Wine Weekend Plus Nifty Garlic Bread

Wine Weekend Plus Nifty Garlic Bread

In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10.

So, last weekend, while the hubby was away auditioning for the Utah Shakespeare Festival and one Young Man was off to spend the night prior to a day of LARPing and the other furiously writing for his critique group, I decided to try some wines I hadn’t tried yet. Three days, three bottles. What could possibly go wrong?

Friday, I started with Jargon Pinot Noir 2009, St. Helena, California Alcohol 13.5% by volume $8.99 at Vons

On the Label: “We can go on and on and tell you about our Terroir (it’s incredible) and about the quality of our PINOT NOIR fruit (it’s awesome), but we won’t. We let our Pinot Noir speak for itself. So cut through all the complicated wine speak and enjoy…JUST GOOD WINE.”

My Take: It has a fun label. It has a screw top. It’s a Pinot Noir. What’s not to like? There’s a lovely feel to this wine in my mouth – it’s got some cherry in it, some of the pepper I like, it’s not meek but it’s not a big, huge, bold wine either (because, you know, Pinot just isn’t that way). It’s a great kick-off-your-shoes, hi-honey-I’m-home, and TGIF wine. I had to really pace myself and only drink two glasses of it on Friday night. Not sure what I made to go with it … I do remember that I ate alone, which gave me visions of an empty nest. Interesting…

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~

Now, on to Saturday.

Cline Zinfandel 2010 California   Alcohol 14% by volume  $9.99 at Vons on Sale

On the Label: “CLINE Family owned and operated since 1982.  From meticulous farming to master winemaking, we still do it all the old fashioned way and it shows. Bright, jammy cherry, dark berry fruit and spice with a touch of warm vanilla define this complex yet approachable Cline Zin. Supple tannins and a smooth finish lend structure and ageability. Try with grilled steak, chili con carne or spaghetti and red sauce.”

My Take: I was perfectly prepared to love this wine, so imagine my surprise when, serving it with garlic chicken, it left me…wanting. I didn’t taste the bright cherry or the spice…I tasted minerals.  Heavy minerals that left a heavy taste in my mouth. Maybe it was the high alcohol content?

I duly drank my first glass, and then switched back to the Jargon from the night before. Ahhhh….much better. Also better was the company at dinner – I wasn’t completely alone. However, when the boys and I eat sans their papa, we tend to read at dinner…all three of us reading a different, yet very thick novel of some sort or another. I always shed a tiny tear of pride at those meals…

My Take ~ Drinkable, if you like the minerally taste. ~ I don’t know. Maybe it needs more time – it WAS a 2010. But if it needs more time, why is it on the shelves now? I can only roll my eyes…

Which brings me to Sunday…

Concannon Central Coast Pinot Noir  Established 1883 in the Livermore Valley   Alcohol 13.5% by volume   $9.99 at Vons.

On the Label: “Roots. Rocks. Intrigue. Since 1883, Concannon Vineyard has been handcrafting fine varietal wines from grapes grown along the Central Coast of California, a diverse region that stretches north from Santa Barbara to the San Francisco Bay. We carefully select the most ideal vineyards for growing each varietal and craft this expressive fruit into superb wines.

Our medium-bodied Pinot Noir is bursting with aromas of violet, cherry, earth and spice with an elegant and supple finish. Enjoy our Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir with dishes like herb-crusted lamb chops or plank-grilled salmon.”

My Take: Prior to starting dinner, I didn’t really want to open this bottle so I had a small glass of the Cline Zinfandel. And as soon as I was done with that, I opened the Concannon with a sigh of relief.

It smells lovely in the glass.  It bursts on the tongue with bright flavors and a mellowness that allows you to relax – this is not a demanding wine, but rather a pleasure wine, asking only that you enjoy it. I’m thinking now that maybe all Pinot Noirs are of this variety – undemanding of the consumer. But I digress…

Again, a reading dinner, this time with a fall veggie mix and whole-wheat pasta with fresh parmesan on top and – of course – garlic bread, made the Sicilian way. Which is…toast a baguette sliced in half until well toasted, then rub a large clove of garlic into the toasted side. The garlic kind of melts into the bread. Top it off with a sprinkling of olive oil (and pepper if you desire, which I do!), and you’ve got a feast fit for a king, even if you’re just serving the garlic bread and the wine. And the wine? Mmmmm.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ But of these three, the Jargon is my hands-down favorite.

So, I survived my weekend alone. And on Monday, the hubby very kindly finished up all my open bottles – even the Cline. After all, he’d been in Mormon Country for the past three days.

Now…Tomorrow, the lovely New Day Job is letting me off half a day early to drive up to Paso Robles for Wine Release Weekend. Three girls on the open road, ready to taste wine. I promise I’ll bring my notepad…

~   ~   ~

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and whether there’s a full moon or not. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

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