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!
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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: 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.

Wine Review: Sofia Rose’, Francis Ford Coppola Winery

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Sofia is Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter and she now has her very own line of pink wine with her name on it. Lucky her.

I had no idea that Francis Ford Coppola had time to stomp grapes in between all the gangster flicks but apparently he is a skilled multitask-er, which means that he himself does no actual wine making but that’s cool and all so long as whoever does the actual work gets paid actual money.

I say the verdict is still out as to whether or not I like this wine, though I’m leaning towards the latter. Xavier tapped out after the first glass leaving me to ponder the rest of the bottle.  His exact words were “It punched me in the jaw with tartness. I don’t think I’m going to have a 2nd glass.”

It is indeed a tart wine.  I believe the grapes were fed a steady diet of vinegar and Warheads sour candy, which caused insanity and birth defects, but the glowing pink color is just enticing enough to make you think it’s good.

That doesn’t mean it’s not good but it’s out there in a no-man’s land of foreign flavors. Not bold enough to be red and it’s not sweet or crisp enough to be Moscato.

Wine snobs drawl with superiority, “That’s because it’s Rose’, Dumbass” 

Yes, of course, the Rose’ of The Godfather’s daughter no less. This poor girl has her name plastered all over the bottle and now everyone is blaming her for leaving them puckered and bug-eyed.

I’ve long made a practice of selecting wine based on the color of the juice and the appearance of the label and, while this often doesn’t work out in my favor, I can say…

My cat likes it.

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Wine Reviews: Cabernet Sauvignon, [yellow tail]

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Cheap wine in a dirty kitchen. No counter tops were cleaned in the making of this photograph.

I suppose I should’ve know better but I decided to live cheap and dangerously.

This is Cabernet Sauvignon from yellow tail.

The price: $6.59.

That means no Mircale Gro for the grapes.

Now, to be honest, it’s not terrible, not pond water by any means, and it does start to taste better by the 2nd glass.

That first glass though.. it punches you in the throat on the way down which means it’s not very smooth and I figured out that this characteristic is what determines whether or not I like the wine.

It’s 13% alcohol so after the first glass, with the throat numb anyway, the punch is nearly painless.

While my review of this wine could double as zen wisdom for surviving a bar fight, it’s not all bad. If expendable income is tight and this is what you brought home to have with dinner, drink it fast, the pain is short lived.