Sharon (SS)

I was dubbed Sparing Sharon (S.S.) by my husband, Cousin Carl (another story).  Once a week, on Wednesdays, I travel to Hannaford to do my weekly grocery shopping.  Browsing through numerous bottles of red wine, my goal is to find outstanding red wines for under $10. My favorite find from the supermarket is the wine, “Twisted – Old Vine” which sells  2 for $12! I have been buying several bottles of this wine for the past 3 weeks since the wine is affordable but mostly due to the outstanding taste and aroma.  (I also fear the price might go up, so gotta stock up!) I realized later this wine was reviewed by the Witless Whiner back on December 11th. I totally agree with the review.

Sparing the dollars on everything else has given us the opportunity to fully enjoy our trips to other wineries and purchasing wines from them as well.  Sparing the dollars on restaurants by staying home and preparing healthy meals has paid off as well.

Cousin Carl actually prefers his meals at home vs. the restaurants but he feels his wife can be too sparing at times, when it comes to giving him cash when he needs it. (Sparing Sharon is the boss with the finances).

It’s all about the wine, good food & friends…

And SS’s favorite wine: Anything that is a better bargain than what CCSS finds!

Jacuzzi Jack’s Persnickety Palate (Double J Double P)

One night after work a few (actually more than a few and more like a dozen) of us gathered at a friends house for an evening of wine, food, and conversation. Well, the conversation was complete with varied topics ranging from vacation places to wineries visited and everything in between. Which actually entailed a myriad of topics. Another conversation piece included favorite restaurants, favorite this and favorite that, etc.

Anyway, while we were talking just about any subject that crossed our minds we opened a bottle of Jacuzzi Pinot Gris and as we were all enjoying the crispness of the wine and we all came up with a plethora of aromas and flavors. Although we agreed that we all obtained a great and delectable amount of apple there was something missing.

So, we all stopped and smelled the wine, tasted it, then smelled it again, tasted it again, etc., etc., etc. we couldn’t get our schnozzes in the right frame of mind. All the while I had a precocious smile as I knew what everyone was missing as only my palate picked up the elusive flavor. Alas, I couldn’t hold in the surprise any longer and calmly said “green apple” and everyone began to smell and taste the wine and all agreed I had nailed the wine to “T”, hence I was dubbed Double J Double P.

And JJPP’s favorite wine: Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. Visit them at http//www.santamargherita.com

So you see, we all have our fancy schmancy initials making us bonafide wine critics 🙂

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends….

Bubba & Mollykins

No, this is not a love story but a very simple one about two different dogs from two different beginnings in life. Both pups are as cute as buttons although they aren’t quite pups anymore but I will always refer to them as pups. One is black in color and the other is black and white. One is Pompey (aka Bubba) and one is Molly (aka Mollykins). Bubba is a Pug (he’s the black one) while Mollykins (she’s the black & white one) is a Border Collie. Both are extremely playful and have great dispositions. Neither would hurt a fly however if you tread on their territory you may be able to hear their playful growls. Although Molly got quite protective of the bay window in the living room for anything that dared come into the front yard. This was her territory! And Bubba had to sit higher on the couch than anyone else. This was his territory!

Here is Molly’s story (as told by her):

Hi! My name is Molly and I am 3 1/2 years young. My hometown is Vancouver, BC where I was discovered with my brothers and sisters at the age of 5 weeks in a dumpster. Luckily, people in the neighborhood heard us crying and rescued us. We were sent to the Vancouver City Pound where I met my mom. She was a volunteer there waiting to find the perfect dog for her and it turned out to be me! At first, my mom only fostered me because she wasn’t sure she could handle a dog but after 4 months of fostering, she couldn’t get enough of me and I was adopted! The first year of my life was pretty rough and have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis so I can’t run and play on pavement or else my joints will hurt. Occasionally I need to take it easy or else my muscles will get inflamed and I won’t be able to walk so my mom keeps a close eye on me.

I love to play tug of war with my family and growl because it makes me feel tough. My favorite thing to do is hike with my friends and family although I hate it when I get ticks on me because it’s very uncomfortable for me when they have to be removed.  Sometimes I get so excited that I can’t help but wiggle until my tail hits my face.

I’m a traveling dog and will probably continue to because wherever my mom and dad go, I go too (or sometimes they stick me with my grandparents which is super fun and they allow me up on the chair to snuggle). Either way, I know I’m always with loving family.

Here is Bubba’s story (as told by him):

I’ve been in custody from the time I was six weeks old and I’m currently 4 1/2 years old (in human years that is). Anyway my owners think I’m perfect and they’re right. I mean, who am I to argue with them? Just to set the record straight my name is Pompey who was the behind the scenes caretaker of a brothel in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and in the play, Pompey is used to show the audience what is going on in the story. Boy, could I tell you stories! But that’s for another time.

I was a resident of Colorado for the majority of the time I’ve been on this wonderful earth and even though my owners think I’m perfect I couldn’t have asked for better owners. They really are sweet (and I get away with just about anything – shhh, but don’t tell them that, I’ve got a good thing going here). I’m a mountain dog by heart and I will chase snow until it melts and in Colorado that could be for several months. Of course if we get a foot of snow you won’t be able to find me when I jump in a snow bank.

Just to puff my chest a bit – I’m AKC registered and if it weren’t for my tail I probably would have been a show dog except my tail doesn’t have the correct corkscrew (well, what do you expect, after all this is a wine review). Seems that the “show people” want a tail that corkscrews 2 1/2 turns, I only have 1 1/2 turns. But I’m a cuddler and I always need to be around someone. And I think Molly’s pretty cool too. I love when we get together.

What about you? Any pet stories?

Well, on with the wine reviews.

Santa Margherita 2009 Pinot Grigio. Yellow in color with floral aromas (much like a fresh bouquet of flowers) and golden delicious apple flavor and a smooth silky finish. $20.99, 90 rating. Pair this with bacon-wrapped sea scallops, white rice sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, broccoli drizzled with a balsamic glaze, and an onion roll on the side. This was scrumptious!

Altos Las Hormigas 2009 Mendoza Malbec. Upon opening this wine a deep purple color greeted licorice, fennel, and plum pleasingly on the nose, followed by red & black raspberries, maybe a bit of boysenberry jam and pepper flavors on the palate. This wine ended with a smooth European chocolate finish with a hint of blueberries. $8.99, 88 rating. Pair this with grilled Italian sausage with peppers and onions on a grinder roll. This wine got better as the night rolled on.

Jacuzzi Vineyards 2009 Bianco di Sei Sorelle Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. Bartlett pear and peach notes on the nose with a hint of mixed nuts complement the peach and pear flavors with a smooth oaky finish. This is a very nice white wine even a red wine lover would enjoy! Boy, am I getting soft in my old age 🙂 $18.00, 88 rating. Pair this with fresh scrod with a Dijon mustard marinade, brown rice, and broccoli & cauliflower vegetables drizzled with your favorite cheese (you can also get this in a handy vegetable steamer bag – cheese included). Ingredients for the scrod marinade are as follows:

2 tablespoons white wine (the above mentioned wine is a good choice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon (add more if using fresh tarragon)
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
Dash of garlic powder

Whisk ingredients and brush over scrod and pour remaining marinade over scrod (any white fish will do though) and bake at 425 degrees for 12-18 minutes depending on thickness of the scrod fillets.

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


Holiday Excursion

The Friday before the Labor Day holiday I left the throes of a light wind swept rain from hurricane Earl kissing the Rose City boundaries to embark on a journey to Table & Vine in search of the elusive low-priced reds Cousin Carl speaks so fondly of. Reaching my destination the coolness of Table & Vine’s “wine cellar” tingled my senses and upon first glance hundreds of bottled wines beckoned me to peruse at my leisure. However, my time was limited as my brother and I were taking our “mom” out for her 85th year on this earth. The short escapade to this wonderful “wine cellar” proved fruitful as I purchased a case and a half of wine. Yes, some of these were Spanish wines of which I am not very familiar with but willing to experiment on or accept recommendations from our wine enthusiasts’ community. Each of the 18 bottles was under $15 with 11 of them under $10. So, I believe I have stumbled upon some decent low priced reds. My fingers are crossed.

Lastly, let me say that I love wine. There are two things worth living for, one is wine and the other is more wine. So, on with the reviews……

Osborne 2001 Solaz. This Spanish wine comprised of 80% Tempranillo & 20% Cabernet Sauvignon produced black & bing cherry on the nose with a hint of leather. A beautiful wild raspberry flavor greeted the tongue and lasted quite awhile. One of those great low priced reds. $9.99, 88 rating. I did not pair this with any food but I’m sure it will go well with any grilled meats as the raspberry flavors complement the meat quite well.

My wife and I went to Boston for breakfast on the Sunday of the Labor Day weekend, alas also to visit with our daughter and her friend. We walked a couple of blocks (have you seen the blocks in Boston? Much longer than the Rose City offers). Anyway, we walked in a chilly early morn a couple of blocks (seemed like 8 blocks though) to reach a convenience store and wondered what we were going to do in a convenience store as we were on a quest to find a breakfast establishment. So, my first thoughts were of packaged donuts and pastries prefaced by weak coffee. Upon entering the convenience store we walked to the back and I was surprised to see an entrance to Gerard’s Tavern opening into a small but quite comfortable dining area. Although the tavern was Irish in tradition I ordered a Spanish omelet after buying so many Spanish wines two days before. I was sure I was morphing into a Spaniard as I was envisioning being in a bull ring chanting Ole, Ole, and then slipping into a paragon dream with the aromas of wild raspberry and chocolate nuances.

After the walk back to the apartment, I learned that my daughter bought me a bottle of Spanish wine (I knew there was a reason we had children). I haven’t the faintest idea of the cost but here’s what I found in the bottle when I returned home and paired it with a medium-well hamburger and a grilled hot dog with yellow mustard, sweet relish, chopped onions and a sandwich dill pickle. Not quite a Chicago style hot dog, but darned close. The tasting notes are as follows….

The Flying Winemaker 2007 Tempranillo. Upon putting the ol’ schnozz into the bowl of my wine glass an immediate explosion of wild raspberries hit the nose in such force I think my nose is  still disjointed. I also detected hints of mint chocolate. The palate provided nuances of dark cherry and black raspberry flavors followed by a smooth blueberry and chocolate finish. I gave this wine 90 points. Whatever the price was well worth what I got out of the wine. I’m beginning to realize that Spanish Tempranillos have a lot to do with wild raspberries. Do you find the same or similar nuances? Again, I’m not sure of the price but this is a wine that you can bring to your neighbor’s, a wine group, as a house warming gift, or just for turkey dinner and have everyone tell you that you need to pick the wines for future venues, you’ll be an instant hit while getting on several “speed dial” lists.

I’ve often chided white wine drinkers for being a white wine drinker and why would anyone drink white wine as I’m a staunch red wine lover.  One of our wine enthusiast’s siblings lived in Germany and Japan for a number of years and had the following to say:

“Why drink a white?  Because if you lived in Germany and had Riesling grapes giving you 5 distinct levels of taste (sweetness) all during one 5 or 3 course meal, you’d do it every day for $8, just like if you lived in Argentina, you drink Malbec all night with fish to beef for $8.  Wait ’til he “discovers” sake and the Far East!”

Whoa, is this the beginning of a white vs. red venue? This could prove to be a lot of fun. This prompted me to take a more serious look at white wines and what all the fuss was about, so as a result I found this delectable white wine.

Ca’Montini 2004 Pinot Grigio. Apple greeted the nose much like a fall evening in the apple orchards with a hint of pear. The aroma led to a green apple and lemon flavor on the palate with a slight, pleasing mineral finish. Yummy comes to mind after opening this bottle of wine which was well-chilled. Pair this with shrimp fettuccine or baked salmon with a maple syrup/balsamic vinegar glaze topped with chopped garlic, however I prefer thinly sliced garlic over chopped. I’m more of a red wine drinker but this one I really like. $18.99 deserves a 90 rating.

Try the wines and let me know what you think. Post your comments below.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends….