30 December 2011

Happy New Year!

The end of the year is upon us, and while the clock hasn't quite struck midnight, I've got a busy weekend in front of me. In fact, the whole holiday season has been rather hectic with work and family and all sorts of other things, and I've barely had a moment to stop and smell the boughs of holly. For that reason, I'm taking the advice of Fredric and extending the holidays until Twelfth Night. Not only is there historical precedent, but you also get the opportunity to hang out with your Eastern Orthodox friends who celebrate Christmas a little later. Stretch New Year's Eve to Chinese New Year later in January, and you're even better.

As long as I"m mentioning Fredric, be sure to check out his annual Twelve Days of Christmas series on Champagne. You'll get great recommendations from someone who really knows his authentic bubbles.

For my part, I offer up a bunch of posts on proper Champagne, Prosecco, and a whopping 42 posts on sparkling wine, though there's probably some crossover on those categories. My general advice: if you can spare the cash and have a significant other plus another couple that might enjoy the wine, shell out at least $40 for a decent Champagne, and if possible, pick a Grower Champagne. If you're looking for affordable fun for a group of people, grab an assortment of Cavas in a variety of sweetness levels. If you just need fizzy wine to be splashed around at midnight and served to people already too far gone to know what they're drinking, you can have pallets of the stuff delivered for next to nothing.

On another note, during this holiday season, I've left the pen and notebook at home. I've still dutifully tasted and noted samples sent to me, but for wines that I picked up and took to parties or bottles that I sampled at various houses, I took no photos or notes. Oh, people asked me to talk about them, and I did to the best of my ability, but mostly I just said, "What do you think about this wine? Do you like it? If not, it won't hurt my feelings and I won't make fun of you." It was relaxing to simply sit back and enjoy a glass of wine without thinking about linking the winery and writing the PR rep and updating links to the notes on Twitter.

Not that I don't enjoy all of that, and it's part of why I keep scribbling away on this virtual parchment. But we all need perspective, and we all need time to sit back and remember that time with friends and family is wonderful, and if said time can be improved with a little fermented grape juice, all the better.

Dear readers and friends and families, please have fun this weekend, drive safe, and I look forward to a prosperous and engaging 2012. Damn the Mayan calendar, I've got too many things I still want to do.

P.S. Let me explain the photo... It's an old one from five years ago. We used to have a rosebush on the front porch that would dutifully produce a single peach-colored blossom once a year. Not in January, but it was an interesting annual event. I always loved seeing it and took a bunch of pictures each time it bloomed. I always felt that the "Pleasantville" effect was the best way to display it. Sadly, the plant died a few years back.

28 December 2011

Benito's Beet Shrub Cocktail

A man walks into the bar and says, "Barkeep, I'm in the mood for something classic, something that goes back to the colonial era." The bartender grins and replies, "We have hard cider and rye whiskey, both of which were quite popular at the time. I can also make you a flip or a nog of some sort..." The man shakes his head and says, "No, just mix some moonshine with pickled beet juice and that'll hit the spot." Shortly thereafter, the man was thrown out of the bar and onto the sidewalk.

Surprisingly, this isn't as weird a request as it sounds. A shrub is an old-fashioned syrup made from ripe fruit, sugar, and vinegar. It was a great way to preserve fruit and shrubs served a variety of purposes in the kitchen and the bar. I had a jar of pickled beets that was almost emptied of beet slices but still had a lot of delicious liquid in it. The ingredients were simple: sugar, beets, vinegar... Not an official shrub, but it'll do, and I love the flavor. Thousands of years ago, lower class Roman soldiers had to drink vinegar instead of wine. These days it's a trendy cocktail ingredient. No telling what folks will be using two thousand years from now.

Benito's Beet Shrub Cocktail
2 shots Moonshine (or 80 proof clear liquor of your choice)
½ shot Brandy
½ shot Pickled Beet Brine

Combine ingredients in shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy the magenta beet stains on your tablecloth.

I considered calling this a "Devil's Cosmopolitan" but I really like beets and didn't want to impugn them. As weird as this thing sounds, the flavors and aromas really balance out well: the moonshine, brandy, and beet brine are all a little sweet, but the vinegar in the brine balances that out. And then the beet flavor provides both a beautiful color and a little earthiness that you more often associate with whiskey cocktails. This will never catch on or be popular, but if you find yourself with the ingredients lying around, I'd suggest giving it a try. When it comes to brine-based cocktails, this one can't be beet.

26 December 2011

December Rieslings

On the Friday before Christmas, I was on my home from work and looking forward to dinner and a movie with Julia. I had a pair of Rieslings chilling back at the house, but wasn't in the mood to cook. I was instead in the mood for something very specific: Vietnamese soup. She'd never had phở before, and I was looking forward to that particular culinary introduction as well as satisfying my own craving for some thinly sliced beef in hot broth with lots of other goodies.

We started off with gỏi cuốn and tương xào followed by phở gà for Julia and phở tái bò viên for me. (Or those soft rice wrapper rolls with shrimp and lettuce, chicken breast and chicken broth for her and sliced beef plus meatballs in my bowl.) The joy of phở is customization, and she kept hers light and simple while I went crazy with a little bit of every ingredient and some additional Sriracha sauce. Outstanding dinner, made even better by the Riesling. I tried the wines before the soup and once with the soup before I added additional heat. Both performed well at all stages of dinner.

2009 Clean Slate Riesling
$11, 10.5% abv.
Lightly sweet with with medium acidity. The nose has hints of peach and orange blossom, but nothing is terribly strong. It is an easy-going and extremely affordable white wine with a long, pleasant finish. Julia preferred this one, and I thought it was a great contrast to the bean sauce that came with the rolls.

2009 Weingut Hans Lang Riesling Dry Erste Gewächs
Hattenheim Wisselbrunnen, Rheingau
$50, 13% abv.
Erstes Gewächs means "first growth" and is a relatively new VDP classification denoting a quality dry wine from the top vineyards in Germany. Petrol and wet rocks with light green apple hints in the background. Low acidity, dry, with excellent balance. As it warmed, it developed some lovely earth tones and a wonderful depth. Long finish, highly recommended. My favorite of the two, though toward the end of the meal the Sriacha and jalapeño slice blocked out some of the more subtle tones in the wine.

This is by no means a new wine pairing idea, but it was really delicious and the wine contributed to making an already great dinner even better. Which is what wine is supposed to do.

Note: These wines were received as samples.

22 December 2011

Christmas MMXI

Merry Christmas, y'all.

I've always loved this photo I took in 2004 the night that my brother proposed to his now-wife. Memphis experienced a a rare White Christmas and the proposal took place on the top floor of The Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. The ballroom was still decorated for Christmas and with, for some reason, Canadian flags. I have a lot of great pictures from that whole experience, but I revisit this photo often. I've lived my whole life in a metro area of a million souls, something considered "The Big City" by everyone in a 300 mile radius, but still not big by city standards. While I've spent time around Christmas in smaller towns, I've only twice done so in bigger towns: 1996 in Rome, Italy (4.5 million metro area) and 2005 in Boston, Massachusetts (7.5 million metro area).

I mention the photo because it was an odd experience for me: snow and city sidewalks, but in my hometown. Yet the sidewalks weren't busy, because downtown was completely deserted that night. There's no one best way to spend the holidays. It mostly comes down to a frame of mind and your surroundings. So with that in mind, I will issue one of my best Christmas wine recommendations: get off the damned computer and spend some time with friends and loved ones. If you decide to pick up a few bottles for the season, stop in at your local wine shop and be really nice to your retailers. They've been dealing with a lot of stupid questions and angry shoppers, and won't really get a break until January 1. There's over a thousand posts here totaling more thousands of wine recommendations. If you need additional help, smile and tell your retail employee that you really appreciate him or her working during this tough season, and then say, "I need a good [red/white] wine in the price range [whatever you are looking to spend]. I would also be interested in a good sparkling wine in the same neighborhood."

To everyone, whether you come here for the wine or food or cocktails or occasional rambling essays, I hope you have a great holiday season, and fear not, this blog does not take vacations. I'll be back next week with some words about New Year's Eve and Orthodox Christmas and Japan's celebration of construction workers during 手斧初式 on January 4. There's something out there for everyone.

In the meantime, have a great time, and pet your dogs, hug your friends, and go out of your way to be nice to someone that might be having a rough time, like the guy working at the gas station on Christmas day, or the waitress at the Waffle House taking care of those who don't have anywhere else to go for dinner.

Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

21 December 2011

Pine Ridge Vineyards

I had four great wines leftover from the Crimson Wine Group TasteLive Event and had Julia coming over for lunch. Time to break them all out and enjoy some good food as such wines deserve...

We started with a spinach-yogurt soup with a vegetable broth base and a healthy splash of the Chenin Blanc/Viognier blend. I had to play around with this some, but sea salt, white pepper, (maybe a little Madras curry powder) and a final grating of nutmeg delivered a delicious soup more reminiscent of saag paneer than something out of a red and white can. The two white wines were enjoyed with the soup, saving the reds for...

Ferran Adrià. El Bulli. I'm not a big fan of molecular gastronomy, though since I haven't actually tried it, I can't judge the various foams and powders. And I once passed over an offer to pick up the other half of an El Bulli reservation (made a year ahead of time, and the couple divorced before the promised anniversary dinner, the settlement leaving the lady with both halves of the seating). It would have involved flying to Spain to have dinner with a complete stranger that involved driving up a mountain and.... That wasn't a good life choice at the time for a variety of reasons, mainly because it was short notice and would have cost a fortune.

But recently I was enchanted by one of Adrià's staff dinners featured on Serious Eats. It looked simple yet delicious, and I left it as an open tab in my Chrome browser for a couple of weeks. Couldn't stop staring at it, and had to make it. Fire roasted peppers, thin slices of pork loin (often sold as thin boneless pork chops around here), and a simple blend of olive oil, parsley, and garlic.

This is one of the most delicious things I've had in a long time, and it's so stupidly simple I don't know why it isn't a staple on menus all over the country. Cheap, as well. And one of the best parts is that the oil blend really accentuates a great parsley flavor, which you often don't get from mere garnish. The prep is simple, the execution doesn't demand too much, and if you're concerned about roasting peppers you could always use the jarred version.

But let's not forget to talk about the wines, which were incredible.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc & Viognier
79% Chenin Blanc, 21% Viognier
$14, 13% abv.
Crisp and acidic, lemony touches. I've always enjoyed these grapes for table whites, and while this one verged on tart, I think it would be a great picnic wine, a term I use with high affection. Serve with cold chicken and potato salad and that acidity will have a perfect complement.

2009 Pine Ridge Chardonnay Dijon Clones
Carneros, Napa
$34, 14.1% abv.
Light and mild with tropical fruit aromas that give way to a light peach flavor and a smooth mouthfeel. Great balanced acidity and overall structure. It rested in French oak for nine months, but bears no resemblance to caramel popcorn or buttered toast. I Can't Believe It's Not Burgundy. It went well with the soup and the first few bites of the pork, but I was very excited to revisit the reds.

2008 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
Rutherford, Oakville, & Stags Leap, Napa
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
$54, 14.1% abv.
Cherry pie, touch of spice, black cherry, black pepper, long finish. An excellent, well-structured Napa Cabernet Sauvignon that had mild tannins and provided a fruit note that went great with the fire roasted peppers.

2008 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
Stags Leap, Napa
91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 1% Merlot
$80, 14.7% abv.
Plum, cassis, touches of cedar and chocolate, tannins are still firm but they're going to be oh so delicate in a few years. Outstanding balance and I find the grape combination fascinating. Highly recommended, and the next time I have this wine it will be with a rack of lamb or a bone-in pork loin roast.

Note: These wines were received as samples.

19 December 2011

Stillhouse Moonshine Clear Corn Whiskey

I was offered a sample of moonshine, and coming from Tennessee, I was familiar with the process. I made a phone call to ask about log cabins. "I'm looking to put up a little two room cabin in the backyard. It only needs a small water heater, something that holds about a quart." I gave the man my address, and just like a child who stays up late on Christmas Eve waiting to hear sleigh bells, I was pretty sure I heard the rumble of a souped-up Dodge Charger around two a.m.

During Wolfie's morning constitutional, I was delighted to find a jug of 'shine hanging on the oak tree in the backyard.

Well, that's the way it used to happen. Moonshine is getting a bit more respectable (and legal) these days, and you can walk into a store and purchase it. Now, I do need to clear up a few definitions. Moonshine® is the brand in this case, and this is a Clear Corn Whiskey made by Stillhouse in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Put this product in a barrel for a few years and you've got regular whiskey. Some would argue that this is not technically moonshine because it is a legal product, and there are other debates about having a protected status just like for aquavit or grappa or any number of other regional white spirits. There are several of these products out on the market, either early sales for a new distillery (selling the clear liquor while waiting for the whiskey to age) or providing an option for people to try an authentic American spirit without shady late night deals or having to know the right people who have an adversarial relationship with the IRS and BATF.

Stillhouse is a collaboration between third-generation distiller Chuck Miller and celebrity chef Adam Perry Lang.

Stillhouse Moonshine Clear Corn Whiskey
$40/750mL, 40% abv.
It's clear with a slightly yellow tinge and has a sweet corn aroma. It's fairly mild on the palate, with a light sweetness. That means that when using for mixing purposes, you're going to want to think rum more than vodka or whiskey. I found that it went very well with citrus flavors (adding balancing bitterness and acidity). Frankly a dash of grapefruit bitters and a splash of sparkling water made for a pretty refreshing cocktail, but you'll be good with a wedge of lime or lemon. Or you can go old school and use the traditional mixer Mountain Dew, now available in a wide variety of flavors.

P.S. This is made in Culpeper, Virginia, a small town of under 10,000. On a Scout trip in 1989 we camped out one night at a miniature golf course in Culpeper. Our Scoutmaster was a master of working out deals for places to sleep for free, which during my run included tennis courts, public parks, parking lots, and many other odd places.

Note: This jug was received as a sample.

16 December 2011

NV Villa Sandi "Il Fresco" Prosecco

In my continuing effort to encourage more sparkling wine consumption throughout the holiday season (not just in the space between 2011-12-31 11:59 pm and 2012-01-01 12:05 am), I can't neglect the affordable and fun Prosecco of northeast Italy. A classic of the Veneto region, I wish I'd started on this stuff as opposed to the really cheap $3 California bubbles Who Shall Not Be Named Here.

There's a lot of variety within the category of Prosecco, but for the novice what you're going to find is a fairly simple and tasty sparkling wine that is great with appetizers, fun with fried foods or popcorn, and is inexpensive enough to open on a Tuesday night while you're watching TV after work.

Like Cava, Prosecco represents a philosophy of bubbly as table wine: an everyday accompaniment to good food rather than something saved for an event. And there's nothing wrong with saving a special bottle for a holiday or anniversary. But there's lots of celebrating this holiday season, and no reason to wait until the last minute to let the corks fly. (Well, don't do that because it's dangerous, but you get the gist.)

NV Villa Sandi "Il Fresco" Prosecco
DOC Treviso
$13, 11% abv.
Lightly toasty aroma with a bit of lemon twist. Barely sweet, which was a surprise to me but not overwhelming. Strong acidity, so I recommend pairing this with something sweet that has a bit of fat to it, like pig candy (served as an appetizer at family Thanksgiving this year, and yes, I got to try this wine with said dish). Also keep in mind as a fun picnic wine for the spring and summer.

Note: This wine was received as a sample.

14 December 2011

Sandeman Founder's Reserve Port

Sandeman has been around since 1790, when an ambitious Scotsman named George Sandeman decided to head for Iberia to get involved in the growing Port business. The Brits and American colonials and many others had a great thirst for sweet, fortified wines like Port, Sherry, and Madeira that could survive a long sea journey that would destroy more delicate standard wines. That's why you see so many well-known Port houses with less-than-Portuguese names like Graham, Niepoort, Dow, Taylor, etc.

Celebrating over 200 years as a Port producer, this year Sandeman issued their Founder's Reserve in a variety of decorative tins that showcase artwork from the 1920s, including the iconic painting of "The Don" that remains as a symbol of the company today. My sample tin features The Centaur by Jean d’Ylen from 1926. D'Ylen was a French commercial illustrator famous for his Art Deco posters for French beer companies and Shell Oil, as well as his multiple ads for Sandeman. (More examples can be found on the company website.) As much as I adore the history of commercial art and advertising, particularly when executed with great skill, I'm even more enchanted by the centaur luring a redhead with two bottles of Port that he keeps just out of reach. And he's bearing the weight of a human torso, horse body, and lusty lass all on a single hoof! I wonder if it's Chiron, but whoever it is seems to be having fun.

Sandeman Founder's Reserve Port
Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão
Aged 5 Years
$20, 20% abv.
This is a great entry-level Port that is bright red, fruity, and sweet. Black cherry flavors dominate with a slight bite that diminishes as you swirl the glass and the evening lingers on. It's not overly sweet or syrupy and works as a lovely accompaniment for white cheeses, creamy desserts, or even ice cream. And the tin makes it an excellent Christmas present that won't break the bank. Because I like the artwork, I'll be keeping the tin on the shelf long after the last drop has disappeared from the bottle.

Note: This wine was received as a sample.

12 December 2011

2008 Aurielle Cabernet Sauvignon

In 2009, I got an opportunity to try a sample of the 2006 Aurielle Cabernet Sauvignon. I elected to surprise my brother (who works the night shift) with a gourmet steak dinner first thing in the morning. We had a blast with that meal, and it's in my top ten personal wine moments.

I had the chance to try a more recent release of the Aurielle, and while I considered various ways to enjoy it, I eventually looked at all the ingredients I had in the kitchen and decided to make a great steakhouse burger. Hand-ground sirloin, served with homemade mayonnaise, chipotle mustard, colby cheese, tomato, and romaine lettuce. Served with some pickled beets (for the Aussies), Claussen pickles, and a healthy dose of pommes frites.

This is a serious red wine, but I made a serious meal to go along with it, and after a long weekend of entertaining and other chores, it was an amazing way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

2008 Aurielle Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
$90, 14.9% abv.
Rich and full of deep black plum aromas. The alcohol is present on the nose but not noticeable on the palate. Soft dark fruit flavor with hints of leather and coffee and firm tannins. Long, lingering finish, and definitely a wine that you want to sit back and enjoy over the course of a few hours. Outstanding balance and highly recommended.

It was a phenomenal match with the meal, as humble as it may appear on the outside. But putting everything together in just the right way resulted in a perfect and memorable meal, and one that I won't be forgetting soon.

Note: This wine was received as a sample.

09 December 2011

Terroir of Soave

I got to participate in an online tasting with Giovanni Ponchia, the head œnologist of the Soave Consortium. This is one of the most creative approaches I've ever seen with a tasting: four wines representing different soil types in the Soave region of northeast Italy. It's amazing how much the type of agriculture in an area depends on what happened millions of years ago. This part used to be under the ocean, this part was lifted up by a volcano, glaciers scraped this region down to bedrock, etc. Here in Memphis I sit atop a bunch of clastics (siltstone and shales) that have developed from the late Mesozoic (70 million years ago) to the present.

Soave is a great, food friendly wine that's pretty affordable and easy to find. It pairs well with lots of things and I've served it in the past at Thanksgiving and Christmas to people with all levels of wine experience who have enjoyed it. Here are four tasty examples, with some notes on the soil.

2010 Vicentini Terrelunghe Soave DOC
80% Garganega, 20% Trebbiano di Soave
$8, 12.5% abv.
Calcareous: containing calcium carbonate, chalky
Light acidity and a round mouthfeel with, yes, a chalky mineral finish.

2009 Cantina di Monteforte Vigneto di Montegrande Soave Superiore DOCG Classico
100% Garganega
$14, 13% abv.
Basaltic: volcanic
Floral nose with high acidity and a crisp, tart finish. Apricot flavors.

2010 Cantina di Soave Rocca Sveva Soave DOC Classico
100% Garganega
$15, 12.5% abv.
Calcareous & Basaltic
Fruity nose of banana and pineapple, mild acidity and a mineral finish.

2010 Fattori Danieli Soave DOC
100% Garganega
$14, 12.5% abv.
Basaltic & Tufaceous: the latter term refers to a type of limestone
Tropical fruit, balanced acidity and a long, soft finish.

Note: These wines were received as samples.

07 December 2011

Barefoot Bubbly

I've said earlier that my big advice and my hope for the holiday season is that you don't wait until New Year's Eve to pop open some bubbles. But the topic of sparkling wines scares many people. I say grab a mixed case of inexpensive (not cheap) bubbles and bring at least one bottle to every gathering you attend this month. To pre-empt a few questions:

1) Am I going to hurt myself or others when I open it?

Don't point it at your face or anything fragile, and just hold the cork while slowly twisting the bottle. Keep a firm grip on the cork, and in a few seconds it will just pull itself out. Better to practice on inexpensive bottles before you try to open a classic vintage Champagne.

2) Why should I pay $100 for a bottle of wine when $50 spills on the floor (or scantily-clad floozies, as music videos have taught me everything I know about opening bubbly)?

Keep the bottle vertical, and don't shake it, regardless of what you've seen on TV. Another good reason to get a lot of practice this month with inexpensive bottles.

3) Don't I have to wait for a really special occasion?

I often think of inexpensive sparklers as grape soda. Does grape soda need a special occasion? No. Have fun and let the bubbles tickle your nose.

4) You say avoid cheap wine, but I can find rounded bottles with foil caps for as low as $3 a bottle. Why not those?

They taste awful, even with lots of orange juice and Tom Collins mix to hide the flavor. There's drinkable stuff starting at $10. Which leads me to...

Barefoot Bubbly. It's fun, it's not expensive, and it's easy to find. Here are three that show off some standard types of sparkling wine. I don't have the alcohol percentages or grapes used in these wines, but I'm going to keep the reviews simple this time for the person that is still a little intimidated by sparkling wine. Start small, and in a year you'll be arguing with me about obscure grower Champagnes.

NV Barefoot Rosé Cuvée
Just because it's pink doesn't mean it's sweet. This is a fairly dry rosé that I found to be delightful with a grilled cheese sandwich (with some ham and sliced pears in there). Strawberry and lemon flavors, crisp and tangy like lemonade.

NV Barefoot Moscato Spumante
The sweet member of the trio, this is full of honey and musk and will appeal the most to those who almost never drink wine. Serve with some cheesecake and raspberries and feel guilty the next day.

NV Barefoot Brut Cuvée
The driest of the three. Dry just means "not sweet", and this one is crisp and toasty with good acidity. If you like inexpensive Chardonnay, you'll enjoy this wine. Serve with your salty appetizers like popcorn and bruschetta and pretzels.

Note: These wines were received as samples.

05 December 2011

TasteLive with Benziger Pinot Noir

Last week I joined other winebloggers around the country to attend a virtual TasteLive event with Rodrigo Soto, Vice President of Winemaking for Benziger. In this online tasting, he showcased four of his high-end Pinot Noirs. Glancing back over my notes I see that in the past three years I've tried over two dozen different wines from Benziger, and yet somehow they still manage to surprise me.

These are all fairly small production wines, but you should be able to order them from the links below. These are all showing well now but should be amazing in a few years.

2009 Signaterra Pinot Noir
San Remo Vineyard
Russian River Valley
$49, 14.5% abv.
693 cases produced
The first Pinot Noir of the evening was tart and crispy with an overall profile of overripe strawberries and a touch of cream on the finish. As it breathes, there is more of a cranberry nose and flavor.

2009 Signaterra Pinot Noir
Bella Luna Vineyard
Russian River Valley
$49, 13.8% abv.
1,291 cases produced
My preferred bottle of the two Signaterras, this one was smooth and mellow with touches of plum and leather, deep and meaty. It has a short and delicate finish that makes you crave the next sip.

2009 Benziger de Coelo Pinot Noir
Quintus Vineyard
Sonoma Coast
$75, 13% abv.
475 cases produced
Smooth and light with gentle strawberry notes, delicate, brighter than the previous two wines. Still pretty young tasting, and I'd be interested to see how it matures. Fun side note: if you google Quintus and Benziger, you get the British musician and conductor Quintus Benziger.

2009 Benziger de Coelo Pinot Noir
Terra Neuma Vineyard
Sonoma Coast
$75, 13% abv.
465 cases produced
Far and away my favorite of the tasting, and one of the best Pinot Noirs I've had in ages. Red cherry initial nose but with an earthy depth and a hint of mushrooms. On the palate I got raspberry seeds and stewed fruit, just wonderful. It made me crave very rare rack of lamb with just a little rosemary. Highly recommended.

Note: These wines were received as samples.

02 December 2011

Radio Radio

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for tuning in to XBWR... Radio Free Benito broadcasting at 88.5 MHz on your FM dial. East of the Rockies, I hope you enjoy the following song. West of the Rockies, I will provide the shortwave frequency and the special password for entrance to the "Shameless Self Promotion" side of Benito's Wine Reviews. In the meantime, let's take a quick trip back to 1979 with this track from a British guy with an Italian pseudonym and a Memphis connection, and why does that sound a little familiar?

I hope you've enjoyed listening to Elvis Costello, but now we're turning over our show to KOTO-FM out of Telluride, Colorado. Hostess Maribeth Clemente of Travel Fun and the Bonjour Colorado blog decided to interview a wine blogger for her show, and she picked... now this is a surprise... yours truly.

I was happy to be selected, not just for the opportunity to rant about wine to a radio audience, but also because I'm a big fan of public and community-supported radio in all of its various forms. If you've always wanted to put a voice with the words I fling upon this virtual page, you can get a big dose of it in this interview. I had a lot of fun with it, and was glad to talk about my excitement surrounding this blog and my hobbies.

Just scroll to the bottom of this link, right past my smiling mug, and you can hear me ramble on about wine and food and cooking on car engines for half an hour.

Many thanks to the enchanting Maribeth Clemente for this opportunity, and I hope this is not the last time that we get to chat about wine.