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

Passover 2012 Top 5 Wine List

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

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

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

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

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

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?

I’m A Covenant Convert

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

A St. Patrick’s Day Cabernet (Wine Blogging Wednesday #75)

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