Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rockus Bockus Red Wine, 2007

This is a Sonoma County blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Jeff Bundschu and winemaker Keith Emerson (of Gundlach Bundschu Winery) utilize their extensive knowledge and network to access the best fruit to produce this wine in a style that is bold, fruit-forward, juicy and well priced. This is a modern fruit forward wine with abundant red and black fruit along with sufficient acidity and tannins to lend a moderately serious backbone. On the nose are aromas of fresh raspberry, black cherry, baking spice and wet rocks. In the mouth there are ripe blackberries, cassis, sweet plums and some toasted cardamom. This is a medium bodied wine with a velvety texture and a long graphite tinged zesty finish. This a a lovely wine for a summer barbecue. We purchased the fun wine at Pete’s Wine Shop, in Bellevue, for about $13.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dill Potato Salad

While Kate and I were growing up in Poughkeepsie, our parents would order great potato salad from John's Market. Helen, the owner, used dill pickles in the potato salad and we both have fond memories of this summer favorite. I served this with apple wood smoked turkey for our 4th of July picnic.

3 lbs. New or Yukon Gold potatoes
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large dill pickle, chopped
1 tbsp. pickle liquid
1 small onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 tbsp. mustard
1 tbsp. cider or wine vinegar
1 small bunch fresh dill (or 1 tbsp. dried), chopped
1-3 tsp. salt (to taste)
1-2 tsp. black pepper

Boil potatoes until soft, cool under water, then slice into medium chunks. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients with the chunked potatoes. Serve immediately or refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Columbia Crest Two Vines Vineyard 10 Red Wine, 2008

We have been big fans of Columbia Crest wines for years. I can't think of another American winery that can produce such a tremendous quantity of wine and produce an excellent product at every price point. They have wines starting at about $6 and wines priced above $35. The Vineyard 10 Red Wine can be found in the Seattle area for about $6 and represents excellent quality at a very good price point. This is a modern, fruit-forward blend of predominantly Syrah with Cinsault, Viognier and Mouvedre. This is a medium bodied wine loaded with flavors of plum, black cherry and cassis. The texture is surprisingly rich and smooth with low levels of tannins and gentle acidity. French and American oak barrels added a creamy caramel cloak to this straight forward, easy drinking wine. At this great price, this wine is a slam-dunk for the summer barbecue season.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Georges Duboeuf Morgon, 2009

The "Morgon" is from the Jean Descombes estate in the Beaujolais Provence of France. It's made from the Gamay grape that is traditional to the Burgundy region and rarely found throughout the rest of the wine world. In the glass this wine has a deep garnet color and strong aromas of tart red berries, wet rock and raspberry leaf. This is a medium bodied wine with vibrant sour red cherry, red raspberry, strawberry and flint. There is zippy acidity and very light tannins that work together to keep this wine light and refreshing. Distinctive for it’s crisp red fruit, this is a nice “food wine” that could pair well with Beef Bourguignon or a simple grilled chicken sandwich. We purchased this red Burgundy from Pete’s Wine Shop, in Bellevue, for about $14.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bridlewood Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009

Bridlewood winery is located in the Santa Ynez Valley and is included in the Central Coast AVA that stretches 250 miles along California's coast from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. With the popularity of the movie “Sideways”, the Santa Ynez Valley became renown for Pinot Noir and as a casual travel alternative to the ever popular Napa Valley. The 2009 Bridlewood Cabernet Sauvignon is made from about 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot from Paso Robles. This is a delightful, easy-drinking Cabernet that is very fruit forward, well structured and vibrant. In the glass there are aromas of cherries, plums and baking spice. Flavors blackberry jam, cherry and cassis are rounded by hints of chocolate and creamy caramel. There are supple sweet tannins supported by zesty acidity and some spicy minerality. Bridlewood is best known for producing excellent estate Syrah, however, their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely worth trying. This wine can be found at Pete’s Wine Shop, in Bellevue, for about $13.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Black Bottle, Gastro-Tavern

919 Bellevue Way, NE
Bellevue, WA

Last night we tried a newly opened Black Bottle in downtown Bellevue. This is a modern gastro pub with a slick, industrial, open-air space softened with the abundant use of warm wood and the gentle glow of stylish incandescent lights. We sat at the bar and had some big decisions to make. On the beverage side of the house, they have an extensive selection of interesting draft beers that showcase many small handcrafted brews representing a large variety of flavors and styles... no Bud Light here! Their wine list is equally impressive with a well chosen diverse selection of wine from around the world and from our own pride and joy, the Columbia and Walla Walla Valleys. We ordered a bottle of the 2008 Tapiz Cabernet Sauvagnon, from Mendoza Argentina, to enjoy with some tasty food from their eclectic menu. “Food designed to be shared", we were told, as we ordered the Lamb Meatballs and a Flatbread of Nicoise Olives, Feta, Roasted Tomato and Arugula. Both food choices were well made, delicious and satisfying. The Lamb Meatballs dish had a Middle East meets India feel as savory meatballs were accompanied by grilled vegetables, Tabouli salad and Tandori spiced cubes of Paneer. Our flatbread was served in a rectangular tinned steel fluted tart pan and had a crisp, chewy crust that was perfectly topped with high quality cheese, olives, roasted tomatoes and arugula. We had the pleasure of conversing with the Black Bottle’s Beverage Manager, Noah Goldman, about their interesting wine list and how these wines have been carefully selected to represent wines of high quality and diversity at a reasonable price point. Bottles are fairly priced with many in the mid-twenties to low thirties and no bottles over $50. Since yesterday was the last day of my birthday month, I decided to celebrate and finish our meal with an order of warm Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce. Sweet, fragrant and gooey, this house-made confection was a perfect ending to a fun evening. Last night, the Black Bottle was abuzz, packed with a high energy crowd enjoying the nightlife in yet another Bellevue "hot spot" for excellent food, libations and camaraderie.

Tapiz, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008

This wine has a deep opaque ruby color with a purple hue. On the nose this wine reveals complex berry notes, chocolate, licorice and hints black pepper and cinnamon. It delivers a broad mouthful of dark fruit with cherry, currant, black raspberry balanced by mocha, coffee and some toasty oak. There is excellent depth and length and it shows plenty of complexity with sweet tannins and enough acidity to make it versatile with food. This was a solid wine to pair with our flavorful food.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc, 2009

We have been enjoying lazy days at poolside in the warm Arizona sun. A good friend gave us a bottle of this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to enjoy after a hard day of lounging, soaking and reading. In the glass, this wine has a light lemon yellow color with good clarity. On the nose is aromas of honey, tropical fruits, lemon blossoms and wet rock. This is a medium bodied wine that is fruity and slightly sweet with flavors of gooseberry, pear, lemonade and wheat grass. There is nice acidity and minerality that keeps this fruity wine refreshing and lively. Nothing serious here, but a fun wine to enjoy, icy-cold, after a day in the warm desert sun.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Martin Codax Ergo, 2008

We have been quite busy during the past month and I haven't had time to write about some of the wines we have been enjoying. Presently, we are down in Scottsdale, Arizona and enjoying some welcomed warmth and sunshine. I find myself drinking more beer than wine in an ongoing attempt to keep hydrated in the desert climate. Tonight we decided to pop the cork on a new vintage of a favorite "every-day" Rioja that we have enjoyed in the past. Bodegas Martin Codax was founded in 1986 and represents modern Spanish wine making with the ideal fusion of tradition and innovation. This Bodegas produces fine white wines in the Rias Baix Region and lovely red wines in Rioja. The winemaker is Luciano Amoedo and with Ergo he delivers is a well crafted wine at an everyday price. This wine is a blend of 85% Tempranillo and 15% Mazuelo. The color is deep ruby red that is nearly opaque. The nose is full of red cherry, plum with a hint of leather and exotic spice. This is a medium bodied wine that opens with sweet plum and black cherry and finishes with chocolate, black pepper and a hint of mandarin orange. There are medium tannins and a hint of oak that help round out this modern, fruit-forward, Rioja. This 2008 vintage of Ergo can be found in the Seattle and Phoenix area for about $10. This is a versatile red wine that will work well with any meal, your favorite cheese, or a good bar of chocolate.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Atalaya, 2008

It has been a busy few weeks for us with trips to San Francisco and Scottsdale and a hectic work schedule in between. This weekend things returned to normal as we slipped back into our normal routine of lazy mornings with our laptops, walks in Bellevue Square and casual cuisine with some tasty wines. Tonight, I made stuffed peppers and we enjoyed them with an excellent value wine from eastern Spain. This is the second vintage, available in the Seattle area, of Atalaya from Almansa. The 2008 Atalaya is a blend of Monastrell, Garnacha, and other red grapes. This wine was aged for eight months in French and American oak. The color is deep purple with a violet rim. This wine has a lovely bouquet of black cherries, blueberries, aged cheese and cotton candy. On the palate it has beautiful dark fruit flavors of dried plum, black cherry and blackberry along with some light spice, coco and white pepper on the finish. This is a medium bodied wine with mild tannins and gentle acidity that contribute to a smooth mouth-feel. This is a “new world” wine that is quite delicious and will go well with any hearty meal (like stuffed peppers) or with a nice chunk of dark chocolate. We bought this 2008 Atalaya at Pete’s Wine Shop, in Bellevue, for about $14.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Columbia Crest H3 Les Chevaux Red Wine, 2008

We have been big fans of Columbia Crest wines for many years. I can't think of another American winery that can produce such a tremendous quantity of wine and produce an excellent product at every price point. They have wines starting at about $6 and wines priced above $40. The Columbia Crest 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, was selected as “Wine of the Year”(for 2009) by the Wine Spectator Magazine. The Columbia Crest “H3” wines are upper-mid level wines that sell for about $12 to $14 in the Seattle area. The name “H3” stands for Horse Heaven Hills which is the appellation of this wine and the home of the Columbia Crest Winery in Patterson, Washington. The H3 Les Chevaux is a blend of 34% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 8% Cabernet Franc and 8% Malbec. "Les Chevaux" is French for "the horses" - a reference to the wild horses that once roamed this region. In the glass there is a deep ruby/purple color and lovely aromas of dark berries, crème de cassis, minerals and some spicy oak. This red blend is both bold and elegant with zesty ripe blackberry cherry, currant, and blueberry balanced by espresso, licorice, flint and spice flavors. The medium bodied frame supports smooth tannins on a long, creamy finish. This is a delicious “new world “ blend that is a great value from the Horse Heavens Hills AVA. This wine can be found at Pete's Wine Shop, in Bellevue, for about $13.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera, 2009

We love many wines from Piedmont and Barbera is definitely one of the great "food wines" of the world. With crisp acidity, low tannins and fresh berry flavors, Barbera is one of the favored varietals to accompany the delightful cusine of the region. When we traveled in Piedmont, back in 2003, we stopped at Fontanafredda on a warm autumn day. Since that time, we have been buying this Briccotondo Barbera, every new vintage, and are definitely enjoying the ritual. The color is a deep ruby red with purple tones on the rim. On the nose there are notes of red cherries and plums with some wet rocks. This is a medium bodied wine with a smooth texture and rich flavors of blackberry, cherry, cranberry, burnt almond and earth. There is zesty acidity followed by gentle tannins that add to the long and harmonious finish. We bought this Barbera at the Seattle Wine Company for about $12. This wine is a good choice for your next Italian dinner or a pepperoni pizza!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Whitman Cellars Syrah,Walla Walla, 2002

I recently read that Whitman Cellars, of Walla Walla, closed their doors after 13 years of wine making. So last night I decided to pull a bottle of the Whitman 2002 Syrah, from our cellar, and bid farewell to a winery I always respected. The wine has a deep ruby-red color and is nearly opaque. The nose is packed with black fruit, smoke, mineral, cedar, blueberry and blackberry. The palate is very rich and ripe with wonderful flavors of ripe black fruit, espresso, spice, vanilla and mocha commingle to create a luscious and balanced wine. The powerful dark fruit flavors are firmed by solid tannins and lifted by gentle minerality and acidity. It has plenty of complexity and structure and is still fresh and lively. This is a solid effort from a winery that is now a part of Washington State's wine making history. So long Whitman Cellars!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, 2007

This is a red table wine made from 100% Montepulciano grapes that are native to the Abruzzo region of Italy. Until recent times, many of the Montepulciano wines from Abruzzo have been of questionable quality and are characterized by cooked fruit flavors with very little distinction or pizzazz. The Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo represents a pleasant trend in wines coming from the Abruzzo region of central Italy. In the glass this wine has a deep ruby/purple color. Aromas of fresh cherries, tobacco and cocoa precede delicious flavors of black cherry, plum, fig and some earth. This is a medium bodied wine with smooth integrated tannins and vibrant acidity. This wine says “Italy” and will compliment any hearty pasta or flavorful aged cheese. This wine is available in the Seattle area for about $13.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Finca El Tesso Tempranillo, 2008

Finca El Tesso wines, from Bodega Martinez Paiva, comes form a relatively unknown region of western Spain. The Ribera del Guadiana D.O. is in the Extremadura region of Spain and is characterized by a mild climate with Atlantic influence. This area is known for producing Black Iberian pigs used in producing some of Spain’s best hams. This wine is imported by Small Vineyards, of Seattle, and represents their philosophy of finding special wines that showcase the regional character of Italy and Spain. This Tempranillo is a very interesting wine and we had fun drinking this wine over a two day period this week. What made this wine exciting was the evolution of flavors that occurred as the wine was decanted and exposed to air. Many wines will change in their aromas and flavors as they are exposed to air. It is generally acknowledged that these changes reveal the full potential of the wine and allow for smoothness, balance and depth to fully appear. The Finca El Tesso Tempranillo has a deep purple/ruby color and is nearly opaque. I can not describe this wine without “time-lines” to highlight how the tastes and aromas changed immensely after some short-term decanting. Initially there is an interesting nose of black berries, lead pencil and the unexpected, fresh apples and pears. In the mouth the surprise continues with a medium bodied wine showing fresh black cherry, plum, graphite, some burnt rubber and the still present, apples and pears. Wow, we were not expecting Autumn fruits. There are a medium amount of tannins and subtle acidity that contribute to the interesting profile. As the evening progressed, the decanted wine went through a very noticeable metamorphosis of flavor, aroma and overall character that left us amazed of the transformation. The aromas of apples and pears disappeared and were replaced by prune, fig and tar. The flavors of apples and pears also left and were replaced by stewed prunes, licorice, chocolate nibs and burnt cedar. Even the “mouth-feel” changed, becoming more full bodied, tannic and dense. This was an “amusement park” of a wine that gives you two distinct choices; drink it quickly (fresh and quirky) or let it open-up (elegant and powerful)… your choice! The decanted version of this wine pairs well with a wood-grilled NY Steak. I purchased this Tempranillo at Wine World Warehouse, in Seattle, for about $11.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Domaine la Garrigue Cuvee Romaine, 2009

Last week we enjoyed a bottle of Domaine Andezon Cotes du Rhone Red Wine. This wine was predominantly Syrah and we thought it was really delicious and was a great value from the 2009 vintage. This weekend we tried another lovely wine from the 2009 vintage, but this time the wine is predominantly Grenache with a small amount of Syrah and Mourvedre. Cuvee Romaine is another custom cuvee for Eric Solomon Selections made by famed Rhone oenologist, Philippe Cambie. This wine is well crafted and has a deep purple color and an expressive nose of black cherry, licorice and violets. This wine is full bodied and loaded with ripe black fruit, raspberry jam, and herbes de Provence. The are abundant velvety tannins, crisp acidity and notable minerality that balance this impressive wine. This wine is very nice now, but should soften and develop beautifully with a few years in the cellar. We bought the Domaine la Garrigue Cuvee Romaine at Pete’s Wine Shop, in Bellevue, for about $14.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Andezon Cotes du Rhone, 2009

Eric Solomon is one of my favorite importers of wines from France and Spain. Back in 1994, Eric visited the Vignerons d’Estazarques and met their winemaker, Jean-Francois Nicq. They decided to create a custom bottling of old vine Syrah from one of the wineries best parcels, Andezon. Eric Solomon has a talent for finding great winemakers that will join him to create outstanding wines to import to the United States. This 2009 Cotes du Rhone is made from 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache. In the glass this wine has a deep, dark ruby color with black and purple hues. There are beautiful aromas of ripe cherries, raspberries and roses. This is a medium to full bodied wine with a rich mouth-feel and flavors of blackberry, blueberry and cassis. There is a delicious creaminess in the mouth and the fruit forward profile of this wine is balanced by nice acidity, smooth tannins along with spicy black pepper on the finish. Definitely more “New-World” then Old, there is pure pleasure in drinking this lovely wine. This wine can be found at Pete’s Wine Shop, in Bellevue, for about $13. Pair this wine with any meal or sip with your favorite cheese.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Evodia, 2009

The 2009 Evodia is a young red wine made from 100% Garnacha grapes from Spain’s promising wine growing region of Calatayud. This region is distinguished by its prevalence of high elevation vineyards planted with the Garnacha grape in dry, slatey soil. This wine, made from old vines, is imported by Eric Solomon and represents another nice value wine from an up-coming Spanish DO. In the glass this wine has a dark ruby color with nice clarity. There are expressive aromas of fresh raspberry, blackberry leafs and minerals. This is a medium bodied wine that is quite fruit-forward with red cherry, raspberry and strawberry complimented by wet stone and white pepper. There are smooth tannins and racy acidity that complete the profile. This wine is tank-aged without the use of oak and is easy to enjoy with any casual dinner. We enjoyed this Spanish Garnacha with Pulled Pork Sandwiches with my homemade Mustard BBQ Sauce. This wine can be found at Pete’s Wine shop, in Bellevue, for about $11.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hudson Shah Malbec, 2008

Amongst the ever growing list of wineries in Woodinville, Washington, the Woodhouse Estate Winery is producing a large variety of well crafted wines from grapes grown throughout the Washington State wine country. Woodhouse was started in 2004 by husband and wife team, Bijal and Sinead Shah. Their wines are marketed under various labels including Kennedy Shah, Hudson Shah, Dussek and Maghee. We purchased a few of these wines to enjoy during the holiday season and found them to be solid wines that reflect the excellence in Washington wines at reasonable price points. The 2008 Hudson Shah Malbec shows that the Malbec grape has a place amongst the Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon in the Columbia Valley. This wine has a dark purple/red color and is nearly opaque. There are pleasant aromas of ripe black cherries, violets, black pepper and some toasty oak. This is a medium bodied wine, fruit-forward, with cherry, blackberry, coffee, baking spice and some creamy vanilla. There is a nice level of acidity that keeps it fresh and the delightful mouth feel is filled with abundant smooth tannins. This wine retails for $16, but can be found in the Seattle area for a few dollars less. This wine is delicious on it’s own and will pair well with any hearty meal including a hefty Lasagna or a grilled Rib eye Steak.