Every bottle has a story

I am not a wine expert, but with each bottle I try and share with friends, I learn more. Wine is an exceptional social drink; it is the marijuana of alcoholic beverages because it must be shared. I seek to share with you my thoughts and experiences as I drink the wine in my closet, as well as my enthusiasm for the finds that come my way and the excellent values that I find. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences too, so please share!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Alamos 2011 Malbec

There's a plethora of very tasty and very inexpensive Argentine Malbec on store shelves right now. Seems like you can grab just about any bottle you see and you'll take home a winner! Another fairly inexpensive Malbec out there is the Alamos 2011, which you should be able to find for $12 or less.

This went really well with a roast pork I recently prepared with some butternut squash and green beans. A simple meal, but the wine brought a delicious elegance to the table with some sturdy tannins on the finish. Like many Malbecs, it was dark, inky; the nose a delicate mixture of floral and fruit scents with a racy flavor of blackberry. This is definitely a good find, but I think for the price and the taste I might lean more toward the Diseño I recently wrote about.

I rate this with an 8 using my scale at the left.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Diseño old vine Malbec

Oh the joy of finding a great value! The 2011 Diseño old vine Malbec is a wine crafted in the great tradition of Argentine Malbec that tastes much better than you would think for a $10 bottle. Malbec at this price point can be jammy with way too much fruit, but not this one!

It has the hefty structure and complexity of great Malbec and while the fruit is definitely there, it's balanced on a smooth beam of mineral and subtle notes of tobacco. When pouring you immediately see its dark inky color, a deep purple so dark it verges on black. The nose is subtle and floral rather than like a jar of Smuckers.

It's supremely drinkable and a great food match, doing well with anything from spicy tomato sauce pasta with spicy Italian sausage, to sauteéd boneless chicken thighs. I most recently had this with a spiced pork chop agrodolce accompanied with some lemon garlic Brussels sprouts and butternut squash; it was very good! The pork chop is very easy to prepare and you can find the recipe on my Pinterest page.

I rate this an 8.5 on my scale at the left.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vale do Bomfim 2008

I'm feeling just a bit embarrassed because I haven't written about this delicious wine. Not only was it delicious (notice the verb tense), I paid just $10 for it!

This Douro from the House of Dow, the 2008 Vale do Bomfim, is among the most delicious $10-bottle of wines I've ever had. Full-bodied with lush fruit, but with a tannic structure and mineral quality to let's you know this is a wine with deep character.

This was very versatile. It went well with pasta, with roast pork, and with seared tuna. It was just delicious! And I'm a bit saddened that I drank the three bottles I picked up. Wine Spectator categorized this wine as a "drink now," but the producer notes on the back that while it's good right now - nay, great! - it will "continue to improve further in bottle." Hmm, for how long I wonder?

I know if I see any more of these I will pick up as many as I can. And I think you should too.

I rate this a 9.5 using my scale at the left.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Brasato al Barolo

I am no stranger to using a fine bottle of wine for cooking. As some of you may know, I have been known to use a Châteauneuf-du-Pape when making lamb stew, not that I would do that every time, mind you. So when I found this recipe for a Brasato al Barolo, I was excited about giving it a try. Having said that, I was not prepared to use an entire bottle of Barolo to prepare it. Even with the lamb stew I only used about half a bottle of the Châteauneuf. Perhaps someday I will follow the recipe more closely.

But I did pull out from the closet a 2005 Barolo by Silvio Grasso to serve with this dish. If you find any 2005 Barolos still out there, you should grab them, for the year was an outstanding vintage for that region. This one still has a lot of cellar time left, even in my closet. Lucky for me I still have a few bottles left. The tannin remains firm, but it is rich with dark cherry and even a hint of tobacco. It was an excellent wine, but I am dreaming of the day in maybe another year or two when this wine will be heavenly.

For the Brasato, I used a bottle of Damilano Marghe, a 2009 Nebbiolo D'Alba. I figured it would be a suitable substitute for the Barolo in the dish considering the grape was the same. It wasn't badly priced and I was familiar with the house of Damilano. The dish is relatively easy to prepare, but does take a long time because the meat is braised at a low temperature of just 250 degrees. It was served with Brussels sprouts roasted with dried cherries and walnuts, and roasted parsnips (which, sadly, were overcooked).

I'll rate the Barolo a 9 for now, but it wouldn't surprise me if this reaches 10 status in another year or so.