2008 Quattro Mani Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: Very disappointing

oct. 30, 2010: i was really, really hoping this would be worth it since we'd had a really excellent montepulciano in france recently. we'd walked by this quattro mani several times at winetree, stood by and pondered its 13 percent alcohol, read about its four celebrity italian winemakers (who remain incognito), etc. but it turns out this italian is more texture than flavor. strong on tannins, the nose is muted and the flavor is not that distinctive. this is a background wine, nothing spectacular. either we got a bad bottle, or the other reviews of this are way off. around $14.

UPDATE: the second night, this wine was sour, even though we'd sealed it with the rabbit. definitely wouldn't get this one again.


Butternut squash macaroni and cheese: Not as good as was hoped for. No wine this time

oct. 29, 2010: we are headed off to a halloween party, and i decided i'd try to make another butternut squash recipe via http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/macaroni-and-cheese-with-butternut-squash?comments_page=1&showComments=true&#conversation-container. this recipe wasn't terrible, it just wasn't that flavorful. it was a little dry, so my dad suggested that i melt a stick of butter and pour it over the top. i also added some more salt before baking it.


2007 De Bortoli Petite Sirah: Smooth, concentrated, excellent with Greg's lamb stew

oct. 27, 2010: unexpectedly, greg prepared lamb stew with carrots, potatoes and onions. it was delicious! so we paired it with this south eastern australian petite sirah, which was wonderful. this 14 percent alcohol speciman was definitely smooth and creamy, with a sweet but slightly earthy quality. i could see why this petite sirah was recommended with lamb (it would seem to hold up against lamb's typically gamey qualities), but the stew greg prepared was not gamey at all.

2007 Chrysalides et papillons Coteax du Languedoc: Gentle, soft, good nose.

oct. 24, 2010: emilie and i celebrated mom's birthday with mom and dad at their house in newburgh. dad made his sumac-marinated rotisserie chicken (delicious), and i made guacamole via http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/guacamole-recipe/index.html and butternut squash risotto (the squash was from our garden) via http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Butternut-Squash-Risotto-105725. emilie helped mom make her famous persimmon pudding, which was especially tasty this time, and we all had a very good dinner.

this languedoc was definitely soft. mom and dad had had it at a restaurant in new york, but dad said that bottle was an older vintage. he thought this wine could do with a little bit of aging. i thought the nose was definitely aromatic, berry-ish and very pleasant. the flavor wasn't especially distinctive, but two out of three isn't bad. i'm looking forward to trying this again a few years from now. 14 percent alcohol.


2009 Santa Barbara County Sauvignon Blanc Sea Glass: Crisp, light, easygoing

oct. 23, 2010: if you're looking for an unassuming sauvignon blanc, this californian is the one: it's like a supporting actor, the one you rely on when the person in front of you has just said something a bit questionable. easy to drink, it's almost got a fresh, peachy nose. the texture is smooth, creamy. and the flavor is light, a bit grapefruity at first but then, a couple hours on, more jumbled. 13.5 percent alcohol. winetree.

2009 Rodney Strong Russian River Valley Estate Vineyards Sonoma County Pinot Noir: A good food wine

oct. 21, 2010: sometimes salmon just pops in your head; more specifically, a recipe for salmon marinated in soy sauce and brown sugar, which was baked instead of grilled. and since i was in schnucks anyway, i decided to try a $16 pinot, which had been marked down from somewhere around $20. the recipe can be found here: http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/grilled-salmon-i/Detail.aspx but the wine, on first taste, was strawberry. it was light, smooth, with inklings of iron ... but not so far gone that it was distasteful. paired with this salmon, it was delicious, made sweet and smoother by the marinade. not a bad wine, considering it wasn't rated by wine spectator.

2006 St. Hallett Barossa Faith Shiraz: Wonderful

ah the world of barossa shiraz. i've recently realized that mclaren vale is barossa shiraz's bitter side, the one that makes barossa seem even more cheerful, fruity, creamy and smooth. this australian's nose was blackberry. would definitely get this again. 14.5 percent alcohol. winetree.

2007 Beringer Carneros Napa Valley Pinot Noir: Split opinion

greg really, really liked this wine. he said it was smooth with a good cherry flavor. but for me, this wine was slightly acidic, not very aromatic or clever overall. i thought it was a somewhat disappointing beringer find, since we usually have good experiences with their wines. 14.5 percent alcohol. i think it was sahara mart.

we had this with spicy greek yogurt marinated rotisseried chicken via this receipe: http://neckredrecipes.blogspot.com/2008/11/spicy-yoghurt-rotisserie-roast-chicken.html

2005 Santa Ema Syrah: Smooth, but tasted manufactured over the long haul

this chilean was smooth, no dispute about that. it was the flavor that i questioned. while greg liked it, i thought this was a wine that almost refused to evolve -- it was like that person at the party who is constantly pleasant, without showing any of their witty depths. that said, there was nothing really wrong with this wine. it just didn't change much over the two or so hours we had it open. 14 percent alcohol. sahara mart in bloomington.

2008 Cline Ancient Vines Contra Costa County Mourvedre: Slightly sweet, worthwhile

oct. 15, 2010: cline always seems to be reliable for us. this mourvedre was sweet at first, but over a two-hour dinner it held out, becoming smoother and richer as the night wore on. 14.5 percent alcohol. would definitely get this one again. schnucks.


2008 Valle d'Oro Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: Fruity and excellent!

oct. 2, 2010: we decided that on our last night in honfleur, we would have italian with a seafood twist. we ordered this italian, which was recommended by our waiter (who looked a bit like david finkelstein from college). this 13 percent alcohol speciman had a berry nose and was very fruity. it had some tannins and was quite good. greg agreed that it had a berry nose, was fruity and smooth, and was very, very pleasant. we both thought this was the best wine we had on this trip.

2009 Albrieres Vin de Pays d'Oc Chardonnay: Crisp

oct. 1, 2010: we had this chardonnay at la tortue, a very good restaurant just 10 or so minutes walking distance from hotel monet, which was within running distance of the cote de grace, in honfleur. i thought it was crisp, with some lemon. it went very well with my fish soup. no photo available.

2008 Chateau de Villeneuve Saumur Champigny: Good

sept. 30, 2010: i thought this loire valley red had a nose of brown sugar, with some green pepper to the flavor. it was tannic, with some black pepper at the end. greg liked it a lot, saying it was sweet and cherry in the nose, with slight tannins. he said it ended with some tartness, but it was smooth and pleasant overall. this was 13 percent alcohol. we had this at "le pommier," a restaurant in bayeux that will best be remembered not for the wine, or the food, but for the french hostess with the extremely pinched facial expression.

2009 Cuvee La Leuraudiere Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Le Chateau La Tarciere par Bonnet-Huteau Vignerons: Easy to drink

sept. 30, 2010: we had this muscadet with mussels at l'assiette normande, a restaurant in bayeux that will, our very gracious host at the b&b we were staying at, recommended. greg said the nose reminded him of grass clippings and apples. i think this had a light nose, with some green apple and slight acidity. it was definitely easy to drink. 12 percent alcohol. no photo available, unfortunately.

1942 Marcel Trepout Armagnac: Amazing.

sept. 29, 2010: even in 1942, when the war had at least two more years to go, the normand french were hard at work making armagnac ...

2007 Beaune Premier Cru Cent-Vignes: Awful, terrible, the worst wine ever.

sept. 29, 2010: this is the worst wine we've had so far. if you come across this wine -- and we hope you never will -- use it to kill your plants. the nose alone was lifted from the world's worst barnyard.

2008 Vin d'Alsace Yvette et Michel Beck-Hartweg Vignerons: Dry, went well with Chinese food

sept. 26, 2010: we had this 2008 vin d'alsace yvette et michel beck-hartweg vignerons riesling from dambach-la-ville at a chinese buffet my grandmother wanted to go to intermuros st. malo. the food wasn't bad at all. i thought it had flavors of grapefruit and lemon, was definitely dry without any sweetness, and it was paired well with the chinese food.

2008 Chateau Aney Cuvee d'Arnaussan Haut-Medoc: Awful

sept. 25ish, 2010: this 2008 chateau aney cuvee d'arnaussan haut-medoc, 12.5 percent alcohol, had a strong barnyard nose. definitely not a good first-course wine. i'm being extremely kind when i say i'm glad we got it as a demi-bouteille.

2005 Chateau Forcas Dupre: Smooth, nothing spectacular.

sept. 25ish, 2010: we had this 2005 chateau forcas dupre with paupiettes de veau (thin veal wrapped in bacon and containing ground-up sweet breads). it was 13 percent alcohol, a listrac-medoc. some red-fruited sweetness, smooth, rough by french standards (but nowhere near a chilean malbec), good to try but nothing spectacular. greg said this wine has gotten better the more it's aired out, with a slight barnyard flavor, smooth.

2007 Marquille Bordeaux: Quite possibly the worst wine, ever.

sept. 25ish, 2010: a 2007 marquille bordeaux. a barnyard nose and taste, definitely. nothing worth having again. actually, why mince words ... it was terrible.

2008 Les Milleres Jean Gardies Cotes du Roussillon Villages: Better on its own

sept. 24ish, 2010: we bought this 2008 les milleres jean gardies rdies cotes du roussillon villages, 13.5 percent alcohol, with the help of a wine expert at le bon marche in paris. he said it would be good with our rotisserie chicken, but it was smoother on its own, when it was more aromatic.

2007 Les Maitres Goustiers Medoc: Bland

sept. 27ish, 2010: we bought this 2007 les maitres goustiers medoc at the corner grocery store in paris. it was bland, smooth and not that distinctive. 12 percent alcohol.

2009 Cochemes Riesling Prisma Spatlese Lieblich Cochemer Herrenberg Pradikatswein: Sweeter.

sept. 25ish, 2010: this was our second bottle of the evening, as we sat trying to dry off in the excellent restaurant we had accidentally found while running through an intense thunderstorm after getting off the train from moselkern, where we had hiked to burg eltz, an awesome castle.

i liked this wine, which was sweet, smooth and almost creamy. it had some pear to the flavor and was much better than the other one we had at the restaurant.

2009 Weingut Heinz Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Klottener Burg Coraidelstein Riesling-Spatlese Halbtrocken: Half sweet/half dry.

sept. 25ish, 2010: we had this at gaststatte noss, a restaurant in cochem recommended by our rick steves guidebook, and the food was delicious! we were visiting greg's brother chad and chad's wife, tracy, in homburg, which is about 2.5 hours east of paris. we took the train to cochem to visit the mosel valley, and we happened to be there during oktoberfest, so we kept being served items off various oktoberfest menus. no complaints here!

this wine had 10 percent alcohol. greg said it had a nose like a sauvignon blanc and had a crisp texture. it smelled like grass clippings. i said it was dry to the tongue with a sweet aftertaste. it had some lemon. wouldn't get it again.

2009 Reserve de Vignerons Loire Valley Saumur: Excellent!

sept. 24ish, 2010: we also bought this in that same wine shop where we bought the red burgandy below. this 3 euro demi-bouteille loire valley reminded victoria of a chinon: there was a flavor of some green pepper (like a chinon), red berries, and black pepper. the color was dark red. this was the first of three saumurs that we would have in france this trip. definitely recommend it.

Bouchard Pere et Fils red burgundy (pinot noir): Eh.

sept. 24ish, 2010: we bought this demi-bouteille in a wine shop in le marais for about 5 euros. it was eh, not terrible, not fantastic. smooth and mellow and not very flavorful. didn't get the year or the alcohol percentage.