Ezra B. Hot Toddy: Another good one, especially for congestion.

feb. 28, 2010: greg was nice enough to buy victoria her own ezra b. whisky just so she could make her own hot toddy, which was, tonight, especially helpful. congestion = a darned hard thing to get over. here's the recipe, one of the best things ever, via http://www.drinkstreet.com/searchresults.cgi?drinkid=1063:
1 ounces Whiskey; 1 ounce Honey; 1/3 ounce Lemon Juice; 3 ounces Water (Hot)
If you have a microwave, the easiest way to make this drink is to warm the honey and lemon juice for about half a minute and then to add hot water and the whiskey. Otherwise, we recommend that you stir the honey and lemon juice into extremely warm water, allow it to cool slightly, and add the whiskey.

2007 Argyle Pinot Noir: Silky and flavorful. Definitely a good find!

feb. 28, 2010: victoria had bought this willamette valley, ore., pinot a couple of weeks previously at winetree. she was nervous about it, since other pinots we've had have been acidic and very tempermental in terms of food pairings. but this bottle turned out wonderfully.

she paired it with a salmon recipe whose prime ingredients were oranges and dill via http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Salmon-with-Orange-Herb-Sauce-102205, russian (red creamer) potatoes with dill and garlic via http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1846,138163-228202,00.html and freshly steamed asparagus. these were very good on their own. victoria thought the salmon recipe was one of the best salmon recipes we've made, mostly because it was still possible to get a good sense of the salmon itself, which was not overwhelmed by the orange juice and scallions.

greg was suffering from the beginnings of a sinus infection, so while he liked the meal and the wine, he was not as able to distinguish the flavors of the pinot. victoria wasn't, either: this oregon pinot was actually hard to pin down. it was medium-bodied, smooth, hardly acidic at all, and had hints of almost cranberry and cherry -- without being bland. it was really one of the better pinot noirs we've had, which may be because of the price (around $28). other pinots we've had have been in the under-$20 range and very acidic. but not this one, which we'd definitely get again. it helps that this wine was ranked 90 on wine spectator. 14 percent alcohol.


2007 Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon: Not that impressive.

feb. 26, 2010: victoria popped this open so she and greg could share it while she was on the phone with her good friend denise. greg liked it, but he said he was not feeling too good, and his sense of taste was a bit muted. victoria said it was slightly tannic, with some plum flavor, but otherwise it wasn't that flavorful or distinguishable. this californian was 59 percent from napa county and 41 percent from sonoma county. about $15 on http://www.winelibrary.com/.


2006 Gabbiano Chianti Classico: Slight strawberries, but otherwise in the eh category.

feb. 22, 2010: victoria cooked up some pasta with sweet italian sausage, tomatoes, garlic, onions and parmesan. this tuscan was dry against the main dish, but it wasn't that flavorful. it had a nose of strawberries and kind of reminded victoria of a french pinot noir we've had (a 2006 nicolas potel bourgogne), without being that remarkable on its own. could get more flavorful wines for this price. 13 percent alcohol. about $12 at schnucks.

2006 Durigutti Bonarda: Likeable, though a bit rougher than the Justin.

feb. 20, 2010: this argentinian was fruity, with tannins, and was heavier than the justin. greg said he liked it, and it was also less than half the price of the justin. victoria said it had a slight blueberry nose, with some roughness to the texture that reminded her of a malbec. it was like trails of torn silk, leading toward a happy evening of kind words and laughter. 13.9 percent alcohol. about $12 at winetree.

2006 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon: Very, very good, and not that pricey.

feb. 20, 2010: greg seared the backstrap of the button buck he shot in the fall and covered it with blueberry gravy he made from scratch (this one was definitely worth preparing again!) earlier, we stopped by winetree to purchase some wines. he bought two bottles: this paso robles, calif., and a durigutti bonarda (we'll get to that later.)

greg loved the justin. he said he had no complaints. the nose was almost carmely, slightly tannic, with a fruity nose. he said it's very smooth and went well with the venison. he said the flavor was almost black currant. victoria said the nose was carmel and of crayons (oddly, kind of like the bogle phantom, though they are different varietals.) the texture had slight tannins, with a fruity flavor and minor earthiness. it's definitely worth the price and much better than the justification we had on christmas eve. it also has some slight cinnamon to the end. 14.5 percent alcohol. about $27.


chapeau apricot lambic beer: would not get this again

feb. 18, 2010: victoria and greg shared this lambic after a delicious dinner of seasoned chicken that greg grilled up for a late-night dinner. we were both disappointed with this lambic. well, greg's not really a regular lambic drinker, but even this bottle was something he wasn't prepared for. first of all, it had no fizz, no foam. it was purely concentrated apricot, yet was heavy and cloying. neither of us finished our glasses. also, we couldn't find the alcohol percentage on this bottle. purchased at vecchio's italian grocery store in newburgh.

2007 The Black Chook Shiraz-Viognier: Greg liked it, Victoria thought it ended bitterly

feb. 19, 2010: this mclaren vale australian was paired with macaroni victoria covered with sage buttered bread crumbs and butter. greg brought out the rest of the gorgonzola we got at the italian grocery store in newburgh, and that match was best against this 95 percent shiraz, 5 percent viognier.

greg liked it. he said the nose was mildly tannic, while the flavor was sweet with a dry, tannic feeling and a slight bitterness toward the end. overall, he said, it was a good wine. victoria said this had strong alcohol vapors, with a deep, dark magenta tone. the flavor was almost like cranberry without the sweetness, with a good amount of tannins. it wasn't that sweet and ended with strong bitterness. she wasn't sure she would get this again, though greg said he would.

ben riggs was the winemaker. 15 percent alcohol. about $19 at winetree.


Bread pudding: Still in the oven.

feb. 14, 2010: greg's still not feeling well, so with a little bit of day-old baguette, victoria created this bread pudding via http://www.momswhothink.com/easy-recipes/bread-pudding-recipe.html. still have yet to try it ... might add a bit of heated egg nog to the top of it when it's done. UDPATE: greg really liked it, but victoria is having sugar overload. this is a very rich dish, so serve with caution.

2008 d'Arenberg The Stump Jump Shiraz: Fruity, but mostly bitter.

feb. 14, 2010: greg wasn't feeling well today (mostly as a result of last night's acidic wines), and so the sheboygan and andouille sausages victoria grilled up, as well as the leeks and broccoli she steamed, and the leftover gorgonzola polenta, were hard for him to eat much of. he didn't really drink much of the wine, either, which means we can have more tomorrow when he (hopefully) feels better. (victoria is marinating a boneless pork roast with cumin, lime juice, cilantro, salt, sugar, cardamon, vinegar and olive oil that should go well with australian shiraz.) victoria had a couple of glasses of this australian, and her impressions were that it was inky, concentrated, slightly fruity but more bitter towards the end. this was a strong wine, but it went in a direction she was hoping to avoid, which seems common with mclaren vale shiraz. 14.5 percent alcohol. around $10 at winetree.

2008 Mollydooker Two Left Feet Shiraz: Split ruling.

feb. 15, 2010: victoria bought a boneless pork roast at the newburgh butcher shop on sunday. we decided to use a lime-garlic recipe via http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Slow-Roasted-Pork-with-Lime-Mojo-102862 and to marinate it overnight on sunday.

on monday, we paired it with the rest of the stump jump shiraz and a freshly opened bottle of 2008 mollydooker's two left feet (sarah and sparky marquis) shiraz. greg said the mollydooker was too concentrated for him and that it needs to air out more. it had an alcohol vapor but a sweet nose. if it mellowed out more, he said it would definitely be a good jammy wine. he said it did mellow a bit through the evening but it was slightly bitter. victoria said she got the black currant nose. it was fruity, smooth and had a concentrated flavor with slight tannins. this was a hit-you-hard wine, something to have fun with but that you could also take seriously. 16 percent alcohol. south australia. 68 percent shiraz, 17 percent merlot, 15 percent cabernet sauvignon. produced and bottled in mclaren vale. $20 range at winetree.

UPDATE: we finished the mollydooker on tuesday night. greg was hoping it would open up more, but he was disappointed. victoria thought the nose leaned toward tar. this was definitely an inky wine.
ANOTHER UPDATE: we heard from the mollydooker team via email, and apparently the best way to enjoy this wine is after "the mollydooker shake." for more info, check out http://www.mollydookerwines.com/web/mollydooker_shake.cfm. the reason has to do with the nitrogen in the wine. it's a great video.


2007 Elysium California Black Muscat: Delicious!

feb. 13, 2010: our third wine of the evening, this dessert wine was both the most inexpensive and the best of all three. greg said it was fantastic, with a raspberry and black currant nose and a smooth and sweet flavor. victoria said it reminded her of the flavor of jam. it was sweet and fruity and substantially lighter compared to the kamen and caymus we had earlier. it went well with chocolate treats given to us by aaron and kary hacker. greg said he'd like to get more bottles of this. 15 percent alcohol. $18 at winetree.

2005 Kamen Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Tightly wound, too young.

feb. 13, 2010: we had this with the caymus (see below post) and were also not impressed, though it was a better bottle than the napa valley speciman. victoria said it was tightly wound, with a nose of berries, caramel and chocolate, but was very tannic and had to be decanted for some time before it was more drinkable. greg said this cab has definitely not devolved as the 1990 caymus has. it still smells like cabernet, but it's almost too young. the nose is almost like pure alcohol, and the flavor is bitter. victoria was more unwilling to give up on this wine, saying it may need to be decanted for longer than it has been. 14.9 percent alcohol. $80 at varsity liquors.
UPDATE: after keeping it in the decanter overnight, we had this on sunday night. no dramatic improvement.

1990 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon: Maybe a bad bottle?

feb. 13, 2010: we celebrated st. valentine's day early this year with steak au poivre via http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Steak-au-Poivre-233549, baked acorn squash via http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/classic_baked_acorn_squash/ and gorgonzola polenta via http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Gorgonzola-Polenta-240109. (the acorn squash turned out the best, as the steak was a little too salty and the polenta wasn't that distinctive.)
we paired this with this napa valley cabernet sauvignon that was given to us as a gift from alan. on snooth, it's priced at $199.99. (he didn't purchase it at that price, though. we'll have to ask him when he bought these bottles.) we think we may have had a bad bottle. after a couple of hours of decanting, this bottle, according to greg, had a green pepper nose with a hint of raisin (which he did not like at all.) he said he can't believe it's worth the money. greg said that when we opened it, it had a more standard cab nose. but 1.5 hours later, it is so sour that he can't drink it. in actuality, he thinks we should pour it out. (we decided to wait until sunday to see if it improves.)
victoria thinks it has an earthy nose with some iron, but the flavor is acidic and sour. it may indeed be a bad bottle (or at least we hope it is), and we are not impressed.
13 percent alcohol. gift.
UPDATE: after keeping it in the decanter all night, we were hoping for the best. unfortunately, it had completely devolved into the flavor of dirt from which it came. a big, big disappointment.


Lentil soup: On the stove and ready to go.

feb. 7, 2010: here's the link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/lentil-soup-recipe/index.html. 7 cans of chicken broth instead of 12, added our own frozen home-grown roma tomatoes to the mix, no celery, powered thyme instead of fresh sprigs, also a can of strained garbanzo beans.

2008 Cave de Pomerols Hugues de Beauvignac Coteaux du Languedoc Picpoul-de-Pinet: Refreshing.

feb. 7, 2010: we opted for a 12.5 percent alcohol wine as our follow-up super bowl smile, having considered a bogle phantom, montes malbec and even an argyle pinot noir. sitting in front of the tv, this is truly a relaxing evening, just spending time together as the dogs sleep nearby.
as for this languedoc, greg liked it. he said the nose was slightly citrus, with a hint of cut grass. the flavor was a bit sour or orange, but the texture was smooth and gentle. it kind of reminded him of a sauvignon blanc, except there was no grapefruit. victoria thought this was a good second-bottle wine, light on flavor though the nose was, agreeably, citrus in nature. the flavor was somewhat lemon in a refreshing kind of way. she could see how this might be a good summer wine. about $8 at big red liquors in bloomington.

2006 Beringer Napa Valley Vineyards Merlot: Good value.

feb. 7, 2010: as the colts vs. saints played in the background, we paired this with a roasted duck recipe via http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/reviews/Crisp-Roast-Duck-235744 that we'd change to 30 minutes the first side, another 30 the next, and then 15 more for a total of 1:15 in the actual oven (the skin wasn't crispy enough with the original recipe, which we made in the stand-alone oven, though the flavor turned out well. the original recipe had the duck turn to 175 degrees after only 1:10 in the stand-alone oven, which was 10 degrees above what was necessary). we also had homemade garlic salt mashed potatoes, and leftover carrots and green beans.

victoria thought the nose on this napa valley was chocolate and berry, while the taste was full flavored and fruity, with a good amount of tannins. greg said this wine was initially acidic before we decanted it. later, he said the nose was blueberry, and he could smell the tannins. with more decanting, this merlot had a carmel nose, with a smooth and slightly sweet and then sour flavor (though not in a bad way), he said. greg added that it reminded him of a cabernet sauvignon, and victoria agreed. 14.3 percent alcohol. about $16 at schnucks.


2007 Maison Louis Latour Pinot Noir: Rusty, and too young.

feb. 6, 2010: we paired this red burgundy with grilled chicken spiced with a garlic and red pepper rub, cauliflower in coconut-bechamel sauce, and leftover carrots and green beans. victoria said it was like an acidic, rusty nail right out of the gate. it had slight leanings -- actually more in the "barely there" category -- toward strawberry and cinnamon, but unfortunately, the nose and the flavor were firmly of iron. greg agreed, though he added that the nose was sweet despite its rusty luster. 13 percent alcohol. purchased for $15.29 at varsity liquors with a 10-percent 6-bottle discount.

2006 Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon: A second- or third-tier wine (not so good).

feb. 5, 2010: when first opened, this napa valley cab was definitely acidic. we decanted it, but that didn't seem to help it much. victoria said it was definitely a very tannic wine. the nose was round, with berries, but the flavor was non-existent. greg said the flavor was sour, while the nose was tannic with lots of alcohol vapor. victoria said she was glad this wasn't the main wine of the evening. greg said a steak might have mellowed out this cab, since the richness of the steak might have counterbalanced the acidity. neither of us want to get this wine again. we think this oberon is one of varsity liquors' via http://www.facebook.com/pages/Evansville-IN/Varsity-Liquors-Evansville/196464046283?v=wall marketing ploys, since this $15 or so bottle was placed with the $30-$40 bottles (which are near a heater, oddly enough.) 13.7 percent alcohol. photo credit: http://www.wine.com/.

2006 3 Rings Barossa Valley Shiraz: Split ruling.

feb. 5, 2010: we paired this australian with boudin and andouille sausage, steamed carrots and salt-boiled green beans. greg really liked the nose, which he said was peppery when it was first opened. after we decanted it, he said the scent of the tannins was more pronounced, and it became more raisiny. he said the flavor was sweet at first, the texture was smooth, with a tannic bite at the end. to him, a very good wine that went well with the boudin and andouille sausage. victoria said the nose was the best part of this wine: it was chocolate and leather, with bits of cherry. but the flavor was bitter. it was like a punch in the face -- for no logical reason. she said this wine comes off as unbalanced. victoria wouldn't get this wine again, but greg would. there is a good amount of sediment in this bottle. 15 percent alcohol. purchased at varsity liquors. $17.09 with 6-bottle 10-percent discount.


2006 Saint-Drezery Chateau Puech-Haut: Eh.

feb. 2, 2010: another leftover from emilie's celebration night. neither of us liked this languedoc. victoria said the nose is of french tap water in brittany, slightly floral, with a sour, grapefruity flavor. greg agreed that the nose is floral and of grass clippings. he said it smells like the freshly lowered tide at cancale. he said the texture is smooth, and flavor tastes like it smells, with hints of sweetness. victoria didn't finish her glass. 14.5 percent alcohol. gift.
update: alan said, the next night, that he thought this bottle was corked.

1990 Macon Clesse Quintaine Domaine de la Bongrain: Just as good as we remember.

feb. 2, 2010: emilie brought this over -- one of a couple of leftovers, presumedly, from the night she completed her national board exam for occupational therapy. (emilie, you've passed, no question about it!) victoria said the nose was honey and lemon, and the texture was soft and smooth. the color was a deep, dark yellow. greg said it had a terrific nose, with a honey and lemon flavor, a delicious wine. 14 percent alcohol. gift.