Just had a delightful lunch at Acacia courtesy of Frederick restaurant week. For those of you whose experience with this establishment has been limited to looking at the small area visible from the sidewalk on Market Street you should know that Acacia is truly a lovely space. You will also be surprised by how large it is. Tastefully decorated in muted, contemporary tones, the space continues back through two more separate dining areas and culminates in a beautiful courtyard. The food is contemporary American mixed with Asian influences. I know the term fusion has become a clichéd term in food circles, but Acacia does it well and does it authentically. I also really liked that they try to use all local and natural meats. Their menu states they use all natural pork products from Dorsey’s Meats of Woodsboro and local grass fed beef from Hedgeapple Farm of Buckeystown. There was also at least one vegetarian option for each course of the restaurant week menu.
Since this was restaurant week the worst part of the meal was having to choose only two courses out of appetizer, entrée and dessert. I opted for the appetizer/entrée option and started with the seared brussels sprouts. Wonderfully charred with just the right amount of salt and oil they were spectacular. I would have been satisfied to stop right there. Bravely, however I soldiered on with the Kung Pao chicken. The menu describes this dish as :”natural raised chicken stir fry, spicy hoisin glaze, peanuts, jasmine rice, black sesame-pea shoot salad.” It was perfectly spicy with delicious bits of chicken in a savory brown sauce. I also sampled the Jagerschnitzel- wonderfully crispy breaded pork tenderloin. The red cabbage marmalade was a terrific accompaniment to this dish.
Any food blogger can take a picture of the dish before you eat it. The remains of my Kung Pao chicken
I would also be remiss without mentioning that they had an excellent and varied wine list. Also available were nearly two dozen wines by the glass. I had a the top-notch Dr Loosen Reisling. It was great with the appetizer, but completely overpowered by the spice in the chicken. The negatives? First I thought the service was a trifle slow. The only complaint with the food was the pre-appetizer bread they served. Both I and my companion thought that it was not as fresh as it should be.
Overall I give Acacia high marks. It certainly is in the top tier of dining in Frederick . The ambiance is quite romantic and it would be a wonderful place to take a date. I plan on going back and enjoying the patio area once the weather warms up. I would also like to visit the bar one afternoon- their collection of scotches looks excellent.
I’ve been meaning to review this place for a long time. There’s something about Firestone’s that seems to slide under my radar, and it really shouldn’t and I can’t give no good reason why it does. Perhaps its just my radar is off? It has certainly had its’ share of accolades: Firestone’s is one of the few Frederick area restaurants to hold a Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence. Not only that but they’ve done it for eight consecutive years! It is consistently mentioned in the top restaurants in Frederick Magazine’s annual awards. Anyway on a recent afternoon I went there with two friends for lunch. The first thing that strikes you is the space: it has a beautiful old feel. Lots of dark wood and brick. Large two-story windows overlooking Market street prevent the space from feeling too dark. The bar is a masterpiece of woodwork. There are tables on the bar level and on a mezzanine level that overlooks the bar level. The whole effect is making the place feel cozy and inviting in an old-fashioned way without the slightest hint of cliché or kitsch.
The food is what I’d call classic American. On the day I visited I sampled the pulled smoked pork shoulder sandwich, the grilled free range chicken breast sandwich and the smokey grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato. They were all quite good. If I had to pick my least favorite it would have been the chicken. I was a trifle bland and overcooked. The accompanying sides were excellent. You had the option of fries, but also a pasta (orzo) salad (really good) and a cucumber-vidalia onion salad (also excellent). Unfortunately after two Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser Winter Ales I was too full to sample anything else, and also completely useless for the remainder of the afternoon.
And speaking of drinks the drink selection was top-notch: They have something like eighty beers and a constantly rotating selection of drafts. Also as expected from a Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence winner a great wine list. About 20 of those wines are available by the glass. I was also happy to see that nestled amongst the world spanning list they have a Maryland wine or two. Wine prices were decent.
Overall a place I have been to before and will continue to visit in the future. A great place to take guests since there really is something for everyone on the menu (vegetarian options as well). Next time I think I’d like to go back and sit at the bar and sample some of their wines and appetizers.
Firestone’s Culinary Tavern. 105 North Market Street, Frederick, Maryland
It has been a little over a year since I reviewed the Wine Kitchen in Frederick. I am happy to report that having eaten lunch there this week they are as strong as ever. I sampled the beet salad, butternut soup, fish and chips and curry chicken salad sandwich. All were very good. On the drinking front their flights of wine have changed, they’ve added flights of whiskey and bourbon and their cocktails are delicious. I especially liked the Sparkling Good Time (cava, lillet rose and orange bitters). My companion had two Vida Locas -their version of a margarita .
Sometimes with Duboef’s BN the bottle is better than the wine but not in this case
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
There have been lots of reviews and accolades for Bryan Voltaggio’s take on a diner, Family Meal. And tons has been written about the beautiful space and wonderfully appointed touches that make Family Meal not your average diner. But I’ve seen very little about their breakfast, so in the interest of thoroughness I just had to check it out. While I am a pretty adventurous eater, when it comes to breakfast I have to admit I am somewhat of a traditionalist. I purposefully did not look at the menu beforehand so I was not sure what to expect. Was I in for deconstructed french toast? Nitrogen grits? As it turns out, no. I am happy to report that the touches you expect from Chef Voltaggio are where they should be- on the periphery of wonderfully cooked and executed breakfasts. For example my omelet was perfectly cooked and filled with ham, cheese, onions, peppers and tomatoes. The accompanying rosemary home fries were absolutely scrumptious; big rough cut hunks of potatoes dusted with just the right amount of salt and rosemary. The eggs florentine was likewise excellent and the homemade tomato relish and crunchy (hominy?) topping really elevated the dish. I also have to say the bourbon sticky bun rocked. Just the right amount of sweetness with balanced with the undercurrents of bourbon and made for a treat. My companion who claimed she was too full and “only wanted a bite” ended up eating more than half of the bun. I should have got two. There are lots of other items on the menu I would like to try, so it’s definitely worth a return visit. When I was there the restuarant was not crowded so breakfast might be an excellent way for a quick bite there without the hassle of crowds.
Website is HERE
Little old Frederick is now big enough to boast two Cuban restaurants, which I have ignored long enough. I decided to dip my toe into the world of Cuban cuisine by starting at Sabor De Cuba, located at 9 East Patrick Street in downtown Frederick. Let me first digress by saying I don’t have much experience with Cuban cuisine, so is Sabor authentic? I really can’t tell you that. Is is good? The answer to that is a qualified yes. Like any restaurant it had its pluses and minuses. The restaurant is tastefully decorated in muted beige, white and brown tones and projects a casual atmosphere. When I was there the noise level was on the low average side. On the walls hang photographs of the classic 50′s cars that Cuba is known for. There is a small bar in the center. My one complaint? You can probably guess if you are a regular reader: the TV above the bar which was on. A pet peeve of mine. In a sports bar? Sure. But in a restaurant, not appropriate.
The service was attentive and timely. As we were seated the waiter noticed a crumb or two on the table that we had not seen. He immediately apologized and corrected the mistake. We started off with a mojito. Sabor had an interesting twist; the mint was pulverized into small flecks in the cocktail. However, I am sorry to say that I was disappointed in the mojito. I found it to be way too sweet, which overpowered the lime and completely obscured any mint flavor. At $8 a pop I’d give it a pass. Hope springs eternal so I would be willing to give the Cuba Libre a try. Alas my sobriety was required so I limited myself to one cocktail. While we are on drinks I was disappointed by the wine selection which was listed on the menu as simply Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Grigio etc. That is usually a warning sign to me and a source of great frustration. Why more smaller restaurants don’t just list a few specific wines is beyond me.
On to the food. Honestly I believe we made a mistake. No one with me was extremely hungry and we did not order any appetizers. I have since heard from several people that the empanadas are one of their best items on the menu. We went straight to the entrees. The first thing that struck me when the food came was how monochromatic it was: everything on all three plates were shades of brown, with some white and black thrown in. But, as they say, the proof is in the eating. The Ropa Vieja (pulled flank steak) was good. The conji (cuban rice) and plantains were flavorful. The Pollo al la Plancha was excellent and by far the best out of everything I sampled. The dish consisted of a breast of chicken, pounded flat and marinated in citrus. The citrus flavors really came through. The pollo was accompanied with some white rice and black beans which were underwhelming. The plantains were also pounded flat and fried, but I found them to be rather tough and chewy. The final dish sampled was the picadillo (cuban chili), which was also good, but very mildly spiced.
VERDICT: The food was good and different. The prices were average. Not a bargain but not what I’d consider expensive either. I am intrigued by this cuisine and there is also plenty more I’d be happy to sample on a return visit.. How does it stack up to the other Cuban restaurant in town? Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Check out Jan’s comments. They are very helpful. As I mentioned I really have no baseline to determine the authenticity of their cuisine. All I can say is what I like.
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?
Some recent odds and ends of note:
An article in the Baltimore Sun about the rise in Maryland’s Farm breweries. In passing it notes that Frederick County has five “in the works.” I am aware of two. Anyone know of the others?
In Sunday’s Washington Post magazine there was a review of Family Meal by lead critic Toms Sietsema. The review was very favorable, but he gave them 2/4 stars. He raved about the fried chicken and the miniature chicken pot pie appetizer. Review can be found HERE.
On a more national note, but one that could have local implications, a Federal Judge found that Kentucky’s law keeping wine and liquor sales out of grocery stores in unconstitutional. Article HERE
Lastly it is apparently National Rum Month. How in the world I could let it get halfway through the month without realizing it? Here is post from 2009 detailing one of my favorite rum cocktails.
In today’s Washington Post there was a review of Firestone’s Market on Market. The reviewer generally liked their sandwiches and the pastrami in particular. Until I read the article I had no idea Market on Market had added sandwiches now. In the past I have gone there for their gourmet and unique foodstuffs. I have found it’s a great place to get those little gifts.
You can read the full review here.
Filed under Food, Reading
As you can probably guess I have a large collection of books on food and drinking and cookbooks in particular. In fact we had some custom built-ins added to our kitchen to accommodate our ever-expanding pile of books. Of course we have outgrown that and the collection spills into the pantry and onto other shelves throughout stately Fred Manor. So I have slowed my cook book acquisition of late. After all how many recipes do you need for gazpacho? What I tend to do now is try to get a book I’m interested in through the library, review it, cook some recipes and only add it to my collection if I like it or feel that it fills a hole. A few months back I heard an interview on the Splendid Table with Roberto Santibañez, author of the book Truly Mexican: Essential Recipes and Techniques for Authentic Mexican Cooking. I was intrigued by his discussion of pipians (traditional Mexican seed sauces) and decided to track down his book. Two months later through FCPL’s inter-library loan program (thanks St Mary’s County Public Library System!) I had a copy in my hands. I was so blown away that after getting about halfway through the book I went upstairs and ordered a copy. Now this is not a book chock full of recipes for entrees, although it has several dozen of them. Rather it is an in-depth instruction manual on traditional mexican cuisine’s sauces: salsas, guacamoles, adobos, moles and pipianes. It feels more like a cooking class that teaches you the fundamentals which, once mastered, you can apply to a whole manner of dishes. Perfect for the more improvisational, instinctive cook I would love to become.
VERDICT: Worth making space on your kitchen shelf for. Get it!
Filed under Food, Reading
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 .
Wherein I break my own rule and review a chain restaurant. I know this does not really fit my criteria of a chain: there is one Wine Kitchen in Leesburg and they opened one in Frederick last month. If you have been paying attention to my twitter feed you would know this review was coming. First impressions were very good: the space is tastefully decorated in what I’d call semi-modern style with lots of wood and metal. Plenty of tables overlook Carroll Creek and in the other direction the open kitchen. There also was a private room which looked like it could easily seat twenty or so. When I was there is was still under construction.
The food was very good. I started with the butternut squash soup which turned out to be the highlight of my meal. Rich creamy soup with fried goat cheese balls and a drizzle of olive oil. I came close to licking the bowl on that one. I also sampled the sheep’s milk agnilotti, the heritage pork belly and the Border Springs Farm lamb flatbread. All three of which were delicious. I cannot stand overcooked pasta and I am happy to report that the agnilotti was cooked perfectly. The pork belly had a nicely crisped exterior and a juicy inside. The menu is not huge, but there is plenty to choose from.
Of course, like the name implies this place is about wine. The best way to enjoy this is get one of their flights. These are groupings of three wines, thematically tied together. They come in high quality glassware and each flight was accompanied by a little set of cards explaining the three different wines. I ordered the Italian Renaissance, which was the only flight that had both white and red wine. I had the white (Fuso Verdicchio) with the soup, which made for a terrific pairing. The other two were reds. The only down note was that I felt like the last wine of the flight, the Marabino Noto Nero D’Avola, was a little old and flat tasting. I always have a little bit of a concern about freshness in places that have a lot of wine by the glass available on the menu, yet just keep the partially full bottles out on the counter with the corks stuffed in them. On the plus side there are lots of interesting flights to try: Pinot Evil and a flight of three bubblies caught my eye.
The service was good and the lunch with appetizer, entrée and a flight of wine each came to about $40 each including tip. All of us agreed that it is well worth a return trip. On the way out we noticed a nice set of leather sofa surrounding a fireplace. That would be the spot to while away some time while sampling their wines!!
Il Porto reminds me of a good offensive lineman: just solidly doing their job over and over without much flash or fanfare. I’ve eaten at Il Porto twice in recent months and both times came away with the same attitude: good solid Italian-American comfort food. From the gnocchi, to the baked ziti, to the eggplant parmesan to the salmon picatta everything I have eaten or sampled there was good. Not sublime, not terrible, but solidly good. There is nothing fancy about their food; no avant garde foams or weird dishes, but what they do serve comes out just the way you expect Italian-American food to be. I was also very surprised how reasonable their prices were. Most entrees were in the $9-13 range. The other thing that really stood out was the service. It was impeccable both times we were there. The wine list is decent. They have a house red (which I did not try) and several wines by the glass. The only quibble I have is that they didn’t have many reds by the glass available. They did have a prosecco by the glass which was a pleasant find.
I also really like the ambiance of the restaurant. It struck me as one of those neighborhood places you find in Boston or New York. I think it’s due to the fact that when you look out the front windows all you see are trees and residences and no other commercial property. It really makes it feel like a cozy neighborhood joint, which is exactly what it is!
Il Porto: 200 South Market Street, Frederick, MD 21701-6527 Phone: (301) 620-7480
Drank the 2006 Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Les Princes Abbes with Easter dinner on Sunday. A good solid wine but didn’t blow me away, especially at $20 a bottle. Had a typical petrol nose with flavors of pineapple and kiwi. Very, very dry finish. I would rate it a solid 85. When I took the first sip after pouring I was really not impressed. As the meal wore one I came to enjoy it more and more. It really enforced what I’ve come to realize with Rieslings: they are truly food wines, especially the dry ones. What I mean by that is often when you just drink them by themselves they don’t come across as all that good. They don’t reach their full potential until you drink them with your meal. The food really seems to play off the flavors and harmonize some of the weirder notes that can be off-putting when they are on their own. What do you think?
For me a little oak goes a long way. I’m especially sensitive to the amount of oak in white wines as all too often the oak seems to overpower the flavors. Regular readers will know I have a strong dislike of the big, buttery, oaky California-style Chardonnay. As far as I am concerned if I wanted that much oak I’d just chew on a stick. So when I’m choosing a white I usually tend to gravitate towards to unoaked bottlings. If your palate is like mine I’d like to recommend the 2009 Tangent Paragon Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. From the Edna Valley in California this wine looks away from the new and towards the old world. This is the second vintage of theirs that I have tried and I think this one is better than the ’08. Lots of tangerine and lemon flavors, all wrapped inside nice flinty acidity. Delicious and right what I am looking for in a white.
I paid $14.99 for this from the Frederick Wine House. I rate it a solid 90.
Just wanted to make quick post to let everyone know how I had a wine Sunday evening that we both loved. It was the 2009 Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling from the Columbia Valley in Washington State. I would call this wine off-dry as it had some sweet notes but definitely not too much. It looked as pale as water in the glass but the explosion of fruit was awesome with tons of peaches and apricots. The finish lingered on and on. A delicious wine and a really great value. I really enjoyed just sipping it on its own. We scored it an 89-90.
They make a lot of this so you should be able to buy this almost everywhere for about $10. Just make sure its the 2009. Also don’t confuse it their other Reislings: Dry Riesling and Harvest Select Riesling which I haven’t tasted.
Quick post: Gary V whose Wine Library TV widget has graced my pages for years did a review of a prosecco with a screw top (!?!). He says that more and more bubblies are considering screw tops. Has anybody seen any? To see the review go down to the WLTV link on the bottom right of the blog and go to episode 938.
To all those who inquired thanks! I am fine. Sorry for the light blogging. I’ve done a bunch of fun food and wine related things this Summer and Fall but just been too busy to write about them. Life just keeps getting in the way. I fully intend to let you guys know about some of them.
A few days ago Mrs. F and I had a rare childless evening. So we decided to try someplace new. Any place with wine bar in the title gets our vote so off we went to the Shab Row Bistro and Wine Bar on East Street in Frederick. This newer restaurant was once the tasting room for Frederick Cellars, but they split the building with Frederick Cellars having its facilities completely on one side and the new restaurant on the other.
The owners have made some changes and the eating area is stylishly decorated with muted earth tones, pictures by local artists and a zinc bar. They also have a four table outdoor dining area overlooking East street, but on the day we went it was just too darn hot to sit there. They are serving a limited menu right now, but their website indicates that they plan to expand it in the fall. We had a cheese plate, the crostini, a caprese salad special and the vegetable flatbread. Plenty of food for two moderately hungry people. The food was quite good. They have a nice selection of cheeses to choose from and the three spreads that came with the crostini were excellent. The flatbread was nice and I really appreciated that the vegetable topping had not been cooked into mush and was still crispy and flavorful. The service was also very attentive. They had about 40 wines by the glass and Mrs. F and I had fun picking and sampling a variety.
While I thought the food prices were a little on the expensive side the wine prices were excellent. Everything they had by the glass was available in 2 or 6 ounce pours and the wines by the bottle were really a good value. Most restaurants sell wine by the bottle for double or even triple retail. Shab Row’s prices were significantly less than that. Furthermore they have a wine store in the back and they will pour you anything there for a $9 corkage fee. I didn’t explore the wine store as we were having too much fun with the wines by the glass. Their website also lists their happy hour times which look worthwhile.
Bottom line: If you think of this as an excellent place to drink some wine with some decent finger food on the side you won’t be disappointed.
Had the best rose I’ve had all season, but I’m not going to post it here until I go buy a few more bottles. I learned my lesson after the Tapena incident.
Regular readers know what a fan I am of good rose wines. They are the duct tape of the wine world: with their unmatched versatility you can use them in all sorts of situations: sipping on the patio, paired with barbeque or just about any summer fare, as base for sangria, to name a few. In our house they are the quintessential summer wines. So I’d like to share with you a wonderful rose we had the other night: 2008 Tapena Vino de la Tierra de Castilla. I got this from the Frederick Wine House for around $10. It was a really bright ruby red color. It had vibrant flavors of strawberry and cherry kirsch with a hint of tropical fruit. Medium acidity. Served refrigerator cold it was great. Both of us felt it was a fun rose and a decent value. I gave it a solid 88. I’m also going back to get a few more bottles.
UPDATE: went back to get a few more bottles and they were sold out. Note to self: must buy the bottles BEFORE I blog about it. The owner said he thought they would get some more in.
The youngest Fredling is very musical. He loves to sing. The other night we had all been listening to REM. He went around and around the house belting out “It’s the end of the world as we know it.” Unfortunately that’s all he knew of the song so that’s all we got. A Cava I recently tried: Dibon Brut Reserve (NV) was a lot like that. It wasn’t bad, just pretty much a one note wonder. In this case it was apples. I kept hoping for at least an “and I feel fine” part either in the song or the wine, but neither ever materialized. It also had very coarse, but plentiful bubbles . As I said not bad, but there are others I like more for around the same price. I picked it up at Frederick Wine House for $10.99. It had a tag around the neck saying the Wine Enthusiast gave it 88 points but I would go 3-4 points lower. It would be really nice if you were going to use it as a base for some sparkling punch.
I have reviewed this place before here and I really liked it. I continue to visit and last week had a wonderful lunch outside enjoying the unseasonable weather. They have redone their menu and added some new options. For once I passed on the falafel and had a wonderful sandwich: the Genoa I think it was called. A big pile of oven roasted vegetables, with a creamy feta spread on herbed focaccia. Really marvellous. But now every entree comes with…. french fries. Yes, french fries! Nothing says mediterranean to me like french fries. And you pretty much have to get them. They can bring you the sandwich without them, but if you want anything else you have to pay for it. Not even an option to have a small salad or anything. Really irritated me.
Saturday was putting up the Christmas tree day. Nothing but a real tree will do in the Fred household, so after a wonderful time of cutting down the tree in the falling snow and bringing it back home I had to deal with the dreaded task of sorting through the lights. After about fifteen minutes I had one full string and two halves of two other strings operational with no clue how to fix them and the Christmas spirit was draining out of me like a ruptured radiator. Luckily Mrs. F could see the gathering storm clouds on the horizon and suggested some bottled cheer for the rest of the tree trimming. A splendid idea that immediately boosted my morale. The wine we reached for was Willm Cuvée Leon IX Crémant d’Alsace. A non-vintage bubbly from the Alsace region of France. According to Willm’s website (now this may be inaccurate since it is all in French) this product is made up of a blend of 67% Pinot Blanc, 18% each of Chardonnay and Riesling, and 12% Pinot Noir. Amazing huh? You’re getting a 115% wine for the money! Anyway as a rule all Cremant d’Alsaces must be made from one or more of the following grapes: Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay or Riesling so you know its some combination of those.
On to the wine itself. I really try not to be a sucker for marketing, but the first thing that struck me was how beautiful the bottle and labelling were. As you can see from the picture it’s a truly elegant package with an embossed bottle and clean, classy label. I felt better just looking at it. Luckily the bottle was just the beginning and not the high point as is the case with other packaging experiences. Lighter than most Champagnes, but a little more complex than most proseccos this wine was a delight. Great nose of apple, pear and hints of yeast/bread. On the mouth it was slightly more than light-bodied, with gobs of green apple flavor, hints of pear and some lime/lemon acidity on the finish. A very good bubbly.
I rated it a solid 89 but in looking at my rating you have to factor in that I was drinking it during a terrrific afternoon with the Christmas music and roaring fire and the whole family trimming the tree. I’ll certainly revisit this wine again as it strikes me as a strong value. If my assessment differs I’ll let you know. Purchased for $13.99 at Frederick Wine House.