Monday, April 26, 2010

Riesling in the Rain

It rained for almost the entire day yesterday, nothing heavy or severe, just a constant drizzle that made sitting in the recliner and watching out the window a perfect past time for the day.

In mid afternoon we pulled the cork from a Kinkead Ridge 2006 Riesling.  We drank a bottle of the current vintage (2008) a few weeks ago and decided it was time to try an older one.  The nose was still kerosene and lime zest.  The color had darkened just a bit but it still was bright and clear.  After a few swirls in the large glass the aromas switched positions with the lime zest being a little stronger than the kerosene.

Nice tart taste from the wonderful acidity.  I could pick up the lime in the taste but it was mostly a white peach and yellow apple taste.  Very appealing.  Medium weight and being just off dry gave the wine a wonderful mouth feel.  I loved this wine when it was fresh and new, and I like it just as well now.  It was easy to sip with some crackers and an appetizer of chicken and lemon grass.

Dinner was pan seared halibut which got a spicy dusting of chipotle powder before hitting the skillet.  There was also brown rice cooked with a knob of fresh ginger in the liquid and some slow roasted asparagus with shiitake mushrooms.  The rest of the Riesling was a perfect match with both the fish and the brown rice. The acid stood up to the richness of the fish and the hint of sweetness in the wine was very good with the heat from the chipotle and the ginger.  Good stuff.

There are still three bottles left of the 2006 Riesling and a half case each from both the 2007 and 2008 vintages.  There will be no 2009 Riesling due to weather conditions last year.  Hopefully this wine was a good indication that I should be in no rush to open any of them.  They can be parceled out to get through the missing vintage, and I'll hope for resupply in about 13 months when the 2010 vintage is ready.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bran Caia Tre 2007

This wine is Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  There is a definite tartness of red cherries from the Sangiovese and some darker fruit from the Cabernet.  A touch of earth comes through as well, but not a great deal.  Acid is appropriate and there's a small amount of tannin present.  Balanced, good drinking wine that left me somewhat underwhelmed.

The only real flaw, perhaps too strong a word,  I could find was a sourness at the very end of this wine.  It wasn't the tartness of a cherry finish, it was just a touch sour.

The bottom line for me was this wine lacked any sense of character or place. For $20 I can do better.

There was a small, pan seared steak and some potatoes Parisienne finished with white truffle butter for dinner.  Good little meal and a decent, drinkable wine, but nothing memorable about either.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Seghesio Dolcetto D'Alba 2005

The market was well stocked with fresh Blue Oyster mushrooms and fresh picked Shiitakes that were grown locally.  Locally, in this case, means about ten blocks away by my second cousin.  The local restaurants are using them and they were finally available in the market.  They were sliced and sauteed in butter and olive oil with some shallots.  I added a few re-hydrated porcinis and some of the strained soaking liquid along with a little white wine.  Some fresh tarragon went in at the last minute along with some fresh fettuccine.  Add a grating of some hard, Italian cheeses and it was a great meal.

The wine was out of the bargain bin at a local store.  The wine was a Seghesio Dolcetto D'Alba from the 2005 vintage.  Most of the Dolcettos in the market at the moment are the 2008 vintage so this one was marked down to half price.  The lone bottle in the bin found its way home with me for $9.

Dark in the glass, it had a typical Dolcetto nose of dark stone fruit, plums and cherries.  The earth came through in both the nose and taste.  The taste was full bodied, soft and round, and full of fruit.  Young Dolcettos have a fresh edge to them and that was missing here.  There was a long, sweet finish to the wine.  It was probably at its best a year or two ago, but it was still highly delicious and enjoyable.  Nice play off between the earth in the wine and the earthiness of the mushrooms.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kinkead Ridge 2005 Cabernet Franc

Beautiful April day here yesterday, total sunshine, light breeze, and temperatures around the 60 degree mark.  This would have been a day to bottle and save for the misery that August usually brings.

Dinner was a prime porterhouse steak almost two inches thick cooked on the grill.  The steak was seasoned with anchovy paste and black pepper while coming to room temperature.  It was then tossed on the grill opposite the coals so that it mostly cooked over indirect heat.  When the steak was nearly done it was moved over the coals to char and crisp the outside while staying rare to medium rare in the inside.  Just delicious, and so much meat that there are leftovers for a couple of days.    There were some rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes to munch alongside the steak. 

For wine we opened a 2005 Kinkead Ridge Cabernet Franc.  Great, mature color in the glass and the nose smelled of ripe black cherries with a hint of dark chocolate.  There was also the sensation of rich, black soil with spring dampness to it.  The taste was loaded with those cherries, along with a few black raspberries, the hint of chocolate and that sensation of dark soil.  The acid was more than good and there was just enough tannin on the finish to clear the palate.  Since the steak wasn't overly smokey this wine was a perfect match.  I'm becoming a big fan of KR's reds when they are about three of four years out from the vintage.  The youthful exuberance is gone and replaced by a delicious maturity.  The current release of this wine is 2007, with the 2008 vintage due out in September. 

Just in case this wine gets any better with more age, there are two more in the cellar. 

About the picture.  It's been awhile since there was a flamingo on this site so I thought it time to include everything that is in the title, two dogs, a flamingo and a bottle of wine.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Les Trois Couronnes

Good, inexpensive wine ($10) last night.  The wine was a 2007 Les Trois Couronnes, a Cotes du Rhone.  The wine was a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah.  The nose was the strawberries from the Grenache and some red plums coming from the Syrah.  Medium weight in the mouth, the flavor was spot on with the fruit.  Add in some grape tannin and decent acid and for the price this was a more than acceptable wine.  Nothing profound here, just good wine.

Dinner was pastitsio, a Greek cousin of lasagna.  Ground beef and lamb was sauteed with onions, cinnamon, garlic, oregano, marjoram and a few other spices.  I added a can of tomatoes and some tomato paste and cooked the entire thing down.  It was mixed with cooked pasta, I used small tubeti.  The contents went into a casserole dish and was topped with a bechamel sauce loaded with cheese and Greek yogurt.  The casserole then spent almost an hour in the oven, until it was browned and bubbling. 

Good with the wine, and particularly the wine was good with the cinnamon that was in the meat mixture.  Oh, the name means The Three Crowns.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Red

Very interesting wine last evening, a 2008 Grignolino D'Asti from Giacosa Fratelli in the Piemonte area of Italy.

The first thing one noticed about this wine was the color, or rather the lack of it as witnessed by the picture above.  It's more of a dark rose' than anything else.  Definitely no coloration was added to this wine to appeal to those who like broodingly dark wines. 

The nose was a strange mixture of not quite ripe strawberries and rhubarb and little bit of earthy funk.  The taste was much the same, but this wine was blessed with a lot of grape tannin and a tremendous acidity.  That gave the wine an austere mouth feel that I found very appealing.  The wine tasted fresh and new, and in this case that was a very good thing.  The finish was dominated by the grape tannin and was longer than I expected.

There was a thick rib eye steak from the grill and russet potatoes cubes fried in duck fat for dinner and the acidity in this wine cut through the fat in each of those foods and the tannin in the wine cleared the palate for more.

At $15 a bottle and 12.5% alcohol there will be a couple more of these purchased for spring and summer.  This wine fits nicely for when a rose' is too light and a red is too heavy. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Taste of Spring

It was cool and damp for two days but spring returned yesterday afternoon and today promises to be even better.  The flowering crab apple tree in the yard where the squirrels tend to hang out is in full bloom, as witnessed by the photo above.

Last night there were four, large day boat scallops from the east coast.  They were dried, seasoned and then seared quickly on each side in some butter and olive oil.  When they were warmed through they were removed from the heat and some lemon juice and lemon zest added to the butter in the pan.  As soon as that reduced to a glaze it was poured over the scallops.  Simple and delicious.

It would be a hard choice for my favorite spring wine, Chablis or German Riesling. Last night we went with the Chablis, a 2007 Vincent Mothe.  There was citrus, apples, some crisp pear in the nose.  Full bodied, yet steely and full of minerals.  The fruit was well balanced by the other parts of this wine.  It finished crisp, refreshing and tasting of spring.  At $18 a bottle a true bargain.  There are two more in the cellar, and a couple bottles of Mothe's Grand Crus Bougros.  I'll wait a couple years on the grand crus, but I'm not sure the other two will last until summer.

All chardonnay should taste this good.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Near Perfect

There was a small piece of beef tenderloin that got converted into beef Strognoff for dinner on Monday so there was a need for a red wine.

The wine liberated from the cellar was a 2001 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Canoe Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from the Columbia Valley area of Washington.  Five years ago a wine store was closing and there were some tremendous prices on wines.  I purchased three bottles of this wine and this was the lone survivor of that purchase.

The nose was mature fruit, mostly dark cherries and a little cassis.  There was a touch of vanilla from the oak and that just added to the wonderful aroma coming out of the glass.  The taste was the darkest cherries, some more cassis and a hint of dark chocolate.  There was a faint bit of earth in the wine. 

There is an elegance that sets in when a well made wine matures and this wine had reached this stage.  There were still tannins, but they did not interfere with the fruit.  The acid was in perfect balance and it didn't interfere either.  All those parts came together and just made for an elegant and mature wine.  There was a long, sweet finish that just gradually faded.  I don't think this wine would ever be better than it was this night. 

It took all evening  but the wine in the bottle vanished.  Good memories remain of a superb wine.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Rose'

Nice wine with the Easter ham, yesterday.  The wine was the 2008  Bieler Pere et Fils, Sabine rose'.  The wine was 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, a somewhat unorthodox mix.  Very pale color but with a light, refreshing nose of strawberries and pomegranate. A good dose of acid lead to a taste of fresh fruit and citrus.  The wine finished completely dry.  The acid and light flavor cut through the fat on the ham and went well with some of the spicy mustard served along side.  The baked beans, potatoes, deviled eggs and other picnic foods matched up well with it also.  At $13 a bottle it's a good buy, but I'll be anxious to try other 2009 rose's as they hit the local market in the coming weeks.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Sunny here this morning, and quiet. That is good.

Wonderful and successful experiment yesterday.  The local market had fresh, white truffle butter on special and a three ounce container came home with me, along with a fresh, free range, organic  chicken.  The truffle butter (contents listed simply as butter and white truffles) was lathered between the skin and the meat on the chicken and a little was smeared in the cavity.  The bird was then roasted over indirect heat on the grill.  Both dogs and the down wind neighbors were in near ecstasy as the scent of truffle mixed with the light smoky aroma of the charcoal.  The neighbors came over to inquire into what was on the grill.

There was need for little else, but we did add some wide egg noodles tossed with olive oil, black pepper and a little more of the truffle butter, and a small salad.  At the end we drizzled some of the liquid from the drippings pan from under the chicken over the noodles and the carved chicken. Fantastic to smell, but much better to eat.

The wine was the remainder of the 2006 Fontodi Chianti Classico discussed below.  Two days had not diminished this wine.  It was still fruity and earthy, and that earthiness played wonderfully with the truffles.

With today being Easter there will be a large family gathering with the traditional ham.  That also means today is the first day of rose' season.  The market was displaying the first 2009 rose' from Provence yesterday so a couple bottles of that came home to drink with the ham.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fontodi Chianti Classico 2006

Things were much better today so the regular routine resumed.  There was a two course meal tonight.  To start there was a small piece of halibut and one remaining glass of a nondescript Riesling.

The main course was a small sirloin tip, pan seared and roasted to medium rare.  That was accompanied by a small polenta cake seared in a cast iron skillet and topped with fresh pesto.

Since we were back to drinking wine there was no excuse to not open something that promised to be very good.  The wine of choice was a 2006 Fontodi Chianti Classico.  I purchased three bottles of this wine last spring and decided it was time to open one.

Dark color in the glass and a refined nose of both tart red and black cherries, a little smoke, some dusty earth and a spice or two.  Swirling the glass intensified each of those aromas.  The taste was overwhelmingly cherry and earth and full bodied.  Nice legs in the glass.  The mouth feel on this wine was elegant and luscious, more like a Burgundy than typical Chianti.  Great fruit and oak tannins and a wonderful blast of acid added to the complexity.  The finish was long and sweet but the very end was dry.  It is hard to image that a Chianti Classico can get any better than this.  It's the equal to many 'riservas.'

The very best thing about this wine is that there are two more bottles in the cellar.  At the same time I purchased this wine I purchased three bottles of the Fontodi 2004 Riserva Chianti Classico.  If the regular bottling is this good the Riserva with two more years age on it should be amazing.  Soon, very soon.

The photo was outside and that is the first blooming jonquil of the spring in front of the bottle.