Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Ding Dong! Moscato Calling!!!

Wouldn't this be nice?
One of the pure joys of being a Winey blogger is that every so often, your doorbell rings and you open it to find the friendly UPS or FedEx delivery person holding out a signature pad. Which can only mean one thing: they've got wine samples for you!!! Yippee!! Wine must be signed for by someone over the age of 21, a fact which has embarrassed the Winey Daughter on occasion as she has to turn around and yell for me or the Winey Hubby. One day neither of us was here and you'd have thought it was the end of her dignity as we know it. (Why yes, dear, actually we did plan it for your maximum discomfort.)

One day the ringing of the bell produced a box containing a pair of pretty bottles from Australia. Southeastern Australia, to be exact. One bottle contained Moscato. The other contained Pink Moscato. A set of Moscato delivered right to my door!! Whoo hoo!

These came courtesy of Banrock Station, part of the family of Accolade Wines. The folks down under at Banrock are extremely committed to the environment - practicing it while they make wine and donating to environmental causes worldwide. So you're sipping for good while you're sipping these wines. Always a plus. But this just begs an answer to the question: How does the wine taste?

bottle of 2012 Banrock Station Pink MoscatoI'll start with the Pink Moscato (2012, 6%, Australia). The nose was pure berries. The taste opened up to reveal strawberries with some pink grapefruit around the edges. The wine felt thicker in my mouth than I expected though. Not as bubbly as other Moscatos. The bubbles were there, they were just a bit sluggish and very tiny. The finish was of key lime - not full on tart lime, more of the mellower key lime. If you like sweet wines you will love this one. A lot. The flavors are full and rich, and the feel is very rich and thicker than other Moscatos I've tasted.
bottle of Banrock Station Moscato 2011
The bottle of Banrock Station Moscato (2011, 5.5%, Australia) had a nose of tangy citrus (grapefruit, lemon) with just a hint of flowers. The flavors were of pink grapefruit and peach and the flowers returned again, but just at the edges - just a hint of them. The bubbles were there this time too, but in a subtle way - more lively than out and out bubbly. Very refreshing. It finished with a very juicy taste that left you wanting another bottle! I was sharing this bottle with two other wine lovers and we were all kind of eyeing the last few drops. I am happy to report that we didn't come to blows over them, but another bottle would have been really, really helpful. Not to mention delightful.

So my pair of Moscatos took me on quite a Moscato ride. If you like the sweeter, rounder, lusher style - pour the pink. Need a spritzy refresher? Pour the white. You really can't go wrong with either. Unless you run out like we did. That's just wrong.

Cheers!

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Seaside Memories with Sea Glass Pinot Gris

As you may have gathered by reading other reviews I have written, I am a Jersey girl. Yes, I live in Ohio, and have for the past 26 years. But Jersey is where I took my first breath, tasted my first Taylor Ham, learned to drive on the Garden State Parkway and most importantly, spent my summers at the Jersey shore. For six weeks every summer, we would load up the wood paneled Ford station wagon and head out to Normandy Beach, an 8 block wide "town" located halfway between Point Pleasant and Seaside Heights. And there we would stay, shoeless and carefree, until 2 weeks before school started, when my mother deemed it was time to start the back to school shopping and head home again.


picture of Winey Mom at age 2 and her grandfather, Jersey Shore, 1965
The Winey Mom and
her Winey Grandfather
 Seaside Heights, NJ
1965
My mother's parents lived in New Jersey and were frequent visitors to our shore homes, staying with us for days and weeks at a time (until they finally bought their own home "down the shore" when I was about 13). My grandmother loved to walk on the beach, and because of that she became the "professional" shell and sea glass collector. You can't help it. Follow the wave line and a whole sea of treasures just washes in at your feet. There wasn't a summer that didn't go by that a jar or bowl of treasures didn't find its way onto a counter or windowsill. For years, I had one such jar in my bedroom of the house I grew up in, and right now, one of the larger shells is residing in the pond in our backyard. A bit of Jersey for me in Ohio.

Grandma and I were buddies, and more often than not I was her companion on those walks. She and I both loved to look for sea glass. It sounds rather magical, doesn't it? Sea glass. Smooth, polished bits of blue, brown, green and white washed onto the sand in the foamy waves. But let's face it, in reality, most sea glass starts out as wine or beer bottles or maybe some industrial glass from a seaside factory. (For my purposes these days, I'm pretending ALL sea glass is from lovely bottles of wine.) But no matter where it comes from, finding sea glass was always a banner discovery.

bottle of Sea Glass Pinot GrisSo upon discovering a bottle of Sea Glass Pinot Gris on the shelf of my favorite wine store, my mind immediately flew back to those days of salty warmed skin and wet feet and buckets of shells and sea glass. It was a given that I'd buy a bottle.

Sea Glass Pinot Gris (2011,13.5%, CA) is made from grapes grown mostly in foggy seaside Santa Barbara and Monterey Counties. A very teeny bit comes from Napa, so we're talking some very well pedigreed grapes here. It's the grapes from Santa Barbara that give the wine it's ocean feel though. It's right there immediately in the aroma - sea air and minerals with a touch of key limes. (Can you hear the waves crashing? OK, it's a stretch, but I really wanted to.) The taste was sharp citrus on the back of my tongue and full of lime peel and minerals everywhere else. It was totally crisp and refreshing and in the end, it faded to a juicy-tart aftertaste. The perfect blend of flavors and feels for an ocean themed wine!  Plus, the label is so darned pretty.  It is widely available too and for the most part, under $10 a bottle. Not a bad price for a quick trip to the beach, huh?

Buy this if you want a tart, refreshing, zingy wine or if you are looking for something to go with seafood or spicy Chinese food. It would also go well with lighter chicken dishes (no heavy creams or BBQ sauces).

Or just take it to the beach and sip on it!

Cheers!

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: The Story of Two Ravenswood Old Vine Zins

You see it time and time again. Siblings who are nothing alike. From eye color to food preferences, they could have come from totally different parents. Take the Winey Children for instance. The Winey Son is a winey mini-me. (OK, as much as a 6'3" kid can be called mini. Or me.) Line his baby pics up with mine and my Winey siblings and you'd think he was just one of us struggling to grow up in New Jersey in the 60's. Then there is the Winey Daughter. She is the Winey Hubby's mini-me. In fact, I would go as far to say that I simply served as the incubator for my husband's gene pool on this one. I know they are both ours, though, because they keep returning to this house demanding food, shelter, funds and and oh yeah, love.

But they differ in other ways as well. One loves olives. The other would rather eat bugs in Mexico. And has, for that matter. One is a country music devotee, the other wants to be Bob Dylan when he grows up. (May I suggest that he learn to sing like a goat first, though?) One has her grandmother's artistic talent. The other, well, not so much. I could go on and on.

Ravenswood Winery logoI bring this up to lead you into my latest wine review. Two Old Vine Zinfandels from the same winery, but very different in taste. I received Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel and the Old Vine Zinfandel Vintners Blend  courtesy of the kind folks at Ravenswood Winery in the Sonoma area of California. I knew enough to realize that one was from their "County" line and the other their "Vintners Blend" line (give me some credit, puhleeze). And they were different vintages. But really, how totally different could they be? Let me tell you, I found out.

Ravenswood Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel bottle 2010Let's start with the 2010 Sonoma County Zin, (2010, 14.5%, CA) since that's the one I tried first. I have become a big fan of California Zins in recent years, and I was really looking forward to this one. It opened to my nose with aromas of faint spice. Nothing good, nothing bad...just there to sniff. The taste was of oak and black cherry. The spice showed up again, along with a hint of some dark green herbs such as oregano and thyme. I will say this, that for a wine with such a high alcohol content, it was amazingly balanced. Sometimes you'll get quite the hot feel from a big old Zin, but this one stayed true to its fruit and oaks. It finished. That's about it. Nothing spectacular or horrible. I didn't dislike it - I just kept waiting for more...more depth in the flavors, more aroma in my nose. It was not quite there though. (A friend sipping along with me agreed, by the way.) It might be interesting to note that this is a blend of Zinfandel (80%), Petite Sirah (9%),  Syrah (6%),Carignane (4%) and 1% Mixed Blacks.
Ravenswood Vintners Blend Old Vine Zinfandel 2011 bottle
Now, let's visit the sibling, so to speak. This was the 2011 Vintner's Blend Old Vine Zinfandel (2011, 13.5%, CA). And as much as I don't like to favor one sibling over another, if the Winey Mom had to pick, this would be her Zin of choice. Here was the nose of sour cherry, dark spices and coffee. And the taste of mocha and coffee surrounded by some earth and herbs. The finish was mellow and earthy and the tannins were smooth and very supple. Now we were talking! I loved the fruit and the earthy, spicy depth here. And yes, it was a bit more "earthy" than some other Zins I've tried, but it was so very good. This too, is a blend of Zinfandel (75%), Petite Sirah (16%), Syrah (6%) and 3% "Mixed Blacks".

Just as with the Winey Children, you can put the same ingredients into a mix, albeit at different levels, and come out with two very different products. Thankfully, I am very happy with the outcomes of both of the Winey Children's mixes - two very funny, intelligent and caring young people who have the best mother in the world (Yeah, yeah, their Dad is pretty awesome, too).

As far as these two Ravenswood Zins, I will say that I am glad to have tried them both. But I am gonna play favorites here and go with the Vintners Blend. If you are a big red wine lover, you should play favorites too. But just with wine, not your kids!

Cheers!

I was sent these wines for review purposes. The opinions are all my own.



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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Red Rock Rocks the Dinner Table As The Winey Son Turns 21

There comes a time in the life of every parent (Winey or not) when you realize that your baby is not a baby anymore. I suppose I could have had such a revelation when the Winey Son turned 18. Or when he topped 6 feet (WAY before he turned 18, by the way). But nope. Mine came just a few weeks ago when the Winey Son returned from West Point with two of his best friends in tow. This was not what made me realize he was all "growed up". Nor was it that fact that during his 3 week assignment at West Point, he had turned 21. No, what made me realize he was a big boy now was when he called from the road and asked if I would make dinner for the three of them and oh, they'd like wine with their steak.

picture of a bottle of Red Rock Winery's Reserve Winemaker's Blend, 2011Yup. That did me in. My little (ahem) boy letting me know that Cherry Coke or ruby red grapefruit juice wasn't going to do it anymore. Hey Mom, how about a nice bottle of wine? Good heavens! How can he be 21 when I am still 29????? Funny how the little things are the ones that leap up and smack you in the head sometimes, isn't it? I had a hard enough time when he started buying his own underwear and now here he was asking me for some wine.

Sorry about that...I'm back now and I promise no more Mommy hand wringing. I gamely rose to the occasion, and I did so with a bottle of Red Rock Winery Reserve Winemaker's Blend (2011, 13.5%, CA). I had seen it on the shelves many times and had never gotten around to trying it, which surprises me since I am a red blend lover. But I had recently purchased a bottle, and it was waiting in the wine rack, ready to be uncorked.

You need to understand that two of the three Cadets (mine included) at the table had just spent 3 weeks in the field. And I do mean the field. No tents, MREs* to eat, no showers (do NOT even ask me about the laundry issues that brings up) and in their case, lots of rain. The other Cadet was just back from a trip abroad. What else could a mom do but grill up some steaks, bake some potatoes and make a huge salad? An All-American meal made to order for some very hungry young men.

But what about the wine? Did I choose well? Was it worthy of being the first wine I sipped with the Winey Son sipping along?

OH MY YES! The Winemaker's Blend is a mix of Petite Sirah, Syrah, Zinfandel and Merlot. I don't know how they did it (or I'd be the winemaker, wouldn't I, now?) but Red Rock brought out the very best of these 4 wines in one bottle. The nose was very jammy and promising (I think that was the Petite Sirah talking). And when you sipped it, the fruit really let itself be known, but so did some very lovely cocoa flavors and a touch of vanilla oak. It was the perfect balance between fruit and oak, and it was incredibly lush in the mouth. I wasn't the only one that thought so, either. The wine drew raves from all, especially the Cadet who'd been out of the country. It seems that he loves his wine too, and for both of us to be wowed really says something. I had a great time talking wine with him and I only had to stop every once in a while and compose myself when I realized I was talking to my son and his friends about wines. We'd come a long way since talks about Thomas the Tank Engine. (sob)

Oops, sorry, I promised I wouldn't do that anymore. OK, well...let me add that the price of this wine was under $10 dollars. What more could you ask for? Maybe another tissue? No seriously, I'm fine.
Now excuse me while I go look at the baby books for a while.

Cheers!

*MRE stands for meal ready to eat..a staple of Army field food. It gives you the calories and energy you need to make it through a mission, but not much else. And I'd also like to add at this time that you should never wash an MRE heat pack. Don't ask.




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