Returning to work after our break, I found a late holiday gift from the wine fairy in my office. Tiffany at Balzac kindly sent along four samples from Camelot Vineyards. Camelot is a readily available, inexpensive line of wines made from grapes sourced from several locations in California. All four wines – a cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, and chardonnay – retail for around $7.
The arrival of these wines was fortuitous and a bit poetic. The Sweet Partner in Crime and I are in the process of a full castle…er…kitchen remodel. I retrieved the samples just before the demolition was scheduled to occur. Trust me, a foodie of any sort without accoutrements for a goodly length of time needs a stock of vino for mental health reasons. The sampling started over our final weekend with cabinets and an operational stove…
Camelot (NV) Cabernet Sauvignon
Camelot (NV) Merlot
One of our last meals prepared the old kitchen was a pot roast, recipe courtesy of Albert Burneko at Deadspin. One of the key steps is to “return the meat (and any juices it discharged during its exile) to the pot, turn the heat back up, and pour an entire goddamn bottle of cheap red wine on top of the whole fucking mess.” He also suggested eating the roast with another bottle of said wine. Thanks to the wine fairy’s fortuitous delivery, we had a couple of bottles to choose from. We decided to taste both the merlot and the cabernet. Winner gets drunk with dinner. Loser becomes dinner.
We poured small tastes of both. The merlot was actually pretty decent. For an inexpensive merlot, it had decent structure, some good flavors of cherry, coffee, and chocolate, and a pretty good balance. The cabernet, on the other hand, didn’t fare as well. In the SPinC’s words, “This is a really watery cab.” It was certainly on the lighter side and no interesting flavors popped out. Our decision was clear. We poured the cab atop the roast, hoping to send it forth to a higher calling.
Hours passed. We were watching the NFL playoffs during this time, and we ended up wanting a beverage. The merlot was convenient and, most importantly, open! As a quaffer on its own while focused on other things, it was decent enough.
Then came the roast – the glorious, perfectly browned and cooked hunk of deliciousness. The braising liquid, made from the cabernet, thickened into a delightful gravy with the help of a little bit of cornstarch, imparted an absolutely fabulous flavor to the pot roast. The meal itself was nothing short of incredible. We did keep a splash of the merlot to try with the roast, and it was fine – albeit a bit overshadowed by the utter awesomeness of the roast itself. (We did open a bottle of Libra pinot noir as well. That fared a bit better.)
Camelot (NV) Pinot Noir
The next day, we were packing up what was left of our kitchen. We came across some leftover garlicky, Italian-styled cabbage, sausage, and white bean soup in the fridge – a soup which calls out for a light red. I would have ordinarily looked a bit askance at a $7 pinot noir. The first sips of it, honestly, were quite tight and acidic – like cherries picked a couple of weeks early. (Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if the wine’s grapes were harvested a bit short of peak.) The body was light and the finish was a bit smoky. As the Sweet Partner in Crime put it, “This is a California pinot?”
But once we got the soup reheated, the wine did just fine. The individual ingredients in the soup aren’t the easiest to pair with, but the Camelot made a nice accent. This turned out to be a perfectly decent table wine once everything was said and done – especially if it’s your second bottle of the evening.
Camelot (NV) Chardonnay
|The Kitchenpocalypse Begins.
Home from work the following Monday, I walked into the first floor of a house resembling an episode of Breaking Bad. Floor-to-ceiling plastic tarps, exhaust fans running, and an absolutely demolished kitchen. No appliances, no cabinetry. Nothing. The “archaeological dig” aspect of the demolition was fascinating. For instance, we discovered the original wallpaper, buried beneath layers of plaster and tile, was patterned with cute little teapots. Most notably, our first floor was missing a wall. The Howland Group crew got an impressive amount of work done their first day here.
Still, we were a little shocked by the sight and decided wine was in order. The Camelot was in the fridge (which currently is resting comfortably in the living room), so we cracked it to have an “Egads, what have we done?” drink. You know what? It was perfectly serviceable. It’s certainly on the low end of the “buttery” spectrum, boasting a little more acidity. There was oak present, but not in an overwhelming sense. All in all, the Camelot chardonnay is a perfectly inoffensive, sluggable bottle of wine. I could see it as a crowdpleaser at a casual party or some such. My expectations were exceeded, honestly.
I hope we can say the same about the kitchen when all is said and done. Cross your fingers for us.
|See? Cute little teapots!