Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Snooth Alto Adige Virtual Tasting

So tonight I had the pleasure of participating in a virtual tasting on Snooth.com (one of my favorite wine websites, you should really join, don't cost nothin'!).  For those who have never experienced this, a group of us all over the world sit in front of our computers and taste the same wines (gee, that just sounded really geeky, but oh well), led by an expert in the wine field, most often Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth's editor in chief.  So on tonight's VT, he was sitting in the Alto Adige region of northern Italy, with several wine makers from the region as we tasted their wines.  And without further adieu, my tasting notes from the tasting.

2011 Castelfeder Pinot Grigio, tasted with Ines Giovanett of Castelfeder - this wine was much different that many of the pinor gris or pinot grigio I've tried (and those who know me know I've tried very few).  The wine has great fresh, crisp aromas of light fruit, peach and grass and some light floral notes.  The taste is quite complex, and I think round would be a great word to describe it, as it's not nearly as sharp and acidic as many domestic examples.  As the wine opens up a bit, the minerality of the region really comes through.  A great white wine, perfect for late summer or early fall, and would pair nicely with some seared sea scallops.  I give this one a solid 8!

2009 Andrian Pinot Nero (Noir) - has a lovely light red color, lovely aromas of red fruit, ripe plum and blackberry, the aroma really takes me back to my days living in Portland and enjoying the wonderful pinot noirs of the Willamette Valley.  The taste is light and warm, with delicate fruit flavors of ripe berries, and strawberries.  There is some mild acidity that makes for a very delicate finish.  I think this wine would pair very well with a beautiful cedar planked salmon filet with a little rosemary.  Overall, I would rate this one a reasonable 7.5.

2010 Manincor Lagrein, tasted with Count Michael Gross-Enzenber of Manincor - this is a whole other country when it comes to wine, as the Lagrein is a unique grape to the Alto Adige.  This is a mountain red wine, and it really seems that way with some lovely aromas that make me feel like I'm standing in a pasture.  The wine is a lovely dark ruby to purple in the glass, with some sweet aromas of ripe fruit.  The taste has some subdued fruit and very nice warmth to it, I was expecting a big bold Cabernet like wine, but this one is much more rustic.  Very gentle tannins, and a nice minerality on the finish.  This wine would pair so nicely with some beef tenderloin and wild rice, or perhaps some braised lamb shank.  Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8, but I can't wait to let this one open up a bit and have some more tomorrow!

So there you have it, your virtual experience of my virtual tasting!  Thanks Snooth and thanks of all the great wine producers of the Alto Adige!

Monday, August 27, 2012

2007 Moss Roxx Lodi Ancient Vine Zinfandel

So now that I'm back from vacation, it's time to get back to the hum drum life of cooking and blogging about wine!  And a nice treat for tonight is a bottle of 2007 Moss Roxx Lodi Ancient Vine Zinfandel, what I think will be the perfect compliment to my Paula Deen inspired dinner (time to put some South in your mouth!).  For those hoe know me, you know I love a good zin, and the best in my view come from Lodi, and this one is even more interesting as it comes in a really huge heavy bottle (I think I might hang onto this one to fight off any future burglars!) even though I'm not normally impressed by packaging.

The wine is a lovely deep, inky purple color, transitioning to bright ruby along the edges.  The aroma is a blend of anise, ripe plum, and a lovely bit of sweetness that I find very hard to pin down.  The taste has a good bit of smokiness, oak and sweet, ripe fruit on the front end, though it's certainly not the explosive "fruit bomb" that so many zins have become today.  The taste is well balanced throughout and provides for a wonderfully smooth, mellow finish.  Certainly, a more classic zin somewhat in the style that used to be more common in the 1990s, that makes it such a delight for pairing with food.

And what am I pairing tonight?  A southern inspired meal of maple bourbon glazed pork tenderloin (with maple syrup fresh from the upper penninsula of Michigan), some sweet potato fries and sugar snap peas!  The smoky flavor that permeates this wine just accentuates the sweet, smoky maple flavor of the tenderloin, without overpowering it.  Overall, I would rate this one a solid 8, a wonderful wine at a great price too, since I bought this one at World Market for around $13.  As Paula might say, Cheers Y'all!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

2009 L'Ecole No.41 Seven Hills Estate Cabernet Franc

So I am up by the cabin east of Blackduck, Minnesota and I'm roughing it today with a bottle from my favorite winery, the 2009 L'Ecole No. 41 Seven Hills Estate Cabernet Franc.

Of course, since I'm roughing it and using the Blogger for mobile app, I'll need to keep this brief (and of course the app failed since I was only on 1 bar of Verizon, so I'm actually publishing this now that I'm back home!). The nose is a pleasant combination of red berries, leather and smoke that fits well with a late summer afternoon in the northwoods. The taste is a lovely combination of luscious ripe red fruit with a bit of cocoa powder, leading up to a long, smooth, very dry finish.  Overall I would rate this one a solid 8.5, it's another great effort from L'Ecole, can't wait for my next wine club selections next month!

I'm enjoying a glass of this wine on a sunny afternoon with some garlic stuffed Spanish Queen olives and some local cheese flavored with tomato and basil. Now this is roughing it!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tabor Hill Red Arrow Red NV

Ok, I've been a long-time believer that no good red wine could possible come from a place like Michigan.  Unless you are into the super sweet fruit or berry wines that have more in common with pancake syrup than real wine, you're better off looking elsewhere, particularly when it comes to dry red wines.  And after tonight's selection, I can definitively confirm, I was right!

I bought a bottle of Tabor Hill Red Arrow Red, named for the famed "Red Arrow Highway" in southwest Michigan, on a lark as I was passing through Stevensville Michigan on the way home from Chicago.  I found this "dry red table wine" on sale for only $7, which is by far it's most redeeming quality.  Having tried some other red blends from my more favored wineries in Washington, like the recent Helix Pomatia from Reininger, or the classic L'Ecole Columbia Valley Red Wine that are such spectacular house reds for not that much more than this wine, the Red Arrow Red was just a disappointment.

The color of the wine was a translucent red, similar to cranberry juice, or perhaps cherry Kool-Aid, but nothing that would suggest a hearty dry red wine blend.  The label claims that it's a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but I just don't see it, as it simply has the appearance of a rose gone wrong.  The nose is somewhat medicine like, with a scent of wet cardboard, and maybe a hint of fruit.  The taste is certainly dry, there is no hint of boysenberry syrup here, but there was little flavor at all, outside some hints of leather and a bit of oak.  There was virtually no finish, which is actually a plus, since if I had to endure a long finish of this set of flavors I would have dumped this much earlier in the evening.

Thankfully, I had a descent dinner to enjoy this evening, so I didn't even notice the wine (though it saddens me how much better my dinner could have been with a descent bottle!).  In fact, as I was eating my porterhouse with grilled sweet corn and green beans, I thought how much this wine was like simply drinking water with my meal!  Of course I also thought how much better this wine would be on my salad in a few months after turning to vinegar, which is why I seriously thought about rating this under 4, but alas, I'll relent for the hometown producers and give this one a generous 4.5...ugh.

Monday, August 13, 2012

2010 Mazzei Tenuta Belguardo Maremma Toscana Rose

So summer is starting to wind down a bit, at least it's been a little cooler over the last few days, and I was planning to have some seafood for dinner, so what better way to enjoy a nice Rose?  After all, roses have been such hot commodities this summer, 2012 has practically turned into the summer of rose!  So tonight I opened a nicely chilled bottle of 2010 Mazzei Tenuta Belguardo Maremma Toscana Rose, say that three times fast!

This wine is a lovely rose made from half Sangiovese and half Syrah that displays a lovely pinkish orange hue in the glass.  The nose is a variety of fresh strawberry, citrus and fresh grass.  The taste is remarkably dry, with barely a hint of sweet fruit, such that you might think you were drinking the red version had it not been for the color and temperature!  The taste is wonderfully bright and crisp, with flavors of orange and pear, with a short, but firm finish.

Tonight I paired this wine with perhaps the perfect dinner, starting with a fresh arugula salad with Tuscan spiced olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then some pan seared sea scallops and rigatoni with fresh pesto made with basil I picked this afternoon.  The dryness of the wine really offset the sharpness of the balsamic in the salad, but it also complemented the richness of the scallops and really set off the freshness of the pesto.  Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7, particularly at the price point - I bought this one for $9 from Wines Till Sold Out!  So enjoy the late summer with a wonderful rose like this one, you'll be glad you did once the cool Fall weather sets in!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

2008 Helix Pomatia

What a lovely end to the day, I spent most of the afternoon running errands and cleaning, so tonight it's about time for a little R&R!  And with that bit of relaxation tonight I am enjoying a wonderful dinner (more on that later) and a nice table wine I bought at a newly discovered winery on my road trip to Walla Walla last May.  Tonight's wine is the 2008 Helix Pomatia from Reininger Winery, just up U.S. 12 from many other great Walla Walla wineries like L'Ecole No. 41, Woodward Canyon, Cougar Crest, and many others.

Now I bought a couple bottle of the Helix Pomatia since in the tasting room it just struck me as an ideal everyday red wine, that still had such wonderful flavor and quality that it made you feel special every time you open a bottle.  The 2008 vintage is a wonderful blend of Merlot (30%), Cabernet Sauvignon (27%), Syrah (27%) and Cabernet Franc (16%), a solid blend of the classic grapes that make Walla Walla's Bordeaux blends so fabulous.

The wine itself is a wonderful deep ruby in the glass, with a nose of ripe berries, leather and tobacco.  The taste is quite nice with flavors of plum, sour cherries, and black currants, giving way to spicy notes of black pepper, dark chocolate and a bit of licorice.  The smooth tannins create a wonderful, and playful finish that's long and dry, just as you would expect from a high quality Bordeaux.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, and I think it was a solid value but I can't remember what exactly I paid for it (but I think it was around $20).  The Helix label is Reininger's second label, which is more value priced, but in the tasting room, I found the two labels to be quite different and wonderful in their own ways.  And of course, tonight I've decided to treat myself to a wonderful dinner of surf and turf, which this wine so wonderfully complemented.  I had a nice rare porterhouse along with a Maine lobster tail nicely grilled, along with some grilled zucchini and corn on the cob.  The wonderful richness of this wine stood up well against the red meat, but the dryness also worked very well against the richness of the lobster, a great pick all around!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

2007 Sirius Bordeaux

So tonight I've decided to try a bottle of Bordeaux I bought a few weeks ago at a local supermarket, the 2007 Sirius Bordeaux, a blend of Merlot (65%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (35%).  Now as I recall, I picked up this bottle since it seemed like a nice basic Bordeaux blend for a table wine, and that's exactly what I got out of it.

After breathing for a bit, the wine has a lovely nose of oak, anise, and some spicy notes.  The taste is very Bordeaux, but it also reminds me of a number of the wonderful American Bordeaux blends coming out of the pacific northwest, with ripe fruit at the outset, transitioning into black pepper spice and finishing with some very mellow tannins to a nice, dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7, it's just a great solid wine that would accent a great variety of dishes.  Tonight I am enjoying it with a nicely grilled ribeye steak, very rare, along with some sweet potato fries and some steamed baby vegetables.  The wine holds up quite nicely to a rare grilled steak, and I expect it would be a nice accompaniment to a number of heavier meat dishes.  It was also quite a value, as I recall this wine was about $10 at my local retailer, so certainly a good value.

Monday, August 6, 2012

2009 Château Tour des Termes Saint-Estephe Cru Bourgeois

So tonight I've decided to open up another young Bordeaux from the super terrific happy hour 2009 vintage!  I've opened a bottle of Château des Termes Saint-Estephe, which depending on my rusty interpretation of the French label is a smaller estate that's been owned and operated by the same family for 5 generations.  Also based on my translation, the wine possesses the structure of a much bigger Saint-Estephe, but with the fruit of a much softer wine - their secret, equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot!  Looks like that four years of high school French is still paying off!

The wine itself has a deep, inky purple color, and the nose is pure Bordeaux!  Smoky aromas of leather, oak and dark chocolate.  The taste is absolutely wonderful, with black pepper and spices surrounding rich ripe plum and black currants, transitioning to a bit of anise and then finishing with some remarkably well structured tannins and a long, dry finish comparable to many, much more highly acclaimed wines.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, which is pretty darn high for a 3-year-old Bordeaux!  It's a good value for what it is, but not for the under-a-sawbuck crowd, I bought this for $25 from Wines Till Sold Out, and plan on cellaring the remaining few bottles as they are likely to improved in a few years.  Tonight I am enjoying this bottle with a wonderful summer dinner of grilled pork chops with lemon pepper marinade, some sweet potato fries and steamed veggies, yum!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

1996 Château Bonalgue Pomerol

Today marks the first of what I hope will be an ongoing fun event for my wine blog, the "Cellar Saturday" which will be celebrated on the first Saturday of each month, where I will open a special bottle of wine just to celebrate being alive and blessed enough to live in a wonderful nation where you can enjoy great wines and blog about it!

So to mark this first ever Cellar Saturday, I've reached back to a bottle I bought about 10 years ago, the 1996 Château Bonalgue Pomerol.  Now I'll be the first to admit, that when it comes to Bordeaux, I have a certain set of preferences developed over the years.  My absolute favorite Bordaux is always the Margaux (who could blame me, really?), but what may be a surprise is that in second place is the Haut Medoc and Medoc, followed in no particular order by the St. Emilion, St. Estephe and Pomerol.  Now don't get me wrong, just because it's not my favorite doesn't mean a Pomerol can't be a stellar bottle of wine, it's just my personal preference.

This particular wine has aged fairly well, and exhibits most of the characteristics you'd expect from a wine that just turned old enough for driver's ed!  The color in the glass was a deep ruby, extending to a brownish tint toward the edges.  The nose was rather interesting, with serious floral notes surrounded by aromas of licorice, rose petals and grass.  The taste was very earthy, with flavors of moss combined with black pepper and raisins. 

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it was exactly what I would expect from a Pomerol, but there was nothing that really wowed me about it.  I have some other nicely aged and special bottles to open, so we'll see what comes next on the first Saturday of September!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

2009 Bolla Sangiovese di Romagna

So tonight I am enjoying a bottle of my latest wine club selection, the 2009 Bolla Sangiovese di Romagna.  Now I chose this one as the August selection since for the most part, Sangiovese tends to be a lighter red wine that can be ideal for the summer months, particularly as hot as this summer has been!

Now Bolla has been a label that I've not had much of, since the label was owned by a large liquor company for a number of years, and they were really focused on quantity rather than quality, and that really showed up in their wines.  A few years ago, new owners took over the Bolla label, and although not a panacea, they have at least paid some attention to the quality of wines in the bottle.

This wine certainly has the lighter style of a typical Sangiovese, with a bright ruby color in the glass.  The nose is a mix of bright red fruit, with hints of leather and floral notes.  The taste is very fruit forward, with tastes of ripe berries transitioning to licorice and notes of fresh herbs and floral notes mid-palate.  The tannins are somewhat mellow, making for a pleasant, dry finish.  I will also note that this wine benefits from some time in the glass, as allowing it to breathe a bit helps the flavors open up quite a bit.

Overall, I would rate this wine a reasonable 6.5, as the quality has improved from the big lot wines I remember from Bolla, but they still have work to do.  However I will give this wine ample credit for value, at a price of only $7, it's certainly worth it!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with the most traditional of summer fare, an Angus hamburger with sweet potato fries!  Delish!