Monday, August 30, 2010

Wine Shopping Before Work

Just enjoyed a fantastic last week of an 11 week summer vacation.  Of course three of the weeks were a little bit less than enjoyable, but it did end on a great day of wine shopping at a few shops that I have never been to before. 
One, a small village shop with one of the best selections of Italian, German, Australian and California wines that I have seen locally.  Many were labels I have never seen other than the premier shops in New York City.  They did have everything from a Tenuto San Guido Sassicaia at $250 to a few $9 Chiantis from Italy on the shelves and today at Shirley's request I was shopping for Italian wines. One drawback was the distance traveled to find this shop and another was their pricing.
The second was a recently purchased wine and spirits warehouse with a very large selection of wines, especially the largest selection of Finger Lakes wine I've seen in any shop.  Pricing is the lowest I have seen locally.  Now I have to figure out if the 20% case discount I get at my favorite warehouse will beat their everyday low pricing.
I did manage to bring home a case of Italian wines.  Well not a full case of Italian, there were some Argentina Malbecs thrown in.   Opened two so far.  An Italian Primivito $17 and an Argentinian Malbec $11.  Both were extraordinarily good and reviews will be coming. May have to do away with my once a week pick and do both.  May have to do the entire case if all are this good.  That will be fun.  Now to physche myself up for tomorrow's return to work. Oh well, shit happens.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Damiani Wine Cellars Meritage 2008

Last year I reviewed the Damiani Wine Cellars '07 Meritage and later picked that wine in a poll to win top honors at the New York Wine and Food Classics's annual competition.  The Governors Cup was won by an outstanding Riesling, but the Damiani Meritage won double gold medals for the best vinifera red blend. So, when I found the 2008 Meritage at the recent Finger Lakes Riesling Festival I couldn't wait to get a bottle home and at least compare against my notes from last year. What I found was somewhat nicer, at little more fruit, but not much difference.  Aromas were still black cherry, some tobacco with some added dark plum and hints of new leather. In the mouth were lots of cherry and plum with a spicy and peppery feel on the sides.  The finish was very long, dry, with some pepper and anise.
This wine went very well with grilled turkey burgers covered with salsa and a tomato, cucumber and mozzarella salad with oil and vinegar. Although I enjoyed a glass after dinner, I believe the wine is meant to be enjoyed more with food.  Tonight with some left over BBQ chicken the wine was delightful. I did save 1/2 glass for a night cap though.
If you order from the winery, their website is still showing the 2007, so you may want to call your order in at 607-546-5557.  The price should be the same at $20.  Ask for Amy and tell her Why Wine Blog sent you.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

SH*T: Back to Work

Yesterday I received the news I have been dreading for the past month.  My Cardiologist says I can return to work before Labor Day (Sept 6).  I was just getting use to my time off and was even accomplishing, to Shirley's surprise, getting some task done around the house. I have also convinced myself that my problems were entirely do to work related stress.  If you know my boss you would all agree jelly donuts, chips, pizza and ice cream had nothing to do with it.
I did begin to dwell on everything that I have accomplished since the surgery.  Not really much, so this post won't be too long, but I thought it was worth posting.
First, was finishing some never read wine books that I have been collecting.  Some were a little informative and some became down right interesting.  The best of the lot were The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil and Essential WineTasting by Michael Schuster.
The Wine Bible was the first wine publication I ever bought.  I have used it as a reference guide, but never read the book cover to cover.  The first half of the book is loaded with information about what wine is and how wine is made. The second half was all about wines from around the world and how to understand the viniculture and the labeling.  I'm still confused on the French labels though, but I am still working on understanding or more like remembering their meaning. I would do a review or "book report" on this one, but I still owe all eight required reports from High School and don't want to piss off any of my HS English teachers that may still be alive.  I would though recommend The Wine Bible to anyone interested in learning everything about wine.
Another book of interest was Essential WineTasting.  Nice, but sometimes disappointing to find out all I have been doing wrong when tasting wine.  This book is the complete practical winetasting course. A detailed course that is clear enough for beginners, yet comprehensive enough for more experienced tasters.  After reading, I placed myself in with the beginners as I explored every major grape variety and how its wines differ around the world.  It also gives a series of nine practical tastings which illustrate the key differences in wine styles, flavors and quality. Now I just have to train the nose in the many aromas presented by all these wines.
I also spent many hours fooling around with the blog.  Different schemes, layouts, backgounds and colors over a two week period until I found something Shirley and I both agreed on.  I have come to the conclusion that the look of the blog will always be a work in progress.  I also enjoy doing this on my own and not paying a site developer to give me something I would want to change in the near future.  Maybe, someday I will take an adult education course on understanding computers and produce an awarding winning blog all on my own.
Finally, after Doc's OK, I started to open many of the wines I have been hoarding, understood what the label said and swirled, sniffed and savored like a pro.  Alright, at least I felt like a pro, but an amateur I'll always be.
Now, if any of you actually made it through this article, please comment and let me know about the new look of the blog.  Shirley and I still feud about the color and I'm not sure of the new pages.  Next week, back to the day job and hopefully a new review.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away

This past weekend Shirley and I took a trip to Canandaigua to attend the second annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival.  I don't know why, but it seems every time we travel to the Rochester area, except for wine tours, we run into torrential down pours.  Sunday was no exception.
In less than five minutes of walking from our car to the first tent, our clothes were soaked right through.  It did give us some time for Shirley to pick up some jams and canned pickles from the various vendors.  The wine tent was a welcome sight as we approached.  It was a large tent and crowded with what I thought were wet souls trying to keep dry.  However, that was really not the case.
Entering the tent, I spotted Amy Cheatle pouring at the Damiani Wine Cellars table and decided to start there.
It felt nice not to be rained on, but that side of the wine tent was one massive puddle of water.  Now, not only were my clothes soaked, so were my feet.  Ankle deep water from one end to the other kept the sneakers full of water for the rest of day.  Needless to say it was cold, I was tasting a lot of wine, so I did have to pee alot and the restrooms were not close by and that meant I just kept getting wetter.
Now some observations about the day and the festival.
Other than the weather, the day proved to be worth the trip.  It would have been nice to walk around the downtown area and visit some of the shops. Shirley and I both discussed maybe coming back on a sunny weekend to visit the area and do a wine tour. Although the crowd was small, the location on the lake was fantastic and the festival seemed well organized. Although Mother Nature kept the party wet, spirits were not dampened by the festival staff, the vendors, the wineries or the visitors and the wine was great, after all, it was Finger Lakes Rieslings.
I did find that the recently released 09's were not quite on the same level as the 08's. Nice but lacking some of the fruit and not quite as well balanced. They weren't bad, but you have to remember how good the 08's were. There were still plenty of good ones to bring home.  Among the best were the Swedish Hill dry Riesling and the '07 Heron Hill Ingle Vineyard Riesling.  I also brought home two very interesting wines.
The first was an oaked Riesling from Casa Larga Vineyards and a Riesling-Traminette from the Fulkerson Winery.  Along with the Rieslings I did bring home a very good '08 Meritage from Damiani.  I think Amy knew I was coming.  She knows how much I enjoyed the '07 Meritage and this one may beat that.
Next year, the Lord willing, we'll be back.  We did pass many nice looking B & B's, so maybe we'll do the entire weekend and we'll make it into a wine tour, then maybe, just maybe, the rain will stay away.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore 2008

Getting time to clean out the old wine fridge.  After two months of laying around, drinking coffee, tea, water and gatorade and laying off the good stuff I am beginning to feel the need for a long day of wine shopping, but the fridge is full and I will just have to do my part in making room for more.
Shirley keeps doing her part by challenging me to come up with a pairing for some of her weird dinner experiments.
Tonight was a ground turkey recipe with lots of spices overpowered with fresh ginger wrapped in fresh lettuce leafs.  I would have pulled out a nice Gewurztraminer if I had one, but settled for a Fontana Candida Frascati  Superiore DOC 2008. $10

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks representing the brand.
**Winemakers notes:
In the hills near Rome are areas of volcanic soil over 2000 years old.  Here the grapes for Frascati are grown.   Frascati has a delicate bouquet of wildflowers and fruit.  Its characteristic taste is fresh and distinctive, with just a hint of almond.  To enjoy Fontana Candida Frascati to its fullest, serve slightly chilled (55 degrees) to heighten the fruit and the wine’s crispness, Fontana Candida Frascati is a delightful complement to seafood, poultry and other light entrees.
Grapes: 50% Malvasia Bianca di Candia, 40% Trebbiano Toscano, 10% Malvasia del Lazio
**Winemakers notes given on web site were more a history of the 2008 growing season, so I spared you all that by posting the short notes above taken off the bottle itself.

My notes:
Frascati is made from Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes.  A nice clear or very pale straw color with lots of aromas of floral, citrus, green apple and pear. In the mouth it was citrusy, crisp and a little acidic leading to a long and pleasant finish.  The pairing with the ginger was good, but not excellent.  Having broiled ocean perch tonight and kept some for what I believe will be a perfect match. This would also make for a good wine when friends are visiting.  An excellent inexpensive ($10) summer white blend that can be enjoyed by all.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Time For Updating - New Links Page

  When it became apparent that I would be out of work for at least three months, I thought it would give me time to look into and completely update the blog.  However, it seems that I have always been either out walking when I can, watching TV or napping and never feeling up to doing anything on the PC.  Maybe today, it starts.
  Before changing the layout or the template itself I began to add pages to the present layout.  I actually spent all day adding a links page that will eventually replace the list in my right column.  While doing so, I have eliminated all links to blogs that have not posted an article in 12 months or more.  I do not believe I missed anyone, but if I did please e-mail me and I will correct the miss.  I also added descriptions to each link.  Most were taken from the linked in blog, but some did not give enough info so I gave the link a description that I believed would be acceptable.  If, for any reason, any blogger currently on the links page wishes I change the blog description please contact me a with what you wish as a description.
  I will leave the current list titled "My Favorite Blogs" in the right column for 30 days.  Hopefully, I will have all the other changes completed by then and will be able to work on the new look.
  Please comment or e-mail with any suggestions.  I am always open for suggestions and I do always appreciate constructive criticism. (keyword: constructive).

Joe (joeshico)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Stoney Lonesome Estates, Reserve White Merlot 2008

I love it when Shirley decides to experiment in the kitchen.  It either means we end up going out to dinner or I am in for a special treat.  I don't always know where she gets her inspiration and last night I did not see any of her cookbooks on the counter, so that means she thought about this recipe while trimming her herb garden.
What I do know is that she cooked skinless chicken breast in apple juice with oyster mushrooms, slices of gala apples and diced mint fresh from the garden.
I at first opened a dry Riesling, but was astonished to find it loaded with acid and lacking any of the fruit or floral I was looking for to pair with the chicken.  My second choice was a 375ml bottle of white Merlot that was given to me by winery owner Dave Mansfield when I visited his Three Brothers Winery in May.
A Stoney Lonsesome Estates 2008 Reserve.

Our visit to the winery just happened to be the same day that the white Merlot was being bottled.  I also got to barrel taste this semi-sweet rosé and was waiting for something a little different out of Shirley's kitchen to give it a try.  Since the dry Riesling turned me off, I figured the time and pairing was right for a sweeter wine.

The aromas were more of red berries like raspberry and strawberry with agave sweetener.  The fruity aromas stayed in the mouth and the 5% RS gave  it a nice feel.  Finish was so-so but enjoyable.  It paired well with the chicken and mushroom, but not that well with the mint.  So, I just scraped off all the mint leaves and enjoyed the meal and the wine.

The white Merlot has been released and can be purchased at the winery for $17.