Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Quick Review: Millbrook Pinot Noir 2009

US, NY, Hudson Valley, Millbrook Winery, Pinot Noir 2009
+ // Earthy // Fruit, Hay, Earth // Cranberry, Bing Cherry, Hay, Chocolate, Earth, Tanins // Light

The wine was full of flavor, but light in body, which we have come to expect from New York Pinot Noir.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Wine and a Movie: Sideways

Besides meals, there are other things to "pair" with wine. I came late to the world of wine, so I had never seen the movie Sideways when it first came out. So with a free Friday, we decided to sit down with a movie and a bottle of wine. Of course, in this case the pairing was simple: a Pinot Noir to match the one thing I knew about the movie--the obsession with the red wine.

For me, it was probably good to put off the viewing of this movie until I had a chance to explore wine myself. The story focuses on the horrible stereotypes of wine drinkers. Pretentious, and disdainful of those who don't share his views, Miles  epitomizes the exact opposite of everything we enjoy about wine. But thankfully, the story never asks us to try to like our male characters, fully embracing and acknowledging we are watching bad men drinking wine.

One scene came close to what our ideal of sharing a bottle of wine, as Maya uses the language of wine as a metaphor to share details of herself with Miles, but even here our "hero" fails to embrace the true joy of sharing with someone.

In theory, we should have aimed for a weak, pale Pinot Noir to match the wine swilling heroes of our movie, but that would be taking things a bit  too far. Instead, we kept true to our own wine roots and opened a bottle produced in New York. No pretention here, just a love of the story of wine.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Quick Review: Fox Run Blanc de Blanc

US, Fingers Lakes, Fox Run Vineyards, Blanc de Blanc
++ // Crisp // Lemon // Lemon // Light bodied
Made from 100% Chardonnay, which spent 12 months on the lees (yeast deposits)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Quick Review: V. Sattui Prestige Cuvee Brut 2009

US, CA, St. Helena, V. Sattui Prestige Cuvee Brut 2009
++ // Sparkling // Apple, Lemon, Butter // Sweet Green Apple, Lemon, Vanilla // Medium

Monday, May 20, 2013

Special Days, Special Wine

A special day calls for a special wine. This year we finally had a reason to celebrate Mother's Day at home, instead of with a mailed gift and phone call. Looking over our options, we pulled out a bottle of Prestige Cuvee Brut from California's V. Sattui winery. We've enjoyed a few other bottles from them, so it seemed like the perfect option for the big day.

Big, dry and creamy, the wine was a mouthful all on its own, but I made our new momma a special meal to go along with the wine. When we go out for dinner, we may well order complicated dishes, but at home, we often stick to classic American comfort food, and Tina's favorite is Mac & Cheese. Rich and sweet, with the earthiness of the cheese augmented with the addition of some mushrooms, it might have been a bit too powerful of a dish for the wine, but the wine had its own sweet creaminess that brought those aspects of  the meal to the forefront.

It might not have been a traditional pairing, but sometimes its nice to break all the rules and just go with what you want for a special celebration. The wine got a bit lost with dinner, but it certainly didn't ruin the meal, and that just meant we had an excuse to enjoy another glass afterwards, to truly savor the wine.

Friday, May 17, 2013

How-To: Tell if a Wine Needs to "Open"

Oxygen is the bane and boon of wine. Oxidation or aeration increases flavors, but also allows volatile flavors to escape the wine. Among some wine drinkers, there is discussion on letting a wine "breathe". It will allow layers of complex flavors to meld, creating a better balance, but there is no exact science to the perfect amount of time it will need to open. The basic guideline is if you have a red wine with strong tannins, decant the wine and let it stand for a while, testing frequently. Once the wine seems like its an ideal flavor, either serve it our stopper it for serving soon.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Quick Review: Decoy Zinfandel 2010

US, CA, Sonoma, Decoy Zinfandel 2010
+ // Fruity // Strawberry, Caramel // Cherry, Cola, White pepper // Med

Paired with a mushroom, spinach and strawberry salad, it was a nice fruity complement to the meal. In this case, knowing what wine we planned to drink, I looked for a recipe with mushroom as an earthy counterpoint, and strawberry to complement the wine.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Back To The Wine

Finally, Tina can get back to exploring wine. Nine short months ago, she had to stop drinking wine. The surgeon general says pregnant women should not drink any alcohol. The research shows "moderate" consumption does not impact on a fetus, but the exact line isn't clear, and she wasn't about to experiment with our baby. So other than a few sips from some some of my better glasses, our exploration of wine has been pretty one-sided for a while.

Unfortuntely, Baby Vinacular did not get the correct time table, and was trying to hold out for an extra couple of weeks. So, following the sage advice of the internet, I offered to bring home a bottle so Tina could have a glass and hopefully induce labor. Directed by her to bring home a Zinfandel, I stumbled across something familiar: a California Zinfandel with a duck on the label, going by the name of "Decoy." Sure enough, it was the table wine label from Duckhorn. More pocketbook friendly than their high-end wines, its being a Duckhorn still gave me confidence in the quality of the product.

We were pleased with the choice. The wine was a little tight when first opened, but blossomed quickly with some ripe red fruit flavors, giving us a vibrant, juicy wine to enjoy. We finished our glasses then set the bottle aside. Little did we know that the next night would see us in the hospital, and we wouldn't be able to get back to it for several days. Imagine our suprise when we returned home with our new baby, and decided that we'd give the remainder of the bottle a go. The ripe fruit had grown even further, into a deep, almost jammy flavor. It isn't really ecommended to let a wine sit for that long, but we are glad it turned out like it did. It held up much better than expected to the aging process after 6 days.

With the new addition to our family safe and sound at home, we are looking forward to getting back to tryig new wines together. And for our first bottle, it was nice to be reminded of the fun learning experiences we can share.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What Do We Mean By "Barnyard" Smells in Wine?

When we talk about smells and flavors in wine, most make sense. We all know what strawberries or lemons taste like. On the other hand, when we talk about the less pleasant flavors of wine, we tend to use euphemisms or shocking phrases. "Cat's Pee" really gets the point across. When we talk about a "barnyard" flavor, we are looking at strange organic smells; mold, old hay, wet straw, maybe even some mud or manure. These are smells close to some of our favorites; mushrooms, fresh hay, earth, but with an off flavor that makes them upsetting to the palatte. It comes from spoiled yeast creating that strange fermented smell. While some wine drinkers enjoy it at low levels, it is technically a spoiled wine.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Quick Review: Chateau Haut Lavigne

FR, Chateau Haut Lavigne, Cotes-de-Duras, 2007

/ // Smooth // Barnyard // Tart, cranberry // light

Some off flavors in this Merlot blend from the southwest of France left us with an uninspiring glass of wine.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Quick Review: Francois Villard L'Appel des Sereines Syrah

FR, Vin de Pays, Francois Villard L'Appel des Sereines Syrah
++ // Smooth  // Cola, Truffle, Earth // Blackberry, Currant, Plum, Earth // Med

Monday, May 6, 2013

Something Local at Apiary

Wine lists at nice restaurants can be intimidating. Even with everything we have learned in the last few years, there a still grapes and wines we don't recognize, and there are only a handful of wine makers we know. With a wine list of 300 bottles, Apiary in Manhattan left us stumbling to find the perfect wine, but thankfully that was the most difficult part of our meal.

A tiny space in the Lower East Side, Apiary was surprisingly busy for an early dinner on a Friday night. The menu was impressive, and the wine menu was almost overwhelming. Luckily for us, we were there to take advantage of their Restaurant Week menu, so with a limited dinner menu, it was easier to narrow down our wine choices. Picking duck leg confit, it was only a matter of finding a glass of red wine with a balance of fruit to complement the flavor of the duck with a bit of acidity to cut through the fattiness of the bird. It turned out that the duck had a crispy, heavily seasoned skin, which brought some spice to the dish, giving the fairly simple dish some complex layers of flavor.

While we focus on local wine, we are proponents of local produce in general, so we were pleasantly surprised when and glass of after-dinner tea was accompanied by a selection of honey from a bee farm (or apiary) in Upstate NY. Such a simple thing added yet another layer to a simple but elegant meal.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Quick Review: Heart and Hands Pinot Noir

US, New York, Finger Lakes, Heart & Hands, Pinot Noir, 2010
++ // Earthy // Earth, fruit (raspberry) // Pepper, cherry, wood // Medium bodied

Produced from hand-sorted, 100% whole cluster grapes.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Did You Know?... About Monastrell

Monastrell is a red grape from Spain, also known as Mourvedre in France. It shows up in the New World infrequently, often in blends. It tends to produce earthy wines, with hints of red fruit, high in alcohol and tanins. Given the strong backbone and deep flavors, it can age well. In France, it makes up part of Rhone blends.