Saturday, March 5, 2016

Kistler Durell Vineyard Chardonnay

Sonoma Coast
No. 09774

So - I'm at it again. It is not another "budget" wine being reviewed here. It is another pick from my late Uncle's cellar. This one I brought home for my dear friend & walking partner ("M") who is a Chardonnay Freak like me. :)

Kistler is never a disappointment, but what is so interesting about this particular bottle (& indeed it is a particular bottle, as it is numbered) is that it's drinkability supposedly expired in 2013. I am very happy to report that it's flavor continues to be absolutely full-bodied-delicious with butter & toast nuances mingled with lemon & beautiful minerality - my favorite attribute.

M always puts out an AMAZING spread in seconds flat & this night was no exception. My personal opinion is that she should be a chef instead of a Real Estate mogul. LOL. She presents delicious & colorful presentations - very creative & tasty. She was concerned about what we should have to accompany our Kistler, & yet, as I told her, Kistler just IS. It is amazing on its own & can be even more enjoyable with food. And it was. Especially with the thyme chevre she served. It alone was the perfect accompaniment.

Spent the day today with one of my two art student college children. One of her charcoal portraits was chosen to hang in the campus Art Gallery. She happened to mention it to me only in passing as we returned from getting some groceries. She is so silly. She just doesn't understand how very proud I am of her & how I love to see her work, though I do tell her often. I try to tell all three of my children how much their hard work & determination mean to me. We do seem to get a lot of flack about our older two children being in Art schools & it really gets very tiring. I want them to choose paths that give them joy & allow them to express themselves creatively. I think that being able to express one's creativity is the ultimate  key to open doors, even if the majority of the world doesn't agree. I know only too well how the rest of one's abilities suffer, falter & can ultimately extinguish altogether if the creative fire within is not allowed to flourish.

The stones from my enemies
These wounds will mend
But I cannot survive
The roses from my friends

When the last word has been spoken
And we've bared witness to the final setting sun
All that shall remain is a token
Of what we've said and done

Roses from My Friend
--Ben Harper
(Just an aside, I am in love with Ben Harper)

BTW - If you're looking for one heck of a Book Ride, read Paul Hawkins "The Girl on the Train". I took it out of the library Friday night after work & I finished it in 24 hours. COULD NOT put it down!

$80 - $107/750 ml. bottle with $92 being the average current going rate if you can find it
9.5 out of 10
14.1% alc. by vol.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin

Lodi Zinfandel
Manteca, CA

The opposite of my last post, this wine is definitely budget material. Wine Enthusiast supposedly gave this a 90 point review for its flavor versus price. I have to agree based on what I paid locally for this wine. It had dark fruit flavors with a hint of smoke, oak & vanilla. Pretty good on its own, I did enjoy it more added to a Paleo-friendly stew I made & with the meal (recipe follows below).


I went North to Vermont this weekend with my youngest, as if -12 degrees predicted for my hometown wasn't cold enough. On Saturday night, with the wind chill, we reached -35 degrees. A new record was set. It was a nice weekend spent indoors reading books & playing board games & watching movies & finishing a challenging puzzle that was begun last year!!! All with breath-taking mountain views.

Driving home today, we plugged in my daughter's I-pod Nano & she chose the musical format. There was a lot of Cold Play during our 2-1/2 hour journey as she knows I am a Chris Martin fan. We had a nice time together & now we are watching the Grammy's!

Honey you are a rock
Upon which I stand
And I came here to talk
I hope you understand 
Green eyes, yeah the spotlight, shines upon you
And how could, anybody, deny you
I came here with a load

And it feels so much lighter now I met you

Green Eyes, Cold Play

*Side note: my all-time favorite line I think: "I came here with a load and it feels so much lighter now I met you".

Paleo-Friendly Chicken & Cauliflower Stew (adapted from Robb Wolf's the Paleo Solution)

3 T Olive Oil
2-1/2 lbs. Chicken Breasts (boneless) or Thighs
2 heads of Cauliflower, chopped
32 oz. Crushed Tomatoes (San Marzano are the best!)
1 or 2 Red Peppers, chopped
3 t Cumin
3 t Thyme
1-1/2 t Garlic Powder
1/2 c Red wine or to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet or big soup pot. Add chicken & brown on all sides. Add chopped Cauliflower & then add all remaining ingredients & reduce heat to low & simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until everything is tender. Serve with an old vine zin!

8.0 out of 10.0
14.5% alc. by vol.
$9/750 ml. bottle locally, but $12.99 on various internet wine stores

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Pahlmeyer 2007

Pahlmeyer 2007
Napa Valley Red Wine

Wow. I can't believe it's been over two years since I've posted here. And I apologize that the wine I am about to review is not at all a budget one.

I've just spent a wonderful weekend with my aunt, reminding me of the ultimate importance of just being with family, and I was therefore inspired to write again. She and I walked at the awesome Essex County South Mountain Recreation Complex in Short Hills, NJ, went to Giorgio's Ristorante in South Orange, and saw the really moving, emotionally-wrought, at times raw, "Motherhood Out Loud" play put on by interACT Theatre Productions, which really hit home for me. With virtually no props, this play was amazing. There was a line toward the end that really struck me and I can't recall it verbatim now. But it had to do with your child thinking you're a pain in the ass because you are always right there checking and double-checking that they are on the right path and yet you see it as just caring so much for the life you brought into this world, knowing it can be taken out of this world at any time. You were there as they took their first breath and you want so much to be sure they keep on breathing, well beyond the baby years. If you have not seen this production, go see it if it comes to a town near you. 

So, we went to Giorgio's Ristorante and the food was fantastic and the atmosphere likewise, peaceful, calmly-lit with soothing music playing as we gazed out the window by our table to the large, white-light lit tree in front. It was BYOB. My aunt gave me free reign to choose whatever wine I wanted from my late uncle's wine cellar to bring to dinner. Her only wish was this it be red as she was having veal. With hundreds of bottles to choose from, it was overwhelming for me to try to decide. She eventually came downstairs to check on me because I was taking so long! I ultimately chose a Pahlmeyer proprietary red because my uncle had many bottles and vintages of this label. I figured it must be good for him to have stockpiled so many.

This wonderful wine was big on heated vanilla, toasted oak and dark berry flavors that were lush and heavy bodied. The flavor was enunciated when I ate my capellini with salmon, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and portabella mushrooms. I savored the flavor for two days as we only ate half of our dinners, saving the remainder for lunch the next day. We each had two small glasses with dinner and I brought the rest of the bottle home to revel in today. After having been opened last night, I felt the taste the next day was even more flavorful without any added food.

After I got home, I looked up the recommended drinking period of this vintage and found it is from 2012 through 2032! Had I known, I would have grabbed a 2005 or 2003 which my uncle had several of. Those vintages are up sooner. The vintage I chose will continue to just taste better and better with each passing year. So if you can splurge and get your hands on a bottle, grab it and cellar it for the next decade. It won't disappoint whenever you choose to enjoy it.

For the crown you've placed upon my head feels too heavy now
and I don't know what to say to you but I'll smile anyhow
and all the time I'm thinking, thinking

I want to be a hunter again
want to see the world alone again
to take a chance on life again
so let me go. 


9.0 out of 10 (with 10 being "del-ish")
15.2% alc. by vol.
$160/750 ml. (YIKES!)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Clos du Bois de Menge Gigondas

Red Wine 
Southern Rhone of France

I bought this to give a French red yet another go. It was also given a "90" rating by I-don't-remember-who. I would not agree with the 90 rating unless drinking it with the Castello Sage Blue Brie I eventually shared it with. With the cheese, it was really, really flavorful & vice versa. Alone, it was good but I was disappointed with the "eh" finish. I found the wine bordered more on the herbal side than a berry side of flavor, which I tend to prefer in as much as it is a not-so-typical wine flavor. It also had a touch of minerality - another preferred characteristic of wine for me. I grilled organic turkey burgers with organic fire-roasted tomatoes, sea salt & pepper, & crumbled Saga Blue Brie cheese. Again, with the burgers, the wine was great. I didn't notice the weaker finish when had with the cheese alone or with the burgers. 

I think a lot about the "right attitude" and how it can (or can't) affect one's life. Take, for instance, the person who is given a poor health diagnosis. You hear of people who pack it in with such a diagnosis & you hear of people who persevere with a positive attitude. Yet some of those with the "I will beat this" attitude don't end up making it. I've always wondered what happened there. Lately I have been thinking about this in my own life. I feel like I've been down more than I've been up. Always on the brink of finally making it. Not making it big, mind you - just being able to provide for our needs without stressing so much. The truth is, if I am being honest with myself, behind my attempts to have faith & believe that everything is going to work out, there is actually doubt that it ever really will. And I sit & contemplate, is that the real problem here? As much as I try my best to believe & trust & have faith, down deep I just don't have enough of it to make it fly?

I read a book last year by Don Miguel Ruiz called "The Four Agreements". Don is a surgeon turned Shaman (who returned to his familial roots by becoming a Shaman - Toltec). I read his little book front to back & vowed to implement it in my life. The basic premises of the Four Agreements are as follows:

Always be impeccable with your words
Don't take things personally
Do not assume anything
Always do your best

What struck me most is that the first (3) things I felt I am in definite need of conquering. And the 4th also to a certain degree. Let me tell you, it is HARD to follow these (4) agreements daily. I can't help but feel if I can make it through a week of following all four, I should be given a PhD. Truly. I don't think I've made it through just (1) day mastering all (4).

I find myself, like yesterday when I was cut off by a Subaru Sedan (from my own State nonetheless), saying or thinking bad things. I was in the left lane of a main road coming out of a stop light. I know, from living here for a long time, that the right lane merges into the left a short distance later. I always stay in the left lane & I try to give anyone in the right the benefit of the doubt of possibly not knowing the area (i.e., out of Staters especially) & therefore, let them in. Yesterday, this IDIOT in the Subaru ran right up alongside me as the lane was ending. There was NO ONE behind me. Rather than back off & move behind me, he moved up right along side me when it was now (1) lane only. He was forcing me over to the middle line of the road. I backed off & let him in. But I called him an as*hole out loud in my car. I then proceeded to tell myself (out loud in a super kind voice) that I wasn't being "impeccable with my words". AND, what's worse, upon deeper introspection, was that I found I was assuming this guy just wanted to dominate the situation & felt some sort of power in forcing me to back off. These were the thoughts actually controlling my mind for the next 10 minutes home until I took a left & was no longer following the idiot. For a moment, it was totally scary as I found a rage building in me that wanted to run him off the road! Whoa! What is up with THAT??????

Whenever I look back
On the best days of my life
I think I saw them all on TV
I am so homesick now for
Someone that I never knew
I am so homesick for
Someplace I will never be

Time Won't Let Me Go, The Bravery

8.0 out of 10
13.5% alc. by vol.
$18/750 ml. bottle

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cupido Takes on Terrilogio

Toscana, Sensi family

8.5 out of 10
$9.99 / 750 ml. bottle
13% alc. by vol.

Sangiovese (85%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), Merlot Blend (5%)

7.5% out of 10
$12.99/750 ml. bottle
12.5% alc. by bol.

I previously reviewed the 2004 Terrilogio. There is a difference. The 2004 was better. The 2009 was a bit watery in flavor. This is supposed to be a "Supertuscan" which, I would think, would come with a super flavor. Not so. My point here is that the $3 less Cupido Toscana Sangiovese was better.

There was a slight smokiness & greater lasting finish with the Cupido. The Terrilogio was weaker in flavor & had less of a finish. The Cupido tasted better alone & with food. We had the Cupido with home-made pizza & the Terrilogio with turkey meatball grinders - similar spices & tomato sauces in each meal, but better quality of taste from Cupido. Terrilogio was better with food, but not alone. The Cupido could stand up alone.

I've had too much to drink today. It's been a weird, sad day & I came home from church thirsty & chugged a couple of Sam Adam's Octoberfest beers, one of the few beers I truly like. This had a greater impact on me due to the fact that I had no water or any other liquid upon awakening today.

I went to church with my youngest & we said goodbye to our minister of six years who is leaving. It was an hour & a half long service which culminated in an "Order for Godspeed & Farewell" ceremony, which was beautiful. I couldn't stop crying. I am happy for his future endeavors, but sad that he is actually leaving the church ministry. He is going to work for hospice, which I think he will be great for. But he is young, & was so great for our kids at church.

In addition, last week we had a church "head" come to speak who spoke of decreasing church attendance in the United States since the 1950's. The numbers were depressing. He spoke of it as if it weren't such a bad thing because people were speaking of feeling "spiritual", just not religious. This to me doesn't really make me feel better.

I see the difference in the people around me & especially in my children's lives. When I was in college, I would go with my Catholic friends to mass because it was the only church on campus. I am Protestant. I still got something out of just being in the building. My eldest who left for college two weeks ago I am pretty sure will not attend any religious services. I brought her up in the church & had her confirmed, but she never held onto any faith other than there is a darker side to this life we live. I must have failed somewhere in spite of my perseverance. So now I pray for her to find faith on her own. But how can I blame her when she was picked on in middle school, & also picked on in church by the middle school kids there (who were from a different town than the one she went to school in)? It is no wonder just "being in the building" didn't bring her comfort. In addition, most of her friends don't attend church, or never did, & some are even from Atheist families. Where the heck is the Hope in that?

I have been thinking today of her, she is over 15 hours away & not so city-smart. And I have been thinking of our minister who I will miss. And I have been thinking of how I have been unable to do the things I always wanted to do for my children & always thought I'd be able to do by now. I have worked hard since I was 16. But I don't have a lot to show for it.  It has just all culminated into one big "feeling sorry for oneself" day. I do know that things could always be worse & that is what I think of MOST of the time, but sometimes life can just get you down in spite of it all.

At some point in the midst of my "sorrows", my girlfriend contacted me to come over. She is missing her son who is also away at college. He is her only child. She was feeling out of sorts herself today. So we decided to visit & just be out of sorts together. Unfortunately, she also took out a bottle of cab & it went down too easy on a weird day. But sometimes, it just feels good to wallow together before moving on. We got a little hammered & felt bad for each other & laughed & moved on. Now I feel better. :)

For Jess:
House is run down
In need of repair
Days go by
Years do too
But pumpkins adorn the front stairs
Every October
To be sure
One for each girl
Whether they are here, or away

Friday, September 6, 2013

Primal Roots

Red Blend (Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel) 

Maria - This post is for you. Because I'm tired & I can't motivate myself to write. Because I'm worried about my "Big Trip" coming up next week to take my first born off to her new life. Because I'm emotional about EVERYTHING. Because I'm downtrodden. Because I have to be at work at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday to prepare for my "time off" next week while still making my youngest daughter's soccer game. Because I'm uncertain. Because I never got to go to my favorite escape this summer overlooking the Sound. Because I still hope to go before it turns too cold - I long to look over the ocean, & read, & kayak.

So, the joke is that this wine has been kicking around since May. My husband received it as a gift with another slightly more expensive wine. He kept telling me we could not open either unless I made a "special meal", which I never got around to having the time or means for this summer. He finally opened the other more expensive wine on his own with an unworthy meal of something the likes of hot dogs! I did not have a glass. He drank a glass or two then left it on the counter during the most humid, hot week of the year. I placed it in the fridge, he went away to "football camp" & I enjoyed a thawed glass one evening on my own, but never reviewed it. Though I did enjoy it, I didn't recall anything specific enough to sit down & write about.

This wine, Primal Roots, sat around all summer. It was finally opened by me last week with my husband's permission. After it not being opened all summer, waiting for an extremely "special meal" per my husband's directions, I finally ran across it in a liquor store. It was $8.99. I went home & stated that we were not going to be saving this wine for any special meal. We would drink it whenever we next felt like it, food or not!

So, weeks went by & I kept making statements like: "Should we serve my $15 wine tonight, or your $9 wine with our 'occasion'?" It became a joke. Finally, we opened it this past week & the joke was on me as I really enjoyed this wine. I think this is a great buy for the $.  I am going to purchase another bottle this weekend to "be sure"! This was really good alone & with food - chicken (organic) & melted Swiss cheese, mashed potatoes & green beans (both organic). I love a good BLEND. This is one of those. It is full-bodied (my preferred choice!) with slight vanilla notes, some wood & earth & baking spice. This is a CHEAP wine that tastes more expensive. Buy it with confidence. Give it to a friend. Bring it to a party.

Maria - I know you said you were thinking about dropping a bottle of wine off in my mailbox to "make me write again", but, seriously, if you try a wine you like, send me a note & I will buy it too & try it & review it. I LOVE getting recommendations from people (I may not like it the same - but everybody's tastes are very different). Meanwhile, get back to writing yourself! You are someone I admire & you are very smart & talented. Keep it going. Even when you don't feel like it. Like me! Fake it 'til you make it. Smile when you feel like crying. All that jazz. :)

Well, I watched your black tied family
Rise up from graves near cemeteries
That I have not been to since your goodbye

And I drank another simile . . .

"I Can Feel Your Pain" by Manchester Orchestra

8.25 out of 10
$8.99/750 ml. bottle
13.5% alc. by vol.

Friday, August 23, 2013

J. Lohr Merlot

Paso Robles, CA
Los Osos

Yeah, so, it's been quite awhile. Not sure what possessed me to attempt to write even tonight. Just wanted to post something more recent then what? April? Too lazy to take my own picture (hey, my camera needs to be recharged), I resorted to the internet for a few photos.

In the summer, I tend to gravitate to very chilled, headier whites, mostly Chardonnay. But the more recent (slight) heat spell broke today & there's a hint of fall in the air. So I went back to a recent favorite standby red that I haven't covered recently. J Lohr's Merlot. I can count on it tasting good when I am looking for some flavor without spending a lot. This is a classic spicy, woodsy, berry bomb. Good on its own, this also went well with my organic turkey burger smothered in Saga Blue Brie, sauteed Baby Bella mushrooms and Vidalia onion, and chopped fresh avocado.

So I've been away from it all for at least a bit. Writer's block, nothing spectacular to drink, children beginning to flee the nest.  My eldest is getting ready to head off to college; far, far away. :( She is determined. She is confident. I admire her. I pray for her. I am mixed up with crazy feelings. Missing babies so very bad (wishing so much that I could adopt), I can't believe my first little baby is heading off to college - long distance nevertheless. But my gut tells me I think she has made the right choice for herself. She is so much more mature than I was at her age. I was still attached to the apron's strings. She longs for independence and her future life. We are not well-traveled and she is willing to bust forward, no holds barred. And that is so incredibly awesome. I am envious.

I look in the mirror. I see "the lines on my face getting clearer" to quote Steven Tyler (Aerosmith). I feel so much, from positive, to negative, then back to positive again. Sometimes, back to negative. I can't believe I am officially middle-aged now. And my babies are growing up and moving out. Even my little one has suddenly sprung up this summer. She's gone from still looking like my "little one" to looking on the verge of a teen. I am shocked. I wonder where the time went. I struggle. I celebrate.

I watched my middle one tonight as I pumped gas at a local grocery store. The same kid who maturely discussed with me her upcoming challenging school schedule and her own plans for her eventual Senior year's (rather impressive) schedule, as well as her hopes for college in Quebec, just days ago (I know what she's doing. I have always been interested in Canada. I do believe my middle one is going to go to school there, graduate, & become a citizen, opening the door for me/us to follow). So, she hung out of my car with cell phone in the air looking for service in the boondocks. In frustration, she got out of the car to get a signal. Meanwhile, I was in conversation with the cute, young kid at the window about how the grocery store was now up for sale after so many years. Then, as my daughter clung to her cell phone, I pumped gas. Suddenly I hear her squeal in delight and scream: "Matt!!!!" And she runs to the window to talk to the same cute, young kid I was just conversing with. I smile to myself as I see this new side to my middle child. She rests her chin on her hands in the little payment window & bats her eyelashes and talks up a storm. I finish pumping gas & get in the car and look busy to buy them more time. She eventually comes bouncing back to the car. She knows him from school. He's a year older. It's no big deal. And yet, the scenario portrays so much of the future to her mother. Geez! Like I didn't just go through this with her older sister! I thought I was going to get a break inbetween! :0

I went out a few weeks ago with my husband's cousin. We discussed how his kids just want to stick around. I was admiring that. He said he thinks it's due to the "purse strings". I was jealous. My kids (at least my two older ones) talk about getting out and away. It makes me sad, but I know I need to be proud. It would not make me happy to have the alternative - to have them not want to go. I guess I should be happy that they have the confidence to look forward to branching out on their own.

The selfish, they're all standing in line
Faithing and hoping to buy themselves time
Me, I figure as each breath goes by
I only own my mind

North is to South what the clock is to time
There's East and there's West and there's everywhere life
I know that I was born and I know that I'll die
In between is mine
I am mine

I Am Mine, Pearl Jam

Yes - see the fellow below? This just cracks me up. I was looking for J Lohr 2010 Merlot images & this random guy came up in my search. I have no idea who Mr. Comfortably Numb is, but this pic just made me smile so I had to include it here.

8.0 out of 10
$14 / 750 ml. bottle 
13.5% alc. by vol.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Shannon Ridge Wrangler Red

Lake County California
High Elevation Edition
Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre & Grenache

Vanilla, oak, pepper spice, & dark cherry flavors were the main flavor players in this medium bodied multi-varied blend. I was pretty happy about the blend layers. This wine is very good. I just don't know that I would pay $19 for it. Maybe $14. I was hoping for a longer finish and more depth. I would like to try it again with grilled steak and mushrooms. It is recommended  to serve with red meat and barbecued pork. I had it with Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage & Kale & Spinach Ravioli sauteed with garlic. I preferred it with the meal more than on its own.

Today I was driving in the beautiful sunshine with the sun roof completely open listening to Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" and thinking about the associations I have with almost every piece of music I hear. I can remember hearing this song for the very first time as it came on the radio and my brother and I were riding in the backseat of our old black Dodge Rambler going to get our Christmas tree. My mom was driving and my dad was riding shotgun which was unusual as he usually drove. This song came on and I just loved the beginning where Carly whispers: "Son of a Gun" before she begins singing. My mom told my dad about some couple they knew who was getting divorced and how the wife played this song for the husband and had told her husband how it reminded her of him. 

For quite awhile after that Christmas I would hear the song. It became my favorite that year. I remember telling my neighborhood friend about it and asking her if she knew it. She said: "Is that the song about the clouds in the coffee cup?" I said it was and she said: "I hate that song. It's so stupid. What does it even mean to have clouds in your coffee?" Mind you, we were both like 7 or 8 as we sat evaluating its meaning. I remember shrugging and thinking it was her loss that she didn't get it. What's funny is I knew at my young age that it was just a metaphor, but I didn't truly grasp it other than I figured it was adult speak for describing something deeper. I couldn't make my friend get it. Listening to it today, those memories came back and I smiled. Especially as, since growing up, I love getting to know meanings behind songs and reading autobiographies of artists, etc. 

Long before Adele wrote about her first love gone bad, or Taylor Swift hung John Mayer, Carly Simon wrote about her previous beau, Warren Beatty. In classic self-assured pride, Beatty reportedly thanked her for writing the song. Carly has said it was actually about a combination of men. The apricot scarf was reportedly for Nick Nolte. The cheating boyfriend was reportedly about Mick Jagger's preoccupation with David Bowie's wife. I just love how much she set the entertainment world abuzz with vain speculation with that piece of music! 

Anyway, I have always loved the lyrics, and the "clouds in the coffee" reference I interpret now as foreshadowing in an otherwise simple, happy life - like finding that the morning comfort of drinking warm, soul-filling coffee while sitting in the sun suddenly portrays the presence of clouds overhead as if providing warning to an unseen emotional storm dead set ahead. It's one of those awesome self-discovery items like poetry, open to great self-interpretation. 

You had me several years ago,
when I was still quite naive.
Well you said that we made such a pretty pair,
and that you would never leave.
But you gave away the things you loved,
and one of them was me . . .
I've had some dreams there were clouds in my coffee,
clouds in my coffee and . . .
You're so vain . . .
--Carly Simon (with, incidentally, Mick Jagger on backup!)

8.0 out of 10
$19 / 750 ml. bottle
14.5% alc. by vol.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Hill Family Estate Merlot

Beau Terre Vineyard

83% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot
I should have maybe kept this a bit longer. It was good, but it was young. I bet it would be a big jump better a year from now. Still, it was enjoyable. I just don't think it equalled it's price yet. It tastes like a $20-something wine.

It had dark fruit flavor and quite a bit of oak flavor. I made Stead Au Poivre and found the oak to become hot, peppery oak following a bite of the tenderloin.

Quite a bit of time has passed I see since posting last. I had a  few great wines at Easter when my brother visited and we went shopping. I also was given a wine as a gift that was awesome with our Easter pork loin and garlic chutney. My husband was slightly efficient and immediately removed all empty bottles to the dump. I can no longer tell you of my two favorites from last weekend. Well, we take the bitter with the sweet.

Be this sunset soon forgotten
Your brothers left here shaved and crazy
We've learned to hide our bottles in the well
And what's worth keeping, sun still sinking
Down and down
Once again
Down and down
Gone again

Iron & Wine, Sunset Soon Forgotten

8.25 out of 10
14.5% alc. by vol.
$35 / 750 ml. bottle

Friday, February 8, 2013

Ravens Wood Zinfandel

Vintner's Blend

We have had Ravens Wood Zin (probably Old Vine Zin more often) several times over the years, but drinking this vintage now made all the difference. I was amazed at the price for the flavor. The scent was wonderfully heady and the flavor rich with blackberry vanilla spice. Unfortunately, this was the last bottle on the shelf. Otherwise, this would be one to buy a case of in my opinion. Cheap, but delicious. We are calling this the Wine for a Blizzard. Tastes GREAT alone or with tomato sauce and garlic and oregano.

Due to a series of unfortunate events, I feel I have started 2013 off wrong. I am hoping it corrects itself soon. A few of my misfortunes just in the first few weeks of 2013 include losing my bank card in the Stop & Shop parking lot, getting into an accident that wasn't my fault with my beautiful hand-me-down car and having their insurance company continue to drag their feet on paying for the damage, and having my garage door break and the heavy, rusty spring and pulley clock me in the head as I tried to unlock the door to my kitchen. Now tonight I am experiencing my first blizzard as an adult (having to worry about things like wind damage to the house and outside vehicles). I pretty much slept and played through the Blizzard of '78 (you really don't realize how great it is to live with people much older than you who take care of things until you become one).

All of my winey complaining aside, I have an amazing friend who has struggled once again with breast cancer. She learned of her newfound diagnosis around Thanksgiving and lived with it through the holidays and through the most sad day of many of our lives, December 14, while being a wife, daughter, sister, friend to many and, most importantly, a mom of two small children. She underwent a double mastectomy and is truly someone to admire. Her blog is listed somewhere to the right of this page, Mom is Always Write. She is an amazingly strong and beautiful person who continues to inspire me and who never loses her wonderful sense of humor.

When you say it's gonna happen now
Well, when exactly do you mean?
See, I've already waited too long
And all my hope is gone

~The Smiths;
How Soon Is Now?~

8.25 out of 10
13.5 % alc. by vol.
$9.99 / 750 ml. bottle

Monday, December 24, 2012

Dragon's Tooth Blend

NAPA Valley Red
56% Malbec, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot

*Please note that this is not a "budget" wine as our title suggests. From time to time I will review more expensive wines when given the opportunity to indulge. This is one of those times.

--Dark berry fruit flavors, smooth, baking spice oak finish--

My brother is here for Christmas - yay! He brought (4) bottles of red blends with him. We went through two bottles of this tonight with family and friends. I made a big pot of chili and we had a mish-mosh of appetizers that my mom brought left over from a gathering she had at her house the night before. As my brother said, pretty much everything we ate with this tasted better. We had spicy chicken wings which, followed by a sip of wine, the pepper really kicked into gear. We had aged Canadian Cheddar, meatballs, Carr's Wheat Crackers and Cheddar Melts, 5-layer Mexican dip, and finally, the chili. It all tasted good together. My favorite was a Hershey's kiss followed by a sip of wine. The milk chocolate flavor popped back into focus following a sip of the wine.

My brother purchased this wine for $44. However, we have since discovered on the internet, that this vintage is sold out. The price to purchase was in the $70's on average. He is thinking he is going to grab a few more bottles when he gets back to his state where he purchased these from.

It has been tough to feel like blogging. It has been tough to feel the Christmas Spirit. It has been tough to feel any seasonal joy. Every day I have the town of Newtown on my mind. There is so much raw emotion right there on the forefront of my thinking every day. I wake up daily feeling like it is a "normal" day for about one millisecond and then I remember that life has changed. I have connections through family and otherwise to (3) of the adults that were killed, and a second cousin is a neighbor to one of the little girls killed. Even if I didn't have any ties to any of the victims, this is a heart-wrenching event. Everywhere I go, I find people need to mention it, or talk about it. I have vendors at work from across the country who ask me when I talk to them how "we" are doing in our neck of the woods. I work two towns over from Newtown and pass through Newtown on my way to work. But many of my vendors do not know that. They just know I am in the same state and want me and others to know that they are thinking of us all.

We will never be able to make sense of what happened. There was really nothing that could have been done to stop it. Dawn Hochsprung had a good security system in place. It just wasn't capable of keeping out someone who really wanted to do harm. I still believe that good WILL triumph over evil in the end and we must not ever lose faith. Those children and teachers must not die in vain. We have to do our best to forge ahead, remembering them always, while paying closer attention to those children who might otherwise fall through the cracks.

I am a traditional Christmas song lover. I don't like anything that sounds like today's pop or has been given a mod  uptempo. I rarely listen to "new" Christmas music, with a few exceptions. Sting's "If on a Winter's Night" CD, Harry Connick Jr.'s song "When My Heart Finds Christmas", and Sarah McLachlan's "Wintersong" CD. I am a Gordon Lightfoot fan, and his 1967 song covered by both Sting and Sarah, "If on a Winter's Night" has always been one of my favorites. This year it has taken on new meaning. I can't help but think of the families who are missing their children when I listen to some of the lyrics.

I do believe that those teachers who perished are with the children who perished too. And I believe families will one day be reunited with their precious little lost loves. And for every act of evil, I believe there are way more acts of good. Wishing you all comfort and peace this Christmas, and hold close those who mean the world to you.
The fire is dying now, my lamp is growing dim
The shades of night are lifting
The morning light steals across my windowpane
Where webs of snow are drifting
If I could only have you near, to breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
And to be once again with you
On this winter night with you 

--If on a Winter's Night by Gordon Lightfoot

This wine was given a rating of 94 by Wine Enthusiast.

8.5 out of 10
14.5% alc. by vol.
*$44 -$76 (depending on where you buy it) / 750 ml. bottle

Friday, November 23, 2012

Joh.Jos.Prum Riesling

Wehlener Sonnenuhr 

A few years ago, my uncle Bob turned my dislike of "sweet" Riesling into a quizzical quest to be more open to it. I don't remember what bottle we enjoyed that afternoon in the sun on his patio, as it was before my blogger days where I'd actually pay attention to labels in the hopes of a later review, but he served it with prosciutto wrapped melon and I was sold on that marriage. Yesterday afternoon, Thanksgiving Day, brought me back to the above sweet recollection. 
In keeping with tradition, in spite of my uncle's passing, we are still enjoying his wines on Thanksgiving. My aunt brought me Riesling from the Mosel region, as my uncle had done before on previous Thanksgivings to serve with appetizers. I made bacon wrapped scallops specifically to accompany this Riesling and it was outrageously good. This Riesling has wonderful aromas and tastes of pears and apricots. But followed by a bite of bacon-wrapped scallop, the sweetness cut out and a fantastic minerality became known to me. This was an excellent pairing. :)

So, after yesterday, I vowed I would get up this morning and eat healthy and go for a walk. So far, I got up and turned on some old jazz. I made Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls for my girls, with bacon and eggs. Simultaneously I began pulling out ingredients to make turkey soup today. To get to my onions and celery and carrots and shallots, I had to remove piles of leftovers from yesterday's dinner. That meant the chocolate cream pie had to come out. I had a sliver as I placed it on the counter (I figured it would make my coffee taste better). Then as the bacon was draining, I thought about the awesome Riesling and bacon-related pairing from yesterday and thought I should blog about it. To capture a bit more of that experience, I thought I should pour a half glass of Riesling and have it with a piece of bacon (9:30 a.m. mind you). As I continued savoring the two, I pulled pumpkin pie from the fridge and wondered what the Riesling would taste like when paired with the pumpkin pie, so I had a sliver of that. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't the same caliber as the bacon and scallops. Similarly, the bacon also was not as enjoyable alone with the Riesling as when the scallop accompanied it. As I continued pouring through the fridge and gorging myself on morning wine and confections with the occasional piece of bacon, Glenn Miller's Rhapsody in Blue came on and I began to reflect on the ever changing Thanksgiving Table gathering over the years. We had a few good years just a short while back where I could count on a regular crowd and I learned to love the feel of the togetherness with so many who mean so much. I began to rely on all the "regulars" and had such a shock when last year marked the first year that we lost so many and it changed the dynamic greatly.

Yesterday was a good day, though we did miss my brother who was unable to make it for the first time in years. That said, we gained my aunt back after being unable to make it the last two years. My mom and step-dad joined as they usually do, and of course my grandmother whose presence I have greatly appreciated over the years and I have found I don't ever want to not be at my Thanksgiving table, though sadly I know that too will change as everything must in this life. I lost my other grandmother last year and we had our first Thanksgiving last year without her being still here on earth. At the same time, last year was our first Thanksgiving after having lost my uncle and step-grandfather as well. So as we gathered this year, we were very cognizant of those we have loved and lost who used to adorn my table with their presence, and those who couldn't be with us for other means. But their presence was greatly felt among us I couldn't help but feel. We ate off of plates my deceased grandmother brought back from a trip to Japan years ago. We enjoyed my uncle's wine as we have continuously for so many years (even when he couldn't make it, he would still forward to me a case of wine that he picked out for each various phase of dinner from appetizers to dessert). And my grandmother brought her late husband's recipe of Rum Tiddlies she'd made in a big bottle of Mount Gay Rum, complete with fresh nutmeg grated into each glass. I reflected last night after all company had long gone, as I sat in my kitchen remembering (and missing greatly) the Thanksgiving nights when my late grandmother would stay and help me pull apart the turkey for making soup, on how the Thanksgiving Table is a metaphor for life itself. Life is ever changing, nothing stays the same for long, and the trick for us as humans is to learn to adapt to those changes, go with it, create new memories while savoring the old, all the time realizing that while change can bring emptiness and sadness or a longing for days gone by, at any given moment, change can also bring a new happiness or new wonderful memory to lighten our heart and can very much bring about those long lost good feelings from good days gone by. And in this way, it is as if past meets present, making the future brighter with hope.

When this doesn't happen again
We'll have this moment forever
But never, never again 

--Doris Day, "Again"

8.5 out of 10
8% alc. by vol.
$20/750 ml. bottle