Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Altos del Plata Malbec 2011

Even though I haven't yet had my fill of turkey (or ham. Or pie. Or crab oobie doobies.), I'm glad to be moving away from the Pinot Grigio's and Sauvignon Blanc's of Thanksgiving meals and back into my favorite territory: the wonderful world of reds. Which by the way, are perfectly OK to drink with Thanksgiving meals; I just didn't.

and I would've gotten away with it
if it wasn't for you rotten kids!
So, on this lovely Tuesday I am sampling the 2011 Altos del Plata Malbec, a delightfully predictable offering for all you other Malbec fans out there. By the way, I think the word "predictable" takes a lot of crap from people. We roll our eyes when Grandpa tells us the same story for the umpteenth time. We cringe at stories with a "Scooby-Doo" ending. But there's something to be said for predictability. As far as wine goes, it's nice to know what you're getting before you even open the bottle.

The Altos del Plata Malbec delivers a reliable, strong, fruity flavor, with aromas of plum and blueberry (I think...my nose is pretty stuffed up today). The sip provides a powerful slap of jam, more than just-a-hint of vanilla and a bit of oak. I know, I know; I keep saying I don't like oak, but then telling you I like such-and-such wine and THAT'S oaked...I don't mind it when it's not overdone. And when I say strong fruity flavor, I mean it; elements of the sip hang around long after you've finished it. To summarize: the Altos del Plata is a Malbec. It tastes like a Malbec.

Also: let this one open up for a bit; give it 20-30 minutes after you pop the cork to aerate.

We're pretty much out of food in our house, so I'm not going to tell you what I ate with this wine. Suffice it to say that it involved American cheese, Stove Top stuffing and a chicken patty. The rest is up to your imagination, and I'm unfortunately unable to recommend pairing the Altos with whatever-it-is you can find in your kitchen. That being said, I think it will taste GREAT with the pork chops I plan to make for dinner.

That's all for this week; I'm trying to keep things short and sweet. Like me :o)

Price: $

My Rating: B+

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Excitement Abounds!!
Do you know what today is???? Besides Thursday??? It's Beaujolais Nouveau Day! A magical day that happens once a year on the third Thursday in November. For the uninitiated, Beaujolais Nouveau is the first wine of the new vintage, so the 2012 Nouveau was harvested just a few short months ago. As you might imagine this doesn't leave a lot of time for ageing and often results in a sub-par wine, which we are allowed to imbibe for the first time on the Thursday before Turkey Day. However, I like to believe that BN Day is more about celebrating the end of a successful harvest than it is about the BN itself.

Beaujolais Nouveau tends to pair well with traditional Thanksgiving meals, so its release coincides nicely with the holiday. But since we're being honest-- while I appreciate the Beaujolais Nouveau I don't usually like it, and I can't tell you that this particular vintage is any different for me. Bummer.

I promised I would try not to use descriptors like "toe jam" or "sweat" to describe its flavor, so I'll just tell you its youth is evident. It has a deep ruby color and a juicy smell, but doesn't provide a lot of varied flavor or growth with the sip. Really, I think it's more fun just to have a glass to toast the harvest and the hopes of a great year of wines to come.

And because I enjoy making crap up, I've been thinking while I sip the BN that there should be more to it than just "Huzzah! New wine!" So I came up with this: You know how on Groundhog Day we look for the groundhog's shadow to decide if we're getting 6 more weeks of winter or not? Well, on Beaujolais Nouveau Day, we should taste the new wine to decide if wines this season are going to be any good. My theory? The sweatier-tasting the Beaujolais, the better the wines coming down the pike (it probably has more to do with the weather, but I'm making up some lore here so just play along). If that is the case, I'm really glad I don't like Beaujolais Nouveau, because that means I'll be tasting some really good stuff soon.


Price: $

My Rating: I plead the fifth

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

MacMurray Pinot Noir 2009

Wow, it's Tuesday already. The past few weeks have felt like minutes...you know, the kind of minutes that drag on forever and ever...okay, let me rephrase: the past few weeks have felt like minutes that feel like weeks. I don't know how else to explain it. Looking back it's like a blur of "meh" stippled with some of what makes life great. In between the mundane in and outs of everyday life I've gotten to play some good music, spend time with good friends and (as always) drink some good wine.

This week was a throwback to one of my standbys: MacMurray Pinot Noir. This wine is seriously good. It embodies all of what I love about reds. It's dry yet fruity, rich and soft (like a mouth full of satin, which, by the by, I do not recommend tasting for comparison), a little bit spicy and great with food.

a little on the dark side... sooo many
reasons why this image is funny...
Unlike many Pinots, which can be bright and nearly translucent in color, the MacMurray Pinot is a little on the dark side. If you're familiar with wine, you might notice a distinctly Zin scent when you smell it. Myself being a fan of Zinfandel, this just adds to the appeal.

A lesser Pinot can be watery and taste mostly like spice. Pepper in particular. This one's more layered, with a punch of dark fruit and vanilla and some of the sweeter spices-- like the kind you'd put in an apple pie (note to self: make an apple pie). Reading some online reviews, others have detected cola, smoke and crushed rocks. Yeah, I don't get that last one.

I paired the MacMurray Pinot Noir with chicken tikka masala and garlic naan from my favorite Indian restaurant. While probably not an ideal match, I won't tell you that it wasn't delicious. Really, the MacMurray Pinot Noir is, in what has become a catch phrase for me, a "Raisin Bran" wine: it tastes good with pretty much anything. Enjoy it folks; this one is as good as they get.

Price: $$

My Rating: A

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Johnson Estate Sparkling Traminette

Not to brag, but I make a pretty
awesome apple pie.
Let's talk TURKEY!! Later this month is my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving-- a time for good food and good wine with family and friends. I can't wait!

In the spirit of the season, this week's Wine 101 class at Personal Wine Cellar will be dedicated to pairing wines with Thanksgiving meals. We'll be sampling four different wines that pair well with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner: Dr. Frank Gewurtztraminer, 90+ Cellars Mosel Riesling, Johnson Estates Sparkling Traminette, and Folie a Deux Zinfandel. 

Honestly, if I had to pick just one to recommend to you, I'd probably cry. Cause I can't do it. So, simply because I had it most recently, I'll tell you a little more about the Johnson Estate Sparking Traminette...

alternate label:
Golden Sparkles
This wine has BUBBLES, and here's an interesting fact about that: the Johnson Estates Sparkling Traminette is the only one made in the US using the traditional champagne method. Basically, that means the bubbles don't come from a carbon dioxide injection. Instead, they're created naturally in the bottle during a second fermentation process. While the traditional method comes straight out of the Champagne region of France, Johnson Estate puts it to good use right here in New York State.

 The Sparkling Traminette is also notable for it's great flavors. It's crisp and a little fruity, with some light citrus (maybe lychee) and floral accents. It's not super acidic, like some champagnes, but it's also not lip-puckering sweet, so it's great in a spritzer (you may recall that two weeks ago I mentioned splashing a bit of Chambord in there) and also makes one BOSS mimosa. 

Oh, and another thing: one of the "official" recommended pairings is TURKEY. But personally, I'd pair this one with my Thanksgiving leftovers. I mean, Thanksgiving dinner is great and all, but if you're family's like mine you've been snacking on beer-basted kielbasa and crab oobie doobies* all day, so when actual dinner happens around 2:30-3:00, you're kinda stuffed. And let's be honest: that sandwich you're gonna make at 9:00 Thanksgiving night, you know, the one with the congealed gravy, scooped stuffing and slices of jellied cranberry sauce on top...THAT's gonna taste awesome with some Sparkling Traminette. You're welcome.

*in case any non-relatives are wondering, this just means "hors d'oeuvres" in Craig.