This month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday theme is hosted by 1 Wine Dude blogger Joe Roberts. This fun theme is “baked goods”, literally wines that have been maderized (or heated) such as Madeira. The theme has been extended to include wines that have been fortified as well. I have chosen this month the Campbells Rutherglen Muscat, which is a dessert wine made from the Muscat grape (fortified with grape spirits). Rutherglen is an area in Northeast Victoria, southeast Australia that is famous for distinctive fortified Muscat and Tokay dessert wines. Campbells has been in the winemaking business since 1870, which is impressive.
I purchased this 375ml bottle a few months ago at a New Hampshire State Liquor Store in Nashua for about $15. Was I attracted to the fine old Scottish name on the bottle? Perhaps. Was I lured in by the big Decanter Gold Medal label on the front? Sure. Do I appreciate a delicious fortified sticky? Absolutely.
According to the Campbells web site, the wine is made using the Solera system, that is, from a blend of wines from several vintages, hence there is no vintage on the label. The alcohol by volume (ABV) is a relatively modest 17%. This wine recently received a 91of 100 from tough wine critic Stephen Tanzer of International Wine Cellar, which says to me it must have some special qualities.
I have to be honest- I only had a small glass of this before a guest quaffed the whole thing. It just really tastes good, especially if you have any kind of sweet tooth. I’m always happy to be a good host :-). But I did take down some tasting notes. The nose reminded me right off the bat of plum pudding and hard sauce that I used to have sometimes on holidays as a child. It’s so funny that on Campbells web page describing the wine they state that it pairs well with plum pudding and hard sauce. That made me chuckle. Also prominent on the nose are candied raisin and burnt caramel. I sensed also on the nose something that reminded me of cognac, but more unctuous. The finish is good and very pleasant. I’ll probably try to round up another bottle of this at some point!
This month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday theme is ‘brought to you by the letter S’, and is hosted by Grape Juice, A Wine Blog. The letter S should figure prominently in the wine name, country, varietal, producer, appellation, vineyard, or really in any way at all! I assume the folks at Grape Juice are fans of Sesame Street, brought to you by PBS since 1969. Here is one of my fave bits from Sesame Street. James Earl Jones sounds particularly Darth Vader-like at ‘Y’.
So being Summer and all, I thought it would be cool to make a nice Sangria. And why not with a Special varietal like Shiraz/Syrah? I chose the Torbeck Woodcutter’s Shiraz 2006 and used this recipe for Sparkling Cranberry Orange Sangria which looked pretty yummy from wineintro.com. Except I didn’t use the Cranberry liqueur as I don’t have any in-house.
The Shiraz by itself is meaty, fruit forward, well-made, concentrated, with smooth tannins and a good finish. The Sangria is mostly fruit juice and it super refreshing. I used pulpy O.J. and cranberry-pomegranate juice (100% juice) as I avoid any juice with high fructose corn syrup in it. I used this over-the-top decanter I bought at Pier 1 a few months ago.
I’m late with this posting. I actually imbibed another S-intensive wine on Wednesday but didn’t write down the tasting notes at dinner. OopS.
This month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday is hosted by Dr. Debs over at Good Wine Under $20. The theme this month is summery white wine varietals generally associated with the Rhone Valley in France, to quote:
“The varieties that I think best exemplify summer are white varieties associated with the Rhone: Bourboulenc, Clairette Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains, Picardin, Picpoul, Roussanne, Ugni Blanc, and Viognier.”
The varietals can be combined in a blend or not, and don’t need to actually be grown/vinified in the Rhone Valley. So this month on one of my recent trip to Gordon’s in Waltham (my wine class Mecca), I selected the 2006 Domaine Roger Perrin Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc for this month’s assignment. This is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Clairette, and Roussanne.
This wine is very pale yellow in color, and also is light-bodied and crisp. It is citrusy and simple. This would be excellent sitting on a deck outside with a nice lobster dinner. If I were a wine critic using a 100-point scale I’d probably give it an 86 for general competence, but for $23.96 it’s not the greatest QPR in the world.
A ‘New World’ wine with white Rhone varietals I had a few months ago that rocked my world a bit more was the 2006 The Black Chook VMR McLaren Vale & Langhorne Creek (Viognier, Marsanne, and Rousanne blend). This wine had quite a bit more going for it in terms of aromatics, fruitiness, finish, and overall deliciousness, and I agree with Stephen Tanzer’s 90 points on the 100-point scale. In fact, I recall in January when I opened this bottle I didn’t manage the sort of reasonable restraint a petite lady should strive to maintain when enjoying a potent potable :-).
Saturday we attended another wonderful wine tasting – this time at Harrington Wine & Liquors in Chelmsford, MA. Available to try were 50 wines from 6 different distributors. This was a well-attended event, apparently an annual Spring happening at Harrington’s. There was no theme to the tasting – just cool new wines to try. There were grapes, cheeses, and crackers there to cleanse the palate/munch on. A few people seem to recognize me because I bring that special glass from Pier-1 to tastings. Anyway, we did enjoy this quite a bit and I wanted to note a few of my favorites. My wine of the day was: Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina 2004. This was just the silkiest and smoothest Chianti, and so well balanced. Classy effort. Well, I’ve figured out that I’m really turned on by silky tannins and turned off by rough, grainy, or excessively mouth-puckering tannins. This is not so surprising in this relative newbie oenophile stage. Another surprise was the scarily named TAIT The Ball Buster Barossa Valley 2006. Despite the moniker this wine possesses a smooth refinement on top of the fruit-bomb flavorfulness that I really appreciate. Just deliciousness all the way. I also approved of the Folie à Deux Ménage à Trois Rosé 2006 which is a pleasant quaffer blend of syrah, merlot, and gewurztraminer. I was very impressed with the d’Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz/Viognier 2006, which was a big wine with gobs of fruit and gorgeous aromatics.
Tastings are so great for trying different producers, countries, regions, varietals… expanding your palate, opening your vinous mind, and for practical consumer purposes, testing out before you buy.
Afterwards we went to Sakura for sushi that was fabulous. I’ve never had actual raw sushi before (only CA rolls).