Captain’s Bootey

Holidays are a great time for just relaxing with a good book, letting out a bit of steam, enjoying the company of family and friends while grilling out on the deck, unwinding after a hard day at work or just because…

Here’s a real simple rum drink that’s easy to make (recommended by our daughter). Pour 2 oz. of coconut rum (we happened to use Captain Morgan’s Parrot Bay Coconut rum) into a shaker along with 6 oz. of pineapple juice. Shake and pour into a glass filled with ice cubes, garnish with either a pineapple slice or a Maraschino cherry or both or no garnish – hey, remember we’re relaxing here.

Chicken With Plums

Foreign film – French (2011).

Poulet aux prunes is about an established violinist, Nassir Ali Khan, set in 1950’s Tehran. However, there are a few turns in the story. It’s filled with flashbacks after his wife breaks his beloved violin in a fit of frustration. He is unable to find a replacement for his broken violin, thus he has become broken. As a result of this, he decides that the only outcome is to end his life.

The film is whimsical in nature as we are taken down a rabbit hole of scenarios, flashbacks, and surreal frames of Nassir’s hallucinations. We find that Nassir does not love his wife, even though she thoroughly adores him. Nassir’s true love was lost to him due to his profession as a musician. This scenario takes us on a journey that is all too familiar in most films.

Amidst his flashbacks, Nassir has a few comical moments when he speaks with the Angel of Death, then back to reality while speaking with his brother, then back in the rabbit hole again seeing his true love as she feigns not to know who he is when they happen by chance to encounter each other years later. It’s the classic romance, albeit more like a Shakespearean ending than a true love story. Overall, I wasn’t as impressed with the movie but was mesmerized by each individual scenario. So for me the parts of the movie were better than the picture as a whole.

BTW, his favorite meal is chicken with plums…

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.

Black or White Russian

The Un-Whined series is for those that are wanting a change from the traditional glass of wine and would prefer something a little different.

For a Black Russian combine 2 oz of Vodka with 1 oz coffee liqueur, shake and pour into an old fashioned glass, no garnish necessary.

For the White Russian repeat the above ingredients and float 1 oz of cream or half & half and stir with a cinnamon stick and plenty of ice.

For the un-Un-Whined crowd combine 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream, 1/4 cup cream, milk, or half & half, and 1 drop of vanilla extract into a blender. Blend on high for 15-20 seconds. Pour into an old fashioned glass and garnish with a white chocolate Hershey Kiss.

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.

Columbus Circle (2012)

Abigail Clayton (Selma Blair) is a very, very lonely person. She is also very, very rich. This movie is full of twists and turns as we enter the daily life she leads. Abigail suffers from agoraphobia in which she is fearful of wide open spaces and situations where she may come in contact with others in malls, train stations, airports, etc. and she is being treated by the good doctor, Dr. Ray Fontaine played by Beau Bridges.

As the story unfolds I found myself on the edge of my seat in places and wasn’t ready for some of the twists this movie had to offer. It starts with Abigail’s neighbor being murdered and the suspense begins when a detective has some concerns over the circumstances of the murder. Then new neighbors move in even though Abigail has offered a lot of money for the apartment.

Abigail finds out the new couple have marital problems and befriends the new wife by comforting her after she is beaten by her husband. And this is where is really gets interesting. I can’t tell you what happens next, as this would really spoil the ending for you. You’ll have to rent it to see the ending…

 

Preston Ridge Vineyards

This past weekend I awoke on Saturday morning hoping to soak the deck in Australian Timber oil to protect the beautiful cedar boards so I can get our patio furniture out and I can enjoy the warm weather, if it ever comes this year.

It has to, I presume, because the local farmers have all spread manure on their fields and that is a sure sign that spring has sprung. But the only liquid soaking the cedar was from natural resources – rain, that is.

So, I’m moping around the house getting under my better half’s skin as she’s trying to study and I’m trying to have a conversation. So, I was politely told to go do something, go to a winery or something. Well, I don’t need to be prodded to visit a winery. So, I logged on the computer to see where I wanted to go and found a new winery I had not heard of yet.

Preston Ridge Vineyard opened last October but I was unaware as I had already turned in my CT Passport (no, I didn’t win) and was pretty much done for the wine season. Seeing as the vineyard was only 8-9 miles away, I figured what the heck and I gathered my keys to the car and hit the road. It didn’t take long and I was soon at the vineyard.

IMG_0168

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After heading down the entrance the tasting room came into view and there were only about five cars in the parking lot and the building seemed to be fairly large so I was excited about visiting a new winery.

IMG_0170

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon entering the wine bar is just to the right of the entrance. This is where I met Steve and Ann, the owners, and where I began my wine tasting.

IMG_0171

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But not before I noticed the 144 bottle wine rack to the right of the wine bar. I have to get one of these wine racks.

I started my wine tasting with their 2011 Fieldstone White which is a blend of Cayuga grapes and it opened with peachy and citrusy notes both on the nose and the palate. Although it wasn’t a real warm day I could envision sipping this on a warm sunny afternoon out on the deck that is, if I ever get the Australian Timber oil on it.

Next up was the 2011 Chardonnay which had peach, apple, and pear aromas and as this was chilled to just about the right temperature the flavor was similar to the aromas as my palate found this to be clean and crisp. As many of you know I am not a real big Chardonnay drinker but I liked this one. On their tasting menu were two other Chardonnays of similar aromas and tastes, however the 2011 Chardonnay Reserve had a real buttery finish on the palate and the 2011 Chardonnay Premier Cellar Reserve finished with vanilla notes on the back palate.

Next up was the 2011 Zundell Farm Rose which was light and refreshing and reminded me of strawberry shortcake sans the cake but with the creamy topping. Again, another good summer sipping wine. This would probably go well with a cheese and fruit tray.

Now I was on to their reds and the first one was the 2011 Cabernet Franc which is one of my favorite reds – actually, reds are my favorites in general. This didn’t disappoint as jammy red raspberry, red currant, and red cherry flavors were plentiful with a slight peppery finish.

Then I tried the 2011 Estate Cabernet Franc and I found much the same as the previous Cabernet Franc but detected hints of plum with the same slight peppery finish. The the last wine on the wine list was the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon which consisted more of the black berry fruits of cherry, raspberry, strawberry, currant with hints of earth and leather.

Well, I thought this was the end of the wine list but Steve and Ann had a few more surprises. I was treated to a few barrel tastings (these are some of my favorite things) and was quite surprised to be offered a couple of Rieslings which weren’t even on the tasting menu. I couldn’t tell you specifically what the two were but the aromas and flavors were of peach, honeysuckle, and pear with slight hints of green apple. Clean, crisp and wonderful, however these won’t get bottled until the fall but worth the wait if you’re a Riesling drinker.

The last one was a Cabernet Franc. I really liked this one and it will be bottled in the winter which was a surprise to me as it tasted perfect. I’ll definitely be back to taste this one again when it’s ready. Bet you’re wondering what the aromas and flavors of the barrel Cabernet Franc – oohhh, you’re going to have to visit the winery and hope they bring some of this up to the tasting room to experience the nuances of this wine.

IMG_0175

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was leaving I took this picture and I’m not sure what this is but I’d love to turn that into a bocce ball court.

IMG_0176

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now this is the way to do a wine tour!

 

 

Root 1 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

This bold red wine is produced in the Colchagua Valley in Chile and has a 13.5% ABV with a price tag of around $14 give or take a few bucks. This started with black currant, blackberry, licorice, smoked bacon, leather and earth notes on the nose. For me this is some pretty good aromas to start off with.

Once I was done wafting in the aromas, I found blueberry, blackberry, dark cherry, and mocha flavors with a hint of licorice and light pepper. A mix of mocha and chocolate on the back palate and finish rounded out the tasting on this wine.

We paired this with a beef stir fry with crunchy broccoli, snap peas, onions, green pepper, celery and mushrooms over long grain rice.

Root 1 does have a Carmenere that is supposed to be pretty good so I need to find a bottle of this and try it. If any of you have tried the Carmenere – please drop me a note and let me know what you experienced.

Nicosia 2010 Nero D’Avola

The Nero D’Avola grape varietal is one of my favorites and I’m particularly fond of Italian wines and the wine label was written entirely in Italian so I couldn’t resist buying it. I was able to translate about half of it as my Italian is limited to the darker side of speech (due to my grandparents always cussing at each other in Italian, hence I got to learn those words quite well) but nonetheless I was able to put the correct proper words from Italian to English. However, if I thought of it I could have used any one of a multitude of apps that would have done the translation easier and probably in a fraction of the time it took me to work it out.

The Nicosia 2010  sells for around $14 and has an ABV of 12.5%, rather low on the red wine scale but very tasty nonetheless. The wine was a dark ruby color with a purpleish rim which on a young wine yielded dark plum, spice, chocolate, and a hint of pepper, but not too peppery on the nose. The palate however exhibited more of a red fruit concoction of red plum, red raspberry, red cherry with nuances of earth notes and pepper accents on the finish.

This was quite an enjoyable wine as we paired this with sausage al forno and it fit perfectly with the acidity of the sauce and the sweetness of the sausage topped with Romano cheese (me), or Parmesan cheese (my better half), or shredded Mozzarella would have also sufficed (next time). Enjoy the wine and the food.