Ancient Coast Ice Wine – Wining Me is Cheaper than Dining Me

For most of the bloggers out there who participate, Wine Blogging Wednesday is probably a great excuse to strap on a full body harness, repel down into their deep dark cellars and pluck up one of their dusty but lusty favorites from a vast collection. Open, breathe, pour, examine, sniff, taste, close eyes and tilt head back for a thoughtful moment, make note, taste, repeat. Wine nerds are really appreciating and experiencing the wine.

I haven’t quite gotten to that level of wine nerdery. Yet. I’m still on Chapter One of wine vocabulary with “good” or “bad,” and though I know about varietals and regions, even those crazy weird ones like supremely sweet tokaj from Hungary, I’m still sorting through my kindergarten coloring book in oenology. I still feel totally silly when a server in a restaurant pours that first taste for me and I have to stick my nose down in that glass (which is hard to do when you have a flat mongoloid face) and pretend I know what the hell I’m sniffing for. “That’s maaaaah-velous, dahling. Just luuuuuurv-ly. Pour away, and be generous, will you, daaaaahling?” ;)

My palate is very superficial and reactive. I formulate opinions right away, and they are driven only by how something tastes. I haven’t yet developed the ability to appreciate depth, layers, complexity, and lingering flavors. Nerds love wines that have been aged, but I find them too thick and heavy, viscous, like drinking black velvet. I prefer wines that are bright, light and sheer, like pink silk. It could be Deux Buque Chuque, but if it tastes good, I drink it. It could be a $200 Silver Oak, but I can’t drink it if it tastes like butt. I realize that it’s very naive. I even admit that I can be easily seduced into buying a wine based solely on what the label looks like.

Thus, WBW is like a monthly one-day seminar in which I learn from a veritable global panel of wine tutors. By seeing everyone else’s choices within a given theme, following along in their experiences, and reading their notes, I pick up the vocabulary, discover varietals, explore regions, learn who makes what, when, where, and why.

Unfortunately, I’ve practically flunked out of WBW wine school for absenteeism because I haven’t participated in a WBW for several months now. But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried! I have tried, I promise. Everytime the new monthly theme is announced, I make a mental note of it (I say “mental note” only because if I mentioned the extreme-geek spreadsheet I maintain that catalogs my food adventures, actual posts, future posts, and potential ideas by date and category, I think I’d be revealing way too much of my extremely geeky, obsessive list-making self. *oops*), and somehow do end up drinking something in honor of that theme. I also do read through the spectacular summaries put together by each edition’s host. The problem comes to the actual participation via posting. I just can’t seem to shake myself out of a wicked wine hangover soon enough to post a blog entry. :)

So I’ve done a few WBWs, missed posting for a few, and completely ignored a couple. Hopefully, I’ll be ready for the next one, but until then, let’s catch up with myself.

WBW no. 8, Vinni Rossi Siciliani – Almost a year ago this week, I went on my virgin voyage with Wine Blogging Wednesday, very well experienced in its eighth edition. The 2003 Morgante Nero d’Avola was fruity, though I did note that I couldn’t “say what kind of fruit, but just ‘fruitier,’ the way I can’t identify the exact scent of the glade plug-in in my living room.” Now there is some sophisticated tasting notes.

WBW no. 9, Think Pink – I was pickled tink to think pink. Unfortunately, in the philosophy that “you wine some, you lose some,” the 2004 Vida Organica Malbec Rosé from Familia Zuccardi put me in the red. Or in this case, in the rosé.

WBW no. 10, White Pinot – Villa Russiz Pinot Grigio 2003 at Osteria Latini was a “light, bright straw color, not that horribly antique, melted margarine yellow of chardonnay.” I hate chardonnay. Just wanted to say that. I hate Chardonany. There, I said it again.

WBW no. 11, Get Off (Dry) – My Corte Dei Balbi Soprani Moscato d’Asti turned into a sweet, sparkling slushy when I accidentally forgot about it in an attempt to quick-chill it in the freezer. The cork got stuck. “You think cookie crumbs in bed are bad? How about cork crumbs all over the kitchen floor?” Oof.

WBW no. 12, Get Local. Real Local – Technically, Santa Barbara doesn’t have the most local wineries to me, but since I used to be a devotee of CC Capwell and family, I drank Santa Barbara’s Foley Estates 2003 Sauvignon Blanc. What I should have had was something from Moraga Vineyards, about five minutes away from me (if you’re in a Lamborghini). You could have called me the Fresh Princess of Bel-Air.

WBW no. 13, Like Wine for Chocolate – Wine that pairs with chocolate? Tastes like chocolate? Looks like chocolate? I am kicking myself for not playing in this round. Does Godiva liqueur in my martini count? Number 13 was the beginning of my slide down the slippery slope of hazy wine laziness.

WBW no. 14, New, New World Pinot Noir – I’m new to New World, so New New World? Forget it. Besides, I am not such a huge fan of Pinot Noir. I ran out of Life-lines on this one.

WBW no. 15, It’s All About the Little Guy – Aaaw. I kind of love those tiny tasting bottles they have everywhere now, but that’s not what this one was about. It was about wines that were produced in small quantities, like fewer than 250 cases. Doesn’t that make them more expensive?!?! Brilliant.

WBW no. 16, Judge a Wine by Its Label2004 Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc smelled like an “adolescent pineapple had gone for a naughty, playful romp in the grass with a kiwi fruit,” which is the exact opposite of Chardonnay’s “cross between slightly rancid butter and termite bait.”

WBW no. 17, Red Kiwis – I didn’t know kiwis were Communist! Okay, that was so not funny, but it was the first thing I thought of just now. That, and whether red kiwis really exist. Pink, maybe. If there are pink kiwis, I would like to eat one. I bet it tastes like strawberry.(Geez, how’s that for taste programming?)

WBW no. 18, Wine Shops that Feel the Love – I will admit that most of the time, I buy wine at the grocery store wherever I happen to be shopping for dinner ingredients out of convenience. It would have to be 3 am on a Wednesday morning for me to brave traffic more than twice to go to the market to buy dinner ingredients and then play Red Light, Green Light along Santa Monica Boulevard around the 405 freeway to go to The Wine House. I hate traffic that much, and the congestion that builds up right there in that 5 block radius would make me so insane that by the time I actually got to the Wine House, I’d down two bottles right there in the store.

WBW no. 19, When in Rhone – Do as the Rhonans do! How did I know all the way back in June 2005 that Wine Blogging Wednesday no. 19 in March of 2006 would be about the wines from the Rhone region?! I didn’t, but it was nice to reminisce about the Clos du Caillou Cotes du Rhone that kicked off an evening of utter gutter-worthy wine indulgence (penance?) after Peruvian food. Good times, good times.

yellowtail pinot grigio
hamachi wine

WBW no. 20, ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) – If there is any WBW that I should not have missed, it’s this one. I love white wine, but I absolutely abhor Chardonnay. Wine nerd friends tell me it’s that I’ve just never had a good Chardonnay. Um, exactly. I’ve never had a good Chardonnay! I’ve tasted Chardonnays that are purportedly high-end, uber-expensive, ultra awesome for Chardonany, and still, it tasted like sweaty feet to me. Give me Sauvignon Blanc! Give me Pinot G! Give me anything but Chardonnay.

Pinot Grigio has been my most recent oft-quaffed drink. I’m not picky about Pinot Grigios, as long as they’re light and tart. I have absolutely no idea what possessed me to pick up a bottle of Yellowtail, the wine from Australia that I’ve always thought had the worst marketing and branding strategy. Yellowtail is a fish, but apparently in the wine world, “yellowtail” is a kangaroo with a painted tail. I hate the logo. Perhaps I bought the wine because the winemakers recently changed the “look” of the ugly kangaroo by making it look a little more artistically abstract. It’s better, but it’s still ugly. The wine was okay. I won’t buy it again. Unless it’s $0.99.

The Ancient Coast Ice Wine that we had during my niece’s behk-il and Mom’s birthday lunch was good. Ice wines are typically served as dessert wines because they are so sweet, but I drank two (maybe three?) glasses before we ate. That’s what happens when there’s a fussy baby around.

chaucer's raspberry wine
wine for hello kitty. purrrfect!

Ice wines are called “ice” because they are made from grapes that have been frozen. The grapes ripen and are left on the vine long past the regular harvest. The sugars in the grapes don’t freeze, but the water does, so the sweetness and flavors become concentrated. Ice wines were made famous by German eiswein, which is made from the Riesling grape, but I’ve only ever tasted ice wines from the US and Canada. Ancient Coast is from the Niagara region in Canada and is made from the Vidal grape. Vidal. Like Vidal Sassoon. Or Gore Vidal. Awesome.

The first time I ever tried an ice wine was a Bonny Doon Vin de Glacière at Cafe Kati in San Francisco, about 8 or 9 years ago. Normally, I don’t like sweet, fruity, frou frou cocktails, but wine is different. I tasted it an fell instantly in lust. I can’t drink a Midori Sour at any time, but I’ll take an ice wine. Even for breakfast.

I’ve also recently tasted a raspberry wine for dessert. Chaucer’s Raspberry Wine isn’t a wine that is merely flavored or fragranced with raspberry. It is actually made from fermenting raspberries instead of regular grapes, and pours into a glass a beautiful deep raspberry color. I can’t help but love something that’s pink! The wine is very sweet and is, quite obviously, a dessert wine, but again, I drank a couple of glasses of the Chaucer’s wine before dinner. I couldn’t help it. I should have saved at least half a glass to pour over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I’ll do that next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time with Chaucer’s, since the 500 mL bottle can be found for under $10. Chaucer also has olallieberry, which I want to try just because I love saying “olallieberry.”

See? I can be seduced with a $10 bottle of wine. Especially if it’s pink.

** a year ago today, i ate for under $10.40 while doing my 1040 **

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  • LACheesemonger

    I throw my hands up in exasperation in the realization that:

    a.) unless we get Sarah a job reviewing, eating, or anything to do with the food industry; she’ll forever be writing too many entries for me to even try to keep up with them all (Otay, some bloggers don’t have a life and can keep up with DL… not me ;) )

    b.) no matter how many times I send Sarah a quick (less than 2 pages I swear ;) ) e-mail note to her telling her about some well under-priced quality (translation, 1/2 way decent compared to the usual plonk) wine I’ve found for her to try, something that actually drinks well now for a young wine, doesn’t require any cellaring; and does a worth while job of representing a style or varietal; she (that being Susan, her complete opposite from Sarah, alter ego) replies with some short message that has nothing to do with anything I’ve written, lol.

    c.) I don’t have enough time to alternate between the usual, nausea profile gif, Delicious TV ladle pic, and gets the Koran babes every time, ‘crying, miserable, wronged by a woman, Korean guy look’ pict.

    So, is DL writing this from Vegas or SF; or other places she’s globetrotting (or alright, state/city trotting if you must be accurate) around on her extended funemployment days?

    Arrgh, alright; I’m going to have to dispel all of Sarah’s intimidating misconceptions about wine one of these days. She’s bought into the marketing PR BS again. Trust me Sarah, you can’t rely on WBW reviews anymore than you can the wine guys at most wine shops, the Hunter guy at AOC, the (fill in the blank…like people with too much money and too little solid experience to know what they’re talking about) people who want to ‘educate’ you on wine. Been there, done that. BTW, wine weenies don’t tilt their heads back (go watch Sideways again, I can’t…still traumatized by that triple folds of blubber in a scene that lasted way too long, far too gratuitous blubberinous along with flopping wanker…for my timid constitution), they tip their heads forward in silent serious contemplation, which in your case, when I finally get some decent high-end wine down your gullet, may follow with gustatory bliss, shrieking monkey sounds of waves of multi-orgasmic undulations of epic proportions! (huh, what do you mean I’m hyping it up a bit? Isn’t that what all the other wine reviewers/hypsters do ;) ? )

    Keep those Niagara wines away from me, eeeeew. Any number of better wines in that vein, I could teach you to appreciate (if only you’d pay a minute of attention and actually go and drink one ;) ). I could guide you into your own sense of wine style, so you’d have confidence in your own judgments, in company of the so called wine experts. And no, there’s to reason your flat nose, which is not unlike uber buff, uber sexy Michelle Kwan’s (and she’s almost as much of a wine n00b as you, btw; mostly because the people catering to her are elitist snobs who look down on her because of her wealth and fame—jealous, envious bores…I’ll tell you who I’m referring to one of these days ;) ) can’t pickup enough aromas from the wine without having to stick it all the way in. It’s all in the experience, the technique…I can help ;). Hmm, now that reminds me, you don’t have to stick it all the way in…ah never mind, that’s another kind of tutorial ;)

    Oh yeah, almost forgot,,, a year and for square ago , Sarah got an indecent proposal? Lol, I try to do my best to give Sarah an indecent proposal every week, but she just ignores them, hehe). And also, you don’t get a headache from well made wines, just poorly made versions. Maybe a hangover if you drink more than say, a whole bottle of 15% or higher alcohol, not that I would know anything about that ;).

    BTW, It’s neither wining, (&whining, which is Sarah’s favorite unofficial Olympic sport), or dining you Sarah, as I’d much rather wine, dine, and do…ummm flashing gif, “indecent proposal of the week warning alert” Priceless, and of infinitely more pleasurable experience than anything MC can buy. (*warning* ‘shameless pandering with blogger hostess alert’)

  • Phil

    The Lady Sarah,
    Oh my! Bad butter and termite food? Try an un-oaked version (I can’t bring myself to say the name in front of you). There are good and bad wines from every grape. WBW sounds interesting, I’ll look it up. BTW: you can write about anything you like, and I’ll read it.
    No bad days in Napa

  • Maure

    wine blotto..bloging wesneday
    is a great idea and has starteed
    out a smashng success.

    but i must agree with both of you sarah, i don’t care the price or label, if a wine tastes likee butt i won’t drink it. unless, of course, it’s ever-spreading.

    insufferable wise guy

  • U

    I wonder if any of the wineries around the Finger Lakes or Erie make ice wines? Before ice wine, Niagara wines got no respect whatsoever…

  • joy

    Actually, ice wine is one of the things Finger Lake wineries are especially known for – given that it actually frosts there. And by frost, I mean, gets unbe-fricka-lieveably freezing. A lot. For a very, very long time. Until you wonder, as I did, if Cornell really gave you the Total Picture in the brochure.


    Actually, it’s gorgeous there, and I am (was) okay with the cold, having grown up in Michigan. And there is *nothing* like wine tasting along Cayuga Lake on a beautiful fall day, with the leaves changing colors, and it just warm enough to sit out on a winery’s big wooden unpretentious patio with a gorgeous view of the river, sipping wine and basking in the afternoon sun.

    Don’t get me wrong: there are certain corners of Sonoma Valley that are so peaceful that they serve as the Happy Place I go to in my head when the world gets whacko. But even that region has nothing on the Finger Lakes in fall (when the colors change) or spring (when the waterfalls are flowing).


  • U

    Thanks, Joy, that’s good to know. I drove past those Cayuga Lake vinyards many times in the past, but never stopped in…

  • Stacey

    some sickly-sweet recommendations… Trader Joe’s has a raspberry wine that literally comes out of the bottle like syrup. Really, I think it’s meant to be poured on ice cream, but I drank it from the glass instead. Tonight I might mix it with champagne (I’m celebrating something big).
    Kalyra winery in Santa Ynez has consistently good dessert wines.
    And Sunday I tasted an excellent Late Harvest Viognier at Eagle Castle winery in Paso Robles.

    Thanks for all the great posts lately!

  • Stacey

    some sickly-sweet recommendations… Trader Joe’s has a raspberry wine that literally comes out of the bottle like syrup. Really, I think it’s meant to be poured on ice cream, but I drank it from the glass instead. Tonight I might mix it with champagne (I’m celebrating something big).
    Kalyra winery in Santa Ynez has consistently good dessert wines.
    And Sunday I tasted an excellent Late Harvest Viognier at Eagle Castle winery in Paso Robles.

    Thanks for all the great posts lately!

  • sarah

    l.a.c.: don’t knock niagara! my sisters were born in buffalo, ny. that’s almost “home” to me.

    phil: i tried an unoaked in SF this past weekend! and i still didn’t like it. LOL! by the way, so sorry i didn’t call you whilst up in norcal, but there sure are a lot of phils in the phonebook ;)

    maure: we thank you for agreeing with us :) (you always make me LOL!)

    u: if you try one, let us know!

    joy: you mean you didn’t do a campus visit?! then again, i visited berkeley and STILL sent there. ;) thanks so much for the info!

    stacey: congrats on whatever it is you may be celebrating! have a razzle dazzle double from me!

  • hermz

    olallieberry wine?!? olallieberry wine?!? You must tell me where I can find it, ASAP.

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