It's been awhile since I've had a good wine post -- but there is much in here to delight the wine fan.
Our Cork Poppers met on Sunday and the focus of our wine journey was South American wines, specifically those of Chile and Argentina. We were all filled with anticipation, knowing all the wines were between $5 and $25, which makes them rather affordable. (Well, most of us were filled with anticipation -- not sure about Taxi!)
We started off with Lapostolle, Cuvee Alexandre, Chardonnay 2008. This Chilean vineyard is owned by a woman -- we found that over 40 percent of the winemakers in CHile are women -- from more than 100 wineries.
This was a crisp, unoaked chardonnay. Speaking as one who is not fond of oaked whites, that was reason enough to be excited. But it was also just delicious. This vintner makes Grand Marnier, so that should have been a clue that it would be a little pricier ($23.79).
The taste was just delicious -- bright, a little fruity but not sweet, with a long finish. It was quite dry. Imagine it on a summer night, sipping this one on the beach! Mouthwatering!
Well, after that, where could you go but down!
We rarely have a wine when uniformly everyone says "Yuck." We didn't anticipate that the Las Acequias, Torrontes 2009, Mendoza Argentina would be anything less than fabulous after the fragrant floral smell. The aroma had rose and violet -- it really smelled like a garden in peak blooming season.
Well, the comments ranged from "It smells and tastes like soap" to "Love the way it smells but not how it tastes. At $12.59, Roger said it was "$7 too much" and determined it was bad value.
So, when you're at the bottom, where can you go but up? I must confess, I've never been a fan of Rose. It seems like American Roses are very sweet.
But the Crios de Susana Balbo Rose of Malbec 2009, Mendoza, Argentina would have been wonderful even without a poor lead in. It is made with the skins of Malbec, pulling off the liquid part way through the fermentation process.
"I like it when they pull the juice early," said Barb. And I had to agree, liking it even better than the first white. It would be great on a hot sunny day. Someone called it "an extremely loveable wine and fun to be around." That's a good way to describe it.
The label on the bottle represents the woman winemaker and her two children. At $11.89 it was well worth it for me, with a taste that was quite good -- not at all sweet, dry, and fruity.
From there it was on to the reds. The first was Montes Macbec 2009 (Chile). "Look at the legs on this one!" exclaimed Clayton. Rick had to agree. "I would be happy with this wine forever," he said. "It's a fine wine."
Cheryl, not known for liking reds added, "Even I like it!"
As for me, if I could lick the inside of the glass I would. Dick says to decant this for 30 minutes before serving and it can last in the cellar for up to five years. With a nice long finish and wonderful plum and blackberry overtones, this wine got a "Woo hoo!" -- especially after learning it was only $10 per bottle. (And a lovely bottle it was, too.)
The Montes was from Chile and so was our next selection, Cono Sur Carmenere, 2008. This is another that was aged in stainless steel and as Dick said, a real tooth-stainer.
Of course, Rick thought this one had the best bottle!
I've had Cono Sur Pinot Noir and while it was fine, I'm not big on Pinot Noir (now Pinot Grigio is another matter altogether!).
But I liked this a good deal and found it much better than the Cono Sur Pinot. And at $8.79 I would certainly get it again.
Rick said he really "loves the feel of" our next wine, Colonia Las Liebred Boarda, 2008 (Mendoza, Argentina). The Bonarda grape was brought from the Piedmont region of Italy 80 years ago. It's very dark with lots of tanins.
"Put it away and don't touch it and it will mellow well," Dick told us. It had lots of tanins and a cellaring potential of five to seven years.
It was Rick's favorite and one of mine, too. (And my favorite label -- but I can't resist a bunny!) Certainly the price brought another enthusiastic "Woo Hoo!" -- It was only $9.
Finally we had another Crios wine, Crios de Susana Balboa Syrah-Bonarda 1007, again from Mendoze, Argentina. It had a wonderful fragrance and a long finish.
Of the reds, this was my favorite, but the price -- $15.39 -- makes it less a house-wine and more of a special one.
Of course, there is no Cork Popper gathering where food is not a key part.
Cheryl had the theme in place from the moment she sent the invitations right down to the place cards...
But the food covered various cultures! Our wine guide and host Dick served up a delicious pork. It was accompanied by a roasted squash dish by Meredith and my potato dish, along with another one of Barb's remarkable "compost heaps" (as Mike calls her salads!).
We also enjoyed several nice table wines, again from South America.
This time we were celebrating Clayton's 60th birthday and Pat's (but a lady never tells!)
Lots of wishes and wonderful banana cake!
I also shared a wonderful bottle of Ice Wine from Canada that Suzanne had given me for Christmas.
The wine was wonderful with dessert and the bottle unbelievably beautiful and hand-painted.
And after -- well, Taxi says it all...
Here's my potato recipe -- it's easy, a crowd pleaser and can be prepared ahead of time and reheated for serving.
2 bags shredded hash browns
8 oz sour cream
8 oz sharp shredded Cheddar cheese
1 can cheese soup (I used Campbells' cheddar)
1 stick melted butter
salt / pepper
Mix this all together. Top with crushed potato chips. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
I used low-fat sour cream, reduced fat cheese and baked potato chilps to help cut the fat. Couldn't do much about the butter. No one seemed to complain!
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