Wine on Wednesday

Is there anything better than getting together with friends, dining like kings, and sharing an evening of laughs? There is: getting together with friends, dining like kings, sharing an evening of laughs, AND discovering a new wine. Like this one:

A good wine like this Mark West 2009 Pinot Noir is only improved when shared with friends. And I recently had the honor of trying this wine in the company of some of the most hospitable Corner Brookers I’ve encountered.

We ate the first BBQ of the season, enjoyed some spring asparagus on the side, finished the meal with home-made pie, and shared jokes and tales while sipping this lovely red late into the night. It’s fruity notes, its hints of plum and thyme, and its blueberry-and-pepper finish paired well with hearty steak and veggies, and the wine continued to surprise us with its versatile, cherry flavors long after the meal was over.

And now, when I pick up my own bottle to enjoy at home, I am once again carried away by floral notes and stone fruit, back to that night of good laughs, endless stories, and a night of genuine Newfoundland hospitality.

What wines do you associate with friends and merriment?


Wine on Wednesday

Some people are text messaging fiends, others prefer email. Some people can’t make it through a day without updating their Facebook status, while others Tweet to their heart’s content. I wait for the postal worker’s footsteps on my stairs, and the clang and crash of the mailbox opening and shutting again.

Because sometimes, if I wish hard enough, the mailbox fills with surprises. Like this:

Mail makes (nearly) any wish and whim possible, and has the added bonus of keeping you in a state of constant anticipation.

It’s almost like being next in line. Or waiting for me to get to my point.

So, thanks to mail, I can now jot down the successes and failures of my culinary adventures and keep my favorite recipes organized in one compact package instead of on random post-it notes or scrawled illegibly on the backs of receipts.

I inaugurated my recipe journal with an entry in its wine section. I’ve wanted to try Oregon wines for some time now, but they have generally been out of my budget.

So when this tantalizing Pinot Gris recently went on sale, I wanted to savor every sip and record my first impressions of this new and flourishing wine country.

As my recipe journal reminds me, this 2007 Walnut City Wineworks Pinot Gris has a light lemon and rose bouquet, contrasted by a crisp, aged cheddar-like bite, and dry fruity finish.

I also noted that the wine was light, almost lemon-lime instead of the straw-colored varieties I expect from American Pinot Gris. And although I enjoyed the wine with a delicious vegetable Frittata, my notes remind me to pair it with a salmon dish next time, or bring it along to a friend’s house for a laid-back evening of chats and snacks.

And when I do, I’ll have a place to record those pairings too.

Wine on Wednesday

My (Top-Secret) House Wine

I don’t want to tell you about this Wednesday’s wine. Why? Because I’m afraid that the next time I venture to pick up a bottle, the shelf will be empty because you will have actually listened to me when I tell you to pick up a case.

So, I’d rather not tell you to pick up a case of The Wolftrap:

I’d rather not tell you that you’ll find The Wolftrap with the other South African wines at your local wine store, that it’s only $15, and that it’s produced by Boekenhoutskloof wineries where wolves are heard howling and gnashing their teeth at night, but are never actually seen.

I don’t want to admit to you that this blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Viognier, like last week’s blend, is perfectly drinkable for newbies and wine lovers alike.

So don’t go out and buy a case, because you won’t enjoy the wine’s rich raspberry color, its hints of chocolate and cherry, and its almost smoky finish. You won’t enjoy how perfectly the wine pairs with almost any dish you can imagine…including BBQ chicken pizza. You won’t even enjoy it on its own.

Okay, you will. You will love this wine and, like me, you will want to make it your own house wine, your go-to choice and your fall-back option. So you should go out and buy a case…as long as you invite me over for a glass.

Wine on Wednesday

Wine with a Story

I admit, I wanted to review a Newfoundland wine for this week’s “Wine Wednesday” until I discovered a wine with its own story to tell:

With no disrespect to Newfoundland’s tradition of blueberry and gooseberry wines, they just don’t compare to this Shiraz, Mourvèdre, and Grenache blend. These are some of the oldest grapes grown in the Barossa region of Australia, originating in France and Spain, and together they create magic in a bottle.

Shiraz is probably the most widely recognized grape in the blend, which gives this particular 2007 Peter Lehmann blend a distinct spice. The Mourvèdre, a dark, “tannic” grape, also contributes to the wines zingy-ness and is responsible for the wine’s gorgeous deep red color. But both the Shiraz and the Mourvèdre are toned down by the Grenache which lends the wine a surprising floral fragrance, berry flavors, and a smooth finish. The result is a very drinkable wine, a good choice for wine newbies who want to try something new and versatile.

The wine’s name, “The Seven Surveys” is a tribute to the Barossa region’s pioneering families who brought vine cuttings from France and Spain when they established the region in the 1800s. Today the region still produces grapes from these original plants. The wine’s signature “Queen of Clubs” motif is also a tribute to Peter Lehmann’s gamble of taking on the region, and his good luck producing wines as unique and storied as The Seven Surveys blend.

I raise a glass to that story. And to my own very good luck coming upon this wine in Newfoundland.

Wine on Wednesday

Does Organic Make a Difference?

Last Saturday I (briefly) shared my Organic wine discovery. Some of my favorite wines are deep and luxurious Zinfandels, so I was curious to see if and how an organic variety might alter the Zinf’s characteristic heartiness.

The wine in question is Bonterra Vineyard’s 2007 Organic Zinfandel from Northern California.

Upon first sip, I admit, I completely forgot my organic concern as the wine’s silky texture distracted me instantly. The wine had a complex earthiness, at times sweet like vanilla and woody like mushrooms. Its fragrance is by turns peppery and berry-sweet. Most surprising, however, was the wine’s endlessly smooth texture, keeping any harsh tannins at bay.

So, do organic grapes alter a wine’s taste? In the case of Bonterra, I think its organic nature certainly accounts for its complex flavor and silky texture, but it the wine’s purity and restraint that sets it apart from other Zins, making it very approachable. In fact, I’m already looking forward to approaching a glass or two tonight.

Have you tried any Organic wines worth raving about?