Friday, December 3, 2010

Lush Mulled wine

About 2 years ago I posted a recipie for mulling spices, but in that post I linked to a recipie for mulled wine in a blog that is no longer functional. (Miss you Lucy!) So, in light of the fact its getting downright chilly in the Lou, I thought it might be time to post it all together.
  • 1 bottle of red wine (I like American Zinfandel)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 2 TSP pre-mixed mulling spice, or see recipe below.
  • Wrap in cheesecloth and tie with a cotton string:
                    -2 cinnamon sticks
                    -1 small whole nutmeg
                    -1 tsp. whole cloves 
                    -Long orange peel, twisted

Heat wine and sugar over medium to med-high heat until just to simmer, add mulling spice (use cheese cloth or a mulling spice ball). Do a taste test after a couple minutes, when it’s the level of spice you want, take them out. The wine should not come above a simmer...add brandy...return to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Note: boiling = bitter

I like Ravenswood Zinfandel for this-something under $10. Enjoy-and don't forget, Zins have high alc content and with the brandy, this will sneak up on you!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stocking your Cellar with wines under $30

This month’s Wine Enthusiast Magazine had a good article I thought was worth posting, since it hits on something dear to my heart-stocking your wine cellar with $30 or less bottles. I decided to post the whole article, instead of just the link, in case the link quits working.

However, I do encourage you to subscribe to a wine magazine, and I personally like WE, so here’s the link to subscribe.

Stocking the Cellar Without Breaking the Bank
Think that cellaring wine is something reserved for the über-wealthy? Think again.
Published on Sep 16, 2010 By Joe Czerwinski

It’s true: Anyone with a lot of disposable income can stuff a wine cellar with first-growth Bordeaux, grand cru Burgundies, cult Cabernets and lauded super Tuscans. And if the goal is to show off for your golfing buddies and business associates, there’s really no substitute. But if the goal is to impress friends and family with good taste and to enjoy the pleasures of aged wines, there’s no need to spend the GDP of a small country. My cellar is living proof.

Sure, when I started collecting wine, I had those vivid fantasies of 30 years later pulling a cobwebbed bottle out of the cellar and blowing the dust off to reveal a legendary Bordeaux chateau’s label. I even indulged in a couple of bottles that fit that description. But as someone who never won the lottery, and toiled in the editorial trenches of several publishing companies before arriving at Wine Enthusiast 11 years ago, I’ve never had the money to fill the cellar the way my friends in the financial sector did.

But I didn’t let that stop me—and you shouldn’t let it stop you. One of the fascinating aspects of collecting wine is the opportunity it gives to observe how different wines evolve over time, and there’s no requirement that these wines be ultraexpensive. Despite a global trend towards more immediately drinkable wines, there are still many wines that benefit from cellaring. Here’s a highly personal selection of affordable ($30 or less) wines whose evolution should provide a decade or so of enjoyment, assuming proper storage. Bordeaux is still the gold standard by which all other collectible wines are measured, but this list should give enough variety to please most palates.

Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux. The first cases of Bordeaux I ever purchased were cru bourgeois: 1986 Château Meyney and Château Chasse-Spleen. For under $150 per case, they were what I could afford on my $18,000 annual salary. Those estates and others like them continue to offer good value in wines that should evolve for 10–15 years from the vintage. Chateaus to look for: Chasse-Spleen, Lanessan, Meyney, Potensac, Poujeaux.

Cru Beaujolais. Avoid Beaujolais nouveau, and focus on wines from the most ageworthy crus: Fleurie, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent. Wines from these regions are often said to pinote, that is, to become like aged Pinot Noir. Since most premier cru Burgundies have become prohibitively expensive, these are worthy alternates. Producers to look for: Brun (Moulin-à-Vent), Château des Jacques (Morgon, MàV), Coudert (Fleurie), Descombes (Morgon), Diochon (MàV), Duboeuf (Fleurie, Morgon, MàV), Fessy (MàV), Lapierre (Morgon). Loire Cabernet Franc. The wines of Bourgueil and Chinon are foremost in this category. While some cuvées are made for early drinking, others can age 10 or more years easily. These take on some wonderfully pungent, tobacco-like notes with age. Producers to look for: Amirault, Baudry, Breton, Couly-Dutheil, Joguet, Raffault.

Côtes du Rhône Villages. Many of these wines are meant to be consumed within the first few years after the vintage, but those from top producers, particularly cuvées incorporating large proportions of Syrah or Mourvèdre, can go 10-plus years. Look also for wines from Rasteau, recently promoted to cru status. Producers to look for: Alary (Cairanne), Escaravailles (Rasteau), La Font du Vent (Signargues), La Soumade (Rasteau), L’Oratoire Saint-Martin (Cairanne), Mourchon (Séguret)

Chianti Classico. Super Tuscans and Brunello di Montalcino may get all the headlines, but for solid examples of Tuscan Sangiovese, there’s no need to pay for the marquee names. Producers to look for: Felsina, Fontodi, Monsanto, Rocca della Macìe, Volpaia Rioja. For wines capable of aging up to 10 years or more from the vintage at a reasonable price, concentrate on wines labeled reserva, although some crianzas will also fare well. Producers to look for: Beronia, Bodegas Palacio, El Coto, Finca Allende, Marqués de Cáceres, Muga, Sierra Cantabria.

South Australian Reds. Aside from most of the mass-produced stuff, almost any South Australian Cabernet, Shiraz or blend thereof should have enough stuffing to last 5–8 years from the vintage. The ones mentioned here might do more than last. Producers (wines) to look for: D’Arenberg (The Cadenzia, The Footbolt), Hazyblur (Cabernet), Jim Barry (The Cover Drive), Longview (Devil’s Elbow), Penfolds (Bin 28, Bin 389, Bin 407), Yalumba (Menzies The Cigar).

Because some common white wine styles don’t age well (e.g., most New World Chardonnays, unoaked Sauvignon Blancs), whites are often overlooked as cellar candidates. Space precludes a comprehensive listing of white wine suggestions, but here are some general categories worth exploring: Hunter Valley Semillon, Australian Riesling, German Riesling, Muscadet, Loire Chenin Blanc and Chablis.

These examples should help balance out your collection of ageworthy wines:

Hunter Semillon. Grown in a warm, subtropical zone, these grapes are picked early, before they’re overly susceptible to rot, yielding wines that are low in alcohol, hard and greenly acidic when young, But they develop toasty, honeyed notes after cellaring. Producers to look for: Brokenwood, Keith Tulloch, Tyrrell’s.

Australian Riesling. Even such large-production wines as Jacob’s Creek can age surprisingly well, trading bracing acidity for hints of honey and marmalade while remaining refreshingly dry. Producers to look for: D’Arenberg, Frankland Estate, Jacob’s Creek (especially Reserve and Steingarten), Jim Barry, Kilikanoon, Knappstein, Koonowla, Pauletts, Penfolds, Peter Lehmann, Pewsey Vale, Pikes, Reilly’s.

German Riesling. Almost any well made kabinett should be able to go 10 years, and they and even many spätlese still come in under $30. Look for the intense floral notes and sweetness of youth to give way, revealing greater underlying minerality over time. Producers to look for: Dr. Loosen, Joannishof, Mosbacher, St. Urbans-Hof, Schäfer-Fröhlich

Muscadet. The quintessential light, dry oyster wine can age surprisingly well, kept vibrant by its acidity and bolstered in the midpalate by lees contact. Producers to look for: Domaine de la Pepière, Domaine de l’Ecu, Louvetrie, Luneau-Papin.

Loire Chenin Blanc. Several of the Loire’s Chenin Blanc appellations yield wines that can sometimes seem immortal. Huet’s Vouvrays are perhaps most notable in that regard, but don’t overlook Savennières. Producers to look for: Baumard (Savennières), Moncontour (Vouvray), Chidaine (Vouvray), Closel (Savennières), Huet (Vouvray), Pinon (Vouvray).

Chablis. Although most villages-level Chablis is meant to drink young, it’s still possible to find premier cru Chablis for under $30. These will give you more honeyed ripeness in time, along with more pronounced mineral notes—a win-win. Producers to look for: Brocard, Christian Moreau, Droin, Fevre, La Chablisienne.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Lone Sangiovese kicks the Little Penguin's arse

At this weekend’s wine club event we had a “Chianti and More: Sangiovese from anywhere” theme. We had two that were notable- the 2007 Ledson Sangiovese and the 2007 Lone Canary Sangiovese, which was from Washington state. I think the Lone Canary might’ve been the first Washington Sangiovese I’ve ever had and it was really good-nice and fruity with some dried cherry notes, complex with a little bit of cedar spice. And…here’s the surprising thing…. The label has an animal – a bird even – on it!

From their website:

Our logo (affectionately known as Clooney) is an artistic rendering of Washington's state bird, the American Goldfinch, or Wild Canary. Forging a lone and exciting path using Washington's exemplary fruit, we have chosen to stand apart from the flock through unique artistic expression in our wines.

With few exceptions (artist series wines, Duckhorn, etc) very few wines with animals on the labels are really good, so it was a pleasant treat all around – a Sangiovese from Washington AND a great wine with an animal on it! Thanks for bringing it, NG!

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm corking mad, I tell ya

(me scrambling to top of my Wine Soapbox)

When did corkage fees become a literal fee for uncorking the wine? Aren’t I also supposed to get wine service as well? You know, where they open the bottle for you, offer to decant it, keep the glass at just the right amount full, where you have some room for the wine to breathe in the glass……where you can swish, take a sip, then a few minutes later your sip was refilled by your server? Why is there no happy medium between me paying a 250% markup on a bottle and having to flag down the waiter to open the bottle or get a glass? Why am I paying $25 for opening my own bottle? Should I just keep in my purse, in a brown paper bag and take swigs out when you aren’t looking?

I mean really. If you’re charging me a corkage fee, give me WINE SERVICE too! I'll not only top better, but I'll even share my wine with you!

(off my Wine Soapbox)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lush "Floresto" Cream Sauce and White Rioja

Sorry for the absence, things have been busy…but I have a gift- a recipe for you!

I had one of those fun cooking moments where I used what was available in the house-along with some herbs from the Lush Herb Garden-to mesh a couple recipes together and it was really good. It’s a combination of a Florentine, pesto sauce (no nuts), and alfredo sauce, so I’m calling it The Lush "Floresto" Cream Sauce…..

Melt in a sauce pan:
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tbs garlic
Then mix in:
  • ¾ c heavy cream
  • ¼ c skim milk until warm.
  • Slowly add 1 c shredded parmesan cheese and continue stirring until fully melted. (good quality parm and constant stirring is the key)
Mix in a chopper / food processor:
  • 1 ½ c baby spinach
  • ¼ c fresh basil
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

Slowly add the spinach / basil mixture to the cream sauce, toss with pasta (we used mini penne pasta) and other ingredients if you desire (we put in some chicken and mushrooms that was sautéed with light blackening seasonings, which was fabulous) and top with more parm cheese. For our wine pairing, we had the 2007 Marques De Caceres White Rioja-light, crisp, perfect with the cream sauce. (for other wine pairings, I'd recommend something like a California Sauv Blanc or white Bordeaux.) It was delish!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Aerating technology

Wine “aerators” have become pretty popular recently. We don’t own one yet, and here’s why.
A) We already have 3 decanters, among a host of other wine related accessories-do we really need any more wine stuff?
B) I’m not entirely sold on them, not only on the price point, but I also wonder if something in the wine’s complexity is lost through a rapid process.

Sometimes technology is cool but sometimes it’s a good thing to keep with tradition and I don’t know where I stand on this one. I mean, even if we owned a Vinturi or whatever item we might pick up, we wouldn’t use it on an old Bordeaux no matter what, as too much air on an older wine can be a bad thing. They also say don’t decant Burgundies.....

Going along with that train of thought, wouldn’t it be feasible that so much air delivered so fast could deplete the delicacies and “hints of this and that” flavors that wines have? Or strip them of their details and nuances? True, some of the aerators are more delicate with the wine than others, and its not like they are meant for ALL wines, but some also are the equivalent of me taking a straw and blowing bubbles into the bottle. (well, minus the saliva ;)

But then again, I wonder, does it even matter how the air is delivered? Especially with younger heartier wines? It got me thinking.....if we decanted half the bottle in a traditional decanter, closed up the bottle, waited an hour, opened the rest of the bottle and poured it through one of those quick aerators, I wonder if we could tell the difference. (Yes, I know, the wine in the bottle was exposed to some air, so its not perfect but its not as much air exposure as going through and sitting in the decanter, so there might be some basis for comparison.)

What’s your guesses? Does it make a difference? Will technology win or will tradition? Post your thoughts and stay tuned, I will try to enlist the help of the Luces and D’s on this mission and maybe we’ll do a 3 way comparison of different aerators!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Handley Cellars Pinot Noir

As you might know, I prefer my Pinot Noirs to be fuller bodied, (for a pinot) with darker fruit flavors, more on the dark cherry side than the bright strawberry side, with a bit of warm flavors, like cinnamon or clove. As noted in my other posts, typically Monterey County Pinot Noirs (central coast of California) are my go-to, however, the 2006 Handley Cellars Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley was a recent Gold Medal Wine Club shipment and it totally fits the bill. Its from Mendocino County, which is north of Sonoma County and winery direct (which you actually can’t buy it at the winery anymore) is $30 and its worth it – its complex, warm and rich fruits, with a long finish, its really a perfect late spring/early summer red. However, its especially worth the $17/bottle that I can get it for through GMWC because I’m a dual-series member. As a non-member, the average person can get it for $22/bottle, so if you read my pinot reviews and think we like the same thing, head to their website and order some!

(if you think you might join Gold Medal Wine Club because of me, shoot me an email and I’ll send you a referral link)


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tips for the Lush Herb Garden?

As you know, I'm certainly not a chef, but I do like to cook. One of the things I like the flavor of, particularly with lamb or a savory potato dish, is rosemary. But I really hate, as does Mr. Lush, how its like dried hard grass seed. Well recently, I saw a recipe where someone used fresh rosemary to drizzle olive oil on something and I thought perfect! A way to get the rosemary flavor without the rosemary "seed" effect.
To get some readily available fresh rosemary, as well as other herbs, I thought I'd get an herb garden going this summer......and here it is, about 3 weeks in:

As you can see (clockwise), I've got some rosemary, oregano, thyme and basil, which are some of my commonly used herbs. Its coming along nicely, but I admit, this is only my second attempt at an herb garden and I'm a little lost as to when and how to dry the herbs. I've read some tips online and think I have a good idea, but I thought I'd reach out and ask if anyone else has any tips on when/how to best utilize this herb garden?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wines for Mother Earth

As some of you might know, I have a wine club –it's “byo” style and we try to balance some learning with some wine tasting and food pairing with a good solid dose of fun. This month, in celebration of Earth Day, our theme was “Wines for Mother Earth”. And since today is Earth Day, I thought I’d post some our favorite wines from that meeting. (I know, me and like every other wine blogger…. ;) According to the people who brought the wines, all of these are Earth Friendly (ie sustainable, organic, bio-dynamic or at least “uses many green practices”).  
  • 2007 Benzinger Signature Chardonnay-creamy/oakey, despite the description of “made like a French Chardonnay”. We liked it.
  • 2007 Robert Sinsky Pinot Noir-We like the Sinsky stuff. Its consistently good, the Pinot is no exception.
  • 2005 McIntyre Pinot Noir-this is what we brought, its from Taste of Montery Wine Club. As noted in a post from last yr, we love our Monterey County Pinots and this one was excellent, as usual. Smokey, dark fruit, long finish. Yum-yum. This winery will be among the first to be certified sustainable, according to the website.
  • 2007 Quivera Grenache/Zinfandel blend- Good, deep fruit, although needs a bit of air. Hint: this would be an excellent thing to bring should you get invited to a Lush BBQ this summer.
  • 2006 Honig Cab Sauv: I got the opportunity to meet Michael Honi at a winemaker dinner, nice guy and we have a bottle of this that’s signed in our wine fridge. The cab is very approachable, and doesn’t need food. That being said, its also probably not the wine to drink with a big juicy strip steak or ribeye.
Cheers and make sure to recycle your wine bottles, either through a recycling program, or post them on craigslist and see if someone makes cheeseplates or art with them and could use them for their business. What better than recycling AND helping stimulate our economy??

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Selective Tolerances?

There was this guy I knew back in the day who could drink an entire bottle of Jack and would still be standing, but give him 4 or 5 beers and he all the sudden had the tolerance of a 90 lb girl. I didn't get it and he explained it as he drinks Jack all the time and has a higher tolerance for it, but doesn't drink beer that often. I never really bought into the whole “selective tolerance” thing-you'd think alcohol is alcohol and the strength (%alcohol by volume) is the only varying factor, right? But then again since I’m an equal opportunity drinker, I typically have social occasions/dinners/outings where certain drinks are more appropriate than others so I guess whatever tolerance I have is somewhat even-spread. (like we bowl on Tuesdays. While the bowling alley does serve wine, there’s something about the bowling experience that fits with a bottle of beer, whereas a nice steakhouse calls for a nice bottle of wine, that kind of thing) But still, there’s times I feel like if I haven’t had beers in a while I might be lightheaded after just a few, or if its been a bit since I had vodka one good martini might do the same, yet wine might not affect me the same way.

Is it my imagination? Am I just used to drinking wine? It seems like a half bottle of 13.5% wine should "do more" than a few 5% beers, or at least equal? So, I wonder, taking into account the different alcohol percentages, DO people have “selective tolerances”?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Sauvignon Blanc Heaven

Let me introduce you to my favorite Sauvignon Blanc, the 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Horse Heaven. I bought it on a whim for a party, it was just under $12 at Sam’s Club, noted a “one time buy”. Typically the “one time buy” at Sam’s Club means they negotiated a good deal, bought a lot of it, and that’s all they’ll carry. Once its sold out, its sold out. (this particular one is sold on the winery website for about $16)

Now, as you might know, I’m not typically a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, particularly New Zealand Sauv Blanc-too grassy, too grapefruity, too tart pineappley, and honestly, anything that’s frequently described as having a “cat-piss” aroma is NOT a good thing. That’s my personal preference, and I know New Zealand Sauv Blanc has its following, its just not our thing. However, there have been a few Sauv Blancs I’ve discovered through Gold Medal Wine Club that I’ve liked, so I thought I’d buy it. At the very least, it will be a non-Chardonnay option for my party guests. To my surprise, I not only find it “ok” I actually really like it-and so does Mr. Lush. A LOT. Its fruity, a bit dry with a soft mouthfeel, vs a tart crisp one-much more “white Bordeaux” style, although it is 100% Sauv Blanc. Its really easy drinking, light, a great summer wine that will probably appeal to a large variety of palates.

Of course, upon researching it for this blog post, I find out why its different-21% of it is barrel fermented in older French Oak (most Sauvignon Blancs are totally fermented in stainless steel). Now, this doesn’t mean its “oakey”; French Oak is a mild oak and the use of the older French Oak would just barely soften it, which it has. To date, I have bought every bottle at 3 different Sam’s Club, some for me, and some for Lucy, who also likes it. I also just found out its rated a 90 by Wine Spectator, so don’t just take my word for it-hopefully you can score yourself a bottle!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring grillin red: Michel Gassier Nostre Pais Costieres de Nimes

Last week, Mr. Lush grilled some “beer up the butt” chicken and we had Mrs. Luce over to keep her company in Mr. Luce’s absence. If you’ve never had beer up the butt chicken, the “set up” is exactly as it sounds. They say you can just use the beer’s steam to season and what not, but we prefer to season and inject a bit, in addition to putting some spices in the beer itself. For these particular chickens, we rubbed one with a generic “chicken” seasoning and one with a “peppery mustard” seasoning. Now, normally I’m not a huge fan of mustard, but I thought I’d try this one out, as I’m really liking mustard on grilled meat lately.

For the wine, we served the 2007 Michel Gassier Nostre Pais Costieres de Nimes, rated a 90 from Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate: From the well-known Chateau de Nages, this estate, one of the brilliant Philippe Cambie’s clients, is a selection of the best old vine sites. Aged in equal parts oak barrels and tank, and bottled unfiltered, this limited cuvee is a blend of five separate grapes (Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Syrah). A beautiful inky/ruby/purple color is accompanied by notes of truffles, licorice, damp earth, blackberries, and blue fruits. The wine possesses a long, rich, full-bodied texture, sweet tannin, vibrant acids, and an overall impression of opulence. It will drink well for 6-8 years. (RP) and Dark and toasty, but pure and racy, with raspberry ganache and blackberry fruit supported by licorice, spice and graphite notes. Nice grip frames the finish. Drink now through 2010. 800 cases made. –JM

It was a really nice "weekday" wine with just a little "earthy" overtones, not too overpowering or big....and it went GREAT with the mustardy rub on the chicken. Its about $16-17, so a great choice for your spring grilling!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Aging NV

As you might have read in previous posts, we like both sake and sparkling with sushi, but typically when we get sushi at home we have bubbly with it. One of our go-to's is Roederer Estate NV Brut. Its a cuvee, with the current notes citing a 60% Chardonnay / 40% Pinot blend. Typically it can be found at Sams Club for around $16, although you can also find it at most wine shops for around $21-23. I happened to luck out and run across 4 bottles on a closeout deal at Sams Club for $9.91, so that was choice last night. Its really a great deal for $16; crisp, a bit fruity, but nothing close to sweet, not too yeasty, overall a nice pairing with sushi.

A few months ago I happen to run across that deal, as well as some Veuve Clicquot for under $30 (normally $45+), I found myself wondering how long NV (non vintage**) bubbly should be kept, particularly ones from California. Typically NV Champagne (from France) can be kept for many years, although do be careful, since its non vintage you might forget which NV bottle you bought in 2005 and which you bought in 2010. So, should you be wondering as well, I'll share my results with you.

After a bit of research, which of course included a ton of caveats that aging potential is based on quality (duh), I found a safe estimate is a California NV sparkling should be drank within 2-3 yrs from the release date and Franch NV Champagne could be 5-10 yrs (or longer). I'm assuming my Sams Club was clearancing out stuff they got last year, so being extra careful, lets say the bottle we drank yesterday was officially released in late 2008. I'll need to drink my Cali bubbly by the end of this year to mid next year and the VC by 2015.

Now, the Lush Wine Cellar isn't big enough to store so much that I would worry about being able to drink our stock of bubbly within a year, muchless 5 years, however, it does relax my mind that I don't need to unload (or drink) the good bubbly deals. Because really, who doesn't LOVE a good deal and who doesn't HATE opening a bottle that's past its prime??

**Non-vintage: typically wineries show the year in which most of the grapes were grown on the bottle; ie a 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon means the grapes were grown during the 2005 growing season.  A "non-vintage" wine is one where the grapes might be from 2 or more years; often sparkling wine makers will blend aging wine with newer wine to have a consistent-tasting product.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Lush Margarita

I do love a good margarita. Of course, a good tequila is a must but so is a good, not too sugary, easy mix. So, here’s my favorite quick margarita recipe, which comes in at less calories than and also isn’t quite as sugary as the premade margartia mixes.  
  • 1 can frozen Limemade (I use Minutemaid)
  • ½ can frozen “Five Alive”
  • 3-4 fresh limes
Take both concentrate mixes, put in 48 oz pitcher. Fill pitcher up with water. Juice 2 of the limes into the pitcher and use the 3rd for garnishing, or add it as well if you like your mix a little more tart.

That’s it, that’s your mix. Now, it seems like everytime I bring up margaritas, I get reminded of the 900 calories they have in them….good news, that’s just not the case with this one. The pitcher itself has 1050 calories, so your actual calorie count per margarita will differ based on how many margaritas you make from the pitcher, and how much liquor you put in there.

I take a pint glass, salt my rim, fill up with ice, and add in 2 oz-ish of tequila (silver or anejo) and 1 oz-ish Cointreau. (you can use Grand Marnier as well) I personally add liquor to the glass and top off with the mix, so if for some reason we don't finish the pitcher I'm not wasting good tequila. We use pint glasses and usually make 5. That’s about around 250 calories, give or take. So, that’s less than 500 calories for a pint size margarita.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Back from blogging with a Big Cab

Here’s the problem with a break from blogging….I think of things all the time to blog about, but then I ask myself: “Do I really want my big post back to be about that?” And the answer is often no…it might not be a wine topic, or its too relevant to a certain person (ie I don’t want that person to read it and think I’m talking about them) so I don’t blog. Its silly really, but nonetheless has been responsible for the past 3-4 weeks of blogging absence. (before that I was busy, or just forgot about blogging, but I’ve been unemployed for about 6 weeks now, so I certainly had time)

So what is my “big post back” about? The wine we had on our anniversary! We went to Dierdorf & Hart’s and brought a wine from recent Gold Medal Wine Club Platinum shipment: the 2004 Cobblestone Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Here’s what the winery says: “….represents the best of the best from the winery’s estate vineyard on Napa Valley’s Atlas Peak. As the Cabernet matured, winemaker Sam Baxter set aside what he considered the finest barrels and from that juice he crafted this luscious, Reserve Cabernet, possessing incredible structure and showcasing the exceptional characteristics of the vintage. Cobblestone’s 2004 Reserve Cabernet is bursting with intense black fruit, spice, and minerality, beautifully balanced and enhanced by the winery’s extended barrel aging program. Wine Enthusiast awarded this Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 91 Points: “This Cab is quite soft and dry, and the fruit is beginning to show development. It’s changing from fresh blackberries and cherries to dried fruits and currants, with a dusty quality. The oak brings in sweetly welcome notes." Try pairing Cobblestone’s 2004 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon with braised beef short ribs, grilled lamb chops, and chicken breast stuffed with Asiago cheese.”

Here’s our thoughts- needed some air- Mr. Lush in fact said it was so oakey it reminded him of Silver Oak (not such a bad thing!) so the fact they had to decant it to get the cork out ended up being a good thing. (our waitress had a snafu with opening it….but I won’t ruin the story about the good wine with the story about the bad wine service) After about 45 mins of decanting, it still needed food. Luckily, we were at a steak house, so we had food available! I had the filet and Mr. Lush had the strip steak, both cooked rare. (ok, mine was very rare) The wine was amazing with the steak. Full bodied, oakey (aged 24 months in 95% new french oak, so that makes sense), dark fruit, a little bit of cedar, but not a ton. It was really wonderful with the steaks, a bit better with the strip, as it had more marbling, but it was great with both. It took about 1 ½ hrs before we felt like we could enjoy it without food, but really, a good big cab is supposed to need food, so we aren’t going to complain!

So, I’m back. I’ve got a couple of post ideas and I’m going to start randomly pre-posting as I think of them, so if my post happens to mirror some incident, please ignore it. Cheers and talk to you soon!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Indian Wells Riesling

Last night we had our super easy Spicy Shrimp Pasta with of course, a Riesling. Rieslings pair so well with the spicy. Often we’ve been having the Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling, which is fine, but a few weeks ago the Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Riesling was on sale for about a buck more than the regular Riesling.

For those of you that don’t know, Chateau Ste. Michelle makes a wide variety of wines; from value ($10-ish) to artist series ($55-65), and the Indian Wells is a step above the Columbia Valley (the lowest level). According to the website: Grapes are sourced from a collection of warm-climate vineyards that range from the Wahluke Slope to Cold Creek Vineyard, and include the namesake Indian Wells Vineyard. The resulting wines are rich, round, and full-bodied.

Well the Indian Wells Riesling was so good. Fruity, hint of sweet to balance out the spicy pasta, but a bit lighter than the Columbia Valley and a smidge drier. I really liked it. Excellent value at $9.99, which is what we paid for it, although the website sells it for $15.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Squeaky Clean Decanters

Don’t you hate it when you have a nice decanter but no matter what it seems to have some sort of film, from the dried wine and/or hard water? Or maybe you’re not all that good about rinsing them out immediately and wine has dried and the “film” is somewhat mildew-esque; not officially mildew, just looks like more than water spots.... What do you do? Well, I’m not a huge fan of those decanter brushes or beads or whatever fad some wine mag is trying to sell me ….and vinegar never works for me. So, I turned to good ole bleach and it works well for me. Here’s what I do to get my decanter squeaky clean: 
  • Take about 1/8c of bleach, swirl it around the bottom for a minute
  • Fill decanter with hot water
  • Let sit for 15-30 minutes
  • Rinse at least 4-5 times
  • When the decanter no longer smells of bleach, rinse once more.
  • Wait until its TOTALLY dry, and use!

 (In case you're wondering, the excess rinsing and drying is to ensure your wine is bleach free!)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Our first "digi-novel"

Over Christmas break Mr. Lush and I read Level 26, a “digi-novel”. What's a digi-novel? Well, in a digi novel you log online every 20-30 pages or so to see a clip/scene that corresponds to the book. (you're given a code at the end of every few chapters to enter) The online scenes aren’t mandatory to understand the book, it just sort of adds something to it. The book itself is about the worst of the worst killer (a level 26 killer), and his sick twisted ways of getting one former FBI agent back to work on the case. (You can see more on the website itself) The book is by the creator of CSI and thus has a little mix of forensic evidence, although not as much as you'd expect basd on the shows. It was good and slightly disturbing, but not the kind of disturbing where you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. There’s going to be 2 more books-one coming out this year and one coming out next, so it’s evidently done well in sales.

All in all, I liked the book and found the “digi-novel” aspect to be, well, a novel idea. Some of the scenes were good, and some were a bit useless (like going online to read a text message).  It does take away from the reader’s imagination because you’re given an image to adhere to, versus letting your mind create one based soley on the author’s words. But of course, it does add a little something to it as well and helps enhance the overall feel of the book, and gives you a break in reading to see a scene. Overall, I expect there to be more digi-novels in general; it seems like the kind of thing that will catch on - mixing media together - at least for a little while. We’ll see.