Friday, December 30, 2016

Talisker

Christmas Eve concluded with a not so wee dram of Talisker from the Isle of Skye.  In this case it was the Distiller's Edition. After it's original maturation in oak casks it was transferred to Amorosa sherry casks.  That gave it more color and depth.  Still it was sharp and pungent with smoky aromas and nice touch of sweetness at the very end.  It's more refined than the regular bottling.  It was also delicious. About $75.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Eve

If nothing else it was an expensive Christmas Eve. Our usual group gathered and it seems that the stars converged to suggest everyone bring an older wine.  The meal was the usual standing rib roast of beef cooked in three sections so that the well done, medium and rare crowds all had their choice cut.

Let's start with what was the stunning surprise of the evening, the order of preference of the three wines, chosen by the wine fans in the crowd.

The third choice was the 2003 Opus One from Napa Valley.  Big, bold and fruity, and to my palate it was dried out.  Throughout the evening it never bloomed.  At $250 a bottle it should have been blooming and singing.  Instead it was boring.

The second choice was a 2001 Chateau Lafite Rothschild.  This wine was closed at the start but eventually began to open.  Wonderful, restrained fruit and integrated tannin led to a somewhat dry and flat finish.  It also seemed a little short in the acid department and that made it a poor choice for the prime rib. At $450 it too was disappointing.

The top wine was the Drew, Ridgeline, Mendocino Ridge Syrah from California.  At ten years of age this wine was alive with fruit and acidity.  Wonderful aromas of herbs and flowers poured from the glass.  In the mouth this wine both felt and tasted like Cote Rotie used to taste before hugeness became the sought after quality in that region.  The acid in the wine cut through the fat from the meat.  At $40 a bottle it shone as bright as the star on top of the Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Plant That Could


After five days of nearly continuous rain in this area the slow moving front is finally to the east.  The rain stopped just before noon today.  It's much worse to the south and the rain was needed here, but five days was more than enough.

The resident canine and I ventured out to the Great Miami river late this morning and discovered this solitary sunflower growing on the remains of an old bridge piling in the middle of the river.  The only soil there is river mud and sand and the piling is far enough from shore that it has to be a volunteer plant.  The seed had to have been left sometime this spring by a bird who obtained it from a well stocked, backyard feeding station in the area. I'm sure it comes as a surprise to the river gulls who frequent the piling.  Given a chance - life takes hold. 

The other two photos are a wildflower on the shore and a shot looking north along the river.  Five days of heavy rain and things look like spring again.




Monday, August 8, 2016

Day Two


The second half of the bottle of Staglin (see the post below) only lasted a day under vacuum seal.  There was a roast chicken and the wine was just too good to ignore.

There was only a slight degradation from the first day and the wine was still delightful.  The only thing different was the tannins were a wee bit softer and that was probably a good thing with the chicken.   Just an outstanding wine.  

Sunday, August 7, 2016

1996 - 2006 - 2016

A small piece of beef grilled over oak wood was the perfect foil for a 1996 Staglin Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford in the Napa Valley. 1996 was a vintage preceding the heralded 1997 vintage in Napa and gets overlooked, but it is hard to overlook this wine. 

In 2006 I attended a retrospective tasting at a local merchant who bought a substantial amount of Napa cabernets from the 1996 vintage.  They held the wines for ten years in perfect conditions and then offered them to the folks attending the tasting at the original  offering price.  For the Staglin that was $65.  I purchased my allotted two and brought them home.  Yesterday was a beautiful evening following a long stretch of high temperatures and high humidity in this area.  It was time for good, red wine.

The cork was not in the best of shape, but came out in two pieces with minimal crumbling, though the wine was poured through a strainer to remove some of the floating small bits.  The color was a medium garnet, showing some fading at the edges.  It was crystal clear and beautiful.  The bouquet was beautiful, a bit of fruit, a bit of oak and a bit of mint.  One sip was all it took to decide the wine was at a perfect point and was a perfect mix of dark cherries with highlight of red cherries.  The tannin were soft and enveloping and gave the wine its structure.  The finish was long and mellow and at the very end was bone dry.  This wine was a pleasure to drink.

1996 Staglin Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.  13.8% alcohol.  I was unable to find an auction price for this vintage but the current vintage price is above $200. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Honesty

The best thing about this bottle of 2015 Vega Sindoa Garnacha Rose was the label.  It's a one dimensional wine that was flat and sweet.  Thank heaven it was only $10 wasted.  Previous vintages of this wine have been modest and drinkable.  This one wasn't. 

That said it was a hit with the part of the crowd that likes fruity soft drinks. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

August Sunrise


After the sunset (pictured below) comes the sunrise (pictured above).  One is all orange and fiery and the other is soft and pink.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Friday, July 29, 2016

Cheap Red Wine

The title of this post should probably be Inexpensive Red Wine, but we'll go with cheap because the price is.  The wine, Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve from the 2013 vintage, is good.  There is a dark purple color to the body of the wine with electric purple edges.  It's young, but it's good.  It's fragrant with fruit and would and spicy with enough tannin to give it some kick.  Pour it, drink it, and don't think about it.  $10 and 13.5% alcohol. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Red Grass

There is always something new blooming when the resident canine and I walk at the tall grass prairie a few miles from home.  It's both a remnant and a restoration of what was here before the farmers arrived 200+ years ago. 

We were there very early yesterday morning as the sun was coming through a stand of trees and highlighting this stalk of native grass.  The red part looks like Indian grass, but the broad leaf doesn't match what the rest of the plant should look like. I will leave the description as red grass and do some more research.  The other blooms are yellow cone flowers.

The prairie is full of rabbits and it keeps the dog busy stalking them.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Veal


I was at the market a few days ago and there were some good looking veal chops in the butcher case.  In this area one has to look hard to find veal so I brought home two that were one inch thick.  The result is pictured above.  The chops were marinated in lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, chopped fresh rosemary and red pepper flakes.  They were grilled over hardwood charcoal and finished with a little chopped parsley and orange zest.  Add in a local tomato and two orange slices with tarragon and it was a meal worth repeating.

For the wine we opted for the last bottle of 2012 Kinkead Ridge Ohio Valley Riesling.  It was tart and dry but with some hints of sweetness at the very end.  Good match and a fitting meal for that last bottle of any vintage for that particular wine.  The vineyard is no more.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New York Rose'

I bought this several weeks ago and drank it with friends before the problems began.  It is a Wagner Vineyards Rose of Cabernet Franc from New York's Finger Lakes district.  Bright, cherry flavors and tart acidity on the first sip gave way to just a hint of sweetness in the mid palate.  The wine finished dry and crisp.  Not the best rose' I've had this spring and summer but it's also one that I would be happy to drink again.  Simple and delicious.

With some pulled pork sandwiches it made for a great picnic. 

2015 Wagner Vineyards Rose of Cabernet Franc.  11% alcohol and $14.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Hello Again


My apologies for my absence lately in this little corner of the internet.  There was a sudden and unexpected death in the family and that left little time for anything other than getting a lot of affairs in order.  Those chores are mostly done.

To celebrate the resident canine and I took a long walk on an unseasonably cool morning along the Great Miami River yesterday.  The first hour we had the place to ourselves and that was rejuvenating for both of us.

There's been some wine and a few good meals in the interim and I'm sure those will start appearing here soon.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Last Day of June

The Great Miami River

“The beauty of that June day was almost staggering. After the wet spring, everything that could turn green had outdone itself in greenness and everything that could even dream of blooming or blossoming was in bloom and blossom. The sunlight was a benediction. The breezes were so caressingly soft and intimate on the skin as to be embarrassing.” ―Dan Simmons, Drood

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Lazin' on a Sunny Afternoon

Americano 
It is seasonably hot here, though the humidity is still a little low.  The grill is ready to light for some Italian grilled pork for dinner and it was time for a refreshment.

The Americano is equal parts Campari and sweet red Vermouth shaken over ice until very cold.  It was poured into a glass with crushed ice and topped with club soda.  Sweet at the front end and bitter at the back end and low in alcohol.  Perfect for the day. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

June

Great Miami River.  June 13.  7:00 AM EDT


“AND what is so rare as a day in June?  Then, if ever, come perfect days; Then heaven tries earth if it be in tune, And over it softly her warm ear lays; Whether we look, or whether we listen, we hear life murmur, or see it glisten;”
Nature was very kind this morning.  After two days of temperatures over 90 degrees (F) and high humidity we woke this morning to 55 degrees and much less humidity.  The resident canine and I were out before dawn and spent several hours walking the bike paths along the river and through the woods.  It improved both of our moods, and developed an appetite that will be satisfied this evening.

Perfection.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Domaine du Dragon

Provencal rose time - specifically a 2015 Domaine du Dragon Grande Cuvee.  Beautiful light, copper color in the glass, as pictured above.  This was a pleasant surprise as the aromas coming out of the glass weren't fruity at all - they were very floral instead.  Sniffing this wine was like walking through he garden. 

The wine was tart and tight with tremendous acid on the first sip.  Light strawberries and cherries finally made their presence known in the mid-palate.  The finish was bone dry and crisp. 

There was a grilled yellow tail snapper from the grill and a bit of farotto Nicoise to eat between sips of wine.  Add in a remarkably low amount of humidity in the air and no clouds at all and it was a Grande Cuvee  evening.

2015 Domaine du Dragon Grande Cuvee, Cotes de Provence.  13% alcohol and a true bargain at $13. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Still the Best

While all the lobster/butter/wine matches at the lobster party were good and interesting my favorite was the most traditional, Chablis and lemon butter.  In this case it was a 2011 Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin Vaudesir Grand Cru.  It was a big step up from the first two wines.  Fresh scents of lemon and limestone sitting on top of deep fruit and dryness.  It was in perfect balance with the unctuousness of the butter and the sweetness of the lobster.  It had an amazing length to the finish. I loved this wine. 

This was the tenth year for this party with friends, though it goes back another twelve years with family. There were two new guests this year and they brought what turned out to be my second favorite wine, a 2013 Cloudy Bay Chardonnay from New Zealand.  This was a richer wine in both color and taste but still stayed on the balanced side of things.  The fruit was more pronounced and forward than the Chablis and the finish was a bit sweeter and shorter, but it was a very good wine. 

A brace of lobsters after cooking
2011 Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin Vaudesir Grand Cru.  13% alcohol and $85.
2013 Cloudy Bay Chardonnay.  13.5% alcohol and $40.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Lobster Wine #2

Not only did the cooking method and the wines vary for the lobsters this year the dipping sauces varied as well.  There were three drawn butters available, plain, lemon ginger, and a third that had a subtle hint of garlic, rosemary, tarragon and lavender in it.  With that butter the 2013 Kinkead Ridge Ohio River Valley Estate Viognier/Roussanne was tremendous. The wine was much more full bodied than the Dr L Riesling.  Melons and citrus and oily herbs were strong in this wine.  Those herbal flavors really matched well with the herbs in the butter.  The herb butter tended to overpower the Riesling, but it was a wonderful match for the Kinkead Ridge.

2013 Kinkead Ridge Ohio River Valley Estate Viognier/Roussanne.  14% alcohol and $16. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lobster and Riesling

Yesterday was the annual lobster day and we steamed and grilled sixteen of the lovely critters.  For years this has been a "Chablis" day but this year we mixed things up a bit. 

First up was a 2014 Loosen Brothers Dr. L. Riesling from the Mosel.  Riesling is not my first choice for lobster but this one certainly worked well with the grilled version, not so much with the steamed version. A dry, tart and sharp wine with tons of the mineral sensation that somehow seemed to be a much better choice with the slight smokiness of the grilled lobster.  There was some fruit in the wine when it was chilled, a little more as the wine warmed up but mostly this was about how the minerality played with the smoke.

There was a long finish on this wine, one that gave a hint a sweetness at the very end.  At $11 a bottle this wine is amazing. 

Sarah before her demise
2014 Loosen Brothers Dr. L. Riesling, Mosel.  11% alcohol and $11.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Spring Bloom

There was a major camera malfunction recently so I now must admit my addiction to that object.  It took three weeks for repair this time and to say I was lost without is an understatement.  The I-phone camera is fine but fine just doesn't get it done.  

There are wine notes and other things to post but I'll start with the first lily to bloom in the garden this spring, a yellow bee lily.  And the photo below is the resident canine complaining that I should not be taking pictures of flowers, I should be inside fixing her breakfast. 


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Langhe Nebbiolo


One of the joys of poor record keeping is that once in awhile one discovers a forgotten bottle of wine.  That was the case several days ago with a bottle of 2004 Gianfranco Alessandria Langhe Nebbiolo.  I bought half a case of these when they were first issued and over the intervening years I drank them and enjoyed them.  My records showed all of the six consumed.

What I forgot was that I bought a seventh bottle at another wine store and apparently never entered it into what passes as my database.  It was not from the same store where I know the other six were purchased, so that is the only possible reason it was never entered into the database.  Also, it was not stored anywhere near the other Italian wines.  It was forgotten.

Of course I opened it.  Heaven in a bottle.  Dusty aromas of earth and flowers, great red fruit and body and tannin still giving its all for the fight.  It was mature and evolved, not youthful but not old.  The finish was long and perfect.  With two lamb chops it was delicious. 


2004 Gianfranco Alessandria Langhe Nebbiolo.  14% alcohol and the price tag said $15. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spring Lamb and Riesling


The lamb was stirred dried with onions, asparagus, red pepper, hot, dried peppers, ginger, garlic and hoisin based sauce to bring it all together. There was some heat so a Riesling was in order.

I opened a 2005 Weingut Spreitzer Oestricher Lenchen Kabnett from the Rheingau.  Ten years had turned the wine from pale yellow to golden.  Those same years also added some depth and complexity to the wine.

The flavors were still tart citrus but there was more than acid, there was a golden raisin or two to contend with.  The wine was sweet on the front of the tongue, bloomed in the mid palate and finished with wonderful acid a a hint of sweetness at the very end.  It really married well with the gaminess of the lamb and the heat from the dried, red peppers.

This was the last of three bottles that I bought when the wine was released about eight years ago.  Very sad to drink the last one, but the pleasure lives on.

2005 Weingut Spreitzer Oestricher Lenchen Kabnett.  8.5% alcohol and $20 when originally purchased.  Excellent wine.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Happiness in a Bottle

I pulled out a wine that had been in the cellar for some time, primarily because I put my hand on it and it seemed to say drink me.  It was a wise choice.

The wine was a 2005 Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia.  I liked it the second the cork came out of the bottle.  It was inky dark and closed up, but with some swirling the first small glass started to bloom.  The rest of the bottle was decanted.  The aromas were fruit and earth in a beautiful proportion.  More swirling and the first sip was still closed, but it was full bodied with good tannin and fruit.

An hour later the decanted wine was a quintessential Tuscan red wine.  That sense of earth or dirt was strong, but it it was overlaid with bright red fruit with darker aspects.  The wine had tremendous acid that was just what I was looking for to cut through a rich, dry aged strip steak from the grill.  This was a great match and meal.  This was a combination to savor and not one to rush in any way.

2005 Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia.  13.5% alcohol and $40 original price.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Bottoms Up!

The resident canine and I discovered this local Mallard searching for breakfast yesterday morning.  His somewhat more formal portrait is below.  We are in an extended period of good weather and after the long winter that makes me very happy.


And along the shoreline a turtle (non-Teenage Mutant Ninja type) finds a sunny spot to warm up.


And a Canada Goose mother sits on her nest. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Three Weeks Early

The mint in the garden has reached the first harvesting stage so it had to be put to use.  We're also three weeks from the Kentucky Derby so practice was needed.  The julep is fresh mint muddled with some simple syrup, two ounces of Maker's Mark bourbon, and  shaken with some ice.  It was poured into an ice filled glass and garnished with a sprig of bruised mint. 

I love spring

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring Riesling


One of my local markets now carries Berkshire pork on a semi-regular basis and I have become addicted to it.There is more fat in the pork and when cooked correctly it remains moist, juicy and habit forming.  Above is an inch thick rib chop seasoned with salt, pepper and a bit of smoked paprika and then grilled on a fire of hickory wood.  The potatoes are small redskins that were cooked in a very salty brine, dried, and then flattened with the bottom of a glass into hockey pucks.  They were then pierced all over with the tines of a fork and sauteed in butter until lightly crisp on the outside and then finished with a couple splashes of malt vinegar and some fresh chives.

The wine was a 2010 Alfred Merkelbach Urziger Wurtzgarten Riesling Kabinett.  The wine had darkened since I first opened a bottle a few years ago, but it was still crisp and fruity.  The flavors were citrus and melon and unmistakable slate.  The tremendous acid cut through the fat from the pork like a pro.  Delicious pairing.  Wonderful meal.

2010 Alfred Merkelbach Urziger Wurtzgarten Riesling Kabinett.  9% alcohol and $18. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Sunny Afternoon

A Kiwi on a sunny, spring afternoon is a good thing.  A peeled and sliced kiwi was muddled with mint leaves, sugar and the very tip of a vanilla bean.  In went two ounces of gin (Hendricks in this case) and some ice.  Shaky, shaky, shaky.  The result was strained into a glass of fresh ice and topped with seltzer water, a slice of kiwi and a sprig of mint. 

I had two. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Safe

We don't get a lot of sharks here in Ohio, but when we do I am well protected against them.  Now to choose a wine.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Spring Morning


When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself. - Ernest Hemingway
 A beautiful walk with the dog on a spring morning.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

First Rose'

The early rose' wines are back in the local marketplace to be followed by many more.  My first crack at one was a 2015 Martin Ray Russian River Valley Rose' of Pinot Noir.  There was a section of fresh, wild spring salmon on the grill and the rose' was the right wine.  A spring salmon (Springer) is the first catch of the year from the Columbia River and is a chinook salmon.  They are caught as they enter the Columbia River, full of the fat the stored after several years in the Pacific Ocean.  The salmon was grilled over alder wood. 

This was a bright red wine with lots of aromas of strawberries, cherries and flowers. The first sip was fruity and broad and tasted like spring.  It was wide and expansive in the mid palate and bone dry on the finish.  A very nice wine that was oh so easy to drink. 

2105 Martin Ray Russian River Valley Rose' of Pinot Noir.  12.5% alcohol and $16.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Spring Evening

The calendar says it is still winter but the weather here says it is spring.  A beautiful evening last night to sit on the patio and fire up the grill.  With a week of heavy rain coming sitting outside and eating last night was like getting a flu shot for the coming misery. 


Dinner was a fresh trout on the grill with grilled asparagus and lemons.  Fresh rosemary and thyme were stuffed inside the trout for added flavor.  I love the taste of the juice from the grilled lemon when it was squeezed over both the trout and the asparagus.

The wine was a 2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc from the Horse Heaven Vineyard from the Horse Heaven Hills a.v.a. in Washington state. 

Citrusy wine with grapefruit and lemon flavors, but wonderful herb and grassiness to go along with the fruit.  Nicely balanced, tart wine and fairly priced. It was a good match for the trout.

2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle Horse Heaven Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington.  13% alcohol and $14.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Older Wine on a Young, A Spring Day

I'm in to the last round of cellar cleaning and yesterday was a neglected Riesling, a 2004 Willi Schaefer, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.  This is the entry level wine for Willi Schaefer.

The color had just a bit of gold hue to it, but not nearly as much as one would expect for an 11 year old wine not intended to age.  It smelled of fresh apples and cardamon, almost like an apple pie.  Still sharp and tart tasting, the flavors were a sweet apple loaded with crispness and a bit of citrus.  The finish was long and not as sweet as one would expect thanks to a great bit of acid at the finish.

Yes, it had been a very well stored wine but this was still a joy and a treat for a wine that should have been heading downhill.  It was not.  And on a warm, sunny late winter day it was perfect with a light chill on the patio that had been neglected since last autumn. 

2004 Willi Schaefer Riesling. Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.  9% alcohol by volume and a beautiful $12 when purchased eight or more years ago. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Diversion

During a walk with the dog recently there was an interesting sight along our path.  After a recent dry period the rain and snow returned, but the heaviest amount was north of us, upstream on the Great Miami River.  A day later the roiling water had reached my area, while the local side streams remained perfectly clear of runoff.

The above picture was taken at the spot where Crain's Run meets the Great Miami.  The water from the run was clear and pure coming off the hillside while the brown, muddy water of the Great Miami was flowing rapidly by and backing up a bit into Crain's Run.  A bit farther to the right the water was perfectly clear to a depth of several feet. 

Wine later!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Nearly Spring


There is much more light in the mornings now that spring is closer.  I love the light on a sunny morning.  The resident canine and I encountered this group of Canada geese on our early morning walk a few days ago.  The dog was somewhat disappointed that the geese were already in the water as one of  her favorite things is to chase them into the water.

The photograph below was taken about forty minutes later and about half a mile downstream.   A beautiful morning.


And I have to add here that the one glass of Barbaresco discussed in the post below this one was just as good, if not better, on the second day. A delicious wine that was a treat to drink.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Open that Bottle Night

For almost 20 years the last Saturday in February has been Open That Bottle Night.  This was started by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher  who were the wine writers for the Wall Street Journal.  The idea was that those of us who squirrel away wine have those certain bottles that we are holding for 'that special moment to open and drink."   They chose the last Saturday in February and it has been that way since.  Find some friends, have a good meal and open those special bottles and enjoy them.

My choice this year was a 2004 Produttori del Barbaresco Moccagatta Riserva, a Barbaresco. 

The photos were in the early afternoon when the wine was opened and decanted to breathe, something this wine needed.  It was very closed up with little or no aroma coming out of it.  The taste was very flat and one dimensional, mostly tasting like cooked fruit.

After six hours in the decanter one would never guess this was the same wine.  The nose was full of flowers and tar and earth.  Tart, dried cherry flavors were gushing from the wine.  The earthiness was still there and the wine was full of sharp acid.   

Dinner was a thick, grilled rib eye steak cooked to the rare side of medium rare and a farotto made with enriched beef broth and porcini mushrooms.  This was a memorable pairing and a wonderful evening.  One small glass is left for a good sip tonight.

And as always with an exceptional bottle of wine the thought occurred to me, "why didn't I buy more of this?"

2004 Produttori del Barbaresca Moccagatta Riserva.  14% alcohol $50 several years ago.