Concannon Vineyard Founder’s Petite Sirah 2014, San Francisco Bay, USA

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A lighter purple color which kinda surprised me.  I get fig, black cherry and dates on the nose, a strange combination but I write ’em as I see ’em.  The initial taste consists of a lighter set fruits, mostly blueberry, with some currants.  Gentle tannins and mild acidity give this a nice easy mouthfeel while the mid palate shows off black berries and spice.  The wine stays true to form on the finish with more blackberry and some very slight tannins.  Not a blockbuster, but certainly an easy going wine to pull out at parties, barbecues or just a lazy evening.  It will pair with many summer dishes and I would even use it for Coq au Vin.  I think it merits 87 points and for $11 will be a repeat purchase worthy of 3 stars.  Salut….

colcannon petite sirrah san francisco bay

Mulderbosch Faithful Hound 2014, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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I recently wrote about the 2013 Faithful Hound, so when I caught some of the 2014 on sale, I grabbed a few.  Retailing for $18, it’s a good parallel to the Bordeaux style blends that I so truly love.  This one has a dark purple complexion, just like it’s older sister.  The nose is gorgeous- plums, bramble, chocolate, some oak and a blueberry component.  On the palate, much darker fruits than expected.  More of the blackberry and currants theme with some violets.  The mid palate is bone dry with tannins popping out and caressing the gums.  The finish is blackberry, tar and those delightful tannins.  The mouthfeel on this wine is great, built for steaks or the pasta with meatballs and sausage I am about to serve.  This wine will cellar well, it has al the right components.  I really hope it can evolve with secondary flavors like it’s French cousins.  Drink till 2025.  90 points and 4 stars for this gem from SA.  Salut….

mulderbosch faithful hound

Cameron Hughes Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Napa Valley, USA

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This wine was given to me for my birthday recently.  I was not sure what to expect from an American ‘Negociant’ wine, but I was willing to give it a try!

Very dark and thick in the glass, which is telltale for what I am expecting.  The nose is plums and mocha with some eucalyptus.  The initial taste is as predicted.  Full bodied, rich, creamy and delicious.  Tannins are at the forefront but not overwhelming.  Plums, blackberry and a touch of oak are all part of the package.  Mid palate wise, the acidity and tannic dryness roll in and take over from the fruit, not that this is a bad thing as I am enjoying the texture tremendously.  The finish is well defined, long and consists of more plums, spice box and the well framed tannins.  There is a cigar box component that I just noticed as well.  Delicious.  Overall, this is a well crafted wine that I am enjoying while Moxie cooks up some Sirloins in a peppercorn sauce.  91 points, drinking now till 2022.  Pricey at $51, until you realize you are drinking Napa Cabernet- well worth it and 4 stars from me.  Salut….

cameron hughes cabernet sauvignon

 

Highflyer Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012, Santa Lucia Highlands, USA

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Dark purple, brooding and opaque.  The nose is black cherry, dare I say blackberry as well?  The palate is tasty, with the blackberry theme continuing as well as some really fine tannins that are well integrated.  Extraction is obvious with this one, but not overdone.  The mid palate is refrained compared with the initial taste.  I get dark cherry jam and a vegetal note- very interesting.  The finish is smooth with more dark fruits and a hint of acidity.  I would drink this with a filet and roasted veggies or perhaps marinated flank steak.  It needs a lean cut of beef to shine methinks. 90 points and 4 stars for this $25 wine.  Salut….

highflyer pinot noir

Ceja Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012, Carneros, USA

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Reddish purple but nearly see through in the glass.  The nose is of strawberry and rhubarb.  On the palate it is strawberry pie meets cherry with a noticeable up front acidity.  The mid palate is where it’s at with this wine- much rounder mouthfeel with flavors of red berries, more rhubarb and some tannins that are ever so gently caressing my gums.  The finish is really smooth, long and reminiscent of more strawberry notes.  Roasted chicken with garlic comes to mind.  89 points and 3 stars for this $56 effort.  Salut….

ceja pinot noir

 

Mission Estate Winery Merlot 2014, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

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Dark but opaque purple.  Nose has flavors of raspberry, oak and nutmeg.  On the palate, somewhat tannic and dry on the initial taste with red berries and an astringency that is somewhat overpowering.  The tannins continue the dryness onto the mid palate where I get some black cherry notes, but just barely.  The finish is one dimensional.  For me this wine is unbalanced and lacking fruit.  It could be in a dumb phase.  Right now I’m thinking 85 points and for the $18 I paid it is a pass and 1 star.  It’s a shame as I really enjoyed the 2014 Mission Cabernet Merlot blend which I gave 89 points to.  Salut…

Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2001, Pauillac, France

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Second up in our epic wines last night was the Comtesse.  Unfortunately this bottle was sitting in my wine chiller and was slightly cold when first opened.  The wine lacked a tail end kick, no tannins or bite….  I waited for it to warm up to room temperature and bam!  There they were, tannins, acidity, a nice finish, all I could ask for.  The wine was super smooth, nuances of tobacco, cassis, leather, all the secondary notes that get me excited about aged Bordeaux.  The wine was sublime.  It hit every note, showed it’s power, but also its grace.  This is a seductive wine with very soft edges, yet it holds an immense amount of complexity and evolution.  I wrote about this wine three years ago, the 2001 Comtesse got 92 points from me back then and I promised to drink one every 6 months.  I got sidetracked, sorry it took so long to drink another- I won’t make the same mistake again!  This wine has gone up to 93 points in my opinion and is nearing its peak.  On sale for $125 it is not cheap, but it gets 5 stars from me for the sheer enjoyment it provides.  Salut….

Chateau Cantemerle 2001, Haut-Medoc, France

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Last night I had an old College friend over for dinner.  We ate Brisket, as can be seen in my previous post.  While it was still cooking we have heavy hors d’ouerves and I opened up a stunning set of wines.  The 2001 vintage from Bordeaux has been quietly sitting in my cellar and I really should get to drinking them, time flies and most wines fade.  So, we started out with the amazing 2001 Chateau Cantermerle, which has been drinking well for a decade now.  The first tasting note I wrote was in 2011, the wine has only gotten better and more defined.  The secondary flavors are in place, the fruit is still present and the tannins are fully melded.  A great 91 point wine that I really enjoyed.  I purposely did not write notes, I just wanted to enjoy the moment and relish the wines.  A quick check online shows this one available for $55, making it a 5 star effort even at 16 years of age!  Well done.  Salut….

Beef Brisket on the Big Green Egg

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I have made several Briskets since I first wrote about it in my 2014 Brisket on the Big Green Egg post.  I have come a long way since then.  I just re-read the post and cringed, thinking of the mistakes I made then versus now.  One thing is still true and is of the utmost importance- constant temperature control.  I used to go with 250, that has changed.  225 is the average I shoot for now.  210-235 is the limit for me.  It seems to take about 12 hours for a medium sized slab of brisket.  I cook till 195 internal temperature and do nothing fancy with foils, baths or flipping.  I simply rub the meat with yellow mustard and cover in dry rub.  Fat side down seems to work best as it protects the meat.  That’s all there is to it.  The dry rubs I have tried and mixed at home are all very good, so I bought a whole bunch of new ones to try out, today we are going with the Butt Rub.

One thing that still freaks me out is “The Stall’.  I usually get the charcoal started early in the morning, say 6:30 am and have the meat on the rack by 7.  The internal temps rise rapidly to about 155 or so, which always makes me wonder if dinner is going to be ready by 11 am!  Well, the meat stalls at that temperature for a few hours.  The basic physics of this phenomenon is Evaporative Cooling, otherwise known as Sweating.  Once it stalls, the meat stays at that  temperature for what seems an eternity, perhaps  4 hours or longer.  Past the stall, it continues to cook and the internals get to between 195-203 before I pull the meat, tent it in foil for at least 10 minutes and then slice it across the grain in thin strips.

The dreaded STALL

Lately I have not even been using BBQ sauce, the meat is so tender, smoky and flavorful that it is best served up in a simple manner.  Tonight we are going with a salad, some Seasoned Field Peas with Snaps and perhaps a cold beer or two….

Spring cleaning the garage

The Dry Rub shipment just arrived!

Charles Smith ‘Kung Fu Girl’ Riesling 2015, Columbia Valley, USA

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I am a big fan of this wine, it’s cheap, tasty and fills in for many different occasions.  I reviewed the 2011 Kung Fu Girl and gave it 89 points.  This version is better!

Pale yellow in the glass.  Lemon zest, pineapple peel and some green apple come to mind.  On the palate, much fuller weight than I was expecting, almost waxy.  Lemon curd, sweet pink grapefruit and bee pollen (yes, bee pollen, I eat it every day and this wine has a corresponding note).  The mouthfeel is delightful, albeit not what I was looking for to quench my thirsty on this 92 degree day.  I like it though, a lot.  The mid palate is very smooth with more of the same theme while the finish exhibits some lemon spritz, interesting.  90 points from me and for 9 bucks this is a must have 5 star wine for every fridge, buy it by the case.  Salut….