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Category Archives: Pinot Noir

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.


*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.

Happy Birthday, Baby

We delayed Sunday by one day this week to accommodate Cara’s birthday.  Hence, why we’re a day late posting.  Or two.  No, just one.

AND … my family is visiting from Canada, so it was quite a thing.  Joseph, Cara’s dad, made dinner, which was amazing.  It being such a long weekend, however, (Rene’s birthday was Friday, which we were still recuperating from on Sunday, which led right into Monday, and well into the night) we didn’t really get into the wine that much.  Also, there were babies everywhere, which made it difficult to actually sit and enjoy anything in a wine glass.

Why is it that babies wait for fun events to have total meltdowns?  Must be an evolutionary trick.

Anyway, with ten adults and two babies, it was a full house, which, after all, is the meaning of Christmas.

Er …

On the Menu: Spinach Salad, Potato Salad, Beef Roulade, Pork Roulade, Apple Crumble Pie Crisp Cake, Lemon Meringue Pie

Joseph used to own and operate his own fine dining restaurant in Kelowna, British Columbia, so when he offers to cook, we feign resistance and then quickly get out of his way.  In case you are unfamiliar with a roulade, it is typically a cut of meat rolled around some kind of filling, like vegetables, cheese, other meats … awesomeness …

It was one of those dinners that people just sort of ate leisurely, without thinking too much about it, and just enjoyed it.  (I spent most of the dinner with Caia upstairs, since she was exhausted and kept having small-scale nuclear events with the crying and the screaming and the rending of clothes.)

The Apple Pie Crispy Crumble Cake Dish is this deep dish apple pie thing that Joseph made that makes you think of all things good and home.

Basically, the perfect birthday dinner.

While many of us drank various libations that night, we did try to remember that we had bought some wine and it was to be tried.

Wine: Diavolo, Reserva de la Vina, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile, 2009, $44 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

That’s right: forty-four pesos.  That’s $3.34 USD.  For a bottle of wine.  You can’t buy a glass of wine for that!  So I know you are wondering how such an abomination got a two-bottle rating from us.  I’ll tell you … it wasn’t easy.  It wrested it from us like so many firearms from so many cold, dead fingers.

Okay, it’s a very light wine.  Very simple.  There really isn’t anything to it.  Some light berry flavours.  Slight mustiness and earthiness.  But really, not much of a powerhouse.

But incredibly drinkable!  If you were to try this wine, without knowing that it costs forty-four pesos, you would think this was a marginally forgettable, but not at all unpleasant wine.  Compared with some of the bags of ox urine that we’ve paid much, much more for in the past, this is a wine that you could easily buy, drink, and not worry about.

And believe me – the snob in me wanted to trash this wine.  I was laughing about it the entire weekend after I bought it.  “This is going to be so terrible,” I thought.  “But I simply must try a forty-four peso bottle of wine.  Who do they think they are?”  The snob in me wanted to give this, at most, one bottle.  The drunkard in me, however, wanted to give it three bottles, since it isn’t every day that you find a bottle of alcohol that can hurt your liver without hurting your wallet.

In the end, we settled on two.

Wine: Hahn Winery, Pinot Noir, Monterrey, California, USA, 2010, $18.95 CAD
Rating: Two Bottle

This wine came all the way from Canada.  Well, California, but my parents brought it down with them from Canada.  It was on a plane, is my point.  My friend, Vanessa, a fellow wine-lover, suggested it as an import we probably wouldn’t be able to find down here.  Which is true.

This was a very interesting pinto noir, I thought.  Peppery on the nose, it also had subtle hints of cherries, strawberry jam, and watermelon.  Allowing it to breathe really brought these aromas and flavours out.

My only issue with this wine was the feeling that if I had left it alone for a couple of years, it would have been truly remarkable.  Alas, it is a problem living in the tropics, as keeping wines from going off due to heat and humidity is basically a nightmare.  So you’ll all have to do it for me.  If I could, I’d buy a case of this stuff and just wait.  Try one each year.

Oh well.

As it was, it was a very enjoyable wine.

Part of my family leaves tomorrow, and that is sad.  It’s been great having them around, and watching Caia get to know her little cousin, Edie.  Turns out, they both like Play-Doh.  Who knew?

We’ll re-wish Rene and Cara very happy birthdays.

Next week will be a smaller affair.  Only eight adults and one baby.

Until then,


Occupy Our Dreams

When we started this blog a little less than a year ago, was meant to be a catalogue of the wines we’ve tried and the truth found at the bottom of every bottle.  Sometimes that truth is awesome, sometimes it’s crap.  But it’s always truth.  (Or, at least, as close as we can get to finding it by drinking wine.)

Many weeks we discuss things that make us pause for a moment in our cups and think.  Living down here in the Caribbean, (and in Mexico, at that,) it can be difficult to maintain a connection with the world outside our resort-town fortress.  There are times when, I swear to God, I relate more to the sentiment behind “let them eat cake.”

We have tried, in our ways, to stay in touch with the world.  This is a tricky balance since we are all in sales.  The way that CNN and the like portray the world is negative, and too much negativity can keep you from being the person you need to be to connect with the people you would have as your clients.

But, we try.  And we try to give back.  This entire month I have dedicated my personal blog (and face) to Movember.  Our family also owns and operates a biodiesel company here in Playa del Carmen, adding to the burgeoning Green movement.  We’ve donated time and money to the Humane Society.  We have rescued two street dogs.

And yet, the World turns, and week after week, we document our decadent lifestyle, making our friends and families up north jealous.

Don’t get me wrong: we feel no guilt whatsoever for our lives.  We do not feel the need to justify the way we live.  We live (mostly) within our means and we give what we can (mostly).  It’s just that this week’s wine brought about discussions of a realer nature.

This whole Occupy thing has been going on for some time now.  I don’t know if you’ve heard anything about this; it’s having a hard time getting any news coverage.  But, I don’t want to take away from the amazing job that Megan did with the Asian Chicken she prepared, so let’s talk about that.

On The Menu: Asian Chicken with White Rice, Crunchy Asian ‘Slaw, Christmas Chocolate Biscuits with a Bailey’s Irish Cream Glaze

This was a really fantastic dinner and a great way to ramp up to the Holiday Season (which officially kicks off this Thursday at our friends’ annual Thanksgiving dinner.  Each year, Dani and Josh invite as many people as they can fit into their house for Thanksgiving).

The chicken practically fell off the bone and the sauce had a gamey-ness to it that was perfectly balanced by the coleslaw.  It’s a recipe that Megan’s dad came up with.

If you want to try it, and I highly recommend that you do, here’s the recipe.

Preheat oven to 170° Celsius.

Place chicken thighs, legs, or wings in bottom of pan.

Add 1 cup – 1 ½ cups of soy and Teriyaki sauces, ¼ cup of honey, and a couple tablespoons of brown sugar.

½ cup Hoisin Sauce.  (When in Canada (or places where you can find such things), Megan’s dad used to add Kekap, which is a type of Indonesian ketchup.)

Grate or mince 5 cloves of garlic and a chunk of ginger.  (Megan describes it as “about the size of my Blackberry,” which is how the top chefs in the world are measuring things these days, we’re told.)

1 tablespoon of sesame oil.

Place tray in oven until the meat falls off the bone.

Wine: Trapiche, Roble, Pinot Noir, Mendoza, Argentina, 2010, $249 MXN

Rating: Two Bottles

Leave it to the Argentines to make a Pinot Noir that goes well with Asian Chicken.  The lightness of the pinot would have been blown out by a lighter meal, but the richness of the sauce allowed the wine to cut through, the tannins complimenting the sweetness of the chicken and the coleslaw.

Not a complicated wine, but who says red wine has to be complicated?  Peppery and light with simple currant and chocolate flavours.  The tannins kind of kick you in the back of the throat, but it’s forgivable if you pair it with a gamier dish like we did.

When we sipped it with the Chocolate Biscuits the subtler chocolate undertones really came to the forefront.

This is a wine that you could easily bring to a party and not mind sharing.  It’s not so good that you’d be jealous of sharing it, but it’s also good enough for friends to appreciate your selection.

And it was over biscuits that Rene brought up Vicky’s “Thought of the Week.”  I thought it tied in well to the earlier discussions we’d had about Occupy.  Here it is.

We, as humans, seek out three basic things: Food, Shelter, and Sex.  After securing any of these, we commonly desire one activity: sleep.  Therefore, everything we do has, as an end result, sleep.  And we sleep perchance to dream.  So … is it possible that all that we seek, instinctually, is the opportunity to dream?  That this waking life is the illusion and it is only in sleep that we find our true realities?  That dreaming is where we are truly meant to be?

So, how does this tie into Occupy, you ask?  Well, Occupy is trying to shine a light on the current makeup of our society, of the inequality of how our society is built.  Namely, that a very small minority holds the majority of wealth in our world. In essence, Occupy is trying to get us all to “wake up” to the way things really are.  George Carlin said it best when he explained why it’s called the American Dream:  “Because you need to be asleep to believe it.”

What I find fascinating about this idea of sleeping life versus waking life is that, for most of us, our most common pursuits require more and more waking life to accomplish.  What we believe to be most important, wealth and it’s attainment, requires real work.  Hours and hours of waking work.  Nobody got rich by sleeping.  As my grandfather was fond of saying: “There will be plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead.”  But what if Vicky’s thought is right?  What if this waking life is keeping us from our real lives?  If she’s right, then everything that most of us do, every day of our lives, actually pushes us further and further away from our intended state.

Makes you drink, doesn’t it?


Frustrations, Set-backs, and Mind Your Own Business

This week was going to be a very fun and relaxing TSB.  Like so many of our Sunday sojourns into oenophilia, it didn’t quite work out that way.

Cara, baby Caia Skye, and I went on an overnight to Tulum, staying at a lovely (if basic) beachfront resort.  We were going to head back in the late afternoon, pick up some curry from Curry Omm, take it home, and enjoy a quiet night with no disasters and no responsibilities.

One of three things went wrong with that plan before it could even really be hatched.  The first thing that went wrong is that I got a very unexpected visit from my uncle Uti, from the Urethral Mountains.  He has never visited me before, spending most of his time visiting my female friends and relatives.  Thankfully, my good friend Cipro was still at my house, so I took him along with me to Tulum.  Also, it really burned when I peed.

Second, on our way back from Tulum, we were shocked to discover that Curry Omm is not open on Sundays.  Shocked, mostly, since we hadn’t bothered to call earlier to find out whether they were open Sundays in the first place.

Thirdly, Megan had an appointment with a photography client that went horribly awry, pushing back our dinner plans from the usual time of (between) six o’clock (and eight o’clock) sharp.

So, hero that I am, I rushed to the store, bought some New York steaks, some potatoes, and some body wash.

Since I was on antibiotics, I could not partake in the wine this week, and a good thing too, since it sucked from all accounts.  Sadly, this was the first time Rene had gotten involved in the festivities.  He picked out this week’s selection.  Hopefully, it doesn’t sour him so badly on the experience that he shuts down completely.  We’ve worked hard to get him to this point, and I’m afraid that, with a set-back like this, we might lose him forever.  (Then again, that’s why God invented scotch.  For the purposes of this post, God is Scottish.)

Wine: Blackstone, Winemaker’s Select, Pinot Noir, California, 2009, $169.95 MXN
Rating: A Half-Bottle

One half of a bottle, and that’s only because it came in a bottle.  Kudos for getting it in there!  Seriously, why bother making a wine, printing labels, and sending it out into the world if it’s just going to taste like that?  Not to be mean, but it really wasn’t very good.  Sorry for the harsh language and the biting prose, but that’s just how I feel.

Maybe it was the Ciprofloxaxin talking, or maybe it was that my taste buds were all revved up for some authentic curry, but my man-parts hurt a lot this week.  (As it turns out, I had incorrectly self-diagnosed myself as having a urinary tract infection, and what I actually have is something even more related to man-parts than I had previously suspected, ORRRR even hoped for!  More on that next week!  With photos!  And a video play-by-play of my visit to the doctor’s office!)

Whatever the reason, I really hated this wine.  All of it that briefly touched my tongue before I spit it out on account of the heavy medication I was on.  Megan confirmed my suspicions, and the un-drunk glasses of the stuff justified my vitriol.

The steaks were good, so let’s talk about them.

On the menu: New York Steaks, Baked Potatoes, Sides of Disappointment and Discomfort.

I mentioned the discomfort, and the disappointment, but not the steaks, and they really did turn out nicely.  I tried something that I’ve always wanted to try, and I highly recommend you try it too at your earliest convenience.

Step One: Bring the steaks up to room temperature.  This helps relax the meat, and makes them more receptive to step four.

Step Two: Rub the steaks with sea salt and cracked pepper.  Let sit for fifteen minutes or so.

Step Three: While steaks are sitting, melt 100 grams of unsalted butter.  Let it cool down while the steaks finish sitting.

Not A Step, But A Good Tip: Make sure that the steaks know that they are not being punished.  They are merely sitting so that they have a chance to relax into their new salty, peppery clothes.  Talk to the steaks.  Let them know how happy you are to meet them, and tell them a little about yourself.  This will help build rapport with the steaks, which will pay dividends later when it’s time to close the sale!

Step Four: Place the steaks in a large freezer bag and pour the now cool, but still liquid butter over top of them.  If the butter has become a little clumpy by this time, whisk it a little bit with a fork.  Or with a whisk.   Let the steaks, covered in salt, pepper, and butter, sit for about an hour, or an hour-and-a-half; whenever Megan gets back from the meeting with her clients.

When you are grilling the steaks, you will want to have a spray bottle of water on stand-by, or a bottle of water, to put out the flames that will shoot up when you put the steaks on the hot grill.  If you don’t, the flames will lick your steaks until they are burnt and poopy.  Poopy is a technical, culinary term.  Ask anyone.  No, you’re  stupid!

Okay … so, next week will be better.  Next week we will bring you fun, excitement, and photos of me in humiliating situations.

Until then,


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