2011 Reserve Le Cigare Blanc

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

When I want something interesting and unique to taste from my basement, it’s easy to turn to a wine from Bonny Doon. Randall Graham’s wines are nothing if not unique.  The 2011 Reserve Le Cigare Blanc is no exception. It’s a blend of Grenache Blanc and Roussane, heavier on the Grenache Blanc. The wine has a screw cap, retails for $28, and clocks in at 12.5% alcohol by volume.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Don’t get it too cold or you will mute the nose and palate and miss out on how interesting it is.

2.) I could not get my nose out of my glass when I poured this wine and Matt got to taste more than his fair share.

3.) Even with the Roussanne, which usually adds heft and sometimes a bit of an oily quality to a wine, the Cigare Blanc has surprising acid on the palate.

4.) I suppose you could pair this with something, but really I just enjoyed sipping this as it warmed.
On the nose I got honey, honeysuckle, herbs, and caramel apple. In the mouth I found kiwi, green apple, and pear. The fruit on the palate trended towards being quite tart with lots of acid.

A Syrah A Day

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

Keeps the doctor away. That’s how that expression goes, right? Well, that’s how it should read, particularly if the Syrah in question is the 2012 Cornerstone Cellars Stepping Stone Syrah. The weather here in DC turned (for a moment anyway) to chilly and the reds in the cellar started to call my name.  The Cornerstone Syrah has a real cork closure and retails for $35.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) The nose. Oh, my, the nose. This Syrah has that meaty note I love in Syrahs.

2.) We had this with beef stew. Perfect for a cold evening.

3.) I could also see this in the summer with my BBQ ribs.

4.) Cornerstone Cellars really delivers across their portfolio.

On the nose I got spice, cinnamon, baking spice, berries, black cherry, meat, and the scent of bbq. In the mouth I found black cherry, spice, black fruit, berries, and anise.  I loved the tart black fruit with the spice lurking around.

 

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR company for the brand.

Eenie meanie miny mo, which Pinot should go?  Tonight it was the 2011 Star Angel Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. The Star Angel has a real cork closure and retails for about $27. It hails from the Santa Rita Hills in California, though the Star Angel brand is the invention of the winemaker for the Montes brand from Chile.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Serve this at cellar temperature or slightly below.

2.) As it warmed I found the wine a bit soft.

3.) I served this with salmon, one of my go-tos for Pinot. I think I’d serve it with a vinegar based BBQ sauce given a 2nd chance.

4.) Overall, the wine is ripe and plush and would be a crowd pleaser for those “I don’t like red wine” folks.

On the nose I got spice, pepper, strawberry, and smoke. In the mouth I found strawberry jam, raspberry, and other plush red fruits. There was some acidity on the finish.

 

Dreaming of Seafood

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR firm for the brand.

I ate a lot of seafood this summer. Between Portugal and Maine my late July and early August were all about seafood. So I had seafood on the brain when I plucked the 2012 The Clambake Chardonnay from my sample roulette. Perhaps it was the lobster on the label that drew me to the bottle. I don’t know what it retails for, as I can’t find anywhere to buy it online…but I’m guessing maybe $14 or so?

Four takeaways from this wine:

 

1.) I often tend to reach for a slightly oaky Chardonnay to go with my shellfish and lobstah. This wine showed none of that, but was a great foil for the rich lobster meat and butter.

2.) Since I think it retails at a fairly reasonable price, this would actually be a great clambake wine for a crowd.

3.) Here in the DC area, we actually tend to do crabfests around this time of year and it would work really well for that as well.

4.) Fresh and fruity, this is a fun summer wine.

On the nose I got melon, lime, apple, and lemon. Overall it displayed a bright fruit nose. On the palate I found apple, yellow apple, lemon rind, and tropical notes. The wine had good acidity and bit into butter quite well.

 

 

Mangia! Mangia!

Lucky me. Rodney Strong Vineyards reached out to me several months ago to contemplate hosting a wine dinner at my house to celebrate the Silver Anniversary of the Klein family owning the brand. The proposal included wine, cookbooks, food, and creating a 5 course dinner to be served simultaneously with dinners happening across the country at famous restaurants and other blogger houses.

Heck yes, I’m in! And you should be too. The dinner will go live at 8 pm et this Saturday, September 20. We’ll be tweeting and all other things social-media-ing using the hashtag #RSV25. Personally, I will be hosting dinner for 10 (mind you, at the house we just moved into less than a month ago….) and have created my own menu to go along with the wines.

The wines to be served, in order, are:

2013 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards, Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc – 1st Course

2012 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards, Chalk Hill Chardonnay – 2nd Course

2012 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 3rd Course

2011 Rodney Strong Symmetry (Red Meritage), Alexander Valley – Main Course

2010 Rodney Strong Brothers Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley – Main Course

2008 Rodney Strong “A True Gentleman’s” Port – Dessert

My menu plans:

2013 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards, Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc – 1st Course

Goat cheese and watermelon spinach salad with citrus dressing

2012 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards, Chalk Hill Chardonnay – 2nd Course

Potato Soup with sour cream, bacon, and crusty bread

2012 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 3rd Course

Asparagus and pancetta fettuccine

2011 Rodney Strong Symmetry (Red Meritage), Alexander Valley – Main Course

2010 Rodney Strong Brothers Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley – Main Course

Roasted rack of lamb with fresh herb breading over kale gratin

2008 Rodney Strong “A True Gentleman’s” Port – Dessert

Chocolate mousse with fresh whip cream

I’m a little nervous for the soup and pasta courses as those are new recipes for me, but I’m a decently confident cook, so hopefully it will all work out! Make sure to tune in at 8 to see what everyone else came up with for their menus and to follow the live feed from across the country!

Run and Get It. Now.

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

No, seriously, why are you still reading instead of going to go get some of this wine? Perhaps the humidity is on my brain, but I can’t think of anything better to drink the DC swamp than the 2013 Cornerstone Corallina Rose of Syrah. In fact, I did just so yesterday. Twice. Once at Rhone Rangers and then a bottle over dinner last night. The Corallina retails for $25 and sports a screw cap.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) It has acid, structure, and great fruit.

2.) 90 degrees and humid yesterday. Chilled down and drinking it on the porch, I could almost forget about the weather.

3.) I love a Rose of Syrah as the Syrah tends to lend body to the wine.

4.) For all the Rose naysayers, try this and you will be a convert.

On the nose I found strawberry, raspberry, cherry, stone fruit, and lime. The palate reflected the nose perfectly. The racy acidity balanced nicely with just a hint of a fuller note on the finish.

 

 

Poser? No, Pousseur.

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

Theoretically it is spring here in the DC area. Given today’s weather with a high of 61 and cold rain, I remain unconvinced. However, I am taking the opportunity to work my way through some of the red wines still lurking in the basement. Tonight I chose the 2010 Bonny Doon Le Pousseur Syrah which has a screw cap closure, clocks in at 12.8% alcohol by volume, and the current 2012 vintage retails for $26. I can’t find the photo I took of this wine.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Pass the lamb please.

2.) We had this with sausages, which also worked, but I really wanted some grilled lamb.

3.) Lots of complexity in the wine at this price point.

4.) The wine had an incredibly long and lingering finish.

 

On the nose I got plums, pencil lead, spice, and meat. In the mouth I found cocoa, plum, berries, blue fruit, spice and a finish full of lingering dusty cocoa covered blueberries. I kept imagining myself sipping this on an early September night around a campfire.

 

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