Friday, November 26, 2010

2004 Ondarre Reserva Rioja

     The 2004 Ondarre Reserva Rioja was garnet red in the glass with a bit of a brickish rim. It had aromas of dried cherry, raspberry and licorice. Flavors included those of the aromas as well as cranberry with a bit of tobacco. It was medium-bodied, 13.5% abv with mild, dusty tannins and high acidity. It had a medium-length dry finish. A very nice example of Rioja!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ruinart Brut Rose Champagne NV

     The Thanksgiving feasting ended early today. We are winding it down here with Havarti cheese with crackers, fresh berries and Ruinart Brut Rose Champagne. The slightly tart berry flavors are perfect with this snack and it will be wonderful with a turkey sandwich with a bit of cranberry sauce if anyone actually gets hungry again tonight. Fragrant, crisp and very bubbly; absolutely delightful!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

2006 Caravan Cabernet

     Grilled vegetables, filet mignon and baked potatoes at home paired for the upteenth time with Caravan Napa Valley Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon by Darioush. This combination is always a winner. I tend to keep a bottle in stock at our home at all times. It is a familiar favorite that is never wrong.
     A classic Napa Valley Cabernet with intense aromas of ripe black fruit, licorice and a bit of smoke; big fruit flavors of black cherry, berry and plum with dark chocolate and pepper. It has medium+body and is well-balanced with a long, smooth finish. Delicious!


One down and another awaits another day!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

2008 Montes Cabernet Carmenere at Artista

     We were attending a musical last night at the Hobby Center with some friends so we went to dinner first at Artista which is located right next to the theater. I ordered the caesar salad and the salmon entree for dinner and a glass of the 2008 Montes Cabernet/Carmenere Limited Selection from the Apalta Vineyard in Colchagua, Chile. My husband ordered the mixed grill special and the same wine.
     We are very familiar with the Montes line but had not had this particular wine. We both really enjoyed it and felt it worked well with our different meals showing itself to be very food-friendly. It had aromas of plums and blackberries with traces of vanilla. It was well-balanced, medium bodied with strong dark fruit flavors with a silky smooth medium+lengthed finish. I would definitely order it again.
     A very good wine at a reasonable price (approx $17/ a bottle retail).

Monday, November 15, 2010

2007 Trefethen Double T Red Wine at Flemings

     We went to Flemings Steakhouse-River Oaks on Friday night. They are running a special right now called the Memorable Meal. We ordered one of those and added another salad and filet as we knew that we did not need two desserts. It was more than enough food (if there is really ever such a thing as enough lobster). We ordered a bottle of 2007 Trefethen Double T Red Wine. We have had the Trefethen Cabernet before and have always enjoyed it but had not tried this particular wine. It is a Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux-styled blend.
     We really enjoyed this wine as well. It was a medium-bodied, well-balanced wine that worked well with our meal. It had a classic Cabernet profile with aromas and flavors of concentrated black fruits and a jammy, peppery medium-lengthed finish.
     Great meal and a great wine!

Monday, November 8, 2010

2005 Hazyblur Shiraz

     After a large brunch buffet earlier in the day, I was keeping dinner simple, it was just my husband and I as the kids were both out. We were camped out in front of the TV and were ready for some red wine. My husband opted to open a bottle of 2005 Hazyblur South Australia Kangaroo Island Shiraz. I tossed a salad (lettuce from the garden, grated white cheddar, chopped roasted red pepper and green onion, tossed with Balsamic vinaigrette) and topped it with warmed up slices of our leftover tenderloin that we had brought home from the wine dinner on Friday.
     In the glass, the wine appeared almost black with a ruby rim. Aromas of smoke, bacon and licorice were prevalent. Flavors were of black raspberry and blackberry with hints of smoked meat. It was medium+ bodied with moderate acidity, medium tannins and 14.9% abv. It had a medium+ lengthed peppery finish.
     Overall, a very enjoyable wine and a nice complement to our "leftovers".

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Opus One Wine Dinner for Pappas Grill's Farewell

     Magnum opus is the greatest achievement of an artist. Last night, the Pappas Grill Steakhouse hosted their final wine dinner before the restaurant closes for good tomorrow. The Opus One wine dinner may very well have been their magnum opus amongst many great wine dinners. 
     The evening started with passed hors d'oeuvre served with Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine. Karen D'Amour, an Opus One Winery representative, was there to tell the story of the creation of the partnership between Robert Mondavi and Baron Phillipe de Rothschild. The dinner courses prepared by Chef Michael Gaspard were as follows:
  1. Risotto of Maine Lobster with citris and chive oil paired with 2008 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Fume Blanc.
  2. Slow-cooked Niman Ranch pork cannelloni, smoked tomato and aged Texas white cheddar paired with 1994 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Grand Cru, Pauillac & 1999 Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
  3. Roasted Beef Tenderloin with horseradish crust & wild mushrooms in red wine paired with 1997 Opus One Napa Valley-en magnun & 2007 Opus One Napa Valley                
  4. Caramel Creme Brulee served with 2008 Robert Mondavi Winery Moscato d'Oro Napa Valley 
      The food was all wonderful and perfectly paired to each wine. The evening was bittersweet, however, as attendees knew it would be their last time. Many dinner-goers were regulars at the many wine tastings and dinner events that had been held over the years and many friendships had been formed during these times.
     The lease on this restaurant is up and renewal was decided against. The last construction expansion of the Southwest Freeway changed the exit ramps and the location is no longer what it once had been. The Pappas Grill Steakhouse is a one of a kind venue in the organization but all of the employees are being absorbed into the many other Pappas restaurants. The regulars, in the meantime, will have to find a new outlet for their wine events fix but hope remains amongst all with whom I spoke that the Pappas Grill concept will rise again in a new and better location. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving

My husband and I usually host our families at our home on Thanksgiving. We always cook a traditional herb-roasted turkey and gravy with a savory dressing/stuffing with fresh onions, peppers and herbs, sweet potatoes (1/2 with marshmallows and 1/2 without) and the cranberry sauce. Other family members bring desserts and various side dishes. There are always green beans and usually mashed potatoes, broccoli/rice casserole and macaroni & cheese. My mother-in-law always brings flaky rolls with strawberry butter.

When choosing wine for this day, I first consider what works best with this meal, my guests, how much I will need and what I want to spend. I try to buy a minimum of half a bottle for each adult and depending on who has come to town and how long it may stretch, I might buy more. I always buy wine that I will enjoy in case it is not consumed that day. I don't want to be stuck storing something that I don't enjoy myself.

Pairing wine with the turkey is the easiest part, something that will complement rather than cover its mild flavors. It gets tricky when you consider the sweetness, tartness or creaminess of all the individual side dishes. In recent years, I have started with sparkling cranberry cocktails, usually an inexpensive Prosecco mixed with cranberry juice. If you want your bubbles straight, Extra-Dry or Rose Champagne will pair better than other styles such as Brut.

I also open a few different bottles of wine to accommodate everyone's tastes. Top white wine picks include dry Riesling from Alsace or Washington, Argentinean Torrontes from the Salta region, lighter Italian-style Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc from California. Red Choices include Beaujolais-Villages (rather than the traditional Nouveau), a light Pinot Noir, Rioja with Garnacha in the blend, or a light-bodied Merlot or Cabernet for my die-hard red drinkers. 

Most importantly, you should enjoy what you pick so you can enjoy the feast, the merriment and feel thankful for what is in your glass!    

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2007 Sloth Zinfandel

     I admit that I have had a bit of an obsession with Chipolte based seasonings for the past few months. When I made the pork tenderloin recently, I decided then that the next time I was cooking baby back ribs, I was going to season them with my same dry rub. I did just that last night and served them with chipolte bar-b-que sauce, roasted potatoes and salad. 
     Remembering how well we had liked the Lust Zinfandel with the chipolte pork tenderloin, I decided to open another Zinfandel from the Michael~David Family of Wines, a bottle of 2007 Sloth from Mendocino. I had first tried this at a wine dinner that we had attended. I had been in the minority in that group preferring it to the the bold Lust. 
     At the dinner, it had appeared very purple; that is the reason I don't always like to comment on color when I have wine out, as there is usually not the same bright light that I have in my kitchen at home. This evening it appeared to be a deep opaque ruby with a bright ruby rim in the glass. It had aromas of dried cherry and mixed berries with touches of cinnamon. It had flavors of red cherry, blackberry and a bit of under-ripe plum. It had 15% abv, moderate tannins and medium acidity. It had a medium-length, slightly peppery tart dry finish.
     It also was bold enough to stand up to the chipolte seasoning (which was slightly sweeter in this format due to the sauce) and worked really well with the meal proving yet again that Zinfandel is just a good wine for bar-b-que.

Monday, November 1, 2010

2005 & 2006 Luna Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

      We had some friends over for dinner on Friday night. I had put out almonds, crackers, a mixed cheese plate and a basil/mozzarella/tomato Caprise salad to start off our evening. Crabcakes with a creamy tomato Creole sauce were the next course and then filet mignon with potatoes and broccoli were following. Dessert was chocolate covered strawberries and mini cannolli.
     Everyone wanted only red wine so we opened a bottle of 2005 to follow the 2006 Luna Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from Napa Valley that we had already opened; this gave us the opportunity to do a mini vertical tasting. The two wines were very similar in color, aroma and flavor. Luna Vineyards definitely does an excellent job of maintaining their style through different vintages. They were each a deep, dark ruby in the glass with a ruby rim. They had the typical aromas and flavors of blackberry and black cherry with some minerality and cedar notes. They were both well-structured and full-bodied with each having slightly over 14% abv and high acidity balancing dusty tannins. Both were absolutely delicious with a lingering finish. 
     While there was not a group consensus on which was best, if I was pressed to choose, I would say that I had a slight preference for the 2006. It had a bit more fruit and spiciness with extra notes of licorice and allspice. Overall, I was very happy with both of the offerings from Luna.