Friday, September 21, 2018
Bars & Spirits

Drinks of the week: 2014 Avalon California Chard, 2014 Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel

Thanksgiving dinner isn't the time to break out the pricey look-at-me wines. You want a wine that plays well with all those diverse tastes on the table, one that's food friendly but with enough character to stand its ground next to everything from the turkey to the pumpkin pie.

White or red? Again, the many flavors of the Thanksgiving feast mean you can go either way (or have both), but I'd avoid the really lightweight whites, like pinot grigio, or the heavyweight reds such as cabernet sauvignon.

That leaves plenty to choose from in the middle. One white to consider is the 2014 Avalon California Chard, widely available at about $10. Made from grapes grown in a variety of traditional chardonnay-producing regions, such as Russian River Valley and Santa Barbara County, the wine is 100 percent chardonnay, aged for three months in French oak.

The wine's aroma is full of ripe pear, with touches of nutmeg and vanilla. Its flavors are fruit forward: more pear plus Golden Delicious apple, even hints of guava and lemon. Complementing the fruit are vanilla, baking spices and a light kiss of butterscotch. There's oak, but it's understated. The finish is a clean pop of pear and lemon.

If you're thinking red, think about the 2014 Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel. Cline has a range of zins; this one falls into the midrange prize point, widely available at about $14. Its grapes come from century-old vineyards in Contra Costa Valley; the wine is 93 percent zinfandel, with the balance petite sirah, carignane and alicante bouschet. It's aged in a combination of old and new American oak for seven months.

On the nose, the first hit is cherry jam, balanced with notes of chocolate and coffee. Take a mouthful of this deep-red zin, and the cherry joins juicy strawberry and blackberry, with touches of clove, cedar and bramble. Soft tannins work with all those rich flavors. The long finish is mostly chocolate cherry, but a whiff of woodsmoke keeps it savory.

Colette Bancroft, Times staff writer

Comments
Bar review: Punk meets Pilsner at Antibrewery in Dunedin

Bar review: Punk meets Pilsner at Antibrewery in Dunedin

Iíve had readers jokingly complain that Iíve exposed their off-the-radar watering holes that already are a carful away from becoming overcrowded. Itís like watching your favorite indie band achieve mainstream success: Itís good for them, but now youí...
Published: 09/20/18
New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Billís Off the Hook

New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Billís Off the Hook

COMING SOON: OLIVIAChris Ponte, right, has been a steady and notable culinary leader in our area for more than a decade with his flagship restaurant Cafe Ponte in Clearwater. A couple of years ago he mixed things up a bit by debuting On Swann in Hyde...
Published: 09/19/18
Swizzle it: The tool bartenders turn to for a certain kind of cocktail

Swizzle it: The tool bartenders turn to for a certain kind of cocktail

TAMPA It’s a long stick with an irregular claw at the end, something a little macabre, like a skeletal monkey arm or a ritual tool made out of a chicken foot. It is crafted from the wood of the Quararibea turbinata tree, an aromatic and perenn...
Published: 09/19/18
Five ideas for date-night dinners at home

Five ideas for date-night dinners at home

For your next date night with your significant other, try staying in and cooking together. Meals eaten with your loved one are always sweeter. Literally."When we are in love Ö food tastes better," said Rachel Herz, an adjunct professor of psychiatry ...
Published: 09/19/18
What’s that bug gunk on your car? There’s an app for that

What’s that bug gunk on your car? There’s an app for that

Florida is rich in biomass. It’s got a lot of bugs. You’re driving down the highway, and all of a sudden — splat — a bug smacks your windshield, leaving a gooey glob on the glass. That’s the end of it from the bug’...
Published: 09/18/18
Pumpkin spice haters, back off: It’s okay to crave the seasonal flavor

Pumpkin spice haters, back off: It’s okay to crave the seasonal flavor

All right, okay, enough, I get it: You all hate pumpkin spice. But I’ve got one request as we head into fall: Can you just let us have this? There are many things on which to heap anger and despair right now, but please, that thing does not n...
Published: 09/18/18
A brown rice salad with asparagus thatís a hearty side dish

A brown rice salad with asparagus thatís a hearty side dish

This fresh, hearty side dish will stand out among its richer, creamier counterparts when the holidays roll around. We achieved perfectly cooked brown rice by boiling it in abundant water. Sprinkling the rice with bright lemon juice while it was still...
Published: 09/18/18
Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

TAMPA Do you have this debate? "Florida is not in the South." "Um, look at a map." I guess I am in the former camp: It seems Florida gets more Southern the more north and west you go, accents only creeping in as reliably as boiled peanuts up on the ...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18
Tampa Bay chefs get fresh platform at Bucs home games

Tampa Bay chefs get fresh platform at Bucs home games

TAMPA ó It was almost like a sitcom spit take. People in Buccaneers-red and Eagles-midnight green would walk up to the makeshift kitchen in the West Stadium Club, look at the huge poster of chef/restaurateur John Rivers, then glance at the guy in the...
Published: 09/17/18
Taste test: Frozen Italian meatballs

Taste test: Frozen Italian meatballs

In keeping with our objective of trying to make family meals a little easier this back-to-school season, our judges figured premade meatballs could serve as a basis for a variety of meals. This week, we sampled 10 brands of frozen Italian meatballs f...
Published: 09/17/18