2004 Two Angels Petite Sirah: Glad I waited this long

not sure when we tried this. maybe it was last week. anyway, the gist of the story is that i was totally avoiding this wine for years. we'd had it once that i remembered, and it was acidic. i did not want to have it again. but i was cooking and it was greg's turn to select the wine, so off he went to the basement. after a short twist of fate (and his hands -- it's a twist top), he'd poured this oakville, calif., into our glasses. and i was instantly shocked. from taste alone, i thought this was a zinfandel. so much flavor, so much concentration. it was not the peppery petite sirah that i was used to. and that was pretty cool. 14.8 percent alcohol. i'd have this again, if i could find it.

Michael + David Inkblot Cabernet Franc: Crayons, for some reason

july 12, 2013: steak calls for something red. it has to. so we brought out this michael + david cabernet franc, suggested to us by ron hull at winetree on weinbach avenue. a great guy with an incredible amount of wine knowledge. and he totally got us on this wine. i won't go into my fascination with cab francs here. suffice it to say we had our first cab franc in paris, where it was my first exposure to green peppers and crayons all at once. a very odd combination, i know. this lodi, calif., concoction is definite crayon, zero green pepper. it's concentrated, too. 15.2 percent alcohol like california knows how to do. i'm also happy to see that cab franc is something some other winery is taking seriously. when my dad found out we had an interest in cab franc, he started his own quest to seek them out: from budapest, he brought back a smooth iteration of this grape that was much different than the loire valley version we'd first had. on our own, we tried lake county, calif., versions, and some in washington state (which really does a decent cab franc). not many people know about this varietal, which most people know of (if they know of it at all) as a blending grape: it's usually a back-up to the more flavorful cabernet sauvignon.

anyway, kudos to run hull (as usual), to winetree (also, as usual), and to michael + david for offering up this cab franc. nice to try something new. nice to see an expansion on something that's worth a taste or two.

Pairing cucumber basil gazpacho ...

july 14, 2013: bastille day! not that i did anything necessarily in honor of the french revolution. i ran about four miles, freely, in newburgh, ind. i guess that counts. maybe not.

anyway, greg came home with a 1.5 pound cucumber, and if i was going to have time to use it in a recipe, it had to be today. so i made a cucumber basil gazpacho, which was quite tasty. here's the recipe: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-07-10/features/sc-food-0705-dinner-cool-cukes-20130710_1_cucumbers-farmers-markets-celery

as for the wine, that was a bit of conundrum. typical gazpachos have tomatoes, so they're acidic. therefore, sauvignon blancs would usually be a good pairing. but this gazpacho had no acidity at all. i used one seedless jalapeno (which added more flavor than heat), and the end result was really light, fluffy, and fresh-tasting. the recipe also called for one-half cup of greek yogurt, which made this gazpacho creamy. so i was thinking a soft, somewhat buttery chardonnay would work best.

the thing is, we are a mostly red household. our basement had only three whites: a sauvignon blanc, an italian white (i think it was a torrentes), and one chardonnay. so we decided to use the chardonnay: a 2010 venge dijon clone we bought at a madeleine's wine dinner last year.

the wine was fine: 14.5 percent, buttery, intense, definitely your californian version of an imitation white burgundy. we like this wine. we've had it before.

but with the cucumber basil gazpacho? i'll be honest. i wasn't sure what the best pairing was here. google cucumber and wine pairings, and you'll get sauvignon blanc. which would be fine, if there were some acidity to the soup. but there was no acidity. the most prevalent flavor/texture was its fluffiness, its creaminess. that's what had me focused on a chard.

the pairing ended up decent. the soup was great. perfect for this hot, humid summer day. definitely a light offering for dinner. but oddly, it left this hotness in the back of the throat, kind of like a reaction. it's weird. i don't know if it's the wine, or if it's the jalapeno. the wine and soup were great together at first: there was a smoothness there, a willingness-to-work-together. but at the end, there was a bit of a burning sensation. odd.

so i don't know. do you pair a creamy cold cucumber soup with chardonnay, or do you pair it with sauvignon blanc? maybe the terms of the equation are too general. maybe we'll need another experiment.


2010 Le Prestige Saint-Drezery Chateau Puech-Haut

july 2, 2013: after numerous long days and long nights, we now, finally, have a finished magazine. to celebrate, i broke out this 2010 chateau puech-haut, which we've had before. oddly, our last posting from april 2012 said this had a muted flavor. either i was wrong, or this wine has definitely improved in the bottle. i definitely would not call this muted. in fact, it's so boldly flavored that i would not even call this french, though it is. owner gerard bru started his winery from scratch, got help along the way, and then bottled this 2010, a blend of 55 percent grenache, 35 percent syrah, and 10 percent carignan. it's also not-so-french in another way: the alcohol percentage. it's 15 percent, which is highly unusual. most french reds we've seen have been in the 12.5-13.5 percent range. i'm not complaining, but that does help to make this languedoc red a bit more concentrated than your usual run-of-the-mill french red. it's quite good. red berries, yes, but mainly it's about this wine's body, which is heavy, smooth, concentrated, and intense. coincidentally, almost all of those words could be used to describe the meeting of a deadline. except for the word that does not — smooth. in that case, this puech-haut is an excellent salve.