Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bottleshock'd into starting blind tasting early

As you might remember from last October, I try to taste wine blindly all month and call it my Blind Ambition Tour. (its driven from the fact my wine club has a annual blind tasting in October) Last year, I did not fare too well. I stunk up the place on reds, hardly getting any right, but did better with the whites. Even with that dismal outcome I decided I’m going to do it again this October.

Well, I thought we were going to wait until October. This weekend we started watching Bottleshock, which is about the famed 1976 blind tasting which put California wine on the map. Well, it inspired Mr. Lush to begin the Blind Ambition Tour a bit early, he decided to hide a bottle from me and make me guess.

Really? Already? Dang it. Ok. It’s a white. Taste, smell, taste. Hmm. For sure it’s a Chardonnay (that’s an easy guess) and we only have 3 or so Chardonnays at the moment, I think. I was pretty sure it wasn’t a California chard – at least not one we had because it had a bit more acid and less creamy mouthfeel than the Cali Chards we have. So I guessed “a chardonnay not from California”. In truth, I pretty much knew which one it was, the only non-California chard we had was from Western Australia. So, I got it right, but it was a pretty easy softball for my first one, simply because our white selection is limited.

So then the next night he tried it again. Don’t recognize it, but that doesn’t mean anything –since it’s a red unless we have it regularly I probably won’t recognize it. Ok, it doesn’t smell or taste full bodied enough for a cab, and it isn’t spicy, so is it a Merlot? Yep, it was the Cameron Hughes St. Emilion (merlot based red blend). Woo hoo, look at me! We’ll see if the success continues when I don’t know the possible selection so well- I'm guessing no. ;)

Well, I had to get him back last night when we finished watching Bottleshock. I brought out our last bottle of the Ballentine Zinfandel, a 2002. He didn’t guess it correctly but it was because he second guessed himself….. it was a bit unfair, I suppose, because the 2002 has had so much time to age that it doesn’t exhibit many of the typical characters of a zin – its not peppery or hot. Its had enough time to mellow out completely. (He said he thought it might be a zin, but it was just too mellow.)

So, I guess the Blind Ambition Tour is already underway. Wish us luck and feel free to play along by having your significant other or friend put the wine in a bag one night and you do it the next night so you can take turns guessing, and when you go to a wine bar or restaurant, ask the server to bring a glass of something and let you guess. But, don’t be embarrassed if you fail…..I mean, really, people take TESTS for this stuff. I expect I’ll do a bit better this year overall than I did last year, but I totally expect to get a ton wrong again.

Oh well, quests are fun, right?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mumm's the word for sushi

Last night we had completed laying the tile for the bathroom. To celebrate the fact we now can get rid of a set of tools (and thus work on clearing out our toolshed of a living room) I got some sushi to go and we had a bottle of Mumm Napa Brut while we watched Monday's season premiere of House. (love that show....but he better resume jerk-ness soon!)

I digress....it was good, a little less yeasty than one of our normal standby’s, the Gloria Ferrer. It was fairly light, a bit fruity, and good with most of the sushi rolls we had. I don't recall ever having it before and was glad I picked it up, as we both preferred it to Gloria F because of its versatility with our variety of rolls- which we always get a spicy roll or two which usually has some sort of combo of crab or tuna or salmon, and some shrimp tempura oriented roll. Those are the standby's, and its nice to have a bubbly that goes with most everything.

We got it for a bit under $20 at Friar Tucks, a reasonable deal for a nice bottle of bubbly! Next time I see it I'll have to pick up a couple bottles to put in the regular sushi rotation!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Marsala and wine gods....

Well, this weekend I had the Artiste Vanessa (white blend) mentioned in my last post with my Chicken Marsala. I thought it was pretty good with it….it had enough body to stand up to the creamy marsala sauce and to the alfredo sauce for the fettucine. I think I might mark the other bottle exclusively for Marsala use…..Lucy, what’d you think?

And, how sad I was that the 1999 Marsannay we had was bad...the one time the Luce's want to voluntarily drink Chardonnay and its turned! Darn you wine gods!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Unique and noteworthy wines

We’ve had some note-worthy wines lately…..

At a recent wine club event I had my first red Pinot Meunier, by Domaine Chandon. (it’s the grape typically blended in sparkling wines with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) It was oh so good, in fact, Domaine Chandon describes it perfectly: its Pinot Noir’s soulful sister. It’s everything that’s great about Pinot Noir- delicate, a bit fruity, but with some subtle smoke added in to round it out, which is rare in a New World Pinot Noir. We bought it at Friar Tucks for $32 and it was a hit at the wine club event – unique treat!

Since Mr. Lush has been a bit under the weather, we’ve also tried to drink some value wines, where I can enjoy them to their fullest potential but not be sad that Mr. Lush’s palate is off by wasting an expensive bottle. One of which has been the Cameron Hughes Lot 150 Central Coast Meritage (blend of Cab, Cab Franc, and Merlot) – Sam’s Club bought all of it and is selling it for $6.22 a bottle. That’s right - $6.22!!! Now, my expectations for a $6 wine are pretty low, but honestly, it is really good and I’d totally stack this up against something 2-3 times the price. Its got some good fruit, a little bit of oak, overall pretty easy drinking. Note: it benefits from a little bit of decanting, although their website says it drinks great straight out of the bottle, but that’s ok. (We have 3 decanters so we don’t mind if we have to decant something 20 minutes before hand – particularly for an enjoyable bargain wine!!) We drank it with my parents who came to visit and help with the bathroom remodel and they enjoyed it as well, so I’ve been back twice to buy more and will probably pick up a few more bottles this weekend during my Sam’s Club trip. Its also a FANTASTIC choice for a holiday dinner wine - easy drinking for everyone, but priced low enough you don't care if your wine-swilling uncle chugs it like Nat Light.....

Another one is the Artiste Vanessa. (see label to the right) It was a special 3 bottle white purchase and I was a bit excited for the “Franco Italian” blend. 29% Malvasia Bianca, 28% Orange Muscat, 24% Gewurtztraminer, and 19% Chardonnay. I expected it to be fruity and a smidge sweet and hoped for a good pairing with spicy sushi. Not so much – its not overly fruity, its not sweet….its not acidic – the chard rounds it out but it doesn’t taste very chard-ish….its hard to classify, but I liked it, just not with the sushi. I think we might try it with Chicken Marsala tomorrow night and see how it goes- as you know from the Marsala Quest, I’m always on the lookout for the perfect Marsala friendly wine and who knows, this might be it. At the very least, as with all the Artiste wines, it fits nicely with my Artist Series Quest.
(can you tell I like wine-related quests??)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bathroom recap

How’s the bathroom progress going you ask? Well, we’re WAY behind schedule….first a little recap (those of you who know the story feel free to skip ahead) My parents came into town to help us over Labor Day Weekend…..as said in my earlier post, we’re doing tile instead of the tub surround. Well, after mudding and taping and more of it, we were hoping to make some progress tiling Friday night….but Mr. Lush fell asleep at 8:45. Why so early? Well, a week or so ago he had a bad sinus infection….took some antibiotics, but I guess the dust from the remodel built up in his sinuses and ears, because Friday and Saturday he was good for about 2 hours worth of work and Sunday he was dizzy and his ears hurt so he was totally useless.

Now, before you think I’m a cold hearted wife, I spent my day evenly between getting painting done, taking Layla to the dog park, getting Mr. Lush Afrin and Mucinex and making him put warm pads on his ears and sitting over steam, all in hopes of loosening up whatever was making him dizzy, in addition to starting to tile the shower myself. Of course, the paint didn’t seem like it was going to work – I decided to go with a slightly lighter green since our tile was so dark … and when I applied the first coat all we could think of was “hmm, I want some key lime pie”. Egad. However, a trip to Lowes and a swap to those “reveal” light bulbs and it softened it up a lot. It was a long, long day but I’m happy to report that the bathroom was painted (still a smidge of touch ups needed where the painters tape took off a bit of paint) and 4 rows of tile on two walls were up by the time I crawled into bed…he was no longer dizzy by yesterday morning.

Now, on to last night. I had hopes of getting 4 more rows of tile up, getting sink installed, mirror up, and sconce lights up. (My dad already made sure the lights were ready to connect a few wires and connect sconces to brackets) I know, a bit ambitious. The sink started to go smoothly but we needed an extender piece. Of course, can’t catch a break with anything…can’t do one day of project work without a trip to a home improvement store…..so Mr. Lush ran to the hardware store to get that and I started to mix the mortar outside so I get could to tiling. After I tiled 2 rows I got up to get something then looked outside ….to find Layla had ripped into the dry mortar bag.

Yep, it was all over the patio and all over her and in her mouth….so we had to clean that up, clean her up, and put the ripped mortar bag in a big trash bag so what was left could be salvaged. Mr. Lush picks up the big bag and sort of tosses it a foot or so to the side so its not smack dab in the door way….and it hits a trash can, which had somehow been knocked over and was smack dab in front of the basement window. I’m sure you’re guessing what happened next….the basement window broke.

Really? Not a single day of project work where things can go as planned?? Egad! Mr. Lush patched up the window while I made dinner and after dinner I pushed through and got up the 4 more rows of tile I had wanted to get up. So, the sink was installed, the mirror up and some more tile done…but Mr. Lush was still a bit tired and didn’t want to mess with the light.

So, we did ok, even with the snafus, although I would’ve rather have gotten the tiling done and had some wine with dinner and relaxed, rather than cleaning up mortar, eating dinner late and with milk, and finishing my tiling at 10:03.

Home remodeling sucks………

Friday, September 11, 2009

Flavored beer? Why yes, I will have one!

Last weekend I picked up a 12 pack Brewmaster’s sampler of Sam Adams, which included Sam Adams Light, Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, and Blackberry Witbier. Mr. Lush’s beers of choice are Guinness and Shalafly Pale Ale (local brewing company) but he also likes Sam Adams, so I thought he might like to try the Pale Ale and I was moderately curious about the Blackberry Witbier, although I’ve never liked fruity beers and find the fruit overpowering, I figured Sam Adams might make one I liked.

Well, it was a good choice… the blackberry is barely there. Now, a Witbier / Weissbier (which is my preferred beer style of choice - typically brewed in Belgium) is a bit more fruity than bitter anyway, with hints of orange, clove, coriander, and sometimes just a whisper of banana. (I wouldn't call Witbier a fruit beer…its not just bitter…) But the blackberry gives this beer just a smidge of fruit, just enough to keep it tasting like beer because of the full body of the beer, but not overpower it. I have now found the only flavored beer I like. (true, I can’t drink more than 1 or 2 without being fruit-beer’d out, but those 1 or 2 are really good)

The Hefe is also good, although not quite “witbier”. (note for Pale Ale lovers – Mr. Lush liked the Pale Ale, but still prefers the Shalafly….sorry Jim Koch)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

An artist, a phantom, and a lamb walk into a bar....

Just kidding, its not really a joke…..last night the Luce’s came over to take pity on us and help mudd the bathroom. (by “help” I mean pretty much do it) I was in charge of dinner while the Mr’s mudded away. For dinner, we had an all-grill meal of thyme/terragon seasoned lamb chops, rosemary potatoes, and zucchini. The Luce’s brought the Bogle Phantom (a Petite Sirah/Zinfandel based blend) and we served the Artiste “Summer” (a Syrah blend). The Phantom is a Luce favorite and its availability in MO isn’t consistent so it was a nice treat. As you know, my Artist Series Label Quest is ongoing and of course, the Artiste series wines are a big part of that.

Well? Both were excellent with the lamb, but I will say the Phantom was a little bit bigger and went a smidge better with it, however the Summer was good as well and was awesome with the potatoes. Of course we followed up with the Lush Favorite Po' Boy Dessert…. ice cream sandwiches and port.

Nothing like a discount finish to a nice meal…right? Hey, this remodel costs money, had to cut back somewhere and it certainly wasn't going to be on the wine! ;)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mess and Stress of remodeling

Where have I been? Ah, busy...but mostly not at a computer with free time when a blogging topic hits me, or without the time to really write about the topic in my head. Which, I still don't have the time, but thought I'd let my cyberfan community (all, what, 1 or 3 of you?) know I'm alive.

As you might've guessed by my encoded post title ;) , we're remodeling our bathroom. Now, here's the kicker...its our ONLY bathroom. As in when we working on the toilet, the house has no toilet. Nor a shower. Luckily the toilet is installed, but the shower...eh....we ended up with the surprise additional task of tiling the tub/shower versus the ease of a tub surround. So, we hope to have a shower by, oh, Sunday, if all goes well. *sigh*

Because Mr. Lush and myself are remodeling retarded, my dad and stepmom came to help us this weekend. However, 3 days of 4 people eating/drinking, mixed with remodeling dust, sparatic water and electricity, has left the house, dishes, and laundry a mess. Luckily for me, I have a super boss (Hi, MB!) who is letting me work from home to get caught up on laundry at least. Which reminds me....guess I better get back to work.

Stay tuned for remodeling pics....