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….

Bodegas El Porvenir de Cafayate ‘Amauta Absoluto’ Tannat 2016, Cafayate, Argentina

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Pretty dark purple in the glass.  Nose of plum and blackberry, but it’s hard to coax the flavors as this particular bottle has been chilled.  The initial taste is more blackberry with some spice box.  The tannins are very subdued as is the acidity, which is atypical for this varietal.  I get tar and creosote on the mid palate, with some blackberry.  The finish is more black berries and some fig paste.  87 points for this $15 offering make it a 2 star wine.  Salut….

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

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Really dark purple, almost opaque in the glass.  The nose is an interesting compilation of Cherry and Iodine meets blue fruits.  On the palate it’s a different story.  Much more focused on blueberry and some black berries plus a touch of oak.  The acidity is present from the get go and the tannins ramp up gently, closing out the finish with a nice dryness.  The mid palate exhibits blue and black berries as well as some nutmeg.  This is a decent wine that gets 89 points from me and will do well with Osso Bucco or perhaps a mixed grill on the barbie.  I paid $18 for it and give it 3 stars.  Salut….

Kaesler Stonehorse Shiraz 2014, Barossa Valley, Australia

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Very brooding and dark purple in the glass- promising some heady, extracted juice.  The nose is full on dark plums, blackberries and cedar plank.  The initial palate is straight up blueberry pie meets blackberry jam.  Very viscous in the mouthfeel and very smooth.  The wine glides past the mid palate with hints of plum ganache and mocha and a touch of acidity.  I had to wait until the finish to get a glimmer of the fine grained tannins that hold this package together.  I believe this wine is drinking great now and has a few years of cellaring available, say till 2022.  I would pair it with Strip steaks, perhaps a peppercorn sauce based meat or even corned beef.  The acidity and tannic structure seem ideal for casual drinking and lighter fare, not something too heavy or fatty.  It really is tasty.  90 points.  I paid $15 and would do it again for this 4 star effort.  Salut…

kessler stone horse shiraz

Artesa Winery Carneros Pinot Noir 2014, Napa Valley, USA

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I travel a ton through the San Francisco airport where there is an American Express Centurion lounge.  This particular lounge has a wine tasting machine that includes some very delectable offerings such as this lovely Carneros  Pinot Noir.  Sorry about the poor image quality but I had to shoot through the glass of the vending machine.

Very opaque, on the lighter side of purple.  The nose is very much New World- strawberries, nutmeg and a touch of anise.  The initial taste is very easygoing, delicate and fruity with framboise, strawberry and barely a trace of acidity or tannins at this stage.  The mid palate has a slightly green edge to it and this is where I detect some tannic components as well as a balancing acidity- both of which are very mild.  This wine has elegance and seduction, is very understated yet somewhat complex and nicely crafted.  The finish has a decent length to it and comprises of more strawberry and now a touch of bing cherry.  Tannins are present till the very end.  90 points, $20 make this a 4 star wine to drink from now till 2022 with grilled salmon, veal scallopini or just some good cheese and meat cuts.  Salut….

Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port NV, Portugal

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As you may have read recently, I’m on a Port kick and looking to try as many styles as possible.  This one is labelled Reserve, no info on Tawn, Ruby or LBV.  It is dark purple, almost inky.  The nose is rich with fig, blueberry paste and chocolate dust.  On the palate it is refreshingly vibrant with plum, blueberry and a bracing acidic component.  I sense a warmth on the mid palate that I attribute to tannins mingling with the 19.5% alcohol.  The heat doesn’t bother me, it is well integrated as are the tannins.  On the finish I am reminded of this wine’s youth, the mouthfeel is fresh and dry. More plums and blueberry pie show up on the tail end.  The wine is tasty and well made, 89 points from me.  On sale for $15 it is a good deal- 4 stars.

cockburn's special reserve port

WillaKenzie Estate ‘Estate Grown’ Pinot Gris 2015, Willamette Valley, USA

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My folks are in town for JJ’s Ballet performance.  Mum likes the whites and I figured some Pinot Grigio/Gris would work well for a warmish weekend.  This one was a very pale yellow- which is a good thing for this varietal.  Nose of lemons, pomelo and green apples.  The initial taste is rather surprising- more body than I imagined with hints of wax, lemons, bergamot.  The mid palate exhibits a citrusy component that I’m enjoying.  The acidity is very mild and doesn’t really hit the palate until the finish.  Speaking of which, it is mid length and laden with more citrus in the form of lemon peel and a hint of lanolin.  89 points and a great opener to a Friday night!  $17 buys this charmer all day long and it gets 3 stars from me, I’m buying more!  Salut….

willakenzie pinot gris

Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port, Amador County, USA

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This is a Port wine made from Zinfandel grapes in California.  Rich, dark purple in the glass.  The nose is stewed plum and vanilla cola.  The initial taste is rather abrupt-  plum compote, raisins and a balsamic note.  Acidic without a bite, but a touch of tannin keep this dessert wine balanced.  The finish is decent in length but the flavor is rather medicinal.  Its 19% alcohol is well hidden.  This wine is delightful and interesting, certainly not what I was expecting.  90 points from me.  I paid $22 for it which makes it a 3 star effort.  Salut….