Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wine, wine, wine. . .

and more wine.

I seem to be talking to myself these days, could be because everyone else has better things to do (be pregnant, play in SF, bake 900 doz. cookies), but I am on vacation until January 5th and I have some (8) wines to tell you about. So sit back and let me babble on.

Tortoise Creek Pinot Noir (France though they also have a winery in CA, $10). Got this one on sale from my wonderful PeaPod (groceries delivered, godloveit). It was a nice spicy/fruity wine (cherries?) and went very well with the Chef's lamb stew you see in that cute little bowl. It was a very snowy night so this was a wonderful meal to have while we watched it come down out there.

"Learning to Fly" (Chile, $9) is a 100% Carmenere wine. I was reading about this grape on a favorite blog and was surprised to find a bottle at my local wine shop later that night. It's not a flavor I have had before, but this has become a favorite in the house. Notes of pepper, cumin, and (Wingal, I shit you not) bacon. It's not overly dry nor is it the least bit sweet. It's a very suprisingly good wine for very little $$.

While a lot of you, my gentle readers, live in a more tropic climate, I do not envy you. Except when it is -35. That sucked. Holy crap was that cold.I don't know if I have ever been that cold. The Chef laughed and told stories of driving in -70 degrees (Ferienheit, not Kelvin),I scowled and snuggled under a blanket with two of the boys.

What we needed was a hot wine to drink while we were shivering and decorating the tree. We chose to mambo! "Hey Mambo!" (CA, $13) is a blend of a crap load of grapes (barbera, zinfandel, syrah, petite sirah, carigname, & alicante bouchet). It's spicy, just like something called "Hey Mambo" should be. Plenty of pepper and a smooth finish, we need to add this to the next PSSWR wine list. We also should invite the people who wrote the label over. There was some crazy Mickey Spillane like story on the bottle. The website describes one of the flavors in the wine as "sweet leather." Seriously sexy wine.

The next day was more of the same frigid hell. I think I see why the Vikings 1) drank so much, 2) left Sweden. Seriously, if this is what you looked outside (yes that is a ice floe you see) and saw you would either go back inside and drink til it was sunny, or leave.

I chose to drink more.

"Efe", a 2005 cabernet savignon (20%) monastrell (80%) blend from the Bodegas Los Frailes (Spain, $12) was good and, really let's face it, like most of the other wines I tend to buy. Fruity and dry, incredibly drinkable with that nice spicy after taste. The monastrell grape in this wine makes for a more cherry flavor than in most of the wines I bring home, but it wasn't over powering. Very good, but not excellent.

For an excellent, and I do mean excellent, Pinot Noir head to Oregon (or your wine shop) and get some of this:

"Cloudline" I paid $15 for the 2007, but I see that the 2006 & 2005 will run you $20+ if you can even find them as they appear to be "collectables". This Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley is amazing. Raspberries add to the soft somewhat sweet flavor. I see on a few websites that people said it had "faded by the next day" making me wonder why they didn't finish it the night before?

Christmas Eve, Chef prepared well seasoned duck, caesar salad, and homemade rosemary bread. I stopped on the way home and picked up another Pinot Noir, hoping for another bottle of the Cloudline. Instead, my local wine merchant suggested this one from the Yamhill Valley Vineyards (OR, $18).

A bit more than I chose to spend per bottle, but well worth it. The Estate Pinot Noir tastes cool and the slight tartness complemented the savoriness of the duck.

For Christmas dinner of beast roast in a scotch and mushroom sauce, we had a ridiculously dark red cabernet franc from France ($15). I'm sorry I don't have a picture of it, but it was the Frederic Mabileau Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Les Rouilleres. That's a mouthful, but so was the wine. Musky, woody, black cherries, tobacco. Wonderful.

Then, just as quickly as the cold came it was gone. And lo, it was 65 and we switched to gin.

I will end this obscenely long post with last night's wine, "Alaia" (Spain, $13).

I had been waffling between a few other bottles and this one was recommended to me by the loverly Irishman who works/owns the wine shop. I know that the Irish are not known for having the best palate (really between that and the rest of my Anglo Saxon roots, ketchup is sometimes too intense a flavor) but he was right about this one. Not amazing, but certainly different. 5% Merlot, 45% tempranillo, and 50% prieto picudo, it's a sweet wine. Not like Boones Farm, not at all. It's still dry but it's more of fig taste than any other fruit I can pin. Apparently the prieto picudo grape was thought to be lost, but some guys in Spain found it in an old lady's backyard and revived it.

So that's what I have been drinking this last month. I also finally had time to finish a book that I bought as the beginning of this past semester started, "State by State." It's a fantastic look at each state by fifty different authors not always associated with the state they were assigned. Some of the essays were horrid (California, Delaware), some were painfully beautiful (Idaho, Rhode Island), two were done as cartoons (Oregon, Vermont), and some were hilarious (Illinois, Massachusetts, New York). When you have a chance, I recommend picking it up. I had brought it with me to the lake house in October with the intentions of reading a goodly portion of it. I didn't get a chance to as I was helping Dad out and had suggested to my younger brother that he take a look at it. He read almost all of it by the time I left 3 days later.

Enough from me for now, though I suspect I will have more to say by tomorrow. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and that this next year will be merry & bright!

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