Wednesday, February 24, 2010

evolution: a love story

Ladies and gentlemen, I have someone new in my life. 
This individual's name is Evolution, Lucky Number 9 ($20). It's a non-varietal American blend of nine different white grapes, produced by Solok Blosser winery in Dundee, Oregon. I know what you're thinking ... something with that much baggage and variety can't possibly be good for me. Well, it is. I am positively in love with this wine. I know some of you might disapprove of our love, seeing as how this "American" wine doesn't have a proper background or home, but I don't care! Our love defies the gods themselves! 
Behold the evolution of our revolutionary love story:

First surprise. And frizzy hair. 

Then curiosity ... and admiration. 
Notice the Kristen Stewart lower-lip bite. That shows you it's real. 

Then comes a love that defies reason.  It's not just love: it's evolution. 
(Cheesy, I know, but I had to throw it in there!)

I bet you're wondering why I care about this wine so much. Well, the first thing I love about it is how easy it is to drink. It's one of those wines that you could down a half bottle of right away and not notice because it's incredibly smooth and light. It only clocks in at 12% alcohol. The color is a soft yellow with a slight greenish tint. You can see a few bubbles in it as well. The nose is light, with white peach, mineral, dew grass, citrus and a tiny hint of vanilla bean and mango. Its nose is very sweet and seductive - really cleanses the nasal passage. I just feel like taking a huge whiff and soaking it all in. 
The mouth is sweet with a bit of spritz on the tongue. It has some similarities to a Muscato, although I couldn't find online if one of the varietals was indeed a Muscato. Mystery! Let me know if you solve it. There's banana on the entry with light peach. The wine starts sweet but ends with a bit of tang from the grassy herb and mineral, as well as some vanilla bean. I would recommend refrigerating this wine, it's more refreshing at a cooler temperature than at room. 
I know this may be a personal opinion, mainly because Julien didn't care for it, but I really love the taste of this wine. I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good light white wine, especially those who are relatively new to wine drinking. It's incredibly easy to enjoy and would work with a wide variety of foods (although I would definitely recommend you think spicy!). 
And just so you know, I was not commissioned by Evolution to produce this article - I bought this wine myself. However, if anyone from Evolution happens to read this, and wishes to send some samples for me to review ...  I might be inclined to, you know, give them a try. Who are we kidding, I would gulp them down!
I know I know ... I'm a wine glutton. But can you really blame me?

seriously? this is still a problem?

So I posted an article last week about an overturned bill in Oklahoma which would have allowed grocery stores to sell wine. Now, like many of you, I figured this was probably just a midwest thing ... you know, how the coastal "more progressive" states wouldn't have this problem.
Then I came across this doozy: Wine-ing About Grocery Stores Selling Vino.
Turns out that it's also illegal to sell wine in grocery stores ... in New York. Freaking New York, people! One of the most idealist, liberal states in the country. Well, Governor David Patterson wishes to fix this with a proposal that would make it legal to sell wine and hard liquor in grocery stores. But not everybody is happy about this decision. A large group of liquor store owners are heading to Albany to protest this proposal. They say it will run them out of business and hurt the economy - but in reality, it will probably just force them to be more competitive with their prices.
In my opinion, wine should be available for purchase in grocery stores. It's ridiculous that these dumb puritan laws are still in effect in this country! All they do is hold us back from being responsible, mature adults. After all ... if you forbid something, all they're going to want is to have it.
So what are you thinking about right now? Yeah, I thought so :).

Friday, February 19, 2010

poetry slam friday

bare bones (vines in winter)

silent branches hang
glisten with raindrops and frost
wait to be reborn

Thursday, February 18, 2010

reaching out with 14 hands

So last night I decided to treat myself and went on a little clothes shopping spree. Nothing fancy, but did spend some of that green I'd earned over the weekend during AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach ... oh, and Valentine's Day. I LOVE Marshalls. It's a fabulous store and I find the cutest things. I'm sure you'll be seeing them on here soon, because I'll probably be wearing them all the time!
One sad point, though. They're selling Apple Bottom jeans now at Marshalls, and I wish they didn't look so "blingy" because they fit my buttius maximus like a glove! I couldn't bring myself to buy a pair. I'll have to see if Apple Bottom makes any jeans that are a little more simple.
Afterwards I was too lazy to cook so Julien and I went to his workplace, Islands, to get some dinner. Since I felt like drinking something but wasn't in the mood for hard alcohol. Mardi Gras was the night before - I had gone out with a girlfriend and was still feeling the effects! So I had a glass from their admittedly poor wine selection. Hey, they're a burger joint, not a wine bar ;).

So I tried the 2006 14 Hands Merlot from Washington state ($9). The wine had a lightly smokey nose with plum and grass. The wine definitely was a medium body, and surprisingly started out rather sweet and jammy - something I don't normally find in a Merlot. It also had flavors or black pepper and berry. It was okay, but honestly I just didn't find anything that "wow" about it. It was drinkable, but not memorable. I didn't even finish the glass. If you see this in the store, I wouldn't recommend you pick it up. I'm sure there'll be something else on the shelf that's more worthy of bottle purchase.
Well, I'm off to the gym. Gotta get in shape so I can wear that catsuit for my performance as Maureen in Rent this August! Meow!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

tuesday wine news - what is this, prohibition?

Just got a hold of this juicy number from Oklahoma, no pun intended: Tulsa World: Grocery wine measure corked. Apparently the State Senator Andrew Rice (D) from Oklahoma City tried to get a bill put on the floor that would allow grocery stores to sell wine and high-point beer. Right now grocery stores are not allowed to and Rice claims that it not only hurts businesses, since wine and beer are highly profitable, but it also prevents some big-chain stores from coming into Oklahoma, since many of their main profits come from the sale of wine and beer. Well, it didn't fail on the floor, because it never made it there. The bill was killed in a Senate committee before it even had a chance to be voted on by the people.

It still shocks me that, after all this time, there are still antique wine laws that exist like that. In some states you're not allowed to buy liquor on Sundays - all the bars and liquor stores have to close. And according to Free the Grapes, some states, including Maryland and New Jersey, still don't allow direct shipping of wine to consumers. It's actually a felony in Maryland. Can you believe it? An actual felony! Cruelty to animals and spousal abuse are only misdemeanors, yet receiving wine at your house is a felony? It's ridiculous!
I encourage anyone, especially those living in Oklahoma, Maryland and New Jersey, to speak out on behalf of our poor defenseless grapes ... after all, all they want is a home inside of our bellies!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

hallmark love (and wine) day

For Valentine's Day, a.k.a Hallmark-Buy-Something-Red Day, Julien and I had a lovely little wine tasting excursion in Carmel Valley. First we headed over to Chateau Julien, a lovely little tasting room on Carmel Valley Road. I wanted to go try Chateau Julien because people kept telling me how much they loved/hated it, so I figured I should try it out for myself instead of relying on everybody else's opinions. By the way, Chateau Julien is sub-par at best. Their wines are watery, young and, as a whole, largely tasteless. Their tasting room was cute, but the wines couldn't match.

Julien's trying to figure out if he should change his name now. 

The other main tasting room we went to was for Boekenoogen Wines, a fairly new and family-owned estate winery based out of Santa Lucia Highlands with another winery in Carmel Valley. Julien and I were rather impressed by their wines. As of now they produce mainly Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, although they did have one Syrah for tasting, as well as a brand new Viognier that we were able to taste, despite the fact that it wasn't available on the tasting menu. Here's a breakdown of the wines we tasted:

1. 2008 Boekenoogen Santa Lucia Highlands Estate "Stainless Fermented/Barrel Aged" Chardonnay ($28) - This was a light and fairly young Chardonnay that was fermented in steel, then aged in the barrel. It had notes of honeydew, lemongrass and ripened white pear with a tart finish.

2. 2008 Boekenoogen Santa Lucia Highlands Estate "Barrel Fermented" Chardonnay ($32) - This wine smelled young and sweet with a noticeable flavor of honeysuckle, pineapple and oak.

3. 2008 Boekenoogen Carmel Valley Estate Viognier ($24) - Sweet and medium-bodied, the Viognier was a fabulous tasting with notes of white and yellow peach. We ended up buying a bottle of this and took it home with us. It's now in our collection waiting to be tried again in the future!

4. 2006 Boekenoogen Santa Lucia Highlands Estate Pinot Noir ($45) - This was a rich and fuller-bodied Pinot Noir with a smoky nose. It had notes of ollalieberry, blueberry and black pepper with a raw cinnamon finish ... almost like a cinnamon stick. It had a tiny hint of tar on the end as well.

5. (see above) 2007 Boekenoogen Santa Lucia Highlands Estate Pinot Noir ($39) - I much preferred this Pinot Noir. It was smooth (even smelled smooth) with notes of dark red cherry and plum. The flavors were incredibly subtle and increased in my mouth as I was tasting it.

6. 2007 Boekenoogen Santa Lucia Highlands Estate Syrah ($36) - This wine was good as well, although I'm not the hugest fan of Syrah after tasting a Pinot Noir. The nose had dried herbs with mint and honeybaked ham. I know, not the most natural thing to smell in wine, but that's what I got! It also had notes of white pepper and black plums.

Overall, I would definitely recommend trying a bottle of Boekenoogen if you have a chance to. It's a winery that shows a lot of promise, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with in the future.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

oh please please please please

So I just submitted my application request to a receive a scholarship so that I may attend the Wine Bloggers' Conference in Walla Walla, Washington in June. I've been wanting to go since I first heard about it, but with school and upcoming moving costs I won't be able to afford it without help. So please send out an extra happy thought for me into the general universe ... maybe if enough are circulated, the WBC staff won't be able to ignore them :). 
And if you're a fellow wine blogger, please show your support for my cause to the WBC staff, if you're able to. I really want to meet you, but I won't be able to if I can't afford to go. Thanks to all of you for reading, and I really hope to see you soon.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

wines to seduce by

Valentine's Day is coming up, and the mood is getting sexy. What better way to bring on those primal urges then by opening up a sensual bottle of vino? I was originally going to link to another blogger's post or article about sensual wines, but I couldn't find one ... so alas, the task falls unto me. When you're wanting to get that yearly fix of Cupid's love, here are a few wine-related tricks to seal the deal. I'll mention a few potential Valentine's Day dates, then suggest the wine variety (and a potential bottle) to match it.

1. Breakfast in Bed:
You can't go wrong with a fabulous mimosa or champagne with breakfast in bed. It's the perfect way to start the day, and tells your lover right away that not only do you know it's Valentine's Day (which is a mistaken people, mostly men, can sometimes make with their partners), but that you want them to have a memorable one. Try a Blanc de Blancs, like the 2006 Gloria Ferrer ($12-$16, Safeway), so that it doesn't overpower the taste of the OJ. And don't forget, use fresh-squeezed or not-from-concentrate juice!
Be sure to sneak out of bed early so that you can start breakfast without waking them. Choose something simple, like croissants and fresh fruit. I like Trader Joe's overnight chocolate croissants - you leave them out overnight on the counter and they puff like magic! Just be sure to use an egg glaze on the top before baking them, gives them that fresh-from-the-bakery look.

2. Outdoor Picnic:
When going out for a nice picnic, either on the beach, at a park or any other romantic locale, I'd definitely recommend bringing a Chardonnay. White wines are better to enjoy outdoors, in my opinion, because they're crisp and fresh; which only serves to heighten the relaxed, easygoing feelings of being out of the house. Plus, any spills caused by natural factors (like tiny bumps on the ground or accidentally pulling on the tablecloth) are easily concealed. If you're looking for a light, crisp Chardonnay, look no further than Heller Estate's 2007 Chardonnay ($25, Safeway). It was named one of the top 5 U.S. Chardonnays by the Wall Street Journal, and has a fabulously light flavor that doesn't reek or oak or malolactic fermentation. Be sure to bring along some top-notch cheeses (Brie is always a fabulous choice), fresh-sliced gourmet meat from the delicatessen and, of course, fresh grapes to feed to your sweetie.

3. Dining Out:
If you're going the traditional route and taking your Valentine out to dinner (have you made your reservation yet, by the way?), first do yourself a favor and follow this advice: unless you have a rare/vintage bottle you've been saving for this special occasion, do not bring a bottle of wine to the restaurant! It makes you look cheap. Instead, figure out beforehand what your partner is hungry for and plan to order a varietal to accompany it. Looking for something spicy? Get a light white to start, like a Sauvignon Blanc, then follow it with a Pinot Noir or Merlot. Something rich and deep, like a steak? A rich, jammy Cabernet or Syrah is the way to go. Be sure to talk with the waiter (or sommelier, depending on where you're going) about the different wine choices while you're looking. Give them a chance to suggest something as well ... and if they don't have the knowledge to back it, then just choose for yourself.

4. Dessert at Home:
Heading back home for some "quiet time"? Be sure to bring out the end-of-the-night dark chocolates to enjoy with your hun! They're a powerful aphrodisiac that gives you a chance to hand-feed each other, which is fantastic foreplay. What could be better? Well, a fantastic Port, for one! Be sure to go authentic and get one from Portugal, it shows you know your stuff. Plus, it's rich in texture and heavy in alcohol. I don't have any immediate suggestions for a good Porto, but I'll keep an eye out and let you know later on this week.
Also, you could try a great Ice Wine with some ice cream.

Happy tasting (and loving)!

Monday, February 8, 2010

monday, monday ... so good to me

Last night, since neither of us were forced to suffer the miseries of watching the Superbowl (sports, in my opinion, are incredibly boring to watch without actually participating), Julien and I felt like having a quiet, romantic dinner. And who wouldn't, so close to Valentine's Day? So I made us a delicious meal of lemon pepper paste with a personally homemade artichoke-caper sauce. Here are the exact ingredients for making the sauce, since I was so proud of it!

1/8 stick of butter
half a cup (or so) of extra virgin olive oil
dash of sea salt
meyer lemon juice (half a lemon, squeezed, seeds removed)
1 tablespoon capers
8-10 artichoke hearts
2 tablespoons creme fraiche

Here's a pic of some of the ingredients I used. As you can see, I am clearly a fan of Trader Joe's :).

I made the sauce in that order by first melting the butter, then putting in the olive oil and salt. I then let it blend together and simmer for a bit at middle heat. Afterwards I added the meyer lemon juice and let it simmer again for a bit. I then added the capers and let it simmer for about 3-5 minutes while the pasta was still cooking. I then added the artichoke hearts and lowered it to a low simmer, so they would cook without getting soft. 
Right as the pasta was finishing up I added the creme fraiche and let it melt with the sauce, creating a sauce that was light and sweet, but had the slightest bit of tang from the creme fraiche. I mixed the sauce and pasta together, then used the rest of the meyer lemon to create a fresh squeeze of juice on the top before tossing and serving. Absolutely delicious! I'm definitely going to make it again (and I'll take pics next time, for sure). If you ever try something like it at home, let me know how it goes! 
Well, with such a wonderful meal, naturally we needed to have a wonderful wine to go with it. And what else would be perfect with a lemon-caper and artichoke-hearts pasta then a fabulous Pinot Noir? In this case, the 2006 Pelerin Cuvee St. Vincent Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands ($40). Julien and I had the privilege of meeting the Pelerin winemaker during a special dinner at L'Auberge in Carmel.

Their wines are amazing, with gorgeous labels that appear to depict different Catholic saints. Apart from their Syrah, which is an excellently full-bodied and jammy Syrah, I've always loved their Pinot Noirs. This one is no exception. It clocks in at 14.1% alcohol but you can hardly tell. The color is a lighter brick red with a soft pink halo. It smells strongly of red cherry, red apple, cream and light herb. It also has a subtle note of truffle, specifically porcini mushrooms. The wine has noticeable flavors of sour red cherries, chocolate, custard - and, again, just a taste of those porcini mushrooms. But don't saw ewww, because they actually serve to enhance the wine quite a bit. Gives it a strong, almost meaty quality to it, especially on the finish, which is quite vibrant. This wine definitely benefits from a decanter - Julien put it in ours last night and it made a noticeable difference the next day. 
In the end, TRY THIS WINE. If you can't find their Pinot, definitely give their Syrah a go. Their Chardonnay is all right, but I definitely prefer their reds over their whites. Happy tasting!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

atw - tint(ara)ed lenses

So unfortunately, I've been suffering from a nasty cold (flu? still not sure which) this past week, which has made wine practically undrinkable. But I've finally turned a corner and allowed myself to taste a bit. Not a whole bunch, mind you, but just a little bit. And that's what wine samplings are for! Just had a small one last night with my boyfriend, Julien (see above). And no, I didn't let him drink all my wine, of course! Just a bit.

The wine I tasted was a 2004 Tintara McLaren Vale Grenache from, you guessed it, McLaren Vale in Australia, a region famous for fabulously deep and sensual reds like Shiraz. I tried it in a wine sampling at LALLAgrill in Monterey, CA, which boasted a pretty impressive selection of wines available for immediate sampling - which is good for me, since I personally prefer having smaller samples of different wines so that I can get a good variety.
The color on this wine was a deeper purple, which gradually lightened into the soft fuschia halo. The nose had strong notes of fig, with some balsamic, red apple, general spices (couldn't really pin them out, after all I'm still getting over the cold). It also had just a hint of lavender, which I found to be a refreshing shift in the general scent of the wine. The mouth was syrupy. I could taste the balsamic and red apple - and, honestly, it tasted a bit yeasty to me. I still don't understand why, but that's why I got out of it. Overall, I did enjoy this wine quite a bit; except for the yeast part, which I'm still a bit confused by.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I am currently sick in bed right now. Have been for the past couple of days. Yeah, wine's not feeling like a great idea right now. But let me know what you're drinking, so I can be properly jealous!