Thursday, August 26, 2010

Anakena - Ona

Price: $13.99
Region: Chile
Year: 2008

First, I know the picture is a bit small, but it is the best one I could find. Second, I can't believe I'm actually reviewing a white wine. I'm sure there are lots of people who comes across my blog, who probably think I don't know what I'm talking about, but wait until they see me trying to review a white wine. I actually had a couple different bottles of wine this past weekend, and I hope to get to one in particular, but I just thought it was about time to throw another white into the mix. Usually, if I have a white wine, it ends up being the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier blend. This is on my list of top 5 default wines, and my wife likes it so much we usually pick up a bottle each week. This past weekend was a bit odd in that we were out running errands together, and decided to stop at the wine store. As is typical, my wife picked up a bottle of Pine Ridge, and then asked one of the store employees about a white Chilean wine we had tried at the wine tasting the week before last. They didn't have that particular wine, but picked up this bottle of Anakena Ona, and suggested we give it a try. So, we put it in the basket, grabbed a couple of other things as well, and headed home.

This particular bottle of wine was a Viognier, Riesling, and Chardonnay blend. It is fairly obvious from going through my previous posts, they I'm not a big white wine fan. There are a few I enjoy, and especially with a certain type of food, but given the choice, I'll pick the red every time. One of the major reasons is I just am not a big fan of Chardonnay. This blend kind of intrigued me because of the variations in the grapes. My generalization on white wines is that Riesling is sweet, Viognier is in the middle, and Chardonnay is dry. I know that is a far from always the truth, but assumptions are made lots of time because they start with a grain of truth. Anyway, we opened this bottle to have with some appetizers at Sunday dinner. While I tend to focus a lot on the different shades of red wine, I'm not as picky with white. I will say, this had a nice golden color, and definitely wasn't pale. It also had a nice smell that reminded me a bit of cut flowers. So, at this point, I wasn't sure what to expect, but when I took a sip, it had a nice crisp flavor, that wasn't overpowering, with a bit of pear flavor. I would say the Viognier kind of rounded out the bite of the Chardonnay. I could still taste what I would call the dryness of the Chardonnay, but it wasn't the overriding flavor, and in the end, I thought it wasn't half bad. For me to say that of any wine composed of Chardonnay is a step in the right direction. I did however, quickly open a bottle of Malbec after one glass.

Rating: 3.0 corks (Not a bad white)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ruta 22 - Malbec

Price: $13
Region: Chile
Year: 2008

I've been in a bit of a wine review slump lately, but hopefully things are beginning to turn around. It really hasn't been for any reason in particular, and especially not for a lack of material. Last weekend was a bit of change of pace. If you've read any of my previous posts, you'll know Friday evenings are not the "night out on the town" kind of nights for me. A pizza and a new bottle of wine usually does just fine by me. This particular weekend however, my wife's parents bought four tickets to a local wine tasting, and asked us to come along. So, after a nice dinner at a local Italian restaurant, it was off to the wine tasting. This tasting was not at a wine store, so there was not the usual 1.5 oz limit to the servings. This was pretty much a full glass of wine with each pass.

There were two tables est up on each side of the room. One side sat the white wines, and the other the reds. I'm sure you can guess which side of the room I ended up on most of the night. The theme of the night, if you can call it that, was Chilean wines. While all three of the reds I tasted had some merit, this particular Malbec was the that stuck most in my memory. The first red I tasted as a pretty good Pinot Noir. Not what I would call typical, but tasty for sure. The Malbec however, was right up my alley. It had a really nice dark purple color. When I got my first glass, I walked a bit out of the way, so I could pay a little closer attention. The smell was fruit forward for sure, with a nice intense aroma. So starting off with a nice deep color, and strong fruity smell, the wine definitely had promise. At this point, I was really looking forward to giving it a taste. As I took a sip, I knew this wine had a lot of merit. The fruit forward smell that I observed, was definitely not an illusion. The taste of fruit was very prominent, especially blackberry. It was a very nice bold wine, that was really quite smooth. The tannins were firm, but definitely not overdone. I really was not sure how much this wine cost, but when I found it online for around $13 on average, I was convinced this was a good buy. I will definitely look for a bottle to try at home with my favorite grilled meat.

Rating: 3.5 corks (A nice Malbec at a good price)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Le Cadeau - Pinot Noir

Price: $30
Region: Oregon
Year: 2007

This is not going to be my typical review. I'm going to branch out a bit this week and write about the restaurant my wife & I visited last week. While I'll highlight a great wine I tasted, I'll also touch a bit on some of the other wines, all of which I enjoyed very much. Since our two boys had an overnight stay at summer camp, my wife and I had a night to ourselves, and we surely weren't about to just sit around the house. While we had visited this particular wine bar in Wilmington, DE once before with friends, it had been quite a while, so we thought it a good time to visit again. I thoroughly enjoyed it last time, and wasn't expecting anything different this time around.

To describe the entire evening could get kind of lengthy, so to make a long story short, we decided to order the 6 course, chef's special tasting. This was basically leaving our food choices to the chef's descretion, most of which was not on the menu. We just told our server a couple of items we were not overly fond of, and the rest was up to them. Each course was really a tasting, and not a full serving, but with 6 courses, we surely weren't going to go hungry. With each course, our server would give us a few different wines that he thought paired well with what was being served, and we could either choose a 1.5 oz., 3.0 oz., or 5 oz. serving. Most of the time we just had a small taste, especially with the whites, but when we got to my favorites reds, that paired with the main course, I figured a full glass was the way to go.

We started off with a taste of some sparkling wine (CastellRoig Cava Brut) from Spain. Sparkling wine isn't my favorite, but it really wasn't a bad way to start off the evening. Next, we had a delicious fig, stuffed with some kind of cheese. With this, I tried a Robert Mondavi Chardonnay. If Sparkling wine isn't my thing, Chardonnay is even further down on the list, but again, not a bad wine at all. Maybe I'm starting to broaden my horizons, who knows. The next was a wonderful lobster salad, with which I tried a taste of a fairly sweet German Riesling (Fritz Windisch). A couple of more courses found their way around, including an absolutely wonderful piece of filet mignon. As one would expect, I went straight to the Cab for this course, and this one did not disappoint. I had a glass of Carl Roy "East Side Cuvee" 2007 Cabernet. This wine had a wonderful aroma, and a very smooth finish, the was just an excellent companion for the filet. With another course, I gave the Bodega Rejadorada (Tempranillo) a try, and this was the only wine that seemed a bit off. While it was not a bad wine, I was just hoping for a little more. Finally, we decided to skip dessert, and instead had a cheese tray brought out with 6 or 7 different kind of cheese. I was torn between the cheddar & the blue cheese as my favorites, but both went great with my final wine choice. I had a glass of the Le Cadeau "Red Label" Pinot Noir (2007), and enjoyed every minute of it. It is just one of those wines you can tell a lot of care and attention went into making. While I will be the first to admit I always favor the big, bold red wines, it definitely seems to me, that when you pay a little extra for a good Pinot Noir, they are simply hard to match. This wine had a great unique flavor, with a finish of soft tannins & great berry aroma. A wonderfully complex wine, that just topped off a spectacular evening. Although a little pricey in the end, I think you just have to treat yourself every now and again when the opportunity presents itself.

Rating: 4.5 corks (A great wine, a great Wine Bar, and great evening)