by Sandra Crittenden

by Sandra Crittenden

Friday, April 29, 2011

2007 Luna Howell Mountain Merlot

     More Mer-love! The 2007 Luna Vineyards Howell Mountain Napa Valley Merlot is an outstanding example of just how good Merlot can be.
     In the glass, the wine is a clear, dark ruby color with medium-intense aromas of ripe dark fruit, both blackberries and black plums, with vanilla and baking spices. On the palate, it is perfectly balanced with a medium+ body, medium+ smooth, ripe tannins and medium acidity with 14.7% abv. The flavor mostly mirrors the aromas but with a more concentrated blackberry note and a bit of chocolate in the long finish.
     Truly fantastic!

Related postings:
2007 Luna Sangiovese Reserve
2007 Luna Vineyards Napa Valley Red Wine
2005 & 2006 Luna Cabernet Reserve

Sunday, April 10, 2011

2nd Annual Ruinart Champagne Challenge - Houston

     I applied to participate in the 2nd annual Ruinart Champagne Challenge. The Guild of Sommeliers and Ruinart Champagne were hosting the event in five US cities. They were choosing 100 wine professionals nationwide with 20 contestants at each competition. The locations were in New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, San Francisco, and Houston. Each city's winner would win a trip to Champagne, France and a $1000 scholarship with the Guild of Sommeliers and the runners-up would each receive a magnum of Ruinart Blancs de Blancs.
     My application was accepted and I was invited to compete in the Houston challenge held at Brennan's-Houston restaurant. Participants arrived at 11:00 AM to compete in a blind tasting of sparkling wines. After 40 minutes, contestants turned in their tasting notes and were engaged in a short lecture from Frederic Panaiotis, Ruinart Cellars' Master, on the "Physics behind the Fizz" with a question and answer period. We then adjourned to another room where we were treated to Ruinart's new aroma kit featuring some of the main aromas found in Champagne. A buffet lunch followed.
     The competitors had various backgrounds in the wine industry- restaurant sommeliers, wine educators, winery employees, distributor and wine shop sales people. The competion was intense and the winners were standouts. 

Winner - Eric Hastings, Eddie V's Prime Seafood

Runner-up 1 - Bill Elsey, Duchman Family Winery
Runner-up 2 - Benjamin Roberts, Masraffs Restaurant

Notes from a "Wines of Southern France" Tasting

2009 Pere Anselme Cotes de Provence
Appearance: Clear, pale pink
Nose: Medium intense aromas of red berries, rosewater, apple 
Palate: Dry, medium body and acidity, light tannins; Tart strawberry, saline minerality
Finish: short
Quality:  good-very good       Price: $10

2009 Domaine du Paternal "Couronne de Charlemagne" Cassis Blanc
Appearance: Clear, pale lemon
Nose: Light intensity aromas of dried herbs, white flowers and kerosene
Palate: Dry, medium body, medium+ acidity; citrus & dried hebs, slight saline minerality
Finish: short
Quality:  acceptable-good        Price: $18

2008 Vordy-Mayrannes "Old Carignan" Rouge
Appearance: Clear, medium ruby
Nose: Medium intense aromas of black cherries & red berries, forest floor, smoke
Palate: Dry, medium body, medium+ tannins and acidity; Dark berries, dried herbs and black tea
Finish: medium
Quality: good-very good         Price: $15

2009 Maison L'Aiglon Grand Reserve Saint Chinian
Appearance: Clear, medium ruby
Nose: Medium intense aromas of red berry candy, yeast and sour cream
Palate: Dry, medium body and acidity, medium+ tannins; strawberry with a slight savoriness
Finish: medium
Quality: good         Price: $14

2004 Domaine Maubernard Bandol
Appearance: Clear, medium ruby
Nose: Medium intense aromas of violets, dark fruit, smoke, pine
Palate: Dry, medium body, medium+ tannins and acidity, Plums, blackberry, dried leaves
Finish: -medium
Quality: good-very good         Price: $25

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dinner at Truluck's

     Last night, we went to Truluck's on Westheimer for dinner and we had a great experience. We had a reservation and we were seated immediately at that time upon our arrival. They have over one hundred wine options by the taste, glass or bottle with a good price range. We decided to start with the Roederer Estate Brut. 
     It is Florida Stone Crab season so we added more of that to the cold seafood tower to begin our meal. The tower consists of Connecticut Blue Point oysters, jumbo boiled shrimp, the stone crab claws and Alaskan King crab cocktail. Everything was very fresh tasting and so good with the sparkling wine that we ended up adding a shrimp cocktail to get more of the jumbo shrimp. Next, we each ordered the Crab & Corn Chowder which was definitely the best that I have ever had. We followed that with steamed Alaskan King Crab legs with drawn butter. We had planned on adding the blue crab mac & cheese but decided that we were just getting too full at that point. Raul Rodriguez was our server and he provided us with excellent service throughout our evening.
     There was live music in the bar that could be enjoyed throughout the restaurant without it being overpowering for table conversation so we finished our evening with a final glass of Mumms Sparkling Rose at the table while we plotted how we would go about our next meal there. I hope to see the mac, some grilled fish and one of their fantastic looking desserts is in our near future!
Highly recommended for the quality of food, drink menu variety, ambiance and exceptional service!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Notes from a Rhone Valley Wine Tasting

2008 Domaine Mucyn Crozes Hermitage Blanc (100% Marsanne)
Appearance: Clear, light gold
Nose: Pronounced aromas of ripe honeydew melon, floral-lavender, herbal-garrigue
Palate: Dry, medium body, -medium acidity; Melon flavor with minerality
Length: medium
Quality: Very Good    Price: $17

2007 Domaine Rabasse Charavin Cote du Rhone Blanc "Laure"
(Grenache blanc / Bourboulenc)
Appearance: Clear, medium lemon
Nose: Light floral aromas with pear
Palate: Dry, medium body, medium acidity; Tart citrus and green apple
Length: short
Quality: Good+    Price: $11

2007 Domaine de Font Sane Gigondas "Tradition"
Appearance: Clear, medium ruby
Nose: Medium intense aromas of raspberry, blackberry, black tea, dried leaves
Palate: Dry, medium body, tannins and acidity; Sage, raspberry with a hint of tar
Length: Medium+
Quality: Very good    Price: $24

2006 Rabasse Charavin Cotes du Rhone Villages "Les Cailloux"
Appearance: Clear, medium ruby
Nose: Medium intense aromas of menthol, violets, cedar, cherry
Palate: Dry, medium body, tannins and acidity; spiced cherry, vanilla
Length: medium
Quality: Good+  Price: $15

2002 Delas St Joseph "Tournon"
Appearance: Clear, medium ruby with a garnet rim
Nose: Pronounced aromas of leather, smoke, red fruit, bit of earthiness
Palate: Dry, medium body, tannins and acidity; Raspberry, cherry, pepper, bit of savoriness
Length: Short+
Quality: Good+   Price: $20

2000 Delas Hermitage "Marquis de la Tourette"
Appearance: Clear, medium ruby with a garnet rim
Nose: Medium intense aromas of dry hay, damp earth and cocoa
Palate: Dry, medium body, tannins and acidity;
Length: short
Quality: -good    Price: $70