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I think that this was the first Christmas that I did not open more red wines than white. In fact, this year I did not open any red wines. Maybe I was just hesitant because of a recurring ulcer that doesn't tolerate the reds as well as the whites or maybe I am loosing my taste for red wine or maybe I'm just getting paranoid here. The most obvious reason is that with a dwindling family size, Christmas dinner is no longer the big extravaganza that it was in the past. Turkey, ham, lasagna and a tenderloin with all the trimmings imaginable with a choice of four or five desserts all served after a ton of hors d'oeuvres was once the norm. Now we make it more simple, but still a little special. This year, for a change, we served Cornish hens, with potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts, cranberries and corn. Not a real challenge for a wine pairing, especially since I was leaving out some of my favorite red wines. An early afternoon Sauvignon Blanc was opened with appetizers of cheese bits, pepperoni slices and a veggie tray and assorted dips and for dinner I opened a white wine that I picked up on our recent Holiday Shopping Spree on Cayuga Lake; a King Ferry Winery Treleaven semi-dry Riesling 2011
King Ferry Winery, maker of Treleaven Wines, is superbly located on the east side of Cayuga Lake. The winery produces multiple award winning Treleaven Wines, including Chardonnays that are crafted in the centuries-old Burgundian tradition.
Although I have never before visited the wineries on the East side of Cayuga Lake, I have tasted a few wines from the King Ferry Winery
. Every Saturday morning you can find Treleaven wines at the Central New York Regional Market
. Shirley is usually good enough to make me tag along at least once a month and it was there I bought my first few bottles of Treleaven. Nice to have a place to buy a nice wine for the week end in the early morning hours on Saturday in CNY.
This 2011 Riesling is full of floral, peach, honeydew melon and pear aromas. In the mouth there was loads of fruit with some light grapefruit citrus. Excellent match with the Cornish hens and I was able to save a glass for later that evening. This is another fine example of Finger Lakes quality when it comes to Riesling. Very Highly Recommended.
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Had to open a red wine with pasta and homemade tomato sauce this week and there just happened to be a new sample bottle, on the table, of Tempranillo from Spain that I had just received. Usually when I receive samples, they are racked until I feel the time is right or the meal is right for pairing before I open them. This time it was only about one hour before opening a Viña Zaco Tempranillo 2010 ($15).
Tempranillo, a red grape native to Spain and the primary grape variety used in the Rioja Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOC), produces wines typically characterized by their deep purple color, fruity notes of dark, ripe berries, andsmoky components of vanilla, tobacco and leather, which are generallypresentdue tothe wine being aged in oak barrels.
Zaco is not constrained by the rules of the traditional aging process. It is neither a Crianza
nor a Reserva
. Zaco is simply ready when award-winning international winemaker Diego Pinilla believes the wine is reaching its full potential. Every year Diego will identify the perfect moment to bottle Zaco.-Crianza red wines are aged for 2 years with at least 6 months in oak. Crianza whites and rosés must be aged for at least 1 year with at least 6 months in oak.-Reserva red wines are aged for at least 3 years with at least 1 year in oak. Reserva whites and rosés must be aged for at least 2 years with at least 6 months in oak.
The 2010 vintage matured in 50% French oak and 50% American oak for 9 months.
The color was a dark cherry red with aromas of plum, red cherries and hints of vanilla and some cinnamon. Flavors of ripe cherry, plum, spice, toast and smoke in the mouth with a super long finish with just a touch of spice. An excellent wine for pasta and sauce. Other foods that will pair well would be tapas, grilled chicken and BBQ meats. I would also recommend just sipping or chilling out with a few bites of light cheeses.
Suggested retail price on this new release is $15. Past vintages can be found at $10 or less, making this an outstanding value.
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In October of this year, Shirley and I spent a week in Virginia Beach attending a reunion of the ship I spent my Naval active duty on, the USS Pocono AGC/LCC-16. While there I visited a few wine shops and a few wineries on the Chesapeake Wine Trail. I was already sold on Virginia Viognier(vee-own-YAY) from past visits, so this time I wanted to bring home a few red wines. From recommendations at the wine shops, I brought home some Cabernet Franc and a Norton. Norton was first cultivated in Richmond, Virginia and is the official grape of the State of Missouri. I haven't opened the Norton yet, but I did finish the Cab Francs. The first three were very disappointing. Something about East Coast red wines I often find not to my liking. Right from the start, I get a lot of aroma's of damp soil and black olives and although drinkable, I can't rightfully say much more.
That changed this week when I opened the Jefferson Vineyards' NV Cabernet Franc($22). This was not a very typical Cabernet Franc, but was a nice fruit flavored, soft wine that paired well with Shirley's chicken stew. Light aromas of red cherry with a little oak and earth. Very fruity in the mouth with cherries and some plum. The finish was a bit short with some red fruit, a small taste of cranberry and soft. This wine is not going to blow you away, but it was pleasant and I can, at least now, get a bit more excited about trying more Virginia reds.
I have never been to the Charlottesville region of Virginia, although I moved to New York from Arlington VA and did travel much of the Commonwealth while living there, but now I must make plans for a summer visit, if only to visit the Jefferson Vineyards'. Not because the Cab Franc, but in October, Shirley and I fell in love with the Jefferson Vineyards' Viognier.
Our first evening in VaBeach we dined at a restaurant on the boardwalk. Since we have been vacationing there, Mahi Mah's oceanfront restaurant at 6th street has become our favorite and we tend to visit there as soon as we arrive. What was very pleasing to see this time, was a selection of over 20 Virginia wines on the menu. May have been because October is Virginia's Wine Month, but nonetheless, I don't recall seeing anything similar here in New York. Here I had the Bronzed Salmon rubbed with cajun seasoning and brown sugar, then grilled. I paired the salmon with a 2009 Jefferson Viognier. Color was a golden yellow, showing a little age, but still filled with floral, tropical fruits and peach. A very delightful meal, but I was still wanting more of this wine and I found it on our last night out.
|dinner at Tautog's|
While visiting the Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center
a volunteer at the Aquarium recommended a restaurant one block from the beach on 23rd St., Tautogs Restaurant at Winston's Cottage
. On the wine menu was a 2009 Jefferson Vineyards Viognier, which was a mis-print, because they were serving the 2011 vintage at a very nicely priced $34.
I immediately knew what wine I was ordering and matched it with fresh local Tuna Martinique - Fresh Tuna marinated in Lime with Cracked Black Pepper, Garlic, Olive Oil, and Zesty Red Onions. I honestly cannot say which was better, the wine or the food.
The color of the wine was a lot clearer than the '09 and filled with aromas of honeysuckle, peach, apricot and some guava/papaya like aroma. The palate was coated with hints of apple, tropical fruits and honey leading to a thick rich velvety finish. Unlike the Cab Franc, this wine will
blow you away. I can safely say that Viognier is my favorite Virginia wine and I will be back for more.
Jefferson Vineyards is one of the first to introduce quality, modern viticulture to Virginia and at long last help realize Thomas Jefferson’s dream of the native production of wine in Virginia. Through thirty years of experience, this modest farm winery offers select wines of superior quality. They produce between 6000 and 8000 cases annually. The wines they offer you are entirely of Virginia. The grapes are grown here on their property and in select sites across the Commonwealth. They do not buy fruit from outside Virginia, nor do they use any commercial concentrates or additives to intensify their wines. These choices are consistent with their values, and they believe they are true to Jefferson's original vision of winemaking in Virginia. Further, they believe these choices create a better bottle of wine and I am not going to argue with that.
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Last weekend Shirley, Pam and I spent the day traveling the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail,
in the New York Finger Lakes region, while participating in their annual Holiday Shopping Spree
, taking home a souvenir wineglass, a grapevine wreath, a collectible Cayuga Wine Trail ornament from each winery, plus holiday recipes. The tour also allowed us to complete much of our Christmas gift shopping in the wineries' gift shops. This season we made an effort to shop almost entirely at small local businesses like the winery shops and the many local shops in the village of Skaneateles, a week earlier, while attending their annual Dickens' Christmas
We started the shopping spree early Saturday morning at the Montezuma Winery
, which is located at the West side and northern end of the Lake along Rte's 5 & 20, traveled down the west side of the lake and finished at 6pm at the Long Point Winery
on the east side completing the day by visiting all 16 participating wineries. Shirley was our designated driver and designated shopper, although Pam and I did help with the shopping. Well at least Pam helped. I did promise that I would not be buying much wine on this trip, so Shirley brought only two of my six bottle wine bags, which meant I took home most of the wine in boxes. Had a hard time convincing her that three cases of wine is not really that much.
All of my day was spent tasting wine and some fantastic recipes at each winery. Among them were some pleasant surprises.
Surprise pairings included the Cranberry Orange Bread with Montezuma's Cranberry Bog wine. If you are like me and not really into fruit wines like Cranberry, then maybe you are just not matching it with the right food. This was a great start to our day along with a taste of a hot Bloody Mary from Montezuma's Hidden Marsh Distillery.
A second favorite pairing of the day was the Pasta and Bean soup with the Ithaca White blend from Six Mile Creek Vineyard
. We were thinking about skipping this winery, because it was located south of Ithaca and a bit out of the way, but very happy we decided not to.
As always, when touring the Finger Lakes Wine Trails, I do tend to bring home a few cases of wine. Most of the wines were 2011 Rieslings, but I did find some nice reds and other whites to fill the rack. Among them was a Viognier from Goose Watch Winery.
This is a wine I fell in love with on my last trip to Virginia and I found that there are only two or three Finger Lakes wineries producing this wine. Another very nice wine and new to my palate was Cobblestone Farm Winery & Vineyard's
2011 Vignoles Reserve. Although very sweet, I paired it with a cheese dip being served and had to bring a few home. Other white wines now in my rack are a Diamond from Thirsty Owl Wine Company
and a Gewurztraminer from Americana Vineyards
. Found these and lots of Rieslings, most notably at King Ferry Winery
, Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery
, Buttonwood Grove Winery
and Knapp Winery
along with a Limoncello from Knapp. Added to these were two surprising red wines from Long Point Winery
, a Sangiovese and a Zinfandel and a pleasant Cabernet Franc from Sheldrake Point Vineyards
The day wasn't all about wine, though. I did introduce myself to hard cider at Bellwether Hard Cider.
Think I found a nice accompaniment for Shirley's chili and many of her pork dishes. This nice light fermented beverage is low in alcohol and will make a nice summer thirst quencher. And, I can never leave Cayuga Lake with out some Swedish Hill Winery
Concord grape juice and Glendale Farms organic grape juice that I picked up at Hosmer Winery.
were a few mild disappointments. Although all the recipes and food tastings were great, there seemed to be too many dessert type samples. The three of us agreed that there should be a few more entrée samples. Finally, Shirley and Pam were expecting a lot more local artisans or locally made gift items and crafts in the shops. Sounds like a suggestion for next year!! Anyway, we will be back on Cayuga Lake in the summer and looking forward to the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail Home Shopping Spree 2013.
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Early this month I was able to pick up some of my favorite Heron Hill Rieslings at the New York Harvest Festival in Syracuse. I brought home a dry, a semi-dry and a semi-sweet. All three are very reasonably priced at $14 The semi-sweet was served at our Thanksgiving dinner as an apertif and the remaining two were opened the following week at home.
One issue I have overcome, over the past three years, is what white wine to serve on Thanksgiving. Now, it's a no-brainer; a Finger Lakes Riesling is always a hit and this year it was the Heron Hill semi-sweet. I found lot's of floral aromas with peach, citrus and a little slate. Nice soft peach flavors with some citrus and hints of honey were very pleasant with a smooth sweet finish.
The semi-sweet tasted much more sweeter than what I thought it would be with only 3.4% Residual Sugar and paired nicely with a tray of mild cheese and crackers.
A week later, at home, I opened the semi-dry with Shirley's Chili, made with ground turkey, diced pepperoncini and spices, dominated by organic chili powder. As I always do, I poured a glass to sip about 30 minutes before dinner. Aroma's were all peach with some melon and some honeysuckle and garden floral notes. In the mouth the wine was all peach and honeydew melon with a hint of pineapple leading to a fantastic smooth, balanced and white fruit finish. Definitely one of the top three 2011 Finger Lake Rieslings tasted to date. Now, about the pairing!!! I have always been a proponent of "Drink What You Like." If the wine is good and the food is good then your pairing is good. Not this time! The marriage between Shirley's Chili and Riesling ended in a quick divorce. Later that night, I finished the bottle and thoroughly enjoyed with a selection of cheeses, including Brie, Cheddar and Stilton with cranberries. I have one bottle left of the semi-dry and will save that for our next stir fry, which I know this will be a perfect match.
And finally I opened the dry Riesling with homemade quesadillas made with left over turkey and loads of jalapeno peppers then covered with guacamole and a medium hot salsa. The dry Rieslings have always been my favorite, although I find myself purchasing more sweeter ones now. I am also finding I enjoy a little more sweetness with peppery dishes like this one with jalapeno or habanero, but I will never shy away with the very versatile dry Riesling. Tropical fruit aromas like guava and kiwi, with lemon, mineral, a little grass and a tiny bit of tartness. Green apple, some tropical fruits and a dry citrus flavor were again, fantastic. Finish was long and tasty with very small hints of slate and not overly dry. There was a little sweetness that made this wine very delightful.
Heron Hill Winery
is nestled into a hill overlooking scenic Keuka Lake in New York’s Finger Lakes region. For over 35 years the winery has set the highest standards for wine quality, customer satisfaction and tasting room experience. Since its first vintage in 1977, Heron Hill has steadily grown from a small 5,000 case winery that only made white wines into a dynamic 20,000 case production facility and entertainment destination for more than 50,000 people every year. During the summer months you can dine at their Blue Heron Cafe
and enjoy free, live music every Sunday on the terrace from 12:30pm - 4:30pm all summer long.
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This is another Port wine I received as a sample for review. I also purchased a few bottles of Port from different producers, to review later, since opening the Graham's Six Grapes
on election night. I still don't know why I suddenly developed a craving for a wine that I would never have given a second look at as late as the last three years. I also found, at least so far, that all the Reserve Ruby Ports are very similar in color, aromas and taste and would really take a more refined palate than mine to detect any vast differences.
Aromas on the Cockburns had a little more red fruit than the Graham's with some plum and raisin. In the mouth the wine was smoother, but also a little lighter in taste with flavors of plum, cherry, chocolate and hints of raisins. The Cockburn's Special Reserve Porto ($14
) finish was a bit short with taste of sweet red berries and a little spice. I had this wine with some Gargonzola cheese and later with some cranberry Stilton cheese. The following night I found the wine to be very nice just sipping on it's own. This is a very nice introduction to Port wines at a very affordable price. Highly Recommended!
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As noted in my last post, I am slowly learning and appreciating premium Ruby Port wines, so much so, I shopped this past weekend for whatever I could find in port wines, at affordable prices. I did find that some Port wines can be little expensive, so I stayed with the Reserve Ports which seem to all cost in the neighborhood of $20. I also started to read a little about this delicious Portuguese fortified wine. Here is some basic information about the wine and the region it comes from. In a future post, after I have a chance to taste them all, I'll talk about the different styles of Port.
Port wine (also known as Vinho do Porto, Porto, and often simply port) is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal.
It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine though it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties. Fortified wines in the style of port are also produced outside Portugal, most notably in Australia, South Africa, Canada, India, Argentina, and the United States.
Port is produced from grapes grown and processed in the demarcated Douro region. The wine produced is then fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit known as aguardente
in order to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sugar in the wine, and to boost the alcohol content. The fortification spirit is sometimes referred to as brandy but it bears little resemblance to commercial brandies. The wine is then stored and aged, often in barrels stored in a cave
and meaning "cellar" in Portuguese) as is the case in Vila Nova de Gaia, before being bottled. The wine received its name, "port", in the latter half of the 17th century from the city of Porto at the mouth of the Douro River, where much of the product was brought to market or for export to other countries in Europe. The Douro valley where port wine is produced was defined and established as a protected region, or appellation in 1756, making it the oldest defined and protected wine region in the world. Chianti (1716) and Tokaj (1730) have older demarcation but no regulation associated and thus, in terms of regulated demarcated regions, Porto is the oldest.
The Port and Douro Wines Institute is an official body belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture of Portugal and is a key institution in promoting the industry and knowledge of making port wine.
Over a hundred varieties of grapes (castas
) are sanctioned for port production, although only five (Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional) are widely cultivated and used. Touriga Nacional is widely considered the most desirable port grape but the difficulty in growing it and the small yields cause Touriga Francesa to be the most widely planted grape. White ports are produced the same way as red ports, except that they use white grapes— Donzelinho Branco, Esgana-Cão, Folgasão, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho. While a few shippers have experimented with Ports produced from a single variety of grapes, all Ports commercially available are from a blend of different grapes. Since the Phylloxera crisis, most vines are grown on grafted rootstock, with the notable exception of the Nacional area of Quinta do Noval, which, since being planted in 1925, has produced some of the most expensive vintage ports.
Port wine is typically richer, sweeter, heavier, and possesses a higher alcohol content than unfortified wines. This is caused by the addition of distilled grape spirits (aguardente similar to brandy) to fortify the wine and halt fermentation before all the sugar is converted to alcohol and results in a wine that is usually 18 to 20% alcohol.
Port is commonly served after meals as a dessert wine in anglo-Saxon countries, often with cheese; white and tawny ports are often served as an apéritif. In Europe all types of port are frequently drunk as aperitifs.
Under European Union Protected Designation of Origin guidelines, only the product from Portugal may be labelled as port or Porto. In the United States, wines labelled "port" may come from anywhere in the world, while the names "Dão", "Oporto", "Porto", and "Vinho do Porto" have been recognized as foreign, non-generic names for wines originating in Portugal.
Still have lot's to learn, but for now, I'll just pour another glass of port, dice up a little sharp cheddar or Gorgonzola and enjoy.
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I often wondered over the past three or four years if I would ever be able to enjoy a nice basic Port wine. I've tried them occasionally over time, but always found them too sweet for my palate. As late as three years ago, I was sent a sample of Graham's Six Grapes Reserve Port($20) and after opening and taking one taste, I handed the bottle over to Shirley to use in her recipes that called for Port or Sherry. This was also a time when any sweet wine, including white wines, were not to my liking. Of course, over time, that has changed, so after receiving another sample of the same wine, I held on to it for a few weeks, waiting for the right time to desire something sweet, yet something red. That moment finally came last Tuesday, as I sat down to watch the 2012 Presidential election coverage.
First glass was going to be more like a test to see if I would be wanting to pour a second glass or just place the bottle in with Shirley's cooking supplies. Surprisingly that test ended after the first sip. I am keeping this bottle.
The color was a very dark purple. Aromas were like dark chocolate covered cherries with plum and bramble berry. In the mouth, flavors were much the same with some toast and spice and very smooth. The finish was short to medium with flavors of plum and blackberry. After one glass, I diced up some extra sharp cheddar cheese to have with a second glass. Pairing was superb. I'm not allowed to eat many desserts now, but I think I may sneak in a slice of rich deep chocolate cake with my next glass.
Watch for some future reviews of Port wines on this blog. I will need a few more tastings before I can say I am a fan, but the Graham's Six Grapes Reserve has me wanting more.
Grahams Six Grapes is made from six Port-grape varieties, hence the name: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Amarela and Tintao Cão.
Six Grapes is bottled ready to drink after about five years of cask aging. It has a t-cap closure, which means that you don't need a corkscrew to open it and that it should stay fresh for up to two months if stored in a cool, dark place or the refrigerator. Serve it in a glass with at least a six ounce capacity so that you may appreciate the wine's aromas. Six Grapes pairs particularly well with dark chocolate, or as I found, sharp hard cheese, but is also fantastic on its own as a luscious dessert in a glass.
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The Seeker Wines is a new line of carefully curated wines created for those who love to seek adventure. The wines are sourced from iconic regions around the globe, and crafted to be authentic, easy-drinking and affordable.
The Seeker line was created by a family company that called on its 65 years of experience to source from the best family owned wineries in the world at an affordable price.
Recently, I was sent samples of their five available varietals. (An un-oaked Chardonnay from California, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a French Pinot Noir, a Cabernet Sauvignon discovered in Chile and from the Andes Mountains in Mendoza, Argentina, a Malbec).
Last week, I opened the three red varietals with meals of grilled burgers with the Cabernet, pork roast with the Malbec and pizza with the Pinot Noir. Pairings went well and all three were finished later in the evening with cheese and crackers.
I found the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, a little heavy on chocolate and spice. The tasting notes suggested ripe black and blue berries and if present they were overwhelmed by the spices and aromas from the five months in oak. I would have liked to keep this bottle for a few years. It should improve well with a little aging and is a decent wine at a good value($15
Next evening, with a pork roast, I uncorked the 2010 Malbec, a blend of 85% Malbec, 10% Bonarda and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina. This was the only wine out of the five samples that had a cork closure. Others were twist off caps. The Malbec was also the best of reds. Aromas were filled with red raspberries, cherry, plum and black currants. Almost silky smooth in the mouth with lots of cherry and plum leading to a medium to long finish. This very versatile red would have paired well on any of the three nights.
The last wine, opened on a Thursday evening with a cheese pizza while watching the NFL on the big screen, was the Pinot Noir from the Auvergne region of France. Raspberry and cherry aromas with hints cinnamon were light, but very nice. Nice balance on the palate with flavors of dark cherry, some plum and strawberry and a little earth. The Malbec may have been the best of the reds, but the Pinot Noir and cheese pizza was to best pairing.
All three of The Seeker red wines are great values at $15.
They are ready to drink now, but would keep the Cabernet for a few years. Nice wines, nice price. Recommended.
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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity, along with 23 other wine bloggers and writers and a panel of eight winemakers to attend a virtual tasting celebrating the release of the 2011 Finger Lakes Rieslings. This was the second year I was given this opportunity, so I thought this would be a great time to compare the 2011 vintage against an extraordinary 2010. What I did learn is that, at least for me, without tasting both vintages together it is almost impossible to make a comparison based on notes or reviews from last year. So, I'll put it bluntly, the 2011 vintage is as good as the 2010. Why?? Because I liked them both, period.
Each participant in the virtual tasting was sent eight Rieslings. The samples were a very nice representation of different growing regions within the Finger Lakes. Here is
Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars 2011 Dry Riesling
Ravines Wine Cellars 2011 Dry Riesling
Lucas Vineyards 2011 Dry Riesling
Sheldrake Point Winery 2011 Dry Riesling
Fox Run Vineyards 2011 Reserve Riesling
Swedish Hill Winery 2011 Riesling
Lakewood Vineyards 2011 Riesling
Knapp Winery & Vineyard 2011 Riesling
The dry Rieslings were tasted first. Residual sugar contents ranged from .6% to 1.0%. The dry and semi-dry Finger Lakes Rieslings have always been my favorite, but as my wine experience broadened to were I can now enjoy the sweeter style wines, I enjoy them all equally.
I had already posted my review on the Dr. Frank and Ravines
in July. The remaining two I tasted during the week leading up to the virtual tasting and found them to be very much the same. Lemon and grapefruit like citrus, orange zest with some pineapple, hints of green apple and slate aromas. Nice acidity and mineral with citrus and peach, nectarine and apricot flavors filling the mouth. I like the drier Riesling with salmon, haddock, scallops and grilled or roasted chicken.
The second flight of tastings contained residual sugar from 2.2% to 3.4%. Not really a sweet, but more of a semi-sweet Riesling. When trying to come up with a short phrase to describe or compare the Riesling to the dry Riesling, I would have to say "more eloquent."
I found lots of aromas of honeysuckle, melon, tropical fruits, pineapple, pink grapefruit and lime. Nice, well balanced with flavors of tropical fruits, melon, juicy ripened peach, citrus, pineapple and a little slate with honey. All these wines are fantastic with spicy oriental foods or white meats. I like these sweeter Rieslings with burritos and quesadillas loaded with jalepeno peppers and BBQ chicken with cajun style rubs.
Now to stock up on Finger Lakes Riesling and more. On Dec.1st we will be attending the Holiday Shopping Spree
on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail and if a kind soul wants to rid themselves of two or three tickets to the second week end(sold out) of Deck the Halls
on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, we'll be there also.
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Starting to find a spot on my most liked wine list for Cabernet blends. I recently reviewed a Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese from Italy that was very enjoyable and now found a very tasty Shiraz/Cabernet blend from the Central Ranges of Australia, an Inkberry Mountain Estate 2010($13). A blend of 60% Shiraz and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. *Inkberry Shiraz Cabernet is 100% estate grown and crafted from our high elevation Mountain Estate. This extreme elevation exposes our grapes to an intense amount of sunlight and UV rays. This generous sunlight gives our small grapes an amazingly dark,"inky" color. *Inkberry.com I opened this one while watching some late night TV. I also diced up a few bites of extra sharp cheddar cheese and crackers to munch on with the wine. I enjoyed a few glasses before bed and finished, very nicely, the following evening with some BBQ pork ribs.On the nose I got both red and black berries with plum and some spice. Also got a little mineral aroma, reminiscent of coal dust. Growing up in the coal region of Pennsylvania, that aroma is kinda easy to pick up, but I never got that in a wine before, even with PA wines. The berries and plum were still there on the palate with a little more spice and some chocolate. The finish was moderate, spicey with hints of pepper and espresso. Very enjoyable wine with a very nice price and very highly recommended.
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This week I started craving a Thanksgiving style Turkey dinner, so Shirley obliged with an all day preparation along with a little assistance from moi. While in the kitchen, in Shirley's way, I received a package with two wines for review. One of these wines was just begging to be opened immediately, enjoy a glass now and save the rest for the turkey dinner. The wine: Banfi Col di Sasso 2010($9
), a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. I posted before, what I think of Banfi wines (one of my Italian favorites), so you know why I was ready to uncork this on right away.
A nice, bright ruby red color with aromas of cherry, plum and some strawberry on the nose. Soft tannins with plum and hints of blackberry and a little earth in the mouth leading to a moderate finish with a bit of currant and cinnamon. This $9 wine was nice before the dinner and excellent with the dinner. I had only a sip left to try with some Nutella after dinner and that was also a nice match. Very easy red table wine to drink and very easy on the wallet. Very Highly Recommended.
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I guess there comes a time when one should breakaway and wean themselves from life long habits that one may call tradition. That is what I am now trying desperately to do when it comes to matching my Italian food. For 40+ years, it has always been, Italian food means Italian wine. Even after starting this blog, expanding the palate and advocating a policy of "drink what you like, but always give other wines a chance," I would not stray from my 'tradition.' But, the time has come to heed my own advice, although I will begin with baby steps. That is, I am not going to stray that far to begin. How about Spain for beginning this trek? The meal: a simple pasta covered with Shirley's homemade sauce and sprinkled with a little Parmigiano-Reggiano and a side salad. The wine: Dinastia Vivanco Crianza 2008($18) made for 100% Tempranillo grapes that is aged for 16 months in French and American oak.I chose the wine from the Rioja region of Spain, because I find it's characteristics are not that much different than those of my usual Italian red table wine, Chianti. The Crianza is a little bolder, but both have very nice and similar fruit and berries aromas and taste.Right out of the bottle, I knew this would be one of the better Rioja wines I've tasted. Lots of plum and cherry aromas with just a bit of spice and vanilla. In the mouth, I got cherry, a little cinnamon, some tobacco and a touch of damp woodsy soil with soft tannins and a little acid like feel on the sides of the mouth. The wine finished nice and smooth with spice notes and some leather. Much more than expected and a wine I am sure to try again at this price and the fact that it paired very nicely with the pasta and Italian sauce. Wine Spectator magazine selected the Dinastia Vivanco Crianza 2008 amongst its list of Top 100 Wines of 2011. The wine made by Rafael Vivanco is the top ranked Rioja on the list, appearing at number 59, and one of only 7 Spanish wines to make the top flight. Just as I expected after the first aromas, this was one of the best Rioja wines I've tasted. Nice wine, nice price and very highly recommended.
You should also notice the unique shape of a bottle of Dinastia Vivanco. It's a recreation of a shape found in the family’s museum, a bottle dating back to the 18th century when each glass bottle was still individually crafted by a skilled glass blower. The design was chosen to reflect the ancient history of Rioja wine.
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