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Category Archives: Cabernet Sauvignon

The young, upstart crow.

Anchors Away!

Last week, we went on a cruise.

I like the idea of a cruise.  The open ocean, several days at sea, a new port every morning.  What adventures lie ahead?

If you follow me on Twitter then you know a little bit about how our cruise started.  I won’t go into details here, as this is (ostensibly) a blog about wine and food.  I will say, however, that I do not like to see my fiancée cry, and she cried far too often on this trip for my liking.  Which is none.  I just mentioned that.  Why aren’t you listening?

I did sample some nice wines, however, so all was not lost.

Wine: Clos de los Siete by Michel Rolland, Red Blend, Mendoza, Argentina, 2009, $19 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

We got this wine at a shop on Devonshire Street, in Boston.  It’s right next to the Elephant & Castle restaurant in the Club Quarters Hotel, if you are nearby and want to find it.  I suggest that you do.  They’re lovely folks.

Caramel and toffee overtones are met with soft tannins that give this wine a buttery impression.  Deep, black cherry colours backup the dark red fruit flavours that come singing through from the first sip.

Wine: Underwood Cellars, Pinot Noir, Oregon, USA, 2010, $17 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

We also grabbed a bottle from Oregon, since U.S. wines are hard to find in Mexico, unless they are from California, and then, usually only if they are from Napa.

Very fruity, mostly berries, especially gooseberries, apples.  Very light.  Perfect for a hot summer night or an afternoon at sea.  Hey!  Look at that!  That’s what we were doingwhile we were drinking it!

Wine: Murphy Goode, Merlot, California, 2010, $29 USD
Rating: One Bottle

Dry tannins gave a very dry finish.  Coppery.  A little flat.  Fruity bouquet and a deep ruby colour, but a bit disappointing.

I ordered this wine at our first evening dining on the ship.  We had an amazing waiter.  His name is Charlie.  He is from the Philippines.  He made Caia a mouse out of a cloth napkin.  This made her giggle to the delight of all within earshot.

Wine: Peter Lehman, Shiraz, Australia, 2008, $29 USD
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles

Charlie also joined some of the other waiters to dance for our pleasure.  Not just our pleasure.  Other people watched, too.  My mom got up and danced with him.

Soft and plump (the wine), russet colouring, really nice up-front, but a little sharp on the back-end.  One of those wines that you think is going to be great when you first sip it, but it never really fulfills it’s promise.

Wine: Sledgehammer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, California, USA, 2008, $17 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

Another bottle from our friends at the wine store on Devonshire which we didn’t think to write down it’s name or snap a picture of the storefront.  Honestly, we had two cameras, and Caia was with my mom.  We could have at least grabbed a business card.  I’ll try Googling it.*

Bought mostly for the label (and because it’s called Sledgehammer), this wine was a great find.  Ripe figs and dates, fragrant bouquet, and very easy to drink, we were very happy with this purchase.

I have to say, there is something so freaking amazing about sitting on the balcony of your stateroom, watching the setting sun over the hills of Portland, Maine, with a glass of wine in your hand.

At one point, I may or may not have been standing on the balcony, watching the setting sun, with a glass of red wine in my hand, a cigarette in the other, and no clothes on.  That may or may not have happened.

Can’t be sure.

There is no proof.

Wine: Chianti, Bella Sera, Tuscany, Italy, 2010, $29 USD
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles

Light and delicate on the nose.  Pleasant, but a little weak for my liking.  One of those wines that you enjoy drinking, but cannot pick out of a line-up.  You know, one of those wine line-ups like they have on all the gritty cop shows.

Victim: “Number three.”

Detective: “Are you sure?”

Victim: “Not really, no.  It was a little flat and didn’t have a lot of mouthfeel, so I can’t really be sure.”

Detective: “Okay.  Can you think of anything else?”

Victim: “It was red?”

Wine: Louis Martini, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, USA, 2009, $40 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

Charlie also made sure to get me any info I needed for each wine.  If it wasn’t listed on the menu, he would go and ask what year it was, that kind of thing, and this is during a full dinner rush.  He really was tops.

Round and fruity, the Louis Martini was one my favourites on the ship.  Soft tannins left a velvety mouthfeel.  I had Chateaubriand that night.  They were wonderful playmates.

Wine: Hess Select, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California, USA, 2009, $35 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

And then I followed it up with another California red.  The Hess, unlike the Louis Martini, was dry.  Dry, but without being a dick about it.  Cherry flavours gave you the sweetness you enjoyed, while hints of dark chocolate and roasted coffee gave you the bitterness you desired for balance.

Wine: Côtes du Rhone, Michel Picard, Rhone, France, 2010, $33 USD
Rating: One Bottle

Our last night on the ship and it started off poorly.  Super dry and sharp.  Biting like grapefruit juice after you brush your teeth.  Not at all awesome, but if you like really dry reds, this might be the wine for you.

Wine: Mirassou, Pinot Noir, California, USA, 2010, $28 USD
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles

Soft berry flavours were a welcome relief from Bittertown as the realisation that the cruise was coming to an end was sinking in.  The last dance number the wait-staff performed was awesome, and Caia squealed with glee watching them dance on tables and seeing the lights flicker and flash in sync with the music.

That was nice.

The pinot was like an old friend, patting your hand as you wistfully wipe a tear from you eye, hoping that no one noticed.  Time with family is so precious, and as we get older, so fleeting.  We spend so much time planning for the memories we want to make someday, instead of getting around to making them.

As Paulo Coelho once wrote, ““Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”

In other words, follow your heart if you don’t want to be surrounded by trash.

Cheers!

*The store is called Boston Wine Exchange.  Check out their web site.  Don’t drop our name, though, since we didn’t tell them who we are and they might think that we were covert operatives buying reasonably priced wine to poison wino diplomats.

Murphy’s Law (As It Concerns Wine)

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You know when you take your car to the mechanic because it’s been making a weird sound for infinity?  Like, the minute you bought the car, years ago, it started making this indescribable, yet unmissable noise that gave you a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and night terrors?

The noise happens every time you turn the car on, but especially when you make left turns.  Then, when you take it to the mechanic, it purrs like a kitten with noticeably increased performance in left corners.

“Don’t know what you’re hearing.  This baby’s cherry,” says the mechanic, smirking at you because you’re a man who has to ask another man what’s wrong with his car.  “Could be your halogen level’s a little low.  Then again, could just be your Johnson Rod’s a bit too small.”

Ha-ha, Mr. Mechanic.  Very funny.

(Where’s the Johnson Rod again?)

This holds true for guests and wine.  Invite guests over to sample wine with you, especially wines that you have purchased because you heard they were good, or you read somewhere that Bonardo was a lot like Malbec and was really good with hamburgers, and you’ll experience something not unlike the mechanic chuckling at your stupidness.

Oh, the fun you’ll have, trying to explain to your guests that you are not some dick who likes to have friends over to see the faces they make when you serve them vinegar in a stemmed glass.  “This wine isn’t very good,” you’ll say, nonchalantly, the sweat trickling from your forehead.  “I swear I read a good review about this in Awesome Wines Monthly.  This is so weird!”

The smirk you get from them is a lot like the smirk the mechanic gives you – grown man reviewing wine without any idea what he’s talking about, buying wines because the labels are pretty … and where’s his ascot?  Shouldn’t somebody this foppish be wearing an ascot and discussing Bone China?

No sooner had our guests left …

Wine: Woodhaven, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, USA, 2008, $234 MXN
Rating: Two-and-half-bottles

Plums, figs, and cherries play together nicely in the field that is this wine.  Wonderful mouthfeel – silky, soft, like flower petals.  (You all keep flower petals in your mouths, right?  Cool.)

A little tangy on a second glass, but pair it with steak (we did) and it compliments perfectly.  Actually, just a glass of this on its own feels like eating a steak.  Meaty with a hint of bitterness.

There is a sweetness to this wine that threatens to make it too rich at first, but it finishes tart, evening it out.

Plus, the label is pretty like nice things.

Go ahead: judge me.  I am impervious to your snide-isms.

On the Menu: Potato Salad, Sautéed Spinach and Zucchini, Filet Mignon, Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies

This week’s menu was more about relaxing and enjoying company than trying to impress anyone.  Rene marinated the steaks in beer and awesome for the day while Megan made cookies and potato salad.

The cookies that Megan made were little round temptresses, coaxing one to break one’s diet.

I caved.

Twice.

We drank some beer and wine while we grilled the meat, ate leisurely, and retired to the fumatorium for an after dinner cigarette.

Yes, I know – smoking is bad.  But sometimes a cigarette après steak is just what the doctor ordered.  Not a medical doctor, but the doctor who lives in my head and who tells me that carbs are better for you than protein and staying up all night means you technically add a day onto your life.

Is he the same doctor that tells me that I should open another bottle of wine when I am the only one drinking it?

No.  That’s the Life Coach in my head.  She’s another story.  Her name is Fran.

Wine: Jacques Charlet, Beaujolais, La-Chapelle-de-Guinchy (S & C), France, 2010, $145 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

Now, I didn’t finish this bottle on my own.  Or at all.  But I wanted to.

Looking through technical terms for describing how a wine smells, I came up with one that I think fits.

Wow.

Very, wow, on the nose.

A jelly mouthfeel, like the cranberries that come in a can.  I know it doesn’t sound that appealing, but in wine-form, it’s amazing.

Cherries, cranberries make for a bitter but fantastic—

Rhubarb!  That’s … I couldn’t put my finger on it on Sunday, but it just came to me!  (Dammit, that was bugging me.)

Rhubarb, cherries, and cranberries.  But like you’d find in a pie; not raw.

All in all, we wished our guests from the last few months could have been around to share these wines with us.  They were a welcome change from the bottles of Meh we’ve been trying lately.

In other news …

We were nominated for an award from our friend Daughter Elle.  We’re lazy and not at all on top of it, but we have to come up with seven blogs that we really like and pay-it-forward, so to speak.

We’re working on it.

More later.  Now worky.

Cheers!

Drat and Double-Drat

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Sometimes, you just can’t pick a winning bottle to save your face. (And we had such high expectations for this week.)  It was Susan’s last Sunday with us; our friend Roy’s, too.  Josephine and Michael, Rene and Cara’s oldest friends, joined us, as well.  We wanted the wines we shared to be special.  We wanted them to elevate our evening to the heavens.  Instead, they left us wallowing in the dirt.

Rene and Megan made dinner.  This Sunday was our Home Owners’ Association general assembly and it was as fun as it sounds.  Since Cara was working, I flew solo.  If you’ve never sat on folding chairs in a circle on a Sunday morning talking about rules and regulations of a shared condo complex, let me tell you … you are missing out!  As far as meetings to establish fair rules of comportment in public access areas go, this one was off the hook!

Oh!  And the crazy lady wanted to make a rule that only residents of the complex could use the pool, meaning that guests could not!  How fun is that??  Her point (and for the record, I was totally on her side) was that people buy nice homes in the Caribbean with the intention of not enjoying the amenities that come with them, i.e. pools, etc., and that common areas are meant for watchin’, and not for sharin’.  Also, she wanted it made a rule that, while people can throw parties inside their own homes, their guestsmay not be outside.  (Fun!)  Also, nobody should be allowed to own pets.  Also, that the maximum number of guests allowed per resident be zero.  (Yay!)  Also, THE HUMMINGBIRDS INSIDE MY HEAD TELL ME THAT CHILDREN ARE THE KEEPERS OF THE MAGIC PAN FLUTES AND IF I WANT TO GET TO CANDY TOWN I HAVE TO OPEN THEIR BELLIES AND TAKE BACK WHAT THEY STOLE FROM ME!!!

Three hours later, I was somehow elected to the board of directors of the condo association despite following up her suggestions with, “Can we vote that we should only buy indestructible pool furniture from now on, and also … how many days do we really need in the calendar?  Can’t we get rid of a few?  Three-hundred-and-sixty-five is an annoying number.”

(Wheeee!!!)

On the Menu: Spinach Salad with Avocado and Blueberries, Sweet Peas with Basil, Beef Bourguignon, Honey Cake with Almonds

What can I say about dinner – it was fantastic.  Bourguignon is Rene’s specialty and Honey Cake is Megan’s awesome.

The two went very well together, too, I must say.  The spicy, tangy bourguignon, followed by the soft, silky honey cake, topped with whipped cream.  (Megan also let me know that there is whiskey in the honey cake.  Oh, honey cake … why you gotta be so good to me?)

They make a pretty good team, for a married couple.

Caia loved the peas, and who can blame her?  Sweet and buttery, they were the colour of Ireland if they were a hue at all.

The wines … were the low-points of the evening.

Wine: Aragus, Red Blend, Spain, 2010, $76 MXN
Rating: One Bottle

Nothing particularly bad about this wine.  Smooth and a little fruity, Josephine remarked that, “It gives your tongue a little velvety hug,” which is adorable and accurate.

On the downside, not a lot of personality and not a little innocuous.  Strawberries and bell peppers come out to play, but when they see the grey skies above, they pack up their toys and go home.

Easy to drink, but overwhelmingly underwhelming.

Wine: Santo Tomás, Tempranillo Cabernet, Baja Clifornia, Mexico, 2010, $127 MXN
Rating: One Bottle

Dark red fruit.

The end.

“No espectacular,” commented Roy.  We agreed.  Not offensive; not exciting.  So-so.  Table wine.  Not loving the tannins.

All descriptions of a wine that no vintner would ever hope to hear.

If you asked me upon trying this wine what I thought, I’d look up for a second, perhaps squint, hold my breath ever-so-slightly, then exhale and shrug.

Then a trumpet would go “Wah, wah …” in the background.

So, not a fantastic finish to Susan’s stay.  Roy, having been with us for only two TSBs must think we enjoy buying mediocre wine.

We know the truth.

We are sad to see Susan go.  She has been a welcome addition to our dinners.  We wish her “safe journey,” and fondly wait for her return.

Until next week,

Cheers!

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