The nice folks at Arizona Stronghold Winery sent me a bottle of their rosé as a sample back in the fall. I actually reviewed it in November. However, we’ve had a recent death in the family, in Arizona, so I thought I’d pull out some of the Arizona reviews and repost … it’s both in memory of Uncle Greg and in celebration of where we’ll be spending the upcoming weekend.
The 2009 Arizona Stronghold Dayden Cochise County Rosé is a blend of Zinfandel, Grenache, Sangiovese, Malbec, and Sauvignon Blanc from three different vineyard locations in Chochise County, Arizona. They chose to make this rosé in the saignée style. Saignée is a method of rosé production that involves bleeding off the juice after limited contact with the skins. The juice only takes on a little of the color of the grape skins, due to the short time in which they had contact, leading to the pink color. The color is a nice medium-dark pink, nothing so peppy that you’ll be embarrassed to hold your glass in public. You can tell immediately that the wine has some heft.
The first thing we noticed was the rose petal nose. I hate saying that a rosé smells like roses, as it seems rather cliche, but there’s no denying that Kevin & I both got a floral aroma. The flavors are full of fruits and flowers, with some light strawberries wrapped in with some sour cherries and crushed flower petals. I know, that sounds ridiculous, but trust me. At only 11.9% AbV, this wine goes down fast and we powered through our bottle. It’s very balanced – you’re not overwhelmed by any one specific flavor or characteristic, and instead enjoy the entire delicate blend of flavors.
The Dayden has structure and heft – it’s not just a back-porch summertime rosé. The winery recommends pairing it with grilled vegetables, cold meats, and salads. I think we may have overchilled it, so that’s something you really need to watch with this one. While we enjoyed it right out of the fridge, it had a much sweeter finish when it was cold. As it warmed up a bit, it had a fuller, less sweet finish and we liked it even better. Definitely chill this wine, but you might want to pull it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you drink it, just to get it up to optimum temperature.
I was hoping this wine might go well with Thanksgiving dinner, and while it might pair nicely with the cranberry portion, I don’t know about the rest. However, it is probably the perfect wine to pull out when you’re having a cold turkey sandwich on Black Friday, after a long day of shopping in the crazy local mall.
You’re probably thinking I just reviewed a wine you need to fly to Arizona to get your hands on. Not true. Recently the good folks at Dep’s Fine Wines have started carrying Arizona Stronghold, so head over there and pick up a bottle for around $12.99.
Small Gully Mr. Black’s Concoction 2004 Shiraz Viognier, Barossa Valley, Australia:
I first had this when we went to Bouquet in January 2008. I loved it and searched everywhere for it. Currently you can find it at Dep’s, Party Town, and Party Source, I believe. Back in 2008, I picked up several bottles of the 2004 vintage and I just finished off the last of them.
Mr Black’s Shiraz-Viognier Concoction consists of 4% Viognier, 96% Shiraz, and it has a powerful and fragrant bouquet. This is a high-alcohol fruit bomb. I don’t know why I like it so much – it’s not my normal style at all. I find it to be well-balanced; I could certainly feel the alcohol but I couldn’t taste it. The fruit seems to contain the wine and it didn’t seem “hot.” To say it is fruit-forward is an understatement, though. There are all sorts of berries and cherries and dark fruits, all racing to get to your tongue first. It’s definitely jammy. This Concoction is a big wine, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s also a fun wine. I’m not sure how it would work with a meal, but it pairs well with cheese and I enjoyed it while munching on my favorite, Parmigiano Reggiano. In Northern Ky, Mr Black’s Concoction retails for around $20.
It’s summer and I think Sangria is a wonderfully yummy summer beverage. It doesn’t require (should never use) expensive wine and it’s fun to make. Not only that, but the soaked fruit is sort of a fun bonus that you can’t get when you buy pre-made Sangria in a bottle.
Alternatively, I also recommend a Sangriatini – one of my favorite drinks that can easily be made by the glass instead of by the punch bowl.
But back to that punch bowl … here are three versions I like to make for summer parties: red, followed by pink and white after the jump. The red version – Sangria Rouge – is my favorite.
Oh, and Sangria goes great with Paella!
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup OJ
1/3 cup lemon juice from concentrate
1/3 cup lime juice from concentrate
3/4 cup brandy (but really, just dump in the bottle if you have room)
2-750 ml bottles of medium-dry red wine, chilled (burgundy or 3 Thieves jug wines work well)
Fruit slices: Orange, peach, plum, other fruits
1. In pitcher or bowl, combine sugar and juices.
2. Stir until sugar dissolves.
3. Cover and chill.
4. Just before serving, add wine and fruit.
5. Serve over ice.
1 cup OJ
1/2 cup sugar
1-1.5L white zinfandel (what else is it good for?)
1 btl brandy
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice
1 lime, thinly sliced and seeded
1 orange, thinly sliced and seeded
16-20 ice cubes
1. Combine OJ and sugar in small pan.
2. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.
3. Pour into a 2 quart container with tight-fitting lid.
4. Add wine, lime or lemon juice, and fruit.
5. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours to blend flavors.
6. Place ice cubes in small bowl or large pitcher.
7. Pour mixture over ice.
1 bottle Spanish white wine (I recommend a bottle of Naia)
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup peach brandy
6 tbsp thawed lemonade concentrate
8 oz sliced peaches
1 cup sliced green grapes
1 cup sliced red grapes
1. Mix together wine, sugar, brandy, and lemonade until well mixed.
2. Add in the fruits and refrigerate overnight. (Nicely alcoholic fruits at this point.)
3. Serve the next day from a large pitcher filled with ice.
Last year, Kevin & I got to take a cocktail class from Josh Durr, and one of the drinks we made was a mint julep. Since the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow, I thought I’d repost such an excellent mint julep recipe and experience.
The most important thing I learned from Josh in this particular session was that, with a mint julep, the method is more important than the ingredients.
Place the mint in the bottom of the cup.
Pour in 1/2 oz of maple syrup.
We used this in place of simple syrup and I really loved the results.
Add 1 oz of Bourbon.
I believe we used Ancient Ancient Age in the classroom, but pick your favorite. Josh also suggested Old Grand-Dad and Old Weller.
Roll the muddler on the mint, rolling towards the top of the glass. Make sure to get the oils on the rim on the glass.
This takes a certain amount of technique, as I learned. Don’t pound on the mint either – you want the mint to be minty, and pounding? Well that just makes it bitter.
Next, crush your ice.
I used an old fashioned ice crusher Josh had handy. I swear my grandma had one on her bar and I loved it. Kevin pounded away on a bag of ice with the muddler. Both methods are valid.
Add crushed ice to your glass until it is filled just under the edge.
Stir, pulling up from the bottom of the glass.
Next, add another 1 oz of bourbon.
Add a second layer of ice, so that it sort of resembles the shape of a sno-cone.
Garnish with 2 short straws and a sprig of mint.
Honestly, this made one of the best mint juleps I’ve ever had. What was even more surprising was that I made it myself! I know it sounds easy in the directions, but the technique – especially with muddling – is tricky to get the hang of.
Happy Derby Day!
Photos from Business Courier article about our class, by photographer Bruce Crippen.
So I know it’s Cinco de Mayo. But let’s talk about more important things … like the Kentucky Derby.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved the Kentucky Derby. Between the horses and the hats, I’m in absolute heaven. So I thought I’d share with you, over the next three or so days, some of my favorite Derby drink recipes.
We’ll start with perhaps the easiest, which is Bourbon Slush. With any of these drinks, make sure you use a nice bourbon. The quality of the bourbon affects the quality of the drink, no matter how you mix it. For this particular recipe, I like to use Woodford Reserve from the special Derby edition bottle.
I got this recipe from my old friend Kate, and it is by far the best slush I have tasted or made. I tend to make it the night before a party to ensure a good amount of slushiness.
Kate’s Bourbon Slush
Step 1: Tea
2 1/2 cups boiling water
2 peach tea bags
1 cup sugar
Combine the boiling water and tea bags.
Once the tea is set, remove the bags and pourinto a large plastic container. (There must be room for the tea to expand once in the freezer.)
Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
Step 2: Those yummy flavors
6 cups cold water
1 large can, frozen lemonade
1 small can, frozen orange juice
2 cups Kentucky bourbon
Add remaining ingredients to the tea.
Stir until all ingredients are well blended.
Freeze in plastic container, covered, for 6 to 8 hours, sometimes longer depending on your freezer. Spoon into glasses and top off with Sprite or 7Up.
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