31 August 2005

Corks Redux

Barbera over at winosandfoodies.com was kind enough to participate in my earlier, mostly ignored cork photo/statistics challenge. Thanks for playing! Any future contributors will be listed in this post.

Huzzah for the Wineblogs!

I've been writing this thing since January... At first, it began as only a convenient way for me to keep notes on wines I've liked or disliked, combined with a strong desire to link to the producers of the wine as well as making sure that I spell the damned thing right, regardless of how many special characters I hâvè tó üsê. After an e-mail session with the Professor resulted in a link, I decided to spruce it up a bit and publicize the blog. Thus far it has been an informative and rewarding experience.

For instance, my last post on a Shiraz-Viognier blend resulted in several e-mails, including one who had tasted that very wine from the barrel in California, and another who opined on a Shiraz-Viognier blend in Australia. And since I liked it so much, a bit of research turned up the fact that this is the combination used in the classic Rhone appellation Côte Rôtie. Though I'm anxious to explore that wine region, it's fun to try the less expensive versions from other parts of the world. For instance, as much as I love Malbec, I've still never seen a Cahors here in Memphis.

Since I've lurking about the wine blogs for a couple of months, I haven't seen a lot of drama, animosity, wine snobbery, or infighting. There's a chance I've missed it, but things seem to be pretty amiable. Is it because the community is so small, or is it because we're all focused on a delicacy that makes social occasions convivial, and that there's a good chance that we post with a glass of wine beside the keyboard?

Regardless, it's been fun, and I look forward to many more posts here. And for all new readers, feel free to nose through the archives.

28 August 2005

2002 Hayman & Hill Shiraz-Viognier

I've heard good things about the Shiraz-Viognier blends out of Australia, but I don't think I've had one before. A local shop just got in a few cases of the 2002 Hayman & Hill Shiraz-Viognier from Monterey County, California. It's 93% Shiraz and 7% Viognier. I couldn't find a separate website for this wine, but it appears to be made at Blackstone by two of the vintners.

This is definitely a fruit bomb. Raspberry dominates, with maybe a bit of cherry or blackberry in the background. Low tannins, so it's a good summertime sipper. The viognier I think softens the edge while providing just a little herbal complexity. Retails for around $14, but I got it for $11. I served it with a rich chuck roast/cream sauce casserole.

27 August 2005

Wine-Food Pairing Challenge: Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I received a challenge from the author of the Spittoon wine blog: match a wine with your favorite grilled cheese recipe.

Now, as a lifelong resident of Memphis, Tennessee, I have to admit that I was partially raised on the following recipe: two slices of generic grocery store wheat bread, slathered with cheap margarine, with one slice of Kraft American cheese and four dill pickle slices, grilled in a skillet. Cut in half horizontally or diagonally depending on mood. It's honestly one of the first things I remember learning how to cook. I remember making it for my Dad after he came home from the night shift, after long hours of loading bags at the airport.

(Years later, Dad once woke me up in the middle of the night to eat smoked salmon and drink Cognac when I was about 15. The salmon was less than 48 hours out of the seas off Norway, and had skipped customs in several places. The Cognac was a gift from some Japanese businessmen. Dad did move up in the company, but never forgot his roots.)

But these days, here's my favorite grilled cheese recipe... Take two pieces of decent sourdough, some good unsalted butter, and equal amounts of Norwegian Jarlsberg and good sharp Vermont cheddar, both thinly sliced. Now, you'll make it similar to the above--coat the outside of the sandwich with a thin layer of soft butter, and cook in the skillet until nice and brown on each side. Don't be afraid to flip often, just make sure the cheese doesn't run everywhere. For an added flair, if using an electric stove, take the finished sandwich and just kiss it to the hot eye for a second or two on each side to get some nice grill marks. Serve with some kosher pickle spears or a good, homemade tomato soup.

As for the wine? Buttered toast and cheese really cries out for a California Chardonnay. And since this is something that I'd definitely be eating alone and not serving as a meal for others, I'd go with one of my long time favorite table whites: the 2003 Hess Select Chardonnay. This is a great $10 or less California Chardonnay that I've been drinking over many vintages. It's never complicated or surprising, but rather reliable and delicious. And again, the toast aromas and buttery texture really go great with this kind of food. Since I often cook with this wine (it's amazing in soups and sauces), it's not unusual for me to have some leftover in the fridge for a late night snack... such as a grilled cheese sandwich.

25 August 2005

2004 Concha y Toro Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot

Another cheap $4 table wine here... the 2004 Concha y Toro Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot. There's some chocolate and earth on the nose, but you really have to hunt for it. As for the flavor, it's odd. There's barely a hint of tannins, maybe a touch of stewed fruit. All in all, there's nothing to get excited about in this wine, but it's not bad for a table wine. If it's any indication, I'm drinking this with some shredded pork tamales and a couple of clementines. As unexciting as the wine is, it would probably still make a good house red for any mom and pop restaurant. I've certainly had worse at higher prices.

24 August 2005


After having a half dozen corks fall off my computer desk, I decided it was time to round all of them up... See the pile in the photo. I'd been stashing a bunch of them with the corkscrew and in kitchen drawers, with a few scattered here and there. (One of my dogs has eaten a few, so I try to keep them off the floor.) I counted them up and threw all of them in a box. The totals: 54 standard corks, 11 synthetics, and 14 Champagne/sparkler corks. And while I'm fine with screwcaps for everyday table wine and young whites, I don't tend to keep those--they're kind of flimsy and don't survive well like old beer or soda bottle caps.

I'm not consciously saving these things, I just tend to stick them in my pocket or in a drawer after opening wine. Last year, I saved a bunch for a friend of a friend, who is covering his entire kitchen walls with corks. I might make a trivet or something out of these things... And while I probably ought to just throw them away, there's something nice about touching them, seeing the stain on one end, and remembering that wine.

I could make this a sort of Wine Blogger Challenge--gather your corks and sort them out, but I don't think I'm that well known yet... However, if anyone else feels like participating, link back to this post.

2004 Concha y Toro Frontera Sauvignon Blanc

Back in January, I blogged about drinking the lowest and highest wines from the Concha y Toro vineyards in a single evening. I've always enjoyed their products, particularly the Marques line. Even though I've been drinking a lot more Argentinian wine recently, I still have a soft spot for Chile.

One of my local tiny wine shops often has a pallet of inexpensive table wine near the front door, and the selection is constantly changing. Sometimes it's great, sometimes it's boring, but they're usually worth having for the price. (Here in Memphis we don't get "Two Buck Chuck", but this is pretty close.) Obviously lots of places do this, but with this particular store, due to the limited space and high turnover, inexpensive wines don't sit around forever slowly turning into undrinkable swill. And the owners typically do a decent job of picking out stuff that's halfway decent.

So I got a couple of the Concha y Toro Frontera wines, their bargain table wine label. Tonight I'm sipping on the 2004 Concha y Toro Frontera Sauvignon Blanc. At $4 a bottle, it's hard to pass up for casual summer consumption. Initially it has a harsh nose, not flawed, but fortunately it mellows out by the second glass. It's slightly tart but not crisp, with mild lemon flavors and a soft finish. (I think the splash of Sémillon makes a pleasant addition.) Would be a good casual party or picnic wine if you're not amongst serious wine drinkers. In fact, I'm having it with some leftover potato salad and fresh local tomatoes.

After a long day at work, it was a pleasant way to grab a snack and unwind... I grabbed my beloved copy of the Larousse Gastronomique and just bounced around to random entries, finding the wine and history of French cooking to be a great way to get e-commerce and malfunctioning printer problems out of my head.

21 August 2005

Tasting Notes for August 20, 2005

This week's theme was "forgotten reds". Not forgotten on my table or in the hearts of my countrymen, but simply not covered in this summer's single-grape tastings. Again, all were tasted blind, and I accurately guessed the grape on about half of them.

Wine 1: 2002 Magpie Estate "The Fakir" Grenache. Barossa Valley, Australia. Good round fruit, a touch of raspberry with a dry finish. Seems like this variety can be a little sweet coming from Down Under, but this one wasn't. $23.

Wine 2: 2002 Abundance Old Vine Zinfandel. Lodi, California. Luscious, strong wine with firm tannins and a bold finish. Needs a hearty meal. $15.

Wine 3: 2000 Rust en Vrede Shiraz. Stellenbosch, South Africa. Well rounded and soft, with great black cherry and plum flavors. The lack of pepper threw me off and made me think that it was an older Zinfandel. $24.

Wine 4: 2004 The Wishing Tree Shiraz. Western Australia. Looks like it comes from near Perth, which my grandfather once described as "way on the other side of nowhere". Strange nose, almost medicinal. Herbal notes on the palate. Strange little wine. $15.

Wine 5: 2000 Mazzocco Zinfandel. Dry Creek Valley, California. Light with an excellent red cherry flavor and a short, tannic finish. Has definitely mellowed well with age. $16.

Wine 6: 2002 Morande Terrarum Carménère. Maipo Valley, Chile. Used to be one of the blending grapes of Bordeaux until phylloxera killed it off. However, it had survived in Chile from plantings back in the mid-19th century. Dark earth and leather aromas, with full dark plum flavors. An amazing wine for the price, and it would be great to bring to a blind tasting to throw everyone off. $12.

Wine 7: 2002 Peju Zinfandel. Napa Valley, California. A confusing wine on the palate, but not bad. I got heavy tannins with a long finish, and wasn't able to discern any major fruit tastes or aromas. $26.

Wine 8: 2001 Lolonis Winegrower Selection Syrah. Redwood Valley, California. A Syrah that stands up and proudly announces its identity. Peppery black cherry, excellent fruit forward flavors. Delicious wine. $30.

Wine 9: 2003 Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache. Barossa Valley, Australia. A little bite on the beginning, with dark fruit flavors and a hint of spice. Would taste better in a blend. $17.

Wine 10: 2003 Concannon Petite Sirah. Central Coast, California. Another wine that was unmistakeable on first taste. Blackberry and blueberry on the tongue, surprisingly soft tannins for the grape and age. Excellent balance and great price. $12.

Wine 11: 2003 Antis Malbec. Mendoza, Argentina. Mild and mellow, slightly bitter. I picked it out as a Malbec, but wasn't overly enthusiastic. $15.

Wine 12: 2002 Jade Mountain Mourvèdre. Contra Costa, California. The first pure Mourvèdre I've ever had. Firm tannins, dark fruit, and very dry. Interesting. I was neutral on the wine itself, but it would be fun to get a bottle of this plus a pure Grenache and a pure Syrah to make your own Rhône-style blends.

19 August 2005

A few oddballs...

From a gathering at a friend's house before heading out for dinner...

The woman I'm dating brought back a couple of bottles of wine from a recent trip to Germany. We had one tonight: 2003 Klaus Zimmerling Kerner Trocken Landwein. Basically that means that it's a dry high-quality table wine made from a grape that's a hybrid of Trollinger (a red) and Riesling, from the estate of Klaus Zimmerling. More info? It's estate bottled ( Erzeugerabfullung), from Dresden-Pillnitz in the region of Sachsen in the former East Germany, near the Czech border. Finally, the high school German classes are useful. As for the wine? Basically like a very dry riesling, with a unique flavor that's very hard to pinpoint. Slightly sour in a very pleasing manner. Acidic without crispness. I don't even know if this stuff is available over here in any quantities, but it's a nice little wine. Comes in a half liter bottle, no idea about the price.

Our hostess poured some other leftover wines she had on hand... Not sure how long these had been uncorked, recorked and left out (several days or a week?), but I don't think I could give them fair reviews. However, keeping with the odd theme of the evening, these were two Italian wines using grapes one normally doesn't associate with the region. The second wine of the evening was the 2002 Morassutti Merlot from the Friuli region in northern Italy. Retails for around $6. Hey, I'm getting to use my college Italian tonight as well.

The third and final was a Sicilian Shiraz--I kid you not. The 2002 Mandrarossa Shiraz was reminiscent of the hotter vineyards of Australia, with a bit more tannins to please the Italian palate. I'd actually like to try this one again with some grilled meat. Retails for $8 or so.

15 August 2005

The Woes of a Tennessee Wine Drinker

As I might be getting some traffic this week from the Wine Blogging Wednesday, I thought I might expound a bit on what it means to be a wine drinker in Tennessee, specifically the Memphis area. Some of this I covered before, but I'll expound on the issue:

  • I can't buy wine anywhere other than a wine/liquor store or an in-state vineyard. I can't order it online or through the mail, and I sure as hell can't get it in a supermarket. Some of the purists amongst you might find this a silent blessing, but there are many liquor stores that are horrible places to buy wine--a five year old Yellowtail merlot will sit on the shelf slowly oxidizing and waiting for the first unsuspecting customer. There are some good wine-focused shops, but you really have to get in good with the local "wine underground" to know where to go and who to talk to. I've been very fortunate to have good friends and connections in this regard.

  • In line with the above, all wine in this state has to go through a distributor. Individuals or store owners can't order wine directly from the producer. This may change due to the recent Supreme Court ruling, but I doubt it--if anything, our wine laws will probably get more strict. I'm good friends with some distributors, but at the same time, the system is rough if you want to try something from a vineyard that isn't popular locally. Of course, I can ask any of those distributors to order a case for me as a favor, but I'm not a teenager passing a handful of bills to a homeless guy with strict instructions to pick up a dry, claret-style young Bordeaux.

  • Though I enjoyed getting decent wines from grocery stores in Europe when I was 19 and on a few subsequent trips, it was only recently that I discovered that much of the nation is able to buy booze at the supermarket. I am 28.

  • I can't purchase wine after eleven at night, before ten in the morning, or on Sunday at all. I can get wine at pretty much any hour from a restaurant (though our local wine taxes border on criminal--a glass of the cheapest, crappiest table wine will set you back at least five or six bucks, enough to buy an entire magnum retail).

  • Beer's a bit different, but like I said before, you can't get it in a liquor store unless it's a "big beer". In theory you can buy beer in supermarkets or convenience stores 24/7, but in reality it's illegal to buy it between two and eight a.m., or noon on Sunday, something like that. This generally isn't a problem, but I discovered once after an 18-hour shift at work that I couldn't get a cold one at the 24-hour grocery store. Damn the state government!

  • Outside of the "wine underground", wine drinking in this town seems to be considered a women's thing, and then only within the bounds of white zin and affiliated sweet wines. I've actually known guys who loved wine in private who wouldn't dare drink it in public. I've made some converts through my dinner parties, but it's a hard sell in this part of the world. I try to tell them that the goddamned Vikings drank wine out of the skulls of their enemies, but somehow it's still an effeminate beverage.

  • Given the strict regulations regarding wine and stronger beverages, it is inevitable that homegrown solutions would emerge over the years. I'm proud to say that I've had many fine homebrewed beers. And I've had one or two hombrewed wines that weren't terrible. And I've had some moonshine and affiliated beverages that could strip the paint off a boat--viscous, evil liquids that I'd really rather forget.

14 August 2005

Tasting Notes for August 13, 2005

Today's themed grape was Chardonnay... I don't drink a lot of Chardonnay, because a good oaked one is going to cost at least $20 (such as a decent Pouilly-Fuissé), and inexpensive oaked Chardonnay (I'm looking at you, California) can taste awful. On the other end, inexpensive unoaked Chardonnay is often delightful--there are some good table-variety white Burgundies and similar wines from Australia. However, I was pleasantly surprised by several of Saturday's selections.

Wine 1: 2003 Cambria Katherine's Vineyard Chardonnay. Santa Maria Valley, California. A little buttered toast aroma on top, fruity and acidic. Really powerful flavor. $24.

Wine 2: 2002 Louis Latour Pouilly-Vinzelles "En Paradis". Burgundy, France. Clean and crisp aroma, watery and just too mild. This is an unoaked wine, but it really could have used just a bit more punch. $16.

Wine 3: 2002 Chateau Reynella Chardonnay. McLaren Vale, Australia. The winery is owned by Hardy Wine Company, which is owned by Pacific Wine Partners, which is owend by the Constellation conglomerate. I was able to find a little more information on the winemaker, but not much about the specific wine. I found it lemony and slightly sweet, with firm acids. A well balanced wine. Probably fantastic with a spicy seafood dish. $16.

Wine 4: 2003 Elderton Unwooded Chardonnay. This had a really strong, musky aroma--not corked, but more like overripe fruit. However, it had good citrus flavors and a decent finish. $14.

Wine 5: 2003 Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay. Columbia Valley, Washington. Mild butter flavors and an overall mellow impact on the mouth. Really delightful. $20.

Wine 6: 2003 Catena Chardonnay. Mendoza, Argentina. This is the biggest wine producer in Argentina, responsible for several different product lines. This bottle had soft fruit nose, very mild, well rounded flavors. It's always nice to find a well-balanced wine. $19.

Wine 7: 2004 Red Bicyclette Chardonnay. Vin de Pays d'Oc, France. Very fruity aroma, though I got apples where others smelled peaches. Lightly oaked, not overly powerful or weak. I've only had this on one or two occasions, but I recognized it immediately. I know it's fashionable to hate the Red Bicyclette wines, but they're not bad for the price. $11.

Wine 8: 2004 Glen Carlou Chardonnay. Paarl, South Africa. Melony, musky aroma. A little sweet with a harsh aftertaste. Not enthusiastic about this one. $14.

Wine 9: 2003 Sonoma-Loeb Private Reserve Chardonnay. Sonoma, California. Some ripe fruit flavors, but an aftertaste that made me want to quit and brush my teeth. The only wine out of the tasting that I really couldn't stand. $30.

Wine 10: 2002 Ruffino Libaio Chardonnay Toscana I.G.T.. Tuscany, Italy. Oak and butter, with hints of stewed fruit on the tongue. A good little wine. $12.

Wine 11: 2003 Morandé Terrarum Chardonnay. Maipo Valley, Chile. Great aroma of raisins on top, with good full fruit and a slightly crisp finish. $12.

Wine 12: 2004 Chehalem "INOX" Chardonnay. Willamette Valley, Oregon. Fruit all over the place, though a slightly bitter aftertaste. Would probably work better with food. The name INOX refers to inoxidable, the French word for stainless steel. $19.

12 August 2005

Bachelor Dinner

It's a week late, but here's the photoessay of the Bachelor Dinner I cooked for my brother, the fathers, and the groomsmen. A great time was had by all. Here's a shot of the seafood course, grilled bacon-wrapped scallops with asparagus and heirloom tomatoes:

I've also got a separate page up with all of the wines that were drunk that evening (including photos of the labels). Most of them have been reviewed here at one time or another, and I try not to repeat myself too often.

It should be noted that most of those in attendance weren't big wine drinkers, so I tried to stick with fun, flavorful, and inexpensive wines, but ones that are solidly put together. I did a little presentation on each one, just thirty seconds or so to tell them a little about what they were drinking.

10 August 2005

Wine Blogging Wednesday

Over at Dr. Vino's blog, I saw a post about Wine Blogging Wednesday, an occasion for wine bloggers to post on the same topic on the same day. This month's charge is to drink a wine from the nearest winery and post on the results. I won't be drinking any of their wine today, but I can tell you a lot about my closest winery.

Tennessee isn't a big wine-growing state. There's a lot of fruit wines and cordials made throughout the state, but none that are really popular or move far beyond their home towns. I almost went to a Tennessee wine festival in Nashville a couple of months ago, but work got in the way. I live at the far southwestern end of the state, in a suburb of Memphis called Cordova. And there's a winery almost within walking distance of my house.

Cordova Cellars is a nice place to visit. The buildings look great, it's fun to take the tour and see how grapes become wine, and the cellar is certainly a cool place to hang out during our hot summer days. They occasionally have concerts, parties, and picnics out on the lawn.

They don't actually grow grapes there anymore--some disease killed off the vines one year and they didn't want to start over with all new plants. Instead, the grapes come from farms around the Mid-South. Obviously this is nothing compared to a tour through Napa or Sonoma, but there's just not a lot of wineries in this part of the country.

As for the wines, they tend to be very sweet, though the lineup changes every year. I seem to recall the Merlot being pretty rough, but I have a soft spot for the dark and smoky sweet flavors of their Muscadine wine (in small quantities). There's a sort of novelty wine they make called Spring Fling, that incorporates a bit of peach nectar with the grape juice. Years ago I really enjoyed some of the whites, but my tastes have changed and refined over the years. Ain't much, but it's all we've got.

Odd side note: it's the only retail establishment in Memphis where you can purchase a bottle of wine on a Sunday. You can get wine in a restaurant (or in church, I suppose), and of course you can drink it from sunup to sundown. The winery gets an exemption because it's technically a farm and is subject to different laws from liquor stores. In Tennessee you can't buy wine or liquor in the grocery stores, only beer. And beer isn't sold in the liquor stores, unless it's a "big beer".

09 August 2005

Folie à Deux Menage à Trois... ou neuf?

For my brother's wedding reception, we took advantage of our friendship with a local distributor, who got us a great deal on everything. I've already talked about the amazing Saint-Meyland, but what about the other wines for the reception?

Most of the guests were beer and vodka drinkers; we went for Heineken, Bud Light, and Ketel One. For others, we had some decent single malt whisky Glenfiddich and a surprisingly smooth and tasty French gin by the name of Citadelle. (Full disclosure: I'm drinking straight ice cold Citadelle as I type this. Can't wait to try it in a traditional martini.) It's distilled four times, and the herbal components are based on a recipe from 1771.

The grubby-faced kid tugs at my pant leg. "But mister, what about the wine?" All right...

Again, the number of serious and casual wine drinkers at this wedding could be counted on one hand. A hand that belonged to a particularly inept high school shop teacher. But instead of going cheap, we just went fruit-forward and a bit on the sweet side. For that reason, we used all three varieties of the Folie à Deux Menage à Trois. Now let the record show that I think their Amador County Zinfandel is one of the greatest wines under $20 to hit the market in years. The Menage à Trois line is a little sweet for my tastes: the white is comprised of Moscato, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc, though the musky sweet flavor of the Moscato tends to overwhelm the other whites; the rosé is made out of the unholy but tasty combination of Merlot, Syrah, and Gewurztraminer (actually a bit drier than the white, has a nice apple flavor to it); and the red is made from Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Out of the three, the red is my favorite with the rosé a close second. The red, while a bit too much for casual sipping, makes a great wine to pair with smoked pork barbecue (an important matching tip here in the South) or as a non-threatening introduction for those who say they hate red wine. The rosé goes great with Mexican, Indian, or anything spicy, plus it has an absolutely gorgeous color--sort of a desert rose with just a hint of lavender during the pour. (The French have dozens of words to describe pink wines, all of them quite poetic. None of them are useful outside of the backroads of Provence.)

I'm not a fan of the white, but that doesn't mean it's not a good wine. In fact, it's an excellent stepping stone if you want to wean anyone off White Zinfandel. Might be a good match for Thai cuisine as long as you're not eating something with a sweet coconut milk sauce.

All three went over quite well, and as last man standing at the end of the reception, I took home the majority of the alcholic leftovers. I did leave the catering staff with every bottle that was less than half full plus a case of beer, and told them to drink and be merry.

07 August 2005

Tasting Notes for August 6, 2005

Just because I had a wedding to attend in the evening didn't mean that I couldn't make it to the early afternoon tasting, particularly because the grape of the week was Pinot Noir. A lot of these wines were delicate, and would probably come through with stronger flavors over the course of a full glass or two. Most of the wines poured on this day were fantastic. As usual, everything was tasted blind and then matched up to the labels afterwards.

Wine 1: 2003 Laetitia Pinot Noir Estate. Arroyo Grande Valley, California. A slightly harsh nose, but with a strong start and mild finish. Didn't pick up any outstanding flavors, but it's a solid wine. $26.

Wine 2: 2003 Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvée Pinot Noir. Willamette Valley, Oregon. Light cherry flavors, very mild and mellow. Great example of Oregon Pinot Noir, just wish the region wasn't so pricy. $33.

Wine 3: 2003 Louis Latour Marsannay. Burgundy, France. I got flavors and aromas of stewed fruit and dried cranberries. Good balance with a dry finish. $23.

Wine 4: 2002 Block 13 Pinot Noir. Sonoma, California. Amazing black cherry flavors with firm tannins. $20.

Wine 5: 2002 Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir. Carneros, California. This was another powerful one, with full flavor and reminiscent of Shiraz at moments. $26

Wine 6: 2003 Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir. Marlborough, New Zealand. I think this is the first NZ Pinot Noir I've ever tried. Mild cherry, very light, maybe too thin. $20.

Wine 7: 2003 Ninth Island Pinot Noir. Tasmania, Australia. Another first, in this case the first wine of any type that I've tried from Tasmania. It's a small growing region, and not a lot gets exported to the US. By far my favorite of the tasting. Great balance of dark fruit with a hint of pepper, and firm tannins on the long finish. A big, fruit forward wine as opposed to some of the thinner selections of the day. $18.

Wine 8: 2002 Gérard Bertrand Vin de Pays d'Oc. Languedoc, France. Thin with just a small bite on the finish. Not bad, but I was wanting more fruit flavor. $17.

Wine 9: 2002 Bourgogne Roncevie Domaine Arlaud. Burgundy, France. Raisins and dried cranberries. Sounds odd, but tasted great. Well rounded with a soft edge from start to finish. $23.

Wine 10: 2003 Mirassou Pinot Noir. Monterey, California. I think this is the third or fourth time I've had this wine, and it's tasted different on each occasion. There's a touch of stewed fruit with a little spice on the finish. Easily drinkable and a good bargain. $10.

Wine 11: 2002 Bottega Vinaia Pinot Noir. Trentino, Italy. Another Italian wine from the upper northeast near Austria. Seems like we've had a lot of those recently. I also realized this was probably an oddball, as it was the only wine in a Bordeaux-style bottle as opposed to the Burgundy-style you see with most Pinot Noirs. As for the wine? I found it watery with no prominent flavors or aromas. Not bad, but just too light for my tastes. $20.

Saint-Meyland Brut NV

For the wedding toast last night, we used the Saint-Meyland Brut, a non-vintage sparkling wine from Burgundy. Made in the méthode champenoise style, it contains Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay & Aligote. A bargain at around $10 a bottle, this is a surprisingly good wine. The Pinot Noir really stands out, giving the wine just a hint of a salmon color. It's got a slightly yeasty nose, lots of bubbles, and good crisp fruit flavors like apple and pear. Of course, I had been drinking Glenfiddich with my father for most of the evening, so don't take too much stock in my tasting notes there.

05 August 2005

Broquel Wines

Tonight at the rehearsal dinner, I had two glasses of wine from the Broquel line of the Trapiche winery out of Argentina. I've commented before on their inexpensive Malbec and Pinot Noir, the former of which I used for a reduction sauce last night.

I had the Malbec and the Cabernet Sauvignon, both from 2002 and retailing for around $15 a bottle. I preferred the Malbec, but I'm pretty biased there. It's a deliciously jammy dark wine that isn't overly fruity. Lovely plum aromas. The Cabernet Sauvignon was surprising, with some chocolate and tobacco, but I think it would be better in a year or two of mellowing. Strangely, I don't recall seeing these wines on the shelf in the Memphis area, but I'll be on the lookout.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Argentina remains a great source of bargain table reds that don't taste like crap. Sort of like Australia ten years ago if you knew where to look.

Thanks, Professor!

The great legal scholar and wine blogger Professor Bainbridge was kind enough to link to this blog, so here's a hearty thanks and a welcome to all new visitors. I'll try to reciprocate and start a blogroll on the side of this site.

My brother's getting married tomorrow, so I should have a bunch of wine reviews to post on Sunday. (Dad just picked up cases and cases of wine, vodka, and other goodies for the reception.) And I might link to a couple of my food/wine photoessays where I get to show off my cooking skills... This isn't something I've blogged about before, but I might as well share it with the world. For example, the recent Rack of Lamb Dinner. For those who don't feel like reading the whole thing, here's what the final plate looked like:

I'll probably have a similar writeup about last night's Bachelor Dinner.

In the meantime, Cheers!