Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wine Blogging Wednesday 51: Baked Goods

I'm not much of a fan of sweet wines, but I enjoyed the results of participating in this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday. The topic is Madeira: The wine the American colonists drank (according to the Wine Bible we were responsible for importing a fourth of all the Madeira made.)

One of the unique steps in making Madeira is how it is aged. Like port, the fermentation process in a Madeira is halted by introducing clear brandy, which neutralizes the yeast. Your left with a "fortified" wine (read high alcohol content: 17-20%) with varying amounts of sweetness based on how much fermentation went on. Next comes the special step: heating. The original process was accomplished when the Madeira would get hot in cargo holds aboard ships that carried the wine from Portugal to the world. The result was actual enhancement to the flavor, a caramel, toffee flavor.

Some modern Madeiras are heated to achieve this effect. But the better quality wines are aged naturally over years in attics. This can take anywhere from 5 to 20 years. Different grapes can be used resulting in sweater or richer wines. Raisin and caramel are the distinct notes you'll find when drinking a Madeira.

I once had a wine that had been accidentaly oxidized. The wine had a distinct raisin flavor that grew overwelming as I drank it: an unpleasant experience! However, the Madeira I drank for this post was very enjoyable. It too had the raisin flavor and even what could be considered a "burnt" flavor. However, these didn't become overwhelming as I drank the wine. The sugar content was balanced by the alcohol. The wine had a nice medium body that felt nice in my mouth.

The grape used to produce the Madeira I had is called Bual. Bual grapes are grown in warm vineyards and make concentrated Madeiras with a medium-rich style. This style is lighter than port and the malmsey style of Madeira.

I enjoyed the Bual Madeira on it's own mostly. I tried it with ice cream, too, almost like a topping. The raisin flavor added a nice contrast to the sweet, richness of the vanilla in the ice cream. I'm not sure this is how our founding father's enjoyed the wine, but it worked for me!

Cossart Gordon 15 year Madeira Bual (19% alcohol)

Color: Reddish bronze

Aroma: Port like, raisins and caramel

Taste: Smooth mouth feel, raisins

Finish: Nutty with raisin


This edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday gives me my 52nd grape in my quest for the Century Wine Club!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Taste of Rhone

I finally opened a bottle of wine from my first shipment from wine distributor Garagiste. I wanted to start with something familiar so I selected a French syrah based wine from the Northern Rhone. I love the flavor of syrah and especially the style from Rhone. I still like the big, bold flavors of an Australian Shiraz, but to get a distinct flavor of the grape without a lot of fruit the Rhone can't be beat.

The Domaine de Montine Seduction is 90% Syrah and 10% Viognier. I couldn't detect what flavors or aromas were contributed by the Viognier. For that matter, I couldn't pick out any distinct fruit. But when I smelled and tasted the wine, I thought Rhone! I went to a Rhone wine tasting two years ago and really enjoyed the wines. There was an almost rubber smell and taste to the wines. This sounds bad, but it is just what I have come to associate with the unique character of a Rhone. This was a 2006 bottle, so maybe it needed to age more for the fruit to be expressed better. But the wine was very enjoyable as it was. I do wish I had purchased two bottles and been able to save one for four years to experience it with more age. Maybe next time!

This wine would have gone really well with a hearty meat dish, especially one with a gamey flavor to it like duck or maybe venison. My wife and I enjoyed it all by itself, but I think we missed out. This is a great start for my Garagiste wine stash!

Tasting Notes:

Color: Deep purple

Aroma: Rhone (for lack of being able to smell better), rubber

Taste: Rhone, again I'm lacking in skill here

Finish: Long and enjoyable. Really nice tannins that would compliment a red meat dish well

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Opening The First Case

I was afraid I'd have to wait another day for my first case of wine from Garagiste. I was crestfallen. The email from UPS said the package would arrive by 7:00 PM and my watch showed 7:03. What went wrong? My wife told me to go pick up some food and maybe by the time I got back the wine would be here. I doubted it. Somehow, when you anticipate something so much, the disappointment of a deley causes you to lose hope.

I went to the car, pressed the garage opener button and expected to be blocked by the UPS van. The driveway was clear. Sighing heavily, I pulled out and then drove off to get a late dinner. Normally we go to my mother's church for dinner on Wednesday night, but I stayed home so as not to miss the delivery. We could have gone.

On the way back I tried to cheer up by thinking about what I'd do tomorrow night when the delivery arrived. I'd slowly open the box and stare at the contents: 12 bottles of special grape juice. A few of the bottles would contain wine made from grapes I'd never tried before. Some would be familiar grapes but made in a way I hadn't tried. Probably some I wouldn't like at all, but I'd enjoy them just the same.

I had created a spreadsheet from the list of my wines on the Garagiste web site. I added notes from the emails with descriptions of each wine that Jon Rimmerman had written. I planned to use these notes in my wine blog when I reported on them. I wondered which wine I'd write a post on first...and then I saw it: the UPS van was parked in front of my house! The driver was getting back into the van! He was driving away. The wine had arrived after all! After parking the car and grabbing the food I made myself walk into the house. There it sat by the front door: my first case of Garagiste wine!

It took a long time to match the wines with the sheet I had printed up. I read each label, learning where each bottle had come from and which grapes each wine was made from. There were ten bottles from Italy (I must have ordered most of these while under the influence of reading Vino Italiano) and two from France. Ten of them were red and two white. I'm glad we don't own a video camera: I'd hate to see the silly grin I had on my face a I loving placed each bottle in the wine fridge.

I didn't drink any of the wine last night (did I eat the food?); that will be for another time. Instead I had a different kind of enjoyment from the wine. To savor the opening of a box will be a rare event. It was a lot like I remember Christmas morning used to be when I was a kid.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Waiting for Wine

Today's the day!

My first shipment from Garagiste is due today. I went a little crazy after finding out about this online wine dealer and bought two cases of wine over a 6 month period. However, I have not had delivery of any of the wine because they don't ship wine during the hot summer months.

I found out about Garagiste from a posting by Dr Debs on her "Great Wine Under $20" blog. What attracted me to Garagiste was:

  1. The wine is very well priced (provided you don't order too much)

  2. The wines featured were different from wines I normally drink

  3. I love shopping by mail

When I was a kid I would eat through a box of cereal as fast as I could so I could cut out the boxtops to save for a prize like a Matchbox car. When I had enough box tops, I'd mail them in and wait for my prize. It seemed to take forever, 6-8 weeks is an eternity to a ten-year-old! The day I opened the mailbox and found that special box from the cereal company was like Christmas!

I feel like that all over again today. It's UPS that will be delivering my 38 pound box, but the feeling is the same. When I open that box it's going to be like I've found a treasure box. Wines from all over the world (Spain, France, Australia, Portugal, Italy) are in that box. Juice from grapes I've never tasted will be present. I've waited so long (6 months is an eternity to a 50 year-old!) for this delivery that I want to relish each bottle.

My wine fridge has just one bottle in it right now. I'm going to have fun tonight as I fill it back up! I hope someone is home when UPS arrives; I can't stand to wait one more day!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Foxy's Fall Century

I'm signed up for my first century: Foxy's Fall Century on October 18, 2008. It's the day after my 50th birthday!

I'm also registered for the Auburn Metric Century. I think this one will be more difficult because of the hills. It's on September 20th. That will give me a month to recover!

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