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.

Jacqueline Bahue Rosé Lodi 2012

The Jacqueline Bahue Rosé Lodi 2012 has an ABV of 12.3% and is the second of six bottles I received from NakedWines. Still a bottle of wine with a screw top closure (will I ever see a cork again???), at least I didn’t have to search for the corkscrew – like that’s really a problem huh? Anyway, this had a fruit punch color but stopped there as it began with a very nice fresh strawberry aroma. After swirling it for a bit I was able to detect a nice floral bouquet with hints of Peach Melba. And at the very end I picked out a hint of tart cranberry. I’ll have to tell you I was quite pleased with what I smelled so far as it gave me hope that the flavor would follow the nose’s lead so to speak.

On the palate a nice burst of fresh strawberry flavor abounded past the ‘ol taste buds and found ripe apricot on the back palate. Oh, but that wasn’t the end of the experience as the aftertaste was of creamy strawberry yogurt. This wine costs $14.99 on the Naked Wines website (see above link) but if you’re an “Angel” (still need to do my homework on this) the cost drops to $8.99, but I did find where this sells for around $8.99 on most sites I searched.

We paired this with baked chicken breasts (skinless) with a BBQ sauce concoction of Jack Daniels BBQ, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco brand hot sauce. We accompanied the chicken with Rice Pilaf (chicken style) and mixed veggies (regrettably from the can, but we survived) and surprisingly the wine and food went quite well. I also tried this stand alone and this would make a great summer sipping wine out on the deck on a warm summer eve with a bunch of friends to hang out with.

 

 

Jim Olsen Fair Angel 2012

Seeing as the holidays are over and might be some of the best and worst times of the year. Shoppers abound with good intent only to come home frustrated and tired with little to show for their efforts. Crowds are at an enormous level testing the small amount of patience we have left after we cannot find a parking spot – and we haven’t even started shopping yet. Even e-shoppers get the blues with out of stock items and Internet glitches.

However, we do have the ability to relieve all that stress of getting over the holidays by experimenting with new wines. I received a coupon from my brother for $50 off wine from NakedWines. So, I opted for one of their packages and selected a six-pack of wine which cost me a total of $11.68 for the six bottles which included the cost of shipping. I really can’t complain about the price but that never stopped me before… Seeing as the holidays were over and I wanted to start getting back into trying wines again I decided it was time to experiment with the wines I just received.

The first of the 6 bottles I opened was a Jim Olsen Fair Angel 2012 red wine from California. I couldn’t find out a whole lot about this wine other than the Naked Wine website. All I know is this – it’s a red blend (not sure of the grape varietals) and that’s about it…This had an ABV of 13.8% and a screw top closure. Both the aroma and flavor was dominated by black cherry – a real strong black cherry. It was difficult for me to pick out anything else but the black cherry. However, given enough time I was able to detect a bit of blackberry on the nose, nothing more on the palate though. I had this stand alone and the following day it did seem to have a bit more body and flavor but not much. According to the Naked Wine website this costs $24.99 (regular cost), $10.99 (Angel price) – I’d have to do more research on what constitutes an “Angel”. This wine leaned toward the semi-sweet scale rather than a semi-dry red wine. More to come on the other bottles I received and of course from the other 50 or so bottles in my wine cellar that I have not tried yet. Well – best I get to drinking…uh, I mean tasting those wines! Will they be gems???

RH Phillips 2000 Dunnigan Hills Cabernet Sauvignon

This bottle of RH Phillips Dunnigan Hills (sorry about the blurry picture) still had a real cork closure and not the screw tops this particular brand went to. I can remember the last time I opened this bottle of wine and it was pretty good. Although this wine was good it didn’t have the intensity it did when I opened another bottle about a decade ago.

I think I bought two of these back ten years ago and the first bottle was pretty good. And if you know me at all you know I can be very patient when it comes to cellaring wine to see how it ages throughout the years.

When you have high hopes for a brand of wine, you sometimes wait a bit too long to open a bottle of wine. I should have opened this a few years ago but it was still a decent wine as it didn’t disappoint with red cherry, red currant and red plum aromas.

On the palate I found flavors of red & black cherry, red & black currant, and red & dark plum. The flavors were decent enough but as I mentioned earlier the intensity and “pop’ of the wine was lacking.

Again, we paired this wine with a beef tenderloin with a baked potato and green beans & steamed broccoli. No dessert followed much to our chagrin but hey we don’t always have a dessert after a good meal. I just need to get better at knowing when to open a cellared bottle of wine.

Guess I need more experience, huh?

Adelaida 2009 Claudia

*Disclaimer: I received this wine from Griffin Estate Wines

The day started off with a brisk 50 minute walk around the neighborhood, then a few cups of coffee and a mindset that this was going to be a relaxing day. Well, my better half had other plans as she decided that cleaning the vinyl siding of our house was her project for the day. After 41 years of marriage, she pretty much has me pegged and knowing that eventually I’d come out of my relaxing day to help out. Yeah, I’m one of those that likes to procrastinate about household projects – and it works for me!

I decided that I’d give the power washer we bought a few of years ago a try. It took a couple of yanks but it eventually came to life and we added some detergent to the machine and started cleaning the house. It took about two hours with running to the local hardware store for a set of “o” rings that fell apart while washing the siding but it was finally finished. We couldn’t believe the results as it almost looked as if we just got the house re-painted.

Word to the wise though, if you decide to power wash your home do it when it’s the middle of summer with ambient temperatures reaching the mid-90s, not in October with temps at 68 degrees. Both my wife and I were soaked to the bone and chilled, although I did put on a raincoat about halfway through. So, after a long hot shower I decided it was time to make the noon day meal and open a bottle of wine to start the whole process.

After opening the bottle of wine to let it breath a bit, I seasoned two beef tenderloins that were about 2 1/2 inches thick with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt. Although we are the tale of two cooks concerning the “doneness” of the steaks as my wife prefers a medium to well done cooked center (hence I’ve gotten used to butterflying one steak) and mine are usually ‘mooing’ to me when it hits my plate. But I’ve gotten pretty good with setting the outdoor grill to about 400 degrees and grilling the tenderloins at about 6-8 minutes on one side, then 4-6 minutes on the other side. Whiling I was grilling the steaks the other cook was preparing garlic mashed potatoes and wax beans to finish off the meal. And of course I have to have freshly cut Italian bread too.

What really amazed me was the wine we opened to serve with the meal. Adelaida is in the Paso Robles region which consistently produces great wine. And the 2009 Claudia was no exception. It has a deep garnet color with pretty decent tannins. The 2009 Claudia has an ABV of 14.5% and is a red blend of Grenache (38%), Mourvedre (29%), Syrah (20%), Cinsault (11%) and Counoise (2%) and if you’ve read this blog long enough you know I’m particularly fond of red blends. It’s reasonably priced as I researched the following sites at WineWise, Ancona’s, and Wine-Searcher for price ranges. They all showed $19.99.

It opened with a very dominate black raspberry jam aroma but after swirling in my wine glass, a black cherry aroma emerged to open my ‘nose’ senses. Then after repeating the swirling process a few more times, a very pleasant concoction of tobacco, forest floor, wild mushroom, moss and boysenberry aromas awoke to finish off the experience. It took a while to open the aromas but when it did open it was wonderful. I got flavors of black currant, boysenberry, black cherry, thyme, cigar box and pepper. A slight hint of anise was found on the back palate. This wine was great as either a stand alone wine (I had another glass of this wine after lunch while reading in the sunny portion of the deck) or served with a meal. This would also be a great wine to bring to a party as you know it would be received well by the most discriminating of wine palates.

My wife thought it was fantastic and we don’t always agree on wine selections. But I do know if she says its “fantastic”, then it’s a really good wine because her wine rating system is “I like it” or “I don’t like it” which varies from my 1-10 wine glasses rating system.  I’m hoping I can get my hands on a case before it is sold out as I’m excited about having this as a staple in the Witless Whiner’s Cellar.

Oh, did I mention we topped off the wine experience with a Reese’s Pieces Hot Fudge Sundae? Well, it was almost a perfect match for the wine but a chocolate cheesecake may have been the ideal dessert for this particular opened bottle. Maybe on the next bottle perhaps…

 

Kitchen Sink NV Red Table Wine

I couldn’t resist picking up this bottle for the name alone. So, I had not a clue as to what this would bring to the kitchen table – no pun intended, nah I intended that! Anyway, I’m always in the market for new wines and sometimes I strike it rich, and sometimes not.

This was a fairly decent wine with 12.5% ABV and around $18 for a 750 ml bottle. I had every intention of having this with food. It was supposed to be served with grilled chicken and a fresh garden salad but it just didn’t work out that way, hey – it happens!

It started off with really great aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, elderberry, damp forest floor with hints of moss and earth. So, seeing as this is a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah I can understand all the great aromas.

On the palate I got blackberry, black raspberry, dark plum, fig, and black currant flavors. The downside to this wine was the flavors, albeit plentiful, lacked any sustainability. That is, the flavors didn’t last long plus with the $18 price tag I was expecting a bit more. So, pick up a bottle and check it out. You may get a much different impression than I did. Maybe we can compare notes.

 

Mawson’s Hill Block 3 Wrattonbully 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

If you’ve followed this blog long enough then you know I’m not a big fan of Australian wines. I have a tough time wrapping my arms around them. Many of my oenophile friends keep telling me I have to try this one or that one but I never seem to get the chance. So I picked this one on a whim with a cost of around $20 and an ABV of 14.5%.

The Wrattonbully wine region is in Southern Australia’s Limestone Coast which is in the southeastern corner of the state bordering Victoria. The red wines from this region are the mainstay of the Wrattonbully region. The Cabernet Sauvignon varietal is the most planted with Shiraz and Merlot right behind it.

I bought this particular bottle for two reasons. One being I’ve heard good things about the Wrattonbully region and of course the other being that I’m still prodded by my fellow oenophiles to keep trying Australian wines as they’re confident I’ll find one I like eventually.

I may have just found it. This is a medium bodied red wine with nice tannins. On the nose were aromas of mint (yeah, go figure), berry flavors with hints of minerals and earthy notes. The flavors were of elderberry, mulberry, dark berry, and plum. We had this with Bison burgers and it was a good match.

 

 

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.

Are Connecticut Winery Tasting Fees Too High?

I have only visited two wineries so far this year and there’s a good reason for that. 2012 was the last year I visited all the CT wineries on the CT wine trail (and some that are not on the CT wine trail) and I have been to all of them the previous three years. I’ve noticed two things since I’ve been visiting the Connecticut Wineries.

The first thing is that wines have gotten extremely better each year as many of the wineries have perfected their wines. I’m sure the grapes are maturing as they season each year.

They seem not to be boutique wineries as they were when first starting out but are becoming bonafide wine producers of consistently good wines. And the CT reds are starting to get much better than in the beginning. I think a lot of CT reds are getting as good as the CT whites, if not more so.

So, with that here’s the second thing I’ve noticed – tasting fees have risen considerably from the majority of the state’s wineries.  It used to be that I could visit all of the 30+ wineries (usually 4 at a time) and it would be reasonably priced at around the $3 to $6 for a tasting. And some were even free. Some of the wineries gave you their signature glass with the tasting fee.

I get it that you have to cover the costs of doing business and that much of the total production you harvest are mere “experimental batches” in California wineries. And I don’t mind paying more for a bottle of your wine as I like to support local wineries as much as I do local farmers’ markets.

Prior to this year wine tastings were approximately about 75 cents for an average ½ ounce pour. I can live with that. But this is what we’re experiencing at the wineries today:

$14 for 8 wines plus signature logo glass

$8 for 7 wines

$7 for 6 wines

$10 for entire wines on the list plus signature logo glass

$9 for 8 wines

$7 for 5 wines or $12 for 12 wines

2 free samples, $4 for 8 wines, or $8 for 12 wines

$6 for 6 wines plus signature logo glass

up to $25 for 6 wines (of which 2 are reserve wines) plus a famous brand name glass

$9 for 10 wines

$7 for 6 wines

some have options of 2 wine tastings consisting of:

$5-$8 for 3 or 4 wines OR $10-$12 for 7-9 wines plus the signature logo glass

$10 for 4 wines – REALLY?

I can go to almost any restaurant and get a decent glass of wine for around $6-8 and it’s usually around 6-8 ounces of wine. As you can see from the tasting fees above I’m paying about double that. And I only want to TASTE your wines not drink them.  If I want to drink your wines it will come after I taste them and at a different time as I will remember what your wines taste like and visit you again but with the purpose of bringing along a picnic lunch (most wineries allow you to do this, unless of course they sell food too which I understand) and purchasing either a glass of wine or a bottle and enjoy what your winery has to offer. Which means I’m going to spend a few hours at your establishment.

With the cost of gas nowadays I’m starting to get particular to which wineries I visit and if you’re going to charge me more than about a $1 for a ½ ounce pour I probably won’t be visiting you.

I can go about 15 minutes from home and get free wine tastings (because I belong to their wine club) for myself and up to four guests. Their wine club averages out to one bottle of wine a month. Then, there is another winery I travel about 50 minutes to because their wine is exceptional plus I cannot remember when they last charged me for a tasting, even though their wine tastings are one of the few wineries that have reasonable fees for tastings. 

As far as the signature logo glass is concerned. I really do not need it. If you sponsor a wine festival at your winery then I expect to get signature logo souvenir glass. After all, don’t take this to heart but given my druthers I’d rather drink my wine from a Riedel wine glass (yes, I’m snobbish that way but have found a good wine glass makes the wine taste better) so I won’t be drinking the majority of my wine from a signature logo wine glass unless of course it’s a Riedel. I’m seeing a trend of exploding tasting fees in the future. Are the CT wineries forcing me to visit wineries outside the state???

Okay fellow oenophiles – am I wrong? Do you agree or disagree?  Please comment on the post. Let me know how you feel. It can be as easy as “I agree” or “I don’t agree”.  Winery owners – how about you? Am I on target or am I sniffing up the wrong grapevine? I’d like to hear your point of view.

Taylor Brooke St. Croix Rosé

It’s been a while since I’ve been blogging and I recently got an email to my website account from wannabewino.com about Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW) and that it’s back. Well, for one, this was news to me and it’s been around for a long time. Goes to show ya that you can teach a new dog an old trick – no, reverse that. Anyway, getting back to the reason I’m posting this one is simple – I needed to get back in the “sip” of things and this seemed like a good place to start. You can read the background for WBW from Tim Elliott at winecast.com for more information. This happens to be WBW #80, but the first for me.

The theme for WBW #80 is a dry rosé and as many of you know I’m more of a bold, sassy, dry red drinker with a Borolo at the top of the list although there are many others that could easily tie for the top spot. Although when I leave this earth I believe I’ll be toting a French Bordeaux or two with me – well, I can’t use my wine luggage for traveling on the plane anymore so I might as well put it to good use.

So I went looking for a bottle of dry rosé and wouldn’t you know I could only find one and I really thought I had two in my wine cellar. Alas, whiners of wine, I remembered I did a tasting up at Taylor Brooke back a few months and was really impressed with their rosé and realized the wine was still in the box I brought home and had not logged it into my wine database yet – not like my mind is going or anything like that! Seeing as this is my first WBW I thought doing a virtual wine tasting of a local wine would be a pretty good choice. The rosé sells for around $14 and had an ABV of 12% so it won’t break the bank and one glass isn’t going to get you tipsy. It’s made for summer sipping and produced from the St. Croix grape varietal.

So, I chilled the wine as I was planning on having it on a warm summer afternoon out on the deck whiling reading one of three books I’m in the process of reading now. And yes, I can remember the plots and characters in each of them – hey, my mind isn’t all that gone – yet!! Okay, the wine’s been chilling in the wine cooler and I’m making a new recipe for a late lunch and early dinner.

The wine opened with a nose predominately of red raspberry (I have to open the wine before I start cooking) and the aroma was much like when I pick fresh wild red raspberries that grow in the backyard when it’s hot and muggy outside with the sun shining with nary a cloud to find. I continued to sniff into the wine glass and found strawberries and black raspberry aromas too. I also detected a slight hint of apricot after sniffing it for 8 or 9 more times. On the palate I found the succulent red raspberry flavors with hints of black raspberry and red currant. This dry rosé had a nice acidic feel to it and the finish was very smooth and creamy on the back palate.

The meal consisted of chicken marinated overnight with a soy ginger marinade making the chicken moist and quite tasty. Along with the chicken were grilled pineapple slices and grilled Portabella mushrooms. We then added garden fresh tomatoes, baby Swiss cheese, sautéed red onions and avocado slices. The recipe called for all of this to be delicately placed between two slices of Ciabatta bread but my better half and my son decided to put it all on a plate while I had mine on the Ciabatta sans the avocado.

Needless to say, the meal went well with the dry rosé and I opted for cubed cantaloupe and fresh picked blueberries for dessert and not only did the wine complement the meal but added to the dessert. If you could imagine a red raspberry in liquid form – this would be it.