Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Zolo, Coppola and Rioja...Oh My!

Man, I am really having trouble thinking up catchy titles these days.  Oh well, I tried.

As many of you know, I have a new blogging gig on Zane Lamprey's Drinking Made Easy site.  Some of my posts here will correspond with my posts there.  But I'll still be doing standalone posts here since I try to keep a theme on his site but here, not so much.  And today is no exception.  I have 3 wines to tell you about that, well, have nothing in common, really.  So, here goes.

The first wine I'd like to tell you about was actually chosen by my dear husband, Brian.  We picked up up at ABC Wine Country for a wonderful $9.99.  It was a 2009 Malbec by Zolo in Mendoza, Argentina.  The bottle said, "Our Malbec grapes are selected from our estate vineyards located in the best wine-growing regions of Mendoza.  Located at various altitudes, each of these terroirs (OK, I had to look this means that the land from which the grapes are grown imparts a unique quality that is specific to that region.) provides a wonderful expression of fruit and varietal concentration."  Umm, OK so the grapes come from several different places with each place being at a different altitude with grapes from each part lending a different quality to the wine.  At least, that's what I THINK that means.  Anyway, the wine is aged in oak for 6 months and that comes through a bit in the taste.  I also detected hints of dark berries and plum.  I detected an almost flowery hint in the aroma.  It was an okay wine that seems to taste better after it had been open a bit so it probably just needs to breathe.  Brian seemed to like it so it's likely one we will get again.

The second wine is from the vineyard of famed movie director, Francis Ford Coppola.  Specifically, this was a 2008 Sauvignon Blanc from his Diamond Collection.  We picked this one up at ABC as well and it was $10.99.  Now, I think I've said this before but Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite white wine by FAR.  So, I love trying new ones.  This grapes for this wine, like the one above, come from several sources.  This wine is fermented in stainless steel to help retain the crisp acidity.  And crisp and acidic it was, but not overwhelmingly so.  It was also very bright and tasted of tropical fruits such as pineapple, as well as citrus fruits such as lemon and grapefruit.  It had a definite tropical fruit scent.  Recommended pairings were goat cheese and field greens, roast chicken and grilled fish.  I paired it with Spaghetti With Peas And Pancetta by Tyler Florence, which has goat cheese in it.  The pairing was WONDERFUL.  In fact, I just posted that recipe on my recipe blog today if you want to check it out.  I will definitely be buying this wine again.

The last wine I want to tell you about is a 2005 Rioja by Bodegas Arviza Crianza from Fuenmayor, Spain.  Wow, that's a mouthful!  This also came from ABC and retailed for $10.99.  This Rioja is blend of Temparnillo, Graciano and Garnacha.  The bottle boasts that the wine is "aged in oak barrels for 12 months in one of Rioja's oldest Bodegas, within ancient tunnels of the 16th century, built by hand with Roman flagstones."  Cool, a history lesson too!  I detected plum and cherry in the aroma with a bit of vanilla in the background.  It tasted of berries with a bit of spice and an almost smokiness with a bit of oakiness.  It was very different but in a good way.  The bottle recommended serving it at cellar temperature and serve with cheeses, pasta and all meat dishes.  We paired our with grilled flank steak and it went very well together.  Brian and I both likes it so this will also go on the keeper list!

Well, that's all I have for now.  My next post on DME should be up by this time next week and I'll post it here as well.  Happy drinking!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Drinking Green Without Spending A Lot Of Green – Part One

“Going Green” is a rapidly growing trend. It seems everyone is getting into buying organic, hormone free, wild caught and sustainable foods. The list goes on and on. But the downside is that going green tends to cost more green. I shop on a budget so I have my list of which fruits and veggies really should be bought organic and I try to plan meals so I can get the most bang for my buck. I had never really thought about drinking organic wine. I mean, I knew they were out there but I just figured they cost too much. But on a recent trip to my local Total Wine, I realized I was wrong. They had a HUGE display of organic wines from all over the world as well as many different varietals. Many of them were quite reasonable. So I loaded up on some research and got started.

The first two wines I tried were from Verdant Circle in California. I tried to do some research but I couldn’t find out much about them. They did have a Facebook page so I joined that and I was able to get a little more information to use when I sampled the wines.

The first Verdant Circle wine I tried was their Chardonnay. The bottle cost $9.99. The bottle indicated the grapes came from a vineyard in Mendocino County. According to their Facebook page, “Verdant Circle Chardonnay was fermented in stainless steel and barrel aged for four months to emphasize the fresh fruit flavors of the varietal. The finished wine has a steely, mineral structure with a backdrop of tropical fruit, citrus and peach flavors. Extremely versatile, our Chardonnay pairs well with wild hook and line caught salmon and other high omega-3 fish oil seafood.” I didn’t pair it with anything because I wanted to get the full experience of the wine mainly because I’m not a huge fan of Chardonnay. I did detect passion fruit and pineapple in the aroma. The taste was very pleasant. I detected hints of orange and peach with a touch of passion fruit. Overall, I enjoyed it very much and it made me rethink my stand on Chardonnay. It was definitely something I would purchase again.

The second one I tried was their Pinot Noir. Now I will be honest, the price was a BIT more than my usual limit. It cost $14.99. The Verdant Circle Facebook page said, “Verdant Circle Pinot Noir was grown, produced and bottled from our Windmill Ranch in the Arroyo Seco appellation. Made from three different grape clones and aged in French oak for six months, the finished wine has black cherry and plum fruit with a spicy nutmeg and cinnamon backnote. Soft and rich with a light tannin overlay, this Pinot has a nice lingering finish.” The Arroyo Seco appellation is located in Monterey County. Again, I drank the wine alone to get the full experience. I definitely detected plum fruit in the aroma as well as cherry and blackberry. These carried through to the taste and I also detected what tasted to me like pumpkin pie spice. I am fairly new to pinot noir so I am still feeling my way around that variety but the spice taste was a bit much for me. I may try it again paired with red meat, perhaps, to see if I feel any different. But given the price, I am in no rush to try it again.

The next two wines I tried were by Releaf Wines, located on the West Cape of South Africa. Releaf’s bottle stated that their “growers use sustainable agriculture to produce hand harvested, organically grown grapes.” It also stated they use partially recycled glass for their bottles and labels that contain sustainable ink and recycled paper. After doing some research, I found the web site for Organic Wine Trading Company which is Releaf’s importing partner. The site said that Releaf was started in 2001 on an old, neglected grain farm. The property had been uncultivated for 17 years and was used only for grazing cattle. No chemicals, pesticides or herbicides had been used on the land for 24 years making it an ideal spot to start growing organic grapes. Sounds like it would be perfect for hard core organic lovers and according to the site, it is also vegan although I’m not sure how a wine wouldn’t be vegan. But, what do I know?

The chenin blanc was the first wine I tried. It retailed for $7.99. I drank it alone at first but then I paired it with grilled chicken and risotto. I thought it went quite well together. It had a delightful aroma of melon, kiwi and tropical fruit, mainly pineapple…at least to my nose. Both of these carried through to the flavor that had the perfect amount of acidity. I also detected a hint of grapefruit. To me it seemed like a very good summer wine that I will likely buy again.

I then tried their Cabernet blend which retailed for $8.99. It was a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 20% Shiraz. It smelled of cherries and blackberries and tasted of the same with a hint of plum and maybe a tad of vanilla. It was light and very smooth. The bottle indicated would pair well with red meat or vegetarian dishes. I drank the first glass alone but paired the second glass with bacon wrapped filet. It went perfectly together. My husband liked it as well so it went on the keeper list.

So, as you can see, you can drink green while spending only a little green. And this is only the beginning. I have several more wines I still need to try so stay tuned for part two!