Thursday, October 27, 2011

Summer's Over

Warm, sunny and a pure delight yesterday, but last night the damp, wet, cold front came through overnight and it is now gray, dingy and drizzly here.  There may be a day or two of Indian Summer yet to come, but for all practical purposes we're close to November, my least favorite month of the year.

We fired up the grill and sacrificed a large rib-eye steak to the grilling gods as a thank you for the summer past.  The wine was a 2006 Mazzocco Maple Vineyard Reserve Zinfandel from California's Dry Creek Valley.  Almost black in the glass, the wine was virtually opaque.  Warm blackberry and dark cherry jam in the nose and those same flavors were there in the taste.  Pure taste of those fruit with some prickly tannins mixed in.  The mouth feel was intense and the flavors just lasted forever.  A well made wine and quite tasty, but it was a bit big for my taste. 

We sipped one glass with the steak and then poured a second glass to go with a chunk of Rogue River Creamery blue cheese from Oregon.  The wine was big enough to be called a near-port and one taste with the blue cheese brought all that home.  Great stuff with the cheese.

15.8% alcohol.  No price since the wine was a gift.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


There was a grand opening for a new market in this area, Earth Fare.  Since I was in the neighborhood on an errand there was no need not to stop in and see what it was like.  Nice store, and definitely a competitor to Whole Foods.  One of their opening day specials was packages of two, medium lobster tails, and a package came home with me for dinner.  They were steamed simply over some salt water and served with a butter and lemon juice dipping sauce.

The wine department was adequate and I did manage to find a few interesting things.  The wine with the lobster tails was a 2010 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc / Viognier from California.  The blend is 79% Chenin Blanc and 21% Viognier.  The nose was definitely Chenin Blanc with the bloom of melon and honeysuckle aromas.  Nice pear and tart apple taste and great acidity.  The Viognier provided a nice mouth feel to this wine.  Tart finish with crisp fruit notes made it a very nice bottle of wine with the lobster, and we finished the bottle two days later with some fresh sea scallops.  Good with those too.

13% alcohol and $13.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Rabbit and Chablis

One thing I like very much but rarely eat is rabbit.  We solved that problem the other day when a few  "bunnies" showed up at the market.  I divided it into pieces, and tied the loin and flaps together.  They went into a hot pan with some butter, olive oil, and the peeled carrots that was quickly thrown into the oven.  We turned the rabbit pieces after ten minutes and added the garlic, onion, chopped rosemary and lemon thyme.  After ten more minutes we added the leeks and some of the wine for dinner.  All that got another fifteen minutes.  At the end we swirled in one last bit of butter.

The wine for the evening is pictured at the right, a 2009 Joseph Drouhin Chablis, Vaudon.  This is the basic Chablis from Drouhin.

It might be a basic Chablis but it is very good. Bright, green-gold in the glass, the aroma was tart, minerally and not all that fruity.  There was some hint of lemon, but the wine was basically closed up.  We used some in the rabbit, poured a small glass and let the rest breathe until dinner.

By the time we ate the wine was showing signs of tart, green fruits and some citrus.  Highly acidic in a very pleasant way.  It left a wonderful dry, almost chalky feel to the mouth at the very end.  Absolutely delicious with the rabbit.  The butter and oil  in the dish were rich and the citrusy quality of the wine really played well with that.  There was no citrus in the dish save for the citrus quality that the wine imparted.

A very nice match and a very tasty and savory wine at a more than reasonable price. 

12.5% alcohol and $22.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cool Weather Braise

No doubt with the weather, it is now mid-Autumn and the cooler nights make for some good eating and good wines, and a hearty braised beef is warming and rewarding.

I browned a small chuck eye roast with a good amount of marbled fat and tissue in it, then tossed in some carrots,onions, celery,  garlic, canned tomatoes, anchovies and tomato paste,  Thyme and rosemary were in the mix as well as some wine.  The meat braised in a low oven for four hours and then was allowed to cool completely in the pan.  The fat and spent vegetables were removed, the broth thickened slightly and everything was rewarmed for dinner.  Packaged, extra wide egg noodles were the only side dish.

The wine was a 2008 Michele Chiarlo Barbera D'Asti "Le Orme."  Medium red in the glass the wine was earthy in it's aromas.  This was a damp earth as opposed to a dry earth.  Lots of bright cherry flavors with more than enough acidity in the taste, but it was correct here.  Two hours later, while the beef was still cooking, the wine finally opened up and was much more balanced.  By dinner time the wine was really showing well with the fruit and earth equally balanced in both aroma and taste. The medium body and acid cut through the richness in the meat.  Good bottle of wine for a good meal.

13% alcohol and $16.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Apple Dumpling & Heaven

Nice dessert the other day courtesy of the local farmers' market.  One of the best local restaurants (Rue Dumaine) makes frequent appearances at the market and they were there this past Thursday with a variety of items, including the apple dumpling pictured above.  We added the whipped cream which had a few drops of Calvados in it, a dusting of Ceylon cinnamon and the mint leaf.  The sugar was restrained a little so the dumpling wasn't overly sweet.

Wine?  Of course there was wine, a 2005 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese.  Just about a perfect match.  Great acidity, clean, pure flavors of apple and peach, wonderful sweetness and a great finish that was both dry and tart.  Extremely focused wine.   Heaven.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Too Big?

After the rain cleared out yesterday afternoon it was a nice evening, so we fired up the grill and cooked rib-eye steaks. There were some local sweet potatoes courtesy of a farmers' market so the menu called for a big wine.

The wine was a 2002 Reilly's Clare Valley Stolen Block Shiraz from Australia. It had been sitting in the cellar for four or five years.  Lots of wonderful, ripe fruit in the nose, mostly blackberries and black plums.  The wine wasn't shy about filling the mouth with flavor.  Unctuous flavors of dark fruits and fruit jams with bits of cinnamon, leather and vanilla adding to the mix coated the tongue and the side of mouth, and they clung there for some time.  There was still some tannin showing and almost enough acid to carry everything.    In the end the wine was just a little bit too big, even after sprinkling the rib-eye with some blue cheese bits.  This was a sipping wine and not a drinking wine, and after one glass I was satisfied. 

15.5% alcohol and $24

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thanks, Canada

Good price on some large, fresh Prince Edward Island mussels at the market on Sunday.  They looked too good to resist and at $3 a pound it was a quick choice for dinner.

Some garlic and ginger and shallot went into a large, heavy skillet with some olive oil.  When that was active and fragrant in went the mussels and a light splash of white wine.  On went the lid and when the mussels began to open I added a large tablespoon of Thai green curry sauce and stirred it into the broth.
The result was way beyond good.  The mussels were plump and just cooked through while the sauce was spicy, sweet, earthy, and a perfect match.  There was a good amount of crusty bread to soak up the juices.

The wine was the last glass and a half of the Kinkead Ridge Riesling discussed below.  Just barely off dry it was very tasty with the mussels, but remarkable with chunks of the bread dipped in the sauce.

Good meal.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kinkead Ridge Riesling 2010

Cool, crisp mornings usually means that Scott the Gordon Setter is frequently busy keeping the local squirrels in good physical condition through an aerobics program he has designed for them.  Not so this morning when the Bella Balloon sailed overhead.  He was otherwise occupied until the barking became too much and he had to come in the house.

Cool, crisp, fresh and primary also describes the 2010 Kinkead Ridge Ohio River Valley Riesling we had with dinner Thursday night.  When this wine was released back in May it had just been bottled and seemed loose and light.  Four months bottle age helped this wine.  Now it is definitely focused and the Riesling flavors are coming to the front.  This wine had a very linear taste - most of the flavor seems to run down the center of the tongue while the sides pick up the acidity.  Very good with two grilled Kurabota pork, rib chops.  One was cooked with minimal seasoning of salt and pepper and the other had some added paprika and once it was flipped on the grill the top was coated with a mango chutney.  Hard to choose between the two chops but the wine was great with both.

$12 and 11.9% alcohol

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Donhoff Riesling 2005

Beautiful fall weather here so there was a beautiful wine to celebrate the day.  The wine was a 2005 Donhoff Riesling from the Nahe region. Riesling with a little age on it is nearly always good and this was no exception.

A bit of kerosene at the very beginning, but that quickly blew off  and left a precise and tart nose of lime, peach and a bit of pear skin.  Solid mouth feel and full bodied.  Wonderful flavors of stone fruit with dry and crisp citrus on top of it.  Sweet at the edges but tart at the finish.  Just a wonderful wine to go with some pork cutlets with both a mustard sauce and a an oriental sweet and sour sauce.  Throw in a small salad and a couple slices of crusty bread and it was a great meal.

Very nice to sit outside on the patio under a shade tree and sip this while watching one of the dogs chase squirrels and the other sit next to you in case there were snacks to go with the wine.

9.5% alcohol and $21