Happy New Year!

Have fun and stay safe! And of course, drink some excellent bubbly, as we are at the moment! See you next year!

Esta Obvio!

Tu necesitas beber esto vino si quieres vino blanco y barato. Sorry, got a little carried away with my Spanish there. Our second bottle of the evening last night was this little gem, Obvio, Vino Torrontes 2005 from Argentina. Synthetic cork, 13.5% alcohol by volume and cost me $9.99 at the Curious Grape. For those who don’t speak Spanish, Obvio means obvious, so my title today is “It’s obvious!” and the first sentence says “You need to drink this wine wine if you want white and inexpensive wine.

I almost titled this post “Deja vu” because I swear I’ve had this wine, or something quite like it in the past, yet I can’t place when or where. Whatever the case may be, it’s yummy. This is a light and simple wine, very floral on the nose. My notes say: topical fruits in the mouth, good acid holding it together. Easy to drink and I lurve it(apologies for the spelling, just a small joke among friends). Great value for the price and an interesting grape.

For the second time this week, I was sent scurrying off to learn about this grape in my Oxford Companion to Wine, and since I’m trying to increase my knowledge, I’ll bore you with what I learned too. As usual, Jancis Robinson is both helpful and informative as I find that the Torrentes grape is parented from the Muscat of Alexandria grape. And I think that’s where the deja vu came in, it is slightly muscat-like, but has just enough different characteristics that it didn’t come to mind immediately.

It’s Juicy!

And I don’t mean that in a bad way. Tonight’s bottle was a Mauritson 2004 Zinfandel. Real cork, 15.1% alcohol by volume (or 15.5% if you read Mauritson’s website?) and cost us $27 minus a club discount.

Quite different from the 2003 Mauritson Zinfandel I tasted here. It’s not jammy this time, but juicy. Big mouthfuls of strawberries and blackberries. I swear a hint of vanilla on the nose, though Matt completely disagrees. The big alcohol in this one doesn’t bother me as it’s easily countered and covered by the fruit. A little scent and taste of oak, but not overpowering or offensive at all. And I remembered to decant! I got none of the peppery taste of the 03 and none of the initial alcohol scent, though the decanting might have helped that. This just tastes good and worked really well with the beef strouganoff I made for dinner. Excellent finish, with a good lingering mouth taste. I have another bottle. I wonder if I keep it around for a bit if it will show some of the jam that the 03 does?
My mouth is watering looking at the purple inky color of the wine in this picture. It was seriously a delicious bottle of wine and really easy to drink.

Wine with an Identity Crisis

Last night we drank this bottle of Paringa 2004 Chardonnay/Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc. It ran me $9.99 at the Curious Grape, is 13% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure and comes to us from South Australia. This is another bottle bought in my pursuit of the everyday wine.

In my opinion this wine doesn’t know which of these grapes it wants to be and the blend didn’t work for me. It’s composed of 47% Chardonnay, 38% Semillon and 15% Sauvignon. The nose is oaky and a little buttery, but the Sauvignon Blanc gives it subdued citrus in the mouth with a bit of grass and mineral. The combination just seemed odd and contrived.

In the mouth, it felt oily and had a long, not altogether pleasant finish. Maybe if it had been a little colder, but our wine fridge seems to have decided it wants to stay at one temp and no amount of fiddling on my part is changing its mind. I wouldn’t buy this bottle again, it’s NMS.

Tasting at Arrowine

We decided to head over to Arrowine last night as I had gotten an email saying they were having a tasting. They ended up pouring a Sauvignon Blanc, an un-oaked Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a (cheap) Bordeaux. We bought a bottle of each of the whites, I especially liked the Sauvignon Blanc, but Matt was more partial to the Chardonnay. Neither of us were overally impressed with the reds, plus, we have bottles of red coming out of our ears. (You may think I’m joking, but at last count, I think we have 109 bottles.) The Pinot tasted like it had some potential, but it was young, only a 2005 and needed some time to come into its own. The Bordeaux was cheap. And it tasted cheap, heavily oaked and really unappealing.

Also picked up a few cheap bottles while there, though even the poured whites ended up being under $20 each with the tasting discount. More to come as we get into those bottles!

2004 Domaine de la Salette

I picked this bottle up for $6.99 at the Curious Grape on my excursion for everyday wines on Thursday. The full title includes Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne. Closed with a synthetic cork, it weighs in at 12% alcohol by volume and is composed of 75% Colombard, 15% Ugni Blanc and 10% Gros Manseng.

For the price, the wine makes a pretty tasty white table wine. It reminded me of a slightly odd cross between a sauvignon blanc and a riesling. Light and floral on the nose, but with the citrus and acidity of a sauvignon blanc in the mouth. I thought the structure was well done and would definetly recommend this at the $6.99 price tag.

Love VA Wines?

Go over to Fermentation and read this post.

I knew that these laws were being pushed here by lobbyists. As we were visiting Virginia Wineries earlier this year at least one of them, Tarara, had a sign up asking patrons to sign a petition against the enactment of the law forbidding VA wineries to sell directly to retailers and restaurants. Something they had previously been permitted to do.

I wish I knew what good, if any, wine distributors actually did. To me, it seems like they are simply a middle-man in the process of getting wine to retailers and restaurants, thus driving up the cost for the ultimate consumer and hurting small wineries, especially local ones who could use any leg up they can get.

The development of this law makes me sad for the future of the wine industry in VA. And for me, since I doubt I will be able to get the Governor’s White from the Williamsburg Winery for $7 in the store anymore.

Everyday Wine Take # 5,555

No, just kidding. I have no idea how long I’ve been searching for something I can drink inexpensively as an everyday table wine. At times, I find something I really enjoy, but then eventually get bored with, or simply want to try something new. I find it’s great to have some fall backs for a Tuesday night that you know will be decent, are well priced and will work with your food, but at the same time, I’m always itching to try something new.

Which brings me to tonight’s wine. I picked it up today at the Curious Grape for $10.99. It had a real cork closure, is from Sicily and is 12% alcohol by volume. The bottle is an Alcesti 2005 Grecanico. I had to bust out my Oxford Companion to Wine to get some info about this grape as I have never had it nor heard of it before today. Jancis Robinson writes “Sicilian white grape variety whose total vineyard area increased from less than 3,000 ha in 1980 to 5,172 ha/13,100 acres in 2000. The name suggests Greek origins and the wines currently made may not be maximizing its full aromatic, rather sauvignon blanc-like potential.” Okay, that helps, but doesn’t give me any idea of what I should really expect from this wine.

So here are my opinions. Have you ever been to an orchard when the apples are just past their peak in the sun? Or where they are crushing apples to make cider? That’s what the nose of this wine reminded me of. Also, with an odd little hint of pine. In the mouth, it’s tart apple with a little citrus zing on the end. Crisp, and it matched well with the Asian Basa filet I sauteed lightly in butter, salt and pepper and our purple mashed potatoes (thought of you Brent when I made these tonight!). I think I will have to buy another bottle of this varietal from another producer so I will have something to compare it to, as I had absolutely no expectations going into this wine.

A Trip to the Wine Shop

I spent a good part of the afternoon nosing around the Curious Grape today. Although it’s winter and the more likely choice for wine is a nice heart-warming red, we still like to drink the occassional white, especially on nights where I serve light seafood dishes. And, sadly, we have almost run the course of white wines purchased on our Sonoma trip. I ended up purchasing seven bottles for around $78, not a bad deal. They range from $6.99 to $21.99 and all but one were purchased in my pursuit of everyday wine.

Additionally, I was searching for my entry for WBW #29. Keeping in mind my indecisiveness over which bottle of sparkling wine to review for the previous WBW, I didn’t want to get caught in the same trap this time. So I figured I would poke around the wine shop and see if I could find anything on my own before asking the salespeople for a recommendation. Sadly, it appears that vineyards don’t seem to proclaim on their bottles that they are biodynamically produced, at least none of the bottles I looked at did. I found myself cursing the fact that I hadn’t thought to print out the list of producers over at Fork and Bottle. If you have yet to purchase your bottle and you are unfamiliar with biodynamic wine like me, I definetly suggest bringing a list!

When I asked the clerk for help, she couldn’t immediately point me to one. She showed me a few she thought were biodynamic wines, but couldn’t confirm for sure. Even though she was incredibly busy (they were setting up for a champagne tasting in light of the impending arrival of New Year’s Eve) she took the time to look at their inventory log on the computer and point me to some that most definetly were biodynamic wines. And so I am now the owner of what I think is my first ever bottle of biodynamic wine.

I must admit I am still a little skeptical. Plus, it was a little pricier than I am normally willing to spend on something I haven’t tested. But, I’ll try anything once. So come January 17th, we shall see!

What Wine Books to Buy?

My very thoughtful parents gave me an Amazon gift card for Christmas since we wouldn’t be going to their home this year and they didn’t want to ship a ton of books to our house. I am now left contemplating what books I should buy. I have a few on my list and Matt gave me the Oxford Companion to Wine for Christmas already.

Currently this is my list:

How to Taste: A Guide to Enjoying Wine by Jancis Robinson
The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil
Red White and Drunk All Over by Natalie MacLean
Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2007
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to Present by Thomas Pinney
American Vintage: The Rise of American Wine by Paul Lukacs
The Accidental Connoisseur by Lawrence Osborne

What do you think? Any I should ditch? Any I should add? Thoughts on any of these books? Am I missing a quintessential tome that I just have to have in my collection? 🙂