Red Tail Ridge Winery, Finger Lakes, NY

While in the Finger Lakes, another winery visited was Red Tail Ridge.

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This one is a decade old and they have about 50 acres of land on which they grow their grapes. They produce smaller amounts of wines so they can focus on quality vs. quantity. Their tasting is $5 for 6 wines (then you tend to get a bit more).

I checked out these guys:

2016 Dry Rose. Tart cherries, cranberries and fresh mint with the minerality of seashells on the nose. Softer notes of apricot and fresh strawberries follow. The palate brings out red raspberries, fennel and mandarin oranges. e heavy mid-palate is cut with a phenolic bitter note and a slightly tacky sensation to finish, $20.95 – I got a sweet chalk on the nose and strawberries when I sipped it.

2016 Sans (without) Oak Chardonnay. The wine opens up with Bosc pears, tart apples, undertones of stoniness and hints of citrus. The palate begins with white cherry, golden delicious apples, and bouncy citrus notes all highlighted with a slight spritz mouthfeel to keep the wine lively. Minerality and lemon oil notes linger, $13.95 – No nose, though after awhile it finally opened up bit. Tasted oaky to me, but maybe it was the Finger Lake grapes?

2015 Dry Riesling. Crisp pears, starfruit and limestone on the nose, followed by lemongrass and soft floral accents. The palate adds peaches, creamy lemon curd, and bright yellow apples. Minerality comes mid-palate with a puckering acidity to cut the fattier mouthfeel and leave fresh notes of lemon and lime zest, $18.95 – Genuinely dry.

2016 Good Karma. Light notes of candied ginger, white peaches and lemon oil on the nose. Stoniness and orange blossom add to the aroma with honeysuckle. On the palate, more peaches with slight spice and pears along with sweet lime. Nice acidity rounding out the mouth to finish with lingering notes of citrus oil. (2.3% rs) *Good Karma is Riesling sourced from Seneca Lake, $13.95 – Sweet and thick on the nose, syrupy. Almost like drinking peach schnapps. The person pouring it was not happy with the comment at all.

2015 Pinot Noir. On the nose: coco dusted cherries, sweet tobacco, forest moss, and chocolate mint leaves. The palate begins bright with rhubarb notes that lead into deeper earthy mushrooms, black cherries and savory fennel. Mid-palate the deeper notes give way to the tingly acidity with fresh raspberries and wild strawberries. The acidity elongates this wine leaving your palate watering for more, $24.95 – Light body, got some chocolate and earth notes.

2015 Dornfelder. Earthy mushrooms fill the glass with a slight meatiness followed by dark fruit: currants and plums. On the palate, more dark earth notes emerge but give way to juicy fruit as the wine opens up in the glass. Boysenberries burst with dried stems of blackberries and soft vanilla. The wine has an umami note mid-palate with brininess and tart cherries to finish, $24.95 – Dark, NICE nose and taste. Definitely got the mushrooms. Had a good body, too.

2014 Blaufränkisch. Piercing blackberry, and black cherry fill the nose, followed by oregano, white pepper, allspice and worn leather. On the palate: ripe wild blackberries, warming vanilla and boysenberry. Rounded mid-palate but chalky, grippy sensations on the edges of the tongue. Darker earth notes with solid acidity and youthful tannins linger in the finish, $22.95 – Very light nose and body. Didn’t get anything from it. Wouldn’t buy it, especially for the price.

Serenity Vineyards, Finger Lakes, NY

Another stop on the Finger Lakes wine tour (Day 2) was Serenity Vineyards.

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The grapes were planted in 1977 and the tasting room opened in 2011. This is another vineyard where we split a couple tastings, one white, one red. The tastings here were $3 for 5 wines and you received $1 off if you made a purchase.

The winemaker, Bernard Cannac, provided an amazing amount of information. He’s originally from France and brought his knowledge to the Finger Lakes to make wine. One of the things he mentioned was that the betterness/growth of Finger Lakes wine truly depends on information and weather.

The wines we enjoyed included:

2013 Chardonnay. Toasted walnuts, pear, butter and lemon zest with a long finish, $14.99 – Just couldn’t place the taste.

2016 Seyval Blanc. Ripe white and green apple on the nose. Refreshing acidity in the palate. Common on East coast of South England, $13.99 – Totally got the peach.

2014 Dry Riesling. Gooseberry, flint stone honeydew melon and lime with a lively acidity, $14.99 – VERY dry, not bad at all.

2015 Dry Riesling. Caramel and apricot followed by white flower notes. Soft and complex mouthfeel, $16.99 – These grapes were on the vine for 2 weeks longer. Noble Rot, nose is sweeter than the prior Riesling.

2011 Pinot Noir. A light Pinot, highlighted red cherry, clove, caramel, smoke and oak, $21.99 – Made with French oak. Cool vintage, ages faster. Made with French oak. Like port on nose, overall it’s like a ‘light’ port.

2012 Pinot Noir. Ripe red cherry and cedar aromas with flavors of oak and red currant, $26.99 – Made with French oak. Hot and dry year. Darker color, earthier on nose. NICE. I preferred this one to the prior Pinot.

Note from Bernard – Hot & dry temps are best for Pinot Noir.

2013 Cabernet Franc. Eucalyptus and red berries aromas. Peppercorn leading to plum, leather and tobacco with smooth tannins, $19.99 – Port nose. Unique spices in it, definitely got the peppercorn. good body and nice nose.

2013 Mirth. Blend of Cabernet Franc (50%) and Merlot (50%). Blueberry, coffee beans and earthy notes with young tannins, $23.99 – The earthiness was very subtle. Good body and nice nose. Ended up leaving with a bottle of this.

2012 Merlot. Rich, earthy aromas with dark fruit flavors and vanilla. Soft tannins, $29.99 – WOW! Very unusual for the Finger Lakes.

This was definitely my favorite winery, and we randomly chose it. Thanks for the vino, Serenity Vineyards.

 

 

 

 

 

Winery Stop 2, Moorooduc Estate

The second place we decided to check out on wine-tour in Mornington Peninsula was Moorooduc Estate.  This place was established in 1982, and is a small, family run wine business. So small of a vineyardt that when you pull into the parking lot you see the garage/work area where the great grape juice is being made.  We took a few quick sips of the wine here.  Very different than the first place.

 

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2013 Moorooduc Estate Chardonnay (Pale lemon in colour with lovely fruit expression lemon/grapefruit citrus and white stone fruits, on the nose and palate with a crisp linear acid line and terrific length) – true Chard – buttery!

2013 Moorooduc Estate Pinot Noir (This wine, from the McIntyre, Robinson and Garden Vineyards, is bright cherry garnet in colour with a vibrant nose of red cherry, wild strawberry a hint of Campari and savoury notes of cloves, star anise and nutmeg. Elegant on the palate with bright fruit and crisp acidity the wine is long with a silky finish) – tough to explain but not my kind of PN

2013 Robinson Pinot Noir (On the palate, the red fruit is juicy and the spice is warm and subtle with violet notes. The wine shows generosity of mid-palate, and finishes with good acid and firm, silky tannins. Very good length with subtle power; complete and round) – earthy

2013 Garden Vineyard Pinot Noir (The whole bunch fermentation results in a deep garnet colour and a gorgeous savoury nose.  Aromas of teak, dark wild cherry, morel mushrooms, earthy notes and dark red roses abound.  There is a hint of roasting beef coated in chopped rosemary and thyme.  On the palate the firm, fine-grained tannins are king, surrounding the savoury, meaty yet plush flavours and textures creating a dark mouthfeel that goes on and on.  A beautifully balanced wine this pinot walks on the dark side and is seriously sexy!) – another very earthy one

2013 McIntyre Shiraz (no vinter notes on it) – Pinot drinker’s Shiraz

Nothing there I was thrilled with and not an overly eager-to-impress staff.  But you must visit to find that out, too bad.

Cheers to the Weekend

Have been sipping a range of drinks recently so thought I would pass them along as we enter the weekend.  They hit all the choices out there — beer, wines, liquor.  The rundown as the 5 o’clock whistle approaches.

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Beer:  It’s Flying Dog’s 25th Anniversary and I heard about their anniversary brew, Tropical Bitch.  It’s a Belgian-Style IPA, 8.0% ABV.  Per the description, “pineapple and mango dominate with subtle passion fruit and sticky sweet, yet crisply bitter, hop notes.”  Was finally able to snag a 6-pack.  Yeah, it’s ok.  Fairly bronze in color and just off in taste, for me.  Not that impressed (personally, keep that in mind).  I keep opening more to see if I like it and not so much, but the color is very cool.  It’s about $8-$10/6 pack.

White Wine:  Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc from Chile.  Nice and light, with subtle citrus notes.  Has just a perfect body to it.  Also has the convenient screw top.  Perfect to enjoy with some cheese or seafood, or totally on its own.  This is around $10-$15/bottle.

Red Wine:  Napa Cellars Pinot Noir. I’ll let you guess where it’s from. It has just a nice balance of subtle chocolate and berries.  Perfect.  What I loved is that I was able to pick some up for $10/bottle vs. the normal $20!

Margaritas:  Jose Cuervo Light Margaritas (pre-mixed).  Addiction in a bottle.  Only 95 calories a serving.  Just don’t read how small the serving is, ok?  It’s just perfect to throw some ice in a glass and pour this on top.  Then grab the chips, salsa and guac.  Can usually find this for $12-$15/bottle.

 
Drink on, my friends.

Ultimate Pinot Party

I’m part of a Meetup group that is in love with wine and hosted an event last night with the theme — Ultimate Pinot Party.  Guests had to bring a wine related to Pinot — Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinotage, Pinot Gris/Grigio/Blanc, etc.

Quite the selection came to the table.  I think the breakdown was roughly

3 Pinotage (my favorite, love South Africa)
Many Pinot Noir (Mendocino, Napa, Willamette Valley, other)
Pinot d’Alsace a blend of 3 Pinots: Blanc, Gris, Noir and Auxerrois
Pinot Meunier
Pinot Grigio
Pinot Blanc

There were likely a few others.  Some of them were empty come the end of the night!  Amazing to smell and taste the differences in vintages and regions, and of course varietals.  Cheers!

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Napa Cellars

Was working another wine tasting recently and was introduced to a new wine(ry) in CA —  Napa Cellars.  That’s the great thing about doing the tastings — finding all sorts of new wines (and getting paid to do it)!  The name sort of explains it all, location-wise.  The varietals were their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.  Both were great wines.

The Sauv had a crisp fruit taste – lemon, grapefruit.  The vintner describes it as “aromas of vibrant gooseberry, pineapple and fresh pink grapefruit followed by flavors of pear, guava, passion fruit, lime, sweet clover and melon.”  The price was $18 (on sale from low $20s)

The Pinot was amazing (I love Pinot!) and had some subtle leather and cherries, and unique spices.  It had a good, medium body to it.  When you read their comments you get “aromas of ripe cherry, sweet tobacco, raspberry, cedar and subtle spice followed by deep red cherry flavors and fantastic acidity.”  The price was $16 (also on sale from low $20).  These prices are in DC, so love to find out how much they vary from state-to-state, sale-to-sale.

Check them out if you’re looking for something new.

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2 bottles of red, a bottle of white…

Other than the fact that my count doesn’t match the Billy Joel song, it doesn’t only have to depend upon your appetite; come on.  There are so many factors to take into consideration.  Likes, dislikes, meal, mood, interest in new stuff, desperation?!

Anyway, I work wine tastings on the side and the past couple I’ve done have introduced me to some new vintners, which is something I quite enjoy.  I definitely have my favorites and normally stick to those — must expand!

The two reds were both Pinot Noirs from California, but very different.  The first was Frei Brothers in Russian River Valley.  Very light with the traditional fruit notes.  Would pair nicely with a salad or light/white meat or seafood.  Fruit would be great too, or why have food with it?  Come on.

The second Pinot was MacMurray Central Coast.  Very ‘thick’ for a Pinot.  Almost a light jam texture with some fig notes, maybe some cherries and light chocolate.  This could totally be paired with steak/heavier meat.  Loved it!  I picked one of these up before I left the store.  Both of these were around $20.

IMG_2887[1]Now the bottle of white I have recently added to my list (and wine rack) is the William Hill Sauvignon Blanc.  To me it screams grapefruit, which I love.  It’s definitely a citrus-laden wine.  Nice and crisp and runs $12-$14.

IMG_2908[1]Do you have any new wine finds?

Multiple Continents of Tastings

I figure since you can’t easily travel the world (time, money, etc), why not just grab a bottle of wine to check it out.  So, the past few weeks I’ve explored most of the world.  Between the Georgian wine I posted about recently (have some new bottles to be opened soon…) I have also checked out the following great vinos…

1) Chateau St. Jean, Pinot Noir, CA — (though this is Sonoma, think of Napa and support the locals by buying a bottle of Napa wine.  They’ve had aftershocks after the big quake on Sunday.) Amazing, amazing CA Pinot — cherry and some leather.  Was enjoyed with salmon.

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2)  Phebus, Malbec (Reserve), Mendoza, Argentina.  Very nice.  Berries, some chocolate.  Can find it for about $10.

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3) Klein Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa.  Light, pineapple, peach and grass notes.  Great for enjoying on a sunny afternoon or with fish or salad.  And, screwtop for easy access.  About $12.

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4) Pfeffingen Weilberg Riesling, Germany. (Note: that site doesn’t stay in English the whole time)  Nice and dry!  Some stone fruit, various other amazing mineral flavors.  Paired it with a pea and garlic gazpacho with grilled chicken.  Perfect!  It’s been in my wine rack for awhile so not sure the cost, but online I’m finding about $30.

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Wild Horses

Over the past several months I have started a part-time job as a wine taster/pourer.  So, 1-2 times a week I get to go to a variety of locations and be that person who pours different wines for the customers to sample, while of course sampling them myself to be educated about them to properly inform the shoppers.  It’s a win-win situation — learn more about the wine and talk to people about it!  It occurred to me the other day — why don’t I write a blog about all my tastings?  It has to start sometime, right?

Ok, so Friday night I was doing a tasting for Wild Horse Winery, which is located in the Central Coast of CA.  Very nice, affordable wines.  I had 3 varietals.

1) Wild Horse Chardonnay.  Oaked, but not overkill on it.  Very smooth, green apple, pear and vanilla notes.  Perfect with fish.  Price is around $15-$18.

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2) Wild Horse Pinot Noir.  Light Pinot, smooth, had both fruit and earth notes, with some mushroom in there.  Pretty nice.  Would pair well with salmon, grilled vegetables, chicken.  Price is around $16-$20.  (for some reason they don’t have this one on their site).

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3) Wild Horse Chardonnay.  Hello happiness, where have you been?  The body, the flavor…cherry, berry, cocao.  WOW!  Wow.  Go find one, buy it, open it, drink it.  Would be great served with a pizza made on the grill or some steak.

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If you go pick any of these up or have had them in the past, let me know what you think.  Cheers!

 

 

Zuch and shrimp and peas and corn

…and SO good!  Last weekend I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen for 14 years and we both love to cook, so we had to make some good stuff.  Well, I sifted through tons of recipes that I’d been wanting to make and decided on one from a recent issue of Health Magazine.  It was actually pretty easy to make, but packed with flavor!  So, the main dish of the night was Zucchini ‘Pasta’ with Shrimp.

Ingredients

  • 4 large zucchini (about 2 1/2 lb.) — why weigh the stuff?  that would make it right/be too easy
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound large shrimp (about 22), peeled and deveined
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels — I heard the freezer calling!
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh peas — and that freezer called right back!
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine — some people reading this blog are laughing at dry white wine.  You just add water, right?  I just went with the bottle that was open in the fridge, as I normally do.
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter — because of my lactose issues, I used olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil

Prep

1. Using a vegetable peeler, shave sides of zucchini to create ribbons (discard peel), turning zucchini once you hit seedy core.

2. In a deep, heavy 12-inch skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and cook, turning often, until just pink and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

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3. Add corn and peas to skillet and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

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Add zucchini and wine. (Don’t worry about crowding skillet; zucchini will wilt.)

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Cook, tossing with tongs, until zucchini is crisp-tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add butter (or oil) and continue tossing until all vegetables are tender, about 1 minute. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until shrimp are warmed through, about 1 minute more.

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Remove skillet from heat. Stir in lemon juice and basil, season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Prior to this we enjoyed some great figs with goat cheese, prosciutto and honey.

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The food was all enjoyed with some of my favorite Oregon wines — Sokol Blosser (Pinot Noir) Rose and Penner Ash Pinot Noir.  Such a rough night!