Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving #2

The second bottle at the Thanksgiving meal was a 2008 Penner-Ash Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley.  2008 was an excellent vintage in the Willamette Valley and it certainly showed in this wine.  Everything about this wine had come together; the fruit, the tannin, the acid and its sense of place.  All were in perfect balance and made for a great wine.   The body was medium and not overpowering and the finish was long and said 'goodbye' with a sense of ripe fruit. 

2008 Penner-Ash, Shea Vineyard, Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley.  13.5% alcohol and $50.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fontodi, Vigna del Sorbo

Fontodi Chianti Classico
The first of the Thanksgiving wines was a bottle aged Chianti.  The wine was a 2004 Fontodi Chianti Classico, Vigna de Sorbo Riserva.  It took a few minutes for the wine to begin showing any aromas but when it did, about five minutes in, it was fantastic.  Ripe red fruit smells were set over the quintessential smell of Tuscan earth.  Flavor wise the tart, red cherries were great, but this wine had a darker and richer side to it.  The wine is 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 90% Sangiovese and the darkness probably came from the Cabernet.  Hints of leather and graphite only added to its appeal.

Smooth and mellow and fully mature this wine was as good as Chianti gets.    I purchased it six years ago and it has been resting in the cellar since that time with two of its litter mates.  Extremely happy with this wine.

2004 Fontodi, Chianti Classico Riserva, Vigna del Sorbo.  14% alchol and $55 six years ago.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

While turkey is the traditional entree on this holiday, when it's a small crowd of two it's fine to go with a pheasant.  This bird is ready for stuffing with shallots, carrots, garlic, white peppercorns, parsley sage, rosemary and thyme.   For all of you celebrating, thank you for the readership. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kinkead Ridge - A Fond Farewell

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened"...... Dr. Seuss
There was some sadness over the weekend as the last wines from estate grapes were released by the folks at Kinkead Ridge winery in Ripley, Ohio.  The last two, brutally cold winters completely devastated the vineyard, the property changed hands and the new owners of the land will not be replanting.  The winery itself was sold to different owners and remains open and an ongoing operation, albeit with purchased grapes and juice. 

The red wines were from the 2013 vintage, before the bad winter of 2014.  The whites were released previously, but these reds had been aging in barrels until being bottled recently.

Cabernet Franc.  The nose was somewhat closed but with some swirling one could smell the fresh, red fruit and some vanilla.  The flavors were bright cherries with a nod to some darker fruit.  There was plenty of spice in the wine as well, primarily cinnamon.  It reminded me most of a Loire valley red wine,  The finish was smooth and long and at 13.3% alcohol it was very well balanced for drinking.  $21.95 and 143 cases produced.

Cabernet Sauvignon.  This was a darker and sharper wine than it's Cabernet Franc cousin.  Black cherries and  red plums were having a great time in this wine and the spices were singing harmony.  Much more tannin than in the other wine, and a little more acid as well.  Still, it was light and nimble and a total food wine.  The 12.7% alcohol content is further proof that very ripe grapes are not the only way to go.  $22.95 and 100 cases produced.

Petit Verdot.  This was the saddest wine in that I think it was my favorite of any vintage produced for this grape - and there will be no more.  PV is not a shy wine - it is in your face with flavor and extract.  This one showed some restraint.  Blackberries, dark plums, cassis and a whole cabinet full of spices were in this wine.  Suitable tannin and good acid balanced the fruity structure.  Usually with Kinkead Ridge  Petit Verdot I'm thinking of strong, blue cheese, but this wine will be great with beef and lamb.  My favorite of the three.  $24.95, 14.9% alcohol. 108 cases produced.

All of these will go in the cellar to rest for a year or two.  I still have a good amount older vintages of each of these wines to keep me occupied until these guys are ready. 

Dr. Seuss is correct. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Islay Whisky

I seem to be in one of those periods where single malt whisky keep appearing in my life.  I have certainly been in worse periods. 

The latest from a friend who had been traveling was a Laphroaig Select.  This was an interesting whisky.  It was unmistakably a Laphroaig with its sense of peat smoke and iodine, but it was a more refined version than I am used to drinking from Laphroaig.  There seemed to be bits of caramel or toffee in this whisky.  There was some elegance to this whisky and that made it quite appealing overall.  At the risk of heresy it seemed like a Laphroaig's salute to its arch rival Lagavulin, a salute that is usually done with the middle finger of either hand. Whatever the motivation or intent it was a delicious whisky.  At 40% alcohol it was highly drinkable.

The second whisky was a Bunnahabhain Toiteach.  Toiteach apparently translates to smoky, and this was a very smoky drink from a distillery that is know to stay on the fruitier side of whisky, and produces perhaps the lightest of the Islay malts.   A big, robust and almost chunky whisky that would have be best appreciated around a fire in the fire pit on a patio.  At 46%  alcohol it warmed all the way to the toes.  Very nice, but on the expensive side at $75.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Thanks to someone's kindness and good fortune there was some serious Scottish whisky to drink.  In this case it was a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, the top of the line of the Johnnie Walker whiskys, a blend of malt whiskys and grain whiskys. 

The best one word description would be elegant.  It is smooth, forward, and full flavored with hints of wood, herbs, oranges, and only a hint of smoke.  This goes down very easy.  It is a pleasure to drink, but this isn't near the top of my favorites list for Scottish Whisky.  And at the price ($200), it's not likely to make the list.

My three favorites remain Lagavulin 16 year old,  Highland Park 18 year old and Rosebank 16 year old - all half the price of the Blue Label.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunset and Older Riesling

A cold day yesterday, but sunset was gorgeous,  All afternoon a skillet  full of pork, sauerkraut and apples braised away in a low oven.  The sharp, acrid smell of the sauerkraut and the sweet smell of the apples made it hard to wait until dinner - a true perfume.

Reaching back into the deep, dark reaches of the cellar I came out with a Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett from the 2004 vintage.  It's obvious from the picture that the wine had turned golden with age; it was no longer the bright green gold of its youth.  Deep aromas of ripe apples and grilled lemons filled the glass. 

While the color may have aged the wine was still tart and crisp with apple and grapefruit flavors.  There was a wonderful mouth feel to this wine, more like an auslese than a kabinett.  It was delicious with the food - sweet enough to counteract the sauerkraut and tart enough to cut through the fatty pork.  Wonderful stuff, but the last of my 2004 Rieslings. 

2004 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett.  8.5% alcohol and $22  eight years ago.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans' Day 2015

A very foggy morning this morning, Veterans' Day,  and since there was little to see it was a very introspective walk - a time to think of relatives and friends no longer here who gave their lives.
"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." – Mark Twain
Yesterday was the 240th  "birthday" of the United States Marine Corps and the celebration was for and with friends departed and still here.   Semper Fi, guys. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fungi, Moss and Riesling

Moss and Fungi

Yesterday's weather here put me in the mood for a good Riesling, and that was satisfied last night with a 2010 Alfred Merkelbach Urziger Wurtzgarten Spatlese.  Dinner was some spicy Hong Kong noodles with edamame and mushrooms. The wine was a perfect match.   Totally crisp and bright at the first sip this wine had just enough sweetness at the finish to balance out the heat from the sauce on the noodles. Merkelbach wines are among the best values I know.

Overnight the weather turned November-ish.  It was cool, damp, foggy and misty with intermittent light rain.  During our abbreviated walk this morning the dog and I came across this decaying log in the woods that was serving as a host for a number of its friends. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

New Territory and Evening Inspiration

The resident canine and I were out early this cold morning to explore a new trail that had been suggested to us by a park officer last week.  It runs near the bike path that we normally follow but is not marked on any of the maps and has a nearly hidden entrance.

It was a beautiful walk as the trail snaked its way down a hill to the river, passing though woods and open fields currently being re-forested.  The entire area is a nature preserve. The dog had a great time as it allowed her much more time off leash, though there is one section that runs through a legal deer hunting area and she was put back on her long leash through that area.  At this time of year one can't be too careful about those things. 

The sky was amazing.  Cold, crisp, clean, bright, cheerful and other similar words kept going through my mind.  The day was screaming at me to pick a tart, German Riesling for dinner.  So be it.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Rioja Evening

The weather was cooler and for the entire day a large pot of beef short ribs braised in the oven making the house smell wonderful.  They were braising with garlic, onions, carrots, tomatoes, celery, thyme and a dried ancho chili broken into pieces.  There was nothing shy about the food. 

We opted for an old style Rioja wine, a Ramirez de la Piscina Gran Reserva from the 2001 vintage.  It was opened and decanted about two hours before dinner.  Clean, dry earth aromas filled the decanter.  It was hard to detect much fruit, but the earthy aromas were wonderful.  By dinner the wine had opened considerably.  The fruit had come out in the nose and the earth had faded a bit.  It was a medium, red brick color.    The taste was not at all what I was expecting from the nose - the wine's primary taste was ripe fruit and not the earth.  It was still on the savory end of the spectrum but the fruit had a perfect bright and cheery flavor.  The body was just on the lighter side of medium. 

The beef was intense and rich, and the addition of the ancho chili had given it a spiciness and dryness as well as depth of flavor.

I was afraid that the over the top flavors of the short ribs might overpower the wine, but the wine had an austere quality that made it almost perfect with the richness of the beef, and the earthiness in each totally complimented the other  They made a handsome couple.

2001 Ramirez de la Piscina Gran Reserva.  14% alcohol and $40.  Another in the cellar.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Last Bloom

’Tis the last rose of summer
 Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
To give sigh for sigh
.....Thomas Moore
Not a rose, but a rain lily in a large pot on the patio with the strength for one last blossom for the year.  With the weather currently changing drastically to a much colder pattern the pot will be moved indoors this evening to winter over in a dark place. It will go back out in the early spring and provide another year of pink blossoms.  

The plant originated with my grandmother and has been passed down to me from my mother so there is always sadness when it has to come inside.  I believe a great glass of wine will melt that melancholy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Modest Burgundy

Nothing fancy here, just a simple red wine to go with a small steak.  The wine was an Albert Bichot, Bourgogne, Vieilles Vignes from the 2012 vintage.  Fresh cherry fruit, medium body, a nice dash of earthiness and just enough tannin and acid to hold it together.  One could do a lot worse.

2012 Albert Bichot, Bourgogne, Vieilles Vignes.  13% alcohol and $14.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Dragon's Breath and other notes

It's been awhile since anything was posted here, and that was due almost entirely to a nasty infection that required some strong antibiotics that precluded enjoying any of my favorite liquids (no alcohol).   That has passed and there is a wonderful lineup of bottles to come.

October is now gone and it is the morning fog and mist season along the Great Miami River where the resident canine and I walk almost every day.  Since 1981 when I saw the movie Excalibur fog has always been dragons' breath.  That was the name given to fog by Merlin the Magician in the movie.  It stuck with me.

Whatever it's called it can be quite beautiful and quite eerie at times.  It also changes by the minute.  All three photos were taken in a period of twenty minutes. 

And on a different day, a day in which my only camera was my I-phone, there was an amazing site.  A young, bald eagle was perched in a tree above the river.  We were able to walk to within a fair distance and watch him watching us.  He eventually turned his attention back to the river and soon launched into a dive and came up with a fat fish for his breakfast.  A rare sight considering that this river used to be a virtual sewer and that bald eagles were an endangered species.  Stricter environmental laws and more public awareness have certainly helped the river and the bird.