Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sauvignon Blanc Tasting Highlights.

Friday night, the lovely Miguel hosted a sauvignon blanc tasting. Its not my first choice of grape (nor many other attendees) which, i guess, made it a great theme for a tasting. The results, according to my fuzzy memories of the evening:

The wine for your "i don't like wine" friends: King Shag Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand. $5.99
(Trader Joe's exclusive, thus, i can't provide any fancy winery page... because no one knows exactly where it comes from. Well, except for the secret service men in the buying department. )
The label of this wine features an adorable penguin looking bird, which i think accounts for about 1/2 its sales. Any how, this bottle could easily be mistaken for peach schnapps. Okay, so, perhaps I'm being a bit hyperbolic, but... the lasting memory of have of it is "PEACH". As a result, it comes off as sweet, and obviously, extremely fruity. It gets bonus points for boldness, but is also lacking any subtle flavor nuances.
The "best in show" underdog: Fetzer Sauvignon Blanc, Valley oaks, California. $6.49
I didn't have very high expectations for this bottle; Fetzer is a major producer-- a little two major for me to believe they run a tight enough ship to make quality wines in the quantity that they do (a quick peruse of their web site says they hit 2.2 million case production 16 years ago) Given all that- this bottle really towed the line in my opinion. It wasn't over powering, like the King Shag was, nor was it as flat and one dimensional as the Night Harvest. It was fairly well rounded, with flavors that hit most of the palate. As another Fetzer side note, they appear to be really excited about organic and sustainable farming, which is twice as impressive given what a large operation they run.

The expected "Best in Show": Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand. $10.49
Nobilo was the most expensive wine in the room, and likely also the one with the highest expectations and best reputation. As their website will tell you, its clean, fresh, with a hit of fruit and light acidity. It is admirably lacking the sugary quality that so often sneaks up in the cheaper versions of this grape. And of course, the Marlborough region of New Zealand is known almost exclusively for its excellent Sauvignon blancs, and this one is no exception. It would be a great summer porch wine. As compared to the Fetzer? This guy cleaner and better rounded. However, as Sauvignon Blanc is my personal 3rd choice of white grape, this guy is on reserve for special occasions and the Fetzer is the one I would keep in the fridge for daily use.

The unexpected low score: Night Harvest Sauvignon Blanc by RH Phillips, California. $8.99
Lets start this off with some background: I have an mostly unfounded respect for PH Phillips because my parents have a poster of their other line of wines, Toasted Head, Hanging in their office. Its a cool logo, for sure, and, it was a sorta revolutionary new production method when they released the line: they literally "toasted" (read:burned) the heads (ends) of the oak barrels the wine was aged in. This happened about ten years ago now, and it made major waves in the California wine world at the time. people were excited. Including my dad, who loved the toasted head chardonnay enough to buy the poster. Night Harvest is RH Phillips new/re branding (I'm not sure which... the website doesn't really clarify anything). It appears to be a sort of "lower line" to off set the roughly $14 a bottle Toasted Head line. SO, perhaps now you understand why I had perhaps exorbitant hopes for this wine. If you just want to know how the wine tasted and don't want to read my stories, start here. In a word,it's Flat. It hung heavy around the middle palate, with out much of a front or finish. Additionally, the middle palate flavor wasn't much to speak of: very one dimensional. I especially for nearing the $10 range, I expected much more. I have back up on this one, as no one I talked to the next day had anything outstanding to say about it.
As a note, yes, they actually do harvest the grapes at night. I know you were dying to know.

Other wines present included Trader Joe's French Market, Trader Joe's Costal, and Charles Shaw versions, as well as the Mondavi Fume Blanc and a Trader Joe's pouilly fume. All of which I either didn't try or neglected to make a lasting memory of, and for that, I apologize.

A note self/other who want to taste 8-10 in an evening: eat the cheese and crackers, or you won't make it home.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Carmen Reserva Carmenere Cab

The new wine love of my life is the Carmen vinyards (Chile) Carmenere cab blend. It's about a $15 bottle, but Trader Joe's brought it in on a one time buy for $6.99. I bought the last bottle today... and boy, is it delightful.
Its got a deep berry and curent nose with a hint of pipe tabacco and smoke (cedar).
Its got smooth tannins, a touch of spice, suble berry flavors and a smoky finish. Thin legs. Delightful i say, delightful. It actually tastes like a $15 bottle of wine.
Also, amazing with a smooth dark chocolate.
sigh. (yes, i am swooning in to my glass)

Alex is Sick Food

1 Tbs or so butter, the best you got
1.5 cups or so mushrooms-- porchini, Shitakke, and Cremini
1 lb chicken, cut in to strips
2 c. Broth ( 1 not enough) ( cornstarch to thicken)
.5-1 cup white wine, dry

serving method, cooked-- egg noodles or mashed potatoes

steep porchini in hot broth until rehydrated. Drain mushrooms, reserve broth.

Melt butter in large frying pan. Add mushrooms, cook atleast 10 minutes so the butter is absorbed, and the mushrooms are starting to brown. Meanwhile, in a different pan, heat 1/2 inch broth till boiling. Add chicken,s&p and thyme. simmer until mostly cooked. Add entire contents of chicken frying pan to Mushroom frying pan when chicken is mostly done and mushrooms are soft and brown. Add any extra broth and wine. Continue to simmer, add cornstarch to thicken in to gravy.

serve over starch.