Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Foppiano Petite Sirah

I had such good luck reconnecting with the old friend in the post below, the Sterling Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, I decided to revisit another old friend.  This time it was a Foppiano Petite Sirah from Sonoma's Russian River Valley.  From the early 1990s to the early 2000s I hardly missed a vintage of this wine.  Then it seemed to disappear from the local market, but a bottle from the 2009 vintage made its way from the winery to my table courtesy of some friends who visited the winery in June.

There was never anything shy about this wine from Foppiano and it was good to see that things haven't changed.  The wine was inky dark but faded to a neon/electric purple on the edges of the glass.  The bouquet was very closed for a few minutes but eventually dark fruit aromas of blackberries, black raspberries and dry earth emerged.  This is a broad shouldered wine that makes no apologies for being big.  It is quite a mouthful, but there is acid and tannin to support the heavy fruit flavors of blackberries, blueberries and cinnamon.  This wine will never be elegant - it still tastes and feels rustic and that is maybe the best part of its charm.  It washed down a a grilled rib steak and some duck fat fried potatoes like the three were best friends for life.   Good stuff.

2009 Foppiano Vineyards Russian River Valley Petite Sirah.  14.9% alcohol.  $20+, but this one was a gift.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Diamond Mountain

More than a significant number of years ago I was a a big fan of Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon from the northern end of Napa Valley.  From the mid-1970's thru the early 1980's  they were some of my favorite Napa wines. 

The winery changed hands more than several times since then and I would hate to guess how many winemakers they have been through.  During that process I drifted away from them but a year ago I found a sale on their 2006 Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and brought home a bottle.   

It has been perfect grilling weather here so I smothered a beef tri-tip roast in some mild chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper and porcini mushroom powder.  It got seared over direct heat on both sides and then moved to a cooler section of the grill to finish cooking.

Mountain grapes from Napa are not shy and there was nothing shy about this wine.  Full throttled and concentrated flavors of dark red cherries, cassis and plums could stand up to any grilled meet.  The wine had a wonderful nose of with vanilla, cinnamon, and plums.  The more I swirled the glass the more bouquet it produced.  There was a ton of tannin up front, but that smoothed out in the mid-palate and then wrapped itself around the tongue for a good, dry finish.  Quite a mouthful of wine and through the course of the evening it seemed to get better.  My neighbor is not a fan of "big" red wines and after a sip he put the glass aside.  An hour later he took another sip and fell in love with this wine.  Between the two of us the rest of the bottle disappeared over the next hour. 

Good stuff and a nice reunion with Sterling Vineyards.

2006 Sterling vineyards Diamond Mountain Cabernet, Napa Valley.  14.5% alcohol and $40 sale price.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer Riesling

Beautiful weather has moved into this area with unseasonably low temperatures and humidity.  It's weather that makes one hungry for something from the grill - like an oak roasted chicken with grilled peaches.  The chicken had a light smoky flavor from the wood but was also stuffed with fresh sage, tarragon, and thyme so it had some herbaceousness to it as well.  The peaches were rubbed with olive oil and started cut side down, then flipped over basted with some of the chicken drippings. 

The wine was a 2007 Alfred Merkelbach Urzinger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett.  The bottle got a chill in the freezer for twenty minutes and then was decanted for half an hour while the chicken rested.  Flowery nose with crisp apples, tart limes and earthy slate aromas pouring from the glass.  Wonderful full flavors of lime and apples with hints of other stone fruits.  Good with the chicken but absolutely wonderful with the grilled, fresh peaches.  The finish started sweet and then the acid kicked in to counteract it.  Wonderful balance and beautiful pairing.

2007 Alfred Merkelbach Urzinger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett.  9% alcohol and $18.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


You must lie upon the daisies and discourse in novel
       phrases of your complicated state of mind.
The meaning doesn't matter if it's only idle chatter
       of a transcendental kind.
Sir William Schwenck Gilbert from Patience, act 1

Daisies blooming by the front door.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tavel Rose'

Hot and steamy here this evening but I found an antidote, a 2012 Chateau de Segries Tavel Rose'.  The color was like a bouquet of neon roses and the bone dry wine had flavors of strawberries, tart cherries and a bit of saffron.   There was a veal chop marinated in olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, rosemary, thyme and red pepper flakes before being grilled to medium rare.  A perfect summer meal with some rice and small salad.

2012 Chateau de Segries Tavel Rose'.  14.5% alcohol and $17

Monday, July 15, 2013


Crisp, sharp, tart, edgy symmetry, steely, and totally refreshing.  The wine was Muscadet Sevre et Maine and the meal was pan seared Lake Erie Walleye with just a few herbs and lemon juice.  Remarkable combination.

2010 Stephane et Vincent Perraud, Selection des Cognettes Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie.  12% alcohol and $15.

The sculpture - Ohio Star by Joel Perlman.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Leg of Lamb

It has been years since I prepared a leg of lamb. It's not that I don't like leg of lamb, it's just that they are too big and I usually de-bone them and cut them into smaller roasts.  A few days ago that changed when I cruised by the pre-packaged meat section of a local store and discovered two legs of lamb that had been mis-marked.  After pointing this out to an employee, he just shrugged and said, "well, someone will get a bargain."  That someone was me as I could not pas up paying $.99 a pound instead of the $9.99 a pound true price.  I froze one and the results of the other are pictured above.

I treated the leg like a Boston Butt pork roast, covering it with sugar, salt and pepper overnight and then cooking it over indirect heat on a charcoal grill.  I added some apple wood for smoke and kept the temperature low - between 250 and 325 degrees with the goal being the lower end.  It came off the grill after four hours and rested under foil for another hour to re-distribute the juices.  It was carved and a sauce made of some of the pan drippings, the accumulated juices on the resting platter, some vinegar and some fresh mint all stirred together with a bit of butter at the very end. 

The wine was a 2010 Kinkead Ridge Cabernet Franc which was full bodied, fruity and an excellent match for the lamb.  Lots of bright flavors in the wine of cherries and red currants, great acid and enough tannin to hold everything together.

Kinkead Ridge Ohio River Valley Cabernet Franc.  15.3% alcohol and $20.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Walk in the Park

After a too long stretch of hot, steamy weather and record rainfall over the last two weeks a cold front blew all of the offending stuff to the south and east. The result was a cool, almost clear morning that was perfect for a long walk with the camera. There is a 256 acre sculpture park less than thirty miles from me and it was perfect for an early morning hike to work up a good appetite for dinner and a glass of wine in the evening.

After all of the rain the park was an unseasonal, bright green.  Sadly, the camera battery was low and I got very few pictures, but the park was wonderful and earned a return visit with a fully charged battery.

The above photo is of The Web by Brian Monaghan.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pinot Noir Surprise

In mid-April I was at an event that was holding a silent auction and when the dust cleared I came home with a gift basket that included the 2009 Gruet Pinot Noir from New Mexico, a state known almost entirely for sparkling wines produced by Gruet.  The Gruet sparklers are delicious and a great value so I admit to being drawn to that particular gift basket of New Mexico products primarily because of the bottle of still wine.  It sat in the cellar until a whole Coho salmon arrived from Alaska during the Independence Day weekend.

The salmon was introduced to the grill and we opened the wine.  The wine was different.  It was fresh with fruit and had a wonderful aroma of red cherries and a strawberry or two, but to me the tannins and the finish were drier than I was expecting.  New Mexico is a very dry climate and to me this wine picked up on that. It had a finish that conjured up a sense of being arid.  My first thought was that it tasted that way because I know the climate where the grapes were grown.

There were several of us drinking the wine and the last person to try it was a big fan of pinot noir, but he had no idea what he was drinking or where it was from.  While he didn't immediately come up with the word arid he thought the wine was really dry on the finish and "not in a way I'm used to."  He liked the wine as much as the others who were drinking it and after a good discussion arid was the word the group came up with to describe the finish.  This wine tasted of the place the grapes were grown.  Fascinating.

Oh, it was great with the salmon.

2009 Gruet New Mexico Pinot Noir.  13% alcohol. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Independence Day was full of appetizers before the main course. Pictured above is triangles of toasted multi-grain, multi-seed bread spread with a honey and dill mustard and topped with smoked salmon and half of a cherry tomato.  Another sprig of dill finished the triangles.  They didn't last long.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

2004 Steltzner Cabernet Sauvignon

There was a good party for Independence Day on July 4, despite the fact that we had five inches of rain during the afternoon and evening.  We simply moved the dining indoors and waited for a break in the rain to launch the fireworks.

My wine contribution to the party was a 2004 Steltzner Vineyards Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.  The wine had been resting comfortably in the cellar for a few years since I received it as a gift.  From a liquid perspective it was the hit of the party.

The color was deep and dark. The wine was closed for a minute or so before fruity aromas began to develop.  With some swirling and waiting there were dark cherries and strawberries, a bit of vanilla and a hint of cinnamon in the nose.  There was full throttled flavors of cherries, both dark and red.  This was not a wimpy wine as  there was considerable body to it.  Firm tannins from oak and a surprisingly high amount of acid held this one together.  At the very end a bit of tart cherries showed up, followed by just a bit if heat.  Nicely balanced wine that was great with pulled pork.

2004 Steltzner Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District.  15.1% alcohol.  Price $

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

2003 Sempre Vive

Having had such a good experience with the 2006 vintage of Romeo Vineyards Sempre Vive Cabernet Sauvignon a month or so ago I manage to locate a couple bottles from the 2003 vintage.

This one was a tiny bit higher in alcohol, but it was still smooth and elegant.  The cherries and plums were full flavored and that bit of graphite was stronger here than in the 2006 bottle.  It's a taste and sensation I very much like in moderation.  This was still a young wine with a soft but firm bit of tannin at the finish.

Dinner was a rib steak rubbed with a mixture of chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, sugar and pepper and allowed to rest for four hours in the refrigerator before hitting the grill.  Full flavored steak that really stood up to this wine.  Very good together and probably a meal that will be repeated.

Romeo Vineyards Sempre Vive Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  14.5% alcohol and $20.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mostly Local

Now that this area is well into its growing season there is a good amount of local produce appearing in local markets and farmers' markets. The meal pictured above took full advantage of this situation as only three things in the photo are not local.  The rice is from India, the lemon juice and olive oil on the greens are from Florida and Italy respectively.

The fish is a loin of Lake Erie Walleye topped by a basil cream sauce.  Local cream was reduced with basil from the garden until it thickened to a sauce.  The diced carrots, onions and celery in the rice were all from the Thursday farmers' market.  The same goes for the arugula (roquette).  The tomato was a yellow plum, the first from a neighbor's plant. 

The wine for the meal was the 2012 River Village Cellars Ohio River Valley white wine.  It as crisp, fresh and alive and with a light chill just about perfect with the meal.