Charlie Opines About Wine

In my search for interesting wines to serve to guests at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast, I attend many planned and impromptu wine tastings. I am happy to share my experiences with you. It's a tough job but someone has to do it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cape Cod Summer Evening Wine Tasting

Cape Cod + Summer Evening + Wine = Perfection!

My research for great wines to serve my guest at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast never ends, and I love it. If you follow my wine-ings, you may have picked up on my preference for red wines. Last week, I jumped at the chance to help at Cellar 55’s and Belfry Bistro’s tasting that featured all California reds. As dark and stormy as the tasting the week before had been, this night was a picture perfect Cape Cod summer evening.

Paul Russo, the Fine Wine Consultant for Masciarelli Wine Company, did the honors of introducing the wines for the evening. The program listed four wines from the Siduri Winery and the Novy Family Wines. Paul gave us the interesting family background that ties these two quality producers together, and I also found a lot of facts on their websites. The winemakers for both wineries are Adam Lee and Diana (Novy) Lee. Together, they fulfilled their dreams by starting Siduri and achieved success as a n├Ęgociant producing highly rated Pinot Noirs with grapes from the best vineyard from Santa Barbara, California to Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Adam and Diana and some Novy family members expanded into other varietals under the Novy Family Wines brand. They are literally a "warehouse winery," which means exactly what it sounds like. Both Siduri and Novy Family Wines are produced in a warehouse facility in Sonoma County. They say, “It's low frills, but it allows us to make great quality wine and offer a much more personal tasting experience to our visitors”. I have had wines from both labels, but was unaware of the interconnection and would love to visit them on my next trip to Sonoma.

With this bit of family history, we started the tasting with two Pinots from Siduri. I have always liked their colorful label, which depicts the Babylonian Goddess of wine, Siduri.  The website explains that, in Babylonian mythology, the goddess Siduri held the wine of eternal life. My doctor must agree with the Babylonians since he recommends a glass of red wine a day, and I do my best to follow my doctor’s orders.

Our first Siduri was the 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir paired with a Long Island Duck Leg Confit. This was followed by the 2008 Santa Lucia Highland Pinot Noir paired with a Prosciutto and Arugula salad. I was too busy pouring to enjoy the pairings, but had time to taste the wines side by side. I had the blended 2008 Sonoma Coast last year, but never the single vineyard Santa Lucia Highland. Wine Spectator rated them both over 90 points and I liked them both, maybe leaning slightly to the 2008 Santa Lucia Highlands.

From the Novy Family we started with the 2009 Novy Four Mile Creek paired with a Braised Pork Belly. I discovered this wine last year at Cellar 55 Wine Merchants and have worked into my guest wine offerings ever since.

Although I could not find the exact percentages for 2009, in the past this has be a nice blend of Grenache, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir grapes form some of California’s most famous vineyards. The winemakers take some of the best grapes they have not used for the single vineyard Siduri and Novy wines and makes this easy drinking red table wine. It went great with the pork. 

Our last wine was the 2009 Novy Sonoma County Syrah paired with a Malted Milk Chocolate Shake. Last years 2008 Syrah was my first introduction to the Novy Family Wines and the 2009 lives up to my expectations. And what’s not to like about red wine and chocolate, hands down my favorite paring of the night.

Another great night of wine and food, it’s all in a day’s work for me. I am a lucky man.
Happy Wine-ing

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod Massachusetts

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sandwich Wine Tasting - Wines of Argentina

Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings

Work, work, work! Another Wednesday night and another wine tasting at the Belfry Bistro. My work to find new and interesting wines to serve guests at our Cape Cod B&B never ends. I actually was recruited to help pour for the tasting by my friends from Cellar 55 Wine Merchants, so I did ‘work’ in addition to enjoy some new wines. Yes, I work for wine.

All the wines we experienced were from the Bodega Luigi Bosca of Mendoza, Argentina. The Arizu family, who has been growing grapes there since 1901, owns this Bodega. The family is known as winemaking innovators and is one of the leaders in the development on Argentina’s flourishing wine industry. Andrew Craighead, from Testa Wines of the World, conducted the tasting. Andrew is the Luigi Bosca New England Regional Manager. It is always a plus when someone directly connected with the winemakers can give you insights into the people who crafted each bottle.

Our Argentina adventure started with a 2010 La Linda Torrontes. La Lindas are the entry-level wines in the Luigi Bosca lineup. Andrew describes the Torrontes grape as one of Argentina’s most popular white grapes that yields a wine in taste somewhere between a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay. This light, fruity, dry wine was paired nicely with an interesting grilled peach salad.

Next we had the 2010 La Linda Rose Malbec. Mendoza is known worldwide for its Malbec, so it is not surprising that they produce a Rose, but the typical boldness of the heavy Malbec grape left me with a ‘tartness’ I have not experienced in other Roses made from lighter grapes. I was too busy pouring wine to taste it with the suggested pairing of a Great Hill Blue Cheese and Fresh Plum Tart. Others said the tart mellowed the wine.

As the weather threatened to rain on our beautiful patio setting, we moved onto the 2008 Corte Reservado Malbec & Syrah. This is still a La Linda wine, but a ‘Reservado’, a nice blend of Malbec, Syrah and a little Merlot. I really liked this wine. I would always go for a Syrah over a Malbec and this blend hit me just right. It was an excellent choice to pair with the Snake River waygu Flank Steak with Grilled Summer Vegetables.

We literally raced the rain to pour everyone a glass of the last wine, the 2008 Luigi Bosca Cabernet Sauvignon. We finished the tasting inside, as the attendees enjoyed this last wine with a well matched Belgium Chocolate and Raspberry Flan.

Even a downpour could not dampen this wonderful night of Argentina wines. I think I found a couple the guests at our Sandwich Inn would enjoy. My work is never done, but then I am not complaining, since I enjoy the work so much.

Happy Wine-ing,

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod Massachusetts

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cape Cod Anniversary Wine Tasting

If you stay at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast you’ll learn that we like our wine. I love to share wine with our guest and friends and, often over wine, guest become friends. I spend a lot of time tasting wines to offer to our guest, and in this role I frequent the Wednesday tastings at the Belfry Bistro.

On a recent Wednesday, Wendy from Trio Wines introduced us to what she considered to be reasonably priced, easy to drink summer wines. We started with a light white, the 2010 Octave Vinho Verde from Portugal. I love heavy ruby ports from Portugal and have never had a Portuguese white wine that I fondly remember. This white does not change that observation. Next, we went to a 2009 X Winery White, North Coast, an interesting blend of mainly Sauvignon Blanc with touches of Albarino, Muscat, and Chardonnay. I felt the Muscat imparted a sweetness that was not for me. I learn something at every wine tasting. Tonight I was introduced to two new grapes, the Vinho Verde and the Albarino, and I learned they are not at the top of my wish list.

For red wines, Wendy suggested two very different wines from Argentina. The first was the 2009 2 Copas Red Blend, a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Malbec, from Mendoza. Mendoza is famous for its great Malbec and you can taste the positive impact in this very drinkable and reasonably priced ‘deck’ wine.

We closed with the 2006 Andeluna Reserve Celebracion, a smooth blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. This wine was pared with a delightful Hanger Steak Brochette with Cous Cous, my favorite paring of the night. They truly did save the best for last with this selection.

After the formal tasting, several of our wine loving friends joined Jan and me in a toast to our 38th wedding anniversary. We shared a great Robert Stemmler Pinot Noir from the Belfry Innkeeper’s special wine list. This 2008 Estate Grown Carneros Pinot Noir may now be my new favorite Pinot, and you all know how I love my Pinot Noir.

Although the formal tasting did not yield any new stars for me to share with future guest at our Sandwich inn, it was still a great evening. I was introduced to several new varietals, some interesting blends and learned more about what I personally prefer. I enjoyed the learning experience. But the true highlight of the night was sharing wine with good friends as we celebrated another great year together. We are truly blessed.
Happy wine-ing,

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod Massachusetts