Red


What a wonderful whirlwind life has been lately! This won’t be any surprise to any parents out there but it was sure a shock to me… my life has really changed! I’ve traded in my wine glasses for baby bottles as of late but I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and things will calm down a bit once we’re out of this newborn phase (all the parents out there are saying “Yeah right!”). Ok a girl can dream… Anyway, my husband and I had our first night out in December (umm we’re now coming up on April if that gives you any indication about how behind I am with this) and it was fabulous! Still, though, while I’m out I’m constantly thinking of the little one and wondering what she’s doing. That didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying the delicious wine and food we had that night, though!

We went to dinner at Azuma as I was craving sushi non-stop the entire time I was pregnant! I’m sure our waiter thought I was crazy because I ordered enough sushi for about three people and just plowed through it! It had been a long time coming and I wasn’t feigning a dainty appetite. It was delightful! I enjoyed a clean, crisp glass of champagne (Chandon Classic Brut if memory serves… always a favorite) with my sushi but was saving my real wine delights for Cova next door. We walked over after dinner and it was packed as always. I always enjoy the atmosphere in there. I ordered the Sexy, Silky and Sensual wine flight which was completely enjoyable. The first glass was an old favorite of mine that I had sort of forgotten about, Laetitia Pinot Noir ’07. I was so happy to become reacquainted with this lovely wine and it was even better because we also ordered the Sarah’s favorite brownie with caramel topping for dessert and it was a sublime pairing. I was in Heaven and this was just the first glass. The dessert really brought out the creaminess in the wine and the warm, smooth caramel undertones. My mouth is literally watering as I’m reliving this in my mind. It had a little bit of lavender on the nose which always reminds me of the lavender fields at Becker Vineyards in Fredericksburg. One of my favorite places. The second offering in the flight was new to me, Cru Pinot Noir ’07 from Vigna Monte Nero, CA. It was totally different from the first glass and I never was able to really get my head around it. It had a tangy, meaty smell which reminded me of jerky. It had a clean finish and very little aftertaste. I’m sure if I would have ordered this on it’s own it would have been fine, but it just did not flow with everything else I was tasting that night. Definitely the odd man out. The last glass was Ancien Pinot Noir ’07 from Carneros, CA. I’m a sucker for Carneros Pinots so this was definitely more my speed. It reminded me of the Laeticia a little bit because of the floral hints on the nose. It had a warm, buttery flavor and a smooth texture. There was a slight hint of raspberry on the nose and palate. This would be a great holiday party wine. It was very good and I would definitely order this and the Laeticia again.

All in all it was a great night out with the hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed myself! I no longer take for granted nice meals and nice wine. It’s become such a treat but still nowhere near as sweet as the little treat I have at home! Cheers to all the parents out there! I get it now!

“When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore” – Dean Martin

Santa Margherita Chianti Classico 2006My new Italian love. Sophistication starts immediately with a gorgeous bottle that looks older than it is, like you might have to blow a bit of dust off the label. Deep reds and gold hues give  overt impressions of good taste and class. Inside, the contents are just as elegant. Medium bodied wine with a smoky, structured backbone. It was absolutely delicious with the papparadelle from La Vista that I picked up for dinner that night.  It suited the hearty mushroom ragout and goat cheese perfectly. I beheld rich aromas and flavors of coffee and tart plums with a chocolate, caramel and toffee aftertaste. It was a stunning combination. Well balanced and smooth, it was extremely easy to drink. I found this new favorite for about $23 and it gave me more than enough reasons to seek it out again. I highly recommend this gorgeous wine. It obviously works with Italian food but would be just as lovely for a cozy evening curled up on the couch with your own amore (ok so I’m not Italian…). 

2 Brothers & A Blackout

I think this might well be one of those wines destined to always be surrounded by a story. Reading on the bottle about how these two brothers came together to create a tribute to their mother and raise money to fight the Big Tattoo Reddisease that took her life is one of the reasons I bought this wine in the first place. Well, that and the fact that this looked like a wine that didn’t play around and after the day I’d had, I didn’t need any wimpy wine. Big Tattoo Red from Chile is a 50/50 blend of cabernet sauvignon and syrah, promising a glass filled with some substance.

So I buy the wine. I go home and decide that I’m actually so tense from the day that I need a hot bath (a very rare occasion indeed for me to actually sit still long enough to just sit in a bathtub). I pop the cork (actually I twist the cap but that doesn’t sound as dramatic), pour a glass while the water is running and immediately a delicious aroma fills the air. Now I’m getting excited. Should I get some candles to make it even more relaxing? No, I don’t feel like finding any, I thought. I step into the bath that I accidentally made so hot it felt like it was almost boiling… oops. I finally settle in and take a sip of my wine. Wow. Just what I needed! Ripe berry flavors fill my mouth and I’ve decided I like this wine. A lot.  

Hold that thought… PITCH BLACK. That’s right. My power goes out. I should have lit the damn candles! First I go into panic mode as I am, as previously stated, in the bathtub. I can’t see a thing and my first concern is how to scramble out of the slippery tub (I am now completely aware of the danger of bath oils) without spilling my precious wine and soaking my Blackberry. I tried to think of where all of those decorative candles I had stashed randomly around the house were and set out on my wild goose chase. I might as well have had my eyes closed. Now where are my matches?? Finally I find some supplies and decide that the universe must be trying to tell me something. I’m going to finish my bath and try to relax without any distractions (including light… so overrated) and figure this mess out later. So I lit a few candles and settled back into my steaming hot bath with my lovely glass of wine… oh yeah, I also happened to pick up the bottle whilst on my hunt for candles. I mean, who knew how long I would be in there?

Honestly, I’m glad it happened. It forced me to sit back and actually take a deep breath and fully accomplish what I had set out to do… unwind. It allowed me to clear my mind from the day’s stresses and discover a beautiful wine created for a beautiful reason. It was rich and flavorful and I thought it tasted just like fresh blackberries. A bit tart in the beginning, it opened up and relaxed, softening as it had time to breathe; not unlike myself that night. I would suggest this wine to anyone who is looking for a bold red wine with a lot of personality and style. It was complex and well structured and a great value at only $10. Big Tattoo Red gets a BIG recommendation from me. Bottoms up! 

This Wine Was Flirting With Me… (And I Really Liked It)

Upon first sip, this wine and I were in love… or maybe it was lust. We hadn’t really gotten to know each other yet. It was sexy and sophisticated but still flirty and fun. This is not a wine that takes itself too seriously. It is incredibly smooth and went down (almost too) easily. It made me want to put on my highest pair of black and red Christian Louboutins and go do something especially fabulous, preferably something resembling a hot date. Alas, I was just sitting alone in my boudoir (it’s a French wine so I can say that) thinking of how I would write about this seductive little number. I just kept thinking about how this wine had really grabbed my attention. My lack of reviews lately has definitely not been for my lack of research but just my lack of excitement about anything I’ve recently tried. Nothing has really made me perk up and pay attention. The mystery in this bottle will keep you interested all the way through to the end. It evolves and grows with each sip. I kept putting my nose to the glass to breathe in the sultry aroma. While it did have the standard black cherry notes, there was something floral there that I don’t know exactly how to describe except to tell you what I saw when I closed my eyes. I kept picturing dark exotic orchids and plum colored roses swirling together. It had more body and sass than any pinot noir I’ve had in a long time. It was a definite surprise, especially for the price. I found this at Kroger for around $11. That’s a steal! Please take my advice on this one and put Hob Nob Pinot Noir on your shopping list. This is one way to bring a little romance and spice into an otherwise ordinary evening at home. Who couldn’t use that?

“Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.” ~ Andre Simon

While InStyle magazine is typically thought of as being all about the season’s hottest fashions (for your body) every once in a while they throw out something more. After all, being stylish is about the whole package, not just who you’re wearing. In the September 2008 issue they ran an article about actor Kyle MacLachlan and his new wine label, Pursued by Bear. It was a collaboration with Dunham Cellars. Pursued by Bear is a cabernet sauvignon produced in Washington State. The name is a tribute to a man of definite literary style, Shakespeare. Apparently “Pursued by Bear” was a stage direction in A Winter’s Tale, which I actually had to “rewrite” in a college English class so it holds a special place in my heart. This article basically highlights the party MacLachlan threw for his friends to introduce his new wine and though it looks like a fabulous party, there are a lot of photos of guests drinking white wine. Even the opening shot of Kyle walking in his garden shows him with a champagne flute in hand… Maybe it was a very small harvest and there wasn’t much to go around.

At the end of the article there were some tips on wine as well as alfresco (outdoor) dining that I found interesting and decided to share with my fellow Uncorkers. Enjoy!

5 Essential Wine Tips
GUEST:  If you would like to bring a bottle for the host but are unsure of the dinner menu a pinot noir is always a versatile choice (it plays well with others).
HOST:  If you aren’t quite sure how much wine to buy for a dinner party this helps you out with the math. A bottle typically fills about five glasses and with dinner guests usually have two glasses each. Perhaps my guests are just a little less bashful but I can usually count on mine to have more than two so I suggest overestimating rather than underestimating. Always better to have too much than too little I always say.
GLASS:  This was something I found helpful. It gave a suggestion for a great looking glass that would work for white or red wine. I like the look of uniform glasses so I liked this idea. The glass they suggested was the Spiegelau Burgundy glass which they say is $10. Stock up! (PS if you click HERE you can find out more about Pursued by Bear. I stumbled upon that looking for the glass coincidentally…)
DECANT:  Their advice is to decant young red wines to “knock off some of the hard edges” for thirty minutes before drinking. Also decant if the wine is old and you are worried about sediment.
STORE:  The ideal temperature for wine storage is 55° (I have yet to invest in a wine fridge) but it says that if you don’t have a wine cooler you should keep it in a cool interior space such as a closet or basement. If you’re in Texas you know the basement is obviously not an option… If a bottle needs to be chilled quickly place it in the freezer for 20 minutes but NEVER serve it with ice.

Gorgeous Aussie Shiraz

I will definitely buy this wine again. For $11.99 (at Fountainview Liquors in Houston), this wine is an excellent value. It was smooth and easy going but definitely meant business. The deep and dark liquid definitely provided some purple lips but they were worth every sip. Those nearest and dearest to me affectionately refer to this as “Mandee Mouth”. This big-bodied beauty from South Australia’s McLaren Vale was heavily laden with flavors of smoky cedar and blue and black fruit which then led to a rich chocolate finish. We drank this wine after dinner with a warm dark chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. It was an ideal match. One bite followed by one sip. It was absolutely delicious. This wine tastes much more expensive than it is. It was awarded 91 points by Robert Parker and deserves it. It’s sophisticated but still has fun. The quirky art on the label is an example of this. The 2006 vintage will be released with six different labels, starting with the Ms. Strong Arms, which was on the bottle I selected. Strong Arms is produced by R Wines. You can find out more about this and other Aussie wines at the Grateful Palate Imports website. I highly recommend trying this one… I think you’ll be glad you did.

Educated Guess Pinot Noir!

I have it on good authority (from Mark Albrecht, owner of Roots Run Deep winery) that there is an Educated Guess Pinot Noir on the way to Houston! So far we have only been able to savor the elusive Cabernet but that is soon to change! Mr. Albrecht emailed me yesterday and said, “Mandee, I just wanted to update you and let you know that our distributor in Texas has just ordered some of our Pinot Noir, so in the next month or two you will begin seeing it in your local retailers and restaurants.  You certainly can help move it along by requesting it at Specs or Central Markets, etc…” So there you have it from the man himself. I plan on asking for it the next time I go to Spec’s and hopefully they will order some. I’m dying to try it! If you find any please let me know where. Until then I’ll be on the lookout!

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