Friday, April 25, 2014

Winey Tasting Notes: Tin Roof..not the Sundae, the Wine

family holding ice cream cones on cruise ship, Royal Caribbean Arctic Zone
I give you proof that my family is made from ice cream.
This is the FIRST place the Winey Hubby and Winey
Daughter went upon boarding our cruise ship
this past Spring break.
We hadn't even left port yet. 
I am a loner in the Winey Household. At least, I stand alone when it comes to the ice cream gene. It seems that this gene was passed directly down from the Winey Hubby to the two Winey Children. It is a gene he inherited from his Winey Family, since 4 of the 5 siblings worked at an ice cream stand during their teenage years. (To this day, The Hubby waxes poetic about the free ice cream he got to take home each night. My cooking has never, ever been on the end of such a review from him. Hmph.)

So in my household, I alone can look at a tub/cone/waffle filled with ice cream and not start drooling. I don't automatically grab a spoon and a jar of sprinkles. I can just look…and walk away. But not them. Oh no. They are all genetically programmed to head toward any ice cream stand we pass (the same goes for frozen yogurt, which they tell me is the same gene pool). It usually isn't a problem. I say usually because when most of your family bleeds vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, they tend to get kind of picky about the thickness of their milkshakes, the style of the little twirl at the top of their soft serve cone or the amount of fudge on the sundae.  I still cringe at the time the Winey Hubby and I were driving to Florida with his sister.  On one gas break, we went into an ice cream parlor in Georgia and they proceeded to instruct the unsuspecting teens behind the counter on how to make their shakes: they must be thick enough…but not too thick. Oh puhleeze! I was embarrassed for them. And me. I was absolutely embarrassed for me.

bottle of Tin Roof Cellars Zinfandel, 2011
photo courtesy of
Tin Roof Cellars
That's not to say that I don't have my own sugar laden demons (hello, jelly beans and really good milk chocolate). It's just that ice cream is not one of them. Which is why I got such a kick out of seeing a bottle of wine from Tin Roof Cellars. Here was a version of tin roof that I could dig into. No peanuts and hot fudge here. Just a nice bottle of Zinfandel from Lodi, California, one of my favorite Zinfandel producing regions!

The nose on Tin Roof Zinfandel (2011, 13.5%, Lodi, CA) is full of grape jam with a touch of dark green spices and black pepper.  The taste began with sharp sour cherry and a hint of oak. There was some peppery flavors on the end of it as well. It finished up with some drying tannins and a bit of bacon wood flavor.

To be honest, this wine was just not as rich and velvety as I'd hoped. Maybe I've been setting my standards a bit high as far as Lodi Zinfandels are concerned. I've had some AMAZING ones (see my Fields Family Old Vine Zinfandel and D'Art Zinfandel reviews) but I just can't go that far with my description of Tin Roof.  It was just ... there. Nothing outstanding, nothing to wow over...just a bottle of red wine.

I'm going to go with a resounding, "It's OK" on this one. And oddly enough, that is exactly how I would describe ice cream. Don't judge. It's just not in my genetic make up. However, if you test my blood for jelly beans, well....that's another story.


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Friday, April 18, 2014

Winey Tasting Notes: Cruising With Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc

Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc wine labelThe Winey Family (minus the Winey Son because he took his own spring break trip with his buddies) has recently returned from a wonderful spring break cruise. Yes I said "cruise".. and don't start with  me. No, we didn't get sick, the boat was fine, the toilets worked and all was well. If I sound a bit defensive it's because whenever we say we're going on a cruise, someone has to crack a phrase about all the bad things that have happened on cruise ships. I'll put it right out there: we love our big boats! Icky things happen on any vacation - on water or dry land. I know it just makes a better story when you can report on a whole boat full of people getting sick than if you report on the fact that someone's daughter and niece threw up in the car the entire 6 hour drive to a family ski trip. (Yes, I speak from direct experience here.)

OK, I'll stop now. What I really meant to do was to tell you all about my winey experience on board The Explorer of the Seas (Royal Caribbean, if you want to know). Now, I realize that one of the first things that comes to mind when you say cruise is FOOD.  And with food comes wine. At least in my winey world it does. And there is absolutely nothing like the experience of heading to a formal dining room, being served by some of the nicest people you'll ever meet on the high seas, eating amazing food and getting to choose a new wine every night. BUT this time, I stopped choosing a new wine after two dinners. And that's because I discovered Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc (2012, Marlborough, New Zealand, 12.5%). This is so not me. But it was so good that I ordered it again and again. It helped that I was usually eating seafood, which pairs so well with a Sauvignon Blanc! I did switch to a red for one evening, but we were eating lamb and I just had to. In fact, every night when we'd show up in the dining room our assistant waiter would look at me and say "Dashwood?" All I had to to was nod!! How much easier could it be? Oh right, they could open the bottle and serve it to me in a chilled wine glass to make it easier. Oh wait. They did.

dining room cruise picture , Explorer of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
The Winey Daughter and I with
our wonderful waiters!
The first thing to hit you with this wine is a very aromatic bouquet of lime, kiwi, sea air and minerals. The taste was all juicy and tart with just a teeny hint of sweet in there somewhere. I would compare it to drinking a key lime pie. The flavors roll through your mouth: first is the lime, then lemon then a bit of kiwi. It finishes off with some green peppers (kind of a surprise, but it worked after all that fruit.) Crisp and lively - it was one of the best New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs I have ever had. I am going to add it to my favorites. I paired it with silver corvina (a white fish) one night, scallops another night and with the on board show almost every night. ahem.

If you like a tart, refreshing white wine, go ahead and buy Dashwood. It'll run anywhere from $10-$12 and is an amazing buy, in my winey little opinion.  It's readily available, and with warmer weather on the horizon, I'd say stock up on this one!


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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Winey Tasting Notes: Cleebourg Pinot Gris - You Can Taste It, But It'll Cost You A Quarter

I love the grocery store! I don't have to try anything on, I don't have to search for sizes, I don't have to worry about if the color will look good on me. I don't have to measure to see if it will fit on a wall/in a room. Nope, at the grocery store, it's just reach and place in the cart.

Another reason I love the grocery store is that there are samples. All over the place. From fruit to soup to cheeses (I cannot resist a cheese sample) to fresh baked bread. I could seriously eat an entire meal just wandering around the aisles. And another reason for looking forward to a trip to the food store?  In Ohio, our grocery stores can sell wine! Yay! And there are samples! Double yay!
coin jar
A familiar sight at
Ohio store samplings!

But, those samples come at a price here. I kid you not. Somewhere on the books is a law that forbids Ohio wine sellers to give away free wine. Including samples. So, no matter where you go - the local store that I shop at (Heinen's, if you want to know the name), or Trader Joe's or World Market, you gotta ante up for that sample. So if you see me in the grocery store, and you hear a bunch of quarters jingling in my pocket, you know I am on my way to the wine sampling.

OK, I suppose it's not the biggest issue I will ever have to face in my retail adventures. It is kind of inconvenient and just  plain odd. But it also gives us a lot to joke about at the tastings, especially when someone "buys" you a round for 25 cents. I will also tell you that I am not a Winey Mom for nothing. I will never let a little quarter get in the way of my wine samples. All joking aside, samples are one of the best ways to NOT waste your time and money on a bottle of wine. I can usually tell with just a little sip or two if I will like a wine or not. Well worth digging some coins out of my pocket.

Cave de Cleebourg Pinot Gris bottle label, frontSuch was the case a while back, when I tasted a French Pinot Gris one Saturday afternoon. This was Cleebourg Pinot Gris (2011, 13%, Alsace, France). I have not had a lot of Pinot Gris, and I was glad they were sampling a French wine. I happen to know a little bit about the Alsace area thanks to the Winey Hubby's ancestors. Seems a whole branch of his family is from Colmar, which is in Alsace-Lorraine. The area has switched back and forth from French to German rule over the centuries, but at the time they lived there, Colmar was under French rule. So I was curious as to what a Pinot Gris from the land of the Winey ancestors would taste like. The sample was good, so I decided to spring for an entire bottle.

The first thing I noticed about the wine was that it poured out of the bottle heavily. Sort of like pouring liquid velvet. We're talking full bodied here - you could tell just by watching it! The nose gave off aromas of apple blossom, ripe honeysuckle and heavy summer flowers. The first flavor I tasted was of minerals, then golden honey followed by lime peel. It finished on that lime note, tart and almost sour. It delivered the entire gamut of flavors here - rich, creamy, sweet flavor giving way to a tart, juicy finish.

Buy this wine if you don't like your white sweet…and if you don't like it big and buttery. But if you like big, rich flavor that starts out creamy and end up refreshingly tart, this one is for you.

I'll even spring for the quarter if we happen to meet at a tasting some day!

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Winey Tasting Notes: Fog Head Wine and My Foggy Headed Child

What to do when a bottle of wine is a total bargain and has a name that makes you giggle? Buy it in red and white!

Such was the case a few weeks ago when I spied a  new wine offering at a local store. It was being featured in the store's "best under $10" section, which is quite a coup, since they are really particular about their wines. It also had the added attraction of being named "Fog Head". And that's what made me giggle. Because of the three humans currently residing in The Winey House, I am the only one who is NOT a Fog Head when it comes to mornings. Truth be told, if you add in the two Winey Doggies to this list, they would come in second and third, after me. Fourth place belongs to the Winey Hubby. But the winner of the foggy head award is The Winey Daughter. She totally takes after her dad, but being a teenager, adds her own little style to the distinction.
I am only a morning person on December 25th t-shirt
Pretty much sums up
The Winey Daughter's early morning

There was a time when I would have to summon  my courage to go in and wake her up, especially on cold school days. My last words to The Hubby upon heading down the hallway to her room usually were: "Cover me, I'm going in." And I was only half kidding. As a younger child, she would actually growl at me. The kind of growl that's low in the throat and if it were coming from an outdoor wooded area would have me running for my Winey life. As she got a bit older, the conversation moved on to a tone of "Don't Shoot The Messenger". There were times that I actually resorted to tossing one of the doggies onto her. The face licking would commence and although she was predictably royally annoyed, I knew she wouldn't actually hurt those little pups. I am sad to say that I was not so sure about the bodily harm she'd inflict on me, hence the puppy buffer.

Like I said though, she has inherited this trait directly from her dad. The man who willingly stays up past midnight and loves to sleep in and then read in bed in the mornings. I, on the other hand, am in bed early, usually falling asleep while reading, and up on the earlier side of the day. And yet, we stay married. Go figure.

Fog Head Chardonnay 2012 California bottleBut back to the wine. If a bottle is a bargain and makes me smile, it's safe to say it's going home with me. In this case, there were two choices: Fog Head Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon (2012, 13%, California). Fog Head tells us that their wines are "crafted by the elements" of "cooling fog and warm sunshine". Doesn't that sound just wonderful? Foggy mornings giving way to sunlit days on the California coast. I'm in. At least where the wine is concerned.
bottle of Fog Head Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 California
The Chardonnay gives off a nose of mellow oak, pear and yellow apples. The taste is bright and round and full of pear with hints of vanilla and nutmeg. There's a bit of butter and oak, but not overly much. And it all ends in a juicy smack that reminded me of a sour apple lollipop. Yum.

The Cabernet Sauvignon starts out with a nose of sour cherry and sourdough bread. It tastes of coffee and dark stone fruits and some mocha. It finished with the flavors of dark spices - like bay leaf and parsley. It was smooth as silk and full of rich flavors.

The Chardonnay will be the perfect white when you are trying to please Chardonnay fans who cannot agree on the amount of oakiness they want in their glass. The oak here gives the wine just enough moxie to stand up to the oak lovers, but not so much that you are overpowered by it all. A wonderful wine at an amazing price. (I paid $7.99 on special - you will normally find them for around $9.99.)

The Cabernet is for you if you want a big flavored red that still knows how to behave itself. The tannins are rich but not drying. Again, amazing wine at an amazing price.

Nothing foggy here, Winey Friends! In fact, the choice is rather clear headed, if you ask me!


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