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Category Archives: Wine of the Week

WOTW – Did Your Mama Teach You That?

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The Other Guys Wines make Hey Mambo. And they named this one Kinky Pink.

 Right now you are singing Mambo Italiano… so here’s another version of Hey Mambo to get THAT out of your head.

Now, on to Kinky Pink. Because it’s definitely worth talking about.

BottleShot Kinky PinkI opened a bottle of Kinky Pink Rosé on a fine spring day in Cleveland and waited to see what would happen. Their Sultry Red is one of my most recommended chillable reds – I’ve poured it at a number of tastings, including this one in January, so I was interested to see what they do with a Rosé.

The color in the glass is a beautiful pink. Aromas of orange blossom, strawberry and peony. (the winery says wisteria… i didn’t smell it, so maybe my nose has gone old school floral on me)

The Kinky Pink is 98% pinot noir with a splash (2%) of Chardonnay. Pinot Noir rosés can be a bit thin – but this is a medium bodied wine which will hold up nicely with spring and summer dishes.

It starts with tart cherry and clementine and has a pleasing finish of strawberry and lemon. Light chicken dishes, pasta salads, your Sunday ham – all great pairings with this wine.

The good folks at The Other Guys sent me a bottle of their new Rose, as well as a bottle of the Sultry Red, and I’d recommend either of them as great summer sippers!

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Crop’s Minor Delight – a Pinot Noir

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On a very chilly evening MrWineOH and I ventured out to Crop Bistro to see what the talk was all about. One of the new additions to the restaurant scene in Ohio City – we were excited to sit at the chef’s table and partake of some delicacies.

I want to hit the highlights on the food, because the real story was a beautiful pinot noir I encountered. When we were seated at the Chef’s Table, which is a beautiful granite bar in front of the kitchen – we weren’t sure what to expect. But we were quickly treated to a gift from the kitchen. As an amuse bouche, we received this gorgeous egg on a little plate. The Chile Deviled Egg ($4 for 3 or $8 for 6) is a taste bud delight! I highly recommend them. Did I mention that sometimes they are pink? Yeah, you’d think that’d be a little freaky, but the flavor is incredible.

Another highlight was the Cherry Bomb – a little culinary genius that closely resembles a deep fried onion, but in reality is a wonton wrapped combination of plum tomato, chorizo sausage, jack cheese, and corn. This appetizer as shown is $8 and worth every penny. Cutting into it is a beautiful sight and the flavors blend beautifully.

One great thing we found is that a few appetizers a piece were filling and the perfect way to taste several of their signature dishes. I would not recommend the chef’s table though. The way you are seated makes the waitstaff reach around you to set plates or refill a wine glass. Its awkward.

Speaking of wine!

Sean Minor Carneros 2010 Pinot NoirAfter much consternation over the wine list, and the obvious frustration of MrWineOH and our server… I selected the 2010 Sean Minor Carneros Pinot Noir. List price is $42 there.

All I can tell you is – its absolutely lovely! Cherry, plum, a bit of blueberry – and nicely balanced spice and earthiness on the finish. While this pinot noir is aged 10 months in 100% French oak of which 20% is new – there isn’t overwhelming oak on the palate. I could smell the oak – but it was beautifully integrated into the flavors.

For my wine geek readers, this is a blend of Pommard and Dijon clones sourced from Carneros vineyards.

And at 13.5% abv (alcohol by volume) it isn’t overwhelming on the alcohol, even at this young age. Don’t get me wrong – it is a bit hot – but it mellowed nicely on day two –  after the server was nice enough to recork the half bottle I had remaining. This is definitely one I’d decant, or at least let sit in the glass for a while before sipping.

I see this paired with many dishes, but its not light enough for seafood – definitely a medium bodied wine for heavier white meat dishes or pasta. Don’t go crazy with italian spices with this – you will lose the beautiful subtlety of the fruit.

The winery sells this for $22 – I haven’t seen it in local shops, but the distributors have it in Ohio, so ask for it! Its a good buy at retail.

Now, will we be returning to Crop Bistro for a full meal? The jury is out on that. The other apps we had were okay, but not fabulous – and even though we spent what we’d typically spend for a night out – the great wine and the company made the evening, not the location. For a business dinner – I think it works – for a regular night out? Maybe not.

*** We’ve got some great events coming soon! Beer and Cupcakes THIS Sunday – tickets still available. And Wine and Cupcakes – West Side – White Wines for Spring – on March 22 – tickets available here!

Also – Our very first East Side Wine and Cupcakes will be April 28 at The Wine Spot in Cleveland Heights – those tickets will be up soon!  ***

WOTW – Belleruche Rouge

Belleruche There are some wines that just seem to circle through our wine cellar on a regular basis. It doesn’t hurt that this one is widely available and retails in that precious “under $13” sweet spot.

Belleruche Rouge – a Cotes du Rhone from Domaine M. Chapoutier is made from 80% Grenache (the grape variety used primarily in Châteauneuf-du-Pape to the south) and 20% Syrah (the grape used to make the Rhône valley’s most famous red wines in Côte Rôtie, Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage, and St Joseph to the north). Chapoutier is known for his wines that bring upwards of three figures, but this one, and its blanc and rosé sisters, are an affordable $11.99 or so.

One of the things that will stand out when you see this bottle is the braille label. The label is produced in homage to one of France’s favorite sons, Maurice de la Sizeranne – blind since the age of 9, and one of France’s most famous philanthropists of the 19th century. Braille appears on each of the wineries labels, including Chapoutier’s highest end wines.

Sizerrane is known for his interest in literature for the blind, and founded the Revue du Braille, as well as perfecting the system of abbreviated Braille widely used today in France. Sizerrane also owned a small parcel of land where Michel Chapoutier sources the fruit from one of the Chateau’s most famous wines.

This is a great dinner wine, but works well as a sipper because of the medium body. Spice, pepper, nice acidity. We’ve paired it with chili, chicken, pork and charcuterie.

And to think you get all of that history in a well balanced, fruity, spicy $11.99 bottle! Highly recommended.

 

WOTW – Pennywise, but not pound foolish

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I’ve been a fan of The Other Guys for a while now. I first had their wines back in 2006 when I was just exploring all that my local wine shops had to offer. There are 5 wines made under the Pennywise label – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Syrah. I’ve had the Petite Syrah and the Pinot Noir.

2009 Pennywise Pinot Noir

The Pinot is what we opened as a pre-dinner sipper. You must understand that we are pinot lovers, and we typically don’t spend our mortgage money on cult pinot,s much to the chagrin of Rex Pickett’s character in Sideways. We are looking for “affordable and delicious”. That is what you will find in the 2009 Pennywise Pinot Noir.

The Other Guys is a wine producer run by one of California’s oldest winemaking families. August Sebastiani is a 4th generation wine maker, and president of TOG. They’ve been doing this for a while, and I haven’t had a wine from TOG that I didn’t like.

The Pinot Noir is blended from the grapes of several vineyards and that blending provides a flavor profile that is pleasing to the nose and to palate. Cherries and a the slightest smell of cotton candy greet your olfactory sense, while strawberry and a hint of vanilla add to those aromas on your palate. Its smooth, with mild tannins and a lingering finish.

This is an easy drinker, but will pair well with burgers or chicken for your mid-week dinner. I could easily pair this with a chicken pot pie, or a homemade meatloaf – as well as a more upscale meal. Even a little acidity wouldn’t bother this wine.

It is (usually) widely available in Cleveland wine shops and comes in at a pleasant $10.99 in our area.

On another note, since I mentioned Rex Pickett – if you enjoy a good novel about wine, pick up Sideways, or the new sequel Vertical.

Excellent reads. You can click on the images below for more information about the books.

WOTW – Le Jaja de Jau Syrah

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We opened this one on a random evening – pairing it up with Frank’s great spaghetti sauce over linguine. One of these days I’ll learn to make pasta… but until then, the box works out pretty well.

From the CHÂTEAU DE JAU in ROUSSILLON, FRANCE – built in 1792, and nestled in the southernmost foothills of the Roussillon slopes of the Corbières Mountains in French Catalonia. The estate produces an array of wines, including three very affordable Le Jaja de Jau varieties – a syrah, a sauvignon blanc and a syrah rose. Jaja is a slang phrase for the region’s delicious full-flavored, everyday wines. It is the house selection in local bistros and restaurants, and that’s a great descriptor for this one. A structured but uncomplicated Syrah, it’s easily paired with your everyday chicken, pasta or beef dishes. Anything with a little bit of kick, or a tomato base, will do well with Le Jaja from the vineyards of the Vin de Pays d’Oc.

I will give you the warning to be careful with the screw cap. This one bit in as we removed it. I’d recommend opening it up with a towel or some covering if you don’t want it to draw blood or leave a scrape. The metal band shredded before we got it loosened up.

Other than the problem with the cap, the wine was a good, drinkable Syrah. Well balanced tannins and acid, a hint of raspberry on the palate. We’ll be keeping a few bottles of this one around.

Every wine lover with a budget looks for pleasant, drinkable wines that don’t break the bank. This one comes in at $8.99 from World Market. Follow this link for other places to buy this wine.

For another opinion on this wine, see what The Reverse Wine Snob had to say.

Wine of the Week: Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Franc

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This is my new weekly feature called Wine of the Week – its a short review and recommendation of wine I loved in the past week (gee, I had to stretch for the title, huh?) You’ll see it hereafter referred to as WOTW for brevity. Or laziness, or both.

I’m not usually one to haphazardly buy wines over $20 per as I wander through a wine store, at least not when I’m restocking for the week. But I was in Rozi’s Wine House on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland just before New Years and found a wine I had to have. I’d been hankerin’ (that’s a technical term) for a good Cabernet Franc and had been remiss in not ordering anything from my beloved Virginia Cab Franc gods. When I found the 2008 Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Franc, I clutched it to my chest like a long lost brother from the Corps.

Alexander Valley Vineyard - Cabernet FrancThis wine runs $24.99 at Rozi’s, so its not horribly expensive by any stretch – and I will tell you, its worth every       nickel and dime if you enjoy Cab Franc.  The 2009 is available on their website, I can’t speak directly to that one, and I might suggest buying it and putting it away for a bit, but the 2008 is VERY drinkable now, and also could sit in the cellar, but not for too long – its just that good right now.

Alexander Valley Vineyards has been making wine since 1975 in Sonoma County. Maggie and Harry Wetzel purchased the property in 1962 and were one of the first in the area to plant grapes. They produce about 100,000 cases annually, including 17 varietal wines and proprietary blends. Seventy-five percent of AVV’s production is red wine. Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon constitute half of total production. They also produce Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Gewurztraminer, Syrah, Sangiovese, Viognier, and this incredible Cabernet Franc.

The 2008 Cab Franc is an estate wine, but not single vineyard, having been sourced from several of the family’s properties. They made 1400 cases, and aged it for 14 months on 100% french oak, 50% of which was new. I’m not one for an over-oaked Cab Franc – as I love the flavor of the grape and don’t want it hidden in the oak, and this wine is a great balance of oak for aging and the beautiful cab franc flavor. It comes in at 14%, but a few years in the bottle shows beautiful smooth tannins and not a hint of heat (higher alcohol) that I usually taste at 14%.

Berries and spice come out of this wine on my palate, and it smells, well… yummy. As I said on twitter when I poured it, there was a winegasm in my kitchen. Gorgeous wine.

As if you couldn’t tell, I highly recommend this one. The price is out of my daily drinking range, but I’ll definitely be going back to it; and trying the 2009 as well. I’d pair it with a lighter meat dish – herbed pork loin perhaps, not too heavy on the pepper. This is a wine you want to show through, not be eclipsed by your meal. I almost want to put a salted caramel dessert with it… just to see how it shines. If you are on “the tweeter” – follow them at @avvwinery.

Happy Sipping!

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