Sunday, April 9, 2017


Sometimes the simple things are as good as complicated things.  The above chicken wings are a good example.  The wings were just dusted with salt and broiled for half an hour - turned halfway through.  It was the glaze that made them shine; soy sauce, fresh ginger, sesame oil, honey, rice vinegar and garlic.  The concoction was simmered together for the same half hour it took to broil the wings. Everything went into a large bowl and was tossed together until the wings were well coated.  A good meal to end a good day and very little mess.   Beer!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

It Was a Sunny Day

Sunny days with warmer temperatures means the grill is up and running for the seasons to come.  There were several good days during the winter when it got a workout, but now the weather is more consistent. 

First up was a loin veal chop that was marinated in lemon juice and zest, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt and olive oil.  It was basted a couple of times with the same concoction while on the grill.  There was some faro cooked in chicken stock, water and bay leaves to go along with the veal.  Sweet veal tastes with some acid from the lemon and a bit of bitterness from the bay leaves made a great combination.

There was a bottle of a the 2011 Pfister Alsatian Riesling discussed several posts below to wash things down and help make for a wonderful evening.

After a good meal one can forgive almost anything; including one's relations. - Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Abstract Nature

There has been a lot of rain here lately and that means usually dry areas are damp and soggy.

The above picture is a prime example.  The blue area at the bottom is actually asphalt  paving a trail through one of the local parks.  The light brown stuff is sand and dirt that is being deposited by the water flowing over the asphalt.  The darker brown sections are the reflection of trees on the surface of that water.  The black asphalt is blue because the water is reflecting the sky.

The right place at the right time.  When I passed this area ten minutes later the reflections were gone and the swirls were different.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


After several days of rain and storms the resident canine and I finally got out this morning for a long walk along the Great Miami River and through several wildlife areas. While she was busy convincing two Canada geese (third picture) that they belonged in Canada and not the U.S. a mallard wandered into camera range.

I took the largest camera and lens because of reports that the bald eagle had been seen in this area again.  No luck seeing the eagle but it was nice to be out and about.

The last picture is not a waterfowl. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017


The last wine of the evening was the best, a 2010 Paolo Bea San Valentino Umbria Rosso.  This was my first experience with this wine, a blend of sangiovese, montepulciano and sagrantino.  This was a big wine in every way imaginable.  The first sip was full bodied and very tannic with dark cherry fruit and some tart highlights.  The tannin kept on giving but the wine was very drinkable.  Swirling helped, but the wine needed time. 

The sagrantino grape is mostly found only in Umbia.  One producer, Marco Caprai,  has said, 
"Sagrantino is exceptionally rich in the polyphenols that give a wine color, and is considerably more tannic than sangiovese....  This is a wine with incredible aging potential, but the tannins are sweet rather than sharp, which makes it drinkable when young."   -  Bastianich and Lynch - Vino Italiano, The Regional Wines of Italy.
 Quite a delicious mouthful.  15% alcohol and $36

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cremant de Loire

The dinner out discussed below started with two wines, a rather innocuous Bourgogne Aligote and a 2014 Soucherie Cremant de Loire, a sparkling rose'.  The wine was a blend of 90% Cabernet Franc and 10% Chenin blanc.  My first impression at the beginning of the first sip was 'too fruity.'  That changed in mid palate as the expected sweetness never materialized.  Instead it was dry fruit with great acid and body and just the right amount of bubbles to keep every thing in a festive mood.  The 12% alcohol was all this wine needed.  Refreshing and happy, it set the stage for better wines to follow.  At $18 a bottle it's a bargain.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dinner Out

A local favorite restaurant closed temporarily and just reopened with a scaled down menu and a more casual atmosphere.  Like a number of small, non chain restaurants rising rent was a problem.  The food is still wonderful and so is the service, and Tuesday nights feature a wine tasting menu.

I opted for the duck confit pictured above.  Done as a hash with Yukon gold potatoes, a few shallots and a dark sauce, it was finished with a fried egg on top.  Wonderful, rich stuff that totally disappeared from my plate along with every bit of the sauce, soaked up with a crusty roll.

The wine with the confit was a 2012  Bousquet Des Papes, Chante le Merle, Vielle Vignes, Chateauneuf de Pape - a name as mouth filling as the wine itself.   The wine's medium color was not an indication of how rich this wine was.  Bright red fruit flavors sat on top of a dark base of flavor - tart cherries on top of ripe black plums and berries if you will.  There was nothing shy about this wine, and that wasn't surprising considering it's 15.5% alcohol content.  I was most pleased with the acid in the wine as it kept the wine from overwhelming the food.  One glass was enough with driving involved.       

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Northern Whites

This was an off the wall purchase when I wandered through a local wine store last week.  It's a non-vintage, white, table wine from Oregon's Willamette valley.  It's also a strange mix of 34% gewurztraminer, 30% Muller-Thurgau, 28% pinot gris and 8% riesling - or not your every day blend.  It's formal name is Borealis, the Northern Whites produced by the Montinore Estate in Oregon.  The winery makes a delicious pinot gris so I thought I would give this one a shot with some halibut.

The color and the taste were unique.  The color was a pale gold with a hint of rose in it - just enough to make one look twice.  One could definitely taste the funk of the gewurtztraminer.  I've not had enough Muller-Thurgau to comment on that, but I really couldn't detect the pinot gris or the Riesling.  I could get some ripe, green grapes out of the flavors.  The wine was off dry and crisp and a bit oily in the mouth feel, but I loved the acid on the finish.  Nice match for the halibut.

In the end it was interesting and flavorful. I prefer the winery's pinot gris to this wine, but I wouldn't turn down another glass or two.

Montinore Estate Borealis.  12.5% alcohol and $13.

Monday, March 13, 2017


Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend - or a meaningful day. Dalai Lama
Read more at:
Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend - or a meaningful day.  -  Dalai Lama 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Alsatian Riesling

Cellar raiding time again, since there were three bottles of the 2011 Domaine Pfister Riesling Tradition from the Alsace and there was some swordfish to eat.

It was a very interesting wine.  Even though it was a Riesling there was a unique body to it, an oiliness that I usually find in Roussanne.  It was the way it felt in the mouth.  The flavors were true Riesling though - green apples, citrus zest and a bit of not too ripe pineapple.  But its most surprising aspect was the finish.   It was sharp and tart, dry and fresh.  From the mouth feel of this wine I was expecting a lower acid on the finish.  It paired well with the full flavors of the swordfish and the palate cleansing acid at the end was perfect for me.

2011 Domaine Pfister Riesling Tradition.  12.5% alcohol.  $25

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Color of Wine

Red is for the 2001 Enzo Boglietti Case Nere Barolo

Light gold is for the 2015 J. Moreau & Fils Chablis

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Open That Bottle 2017

The last Saturday in February is Open that Bottle Night, the one night a year when you don't need an excuse to open a bottle that you have been saving for a special occasion.  It was started around 20 years ago by John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter who at that time were writing the wine column for the Wall Street Journal. 

This year was an adjustment of sorts, as the 2001 Enzo Boglietti Case Nere (black case) Barolo was a substitute bottle.  Two of the guests had to cancel the day before, and they had been looking forward to the first choice wine, a 1995 Luciano Sandrone Canubi Boschis.  I decided to hold that bottle for next year as the other folks would be thrilled with any good wine.

I opened the Boglietti about two hours before dinner and decanted it.  One sip was all it took to realize I should have opened it sooner.  It was tight, acidic, tannic and closed with little hint of fruit.  Half an hour later some cherries began appearing and the acidic assault lessened.  At just past an hour the wine began to bloom and the nose of flowers and just a bit of tar began to emerge.  It was at that point that I returned backup bottle #2 to the cellar. 

Two and a half hours after opening the bottle the lamb was finally ready and so was the wine.  It smelled like clean earth and flowers.  The tart cherry flavors were there, but so were some red plums.  The tannins had softened from an overbuilt body builder to a finely tuned athlete.  The length of flavor was wonderful and there was enough acid to cut through the richness of the lamb - roasted with Dijon mustard, fresh rosemary and fresh thyme.  Great combination. 

Of course, at the end of the meal the last glass was the best.  Everything this wine had came together.  The best news is that there is a second bottle in the cellar and it has a few years more before starting to go downhill. 

2001 Enzo Boglietti Case Nere Barolo.  14% alcohol and $70 when purchased ten years ago. 

Friday, February 24, 2017


This was the shrimp concoction that we ate with the 2105 Chablis discussed below.  The shrimp were peeled and deveined and then lightly brined in a salt, sugar and water solution for fifteen minutes. The shells were used to make a quick shrimp stock with white wine.  Finally the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and lemongrass were sauteed in some oil until fragrant, and the shrimp stock was added along with the shrimp.  The shrimp were removed and the sauce finished with some butter, parsley and lemon juice before the shrimp were returned to the pan.  The basmati rice was lightly flavored with a tiny bit of fresh turmeric while it cooked.

Rather tasty.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

2015 Chablis

The purity of Chablis never fails to make me happy.  The 2015 J. Moreau & Fils basic Chablis is certainly no exception.  Sharp, tart fruit with hints of apples and lemon zest and an intense sense of minerality left no mistake where this wine originated.  Wonderful stuff at a sale price of $21.  It washed down a serving of shrimp lightly poached in shrimp stock with accents of garlic, ginger and lemongrass and finished with butter and red pepper flakes.   

The 2016 vintage in Chablis was horrendous with hail destroying a number of the vines.  I made the decision to stock up on the 2015 vintage that are just now coming to market.  I added four bottles of this wine. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Zen morning

Heavy, heavy fog rolled into this area overnight but the resident canine and I went to for our walk along the Great Miami River anyway.  We were the only somewhat domesticated creatures around.  Everyone else stayed home.

Her main interest was in locating the beavers who splashed her a week or so ago.  That was the first time either of us had been splashed by beaver in this area.  She was not happy and has been back to that spot twice since looking for them.

She found the evidence of their presence but the beavers themselves refused to make an appearance.

Nonetheless a good walk and a peaceful way to start one's day.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Early Morning Light

Nature has many scenes to exhibit, and constantly draws a curtain over this part or that. She is constantly repainting the landscape and all surfaces, dressing up some scene for our entertainment. Lately we had a leafy wilderness; now bare twigs begin to prevail, and soon she will surprise us with a mantle of snow. Some green she thinks so good for our eyes that, like blue, she never banishes it entirely from our eyes, but has created evergreens. ~Henry David Thoreau

Friday, February 10, 2017

Happy International Scotch Day

The world needs more celebrations so I was happy to see that February 10 is the first ever International Scotch Day.  That is something I am more than willing to celebrate.  It's a promotion of Diageo, who own enough distilleries to keep the world supplied, but it's not restricted to their brands.

The above bottle recently came to my doorstep - a Springbank 10 year old malt from Campbeltown in the extreme southwest of Scotland.  It is not a Diageo brand.  It will probably be followed by a Lagavulin of either 8, 12 or 16 years of age, which is a Diageo whisky.  Full details in a future post.

Party responsibly.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


A wonderful pairing last night.

Not only is the label on the wine colorful, but the meal was also.  Both were delicious as well, though no picture of the meal exists because it was eaten without the thought of photography.

The wine in question was a 2011 Alfred Merkelbach Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese from the Mosel region of Germany.  The Merkelbach brothers (Rolf is also credited on the label) make some of my favorite, affordable Rieslings and this one is certainly no exception.

First there was a hint of kerosene, but that blew off quickly.  Next was citrus aromas and a definite suggestion of spring flowers in bloom.  Citrus and crisp apple flavors were primary, but there was an underlying sense of minerality that moved this beyond the ordinary.  There was a bit a sweetness on the finish but the acid in this wine kept it from being the primary feature.

Dinner was stir fried lamb, asparagus and red peppers all flavored with dried chilies, garlic and ginger and finished in a sauce of mostly hoisin sauce.  Simple, easy, colorful and delicious.

The bit of sweetness in the wine was just about perfect for the heat from the dried chilies.  Each gave the other some balance.   Wonderful stuff. One more in the cellar.

2011 Alfred Merkelbach Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese.  9.5% alcohol and $21

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Franco Sera

It had been awhile since I drank a bottle of Barbera D'Alba, but during a trip through the local market several days ago a small, well fatted, rib steak found its way into my basket.  Next step was to cruise the wine department.  The Franco Sera 2014 Barbera D'Alba jumped into the basket with the steak, and since it was a bargain price of $12 I couldn't tell it 'no.'

It was exactly as I expected - full of earthy fruit and sharp acid that cut through the richness of the steak which was grilled over an oak fire.  The fruit in the wine was a good match with the oak from the steak.  There was nothing serious about this wine, it just said 'drink me and enjoy.'  We did.

2014 Franco Sera Barbera D'Alba.  13% alcohol and $12.

Monday, January 30, 2017

January Morning

There was a light dusting of snow here before midnight.  By the time dawn arrived the skies had cleared and it made for a very pleasant walk of almost five miles for the resident canine and me.  We encountered two deer drinking from Clear Creek (pictured here).   We saw no other people or dogs but we did see something unusual.

We saw several Eastern Bluebirds, a bird rarely seen in this area in winter.  They are usually seen south of the Ohio River in the winter.   I was surprised and skeptical but an internet search revealed that several other people had seen the birds in this area.  Perhaps an early spring is in store.

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Cup of Kindness

Another Burns night celebration is over.  There were oysters, lamb, barley and smoked salmon.  And of course there was whisky.

As is my habit and tradition the last drink of the night was a 16 year old Lagavulin.  Warm and smoky.  Strong and peaty.  Sweet and hefty at the end.  "Auld" acquaintances were remembered with this delicious cup of kindness. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Nine Days

It has been a crazy winter in this area, one that can't seem to make up it's mind whether it is winter or spring. The two pictures below were taken from approximately the same spot nine days apart.  The first was when the temperature was were just above 0 degrees (f).  The second was yesterday when the temperature was 62 degrees (f).

In between the two there was both a warming and a cooling period.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Secret Squirrel

This was a wine at a party to mourn/celebrate the changing of the guard in Washington DC.  It's not a wine I had seen before, but given the propensity of the dogs who have resided here over the years to chase them, tasting a 2012 Secret Squirrel sounded like a fun idea.

The wine is from Washington state and is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre.  Medium weight, slightly rustic, full of both fruit and tannin.  Nothing spectacular but a fun wine to taste during the evening.  And even though the wine is more than adequate the best part was the name and the label.  14% alcohol.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ovello 2004

Smoke and spices, tar and fruit, herbs and tannin;  this 2004 Ovello Riserva Barbaresco from the Produttori del Barbaresco is as good as it gets.  It was decanted for two hours because it was closed up and tight when first opened.  It began to bloom after half an hour and then just kept getting better.  It was a shame to see it gone, though there is one more in the cellar.

There was a grilled porterhouse steak finished with a splash of olive oil and some lemon zest, and there was fresh butternut squash gnocchi in a brown butter and sage sauce to go with the wine.  Fantastic.

2004 Produttori del Barbaresco, Ovello Riserva.  14% alcohol and $50.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Licking Rocks

The weather here has been bipolar for several weeks.  It seems to be going in alternating cycles of seasonal to unseasonal, going from temperatures with highs as low as single digits to highs as high as in the mid-60's all within a few days and then repeating that cycle. Sunny, happy days have been followed by ice and snow and gray skies. 

During one of the warm days there was a great summer style white wine to accompany some swordfish, a 2015 Domaine Labbe Abymes from the Savoie region of France.  The wine is made from the Jacquere grape.  It was crisp and clean and very linear.  There were hints of both lime and pine but the overall sensation and flavor was licking stones.  After some exposure to the air some fruitiness did poke through, but that wasn't what was appealing about this wine.  It was fresh and refreshing and a perfect match for the rich fish. The finish on the wine was not deep, but the length of the freshness in that aspect was impressive.

At $13 it was is amazing bargain.

2015 Domaine Labbe Abymes.  11% alcohol and $13

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

For a Cold Night

There is a second bottle of the Kopke Fine Tawny Port in the house primarily because the first one didn't last too long.  They were poring this wine for tasting at a local store and I was surprised how good the sample tasted - warm, nutty, not too sweet, deep and very balanced.  A bottle came home with me and during the last cold snap it seemed to evaporate quickly. 

This is a true bargain at $18, a store special for the holidays.  17% alcohol.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

In Winter

There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself. ~Ruth Stout
...and a glass of sparkling cider to welcome one back home.

Saturday, January 7, 2017


It is very cold and snowy here with temperatures near 0 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday evening.  I think we found a way to ease the cold a wee bit. 

It started with a pot of braised lamb shanks with lemons, olives and oregano; earthy, fragrant, warm, comforting and filling stuff that filled the house with wonderful, exotic  aromas for three hours plus.  Add in in a bottle of 2006 Corison Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley and the experience was much more than satisfying.

The wine was decanted for half an hour, but even during that time in the decanter it was smelling great.  Dark fruit, a bit of cedar, and some cinnamon were a wonderful combination.  The flavors were fully ripe without being over ripe.  They were supported by the spices, the tannin and wonderful acidity.  The length of the finish was a full 30 seconds.  This was a remarkable pairing with the lamb because the acid and tannin in the wine cut the richness of the meat while the olives and lemons picked up the fruitiness in the wine.  It's an experience that needs to be repeated, and since there is one more bottle of this great stuff in the cellar it probably will be repeated. 

Corison 2006 Kronos Vineyard, Napa Valley.  13.8% alcohol and roughly $100. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


It wouldn't be a holiday season without some sparkling wine.  This year I discovered a bottle that had been covered up in the basement for a long time and had been undisturbed.  The wine was a 1999 vintage Cattier Chigny les Roses premier cru champagne.  It was purchased in 2006 along with a litter mate.  The first bottle was consumed years ago, but somehow this one got overlooked and eventually removed from inventory even though I had no memory of drinking it.

As you can see in the first picture the bubbles had not diminished; they were going strong.  The colors and flavors had both deepened somewhat, but the wine was not old in any way.  It was still fresh and yeasty.   The pinot noir fruit was shining through the others in the blend giving this wine considerable depth and a lengthy finish.  Wonderful wine with smoked trout and fresh oysters.

Cattier Chigny les Roses Premier Cru 1999.  12.5% alcohol and $55 at time of purchase. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

First Sunset

Every man should be born again on the first of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle, if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but, on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take interest in the things that are and are to be, and not in the things that were and are past. ~Henry Ward Beecher
If one can judge by the first sunset of the year it is going to be a very colorful year.  

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year - 2017

Since the photo is a special Scottish whisky perhaps the term should be Happy Hogmanay.

Another special thing about today is that it marks the start of the tenth year for this corner of the cyber world.  And if one considers a previous blog that was maintained and written for a group it marks my nineteenth year of this strange addiction of blogging. That long streak should also explain the long stretch from August to December in which there was no posting.  Let's call it a needed sabbatical. 

The bottle above, a special 8 year release of Lagavulin to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the distillery was a gift, and a very much appreciated one.  It's more intense than the 16 year old regular bottling, a little rawer.  It's still delicious.