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Tasting Notes from a ^ Beer Drinker

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January 26, 2015

So you tell one off color joke about the President on your cell phone and next thing you know two years go by. Iím just sayiní.  With my newfound posting, I feel I need to change up the way use to review.  The one-to-four rating is too simplistic.  The one hundred-point scale is too over used.  I donít remember enough about duodecimal (base twelve, not the library book coding system).  I can clearly remember my seventh grade math teacher presenting base twelve mathematics, especially since she was a solid base ten.  I wonder what base system she would look like now.  As one who time has altered to the fat and balding, I sure hope it didn't impact Miss D (protecting her identity) in the same manner.  No one was mistaken for a nerd when one showed up early and stayed late for extra math help.  Iím just sayiní.  While I sort out the best way to reflect my rebirth of reviewing, I did want to post up a wine that pleased the gang on Friday evening. 

As a California cab lover, I very much enjoyed the Caymus   40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine will age wonderfully over the next two decades but I found it very drinkable now.  Blueberry, blackberry and currant dominate the palate with supple tannins and a lengthy finish.  It caught me off guard.  I expected fear of tongue planking Ė the process of young tannins drying your tongue so thoroughly it sticks to the roof of your mouth. 

If I had the ability to cellar wine, I would purchase a case of this one.  Technically, I have the ability to cellar the case, itís just that if it is in my cellar it doesn't last.  I am sure I would be through the case in less than a yearís time, even with this offering being a one liter bottle.  For those of you who can hold wine, itís worth the treat.  Iím just sayiní.

(Editor's note: Two postings in two days...  I knew this was a bad idea...)

 

January 25, 2015

Captainís Log: Star Date 2015

After falling into a black hole for what seemed like five minutes, our ship has emerged into a whole new galaxy in earth time 2015.  OK, I never watched the Star Trek\Star Wars\So You Want To Be a Star thing; just trying to account for the lost episodes.  Hell, even the Honeymoons found stuff they did decades later.  I know Wino John attempted to make humorous excuses for the absence of updates but it would be unfair of me to let him take the fall.

You see folks, back in 2013, my drunken rambling became too much for WJ to edit, understand.  At that point I was enjoying a river of red wine every night and unconsciously pecking out random keys hoping they would all look good when the hangover was over.  Wino John suggested I take some time, visit a facility and come back cleaned up.  I had to remind him if I cleaned up, Iíd have nothing to write about, so I throttled back, tried to be an upstanding member of the community andÖletís just say Iím back to mumbling at the keyboard.

During this brief absence, I drank more wine than I can remember so with this, the new year, I am taking back to writing before the blackouts.  Two major milestones worth mentioning here:

1) Our good friend Wino Odd Job has officially opened the Tree Tavern- we wish him much success as he made it through his inaugural year and blazes into year two with a full head of steam. 

2) I became a member of the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs.  For those of you not familiar with the 'Chaine' as we society members neatly refer to it, Google it.  But in short, it's an ancient international gastronomic society dating back to 1248.  It comes with a secret handshake, a sword ceremony and a sought after decorative ribbon and pins. 

Bottom line, I now have another opportunity to research, drink nice wines all in the name of bringing you my drunken opinion of wines.  I believe the Mrs. Wino John was quite enjoying all the free time WJ had after he put down his decoding template not having to post my rambling.  Sorry Mrs. WJ, Iím back and will be misspelling words and recreating grammar rules for the next few decades, or until my liver quits.  Looking forward to feedback, free samples and the much-missed invite to industry events.  For now I need to stop since my hands are shaking beyond the ability to strike the correct key.  Welcome back dear readers.  Strap in and enjoy the new rideÖoff to find a bottle of something to bring back normalcy.

January 27, 2013

Did you know that Washington DC has the highest per capita wine consumption in the nation?   New Jersey lags in 8th place with only half the wine per capita consumption.  Hey, Iím doing my part.  I attribute 10% of our void to the fact I am consuming, just not writing about it.  Face it, most newspaper people write from Google search instead of investigative reporting.  Five years ago, the 'wine consumption' Google search would have driven the lazy ass writer to our page.  A recent decline in updates has us dipping in the Google. 

Part of my problem is my need to recap the ECWS tasting for the ECWS.  This has me writing in a far different way than I would have without my title of High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the Society.  I always struggled with seriousness as an observer of human nature.  I prefer to say the things people think but were taught not to say in public.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work well in certain areas. 

Getting back to my basics, I thought I should write about two wines I had last night.  With age comes tolerance and a liver void of filtering.  Now a half hour after I drink a red wine, I pee purple.  My liver has thrown the towel in and placed itself on bypass.  Now, after drinking a red wine, I drink a white wine to flush the system.  I learned it from Jiffy Lube.

For dinner I made the Wino Bob clams and shrimp in white wine, butter, garlic and Wino Bobís secret rub.  Actually the secret rub comes after the two bottles of wine, but it makes for an interesting evening with friends.  I wanted something to cook with and found something from the 2011 Barton & Guestier Pairings Collection called Lobster & Shrimp Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine.  OK, I was planning on cooking clams and shrimp.  Maybe the wine would make the clams taste like lobster.  It didnít but for a cooking wine that I sipped while enhancing my secret rub, it did the trick.  Itís not a big bold anything, just an easy drinking white that helped wash down the clams and shrimp.  It didnít offend, it didnít fight, it simply opened the door and let the food walk in.

The main dish was salmon with Wino Bobís secret rub, a different rub if you know what I mean but still a rub.  I finished off a bottle of 2010 Tapena Garnacha.  Their food pairing on the back of the label are completely incorrect.  This wine would not go well with grilled rib eye nor pork tenderloin.  Possibly pork tenderloin with no seasonings, no spices and definitely no Wino Bobís secret rub.  The wine is medium body, cherry and red fruit with a hint of spice and a short finish.  A rib eye would laugh at this wine and refuse to enter your mouth if you thought this was a great pairing.  The rib eye might even punch you in the mouth if you thought it was a good pairing, but it canít.  Itís a rib eye and a rib eye doesnít have the leverage and upper body strength to punch you in the mouth.  Itís a rib eye.  It might use your uvula as a speed bag on the way down.  I should write to these people and say the wine is OK with salmon but not salmon with Wino Bobís secret rub. 

In truth, I got what I paid for.  Neither wine was more than $12.00 so for that I admit, it did its job.  The white wine turned my red pee back to yellow.  Amen.

December 31, 2012

OK, so the world didnít end.  That means it is time for a new year.  Happy frigginí 2013.  In truth, I thought I the Mayans knew what was going to happen. It turns out that the stone craving unions called a strike and they walked off the job after finishing 12-21-12.  At what point do we stop thinking, ďwow, this is the year that itís going to be different?Ē  Then the hangover headache stops pounding and you realize; meet the new boss, the same as the old boss.  What if all the well-wishers and prognosticators told you the best was 2012 and 2013 is going to be a shit sandwich with spicy brown mustard?  I guess itís tough to sell books and newspapers with a doom and gloom message to (whatís the opposite of uplift?) dash your spirit like a wine bottle thrown against a cement wall.  Hey, face it; we would have been better off if the world did end. 

Since it didnít, I had to sit down in front of my laptop and peck out a declaration of my own for the upcoming year.  Hold onto your wallets.  (Thatís advice that has nothing to do with the Grape of the Year.)  Entering the lucky thirteenth year of this blog, it is my duty (still love that word) to define this coming year.  I have the distinct feeling that as 2013 rolls in, I will be in need of a volume of alcohol to ease the pain.  I know I may need something to counter the bitter taste that will linger from the difficult times ahead.  I am almost thinking of superseding wines and heading straight to gin.  Unfortunately, I have too much wine to still consume before I start a gin blog.

In researching this coming yearís GOTY, it took me awhile to find something fitting.  I am sure the committee will not be pleased but I say if you donít like it, fire me.  Oh, I am the committee.  Be that as it may, I waste no more of your time in bringing forth the definition of 2013ís liquid courage.  I will be purchasing and drowning my sorrows in bottles of this.  As a matter of fact, I am drowning my good brain cells in it as we speak.  I know we arenít speaking but take it as a phrase of informality and comfort with the audience.  So join me in welcoming in the New Year with:

 

PORTO

Porto, the official name for all port wines shipped into the USA as an official designator from the government of Portugal against the generic name 'port' being used by other producers.  Porto carries the elevated alcohol percent (19-22) I will need this year and comes in vintage, tawny, ruby and white versions.  For a very detailed description of the port-making process, I recommend you click this link to the Taylor web site: http://taylor.pt/en/what-is-port-wine/how-is-port-made/.  It saves our lawyers from that plagiarism thing.  Often, in lieu of dessert after a nice meal, I enjoy a tawny port.  In fact, I believe it was Wino John who introduced me to one of his favorite ports, Cockburns.  WJ told me there is nothing better then a good Cockburns after dinner.  He said the best thing is to share a Cockburns with your friends.  He told me at one time he would enjoy a Cockburns at least once a month.

 

(Editor's note:  Your Cockburns is backward.  What's up with that?)

I also enjoy port for itís food pairing.  In fact, port and cheese was such a good match that some genius (and I donít use that term lightly) decided to put port in cheese and we now can enjoy it in a carry away snack pack.  I also know that chocolate and port is a lethal combination. 

So if you are lucky like me, tonight at midnight, besides making your balls fall, you can lie back on the couch and enjoying a nice ruby Cockburns.  Hereís to 2013, God help us.

November 29, 2012

It has been awhile since I came home late from an event and sat in the dark, dank third floor room to peck out a drunken rambling.  It turns out it has been awhile since I had a new experience worth pecking out.  A down economy will do that.  Last night, I had to go out and eat at a way-too-classy-for-me restaurant.  Yes, I had to as part of my event-planning hat for an upcoming ECWS dinner.  I should simply end right here by saying, WOW!  Good night, everybody.  Donít for get to tip your waitress. 

Dinner was at the newly reopened Ryland Inn in Whitehouse, NJ.  The drive down had me in a foul mood with horrendous 287 south traffic.  Fortunately, that was the only complaint I had the entire night.  The Ryland Inn was consistently voted the top restaurant in NJ and being so, had a price tag to match.  I never dined at the place, until today.  The facility is elegantly quaint, way too nice for me to roll up on.  The service is attentive without discomfort.  They have a liquor license so I prearranged for us to bring our own wines.  We had a 1985 Joseph Phelps Backus Vineyards, a 1997 Hartwell cabernet sauvignon and I brought a 2007 Dunn Estate cabernet.  Needless to say, we never opened my wine.  We didnít have to.  The í85 Backus Vineyards was delightful and has enough tannin to last another decade.  The nose was beautiful black fruit. 

We ordered a variety of food items to sample and our wait staff quickly got into the process with us.  He made great suggestions of what we should try for consideration as possible menu items for our event.  The foie gras was decadent and the organic egg was delightful.  I did have a problem trying to figure out what pairing would go with the egg.  For a fish, we sampled the crabmeat stuffed skate wing and the yellow fin tuna.  They decanted the Hartwell and it was game on for me.  The Hartwell has a fig, raisin nose that actually grabbed my nose hairs and swung around inside like George of the Jungle.  Right then, I could have stripped naked and climbed into the decanter.  The wine was big, bold, luscious and silky on the finish. 

Amazingly, at this point the waiter brings out a 1987 Joseph Phelps Backus Vineyards and a 1987 Insignia for us to compare to the wines we brought.  That, folks, is a first in a lifetime for me.  I didnít want to bite the hand that fed me but the Insignia was the weakest wine of the night.  The í87 Backus Vineyard showed a comparative nose and taste to the í85.  We complemented the wines with their duck breast and their rib eye steak entrees.   We ended the evening with a lemon curd and an apple cake.

I must say, the night was a great experience for me and has me forever singing the praises of the staff of the Ryland Inn.  As a gesture for their hospitality, I left them my unopened bottle of Dunn Estate cabernet and a very generous tip.  I just wish I could afford to go back there one day.

November 24, 2012

A belated Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope you, your friends and family had a wonderful time together.  A first for us, a holiday void of parents.  Enjoy them while they are here no matter what a pain-in-the-ass you might think at the moment.  We move forward best as we can.  My wine was simple this year.  With less than a majority at the table consuming, I didnít go crazy.  I opened a bottle of George Duboeuf Nouveau Beaujolais, tasted it, spit it and left it on the counter.  I am not sure if the recent Cru Beaujolais tasting we held of the ECWS forever tainted my taste for the rushed samplings called nouveau but I found it green, acidic and foxy.  I moved on to a 2005 Oriel Jocunda.  This southern Rhone was good enough for the few to drink through dinner and into dessert.  At best we had two bottles.  What the hell has happened? Two bottles used to be my warm up just to face the crowd.  Sadly, two bottles was the intake for three of us.  I had a petite sirah and an amarone waiting in the wings.  The Oriel is a blend of mostly grenache, with syrah and mourvedre.  When I checked Orielís site, it said 70% grenache, 30% syrah and 10% mourvedre...   Even I know the math doesnít work but I am sure the grape varietals are correct.  I enjoyed this wine for itís black fruit and herb nose, a medium plus on the weight and a smooth finish.  I purchased three bottles so I can revisit the wine and see if I really did like it or simply found it as a good source to cope. 

Big time coming up on December 6th.  We are tasting Super Tuscans at the ECWS.  It will allow me to end the year with a great intake of BLOTYs.  Then I will have to sequester myself in the grape of the year chamber and post Wino John outside to await the white smoke of selection as 2012 grinds to a close.  I might post the 2013 GOTY on December 20th because the world will be ending on the 21st and I figure I owe the readers the chance to know what they will be missing.

November 11, 2012

I have to acknowledge Veteranís Day for a host of reasons.  If you know a Vet, please give them thanks for their service.  Friday night, Wino Rocker and I had a bit of alone time.  Within the appropriate guidelines, we decided to convert some old wine into a wine derivative.  Prior to our undertaking, we had a small bit of supper derived from a hunting expedition the old boy undertook.  We technically didn't eat the deer he killed.  The butcher he uses works on a FIFO inventory scheme.  WR handed in his deer and received the butchered meat of a guy that left his deer sometime earlier.  All-in-all, we feasted on deer steaks and chops.  One would never know this was deer meat.  It was flavorful without gaminess and as tender as filet mignon.

I added a simple grilled portabella mushroom and pepper veggie and buckwheat cranberry salad.  That looks like a lot of food for two people but there was little left at the end of the night. 

We enjoyed a bottle of 2008 Raymand Cabernet Sauvignon that was elegant in fruit and softly tannic.  OK, we also drained a 2007 AVV Cyrus which was still plied with tannin wood overtones finding the fruit for a bit.  Fun night!

October 14, 2012

The visual description of the destemming process as Wino Rocker begins another vintage of his Opus blend.

     

 

October 12, 2012

For some reason, I liked that yesterday was 10-11-12.  I found a way to keep myself from drinking all the high end wines that I buy.  I store them off site, and by off site I mean at Wino Johnís house.  I realized that the summer conditions in my basement arenít the best.  For the record, I have a list of what I have at WJís estate.  With me not being able to visit WJís house since the screen door episode, I know the wine will age safely.

Last night I made plans to grab dinner with said Wino John and give him a case of wine for storage.  Feeling magnanimous, I sent a quick note to Wino Rocker yesterday afternoon to join us.  Since he has no friends, he wasnít doing anything else.  So we invaded Gourmet Cafe for dinner.  I brought a 2007 Silver Oak cabernet sauvignon and a 2007 Dunn Estates cabernet sauvignon.  Wino John showed up with a 1994 Stagís Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V.  Having a 2007 S.L.V. in the Bobmobile, I ditched the Dunn and brought in the Stagís Leap. 

We warmed up with the Silver Oak.  They enjoy their oak at Silver Oak and it brings a soft vanilla flavor to their wines.  A nice wine to start the night.  We then went to the 2007 S.L.V. which was a complement to my chicken with mushroom and sun dried tomato.  As dinner moved towards dessert, we moved towards the 1994 S.L.V.  This wine had all its fruit and tamped down tannins.  I saw the future of the 2007 in the glass of the 1994.

Tonight, Wino Rocker invited me to the destemming process of his next barrel of homemade wine.  It was the beginning of the next batch.  He went with the opus blend, a traditional Bordeaux style.  I tasted the grapes before we dropped them into the destemmer.  I tasted the juice just after destemming.  Next week we crush.  Fun night!

October 11, 2012

I had the occasion to visit a cool location called Terrior Tribeca for a tasting of the Langdon Shiverick portfoilio.  The bar was funky but honestly, it was one of the most poorly mapped-out events I have attended.  The tight space made movement difficult, but worse, the ability to identify the wines in the book versus the layout was utterly confusing.  It turned out that many of the wines weren't listed in the book given to me as I signed in. 

Getting over my frustration, I tasted, not sure if I exactly know what I tasted, but I filled my glass.  I found the 2008 Domaine Valette Vire Clesse an expressive white wine with interesting flavors and the 2010 Domaine de la Solitude Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc seductively attractive.  I could have enjoyed more of the 2010 Frederic Cossard Vosne-Romanee, but I politely denied fourths.  If you are into flint and limestone, the 2010 Vincent Pinard Sancerre ďNuanceĒ is for you. 

The North Fork Long Island Winery that didnít make the book shall remain nameless.  They tried to impress but they have a long way to go with their cabernet franc to move into the real world.  I am thinking their exclusion from the book might not have been an simple oversight.  The 2010 season was wet and showed in their flabby chardonnay.  Here is wishing a hot, dry summer on Long Island for 2013.

September 22, 2012

I finally found an occasion to sit in front of my laptop and write.  Truth is I have been swamped of late.  Trust me, Itís not that I havenít been drinking, itís that I havenít been writing for the site.  Between work, writing with my good friend SK for a sitcom pilot, taking the reigns of the ECWS and starting up with the Polish University Club (yes, giving back as a volunteer for college students), I have gotten lazy in my wine entries.  There were several highlights of wine related events: several meetups (vertical of Barone Ricosoli, swine and wine), there were several wine dinners with friends (Bistro 18 Tapas Night) and most of all there were many late nights at Cafe Gourmet, there was even sharing a bottle of Rodney Strong cabernet with my daughter before the Bruce concert last night.  Yet none of that got me in front of the lap top to get back in the zone.

No, what has me in front of my brand new MacBook Air, screaming computer (youíre welcome Apple) is to wish my friend and WinoStuff techno-dweeb a happiest of birthdays.  I am sure Wino John is comfortable lounging atop his kingsize WinoStuff duvet, in his WinoStuff robe and boxers.  Yes, I can confirm he has WinoStuff robe and boxers, I will spare you the details.  He told me he gets treated like the monarch he is on this day with the entire WJ family catering to his every want and desire.  I remember his birthday because itís the same day as Bruce Springsteen's.  However, The Boss gets less pampered on that day than WJ.  It usually starts with a hearty breakfast of quail eggs and wild boar bacon with a crisp champagne from a small producer made especially for the occasion.  He reads the paper, makes his kids give him a gift an hour, lunches on pheasant under glass with a Chianti.  Then off to a day of accolades from his relatives where he is showered with more gifts, wine and myrrh.  Finally, dinner at an exclusive wine cellar of a posh, upscale, trendy NYC restaurant where vintage Bordeaux flows like an Al Gore-defined climate changed glacier.  Lucky guy, Springsteen comes off a three night stint at the meadowlands and is so exhausted he will rest quietly with his wife and kids.  Though WJ plays a mean guitar, I have yet to see him at the stadium. 

Good for you WJ to celebrate in the elitist of ways.  You deserve only the best.  Happy birthday and we look forward to pictures, lots of pictures.

And yes, the Springsteen reference was a crass way for me to interject that I was at the concert last night.  That dude has enough energy to keep rocking till heís 90.  He and Little Steven looked like they were kids again having fun playing their dream.  The tribute to Clarence was moving.  Best of all for me, a lot of old stuff, a horn section that had a Jukesí feel and no political ramblings before any song. 

August 17, 2012

I am not much of a Francophile but I do wish that I was around at the turn of the century.  Iím not talking about this turn; Iím talking about the last turn.  From what I have read, it was common for a writer to sit all day in a cafť and work.  It was the equivalent of being able to buy a cup of coffee, nurse it all day and use free internet services.  And by internet I mean pen and paper.  Today, pimply-faced, emo-dressed, aspiring barista managers frown on this practice making it difficult for us writers to find a place to sit all day, purchase very little and use their wifi.  Donít they realize that one hundred years after I am dead, this stuff will be the famed literary works of the times?  OK, even I canít buy that, but I am doing the Lordís work.  And by Lord I mean WinoStuff.  So after getting kicked out of three different places, I find myself sitting in my car in a shopping mall parking lot hoping my battery doesnít fade so I can complete this.  Then I will drive and park near the main door of Panera and connect to their free wifi to email this to Wino John.  Where is the Moulin Rouge when you need it? 

Dinner last night was dressed with age.  No, I am not talking about WJ.  I am talking about the beautifully aged California wines we enjoyed.  I will tell you this, the 1993 Mt Veeder Reserve is just about ready to see its shift to the downhill slopes.  The fruit is pleasantly mellow and the tannins as soft as a babyís ass.    The 1999 Jordan cabernet sauvignon still shows spunk.  Both of these wines superseded my food selection.  They were too good for pasta but porterhouse was not a menu item at the restaurant.  Before I forget, a big happy birthday to our friend Tia. I know women donít tell their age so I am guessing she just turned 28.  Letís just leave it at that.

July 29, 2012

It has been a long time, too long, since Wino Stan and I got together.  Fortunately we made time to grab dinner, a bottle of wine and conversation.  The big positive is his new appointment as Captain of a fire crew and deservedly so.  That guy eats and breathes stuff that burns.  To celebrate, WS brought a bottle of auction wine.  We have come a long way from drinking Rolling Rock at Davies Woods.  Back in the day, Rolling Rock was not trendy, just cheap.  Miller Lite was a special occasion purchase.

I wasnít familiar with the producer so I looked it up on the interwebs.  He is what I found about Cornerstone Cellars.

         
Cornerstone Cellars was born out of a passion for great wines in 1991 when founders Drs. Michael Dragutsky and David Sloas crushed their first five tons of Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Today the founders of Cornerstone Cellars and have been joined by Managing Partner Craig Camp, Winemaker Jeff Keene, in the Napa Valley, and a group of Memphis based partners led by Hal Lewis and John Carrier. All share one goal: to make compelling, exciting wines that speak clearly of the vineyard, variety and vintage from which they are born. All of our wines receive minimal, gentle winemaking relying more on nature than technology as the path to making great wine. All come from organic or sustainably farmed vineyards. As BevX.com noted, ďCraig Camp and winemaker Jeff Keene have propelled Cornerstone Cellars to the top tier of California wineries.Ē

We enjoyed bottle 37 of 48 of the 2009 Premier Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from auction 15 lot 164.  Howís that for a description?  Surprisingly the wine was less big and jammy and more old world.  Fittingly. it was a great way to celebrate and discuss the events of the last 18 months that has passed under the bridge.  Let it not be another 18 months.  Congrats, Big Stan.

July 26, 2012

Itís official, there is a Wino Bob invented and registered cocktail recipe.  So next time you are in the mood for something different, ask your local bartender for a Sheet Slitter.

I know itís official because it has a gold seal.

Try one and let me know what you think.

July 22, 2012

With the weather Gods on our side, we enjoyed a spectacular night at the Tree Tavern for the 3rd annual Pig Roast.  Once again, Augie and Frank cooked the guest of honor with the right amount of mojo marinade, timing and love.  I trust the love and marinade were mutually exclusive.  An intimate crowd of 40 enjoyed the outdoor setting full of lively conversation, abundance of food and three enjoyable wines.  Side note:  One particular table, one at which I didnít spend enough time, held conversations of which the small segments I heard were incredibly entertaining.  Next year, I need a permanent seat at that table. 

As for the pig, it was plentiful.  This year, after a first fill, I channeled my best Andrew Zimmern and went for those more unique parts of the pig.  For the first time in my young (ok not so young) life, I ate a pig eyeball.  Truth be told, I wasnít sure what to expect and happily found myself enjoying this pig part.  It was smooth, bacon flavored and creamy in an undercooked fatty way.  I also ate skin with fat on it, knuckle meat, cheek and well, lets just say whatever Frank wanted to put on a plate. 

Mike well served the wines to meet the day and the food.  We started with a 2011 Santa Digna Rose made from 100% cabernet sauvignon.  This wine hails from the Miguel Torres properties in Chile.  The wine is refreshing, crisp and lightly weighted for a red wine lovers drinking on a hot summer day.  The second wine was a 2010 Santa Digna GewŁrztraminer.  This wine has body and tropical fruit and spice mimicking the mojo flavoring in the meat.  I saw this an eye opener for many of the guests providing an enjoyable surprise.  This wine was a well-placed offering.  The final wine was fun for the event because of its background, yet well made for its jovialness.  It was the EIEIO & Co. Swine Wine from winery owner Jay MacDonald.  I shit you not.  Check out his website, www.onhisfarm.com.  This pinot noir comes from the Willamette Valley of Oregon and carries an offering of plum, spice, and black currant with a good acid balance for food friendliness. 

This one was a pleasure with a mix of old and new meetup members.  I canít wait until next year.  I am already thinking about those eyeballs.

July 12, 2012

We had a wonderful dinner last night with the outgoing President of the ECWS.  It's a good thing there were only four of us as the restaurant was not very spacious.  In fact the tables must have been undersized. If you didnít want or were finished with your roll, they took the bread plate away immediately.  Either they have a very strict one roll per person rule or their table is too small for the oversized plate of small-portioned food.  Hereís an idea, serve the dinner on the bread plate. I feel like I got more and the table doesnít get crowded.  Putting that aside, the food was great.  More importantly, the wines were fantastic. 

At the risk of not being allowed back for the comments above, I will name the restaurant.  It is Lorenaís in Maplewood, NJ.  This storefront place seats about 35.  Attentive and professional wait staff proudly boasts of the local summer fare of fresh local fruits and vegetables.  I also declare the Barnegat scallops local fare.  I had the risotto of the day and the rack of lamb, if by rack you mean three.  We shared a taste of appetizers and entrees and I must say, the peach soup with crabmeat was uniquely wonderful and the short ribs were outstanding. 

The wine line up, due to the generosity of the soon-to-be past Prez, was worth it.  The best thing is that all the wines were in full sized bottles.  I didnít do my job and write down the details of every label so this is from memory.

  • 2010 Domaines Bunan Mas de la Rouviere Rose Bandol- a snappy starter, refreshingly good for a hot summer night, banging mourvedre for flavor.

  • Blankiet Rose Ė California style merlot rose with a fuller body then the French rose.

  • Puligny Montrachet- I donít know year or producer but I do know it was a great wine.

  • 2006 Calon Segur- I brought that one since it was a French restaurant.  Old world style and a bit young.

The king of the night was the 1998 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon.  As soon as I smelled it, I knew it was a great wine.  It had a jammy blueberry nose that broke out its pedigree.  After this one, I really didnít need the double espresso and the vanilla/espresso crŤme burley.  Donít worry; I did manage to eat the dessert. 

It was a great night with fun, lively conversation and good friends and great wine.  I am looking forward to another dinner.  But the wine price I need to start buying at will definitely up my cellar and lighten my merse.  No, I donít have a merse. 

July 7, 2012

My bad...  Happy 4th of July.  I havenít been writing much for my input into the site lately.  I had a perspective adjustment.  For the last eight months, I was a participant observer of the cruel disease called cancer.  Four and a half years ago, it took down my dad and very recently, it beat and battered my mom.  The process took my head out of funny, stupid blog entries and offered little energy outside of doing what I could during the last few weeks.  I managed a dinner or two with close friends who offered me a brief escape from watching, helplessly, as the one who gave me life had hers taken in a slow progressive fashion unkind to decency and dignity.  The nights I was in town, I spent encouraging her to eat dinner, talking about the Presidential race and reminiscing about things that came to her mind.  I will miss you mom.  I know you are in a better place now.

After the formal procedures were over, I managed to participate in a wine meetup at Mikeís marina.  It was a small crowd on Greenwood Lake that enjoyed a cloudless mid-80 degree day full of wine and food.  Mike managed to grill up a delicious array of picnic fare and we all brought a summer day wine.  It turns out there were a number of rosťs, both still and sparkling.  I managed to remember a few but not all.  Our resident rocket scientist, Craig, brought a delicious red wine, though heavy for a hot day, fruitful and impressive nonetheless.  That one I do not recall.

The following rosťs were refreshingly good and worth trying in my humble opinion.

  • Veuve de LaLande, LaLande-de-Pomerol

  • Chateau Montaud Vignobles Francois Ravel

  • Bohigas Brut Rosat Cava Ė made from 100% Trepat.

I was not familiar with the Trepat grape until I did some research and found that it is a common Spanish grape used in rosť cava.  Interesting.  I probably enjoyed trepat before but never knew it.  I will be more diligent this time.

Slowly, time is moving and so am I.  Soon I will be getting back to my old habits.  So WJ, get ready for a steady stream of drunken ramblings coming your way soon.

June 16, 2012

It has been awhile since I found a wine that I enjoyed and that carries a $9.99 price tag.   Last night, I popped into Bottle King in Livingston on my way home and picked up a bottle of gin.  Gin, for me, is a better white spirit than vodka these days.  Maybe itís the summer weather.  As you can imagine, I canít be in a liquor store without looking around.  I found myself, probably because of some wine God intervention, standing in front of the Spanish wine selections.  It was like my hand was guided to the bottle and I placed it in the cart.  Being a premature imbiber, as I admit it, I pulled the cork out as soon as I got home.  Impressive color, deep nose, and wow, a nice weight on the palate.  I very much like it for what it was, a ten-dollar well made wine.  This is officially a find for me.  I recommend you give it a try.  The wine is the 2010 Aviva Vino Bula Montsant comprised of 40% mazuelo, 40% Grenache and 20% syrah.  As you know, mazuelo is also called carignan so I can call this one a CGS.  The soils are similar to Priorat with Montsant being a bit more complex with a mixture of slate (llicorella), sandy clay and chalk.  I call this a Priorat lite at bargain pricing.  The wine has spice, blueberry, black cherry and anise flavors with full body. 

ula Montsant 2010

Look for this label the next time you are interested in a great value red wine.

June 1, 2012

Holy crap, Batman, we are screaming through í12.  I have to ask a simple question to the ladies.  Yoga pants, really?  Look, I understand there is a portion of you wearing yoga pants because you really participate in yoga.  However, I can honestly say there is a portion of you who should NOT be wearing them in public.  Itís simple; itís called a mirror.  Just because your friend goes out in public with yoga pants as a fashion statement doesnít mean you can.  You know who you are.  I understand, maybe you are just starting yoga and you donít yet have the yoga body, and then please change before standing in line in front of me at the post office or Stop and Shop.  I can tell by the lack of sweat that you didnít just come from yoga.  And I can tell from the ice cream and cookies in your basket that you arenít heading to yoga.  Look, I donít wear a speedo showing you my chicken legs and dimpled ass and such.  No need for me to look at an overflowing bowl of saran-wrapped cottage cheese. 

Now for wine, it was the battle of the Bordeaux style reds.  A set up of east versus west, old world versus new world or something like that.  I brought this:


2003 Ch‚teau Calon Segur La Chapelle De Calon

This cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and petite verdot wine was on the down side, drinkable but fading.  A bit about the chateau...

This historic 3rd Growth estate in Saint Estephe dates back to Roman times, and has enjoyed an excellent reputation for over 500 years. In the 18th century Calon Segur was part of the great Segur estate, which included Lafite, Latour and Mouton. During this time, the owner, Marquis de Sťgur, was fond of saying "I make my wine at Lafite and Latour but my heart is in Calon" - a quote which explains the heart motifs that are dotted all around Calon-Sťgur - on walls, fireplaces and even the wine label itself. Calon Segur is situated on a bed of sandy gravel and iron-enriched limestone in the northernmost part of St.-Estephe and has vines averaging 35 years. Planted to 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, the estate produces three red wines from its vineyard including this: La Chapelle de Calon.

Wino John, on the other hand, brought the 2006 Conn Creek Anthology.  OK, no contest.  It was enjoyable with great fruit and a pleasant finish.  Round one to WJ

Conn Creek is a boutique winery on the Silverado Trail in the Rutherford district. For nearly 40 years, the winery has focused on Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-styled wines. Their flagship wine Ė Anthology Ė is named for a Greek word that refers to a collection of literary or artistic works and it aptly describes our approach to crafting this wine. They source fruit from a collection of Napa Valleyís finest vineyards and diverse AVAs for growing Bordeaux varieties. The AVAs are like a gourmet pantry of spices: each one contributes distinct characteristics to the blend, resulting in a wine of generous flavors with layers of depth and complexity.

May 30, 2012

I usually donít miss why WS would rate a wine in the mid 90ís.  I try not to miss when a 94-rated wine is less than $30.00.  So why did I not like the $29.99 Chateau Domeyne?  I will tell you the 2009 came out of the bottle with a promise on first sniff.  Unfortunately, I found nothing in the glass worth drinking.  In fact, the bottle I opened on Monday still has a good amount left.  I guess I just missed what they found.  I just had to get it off my chest since I canít get my money back from the store.  The wine wasnít tainted, it just tasted like it.  Tomorrowís another day...

May 24, 2012

Time to do a wee bit of house cleaning.  This one will not be long but I wanted to make note that this weekend we celebrate Memorial Day.  I am struggling with that.  We do celebrate with cookouts and drinking.  I donít consider the drinking the celebration part, as that is mostly a daily routine for me.  I told someone today, enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.  It hit me as odd.  Paying honor to fallen heroes should not be equal to a celebration in the bastardized sense it has come to be.  I pay tribute to my dadís four years in the Navy.  He was fortunate not to be in the thick of it while he served during the Korean Conflict.  I am proud of the challenge my nephew has accepted as USNA class of 2014.  I will be a little less drunk Monday than any ordinary Monday this year.

Two quick wine comments to mention.  Last weekend, we had a group for dinner at The Tree Tavern.  They were showcasing a young chef that trained in Italy.  Mike and I paired a few wines.  The one that people expressed they enjoyed the best was the 2009 Bertani Pinot Grigio Valente.  The chef crafted homemade gnocchi with sausage and broccoli rabe.  It was a crowd pleaser.  The wine supported the food but didnít over shadow it.  For the price and quality, the wine is a nice, easy drinking summer fun one even as a stand-alone.  As a red, we served the 2006 Brusco dei Barbi.  At 100% Sangiovese, it is very food friendly with a simple fruit/acidity balance.  The crowd filled their glasses and enjoyed a perfect weather day on the Tree Tavernís landscaped grounds.  

Wednesday was a meetup at a restaurant called La Baita in Butler.  The group was small but the wine was plentiful.  I was able to snap a few pictures of several wines I enjoyed.  Since a picture is worth 1000 words, it a way for me to say a lot without having Wino John spend the night editing my drunken ramblings. 

Our stalwart, Bill, brought this shiraz from Barossa.  Deep black fruit with hints of mocha rimmed the glass.  I should have saved this one for dessert.  From the first pour, the deep color was intimidating.

Though he hasnít officially accepted the moniker, Wino Gil, I will use it anyway.  As the restaurant menu leaned Italian in cuisine, WG honored the BLOTY by brining this Super Tuscan.  I could have enjoyed this one without food, plenty of dark fruit, currant, anise and a strong finish.

There is a woman growing out of the bottle.  This Chilean wine, Mont Gras Quatro blends cabernet sauvignon, merlot, carmanere and malbec. Thanks for bringing this one, Mike.

It was a fun dinner and the newbies fit right in.   We enjoyed the company, the laughs and the sharing of food and wine.  Actually, I am not much for sharing food, but wine, thatís the key.

May 4, 2012

It was a crazy week at the geek world meeting.  I needed a night of calm and quiet.  I drank a good deal of red wine in Arizona but never saw what they were serving.  One was a Kendall Jackson properties cabernet but I really wasnít much in the position to write down the label.

Tonight was simple.  I stopped at Kings and purchased a buffalo rib eye steak.  I stopped at Bottle King and purchased a bunch of stuff.  I rubbed the rib eye (Note to self: "rub the rib eye" might replace "box the clown" in my personal diary) with olive oil.  I soaked my meat in red wine and Worchester sauce and spiced in with Bobís special dry rub.  Just so you know, it does lay heavy on the pepper and rosemary.  After 8 minutes on the grill, I grabbed the red I used for marinating the buffalo.  It was the 2008 Chateau Morin St. Estephe.  What a nice match.  The buffalo was one of my best and this Bordeaux wasnít more than the meal.  For a quiet evening in front of the TV, this was a nice match.  The Chateau Morin comes in at 13.5% alcohol and brings black fruit, a bit of earthiness and a soft set of tannins.  The buffalo worked the tannins and the tannins worked the buffalo making this a combo I would enjoy again.

On a side note, speedy recovery to my big bro as he successfully handled the ordeal of man cancer.  Recover quickly so we can start drinking again.  The trip to Arizona was all worth it. 

April 29, 2012

To the desert, the desert I say.  Geek world notwithstanding, a meeting awaits in the showdown of the camelís back.  But first, a moment to visit the eldest in the gene pool lottery.  First meetings with new descendents and reacquaintance with the old. Not wanting to arrive empty handed, I found a local white and red from a winery in Cottonwood Arizona.  They were the only ones available at the local Fryís.  They were featured as the award winners in 2010.  The winery is Arizona Stronghold Vineyards.  The white wine was a 2010 Mandela being a blend of 87% Ligonier, 8% Grenache Blanc, and 5% Orange Muscat.  I found it interesting as a blend but the heavy handed use of oak bringing the minerality out and stepping on the fruit.  Not for nothing but let the fruit shine.  The white has promise with the limestone soils, arid climate and stress of the desert, so bring it on home I say.  Less is more in this case.

The red was ok; I would not opt for the white over it.  The blend was 39% Cinsault, 25% Syrah, 25% Petite Syrah, 5% Counoise, 4% Grenache, 2% Viognier.  The best I can say is young fruit.  With syrah, cinsault, grenache and petite syrah I looked for much deeper black fruits.  I was surprised that I couldnít find more local stuff at the store.  I have enjoyed Callahan chardonnay in the past, but I want to try.  I am here to drink my way through Arizona.  Hit me!

April 28, 2012

Did you ever have one of those weeks were you say, I just need a drink?  Well I had one of those weeks, days this week.  So where else does one go to accomplish this task?  Hell, I donít know why he keeps letting us back, but it was the attack on Gourmet Cafť.  Nobody better there then WJ and TOB to break bread and bust ballsÖ so to speak.  Technically, I am avoiding bread but Danielle made this olive oil with parmesan cheese and herb dip that I had to try.  The ball busting part is a free for all and everyone participates, even the other customers.  I went with the soft shell crab special.  And when I say special, I mean done my way not the way itís described on the menu.

As for the liquid to allow me to drown out the day, we had the young and the old.  That could describe the people around us as well, but I digress.  The young was mine, a 2009 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine showed promise but it is just too early to drink.  And unless you donít mind picking tannin splinters out of your taste buds. The old turned out to be the 1997 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon.  Though the color did not indicate it, the fruit faded fast.  The light of a once brilliant star shimmered and flickered as it pressed to stay alive.  That was contributed to us by TOB.  Which makes WJís BLOTY the one that was just right for dinner.  The 2006 Rocco di Frassinello, a proud Super Tuscan being made up of: 60% Sangioveto, 20% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Subtly elegant but not over the top in fruit.  The wine was offering us dark cherry, black fruit a hint of spice and a well-tailored finish.  Bravo, WJ, a winner at any price, but under $30.00 makes it a keeper. 

Oh, and next time, just remember, I am not your birthday entertainment, just a guy trying to eat dinner and share a glass, bottle, rehoboam of wine with my peeps.

April 13, 2012

I thought I finally had my quantity of consumption under control.  Two people for dinner, two bottles of wine, and one bottle is corked.  That results in half a bottle per person.  Or does it?  I would normally say yes it does, unless is you are dining with the MacGyver of wine, Wino John.  Taking a valuable piece of information from his wine utility belt (actually WJ wears his old Batman utility belt that he took out the cool Batman stuff and inserted wine accouterments), WJ came up with an amazing bit of Bill Nye science.  

Let me first say that my bottle of 2004 Baron de Milon Rothschild was a nice wine for the price.  At $30.00 the wine had character and dark fruit.  It is worth purchasing more.  Just so we are clear, it wasn't as intense and complex as its older brother, Chateau Duhart Milon.  The wine is lighter and more approachable at a younger age.  

We put the remainder of the Milon on hold as our main course was served.  Fortunately, I was sober enough not to give away the rest of the wine to the staff.  As we poured out the 2006 Solengo, the off aroma had us concerned.  The evil taint reared its ugly head.  At first, there was sheer panic, followed by man tears.  We savored the last of the Bordeaux like the soccer team in the Andes plane crash savored the small guy's thigh meat.  Then, with a light bulb glow and a flash of wino genius, WJ pulled a fix out of the recesses of his California-soaked medulla oblongata.  It seems that there is a long chain polymer that chelates TCA out of skunky wine.  I had to sign a non-disclosure and I do not know what a long chain polymer is but I have to say, it saved the night.  I will say that the wine was not one hundred per cent but wah-wah-wee-wow.  Amazingly, the funk was out of the trunk.  The taint was off the paint.  The wine was somewhat fine, again.  Let's just say Wino John saved the day, actually it was evening but it didn't seem fitting.  I don't know what else to say but there is something behind the experimentation that makes this worth looking into.  

Most importantly, we got back to the one man one bottle rule for dinner.  What will that boy bring out of his utility belt next time?  Only time will tell.  But I do feel safer that if I am in a plane crash in the Andes with hungry soccer players and the wine is corked, I might just save myself from being the first one cannibalized when I magically untainted their wine.  Miracles still do happen.  Had WJ performed that last week, I might have thought Jesus was back among us.  Jesus turned water into wine, but Wino John turned tainted wine into drinkable wine.  I got to see how he makes out at the deep end of a pool.

April 6, 2012

What better way to spend the Last Supper/Passover then enjoying wine.  Last night was the official end to the Ď11-í12 tasting season.  I achieved one more tasting under the belt.  As I am still somewhat of a newbie, I had never seen the presenter before.  Legend has it he is a true Burghound, Burghead, Burgasaurus.  And living up to expectations was going to be a challenge.  The tasting was set as the 2009 Volnay Challenge.  Before we could actually partake, there was a small bit of business that needed to be conducted, the election of new officers.  Thank you.  As the saying goes, there is a new sheriff in town.  Enough said. 

The wines were divided into 5 flights.  I found the categories to be nicely identified and did invite discussion at the table.  I will miss that table.  As you know, I have little of offer to a Burgundy evaluation other than smart-ass commentary. Fortunately for me, there was a super taster at my left.  She remains reluctant to allow me to identify her or have her appear clad in the honorary WinoBabe of the Month.   It has something to do with her being a fine upstanding individual in a very affluent town with a prestigious position, blah, blah, blah.  I told her we ruined much more important peopleís reputations and I am sure if she moved out of NJ she could find a new affluent town. 

Flight 1

Different Producers

Joseph Voillot Bourgogne

Joseph Drouhin Volnay A. C.

The Drouhin was a 2-1 favorite.

Flight 2

Same Producer: Vieilles Vignes vs. 1er Cru

Joseph Voillot Vieilles Vignes

Joseph Voillot Les Champagnes 1er Cru

The depth and complexity of the 1er Cru made it a hands down winner.

Flight 3

Same Producer Ė Different Terroir

Hubert de Montille Tallepieds 1er Cru

Hubert de Montille Mitans 1er Cru

I found a sweetness on the nose of the Tallepieds that had me concerned.  It brought up a discussion if the nose and palate do not match does that detract from your evaluation?  The Mitans was symbiotic in its components and made consensus at the table.

Flight 4

Different Producers Ė Same Terroir

Joseph Faiveley Santentos 1er Cru

Thierray & Pascal Matrot Santentos 1er Cru

We found a bottle difference at out table of the Thierry, which altered the discussion.  I was unimpressed with my number 8 wine but did sniff the glass (I said glass) of the super taster next to me.  Her wine was much more brilliant and dynamic which would have made me like this one more.

Flight 5

Special Wine in At Least 2 Ways

Joseph Faiveley Corton-Clos de Corton Grand Cru

OK, so this was the wine of the flight.  It was special in two ways, it was a grand Cru and it was $180.00. 

What else I learned from the tasting:

  1. There are a lot of guys named Joseph making wine in Volnay. 

  2. More expensive is better

  3. Super tasters donít appear in bikinis

  4. I still know very little about Burgundy nuanced wines

  5. Thereís a new sheriff in town

See you in SeptemberÖ


Bob's old Winings were starting to get as bloated as Bob's liver, so they were subdivided chronologically into Quarterly Reviews.  If you dare, click on one of the links below to go back in time and revisit Bob's musings.  Be warned however,  too much Bob can be hazardous to your psyche!  

Q1 2012

Q4 2011     Q3 2011     Q2 2011     Q1 2011

Q4 2010     Q3 2010     Q2 2010     Q1 2010

Q4 2009     Q3 2009     Q2 2009     Q1 2009

Q4 2008     Q3 2008     Q2 2008     Q1 2008

Q4 2007     Q3 2007     Q2 2007     Q1 2007

Q4 2006     Q3 2006     Q2 2006     Q1 2006

Q4 2005     Q3 2005     Q2 2005     Q1 2005

Q4 2004     Q3 2004      Q2 2004     Q1 2004

Q4 2003     Q3 2003     Q2 2003     Q1 2003

Q4 2002     Q3 2002     Q2 2002     Q1 2002

Q4 2001     Q3 2001     Q2 2001      Q1 2001

Q4 2000     Q3 2000     Q2 2000     Q1 2000

 


Bobís scale combining cost and taste: 

 

$- under 20 dollars
$$- 20-50 dollars
$$$
-50-75 dollars
$$$$
-75 to 100 dollars
$$$$$
-100+ ( not in the budget)

 

I will use an icon, , to rate my wines.  The more icons, the better I liked it and would love to share this bottle with some good food and my rat friends.  WinoBob

Editor's Note: A while back, Bob went off on a tangent and changed his icon to .  He does this just to make me crazy!!!.  
WinoJohn


 

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