Tuesday, June 26, 2012


No wine to speak of today, but lots of out of town research going on this week. Flowers from a pot near the front door. They have bloomed since early spring but things are shutting down here as summer is in full swing. Temperatures this week are expected to be 100 degrees or higher - and that usually means a switch to gin and tonic or a Southside fizz.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Carafe of Red

For as long as I care to remember and for as long as I've been reading wine books and articles I've never found any writer who "speaks" to me more than Gerald Asher.  I first became familiar with him through Gourmet magazine in the mid 1970's.  Not only were the articles a good read and educational to me, but when I somehow managed to find some of the exact wines he was writing about and recommending (not always easy in Ohio at that time) I liked them.

I subscribed to that magazine for quite a long period of time and Mr. Asher's columns were the primary reason.  They went to work with me and found there way onto the copy machines and then into three ring binders.  Short of saving the whole magazine that was the easiest way to keep them in order.  I still have a couple of those binders - now filled with yellowing pages.

Fast forward to the present and there is new collection of columns just published in a volume titled A Carafe of Red.  What a perfect way to spend a couple of days - outdoors in the early morning and late evening and indoors when the weather was too hot.  This a collection of columns so all one needs to do is pick a spot and start reading, there's no need to read them in order.  That said, when I finished the book the first column was my favorite - A Carafe of Red.  This particular column examines the resurgence of the Corbieres region of southwest France.  There's an outstanding discussion of searching California for chardonnay clones and a wealth of others way too numerous to go into here.

Some things rarely change, and Gerald Asher being on top of his game is one I'm thankful for.

A Carafe of Red, Gerald Asher, University of California Press, 2012.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Solstice

Yesterday was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and around here the hottest day so far. That made it perfect for a rose'.

The wine of choice was a 2011 Saint Roch Les Vignes from the Cotes des Provence and the fact that the sun was prominent on the label was merely a coincidence, but a rather nice one.    The color was a bright, salmon orange and the nose was freshly crushed berries and freshly sliced peaches.  Bone dry taste with good hints of strawberries and peaches, wonderful acid and a dry earth after taste that left an austere feeling in the mouth. 

Dinner was a center slice of Beluga Point wild salmon from Alaska.  Rich, luscious and fresh it was a perfect foil for the wine. 

13.5% alcohol and $12

Monday, June 18, 2012

Steak and Bordeaux

There was a good celebration yesterday for Father's Day and the main course was rib steaks cooked on the grill for about a dozen people.  Lots of cooking and lots of side dishes and despite a downpour of rain just as the grilling started it was a nice day.

There were a couple of wines.  The one here is a 2001 Moulin de Duhart, a Pauillac.  The wine is second label for Chateau  Duhart Milon and is a blend of about 60% cabernet sauvignon and 40% merlot from younger vines on the estate.  

Dry, earthy nose with notes of cedar and cherry.  Medium to light body with ample, dry tannin mixed with dark cherry and tobacco flavors.  The acidity was very good.  Not a lot of depth to the wine and the fruit was definitely in the background after a few minutes in the glass.  Probably a couple of years past its peak, but I always enjoy a decent Bordeaux even though they've tended to price themselves out of my market. 12.5% alcohol and $30 several years ago.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quiet Morning

It's a clear summer morning here before a hot day to come.

Their is a pot of pink rain lilies near the front step and they offered seventeen blooms this morning to provide a bit if serenity to the world.

The bulbs in this particular pot are direct descendants of a large clump that came from my grandmother's garden in eastern Kentucky more than sixty years ago.    A few made their way to Ohio with my mother and over the years they have been divided and re-potted several times.  This fall I will break open this pot and divide the bulbs again and we'll start over next spring. 

Very interesting plant that you can read about here.

More wine notes later.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Gruner Veltliner

The last of the 2012 Copper River Alaskan salmon was at the market the other day, in this case a piece of Coho.  I went back to a favorite recipe - spicy salmon cakes.  The fish was skinned and chopped roughly and mixed with red onion, soy sauce, brown sugar, red chilli paste, cilantro, lemon juice, fish sauce, and bread crumbs.  It eventually found its way into four salmon cakes that were rolled in panko crumbs and pan seared until crisp on the outside.

The wine was a 2008 Weingut Brundlmayer, Kamptaler Terrassen, Gruner Veltliner from Austria.  I drank a a bottle of the 2006 about a month ago and loved it and thought it time to try the 2008.  Sharp and focused nose with mineral edges all around, but there was some citrusy fruit hanging around for fun.  Light, young, fresh and just about a perfect match for the heat in the salmon cakes.  Ideal summer wine.  Very easy wine to like and very easy on the pocket book. 

$12 and 12% alcohol.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A J Adam 2009 Dhron Hofberg

There was an Asian inspired meal the other night, but not one that carried a lot of heat with the inspiration. Dinner was sauteed shrimp and baby Bok Choy in a sauce of lime juice, sesame oil, soy sauce and honey all reduced down to a glaze before being added to the pan to coat the shrimp and veggies.  Simple dish, but the wine was anything but simple.

The wine a 2009 A. J. Adam Dhron Hofberg Riesling from Germany's Mosel region.  While it doesn't carry the designation on the label the wine is a feinherb style of Riesling, very dry and almost austere.

Wonderful nose of slate and dust with crisp citrus and apple notes to it, but the minerality was the key here.  Sharp, tart, crisp, and electrifying taste of sharp green or yellow apples at their peak.  There was some lime zest in the taste as well, but that came mostly at the finish.  Very little residual sweetness here,  just crispness and a refreshing quality and dry after taste that was almost Chablis like.  The finish went on for quite some time.  There's one more bottle of this particular wine  and I've now added another winery to my list of Mosel favorites.  The search is one for more from this producer.

11.5% alcohol and $30.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Staglin Cabernet 1997

It's good to have friends with deep cellars and Friday night was a great example.  They called early Friday afternoon with a dinner invitation.  They were just coming out of a month of hospital visits for relatives, grand kids birthday parties and a number of completed projects.  "Let's grill a steak, drink some wine and sit on on the patio."  That's a recipe for a nearly perfect evening.

The wine he pulled out was a 1997 Staglin Family vineyards, Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine I have tasted on several occasions.  The last time was a couple of years ago and it was a disappointment.  You can read about that here.

At that point I made a remark that I was going to put my remaining bottle away for a couple of years just to see what happened with even more time in the bottle.  What I was expecting was for the wine to continue going downhill. 

This bottle, though, turned out to be the proverbial horse of a different color.  This wine was rich and fruity, with a taste of mature fruit as opposed to young fruit.  Lots of currants and black cherry flavors with some graphite overtones and earthiness to it.  This bottle was balanced with acid, tannin, and flavor.  The oak was totally integrated and gave the wine a tiny bit of vanilla, but threw in some cinnamon to go along with it.  There was a long finish that ended with a sweet, earthy taste.  Quite a good wine and by the time the steaks were ready there were only a few sips to go with the food.   

13.8% and $70 when it was released more than ten years ago.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Whiff of Provence

This is our last cool morning for a while so the doors and windows are open and the breeze is blowing toward the house, meaning it must pass through the lavender which is pushing out all the wonderful  aromas that collected overnight.  I'm thinking a rose' from Provence for dinner tonight.

A few words from John Keats.....
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim....

Ode to a Nightingale.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wild Pigs

There has been a spell of great weather lately - clear skies, cool breezes, low humidity.  Perfect grilling weather.  I found a large pork shoulder roast on sale so the grill got a long workout.  The pig was bathed in a dry rub of salt, pepper, brown sugar and a touch of chipotle powder and allowed to marinate for twenty four hours. It went on the grill at a controlled low temperature for six hours over hickory charcoal.  Wonderful aromas brought out the neighbors and several were pleading for a bit of the pig.  Good stuff.

In keeping with that spirit the wine was a 2008 Michel-Schlumberger Dry Creek Zinfandel, labeled Cochons Sauvages - or wild pigs. The wine had great aromas of blackberries and raspberries.  Lots of berries in the taste with some of the prickliness that comes with a good Zin.  Good acid and body and Zinfandel tannins built a firm base for the fruit flavors to live on.  Very easy wine to drink with some pig. 

The photo is a volunteer tiger lily that was unceremoniously removed from it's long stem when it came between a rapidly fleeing squirrel and a pursuing Gordon Setter.

14.9% alcohol and $35

Monday, June 4, 2012

2009 Puligny Montrachet

The last white Burgundy of the lobster dinner was the youngest wine, a 2009 Louis Jadot Puligny Montrachet. 

Fragrant, but reluctant,  nose of citrus and oak.  Very extracted mouth feel and full flavors of sweet apple, hints of pineapple, a touch of earth, a little vanilla.  Long finish.

To be honest this was a wine with little charm for the first part of the meal.  It took forty five minutes for the the wine to begin to open.  Basically, it's way too young to drink now, but the things it promises are exciting.  One the citrus and vanilla integrate and mellow the bouquet will be great.  Nothing wrong with the flavor now, but a time in the bottle would help.

The person who brought this bottle has two more that we agreed to leave alone for a couple of years and then try again.  13.5% alcohol and $75.

The bottom line on all four wines was that I preferred the Chablis.  It had five years age on it and was drinking beautifully on the day. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

2008 Chassagne Montrachet

The second youngest white Burgundy for the evening was a 2008 Louis Latour Chassagne Montrachet.

This wine had the most appealing nose of the lot upon opening.  It was the least reticent wine, showing lemon curd, vanilla, and citrus almost immediately.  Great body, wonderful legs, and a very pleasing taste of citrus, vanilla, and summer flowers.  Great acidity that made the finish crisp and clean. 

Of all the wines for the evening this was the one that went best with the butter and lime juice dipping sauce for the lobsters.  Very hard to pinpoint, but it was just a wonderful match with slightly different citrus flavors in the wine and the sauce. 

There was a healthy dent put in this bottle, though it wasn't completely gone by the end of the evening.

Two days later it was still drinking well, but the fresh impact was obviously gone.

13.5% and $45.