Photos from the road (A Real Texas Sunset)

This is a Real Texas Sunset!

Today was a beautiful day in East Texas. I spent most the day in the far reaches of the “Piney woods” near Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Tx
I discovered a new road in a very secluded area that would be perfect for testing the agility and performance of your car, however I am keeping that location a secret!
Was another long day on the road, but coming home to this sight made it all seem worth while. I had to share such a beautiful sight!

Brown Bag Wine Night “Pinot Shminot”


A group of Dallas wine enthusiast, including myself, have started this tradition where we meet at a BYOB restaurant and each person brings a bottle of wine. The wine is wrapped in a discrete brown bag and we all taste the wines blind later disclosing what they are after everyone has sampled the wine.
This time we met at Kozy’s Kitchen http://www.twigproductive.com/kozy/
I loved this venue and it really lived up to its name. The place is really “Kozy” and the food was spectacular. I had Buffalo Tacos which can be seen here.
A great food to load up on before a wine tasting!

Kate Lynch wrote an awesome post about Kozys that I could not agree with more you can read that here. http://kateolynch.com/home/kozy-kitchen/
I really hope that we do another tasting here at Kozy’s I really liked the place!

Now back to the Wines:
We always have criteria for what we are to bring and this time the tasting was with “Pinot”
I have struggled with Pinot Noir for a long time. Mainly because of the price points and quality for the price. Many I have talked to about my lack of excitement for this varietal look at me like I have a 3rd eye or some other odd appendage growing out of my head when I tell them that I just don’t get what other see in the grape.
I argue the point that the American wine drinking public did not really know about Pinot Noir till the movie Sideways came out where the co-star of the show Miles made the comment that he would not drink Merlot and preferred Pinot Noir over any other wine. Now where people got this movie incorrect was that Miles would not drink Merlot because of an emotional connection he had with his divorced wife. And Pinot being the complete opposite end of the spectrum was a great alternative. Most of the wine drinking public did not get the point being made in this movie and many felt that it was a push for Pinot Noir.
Sales for Pinot Noir did increase by over 20% in the first few months after the movie was released back in 2004.
I am on my soap box about this because this is a major factor in why I am just not “into Pinot” like many others are. I do drink Pinot Noir from time to time and have had (before this tasting) a few good Pinot Noirs but what you get for what you pay for is a hard sell to me.
So me going into this tasting was somewhat of a struggle.
Now I did my homework on Pinot Noir, I sampled lots of Pinot Noirs from all over the world got recommendations from many helpful people, but all in all I just could not find a Pinot Noir to bring that I could say “I love this wine!”  All the things that people said they loved about Pinot Noir I just did not find impressive. I did have a Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley and a Pinot Noir from Chile that I really liked and did not mind drinking, but when the date for our BBWN was approaching I could not come up with a wine for me.
My decision at the last minute was to  completely blow everyone out of the water with a “Pinot” except this was a 2009 Chandon Pinot Meunier from Carneros region of California
 Now one thing I will point out about this grape, Many would never have even tried this wine because it was a grape varietal they were not familiar with. This is one of the 3 grapes used to make Champagne with. It is similar to Pinot Noir however the taste profile is completely different. And honestly, some said that they were able to pick it out of the line up, but in all honesty I think maybe only 1 or 2 could.
The reason why I brought a Pinot Meunier instead of Pinot Noir was because on Twitter when we were all setting up the criteria for this event I was the only one arguing about doing a blind tasting of Pinot. Terry @Friscokid49  and I went round and round about doing something other than Pinot Noir. At the end I gave in realizing that I was the only one who did not want this varietal so I said “Ok, thats fine lets just do Pinot” Terry Agreed and the Night was set. We all know that day the rebellious “Texian” in me came out… as I was following the rules set just not the intent of the rules :) Come to find out another person who was ill that day had plans on bringing a bottle of Pinot Meunier so that made me feel a little better. I sure wish he had been there, as that would have been someone else in my corner that night :)

I brought my electric wine opener that I thought would come in handy. Since the last meet up there were some issues getting the bottles open since the restaurant only had 1 corkscrew. This wine opener was given to me by my Aunt and Uncle as an anniversary present a few months back and honestly I had not had any issues opening wine bottles until that night. I made a complete fool of myself trying to open the bottle of wine Melanie (The Dallas Wine Chick) brought (which I should have known was going to be aged) as you can see here this is what happened!

The corkscrew striped out of the cork and we tried everything to get the cork out…sadly this is what resulted…

It had to be filtered and decanted into a pitcher…forget the brown bag….

The wines that tatsed were:

The Four Graces 2009 Oregon Pinot Noir

Acrobat 2010 Oregon Pinot Noir

Windsor Sonoma 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Bearboat 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Decoy by Duckhorn 2010 Sonoma County Pinot Noir

Chandon 2009 Pinot Meunier -Mine :D

Nuits St. Georges  2007 Burgundy

Retour 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Check out Kate Lynch’s blog for better pics and descriptions of the wines from her perspective. She really did a great job on the descriptions of the wines. http://kateolynch.com/home/wine-wednesday-60/

One thing I noticed about Pinot Noir was that it needs lots of time to breath. After opening and letting them get a little air the wines were still not as drinkable as we all expected. Also too the wine glasses that Kozys provided did nothing for the wines as you can see here thanks to Melanie who was proactive enough to bring REAL wine glasses that made a complete difference in the taste of the wines. It made me wonder if the reason why I might not be “into Pinot” is because I do not have the right glass….After tasting and re-tasting all these wines I came down to my top 3.

1. Decoy by Duckhorn 2010 Sonoma County Pinot Noir – I really liked the fruit and syrup like texture that was coming out of this wine when I discovered what it was I was very impressed as I have found it as low as 15.99 in a few stores. And for that price point I would not hesitate picking up a bottle of this wine.

2. Chandon 2009 Pinot Meunier – This wine really impressed me. Terry and myself both agreed it was allot like drinking a Dr Pepper with a little bit of vanilla in the finish. Later after the wine breathed more we could tell that there was an interesting sarsaparilla (root beer) flavor coming out as well. We all agreed it was a “Soda wine.” Being the #Bteam wino that I am I was very impressed by this wine even though it was not a Pinot Noir. And I pointed out to a few people that most would have never tried this wine if I would not have brought it.

3. Retour 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – Now this wine really shocked me. If someone would not have told me that this was a Pinot Noir I would have thought it to be a different grape. There was a very unique lavender hint on the nose which I at first thought “Ok who just put lotion on their hands and touched my glass!” The wine was not light bodied like I have had from all the other Pinot Noirs and the acid was very much balance quite possibly from the age. I was shocked to find out that it was from Willamette because all the Pinots I have tasted from that region are always acidity first and fruit second. I really loved this wine. It made me wonder if all the other Pinot Noirs I have tasted have been the “bad Pinots” that many talk about. I know for myself that this wine really made me rethink Pinot Noir. The price point was the highest of the lineup ($80s) but I would have paid that price for this wine if I had known the quality behind it.
In the past I have been burned with over priced Pinot Noirs so Im always cautious. Leave it to Melanie to teach me a lesson!
I came out of the tasting learning:

1.Willamette Valley is pronounced “Will-amit” Thanks to Justin’s friend Chad who taught us this very important fact. He said just think of saying “Damn-it” and add “Will” before it! A cleaver tip! Thanks Chad!

2.The right glass with Pinot Noir is VERY VERY important.

3.If you want good Pinot you are going to have to spend some money from an established producer (one who was making and growing quality Pinot Noir before the movie Sideways came out) The money spent will be worthy of the price.

This tasting did make me rethink Pinot Noir as a good wine, I just have to know what Im doing to find it. We all need a Dallas Wine Chick to help us stretch and grow a little! Thank you Melanie!

But with all sincerity,  I just want to know when a movie about Mencia will be coming out so that the wine drinking public will all want to drink wines from the Bierzo region of Spain! :)

Classic Malbec


Classic Malbec? Maybe you are asking yourself, “What is that?” I know I certainly said that when I was browsing for wine the other day. The wine label was very odd and I noticed later online that many of the well-established producers in Mendoza have a “Classic line” of wines along with their “Reserva” and other higher quality selections. However here in the USA you might not see a “Classic” Label anywhere most the Malbec for sale are “Reserva”
So does this mean that Classic is lower quality than Reserva?
IN NO WAY!
matter of fact, I did some research into the labeling and discovered that many Bodegas in Argentina refer to the classic label as a wine that reflect the Bodegas and winemakers style not so much terrior. Sometimes the wines (particularly the reds) will have little to no oak. Most of the time this is what you would call the “House wine” however as I have been told from several friends that have visited South American Wineries, do not be fooled by the name “house wine”
This Alta Vista Classic Malbec was no exception, a complete different Malbec experience than what  I am used to! I was shocked to actually taste a somewhat mocha/coffee presence as well as some red and dark berry action in this wine. Tannins were very soft and the finish very supple. The whole wine was balanced and honestly I could have paired it with almost anything and it would have worked.  That night this wine paired well with my Birthday cake!

One thing I wanted to point out is that this wine was only $9.00 and was totally a unique experience compared to the mass marketed Malbecs out there. A true steal of a wine in my opinion.

This Producer http://www.altavistawines.com/ is a very well know and well established winery in Alta Vista, Mendoza, Argentina. And I have tried several wines from them at all price ranges. The Classic Label Torrontes is one of my Favorite white wines right now. If you See Alta Vista on the shelf no matter what it is, I can almost promise you it is worth buying a bottle to taste. Their higher end Corte A, Corte B and Corte C are mostly “kitchen sink blends” that for the price points will blow you away. Since the boom of South American wines here in the US, I feel that these guys kind of took a back seat into the US market however I feel from what I have tasted of their wines, they definitively reflect what made wine from Argentina great!

Zucchini Fettuccine Alfredo

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I know many of you have been wondering where I have been and specially for the lack of post for the past few week, Life has been crazy and when your on the road allot sometimes you just do not have time to sit down and blog when you so desperately need to.

Several Months back I read a tweet from a friend about making Fettuccine Alfredo with Zucchini instead of noodles the wife and I thought we would try this and see how it worked, we had attempted this before but our first attempt was a mess as we over cooked the zucchini.
So basically here is what you do,
take about 6-10 zucchini (yes I know thats allot) and slice them longways only a centimeter thick (at the most) If your really good with a peeler you can use that instead but depending on the peeler used you might have to take your time.
Prepping is the hardest part of this whole thing.
Then you take zucchini that was sliced and cook them in an open skillet till they become a noodle-like consistency.  Image

Then my little secret that I use (dont tell anyone) is that I take the noodles/zucchini and rinse them with cold water. This stops them from continuing to cook and seems to make them a little rubbery which is what you want. I added sliced and seasoned chicken and Alfredo sauce and there ya go! A gluten free Noodle alternative to Fettuccine Alfredo.

I paired a
2009 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay and

and

2003 Azienda Agricola Romana Carlo Dolcetto di Dogliani Brich dij Nor (I know what a name)

First the Chardonnay
I was attempting to go for a semi-oaky Chardonnay to see if this would pair well with my Alfredo sauce but I was very dissapointed in this wine. Not because it was a bad wine. It is very well priced and well worth the $12.00 price tag. I was just hoping for more oak and malolactic.
Sadly this wine is moving along with the trends of this “no oak in my chardonnay” movement which has taken the world by storm. Somehow I feel the same people that told you Merlot is evil and that Pinot Noir was better came up with another statement. “Oak in Chardonnay is bad!” (Or “malo. es Malo!”)
I have said this many times to many people, “I am not afraid of a little oak in my Chardonnay”, I do not like allot of oak nor am I advocating “cougar juice” but a little bit does not hurt and sometimes depending on the region the chardonnay needs oak.
I had a Russian River Valley Chardonnay the other day which was unoaked and you could tell that the grapes used were in previous vintages oaked or semi-oaked. The wine was all out of place I thought I was drinking a Chardonnay from Texas :)
I have noticed on the back of many California Chardonnays they are now using phrases like “restrained oak” or “minimal oak” or even taking out the word oak and using phrases like “Honey or nutty” Its like they think that we dont want that in every single bottle of Chardonnay we buy.
The point I am making is that some Chardonnays need oak to enhance what they are, not to mention with creamy dishes like this oak blends nicely.
Now this wine had allot of tropical fruits and bright acidity, I liked this by itself as opposed to eating it with food.
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Now The Dollcetto
I will be honest, I did not even know of Dolcetto till I tried it at a Texas vs New York wine “competition” (I use competition in quotes because…well thats a long story) back in 2009
The Dolcetto was from Duchman family winery http://duchmanwinery.com/ and if I was not mistaken was an 08 vintage. I had later tried a lighter version of Dolcetto which was from Italy on a #bteam twitter tasting where Dolcetto was grape we discussed. The wine was always light and very soft similar to a Pinot Noir.
However this 03 Piedmont Dollcetto was made with MASSIVE tannin extraction. lots of dark fruits but I was shocked at how much tannin was in this wine. It reminds me of the different styles that I see with Mencia from the Bierzo region. Some are soft and light others have massive tannin extraction like this wine.
The acidity was still very much alive even though his was an 2003
The Romana Carlo Dolcetto paired better with the Zucchini Alfredo than the Chardonnay, and I might add was a much softer animal to drink on the 2nd day in the decanter.
For a price point of about $16.00 this wine was very much a steal!

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All in all I had a great time trying new things. My whole mindset is to always be adventurous and never settle for the status quo. I like to try the wines and foods that are unique and different than what is normally out there, maybe this Chardonnay and Dolcetto were not prime examples of living on the edge but you defiantly see that I am trying!
Next time your in the mood for something different try Zucchini noodles instead of Alfredo noodles. Specially if you are counting carbs and Calories this is a great alternative!

What were they thinking?

Yesterday morning, I woke up earlier than normal and had to drive out to a very remote location. I was so tired, Ive been on the road allot the past few days, that even a very large energy drink could not help me any. Just when you think things are boring and that everything “sucks” you come across something like this!
Apparently someone thought that wrapping their water line in their underwear would keep it from freezing. It was just one of those things where you look back and go…. WOW! what were they thinking! I mean seriously. that is not going to work!

Hope that you get the same response that I got when I first saw this! :D