Monday, December 28, 2009

Heaven on Earth!

Today my definition of joy is being home alone with five different kinds of wine. I finally have time to do the new taste test I've been itching for. I am so happy that, not only am I showing you my own sorry attempt at photography, but I am also allowing you to see that I drink my wine out of water goblets. (Gasp!)

The five contenders are my four most recent acquisitions previously blogged about (Forest Glen White Merlot, Sebeka Cabernet Pinotage, Le Grand Pinot Noir, Blackstone Cabernet Sauvignon), and Franzia Merlot in a box. (Yes, in a box, but I have an excuse. I always keep some sort of boxed wine on hand just to make sure I don't run out. These things are necessary when you live in a dry county and you have to drive to Arkansas to restock).

That's the White Merlot in the foreground, of course, and then the other four are rather indistinguishable from each other in the picture. The boxed Merlot is not quite as inky as the other three, and the Cabernet Sauvignon is maybe slightly more purplish, but I really don't think there's any way I could tell the true reds apart by just by looking at them. OK, truth be told, I probably couldn't tell them apart by tasting them, either. I'm not that good (yet. But I'll keep working on it).

The White Merlot is definitely the lightest and sweetest of the bunch. No surprise there. The boxed Merlot is not quite as sweet as the white, but is a little plain compared to the other three. Unfortunately, I can smell nail-polish remover in the Cabernet Pinotage (just like wikipedia warned me), though it is faint. Odd that I didn't catch this scent previously. Even more odd is that I still like the taste. I mean, it's nothing like what I imagine drinking nail-polish remover would be like.

The Blackstone Cabernet Sauvignon has the most unique bouquet of the five, and I am trying to put my thumb on what I'm smelling, but I'm having no luck. I called it green banana before, and I guess that's the closest I can manage this time too. I think the Pinot Noir smells the most fruity, the Cabernet Pinotage has a tangy whiff, the Cabernet Sauvignon smells heavy and somehow bright, and the boxed merlot kind of reminds me of smoky barbecue or Worcestershire sauce . . . ? Oh, and by the way, yes I DO realize I am comparing what amounts to apples, oranges, peaches and carrots. But I see no problem in this, since I am trying to decide what I like best.

The White Merlot kind of seems to have a beer-y aftertaste. This may be because it is better straight from the fridge (and I have allowed it to sit out and breathe just as long as the true reds for this taste test). I may make this my summer wine, for a chilled drink, but for the purposes of this taste test, it just does not stand up to the other four. So White Merlot is low man on the totem pole this time around.

The Pinot Noir is a very pleasant wine. The Cabernet Sauvignon has a nice zippy feel to its finish. The Cabernet Pinotage has a really good flavor. Even the boxed Merlot is nice. I can't decide which one I like best! Fortunately for me, I don't have to.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sebeka Cabernet Pinotage 2007 Western Cape, South Africa

We were given this bottle at a Christmas party last Saturday night, which would have made attending worthwhile even if the party hadn't been any fun. Wine from South Africa had really never even crossed my mind before. Likewise, "Cabernet Pinotage" was a new one on me. Apparently this is a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon and 41% Pinotage--but even that last bit threw me. So in case Pinotage is new to you, too, here's what I found out on Pinotage is a red wine grape that is South Africa's signature variety. The Pinotage grape is a "viticultural cross" (not a hybrid! don't ask me what the difference is) between Pinot noir and Cinsaut (which, in South Africa, is known by the name Hermitage). "It typically produces deep red varietal wines with smoky, bramble, and earthy flavors, sometimes with notes of bananas and tropical fruit, but has been criticized for sometimes smelling of acetone," which doesn't sound great to me, mainly because of that last part.

In the glass, the wine is inky dark and opaque, a slightly brownish red. It smells a lot like one of my favorite dark chocolates, which happens to be the Choxie Espresso truffle bar, but with a fruity tone also. (Speaking of my Choxie bars, it seems I need to find a new hiding place for them, because just yesterday my three-year-old found my last two squares and polished them off. But back to the wine.) The taste is smooth and rich with a distinct coffee flavor and a tangy finish. I like it! Maybe the added Cab enhances the good stuff and drowns out the acetone. It's definitely worth noting that I let this glass breathe for more than two hours before drinking it, not purposefully but because I got distracted by wrapping Christmas presents.

You also need to notice the super-cool, cheetah-spotted cork. That was a fun surprise.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cool idea

I was flipping through a Signals catalog this evening and something caught my eye: recycled wine bottle glasses. I've been looking for some unique drinking glasses (not for drinking wine, just for water or whatever). These only cost $30 for a set, and I briefly thought about buying some for myself for Christmas, until I realized they were only 4 to a set, and I thought . . . why not make my own?? I don't have the tools to actually do it myself, but I plan to call our local glass shop and see if they could handle a project like this. I have 8 bottles in varying colors (blues and greens, though 3 of them need to be emptied first . . . shouldn't be a problem) but I'll post a picture if I ever get around to doing this. (The picture here, of course, is just for the concept.)

Black Sheep Le Grand Noir Pinot Noir 2008 Limoux, France

The wine guy at the Party Factory picked this one out for me. It had a sign next to it saying it was great with turkey; I didn't try this pairing myself, though I thought about it, but it's too late now, as we've already polished off all the Thanksgiving leftovers.

This wine is a deep ruby red, dark but clear. It has the nicest legs I've ever noticed on a wine before, which is supposed to be a good thing, but I'm not sure I understand why. The label claims flavors of spiced cherries, and I definitely get the spice, but I'm having a hard time picking out cherries--though I do think I can smell a little bit of a strawberry scent. It's very acidic (which is, I learned just recently, what you call it when the wine has a sour taste) and dry. Excellent with cheese!

I'm sorry to report that the bottle has a screwcap instead of a cork, which seems slightly ghetto, but I guess it's good news for the cork oak trees. I wonder if that colors my opinion? Because, while this is a decent wine and I'm enjoying it fairly well, I don't love it like the previous two bottles. I feel another comparison post coming on . . .

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Blackstone Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 California

Two for two! Woooohoo! This wine is awesome. It's wildly different from the white merlot, but I like it just as much, if not more! It's an inky, opaque, dark purply red, and it almost has a slight smell of green banana. (Normally I don't care for banana smells or flavors unless it's in a real banana, but in this case I don't mind it). It has a great, spicy flavor and is pretty dry. Thumbs up!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Forest Glen Forest Fire White Merlot 2008 California

I love this wine! I had never even heard of White Merlot until three weeks ago, when it was recommended to me. This is good stuff! It has a beautiful color--a clear but rich garnet. It's light and fresh but also spicy. It is slightly sweet, but not too much for my taste. I wish I had some White Zinfandel to compare it to. Zin is easy to drink (as is this) but I really think the White Merlot is superior, with a zippy kick that the Zin doesn't have. I like that I can smell the raspberry in this one!