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Archive for the ‘3-Star’ Category

The Kids Are Alright…Are We?

Once a year, our kids take a vacation to get away from us.

Well, that’s not entirely true…

You see, every year during the first week in July, since our sons were toddlers, my parents take them to the beach…without us!  Time on the beach, boat rides, water slides, bumper cars and junk food…the whole nine yards for one entire week. 

With all of the day-to-day commotion that takes place in our house – the kids, the dog, the laptops, television, video games and constant tomfoolery – it’s hard enough to hear what we’re saying to each other, let alone hearing yourself think.

It’s funny, though:  my wife and I start out excited to have some alone time, but by mid-week we miss them like crazy!  Nevertheless, Kristi and I do, in fact, get to spend some quality time together, which includes having more time to try new wines!  :)

One of the most intriguing wines that we sampled, when the kids were away, was the 2008 M Trignon White (MSRP: $23.99 US).  This wine is from Chateau Du Trignon, which is nestled at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail in Gigondas, France.  The 2008 M Trignon White is made up of 100% Muscat, and it packs one heck of a concentrated sweet/dessert wine punch!  Right off the bat, you might think you’re drinking a French Sauterne. Fermented in stainless steel and cold stabilized to preserve freshness, this wine just oozes in sweet honey, honeysuckle, apricots, lemon and peach flavors.

3 Stars out of 4 for the 2008 M Trignon White.  It’s crazy-syrupy-sweet, cheaper than most Sauternes, and it comes in a rather interesting, perfumey-looking bottle.  It’s perfect for those who would rather drink dessert than eat it.

Another wine, which was a bit off the beaten path for us, was the 2010 Domaine Houchart Rosé (Sample, MSRP: $12 US) from Domaine Houchart which is owned by the Quiot family from France’s famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  The thing that drew me to this wine was its interesting blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault.  This summer sipper possesses a lot of nice acidity that makes it a pair well with many different food combinations.

I paired it with a thinly sliced spicy grilled chicken breast topped with fresh bruschetta and shaved parmesan cheese.  The soft strawberry, lavender and minerally finish paired nicely with this dish, however it wasn’t quite enough to give it 2 big thumbs up.

2 Stars out of 4 for the 2010 Domaine Houchart Rosé.  This Rosé definitely shows its best characteristics around foods with a little gusto and spice:  it’s a no-brainer with barbecue.

 

 

Poor Man’s Chef: The Machinist

Ivan:  Oh, no. You look like you seen a ghost.
Trevor Reznik:  Funny you should say that.  The guys at work don’t think you exist.
Ivan:  That’s why I can’t get a raise.

I know it’s been a while since the last post, so I will answer some of the questions I’ve been asked:

No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth.
Yes, I’m still drinking wine.
Yes, I still write a blog.

And just in case you’re wondering…no, this isn’t a movie review of The Machinist.

There have been a number of new things going on in the WineLife365 household that have served to cause quite a distraction.  Mostly good stuff, though!  Most recently, we’re finishing up a bathroom remodel.  Now I won’t lie to you:  I’m not doing the work, but it did make me think about my cooking skills.  You see, I’ve built (or repaired) all types of dinner specials,” and I’ve become quite the Journeyman at manufacturing some highly delicious salads.  Like this one…

Like a good machinist, I start by laying out all of my variable parts:

  • Baby Romaine Lettuce
  • Red Onion
  • Portabella Mushrooms
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Crumbled Blue Cheese
  • Leftover grilled London Broil
  • Briannas Chipotle Cheddar Dressing

Next, I grab a sharp knife and make all the necessary precision cuts for easy consumption.  Finally, I use all my “milling around in the wine closet knowledge” to come up with what I hope will be a highly acceptable application to my Cowboy Salad.

My die to put the stamp on this creation?

The 2008 Anka (Sample, MSRP: $20 US) from Chile!  Made from organically grown grapes, it’s a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 7% Carmenere, 4% Syrah and 1% Petit Verdot.  Whoa…that’s quite a list, but it added up to 100% delicious!

3 Stars out of 4 for the 2008 Anka.  With its humongous smoky black cherry, green bell pepper, black currant, black pepper and roasted almond flavor, it was the perfect choice to complete this meal.  

So Meaty!

Now I wouldn’t call myself a straight up carnivorous caveman, but from time to time our grill and dining room have been known to look like a scene from one of those Brazilian Steakhouses.  If you’ve never been to one, I’ve got two words for you:  MEAT…RELENTLESS!

As I was saying, we were having our own Fogo de Chao-esque dining experience the other night and needed a couple of reds to wash down all that charred BBQ meat.

For starters, we had the 2009 Viña Maquis Cabernet Sauvignon (Sample, MSRP: $20 US).   Check out the mug on this label!  :)

He sure looks raring to go with our hunk of beef. 

Consisting of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc, this tasty red is the product of 100% hand-picked fruit.  50% of this wine was aged for 10 months in second and third-use French oak barrels.  The 2009 Viña Maquis Cabernet Sauvignon was like throwing a chunk of milk chocolate, ripe dark fruit and a handful herbs down on our big ‘ol steer.

3 Stars out of 4 for this tasty, chunky madness.  So meaty!

But, ay caramba!!  Our second red wine of the evening was superb with those succulent juicy slices of beef.  That red was the 2009 Viña Maquis Carmenère (Sample, MSRP: $20).

Unlike the richer style Cabernet that we tried polished off, this red just calmly and steadily thumped our taste buds from start to finish.  Made with 100% estate grown Carmenère (also hand-picked), this red showcases brilliant sweet raspberry, chased by cinnamon and black pepper from the very first sip!

3 Stars out 4 for the 2009 Viña Maquis Carmenère.  It’s succulent and super cool.  Shit man – not even a dirty-good horseradish infused cheese spread could break this Carmenère’s stride.  :)   So meaty!

You Have to Start Somewhere

As the saying goes, “everyone has to start somewhere.”  This past Friday, after a long week of absolutely gorgeous weather here on the Eastern Seaboard, I was thinking that this would be a great way to officially start the weekend: 

Living lovely on the deck.

I do have to say, I love…LOVES me some caviar!!  Now, now… I know what you’re thinking, but to be completely honest with you, this is just some tasty and cheap roe that gets the job done for my tuna fish wallet.

This simple slice of Icelandic heaven consists:

  • Table Water Crackers
  • Cream Cheese
  • Cheap Caviar
  • Add in some fresh mozzarella balls on the side, and you’ve got yourself a Friday night party on the deck!
     

To celebrate this beautiful Eastern Spring evening and appetizer, I thought I’d lock lips with a few east coast sparklers:  two exquisite bottles of bubbly from New York’s Dr. Frank Wine Cellars.

Pioneered by Dr. Konstantin Frank, this Finger Lakes winery has earned a reputation for producing outstanding Rieslings and sparkling wines that adhere to the classic French “methode champenoise.” 

The first was the Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs (2006) (Sample, MSRP:  $29.99 US).

This sparkling wine is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, and was aged for more than three years before its release.  When my wife and I released it into our glasses this past Friday night, it was like a fruit pie being swept up into a twister of teeny-tiny bubbles:  rich and toasty with notes of pear and ginger.  Absolutely delicious from start to finish!  Highly recommended with a little (or a lot) of my little caviar snack!  4 Stars out of 4 for the Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs.

Our second sparkler was the Chateau Frank Célèbre Rosé (NV) (Sample, MSRP:  $20.99 US).

Unlike the rich, big mouthful style of the Blanc de Blancs, this bubbly is more of an easy-going deck wine to enjoy with family and friends.  Made with 100% estate grown Pinot Meunier grapes, it offers an orchard of raspberries and strawberries for those that prefer a sweeter style sparkler.  By the second glass, we were longing for a giant piece of pan-seared salmon to go with it!  3 out of 4 for Chateau Frank Célèbre Rosé (NV).

If only every weekend could start out this way!

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