I know you would never believe this, but I uncork or unscrew a new wine adventure just about every day. Being a wine enthusiast, a wine blogger, and someone who thoroughly appreciates and enjoys the liquid expression of a place, a person’s vision, and Mother Nature’s influence, I often tell people that wine is one of the most intriguing beverages in the world. It’s a hobby where there is always something new to taste and learn as well as great people to meet in real life or via those wonderful social media portals called Facebook and Twitter.
Below are a few of my recent sips -- two Pinot Noir wines and one Pinotage. In my opinion, with Pinot Noir, you will generally get what you pay for. It’s not the easiest grape to grow or produce and it is rather picky about where it will thrive. Twenty [something] dollars is typically the starting point for decent entry-level selections from top Pinot Noir wine producing regions. Pinotage, which is a uniquely South African grape variety, is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. This creation [Pinotage] reiterates the fact that Pinot Noir is picky about where it wants to be grown. All three wines are pretty good for their respective price points, but if you look a bit online you may be able to find them a little cheaper. Variety, so they say, is the spice of life, so keep an open mind and an open palate and enjoy the experience. Drink well, my friends!
Boedecker Cellars Athena 2009 Pinot Noir
1) Boedecker Cellars Athena 2009 Pinot Noir (SRP $34): My recent piano playing adventure may have lacked harmony, but this Pinot Noir did not. I picked it up at Arrowine (for $30), here in Arlington, Virginia. For you locals, besides having a very good wine selection, this wine shop has a nice cheese, meats, and fine nibbles selection, too. During my visit, I also picked up a pack of rosemary lamb sausage that’s made by Simply Sausage in Landover, Maryland. Medium garnet in color, this is a well-balanced wine with aromas and flavors of expansive black cherries, raspberry jam, dried flowers, and sweet spice notes. On the sip, she’s medium-bodied with a round and soft palate and a medium-length smooth finish. The wine and sausage (with a side of wild mushroom risotto) played very well together -- accentuating the flavors in one another; which in the end, is a win. Click here to find this wine.
Ampelos Lambda 2008 Pinot Noir
2) Ampelos Lambda [The Magnitude] 2008 Pinot Noir ($34): A harmonious and delectable Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara’s Santa Rita Hills that’s nicely structured and velvety [textured], that exhibits a deep garnet color with a dark cherry character, blue tones, hints of allspice, and mild earth-like nuances on the lingering finish. I recently enjoyed a glass of this, both on its own and with smoked duck breast. Ampelos Cellars is a small, family-owned [low-intervention grower and wine producer] winery that’s located in the Santa Rita Hills that hit my palate radar a few years ago and I have since enjoyed several of their Pinot Noir wines. I found this selection here locally at UnWined wine shop in Alexandria, Virginia. Only 41 barrels of this wine were produced. Click here to find this wine.
Lions' Drift 2009 Silkbush Mountain Vineyard Pinotage
3) Lion’s Drift 2009 Silkbush Mountain Vineyard Pinotage (SRP $18): This is a nice selection from South Africa's Western Cape that everyone at the table thoroughly enjoyed. Pinotage is largely unique to South Africa and is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut – or we could say where Burgundy meets the southern Rhone. Pinotage was bred at Stellenbosch University in the 1920’s and came to prominence some four decades later after winning numerous awards and garnering local attention. You can say I have a love-hate relationship with the variety. Pinotage can throw some unexpected sharp elbows (harsh acidity) and its meatiness/smokiness can overwhelm. However, when everything is in harmony, including the smoke, wild game, acid balance, tannins, and fruit – it can be a very appealing wine (especially with something like pan roasted duck breast). It’s also, one of very few red wine grapes – similar in a sense to Gamay (Beaujolais), which can produce aromas/flavors (e.g., white stone fruits) associated with white grape varieties. This Pinotage has a nice brightness about it; with pleasant cranberry and raspberry aromas/flavors that are complemented by purple stone fruit undertones with soft anise notes and a pinch of [vanilla spiced] toasted nuts. It hides the 14.5% ABV rather well (good balancing act), ending with sweet tannins in the medium-length finish. Click here to find this wine.
My backyard feathered friend: American Goldfinch
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