Feb 202013
 

Because I ended the year so far behind in my blogging, I haven’t had much of a chance to write about my new job.  My first day was actually at the beginning of September, and almost 6 months into the new job, I’m loving it…like really and truly loving it.  And, I knew by the end of the first week that I was going to love it.  I celebrated by deciding to give Chateau Montelena’s Cabernet Sauvignon a second chance.

As long time readers know, I used to work for the U.S. Congress.  Back in 2010, I opened a bottle of Chateau Montelena to celebrate my move from the House to the Senate and was disappointed.  But, after talking with several people I trusted, it sounded like I didn’t pick the best vintage to open and that I needed to give the wine a second chance,.  So, after almost 10 years of working for Congress, what better opportunity to try another bottle than when celebrating my new job in the private sector?

2009 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon

2009 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2009 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon (winery, Amazon) is from Napa Valley, California and is made 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc grapes.  The wine had a deep ruby color.  On the nose, there were black cherries and plums with a hint of cedar, vanilla, and smoke.  In the mouth, there were black cherries, plums, cedar, and smoke mixed with hints of vanilla and nutmeg.  The wine had a medium-to-full body, medium-to-big tannins, and medium-to-high acidity,

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for?  At $53, this wine is obviously not one of my everyday bottles, but it certainly was a nice way to celebrate my new job.  It had beautiful balance and was perfect with the grilled filet mignon and steamed broccoli Hubby made for dinner.  This bottle actually lasted me a couple of days, and while it definitely mellowed out by day two, it was still very drinkable and very enjoyable.

Additionally, for those of you looking for a wine to hold onto for 8-10 years, I think this would be a great candidate.  Most of what this young wine had to offer now was vibrant fruit, but it certainly hinted at complex development with all the vanilla, smoke, cedar, and spice that was in the background.  Plus, with such strong tannins and nice body, there is a lot of room for this wine to grow.

So, all in all, I’m thrilled that I gave Chateau Montelena a second chance.  And, while I don’t plan on starting a new job any time soon, when I do have something job related to celebrate, I will be searching out a Montelena Cab to help.

Price: $53
Purchased at Arrowine
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Apr 192012
 
2009 Dalton Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

2009 Dalton Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Last Monday was a one of those days where everything just seemed to go wrong.  I got a late start leaving the condo, ended up on a broken metro train that had to be offloaded at one of the most crowded metro stops, and walked into work late to see the emails already piled up because I forgot to charge my Blackberry over the weekend.  I actually thought it would be a quiet day, since it was the Monday after Easter, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  To top it off, the day ended with an ominous email from the Boss, which meant I left work not knowing what Tuesday would have in store.  By the time I walked back into the door Monday night, I was ready for a glass of wine and for the day to end.

The 2009 Dalton Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (winery) was from the Galilee region of Israel and had a dark ruby color.  On the nose, there were juicy black plums mixed with hints of chocolate and eucalyptus.  In the mouth, there were black plums, blackberries, and hints of chocolate, earth, and eucalyptus.  The wine had a medium-to-full body, medium-to-big tannins, and a medium body.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $36, this wine is a little on the pricey side for an everyday wine, although being that it is a kosher wine, I’m willing to dig a little deeper into my wallet for good quality.  I paired this wine with my matzo lasagna, which probably wasn’t the best combination, although it wasn’t the worst either.  The wine definitely needed to breathe a little, and by the time I was ready to knit and watch the latest episode of Castle, it opened up nicely.  All in all, it was a solidly good wine, particularly after a stressful day of work.

Question of the Day: Are you willing to pay a little more for a wine that you know will be good?  Are you willing to pay more for a kosher wine?

Price: $36
Purchased at Gotham Wines & Liquors
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Mar 232012
 

Last year, while putting together my Passover 2011 Top 5 Kosher wine list, I realized I was sorely lacking in white and sparkling wine recommendations.  In fact, not only were all of my recommendations red wines, they were all Israeli red wines.  What was most unfortunate about this was that it wasn’t from a lack of trying non-Israeli, non-red wines.  It was just that none of them were any good.  On some level, it makes sense that Israeli winemakers are rocking the kosher wine market, but that didn’t change my desire to branch out a little.  So, I spent the last year on a mission to find good kosher wines from elsewhere in the world, particularly ones that were sparkling or white and help round out my kosher wine options.

My quest paid off.  While I still prefer kosher reds to kosher bubbly and kosher whites, I found a few California and Italian options to add to my recommendations.  That said, I still feel I have a dearth of kosher white-and-sparkling wine recommendations, which means my search continues.  If you have any ideas, please share them by leaving a comment or sending me an email.

The first night of Passover is two weeks away, so as you start thinking about your menu and your wine options, here are my Passover 2012 Top 5 kosher wine recommendations:

 

Borgo Reale Prosecco

Borgo Reale Prosecco

#5
The Borgo Reale Prosecco is a mevushal sparkling wine from Italy.  It had light citrus and yeast aromas that were mixed with a hint of apple.  The sparkler paired nicely with fish, but was particularly enjoyable when mixed with some orange juice.  That makes this sparkler a fun addition to the Passover Seder, as well as a good way to celebrate the guests leaving on Sunday morning.  I gave this bubbly 3 corks and purchased it for $18.

 

 

2008 Bartenura Nebbiolo

2008 Bartenura Nebbiolo

#4
The 2008 Bartenura Nebbiolo was made with 100% certified organic Nebbiolo grapes.  It had a nice mix of red fruits and violets, along with a hint of tobacco that gave the wine a slightly different character. It’s very food-friendly and will go particularly with Italian dishes like my spinach matzo lasagna.  I have this wine 3.5 corks and, while it was a sample, it retails for about $17.

 

 

2009 Covenant Lavan Chardonnay

2009 Covenant Lavan Chardonnay

#3
The 2009 Covenant Lavan Chardonnay had nice complexity, good balance, and the slightest hint of oak.  There were good citrus fruits mixed with pears, apricots, and vanilla, as well as a hint of ginger and cloves that gave the wine a nice complexity.  It was food-friendly and would be a nice way to start of a Passover dinner, but it also drinks well on its own if you just want to enjoy it with guests before sitting down to start the Sedar.  I gave this wine 4 Corks and purchased it for $37.

 

 

2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

#2
The 2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon was made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  Black fruits dominated the wine, and it had a nice smoothness and balance to it.  The wine promised to age nicely and is one that I can’t wait to pair with my Nana’s brisket.  I gave this wine 4.5 corks and purchased it for $16.

 

 

2007 Covenant Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Covenant Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

#1
The 2007 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon is a California Cabernet that will knock your socks off, whether you’re looking for a kosher wine or not.  It was full of cedar, smoke, and black fruits, but also had hints of spices that gave it a complexity that was particularly enjoyable.  The wine was food-friendly, so it would be perfect for a Seder or holiday dinner, but it’s so luscious and tantalizing, that it’s also quite enjoyable on its own.  While the fruit characteristics dominate right now, I think this is a wine that will age nicely over the next 10 years, so be sure to buy a bottle to enjoy now and one to open in the future.  I think it will be worth the wait. I gave this wine 5 corks and purchased it for $70.

Question of the Day: Have you started thinking about your Passover or Easter wines yet?

Mar 222012
 

Unfortunately, as I’m putting together this year’s Passover wine list, I haven’t seen major kosher wine sales from any of the big online wine stores.  This means that I’m not going to be as fortunate as I was in the Fall when Lot18 offered an impressive listing of Covenant Wines at nice discounts—both the main label Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, as well as the second label Red C Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc were available.  I couldn’t have been more excited.   My first experience with Covenant Wines was in May 2011 when I reviewed the 2009 Lavan Chardonnay, and what a Chardonnay it was.  After tasting that wine, I knew I had to try their others, and the Lot18 listing was the perfect opportunity.  So, for the 2011 High Holidays, I bought everything Lot18 had to offer, but I was most excited about the Cabernet Sauvignon (I’m glad I take very detailed notes, since I’m obviously behind on blogging about this wine!).

2007 Covenant Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Covenant Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2007 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) was a deep purple hinting towards ruby with some iridescence on the rim.  On the nose, there was smoke and cedar with some hints of dark plums, menthol, and nutmeg.  In the mouth, there was smoke, cedar, dark plums, cherries, and a touch of nutmeg.  The wine had medium-to-full body, medium tannins, and medium acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for?  At $70, this wine was definitely not an everyday wine, but its lush silkiness is worth the splurge for a special occasion or for one of those nights where you just know you want something a little extra in your wine.

I actually enjoyed this wine over a two-day period.  The first was a Saturday night with a couple of my wine ladies, as one of them was celebrating her birthday.  It was the first kosher wine either of them had ever tasted.  Both ladies admitted to associating kosher wine low quality, sweet wine, and then quickly followed the comment up with the fact that they would never have guessed the Covenant Cab was a kosher wine because of their preconceived expectations.  In fact, they both agreed it was one of the best Cabernets either of them had ever tasted.

The second night I spent with this wine was a Sunday evening at home, full of blogging, knitting, and watching Boardwalk Empire.  This is clearly a wine the benefited from a little breathing time, as it was even more enjoyable on the second night.  Each sip was so seductive, it just left me wanting more.

So, if you’re looking for an amazing Cabernet and don’t mind digging a little deeper into your wallet, this is a wine that won’t disappoint.  I didn’t have the chance to pair it with food, but it’s a food-friendly wine that could transition nicely into an evening on the couch while digesting and gabbing.  All the way around, it’s worth overlooking the cost and giving it try.  You won’t be disappointed.

Question of the Day: What price range are you comfortable hitting for a “splurge” wine?  Do you approach shopping for those splurge wines differently than you approach shopping for an everyday wine?

Price: $70
Purchased at Lot18
Overall: 5 Corks

Mar 212012
 

Today is Wine Blogging Wednesday!  For those of you who are new to WBW, it is one of my favorite times of the month because it means bloggers everywhere write a post around a common wine theme.  Over the years, I’ve participated in several WBWs (here, here, herehere, and here), and it’s always fun for me as both a blogger and a reader because not only learn about new wines, but also see the different ways wine bloggers approach the same theme.

This month, 1WineDude is hosting WBW #75—“Singles Night,” which means we’re all blogging about wines made from grapes that come from a single vineyard.  Joe explains that, for him, “One of the most special aspects of wine is that I can connect you with a particular time (a vintage) and a particular place on earth (a vineyard). Few other foodstuffs can offer such magic, so on March 21st we’re going to go big for numero 75 and celebrate both.”

2008 Sineann Lazare Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 Sineann Lazare Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

With WBW in mind, Hubby and I hit the wine store on Saturday after finishing up a long, but productive, day of errands.  Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, as well as our “meetiversary” (we met 8 years ago on St. Patty’s Day), I decided I wanted a wine that not only felt a little special, but also hinted at the holiday itself.  When I saw the Celtic-themed label on the Sineann Cabernet Sauvignon, I knew I HAD to buy it. Everything about this wine and the WBW theme screamed celebration.

The 2008 Sineann Lazare Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) was a deep, inky purplish-ruby.  On the nose, there were plums, cedar, blackberries, and blueberries.  In the mouth, there were plums, blueberries, blackberries, cedar, and hints of tobacco and anise.  The wine had a medium body, medium tannins, high acidity, and high alcohol.

While I didn’t realize it when I bought the bottle, the wine came with a glass cork.  This is actually the second bottle I’ve opened in the last couple of months that has switched to glass (the first is a Humanitas wine, which I will review in the next few weeks).  I’m very intrigued by the glass cork/stopper in wine, particularly as the two wines I’ve tried that used one were big reds that held up nicely over a couple of days once the glass cork was replaced.

Sineann Glass Wine StopperIs this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $40, this wine is a little expensive for an “everyday” wine, but since I wanted something a little more celebratory, it did the trick.  The alcohol was a little overpowering at first taste, but once the wine had a chance to breathe, it calmed down.  By my second night with this wine, the alcohol had toned down enough that it was a truly luscious, enjoyable, well-balanced red.

Admittedly, I’m not sure the “single vineyard-ness” of the wine spoke to me in particular, although the wine definitely did, in general.  It was wonderful to enjoy through the evening, particularly that second night, while also being the perfect accompaniment to Sweet Savory Life’s Asian-inspired steak marinade, which I found on Pintrest.

 ***Special thanks to 1WineDude for hosting!***

Question of the Day:  What are your thoughts on wines with a glass cork/stopper?  Have you ever have one?

Price: $40
Purchased at Arrowine
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Oct 062011
 

The first two days of Rosh Hashanah are important religious days, but they aren’t very what I consider a “fun” way to celebrate the New Year.  Hubby lucked out that I had to be at synagogue by 9am because it meant that I dropped him off at work instead of his having to take the metro.  Morning services were four hours long, after which I came home for a couple of hours before heading back to synagogue at 5:30.  The evening services were much shorter, and many of us ended up at the Rabbi’s house afterwards to mingle and celebrate.  Admittedly, I didn’t stay more than an hour because, while I enjoyed the services, I was ready to be home, eat dinner with Hubby, open the bottle of Cab that I was dying to try, and just relax before doing it all again on Friday.

The 2006 Red C Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with a nice, deep purplish-ruby color.  On the nose, there were blackberries, black cherries, pomegranates, and cedar.  In the mouth, there were blackberries, pomegranates, cedar, and a hint of mint.  The wine had low acidity, medium tannins, and a medium body.

This wine is actually the second label for Covenant wines.  While I haven’t reviewed Covenant’s Cabernet, I thoroughly enjoyed their Chardonnay during Passover this year, which is why I bought the Red C to begin with.  Convent’s website explains that the Red C Cabernet includes wine barrels that didn’t make it into their $90 premier label bottling, and I will say that if the Red C Cabernet wine is made from juice that isn’t “premier” quality than I’m even more excited to try the 2007 Covenant Cabernet that is sitting in my wine rack because this second label is definitely not a second place wine.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $35, this wine may be a little more expensive than what most folks want to pay for an every day wine, but if you’re willing to spend a little extra, this is a wine that’s worth thinking about regardless of whether you’re looking for something kosher.  It’s just that good.  It’s smooth.  It’s luxurious.  It’s food-friendly.  It’s everything you want from a California Cab.

I paired the wine with a soy sauce and garlic-marinated filet and steamed broccoli that Hubby made for dinner, which was a nice combination.  After dinner, I continued to enjoy the wine on its own, paring it with some knitting and an episode of Castle.  What was particularly nice about this Cab is that, while it wasn’t quiet as good two days later when I finally came back to it, the wine definitely held up well in the bottle and was still very drinkable and enjoyable.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had a kosher wine?  What did you think of it?

Price: $35
Purchased at Lot18
Overall: 4 Corks

Sep 282011
 
2008 Tahoe Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 Tahoe Cabernet Sauvignon

As our 10-days in Tahoe progressed, our hiking trips were longer and more strenuous.  Our last hiking day started at the Mt. Tallac Trailhead.  We didn’t make it to the summit of Mt. Tallac because it started to get late and the idea of being stuck on a snowy mountain in the dark just didn’t seem like a good way to end our vacation. So, we decided to turn around with about a mile to go, but we certainly had made our way into the Desolation Wilderness.  All in all, the hike had us climbing (and descending) about 2,000 ft and was about 8 miles round trip.  By the time we got back to the car, we were both ready for a shower, a good dinner, and a quiet, relaxing evening.  As accompaniment, I bought a Tahoe wine, solely based on the label.

The 2008 Tahoe Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) was a deep purple with hints of ruby on the rim, almost to the point of being iridescent.  On the nose, there were candied strawberries and a hint of black cherries.  In the mouth, there were strawberries and cherries, with a hint of pomegranates.  The wine had a medium body, light-to-medium tannins, and medium acidity.  It was actually a little sharp at first, but mellowed nicely with a little bit of air.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $15, this wine was surprisingly enjoyable for a novelty wine.  In fact, it would be a decent “house” wine and is definitely something to look up if you’re in the Tahoe area.  I had enough time to enjoy this wine over two nights, but it was sadly the last wine I had in Tahoe before heading back to DC…and real life.

Price: $15
Purchased at Après Wine Company
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Sep 222011
 

On our third day of vacation, Hubby and I planned to spend a relaxing day at the beach to recover from hiking around Heavenly ski resort.  The hiking itself wasn’t all that fun because it was mostly following the dusty ski trails, but the views at the top of the gondola (9,136 ft), at the East Peak Lookout (9, 591 ft), and at the top of the Skyline Trail (10,040 ft) were worth the walk.  Admittedly, while the trails weren’t too strenuous, the elevations were high and it was taking us a little while to get acclimated, particularly as we live at 265 ft above sea level.  That’s why I was a little taken aback when Hubby suggested going to a beach that required a 1-mile hike in.  It sounded like a quiet, beautiful location, though, so I agreed.

When we got to the parking area, there was only one parking space left and because we weren’t sure how much room there would be at the beach, we decided to hike in to scope out the place before bringing in our beach equipment.  That left us hiking 4 miles, in flip-flops, on our “off” day.  It’s a good thing Hubby picked out a gorgeous spot because I was done hiking for the day by the time we made it to the beach for the second time.  We ended up spending all day there, just relaxing and reading with the occasional quick dip in the ice-cold water to cool off.  After about 5 hours, we headed back to the hotel.  I showered and dressed quickly, this way I could open a bottle of wine and relax on the balcony for a little while Hubby cleaned up for dinner.

2007 cc: Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 cc: Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2007 cc: Cabernet Sauvignon (winery, snooth) was a deep inky purple.  On the nose, there were blackberries, smoke, and black pepper.  In the mouth, there were blackberries, cedar, smoke, and black pepper.  The wine had big, smooth tannins, high acidity, and a medium-to-full body.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for?  At $24, this wine kept the label’s promise that “I will not drink bad wine,” and did so without dipping too deep into our vacation funds.  I actually enjoyed the wine over a couple of days, and every day I was struck by how much the wine had to offer and how perfect it was for sitting on the balcony, just sipping away and enjoying the beauty of Tahoe in the early evening.  It felt like this wine was made to usher in the cooler Tahoe nights and is definitely one to keep an eye out for as we start to get into fall.

Question of the Day: Is the weather starting to get cooler where you are, and does that mean you’re changing to more full-bodied wines?

Price: $24
Purchased at Après Wine Company
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Jul 012011
 

There’s nothing like a good party on July 4th, even if the holiday falls on a Monday this year.  While I put together a BBQ wine list for Memorial Day, not all of them are American wines, and there is something special about drinking domestic wines to help celebrate Independence Day.

So, if you’re looking to have wine as you watch the Fourth of July fireworks, here is a list of wines that I’ve reviewed that are under $20, all American, and sure to be a hit.  There are 3 reds, 3 whites, and 2 rosés.

Reds

2007 Williamsburg Winery Birdies for the Brave Merlot
from Virginia

2007 Birdies for the Brave Merlot

Francis Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Collection
from California

2006 Francis Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Collection

 

2007 Chatom Vineyards Zinfandel
from California

2007 Chatom Vineyards Zinfandel

 

Whites

2008 Edna Valley Vineyard Paragon Sauvignon Blanc
from California

2008 Edna Valley Vineyard Paragon Sauvignon Blanc

 

Seven Heavenly Chardonnay
from California

Seven Heavenly Chardonnay

 

 

2010 Sawtooth Winery Riesling
from Idaho

2010 Sawtooth Winery Riesling

 

 

Rosé

2009 Merryvale Stanly Ranch Estate Rosé
from California

2009 Merryvale Stanly Ranch Estate Rose

2009 Merryvale Stanly Ranch Estate Rose

 

 

2009 Cardinal Point Rosé
from Virginia

 

 

Question of the Day: What will you be drinking on July 4th?

Apr 222011
 

This past Sunday wasn’t a workday, but it definitely was busy.  As my Twitter followers know, I’m training for a half marathon, and this past Sunday was my last long run before the big race.  It’s been 20 weeks of training, slowly building up from running 4 miles to the longest distance I’ve ever run—14 miles.  It took a couple of hours, but after finishing the run, stretching my aching muscles, rehydrating, and cleaning myself up, instead of resting, I started preparations for Passover.

The holiday didn’t start until Monday night, but Hubby and I were headed to a Seder that my family was hosting.  As you can imagine, I was in charge of the wine, so Sunday night involved some last minute tastings to determine which wines would make the cut.  Plus, there was a little cooking that I wanted to do for myself.

2005 Ella Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2005 Ella Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) was made with 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot grape and had an opaque, purplish ruby color.  On the nose, there were blackberries and pomegranates, along with something reminiscent of Listerine tabs.  In the mouth, there were blackberries, pomegranates, and cherries, followed by menthol and tobacco on the finish.  The wine had a medium body, medium tannins, and high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll have a decent, reliable glass of wine. At $30, this wine was a decent Passover Seder option.  It definitely needed to breathe a little, which helped the unpleasantness of the Listerine tab aromas blow off to create a more pleasant, minty character.  That said, there was still something in the finish that, while not a complete turnoff, definitely caused me to raise an eyebrow.

In the end, I decided not to bring this wine to dinner because it needed too much time to decant.  However, I enjoyed it as I let my muscles recover from my long run, as well as used it to make my charoset.  It also paired nicely with a baked garlic, herb, and wine chicken that Hubby made.  The wine ended up lasting me a few days, and really stood up to the test of being opened over an extended period of time.

 

Price: $30
Purchased at Arrowine
Overall: 3 Corks