Tree Decoration – The Lighting

In my house we always start our tree decoration with the lights.  And this year, because our schedules have been surprisingly full – mostly due to end-of-the-year deadlines at work – we have approached tree decoration in a three-stage process.

First, of course, we bought the tree and set it in it’s stand.  Then we decided to give it a bit of time for it’s branches to relax before attempting to shove light strands and decorations onto it.  The second step, then, was to put on strands of tree lights.  As this year’s tree was a tad smaller than previous years, we first applied one strand of white lights.  Once we were happy with the placement of the whites, we moved on to a strand of colored lights.  Again, only one strand was needed.  And, of course, our tree topper star (which is lit from the inside) finished the lighting ceremony.

As always, we had celebratory vino to enjoy as we engaged in this part of our holiday tradition.  Don’t get the wrong idea.  It isn’t as though all our holidays follow this kind of planning.  I remember a rainy and frenzied Xmas Eve on which we bought our tree and decorations then decorated it.  But that is a story for another time.  Anyway, in this case, we observed the lighting ceremony with a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

Oenophilogical_SauvignonRepublicSB2016Winemaker: Sauvignon Republic
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Vintage: 2016
Appellation: Marlborough, NZ
Price: $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes: This NZ wine from “Latitude 42° South” was very pungent, presenting tropical scents in the bouquet.  Acidity was high in a typically light-bodied Sauvignon Blanc with alcohol at 13%.  Flavors my tongue experienced included guava, starfruit, grass and white pepper.  I found it started out gently sweet on the palate and ended nicely tart.  I thought it was an enjoyable glass of inexpensive white wine.

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Sipping in Sevilla

Well, I finally made it to Spain! Yeeha!

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First stop was Seville where I had an absolutely wonderful time. There was the Real Alcazar which was originally built by Moorish rulers but later became the palace of Spanish royalty, including King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Yes, that Ferdinand and Isabella. And there was the amazing Seville Cathedral which houses the final resting place of … Christopher Columbus, of course. There is so much history and culture here, it’s difficult to take it all in. And then there is all the Spanish wine. Wow! The first night in Seville, I celebrated my arrival with a Rioja.

IMG_20170924_152217278Winemaker: El Coto
Wine: Rioja Crianza
Varietal: Tempranillo
Vintage: 2013
Appellation: Rioja DO, Spain

Notes: The nose on this Crianza was really great – scents of blueberry, blackberry, and pine. It was medium-bodied with light tannins and 13% alcohol. Flavors for me included dark berries, pepper and tobacco. I liked it, especially the bouquet. Not a pairing for a serious steak, but good with a lighter meal.

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Thanksgiving: Family, Food, Fellowship and Fahrvergnuegen

Although I had initially hoped for a quiet Thanksgiving at home, family duty rose to the fore and quickly banished all thoughts of staying put.

Don’t misunderstand me: I love my family. But because of circumstances at work, I had only the one day off. So when we got the almost last-minute call to attend a family gathering …. It was a fair amount of driving and so forth all in one day. Could we have begged off? Sure. But not really. Know what I mean?

Luckily, the crew had mercy on us. We didn’t have to cook anything for the festivities. And, of course, it was awesome to see everyone and catch up in person. For the gathering we had many traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, corn, salad, and pies galore. Seriously, there was one pie to every two people. The only thing slightly non-traditional was the choice of wine. Not that it was way out in left field.

IMG_20171123_114032950~2Winemaker: Trader Joe’s
Varietal: Petit Verdot
Vintage: 2014
Appellation: Paso Robles, CA
Price: $9.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes: The Trader Joe’s Petit Verdot was dark in the glass with scents of berries, meat and forest floor. It was medium-bodied with good acidity and tannins on the lighter side of medium. The flavor profile included menthol, black cherry, baking spices, pepper, and a touch of rubber. I thought it was pretty good. Perhaps a heartier selection than the average turkey day glass, but everyone was going back for seconds. I know I did.

Chateau Des Seraphin 2015

A quick bevvy and quick post as I prepare for a Thanksgiving with the extended family. This was a Trader Joe’s grab.

IMG_20171107_203746596~2Winemaker: Chateau Des Seraphin
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2015
Appellation: Cotes du Rhone AOC, France

Notes: This French blend was a mix of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre.  It was an intense deep red in the glass with scents of red berries and pepper on the nose.  It was light-bodied with good acidity and medium tannins.  Flavors I found included cassis, benzine, chlorophyll, and pepper with touches of oak.  The finish was unfortunately very bitter and, for me, that was a deal-breaker.  I had it with a steak for dinner which seemed like a potentially good pairing.  Although it’s quite inexpensive at $5.99, I don’t think I will be going back for seconds.

 

 

Legado Cabernet Franc 2015

Legado means legacy in Spanish.  Hmmm.  I’m not sure I have a personal legacy at this point.  Although if I keep at this blog long enough …?  I guess for now I’ll have to borrow someone else’s, so to speak.

Oenophilogical_LegadoCabernetFranc2015Winemaker: Legado (by Villafañe y Guzman)
Varietal: Cabernet Franc
Vintage: 2015
Appellation: Mendoza, Argentina

Notes: This Argentinian Cab Franc was very dark in the glass with scents of turpentine, sweet berries, and floral notes in the bouquet.  Medium-bodied with good acidity, the Legado had light tannins.  Alcohol was at 14%.  On the tongue the core flavor was dark cherry.  In addition, I tasted licorice, a touch of rubber, herbal hints and wood.

La Paca Garnacha 2014

Ever buy a bottle of wine just because you liked the label?  I must confess that is exactly what happened here.  While I’m not saying that doing so is a completely justifiable method of choosing one’s wine, it can lead to interesting surprises.  But … I had previously tried the Altovinum Evodia and Tres Ojos Garnachas both from the Calatayud wine region.  So, like, I had an idea of what I might be getting my taste buds into.  And the label art was just so cool!

Oenophilogical_LaPacaGarnacha2014Winemaker: La Paca
Varietal: Garnacha
Vintage: 2014
Appellation: Calatayud DO, Spain
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes: This Garnacha presented pleasant flavors of dark cherry and plum with copious amounts of pepper.  Acidity was high, tannins were low, and alcohol was at 14.5%.

Di Majo Norante Sangiovese 2012

Now that I’m back in the trenches sipping vino, I hope to continue my exploration of the Sangiovese varietal.  I will continue exploring other wines as well, of course.  Still, the renown and venerable Sangiovese has somehow caught my interest.

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Sangiovese Grapes by Francesco Sgroi

Oenophilogical_DiMajoNoranteSangiovese2012Winemaker: Di Majo Norante
Varietal: Sangiovese
Vintage: 2012
Appellation: Terre degli Osci IGT, Italy
Price: $9.99

 

Notes: This southern Italian was a bit like opening an old cedar chest with mothballs in it.  Those were the scents that immediately struck me – cedar resin and menthol.  A dark wine in the glass, it was medium-bodied with good acidity.  The tannins were quite present, verging on high.  Alcohol was at 13%.  On the palate I tasted rubber, blackberry, resin, menthol, pepper and woody tannins that lingered.  Pretty decent, I’d say.  In fact, given the tannic structure, I think it might have been a good candidate for cellaring.