Unleashed Chardonnay

  • Producer: Mutt Lynch Winery
  • Location: Sonoma, California
  • Year: 2016
  • Price estimate: $15
  • Tasting notes: Medium yellow in color with a bit of straw tending to clear at the edges. Thicker body and slow legs for a white wine. On the nose, lemon pie, tiny bit of lemon zest, vanilla custard (homemade, not the box stuff – yes, there is a smell difference) and a slight note of slate. Round mouthfeel – borders on buttery, but keeps a step back from that line. Stone fruit is the predominant flavor up front – apricot, nectarine – with a bit of refreshing citrus. Mid-palate has a subtle granite thread that leads to an herbal finish. Not a harsh herb finish, but the kinds of herbs you cook with to add something to the final dish even if you can’t decipher the specific herbs.
  • Conclusions: In general, I shy away from Chardonnay, especially ones that have a rounder mouthfeel. This one has a hint of the California style – big and buttery – but it is restrained and really enjoyable to drink and with food (corn soup and a pasta salad in this case) it shines.
  • Notes: I’m going to have to peruse the spreadsheet and find other wines to drink since the last few have been from the same winery, but we did get our case from them very quickly after we got home, so we’ve been balancing the “save and savor” with the “drink now” feelings. The texture of this wine is the most interesting to me – it is un-oaked but it feels (not tastes) oak aged. To get the texture just right might be super simple, but I’m guessing it is actually really difficult to do and this one nails it. Super smooth with a hint of buttery texture, definite malolactic fermentation. It feels like it could go over the edge with less care and attention, but it doesn’t.

Misunderstood Pinot Noir

  • Producer: Mutt Lynch Winery
  • Location: Sonoma County, California
  • Year: 2017
  • Price estimate: $20
  • Tasting notes: Beautiful nose of cherry, strawberry and a little moss. Garnett in color with a little bit of orange-brown at the edges. Flavors of ripe cherry, stone, a touch of fresh tobacco. Long finish with lots of cherry notes.
  • Conclusions: Delicious. This was a great pinot to open one evening and Bob and I savored each sip. It has that quality where you can sip and enjoy and not think about it, or pay attention to what you are drinking, savor it, and discover a few hidden layers. We did a little of both with this bottle and I’m just sad that I only have one more bottle left the in “cellar.”
  • Notes: Pinot Noirs are one of my favorite varietals, right up there with Zinfandel and Pinotage. There are a lot of pinots out there that are “meh” or “fine” and plenty that are bad. To find a really great pinot for $20 – I really wish I had gotten more, but in all honesty, I tend to under buy when we go to a winery because I’m always afraid it’s the atmosphere or experience that is making the wine taste so good. This isn’t one of those cases and I may have to get more of this once our weather breaks and I can get wine shipped to Florida again – somewhere around November.

Pinot Blanc Reserve

  • Producer: Gustave Lorentz
  • Location: Alsace, France
  • Year: 2015
  • Price estimate: $15 retail, ($11 on sale from Weekly Tasting)
  • Tasting notes: Light to medium yellow in color. Nose is very light – difficult to find many aromas, but as the wine warms a little some floral notes and lemon curd begin to come through with a tiny bit of fresh apple. The wine is clean and round on the palate with notes of melon, apple, nectarine and white grape. Acidity is nice – not strong, but present. Finish is clean with a decent length. The apple and a little pear come through on the finish.
  • Conclusions: I wasn’t sure what to expect with this wine as I’m not terribly familiar with Pinot Blanc, but it’s good. Refreshing in the “good summer sipper” category of wines, this isn’t something I’m going to hold for a super special occasion, but I’m happy drinking it. This paired well with an Asian dish, and with quinoa tacos and was also pretty good alone. 12.5% ABV
  • imageNotes: When Bob and I went to Sonoma we wanted to focus on Zinfandels, but also look for good whites. We succeeded in finding zin’s that we really loved (you should be seeing some of those posts in the coming months) but we didn’t focus on whites, so when I saw Weekly Tasting was doing an inventory clearance sale, I decided to get a case of whites – things I could drink all summer and not feel the need to ration. I didn’t intend to get the Pinot Blanc, but they sent it instead of a Riesling, which I was totally okay with (seriously, for $11 I’m honestly not going to quibble). I did want to let them know so it wouldn’t impact their inventory or potentially another customer, but they offered to send the Riesling anyway and asked me to keep the Pinot Blanc. This was absolutely unnecessary, but I mention it because this isn’t the first time they have gone out of their way to make something right (the first time it was totally a FedEx issue, but they fixed it for me after I could not get anywhere with FedEx). Good wine, decent prices and fantastic customer service.

Lemon Icebox Pie

Bob is a big pie fan. He likes pie way more than cake or cookies or other desserts and it is what he wants me to bake if I give him an open choice. His favorite pie is his mom’s lemon icebox pie. This isn’t a pie I’m familiar with and one I’ve never made, so when he brought me a few cookbooks from his mom’s house, I looked through them and found a recipe for a lemon icebox pie and decided to try it.

img_20190617_092321The original recipe I found was different than most pie recipes I am familiar with, but it did remind me a little of a key lime pie. It is a condensed milk based pie with a cookie crust and a sweet meringue on top. I did balk at the original 6 tablespoons of sugar in the meringue and altered that part of the recipe (I just couldn’t bring myself to do 6 tablespoons of sugar) including using coconut sugar in the meringue instead of regular granulated sugar.

Recipe:

  • Nilla wafers (about 2/3 of a box)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 3 lemons
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons coconut sugar

Pre-head oven to 325. Melt butter. Crush vanilla wafers to make about 1 3/4 – 2 cups wafer crumbs. Butter a pie pan, including the sides. Mix wafer crumbs and melted butter and press into the pie pan. Line the sides of the pan with whole Nilla Wafers.

In a medium bowl, mix condensed milk and egg yolks. Add zest of two lemons and juice of three lemons to the milk mixture and combine well. Pour into prepared pie pan.

In a large, clean bowl beat egg white until stiff peaks begin to form. Add sugar, slowly, to desired sweetness (I think 1.5 tablespoons would be best, but since the original recipe called for 6, I just halved that to see how it would go). Cover pie filling with meringue, covering the pie completely (you could leave the whole wafers uncovered, but cover the filling completely).

Bake pie in 325 degree oven for about 20 minutes. The meringue should be lightly browned and the filling is set.

The Y Series Chardonnay

  • Producer: Yalumba Family Winemakers
  • Location: South Australia
  • Year: 2018
  • Price estimate: $12
  • Tasting notes: Pale to medium yellow in color. Tropical fruits – pineapple and papaya on the nose. Relatively round mouthfeel but enough acidity to prevent the oily consistency chardonnay can sometimes have. Subtle flavors of peach, apricot, pineapple and lemon are present, but the flavors do not linger.
  • Conclusions: Not bad at all. Chardonnay is not my go-to white wine, but I was intrigued by the bottle at Whole Foods (don’t judge, they had an actual good sale on a few things I use frequently and picking up wine there saved me a trip elsewhere) and decided to try it. It is actually a pretty good wine and one I’m not minding indulging in on a Tuesday evening. 13% ABV
  • Notes: I picked this up as we waited for some of our wine from Sonoma to arrive. Most of what we bought won’t be here until the fall because the temperature are just too high to safely ship, but we did one mixed case with temperature control, so we should have that by the time this posts. I also decided to go for a few whites from Whole Foods because, while I had every intention of trying to focus more on white wine out in California, we ended up loving more reds and picking up many more reds than whites. Next time we go out I’m going to try to seek out producers who specialize in whites if I can.

Sonoma Day 7 – Heading Home

There are people who can go on vacation for weeks, sometimes months, at a time and never be ready to leave. I’m not like that. Over the years I’ve figured out that 5 to 6 days is best for me to be away, and anything longer than a week I just get cranky. I miss my furry creatures, I want my bed and my own kitchen. I want to be able to cook and I like just knowing which restaurants I can go to without scouring menus first.

When we first starting looking at this trip we picked the dates and length to be able to pay for the flight with miles. This meant we had a slightly longer vacation than is ideal for us, but decided it was worth it. So this is how we ended up with a day 7 instead of being home.

It did work out rather well, though. We had a fantastic breakfast at the B&B then headed out to the coast and up to Ft. Ross, an old Russian settlement north of where we were staying. The grounds were great, but we actually got to dip our toes in the (very cold) Pacific.

The views, the scenery, the vistas were just stunning, as much driving back on the Pacific Coast Highway as they were on the drive up. I wasn’t in love with the hairpin turns and sheer drops off the side of the road, but Bob was driving and totally enjoying himself.

As we made our way into Sausalito and then San Francisco for the night before a full day of travel home, we were ready to go. California was great, and if it was an easy drive out to Sonoma for us, I’d try to figure out a way to buy a little place off the beaten path. But, Florida is home and just too far for quick trips. We will be back, but maybe just for five days.

Sonoma Day 6 – All Wined Out

I wasn’t sure it could happen, but after all the great wine we had over the last few days, coupled with the scorching heat, I wasn’t up for wine. Temperatures continued to hover around 100, and I just didn’t want to be out in the heat and could not even think about drinking alcohol. Sad, but true.

We did start our day at a winery, but not for the wines. Our B&B hosts told us about a winery with an incredible garden so we decided to drive up north of Healdsburg and see the gardens. They were pretty incredible, but unfortunately half the garden was closed for maintenance. We enjoyed what we could, then headed into Healdsburg.

We wandered around Healdsburg for a little while, stopped into a yarn store (just cause) and took in some of the plaza area, but the lack of shade had us heading out of the town soon than we anticipated.

We did do something a little odd given the temperatures, but we headed to Armstrong Woods to meander through the redwoods. With all the shade, we had lower temperatures so it was a nice outing. I had not been through the redwoods since I went to Humboldt over 20 years ago. These trees were just as beautiful, and we really enjoyed the trails around the creeks and winding through the forest. It was a nice way to end the day.