Sunday, February 27, 2011

2007 Hannah Nicole Meritage

So I spent the weekend on the Lake Michigan coast, enjoying a couple days with friends at a wonderful cabin right on the lake (thanks Kail and Jacie!) and now that I am home after a wonderfully relaxing weekend away from cell phones, e-mail and internet, I am relaxing with a nice glass of wine!

Tonight I decided to open a bottle of 2007 Hannah Nicole Vineyards Meritage, and man was I impressed!  This was a wonderful Bordeaux style blend of 49% merlot, 34% cabernet, 12% petit verdot, 4% cab franc, and 1% malbec (good thing, since I am not a fan of malbec!), from Contra Costa County California (say that five times fast!), and certanly off the beaten path from the usual reds of Napa. 

This wine tasted SOOOO much better than the price would suggest, with flavors of black currant, ripe plums, cherries and blackberries (how appropriate for northern Michigan!), with a long spicy finish that just feels like a much more celebrated (and expensive) bottle of red wine.  There are many red blends on the market today, and I must say, this one really does it for me!  A bid bold taste, rich fruit flavors, lush mouthfeel and a finish that really lasts, I could just sit out by the lake and enjoy a bottle of this one (of course it was 27 degrees today, so maybe I'd sit by the big picture window by the fireplace looking at the lake!).

The regular price of this one is $15.99 at my local wine merchant, but this one was on sale for an astonishing $8.99!  And for that I will rate this one an outstanding 8.5 out of 10.  If you see this one where you shop, definitely pick up one for yourself and one to share, and let me know what time I should be over!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2008 Feudo di San Nicola Negro Amaro

Sometimes you read an article on the internet and say to yourself, I should try that!  I am mostly prone to that when it comes to recipes and new wines.  Today's treat comes from an article I read on about the wines of Puglia, or the "heel" of Italy.  When I asked my local wine merchant to recommend some wines from Puglia, he recommended this one, the 2008 Feudo di San Nicola Negro Amaro.

Apparently the negro amaro grape is one common in Puglia, and is one of the best wine grapes in the region.  In comparing to other Italian red wines, this one is charting its own course.  It's much darker and richer than the typical Sangiovese of Tuscany, and if I had to compare it to one other, it might come close to a Valpolicella ripasso, for those who are big fans of Amarone.

The wine itself is a deep ruby red, with a wonderful aroma or rich earthy scents, ranging from aged oak to ripened berries.  The mouthfeel is vibrant, with sensations of smooth velvet, that at first seems quite dry but finished with a hint of sweet berries.  Overall a very nice wine that would go well with grilled meats, rich pasta dishes or even just sipping alone.  I would rate this wine a solid 8.0, well worth the $14.99 sale price I paid!  So venture out of the well trod path of Tuscany and discover what other fun wines Italy has to offer!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ahh...the power of good korma with the 2005 Chateau des Karantes Diamont Couteaux de Languedoc la Clape

Get it?  Karma and Korma?  Anyhow tonight I am making myself some easy Indian food for dinner, using some convenient Trader Joe's Korma simmer sauce with some chicken and veggies!  For those of you who fear Indian food (like me!), simmer sauces make it so easy and delicious.  Tonight I had some nice boneless Tyson chicken breasts, which I diced and sauteed in some cooking oil, then added some diced red and yellow peppers, some sliced carrots and some mini bella mushrooms cut in half or quarters depending on the size.  Then as the veggies softened, I added a can of petite peas and two jars of simmer sauce (if there is not Trader Joe's near you, Patak's and others make similar simmer sauces in supermarkets across the US).  Steam some basmati rice and ladle the chicken korma over the rice for a delicious and exotic dinner at home!

Oh, and of course, what sort of wine shall we have with our Indian cuisine?  You know I only like reds, and tonight I have a nice 2005 Chateau des Karantes Diamont Couteaux de Languedoc la Clape!  A very nice big, bold red from the south of France, bold flavor and a velvety feel, perfect for sipping in the evening or enjoying with a hearty meal. When I first met the winemaker and tried it at a tasting in 2008, you could almost feel the warm breeze off the Mediterranean as you sipped! The wine is somewhat expensive, but well worth it from an underappreciated region!  It is a blend of a third Syrah, Grenache and Mouvedre, so a classic of the south of France!  When paired with the exotic flavor of Indian food, with the rich spice and exotic flavors, a perfect combination as the warmth of the Mediterranean meets the warmth of the Indian subcontinent! 

Try a little something different and exotic from your own kitchen tonight, enjoy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

2006 Sant' Antonio Monti Garbi Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso

Ok, so I grew up in basically an alcohol free Dutch home, but my mother's side of the family had both the Dutch influence, but also had my grandfather, Paul Luchene, the wildcard!  Now my grandpa wasn't a rebel, but he brought to me the French and Italian blood that I think influences my tastes to this day!  Hence my personal valentine to myself, the 2006 Sant' Antonio Monti Garbi Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso!  For my dinner on this romantic day, I have some wonderful hot Italian sausage, grilled with onions and peppers, along with some rustic Italian bread and some linguine with garlic and olive oil, oh so delicious!  And to top it off some wonderful Italian wine! 

Now the Valpolicella comes from the area of Verona in Italy which should be familiar to you romantics (remember a story of Romeo and Juliet?).  At any rate, this wine is actually a leftover wine from the beautiful Amarone (see any words here that remind you of love?  Amore?  Anyone?  Bueller?).  Amarone is a rich Italian red wine made from the partially dried grapes of several varieties of grapes, and is such a lovely red wine but oh so costly!  So the Valpolicella Ripasso, comes from the ripasso (think replay) or second pressing of the Amarone, so it ends up as my second love!  A wonderful wine that is the less expensive Amarone!

The 2006 Sant' Antonio Monti Garbi Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso is such a wonderful wine, and the perfect expression of Valentines Day!  The wine has a wonderful array of aromas, from leather and a sunny day in the forest, to berries, the scents just send a message to your brain, "Gentlemen, start your engines!"  The first sip is just a magical and lucious mouthful, tastes of berries, deep rich grapes that can only come from the pressing of grapes well on their way to becoming raisins.  A deep red color, velvety tannins, and a taste that just screams AMORE!  Whether you are married, dating or even like me, this is the perfect wine to celebrate the love of the season!  

I am enjoying this wine with spicy Italian sausage, some rustic bread with butter (for added romance, try some truffle butter, ooohhh la la!) and a little al dente linguine with garlic and olive oil.  A perfect romance with flavor, texture and aromas such that cupid couldn't miss!  Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Thank you Trader Joe's!

Ok, so I was out in Ypsilanti today at Eastern Michigan University for the CFA West Michigan Global Investment Research Challenge, and it was a lot of fun, brought back memories of college, and most importantly gave me an opportunity to stop at the Trader Joe's in Ann Arbor on the way home!  For those of you who don't know, TJ's is a great little store with many hard to find and otherwise great food and wine items super cheap!  I got some nice proscuitto, some great cheese, some fresh mozzarella balls, some frozen Maryland Crab Cakes (for my Maryland friends, they are not the ones you are used to, but for Michigan they are flippin awesome!), some frozen flounder stuffed with crabmeat, some great organic salsa and chips and a nice authentic baguette (to make my proscuitto, mozzarella and roasted pepper sandwich!).

And that brings us to what is in my glass right now!  I got a bottle of Les Portes de Bordeaux 2009, a nice simple bordeaux table wine.  Is it awesome?  Well no.  Is it great?  Well no.  But it's a nice drinking red table wine, with some twang, nice tannins, hints of leather and a very dry overall taste (as all good bordeauxs should be!).  I would rate this one a 6, but it's a nice wine and really, how could I complain when the price was just $4.99!  Yes you read that correctly, less than five bucks for a bottle of bordeaux from the greatest vintage in the past 30 years!  This one could use a few more years in the cellar, but I am drinking it now too!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

2006 E-Minor Barossa Valley Shiraz

Ok!  This one was a Wine Club selection from my office, and yes, I am responsible for running the club, more on that in a separate post!  This is the 2006 E-Minor shiraz from the Barossa Valley in Australia, widely recognized as one of the best areas for Australian shiraz.  The E-Minor is a second label from BVE, the makers of the highly rated E&E Black Pepper Shiraz, but this one is much more affordable.

This wine has a great dark ruby color with a nice aroma of black currant, leather and that little twang that tells your brain this is gonna be good!  The taste is very fruit forward, with hints of cherry and blackberry and such a nice velvety mouthfeel and a great finish.  This wine would be great with grilled steaks, lamb, or a nice mixed grill, or just by itself (that's how I'm enjoying it even as I type this!).  Altogether, this was a really great bottle at a value price - we got this one for the club from for $7.99!

Bottom line, I would rate this one a solid 8 out of 10, it's not spectacular, but it's a super wine for the price!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why does pizza at home have to be frozen?

So I had to work a little late tonight, finally got home a little before 7:00 and I thought what to have for dinner?  Well, it was late and I didn't feel like cooking so I thought how about some pizza?  Well, frozen pizza is often pretty crappy, and you never really have the option of what to have on it, so I went back to my life just after college and got out an 8" individual size Boboli crust!  Now we're talking!  So I added some roasted garlic tomato sauce, then I had some scraps of proscuitto and capicola that I tossed on, then covered it all with some mozzarella, shredded parmesan and asiago cheese, and then topped with some slices of roasted red peppers.  The only thing I wished I had was some sprigs of fresh basil to add, but I guess I'll live! 

So my pizza was delicious with a glass or two of Coppola Claret, but just because I chose a more traditional meat and cheese pizza doesn't mean that's the only option.  The beauty of these prepared crusts is that the work is done for you, now all you need to do is the fun stuff, add the toppings you like!  I've done these with all fresh veggies, combinations of meat and veggies, grilled veggies, pesto instead of tomato sauce, sun dried tomatoes, heck even barbeque sauce and chicken!  There really is no right or wrong, so pick your favorites and in half hour you can be eating a fresh, hot and delicious dinner just the way you like it, blending the flavors that really make you sing!  And the best part is that making dinner is fun this way, whether you have friends over, or you're just making dinner for you and the kids, it's enjoyable and everyone gets what they really want.  And if you're not a fan of Boboli, there are other prepared crust options, even a simple tortilla could work, or if your a true gourmand, you can hand toss your own crust (but some of us have day jobs!).  So take a break and have a pizza, and share your tasty ideas!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

2008 Stella Montepulciano D'Abruzzo

Ah, my first wine review!  At the store today I picked up a bottle of 2008 Stella Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, it was cheap so I figured I'd try it.  For those unfamilar, this type of wine hails from the Adriatic coast of Italy (the Abruzzo region is in the east central part of Italy, sort of a east coast cousin of Tuscany).  The wines are generally pretty dry, and very affordable making them ideal everyday table wines.

This wine has aromas of tart cherries, a hint of leather and a somewhat woodsy scent (I have no idea how to describe it, since it just made me think of walking in a forest trail in the middle of summer).  The taste is pretty nice, quite dry with the flavor of cherries, blackberries and a little fall fruit, perhaps some plum that isn't quite ripe and a nice dry finish.  I am having this with some Kielbasa and saurkraut, but it would go well with just about anything, from pizza to pasta to grilled mean, the type of wine that would not take center stage at the meal. 

Overall I would rate this one a 6/10, not outstanding, but a good solid value wine.  After all, I bought this bottle for only $5.39!

Are you ready for some football?

Ok, as a die hard Bears fan, I really see no point to watching the game tomorrow other than for my squares and the chance to wine some money.  But I am going over to some friends for a party tomorrow, and I think I'll bring a bottle of nice red wine but then I had to go to G.B. Russo & Sons, my absolute favorite store in Grand Rapids!  And of course I spend more than I wanted, but I got some nice items for a more festive Italian/foodie fare for the big game!  So, suppose I will bring a bottle of 2008 Coppola Claret which is a good bet for wine and as for food, here's what I picked up:

  • Two different kinds of crostini, one with Italian herbs and one plain
  • A pound of nice kalamata olives
  • Some blue corn and regular corn tortilla chips
  • Some aged Stella Asiago cheese
  • Some nice aged American Grana Parmesan
  • Some cheddar Buffalo wing cheese (with jalapeno and habanero peppers, I tried it and it's very HOT!)
  • Some slided dry salami (the kind that's an inch or so in diameter)
  • A jar of roasted red peppers, and
  • A nice loaf of artisan bread
I suppose a lot of other people are bringing stuff too, but at least I can be sure now that I won't go hungry!

Welcome to my Blog!

Ok, so this is my first attempt at a blog, and yes, I am pretty much like one of those old people that don't know much about technology etc. but at least I'm giving this a try as a way for me to express myself and share my love of food and wine with others while not continuing to annoy all my Facebook friends with my food and wine posts!  I will be learning as I go along, as I'd like add some things over time, but it will just take time to figure out how to do this!  So now, on to the good stuff!

About this blog, it's all about wine, food and fun, and sharing these things with people you care about.  I am the Lumpy one, you see Lumpy was my nickname from college and it sort of stuck with me all this time, so why not?  Besides, seeing that a wine and food blog is written by some guy named Lumpy is sure to set the reader's mind at ease that this won't be some fancy foodie blog that looks down on people who choose to eat fast food every now and again! 

What can you expect from my blog?  Heck I don't know, I'm not even sure what my goals are and it's my blog!  But I do hope to share some things with you about wine and food, maybe review some wines that you might want to try, give you some cooking hints or ideas for entertaining friends and family and just enjoying the bounty that the good Lord has given us on this little blue planet!  So feel free to read, comment and enjoy the ride!