Log in

No account? Create an account
North Cellar Door [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Once Again, Wine is Good For You [Nov. 1st, 2006|11:10 am]
Researchers are investigating a compound in red wines which enhances health while consuming a high calorie diet and increases longevity. This sounds almost too good to be true.

link1 comment|post comment

Wine Tasting Bot [Jul. 29th, 2006|04:47 pm]
Well, we aleady have machines to watch TV for us, so why not a machine that tastes wine for us too?
linkpost comment

L' Ecole No. 41 Fries Vinyard Semillion 2003 [Apr. 28th, 2005|06:33 pm]
[mood |excellent wine]

I've been looking forward to journaling about this wine. It's my first chance to write here about a really, really yummy wine. At 20$ and change for the bottle, this charming drink won't cross my lips often. Which is not to say that the wine isn't worth the price. I just don't have that kind of money to spend on single bottles of wine as a habit.

In French whites, such as the Mouton Cadet I sampled last week, the Semillion grape is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc to balance the latter grape's vegital qualities. Semillion also stands on its own as a varietal quite well, and the L'Ecole is easily the most enjoyable example I've ever tasted.

L'Ecole No. 41 is another of the Washington wineries that I'm making an effort to get to know. Unlike the great majority of Washington grapes which come from the Columbia Valley, L'Ecole No. 41 uses fruit from a little farther east in the state, near their winemaking facility in Walla Walla. They make Semillion from three different appellations. At the local grocery store sommelier's suggestion, I chose the wine from the Fries Vineyard. I think I like my local sommelier.

I opened the wine chilled, but letting it warm up a few degrees in my glass brought out more of its playful character. The colour is a light straw yellow that presents very nicely in bright light, say a golden Seattle sunset enjoyed with a friend. The nose is pleasant but mild, giving hints of citrus, apple, and flowers. Like the opening tones of Beethoven's 6th, the bouquet is merely a prelude to the symphony of rich, warm flavours yet to be tasted.

From the first sip, a complex milieux of delightful tastes put a big smile on my face. The wine opens slightly tart, but quickly envelops the mouth with a toasty and vivid mix - a surprising and welcome taste of pear is at the heart of the wine, along with honey, nutmeg, flowers, grass, and cashew nuts. The balance is intricate and dynamic; the fruit, sugars, and light acidity play with one another on the tongue, as if they were in constant motion. Although the wine is brimming over with depth of flavour, the finish is clean and refreshing.

Most Semillions I've tried are more acidic and direct. This Semillion gives opulent pleasure like no other. It is the oenological equivalent of wrapping yourself in a fine silk sheet on a cool summer night to gaze at the starry sky. I served it with a Havarti cheese to go with the light but rich character of the wine.

The L' Ecole No. 41 is easily the best wine I've written about in this journal so far. There's so much complexity and depth to it, that it was really impossible to get to know it that well from just my portion of a shared bottle. Were it in my budget, I'd buy a case of the stuff. It's just plain delicious!

linkpost comment

Rothschild Mouton Cadet Blanc 2003 [Apr. 20th, 2005|10:03 pm]
[mood |drinkable]

Every once in a while you have to try something completely different. So, when a wine from the prestigious Bordeaux appellation becomes available for cheap, one can't pass up the opportunity. And in the case of the Mouton Cadet Blanc, the opportunity was quite unusual; a white wine from this area most associated with its magnificent red blends.

The Mouton Cadet was formulated to be an inexpensive and accessible table wine. It consists of 50% Semillion grapes, 40% Sauvignon Blanc, and 10% Muscadelle. The latter is probably added for a touch of sweetness. The addition of Sauvignon Blanc to Semillion is a common tradition.

The wine has a light golden, lemony colour with thick legs around the glass. The nose has some of the grassy characteristic of the Sauvignon Blanc grapes, but mostly creates the image of green apples.

At first, the flavour reflects the colour with a strong theme of lemon, or maybe even a good lemon tart. The introduction of the Muscadelle grapes might lead to a light secondary fermentation: the wine sports a pleasant spritziness. It drinks easily, leaving behind its best quality - a long, smooth finish tasting of rich apple pie and ripe pears.

The Mouton Cadet Blanc overall makes a good table wine, but the body is lacking in complexity and excitement. It leaves the impression of being the French wine that California's generic boxed white wine was modeled after, which is not something completely different at all.

link1 comment|post comment

NY Times: "The Hard Stuff Now Includes Wine" by Eric Asimov [Apr. 18th, 2005|03:14 pm]
An interesting story on the alcohol content of California wines in particular appeared in the New York Times last week. At risk of copyright violation, I wanted to preserve it here for later personal reference. The article highlights the biggest problem that I had with not enjoying the Chateau Ste. Michelle Cab I tried last week.

Read more...Collapse )
linkpost comment

Yellow Tail Cabernet-Merlot 2004 [Apr. 17th, 2005|07:36 pm]
[mood |fun]

Personally, [yellow tail] products have complications for me, but it's mostly okay now and I've never let my personal issues stand between me and this great value bulk wine.

Yellow Tail Shiraz has been a favorite for some time and will most certainly appear in this journal at some point sooner than later. I've enjoyed the Cab-Shiraz (Purpletail!) and will write about it too. Neither the YT Cab nor the Merlot are worth buying again, even at the California price of 4.99$, so I don't expect they will rate independent posts in this journal. I will, however, review the YT Chardonnay right here, right now: swill.

Last week, while replenishing my stock of Shiraz, I saw the (new to me) blue labeled bottle of the Cabernet-Merlot blend and decided to give it a try at the sale price of 5.99$, despite my less than great experience with [yellow tail] 's offerings in each of the varietals. I'm glad I did.

I'd describe this blend in a single word as - fun! It's certainly no big, aristocratic Cab, nor is it a peppery, deep Merlot. The blend seems to lack the character of its constituent grapes and become something entirely new, surprisingly light, and full of sugar and fruit.

The wine is a lovely purple colour, with a bright, almost lavender rim. The most striking quality of the nose is an overtone of fresh mint, mixed with berries. It opens sweet, the flavour of ripe sage replacing the scent of mint in the bouquet. The fruit at first dominates the wine, but then it develops a little more complexity with a bold taste of vanilla and spices leading the way. The finish is smooth.

This blend has very little tannin structure or astringent quality to it, it's almost all fruit, which might cause it to lose some points at a professional tasting, but it seemed well-balanced enough for me to enjoy -- and I generally prefer a drier wine than this.

I'm not sure this is a real foodie's wine, but I think it would go quite well with a traditional lamb dish. The mint aroma almost begs it. The sweetness the wine brings might also pair well with a spicier Asian offering, like a Vindaloo curry. I tried it with brie and with chocolate. It was nice with chocolate, but the experience with brie, while not bad, was not memorable either.

The [yellow tail] Cab-Merlot is a fun drinking, bulk wine. It is a great choice for parties, casual sipping, and even a light dinner at home. The price makes it attractive as an easy drinker too. If you drink with friends whose pallets run a little sweeter than yours, this wine might be a good offer in compromise.

linkpost comment

Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 [Apr. 15th, 2005|05:02 pm]
[mood |bad wine]

It's a pity that this wine crossed my table at the same time the idea for a wine blog crossed my mind. I would have liked to have started on a more positive note than this cab. At least I bought it on sale.

The wine comes from the Columbia River Valley region in South Eastern Washington. I've made it a goal to start becoming aquainted with the wines of Cascadia, so it's sale price at Trader Joe's made the wine attractive. That, and I like cabs.

My first warning was the legs which formed thick sheets on the side of my glass. A palish red brick tint coloured the rim of the otherwise deep red shade of the wine. It looked like the wine might be a little past its peak.

The nose was more promising, conjuring images of plum and spice cake, but the odor of alcohol drowned the more pleasant aspects of the bouquet.

The first taste confirmed my suspicions. The opening was bright, full of cherry and rose, but developed into tannic nightmare; a strong astringent quality dominated the wine. The taste of the fruit was hardly present at all. The finish was long and enjoyable, but the echoes of the high alcohol content took most of the pleasure out of it.

The label indicates a 13.8% alcohol content, which is already high, and being past peak the alcohol level has probably risen in the bottle. This was probably a wine that was made to be consumed young, and at five years old is now long in the tooth. I wouldn't let a bottle sit on my wine rack another month.

Odds are, I won't let another bottle sit on my wine rack at all.

linkpost comment

[ viewing | most recent entries ]