I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while, but acting on a tip from Lindsay and A White Bear I was sent a free bottle of the 2004 Amelie by the Mankas Hills Vineyards. (It didn’t come with any obligation to write about it.) I also decided to pick up a bottle of the 2002 Contado Cab, for which I paid full retail (New Yorkers can get ‘em both at Sherry-Lehman.) I lack the chops to be wine critic–trying to communicate the quality of wine immediately makes me think “OK? Now, stick your nose in it. Don’t be shy, really get your nose in there. Mmm… a little citrus… maybe some strawberry…and, oh, there’s just like the faintest soupçon of like asparagus and just a flutter of a, like a, nutty Edam cheese…are you chewing gum?” But I can say that both have become part of my wine rotation. I prefer the cab slightly to the Amelie (which is a cab/merlot blend), but perhaps by less of a margin than I was expecting. I rarely taste purported hints of mocha in a wine, but in the Amelie I did; it was quite complex for the genre. I had a half bottle tonight with a ziti a la bolognese and a spinach/chick pea salad, and it complemented it very well. When it comes to west coast wines I try cabs almost exclusively, and I thought the complex but very fruity straight cab measured up well to others in its price range. I would definitely recommend either if you like the varietals in question–it’s good wine for the price.
In addition, the Times has a good article about American-made rye (as opposed to Canadian) whiskey today. I’ve only sampled two–the Van Winkle is terrific, and the Rittenhouse is a bargain; and thanks to a friend with a PhD in mixology I can testify that it makes an excellent Manhattan.