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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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.

VINTJS Petite Sirah 2013

From the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer:  “When you see the VINTJS label on a bottle of wine at Trader Joe’s, you can be sure of a couple of things right off the bat. One, that wine is a good example of the best of what you’ll find from its appellation, and two, that wine represents a stellar value you’ll find only at Trader Joe’s. . . . Using grapes from their vineyards along Monterey County’s coastal mountain ranges, where a cooler climate gives the grapes a chance to ripen slowly and develop more intense fruit flavors, the winemakers have crafted a hefty, almost chewy red, full-bodied and fruit forward yet decidedly dry, aged for nine months in American and Hungarian oak barrels. Rather than a straightforward Petite Sirah, which would be a much bigger wine than its name would suggest, they’ve opted here to blend in a bit of Merlot, Syrah, and a splash of Viognier ….”

Oenophilogical_VINTJSPetiteSirah2013Winemaker: VINTJS (aka Trader Joe’s)
Varietal: Petite Sirah
Vintage: 2013
Appellation: Monterey, California
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes: This wine was 90.7% Petite Sirah with 4.6% Merlot, 2.8% Syrah, and 1.9% Viognier.  At almost 91% Petite Sirah, I think it definitely deserved a varietal label rather than that of a blend.  In the lovely, full bouquet of this VINTJS I detected scents of dark, juicy berries and forest floor.  It was a very dark-colored wine in the glass as well with medium body and good acidity.  Tannins were also medium.  Flavors for me included cherry, black currant, and oak along with a medicinal note and a zing of pepper on the finish.  Despite it being a dry wine at 14.5% alcohol, it had a touch of sweetness on the palate, too.  I agree with the Trader Joe’s folks that this wine was most certainly a value purchase.

Cotillion Pinot Noir 2013

Feel like dancing?  I’m not talking about the headsnapping dance I mentioned previously.  I mean something a bit more sedate this time around.  You see, a cotillion was an 18th century French dance.

Looks an awful lot like square dancing to me but to quieter more refined music.  I was in a square dance club when I was a young kid, so I’ve done my share of do-si-dos, allemande lefts, and promenades.  We were called the Wheelers and Dealers.  It was fun!  Only real drawback for me was that at my tender age I was shorter than most of the girls.  Ha!

Oenophilogical_CotillionPinotNoir2013Winemaker: Cotillion (by Ashford Court)
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Vintage: 2013
Appellation: California
Price: $9.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes: This Pinot Noir was a blend of grapes from three counties in California.  The mix was 60% from Monterey County, 24% from Sonoma County, and 16% from Santa Barbara County.  In the bouquet I found scents of pine resin, moss, and mushroom with an underpinning of red berries.  This light-bodied selection was a dark burgundy hue in the glass with high acidity.  Alcohol came in at 13.8%, and tannins were on the light side with a slow grip.  On the tongue I detected cherry, boysenberry, tea leaf and bitters.

Echelon Pinot Noir 2013

As we move into fall with the impending holidays, I thought I might post these notes from seasons past.

Oenophilogical_EchelonPinotNoir2013Winemaker: Echelon
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Vintage: 2013
Appellation: California
Price: $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes: The color of this Pinot Noir was a medium garnet.  The bouquet contained a generous amount of cedar as well as earth, berries, and a hint of beef.  It was light-bodied with good acidity.  This Echelon also had 13% alcohol and medium tannins.  On the palate I tasted cherry, ash, pomegranate, and tea.