Saturday, August 31, 2013

2011 Il Giglio Chianti

So, my second wine blog from Prague features an Italian wine, the 2011 Il Giglio Chianti which I bought from a wine store at the mall for 190 Kc (about $10.50).  What was I doing at the mall you ask? Especially when you are on vacation in a lovely European capitol?  Funny you should ask, it seems last night I did something in my sleep and knocked my glasses off the night stand and the frames broke.  At first I thought a screw came loose, easy fix, but no, it was broken where the lens fits to the frame.  So my helpful front desk clerk, Pavel directed me to an eyeglass shop in the mall that was open today!  It took most of the day to fix them, but I have them back now and can see, but boy do I need a glass of wine!

This wine is quite typical of the lighter bodied Chianti being produced so widely now, so the color is a light ruby throughout, with very little opacity.  The nose is somewhat alarming with a robust aroma of wet dog or wool, but when that dissipates there is a strong aroma of berries and spice so typical of Tuscan wines.  The taste is surprisingly fruit forward, with a burst of fresh fruit, strawberries, ripe plums which transitions easily to a good bit of peppery spice midpalate.  The finish is somewhat abrupt, but still pleasant as I could see myself enjoying this one on a sunny patio over an afternoon.

Overall, I would rate this one a 7, if only for the wet dog on the nose, but once you get past that it's a really easy drinking wine, and I certainly can't complain about the price!  Tonight I will once again be pairing this with nothing since I'm enjoying this as an aperitif before heading off to dinner.  Tonight it's more traditional Czech fare at the Olympia Restaurant, so follow me on twitter if you want to see the meal!  But for this wine, it would be perfect with Italian dishes like a pasta with red sauce, or some grilled Italian sausage, as the fruit would really balance out the spiciness of those dishes.  Tady je na jiný dobrý den v Praze!

Friday, August 30, 2013

2009 Abbaye des Templiers Bordeaux

So tonight I've decided to open a super bargain wine that I bought at the market down the street from my hotel in Prague.  So for those of you unknowing about such things, Prague is really more of a beer city, though I did try a little of the local Moravian wine at dinner my first night here and it wasn't awful.  In any case, I decided the other day to stop at the local market on the way home and find a bottle of wine I could just open up and enjoy while I'm here, and tonight's the night!  I bought this bottle of 2009 Abbaye des Templiers Bordeaux and am trying it tonight.

The color is somewhat lighter than your typical Bordeaux, so we'll see if that means anything in a moment.  The nose is classic Bordeaux, with strong notes of cherries, blackberries and leather, along with a bit of smoky character across the top.  The taste is nice, with warm fruit up front, ripe plum, cherry cola and berry notes that transition to some dusty limestone and spice notes midpalate.  The tannins are soft yet elegant, supporting a long and very dry finish that's so typical of a classic Bordeaux.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it wasn't a spectacular wine, but it was a spectacular bargain at only 89 Kc, which translates to a little less than $5 for the whole bottle!  Maybe this weekend I'll have to splurge for one of the fancy $8 bottles!  Tonight I am enjoying this before I go our for a traditional Czech dinner which will undoubtedly involve pork, potatoes and beer!  Na zdraví!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2008 Chateau La Roque de By Medoc

So tonight I am enjoying a nice glass of 2008 Chateau La Roque de By Medoc on my Lufthansa flight from Washington to Frankfurt. My first attempt at a wine blog post over the Arlantic!  

The wine is a deep purple color in the glass and the nose is a very pleasant combination of leather and anise. The taste was quite nice with flavors of ripe plum and berries. The taste transitions effortlessly to some dusty limestone mid palate as the well structured tannins support the long, dry finish that seems to last at least a minute or more!
I'm enjoying this wine with my dinner of Nantucket scallop followed by a fresh salad. For the main course I've gone with the beef tenderloin Randang with Yukon potato purée and sugar snap peas. Followed by the cheese course of goat, Brie and gruyere followed by a key lime tart with strawberry consommé. Yum!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

2009 Owen Roe Abbot's Table Red Wine

So tonight I needed a nice wine to relax, I've been a bit stressed lately, so I need something that I could enjoy with a relaxing dinner, and tonight it's a bottle of 2009 Owen Roe Abbot's Table Red Wine!  This is a classic Northwest red blend from a solid Washington producer, so it should make a good complement to my evening activities and of course my dinner!  This wine in particular is an interesting blend, one that I like to call the kitchen sink blend as it seems to have a bit of everything: Zinfandel (25%), Sangiovese (20%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), Grenache (13%), Syrah (10%), Blaufrankish (7%), Cabernet Franc (2%), Malbec (2%) and Merlot (1%), wow!

The wine itself is a little lighter bodied than I was expecting, but that really does nothing to detract from the overall quality of this wine.  The nose is a lovely expression of ripe dark fruit, blackberries, cherries, plum accented by notes of dark chocolate and baking spice. The taste is surprisingly pleasant, with an initial blast of fruit quickly followed by some black licorice and spice notes.  Midpalate we have ample fruit and cocoa powder, with a dusty limestone overtone.  The finish is very nice, with well structured tannins supporting a long, exceptionally dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.  Very nice!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a great example of the best of Northwest red blends, but I can't remember what I bought this for, so if it was under $25 as I suspect, it was a great value as well.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a lovely dinner of crabcakes, a bit of steamed jasmine rice and a light green salad, the perfect dinner for a hot summer evening, Cheers!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

2011 J. Scott Cellars Rendezvous Rose

Well after a couple of weeks of unseasonably cool weather, summer is back in all its glory as it was sunny and hot today!  And of course with summer heat back, what can follow but a nice chilled rose wine, and tonight it's the 2011 J. Scott Cellars Rendezvous dry rose wine from Oregon!  I bought this bottle at the Portland airport of all places, as I flew through PDX on my way home from my Walla Walla vacation earlier this summer.

The wine is a nice peach color in the glass, not a pure pink but with more of an orange tint to it.  The nose has wonderful notes of grass, mild citrus and strawberry notes and some lovely floral overtones.  The taste is quite interesting, with your typical bright citrus notes, some strawberries, and then toward the end, out of nowhere there is a taste of Champagne, not overwhelming, but just a flavor that made me think of sparkling wine.  The finish is very dry, which probably explains a bit of the sparkling wine flavor, and the tannins are nicely structured to support the finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it wasn't spectacular, but it was a very solid rose effort, and a pretty good value at only $15 at the airport!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a lovely summer dinner of stuffed scallops and a salad of mixed spring greens and white balsamic.  This wine would also be good with a nice salmon fillet, or just by itself as I could easily see myself sipping this one on the patio as the sun goes down and the evening cools off.  Cheers!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

2009 L'Ecole No. 41 Seven Hills Estate Syrah

It's been a busy week, and it seems like my weekends are just as busy!  This weekend I did a bunch of chores around the house, had dinner with some friends last night, did more chores today, went to the airport to tour a World War II era B-17 bomber, and now I'm ready to relax!  And what better way to relax than to open a bottle of wine from one of my all time favorite wineries, L'Ecole No. 41!  Tonight it's the 2009 Seven Hills Estate Syrah, a wine that L'Ecole has been doing exceptionally well for more than a decade, so let's see how this recent example stacks up.

The color is a bright garnet in the glass, with a bit of opacity.  The nose is a blast of ripe black fruit, blackberries, cherries, layered over leather and oak, along with a sweet twang that is very reminiscent of a nice Bordeaux.  The taste is not nearly as fruity as the nose would suggest, as you start with some mild berry and plum flavors that transition to some notes of tart cherry and dark chocolate mid-palate.  There is a nice layer of minerality here as well, with some earthy notes.  The finish is quite nice as the well developed tannins support a long, very dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's just a pleasure to sip, despite the recent bit of warm weather we've been having.  Tonight I am pairing it with some classic surf & turf, a nice Kansas City cut, bone-in NY Strip along with a grilled lobster tail, served with some pesto buccatini and steamed brussels sprouts, what a summer feast!  The wine really plays well against the bigger flavors of this meal, as the sweeter fruit notes play against the hearty beef, while the tannins on the finish are a nice foil to the richness of the lobster.  Cheers!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

2005 Steve Hoff Barossa Shiraz

Sometimes you just need to open a bottle of wine to remind yourself of the many blessings you have in life, wonderful people, friends and family, health and wonderful food to share, and even summer days that are cooler than normal (like much of this summer it seems!).  So to remind myself of all these wonderful things, I've decided to open a nice bottle from down under, the 2005 Steve Hoff Barossa Shiraz, or Syrah as they say in the northern hemisphere!

When I opened the wine, the cork was almost black, and for an 8-year old wine, that's not a bad thing, and it certainly showed it in the color in the glass, a deep, majestic purple at the center and a bright ruby along the edges.  The nose was lovely, rich ripe black fruit, blackberries, cherries and prune, overlaid with lovely notes of leather and anise and some exotic spice notes that just scream Aussie Shiraz!  The taste was very nice, with some rich ripe fruit at the outset, almost jammy at times, blueberries, plum and cassis that transitions to some wild spice midpalate, baking powder and Asian spice.  The tannins are very subdued, yet the finish was still quite nice, smooth and dry.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a very pleasant example of a classic Barossa Shiraz, and I don't recall if this was a bargain or not since it's been in my cellar a few years (this should be a prompt for me to keep better records eh?).  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with, of course, a grilled lamb chop with a dry spice rub, some linguine tossed with garlic and olive oil and some steamed purple, yellow and green beans that I bought from the farmers' market this past weekend.  Cheers!

Monday, August 12, 2013

2012 Villa Pozzi Nero D'Avola

So tonight I've decided on a recent wine club selection to open with my dinner, the 2012 Villa Pozzi Nero D'Avola from Sicily.  I know it's still a bit young, but I think this is one of the red varietals of Italy that can be enjoyed relatively young as opposed to something more ageworthy like a Brunello or Super Tuscan.

The wine itself is somewhat lighter in color than many heavier red wines, but it presents a lovely nose of blackberry, tart cherry, rich leather, dried spices and an interesting twang.  The taste was surprising, I was expecting it to be rather tart based on the nose, but rather it was very smooth with tastes of sweet berries, plum and a bit of fig that transitioned into some candied apricots and dusty limestone midpalate.  The tannins were somewhat mellow, lending to the round, supple finish that really capped off the fruit.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it's a bit young, but it was also a good value as I bought this one from for $9!  Tonight I am enjoying this with a rare marinated T-bone steak topped with caramelized red onions and served with some fresh steamed brussels sprouts and some linguine tossed with garlic and olive oil.  The fruit of the wine offered a wonderful foil to the heartiness of the charred steak and lightness of the pasta.  Cheers!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

2003 Bodega Matarredonda Libranza Toro

Well tonight is Cellar Saturday, even thought it's a week late!  As I mentioned earlier in the week, I had my high school reunion last Saturday so I had to travel to Chicago for that and missed the first Saturday of the month, hence I missed Cellar Saturday.  Well tonight we are catching up with a nice decade old Tempranillo, the 2003 Bodega Matarredonda Libranza Toro!

The wine itself is a beautiful deep indigo, almost an inky color at the center transitioning to garnet along the edges.  The nose is classic Tempranillo, with lovely ripe fruit notes, blueberry, black cherry and cassis, overlaid with some lovely notes of leather, oak, dried herbs and floral notes.  The taste is very interesting, with some muted fruit notes at the outset, accented by some dried flowers which rather smoothly transitions to some exotic spice notes and dusty limestone midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with flavors of dark chocolate and cherry cola over the nicely structured tannins that provide for a long, exceptionally dry finish.  What a lovely example of the wines Spain has to offer!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, it's a lovely Tempranillo and it was a great value as I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for only $16!  Tonight I am pairing this with my first ever attempt at a grilled Angus porterhouse with homemade chimichurri, to pair some Argentine flavors with a Spanish wine, new world meets old world!  Along with the steak I have a variety of grilled root vegetables, including heirloom carrots, golden and candy striped beets and some lemon herb couscous, yum!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

2005 Kunde Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

So tonight I was perusing my cellar in an effort to find a bottle of wine to give to a colleague of mine who got a new job.  His girlfriend was looking through my cellar listing and came up with a choice, but I thought maybe I could find something that would be a good choice for a new job celebration, but I struck out on that front.  But what I didn't strike out on was finding a bottle I forgot I had that I could open and enjoy this evening, the 2005 Kunde Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon!  Now I like almost any Cabernet, but this one I always loved for the label, a representation of the California State Seal, which just looked to me like something from a nineteenth century stock certificate, great engraving and lovely allegorical figures.  So why not enjoy it tonight?

The color was pure Cabernet loveliness, a deep inky purple at the center and bright ruby along the edges. The nose is pure joy, lovely notes of leather and cassis, with a pure meatiness to it, accented by hints of anise and wonderful dark chocolate notes over the top.  The taste was just beautiful, with some dark fruit notes at the outset, ripe plum and black cherry, that gracefully transition to some black licorice, green tea and rich dark chocolate notes midpalate.  The mouthfeel is just all around lush, rich and velvety.  The finish is just perfect, well structured tannins supporting a long, exceptionally dry finish that seems to last for a minute or more.  The kind of wine that you don't give a second thought to sipping all evening long!

Overall I would rate this one a solid 8.5, as it's just a wonderful example of a Cabernet from Sonoma Valley.  I can't recall where I got this wine or how much I paid for it, so whether it was a good value is anyone's guess, I just know it was a really good wine!  Tonight I am enjoying it with some grilled steak fajitas with homemade guacamole, as the richness of the wine just melds perfectly with the strength of the steak and creaminess of the avocado!  So yummy!  Oh, and back to my original purpose in perusing my cellar, what bottle did my colleague Brad opt for?  The 2007 Stags Leap Artemis, a pretty darn nice bottle to help him celebrate, so cheers Brad and good luck on your new job!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

2010 J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon

Well tonight just felt like a Cabernet night, it's been a bit cooler in the evenings, almost like fall except it's August!  So I've decided to open a bottle of 2010 J. Lohr Seven Oaks Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon to enjoy with my dinner.

The wine is a very classic deep purple Cabernet color, with a lighter ruby along the edges of the glass.  The nose is classic Cabernet, with aromas of blueberry and cherry layered with a bit of vanilla and leather.  The taste is a big bold Cabernet from California, with a burst of blueberry and plum at the outset, giving way to some dried herbs and dusty limestone midpalate.  The firm tannins are supportive of a long, smooth finish that begs you to take another sip.

Overall I must admit I'm pretty impressed by this wine!  I'd rate this one a solid 8, it might age well for a few years, but it's drinking quite nicely now, and it was a terrific bargain as I bought this bottle at Trader Joe's and I think it was about $12!  Tonight I am enjoying this with a rather nontraditional pairing (imagine that!) with some bourbon glazed grilled port tenderloin, some steamed jasmine rice and veggies, delicious!

Monday, August 5, 2013

2011 Da Da Da Merlot

First a bit of business for those of you who were expecting another Cellar Saturday last weekend, I apologize!  You see, it was my 25th High School reunion last Saturday, so I decided to go back to Chicago for that and thus I didn't have a Cellar Saturday on the proper first Saturday, so instead for this month we will ha Cellar Saturday on the second one!  I hope you can all forgive me!  Now on to tonight's feature, the 2011 Da Da Da Merlot that my colleague gave me today for helping her, as this was a bottle she bought in a variety 6-pack from, so I figured what the heck I'll try it!  It's also from Lodi, so it has that going for it, even though it's not a Zin...

The wine is a little lighter in color than your typical merlot, with a color similar to many pinot noirs. The nose has some nice jammy fruit notes of blackberry, strawberry and some prune, and over the top there are some fresh herbs and cut grass.  The taste is very fruit forward, with some tart cherry up front that transitions easily to some toasted oak and herbs midpalate.  The tannins are somewhat soft on this wine, leading to a rather short, lackluster finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a 6.5, it's not a spectacular merlot, but it's easy to drink and a pretty good value for around $8.  As for pairing, tonight I'm enjoying it with a rare grilled NY strip with some grilled golden beets and fresh sweet corn that I picked up from a farm stand yesterday.  The wine works well with the veggies but does get a bit lost with the bold flavors of the steak.  In any case, for a free wine I can't complain too much!