Thursday, May 31, 2012

2005 Clos Des Guettes

The oldest of the white Burgundies cracked open for the lobsters discussed below was from the 2005 vintage.  The wine was a Louis Jadot, Savigny-Les-Beaune, Premier Cru, Clos des Guettes, Domaine Gagey.  It was also the most discussed wine.

The nose was rich fruit, with vanilla and butter aromas and subtle baked goods aromas popping out as well.    The taste was a little one dimensional with strong tastes of ripe, green grapes, a bit of apple and peach and a bit of butterscotch.    We quickly put it in the number four spot.

Half an hour later the wine had bloomed in the glass.  The fruit was still there in the nose but the butter and vanilla had faded and the baked goods seemed to be carrying the bulk of the nose.  Now the flavors were open and the apples were sweeter, the grapes were a little more tart, there were hints of lemon and subtle tastes of  roasted nuts.  The finish was wonderfully long and refreshing.  Lots of body in this wine. 

It was a wonderful match with the lobsters, especially when they were dipped in the lemon butter.  From being initially put fourth in order it turned out to be the first bottle completely gone.  There was a lot of pleasure in this bottle.

13.5% alcohol and price about $35.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kinkead Ridge 2011 White Wines

Along with lobsters and white Burgundies (more on those later) the Memorial Day weekend is also the release of white wines from Kinkead Ridge and on Monday I ventured to the winery.  The release was four wines from the 2011 vintage, three of which are pictured above.

On the left is the Viognier Roussanne, this vintage a mixture that is 77% Viognier.  In 2010 the blend was only 43% Viognier so these are vastly different wines.  I drank a bottle of the 2010 a couple of weeks ago and you can read that here.  The 2011 is much more citrusy, with orange peel and blossoms and lemon zest in the nose, along with a dose of honeydew melon.  There's also a touch of green fruits, but no lavender that endeared me to the 2010.  This wine is lighter on the nose and palate and is almost a full 1% less alcohol.  Great acidity on the finish.  The 2010 was good with grilled chicken, but I'll save the 2011 for fish and indoor chicken without the smokiness of the grill.  At $16.95 a bottle one can't do better than this wine.  14.2% alcohol.  110 cases produced.

On the right is the White Revelation, a blend of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, semillon and a few other white grapes.  Stick your nose in this wine and you are immediately transported to the grapefruit groves in Vero Beach, Florida in mid January.  Sweet grapefruit aromas that leave no doubt in the mind what's happening here.  There's a hint of  some floweriness and just a touch of herbs in the nose.  The taste is pure citrus, sharp, tart, refreshing and just crying out for halibut or cod.   $13.95 and the bargain of the year so far.  13.5% alcohol.  86 cases produced.

The leaves the wine in the middle, and the Riesling is  sort of a conundrum.   There's not much nose to the wine at this point.  There's hints of of honeysuckle and lime and some white flowers, but those aromas are faint.  The taste is equally light and nondescript.  I had similar thoughts about the 2010 Riesling, and I put the ones I bought away for nine months and the wine evolved into something better.  I'll do the same with this vintage.  $11.95, 12.1% alcohol, 1.2% residual sugar and 101 cases produced.

The fourth wine released was a 2011 River Village Cellars Traminette, a hybrid wine sold on the second label for Kinkead Ridge.  Pleasant, well made, noticeable residual sugar.  Since I'm not a big fan of Gewurztraminer, and one of the parents of this grape is Gewurztraminer,  I'll leave opinions on this wine for others.

I will let these wines rest for a couple of months since they were all recently bottled, but look forward to some good drinking later this summer and early fall.


Great party last weekend to celebrate the unofficial start of summer here, and the weather cooperated by being hot and steamy. Of course the centerpiece for the party was the box of fifteen lobsters that got steamed and consumed.  And if one has lobsters then one must have wine.  In the past the wine list concentrated primarily on Chablis, but it branched out a little bit year into other areas of Burgundy.

Let's start with the one Chablis on the list, a 2006 Vincent Mothe Premier Cru Fourchaume.  Light, green/gold color in the glass, a lot like summer straw.   Fresh scents of hay fields and sea spray to go along with bits of citrus zests.  Medium body, fresh and tart with flavors of crisp apple.  Balanced wine that was a near perfect match with the lobsters. 

There were three butters to dip the lobsters, one with lemon, one with lime and one with ginger.  The Mothe Chablis aced the test with the ginger flavored butter.  This was just a wonderful match. 

Good stuff, and since it was my contribution, I can report that there is one more in the cellar.

$35 and 13% alcohol.

Much more to come.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Almost Rose'

Very interesting wine over the last two evenings that left me with mixed feelings.  The wine was a 2011 Domaine de Fondreche, L'Instant Rose' from the Ventoux region of Provence.

Quite pale, even for a rose', in the glass but there were pleasant aromas of crushed strawberries and tart red cherries complimented by a sense of spiciness in the nose.  It was a nose that made me excited  about the wine.

Sadly, the flavor was very much like the color, there wasn't much of it.  One could pick up a hint of the same fruits that were in the nose, but they were very faint and light.  The acid was good and the finish was tart, but it was short and then gone.

This was a wine for people who don't like wine.  I kept thinking that I wished they had left the skins in contact for just a couple of hours so the wine picked up more flavor and color.  They didn't and I won't be buying another.

The wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. 

12% alcohol and $14.

Lots of wine notes coming since today is the annual Lobster Festival. The attendees are all bringing white Burgundies from 2005 through 2009.  Should be some good and interesting wines.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I recently survived another birthday and as usual that meant that another bottle of single malt Scottish whisky came through the front door pleading to be adopted.  It's hard to say "no."

In this case it was a 17 year old Tamnavulin, a Speyside malt distilled in 1991.  It's a Gordon & McPhail bottling.

Very light, golden color with a flowery nose that just sang about summer.  Sweet aromas of flowers and ripening grain mixed with just a hint of smoke floating by.  Elegant and sweet on the finish with orange peel and apple pie lingering at the end.  With just a splash of cool water it blooms in the glass and it's aromas are amplified.  Easy to drink.

This is quite different from my all time favorite, Lagavulin, from Islay.  That's an in your face whisky with big, bold, smoky flavors, while this one is more subtle and friendly.  Lagavulin translates as the little mill in the hollow while Tamnavulin translates as the little mill on the hill

Sadly the distillery ceased production in 1993. 

43% alcohol and $70.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lemelson Thea's Selection 2007

The first wave of  Copper River Salmon arrived in the area from Alaska late last week.  Usually the most highly marketed, thus highly expensive, salmon of the year it always comes close to living up to its hype.  Rich, unctuous, fatty, full flavored, fresh, clean, etc.

The preparation was simple, some salt and pepper, a very light touch of paprika, a hot skillet and quick trip to the oven after searing on top of the stove. 

The wine was equally s good - a 2007 Lemelson Vineyards, Thea's Selection Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley.  Wonderful nose of ripe cherries and earth, mixed with just a kiss of oak.  Medium body with great flavors of both red and black cherries.  Very balanced wine with good acidity, good tannin and that light touch of oak that seemed to accent the other flavors rather than dominate them.  It didn't taste like a Burgundy, but it also had the good sense to not taste like way too many American pinots and go overboard with ripeness and alcohol. 

Super combination with the salmon as the oiliness in the fish was balanced against the tannin and acid in the wine with the fruit and earth flavors just adding to the experience.  Very good stuff.

The plant in the photo is a salmon colored tuberous Begonia that normally resides on the patio.

13.5% alcohol and $24

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Carte Turquoise

We opened another sparkling wine from the Loire the other evening, this time a Domaines du Baumard Carte Turquoise.  there are some notes on a previous bottle of it's sister wine, Carte Corail, here.

The wine is a mixture of Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc.  Good set of bubbles and a yeasty nose of honeysuckle and cookies fresh from the oven.  Good balance of fruit that stayed more to the white side, though one could pick up red flavors from the Cabernet Franc.  Just off dry, but with good acid on the finish.  Not a ton of elegance here, but a very good, basic sparkling wine that was tasty and refreshing.

This was the first bottle of the evening  and with steamed shrimp and a collection of several dipping suaces it was a good way to start.

You can check out the Domaines du Baumard here.

12.5% alcohol and $16.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mixed Cultures

There was an evening of 'mixed culture' recently and it was delicious.  Dinner, pictured above, was twice cooked duck, a somewhat spicy mixture that was paired with a 2007 Alfred Merkelbach Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett. 

This was the second bottle of this wine that I drank recently.  You can read about the first bottle here.

The duck was legs and thighs that were seasoned with salt, pepper and five spice powder, then tossed in a pot with some water, onions and ginger and simmered until just done. Once they were cool I separated the meat and tossed the bones away.  I saved the broth.

Finally the duck pieces were stir fried until crispy, then in went the peppers, julienned ginger, garlic and cumin seed.    Next in was some of the duck stock and a spicy mixture of rice wine, soy sauce, spicy black bean paste, brown sugar, sesame oil and orange zest.  Next in was some cornstarch dissolved in a bit of water.  When everything was done the greens went in for just a few seconds before serving.  The greens in this case were pea shoots, leaves and tendrils.

The flavors were dramatic - spicy, sweet, and earthy at the same time.  There was a fairly good kick of heat from both the bean paste and the peppers.

The wine was virtually perfect with these flavors.  The heat in the dish and the slight sweetness in the wine were made for each other.  They were better together than each of them was by itself.  The wine was like taking a drink from a crisp mountain stream - totally refreshing and rejuvenating.  It's a wine and food I will have together again.

The original recipe for the duck was from the New York Times and can be found here.

9% alcohol and $14.  A terrific price on this wine.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


My only experience with Greek wine was many many years ago at the bachelor party for a Greek fraternity brother of mine, and I didn't care for it.  It was quite an event.  I vaguely remember the belly dancer making an appearance before the Ouzo started flowing.  I remember very little about the next two days other than they seemed to be the starting point for a fifteen year aversion to anything anise flavored.

My thoughts about the Greek Wine Cellars 2010 Assyrtiko from the island of Santorini are much better and are ones I wouldn't mind repeating.  Light, pale golden color with just a touch of green in the glass.  Wonderful aromas of citrus and  the tartest, chilled green grapes in the nose.   Citrusy flavors with limestone notes that I finally decided made it a cross between a Chablis and a Muscadet. 

Totally refreshing with some grilled shrimp and couscous laced with fresh oregano and Kalamata olives and a tiny bit of feta.  Briny taste sensations when sipped with the shrimp, but a much earthier taste following a bite of couscous.  Good wine.

12.4% alcohol and $14. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lunch and Good Juju

Yesterday's lunch was good. The sandwich is a smoked ham and provolone pannini using two slices of ciabatta. There was a smear of both mayonnaise and honey mustard for effect. The beer was from the Left Hand Brewing Company out of Longmont, Colorado. Good Juju is basically a pale ale brewed with ginger.  Light and hoppy on the front in with a good blast of ginger on the finish.  Nothing at all to complain about - it's refreshing and zippy.

4.5% alcohol and $10 for six.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Le Bon Cochon

Despite translating as The Good Pig, we drank this bottle with lamb.  The 2009 Le Bon Cochon from  Michel-Schlumberger in the Dry Creek Valley is a blend of Zinfandel and Syrah.  Dark color, full body and a nose that was more than recognizable as Zinfandel - blackberries, tart black raspberries and a little earth.    Full flavored without being over the top, there was enough tannin and acid to keep this wine fresh and singing through the meal.

The small roast cut from the leg was marinated in salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, then tossed on the grill over hardwood charcoal.  It was served with a dollop of tzatsiki on the side.  We added some sweet potato gnocchi with fried sage leaves and a grating of cheese.  Great match with the wine.

14.7% alcohol, 450 cases made and $24.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fresh Herbs from the Garden

With a mild and early spring things in the garden are doing great, especially the herbs. While picking herbs for an omelet this morning I decided to pick a wee bit of almost everything. Two exceptions were the lavender and the basil, neither of which is quite ready for harvesting. Here's the list starting from the left.....

Blooming garden sage, Kentucky Colonel spearmint, parsley (with chervil lying on top of its stems),  French thyme, tarragon, peppermint, rosemary, oregano, lemon thyme, variegated sage, chives, and a little sprig of dill lying across the bottom of the chives. 

The herb omelet this morning had finely chopped chives, chervil and tarragon tucked inside just before the omelet was folded.  A great taste of spring.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fresh Asparagus

It's really a good thing that the fresh, local asparagus season is brief because I might overdose if it lasted longer.  Fresh herbs and fresh asparagus. locally grown, almost  make the winter a tolerable memory.

In this case the stalks were from three miles away and were purple.  Often I peel the stems before cooking asparagus, but I don't do that with the purple variety.  Purple is only skin deep and I definitely want to enjoy the purple.

It's a quick harvest and there are only a couple of days left at this farm plot, though the green variety should be ready in a few days and last for about a week.

Last night I steamed the spears, placed them on the plate and topped them with two poached quail eggs, a little salt, some pepper and some toasted bread crumbs. Simple but delicious.

It was also a beer night - more on that later.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Viognier - Roussanne

Beautiful evening yesterday and that meant the grill was fired and ready to go by late afternoon. Dinner was a chicken done on the grill and another round of very local asparagus, this time purple asparagus from a farm about six miles from here. The wine for the night was the Kinkead Ridge 2010 Viognier - Roussanne.

Several days ago the New York Times featured an article on methods for quick roasting chickens, and even though I didn't use the method they were promoting in that article I did learn something about the way I prefer to grill chicken.  I learned the technical name for what I like to do is "spatchcocked chicken." 

In short - the backbone of the chicken is removed, as are all the other bones save the legs and the double boned section of the wings.  The rest is flattened and cooked.  It greatly speeds up the grilling time from an hour or more for a whole bird to half an hour for the spatchcocked version.  The chicken got minimal seasoning, just salt pepper, chervil and onion powder.  It went over the coals with the skin side up for five minutes, was turned for five minutes to skin side down.  Finally it was flipped once more and moved just off the coals and the cover went on the grill. 

When the bird was done it got some Malden salt and some lemon juice and was allowed to rest for seven minutes, just long enough for the purple asparagus to finish cooking on the grill.  The quite tasty results are pictured below just before carving.

The wine?  Very light golden color in the glass.   The aromas were rich with orange peel, a touch of honeysuckle, white blossoms, and a tiny bit of lavender.  The lavender was not something I was used to with this wine so I went back to sniffing four or five times with a few minutes interval between, and the nose was consistent.  Very full bodied for a white wine, almost viscous in the glass.  Wonderful tastes of peach and apricot and perhaps a little bit of lychee.  There was a bit of fully ripe apple tastes in the wine as well.  Long, dry finish that had some mineral qualities on the very end.

This is a wine that is a little bit serious and not at all shy.  It more than stood up to the smoky flavors of the chicken.  I really think the wine might overpower a delicate fish or bland chicken, but it certainly had a great partner with the spatchcocked chicken from the grill.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Finger Licking Good

In this case, finger licking good does not apply to Colonel Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken, it applies to the 2005 Kinkead Ridge Petit Verdot. The new white wines from Kinkead Ridge are just a few weeks away from release so some space needed to be made in the cellar for them by opening a few bottles of past vintages.

First up was the 2005 PV and a New York strip steak from the grill done on the rare side of medium with the remaining morels sauteed in some butter.  Yum.

Inky dark wine in the glass, almost black, and  I kept thinking back to old legends in the wine world of the "black wine of Cahors."  Robust and earthy aromas of black plums, blackberries and just about any other black fruit one can name.  Definitely full flavored with blackberries and black raspberries.  The best thing about this wine was that the oak has finally integrated fully.  With previous bottles the oak was a predominant flavor, but now it has mellowed into vanilla and cinnamon and it plays a supporting role.  Very proper acidity and a lush mouth feel to this wine led to a long. slow, ripe finish with just a bit of vegetable at the very end.  Absolutely perfect with the steak and morels. The best news is that there are two more in the cellar, but the wine is drinking so well right now that it will be a shame to hold on to them.

13.4% alcohol and $18.95.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Run for the Rose's

Good get together yesterday to watch the Kentucky Derby with wine drinking friends, and since the race is known as the Run for the Roses I took a Rose'.

The wine was opened after the obligatory Mint Julep that goes with the derby, but a good drink of water between the two cleared the palate.

The rose' of the day was Le Grande Bouqueteau, a Chinon from the 2011 vintage.  Bright, cheery fruit with aromas of strawberries and cherries, a medium pale color in the glass and fresh, forward and sweet fruit. That was all balanced by crisp acidity and bright and happy finish.  Hard to fault the wine.   

There was a mixed bag of food, all good - crab salad in wonton cups, smoked salmon and creme fraiche on buckwheat blinis,  pulled pork sandwiches and more. 

 An exciting horse race and even more exciting finish won by a horse named I'll Have Another.  In honor of the winning horse I had another glass of the rose'.

12% alcohol and $14.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Asparagus and Morels, Part Two

The first batch of fresh picked morels and fresh asparagus ended with the picture above.  The asparagus was tossed with olive oil and grilled on a panini press.  The boneless, skinless, chicken breast was seared on the press and then finished in the oven.  The morels were sauteed in butter, then splashed with some of the sparkling Loire wine below and finished with a tablespoon of creme fraiche and a squeeze of lemon juice.  A tiny bit of fresh chervil finished the dish.

 The Cremant de Loire was even better the second day as it really did match well with the asparagus.  Nice wine, better meal.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cremant De Loire

To go with with the asparagus and morel risotto discussed below I wanted something light and happy that reflected spring, and something that wouldn't be destroyed by the asparagus.

The answer was a Baumard, Carte Corail Rose', a sparkling wine from the Loire.  Pale onion skin color with just a touch of pink in the glass the aroma was distinctly peaches and strawberries.  So was the taste, fruity with strawberries and a bit of cherry at the end.  The wine was just off dry, not quite to the sweetness of an extra dry champagne, but certainly not a brut dryness.  There were some good yeasty flavors at the very end. The wine is 100% Cabernet Franc. 

Very good choice with the risotto because the fruit played nicely against the earthiness of the morels and the yeastiness and the asparagus did not argue with each other. 

12.5% alcohol and $16.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Morels and Asparagus

There are two products that are the perfect representation of spring when they are local.  Last weekend my cousin who owns a farm and woods nearby stopped by with a large bag of morels from his woods, and the local market featured the first locally grown asparagus.  The morels were from seven miles away and the asparagus from twenty-five miles away.  Short of growing or harvesting them myself that's as local as I can get.

The first meal was an asparagus and morel risotto - rich and creamy, earthy, fragrant, and filling.  There were shallots, rice, a light chicken stock, morels and asparagus that were finished with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a few grinds of black pepper. 

The local season is brief, so there will be more than a couple of meals featuring these two.