Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rose' de Tornado

Interesting day here on Saturday. The weather was beautifully sunny and cool until late in the evening when a few clouds popped up. That deteriorated quickly about 8:30 PM as a frontal system passed through and spawned a few tornadoes. One of them passed within half a mile of here setting off alarms, knocking out the satellite dish for television, and finally killing the power for a brief period of time. Scott is not a huge fan of tornado sirens - and neither am I. It was a wild ride for a few minutes, but so far the household is surviving.

Fortunately everything was complete for the day when all this began. Dinner was a marinated veal chop cooked on the grill with grilled corn on the cob and a small salad. The wine was a 2008 Domaine Des Cantarelles Rose' de Fayel, van de pays du Gard. The wine is 70% Cabernet Franc, 25% Syrah and 5% Grenache.

It was all about cherry fruit a tiny touch of almond and good acidity. Light, refreshing, easy to drink and at $11 a bottle highly affordable.

Eating Local

The local market is promoting an "Eat Local" month now that the local farmers and growers are harvesting produce and other items. Since tonight's meal was already planned tomorrow will be the all local meal here.

Of the local items now available in the store the one that immediately caught my eye was pheasant eggs. For $2 four of them came home with me. They are local, free range and fed an organic feed. Still working on the meal but it will include a local chicken, locally harvested asparagus, local lettuces for the salad and local strawberries for dessert. The wine will be local also.

The four eggs are pictured above surrounding a chicken egg for contrast.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kinkead Ridge - 2008 White Wines

This weekend was the release of the Kinkead Ridge 2008 white wines at the winery in Ripley, Ohio. It's always a fun trip at this time of year because we always seem to wind up in the middle of the Memorial Day parade in Mt. Orab, about 20 miles north of the winery. We waved at the crowd and continued on south to the winery, but it's nice to know the local "Mt. Orbians" think so much of us that they greet us each year with a parade as we pass through.

Let's start with the picture above. Those are Viognier grapes on the vine last September at vineyard. They went into the 2008 Viognier/Roussanne blend. This wine was fully ripe and the nose was about sweet citrus, some flowers and ripe pears, or more exactly the pear skin. There was more Viognier in the blend, but the taste of pears and the kiwi of the Roussanne seemed stronger. The Viognier perked up the wine with it's unique aromas. A nice acid balance finished off the wine. The wine was tight and somewhat closed but what it was showing was delicious. It checked in at 14.8% alcohol which is very high for an Ohio white wine. This one was full flavored and just flat out good. $15.95

The Revelation was distinctly different from the 2007 version. This one was dominated by Sauvignon Blanc with a few other white varieties blended in. This wine was probably wound tighter than the Viognier/Roussanne. It offered up hints of green grape and minerality in the nose. There was definite grapefruit in the taste with just a hint of hay and it had the acid to match the grapefruit taste. It reminded most of a Sancerre wine from France and that is my favorite region for Sauvignon Blanc wines. Production on this wine was less than 150 cases and it checked in at 14% alcohol. This wine will be very good this fall. $13.95

Next came the Riesling. This wine was almost colorless in the glass, but there was peach and tart apple in the nose with just a tiny whiff of kerosene. While the Viognier/Roussanne smelled of pear skin the Riesling picked up the pear flesh in the nose. All those fruits were in the taste along with a touch of lemon. There was great acidity here with just a bit of sweetness. It finished with a suggestion of dry, crushed limestone at the very end. 1.2% residual sugar and 12.1% alcohol. This wine is consistently good from vintage to vintage but this one could be a very good wine with a few more months in the bottle. $11.95

The last white wine was a Rock Springs Vineyard Traminette. This was made with purchased grapes from Kentucky. Traminette is a hybrid cross between Gewurztraminer and Joannes Sevye 23.416. The nose was all Gewurztraminer with the musky smell of nutmeg, flowers and spices. That part was easy as it is a very distinct aroma. I have no idea what the hybrid 23.416 offers so it was all about going with the Gewurztraminer. Sadly the wine failed to deliver much in the spicy taste department as it was rather neutral. There was 3% residual sugar and 13% alcohol. A well made wine that just wasn't my cup of tea. $9.95

Each of the wines is a little young and could use more time in the bottle so the ones we brought home are sequestered for a few months. Come fall there will be some good oysters with the Revelation, a wood-fire roasted chicken with the Viongier and some good spicy food with the Riesling.

The added bonus is that these wines are local for me and they are more than fairly priced. If you're reading this in Ohio you will find them in some of the better wines stores and restaurants. For those of you outside of Ohio you'll have to schedule a visit.

Monday, May 25, 2009


There were a few other wines at the lobster fest that bear noting. First was a wine I was unfamiliar with, a 2006 Lioco chardonnay from Snoma County in California. The wine is steel fermented and sees no oak. It was a medium gold color and had a taste of fully ripe apple and melon. There was good acidity, but it probably could have used a little more. At the same price ($20) as the Mothe Chablis it wasn't a bargain, though it was a very drinkable wine.

Next was a 2005 Cakebread Chardonnay from Napa. There was sweet fruit but it was a little overblown, and too buttery for my taste. It was 14.9% alcohol so one couldn't even call it refreshing.

At the end of the evening there was a 2005 Red Head Ranch Cabernet. By the time it was opened the evening was winding down and the taste buds were getting a little tired. The fair thing to do is delay judgment until the context is better for this wine.

Yes, those are single malt whisky glasses in the photo above. There was a wee dram of Oban Distillers Edition to end the evening and send everyone home smiling.

Off today to Kinkead Ridge winery where they are offering their 2008 white wines for the first time.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lobster Fest 2009

It was a late night - so many lobsters, so many very good wines, so many friends.

The 2009 lobster fest is history and it might be hard to top it in 2010. We steamed 14 lobsters in a gas fired cooker normally used for brewing beer. There was an antipasto plate, a spinach and artichoke dip, grilled shrimp, shrimp cocktail, salad, grilled potatoes, green beans and desserts. There was also wine - lots of wine.

There were two Chablis, a 2007 Vincent Mothe (see photo a couple posts below) and a 2006 Jean-Claude Bessin.

We began with the 2007 Mothe. Very pale in the glass with a nose of citrus, apples, and sweet pears. The taste was sharp, tart and clearly defined. This wine had a tremendous edge to it, a steeliness and a minerality that kept the fruit playing second fiddle. At $19 this is an absolute bargain in the wine world. The finish was all about tasting dry rocks with rain on them, and it was of more than acceptable length. This wine re-affirmed why I love Chablis.

The 2006 Bessin was next. This wine was darker in the glass with a definite yellow hue to it. The nose was citrus and peaches with a little pineapple thrown in and just a hint of vanilla. This was more of a fruit driven wine in the taste and it came through with apples and pineapples. It was lacking the acidity and the steely edge of the Mothe. There was a hint of sweetness at the end. On its own it was a good wine, but this wine was overshadowed on this day.

Next up were a pair from Domaine William Fevre. First was a 2006 Fourchaume, Vignoble de Valourent, a premier cru wine. One sniff of the glass and it was obvious we had moved up in class with this wine. The nose was all about citrus peel, white flowers, peaches and honeysuckle. The taste really lit up the mouth with tremendous acidity, full fruit with the apples and peaches being supported by a ripe pear. As with the Mothe there was an edge to this wine that cut through the fruit with acid and limestone. The finish was long with a little blast of limestone at the very end. The Mothe was a good counterpoint to the richness of the lobster, but this wine just married with the rich meat. It was a wonderful match and a wine that is a true bargain at $45.

Next to lose it's cork was a 2006 Bougros, a grand cru Chablis from Fevre. The nose here was a little closed and really never did open up that much. There were hints of stone fruits and honey and dry limestone, but even after an hour it remained somewhat closed.

The taste more than made up for the lack of nose on this wine. It was the Fourchaume multiplied a couple of times. White peaches, pears, a touch of honey and perhaps a touch of mango were there sitting on top of limestone and acid in a remarkable balancing act. The depth and length of finish in this wine was almost an evening unto itself. My guess is this wine is still three to five years from reaching its peak. At $80 it's not an inexpensive wine, but when it hits its peak in three or more years it will be a wonderful experience.

There were other wines as well, but these wines stood out as the liquid center piece of the evening. More about the the others later.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Endangered Species?

Not really, but doomed entity is probably an apt description.

The lobsters have arrived and one has posed for its final portrait before marching off to the lobster pot early this evening.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fattoria Montellori 2006

Holiday weekend is here and it got off to a delicious start this evening with a grilled New York strip steak, a little left over risotto made into a cake and pan seared, and some carrots and shallots with fresh tarragon.

The wine was a 2006 Fatorria Montellori Chianti. If one had a project to demonstrate what a Chianti smells like this wine could be used as a "olfactory" aid. Cherries, good, clean dry dirt, a little spice, and a wee bit of leather all eagerly jumped out of the glass. The cherries were tasty and there was a little raspberry to go with them. There was good acid and just the right amount of tannin on the finish to dry the mouth a little. For $12 it is impossible to not like this wine if you like Chianti. There's not tremendous depth or weight, but that is not what this wine is about. It's about popping the cork, pouring a glass and downing it with some good food at a reasonable price. At 13% alcohol it's not going to overwhelm anything, including a budget.

Tomorrow is one of several designated "days of gluttony" on the calendar. It is "Lobster Fest" day, where the local market flies in a plane load of live Maine lobsters and offers them at $12 apiece. Friends (the usual suspects) are pooling resources and buying 16 of them in the morning and cooking them all tomorrow evening. Salad, grilled potatoes, green beans and a few surprises will round out the menu.

There will be wine! Last year was sort of a hodge-podge of whites while this year is focusing on chardonnay with a special emphasis on Chablis. My contribution to the day will be a Vincent Mothe 2007 Chablis and a 2006 William Fevre Premier Cru Fourchaume Vignoble de Valourent. Happily I also know that there will be a 2006 Fevre Grand Cru Bougros on the menu. There will be a couple of California Chardonnays as well. Full details will magically appear here on Sunday, but here's a nice shot of the Mothe Chablis in the evening sun.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cote de Bone?

During the time off from work this week I ran across a new item for Scott. Pictured above is not a ghost - it's a large dog treat made with lobster broth. That's a U.S. dime in the picture for reference. Of course in his usual manner he sniffed the treat for a minute or two, then looked at it for a bit before deciding it was worth eating. Obviously he was waiting for a glass of white Cote de Bone burgundy to accompany this delight. They must be good because he was quickly back for another.

The treats are made locally by Give a Doggy a Bone and come in several flavors.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Spring Risotto and Saint Joseph

It was a nice relaxing day yesterday and all the flower and herb beds got weeded and some new planting went in while the ground was soft from all the recent rain (and before the next round came in this morning).

All the herbs looked good so they were featured at dinner in a springtime risotto. Rice and shallots were cooked in a little olive oil and then the stock went in gradually. There was a tiny pinch of saffron to give it an earthiness and just touch of color. At the very end the just picked and roughly chopped herbs went in; parsley, sage, rosemary, garden thyme, lemon thyme, mint, tarragon, a tiny bit of lavender, oregano, chives and basil. We added grated Italian cheeses and a tiny bit of white pepper to finish.

The mound of risotto was surrounded by some herb grilled lamb chops and a few basil leaves. The lamb was sweet and gamey and the risotto was as good as it gets. Each bite seemed to pick up a different herb so each bite was essentially a little different - and each bite was delicious.

There had to be an 'earthy' wine to match the flavors, and in this case it was a 2003 E. Guigal Saint Jospeh from the northern Rhone. Dark tart cherries and plums were in the nose and taste, along with dry leather and a little bit of damp earth. The cherries and plums and earthiness carried well into the taste. The wine was medium in weight and the tartness of the acid made a nice balance with the fruit and earth. It checked in at 12.5% alcohol. Originally selling for $30 I managed to find it discounted in a close out bin for $19. At that price it was a bargain, though at the original price it might not have been. Regardless of price it was a good wine and a great pairing.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Australian Riesling and Vinegar

One of the small joys of spring is the annual vintage of chive blossom vinegar, pictured here. There are several clumps of chives, and friends also grow them, and in mid spring each year the blossoms go into jars to marinate in white wine vinegar. After about a month the vinegar is drained off, passed through several layers of cheesecloth to remove small bits and bottled. It gives a taste of spring all year long in salad dressing and other places where a touch of vinegar helps perk up a dish. And it looks pretty marinating in the sun.

One of the things that has been difficult to find in this area of the U.S. is Australian Rieslings. The few I've managed to find in the local market have all been very good wines, but they remained a hard sell and few merchants bothered to carry them.

I read somewhere recently that Riesling is the one Australian wine showing growth in U.S. sales, and I would link the article if I could find where I stored the link. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I stopped in one of the larger local outlets and there was a large display of these wines. Apparently one of the local distributors is clearing out a warehouse and discovered a pallet of them stuck in a corner. He greatly discounted the prices and the local store bought the entire amount for the 'fire sale' price.

So what did I add to the cellar? Four bottles each of Grosset Watervale Riesling from the 2005 and 2006 vintages. These wines are from the Clare Valley in South Australia. Instead of the suggested price of $30, they were available for $15. I added three bottles of 2005 Rocky Gully dry Riesling from the Frankland River are of Western Australia. There was a suggested retail price of $15, but they came home at a price of $7. This wasn't a wine I was familiar with but at $7 a bottle I took a chance.

There was one wine that was in short supply and they were limiting customers to a single bottle since they only bought two cases. That wine was the Grosset Polish Hill Riesling from the 2006 vintage. That is the holy grail wine of Australian Rieslings in the U.S. With a suggested price of $45 a bottle, it came home for $26.

With spring and summer coming dry Rieslings rank right up there with dry roses as true delights, and there will be some good evenings this summer with these wines.

And on Memorial Day (May 25) will be off to pick up the 2008 Riesling and other white wines being released on that weekend by Kincaid Ridge, arguably the best winery in Ohio.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cabernet and Star Trek

It was another beautiful evening last night, but all that changed this afternoon. The rain is currently 'torrential' and it's very dark at a time of day when it shouldn't be. For once I paid some attention to the weather forecasters so there was a birthday dinner on the grill last night instead of today.

Dinner was an aged, bone-in rib steak rubbed with a couple of drops of balsamic vinegar and dusted with black pepper and then grilled. There was a baked potato with sour cream and freshly snipped chives, some sauteed asparagus and a small salad with a chive blossom and honey vinaigrette.

The wine was the last bottle in the cellar of the 2001 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Cold Creek Vineyard from Washington. I purchased five bottles of this wine four years ago when there was a 'going out of business' sale at a local outlet.

While the steak was grilling I pulled the cork and poured a glass. It was closed up for only a couple of minutes before black cherries and other dark fruits started to fill the room. This was a wine that just blossomed to the point I felt like I could drink it with my nose. The cherries were there in the taste as well along with something that reminded me of blackberries. I had purchased some fresh blackberries a few days prior so I pulled a few of them out the refrigerator and had to agree that they were indeed in the wine as well. The wine was full flavored but balanced with great acid and sweet tannin on the finish. The finish lasted for some time. The wine was even better with the steak.

This was not an overpowering wine, nor was it voluptuous. It was just perfectly balanced, perfectly aged and perfectly delicious. A great birthday treat.

Since today was a complete "wash-out" as far as doing anything outside (and since I am home from work for the rest of the week) I took the opportunity to catch the new Star Trek film that opened last weekend. I have seen every episode of the original TV series more than a couple of times, and have seen most, but not all, of the movies based on the series. I wasn't really expecting much, but for once I was pleasantly surprised. The cast is more than good and the story line is more than acceptable and taken as a whole the movie was as good as last night's wine. And just like the wine it left me wishing for more. With the way the movie ended I think I will get more Star Trek, but finding another 2001 Cold Creek may require a black hole and a slight time warp.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pinot Gris and Lilacs

It was almost a perfect day today, a little on the cool side but with a light sweatshirt it was just perfect for sitting on the patio in the sunshine enjoying spring. Just off the patio is a lilac bush nearing full bloom. With a light breeze coming from behind the bush the scent of the lilacs kept floating lightly across the patio perfuming the air. Add in a nice wine to sip and the entire day was worth whatever price of admission was being charged.

The wine for the day was a litter mate, so to speak, of a wine consumed a few days ago. This time it was a 2007 Chehalem Pinto Gris from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The previously consumed Riesling was outstanding and this wine was nearly as good. The nose was all grapefruit and other citrus but the taste added in a little ripe melon to round things out. The weight was medium, with almost a light viscous feel to it. Throw in some excellent acid, a low 13% alcohol and just a hint of sweetness at the end and it was the perfect patio wine for the day. There was some Icelandic cheese, some bread, some ripe strawberries for munching and everything just went together for a wonderful day.

According to the back label "Chehalem" is a native American word for Valley of the Flowers, so with a sip of wine and a scent of lilacs the wine more than lived up to its heritage. I was familiar with Chehalem Pinot Noirs but this Pinot Gris and the Riesling were my first experience with the winery's white wines. It won't be my last experience as I ordered three more bottles of the Riesling.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Barbera D'Alba

Sometimes the cellar yields a surprise, and that was the case tonight. The surprise was a 2005 Enzo Boglietti Barbera D'Alba. It was surprising because it apparently never made it onto the cellar list so there was no record of its existence. The current vintage is 2007 so the wine has been there for some time, resting peacefully.

It's the beginning of a weekend so there was a small steak on the grill and some oven roasted potatoes with fresh lemon thyme and rosemary. We pulled the cork out of the wine and poured a couple of glasses.

Dark red with dark cherries and strawberries in the nose balanced by a little bit of dry dirt lead to a tasty wine. Good acid and tannin played off those same fruits in the taste. The dirt (earth) was a little unusual as it really smelled and tasted like dry dirt that had just seen the first sprinkle of rain and was giving up some aroma that was a mix of both. I really liked that. There was a very good length of finish to the wine. The acid and earth played a nice game with the steak and potatoes. Good wine.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Oregon to Iceland

A very good wine last night. No, make that an excellent wine last night.

In this case it was a 2006 Chehalem Dry Riesling Reserve from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. There was a bit of kerosene in the nose overlying a bit of flowers and white peaches. There was no lime peel or lemon zest in the nose. There was excellent body to the wine and a taste of grapefruit, kiwi and banana. The banana hit at the very back and top of the throat and was just enough to let one know it was there. The wine was dry and very much Alsatian in style and the kerosene stayed through the entire evening. There was good length to the finish and it finally ended with some slate and a bit of lemon to make the very end refreshing. For an Alsatian style Riesling made in the U.S. this is excellent and as good as it gets.

It was an excellent wine with the marinated swordfish done on the grill. Fresh rosemary, crushed garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and olive oil covered the fish for half an hour before it moved to the grill.

The cheese was also excellent. It was from Iceland. The local market has been bringing in a number of products from there and this and another cheese were the latest to be featured. Höfðingi (please don't ask me to pronounce it) is very much in a Camebert style but there is definitely more acidity in the finish. The promo material that came with the cheese tells me that it is only made on the spring when the grass is fresh and the cows are happily munching away on it. There were slices of fresh, crusty Italian bread to top with the cheese and there was the Chehalem Riesling to wash it down. Perfect pairing.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sly Dog

There was a very interesting wine last night that broke one of my cardinal rules about purchasing wine. Rule #1 says to buy no wine with an animal on the label without tasting it first. Rule #1a says the same thing about wines with animals in the name. Being a dog lover there is a possible exception to rule #1 and #1a if the animal in question is a canine. There was a large porterhouse steak waiting for the grill and some potatoes to be cooked in duck fat, and the weather was sunny and cool. That made it a red wine night.

Long story short - I purchased, untasted, a bottle of Sly Dog Cellars 2005 , Bin 92 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Red Hills Area of Lake County, California. Lake County is just north of Napa Valley. I invoked the exception for this wine because I was amazed to find a California Cabernet under 14% alcohol. This one checked in at 13.8%. It also checked in at $17.

While the steak and potatoes cooked the cork came out of the wine. The nose was very closed at first but eventually opened up with some dark fruit coming out with a hint of raspberry mixed in, all topped off with just a suggestion of vanilla. The taste was also a little restrained at first but finally the raspberries came out a little stronger and there was a darker fruit lying underneath them. The tannins were balanced and there was good acid in the wine. This was definitely not a heavy weight California Cabernet, but there are enough of them in the world as it is. The finish showed a little bit of pepper and a good touch of the darker fruit at the very end. For the price this is a very good wine, and it's nice to see a little restraint from a California winery.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Just to prove that it was difficult to make a bad Chianti in 2006 we offer the Cantine Gini Chianti in the traditional fiasco, the straw covered bottle which 20 years ago sat empty and with a candle stuck in the neck, with wax from previous candles running down it and onto some of the straw at every low budget, dimly lit Italian restaurant in the U.S. Let's not forget the checkered table cloths and the ubiquitous, green cardboard container of tasteless Kraft 'Parmesan' resembling powder either.

There was a shipment of the wine at the local market for $8 so it was worth a try. The color and weight of the wine were medium. The nose was cherries, a strawberry or two and a whiff of dry earth. The taste was about the same, but with a tiny touch of black pepper. The wine was full of fruity acid. The finish was a little short, but for $8 it was about right. By no means was this an excellent wine, but it was highly drinkable and good for washing down a meal. At a low 12% alcohol it also meant an extra glass was in order. As an added bonus I now have a new candle holder.
It was definitely Italian night as the huge pot of fresh basil that adorns the front step had reached the harvesting point. Normally this event occurs around the first of June but the local garden center had larger plants this spring so those went in the planter about ten days ago.

Dinner was a plate of fettuccine with a sauce of olive oil, a small shallot, some crushed garlic and a few red pepper flakes. All that was warmed in a pan until fragrant and the flavors combined, about two minutes. It was mixed with the pasta and then topped with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and fresh basil.

Scott was also happy because there were several strands of pasta that found their way into his mouth and there was just enough sauce left to coat his dog food for the evening. Happy dog.

The only thing missing from the evening was a recording of a drunken Italian tenor singing "Come Back to Sorrento" and the cook in the kitchen trying unsuccessfully to sing harmony.