Articles from April 2010

Pissing Off My Inner Aspect

I think way too much fuss is made about the anxiety wine “novices” have about ordering wine at a restaurant. Maybe, people do feel this way and I just never have. I didn’t have anxiety when I knew nothing. I didn’t have anxiety when I knew a little. And I don’t have anxiety now that I know a little more than a little.

Here’s Why:

I am the customer.

Also, I have never had a good wine paired with good food that made me say, “Gross.” There are wines that compliment food (and vice-versa) but I have had big reds with fish and acidic whites with steak and enjoyed them wholeheartedly.

I know that dudes want to impress their dates by sounding smart and ordering the perfect bottle to pair with their meals. Here’s what I do:

1. Ask the sommelier. That is what he or she is there for, and most of them really enjoy their jobs. There ain’t no shame in asking an experts help, it will probably even impress your date.
2. Cook for yourself a lot and drink wine a lot. Start with the big 4, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Every restaurant you go to will have those on their list. Drink those while you are cooking at home and figure out what pairs well with what. Sometimes you will be surprised, like the time I accidentally found out that Bordeaux and peanut butter are totally fucking fantastic together.
3. Do what I do and date someone who knows more and just let Her order the wine every time.

If you still have trepidation, then scratch your head no more, Gwyneth Paltrow is here to save you:

Gwyneth has talked to her sommelier buddies and compiled a simple 6000-word newsletter, some of it in French, complete with fashion poses by your favorite sommeliers. If you’re still confused when you get through it in a few days, Gwyneth has included a handy glossary at the end. See, I told you ordering wine was simple.

Bonus: If anyone can tell me what in the hell “Nourish the Inner Aspect” means, I will give you 5000 internet points.

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Twts abt snding wine bk

I enjoyed an exchange going on via Twitter this morning about a topic I think about a lot: how people order wine in restaurants.

This is how I do it: first I consider what I’m eating, then price, then look for a maker I love or something I’ve been wanting to try, if no luck there then I look for a region I enjoy, and if still lost I ask the Somm and if no Somm, my server.

This is how He does it: if the list is in alphabetical order He goes straight to “T.” If the list is by grape varietal he goes straight to “other interesting whites” or equivalent section. If the list is a jumbled mess, He searches through it impatiently…for Txakoli, of course. Chances are pretty high it’s not there…which means I almost always end up ordering the wine.

How about everybody else? We did an informal poll on how one buys wine from a wine shop that stimulated a lot of comments, but ordering in a restaurant was not considered. My own appreciation of wine began when I started working in restaurants and evolved as my jobs did–from lowly cashier to eventual GM and wine buyer. I have no fears or qualms about ordering wine in a restaurant, (or sending it back) but I know others do.

Several tweeters I enjoy jumped into the conversation. It got started when I read Serious Eat’s “How to Order Wine Without Looking Like an Idiot” post. I agreed on all points except for #7: “You can’t send a wine back just because you don’t like it.” Why not? I said so in my retweet. Pretty quickly @TriceraPops chimed in: “and ‘be specific’ is kind of misguided. sommeliers should be up for taking something generic and coming up with a rec.”

I completely agreed and prompted a vocal local Somm to pipe in, replying: “@TriceraPops It’s their job to do just that and I think in most cases Somms really enjoy it. (right, @DavidSHaskell ?)…” And Mr. Haskell took the bait. Here is how part of the conversation went.

David’s first tweet that gets cut off, he continues: “…but not if the person “client” picked it. I don’t get my money back when a movie sucked.” The optimistic, good manager part of me thinks anything sent back by a customer is an opportunity to give them a better experience. And possibly an up-sell.

The conversation went on to talk about what @rossowineshop lamented as “second job syndrome.” He jumped into the conversation, tweeting, “some of the service problem comes down to LA mentality. Very few career service peeps here.” David countered that it is all about training. Ah, yes…But this is topic worthy of its own post.


Pillow Talk

Expensive Wine

He said: 95% of the wine that I have had retails for under $30 a bottle. Most of the time that I buy expensive wine ($100+) it is as a gift for someone else. For whatever reason, I have trepidation about opening/drinking expensive bottles. I always think that it should saved for a special occasion; but just what is that occasion? Even the $100 bottle of Williams Selyem that I bought for Her (and We were supposed to drink on my birthday) is still cellared. When I go to Her house I marvel at the amount of Sine Qua Non (and many other expensive bottles) that she has. And more SQN seems to arrive frequently. How many bottles of SQN do you have? 50?

She said: No, no. Way more than that.

He said: Yeah, I know it’s a lot. But really, I’m not even remotely tempted to drink it, even though I know how good it is. The fact that it is rare and expensive is truly intriguing, but I would have a fair amount of anxiety opening any of the bottles. Which is weird. It’s like people who bought Star Wars action figures and didn’t take them out of the package because they knew they would increase in value; something that was meant to be played with can’t even be touched. I feel the same way about expensive wine, it’s not meant to be drunk. When our friend Harrison opened a bottle of SQN recently at a dinner party, my first thought was, “are you sure?” I was, of course, happy she did open it and it was the best wine I’ve ever tasted, but, that’s a lot of $$$, and one less bottle of something rare that is meant to be collected. I guess it makes Her collection worth more.

She said: It really was a treat when Harrison opened the “Just for the Love of It.” But then again, why should We consider it such a sacred thing? Wine is for drinking, and what better way to enjoy a bottle (whether it be expensive or not) with dear friends over an amazing meal? That said, the wine was totally spectacular and I felt serious and contemplative over the first few sips, knowing that it was a rarity to taste the wine. (Which I have before, by the way. And still own bottles of.)

I have to say that there are moments when I feel embarrassed about having a wine collection…especially one with so much of Manfred’s wine in it. It feels overly-extravagant. Then again, the wines are truly outstanding. And my love of the wines vintage after vintage is very much tied up in my relationship with Manfred. When I first started getting SQN (his first vintages) I popped open the bottles all the time. And probably at the wrong time–like at 1:30 a.m. when the house party was going strong and empty bottles were piling up. Makes me shake my head at myself. Then again, those were great moments.

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Kum Again?

I have sticky fingers. And am feeling a bit loopy and have the warm glow.

Often when dinner time comes around and the shopping hasn’t been done I start opening cupboards and scrounging the frig for whatever is leftover. Almost without fail something delicious is created. I’m a good, scrappy cook that way.

Today, when happy hour came around I did a similar, cocktail-inspired search and came up with kumquats and limes that were getting very, er, ripe and grabbed the bottles of liquor that were on the bar. Four cocktails were created. Each uniquely delicious.

What I had around the house:

Pretty little local kumquats and limes, Campari (always have some in the frig–Negroni’s are a fave drink), cheap vodka (ditto–keep the expensive stuff for martinis and the bargain stuff for mixing), Blandy’s Rainwater Madeira, The Balvenie 12 year old scotch, Schwepps seltzer water and diet tonic. I regretted that We had finished the last few sips of Jameson’s last night…it would have been a great addition.

Knowing the kumquats and limes were tart, I made a quick simple syrup from equal portions of sugar and boiling water.

As for tools, the muddler had been misplaced (or lost in my move?) but I did find my trusty reamer [He editing: Reamer? I hardly know her]–a favorite tool. I simply turned it upside down and used it’s blunt handle to muddle the fruit. Some squirting, but overall quiet effective.

My favorite cocktail glasses are kitschy ones from the fifties that are too fragile to withstand the mashing and shaking required, so I muddled the fruit and mixed the drinks in hearty Pyrex measuring cups.

First up:

6 muddled kumquats
splash of syrup
splash of Campari
splash of seltzer
squeeze of lime

A sweeter variation:

6 kumquats muddled in a heavy splash of syrup
heavy splash of seltzer
squeeze of lime

He happily played guinea pig to my amateur bartending (and I hate that term “mixologist,” by the way…bartender is so much more honest and unpretentious). Results: He doesn’t like Campari. The kumquat/vodka/seltzer drink was eagerly (greedily?) consumed. He has a perpetual sweet tooth, so I wasn’t surprised. The combination has a terrific sweet tart sensation but is undeniably fresh and citrusy. And it was fine with me to have the Campari drink…I love its bitter bite. And the color looks like Spring. Or a lipstick I wish I owned.

Okay, the first two were a success and went down very easy. I was feeling a little cocky (read: drunk). On to round two.

Scotch and Madeira in the mix:

7-8 kumquats muddled in dash of syrup
Balvenie scotch
heavy dash of Blandy’s Rainwater Madeira
squeeze of lime

And with vodka and Madeira in the mix:

7-8 kumquats and thick lime wedge muddled in dash of syrup
heavy dash of Blandy’s Rainwater Maderia
lime for garnish

Wow, both of these were good. Tasting the scotch/Maderia mix he declared: “It’s like cake…It’s like when you go out and order a REAL drink and have a sip and think, Yes, THIS is a cocktail.” I may have blushed a bit. The combination of the tart kumquats, smokey scotch and salty/sweet Maderia really works. The drink comes off almost buttery and very full in the mouth…very much in balance and truly delicious. He snagged that one.

As for the vodka/Maderia drink, it was much more fresh and clean but with a lingering carmelization from the Maderia. The vodka is neutral, so the fruit and fortified wine stand out. I would have it as an aperitif, the scotch/Maderia as digestif.

I can’t wait to play around more with whatever-is-left-over-in-the-house to come up with some new concoctions. This was really fun. Then again, We almost always have fun.

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United Slurps of America: Georgia

Every state in the US produces wine. Why not taste them? For 50 weeks We will do just that…welcome to the United Slurps of America. Week six: it’s Georgia, y’all.

Lots of Georgia has been showing up at Her door over the last week. First up was a prettily packaged box of wine. And a few days later there was another Georgia import: Joe, the Suburban Wino. He was in our lovely state for vacation and staying just down the coast in Laguna Beach. Both the wine and Joe were a delight. Georgia, represent.

We’re just six weeks in, but already The United Slurps of America has been a terrific tasting adventure. Once again We found ourselves with wine made from a far away state and, in the case of the white, made from grapes neither one of Us had ever tasted (and twisted our tongue pronouncing: say-vul? see-vel? chez-val?). Tasting in person with Joe was a bonus. We’ve been a fan of Joe’s blog since We began our own blogging adventure. When he said he was anxious to get out and explore and how about getting together We said, yeah, come on up to gritty, hipster Hollywood and let’s taste some wine.

Joe rented a car and drove up, arriving on a beautiful Spring morning. We hastily made introductions and then got down to business. Glasses were gathered and corks popped. We have a pretty regimented way of tasting wine (examine the color, swirl, smell, slurp, linger–and no talking) all of which seemed to amuse Joe. He’s much more laid back and experiential in his tasting and admitted to rarely taking notes. While We went through our ritual he filled us in on some facts about Georgia wine in general and Persimmon Creek in particular, having recently visited the place. We were intrigued by the winery in light of the fanciful package they sent Us which included a piece of wool from their sheep and vineyard prunings. Joe told Us that there were about 30 of the cute, fuzzy animals on the property. We continued to sip the wines and Joe joined us in scribbling down some notes, our collective reviews are below.

Seyval Blanc, Persimmon Creek  Vineyards 2008 (sample, retails for about $12.99)

She said: The color is very pale, translucent yellow with a greenish hue. The nose is quiet: a little bit of grass and obvious acidity, which is confirmed in the mouth. With the acid are subtle flavors of cucumber and a mild gin and tonic. The wine is bone dry and quenching with a sweet tart kind of mouth puckering sensation. Also get hints of lime (perfect garnish for the g&t) and wet stones/oyster shell. Imagine enjoying with a grand le plateau de fruits de mer. Not a deep thinking wine, but highly enjoyable, food friendly, and a good value.

He said: I’ve never had a Seyval Blanc, this is really why I love Our project. It’s very, very pale (almost clear) greenish-yellow. On the nose is citrus, cooked pear, apricot and white peppercorn. Very acidic and mouth-drying, very  reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc, I assume these grapes are cousins, or half-brothers–or however grape families work, they are closely related. I am getting only slight hints on the palate of the fruit I discerned on the nose. I enjoyed this wine and it’s a great value for 13 bucks.

Suburban Wino said: very pale in color…nothing overwhelming on the nose; some subtle melon, maybe some cucumber.  Getting a little bit of citrus, some mineral, and some herbaceous- perhaps “grassy”- elements that I tend to get in a lot of Georgia wines…let’s call it terroir.  I then got some really interesting petrol and ginger notes, until I realized that I’d accidentally grabbed the white wine from Iowa from the previous week.  Oops (but way to go, Iowa).  Between the cheeks, I found it to have some decent acidity.  It was a little hollow in the palate, but I’ll be a homer and suggest that will improve as the young vines (5-10 years old) develop.

Cabernet Franc, Persimmon Creek Vineyards 2008 (sample, retails for about $21.99)

She said: In the glass the wine is translucent around the edges and a muddy purplish garnet. On the nose it smells dusty with vegetal/string bean aromas. On the mouth I detect the burnt wood flavors of American oak, white pepper, and green veggies…there is a fresh produce quality. Quite tart with a lingering cinnamon-like aftertaste. Not my style, but some may say typical of a Cab Franc (and I have had many I’ve enjoyed, so my mediocre review is not because of the grape). 

He said: Purpley and if in Photoshop would be about 75% opacity. On the nose there is not much fruit, but spices. Peppery. Some wood, maybe blackberry. I am getting tar, like a freshly tarred street–which may be a smell of the past for me because it looks like Los Angeles is about to be bankrupt and won’t be fixing any streets in the near future. Savor the smell of a functioning government. In the mouth there is more fruit than on the nose. Peppery mouthfeel with light tannins. She doesn’t like it, but I totally do. This bottle is mine.

Suburban Wino said: this nose changed from the last time I tasted it.  Maybe my nose was on west coast time.  Anyway, I expected a lot of toast from the 1/3-1/3-1/3 French-Hungarian-American new oak barrel aging regime.  This time, however, I got a telltale note of jalapeño/green pepper, some red fruit- maybe raspberry, a bit of cocoa, and a freshness/cheesiness (that throws folks off) that I tend to get in Loire Cab Franc and Beaujolais and Gamay-based wines.  Rolling around in the mouth, I found it a little thin and flabby (there was some acidity there, but I could use some more).  The fruit flavors, along with some Italian canned tomatoes (more bitterness that home grown) came through on the palate.  I think this would be a darn good food wine if the acidity was dialed up a notch.

6 down, 44 to go…


We said: After tasting the Georgia wines the three of us went to a favorite neighborhood spot for lunch: The Hungry Cat. The seafood is incredibly good here…and so are the fresh fruit cocktails. We indulged in peel your own shrimp, squash blossoms stuffed with crab, a lobster roll for Him, a crab cake sandwich for Her, and an oyster po’boy for Joe. What a great day.

We later marveled about the afternoon and our whole wine tasting adventures in general. It’s always a treat for a package to arrive. This feeling is heightened when said package is wine. The feeling is heightened tenfold when said package contains free wine. Opening the box from Persimmon was, by far, Our favorite box-opening experience since we started USA. There were so many thoughtful extras in the box–and wow– Mary Ann’s handwriting. She wrote Us a personal 3-page letter with the most beautiful handwriting We have ever seen. Thank you, it’s so nice when people care. And then there is our new friend the Suburban Wino. This was Our first face-to-face USA tasting, and it was a complete pleasure to spend an afternoon with Joe.

A quick aside, We will try to resume making the video trailers for the USA posts, but we have had a busy couple of weeks and those were one of the causalities of our schedule. Plus, He couldn’t figure out a song for Iowa last week.

Previously on USA: Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington

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A San Francisco Treat

We are in the Bay Area for business, but it is time for the pleasure to begin.

First, a bottle of 2009 Veramonte SB from Zain’s Liquor and Deli.

Second, We are off to Anchor and Hope, sans reservations, so, umm, We hope to get a table. Or seats at the bar.

And then maybe a drink at Bourbon & Branch, the password is “books.”

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Wines of Note: Guerrillas in Our Midst

First thing first, how beautiful are the Wine Guerrilla labels. We know…pretty surfaces say nothing about the juice inside, but really, you can’t help but ooh and ahh over the dreamy, feminine Paul Klee-inspired paintings of semi-nude muses. And such lovely images for a grape that is often described as meaty, over-bearing, too alcoholic, masculine. Are the clever folks at Wine Guerrilla trying to tell us a different story?

Recently We enjoyed two different Wine Guerrilla zins over a perfectly grilled sirloin with a few friends. The smokiness of the meat and the deep, earthy, dark berry flavors of the wine were a fantastic compliment. We didn’t take notes, but a common comment was, “Is there more wine?”

No, We answered, secretly holding back two bottles to taste side by side, in a more serious-taking-notes setting. We were curious if We could taste the difference between two wines from the same region: Dry Creek Valley. One of the wines was labeled as such and the other from “Cofffaro Vineyards, Old Vines.” We asked our wine novice friend G Zamora to taste with Us. Or rather, he asked to be a part of our tasting.

A cool thing about Our young friend Zamora is his openness to trying new things…especially booze. Lately he’s been exploring wine. Just a few months ago he brought a bottle of Jameson’s to a party, but the last two gatherings it’s been wine. And not wine from the corner store (although We have nothing against this…Hello, Big Mac’s Mondays), but from a wine shop. Not only that, He asked for help with selecting a wine. This can be intimidating stuff for a young man who up until a year ago drank nothing but Corona Light and will probably be carded for another decade. Needless to say, We said, Of course…taste with Us.

So here are Our takes on two zinfandels, both from Dry Creek Valley, both from Wine Guerrilla, both FANTASTIC (oops…spoiler).

Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Wine Guerrilla 2008 (sample, retails for about $22)

She said: The color is deep, opaque purple-y garnet. On the nose blackberry juice with a hint of spice and wood. Quenching with medium tannin. Not hot, despite the 15.7% alcohol, rather the wine is fresh and lively and also not over burdened by fruit. Some tar and coffee with the tartness of raspberry and boysenberries. Really terrific and easy to drink alone, but imagine it would be a delicious accompaniment to grilled meats and be a good food wine in general. Greatly enjoyed it.

He said: Deep purple, glassy and opaque. Much more zing and fruit on the nose than the “Old Vine” reviewed below. Cherry, earth, tobacco, cola, cedar and tar on the nose. In the mouth it’s tart and a little chalky. Like the “bottlecaps” candy. Also some wood texture, like chewing on a toothpick and a waxy lipstick-y feeling and taste, even. Really good.

Zamora said: It’s a purpley-red color. The smell is more fruity than the old, but is still intense. It was light and easy.

Zinfandel, Coffaro Vineyards “Old Vine,” Dry Creek Valley, Wine Guerrilla 2008 (sample, retails for about $35)

She said: The color is identical to me to the Dry Creek, but in the nose has more intense blackberry flavors, like a syrup to pour over pancakes; also cassis and cedar. On the palate there is intense fruit in the beginning that leads to medium/high tannin–lots of structure. Some bramble/earthy flavors mixed with blueberries, mushroom, and vanilla bean. Really great, again. Not sure I prefer one over the other, but they are different: the straight Dry Creek is more fresh, the Coffaro more mellow and earthy. Both a delight.

He said: Same color as the above. Cola, maybe prune juice-Dr. Pepper, earthy, cherry and musty on the nose. (I also agree with Her on the pancake syrup.) In the mouth it’s creamy cola with a little vanilla. This one is 15.6% alcohol, but not high heat. I can, however, feel it on the roof of my mouth which I burned on pizza at the W Hotel last night. Full-bodied, tannins throughout with some weight on the mid-palate. Really, really good.

Zamora said: The same purpley-red. At first smell was just intense. Later the smell reminded me of butterscotch. The taste reminded me of incense. It tingled the tip of my tongue.

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United Slurps of America: Iowa

Every state in the US produces wine. Why not taste them? For 50 weeks We will do just that…welcome to the United Slurps of America. Week five: Hello, Iowa.

Things We knew about Iowa before this project: it’s somewhere in the middle of the country (but where exactly was not clear to Her: She had to look it up), and something about tornadoes and corn? He did skate demos there in the mid-90′s and remembers that it is very hot in the summer…He threw away all His soaking wet clothes after the demo.

Things We now know about Iowa: people there are really, really nice and viticulture is booming. Corn is not the only thing that grows well, turns out cool climate grapes thrive here too. And, yes, there are a lot of crazy looking tornadoes.

Our (virtual) journey to Iowa wine country began a couple of weeks ago with an enthusiastic email from Derek Whittington, Assistant Tasting Room Manager of Tassel Ridge Winery. Derek urged Us to try Iowa next for the USA project…and he knew just the wines We should taste. Our first thoughts (well, Her’s at least): Where is Iowa? And someone there reads our blog? And they want to play along in the tasting tour? And they are going to send Us wine? Awesome…Hello, Iowa.

Next up, We needed to find a local co-taster or two. Derek kindly offered to help Us with this task as well. Through Tweets and emails he (virtually) introduced Us to two more very friendly and enthusiastic Iowans who were also wine bloggers: Dan, The Iowa Wino, and Grace, Cellarmistress. Within a week wine had been delivered and We had two new blogging wino friends. Well, three really…thanks for doing our legwork for Us, Derek.

Dan and Grace beat us to the punch and promptly tasted and posted their reviews of the Tassel Ridge Winery wines on their blogs. Keeping to our weekly Monday USA schedule, We delayed and enjoyed the wines over the holiday weekend (admittedly, with many other bottles as well). Here are our collective tasting notes…Hello, Iowa.

Iowa LaCrescent, Tassel Ridge Winery 2008 (sample, winery sells for $13)

She said: Very pale and bright. In the nose: citrus, pineapple, a creaminess, peach blossom. On the palate very pleasant and beautiful flavors of peach, honey, bitter almond and a healthy kick of lemony acid to keep the tropical fruit flavors from being too cloying. Tastes like a Spring day. A very enjoyable, slightly sweet white… and for $13 a good buy.

He said: Bright yellow, I feel more colorblind than usual with this wine. In the nose there is strong fruit, a lot of peach accompanied by tropical & citrus. Not overly sweet. Delicious peach right away again in the mouth, accompanied by nice acid throughout. Initial tingle on the front of the tongue gives way to smooth quite long finish with honey all over the palate. I’m always apprehensive about tasting any sweet (or semi-sweet) wine, and really don’t do it that often. This wine is making me re-think my apprehension and might be the best one (of the very few) I have ever tasted. I would like a few more bottles of this to drink on hot summer days in the garden.

CellarMistress said: Never having sampled these cold climate grape varietals before, I didn’t know what to expect but went in with an open mind. The Iowa LaCrescent was a semi-sweet white with a pleasant sweet bouquet. The mid palate was HUGE! Ripe, fleshy mangoes and peaches. So juicy and sweet. It dropped off at the end so it didn’t linger like I would have wanted it to but it was pleasant and enjoyable. Until I got to the second glass and I couldn’t really finish it because the sweetness got to be a bit much for me. I prefer drier wines. I would definitely recommend this wine however because the flavors are top notch.

The Iowa Wino said: Iowa LaCrescent is a semi-sweet white wine which I found interesting in aroma from very chilled to warming close to room temp. First in the glass chilled, the peach is so very alive, ripe and almost reminds me of fresh cut fruit. Crisp citrus and pear become more pronounced as the wine warms. Fruit fills your nose with each sniff. Alright enough of this procrastination and lets taste this juice. A mouth full of fruit in every taste. Wow fresh peach starts this great wine off first. Lemon citrus middle with even a hint of pineapple. Finish showcases the grapefruit. I love how the flavors interchange with the temp of the wine . I can see why this grape is gaining popularity in the Midwest. #3 best selling white wine at Tasselridge. Imagine a hot day and as the evening approaches this wine being sipped by you and friends prior to a dinner party.

In the Dark, Tassel Ridge Winery NV (sample, winery sells for $20)

She said: Dark, dull ruby. In the nose reminds me of a basic Cote du Rhone: some earth, smoke, and funk with dark cherry. In the mouth not much fruit. Medium tannin, some licorice and tart cherry. There is an acidic/sharpness throughout which helps give the wine structure, but it seems out of balance. For the price wish it was juicier and richer. A basic table red that does not require or ask for contemplation.

He said: Dark maroonish, somewhere between a pinot and a cabernet in color and translucency. This nose is tough for me, maybe dark cherry and some wood. Nothing is really jumping out at me. Cream soda and some earthiness in the mouth. Light tannins and a small kick of acid initially, but this wine feels “young.” It died out a little bit in the mid-palate and finish. There is a decent tartness throughout, but I have to agree that it is lacking fruit and a bit overpriced. Tassel Ridge imports syrah grapes for this wine from California, which understandably increases the price. But my 2 cents is that the cold weather LaCrescent was so nice and unique; stop importing and do what you do with Iowa terroir. Don’t try to make a CA wine in Iowa, make an Iowa wine! Not a bad wine, by any means, just not really a standout.

CellarMistress said: I loved the bouquet! It smelled heavenly and the flavor was berry rich on the front. As it reached the mid-palate, it hardened up a little with earthiness.The finish was one I didn’t care for. It was bitter so it didn’t sit well and each sip repeated exactly the same way. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t like it. It needed a smoother finish.

The Iowa Wino said: In the glass my first sniff identifies the huge plum aroma. Another smell and my nose picks up spice, berry, and oak. Nice red wine aromas and now lets taste this bad boy. First in the mouth I get a juicy cherry flavor. Next in the middle I get a peppery spice. Follows up at the finish with a shot of cherry/oak and a touch of the plum. Definitely a full flavored wine but a soft finish. I should have tried this wine with my grilled burger to see how it paired.

5 down, 45 to go…


CellarMistress said:I was also sent a bonus bottle whose name I found rather amusing, the Oskyfrizzante Pink. It is named, I suppose, after the town of Oskaloosa which is near the winery and is a semi-sweet sparkling wine with a strawberry hue. I ended up opening all three last night and had a little wine and cheese party on the deck with my sister and a friend during what was our first official 70 degree day of the year! My favorite of the three was the bonus bottle, the Oskyfrizzante Pink. Made with Zinfandel grapes and another cold climate varietal, St. Pepin, it was very enjoyable with strawberry, rhubarb and kiwi flavors and an effervescent tingle on the finish. It was a tad bit sweet but paired well with the brownies and strawberries that we were eating.

The Iowa Wino said: While Tasselridge is such a young winery I would say they have some very nice Iowa wines. One of the largest producers in the state I can’t wait to visit and tour their facility. Stop by the winery for a visit and say hello to Derek and the gang.

We said: A terrific benefit of this project is tasting grapes We have never heard of from regions previously unknown to Us. For example, In the Dark is made from St Croix and Marechal Foch varieties, grown in Mahaska County (with a bit of California Syrah mixed into the blend). We enjoyed the pictures on Tassel Ridge’s website of the vineyard just weeks ago (republished here)…check out that snow. To think We were poolside in the Los Angeles sunshine. The high acid of both the red and white wines We tasted are testament to the cool growing conditions. (Also, a reminder: Wineries, put high-res bottle images on your websites, please.)

We want to give a special “Cheers!” and thanks to Tassel Ridge Winery, their very helpful Tasting Room Assistant Manager, Derek, and our two new wine blogging pals Grace and Dan…it was great fun slurpin’ America with you all.

Previously on USA: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington

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List w/o Commentary: Dinner at Harrison’s house last night

Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley Vineyards

Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé, Lucien Albrecht
Quincy, Adele Rouze 2008
Rosé, Columbia Valley, Charles and Charles 2009
aged goat cheese
French butter with fleur de sel
jamon serrano

Just for the Love of It, Sine Qua Non 2002
Syrah, lillian 2006
mussels in white wine with snip yourself fresh herbs
baby romaine with anchovy viaigrette
leg of lamb with rosemary, marjoram and lavender
roasted beets, potatoes, and baby carrots

The Balvenie 12 year old

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