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.