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2009 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Pinot Noir Los Carneros

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Right after opening, this wine exhibited some floral notes on the nose. Along with some oak and earthiness, there was good acidity up front. It was a little light on the finish though. After one hour, the wine opened up more and was much brighter. Hints of cherry, vanilla, and spice came through with some smokey character. There was a good medium body with just enough tannins in this wine.

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This pinot noir was a crystal ruby color. As cliche as it sounds, pairing it with juicy meat like crispy duck breast would be delicious.

http://www.robertsinskey.com/

2010 Kendall-Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon Vintner’s Reserve

The full-bodied 2010 Kendall-Jackson cabernet sauvignon tastes of black cherry, blackberry, and currant. Grippy tannins and a little acid give this wine a nice and lingering finish.

This wine pours out a dark inky color, exactly what you’d expect from a cabernet sauvignon. I didn’t think that this needed to decant for very long, but if you have the time, allowing it to breath for some time can open it up a little. Being an affordable but solid wine, I would drink this on a regular basis as well as pair it with all types of meat. It has the body to stand up to a heavy steak as well as the versatility to even complement juicy chicken.

http://www.kj.com/

Riesling Tasting

While reading Karen MacNeil’s Wine Bible (well written, informative, interesting, and just a great book), I reached the section on Germany. The way she described the terroir, the regions of wine making, and the classifications of ripeness was so fascinating that I had to know more. What better way to learn about the different regions than do my own Riesling tasting? I was familiar was the stereotypical sweet sugar-packed Rieslings, which I don’t care much for, but I was intrigued by the Rieslings from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer that grow on the side of its steep hills with limited sunlight.

The next day, I picked up two German Rieslings, one from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and one from Rheingau, and finally one from Alsace to round it out. I was ready to go!

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From left to right, 2010 Leon Manbach Riesling Frankstein Grand Cru, 2011 Kunstler Riesling Estate Dry, and 2011 Fritz Haag Riesling Feinherb.

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First up was the French Riesling from Alsace. This dry Grand Cru tasted somewhat like peaches. There was a good hint of acidity and a nice mineral quality to the wine as well. The most defining characteristic of this wine compared to the others was its spritziness.

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Next was the dry Kunstler Riesling. This was the driest of all three Rieslings. It was quite crisp and clear tasting. This wine was much smoother than its counterpart from Alsace, but it still had a slight harshness and minerality to it. I liked this one the best because it wasn’t sweet and it could be very versatile with pairings.

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Last but not least was the Fritz Haag from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. This wine was very clean and elegant. Compared to the other two, this was the sweetest and tasted more round and balanced. Flavors of pear and peach were evident throughout.

Overall, I would personally go with the Kunstler if I wanted something dry. The Fritz Haag was too sweet for me, but I would definitely recommend it for your typical semi-dry Riesling. I think the Manbach could develop into a really nice Riesling after a few years. This tasting really showed how different Rieslings can taste, depending on the region and terroir. I’ll just need to have another tasting in the future to expand my knowledge and palate.

2008 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

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I decided to celebrate one day and open one of my Silver Oak bottles. I went with the 2008 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

This wine still tasted quite young, even for 2008. It had a full body that would pair well with food and not overpower anything. After opening, it smelled and tasted like it had more alcohol than was listed. The finish of this wine was flat and lacking, definitely leaving something to be desired.

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The color of this wine was a bright warm red and purple color, just like its taste.

Personally, I am not a fan of this wine. There are better Cabernet Sauvignon out there, especially for the price point.

http://www.silveroak.com/

1998 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

1998 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

After popping and pouring, I tasted exactly what it meant to be aged 15 years. This wine had aged and matured nicely; it was still well balanced after so many years. The tannins had diminished along with some of that big fruit taste that California cabs are known for, but overall, it still  kept it structure as a nice and hearty Cabernet Sauvignon.

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After about 30 minutes on a warm summer day, the wine started opening up. It was still smooth going down and more medium-to-full bodied compared to other Cabernet Sauvignons. The color was an intermediate purple hue, not as dark as other cabs but definitely not light. This particular wine might be just past its peak by a couple years, but it was delicious nonetheless.

http://www.corison.com/

2005 Alexander Valley Vineyards Cyrus Red Blend

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2005 Alexander Valley Cyrus Red Blend

Immediately after opening, this red wine felt very tight and enclosed.  It is a dry and full-bodied red wine with solid tannins and nice long finish. After letting it breath for a while, it drank well with flavors of dark cherry, plum, and blackberry  coming through the most.

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Rich and darker ruby color. I would highly recommend decanting for more than one hour and pairing this with red meats and others  that can hold up to the intensity of the wine.

Composition:
76% Cabernet Sauvignon
10% Merlot
10% Cabernet Franc
2% Malbec
2% Petit Verdot

http://www.avvwine.com/

2007 Terra Valentine Cabernet Sauvignon Yverdon Vineyard

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2007 Terra Valentine Cabernet Sauvignon Yverdon Vineyard

Medium to full bodied cabernet sauvignon from the Spring Mountain district of Napa Valley. Tastes of dark berries with medium acidity. Smooth throughout and somewhat fruity. I expect more fruit to develop over time, which I’ll hope to see when I open my second bottle.

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A nice dark purple color with medium legs.

http://www.terravalentine.com/

Off Menu Secrets

When you think about all the great burgers in NYC, a few names will always come up. And in my opinion, you have to differentiate between gourmet and fast food burgers. I absolutely love the burgers at Shake Shack and Minetta Tavern, but you simply can’t compare the two in the same category. Now I have read about the fabled off-menu burger at Gramercy Tavern before, but never got the chance to try since it’s only offered during lunch (and possibly dinner if they don’t run out, but that doesn’t happen very often). Recently, another foodie friend ordered one and told me I had to try it. You know, purely for the sake of trying every available burger out there and then making informed decisions, definitely not because I wanted to…nod nod.

The atmosphere at Gramercy Tavern is great. Whether you dine in the tavern or the dining room, you will have an excellent experience with service to match. However, since the burger is only offered in the tavern, I walked in and made a beeline directly to the bar. I briefly glanced at the menu, but I knew what I was ordering when I woke up that morning.

Burger. Medium-rare. The bartender took the words right out of my mouth when he replied, “Done. And. Done.”

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When the burger was placed in front of me, it was pure art; an arrangement of beautiful colors and shapes just calling out to me. Pure mouthwatering art. The burger patty had the perfect outer crust that was topped with melted oozing cheese and set in between a buttered and toasted wheat bun. A leaf of bibb lettuce, raw and caramelized onions, pickled watermelon rind, and blue potato chips finished out the picturesque plate.

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First, I put my burger together without any of the additional condiments and dove in for a few initial bites. The meat was juicy and well seasoned, but came out more medium than medium rare. Also, it wasn’t the juiciest patty I’ve had, but you can’t really complain when a small pool of meat juices starts forming under your burger. The cheese was full of flavor and just sharp enough to counter the meat. Next, I added caramelized onions to my burger that smoothed out the taste. And finally, I added the pickled watermelon rind. This was my favorite ingredient on the plate by far. The rind added a great crunch to the texture of the burger. It was sweet and sour and balanced perfectly with all the other components of the burger.

One small gripe I had was that the cheese hardened up pretty quickly, giving the burger a somewhat unattractive quality. Maybe I didn’t finish my burger quickly enough, but I doubt that. So if you’re in the vicinity of Gramercy Tavern during lunch time, I  definitely recommend trying their burger. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t find it on the menu, because it won’t be there. Order it anyways. And be sure to try all the condiments on the burger for an overall delicious experience.

http://www.gramercytavern.com/

2005 Rezonja Cabernet Sauvignon

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2005 Rezonja Cabernet Sauvignon

This is a big, dry, and full-bodied cabernet sauvignon from Sonoma with aromas of earth and spice on the nose. On the first night, this wine tasted leatherly with earthy herbs after opening. There was not a lot of fruit coming through on the first night. The second night provided only a slightly smoother finish, still with lingering tannins, and a taste of dark chocolate and blackberry.

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This wine is a full and dark ruby color. It needs at least an hour to open up. I recommend decanting and pairing with red meats.

2008 Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir

I’ve decided to add another wrinkle to this blog and post some of wines I’ve been enjoying. Nothing special, but hopefully the frequency of my updates will pick up.

Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Evenstad Reserve 2008 Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir

Elegant medium-bodied character to this lush and slightly darker colored Pinot Noir. Drank over two days, with increasing complexity. Lots of red berry fruit flavor, especially on the nose, balanced with soft tannins allowed this to drink smoothly with a lingering finish. Great by itself and has enough to be paired well with food.

http://www.domaineserene.com/

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