2006 CARE Syrah/Tempranillo/Garnacha: Spicy, fruity, tannic, definitely flavorful (says me) but harsh and sour (says Greg)

nov. 29, 2010: you come home from work on a rain-filled day and you decide: i'm going to open one of greg's wines this time. this is a bottle he purchased at big red liquors in bloomington sometime this summer, and i had been avoiding it, thinking this was one of the pricier bottles we might want to hold onto for a while. not that i'm focused solely on the price, but when you want to pop open a bottle without much planning, i'd rather choose one that's both new-to-us and relatively inexpensive. this spaniard won on both counts. research online (greg no longer had the receipt) showed it was about $11, and it was definitely a blend we hadn't experienced before: syrah, tempranillo and garnacha. this 14 percent alcohol is spicy enough to be well-paired with a brat from the newburgh butcher shop. it's definitely got tannins to the mouth feel, and an earthy nose with some fruit mixed in. can't distinguish exactly which fruit, but something dark, like blackberries. it almost reminds me of a lighter malbec, with more flavor. greg, on the other hand, isn't sure he likes it. he says the nose isn't very aromatic, and that it's wafting more alcohol than anything else. he said the flavor is sour and harsh, and it might be paired up well with a spicy sausage.


2008 St. Hallett Poacher's Barossa: Split opinion

nov. 28, 2010: i was at the grocery store yesterday and a bag of dried split peas caught my eye. i'd seen a recipe for split pea soup in a mediterranean cookbook my father had given me as an early christmas gift, and i decided i'd prepare it for dinner tonight. first i soaked the peas overnight, which made the cooking process much swifter. i decided i'd add smoked bacon and carrots (i sauteed the bacon with the carrots and onions in sunflower oil first, then added the chicken stock and split peas). i think this turned out pretty well. it definitely had a smoky flavor, but it wasn't overwhelming. plus, i got a tip from another online recipe to serve it with freshly fried crisp bacon, and it was very good.

also, earlier in the day i used what was left of our basil plant to make pesto via http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/basil-pesto-recipe2/index.html. i added the pesto to the rest of the rotisserie chicken greg had prepared on friday, using the cuisinart to cut it into smaller pieces. i mixed in mayonnaise and the pesto and let it sit (though i wish i had made more pesto for this dish). i had bought a fresh loaf of crusty french bread (not a baguette) from schnucks this afternoon, and i sliced that up and toasted it in our oven. then i spread each side of the bread with mayonnaise and topped it with the pesto chicken and some sliced roasted red peppers i made this afternoon (very easy to do, especially if your gas grill accidentally catches on fire. this is when it's good to have a very alert and very smart shepherd-mix named ashby, who can whine to let you know about the blaze outside your back door.) anyway, this sandwich would have been better with more pesto flavoring, and i would have liked to have added some pesto to the mayo that i spread on the toasted bread, too.

we paired this soup and salad mix with this australian, which was a blend of semillon (65 percent), sauvignon blanc (21 percent) and riesling (14 percent). greg liked it, saying it was citrusy without being overwhelmed by grapefruit. i wasn't so sure. i definitely tasted lemon and a certain tartness, and i thought it was better paired with the pesto chicken than the split pea soup. but i wouldn't get it again. schnucks on north green river.

1990 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf-du-Pape: Light, fruity, good

nov. 26, 2010: greg wasn't feeling well enough (he had a cold) to come to dinner at my parents' house on friday, but he did rotisserie a delicious chicken for my parents, emilie and me to eat on their last day in the states for a while. i prepared a bulgar wheat recipe with cilantro, dried cranberries and yellow raisins from a recipe my father gave me in a mediterranean cook book. i'd make this recipe again.

my father opened up this chateau la nerthe, 13.5 percent alcohol, which i had never had before. it was quite good. the nose was fruity and there was no bitterness to the mouth. i thought the particular fruit flavors were hard to distinguish, but still, sometimes that can be good.


2008 Robert Mondavi Solaire Pinot Noir: Lively, strong, fun

nov. 27, 2010: i bought this from winetree again just so greg could understand what i mean when i compare it to the 2006 artesa carneros pinot noir we had last sunday. if you're looking for a full-flavored pinot that really comes into its own after an initial acidity that prompty disappears 30 minutes later, this santa lucia highlands californian is the one. i think this is less subtly flavored than the $29.99 artesa -- and if you like strawberries, that'll seal the deal -- but it's a really good buy for $15.99. 13.5 percent alcohol.

that said, i might have bought this wine on the wrong night. greg is recovering from a sore throat and sinus infection, and while he didn't refuse a couple glassses of this californian, his impressions were that the nose was sour, and the flavor was just "OK." we might have to get this mondavi again. how awful ;)


France: Is vagueness a good thing?

nov. 25, 2010: ironically, it could only be after i compose a quasi-essay about the strengths of californian wines over those from france that my father would give us a case of french wines from his own wine cellar. i'm not complaining. i doubt he read my most recent post, and i suspect that every single one of the wines he placed in the wooden crate labeled "alan marty" was carefully chosen and placed inside. but our family celebrated the holidays early this year due to some upcoming travels to france, and as a result greg and i transported a very heavy -- and yet very appreciated -- collection of french wines we haven't had before to our own humble abode.

well, that's somewhat of an exaggeration. i'm having a 2007 chateau pesquie right now. this was part of the case my dad compiled himself, and it's actually a wine we brought to his attention at least a year ago. i should say i think this wine is bolder, and rougher, than some of the older french wines he's opened for us. so that made it an ideal wine to open after a fun thanksgiving day of family togetherness. still, the flavors of french wines, i have generally concluded, are hard to pinpoint. for instance: i've yet to experience any shining beacons of strawberry, like in californian or oregonion pinot noir. and blackberries don't announce themselves, it seems to me, as strongly as they do in australian shiraz. instead, i tend to taste earthiness, a vagueness that lends itself toward more of a mixture of flavors. this i find hard to accept, given the new world's tendency toward salad bowls. i don't mean that american and australian wines literally taste like salad. what i do mean is that i find it odd that the flavors of old world wines like this frenchman are so hard to distinguish compared to their new world adversaries. it may be because i spent so much of my life in the new world that i ascribe value to individuality. but there's also the old world part of me that acknowledges that, sometimes, it's good to mix with the crowd. confused yet? the simple way to say this is that it seems to go against the odds that, in a new world of so many individuals, there are actually so many wines that really do stand on their own, bursting with flavor and texture. so maybe i'm just looking at french wines the wrong way. maybe in these cases, vagueness is what they are going for. and maybe it's their malleability that makes them so good that they are sought after.

70 percent grenache. 30 percent syrah. 14 percent alcohol.


2005 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rubis: Earthy, but otherwise not very distinctive

nov. 24, 2010: this was a unique night. brian fribley gave us liver from the doe he shot a few days ago, and greg waited until i arrived home from the office to cook it up in a savory cabbage crown recipe he got from "wild about venison," by stoeger publishing. the liver was excellent, even if, after the first half i had of this dish that was itself cut in half, i spent the next 30 minutes self-managing what felt like an explosion of cholesterol within my own body.

we got this frenchman at sahara mart in bloomington for $29.99. greg liked it, but i feel i've been spoiled by california. which is to say: there is the california that bursts with references to rebellion, to feelings and expressions of individuality. and then there is the california that spills personality from its guts, without any remorse at all.

contrast these stereotypes with a poised frenchman like this chateauneuf-du-pape, which according to our reference book, would have been a good pairing with venison.

but matched with this venison liver, this rhone valley speciman wasn't perfect. it might have been the inherent sweetness of the apples, or the apple juice. or it could have been the fact that this liver, while slightly overcooked, wasn't soaked with the flavor of iron that a calf's liver might be expected to have.

but i just wasn't that impressed with this wine. that said, it was better than the 1998 guigal chateauneuf-du-pape that my father twice gave greg as a gift. it has more personality than that wine, more spunk and heaviness, with some tannins. (though my father has told me other brands of 1998 chateauneuf-du-pape are richer than guigal.)

still, this can't compare to californians in my mind. maybe i'm spoiled by that state's individualities. i could point to the paso robles that taste like crayons, or the russian river valleys that seem to spurt cherries from their fleshy veins, saying those are examples enough.

but the fact is that those wines are Personalities. yes, i said it, despite the fact that half of my genes were born and raised on french soil. they are Personalities with capital "P"s: Characters, in other words, that make their marks on your palate, that announce themselves with flavor and tannins, and that aren't ashamed of what they are, even if they overtake a main, and very rare, meal of venison liver.

suffice it to say that this 2005 wasn't that. so in this most recent california vs. france battle for flavor: california wins out, hands down. 14 percent alcohol.


2006 Artesa Pinot Noir Reserve Carneros Estate: Smooth, brown sugar nose.

nov. 21, 2010: this was an early birthday dinner for me, and greg prepared three delicious cornish hens that he seasoned with his own special mix and rotisseried on our grill. they were wonderful. we had leftover mushrooms and onions that had been seasoned and sauteed the night before, broccoli and potatoes. we bought this californian to pair with the chicken, not having researched it at all. this is what i found online: (in 2008) http://gabesview.com/2008/08/20/artesa-winery-2007-carneros-pinot-nor/ and (in 2009) http://www.starkinsider.com/2009/11/2006-artesa-pinot-noir-carneros-wine-review-recommended.html

we both liked this wine, but i wasn't feeling well. so i made an early night of it, falling asleep reading a michael chabon novel. but my first impression was of a brown sugar nose. the second night, i got what was left, and my impressions were that it was smooth, with some strawberry to the nose. the flavor became more earthy as the night wore on. this pinot actually reminded me of the solaire, a robert mondavi creation that i had had last week. the solaire had a stronger flavor, while this artesa was flavorful but more subtle. i'm impressed that it's such a good second-night bottle of wine from what my father has told me is a very good region of california for pinot noir. 14.3 percent alcohol. schnucks on north green river.


2008 Apothic Red: Third night open, still good

nov. 20, 2010: we only got the dregs, more or less, of this californian, which is a reliable (for us) mixture of merlot, syrah and red zinfandel. it had been opened for three nights, and i wasn't sure what to expect. but it's held up well.  greg said the flavor is good, but that nose wasn't anything special. he said it's smooth and sweet to drink (according to my father, the sweetness might have been due to the zinfandel, since some zins have lots of residual sugar). speaking of syrah, that's the only thing that makes me hesitate about this wine. i think it's because of the syrah that this wine's flavor doesn't seem to change much. 13.1 percent . $9.99 at schnucks.

2006 Dead Letter Office Shiraz: Inky, thick, slightly fruity

nov. 20, 2010: this was the second day for this australian, which was 67 percent from mclaren vale and 33 percent from padthaway. i had bought this at varsity liquors a while ago and wasn't very impressed with it since i didn't think it was as good as the 2005. but i've changed my tune on this one. maybe it's because it's had some more time to age, or maybe the other bottle we had just wasn't a good example. but this shiraz was pretty good. it's definitely a heavier shiraz than others we've had, and it's not as sweet. would go well with a steak, i think. about $30. 15 percent alcohol.

greg said he wouldn't get it again, though he knew he was tasting it after it had already been opened for 24 hours.

2008 Herding Cats Merlot/Pinotage: A wine you serve when you want people to leave your house

nov. 20, 2010: we picked this south african up at schnucks on north green river. it was the name that got us, and the low price ($6.99). but do not, under any circumstances, confuse this wine with something you'd actually choose to drink. this was unfortunate since the nose was encouraging -- it was earthy and pleasant. but drinking this was like stuffing a wet and moldy dishtowel into your mouth. we decanted it for about an hour, but there was still no improvement. 13.5 percent alcohol.

2008 Los Vascos Chardonnay: Crisp texture; peach and lemon nose

nov. 20, 2010:  my parents stopped by whole foods while they were in st. louis friday night to see "south pacific," and they brought back a filet of fresh white fish. greg baked it with shallots, salt and butter for about 20 minutes (it was delicious!) i sauteed mushrooms from aihua market with onions, butter, olive oil, salt, garlic salt, italian seasoning and herbes de provence. we also had steamed broccoli and potatoes.

this colchagua valley chilean from domaines barons de rothschild (lafite) was well-paired with the white fish. i thought the nose was somewhat peach and lemon. the texture was slightly acidic. greg thought the nose had scents of pears and honey, and that the texture was relatively smooth with some sourness to the end. this was our first chilean chardonnay. 14 percent alcohol. we'd both get it again. $12.49. schnucks on north green river.

here's some information on the lafite vineyard in chile: http://bcfw.co.uk/blog/?p=362


2008 Robert Mondavi Solaire: Black cherry, very flavorful, good

nov. 16, 2010: it felt like a salmon evening. so i marinated a salmon steak with an old standby: lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder, soy sauce, brown sugar, vegetable oil and water for about 4 hours via http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/grilled-salmon-i/Detail.aspx. then i popped it in the oven at 375 degrees with a portion of the marinade for about 20 minutes. i added some steamed new potatoes and broccoli and then sat down to a glass of this santa lucia highlands californian. honestly, this is a good, full-flavored pinot, and that's not surprising, given mondavi's reputation. it started out a bit tannic and rough, but after an hour or so, it's smoothed over. it's got a concentrated nose and flavor of black cherry, both of which make it very easy to drink. this is one of the best pinots i've had for this price (about $14) because it lacks the acidity a lot of other pinots that are under $20 seem to have. i will definitely be getting this again. 13.5 percent alcohol. winetree.


2008 Apothic Red Winemaker's Blend: Good and good and good

nov. 15, 2010: sometimes you just have days when you deserve a glass of wine, and this was the night that sealed the deal. we opened this bottle after i had greg taste the residuals of the yalumba viognier i had purchased on saturday -- and that he hated, as grapefruity as it was. but this modesto, californian, is starting to become reliable, a perfect blend of syrah, red zinfandel and merlot. it's hard to believe this is $8 or so at schnucks on north green river, since this is a good one, definitely a wine to try whether paired (as we did) with pasta, or matched with an empty glass, yourself, and a table to place it on. 13.1 percent alcohol.

Sweet Potato Brack Fries: Delicious! No wine

nov. 15, 2010: jeremy and trudi brack traded us sweet potatoes for butternut squash, and i decided to make paula deen's sweet potato fries. these are wonderful! here's the recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/baked-sweet-potato-fries-recipe/index.html

thanks to the bracks for the trade!


1985 Domaine Tempier Bandol: Fizzy, but good nose

nov. 13, 2010: my parents invited me over for a delicious dinner of stewed rabbit, tabouli (which i made) and a red lentil dish that was also very tasty. my mom and i thought this wine, when first opened, had some fizzy imperfections, which i at first thought was mixed with acidity. here are my dad's notes: "The 1985 Domaine Tempier Bandol, cuvee speciale La Migoua vineyard, was even better at noon today (Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010). The petillance (bubbles) had gone, the wine was slightly sweet in a good sense ... We went to the vineyard at Domaine Tempier in the 1980s and (drank) an old vintage of Domaine Tempier in the town of Bandol then. In the U.S. I think the wine is imported by Kermit Lynch in Berkeley. The rabbit was American rabbit, cooked sous vide at 140 degrees for 6 hours. The sauce was made from Knorr leak soup mix and broth from the boiled rabbit bones. The wine was not a heavy wine, but had lots of flavor from the Bandol terroir. They drink it with Rouget (small local red mullet) there at the vineyard." 11-14 percent alcohol. dad's cellar.

2008 Spellbound Petite Sirah: Somewhat sweet, creamy, a good buy

nov. 14, 2010: since we had given up on the barbera, we opened up this napa, californian, to pair with our grilled steaks, which was a better match anyway in terms of generalized food pairings. we had tried this at winetree's wine tasting last wednesday, and we both liked it. it was smooth and creamy, slightly sweet, earthy, flavorful and very easy to drink. it had inklings of blackberry, though beyond that, the flavors were hard to pinpoint. 13.5 percent alcohol. about $13. winetree.

2006 Castelvero Piemonte Barbera: Past its prime

nov. 14, 2010: i bought this thinking i wanted to try something new, something i hadn't had before. but when we popped it open, greg thought it was bland, and i thought it was a strange mixture of sweet and salty. something really felt off about this italian, so we decided we'd bring it into winetree the next day to explain our issues with it. i know i'm far from a wine expert, and that's especially the case with barbera, which i've never had before. hopefully we either had a bad bottle, or we're just looking at this bottle the wrong way. 12.5 percent alcohol. about $11.


2009 Yalumba Viognier: Musty nose; thick, creamy texture

nov. 13, 2010: frankly, i don't know what to think. this is only my second pure viognier experience. i'm more familiar with shiraz-viognier blends, which i like very much. but this south australian is new, unfamiliar, and i'm finding i need tips to describe this. so i agree that the nose is musty, via http://www.yalumba.com/content.asp?p=213, and (slightly) citrusy and spicy via http://www.klwines.com/detail.asp?sku=1057406. but otherwise, this feels like a thicker and creamier sauvignon blanc without an expressive nose.

i paired it with chicken breasts that i marinated with yogurt, yellow onions, paprika, salt, cilantro, mint, parsley and garlic. i should have added more salt, but they grilled nicely after marinating for almost 10 hours. i did a fair amount of research to try to find a wine that would pair with this indian dish. not surprisingly, given the difficulty of that challenge, this viognier wasn't a perfect match. i'm thinking a riesling or gewurtztraminer might have been better -- something a bit sweeter, maybe. 13.5 percent alcohol. winetree. $11.59

2007 Brassfield Serenity: Fruity, light, slightly sweet

nov. 12, 2010: this high valley appellation clearlake oaks, californian was kind of fun. a mixture of sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, gewurztraminer and semillon, it had some lemon but the other flavors were hard to pinpoint. the texture was smooth and crisp, with no real acidity. an easy-to-drink wine. 13.5 percent alcohol. winetree. more info here: http://www.brassfieldestate.com/

by the way, the second night i had this, i paired it with a good tabouli recipe i made from scratch. i added plump dried cranberries that i soaked in water for a couple of hours, and i used bulgar instead of cracked wheat. here's the recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/diners-drive-ins-and-dives/tabouli-recipe/index.html


2007 Benziger Carneros Chardonnay: Petroleum nose, but fun and fruity flavor

nov. 10, 2010: talk about contrasts. it was just a winetasting, meaning ron at winetree poured us one medicine-sized plastic cup full of this californian. yet the nose was, to me, instant oil, and that was kind of freaky, seeing as how the actual gas station was two walls and an intersection away from us. but i think, okay, i'm bigger than just the first impression: i can look beyond this. so i take a sip, and this sonama county speciman is good: green apple like a chardonnay should be (none of that buttery malolactic fermentation for me), and slightly sweet. it's a tasty wine, and i'm hoping that the nose on this particular bottle was just an anomaly. would get a full bottle, definitely. i didn't get the alcohol percentage, sorry. photo credit: http://www.snooth.com/

2009 The Crossings Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc: Grapefruity, refreshing

nov. 10, 2010: now this is a wine that greg was not going to like. it's the grapefruit, stupid. he's got something against it, and i'm starting to feel the poor fruit is getting a complex. anyway, he and i and chris stopped by winetree before dinner to taste four wines and a sherry. it was the first time i had been at one of these tastings, which take place every wednesday from 4-7 p.m. at the weinbach location. it was definitely fun, since i ran into two women i knew fairly well, and we had a good time chatting.

anyway, this new zealander was something i liked, even if i knew the chances were close to nil that greg would go near it (though to his credit, he did try it). it's definite grapefruit, crisp, light, and would be fun on a hot summer evening. 13 percent alcohol. photo from http://www.crownwineandspirits.com/. here's more info: http://www.thecrossings.co.nz/tizwine/documents/customnotes/335474.pdf

2008 Citra Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: Nothing distinctive, not a must-buy

nov. 10, 2010: chris drove down from bloomington to visit us and i bought this $6.99 italian from winetree to pair with some delicious pork loins greg grilled that were seasoned with a mixture greg bought at the newburgh butcher store. we are on a quest for a comparable montepulciano we had in france in october, and so far we are coming up short. this one is not worth even the little we spent for it. i wasn't expecting fantastic, but fruity and fun would have been nice. 13 percent alcohol.

by the way, since i was in charge of the vegetables, i decided to try to roast carrots in the oven with canola oil, salt and pepper. but chris suggested that we place them in a ceramic baking dish with a cover. they turned out great! paired with some yellow onions i sauteed with mushrooms we bought at aihua asian market last saturday (i added sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, italian seasoning, herbes de provence, and garlic salt), and the meal was a success. just don't do the wine.


2009 Little James' Basket Press: Definite secondary wine, if that

nov. 7, 2010: we brought home the last quarter of the 2006 santedame chianti classico, finished it and decided we could stand to open another. so we tried this little james' basket press solera, which in all fairness was better than the other one we had opened more than a month ago after buying it at sahara mart in bloomington. greg's immediate reaction was to a nose that reminded him of a barnyard, while the flavor was both sweet and sour cherry. i thought the nose was tannic and a bit sour. the flavor was not very distinctive, but it reminded me of a malbec without the roughness. this is a secondary wine, definitely, but not one that i'd get again. 13.5 percent alcohol.

2006 Tenuta Santedame Chianti Classico: Dry, some flavor

nov. 7, 2010: call it the whirlwind wine weekend. it seems like we've done anything but avoid the stuff this weekend, and our latest foray was into a chianti classico recommended by dennis at winetree. this i hate to tell him: i'm not a huge fan of chianti. i know dennis' passions -- his italian wife, and the chiantis he drinks fairly often -- yet while this chianti was better than others we've had, it just wasn't flavorful enough for me.

still, when our neighbor invited us for dinner tonight, we brought dennis' recommendation because she was making lasagna. it was a delicious lasagna, and our other neighbors, who also were at the dinner, brought an equally flavorful salad that we all enjoyed. greg and i really enjoyed the evening, and we hope to get together with them again. but this chianti just wasn't a big hit. for one thing, our newfound friends are white wine drinkers. for another, this chianti just wasn't that flavorful. 13.5 percent alcohol. about $19.

2008 Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon: A mild, easygoing wine

nov. 6, 2010: i bought this wine on the recommendation of my gleaner coworker donna stinnett, who described it as a good wine for the price. we agree. it was about $8 at the schnucks on north green river (their wine selection seems interesting, actually, and is much bigger than the one on washington). i thought the texture was smooth and soft. the nose reminded me of some malbecs, probably because of the tannins. the flavor was a bit sweet but hard to pinpoint exactly. greg said he'd get it again. would go well with a steak. 14.5 percent alcohol.

2007 Henri Perrusset Macon-Villages White Burgundy: Honey, lemon

nov. 6, 2010: we bought this at sahara mart in bloomington a while back. i didn't know anything about this vintner, but i chose it because it's a white burgundy and we've had some good experiences with the french version of the california chardonnay. it was $16.95 and definitely worth it. greg said the nose had a pungent sweetness, almost like produce that's a bit old. and while that may not be the most flattering description, this frenchman was still very tasty, with flavors of honey and lemon. the only bad thing about this wine was that the acidity seemed to increase the longer we had it open. it started out smooth with a little bit of tartness, but that changed later. 13 percent alcohol.

by the way, we paired this macon-villages with six live small blue crabs we steamed after buying them from aihua oriental market on north green river. we love this place! especially on market saturdays, when the only bad thing is how crowded the narrow aisles get, we can also buy very cheap vegetables. these crabs were definitely fiesty, and greg had to ask for a brown paper bag to hold them while we did the rest of our grocery shopping for the day. it was kind of unsettling hearing these crabs scratch the interior of the paper bag when we drove to schnucks, and i felt a bit pressed to complete our shopping list quickly while in the store, but it all worked out. we used this recipe to steam the crabs: http://www.thebarneys.org/huntfish/crabbing/recipes.html and it was hard work to crack open and pry the meat out of these crabs. but we had fun, and the crab meat seemed sweeter against the french crustacean salt, red pepper crunch seasoning (which greg had made a long while ago for chicken), and fish seasoning that i doused the crabs with in the steamer.

meanwhile, i prepared baked chicken with a yogurt-chili marinade via http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Baked-Chicken-with-Chile-Yogurt-Marinade-231617 . i added a handful of dried tomatoes that greg had dried in our dehydrator, and i also added cayenne pepper, and an extra helping of cilantro and a dry seasoning mix i had made some time ago containing cumin. i let it sit in the fridge for 1.5 hours. i also roasted some red peppers on the grill, and oven-roasted asparagus in canola oil (this seems to be better for oven roasting than olive oil), salt and pepper. the flavor of the chicken was good but i think i overcooked the meat, making it a bit dry and stringy.

2008 Concha y Toro Xplorador Malbec: Decent secondary wine

nov. 5, 2010: this one had a deeper color compared to the apothic red. this mendoza, argentinian, has texture you can breathe in and take with you -- like lifting sand from the beach, only this is heavy stuff, the fibrous texture you try to filter through at the end of a talkative evening, when the words hang like mist, and the bottle sits, empty, on its side ... somewhere else. big red liquors. $5.99-$9.99.

2008 Apothic Red: Smooth, slightly sweet, good for the price

nov. 5, 2010: i picked this up at winetree based on the recommendations of dennis and tim. this californian is a blend of syrah, red zinfandel and merlot, 13.1 percent alcohol, and it cost about $11 there (though it was about $8.99 at the schnucks on north green river, we noticed later). i thought it had a brown sugar nose, and the flavor tasted a lot like smoky bacon bathed in maple syrup -- probably due to the zin. greg thought the flavor was almost like candy. this was a good wine for the price. we'd get it again.


2005 Lapis Luna Shoup Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve: Berry and chocolate, heavy

nov. 3, 2010: you open this californian and you've made a commitment: it's like a firm handshake, something you can't shirk, especially after you've gotten a whiff of its hefty combination of berries, caramel and chocolate. at 13.9 percent alcohol, it's not the strongest cab we've tried, which is why it's the flavor that grabs you -- an earthy line of goodness. it'd go great with a grilled steak. about $14. winetree.

greg says it's got some alcohol vapors. the flavor is smooth and black cherry. he'd get it again :)