An excellent post from Wine Folly about tannins. Just had this discussion the other night with my youngest son. We were talking about the wine we were drinking as “having nice tannins” and he asked what they were. The way I always describe them is that feeling you get on the middle sides of your tongue when you drink plain black tea. Most people can relate to that.
Category Archives: Wine
I know I’ve been MIA around here. I’ve been out of the country for a stretch and have returned rested and ready to resume blogging. I have a new cocktail that I grew fond of while I was abroad: The Paloma. Anyone guess where I was? In my exhaustive research I noticed a wide variation in the making of this cocktail. I always asked the bartender how they made it. Not sure I can remember all the answers though. I have been experimenting with my own recipe and as soon as I perfect it I will post it here. Anyone care to share their favorite recipe? It’s certainly in the running for pool drink 2013.
Also of note the Drink Local Wine’s Fifth Annual Conference is going to be in Baltimore this weekend. You can find more information HERE. The grand finale taste-off looks especially intriguing. The list of participants is exciting. At $40 it seems like a really good deal as well and a unique opportunity to taste all these fine Maryland wines in one place. This conferene moves around the country so this may be your one chance to go when it is close by.
The direct shipping laws can be confusing. Here is a great article that lists some of the clubs that will ship to Maryland. I’m surprised that there are 32 of them. Way more than I expected as I had researched this some time ago and not found any. Wish I had seen this in time for Christmas! Oh well there is always next year.
Wine Clubs That Ship to Maryland
Last week I was wondering how the 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau turned out so last night I sought some answers along with the help of a 2012 Georges Duboef Beauljolais Village Nouveau 2012. I spent an extra $2 to get the villages (a second-tier classification and usually a step up from the broader Beaujolais AOC). Overall I was very happy with the wine. Anyone looking for a profound, moving wine in BN is barking up the wrong tree. But if you are looking for a fruity, dry wine with lots of acidity at a great price then this is your bottle. I felt that this vintage was one of the best that I tasted in the last decade or so. Gamay has a very distinctive nose to me- think banana laffy taffy and this bottle was no exception. Some people call Beaujolais the red that drinks like a white. This makes it ideal for Thanksgiving and I find a quick hour in the fridge, or out on the deck, to chill it really enhances the wine. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
Georges Duboef Beaujolais Villages Nouveau 2012. $11.99 at Frederick Wine House. 87 points
A had a nice value sparkling wine, the other day that I wanted to pass on: it was the 2010 Georges et Roger Antech Blanquette de Limoux Réserve Brut. Blanquette de Limoux is a French appellation from the south of France that dates back to 1938. The wines are made using Mauzac grapes with up to 10% combined total of Chardonnay and/or Chenin Blanc thrown in. The wines are made in the methode champenoise and aged on the lees for a minimum of nine months. The results are a pale golden wine with plenty of bubbles and light, fresh taste. Lots of flavors of lemon and grapefruit and bracing acidity. Not particularly complex but a terrific wine for pre-meal drinks or as an accompaniment to a white-wine meal. At $14.99 a bottle from Frederick Wine House its affordable enough to serve for a multi-bottle holiday celebration.
Yup it’s that time of year again and I feel compelled to say something about it. Not sure why, but I guess that is the insidious nature of a compulsion. What more is there to be said besides what I said in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, more 2008, and 2007? Not much.
While you cannot dispute the effect that the nouveau phenomenon has had on Beaujolais (and Georges DuBoef!) sometimes it is all that people think about when Beaujolais is mentioned. However, this might be a good opportunity to consider taking a look at some other Beaujolais besides the nouveau. The Beaujolais Villages and Beaujolais Cru appelations are worth seeking out. Robert Parker has rated the 2009 vintage 97 points and the 2010 88 points. The consensus on 2011 is that its better than 2010 but not as good as 2009. Find some and try them. If all you have ever had is BN then you will be in for a pleasant surprise.
A few odds and ends:
An nice article about Maryland’s own Robert Parker in WSJ Market Watch. I especially like the description of his wine cellar and the factoid that his daughter prefers tequila over wine. I am available for adoption.
And lastly Amazon is reentering the wine selling business. They had some issues the first time they did it. Of course no shipping to Maryland. Bear that in mind when the legislative session starts in January! Here is the official press release.
If you have been paying attention to my Twitter feed on the right you may have noticed that I have been using a new app called Vivino. I discovered it in August and have been trying it out since then. The free app (Apple and Android) allows you to take pictures of the label on a bottle of wine with your iPhone or other smart phone. It is then uploaded and they match it against their online database and pull up all the details on the wine. If for some reason it doesn’t match they have a “wine recognition team” that will manually do it for you in a day or so. So far I have found it has matched every wine I have tried. It doesn’t always get the year correct, but it is a simple click to change to the correct vintage. I have found it saves a bunch of time and is a great way to keep track of your wines. I have used CellarTracker for years and I absolutely love the program. I love the detail, the community notes, the reports and the ability to add all sorts of personal data. I use it to keep track of what I taste and all the bottles in my cellar. However it can be a painfully slow process to use your smart phone to enter a wine on CT. It also can be rather anti-social. Normally I just scribble notes and then (theoretically) enter them on my computer later. More often than not they don’t really get entered.
With Vivino a quick snapshot of the label is a far superior alternative. The cons to Vivino? I am not a big fan of the simple five-star rating. Not enough variance for me. I usually put my 100-point rating in the tasting notes. I also think the badges (You have earned the wine explorer badge!) are silly. Neither of these cons are enough to overcome its ease of use though. I especially like that I can link the wine I just scanned on Vivino to my Twitter account and have it appear automatically on my blog. Now in a perfect world CellarTracker would merge with Vivino and you could use your camera phone to pull up the wine on CellarTracker. That is what I really want But alas we do not live in a perfect world. Which could be one of the reasons I have a wine cellar in the first place. Cheers!
A really gorgeous photo essay from the Baltimore Sun about harvest time at Black Ankle Vineyards. I have a renewed appreciation for quality photography since I have been playing around with my new camera. Much harder than it looks.
I’ve been a fan of Gnarly Head’s Old Vine Zinfandel for quite some time. I find the Zin to be a tasty, dependable everyday wine that represents a great value. You can always find it in the Frederick Area for $10-12. I was aware that Gnarly Head had other wines in their family and yesterday I decided to plonk down $12.99 and try their Pinot Noir. The 2010 to be exact. I have not had much luck with finding a bargain Pinot and my hopes were high. Out of all the major varietals its seems the hardest for wine makers to produce as a value bottling, so I was looking forward to trying this and possibly adding another bottle to my go-to value list. However this wine can be summed up in a word: ”meh.” It wasn’t bad, just nothing special. It had some flavors of red fruit and raspberry, but seemed a little thin and with a sharpness on the finish. I’d give it and 80-81.
My search continues. Anyone out their have a value Pinot they’d care to recommend?
Is at it again. $300 fine issued to The Wine Kitchen after manager sips wine. The laws are truly ridiculous. Especially in this instance in a quality restaurant that takes its wine very seriously. Also having attended more than a few hearings they are comically Kafkaesque proceedings when the commissioners are awake. Based on this ruling here is evil Fred’s method for returning a wine you don’t like. Open it, drink some. Tell waiter its corked, cooked, brett or whatever. Then tell them you have to take your word for it and if they taste it you will report them to the Liquor Board.
Fred won’t be happy until the liquor board is disbanded and I can order wine on the internet!
This had me laughing. Promoting Paso Robles wine:
The Maryland Wine Festival is this weekend at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster, MD. Thirty seven Maryland wineries will be pouring over 250 wines. This will be the 29th annual festival.
Recently the 2012 Governor’s Cup presented its annual awards for the best wines in Maryland. Hearty congratulations go out to the following local wineries who won best in class:
Best Off-Dry: Frederick Cellars • Trail’s End 2011
Best Sweet: Linganore Winecellars • Traminette 2011
Best Port: Black Ankle Vineyards • Terra Dulce II
Best Mead: Orchid Cellar • Archer
The following Frederick County wines won gold medals: Black Ankle Vineyards • Crumbling Rock 2009; Black Ankle Vineyards • Terra Dulce II; Frederick Cellars • Trail’s End 2011;Linganore Winecellars • Indulgence 2010;Linganore Winecellars • Traminette 2011;Orchid Cellar • Archer.
These were awarded silver medals: Black Ankle Vineyards Bedlam 2011 and Leaf Stone Syrah 2008; Catoctin Breeze Vineyard Dolce Vita and Honey Moon; Elk Run Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2010, Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Merlot 2010 and Pinot Noir 2010; Linganore Winecellars Chambourcin 2007, Skipjack 2011 and Sweet Chessie 2011; Orchid Cellar Merlot 2010.
The following Frederick County wines were awarded bronze medals: Black Ankle Vineyards V.G.V. 2011; Catoctin Breeze Vineyard Amber NV; Distillery Lane Ciderworks Jefferson 2011; Elk Run Vineyards Syrah 2010; Linganore Winecellars Abisso 2007, Effervescence 2010 and Plum 2010.
An awesome showing by our county! If you aren’t trying local wines and visiting the wineries you are missing out on a great experience and, well, you are just a fool!
Last night as I was opening a bottle of wine I realized that I don’t believe I have ever mentioned the Screwpull Waiter’s Friend Corkscrew in Black here on this blog. Which is a huge oversight since I now use this to the exclusion of all else at stately Fred Manor. I received mine as a birthday gift last year. Besides the wine bottle opening parts (corkscrew and lever) it has a small blade for foil cutting and a bottle cap opener (which is nearly useless).
What makes this different from other waiters corkscrews is that it has a hinged lever (the part that rests against the bottle rim). In the above picture the hinge is right at the arrow on the lever. This allows you to put the corkscrew partially in, push on the hinge and rest the hinged portion against the bottle rim. This decreases the pressure on the neck of the bottle and increases the mechanical advantage to pull the cork out. Once the cork is partially out you can release the hinge and use the full length of the lever to finish the job. It works especially well on tough or old, brittle corks. Also unlike the common double arm type there are no bits of cork left in the bottle. It also takes up a lot less space than the teflon lever openers The Rabbit etc.) and unlike these type never wear out and can be used on synthetic corks. There is also a Le Creuset Screwpull waiters’s corkscrew out there that has the same principle of operation but the Le Crueset version has a lot bigger handle, which some people complain takes up too much space in your drawer.
The world of wines is absolutely vast and with such variety out there I find it difficult to buy a wine I’ve already had. Occasionally when I find a wine that is delicious and cheap I’ll stock up, but when it comes to higher end wines I want to experience it all and try something new. After all that is a large part of the fun of wine. However, what I am going to suggest is that it is also worth getting to know a winery over time. While we certainly have local options in Frederick County the enactment of direct shipping in Maryland last year made it possible to expand your horizons. The added bonus is that you also get to try wines that are not otherwise available in our state. When the new law passed I consulted with some mailing list aficionados and narrowed it down to two, both of which I signed up for on the day the law went into effect. Ultimately one of my choices (Rivers-Marie) was not willing to jump through Maryland’s hoops and ship to Maryland. Luckily for me the other, Bedrock Wine Company, is. Bedrock offers a fall and spring allocation so I now have two successive allocations sitting in my wine cellar, and the fall 2012 pending delivery. I am beginning to build up successive vintages of the some of their wines. Some of the first reds are entering into the window of drinkability and I plan to crack some over this year’s holiday season. But I want my gratification both delayed and now. Luckily they have whites which are ready to drink immediately.
So far I have tried their 2010 Ode to Lulu Rose, a mourvedre rose from Sonoma County and their 2010 Kick Ranch Savignon Blanc also from Sonoma. The rose was delicious (I did see that Steven Tanzer rated it 91 points) but the Sauvignon Blanc was stunning. Very old world with crisp mineral lime, stone fruit and fig flavors and a long powerful finish. One of the best whites I had all year. If the reds are the equals of their whites I am in for a treat.
I realize that my previous post was kind of rude since most of the wines listed are impossible to obtain: some have been sitting in cellars for years, some you have to visit the winery to purchase, some are obscure and some are the result of luck in joining a mailing list at the right time. Not wanting to be a total ass I decided to spotlight one that I loved and you can get locally. That is the 2009 Spann Vineyards Mo Zin. If you want a big, bold, peppery totally American Zinfandel then this is your wine. Actually a blend of 63% Zinfandel, 27% Morvedre and 10% Syrah this wine delivers a 14.5% alcoholic punch without being overly hot. Tons of cherry and pepper flavors with some sour redfruit on the medium finish. I loved this wine. Subtle it is not- it will overpower a delicate dish, but paired with something equally bold it is fantastic.
Purchased at Frederick Wine House for around $21.
You may have noticed the lack of posts recently. I’ve been on vacation. This was actually my first full week off since July 2011 and I had a fantastic time. I’m back and I am rested, ready, very tan and motivated to get back to regular blogging. Of course any Fred extended family vacation is going to involve food and drink. Here is a list of the wines I drank while away. The list maybe somewhat incomplete because things got fuzzy at times but I knew there were going to be some phenomenal wines, so I resolved to keep track. There was only a handful of clunkers in the bunch. The highlights included River-Marie, Carlisle, Bedrock, the Schoech Riesling, Meadowlark and Red Hook. The Moet was a magnum and we blasted that open off the third floor rooftop deck just as the local police turned the corner. They just waved as they drove by. Being middle-aged has its occasional advantages.
2007 Perrin & Fils Côtes du Rhône Villages (France, Rhône,Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages)
2010 Domaine De L’Aurière Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie (France,LoireValley, Pays Nantais, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine)
2010 Finca Os Cobatos Monterrei (Spain, Galicia, Monterrei)
2010 Sterling Vineyards Chardonnay Vintner’s Collection (USA,California,CentralCoast)
2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley (USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley)
2009 Domaine Ganevat Côtes du Jura Cuvée Julien (France, Jura, Côtes du Jura)
2008 Antigal Malbec 1 (Argentina, Mendoza)
2010 Marcel Lapierre Morgon (France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon)
2010 The Red Hook WineryChardonnayIlImpetuoso Macari Vineyard (USA,New York, Long Island,North Fork)
2009 Spann Vineyards Mo Zin (USA,California,SonomaCounty)
N.V. Moët & Chandon Champagne Brut Impérial (France,Champagne)
2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc Kick Ranch (USA,California,SonomaCounty)
2009 The Red Hook Winery Cabernet Franc (USA,New York, Long Island,North Fork)
2010 Maurice Schoech Riesling Kaefferkopf (France,Alsace,Ammerschwihr,AlsaceGrand Cru AOC)
2002 Mas de Daumas Gassac Vin de Pays de l’Hérault (France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault)
1999 Mayacamas Vineyards Chardonnay (USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder)
2003 Château Cap de Faugères (France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Côtes de Castillon)
2005 Meadowlark Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon – Syrah (USA, California, Napa Valley)
2006 Château Saint-Roch Côtes du Roussillon Villages Chimères (France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages)
2005 MollydookerShirazThe Boxer (Australia,South Australia, McLaren Vale / Padthaway)
2007 Elk Run Cabernet Sauvignon Cold Friday Vineyard (USA,Maryland)
2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Mourvedre Ode to Lulu Rosé (USA,California,SonomaCounty,SonomaValley)
Why is it that I find bad wine undrinkable, yet I can tolerate bad beer? I was pondering this the other steamy day by the pool. Now I have to be clear: for a bad beer to be palatable it has to be (a) drunk ice-cold outside on a hot day or (b) free. Bonus points if it is both. Yet I find lousy wine to be undrinkable under any circumstances. Why is this? My working theory is that there is a greater spread between bad and excellent in wine than in beer. What I mean by this is that the top end of beer is really good but the top end of wine is stunning to sublime. I’ve never had that ‘a-ha’ epiphany moment with beer that I’ve had many times with wine. So maybe when you are drinking bad wine consciously or unconsciously you realize all the wasted potential. I guess beer doesn’t have as much potential to waste? It’s like your stupid friend: you just don’t expect as much out of him so he rarely disappoints you.
As promised I did get a few more roses to check out. I am sad to report that the 2011 Domaine Du Pere Caboche rose table wine was disappointing. Hailing from the Vaucluse region in Southeastern France it was a blend of grenache and syrah. The wine had a very pale salmon color with very little nose. It was too thin and acidic on the palate to generate any enthusiasm on my part. It speaks badly for a wine when the most exciting part is that it cost only $8.99 .
I went by Frederick Wine House yesterday and they are all out of Alexander Valley Dry Rose of Sangiovese. The horror. I spoke to the owner and he said they can’t get anymore. I’m kicking myself for not buying a case. When I find something that I love as much as that I should just know to stock up. When will I learn? Consoling myself I bought a couple of different roses and I will report here when I drink them. I have to say I find my tastes changing. I really used to be a 100% red wine guy. I’ve found that I come to enjoy whites and roses much more, especially in the summer. It reinforces how important it is to get out of your wine comfort zone. It’s a big exciting world of wine out there. Explore! So I guess that’s the silver lining to this story. Comments?
Since some of you have asked here are my top five places to buy wine in and around Frederick. Since I work downtown, I primarily shop around the city area so there may be some worthy stores in farther flung locales that I am not aware of. In order of preference:
1. The Frederick Wine House. I like this place because of its love of wine is apparent from the moment you walk in. They have a friendly, knowledgable staff that often has tasted the wine you are interested and can steer you towards what you want. I trust them so much that when pressed for time I just walk in, tell them what I am eating for dinner that night and how much I want to spend. They hand me a bottle, I pay for it and walk out the door confident that I am going to have a great wine. I also like that they make a terrific effort with their frequent tastings, and their live video tastings with winemakers. Guy the beer guy is an encyclopaedia of beer as well. All this helps to make it my go-to place and favorite store in Frederick.
2. Spirit Shoppe. They have, arguably, the best wine and beer selection in Frederick so that’s why I list it here. They have depth from all around the world and their selection of bargain priced wines is worth exploring and changes frequently. If you read about something in a magazine and want it this store is your best chance for finding it around here. What I don’t like is that their service is sub par. I have been going very regularly for 21 years and can count on one hand the number of times I have been asked if I need help. The people that work there spend 95% of their time behind the counter and I have no confidence that they have any knowledge about wine.
3. Viniferous. Since my first review of this store I have been back many times. I have found the owner to be enthusiastic and knowledgeable. They may not have the breadth of selection of numbers one or two but they have a nice quirky collection of wines that you do not see anywhere else. I also like that they have everything from super expensive wines right down to the lower end. I never walk out of there empty handed. They have an active Facebook page that gives notice of their tastings and specials. As a postscript ranking this was a tough one. I hemmed and hawed whether they should be second or third on this list. I’m still not sure. Maybe just call it a tie for second?
4. Westridge Liquors. (No web site that I am aware of) Good selection but with indifferent, liquor store service attitude. Pricing in line with 1,2 and 3. Never seen sale here. On the plus side they have great depth in French wines.
5. Old Farm Liquors. While this place may lack the depth of some of the places above they do have some off beat selections and by far the best pricing out of all of the stores listed here. They have good sales from time to time. They also have the largest selection of prosecco in the area. If I need half a dozen bottles of prosecco or cava for a party this is the place I go.