Friday, March 30, 2007

Facing My Fears: Vol. 2

The second installment in the Facing My Fears series is that grassy old coot sauvignon blanc. The first sauv blanc I had was from New Zealand, and boy did it taste like a mouthful of weeds.

At the time, I knew nothing about the grassy, herbal qualities of sauvignon blanc. I just knew that it had the word "sauvignon" in the title, which reminded me a lot of cabernet sauvignon, which I knew I liked. So I figured, what the hell, they must be as related as a red and white grape can be.

And then I felt like a cow chewing cud when I took a sip. I'm not sure that I even finished that bottle. I may have poured it out — shocking, I know!

So for my trip back into the land of sauv blanc, I decided to steer away from the bolder New Zealand offerings and instead settle on something French — 2005 Bordeaux Trocard Sauvignon Blanc.

To be fair, it's a blend — 80 percent sauvignon blanc and 20 percent semillon.

But the sauv blanc grape carries the flavor. It's got a grassy, minerally backbone, but it's kind of underwhelming. I expected my nostrils to flare and my salivary glands to squirt in defense. Not so. It's actually a quite balanced wine, a little on the timid side, and very, very dry. So much so that on my first sip, I actually said aloud, "Well, THAT's interesting."

And it is. I can see how this would pair well with food — particularly chicken, I think. I have had such trouble finding a good wine for grilled or roasted chicken. Everything I think would be good turns out to overshadow the food a little too much. This wine seems content with whispering its charms.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Facing my fears — Vol. 1

So, in my short year (yes, year!) of wining, I've developed a loose set of guidelines upon which I base all of my wine purchases. Things like "don't pay more than $15 a bottle if you're just going to be drinking alone" and "skip the chardonnay." Mingling with those guidelines is my "blech" list — a mental collection of wines I've had bad experiences with and don't care to try again.

So, I'm granting myself some do-overs, specifically with shiraz/syrah, sauvignon blanc, and zinfandel — three varietals I've had icky experiences with.

An unfortunate run-in with a goopy Chilean shiraz put shiraz/syrah on my blech list last summer. The cheap wine was nothing but alcohol and grainy sediment; the pessimist in me assumed that maybe all shiraz was created like that. But I know that's not the case; I've just been reluctant to strike back out and try something different.

Which brings us to tonight's tasting: 2004 Domaine des Blagueurs Syrah.

Obviously, the first thing you notice about this wine is the wicked Ralph Steadman design on the label. But there's much more to it than that.

It's a hefty wine for its price; its nose is, at first — especially when warm — deeply alcoholic, giving way to dark, plummy fruit scents. A swig of it reveals a smoky thickness, one woven with tobacco and tannin, and black cherries. It's actually quite yummy and smooth — no sediment to be found crunching between my teeth.

If I can tackle the rest of my fears with such ease, I will enter a whole other realm of wine-drinking.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007


Man, this cheese's smell makes me feel yucky.

What wines pair with a fairly pungent cheese and downplay its ripeness?

I'm only able to recommend gouda with medium-bodied reds and muenster with sweet or off-dry whites.

What the hell can pair with a pungent esrom?


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bummer squared

1. The blue-law shakeup bill was shot down in committee yesterday. This means still no liquor on Sunday and still no wine in the grocery store.

2. I'm detoxing this week. Mostly because I'm buh-roke, but also because it's good to every now and give the liver a break. So no tasting notes this week (I haven't done them in a while anyway). We'll see how long I can last.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

News of note

I'm sitting here doing my Tuesday-night thing: Sipping wine and perusing blogs and reading my e-mails, trying to getting caught up on things I've missed.

I've just cracked open a bottle of Louis Jadot Beaujolais, and the first scent that hit my nose was that of buttered popcorn. I've got a glass poured, and even though I can smell the fruit now, I still can't shake the scent of popcorn. Is that weird?

Anyway two interesting things happening in the wine world today:

1. Ernest Gallo, the famous winemaker, has died.

2. Pinko commie Nashville blogger Sean Braisted has started a website that will track new developments in the legislative quest to de-crappify Tennessee liquor laws. There is pending legislation that would allow wine sales in grocery stores, and allow liquor sales on Sundays.

I'm adding it to the sidebar for easy access. Kudos to Sean!

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