Friday, September 30, 2011

Boutari Kretikos Red Wine 2008

After a few near record high temperatures for late September, it has finally (again) cooled down a bit and I began to get a little anxious to open up some of my red wines. Shirley was not in the mood to slave over the stove, so she ran to our local Wegman's and picked up a store cooked roasted chicken which she served with some steamed veggies and a nice tomato and cucumber salad.  For the wine, I opened a Boutari Kretikos Red Wine 2008.
*A remarkably tasty red wine from the Greek Isle of Crete, this little gem is produced from the indigenous grapes Kotsifali(50%) and Mandilaria(50%). The 15 acre hillside vineyard with limestone and chalky soils is 500 to 700 feet above the Cretean Sea. The cooling breezes slow down the ripening process and let the grapes develop fully. Aged in stainless steel to bring out the natural fruity flavors, this value red shows ripe cherry, plum and hints of anise on a supple, dry framework with a lingering finish. Surprise your friends and yourself with this delightful Greek red. * 
The nose was filled with lots of ripe cherry and ripe red plum. Nicely balanced with soft tannins and acidity and flavors of cherry, plum, little currant and licorice and a touch of pepper.
The wine finished quite nicely.  Medium to long with nice fruit flavors and very smooth. Pairing with the roasted chicken was so-so, but this nice red table wine will do great with pizza, aged cheeses and even a nice dinner of chicken or veal Parmesan with a large side of pasta.
Found pricing as low as $7 at and up to $15 at many retail outlets.
I'm still trying to find my way with Greek wines and the Boutari Kretikos Red is certainly on the right path.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Beronia Rioja Reserva 2005

Been an OK night at work and the weather is pretty nice with a higher than normal humidity, but after the past few days, the feeling is comfortable. I got home from the day job a little past 10 p.m. and was dreaming of a nice red wine for most of my shift. I usually hate going through the wine fridge and choosing a wine, so I reached in and was determined to open whatever was picked. You can do this when you keep your wines in no particular order and just reach in without looking for any logo or symbol on the foil wrap.  Of course, my bottom shelf is for my keepers, so they were exempt and not touched. Out came a Spanish wine that has been sitting in the fridge for almost a year. A Beronia Rioja Reserva 2005 ($18) which I bought at a local wine shop just before last Christmas. A Spanish red blend of 90% Tempranillo, 6% Mazuelo and 4% Graciano.
Aromas were full of black plum, leather with very little oak and vanilla. A very intense mouthfeel of smoke, leather and a hint of spice led to a long, smooth and dry finish.  I just had to find some kinda of snack to match, but the snack bar was a little bare.
First try was a Weight Watcher Mozzarella stick. Yuck!!  Can't believe they call this cheese.  But, the wine made up for whatever chemical was used to make the fake cheese stick. I had to revert back to my addiction to Lively Run Goat Dairy Feta.  I thinks I found the perfect wine to pair with what I say is a perfect Feta cheese. Could not resist the cheese or the wine and ended the evening finishing both.  There are still a few more BBQ weekends on the patio and a few more steaks to grill and I know where to find the wine. A fantastic Spanish red from Bodegas Beronia.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Finger Lakes 2010 Riesling Launch

I took a day off of work to participate in the launch of the 2010 vintage Finger Lakes Rieslings. I had a few in my fridge recently purchased at the Finger Lakes Riesling Fest and was also sent samples of Riesling from six different wineries.  The samples included dry Rieslings from Anthony Road Wine Company, Dr. Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars, Hosmer Winery and Keuka Lake Vineyards.  Also included were a Knapp Winery Riesling and a Riesling Icewine from Sheldrake Point Winery.
During the past week I opened all except the Anthony Road and the Icewine, saving them for the official launch and Riesling hour (actually 3 hrs) on Twitter.
The most interesting wine for me was the Icewine.  Those that know me are aware that I do not favor sweet wines and Icewine is as sweet as it gets. But, (a big BUT) my palate has been expanding somewhat and I thought that the time was right to venture into the realm of dessert wines. To get ready for this venture, I searched the net for the best pairings hoping to find one that will help me survive this overly sweet wine. I took the suggestions of Chocolate, Blue Cheese and Tiramisu.  I also opened the dry Riesling from Anthony Road with Shirley's chicken stir-fry earlier in the evening.
Notes taken during the past week included the following:
The Keuka Lake Vineyards aromas were full of peach and green apple and showed a lot of Finger Lakes minerality and peach, but short on acidity in the mouth. Not a very long finish
The other dry Rieslings were just fantastic. Hosmer Winery is producing some of the best Rieslings on the Finger Lakes. A lot of citrus and green apple aromas with nice acidity, green apple and some floral in the mouth.  Finish a little short, but tasty and crisp.
The Dr. Frank was excellent with aromas of green apple, lemon grass and honeysuckle.
Light flavors of lemon, tangerine and green apple and a long, dry and crisp finish.
The absolute winner, heading into the official launch though, was one purchased in August, a 2010 semi-dry Riesling from Damiani Wine Cellars.
Aromas of pineapple and apple blossom and lots of honeysuckle with hints of peach and nectarine and some lime.  In the mouth some nice Finger Lakes mineral with lime and green apple with a long, dry and citrusy finish.
For the Riesling hour, the dry Riesling from Anthony Road was served with dinner.
Some ripe apple and honeydew melon with a bit of clementine aromas with lots of orange peel and some lemon zest in the mouth led to a long tasty and citusy finish. Nice, nice, very nice. I wouldn't have expected less from Anthony Road.
And then it was time.  I brought out my never used aperitif glasses and opened the wine, the blue cheese and the Tiramisu with choclate shavings.  I poured the wine in the tiny glass and sniffed.   The aromas were so so good filled with tropical fruits and hints of pear and peach.  Do I dare put this in my mouth knowing my teeth will immediately rot from so much sugar or do I dare take the challenge.  No more excuses, "let's get er done".
At first, as expected, it was too too sweet.  Things changed with a little blue cheese on the palate.  I began to enjoy the wine (somewhat).  Next I tried with the chocolate shavings and then with the Tiramisu.   OK with the cheese, excellent with the chocolate and outstanding with the Tiramisu.  Alright already, I'm now sold.  There is a place for Icewine in my diet.  I now want to try this with Shirley's Chocolate Lava Cake covered with fresh Raspberries and  Whipped Cream and drizzled with a little Chambord.
A very nice evening with Riesling lovers from all over.  Personally, an enlightenment, in a way, and a chance to hear what others are now saying about Finger Lakes Riesling.  Just wondering if we can do this again next week. I haven't tasted them all, YET!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dr. Konstantin Frank Cuvee d'Amour 2009

The first time I visited Dr. Franks Vinifera Wine Cellars, I picked up a bottle of their Cuvee d'Amour 2007. Easily one of the best Finger Lakes red wines I have ever tasted.  Last month on my first return to Dr Frank's since then, I was not going to leave without their latest vintage, the 2009($30).

I was hoping to hold on to this one for a while, but thirst and lack of will power ended that dream.  I don't collect wines and I don't cellar wines.  I buy to drink now, so I still surprise myself that there are still three in the cooler, one for two years now, that haven't been touched.

Cuvee d’Amour is made by crossing vitis rootstocks to enable the vines conquer extremes of cold. The grape is grown extensively in southern Siberia and China.  The wine is described as bold, dark colored, fragrant, firm and flavorful on the palate yet displays a pleasant piquant, crisp finish, reminiscent of a fine Bordeaux or Barolo.

I found it more like a nice Barolo.  Very dark purple color with aromas of black cherry, black currant and cinnamon. Little spicy in the mouth with lots of black fruit and berries and some tobacco. The finish was very long and dry with a slight hint of spice.

Although still a fantastic wine, the 2009 vintage falls somewhat short of the '07 and yet still is one of the best red wines found in the Finger Lakes. Unfortunately it can only be purchased ($30) at the winery or on the Dr. Frank here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Perfect "Tailgating" Wine.

I haven't been to a tailgate party in 30 years.  I remember tailgating on the hill before  Syracuse University football games back in the early 80's.  A bunch of friends grilling hot dogs and burgers and drinking Utica Club beer, the cheapest beer we could find at the time.  I also remember watching some of the "fat cats"  pulling into the parking lot with their huge RV's and gas grills and grilling up Delmonico steaks, shish-ka-bobs, chicken breast, salmon steaks, clams, corn, you name it, they had it. They also uncorked a lot of wine. Back then, I thought the wine was a bit over doing it.  Now, I believe it should be a tailgating staple.  My taste has changed, somewhat! 
Tonight I opened a perfect wine for that tailgate experience, or in other words, "very cheap" (but good); a Concha Y Toro Xplorador Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($8)
*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks at Banfi Vintners. 

The aromas are a bit suspect. Lots of lacquer and some leather.  Smelled like I was about to lacquer some new oak boards and instead lacquered my leather recliner. Kept trying to get a little fruit, so I just swirled and swirled to no avail. Did get some chocolate, I guess.  Not much, but a welcome aroma.
The wine was completely different in the mouth.  Lots of blackberry and lots of dark plum with a very light hint of spice and a little black currant. Some tannin and not as intense as what I usually like in a Cab/Sauv.  A short but tasty finish that went very well with a few bites of extra sharp cheddar.
A nice medium body wine that will go very well on Saturday afternoons, or Sunday for you Pro fans while grilling up the pre game meal.  Perfect for the plastic wine glass and the grilled beef or chicken served in your favorite parking lot.  Wonder if this is on hand before each "Futbol" game in Chile.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Heron Hill semi-dry Riesling 2008

"Forward and inviting style, with apricot and peach flavors followed by a crisp finish is Herons Hill's most popular Riesling.  This wine which is sourced from many different vineyards and combines the flavors expressed by the Finger Lakes Region. It exemplifies the bright fruit flavors, crisp acidity and the mineral characteristics that make the Finger Lakes the premier Riesling region in North America."
What does that all mean.  Well to me, one excellent wine.
Had to improvise tonight because of the very high humidity in the region that forced a cancellation of a week end BBQ. Just to sweltering to stand over a BBQ pit.  Did settle for a shrimp cocktail, corn on the cob and a fresh garden salad with mozzarella and a red wine and oil dressing. The wine, Heron Hill Winery Semi-Dry Riesling 2008. ($14)

Aromas of pink grapefruit, almost ripe nectarine, honeysuckle with some citrus and mineral notes. In the mouth was a very smooth grapefruit and some green apple and peach.  The finish was long, citrusy with just a hint of sweetness.

Everything I expected in a Finger Lakes Riesling.  This is not the first Heron Hill Riesling I reviewed and probably won't be the last. One of my must visit wineries on the Keuka Lake Wine Trail.

Friday, September 2, 2011

McGregor Vineyard Rosé d'Cabernet Franc 2009

Tonight Shirley made one of her classic catastrophes. It was meant to be something between a gumbo and jambalaya.  In order to save dinner, I had to choose a good wine.  A smooth fruity wine to cancel out a stew of chicken, sausage and shrimp with okra, peppers, onion and garlic and God only knows what went into the broth.
Of course, I did come to the rescue with a Cabernet Franc Rosé just brought home from my recent Keuka Lake Wine Tour and a visit to McGregor Vineyard and Winery.
The McGregor family established their winery in 1980 and began producing Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir that year. Since its inception McGregor Winery has followed the European philosophy of winemaking.
Today, the thriving McGregor Vineyard includes Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Muscat Ottonel, Cayuga White, and Vignoles. McGregor Vineyard is also home to the rare (in the United States) Vinifera grape varieties Sereksiya Charni, Saperavi Rkatsiteli, and Sereksiya Rose'.  The latter grapes, from the Republic of Georgia, make a fantastic red wine named "Black Russian."  I'm letting mine sit for a few more years, but what I tasted on the visit were just extraordinaire.
I digress, now back to my Rose'.
This is one I just have to talk more about the color.  I know this don't mean alot, but the color of this wine is what all Rose' should be. Very elegant pink color and very, very bright.  The brightest wine I think I have ever seen.  Just crystal clear.  Score a 100 for color.
Aromas were just as fantastic.  Watermelon and ripe red cherries and a little strawberry filled the glass.  In the mouth, again fantastic. Lots of cherry (like cherry cough drops) some strawberry and still some watermelon.  The watermelon aromas and taste were like those of watermelon life savers.  The finish was a little short, but dry and tasty.  The dry finish was surprising, because all the aromas and taste were like sweet candies.
After dinner I sat on the patio till I finished what was left in the bottle.  Certainly would have opened a second bottle if I had one.  In the past two years I have come to appreciate, accept and enjoy Rose' wine and this may be the best I've tasted so far. (Thank you Evan, for the challenge).  McGregor Vineyard and Winery Rose' d'Cabernet Franc 2009 ($15), Fantastic!