Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Taking Down the Decorations with Banfi Chianti Superior

As I write this, there is a bit of a moral victory being celebrated in the Winey household. Not by anybody but me, mind you, but it's still there. That's because the month of January is coming to a close and....the Christmas decorations have been down for three weeks!!

Now, I can hear some of you saying it: "So what? It's January, they should be down." And I'm with you on this one. However, various members of the Winey family (Hubby and Daughter) couldn't disagree with me/us more. In fact, the house would still be decked with boughs of holly (not to mention very pointy dried out pine needles) if they had their way. But this year, I won.

It's not that I am a Scrooge or a Grinch. Nope. I absolutely love decorating the house for Christmas. I love the colors and the velvet and the smell of our live tree and wreath. I love the twinkling lights and the window candles. The unspoken rule here is that they MUST all be up by the time Thanksgiving weekend ends. As well they should be.

But after 4 weeks, did you ever try to dust around a Dickens' village? Have you ever had to wrestle away all the teeny fake pine trees from a puppy who thinks the ski village is there for her teething pleasure and hers alone? How about opening cabinets and having the pictures that would normally be sitting on a side table tumble out on you, because the winter inn and its accompanying waltzing reindeer are currently holding court on that table? And glitter. Don't get me started. I would also argue that stepping on a Christmas tree needle in bare feet would rival any "stepping on a Lego block" pain out there.

So by the time the presents are opened, the dinner(s) are cooked and the New Year rung in, I really just want my house back. In my mind, all those decorations after the holiday is over and children are back at school are just depressing. And cluttered. So this year, I didn't even discuss it. The weekend after New Years, I simply went into action. Hubby didn't say much...I think he knew better. And the Winey daughter happened to be out for the day, so I was able to pack away in relative peace. (My task was also made easier by the fact that our Christmas tree had some sort of death wish this year - toppling no less than 5 times and destroying many ornaments. I am not happy about this in the least. But there was a LOT more room in the ornament boxes.)

And by that evening (after a little outburst from the daughter upon her arrival home), it was all gone. Back into the boxes to rest in the attic until next year. I had vacuumed and dusted and arranged and the house was back to its everyday self.

And then it was time for MY reward! I needed something to sip and savor the end of a productive day. So I turned to a bottle of Banfi Chianti Superiore (2010, 13%, Italy).  The nose on deep red wine was full of berries and black cherries with a faint tinge of bacon. It tasted tart in the front of my mouth - a bit plummy with some sour berries. The oak flavor showed up early and strong - I almost wished the fruity tartness had lasted just a bit longer before giving way to the oak. As you might guess, the finish was full of tangy tannins - very warm on the sides of my mouth and a little bit drying. Was it the perfect way to end my day? It came close.

For those of you who like your oak beating up on the fruit though, this might just be the wine for you! It retails for around $11 and would pair well with those winter pasta dishes we all crave as well as stews (beef or chicken).

But I'm happy. My house is back to normal and has been for a few weeks now. I will NOT be spending Groundhog Day packing ornaments and will instead devote the coming weekend to wishing the Cleveland Browns were in the Super Bowl. Or the playoffs. Or even the winning column. But that's another story....


I was sent this wine for review purposes. The opinions are my own.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Spanish Grapes from California - M2's Tempranillo

Both of the Winey Children have been to Spain. The Winey Mom and Hubby: nope. It may be because we took French in our high school days. Stay with me here.. Both the Winey Kids are Spanish students and have been since middle school. When you get to a certain level at their high school, the fearless Spanish teachers there lead a bunch of students on a spring break trip to Spain. Both offspring have made this trip, leaving the Winey Hubby and I back in the US of A. I am thrilled that our children get to travel and see new countries and cultures. And in this case, yes, I was a teeny bit jealous. But I can do something about this: I can drink Spanish wine, something the Winey children cannot do (at least until next summer, when the Winey Son will be of age to sip legally).

I have recently learned, however, that I don't need to head to the Spanish wine section of the store to taste some wonderful Spanish grapes. Seems that the climate of Lodi, California, is perfect for growing Spain's Tempranillo (they call it the "noble grape" over there). The good folks of the Lodi Winegrape Commission featured this wine in a tasting recently to prove this fact to some of us. To make their point, they sent us a bottle of m2 Winery's Tempranillo (2010, 14.5%, Lodi, CA).

This wine is a dark red color and has a nose of sour cherry and fresh cut oak. (I'm told that Spanish winemakers LOVE their oak aging, and these days it's a bit more new world. This wine was aged in new and old barrels, giving it a lovely finish.) It tastes of cherries with a tang at the end  - and a hint of mocha in the middle of the taste. For a wine that's 14.5% alcohol, the finish I mentioned before is very well behaved - not overly tannic, a little spicy. You feel the tannins, but they don't last long enough to bite. Again, despite the high alcohol level, you just get a little warmth with it - a great balance here.

This would be wonderful with rich, meaty dishes. Stews, steaks, burgers - all those wonderful cold weather foods would be great pairings. They didn't make a lot of it, so if you find some - snap it up!

And it would be worth your while to explore some other wineries in Lodi. I feel like they get overshadowed sometimes by their neighbors, but if you get the chance, search out some other offerings from this area. Admittedly, I've been focusing on Lodi because of the  tasting class I participated in...but it's such a great wine producing area. (You can see my other Lodi wine reviews at Kidder Family Duet and  Dinner With Friends and Lodi Wine.

If you want more information on the Lodi Wine area, including maps and tours and events, head on over to Lodi Wines web page.


I was sent this wine for review purposes. The opinions are my own. Pin It

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Finishing the Christmas Returns and Fields Family Old Vine Zinfandel

The holidays are over (The Winey Son is back at West Point, the Winey Daughter back to high school, Winey Hubby back to work), but the wonderful memory lingers! We had a classic Christmas in Northeast Ohio this year: family, fun and lots and lots of snow. So pretty!

The white stuff is especially pretty when it is coming down hard outside and you and yours are snuggled on the couches, dogs snoring away, fire in the fireplace and Fields Family Wines Old Vine Zinfandel (2010, Lodi, CA, 14.7%) in your glass. I actually opened this bottle the Sunday after Christmas, but given the fact that kids and hubby had all been off from school and work for a week, I really couldn't tell you what the actual day was. Especially since we had spent the day finishing up returns at the very crowded mall. (It is a Winey Household rule that all returns must be made before school and school related activities resume. Believe me, if they're not done by then actually getting them done is a brutal endeavor.)

Turns out that popping the cork on this bottle was a wonderful idea! At first sniff, I got aromas of wood smoke, oak and a hint of dark cherries. The taste was cherry and raspberry and boysenberry - oh those wonderful berries! There was also some of that Zinfandel spice, something I had tasted before but never knew it had a name until I did on online tasting with the Lodi California Wine Folks. Anyway, the spice is dark and flavorful and rather hard to describe except to tell you that you will know when you taste it. (I swear I'm not pulling the lazy card is hard to put into words and you will know it when it hits your mouth, I promise.) It ended with a touch of mocha coffee and finished with a taste of toasted marshmallow and tart plums. And balance? of the most balanced and complex wines I've had in a while..warm but not hot in the mouth, bursting with flavors all over the place. I was one happy Winey Mom. Tired, but wine-ily happy.

I hate to admit it, but given the exhausted state of, well, me (aka: chief cook), this paired very nicely with take out pizza and garlic Parmesan wings. (Did you really think I could cook another big meal that week, especially after a day of returns - with a husband AND 17 year old girl in tow? Winey Son hit the jackpot this year and didn't need to return anything, mostly because he got skis and we took him in person to be measured for it all!)

I am told that Zinfandel grapes are a specialty of the Lodi area. This is my second bottle of Zinfandel from that area (see also: Dinner With Friends and Some Lodi Wines) and I can see why it's such a favorite there. Those grapes must be very, very happy, with very few holiday returns to make, because they sure make a wonderful wine! (I can't imagine a tired, crabby, shopped out grape making a good wine, can you?) If you get the chance, pick some up and get the fireplace going. Snoring dogs are optional, but they add quite a bit of warmth to your feet if that is where they are doing their snoring. Like mine were.


I was sent this wine for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Go Northwestern! The 2012 Gator Bowl and Klinker Brick Farrah Syrah

New Year's Day in the Winey Household is a fairly typical celebration. Sleep late. Watch bowl games. Eat lots of buffalo chicken dip. Sound familiar to you? (You can insert your own favorite dip - it just happens that we are on a buffalo chicken dip kick this year.)

You can also add one other typical event to our household: Northwestern University will lose whatever bowl it's in.

Let me start by saying that the Winey Hubby and I are both proud graduates of Northwestern. We loved it there. Wonderful friends, great education, gorgeous campus. Football powerhouse? Um, well, during our tenure there, the Wildcats set the NCAA record for all time consecutive losses by a Division 1 football team. But was a minor thing. That is, if you consider a headline in a major news magazine that reads "Interstate 95, Northwestern 0" a minor little jab. Ouch. Still, we loved our school and still do. Had the Winey Son not become the Winey West Point Cadet, it's entirely likely he would have been a Wildcat. Winey Daughter is not thrilled with Chicago weather and has her sights set somewhere more southern at the moment. But there is still time to brainwash convince her.

And then, it all started to turn around. Northwestern went to the Rose Bowl in 1995 (the birth of the aforementioned Winey Daughter 13 days before the game kept us from attending, though). And since then we've been on an upswing.

We just couldn't win any of the bowls we went to. We won the Rose Bowl in 1949 and that was it. UNTIL THIS YEAR!!! When our beloved Wildcats slapped the Mississippi State Bulldogs with a loss of 34-20. The joy was great in our house. It's not every day you break a 64 year old record. (We tried to ignore the word "finally" that seemed to appear in every game re-cap afterwards. Usually in the headline.)

As it so happened, I had decided that our array of Bowl Winning snacks (did I mention cheese, sausage bites, pepperoni bites and sea salt chips?) would go very nicely with a bottle of Klinker Brick Farrah Syrah (2010, Lodi, CA, 14.9%). I figured with all those tastes going on, a Syrah would be able to hold its own there!

This wine (Farrah is the winemaker's daughter, FYI) starts off with a nose of earth and dark spices, a hint of bacon. It tastes of coffee, tart cherries and some green spices like oregano and tarragon. It is pure velvet in the mouth. Smooth and supple and many layers of well behaved tastes. It finishes with a lovely fruit tannin that lingers on - such a nice surprise! This wine retails for $20 but boy, you'd think it cost a whole lot more - it was that good!  Well worth ordering if you can't get it locally.

2013 Gator Bowl Champs
Photo from
 NU's Facebook page

It was a very good start to 2013: a Northwestern Bowl win and a wonderful new bottle of wine. I just don't know what else I could have asked for? OK, maybe a NU Gator Bowl Championship sweatshirt. Or more Farrah Syrah. Or both! Yeah, both!


I was sent this wine for review purposes. The opinions are my own. And yes, it is also my opinion that  Northwestern is one of the finest institutions of higher learning in this country. Go 'Cats! Pin It