A Homespun Home-fun Xmas Eve

My sweetheart and I celebrated the holidays quietly at home this year.  Thus, we decided to make it a full-fledged staycation featuring plenty of food and time together.

oenophilogical_xmaseve16Our Xmas Eve celebration, then, began around noon with preparations for an early homestyle dinner – 5:00 ish.   Our kitchen is very small: we are not. Since we were sharing the responsibility for dishes, we had to work out a kitchen schedule.  What a fun challenge for us and a test of our collaborative skills.  I’m happy to say we passed the test!

The dinner was a simple one consisting of crab cakes (from our local Whole Foods seafood section), pearl couscous with mixed bell peppers, and a cucumber/radish salad.  It doesn’t seem that difficult at first blush till you factor in the substitutions we had to make (because we really are follow-the-recipe cooks) plus our “make ahead” work on dishes for Xmas Day dinner.  After much excitement, we finally got the meal on the table around 6:00 … maybe 6:30.  I confess the delay was mostly my fault.  With our meal we enjoyed a bottle of Vermentino from Trader Joe’s under the VINTJS  label.

After dinner, we finished watching the first season of “The Crown.”  This TV show is one of the best historical dramas I’ve ever seen.  If you like the genre, you should see it.  Sumptuous cinematography and solid performances across the board.

Then we put together a little snack tray of cheese, crackers, prosciutto, and nuts.  After all, we’d worked hard on the couch helping get Queen Elizabeth through the trials and tribulations of her early reign.  Next we turned out all the lights except the tree and sang our favorite Xmas carols.  And that was that!  Time to hit the hay and rest up for our Xmas Day festivities.

oenophilogical_vintjsvermintino2015Winemaker:  VINTJS
Varietal:  Vermentino
Vintage:  2015
Appellation:  Lodi, California
Price:  $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  For me, this light white had a strong, zingy bouquet of citrus, peach and spice.  On the tongue I tasted orange, grass, and citrus zest.  It had a surprisingly long and pleasant finish as the orange lingered on the palate.  I liked this VINTJS Vermentino.  I was a little surprised that the piquancy of the bouquet didn’t translate fully to the tongue, but perhaps that’s just part of it’s character.

 

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Santa Rita Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Some wines are so full of flavors and nuance, I almost feel like I can’t do them justice with a description.  In fact, I probably can’t.  Still, I do my best and enjoy trying.  Other wines are so amazingly straightforward, it takes only a word or two to express the essence of their character.  That isn’t a judgement, by the way.  Sometimes the right wine for a particular occasion is the kind that makes a singular impact.

Winemaker:   Santa Rita
Wine:  120 Sauvignon Blanc
Varietal:  Sauvignon Blanc
Vintage:  2014
Appellation:  Valle Central DO, Chile
Price: $9.69

Notes:  Grapefruit

 

Viña Maipo Chardonnay 2015

Some wines I remember for their impact on my senses – their bouquet, their flavors.  Others I remember as part of what I was doing when I drank them – at a birthday party, concert, special restaurant, etc.  When I popped the cork on this bottle, my sweetie and I had decided to catch up on our pop culture and begin watching Season 1 of the show True Detective via HBO Now.  I truly didn’t realize how dark the story line would be, or I might have opted for something else.  The juxtaposition of a light white wine and the grim crimes being investigated on the screen, however, may have made both more memorable.

Winemaker:  Viña Maipo
Wine:  Mi Pueblo
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Vintage:  2015
Appellation:  Central Valley, Chile
Price:  $5.00

Notes:  This light-bodied, light-hued Chardonnay had bright acidity and a bouquet consisting of lemon, pineapple and spice.  Alcohol was at 13%.  On the palate I tasted lemon, pineapple, grass and a very forward kerosene note.  I’d suggest pairing this with food as (for me) the kerosene note was a bit off-putting.  Maybe that’s why it was marked down from $12 to $5.

Fontana Candida Frascati 2013

I love the name of this winery – a member of the Banfi family of brands – because it elicits in me personal memories/connections.

I have only had one other selection from this vintner – their Pinot Grigio delle Venezie.  At the time, I had just finished reading a biography of the modernist composer John Cage who wrote a piece called “Fontana Mix”, composed while he was living in a flat in Italy.

But the second part of their name – Candida – which can mean white, pale, naive or innocent – reminds me of the satire Candide written by Voltaire and the derivative operetta of the same name with music by Leonard Bernstein and libretto by Lillian Hellman.  What memories that word brings to the fore!!

You see, some years ago I had the honor of being a swing for a professional production of the operetta Candide here in my local town.  The production began elsewhere and then transferred to my town for a couple of months.  When they arrived, they had everyone in tow but their swings – understudies who learn and cover chorus and small roles (usually 5 or 6 roles at a time).  They called me to audition, I got the part, and then I had just over 2 weeks to learn music, lines, blocking (placement/movement on stage) and dance.  Holy cow!  Even more enjoyable was the fact that the dance captain who was supposed to be teaching the swings (2 male, one female) their movement and dance, didn’t actually know the dances. Oh, he knew HIS movement and dance.  But he didn’t know OUR movement and dance.  So we spent quite a bit of time watching him watch the archival recordings of the show in order to then be able to teach us.  Not surprisingly, we all felt a little behind when opening night came around.  Eventually I did get to go on for one of the roles, and it went well.  Whew!

Oenophilogical_FontanaCandidaFrascati2013Winemaker:  Fontana Candida
Varietal:  White Blend
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Frascati DOC, Italy
Price:  $11.41

Notes:  According to the Fontana Candida website, this Frascati is made from Malvasia Bianca Di Candia, Trebbiano Toscano, and Malvasia del Lazio grapes.  At 12.5% alcohol, it was light-bodied and brisk in it’s acidity.  Light yellow in the glass, it exhibited plenty of lemon and chrysanthemum in the bouquet.  On the tongue I tasted lemon, grass, some citrus zest near the close and a nutty note on the finish. I enjoyed it quite a bit (despite the memories it may have dredged up) and think this wine’s overarching citrus will make it a great companion for many fish and seafood dishes.

* The video trailer above is not from the production in which I participated.

Firefly Ridge Pinot Gris 2013

I love the idea of serendipity.  Merriam Webster defines serendipity as “luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.”  While I don’t believe I can live my life relying on it alone, I do try to keep my eyes peeled for it’s occurrence.  I think I may have discovered one.

After jotting down my tasting notes when experiencing a particular wine, I place them in a nifty little file at my desk.  Of course, other items come across my desk from time to time.  In this instance, I seem to have had a Reese’s peanut butter & chocolate type of moment.  You see, stuck to my notes for this selection was a post-it on which was written the titles of two popular Latin songs.  So this is a serendipitous wine & canciones moment.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Oenophilogical_FireflyRidgePinotGris2013Winemaker:  Firely Ridge
Varietal:  Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio)
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Central Coast, CA
Price:  $15.99

Notes:  The color of pale lemon, the wine echoed citrus in it’s bouquet.  At 13.5% alcohol, this Firefly Ridge selection was light-bodied with bright acidity.  Flavors ran along the tropical lines with a core of citrus throughout and notes of banana and mango.  Near the finish I caught some grass and white pepper as well.  Overall, not a bad Pinot Gris to sip while enjoying some fun music.  I think it might be over-priced at $15.99, so look for it on sale at your local Safeway.

Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc

I mentioned in a recent post that I had to take a little break from the blog due to circumstances beyond my control.  Nonetheless, prior to the hiatus I had managed to squirrel away a number of tasting notes from wines I’d enjoyed in previous months.  Not wanting to waste the work and hoping to perhaps relive some enjoyable moments, I have decided to go ahead and post them.  They may be a little past their “post by” date, but I hope they will still prove to be of interest.  This Oyster Bay is one example.

Oenophilogical_OysterBaySauvignonBlanc2014Winemaker:  Oyster Bay
Varietal:  Sauvignon Blanc
Vintage:  2014
Appellation:  Marlborough, NZ
Price:  $15.99

Notes:  The bouquet of this New Zealand white was very pungent with scents of citrus and guava.  Acidity was pretty high, and it was light-bodied.  At 13% alcohol, the wine packed plenty of flavor consisting primarily of citrus, guava and grass.  This is another fun and unctuous Kiwi wine.

A Toast!

It has been quite awhile since last I posted.  I apologize profusely for the extreme delay, but I had a darned good (some might say extreme) reason.  I was presented with a surprise – a big surprise – health challenge.  Thus, as you might imagine, that subject has taken pretty much all my focus for a time.  It also prevented me from enjoying adult beverages for a bit.

Now that things are looking a tad brighter, I thought I’d pop a bottle of bubbly stuff to celebrate.  (Don’t worry, I have the doctors’ blessings) So ….  Cheers!

Oenophilogical_AvissiProseccoWinemaker:  Avissi
Varietal:  Prosecco (Glera)
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Prosecco DOC, Italy
Price:  $12.49

Notes:  On the nose of this extremely pale sparkling wine I caught a very sharp citrus scent.  On the tongue I thought acidity was good and the body characteristically light.  Flavors consisted of a citrus core with hints of almond and toast.  It was quite bubbly.  I’d even call it aggressively effervescent – almost too much for me.  Even so, I was more than pleased to have the opportunity to let it prick my tongue and tickle my nose.