The Summer of Slack

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I know, it has been quite a while since my last post. Between an intense summer class on the Revolution of the Book, travel for work, travel for travel’s sake and general life things, I’ve been a bit busy. That and the fact that on hot summer days and evenings I tend to lean towards cheap, easy to drink beer, I didn’t have a whole lot to say about anything I have consumed that would have had any intriguing content. I spared you notes on evenings of Rolling Rock, National Bohemian (Natty Boh to us Baltimoreans) and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

With that said, I did come across some noteworthy beverages in my travels. While I did not take any notes like I usually do, here are a couple of wines and a beer that stuck in my mind from the past couple of months.

Blue Fish Riesling (Germany) - I stopped by The Owl Bar the other night after returning from Philadelphia to find a quiet corner to read Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy for class in hopes of enjoying an at least tolerable glass of wine.  I was quite impressed with this crisp clean tasting Riesling. I went in with no expectations drink wise.  My main reason for visiting this former speakeasy, which was apparently visited by famous people* from around the world back in its heyday, was to find just enough stimulation so that I wasn’t sitting at home alone, but quiet enough to get lost in my book.  The Blue Fish Riesling exceeded my expectations.  I plan on going back and getting more detailed notes on this wine and/or will be tracking it down at my local wine shop.

*I’d like to note that Barbara Stanwick (She was AMAZING in Double Indemnity) was one of its many notable visitors.

2011 Writer’s Block Pinot Noir (Lake County) – While I was in Philadelphia visiting my brother we went to Zahav, a restaurant specializing in modern Israeli cuisine.  If you have the chance to, GO!  You will not be disappointed.  This was a very light tasting, smooth, easy to drink Pinot Noir.  I even got my brother to try a sip.  He’s not much for red wines.  He didn’t hate it.  I was impressed!  I’ll have to try to track this one down again.

The Steak House – Circus Circus – Las Vegas – I spent a few days in Vegas to get a change of scenery, a change of perspective, and to clear my head a bit.  Taking a day to drive out into the desert is extremely therapeutic.  On my last night there I decided to try the fine dining option at my hotel.  I didn’t catch the names of the wines I had, but with dinner I had a glass of Riesling, of course.  It went well enough with the garlic grilled shrimp I had.  The port I ordered for dessert however, was a complete shit show.  It was overpoweringly syrupy and tasted a bit like lighter fluid.  This was the recommendation from the server.

Anchor California Lager – I spent a week in Anaheim for work.  While the work days were incredibly long, we did have one night to ourselves.  Most of my coworkers gathered together and had dinner and drinks together.  That’s cute and all, and I work with some great people, but if I get ONE night off, I’m getting the hell away from work.  Within 6 minutes of being relieved for the evening I was cleaned up, changed and out the door and into a car with one request to the driver: GET ME OUT OF HERE.  I wanted to hit up a punk dive bar that I discovered was about 30 min away in Huntington Beach.  The driver said if I’m going that far, he would be doing me a disservice if he didn’t actually take me to said beach.  I was in no position to argue and nothing makes me happier than spending time with the ocean.  So after spending the most glorious 25 minutes walking the beach and enjoying the sunset, I found a small corner bar/restaurant to grab dinner.  I love Anchor Brewing Company.  I have the Anchor Steam logo tattooed to my left arm.  Their Liberty Ale is one of my all time favorite beers.  I was absolutely overjoyed when I discovered their California Lager available on tap at this establishment.  When in Rome right?  It was everything I expected and loved in a lager.  I think being in California, just coming off of the beach, and being in a state of utter bliss after watching a magnificent sunset over Huntington Beach made this beer drinking experience even more rewarding.  If only I could find this beer bottled locally here in Baltimore!  I would love to be transported back to those moments on that Friday night in the middle of a long work week.

 

2009 Accord Santa Maria Chardonnay

indelibleinc:

***Update on this particular post from December 2012***
I don’t know if the extra 18 months of aging severely helped this wine out, or if the previous bottle was bad, or if this needed to be consumed on a warm summer night, but this is actually quite light, crisp and delightful. There was no strange tingle this time around making me think the previous bottle I had tried did not ship well. While I do agree with my previous posting that I do prefer an oakier, fuller bodied Chardonnay, I will have to note that is decent for sipping after a long day of work and class. I do have to brag a moment and mention that I spent my evening in the Johns Hopkins University Archaeological Museum seeing millennia old cuneiform tablets and then later getting to handle one as well as ancient papyrus fragments. Maybe there’s something about handling 2500 year old artifacts that made this wine taste better this evening. I’m sure the two are unrelated… But I would bump the rating up on this to maybe a B-. I’m a sucker for a good citrus undertone paired with being well chilled.

Originally posted on Kristi's Wine Notes (and sometimes beer):

Notes provided by http://www.nakedwines.com:

  • Christina [Pallman] has made Chardonnay all around the world and even in Burgundy at the feet of the masters! She understands what this grape is really all about.
  • Grown in Santa Maria Valley which is known for its cooool nights, dry climate and exceptionally long growing season so it’s perfect for making this kind of wine with intensity and elegance.

My notes:

First I would like to say do not, and I really mean DO NOT, drink this wine at room temperature or even chilled to 63 degrees.  I almost had to spit it out.  For the love of your taste palate be sure to serve this wine WELL chilled.

Chilling mistakes aside now…  This wine has a very light, fruity and almost floral aroma to it.  Scents of citrus are detected after a solid second sniff.  The first thing I noticed when I tasted…

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Torres 2010 Celeste Crianza Tempranillo (Ribera del Duero)

Not going to lie, I picked this one up based solely on the bottle.  I couldn’t pass up something called Celeste that has a star map containing some of the most recognizable constellations on the label.  Ursa Major, Draco, Ursa Minor, Cepheus  and Cassiopeia easily talked me into this purchase.  I must say that I have seriously missed going into the local wine shops to discover something new.  Wine clubs are fun…but it takes away from the whole discovery experience.

This particular red poured a beautiful dark color.  Aromas are of leather and blackberries.  That didn’t immediately strike me as appealing and I wasn’t exactly hopeful from that point.  But I was pleasantly surprised when the subtle flavors of blackberries greeted my and then finished with a peppery, herbal tone.  The mouthfeel was lighter than I expected and the flavors in general were not overpowering in any way.  I’d say this is a pretty easy to drink wine.  I may have a second glass this evening while I watch the rest of Definitely, Maybe.  

This would pair well with some dried figs and dry salami and probably some other stuff….but I’m tired and don’t feel like over-thinking food pairings.

On a scale of “this tastes like piss” to “oops, I just drank the whole bottle” I would give this a “Not a bad way to unwind on a Sunday evening after a few pretty intense days.” Would I buy it again?  I wouldn’t be opposed to picking this up again.

Final Grade: B  Easy like Sunday evening.

 

2012 Mulheimer Sonnenlay Riesling Qaulitatswein – Mosel – Zeppelinwine

Notes from the bottle: The wine from our hometown was proudly served on board of the airship “Graf Zeppelin.”  A fruity and spicy wine with accents and tastes of apple, pear, citrus and floral notes.  Clean and fresh with crisp acidity and a tasty finish. 

My thoughts:  Ok, I’m going to be honest.  This is the third bottle of this I have purchased and have meant to review it each time.  It’s so easy to drink that it tends to disappear well before I get the chance to jot down any notes.  I discovered this one at the wine shop around the corner.  I wander in here from time to time when I need something different and need to bounce ideas off of a knowledgable staff.  This choice didn’t need much assistance.  It has a Zeppelin on the label.  I mean, how do you go wrong there? 

Knowing my luck with badass bottles typically equaling craptacular wine, I wasn’t expecting much from this one.  Luckily, the wine is as good as the artwork on the label!  Subtle aromatics hint at apple, pear, and a slight hint of citrus.  It has a surprisingly complex flavor for a wine that is very light tasting.  I don’t even know if that makes sense.  It is very light, crisp and has a bit of spritz to it.  There is a multitude of flavors that combine to make this easy to drink wine.  I gathered hints of apples and pears with a slight aftertaste of honey and maybe apricots?

This pairs well with popcorn and re-runs of Criminal Minds.  Would go really well with some grilled or broiled fish, shrimp, scallops, chicken, vegetable fried rice, or some extra spicy Thai food.  

On a scale of “this tastes like piss” to “oops, I just drank the whole bottle” I would give this a “Third time’s the charm!  I finished almost 3 bottles of this (not in the same sitting!) before I was able to focus and write about it.” Would I buy it again?  I already have!  More than once!

Final Grade: A This is going to be my go to for reasonably priced Reislings ($13-$15/bottle) especially if I have company…and even more if I don’t have company!

 

2009 Sol de Chile Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon – Syrah

From the bottle:

Cabernet Sauvignon – 65%     Syrah – 35%

Our flagship Winemaker’s Selection wine is made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  All the fruit comes from our Villa Alegre estate in the heart of the Maule Valley, where soils are poor and shallow and yield eight tonnes per hectare and fourteen months in french barrels.  This is an intense, complex wine with aromas of roses, cherries, berries and fig.  In the mouth it has a very good structure, with firm tannins, fresh black fruit, and a smokey, spicy character.

My thoughts:

Ok I was being lazy and went all Solo cup on this.  There happened to be a stack of blue Solo cups on top of the wine cabinet.  Stop judging me.  Anyway…this wine has heavy bouquet of berries and wood.  It actually reminds me of the smell of wood smoke from a fireplace in the late fall.  Upon the first sip I wasn’t quite so sure about this one.  After giving it a few moments and a second sip I started picking up on the specifics of this incredibly complex tasting wine.  It starts out with a slight hint of dark berries, then goes into a mellow flavor of figs with a floral hint and then ends with a smokey, peppery finish.  It’s dry.  I like that.  It’s that perfect amount of dry that entices you to take just one more sip…and then maybe one more…and then, oh hell I may as well pour another glass.  It is a very pretty super deep purple color and it hangs well on the sides of a plastic cup.  I’d imagine it leaving a much prettier set of legs in a proper glass.  But we’re not always all about proper in this house.

Food pairings?  It’s going pretty well with some garden Triscuits and Law and Order: SVU re-runs.  I can’t think of anything else off the top of my head that this would pair well with.  Maybe some of the harder cheeses.

On a scale of “this tastes like piss” to “oops, I just drank the whole bottle” I would give this a “Tastes like mid-December curled up on my mom’s couch in front of the fire with a good book.” Would I buy it again?  I wouldn’t be opposed to adding this in to a semi-regular rotation.

Final Grade: B+ It wasn’t holy shit I drank the whole bottle by accident (accidentally on purpose?) good, but it was half the bottle disappeared in a solid Sunday night unwind good.

2011 Rheinhessen Riesling Qualitätswein

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This is from Rheinhessen Lighthouse Series.

riesling

 

Note – I love lighthouses.  I mean LOVE lighthouses.  I have Long Beach Island, New Jersey’s Barnegat Light tattooed to the inside of my left arm.

This comes in a beautiful bottle with a lighthouse scene that can be viewed through the bottle.  The wine itself pours as a nice light golden color.  I found it strange that there was absolutely no bouquet to this wine.  Not a single noticeable aroma.  I was a little worried that this was going to just taste like sugar water.  Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by a pretty solid medium bodied wine.  The mouth feel was a little heavier than other Rieslings I’ve had.  Light, crisp, smooth and nothing overpowering taste wise making this a very easy to drink wine.  I noticed a bit of a honey aftertaste.  Nice and crisp, this should be served well chilled.

This would go well with charcuterie, salads, lighter seafood (especially scallops), and a nice warm spring Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

On a scale of “this tastes like piss” to “oops, I just drank the whole bottle” I would give this a “Subtle, smooth, easy to drink and tastes like Spring.  And with this ridiculous never ending Winter I was delighted by a taste of Spring.” Would I buy it again? I received this bottle as a gift, but if I track it down again I would absolutely pick up a bottle or six.

Final Grade: A- (The kickass bottle brought it up from a B+)

 

*I’d love to find the rest of the series.  If anyone knows where to find them let me know!

lighthouse

2011 Bodega Elena de Mendoza Malbec

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From the bottle:

Bodega Elena de Mendoza is named after our family matriarch, Elena Napoli, whose parents emigrated from Italy to the heart of Argentina’s wine country in the nineteenth century.  Our bold, beautiful wines take full advantage of the altitude, eternally sunny skies, and mountain water unique to our home at the foot of the Andes.  This Malbec is full of the dark, intense, flavors and pairs perfectly with grilled steak.

My thoughts:

This poured heavily into the glass in a deep, dark red color and immediately greeted me with full fruity scents with an aroma that often accompanies wines with a high alcohol content.  This one is average at 13.5%.  I was expecting a very heavy tasting wine, but was pleasantly surprised by the relatively light, smooth drinkability that I love about a good Malbec.  This might not make sense but it was sweet at first and finished a bit dryer.

Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was the exceptional company, but this particular Malbec is like a hug from the inside.  Smooth, subtle and gently warming.  A dear friend of mine and I gather most Wednesday evenings lately and crack open a bottle of wine and talk about life.  It doesn’t hurt that she also enjoys good wine and knows her stuff.  She described it as sweet, drinkable and only slightly dry.  I’d say that’s a pretty accurate description.

If you’re into the red meat thing, I’m sure this would pair well with a good steak.  I thought it worked out well with the asian sesame chicken and roasted asparagus that I made.

On a scale of “this tastes like piss” to “oops, I just drank the whole bottle” I would give this a “I’m glad I held onto this bottle and shared it with someone that would appreciate it.  It holds up well with solid conversation.” Would I buy it again?  I actually received this bottle as a gift, but plan on adding it to my would pick up again list.

Final Grade: A-  But with the right company, I’d give this a solid A.

Wine Dictionary #1.6 Grip and Silky

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I came across these two words today and decided to share them. Yes, I know, I have veered from my alphabetical wine dictionary theme. Too bad!  Both of these terms have to do with the texture of a wine.

Grip – This alludes to a wine having a grip on the palate – a traction, a bold statement.  This usually relates to a wine’s acid or tannin.  Wine without grip feels wimpy or too light.

Makes sense to me.  It’s something like meeting someone and judging them by their handshake.  A limp, clammy handshake is never something pleasant.  However, a good firm handshake is typically more memorable.

Silky - Describe a wine as silky if it tastes fine and smooth – like silk.

Again, this is pretty straightforward.  Although I can’t think of any wines off the top of my head that I’d necessarily describe as silky.  Unless you count this odd chocolate wine I had at a bonfire once.  It was more like chocolate milk with a hint of red wine taste to it.  I believe I have found a challenge!  Time to find a silky wine.

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