Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tasting Notes: Bubbles! Also, a taste of Asheville adventures

With New Year's Eve coming up, many people wonder about what would be a good, reasonable sparkling wine to open at or prior to midnight of the newish decade. Yes, time geeks have informed me that the new decade doesn’t technically start until 2011, but if I have to remember to change two numbers when I write the date, it counts as a decade change for me. We did have the opportunity to taste several sparkling wines at the most recent JavaMonkey tasting, and then we stumbled upon a champagne bar/used bookstore in Asheville. But I’ll get to that later. Here are the notes from the tasting:

NV François Montand Brut Blanc de Blancs (France): Ugni Blanc and Airen grapes
Citrus nose, but bitter on the end. One taster commented that the bitter almond taste would be a great vehicle for arsenic. With that in mind, don’t bring this wine to one of those murder mystery parties – someone might get carried away! It did play nicely with food.
Rating: Good

NV Zèfiro Prosecco (Veneto, Italy): 100% Prosecco
This one isn’t made like a traditional champagne, but that doesn’t matter because it’s good. A nice representative of the varietal, it has a green apple nose and lots of citrus on the palate.
Rating: Very Good

2005 Marques de Gelida Organic Brut Reserva Cava (Penedès, Spain): Xarello, Paralledo, Macabello, and Chardonnay grapes
Subtle citrus nose with some vanilla and toast. Has a little more flavor to it than the previous wines with minerality balanced by a little toast and some lemon meringue (yes, the bubbles go to my head quickly).
Rating: Good

François Montand Brut Rosé (Southern France): 100% Grenache
Raspberry nose with raspberry and strawberry on the palate. Dry but still fruity. Someone commented that this would be a good one to give to your date because it goes down easily.
Rating: Very Good

2005 Marques de Gelida Brut Rosé Cava Spain): Pinot Noir
Hot pink color, but not much of a nose. Some cherry and anise on the palate.
Rating: Good

The Chook Sparkling Shiraz (McLaren Vale, Australia):
This one is pretty much, as advertised, a shiraz with bubbles with its dark fruit nose, some oak and serious fruit. This one pretty much stumped the table because it was so unlike any sparkling we’d had before, even other sparkling shirazes. This would be a great conversation and/or debate starter at any party.
Rating: Good to Very Good

Okay, now for a brief taste of our Asheville adventures. We spent Sunday afternoon wandering around the downtown area, and were disappointed to find that the wine bar at the Grove Arcade didn’t open until four. We walked outside and saw a lit “Champagne Bar” sign in the window of a used bookstore across the street.

Books and champagne? Brilliant! Of course we had to check out the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, where oenophile Tom Calabrese held court behind the marble-topped bar in the back right of the bookstore. Yes, a champagne bar, as in more than one sparkling wine available by the glass. Try several, and that day they were also pouring a blood orange mimosa, which one patron described as “liquid velvet.” Keep in mind that the velvet in question would be a hot peachy-pink, but hey, whatever works for you. For a moment it felt like we were in one of the many novels that line the shelves of the store: the loquacious wine guy, a professional ballet dancer, his girlfriend the artist, and us, two visitors from out of town who wandered in on a cold day.

It quickly became evident that Tom knows his sparkling, so I asked him what his top three picks for reasonable New Year’s party wine would be. We agreed on two: Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux, which is French and has been around longer than champagne, and Gruet, a champagne maker in New Mexico that puts out fantastic stuff. He also suggested the Luna Argento Prosecco from Italy. I tried it and had to have a second glass to make sure my original impressions were accurate. They were: light citrus nose, mild melon/vanilla finish, and overall elegant balance and bubbles. If I can find it here in Georgia, I’m definitely going to get it.

Oh, and the bookstore was really neat, too, with comfortable seating and a great variety of books in both the upstairs and the downstairs sections. Yes, Asheville is definitely my kind of town. I’ll post more about it later as I gather my notes. And maybe after I find some Prosecco.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Winery Review: North Georgia, Part II -- Tiger Mountain

Hubby and I decided to take a few days and come up to Asheville, North Carolina to recover from what always turns out to be a crazy time of year with his job. Since we were going right past it, we stopped by Tiger Mountain Vineyards in Tiger, Georgia.

The tasting room itself is inside a barn, but was still comfortable temperature-wise, a relief on a cold, cloudy day. The tastings are complimentary, and they have crackers, dried apricots, and cheese out for munching and palate-clearing.

Here are my notes:

2008 Viognier:
crisp and citrus-flavored with a tart finish
Rating: Very Good

Burton Blanc: 100% Viognier
smoky nose with herb and grapefruit on the palate
Rating: Good

2008 Petite Manseng: an "ancient grape," this was the first time I'd tried it
A little funky on the nose, but has a nice melon-citrus finish
Rating: Good to Very Good

2006 Touriga Nacional:
Beautiful spicy-clove-dark fruit nose, but palate doesn't follow through. Light-bodied with dry cherry. Would probably go better with food.
Rating: Good

2006 Cabernet Franc:
Berry with a tart, spicy middle, this one smoothed out with notes of caramel once the bottle had been open a bit.
Rating: Very Good

2005 Mourvedre:
Syrupy nose, earthy with somewhat medicinal finish
Rating: Okay

2006 TNT: 50% Touriga and 50% Tannat
Nice nose and very straightforward fruit.
Rating: Good

2006 Rabun Red: Norton, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Mourvedre, and Tannat blend
Fruity and acidic, definitely a food wine, as cheese took the edge off.
Rating: Good to Very Good

2005 Norton:
Plum/cherry nose and tart fruit

2007 Tannat:
Smooth tannins, fruit with less tartness and more elegance
Rating: Very Good

We bought bottles of the Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and Tannat. Alas, they were sold out of the Malbec. Overall, it was a great tasting experience with good, knowledgeable staff who managed to keep pace with tasters and shoppers, all of whom had their own agendas. Definitely worth the detour from the beaten path.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Friday Flash Fiction: 12 Days of Decatur (GA)

I am excited to have collaborated with Hubby on this one. The concept for the piece as well as many of the specifics were his ideas. We live in Decatur, Georgia, which is a suburb of Atlanta but has its own unique identity. If you'd like to read more great flash fiction, search the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter.

The Decatur 12 Days of Christmas
by Hubby and Cecilia

Finding the perfect gift is never easy. For overachieving Decaturites who want to go all the way with the Twelve Days of Christmas (from the holiday itself through Epiphany on January 6), it can be a particular challenge. Consequently, we offer our suggestions for residents of this special place “where Berkeley and Mayberry coexist.”

Day 1: Partridge in a Pear Tree.
Partridges are not native Georgia, neither are any of their pheasant cousins. There are places that import pheasants strictly for hunting purposes, but this behavior would probably be frowned on. Frozen pheasant is available at the Dekalb Farmers’ Market, but consider the carbon footprint as well as the effort to defrost and cook the pheasant. A free-range, organic alternative would be preferable.

We know pear trees will grow in the area. These should be organic and planted as soon as the conditions are right according to Walter Reeves. This will allow the gift to be sustainable and will help to foster a sense of community as people help themselves to the fruit when it’s ripe. Under no circumstances should they be Bartlett Pears. Your true love won't be your true love come May when they bloom out and smell like dead fish.

A brief note regarding Days Two through Four, Six, and Seven: Check with your local ordinances about keeping wild animals in residential areas. Also, to ensure that the turtledoves, French hens, calling birds, geese-a-laying, and swans-a-swimming are adequately cared for and properly fed, please be sure to visit the Decatur library for materials and photocopy only what you will need. You can also consult books on pond construction for the swans and aviary building for the rest of them. Again, check your local ordinances and with the register of Historic Places to ensure that you are not inadvertently lowering your or your neighbors’ property values with these “enhancements.”

Day 2: Two Turtle Doves
Turtle doves are also not native, although mourning doves are. Pigeons, though related and easy to find, are a really bad idea.

Day 3: Three French Hens
We know hens are allowed, even encouraged. You should probably substitute native hens (carbon footprint). Under no circumstances should they be called "freedom" hens.

Day 4: Four calling birds
Consider noise ordinances, but use real birds. Installing a loud fake bird noise system atop your house is tacky (and they sound like monkeys anyway).

Day Five: Be sure to purchase those Five Golden Rings locally and double-check to make sure that the gold was not acquired from a mine that promotes exploitation of the natives or miners.

Day 6: Six Geese-a-Laying
Do not steal geese from Avondale Lake. Livestock theft is a felony in Georgia (O.C.G.A. § 16-8-20).

Day 7: Seven Swans-a-Swimming
Go with the pond construction here. Be careful – swans are mean, especially when breeding. Nothing ruins true love like being chased by a large bird with a sharp beak.

Day 8: Eight Maids-a-Milking
It’s not legal to have cattle in Dekalb county, so milk cows, although consistent with the latest trends in D.I.Y. dairy production, are probably not allowed in Decatur. Instead, consider sharing in a CSA that provides organic milk.

Day 9: Nine Ladies Dancing
Okay, you could probably throw in the token Decatur lesbian reference here, and now you should be ashamed for going there. Support the Atlanta Ballet or any of our local dancing groups instead.

Day 10: Ten Lords-a-Leaping
Similar to 9 if your first thought was that it would be easier to find such lords in Midtown. Baton Bob does not count and would probably not enhance that “true love” experience you’re going for.

Days 11 and 12: Eleven Pipers Piping and Twelve Drummers Drumming
Again, consider noise ordinances. Pipe and drum bands are loud. You could promise to take your true love to the Stone Mountain Highland Games in October instead.

We hope that these help you with your creative gift-giving during these twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany and will keep you involved with our wonderful community throughout the coming year!

Merry Christmas to residents of Decatur and beyond! Hubby and I hope that this season bring you joy, love, and good wine and food to share!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dinner and a Show: Second City's "Peach Drop, Stop, and Roll" and Dinner at Restaurant Eugene

For those who aren’t familiar with the Second City, you’re missing out on the improv/sketch comedy troupe that started the careers of famous comedians such as Tina Fey, Dan Aykroyd, and Stephen Colbert. They even gave us SCTV with the lovable Bob & Doug MacKenzie and one of my favorite versions of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (click here to view an animated version; feel free to skip the movie trailer after it’s over). Hubby and I saw last year’s show, “Too Busy to Hate, Too Hard to Commute,” and were excited to hear that they planned to return during the holiday season. We saw their current show, “Peach Drop, Stop, and Roll” on Sunday.

If you’re too sensitive and easily offended, you should probably skip this one, as they skewer everyone from the “Real” “Housewives” of Atlanta (yes, extra quotes intentional – there’s nothing real about the women, three of whom aren’t even housewives) to unemployed former radio sidekick Tom Sullivan to Atlanta icons such as Clark Howard. I liked how they passed over some obvious subjects (e.g., traffic) to mock associated woes such as the history of Atlanta’s public transit problems, presented in song form to the tune of “Modern Major General.” They did take the softball and poke fun at how Atlantans panic at the merest hint of snow. Second City is based in Chicago, where it snows from October to April or something ridiculous like that, so it’s forgivable – they’re just jealous that when we get it, our snow doesn’t get icky. My favorite sketch was of the Segue Tour of downtown Atlanta, where Amy Roeder plays the tour guide (on a real Segue), and the others pose as the attractions, such as the first, “a common sight: abandoned building beside non-functioning fountain.”

The only point in the show that missed a step was the opening sketch of the second act, the theme of which was how people seem to be a completely different person when they return to their hometowns. I liked the surreal nature of the piece, but I don’t know that it fit well with the rest of the show outside of some shock value. Other than that, the show was great, and I’d recommend seeing it before it ends on December 27.

We had some time to kill between the show and our dinner reservations, so we stopped by the bar at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Table 1280 restaurant. I enjoyed a glass of the 2006 Louis Latour "Valmoissine" Pinot Noir (VDP, Fr). This didn’t taste like a French-style pinot with its currant-earth nose and light cran-fruit that deepened and darkened to berry pie. Hubby had a martini, and we watched a young couple who were being followed around by a photographer. We have no idea who they are, maybe “real narcissists of Atlanta.”

Then it was off to Restaurant Eugene for dinner (web site is s-l-o-w today). I’d eaten there previously, and Hubby’s been wanting to try it, so we were excited. We decided to do the 5-course chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings. The amuse-bouche, pickled uni with charred mandarin orange over an uni custard, satisfied any pre-existing salt or sweet craving conditions. We’d ordered glasses of Gruet sparkling, and the amuse brought out the minerality in the wine.

The first wine in the pairing, a 2008 Chateau Ducasse white Bordeaux (Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend) had a lime-mineral nose with citrus palate heavy on grapefruit. The first course, a fluke tartare with grapefruit zest and juice, early Vidalia onion, and cardamom cracker mellowed the wine out and had nice bright flavors on its own. The second wine surprised us in that it was a Riesling, the 2007 Max Ferdinand Richter (Mosel, Germany). Dry and fruity with a floral nose and apricots and more floral notes on the palate, this was one that even Hubby liked. The course, a seared diver scallop with pork belly, rutabaga puree, and apples, had enough salt for the wine to balance it and was a fun combination of tastes and textures.

Then it was on to the reds! Or at least one red. The 2007 Chateau des Rogues Vacqueyras (Vacqueyras Controlees, Rhone, Fr) had a few of my favorite things in it, namely Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. It did have some fruit, but more oak and acidity with some bitterness that wanted food. It did mellow to nice cherry notes with the tender duck breast, persimmon puree, and maitake shrooms.

The cheese course came next. Green Hill cheese from Sweet Grass dairy had a texture like a brie, but tasted a little too funky for hubby. I tasted his, and my piece was definitely milder. It was paired with the Domaine de Aubuisieres Vouvray (Chenin Blanc): mildly sweet and floral with some vanilla and citrus.

By that point, Hubby was over me taking notes on my Blackberry, so I don’t have any specifics for dessert, just that it was some sort of custard with cranberry sauce and was served with a cream sherry. It was good, sweet and sour, but it probably could have used some chocolate. But then, I think every dessert could use some chocolate.

Dining at Eugene was a great experience from start to finish, when the waiter brought us complimentary decaf coffee (no, FTC, he didn’t know I’m a blogger). We never felt rushed during the meal, and it felt like dining European-style with all the courses and being there for three and a half hours, which was how we ended up not being drunk by the end of the evening. Kudos to chef Linton Hopkins for a great tasting menu and to the sommelier for the excellent wine pairings!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Flash Fiction: Please, Christmas!

One of my Twitter friends once told me that he's never sure whether I'll be tweeting about wine or writing. To me, the two aren't mutually exclusive, although I wrote this one today during breaks between appointments so I could get it done by the wine tasting. I consider it to be a different take on a childhood favorite Christmas special. To find other great examples of flash fiction, search the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter.

Please, Christmas!

December 17, 2009

Dear Mrs. Thompson,

Thank you for notifying us about a potential case of child abuse and violation of child labor laws. We received your letter and recording on December 1, 2009 and are unable to complete our investigation due to the following circumstances:

1. The recording you sent is of poor quality and therefore cannot be considered the “hard evidence” you claimed it to be. All the technicians could isolate was music, some high-pitched chattering, and a male voice yelling something like, “Melvin!” at irregular intervals. We could not detect any frequencies consistent with children’s voices.

2. Examination of tax and birth records revealed that there are no children at the Seville residence.

3. While keeping wild animals (e.g., chipmunks) as pets is against state law, that is a matter best taken up with Animal Control or the Department of Wildlife Services. The C in our acronym stands for Child, not Chipmunk.

We have forwarded your concerns on to the proper authorities, who will be in touch with more information. Thank you for contacting us, and we hope you have a wonderful holiday season.


Corinne Matthews
Department of Family and Child Services

“Can you believe this?” Corinne handed the draft of the letter to her supervisor. She rubbed her eyes. “We’re overwhelmed already. Why do we have to deal with these nuts?”

Mark read it over. “Oh yeah, this woman has been writing in every few years since 1958. If there’s any truth to it, those rodents are long dead, or the kids are grown up.”

“Then why did I get stuck with it? We have enough real work to do as it is.” She gestured to the pile of cases on her desk.

He handed the letter back to her and raised his eyebrows. “Consider this my Christmas present to you, Corinne: a friendly reminder to find your sense of humor. If you don’t, you’re gonna burn out in six months. And it’s time for you to leave. Remember, we’re not allowed overtime right now.”

She narrowed her eyes and hoped he felt the heat of her anger on the back of his neck while he walked away. Fine, she’d been fooled. Who knew that government workers would consider themselves jokers? With a sigh, she put on her jacket, clocked out, and walked through the chilly dusk to her car.

Something swirled in the orange glow of the street lamp and drifted to the cars underneath. One stung her nose with wet cold, and she couldn’t help but smile. Snow! Her kids would be so excited! She paused, made sure no one watched her, and turned her face to the sky.

“What the hell?” She took a deep breath and stuck her tongue out, her nose wrinkled against the cold. Her irritability and embarrassment melted with each snowflake that landed on her tongue and face

Mark was right, she decided. She needed to find her sense of humor and let go of her cynicism, at least once out of the office. She’d have plenty of time since, as the newest hire, she would be furloughed between Christmas and New Year. She had been stressed about it, but now she saw it as an opportunity to spend time with her kids while they were out of school. They’d have so much fun if the snow stuck, she thought. She needed to stop playing around and get home to them. They could make hot chocolate and light a fire in the fireplace. Perhaps there would even be holiday specials on t.v.

She didn’t even look back at the office building as she got in the car. The work and worry could wait until tomorrow. Meanwhile, she would look forward to her government-sponsored vacation.

“Please Christmas,” she whispered, “don’t be late!”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tasting Notes and Dinner Review: Rodney Strong/Feast Wine Dinner

So it seems to be remote correspondent/guest blogger day at the Random Oenophile. I also have friends that will eat, drink, and make merry notes for me. I'm a lucky girl, right? Regular guest blogger Dan Browning recently attended a wine dinner at Feast that featured wines from Rodney Strong. Click here for his notes. As you can see, he's way better about taking pictures of his food than I am.

Tasting Notes from the West Coast

It's so nice to have friends who are willing to drink for you! I recently received some more tasting notes on Washington wines from West Coast Correspondent James Bassett. All content below is his:

Renegade Wine Co.
2008 Red Wine
Columbia Valley, WA

“Glasses? We don’t need no stinking glasses!” So it says on the label, which looks almost hand-made -- in fact, there’s not even a UPC code, so good luck finding this anywhere but in Washington, is my guess. (Although I found this at QFC, which is Pacific Northwestern for "Kroger,” so who knows....)

Still, you ought to try -- and you’ll want a glass to help capture and concentrate the faint aroma. Fortunately, the taste itself is much bolder. There’s oakey Cabernet here, lighter, the sweetness of fruitier Merlot, and . . . Sangiovese? Something cedary and earthy and a wee bit spicy, with plum, cassis and black cherry. Considering the label (and the $10 price) this was a gamble, but I’m very happy with the result. It is somewhat rough around the edges, but this seems like it should age well for at least 2-5 years.

"For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore --
Nameless here forever more." -- Poe, The Raven

Corvidae Wine Company, Columbia Valley, WA
“Lenore” 2007 Syrah
My next try from David O’Reilly’s latest venture, the “Lenore” Syrah is medium-bodied with a deceptively tenuous nose. Take a sip, though, and dark black raspberry and smokiness practically explodes into the mouth. Spice, some hints of flowers (lavender?), fruity but with a smoldering backbone that keeps it from being too syrupy and a lingering lightly tannic finish. Better than its price would have you think, although it’s still not nearly as good as The Keeper -- but what could be?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Flash Fiction: Morning Vespas

There's a great writing community on Twitter, and every week, several of them post flash fiction. This is my contribution for the week. You can find other stories by searching the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter.

Morning Vespas

“How long have you been involved with a motorcycle gang, Mrs. Dougherty?”

“Oh, heavens, they’re not motorcycles!” The petite woman twisted her silk scarf between her fingers and looked up at the two men questioning her. “They’re scooters! You boys can’t really think I’m involved with a gang. Tom would never forgive me! He works hard to keep order in this town, and I’d never do anything to disrupt that.”

“Tell that to the unfortunate gentleman in the body bag over there.” The detective inclined his head to the left.

“Well, you know, it really was Louisa Miller’s fault. You see, she wrecked her car, and her husband got her a scooter ‘cause she had less of a chance of hurting anyone else on it, and they get fantastic mileage!”

“And who else is involved?” asked the FBI agent, a tall, thin man with cold, gray eyes.

“Well, there’s Marlene Smith. She got her scooter when it cost her almost a hundred dollars to fill up her Buick. She wasn’t about to give up her part-time job, especially with her husband being just retired and underfoot all the time.”

The detective scribbled on his notepad. “So there are at least three of you. Do you know where the others are?”

“Well, I imagine they’ve gone on to Mass.”

“To where?” asked the agent.

“The six a.m. Mass at the monastery! Why, don’t you boys know about it? It’s beautiful, with the singing and the incense. We’re all up at 4 or 5, anyway, so we ride to church, then go to breakfast. That’s why we call ourselves the Morning Vespas.”

“Morning Vespas.” The detective looked up.

“Officer, why don’t you let me handle this?” asked the FBI agent. “The corner of your mouth is twitching.”

“Oh, you can laugh.” Mrs. Dougherty waved their amusement away. “Our children do. Tom won’t believe that it’s actually led to this, a dead body on a country road at dawn? That would be a good country song, don’t you think?”

“Mrs. Dougherty, just tell us how you got involved with this gentleman.”

“Well, you see, we met the deceased – that is the right term, isn’t it? – at Mass one morning. Seemed like a pleasant enough young man. But then his friend came in, a big brute of a guy, maybe you know who I’m talking about, agent? He had a face that was so scarred up, it would make his own mother shriek.”

“I cannot confirm or deny that I know such an individual. Please, go on. What did the men do?”

“Well, the nice young man dropped his Missalette! He’s probably been going to Mass his whole life, and that bully scared him silly! Well, Marlene was sitting right in front of him and said that the brute asked him where he hid it.”

“Hid what?”

“Well, that’s what we wanted to know. So the next time we saw him, about a week later, we asked him. The poor thing is so thin and pale with those big dark eyes that would make any mother or grandmother just want to take care of him, oh, it just breaks my heart!” She dabbed at the corner of her eyes with the scarf.

“There, now, Mrs. Dougherty, we can’t do anything about that now.” The detective patted her shoulder.

“Right.” She sniffled and took a deep breath. “So we asked him, or Louisa did, she’s so gentle that people just tell her anything, if he had gotten himself in some sort of trouble. He denied it in three languages, and that’s how we knew he needed our help! So Marlene followed him the next time we saw him a week after that.”

“Marlene is…?”

“She’s the one with ‘Kitchen Bitch’ in rhinestones on a pink leather jacket. We all have our nicknames on our jackets that match our Vespas. See?” She turned to show them the back of her yellow leather jacket. “I’m BusyBee.”


“So Marlene followed him downtown, but she lost him.”

“That wasn’t very smart, Mrs. Dougherty.”

“But we just wanted to help the poor boy out!”

“So tell us about this morning.”

“Well, he just showed up on my doorstep looking half scared out of his wits and covered in dirt. He asked if he could come to Mass with me. Of course I told him yes, and he got behind me on my scooter. We were riding along when a big truck appeared out of nowhere and started riding my tail. Then there were these loud pops, and he just tumbled off! I was so scared, but I found this little country lane that was too narrow for the truck and lost them. That’s when I called you boys. Oh, it just breaks my heart! He was always so polite!”

“Can you tell us about the truck?”

“Only that it was big.” Her eyes filled with tears again.

“Okay, Mrs. D., there’s your son. Why don’t you go talk to him while the agent and I finish up here?”

The FBI agent nodded after she had walked away. “Thank you, officer, that’s all I need for now. She’s lucky, but you need to find the others.”

“The timing is too coincidental.” The detective lowered his voice. “That was Maury the Mink on the back of her bike, wasn’t it? There was another murder last night. Sounds like Maury’s conscience was his undoing.”

“I can’t say, but she gave us some interesting facts that will help our investigation, including a link between Maury and Ronaldo. You’ll have to tell her son that she and her friends need to get into the witness protection program ASAP.”

The detective pushed his hands into his pockets. “Mayor Dougherty’s not going to like that.”

“It has to be done.”

“Well, then, agent, since you’re the tough guy here, how about you tell the old lady she’ll have to give up her scooter?”

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Wine Suggestions

Just a small addition to the previous post -- for a more comprehensive list of Georgia wineries, try the Georgia Wine Country web site. Our own wineries have been encouraging us to "Drink Local," so check them out!

Okay, back to the business at hand. It's the holidays, and people have been asking me about what would be good wines to bring to parties, dinners, or "hide from the in-laws" gatherings (if you're hosting one of those, let me know). This brings up a quandary for us dedicated oenophiles. We want to bring something that's going to impress or at least reinforce those "expert wine person" opinions, but we're only going to get a little bit, so we probably don't want to go into our own cellars unless it's for someone really special. If it's a big party, that means multiple bottles, which then means more expense.

For this kind of wine, I went to two places: Total Wine at Perimeter, which is right near where I work, and to last Thursday's tasting at JavaMonkey, which featured "Go-To" wines that are "reasonable, affordable, and findable," selected by fellow oenophile Dan Browning (see right for blog -- Dan, update the darn thing!).

I got two great Bordeaux from Total Wine, a Chateau Bellevue for around $8 and a Vieux Chateau Grean for around $11. Both were great, medium-bodied and food-friendly wines with good acidity. I also got an old vine Garnacha that wasn't very good due to overbearing ripe fruit and an odd finish (Nostrada).

Now for the JavaMonkey wines:

2006 Saint-Hilaire (Blanquette de Limoux, France):
Citrus with mild yeast, good bubbles
Rating: Good

2007 Basa Blanco (Rueda, Spain): 50% Verdejo, 40% Viera, and 10% Sauvignon Blanc
One of those interesting whites I like, this one has lemony minerality with floral overtones. A nice alternative to boring Chardonnay.
Rating: Very Good

2007 Cycles Gladiator Syrah (Central Coast, California): 87% Syrah, 13% Petite Syrah
Chewy texture and a little smoky, this is one for those roasted holiday meats. Nice currant nose, a little applewood smoky with dark fruit; smooth.
Rating: Very Good
Irony: Cycles Gladiator is banned in Alabama because of the label art. However, both Hubby and I grew up there and think this wine would be a big hit at a Southern barbecue. Click here to see the pictures from when we took "Belle," the CG nymph, on a tour of Alabama's capital.

2006 Estancia Zinfandel (Paso Robles, California):
Cedar-cherry nose; very smooth with nice dark fruit
Rating: Good

2007 Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, California):
Blackberry nose, berry/fruity palate with a little anise/eucalyptus.
Rating: Good to Very Good

2007 Juan Gil Monastrell (Jumilla, Spain):
Funky nose. Caramel on the edge of the palate, fruity in the middle, and some spicy cloves, but a bitter finish.
Rating: Good