Grapes I Can’t Pronounce

Actually, I think that would be a really long list. This post is only about one of those grapes. In my quest to reach the Century Club (wow, I really need to send that paperwork in) I encountered many grapes I had never previously heard of and many of which I butchered the names every time I tried to pronounce them! This one in particular I’m still trying to sound out. Hooked on Phonics doesn’t really work well for Greek words. Today we tried out the Assyrtiko grape, an indigenous Greek grape. I picked up the 2008 Yannis Santorini Assyrtiko at The Curious Grape in Shirlington Village. A while ago they were hosting a seminar on holiday wines which we arrived a few minutes late for and therefore couldn’t participate in, but since we’d driven all the way there, we picked up a couple bottles anyway! The wine had a real cork closure and clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume.

My first impression of the wine was that is smelled like watermelon Airheads. Otherwise I found pear, spice, melon, citrus, and cream. The mouth showed lemon, melon, pear, and spice. While I found it to be fairly simple, it had good acidity and the flavors were crisp and clean.  I’ve not seen a bottle of Assyrtiko bottled by itself since I got this one, though if I did, I’d pick it up to compare as what I read about the grape suggests that it has more citrus and mineral characteristics, which I didn’t really pick up in this bottle. I understand the grape is often blended with other grapes to make such wines as Restina (an experience I had once that I don’t really care to repeat!).


It’s All About the Bubbles

I continue on my quest to taste lots of sparkling wines this year! While I’m totally failing at the rest of my goals (read books, write about restaurants, etc…..) I am knocking this bubbly one out of the park. So a 1/3win? Books should pick up soon though as I begin a hectic travel schedule for work and find myself on many an airplane and in strange cities with nothing to do but read (or sit at the bar alone, but that starts to feel pretty pathetic fairly quickly). So the bubbly. Tonight we pulled out the NV Wolfberger Brut Rose Cremant d’Alsace. I picked this one up at Unwined in Alexandria for $18.99, clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume,  and it had a traditional Champagne closure.

On the nose I got bright lime, raspberries, cranberry, strawberries, and watermelon. Mostly the tart red fruits, especially the cranberry, dominated the nose. In the mouth, more of the same red fruits showed up. Watermelon, cranberry, fresh picked strawberry, and tart raspberries. Overall I found the fruit to show as quite tart with the wine being crisp and dry. Another great bubbly for relaxing outside in our finally nice weather!

Riesling on My Mind

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for the Wines of Germany.

Riesling is one of those wines that I really enjoy, but for some reason it rarely crosses me mind to buy when I’m standing in front of the racks in a wine store. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a very good grasp of German wine producers and I’ve been burned one too many times by insipid Riesling or perhaps it’s just because I don’t think about it often. Which is a shame. Riesling is a versatile wine, pairing with all sorts of different foods and its varying sweetness levels lending well to every course from cheese through dessert.  Tonight we tried out the 2007 Josef Leitz Eins Zwei Dry 3 Riesling Trocken. I see it retailing online for as little as $11, with the current 2008 vintage available as well for around $18. The Riesling clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume and had a screw cap closure.

On the nose I got wet stones, apple, pear, flowers, some herbal notes, and meyer lemon. In the mouth more lemon and meyer lemon, apple, green apple, pear, and herbal notes. Overall I found this Riesling to be crisp and dry with nice acidity. While we drank it on its own, I would certainly serve this with my cheese course, or hand a glass to friends as they arrived to our house. At $11, the value can’t be beat.

Living in Bubbles

I am pretty much kicking some serious butt at my goal of drinking more bubbles this year. We’ve had more sparkling wine in the first half of 2010 than I think I’ve covered in all 4 years of writing this blog. Such a painful and hard goal too…  I’ve had lots of help from Jill over at DomaineLA with picking out and getting a diverse selection of bubbly to my door. I need to restock at least once more before our weather turns too warm for shipping! We’ve fallen into the tradition of opening a bottle of bubbles on a Saturday afternoon and hanging outside when it’s nice playing board games or curled up inside with a fire and a movie if it’s rainy or cold. For one of the nice days I chose the NV Francois Pinon Vouvray Brut. I purchased this from DomaineLA for $22, it had a traditional champagne closure, and clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume.

Off the first sniff this bubbly reminded me of beer. It showed yeast, toast, and apples, with a side of marshmallow and yellow apple. Also, it sort of just smelled a little hoppy like beer to me. In the mouth I found lots more apple, though it tended toward a greener apple than the nose, more toast, and melon notes. While the bubbly had an element of sweetness (perhaps better described as a fuller creamier mouthfeel) it remained plenty crisp and had nice acidity. I think I trounced Matt in Scrabble this day!

Bad Boys Bad Boys

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for Rocca Family Vineyards.

There’s a remainder of a really bad song in there, but for my sanity and yours I’m going to refrain from continuing with the lyrics so I don’t have it stuck n my head all day long. Mixed in with our spring we’ve had some really cold weather. Weather that requires a fire to be built, a big glass of red wine, and some stick to your bones home cooking. On one such night I made an eye of the round roast and cracked open the 2007 Bad Boy Red Rocca Family Vineyards. The Bad Boy is 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc, 17% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. It had a real cork closure, retails for $32, and clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I got pepper, plum, blackberry, big black fruit, fresh blackberry, anise, cinnamon, baking spice, and black cherry. Right from the nose I got the impression that this would be a big knock you down fruit filled wine. In the mouth I found leather, slight chocolate notes, dried cherry, raspberry, spice, dried flowers, black cherry, plum, and a backbone of earthy notes running through. Color me surprised. The wine on the palate showed as much more reserved and refined than I expected from the nose, surprising me with the earth and dried cherry notes. The Bad Boy paired nicely with our roast, the cold weather, and a roaring fire!

Gruner Kick

Like I said earlier this week, I was inspired by the GruV Olympics to go out and fetch some Gruner of my own. My only problem is that I normally only find one or two bottles in any given wine shop and often one of those bottles is a 1.5L bottle that I don’t want to drink. So I was delighted to find that Unwined in Alexandria actually had a pretty good selection of Gruner and I snagged a few different bottles to try. We sipped on the 2008 Tegernseerhof  T 26 Gruner Veltliner while enjoying a nice afternoon in our rocking Adirondack chairs on the front porch. This Gruner cost me $14.99 at Unwined, had a screw cap closure, and clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found tinned pears, tinned peas, white pepper, tropical notes, pineapple, and apple. In the mouth I got more pears, pineapple, tinned veggies, lemon, apple, and grapefruit. Overall I really thought this had great acidity and I promise the tinned veggies weren’t a turn off at all!

The Joy of Champagne

I’ve never drank a lot of actual Champagne. It’s one of those regions where I often feel like I’m paying the price for the name “Champagne.” Plus, I’ve had a difficult time finding any in stores local to me that’s not one of the giant houses. If I’m going to spend $50+ on a bottle of wine, I really do want something unique, not s big name wine  you can find in every supermarket. Additionally, I am on a quest this year to drink more bubbles, so a bottle of sparkling or Champagne is making its way into an almost weekly rotation in our house! Tonight we tried the A Margaine Brut Premier Cru Champagne. I picked this up at Unwined in Alexandria, VA for $46.99, it had a traditional Champagne closure, and clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume.

Right out of the glass aromas of walking into a bakery jumped out. Yeasty dough, fresh baked bread, sourdough bread, a carb lover’s dream. I also got lemon and wafers with a hint of cream. In the mouth, more lemon, green apple, lime, and bread. I thought it almost tasted reminiscent of a pineapple Lifesaver on the finish. Overall I’ve call this wine delicate (I used that word at least 3 times in my notes!) and refined. It convinced me that I must drink more Champagne from smaller producers.

Gruner Gruner Gruner Gruner

After participating in the GruV Olympics (which I still need to write about…now where are those notes…) I got on a bit of a Gruner Veltliner kick. The weather turned nice and Matt and I were spending time outside playing Battleship (he lost, both games) and a light crisp wine seemed just the ticket. Luckily, I got lost driving home from UPS the same day (cut me some slack, I swear the mixing bowl changes every time I have to go through it) and I happened to take the route by Unwined home, which I usually never do. Somehow, my car magically steered into the parking lot and I just had to go into the store and pick up some spring-time wines. I think I got 2 or 3 bottles of Gruner Veltliner and a couple bottles of sparkling wine. First we tried the 2008 Anton Bauer Gmork Gruner Veltliner. It had a screw cap closure, cost me $10.99 at Unwined, and clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found white pepper, lemon, tropical notes, exotic vanilla, green apple, and crushed gravel. In the mouth I got lime, white pepper, more lime, green apple, and more lime. Overall I thought the wine had good acidity and for around $11 was a great example of Gruner Veltliner. You’ll have to ask Matt how it tasted alongside a helping of defeat at Battleship!

A Spring in my Step

Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for Wines of Germany.

Spring is in the air! I thought it might pass us over this year given our never-ending winter, but it appears that we are in the midst of a gorgeous spring! In spring my thoughts turn even more to sprightly white wines. Plenty of bubbly, Riesling, Gruner, and Sauvignon Blanc has been flowing in the Wannabe Wino house. To continue in this trend I dug the 2007 Leitz Rüdesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Spätlese Riesling. It had a screw cap closure, clocked in at 8% alcohol by volume, and retails for about $20.

On the nose I found flowers, honey, white peach, nectarine, apricot, and white pepper. I thought it smelled a little on the sweet side with the apricot and the honey. I found the palate to be pretty much identical to the nose with lots of stone fruit and a touch of apple. While it had a trace of a mineral vein running through it, I wished that it had just a little more acidity overall to hold it together.

Le Fou

Despite what it sometimes may look like here, I actually do buy a lot of wine. In the last year or so I haven’t been drinking as much of my own wine given the number of samples that show up at my door. However, rest assured that the Wannabe Wino Cellar is growing at an alarmingly fast rate…we just brought home 6 cases and 4 Magnums from our recent Sonoma/Napa trip tipping the basement to the over 700 bottles point! Now, the thing with samples is that the most frequent varieties that appear are Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. I don’t know about any of you, but I like some variety in my wine drinking, which is when I turn to my collection. We pulled the 2006 Michel Schlumberger Le Fou Pinot Noir to enjoy with a roast chicken. It clocked in at 14.6% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and retails for $36, though it arrived in a club shipment so it cost me $25 plus shipping.

On the nose I found mint, eucalyptus, funk, herbs, black cherries, spice, raspberries, and a little more barnyard-y funk. Love it. In the mouth I got black cherry, herbs, earth, spice, raspberry, and other black fruit. The structure and acidity of this wine impressed me and I thought that I wished I had another bottle or two to taste in a few years. My notes say this is a “refined” wine.