Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kinkead Ridge New Releases

A great morning visiting the Kinkead Ridge Winery in Ripley, Ohio for the release of their 2011 red wines. It's always a good trip and always fun seeing old friends. The most fun is restocking the cellar with some quality wines.  I did that in a big way this year as I thought as a group these 2011 wines were outstanding. One other thing made me happy, after several vintages of the wines creeping up to or beyond 15% alcohol, three of the four wines were less than 14% alcohol this vintage.  I can drink more of these wines with out needing a nap.

While all four were very good I had a definite favorite in the 2011 Syrah.  There was a deep color to the wine. Aromas of dark fruit, earth and a bit of raw meat were strong.  The flavor was rich with black raspberries and red plums.  There was also a sense of white pepper and cinnamon that came in at the finish.  I loved in this wine.  It leans most toward Europe with its flavors and mouth feel.  Perfect balance here among the acid, tannin and fruit.  13.5% alcohol and $21.  Only 44 cases produced.

The Cabernet Franc had a totally appealing flavor of bright, ripe cherries that seemed more toward the red end of the cherry spectrum.  Toss in some red currants and a bit of raspberry and it made for a great flavor profile.  Medium body on the wine with great acid.  Lengthy and happy finish.  $20 and 13.8% alcohol.  304 cases produced.

The Cabernet Sauvignon was its usual brooding self when it first hit the glass.  This wine was closed up for a minute or two and never did produce a strong aroma.  The flavors were like biting into the richest black cherry on the tree - fully developed sweetness but still with some tartness for balance.  There was some dark plum flavors and just a bit of graphite in this wine.  The tannin was strong in this wine and that added great texture and support for a few years of aging.  13.9% alcohol and $21.  300 cases produced.

The Petit Verdot was what I expected - deep, dark purple color and not a shy bone in its fruity body.  There are tons of blackberries and mulberries in this wine and more than a healthy dose of tannin to support the strong flavors.  That said, this wine was a bit lighter in its profile than the recent vintages and seemed more balanced.  The acid seemed stronger than recent years also.  I will stash mine away for a few years before pulling a cork on a bottle.  $22 and 14.4% alcohol.  82 cases produced.

With past experience with the same wines as a guide, I won't approach any of them for a year and don't expect them to hit their peak for four or five years.  When that time comes there will be some wonderful wines to open.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Portuguese Bargain

Mark Twain once reportedly said, "If the world ever ends I want to be in Cincinnati because everything there happens twenty years later."  That statement can be very true in regard to wine.

It has been very difficult to find more than one or two Portuguese wines in this area.  There is a lot of Port, but very few choices in dry red wines.  I stopped recently at a wine store that is not on my usual rounds, but is still worth checking out now and then.  There sat a selection of more than a dozen dry reds from Portugal.  Naturally a few came hone with me.

The first one I tried was the 2009 Casa Ferreirinha Esteva from the Douro region.  The wine is a blend of Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Barroca.  The wine was a bright garnet in the glass and aromas of fresh fruit, flowers and allspice just poured out of the glass.  It was fun to just sit, swirl and sniff.  The first sip was very tart with just ripe cherries and strawberries with some red currants thrown in for good measure.  Medium body and mouth feel, but it was the fruit dominated here.  The finish was sweet/sharp but rather short. After a bit of time the wine mellowed somewhat but its prime focus was still tart fruit. 

I drank this with some oven roasted chicken parts and some pasta and it was a good match.  This is definitely a summer red with all the refreshing acidity it carries.  I can't picture drinking it on a cold winter evening but on a hot day it was refreshing and pleasing.

2009 Casa Ferreirinha Esteva.  13% alcohol and $11. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Kinkead Ridge Petit Verdot 2005

Once in awhile everything seems to come together, and it certainly did on Sunday night.  There were still some fresh blackberries left from earlier in the week. There was a sale on beef tenderloin at the local market.  Finally this coming weekend marks the release of the 2011 red wines from Kinkead Ridge Winery.

I always try and drink an older vintage of their wines the week before the release of the new siblings to the world.  There was no need to change that this year.

The tenderloin was cut into filets and they were wrapped in bacon slices. They got a sear on the stove top in duck fat and a few minutes in the oven to come up to 110 degrees.  While they rested we made the sauce.

I drained the fat from the pan and set it back over high heat on a burner and added beef stock and cognac and a handful of the fresh blackberries.  That all reduced and the blackberries were crushed into the liquid.  Next in was a bit of tomato paste, a dash of blackberry vinegar and a smidgeon of blackberry preserves.    Finally the sauce was strained and put back in the skillet and a couple of tablespoons of butter was blended in until it emulsified.  The filet was sliced and set atop some of the sauce, and a little more was spooned over the top.  Wild rice, a few more blackberries and fresh tomatoes completed the picture.

Obviously this was no meal for a wimpy wine and the 2005 Petit Verdot will never be accused of that.  The color was as black as the berries and the flavor was just as full.  The aromas were strong with dry saddle leather, a little graphite, and tons of rich fruit.  Blackberries and cassis were the prominent flavors with an undercurrent of some blueberries as well.  Great tannin and wonderful acid gave the wine a great structure to support these flavors.  Age has mellowed it and brought all the parts together and it's drinking beautifully now. 

The wine was a remarkable match with the beef and wild rice.  The two complimented and favored each other because there were no shy flavors present.

2005 Kinkead Ridge Petit Verdot.  13.4% alcohol and $19.95  Three more in the cellar.

Happy National Dog Day

Our resident canine and squirrel exterminator, Scott. Also known as Dunbar's Lagavulin.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Bit O' Bubbly

There are times when only bubbles will suffice and yesterday and today certainly qualify.  It had been too long since I opened a true champagne and one of them was in the group of older wines I pulled to drink in the very near future. 

Lunch was very late yesterday so there were just some assorted snacks for dinner last night, but a bottle of Louis Caster Champagne a Damery Rose' was already chilled so the cork came out.  The wine was still fresh and alive with aromas of strawberry cake with hints of cardamon.  The wine was crisp and tart and the fruit flavors dominated.  Lots of bubbles that lasted for quite some time in the glass.  The finish was dry but fruity leaving the suggestion of the strawberries in the mouth.

I finished the wine late this morning with a brunch style meal.  There was a blackberry muffin left over from yesterday and there were egg filled burritos.  Warm flour tortillas were loaded with a cooked mixture of scallions, plum tomatoes, a seeded Serrano pepper and scrambled eggs.  A little sharp cheese was added as the tortillas were rolled. They were wrapped in foil and placed in a warm oven for a couple of minutes until the cheese melted and the entire thing was warm throughout.

The champagne had been sealed overnight with a stopper and it was still wonderful this morning, not having deteriorated at all.  The flavors of the muffins picked up on the strawberry notes in the wine and the eggs and peppers did the same.  This was almost a perfect combination.  Now it's nap time.

Louis Casters Rose' champagne a Damery.  12.5% alcohol and $50.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


The results of shopping at the local farmers' market yesterday were rather tasty. Plump and juicy blackberries were less than two hours off the vine. Dinner was beef tenderloin with a blackberry sauce and there will be blackberry muffins for breakfast this morning.  The sweetness of summer.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

White Rioja

I'm still into cleaning out older bottles and we definitely found a winner with this one.  The wine was a  2001 R. Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia, Vina Gravonia white Rioja, a 100% Viura wine.  I've had this wine for several years and bought it through a special offer from a merchant in California.

There was a special price on lobsters in the local market so while they rested in the refrigerator before hitting the steam bath I pulled this bottle out and gave it a thirty minute chill. 

Obviously there was some age to this bottle - apparent by looking through the glass.  When it hit the wine glass it was a beautiful golden color, but this wine was far from old.  It was fresh with tastes of lime zest, grapefruit, pears and golden raisins.  There was just a hint of oxidation in the taste and that simply added complexity.  The body was full and muscular with no signs of being dainty.  The finish was long and ended bone dry and crisp with the oxidation kissing the very end.  

The lobsters got their steam bath and I made two dipping butters - one with traditional lemon juice and the other with fresh, pulverized lemongrass steeped in the warm mixture for half an hour.  

I was amazed at how well this wine went with the lemongrass butter and lobster.  It was delicious with the lemon butter, but the oxidative note in the wine took to the lemongrass flavors and they embraced each other.  It was a remarkable flavor combination.  I tried a piece of bread dipped in the butter with the wine and while it was tasty it still needed the sweetness and salinity of the lobster to bring every thing together.  This was definitely a menage a trois situation.  As good as the three items were on their own they were much better together.

Sadly, this was my only bottle, though there is a a bottle of the reserve from 1996 still in the cooler.

2001 R. Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia, Vina Gravonia.  12.5% alcohol and $23 at time if purchase.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Jocelyn Cabernet Sauvignon

I'm in the process of drinking older wines to clear space for some new arrivals coming this autumn.  All the temperature controlled areas were full and a number of wines were ready.  It's a terrible task since a good number of these wines are singletons and I'm always afraid of drinking them early. 

The latest was a 2003 Jocelyn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  The first half of the bottle spent an hour in a decanter while a ribeye steak was grilled.  Inky dark color to the wine with lots of crushed black fruit aromas and oak in the nose.  Some intense swirling finally got some spices to come out but this was very much a fruit driven wine.  Lots of flavors of cassis, blackberries and blueberries in this wine.  Good acid and solid tannins gave the wine a good framework.  The finish was a bit sweet but was good in its length.   No signs of this wine being tired or old. 

There was a chili powder, salt and sugar rub on the rib steak which meant it needed a wine with some big flavors and the Jocelyn certainly was up to the task.  There wasn't a lot of subtlety.

Two days later the wine was even better.  A few nuances of dry earth and some herbaceousness had developed.  It was paired with the remainder of the rib steak which was reheated quickly and then  thinly sliced.  Much better meal and a great combination.

2003 Jocelyn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  14.5% alcohol and $25 original purchase price.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday - Summer Afternoon

Refreshing mojito with fresh mint, limes, sugar, rum and club soda.  Life is good. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sempre Vive 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon

Since I loved both the 2006 and 2003 vintages of Romeo Vineyards Sempre Vive Cabernet Sauvignon I jumped at the chance to pick up a few bottles of their 1998 vintage.    What a radically different wine it was from those other two vintages and what a radically different wine it was from day one to day two.

Despite being described as  having "dark flavors" the first day the wine was harsh and sharp, even with an hour in a decanter.  The color more resembled Burgundy than Cabernet Sauvignon.  The flavors were bright, red cherries with a good dose of stems.  Both the tannin and the acid were strong.  Ripe or dark are not two words I would ever use to describe this wine.

That said the wine improved greatly by the time a small steak came off the grill.  The acid and the tannin were fine with the beef flavors and I enjoyed the wine.  The finish seemed a little short as well.  The problem was just that it was radically different from both its description and the other two vintages with which I was familiar.  The second half of the wine stayed in the bottle under a vacuum seal until the next evening.

The next evening the remains of the steak were sliced and served at room temperature with some mustard and a flavored mayonnaise, sliced fresh tomatoes with olive oil and salt and toasted, rustic bread.  I poured the second half of the wine into the decanter and then into the glass.  The color was still light but the twenty four hours with some air exposure really helped this wine.  The cherry flavors seemed to marry better with the reduced sense of tannin and acid.  There was more depth to the wine and the finish was smoother and longer.  In short - it took that long for this wine to come together. 

It is still very different from the other two vintages, but it's a wine I liked.  I think it would go more with chicken from the grill rather than beef, but it was a good wine.  There are two more of these in the cellar so over the next couple of months I'll drink them and look for bottle variation.

1998 Romeo Vineyards Sempre Vive Cabernet Sauvignon.  $20.  13.6% alcohol.  256 cases.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chablis Champs Royaux

The wine in the previous post, Santenay,  took my mind to a spring walk in the woods with some dark aromas highlighted by spring growth.  Yesterday's wine was more like a late summer afternoon full of clean air, summer flowers and sunshine when the fall fruits are starting to mature.    The wine was a 2007 William Fevre Chablis, Champ Royaux, and entry level wine from this producer. This is a wine that I generally buy and drink and do not think about aging, so finding this almost six year old wine in the bottom of the cellar where the bottles that need aging time usually live was a surprise. 

It got a slight chill while I worked on dinner - a fillet of Arctic Char, a sliced tomato and some faro dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.   The first pour was beautiful.  The color was light gold with green edges to it and showed no signs of being six years old.  The aroma was full of apple and sweet green grapes and citrus zest.  The flavor was dominated by the apples, but not the sharp, tart apples of a young Chablis. These were sweeter apple flavors from a richer fruit and were kissed by a bit of honey.  The green grapes came through on the end of the wine with that flavor lingering on the sides of the tongue at the very back.  All the wonderful Chablis acidity was there to keep things alive and fresh.

I feared when I saw this wine that I might have waited too long to drink it, but the truth is that I may have consumed the others too young.  This was a wonderful wine that seemed more like a premier cru than an entry level wine.  As with the Santenay - this wine made me very happy.  I have both the 2009 and 2010 vintages of this wine in the cellar and they have now moved to the "hold" section. 

2007 William Fevre Chablis,  Champs Royaux.  12.5% alcohol and $19.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


I was doing some casual reading and even though the material had nothing to do with wine the author remarked on the "wonderful aromas of grapes in Santenay."   That immediately caused a 'jonesing' for a red Burgundy so out came a 2003 Santenay Premier Cru, Grand Clos Rousseau from Jean-Claude Boisset.  Dinner was a small rib steak seasoned only with salt and pepper and quickly grilled.  Gnocchi with brown butter and fried sage leaves filled out the plate.

The wine got about half an hour in a decanter while I waited on dinner and out came the balloon glasses for this ten year old wine. The color was beautifully mature but with no browning or fading at the edges.  The aromas of crushed cherries sat on top of a base that smelled like the forest floor in spring just as things begin to grow - some dark earthy aromas highlighted by bit of fresh foliage.  I closed my eyes and stuck my nose in the glass and it was easy to picture myself in late March walking in the woods just as it was coming to life for the spring.

With some constant swirling  the fruit finally came to dominate the earth smells.

The wine had a medium body and plentiful but fine tannins.  The predominant flavor was crushed red cherries with a few of the pits mixed in for good measure.  The earthiness was there as well as was the tiniest bit of spice.  The acid level was strong but matched the wine and kept it from being sweet.  Great length to the finish.

Just wonderful with the beef, and even better a day later with some left over pork ribs.  Classy wine that for two meals made me very happy by transporting my mind to wonderful, imagined places far removed from the reality of the day.  Hard to ask more of a wine than that.

2003 Jean Claude Boisset, Santenay Premier Cru. Grand Clos Rousseau.   13% alcohol and $35 a few years ago.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Long Island Meets Ohio

A few times a year we get a supply of striped bass from Long Island NY in this area and one of those times was this past week.  It ranks with halibut and cod as one of my favorite white fleshed fish.  It a little tougher than halibut and cod with a texture more like tender lobster tail. The flavor is wonderful.  It's shone above with local tomatoes and basil and local sweet corn cut off the cob and mixed with red onion and basil and dressed with cider vinegar and olive oil.

The fish was seasoned with salt and pepper then seared quickly in a pan and then oven roasted for ten minutes.  The sauce is a mixture of concentrated orange juice, champagne vinegar, saffron, salt, white pepper and butter all blended together over low heat and then allowed to mellow for a couple hours.

The wine with dinner was a 2009 Kinkead Ridge Viognier Roussanne.  This a blend that changes annually depending on the availability of the two grapes involved.  With this wine vintage truly matters.

The 2009 was a blend of 79% Viognier and 21% Roussanne and that is really near the sweet spot for me.  The years where the percentage of Roussanne is much higher are good, but they are not as good as the ones with the near 3:1 ratio.

The wine was in full bloom just a couple minutes after the cork came out.  Great color and a nose of melon, pears, green grapes, orange peel and spice.  The texture of this wine was great, it wasn't too viscous.  The flavors were ideal with the orange juice and a pure delight with the saffron.

The wine also matched well with the corn and basil.  Great length to the finish which ended with enough acid to clear the palate for the next bite of food.  Excellent wine and a completely delicious meal.

And there was enough bass left over for a second night when I changed the flavorings entirely.

2009 Kinkead Ridge Ohio River Valley Viognier Roussanne.  14.2% alcohol and $17.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Vinho Verde

There was a good price on salmon a few days ago and I was in the mood for something spicy so I fixed some salmon cakes full of Sambal Oelek, red onion, a myriad of Asian spices including ginger and lemon grass and served them with rice cooked in coconut milk.   It's a recipe I love and makes for a wonderful meal.

My "go to" wine for this dish was always a dry Riesling or a Gruner Veltliner, but this time I opted for a Gazela Vinho Verde from northern Portugal.  VV is always fresh and new which is one reason it translates as green wine.  The wine is not vintage dated.

It was almost transparent in the glass and smelled like just crushed, tart grapes.  The wine bordered on being sparkling as a multitude of bubbles lined the glass.  It was clean, crisp and fresh in taste with green grapes and Granny Smith apples being the primary flavors.  It finished with just the smallest amount of sweetness.  That sweetness at the end was near perfect with the salmon as it cooled a bit of the heat from the spices.  

The best part was the price.  At $6.99 it is hard to go wrong with this wine.

Gazela Vinho Verde.  9% alcohol and $7.