This is a running list of my favorite posts.
Waving the Bear Flag on the first day of summer
June 21, 2011
The first day of summer warrants a crisp, fresh white wine. From the girl who prefers reds, it takes a really hot day to make me crave a fruity white. Enter Bear Flag Bright White Wine Blend. I made salsa chicken, which is basically salsa (homemade and home-canned, in this case!) poured over chicken breasts and baked until done, Mexican-style Rice-a-Roni and green salad. I needed a spry, crisp white, nothing woody or heavy to complement the spice in this dish.
The Bright White is a dry blend of chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc and gewurztraminer. I like each of those on their own, so blended together they make a dynamite combo of mellow fruit — pear and melon, perhaps — with a hint of fizz. There are no oaky or vanilla-y flavors here, and no detectable sugar. The fruit is naturally sweet but not syrupy.
A friend recently turned me on to adding a splash of San Pellegrino to white wine, and this is a perfect wine for that. I wouldn’t adulterate it with 7-Up, c’mon, I’m not a barbarian! But a splash of Pellegrino plays up the natural fizz of the wine without diluting the crispy flavor.
This wine would also be an excellent complement to a citrus-marinaded fish or a light lemon-tinged chicken alfredo. I found the Bright White on sale at Trader Joe’s for around $8, a steal for a weeknight meal! Pair it with an easy zesty dish like I made tonight and enjoy! (If you enjoy this wine, check out the rest of Bear Flag’s Modesto, Calif., wines – very approachable table wines that can be respectably served any night of the week.)
By the way, spend some time studying the wine-label art by Eduardo Bertone, an artist with a distinctive style of refined mania. His illustrations are almost graffiti-like, but that is an injustice to his art. Check out his website and come to your own conclusion of what he represents.
Clif Climber Red… We Meet At Last
April 1, 2010
Have you ever had one of those awkward near-meetings that never seems to actually happen? A friend tells you about the most wonderful man you just have to meet — you have so much in common! — and you chat or e-mail about getting together for coffee. The big day comes and you look forward to meeting the mystery man who is apparently your perfect match. You even shave your legs.
Then he calls, desperately apologizing that he has to fly off to Chicago for a meeting, and please don’t hate him, but he has to reschedule. You’re disappointed but understanding that these things happen. The date is reset for next week, and that morning you wake up with a fever, hacking cough and bloodshot eyes. Noooo!!! You can’t possibly dazzle him with your wit and beauty from your deathbed! Reschedule again. He’s understanding too, but now it’s starting to get awkward.
You plan to meet this weekend. You both know you can’t cancel, and you’re hyper-sensitive to anything that could get in your way. Is that a tickle in your throat? Don’t order anything for lunch that might upset your stomach later! If your mom calls begging you to dog-sit again, you will absolutely go through the roof! Miraculously though, no obstacles leap into your path, and the big date approaches.
The moment of truth is here. He will walk through the door, and you’ll find out if all this build-up was worth it. Was your friend right? Are you perfect together, or will you end up wishing you’d spent the evening with your mom’s dog after all?
That’s been my relationship with Clif lately. The winery owners sent me copious information on their wines and farm, and I have decided that this is, indeed, the perfect match for me. They sent me two bottles of wine — the Climber white and red — and the white was a wonderful introduction to the family, like meeting the younger brother of your long-awaited date. But I still haven’t met my match. After several broken dates, it seems that every force of nature (and believe me, sick kids ARE a force to be feared!) is working against us.
But tonight’s our night, dear Clif. The laundry is folded and put away. The dishes are washed. The kids are in bed and the husband isn’t watching. Shhhh, it’s just you and me tonight. The awkward moment has arrived when we find out if our expectations were too great. Will this bold red rock my world, or will it fall flat? The time has come to find out.
Mr. Good Lookin’ makes a nice first impression. That red label, simple yet distinctive logo, you dressed up for me didn’t you? Let’s pop that cork and see what you’re all about.
Clif smells like a mix of coffee and cigars. Hmmm, a professor, perhaps? Berries make a strong appearance in the supporting role and keep it fresh and lively. I do believe this is wine is more complex than meets the eye… or nose.
The first taste is true to the smell — coffee, cigars and dark berries. But what’s that? Licorice? And did you bring me chocolate too? This first-meeting is off to a great start! We watch a little TV together, get to know each other, and it turns out Clif is just my cup of tea, so to speak. It was worth the wait.
Clif may be a little out of my league — professors usually are — but that doesn’t have stop us. At $17 a bottle, it’s more than my budget for an everyday wine, but this was a special occasion. This was no $10 date. I brought out the nice wine glasses, I dimmed the lights. I even shaved my legs.
January 8, 2012
A good friend invited me over to try a new wine today. Enter Double Bond. She poured a glass of what I expected to be just another good red wine. I was wrong. This was a great red wine!
The 2009 Pinot Noir is fantastic. It’s so smooth, light silk rather than heavy velvet. I asked her what it sells for and she said “$45 or so.” And I have no doubt that it does. It tastes like $45. It’s no wonder I fell in love at first sip.
It’s a dark cherry color, not watery as so many pinot noirs can be. The aroma is a blend of fruit, clove and vanilla. Lest you be fooled into thinking this smooth drink is weak, let me argue that it’s complex in its simplicity. This is the Harry Connick Jr. of red wines – disarmingly charming, full of finesse, yet obviously deeper and more complex than just a pretty face (and a voice like butter). You could drink the entire bottle without giving it a second thought, or you could spend an entire night studying its nuances and tones.
The winery sources its grapes from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo in California. The whole Central Coast region is known to produce excellent pinot noir, thanks to the cool nights.
Double Bond gets its name from chemistry – the state of molecules forming two bonds rather than one, creating a stronger, more complex bond. The winery and winemaker pride themselves on marrying biology and art, creating the best wine based on both the science of vinification and the non-science of good taste. Quoting the website: “Science and art; both are required to make fine wines and they define our connection to the craft.”
While this wine is certainly out of my usual $10 budget, I thought it worthwhile to mention because it is a reliable pick for a special occasion (unless $45 is your everyday price point, in which case, bottoms up!). And let’s be honest, since “Sideways,” every Central Coast pinot noir purports to be The Best. But this is one I’ve tasted and can say it truly is a fantastic wine.