Sunday, February 27, 2005
E&E Barossa Valley Black Pepper Shiraz 1994
Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel 1999
These wines don't have much in common except that they're red, and we drank them some time ago. (The bottles have been in storage waiting for us to either soak the labels off or finally get smart enough to realize that digital photos are a whole lot easier.) They're all favorites for one reason or another.
Stoney Ridge was Margaret Anne's favorite Niagara Peninsula winery. They've changed ownership since this was bought, and it's just not the same. This was bought on Margaret Anne's second (Ed's first) visit to the winery in 1996. We don't remember a lot about it other than that it was a really enjoyable wine to drink.
We could go on and on about the E&E Shiraz. Margaret Anne and her mother, Alice, first had E&E Shiraz at International Wine and Food Festival at the Banff Springs Hotel the year Australia was featured. After trying this wine in a tasting, Margaret Anne was all ready to go buy a couple of bottles, only to find them all sold out in the wine shop (some guy who knew about it beforehand had gone in and bought out the stock). However, they did have the sparkling version. She gave it a try, and was hooked. Since then, every time we go to Calgary we check the wine stores. We buy as much as we can (one store has a two-bottle limit when it comes in). Ed also found a dusty bottle in a basement liquor store in Banff. Both versions of this shiraz are full-bodied, lusty wines, full of flavor and good with food or on their own.
Margaret Anne loves Cline wines. We can usually only get them when some show up in the local liquor stores after the American Wine Fair comes to town. When we went to Sonoma in 2002 we made certain that we stopped in at Cline. This one, however, came from Regina. A great example of a wonderful zinfandel--a favorite varietal of both of us.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Valckenberg Madonna Auslese (Rheinhessen) 2003
We're members of the German Wine Society, so a fine German Riesling holds no terrors for us, unlike certain wine drinkers who shy away from anything that might be (horrors!) on the sweeter end of the wine scale. And yes, this Valckenberg Madonna Auslese is a fairly sweet wine, but it is an extremely well-made wine, too, with just the right acidity to balance the sugar. A very typical Auslese, and that means quality. Once again, we chose this wine to go with a recipe from John Ash's cookbook From The Earth to the Table, in this case Soy-Poached Game Hens, although there being a dearth of game hens in our refrigerator we made do with skinless chicken breasts. And, once again, Ash was right on the money with his suggestion of a fruity Gewürztraminer or Riesling--the wine was a perfect match. Recommended if you already know you like German whites--recommended even more if you've never tried one.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Stonehaus Farms Apple Wine
Okay, we're wandering a little out of our usual drinking pattern here, but don't jump to conclusions: this may be apple wine, but it's no Thunderbird (not, we hasten to add, that we know what Thunderbird tastes like). We visited Stonehaus Farms during a 2003 visit to the Kansas City area. We were intrigued when we discovered that wineries existed in Missouri (apparently they exist in all 50 states!), so we made a point to visit some. Most of them are on the other side of the state, near St. Louis, but there are several near Kansas City, and we were pleasantly surprised--not by the wine, so much, as by the ambience of the wineries. Aside from the unusual varieties of wine being made (Concord, Norton, and various fruit wines), the wineries could have been located in any of the other wine regions we've visited, such as the Okanagan, the Niagara peninsula, or Sonoma.
Anyway, we tasted this apple wine at Stonehaus Farms in Lee's Summit, and were impressed enough to buy a bottle, which we finally got around to opening this week. Not surprisingly, the main flavor to be found in this wine is green apple. In fact, that's pretty much the only flavor to be found in this wine--but you know, that's OK. We've both had grape wines made from classic varietals that were less drinkable than this. It's very dry and food-friendly (OK, it went with chicken, which is not a terribly complicated food to match, but still...).
We've never been much for fruit wines, but between this and a very nice locally made pear wine Margaret Anne discovered in Spearfish, South Dakota, on the same trip, we may have to rethink that.
Monday, February 21, 2005
Pillitteri Estates Gewürztraminer Riesling 2003
We've had, and enjoyed, this wine at The Willow on Wascana, a new restaurant here in Regina (although at $7 a glass or something like that, it's more than a tad overpriced there). That was one reason we bought it. The other was that we needed an inexpensive Gewürztraminer to make a recipe from John Ash's cookbook From The Earth to the Table that called for a cup (!) of Gewürztraminer. The Pilletteri Estates Gewürztraminer Riesling was about $14--not quite the cheapest, but since we wanted to be able to drink it, too, and we already knew we liked it, it seemed like the best bet. John Ash recommends a Gewürztraminer with this dish and (not surprisingly, considering his pedigree!) was absolutely correct. The dish was delicious and the wine complemented it perfectly. Well worth buying, either for drinking on its own, or for accompanying a suitable dinner.
Marques de Riscal Limousin Reserva 2000
Like the Canyon Road Sauvignon Blanc we blogged about previously, we picked up a couple of bottles of this Spanish Limousin mainly because it was being discontinued by the Saskatchewan Liquor Board (oops, just realized that's the old name--it's now called the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority). This is essentially a Chardonnay, or at least it tastes like one. Although we're not averse to Chardonnays, neither of us is a big fan of the heavily oaked California-style ones. This lacked that kind of overbearing sharpness, while maintaining a bit of the butteriness the best Chardonnays also boast. It's extremely dry--too dry to be entirely enjoyable all on its own--but it worked well with food. (We had a bit of it with the Dijon-smeared lamb we mainly drank Pinot Noir with--see the post on the Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir--and it was OK, though nowhere near as good as the Pinot Noir was.) It emphatically did not work with the pork-in-fruit-sauce dish we had last night. A fine wine, but we probably wouldn't go out of our way to buy it again.
Canyon Road Sauvignon Blanc 2003
We both enjoy a good Sauvignon Blanc. The 2003 Canyon Road Sauvignon Blanc did not disappoint, although it's nothing spectacular. To be honest, we picked up about three bottles of it mainly because it's being discontinued by the Saskatchewan Liquor Board and thus was marked down. Nevertheless, it's a fine example of Sauvignon Blanc, very typical, and very drinkable, both as a reception wine and with food--we had it with chicken, I believe (it's been a few days). We might well pick up a couple of more bottles if there are any left next time we're in the store we normally frequent.
Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir 2000
We picked up this bottle of Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir 2000 in Sonoma during our trip there in 2002. We had it with a dinner of lamb chops coated with Dijon mustard. Dijon and Pinot Noir is considered a classic pairing, or so we'd heard--and we weren't disappointed. The wine had rich cherry notes that made it a delight to drink on its own and even better with the food. We loved it and would buy it again...if only it were available in Saskatchewan!
I beg your pardon, eh,
But I don't like Chardonnay.
Give me Gewurtztraminer:
It has a taste that's cleaner.
And then there's Pinot Gris:
Yes, that's the white for me.
(Unless I have a Tokay--
As sweet stuff goes, it's OK.)
A Riesling can be fine,
When you want German wine.
Or some Sauvignon Blanc
(Just good stuff--not the plonk.)
Red Pinot Noir, no doubt,
Is what wine's all about--
Although a Zinfandel
Is also very swell.
Norton? What (or who)
Is Norton? What's he do?
A Merlot can be grand,
When it's grown on good land.
A Vidal ice-wine's yummy,
And Baby Duck is crummy.
But better (final thought!)
That you have wine than not.
Sunday, February 20, 2005
We often look for reviews posted on-line of wines we're either about to try, considering buying, or have already tried. We hope that our posted thoughts might be of some help to others.