2005 Domaine du Dragon Cuvee Saint-Michel: Good, solid, smooth. We'd get this again.

july 26, 2009: we had this with a starter of homegrown mr. stripey tomatoes and a gift of a better boy tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil, sea salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. victoria thought that pairing wasn't ideal with this wine. but when we got to the chicago-style seasoned grilled steak and the carrots, the combination was very good. greg thinks the nose is a little sweet and sour and floral, and the flavor has a hint of cherry. he said you can definitely tell it has cabernet in it. victoria likes this wine. the nose reminds her of the scent of plums, and the mouth feel is smooth with very slight acidity. the flavor is hard to describe, but it's good enough to want to try again. and again. 13.4 percent alcohol. $18.99 at big red liquors in bloomington.


2005 Lirac Red Rhone: Good summer wine. We'd both get this again.

july 25, 2009: this is the bottle rob williamson had said tasted like bacon. greg popped it open to go along with our meal of grilled chicken seasoned with garlic and rosemary, broccoli and a very delicious sauteed vegetable dish with rosemary (sweet onions, orange bell pepper, and mushrooms=very tasty.) greg thinks the wine is excellent, it's a really good red rhone. when he had it before we ate, he said it had a hint of smokiness but it wasn't quite bacon, however. now that we've eaten our meal, he said the smokiness is overshadowed. victoria thinks this wine is a good light summer wine. it has a slight acidity, but there's enough flavor to balance that out. there are minor tannins, but they are light and match the humidity of the evening. she said she can't taste the bacon. 13.5 percent alcohol. $15.99 at big red liquors.


2008 Tres Ojos Garnacha Tempranillo Rose: Greg likes it. Victoria is not so sure.

june 13, 2009: we had this rose (i can't figure out how to do the accent on the "e" for what should be pronounced "rose-ay") with grilled pork, rice, carrots and broccoli. greg had chilled it to about 45 degrees. victoria thinks that was a little too cold to experience this wine, which seems to have a more floral nose as it warms up in the glass. greg said this spanish wine from the aragon region is a good hot-day wine. the nose is not that strong, but it's a rose, and he doesn't know if roses have strong noses. the nose is slightly fruity and has a catfood scent to it. he said a simple swirl of the glass enunciates the floral scent. the flavor is smooth, slightly sweet, with a minor bitterness. he said this is a good summer wine. greg said most of the roses he's had have been bitter, but this is one of the best roses that he's had. he said he had a cline rose at his grandfather's cabin with rob williamson, and he remembers that wine being sweeter, but he'd like to try the cline again to make sure. victoria said everything about this wine seems muted: the nose, which is pinched with floral scents; and then the flavor, which is abruptly chilled, with an edge of bitterness. this seems like a wine that needs to allow itself to relax. greg said i was "mean," we laughed. "too bitter?" "i don't see how you can see that, the sauvignon blancs are so damn bitter, just the grapefruit!" "taste buds are funky." all quotes, all things greg said :) he's probably going to kill me.


2008 Hugues Beaulieu Coteaux du Languedoc: Greg liked it. Victoria was more in the "eh" category.

july 6, 2009: we had this with tomato-garlic brats with mashed potatoes and zucchini marinated with balsamic vinagrette. the meal was delicious. victoria thought the wine, while refreshing, wasn't that flavorful. it was good for a hot, humid night like we had last night. but overall it reminded her of a pinot grigio -- light on flavor, but heavy on silky texture. greg, however, really liked it. he had had this bottle for the first time with his cousin rob williamson at their grandfather's cabin near bloomington and was really impressed with it. on a sticky night, victoria could see why it would be a welcome companion. she just wouldn't get it again. 12.5 percent alcohol. $7.99 at big red liquors in bloomington.

2006 Montebuena Rioja: Good second bottle.

july 7, 2009: we had what rob williamson recommended as a good second-bottle wine as our first (and only) wine of the evening, paired with baked chicken with broccoli and pasta. we had no problems with this spaniard tempranillo varietal. the wines from this region apparently have more in common with chianti than they do with the wines that replaced french imports after the phyloxera bug decimated vineyards around the world, according to snooth.com. greg said he really liked it. the nose had a raisin scent, and the overall taste was cherry. it was a 1 in terms of acidity (on a 1-5 acidity scale, with 5 being so acidic it's undrinkable). victoria said it had an earthy nose. the mouthfeel was thick with texture, but at the same time, it wasn't so heavy that it weighed down the dinner. we had a great time just talking and relaxing with this bottle. 13.5 percent alcohol. $8.99 with 10-percent big red case discount.


Wines that await us ...

july 5, 2009: on his trip up to bloomington this weekend, greg managed to stop by big red liquors to purchase both new and already-savored wines for our future enjoyment.

over the memorial day weekend, we purchased two cases at big red, and we have eight left to go through. they are:

- Justin Orphan, $19.99. (new)
- Cline Ancient Vine Zin, $13.49. (good)
- B.R. Cohn Silver Label Cab, $16.19. (new) UPDATE (corked)
- Evil Cab, $10.79. (new) UPDATE (greg and rob w. drank this)
- Guenoc Lake County Petite Syrah, $12.59 (usually very good)
- Dragon Cuvee St. Michel, $17.09. (new)
- Penfolds Shiraz, $8.99. (new)
- Montebuena Rioja, $8.99. (new) UPDATE (good)

this past weekend, greg purchased:

- La Mano Mencia, $9.99. (new)
- Pesquie Terrasses, $13.99. (new)
- Hughes Beaulieu, $7.99. (new times two)
- Tres Ojos Rosado, $7.99. (new)
- Segries Lirac Rouge, $15.99. (new)
- Xplorador Malbec, $6.99. (we're having this right now) (two)
- Guenoc Petite Syrah, $13.99. (why avoid a good thing?) (two)

2008 Vina Concha y Toro Xplorador Malbec: Light, and a great relief from the catastrophy that was the Guenoc Claret.

july 5, 2009: this spaniard, our second bottle of the night, was opened even before we had completed the 2006 guenoc north coast victorian claret (which victoria really did not like but greg said he'd give another try). this toro (castilla y leon) xplorador luckily is not corked like the first one we had a couple months ago (that one was a 2007). victoria said it's slightly sweet in a way that highlights the lightness of the wine. greg said that, for starters, it's not corky. it definitely has a tannic nose, a smooth consistency and a cherry flavor. he said it's a good buy for the price. 13.5 percent alcohol.
$6.99 at big red liquors in bloomington.

2006 Guenoc North Coast Victorian Claret: A bit sour. Not again, says Victoria. Greg is up for another try.

july 5, 2009: we had this with chicago-style seasoned grilled steak and homemade mashed potatoes. this claret is a mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot and petite sirah varietals, and it's from lake county, california. victoria popped it open while greg was taking a nap after his return home from bloomington, and at first, it was sour both on the nose and in taste. she decanted it, and now it's more mellow. it's slightly sweet, but the sourness is still there. the nose also gives off unpleasant alcohol vapors. she's not sure that she'd get it again. (about an hour later, that is now a definite "no.") greg said he wasn't sure that it went well with the steak, but victoria said steak was actually recommended for this wine. he said it's a little sour, but it's not bad. he thinks there are some tannins and it has some potential maybe with a different food pairing. it has a fruity nose and definitely has a very sweet, almost dark cherry taste to it, with a carmel aftertaste. unlike victoria, he said he would try it again just to give it a second chance. we both agree this might have just been a bad bottle. 13.5 percent alcohol. $13.49 with 10-percent case discount at big red liquors in bloomington.


2007 Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon: Spicy, and probably needs to breathe.

july 3, 2009: the fireworks are booming, the dogs are energized, and here victoria sits with her first glass of joel gott cab. she'd rather enjoy a quiet night at home after a long day at work, but this is the fourth of july weekend, after all; environmental madness is the only option available. luckily, this californian cab meets the crazed festivities halfway. with its spicy finish, it's not too heavy to be burdensome on a hot summer night. but neither is it so flavorful that it balks at any thoughts beyond it. so ... our new 7-week-old daschund puppy shelby has found her bark, and against our 40-pound shepherd mix, that's quite an accomplishment. luckily there's an end to this latest of american revolutions. now they sit, quietly, as jelly roll morton plays in the background. there's a reason for the fireworks after all, especially with a napa valley cab sourced from the mendocino coast, paso robles and lake county. 14.3 percent alcohol. $17.59 at winetree.


2005 Santa Ema Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: Pretty decent for the price.

july 1, 2009: victoria had the day off again and so she made pizza with a topping of mozzarella, diced tomatoes and spicy italian sausage. the pizza was relatively good considering it was a tomato explosion. greg said the pairing was tasty. he described the wine as a good cabernet with a good tannic nose. the flavor is smooth and not very acidic. victoria said it started out gently, giving off a light impression. this cab had a cherry flavor with slight tannins, and it was mildly acidic, but not in a terribly obtrusive way. we'd both get it again. this is from the maipo valley of central valley in chile. 14 percent alcohol. $8.99 with 10-percent discount at big red liquors in bloomington, ind.