Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm a Shirazbyterian. You can be, too.

The commandments are easy to follow:
  1. Heed the unbiased word of Robert Parker.
  2. Watch ye the Wine Library TV, for it is informative and fun.
  3. Drink not the White Zinfandel, for it is swill.
  4. If a friend offers you a glass of White Zinfandel, get a new friend.
  5. Get to know your local wine merchant.
  6. Learn to pronounce "Gewurztraminer".
  7. Share your wine with good friends.
  8. Swirl, you'll thank me later.
  9. Do not be ashamed of your purple tongue.
  10. Do not be afraid of screwcaps.
Everyone is welcome to be a Shirazbyterian. Cheers!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Joseph Drouhin Chardonnay La Foret 2004

photo © Linda Blakely 2007

Another White Burgundy, but less complex than the Henri Boillot. A lot less expensive as well. This Chardonnay was light straw in color and had faint aromas of pears, and a floral scent that I couldn't quite identify. Juicy pear and melon on the palate with a soft acidity and smooth finish. This is a very quaffable wine!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Petite Sirah Mini-Flight

photo © Linda Blakely 2007

Tonight we got together with a friend for dinner and we both brought a bottle of Petite Sirah. We thought it might be interesting to compare the two. Both are from the Lodi region of California.

Keesha Petite Sirah 2004: 15.8% alcohol, inky black with violet hues. Licorice and eucalyptus aromas. Very concentrated, full bodied, with smooth tannins. Vanilla and berries on the palate. Long finish.

JT Cellars Petite Sirah 2005: 13.9% alcohol. Inky with red-violet hues. Berry aromas. Lots of raspberries and plums on the palate. Medium-to-full bodied. Smooth tannins.

Of the two, I think I preferred the Keesha. It just seemed to have more...oomph to it. A bit more backbone. But that doesn't mean that I didn't like the JT Cellars. It was very good too :-D

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sarah's Vineyard Old Vines Zinfandel Besson Vineyard 2004

photo © Linda Blakely 2007

Inky black with red-violet hues. A little "hot" on the nose, probably due to the 16% alcohol. Aromas of licorice, a little tar and dark fruit (plums, cherries). Very vibrant palate. Juicy, with good acidity and fruit. Well-balanced.

I give this wine two thumbs up ;-)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Brassfield Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Sereno Vineyard 2003

photo © Linda Blakely 2007

Let me first start off by just saying...WOW! This gorgeous Cabernet from the Clear Lake district really has it going on. Beautiful ruby red in color with aromas of dark fruit with a bit of spice box. The palate just explodes with flavor, big and juicy! I get, among other things, tobacco, vanilla, black cherries and gripping tannins. By gripping, I mean these tannins take hold of your tongue and won't let go. The finish is long and invites you to keep drinking.

We have three more bottles of this wine in our cellar and it could easily develop for another 2 - 3 years, but if it's this good now, I can't see how we'll be able to wait that long ;-)

Loaves of Happiness

photo © Linda Blakely 2007

This is probably my favorite bread that Tom makes: Bular Bread. It makes me swoon when it's baking, it fills the house with such fantastic aromas!


3 cups milk
1 T salt
3 T instant yeast
2 t ground cardamom
2 T vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 beaten egg
7 - 8 cups flour

Mix together 5 cups of the flour with the salt, sugar, cardamom and yeast. Set aside. Warm the milk to 110F in microwave and add the oil and beaten egg. Mix in flour mixture one cup at a time until it can be kneaded. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a smooth dough. Let rise covered in a warm place until doubled in size. Punch down dough. Form into loaves, buns or (my favorite) you can divide dough in half, roll halves out flat, cover with cinnamon sugar and roll up jellyroll style and slice into 1/4" slices.

Preheat oven to 350F. After loaves, buns or dessert rolls have risen (about 30 - 45 minutes) bake until light brown.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Tasting notes from a wine dinner

Last night I attended a wonderful wine dinner at my favorite restaurant, Blue Bamboo. The executive chef, Dennis Chan and his sous chefs, Michael Kimpland, Alexander Finley and Jimmy Leung showed off their culinary skills.

We started off with Blue Cheese-Parmesan Puffs paired with Paringa Sparkling Shiraz. The puffs were light as a feather with flaky, tender pastry. They paired very well with the sparkling shiraz. I was expecting to not enjoy the shiraz, having tasted a few before that were severely lacking in flavor. Not the case with this one. It had a beautiful deep plum color with pretty pink fizz. Full-bodied with a slightly sweet finish.

Next up was Herbed Shrimp Summer Roll with Peanut Lime Sauce paired with Vina Godeval Godello. Another good pairing! Light straw in color with delicate lime and honeydew aromas. The palate was tart citrus, grapefruit or tangerine, with good acidity and a medium finish.

The main entree was a Duo of Red Roast Ham Shank and Soy Glazed Lamb paired with Le Coq Rouge. The ham was succulent and falling off the bone, and the lamb was tender and juicy! The Le Coq Rouge had an earthiness to the aroma with hints of currant and a little bit of mushroom. It had a big mouthfeel and was very dry, with flavors of truffles. Nice finish.

The dessert was a real treat. Lemon-Basil Cream "Puck" paired with Valckenberg Madonna Kabinett Riesling. Perfect pairing! The riesling was off dry with a flinty nose and a sweet/tart, fruity palate.

All in all, it was a delicious dinner that brought out the very best in each of the wines. It's no wonder Blue Bamboo is my favorite restaurant :-D

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

Oh boy oh boy ohboyohboyohboy!

photo © Linda Blakely 2007

Two years ago, Tom and I acquired a bottle of this premium Hungarian dessert wine: Demeter Zoltan Tokaji Esszencia. It was originally the dessert wine of the Hungarian Royalty, then only available to members of the high communist party. Now it's rare, but available to those lucky enough to find one. A limited number of bottles are made since it takes around 10 years to make. Yes, I said 10 years! Esszencia is the most precious liquid obtained from Aszú grapes. Prior to making the Aszú wine, harvested berries picked individually from the bunch are stored in wooden casks, with a false bottom made up of loose-fitting slats. 'Essence' or juice, pressed out by the weight of the grapes, is collected and then matured in Gönci casks or demi-johns. With such a high sugar content, Tokaji Esszencia ferments very slowly to about 3-4% alcohol and is a great rarity - a phenomenal nectar rather than a true wine. Due to its intensity it will mature for decades in cask and bottle before it reaches its peak.

Now, you'll notice the title of this post. We have been keeping this bottle in the cellar for two years, waiting until the perfect occasion to open it. That occasion will happen the weekend after next. We're having a Christmas party and inviting a few close friends. Everyone will bring a dish and a good bottle of wine. This is what we'll be opening.

Like I said...Oh boy oh boy ohboyohboyohboy! I'll post my tasting notes after the party ;-)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

M. Cosentino The Poet 2002

photo © Linda Blakely 2007

This is the third bottle in about a year that Tom and I have tried. The first bottle was pretty dreadful, to be quite honest. We drank it after we first purchased it. The second bottle was drunk about 6 months later, and it was marginal at best. This time it's better. It has softened with time in the bottle and has developed more flavor.

The Poet is a Napa blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. I get hints of anise on the nose, followed by stewed dark fruits (cherries, plums). At first sip it's a bit on the astringent side, but after a minute or two in the glass it gets much more palatable. It's full and round in the mouth, with flavors of fruit and vanilla. Nice lengthy finish here, too.

This is a wine that truly benefited with bottle aging.