Sunday, October 30, 2011

Montebuena Rioja 2009

I've posted earlier that Rioja is my favorite or at least one of my favorite autumn wines.  Don't ask why, I don't really know why, but it is. Last week-end I stopped by one of the many nearby wine and spirits shops to pick up a bottle of Chianti for Shirley's spaghetti sauce and found this inexpensive Rioja on the store's "picks of the week" rack. A Montebuena Rioja 2009.($11) made with 100% Tempranillo grapes.
Nice dark purple color in the glass. Dark cherry aromas with some blackberry, leather and a hint of pepper.  In the mouth were loads of blackberry, some cherry and spice with hints of mocha. The wine finished long, smooth and dry with lots of fruit and a bit of vanilla.
Shirley didn't make the spaghetti sauce, so we settled for some sloppy joes for a quick evening meal.  This was a great red wine with the chili sauce used in the BBQ style sloppy joes.  The wine was also great just sipping afterwards.  A very nice Spanish wine with a very nice price tag. I was able to return to the wine shop and pick up a few more.  Can't think of a better way to spend my autumn Sunday afternoons then watching the NFL and sipping on a delicious Montebuena Rioja.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Craggy Range Te Kahu 2009

First, this is the first New Zealand red wine I have tasted in a least four years.  The last was an unimpressive Pinot Noir that, along with some not so favorable press about NZ reds, kept me away from trying anymore.   I have always liked New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc's, but red wines were just not attractive to me.
Secondly, let's get out of the way what I don't like about Craggy Range Te Kahu 2009 ($22).
It has a twist off cap.  OK, now that is over with, let's talk about what I do like about this wine.
We'll start with the aromas of blackberry, plum and currant and a surprisingly aroma of coal.
I grew up in the coal region in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania and remember the smell in the air when near the coal mountains and mines in the neighborhood and when playing on the coal banks. I found aromas very reminiscent of a time long, long ago and found these aromas very pleasant.
A smooth mouthfeel, with lots of berry and cherry flavors and some tobacco, was also very pleasant. The finish was long and fruit filled with plums and currants and a little spice.
The 2009 Te Kahu is a Bordeaux style blend of 80% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Malbec. The proportions of the blend change most vintages to reflect conditions of the year and to ensure that Craggy Range meets a certain 'house style'. 
Te Kahu means 'the cloak' in Te Reo Maori and refers to the mist that envelops the Giants Winery in the Tuki Tuki Valley. Legend has it that this mist was used to protect a mythical Maori maiden from the sun as she visited her lover Te Mata. 
The Craggy Range Te Kahu can be found on-line for $16 and would be well worth the price.  For just sipping in the family room or den or enjoying with a nicely cooked rib eye and maybe even a Thanksgiving turkey, Te Kahu is a winner and a must have.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno 2009

Last week I stopped into one of my favorite wine shops, Vinomania,  in downtown Syracuse.  What I like about this store is that it is 'wine' only and offers many selections not found at any of the many other retailers in the Syracuse area, along with some outstanding pricing.
When there, I was offered a taste of a few wines that were opened for a wine tasting event the day before.  One of them was the organic Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno 2009 ($13), a delicious blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Montepulciano.
The history of Count Saladini Pilastri dates back to the year 1000. A noble family that boasts a rich and fascinating past hailing from Ascoli Piceno, where wine has always been a part of its culture. They began growing grapes three centuries ago in the limestone hills of Spinetoli and the rolling and sunny hills of Monte Prandone and Porto d'Ascoli.
Saladini Pilastri company has been following the rules of sustainable, low-impact organic farming, which preserves the produce's high-quality standard, since 1994. They have been farming organically since 1995, and received certification in 1998.
Aromas were a little complex starting with sweet tobacco and anise with lots of plum, blackberry and black cherry and hints of chocolate and spice. A well balanced, very smooth and fruity wine in the mouth leading to a very long finish.
A full bodied wine that will pair well with any red meats or red sauce.  Tonight Pam made the sauce with our last pickings of tomatoes from our garden.  Added to her tomatoes is a little onion and garlic, Rosso Piceno wine and loads of marjoram.  This very tasty red sauce was poured over pasta and served with a salad, garlic bread and some shredded parmigiano reggiano for the pasta. A fantastic dinner made even better with a fantastic wine.
I finished the wine with a few bites of a super extra sharp cheddar, from Buttercup Cheese, that Shirley picked up at the CNY Regional Market on Saturday. That was really a great way to end the night.  With a good steak, burger, pasta and red sauce or a nice extra sharp cheese, you won't go wrong with a Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ravines Wine Cellars Meritage 2007

One full week of gorgeous weather in now over.  I got out of work tonight and walked into the chilly and rainy night. At least the thought of opening a nice local Finger Lakes wine at home helped keep the blood pressure under control.  The thought of winter snow storms and lake effect blizzards has always been a bit stressful and I can't help imagine that when the chills of autumn are felt.
Once home, I opened a Ravines Wine Cellars Meritage 2007($24).  A Bordeaux style blend of
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc, & 10% Merlot.This was one of my few remaining wines I brought home for my visit to Keuka Lake in August.  Not real hungry, but I did break off a few bites of Parmigiano Reggiano and a little Balsamic Vinegar for dipping. I am not a big fan of that cheese, but there are times it just feels right for a nighttime snack and tonight was one of those times.
I don't know if it was the dark ruby like color or my thirst for wine tonight that made this wine look so good in the glass, but it did.  Very nice soft aromas of black cherry and plum with hints of leather and a little vanilla.  Felt very smooth in the mouth with flavors of blackberry, black cherry, tobacco and some cinnamon.  The finish was soft and long with berry like flavors and dry.
I had a couple of glasses before bed and saved some for tomorrow.   Glad I saved this one for Regional Wine Week.  During the past two years I had the opportunity to sample many Finger Lakes Meritage and it has become one of my favorite Finger Lakes red wines.  There have been only a few that I thought were real outstanding and the Ravines 2007 is one them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Regional Wine Week 2011

Sunday October 9th kicked off the fourth annual Regional Wine Week, an event started in 2008 by Jeff Siegel (The Wine Curmudgeon) and Dave McIntyre (Dave McIntyre's WineLine) and hosted by DrinkLocalWine.com. (DLW)
During Regional Wine Week, writers across the U.S. post stories about their favorite regional and local wines, wineries, and events to their their blogs, Web sites, magazines, and newspapers. DLW also commissions articles about some of the biggest trends in regional wine. Then the DLW web site aggregates all that information, giving consumers a one-stop shop to see what’s going on in regional wine. Over the past three years, writers from across the country have covered most of the other 47. That's the other 47 wine producing States, excluding California, Washington and Oregon.
I am one of the lucky few that will be enjoying only wines from the New York Finger Lakes each night during the week. That may seem like a bold statement, but I would think it can be said by Jeff in Texas, Frank in Virginia, Tim in Ohio, Lenn in Long Island and Susan in Maryland and many other of my blogging cohorts with the same boldness. This is one week we get to brag about our local wines and that is what I intend to do.
The Regional Wine Week started out in grand fashion in this house.  On Sunday I opened my favorite Finger Lakes red wine, a Cabernet Franc.  This one was a 2008 for Sheldrake Point Winery.  Lots of fruit aromas and flavors.  Ripe cherries, blackberries and plum and a very clean and smooth mouthfeel leading to a medium long dry and smooth finish. Paired well with a roasted chicken with roasted potatoes.
Tonight we opened a 2009 semi-dry Riesling from Anthony Road Wine Company and followed with a big surprise 2010 Riesling from Ventosa Vineyards.
I just can't say enough about the Rieslings from Anthony Road.  Year after year, this winery is producing some of the most outstanding Rieslings in New York. The 2009 is a follow up of their Governor's Cup winning 2008 semi-dry and just as delicious. Very peachy aromas with lots of citrus, lemon, lime and melon and just a hint of pineapple and, like the aromas, a mouthful of flavors with a long zesty finish.  I did not want to say what we paired this with, but what the hell, Shirley served up a dinner of Kielbasa with sauerkraut and baked beans, a meal I have always opened a cold beer with because wine is not a friend of Kielbasa and Kraut, not until now!  Very nice combo and one I am looking forward to doing again.
I finished the night sipping on a wine I was not expecting much from, especially after the Anthony Road, but was I surprised?  You Betcha!
One of my favorite and one winery I always like to take new wine trail friends to is Ventosa Vineyards.  But, that has always been because of the fantastic tasting room and building and lake view from the deck.  This is one of, if not, the most gorgeous visits on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. It was never for the wine which I thought was mediocre, except for the Tocai Friulano, which is the best I tasted outside of Northern Italy.  May be time to re-visit this Finger Lakes gem.  The 2010 Riesling is outstanding.
Aromas were light with pineapple and some citrus and loads of Finger Lakes mineral.  The mineral aromas have never been real exciting and often I find them unpleasant, but I have found that this characteristic of Finger Lakes wine is really a thing of beauty in the wine.  In the mouth it was all honeydew melon, honeysuckle, some grapefruit with a bit of lemon and on and on with just multiple flavors coming through. A real surprise, but that is what Regional Wine Week is all about.  Finding the hidden gems in your own back yard.
Just wait till you see what is on tap for the rest of Regional Wine Week here in Central New York. Gonna be hard to beat the first two days, but the fun is in the trying.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baus Family Vineyards Alexander Valley Zinfandel 2009

It's been a lazy Sunday afternoon, watching NFL games and Nascar while waiting for playoff game two between the St. Louis Cardinals and my Phillies.  It's also the coldest day since last spring and I'm in need of a little red wine to keep me going and I have a few I just recently picked up at a local shop. Today it will be a 2009 old vine Zinfandel from Baus Family Vineyards in Sonoma County California.  The Baus Vineyards produce two Zins. One from Sonoma Mountain and the one I just opened from Alexander Valley.
Lots of different aromas starting with black cherry and a little pepper.  Also some some spicy aromas with hints of chocolate.  Taste was more cherry and mocha and the finish was long and zesty with pepper and spice.
Not bad, but not a wine for sipping.  Decided to take a glass to the dinner table with pork chops and sauerkraut. Not a good move.  The wine really overpowered the meal. Next time I'll try with pizza or a grilled steak or burger.  I did try later with a few bits of aged Dubliner cheese which paired very nicely.  Nicely priced at $12.50 locally, but that was also a sale price, down from $16.
My guy did not win the race and the Phillies and Eagles both lost.  Not a winning day in the Sports world and not a winning wine at the table.