Monday, May 28, 2007

wow - big flavors for memorial day

Big steak , big wines. Ribeyes off the grill are full of bold flavors and yummy marbling. To stand up to all that flavor a bold wine is in order, and firm tannins help 'cleanse the palate' between juicy bites of fattier cuts of beef. Both Siduri's Van Der Kamp Vineyard pinot noir (2002) and rockroom's Mendocino zinfandel (2005) were up to the challenge. Of course a nice cabernet is the go-to in situations like this, but these alternative did just fine for us.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

w.o.w. - more burgundian than burgundy ?

This week Kala hosted (hostessed?) a cozy wedding shower wine tasting in honor of one of our own co-op charter member (congrats Julie H!) and in the mix was a real beauty of a chardonnay. Not to take away from the beauty of the shower attendees, of course, (whew) but this 2005 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars "Karia" chardonnay was put up against a 2002 Chassagne-Montrachet white burgundy and emerged the clear fave. And not because this crowd was seeking a California butter-bomb cocktail chard. In fact, the Karia had brighter lemony acidity and all the mineral flavors of a good white burgundy but also had elements of tropical fruit with a long, soft finish. No harsh finish, no alcohol heat and NO big buttery vanilla-laden oak flavors to mask more subtle elements. A charming wine at about $30 that is pretty widely available at well stocked wine shops (our bottle came from the new Austin Spec's North). Terrific with steamed artichoke hearts dipped in aioli (as in the photo).

Friday, May 18, 2007

2005 Rhone blend(s)

For co-op folks making the 2005 Rhone Blend - it is now bottled, labeled and ready to go! Now strictly speaking, a "Rhone Blend" is made exclusively from varietals typical to the Rhone River region of southern France. For reds this would mean primarly grenache and syrah. When we made our blend in 2005 we also included some petite sirah which, DNA testing has proven, is a cross of syrah and a lesser known rhone varietal called peloursin. So petite sirah is Rhone too and we threw a little in our mix. However, when tasting through various blends on the way to coming up with our final wines to bottle, we tried one combo that included a bit of unoaked 2005 zinfandel (certainly not a Rhone varietal) - it was really nice! The bright fruit of the zin complemented the grenache-oriented aromas and filled a flat spot in the mid-palate flavor. Not sure what to call this blend, I just went with Red #1. So here is what we ended up with and what is going in each case of "Rhone Blend" for 2005:

Grenache (2 btls): We made a small batch of just grenache for blending purposes and with a chunk of that we decided to make a Chateuneuf du Pape style blend: 80% grenache, 15% syrah, 5% petite sirah.

GSPS (2 btls): This was our primary blend: 50% grenache, 38% syrah and 12% petite sirah blended as crushed grapes, fermented, pressed and aged together (some in oak and some in stainless steel).

Red #1 (8 btls): Mostly Rhone (41/31/8% of grenache, syrah & petite sirah) but with a bit of zinfandel (20%, not 10% as the label designer (me) typo-ed on the label) this is a well-rounded table red with enough acidity to play nicely with food but enough flavor to sip on its own.

So there is the lineup - next time you are by the rockroom be sure to pick up your wine!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

w.o.w. - bloody good! bloody cheap!

For the second week in a row your wallet/pocketbook/finance manager/sugar daddy is going to be very pleased with the wine-of-the-week. The Torres Family of eastern Spain (ya know, Catalunya, Barcelona, funny language roughly resembling spanish...) cranks out a range of good wines - white, pink, red - all nice. As we roll into summer I thought you might like to try their 2005 Sangre de Toro ("blood of the bull"), a light red that pairs easily with many foods (pictured here with Jessie's stir-fried berries over Blue Bell homemade vanilla). This dry fruit-filled red is a blend of garnacha and carenena - so maybe think French Cote du Rhone. Tannins are very subtle and there is no noticeable oak making this a nice quaffer - try it with grilled salmon, a salami sandwich, spaghetti or a nice duck confit. At $7 a bottle you will not be disappointed.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

w.o.w. - cheap, easy and lots of passion

I could make some comparison between my preference for women and sauvignon blanc but that may offend someone so I won't go there. Instead I will just tell you about this $9 bottle of wine that is the wine-of-the-week. If you have been wondering when the w.o.w. will be something really easy to find and inexpensive, here it is - Monkey Bay sauvignon blanc (2006) from Marlborough, New Zealand. Great with seafood and lighter fare (even sushi as pictured here, although my preference would have been a Kirin Ichiban). What is fun about this wine, like many Marlborough sauv blancs is that it is LOADED with the standard sauv blanc aromas and flavors: fresh cut grass, grapefruit, gooseberry, lime and passionfruit, passionfruit, passionfruit. I promise you, if you have any of these items laying around the house, in the lawnmower bag or growing in the ship's hold, take a deep whiff and then try this wine - you will see the comparison. Now some would say there is just too much of all of the above, like drinking Jolly Ranchers or something. Maybe so, but nothing will educate the palate on these classic sauvignon blanc flavors like the stuff from Kiwi-land. Then you can move on to a nice, subtle, complex French Sancerre... or maybe even that rockroom Napa sauv blanc lurking in the background.