Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010

I really don't know why I did this, because I have enough California wines to finish my two weeks of Super Bowl preparation of CA only wines. "GO NINERS."  Shirley picked up a nice filet of Steelhead Trout for dinner and I was out of my California white wines, so we stopped at one of our favorite small wine shops to pick one up.  One bottle of a California white was all I wanted, but we did end up leaving with an assorted box of wine.  One of these was a Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010.($12).  I uncorked this wine as soon as we arrived home and about a hour later, Shirley cooked up the trout with some fries and steamed spinach.  A perfect meal for an aromatic Sauvignon Blanc.
Aromas of grapefruit, some tropical fruits and lots of floral, orange blossom and honeysuckle on the nose.  Flavors were of pear, tropical fruits and pineapple leading to a nice but short finish.  The food pairing was excellent, but sipping afterward was outstanding.  This is an almost perfect summer wine to just lay back and enjoy on it's own.  Very Highly Recommended.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sebastiani Sonoma County Chardonnay 2010

After tasting what I thought was a very delicious Chardonnay last summer,  I shopped locally hoping to find that brand still on the shelves.  I found it at my first stop, so immediately purchased one for a salmon dinner.  What I liked about the Chardonnay last summer was the aromas and flavors of loads of lemon, apple, lots of stone fruit with just hints of butterscotch and vanilla spice.  The fruit dominated this oaked Chard, but still left enough of the oak flavors which is what I seem to like more of in a Chardonnay.  When I opened the bottle before dinner I immediately knew I had the wrong wine.  This time it was all oak driven.  Yes, there was some citrus and peach, but unlike what I tasted last year, it was dominated by the oak. The pairing with the fish was not bad. The dinner saved the wine. I had the right brand, but then realized that in July of last year it could not have been a 2011 and most likely a 2010.  So, off I go again looking for the 2010.  I could not find one anywhere, so I took the recommendations from the wine buyer at a larger store and picked up two other 2010 Sonoma County Chardonnays.
The first one was opened with Shirley's Chili.  Not the best pairing, but not a failure either.  The wine was a Sebastiani Sonoma County Chardonnay 2010 ($12).  This wine did have a little more oak aromas and taste than what I was looking for, but I did find lot's of lemon, green apple and even some melon with some toasty oak and vanilla. Finish was nice with just hints of spice.  An excellent wine with food I found out later when pouring a night cap while catching up on a little home office duties.  Sipping on it's own was so-so, but when I made a small salad and added some very light cheese, I enjoyed that glass and poured another.  This is also a wine I would like to try with scallops or Maryland crab.  Well worth the $12 I paid.  Recommended 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Owl Ridge Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Continuing with my California wines until the Super Bowl, I opened a nice Cabernet Sauvignon that I found at Total Wines & More in Virginia Beach on our October vacation.  What I like about shopping Wine stores and other outlets, like Harris-Teeter and Total Wines while visiting other States is that I find labels I have never seen here in Central New York.  This time I found a 2009 Owl Ridge Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvigon.($20). Again, this bottle was opened late night after dinner just for a taste and a glass while watching TV.  Thankfully, I did not open for a dinner of broccoli and shells loaded with fresh garlic and garlic salt.  The garlic taste was still in my mouth when I took my first sip and that alone killed the wine.  I immediately cleaned out the mouth and grabbed a few bites of chocolate before going for another taste. Much better!! Immensely better!!
Aromas were loaded with black currant and cherry with just hints of oak and spice. Nice flavors of currant and blackberry with a little smoke and vanilla in the mouth leading to a nice long finish.   Excellent with the chocolate and would be nice with a juicy burger or a grilled steak of your choice.  Lighter than what you may get in big jammy cabs this wine will also serve well with pizza or Italian red sauces. Highly Recommended 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2011

I don't have a lucky seat., like the guy in the TV commercial, to root for the 49ER's on Super Bowl Sunday, but I did stay with my New York wines last year during the two pre-game media hype weeks, and the Giants did win. This year, my teams didn't make the playoffs and my pick lost in the first game, so I began to root for the Niners.  In doing this, I feel obligated to continue pouring California wines until the 3rd of February.  I began by serving a Ghost Pines Red Blend for the Conference Championship games.

Today, I uncorked a very nice Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2011 with a composition of 96% Chardonnay. 2% Thompson Seedless, 1% White Riesling and1% Gewürztraminer. All of the grapes for the 2011 Chardonnay came from vineyards in the Central Coast American Viticulture Area (AVA), with 89% from Monterey County.  I received this wine for review from the Robert Mondavi Winery.

Aromas were real pleasant with lots lemon zest and green apple.  The mouth filled with the lemony citrus, some nectarine and very light toast and buttery vanilla ending in a medium to long buttery like finish. I opened this wine for a glass in the early afternoon and then paired nicely with a garlicky chicken stir fry.

Chardonnay's have always been tough for me.  I find many are too buttery or creamy or even spicy at times in oaked Chards. I did not find that at all in this wine which was aged for 10 months in oak.  The Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay is balanced very nicely and I very much enjoyed the light oak notes.  What is even nicer is the price.  The suggested retail is $11, but I found on line for as low as $8 with most outlets between $9 and $10 making this a remarkable value.  Very Highly Recommended

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ghost Pines Red Blend 2009

Spent a very lazy Sunday watching the NFL Conference Championship games and sipping on a very nice California red blend.  I chose a CA wine because I was rooting for the San Francisco Forty Niners.  That worked out nicely because the closest I came to having a wine while rooting for any of the other teams was one from the Republic of Georgia.  My wine was a Ghost Pines Red Blend 2009 ($16)

In 1964 Louis P. Martini, son of Napa pioneer and icon Louis M. Martini, purchased 178 acres of land in the eastern hills of the Napa Valley. The Martini family developed this land into a vineyard and named it Ghost Pines as a tribute to the native grey pines, which at dusk, appear to hover, solitary and ghostlike throughout the coastal valleys.
The blend is 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Petite Sirah, 22% Zinfandel, 10% Merlot, 6% Syrah and the grapes come from several wine growing counties. 46% Napa County,  36% Sonoma County and 18% San Joaquin County.

Color was a dark ruby red with aromas of blackberry, some spice with a little leather and hints of pipe tobacco, almost like the bowl of a well used Briar pipe.
Real nice flavors of blackberry, blueberry, anise and cinnamon filled the mouth.  Finish was very long with dark berries and some spice and black pepper.
I poured my first glass upon opening the bottle.  That first glass was peppery with a little spice and a kind of vinyl aroma.  I waited about 90 minutes before pouring a second glass and found the aromas and flavors to be more pleasing. I would recommend that you open at least an hour or so, before serving.  I finished the wine with a roast beef dinner. Great wine with the beef.  Pleasant wine, nice value, highly recommended. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The War Between The Francs

This evening I was very enthused about taking part in a Twitter #winechat "Cabernet Franc Festival."  Cab Francs are becoming more popular here in the Finger Lakes and maybe the most important red wine grape in the region.  I also had one bottle left of a Cabernet Franc that I brought home from Virginia on my last visit.  So, I decided to have a mini civil war here on my tasting table, which also doubles as my PC and office desk.  Before starting the #winechat, I diced up a few cheeses and thawed out a few Lindt Chocolate balls.  I then opened one of New York's finest, a bottle of Sheldrake Point Vineyard 2010 ($18) and my last bottle from Virginia, a Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery 2008 ($15).

The Sheldrake Point is 90% Cab Franc, 6% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was racked out of barrel on August 3, 2009, after nearly 9 months in oak. The wine was blended during the first week of August and chilled for 3 weeks to 35F. To this blend a 4% addition of 2007 Cabernet Franc, a 2% addition of 2008 Merlot, and a 2% addition of 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon were added.
Color was a typical Cabernet Franc light garnet red. Aromas were very light, even after a few hard swirls, but when they finally did come thru, I found lots of cherry with blackberry and hints of spice and black pepper and a very faint hint of ginger.  On the palate, there were nice dark fruit flavors of black cherry, raspberry and some blueberry.  There was also some spice and herbal notes. The medium finish had a little black pepper along with some dark fruit.  

The Prince Michael is 95% Cab Franc and 5% Merlot. The wine was aged for 18 months in both French and American oak barrels.
Color was almost identical to the Sheldrake Point. Maybe just a bit darker.  Aromas were very evident right from the pour.  More blackberry with some cherry and some raspberry.  In the mouth this wine was eloquent. Very smooth mouth feel with notes of blackberry, black cherry and just a tad of herbal or earth. Finish was a little short with cherry and some green pepper.

Personally, I billed tonight's #winechat as a mini civil war.  One of New York's best against an unknown from Virginia.  I was very confident that my Finger Lakes wine would have an easy night, scoring much higher than a wine from Leon, VA.  Confident because I have yet to find a Virginia Cabernet Franc, with exception to Jefferson Vineyards, that I liked.  But, I was fooled or just haven't yet tasted the best Virginia has to offer.  In every category, the Prince Michel proved to be best.  Aromas were more compelling, the mouth feel was much smoother with richer fruit taste and the finish was close to silky.  Both wines were very nice representation of East Coast Cab Francs,  but in this war, the South prevailed.

Both wines will pair very nicely with roasted red meats such as beef and lamb and pairs well with herbs such as rosemary and thyme.Dishes that feature roasted garlic, mushrooms of all types (particularly truffles), legumes (especially lentils) really shine while sides like brown rice, bitter greens, grits (and other stone ground grains) and roasted potatoes enhance the earthy flavor factor. An excellent pizza wine and paired very well tonight with light cheese like Gouda and Havarti, with chocolate bites and even with some slices of pepperoni.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thirsty Owl Limited Edition Riesling 2011

I've been trying to empty out my red wines for the past few weeks and needed a break from the reds.  So, last evening Pam made a nice light dinner of fresh Cod boiled or simmered in water, lemon juice, onion, fennel, parsley, capers and served with rice.  A perfect meal for a Finger Lakes Riesling from Thirsty Owl Wine Company.   This one was their 2011 Limited Edition Riesling ($16)

The nose was light and a bit complex.  There was some floral notes, some pineapple, some citrus, a little peach and a hint of tropical fruits.  In the mouth and the medium finish were nicely balanced with nice pink grapefruit, honey and apricot.

The pairing is a bit difficult for me to say anything nice about because I am not a big fan of Cod.  Honestly, I don't like Cod at all, but the wine was a different story.  The best way I can come up with is to just say that the wine made the dinner enjoyable.  Would not expect less from a Finger Lakes Riesling.  Highly Recommended

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Folie à Deux Alexander Valley Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

A few nights ago, Shirley and I dined at one of our favorite Italian restaurants in North Syracuse, Nestico's.  The food has always been outstanding and the wine list has always been fantastic.  The wine list is small, about 25 different wines and a special "ask for" selection of wines rated 94+, but the selection is what makes this list so fantastic.  The menu is more of a somewhat eclectic Italian/American, but I have a few favorites and they are all Italian.  My wine choice was usually Italian wines, but over the past few years I branched out with recommendations from the chief cook, bottle washer and owner Peter Nestico.   This time it was a wine that he added to the list about a month ago, A Folie à Deux Alexander Valley Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.  We paired the wine with one of Nestico's specialties, chicken Parmesan with pasta, hoping that this would not be a big jammy California Cab.  That, it was not. I was sold with the first sniff of the server's tasting pour.
Color was a dark ruby red with soft aromas of blackberry, blueberry and some black cherry.  Mouthfeel was very soft with blackberry, blueberry, some plum and a just a hint of licorice. The finish was medium to long, very earthy berry like and silky smooth.  Very nicely balanced and a perfect wine for our Italian dinner.  Even Shirley had a second glass.  That means she really, really, really liked this wine.
The suggested retail price for this wine is $24, but I was able to find it on-line for as low as $17.  When, I buy wine, I very seldom will purchase more than two bottles of any one wine.  I don't believe I have ever purchased a case or half case of any one wine, but I am making an exception for this Folie à Deux Cabernet Sauvignon.  A case has been ordered. An excellent value and VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Year In Review

I've been doing these Years in Reviews for a few years now and came close to just forgetting or not really wanting to this year.  When I first sat down to start the article, I said to myself, " ya know, there really isn't that much to review for 2012."   Seemed logical that I not write a review of the year.   Then, I did make some mental notes and put together a short  list to help change my mind and record what was a 'life changing' 2012.  Not in what I discovered in the world of wine, but more importantly, in my personal life.  
Starting on September 1st I began my new life 'unemployed.'  Not exactly, that was my first day of retirement.  With retirement came lots of plans to lose weight, exercise, catch up on neglected house chores and start a new hobby or two.  Hopefully, I'll activate these plans in 2013, but so far, it's been a very lazy four months.  It is nice that I can wake up each day and not worry about getting anything accomplished and not having to be anyplace at any certain time, but that quickly became very boring.  This week I am going have to somehow explain to my cardiologist that I thought he said "gain 15 lbs" not lose 15 lbs.

When I retired, I also put together a few ideas about changing the blog.  Making it more professional looking, changing platform and/or even taking some classes to learn more about blogging and maybe even taking classes to learn more about wine was a 2012 goal.  I did decide to not change a thing other than the blog's appearance.   Keeping the blog strictly as a personal blog and not getting caught up in the world of the wine journalist, wine writers and wine critics has always been the aim of Why Wine Blog and it will stay that way.

In the world of great wines, 2012 was again another year of discovery.  Three new favorites added to my white wine list were, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, Verdejo, the native grape of Rueda in North-west Spain and Virginia's Viognier. I also sampled Rieslings from Alsace, Austria and Germany, but found that, although tasty, I will stay with Rieslings from the Finger Lakes region of New York. 
New red wines fared just as well with plenty of Zinfandel, Syrah, Gigondas, and an absolute new go to wine from Portugal, Ruby Red Porto

Now I should be making some New Year Resolutions and setting some goals for 2013.  I thought a few months ago that setting goals for the upcoming year would be easier, but now believe it may actually be more difficult since I am not really into a retirement routine.  I will be traveling more and visiting family and my hometown of Tamaqua, PA more often and have already been looking at what fishing gear I am going to need in the Spring.  Diet and excercise????  I'll wait and see.
Why Wine Blog will remain as is, 
"wine reviews from an amateur wine lover for the amateur wine lovers"
What I am most excited about will be the opportunity to discover more wines.  Already in my fridge are wines from the Republic of Georgia and a red wine from Switzerland which were purchased, along with some interesting Italian wines, at the PA Wine & Spirits Shoppe at the Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing, PA, a State Store with a fantastic wine selection.  Lot's to look forward to, so I guess I better get started.  Happy New Year!