Wine Review: 2013 Vinters Blend Merlot, Ravens Wood

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Indigo The Crow. Photo by d.Nelle Vincent

Three ways not to get away with murder.

  1. Ensure that you are the beneficiary of the victim’s life insurance policy.
  2. Drug victim before drowning them in the bathtub. Wait two hours then call 911.
  3. Marry jail bait girlfriend less than a week later.

Xavier and I watch Forensic Files while enjoying our wine in the evenings. It is our new favorite show and from it we have learned some valuable tips such as: killing someone for life insurance money is a bad plan and that most murders can be avoided simply by getting divorced.

Why is divorce so expensive?  Because it’s worth it.

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Xavier brought home this bottle of Ravens Wood Merlot as a surprise and, it was indeed surprising.

I had never tried a Merlot because for some reason I thought I wouldn’t like it. Somewhere along the way someone probably told me that they didn’t like Merlot and I just took their word for it.

Ever find yourself in possession of an opinion that is completely unsubstantiated? You know, something along the lines of believing the Earth to be flat or that Jesus rode a pet dinosaur? Yeah, it’s just like that.

So he brings home this bottle of Merlot that I think I won’t like but agree to try anyway and, low-and-behold, turns out to be completely delicious!

Who knew?

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Merlot is the proverbial garlic and Corn-Nuts of wine in the sense that if you have some, your date better have some too.  This is a thick and juicy dark red wine, smooth and positively decadent, and it actually does taste just a very tiny bit like black olives.  I found myself greedily slurping it down like eating grape jelly straight from the jar with a spoon BUT, and pay close attention to this part, it turned the entire inside of my mouth purple.

Not realizing that such a thing would occur, you could imagine my surprise when I went to brush my teeth and found myself looking like Danny DeVito in Batman Returns.

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Dude, nothing says “Kiss Me”, like penguin mouth.

Now, this purple teeth business, I don’t mean to portray it as a deterrent but just some useful information for deciding when and where to enjoy a fine bottle of Merlot.

I say at home and preferably in the dark.

NOT in the car on the way to a first date.

My recommendation: Just like not wanting to be featured in an episode of Forensic Files, exercise a bit of discretion before uncorking the plan and everything will be just fine.

 

 

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Wine Review: 2014 Cabernet Franc, Elk Run Vineyard and Winery

 

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Cabernet Franc, Elk Run Vineyards

This Sunday’s field trip was to Elk Run Vineyards and Winery in Mt. Airy, MD.

Elk Run is much smaller than the previous two wineries Xavier and I have visited.  It is privately owned and operated and the owners live in a normal house at the other end of the driveway. The tasting room is unpretentious in every way; small and cozy and inhabited by an elderly gray cat.

On the surface nothing is fancy.

Until they pour the wine.

Thriving on a diet of magic dirt and unicorn tears, these are some exuberantly happy grapes. “That is fer-damn delicious.”, I said to Xavier while tasting the Cabernet Franc and the bartender let out a little involuntary snort.

We did the general tasting, which is six pre-selected wines for $6 per person.

The thing about a wine tasting is that it seems like just a few harmless sips but by the 6th taste the grapes have started talking and I ordered a glass of Cabernet Franc while engaging our friendly bartender in what she must have thought was a ridiculous conversation comparing the economic efficiency of a custom built tiny house VS. buying a less tiny manufactured home and tested her vast knowledge of viniculture with thoughtful and intelligent questions such as “How long does a grape vine live?”

Of the six wines that were served, there were three that I was particularly taken with: Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc and Sweet Katherine. I could be perfectly happy drinking those three wines for the rest of forever but, if I had to pick just one, it would be the Cabernet Franc.

Made with grapes grown in their Cold Friday Vineyard, the Cabernet Franc is a tall glass of deep red silk.  Identifying all the subtle flavors could take time, lasting well into the dark hours of the night, so I recommend saving this bottle for an evening when you’ve got nowhere to be and can sleep-in the next morning.

They say the Cabernet Franc tastes of German Chocolate cake, ripe olives and black pepper, which I absolutely don’t recommend eating on the same plate, but when the subtleties of the flavors come together in the alchemy of a wine barrel the end result is impressive to say the least.

My recommendation: Have another glass. 🙂

 

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Elk Run Vineyard and Winery
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Elk Run Vineyard and Winery

On the way to Elk Run, we drove through Libertytown; home of many photo-worthy abandoned houses. A word to wise, be mindful of barriers like fences and No Trespassing signs. Gun-happy residents are often living nearby.

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Abandoned house in Libertytown, MD. Photo by d.Nelle Vincent.
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Photo by d.Nelle Vincent. Libertytown, MD
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Photo by d.Nelle Vincent. Libertytown, MD

Wine Review: #SocialSecret White 2012, A Visit To Tarara Winery

 

There are a couple things that drive me to drink:

  1. Children.
  2. When customers think that the fax machine sends actual pieces of paper through the phone lines.

Sunday is indeed the Sabbath and a day for seeking refuge from the general public. During the winter months, Tarara Winery is the perfect gateway for disappearing into the world at large.

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Located either on the set of The Walking Dead or on the way to grandmother’s house,

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Tarara Winery is a sprawling estate nestled deep in the woods of Leesburg, VA.  It’s got a bad case of the creepy trees, sparking a discussion in the car regarding the high probably of the woods being inhabited by witches. Xavier says no but I say he just can’t see them.

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In the summer, this place would no doubt have the vibe of a lavish country club, complete with lots of high-roller wine-drinkers, but in the winter we felt compelled to ask the receptionist if they were open as it seemed like we were the only ones there.

In other words, it was perfect!

At the bar, we sampled six different wines.  As usual, my imagination got the best of me and I insisted on trying the one called Magic Dragons from the Boneyard Collection. Unfortunately, I found the name preferable to the wine.

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To be clear, I’m not saying the Magic Dragons was bad, it just wasn’t as good as the #SocialSecret White 2012.  Now, that – my friends, was the bomb diggity ding dang.  If you’re going to spend $30 on a bottle of white wine, get this one!

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Fruity, but still smooth and definitely dry, this is a Chardonnay-esque white wine that I highly recommend drinking while sitting in a big chair by the fire because, at 12.5% alcohol, you won’t feel like getting up anytime soon.

With regard to socializing, the secret is, that after the first glass, your guests will feel like Alice In Wonderland. While they may hear voices, walk funny, and smile at imaginary cats, they will most certainly tell their friends that you have thrown the best. party. ever. 

Who doesn’t want to throw the best party ever?

I wanted to talk about the #SocialSecret because I have already reviewed a red wine from Tarara in a previous post. That being said, it is absolutely worth mentioning that the Tranquility 2014 is outstanding and will probably make your clothes fall off. No joke, if there is a such a thing as a wine erection this wine would cause it and, at $45 a bottle, it is money well spent.

The Tranquility is very, very good.

Let’s walk around the grounds and sober up a bit before getting back in the car.

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Shadow Lake. Tarara Winery.

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I was looking for grape vines but found these fruit tree orchards instead.

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The shot of the day is this abandoned house that we passed on the way back to civilization.

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Abandoned house. Leesburg, VA. Photo by d.Nelle Vincent

I got snagged in a barbed wire fence to get the photo below. I have no idea what this structure used to be. Let’s call it Mystery Of The Day.

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Abandoned building. Leesburg, VA. Photo by d.Nelle Vincent.

Wine Review: Cabernet Sauvignot, Kendall-Jackson Vinter’s Reserve

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Twenty years ago I had dinner at Olive Garden with Monique.  We were there to celebrate (Thank God We’re Not) Mother’s Day and I wanted a glass of wine because it seemed like an adult thing to do.

Despite living in sin city, I had grown up on a dirt road and had no idea what to order. Monique’s family, on the other hand, was in the habit of attending cultured events like the Santa Fe Opera and she was somewhat better equipped to differentiate between a decent wine and a bottle of cough syrup.

“Get this one”, she told me, “You’ll like it.”

So I did.  And I did.

“This one”, was Kendall-Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon.

Burned in my memory for all of time because, at the tender age of 21, I had notably fewer things to keep track of.

Which brings us to the present moment.

Xavier and I made an afternoon adventure out of visiting Costco in Leesburg, VA. We live in Maryland but in these parts packaged liquor can only be sold in state regulated liquor stores, ergo not Costco.

Hence the drive to Virginia.

We bought two wines on this trip.  I have already reviewed one of them, the Sofia Rose’, and the other – based on the recurrence of an old memory, was 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Kendall-Jackon Vinter’s Reserve.

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I had meant to pair it with food, take some nice photos and to write something eloquent about it, but that’s not what happened.

I came home from work on a Friday night feeling exhausted and fed up with the steady stream of idiocracy that had filled my shift. Poor Xavier got home and asked how my day was.

Now faced with wild gesticulations and an ongoing rant, Xavier silently opened this bottle of wine and poured me a glass because he’s a good husband like that.

It worked like a charm and by the the second glass I had calmed right the fricky-frack down.

How was it? I would call it a solid “pretty good”. A far cry better than the yellow tail Cabernet Sauvignon, though not quite as smooth as the one from Tarara Winery that started this whole wine review business in the first place. It’s worth noting that the Kendall-Jackson is about $14.50 at Costco – as opposed to the $45 price tag on the Cabernet from Tarara.

For $14.50, I think this wine is a good buy. If you want me to say that it tastes like cedar, vanilla and cherry…. um, sure. Yes, it tastes just like that.

My review: A fairly smooth red wine with a pleasant woody aftertaste and enjoyable sedative qualities. May save a marriage.

 

 

Wine Review: Pink Moscato, Beringer

Not everything cheap is bad…

At this point in our wine experimentation careers, Xavier and I have tried just about all of the cheap Moscato wines from our neighborhood liquor store. We’ve run the gamut of yellowtail, Fish Eye and Barefoot and we’ve also tried some of the less cheap varieties such as Cupcake and Sea Glass. Incidentally, from this list, you’ll want to avoid the Fish Eye and the Barefoot. If they’re the only options on the shelf, save the $6 and just buy yourself a packet of Kool-Aid.

I’ve always lumped Beringer in with what I considered to be “the cheap wines”, mostly because of the $7 price tag, but I must say that I found this Moscato to be notably better than the others in the same price range.

If I were a guerilla that only knew 1000 words in sign language, I would name this wine Oak Nectar for it’s pleasantly sweet and surprisingly woody taste. It is currently my favorite Moscato and hummingbirds would stab each other in the eye to claim the feeder filled with this wine.

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Editors note: Never feed wine to hummingbirds, it kills them.

While I have no idea how to pair wine with food, I do recommend having wine with food because drinking wine without food looks a lot like being an alcoholic.

This particular evening we enjoyed our wine with my favorite dinner. This post is not about cooking but I am a damn fine cook if I do say so myself. Pictured below is my baked/broiled chicken with Brussels sprouts, tiny potatoes and red onion.

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Dinner Of Champions

In summary, Pink Moscato from Beringer is quite tasty and I wouldn’t be embarrassed to bring it to a party or to serve it to my friends.  Additionally, it did not give me a headache and, at 11.5% alcohol, it delivers a bit more bang for the buck than most of its similarly priced competitors.

2014 Chardonnay, A Visit To Linganore Winecellars

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Wine barn. Linganore Winecellars. Photo by d.Nelle Vincent

2014 Chardonnay from Linganore Winecellars

“It has a looonnnnggg buttery finish”. The bartender pursed her lips while making a socket puppet shape with her hand.

I would feel like an idiot saying that, with accompanying gesticulation, but what I will say is that if grapes and butter had a baby, it would be this wine.

 

Linganore Winecellars is located in Mt. Airy, Maryland.

Xavier and I drove out for a visit this past Sunday. We wanted to taste the dry wine list; specifically looking for a Chardonnay and a Cabernet-esque dry red.

I wanted to like the one called White Raven because the name is cool, and I expected to like the Chardonnay Reserve 2015 because it’s expensive. Neither of these things came to pass.

Apparently cool names and high prices do not necessarily mean better. As far as I’m concerned they hit us with their best shot right out of the gate. The Chardonnay 2014 is everything they claim it to be.  It has zero percent residual sugar and is quite literally smooth like butta’, which makes it deliciously dangerous because it is also 11.5% alcohol.

We bought a bottle and, at check out, they asked if we would like for them to open it for us so we could enjoy it there.  I said, “Only if we can stay the night.”

Lightweights…

Pro tip: If you put a straw in the bottle, you can claim to have had “only one drink.”

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Linganore Winecellars. Mt. Airy, MD

I specialize in making nice places look like run down abandoned buildings but Linganore Winecellars is, in fact, quite lovely.

Lucky for me, the weather was cold and there were not many people milling around outside but, inside on a Sunday afternoon, the scene is warm and bustling with thirsty wine connoisseurs.

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Linganore Winecellars. Mt. Airy, MD

As previously mentioned, I was looking for a Chardonnay and a dry red. We didn’t buy a red but the one I liked the most was the Chambourcin. It’s very dry, with zero percent residual sugar, super smooth, pleasantly oaky, and likely the topic of a separate blog post. 🙂

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Xavier in his new Mini Cooper Clubman. Linganore Winecellars. Mt. Airy, MD
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Sleeping baby grape vines. Linganore Winecellars. Mt. Airy, MD