Friday, March 30, 2012

Brundlmayer Gruner Veltliner 2006

This wine is a mouthful, both in name and in taste -  2006 Weingut Brundlmayer Gruner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen, Trocken.  Very herbaceous nose with hints of fruit being reserved for some swirling.  Sharp and tart taste with white peaches, just ripening pears and crisp apple flavors and a bit of saltiness to top it off.  There was the very beginning of a sherry like note in the finish which did nothing but give some depth and complexity to the wine.  It didn't dominate the fruit and minerality, it was just a suggestion at the end.  Quite an interesting taste. Full bodied and slightly oily.

The food was Yakatori from the grill and some shrimp done Yakatori style alongside.  In this case the Yakatori was limited to chicken thighs as the livers and gizzards in the store weren't as fresh as I would like.  A little white rice completed the meal.

Great match between the food and the wine.  One could almost make a case that the sherry like note was transformed to a Sake like note with the food.

12.5% alcohol and $16

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Italy Completed

Being a list keeper sometimes has unintended consequences or rewards.  I've been keeping lists and notes on wines since a long, long time ago in a galaxy far away.  Recently there was reward for this.

There was a grilled steak a few days ago and the wine we opened was a 2007 Di Majo Norante Cantado Riserva, an Aglianico del Molise.  Full bodied, bright and sharp cherry flavors with earth and wood overtones.  Great acid that cut through the steak.  Pleasing finish that left a good cherry flavor in the mouth and left one ready for the next bite of beef. 

This was the first time I drank a wine from Molise, an Italian province on the Adriatic between Abruzzo and Puglia.  This also meant that I have now had at least one wine from every Italian province.  Some were difficult to find.  I struggled to find a Ligurian wine and one from Marche, but the Molise wine required the longest search. 

When I saw the wine on a shelf at one of my usual wine buying haunts I explained this to the salesperson who thought it such a good idea that the store is now considering doing this a  promotion for a number of their customers.  I may have to take a second trip through Italy.

13.5% alcohol and $14.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Blanc de Noir in Spring

There are no flavors like the fresh ones in the spring.  Even this year when the winter was so mild it is refreshing to see things that haven't been around here in awhile.

Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine is great in the spring also because it  highlights those fresh flavors.  The wine here is the Glorria Ferrer Blanc de Noir from the Sonoma section of the Carneros region in northern California. 

The color was just a very subtle shading of pink.  The bubbles were plenty and long lasting and the flavor was spot on with light red fruit and dry, yeasty taste.  Light, balanced, prickly on the tongue and just plain good.

Dinner was Arctic Char, pan seared on the flesh side, flipped over and dusted with chipotle powder and finished briefly in a hot oven.  The fresh peas were quickly sauteed in a small pan in some butter and olive oil and flash steamed by adding just a splash of the sparkling wine.  When the peas were perfectly tender I stirred in some fresh from the garden spearmint.  A side dish of sweet potato chips, dusted with sea salt and a wee bit of chipotle powder, completed the meal.  I love spring.

$17 and 12.5% alcohol

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fresh Peas

Pleasant surprise at the market yesterday morning, fresh peas in their pods.  They were semi-local, from around 100 miles south of here.  Peas are one of the things that are never better than they are in the spring when they are fresh and new.    They made a nice part of a meal - more on that later.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shrimp and Chablis

Successful experiment for dinner tonight, shrimp in a seafood broth and a 2008 Simonet-Febvre Chablis.

The broth was onions, garlic and fennel, all chopped and sweated in some canola oil until soft and fragrant.  Next into the pan was the shrimp shells and heads.  A couple of minutes later in went a dab of tomato paste, then a bit of the Chablis.  When all that reduced I added a mixture of shrimp stock, clam juice and orange peel and the entire mixture simmered for half an hour.  When it was done I strained out all the solids and when it cooled I refrigerated the stock.

Just before dinner the shrimp got a quick saute' in oil, butter and parsley while the stock reheated.  Some butter was swirled into the stock and it went into a bowl with the shrimp arranged in a circle.  Some toasted baguette slices completed the dish.

With a small salad and the wine it was a very nice start the the evening.

Notes on the wine here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


A few of the plants blooming in the yard.  Off to visit a just opened brewery today.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kinkead Ridge Riesling 2010

There was a record high temperature for the date yesterday of 82 degrees, about 30 degrees above normal.  The old record was set in 1887 so I fear an exceptionally long, hot summer.  The grill is up   and running and I moved from winter mode to late spring mode in less than a week.

Nothing says spring like Riesling and yesterday the wine was the 2010 vintage from Kinkead Ridge here in Ohio.  It was light and spring like on the nose with definite white flower and blossom aromas, a bit of crisp apple and a small hint of citrus.  Fruity taste with some lime and lemon, apple and honeysuckle.  Just off dry and a wonderful mouth feel.  The wine ended almost dry with limestone in the finish.  Perfect wine for the day and eating outside before the insects arrive for the year.  The neighbor stopped by and we finished the bottle about dusk. 

It was paired was with a butterflied chicken done on the grill and some pasta tossed with 2011 vintage olive oil, fresh from the garden tarragon, rosemary, thyme and spearmint which are already to a small harvesting stage.  The mint and the wine were a quirky and delicious combination.

11.2% alcohol, $12 and 82 cases produced.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Castiglion Del Bosco

The outdoor grill is up and running for the season and it's something I've missed over the winter.  First up was a scaled down version of Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a large steak "in the style of Florence."

Most recipes call for a large porterhouse steak, but in this case we used a double thick strip steak.  Once the fire died down and the coals were glowing we salted and peppered the 2.5 inch thick steak and grilled it, turning it once, until it was medium rare, about 125 degrees on the instant read thermometer.  It got a squeeze of lemon juice, a very light dusting of finely minced fresh rosemary and a drizzle of a 2011 vintage olive oil.  I covered it with foil and let it rest for five minutes, cut it into slices and served it alongside some farotto.

The wine was a 2006 Castiglion del Bosco, a Rosso di Montalcino.  Beautiful aromas and flavors of super tart cherries and dry, summer earth.  There was an initial blast of tannin but that subsided after some breathing time.  Tart, prickly, full bodied, muscular, strongly fruity and just plain delicious.  Great acidity that cut through the richness of the steak.  This stuff went down very easy.  Fully mature but in no danger of getting old, this was just a great wine, especially for the less than $12 price per bottle. It was purchased on line and had a six bottle minimum and since they included free shipping I was convinced to take the chance.  At more than twice that price it would still be a bargain.

13.5% alcohol and $11.66.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring Volunteers

Just a few of the early volunteers around the house.  Nice that they volunteer their services without any work on my part. The Jonquils in the upper picture have a wonderful smell, sweet, seductive and sensual. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Things

Warm weather here for the last week has definitely been welcome, but there are a few things I could do without. One of those is breeding season for the Canada Geese, The geese stayed around most of the winter and have no inclination to leave and go north to breed and raise their young. The one pictured here certainly upset Scott. Busy week and little wine to report but tonight looks promising.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Le Vaucrain

We did another round of duck legs over the weekend, seared and then braised with vegetables.  It takes some time but it's a simple and flavorful meal.

The wine was a Louis Jadot Cote de Nuits Villages "Le Vaucrain."  Medium density to the color.  Very earthy wine as far as aromas go, woods, mushrooms, tree bark and earth.  After a few minutes of swirling the fruit began to emerge in the form of tart cherries.  I opened the wine just as the duck legs went into the oven to braise so the wine had ample time to breathe.

By the time dinner was ready there was more fruit coming out of the glass.  Medium weight in the mouth, the flavors were the tart cherries sitting on top of those woody and  earthy tastes that matched the aroma.  Deep long lasting flavors that had great acidity and good tannins at the end.  Good stuff with the duck as the bird brought out much more fruit in wine.   The last glass was the best, but I saved the very last glass in the bottle for a second day.

The second day the fruit had come out in a big way and the tannins and earth had receded a bit.  There's one more bottle in the cellar and it will get a break of a year or so and then will be decanted thoroughly before drinking.

13.5% alcohol and close-out price of $22.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mushsroom Risotto

During a quick trip through the market a couple of days ago there was an abundance of fresh mushrooms on display.   They were cultivated, but they were fresh and unusual for this time of year.  I couldn't resist and three varieties came home with me.

At the top left is a good chunk of Maitake mushrooms, or hen of the Woods if one prefers.  Great golden color and a definite aroma of damp woods.  On the bottom is a section of yellow oyster mushrooms.  Less aroma than the Maitake, and a less damp smell to them - more earthy and herbal.

Brown Buttons mushrooms completed the fungus trilogy.

I soaked a few dried porcini mushrooms in hot water until they were rehydrated and I strained the liquid into a blender with the mushrooms and pureed them into a paste.  I made the risotto with shallots and thyme sweated in some olive oil, then added the Carnaroli rice and stirred.  In went some white vermouth and when that was evaporated we began adding the stock.  The stock was the stems from the mushrooms simmered in water.

The mushrooms were sauteed in butter with some fresh thyme and set aside and kept warm.  The risotto was finished by stirring in the porcini paste, a little butter and a good handful of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, fresh chopped parsley and adjusting the salt and pepper. 

The risotto was plated and the mushrooms ladled onto the plate in a ring around the risotto.  Lush and earthy and full of flavor dinner.  The wine was a final glass of Alessandrio Langhe Nebbiolo.  Three days open did wonders for this wine, but I suspect almost anything would have been good with the risotto.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dry Oloroso Sherry

I'm still tasting and experimenting with a range of sherries. The latest half bottle I sampled was a Lustau Don Nuno Dry Oloroso.

Dark brown in the glass, very dark.  Aromas of nutmeats, earth, raisins and other dried fruits.  It was surprisingly light in the mouth for as dark as it was; I was expecting more.  Wonderful flavors of the nuts and fruits, almost tasting like a dry fruitcake.  Wonderful, full finish that lasted for quite some time an finished nearly bone dry. 

This wine kept doing things I didn't expect, and I pretty much liked everything it did.  It wasn't as full as the color indicated and it wasn't as sweet as the flavors hinted that it might be.

Tried it after dinner and tried it before dinner with a slight chill.  Good summer dessert wine and a good winter aperitif.

20% alcohol and $9 for a 375ml bottle.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

First Flower of Spring

The first crocus bloomed this morning. While it isn't official for two more weeks, it is definitely spring here.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Second Day Wine

With every sip I become more convinced that the best way to enjoy a well made, Nebbiolo wine is to decant the bottle the day before one plans to drink it.  Short of that the best way may be to just wait until the second day to drink the second half of a bottle.  The 2004 Gianfranco Alessandria Langhe Nebbiolo was another recent example.  I'm currently finishing this wine with the lunch plate above, thin slices of tri-tip beef roast, a couple grape tomatoes sliced into halves, a few cornichons and a small pickled onion, a little bit of a home made honey/horseradish/red pepper mustard, and baguette sized, open face, grilled cheese sandwiches made with Cheshire cheese, an English cheddar with chives.

I opened the wine last night to celebrate two birthdays.  Scott and Doer, the two Gordon setters in the title of this blog, turned nine years old yesterday.  Dinner was two lamb chops, a small, roasted sweet potato cut into slices and a small salad.   While the lamb was finishing in the oven a couple of lamb meatballs roasted alongside them and those meatballs went into the dog's dinner.  Happy dogs.

The wine was reticent to say the least.   It was still tightly wound and even aerating it with a funnel kept it closed for half an hour.  Very good during the meal, but perhaps a little disappointing since I've had better luck with previous bottles of this wine.

Today at lunch the second half of the bottle more than redeemed this wine.  The nose was tarry and flowery and the taste was super tart, red cherries and dry earth with herbs.  Beautiful balance on the second day with great acidity, ample tannin, sweet fruit and savory earth.  Two more in the cellar.

14% alcohol and $18

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dolcetto D'Alba

It had been some time since I opened a Dolcetto, but we corrected that for Leap Day.  The wine was a Mauro Veglio Dolcetto D'Alba from the 2010 vintage.

Deep and dark color as expected and the nose was dark fruits and dark fruit jam.  Very full bodied wine with great flavors of ripe, black plums and blackberries.  The acid seemed a little low on this wine, and the tannins were hiding somewhere but never showed up.  Long, sweetish finish to the wine.

Dinner was some chicken thighs broiled with Italian seasoning and some orecchiette pasta with a sour cream and chive sauce with grated cheese and cracked black pepper.  The best part was the chives.  With an unseasonably warm winter here the chives were the first thing to come out of the garden for the spring and were certainly a welcome, fresh taste.  Good meal and the wine was fine for washing down the food.

The bottom line - nothing bad here but little to praise either.  A basic, entry level fruity wine.

$12 and 13.5% alcohol.