Time to Decorate!

This past summer, instead of wine tasting (gasp), the Front Porch Wine Tasters spent most of our free time making fall decorations for the Manteca Pumpkin Fair. (All the proceeds go back to our local community).

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GOOD NEWS!  Follow Manteca Grocery Outlet on Facebook for a chance to win one of these next month!

It was a long dry summer.

I finally dusted off the Front Porch this past week to get back to drinking our way through all the great wines that Steve has in the wine department @MantecaGroceryOutlet.

Quick update (for those of you who’ve been following): Steve has yet to make the senior tour and the stairs remain unfinished.

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Camelot Moscato ~ 49Crows Chard ~ Adobe Red ~ ChopHouse Merlot

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Camelot Moscato from California

Elsewhere price $7.99 ~ Grocery Outlet price $2.99

500 Medals for Quality!

I wasn’t sure how this varietal would go over on the Front Porch as we don’t try many sweet wines. Terry took a sip, she liked it! She called it a desert wine and thought it had a nice blend. Scott is definitely not a fan of sweet wines, however he said it was nice paired with the spicy sausage as the spice cut right through the sweet. Larry tasted apricot, Ethan agreed. Terry commented that this wine was also nice with chocolate, it changes the flavor.

Winemakers notes: Pale lemon hue, vibrant aromatics of jasmine and peach nectar, intense floral and grape flavors, and inviting sweetness balanced by bright acidity.

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2013 49 Crows Chardonnay from Mendocino

Elsewhere price $19.99 ~ Grocery Outlet price $5.99

Scott started us off here, with a, “oh, that’s… That’s Nice!” Larry found the aroma interesting – maybe toffee? Steve commented that this was much better than the Moscato – good and fruity. Citrus, he added. Terry thought this chardonnay had a nice a finish. I thought it felt like a sauvignon blanc, Dara agreed.

4/5 stars from Winestyr.com: This pure and focused Chardonnay from Alder Springs Vineyard is on the lighter side and drinks well on its own or paired with lighter foods. Wines from this Mendocino vineyard have made it on the wine list at The French Laundry in Yountville and Alder Springs also supplies fruit to some of the best winemakers in the country for a variety of projects. A very well made Chardonnay with amazing fruit. This wine is a great value.

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2013 Adobe Red Blend from Paso Robles

Elsewhere price $12.99 ~ Grocery Outlet price $3.99

Larry tasted berries. Dara thought it was more like cherries, nice paired with the sea salt dark chocolate. Ethan thought this red blend left a taste of pepper on the tongue. Scott simply likes this, lol. Dara added, also pairs nicely with sharp cheddar.

3.7/5 stars from Vivino.com: This is a great wine to share with friends that are just starting to enjoy red wines. It is medium bodied with light acidity. It does have small sweetness to it but it is not over powering.

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2016 Chop House Merlot from Paso Robles

Elsewhere price $11.99 ~ Grocery Outlet price $4.99

Oh, I knew I’d like this one. My first reaction was: smooooth. Steve commented that this merlot was on the dry side and he tasted tobacco. He added that it paired well with the sea salt dark chocolate. Terry agreed with me, she said “mmmmm smooth. I like it.” She also said it was easy drinking, be careful with this one.

No on-line reviews for this wine… you’re just gonna havta take our word for it – This is a good wine.

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Bogus surrender = Secret resistance?

I think I finally broke Steve. His spirit I mean. Gone are the huffy breaths when he has to zig-zag through the boxes of decorations and carnival games that litter the entryway as I take hoarding supplies for the next upcoming event to a whole new level. No more do I get the scowling-face questions ‘what’s all this?’ As a matter of fact, I think he’s become quite accustomed to his laundry being kept in a stack on the chair rather than on hangers. Long ago, he came to terms with the fact that I think –as long as there’s no party at the house coming up – dusting is for suckers. But, this is whole new level of complacency.

He actually helped me unload my car in the parking lot of Home Depot in order to fit sheets of plywood in, then repack it all in and around the plywood. He had to ride with his seat pulled all the way forward and a box of something-or-other on his lap and his only comment? ‘You travel like a homeless person’. But, not a word of complaint when I left the driveway covered in sawdust, he just came behind me with the leaf blower. Apparently, as long as he can access his golf clubs and fantasy football app, he’s content.

I kinda miss the contention, I never thought he’d surrender. but….

Perhaps he is not broken.

Perhaps he is on to me and is trying some misguided attempt at reverse psychology.

Time to step it up. Game on Steve – game on.

There are only 8 more weekends until Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you, but I thought Fall would never get here. Last year it was like summer lasted all the way to Spring. I felt a chill in the air this morning and that was all the inspiration needed to start thinking about Fall centerpieces and finishing household DIY projects before the Holiday parties! My goal? Finally finish re-finishing the stairs and baseboards. I wonder how Steve would like to have a stair or two missing as I work. Taking the stairs two at time is good exercise, right? Or, maybe I block the stairs entirely and have the family use a ladder to get to their bedrooms. This is gonna be fun.

But, first – start saving your wine bottles! Here’s some easy Fall centerpieces if you’re hosting and gift ideas if you’re not, it’s time to get crafty…

000 wine 1 000 wine 2 000 wine 000 wine 3

000 wine 5 000 wine 4

I LOVE these! They’re made with kitchen towels!!! Click here for a how-to: OnSuttonPlace.com

I started my bottle collection this week with these:

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Masterpiece Chardonnay ~ Stama Chardonnay ~ Michel-Schlumberger Red ~ Three Oaks Cab

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2012 Masterpiece Chardonnay Alexander Valley $7.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

Larry noticed the citrusy aroma and Terry commented that is was creamy. Kerri said she liked it, it’s very light. Arvin agreed that is was light and added fruity. Steve said, ‘is good’, like a caveman.

On-line review: This is a fresh, lively, balanced Chardonnay that is not bogged down by too much oak or malolactic manipulation. It has amazing fruit and texture, clean and bright, with just the right amount of acid! Amazing Value! (Christie Cartwright, Hollywood)

From the Winemaker: This Chardonnay was made in an unoaked style, fermented very cold, which preserves the delicate Chardonnay fruit flavors and highlights the natural acidity, minerality and clean finish. A very small percentage of Viognier was blended with the Chardonnay to add a floral note and complexity.

Without the influence of oak, the fresh pear, citrus and tropical fruit flavors, deft balance and clean, seamless finish of this wine make it a perfect choice to pair with pan seared or grilled seafood and poultry dishes prepared with lighter sauces. It is also an excellent choice with subtly seasoned Asian cuisine.

 

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2012 Stama Chardonnay Lodi $3.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Terry thought this Chardonnay was tart and Larry found it to be dry. Arvin said it was peppery. This was not a favorite on the Front Porch, but it seems to be selling pretty well and check out this accolade:

Gold Medal winner of San Francisco International Wine competition 2013 ~Stama Winery

Tasting notes: This classic chardonnay is pastel yellow with the faintest hue of lime.  It opens with a white flower nose that includes honeysuckle, almond blossom and white clover.  In the mouth there’s a hint of vanilla with a burst of grapefruit, yellow pear, apple and melon, finishing in long butter-creamy notes due to the French oak fermentation. 

 

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2012 Michel-Schlumberger Maison Rouge California $4.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

Larry started us off and said this is lip smackin! He tasted plum. Arvin thought it paired well with the pizza (Steve was in charge of food this week). Larry added, ‘this is deliciously dry’. Terry asked, ‘Larry said that? He must be drunk’. Lol. I think it’s official, he likes red wine! Terry and Kerri agreed that this red blend is dry and Joe said, ‘Schlumberger is no humberger’. I’m pretty sure that means he liked it.

89.1 Points from Cellartracker.com: Red raspberry aromas and quite herbal (parsley & thyme). The palate largely matches with cool red fruit & herbs. Medium acid tannins/acid. I could see this aging a few years but is drinking perfectly well now

From the label: Maison Rouge, our “house red,” is layered with rich fruit flavors. Always an easy enhancement for casual fare, it’s the perfect wine to enjoy among friends.

 

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2012 Three Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast $4.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

Becky tasted plums and berries, Kerri commented that this Cab is yummy. Arvin agreed, saying, ‘that’s a wine you don’t have to drink – you can just smell it and enjoy it.’ He did drink it though, he said it’s oaky and it slides right down your throat. Terry thought it would pair well with chocolate and Larry thought it tasted like berry pie.

I couldn’t find any on-line reviews on this Cab, but I did find this: 2014 Silver Medal Award winner The Seattle Food & Wine Experience

From the label: The North Coast growing season was slightly cooler than normal with few heat spikes throughout the Summer. These moderate conditions favored color, flavor and tannin development, producing grapes with exceptional complexity and concentrated flavors.

Explosive Finish

So, for the last couple of weekends, Steve and I have been travelling. But, through the invention of technology and the widespread availability of Wi-Fi, I was able to continue sending out email blasts (sign up here) and posting Bargains on Facebook to completely fool you into thinking we were at work. We spent a long weekend in Palm Springs visiting family and we went to Green Bay, WI to watch football for our anniversary. Yes, we are Packer Backers. And, before all you Niner fans decide to hate us, just remember that without us you would’ve started the season 0-3. You’re welcome. (Congrats on last night’s win over the Rams!)

But, I digress. This post is about wine not football.

Let me regroup.

Since we’ve been away from home, not only has my DIY projects been on hold, (I like to have multiple major projects going on simultaneously – even at the risk of Steve’s sanity – that’s a whole other blog that has yet to be written) but, obviously there’s been no time for regular household cleaning. So, I headed home early to put the house in order. As orderly as it can be without any kitchen cupboard doors. It’s a work in progress…

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This week we heard a rumor that there were A LOT of people coming to the Front Porch to taste wine, so I had to do something about the kitchen dust (from sanding the cabinets) that covered everything in the entire house. When I say everything – I mean I own a ridiculous amount of wonderfully useless, but treasured, items and they all had to be dusted. Dusting is such a tediously stupid chore. Every week it has to be done again, even if you didn’t sand your kitchen cabinets without covering everything in plastic.

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Also, somehow the flowerbed in my front yard became neglected. The flowers are all gone and the grass has taken it over! Weeds are fairly easy to pull, but grass? Not so much. No time to fix that just yet. I cleverly disguised the problem with pumpkins and scarecrows. It seems as though I grew the grass 12” tall on purpose to accent my Fall decorations. Brilliant.

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Whew! Done. I’m ready for wine tasting.

First up, Riondo Pianello Soave $3.99. Sounds so Italian! blog 11

The color was incredibly light and the aroma was so – I don’t even know how to describe it – so delicious! Terry thought it had a very pleasant bouquet – understated. Kerri said it was not too over-powering, very mellow. Arvin said it was fruity and Larry also thought it was mellow. The Red Hat Ladies (new to the Front Porch this week) said it would good with fruit like crisp apples.

The label reads: ‘Excelsea, the new style Soave. Generous floral nose; elegant, zippy, apricot and pear palate, zesty acidity and lingering mineral finish. Delicious with classic Italian and Asian dishes.

Of course, we indulged! 48 piece Asian Appetizers $9.99 with Jamaican Style Jerk sauce 99¢.blog 9

Wine #2, 2011 Stonefly Vineyards Chardonnay $4.99 – elsewhere price $19.99! blog 6

On-line description: ‘Russian River Valley Chardonnay is renowned for acidity and lean, Burgundian style. StoneFly’s Chard follows suit, with apple, pear, and toast aromas trumping candied-citrus-peel aftertaste. The wine is light-bodied (an advantage to the balance—the softness is a foil to bright acidity) but offers enough to be a serious food-pairing white. The creamy lees contact and French oak regime come through with each taste. Drink now.’  ~source

We paired this wine with chilled green grapes, perfect. Larry and Terry both tasted apricots and said it was heartier than the first wine. Larry said it was more prominent, Terry didn’t agree with that, lol. Kerri said it had a delightfully fruity flavor without being too sweet. And, not overpowering like typical Chardonnay. Connie had a second glass and as she poured what was left in the bottle she announced, “I like this one!” Becky said it is dry with a touch of sweetness and would be good with chicken noodle soup this Fall.

Next up, Totally Random Sweet Red Wine $3.99. blog 8

Sometimes choosing a wine by its label is just the right thing to do.

Of course I liked this blend! I always love a blend, we all know that. The Red Hat ladies both liked it, not too sweet with a nice round flavor. Arvin said it was peppery – in a good way. Larry, who always prefers white wine, said it was not oakey. Just sweet enough, and he likes it!

To check out the tasting notes, click here. The label reads: ‘When a quiet night at home becomes a dance party, or a dinner with friends starts at dusk and ends at sunrise – life is giving you its best when you least expect it. So prepare for the unexpected. Be. Live. Think. Totally Random.’

Last, but not least, Roudon Smith Winery 2007 Syrah $5.99 – elsewhere price $16.99! blog 5

This was my favorite of the night.

We paired it with Premium White Cheddar $2.99, Hard Salami $5.99 and Toasteds $4.99blog 7

Larry says this one is oakey. Steve said it starts to mellow out when allowed to breathe. Whoa! Where did that come from Steve? You sound like you know what you’re doing… Rudy commented that it would be great with a nice big slab of red meat – Yeah. Steve seconds that. Becky thought it was smokey with a bite and should go with a rack of lamb and winter vegetables. Joe liked the smoothness and said there is not much to at first but has an explosive finish (who doesn’t like an explosive finish?). Definitely dry.

‘The wine is done in a Rhone style and shows layers of fruit with a herbaceous finish.  The wine has little oak influence, again very similar to what you would find from the Rhone, since most was aged in neutral American oak.  It is a delightful bottle of wine to be enjoyed over the next year or two.’ – source

Wow! Great comments this week, thanks to all for joining me on the Front Porch.