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!!

 

19 Crimes.

The 19 Crimes 2013 red wine is a blend of Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon & Pinot Noir and has an ABV of 13%. It has a real deep garnet color with aromas of red cherry, strawberry and bing cherry with hints of wood and smoke. The flavor is of cherry jam, strawberry, sweet mixed berries and a hint of oak.  On the back palate, a Swiss Miss cocoa powder gives this wine a smooth, velvety, chocolate finish.

I did have this with grilled pork, homemade potato salad & fresh green salad and it went quite well with the meal. I’m sure this wine will pair well with a variety of dishes but I’d like to try it with grilled, skinless chicken breasts smothered in Texas Hot & Spicy BBQ sauce, roasted potatoes and your choice of vegetables. Oh, and corn on the cob wouldn’t hurt either.  I would suggest having several glasses of this wine as it is really tasty.

I’ve seen this wine in the price range of $10.99 to $15.99 depending on which wine merchant I visit, but found this one up in the NH State Liquor store on sale for $9.99. I only bought 2 bottles – foolish me! You also know that I’m not real fond of Australian wines but this one suited my palate very nicely. I’ll have to remember when I go back up to NH or to Table & Vine in West Springfield to look for this wine and get at least a half case of it. For the price you can’t go wrong.

Words and Pictures (2013)

Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche portray two teachers at a high school where they strike up a rivalry of their respective passions – art & literature. Owens plays a one-time lit phenom, Jack Marcus, but hasn’t published in a long time. This, along with his alcoholism, may just be his demise and get him fired from the prep school.

Dina Delsanto (Binoche) is an abstract artist debilitated by rheumatoid arthritis and is the new teacher on campus. Jack quickly starts the flirting game by challenging Delsanto to a word game by increasing the number of syllables of words. The flirting then leads to romance but is soon dissolved by Jack’s alcoholic blunder.

Although it appears bleak that Jack and Dina will repair their relationship, the students are engaged in a competition as to whether words are more important than pictures. Is a picture really worth a thousand words?

While watching the movie I enjoyed a red blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Sirah produced by Bota Box called RedVolution.

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I know, I know it’s a box wine but for some reason I really enjoyed this with the movie along with some chips & pretzels. I found aromas of plum, blackberry and black cherry. This wine was quite jammy with similar tastes that I found on the nose. And for $19.99 for a 3 Liter box it’s pretty easy on the budget so it gets 7 1/2 wine glasses.

 

 

 

Domaine Mas Du Bouquet 2009 Vacqueyras

This Grand Vin de la Vallée du Rhone red blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre sells for $16 and has an ABV of 14.5%.

The Domaine Mas Du Bouquet 2009 Vacqueyras was a nice surprise as I had no preconceived notions when I purchased this wine – I’m getting better at this as I get older & wiser.

Aromas of dark cherry, dark plum, dark raspberry – dark berry in general wafted its way to the ‘ol schnozzola. Not sure if I was having a really good day or a really bad day with the aromas but dark berry was the call of the day.

Flavors of elderberry, boysenberry, fig, and yes, dark berries found a smooth dark chocolate cherry cordial finish. This had some nice acidity and I noticed this tasted much better the second day, so maybe I’ll open this up for a while in the future before pouring into my glass. Or at the very least through the aerator (which I neglected to do) to open up the aromas and flavors a bit more. But a very nice, decent wine for the price.

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

 

Ghost Pines 2011 Red Blend

I received this as a Christmas gift in 2013 (yeah I know – what took me so long?) and has a delectable blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Sirah, Merlot & Sangiovese grape varietals from Sonoma County (56%), Joaquin County (23%) and Napa County (21%) which yielded a deep garnet color with an alcohol by volume of 14.5%.

On the nose were aromas of blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry & mulberry. On the palate were a variety of flavors and each time I sipped the wine I got a different combination which was quite a surprise and a fun experience. In addition to the blueberry, blackberry, boysenberry & mulberry flavors I found spice and caramel mixed in with the blackberry combination with nuances of leather, tobacco & pepper – but not always the same.

We paired this with ziti & marinara sauce with Romano & Parmesan cheeses, a side green salad sans Italian bread (which I really missed) and had it on the deck. I’m not sure if the bottle returned to the pantry (where all my opened wines find their resting place) or it was emptied while enjoying it on the deck.

I don’t have a price for you on this wine as it was a gift, but whatever the price, it was worth it – don’t be afraid to bring this to the party and have it be the first one opened.

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

3000 BC 2009 Luscious Scarlett

Summer has finally arrived here in the Northeast. Mother nature certainly took her time – but I’m grateful. Although many believe a clean, crisp white wine fits the bill for a sipping wine while relaxing on the deck with the ideal temperatures and humidity, I still like my reds. The Luscious Scarlett is a South African Stellenbosch blend of 56% Shiraz and 44% Cabernet Sauvignon.

After aerating the wine I went through the ritual of swirling it several times while taking in the aromas each time. On the nose I found ripe plum, black cherry, blackberry, fig and anise. This took several moments as I was really enjoying swirling and sniffing. If anyone passing by would certainly think twice before knocking on the screen door. You know how we wine wannabes can be.

Now it was on to the flavors. Jammy plum, elderberry, boysenberry and fig on the palate with a nice peppery finish. Once the pepper dissipated a velvety chocolate truffle appeared on the back palate which was a nice surprise. It was a lot more than I envisioned – but isn’t that the best part of drinking wine?

Although I tend to drink a bit more white wine in the summer months I did relax on the deck with a glass of this wine reading Wine & War by Don & Petie Kladstrup and their description of the battle for France’s greatest treasure during WWII – wine!

The wine sells for around $14 and the ABV is 14%. Anytime you get a decent wine for under $15 it’s usually worth it.

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

Jacqueline Bahue 2012 Red Angel

Here is another selection I received from Naked Wines. I was mildly surprised with the Jacqueline Bahue Rosé I reviewed a couple of posts ago. And I’m not a real big Rosé fan but hope to try this one again in the summer while out on the deck.

Well, back to this red blend and I’m not sure what this wine’s blend varietals are but I’d guess it contains the major varietals we all see in most red blends. This opened on the nose with mostly a black berry aroma with a hint of Bing cherry. The flavors were of black berry with hints of berry jam and black cherry. There was some oak in the flavor.

This did not pique my interest a whole lot and doubt I would purchase again. Not that it isn’t worth it, but it’s that I have tried so many really good wines that are as good if not better and for the same price (around $10).

This has a screw top as did all the wines I received from Naked Wines. With a 14.2% ABV it had decent tannins and an okay balance. I had this stand alone so I don’t know if it would have gone better with food or not.

 

Apothic Rosé 2012

The 2012 vintage of the Apothic Rosé Limited Release California ‘First Cut’ was a mild surprise and one I didn’t expect. But then again, I never know what to expect from a bottle of wine I’ve never tried before.  I picked this up due to the fact I really enjoy the Apothic Red Blend and figured I would like to try this to see how it would compare to other Rosés’ and was pleased with the whole wine experience on this one.

First, this must be chilled to enjoy the complete wine. Second, you can have this with food or have it by itself. I decided to have this with stuffed green peppers & long grain rice. I wasn’t sure how this was going to pair. The sweetness of the wine complemented the roasted pepper with meat filling much better than I anticipated.

The color of the wine was that of raspberry lemonade and per the back label, was a description of its hue “…its vibrant hue from an ancient wine making practice called saignée, which means ‘to bleed’ intense color from the grape’s red skin”. Hmmm, wonder if that equates to raspberry lemonade?? The wine has medium acidity with 13% alcohol by volume and I picked this up for $8.99 ($11 average price from several different wine sites I visited).

Guess you want to know what the aromas and flavors were, huh? On the nose were aromas of apple, strawberry, berry, watermelon, and cherry. This is a blend of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon which produced flavors of strawberry and watermelon and didn’t really have much of a finish to it. There was a dash of sweetness to the wine, more so than in other Rosés’ I’ve had in the past. I’m thinking this would be much more suited to the warmer climates sipping out on the deck on a hot summer night.

 

Small and Small At Large 2012

Not the strangest name I’ve heard and yes, this is another selection from NakedWines.  Again, this has a screw top closure and has an alcohol content of 14.2%. Actually the six bottles of wine I received were all screw tops – what is the wine industry coming to? Although I do recognize the dilemma wineries face with cork and the possibility of losing up to 3% of your wine production can be costly.

Back to the Small and Small At Large, The color of the wine was dark red and I got black cherry, blackberry, strawberry, tobacco and leather notes on the nose which was quite pleasing. On the palate was a dominant black cherry flavor with hints of strawberry jam more so than fresh strawberries. I don’t have an issue with either flavor as I’m fond of fresh strawberry and strawberry jam (if it’s seedless).

The wine was decent for the price but for a very young wine (2012 vintage) the first sip seemed to be a bit flat or should I say it didn’t have that spark that glitters in your eye when tasting a wine. I did notice however that after a day or two in the pantry, the wine improved in flavor. I wouldn’t think a young wine would require a lot of decanting. Normally I pour this through my aerator but didn’t. I’ll remember next time though. You can find this at the Angel’s price of $8.50 (regular price of $19.99 – I wouldn’t buy this at that price) but the majority of wine sites I searched were selling this wine at under the $10 range.