Sunday, July 31, 2011


What can one say?  It's a wine called Gertrude and it features a pink piggy-bank on the label.  Once in awhile things are so bizarre they warrant a try. 

Officially the wine is la Maia Lina Gertrude Rosso Toscana 2008.  The wine is a blend of 45% Sangiovese, 25% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon which I guess makes it a "super Tuscan."  Deep colored wine with a nose of blueberries, dried cherries, earth and meat.  Medium body but full flavor with the fruit predominating.  It really does taste like blueberries. A good hint of wood tannin and a dry finish actually made for a pleasant wine with a grilled pork chop and a little bit of fresh pasta with good olive oil, cheese and chopped fresh tomatoes and basil.

13.5% alcohol and $13. 


Nothing like something a little "off the wall" to grab my eye in a wine store. That was the case with this wine, a 2009 Vinum Cellars Chenin/Vio, a mixture of 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Viognier.  A modest price meant it had to come home for a test drive.

Dinner was fresh blue cod encased in panko crumbs and served with a spicy Louisiana style Remoulade sauce with a touch of curry in it.  Interesting play of flavors between the sweet,  mild fish and the slight bite of the sauce.  It turned out to be a nice pairing with the wine as well.

Straw color in the glass and an unmistakable nose of Chenin Blanc, honeysuckle blossoms, peaches and pear skin.  Medium body wine with a great mouth feel to it that certainly brought out the Viognier.  Flavors of under ripe peaches, grapefruit, pears, and a touch of cloves.  Tremendous acidity to the wine and it ended with a great, refreshing flavors of citrus.  It worked wonderfully with the curry flavors in the sauce. 

Remarkably it also worked well with the appetizer for the evening, a fresh steamed artichoke with a lemon butter dipping sauce.

80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Viognier, 13.5% alcohol and $13.  Good wine at that price.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

2005 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot

Out shopping yesterday and came across a sale on the 2005 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend from the Margaret River area of western Australia.  Dinner was a small rib eye steak from the grill with fresh white corn and a salad.  While the steak was grilling we opened the wine.

Nice aroma that was a great balance between dark fruits and wood tannin.  Very fruit forward wine with a taste of black cherries, a little cassis, some dark plums and a hint of mint.  Medium body weight and mouth feel.  Wonderful fruit, wood tannin and acid balance.  Good length to the finish that ended with a mature, but not old, flavor of a well made wine.  Easily drinkable with food in that even though it was flavorful it wasn't overpowering.  Very good wine for the sale price.

70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot.  14% alcohol and on sale $11.

Monday, July 25, 2011


A chewy crust, tomato sauce, provolone cheese, fresh picked red and yellow tomatoes, sliced pepperoni,  fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil - and a beer.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Frog's Leap Sauvignon Blanc

The New York Times featured a tasting report on California Sauvignon Blancs this past week.  A long time ago I was a big fan of those wines but I have to agree with the Times when it argued that a number of them appear to be produced these days so that wineries will have a white to pour in the tasting room.  They are the redheaded step children of Napa Valley. 

One of the wines they recommended was a Sauvignon Blanc that I have always liked, the one from Frog's Leap from the Rutherford AVA in Napa Valley.  In this case it was the 2008 vintage.  Light, green gold in the glass the aroma is bright, grassy and citrusy.  Medium weight in the mouth the wine was tart and refreshing and tasted young and fresh.  There seemed to be a bit of tarragon in the flavor of this wine and there was a fair bit of grapefruit on the finish.  Very nice wine.

Dinner was several sizes of shrimp marinated briefly tossed on the grill.  The head on shrimp were small but delicious and the big boys in the middle of the below photo had great texture.  A great match with the wine.

12.5% alcohol and $22.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gruner Veltliner

Shrimp, zucchini, snap peas, shallots, and red and yellow peppers all in a hot and sour sauce.  The wine was a 2009 Leth Gruner Veltliner, Steinagrund Lagenreserve from Austria.  Flowery, but reserved nose, pale color in the glass.  Intensely fruity at the front with ripe green grapes, melon and lime.  Tremendous acid in the mid palate that dried out the sweetness in the wine.  Long, lengthy and sharp and tart finish that ended with some herbaceousness.  Very nice wine with the richness and heat of the shrimp.

Good wine.  $16 and 12.5% alcohol. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rose' of Merlot

Beautiful evening yesterday, clear, bright, and cool for July.  I lit the grill and tossed on a rib-eye steak about an inch and a half thick.  There was fresh corn, and some just picked salad greens tossed with an orange marmalade and lemon juice vinaigrette. 

The wine of choice was the second bottle of Michel-Schlumberger rose' of Merlot, Le Flirt, pictured above with an echinacea flower. Lots of strawberries and cherries in both the nose and the taste, great acidity, and very little residual sugar.    Dry and enticing and just plain fun to drink, and it went well with all the food.

$16 and 13.2% alcohol

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Long Trip?

Thanks to the two resident canines being highly incensed by the hissing sound of the balloon I managed this picture a couple of evenings ago.  It would be quite a long trip and quite a feat to reach that destination, but it does make a decent photograph.

It was also a long trip for last night's wine, a 2007 Michel Schlumberger Dry Creek Valley Chardonnay.  I had enjoyed this wine on its release a little more than a year ago and jumped at the chance to get four more bottles for a decent price during a closeout at the winery.

Unfortunately it was a long trip from California and the wine wasn't up to the task.  Yellow in the glass, a nose of butterscotch and an old and tired taste.  It's seen better days.

$15 and 14% alcohol

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chianti Classico

A break in the weather meant it was time to get in a serious red wine.  The Querciabella Chianti Classico certainly qualifies as a serious wine. 

There was a flank steak done on the grill after marinating in olive oil, rosemary, garlic, and anchovies for about twelve hours.  We added some fresh corn and a salad to complete the meal.

I opened the wine about an hour before dinner was ready and it was very closed.  Not too much coming out of the nose and a dry, earthy taste with little fruit.  I decanted the bottle and went ahead with cooking dinner.  When dinner was ready so was the wine.  Dark and sour cherries on the nose, with a good dose of earthiness.  Great fruit in the taste along with acid and tannin.  There was a smoky quality to the wine that I liked very much.  Smooth and mellow on the finish and bone dry at the very end.  It was virtually perfect with the food.   There's still some life ahead for this wine and I'll wait a couple of years for my last bottle.

$28 and 13.5% alcohol.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bottle Age

I was prowling around in the far reaches of the cellar when I discovered a forgotten wine, a  2008 Domaine Guindon Gamay Coteaux d'Ancenis VDQS Rosé, a Loire valley rosé.  No doubt that it was purchased last year and quickly forgotten. 

Dinner was left over salmon and a wild rice dish with peaches and avocado.  We put a chill on the wine and opened it.  Nice color, very fruity aroma, and a great taste of strawberries, a bit of cherry and maybe some rhubarb.  Good acid and a bone dry finish.

Good, tasty wine that doesn't require thought, it just requires a glass.

12% alcohol and $10.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pinot and Salmon

Sunday was a a delicious day and there was a good sized group to celebrated Independence Day that evening. The entree was a nearly seven pound wild Coho salmon fresh from Alaska.   Appetizers and side dishes were way to numerous to mention but it was definitely a Pinot Noir night. 

Two of the better ones that evening were both 2008 pinot noirs from Oregon's Willamette Valley, a Penner Ashe and a Chehalem Three Vineyard. 

Both were full and rich but no where near being overbearing.  The Chehalem came in at 13.1% alcohol and Penner Ashe at 13.4%.  The Chehalem was a little less intense.  Full fruit flavors with woodsy aromas.  Ripe, lush, good acid and great balance.  Wonderful mouth feel and the acid was great at cutting through the richness of the salmon.  $30 and a good buy at that price.

The Penner Ashe was a little bigger and fuller wine with darker flavors and a little more wood to it.  Another year or two in the bottle would be great for this wine.  Still, it did nothing to tarnish the food.

Very nice Frank Family  2008 Napa Valley chardonnay before dinner.  Lime, white peach, and a little melon.  Good acidity.  Nice with some of the appetizers.

Being July 4 eve, there was about a 30 minute fireworks display afterwards.  It was like a competition in this neighborhood to see who get the loudest and highest.  I would have hated to have been trying to land a plane on this evening. 

Sadly, I remembered all the food items that I was bringing, but left the camera at home so I was forced into using the camera in the phone.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Delicious Riseling

A superb wine with some spicy Chinese food this evening, a 2009 Alfred Merkelbach Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese from the Mosel.  Bright and cheery aromas of white peach, citrus and crisp melon.  Beautifully clear in the glass.  The taste was magnificent with apple, lime, white peach and a minerality that gave it's own distinct edge.  Wonderful sweetness that was in perfect balance with excellent acidity.  A long, slow finish of sweet apple and a final burst of acid at the very end. 

The food was a chicken breast that was was pan seared and roasted.  While the chicken breast roasted we tossed  some shallots into the pan, along with diced red bell pepper, both snow peas and sugar snap peas, and a chopped up zucchini fresh from the garden.  All of that was stir fried until beginning to color.  The chicken breasts went back into the pan and a hot and sour sauce with about ten ingredients went in with it.  The vegetables were coated and so was the chicken. 

There was a fair amount of heat to the dish but the sweetness in the wine mellowed the fire.  The crispness of the wine refreshed the palate for the next bite of food.  To be perfectly honest the chicken was almost redundant.  The vegetables turned out to be the star. 

Good meal and an excellent wine.  9% alcohol and $21.  There are two more bottles in the cellar. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Fare

The latest cool spell appears to be over and the weather is turning hot and humid again, just in time for the heart of summer.  My meals tend to get lighter and my wines tend to get whiter in the summer heat.  Last night we got a jump on the conditions with some pan seared swordfish.

The fish sat in a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, rosemary, lemon thyme and red pepper flakes for about 30 minutes.  The fish went into a hot skillet for two minutes on each side and then was tossed in a 400 degree oven for an additional five minutes.  The results, with a sliced tomato and some basil, is pictured above.

The wine was a Con Classe Ruedo 2008 from Spain.  Tart, sharp, flavorful, dry and perfect for cutting through the richness of the swordfish.  There is good depth of flavor, a wonderful mouth feel, and a bracing finish.  We put a chill on the wine but even when it warmed up in the bottle the refreshing quality remained. 

$9 and 12.5% alcohol.