Tree Decoration – Adding the Baubles

I mentioned in my last post, we’ve taken a stepped approach to our tree decoration this year.  Not because that’s what we wanted, but because our schedules were so crazy this year we weren’t able to do otherwise.

The first two steps were 1) buying and setting the tree in it’s stand (centering, leveling, etc.); 2) applying strands of lights and the tree topper.  Having managed to put the lights on successfully (in our opinion, anyway), the third step was the placement of the individual decorations a few days later.

Here, my sweetie and I have a very different view of what success looks like.  I have a tendency to favor a purposeful placement of baubles closer to the trunk or “inside” as well as near the end of branches.  This, of course, comes to me from my parents’ training and perhaps suits my temperament as well.  My honey, on the other hand, favors the organic approach with placement of decorations in a more random, serendipitous way.  You might call that a “natural” look.  I suppose our viewpoints on tree decoration prove that we do, in fact, complement each other.  I believe that’s true!  Thus, (complementary or not) it is absolutely necessary that we both have a nice large block of time available together for the task.  That normally means our tree gets decorated on a weekend.

To accompany stage three of our tree decorating, we chose to pop the cork on a California Meritage.

Oenophilogical_RoustaboutMeritage2016Winemaker: Roustabout
Wine: Meritage
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2016
Appellation: Paso Robles, CA
Price: $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes: This Meritage consisted of 66% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Malbec.  It’s color was a pretty, deep red.  It’s nose contained dark berry scents, pine and a touch of earth.  Medium-bodied with good acidity, the Roustabout had 13.9% alcohol.  Flavors included a core of plum with tea leaf, spices, and woody tannins.  I thought it was pleasant and would be a good pairing with a beef dish.  At this price, that could be anything from a burger to Beef Stroganoff.

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Tree with Lights no Baubles

 

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.

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.

Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Seems I haven’t yet exhausted my archival notes.  So while it appears that Joel Gott Wines is now selling it’s 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, please step into my time machine for a trip back into the not-so-distant past.  Can we find a bottle of the 2013 on our store shelves?  Probably not.  Does the quality of this vintage provide a sense of what may lie waiting for us in the 2015?  Well, it can certainly give us an idea of the quality we can expect.  You can also click on the link above and see what the vintner has to say about his new Sauvignon Blanc.  In the meantime ….

Oenophilogical_JoelGottSauvignonBlanc2013Winemaker: Joel Gott
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Vintage: 2013
Appellation: California
Price: $10.99

Notes: Aromas of tropical fruit and citrus rose from the glass of this pale golden-hued wine.  On the tongue, the heft was light with a definite coat-the-tongue sensation.  Acidity was brisk, and alcohol was at 13.9%.  As far as flavor, my palate found Meyer lemon, grass, a hint of hot pepper (from the acidity, no doubt), and a saline note.  I certainly enjoyed this Joel Gott selection quite a bit, and I think it would have been a great pairing with scallops or a light fish stew.  Perhaps I need to cook up some scallops and grab the current release for an awesome meal.

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.

Anton Bauer Grüner Veltliner Gmörk 2014

While I don’t speak Spanish (but wish I did as I mentioned in a previous post), I do speak German at a conversational level.  I’ve lived in Germany a couple of times and studied the German language both in the country and at college.  In fact, it was almost my minor.  I had the credits for it.  But book German, or Hochdeutsch, is not the same as the daily spoken language or vernacular.  And then you have the variations by region and country.  Hochdeutsch is different than Bavarian German which is different that Swiss German which is different than Austrian German, etc.  So when I tell you that it took me awhile to work out that Gmörk or Ried Gmörk on this Anton Bauer label means Gmörk Vineyard, please don’t judge me too harshly.

Oenophilogical_AntonBauerGruenerVeltlinerGmoerk2014Winemaker: Anton Bauer
Wine: Grüner Veltliner Ried Gmörk
Varietal: Grüner Veltliner
Vintage: 2014
Appellation: Wagram, Austria
Price: $12.79

Notes: This Austrian sent aromas of zingy green apple and citrus to my olfactory nerves.  Color was a light but intense yellow.  Acidity was bright and lively in this characteristically effervescent and light-bodied selection.  Alcohol was at 12%.  When I opened the bottle, the screwtop liner remained affixed to the lip of the bottle until it popped off of its own accord with a sound as satisfying as any champagne cork.  Flavors I detected were green apple and lime zest with touches of almond.  Pretty tasty and entertaining to boot.