Oenophilogical: The Terrific Twos

Well, snap!  Several weeks ago marked this blog’s second year of sipping, swilling and opining.  I’m a little late with this, but here it is …



It’s been a fun year!  Please join me in a toast to another one.



Shenandoah Vineyards Zinfandel 2012

Well, it happened again.  I saw a label that made me think I was looking at a Virginia wine, but I was fooled.  I mean, seriously, Shenandoah Vineyards?  Last time it was my own mix-up.  This time ….  Well, suffice it to say that the Shenandoah Valley is NOT in California.  Parentheticals and subtitles aside, it seems almost false advertising to use that name for a Vineyard so far away from the Shenandoah region.  That’s my regional pride speaking.  The wine lover in me, on the other hand, would suggest that it’s what’s inside the bottle that counts – not what they call it.  I bought a bottle, so clearly my love of wine won the day.

Winemaker:  Shenandoah Vineyards (Of California)
Wine:  Special Reserve Zinfandel
Varietal:  Zinfandel
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Amador County, California
Price: $9.99

Notes:  Dark garnet in the glass, this Zin had a bouquet presenting forest floor, cedar, tangy berries and a touch of sawdust.  The body was very light, acidity was good to high, and tannins were a robust medium.  Alcohol was 13.9%.  As for flavors, I thought this dry California red was quite peppery with a fruit core of cherry and currant, cedar, some camphor and even a touch of chili pepper.  I would have preferred more heft on the palate, but it was pretty decent otherwise.  Sure, it wasn’t awesomely complex, but it wasn’t a boring glass of vino by any means.  I’d buy it again.  If you like a little zing in your Zin, you may enjoy this one.

Wine For Baking?

That was the question I asked myself.  Not because I was putting wine INTO baked goods.  I am an observer rather than a participant when it comes to baking.  It’s probably better that way for everyone concerned.

So, why “wine for baking?”  You see, my household has become addicted to the Great British Bake Off.  As a result, we have been binge-watching the show “on demand” first and then online “streaming.”  Here’s the interesting thing – nobody here is a baker.  So why are we so fascinated by this British reality television competition?

With a sea of reality TV options serving up anger, animosity, self-centered “stars'” and conspicuous self-indulgence, The Great British Bake Off stands out as a positive, interesting, and informative show about real people.  These people are all truly amateur bakers – from housewives to medical students to construction workers.  Some, of course, are hoping to do more with their avocation.  Even so, they remind us of people we know and care about.  And before we know it, we care about how those participants are doing in their bakes.

The judges are tough but not mean.  The two hosts are funny but don’t completely steal the focus from the participants.  And the show is forthright about letting the contestants practice some of the baking challenges at home in advance.  Instead of ruining the competition, it makes the results of their efforts that much more interesting.  It seems practice doesn’t always make perfect!  In other words, what might seem like a potentially boring show is anything but.

Thus, I recently found myself shopping my local wine stores for something to accompany an evening of vicarious baking.  This is one of the bottles I chose for that purpose.

Winemaker:  Robert Mondavi
Wine:  Private Selection Riesling
Varietal:  Riesling
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Central Coast, California
Price:  $8.99

Notes:  A pale yellow with a greenish tinge, this light-bodied Riesling was high in acidity and a tad off dry at 12.5% alcohol.  For me it presented a fairly simple flavor profile including tangerine, a touch of honey and grass.  I liked it – especially for something to sip while I watched folks struggle to make perfect macaroons on schedule.  It would also be good with a light cheese course or a gently spicy chicken or seafood entree.


Poggio Anima Belial (Sangiovese) 2011

Poggio Anima is a joint venture between Riccardo Campinoti of Le Ragnaie and his U.S. importer Vine Street Imports.  According to their website, they “wanted to capture the ‘soul’ of each vineyard and grape. No manipulation, no water, sugar, etc. Just the pure expression of the fruit and site.”  Sounds good to me.

Winemaker: Poggio Anima
Wine:  Belial
Varietal: Sangiovese
Vintage: 2011
Appellation: Toscana, Italy IGT
Price: $14.99

Notes:  This Tuscan was a rich, dark red with a bouquet of sous bois (damp forest floor), mushrooms, oak, a touch of pepper, and underlying fruit.  It had high acidity, medium tannins and alcohol at 13%.  The light-bodied Belial brought a fascinating group of flavors to my palate, including grapeseed, cranberry and sour cherry, quinine and white pepper.  This was – for me – one of the tartest wines I’ve had in awhile.  I would not call it bitter, but definitely tart.  As it turns out, though, I enjoy tart flavors.  So I found this Sangiovese to be quite fun to drink.