Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Austrian Riesling

When I open a Riesling more often than not it is German, or a good but modest Ohio Riesling.  I reached for another Riesling a couple of nights ago and instead pulled out a wine from Austria.  The wine was a 2009 Schloss-Gobelsburg Gobelsburger from the Kamptal region of Austria. 

Dinner was a simple roast chicken and I was in the mood for something lighter.  The Gobelsburger was just about perfect.  Light, refreshing, focused, and a great compliment to the food.

There was a good whiff of kerosene at the start but I decanted the bottle and after a few minutes that aroma faded.  Citrus peel and white flowers in the nose.  Medium body wine with great acid that flooded the mouth with texture, tartness and a taste of a cold, crisp apple.  Very good length to the finish and bone dry and refreshing at the very end. 

If one isn't a fan of the sweet sensation in a German Riesling this trocken (dry style) Riesling is a great alternative.  Truly nice wine.

Schloss-Gobelsburg Gobelsburger Riesling, Kamptal Austria.  12.5% alcohol and $20.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Yellow Birds

My reading habits don't often include fiction, but after reading a couple of reviews of The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers I made an exception.

The book is set both in the U.S. and in Iraq during the war and is basically a descent into madness, an all too often side effect of war.  The story derives from a promise by a twenty-one year old soldier to the mother of an eighteen year old soldier to keep her son safe and bring him home alive.  If the promise were kept, there wouldn't be a novel and the reader is aware at the beginning that the promise wasn't kept.

Beautifully written book that describes what war does to the mind more so than what war does to the body.  By the end of the book I could close my eyes and picture a scene from the movie Apocalypse Now, the one near the end where Marlon Brando, as Colonel Kurtz, is holding a bloody knife and his two words of dialogue are simply, "The horror." 

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers.  Little, Brown and Company.   September 2012.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Copain Tous Ensemble

Copain wines get a lot of interesting press, primarily because they went from being over the top wines to more refined and elegant in the last few years.    They are also very hard to come by in Ohio, so I was quite surprised to find a bottle of pinot noir on the shelf.  This particular bottle was a Tous Ensemble, a blend from several vineyards in Mendocino's Anderson Valley.

The wine had a light color in the glass and looked more like a Burgundy than a California interpretation of pinot noir.  The aromas were somewhat reserved but eventually there was a mixture of red fruit, cherries and raspberries.  Medium weight and mouth feel to the wine, light, supple and pleasant.  Good, simple fruit flavors and a bit of earthiness combined to make this a very easy wine to sip and enjoy.  Good length to the finish and great acidity to clear the palate.  Light tannins contributed to the finish as well, and all together made this a wine that was hard to resist. Nothing earth shattering, and at $30 maybe a tad overpriced, but this is a good wine.

Dinner was a two inch thick rib eye steak and some roasted potatoes.  The beef was slowly roasted on the grill and then cut into slices after it rested.  Excellent match with the wine.

The second wine of the night was a 2001 Col Solare from Washington state, a joint project between chateau Ste. Michelle and Antinori of Italy.  The wine is a Bordeaux style blend.  Dark wine in the glass and powerful aromas of black fruit and spice.  Very noticeable oak in this wine.  Full bodied and mouth coating, but still some restraint and grace to it.  Fully mature with soft tannins and a nice acid balance that gave it some refreshing qualities.  Lengthy, sweet finish.  Very good with the beef.  Much more serious wine than the pinot noir.

Copain Tous Ensemble Pinot Noir.  13.1% alcohol and $30
Cole Solare.  14.2% alcohol and $55.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Autumn Morning

Cool days with cooler still, damp mornings now in late October.  Perfect weather for fungus to grow under one of the trees the squirrels use as an escape route while being chased by Scott.    This one survived the morning chase.  Not being a fungus pro I have no idea what they are, only that they are indicative of this time of year.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2011 Riesling

The very last thing I needed in my area was a new wine store, but since it was there and since I would hate to see a wine store fail I had to stop.

What I brought home was the first sighting in this area of a 2011 German Riesling.  To be exact it was an Urban Mosel Riesling from St. Urbans-Hof, an estate whose wines I like. This is their introductory level wine made from grapes purchased from various sites along the Mosel River. 

Dinner was a spice rubbed half turkey breast roasted in the small oven.  The spice rub was white peppercorns, coarse sea salt, fresh sage and fresh thyme all whizzed together in a spice grinder to make a lightly moist rub.  The turkey got about two hours in this rub before being smeared with olive oil and roasted.  Wonderful aromas in the house while this roasted and both dogs guarded the oven in case a thief broke in with thoughts to steal it. 

There was a sauce with some of the drippings, a little flour, some duck fat, a wee bit of the spice blend, a good does of red pepper flakes and chicken stock. 

Pretty, clear greenish gold color to the wine.  Stone fruit aromas mixed with citrus notes in the nose.  Great mouth feel to this wine as it coated all parts of the mouth.  Sharp and tart at the front end, decidedly sweet in the middle and full and crisp at the finish.  Nicely balanced wine with a rather short finish.  Nice match with the turkey breast, and the sweetness in the wine worked great with the mild heat from the red pepper flakes in the sauce.  Nothing earth shattering here, but a nice little wine at a more than fair price.

Urban Riesling by St Urbans-Hof.  9.5% alcohol and a great buy at $11.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

From the Depths to the Summit

The last bottle of wine I reported on (see below) was sad and undrinkable and most of it went down the hole in the center of the kitchen sink.  So as Monty Python used to say, "...and now for something completely different."

The something was a 2005 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco, the introductory level wine in their range of Barbarescos.  The wine was decanted through an aerating filter while a thick slice of porchetta did its magic slowly cooking on the grill. 

Wonderful nose of flowers, cherry and tea in the wine.  Big, mouth filling wine with gripping tannin in the first sip or two.  Fruit, earth and some herbs in the taste.  An hour later the tannins had subsided a bit and this became a very welcoming and warming wine.  Just about perfect with the porchetta as the tannins and acid cut through the fattiness of pork.  Medium to full body, lots of fruit flavors, strong and lengthy finish. Close eyes and dream of Italy.

2005 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco.  14% alcohol and $26

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Sometimes a wine is very disappointing and the recently consumed Michel-Schlumberger 2007 Dry Creek Valley Syrah, La Source, was one of them.  I was very happy with both the 2006 and 2008 vintages of this wine, but this 2007 bottle was tired. Dinner was a grilled flat iron steak cooked medium rare with minimal seasoning and a baked sweet potato with only butter, salt and pepper.  That's a meal that should shine with any good red wine.

Dark color to the wine and jam like nose of dark fruit.  Full bodied mouth feel and upfront, dark fruit flavors showed some promise, but about halfway through a large sip the tannin faded, the acid level seemed to decrease and the wine went flat.  I went into a major swirling fit to get more air into the wine, but that was of no use here.  This bottle was sadly dead on arrival.  The finish was syrupy sweet and brief.  I have to attribute this to a bad bottle since my other experiences with this winery has all been positive.

We finished the meal with a Left Hand Brewing Company Black Jack Porter.  Good beer.

2007 Michel-Schlumberger Dry Creek Valley Syrah, La Source.

14.5% alcohol and $30

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Braised Duck Legs

I keep getting reminded that the simplest things can sometimes be the best.  Case in point was some braised duck legs.  The legs went into a hot skillet, skin side down and the heat went down to medium.  They browned for about seven minutes and were flipped over to cook for two minutes on the second side.  They came out of the pan and a veritable ton of chopped carrots, celery and onion went in the pan to sweat in the duck fat left from the searing.  They got a little higher heat to get a bit of browning, the duck was returned to the skillet and chicken stock was added to come part way up their sides.  A clove of garlic went in also.  The whole thing went uncovered into the oven for forty-five minutes.

The result was totally crisp duck skin over luxurious meat and pot veggies "to die for."  The stock reduced down to a syrup and was spooned over the duck.  Simple and delicious.  I had done a version of this several times but this was the first time I braised the legs uncovered and it truly elevated this dish.

The wine was a 2006 Louis Jadot Cote de Nuits Villages, Le Vaucrain.  You can read about it here since this was a second bottle to go with a very similar meal.  The wine was allowed to breathe for the entire time it took to cook the meal and it helped the wine to bloom much quicker than the first bottle.

2006 Louis Jadot Cote de Nuits Village Le Vaucrain.  13.5% alcohol and $30.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hard Apple Cider

Definitely autumn weather in this area and a new batch of hard ciders is showing up on the shelves of the local markets.  They are much more than a seasonal taste, but with barely warm and sunny days and brisk nights they do tend to be a little special at this time of year.

The latest to find its way home was a Crispin , Artisanal Reserve Cider.  This is a completely natural cider with nothing added except for some organic honey.  It's unfined and unfiltered so it is a cloudy cider with lots of sediment.

Definitely apples and yeast on the nose with bits of baked goods popping in  as well.  Bright, crisp, fresh and fruity taste of apples.  The honey is a grace note here, and there also seems to be an earthiness, almost a roasted mushroom taste as well.  There's a sweet sour finish that is very refreshing. 

Dinner was spiced and pan seared pork chops with sauteed apples and a reduced cider and mustard sauce to add more flavor.  Since a quarter cup of the Crispin Cider went into the sauce it matched up perfectly with the cider.  Good stuff.

Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider, Artisinal Reserve.  6.5% alcohol and $6 for 22 ounces.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


One very interesting thing about the world being one, big wine market is that I keep getting to taste wines made from grapes I can't pronounce and that until the last ten years I knew nothing about.  That's the case with this bottling of Bodegas Docampo's Vina do Campo 2011 from the Ribeiro region of northwest Spain. The wine is a blend of 70% Treixadura and 30% Torrontes. 

The nose on this bottle was like a walk in a spring garden with aromas of clean, fresh, spring flowers and herbs. Tart and sharp on the front of the tongue, the wine was sweetish and full bodied along the sides of the tongue.  The flavors were a mix of orange zest and lime curd.  The mouth feel on the wine was surprisingly rich and full bodied, but the acid at the end gave it a palate cleaning refresh.  It reminded somewhat of a Gruner Veltliner from Austria. 

We drank the bottle with some loin of Alaskan cod that was coated in panko bread crumbs and baked quickly in a hot oven. The fish was sauced with just some lemon juice.  Good combination as the finish on the wine matched up well with the richness of the cod.  Well priced and tasty wine. 

2011 Bodegas Docampo, Vina do Campo.  12% alcohol and $15.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Few American Cheeses

It wasn't that long ago that the term American cheese meant a square of nondescript, yellow-orange, slices that were mostly used to top hamburgers.  That's no longer the case as a recent sampling proved.  Clockwise from the bottom....

Reny-Picot, a brie style cheese out of Michigan.  Soft, buttery, rich and very tasty.  From cow's milk.

Meadow Creek Dairy's Appalachian from Virginia.  Medium firm cheese with notes of lemon and grass.  Almost toast like at the end.  Melted easily on the tongue.  Cow's milk.

Crave Brothers Les Freres from Wisconsin.  A washed rind cheese with a medium soft body.  Fruity and earthy with a hint of mushrooms.  Cows again.

Laura Chenel Chevre with herbs from California.  Tart, sharp, creamy and delicious goats milk cheese. 

All four were good but the Appalachian won my heart.  Great stuff.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


It has been unseasonably cool here the last couple of days.  That called for some late autumn or early winter food to warm things up.  What eventually hit the plate was some beef short ribs slowly braised in red wine and tomatoes for three hours, with some creamy polenta beside them on the plate.

The wine in the pot with the ribs was a 2011 Ali, Sangiovese di Toscana IGT.   Since the ribs didn't require the entire bottle the rest went down easily with dinner.

Very simple red wine here with a nose of pure Sangiovese cherries and herbs.  Medium to light bodied wine with pure and simple flavors, great acid and just enough tannin to hold the wine together.  The wine had no desire to be anything more than that.  Good juice to wash down a good meal.

2011 Ali Sangiovese di Topscana IGT.  12.5% alcohol and $9.99.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Post Pig Party Whiskeys

Following all the pig and the wine from a few weeks ago the evening ended with a sampling of Irish whiskeys - the ones with an 'e' before the 'y' as opposed to their Scottish brethren.

Starting at the left is Bushmill's single malt, 16 year.  It is aged in bourbon, sherry and port barrels.  Tons of fruit in this stuff with hints of nuts and a bit of malt.  Really tasty in the mid palate.  Warm and wonderful and classy in the back of the throat.  My favorite of the three.

Tulamore Dew Special Reserve 12 year.  This one saw three barrels also, virgin, bourbon and sherry.  Light and flowery with hints of honey up front and very mellow in the middle with no flavors predominating.  A little herbaceous toward the end.  Definitely the lightest of the three. 

Jameson Gold Reserve.  There was no age statement on this bottle and until recently it was only available in airport duty free shops.  Two barrels on this one - bourbon and Oloroso sherry.  Strongest and most interesting nose with cinnamon and vanilla  being most prominent.  Wonderful fruit and grain taste, rich and full with some peppery notes at the end.  Good stuff.

All were 40% alcohol.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Twin Peaks, Part 2

The second wine that was opened for dinner, and it was opened simultaneously with the Tresor discussed below, was also from 2001.    That wine was a Niebaum Coppola Rubicon from the Rutherford AVA in Napa Valley.

This wine had a broken cork problem and the only way to open the bottle was to push the remains of the cork into the wine and pour the wine through a filter into a decanter. 

This wine was a bit closed and not revealing a great deal for the first ten minutes, but after that it grew more and more remarkable the longer it breathed.  There were wonderful aromas of fruit and earth and the taste was full of sweet, dark cherries, some red currants and a bit of anise.  Super structure to this wine with the tannins being fully incorporated and the wine being smooth and refreshing.  The finish was long, full and delicious.  At the very end there was a touch of earth and leather that made this wine even more appealing.  The wine was a blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot.  It's remarkable what one can do with grape juice.

These two wines differed in that the Tresor tasted a bit younger than the Rubicon to me, but that's not saying the Rubicon tasted old.   The Tresor seemed more fruit forward, but certainly could never be described as a fruit bomb.  The Rubicon seemed slightly more complex, primarily in that wonderful finish.   Both were remarkable wines and a true treat to drink.

Niebaum-Coppola Rubicon.  14.14% alcohol and a $100 release price.