Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kinkead Ridge, New Releases

One of the best parts of late May is the annual release of wines by wineries in southwest Ohio. Yesterday was no exception as a number of them released their wines, and among the group was Kinkead Ridge with the release of their white wines from 2010. There wasn't much of it but it was worth the drive to Ripley OH to pick up a case, especially considering that the 2009 vintage was so poor that most of the whites were on the second label and there was no Riesling at all.

Revelation is a blend of the estate's white varieties, including sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and other white varieties. To my palate there seemed to be more sauvignon blanc in the mix this vintage since I got a greater then usual impression of herbs and fresh cut grass in the glass. The wine was citrusy and had a mineral quality similar to a French white from the Savoie. The wine had an austere and crisp quality to it that I liked. 14.8% alcohol and $13.95. 67 cases produced.

The Kinkead Riesling is usually my favorite white from this winery, but not this year. The wine was very reserved and not forthcoming with much in the nose. After some swirling there was a floral bouquet that began to peek out. Light and crisp on the tongue the apple tastes were dominant but balanced by a little residual sugar, 1.2%. I liked the wine, but this year it wasn't my favorite. Considering it has only been in the bottle for only a week or so I will put mine away for six months and try it again this autumn. 11.8% alcohol and $11.95. 82 cases produced.

The Viognier / Rousanne was distinctly different this vintage and was far and away my favorite. The last several vintages this wine were predominantly Viognier but in this vintage it was predominantly Rousanne. There was much more of a white peach and pear element to the wine and less of the orange and citrus quality. The oily viscosity was still there - this is a wine that coats the mouth. That unctuousness was balanced with great acidity and this wine had by far the longest finish of any of the white wines. For me this is the best vintage ever for this wine and maybe the best white ever from Kinkead. I liked the way it tasted and I loved the mouth feel and refreshing finish. Time will tell. 15.1% alcohol and $15.95. 124 cases produced.

By way of comparison, the 2010 vintage is 42% Viognier, the 2009 was 79% Viognier and the 2008 was 57% Viognier, with the balance being Rousanne. Those figures probably explain the difference with past vintages. Come fall it may be time for a vertical tasting on this wine since I have five vintages in the cellar.

There was one more wine released, this one under the second label - River Village Cellars. The wine was a 2010 Traminette, a Gewurztraminer cross. This wine was finished at 2.6% residual sugar. It wasn't my cup of tea but it is no doubt a wine that sells well in the Ohio market, and profit keeps the wineries in business.

The bad news - for those of you looking for these wines they are only available at the winery this vintage since there was so little produced.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lobsterfest 2011

After a cool, almost cold start to the day on Saturday the evening turned warm and sunny.

We picked the fifteen lobsters up at 9:00 AM and took them to meet their final reward in an improvised steamer that usually serves as something for brewing beer.  That's it to the left in the picture.  By 11:00 AM they were steamed and plunged into ice water to stop the cooking.  The results are pictured below.

Around 4:00 PM we returned to the scene of the crime  and basically vivisected the critters into tails and claws.  We cracked the claws and the bodies around the tail and fifteen minutes before the crowd was ready to eat we threw the pieces onto the grill and reheated them with just a tiny bit of smoke.  To see that picture just click on the page break.

There was lots of wine and a ton of side dishes, pasta with cheese sauce, corn pudding, shrimp cocktail, baked potatoes, small salads, apple pie and raspberry tart.

The wines ranged from good, to great, capped off by a pair of 2006 Chablis, a William Fevre Grand Cru Les Clos and Vincent Mothe Premier Cru Fourchaume.  Will get those notes up in a day or so.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jigsaw Puzzle?

No, not a jigsaw puzzle. Just a box of tonight's dinner fresh off the plane from Maine and waiting to become the main course.  Lots of lobsters and just as much good wine this evening.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dolcetto D'Alba

The skies have finally cleared and today was only the fifth day this month that it hasn't rained here, including the small tornado that passed overhead a couple of days ago.  When the warning sirens went off we grabbed a bottle of White Horse Scottish whisky, a glass, and several rawhide chew sticks.  We took the dogs to the interior bathroom away from any room with a window and waited out the few minutes while the storm passed. 

For the year we have already surpassed our average, annual rainfall.  Thank heaven for a good roof and a wine cellar.

Dinner tonight was an embarrassingly large porterhouse steak done simply on the grill and finished with just a touch of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.   Rather than Tuscany we opted for Piemonte and pulled the cork on a 2009 Montaribaldi Dolcetto D'Alba Vagnona.  Deep, dark color in the glass, the wine just reeked of fruit and earth.  Full flavored with ripe, dark cherries and plums, the wine was a little weak in acid, but there was a great, earthy tannin that more than made up for that.  Good depth to the flavor and a good length to the finish.  A sip of wine, then a bite of steak with the lemon juice and it was repeat and repeat.  Just a nice match. 

14% alcohol and $14.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


a gin tonic afterwards


One of the most most depressing parts of the winter is the lack of fresh herbs from the garden.  They are available from the market in small and very expensive packages, but that will never be the same as going out to the garden and getting totally fresh ones.

A number of them are blooming now so there is that spring freshness to food that just elevates it in a way that can't be duplicated in winter.  Subtle differences I know, but they are distinct and important.

Pictured below (in order) are the blooming sage, a small clump of chives and a Zinfandel oxalis, a type of wood sorrel.  The small yellow flowers on the oxalis are very good sprinkled over a salad of fresh lettuces.

For a larger version of the photos simply click on them.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chablis and Salmon

Personal rule breaking time the other day.

There was a great fillet of wild, Alaskan troll caught king salmon for dinner, and usually I look for a pinot noir with this fish. This time I opted for a 2009 Louis Jadot Chablis.  Instead of a rich wine with rich fish we took the option of going austere.

The wine was the palest of yellow in the glass and the nose was sharp with lemon pith, but the primary aromas were rain on dry rocks, seashells at the shore and a few herbs.  The wine was very closed at the beginning and lots of swirling was needed to release those aromas. 

The taste was quit tart with the hints of lemon and citrus but with the mineral tastes predominating.  As the meal wore on the wine showed more fruit and finally opened up to lemon and apple tastes to balance out the taste of minerals.  The finish was very long and left the mouth totally refreshed. 

What a great contrast to the salmon which was dusted with salt, pepper, and a wee bit of chipotle powder.  It was pan seared in a hot skillet skin side down, flipped over and finished in the the oven.  There was a bed of just wilted spinach under the salmon.  Rich tasting fish with all that wonderful salmon oil was cut clean by the tartness in the wine.

Time to add a few more bottles of 2009 Chablis to the cellar and then show some patience and allow them to age a couple of years. 

12.5% alcohol and $19.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kinkead Ridge Petit Verdot

The weather has gone from wonderful to crappy again, but just as it was turning over the weekend we managed to grill a thick rib-eye steak.  This time the seasoning was minimal, just some sea salt and pepper applied about two hours before the steak hit the heat. 

In a couple of weeks there will be some new releases from Kinkead Ridge so it was time to make some room in that part of the cellar.  I opted for the heavy weight part of the crew or the biggest puppy in the litter.  In this case it was the 2008 Petit Verdot.  Still inky dark purple in the glass the wine is nearly black.  Lots of sweet, jam like fruit in the nose with blackberries dominating some darker plum aromas.  There nothing shy about this wine, it's intense and almost brooding with its full flavors of those dark fruits.  Despite all the heavy fruit there was still a bit of vegetable flavors just before the finish that was really appreciated.  The tannins are starting to settle but are still strong and there is just enough acid to carry everything along.  There was a sweet and warm after taste to the wine that was perfect for a day that got colder as it went along.  Definitely not a summer weight red so the remaining bottles will have to wait until fall. 

15.1% alcohol and $19.  76 cases produced.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Giggles and Wiggles

Definitely a summer day here yesterday with temperatures being a very unseasonable 90 degrees. It was time to drink in summer mode so we combined two of my favorite wine types, rose' and sparkling.

The wine is new to the local market and is a Weingut Huber Hugo Rose' Sparkling (as opposed to a sparking rose') from Austria. It is 100% pinot noir. Bright, electric pink in the glass the nose was totally strawberries and raspberries. Light and racy on the tongue the wine just burst with those red fruit flavors and even a little banana and cardamon. Wonderful acidity, great bubbles, and a deliciously dry finish all combined for a wine that can't help but make one smile and giggle, and if one were a dog one's entire rear end would be wiggling with delight. This wine is simply fun to drink, like a refreshing strawberry soda. It was very good with a shrimp risotto with spring herbs mixed in, and it was just as good and as much fun after dinner.

11.5% alcohol and $13. This is not a vintage dated wine.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Naveran Cava 2007

Interesting wine on sale yesterday so it made an easy decision about what to serve with dinner.  The wine was a 2007 Naveran Cava, a brut Spanish sparkling wine.  My complaint with myself is that I don't drink enough sparkling wines, even though I very much like a lot of them, so this assuaged my guilt somewhat.

The wine is a blend of 50% Xarello, 30% Macabeo and 20% Parellada, three grapes with which I am totally unfamiliar.  The grapes are native to to Catalan region of Spain.  There were some very nice bubbles in the wine and it had a sharp citrusy nose.  There was a tiny hint of yeast, but nothing like the bread dough aromas in Champagne.  The taste was sharp and tart and very citrusy with lemon, lime and grapefruit tastes all blending together.  With those tastes there's no need to talk about the acid in the wine - it was more than there.  The wine was finished as a brut, but there was still just a touch of sweetness at the very end that balanced out the tartness.

Dinner was yakatori with a variation as an experiment.  The original recipe called for chicken thighs, chicken livers and chicken gizzards.  We did that, but we also made a seafood variant using some wild shrimp and some diver scallops.  The shrimp were good but the scallops were exceptional after being marinated in yakatori sauce and grilled on skewers with the shrimp.

The meal actually preceded the wine in the planning stage.  I had intended to drink an Austrian Riesling with this meal,  but the Cava jumped out at me while picking up a few things at the market.  In the end it turned out to be a good pairing, especially with that tiny bit of sweetness a the end of the wine. 

11.5% alcohol and $13.  A bargain for an inexpensive sparkling wine.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Grilling Season

Finally the clouds seem to have parted for a few days and the local flooding has moved downstream and the flowers are drying out and blooming. That makes it officially outdoor cooking season. 

We started with a free range chicken on the grill.  We brined it for a couple of hours, tucked some fresh sage leaves between the skin and the meat and threw it on the grill over indirect heat.  We added a few oak chips for a smoky taste and let it cook for an hour.  The photo below was taken just prior to removing it from the grill.

There was steamed rice with fresh herbs and a small salad to help the bird along.

We popped open another bottle of the M Chapoutier Cotes du Rhone Rouge and it married perfectly with the smokiness of the chicken.  The most interesting thing about the wine was that I purchased four bottles assuming they were all from the 2008 vintage.  As it turned out there were two from 2008 and two from 2009.  By luck of the draw the 2008's are now consumed and I will move on to the 2009 vintage.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Roda I Reserva 2001

A couple of weeks ago we opened a 1996 Roda I Reserva and truly loved the wine. You can read about that wine here.

Since that time my mind has been preoccupied with wondering about the 2001 version of this wine that was resting in the cellar.  Curiosity got the best of me and I opened one of the two bottles from that vintage.  I was more than impressed, I was overwhelmed.

We decanted the wine for half an hour.  The nose was still closed at that time but after a few more minutes and some serious swirling we got wonderfully ripe red and black fruit, dry dusty earth, herbs, some spice and some wonderful meaty aromas.  The first sip was remarkable.  It was full of tart, sweet cherries, blackberries, licorice, warm earthy spices and a distinct minerality.  Very full bodied wine but balanced by acidity and prominent tannin that wrapped around the tongue.  It might have been easier to check the length of the finish with an hourglass rather than a watch.

There were rib eye steaks from the grill, coated with a mixture of salt, pepper, pimenton, ancho chili powder, and a tiny bit of sugar.  Full flavored and rich, and a perfect foil for the wine.  There was nothing shy about either of them and the crust on the steak was more than delicious with the wine.   

The 2001 was definitely a younger wine, and it tasted that way.  It was much more full of itself and more forward.  The 1996 was elegant and very feminine.  The 2001 was more athletic - bigger muscles with  better tone and more definition in its framework.  It will be fun to see where this vintage goes over the next several years.

Impossible to choose a favorite between the two, and I certainly wouldn't want to choose anything other than more of each.  Both were wonderful bottles of wine.

Now, if I close my eyes I can here my lone bottle of the 2004 Roda 1 calling softly from the cellar.  But that wine will have to wait a few years.

$70 and 14.5% alcohol.

A personal note:  I finally made the decision that  it is time to stop working and start spending more time doing other things, like drinking wine and traveling.  May and June will henceforth be known as the months of drinking wonderful wines as I lead up to and then move beyond the May 27 retirement date. We'll go back to cheaper wines after that.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Jocelyn Lonen 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

In between showers last night we managed to get the grill going and toss on a small rib eye steak until it was medium rare. We threw on some slices of polenta for the last couple of minutes, and even added some fresh pineapple slices that were saved for dessert.

The wine of the night was a 2005 Jocelyn Lonen Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark colors in the glass and some swirling revealed cassis, black cherries, cinnamon, vanilla, and a few scattered herbs. Full flavored wine that stopped short of going to extremes. Great taste of cassis and cherry and a nice balance with oak and acid. A big wine that needs big flavors, but certainly not over the top. Nice long finish that hit all the right spots with the last little bit being a sweet fruit taste. East to drink, but still some life ahead of it

The wine is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with some Cabernet Franc in the blend. Good wine.

14.9% alcohol and $36.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Riesling and Thai Food

There was a delicious dinner and a wonderful wine this evening.  The wine was a 2009 Weingut St.Urbans-Hof Bockstein Kabinett from the Mosel region.  Great nose of crisp apple, white peach and lychee with some underlying lime zest.  There was no hint of kerosene in this wine.  The taste was those same fruits with such wonderful acidity that it was hard to notice the sweet underpinnings of the wine.  Incredibly balanced and refreshing with every sip and a finish that seemed to go on forever.

The dinner was Thai inspired cod.  I had intended to do fresh halibut, but the $30 a pound price tag made me look long and hard at some very fresh Alaskan cod at $11 a pound sitting in the same case.  We opted for the cod. 

Some shallots were sauteed in some vegetable oil in an enamel skillet.  Just as they were cooked through we added some Thai red curry paste.  Once that became fragrant we added chicken stock and coconut milk.  That was allowed to gently simmer and reduce by half.  At that point we added the fish, lowered the heat, covered the pan and let the fish gently poach in the liquid.  When the fish was done we placed it atop a large serving of steamed rice and added some lime juice, lime zest, cilantro and sliced spring onions to the sauce left in the pan.  The sauce was ladled over the fish in good quantity.
This was a wonderful combination with the wine.  The acid in the wine cut through the richness of the coconut milk and fish and the sweetness in the wine totally balanced out the heat from the curry paste.  It's hard to imagine changing much about this recipe.  The only unusual thing was that we each grabbed a hunk of bread to soak up the remaining broth on the plate.

8% alcohol,  $19, and most importantly two more in the cellar.