2007 Sauvion Chinon: Grassy, and surprisingly so.

jan. 31, 2010: victoria made oven-poached salmon with sliced lemons, shallots, peppercorns, chicken stock, parsley and rock salt via http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,1817,145175-238193,00.html along with the cucumber sauce in the recipe (which totally rocked!) and homemade french onion soup with emmenthal swiss cheese on slices of baguette (the cheese really added something here, though the soup did not go with the wine -- the soup was too sweet). soup recipe available via http://allrecipes.com/recipe/french-onion-soup-i/Detail.aspx. (also, victoria added fred grabner's shiraz to this french onion recipe.)

we had these dishes with this loire valley cabernet franc, which to us came off as grassy. that was odd considering that was something that up until now we have associated with new zealand sauvignon blanc. this is our first pure cab franc, though, so we have nothing to compare it to. greg thought it was good paired with the salmon and the cucumber sauce. he said the nose began sweet before heading down the path of cut grass, and it was smooth, not very acidic. victoria agreed, adding that it was also one of the drier red wines we've had in some time. she's not sure she'd get this particular chinon again, but we'd be up for trying some others. also, we both agreed that, by itself, this wine isn't that great; it's definitely best when paired with food. 12.5 percent alcohol. purchased at varsity liquors. $16.99 with 6-bottle 10-percent discount.

2007 Butler Terra Rossa Indiana Dessert Wine: Worst nose ever.

jan. 30, 2010: we opened this for dessert. victoria said this is the worst smelling wine she's had in some time; it's noxious, almost like a pesticide. but the flavor is sweet, like candy. greg didn't mind the nose that much, however. 19.5 percent alcohol. $16.95 at butler winery. photo unavailable.
update: the next night, the nose is much better. it's sweeter and blends more with the fruity flavor.


2005 Langtry Serpentine Guenoc Valley Petite Sirah: A serious wine.

jan. 30, 2010: victoria prepared a chuck roast with cardamon, garlic salt and cracked black pepper via http://www.tammysrecipes.com/easy_chuck_roast, mashed potatoes with heavy cream, butter and garlic salt, and steamed carrots. we had it with this californian, which comes from a vineyard that also produces the guenoc. we decanted this. victoria thought this was a wonderfully serious wine. it had a blackberry nose and slight black pepper, with slight tannins to the texture. the flavor matches the nose. greg said it's a bit acidic, but still smooth. he said it's a little sharp to his tongue. we both agreed that this petite sirah goes well with the black pepper in the roast. victoria said she'd like to get two more bottles of this wine to store in alan's cellar. 14.5 percent alcohol. about $39 at varsity liquors.
update: victoria bought two more bottles at varsity liquors and is storing them in alan's cellar.


2008 Rheingraf Trocken Riesling: A good dry white.

jan. 29, 2010: the snow is really falling now. but inside, we're having an asian hot pot with bok choy, lamb, chicken balls, tofu, noodles, cabbage, chicken broth, dumplings and cuttle fish. greg thought this german was the first dry riesling he's ever had; usually we trend toward the sweeter variety. he said this one was almost like a sauvignon blanc. but he actually liked the grapefruit, which is unusual considering his typical impressions of new zealand sauvignon blanc. victoria thought it had some lemon and grapefruit, and was smooth with slight acidity. 13 percent alcohol.

2009 Grabner Red Plum Wine: Good.

jan. 24, 2010: this was our second bottle of the night. greg said this wine created by his father has a strong alcohol vapor and a dry chalky nose. he said the flavor is sweet at first and then moves into a tartness, very typical of a plum wine. minus the nose, greg said, it is a good plum wine. victoria liked it. she said the nose and flavor remind her of the plum wine at jimmy jeng's chinese restaurant. the flavor was both sweet and tart, with minor tannins. 13 percent alcohol. gift. photo unavailable.


2006 Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele "45" Cotes du Rhone: Greg liked it, Victoria not that impressed.

jan. 23, 2010: greg prepared venison/beef patties that he grilled with slivers of cheddar and that he served with onion buns. he cooled this grenache/syrah blend of a cotes du rhone to 48 degrees, which was too cold. but he said when he first opened the bottle, it had a very sweet nose and flavor. he liked it at this temperature, but victoria thought the nose and flavor improved as it warmed up. it is supposed to be between 60-64 degrees. victoria said it had a coffee nose, while greg could smell the tannins. victoria said the tannins were more pronounced as it warmed up, though this wine was also mildly acidic and sour. 13.5 percent alcohol. $12.59 (with 10-percent half-case discount) at varsity liquors.
photo credit: awineaweek.blogspot.com


2006 nicolas potel bourgogne pinot noir: victoria liked it, greg thought it was mediocre.

jan. 24, 2010: victoria prepared cornish hens with mustard gravy via http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roast-Chicken-with-Mustard-Thyme-Sauce-and-Green-Salad-with-Olives-239804 and roasted butternut squash risotto via http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Butternut-Squash-Risotto-105725 and steamed broccoli.

we paired it with a 2006 nicolas potel bourgogne pinot noir, which victoria really liked but greg was not that impressed with. victoria said the nose was strongly strawberry. the flavor had mild acidity but it was nowhere as strong as the acidity in many of the california pinots we've had. but greg wasn't that enamored with it. he said it was a decent pinot, though he didn't get the strawberry nose. victoria said she would definitely get this wine again, while greg wasn't so sure.

this burgandy pinot went well with the dijon mustard gravy. they were from the same area of france, so the pairing seemed appropriate. 13 percent alcohol. purchased at varsity liquors. $20.69 with 6-bottle 10-percent discount.
photo credit: www.clevercherry/blogs.php


2006 Dead Letter Office Shiraz: Jammy, simple, better in 2005.

jan. 22, 2010: victoria bought this australian at varsity liquors. they have the henry's drive cabernet sauvignon there, and she tried to get a case of the 2005 henry's drive dead letter office shiraz. it just couldn't happen, unfortunately, but they did purchase a case of the 2006, which we had never had. so the next day -- these case orders come in quickly -- she bought a bottle of the 2006.

on friday, we finally opened it to pair with homemade beef stew (which greg made deliciously, as usual) and some manchego cheese. greg really liked it. he said it was jammy, with a fruity nose, and a hint of cherry to the flavor. the texture was smooth. he highly recommends this wine. "i'd give it to st. patrick if i knew him," he laughed. victoria thinks it wasn't as jammy as the 2005, but it had a blackberry nose, with no tar scent like the rockbare (also from mclaren vale) had. (in fact, this shiraz is comprised of 67 percent grapes from mclaren vale and 33 percent grapes from padthaway.) the texture was slightly tannic. she said the flavor leaned toward fruity, but it was also somewhat bland. she decided to purchase two more bottles so we could put them in alan's cellar for a while. 15 percent alcohol. $31.67 at varsity liquors.
photo credit: mypotomac.blogspot.com


2005 RockBare McLaren Vale South Australian Shiraz: Kind of bland, but nicely paired with andouille sausage.

jan. 19, 2010: other than the grilled andouille sausage, it was a night for leftovers: green beens, potatoes, broccoli. so we paired it with this $14.99 mclaren vale shiraz, which greg really didn't like immediately. he said it was horrible at first, way too acidic, and it definitely needed to be decanted. so we did. yet it went beautifully with the spicy andouille, bringing out the sweetness of the wine. decanting helped, we both thought, though greg said he wouldn't get this wine again. after about 45 minutes in the decanter, it was still somewhat acidic, but greg said he thought the nose and flavor opened up more. he could smell the tannins, and the flavor, he said, was a bit like sour cherries. victoria thought this shiraz had a tar nose, but after the first burst of plum flavor, it quickly took a turn toward the land of bland. bought at varsity liquors. 15 percent alcohol.


Marquis Philips vs. Marquis Philips: The 2006 wins out.

jan. 18, 2010: victoria and greg both had the day off because of the holiday, so we decided to stay in and watch a movie. victoria prepared this steak au poivre recipe along with potatoes seasoned with sage, thyme and rosemary via http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/steak-au-poivre-with-herbed-fingerling-potatoes-and-asparagus-recipe/index.html. (but with red creamer potatoes, not fingerlings.) she also prepared green beans and shallots via http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/green-beans-with-shallots-recipe/index.html and asparagus with pumpkin oil/balsamic vinegar dressing via http://recipes.suite101.com/article.cfm/simple_recipes_using_pumpkin_seed_oil.

the only dish that didn't turn out as well as it could have is the asparagus, most of which burned on the grill. thicker stalks of asparagus might be better for this particular recipe.

now, onto the wine. we decided to do a comparison of a 2007 and a 2006 marquis philips shiraz. victoria had bought the 2007 at wine tree on friday, and alan gave her the 2006 today. greg and victoria both preferred the 2006. greg said this south eastern australian is smooth, fruity, with hints of raisin, slight tannins, and is delicious. victoria said the nose is leathery and blackberry. there are slight tannins to the texture, and the flavor is fruity but also mellow. when compared with the 2007, she said it's definitely drinkable, and easily so. 15.5 percent alcohol. gift.

greg said the 2007 has a very tannic nose and is a 3 on the 1-5 tannic scale (with 5 being so tannic it's undrinkable). he said it's smooth, too, and is almost like a sour cherry at the end. victoria said the blackberry nose on the 2007 is more muted than the 2006; it's also slightly carmely, with scents of tar. the color is inky and more concentrated. the flavor is fruity, but it comes only to a certain point, like it's just flat-out not going to give you any more; a stubborn wine in that way. she said this wine could open up more. it feels young. 15.5 percent alcohol. $19.99 at wine tree. (it's $20.99 at varsity liquors, as of jan. 23, 2010.)

photo credit: spiritofwine.blogspot.com


1998 Chateau Montlisse Saint-Emilion Grand Cru: Subtle, not much flavor.

jan. 10, 2010: this was another bottle we had against greg's venison. victoria thought this red bordeaux was too subtly flavored, like a typical merlot. 13 percent alcohol.
photo credit: http://www.cellartracker.com/. this photo has the wrong year.

1998 E. Guigal Chateauneuf du Pape: Excellent with the venison.

jan. 10, 2010: this was our second bottle of the evening, which we had along with the venison greg prepared (see below post). it was smooth and a bit plummy paired with this venison, and slightly earthy.

according to wine.com, this wine is a blend of 50 percent grenache, mourvedre, syrah and others from vines that are at least roughly 45 years old. 13.5 percent alcohol.
photo credit: www.thewinebloggers.com

2008 Orin Swift Prisoner: Jammy!

jan. 10, 2010: greg prepared a venison roast and we decided to try three different wines when we invited victoria's parents over for dinner. the roast turned out wonderfully: greg had shot this button buck himself, and victoria helped him skin it (though he, rob brown and brian fribley did most of the work). greg marinated the venison in buttermilk for at least 12 hours, then he rubbed it with fresh vanilla beans, cinnamon and crystalized ginger. he pan seared it, then baked it at a low temperature.

the first bottle we opened was the 2008 prisoner, a blend of zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, petit sirah, charbono and grenache, according to http://www.orinswift.com/. we had had the 2002 prisoner at madeline's in november, and that vintage was gentle, soft and luxurious in texture. this bottle of napa valley goodness was pure jamminess. at 15.2 percent alcohol, it was also a direct hit to the head :) we all really enjoyed it and finished it quickly. this bottle was in the $30-$39.99 range. greg bought it at wine tree.
photo credit: volunteer.blogs.com


2004 Loose End Barossa Shiraz Viognier: Good!

jan. 8, 2010: we had this south australian with venison (he shot a button buck) greg marinated in some thawed mr. stripey tomato sauce that we had canned two years ago. the meal was delicious, and very well paired against this shiraz. greg really liked this wine, which was 97 percent shiraz and 3 percent viognier. he said it has a tannic/raisin nose, with minor alcohol vapors; the flavor has a hint of cherry, and toward the end of the mouth experience is a slight dryness that leads to a tightening of the throat. victoria said the nose is somewhat sweet, almost leathery. the flavor is both smooth and roughly tannic; as the temperature of the wine warms, the tannins increase. she said this shiraz/viognier has a slight bitterness toward the end, which seems to be relatively common in terms of her shiraz experiences. paired with the venison greg made, the wine sweetens and smooths out. it's not as jammy as some other shirazes we've had, though. this wine also has sediment. greg said he would get this wine again. 14.2 percent alcohol. $19.99 at winetree.


2007 Chateau Pesquie: New vintage for us, and still good.

jan. 8, 2010: this was our (lately rare) second bottle of the evening. greg said this rhone valley vineyards selection still has the cherry flavor of the 2006 vintage. but this was a 3 on the 1-5 acidity scale. he said it's also mildly metallic in flavor, which might be a function of his taste buds today (he said he's been feeling a bit off since this morning.) victoria said she can feel the tannins, which push the flavors forward on her tongue, making them more pronounced. she said it's easily drinkable, slightly peppery ... an undifficult wine, very likable. greg got six bottles of this wine as a gift from alan for christmas. 14 percent alcohol.
photo credit: www.zelas.co.uk

2007 Bridlewood Reserve Central Coast Viognier: We both liked it.

jan. 8, 2010: i prepared butternut squash-filled ravioli and citris-ginger chicken from scratch. whew! it was a full but very fun afternoon in the kitchen.

we paired this with this viognier, which is our first known experience with this type of grape. greg liked this wine. he said he was, at first, unimpressed by what he felt was an extreme dryness. that was largely because it had been refrigerated for several hours before being opened. paired with the butternut squash ravioli, he said it was too cold to appreciate the squash-viognier combination. but as the wine warmed up, he said it became more expressive. greg said the nose had hints of raisins and grapefruit. and tasting it, he said it was sweet like honey; the dryness had disappeared. as it warmed up even more, though, he said the wine became more acidic. i thought this viognier wasn't bad. but it made me think of a muted sauvignon blanc in both flavor and nose. the flavor had hints of lemon. but it also had a tentative chalkiness that prevented the citrus from coming on too strong. this was after the wine had warmed up from being in the refrigerator. 14.5 percent alcohol. $21.39 at varsity liquors. (cheaper than at schnucks, which had it for about $22, before tax.)
the meal, by the way, was a bit of a comedic disaster. everything went perfectly until i piled the homemade ravioli on a big plate and then covered it with saran wrap. the thinking was that that would prevent the ravioli from becoming too dry before boiling it, but what ended up happening was that the ravioli all stuck together in the warmer kitchen. it had to be plopped into the pot of very salty water all at once! in terms of flavor, though, the butternut squash puree turned out *very* well. it's a puree we will make again. the pasta was fun to make and to roll through the cuisinart attachment, but next time, it would be better to make the pasta thinner before pinching it closed around the puree.
the chicken, too, got burnt on our new gas grill. as a result, the flavor was somewhat muted. but i thought that, paired with this viognier, the two complimented each other. we'd like to try this meal again, hopefully without the humorous disaster sequence. it was a full afternoon of work, and it was an equally fun process. next time, though, calls for a lower grill temp and some flour amongst the pile of ravioli!

photo courtesy of: http://illdrinktothat.info/.


2005 Bleasdale Langhorne Creek Shiraz: Acidic and bland.

dec. 30, 2009: greg, rob and i had this wine after the bottle of 2004 aalto. i had bought this at sam's club based on the recommendation of winePhD, an app on my iTouch. this australian shiraz was disappointing. maybe i've gotten unfairly used to australian shirazes being punchy, jammy and full of flavor, but this wine was none of those. it was acidic and bland, and not worth trying again. about $16.


2005 Rosenblum Cellars Maggie's Reserve Zinfandel: Aromatic nose, complex flavor.

dec. 31, 2009: as the new year's party continued, rob williamson convinced me to open up this maggie's reserve around 9:40 p.m. i had to work the next day and so i didn't want to get too happy, but this bottle that rob brought from his own collection in bloomington was a good choice. the nose was fruity and aromatic, while the mouth feel was gentle and soft, definitely more round than the other wines we had had the night before. this particular sonoma valley zin is new to us. i could see greg and i getting more into red zins based on the experience we've had with them lately. this maggie's reserve was 14.8 percent alcohol. definitely a great choice, again, rob!
photo credit: http://diageowineshop.ewinerysolutions.com

2004 Aalto: Good, smooth.

dec. 30, 2009: rob williamson, greg's cousin, drove in for a 5-day stay on and around our annual new year's eve party. he brought this tempranillo that victoria paired with a rack of lamb seasoned with crushed garlic, salt, olive oil, thyme and rosemary. she also prepared a macaroni dish seasoned with fresh sage bread crumbs via www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Creamy-Macaroni-with-Sage-100638, and some carrots.

this spaniard was gentle, round and yet firm at the same time. without opening up too much, it easily held its own against the wild gameyness of the lamb. beauty and the beast, that sort of thing. we easily drank the whole bottle. 15 percent alcohol. thanks rob!
photo credit: www.cellartracker.com

2007 chateau la baume costieres de nimes: eh.

jan. 3, 2010: rob williamson, greg and victoria popped open this rhone valley vineyard wine, which was a gift from alan, after dinner at alan and marie-paule's house. we all agreed it was too tight and closed up, so we decanted it for about 15 minutes. greg thought it was slightly sour, and victoria said it tasted pinched. alan said later that we might have had a bad bottle. he said he has had several bottles of this that were not sour at all. alan had initially described this as a good-value french wine when he gave it to us as a gift. 13.5 percent alcohol.
photo credit: http://www.gnarlyvines.com.

Three 1986s: Definitely interesting.

jan. 3, 2010: we were invited to alan and marie-paule's house for a dinner of filet mignon, oyster dressing, black-eyed peas and cabbage (for good luck for the new year), and japanese sweet potatoes. victoria made a mustard-garlic vinagrette for a finishing salad. alan brought out three wines this time.

the first was a 1986 chat au longueville pauillac-medoc au baron de pichon-longueville bordeaux. alan was a bit disappointed that we did not drink this one immediately after opening it. he said it was more aromatic at first. victoria was not that impressed with the flavor or nose of this wine, which seemed weak. valued at $357.25 on snooth.com. 12.5 percent alcohol.

the second was a 1986 napa valley private reserve beringer cabernet sauvignon. victoria said this one had a fruitier nose and was more flavorful, though it wasn't as powerful as she had hoped. it did have a darker color than the first one. this one is now priced at $139, according to http://www.wineaccess.com/. it was 13.5 percent alcohol.

the third was a 1986 chateau coufran haut-medoc. victoria thought this was the best of the three. the nose was fruity, and the flavor was plum. this one is now valued at about $34, according to http://www.90plusratedwines.com/. it was 12 percent alcohol.