Wine Blogging Wednesday

WBW #49: A Toast To End The Bush Era

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008 | Sparkling Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday | No Comments

Political blogger/cartoonist/wine blogger/wearer of many hats D. Honig of 2 Days Per Bottle has come up with a rather challenging topic for this month’s edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday: A toast to the end of the Bush Era. I’ve been thinking about this for weeks and honestly, I’m still not sure of an answer. I think what I choose to drink will largely depend on who takes over the White House next. If it’s my candidate, I will obviously feel quite hopeful and celebratory. If it’s not… well, I might just want to drink myself into oblivion and stay there for the next four year. OK, I wouldn’t go quite that far but I certainly won’t be dancing around.

But for the sake of this post, let’s assume my candidate wins and I’m feeling not only relieved that the last eight years are behind us, but for the first time in those eight years I’m feeling that our country will start moving in the right direction. The natural choice for me is a Champagne. But let’s remember that the U.S. economy is not in the best of shape. I am trying to drink from our cellar and not purchase anything new. With that in mind, I think my choice shall be this bottle of Pol Roger Brut Reserve. Even if you’re purchasing this at a wine shop, it won’t totally empty your pocketbook. It retails for around $30.

I’ve actually not tasted this wine before, and since we have only the one bottle, I wasn’t going to open it just for this. I chose it for a couple reasons, though. First of all, it’s French. Thinking back on the absurd “boycott” on all things French that the Bush administration encouraged, I figured at the very least I can stick some bubbles in their eye. But another reason I chose it is in honor of one of our favorite customers at our former wine shop — Buzz. Buzz shared our political views and would drop by with a copy of an article that he’d insist we read right then and there so we could rant and rave about the sorry state of our country and how we would hope that people will be intelligent enough this time around to vote for change. Buzz also lovedthis particular Champagne. I’m pretty sure he and his wife bought the better part of its inventory. So I feel it only makes sense to pull this bottle out of the fridge on January 19th.

Hopefully we’ll be ushering in a new era of government, and not just bidding adieu to the old one.

WBW #48: Back to Your Roots

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008 | Bordeaux, France, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines Under $20 | 2 Comments

Four years ago Lenn Thompson of LENNDEVOURS had a neat idea called Wine Blogging Wednesday. It was essentially a virtual wine-tasting event. These days most wine bloggers are familiar with it, but 48 months ago it was just starting out – a tiny grape on the vine, if you will. It is only fitting that Lenn hosts this special anniversary edition: Back to Your Roots.

We’re all wine lovers, but we have gotten where we are today in a variety of ways on a variety of paths. These long, windy paths are littered with wines the world over. I just want you to pick one of the wines from the beginning of your journey, taste it again for the first time in a while, and tell us about it.

I turned 21 during my senior year at UMass, a school well-known for its… erm… appreciation of potent potables. Even back then, however, I was eager to learn about wine and every couple of weeks treated myself to a bottle of something “nice” in between the jugs of Carlo Rossi Burgundy. One evening a couple friends and I stopped at a package store in Sunderland, MA near our apartment and I picked out a Bordeaux: 1994 Baron Philippe de Rothschild Mouton Cadet. A friend of mine who had graduated from the Culinary Institute of America had at one point talked to me about Rothschild wines and I’m sure that’s why I bought it — the name stuck out.

Mouton Cadet Bordeaux, circa 1997 (the year consumed, not the vintage)Back then I would soak wine bottles in a sink full of cold water (after the wine had been consumed, of course), and then carefully peel off the label. After it dried, I’d make notes on the back: the date, who I was with, food, and any other pertinent information. Who knew it would come in handy someday? I drank this particular bottle (in its entirety, yes), on March 1, 1997 while feasting on Pasta Roni (I believe it was the white cheddar and broccoli flavored version), round about 2 AM. I’d been out with some friends and while one promptly fell asleep upon our return home, the rest of us stayed up laughing, talking, and of course enjoying some wine and beer.

I suppose that’s part of the reason I chose this particular wine for WBW. Wine is as much about the company and the experience as it is the wine itself. You can have a crappy bottle of wine and still have a good night out with friends. However, even the right bottle of wine can’t always reconcile an evening with people you can’t stand. That’s not to say I didn’t like the wine because I do remember enjoying it very much, and it set me on my way to explore the region of Bordeaux, which is one of my favorite wine regions today.

Mouton Cadet Bordeaux, circa 2008 (the year consumed, not the vintage)It had been ages since I had last tasted this wine. I wasn’t even sure what to expect. While out and about on Saturday, I swung by Liquorama in Hyde Park, NY hoping they’d have my sought-after Mouton Cadet. And they did. Since it was pretty much impossible to recreate the exact circumstances under which I’d originally had this wine (Stay up until 2 AM? Yeah, right!), I set about instead to focus on the taste. The 2005 vintage is a blend of 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc. It is 13% APV. The wine was predominantly woody all around from the nose to the flavors. I also detected some cherry. It’s a dry, earthy, “Old World” style Bordeaux. While I didn’t find it to be anything really special, for $8.99 it is certainly decent. Perhaps decanting it would have brought out more of its nuances. Or perhaps I just needed to pair it with some Pasta Roni. ;-)

I’m not sure I’ll be picking up another bottle anytime soon as there are other inexpensive Bordeaux wines that I prefer, but in a pinch I’d grab it. I think that back then I did OK when choosing it, considering all I knew about wine was what I liked!

I can’t wait to see what everyone else chose (and learn about what we all were drinking in our salad days). I’ll be sure to post a link to Lenn’s round-up once he’s completed it.

WBW #45: Old World Riesling

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008 | Germany, Riesling, White Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday | 5 Comments

urban1.jpgWhen Tim Elliot of Winecast announced the theme (Old World Riesling) for the current edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, I was really looking forward to it. I don’t drink many Rieslings and consider the variety to be unfamiliar territory for the most part, and thus an adventure. German Rieslings are arugeably the most famous of all “Old World” Rieslings. The country’s Riesling vines can be traced back to 1435 and by the end of the 19th century Riesling was the region’s dominant grape variety. In Germany, you might hear Riesling called “The King of White Wine Grapes.”

I decided to come back to a German Riesling that I had quickly tasted at an industry event in the fall: 2006 Urban Riesling Nic Weis Selection. I remembered liking it and wanted to be able to take my time and get a better feel for it. Urban Riesling is produced from grapes in the vineyards neighboring St. Urbans-Hof Estate in Leiwen, Germany. St. Urbans-Hof has only 30 hectares of land on which to grow grapes, and with their reputation for high-quality wine that was growing in popularity, German winemaker Nik Weis reached the limit on what he could produce from his own vineyards. In 2006 he began to source grapes from his neighbors and began producing Urban Riesling. He put his name on the label to assure consumers it was a high-quality product. I found a bit of background on this wine at Wine Online:

“The Mehringer Zellerberg vineyard is a southern- facing site of slate soils which offers the perfect conditions for producing a typical Mosel Riesling on a high quality level,” said Weis. “Since the area is lesser-known than others on the Mosel, and because the vineyard is only slightly-steep, allowing some vineyard work by tractor, Urban Riesling also offers great value.”

As a member of Germany’s prestigious VDP (German Association of Praedikat and Quality Wine Estates), Weis is restricted from using the St. Urbans-Hof label on any wine that is not grown on his own property. He is diligent in honoring that regulation and thus, Urban Riesling carries the name I. Weis as producer on the label.

The wine has a very pretty light straw color. We were tasting it at about 9 PM, but I imagine that it would glisten beautifully if you were enjoying a glass of this Riesling out on the deck or porch. There were aromas of honey, pear, minerals, and a melony sweetness. The melon and pear carried through to the palate, and the sweetness rolled onto my tongue nicely. The wine resolved to a semi-dry, mineraly finish: quick and crisp. For around $11.99, I think that Urban Riesling is an excellent value. Like most German Rieslings it would pair well with foods that have a bit of spice to them. I think it would be great with grilled kielbasa (from a good butcher please, not the supermarket stuff if you can help it) and sauerkraut (with caraway seeds if possible). I could also see this pairing well with sushi. I think the sweetness of the wine would be a great contrast to the salty soy sauce and hot wasabi. Of course, Riesling is wonderful on its own and at only 10.5% alcohol, is a great choice for warmer weather when you don’t want to drink anything heavy.

Thanks again to Tim for hosting and picking a great topic for this round. Stay tuned for the announcement of the round-up, and the topic for Wine Blogging Wednesday #46, which will be hosted by Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20.

Wine Blogging Wednesday #44: French Cabernet Franc

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008 | Cabernet Franc, France, Loire Valley, Red Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines Under $20 | 5 Comments

Olga Raffault 2002 Chinon

The topic for this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday was picked by Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. The topic he chose for WBW #44 is French Cabernet Franc.

loiremap_293x280_1.jpgCabernet Franc grapes are grown mainly in the Bordeaux region, where they are blended into the wines. However, the only terroirs that produce pure Cab Franc wines are in the Loire Valley: Bourgueil, Chinon, and Saumur-Champigny. At least in the United States, the Loire Valley might be better known for its Vouvray, and perhaps that’s because the reds might be difficult for some palates to love. Unlike the fruitier Cabernet Franc wines from the West Coast, French Cab Franc tends to be a little more… how shall I say it? “Rustic” perhaps? And I mean that in a good way. It is refreshing to get away from super-fruity wines and enjoy something that challenges your taste-buds a little bit.

I sent Drew on a mission to seek out a Loire Valley Cabernet Franc and he had little difficulty finding one. He purchased a bottle of 2002 Olga Raffault Chinon “Les Picasses” ($18.99) at Arlington Wines & Liquor in Poughkeepsie, NY. Winemaking in  Olga Raffault‘s vineyard in Savigny-en-Véron has been a family tradition for over 60 years. Olga passed the vineyard onto her son Jean, and it is currently maintained by Olga’s granddaughter Sylvie and her husband Eric de la Vigerie, who is also the winemaker. Of the 25 hectares of vineyard, 24 hectares are planted with Cabernet Franc. The other hectare is planted with Chenin Blanc.(Trivia: These two grapes are credited as being “parents” to Cabernet Sauvginon.)Here is a bit of information on Les Picasses that I found at The Wine Doctor:

Lastly comes Les Picasses, undoubtedly the most classic and ageworthy wine from the domaine, and some would say also one of the finest examples of the whole appellation. Naturally it comes from a limestone terroir, a lieu-dit where the vines have reached a respectable fifty years of age. The fruit is hand-harvested and the final yield is typically in the order of 30 hl/ha and after fermentation, which is again carried out in stainless steel controlled to less than 30°C, followed by a maceration of 25-30 days, the wine that results goes into large foudres where it will rest for between 12 and 14 months before bottling.

We were very excited to taste this wine. In the glass it is a dark, deep red, and brown-tinged around the edges. It was rather watery, which is characteristic of the wine. The complex nose might have been the most interesting part of the wine for me — it was unlike most wines I drink. There was something metallic (almost bloody) about it. I also was reminded of pine mulch. Imagine standing in the woods in very late fall, or even now in early spring and scooping up a handful of dried pine needles off the ground. After a while I got a hint of marigold, too. Again — a very earthy scent. There was a tiny bit of alcohol on the nose as well, which surprised us as the wine is only 12.5% alcohol.

This is a light-to-medium bodied wine. The metallic scent carried through to the palate and we immediately thought of iron when we tasted this wine. I think Drew put it best when he said that the wine “tastes like a good butcher shop smells.” I know that doesn’t exactly sound delicious, but trust me — it was. After some time we detected sour cherry and unripe raspberry flavors as well. The tannins were present, but certainly not overwhelming, and there was a suggestion of ash on the finish. I found it to be a delicate wine, but Drew argued that “delicate” implies “dainty” which the wine surely is not. Perhaps “elegant” or even “graceful” would be a better a description?

I originally intended to serve the Chinon with roasted pork tenderloin (which would have been great with the wine, I think). However, we’d gone out to lunch on Sunday and were much too full for another big meal. Instead we opted for a snack tray that included Herbes de Provence salami, garlic and red pepper olives, goat cheese rolled in parsley and lemon zest (full credit to Jenn at Last Night’s Dinner for this idea), grapes, honeydew melon, and French bread with butter. I was surprised to find that I thought the wine paired best with the goat cheese bites. The lemon zest brought so much flavor out of the wine and I didn’t expect that. While I think this wine is drinking well right now, I think it will hold up quite well over the next several years. I might pick up another bottle, myself.

Thanks to Gary for hosting. Rumor has it that this might be the WBW with the highest participation level to date, which is exciting. I’m eager to read everyone’s posts. Wine Blogging Wednesday is the brainchild of Lenn Thompson of LENNDEVOURS.

Loire Valley Map Image from Brittany Ferries

WBW #43: Comfort Wines

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 | California, Lodi, Red Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines Under $20, Zinfandel | 5 Comments

Joel Vincent, of Wine Life Today, is responsible for choosing this month’s topic for Wine Blogging Wednesday: Comfort Wines:

Choose a wine, any wine, that you love to unwind to and tell us about not only the wine but what makes the experience special and relaxing for you!

At first this seemed easy enough, but when it came down to actually picking one wine to write about, the task became rather daunting. There were several bottles in the running. I had to really think about what “comfort wine” means to me. I considered some of my favorite comfort foods (steak-frites; tuna salad in a pita, dunked into some chicken noodle soup; penne topped with my husband’s marinara sauce) and realized that they’re all pretty accessible foods. They’re all easy to prepare, the ingredients are readily available, and they’re not terribly expensive. Since there are just so many wines that I could pick to write about for this topic, I thought I’d apply the same criteria to wine.

ravenswood.jpgThe bottle I would write about had to be readily available (because there’s nothing worse than really wanting a glass of a specific wine and not being able to find it) and not terribly expensive (I decided to cap it at $15). I also wanted to pick a wine that was “quaffable” — that is, a wine that stands on its own and doesn’t really require food to be enjoyable. With that in mind I picked Ravenswood Lodi Zinfandel. It retails for around $12.99 and you can find it pretty much anywhere. I’m a big fan of Ravenswood wines, so really I’d be pleased as punch with anything from the winery, but I happen to be especially fond of the Lodi Zinfandel.

The wine is a blend of 84% Zinfandel, 14% Petite Sirah, and 2% “mixed blacks.” It is a full-bodied wine that is jammy and spicy with flavors of raspberry, plum, and vanilla. It is soft and lush as it rolls around in your mouth. The oaky finish is nice and warm and consistently puts a smile on my face. At 14.5% alcohol, it’s a big wine but I find the alcohol to be well-integrated.

No, it’s not a terribly complex wine, but when I’m thinking about “comfort” I want something that’s easy. I want to kick around in my bunny slippers and to curl up in my favorite chair. I don’t want to teeter on heels and be aware of my posture all night. I don’t want a wine that makes me work. I don’t want to decant or swirl the heck out of the glass, trying to open it up and coax out all the little nuances that make it a fantastic wine. Sometimes I just want to crack open a bottle that I know I can trust, pour it in a glass, and enjoy. I think that Ravenswood has consistently proven it can make quality “no brainer” wines. When I pick up a bottle of Ravenswood anything, I’m confident that I’m purchasing a decent product.

It’s been interesting to see what other wine bloggers consider comfort wines. I’ve noted that Sonadora of Wannabe Wino and Erika of StrumErika.com also picked Zinfandels. Once Joel has had a chance to compose his wrap-up, I’ll be sure to let you know so you can check out what everyone else chooses to help them relax.

WBW #42: Just Seven Words (Drew’s Wine)

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 | Italy, Pinot Grigio, White Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines Under $20 | 1 Comment

As Carol mentioned, we decided to take a tag-team approach for this, my first official Wine Blogging Wednesday contribution. I decided to take on one of the more popular mass-market Italian whites.

cavit.jpg
2006 Cavit Pinot Grigio
“If you like adding ice, try me”

WBW #42: Just Seven Words (Carol’s Wine)

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 | Chianti, Italy, Red Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines Under $20 | 1 Comment

IMG_8536 This month Andrew Barrow of Spittoon challenged us to describe an Italian wine in just seven words. After going all out for last month’s Friuli which was a challenge to find (and a bit pricey), Drew and I decided to each taste a cheap, readily available Italian wine — one red, one white — and have some fun. Based on a coin toss, I get to post mine first! Here goes:

Wine: 2006 Opici Chianti
Description: Not a bad ten dollar candle holder.

Cheers!

WBW #41 | Whites From Friuli Venezia Giulia

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 | Friuli, Italy, White Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday | 5 Comments

friuli.jpgLet me first admit something: I’m highly suspicious of white wines from Italy. I can’t help it; I just think of cheap Pinot Grigio. Now don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing inherently wrong with cheap Pinot Grigio. Here at Pour More, we’re not wine snobs. Heck, we drink Crane Lake Cabernet Sauvignon on a regular basis and are not ashamed to admit that. But to date I have not been impressed by white wines from Italy (the exception being that delicious, sparkling treat: Prosecco). So when I became aware of this month’s topic I considered skipping it. Jack and Joanne of Fork & Bottle chose Friuli Venezia Giulia white wines. And when I had a difficult time finding anything decent from Italy’s Friuli region, I seriously considered throwing in the towel.

But I thought that I really should plod on, especially because Italian white wines are something I generally ignore. None of the local wine shops had any Friuli wines in stock (well, they had Kris Pinot Grigio, but I really didn’t think that was what the hosts were going for, espcially since Jack and Joanne cautioned us that quality wines from this region are rarely priced under $18), so I tacked two bottles onto an order from one of our distributors. The Tocai was backordered, but my second choice arrived last week.

The 2004 Vidussi Ronchi di Ravez ($24.00) is a white blend. The grapes are not listed on the wine label, and I am assuming the blend changes from vintage to vintage because in my research I found two different descriptions of this wine. One says it is a blend of Sauvignon, Pinot Bianco, Ribolla Gialla, and Picolit. The other says it is a blend of Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia Istrian, Tocai Friulian, and Picolit. Either way, we can guess that that Picolit and Ribolla Gialla both found their way into my bottle. Loosely translated, “Ribolla Gialla” means “yellow” and that certainly makes sense once you see the color of this wine. It truly is yellow, making Drew think of lemons and making me think of a pilsner beer (though ever so slightly lighter). It was an unusual and very pretty shade. The nose reminded us of a California Chardonnay: buttery, with a suggestion of cream. There was an apple componant as well and as I swirled my glass eventually I coaxed out some apricot.

Don’t be fooled, though. This wine tastes nothing like a California Chard. It’s one of the most unusual white wines I’ve had. It has a wonderful, creamy mouthfeel and tastes of dried apricots (there was a concentrated sweetness) and almonds, or perhaps another very mild nut. Almond was what first came to my mind. It has a lingering, nutty finish that coats your tongue after you swallow. The wine is full-bodied and begs you to take your time while drinking it.

I served this with a very simple pasta dish: chicken breast, red peppers, broccoli, and whole wheat fusilli sautéed with herbs and olive oil, and topped with Pecorino Romano cheese. Although it paired well, I think the wine would be better suited to a creamy risotto or with an appetizer of soft cheeses.

The Ronchi di Ravez has inspired me to try other wines from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. This particular wine was so different from most whites I drink. It was truly, a refreshing change, and I thank Jack and Joanne for challenging us this month.

About Wine Blogging Wednesday: In 2004 Lenn Thompson of LENNDEVOURS was inspired to create a virtual wine tasting. Each month a different bloggers chooses the theme and ”hosts” that month’s tasting. Other bloggers seek out a wine consistant with the theme, taste the wine, and write about it. For more information, visit www.winebloggingwednesday.org 

About Me

I'm Carol, mom to three, knitter, crocheter, writer, and oenophile. I used to co-own a wine shop but discovered that I prefer drinking wine to selling it.

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