Monday, January 21, 2008

90 Days--and Counting

I did some math today and determined there were only 90 days left until the Boston Marathon. This marathon is coming up much more quickly than I'd like. The temperature today was 9 F and there was 1/2" of fresh, powdery snow--it sure seems like the gods are against me training for Boston. Alas, I went outside and I ran and surprised myself--I had a great run.. My legs were tired by the end, but this was a redeeming run. Wrapped up in my own thoughts, I looked forward to the hills of Boston, the heat of training through the heat and humidity of a Twin Cities summer and another Twin Cities Marathon. Here's to looking a crappy day in the and telling it to bugger off.
Dang where does the Wine Go?

A trip to a couple of wine bars and a wine tasting later, and we've zipped through a few more varietals. I didn't do a good job of taking notes, so I'm going to forgo writing about the wines--just note that all were good unless noted otherwise...

Varietal #12 Aligote
2006 Shooting Star Washington State Aligote--a bit flabby, we didn't mean to purchase this wine, but all ends just fine. This one would be better on a sunny deck than on a day when it is -15 F outside.

Varietal #13 Colombard
2006 McNab Ridge Mendocino Niemi Vineyard French Colombard--very similar in taste to a Gewurz--lovely with a salad or sweets

Varietal #14-16 Gropello, Marzemino, Barbera
2004 Garda Classico Negresco--this one also has Sango, but that one has already been covered. This is a great blend of red wine with some rare grapes. A great one for the challenge.

Varietal #17 Monica Grapes
2004 Argiolas Perdera--another nice wine, and a nice price too. I'm impressed with Italian wines especially dollar for dollar.

More later, maybe...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Weekend Wrap

This weekend was a beautiful one up here in the Tundra, with temps sitting in the mid 20's and some nice light snow. The run on Saturday morning was wonderful--the falling snow dampened the din of the city and the only sound you could here were footsteps for much of the run.

On the wine drinking front, it was a productive weekend (including tonight)--

Varietals #7 & 8 Arneis & Tocai Friuliano

The wine--2005 JB Cellars Margaret Anne, Mendocino CA

Anne picked this one up at Byerly's because of the interesting grapes involved. Both are Italian in nature but these grapes were grown in the cool temperatures of Mendocino. I had a tough time with this wine because it was slightly corked. I'm a little more sensitive to TCA than most people and I have a tough time evaluating a wine once I sense it. Regardless, this wine was fine--it reminded me of the table whites we had when we were in Italy--a little grassy, very little nose, and honestly not that much flavor. The structure was good and the wine was dry--pretty good with food, but definitely not a sit and sip wine.

Varietal #9 Gruner Veltliner

The wine--2004 Hopler Gruner Veltliner, Austria

I love Gruner Veltliner. Dry and minerally. A little fruit but definitely not overpowering. This grape has become my favorite white grape. Maybe it is because I have relatives from Austria. I am soooo happy that Austria is making a comeback and we are able to get these incredible grapes once again.

Varietal #10 Pinotage

The wine--2003 Wamakersvallei La Cave Pinotage, Wellington, South Africa

When I asked for a Pinotage at the wine store, the clerk's eyes shine and he walked me straight to this one and claimed it was in the top 5 wines in the store. It was pushing the price threshold for the wine century club (~$24), but based on this recommendations, I had to bite. I'm glad I did. This wine was deep ruby--dark and beautiful. The nose was lush and dark. The flavor--chocolate, raspberry and spice. Yummmm. I won't go on, but I would definitely recommend this one

Varietal #11 Grenache

The wine--2006 Almira Los Dos, Campo de Borja, Spain

Admit it, when you hear for Grenache, you think of Gallo White Grenache from the late 80's. It was popular at the same time as White Zinfandel and it still confuses people. To get a good idea of what a real Grenache tastes like, head for some Spanish wines--this one is Spanish and it is a Grenache. It should be great, right??

Hmmm-- after the Pinotage, I knew there would be a letdown. I was right. I picked to eat this wine tonight because we were having Mexican food and this was a Spanish wine. They serve tamales in Spain, right??? This wine is actually 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah, but I'll only take credit for the Grenache. The wine is rather weak in color--not quite like a Pinot Noir, but definitely not as beautiful as the Pinotage or the wine with Petit Verdot in it. The nose matches the color--it is rather underwhelming--a little fruit and a little earth. The structure of the wine is good--light tannins (there but not strong) and a taste of blackberries and maybe cranberries. In spite of this, overall I think this wine is underwhelming--however, for $10 I might pick this one up again.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

#3-6 in one Sitting

I honestly didn't mean to cover 4 grapes in one sitting, but I did. I think I feel downright dirty and will have to revisit many of these varietals when I can. Here is how it happened--I found myself at the liquor store, nearly panicking at the variety of varietals. I picked up an Hungarian wine but put that aside for later. I settled on a wine from Forte de Valle (Valley of the Fort, I guess) from the Yecla DOC in Spain. Little did I know that it was a blend that covered 4 varietals--56% Merlot, 24% Mouvedre, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Petit Verdot.

Varietal #3 Merlot
Vatietal #4, Mourverde (dog strangler in French??)
Varietal #5, Cabernet Sauvignon
Varietal #6, Petit Verdot

The wine--Casa De Las Espacias, 2004 Forte del Valle, Yecla DOC

With a deep red olor (likely from the Petite Verdot), but not quite inky, this is a pretty wine in the glass The nose is a little different--almost smells of anise??? The flavor is straight up the middle of the tongue with some pronounced Tannins when swirled around the mouth. There is some density -almost meatiness to the wine, similar to Jumilla district wines--the terroir is definitely there. We are definitely not in California anymore--and it reminded me of many of the wines we had when we were in Spain in 2003. So if you like somewhat challenging wines that reflect on Spain and you like paying under $10 for a bottle, this one would be right up your alley

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

2 Down, 98 to Go

Dang, the first 2 went down fast. However, I'll be sick of wine and missing beer in now time, so my brother in law, Ted, can relax. Please note that he has now joined the Blog Community for the challenge.

Varietal #2: Zinfandel

2004 Zinfandel, Luddite Vineyards, Russian River Valley, 68 cases produced

I made a pretty great (if I do say so myself) Hungarian Style Goulash on Sunday, which we ate as leftovers tonight. The cookbook recommended Limerick Lane Zinfandel (one of my favorites)--but the only Limerick Lanes I had formed a vertical so were off limits. Hence, the Luddite wine, which is only a few miles away as the crow flies from Limerick Lane. We bought this wine in the tasting room and shipped it back with some other bottles--I'm glad we did. For those of you not familiar with Zinfandel--it is quite often a very fruit forward wine that is often described as jammy and quite often at 15+% ABV (alcohol by volume). It is one of the quintessential American Wines, but is often "dissed" by wine snobs because it is too fruity and too high of alcohol. Good for them, but I really like it for drinking in front of a fire on a dark cold evening.

This wine is deep, particularly for a 2004 from Sonoma County. It is peppery with very little fruit on it, which I find rare for CA Zins. The nose is dominated by pepper, with a little hotness, hinting at the 14.2% abv (alcohol by volume). While this isn't particularly high for a Zin, I always smell it before tasting it. The taste is of plums and chocolate. Surprisingly, the tannins are still prevalent, which again, is rare for a few year old CA Zin. I think that this wine could sit for a few years and do very well.

Monday, January 07, 2008

100 Vino Varietals

I was browsing the internet (actually reading my Google Reader Acct), and I came across Wine Century, which really peaked my interest. The challenge is to drink 100 different types of grapes and submit your "accomplishment". I quickly filled out the checklist and realized that I had only drank (drunk?) 38 different varietals in my life. 62 to go. Some people would feel daunted by that task. I felt invigorated. I wrote Anne and my brother in law Ted, who leveled the challenge that we start over! We get no getting credit for past work (pleasure), and we have to log each and every varietal we drink. I now felt doubly invigorated!!!! Running 3500 miles in a year is too daunting, drinking 100 varietals of grapes is not. Plus it gives me something to blog about. Sooo, here goes...

Varietal #1--Sangiovese

2005 Mayo Family Winery, Dry Creek Valley, Unti Vineyard

This wine varietal is one of my favorites and Mayo makes a pretty good wine. Sangiovese is a wine typical to Tuscany, but is usually blended into Chianti, which is a blend. Mayo, for th
ose of you not familiar with them, are a family winery based in Sonoma Valley. They focus on single vineyard designations, and this one is no different. Cranberry in color and taste, something I find common in California Sangos this wine has a nice light finish and some berry flavor (not too fruity), which make this a particularly good dinner wine. I'm not talking big steak and potatoes kind of dinner, I'm thinking Pizza or a light red sauce on Polenta or Pasta. Excellent.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon

On the 24th of January, for one night only, theaters throughout the US will
show Spirit of the Marathon, a documentary about, what else, the Marathon. I've pre-purchased tickets for the show at the Eagan 16. This is normally my workout night, but if you can't give up a workout for this, what can you give one up for? I hope to see you there as well.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

German Corporations does an interesting and funny look at companies that got their start during WWII--you can find that here. What I find disturbing is that so many of these companies have so much style. Who would have thought that Adolf would have had such a strong fashion sense? You certainly wouldn't have guessed that from his 'stache.

PS--you might want to spend some time wandering around -- it is pretty good.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Christmas in Fort Myers Beach

was great. To give you an idea of how I spent my days...

I "filmed" this with my new Flip Video that I received for Christmas... It appears thus far to be a pretty cool tool.