Tag Archives: Red Wine

New Worldly Red Wines to Taste this Spring

3 RedsI was surprised with a phone call from The Wine Feed off Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh, NC on Friday, February 14th. Wine had been selected for me and was available for pick-up. I was grinning into the phone, filled with the same jubilation as a child who has just found out school is cancelled tomorrow, and it’s the Friday, of a three day weekend… Get my drift?

Come to find out – it was three wines. (Kid – school cancelled – giant chocolate cake)

Lyric by Etude – Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, CA 2012
Lyric was enjoyable without food. I opened it simply to taste before going out for a meal and loved how lively the wine tasted. Young as it is, Lyric’s fruitful aroma certainly was not lost. Notes of spice and toasted nuts were a nice addition to the soft tannins. Certainly this wine could be paired well with food, though I used it as my “getting ready” aperitif.

Ripasso by Corte Majoli – Valpolicella, Verona, Italy 2010
Valpolicella is fantastic. I’ve always liked it, even if it isn’t as well know as Montelpulciano or Chianti. Valpolicella is known for strong cherry notes on the palate and this one from Corte Majoli did not let me down. I love how fruit forward Italian wines can be. This wine was fairly low in tannins, so would be a great choice for anyone who hasn’t come around to the big, bold reds. (Corvina is the variety of grape for Valpolicella)

Domaine de Fenouillet – Ventoux, Rhone, France 2012
Ventoux is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan. The Ventoux appellation is in the Rhone, France. This red blend was bigger than the other two.  The dark fruits and herbal flavors stand up well to luscious, well-prepared meats with herb marinades. This 2012 could stand to stay in the bottle a few years longer, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it even at just two years old.

Hope you had a wonderful February! Keep the red wines coming, it’s not spring yet. And perhaps try some of these appellations/regions/grapes that you haven’t heard of – they will surprise you.


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The Tasting Room – Wines of Washington

Wine TastingThe Tasting Room in Seattle, Washington is exactly what you need. The small wine shop, tucked away, was a hidden gem on my trip to the Pacific Northwest. The small shop’s wooden tables and mismatched chairs was warm and inviting. Passing a couple playing Bananagram, my friends and I sat at a far table removing jackets and bags, literally taking the load off.

The Tasting Room only sells wine from Washington and Oregon, allowing customers to fully immerse themselves in these types of wines.  Washington and Oregon excel in Cabernets, Syrahs, Zinfandels, Pinots and Rieslings. The concept behind The Tasting Room is very simple; it is a place to come relax, play a few games and taste wine. Tasting four wines cost just $10 and the price for a normal glass of wine between $8 – $15.

While my friends randomly found Clue and began to set up the board, I perused the wine menu to make my four choices. There we were, tasting wine and playing Clue, like a bunch of East coasters. Somehow everyone knew we were outsiders… but we were accepted.

Tasting wine can be done in so many ways, it all depends on the taster. Are you tasting to learn about new wine? Are you tasting to enjoy wine you already love? Are you tasting to drink more wine in a socially acceptable situation? All of these are legitimate. Honestly, tasting wine is entertainment. It’s fun and opinionated. You’re right, you’re wrong, it’s silly – bada-bing, bada-boom! Regardless, we enjoyed a minute out of cold, wet Seattle and stumbled into a place I’ll never forget.

Oh, and it was Professor Plum with the Baseball Bat in the Observatory.

1. Wilridge Winery – Estate Nebbiolo 2010 – Flavors of pepper and currants, full of tannin.

2. Harlequin Wine Cellars – Jester’s Red 2007 – 58% Syrah, 42% Zinfandel. Light and sweet – fruit forward with touches of honey and anise.

3. Camaraderie Cellars – Elegance 2007 – 60% Cabernet, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot. Chocolate nose, smooth and clean. The Malbec softened the fruit, the Petit Verdot added tannin.

4. Nota Bene Cellars – Ciel du Cheval 2009 – 59% Cabernet, 27% Cabernet Franc, 14% Merlot. Notes of vanilla, toast, currant and blueberry.

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Possibly Better than Julia Child’s

IMG_1951 But then again, I wouldn’t know. I just know it was really great food with some really great people. Sunday night my father attempted (and succeeded at) Julia Child’s recipe on Coq au Vin. We didn’t have an old rooster as some of the old French recipes might call for, but it was still on point. I was a little late for dinner because of work, but don’t you know I made up for it by bringing the wine!

“Les Dames de Huguettes” Bourgogne – 2009 (Hautes Cotes de Nuits) Domaine Mongeard – Mugneret

This wine gets a little bit of shtick online, but I thought it was really nice. Red Burgundys Les Dame de Huguettesare really great and I certainly don’t drink them enough. Well, they are usually Pinot Noir, so I drink plenty of those, but not many from France. They are seen as too light, not having enough fruit, not having enough tannin or not having enough structure in general. Sometimes, if it quacks like a duck…. They aren’t trying to be anything else. I take Burgundys for what they are – elegant. I got this one at the Wine Merchant in Cary.

With this one in particular, the nose smelled like a dark red, full of dark fruits. There was no astringent smell at all, only freshness. The color was amazingly bright ruby red and on the palate bright fruit of cherry to match its color. The wine was soft, but with the exact flavor that I wanted with the meal (My dad had already told me he would be using an Oregon Pinot Noir in the Coq au vin). I knew I needed something to match. Though they are completely different styles of Pinot Noir, it worked because the sauce was light enough to hang on with the French Burgundy. The smells and tastes lingered together and didn’t overpower one another.

The Coq au vin came out beautifully, even though it had to be reheated! The chicken was tender, the onions Coq au Vinwere cooked perfectly and the mushrooms full of richness. And the sauce! Light carmel colored liquid gold – I love that the sauce wasn’t too rich or too overbearing like gravy can sometimes be. It dripped with lusciousness without causing that over-full feeling and soaked the rice under the chicken nicely. Add bread and butter and I couldn’t help but to eat as slowly as possible to savour every bite. It’s fun how some of these French recipes become an accomplishment, you have to try them out!

It’s at these times that we feel like we can really go travel anywhere. Sure, we weren’t in France, but we were acting French. French peasant food with array of fresh breads, cheese and salads, beautiful red Burgundy and a table of friends. At once, we are transported to a new culture and loving every minute of it.

A bien tôt! Salut!

Hautes Cotes de Nuits

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Boordy Vineyards – Maryland

boordy grapesThere were a few things that made my trip to DC/Maryland special. For one, I was able to bike to and through the National Mall in Washington, DC. It was a beautiful hot August day and there’s nothing that makes you feel young again like the wind in your air as you race along the gravel road. Although I didn’t think it possible, the weekend got even better as my family strode through Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. The scenery is breathtaking and if you’re daring enough to do rock-climbing over rushing water, they have that too.

Anyway, let’s get to the point, Boordy Vineyards near Towson, Maryland.

Boordy Vineyards sits tucked in the center of rolling hills filled with vines and vines of grapes. They have another area in Maryland they call the “South Mountain” where there keep even more vines and grow Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot as a few examples. The main house is a giant barn serving as a type of venue; they have an underground store with another event area in the back (you feel like you’re in the cellars). Also, an element I am very fond of, they had a seperate tasting area. This structure had many employees inside where they were able to open at least 5 windows for group tastings. We didn’t have to wait at all to get going on our tasting and some places with just a bar fill up pretty quickly.

You can choose between two series of wine: The Standard Tasting and the Landmark Tasting.  The woman told us that the Boordy WinesStandard Tasting is for those who like sweeter wine as the tasting includes many of their fruit wines, blushes, semi-sweets, Rieslings and sweet reds. This tasting is $5. The Landmark tasting was more our style, not that I don’t like sweet wine, I do, but the call of the Cabernet Franc Reserve and something called the Landmark Reserve were too much for me. We paid the $10 a piece for 10 1-ounce pours of each in the Landmark Series.

Something fun to mention, I fell in love with the art on the bottles. You can see from the picture, the Landmark Series has their rustic picteresque label showing Boordy vineyards (we are told it was taken with a disposable camera!). The Icons of Maryland Series is probably my favourite showing sketches of Maryland’s wild life beside an artsy typeface.  And if art is your thing, beware the colors and images of the Just for Fun Series – Jazz Berry makes me feel like a trip to New Orleans.

Landmark Series - Boordy Wines

Landmark Series

Icons of Maryland Series - Boordy Wines

Icons of Maryland Series









Oh yea! The wine!

Pinot Grigio – Dry with a round aftertaste. Flavours of citrus splash out of the glass.

Chardonnay – Steel tank and oak mix. Hint of melon pulls out the crispness nicely.

Chardonnay Reserve 2011 – Fermented in new oak barrels resulting in a semi-sweet toasty taste on the tongue. Balanced, dry and one of the best Chardonnay’s I’ve had in a while.

Dry Rose – Only made from free-run juices, made from a mix of red grapes harvested from the South Mountain, delicate and light.

South Mountain Red – Easy drinking red for an afternoon or afterwork drink without food. Fresh cherry on the palate, a little astringent on the nose.

Cabernet Franc Reserve 2010 – A perfect Cab Franc. Less smokiness than others, yet good white pepperiness, the taste of black pepper can be strong. It’s cedar flavours and  long finish is rich. Certainly one of the favourites still.

Landmark Reserve 2010 – Boasting $40 a bottle, we hoped this had a lot to offer. It did. 69% Merlot, 19% Syrah 6% Cabernet Sauvignon 6% Petit Verdot. Close to a Bordeaux, but softer. Still full bodied with its oak aging. More dark fruits than the South Mountain Red.

Eisling – Almost a Riesling, but not. Not overly sweet, still contains the nice fruit flavours of a Riesling. Honeysuckle breaks through at the finish.

Veritas Vintage Port 2008 – The Port is 18% alcohol and 16% residual sugar. It was light and nice to drink without a dessert companion. Aged in barrels for 2 years.

Well, that’s all for Boordy! The drive up is beautiful, the vineyards have so much to offer and I hear they do parties in the summer each Friday or so. Try and make it up there, we don’t think vineyards in places other than California have anything to offer, but the east coast is full of them if you just know where to look.

Boordy VineyardsWine Tasting - Boordy Vineyards

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Breads And Spreads

Mixed Company

What do you do when you’re with mixed company? I’m not talking about men and women hanging out together, I’m talking about the red and white drinkers of the world. People have tastes and they are different than ours – that’s what we love about them isn’t it? Would you have ever tried that Red Zinfandel if someone hadn’t suggested it? Or how about those Rose wines, you would be kicking yourself if you hadn’t trusted someone else’s tastes. So when you’re out and there is just that one person who wants white, don’t huff and puff… show your knowledge and acceptance and pick a killer starter to share.

I was hanging out at Ely Wine Bar a couple weeks ago tasting a few reds and trying to decide on something to eat. I wasn’t so hungry as their early bird 2 or 3 courses discount, but I didn’t want something small to be over in a few bites.  Then I realised the perfect option and decided it works for just about any wine out there – The Breads and Spreads option.

Breads – White Baguette Slices, Sun-dried Tomato Bread and Raisin Roll

Spreads – Hummus, Pesto, Olive Tapenade

As I waited for my victuals to arrive I sipped a very nice 2005 Rioja Reserva. La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi.  It was nice without food as I’ve found a lot of Riojas are. They have enough body to stand alone, enough fruit to be flavorful without food and enough spice to keep things interesting.

When the food came I started off by trying different combinations to see what went the best with the wine. I found that the olive tapenade and the sun-dried tomato bread in general worked very well together. This bread and spread combo helped to enhance the Rioja through the salt in the tapenade and fruity sweetness of the sun-dried tomato bits pulling out the wine’s deep flavours.  The baguette and pesto combination shows the classic case of wine making the food taste better. After drinking the wine, the basil and garlic in the pesto screamed.  Though the hummus was delicious and went well with the raisin roll, it didn’t go that well with the wine, I have to admit. BUT, that would be where white would win!  I went on to have Sangiovese and a Corbiere from the Langudoc region of France, both also good alone and suggested as such by the terrific wine bar aficionado.  Though I didn’t have any white with this meal, I know that many different white wine varieties would have gone very well with each bread and spread, perhaps even more so.

So when not everyone at the table wants the same type of wine, adjust appropriately and suggest food items that are best with both kinds. Other spreads that go well with both types? Different Pates, Fois Gras, Bean Spreads, Chutney, Red Pesto or just go old-fashioned cheese.

And if you get tired of wine after a while or you’re now drunk looking for a night cap there are always really pretty cocktails. They go with everything 🙂

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Mo Money, Mo Moet

Well here I am, in the good ole Emerald Isle now for about 2 weeks now. It should come to no surprise then that I’ve already had my fair share of delicious wines. The list as promised:

Moet – Champagne (This was the first time I had ever tasted Moet or even champagne over the quality value of Andre. It’s 30 times better with lots of acidic fruit flavors. Mmm)

Guerrieri Rizzardi – Munus 2009 (Bardolino Superiore Classica, Garanita from Italy. This delightful burgundy red wine was easy to drink alone or with food. It was velvety and tasted of dark currant and raspberry.)

Bodegas Macaya – Condado de Almara, Spain, Finca Linte 2009, Navarra (Spicy, powerful and perfect with Father Ted 😉 Lighter in color than the other reds described here, but fuller because of the taste of forest fruits.)

Campo Viejo – Rioja, Reserva 2006 (This blend of tempranillo, graciano and mazuelo is easy going. Dark red and full of fruit, the hint of spice helps to balance this tasty wine and for the price there is no better choice.)

Canepa Novisimo – Carmenere 2009 (Chilean wines rank up there with some of my favorite wines. This one in particular was almost purple in color and very smooth on the palate. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks which removes that smoky round flavor that oak sometimes adds to wine.)

Chateau Lamothe Vincent – Bordeaux 2010 (Though this wine hasn’t quite aged enough, the wine store had a sign about some of the awards it’s won, so I went ahead and got it to try. Also, Bordeaux was one of those wines argued over in Bouquet and I wanted to check it out again. Not usually my favorite, the blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon can be a bit harsh. This one wasn’t surprising after I read about the awards and for the price, it was deep and dry with the Cab Sauv coming through a little stronger. It was good and fruit forward.)

Really enjoying the red wine here in the dead of winter, it’s nice, warm and comforting. A few whites to come, but don’t get too excited – I won’t be buying anything white for a few months. Give them a try though, most are relatively inexpensive!

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Ahh! Memory Collapse, must have been the wine?

Well, I can promise it’s not the wine that is keeping me from writing my blog.  Though I wish I could say it was, that would be much more pleasant than not being able to get my photos off my computer at home.  A once lively, jovial computer has now turned bitter cold, yes, as cold as Eiswein on January 6th, 1938. (Watch that be one of the warmest winter days of all time).  Either way, it freezes and all my Ireland wine pictures are stuck on it! So I’ll just tell you the kind of wine I had and what kind of meal it was with.

O’Grady’s in Galway – Salmon with Asparagus in Beurre Blanc (A light white with acidity to cut the richness of the beurre blanc). I wish I would not be blanking on the actual varietal, but I am… will get back to you when computer thaws.

– Montepulciano d’Abruzzo as second wine and also dessert. Full and smooth.  A great choice to pair with meat or as I had it, just for drinking after a meal.

Olesya’s Wine Bar – The most giant meat and cheese board. Ever. (Vinho Verde, light sparkly, balances fat of meat and cheeses well) I do have a picture of this! Rescued it from the clutches of the evil machine! Marinated olives, pate, pesto, 4 cheese and 4 meats. Apricots, golden raisins and one pretty tomato. Yum!

Other wines around the trip: Prosecco! Campo Viejo Rioja, House Sauvignon Blanc (Very grapefuity), House Gewurztraminer (Very floral) and another I can’t remember, a red, that I had at a hotel with Eggplant and potato bake with tomato sauce… soo good.

Though this post is just a list of fairly worthless information, I would suggest that if you are ever in Ireland to visit Olesya’s on Exchequer Street in Dublin as well as O’Grady’s in Galway. Two outstanding places to eat and drink.  Also, most any bar has excellent house wine choices, which is not always the case in the US.

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