Wine Reveiw: 2015 Crush Smooth Red Blend, Apothic

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I read the news today, oh boy….

Bill Paxton died on Saturday.  He was 61.

I read the news on Twitter and I couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t particularly old. He wasn’t a drug addict. He wasn’t grossly overweight. He died of complications following  heart surgery.

The past year has brought us a mass die off of celebrities.  Most of them didn’t cause me too much grief but I am bothered by the death of Bill Paxton.

His magic was in seeming like such a benign and regular guy but his work was anything but benign and regular.

I loved Bill Paxton in Tombstone and A Simple Plan but in 2001, when I saw the movie Frailty, I took a step back and said, “gawd damn…”

It is because of these films that I watched the HBO series, Big Love and, because of that show, I discovered The Black Keys.

A mutual love of The Black Keys is one of the first excuses Xavier and I had to chat on facebook way back in the day.

Last night Xavier and I decided get a bottle of wine and watch Tombstone to honor the passing of Bill Paxton.

I was in the mood for something sweet and wanted to try Beringer Red Moscato.  The liquor store down the street had it a few weeks ago but last night it was sold out.

It turned out to be fortuitous because the wine we got instead was fantastic! 

2015 Apothic Crush.

Just to avoid any confusion, this is a dry red wine and bares no resemblance to Moscato.

What it is, however, is damn delicious!

Apothic wine is bottled in Modesto, CA and let me tell ya, California tastes just fine.

Crush is a smooth and incredibly tasty dry red that makes it all too easy to keep refilling the glass. Their website says Crush tastes like caramel and chocolate and I say that it doesn’t disappoint.  If you haven’t tried this, you’re missing out. Seriously.

I love red wine with red meat and yesterday I spent eight hours slaving over a hot crock pot making a kick ass pot roast for our Sunday dinner. Of course the dog is waiting patiently for his left overs while the cat is more interested in the wine and keeps trying to put her face and/or paw into Xavier’s glass.

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Apothic Crush is Murphy dog approved.

Apothic is not messing around when it comes to alcoholic content and Crush is 14.5% alcohol.  Despite it’s heavyweight status, I experienced none of the problems that a lesser quality wine would have caused.  No icky feeling. No headache. No intestinal complaints. Honestly, didn’t really even feel all that tipsy.  I appreciate a wine that I can enjoy without paying for it the next day. It cost about $12 but is absolutely worth it.  Don’t waste money on poor quality wine that leaves you feeling crappy.  Spend a few extra bucks on the good stuff.

 My review of this Apothic Crush is simple.  Go buy it, it’s good.

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Orchid Cellar Meadery & Winery in Middletown, MD

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Orchid Cellar Meadery & Winery. Middletown, MD

On February 19th, Xavier and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary by visiting Orchid Cellar Meadery & Winery for a tasting followed by a drive around Harper’s Ferry to look for cool abandoned houses and later in the evening we had an outstanding dinner at Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge in Germantown.

Mead is a peculiar substance that lays somewhere on the spectrum between wine and bourbon.  It is made from honey and generally weighs in at around 17% alcohol.  A little bit of Meade goes a long way.

Orchid Cellar Meadery & Winery charges only $7 for a general tasting and they let you keep the glass!

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On the menu is an impressive selection of handcrafted Mead, wine, and honey wine. I can guarantee that you won’t be tasting anything like this anywhere else.

The honey brings a unique flavor that may seem foreign at first but it doesn’t take long to go from, “Oh, this is different.” to “Why is my glass empty?!?!”

For more information on the finer points of Mead and how it differs from wine, I highly recommend reading their FAQ page.

 

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Orchid Cellar Meadery & Winery. Middletown, MD

This wonderfully decrepit barn is just down the road from Orchid Cellar.

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Old Barn. Middletown, MD. Photo by d.Nelle Vincent

Venturing across the river into Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, we found several terrific specimens of abandoned house.

When I lived in New Mexico, I would never be satisfied with photographing abandoned houses from the side of the road.  I would be all up in there, risking my life climbing stairs that would were barely standing and tromping over dead animals and piles of rat poo to take a good look around and to get the best photos.

In this part of the country, many of these houses are inhabited by vagrants and/or surrounded by No Trespassing signs and, more often than not, there is an overly protective neighbor within eye shot who has already written down your license plate number. Ergo, it is necessary to exhibit a bit more restraint when photographing abandoned houses in the east.

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Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. Photo by d.Nelle Vincent

This house is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. I stayed at the fence but I could totally see some awesome stuff through that broken window. Sadly, no way to get the shot from so far away.

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Abandoned house. Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. Photo by d.Nelle Vincent
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Abandoned house. Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. Photo by d.Nelle Vincent

This house, on the other hand, had no fence and was conveniently missing the front door. There was a No Trespassing sign nailed to a tree but I didn’t actually go inside and was speedy like The Flash so no photographers were shot during the creation of these images.

Everyone knows it’s bad feng shui for the front door to open onto a staircase and the maleficence oozing from the walls of this house will condensate on your face if you stand there too long. Whatever is in the room at the top of the stairs is just barely contained behind that sorry excuse for a door. Trust me, I know about these things.

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Abandoned house. Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. Photo by d.Nelle Vincent.

Wine Review: Big Red Blend, Dark Horse

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My friend, Kricket, says that she avoids California wine because she doesn’t like the way the ground tastes.

I’m not sure I can relate but let’s run with it anyway. Every time I’ve been to California it leaves me with a renewed light in my heart for New Mexico. Visiting California makes me glad to go home.

But what does California taste like?

Some may argue that it smacks of Botox and carbon monoxide, I would suggest that the benefit to holding such an opinion is in being overheard expressing it by an impressionable fool.

Kricket is not a fool but she thinks what she thinks so I decided to conduct an experiment by trying a wine that is mostly not from California.

Still being on my Dark Horse kick, Big Red Blend was my choice for venturing out into the world of unfamiliar grapes. That’s right, foreign grapes in serious danger of being deported, were brought together in a harmonious blend proving that, despite the varying color of our grape skins, we can in fact all get along.  There is Spanish Tempranillo, Chilean Cab, and Argentinean Malbec in this mix. Coupled with Merlot, Syrah, and Petite Verdot, Dark Horse Big Red Blend is a tall glass of feisty wine ready to pair up with any meal.

We had it with salmon burgers and giant heaps of steamed broccoli.

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I enjoyed the Big Red Blend.  It’s a little bolder than the Pinot Noir (which is my reigning favorite) but still has an enjoyable flavor once you figure out how to drink it.

Xavier and I used our round glasses with the green stems. We bought them at Goodwill for the purpose of enjoying a cold glass of Moscato on the patio during the hot and steamy summer nights here in Easterville. To me, they vaguely resemble cacti and are tacky for sure but they are not the right shape for optimizing a bold red wine.

What I mean by that is if you allow this wine to splash up into the ceiling of your mouth it delivers a bit of an upper cut to the upper pallet. This is really easy to do in a glass of this shape.  If you use a glass with a more narrow opening, it facilitates taking a sip as opposed to a swig.  In this instance, the Big Red Blend goes down smooth like butter.

When asked what he thought of it, Xavier said, “It is reminiscent of DayQuil but if you bought it again I would still drink it.”

Hey, I can’t control what the Hubz says but I thought it was pretty good and never once considered using it as a substitute for cold medicine. As for whether or not it tastes “un-Californian”, I honestly couldn’t say but I would certainly buy it again and would be happy if I went to a party where it was being served.

 

 

Wine Review: 2014 Merlot, Dark Horse

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Dark Horse Merlot: The Yum Continues…

I’m not sure what they mean by “jammy” but if it means chunks of grape residue stuck to the inside of the bottle and settled at the bottom of my glass then, yes, it’s “jammy”.

Tasty? Absolutely.

Goes well with pizza?  Damn skippy!

Penguin-mouth factor? Low, it did not turn my teeth blue.

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I would describe Dark Horse Merlot as a lightweight Merlot.  Not that it’s intended for amateurs but that it’s not as heavy feeling and flavored as other Merlot wines that I’ve sampled. As previously mentioned, it did not give me penguin mouth. Additionally, it didn’t give me a headache either.

Am I supposed to be using terms with universally agreed upon definitions?

Sorry.

It’s a little dark-fruity, a little oaky and, if you squint real hard, maybe a vague notion of molasses. Honestly though, “molasses” is a bit of a stretch.

I am rapidly becoming a fan of Dark Horse wine and, possessing a certain proclivity for being a creature of habit, would probably resort to buying it all the time except for the certain inevitability of running out of stuff to write about.

But not to worry. I’m not in panic mode, yet. There are still a few Dark Horses yet to be explored and, for a wine that continues to be on sale for $8.99, you can’t go wrong here.

 

 

 

Wine Review: 2015 Pinot Noir, Dark Horse

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Always a sucker for cool names and labels, I just had to try some wine from Dark Horse.

While this method of selecting wine frequently does not work out in my favor, this time I got lucky.

After doing some research on their website, I decided to try the Pinot Noir and it did not disappoint!

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This is a velvety smooth and creamy Pinot Noir that actually does bring to mind rose petals and lavender, cherry and just the right amount of oak. (Y’all know I wouldn’t normally say something like that, right?) Give it 30 minutes or so to breathe and get ready to be impressed.

Xavier and I both got home late on this evening, didn’t much feel like cooking, and we paired this wine with popcorn which is not proper or sophisticated but is the reality of real people out there in the real world.

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I think the wine did more for the popcorn than the popcorn did for the wine but in any case we were out of both by the end of the night.

It is not the recommendation of this author for two people to kill entire bottles of wine in one sitting but, you know, sometimes shit happens.  Let’s call it a science experiment.

Here are some other relevant facts.

For those of you who fear the dreaded red wine headache, after three hefty glasses of Dark Horse Pinot Noir I slept like a (comatose) baby and woke up with no headache or hangover. In my personal experience, I have found that higher quality red wines do not give me the ice-pick-through-the-temple, while lesser quality wines leave me reeling from what feels like an open head wound.

For me, taste and headache factor are the measure of money well spent.

Speaking of money, Dark Horse wine is very reasonably priced. I think I paid $8.50 for this bottle. Normally I would consider that a big yellow CAUTION flag but their website claims that renegade wine maker, Beth Liston, has mastered the method of producing top quality wine at affordable prices.

All I can say is: Claim Substantiated.

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Dark Horse Pinot Noir is Murphy dog approved!

Wine Review: 2015 Silk Soft Red Blend, Menage A Trois

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Photo by d.Nelle Vincent

Love. Love. Love.

There’s a new sheriff in town.

This wine is ecstatically delicious.

Seriously, it’s not even fair to the other winemakers of the world.

While Xavier was switched on by the Menage A Trois Gold Chardonnay, in my opinion there is nothing finer than the Silk Soft Red.

This wine is rated at 90 points.  No arguments here.

70% Pinot Noir. 20% Malbec. 10% Petite Sirah

Alchemy in a barrel.

But nothing is simple. To be human is to be caught in moments of conflicting emotions and events.

Earlier in the day Xavier was in a car accident.

Less than a mile from home, on his way to buy me fancy popcorn, Xavier was stopped in traffic when a distracted old lady plowed into the back of his car at 35 miles an hour.

Apparently Mrs. Too Old To Be Driving looked up from her knitting just in time to see to see his taillights and say “Oh Shit!”

She had longer skid marks in her Depends than she left on the road trying not to hit my husband.

She pushed his car 20 feet and into the next lane. Fortunately other drivers were paying attention and no one else hit him during his slide across the road.

Xavier was so excited about this car and had only bought it three weeks prior.  It still had the temporary plates and he had not even made the first payment yet.

While not dead or paralyzed, he is definitely hurt and this situation is a long way from being resolved.

In a real time example of yin and yang, we sat on the couch drinking the most delicious wine in the world while he told me the story and showed me the police report and the photos. Being human, in all it’s conflicting glory.

Two of the most important questions in life are: What will you focus on? and What does it mean?

Could something good come of this seemingly unfortunate turn of events?

Without overplaying my hand, I believe there will be a positive outcome and, when that day arrives, we’ll celebrate with another bottle of Silk Soft Red Blend.

Wine Review: 2015 Chardonnay Gold, Menage A Trois

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Photo by d.Nelle Vincent

Rich. Indulgent. Lavish.

That’s one way to put it.

Xavier and I needed a new wine to try and I chose this one because the picture on the label reminded me of Adele’s Rolling In The Deep video.

Xavier was unimpressed by the comparison and even more unimpressed with Adele.

To be fair, most of her songs make me want to jump out a window but I do enjoy Rolling In The Deep just a teeny tiny bit every now and then.

Remembering a lesson learned from our previous bottle of Chardonnay, I decided to store it outside on the balcony until Xavier got home from the studio.  This way, it would be cool, but not too cold.

When Xavier got home, I showed him the bottle and without missing a beat he said, “Do we have to share it with someone else?”

He’s funny like that.

Menage A Trois Gold is not a wine for the weak of heart or the repressed in spirit.

14.8% alcohol.

Time to pull up the big girl pants.

I liked it but Xavier really liked it.

He is not usually the one repeatedly interrupting the conversation to say, “This is really good!”  But we couldn’t hardly talk about anything else with his constant commentary.

As we finished the last drops in the bottle I heard him say, “Can I get a god DAMN?!?!”

Later, as we were taking our little dog on the final poo-run of the night, I asked him to describe how he thought it tasted.

“Tastes like liquid sex,” he said, “My tongue feels like it needs a cigarette.”

What more is there to say?