Digging Into the New Stash Already!

I just couldn’t wait to start drinking some of the wines we brought home from Sonoma and to cure my cellar fatigue. So we hoped right in with this bottle of 2005 Passalacqua Sonoma County Zinfandel. As I’ve mentioned before, Matt and I are big Zinfandel fans and I am always on the look-out for new ones to love, and this bottle was no dissappointment.

We picked this bottle up at the winery for $25, it had a real cork closure and clocks in at 14.8% alcohol.

On the nose I found black pepper, vanilla, raspberries and strawberries. Overall, the nose had a toasty oak charcteristic. In the mouth I found blackberries, raspberries, cherries and strawberries.

Overall I would describe this wine as juicy. It is currently very smooth in the mouth and drinking really well. I wouldn’t hold this one for more than another year if you have any bottles hanging around.

I served this with pasta and tomato sauce and fresh parmesean. It was an okay match, but Zins are not my first choice for tomato based pasta sauce. I prefer a Sangiovese with my tomato sauce! I picture steaks on the grill being a future match with the other bottle I have! (We just got a grill for the new house and the weather seems perfect!)

Osteria 177

I met a friend whom I hadn’t seen in many months in Annapolis, MD recently. Neither she nor I had ever been there before, but I would definitely love to return. Many cute shops and restaurants to explore, plus a beautiful setting. We initially drove into town and saw a wine bar and were going to get lunch there, but it turned out to literally be just a wine bar. So instead we meandered back to this Italian restaurant called Osteria 177. An excellent find overall.

The atmosphere was very laid back, with high ceilings and deep colors on the walls. We got a cozy corner booth where we chatted the afternoon away over some delicious food and wine. My friend Kim ordered the whole Dover sole with white wine and caper sauce and fresh asparagus. The server highly recommended it, but it wasn’t listed on the menu. The presentation was fabulous, they actually cooked the fish whole and brought it to your table and dressed it tableside. Very cool. However, not so cool when the bill arrived and her meal was $45….everything on the menu was less than $20, so it was a huge shock. I had a delicious fresh mozzerella and prosciutto pannini ($9) and a lobster/crab bisque ($3). Both were fantastic, as was the fish. The soup was just the kind of bisque I like, very light with lots of chunks of crab and lobster. The sandwich was grilled perfectly and the prisciutto was the best I’ve had in the US.

Onto the wine. We wanted a bottle as we knew we would spend at least 3 hours or so catching up over lunch and could take our time with a bottle even though it was lunch. Kim prefers red wine, even though she was having fish so I looked for a good red. I couldn’t find anything that I thought she would like, so I asked our server for a recommendation in a price range. He said he had a Barbaresco that was not on the menu and recommended that. As I tasted it, I knew Kim would love it and took the bottle.

It was a 2003 Poderi Colla Barbaresco Roncaglia. I see you can find it here for $45.99, so the restaurant price of $60 was really not bad at all. The wine was 14% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure.

On the nose the wine showed violets, leather, dried cherries and roses. It was very aromatic and I kept going back to stick my nose in the glass. I love wines where I just can’t get enough of the aroma. In the mouth, the flavor was full, but it wasn’t a heavy wine. I thought it was very well rounded and drinking very well now. The flavors were leather, deep red fruits and cherries. Oddly enough, the wine left an impression of rose water with me. I really enjoyed this wine, though a lot can be said for the fact that I was very much enjoying the company with whom I was drinking the wine, which always adds to the experience!

Overall, the service was fantastic, the food expertly prepared and the atmosphere great. The wine list was interesting, though very pricey in comparison to the food. However, I would definitely go back and would recommend it for lunch. Just don’t be shocked if you order the Dover Sole! And, it can sometimes pay to ask for a recommendation because you can end up with something totally different!

Quivira 2004 Zinfandel

This bottle arrived in the mail in our latest Quivira club shipment (by the way, how did I not learn about wine by mail before last summer??). The wine was a 2004 Dry Creek Valley Wine Creek Ranch Quivira Zinfandel. It cost $25.50 after a discount, had a real cork closure and clocked in at 14.4% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found blackberries, raspberries, dark cherries and undercurrents of currants (yeah, I know, poor choice of words, give me a break, it’s been a long week already and it’s only Tuesday). In the mouth I found raspberries, red fruit and cracked pepper.

In the mouth the wine had quite a bit of juicy fruit mid-palate and was a bit tannic towards the finish. I think that overall the wine was fairly young and could easily sit on my shelf for at least another year, probably a bit longer than that as well. I served the wine with my steak and risotto dish, with the sauce made from raspberry jam instead of red currant jam as I was out of red currant jam and didn’t realize it until the steaks were already cooking. The risotto only had two cheeses, the extra sharp Cabot I had in the fridge and some fresh grated parmesean. Good match for our dinner, I do like using the wine we are drinking in the sauce for the steak!

Ceja Vino de Casa

We drank our very first bottle of wine from our very first WineQ shipment this week. The bottle was a 2005 Vino de Casa-White. It cost $17.99 (free shipping!), had a real cork closure and was 12.8% alcohol by volume. The blend is made of 68% Chardonnay, 28% Marsanne and 4% Viognier. I didn’t really think that only 4% Viognier would make a difference, but was I ever wrong, from the nose, this could have almost been a Viognier.

The wine was incredibly aromatic, I could smell it as I opened the bottle. The nose was full of tropical fruit, pineapples and touch of oak, which I am assuming comes from the finishing in 2nd fill French oak as this is a steel fermented wine. In the mouth the wine was smooth and creamy. Flavors of lemon and apple dominated with a sweet hint that I want to say was toffee or caramel.

Overall the wine had an excellent structure and flavor. I was actually surprised by the flavors as I didn’t know what to expect from this type of blend. We drank it on its own on a lazy weekened afternoon (one of our last of those for a while now that we have a house to take care of!) but I think it would have done well with many foods, particulary a roast chicken. A very successful first foray into WineQ. (More to come on my WineQ experience later.)

Sorry for the blog silence, we had a death in the family and had to travel unexpectedly for a few days. I’m also starting my new job today and the movers are coming on Saturday, so please pardon my slightly erratic posting and my lack of commenting on other blogs, I am still reading I promise!

Visiting Passalacqua Winery

Another stop on our marathon tasting day in Sonoma, just before lunch, was Passalacqua Winery. Overall impressions: tiny tasting room and tiny tasting bar. It was too crowded (with only 3 groups) when we first walked in for us to even taste. We waited for 2 groups (of only 2 people in each) to leave before we stepped up for our tasting. However, the tasting room was bright and cheery with plenty of things to look at while we waited. The winery charges a $5 non-refundable tasting fee, and they are the only winery we visited where the fee was actually enforced even though we bought several bottles of wine, though the attendant only charged us for one tasting instead of two.

2005 Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc: $16. My favorite white wine of the trip I believe. Grass and citrus on the nose. Crisp and clean with melon flavors in the mouth. We took home 4 bottles.

2005 Dry Creek Valley Chardonnay: $21. NMS. Flowers spice and citrus in this one. It didn’t work for me.

2005 Sonoma County Barrel Chardonnay: $30. Oak, reserved nose. Lemon, creamy and reserved in the mouth.

2005 Sonoma County Zinfandel: $25. Jammy nose, pepper. Raspberries in the mouth. Lighter than I am used to for a Zin, but it worked for me. We took home 2 bottles.

2004 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: $40. Currants, old red fruit and saddle leather on the nose. Cherries with a spicy after taste in the mouth.

Big Red

Drank this bottle of NV Hop Kiln Big Red while just hanging around the other night. The wine cost $12 and came in a club shipment, with a real cork closure. Matt pitched the bottle before I managed to write down the alcohol content, but I imagine it was close to 15%. The wine itself is a Zinfandel blend, so has a lot of Zinfandel characteristics.

I found the nose of this wine to be fairly complicated and layered. At first it was all vanilla and blackberry, which gave way to oak and black currants and finally showed a spice that I cannot place. In the mouth I got flavors of blueberries, blackberries and plums.

Overall I would describe this wine as very full of flavors and with a big feeling in the mouth, almost as if it were heavy. At the end, the wine is tannic, drying the back of your tongue a bit. I imagine that this would be fine if you’ve left it on your shelves for a few years. I thought that for only $12 this was a fairly complex and well done wine.

Visiting Argentina (Through Wine)

I picked up this bottle of 2004 Barricas Tempranillo from Chronicle Wine Cellar in Pasadena. It had a real cork closure, cost $6.95 and was 13% alcohol by volume. At this price point, I thought this wine was a fairly good value, though I’m not terribly familiar with Tempranillos, so don’t have much to judge it by. I believe I had one at a Best Cellars tasting and I wasn’t impressed. This one, for $6.95 was definitely drinkable and I thought it had good characteristics.

On the nose there was leather, undertones of bosenberry and a distinct barnyard aroma. I picked up on that when I opened the bottle, but didn’t want to prejudice anyone who was drinking the wine so didn’t say anything until everyone was drinking and laughing at me as I tokk notes. (Matt’s friends from home again.) Then I said “barnyard” and they laughed even more until one finally stuck his nose in the glass and said “It is like a barnyard!” In the mouth I would describe this wine as being full of juicy fruit, mostly blackberry with hints of the leather from the nose. A tasty wine and one I wouldn’t hesitate to get again.