Amore da Roma

You have to realize that I am an old dinosaur especially about old haunts in Detroit, which has always been my stomping ground.  Some of the restaurants in Detroit were legendary and are part of the history of the town.  We have gallon bottles filled to the brim with matchbooks that we saved from almost every restaurant that we ever ate at, and plenty of them are curios of days gone by.  Of course, matchbooks are curios of days gone by, but I always thought that they were a great keepsake, especially if the restaurant was great.  There are plenty of restaurants that have not survived over the decades that I remember, and that is normal for the restaurant business.  Some have been resurrected by family members, some banking on the foggy memories of people and some have continued, even as they have changed hands. 

Amore da Roma is one that has changed hands as it was Roma Café for ever and was always found on the outskirts of the Eastern Market, where it is still found. The building was built by the Marazza family in 1888 and it served the vendors and farmers of Easter Market, and officially became the Roma Café in 1890. In 1918, it was purchased by John Battaglia and Morris Sossi, and continued with the Sossi family until 2017. The Executive Chef for four years at the Roma Café, bought the business and renamed it as Amore da Roma and continued the menu that kept people going there forever, so it seems.  There was a group of us having dinner there, that could appreciate an old Steak and Pasta joint, as I would call it.  The dishes are not pretentious or frou-frou, but you leave fully sated, as the meals have always been designed to please the hard workers at the Eastern Market and any one else that could appreciate honest Italian food. We started with dishes of Calamari and Escargot.  We followed that with soup and great breadsticks.  My Bride had Broiled Lake Superior Whitefish and I went with Shrimp Scampi, I mean one of us had to have an Italian dish. 

They had a very interesting Italian White Wine from a respected winery, but even though the computer said that they had two bottles of the wine, they could not find either one.  They offered me another wine at twenty percent off the wine carte price for the inconvenience and I agreed to it.  It was not as interesting, but it was a very sound wine.  We had a bottle of Louis Latour Pouilly-Fuisse 2018 from the Maconnais. Maison Louis Latour is a major negocient producer of red and white wines of Burgundy and was founded in 1797 and is still family owned and operated.  Not only are they a negocient, they also own seventy-two acres of Grand Cru vineyards, and also the largest holder of land in Burgundy and produce wines in all price ranges; and one of the most widely recognized names worldwide for the region.   Pouilly-Fuisse is the finest appellation for white wines in the Maconnais, and there are four communes that are part of the appellation.  There are no Premier Cru designations for the region, so one goes with the reputation of the maker.  The area was drawn around 1922, but officially recognized in 1936 and only Chardonnay grapes can be used, and the best of the wines offer a terroir showcasing limestone in the finish of this crisp wine.  The vines for this wine average about thirty years of age and the are planted in vineyards of heavy clay and limestone. The wine is aged about ten months in Stainless Steel.  It was a pretty golden color with a floral nose and notes of melon and almonds with good acidity and a decent finish offering some terroir.  Just a traditional place to still get a great meal without breaking the bank.     

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From Sesame Street to Delle Venezie

Most people think of Detroit as a dingy rust-bucket town of automobile manufacturing and a murder rate that rivals Chicago.  There is a lot more, but if you only pay attention to the headlines and media, you may miss out.  There is a lot of culture, way beyond even my beloved Motown, that I grew up with.  One of the premier museums in the United States of America is The Henry Ford, and the two main parts are The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village.  There was a group of us going and it was quite a hot day, so we went to the Museum to especially see the special exhibit on the puppet artistry of Jim Henson.

I thought that I had appreciated Jim Henson from the time my children were watching Sesame Street and then the Muppets in their various television shows and movies.  I discovered that I had actually started appreciating his magic in my youth going back to 1963 on the Jimmie Dean Show and his Rawlf/Rowlf the dog and later on The Hollywood Palace.  So, I predated Kermit the Frog and most of his other creations.  It was a beautiful exhibit featuring films, drawings and of course the puppets.  I also got very nostalgic as there was a huge continuous montage of perhaps a hundred different episodes going on at the same time, so that you could not concentrate on all the actors and actresses that appeared on The Muppet Show, and of course each clip had to end with Statler and Hilton.  As I looked around, I think that I realized that the parents were having more fun compared to their children that they had in tow. 

We stopped for a quick snack at a new eatery in the Museum, the last time I was there, they were still working on it.  The restaurant is run by Plum Market, a specialty grocer in the Detroit area, and they were offering pre-made salads, snacks, sandwiches as well as hot dishes like braised rib tacos.  Plum Market also employs Madeline Triffon who was the first female Master Sommelier in America, as their In-house Sommelier.  On a hot day, the perfect wine that they were offering was Kris “Artist Cuvee” Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT 2019 from the Winebow Group.  The label is the work of Riccardo Schweizer, a friend of the winery owner, a native of Northern Italy and a student of Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro.  Delle Venezie is one of the best-known designations of Italy, because of all the Pinot Grigio wine.  In 2017 the name was transferred to a new DOC and the IGT changed its name to Trevenezie, but if the winery doesn’t adhere to the rules of the DOC, it can still use the IGT designation.  There were no production notes on this wine, but I think it is safe to say that the wine was made in Stainless Steel to keep the fruit and the acidity as fresh as possible.  The nose was very light and so was the wine, it was what we call a quaffable wine and perfect for a hot day.    

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The Vault on First

I am not doing a takeoff on an old Abbot and Costello routine.  I heard about this restaurant as it was being built and then I heard more about it, after it had its grand opening.  My Bride and I are not Mr. and Mrs. First Nighter, so we usually wait until the dust settles and the help gets acclimated.  This is not the first restaurant that we have been to, that was formerly a bank.  One place we went to, actually had a table for diners in the vault, and the ceiling of the vault had been removed, so no one would get claustrophobic.  The vault at this restaurant basically greeted us, as we walked in.  We were in downtown Wyandotte, Michigan and the restaurant used to be the National Bank of Wyandotte.

We started off with a charming basket of fresh bread and breadsticks with salted butter, and I seldom if ever have bread at home.  My Bride was debating between a salad or the soup, which was a Curried-Ginger Carrot Puree, but she went with a Poached Pear Salad of field greens, roasted candied pecans, bleu cheese and an herbed balsamic vinaigrette.  I, as you have learned over the years, am not a salad fan and I didn’t care for either of the salads offered or the soup, but our waitress, created me a basic salad of field greens, heirloom tomatoes, English cucumbers, shaved radishes and an Italian dressing, and I was pleased.  Not only was our waitress, capable and could think on her feet, she also brought a small dish of the soup, so that my Bride could see, if she had missed out. My Bride then surprised me, by ordering the “Dillinger Burger” which was a char-gilled Wagyu burger infused with Chorizo, caramelized onion and roasted Fresno Chile with Pepper-Jack cheese, but she by-passed on the Brioche bun and had a side of grilled asparagus.  I had a sixteen-ounce cold-smoked Tomahawk Pork Chop that was char-grilled with a Marsala fig compote, and a side of “Potato Jennie” (roasted and spiced diced potatoes) and a side of grilled asparagus.  Our waitress was great, and later I found out that she was from my old neighborhood in Detroit, but of course, she was much younger, as is the case with most people that I meet.  She put our faith in the next generation, as we had poor service in the retail sector, just before we had dinner.

The only fault that we had was that I ordered a “Gran Reserva” and they brought me a Reserva, so, I switched and requested a bottle of Matanzas Creek Winery Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County 2019.  I knew that I could make it work with my dish, it may not have been perfect for my Bride, but she is really into Sauvignon Blanc these days.  Over the past forty years, Matanzas Creek Winery has been tweaking their wines, even using different vessels for aging and they are now a certified sustainable farm.  This particular wine was aged on fine lees for a couple of months, with occasional stirring in Stainless Steel to maintain the fruit of the juice.  The wine was a pretty pale straw color with a floral nose that also suggested melons and passion fruit.  It offered notes of honeydew and ripe pear and a bright acidity that made you want to have another sip.   We had a nice dinner at Vault on First, and yes, “What’s on Second and I Don’t Know is on Third.” 

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Two Cabs from Arrow & Branch

One of the joys of visiting my local wine shop, The Fine Wine Source, is the chance to try many different wines and different styles.  They had just received some new vintages from Arrow & Branch Estate of Napa Valley.  The owners are the Contursi family and they are famed numismatists that have handled most of the famous coins issued in this country, and they are also fans of Benjamin Franklin.  Steve and Seanne Contursi fell in love with the wines of Bordeaux and wanted to make wines like that in California.  It is fun to taste New World wines that evoke the Old World and are not big and jammy to curry favor with some wine reviewers.  They have decided to make wines that please them, and hopefully others will also appreciate their efforts.  While they live in Laguna Beach, California; they are still close enough to Napa Valley and they bought the Etude Wines estate of Tony Soter who was famed for his “Little Creek” Cabernet Franc wine, their favorite varietal.   While I did not taste any Cabernet Franc wines, I did taste two of their Cabernet Sauvignon wines and the excellent work achieved by their winemaker Jennifer Williams.  

The Arrow & Branch “Black Label” Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2017 was a great starting point.  Here was a blend of ninety-two percent Cabernet Sauvignon, six percent Merlot and two percent Petit Verdot.  The fruit was from two different sub-appellations (St. Helena and Atlas Peak) so it carries the basic Napa Valley appellation.  The reason being is that the fruit was harvested from the Lewelling, Criscione, Stagecoach and Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyards.  The wine was aged for twenty months in French Oak, of which sixty-five percent were new and they produced two-hundred-ninety-six cases of this wine.  This really inky-dark garnet/purplish wine offered notes of black cherries and plums, and delivered the dark fruits along with some spices and a nice lingering finish of terroir.  Totally balanced now, give it some time in the cellar and you will complain that you didn’t buy enough.

The Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Vine Hill Ranch Vineyard Oakville 2018 was the second red wine that I tried from the winery.  While there weren’t any aging notes on this wine in the technical page, I will presume that this wine was probably aged for twenty months in French Oak with a mixture of new and old and there was only one-hundred-sixty-two cases made of this wine.  This dark garnet wine offered notes of black berries and currents and chocolate and strong tannins and terroir that need time in the cellar to tame, and I think it will be really nuanced with plenty of layers of flavor to enjoy. 

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A White from Langhe and Atlas Peak

I realize that I am bouncing all over the place talking about these two wines, but I recently had them at my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source and they are definitely worth mentioning.  In my early years, I have to admit that I did not try that many white wines, because I was foolish and back then, the word of the day was macho.  White wines were not considered macho, and that was my mistake, as I have been admiring and buying plenty of white wines these days.  Fifty years ago, white wines were not that prevalent, which helped my case at the time, but now I look back and realize that I probably missed out on some wonderful gems.

Let us start with Poderi e Cantine Oddero Langhe DOC Riesling 2016, and this wine is made by Giacomo Oddero the brother of Luigi Oddero.  Oddero is a leading estate in the Piedmont, based in the district of Barolo, and they have been producing wines since the 18th Century.  They have thirty-five hectares and almost half of that is Barolo DOCG.  Langhe is a subregion of the Piedmont in the province of Cuneo, and the Langhe DOC covers Rosso, Bianco, Rosato, blends, varietals, still, frizzante, novello or passito.  It also allows for varietals that are not traditional Piedmontese grapes.  The Riesling vineyards were planted in 2006 along side a vineyard of Chardonnay that was planted in the Nineties.  The grapes are refrigerated for twelve hours after harvest, then destemmed and pressed whole.  It is then aged for six months on the lees, then finished and bottled.  The wine is stored in the cellars for almost two years, before being released.  The wine is a pale yellow, with a soft floral nose, if I didn’t know what I was tasting, I might not have thought of it as Riesling; it was dry and crisp with good acidity and a nice decent finish of a flinty terroir.  

Now we go to Atlas Peak AVA for Arrow & Branch Stagecoach Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2019.  The winery pays homage to the Contursi family’s success in the rare coin business.  They are famed numismatists that have handled most of the fabled coins of the United States of America, and the ones that they haven’t are basically residing in permanent museum collections across the country.  The name refers to the eagle found on the obverse of most of the original coin design who is grasping arrows and an olive branch in its talons and it symbolizes that America is a peace-loving nation that is willing to defend itself in times of need.  This wine is pure Sauvignon Blanc made entirely from the Stagecoach Vineyard from rootstock and clones that were planted in 2012, specifically for Arrow & Branch.  The wine is Barrel Fermented and then aged on fine lees for six months in a mix of Stainless Steel and French Oak (both one year old and neutral).  The bright acidity is what just jumps out at you, when tasting this wine, it is not a meek and mild wine, as this wine wants to be recognized for its own personality and it was very refreshing

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The Rugby Grille

We were still aimlessly wandering in downtown Birmingham, albeit shopping in the summer sun.  While Noel Coward may not have coined the expression, it still rings true when one is shopping in a downtown setting “Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.”  You stop at a couple of stores, and then you have to walk over to the parking garage to drop off your shopping bags, so that you can continue on. There is just something more traditional and comforting shopping at small independent retail establishments, instead of giant behemoth shopping malls with more loiterers than shoppers. 

We walked over to the Townsend Hotel, where we have even stayed because of board meetings in the past, and went to the Rugby Grille.  You can tell that the Townsend is a traditional location with a bar by that name, and it fits in perfectly in the city of Birmingham. I am a creature of comfort, so I prefer to go and drink at the bar, rather than sit outside at a table especially on a hot afternoon and breath in exhaust fumes from cars driving by or idling.  Plus, it is the type of establishment that has bartenders of the Old School that can regale you with tales of days of yore, of past exploits of watering holes across the country, some that are still around and others that are now part of history.  I guess I just like colorful tales of three martini lunches, and dinner parties where the host and his guests eventually have to be dragged out, because the bar was either closing or had closed.  Those were wonderful days and as the legendary Bernard “Toots” Shor said when the blackouts of WWII affected the night life of Manhattan “any guy that can’t get drunk by midnight, aint trying.”

As we were cooling off at the bar, and I even think that my Bride enjoys sitting at some bars, we had to get something to cool off with.  My Bride had a glass of Domaine des Cassagnoles Blanc Cotes de Gascogne IGP 2019.  If she hadn’t chose it, I would, because of the famous Gascon in literature D’Artagnan.  Gilles Baumann and Janine Cardeillac Baumann moved into the family farm called Cassagnoles in Gascony back in 1974.  Originally the farm produced grapes for the production of Armagnac.  In 1978, they created their first bottle of wine commercially. In 1980 they created the first bottle of Le Domaine des Cassagnoles which was pure Colombard.  In 2010, the parents retired and their daughter took over, and she began instituting best agriculture practices as well as introducing more varietals.  The sixty-hectare estate continues to win more and more accreditations in the wine industry for good husbandry. Cotes de Gascogne IGP wines are basically white and made from the local varieties of Courbu, Gros Manseng, Colombard and Arrufiac and there is about ten percent red wine production.  Originally it was a Vin de Pays rating or Table Wine, and about sixty percent of the wine is exported.  Colombard is one of the two main wines used to make Armagnac, which is also part of the Cotes de Gascogne IGP, and the characteristics of this grape is high acidity, low alcohol and a rather neutral flavor.  This wine was just bright and crisp, not a lot of character, with a flinty terroir finish, but a winner on a hot day.

I went out of character a bit and tried a glass of Weingut St. Urbans-Hoff Riesling Estate Bottled from Old Vines Mosel 2019.  Weingut St Urbans-Hof is a family-owned estate founded in 1947 and they are now in their third generation.  The winery was founded by Nicolaus Weis and since 1997 it is managed by Nik Weis.  They became part of the VDP in 2000.  Some of their vineyards have ungrafted vines that are over one-hundred years of age.  They use white labels for their dry wines and black labels for their sweet wines. This wine is made from vines that are forty to sixty years of age, and they use indigenous yeasts to make this wine in Stainless Steel.  Even though it is on a black label, the wine was very crisp with floral notes, offering the taste of stone fruits and a nice mineral terroir finish, with just a reminder of sweetness to me.  If we were ordering food, this would have been terrific with pork. Then we went back out for more walking and some more shopping.  We like to get about five miles a day in walking and we accomplished that goal.   

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The Daxton Hotel

The other day we were out shopping in the city of Birmingham.  Which has a charming downtown area, and one could walk around, shop, dine and drink.  My perfect environment for a leisurely day out.  We even did some shopping for me, who according to my Bride, is a big pain to shop for, something about high maintenance and expensive tastes (who knew?).  I got a chance to reminisce with another old war horse about the glory days of men’s wear, much to my Bride’s chagrin.  It was a hot day, and we were wondering around and saw a new hotel.  I had read that there was a new hotel opening in the downtown, and it was very sleek and ultramodern.  At first, I didn’t think that they were open yet, and as we walked around the corner, I saw a bar and better yet, activity at the bar.  We decided to go in and get out of the sun.

When we walked in, I had to ask for the name of the hotel, and they made us feel very comfortable.  My Bride went up to the bar, and I kind of bellied up to the bar, as we used to say, when none of my contemporaries had bellies.  We looked at a wine carte and selected a couple of glasses of wine, to cool off, before we went back out in the sun and some more shopping.  We also looked over at the dining room, which was just off, from the bar area.  Another time for dining.  Of course, little did we know, that we were attending their soft opening, and when we called for our tab, there wasn’t one, so our bartender really enjoyed his tip (that I am sure of).  We will have to go back there and actually pay for the experience. 

My Bride has had a thing recently for bubbles and she had a glass of Bortolotti Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG NV from Cantine Umberto Bortolotti.  Umberto Bortolotti graduated from Scuola Enologica di Conegliano in 1947 and founded his own winery in the aftermath of the war.  In 1954, he moved to his present location and has been constantly updating and restoring his property and estate.  He now has his son and a nephew who are now managing the company.  They also have contract growers in Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, some going back for seventy years.  The winery has also been getting certified for all of the modern wine making standards of the new era.  Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG is given to the prestigious zone for Prosecco wines in the Veneto, made from the Glera grape.  The appellation was created in 1969 and forty years later it became DOCG.  The Superiore designation just means that the wine has a higher proof rating than the normal wines made and only for the sparkling wines.   The grapes are hand harvested from vineyards in clay and sandstone grounds. The wine is made using the Charmat Method and they used autoclaves to ensure the hygiene and is aged for around four months in the bottle.  It has a pretty straw color with greenish tints, and a nice flowery nose, well balanced and very easy to drink, especially on such a hot day.  I went with a glass of Bernard Fouquet Domaine des Aubuisieres Cuvee de Silex Vouvray 2019 from the Loire Valley of France.  Vouvray is probably the most respected and most known region of the Loire Valley and all types of wines are made in the district.  Bernard Fouquet has thirty hectares of vineyards in the Vouvray region of Touraine. The wines he produces are all made with Chenin Blanc and the wines are aged on fine lees in a mix of new and once or twice used barrels.  This was a beautiful dry wine with a very soft golden-straw color with a nose of orange blossoms, the taste was more of ripe pears, but not sweet and a nice finish of terroir.  This is a very easy drinking wine, what some of us call quaffable.  A wonderful way for the both of us to cool off for a while and then go back out shopping and getting our daily allotment of walking.   

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Domaine la Sobilane Rivesaltes

At my local wine shop, The Fine Wine Source, I encountered a wonderful treat on one of my visits.  You may have noticed that I stop there frequently, but I am used to the concept of customer service, an idea that seems to be antiquated and quaint to the new consumers.  As I grew up in retailing, where one tried on a garment to see if it fits, at The Fine Wine Source I have a chance to taste some wines on occasion.  The owner asked me, if I would like to try a seventy-year-old wine and I didn’t pause at all, to answer him in the affirmative. 

Rivesaltes is an appellation for the historic sweet wines of eastern Roussillon, part of the Languedoc-Roussillon that is becoming much more popular, in the deep south of France. The sweet “vin doux naturel” wines produced in this area have been famous and reported on since at least the 14th Century. The technique used to make them is one of several employed for sweet wines. Unlike botrytized wines or ice wines, “vin doux naturel” wines are made by mutage, a process of stopping the must fermenting while there is still a high level of natural sweetness. With their high levels of residual sugar and alcohol these wines are sweet and a bit syrupy, which is an easy way to describe it.  Rivesaltes wines are often confused with Muscat de Rivesaltes wines, which are similar in style and come from the same area, except that it is made from Muscat grapes, while Rivesaltes is made from Grenache of all three forms, that is Noir, Blanc and Gris.  There are a couple of different designations for this wine, depending on its age.

We were tasting Domaine la Sobilane Rivesaltes 1951.  The Forties and the Fifties were considered the Golden Age for Rivesaltes. Domaine la Sobilane are known for oxidizing their Grenache Noir for three years in demijohns and demi-muids, which are glass bottles also called bonbonnes.  While the wine is in these sealed bottles, they are may be left outside in the elements and exposed to sun, rain, temperature swings and extreme weather, which allows the wine to maderise.  Then the wine matures in barrels for a minimum of four years.  It reminds one of a Tawny Port, but the Grenache delvers a different twist to the experience.  This wine was just a delight with layers of flavors.  For its age, I was amazed at how crisp and balanced the wine was, a little bit of honey, notes of almonds or marzipan (an old addiction of mine, but only for quality marzipan made by the old confectioners) and a finish that had a very long count.  A beautiful wine that really needs to be at the tail end of an exquisite dinner, and with only people that can really appreciate a sublime wine to finish off the night.

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Wine Club July 2021

My local wine shop, The Fine Wine Source issued their two selections for the month.  I am proud to say that this fine institution probably survived during the economic upheaval of the last almost two years by our harridan’s fiats, because of their wine club.  We could make arrangements to pick up the monthly selections and also find some other gems or refill orders of our latest go-to wines.  Since they didn’t sell cigarettes, snack foods or lottery tickets, they were not considered necessary, except by their loyal customers.  They even became quite creative and one could book a tasting with all the appropriate distancing and plexiglass shields that were prevalent.  It became an adventure, and one that the loyal customers wanted to partake of, because of their tremendous customer service.  Through the entire topsy-turvy era, they still maintained the concept of having one Old World and one New World selection and they had to be affordable, great value and not to be found in every gas station, grocery store, pharmacy of corner party store. 

Thierry Delaunay “La Vignette” Rosé Touraine 2020 in the Loire Valley was the first wine in our monthly package.  The Loire is France’s longest river and many distinct wine regions are found there.  Touraine is one of the districts in the heart of the valley.  The city of Tours is halfway between Sancerre and Nantes. Touraine has its own appellation that covers white, red and rosé wines, both still and sparkling.  Whites are Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc, while the reds are predominately Gamay, Cabernet Franc (known locally as Cot) and Malbec. Thierry Delaunay has twenty-one hectares of vineyards that have been in the family for five generations and he also works with additional contract growers.  This wine is thirty-four percent Gamay, thirty-three percent Cabernet Franc and thirty-three percent Malbec and the wine is age on fine lees in Stainless Steel to maintain the freshness of the fruit.  The notes on this wine are a well-balanced salmon-pink wine with notes of red currants, strawberries and raspberries, that carry over into the taste in a creamy and supple wine on the palate.  Perfect for a summer meal of roast chicken or grilled shrimp, cheese and charcuterie.

Airfield Estates “Bombshell” Red Blend, Yakima Valley 2018 of Washington State offers a label reminiscent of the nose or fuselage art that was prevalent on the bombers used by the Americans during World War Two; the term Bombshell is probably archaic and unknown to the current generation, but it was appreciated by those that survived the war.  The roots of Airfield Estates go back to 1907 and H. Lloyd Miller.  The family leased property which became a flight school for hundreds of pilots and after the war, the family ended up with the property and started the Airfield Ranch. The property was still with the family and in 1967, they experimented with three different varietals.  In 1971, they had their first commercial planting after years of testing. In 1974, Mike Miller joined the family, in the wine production.  They have eight-hundred-thirty acres of wine vineyards and three-hundred-fifty acres of Concord juice grapes.  In 2005, Airfield Estates was founded, and they stopped selling their crops to other wineries and began making their own wines. This wine is forty percent Syrah, thirty-seven percent Merlot, eighteen percent Cabernet Sauvignon and five percent Malbec.  The notes on this wine offers a nose of bramble fruit and spices, the palate continues with these notes and offers secondary notes of boysenberry and pomegranate with a medium finish and a burst of fresh fruit. This is a fruit-forward wine that would probably best pair with steaks or pork.   

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Tank Garage Dinner-Final Courses

Tank Garage Winery sent me some four bottles to sample and to review, and some people would have just enjoyed them when they received them.  I remember doing a virtual wine tasting and at least one of the reviewers admitted to drinking the wine before the event.  I don’t want to sound boastful, but I think that I could find a few bottles of wine to drink, between the moment that I receive the wine, to the moment that we actually taste the wines.  We decided to share and get some other viewpoints, which are always interesting to hear.  It also gave us some time to ponder a menu and tweak it towards the wines.  I also didn’t want my Bride to be in the kitchen the entire time of the tasting, so that was another concern.

When we shifted to the Dining Room, it was now time for the second half of the dinner.  We started off with an imposter, my Bride did a commercial Caesar Salad, and may I say “never again.”  It is alright to try a Brand X when one is out and about, but not at home.  We had a marinated Pork Tenderloin using Garlic, Rosemary and aged Balsamic and a side of sauteed diced fennel and onions as a side.  We paired this dish with Tank Garage Winery Dopamine Red Wine Sierra Foothills 2019.  Dopamine is a medication form of a substance that occurs naturally in the body, and it improves the pumping strength of the heart and improves blood flow to the kidneys, and I thought that was a unique name for a wine.  This wine was sixty-one percent Tempranillo, twenty-six percent Graciano and thirteen percent Syrah and it had a nice blood color to it, if I can interpolate.  The wine was aged for fifteen months in neutral oak and there were three-hundred-fifty cases produced.  This wine got everyone’s attention with a nose of strawberry and huckleberry mentioned by almost all.  It had a fruit forward offering of red fruits, mostly dry with a nice finish.  It paired very with the pork, but it also was delightful with the fennel and the onions. 

For the last course of the meal with had a classic version of Lamb Chops with Italian Herbs and Garlic and a course of baked potato slices with Parmesan Cheese.  Our last bottle of wine was Tank Garage Winery Wild Eyes Red Blend Napa Valley 2017, and just to clarify, I may be a mediocre photographer, but the label is printed to make it look like I had one too many.  This wine was a blend of fifty-one percent Malbec, forty-seven percent Cabernet Sauvignon and two percent Merlot.  It was aged for nineteen months in French Oak, a mix of new and once or twice used.  There were seven-hundred-forty-four cases made of this wine.  If the last wine was greeted with kudos, this wine was over the top for the evening.  The nose of dark fruits coupled with a taste of dark fruits, tinged with Blackberries, some notes of Chocolate and Vanilla.  I would definitely say that this group was more partial to big in-your-face wines, which the last two wines demonstrated.  In case, you think it ended, my Bride went and made Bananas Foster for dessert, and once again a thank you to Tank Garage Winery for their generosity.  They may be a bit more avant-garde, and we are a bit Old School, but the two worlds meshed very well for a couple hours of good food, wonderful wines and great friends.

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