South, South, South of the Border-Lapostolle’s Cuveé Alexandre & Piattelli’s Malbec Premium Reserve

Thou art not conquer’d; beauty’s ensign yet/Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks.“-Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.

When I think of capturing the significance of life in color, I think of Shakespeare and the color red. Here, Romeo sees Juliet and is captivated that in her death, life is still ever present through the notes of crimson accentuating her face and her beauty (note: she is not really dead here, but very much alive. It’s call irony, but I digress).

A great South American red wine (can) also exhibit the beauty of the deepness of life and the terroir from which its been born. I’ve heard that I would love all South American wines, but think the value of the wine has often overshadowed the quality.  Until I tried these two.

The Wines: Cuveé Alexandre’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile) and Piattelli’s Malbec Reserve 2011 (Argentina).

Cuveé Alexandre’s 2011 Cabernet SauvDSC_0024ignon is a deep red wine with legs that could be a Rockette.  This Cab Sauv is a blend dominated by Cab Sauv (88%)  but includes Cabernet Franc (7%) and Syrah (5%), giving it a more body, rich structure and potential to age for quite a few years.

Showing up on a Friday night at my parents means one thing: steak.  This wine marries with grilled meats beautifully.  On the nose and the palatte, it is red fruit (cherries, baked plum) forward, and is supported by coffee, tobacco, and oak notes that make for wine heaven. Even my mother, who sips conservatively and politely to support my wine “experiments” asked for another glass.  If I didn’t love my parents, I would have finished the bottle myself.

I found this wine at Haskell’s Maple Grove location, and retails for around $25.00.  Buy any you find on sale!

Piattelli’s –highly scored by Robert Parker–Malbec Premium Reserve was the underdog of my purchases, and I thought simply, “There’s no way I get 2-for-2 South American wines right.” I was wrong.

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This wine was exquisite.  Bold and bursting at first sip with refined violet flavors, there was a shocking silky finishing, lingering in the mouth as if I passed crushed velvet over my tongue. Hints of chocolate, oak and tones of leather, the fruit of blackberries combined for an experience I want to experience again and again. The finish was long and elegant, and the tannins far more refined than I expected (Again, my mother went for glass #2!)

According to their website, the grapes for this wine were “handpicked and manually sorted” and aged in second-use French and American oak barrels.  This wine is the embodiment of love in the hands of the winemaker, and drank to me like a wine of $50.00–not the $15.99 I purchased this for at Surdyk’s in Minneapolis.

Quality definitely conquered the affordable price tag for me in these wines, and felt like I had found the real deal, not the windmills of South American wine I previously chased. These wines are alive with fruit, love and elegance–if you get the chance, buy a bottle for those you love (and an extra one for you to hoard away for yourself!)

 

 

No Leap of Faith Needed Here: Stag’s Leap Napa Valley

It is not unusual to see minus (insert number) temps in Minnesota during Christmas week. This is one of those weeks.

photo-97Nothing pairs better with snow, Christmas trees and steak dinners like a big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. (Wine is the new black–in this case, black wearable sleeping bag to warm the insides).  This week the wine was: Stag’s Leap Napa Valley 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Stag’s Leap is one of my favorites–maybe because the first time I had it (Artemis) I was on a beautiful veranda eating a great steak dinner with my friend Melissa as we prepared ourselves for a duathlon in the beautiful backyard of Ashburn, NC.  The sun was setting, we had the glow of tanned fitness on our faces, and the air was silent.  Sometimes, wine is the punctuation that helps us remember those important, quiet times.  In this case, Stag’s Leap is a comma, a breath and pause when you want it to go on.

This wine, Stag’s Leap Napa Valley, is another marker in a line of great wines.  Notes of blackberry, baked black cherry with a drizzle of chocolate on top, slight pepper and smokey hints, it is a big wine that likes to be paired with food.  (I loved looking at the leg’s on the glass, thinking this one could debut at Radio City). With 13.9% alcohol and a 2010 vintage, there was also a slight bit of herbaceous undertones–it is a younger wine that might need some air before serving, or perhaps a decanter,  as it tipped toward tannin and alcohol right out of the bottle. (My guess is that I would have loved, loved, loved this if consumed on night #2 as it started to open up with time and a bit of warmth.) That said, it was great when it started to open up-and showed a window on it’s potential.  It’s a drink now, or even perhaps, wait a bit wine.

If you ever see a bottle on sale, as I did with this one (retail $49.99, sale at $35), grab one–just to try your own take at creating a new memory.

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Easy like Sunday Morning-And St. Supery

Today is the unicorn fall day in Minnesota: those days that are so beautiful-crisp air, blue skies, fluffy clouds hovering over crimson, gold,  and green-leafed rainbows, verdant lawns and sunlight sure pure, it’s like its been strained through a filter for any lingering debris. But hard to believe they (these kinds of days) are real.

I took advantage of it in full force. (Side note: didn’t know my current roommate substituted real coffee with decaf. I’ve been sad all week.  I had full strength this morning, and think I could have built Hoover Dam.  Glad the day and the jolt coincided).  I first went for a run of 7.5  miles, then a bike ride around town and took in the sites against the many neighborhoods I traveled through.  (Then, I bought the new iPhone and went to Whole foods, and felt bphoto-87roke.)

The day, however, and a good wine, is something that can all of us feel rich.

This is that wine.  St. Supery, a Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Napa Valley is full of pomp and circumstance.  Or should I say plump and circumstance? It is big.

On the nose, rich cassis that feels like it was liquored in the sun,  blackberry and vanilla.  It is a potpourri of all the best a Cabernet Sauv can offer.  On the palette, it is big–and slightly drowned out by the alcohol at 14.7%, but with a little cheese and some rosemary crackers–it numbed down the alcohol and became much smoother.  The length was a good medium length and medium-full on the tannins. The fruit came out and with a little food, was nice and balanced.

I recommend no more than half a bottle–especially on a Sunday.  But if you can call in sick to work, have at it!

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Molly Dooker returns: Two left Feet Is A Smooth Operator

photo-83Have you ever seen a long long friend turn a corner (after you’ve been straining your head in wait) to have them appear and your head fills up with glee as your pulse races in happiness and expectation?  It’s called being smitten.

That is how I’m starting to feel about a Molly Dooker wine.  “Too Left Feet” is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  On the nose it is baked plums, soft leather, light oak, and spicy chocolate. On the tongue, the tannins are soft (from the Merlot addition) and it tastes like your favorite Christmas dessert wrapped up in a chocolate birthday cupcake (with the same flavor profiles as on the nose). The taste is smooth and balanced and the alcohol (at 15.5%!) is not overpowering.  It has such a bright taste, that I almost expected bubbles.

I would give this high marks easily, especially since you can find the brand anywhere (even in MSP),  and with the right friends (I have) the right dessert (Jill is making chocolate molten cake to go with it), and the right day (can you say stress?), it puts the right spin on the day.  I don’t think I’m working out tomorrow–probably something to do with a coordination problem after drinking this.

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End of Week Attitude from “Altitude 2401”-Perry Creek

Whether there is great cause for celebration, or it’s Friday night and you have made it through another dog-eat-dog week, I have one wine to set the week apart and recommend, “Altitude 2401” Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Perry Creek Winery in California.

I don’t need much fanfare to tout this wine.   It is a dark and brooding Renoir painting that you pick up at the garage sale down the street on a sunny afternoon.  In short, it is complex without being hard to understand.  In a word, it is deliperrycreekcious. 

The Wine: has deep notes of blackberry and baked plum, paired with your favorite leather jacket from high school that has mellowed and crackled with age. On the sidelines are soft, smokey oak notes that blend into the inner depths of this wine that makes it relaxed, approachable, and probably the best table wine you will drink all week.  The tannins are soft (I would say like the petal of a rose, but don’t wan’t to wax too poetic) and the finish is a medium long finish. It’s a drink now wine–and drink it as much as you can. 

I drank this wine during a dinner party tonight, so it had to be shared, and because there was only one bottle, I will make the workout.  But if I were alone, I would have hermitted away to finish this wine by myself.  “Live today, for tomorrow we ride” seems appros pos for opening another bottle (if I had had one).

Perry Creek has a number of good–and great–wines.  I found this during a trip to visit the family and have since joined the wine club.  And the in-between-wine-deliveries club (I started my own group, you could say).   But if you don’t live in California, and can’t get there soon–I would say troll online for a bit and find one to suit your taste. 

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ISO That Special “One”

I am probably one of the few that holds Valentine’s Day at arms length–I neither love it nor hate it, but I do find a nice bouquet of flowers (even if a mandatory surprise) a nice break in the day.   While I do not begrudge all in-love couples their romantic notions, I have to say that I think of Cruella De Vil, not Cupid, as its poster child.   I wonder about the sincerity of the holiday, but more than that I think more generally: if you had a fur coat, wouldn’t you flaunt it, too?

That said, one of my favorite parts about the holiday is that my mother always sends me a Valentine’s, and while overlooked in the past, I now look forward to that most of all. I watch the mail for the card she would have purchased at Christmas or in the new year– simple, straightforward, and full–a small card that says big things, and to think of her waiting months to send a card of love, I think of one of her favorite people (to remain unnamed) who said: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”  In life, I value these little things.

So, this Valentines, I also felt the obligation to open a bottle of wine to mark the holiday. (I say obligation because I am one of the masses who has been hit by a cold).  I didn’t want to spend a lot (since my tastebuds were compromised), so I picked up what seemed to be a value deal at Whole Foods.  “One Wine,” a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley was a good choice for the day, the flu season, and a nice Valentine’s Day steak dinner.  A medium-bodied, black-fruit forward wine with rich tannins and small notes of black cherries and smoke,  it cut through the congestion and held it’s own.  While flavorful, it lacked a long, balanced finish I had hoped to find in this “deal,” but at $19.99, it was exactly what I was looking for–something inexpensive, simple, and straightforward.    It line with the day, it was more homey than showy.

Even under the weather, it was a Zone 2 wine–I would definitely have a glass or two, but I don’t feel the need to overindulge.

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