Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tasting Corner for Bluestone Vineyard

Here's a new feature for our blog. We like to visit vineyards, wineries, and wine stores for tastings because (i) it's cheap (or even free!), (ii) you can try a variety of wines, and (iii) it's a fun experience to share! Therefore, hopefully we'll be having even more of these tasting corners on the blog.  :)

Bluestone Vineyard is located Bridgewater, Virginia. It's a new vineyard...just opened up in January of 2011. We enjoyed our visit there and wish them lots of luck; the tasting was FREE and was provided by the son of the owner, who was super-enthusiastic and sweet. I'd suggest stopping by in you're in the Bridgewater area.

Through the link posted above, you can access the Vineyard's descriptions of their wine. For the tasting corner, we'll post the name and basics of the wine, followed by our own, unique descriptors. Remember that our descriptors are based on a small sample...and we liked the reds much more than the whites. Prepare for fun!

2009 Vidal Blanc: light, dry Virginia white wine ($13.50)
Adam's Thoughts: awful bouquet--probably good with something very sweet to counter the wine
Cathy's Thoughts: it tastes like Kathie Lee Gifford would like it--and that's all I can say with a straight face. Rating 2.10

2009 Traminette: spicy white wine ($16.50)
Adam's Thoughts: forward, fruity; might be great with curry dishes
Cathy's Thoughts: bouquet is like a sharp cheddar, but taste is much more muted, even semi-watery. Rating: 4.30

2009 Chardonnay: Virginia chardonnay, white wine ($18.50)--disclaimer: we dislike chards.
Adam's Thoughts: need to drink a few glasses (maybe a few bottles) until I feel like I could say anything positive
Cathy's Thoughts: sharp chardonnay; if you like chards, you may like this, but I'm not a fan (of any chard or this chard). Rating: 3.40 (that's me trying to actually convince myself that chards can have a scale)

Beau: golden wine, house speciality, named after their dog! ($14.50)
Adam's Thoughts: very diverse; could be paired with an entree or a dessert; might be nice to try with fish
Cathy's Thoughts: the bouquet is big, bold, busty, and wild but the taste is much calmer. It's pleasant and sweet, though it lacks the sweetness of a dessert wine and the bite of a white wine; I love that it's named after a dog! Rating: 6.62

2009 Cabernet Franc: light, dry red wine ($17.50)
 Adam's Thoughts: rosy appearance which wasn't expected; i wonder if any of this wine actually makes it down the throat because it just seems to evaporate within the mouth quickly
Cathy's Thoughts: shocking difference from the Cab Franc 08 from CrossKeys Vineyard (our wedding venue); bouquet was pleasant; taste was dry, minerally and yum but not yummy; lacked some juicy, fresh notes. Rating: 7.68

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon: traditional, dry red wine ($21.50)
Adam's Thoughts: hangs around more than the cab franc; needs some cow's blood to mix with it (read: would go well with a juicy steak)
Cathy's Thoughts: bouquet was kind of sharp and moody; taste was fruit-forward, pleasant, and bit heavier than I would have expected. Rating: 7.74

Southern Nights: deep, red wine ($23.50)--we bought a bottle!
Adam's Thoughts: tip-toes from front of tongue all the way down the throat; has an almost JMU-intense purple
Cathy's Thoughts: deep, pungent bouquet balances well with a smooth taste; it almost has a silky syrah-like taste. Rating: 9.72

Fireside: deep, red wine ($25.50)--we bought a bottle!
Adam's Thoughts: not as sweet as a port, but still a great sipper
Cathy's Thoughts: deep, intense bouquet; the taste had a deep jammyness that was rich, deep, and flavorful; I also found myself comparing it to port and finding it a bit lacking--I think with a bit of sweetness this wine would have knocked my socks off. Rating: 9.85


Thursday, February 17, 2011

La Aldea Monastrell 2007

Wine Facts for La Aldea
Grape Varietal: Monastrell (known as Mourvèdre outside Spain)
Vintage: 2007
Country: Spain
Producer: Casa don Ventura, through Casaventura Imports
Price: $8.99
Place of Purchase: Vintage Wines, Harrisonburg, VA

Additional facts: Mourvèdre grapes are usually blended with other grapes, especially to make grenache. The grape itself ripens very late, but ripening is helped by proximity to a large body of water or by heavy months of rainfall.
Oh, we found a grape and maybe a bit of a stem inside the bottle....kinda weird!!

Characteristics of
La Aldea
Appearance:very dark purple-burgandy
Bouquet: pungent and somewhat alcoholy(?) but oddly flat; really no fruit to brighten the smell

Adam's Overall Thoughts:
I first had this with pork fried rice topped with hot mustard. That pairing made the wine enjoyable; it worked with the spiciness of the meal. Tasting it by itself was a different matter. I wouldn't consider this a stand-alone wine; it wasn't that great to sip minus the food. With food, though, it stood up well; it soothed some of the heat and didn't overpower any of the flavor, probably because it doesn't have much of its own.

Cathy's Overall Thoughts: This scored high on wine charts, but I guess that just proves that I will never be a wine master!  :) I didn't have the hot mustard part of Adam's meal, so I really didn't get any spice to see if it held up well. For me, it was fairly flat and unobtrusive. When I swallow it, it doesn't jazz any additional taste buds. Although it has a deep rich color (and I love deep, dark reds), it made me wish there was more of a punch and more pizzazz to its flavor. Pretty basic; not much backbone.
On my scale, it's a 6.74.

We paired with: sushi, fried rice, and chicken satay
We recommend this: with Asian dishes....or not at all!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Fetzer Gewürztraminer 2009

Wine Facts for Fetzer Gewürztraminer
Grape Varietal:  Gewürztraminer
Vintage: 2009
Country: USA
Region: California, specifically Hopland in Mendocino County
Producer: Fetzer, The Earth Friendly Winery
Price: $7.99
Place of Purchase: Martin's Food Market, Harrisonburg, VA

Additional facts:
I first encountered Gewürztraminers when I was living in Columbia, MD. My wonderful friends Dave & Denise Harris took me to a fabulous Chinese restaurant and Denise ordered Gewürz (as it's affectionately known). It's a great pairing for spicy foods, Asian foods, and fish because it calms the palate and brings out the more subtle flavors within those rich foods. Although I'm not a huge fan of whites, this is one of my favorite white varietals!
Gewürztraminer literally means "Spice Traminer" or "Perfumed Traminer." Although Traminer varietal grapes (an ancient varietal) were similar to Sauvignon Blanc grapes, they were actually cross-bred with Muscat grapes, which is why Gewürztraminers have a floral, fruity muscat with the clean dry crispness of Sauv Blanc. Don't you love genetics? Although Gewürztraminers are originally German wines, they are now produced world-wide. This Fetzer is one of the least expensive, but really has a great taste.

Characteristics of
Fetzer Gewürztraminer
Appearance: light goldenrod; some small bubbles
Bouquet: slight sweet and floral with crisp overtones

Adam's Overall Thoughts:
The wine coats the tongue with a hint of honey as a bit of spice hits the back of the throat. The fish we had with it was a tad lemony, which wasn't the best pairing for the wine. Overall, though, it worked well with the flounder, with the wine's crispness adding a nice addition to the palate.

Cathy's Overall Thoughts:
When this wine enters the mouth, I feel a sense of lightness and freshness. It doesn't overwhelm the palate, but it does have twinges of both sweet and savory that I find pleasing. Now, some wine memories do stick with me and may make me overhype the wine, but I really do enjoy Gewürzs. They dance on the tongue without the sappy sweetness and the dry harshness of their grape varietal ancestors. This Fetzer has been a favorite because it's cheap, it gets the true taste of the Gewürz out there, and it just brings a smile to my face. Try it with some Asian food and do a happy dance!  :)
On my scale, it's a 8.94 (pretty high for a white!).

We paired with: baked flounder and vegetables (mushrooms, red peppers, and squash)
We recommend this with: fish or asian food


Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Adam and I went to an all-Moscato tasting on Saturday. It was wonderful (as we knew it would be, since we love Moscatos), and we tried some old favorites and some new types too. We ended up buying a few bottles--one Moscato of the same brand that we had at our wedding, another Moscato that we had before in Frederick (MD) and loved, and a red varietal. But here's where the FAIL begins...

On Sunday, Adam and I were running around--cooking, cleaning, baking, etc to get ready for the small Superbowl party we threw.  We had some beer and smirnoff, but I thought people might want wine as well, so Adam put the Frederick Moscato (it's lemony and gorgeously fruity) in the freezer. We have put wine in the freezer before, when we're trying to quickly lower the temperature. (Gift idea for us: a temperature-controlled wine fridge!!)

Well, we forgot about it. Just plain forgot all about it. The beer, smirnoff, and other drinks that our guests brought proved to be more than enough. So, on Monday, I open the freezer to take something out for dinner. The bottle was on its side, just as Adam placed it, but the cork had exploded out and there was mushy, slushy-like Moscato all over the place. It took awhile to clean up. And, even though there was still something frozen in the bottle, when it melted it just tasted like water. Total bummer.

Lessons learned:
1. Don't leave wine in the freezer (I think I'll just be doing quick freezes or keeping it safe in the fridge from now on). We don't know exactly when it the slushiness, I would think sometime on Monday morning. Only our darling dog Oliver knows for sure, I guess.
2. Always think about wine; don't take it for granted. I fear that I took this Moscato for granted and was punished accordingly.
3. Don't feel like you have to appropriately chill wines all the time. If it's a Superbowl party, you may not have to drink it at the perfect temperature. It is just a game after all!

I know it could have been worse. The cork could have exploded when we were taking it out. Or the bottle could have shattered, which would have been a hot mess.  But, still, we lost a perfectly good bottle of Moscato. What a major fail. I was so upset that I couldn't even take a picture of the slushy Moscato mess.  :(

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Torrontes from Argentina

We're both huge fans of Malbecs, a distinctly Argentinian wine. The New York Times highlighted today what might be the big thing to come out of the country: Torrontes. It's a grape that's almost only grown in Argentina and may be the white counterpart to malbec as far as popularity. Part of the excitement I have is that it's got muscat in its genes. (We had Moscato d'Asti at our wedding, which is from the muscat grape.) Here's the link to the article. Enjoy!