Thursday, April 26, 2007

Simple dinner and a nice bottle.

Last night I didn't have the time or energy to cook so I high tailed it to our local Greek market. Begin with a loaf of bread and a medium sharp feta. Add a few olives, some stuffed grape leaves, and dinner is served. I think she should ask for a refund from the French Culinary Institute for the classes she bought me. I tried to cover the whole thing up by talking about the wine and how healthy the food was. I'm off to the supermarket for something for tonight.

TN: Cervera Lagar de Albarino Rias Baixas (Galicia Spain) - Pale gold. Highly perfumed nose. Granny smith apples and minerals with just the slightest touch of grassiness. A medium to full bodied wine that finishes nicely. A good deal at $15.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A new producer for me

Warmer weather is on it's way and for me that means a change in drinking habits. I tend to drink more whites and DRY roses. When I mention dry rose I don't mean the Bazooka Joe white zins that try to pass themselves off at the real McCoy. High quality dry rose is produced by limiting skin contact with the juice when red wine grapes are pressed. The amount of extraction (color) in reds comes from contact and churning of the skins with the juice. That's right folks, red (black) grapes produce white juice. Blanc de Noirs Champagne is an example. For a while white Merlot hit the market but I don't believe it ever caught on.

What I look for in summertime whites are things that are clean, crisp, refreshing and not containing a tremendous amount of oak. Italy is a great source for tank fermented whites. I'll pass on lots of names as I drink thm. What I'm really focused on are German whites. They tend to have much lower alcohol levels (typically 7-10%) and possess great acidity which makes them go well with food. Prices in general are on the low side but the labels can be daunting to read. German wines are ranked by quality levels. If you're looking to get started QbA, QmP, Kabinett, and Spatlese are good in relatively inexpensive quality levels to look for. Producers are many and if you have specific requests please send comments and I'll fill in the blanks for you.

TN: Heymann Loewenstein Auslese-Mosel Saar Ruwer-This was a great finish to dinner at Epernay, a fine bistro in Montclair NJ. Very traditional bistro fare with professional service and a comfortable atmosphere. We had the wine as dessert which I like to do. I find sweet wines clash more often than not. Very elegant and expressive nose. Clean with excellent acidity and just the right touch of sweetness. I'll be buying more, and at $32 for a half bottle this is a fine value.

I was turned on to this producer by Steve McGuire at Super Saver Liquors in Somerville NJ. This shop is a true gem. Steve is well versed, extremely enthusiastic, and friendly person with a magnificent palate. The store is like a throwback. They don't have an internet presence and there are great things on the shelves whenever I walk in. Prices are extremely fair. Make it a point to shop there but stay away from whatever I want!

Steve got me started with HL's trocken wines which are awesome. Trocken means dry in German and may be a good starting point.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lots of new wines

I shouldn't do this but I've been storing up notes from the past week. Last night I met a few friends for a casual tasting. Six of us met at a local place for a simple meal and pot luck wines. The results were excellent as no one held back.

Here's some of the notes from last night and the past week:

2004 Mauritson Zinfandel-Dry Creek Valley (California)-My biggest complaint with Zinfandel is it's generally made in an over-the-top style that is great for a sip and then bores me. Not so in this case. Done in a very elegant style with great raspberry fruit, nice round mouthfeel, and a pleasing finish. My only complaint is the heat on the end as the alcohol content is 15.2% A good buy at $15 and a nice pairing with Burgers or ribs.

2003 Di Majo Norante Ramitello Rosso (Italy)-From Molise which is on the Adriatic coast. 80% Prugnolo 20% Aglianico. You have to love these wines grown from indigenous grapes. Dark in color with a nose of plums and anise. You can almost smell the heat (not alcohol) from the 2003 vintage which produced a full bodied wine that feels great in the mouth and goes well with food. At $11 this is a great buy.

1999 Icardi Suri di mu (Italy)
-From Piedmont. If we could have squeezed the bottle for more we would have. Great fruit, balance, finish. Moderate alcohol. I could have drunk this all night. The 2004 vintage is on the market currently at $20. Buy and cellar for a couple of years. Works very well with Veal Milanese or a simple risotto.

Part 2 to come.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Back in the saddle..........

Hi all,

We were in the Grand Canyon area last week and didn't have much of a chance to taste. The scenery was spectacular but you don't go there for the food.

Some tasting notes:

We had dinner at the El Tovar lodge who's dining room is supposed to have the best food in the Canyon. I ordered fish. The next time I do that I'm going to find out how far I am from the ocean.
My wife ordered the duck so I matched it with a Fess Parker Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara county. A very nice wine and a great match for the duck. Unfortunately my fish was DOA and I left DNR instructions for the waitstaff. The price on the list was $35 for 1/2 bottle which I found fair for the quality. Fess Parker happened to play Daniel Boone on TV in the early 60's for all you trivia fans.

2005 D'Arenburg "The Hermit Crab" McLaren Vale Australia-70% Viogner, 30% Marsanne. Very floral with quite a bit of depth on the nose. This was a real surprise as I wouldn't expect a $12 wine to have the length this had. Full bodied with a slightly spicy finish. A great buy.