Monthly Archives: July 2013

Drinking Tonight: Rocca dell’Olmo Barbaresco

A 2009 Nebbiolo, $12.  Had this at Mom’s the other night with a big lasagna.

Photo0187Color: russet-red, not quite bricky-colored yet.

Aroma: cherry and smoke.

Taste: tart and bright – this needs some air.  After 10 minutes in the glass, lots of smoke and dried cherry, with white pepper and a bit of truffle.  Very nice.

Excellent deal for $12 for this part of Italy. Recommended.



Winetasting Report: Trader Joe’s

Did some shopping this afternoon at Trader Joe’s in Kettering, and tried 2 wines as well. (I always make sure to taste judiciously, drink water, nibble on something, and use the spit/dump bucket when I taste at multiple venues in the same day.)

Saint-Bris (2012) Sauvignon de Saint-Bris, France, $13.

A strange little subzone of eastern France, near Burgundy, but specializing in Sauvignon Blanc. This is crisp, with big grassy, mineral, and gooseberry notes. Very nice, and not at all like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. A really good deal for the money, and a fantastic wine for raw oysters or other shellfish. Recommended.

Zumaya Tempranillo (2011) Ribero del Duero, $11.50.

Fruity – but this is a young Ribero with probably no time in oak. A big impression up front, but it tails off pretty quickly without much sophistication. The La Granja Tempranillo I tried a few weeks ago (and bought a case of) is a much better deal.


Winetasting Report: Kroger Marketplace Centerville

Met some buddies at the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, OH for their Friday tasting – wines from Duckhorn, plus a bonus Knight’s Valley Cabernet from Beringer. The tasting venue is very nice – a good ambience, decent glasses, and complimentary nibbles.

Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc (2011) Napa Valley, California, $30.

A bright brassy color. It needs to warm up a bit, then the aroma becomes quite heady. A creamy mouthfeel, with sweet citrus and just a little acrid on the finish. After it warms up, there’s more grass and gooseberry, with a hint of lemongrass. A big body – 13% alcohol.

Migration Chardonnay (2009) Russian River Valley, California, $30.

Straw yellow in color, with butter and grilled toast aromas. A moderate style – it’s not overoaked. Notes of golden apple and sweet butter, pretty tasty. 14.1% alcohol, so it’s not overly hot or oily. Recommended.

Decoy Red Blend (2010) Napa Valley, California, $25.

They don’t print the blend details on the label, but this is composed of Bordeaux varieties with some Zin, if memory serves. Very California in style. It’s a dark purple-red, with a jammy/cooked fruit nose. Lots of blackberry, cassis, and plum, with some toasty oak. Medium-weight tannins – it could use some air to really bring out the finish. Recommended.

Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon (2010) Sonoma Valley, California, $25.

Very dark in color, with cassis and blueberry aromas. Pretty big up front, with jammy and chewy character, but the finish runs away very quickly. Not my favorite – there are plenty of good Cabs for $20 and under that hold up longer. Not Recommended.

Beringer Knight’s Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (2010) Knight’s Valley, California, $40 marked down to $30.

The star of the show – inky dark blue-purple in color, with a big, heady aroma of chocolate and cassis. Plenty of tannin on the palate, with a reprise of fruit and cocoa that coat the tongue nicely. Recommended at the mark-down price.

Drinking Tonight: Liberté Pinot Noir

I’ve made a cous-cous and vegetable salad, and grilled a salmon filet, so I’m going to be drinking this 2011 San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir with it. I purchased this for $14 at Trader Joe’s.

Photo0179Color: light garnet; a good color for a young Pinot.

Aroma: berries and cherry, with just a hint of cola.

Taste: light and feminine, with more berry notes, that little touch of cola and spice, and good acidity. Very much a food wine, and a good choice for the salmon.

This qualifies as a ‘value’ Pinot – it’s almost impossible to find anything under $10 worth drinking at all in this grape, so I’m grateful to find something under $20 that’s I can keep a couple of bottles of. It’s quaffable Pinot, suitable for drinking with a little chill on it during a lazy summer afternoon.


Drinking Tonight: Panilonco Merlot-Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon

Two more Chileans from Trader Joe’s.  I’m making a spicy steak pizza and thought these would be good pairings.  The blend is 50-50.

Photo0170Panilonco Merlot-Malbec (2011) Colchagua Valley, Chile, $6.00

Color: very dark purple

Aroma: fruity, with lots of black plum and a hint of cassis.

Taste: pretty standard Merlot profile; the Malbec adds a little bit of spiciness up front and some tannin on the end.  It’s also a little hot; the Merlot might have been picked too early.

Panilonco Cabernet Sauvignon (2011) Colchagua Valley, Chile $6.00

Color: Cabernet red with a slight tinge of ochre on the rim; oak-aged most likely.

Aroma: not very big – some spice, a little bit of cherry fruit.

Taste: cassis and cocoa; the oak is just right for a New World styled wine. On the finish, this has dried fruit and some herbal notes as well.  It’s a little jammy for my tastes, but it has enough acidity for food.

A good selection: neither are world-beaters, but they both have something good to offer, and certainly fit the “value wine” category,


Drinking Tonight: Protea Chenin Blanc

Found this bottle at Bruning’s Wine Cellar the other day and giving it a shot with a salad and some Norwegian wolf fish – I’ve made a mirepoix with a little tomato, and am cooking the fish in parchment paper and foil on the grill.  I really don’t want to heat the house up today!

This is a 2012 from the Coastal Region, in a distinctive painted-glass bottle. Protea is the national flower of South Africa, and it’s the nickname of their national cricket team as well. The wine is $17 – about the most I’ve ever paid for a South African Chenin Blanc; let’s see if it’s worth it.



Color: Pale blonde; there’s a touch of residual carbon dioxide – not unusual for this grape –  that shows up as very fine bubbles when it’s initially poured.

Aroma: quite lovely, with honeysuckle, honeydew melon, canteloupe, and a touch of fresh grass and apple blossoms.

Taste: this is expansive on the palate, with a big front mouthful of fruit, followed by a gentler midpalate with some Golden Delicious apple, and then a more aromatic finish. Good acidity throughout, and this is better at 45º than 35º.

Maybe the best Chenin Blanc I’ve ever had – I am truly impressed by this.  Can’t wait for dinner to come off the grill!

Recipe: Ratatouille from the Grill

One of my favorite healthy summertime dishes. There are two great advantages to using the grill for most of the cooking:

  1. It doesn’t heat the house up!
  2. You use less oil – raw eggplant is an absolute sponge for olive oil.
  • 2 medium eggplant, sliced 3/4″ thick
  • 2-3 medium zucchini, quartered and seeded
  • 4 medium yellow squash, halved and seeded
  • 2-3 pounds ripe tomatoes, rough chopped
  • 2 red onions, peeled and halved
  • 3 sweet onions, peeled and halved
  • 4 bell peppers (mix of yellow and green)
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme, pulled from the stems
  • 4 stalks fresh basil, coarse chopped

Start prepping vegetables for the grill – they cook at different speeds, and you’ll use a lot of grill space, so clean, core, and slice as you grill.

Add the tomatoes and olive oil to a large pot and bring to medium heat.

Start grilling the bell peppers. Turn the peppers so that they char on all sides, top, and bottom, then place them in a tightly sealed plastic bag for several minutes; the steam they release in the bag helps loosen the skin.  Afterwards, run them under cold water and use your fingers to remove the blackened skin, stem, seeds, and ribs.  Then cut into 1″ pieces and add to the pot.

Continue grilling the other vegetables, turning once so they get good char marks on all sides. Then cut into 1″ pieces and add to the pot, stirring gently.

Add the tomato juice and herbs.  Turn the heat down to low and cook until the tomatoes start to break down, then pull off the heat.

Makes 4-5 quarts.

This is best either cold with bread for lunch, or served warm with pasta, pork, chicken, or flaky fish.  It gets better overnight in the refrigerator.