Archive for June, 2010

Fondly named after my hometown, a mixer I consistently enjoy in the summer.  Substitute sweeteners depending on your preference.


[to make the tea]

Boil 4 cups of water with 3/4 cup sugar, add 2-3 Tablespoons fresh Ginger. Bring to a boil, make sure all the sugar dissolves. When it has, take off the heat, steep 4 bags of Tazo Passion Tea [or substitute any other hibiscus flavored tea].  Cover and let sit for 15 min.  Strain through a sieve to remove the ginger and tea bags.  Then add a squeeze of lemon juice and refrigerate.

[to make the drink]

Ice a lowball.  Add a 1 to 2 ounce slug of your favorite Gin [Beefeater for me], top off with the cold tea.  Squeeze and drop in a lemon wheel.

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A few items I came across this week:

QOTD: What wine will pair best with Team USA beating Ghana on Saturday?  Have a great weekend!

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I attended the Midwest Home Magazine Wine+Dine By Design tasting on June 23rd in the Valcucine space at International Market Square.  It was originally supposed to be held in the Bespoke showroom, however it had to be switched due to the last-minute arrival of some ill-fitting countertops for their display floor.  Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl was in attendance and food was provided by Mike DeCamp, chef de cuisine at La Belle Vie.  A good crowd of about 200 showed up to sample four selections from the Z Wines catalog of South African wines.  I stopped by Z Wines’ stand at the MN monthly Food & Wine Expo in February, but only recall tasting the Our Daily Red.  All four showed very nicely that evening.

I have to award Best of Tasting to the 2008 Tygerberg Sauvignon Blanc [not sure on the price, all of these are available at Haskell’s & France 44].  I recently tasted its companion Gewürztraminer and wasn’t super impressed.  The Sauv Blanc, though, had a very funky/citrus nose and a body that grips your tongue with eucalyptus and a lengthy lip-smacking acidic finish.  Any Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc fans out there would be right at home with it.  Also poured were the 2008 Bush Camp Our Daily Red [the runner up, a dusty berry nose with a smooth and silky jammy-red-fruit body], the 2005 Overgaauw Cabernet Sauvignon [funky/barnyard flavor profile, black olives predominate], and the 2008 Bristle Dry Cabernet Sauvignon Rose [a very nice Rose with crisp Strawberry flavors and a clean, lingering finish].  Overall, a little crowded [due to the last minute venue-shuffling] but not a bad way to kill a couple hours on a weekday.

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[The Expo List, Part 2 of 7] As I laid out in Part 1 of this series, I’m on a mission to track down the seven wines from the Minnesota Monthly Food & Wine Experience in February that I had noted in my wine journal as being ‘standout’ wines.  I do not remember the criteria for what a ‘standout’ was [I’m especially confused about the inclusion of the Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc]. I really don’t remember a whole lot specifically about these wines apart from the dozens I tasted.  Although I probably remember today’s wine the best of the seven because I tasted it in a seminar during the middle of the day lead by Vittorio Navacchia, co-owner of Tre Monti.  The 2008 Tre Monti Vigna Rocca Albana [$13.99 at Excelsior Vintage] stood out from his offerings that afternoon, and upon re-tasting, this certainly deserved the ‘standout’ designation.

Albana is a local specialty of the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy.  There are written records of Albana growing in Romagna since the 13th century, though folklore has the grape being spread by the conquering Roman legions.  Either way, Albana has had a few centuries to get cozy with the Romagna terroir, but many wine experts malign the grape.  It’s genetically related to the (somewhat) uninspiring grape Garganega, and the dry (Secco) version of Albana can often be dismissed as simple, chalky and flat.  The 2008 Tre Monti is none of those.  It’s a deep almost-orange gold color with ripe fruit smells. The sip begins with soft peachy fruit then slowly deepens and widens to a mildly alcoholic and slightly sour orange finish.  It shows its 14.5% but it’s not overwhelming, if a bit in the forefront at the end.  It’s a bulky wine, not for the faint of heart.  The Chardonnay/Viognier crowd will dig this.

It’s been getting pretty hot in the City of Lakes lately, and my stash is mostly comprised of reds right now.  I’ll be rectifying that, so get ready for a Vinho Verde taste-off, tips on the best cheap domestic Sauvignon Blanc, as well as pictures from some wine happenings around the Twin Cities.

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The Grape that can with Logic absolute
The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute:
The subtle Alchemist that in a Trice
Life’s leaden Metal into Gold transmute.

-Omar Khayyam

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Things of note I came across this week:

  • Obama to China: Buy more American wine [via Cork’d]
  • Summit using Candi Sugar for their fourth release in the Unchained Series [via Summit Beer Blog]
  • Video of the Week: How to open a bottle of wine with a shoe [via Wimp.com]
  • A fascinating, in-depth look a case of high-profile wine fraud [What’s In The Bottle, via Slate]. Robert Parker, along with Bill Koch and Hardy Rodenstock [of the Billionaire’s Vinegar litigation] all make appearances.  I wish I could unearth mags of ’21 Petrus so easily.

Have a good weekend everyone!

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Continuing my ‘I’ve Got Rieslings In Weird Places’ theme I started last week with one from Ontario, how about one from Idaho?  At my good friend R. LaParola’s cabin last weekend, we had brought up a few bottles and dug into his aunt’s storage space which included more than a few wines older than I am.  We selected a few to try, and nearly all of them were past their prime, including a 1971 Chateau La Noe Muscadet that had turned bronze and tasted like a bowl of pennies soaked in white vinegar.  One of his recently purchased bottles was the 2007 Ste. Chapelle Special Harvest Riesling [$7.99 (i think) at Cellars in Plymouth] from the Snake River Valley in Idaho.  What do I know about the Idaho wine industry?  Nothing.  So, let’s taste, shall we?  This wine had a brilliant lemon-gold color and a pleasing sweet honey nose.  The body, though, was a bit of a let down for me.  The tropical fruit flavors were fine, but the acidity was very much lacking.  I always like to think of acidity in wine like the skeletal system in the body [in reds, tannin is the muscular system].  This wine had no backbone to stand up with, which made the sweetness seem cloying and the wine overall just kind of flabby and disjointed.  It was a little heavier bodied than I like Riesling; I found the finish oddly bitter as well.

Alright, enough of this madness!  Let’s get a good grip on Riesling by going back to basics – a standard Kabinett Riesling from a well-respected producer, from a great region, from the best Riesling growing country.  The 2007 Schloss Schonborn Hattenheimer Riesling Kabinett [$11.99 at Zipp’s] is about as easily enjoyable as wines comes.  [***German terminology alert*** Hattenheimer means the grapes are sourced from the vineyards around the town of Hattenheim in the middle of the Rheingau region.  The region is known to produce a fruitier-tasting Riesling as opposed to the more slate/mineral driven flavors of the Mosel region.  Kabinett is the first in a series of terms Germans use to denote how ripe the grapes were at the time of harvest.  Kabinett grapes are picked first, at a lower sugar content, producing the (usually) least-sweet expression of the grape (though certainly not dry).  Kabinetts will also cost less than their Spatlese and Auslese brethren (the latter is usually considered a dessert wine)].

Sorry about that – hate to get bogged down in the technicalities.  This wine sports a pale white gold color with ever-so-slight fizz, and a nose that I’m sure would smell nice right now if I didn’t have a cold.  The beginning of the sip [what we wine dorks like to call ‘the attack’] prickles your tongue with acidity, but then mellows out to leave you with a ripe yellow pear/lime zest body with well incorporated sweetness, and a finish that tends towards minerals.  Whoa, this is seriously delicious.  If you want a good idea of the benchmark flavor of this terrific grape, ask any reputable wine seller for a $10-15 German Kabinett or Spatlese Riesling from a producer like Schloss Schonborn, JJ Prum, Dr. Loosen, Selbach-Oster or something comparable.  I call Riesling the Gateway Wine – it’s so easy to enjoy, you’ll be hooked for life after a few.  And after you’re comfortable with German Riesling, you can explore Rieslings from all over the world [I’ve had a few from the central CA coast that have blown my mind recently] because the wonderful thing about this grape is it takes on a unique flavor wherever it’s planted.  Apparently except Idaho.

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