Newbies & Terroir
Best of the Best - Gordon’s Wine Bar

Now, I know I have mentioned how much I love this bar….and…. how much I love their wine.  But today I want to feature Gordon’s as the hot spot wine bar in London.

This bar was first opened up in 1890, rumored to be the oldest wine bar in London.  It was previously a home in 1680, and then a warehouse in 1820 for seeds.  The best part is that all the original decor survived.

So what is this decor?  Great design marvels at the ancient barrel vaults with old brick and the roughly lined flooring.  On the overly large, wooden table tops sit candles to give the atmosphere a flickering yellow/gold glow.  The shadows and noise of people participating in conversation and drinking the small but mighty wine list.  A large focal piece of one area stands the fireplace, obviously unused, but still containing bits and bobs on the mantle piece with an old mirror.  The ceiling heights are low in some areas, probably a result of the basement and warehouse usages from the 1600s.

And this my dear readers… is all from my memory.  Let me tell you a story of my personal history with Gordons.

It all started with meeting a man for a first date in London.  I had received a text prompting to meet at 7pm sharp at Charing Cross Station right off of the Northern line. 
After meeting up with my date, expecting to be whisked away to dinner, I was taken into this shack-looking and semi-run down building front and down weak, creaking, and very narrow stairs.  Was this the place for dinner? Oh no.  This was the ultimate place to grab pre-dinner drinks.

He ordered the bottle as I stood their dumbfounded.  I kept looking around everywhere, at all the people, at the decor, at the low ceilings, at the barrels and wine cellar… It was packed, and it was only a Monday night!

Gordon’s was forever in my memory from that day on.  I had only come back once to savor the amazing wine selection and atmosphere, but tomorrow it will be my third time.  That’s right… back to the excellent atmosphere at my most revered wine bar in England: Gordon’s wine bar.

I’m so excited!

Here are some photos:

^^ and there’s the fireplace in the right center! That’s where we stood for our first date! :)

Long Island Vineyards - Travel Saturday

Today’s location feature comes from a place close to my previous home: NYC.  The vineyards along the east end of Long Island towards the Hamptons are home to several great vineyards and old world brewing techniques.

On their main website, www.liwines.com, the description of Long Island wines is summed up loud and clear: “It has been said by many that Long Island is one of the country’s most exciting wine producing regions today, with great reviews and high praise found in major food and wine publications nationwide. As the awards continue to accumulate, Long Island wines are increasingly sought after in fine restaurants and wine shops from coast to coast.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

While I have not been to any of these wineries on Long Island, I discovered a beautiful map of each one interconnected through notcot.org.  The artist Jacqueline Maloney lives in the Hampton Bays.  I’m sure her love of wine is strong, and this map is beautiful! I wish I would have gone given the chance!

All New Yorkers better head this way.  A gem like this cannot be wasted!

* print this map and see more here! http://www.theydrawandtravel.com/maps/vineyards-of-long-island-new-york-jacqueline-maloney#page_title

Samuel Adams Beer - Friday Feature

Besides wine, one of the greatest pleasures of the world, there is a second great pleasure: beer.  Often overlooked by most people in search of sophistication, beer should not be judged so cruelly. 

Often enough, beer is a great drink for many occasions.  Grabbing a pint at the pub is a great social event, a beer with friends is a great way to have fun while keeping an eye on yourself, and furthermore, it is exceedingly casual.  Casual being that it can go places, be in all types of environments, and with a cold beer in your hand, it just gives a sociable vibe. 

I, myself, have gotten more into beer lately (notice the delay in posting.. take that as a lot!).  Beer has a great air to it, a great taste, and let’s face it.. on a hot summer day what sounds better than an ice cold beverage?  Not much!

My key staple in beers has found a new name: Samuel Adams.  This is not to downplay the other beers that I love, but just to feature one of my most favorites.  I first tried Sam Adams Boston Lager (the original) at a restaurant near my university.  I immediately loved the strong but refreshing taste: a mixture of hops and malt that is both balanced and complex.  In fact, in its first two months on the market, the Bostan Lager won “Best Beer in America”.  What an accomplishment!

I love Samuel Adams not just for their great original, but for their brewmaster flavors as well! 

First, the Coastal Wheat.  With a wheaty flavor similar to one of Blue Moon or Hoegarden, this beer is definitely heavy but refreshing.  It has a strong lemon taste, and the flavoring is very “I’m on a beach”.  It’s excellent, and I’d buy a whole case of it.

Second: Irish Red.  An amazing and deep malt beer, its description hits all of my high marks: caramel malt.  It is a stunning concoction and a well balanced beer!

Third: Cream Stout. OH MY GOD.  A beer that was made for me.  This has notonly caramel malts but CHOCOLATE malts as well.  I felt as if I was drinking all three of my favorite things in one… It really could have substituted for dessert!

If you are craving beer, try these.  Amazing, rich and balanced.. perfect for any night that a cold drink is needed!

Redemption… La Cana

I was, needless to say, a little put off by wine after my encounter with my first terrible wine.. however when my father came into town to take me out to a sushi dinner, how could I refuse a refreshing white to pair with my dragon roll? 

I couldn’t.

This Spanish wine was wonderful to experience.  It was crisp and light with hints of citrus and a clean aftertaste.  It paired excellent with our sushi and would have tasted great with a bold salad or lightly seasoned chicken.  Loved it.

EEK! How Terrible! My first completely awful wine….

I was walking through Fresh Market looking for a great white wine to share with a good friend of mine that evening.  Rieslings tend to be my favorite, however I was looking for something different.  I found myself staring at a Portuguese wine: Gazela.

It looked refreshing… doesn’t it?  The pictures are so beautiful, they just aim to take you away to those warm and refreshing looking places!  It was a Vinho Verde… Green wine?  It was described as a white wine.  Sounded like this was a great wine to have for sipping. 

In reality? TERRIBLE! 

It was more like a sparkling wine or champagne with absolutely no taste! Could have been mineral water.. I would not have known the difference.

Awful.  But cute bottle!  Way to go graphic designers.

Wines of Oregon

First Thursday of each month, my campus has a wine tasting in its restaurant.  Officially back from New York City, it is my civic duty to attend!  The place is set up in a rotunda off of the student center, and inside contains an array of dishes to serve buffet style as suitable pairings for the wines me and my friends would be partaking in.

So, this month (April) was all about Oregon.  My first thoughts? Oregon??? They have wine over there?  But I was thrilled at the same time.  The whole point of a wine tasting is to try wines you may not be able to buy the bottles to.  Plus, I’m sure most people would ask the same thing about Ohio wines. 

There were five wines at this tasting event: two whites and three reds.  For food, there was plenty of salad, spinach artichoke dip, stuffed chicken, stuffed mushrooms, an array of cheeses, fruit and veggies, and pasta.  My friends and I stuffed our plates full before we excitedly hurried back to our seats for the first wine to be poured.

This first wine was simply called “White”.  It was a Pinot Gris, and came from Grochau Cellars.  It is descried as brightly acidic, fruity with a little sweetness, and made to drink every day of the week.  The reason Mr. John Grochou called it “White” was to keep the wine’s name simple in describing its use: to drink with anything, any day of the week.

In my opinion, it was ok, but I wasn’t too big of a fan.  The real kicker for this wine was the tones of citrus.  It didn’t pair with any of the foods I had well, however a great salad with a punchy dressing would be perfect!

The second wine we indulged in was a mixture between a Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer.  All together, it was named “Jezebel” White.  This wine, from Daedalus Cellars, was a great white to start the evening with (if it had been first!).  The wine was a great equal balance of all three white wines and had a dry tone whilst being versatile. 

Moving on to the third wine, I was introduced to “Big Fire” Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley.  This wine, heavy in dark cherry had a vanilla undertone and a slight hint of - sweet pie spice?  An interesting combination that worked!

By the time the fourth wine arrived at our table, my friends and I had been in slight food comas from the amount of cheese and cheesecake that had been consumed.  However, this wine is a sister to one I mentioned previously… the “Jezebel” Pinot Noir.  This wine I was not a big fan off, and found it quite hard to sip. 

The fourth wine, another Pinot Noir, was the exact opposite.  From the same winery as the previous “Jezebel,” this wine is the “Jezebel” Pinot Noir. 

It is a “grape that is expressive to its terroir” (according to the pamphlet handed out) or, the grape of this wine embodies that of the land on which it was grown.  It is an easy sipping wine for the red-wine lover, and a wonderful pairing to light foods and lightly seasoned meats.

The last wine (I’ll admit clearly) I can’t remember the taste of.  It was called Tabula Rasa Red from Andrew Rich Wines.  It is a mixture of grapes, with 70% of the wine coming from a Syrah.  The other combinations include Grenache, Mourvedre, and Counoise.  (I have never heard of any of them)  I guess that is all that can be said about this poor last wine: not memorable!

Look for another great post from Mick & Mack’s Wine Tasting every first Thursday of the month!  (This one is a tad late, I know :) )

x

Cellar No. 8

Back in Cincinnati, and my first thought?  Wine shopping with my best girl friend.  Let’s face it, when wine lovers begin, they rarely start alone.  This girl has been my accomplice in wine endeavors long before my boyfriend came into the picture.  So our first free day together was spent at the local wine store.

For my Cincinnati-ans out there… that was Hyde Park Kroger (a great wine selection!).

I was feeling a crisp white wine to pair with our elaborate dinner plans for that night: calamari, bruchetta, and ricotta stuffed shells.  After searching through the several isles of wine, trying to recollect my latest findings in the white wine world, I found this one:

Let’s face it.  I’m not really a Pinot girl.  I’m not really a white wine girl to begin with, but the description alone had me giving this a try:

"Cellar No. 8 wines are crafted at the historic Asti Winery in California.  Cellar No. 8 Pinot Grigio displays notes of pineapple and jasmine on the nose.  Crisp and light, this wine has grapefruit and lime flavors that open to a refreshing finish with balanced acidity."

Let’s recap: CRISP.  REFRESHING.  BALANCED.  Sold.

My own thoughts on the product are similar.  I feel the wine is most definitely crisp and refreshing.  Plus it is dry, despite the various fruits the description contains.  Since my palate is not yet so refined, I cannot taste any of the specific components, however CAN smell a hint of pineapple right before the first sip.  Excellent progress.

Overall thoughts… this is a great wine to pair with seafood.  Pasta?  Not so much.  Something light and “balanced” in food would be perfect.  Or simply sip alone with a good friend.  Either one, it’s worth it.

The Return of the Malbec…

And unfortunately, not in a pleasant way.

Malbec, as one can probably tell in my previous posts, is a favorite wine choice.  I explore deep into this wine and its different varieties, and thus far haven’t been terribly upset.

That is until now.

I have seen this wine before, for the label is familiar to me.  Casillero del Diablo was the name, of course a 2010 Chilean wine.  We picked it out to pair with one of our more meaty dinners we were having that evening.  However, once I actually got to sip and taste this wine, I was immediately not a fan.

The description pictured a robust wine of dark fruit with hints of black pepper and vanilla.  Well, it had black pepper alright.  That was definitely the overpowering tone to me personally.  My boyfriend, on the other hand, had no poor opinion of the wine and gladly had the portion I gave up. 

This example really demonstrates the difference in each of our individual palettes.  I love the dry wines with fruit, however tend to drift to wines with a light or refreshing finish.  My thinking is that a wine should be good through out a meal, so I love the ones that I can drink at the start, through the meal, and then during the after-dinner socializing. 

What is your ideal type of wine?  Do you look for the all around perfection or that perfect pairing? 

Jost Vineyards - Nova Scotia

After discovering one vineyard of Nova Scotia in the last two weeks, we quickly discovered (and loved) another. 

This one was Jost Vineyards.  I personally chose their Habitant Blanc to be our first venture into what this vineyard had to offer.  With its dry tones and a description of a “nicely balanced, refreshing dry white wine” I thought it would pair wonderfully with whatever we would be eating that night, and of course, to sip as the night went on.

Habitant Blanc did not fail me.  Another point to Stella as she yet again chooses the great wines of the year! I should have known I could not have failed, since it is their Award-winning wine.

This wine was exactly as described: refreshing and nicely balanced.  It was so wonderful, we bought it twice!

However, this was not the only wine from Jost Vineyards we chose in our two weeks of discovery!  Being avid red wine lovers, we turned towards the Comtessa Red… a wine described as off-dry and easy to drink. 

We liked this wine as well, but not as much as the Habitant Blanc.

The worst part?  Jost doesn’t ship to the USA!  I already have a list for my boyfriend to bring back with him.  This wine is too good to pass up!

Lunenburg County Winery - Nova Scoita

So, as you all may or may not know, I have recently returned from a wonderful 2 weeks in Nova Scotia, Canada.  While exploring the countryside, seeing the country’s beautiful sites, hiking and driving, my boyfriend and I also participated in one of our favorite pastimes: drinking wine.

Lunenburg County Winery was one of our victims. 

I was immediately intregued by Lunenburg County Winery’s (from now on referred to as LCW) source for creating their many different wines.  Instead of grapes, LCW uses different fruits.  From blueberry to rhubarb, one can certainly find a wine here they will not find anywhere else!

Our choice was simple: Honey Moon Wine.  We wanted a dessert wine that would pair nicely with some warm apple pie, and we chose nicely.

While it was described as medium dry and floral with its distinct honey taste, I definitely found the wine a sweeter, after-dinner choice.  The wine also had a tang, which I assume is the more floral components of the wine.  The tang did not put it at the top of our list for a re-buy, however definitely gave us a nice sipping wine for a cuddle and a nice movie.

If one does get to travel to Nova Scotia, I highly recommend traveling down to the area the winery is situated in.  Towns such as Lunenburg and Mahone Bay are beautiful places for a calm vacation, especially since the country is really vibrant at that time.

Another close choice of ours was their Kings Kiwi.  This wine is apparently made from 100% Nova Scotian kiwis and is their most popular and innovative wine.  Unfortunately we could only make one choice, but I’d say this one would be a great one to have as well!