Snowzilla Day 1: A Few Inches and a Bouchaine Cabernet

Snowzilla 2016: Day 1 -- Our backyard as the snow started and then again around 7:30pm, along with our last measure of the night.

Snowzilla 2016: Day 1 — Our backyard as the snow started and then again around 7:30pm, along with our last measure of the night.

**Here is my blog post about Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 1), Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 2)Snowzilla Day 3and Snowzilla Day 4**

As Monday January 18 started, so did the rumblings that DC might get a really big snowstorm at the end of the week. In fact, everyone was so focused on Friday’s impending storm that very little attention was paid to the 1-3 inches that were predicted for mid-week. Thankfully, I walk to work, so I wasn’t one of the unfortunate Washingtonians who had more than a 7-hour drive home on icy, untreated roads, but I definitely heard the stories. The debacle of Wednesday started panic about what was in store for the more than 2 feet of snow that was expected later in the week. By the time Friday rolled around, my office decided we could all work from home in the morning and then we would close in the afternoon when the federal government closed.

The snow started around 1:30pm, and by the time we did our last shoveling of the night, there were still only a few inches on the ground. However, like most Washingtonians, we were prepared for Snowzilla. We made sure there was enough “snow day” type food, but also some well-planned out wine options. On that first night, Hubby made homemade tomato sauce with brown rice pasta, and I opened up a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from one of my wine clubs that I’d been saving.

2012 Bouchaine Landucci Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – At $70, this small production red wine from is a great option for special occasions. It’s easy to drink, very food friendly, and incredibly delicious. Cheers! Ratings 5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.comThe 2012 Bouchaine Landucci Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) is from the Combsville area of Napa, California. The wine was a deep purple color. On the nose, there were a lot of dark fruits–black plums, blackberries, and black cherries–mixed with a hint of baking spices. In the mouth, there were black plums and cherries mixed with cinnamon and hints of nutmeg and smoke. The wine was full bodied with good acid and tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $70, there is no doubt that this wine is expensive, but it’s also absolutely delicious. Only 505 cases were produced, so it’s small production, and it’s a wine that is very enjoyable now, but also has enough structure and flavor that it could be cellared for at least another 5 years. Unfortunately, when I went to go buy another couple of bottles to hold onto for a while, it looks like the winery is already sold out.

Spaghetti and sauce for Snowzilla night 1The wine was one I drank leisurely through the first night of the blizzard. It was a nice accompaniment to Hubby’s homemade sauce, and it was the perfect for cuddling up on the couch in front of a fire after our last round of shoveling for the night.

Overall, at this price range, this is a special occasion type of wine. And, if you’re looking for that special bottle, particularly one to go with a hearty meal or vibrant conversation, this is a wine you should consider.

Question of the Day:  Do you live in an area that gets a lot of snow?  Is alcohol something that you stock up on in your snowstorm preparations?  What’s your go-to snow day choice?

Price: $70
Purchased at Bouchaine Vineyards Wine Club
Overall: 5 Corks

At Anthony Road

John Martini, owner of Anthony Road Wine Company, in the vineyards

John Martini, owner of Anthony Road Wine Company, in the vineyards

The second day of the 2015 Wine Bloggers’ Conference pre-excursion started at Anthony Road Winery. Anthony Road is on the west side of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. The current owners, Ann and John Martini, planted their first grapes at the vineyard in 1973. They initially sold their grapes, but, in 1990, decided to start making their own wine and opened Anthony Road Winery. Now the family-run business grows grapes at two different vineyard sites and produces its own wine.

Me and wine barrels at Anthony Road Wine Company

Me and wine barrels at Anthony Road Wine Company

John Martini took us to the vineyard that is part of the Cornell Cooperative Extension: Finger Lakes Grape Program. The program conducts research and provides the grape and wine industry in the region with information on a variety of different topics, and this vineyard is part of research on the practicality and sustainability of growing Gruner Veltliner in the Finger Lakes.

Bottling at Anthony Road Wine Company

Bottling at Anthony Road Wine Company

We returned from the vineyard to a glass of the 2014 Anthony Road Cabernet Franc Rose. With glass in hand, we were then off to see the winery operations, getting an up close view of the stainless steel tanks and oak barrels, as well as watching the winery’s bottle process in action. After that, we had a chance to taste some of the other Anthony Road wines and enjoy the beautiful scenery. It was a great way to start the day!

2014 Anthony Road Cabernet Franc Rosé

2014 Anthony Road Cabernet Franc Rosé

2014 Anthony Road Cabernet Franc Rosé ($18)
Beautiful color with a vibrant nose and good fruit flavors–mostly strawberry and cherry. The wine was light-bodied with bright acidity. It was a good summer wine that would pair nicely with cheese.
3.5 Corks

2014 Anthony Road Unoaked Chardonnay

2014 Anthony Road Unoaked Chardonnay

2014 Anthony Road Unoaked Chardonnay ($17)
Very pale lemon yellow. There were some green apples along with a hint of pears, pineapple, and something minerally. The wine was light-to-medium bodied. An easy sipper.
3.5 Corks

2014 Anthony Road Skin Fermented Chardonnay

2014 Anthony Road Skin Fermented Chardonnay

2014 Anthony Road Skin Fermented Chardonnay (price not listed on Internet)
This wine was reminiscent of its unoaked counterpart, but in a way I didn’t enjoy as much. It had a medium lemon yellow color with some green apples and pears on the nose. In the mouth, there were apples and something bitter. The wine had a medium body and acidity.
3 Corks

2014 Anthony Road Dry Riesling

2014 Anthony Road Dry Riesling

2014 Anthony Road Dry Riesling ($18)
Lots of citrus–oranges and grapefruits, along with a hint of lemon and lime–mixed with white flowers. There was also some minerality. The wine had a light-to-medium body and good acidity. This vintage is sold out, but I ended up buy some of the 2013 vintage, which I will review separately.
4 Corks

2014 Anthony Road Skin Fermented Riesling

2014 Anthony Road Skin Fermented Riesling

2014 Anthony Road Skin Fermented Riesling(price not listed on Internet)
For as much as I liked the dry Riesling, I disliked the skin fermented one. In fact, this was my least favorite of the wines, mixing some baking spices with citrus and apple notes.
2.5 Corks

A taste of the 2008 Vignoles Trockenbeeren

A taste of the 2008 Vignoles Trockenbeeren

2008 Vignoles Trockenbeeren ($75)
Pure lusciousness. It was full of tropical fruits–mango and pineapple–along with apple and pear notes. It was full-bodied with nice acidity.
4.5 Corks

Question of the Day:  Do you visit wineries or breweries?  Do you think it changes your opinion of the wine or beer?

Sunday Baking: Thumbprint Jam Cookies & Australian Grenache

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

Happy Spring, everyone!  I’m sorry for falling way behind in blogging, but I was traveling for work and just couldn’t get it all done.  I’m back, though, as is Sunday baking!

I never had a chance to write about the Valentine’s Day cookies I made.  Admittedly, Hubby and I aren’t big Valentine’s Day people, but I do enjoy the festive cookies, so with the holiday being on a Saturday this year, I made cookies the week before Valentine’s Day and the week following it.

Thumbprint jam cookies

Thumbprint jam cookies

My first batch was a Valentine’s Day Thumbprint Cookie.  I’ve been working on perfected a plain thumbprint cookie base, as thumbprints are perfect for almost any occasion and can be filled with all kinds of goodies–jam, Hershey’s kisses, mini Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cups, Rolos.  The possibilities are endless, but only if the cookie base is good.  And, I think I’m finally there.  I modified the recipe I found on Simply Recipes, and the cookies stayed true to form (my Christmas thumbprints spread out flat), had a nice consistency, and tasted like a cookie without being overly sweet.  I used an apple-pomegranate jam that I bought from a local jelly maker, as I thought both the color and the flavors would be perfect for Valentine’s Day

2010 Angove Family Winemakers Warboys Vineyard Grenache

2010 Angove Family Winemakers Warboys Vineyard Grenache

To pair with the cookies, I opened the 2010 Angove Family Winemakers Warboys Grenache (winery, snooth), which is from the McLaren Vale in Australia.  The wine was a deep ruby with flecks of purple.  On the nose, there were roses and cherries mixed with hints of strawberries and lavender.  In the mouth, there were cherries and vanilla mixed with white pepper, a smoky cedar box, and flowers.  The wine was medium-to-full bodied with good acidity and tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for?  When I received this as a sample, the prices were about half of what they are now.  The current vintage is selling on Wine.com for $66.  At $33, this wine would be a steal…at $66 it’s still worth the price, but becomes less of an every day wine.  The 2010 vintage still needed to breathe a little, but once it opened up, there were some beautiful, unusual flavors.  The wine was exactly what an Australian wine should be—fruit forward without being jammy, well-balanced, and complex.

Overall, the cookies were a nice take on the thumbprint with jam and will definitely be a recipe I make again.  And, the apple-pomegranate jam helped tie the cookies together with the fruity flavors of the wine to make an absolutely delicious pairing!

Question of the Day: Do you travel for work?  Does your “after work” drinking change while you’re on the road? 

Valentine’s Day Jam Thumbprint Cookies
(*adapted from Simply Recipes)
Yields: 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup jam (I used Let’s Jam! Appom, which is an apple-pomegranate jam from a jam maker at DC’s Eastern Market)
  • Sprinkles, sanding sugar, or nuts if you want to decorate the cookies

Directions

  • In medium bowl, mix together flour and salt. Set aside.
  • In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
  • Separate the eggs. (If using sprinkles, sanding sugar, or nuts, reserve the egg whites in a small dish and whisk until frothy, as the eggs whites will be used to make everything stick to the dough).
  • Add the yolks, and mix until combined.
  • Add vanilla, and mix until combined.
  • On low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just blended (about 30 seconds).
  • Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats and place in refrigerator to chill.
  • Take a rounded tablespoon of chilled dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1-inch balls.
  • If using sprinkles, sanding sugar, or nuts, dip the balls into the egg whites then roll them into the sprinkles, sanding sugar, or nuts until covered.
  • Place cookies on lined, chilled cookie sheets. Keep cookies about 2 inches apart
  • Press to flatten slightly, then press your thumb into the center to make a small well for the jam (do not press too hard or the cookie will crack and fall apart).
  • Fill the small well with 1/2 a teaspoon of jam
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until slightly firm.
  • Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Suggested Retail Price: $66
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Sunday Baking: A Pomerol & Double Chocolate Cookies

2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise CorkWhile the new house has been renovated inside, many of the walls and open spaces are awkwardly sized.  Since we’re having trouble finding shelving and furniture to fit the space, Hubby and I have decided to do a number of small do-it-yourself projects like building shelves, an deck box for outside, etc.  As you can imagine, though, these projects require spending an inordinate amount of time at Home Depot.  There is at least one trip a weekend, and often there are more.  The first weekend in February was one of those two-trips kind of weekend, not to mention a trip Bed, Bath, & Beyond, World Market, and Michael’s Arts & Crafts.  We spent the whole day running errands.  Hubby and  I are not big football people, so we skipped the Superbowl in favor of before coming home to an evening of sorting through everything and baking cookies.   And, of course, there was a good bottle of wine to go along with the activities.

2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise

2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise

The 2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise (winery, snooth) is from Pomerol, which is on the Right Bank in Bordeaux, France.  The wine is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes, and had a dark ruby color with a garnet rim.  On the nose, there were blackcurrants, roses, and hints of cedar and meat.  In the mouth, there were dark berries, meats, and cedar mixed with hints of licorice and chocolate.  The wine was medium-to-full bodied with medium tannins and acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At an SRP of $60, this bottle of wine was fantastic.  Admittedly, though, this is when my impatience gets the better of me.  The winery recommends that it continue to be cellared for several more years, and after having tasted the wine, I can only imagine how beautiful it would have been if I had let it continue to age.

2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise and Double Chocolate OriolosHowever, I didn’t let it age.  This wine was actually given to Hubby and me as a present from our loan officer at the closing of our new house, so opening it after a successful day of doing house stuff seemed appropriate.  Once the wine had a little bit of a chance to breathe, it was incredibly food-friendly.  I paired it with Hubby’s homemade meatloaf and roasted potatoes, which was a great pairing as the wine was flavorful and savory enough to stand up to the big flavors of the dinner.  After dinner, I baked the Double Chocolate Oriolos, which made for a very different, but equally delicious pairing.  I actually enjoyed the wine enough that I will

Overall, the cookies weren’t anything particularly different, but they were easy to make and were a big hit in the office.  The wine, on the other hand, offered something a little more special than usual, which was a nice treat on a Sunday night.  I actually enjoyed it so much that I’m planning to go to Schneider’s of Capitol Hill and buy several bottles, both to drink now and to cellar for later.  Together, the pairing of the wine and the cookies was a huge success.

Question of the Day: Did you watch the Superbowl?  Is it the type of event where you think about opening wine or is it strictly a beer drinking night?

 

Double Chocolate OriolosDouble Chocolate Oriolos
(*adapted from Rose Levy Beranabum’s recipe in The Baking Bible)
Yields: about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1/2  cup walnut halves
  • 10 tablespoons butter (1 1/4 sticks)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup powered sugar (lightly spooned and leveled off)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup bleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (for coating)

Walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • Spread walnuts evenly on baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times to toast evenly.
  • Once done toast, put on clean dish towel and rub to loosen skins.
  • Break nuts into bowl, discarding the skins.
  • Let cool.

Dough

  • In food processor, mix walnuts, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, powdered sugar, salt, and cocoa powder until walnuts are finely ground.
  • Add butter.
  • Pulse until butter has absorbed the cocoa mixture.
  • Add flour.
  • Pulse until there are a lot of moist, crumbly pieces and no dry flour.
  • Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats and place in refrigerator to chill.
  • In small bowl, place granulated sugar for coating.
  • Remove 1 of the dough halves to begin shaping cookies.
  • Take a rounded tablespoon of chilled dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1-inch balls.
  • Roll balls in sugar mixture until coated.
  • Place cookies on lined, chilled cookie sheets.  Keep cookies about 2 inches apart and press them down so that each is about 1/2 inch high.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes.
  • Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack

 

Price: $60
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Sunday Baking: Malbec & “My Chocolate Chip Cookies”

2008 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Mirador Malbec with Rose Levy Beranbaum's "My Chocolate Chip Cookies"

2008 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Mirador Malbec with Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “My Chocolate Chip Cookies”

I love to bake, but for a long time didn’t indulge because I didn’t have the right equipment.  My mother in law bought be a Kitchen Aid stand mixer last Christmas, so for the last year, I’ve been baking cookies almost every week for my coworkers and my brother.  I decided this was better than baking weekly cookies for Hubby and me because neither of us needed to go through that many cookies.  Plus, I love to share the latest baking experiment with others.  Sure, between vacations and work travel, there have been a few missed weeks in there, but it’s been pretty consistent.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that somewhere along the way, I started posting the pictures under the hashtag #SundayBaking.  However, the cookies never really intersected with the purpose of A Glass After work, so I kept it all on Instagram.  And, then the pairing happened…

I don’t know why it took me so long to open a bottle of wine or beer while baking, but it wasn’t until October when I was drinking Terrapin Beer Company’s Pumpkinfest while making Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies that it hit me.  Since then, most of my cookie baking has been combined with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer, and I’ve decided it’s time to share those awith you through a new weekly post…Sunday Baking.

My Chocolate Chip Cookies and The Baking Bible by Rose Lvy BeranI’m on a quest to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie dough, so I decided to start from scratch with a traditional chocolate chip cookie.  My friend (and amazing photographer), Kami, gave me Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Baking Bible for the holidays this year, so that seemed like a good place to start.  The cookies were really good, but not perfect, so I’ll continue to tweak the recipe and share as I do.  However, they paired beautifully with the Malbec I opened.

The 2008 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Mirador Malbec (winery, snooth) is from Mendoza, Argentina and is made with 100% Malbec grapes.  The wine was a deep purple with flecks of ruby, particularly on the rim.  On the nose, there were plums, cherries, and hints of flowers.  In the mouth, there were plums, cherries, and violets mixed with baking spices.  The wine had a full body, medium-to-high tannins, and medium-to-high acidity.

2008 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Mirador Malbec

2008 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Mirador Malbec

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for?  At $80 a bottle, this wine is expensive, but worth every penny.  Admittedly, I received it as a birthday present a few years ago, and after some research, decided to wait to open it in hopes that the characteristics would mellow—and they did.  This wine is in prime drinking form and would be perfect with a nice steak dinner.

Admittedly, The Finca Mirador is too expensive to normally open while baking cookies.  However, I threw a little caution to the wind because it seemed like the perfect timing, since it’s the new year and I’m baking in our new house.  The wine was a little something special on a fairly normal day, and it made for a delicious pairing.  Afterwards, I continued to enjoy the wine in front of our fireplace, and there’s nothing quite like a relaxing evening with a fantastic wine and a nice fire.

While the bottle is too expensive for an every day wine and is out of the price range for many people, if you see it in the store, you should grab it.  It’s luscious and smooth, easy to drink, and is the epitome of a big, beautiful wine.

Question of the Day: Do you have a chocolate chip cookie recipe that you love?  Do you every combine drinking and baking?

2008 Achaval Ferrer Malbec cork

Price: $80
Overall: 4.5 Corks