Bartinney’s Cab is a Captivating Dark Angel

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

Halfway through 2015, work changed our vacation policies, leaving me with vacation days left that I needed to use by the end of the year or I would lose them. But, with the fall being as busy as it was at work, I didn’t have time to take advantage of the vacation days. Instead, I waited until December. After the legislation I had been working on since 2007 was signed into law on December 10, I began closing things out for the year, and my last day of work in 2015 was December 17. Unfortunately, since Hubby has been at his job for less than 3 years, he still doesn’t have much vacation time. So, instead of escaping DC at the end of the month, I had a 16-day staycation. On December 30, towards the end of my staycation, I scheduled a spa day for myself. After a day of much needed pampering to close out the year, I came home to open up a big red wine with the idea of just sinking into it for the evening.

2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon

2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) is made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The vineyards are located on the slopes of the Helshoogte (“Hell’s Heights”) Pass, overlooking the Banghoek Valley. The wine was a deep purplish ruby color. On the nose, there were plums and blackberries mixed with a hint of tea leaves, mint, chocolate, and cedar. In the mouth, there were dark plums and blackberries with hints of spice, black tea, and cedar. The wine was full-bodied with strong tannins and medium acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At an SRP of $20, this wine delivers everything I look for in an everyday Cabernet…and I was surprised. While I love South African wines, I tend to gravitate towards the wines that are more unique to the country like Pinotage and Chenin Blanc, and this Cabernet is proof as to why I shouldn’t do that. It’s an affordable wine that was the perfect way of ending a day of spoiling myself, but without breaking the bank to do so.

Question of the Day: Do you drink wine from South Africa?  If so, are their certain types of South African wine that you gravitate towards?

Suggested Retail Price: $20
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

Sunday Baking: A Kosher Cab & Hamentaschen

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Purim, like many Jewish holidays, it celebrates how the villain’s plot to destroy the Jewish people was foiled.  The Jews are saved, and the villain is vanquished.  The holiday takes place before Passover, and it’s very festive.  In fact, there is usually a carnival-like celebration that includes plays and costumes, and Jews are supposed to drink so much on Purim that they can’t tell the difference between the cursed Haman and the blessed Mordecai, although how much alcohol that actually is remains unclear.  And, of course, there are cookies called hamentaschen!

While I didn’t make it to a Purim carnival this year, I did make poppy seed-filled hamentaschen.  Hubby had never had them before, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take my cookie baking skills up a notch.   Admittedly, they weren’t the prettiest cookies I’ve made, but they were recognizably hamentaschen.

2010 Gamla Cabernet Sauvignon

2010 Gamla Cabernet Sauvignon

To go with the baking fun, I opened a 2010 Gamla Cabernet Sauvignon (winery, snooth).  The wine is made in the Galilee region of Israel with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  It was a very dark purple with a hint of ruby on the rim.  On the nose, there were currants, blackberries, and dark cherries with a hint of nutmeg, black pepper, and vanilla.  In the mouth, there were dark fruits mixed with nutmeg and hints of vanilla, cocoa powder, and black pepper.  The wine had a full-body, good acidity, and strong tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine/beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $17, this wine is a good everyday Cab, although it needs a little time to breathe to help take away some of the sharpness.  Finding a good kosher red wine under $20 continues to be challenge for me,so I was pleased to find this one.  It was enjoyable on its own, and I imagine it would pair nicely with a heavier dish like pasta and truffle sauce or beef ribs.  This wine also has a little bit of aging potential, so if you have the space, it may be worth buying a bottle to drink now, as well as a second bottle to enjoy in two or three years.

The cookies ended up being a big hit at work, particularly with my coworkers who had never tried hamentaschen before, but they were not such a hit at home.  Hubby ate one, said he was glad he tried it, and left the rest for me to take to work.  I thought they turned out well, and the poppy seed filling was a good match for the Gamla Cabernet.  All in all, it wasn’t the best pairing I’ve done, but it wasn’t the worst one either.

Question of the Day: Have you had a kosher red wine that you’ve enjoyed lately? (I’d love to hear your recommendations!)

Hamantaschen with Poppy Seed Filling
(*adapted from Rose Levy Beranabum’s recipe in The Baking Bible)

Ingredients for Poppy Seed Filling

  • 3/4 cup poppy seed
  • 1/1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons apricot jam

Directions for Poppy Seed Filling

  • In a spice mill or blender, grind the poppy seeds. They will fluff to about 1 cup.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the milk
  • Add the poppy seeds, stirring until milk is absorbed (a few seconds).
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add sugar, honey, lemon zest, and 1 Tablespoon jam.
  • Cool at room temperature.

Ingredients for Egg Glaze

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons milk

Directions for Egg Glaze

  • In small bowl, whisk yolk and milk.
  • Strain the mixture into another small bowl, pushing it through the strainer with the back of a spoon.
  • Discard the thicker part that does not pass through.

Ingredients for Dough

  • 1 stick butter, cold
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Hamentaschen and wine corkDirections for Cookies

  • In medium bowl, mix together flour and salt. Set aside.
  • In small bowl, mix together egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Set aside
  • Grind sugar in food processor until fine,
  • Cube the cold butter.
  • Add to food processor and pulse until sugar disappears.
  • Add flour mixture and pulse until the butter is no larger than small peas.
  • Add egg-cream-vanilla mixture and pulse until just incorporated, about 8 times. Dough should be crumbly pieces.
  • Place dough in plastic bag or on large sheet of plastic wrap and press until it holds together.
  • Knead a few times until it becomes one smooth piece and ensure there is no visible pieces of butter.
  • Press into ball.
  • Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  • Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit for 5 minutes or until you can roll it without cracking the dough.
  • Using floured rolling pin on a floured surface, roll dough into 1/2 inch thick rectangle.
  • Cut out 3-inch discs of dough
  • Place cookies on lined, chilled cookie sheets. Keep cookies about 2 inches apart.
  • Brush outer 1/2 inch of dish with thin coating of egg glaze (it’s not necessary to cover all the dough).
  • Place 1-2 teaspoons of poppy seed filling into the center of disc
  • Fold disc into triangle (Tori Avey has easy to follow directions on how to fold properly).
  • Brush outside of dough with thin coating of egg glaze for shine.
  • Once formed, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to help hold shape when baking.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F.
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes; rotate cookie sheet; bake for another 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Price: $17
Purchased at
Overall: 4 Corks

Sunday Baking: The 337 Cab & Red Velvet Hearts

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

Red Velvet Roll-Out Heart Cookies

Red Velvet Roll-Out Heart Cookies

I’m a big fan of The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle, as she makes gorgeous cookies and has fantastic tutorials.  So, when I saw her Red Velvet Roll-Out Cookies, I was dying to try them.  I used my desire to experiment as a reason to squeeze out a second week Valentine’s Day cookies this year.  Making this recipe required a little bit of planning ahead because I needed powdered buttermilk ($10 for 12oz on Amazon) and LorAnn Oils red velvet emulsion ($7 for 4oz on Amazon), but red velvet is one of my favorite things, so I was sure it was going to be worth it.

2012 Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon

As I was rolling out the dough and making the hearts, I opened a bottle of 2012 Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon (winery).  The wine was from Lodi, California and had a deep purplish, ruby color.  On the nose, there were black cherries and blackberries mixed with a hint of black pepper.  In the mouth, there were black cherries, blackberries, and hints of cedar and black pepper.  The wine was full-bodied with firm tannins and medium-to-high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At an SRP of $13 a bottle, this wine is affordable, approachable, and delicious.  I paired it with the cookies because I thought that the richer flavors of red velvet and the plush flavors of the wine would mix well together…and they did…but it wasn’t the awesome match that I’d hoped to enjoy.  I think the wine would be much better served at a BBQ with some juicy ribs or with some good friends on the patio all on its own.

That brings me to the cookies, which were sadly a bit of a disappointment and may be the reason that the pairing just didn’t click for me.  The cookies definitely needed frosting, as the flavor was lackluster without it, but even the frosting made them just ok.  I don’t know what they needed, to be honest.  Maybe more vanilla…more salt…more cocoa powder?  They needed something, though.  I need some distance from these cookies before I attempt to fix the recipe to match my taste.

Overall, the cookies were not my thing, but the wine definitely was.  Together, they made for a fun Sunday evening of baking, and the cookies were definitely better with the wine, but in the case, I would stick to the Noble Vines 337 Cab and pass on the red velvet roll-out cookies.

Question of the Day:  I feel like it’s difficult to find a good Cabernet Sauvignon under $2…have you had a good Cab under $20 recently?

Suggested Retail Price: $13
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

A Second Chance with Chateau Montelena

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

A Good Cabernet After a Bad Day

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