Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tasting 2007 The Zin

I think zinfandel's are a great every day wine. They are often affordable and if we're lucky can be quite luscious. The other day I tasted a 2007 vintage from Consentino Winery they label as "The Zin". Personally, I'm not to fond of clever or cute names, but this wine is exactly what you expect: a strong, traditional zin.

The wine presents a dusky, cherry body and the taste is all zinfandel. Strong, earthy flavors of tobacco, chocolate, blackberry with a trace of black pepper. I found the wine benefited from decanting, or at least let the wine open up for a while in your glass. I found it extremely tight otherwise. The wine has a short finish. You could drink this now but I think this will be much better in 2012.

The Zin is a modest and affordable ($15-$20) offering for casual wine drinking. Pick up a few bottles for next summer and enjoyed with your favorite grilled meat.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tasting: 2006 Venta Mazzaron Tempranillo

One varietal that we seem to be drinking often these days is tempranillo. These (typically) Spanish reds tend to very affordable and quite enjoyable. The other night we opened a 2006 Venta Mazzaron Tempranillo. This wine is 100% tempranillo and drinks quite nicely.

At first pour the first thing I noticed was a smoky, berry nose. In the glass this wine offers a pleasant dark strawberry color with nice legs. Sipping reveals berries, a trace of plum with a very subtle spice note. The wine finishes with a strong tannic coat, that actually I found appetizing. While tasting, I realized this would be a perfect match to a tapa plate of olives and cured meats. I found some salami and it paired wonderfully.

You can definitely drink this now, although I'd like to try a bottle in a few years. The Wine Advocate gave this 90 pts and I think you'll enjoy this.  You should be able to find a bottle for around $15.00 which I think is a terrific value.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tasting: Beak & Skiff Apple Vodka

I have to confess that I love a good vodka and I've come to appreciate high quality products. I'm always looking to try something new. Fortunately, like Dorothy Gale, I didn't have to look any further than my own back yard. Central NY is known for apples and Beak & Skiff is one of the region's oldest and largest orchard. Recently they have branched out and opened their very own distillery. Their first offering is an apple vodka.

The first thing you have to understand is that this is not an apple-flavored vodka, but rather a vodka distilled from apples. While I generally prefer traditional potato or grain based vodkas, I enjoyed Beak & Skiff's vodka.  It is crystal clear with a very clean nose, but not antiseptic. The first taste introduces a very subtle apple overtone, but it is brief and in no way interferes with the drink. I found it exceptionally smooth with gentle finish, that again offers a whiff of apple. I enjoyed sipping it neat but I imagine it would be quite bracing chilled. When used in a cocktail, the apple tones fade away as you might hope and expect. Again, this isn't a flavored vodka.

If you appreciate fine vodka and get you hands on a bottle, I think you'll enjoy this. You can purchase Beak & Skiff's apple vodka at their distillery (which has a tasting bar) or in a few select stores in Central NY. I recommend checking the  Beak & Skiff web site for the latestinformation.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book Review: Medium Raw

Former chef and culinary globetrotter Anthony Bourdain is one of those people you either like or you don't. His snarky, often aggressive prose and attitude leaves little middle ground. Mr. Bourdain's latest offering of culinary reflections proves this isn't going to change. I recently finished, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (Ecco 2010) and it was a delicious read.

I was fascinated with Mr. Bourdain's breakthrough memoir Kitchen Confidential. I couldn't get enough of the  raucous and riotous world of a professional kitchen. It was if he had propped open the door for all of use to peer in and marvel at the hidden world of all the people involved in making our culinary experiences memorable. I approached Medium Raw with the same anticipation and was not disappointed.

If anything, I think Mr. Bourdain has evolved as a writer, albeit often foul-mouthed. But this no holds-barred approach is what I think many readers and fans find appealing. If something is crap, he'll say so and explain why. For example, I especially enjoyed his chapter on heroes and villains in the world of food. I can't say I agree 100% with every choice, but his opinions are anything but subtle, yet reasoned.

I found it interesting that Mr. Bourdain has also matured professionally and isn't afraid to say so. While he still poo-poos, sometimes with real acid, members of the Food Network family, I was glad to see him express his admiration and respect for chefs like Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse. Even Mr. Bourdain realizes, to his chagrin I imagine, that he has become one of the culinariti that he used to mock. I also believe that the last few years hopping around the world has opened his eyes, and that too is reflected in this book.

Now, don't go thinking Tony has gone soft. There is still plenty of rant, served with a zesty sauce of profanity. Medium Raw is often insightful, brutally to the point and recommended reading for any aspiring foodie, cook, or gourmand.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tasting: Finca Flichman 2008 Malbec

I know it has been sometime since I posted, but that doesn't mean I've given up eating and sample fine wine. I have a backlog of tasting notes but let's get started with some I'm drinking right now.

This afternoon I stopped by Vinomania, a local wine shop that I had previously not had the pleasure of visiting. On their recommendation I picked up a 2008 Malbec from Finca Flichman. As promised this is a lighter Malbec without as much "chewiness" as I usually associate with Malbec. In this case, this is exactly what I was after.

This wine pours an inviting purple-cherry hue with a lovely nose. The Malbec (100%) is oak aged for 3 months and you can detect a subtle oak tone. Not overpowering in the least. The wine has a smooth finish with traces of spice and some lingering tannins.

Don't expect a knock-out, big, bold Malbec. But if you are looking for something very reasonably priced and pleasant to drink, pick up a bottle or two. I think this will be a nice wine to drink this summer for those of us who prefer reds year round.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tasting: Miner 2007 Chardonnay

Tonight I made a seafood risotto and paired it with a 2007 Chardonnay from Miner Family Vineyards out of the Napa valley. Once again, Miner delivers the goods. I don’t drink a lot of chardonnay, primarily because so many times, the winemaker seems to get carried away with the oak factor. I hate wines that make me feel like I’m chewing wood. To me, a nice chardonnay has a smooth, almost buttery overtone with just a hint oakiness. This chardonnay is right on the money.  For someone in your life who thinks they aren’t really a Chardonnay drinker, this may be just the wine for them to try.
When poured, you get a beautiful, straw colored drink that is easy to drink from the moment you yank to cork to the time you finish off the bottle. To my palate I pick up a few hints of apple and citrus. There is a slight acidic finish, that with the subtle oak note leaves a warmth in your mouth. After a minute to savor it’s time for another sip. I’d say you can drink this wine today. I imagine it will improve a little over the next few years, but I don’t think you have to wait. I probably won’t.
This is relatively affordable at$30 a bottle, club members pay less. Since Miner is small winery, you may have trouble finding it outside of California, but you can order online.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tasting: Mumm Sparkling Pinot Noir

 mumm-sparkling-pinot-noir I was in the mood to try something a little different and found a bottle of Sparkling Pinot Noir from Mumm Napa on nestled away. I chilled it briefly and then cracked it open with a terrific pop.; the kind of almost cliche pop you get from sparkling wines and Champagne with a small puff spilling out of the opening.

Pouring it into a flute released a torrent of tight carbonation that rose above the rim but never broke and spilled over. Ok, maybe not my best pour, but a very beautiful wine to look at.  I thought of it as a glossy light cherry.

The first sip hits you with a ton of “grapiness”.  Mumm takes Pinot Noir from the Carneros region as the base for this terrific sparkling beverage. I actually have a lot of Mumm in the cellar and none of it has ever disappointed.

On subsequent sips you’ll pick up hints of cranberry and the slightest amount of spice. This is almost too easy too drink and a nice alternative for people who say they don’t like Champagnes or bubbly wines. This is sparkling, in many senses of that word, but nothing I would consider bubbly.

With Thanksgiving approaching this would be a fantastic accompaniment  to the main course. In fact when I checked the Mumm web site ( they have it on sale for the holiday. You can also follow Mumm on Twitter and on Facebook.