On the Mend

I’m finally feeling well enough to sit up and focus long enough to write up a post. I think I’ve had the plague. It’s been a super fun week, given the I’ve only been at my job for 5 months so I had all of 3 sick days to use to get over whatver this was…

Anyway, back to the wine. The other night (don’t really remember when) we drank this bottle of 2005 Terlato Pinto Grigio. I’m assuming we picked this up last summer though to be honest I have no recollection of visiting the vineyard and it’s the only bottle in our collection, so I’m stumped. There was only one other vineyard where we bought but one bottle and that was due to the fact that the least expensive bottle there was $39…a little out of our everyday price range!

So this bottle. Cost us $22, is 13.6% alcohol by volume and had a screwcap closure. On the nose this bottle was very aromaic, showing a melon and white flowers. In the mouth there was more melon and a bit of spice. The wine actually surprised me in the mouth, as it was heavier than I expected from the nose and actually had a touch of an oily feel to it. Overall, a well done Pinot Grigio. I served this with Chinese take-out, which consisted of Seshwan Beef, Spicy Shrimp and Sweet and Sour Chicken. It was a pretty good match for the meal, with the melon giving a good balance to the spicy food. I also wrote down that I’d like to drink this on the porch in the summer.


Tasting with Best Cellars

I seem to have picked up a bug yesterday and am currently in my pjs on my couch, sitting up for the first time today and eating some ice chips…yum, ice chips. Basically, it means I had no wine last night (or really nothing at all, yum, ice chips….) and I will not be imbibing tonight either. Instead, I have a report on a tasting we attended a few weeks ago (part of my backlog of posts) with Best Cellars in Dupont Circle. It was organized by my college’s alumni club and cost us $30 for the evening for lots of yummy appetizers and 6 wines. A little pricey, but all the profit goes to the scholarship fund, so at least it’s a good cause.

We were presented with 3 white, 2 reds and a port to taste. It was done very nicely, with a new glass for each wine, the server explaining all the wines and asnwering questions that the participants had.

First up was a Botter “Spago’ Prosecco from Veneto, Italy. The bottle cost $11, is 11% alcohol by volume and is non-vintage. On the nose, it was sweet and fruity with a distinct scent of almond paste, plus a little honey. In the mouth it was very slightly fizzy, light and slightly slight, but with a nice crisp note to keep it in line. In the taste I got fizzy peaches and apricots. A good value.

Second was a 2005 Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc from Napa. The bottle cost $15, is 13.5% alcohol by volume and has a screwcap closure. On the nose, this one showed grassy herbs and a tiny bit of apple. I was surprised when I sipped it and got a large amount of pear in the mouth, with a bit of apple and finishing with big grapefruit. Overall, this one had a very good structure and acidity. It’s exactly what I wanted with my crab the other night when I got an oaked sauvignon blanc instead.

Third up was a Crisol Torrontes from Mendoza, Argentina. The bottle cost $9. This wine showed honey, sharp white flowers (I’m not really sure what I meant by that) and passion fruit on the nose. In the mouth, there was a slightly sour note, but the rest of the flavor was all crisp green apples. At $9 this was a great value, I would definitely get it again.

Next we moved to the reds. First up was a 2005 Tortoise Creek Pinot Noir from Pays d’Oc, France (I didn’t get a chance to look at this bottle, but I was under the impression that the French didn’t name their wines by the grape….am I totally wrong?). This one was $12, was 13% alcohol by volume and had a screwcap. An odd fact about this one is that it is stainless steel fermented. The wine was ruby red in the glass, with a nose of raisins and black currants. In the mouth, I got more of the currants, plus a little earth. This one was a bit mouth drying, though smooth until the end and showing some cherries. My overall impression was “eh.”

Second for the reds was a 2006 Altos las Hormigas Malbec Reserva, again from Mendoza, Argentina. This one cost $13 and was 14.3% alcohol by volume. I got alcohol and plastic on the nose of this one, with a little spice. After that cleared, I got raspberries, cedar and black currants. In the mouth, some currants, and not much else. This was my least favorite of the evening.

Finally, we had a Ramos Pinto Tawny Port from Douro Valley, Portugal. This wine cost $15 and is 19.5% alcohol by volume. This wine smelled sweet and had alcohol on the nose. I also got some dark fruit on the nose. In the mouth, this was really full of alcohol, but I also managed to discern dried raisins, dried currants and dark fruits. Overall I thought it tasted like Robitussin cough syrup. But I’ll admit I’m not a big port drinker, so I don’t really know what makes a good port.

Altogether, a very nice evening and I’m glad we attended. I also really enjoyed some of the whites and the price was right for everyday wines. When I am in need again I will be seeking out the 2 whites I really liked, as I thought they were very good values.

To protect the Innocent

Or not so innocent as the case shall be, I will not be naming names or wines in this post. Merely, a few thoughts on when I realized that I have become, for all intents and purposes, a full fledged wine snob. Well, perhaps not a snob, because I wouldn’t laud knowledge or wine above anyone else. And I would never actually tell someone that what I was thinking in my head while watching them guzzle a crappy wine as they extolled its virtues was: OMG PUT THAT DOWN IT’S DISTGUSTING. But a snob nonetheless. And I realize that at one point in my life, when I was a broke college student and didn’t know that better wine was out there nor could I afford it or get my hands on it, I drank these wines. They were there. They were cheap. It was college, we weren’t really on the hunt for that great bottle of wine so much as a hunt for a state of cheap inebriation to deal with the freezing cold winters of New Hampshire.

I have absolutely nothing against inexpensive wines. In fact, I routinely am on a hunt for really good inexpensive wines and avidly read Good Wine Under $20 and Quaffability in search of more worthwhile inexpensive regions, varietels and bottles to try. However, I cannot drink cheap wine. It’s just plain awful. I am differentiating cheap from inexpensive here folks. Cheap to me is the wine made in vats bigger than my house, filled with chips of oak or other flavor “enhancers” the comes out of the bottle with what can only be described as the smell of chemical waste.

Thus, it entered my mind as I had to develop a blank stare and nod my head when a friend started talking about how the zinfandel from this giant bottle of wine on the counter was the best wine that I am a wine snob. Plain and simple. That’s not good zinfandel. I’ll show you good zinfandel. I have a bedroom closet full of it. I just can’t bring myself to go back to drinking that stuff. It had a time and a place in my life, but that time and place is over and has been for a while (pretty much the day I turned 21).


I wonder if the wine writer over at the Washington Post reads wine blogs? An article appeared this week in the Food and Dining section of the Post about biodynamically produced wine. Considering we recently had WBW 29 which featured biodynamically produced wine, you just have to wonder. The article echoes many of the questions and concerns posed by all the wine bloggers when reveiwing the wines tasted for WBW. It also has a hefty dose of skepticism mixed in with its information, also a theme I noticed in that particular WBW. Who knows.

Back on Track

I’ve been off visiting the fam in CT for the past few days, so I apologize for my lack of posting! The dial-up there is not so conducive to even using the internet, let alone doing anything else on it.

On Thursday (see, I told you I had a backlog of posts!) we went out to dinner at one of our local favorites, the Lebanese Taverna. My Dad was in town to do our housing inspection (which went very well, nothing major is wrong, we are proceeding to closing, yay!) and he loves the food there, but my Mom won’t eat it, so we always go when it’s just him visiting.

The Taverna actually has a really interesting and fairly diverse wine menu, including many selections from Lebanon. We’ve tried several of those in the past and have always liked them. However, my eye was drawn to a bottle of Pinot Blanc from Alsace, because I was thinking of the WBW hosted by Fork and Bottle a few months back where I had a biodynamic bottle of Pinot D’Alsace, which was a different blend, but had Pinot Blanc in it. Back then, I had wanted to find the same varietal from the same location and taste them side-by-side, but couldn’t turn up a non-biodynamic one fast enough.

When I saw the bottle of Pierre Sparr 2004 Reserve Pinot Blanc, I had to get it. The basics: restaurant priced at $31, though I see you can find it here for $11.99, it’s 12.5% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure.

On the nose of this bottle I got lots of green apples. It was very floral and aromatic, a very good nose. In the mouth, I found minerals, more green apples and just a slight citrus quality. The finish was quite long, with the crips flavors lingering in the mouth. Overall, this was a very good wine and a great choice for dinner. We all had some variation of beef and lamb shwarma, which had a bit of a spicy kick to it, and the wine lent itself nicely to flavors.

In terms of comparing this bottle to my WBW bottle, I don’t think that after drinking them, the comparison is fair, and I’m not sure I will every get a fair comparision, since the blend I drank for WBW only had 30% Pinot Blanc grapes in it, and though I can’t find information on what grapes other than Pinot Blanc (if any) were used in this bottle, I’m fairly certain it was a higher percentage than 30% Pinot Blanc. Oh well, just an excuse to keep trying other ones!

Celebrating V-Day

We’re not really Valentine’s Day people. As evidenced by the fact that when someone asked me what we were doing that evening I gave them a blank stare because I had no idea why they thought we would be doing anything.

We spent our first married V-day at home, eating leftover Zuppa Toscano. We celebrated by popping open one of our more expensive (to us!) bottles of wine and it was well worth it!

The bottle was a 2003 Dutcher Crossing Taylor Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. It cost us $39 at the vineyard and had a real cork closure.

On the nose there were strawberries, then blackberries and then a spice, which I think was ginger. After a little while just a hint of vanilla showed. Several hours later, a big scent of black currants showed through.

In the mouth on my first glass I got earth, black currants and other dark fruits. A tiny hint of oak showed through, but overall, this wine was full of deep, dark flavors (can I describe a wine that way?). Then, wow, after a few hours, I tasted the oddest thing, but it’s really good, despite how disgusting this will sound….chocolate leather! Yum!

The wine could definitely age for a while, though it’s drinking beautifully now. An excellent choice to share on this first Valentine’s Day as married folks, since we didn’t do anything else to celebrate, at least we had good wine!

Drink it now!

We had a bottle of 2005 David Coffaro Pinot Noir to drink tonight. It cost us $25 at David Coffaro and had a screw-cap closure which was nearly impossible to open. I paired it with garlic herb chicken, mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.

Currants, spice and a hint of vanilla on the nose. In the mouth, cherries. And just a bit of spice. It’s incredibly smooth. There isn’t a hint of a tannin or any bite in this wine. I would suggest drinking it now or fairly soon. It didn’t need to be decanted at all, except for the fact that there is quite a bit of sediment since this is an unfiltered wine.

After an hour, I got raspberries on the nose and in the mouth. What I found odd about this wine was that it looked like a much older Pinot Noir, the color was darker and less ruby than most young Pinot Noirs. Overall, this was a delicious wine and quite a value for $25! Perhaps the layering of flavors that appears actually suggests that it could be aged longer. However, I must say, it taste pretty darn good the way it is.

Then there were 6

Matt cancelled two more wine clubs last night. Which leaves us with six still going strong. However, I have spoken with most of them and reduced our shipments to only once or twice a year, which makes the shipping infinitely more affordable and reasonable for us. So that puts us at an average of $150 a month over 12 months for shipments of wine. Much better than the $400 we had been averaging for the last 6 months! It’s only going to be about 68 bottles of wine a year now, instead of closer to 140. Not to mention what I had been spending on everyday wine from various wine shops around here. Ah, the cost of being a wine lover. Where’s that winning lottery ticket when I need it? Or perhaps the job that’s willing to pay me to drink wine? Or just pay me a lot more money than a government minion makes! Hmm, what should I drink in the meantime? We’re working our way through our stash at a fairly alarming rate.

I’m going Bananas!

The other night we drank a bottle of 2005 un-oaked Hop Kiln Chardonnay. It cost us $16, is 14.5% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure. I paired it with some leftover Zuppa Toscano, just trying to get a feel for what goes well with it. This did not go well at all.

The wine smells like bananas and tropical fruits.
There are some tropical fruits in the mouth, but not nearly what I would expect based on the nose. At the end, just a tiny bit of peach could be detected. But overall, kind of flat. I wasn’t impressed with the flavor of this wine. The taste is a little off for a Chardonnay, even for an un-oaked Chardonnay, which I usually like a lot. I can’t really put a finger on what’s off, exactly, but it just didn’t work for me. Ordinarily, I would say it’s the banana scent that put me off, since I can’t stand bananas, but Matt also commented that he didn’t really care for this bottle.

I’ve had a string recently of wines I’ve not been pleased with. Perhaps I need to take a drinking break for a few days…..well, that would just be punishing myself though! Thankfully, the bottle we drank last night was excellent and I can’t wait to review it!

Hanna 2005 Pinot Noir

I know this wine exists. I drank it and I have a picture of it. However, I can find absolutely no mention of it on their website. Very odd. In anycase, it came in a club shipment, cost us $25ish, runs 14.6% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure.

I thought this wine showed a lot of potential. I think perhaps we drank it a little too young, but what with serving Roz’s Zuppa Toscana again, I wanted a Pinot Noir since it seemed to work so well last time I paired the two. A few hours in the glass and this was a very tasty wine.

In the glass, it was a beautiful ruby red color. You can’t tell from the picture because, well, I kind of suck as a photographer, plus my life pile on the table is starting to really cramp my photographs!

On the nose I found cherries, raspberries and spices. In the mouth, after a few hours, it was quite smooth and showed raspberries, more spices and some cedar characteristics. Overall, a good wine that just needs some time to come into its own.