Archive for August, 2010

Ridge Geyserville 2007

August 30, 2010 Leave a comment

This is the second bottle from Ridge that I taste during a short time interval. The first one I had a couple of weeks ago, Ridge Lytton Springs 2007, I really liked a lot so I was excited to try a different bottle from the same producer.

2007 Ridge Geyserville

This is a blend of 58% Zinfandel, 22% Carignane, 18% Petite Sirah and 2% Mataro(Mourvedre). The carignane and petite sirah were exceptional in the 2007 vintage therefore the final blend contains the same percentages of these grapes as the acclaimed 1991 vintage. The wine has 14.4% alc. Price $29.99

The wine has a dark red almost opaque color. The nose is very different from the bitter-sweet nose felt initially in the Lytton Springs. Geyserville is more of a fruit bomb with a sweet creamy nose with dark fruits: ripe blackberry, boysenberry, plum and spiced by cedar wood and white pepper flavors and a discreet wine lees aroma hidden in the background. In the mouth the wine is medium to medium plus body with a rich mouth feel, good acidity, pleasant fruit aromas of plum, blackberry and dark chocolate. The firm tannins give this wine a dry medium finish with a certain degree of astringency, nothing disturbing leaving a thick layer of ripe sweet blackberry on your cheeks. It has a very interesting finish as the mouth remains dry and sweet in the same time in the aftertaste. A Very good+ to Excellent wine.

As the memories of tasting these 2 wines are still fresh in my mind I can clearly say I do prefer the Lytton Springs more as it is more complex and not so much of a fruit bomb.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: USA

Diary of a wine collector

August 25, 2010 1 comment

I mentioned in a previous post how I became passionate about wine. Even prior to that I had some minor attempts to collect wine, usually buying bottles randomly based on no criteria. Just for the sake of collecting some wine. Recently I finished renovating my cellar and had the chance to clean the dust from all the bottles I collected so far. Boy did I buy a lot of crap in the beginning. Most likely, as my palate and my knowledge about wine evolve, I am sure I will have more epiphanies like this and wonder myself how I could buy this and that.

I have many bottles that , based on my actual palate, I wouldn’t buy again and they are a very good proof of how one’s palate constantly evolves and never stays the same. It is a continuous trip to experience new wines and continue to educate your palate and don’t just stop to a few wines you like and keep a closed mind. Especially if one has the means to continuously explore new regions, newer or older vintages, new grape varieties. And thank God there is enough wine out there to keep us busy for a very long time.

The conclusion of this introspection is as follows: if you are in a journey to discover wine and you still want to collect bottles try to focus on the ones that you absolutely love at that moment or simply buy what is called Investment Grade Wine(IGW). IGW is that wine that you know will always have a market and be in demand as its value is recognized and accepted by everybody. The best example that comes to mind now is Bordeaux. But not all Bordeaux just the ones that have a well established reputation and people will always seek. This is just an example. There are many other more affordable options waiting to be explored. This is the humble advice of someone who spent already a considerable amount of money for his passion over the years.

As I arranged the bottles in the cellars I decided to open a bottle of Bordeaux that I remember buying from a Careffour store in Brussels about 3-4 years ago for probably around 5-6 EUR.

Chateau Barat 2004 Bordeaux

The wine has a purple red color. The nose was oxidized and with virtual no aromas. In the mouth this wine is seriously disjointed, thin and with not much of a taste at all. There is no aftertaste as the wine is really unpleasant. There is a lot of good even exceptional wine produced in Bordeaux, but there is even more crap wine made in the same region as well. I wish nobody to throw their hard earned money on such a low quality wine. This is a major PASS and be aware that when you spend 3-6 EUR on a wine do not expect the Enlightening.

I did not even bother to take a picture of the bottle but you can find one here.

It is better sometimes to spend a little bit more on a bottle of wine, but at least you have better chances (prior research is important) to like the wine you get.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Bordeaux

Ridge Zinfandel Lytton Springs 2007

August 24, 2010 Leave a comment

The weekend offered some very good food experiences and fortunately it wasn’t a total failure in terms of wine drinking. After the two wines I opened on FRI, SAT was a chance to reunite with my family for lunch and drink some wine again. Romania still offers easy access to inexpensive organic food. Therefore SAT we had a really tasty home made meal with slowly cooked organic rooster and duck: rooster cooked for 3 h in a garlic sauce and duck cooked for 4 h with tomatoes, garlic and some other spices. The aromas were heavenly.

I picked a wine from my cellar that was a 1st time for me, both the producer as the grape variety: an American Zinfandel made by the well known Ridge. It is common for this producer to have at least one wine listed in the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of the year. For my occasion this was a challenging choice to match duck with an American Zinfandel.

2007 Ridge Zinfandel Lytton Springs

Price: $30.99 bought by my wife during a trip to the US

The wine is actually a blend of 71% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah and 7% Carignane and spent 15 months in American oak. It is the very first time I drink a Zinfandel and I was expecting a bombastic wine with the full specter of aromas of M&M’s, especially because of the high percentage of Petite Sirah. Petite Sirah is bigger and bolder in flavors than a regular Syrah grape.

The wine has an opaque purple color. The nose shows an interesting bitterness with strong flavors of creamy dark fruits, ripe dark cherries, blackberry, plum, vanilla and chalk. This is a very well balanced nose. In the mouth the wine is medium plus to full body, really smooth, round, with pleasant acidity, with dark chocolate, ripe dark cherries, plum, tea leaves, a hint of minerality, ripe blackberries and firm tannins that can be felt shortly on the back end after which the wine becomes smooth again. There is a nice balance of all its components and that firm grip of the tannins on the back end makes this wine vibrant and really juicy. The wine has a medium plus finish and a beautiful smooth bitterness with dark chocolate and coffee in the aftertaste and no sign of heat from the 14.4% alc. Excellent+ wine for me and I am sure this wine can age and evolve well. I find this wine a perfect mix between Old World and New World styles.

I was pleasantly surprised by how good this wine is and I am really looking forward to open the 2007 Ridge Geyserville that I still have in my cellar. I hope it will be tasty too.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: USA

Lamblin Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume and Davino Domaine Ceptura Rose

August 23, 2010 1 comment

I opened these wines on FRI evening and re tasted them during the following two days.

Lamblin Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaumes 2007

Price: 14 EUR

The wine has a pale yellow color. The nose shows discreet aromas of lemon and green apple mixed with wet stone. In the mouth this wine is thin, with a light body, watery, lacking any kind of concentration, has a medium acidity, with some light mineral notes and an unpleasant short bitter finish. A very poor bottle of Chablis 1er Cru. Poor and wouldn’t buy it again.

Davino Domaine Ceptura Rose 2008

Price: not sure as it was a gift

This is a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine has a pink salmon color. Strong aromas of roses mixed with light red fruits are coming on the nose. In the mouth the wine comes with an off dry sensation. On the first day the wine had an unpleasant heat, the 14.6% alc was very present, however over the next two days the heat faded away and the wine became more pleasant, still a medium body wine with a high acidity, with flavors of spicy red fruits and strong red currant aromas. The finish is short to medium. Good but I couldn’t drink more than 1 glass at a time as the alcohol level is disturbingly high in this rose “summer” wine.

Overall it wasn’t a pleasant wine session. Hope the next one will be better.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: France, Romania

Remembering how it all started

August 17, 2010 2 comments

It is trendy among young Romanians to say they like wine: but not all wine just red. It seems the whites are not taken seriously. As a contrarian, what opened my eyes and made me love wine was actually a white wine. More precise a 2006 Chateau Puech Haut Tete de Belier Blanc. This simply blew my mind and showed me that not all wines are the same and some can leave you speechless and in a meditative state. That’s how it all started for me.

Last evening Chez Grozea’s was a real special dinner prepared together with Andreea. I decided to try to cook veal tongue as I didn’t have it in a while and to try a new sauce: Béarnaise sauce. The recipe is not difficult, you need to make a reduction from white wine, vinegar, fresh tarragon and parsley, shallots boiled until 1/3 of liquid is left. This is mixed together with lemon juice,egg yolks and melted butter. The difficult part is to mix the reduction with the egg yolks and melted butter gradually on a bain marie for 8 straight minutes until the texture thickens and is no longer liquid. That’s where the challenge lies. After following these steps my final result looked like this: a beautiful yellow and thick sauce.

The veal tongue was boiled together with celery, carrots and onion and was tender and tasty. I used some of the stock to make a sauce for the green beans from garlic, stock, olive oil and a little bit of butter. The final result was an extremely flavored dish and looked like this:

I decided to pair this dish with a white wine: 1997 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Pinot Gris, a wine I bought from Caves Auge from Paris for 37 EUR.

1997 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Pinot Gris

The wine has a deep pure gold color and an oily appearance. The nose, a little bit restraint at the beginning, started to open up as it got a little bit warmer with strong flavors of honeyed tropical fruits and discreet muscat. In the mouth this wine is an explosion for the senses. Imagine a bowl with freshly cut ripe tropical fruits mixed with Asian spices, ginger, nuts and then everything melted in honey. This is the best way to describe these extraordinary flavors. The wine starts sweet in the mouth and finishes dry with a perfect acidity, a perfect balance of the 14% alc, an exquisite silkiness and a beautiful mouth coating. If we could drink silk this would feel like. This full body wine finishes with spices and mango in an endless aftertaste. A real work of art. Exceptional+

The taste of it took me back to that first experience when I became passionate about wine and that pure flavor of honey brought back pleasant memories from my childhood. Some wines have this metaphysical power to take you far away and this makes them so unique.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: France

Game and a few wines

August 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Although the hunting season is off, I was still privileged to indulge myself into a nice home made game dish this week. The menu: wild rabbit. It is very interesting to see the process to prepare the meat before cooking whenever you have the chance. Me: I just did it myself. So after following all the steps to prepare the meat, leaving it in some special juice made with many spices: nutmeg, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, celery, carrots, lemon, red wine, olive oil and a little bit of vinegar overnight, the final result was really tender and tasty. Usually it is good to serve the meat with a sidedish made of components that are found in that particular animal’s eating habits. Therefore carrots were a good choice and made for an excellent sidedish. Here is the final result: carrots and green beans sauted in butter, mushrooms, wild rabbit stuffed with pig fat and garlic covered with dark cherry spread.

As cooking the rabbit took almost three and a half hours, we had two white wines meanwhile.

2007 Michel Redde La Moynerie Pouilly-Fume

The wine has a deep clear gold color. The nose shows lemon, apple on the background with strong mineral flavors and yellow flowers. In the mouth the wine is round, with bright acidity, medium body with beautiful minerality, chalk, wet stone and a layer of honey. The finish is deliciuos, medium with a persistent minerality. A Very good+ to Excellent wine that is easy to drink, the bright acidity makes it a perfect choice for summer.

2006 Les Vaux Sereins Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume

There are several vineyards in Chablis that qualify to be labeled as 1er Cru and there are two that I love: Vaillons and Fourchaume. The wine has a clear deep yellow lemon color, very similar to the first wine. The nose is clean, very mineral, with green apple, lemon, butter and wet stone aromas. In the mouth the wine is very focused, with high minerality, chalk, wet stones, lemon, a beautiful acidity and very good balance. I like Chablis wines because they are clean and laser focused. The finish is medium and mineral. Very good+ to Excellent

2007 Firriato Harmonium Nero d’Avola

We served this red wine together with the rabbit dish. The wine has an opaque ruby red color. The nose shows ripe, almost jammy mashed red fruits: red currant, cherry,  strawberry and wine lees. In the mouth you can feel an unpleasant heat from the alcohol, it is slightly unbalanced, with ripe red fruits, coffee, firm tannins and a medium body. The wine has a 15% alc level and, unfortunately, it is not integrated well and balanced. The wine has a medium finish with more red fruits in the aftertaste. Good

It is important to note here that one of the guests tasted a similar bottle in the past and didn’t feel the heat previously. It would be interesting to taste again a new bottle to see if the heat sensation persists and this was just an isolated case.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: France, Italy

2003 Mas de la Barben Calice

August 6, 2010 Leave a comment

I think there is a tremendous potential for Coteaux du Languedoc to produce outstanding wines so a lot of the wines in my cellar come from this place. Today I had the chance to re-taste the 3rd time a wine from a relative small producer that made an amazing cuvee in the hot 2003 vintage. Mas de la Barben is not an internationally acclaimed producer therefore the prices are still decent and the quality of this wine is really good. The label on the bottle is a beautiful work of art.

2003 Mas de la Barben Calice

Price: 30 EUR

The wine has an opaque dark red color and  an oily appearance in the glass. The nose is very rich and complex with ripe cherry/strawberry jam, a big plum component, tobacco, a lactic flavor,wine lees and some pleasant earthiness. In the mouth this wine is extremely viscous,reminding of a good Chateauneuf du pape, silky tannins with really no aggression on the palate and an immediate sweet sensation probably from the high alcohol level. The Grenache is really outstanding and pure in this wine. It has layers of ripe cherry and  strawberry liquor, black pepper, very fat, bacon comes to mind, licorice, very round and smooth. At 15% alc this wine has a tremendous balance and there is only a very discreet sign of heat but nothing disturbing. Considering the high temperature from outside, 35 Celsius degrees, I would say this wine has perfect balance and is fairly easy to drink. However make no mistake: its high alcohol level is heavy to indulge during a hot summer day and needs some serious food to be paired with. Make sure to decant it at least 1 h prior to serving and serve it at 16-17 C degrees. The aftertaste is medium to long with pure ripe red currant and cherry liquor. This is an outstanding wine therefore for my palate I find it Excellent.

This is a really good wine for the price it sells and probably if it would have had the Chateauneuf du pape label, the price would have been much higher. So for anyone that wants to taste high quality Grenache this is really a very good pick.

Thanks for reading!

You can find this wine at La Chambre store on Calea Dorobantilor, Bucharest

Categories: Coteaux du Languedoc

The Italian job

August 4, 2010 3 comments

Last evening we had a lovely dinner with Italian food. Not the average pasta you can find at any ordinary Italian restaurant, but freshly made pasta. I am not sure if there are any other places that make their own fresh pasta in Bucharest, but so far, from the places I visited, this is the very first one. We were invited to dine together by our friends Christiana and Yannis.

I‘ll try to describe a little bit my culinary experience, but if you are not there to taste it yourself, you can probably grasp only a small percentage of the feeling you get from such a delicious food. The restaurant was initially established in Buftea a few years ago and was a very cozy place with great Baroque architecture and only 4 tables to serve. Now they have relocated to Blvd Mihalache and have a bigger space to accommodate more customers. People that know both places still have their hearts with the previous location, but the food remains as tasty as before and the new location is very nicely decorated.

The dinner was memorable: had a few starters first and then tried 5 different kinds of fresh pasta with amazing flavors. I think the best thing to do is to let pictures speak for themselves.

Crepes with spinach, prosciutto and cheese: Beef carpaccio with Parmesan and arugula:

Clams and shellfish:

The next round were the most amazing dishes of fresh pasta I had so far: pasta with zucchini and shrimps:

Pasta with eggplant, basil and garlic:

I posted also the other dishes of pasta with Gorgonzola:

and pasta Carbonara:

Just to make sure the food experience was complete the next dish was a Bistecca alla Fiorentina made from Italian beef brought from Tuscany. Before cooking the raw meat looks like this: an almost 1 kilo piece of meat

And the result is a huge tender steak:

Juicy on the inside:

We did have two wines with this gargantuan meal: a white Solo Quinta 2009 and a red Cuvee Uberland 2006 both from Recas.

Solo Quinta 2009

Price: 110 RON at the restaurant

This is a very interesting blend of 5 different grapes, one being Merlot. The Australian winemaker of Recas started to experiment in 2008 with Solo Quinta blending 4 white grapes with the juice from a red grape. In 2008 he chose Cabernet Sauvignon and in 2009 Merlot. The other 4 grapes are Feteasca Regala, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Muscat. The result is one of the best Romanian white wine produced.

The wine has a clear yellow lemon color. Initially the wine was served too cold and showed elegant floral flavors of linden, acacia,elder and roses and as the wine gets warmer, flavors of  grapefruit and apricots come out of the glass. In the mouth the wine is medium body with a very pleasant acidity, crispy, flavors of red currants, apricots, honey, vanilla and a fresh spiciness come together to make a round and balanced wine. A real good pairing for the dishes we had. The wine has a pleasant fresh medium aftertaste. Very good+ to Excellent

Cuvee Uberland 2006

Price: 180 RON at the restaurant

This is the top red cuvee from Recas.  I like the 2006 but I am not a fan of their 2007 Cuvee Uberland which I find very tannic and hard to drink for the moment. The 2006 is a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon and a little bit of Feteasca Neagra. The wine has a deep opaque red with purple hues color. The best way to describe the nose of this wine is spicy: cinnamon and cloves hit you strongly from the get go, with flavors of dark fruits on the background and a nice discreet oak aroma. In the mouth the wine is medium to full body, round, with silky tannins, with blackberry, prune, ripe dark sour cheery, black pepper, good balance and a nice mouth-feel. The wine finishes with a medium aftertaste with a slight sensation of sweetness. Lovely bottle that is drinking very well right now. Very good+ to Excellent

The dessert is as good as the rest of the food: tiramisu

and the best panacotta I had so far with forest fruits:

The only thing I have left to say after this perfect evening is: Thank you Christiana and Yannis for the lovely company and the amazing food we had together. We shared a memorable experience and I am looking forward to see you soon.

Thanks for reading!

FYI: the restaurant is Osteria Gioia by Patrizia.

Categories: Romania

Celebrating summer

August 2, 2010 1 comment

Last weekend we took the opportunity and did a BBQ together with some good friends in the anticipation of the future vacation will spend together very soon. I did a little research for some different BBQ recipes and I found a very interesting kebab on Adi Hadean‘s blog: very easy to prepare and incredibly tasty.

My kebab’s and also some shrimps we made on a stick, served on a bed of pineapple, red and yellow pepper salad, looked like this:

Unfortunately by the time I wanted to take some photos to the rest of the food there was almost none left so next time I’ll keep in mind the priorities: 1st shoot then eat. We also had a few wines and, as this blog is about wines more than food, here are the tasting notes.

Crama Stirbey Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Price: 20 RON

The wine has a pale yellow color. The nose shows lots of appricots and some floral flavors. In the mouth the wine is watery, lacking concentration, with stone fruits, floral flavors and nice acidity. The wine has a rather short aftertaste. Not my favorite. Last time I tasted this wine on the 1st of May it left me a better impression. Good

Davino Sauvignon Blanc Edition Limitee 2007

Price: 80 RON

I chose this as the second wine because I wanted to give our guests the opportunity to compare two wines made from the same grape from different producers. I know it is not the same vintage but this was not intended to be a professional wine tasting either.

The wine has a clear deep gold color. Already you can see a big difference from the 1st wine. In the nose the wine shows intense aromas of acacia, linden and cut hay. In the mouth the wine is very concentrated, round, with very nice balance, medium body, nice acidity, with herbaceous and floral flavors, some minerality, apple, grapefruit and lemon. The wine leaves a pleasant medium aftertaste. A very nice surprise for me, as it is the first time I taste this wine. I had this wine in my cellar for almost 2 years and I am pretty sure this wine, already good to drink, can still benefit more from further ageing. Very good +

Weingut Knoll Loibner Gruner Veltliner Federspiel 2008

Price: 65 RON

Knoll is one of the best producers of Riesling and Gruner Veltliner wines in Wachau, Austria. I tasted other wines from this producer, all amazing wines for their price category. Here you can read about the Wachau wine classifications and see tasting notes on another Riesling from the same producer.

The Gruner Veltliner has a beautiful deep gold color. The nose is strong with beautiful floral flavors of linden, cut hay, white pepper and lime. In the mouth the wine shows a good concentration, medium body, very mineral, very different from the sweet floral nose, spicy, crispy, nice freshness, good acidity. The wine has a nice mineral medium aftertaste. This wine pairs nicely with a big fish. Very good+

Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2005

Price: 90 RON

This wine has conquered my palate forever from the first time I had it on the World cup final 2010. It is the 3rd time I have this wine over a period of 2 weeks and continues to impress me. This is what I wrote then:

The wine has a dark red/purple opaque color. The nose is complex with dark ripe sour cherry, cassis, hints of oak, earth, dark chocolate and spices, very nicely balanced. Everything is dark about the nose and very intriguing. In the mouth the wine is full body with lots of dark fruits, black currant, dark chocolate, very Bordeaux style, black pepper and finishes in a medium plus aftertaste with certain pleasant bitterness of dark sour cherry, dark chocolate and tea leaves.Very good+ to Excellent”

This remains an amazing value wine that shows huge concentration of dark chocolate, cocoa and tea leaves on the palate. It is really Excellent+.

Farnese Edizione Cinque Autoctoni

Price: 110 RON

This is an Italian wine made by Filippo Baccalaro and French winemaker Jean-Marc Saboua from 5 particular vines: Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Primitivo, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera that put together in different percentages obtain the final result.Edizione does not have a vintage as the grapes come from two different regions even if the vintage is the same, so the wine is named with the progressive N’ of the vintage produced(L.2006).  The wine is bottled as Vino da Tavola Rosso.

The wine has an opaque dark purple color. The nose is very, very tight with very discreet flavors of ripe dark fruits. In the mouth the wines explodes with aromas. A full body wine with beautiful concentration of pure blackberry, red currant and bilberry, very silky on the palate, nice acidity, round, nice balance. The wine has a very pleasant sweetness in the aftertaste, leaving ripe blackberry aromas on your cheeks, which is amazing for a dry red wine.  Excellent

After such a tasty meal and interesting wine pairings a Romeo y Julieta cigar is perfect.

I am looking forward for the next hedonistic experience.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Austria, Italy, Romania
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