Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon (2006)

It is Sunday night and we are going to grill steaks. I chose this luscious Bonterra (California) Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany our dinner.  This has been stored down in our basement because I rate this a special wine. This wine has everything that I love in a red wine. It is  big, dry, fruity and bold. Yum, yum, yum.

So, yesterday I spent 5 hours on the campus football field engaging in “Football 101” for women. Groups of about 10 women cycled through 9 position stations. At each station, we practiced getting into a stance, doing things like the Icky Shuffle and the Double Icky Shuffle, flipping our hips, punting, throwing the ball, catching the ball, blocking and on and on. Getting into a stance, we would get yelled at from a coach “Get your a– up in the air!”  We learned every position from the inside out. It was a long, arduous, educational and fun day! I have always admired our student-athletes but now I understand a bit more about why they come in from practice looking exhausted and taking the elevator instead of the stairs.

This wine will go perfect with our grilled steaks, brown rice, fresh salad and. . . something new for me. . .fried green tomatoes. The only reason I am going to make fried green tomatoes is because Tom was helping me stake my tomato plants today (they are so big that the tomato cages are pulling out of the ground) and in the process of staking, he broke off a branch. So, I found a recipe for the fried green ‘mators, and I have everything set to go (including a black, cast-iron skillet, which the recipe insists upon).I can’t wait to try them! (The recipe says to slice the green tomatoes and let them stand for 15 minutes after salting. Then dip in milk, flour, egg, bread crumbs and fry in olive oil.

For anyone who is looking for a lush Cabernet, I highly recommend the Bonterra, 2006. Cheers!

Lindemans’ Cabernet Sauvignon (2008)

Tom bought this wine at our local grocery store for $5. It’s been a long time since we have had a glass of Lindemans. After a life-replenishing martini, I was heading to the wine stash and Tom said, “I would like a new-world wine tonight.” A funny request. But, one that I could accommodate! Lindemans’ is a very popular new-world Australian wine that is widely available in most grocery stores.

It is Sunday night and we are relaxing after a lovely day. I ran 13 miles this morning with my running partner, Jeanie. Tom spent quite a bit of time watching the British Open and then he, too, went for a run. I also went to my neighbor’s house and Michelle and I played a great game of scrabble. She won. But, we both had some impressive words.

So now it is night time and we are relaxing. I have some chicken in the skillet for dinner. It should be pretty close to falling-off-the-bone tender by now.

This wine is full of fruit. It has a velvety, minty finish that is quite luscious. You really can’t go wrong with Lindemans’.

Chateau Portal Minervois (2006)

It is a beautiful July summer evening – unseasonably cool. So, I am taking advantage of the temperature with an oven meal. Meanwhile, we are having a glass of this French red Chateau Portal Minervois. I requested something special tonight! I just finished teaching a 6-session course for graduate students. Each of the sessions were long.  .  .took a lot of energy, especially after working all day. But, I loved the students and hope they learned something valuable.

So, now we are having a quiet evening and decompressing from a busy week. I made a penne pasta dish that is in the oven. I have harvested lettuce and onions from my garden and will add avocadoes, green peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes for a fresh salad.

After selected and tasting the wine, Tom wasn’t overly enthused about this wine and asked if I would like to have something else. But, I am very happy with this wine.  It is an old-world, austere French wine with a grassy aroma. The taste has some vanilla and spice with a long finish. I think it is perfect for our pasta dinner.  Cheers!

Quail Creek Shiraz

We are still on our Quail Creek binge! (I purchased 3 bottles of their Shiraz and three bottles of their Cabernet (for $4.99) this week while shopping at Whole Foods.) So, what a deal! We have mixed feelings about this wine.

Tonight I taught a class after work so I am getting home rather late. We are going to have pizza so a Shiraz is an excellent choice for our dinner.

About the mixed feelings: Well, on the one hand, I appreciate the value of this wine. I mean, it’s $4.99 a bottle and it’s a California, which I have found generally to be very good. However, as I said before when I blogged about this wine, there is a kerosene quality to this wine that can’t be ignored. But, the longer it breathes, the better it gets. It doesn’t get to the level of being what I call a really “yummy” wine. . .but, it’s certainly adequate and I am enjoying it. The nose is quite pungent with cedar and cloves. The taste is tobacco and the finish is such that it makes your mouth feel like you just had strong black or green tea. . .

Yet, all in all, I like the wine. It’s an appropriate accompaniment to pizza. And, further, how can anything taste unpleasant on a Friday night?

Quail Creek Shiraz (2008)

I purchased this bottle (along with 2 others and 3 bottles of the Cabernet) at Whole Foods Market the other night. We had the Cabernet last night and tonight I wanted to try the Shiraz. This wine was on sale for $4.99.

At first whiff and taste, this wine has kerosene qualities. Not impressive initially. I am going to let the wine breathe a bit before I share any additional tasting notes.

Meanwhile, I can describe our dinner, which will be almost entirely made from leftovers. Tom is going to reheat (on the grill) a boneless loin pork chop (we grilled two the other night but ended up sharing one) and I will reheat some brown rice and a dish of leftover cheddar mashers that I made for another meal. I am going to put together a delicious fresh salad with my home-grown lettuce and onions (and store-bought tomatoes, avocado, peppers and cucumbers) and homemade vinaigrette.

Okay, I allowed the wine time to breathe and I am back at my computer to report on my tasting. The wine has a delightful purple color on the rim. I still detect a bit of kerosene on the palate, but the wine is much better now than it was 20 minutes ago.  As the kerosene taste diminishes, tobacco and caramel become evident. The finish is sharp and pungent, yet quite satisfying.

This will not rank as one of my favorite wines, yet I see it as a good value at $4.99 and not at all distasteful for a midweek quaff.

Quail Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (2007)

I stopped at Whole Foods on my way home from work today to pick up a few groceries. I noticed this wine (Quail Creek Cabernet Sauvignon) on display and it was on sale for $4.99. I ended up getting three Cab’s and three Shiraz because the price was so attractive. Now, we are having a glass of the Cabernet tonight.

At first whiff, it is a bit overpowering. But, like many wines, a bit of airing takes the edge off and the aroma has softened. This fruit-forward California Cab has a nose of ripe cherries. The taste is cherries, oak and vanilla. The tannins are understated.

All in all, this is an excellent value and I am glad that I went ahead and purchased the 6 bottles. I have come to generally trust a California Cabernet and this is no exception.

For dinner tonight, we are going to be having something new. While at Whole Foods, I purchased some chicken sausages (recommended by a friend). I chose 4 different varieties (spicy, spinach & feta, blue cheese. . .and something else I can’t remember). We are going to grill these and I’ll serve them with some homemade potato salad that I made this weekend and a green salad (from my garden). I’ll report tomorrow on whether we enjoyed these chicken sausages! Cheers.

Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot-Cabernet (2006)

Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot-Cabernet 2006Tom purchased this Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot-Cabernet 2006, a Washington State blend, at our local grocery store. We selected it tonight because we are having roast chicken for dinner. This wine is quite a value — it was $7.95 but on sale for $5.50. The nose is blackberries and raspberries. A fruit-forward quaff, it feels malleable in the mouth with a gentle, yet fruity, finish. This is certainly a great bottle of wine at a very low price.

It is a beautiful July Sunday evening and we go back to work tomorrow. Having spent the last three days/evenings teaching, I wanted a good home-cooked meal so I went to our local butcher and bought a fresh whole chicken. I am roasting that along with potatoes and carrots. I will make a salad, too.

Sycamore Valley Paso Robles Zinfandel (2006)

Sycamore Valley Paso Robles Zinfandel 2006It is Wednesday night and we are having a glass of this Sycamore Valley Paso Robles Zinfandel 2006 from California to round out our evening meal. We have had this wine before but it has been a quite awhile. I retrieved this from our stock in the basement.

The wine is pleasantly spicy with pepper and rich with the taste of juicy, ripe berries. This is a lovely red wine and it is perfect for grilled meats of any kind.

For dinner tonight, I marinated a thick, boneless pork chop. My marinade was simple but delicious: Olive oil, rice wine vinegar, spicy brown mustard, salt & pepper. After it was marinated, we cooked it on the grill at a high heat so that it was cooked through and  crispy on the outside. We split one chop and also had brown rice and a really yummy salad (we are having salad almost every night because I keep harvesting my fresh lettuce and onions and don’t want it to go to waste — and, it tastes fresh, sweet, crunchy & delicious)!

All in all, a satisfying cocktail hour and mid-week meal. Cheers!

Groote Kapp Pinotage (2007)

Groote Kaap Pinotage 2007It is Thursday, July 2, and another unseasonably cool night in Michigan. So I am taking advantage of the cool weather and using my oven. I have prepared a meatloaf, which is baking in the oven (made with ground beef, ground pork, spicy mustard, oatmeal, A-1 sauce, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, onions, celery, green pepper, milk,  salt, pepper, eggs and a little mixture of ketchup and brown sugar for a topping). It smells good. I have also harvested lettuce and green onions from my garden and added yellow peppers and avocados and will mix with my salad dressing (olive oil, red wine vinegar, spicy brown mustard, basil, oregano, rosemary, savory & thyme). So, there is my dinner. . .now on to the wine.

I chose this South African pinotage because it is a new bottle that we haven’t tasted, yet. This wine is 14.5% alcohol (most wines are 13 or 13.5%) but it does not have an alcoholic taste. This is a gutsy tasting big red with a whiff of smoke on the nose and palate. It’s a bit rough around the edges — the oak finish is a little on the harsh side, but even still, this is a very drinkable big red and I think it is a good choice to accompany our meatloaf dinner.  We have four bottles of this wine from our wine club and each bottle will be enjoyed.

Tomorrow is a holiday and Tom & I are off so (once again) we have found a reason to celebrate! Cheers!

(Happy Birthday to Steve Bono, a faithful reader and long-time red-wine enthusiast!)

Green Acres Zinfandel (2008)

Green Acres Ranch Lodi Zinfandel 2008It is a summer Wednesday night in Michigan, the first day of July. We have a cool front with some rain so it is quite cozy tonight. So, I decided to take advantage of the cool weather and use my oven. I baked a batch of double-chocolate, walnut brownies (Tom loves these) and I made a stew out of leftover pot roast and some vegetables, which I put in a cast-iron skillet in the oven. We’ll have a comfy night and a comfy meal tonight.

I chose this California Zinfandel for our post-martini cocktail! (The martini was wonderful — served in an icy cocktail glass with just the right combination of gin & vermouth.) I am happy with this wine. I generally do not gravitate to Zinfandels — only because I am such an avid, die-hard Cabernet Sauvignon fan. But, I thought this would be a good selection for our dinner and I am pleasantly surprised at how good this is. A pleasant burst of raspberries and spice and a mellow mouthfeel. The finish is true oak.