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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Barbera Uncorked: 2003 Barbera D'Alba Bric Loira


I'm interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without. - Ansel Adams

Some of you may have guessed from my tweets [if you follow me there] that I have a new place to hang my hat occasionally for work. That place is Bird Rock Fine Wine in La Jolla; a hearty stones throw the sun, surf and sand. It was there just yesterday, I had an opportunity to meet the winemaker and his wife from Cascina Chicco, his name Enrico Faccenda. 

Their winery in northern Italy, Cascina Chicco, is located on a idyllic hillside in Piedmont, where you will find that they are one of the top producers in the region. It's described as a true "family-run" operation, with many different family members pitching-in to help. 

While he didn't speak much English, what spoke to me most was the passion in his wine-making, evident and eloquent in every sip, slurp and even the eventual big gulp. Of course, I'm just kidding of course as I was spitting that afternoon, but you get the idea [too bad big-gulps in this setting are not optional].

I had the opportunity to taste through a nice swath of his portfolio and I have to say that overall I was very impressed with the wines being poured yesterday. Even the unusual late harvest wine, [called Arcass] which I sampled yesterday, produced from the Arneis grape [had me thinking of orange/apricot marmalade] was fantastically engaging wine, sporting obvious viscosity, length of flavors, with a nice pop of acid to carry the abundant dried-fruit. If you'd like to read more about this wine and take an indepth look at this style of dessert wine, here's a link to read more.

In Piedmont region, many vino-sapiens are quite aware that while Barbera may play second fiddle to Nebbiolo, which is the grape behind Barbaresco and Barolo. But that doesn’t mean locals and even the garden varitety cork-dorks in the know, haven’t embraced it as a red-wine they can drink all-year-round with all sorts of food.

Nebbiolo and Barbera are grapes where you'll find higher acidity and often sport a definite note of bing-cherry. But they part ways when it comes time to get some grape-skin in the game. You'll find many [not all] Nebbiolo based wines can have an intense tannin structure, but little color, from its skins. While on the other hand, Barbera can be a deep, dark ruby color, with medium to low tannins. 

Because Barbera is inherently low in tannins, the use of barriques has been introduced to impart some much-needed wood tannin into the wine. It’s a fairly new approach [in the context of Italian wine-making history] to enhance this wine’s structure, complexity and also a way to soften or take the burr off the saddle of Barbera’s tart acidity. So of course the operative phrase, when it comes to producing outstanding Barbera is the "judicious use of oak" simply stated too much oak, is nothing but a joke.

While it is generally agreed that the best producing area for Barbera wines is that of Asti region, the wine in today's review spotlight comes from the D'Alba region where you'll find many tasty Barolo and Barbaresco wines. But believe this wine is no slouch, when it comes to flavor, length and complexity.

The best vintages [2003 was definitely one of them] with age, tend to sport a garnet core, but this wine was still leaning toward the ruby side of the equation. The nose right away gave away the plot-line to the upcoming show; velvety, harmonious quality of considerable elegance in the dark-fruit to earth ratio.

Soon as I got this wine from the glass into my mouth, boom, what hit my palate was a very pleasant, easy to drink wine, which oozed elegance and power. A wine I found harmonious and tasty at the same time. The finish sails on and on, while it shouts-out, I'm a chef’s dream, because it displays such exceptional versatility, when it comes to food pairing. It’s a wine that would make a nice addition to any restaurants wine-list. I scored this wine 92 points; it sells for about $35 most places, well worth the price of admission, Barbera at its best! Until next time folks sip long and prosper cheers!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Volcanic Soils Wine Tasting

“Regardless of where in Italy it comes from, good Italian red wine speaks directly to the soul, and the gut, of place and people and food and love. And that’s just the beginning; great wines embrace the head as well.” ~ Eric Asimov

Many of us already know or have already experienced to some degree or the other that Italy is home to thousands of varietals, so many in fact, that it’s  easy to lose count. It’s with that thought in mind that I bring to you today a tasting, I experienced not long ago that will take you not just outside the box, but far beyond. To the point you may just need a GPS device to find your way back home.

Yes, further than the reaches of the well known areas like Tuscany, boasting of its Sangiovese and Piedmont in the north flaunting its Nebbiolo, I’m going to take you on a mini-tasting adventure where volcanic soils dominate the palate profile. This tasting adventure, took my taste-buds on ride through two very interesting producers vineyards in southern Italy. Ciro Biondi from Mount Etna in Sicily and the other is Cecilia Naldoni from the Vulture appellation in the region known as Basilicata.

Although so-called scientists say there is no verifiable measure to identify what we vino-sapiens refer to as terroir. But you can definitely [easily] smell and taste the tell-tale signs of volcanic soils influence on the wine in your glass and I think most people can. This is a generalization, but in my experience, most of white-wines from these regions have notes of struck-flint and in the red wines, you often times think you're standing over a campfire roasting marshmallows. 

So with no further ado, you have my tasting notes below on the wines I experienced from the tasting. Now did I like every wine, well yes and no. Each wine was unique, nuanced and some may have fared far better with the presence of the right pairing-partner. 

2009 Lacryma Christi Del Vesuvio: A blend of two white wine grapes, featuring 80% Coda di Volpe and 20% Falanghina.  A very light hay color in the glass, much like a light colored Sauvignon Blanc. The vines are grown in a grey volcanic soil which closely resembles, 'grapenuts' cereal.  The nose was very flinty, abundant wet-stone and a lemon peel aroma in the background. After the first slurp, still more lemon peel and wet-stone, a distant rich citrus and spice on the finish, it left me thinking this wine would pair nicely with schnitzel. 87 points.

2011 La Sibilla, Falanghina, Campi Flegrei: Again the glass, a light hay colored core. The nose giving off citrus rinds, honey and wet-stone. After the initial splash down, honey dew melon rinds, wet sand and a drop of honey drizzled over citrus rinds. A very light bodied wine, begging for a food pairing of some kind. Perhaps a some wild caught herring in a lemon-butter, cracked-pepper sauce, hanging out with a bit of spinach rotini. This is an "organic" wine. 85 points.

Contrade di Taurasi 2010 Grecomusc' Bianco: Now this was a very interesting wine, only 300 cases of it in all the world, a wine produced from the nearly extinct grape called Roviello. This was my very first time giving this wine a swirl and I didn't really know what to expect. The color was a bit darker, than the two above, like wet-hay. Described as a drink now and drink often wine not suited for aging purposes. The nose was a bit elusive, a bit like smelling envelope that had just arrived in the mail, where it was obvious the carrier had just finished off a gala-apple before hand. A few slurps in, lots of apple peels, lemon flower, more honey-dew rinds, of course wet stone and adequately plumbed with acidity. 87 points. 

Villa Dora, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Rosso: The Gelsonero a delightful blend of 80% Piedirosso and just 20% Aglianico. A wine made in an 'organic' farming style, but not certified. In the glass, a dark and enticing dark ruby color. The nose is crazy inviting, a hot strawberry compote or cherry filling which had drop on a hot stove, interesting florals and match stick. A few slurps later, a rich but not overwhelming flavors flow like a fountain, cherry, plum, raspberry and dark plum-skins. Just hints of pepper and clove drop by for a few moments, soft tannins join the party as well. This wine would definitely make a tasty accompaniment to meat-based pasta dishes, as on it's not too-fab on its own. 89 points.

Contrade di Taurasi Aglianico 2005: This is a 'declassified' Aglianico from Taurasi. It sports most of the distinctive flavors of the area, the blackberry and dark plum fruit balanced with fresh acidity, but missing the campfire aromas I normally associate with these wines. It did a savory character of dark fruits but a bit more distant then I like. Though it had a style I associate with volcanic soils, it was more far lean in overall flavor than most Taurasi wines. 87 points.

Aglianico del Vulture 'Damaschito' 2007: This wine is a brilliant representation of Aglianico and is certified organic. In the glass you can see from the bright nearly dark plum-skinned core, this was had additional skin contact. The nose was rich and inviting, herbal, campfire, ripe blackberries and plum. This is a beautifully "textured" wine that had me at the first sip. Nothing but well integrated tannins, framed over a medium body delivers mouth coating flavors of black cherry and cracked black pepper and the finish seems to go on and on. As you can tell from my excitement, this wine was my favorite of the day. 91 points.

But as I've said before, when asked about this tasting these wines, I found them all to be a bit esoteric, but don't take my word for it, check them out for yourself. These wines were featured as part of a tasting by Oliver McCrum Wines an importer of fine Italian wines. Until next time folks sip long and prosper cheers!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gadget Review: Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator


"Most wines…are known to enjoy mingling with oxygen after having been corked up! But newly freed vino thus unfurls its charms by being poured from one container to the next for an invigorating rendezvous with aeration." ~ Andrea Immer Robinson

Many thirsty vino-sapiens out there on the purple paved highways and byways ask the age-old question do you really need to ‘decant’? For many it’s an easy answer and still for others if they must, then they would prefer a short-cut, after all we live in an “App” oriented culture today, which is just the fancy way to say it's a shortcut. Face it we live in a culture today that wants fast cars and fast foods, one that wants everything in a microwaved minute. So it should not be any surprise that alternatives to traditional 'decanting' have come on the scene.

First let’s examine the basic well known purpose or reason behind the supposed need to decant wines. The simple reasoning behind pouring wine from the bottle into a larger vessel is done for the purpose of allowing the wine to “breathe”.

But what does that mean; it’s a way to bring out the wines rich aromas and hopefully mellowing tannins, to hopefully create a smoother finish and a better experience. This is said to be accomplished, by allowing the wine to have more room to interact with oxygen, far more than just by uncorking the bottle.

Now the claim by Vinturi the [short-cut] wine aerator, is that it supposedly achieves the ideal mix of wine and oxygen with each pour, no fuss and no muss. Just pour the red wine of your choice through the device from the bottle into your hopefully clean and lint free stem and you're ready to go.

Vinturi does offer separate models for red and one for white wine and now even one for spirits oh-my. Claiming it’s for the purposes of optimal aeration for every sip, slurp and maybe even the eventual gulp. While testing this product over the last 60 days on many different bottles of red-wine I really didn’t see a measured result that would make me think ‘wow’ this is the product I’ve been waiting for, my days of decanting are over, woo-hoo.

But on the other hand I did see a small, but appreciable difference between the wine that had been through the Vinturi and wine that had not gone through it at all, so there is something to it. Even Mrs. Cuvee gave it her “good” rating. Speaking of good, it’s well to remember, when holding the Vinturi, try not to put your fingers over the holes, otherwise it just defeats the purpose. Second, don’t let it fall into your stem or you’ll be picking up a lot of glass later.

While I won’t be tossing my decanter aside anytime soon, I will still be using the Vinturi for some of the simpler reds which I think could still benefit from a bit of “instant aeration”. But that said, I think big red wines like grand, aged Barolo for example, may need to be opened the night before and poured into a traditional decanter. The reason being; so that the wine can be decanted several hours before it's even close to being ready or risk a wine that's just too tight to want to come out and meet you. 
 
Other places and or moments where I think this product [I'm sure there are more] would come-in very handy would be on picnics, backpacking and even those impromptu entertaining moments which many of us call tailgating. 

What comes in each package, the Vinturi Aerator I received as a sample comes with a convenient stand to store in between uses [but don’t forget to clean the well out often]. It also comes with a screen to grab any sediment which may attempt to make its way to your glass, a good thing unless you like crunchy wines.

This product cleans up easy and is easily transported. They also offer it in a smaller size for the savvy vino-sapiens [ladies] who’d like to keep one in their purse. The prices for this product can be widely different; I’ve seen it for as much as $60 all the way down to $30. If you can find one in the lower price range, I’d recommend grabbing one for the arsenal of other wine gadgets you may already have. Until next time folks remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dreams Can Come True: An American in Burgundy


 
"The nature of a wine production is first influenced by the ground, then the skies, then by mankind." ~ Louis Bouillot
 
Ray's wines like the 2009 Maison Ilan Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru, sell for $175.00. It has been said about his efforts there in 'The Pour'; "The wines are elegant, fresh, structured and graceful — astoundingly so, given they were made by a novice".
 
If you liked the video and want to read more about his story, here's a write-up I found in the NY Times, An American Hears the Call of Burgundy. I hope you enjoyed this video and Ray's story as much as I did, until next folks remember sip long and prosper, cheers!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wine and Food Pairing of the Week: Treana White and Chicken Piccata


"Learn how to cook -- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun."- Julia Child

Here it’s Thursday the launching point for whether or not you’ll have a successful weekend or perhaps not so much. I mean on Thursday’s you can see the weekend from where you’re seated, standing, gyrating or what ever it’s you do while at work. The point is; it’s nearly here and it’s time to figure-out and or firm up those plans that you may or may not have.

Seeing it’s nearly the weekend, you don’t want to have to fuss too much about tonight’s dinner plans; you're most likely hoping for something quick and easy, but what? Well I have something [an idea really] that will make you look like a freaking super-star chef, something that could even make the wild-eyed Chef Ramsey slow down his fist-pumping and wagging tongue for just moment possibly.

Okay, maybe not. But I would like to think so for a moment, so don’t go getting all ‘judgey’ on me, by being a buzz-kill. Just take this ride with me a moment and you’ll see that even the most slack-jawed vino-sapien in the audience can rock this recipe with class and style. Okay, so here’s the very simple Thursday night recipe, it’s Chicken Piccata. It’s a dish which will pair marvelously with the 2010 Treana White Central Coast Rhone Blend, a sample I [inadvertently] received from my new friends at Jarvis Communications and Hope Family Wines.

Now if you don’t happen to have access to this wine and you happen to have some Sauvignon Blanc lying around, you may want to go in that direction for this pairing, but I wouldn’t go with anything too grassy, I think a Sancerre would get the job done nicely.

And yes for crying out-loud even Mrs. Cuvee gave this pairing her highest recommendation, saying it was “good”. Which if you don’t know her, that is indeed high praise. So now you have just grab a few things to do in order to be ready to make this wonderfully easy and tasty dish. Either you know you have the needed items at home and ready to go or you may have to pick-up a few things on the way home, either way this is still easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

So here again is the recipe; the one which I followed and since I almost always have these items on hand, there was no need to rush here and there. I just added a bit of prep work the night before and bingo I was ready to make an easily executed Thursday night meal. Personally, I went a bit lighter on the capers than the recipe calls for, but that is just my personal preference. And oh on the sauce, the recipe seems to skip over the point about heating it until most of wine is evaporated and feel free to plate with the fettuccine pasta of your choice.

Now about the wine, it’s a blend of two Rhone varietals, half Marsanne and the other half Viognier which was partially barrel, fermented. Now with just half of the blend being Viognier, no doubt accounting for much of this wines dramatic exotic tropical fruit aromas and flavors, which bounce like a quarter on freshly made army-cots. There’s a definite lemon blossom thing going on, front to back, with just a drop of honey.

On the palate you’ll find this wine full bodied and round in the mouth without being at all flabby, with a crisp, clean, lingering finish. A wine made to easily pair with food, a wine that is a team player. I scored this wine an easy 90 points and can highly recommend giving it a swirl. It has a $21 SRP but the savvy shopper can find this wine price below $18. Until next time folks remember sip long and prosper cheers!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Travel Tuesday: Carlton Winemakers Studio

 
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. ~Leonard Cohen

If you find yourself out and about on the Orgundian Wine Trail, looking around for a great place to visit while in the Carlton area, then may suggest a visit to the off-the-beaten path Carlton Winemakers Studio. It could be described as the breeding grounds, where some the very best wine in Oregon is coming to fruition.

In having visited this great little spot to get my wine on in a big way a few years ago with the fetching Mrs. Cuvee; I'm reminded of the many pioneers in the wine biz who have gone before with nothing more than a few dreams in their back-pocket with only the sheer determination and pure resolve to see them realized.

In fact there was a poem written in 1874 called "Ode" by the English poet Arthur O'Shaughnessy the line "We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams" which I think best sums up for me the styles of wine one can expect to find from a visit to one of my favorite spots in the Carlton area.
 
Now I can't say you're going to like each and every wine you encounter here, but you should expect the unexpected. I say that because in this uniquely "green" [not in color] building, neatly tucked away in the town of Carlton [a winemaking hub], lies a humongous cooperative winemaking facility founded by Eric Hamacher, where you'll find as many different styles of wine as the winemaking itself.

It's a shared-facility which often houses 10-12 different artists or as some people like to call them winemakers and to be fair; everyone’s wines are featured on a rotating basis in their tasting room which you see above.

All of them sharing a space under one roof, one which has produced many of my favorite Oregon producers. It's also where, one its long time residents Andrew Rich produces so many tasty wines it would be difficult to name them all here. But please click here to see a list of his current offerings from the Northwest inspired Rhone-Zone collection and other favorites.

Lest you think the Rhone-Zone is his only bread and butter; Mr. Rich also has a deft-hand when it comes to Oregon's signature grape. Check out the 2008 Andrew Rich "The Knife Edge" Pinot Noir or his 2009 Andrew Rich Prelude Pinot Noir for example, a wine which recently made the Portland Monthly coveted "Top 50 Wines” list.

I like how the Seattle Times Wine Advisor describes this unique winemaking studio; "It's a great one-stop opportunity to taste through some of the newest and rarest of the region's offerings, and a lesson in green engineering to boot.” Of course you're going to find great Pinot Noirs, Pinot Gris, but like I said earlier expect to find a few other nice surprises along the way, remember the words of Coco Chanel who once said; "There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony."

Now unfortunately for me, even though I did visit Oregon earlier this year, I'm still a bit behind on who's who in the studio these days, but don't let that stop from paying them a visit the next time you find yourself in the area. Until next time folks, remember life is short, get out there, discover and find something new. Until next time, continue to sip long and prosper cheers!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Paso Robles Uncorked: Nuts and Bolts 2010 Syrah


It has been said that, "[proposing] lofty goals without specifying the nuts and bolts of how they are to be achieved" (Village Voice) can be a fool hardy proposition. I would have to say after tasting more than a few of the wines from Herman Story in Paso Robles, that whatever goals Mr. From may have, lofty or not, that when it comes to making wine, which makes me and many other folks say, “WOW” I must conclude he has exceeded them in spades.

If you are a big fan of wine from the Rhone-Zone [aka, Paso Robles] like I am, then do yourself a favor and check into Herman Story. You can find them on the other side of tracks in Paso Robles, which is something I’m sure really agrees with Russel P. From, their winemaker and proprietor. If you find yourself in the downtown area, drive down 13th street toward the 101 and then make a right left on Paso Robles street, don’t go too fast or you’ll drive right by them [and yes its street parking].
 
Once in the tasting room, remember you’ll like everything [no I'm not kidding], so I’d advise you to buy more than you’d normally would to avoid any regret later [you know what they say about regret]. These wines are quite voluminous especially in the ABV area, so if you can’t handle fully hedonistic wines that make no pretense, I’d advise you look elsewhere or may have your delicate sensibilities offended [just saying].

Now regarding this wine in the review spotlight today, the 2010 Nuts and Bolts, it was decanted about 30 full minutes before dinner and from the first slurp to the last drop which I fought Mrs. Cuvee for, wow is the word. This wine is seamless, it never drops off, it hits you at each and every angle with a full throttle presentation, but nicely tuned for perfect balance.

In the glass, a dark ruby core knocks on the side of the glass just to get your attention, once the first slurp is in you’re gonna make an “O” face. You’ll find a wonderfully expressive bouquet teasing and taunting you, on the palate bountiful blackcurrant, dark cherry, while sexy florals and spice nuances slay you with wonderful complexity.

This wine has focused flavors which are clear, deep, and abundantly evident, a wine that is complex and lingering from start to finish. Are you thinking about pairing options? Well the sky is the limit, a great wine which will easily pair with barbequed St. Louis style ribs or even tangy barbequed chicken. I scored this wine 93 points, it really is stellar. Until next time folks remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Flights of Fancy: Domestic Carriers not so Much


"Compromises are for relationships, not wine." --- Sir Robert Scott Caywood
 
Welcome to the weekend, it's nearly four o'clock here on the west coast so it's time to pop some corks and whip-up some great meals to share with the one's we love. Wow, things [not weather] have finally cooled enough for me to turn off the AC [ferocious power bill, ugh] and open the windows again.
 
But now that we are officially into fall I know some folks may have plans to fly in the coming months and having done quite a bit of flying over the pond in the last year, I've noticed one thing about whether or not wine and or beer will be served to the denizens who fly coach, yes those who can't pay the more than double price to fly in business class or god-forbid first-class which seems to be especially true to the folks that on domestic transportation.
 
The one exception to that rule I can think of [thanks to the Matt] it appears our good friends at Horizon Air, do offer a beer or wine of your choice and featuring local brews or wine for in-state flights in Washington and a few flights in California as well. Horizon Air in California will even take it a step further offering to allow up to a case a wine to be carted in the cargo-hold for no extra charge.

Now I had put this question out there on my FB page, but the response was a bit tepid at best [But to be fair, I did have two great responses]. But hey, I know with all that's going right now, there are a few more important topics [like the upcoming election] to think about at the moment. So questions like whether or not a airline carrier should or shouldn’t offer passengers in coach gratis free beer and or wine pales in comparison.
 
Some guy wrote for Esquire Magazine "The days of free miniature bottles of booze are long gone, but on increasingly more flights, you can order cocktails (and pay for them, via credit card) directly from the console on the seatback in front of you." While that may apply to many domestic airline flights, whether they're flying domestically or internationally, that is not true when it comes to international carriers like British Airways, because you can still get a free glass of wine or beer even if you're flying coach.
 
So that said, I will put the question to you; which one of my smart and savvy readers out here knows the reason why non-domestic carriers offer [talking coach here] wine or beer to passengers at no additional charge and are not stingy about it either, but all the domestic carriers don’t offer any unless you want to pay for it?
 
I look forward to hearing all your answers and reading your comments. Until next folks, remember to sit back, relax and sip long and prosper cheers!
 


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wine Wednesday: 2000 Bodegas Faustino I Gran Reserva


“With the economy, nobody’s drinking wine in Spain,” said Kerin Auth
 
While in Spain the folks there may be drinking far less wine than they use to in the past, here in America we are just now waking up to what many [myself included] an everyday luxury.

Thinking about this from the context of time, I mean hell, there are Bodegas in Spain which have been around longer than the United States has been a country. So think of this way; they've been drinking fab, wonderful wines for a very long, long time so perhaps they [collectively speaking] just want to give it a rest. Perhaps it’s like the lyrics from one of Led Zeppelin’s more well known tunes, “I can't quit you, baby So I'm gonna put you down for a while”. Either way, their loss in appetite for great wines is our benefit here in the states.

I count myself one of the lucky ones, someone who has had the blinders removed from my eyes; something which I owe much of to my darling Mrs. Cuvee. Back before we were married, she slapped me aside the head, knocking my rose-colored glasses to the ground, figuratively saying; “look there’s a big wonderful wine-world out there take a look”.

As a result I've become someone who now likes to explore, I don't like to settle for the tried and true, so much wine and so little time as they say. So with it being Wine Wednesday and I all I decided it would be a great time to profile one of the wines I brought home with me on my last trip to the UK, yes this one of the wines I purchased in the duty free shop at Heathrow’s terminal five.

Part of the reason I purchased this wine was because we had a direct flight and I could bring it right onto the plane with no hassles what-so-ever and the second reason was because this wine was on SALE for just 10 pounds or $16 usd. How I could resist such a good deal, was beyond me, thus I carted two of these beauties home in my carry-on.

Now that said, I do love Spanish wines, so much so I’ve been lucky enough to make three trips there within a year’s time. So when I saw the 2000 Bodegas Faustino I Gran Reserva, Rioja DOCa I knew I just had to have it. The bottle comes packed in the classic wired body, with their signature clouded glass. While I didn’t think this wine was really representative of a true Riojan style, one that could have frankly beat the tar out of most wines sold here in that some price point. But unfortunately one thing kept that from being true. I have hope for the second bottle.

The wine was bright, rich and still full colored in the glass, sporting a vivid dark garnet core, with just a tinge of brick along the edges. Nosing this wine is where my “brett” meter went off the proverbial scale, I was like whoa, whoa what do we have here? It’s something which occurs almost exclusively in red wines and typically it’s a barnyard type of funk which in small quanities, it's not so bad. If you’re not familiar with the term, I’ve included a link to a page which I think thoroughly explains the subject in a scientific method and a link to another page which takes a slightly easier to understand approach, so here you go.
 
I could still taste all the wonderful flavors and nuances behind the “funk” but all in all it was just too much to overcome. So sadly, I let the rest of it go the way of many other wines that I won’t review go, right down the drain [ugh, so unhappy]. But if the wine had not had that fault, it's my guess it would have been quite a nice bottle of wine, oh well. Until next folks please remember to sit-back, relax, sip long and prosper cheers!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Travel Tuesday: London Heathrow the Spirits are Open


It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend; one's present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason. ~ Latin saying

Having just recently arrived back from a great trip to the United Kingdom, I had a few hours to kill in London's well known and famous Heathrow Airport. I would have to say my experience at Heathrow was much better than what could only be called a CF, at Charles De Gaulle Airport in France. I've been through that airport on more than one occasion and the "experience" if I can call it that is always the same, harrowing at best.

But laying that aside for another day, lets launch into a subject I know we all like, well at least most of us. Two topics really, one the ladies really love and that is shopping and one the guys really like, and that is getting your single malt on.

Yes, you heard me right shopping, tasting a varied selection of single malts combined with hours to wait before your flight is ready to board at the duty-free shop. All of this can be done at the Heathrow airport in London, no longer will you be be bored while waiting to board. I was a bit flummoxed seeing so many different bottles of single malt open, just waiting for me to ask can I taste that?

Once I do ask, an emphatic "yes" is the answer to my silent prayers from the "guy" in doing the khaki-casual thing at the duty-free shop. I'm thinking well then bring it on, there were quite a few Single Malts, I've not had the opportunity to try before, so I dove in head first, making an amber colored splash and of course I found a few more favorites that I will want to add to my collection at some point in the future.

The Speyside distillery of 'The Balvenie' 15 year 'Golden Cask' [pictured above] was a very nice quaff, easy gentle spices, you could taste the homegrown barley, it had nutty sweetness, a puff of smoke, cinnamon spiciness and a delicately proportioned layer of Caribbean Rum. It's not high end, but one that is very approachable, especially to folks who don't get the peaty, smoky thing.

So whiskey isnt' your thing huh? You thought this was a wineblog, perhaps you were wondering what the bleep is going here, with all this business about Scotch. Psssh, what-ever, hold on to your lederhosen for just one minute, if you could please. I also discovered they had a few very high-end wines on tap in via a enomatic machine and they had some 1er Cru on tap [sorry to rhyme] oh-crap are you freaking kidding? Well they weren't and again all I had to do was ask nicely and the nice gentlemen poured me a couple ounces Burgundy Cru.

What more could you ask for, while waiting to board your plane? Well since you are asking for more, then how about walking [now that would be something to see] a walk-in humidor? Hmmm, not bad huh? Want to try a sample, umm go ahead just ask, apparently, not being afraid to ask leads to all kinds of good things. Somewhat similar to that Zero Calories Coke commercial where the guy ask, "And?" 

I nearly made Mrs. Cuvee and I miss our flight because I was getting so carried away, 'asking', sampling and all that I somehow had lost track of time like the proverbial kid in the candy store. But nonetheless it all worked out and a quick dash to the gate had us both boarding on time, albeit a little winded from the experience [and yes Mrs. Cuvee was more than a bit unhappy]. That is all I have for you today folks, until next time remember as always to sit back, relax and continue to sip long and prosper cheers!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wine of the Week: Mondavi 2010 Reserve Chardonnay


Welcome to Monday, I trust everyone had a fantastic weekend full of great wine, tasty dishes and most of some breath-taking football action. I know I had a little of all three, while some aspects of it was a bit more challenging than the others, all in all it, there are no complaints to be found here.

I like so many other bloggers, received a sample of this very tasty Robert Mondavi Reserve Chardonnay, vintage 2010, their Napa Valley Chardonnay and the Private Selection. So you've seen many reviews of this wine already or you will be seeing them in multitude in the coming weeks, so please stand-by.

The Mondavi brand is one which almost everyone [vino-sapiens] is aware of or is at least familiar with in some small way. But honestly folks I get a sample of this wine every year, but I don't think it has ever made its way to my wine of the week list. The reason I say that is because I want convey to you, that I thought this vintage from Carneros really stands out for me, far more than it has in previous years. So much in fact I scored this wine 91 points.

This wine stands out in my mind and that of even Mrs. Cuvee who gave it her “good” affirmation, as one of the better Chardonnay’s I’ve had all year, especially at its reasonable price point. On the Mondavi website this wine has a SRP of $40, but a quick look at Costco and you’ll find it well under $30. Bonus: You don’t have to me a member to purchase wine or other adult beverages at Costco in California.


In the glass a crisp, hay colored core warmly greets you at the door. After being welcomed inside and stepping up to your first slurp, bam bright minerality, a creamy texture, a bit of lemon curd, ripe pear, green apple, with nectarine fruit piling on for good measure. According to the tech-note all of the grapes for the 2010 Vintage were sourced from the renowned Hyde Vineyard, in the Carneros region of Napa Valley.
 
For the folks wondering about barrel regiment [15 months total], there’s just a touch of oak and lee stirring action ["Sur lie"] which adds a lush richness to the palate [Burgundian-style barrels, 68% new French oak for fermentation]. I found it an ideal food-wine ready to take on a variety of dishes. The finish just lingers on the palate like an urban outdoorsman waiting to greet you as you exit the freeway; this wine has the structure and acidity to go the distance if you are so inclined.

I paired this wine with easy-breezy recipe that is in what Mrs. Cuvee calls my go-to recipe box, which is easy that even a cave-man like me can pull it off so easily. It’s the ever wonderful Chicken Marsala, just don’t forget you need to have a 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine, so make sure you have a bottle hanging about in the pantry. Here is the link to preparing this very simple, yet satisfying dish, which will make you look like a rock-star at home if you prepare this for the Mrs. Until next time folk, remember as I always say, sip long and prosper cheers!


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