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Wednesday’s Meritage #160

May 18, 2022 Leave a comment

Meritage Time!

It’s been a while since I published one of these, but hey, life takes precedence. I don’t have a lot of the true wine news to share, but there are a few things I would like to highlight – you will have to pardon my SSP (for those not aware of the abbreviation, SSP stands for Shameless Self Promotion).

Oregon Wine Month

May is Oregon wine month! Basically, it means that during the month of May you are only allowed to drink wines from Oregon. What, you don’t have any on hand? Shame on you – and you have to go to the wine shop to fix this right now. But all the jokes aside, Oregon makes wonderful wines well worth celebrating. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, sparkling wines, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc – we can go on and on. Oregon got something for every wine lover’s palate – Oregon wines are well worth seeking and enjoying, during Oregon wine month or at any other time.

Stories of Passion and Pinot

Stories of Passion and Pinot is one of the longest running series of posts on this blog. The series started in September 2016 via my collaboration with Carl Giavanti, a wine industry publicist. In this series, we are profiling Oregon winemakers who are obsessed with Pinot Noir via interviews. Currently, the series includes 21 posts, profiling 13 wineries and winemakers from Willamette Valley. I finally had the time to create a dedicated page for the whole series, which you can access through the top Interviews menu, or by clicking here. Also, I have a number of new interviews coming up on these pages, including Adesheim Vineyard, Gran Moraine, and WillaKenzie Estates.

More Interviews and More [Italian] Wines

Another “local” update. It seems that Italian wines are the wines I have the biggest exposure to, at least from the outreach point of view. Next week I will publish an interview with an Italian winemaker Lucio Salamini from Luretta in Colli Piacentini in Emilia-Romagna. I also lately had a number of delicious Italian wines from Tedeschi (including my eternal love, Amarone), San Felice who just celebrated 50 years since the production of Vigorello, the first “super-Tuscan” wine in Chianti Classico, and more. All of this is coming soon on these pages, so watch this space.

That’s all I have for you for today. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage #159

January 26, 2022 Leave a comment

Meritage Time!

January is almost over, and as many people talked about “dry January”, it was reasonably dry – not in terms of wines, but in terms of wine events. However, February promises to compensate abundantly and offers lots to look forward to.

Let’s start with the grape holidays. Next Tuesday, February 1st, is International Furmint Day. Furmint is one of the most famous Hungarian grapes, best known as the grape behind Tokaji, heavenly nectar. Furmint also can be vinified dry, although much harder to find compared to Tokaji. Either way, you have a holiday to celebrate. Two weeks later, on February 16th, we will celebrate one of my favorite grapes – Syrah, via International Syrah Day. Syrah should be much easier to find, so no excuses. There is also Global Drink Wine Day on February 18th, but for someone who drinks the wine every day, that is not something I can particularly celebrate.

Continuing the theme of celebrations, let’s talk about celebrating not a particular grape, but the whole wine region. Monday, February 7th, will mark the beginning of the New Zealand Wine Week. Two webinars will be offered – one focused on the New Zealand wines on the global wine scene, and the second one diving deep into the world of New Zealand Pinot Noir.

To complete the subject of celebration, the last one for today is the main wine holiday of the year – Open That Botte Night, or OTBN for short. The holiday was created 22 years ago by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, writers of the Wall Street Journal’s Tastings column. The goal of the holiday is to help people to happily part with their prized bottles, taste those wines themselves, and share them with friends, hopefully while both wines and people are in their prime. OTBN is always celebrated on the last Saturday in February, which will be February 26th this year. It is time for you to already start thinking about those special bottles you would want to open.

The next event I want to bring to your attention is Oregon Wine Symposium. While this is definitely a technical event, focused on the winegrowers, winemakers, and winery owners, the event offers excellent educational content for any wine lover. This year’s event will consist of two parts. Virtual part with all the educational content will take place February 15-17, and then the Oregon Wine Symposium Live portion will follow on March 8-9. Virtual sessions will cover in-depth Oregon wine industry, looking into the overall state of the industry, the direct-to-consumer market, the management of the supply chain, and lots more. Again, this is a technical event, offering lots to learn for those who want to learn.

Last but not least will be the first trade tasting I plan to attend in person this year – the Tre Bicchieri 2022, taking place on Friday, February 25th. This event is a culmination point of the Gambero Rosso wine publication, offering an opportunity to taste the best of the best Italian wines selected during the prior year, those awarded three glasses rating by the publication. Tre Bicchiery is one of my favorite tastings of the year, usually full of great discoveries – here is the retrospective of the events I attended in the past. Considering that there was no Tre Bicchiery event in 2021, I can only hope that we will see some great wines at the event, and I will actually be able to plan my attendance properly to taste the most coveted wines, instead of finding a table with only empty bottles, as already happened at my first Tre Bicchieri event, and the empty bottles at the table were the legendary Masseto. The event will travel around the USA, with the stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Boston, and Houston, so hopefully, you will get your chance to attend.

That’s all I have for you for today. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

Wine Lover Geeking Out: Pairing Soup and Wine

January 7, 2022 Leave a comment

Finally, the snow was coming. Cold weather can be perfectly paired with the soup. So this was an easy equation to solve – snow means soup.

New England Clam Chowder is one of my all-time favorite soups. I’m generally happy with restaurant versions, but I have a recipe that is much lighter than a typical restaurant version, as it uses half and half instead of heavy cream. One day I might be able to share that recipe, but as this is not my recipe, I would need first to get permission. I can tell you that the main ingredients there are bacon, potatoes, celery, and good quality clams (so far I find that ocean clams are the best). And half and half as I mentioned before.

In the morning, I realized that I’m not sure what wine I should pair with this soup, and I decided to ask the wine folks on the twitter for a recommendation. This turned out into a fun conversation. Here are the recommendations I received (I will try not to miss any, but I can’t guarantee):

  • lightly oaked, moderate-climate Chardonnay
  • Austrian Gruner
  • Siegerrebe, Pinot Blanc, and Chenin Blanc (from South Africa or Loire)
  • Riesling or Pinot Blanc / Gris from Alsace
  • Brut Sparkling
  • Viognier (I missed this recommendation when it was originally sent)
  • Ribolla Gialla, perhaps even a skin-contact (e.g. Gravner)
  • Godello
  • Manzanilla

Not a bad list, isn’t it?

My goal was to use what I have on hand and not to go to the store. This eliminated Austrian Gruner, Siegerrebe (had to use Google to learn about this obscure grape), Pinot Blanc, anything from Alsace, Ribolla Gialla, and especially Ribolla Gialla with skin contact (I wish I had a bottle of Gravner), Viognier, Godello, and Manzanilla. So the only 2 options I had from this list were lightly oaked Chardonnay and sparkling Brut. After careful consideration, I realized that I probably don’t have lightly oaked Chardonnay on hand either. And I didn’t feel like opening Champagne – besides, Champagne perfectly pairs with everything anyway, so this would not be a fun exercise anyway.

Then I realized that I have a few samples of Portuguese wines, as well as a few Sherries – this was enough to experiment, which is exactly what I did.

These are the wines I tried with the soup:

2020 Esporão Branco Colheita Alentejo (Antão Vaz, Viosinho, Alvarinho, 4 months on the lees) – didn’t work. Creamy and round wine clashed with the soup.
2020 Esporão Branco Reserva Alentejo (Antão Vaz, Arinto, Roupeiro, six months in stainless steel tanks and in new American and French oak barrels) – it worked! The pairing was complementary, probably because the wine had a good amount of clean acidity, and so it was the most food-friendly by definition.
2018 Esporão Tinto Colheita Alentejo (Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Cabernet Sauvignon, Touriga Franca, 6 months in concrete tanks) -trying this wine with the soup was a mistake – can I leave it at that?
Gonzalez Byass Alfonso Oloroso – I had big expectations for this pairing, and it didn’t work. The combination was not bad – the wine and the soup simply stayed in their own worlds without impacting each other.
González Byass Solera 1847 Cream Dulce – big mistake. That sweetness of the wine just didn’t go well with the soup.

Here is my report on this simple experiment. I might try a few more combinations tomorrow and will update the post if I will encounter something exciting.

What would you pair a clam chowder with? What do you think of pairing soup and wine in general – does that even makes sense?

Daily Glass: Surprised Not Surprised

January 2, 2022 Leave a comment

First, I want to use this opportunity again to wish everyone a healthy and happy New Year 2022!

Today, I want to talk about a couple of wines – one was surprising (and not), and another one was simply interesting.

Let’s talk about surprises first.

Have you heard of Harry and David? No, not about some random guys named Harry and David, but one of the most famous gourmet food gift catalogs? I don’t know if Harry and David has international fame, but in the USA this is definitely the most famous food gift catalog in existence. I remember for many many years literally drooling over the description of their most famous, and spoon-ready, Royal Riviera® Pears.

Harry and David’s food gifts are not limited to fruit, cheese, and crackers. Many gift selections also include wine, mostly from well-known California wineries – J Vineyards, Talbott, Louis M Martini, and others. And it turns out Harry and David also offers wine under its own label – Harry and David.

When we opened a holiday shipment from our friends, the appearance of Harry and David wines caught me by surprise – I really didn’t expect to see that name on the bottles. To be entirely honest, I’m not a big fan of food gift baskets, even though often they are the most convenient presents. Seeing a catalog-branded wine got my suspicion to the next level though. It is so easy to cut corners and put some random plonk into the bottle with a private label…

To make me worry even more, this was also a bottle of sparkling wine – and for my palate, finding a tasty sparkling wine is even trickier than a regular still wine. So I had a spare bottle of Champagne ready for the backup and only then proceeded with the opening of the Harry and David sparkling wine. The first sip made me instantly grab the bottle and look at the back label. My reaction to the second line on that back label was “aaah, of course, this is why the good taste is not surprising“. The wine was delicious, and the second line on that label said “Southern Oregon”, which instantly lead to the “not surprised” notion – having spent a week in August 2021 in Oregon, good Oregon bubbles are simply expected.

This 2020 Harry and David Vineyards Sparkling Wine Southern Oregon (11.7% ABV) was simply delightful – creamy, consistent mousse on the palate, a touch of fresh apples on the nose, and more of the fresh apples with a touch of the lemon notes on the palate, clean acidity, crisp, perfect balance, pleasure in every sip.

It is a pity that it is practically impossible to find actual wine information on the Harry and David website – or maybe I just lost my searching skills. I spent some time with google and was able to find this article from Oregon Wine Press, from which I learned that in 2012, Harry and David, which is headquartered in Medford, Oregon since 1934, has hired winemaker Linda Donovan of Pallet Wine Company in Medford to make wines for Harry and David. The grapes are primarily sourced from the vineyards in the Rogue Valley in Oregon. I would love to have more details about the vineyards, how they are managed, how the wine is made, and so on, but hey, good wine is a good wine.

Now, let’s talk about interesting wine. I was looking for a wine gift for a friend and came across Sandhi Rosé. Sandhi wines are not widely known, but as I had the pleasure of tasting Sandhi Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, I was definitely interested in trying the Rosé. Sandhi wines are produced by Rajat Parr in Santa Barbara in California, and the whole project was born out of the desire to produce supremely balanced low-alcohol wines.

2019 Sandhi Rosé of Pinot Noir California (12.5% ABV, $20) was definitely an interesting wine. In my vocabulary, “interesting” wine or food is rarely a positive descriptor. This Rosé was if not interesting, then puzzling. Taken out of the refrigerator (so probably at around 38°F – 40°F, the wine was mostly closed, offering a bit of sapidity and onion peel, both on the nose and the palate. After warming up in the glass for about 10 minutes, the wine opened up offering a hint of strawberries with a touch of lemon, still void of any sugar but getting much closer to the traditional Provençal in its presentation. The need to play with the temperature was taking a bit away from otherwise a nice wine.

That is my first story of 2022. I want to leave you with a picture of the little present, a wine glass, I got from friends – looks like they know me well! Cheers!

A Weekend With Friends

September 27, 2021 2 comments

Here I am, going over the options in my head. I can just start this post like everything is cool. Or I can start it with a little whining about the past. Like the life as we knew it before 2020. The year which didn’t exist. Which continues “not existing” well into this very 2021. Anyone has a time machine to go and fix it all? We don’t need to go far…

Yes, I strive normal. The life as it was. And this past weekend, this is exactly what I had.

For the past 10 years, we have had a tradition with friends – adults’ getaway. It was born out of the need to get away from the kids, to feel ourselves the adults without the need to constantly taking care of someone. Visit a winery, have a great dinner, play some games until everyone is really tired, have more fun the next day, come home recharged. Simple.

Last year was the first time in 10 years when we felt that adults’ getaway was not in the cards. But this year, the spontaneous decision was made not to lose another year to the stupid crap, and the getaway was planned.

We always go to the small towns around the east coast, trying to stay within 3 hours of driving distance from Stamford, CT. As I started writing this post, I decided to check what places we visited over this years. It turns out that this was our 10th trip, skipping 2011 (if 2011 was not skipped, I have zero records of that), and 2020. In 2010, this all started in Milford, Pennsylvania. In 2012, we continued to Grafton, Vermont. In 2013, we stayed in Palenville, New York, with the visit to Hudson Distillery being an absolute highlight. In 2014, it was Norfolk, Connecticut, and then we continued on to Cooperstown, New York in 2015, Greenville, New York in 2016, Lenox, Massachusetts in 2017, then Kenneth Square, Pennsylvania in 2018, and West Yarmouth on Cape Cod in Massachusetts in 2019 (as you can tell by the absence of the links, I failed to properly document some of our adventures).

That brings us to the year 2021, where our spontaneously decided destination was once again the Berkshire mountains region of Massachusetts, and our home base for the weekend been at Harbour House Inn and B&B in Cheshire, Massachusetts. But our first stop on the way was at the Balderdash Cellars winery in Richmond, Massachusetts. It was a random pick – the winery was conveniently located along the way, about 30 minutes away from our final destination, but then it was definitely a lucky strike.

The note on Balderdash Cellars website said that reservations are unnecessary and not taken – this sounded really good especially with the latest trend where you can’t just walk into the winery for a tasting (I get the business side of it, but I’m not a fan). Another interesting thing about the winery is that Balderdash Cellars brings the grapes from California (grapes, not juice), and then they make their wines right on premises, including all of the aging (some of the reds age for 2 years).

We arrived pretty much by the time the winery just opened its tasting room (at noon), and we were the first there. You can get a tasting flight of 5 wines, a glass of wine, or a bottle, all from the current selection. The tasting flight is prepared for you in the neat tiny vessels, and then you can seat anywhere you like and taste at your own speed.

All the wines we tasted greatly exceeded my expectations. 2020 Balderdash Cellars Bao Bao Sauvignon Blanc (13.6% ABV, $29, 100% Stainless steel for 5 months, Napa Valley fruit) was perfectly on point – a touch of freshly cut grass, bright acidity, lemon notes, perfectly refreshing and delicious. 2017 Balderdash Cellars Til Death Do Us Part Viognier (14.3% ABV, $29, 75% French Oak, 25% stainless steel for 8 months, Paso Robles fruit) was possibly even more surprising. Viognier is a very tricky grape, you really need to do it right, especially when it comes from the warm climates. This wine was outstanding – beautiful perfume on the nose, tropical fruit, nicely plump and balanced palate.

2017 Balderdash Cellars Joyride Pinot Noir (14.4% ABV, $39, 100% French Oak aging for 18 months, Edna Valley fruit) was good, maybe a bit too sweet for my palate. However, 2019 Balderdash Cellars Invincible Cabernet Sauvignon (13.7% ABV, $37, 100% French Oak aging for 2 years, Napa Valley fruit) was simply outstanding – cassis and bell peppers on the nose, classic, unmistakable Cab with a lot of restraint, continuing with the same finesse on the palate – more cassis and bell peppers, all well balanced and harmonious. I would be happy to drink this wine at any time. Last but not least in the flight was 2019 Balderdash Cellars Brakelight Syrah (13.7% ABV, $37, 100% French Oak aging for 18 months, Sonoma fruit), which was also perfectly classic – beautiful black pepper all around, on the nose and on the palate, the nice core of the black and red fruit, delicious.

We also had a bonus taste of the 2020 Balderdash Cellars Kill Joy Late Harvest Viognier (12% ABV, $27, 100% neutral French oak, Edna Valley fruit) which was just outstanding – fresh ripe tropical fruit supported by clean lemon acidity, the element which makes or breaks any dessert wine, and this one was definitely made right.

I really wanted to try Truth Serum Petite Sirah as just the name sounds soooo intriguing, but the wine was sold out, unfortunately.

After tasting we moved from inside of the tasting room to find a nice sitting outside. The winery has stacks and stacks of red Adirondack chairs, my favorite type of chair, and we had no problems assembling a very comfortable sitting. We got a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon to continue, while we were waiting for the food truck to arrive at 1 pm (the winery offers different food options on the weekends). I also want to mention how professional the staff was at the winery – water was added to the ice in the bucket to chill our Sauvignon Blanc better. The foil was cut completely from the bottle before pulling out the cork – these are the little things that make your wine experience simply more enjoyable.

While the winery doesn’t offer vineyard views, they have rows of flowers instead. I love seeing all of the pictures of sunflowers from all the people around, but never really had an opportunity to take sunflower pictures before – until now. This flower field was boasting the sunflowers of more colors ever thought are possible in the sunflowers. Hence let me inundate you a bit here with these beauties:

Three hours later, we left now a very crowded winery to get to our destination – Harbour House Inn B&B. If I would have to describe Harbour House Inn in a few words, that would be “clean, large, spacious, and hospitable”. Hospitable is truly a keyword here – let me explain.

Saturday night dinner is the major attraction for our adults’ getaways, pièce de résistance if you will. We always put a lot of care into finding a restaurant that would be willing to accommodate our group and create a special tasting menu which we would pair with our own wines. On most of the trips we were able to create the arrangements like this, and a few times we were unable to bring our own wines and had the tasting dinner fully arranged by the restaurant. This time around, we couldn’t find a restaurant that would be willing to work with us in creating a tasting menu, and not everybody was even willing to accommodate our whole group for dinner. This is where our hosts, Brandi, Darrell, and Billie came to the rescue, allowing us to get the take-out from the restaurant, set up the dinner table with all the plates and glasses, and thus still have an experience of our traditional wine dinner.

When we arrived, the table was already set with the wines glasses and plates, and there was a fridge where we could stuff all of our white wines.

And here is the same table all set to start the dinner:

Those popocers… Yummmm!

We brought our dinner from the Mario’s Restaurant in New Lebanon, New York (about 30 minutes drive) which also exceeded our expectations. We arrived at 5 PM to pick up all the food. Everything was ready to go, no waiting at all, and all the food was piping hot, just made. The restaurant even included lots of delicious bread and top it all off, popovers, which were simply spectacular – I’m not a big fan of the popovers in general, but this was just something else – I would eat 5 of those by myself and have no regrets.

Now, let’s talk about wine and food. Our first dish was Prince Edward Isle Mussels (Pancetta, leek, roasted garlic, white wine, EVOO, crostini) which we paired with 2020 Bisol Jeio Millesimato Prosecco Rosé DOC. Prosecco Rosé is a hot category right now. As I’m mostly ambivalent to the Prosecco, this new category is also lost on me. However, when I was looking for the wines to pair with the dinner, and I wanted to start our dinner with bubbles, that bottle of Jeio Rosé looked very good – an opportunity to try a new (hot!) type of wine made by the reputable producer (I’m not ambivalent to Bisol wines – these are Prosecco wines in its own category). The Rosé didn’t disappoint – crisp, clean, tart, fresh – anything else you want from the sparkling wine? Yep, I thought so. It paired very well with the mussels which were a riot – lots and lots of flavor, delicious broth – I lost count to the amount of bread I consumed with the mussels.

Next, we had Rustic Beef and  Veal Grande Meatballs (San Marzano sauce, pesto, crostini) and Mushroom Beignet (Caps stuffed with garlic butter, dipped in a beignet batter, baked and topped with hollandaise sauce) which we paired with 2020 Notorious Pink Grenache Rosé Vin de France (100% Grenache). The meatballs were absolutely delicious, as well as the mushroom beignet. As far as the wine is concerned, we already had this Rosé at one of the previous dinners, and looking into my past notes I was equally unimpressed.

Next, we had Baby Arugula Salad (Farm fresh peaches, garden tomatoes, burrata, toasted pistachios, white balsamic vinaigrette) paired with 2019 Ninety Plus Cellars Aligoté Bourgogne AOC. Aligoté is yet another rave of the moment, gaining in popularity as an affordable white Burgundy. The wine was round and creamy and worked quite well with the salad.

For our “intermezzo” we decided to try something new and different – a “pasta” of zucchini – Zucchini “Noodles” (Roasted wild mushrooms and tomatoes, sweet corn, burrata, cheese, white wine, and garlic) paired with 2019 Thevenet & fils Les Clos Bourgogne AOC. The zucchini “noodles” were an absolute standout – amazing flavor and texture, delicious. The red Burgundy was very tart and light – while it was kind of okay with the dish, the pairing was not anything to write home about.

Then there were the entrées. First, we paired Pan Seared Sea Scallops (Risotto alla Milanese, sweet corn, chive beurre blanc) and Grilled Faroe Island Salmon (Maple and mustard glaze, hash of roasted potatoes, English peas, carrots, and scallions, fresh horseradish) with 2013 Montecillo Rioja Reserva DOC. Scallops and salmon were delicious in their own right, each dish being succulent and flavorful. The Rioja was simply superb – dark fruit, cedar box, herbs, perfectly balanced, round and velvety in the mouth – this was another most favorite wine of the dinner (the first one was Prosecco Rosé).

Last we had Pan Seared Duck Breast and Leg Confit (Chive mashed, cherry & port wine reduction, grilled asparagus) – melt in your mouth delicious, and succulent, generous, flavorful Red Wine Braised Short Rib (Roasted summer vegetables, chive mashed, red wine jus). These two dishes were paired with 2015 d’Arenberg The Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier McLaren Vale, which didn’t meet my expectations. Maybe the wine needed some time, but it really didn’t do anything for me.

The dessert was good, but after all of the food, nobody really cared about the dessert…

My next day started from the quiet early walk in the fog. Fog has a special ability to underscore the silence. And there is no better time of the day than a cool and quiet morning with a cup of hot coffee in your hand and the knowledge that the whole day is fully ahead of you.

Our breakfast (it is a B&B, remember?) consisted of freshly baked blueberry muffin, fresh fruit, and eggs Benedict casserole – an unusually creative dish, resembling the eggs Benedict without the need to properly poach the eggs for the large group of hungry guests.

We always like to include at least a bit of the hiking into our trips, so our first stop after we left the Inn was at the old marble quarry repurposed into the nature park. Lots of steps and some beautiful views:

We then went to the cheese shop along Berkshire cheese trail where we were hoping to taste some cheese – unfortunately, this was a cheese shop at the functional dairy farm, but no cheese to taste, only to buy.

We ended our day with a late lunch at Pera Mediterranean Bistro in Williamstown before starting the drive home.

Here we are – another adults’ getaway became history, but I’m already craving the next one.

 

Of Hydrangeas, Ocean, Sunsets, and Wine

July 13, 2021 8 comments

I’m sure this cryptic title leaves you wondering what are we going to talk about in this post, right?

Yeah, a lame attempt at self-humor.

And as you can see I want to talk about some of my most favorite things – flowers, waves and sand, sunsets, and, of course, wine. Mostly in pictures – except the wine part.

We just came home after a weekend in Cape Cod, and if you ever visited The Cape as it is typically called, I’m sure you noticed the abundance of hydrangeas. There is rarely a house that doesn’t sport a beautiful hydrangeas display.

Hydrangeas come in many colors, which can be also influenced by what you feed the flowers. They typically bloom the whole summer and deliver non-stop pleasure – at least in my world. Let me share some of my favorites with you:

Our next subject is the ocean. Cape Cod is a special place, where you can find huge swathes of water only a few inches deep, or simply a wet send that goes for miles and miles during low tide. The water and the sky magically connect, creating an ultimate rhapsody in blue – see for yourself:

The sunsets were challenging this time around. Two days out of three that we spent on The Cape, the weather was not good at all – rain, wind, and more of the rain and wind. Nevertheless, the weather was taking a break in the evening to present a beautiful sun setting imagery, which we enjoyed from the comfort of the deck – with a glass of wine in hand:

And this brings us to the last subject of today’s post – the wine. This was a vacation, and I was absolutely not interested in taking any sort of formal notes. But somehow, the majority of the wines we had were so good (with the exception of some sort of homemade wine from Moldova, which we had to pour out) that I can’t help it not to share the pleasure. Here are my brief notes.

We started with 2020 Hugues de Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet AOP (14.1% ABV) – fresh, clean, well balanced. The wine offered a touch of the whitestone fruit and was a perfect welcome drink after 4 hours of driving. It is also very well priced at about $12 at Total Wines in Boston, which is almost a steal at that level of quality.

2019 Golan Heights Winery Yarden Sauvignon Blanc Galilee (13.5% ABV) offered a beautiful Sauvignon Blanc rendition with a hint of freshly cut grass and beautiful creaminess. This wine was more reminiscent of Sancerre than anything else – an excellent effort out of Israel.

2016 Sonoma Mountain Steiner Vineyard Grüner Veltliner (14.1% ABV) – one of the perennial favorites (I’m very disappointed when my Carlisle allocation doesn’t include Gruner Veltliner). Beautiful fresh Meyer lemon, grass, clean acidity – in a word, delicious.

The last white wine we had was 2016 Château de Tracy Pouilly-Fumé AOP (13% ABV). Another Sauvignon Blanc – plump, creamy, delicious. Nicely restrained and round. It is definitely a fun wine as long as the price is not taken into the consideration – otherwise, at about $40, both Yarden (under $20) and Picpoul wines would give it a great run for the money.

Our Rosé was fun 2020 Samuel Robert Winery Pinot Noir Rosé Vineyard Reserve Willamette Valley (13% ABV) – the Oregon Rosé is just not very common. This wine had nice strawberries all around – on the nose and on the palate. I would probably want it to be a tiny bit less sweet, but the wine was still quite enjoyable.

2017 Campochiarenti San Nicola Chianti Colli Senesi (14.5% ABV) is one of my favorite wines to surprise friends and even myself with. It starts as a solid Chianti would – cherries, tobacco, leather, iodine. But in a few minutes of breathing, it magically evolves to add sandalwood, nutmeg, and exotic spices. An incredibly heart-welcoming sip.

And to top of everything else, the 1997 Chappellet Pritchard Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valey (87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petite Sirah, 4% Cabernet Franc) was thrown into the mix by my brother-in-law. This wine was a testament to California Cabernet Sauvignon; a simple proof that well made California Cab might be the best wine on Earth. This wine had no – none – signs of aging. Fresh, young, concentrated, cassis and cherries with a touch of mint and coffee, beautifully layered and well structured. This wine was not yet at its peak – I wonder how many more years it would require to reach the top…

And now, an absolute surprise – 2000 EOS Tears of Dew Late Harvest Moscato Paso Robles (10.5% ABV) – a late harvest wine from Paso. Beautiful orange color, and nose and palate loaded with ripe apricots – a hedonistic pleasure on multiple levels.

Now that is the whole story I wanted to share. What is your favorite flower? Have you tasted any amazing wines lately? Cheers!

 

 

Wine Quiz #142 – How Well Do You Know Your Wines?

June 26, 2021 Leave a comment

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to your weekend and your new wine quiz!

Let’s start with the answers to the last quiz #141. You had to identify producers and, sometimes, wines by the fragment of the wine label. Here are the full labels of the wines included in that quiz:

And our bonus:

Bonus: 2012 Ornellaia L’Incanto (artist series)

As suggested  – figure out one, figure out them all. All of these are the finest Super Tuscan Italian wines, including the rare bird as a bonus – artist series Ornellaia bottling from 2012 – L’Incanto. 

We had two players who correctly identified all the wines from the main group – Zak and Jeff Kralik, Mr. Drunken Cyclist himself. Both get the grand prize of unlimited bragging rights. Jeff also correctly identified the bonus wine, so he gets a super grand prize of super-bragging rights (note to self: upgrade prize selection). 

Today’s set is very easy – hope to see many, many winners. 

Here we go:

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There is a perfect connection between all of these wines – figure out one, figure out all of them.

Good luck, enjoy your weekend and your new quiz! Cheers!

 

Wine Quiz #141 – How Well Do You Know Your Wines?

June 5, 2021 7 comments

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to your weekend and your new wine quiz!

Let’s start with the answers to the last quiz #140. Once again, you needed to identify producers and, sometimes, wines by the fragment of the wine label. Here are the full labels of the wines:

I didn’t call the wines iconic for nothing – you will be hard pressed to find wines of higher pedigree in the world – 5 of the legendary First Growth Bordeaux, plus First Growth from Sauternes.

There were still not as many answers as I would want, but there were two perfect answers, thus we have two winners – Jason Brandt Lewis and Frankie both properly identified all the labels, so they both get the grand prize of unlimited bragging rights.

Today’s set is also not too shabby, I have to say – I would be absolutely ecstatic to drink any of these wines any day. I hope my readers will share my enthusiasm and play along.

Here we go:

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To make it even more interesting, I’m including a bonus fragment. The wine is perfectly related to the others shown here, but it is a perfect curveball, thus it will not affect your grand winner standing even if you will not recognize this wine:

7.

Once again, there is a perfect connection between all of these wines – figure out one, figure out all of them.

Good luck, enjoy your weekend and your new quiz! Cheers!

 

Wine Quiz #140 – How Well Do You Know Your Wines?

May 23, 2021 5 comments

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to your new wine quiz!

Let’s start with the answers to the last quiz #139. Once again, you needed to identify producers and, sometimes, wines by the fragment of the wine label. Here are the full labels of the wines:

These are all well-made and well-known Spanish wines, nothing obscure here.

Sadly, there were no takers for this wine quiz, so I will have to keep all of the prizes to myself.

Today’s set is as iconic as it gets. You can argue how well-known Dominio de Pingus is, but nobody can argue that today’s set represents some of the best-known wines in the world. I expect to get lots of answers (yeah, as always).

Here we go:

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There is a perfect connection between all of these wines – figure out one, figure out all of them.

Good luck, enjoy your Sunday and your new quiz! Cheers!

 

Wine Quiz #139 – How Well Do You Know Your Wines?

May 8, 2021 Leave a comment

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

Let’s start with the answers to the last quiz #138. Once again, you needed to identify wines (producers) by the fragment of the wine label. Here are the full labels of the wines:

I love each and every wine shown here – but this is not the point, of course. These are all different Rioja wines from Spain, representing 3 iconic producers – CVNE, La Rioja Alta, and R. Lopez de Heredia.

I’m happy to report that Jason Brandt Lewis correctly identified all wines as Rioja, and he got 5 out of 6 wines correctly – thus he gets on honorable mention with distinction (newly minted prize :)). Lynn also was able to figure out that these are all Rioja wines, and she gets honorable mention for correctly identifying 3 out of 6 wines.

Here is a new set of fragments of the wine labels, with the wine producers who should be reasonably familiar, and some even carrying good (excellent?) hints with them:

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Again, there is a common thread between all of the fragments – once you will figure it out, the rest should be a bit easier.

Good luck, enjoy your weekend and your new quiz! Cheers!

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