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!!

 

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!

 

Walker Road Vineyards – 2012

Arriving at Walker Road Vineyards on a beautiful sunny afternoon I had noticed the entrance to the vineyard changed from last year’s visit. They also moved from the basement of their home into a barn-like structure not too far from the vineyards. So things are looking up for them.

You may want to get to this winery soon as they are only open the first full weekend of each month. I hope in the future they decide to change this as I think it would be better for business.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the small bridge from the parking lot, which is also small but navigable providing there aren’t too many vehicles in your way.

Upon entering the tasting room you get a rustic feel and they have done a great job with  it compared to the old wine bar (last year) which was a small bench with maybe 3-4 tasters being able to taste wines. The new wine bar can accommodate quite a few more tasters. Sorry for the blurry picture but I wanted you to get an idea of how the place was set up.

When I first entered the tasting room I met Jim Frey and his wife Bruce-Elizabeth and they inquired if I wanted to do a tasting. Last year they did not charge for the tasting but you didn’t get a signature glass either. The tasting fee was $5 plus you got to keep the winery glass. If I’m not mistaken this is the first year Walker Road Vineyards has offered signature wine glasses. They only produce two wines but they’re pretty good and the tasting notes are as follows. I forgot to record the wine prices but do know both were well under $20.

Gertrude’s Garden: A blend of Traminette, Seyval Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc produced aromas of peach, apricot, and melon on the nose. The flavors consisted of citrus, lemon zest, and fresh herbs. The finish reminded me of lemon meringue pie.

Red Table Wine: This red blend consisted of the St. Croix, Cabernet Franc, and Sangiovese-Brunello varietals . It reminded me a lot of the wine my grandfather made, probably due to the Sangiovese-Brunello varietal. I found black cherry, pepper, dark plum, and cherry hard candy aromas. On the palate were blackberry, black currant, and plenty of pepper. A long finish ended with hints of European mocha.

Here’s a view of the vineyards from the tasting room.

Connecticut Wine Festival – 2012

The CT Wine Festival was on the last weekend of July. The witless wine troupe (ah, that would be me & the missus and my sister- and brother-in-laws) started off the morning drive to the Goshen Fairgrounds in Goshen, CT under a partly cloudy sky but soon realized that it was not if it would rain, but when. We were hoping the inevitable dilemma of transparent moist daggers from the heavens would hold off long enough for us to enjoy the 4th annual CT Wine Festival.

The parking lot was as empty as could be, given that the wine festival would not open for another 30 minutes.

We arrived a half hour earlier than expected and you can see that we were among the brave and loyal wine enthusiasts to get a front row parking spot.

This is advantageous strategy on the part of us wine purveyors. You see, we didn’t need to worry about parking in the doldrums of the cheap seats, way back in swamp land, wondering if we would ever find the wine mobile without utilizing the panic button on the key fob.

Umbrella in hand, we marched on to the starting gate (see featured photo) to enter the world of fine wines.  You can see the line forming in anticipation of finding the best wines of the festival. Much to our surprise they opened the gates about 10 minutes before the announced starting times.

Fortunately we arrived early but so did many of the other wine enthusiasts as well but it was not yet to the point where you were four or five deep. So, the process of getting wine samples was still relatively easy to obtain. Here are just a few of the brave wine tasters waiting for samples or those purchasing wine.

Many of you have heard about our Fancy Schmancy Initials Club so, can you spot Sparing Sharon and Cousin Carl?

Once we sampled the wines and made our purchases we found ourselves outside the tasting barns and out in the open where the skies threatened numerous droplets of rain but we were determined to visit the vendors of other products than wine before the wet stuff began. I’m particularly fond of the vendors selling oils and vinegars.

Once we had visited the outside vendors we got back to the car – oh, look at the parking lot now.

So, if you want to park in the front row, get to the wine festival early. Now, the only thing left to do now was stop at Apricot’s restaurant in Farmington to top off a perfect afternoon wine tasting. But outside under the tent the rains finally poured down upon us (sorry no pictures of the rain as the camera was in the car). I have to remember that I have a phone with a camera in it.

If you’re looking for a fun day and want to taste wine from many of the state’s wineries, you’ll surely enjoy this outing. So, put a reminder on your calendar for July 2013 to visit the Connecticut Wine Festival

Saltwater Farm Vineyard – 2012

Driving down to Saltwater Farm Vineyard along the shoreline routes on a sunny afternoon with the temperature in the mid-80s I was, as they say, out for a Sunday drive. Although it was a Saturday it really didn’t make a difference as I was enjoying the day for what it was – just plain old pleasant. It was enjoyable because I didn’t have to go to work, I didn’t need to pay any bills, I didn’t need to wash the car, and I didn’t want to sit out on the deck and read. So what else was there to do? Yes, this is a rhetorical question as a wine tasting was in order. So, I was off to see what wines were in store for me to try.

Once I drove down the rock driveway I parked the wine mobile in the designated area and took in the incredible views of the vineyards. I enjoy the smell of the ocean air and seeing the many species of birds in their natural habitat.

Saltwater Farms is a great place to spend an afternoon on the back patio with a picnic lunch and a bottle of your favorite Saltwater Farms wine while overlooking the marsh and the wildlife it contains.

Although there wasn’t a sign that pointed directly to the tasting room the two enormous doors couldn’t be ignored and as an analytical individual I concluded this was the way I needed to go to start my wine tasting.

Inside there is a reception area where you check in and they direct you to an upstairs wine bar. Once I reached the second floor bar area I was met by Jessica (wine bar staff) and Paul (tasting room manager) and was immediately given a glass for tasting. The glass is a good sized one so you’re able to get the ‘ol schnozzola into the glass to fully grasp the wine’s aroma. The simple, but elegant egret in flight logo reminds you that the ocean is home to more than just wineries. Below is the list of wines I tried. Tastings are $10 per person and includes their signature logo glass.

2011 Sauvignon Blanc ($28): Aged in stainless steel tanks this opened with floral notes with a great explosive citrus aroma. On the palate were pear and sweet lemongrass. If you didn’t know you were at the ocean, this wine sure made you aware that you just might be. This was an excellent wine to start the tasting with.

2010 Estate Chardonnay ($18): Pear & nectarine combined to start this wine off on the right note. Pear, apple and citrus flavors were the highlights of this Chardonnay. Though I’m not a Chardonnay drinker, I was pleased with this one.

2009 Estate Chardonnay ($20): This portrayed citrusy notes on the nose with pear and green apple flavors with hints of nectarine and stone mineral notes on the back palate. This had a nice balance.

2010 “Gold Arc” Chardonnay ($27): A real nice citrusy aroma and flavor. Picture yourself getting off a plane in Florida during orange grove harvest time -yeah a bit like that. I did detect a hint of vanilla on the finish.

2011 Cabernet Rosé ($23): A product of Hurricane Irene’s salt spray yielded a French style rosé with an aroma of just entering the strawberry patch to pick fresh strawberries. On the palate were fresh strawberries galore. This had a real nice balance. I’m really beginning to warm up to rosés.

2010 Pinot Noir ($35): Barrel aged in French oak this opened with plum and pomegranate aromas. I found a soft plum flavor (my indication of a great Pinot). Made from estate and New York varietals, this for me, was the best wine of the tasting. A light garnet color, this wine also had a hint of pepper on the finish. If I had more time I would have purchased a glass and enjoyed it on the back patio.

2008 Cabernet Franc ($28): A nice plum color with blackberry fruits on the nose. Cherry candy, plum, and juicy blackberry flavors rounded out this wine.

2008 Merlot ($30): The last estate Merlot for awhile due to an early frost opened with raspberry and cherry aromas on the nose with surprising plum and raspberry flavors. this had a nice balance of flavors.

Coastal Vineyards

I didn’t think I had the right place as I drove up and there was only one car in the driveway and it didn’t look open. So instead of just wandering off into the sunset I decided to call them to inquire if I was in the right place. Ah, indeed I was as Joyce, the sommelier came out of the back of the house and directed me to the tasting room.


As you can see the wine bar can accommodate about three tasters at a time. When I arrived I was the only one there and half way through my tasting another couple showed up and the bar was at full capacity. Don’t let the small bar area fool you though as the wines were quite good. They only had five wines available during my visit and it was worth the visit, I’m glad I called. I can’t remember what the tasting fee was as I do not have this in my notes, I’m presuming it was minimal, however I do not see a signature wine glass in my wine glass collection so I’ll presume they did not give one out. On to the wines I tasted.

Pinot Gris: Pear, peach, and nectarine aromas with crispness and good acidity on the palate. The flavors were much the same as on the nose. This was chilled just right.

White Wine: A blend of the Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer grapes provided a floral bouquet that ended with ripe pear on the palate.

Gewurztraminer: Floral and fruit bowl aromas on the nose led into tropical fruits, pear, and apple flavors with a clean, crisp acidic finish. Very nice.

Vidal Blanc: Floral notes on the nose with apple and pear on the palate and the sweetness balanced quite well with the acidic finish.

Seaside Red: A blend of 70% Cabernet Franc and 30% Chambourcin. It had a light garnet color with a light berry aroma. Candied red apple and cherry on the palate with subtle hints of mocha and vanilla. A very decent New England red wine that I was quite pleased with.

Their vineyards are 95% planted on 8 acres of land with the other 5% of the grapes coming from local wineries truly encompasses the ideal of being a local winery, not that world wide wines aren’t good but local wines in New England are starting to get some recognition.

So, when you get a chance, stop by their tasting room and experience their wines as they only produce around 600-700 cases per year. They also bottle exclusively with screw tops, but with an average of 3% spoilage from tainted corks I can fully understand the need to incorporate this into the wine bottling process. You all know how I feel about corks but I would rather open the wine with the knowledge that what’s inside will be fresh and delectable.

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….

Twist And Shout

Seeing as the winter is almost over (yeah!) I can remember as a teenager getting in the last ice skating of the year, weather permitting, and the song Twist and Shout by Chubby Checker would be blaring from the public address system on the town pond. I danced better on skates then than I do now on the dance floor. Although at my age, slow dancing is the norm when I do get on the dance floor that is. Then of course later in the afternoon or early evening while we were still skating the version of Twist and Shout recorded by The Beatles would have us dancing and skating even more intense than earlier in the day.

Which brings me to a story when I was in my early teens and we were having the Christmas Eve celebration at my parents house when we would purchase a gift that would cost somewhere between 25-75 cents and it couldn’t be a penny more or a penny less. And those were strict rules, tax included. Our gift swap rules were simple. Everyone who brought a gift received a number drawn from a hat. You chose a gift on the table and if you were the first one then you had to open and keep the gift – luck of the draw. Then whoever was the number 2 person to pick would chose a gift on the table and had a choice to make – they could either take your gift and give you the one they chose or they could keep it (they could not open the gift unless they were going to keep it). So, they blindly had to make a decision to grab your gift from you or they took a chance and opened the gift they chose which they had to keep. Think of all the possibilities when you have around thirty people playing this. It gets to be a lot of fun real quick.

Are you confused yet? I think I am (and I used to play this), oh well.

On with the story. As luck would have it on this particular Christmas Eve I had the second to last pick and I chose one of two gifts left and opened the “Story Book Lifesavers Package” – remember those? Oh, what a gift. Lo and behold, my Uncle Tony had the last gift on the table and he decided that the lifesavers would be his choice of gifts. Well, the consolation was that I got to open another gift. But the agony was that I opened the gift my Uncle Tony brought and he new what was in the package which is why he decided not to open it – are you ready for this? I opened – and got to keep – a pair of girl’s ice skates pom-poms that attached to the top of the skates. Now, can you imagine me putting these on top of my hockey skates??? Although we joke about this whenever we remember when we’re together it is part of those good memories we had growing up.

What about you, any good memorable stories?

Anyway this post is about a bunch of other twist top wine bottles that in my mind are pretty good (don’t tell me I’m warming up to screw tops $#@&?*^%).

Twisted 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel. I bought this on a whim and just liked the name of the wine and I figured what the heck! Upon opening the wine I experienced a jolt of blackberries like in a jam, very pleasing along with cherry, anise, and grated nutmeg greeted the schnozzola snifter. The wine, once tasted, reminded me of chocolate covered cherries and ripe plums wrapped around your taste buds which ended in a very nice nutmeg mouth feel and a jammy finish. My wife said: “Ohhh, I really like this”. For a screw top and a winery I’ve never heard of, this is a very decent Zinfandel even Mike’s Cellar Emporium would stock (now, if I can only get him to agree with me…). I tried this with homemade pizza one night and pulled pork another night and it went very well with both. And a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. $7.99, 88 rating. (most of you that are on the small mailing list of oenophiles know we’ve discussed this wine already but it deserves another mention here as one of our members received the coveted fancy schmancy initials because of this wine).

Cupcake 2010 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. This wine opens with lemony aromas leading to key lime pie and melon flavors sure to delight. $9.99, 86 rating. Try this with shrimp cocktail with plenty of spicy cocktail sauce and a plethora of appetizers. Spicy Asian food also pairs well with this wine as does a number of cheeses and crackers.

Cigar Box 2009 Reserve Malbec. This wine began with earthy tones on the nose with rich plum and blackberry and a hint of vanilla. The palate exhibited flavors of Cassis, red cherry, and boysenberry jam with nice tannins! A delicious chocolate mocha finish paired well with a ham & chees on a French baguette. This also went well with homemade chili. Although many times a white wine will go well with chili especially if it is spicy this Malbec was a pretty good good choice for this meal. I also had this on another occasion with grilled chicken topped with mozzarella cheese, tomato slices, and fresh parsley. Not to mention this was good with a pulled pork sandwich too. All four meals were great with this wine. $9.99, 88 rating. I do enjoy a good Malbec.

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

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When Was The Last Time You’ve Seen This Much Snow?

For those of us that live in the Northeast know what a “Nor’easter is; for those of you that have never experienced one well you’re in for a treat. If you think Atlanta was having one heck of a storm you should see the Northeast. I haven’t seen a Nor’easter like this since I was a kid growing up in Thompsonville. Back then the snow was so deep that it came up to my shoulders. Although I’m a bit older and slightly taller it still reached my knees and my son, my wife and I were out cleaning up the snow. I got to clean off the vehicles as that’s all my wife will let me do. We do have someone come and plow the driveway but that does not help out with the sidewalk and a path to the rubbish barrels. And of course the proverbial igloo and snowman (even in memory if not the real thing) had to be created too. We all have a little kid in us

A record snowfall according to the measurements at Bradley Field (you do remember when it was called a field and not an international airport?) at 22.5 inches of snow. Storm Benedict brings new meaning to the phrase “The Big Dig”. I can’t recall seeing this much snow in one storm ever and according to the news channels this is the biggest Nor’easter we’ve ever seen. The number one storm for total snowfall in a twenty-four period.

We’re all glad we just stayed home and watched a few movies and made a great lunch. But if I remember back then we never canceled school for this much snow. As a walker (do they have walkers anymore?) we always went to school, maybe the buses didn’t run but we always had to walk. And the cars never seem to get as stuck in the snow as the ones today do, even with 4-wheel drive. I do know that the cars were much heavier back then. Of course I had a Volkswagen Beetle back then and it went through any kind of snow. Ah, those were the days…another story perhaps?

Okay, we made the following meal before tackling the outdoor elements: baked ham with mashed potatoes, spinach and carrots for the veggie dish. We also had a Romaine salad with red pepper, black olives, red onion, and grape tomatoes.

Here’s the wine we had with the meal:

Blackstone Winery 2008 Monterey County Sauvignon Blanc. Lemongrass and herbal notes on the nose followed by crisp citrus and melon nuances on the palate. The silky slight mineral finish also had a hint of apricot. A very decent wine at $9.99, 85 rating.

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



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