Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Impressions: Bart Park 2005 Merlot

Oh, goodness! Here we are sucking down this bottle thinking we already posted on it but, in fact, we did a post on the 2004, not the 2005!
I don't have a lot to say about this Merlot, and maybe it's that I just learned this word but, I'm going to say it's got the umami goin' on. Actually, why describe it in words when imagery can capture it's essence so much better? (Kudos Chateau Petrogasm for cornering the market on tasting notes through images--sheer genius.) So, I did do a cursory check for a photo of like Xena or Sheena in a freshly tanned cowhide brassiere but, wouldn't you know, I didn't find anything. So, I came up with a slightly different concept...

(Taster A let me use his big-boy camera to shoot this pic)


Three of my Favorite Things

Click to enlarge. Plum Island Lighthouse behind a Purple Martin house.  These structures are designed after the hanging gourds that our forefathers used to attract Purple Martins.  ©2008 SmellsLikeGrape

I’ve had a log day today. My company is on a shutdown so I’m forced to take some time off. This gives me a chance to do three of my favorite things. Photographing lighthouses, photographing birds and drinking great wine while I cull out the bad shots. I’ve been out in the field schlepping gear around all day in the hot sun. Tonight we are working on a bottle of Bartholomew Park Merlot, 2005. Mmmm. That’s good “&^#%!ing Merlot”.

If you’re curious about what I shoot when I’m not shooting fine food and wine, stop by ShootingMyUniverse.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer Riesling Kabinett

Kreuznacher Kronenberg

Grape: Riesling
Growing Region: Nahe
Vintage: 2006
Price: $9.99
Alcohol: 10%
Aromas: Butter, cantaloupe, honeydew
Flavors: Honeydew, lime, ginger

Summary: Interesting flavors and a great wine for a hot day when you in the mood for refreshments like Thai iced tea. Yeah, it’s on the sweeter side but sometimes you want fruity/fresh on a summer day. Uncomplicated and refreshing, this Riesling is great paired with seafood.

This bottle was supposed to be for fish tacos but all we had laying around was lobster--you make do with what you got...


Friday, June 20, 2008


So there's a decent little Portuguese joint in town with a pretty good selection of Portuguese wines. We ordered Casa Burmester Reserva 2002. It went pretty well with grilled fava beans. It also went well with beef. It's a pretty pungent wine--reminded me somewhat of Sangiovese. The wine is made with two Douro Demarcated Region grape varieties - Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. Lots of cassis/raspberry and spice on the nose and tons of spice and tart cherry on the palate. Definitely decant.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Cost of Wine Storage

Just looked at my electric bill and noticed that we have almost doubled our electricity usagage every month since January. What changed in January? Well, that is the month that we received and plugged in our beloved refrigerated wine cabinet.

Doing some rough calculations I figure that our little 35 bottle wine storage unit is drawing about 138 kWh per month which at almost $.12 per kWh, is about $16.58 a month. Kinda makes you go hmmm...

If we lived near Kingston, NY for example, I could store the same amount of wine, roughly 3 cases, for $3.30 per month (dig this snazzy theme music)! If we had a nice cool basement like Wannabe Wino, we could just throw up a few shelves for wine for next to nothing and we'd be in business. Unfortunately, neither option is available to us.

As it stands, we will be paying about $200 per year (roughly what we paid for the unit) to baby 3 cases worth of wine. I guess at ~$5.50 per bottle per year, it is still more economical than waiting to purchase a particular vintage until it is ready to drink--I guess...

Thanks Taster A for helping with the physics calculations.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

WBW #46: Two Inexpensive Rhône Whites

Dr. Debs picked this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday theme with summer in mind. We decided to try two inexpensive Rhône whites since that was what was available.

The first selection was Parallèle “45” 2006 and here are excerpts from our wine selection process for your consumer habits study:

Taster A: “Oh, that’s half way to the North Pole…”
Taster B: “Yeah, that’s two degrees north of us—we should try it.”

Grapes: 50% Grenache Blanc, 20% Marsanne, 20% Viognier, 10% Bourboulenc. This wine was all about the zest: Lime zest…grapefruit zest…pith. While it had some tropical hints this isn’t a wine that I’d sip on the patio—it needs to be consumed with food. When it comes to wine and food pairings, occasionally we find a wine doesn’t work at all with a particular dish; most of the time it’s just neutral (neither competing with nor enhancing the meal); and then, every once in a while, we get lucky…

In Parallèle “45” we find an ideal pairing for pesto. The wine brought out dimensions of nuttiness in the pesto that were not present in the absence of this particular wine. Our second Rhône white was an acceptable match with the pesto, but didn’t exhibit the dynamic ‘greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts’ reaction with the dish. I will definitely seek this bottle out again when planning a summer pesto meal. It’s one of those rare matches made in heaven.

Our second selection, E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2005, was less about the zest. We found some pleasant aromas of pear, lychee, lemon, marzipan and orange blossom. Conversely, the first taste of this wine smarts a bit. It’s very dry and mineral with grapefruit on the palate…Can’t say I was overly fond of it at first but, we hauled it out again for a meal of poached haddock seasoned with lemon, tarragon, and marjoram. Suddenly, this ugly duckling became a graceful swan. I get so caught up in the habit of ‘tasting’ wine that I forget to drink it sometimes. This is a drinking wine--it wants to be swallowed because of how it feels on the back of the tongue.

To get an idea of how remarkable this wine was paired with our seafood dish, just recall the driest most spartan wine you ever tasted. We’re talking about the kind of wine that puts a tiny vise on every taste bud and thumbscrews on both sides of your tongue. Now imagine this same wine, by virtue of the meal beside it, magically becoming buttery and rich. Can this really happen with a $12 table wine? I’m here to tell you it can.

Once paired with food, subtle flavors of melon began to emerge. At one point, the distinct aroma of fresh cut green grass opened up on the nose.

Thanks to Dr. Debs for hosting and picking this month’s theme for WBW. These wines reminded me of why I started this blog: Not just to post an endless stream of predictable tasting notes but, to relate an experience with a wine that was totally unexpected, or one that reminds me of a basic principal I knew once but had forgotten, or both.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Free wine shipping and other tidbits

linkback to you live around Boston, or even if you don't check out BinEnds free shipping promotion. For a limited time, minimum purchases qualify for free shipping.

If you have a few minutes to kill drooling over photos of delectable international dishes, check out Jenius Food & Photography. I could spend hours on this site. Not sure what your in the mood for tonight? No problem. This site has hundreds of craving-awaking photos to help you decide what you want: Like an Applebee's menu, only much, much better!


Monday, June 9, 2008

Gundlach Bundschu 2005 Zinfandel

What is it about Zinfandel that brings out the punster in us? Is it because it’s so zinfully delicious? I don’t know but for this one time, dear reader, I decided not to punish you with my punnish ways, (haha! Oh. Sorry...) and to let the wine have the spotlight (at least in the post title).

Gundlach Bundschu (pronounced: gun-lock bun-shoe) is a very cool Sonoma vineyard currently run by 6th generation vitner, Jeff Bundschu, who has a cool blog called Blogschu (clearly Jeff is a fan of the pun). Gundlach Bundschu (AKA: Gun Bun) celebrated their sesquicentennial earlier this year--that's 150 years of family winemaking folks!

We visited the tasting room in Sonoma last October and brought this bottle back home with us. We saved it for a whole seven months but, finally, the BBQ called and the Zin answered...

Gundlach Bundschu 2005 Zinfandel
Rhinefarm Vineyard
Alcohol: 15.7%
Price: ~35$

Aromas: Blackberry, plum, raspberry, mint
Flavors: Plum, raspberry, allspice, pepper, tar, chocolate

Summary: Well-balanced medium-bodied wine that is ‘rich not heavy.’ A delectable long finish makes this wine great on its own or paired with barbequed chicken. While it’s not a cheap bottle, it’s a good value as Sonoma Valley single vineyard Zins go. I don’t know if you can get it anywhere else but direct from GB but, if you like a classic Zin, seek it out.


Saturday, June 7, 2008


I picked up this little number for my love of Grenache. I think we paid seven or eight bucks for the bottle. This is the bottle from whence the featured cork of Thursday last came. The wine is 2006 Almira Los Dos.

2006 Almira LosDos "Old Vines"

Grenache 85% Syrah 15%
Campo de Borja
Alcohol: 14%

Aromas: Pomegranate, fig/apricot, vanilla, black currant, wet stone
Flavors: Pomegranate, fig, bread

Summary: Medium-bodied with great color, this easy-drinking wine offers a delightful change of pace from the everyday while still being an everyday wine. Deliciously fruity on the nose, with bright pomegranate and golden fig-to-apricot aromas (figricot). Refreshing and dry on the palate--a great summer red.

I've seen mixed reviews of past vintages of Almira Grenache blends but I think 2006 is worth a look. It's certainly quaffable and would do fine with burgers, but this figgy wine would also shine with more thoughtful pairings such as lamb and grilled vegetables. We paired it with what we'll call tapas in keeping with the Spanish theme (aka: antipasti) including olive tapenade, marinated artichoke hearts and cheeses.


Friday, June 6, 2008

The Glass is One Third Full

I’m not a “the glass is half full” guy. I’m not a “the glass is half empty” guy. And for an engineer, you’d probably say I’m a “the glass is twice as big as it needs to be” guy. No, I’m a wine drinker. My glass is about one third full and that’s the way I like it.

We’ve had Tomaiolo wine before. This time, I’m popping open their Tuscana I.G.T. This is a nice Supertuscan, a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It has the floral berry Sangiovese smell, a hint of mown hay and mint of the Merlot. The tannins are smooth and well rounded. There are strawberry, pomegranate, cherry and blackberry flavors. A little tar, tobacco and mineral with allspice on the finish. The wine is on the dry side with a nice acid balance. It isn't a big, high alcohol fruit bomb with inky extracted color. No, it's more of a table wine that you don't have to think about while drinking.

So this isn’t simple, peasant wine but it is rustic enough. We paid $12.99 at a wine shop for this bottle. I like it and for my money, this is what I want when I want something that is not over-the-top.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Look at this cork.

I don't know if the photo really captures the garnet color of this cork. I thought it was striking in comparison to the usual ruby red/purplish corks I see.
The wine under the cork was good too...