Sterling Vintner’s Collection Meritage (2007)

We are enjoying a lovely, July evening. Strangely, the sun is shining brightly, but it is raining. We are very happy to have the rain because we needed it badly. But it is odd to have the rain while the sky is seemingly clear.

Nonetheless, here we are enjoying the soft rain, windows open with a gentle breeze. I took advantage of the cooler evening to put a chicken casserole in the oven (a basic chicken and rice combo).

While completing our weekly “Wall Street Journal” crossword puzzle, we are enjoying this Sonoma, California blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The nose is subtle and takes awhile to reveal itself but with some decanting it offers chocolate and blackberries. The taste is a deliciously complex mix of fruit, spice, flowers and chocolate. Very yummy. This wine was $13.99 but on sale for 9.99, which is an excellent value. Had I paid the full price, I would have been satisfied but at this price it is a real find.

Savanha Pinotage/Shiraz (2008)

This South African blend of Pinotage and Shiraz is our choice for this hot summer Friday night. This is a spicy, plummy, bold-flavored wine that is an impeccable choice to accompany our sausage-red potato-cabbage skillet dinner. I particularly appreciate the finish — velvety, spicy and crisp. Here’s to a fun summer weekend!

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!)

Zarafa Pinotage (2007)

zarafa-pinotage-2007It’s a Thursday night and I worked all day and then taught a class tonight. So, I need to get some dinner started because it will soon be 9:00 p.m. So, I’ll use my brother-in-law’s words for this post: “It drinks good.”

This Zarafa Pinotage 2007 is delicious but definitely needs to breathe to be at its best. Cheers!

Zaràfa Pinotage (2007)

zarafa-pinotage-2007We’re having this Zaràfa Pinotage 2007 from Trader Joe’s tonight. It’s quite pleasant.

Out of the bottle it’s simultaneously chocolaty and vegetal. As it breathes, the grassy, vegetal quality increases.

It’s a pleasant red table wine and a great value, and it’s fun to have a pinotage.

Sebeka Cabernet Pinotage (2006)

Sebeka Cabernet Pinotage 2006This delicious Sebeka Cabernet Pinotage 2006 from South Africa is a fruit forward wine with notes of blackberry and herbs accompanied by black earth, smoke and acidic undertones. This dark red wine is medium bodied with grippy tannins. Tom purchased this wine for under $10 and we feel it is an excellent-valued wine.

Tonight, I taught the final class of an eight-week graduate-level course in educational leadership. I will sincerely miss my students because they were intelligent, passionate, and perceptive. I loved every single one of them. They invited me to the bar to celebrate the end of our class, but I did not join them because I have an early-morning meeting tomorrow. However, this “clink” is to them . . . and I’ll tell you each of their names from memory as I picture each and every student tonight.

Here’s to you Emily, Lisa, Paula, Michael, Emma, Melissa, George, Scott, Jennifer, Kathryn, Karen, Matt, Amy, Jason, Brian (yes, I am visualizing you as you sit in the classroom from right to left). Cheers to you and congratulations to you for finishing the Organizational Theory class!

Zaràfa Pinotage (2007)

Zarafa Pinotage 2007This Zaràfa Pinotage 2007 from South Africa is full bodied, lively, full of berries, smoke, and pepper, with notes of bananas and pineapple. Long lasting on the tongue. We are finishing this bottle, which we opened the other night.

We have had a fabulous weekend getting ready for Thanksgiving. Guests bedrooms are fresh and clean, groceries are purchased, candles are everywhere — we are ready!

Tonight I have made a very simple meal of goulash. I browned hamburger and onions in the cast-iron skillet, added beef broth and chopped tomatoes, brought to a boil, and then added elbow macaroni. We will have this with steamed broccoli. It just seems like an appropriate meal for the Sunday prior to our Thanksgiving feast.

Fairview Pinotage 2005

Fairview Pinotage 2005Our friend Richard told us that he has discovered an excellent pinotage: Fairview Pinotage 2005. Richard mentioned that Pinotage is becoming his favorite varietal and that an advantage of pinotage is that it peaks sooner than other varieties and so a 2005 may be at its peak. We’ll be on the lookout for this.

Nederburg Pinotage (2004)

Nederburg Pinotage 2004After Richard’s recommendation of Hill and Dale Pinotage, we set out to find one. We did not find his recommendation but did find this South African version by Nederburg. The first sip explodes with fruit, but it feels much different than an Australian fruit-forward red. It has a thinner texture and a woody aftertaste. The aroma is of raspberries and it has a long and satisfying finish. The tastes of vanilla and wood linger long after you swallow. There is something about this that reminds me of the Shady Lane pinot noir that we bought in the Leelanau Penninsula in Northern Michigan. This pinotage is refreshing and bold. Very easy to drink.

Tom: This has an interesting, cabernet-like taste. Tannic. Some berry fruit flavor, but reserved, not jammy. Strong taste of alcohol (13.5%). In some ways a similar taste to the cabs we’ve been drinking, but obviously a different varietal from a different part of the world. We’ll have to look more into pinotage.

Hill & Dale Pinotage 2003

Our friend Richard wrote us that that he was impressed with a Hill & Dale Pinotage 2003 from South Africa. His notes are: “Earthy, oaky, and really distinctive.”

Richard spotted that The Boston Globe listed this wine as a best value from around the world at under $10. We haven’t tasted it but we will definitely be on the lookout for it.