Archive for September, 2010
If you’ve ever made cupcakes, then you realize that the secret to making a delicious cupcake is to use the best ingredients with the proper measurements. The recipe for the 2009 Cupcake Vineyards Central Coast Chardonnay calls for:
1 part each of apple, butterscotch, nutmeg and vanilla.
1 part Malolactic Fermentation to give your cupcake a decadent rich buttery flavor.
1 part Barrel Aging to add creaminess, oak and spice flavors.
The result is a big, chewy, and full-bodied Chardonnay that is unmistakably – California.
2 Stars out of 4 for the 2009 Cupcake Vineyards Central Coast Chardonnay. This recipe was a bit too heavy and rich for my taste. However, if you like your Chardonnay with gobs of oaky, apple, and vanilla spice goodness, then this Chardonnay might be worth nibbling on. Just don’t forget the grilled tuna, Mahi-Mahi, or pasta alfredo!
(Sample, $14 MSRP)
One of my favorite television shows is ABC’s What Would You Do?
With the use of hidden cameras, the show captures how ordinary people react when put on the spot and faced with a painful dilemma of “What to do.” In most cases, the situations usually involve doing what you feel is the “right thing” versus doing nothing at all.
The program made me think of a particular wine dilemma that I was faced with recently.
Imagine this scenario – You’re in a rush one Sunday afternoon to get home to watch your favorite NFL team play. You’ve prepared for the big game: a few friends, good food, beer, remote control, and the kids are occupied so they won’t be flipping the channel to Suite Life On Deck…but wait!! You realize that you forgot to pick up wine to go with the dinner you’ve planned for after the game. Before you can become a total couch potato for the next three hours, you are forced to make one quick pit stop to pick up that “perfect” bottle of wine.
In a desperate attempt to not miss the opening kick-off, you stop at the closest (not necessarily the best) wine & spirits shop that you can find, and make a b-line for the cold box to select the best possible chilled Chardonnay for under 20 bucks. No time for looking through the racks! You’re feeling pretty confident about the Chardonnay that you’ve just selected because it has a familiar name that has been “reliable” in the past, not to mention you’ve had it plenty of times and been pleased with it. You walk out of the store feeling like a champ, with enough time to spare to get home to plop yourself down in front of the tube.
Now fast forward to dinner:
You’re all standing around the dinner table high-fiving, chest bumping, and talking about who your team is going to spank next Sunday when you decide it’s time to pop open that “reliable” bottle of Chardonnay. However, as soon as you begin pouring said Chardonnay – you say to yourself, “Boy, my reliable Chardonnay sure has a funny looking color to it?!”
You check the date and it reads, “2004”. You then ask yourself, “Is a 2004, under $20 Chardonnay considered old?” You’re not really sure because, as we all know, wine doesn’t come with an expiration date – at least not stamped on it! After pouring the wine into the glass and really taking notice of its deep golden (nearly amber!) color you still decide, against your better judgment, to take the plunge. It only takes one sip for you to start slapping yourself a few times for being such a fool and purchasing what seems to be an “Over-the-Hill” Chardonnay. I know there’s a myriad of other reasons why oxidation had ruined an otherwise solid bottle of white wine, but we’re going to stick with “over-the-hill” assumption for the next exercise.
Ok – so this isn’t exactly a moral dilemma, but what would you do in this particular situation?
A. Continue to drink the wine even though it could have you doubled over, crying for your Mommy, and possibly have you miss work on Monday?
B. Pour it down the kitchen drain, then run back out (if a store is still open) to get a replacement bottle?
C. Re-cork the wine, pour yourself a glass of water , and return it for a refund the next day?
What a quandary!
“Now this is a pleasant and crowd-pleasing Chilean red” was my initial assessment of the 2007 Calcu Red Blend. However, if you step away from your glass and give it a little time to breathe, this well designed wine will have the bonus time it needs to slowly reveal a different side to it.
The 2007 Calcu Red Blend consists of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Carmenere, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot and is aged 8 months in French oak barrels. This wine dazzles upfront with delicate, but tart, red berry flavors and really finds its stride at the halfway point while approaching the finish line.
3 Stars out 4 for the 2007 Calcu Red Blend from Chile’s Colchagua Valley. The word Calcu means “healing doctor” or “magician” in the local Mapuche language. Brew this magic potion for at least 15 -20 minutes in your glass and have plenty of cured or smoked meats on hand to snack on – then let the magic show begin!
(Sample, $12 MSRP)
Concannon Vineyard is best known to many wine lovers as a producer of fine Petite Sirah. Established in 1883, Concannon Vineyard was the first American winemaker to grow and vint Petite Sirah in the US. Today, the winery offers consumers four distinctive tiers of wines to choose from: ‘Selected Vineyards’, ‘Conservancy’, ‘Reserve’, and ‘Heritage’. The winery’s newest addition is its Conservancy line. Each of the wines offered in this line-up are sourced
“100% from grapes grown in precious Livermore vineyards that are protected from urban encroachment by a conservation trust that preserves the land for perpetuity.”
“Perfect Pitch” is the way I’d describe the 2008 Concannon “Conservancy” Chardonnay – it was an instant hit with both my wife and me. It had a medium-weight mouthfeel to it with abundant tropical fruit notes and a subtle application of oak for added complexity. Nothing about this California Chardonnay feels too light or too heavy-handed – it feels just right. It was instantly enjoyable from the first sip and it paired perfectly with my pan-seared tuna with fresh rosemary.
3 Stars out 4 for the 2008 Concannon “Conservancy” Chardonnay. It’s a beautifully executed Chardonnay that hums a sweet tune!
(Sample, $15 MSRP)