Wednesday, August 16, 2017

2016 Concha y Toro Terrunyo Sauvignon Blanc

When a sample is offered of Sauvignon Blanc, I jump at it. When it's one from a winery I respect, doubly so. It  was super exciting to hear that a sample Concha y Toro's Terrunyo was on its way, as I've never had the chance to taste it before.

2016 Concha y Toro Terrunyo Sauvignon Blanc

Originally from France, Sauvignon Blanc now seems to be grown and made into wine just about everywhere. And I'm totally fine with that, as it's one of my favorites to drink.

Sauvignon Blanc can be grassy and herbal, citrusy, or sometimes have notes of white fruits (pear, peach, etc). If you're a cat lover, perhaps you'll appreciate the wines described as having an aroma of cat's pee. I don't.

On the palate, the flavors mimic the above aromas, albeit on a much broader spectrum: grass or lemongrass; citrus such as  Meyer lemon and lime;  tropical fruits such as starfruit and kiwi; floral flavors; and, in some cases, minerality.

I drink a lot of Sauvignon Blanc on its own, but it also pairs well with many types of foods, so take some chances. 

Tasting Notes:
Grapes from Concha y Toro's Block 5, Los Boldos Vineyard  in Casablanca Valley, Chile; aged 3 months in stainless steel tanks;  aromas of gooseberry, lime and citrus brightened by herb notes; lime, melon, stonefruit, citrus and a bit of grassiness on the palate;  crisp and refreshing; long finish; twist off closure; SRP $23.
*Wine provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Hotel Review: Rhythm City Casino and Resort

The Rhythm City Casino and Resort is a newer place to stay in Davenport, IA, and we stayed there recently as part of our Quad Cities Outdoors trip. It was a 3 day, 2 night trip, and we enjoyed it immensely, not least of which was staying in this hotel.

Hotel Review: Rhythm City Casino and Resort

The Resort sits alone surrounded by undeveloped parcels which I would guess won't stay that way for long. On the map, it sits at the very Northern edge of the Quad Cities, but here's the thing - everything takes no time to drive to in this area. Minimal traffic and high speed roads every which way make it possible to get everywhere fast. This is a newer hotel (built only a few years ago), and it would have the new car smell if that's how it worked with hotels. Lots of bright light everywhere, much of it natural.

We had two rooms, one for the boys and one for me, right across the hall from each other. It's a very quiet hotel and even my son, who sometimes complains that hotel noise keeps him up, had no issues. I didn't hear a peep from their room, which is either a sign that the three 16 year olds I had with me were amazingly quiet or, more likely, the sound suppression in place really works.

Probably our favorite thing was going down to the pool - the water felt so great we initially thought it was a salt water pool. I spoke with the pool guy when he came in while I was down there and he just laughed - he said they just knew what they were doing with their chemicals, which was why it was so different from many other hotel pools. I wish more places followed their example.

I initially wondered if this was a nonsmoking casino (wishful thinking!), but it just turns out they have really efficient air cleaners. This is the first casino I've been to where you can see clear across the floor without the lingering haze of smoke in the air.

There are 4 dining options at the Resort, 3 restaurants and a more casual convenience store style location that also sells souvenirs and toiletries. Ruthie's Steak & Seafood is on the top floor of the hotel, while Robert's Buffet, Draft Day Sports Lounge, and The Market are on the casino side. We ate snacks from The Market (really tasty and crazy cheap), I had wine at the Sports Lounge (hooray for happy hour), and we also breakfasted in the Sports Lounge - good food but not really a breakfast vibe.

The only way I would improve this Resort is to more clearly separate the hotel and casino functions. The hotel front desk sits across from the casino floor and they share several doors for entry and exit. My biggest complaint is that, to get to the pool and workout room, one has to take an elevator to a lobby area that includes and entry used by many casino-goers - I don't really want to parade myself either before or after swimming, which is the feeling one gets as it sits now.

Overall, I found this to be a great location. The newness and quality of the build make it very pleasant, while the costs (including dining) seemed very reasonable for the level of service.

*One room and one morning of breakfasts was comped for us - all opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Quad Cities Restaurants

We recently spent some time in the Quad Cities, courtesy of the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, to check out some amazing outdoors activities (check out "Quad Cities Outdoors" over at Midwest Basecamp. To have the energy to go cycling, hiking, paddling and more, we headed to a variety of restaurants to enjoy some amazing food and to refuel (beer is hydration, right?). Here are the restaurants we visited while were there:

Quad Cities Restaurants
On our way into town, we stopped for lunch at Tantra Thai Bistro (Davenport, IA). Located in a nondescript strip mall on the side of a large road, this restaurant surpassed our expectations after that initial impression failed to wow us. The decor was quite beautiful and it had a very soothing atmosphere (except the cheesy elevator music). We enjoyed the super fast service, lots of options, all at fair prices. My son and his friends said they'd come back again, which is the best praise a restaurant can get, in my opinion.
Tantra Asian Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Quad Cities Restaurants
Our first dinner was at the Front Street Brewery (Davenport, IA), which is a way cool bar in an old building right across from the river. Slightly sketchy feeling neighborhood but it looks like it's pretty lively and making a comeback. Creative menu takes bar food classics in a novel direction. Friendly service. Good beer selection along with a full bar make this a good place to taste test away an afternoon. (Meal comped - all opinions are my own.)
Front Street Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Quad Cities Restaurants
The next day our host took us out to lunch at Bent River Brewing Company, (Moline, IL), a pretty typical looking bar and grill.  It's in the downtown area, where it seems a lot of things are happening, in a good way. Entering past the brewery's large brewing tuns is a great way to get ready for beer and food. Speaking of which, pair their Ale Rings with the Jalapeño Pepper Ale (the beer is in the ring's breading, which is a great combination). All the food was satisfying and good, service was friendly and attentive, and we enjoyed every bite. (Meal paid for - all opinions are my own.)
Bent River Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Quad Cities Restaurants
Driving up to the Prairie Grille at SteepleGate Inn (Davenport, IA), it's hard to believe there is a good restaurant in the dated looking building. A narrow, low ceilinged entry hall takes things from bad to worse. But...it was definitely better than expected. Decent basic Americana here on the menu, very reasonable prices for a hotel restaurant, though wine prices seemed a bit high. If you put this restaurant in a better location and in a more attractive building, and it would be a neighborhood favorite. (Meal discounted - all opinions are my own.)
Prairie Grille at SteepleGate Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Quad Cities Restaurants
For our last meal, we stopped in to the Bad Boy'z Pizza & Pub (Moline, IL), which seems on the squalid side of something that sounded pretty good on paper. Seating inside and out (pretty crowded) , with friendly though noncommittal servers, and an option for a la carte or buffet meals. We opted for the buffet option and it was a bit strange, but ultimately pretty good. The pizzas were really tasty and there were quite a few options put out while we were there, but the salad and taco bars left more to be desired. I didn't even try the salad bar, as it just looked really unappetizing, but I gave the tacos a try. Tortillas were stuck together and the fillings seemed like an afterthought, but they turned out pretty well. I'd suggest the restaurant ditch those two options unless their willing to put some effort into the presentation and quality, and stick to the pizza.
Bad Boy'z Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We can't wait to go back to the Quad Cities, not only to experience more outdoors fun, but also to search out more great places to eat!

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

2015 William Fèvre Chablis Champs Royaux

2015 William Fèvre Chablis Champs Royaux

Descended from a family which had lived in the Chablis region for over 250 years, William Fèvre set up as a winemaker with 7 hectares of vineyards in 1959. The domain has expanded in the Chablis region to 78 hectares of vineyards, of which 15.9 hectares are Premiers Crus and 15.2 hectares are Grand Crus. The domain pays attention to environmental concerns and the vines have been cultivated using organic methods for many years. 2015 was considered a fantastic year, with exceptional weather conditions delivering exceptional wines.

While the classic pairing for Chablis is oysters, I'm allergic to all seafood, so we had to get creative with our pairing. We decided on a simple recipe for Chicken Francese over pasta, a definite winner with the lemon and herbs in the recipe playing off the citrus and floral notes in the wine.

Tasting Notes:
Chablis Champs Royaux 2015 Burgundy France: Chardonnay; aged for 8-10 months in 5- to 6-year-old barrels; pale gold in color; citrus, white stone fruit, and floral aromas; more of the same on the palate along with some saline and minerality; pleasant mouthfeel with great acidity with a long, subtly oaky finish; cork closure; (SRP $25).
*Wine provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.

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