Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fancy, Lazy Wine Pairings (and a Lazy Post)

Saw this Mental Floss post and loved it(!), especially the first pairing. It brought me back to a lazy day post-Katrina when I was working my way through my extensive wine collection that sat in the sweltering heat for much too long after the storm passed but the Army Corpse of Engineers' levees gave way.
I was sitting in a friend's house that was on the market since mine was uninhabitable at the time and she and her then-husband had left town, never to return. College football was on and I was exhausted from working and trying to rehab my house. As I recall, Penn State was playing - before the Sandusky ugliness had surfaced - and I didn't feel like cooking. I had a bag of Cheetos and decided a bottle Brunello might make a good match. It was magical. Beyond the more than serviceable pairing, it was a rare moment of relaxation and (mostly) happiness in a  tumultuous time. The wine held up better than many others in my "cellar" had and I felt as normal as I had in months. Wish the producer's name was still in my head but many details from that slice of my life are fuzzy, jumbled or just plain gone.
The first lazy person pairing in this recent post rang true and I bet the others might for you. Check them out:
Lazy Wine Pairings from Mental Floss
Anyone have more to offer?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

No Hick from French Lick

As I have written before (French Lick visit and Vintage Indiana summary) French Lick Winery continues to impress me. Their wines could fit well with much more recognized varieties from more well known regions. I applaud their efforts with dry, red table wines and with unheralded grapes.
Vintage Indiana provided me an opportunity to taste them against their immediate competition and they blew me away. My favorite continues to be the norton but the chambourcin always makes my mouth happy too.
Here are updated reviews for my two favorites.

Chambourcin - non-vintage? The bottling has been vintage dated in the past but this one seems to lack that information. It is possible I missed it, the norton has the vintage in a strange place, see below, but I am pretty sure no vintage appeared anywhere. The back label also says "for sale in Indiana only," which I found interesting (norton has the same caveat.)
The wine shows a great, vibrant purple color with ruby edges. It is bright and clear (not even slightly cloudy) with a hint of cedar on the nose but otherwise fairly mute. The palate has enough fruit to carry it through, with tannin appearing on the finish. The mouthfeel borders on lush but the tannins clip the finish a bit - the lingering impression seems more aromatic than tactile but that flavor hangs on for a full minute after a sip. This wine is not huge or intense or particularly complex but it is a happy drink.

Norton 2009 - You can see the unusual placement of the vintage here.

This wine has an impressive, deep color with a red edge. The nose was a but mute straight out of the bottle but the palate is all there! The nose is subtle fruits - blackberries in a not quite air-tight container(?) - and some vanilla. The oak is not overwhelming despite the obvious appearance of vanilla on the aroma. The palate is medium-bodied but full and rich, engaging the tongue more than the roof of the mouth. Great texture. Again, after opening up a bit, dark berry and vanilla dominate. There is not a whole lot else present but the wine is delicious anyway. I would love to serve this to a cabernet fan and see what they say.

Go see the winery if you're in the neighborhood.
French Lick Winery

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The End of Hand Sorting?

I am not always a fan of technological advances brought to winemaking but then most of those tend to be about controlling anomalies: spinning out excess alcohol, remastering chemical composition to account for low acids, etc.
The optical sorting machine seems to be a winner. Bloomberg ran a piece about this machine and I found it on Dr. Vino's blog. It is fascinating technology, seemingly meeting with glowing reviews from real-world users. The grapes move through the machine and a picture is taken, then sub-par grapes are blown off the line with a poof of air.
This may be another blow to day-laborers and maybe even to volunteers who like to help during harvest. Many small wineries will not be able to afford the $175K price tag, so this is not the new face of all sorting, but it seems like a technological improvement we can all get excited about!
As long as that cost is met with real savings, so the prices don't shoot up faster than the quality...but if the improvement is as good as they claim, even a nominal increase in price can be justified by an accompanying rise in quality.