Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kinkead Ridge - 2012 Red Wines

The Saturday before Labor Day is always the release of red wines from Kinkead Ridge Vineyards in Ripley, Ohio.  As much as Labor Day itself and the start of football season in this area the wine release has become my first signpost that summer is ending and we are moving toward fall weather here with its warm dry days and cool nights.  It's my favorite time of year.

Sadly, there were only two wines instead of four this year as the wines were from the 2012 vintage that was not a kind one in this area.  Both wines were on the second label for Kinkead Ridge, River Village Cellars.  Ron Barrett, the co-owner, did not think the 2012 wines were good enough for the main label so they went to the second label.

My initial impressions:

2012 Cabernet Franc.  This wine actually made me smile.  There is a good amount of vanilla and oak in the nose, but they were fresh aromas.  There is a lot of up front flavors of red cherry and spice.  There's good acidity and tannin to hold every thing together.  When the flavors faded at the end this was like drinking a rose' wine with more extracted flavors.  This is simply a happy wine.  It's also not one to save for a long period of time, though I will stow away a bottle for the future.  174 cases produced.  14.3% alcohol and $14.99.

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This is a much darker wine than the Cabernet Franc.  Its also very closed up at the moment and it took a lot of swirling and a second glass to get the aromas flowing.  When it did open up it was with earthy aromas rather than fruit.  The taste was red cherries like the Cabernet Franc, but there was an underlying darker element as well.  It seemed most like black raspberries to me.  Again, there was good tannin and acid and there was a much longer finish.  In six months or a year I will prefer this wine to the Cabernet Franc, but it still has some growing up to do in the bottle.  172 cases produced.  14.5% alcohol.  $14.99

Both wine are very fairly priced.

As mentioned here before the 2014 vintage in this area was almost totally wiped out by the extended  and unusual below zero degree temperatures of the past winter.  Kinkead Ridge will have no white wines from vinifera vines in the spring of 2015 and no reds in the fall of 2016.  With that in mind I also restocked on some white wine while I was there.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


 “A growing body of research suggests that many of the health problems associated with eating beef are really problems with corn-fed beef."

Michael Pollan ...The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
 Fortunately my local market specializes in grass fed beef,  Sliced tri-tip roast with orange tomatoes and a baked potato.   The wine was the second half of the Domaine de Nizas  in the posting just below this one.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rustic and Good

Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.
—  -Ernest Hemingway
The wine was a 2008 Domaine de Nizas from the Languedoc region of France. It was dark red in the glass and smelled insistently of the earth.  After a lot of swirling the fruit popped out of the glass but only as a companion to that sense of dry, dusty earth.  Full flavors of mixed dark fruits that never went over the top.  With six years of age the tannins had softened and integrated.  No elegance here, but a smooth and lasting finish.  60% Syrah, 35 % Mourvedre and 5% Grenache Noir.

2008 Domaine de Nizas.  14% alcohol and $12.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer Supper

Normal summer weather is finally here as temperatures and humidity are both far above what we have become accustomed to this year.  Time to move on to lighter fare....

Pictured above is a poached shrimp and white bean salad.  The salad is full of cannellini beans, thinly chopped fresh fennel, thyme and garlic all finished with a sherry vinegar, olive oil and fresh tarragon vinaigrette, fennel fronds for the garnish and set on some lettuce leaves.  With a couple of toasted baguette  slices and a glass of 2013 Kinkead Ridge White Revelation wine it made for a wonderful meal.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Heirloom Tomatoes & Zen

By nature a tomato is bound to assimilate. Fleshier plums and globes glory and mellow when cooked. Juicy globes offer the best of themselves raw. Tomatoes at their best lend rather than absorb. They require a cook to appreciate context, both of origin and possibility.

It is probably no coincidence that tomatoes occur naturally in the summer. It is probably wise to appreciate them as punctuation marks. At their best, tomatoes deliver a jolt, the end of a phrase, the question of what is to be, which inevitably curves back to the question of what was.

Molly O'Neill.  A Well-Seasoned Appetite.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Riesling, a Step Up

There was a small, post-birthday dinner for a friend Sunday evening with three wines.  Two of them are nearly gone from my memory because a bottle of 2006 Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling pushed them from consciousness.  I purchased three bottles about a year ago on a closeout sale and had yet to try one. 

The wine had a medium gold color in the glass and an initial bit of sulfur in the aroma.  Once the sulfur was gone there were aromas of honeysuckle and fall meadows full of dry grass and autumn flowers.  Mosel Rieslings tend to remind me of spring, but this Alsatian was all about the autumn.  The flavors tended toward apricots, nectarines and peaches and a bit of dried leaves from those trees.  The initial feeling was of sweetness, but that soon faded more to ripeness without sugar.  The finish was very dry and very long.

It was paired with toasted baguette slices with olive tapenade.  Very good together.

Beautiful wine.

2006 Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling.  13% alcohol and $50.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Regional Meal

If one believes in horoscopes then the stars aligned for a regional meal yesterday,  and it wasn't my local region - it was the Pacific Northwest.  An e-mail blast from a local market alerted me that they had just received a shipment of late run, Columbia River salmon at an attractive price.  As luck would have it I had just finished reading a recipe in the New York Times for a smoke cooked salmon and had resolved to try it the next time I saw a good price on fresh salmon.

Wondering through the wine department after picking up two center cut pieces of the fish I noticed that the staff was marking down some wines and one of them was a 2010 Ponzi Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from Oregon.  The wine somehow fell into my basket. 

Arriving home the fish received a dry rub of brown sugar, salt, pepper, mace and allspice and went into the refrigerator for five hours.  The rub was wiped off the fish and it was air dried for a few minutes and received a very light coating of oil.  It was cooked over indirect heat on the grill using oak as the primary wood, and the roiling smoke did most of the cooking.  Less than ten minutes later dinner was served.

The wine was a bit tart on the first taste.  That soon faded as the salmon became involved.  The body was light and the flavors were bright cherries and berries.  A bit of tannin kicked in at the end, but it was the fruit and tartness of the wine that really waltzed around the mouth with the salmon.  Interestingly, the wine was a blend of eleven different vineyards, so it was quite regional in and of itself.

A good meal that will be repeated.

2010 Ponzi Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.  13.6% alcohol and $20.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lamb Ribs

I don't often see lamb breast and ribs in the local market but last week there were two sections sitting toward the back of the case.  The price was very reasonable since this is not an often requested cut.  The times I used it before was generally to make lamb stock for a time consuming sauce for leg of lamb or rack of lamb.  This time I wanted to grill the lamb.

After a day of searching on the internet I combined two recipes and a method for cooking pork ribs.  The lamb was given a dry rub of salt, brown sugar, pepper, cinnamon, cumin and coriander.  They went on the grill over low, indirect heat and were turned and rotated every half hour for two hours.  After that they were wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in a brown paper bag for thirty minutes.

The low heat and long cooking time melted a significant part of the large quantities of fat in this cut of meat and tenderized the lean sections.  The outside was crisp and crunchy and the inside was warm an inviting.  There was an heirloom cherry tomato and mozzarella salad with basil and red wine vinegar to help fill out the plate, and olive oil and sea salt rubbed baguette slices toasted.

The wine was a 2013 Arnot Roberts Rose' from California discussed here.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

In the Name of Science

There was an experiment early this afternoon and I have to say it was a delicious experiment.

Pictured above are three "mini" Manhattans .  Each was made with one ounce of Rittenhouse rye whiskey and one half ounce of Dolin sweet vermouth.  Each was stirred with fresh ice and poured into a cordial glass.  The variable was the bitters that was used. The three bitters were Fee Brothers Orange, Fee Brothers Cherry and Angostura, which is the traditional bitters for a Manhattan.

The differences were anything but subtle, but those differences showed up mostly in the finish of the drink.  The rye and vermouth were prominent on entering the mouth, but after some swishing and swallowing the aftertastes were distinctly different in the three drinks.  The orange bitters was tart, fresh and perky and tasted like orange peel.  The cherry bitters were sweet, smooth and comforting and left a finish like chomping a sweet cherry.  The Angostura was was strong and bitter with a mixture of flavors that only come from Angostura.

I like all three so the decision would be what I was in the mood for at the time, or when the drink was being consumed.  The orange bitters might be best on the rocks as an aperitif while the cherry bitters might best be used in an after dinner drink served neat.  The Angostura could fill in nicely when some tradition was needed. 


Friday, August 8, 2014

Pine Ridge Merlot

Merlot has been out of fashion for quite some time in the U.S. thanks in great part to the movie Sideways which made it into a joke.  I don't drink a great deal of it myself, but when I saw a potentially good bottle in a close-out bin I put it in my cart.

The wine was a 2009 Pine Ridge, Crimson Creek, Napa Valley Merlot.  It sat at the house for several weeks before the right menu popped up as an excuse to open it.  That menu was a maple and orange lacquered duck breast with fresh fava beans and a cherry tomato and mozzarella salad. 

The wine was dark in the glass and had a strong dark grape and red cherry aroma to it.  It was definitely a fruity wine with cherry flavors and a sense of cola.  The acid was correct and the tannins were soft.  On the finish there was a sense of earthiness that was its best characteristic to me.  With the ingredients in the duck breast the soft tannins were probably a blessing.  Very good with the duck - highly drinkable, definitely pleasurable but not memorable. 

2009 Pine Ridge Crimson Creek Merlot.  14.1% alcohol and a closeout price of $15.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


The photo is a Cafe' Tonic and few things could be simpler.  The ice goes in the glass followed by three ounces of tonic water.  Float one ounce of room temperature or colder espresso over the top.  Very dry and tart but the carbonation makes it delicious. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Manhattan Monday Redux

Round #2 of Manhattan Monday. Two parts Rittenhouse bottled in bond Rye whiskey with one ounce of Dolin sweet vermouth and a dash or two of angostura bitters. Sorry Mr. Bond, stirred and not shaken. A black cherry for garnish.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

2012 Chablis

The newest featured wine in Eric Asimov's New York Times Wine School (link) is Chablis.  This is one class I can really get into since this is my favorite white wine.  The 2012 William Fevre was one of the wines he recommended in case the three he chose to spotlight were not possible to find.  I didn't bother looking for those three since this wine was already in the cellar and this was the perfect excuse to open it and drink it.

The colors in the picture above are a near perfect description of this wine.  Bright green and yellow colors in the glass led to a young, fresh and bright taste.  There's some gray to reflect the mineral qualities of this wine and some bright sunshine to let one know that there's nothing hidden here.  The taste is mostly about that sense of freshness, though there is fresh fruit coming through.

I paired it with a loin of fresh walleye from Lake Erie. The fish was pan seared and finished in the oven with nothing but butter and lemon juice.  Simple, uncomplicated and delicious - just like the wine.

2012 William Fevre Chablis Champs Royeaux. 12.5% alcohol and $20.  A true bargain.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Surprising Dolcetto

I was out visiting some young puppies on Wednesday evening and came home with a nice wine after playing with ten, almost six weeks old Irish Setter kids.  It was difficult not bringing home a puppy as well, especially the boy pictured above.

Among the many hobbies the owners of the litter have in addition to setters (Gordon, Irish and Irish Red and White) is wine.  What a wonderful combination!  In this case their interest is in making wine rather than just in drinking it. I brought home several bottles and opened a 2012 Dolcetto for dinner last night with a grilled rib steak.

Very purple and young color gave way to a grapey taste that is the hallmark of Dolcetto.  The win was full bodied and very fruit forward.  It didn't taste Italian because that wonderful sense of earth was missing, but there was enough tannin and acid to make it a very easy drinking and tasty wine.  With a small steak on a summer evening it was close to perfect.

There was enough juice for only two cases plus so I suspect this is the most limited production wine I've had. 

2012 Shaker Hill Dolcetto.  12.5% alcohol.  2.5 cases produced.