Rose & Remodel

Pushing through the final details!

The men are hanging the light fixtures and painting the ceiling while I’m dusting out and re-organizing the cabinets.  

It’s December and should be prime season for red wine, but it was 81 degrees today.  There are two young men outside spreading dirt and they are working up a sweat.  The wine fridge is booby trapped by a swathe of floor patch.  I already skated through it once today.  I’ve learned my lesson.

So Charles & Charles Columbia Valley Rose 2015.  Bursting with cherry, watermelon, woody stems, and a faint trace of bubble gum!   $12-ish as I recall!   Goes down boldly and easily.  It’s a blend of 61% Syrah plus Mourvèdre, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Counoise!   This Rose is just dying to talk to you and your palate!!  And after a day of remodeling, it’s a conversation I’m ready to have. 

Christmas Issues Solved with Eggnog

Sometimes wine won’t cut it and you need to climb into a glass of cold, creamy, comforting Egg Nog–preferably with a good dose of amber liquer.  Deep South Egg Nog has got you covered with Rum, Bourbon AND  Brandy!!  

For those who would only drink homemade… good for you.  But this only had to have the top twisted off just prior to being poured in my glass.  And if it’s not gourmet enough for your standards, I’ll have you know I judiciously seasoned it with Cayanne pepper!!  Ya!!  Just right to light my Christmas night on fire!!

Deep South is 12.5% alcohol.  Comes in a 750ml bottle which costs less than $10. 

Cheers and Feliz Navidad!!!

Well Marketed Wines: Like a Gateway Drug

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While in my grocery store today, I passed this wine display.  And I found it to be BRILLIANT.  Who wouldn’t be intrigued to taste wine that has flavors of chocolate, caramel or coffee?  Even newbie eonophiles would be compelled to see if they can discern the nuances of these rich flavors.  I see Apothic brought into my restaurant all the time as a BYOB Wine.  I purchased a bottle of the Apothic Dark 2015 to assist me in pulling all my Christmas decorations out of their boxes.

img_4847The pros:  What a great introduction for someone to red wine.  Its super-purple opaque color and glass staining show its immense concentration.  Its got plenty of ripe dark fruit– Blueberry, blackberry and Cassis.  It has oak flavors of vanilla and smoky leather.  It lives up to its claim of dark chocolate and, espeically, coffee.  It has tannins but they are surrounded by richness.  Some folks describe their favorite wines to be those with very little tannins.  This would be a nice jump into something a little more mouth drying.  It is inexpensive, so many people can afford it.

The cons:  I have to assume this wine has been deeply massaged (added sugar, grape juice, additives, etc) to make sure it obtains the richness and flavor profile the “company” desired.  I am having a hard time saying “winemaker” although I’m sure they have one.   This is  a large production wine.  Alcohol is listed at 14%.  A velvet hammer.  My issue with a wine like this is that it doesn’t leave me wanting more.   I compare it to a  too rich dessert that has to be pushed away with some left on the plate.  But for someone else it could be an easy-to-drink guzzler.

Apothic Dark is a blend of Petite Syrah, Cabernet Syrah, Petite Verdot and Teroldego.  The grapes can come from anywhere in California.

The Apothic Winery website is like a hybrid between a video game and a website.  They are definitely catering to young wine drinkers!!  You can have your palm read ( if you have an updated Browser) or you can learn about Apothic cocktails.  The Apothic Dark cocktail contains Apothic Dark wine, Bourbon, lemon juice, cinnamon bitters and ginger beer, stirred and garnished with a cinnamon stick.  Very pretty to look at, but I haven’t tried it!  Inferno is another Apothic wine on the website, but not one I saw in the store.  It is aged in used whiskey barrels for 60 days “layering the wine with maple and spice notes.”  Interesting or weird??

Would I serve this to my  wine educated friends?  No.  But it is a great introduction to the world of red wine.  It is marketing genius.  Bold and beautiful label.   Easy to pronounce. Clear indication of what to expect in the bottle.  And it’s about $10.  Savvy marketing!!

There is a wine for every glass and I like to help you find it.

Wine Judging at Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

img_4818Because sometimes wine is a loose term!!

I used a photo from the delivery carts with the word wine painted on it… because looking at the green glass, the one that looks like anti-freeze… you might not be sure!!

Wine isn’t always vitis vinifera!!  Last weekend I had the extra-ordinary opportunity to try seventeen (17!!) fruit based wines.  I say extra-ordinary because that denotes rare and unusual.  And I am hoping I don’t revisit these anytime soon!!  But I am grateful to have had the experience!  The wines on cart  (above) are fruit based wines.  Even fruit might be a loose term because the green one had definite flavors of jalapeno.   We all worked hard to find a winner amongst those we tasted and we were intrigued by the one that tasted like cake.  Pound cake or white sheet cake with amaretto frosting.  Hard to say.  But cake… as opposed to fruit cake.

In addition to these beauties, our panel judged a flight of Mead (5) and a flight of flavored Meads (7).  Mead is a fermented beverage… I just can’t bring myself to say wine… made with at least 50% honey.  It can have flavors of clove and cinnamon and I think those are the better ones.  You start adding some other flavors and, to me, they just taste weird!!   Of course, I still can’t comprehend the flavor of banana in beer.

img_4821 In addition to these very unique “wines”, we also tasted flights of Zinfandel (47), Viognier (12), and Unwooded Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc based blends (41), New World Temprnillo and blends (13), Sparkling Red (2) and Very Sweet White (8) wines.  I am officially done with sweet wines until after the 2017 holidays.

The judging of these wines is done on an all volunteer basis. The wines are double blinded by having separate teams of volunteers that pour, volunteers that deliver the wines on carts, and volunteer judges that taste. There are fun, yet very professional, volunteers to help with tabulating scoring, running information and food,  glass washing and polishing, pulling wines from the warehouse, driving forklifts, working with the wineries on entries, and I know I am leaving a ton  of groups out.  img_4803All these efforts help determine who wins Gold, Double Gold, Class Champions, etc. from a pool of 2,850 wines.  Many of the winning wines are served in the Wine Garden at the official Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (HLSR).  A wine auction is also held as part of the fundraising process.  I am not on a rodeo committee, so I do not know all the ins and outs of the planning and execution.  What I do know:   HLSR is an impressive labor of love to promote agriculture and raise money for education via scholarships for Texas youth.  I do know that I am excited about participating in this process, even on a small level.  All of this makes every wine I taste while judging, a wine deserving of responsible contemplation…. even if it is green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump Wins!!! I mean Trump Wines!!

img_4794My blog is not a political blog, but since Trump is now our President-elect, it seemed like a good time to dust off the 2013 Trump Winery Meritage and give it a swirl.  This wine was a gift to me this summer.  I made the assumption it wouldn’t be good ( I should have had more faith in the giver….maybe even Trump, as well) and didn’t mind holding it until the election.

This Meritage was respectable.   Dusty dark cherry and blackberry.  The medium body wine was easy to drink.  “Very easy,” my friends said.  The tannins were smooth.  I found a bit of savory herb  character to it as well. The finish was medium in length.  The breakdown for this wine is Cabernet Sauvignon 33%, Merlot 26%, Cab Franc 16%, Petite Verdot 14% and Malbec 11%.   I wouldn’t rush out and buy it again… but my research has me very intrigued to try the 2015 Viogner and find the 2014 Meritage… which has a  better reputation for complexity than the 2013.

Trump Winery is located a few miles from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It was formerly known as Kluge and wines from this estate have been served at the White House and at the rehearsal dinner for Chelsea Clinton’s Foundation wedding.

The  wine estate is the largest in Virginia and the entire east coast with 195 acres under vine.  All the fruit is from the estate and is hand harvested. The tasting room is open for sampling and the estate also has a 45 room inn, Trump Hotel Collection, Albemarle Estate.  The pictures are quite nice!  You can get married there, picnic there and/or bring your dog when you come taste.  Other wines include Cabernet Sauvignon,  Blanc de Blanc (Sparkling), Viogner and Rose.

 

 

The Rise(?) of Italian Syrah

So when we set our for the evening, I can’t say I was thinking about Syrah!  We are in Italy after all.  We are in Florence specifically.  And this region of Tuscany is the renowned for their Chianti Classico, their Brunello, and, of course, their Super Tuscans.  img_2264
The Wine… (sigh)

So when it came time to look at the wine menu to find something to go with our Involtini, thin slices of beef stuffed with cheese and asparagus, there were several wine list options to choose from.  Ruffino, Frescobaldi and Antinori are largely present on Florence restaurant wine lists, so I was up for other options.   We chatted with our waitress, who recommended the Sommelier to come to the table.  Using a trifecta of languages, English, Italian and some kitchen Spanish, we came to the brilliant idea of Syrah.  Tenimenti Luigi d’Allesandro “Il Bosco” Syrah 2011.

I didn’t take proper wine notes during dinner!  But I haven’t forgetten how good this wine was on this night!  Dark, dark fruit kept fresh and bright with  lively acidity.  Firm tannins balanced out the acid and gave the wine pleasing balance and structure.  And pepper–the wine had some black and green pepper notes that you would expect from Syrah.  This wine has some similarities to Rhone-grown-Syrah.  The price was 40-50 Euro. The wine paired well with the Involtini and our entrees of grilled steak and roasted duck.

It turns out that the Cortona area of Italy has proved itself well suited to the Syrah grape varietal.   It has long, hot summer days with cool nights.  The climate is considered similar to that of the southern Rhone Valley.  James Suckling and Janice Robinson have found favor with Syrah wines produced in this area, but I can’t say the wines have gained great traction here in the United States.  Not to mention, Syrah is certainly a bit of an outlier in the Tuscany region.  Luckily for me, Tenimenti Luigi d’Allesandro has been experiementing with Syrah since the 1980’s and has increased its plantings.  The Il Bosco is 100% Syrah and all Rhone clones grown in three different estate vineyards.  it is aged in used barriques and casks and is aged a total of 36 months.

I’ve done my due diligence on my favorite wine-about-town website:  SevenFifty.com and found only one offering of 100% Syrah from Tuscany.  Favorite Brands distributes Le Macchiole Toscano Scrio from the Bolgheri region.  It looks to be $100+ and therefore a little out of range for the EveryDayCabRene collection of wines.

Ciao!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portable Wine!

I Love Being Ahead or At Least With the Curve!!

The Wine Spectator 40th issue magazine has an article about canned wine.  One of the photos features cans of Underwood Wine.  For the few of you that follow me, you saw it here first (August 2016)!!img_4667

Wine in Cans for Fishing, Boating or At the table?  You tell me!!

IMG_1541.JPGWines in cans.  How extraordinary!  I recently tried to purchase some French Rose in cans at my local Specs Liquor store.  The wine salesman seemed somewhat appalled that I would ask.  (Honestly, I didn’t blame him.)  Of course, I came bearing my recent issue of Food & Wine magazine that featured not one, but two, French Roses in a can.  He then was more polite about saying they didn’t carry canned wine.

So while I am at Trader Joes to purchase a gallon of milk, I came acress these little canned cuties.  Yes, I somehow ended up in the wine department.  Go figure.  So I scooped them up ($5.95 each, 12 oz).  I left the canned Pinot Noir on the self — it just doesn’t seem possible that you could find good or even okay Pinot in a can.  They may label it Pinot Noir, but it won’t taste like Pinot Noir.  Darn, now I will have to go back to double check-because journalists must investigate.

I shared these cans of wine with a couple of friends.   One of my friends insisted she drink  them from a glass and decreed the idea of drinking wine from the actual can as “horrifying.”  But once we got past that little sticking point–she actually enjoyed them.

These wines come from the Union Wine Co. and the grapes are sourced from somewhere in Oregon.  No single vineyard.  No estate winery.   But don’t hold that against them.  The Pinot Grigio, our favorite of the two, was crisp and dry with flavors of ripe, bruised pear and apples and ripe peach (13% ABV).  The Rose had nice flavors and aromas of peach and strawberry (12%).    Give me a hot day and I would drink either  of them if a host offered one to me nice and cold, and in a good Yeti.  I like many other wines better, but these both have their place… in the sun!!

Cheers!

Ummm…No!  Well…Yes!

I’ve always been told, “Order the House Wines in Italy, they are inexpensive and always good.”   Ummm…No!  For the first time this trip, we went for the house red wine–no front, no back, no middle.  The bottled water, from tap I’m sure, may actually have more flavor.  

Then the food came.  Spaghetti al Tonno (Tuna) with capers, tomatoes on olive oil. Suddenly the wine took on a whole new attitude!!!  I actually ordered a second glass.  My 3.5 Euro per glass Vino Della Casa was suddenly a good deal after all.  What was the house wine??   Something local made by the owner’s sister’s second cousin…or something like that.  Glad I ventured in for a glass. 

Notice the olive oil!!  Extra virgin SPRAY olive oil.  A little too much like Pam spray for me.  The balsamic spray–now that’s perfect.  

The World is full of Simple Wines

But again I will say the atmosphere of their consumption can elevate a wine to a whole new level!  I LOVE WHITE WINES FROM THE CINQUE TERRE!  Some of this may be the atmosphere.  Some of this love may be the fact I can’t find these whites stateside.  And the other is that this is a case of local wines pairing perfectly with local cuisine.   I’m a seafood girl so I am in briny, sea salt, fresh, fresh, fresh heaven. 


And I would love to stay ensconced here in my coastal paradise until after the election. Wifi is everywhere but I feel joyfully insulated from the tackiest election and election coverage EVER!!   That’s as political as I will get…. it’s just another reason I’m not ready to go home!!