Saturday, February 26, 2011

2008 Caymus Conundrum

     In honor of the early spring weather, we opened a bottle of the 2008 Caymus Conundrum to have before dinner last night.



     In the glass, it was a pale lemon color with medium intense aromas of honeysuckle, apricot and lemon-butter. It had a medium body with medium + acidity and alcohol (13.5% abv) with flavors of peach, pear, vanilla, oak and honey with a medium length finish.
     A good wine priced at $19.

Three Sweet Wines- Tasting Notes & Review

2006 Crista Collection Muscat de Beaumes de Venise -Rhone, France
In the glass: Clear pale gold color
On the nose: Predominantly a pungent alcohol smell, underneath that were aromas of mango, grape, peach and vanilla.
On the palate: Sweet, medium acidity, medium body, high alcohol (15% abv-which by law is the minimum level) with flavors of peach cobbler and a medium length finish.
An acceptable wine at $20 due to the heavy alcohol on the nose.

2005 Valckenberg Beerenauslese Riesling -Rheinhessen, Germany
In the glass: Clear medium gold color
On the nose: Clean, medium intensity aromas of apricot, pear, orange peel, grass, yeast and a stoney minerality with a hint of petrol.
On the palate: Sweet, medium acidity, medium+ body, low alcohol (10% abv) with flavors of baked pear, honey and marmalade and a long finish.
An outstanding wine at $35 for a half bottle.

2001 , Kereskedohaz Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos -Hegyalja, Hungary
In the glass: Clear medium amber color
On the nose: Clean, pronounced aromas of honey, apricot, cedar and a bit of canned artichoke.
On the palate: Sweet, medium acidity, medium+ alcohol, full body with flavors of honey, raisins, toasted nuts and marmalade with a long finish.
A very good wine for $25 a bottle.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2003 Rutherford Hill Cabernet

     We opened a bottle of the 2003 Rutherford Hill Cabernet to drink after dinner the other evening. We had purchased a few bottles of this a while back for approximately $25 a bottle. In the glass, the wine was a deep black ruby color. It had medium intense aromas of sweet black cherry, plum and cedar. It had medium+ smooth tannins, acidity and alcohol (13.5% abv) with flavors of mixed berries and cherries and a touch of cocoa with a long finish.
     A very good bottle at a reasonable price!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

2009 Frog's Leap Sauvignon Blanc

While most of the country is experiencing cold weather, we have only had a few days of freezing temperatures here in Houston, Texas. This fairly moderate winter has led to, what some might consider, out of season meals. With the kids out for the evening again, my husband and I got settled in to watch the saved programs on the DVR. I opened this bottle of 2009 Frog's Leap Sauvignon Blanc from Rutherford in Napa Valley. I served it with a salad loaded with boiled shrimp, avocado and feta with fresh mango chunks for dessert. 
In the glass, the wine was a clear pale lemon yellow with fresh aromas of grapefruit, melon and lemon. It had citrus flavors with some minerality balanced by medium alcohol (12.5% abv) and medium+ acidity with a crisp, dry finish. Delightful! One of my favorite California Sauvignon Blancs, all the grapes are sourced from organically grown vineyards and a good value at approximately $16.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

2006 Luna Sangiovese Reserve

     After a hectic day, I ordered a pizza for dinner from Russo's New York Pizzeria and opened a bottle of 2006 Luna Sangiovese Reserve to drink with it. This Napa Valley wine is a blend of 93% Sangiovese (sourced from Brunello clones grown in Oakville) and 7% Cabernet.
     In the glass, the wine was a deep garnet. It had medium intense aromas of red fruit- raspberries and cherries, dried leaves and milk chocolate. It had fresh flavors of ripe cherry, black tea and a bit of clove and was well-balanced with medium+ acidity and smooth tannins with 14.4% abv. 
     It was excellent with the pizza. I have also served it with many different red sauce Italian dishes as well as with thyme and sage seasoned roasts and stews. It is the Sangiovese that I am most likely to keep in the house.
     An extremely good wine!
related post:
2007 Luna Sangiovese Reserve
2007 Luna Napa Valley Red Wine
2005 & 2006 Luna Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Chateau Lafon Rochet 2005

 The Chateau Lafon-Rochet 2005 Grand Cru Classe of the Saint-Estèphe appellation in Bordeaux, France, was purchased for approximately $65. In the glass, the wine was a clear, dark ruby. It had medium intense aromas of smoke, red fruit (cherry and plum) with blackcurrant leaf and cedar. It had a medium body, medium+ alcohol (13.5% abv), high tannins and acidity balanced with flavors of mixed black and red berries and cherries with cedar and a long peppery finish.

A very good wine and perfect with a grilled steak simply seasoned with butter, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2006 Roux Pere et Fils Premier Cru "La Chateniere"

     The 2006 Roux Pere et Fils Premier Cru "La Chateniere" from the Saint Aubin appellation in the Cote de Beaune in the Burgundy region of France, was purchased for approximately $35. In the glass, this wine was a clear, pale gold. It had medium intense aromas of buttered toast, vanilla, almonds, apricot and citrus. It was well-balanced with a medium body, medium acidity and medium+ alcohol (13.5% abv). Flavors reflected the aromas then ended with a medium+ length marzipan finish. 
     A very good wine and a perfect pairing for Mac & Cheese with Lobster! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

2008 Darioush Signature Viognier

       I was making a poblano pepper Mexican cheese sauce tossed with elbow maccaroni and jumbo lump crabmeat. I put it in the oven to bake and I went to check out our available wines. I was looking for a Chardonnay but we had none in stock so I opted for this approximately $37 bottle of Napa Valley Viognier instead.
     The 2008 Darioush Signature Viognier was a clear medium lemon color in the glass. It had intense aromas of honeysuckle, fresh peach and orange zest. It was dry with flavors of ripe honeydew melon and tangerine. It was well-balanced with a medium+ body, medium acidity, 14% abv and a long, slightly honeyed finish.


related post 2006 Caravan Cabernet

2005 Domaine Pfister "Grand Cru Engelberg" Gewurztraminer

     The 2005 Domaine Pfister "Grand Cru Engelberg" for $45 is a very good representation of Alsatian Gewurztraminer. In the glass, the wine is a clear, pale lemon color. It offers pronounced aromas of tropical fruit (particulary lychee) with floral notes of rose and elderflower and some hints of nutmeg. It has medium body with more of the tropical fruit flavors, medium acidity and a long dry, spicy white pepper finish. Delightful! Try it with spicy Asian or sushi.

Friday, February 4, 2011

2006 Provenance Merlot

     Freezing weather in Houston again meant Thursday night at home. After our plans were cancelled in the afternoon, I decided to start some chili in the slow-cooker in anticipation of an evening with the kids and a night of TV. I opened a bottle of the 2006 Provenance Merlot from Napa Valley to serve with it.
     In the glass, the wine was a ruby red color with medium intense aromas of black cherry, plum and nutmeg. It was nicely structured with a medium+ body, 14.5% abv and medium+ tannins and acidity balancing cranberry and pomegranate flavors with a smooth, touch of cocoa medium+ length finish. A good wine at approximately $30.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

2006 Shafer Relentless

     After a temperature drop from 76F to 22F, I was wanting red meat and red wine for dinner so I opened this bottle of Napa Valley 2006 Shafer Relentless Syrah while dinner was cooking. This wine is 84% Syrah and 16% Petite Sirah.
     In the glass, it was a deep opaque purple with intense aromas of blackberry and blueberry, licorice and grilled meat. The intensity continued with rich, concentrated berry flavors and pepper being perfectly balanced with high levels of everything, acidity, alcohol (14.9 abv) and ripe tannins. It had a long+ smoky, spicy finish. Priced at approximately $60, this wine was tongue-staining, complex perfection.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2009 Haak Blanc Du Bois

     Last night, we tried the 2009 Haak Blanc Du Bois Dry. As this was an unknown grape variety to me, I researched it a little bit. The Blanc Du Bois is a hybrid grape-which means that it is a cross between two or more Vitus species. It was created in the grape breeding program at the University of Florida to be resistant to Pierce's Disease. It is now being grown all along the Gulf Coast region with particular success in Texas.
     The 2009 Haak is a blend of 75% Blanc du Bois and 25% Chenin Blanc. The grapes are all sourced from the coastal region of Texas and are whole cluster-pressed. In the glass, the wine was a clear, pale straw color. It had intense citrus aromas of lemon and grapefruit. It had crisp flavors of grapefruit and green apple with just a touch of honey. It was light-bodied with medium alcohol (12% abv) and high acidity. It had a dry, medium+ length citrus finish.   
     Overall, it reminded me of a Torrontes from the Salta region of Argentina but more fragrant. I served it with a lemon and herb roasted chicken and it worked well but I expect that it would also be good with some fried Gulf Coast seafood. A good value at approximately $13 at HEB.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pairing Champagne with your Valentine's Day Dinner

     Valentine's Day is approaching and it is time to make your plans. Enjoying some of France's favorite bubbly with your loved one is usually a good place to start. The name Champagne evokes feelings of romance and celebration while its light-bodied, acidic and usually dry nature make it an ideal pairing partner for a variety of foods. Whether you are preparing a romantic meal at home or going out to eat, choosing the right style of Champagne for your dinner will make your evening that much more special. 
     Brut is the most common sweetness level found in the wines of Champagne. The non-vintage, Brut NV, house blend from the region's major producers is what defines Champagne for most people. It is also, typically, the most affordable and available. The best pairings for these crisp and usually mineral-laced wines are salty dishes like caviar, raw oysters, cold-boiled shrimp and sushi or light styles of grilled fish with citrus and herbs. Other salty snacks such as potato chips, nuts and popcorn also pair well if you are celebrating at home curled up by the fire.         
     Blanc de Blanc Champagnes are made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes which tend to create a creamier-textured wine. This feature makes it an excellent partner for most seafood dishes (crab cakes, white-fleshed fish, lobster tail, shrimp and scallops) and pasta or risotto vegetarian dishes that have either been cooked in or are served with lemon butter or light cream-based sauces. Mild cheddar or Chevre goat cheeses alone or melted on crostini as an appetizer or even used as a component of the cream sauce also makes for an excellent pairing.
      Blanc de Noirs Champagnes are typically fuller-bodied with cherry notes in both aroma and flavor. Both Gouda and Edam cheeses make good starters for this style. It would be an excellent choice for stuffed mushrooms, as well. It is an ideal partner for almost any roasted meat (poultry, lamb, pork or veal) as long as it is not served with anything sweet or fruity.
      Rose' Champagnes can be very versatile. They work well with heavier seafood such as grilled salmon, lobster or swordfish and they complement many cured meats and semi-soft mild cheeses such as Havarti, as well. Rose' can be a wonderful pairing with roasted turkey or duckling particularly if these dishes are served with a slightly tart berry sauce.
     Vintage-dated and Cuvee de Prestige Champagnes have the purity of flavor and the fuller body to partner with any type of umami-rich seafood or chicken dish, especially if it has been prepared with mushrooms and/or in a heavy cream sauce. A chilled bottle of this Champagne waiting back at home after dinner unquestionably puts a special seal on your evening while allowing you to fully appreciate the complex aromas and flavors that these more rare styles deliver.
     Each type of Champagne above will also work with fresh berries and fruit-based desserts such as cobblers, crisps and tarts particularly if they are not overly sweet. Of all of these, Rose' Champagne is the best partner for Chocolate-dipped strawberries. Each will also lend a special flair to egg dishes in the morning after Valentine's Day. What could be a better way to keep the romance going than a Champagne breakfast?
     Though somewhat less common, drier styles than Brut can be found. They may be labeled as Brut Naturel, Brut Sauvage or Ultra, Brut Zero or Extra Brut. Each of these will work with the same foods that work with the Brut NV. A slightly sweeter style, Extra Dry, will work well with slightly spicy Asian and Southwestern foods as well as with fish and poultry dishes cooked with slightly-sweet fruit or vegetable sauces. Demi-Sec and Sec styles are much sweeter and balance better when paired with heavier-spiced Asian curries.
     When choosing your wine for this special night, remember that real Champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France. On Valentine's Day, raise your glass with the one that you love; then raise it again and again throughout the year while sampling the many food's that go so well with the world's most famous sparkling wine.