2009 Climber Red

I saved my 2009 Clif Climber Red and Climber Sauvignon Blanc for Thanksgiving to go with my quasi-sustainable meal. I won’t repeat all my reasons for why the Climbers were a great fit for the meal, all the reasons like how the winery sources its grapes from local, organic growers, and how the winery is activly reducing its carbon footprint. You can read all about that on the Clif website, but now let’s get to the to fun part — tasting the wine!

I know that white wines go best with turkey, but I’m such a sucker for reds. So I gave hearty thanks for the folks at Clif Winery, and I twisted open the Climber Red. The aroma is fruity and slightly peppery. The blend is primarily zinfandel, then cabernet, rounded out with syrah, merlot and petite sirah. The flavor is a nice, round berry — not jammy or sweet, but perfectly tart, fresh and mild — with a smoky finish. The smoke isn’t quite as prominent as in the 2008 blend; rather than making a strong statement, it is now a barely-there nuance in a very complex wine.

Clif hasn’t let me down yet, so I will surely continue to seek their every release with excitement. At $14.99, it’s a wine I’ll proudly serve to guests — guests who know their wine and guests who just want something that tastes good. It’s a sure-bet wine, and this busy mom can’t afford to waste time on anything less.

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Thanksgiving

The turkey and blueberry cobbler, ready to go. Everything else is still in the oven.

My quasi-sustainable Thanksgiving was more quasi than sustainable, but a fun attempt at buying local and/or organic. The veggies were all organic, and the turkey all-natural, hormone-free. The pumpkin pie was made from homegrown pumpkin (from my grandparents’ garden), and the blueberry cobbler was made from blueberries we picked at a family farm in Oregon and then froze.

Several family members asked what “quasi-sustainable” means, and I have to admit, I use the term “sustainable” very loosely. Actually, I use it pretty inaccurately, but it sums up an overall attempt at being sustainable. For me, that attempt is basically to buy local when possible, buy organic when possible, and use our own garden goods when possible. For Thanksgiving, I was thrilled to use herbs from my own garden and to easily find organic produce at a minimal increase in cost.

I’m not a health freak or crunchy organic goddess. I just like to balance convenience and health. I try to use whole wheat flour and pasta when it’s a comparable price to white versions. I try to support local farmers by buying produce at farmers’ markets. But I also have to keep my budget and time in mind. So it’s a balancing act, as most mom-duties are. I’ll tell all about the wine in the next post. Stay tuned…

Almost-organic Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I’m staying home and cooking dinner just for my husband and kids. No relatives, no friends… more leftovers!

I’m trying to keep it organic and/or local, but bearing in mind that I have limited time and limited budget. As much as I would have loved to sign up for a fresh, free-range turkey from the local co-op, a $50 bird just isn’t in my financial forecast.

Raley’s has natural, fresh, no-additives turkeys for $.89/pound, so I picked a 14-pounder for under $15. Tomorrow I will go to the co-op to stock up on all the veggies and other ingredients for the rest of the meal: potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, onions, celery, eggs, butter and bread, as well as dry and canned goods.

As much as I love the idea of being totally organic, free-range, sustainable, etc., it’s not realistic for a busy working mom on a budget in a small town, or not for this busy, working mom at least. But I think everyone can do their part, so this Thanksgiving meal is my way of doing my part.

Oh, and the wine! I’ll be pouring Clif 2009 The Climber Red and The Climber Sauvignon Blanc. Clif has earned my respect for doing its part too. Producing entirely organic wines isn’t realistic for the family-run winery yet, but the farm (they raise chickens, olives, fruits and veggies too!) became CCOF certifed organic in 2009. The grapes are sourced locally and from sustainable vineyards — 30 percent of the grapes are from CCOF certified farms — and the farm and winery have a carbon-offset program to put their money where their mouth is. They don’t just admire organic and sustainable farming, but they actively strive to achieve it.

It’s appropriate, then, for me to pour Clif wines as part of my semi-organic/sustainable dinner. I know my efforts are meager, but it’s a manageable start for me. And we all have to start somewhere.

(I’ve tasted and reviewed the Clif 2008 Climber White in March and the Climber Red in April. I already know I like the wine, I can’t wait to try the 2009!)

Hannah Nicole in my glass and on my plate

Ahhh, there are few things better in life than a husband who makes a killer dinner while I entertain the kids. I sipped a Hannah Nicole 2007 Le Melange Blanc (a mix of varietals) and played “Olympic ice skater” with my 3-year-old while my husband played in the kitchen. If you’ve never heard of this game, don’t worry, we made it up. My daughter holds onto my hand and jumps and prances around the living room like a figure skater, or runs back and forth across the living room yelling “speed skate!” She was quite pleased to win the gold in both disciplines.

Anyway, I saw my husband usurp my wine and toss a splash of the Hannah Nicole into his mystery dish on the stove, and I almost protested, but it smelled so damn good, I couldn’t interrupt his genius. Turns out he made a chicken alfredo, adding white wine and cream cheese to the bottled alfredo sauce. He sauteed red peppers, onion and garlic and added that for garnish. I love that he can cook! (I’m a pretty good cook myself, but I’m just good at following a recipe, he INVENTS dishes!)

The Hannah Nicole added a wonderful depth to the alfredo sauce, although I am philosophically opposed to using good wine in cooking. Wine is meant to be drunk (drinken? Where’s Grammar Girl when I need her?) and should only be used in food when it’s either that or pour it down the drain.

So I regained possession of the bottle and enjoyed as it was meant to be enjoyed — out of a glass!

It has a crisp, fruity taste but isn’t too watery and light. Almost a melon tinge, but not heavy (I hate melon, so I’m particularly sensitive to it in wines) — more pear and apple than melon. And it has just a hint of a buttery finish without being weighed down.

I found this selection at Ben’s Fine Wine & Liquor, which I believe is local to northern Nevada, for $8.99. A great value wine! This will become a regular on my wine rack this summer, and probably in my husband’s recipes.