Across The River II: Demolition Sleds

Seeing as we’re deep into the dead of winter and we wish it were spring time brings me to another story. When I was a younger lad much the same age as in “Across the River”, winter time was pretty cool as we got to play in the snow which was at least four feet deep by the middle of most February’s way back when.

Well, you remember I told you in an earlier post that I thought demolition derby was cool – it didn’t stop with candy apple red Farm-All tractors, oh no, it continues with snow sleds. You know, the old type snow sleds that were made of wood and metal runners, made to last and wouldn’t break upon impact with anything. What I forgot to do was read the fine print in the sled manual for proper care of your sled, although the sled was pretty old and the Red Flyer paint was faded and it was ailing in that the wood was beginning to splinter from so many downhill runs. What can you expect?

On a sunny cold winter day in February (yes, many years ago) my cousin (the one where we collaborated to scoff up one plate of toast which almost set off an international incident) and I and a bunch of other kids in the neighborhood decided to put some life into the sport of downhill sledding. Instead of just meandering down the hillside sledding merrily down the slope we decided it would be neat to start a new downhill sport called “Demolition Sledding”. Is this an Olympic sport? If not, it should be. Did I tell you I wore glasses since I was five years old? And that doctor’s made house calls? You know where I’m going with this don’t you?

Well, we decided to see how well demolition sleds worked. It worked fine, I guess, as the sleds came to a halt upon impact, however my cousin and I didn’t stop. You know what they say about a body in motion stays in motion or something like that. Well, here’s where the doctor comes in as the glasses I was wearing got involved in that physics stuff where an equal and opposite force does something. Well, the eyeglass lens dislodged from the frames (Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly frames I might add) and stuck centimeters (this is pretty small, right?) above my eye and although the eye is intact I have the scar to prove I was in Demolition Derby at the onset. Yes, that’s right, we were the pioneers of this new rave. Actually, I think I was banned from the sport that evening by my parents. By the way, one of the metal runners was split in two. Oh well, at least we can drink wine. Seeing as this is a winter post and we equate winter with snow and snow is white, let’s review a couple of whites. They happen to be some of my favorites.

Joseph Phelps 2003 Pastiche. Similar to a Montrachet with floral aromas, this blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, and Chardonnay grapes brought on pear and citrus flavors. More of a buttery than oaky finish but both were present which added to its complexity. A very good stand alone white wine. $12.99, 92 rating. Like I said before, that I prefer reds, but this is a really great white wine.

Chateau St Jean 2008 Sonoma County Fume Blanc. Pear, sweet citrus, and orange blossom notes on the nose lead into juicy fruits and tropical melons on the palate. Pair this with Asian stir fry. $12.99, 90 rating.

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


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Shall We Talk White Wine?

This post is devoted to white wines so I don’t get scolded from any of our white wine drinkers. So, white wine drinkers I’ll post a few comments on white wines but you’re going to have to help out and comment on the wines I reviewed as you clearly know more about them than I do. So, this post is dedicated to several predominately white wine drinkers that I know – obviously one of our wine enthusiasts’ sibling (yes, this is where I was scolded and put in my place concerning white wines), a fellow friend (Lisa) who would debate red (my choice) vs. white (her choice) any day of the week (I think I would lose by default ‘cos it’s already 2 to 1 in favor of white wines), to Heidi & Missy at C ‘N C for their dedication to white wine in general and to their craft as well. I made the mistake of bringing a red wine as an “oops, I’m sorry gift”, then later learned that white wine is THE choice of wine. Can you imagine having your own wine cooler in your place of business – now, that would be living. Okay, so that’s four white wine drinkers to one and I believe I know of at least 99 red wine drinkers so that’s a ratio of 25 to 1. Although I’m on the red wine side, I think I’m going to lose this battle which is why this post is dedicated to the white wine lover.

Let’s start with my favorite white wine which takes the form of a bubbly champagne. The Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut is comprised primarily of Pinot Noir, with shades of Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay while being aged for 24 months. On the nose are aromas of cherries jubilee, pear, apple and a splendid concoction of floral notes. The palate displayed fresh pineapple, orange zest and ground nutmeg. The finish you say? Bubbly – what did you expect?? Truly my favorite champagne. $39 for an NV, $45+ for vintage champagnes definitely deserves a 94 rating. Get this for a special occasion and throw caution to the wind. You can have this anytime you want either with food or without – your choice.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2009 Columbia Valley Dry Riesling. Nose notes are of a crisp apple orchard morning when the sun is cresting the horizon. Flavors of apple, peach, and lime precede a citrus finish. This pairs well with cedar plank salmon with garlic asparagus and baked rosemary seasoned red bliss potatoes sprinkled with olive oil. This also goes well with chocolate cake! It’s also good with appetizers like scallops wrapped in bacon. Try this with chicken salad atop romaine lettuce with grape tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, red & yellow peppers and if you must, croutons. $19.99 and a 92 rating.

Sharpe Hill NV Ballet of Angels. This semi-dry wine comes in a unique bottle that you must see to appreciate. The opening aromatic notes are floral similar to when you open the glass door at the florist to pick out some flowers, remember that aroma, sort of like that. Flavors abound of pear and peach with citrus notes of grapefruit. A nice mouth feel. Pair this with Cajun scallops. I’ll try to remember my home made recipe in a later post as it varies each time I make it, so it isn’t always the same. This will also go well with spicy or Oriental food. Serve well-chilled. $11.49, 92 rating. I may have rated this a bit higher if it were a dry white wine

Okay, here are three white wines I recommended, now I want you to post your favorite white wine so I can learn and appreciate more about white wines. Don’t be shy, I’m not…and you know if anyone looks like a fool – it’s me.

Does Tempranillo come in a white wine? Not to change the subject but I’m really getting to like the Spanish wines I’ve tasted lately. Wild raspberries and mocha stuff! Wow!!:))

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

Grandma’s Spaghetti Sauce

My Italian heritage gave me the basics to wine tasting and as a food critic as well. As a young child my grandfather would give us wine in a jelly glass (which probably amounted to about an ounce of wine but kept us quiet afterward) while my grandmother would simmer a marinara sauce from 5 am in the morning till sometime around 4 pm in the afternoon where we would gather at the dinner table to savor Grandma’s great spaghetti sauce over our favorite pasta while Grandpa poured our homemade wine. However, prior to the 4 pm ritual of eating pasta, Grandma would give us a sneak preview of the simmering liquid with a bowl of sauce with a meatball or two with Italian bread to soak up anything left over. The best part of the whole ritual was waiting for the wine prior to dinner. I could remember how that wine smelled and tasted and I’ll never forget those times. Think back to the first wine experience you had. How does it compare to now?

So, on with the wine reviews…

Banfi 2002 Col di Sasso. I believe this translates into “Stony Hill” where this is grown in Italy. This 70/30 blend of Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon opens with cherry, licorice, and chocolate aromas with a hint of spice & leather. Black currant, red raspberry and red cherry flavors finally succumb to a smooth mocha finish.  $8.99 and an 89 rating. And yes, pair this with spaghetti and meatballs.

This wine reminds me of those days Grandma would cook and all the beautiful aromas reached every sense you could muster while Grandpa (or Pop as everyone called him) poured our small indulgence of wine. Of course all I can remember from those days was that the wine smelled like LifeSavers – that isn’t such a bad thing, is it? I always try to keep a bottle of this wine in my collection, should you? Let me know what you think.

Continuing the effort to find the low priced reds I came across this Australian wine (Mike’s Cellar Emporium vows to find me an Australian wine I really like), that is, wine that I would actually keep in my cellar.

Lindemans 2007 Bin 55. This 60% Shiraz & 40% Cabernet Sauvignon yielded mulberry, black pepper, & earthy aromas with black cherry & black pepper on the palate and a slight mocha finish. I’m not crazy about Australian wines but I like this one. I had this with snacks – nuts, chips, pretzels, & crackers and it actually went pretty well. This would probably go well with a grilled burger or steak or just to drink. I think the Aussies are the only ones that refer to this as Shiraz, whereas everyone else calls it Syrah. $7.00 and an 82 rating although I may change/challenge the rating at a later date depending on how the second glass matches the first.

Although I will always kid white wine drinkers, I still remember being chewed out by a white wine drinker so I have found this little gem of some fairly unused grape varietals in a blend that awakens the senses.

Cline Cellars 2008 Marsanne Roussanne. Made with 74% Marsanne and 26% Roussanne grapes produced floral notes on the nose leading to apricot and nectarine flavors with a hint of lime and a subtle mineral finish. Serve this wine slightly chilled with Herb or Rosemary Chicken, rice pilaf, and a medley of pearl onions, sweet baby peas, and sautéed mushrooms. You can substitute the chicken with blackened fish (sea bass, haddock, flounder, etc. – you make the choice). This $20 bottle of wine yielded a 90 rating. Does this mean I’m starting to like white wine?? Or am I a red wine drinker going soft?

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