Note to self: Do not start writing about wine while the steaks are on the barbeque.
I recently received a bottle of Rustico Farm & Cellars Motherlode Merlot (~$25) as a sample and tonight I opened it to sip along side our grilled steak, baked potato, and salad.
This 2007 was much closer to garnet than ruby in colour and I could see right through it, much like I can a Pinot Noir. That surprised me. I'm used to Merlot with colour and intensity a good deal darker.
On the nose its perfume struck me right away: violets, plum, sweet spice, smoke, and black olives.
On the palate it was juicy and bright with soft tannins and flavours of ripe black cherries, red plums, and a little bit of sage and a finish that wasn't long, but certainly lingered. Thankfully, the flavours weren't overwhelmed by the whopping 14.8% ABV.
This is a wine I could easily serve to guests or take along to a friend's for dinner. But I wouldn't necessarily save it for a special occasion. It's a drink-me-now kind of wine.
And why the note to self above? Well, my distraction (in the form of writing) meant our steaks ended up over cooked and under flavoured.
The idea is simple: First, you, the wine lover, contribute a bottle from your cellar. Second, you, the wine lover, bid on one, two, or many of the mixed cases. Your generous contribution will be turned into money for disaster relief.
Of course, if you don't have a bottle to contribute—and not everyone has—then you are more than welcome to simply bid on the mixed cases.
Some tremendous bottles have already been offered, from a 1976 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Beerenauslese to a Methuselah (6.0 litre bottle) of 2005 Rodney Strong Rockaway Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Rick and I are going to donate a 1.5 litre (Magnum) bottle of the 2006 Osoyoos Larose Grand Vin, a B.C. Bordeaux-style red wine valued at $85, if I can figure out how to get it to David Honig (publisher and organizer) legally and intact. If I am unable, then I will send David $85 for him to put into the pot that will go to help the people of Haiti.
I had the lobster mayonnaise mixed with tarragon and served with pickled miniature carrots, onions, and green beans on lettuces. Along with my salad, I had a glass of the 2008 Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris.
This wine presented with stone fruit, green apple and both floral and mineral notes on the nose. There was a wonderful mouth-feel, with flavours of green apples, peaches, and citrus on the palate. The finish was fresh and lasting. It worked perfectly with the rich lobster, creamy mayonnaise, tarragon, and greens.
Rick had the beef brisket with hot English mustard, Havarti, and sauerkraut on rye along with a cup of house-made tomato soup and a glass of California wine: 2007 Mark West Central Coast Pinot Noir. Of course, I got to taste it, too.
On the nose, this Pinot Noir showed black cherries, earth, tobacco, and an aroma I can best describe as cement—but in a good way. On the palate it was juicy with more really dark red fruits, blueberries, and something a little vegetal.
For dessert, we each had a serving of the house-made rice pudding with poached pear and Port reduction. This is not the rice pudding your grandmother makes. Nope. It was not overly sweet and had such a rich, creamy texture that I didn't want my dish to empty.
I had no clue what to drink with it (I didn't want coffee or tea) so our server, Megan, asked Patrick to recommend a sipper. He chose a Sherry called Alvear Amontillado. Now, I don't know an awful lot about Sherry (actually, make that next to nothing) but this one was golden, nutty, rich in a caramel sort of way, with sweet and salty working together. Yes—a fine complement to the pudding.
There was nothing wrong with the Folonari, I just think the Masi is a better value. I found a dusty minerality, ripe red fruits and berries, and a little sweet spice on the nose. On the palate were juicy red fruits, berries, and cherries, vanilla and spice, with soft tannins. A great little Italian food wine that will go well with meats and tomato sauces. This wine promises to please a crowd without breaking the bank.
Wine number two, the Rosso Delle Venezie, didn't even get to play. It had a very large dose of Brett, a fault, so back to the liquor store it goes.
This Pinot Grigio had salt-water taffy and flowers, with white and green fruits on the nose. On the palate were fresh fruits and steely notes, finishing with a burnt-caramel taste that was really quite yummy. It had more body and depth than most Pinot Grigios I’ve tasted. This is another great little Italian food wine that will go especially well with soft cheeses and creamy pastas. The bonus is this wine’s as kind to the palate as it is to the pocket book.
I had hoped the 2007 Stone Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from California—received in my Opimian Select order some months back—would be a fab match to our grilled strip loin steaks at dinner tonight.
I came home after work and took great care to rub our steaks with olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Then I went about preparing the potatoes and salad. When everything else was ready, I took the steaks out to the barbeque and threw them on the cast iron grills. The sizzle made me smile.
The wine, however, did not. What it did was make me a big promise: on the nose I got blackberries, green bell pepper, coffee, and a lovely, dusty minerality.
But then, on the palate, it was just juice. It wasn't highly offensive juice. It was just, well, juice. No tannins. No mouth-watering acidity. No mingling flavours creating depth. It reminded me right away of the cordial-like, concentrated, blackberry juice my son's best friend's grandmother makes every year. They call it Omi Juice.
Teeny bubbles. Not to be confused with Don Ho's Tiny Bubbles, except we are talking about similar stuff. Sort of.
Let me clarify...
I've just opened a teeny bottle (200 ml) of bubbles—Freixenet Carta Nevada Brut($4.63/12% ABV), a Cava, to go along with my home-late-from-work dinner of toast and Cheez Whiz. And it's not too bloody bad together.
The wine's flavours are typical: citrusy, yeasty, a little stone fruit, and some green apple. But the mousse does not survive me typing a sentence or two.
It's cheap, cleaned my palate between bites, and is making me sleepy.
I served up some braised chicken tonight. It wasn't a true coq au vin, but it was truly delicious.
Here are the steps I took:
Started with the really good olive oil I had picked up last time I was at Well Seasoned in Langley. It imparts such a lovely flavour. Once it was well heated I browned just over a kg of skinless, boneless, sea-salted, and cracked-peppered chicken thighs in my cast iron roasting pan.
Once browned, I removed the thighs from the pan and threw in a chopped-up onion, two cloves of garlic and stirred them around until the onions were just translucent.
Then I poured in about one cup of 2008 Domaine Mondié, a Vin de Pays D'Oc Merlot/Syrah blend (from the area in France known as the Languedoc), and scraped all the good bits off the bottom of the pan.
After scraping, I put the chicken back in the pan and added more salt and pepper, thyme, and a bay leaf. Then I poured in about two cups of chicken broth and another cup of red wine.
A cut parsnip, two bunches of carrots (cleaned but not scraped) and a layer of tiny potatoes were the next into the roaster. On top of those went more thyme and a freshly picked sprig of rosemary (I'm so glad my rosemary tree lives through the winter!).
An hour and a half in the oven and our supper was ready!
Since I didn't use all the wine for the chicken, we were able to enjoy it in a glass, too.
This wine is one that I received in my Opimian Select order. It has black fruit and black pepper, plus a little minerality on the nose. On the palate, it's round but has some juiciness, with flavours of dark fruit and pepper that don't linger too long. Perfectly serviceable, it went well with the dinner and is okay to sip on its own. I sure wouldn't count on this one to lie down for any length of time; if I had a second bottle, I'd open it as soon as possible.