Brazin’ “(B)Old Vine” Zinfandel (2012)

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20141014_215152Brazin’ “(B)Old Vine”

Zinfandel

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: California: Dry Creek Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $16 

What they say about it:

“The 2012 Brazin Zinfandel is big, bold and offers aromas of rich black fruit and mocha that mingle with hints of spice and soft vanilla. Intense, ripe plum and jammy blackberry rock the palate of this daring Zinfandel. Balanced acidity and lingering tannins add complexity, concentration and depth to the finish.”

What I say about it:

I have been a fan of Brazin’s Zinfandels for years. They are great affordable easy to drink and find reds for anyone that enjoys big, bold and spicy wine. This was my first spotting of the 2012 Dry Creek Valley so I picked up a few bottles.

So out of the bottle and into the glass….

The color of the wine is garnet to purple. Clean to the rim with short legs in the glass. The nose of the wine is full of rich bold features: smoke, leather, spice, pepper, ripe cherries, plums and a slight musk. The taste of the wine is full of cherries, blackberries and red fruit with slight cocoa, leather, oak, vanilla, violet and a touch of lavender. It has a medium finish with soft tannins and was slightly sweet at first but after breathing less sweet and more off dry.

In general it’s another big, bold and spicy Zin from Brazin that is easily recommended. This wine pairs well with any red meat dishes, especially anything grilled, and anything zesty (curry for example). For cheese pairings I would recommend Parmesan, Aged Cheddar, Aged Gouda, Asiago, or Dry Jack.

Would Bukowski drink it?  I am bold and old so hell yeah. 

Overall Rating: 3 BUKS

3-BUKS

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Wine and Cheese Pairing

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Wine and Cheese Pairing Wheel. Double Click to open a larger version.

“Wine and cheese go together like broads, booze and the ponies”

– Charles Bukowski

OK that’s not a real quote from Mr. Bukowski but it does have the right sentiment. I love pairing wine and cheeses but it can be a little intimidating for some. This handy little Wine and Cheese Pairing Wheel is a helpful reference. I hope you’ll give it a try and explore some new wine and cheese pairings.

 

Wine Basics – An Overview

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Wine

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How such a simple thing as fermented grape juice has become a beverage that can strike fear into the hearts of those asked to choose the wine for dinner, especially when out on a date, amazes me. Red or white? Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc? Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel? Dry or Fruity? New World or Old World? How the hell should I know?

Wine is easily intimidating but equally as easily demystified. So relax. Here is a basic primer for wine, wine tasting and terminology.

Types of Wine and Finding One You Like

When you browse the wine aisle of your super market, liquor store or my god, visit a wine shop, it can be confusing and intimidating. Think of it like this though, they are all just options of the same thing – fermented grape juice. In this way, it should be no more confusing or intimidating that the juice aisle, picking Pepsi over Coke, rootbeer over ginger ale or Coors Light over Heineken®. It really comes down to a personal preference. There is no right or wrong. Trial and error is one the best ways to learn what you like, and with wine, well you get a buzz so that’s a plus right?

Some Basics of Wine Tasting

WineTastingThere are tons of books, blogs, classes, videos and more to learn how to taste, describe, evaluate and articulate (a five dollar word for “say”) what you are tasting. From my own personal experience, you can learn a lot from going to a tasting at a local wine shop, reading reviews like those on Would Bukowski Drink It?, even just reading the little shelf talker card in front of the wine you bought and the bottle itself, and then making comparisons while you try the wine. The most common thing I hear people say is, “I don’t know anything about wine”. Well OK, I had no idea what Phad Thai was until I was 24 years old and now I eat all sorts of Thai dishes at least once or twice a week. You learn from experiencing, trying and with wine doing so with others is a great way to compare. I know I’ve learned a lot from my group of friends with whom I enjoy wine.

The basics are Color (Look), Nose (Smell) and Taste (Drink it).

wine-colorColor is basically what you see visually. So pour a glass and what do you see? For a white wine, is it yellow, yellow-green, clear or bright. For a red wine is it purple, ruby-red, or slightly rusty colored. What you see is probably the most objective. Tilting the glass, looking straight down the glass, holding it up to the light, viewing from the side, swirling your wine and comparing it to something white, are all ways to help evaluate the wine visually. Another common note when expressing what you see are the “legs” or “tears” that form in the glass when you swirl. These are those lines the wine may form on the edge of the glass that look like streaks as the wine rolls back into the bottom of the glass. Wines that have “long legs” are wines with higher alcohol and glycerin, which usually mean that they are fuller, bigger, mouth-filling and dense than those that do not. I associate wines with “long legs” being more “jammy”.

red wine tasting manThe Nose is what you’d expect, time to sniff and smell the wine. To me the Nose of a wine is even more subjective than the taste. There is no end to the smells and what those smells evoke. So give that wine a good sniff. Some will shove their nose into the glass and give a deep sniff. You can also just hover above the glass and take short sniffs. Whatever works for you. The most common descriptors for the Nose are usually broken into Fruits, Floral, Herbs, Spices, Woods and Smokiness, and Earthiness. Some will also say the primary aromas and secondary aromas. Basically what you smell first and what comes second or as an aftertaste, but in this case, let’s call it an aftersmell. So go for it. What do you smell exactly? Does the that first wiff make you think of fruit? What kind of fruit? Is it Strawberry or Raspberries? Is it Orange or Grapefruit? Does this wine really smell like my leather motorcycle jacket I wore to that Iron Maiden concert in 1986? I recently watched the 2012 documentary Somm and Master Sommelier Ian Cauble describes one wine’s nose as “that smell when you open a new can of tennis balls”. So go for it.  Remember you taste with your nose as well as your tongue so what you smell has a big influence on what you taste. Take your time here, describe what you smell and enjoy the wine. There’s plenty of time to just down a glass later.

856519-taste-wine-glassesTaste. OK, you’ve described what you see and smell, now you finally get to drink it. For now, I’ll avoid the proper way to drink wine when tasting. Some suck the wine up like they are drinking it through a straw. Do this if you feel it necessary, but most can take a sip and let it flow over their tongue and get the same impressions. The Taste of the wine will again be defined in many of the same ways as the Nose or smell, fruity (what fruits? plum, watermelon or black berries), spice (what spice? clove or cinnamon or vanilla), earthiness (slate, wet earth, peat), smokiness (tobacco, leather) and wood (oak). Having given the wine a good sniff, you already have some direction. Many of the smells will correspond with the taste. Some may be amplified and some more subtle. The finish is something else to consider. Does the taste seem to linger in your mouth (long finish) or did it simply pop, disappear and fade? Was the wine sweet or dry?

Other things to evaluate are the level of Alcohol, Acidity and the Balance of the wine.

So take your time each time you try a new wine and when you take that first taste, describe what you see, smell and taste. Before you know it you’ll have your own vocabulary to describe what you’ve experienced. Note what you like or don’t like. Do you tend to like big bold spicy reds or fruit oaked whites? These likes and dislikes will lead you on your way to knowing more about wine and what wine you’ll enjoy.

Suggestions for Wine Pairing

wine-and-food-pairing-chartThe age-old question – Red or White?

Justin Wilson was the host of a Cajun cooking show on PBS when I was a kid. He used to say “People always wanna know, Joos-tain, w’at kinna wine go wit w’at? Well, Ah say, da kinna wine you like!”. In general I could’t agree more. Yes, there are conventions to consider, red with red meat, white with white meat, but although this is a goo

d starting point, there are no rules. Again it comes down to a personal preference. I have had Pinot Noir wines with grilled Chilean sea bass that were a perfect match. I have also had Rosé with BBQ that made my mouth water. For me Beaujolais Nouveau, a red wine, is the perfect match for turkey, for all purposes a white meat.

There are plenty of widely accepted pairings such as oysters and champagne, red wine and dark chocolate, but personal preference and experimentation, as well as recommend

from your wine merchant, are all good ideas. For a good quick read on wine and food pairings, I recommend this article from Food & 

GrapesInGlass

Wine. Many of my reviews, list some recommendation for pairings as well.ation

The bottom line is to drink the wine you like. Remember in the end it is just fermented grape juice.

Would Bukowski Drink It? wine shelf talkers in Seattle grocery stores.

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I am pleased to announce that reviews from Would Bukowski Drink It? will be featured on shelf talkers in the wine sections at Marketime Foods and Ken’s Markets in the Fremont and Phinney Ridge neighborhoods in Seattle WA. I frequent Marketime and they are a common source for wines I review. So if you live in the area, you can soon choose your wines by my 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Buk ratings and comments soon. Just look for Bukowski’s face! Thanks to Greg Stiles from Marketime.

Corvidae “Rook” (2012)

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2012 RookCorvidae “Rook”

Red Blend:  52% Merlot / 43% Cabernet Sauvignon / 5% Syrah

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: Washington State: Columbia Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $15

What they say about it:

“The Rook’ 2012 was made to showcase the world-class Merlot grown in the cooler, higher elevation sites located in the Columbia Valley and Yakima Valley. The wine was aged in mostly neutral French oak to enhance the rich flavors from an exceedingly stellar vintage.”

What I say about it:

Being October and the season of all things Halloween, I was drawn to the striking image of a crow by artist David Ladmore on the label of the 2012 Rook from Corvidae Winery. Ladmore’s artist statement states “My work is a response to the beauty and simplicity of the things I find around me. In figure and landscape, careful study reveals the undercurrents and rhythms of existence.”. This sounds like an appropriate outlook for wine-making and wine tasting as well.

So without further waxing poetic, out of the bottle and into the glass….

The color of the 2012 Rook is a bright plum purple. Clear to the edge and full of vibrant hues. Medium to long legs due to the 14.1% alcohol content. The nose of the wine is smoky with oak in the forefront with touches of tobacco, spice, cherries, wet earth and stone with cocoa on top. Very pleasant and warming. Perfect for this time of the year when the nights get a little crisper. The taste is peppery but again with the French oak and cherry in the forefront followed by other red fruits (raspberry) as well as leather, smoke, slight clove and currants. The finish is medium to long as well as slightly dry with lingering soft well developed tannins.

Being a devote Merlot hater (blame Sideways), I was surprised after tasting to discover the blend was 52% Merlot. I had guessed higher Syrah but lower Cab percentages. Perhaps the notes from the winery on the cooler, higher elevation create a more appealing Merlot to my palate, since I usually find them to be bland and too predictable. The Cab and Syrah that balance out the remaining blend also make the Rook a very drinkable and enjoyable red blend. Easily recommended and a good deal for under $20.

For pairings, the 2012 Rook would go nicely with slightly drier cheeses (Manchego, Grana Padana) as well as robut soft cheeses (Blue, Gorganzola, Cambozola) and of course any salted cured meats (salami, prosciutto, etc.); but what doesn’t?

Notes on the Winery:

Corvidae is Owen Roe’s value-driven second label. Much of the fruit for Corvidae is sourced from Owen Roe’s 280-acre Outlook Vineyard. David O’Reilly is meticulous in the winery and in the vineyard for both Owen Roe and Corvidae.

More info on Corvidae Winery.

Would Bukowski drink it?   I would certainly end up forever crying the blues into a coffee cup in a park for old men playing chess or silly games of some sort. So Rook to Knight blah-blah-blah – give me another glass. 

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

Le Vieille Ferme Recolte (2013)

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20140415_193345Le Vieille Ferme Recolte

Rosé:  Grenache, Syrah nad Cinsault (blend % not listed)

YEAR: 2013

REGION: France: Rhone

AVERAGE RETAIL: $8-10

What they say about it:

“The wine has a beautiful rose color, a flora nose with hnts of aniseed and brown sugar. The mouth is on notes of white flowers, cherries and fruit drops. The finish is fresh and balanced. 

What I say about it:

It was another Thai night in the Kurtiak/Jones household so that meant a search for a Rosé wine for dinner. I have had the Le Vieille Ferme Recolte on many occasions and thought a proper review was in order. It’s a relatively inexpensive wine easily found at wine shops and markets alike. At $10 or less, it’s a very drinkable Rosé wine.

So out of the bottle and into the glass…. The color of the wine is blush pink with the grenache tone coming through the most (more red than amber). It’s clean and clear to the rim. The nose of the wine is sweet with berry notes, sweet blossoms, and a slight touch of watermelon.

The tasting notes include cherries, berries, with slight acid, and lots of caramel brown sugar and tartness. It’s what you expect in a Rosé on the sweeter side. Easily drinkable and it compliments spicier meals and reminds me that it’s Spring with days outside and BBQ around the corner. 

Would Bukowski drink it? Come on Dave, $8 bucks? I am in. 

Overall Rating: 3 BUKS

3-BUKS