Thursday, January 29, 2015

WineStudio: Hall Wines Cabernet

WineStudio: Hall Wines Cabernet

One of the many great things about #WineStudio is that we get to taste amazing wines. That was certainly the case Tuesday night, as we uncorked a pair of Cabernet Sauvignon's from California's Hall Wines. The Halls originally started with a dedication to making single vineyard and limited-production wines. They continued growing and their estate vineyards now encompass more than 500 acres of classic Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Theirs was California's first winery to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold Certification, showing a strong respect for the environment.

Tasting Notes:
2012 "Eighteen Seventy-Three" Cabernet Sauvignon "Members Only": 97% Cabernet Sauvignon/3% Merlot; dark ruby color; dark berry, earth, spice, and mocha aromas, repeated on the palate with a jolting backbone of tannins; this wine needs plenty of aeration and perhaps a few more years of bottle aging, should reward patience in the cellar; SRP $80 (members only, see website for membership details).

2011 HALL "Jack's Masterpiece" Cabernet Sauvignon
Baby Jack making the label art

2011 "Jack's Masterpiece" Cabernet Sauvignon: The inspiration for the label art began on Father's Day of 2006, when  Mike Reynolds' (President and former Winemaker) 18-month-old son Jack's artwork was presented to him; 96% Cabernet Sauvignon/4% Petit Verdot; black currant, berry, cherry, plum, violet, sandalwood, and spices fill the nose and palate; truly a lush wine with a lingering, savory finish. Plenty of balanced tannins, drinkable now but will continue to evolve and improve in the cellar for many years to come; SRP $125.
Both of these bottles are just starting to waken - they need aeration, time in the glass, and a hearty piece of meat for maximum enjoyment, in my opinion. Better yet, buy one or more and let them rest for at least a few more years, then see what's happened in the bottle. I would think it would be worth the wait.

PROTOCOL #WineStudio presents an online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! It’s part instruction and tasting, with discussions on producers, varieties, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching and what all this means to us as imbibers.

Wine was provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Places to eat in Salt Lake City, UT

Last week, I was in Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer Winter Show, so I checked out a few places online, got some local suggestions, and ate out quite a few times during my week here.

Beer Bar Salt Lake City

I couldn't resist eating a meal at the most famous of recent SLC openings, Beer Bar. Playing one of my favorite TV characters, Ty Burrell is well-known as Phil Dunphy on Modern Family, but it turns out he is also becoming known as a restaurateur. Last spring, Burrell opened Beer Bar, a casual eatery featuring many, many beers along with locally-sourced sausages, breads and Belgian fries. Sounded like my kind of place! A rattlesnake and rabbit sausage? Definitely haven't seen that elsewhere and it was awesome, try it if they haven't changed the menu. No beer flights allowed, but I tasted a variety of local beers, all good, all lower alcohol, great with food.

Beer Bar on Urbanspoon

The Rose Establishment Salt Lake City

A strange thing about SLC: many restaurants don't open until 9:00 AM, even breakfast places. I was overjoyed to find The Rose Establishment on my wanderings towards the convention center. Great light from the windows overlooking the street, with high ceilings giving this an airy feel. Housed in a former meatpacking plant, the place is both old-timey and up-to-date, very comfortable place to get breakfast. Amazing coffees and, if they have them, super tasty personal sized quiches are available.

The Rose Establishment on Urbanspoon

The Blue Iguana Salt Lake City

Many folks suggested I check out the Red Iguana restaurant, but the one appropriate time I walked by, the line was out the door (something that was also mentioned). Not sure how the two restaurants are related (or if they are), but this is right across the street from the convention center so easy to get to. They didn't blink when I came in alone, dropped an enormous plate of corn chips for me and let me peruse the menu. I tried the Tinga Poblana ("Slow-roasted shredded pork. Spicy!"), which was good but not spicy; instead, it was smoky and sweet, almost mole-like. Still good, just not what I was expecting.

Blue Iguana on Urbanspoon

Pie Hole Salt Lake City

If you're a former punk like me, this place will be right up your alley, but if you don't like scruffy places with stickers, graffiti, and a bit of attitude, stay away. Plenty of options for pizza by the slice, including a vegan choice, or have a pie made while you wait (or call ahead or get delivery of you're downtown). Inexpensive, tasty, lots of character - this would be my go-to at least once a week if I lived here.

Pie Hole on Urbanspoon

Nico's Salt Lake City

If you're out by the KOA, on the way to the Airport (hop off at the TRAX's Power Station), check out Diamond Lil's (which appears closed but apparently is still open ???), but then head across the street to Nico's Restaurant and Lounge, which serves American and Mexican food. You know when you get a chimichanga to go, then 10 minutes later it's just a soggy mess? This time, it wasn't - not sure what voodoo that was but it was still pretty crispy after about 15 minutes in the container. Tasty too. Next time I'd ask for less or no ice in the horchata, ended up getting watered down as I ate. Cool little place to eat in or, as I did, order to go. Super friendly service.

Nico's Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A New Napa Cuisine

A New Napa Cuisine

A short while ago, I checked out Christopher Kostow's book, A New Napa Cuisine. It's a very tactile book, with serious heft, a pleasantly rough cover, and slick pages inside (also, nothing like that new book smell, right?). His writing, connecting what he does as Executive Chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley with his surroundings, is impassioned and inspiring. The photography makes me want to move to wine country sooner rather than later, though neither is likely. Surprisingly, the recipes, while numerous, seem unimportant to one's journey. Even though it showcases his creativity and his use of local artisans, I found it actually detracted from the experience of reading this book - I thumbed through the recipes pretty quickly, more interested in reading what he had to say next rather than seeing what I was missing at the restaurant. I'm sure, given more time, I'd appreciate the recipes more, but the writing and photography alone are enough to recommend this book.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Artisan Collection

The Artisan Collection  is an importer of family made wines, centered on preserving and promoting wine traditions and authenticity. To preserve the quality of the wines from vine to bottle to sale, they use only expedient and 100% refrigerated storage and shipping. They sent a few sample bottles to try out from their broad portfolio some time ago, just found my notes again. :)

Artisan Collection

Tasting Notes:
Bodegas Ramon Ramos Monte Toro Roble 2009: Tinto de Toro grapes hand harvested from 30-year-old vines; fermented in small concrete tanks, plot by plot; only native yeasts used; aged 6 months in French and American Oak; bottled without fining or filtration, direct into the bottle from the casks; dark, almost opaque ruby color with lighter edges; cassis, dark cherry, herb and earthy aromas; bright red fruit, rhubarb, and herb flavors; lighter bodied than expected; lots of acidity; 14.5% ABV; natural cork closure; SRP $15 (depending on location).
Las Lilas Vinho Verde White 2013: Estate grown Louriero and Treixadura from vines that are 25+ years old; yellow color with greenish tinge; white floral, pear, and subtle starfruit aromas; green melon, pear, and tangerine flavors; light bodied with slight effervescence; tart and acidic, refreshing to drink; 10% ABV; twist-off closure; SRP $10 (depending on location).
2 more varietals for my Wine Century Club list - up to 133!

Wine received for tasting purposes – all opinions are my own.

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