Monthly Archives: July 2009

Tasting La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Ventoux Rouge 2007

La Vieille Ferme Rouge 2007I keep coming back to this wine. Founded by Jean Pierre Perrin, the owner of renowned Chateauneuf de Pape house Chateau de Beaucastel, this house wine house consistently produces an undervalued, over-producing bottle of juice every year. I’ve reviewed it before, and the 2007 vintage is mighty fine, dear reader – just the thing for a value-driven wine lover who isn’t afraid to wander the dustier aisles of French wine real estate.

Cotes du Ventoux is a tiny little area in the larger Rhone region of France. That’s immaterial unless you just like knowing your geography – because what matters the most about this wine is not its countrified label or its low, low price (under $7, typically), but rather its snazzy one-size-fits-all style.

Comfortable in crystal or in a jelly glass, this wine does not peer at your dinner disapprovingly, or wonder why your friends are drinking Tecate from a can or vodka-and-cokes. Like a faithful golden retriever, this wine is just glad to be with you, alone or in a crowd, dressed to the nines or slumped on the couch with holes in your socks. There’s no judgement in this wine, only Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, and Carignan – and no more than 30% of any of those, as mandated by French law.

Raspberry/blackberry fruit on the nose, with a spicy/cedar hint around the edges. Palate has lots of acidity, making this one juicy mouthful of red berries and pepper. Just enough tannin, so it clings slightly to the teeth, as if the wine is running its hand along the slats of the banister on its way down the stairs.

But ignore that last paragraph and just drink it! Drink it with gumbo, red beans and rice, turkey-and-cranberry-sauce sandwiches, or gazpacho. Chill it down a little, like you would with a Beaujolais Nouveau, and swig in peace.

Tasting Oxford Landing Viognier 2006

I buy all nearly all my wine in large batches.  Part of it is because there are frequently deals in my local wine shops in which you get 10-20% off when you buy a case. A mixed case, of course – I’m never in a position to buy a whole case of one wine at a time, as tempted as I might be.  Though I admit that I have considered buying that Famega by the case.

So in this last batch of wine, I bought a selection of white wines under $10.  It’s not easy to get a viognier for around $10 – the grape is a pain to grow and all – but Oxford Landing is a good bet for value, no matter the grape. I think I paid about $8 for this bottle.

Oxford Landing Viognier 2006: pretty yellow

Oxford Landing Viognier 2006: pretty yellow

This is a bit of a case of “you get what you pay for,” but not to the point of Stop Drinking.  The nose is heavily perfumed, almost soapy, with notes of overripe peach and newly cut oak slats. Palate = lemon, nectarine, something greenish, and cream.  Weirdish, like apple ice cream.

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that this wine did not pair well with a PBJ (J was strawberry jam).  I was thinking about that, and viognier is actually a wine that I would have picked for PBJ, in that the body might stand up to the peanut butter oil.  Alas, a tannic wine would probably be better; the viognier was just nasty with it.

The wine WAS quite pleasent with beef stroganoff, though.  Makes sense; cream to cream, you know.  Unless you like a thick and creamy wine for sipping, this is not a “sit down and glug a glass in front of the TV” kind of wine, to my mind.  Good for pairing with creamy dishes, as mentioned, and perhaps some cheesy enchiladas or some such. Peach melba.  Fondue?  Enchiladas suizas might be the perfect dish… just brainstorming here.

Tasting Famega Vinho Verde 2008

So simple, even a child understands it!

So simple, even a child understands it!

This is my model wine for the summer.  I don’t know if you recall that I live in Texas?  We had about 67 days in June in which temperatures reached triple digits this year.  I always say that summer in Texas is like winter in the north – the weather irresistably drives one indoors for months, very inspiring of cabin fever.

(tin bugle sounds) Famega Vinho Verde to the rescue!  It’s so clear it almost looks like water – except with the slightest of green tinges.  Slight, as well, the effervescence in the glass – but it’s there, and it make this wine even crisper and lighter on the palate, and more fun to drink.  Flavors are Granny Smith apple, yellow Sweet-Tart and an inclination toward herbs and Honeydew.  The alcohol level is a smoking low 9.5%, making it really too easy to have a second glass, or a third.

I bought this little darling for under $6 at Spec’s.  It’s a screw-cap so you don’t have to pack a corkscrew to the picnic.

I’d tell you about the grapes and region, but they’re the only things complicated about this gorgeous gulper of a wine, so why worry about all that?  Buy a case and drink it until the air over the blacktop stops shimmering!

I’m Baaaaaaaaack….

Did you wonder if you’d ever hear from me again?  I wondered, too. I kind of thought I wouldn’t be back – that the Scamp was not motherhood-friendly.  I’ve been blogging, off and on, at Careening and Gestating, and now at Wigglet McFancyPants.  But it was pretty impossible to keep Scamping when I had no taste for wine while pregnant and then insufficient courage to risk wine drinking while feeding a colicky baby nothing but my breastmilk.

Colic?  Ugh. Don’t get me started.

I finally started drinking wine again a month or so ago, almost more as medicine than for enjoyment.  Returning to the Scamp with little money and less time to taste wine is going to be a challenge, but I hope that you, dearest reader, will suffer through it with me.  I imagine that more than a few of the denizens of the Mystical Interwebs find themselves equally challenged, both financially and temporally.

On that note, here are tips for all those New Mother Wineaux out there:

1.) Drink cheap.  exersaucers and convertible car seats and diapers and baby pools and rompers and, most of all, DAY CARE, has begun to act as a budget-eating virus on your life.  Evidently, this doesn’t end for a long time.  Once you start drinking wine again, you’re going to want to do it a lot, so don’t imagine that you’re going to be quaffing Sine Qua Non – or even Shafer – until the little tyrant is at least in high school.

2.) Drink simple.  The last thing I want to think hard about after a long day of work, child ferrying, breast pumping, rushing through traffic, scraping leftovers into a semblance of dinner and getting the kid to FINALLY go to sleep… well, the last thing I want to puzzle over is a complex, hard-to-warm-up-to bottle of wine.  The pleasures reserved for new parents are simple ones.  Use your brain power to eke out more than 10 minutes to yourself every week.

3.) Drink food-friendly.  If you’re breastfeeding, you’re probably going to be drinking a glass of wine with dinner.  If you’re not breastfeeding, you probably need to multi-task and will be drinking a glass of wine with dinner.  And since dinner in my household – I don’t know about yours; maybe you have Chateaubriand every night! – but since dinner in my household is a PBJ about twice a week, I stock my fridge with wine that’s high in acidity and low in tannin.  As an example, Viognier + PBJ = 🙁

4.) Drink a lot.  Ha!  Just kidding. I figure that a glass of wine with dinner at night will, at worst, encourage the Wigglet to sleep better that evening.  I have not done any research, internet or otherwise, so I am currently Making This Shit Up to the Nth degree.  For the record, I hate Pump & Dump.  It’s such a pain in the ass to express breast milk that I can NOT just throw it away.  I’d rather exercise a little restraint.  Especially considering that’s all the exercise I get these days!

I’ll be trying to give you a run-down of some of my favorite wines that fulfill all of the above guidelines.  If this can help a wine-deprived soul up to her elbows in poop and spit up, all the better!