Wow – after cover reveals and guests this week, I’m finally back with some tasty wines. Spring is here, and the weather is warming up where I live. It must be time for some Chardonnay! Today I’ve got three, and they’re all from California…and they were all on sale.
Edna Valley Vineyard 2009 Chardonnay Paragon ~ San Luis Obispo County Alcohol 13.9% by Volume. Regularly $13.98; on sale at Vons for $9.97
On the Label: “Our vineyards enjoy one of California’s longest and coolest growing seasons, thanks to sea breezes funneled inland through Edna Valley. Our Chardonnay has amazing flavors of lush white peach and sweet spice with a crisp, clean finish. You will love our Chardonnay with fresh seafood, grilled chicken or roasted pork.”
My Take: Edna Valley wines can be in the upper teens, so when I saw this one for under $10 I grabbed it. It was actually a chilly day and I wasn’t in the mood to cook; luckily Ocean Fresh, our local seafood monger, had sent me an ad for freshly made clam chowder and crab cakes ready to pop into a pan or the oven. (The food was divine!) This Chardonnay stood up well to both the creaminess of the chowder and the spice of the crab cakes. It was not a big, oaky Chardonnay, but it had the clean finish of a Pinot Grigio as well as the lush fruit, and it handled the seafood brilliantly.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ I shall have to check out more of Edna Valley’s wines.
Simi 2010 Sonoma County Chardonnay Alcohol 13.5% by volume; regularly $17.49, on sale for $12.59 at Vons
On the Label: “Simi Chardonnay reflects the diversity of flavors found throughout Sonoma County. The area to the west gives pear and a luscious mouthfeel. The southern region brings citrus and crisp acidity, and vineyards in the north add tropical notes. These combine into complex fruit aromas, a creamy and toasty round mouthfeel with a brilliant balance that makes this Chardonnay delicious with cream-sauced chicken, salmon and mild cheeses.”
My Take: This was a lovely Chardonnay. It had that creaminess that I like, but it wasn’t over-oaked – in fact, oak was almost impossible to detect. I really enjoyed this wine, which we had with our “I doan wanna cook” meal of a rotisserie chicken from Costco and smashed potatoes. Add some fresh green beans to that, and you’ve got a delicious meal. Anyway – the wine went beautifully.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ But a bit on the pricey side.
Geyser Peak Winery 2009 Chardonnay Alexander Valley Alcohol 13.5% by Volume $11.12 regular price (HA!) at Vons, on sale for $7.78
On the Label: “At our winery in the heart of the famed Alexander Valley, our winemakers are impassioned to create wines that engage the senses and inspire the soul. To ensure the bottle you open delivers all the delicate aromatics captured here at the winery, we seal our Chardonnay with a screwcap closure.
Taste profile: Ripe pear and tropical fruit flavors with a hint of vanillin oak. Creamy and elegant with a crisp finish.
Enjoy with: Light pastas, roast chicken and light veal dishes.”
My Take: I really enjoyed this wine, but a part of that could be that I am partial to Geyser Peak. We visited the winery back in the late 1980s, on our first-ever wine tour, and had a blast, so the wine is suffused with rosy memories. I will say, though, I’ve never been disappointed in a Geyser Peak wine. This one has that hint of oak that I so adore.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~
So there you have it, three Very Drinkable California Chardonnays. Go forth, and stock up for the ever-changeable weather to come!
As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and whether the cat has tried to kill me that day. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
BLOOD DREAMS, a Caine Brothers Short Story, will be out June 1st. DEMON SOUL is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Have you read it yet? Catch up, because soon DEMON HUNT will be out (summer 2012)!
Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!
Isn’t it beautiful? This is my Trevi Automatica by Spidem – a fully-automatic espresso machine that will also froth milk, give you hot water instantly for tea or hot chocolate, heck – it does everything except the dishes.
The Hubby and I went to Rome, Italy in February/March of 2004, and we fell in love with the espresso that we gulped down every morning (a perk that came with our tiny hotel room in Trastavere). We also fell in love with the city – its people, churches, winding streets, historical ruins, fountains, open squares and always, always amazing coffee to be found. (Not to mention the amazing food and wine!)
When we came home, we realized we’d settled for boring coffee for far too long. After intense online research and debate, we sent off for the Trevi Automatica by Spidem – all the way from Italy. It did everything – all we had to do was empty grinds, remember to feed it coffee beans and water, and clean it regularly.
This coming May, we’ll have had that wonderful, fabulous machine for eight years. Its showing age – the noise as it grinds beans may be higher-pitched than it used to be. The buttons may stick, now and then. Hubby has been diligent in taking the whole thing apart, cleaning it, and putting it back together; we both have neglected to toss the overflowing grounds bin at times (which causes problems). We will hang onto this amazing machine until it coughs its last; but then what?
I’ve never had a coffee maker last this long. I’ve never had a coffee maker that I’m SO attached to. You couldn’t pay me to go back to a 6-8-10 cup coffee maker. (The coffee at work is enough of a strain on my system!) And that one-cup machine, where you get the coffee pre-packaged (ground, or sludge, or whatever) and in whatever type you’d like (Dunkin Donuts, French Roast, hot chocolate, Chai) may be just fine on the set of a movie, but so not my style. There would always be that bunch of packets no one in the house would drink – and that translates to wasted money.
So what now?
I did some research – the Trevi Automatica is no longer imported. I guess the Italians decided to keep that yumminess to themselves and I don’t blame them. However…look what I found!!!
It’s called the Vienna Plus, by Saeco. It looks like the Trevi Automatica. It holds water and grinds beans and steams milk. All the buttons and gadgets are in the same place as for the Trevi – basically, it is the perfect copy of the Trevi . To my total shock, it costs about the same – maybe even less, since we’re not shipping it from Italy. How could we go wrong?
So, when the Trevi is ready for that machinery-bits-and-parts bin in the sky, we’ll know where to go to get our new coffee maker.
Fresh coffee, from fresh beans and water, brewed just for me. Okay, and for the Hubby. Life is good!
~ Have you read DEMON SOUL yet? If you have, drop me a line and let me know what you thought! ~
While I was at Cypher a couple of weekends ago, the sexy ex-computer-geek-turned-tasting-room-guru T, let me in on the secret of Primitivo. Primitivo is a grape identical to Zinfandel and grown mostly in Italy, Argentina, and Chile.
Bells went off in my head. No WONDER I was drawn to Primitivo! I’d found it at Fresh & Easy, for $5.99 a bottle, and couldn’t understand how I could so love that wine. But it was hiding its true colors; and now that I know it’s a Zinfandel by another name, I’m SO on board. (Of course, the last time I went to Fresh & Easy, they didn’t have Primitivo any longer. Sigh.)
Tuesday night at Casa Ashworth, the Santa Ana winds blew. Hard. They blew hard enough to force our double front doors open wide; they blew hard enough to take lots of white picket fencing off my front fence, leaving an already-worn fence looking like an old woman’s mouth with teeth missing. The winds blew so hard, that it toppled – and split – a 30+ year old tree, narrowly missing landing on the corner of my bedroom. The power went out. I was late to work, disoriented by the winds I could hear in my sleep, and grumpy from lack of coffee.
Landscape with Windblown Trees, by Vincent Van Gogh
That afternoon, with the power still out, I found true parafin lamp oil (the other stuff is crap, don’t buy it unless it says PARAFIN lamp oil) and some new wicks for our many oil lamps. My boss, sensing my uneasiness, let me go while it was still light out, so the hubby and I could get our act together before darkness descended.
Yes, we have battery lanterns. But which would you rather gather around – the mellow yellow light of an oil lamp, or the harsh, blue light of a flourescent camping light? Yeah, us too.
By the time darkness descended, I was happily puttering about in the kitchen with three lamps burning so I could see what I was chopping, what was going into the pot on the stove, and what I needed out of the fridge. (Thank goodness for gas stoves!) I made soup from leftover veggies in the fridge, plus the rest of a Costco chicken. For those who want to know, I sipped on the last of a bottle of La Gioiosia Pinot Grigio ($7.99 a bottle at Fresh & Easy, tiny bubbles but it’s NOT a prosecco), and we opened a bottle of Rose from Adelaida to go with the soup – and that was yummy!
But there was the sense of primitivo about our night. Every room I went into, I flipped on the light – only to remember, too late. We made sure we had flashlights with fresh batteries easily available (our family’s prediliction lately is for headlamps – keeps your hands free), we charged our phones in our cars as we drove during the day, and used them as our morning alarms. It was nice, if slightly surreal. It wasn’t cold and we had water and gas; we weren’t that disabled by lack of electricity (except the hubby and the youngest didn’t get their NaNo words in, and grumped about it all night).
To revel in the winds and the darkness, at about ten I went outside. The winds had died to mere puffs of air; the stars were half-obscured by the bright quarter-moon. And the silence I’d been expecting?
Filled with the hum of generators. I much preferred my lamps.
Next week I promise I’ll get a wine blog together – this week, life’s been kinda crazy!
~ Cheers – and remember to Drink Responsibly! ~
Today is Meet Me Monday, so I need to tell you something you may not have otherwise known about me. It took me awhile to decide what to divulge – I have SO many secrets, you see – but I finally hit on one.
I’m an extremely vocal fan of sporting events. It can be any sporting event, professional or amateur; on TV or in person. I am the girl who will pick a team “just because” and then become VERY vocal during the game. If my side is falling apart and I’m watching on TV, then I go into a different room and refuse to watch the game because my heart can’t take it. I get WAAAY involved – Basketball, Soccer, lately Hockey – I jump up and down, scream at the refs, chew my team out – chew out the other team when they batter my guys – it quite entertains my hubby.
When my kids were in soccer, I had to learn to keep it clean and positive; but I regularly lost my voice cheering our team on.
Got a little known fact about you that you want to share? From all the comments today, I’ll be giving away a copy of DEMON SOUL!
Are you following along in the blog hop? Check out Rachel Firasek’s site for other blogs!
Mabon was September 21st; the Autumn Equinox is today. Since they celebrate the same thing, the balance of light and dark in the sky, it’s strange they aren’t celebrated on the same day, but there you go.
According to Scott Cunningham and his Wicca – A Guide for the Solitary Practicioner, Mabon is the completion of the Harvest begun at Lughnasadh, or Lammas. As he puts it – “Nature declines, draws back its bounty, readying for winter and its time of rest.”
One of three Harvest celebrations in Wicca, the name Mabon to delineate this neopagan festival of the autumn equinox was invented by Aiden Kelly in the 1970s as part of a religious study. Considered to be an American invention, few Briton pagans use it; but as more American Neopagan publications are sold in Britain, the term is gaining in popularity.
“Mabon is considered a time of the Mysteries. It is a time to honor Aging Deities and the Spirit World. Considered a time of balance, it is when we stop and relax and enjoy the fruits of our personal harvests, whether they be from toiling in our gardens, working at our jobs, raising our families, or just coping with the hussle-bussle of everyday life.” For more on Mabon and all Autumn celebrations around the world, drop by a fantastic website called Crystal Links.
But what does this have to do with wine? It’s also a time of winemaking, the first crush, the picking of the grapes. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate that?
So by the beautiful Lynne Marshall’s request last week, here are some under $10, juicy Old Vine Zinfandels that you can sink into to help you enjoy the changing of the seasons.
Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin Lodi Zinfandel, Vintage 2009 Alcohol 14.5% by volume – $9.99 at Vons and other fine establishments.
On the Label: “As the truck pulled up to the 80 year old Zinfandel vineyard, my first impression was, “wow, those vines sure have some gnarly heads!” Thus began my love affair with Old Vine Zinfandel. Lodi has some of the oldest vines in Caliofrnia. Unlike modern rows of trellised vines, these old Zinfandel vines were grown as free standing “head trained” vines. Today they resemble wild bushes with twisted old trunks and branches that spread out in all directions sprouting leaves like unruly umbrellas – truly “Gnarly Heads”.
“Our grapes are hand-selected from some of the oldest and most respected vineyards in Lodi. Older vines produce fewer grape clusters, but the small berries yield concentrated fruit flavors characteristic of great Old Vine Zinfandel. Rich, dark berry flavors from the small grape clusters are balanced with French and American oak, which creates layers of licorice, plum, pepper and vanilla. This luscious combination provides a lingering and spicy finish. This wine pairs well with barbecue, pizza, hearty pasta, chili and ribs.”
My Take: Wow, what a label. I enjoyed it, lol…and I don’t always, but this one had just enough information to intrigue me. As to the wine? My first impression was big – thick. Sweeter than I prefer (heads up to those of you who like sweet wines). Lots of dark fruit, with a nice balance of pepper, the first taste was good but the aftertaste even nicer. I quite enjoyed this wine, which means I’ll have to keep checking out Gnarly Head.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ But on the sweeter side. Not my absolute favorite, but a solid wine that didn’t disappoint.
Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel 2009 California 13.9% Alcohol by volume. $9.99; on sale fairly regularly for $5.99 at Vons – from the Sebastiani family
My Take: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m a fan of Smoking Loon. Quality wines at reasonable prices – what’s not to like? The Old Vine Zin tastes expensive. It’s big, bold, nicely fruity but with complexity – not a sweet wine at all. Give it some time to open up in your glass, and pair it with hearty, autumn dishes, and it’ll be a wine you will return to again and again. After all, there is much to be said for consistency.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~
AND ONE MORE…
Big House Cardinal Zin Beastly Old Vines 2010, California $9.99 at Vons
On the Label: “It’s the Cardinal Zin who consoles the straying souls of The Big House. Proud of these dark berries that evoke a sense of envy for their blackberry and peppery flavors, this Zin has been known to elicit lustful feelings and cause mere mortals to covet those long silky legs as they drip down the glass. To avoid the ire of your guests, this wine should be served with a gluttonous feast that includes sloth. Hallowed be thy zin.”
My Take: Love in a glass. I opened it, I poured it, and I fell in love. Big, peppery, warm and comforting, it was the perfect glass to drink with the ever-popular roasted chicken, and broccoli and cauliflower in a rich garlic Alfredo sauce. Plus, with a screw top, you don’t have to fuss too much before you actually get to the wine. It’s a fun wine to give, to serve, or to savor by yourself by the fire on a chilly night.
My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable! ~
~ ~ ~
As usual, this is just my honest opinion and will totally depend upon my mood, the weather, and how much sleep I’m getting. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Give yourself a present – buy it now, lol!