Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dolcetto and Some Italian Food

When all was said and done the wine of choice for Sunday's dinner was a 2006 Domenico Clerico Langhe Dolcetto, Visadi. The wine was almost black in the glass with its color extraction. The nose was very earthy with highlights of sweet dark fruit, some spicy oak and some pungent herbs thrown in for good measure. It was certainly a mouthful; heavy, dark fruit moderate acid, tons of both fruit and wood tannins. There was a sweetness to the fruit but then the tannins grabbed the side of the tongue and dried the fruity taste. Very long finish. This was a very big Dolcetto and probably not everyone's cup of tea, but I liked it a great deal. $20 and 14.5% alcohol.

There was a fat chicken that was roasted on the grill after having a compound butter of pulverized, dried porcini mushrooms, pine nuts and butter rubbed between the skin and the meat. It went on the grill over indirect heat for almost an hour with some hickory chips for added flavor.

The risotto combined the rice with the leaves from the rainbow chard and a large dollop of the roasted buttercup squash. It with finished with some Italian cheeses and wee bit of butter. The stems from the chard were sauteed separately and scattered around the edges of the risotto.

The smokiness of the chicken was a great match with the wine. It brought out a bit more fruit and the tannin in the wine certainly cleared the palate between bites of chicken.

There were two happy dogs as some of the chicken skin found its way into their dog food for the evening creating a nice breeze from the wagging tails.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Something Rotten

For some unknown reason there are issues with Blogger that prevents uploading any pictures.  The risotto and chicken discussed below were excellent, and so was the wine.  If and when Blogger resolves the problem we will post the photos.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Start of a Risotto

Like flipping a light switch from on to off, summer is not only over on the calendar it's also over in weather patterns.  Last week there were records set for high temperatures, into the upper 90 degree range.  The front came through as a gift from Canada early Saturday morning and today the high temperature is to be only 66 degrees. 

The fall squashes are in the market now and we brought home a good looking buttercup variety.  The rainbow chard has been cleaned and the squash is currently roasting.  Later this evening there will be a risotto using the squash and the stems and leaves from the chard.    There will be chicken roasted on the grill with a rub of butter, sage and porcini mushroom powder, and there will be an Italian red wine from Tuscany or Piedmont.  Decisions, decisions....

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Domaine du Fontenille 2007

We tried a bottle of this wine in the early spring and thought it was very good stuff.    Thursday night there was a repeat performance from the second of three bottles that were purchased.  A small steak, a few pan roasted potato slices, some garlic bread and a small salad were on the plate so out came the cork.

Once again, a medium bodied wine with a great aroma of fruit and earth.  The first bottle had a touch of brett, but this bottle was totally clean.  The taste was still a mix of strawberries and cherries in nicely balanced proportions.  Good acid and tannin and that dry earth feeling at then end made this a great friend to the steak.  At $16 the wine remains a true bargain.  14% alcohol.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Clos Du Val Merlot 2006

Even before the movie Sideways  did a cinematic hatchet job on California Merlot it had almost disappeared from my thoughts.  The wine had become a standard bearer along with Chardonnay for mass marketed, soulless, overblown wines. 

For some reason last weekend I decided to try the varietal again and a bottle of the 2006 Clos du Val Napa Valley Merlot made its way into the shopping cart.  The wine is only 77% Merlot, with 16% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7 % Cabernet Franc blended in for good measure. 

There was a rib steak fresh off the grill when the cork came out of the wine.  Dark fruit, maybe a red plum or two, and soft oak aromas were in the nose.  The color was more medium and not inky black.  The taste was a nice play between some cassis and some red cherries with some warm spice and a little bit of earth mixed in for good measure.  Very good acid in this red wine and some soft tannin to give it a little structure.  Nice mouth feel, since it wasn't heavy or overbearing.  There was some good length to the finish.  It was a more than acceptable match for the steak as it was almost refreshing to take a sip of the wine after a bite of the meat.  The higher than expected acid was a big plus here.

We stoppered the bottle and put half away for two day.  There was a small veal, loin roast that was pan seared, then finished in the oven.  The veal was sauced with a mushroom broth, stock, mustard, Worcestershire sauce with a few other ingredients thrown in to the mix.    The Clos du Val had lost any sharp edges it had and had settled down to a mellow, flavorful, balanced friend to the veal.

This wine won't blow anyone away but for $19 it's a more than acceptable table wine with some character to it.  It doesn't taste like California Merlot.  13.5% alcohol.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lemelson 2008 Riesling

Very hectic time last week with a too busy work schedule and a somewhat ailing  dog that left little time for food or wine. The week finally ended with some Chinese take out and a bottle of Lemelson 2008 Riesling from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  

The local distributor for Lemelson held a tasting at the local market with a number of their wines, a tasting I was unable to attend.  There were a few wines left over and since my past experience with the wines from this producer was very positive I bought the last two bottles of the Riesling, along with a few Pinot Noirs and one Chardonnay. 

The Chinese food was good but the wine was very good.  The best way to describe it is to call it a cross between Australia and Alsace.  Dry, limey and hint of kerosene like Australian Rieslings but with a depth and finish more like an Alsatian wine.  Lots of fresh citrus in the taste with a hint yeast coming through.  Good viscosity and mouth feel, wonderful acid and dry mineral finish made it the perfect foil for some lemongrass chicken stir fry from the local take out.

Good stuff and a fair price at $20.  13% alcohol.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

La Vigna White 2008

There's another semi-local Ohio winery making some very good wine the last two years, La Vigna. 

They currently make two wines, a Proprietary Red and a Proprietary White.  Sunday evening we opened the 2008 vintage of the Proprietary White to go with a Thai shrimp stir fry.  The shrimp dish was spicy with Sambal Oelek, lemon grass, ginger, garlic, bird chilies and fish sauce.  There was also some fresh pineapple in the dish.  The whole thing was wonderfully hot and refreshing and served over rice noodles.

The wine was very good with this dish.  It may be called Proprietary White, but it is 100% Petit Manseng and it was finished with some residual sugar.  Pineapple, melon, citrus were foremost in the nose, but after several sniffs and swirls and a dash to the spice cabinet I decided there was a suggestion of saffron in this wine.  It wasn't overwhelming, but there was that dry, slightly musky saffron aroma.  Full flavor of pineapple and sweet melon and a good dose of acid made for a nice compliment to the shrimp.  The residual sugar helped dispel the heat from the double dose of chilies.   A very interesting wine.  Also interesting that when I tasted the 2009 version this past May it was made in a much drier style.  13.9% alcohol and $20. 


Sunday, September 12, 2010

2005 Ladoix

There was a fat hen roasted on the grill Saturday.  Garlic, lemon zest and juice, fresh ginger juice, dried mushroom powder and butter were combined and rubbed between the skin and the flesh before it roasted from the indirect heat of eucalyptus charcoal.  Seductive aromas in the air drew questions and hungry looks from the neighbors.

The wine was a 2005 Jean-Luc Dubois, Ladoix, La Combe.  Cherry fruit, damp earth and a little spice on the nose.  Medium color.  Medium body and a taste of both fresh and dried fruit, damp earth, a little mushroom.  Long, pleasant finish that ended with acid and enough tannin to clear the mouth.  Nicely balanced.  Very good for a moderately priced Burgundy from a very good vintage and an excellent match with the chicken. 

This was the second bottle for me of this wine.  You can read about the first one here.

13% alcohol and $24.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sandrone Nebbiolo D'Alba

Pure pleasure from a bottle of 2004 Luciano Sandrone Nebbiolo D'Alba, Valmiggiore.  Flowers, tar and warm earth in the nose.  Bright, sharp, cherry fruit with bits of wood, vanilla and a tiny bit of road tar in the taste.  Full bodied and full flavored.  Old enough to have some elegance, young enough to show some zest.  Wonderful acid, long finish. Just plain, flat out delicious.  

The rib steak with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice was inviting, tasty and a good match, but make no bones about it, the wine was the star here.  14% alcohol and $32 several years ago.    One more in the cellar.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Riesling and Salmon

No surprise, Napa Valley is not really a great area for Riesling, but there are exceptions.  Trefethen is one of them, and I've been drinking their Riesling for a long, long time.  It's been awhile since I last saw this wine in the local market place.  The market had one bottle that someone had ordered a month ago and failed to pick up.  I offered to adopt it and it was like bringing home an old friend. 

Pale color in the glass the wine had a nose of white peach, nectarine and lychee.   One had to reach to get citrus out of this wine.  Medium body, good weight in the mouth and a bit of honeysuckle on the finish.  The acid was correct and everything together made for a nice bottle of wine.

There was a salmon fillet that was marinated in an Asian inspired sauce that included soy sauce, mirin, ginger and garlic.  The fillet went on the grill while some green beans were stir fried with a Thai chili sauce and some rice noodles were stir fried with ginger and garlic.  The results are below.

The wine was a perfect foil for the strong flavorings on the food.  The honeysuckle finish helped dispel the heat and the acid made one want another drink and another bite. 

For the record, there are three other Napa Rieslings that I have found to be pretty good; Stony Hill, Smith Madrone and Stags' Leap Wine Cellars.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mazzocco Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

To end a near perfect day yesterday we threw two, thick cut, loin lamb chops on the grill after dusting them with fresh thyme, garlic and rosemary and lightly brushing them with Dijon mustard.

The wine for the evening was a Mazzocco, Dry Creek Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2002 vintage.  Medium color in the glass and medium to heavy on the tongue the wine was full of cherries and currants, some vanilla and spice, a touch of sage, just a bit of black pepper and a little dry earth.  This was a very well balanced wine that just kept enticing you to take another sip.  There was actually some under statement to this wine and that was most appealing. 

It was near perfect with the lamb, but a revised side dish made for a tremendous experience with this wine.  There was a large handful of potato gnocchi in the freezer.  Normally we serve these with a brown butter and fresh sage sauce.  However, there was a new item from the market on hand, a mint and pistachio pesto.  We cooked the gnocchi and lightly tossed them with some of the pesto.  While the mint and the pistachios added a unique taste to the gnocchi it was the next sip of wine that proved amazing.  The mint in the pesto added a zing to the wine giving it a resemblance to the zestiness of a Heitz Martha's Vineyard Cabernet.  The wine picked up on the mint and and the nuts and just wrapped itself around those flavors.  They were remarkable together. Mental note to self:  try this with some other California Cabernets.

14.3% alcohol, 2560 cases produced, gift.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

2008 Kinkead Ridge Reds

When the Ohio weather gods get things right the results can be magnificent, and today was as near perfect as it gets.  That statement applies not only to today's weather, but the 2008 weather that produced the grapes that went into the four wines pictured above.  As a group, they are the best wines yet from Kinkead Ridge.

Today was the release day for the four wines at the winery and the high 60 degree temperature range, brilliant blue skies and wonderful north wind made the drive more than pleasant.  All four wines were being poured and we drank a sample of each. 

The Cabernet Franc is the best yet from this winery.  Bright, tart, red cherries in the nose and a clear red in the glass.  This is a medium weight, highly flavored wine with great acid, ample tannin and a wonderful refreshing quality.  There's just enough spice and oak to wake up your mouth.  This is also the wine that is closest to being ready to drink and the one that will be hardest to hold onto for that reason.    15% alcohol, $18.95, 388 cases produced.

Next up was the 2008 Syrah.  Darker color than the Cab Franc and a much different nose.  Dark fruit and just a subtle hint of the raw meat aroma I love in a Syrah.  The fruit was a medium dark plum and some dark cherries thrown in for good measure.  I got a touch of cinnamon as well as vanilla in this wine.  There was a little more weight than the Cab Franc, but still I would describe the weight as medium.  Nice finish with acid and tannin to clear the palate.  I will age some of this wine.  Good effort from what has been my least favorite red from this winery.  15.2% alcohol, $19.95, and 194 cases produced.

Next in line was the Cabernet Sauvignon.  What a mouthful this wine was and of all four wines this is the one that needs the most time to show its promise.  Dark cherries and some red currants in the nose led into a huge mouth feel of those same fruits.  Soft oak flavors added some complexity along with some sharp acid.  This was a more in your face wine and had much more body and substance, but the bottom line for me is that this wine is going to be elegant in about two years.  Everything this wine needs is there, but it's not ready.  When the parts do come together it will be wonderful.  I loved the 2007 vintage of this wine, and I very much liked the 2005 and 2004 vintages.  This wine is better.  15% alcohol, $19.95 and 364 cases produced.

At the end there was the Petit Verdot.  While I'm not trying to be like Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine Library TV in New Jersey my first impression of this wine was that someone took a handful of freshly picked, wonderfully ripe blackberries (brambles) and smashed them in my face.  What a unique and unmistakable nose and it totally immersed my nose in that fruit.  Those blackberries were there in the taste as well, and they brought some totally ripe blueberries along for the ride.  The wine virtually coated the tongue with flavor, but there was also correct acid and enough tannin to support that fruit.  This is a high alcohol level wine that manages to keep a fresh and light approach.  All I could think about was a year's bottle age and some venison medallions with a blackberry sauce.  Of all the KR reds I've had over the course of the last several years, this one is the best.  15.1% alcohol, 76 cases and $19.95.

What makes all this most wonderful is that these wines are local, and this is not an area previously known for outstanding red wines.  Given a talented and dedicated group at the winery that statement has definitely been put to rest. 

If one adds in the 2008 La Vigna Proprietary Red from this same neighborhood that was released this past spring 2008 will always be remembered in this area.  And if you're reading this and live in this area you need to find some of these wines.