Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2006 PlumpJack Reserve Cabernet

     We had the 2006 PlumpJack Estate Cabernet from Oakville over at a friend's house the other day. She and her husband had won a great collection of Napa Cabernets in a charity auction so my husband and I were very happy to come over and help them sort through their winnings. They had never tasted any of the PlumpJack wines before so it was selected for opening. I decanted it while we admired their haul.
     In the glass, this wine was an almost black, opaque ruby color with a dark ruby rim. It had intense aromas of baked mixed berries and cherries, cocoa and toasted oak. It had intense, concentrated fruit flavors: blueberry, blackberry and plum with some baking spice and a long, dry finish. It was full-bodied and well-balanced with medium+ acidity and alcohol and strong but smooth tannins.
     It was delicious now and we were absolutely delighted that they shared it with us but I do imagine that it could have become even better with a little more time.

2006 John Anthony Cabernet at the BRC Gastropub

     Last week, we went with some friends to the BRC Gastropub which is located on Shephard south of Washington Avenue. They had a full house so we went to the bar. Everyone was pretty set on some kind of beef entree so we started with a bottle of the 2006 John Anthony Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. 
     This wine is 100% Cabernet, reasonably priced on their menu and truly delicious. It had intense aromas of ripe blackberries with some vanilla and a bit of dried herb. The blackberry/ black cherry flavors were dominant but didn't overpower. It was well-balanced with 14.5% abv, medium+ acidity and heavy tannins ending is a mineral-laced long dry finish.
     We were seated pretty quickly considering the crowd. We started with the Pickle Jar appetizer and the Blue Crab Beignets (fried crab fritters). My entree was the boneless short rib with blue cheese potato salad, my husband had the chicken-fried steak sandwich (which is potato chip crusted pan-fried tenderloin) and sour cream mashed potatoes and both of our friends got the Pub burger with cheddar (with which you can never go wrong). The service was excellent. Everyone felt the wine was an exceptional complement to their meal so we ended up getting a second bottle.
     A great weekday evening; good wine, good food and good friends!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2007 ZD Founder's Reserve Pinot Noir

      We are having several holiday meals/celebrations this year due to family members' different schedules. Today, we had a mini-Thanksgiving type lunch with an herb roasted turkey breast, sweet potatoes, cornbread dressing and green beans. I served this with a bottle of 2007 ZD Founder's Reserve Pinot Noir. Only 750 cases of this wine were produced. The front of the bottle features a picture of Norman deLeuze, ZD's founding partner, who was particularly fond of Pinot Noir. The grapes were all sourced from a six acre block in their Carneros Estate Vineyard which has been certified organic for more than a decade following their founder's philosophy for creating a healthy vineyard environment.

     In the glass, this wine was a sheer garnet red. It had fresh aromas of raspberry, cranberry and black cherry with hints of dried herb and a bit of old leather. It was perfectly balanced with a medium body, medium+ acidity, satiny-smooth fine tannins and 13.9% abv. Flavors of berries, cherries and tea with light toasty notes ended with a medium length finish. It was a perfect pairing with the roasted turkey and delicious on its own. ZD- Zero Defects, proven to be true again!

    

Friday, December 24, 2010

2006 Nickel & Nickel Kelham Vineyard Cabernet

     After a few weeks of non-stop parties, crazy work hours and endless crowds, we are at home on Christmas Eve. I have been wrapping presents for hours and my husband is cooking dinner. He opted to open a bottle of 2006 Nickel & Nickel Kelham Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville (Thank you very much, Jeff & Amanda!).
     As you may know, Nickel & Nickel is a project of the Far Niente partners with a focus on 100% varietal, single vineyard wines. The grapes for this particular bottle come from the Kelhams, who have been farming in Napa for 35 years at the base of the western hills of Oakville.
     This wine is an opaque dark, deep ruby red color with a ruby rim. Intense aromas of cassis with tobbaco and smoke. Full-bodied+, 14.7% abv, heavy tannins yet very well-balanced. Intense ripe fruit flavors of blackberry and cassis with some toasted oak with a l-o-n-g, dry, bit of black licorice finish. So delicious!
     Mild weather here in Houston for awhile, my poor husband preps his food and heats the grill and a monsoon hit. He broiled the filet mignon and lobster tails in the oven and they came out absolutely perfect. His side dishes were asparagus with a bit of garlic and olive oil and baked potatoes filled with Boursin Pepper Gournay Cheese, all done in the oven. Fantastic!

     Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pol Roger Champagne Event at The Tasting Room

     Last night, my husband and I went to the Pol Roger Champagne event at The Tasting Room in Uptown Park. This tasting was set up with a live feed with the winery and with the importer for a question and answer type discussion during the event. This was the first event of this type that TTR had hosted. It was an intimate group setting which was limited to only twelve guests. I think the format does hold great promise but we did experience some technical difficulties on our end which I am sure will be rectified in the future.
     Pol Roger is one of the smaller Grand Marque Champagne houses which has been family-owned and operated since its establishment in 1849. They own 50% of the vineyards from which their grapes are sourced which is very unusual and obtain the rest exclusively from 1er and Grand Cru vineyards. Their total production is 1.5 million bottles per year yet they maintain their traditional production methods including hand-riddling every bottle.
     We were fortunate enough to taste four of their offerings:
Pol Roger Brut Reserve "White Foil" NV- The blend was equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. It displayed light toasty aromas with touches of lemon zest and floral notes and had a creamy-smooth dry apple lightly lingering finish. $61.99
Pol Roger Pure Brut NV-I was very excited to try this one as I had not had this particular zero dosage style and it did not disappoint. It was also equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. It had fresh aromas of citrus, peach and yeasty bread dough with a fabulous acid attack in the mouth with a zesty green apple, chalky finish. $71.99
Pol Roger Brut Blanc de Blanc Vintage 1999-100% Chardonnay, of course. This was a more complex, full-bodied style with a warm brioche and honey bouquet with some mineral and floral notes. It had a toasted almond, lightly-spicy long buttery finish. $143.99
Pol Roger Brut Rose Vintage 2002-A blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier. This wine was a bright salmon pink with endless bubbles and lots of ripe strawberry and raspberry aromas with some floral notes on the nose. It was full-bodied with a lingering dry, fruity finish. $112.99
     All four of these Champagnes exhibited the expected crisp, dry elegance of each particular style. All were exceptional, you are only limited in your selection by your own style preferences, occasion and budget. (Prices shown here are those at The tasting Room).

   

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tasting the Languedoc

     I went to a seminar and wine tasting on Monday evening at the Wine School at L'Alliance Francaise. It was presented by Charles "Bear" Dalton, the fine wine buyer at Spec's and a local wine personality/guru. The subject was "Tasting the Languedoc". As many wine drinkers know, the Languedoc region of France was not taken very seriously for years in regards to any type of quality wine production, it was often referred to as the "wine lake" of southern France, quantity was great but quality was not. Over the last two decades, this reputation as a region of mass or bulk wine producers has begun to change with a new focus on quality that is due in part to outside investments.
     We tasted ten wines over the course of the evening ranging in price from $6.99 to $32.71 and I felt most were interesting, pleasant and very drinkable (there was only one that I just did not care for at all). I am listing my three favorites here:
Domaine Font Mars Picpoul De Pinet 2009- Made from the Picpoul grape, this white wine had fresh citrus aromas and flavors, high acid, medium alcohol and finished with a medium-length crisp minerality. At $10.83, a great alternative to your usual chilled summer patio sipper.
Domaine Cantussel "Cuvee Cantussel" Minervois 1999-A brownish garnet red color, this wine is a blend of "Old Vine" Carignan, Grenache and Syrah. Strong black fruit aromas from the Carignan with hints of the earthy garrigue, dusty tannins and a lightly spicy finish. Interestingly "old world" for $14.99.
Chateau D'Aussieres Corbieres 2004-Opaque brownish red with a garnet rim. A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre aged in old oak. Intense aromas of ripe blackberries and plums with notes of coffee. Medium+ acid and tannin with medium alcohol and a subtle but lingering savory, black-fruit finish. $32.71

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2007 Primus Red Wine Blend

     We stayed in on Saturday night which is pretty unusual for us but the kids were home again (it is finals week) and we wanted to get our holiday decorating done. My husband decided to grill hamburgers for dinner. While we were at the grocery store we picked up a bottle of the 2007 Primus Red Wine Blend. This Chilean wine by Veramonte from the Colchagua Valley is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 8% Merlot and 7% Carmenere.
     In the glass, the wine was an almost opaque purple. It was intensely aromatic with fresh ripe fruits-blueberry, blackberry and plum, with hints of dried herb and licorice. It was well-balanced with good structure, full body, smooth tannins, medium+acidity and 14.5% abv. Strong blueberry and blackcurrant flavors with some vanilla and a lengthy slightly spicy finish. We both felt that it was a little overbearing with our hamburgers but we really enjoyed it after dinner on its own. A great wine for approximately $15 a bottle.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2007 Gluttony Old Vine Zinfandel


     We are still working our way through the Michael~David wines that my husband purchased at the wine dinner. The 2007 Gluttony Old Vine Zin from Amador County is the only one that I had not officially reviewed yet. When my son and his girlfriend said they were going to be home for dinner, he requested my southwestern pork tenderloin. I had not made it in almost two months and I saw the opportunity to review the last of the three Zinfandels paired with similar meals.
     In the glass, the wine was an almost opaque purple with a ruby rim. It had the intense aromas of a baked mixed-berry cobbler: raspberry, blueberry, vanilla, a bit of cinnamon and caramelized sugar. It tasted of ripe, juicy black cherry and blackberry with a bit of coffee. It was medium-bodied and well-balanced (despite the intense fruit) with high alcohol (16.5 abv), medium acidity and light velvety smooth tannins. It had a medium length, lightly jammy finish which paired perfectly with the chipolte seasonings on the pork tenderloin. After much trial and error, I do believe that fruit-forward Zins are the best wine pairing for slightly spicy chipolte-seasoned meats.


Related posts:

Monday, December 6, 2010

2008 Wrath "Ex Anima" Chardonnay

     The 2008 Wrath "Ex Anima" Chardonnay has fairly intense aromas and flavors of lemon, apricot and fig. It is a well-balanced, full-body Chardonnay that was aged in neutral oak giving it good structure yet preserving the fresh fruit flavors. It has medium alcohol, medium+ acidity and has a lingering finish of pineapple, laced with a bit of minerality.
     I was served this in a restaurant with lower lighting so no comment as to the color. It was very food friendly in that it did not overpower boiled shrimp remoulade but cut easily through a crab cake with sweet corn and leek cream sauce. Absolutely delicious!

A Christmas Party at Brennan's

      Saturday evening, we went to my husband's company Christmas party at Brennan's in downtown Houston. This restaurant always provides an exceptional experience. Over the years, in addition to just having dinner or brunch there, I have been to numerous events, from my own high school graduation luncheon, to private dinner club seating at the chef's table in the kitchen, to large dinner parties in the various private party rooms and I have never been disappointed. I was pleased to discover over the weekend, after not having been there in a while, that nothing has changed.
     The evening began with a choice of drinks and various passed hors d'oevres. The wine options were 2008 Wrath "Ex Anima" Chardonnay and 2006 Delectus "Argentum" Red Blend. The courses ran as follows.
  • Brennan's Turtle Soup w/ a dash of Sherry
  • Shrimp Remoulade
  • Intermezzo-Texas Citrus Sorbet
  • Tournedo of Beef with Jumbo Lump Crab Cake
  • Bananas Foster
     The room was lovely and lit to perfection, the service was impeccable and the food was as remarkable as it has always been; one more exceptional experience at Brennan's.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin Brut Champagne NV

 
     The Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label has aromas of toast with a bit of citrus. It is full-bodied with flavors of ripe apple and hints of vanilla ending with a lightly lingering mineral-tinged creamy finish. A classic Brut NV Champagne, crisp, dry and elegantly effervescent.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

2009 Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio

     I was grocery shopping without a real dinner plan (I had already picked up some Milanese-cut chicken breasts and zucchini) when I came upon the older lady that hands out the cheese samples. She knows that I will partake so she immediately handed me a napkin with cheese cubes and crackers. It was a Dutch garlic cheese and it was delicious. I was immediately inspired to make macaroni and cheese with it. My pantry is fairly well-stocked so I knew I had everything else I needed except a bottle of Pinot Grigio to go with my newborn dinner plan. I chose a bottle of 2009 Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio from Italy's Trentino region for $12.99.
     In the glass, this wine was a pale straw color with a watery rim. It had surprisingly intense aromas of green apple, peach and orange peel with a bit of a floral note of honeysuckle. It was nicely structured with medium body, medium alcohol (13% abv) and a zesty medium+ acidity. Its initial fresh apple and melon flavor ended with a lightly lingering, crisp citrus finish. It paired perfectly with the marinated grilled chicken and vegetables as well as with the creamy macaroni and cheese. We really enjoyed this wine; I think it would work well with a lot of different meals and, at this price, it is one that I will definitely keep in stock.


    

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rapture Cabernet by Michael~David 2006

     Time constraints for cooking dinner and good prices at the grocery store meant that last night was steak night. Baked potatoes, steamed broccoli and filet crusted with sea salt & fresh ground pepper with a bit of bleu cheese melted on top. So easy yet always so good!

     Dinner was served with Rapture by Michael~David 2006; this wine is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petite Sirah and 2% Merlot. In the glass, it had a dark, almost black, ruby core with an orangish-red rim. It had intense aromas of ripe blackberry, black cherry, toast and a bit of vanilla. It was full of ripe berry flavor with hints of oak. It was full-bodied with high alcohol, acid and tannins. It had a lengthy dry, black cherry finish. Delicious!

Related posts: Michael~David Wine Dinner at Max's Wine Dive
Michael~David Lust Zinfandel 2007