Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Abad Dom Bueno Mencia 2009

 Happy Autumn everyone! It's finally here! That magical time of year where we break out our jackets and crock pots, sip red wine and toddies, and listen to the rustling of a crisp breeze through the dying leaves. Say it with me now: aaahhhhhhhhh...

culinary genius.
This weekend I went all-out fall with a crock of slow-cooker beef stew, pumpkin cupcakes with spiced cream cheese frosting, and a few hearty glasses of 2009 Abad Dom Bueno Mencia. Normally I would go for a drier red with beef stew, but the PWC family has really been digging Spanish reds lately, so we went with the less traditional (at least as far as beef stew is concerned) Mencia. I bet you didn't know that Mencia was even a grape-- unless you actually know about wine, in which case you must be reading this blog solely for access to my wit and charm.

The first thing I noticed about the wine was that the bottle is sooooo pretty. I'm not usually a victim of this kind of book-by-its-cover marketing, but look at it!

I'm completely drawn to the shimmery blue lettering with that enigmatic seal that a quick Google search informs me is a window of the Monastery of Carracedo (located near the Abad Dom Bueno bodega), which used to be a stop on the Camino de Santiago.

I want to go to there.
This wine looks great in the glass as well. It's a surprisingly dark purple, somewhere between blueberry and blackberry in color. The look is definitely heavier than the smell or taste though. The aroma of the Mencia is warm and inviting as well as a bit fruity. The sip is characterized by dark fruit: blackberry jam is right on the money. It's a bit sweeter than one might expect from a cursory glance, but that's okay-- it's not overwhelming and I definitely wouldn't call the Mencia a sweet wine. With a little bit of that red warmth, this is a great wine for those cool evenings I so look forward to this time of year.

I took this picture NOT in
front of the microwave, just
to keep you on your toes.
The Mencia was great with our meal, however I'd understand if you'd prefer a spicier, drier red with beef stew (perhaps a Chianti). If this sounds like you, I also think it would be great with marinated pork loin. Additionally the Internet suggests game meat, which I hadn't thought of.

Price: $

Rating: B+

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Maison Nicolas Chardonnay 2010

CWT sez: Oak is for deers, not people.
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but Chardonnay is not generally my white of choice because I'm not a fan of oak. Or rather, I'm not a fan of being slapped in the mouth by a Chardonnay that makes you feel like you're chewing on a tree.
However my opinion of Chardonnay has been challenged recently by my realization that not all Chards are oaked until they are a crusty brown in color and that is all you can taste. Since starting the CWT blog I have found not one, but two Chards that I actually really enjoy, and I'll have one of them open for you at PWC this Thursday: Maison Nicolas.

I like taking pictures of things
in front of my microwave.
What I like most about the Nicolas Chard shouldn't much surprise you: it's not oak-y. It's fermented in stainless steel vats, then aged six months in barrels. This process is evident when you look at the wine as well as when you taste it: It's light in color, though a bit less green than some whites that are aged in steel. And, there is only a small amount oak in the flavor-- in fact I'm not 100% sure it's even oak I'm tasting. It's a little like toast at first and then that hint is completely overwhelmed by refreshing citrus flavors. Both the scent and the flavor are light and refreshing as well as fleeting. This wine won't overload your senses, so it's great with a light meal.

That's right I said "with my lunch."
I have the day off, okay?
In fact, this wine was perfect for today because the weather is totally cooperating. It's cool and a little rainy. There's just that hint of fall in the air and while it's no longer hot out, it's not precisely cold either. It's REFRESHING outside! The Nicolas Chardonnay went very well with my lunch of a grilled chicken sandwich with Munster and BBQ sauce, Saratoga chips, and that light autumnal breeze drifting through my living room window...ahhh... I drank it slightly chilled, but it is definitely still good at room temperature, it will just lose some of its crispness. Which is no biggie.

Price: $

Rating: B+

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Casajus Vendimia Seleccionada 2006

So today, to make things easier, I have a slight CWT adjustment I'd like to announce. Starting with this post, each wine I blog about will be PWC's selection for Thirsty Thursdays. That means on Thursdays from 5:30-9, you can come in to Personal Wine Cellar and try whatever wine I reviewed on the previous Tuesday. How do I know this? Because I'll be the one pouring the samples. Boo-yeah!

This week I have a really nice wine for you. It's a Tempranillo with a great rating (The Wine Advocate gives it 91 points) and some fun facts to boot: Casajus Vendimia Seleccionada 2006.

unless you want this guy
 spitting in your food, I
 would recommend NOT
calling him "Garcon"
Looking at the label, I came up with this whole story (in my head of course) based on a loose translation of what I think "Casajus" would mean in English. That would be either "house juice," as in: "Excuse me, Garcon, but what is your house juice this evening?"
"juice house," as in: "Here is the house where we make our juice." (ta-da!)

Neither, surprisingly enough, is the case. Upon doing a little research I discovered that the wine is named for Jose Alberto Casajus, the owner of the Bodega Casajus vineyards where the wine is produced. What's more, Jose Alberto is the only employee of Bodega Casajus AND the town's baker! So he bakes bread until 9:00am, then heads across the street to the Bodega and makes some wines. You cannot make this stuff up.

Ghost approves.
And, as it turns out, Casajus Vendimia Seleccionada is an excellent wine. When you pour a glass, the first thing you'll notice is the heavy color-- deep red, bordering on purple (as Tempranillo tends to be). The scent is very juicy with strong aromas of grape and cherry. The taste is not nearly as fruity as the smell though. There is a pretty high mineral concentration and you can taste and feel it as it travels in your mouth. You can definitely detect the soil where the grapes are grown in the wine (which I think is very cool). There is an earthy quality in the finish that some tasters might be on the fence about, depending on if you like that sort of thing...I do.

I paired the wine with homemade baked mac n' cheese and ham. It wasn't a great match, and I didn't go for a second glass with my meal. I'd recommend pairing the Casajus with something more complex and/or spicy, like jambalaya.

This wine's a little more expensive than many I review here, so all the better if you come in and try it (for free, of course) before you buy it.

Price: $$

Rating: B+

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Root:1 Cellars Pinot Noir 2009

It's September and despite it being the end of summer and over a month since my birthday, we are rapidly approaching my favorite time of year: autumn! Apple picking, cider donuts, leaf peeping, bonfires, cool nights, back to school, my wedding anniversary and of course, red wine season! Hooray! All the more reason(s) to have a drink, am I right?

So, you'd think that since we went away over the weekend (to celebrate the aforementioned anniversary) I would have tried a new wine on my travels so I could share it with you today. But, no. I waited to share my favorite back-to-school, fall-is-coming wine pick with you. Sort of. Okay, so in reality we were in Vermont, and it was kinda cold out, so...I had spiked cocoa instead of wine. And for the record, it was GOOOOOOD.

Anyway, a good pick for early fall (in my humble opinion) is a Pinot Noir; it won't turn your cheeks red (I know I'm not the only one out there with this affliction), though if you drink a lot of it, it might stain your teeth a little. It's generally purplish in color and translucent, with a light smooth flavor that makes it an ideal companion for pretty much any meal. This week I tried a Chilean Pinot I've not had before, Root:1 Cellars Pinot Noir.
very cool label.
Unless you've spent the last several years living under a rock, you're probably aware that there are a lot of excellent wines coming out of Chile. In particular there are some really great, smooth reds that have some interesting qualities when compared to their European counterparts. The Root:1 Pinot is not spicy or peppery like some Pinots, but it has a smooth cherry flavor with a hint of vanilla that stays true throughout the sip; a steady and reliable go-to wine. It's light enough and smooth enough that it works with some meals you wouldn't normally think of for a red; like chicken or fish. I had it with garlic-parmesan chicken pangrattato (made from scratch) with saffron rice and carrots.

Why yes, that IS Lionel Richie
in the background.
A Bride and Her Flask:
in case you had any doubts
about my classiness...
Oh, relax, "pangrattato" is just a fancy word for "bread crumbs." Yeah, so I baked some chicken with 4C Italian style breadcrumbs*, grated Parmesan cheese and minced garlic. In my toaster oven. Because I am CLASSY. You know what, it was delicious too. The Root:1 Pinot complimented my meal perfectly. I would not, however, recommend it with an accompanying bowl of chocolate ice cream. Raisin Bran, on the other hand...

Price: $

Rating: B+

*I've yet to determine what the difference between 4C breadcrumbs and 4C iced tea mix is. Anyone?