Monthly Archives: May 2013

Drinking Tonight: Masciarelli Rosato

It’s a hot, sticky day, and I’ve been helping my friend Maria Walusis of Nibbles Culinary Entertainment prep for a big catered event tomorrow.  Time for a bacon-wrapped tenderloin, with some of Maria’s mushroom demiglace sauce, and a bottle of rosé.  This is a 2010 Collino Teatino (Italy); it runs about $13 retail in Ohio. )

Color: dark pink with a coppery tinge at the edge.

Aroma: cherry (almost kirsch) with some spice and berry fruit.

Taste: tart and lively, with berry fruit and some earthy notes. The finish has a hint of white truffles and white pepper.

A good bottle and very dependable year to year.  I like Masciarelli’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, too.

Drinking Tonight: Barnard Griffin Sangiovese Rosé

This is one of the few leftover bottles I have from last summer – it’s the 2011 vintage, Columbia Valley.  A nice producer, I’ve been a fan of this for some time.  I’m having this with grilled soy-sherry marinated chicken breasts.

Color: deep for a rosé – dark pink like fresh red raspberries. 

Aroma: classic Sangiovese – cherry and burnt orange peel, with a touch of star anise

Taste: Lively, with excellent acidity and fruit. The spice and the tiny touch of tannin show up on the finish. Very nice, and reminiscent of a good Italian rosé.  As good a quality as this wine is, I’m surprised that there aren’t more Tuscan-style wines from Washington.  Someone needs to get on that!

A definite buy for the summer.  I’ll have a report on the recently released 2012 in the next 6 weeks, I hope.  My eBook on rosé should be out around the same time – look for Wine Me Up! Rosé in July.


Drinking Tonight: Pontificis

This is a Southern Rhone clone (50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre) from the Pays d’Oc. I picked the 2011 vintage up at Trader Joe’s today for $9.  I’m having this with a goat cheese crotin and a crisp salad of bitter greens (beet and mustard greens, baby kale, carrot greens, etc)

Color: Straight red and garnet-red color.  Almost opaque in the middle.

Aroma: Cocoa and roasted earth notes from the Grenache dominate. There’s a little sweetish plum and cherry fruit underneath that.

Taste: This has some nice body – very much in the Rhone style, with good tannic and spicy length; really impressive length for a $9 bottle of French.  I wish it had a little more fruit in the middle – the cocoa-earth-spice complex dominates.  I’m going to try this with a hunk of dark chocolate a little later tonight.

A nice one to have on your shelf in the Rhone/GSM category.  

Drinking Tonight: Graham Beck The Game Reserve Cabernet

A nice bottle from Western Cape, South Africa – this is the 2010 vintage.  As part of the family commitment to nature, they keep 5 square miles of land around the vineyard as a wild game reserve, and they feature engravings of different local wildlife on the labels each year.

Color: purple, verging toward blue in the center – a sign of good extraction and clean winemaking.

Aroma: cassis and blueberries, with just a touch of chocolate, oaky vanilla, and cigar box underneath.

Taste: Rich, but not overpowering; good fruit and acidity together, moderate tannins toward the back of the palate, and a full finish with more chocolate notes. Very nicely made.

Well worth the ~$18 a bottle – this is something to keep on the shelf as a go-to Cab, especially if you’re tired of the same old California stuff.

Drinking Tonight: The Executioner

Since I discovered this wine a few years ago, I’ve been a huge fan. I sold nearly 10% of their US production at the wine shop I used to manage.  This is the 2008 vintage – 55% Shiraz, 43% Cabernet, and 2% Viognier from Victoria, Australia.

The owner, George Shinas, is a judge in Australia, and all his labels are judicial-themed, with great sepia-toned labels. He reserves the best few barrels of his varietal Shiraz and Cabernet for his flagship blend.

Color: This is a dark garnet red with a clear, clean edge.

Aroma: Very Australian – mint, oak, spice, hot fruit underneath. I opened this straight from the cellar (58 Fahrenheit) and the 15% alcohol is noticeable.

Taste: The alcohol does not come through on the palate: big, chewy, jammy fruit with moderate spice – the oaky vanilla notes come through on the finish, along with a return of the mint and eucalyptus.

$30 in Ohio, but totally worth it. For the money, this is one of the best Australian wines you can find. There were only a few hundred cases shipped to the US, so ask your wine shop to contact the importers, Vine Street.


Drinking Tonight: Chateau Moulin de Beausejour

A basic Bordeaux Superieur (which refers to alcohol content, not any inherent advantage in quality) from Trader Joe’s. The 2011 cost $8.50, so I’m not expecting much. At worst, I can throw this in an ice cube tray and use it for sauces and stews.  

Color: A nice blue-purple; it’s young, obviously, but this means it was made with good climate control, hygiene, and attention to oxygen.

Aroma: Definitely some cassis in there, along with cherry and some other berry fruit. 13.5% alcohol, but you can’t smell it.

Taste: Yeah, it’s young and it’s tight. This falls off very quickly, leaving just tannin on the finish. Fairly well balanced up front.

I’m going to leave a bottle in the cellar and see what it’s like in 2-3 years.


Drinking Tonight: Project Happiness Syrah

This is one of the Trader Joe’s exclusive wines, from Oreana Winery in California. I purchased the 2011 for $8 recently, am having this with a pot of chili.

Color: nice and purple, not quite opaque.

Aroma: black cherry, spice, blackberry, some chocolate and licorice.

Taste: this is a good food wine – plenty of acidity, and despite the 13.8% alcohol it’s not hot or flabby. Starts out with more fruit, then about halfway back on the tongue transitions to a spice- and chocolate-dominated profile. Medium tannins on the back of the tongue and on the gums. Decent length on the finish.

I’ll buy this again; can drink it solo (like a basic Cotes du Rhone) or with a reasonably spicy meal. I’m curious how this would be with Cajun.

Sangria time soon!

It will soon be Sangria season. My recipe can be mostly prepared several days in advance.

  • 2 bottles hearty Spanish red (Grenache or Grenache blend)
  • 2 pears, cored and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen berry mix
  • 48 oz bottle of fruity lemonade/limeade (I like Trader Joe’s Pomegranate Limeade)
  • 1 L sparkling water

Combine all ingredients except the sparkling water in a large container, and keep covered in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours (you can keep this up to 5 days long).  Just before serving, add the sparkling water.

Check out my forthcoming ebook on Sangria, Mimosas, Bellinis, and other wine cocktails for more recipes and advice!

Drinking Tonight: Les Tuileries

A basic 2009 Bordeaux, 65% Cabernet and 35% Merlot, for under $20. Having this with steak and onions off the grill.

Color: a good Bordeaux garnet red.

Aroma: oak/truffle earth notes, then cherry and blackberry fruit.

Taste: Tart fruit – nothing wrong, but nothing extraordinary either. 2009 was a good year, but for a petit chateau like this you can’t expect the world. OK with the steak, better with the onions.  Next time I’ll serve this with kabobs.