2006 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc: Lemon and grapefruit, crisp yet smooth

may 26, 2010:  it's sauvignon blanc season! and this cloudy bay was the perfect end to a beautiful, blue-sky day. victoria picked this up at winetree and then swung by schnucks to get chicken filets and baby leeks. then she sliced up garlic, a small amount of sliced green onions and scraped off bits of lemon zest and fried them lightly in olive oil. she added the thin chicken strips and covered them with onion salt and dried herbs de provence, with scatterings of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

this marlborough turned out wonderfully. the nose on this cloudy bay wasn't as aromatic as some other new zealand sauvignon blanc we've had (like the spy valley). but the lemon and grapefruit flavor, and the crisp yet creamy, smooth finish, were a great match with this chicken. the baby leeks weren't as sweet as victoria hoped -- actually, next time, it'd be better to go with full-grown leeks instead.

victoria thinks greg would probably not like this sauvignon blanc. there's not much sweetness to it, but she thinks this has too much grapefruit, which he really despises.

13.5 percent alcohol. $24.99 at winetree.


Lentil soup: No wine this time

march 23, 2010: we had all the ingredients, and plenty of time, so victoria figured why not? this lentil soup recipe is simmering on the stove right now: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Lentil-Soup/Detail.aspx

haven't tried it yet, though.

UPDATE: victoria loves it! the vinegar really makes a difference. with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, this is a really good soup. greg agrees :)


2004 de Ladoucette Pouilly-Fume: Silky, lemony, easy to drink

march 21, 2010: victoria prepared emeril lagasse's yummy creamy chicken via http://www.emerils.com/recipe/4990/Yummy-Creamy-Chicken, and we followed that up with a salad mixed with mustard vinaigrette and goat cheese. both recipes were very good.

we paired this frenchman with a pouilly-fume that greg bought at big red liquors while he was in bloomington visiting his family. the store had this wine on sale for about $16, which was significantly down from its starting price of roughly $40. greg is not usually a fan of sauvignon blanc, but he liked this wine because it had a very minor grapefruit flavor. he said the nose was citrus and sweet, as was the flavor. he said it was best chilled. victoria said it didn't have much of a nose, but the texture was smooth and silky. the flavor was slightly lemon with some honey. she said it could be described as a creamy wine that was easy to drink. the honey flavor was more pronounced as the wine warmed up in the glass. 12.5 percent alcohol.

also, since we paired the charles krug sauvignon blanc with the goat cheese salad, we were able to compare the ladoucette as well. we thought the pouilly-fume was rounder and softer than the krug.


2008 Charles Krug Peter Mondavi Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc: Silky, gentle, light on nose, peach flavor

march 20, 2010: victoria said the nose on this californian is lightly sweet but nowhere as aromatic as many other new zealand sauvignon blanc we've had. the color is golden, the texture silky with minor acidity. the flavor is somewhat sweet, with peach and lemon overtones, but it has a short finish. not much grapefruit flavor to this wine. greg might like it. it's a light, gentle, contained wine that's very easy to drink and has few rough spots. 13.7 percent alcohol. purchased at winetree for $17.99.

UPDATE: greg and victoria shared the rest of this bottle on march 21. we paired it with a salad mixed with a mustard vinaigrette and goat cheese. greg said the nose was more in line with traditional sauvignon blanc, with minor grapefruityness to the flavor. but he said it's smooth, silky and tastes like nectar. victoria agreed that this charles krug went very well against the salad. it cut the acidity of the vinaigrette.

2006 Potts Family Langhorne Crossing Bleasdale: Smooth, good value.

march 18, 2010: victoria prepared grilled green pepper brats (well, greg actually grilled them); fried sliced potatoes with yellow onions, garlic, sea salt, green onions, and dried italian seasoning; and boiled artichokes with a dijon mustard mayonnaise. we paired this with this australian, which was a blend of 52 percent cabernet sauvignon, 27 percent malbec, 15 percent shiraz, and 6 percent petit verdot. this was an interesting mix of varietals. we had this with brian fribley after he had worked most of the day on the landscaping in the back yard (which is going to look awesome when it's done!) jennifer, unfortunately, was unable to come to dinner (she had to pick up dharma.)

this wine was very good. we all agreed it had a fruity nose, with a concentrated and smooth texture. we'd all get this one again. 14 percent alcohol. purchased at winetree for $10.59.


1997 Corral Creek Vineyards Chehalem Pinot Noir: Acidic, earthy nose

march 14, 2010: this was our second bottle of the evening against the two varieties of roasted chicken. alan said it went well against the lemon in the chicken, which took away any noticeable acidity in the wine. what was left, he said, was a very enjoyable bouquet. he really liked it. but he agreed there was some acidity. victoria said this wine was more acidic than the 1998, but the nose was somewhat sweet yet earthy.

1998 Corral Creek Vineyards Chehalem Pinot Noir : Wonderful!

march 14, 2010: we had victoria's parents over for dinner tonight. tonight we decided to prepare two roasted chickens. the first was primarily rosemary and bay leaf via http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/perfect-roast-chicken-recipe/index.html. the second was topped with a half-pound of bacon and stuffed with lemons, thyme and garlic via http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-and-garlic-roast-chicken-recipe/index.html. (we all thought emeril's recipe was much more full-flavored, though ina garten's recipe had its own positive subtleties.)

now to the origin of these wines, or rather, how we were able to get our hands on such rare bottles. we were able to open these two wines due to somewhat convoluted circumstances. alan bought these two rare small-vineyard chahalem pinot noir from his old friend pete lowery and pete's brother, sam. pete's wife was at one time victoria's au pair in oregon (when victoria was about 2 years old). pete and helene le dantec live outside paris now, but they met in portland, and alan and marie-paule have kept in touch with them ever since (that means for more than 30 years). we thank pete and sam so much for letting us try these!

anyway, onto the wine experience. we all agreed the 1998 was fantastic. alan said it had a nose of dried fruit, with slight alcohol vapors, though it wasn't overpowering. he said the flavor was somewhat blackberry. he thought this pinot had entered the tertiary stage, so the nose was more in the bouquet phase. the interesting thing to him was that this was a delicious wine right out of the bottle -- round, smooth and had excellent extraction.

victoria said this was a gentle, graceful and well-balanced wine. the nose was subdued, as was the flavor, which was blackberry. the flavor began sweet then flowed easily into slight acidity before ending tannic. this was a wine that was greater than the sum of its parts.

greg said he really enjoyed this wine. he said it had a blackberry flavor, with minor tannins that made it dry toward the end.

marie-paule enjoyed the wine but said she'd rather not comment.

14.5 percent alcohol. purchased from pete and sam lowery.

2006 Guenoc Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon: Tasty, and well-priced

march 13, 2010: we had this with chicago-style seasoned grilled steak, pureed roasted butternut squash (this is victoria's favorite butternut squash recipe), and steamed broccoli. greg said this wine had a somewhat sweet nose with a little raisin, but the texture was smooth. the flavor was slightly blackberry. victoria said the nose was blackberry and caramel. the texture was smooth with minor tannins. she said it was fruitier than other cabernet sauvignon we've had lately (those have been more earthy.) this is a good value wine. 14.5 percent alcohol. purchased at big red liquors for under $15.

2006 DB (de Bortoli) Shiraz Cabernet: Serious, fun, good value.

march 12, 2010: after a long week for both of us, we stood in our kitchen friday night, talked and drank this bottle from start to finish. greg said it had a nice nose and reminded him of cabernet sauvignon (this bottle was 80 percent shiraz, 20 percent cab), with a slight sweetness/cherry overtone to the flavor. he said the texture was smooth and that it would go well with a steak. but it was all really good by itself. victoria said it was jammy and smooth, with a line of bitterness to the end (which is common for the shiraz we've had lately). it had a slight caramel nose and was a bit sweet to the flavor. 13.5 percent alcohol. purchased at winetree. about $10.

photo credit: http://www.debortoli.com.au

2007 Saint-Veran Domaine de la Feuillarde white Burgundy: Grapefruit.

march 7, 2010: this was an odd wine. we were expecting it to be more concentrated and developed given that it was a white burgundy. instead it was grapefruity, acidic and crisp. alan said this was a strange thing to say about a white burgundy, but he hadn't had this particular bottle. we paired it with two pompano we purchased at the newburgh schnucks. greg stuffed the gutted portions with rosemary, thyme and sage, and he covered it with butter and rock salt. then he baked it. the fish turned out very well ... it's called butterfish for a reason; it was thick and meaty, but also rich. this white burgundy was around 12.5 or 13 percent alcohol. about $16 at vecchio's italian market. it seems like a good, refreshing summer wine.


2006 Argyle Reserve Pinot Noir: Definitely silky and full-flavored.

march 5, 2010: this night would have been perfect if the kitchen sink hadn't clogged. but that's neither here nor there, since we still managed to have fun. this willamette valley, ore., pinot was, on its own, rich, definitely cherry ... a silky tie on a stained-suit evening. here was the menu: roasted salmon with oranges, fresh dill and onions via http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Salmon-with-Orange-Herb-Sauce-102205, fresh steamed green beans, and butternut squash au gratin via http://www.winespectator.com/recipes/show/id/516.

greg was still managing despite his sinus infection, and the first thing he noticed about this wine was its sourness. victoria didn't see that. to her, it had the flavor of cherry cola (like the 2007 non-reserve we had last sunday), was silky, rich and definitely full-flavored. this was a wine that had personality, and confidence, despite the disaster that was the kitchen sink (which greg fixed an hour later, thankfully). definitely recommend it. though next time, victoria wouldn't pair it with this butternut squash au gratin ... that dish was too sweet against the orange juice on the salmon. she thought it was best to, instead, add the saltiness of a russian potato dish. 14.5 percent alcohol. purchased at winetree. $48.