This page contains
Winings from the 1st
Quarter of the year 2006.
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March 31, 2006
Blind item off AP: What snarky, bespectacled,
stick-figure wine critic was seen kanoodling with Catherine Zeta Jones in a
quiet corner table at the chic, trendy, meat-packing district eatery, Spice
Wow, how is that for an ego boost? However, I must say,
kanoodling is so inappropriate. We were just enjoying some pork vandeloo
and ginger-fried rice during her break from shooting a scene for her upcoming
movie. OK, so we were not even really "sharing" pork vandeloo. And, Michael
Douglas was there too. And, we were not actually at the same table. They
were two tables away. And I actually was kanoodling with Wino Paul and soon to
be Wino Tim, two chuckleheads I happened to be enjoying dinner with. Yes, the
magic of New York City is that even a low life like me can enjoy a meal at a
very nice restaurant and by chance be seated next to the affable, perky and
stunningly beautiful Catherine Zeta Jones. We have been doing a once a quarter
dinner in the city and last night was my turn to set the table. Fortunately, I
had my younger brother treat me to the hot spots south of Chelsea and I cashed
in on his knowledgebase. We started with a cocktail at the south-beach style
bar in the Maritime Hotel, my Americano was fittingly aperitif-ish. A tasty
blend of orange zest, Campari and Sweet Vermouth. Then it was off to our
non-VIP early dinner 6:30 reservation at Spice Market for a compelling meal. As
we were winding down, a gentleman sat two tables away, alone, reading a paper,
not traditional at such a hot spot. The encyclopedia of stars (you must
remember the Hollywood map of the stars adventure), Wino Paul immediately
identified him as Michael Douglas. I having had one Americano and four
Singah (Thailand beer 6% abv) looked over and confidently bet it was not. By
the way, Wino Paul, I know I owe you double what I told you your gift was, as a
woman from another table approached the man and asked for his autograph; which
he graciously signed. But it was the stunningly beautiful T-Mobil chick herself
that made me stare like a tourist. My oh my, money has its privileges.
Being dragged out of Spice market, with my saliva soaked
tongue dragging on the filthy NYC sidewalk, we headed back to 15th
for an anti-Spice Market experience. We stopped in the camouflaged, small,
local Passerby for a reasonably priced beer and a quite locals only, non-trendy,
not-hipster down home experience. Rounding out the night with a final Budweiser
at the biker bar, turned quasi-yuppie Hogs and Heffers with barmaids hopping on
the bar cowgirl stomping to songs. Shots of alcohol encourage female patrons to
hop up and join them, for the mere pleasure of a free shot. Well, not exactly
free, they first must offer their bra, or at least bare it to the drunken,
gawking male heavy on-lookers. We were treated to two locals loaded enough to
breakdown their inhibitions and offering their version of dance moves.
As old fart geeks, we called it a night around 10:45 to
catch the PATH back to suburbia and I headed back to my non-trendy, non-hip,
non-exciting dark, dank third floor room. Nevertheless, for one fleeting
moment, I lived the hustle and bustle of the New York scene.
March 26, 2006
As I sat swirling, and sipping a glass of Spanish wine from
my newest region of interest, Ribera del Duero, I opened mail from the PO Box
that had been collecting for a while. Ribera del Duero is a region I have
little experience with as I have drank my way through the Albarinos of Rias
Baixas, the Cabernets of Penedes and the red jam of Priorat. I decided it
was time to move to the stepchild of Rioja and start tasting the more reasonably
priced reds from Ribera. Heaped into the pile of bills, wine stuff and member
enlargement advertisings was a nice note and autographed picture from our news
FOWS (Friend of WinoStuff), Jackie “the Joke Man” Martling. I always loved
Jackie’s humor (for which he got little credit for on the Stern show), as
Martling would feed funny one liners with Gatling gun speed to Stern during his
interview of guests. Jackie’s comedic timing and topical commentary made Stern
look like the funny one. All the time behind the scenes, Jackie was pounding
out quick responses and hilarious one-liners. Thanks for the picture, Jackie,
it hangs on my wine cellar wall with the quickly-expanding famous FOWS. We are
looking forward to the upcoming show.
The Ribera del Duero red was a nice complement to the
mail-reading on the cold, rainy Sunday. Winter just does not want to release
its bony finger hold on springtime. The cold rain antidote was a gut warming
red made from 100% tempranillo. I will be spending more time in this region of
the world to get a good cross section of what I like, so join me in a bottle of
Ribera del Duero’s famous grape and let me know what I should be trying.
Bodegas Arrocal Arrocal Ribera del Duero $
A nice nose of spice and dark raspberry with a touch of licorice on the
finish. Nice balance of fruit and acidity make this a food friendly companion.
Interestingly, this is what Robert Parker said about this wine:
excellent 2004 Arrocal is a deep ruby/purple-tinged effort boasting a sweet
nose of plums, black cherries, and currants, a medium to full-bodied, silky
smooth style, and a hint of barrique. Lusciously fruity, opulent, and
hedonistically as well as intellectually satisfying, this fruit-driven,
modern-styled Spanish red should be consumed over the next 1-2 years.
Score: 90. —Robert Parker, June 30, 2005.
March 23, 2006
Over Tandoori Chicken and Curry Lamb, I found out that, a)
cabernet sauvignon goes well with Indian cuisine and b) Wino John is so wealthy
he has someone shop for him. Sharing several bottles of cab and goat on a
stick, WJ and I had a dinner to celebrate the large order we just received for
our WinoStuff Magical Red Wine Stain Removing
Elixir when I started my grousing about the Governor Corzine budget deal. I
have been remiss in commenting on the new Governor’s conduct and seeming
inability to make words (pledges) mean anything. It seems that Mr. Corzine has
little interest in spending time looking at innovative ways to balance the
budget. You know, innovation, such as the companies that Goldman
Sachs wants to invest in because they find unique solutions to their customer’s
problems. Unfortunately the frizzy-haired, uber-wealthy Hobokenite (in blue
jeans and ball cap for that everyman look), feels that a tax increase on the
water we drink, the gas we use, the wine or beer we buy, the cigerettes we smoke
and the 3 billion other things that fall under our state sales tax is the only
way for him to govern. Wow, we should have kept Florio in office. At
least he only raised our tax revenues by 2 billion. It seems that Mr. Corzine
is looking to tax the shirt on our backs.
This brings up the very interesting topic that the soon to
be uber-wealthy WJ was unaware of the tax-free clothing in NJ as he admitted out
loud that he does not shop for his wardrobe. WJ must have a ward, kind of like
Batman had the boy wonder. I wonder if someone dresses him in the morning?
“Sir, your waist coat. Sir, your wing tipped brogues. Sir, your
Brooks Brothers 120's two-ply broadcloth button-down collar shirt in French
blue.” Oh clothes boy, fetch me a new pair of dress slacks and a very
expensive, yet tasteful new blue blazer. Wow, I guess wine shopping is the only
thing he does himself. (Editor's note: I don't go
clothes shopping because a) I spend all my discretionary income on soccer and
gymnastics training for my two little princesses, and b) the clothes that I
bought in the '70's are still perfectly good today...)
More to follow on the new governor in the wine and politics
2003 Casa Julia Cabernet Sauvignon
Black fruit and oak aging fill the glass but don’t hang around as long as
they should, otherwise this would be a great find.
March 21, 2006
I spend a great deal of time understanding the contours of
a bottle, so much so that I decided to see what I could stick into it. Having
several failed experiments and two trips to the emergency room at Mountainside
Hospital, with shaky hands and blurry eyes, I finally managed to find something
that fits. Yes, the entire schooner that once was docked at Liberty Park has
been disassembled piece by piece and reassembled inside this bottle.
This ship reminded me of the great nations that owned the
seas in the 15th and 16th centuries. I went down to my
Spanish section and grabbed a bottle from a region I have yet to taste, Sardon
del Duero. The reason I purchased this bottle was its ownership. (Wino Lou, we
have to talk). This winery is owned by the pharmaceutical giant, Novartis. The
little I actually know about Novartis, besides the big building on Route 10 that
once was Sandoz, is that they make a bunch of anti-depressants. A beautifully
orchestrated circle of life, you drink red wine that depresses your nervous
system, you wake up with the weight of the world on your back and a pounding
headache and you reach for your Novartis anti-depressants and anti-inflammation and
migraine fighting drugs. Brilliant!!!
Whether they are doping their wine with drugs or not, I
appreciate their products.
2003 Abadia Retuerta Sardon del Duero “Rivola”
This blend of 60% Tempranillo and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon shows dark
berry, rich cassis and a finish of vanilla from the oak aging, look for the
convenient blister pack of wine pills coming to local drugstores in your area.
March 20, 2006
A weekend of losers... First, the pairing down to the
sweet 16 has me three from the bottom of the pool. I think a chicken, the 4-
and 6-year-old sons of the pool organizer are below me. I guess I just b-l-o-w
at picking the final four. The second disappointment was the Sopranos, the show
of shows I waited almost two years for had me hitting the fast forward button on
the TiVo. Please, bring back the mad shot Russian, bring back the one legged
guy Tony did on the couch, bring back the plot. I am ready to declare Tony
jumping the shark, but I do not think he could. Next week better bring
excitement, suspense and a good whacking. Finally, the Grand Vin de Bordeaux I
had to keep me company was anything but exciting. I figure it was a fitting
disappointment for the disappointing day.
2000 Château Jalousie Beaulieu Bordeaux Supérieur AOC
This merlot-based Bordeaux is shallow and vacant and disappointing.
March 19, 2006
Do you have the Madness? Yes, it is that time of year when
all types of betting surround an event, the college basketball road to the final
four. Each year I get a call from a good friend with an invitation to meet for
a late lunch on day one of the tournament. Then I am emailed a list of the 64
teams and I need to pair them down until I clairvoyantly determine who survives
and who goes home. I reviewed all the sixains of Nostradamus and ended up as I
always do, with a dart, the brackets, a bottle of wine and a $20.00 bill. Most
years, I burn the 20 right on the spot. It saves me the agony of coming in
last each year. However, this year, I dove in the pool headfirst and am
anxiously awaiting the results over the next two weeks. I figure a bookies kids
have to eat too, so why not contribute to his cause? Besides, the IRS thrives
on the tax revenues contributed from office betting, right?
Before getting started, I headed to my local wine shop to
see if the Shinas Estates new arrivals had landed. Not yet, but I did some
purchasing of inexpensive wines so I could have things to write about over the
next few weeks as I watch my national champion selection go down to some
Cinderella team. I, being a cheap bastard, ended up with a case of wine, after
my 20% discount for what Wino John spends on two bottles. Yes, even on the
$6.99 offerings, since they were not on sale, I got my 20%. The interesting
thing, as I combed the shelves was a bottle of gruner veltliner from Hoffman
Estates that had the alternative closure of all alternative closures. As you
know we have written on the composite cork, the synthetic cork and even the
variety of screw caps, but yesterday I saw my first wine with a beer bottle type
cap. Yes, imagine the boorishly snobby sommelier presenting a bottle of this
wine at your corporate dinner and pulling out his corkscrew to use the bottle
top opener side of the lever. “Masseur Cheap Bastard, would like to sniff the
pop top? I heard it was a very good year for steel and plastic.” Even I was
too appalled to purchase this wine, though I have been thinking about it all
night. Christ I must be a loser if I spent my night thinking about a wine that
has a beer cap closure. I am so intrigued that I might find myself back at that
store today just to buy that bottle. Anyway, my money is riding on Bloomfield
College to take it all. Go Fighting Inner Suburban Metrosexuals…!!!
2002 Lindemans Bin 77
I was hoping for more out of this 77%
Semillon and 23% chardonnay but it just did nothing for me.
March 16, 2006
I guess all that pinot noir finally pushed Big Bob to the
other side. He sent me an email inviting me to an A.S.S. tasting.
Holy crap Marie! An A.S.S tasting? What in the good grace of God is
that? Oh yeah, and he said he was featuring three of his Italian friends. I
don’t care, Italian ass, Big Bob ass, I ain't interested! (until he
clarified that it stood for something like "Annual Spring Sale". Now you're
talking! No hairy man ass, just a room full of wine and an empty glass in
my hand. It turned out to be an event hosted by his distributor and he did have
three of his Italian wine producers there.
As I entered the room, the first face I saw was my good
friend Riccardo Tedeschi. Ricky and I shared dinner and his wines at Bacchus
one night when Big Bob showed these wines about a year ago. Looks like someone
might be sleeping in the barrel room in Venice this summer. I had the pleasure
of meeting Dr. Christian Oberdorfer of Girlan from the Alto Adige region of
northern Italy. After exchanging some pleasantries and verifying I didn’t have
to taste any ass as an admission fee, I headed to the whites and tasted a few
Alsacean (wines). I wanted to experience a wine I have little exposure to,
their famed Gewurztraminer. I found the Dopff & Irion Les Sorcieres and the
Leon Beyer Comtes d’Eguisheim vibrant but the Girlan I sipped with Doc was full
of honey and pear flavors that had me thinking about Thanksgiving dinner. I
figure I would list a few of the good, the bad and the ugly.
2002 Paraiso Syrah
2002 Poppy Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
2003 Rabbit Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
2003 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon2003 Hugo Estate
2003 Ey Grenache Vigne d’en Gaume
2003 Domaine du Pesquier Gigondas
2003 Alain Voge Cornas Vieilles Vignes
2003 Mulderbosch Chardonnay
2002 Tokara Cabernet Sauvignon Zondernaam
2004 Dominio de Tares Mencia Baltos
2005 Brampton Sauvignon Blanc
2003 Kanonkop Kadette
2004 King Estates Pint Gris Vin Glace
2003 Kluge Estate Simply Red
2004 Casa Silva Carmenere Reserva
2003 Domaine de Galets des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape
2004 Domaine Brusset Cotes du Rhone
The Highly Recommended to try by Wino Bob
2002 Stuhlmuller Cabernet Sauvignon
2002 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
2004 Dobogo Dry furmint
2004 Montgras Quatro
2002 Rustenberg John X. Merriman
2003 Jean-Michael Gerin Trio Infernal
2002 Pasanau La Planeta
2004 Girlan Gewurtztraminer
2003 Tedeschi Amarone
What can I say? None of the wines tasted like ass, so
except for the Chamboucin, I was very happy to have attended Big Bob’s A.S.S.
tasting. As I was leaving, he mentioned a K.N.O.B. tasting next week, boy I
March 15, 2006
Wondering, as I often do, what if oil was actually a
renewable resource? I remember the gas lines in the seventies and the
commitment during the Carter Presidency and the projections that by 2010 we
would be tapped out of oil. Then it seems that decades later we readjust our
assessment to find there is another 50 years of oil. Pondering the life of my
gas guzzling SUV, I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, we need CFCs in our
ecosystem. I don’t want to make your hair hurt when I explain this, as I see
it, the CFCs we just banned would react in the upper atmosphere with our ozone
layer, this would create acid rain. Environmentalists are afraid the acid rain
will shower down on the landfills containing our old VCRs, cell phones, TVs,
(all electronic junk). The acid would leech out the lead and the lead would get
into the ground water. We would then drink the water and get brain damage.
Immediate reason I do not drink water, but as the Romans, I safely opt for the
wine. What if the leeched lead was actually a fuel source for an enzyme host in
the earth’s crust that can eat rock and secrete oil as their waste product? I
do not care how many dinosaurs roamed the earth, there cannot be that much oil
from dead T-Rexs and meteor-fried vegetation. What we need to do is study the
microbes in aquifers as we dispense minute volumes of lead into their water
source. Oil just might be some sort of microbe urine. Hey, if a spider could
poop out a string 100 times tougher then steel, why can’t a micro organism poop
out a black tarry substance we just found a way to run our economy on? Having
observed first hand the next day’s evacuation from a three-bottle Priorat night,
I myself produce a black tarry substance, wow. I must bury some of this
sometime and check in a year. Maybe I am an oil-producing microbe after
several bottles of expensive wine. I must pose this theory to the wine makers
at many of the high end wineries and tell them a donation of two cases of their
high end will go far in the future oil based economy of the USA. Where did I
leave those phone numbers for Screaming Eagle, Bryant, Colgin…….
Beware the Ides of March - Et Tu.
March 12, 2006
I think I have mentioned once or twice that I am
a listener of political talk radio and pundit politics from cable TV. Today
happened to be one of the days my mind was fueled with a bit of the red grapes
(a blend) as the radio was playing in the background. I was not concentrating
on the discussion, but two people were arguing about a bill proposed to make
flag burning illegal. One side defines it as free speech, though with two
glasses of wine, I have a difficult time understanding how lighting material on
fire is speech. The other side was saying we need to protect our flag and not
allow protesters to blaze it. I will be up front and tell you, I do not get the
flag-burning thing and my gut twists inside when I see news footage of
anti-American groups burning our flag or an effigy of our President, no matter
who it is in office. I cross party lines as an American not wanting to see
Presidents of the other party being burned, and yes, even if it were Bill
It occurred to me, instead of this
fight playing out in the Supreme Court, costing the taxpayers millions of
dollars and further dividing the nation on the Bill of Rights; I offer my simple
winological resolution to the issue. It would be prudent for the President to
call Annin & Co. (the oldest and largest manufacturer of flags in the
United States) and tell them to make our flag out of flame retardant materials.
Annin & Co.
105 Eisenhower Parkway
Roseland, NJ 07068
I would love to see the new
footage of some major anti-American protest spill out into the streets of say
Iran, and the incendiary crowd that just finish stomping on our flag, affix to
set it on fire as the chants of "down with America" begin. As they gas it and
hold a lighter to it…..nothing, the Stars and Stripes hold true to its form and
symbolism. It would be great to see the crowd turn on Akbar as his pyrotechnics
failed to deliver the desired message.
Obviously, they would only make
the flame retardant flags for sales overseas, to tree hugging environmental
groups and to Al Franken, Michael Moore and the Hollywood left. And, oh
yeah, Dan Rather.
Folie à Deux
Ménage à Trois Red
This California blend brings
zinfandel, merlot and cabernet sauvignon together though they do quite well by
themselves. Blackberry, blueberry, spice and a touch of toasted caramel visit
the glass. A pizza wine for Friday night in front of Fox News.
March 11, 2006
I was tooling around the local Foodtown, jonesin for a
bottle of wine, with ten dollars in my pocket and the need to buy a quart of
milk. It didn’t leave me many options. Actually, the option list was less
than five. Seeing a California cabernet sauvignon with a plain paper label, a
“Super Cab” winner’s label from the 2004 Critics Challenge International Wine
competition in San Diego, Ca., and a price of $6.99, I figured how bad could
this wine be?
I stashed it in the basement and an hour and a half later
was typing on this stupid computer hearing the faint voice of Mr. GOTY. “Wino
Bob, come down here and get me. At $6.99, even if I’m not good, you really
haven’t lost much. Besides, you are becoming a fat bastard and the walk up and
down the stairs will do you good, you lonely pathetic, loser who (or is it
whom?) spends his time in a third floor dank room posting unprofessional
comments about crafted wine that real wine critics get recognized by the
professional community as having the knowledge….”
Hey, you are a bottle of wine, get off my back. Where did
you get your psychology degree from, and why am I having a conversation with a
voice in my head that is a bottle of wine?
So I listened, and fetched, and opened and tasted. Jesus,
this is horrid! What a waste of $6.99. I should tank this plonk.
But the wine angels kept my hand from spilling the bottle into the sink. I put
the glass aside and focused back on my research. Popping up Google, I typed in
"women and wine bottle"………….."labels". Geez, leave off the word "labels" and up
pops some frightening stuff. Scanning through sites and pictures of women with
wine bottle………labels, a reflex caused me to unconsciously reach for the
glass and take a sip. Hey, who switched my wine? This is better than the crap
that was here before. It turns out this one was not half bad. In fact, I would
buy it again. It is not a big ass cab, but a friendly, approachable wine at an
2004 Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon
This seven dollar bottle drinks like an eleven dollar bottle, so in my
book, I am getting more than I paid for. Dark fruit and cassis brush the palate
with a soft easy finish.
March 10, 2006
What a job! An afternoon of drinking fine wine, eating
fruit and cheese and speaking with perky young women! Oh, sorry, that's
not my life. I was referring to Big Bob’s scam of a job. Slugging in
between my geek world and familial obligations, I popped my bespectacled head
into the Dreyfus Ashby 2004 release preview at the swank Stony Hill Inn. To my
alcoholic delight, the folder at the entrance table announced 73 bottles of
liquid love awaiting my empty tasting glass. As I saddled up to the first
table, a Brokeback Mountain moment flashed through my mostly empty head.
Quandary: two tables of free wine to taste, the majority of which were the
sheepherder’s companion, Burgundy. Red Burgundy. Pinot Noir.
So, do I skip to table #3 and hit the newest Rhone offering Dreyfus Ashby is
handling or do I squeeze my ass cheeks tight and accept the Beaune? As I looked
around, there was nobody I knew, so I wet my whistle with a Drouhin white that I
could drink openly. I hit the whites and tasted:
Drouhin Corton Charlemagne
Drouhin Puligny Montrachet Clos de La Garnenne
Drouhin Puligny Montrachet Pucelles
Drouhin Batard Montrachet
The Pucelles had a nose of hot buttered popcorn that made
me look for a movie theater ticket and the Batard was a wine I hope to have on
my dinner table one Thanksgiving.
Feeling a bit more comfortable in liking sheepherders, I
switched to a new glass and tasted the Drouhin Reds of:
Woo Hoo, cowboy, get lonely on the range and do not be
ashamed of your romance with a pinot noir….
But the fun, less assless chap wines were these that I did
go back and try again, and again and again
Chateau Campuget offers a clean crisp Rose and
their le Sommelier was a treat for us syrah junkies.
Plaisir de Merle Cabernet Sauvignon shook some
of the Brokeback soil from my jeans.
Renato Ratti Barolo Rocche and Tedeschi’s San
Rocco Rosso and Classico Amarone Valpolicella were gripping.
Thank God, I ran into Brian Badlowski and his new associate
at the Italian red table, as I didn’t have to explain that I was drinking
Burgundian Reds purely as research. I thought I must have insulted Brian during
an old posting as I haven’t heard from him since December, but it seems that
cyberspace has several of his replies to my questions orbiting the Ort Cloud
I rounded the fifth table still speaking clearly and drove
head first into the Miguel Torres offerings. A big winner for me was the
Santa Digna Sauvignon Blanc from Chile and their Gran Sangre de Toro.
I wrapped my bony fingers around the Mas La Plana Black Label, take that
you man-loving sheepherder. If only they had a few bottles of the Mas La Plana
on Brokeback Mountain, those two dudes would have been punching each other in
the arm and making love to the sheep like every red blooded sheepherder has
since Biblical times. Hollywood may have caved and given them an Oscar if they
drank Mas La Plana and simply rode horses instead of each other.
After Big Bob cleaned up and I sat on my ass talking to
future Wino Babe of the Month, Cathy, we headed to the dining room at the Stony
Hill Inn and enjoyed a fine meal. The lump crabmeat cocktail was extremely well
proportioned for the price and the Ahi tuna was seasoned just right. Big Bob
ordered a bottle of Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve.
March 8, 2006
I cannot believe they sent this to me on the last day of
the event. My gold-leafed invitation must be stuck in snail mail space. I
thought I might have been one of the keynote speakers, BUT NO. The wine writers
don’t want me to inspire the next generation of drunken web bloggers. Might it
have been my lack of command of the English language, as I do not know when to
use who or whom? Could it be my sophomoric potty humor and obsession with
bodily functions? Perhaps it is my jingoistic, right-leaning perspective that
threatens the vast left wing wine-writing conspirators. No, it can only be a
racist exclusion because I am a White Polish American living in New Jersey.
Yes, they are ignoring me because of the color of my skin and the fact that I
drank vodka and beer in my baby bottle. Let me make it perfectly clear, when
they realize their racist ways and come knocking on my door next year to make
amends, I will NOT, I repeat, NOT accept their offer, so do not expect to see me
on the speakers list next year. Now where is Jesse Jackson when I need him?
And what rhythms with Polish?
We are pleased to invite you to attend the
Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley.
This extraordinary four-day program will take place March 6 through 9, 2006
and is open to published editorial wine writers, wine/food writers,
wine/travel writers and editors.
The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, a non-profit organization, was
founded as a resource for professional writers, editors, and those emerging
in the field with a mission of promoting excellence and camaraderie within
the professional wine writing community. The conference, convened annually
in Napa Valley, offers professionals an open forum for exploration of themes
prevalent in contemporary wine writing.
In order to maintain the editorial caliber of this conference, the Symposium
has solicited no outside sponsorship. A portion of the cost has of the
program is underwritten by the Napa Valley Vintners, a non-profit
organization representing 275 wineries and by Meadowood Napa Valley.
Meadowood, which is also the annual home to Auction Napa Valley, continues
its twenty-six-year tradition of service to the Napa Valley winegrowing
community by providing a venue for the conference. The Symposium follows an
intense plenary program for a limited number of attendees plus speakers.
We look forward to welcoming you in March 2006 to the second annual
Symposium for Professional Wine Writers.
Meadowood Napa Valley
Napa Valley Vintners
March 5, 2006
Needing a mental break, I called up 'old reliable'.
Not Maytag, not my dog. No, Wino Rocker. It seems, if he is in New Jersey
and not out at one of his 100 plus acre farms in Pa, he is up for dinner (which
really means something to eat in between bottles of red). The Rockers and I met
at a BYOB that serves Italian food located halfway between their estate and my
third floor room. Yes, I know, we are the Italian food BYOB capital of the
world. Mrs. WR sipped from the syrah, her favorite, while Mr. WR and I drank
around the syrah and into an Argentinean Cabernet Sauvignon. Most surprising
for a Saturday night was the fact that Sofia’s was half-full, or half empty
depending on your outlook on life. They usually have a crowd with the wait
staff knocking into the back of your chair as they maneuver their way through
the labyrinth of chairs. The food is consistently good and the pricing is on
par with the umpteen other Italian BYOBs in the area so it surprised me to see
empty tables. I enjoyed their veal with porcini mushrooms, Italian ham, and
mozzarella in a brown sauce; a nice dish for red wine.
2004 Qupe Central Coast Syrah
This California Rhone is heavy syrah with support from a cast of Rhonie
minor grapes, a favorite of mine, with lush dark fruit, hard spice on the finish
and a hint of lavender on the nose.
2002 Bodegas San Huberto Cabernet Sauvignon Crianza
The plum and cassis flavors were dampened by the harsh finish from their
desire to oak this puppy.
March 4, 2006
The very first real job I had was with a South African
businessman that settled into the US to import geekworld technical equipment.
He is near retirement age, living in Geneva, and recently purchased a home in a
game reserve in the bush country of SA. He called me the other day, as we speak
every few months. It’s not a Tuesdays with Morrie thing, but I do value the
guidance he has given me over the years. He knows of my interest in wine and
someday having that WinoStuff label of wines. He encouraged me to go on the
South African consulate’s web page and search out wineries looking for a US
importer as a way to start developing a relationship with a winery that one day
might produce the Winostuff liquid gold.
While I was cruising their web site I came across this
info, though not wine related, it can help eliminate the scam letters clogging
my WinoStuff email. Check this out.
the 419 Scam?
perpetrators of Advance Fee Fraud are often very creative and innovative. This
fraud is called "4-1-9" fraud after the section of the Nigerian penal code that
addresses fraud schemes. The scammers, purporting to be officials of their
government or banking institutions, will fax or mail letters to individuals and
businesses in the United States and other countries. The correspondence will
inform the recipient that a reputable foreign company or individual is needed
for the deposit of an overpayment on a procurement contract. The letter or email
will claim that the government overpaid anywhere from $10 to $60 million on
these contracts. The latest modified scam involves lotteries.
There is the
perception that no one would enter such an obviously suspicious relationship;
however, many victims have been enticed into believing they can share in such
are asked to provide funds to cover various fees and for personal identifiers
such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and other similar data.
Once this information is received, the victims find that they have lost large
sums of money. It is hard to pinpoint how much has been lost in these scams
since many victims do not report their losses to authorities due to fear or
do if you receive a Scam/ 419 email or letter
Please refrain from responding to
these type of e-mails. Kindly forward all 419 scam e-mails/correspondence
directly to firstname.lastname@example.org
(Commercial Branch, South African Police Service). Please mention whether or
not you have incurred any financial loss.
In response to this growing epidemic,
the U.S. Secret Service established "Operation 4-1-9" to target Advance Fee
Fraud on an international basis. Indications are that losses attributed to
Advance Fee Fraud are in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. You
can forward the email with its Internet header at
email@example.com or send
it by fax at (202) 406-5031
If you receive such a scam by mail,
do not respond. Either throw it away or send it to:
Postal Service Inspection Service Operations Support Group
Two Gateway Center, 9th Floor
Newark, NJ 07175-0001
have lost money to the fraud should call their local
US Secret Service.
Maybe now the personal assistant for the Oil Minister of
Nigeria will stop trying to put 50 million dollars into my personal bank
March 4, 2006
I have had many a drunken night where “great ideas” flood
through my cranium like the waters of Katrina. I have written in past entries
about the 2am bar napkin flow charts of the next great whatchamacallit. I have
tried my hand at an expensively designed leather bound wine journal, a
mechanically superior corkscrew, a wine book, a wine show, you know the typical
good ideas after three bottles of red. Today I tip my hat to Australian
composer Tony King. Yes, Mr. King has recently released his latest creation, an
album entitled The Wine Music, music composed of everything wine related,
glasses of wine filled to different levels, wine barrels, and the obligatory
popping cork. BRILLIANT!!!!
Check out the melodious tunes of Tony King at the link
below. I wonder if he was partaking in a bit of the offerings from Shinas
Estates when he came up with this idea? I will have to ask George.
Inspired by Wine Music, I will be coming out with my own
CD, sounds of Wino Bob falling down drunk. It will be melodic sounds of me
crashing down stairs, falling out of bed, collapsing on tables and knocking over
lamps, wine bottles and glasses throughout my house and restaurants. Look for
it to hit the shelves this June on Off Hour Rockers label.
March 2, 2006
I had to take a quick trip down to the Atlanta area for a
budget meeting/beat-up-sales-for-more-blood-from-a-rock session. It happened to
be Fat Tuesday when we had our kick-off dinner. The host of the meeting
selected a place called Fire of Brazil. If you have never been to a
Brazilian-style restaurant, it is worth the trip. Two rules: First, if
you are a veggie-loving tree hugger, stay away, and second, please turn your
card to red before you
vomit or your stomach bursts at the table. The basic process is to gorge
yourself with as much of the meat offerings brought to your place setting and
carved in front of your drooling chin. They do everything from chicken wrapped
in bacon to lamb to pork loin to beef in every body part except the testis and
the tongue. Family style dishes of fried plantain, rice and beans are placed on
the table but it is the heart-stopping, blood-thickening meat offerings that you
should partake in. Leave the wilted salad for the women and hunt down a bottle
of red to wash the slab-o-meat de skewer that one of the 18 servers are putting
in front of your fat, bloated belly. Hint to those newbies: pass on the salad
bar, hold off on the first four meat offering as they try to burn you out before
the filet mignon, prime rib and lamb chops. Vegan’s, move over, this is Atkins
at its best.
And now, for the next 40 days, I
will be cleansing my mind and body and atoning for my hedonistic behavior the
other and 325 days of the year. As always, I have given up wine for the
ultimate sacrifice in my near Christ-like behavior. OK, so he held out for
forty days and I made it forty minutes, but it is that grueling 40 minutes that
has made me a better person. I now understand true sacrifice and the sobering
thoughts that the lack of wine can deliver. Unfortunately, my life sucks so bad
that I don’t think I can stand more than 40 minutes of sobriety at a time.
2003 Hess Select
$ (13.99- 40.00 in
This blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon,
12% Syrah, 3% Merlot and 3% Petite Sirah hands you the black fruit in a small
salad bowl but tops it with wood shavings too powerful for the berries.
February 25, 2006
Just a brief acknowledgement of the passing of Don Knotts,
that lovable, bumbling deputy sheriff of the sleepy town of Mayberry, North
Carolina. A man seemingly scared of his own shadow, I chuckle at the Andy
Griffith show even to this day. I chuckle at the fact that Barney Fife was so
naive, he could not recognize that Floyd was a pedophile and that Goober was so
stupid, his name became part of the American lexicon for slow-witted, backwoods
yahoos. Actually, a 'yahoo' today is far different from a yahoo when I was a kid
as Al Gore had not yet invented the internet. One of my favorite episodes was
when Barney came to work unexpectedly one Sunday morning to find Aunt Bea
dressed in a leather dominatrix outfit, riding Otis around cell number one after
a night of vodka enemas and hash brownies. Or was that a video I rented at
the local adult shop? Damn, sometimes these things just run together.
Anyway, I just wanted to say, "Good Night, Funnyman.
I loved you as Barney, but respected your acting talents for your roles as Henry
Limpet, the socially awkward man who wanted to have a better life by becoming a
fish and as Ralph Furley, the metro-sexual landlord in Three’s Company."
"Ang, can I but my bullet in my gun?"
“Life would be so much better if I were a fish”
“No, Chrissy, I was hoping Jack would bring the rent down dressed like that."
February 23, 2006
As I speed towards that day of reckoning, I realize that
from time to time, I need to curry favor with the Big Guy. No, not Wino
John, I mean the real Big Guy. This lead me to the dutiful son
routine of yesterday. My dad has been dealing with a health issue over the past
year and yesterday they decided it should be resolved with surgery. I
volunteered to drive him to the hospital, which is an hour and a half from his
house, that is an hour and a half from mine. This extensive trip should garner
more than a few 'get out of hell passes', I figure. As with most procedures,
nothing ever runs according to plan and the outpatient surgery became a bit more
complex and far more time consuming then the doctor thought. As evening passed
into night, they could not release him as the surgery affected his throat and
mouth area and they were concerned about swelling that might impede his air
passages. No problem, so I chauffeured my mom back to their house and I figured
I’d crash there rather than head home, only to turn around in a few hours and
head back to pick him up this morning.
Sleeping anywhere but in the leather chair next to my
computer, with an empty glass of wine balanced in my hand like a circus juggler,
is not comfortable for me, so I figured I would have a few glasses of red to
ease me into sleeping in a place other than mine. I settled into the spare
room, turned on the tube and headed to his liquor cabinet to see what he had
hidden away for a cold winter’s night. I was unhappy to discover that he, not
thinking he would be in the hospital over night, had the key to the liquor
cabinet an hour and a half away, in his trouser pocket, in room 675 of the
hospital. God Damn it, Cartman! What the hell am I going to do? In my
best McGiever imitation, I artfully attempted to pick the lock with a paper
clip, bobby pin, tooth pick and the rattling and shaking of said lock. No luck
on any attempt, so I thought I would wander across the street to Mr. Homemade
Wine Guy, but seeing how it was past 11pm, I figured he wouldn’t appreciate the
company. There was only one thing to do. “Hello nurse, can you please put
me through to room 675? I just have a quick question for the patient in
bed two. No, he should be recovered from the anesthesia by now. No
really, just hold the phone up to his ear so I can ask him a quick question.”
I still don’t understand why my mother got so upset.
It wasn’t like he was sleeping yet. He had just come out of a 4 hour
operation! Thankfully, she had a spare key and there was one bottle of homemade
wine from the neighbor stashed on the bottom shelf. There was no label, there
was no writing, just a bottle of red that tasted great with enough oak and
tannins to build a small home. Thank you, Mr. Homemade Wine Guy.
And to my dad, I just wanted to wish him a speedy recovery
and next time I come down to do a good deed, please leave the key on the hook in
the garage and tell Mr. HWG to restock the bottom shelf.
(Editor's Note: You're in our thoughts and prayers, Ray.)
February 18, 2006
It took hours of digging to tunnel under the Bravo team and
locate an entry point half a click southwest of the heavily-wooded,
moat-protected, canine-enforced, and barbed wire-encamped home. This place is
so secretive that even Google earth misdirects you when you place the GPS
coordinates into the system. I know WJ works in the tech-geek world, but how
can he redirect the Google earth program? That is a lot of code-breaking,
my friend. As you might imagine, the party was well underway by the time I breached
the IR sensors near the back porch. Those that were allowed to drive in, say
the secret password to security, and have their cars searched, only needed 45
minutes to make it from the main road turn-off to the living room. I did not
mind the dog bites, but the cavity search was a bit more than the Wino Bob bung
was prepared to endure. I was hoping to have a volume of pictures for the
posting, but the head of security smashed my camera with the butt of his assault
It turned out that everyone named Bob that drinks red wine
was there in addition to Wino John. The four of us dutifully placed our cab
offerings on the island in the cavernous kitchen, smiled proudly like the hyena
that just felled a water buffalo, and realized we hadn’t planned anything for
dinner to accompany the 11, yes not 10, (our is one louder) bottles of the
juice. Fortunately, the Other Bob (not me Wino Bob, or Big Bob), but the Other
Bob ran to his car and saved the night with slabs of beef just shy of a
Flintstone sized serving. Being a boy scout in his past life, he also unpacked
a bag of charcoal, a charcoal firebox, matches, twigs, dried pine needles and a
spool of twine. As you might imagine, eating was the necessary evil to slow the
absorption of alcohol. I would have been OK with a Roman style-drinking binge,
where we drink ourselves silly, void Roman-style, then take up the drinking
As this was Cab Fest II and not a Cabernet tasting,
the just shy of four bottles per person consumption ratio made it very difficult for me
to accurately describe the nuances of each wine, especially by 11pm when WJ
brought out the fruit bomb. So to be fair, and not to merely toss flowery
general descriptions about like some wine writers on the internet, I will make a
simple list of the bottles we buried with the minimal impression that has lasted
through the fog of a nasty hangover and the drum-beat pounding of the coinciding
headache. We did have the expertise of Big Bob to plot out the drinkability
continuum as to not overpower one cab by incorrectly consuming a deeper richer
wine before a lesser quality product. Based on the wine drinker’s license
granted to BB by the State of NJ, the list went as follows.
1999 Chateau St Jean Cabernet Sauvignon - left over
spillage from WJ’s prior night’s consumption, still showing nice fruit and a
buzz of tannins
2003 Big Ass Cab - this novelty offering was
appropriate named for the evening and is a fun, easy drinking wine for under
$15.00 retail. It will not make the top of any magazine list, but I recommend it
for the affordable and good flavor category.
1994 Henry Lagarde Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - the
first of the foreign Cab offering from Mendoza, this one had made the turn and
was losing its fruit.
2001 Sadler-Wells Cabernet Sauvignon - a boutique
Cab from Sonoma that has a great earthy nose and solid fruit structure, though
at $44.00 it is not an everyday drinker for me.
1996 Signorello Estate - a prize from the Other
Bob’s secret collection, this had a spicy herbaceous nose that danced with clove
1995 Mount Veeder Reserve - one of the meritage of
the group, and yes, this word will appear in the next release of Webster’s
dictionary, the wine crowd wins a lobbying victory. Deep, rich black
fruit-driven wine that seemed to be peaking.
1995 Peter Michael Les Pavots - the second
meritage of the night displaying the volcanic
soil flavors and classy dark fruits.
1987 BV Rutherford - pick-pocketed from the WJ treasure trove hidden deep beneath the frost line, this
soldier did not survive the journey, showing the wounds of heat or chemical
1983 Grand Vin de Chateau
Latour - the crown jewel of the evening, WJ tossed aside his acerbic tongue
towards frogland and offered up a wine that had the power and grace of Bordeaux
as the treat of the night. This, winos and winettes, is why one must understand
France before understanding the new world wines.
1998 Chateau Los Boldos Grand
Cru - a blend of Cabernet and Merlot (we let Big Bob sneak this one in)
representing the quality that Chile has to offer to the wine world. Refined,
intense fruit and currant with and oak finish
Cabernet Sauvignon San Luis Obispo - a red
fruit bomb in its wheelhouse of maturity, but honestly, at this point in the
night I think I might have poured some pan drippings into my glass from the
The last two wines were post Big
Bob’s exit so they did not fit into his categorization sequence. The last thing
I remember was sliding from a sitting to slumping position on the train sized
couch in the Wino John palatial television room, watching Letterman and being
laughed at by WJ and the Other Bob from my mumble-to-snoring-to-mumbling
stupor/coma. At that point, my muscles were no longer being controlled by my
brain, and I stayed there until the break of sun light and the chirping of
morning birds roused me. Like Otis from the Andy Griffith Show, I found the
keys to the cell, unlocked the jail door and headed out into the brisk morning
Cab Fest II was more aptly a
drink-a-thon and my twig frame has me tapping out much earlier than the
competition. Big Bob is so named that the amount he inhaled did not even alter
his speak pattern, unlike me who was starting and ending words with “sh’ sounds
that do not belong. I tried sitting down yesterday to write this up for my
posting, but the clicking of the keys was more than my pea brain could handle.
It looks like the bar is set for Cab Fest III and I will have to hold up my
share for we can break that elusive four bottles per person mark set by Team
On a side note, the Wino John
wine collection is quite extensive with meticulously labeled bottles and neatly
categorized wine by region of the world. I tried to sleep in the wine cellar,
but I could not focus on which of the two key holes I should put the key in to
unlock the magic door. A big thanks to the host of Cab Fest II for allowing me
to sneak in and crash on the couch. And a salute to OB-the Grill Master for the
evening. Except for the pain I was in the next day, the journey was
February 16, 2006
I have never seen 21 inches disappear so quickly, except
maybe during that donkey show in Tijuana. This massive snow dump is just about
gone, as the 50-degree temperatures have melted just about all the snow on the
lawn. Hey, does anyone know where the commercial shipping terminal at Philly’s
seaport is? It seems that Justice Shinas let slip last night in our
conversation that any day now, a reefer will arrive with the newest addition to
the Shinas Estates offerings. Without spilling the beans, this white wine has
been receiving great reviews from his buddies in Australia. I was hoping to go
covert, slip into the port, and pick up a few bottles. I was not familiar with
the 'reefer' term in shipping, though I do own a copy of the movie Reefer
Madness. That has nothing to do with refrigerated container shipping, but
worth a laugh. Since curiosity is my middle name, I did a bit of investigation
and found out that not only is this reefer thing relatively new, only the past
few decades, but there actually is a Godfather of the Reefer. Jumping Lizards,
does there need to be a Godfather of the Reefer? Now a God Father of Soul is
necessary and James Brown will always spunk the funk, but little did I know
until tonight that there is an official Godfather of the shipping container. I
am not the best Catholic but I think that means he is one-step below the Patron
Saint of refrigerated shipping containers for wine. So I offer to my readers,
some of whom might have been as uneducated on this as me, Saint Kermit. Yes,
Kermit Lynch has been canonized for his understanding the deleterious effect of
the long ocean journey to the US on the fragile freight of wine.
There is a reefer, loaded with a new white wine offering
from Shinas Estates due to land in Philly and I must get there to greet it and
welcome it to the shores of the New World. A few weeks later, the 2004 Guilty
is to follow and land at the same said port. So please email me the directions
and meet me at the pier for the party of the year.
Another covert assignment is tagging Big Bob’s car with a
GPS that I can track, as I understand CabFest II is taking place this
weekend at the well-hidden, sprawling estate of Wino John. BB has accepted the
invite and will roll up early for the event. I am relegated to discovering
said location and stealthily passing the private security detail. If I get in,
I will be posting pictures of the deeply stocked wine cellar in this well
concealed fiefdom. (Editor's note: BigBob, ixnay on
February 13, 2006
Well, when Sam Champion promises me a night full of 10-12
inches, and you find out he really delivers 20.5 inches, my Goodness, that is a
man, a real weatherman. With a Saturday evening snow fall, there was little
else to do, but hunker down, light up the old fireplace and uncork a bottle of
red. The prediction for north Jersey was about 10-12 inches of pure white
powder, but Sunday morning greeted my snow blower with a whopping 20.5 inches
blanketing anything and everything in the neighborhood. The fireplace, though
originally built to burn kettle coal, has just enough draft, added by my
persistent poking and prodding, to char the split oak I have seasoned for two
years. My old home, the first one I lived in, had a fire place that was so well
designed I could burn anything and it threw heat to the front two rooms so long
throughout the night that the thermostat wouldn’t kick on until the next day.
It was fantastic for the front two rooms of the house. Unfortunately, the
bedrooms were all in the back and would be bone chillingly cold in the morning.
I knew I had to get out of bed, when my snoring was interrupted by the ice dam
in my nasal passages. This fire place, though located in the same room as the
thermostat, is so non-heat producing that my burner cycles the same whether I
have a roaring fire or not. The real benefit I get is dunnage reduction at
Christmas when I spend the late morning burning all the wrapping paper and boxes
from the Jolly Ole Fat Man.
The snow blowing and shoveling has me cognizant of muscle
groups that Grey’s Anatomy does not define in the human species. Here is hoping
you are dug out by now, or at least can see the street. Global warming lives in
2003 Fairview Goat Roti
I like these people because they tweak the proverbial noses of the
Rhôneys. This South African wine fills your bowl with blueberry and blackberry
and plum flavors with a hint of tobacco and chocolate on the nose. I suggest
you let this one rest for a bit, as it has plenty of tannins to preserve its
February 11, 2006
To those of you who have noticed the lack of posting on my
part this past week, it was due to the fact I was at the annual Geek journey to
Mecca. Yes, once a year, like lemmings off the cliff, the pocket-protected,
nerd-glasses wearing crowd journeys to a place out west, warmer and sunnier than
the winter torn east, for a week of technical seminars on subjects that make
your hair hurt just trying to understand the titles of the papers being
presented. As a function, the nerd herd looks for practical ways of
implementing said theories and techniques into their everyday responsibilities.
I participate in the promotion of equipment, and materials to said eggheads in
an effort to design in the new processes. Sometimes it is a very unrewarding
process. Fortunately, there are some good people who have cracked the eggshell
and make the process fun and rewarding by solving an issue that helps make
things work more efficiently. (Editor's note: WinoBob
first met this egg-head, pocket-protected, dweeb editor at one of these tech
Being in California for this show allows the plane ride out
to be filled with dreams of bathing in bold red wines at dinners in opulent LA
restaurants. Unfortunately, reality never collides with the hopes and dreams of
a wino. Most of the time it is a house glass of cabernet sauvignon at a
non-descript chain eatery. Five nights on the left coast yielded one evening at
a decent restaurant and a bottle of red beyond BV coastal cabernet sauvignon
which seems to be a favorite of a few of the places I stopped in. Needing to
locate a nice dining experience for a group that we were doing a project with,
the convention center offered a kiosk with reservation services. The place
suggested was far enough away from the normal haunts that we would not be elbow
to elbow with hat wearing, secret handshaking conventioneers and we would not
have to talk business in code. Too many times, I have been in situations where
half way through the discussion at dinner, I got up to use the men’s room only
to see a competitor sitting two tables away with a glass to his ear trying to
hear every last detail of the conversation.
We headed to Newport, to a small restaurant on the water
called the Rusty Pelican, not to be confused in any way with the Rusty
Trombone in West Hollywood. I noticed it was a bit noisy when we headed to the
bar, as they had to soak us for a few drinks before seating us. We were quickly
into the spirit and the level of our conversation soon elevated to match the
surroundings and the laughs were rolling in like the waves in the harbor. The
concierge service must rate, as the table they did seat us at was one of a few
window select. The food was great and for me, it was the pan seared ahi tuna
rare, woo hoo! The wine list was limited and though I was asked to select, I
was told I was not paying. The consensus was red so I found a conveniently
priced Alexander Valley Cab. The group all muttered what a nice wine, though I
appreciated it, I felt they did it out of obligation or expectation rather than
truth. The one thing I noticed was that the second bottle had a small funk
dusting the finish not found on the first bottle, but the wine was not corked.
As it was the second bottle and we had run through some cocktails, no one paid
much attention and the wine went down just as quickly. That dinner was the
bright spot in an otherwise Coors Light soaked week.
2002 Roth Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma
County $$ (39.99
restaurant price was 54.00)
I will address the first bottle as it showed black cherry, plum and
cassis and finished with spice and tobacco aromas. The wine is a blend of 75%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc.
February 5, 2006
Well, Super Bowl Sunday is finally here, and I do not have
a dog in the race, as they say. I am not quite sure who “they” are, but I do
know they say that when they do not have a candidate in a political race or a
person they are backing they are commenting on. Google the term “dog in the
race” and I bet it comes up with every cable news channel for the past five
years. I guess everyone likes a catch phrase, so I have taken one I have heard
for the last many years and plugged it in as I saw fit. I do not think my
phrase, “serve it up with a side of kapusta” has the same ring, but I am trying
to get Chris Mathews to use it on Hard Ball.
It is about 5 pm and I am two bottles down, little did I
know the pre game show was not one hour prior to kick off, I think it actually
started last night at midnight and is still an hour and a half from the coin
toss. Does having your coin tossed mean anything in prison? I once heard the
term licking the dirty penny, but was not sure if it was heads or tails or if it
made a difference.
As far as who wins, it does not matter to me, but I will
make the following predictions:
The coin lands heads
The first touchdown is via a pass
The halftime show exposes Mick Jagger’s nipple
There will be three commercials I do not understand
until tomorrow when they are explained by the media
The score will be a run-away by the third quarter
and we all will turn over to watch whatever is on channel 2.
Ben Roethlesburger is the MVP.
Enjoy the game and I hope your team wins.
Chateau d'Oupia Minervois
A blend from a less known part of the Rhone, made from Grenache,
Syrah, Carignan. You can expect an array of blackberry and
olive flavors with mocha and espresso notes. Not bad for an inexpensive wine.
February 5, 2006
Want to buy some switchgrass? I never knew my
backyard was a source of energy. It is because of my lack of energy to mow the
lawn that I may now be phat in alternative fuel. Last night, one of the cable
channels ran a commercial I laughed at the first time I heard it, it referred to
those of us who are optically challenged as Prespyopians. And yes, I am a
prespyopian as well as a dipsomaniac. Being a dipsomaniac has freed me from my
methyphobia, thank God. I know this is all a surprise because phobias and
manias are usually followed by long stints with a psychologist. Me, I cured
myself of my methyphobia by becoming a dipsomaniac. It did not take me long,
just a few sessions at UnBacchus and the friendly nature and service of the one
behind the bar.
Often, I sit and listen to a show and hear about
an ailment and think I have it, so I grab my Grey’s Anatomy Home Edition to self
determine if I have all the symptoms. I can say with 100% certainty that I am a
dipsomaniac, which ensures I do not suffer from methyphobia.
Did you know that there is a cloud of alcohol
in outer space with enough alcohol to make four trillion-trillion drinks. It's
free for the taking. . . but it's 10,000 light years away from Earth. God that
Discovery Channel is well worth every penny I pay for it. In an unrelated
issue, I also found out that Wino John, the King Kong of China, may have not
eaten dog during his last trip, but he probably imbibed dog. There is one brand
of Chinese beer which reportedly includes in its recipe "ground-up dog parts”.
I am researching the name, but I am confident it is the beer WJ had during his
last business trip.
2004 BODEGAS OLIVARES ALTOS DE LA HOYA
MONASTRELL $ (9.99)
92% Monastrell / 8% Garnacha
throwing off flavors of blackcurrant,
chocolate, black licorice and sweet blackberry. Plenty of depth, ripe
tannin, with a nice ending.
* Methyphobia is fear of alcohol and Dipsomania
refers to an abnormal or insatiable craving for alcohol.
February 3, 2006
I, from time to time, wear my
ethnic upbringings and family traditions on my shirtsleeve (Note to self:
Take ethnic shirt to cleaners). My family taught me the significance of
Ballantine Beer in our history and though my father was a cheap scotch drinker,
vodka must have at one time careened through my bloodstream. Unfortunately, to
date I have not been able to locate a relative in the old country that runs a
vodka plant or makes moonshine, though during a recent search on vodka, I did
find a brand very closely located to my mother’s roots and the brand name is
very close to her maiden name. I immediately dispatched her to find anyone in
that town and see if we have familial rites. Vodka, in my mind was a
potato-based distilled spirit. You know us poor Poles farmed potatoes, one
for the pot and one for the still.
In 1546, King Jan Olbrecht issued
a decree allowing every citizen the right to make Vodka in Poland. As a
result, many families distilled their own spirit, and as early as the sixteenth
century, there were forty-nine commercial distilleries in the town of Poznan
alone. Vodka making and drinking
became established at all levels of society in Poland over the next few
centuries. Poznan continues to be a major center for the production of Vodka
The art of making vodka in
Poland really hit its high at the end of the 19th century. The most famous Vodka
at the time was
Baczewska, distilled by the Baczewski family in Lvov. Between
the World Wars, excellent Vodkas were distilled by
Jakub Haberfeld of
Oswiecim (Auschwitz) and Zygfryd Gessler of
Bielsko Biala. In the unfortunate years of the
People’s Republic of Poland, the honor of Polish vodka was held high
Wyborowa. Wyborowa is a vodka with a long tradition and a registered
trademark since 1927, one year prior to the trade marking of Smirnoff. The brand
was famous enough to warrant setting up a distillery in Mexico.
Unfortunately, the state-led Polmos monopoly led to a degradation of quality and
its disappearance from many foreign markets. The FDA at one point questioned
Bison Vodka due to the stem of grass inserted into each bottle to give it its
The Chopin and Belvedere
brands enjoyed spectacular success in the past years. The management of the
Phillips Beverage Company (owner and exclusive distributor of the Chopin
brand) decided that if wines, cognacs and whiskies have a premium segment,
so should vodkas. They introduced the Chopin brand and priced it in the premium
range. From 1995, they spent $60 million on marketing. This gamble paid
off, (2002) they sold 4 million bottles of Belvedere and 500,000 bottles of
Chopin in the USA alone.
Pernod Ricard (owner of the
Wyborowa brand) and the Phillips Beverage Company are gearing
up for new marketing campaigns. This is caused by the intensifying competition
in the premium segment. The major competitor of Belvedere and Chopin is the
French Grey Goose. Right now, the two Polish brands dominate the
premium market in the US; they currently hold 40% of it.
Pernod Ricard is intensifying its campaign to promote
Wyborowa; it is currently ranked number six by sales volume behind
brands such as Stolichnaya, Smirnoff or
Finlandia. It is currently the fastest growing brand so this ranking
may soon change.
Vodka was originally known as
"the water (voda) of life" from the similar word for water in both Russian and
Polish, the countries from where the drink originated. Under European Commission
regulations it must be made from alcohol of agricultural origin.
The most popular vodka is from
grains, like rye, wheat and corn. Other options include using potatoes, beets or
molasses. Being the jingoist that I am, I propose we look more deeply into
President Bush’s recent alternative fuel for not only driving our automobiles,
but also driving our stills. I say we look into the switchgrass solution, if it
can make ethanol, I am four square behind it. Besides, look at it, it might
even do well in an easy wider.
Switchgrass, also known as Tall
By the way, the word for wine
in Polish is wino pronounced veeno and I cop to both. I do look up Polish
phrases since I am unable to speak the language and in my Polish For
Travelers book, this phase was in the dining section, “nie chce wina
francuskiego”. Let me translate, yes even the farmers from the war-torn section
of Bobspoorrelativski are quick to say- "I don’t want French wine!"
Który jest zdumienie napoju
dla istnienia przyciskanego (zablokowany) ziemniak w waszym ośle, na zdrowie.
February 2, 2006
Today is the most important day during this winter season,
when a sleepy groundhog wipes the groundhog crust from his little groundhog
eyes, just after a fat, drunk town mayor sticks his ice cold hand into the warm
toasty den of this rodent and pulls him out into the cold break of day. That
prognosticator of petulant weather yawned, peed and as usual, saw his shadow
meaning 6 more weeks of winter. I guess if we were really into global warming,
that would have been far different, so is Punxsutawney Phil a weatherman the
likes of Sam Champion, or an environmentalist, the likes of Woody Harrelson?
Groundhog Day came into being in North America during the
late 1800s thanks to the combined effort of Clymer H. Freas, a newspaper editor,
and W. Smith, an American Congressman and newspaper publisher. They organized
and popularized a yearly festival in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. German
settlers populated the State predominantly. The festival featured a groundhog
named Punxsutawney Phil that used to foretell how long the winter would last.
The said rodent comes out of his hole after winter hibernation to look for its
shadow. If the shadow is seen, it's a sunny day; the groundhog foretells
'six more weeks of bad weather and thus a lingering winter. However, spring is
coming if no shadow is seen because of clouds. The groundhog then behaves
accordingly. It goes back into the hole if the weather turns bad, but stays
above ground if spring is near.
I would like to offer a bit more info about Punxsutawney
and another great use for him. Groundhog stew recipe brought to you by the wild
game cookers at:
WOODCHUCK (GROUNDHOG) STEW
2 onions, sliced
1/2 cup celery, sliced
Vinegar and water
Salt and pepper
Clean woodchuck; remove glands;
cut into serving pieces. Soak overnight in a solution of equal parts of
water and vinegar with addition of one sliced onion and a little salt.
Drain, wash, and wipe. Parboil 20 minutes, drain, and cover with fresh
boiling water. Add one sliced onion, celery, a few cloves, and salt and
pepper to taste. Cook until tender; thicken gravy with flour.
WOODCHUCK (GROUNDHOG) PIE
1 woodchuck, skinned and cleaned
1/4 cup onion
1/4 cup green pepper
1/2 tbsp minced parsley
1 tbsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
4 1/2 tbsp. flour
3 cups broth
1 cup flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. fat
1/4 cup milk
Cut woodchuck into 2 or 3 pieces.
Parboil for 1 hour. Remove meat from bones in large pieces. Add onion, green
pepper, parsley, salt, pepper, and flour to the broth and stir until it
thickens. If the broth does not measure 3 cups, add water. Add the meat to
the broth mixture and stir thoroughly. Pour into baking dish.
For biscuits: sift flour, baking
powder, and salt together. Cut in the fat and add the liquid. Stir until the
dry ingredients are moist. Roll only enough to make it fit the dish. Place
dough on top of meat, put in a hot oven (400 degrees F.) and bake 30 to 40
minutes or until dough is browned. Serves 6-8.
My recommendation is a hardy Zinfandel for this gamey meat,
the spice and robust fruit flavored wine will go well with Punxsutawney Phil and
the fact that the alcohol content is around 15%, it held you forget you are
eating the legendary weather predictor. I suggest a 2001 Rosenblum "Monte Rosso
Vineyard" (Sonoma Valley). Boner petite.
January 30, 2006
Well, I might be rethinking this free-balling stance to
protest the clothing tax. Yesterday, I began my outward action to bring
attention to the budget proposal from Mr. Corzine. Unfortunately, I decided to
wear a new pair of Kirkland jeans (yes, the Costco brand for those of us who
cannot afford Levis). The chaffing has the boys quite irritated and rather
uncooperative. I am hoping to build up the necessary calluses to continue. I
am sure Gandhi’s diaper caused him rashing and redness, but we who truly believe
in a cause will not be deterred.
In a deluge of emails, many of my well wishers were quick
to let me know that Kevin Zraly, my mentor, has taken a position with Mr.
Parker. I took all the news personally as you proceeded to rub salt on my
peter. I did have a lengthy conversation with Mr. Zraly, he expressed the
extensive financial package Mr. Parker has offered, but did tell me as a sign of
friendship, he too will be joining in the 'free-balling for tax-free clothing'
campaign. So next time you are at an event Mr. Zraly is hosting, give him the
nod and wink and tell him how much we appreciate his support, or lack there of,
for stopping the NJ budget deal.
In a home chemistry experiment, I have decided to place
wine in a cup and soak the chaffed boys for one hour to see if wine is good for
healing chaffed free-ballers. Last night, I started with a south African
sauvignon blanc. I have watched all ten episodes of Tribal Life (the series)
and figure those guys know what they are doing. They climb abrasive trees with
a simple gourd and twine banana hammock. Talk bout road rash, Jesus.
On an unrelated note, I wanted to extend a Happy Birthday
wish to Wino Ray, reader and relative from Arizona, a child of the sixties.
I am sure he has free balled in protest many-a-time.
2001 Rustenberg "Brampton" Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc
A mellow style shows hints of citrus and acidity but nothing to pucker
over. A light-weight approach to a stringing grape.
January 29, 2006
I officially declare this dank, small, dimly lit third
floor room’s official cessation from New Jersey. With little more than two
weeks under his expanding belt, the newly installed Governor of this fine state
has proposed to tax your underwear, or frilly panties which ever the case may
be. As word dribbles out about the budget that this pro-business, Wall Street
wunderkind has hastily typed up on his hand held PDA, it looks like your BVDs
and your 401Ks are in line for the proverbial nut squeezing. The oft sign of
New York licenses plates at Short Hills mall will soon be a sight in the rear
view mirror as the now exempt clothing is in for a rude awakening. NY has
oppressively taxed their constituents a whopping 8.25 per cent sales tax which
has boomed the mall traffic on the weekends as average New Yorkers drive into
Jersey to purchase their Victoria Secret garters and fishnets, as a man needs to
be comfortable under his Brooks Brothers suit in court. Now, if the budget
passes, not only will said high powered NY lawyers not be coming to Jersey to
buy their frilly undergarments, us Jerseyans will be strangled with a 7%
clothing tax. Somehow I do not recall any mention of this in the debates or
speeches given by Mr. Corzine during the run up to the election. If pillow talk
is ever appropriate, maybe the union leader who caused all the interest-free
loan scandal could tell Mr. Corzine if he ever expects to see her black thong
and 7 inch spiked heels again while leading him around his lavish Hoboken
apartment on a dog leash, keep the tax off the sexy outfits or consider a blue
Pile on top, a proposal to tax out tax-deferred pittance of
a nest egg and one is left to wonder why anyone would want to continue living
here. As a self-employed small potato, I struggle to set up a very meager nest
egg, about the size Hershy spits out for filling Easter baskets. Push forward
25 years when I am peeing myself, dribbling oatmeal from my lower lip and
forgetting where I hid my own Easter eggs, and I will not be able to afford the
nurse necessary to yell at me and punch me in the rib every time I pee myself.
Please people, do not go down without a fight. It's bad enough that those
wealthy folks who own several vacation homes are not getting the tax break on
other mortgages. If the wealthy pull out because of taxes on their golden
parachutes, I might become the most wealthy person left in the state. That, my
friends, is a comment you never want to consider seeing how I would not even be
the wealthiest person in Katrina-struck portions of New Orleans. If the wealthy
go, so goes the state.
As of this day forward, in protest of the clothing tax, I,
Wino Bob, do solemnly swear to NOT wear underwear, frilly or not, from this day
forward, or until the clothing tax goes down in flames. That my wino friends,
is directly imparted by the power vested in me by The State of Intoxication. (Editor's
note: No boxers, No Jockeys. The
only thing between him and us is a thin layer of Gaberdeen! Ugghhh...)
January 28, 2006
I don’t travel much, but on the few occasions when I do fly
somewhere, I have the good fortune of being able to use the Continental Lounge.
There are many frequent flyers and corporate movers and shakers on the phone
making deals or speaking way too lovingly for them to be calling home to the
wife. But today I encountered something for the first time. A woman made a
call on her cell phone and spoke so loudly, I heard the conversation in the next
room. Her subsequent two phone calls were at moderate to low in volume so I do
not know what they were about, but I do know that the producer for her segment
is being a total jerk. Which made me wonder, how far on the fringes of the
entertainment business must one be to boom out loudly, words or phrases to let
others know you are somebody, doing something in the “industry”? I always see
those pictures of stars in large hats pulled down low or hair tucked up to keep
a low profile. Today, this woman, whom I did not recognize was shouting for
attention to the fact that she is doing something for television. Maybe I
should creep over there and ask for an autograph just in case she is somebody.
I am so out of it, I couldn’t recognize Brittany Spears from Broccoli Spears. I
guess I should read a few pop culture magazines so I can get my stars
straightened out. I saw several others glancing in her direction trying to
figure out if she is somebody. She did give me an idea that maybe I should be
wailing the Wino Bob phone conversations in public so I can get those same
Landing late and not wanting to go far from the hotel, I
left the rented PT Cruiser Limited Edition in the lot of the Hampton Inn and
strolled across the road to the strip mall. There were several restaurants to
choose from, but the Wild Wings Café held the least appeal. I settled on the
Trattoria Monaco, as it was not crowded, had a welcoming look about it and the
aroma wafting out of the door was enticing. It turned out to be a great choice
as the lamb chops were larger than most at a very reasonable price. The mussels
in curry butter broth tied a spicy, sweetness to the mussels that I have never
had before and the wine by the glass serving size agreed with my wine by the
glass drinking desire.
The highlight of the trip came during my breakfast meeting,
when my associate suggested we meet at PJ’s for coffee. PJ’s? What is
this, some Starbuck clone in Alpharetta trying to make hip coffee and streamed
milk drinks with overstuffed chairs and wi-fi? Well, kinda, but as I rolled up
in my PT Cruiser Limited Edition rental car, the sign hit me and a smile
branched across my face. This was no ordinary Starbucks wannabe, this Winos and
Winettes, is heaven on earth. This is what I have searched for all my drinking
life. This could actually be my next business venture. This is not just a
Ralph Kramden scheme; this is a brilliant, no... uber-brillant
blending of market research. Folks, I offer the next great franchise
opportunity for the twenty something crowd. (Wino John, see if Wino Wally
has $100,000 in his loose change pocket and we can corner the NJ market with
PJ’s Coffee and Wine Bar franchises.) It would be an instant success in
Montclair, and Stone Harbor, and Lambertville.
I have been thinking about this place all night.
Jesus, would I go there at night for some wine and just stay until daybreak for
coffee, or would I go there at 7am for coffee and stay there until it was legal
to start drinking wine? Then, would I drink wine to dampen my coffee buzz, or
would I drink coffee to wake me up enough to drive home? But why should I
drive home? I could just have some coffee there until I was sober enough
to start drinking again. Now if we can just get them to add dancing girls, game
over! As it was a breakfast meeting, and not legal in Georgia to sell wine
before 7:30 AM, I did not get to enjoy their offerings or view their wine list,
but the dark roast Espresso Dolce was great.
2002 Alexander Valley Vineyards Syrah
Jammy and ripe with chocolate, mint and dark fruits are all over this
one, a nice compliment to the lamb chops.
January 25, 2006
Hey, why do they always promote wine and
cheese? I do like cheese and I do have a tendency to put some out when people
are coming over. I do it mainly as I was told that cheese closes off the
stomach and makes you feel fuller faster. Being a cheap bastard, I figure the
more cheese I could load guests up with, the less real food they will be
eating. Now, through the magic of science, or the science of magic, those real
wine people at the University of California - Davis, took said curdled milk and
forced expert wine tasters to rate four cheap and four expensive wines. The
good news for cheap bastards like me, is that cheese stomps on all but the
buttery aromas. Therefore, unless you have a stocked white Burgundy cellar like
Wino John’s Latour du Jour, you can further save money by serving cheap wine.
Any of the berry and oak flavors along with sourness and astringency could not
be detected by the most expertest of experts.
The next time you are at a friend's house and
make them open the expensive wine you brought, like I do when I go to Wino Lou’s
house, skip the cheese and stick to the hot dogs in a blanket. You will at
least enjoy the wine. As for my friends and family, my secret is out, if you
see me passing the cheese plate early and often, you know the wine is some crap
I once thought was great, until I sobered up and tasted it in the light of day.
Pas l'inquiétude, j'ai un vin pour égaler cette odeur de cheesey
de votre slip. s'il vous plaît laver votre slip, l'odeur de fromage assourdit
le bouquet de mon bordeaux.
January 24, 2006
Wood is good and morning wood is much
appreciated by an aging old bastard like me. A response of “wood Floor”
from the right female will do wonders for that morning wood occurring more than
just, well, in the morning. However, wood that steps so much on the fruit it
could only be likened to blowing Gepetto’s little creation is actually more wood
then I need, or want in my glass. (Editor's note:
Does your wife read this stuff???)
I happened upon a bottle of wood today as I try
to keep pace with my cabernet-frenzied WinoStuff partner. I do love the
enhancements that wood can bring to a well rested red wine, but I actually had
to check the inside of the bottle for splinters after tasting this one. The
unfortunate thing was that the wood stayed through the first glass, framed the
second glass, mitered the third and planked the fourth. No matter how I
agitated, swirled, breathed, or aerated the wine, it was what it was, a heaping
glass of timber. No matter how hard I wished that little wooden boy would
become real wine, he did not. He just lay there in my glass, looking up at
me with those stupid wooden eyes and that tree branch nose. He wouldn’t dance
or sing or jump out of the glass to become my friend, but rather it remained
that log, unchiseled, uncrafted, unwine-like, kind of lifeless and dormant and
lacking a heart.
Vineyards Orzada Cabernet Sauvignon $ (13.99)
What can I say, if you are
looking for wall studs, this plank can be nailed with 10 penny galvanized.
January 23, 2006
What do you marinade a fresh salmon steak with
that also allows you to marinade your dashed Super Bowl dreams? For me it
turned out to be a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It started simple enough, the
NZSB would add to the orange juice and lemon I was soaking my salmon in before I
placed it in the oven, then the Panther game came on and I started hitting the
bottle as the Seahawks completely disregarded any run defense and mixed blitz
packages with nickel and dime schemes that stymied Jake and shutdown his
favorite target. In fact, I was preparing myself for a road trip to Detroit by
driving through the Ironbound section of Newark with my windows down and Fiddy
Cent blasting out my hoopdy. Maybe it is not so bad that I am not heading to
Detroit for the Big Game, especially after today’s news that Ford is shutting
down 14 plants in the US. As Bill Ford is insulated to the worries of food,
shelter and a beer, the hourly employees will be taking to the streets. I know
I am not a football coach, guru or commentator, but if Mr. Smith was so well
covered, where were the other receiving opportunities? How about sending the
tight end on a post pattern when covered by an inside linebacker? Why didn’t
they put Smith in the slot, send Carter on a shallow post, and drag Smith
underneath on a corner route? I guess with Foster breaking his leg last week
and Goins getting hurt early, they just had no threat of a running game.
Panther’s, thanks for the excitement, but like
the Eagles, and the Giants, we will be watching the Big Game from the couch.
2004 Villa Maria
Private Bin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
A nice blend of passion fruit,
ripe gooseberry and hints of herbaceous tones finish off with a clean finish.
January 22, 2006
My, my, my, I never expected this reaction so quickly.
Like a virus, or the bubonic plague, Cali Cab Fever is infecting those who
thought they were immune. It appears that the Pinot vaccine serum is not very
resistant to the overpowering Cali Cab Fever unleashed on the wine world this
January 1st. Though they have found ways to combat root louse,
Burgundians may be less resistant to the web-borne disease infecting wine web
page readers. Yes, in what can only be described as the onset of Cali Cab
Fever, our friend and Francophile extraordinaire and fine wine purveyor; Big Bob
has come down with Cali Cab Fever. The symptoms start with a desire for a big
ass red wine, followed by mild fever, runny nose and the shakes. If left
untreated, one is thrust into a weakened state caused mainly by explosive
diarrhea, uncontrollable colon spasms, and a mucous colored fluid dripping from
unusual places in the body. Rather than fight the disease, Big Bob decided to
immunize his entire family with a strong dose of Cali Cab Fever antidote, proof
submitted by Big Bob himself.
As you can see, in women, the antidote creates a desire for
them to unzip their otherwise nun-like conservative apparel and become
vivacious, gregarious hotties. I knew there was a reason behind our Madam
Curie-esque home chemistry. Fortunately, Big Bob did finish the remaining wine
in his glass and avoided the embarrassing rectal symphony.
Please, take the lead from this Burgundy lover and ingest
at least the minimal requirement to ward off this Cali Cab Fever thing. My
understanding is for children and old people not able to drink big ass cabs, the
medical community has stockpiled blood samples from Wino John. They say he has
been drinking so many Cali Cabs, his blood sample has enough antibodies to
immunize the population of China and Madagascar. You think the bird flu thing
is bad, do not be caught without protection against the Cali Cab Fever.
January 21, 2006
I was figuring that this being the Year of the Cab, Wino
John would be regaling us with the many fine cabernets he has stowed away in the
fortress known only to a privileged few. I see he has fessed up to the Cab
Fest I he enjoyed, but if you read the WOTM closely, Arrowood is but one of
six premium California cabernets with which he and his brothers christened their
palates. I look forward to the frequent updates this year as cabernet after
cabernet flows with reckless abandon around Mr. Big Ass Cab himself. To get
things rolling, we did have a lunch at the tried-and-true JR’s in East Hanover
and aptly indulged in a cabernet to officially begin the year that will be The
Cab. Unfortunately, it was not enough in the bottle, split between the three of
us to give me the heaping helping of alcohol I need to fuel my reactor.
I came home, rummaged in the cellar and grabbed something
to further my advancement towards optimal alcohol balance, or OAB as I refer to
it. I took the bottle and a glass to the dank third floor hovel and rummaged
through the hard drive. I found an unfinished posting that I figured I would
include here to bring my feng schui into balance. As these are only a few days
old, I submit for your approval.
On a sadder note, I did not know President Gerald Ford was
still alive, never mind 92 and recently hospitalized. I guess he was not one of
those high impact Presidents. I will remember him for his golf swing and
pardoning Richard Nixon, and, and, let me think, well anyway, I am sorry to hear
of his illness.
I promised myself I would not do it. I actually told
people that suggested I should, that there was no way I would, but last night, I
got sucked in and now I’m hooked. I have managed to resist getting hooked on
another show on the television, but I surfed in last night to the second part of
the hit show 24 and I became a zombie. The show’s intensity and
ability to keep moving glues you to the couch, or maybe it is my laziness and
the high percent of alcohol in my system. God, I need a life.
Merryvale Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
A fine offering of black cherry and blackberry are in this glass with a
finish of cassias and a touch of oak on the palate.
2003 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha Calatayud
At first this wine shows why it is better as a blending grape than its
own varietal, but after some mellowing in the glass, it offers black cherries,
raspberries, pepper, and cedar with an enjoyable finish.
January 20, 2006
For those of you that were at the Park Avenue Club Port
Pairing dinner last night, it was a fun time and I hope you enjoyed it as much
as I did. What? Park Avenue Club? Wino Bob, have you sold
out like Howard Stern and moved from the everyman status into the social elite,
plastic surgery, divorce-the-wife-for-a-young-trophy category? Now Winos and
Winettes, rest assured, I am nowhere near social elite status, as this Park
Avenue Club is about 22 miles west of the real Park Avenue. It rests in the
suburban setting of Florham Park, New Jersey, not the fast track to elitedome of
Manhattan high society. Nonetheless, the PAC is a supper club for the movers
and shakers of New Jersey. Kinda. The club is a non-profit that supports
11 charities with the members' funds and is strictly for corporate events and
dinners for business and pleasure. If you are in NJ, look them up at
www.parkavenueclub.com. It is an architecturally beautiful building
and has a worthiness to its charter.
Last night the executive chef offered a very reasonably
priced port and food pairing. The dinner was complete with a PowerPoint
presentation on port and I learned some information that I will follow up on to
make sure it was true. The biggest statement I was apprehensive of was that
port is not described with fruit characteristics by reviewers. Looking up a few
of my resources, I found that not to be the case. I also had doubts about the
story I was told of the origins of port, but that will take me a bit longer to
Placing my pedant aside, the food was excellent, though I
would have paired the ports differently. The menu match was as follows:
Herb Crusted Venison with Parsnip Puree- Graham’s Six
Pan Seared Foie Gras with Baby Pears- Fonseca 10 Year
Grilled Quail with Sweet Potato Hash- Taylor Fladgate
English Huntsman Cheese- Fonseca 20 Year Tawny
Truffles- Ferreira Vintage 1995
I tend to lean towards the Tawny when I have port as an
after dinner drink, but the Ferreira, though young, was impressive. I would
like to taste that about ten years from now. It seems like this year the Park
Avenue Club will be doing several wine or distilled spirits events, the next up
being Vodkas. I found out about the club too late to attend the French wine
blind tasting dinner, but several folks seated around me last night mentioned it
was fun. The champagne tasting was a huge hit and attended by everyone but me
from the dinner last night.
I look forward to attending another event and if anyone is
interested in joining, I would be happy to discuss sponsoring a new member or
two to pump a new energy and wine loving crowd into the club.
Interesting side note, the ACLU is pushing to ban foie gras
in the USA as it is cruel and unusual punishment for them to force feed the
geese with an Abner
Louima plunger to fatten their foie gras. But with the current mass
invasion of Canadian Geese, I say we service the community and clean up the
goose droppings that are ruining properties and adding acidity to our water
supplies by force feeding ACLU members to the geese. There is nothing more rich and
fattening than a misguided lawyer.
I hope to see you at the Vodka tasting next
January 16, 2006
I do not know if it is just me, but age has taken its toll
on my mettle. I spent most of my life outwardly making fun of people that
showed emotion, especially at a movie theater, or while watching a television
show. Hell, I once knew someone who cried over those studied AT & T commercials
when a son or daughter phones a parent just to tell them they appreciate who
they are and they love them, blah, blah, blah. Not since Ole Yeller died, have
I shed a tear while watching some Hollywood version of reality. That is, until
this weekend. First let me regain a bit of self respect and tell you, I was NOT
drinking a glass of white zinfandel, nor was I on my period, nor were my panties
in a wad and least of all I was not drinking a Royal Tokaji. So then, Wino Bob,
how did a testosterone heaping, heterosexual, rugged individual like yourself
end up balling your eyes out in front of the tube, like an estrogen-laden sissy
boy? I am glad you asked, because I had no intention of ever balling my eyes
out over a show. It started out very normal, like many a Sunday. It was too
early for the games and the political shows had just finished trying very hard
to tilt the world lefter. I clicked over to the history channel, the one most
intimate with Hitler proclivities for world domination, stylish facial hair and
To my delight, the show featured the history of distilled
spirits. Bingo, what better topic in between politics and football for an
alcohol-crazed derelict. I was captivated, enthralled, educated, chilled, and
broken down to a sobbing, quivering couch potato. The lump in my throated
started during the recanting of a conversation between George Washington and
Alexander Hamilton. Triumphant from the long, hard-fought seven year battle to
free this colony from the oppressive taxation of the great grandparents of Limey
dork, Hugh Johnson (the Brits), Mr. Washington had to devise a plan to repay the
allies that funded to war (yes, the French were in there). So what is the
solution? Tax the distilled spirits produced by every household in the new
country. What the f%$#??? Didn’t taxes lead to this battle, wasn’t it a
tea tax that pushed the colonists to the limits? OK, bring back the tea tax,
who cares, but avoid the distilled spirits, my new soon to be dollar bill
picture boy. Well this won’t fly, and rightly, the farmers readied themselves
to do battle. Unfortunately, as with most drunken ideas, it sounds good at 2
am, until you wake up the next day, hung over, looking at the barrel of a rifle.
OK, we will do the next best thing. Heading west to Kentucky, the colonists
found the limestone rivers of water necessary to make the true spirit of the new
country, and in Bourbon County Kentucky, our sour mash distilled spirit was
born, and a stones throw away, the Tennesseans charcoal filtered this sour mash
to give birth to Jack Daniels, the smoother, mellower bourbon.
Don’t worry; I wasn’t boo-hooing yet. Now, I hung with the
new colonists up until that fat bitch, Molly Hatchet, fueled the temperance
movement as a way to get men out of the bars and back to being productive
members of the community by holding down a job and feeding their kids and going
home to listen to their wife’s run at the mouth, blah, blah, blah. It was the
scene of a government official throwing bottles of whiskey against a wall,
smashing them into a stream of undrinkable booze that started the waterworks for
me, and I cried from 1919 until President Roosevelt signed the repeal. Image
after image of stills being blown up, barrels being axed apart and five-gallon
cans being punctured by picks. I wept. Heaving body, streaming tears,
heartache, I was crushed.
Nevertheless, the drunk craving alcohol can be very
innovative and we fought back with rumrunner crafts dashing to the three-mile
mark at sea to stealthily beach, unload and head back to the supply ships up and
down the east coast. A Mr. McCoy was the first to set his ship at the
international water limit of three miles and head up Rum Row, and when you
purchased high quality liquor from him, it was the real McCoy. The moonshine
(named for the clandestine stills run at night, by the light of the moon to slip
detection) market, the bath tub gin market and oh yeah, Al Capone, the
Valentines Day massacre, the Purple Gang in Detroit, the whole crime thing, but
still, the spirits flowed. How could they kill all that innocent distilled
spirit? Oh the humanity, the callus hard hearted sons of bitches... Damn
you, ax wielding tea-totallers…
For those much stronger than I, do yourself a favor and
watch this show next time it is on. But I must warn you, some scenes are
not suitable for those with weak hearts, those under 14 years of age and those
sympathetic to any liquid fermented in any manner.
Estate Oak Aged Cabernet Sauvignon $
The Barossa does wonders with
shiraz, but this example of cabernet sauvignon is lackluster and unexciting.
January 15, 2006
Hey Canooks, keep your God Damn cold weather up where it
belongs. You pissed all over my weekend. Actually, the balmy 48 degree
temperatures were placed in a choke hold and strangled within an inch of their
life yesterday when the God Damn cold winds started screaming down from the
Great White North, across the great lakes, over the hills and valleys of upstate
New York and landing garishly upon Caldwell, New Jersey. The mild rain that was
giving me the excuse not to do anything except watch football yesterday, soon
turned to ice BBs that rattled across the windows propelled by the 40 mph winds
from God Damn Canada. The frozen rain blanketed the roads and walkways just
enough to endanger the life of everyone wanting to head out. Unfortunately, I
did have to slip-slide my way out of the house for a bit, and upon my return, a
car, two people and three bottles of wine were waiting in my driveway. It seems
that the Wino Rockers had been out and about and were caught in the sudden
weather change. Being closer to my house than theirs, they stopped to pick up
some wine so we could hang by the fireplace, and watch the late game. They must
have been waiting awhile as one of the bottles was opened and Wino Rocker was
self-medicating to ward off the cold. That bottle, as I am germophobic, will
not be reviewed since it went directly into a backwash cycle and Lord knows what
lives within the mouth of an aging Rock and Roll ex-band member.
I also found out, during my absence I missed a call from
the Judge from Downunder who is in the middle of labeling all the 2004 The
Guilty that will land in my basement. I understand that he has increased
the number of states where The Guilty, and his latest offering (I do not
think I can disclose just yet) will be available. Stay tuned, as I will be
drinking both of these with him when he comes to the US.
As the wind has not let up and the wind chill is reported
at -12 F, I will be again relegated to the lounge chair in front of the TV for
the final two Divisional playoff games with the Panthers in Chicago to see if
they can tame the Bears and meet up with the Seahawks in Seattle next Sunday for
the Conference Championship. If only Washington could have bought an offense.
And let me end this with a wish for a Happy Martin Luther
King Day to my brothers, I feel your pain, as I too was born a poor black
child. Come on..., it was funny when Steve Martin said that line in his movie,
The Jerk. Just think of me as The Jerk…
2002 Heritage Road Bloodstone Shiraz
A soft wine with muted fruit flavors of plum and red berry with a finish
plus of spice.
2004 Woop Woop Shiraz
A jammy wine with generous blackberry, and blueberry fruit. It is well
balanced with black licorice, pepper on the finish. (the term 'woop woop' is
used to denote the middle of nowhere in the outback. For those in Jersey,
it would be like us saying Bumfuck, Nebraska)
January 12, 2006
Sometimes, the imagination is far better then reality. You
know, you spend hours, no days, thinking about how good something might be; a
date, a meeting, a bottle of wine, only to find out that it never lives up to
expectations. Two nights ago, as a member of a meeting, the hosts took us to a
steakhouse in NY I have always wanted to visit. On someone else’s budget, I was
conjuring up the steak selection I would make, and the bottle of wine I would
enjoy, and the dessert and the atmosphere and the lore. Yes, it was not just
any steakhouse. It was a steakhouse with history, or rather infamy. The
steakhouse that, on December 16, 1985, jumped to the front page of every
newspaper and TV show in the area when allegedly four men in Russian-style fur
hats, allegedly shot a gentleman by the name of Paul Castellano, Big Paulie,
allegedly. The steakhouse is Sparks and since that day has been known as the
place that Big Paulie got whacked by the Gotti crew, allegedly.
So I went, starry-eyed, and walked through the doors that
allegedly Mr. Castellano exited around 3:45 pm on that December day after a nice
lunch with friends. The dinning area is large, noisey, and decorated in
Victorian chic. We were with a large group and they gave us four tables in the
back, each table was designated with a person to select the wine. The task did
not fall to me so I went for the ride. A Flintstone sized menu was handed to us
and the four page excessively sized booklet was three pages of wine and one of
food. That is fine with me, however, the larger number of selections was fish.
The steakhouse I dreamed of having a nice porterhouse at, only offered three
beef selections, a veal chop, lamb chops and fish upon fish both shell and
flesh. I got the Roquefort steak and a house salad. The meat was nice, but not
a porterhouse. Our table had several bottles of a California Cabernet
Sauvignon, so I must declare this as the first GOTY bottle for me. Therefore, I
guess I was not as impressed with this place as I thought I would have been.
The food was good, just not as extensive as I thought it would be. The only
good thing from the night was that I checked off one more from my to do list;
sight were Big Paulie got whacked, done…..allegedly.
2001 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon
$$$ (69.00 rest.)
The wine was good, not exceptional, with an overwhelming nose of toasted
toffee and flavors of black cherry and chocolate.
January 8, 2006
Wild Card Weekend, nothing better for a football fan and
the fun began last night. The Washington/Tampa Bay game was interesting but it
was the night game between the Jaguars and the Patriots that had this wine lover
enjoying both passions. The game was called by the premier crew, the crème de
la crème, the standard bearers for play by play and that is the soon to be
separated Al Michaels and John Madden. Al Michaels is the ultimate word smith,
the purveyor of pop culture and sayer of the point spread. Madden, is Madden
and no matter how many come after and try and capture his clichés, his syntax
and his insight, none will, for he is the master. So I am sitting in my
recliner with a Spanish red in hand and a bag of chips on my ever expanding mid
section. The game is much out of hand with the Pats cruising in the game.
There were about 11 minutes left in the fourth and Madden and Michaels were
rambling to fill the time. They were speaking about the aging linebacker having
a grand game, Willie McGuinnist. Michaels drew an analogy that McGuinnist is
like a "61 Pa-truce". Madden mumbled something like, “er, ah, right.”
They cut to commercial, and it was on my way back from the
porcelain pot that it hit me. Michaels was throwing in a reference to a
Bordeaux. With my Joisey accent, I pronounce the names of many wines
inappropriately. I pronounce it Pét-truss,
he pronounced it Pa-trúce.
Since he has tons more dough than me, he dines in finer restaurants than me and
commands the King’s English, maybe I am the one out of sync. I will have to go
to the video with Big Bob, as he imports this much sought after Merlot. But Al,
I would have thought a 61 Haut Brion, or Mouton Rothschild not a Pa-truce.
Whatever the call, it was the first time I have heard a
wine analogy in a football game commentary. Way to go, Al. Next time you
are in NJ, look me up and we can go over Big Bob’s and enjoy a bottle of 61
Speaking of commentary, can we ask Fox not to let Troy
Aikman do a Giant game? The guy is so biased from all his years as a Cowboy
that he never can get past it. He dumps on every little issue Eli Manning
does. Conversely, he finds the positive side of any opponent. As you know my
wish was to have these two teams meeting for the NFC championship game, that way
one of them would be on their way to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, this
weekend is the end of the playoff road for one of them. The outside scenario I
can hope for is if the Panthers do beat the Giants, they handle the Bears next
week and Washington beats Seattle, then I can be in a seat at Bank of America
stadium in Charlotte for the NFC battle for the big dance slot.
2004 Ludovicus Red $ (8.99)
This Spanish blend did not twist my trunk enough for what I expected
from the grapes in it. Mostly cherry flavors but little depth or complexity.
January 7, 2006
Wow, I was saddened yesterday to hear on my car radio (the
old terrestrial kind) that a great musician died. First, let me ask, are you
caught up in this satellite radio verses terrestrial radio brew-ha-ha? I find
it completely over-exaggerated, satellite radio will grow, as does any new
technology, with the common issues of people being reluctant to pay for
something that is free. Commercial radio will go through a metamorphosis and
drop audience, then reformat and gain again. Personally, I am a talk show
junkie so the "all music, all the time" and need to have 100 plus channels when
I only listen to one at a time, doesn’t create the burning desire to run out and
lock into a monthly bill. Let us face it, the alcoholic in me is screaming,
'$12.95 per month is one less cheap bottle of wine.' If I take away one review
per month, that is 12 less per year, 120 less per decade… You do the
math. With less reviews, it will be hard for us to maintain our position atop
the competitive world of wine web sites, spiraling in revenues and ending up
alone in a dank, dingy, third floor room typing to an audience of a few hardcore
readers and my mother. Wait a minute, maybe life will not change at all...
I should look into this satellite radio thing. Unlike my other premature
habits, I will wait until technology makes this satellite thing less expensive
and more transportable with a strong signal. I have read on line about people
not being able to get a signal unless they have a window facing a certain
direction in their office and my neighbor that has one in his car, tells me
there are spots on Bloomfield Avenue in town that his radio signal goes dead.
I digress…. As I have pontificated in the past that
music is a very important part of my life, it pains me when any musician passes
and one that was popular during my misspent youth holds that much more.
Compound that with the fact that he died from brain and lung cancer and it is
tragic. Life is special, but when someone can touch the lives of people he
never met, through music, it is religious. So, to the man that brought us great
Why Do You Talk
Venus In Furs
Romeo Had Juliette
Satellite Of Love
The Blue Mask
and the racy, transvestite anthem of the 70’s, we will
always remember him for his song, Walk On The Wild Side.
Oh..., what? It was not Lou Reed that died? I
apologize to Mr. Reed and his family. It was Lou Rawls that died.
Actually, I think I tried to sing
Lady Love into the ear of a few high school chicks at dances as a
young, macking Wino Bob. I was trying to get some lady love. As my hand
at that point in my life was vice-grip strong, Lady Love would have been nice.
So, may I send my sympathy to the
Rawls family. Rest in peace, dear Lou.
2004 Fat Bastard Syrah
I actually thought twice if I really
wanted to drink the entire glass of this one, but since I didn’t want to open
another bottle, my craving for alcohol made me finish the bottle over the course
of two days.
January 4, 2006
With our fifth snowfall of the winter, I was holed up in
the house yesterday. Digging around the cellar for a warmer-upper, I realized I
might be the one that drinks the least amount of the GOTY. Cabernet Sauvignon
pricing keeps this big-ass wine at the bottom of my purchasing list. I will
have to get a second job or figure out a way to make money off this site to
afford cabs for review. I did manage to find a wine that I enjoyed from a South
African producer that I have enjoyed for several years. The marketing arm of
Fairview has a good sense of humor as they have tweaked the French by
bastardizing the names of great French wines. The Goats-do-Roam is a wine I
enjoy as an easy drinking, inexpensive everyday wine, along with their Goat-Roti,
and Goat d' Afrique which poke the proverbial finger into the eye of the Rhone.
Last night I grabbed a bottle of their native fruit, the
enigmatic Pinotage. As you know, this is a cross between Pinot Noir and
Cinsault. Though this is a reasonably priced wine, I thoroughly enjoyed the
nose and taste of this one. Unfortunately, this grape is not widely planted, so
it will never see the likes of the GOTY consideration list, but I do recommend
if you have not tried a Pinotage, open your minds and palates and consider this
one. It is on the bigger style as this grape vacillates between a thin,
unexciting wine to a Pinot Noir with balls.
2003 Fairview Pinotage
This is a nice example of the
manly side of pinotage, delighting you with a spicy, black fruit nose. The wine
opens after a while to present mulberry, dark cherry, and a finish of toasted
marshmallow. This wine shows the backbone I enjoy in my red wine.
January 2, 2006
How many times will I be writing 2005 on checks and stuff
before it sinks in? The end of the year was quiet, though I did get tired of
sitting home, so I went down to the cellar and grabbed a bottle of champagne and
walked across the icy street to Wino Lou’s house. I figured it would be so much
nicer to celebrate the Giants’ Divisional Championship on a 50-inch plasma HDTV,
than on my 13 inch black and white. Rudely, I walked into this Eagle fan’s
nest, cheered the fact that Tiki Barber was running like a crazed man, handed
Wino Lou a bottle of 1990 Dom Perignon and told him to open it now. I have to
take a course in manners and realize if you bring a gift, the host can do what
he wants with it. Instead, when I bring something I want, I just tell them to
serve it to me. Sorry WL, my wine etiquette needs to be fine-tuned. And to my
Eagle fan friends, Wino Lou, Wino John, Wino Mike, and Bruce M., sorry that T.O.
was upset with his salary, and that McNabb couldn’t stay healthy. Enjoy
watching the play-offs in the same place your team will be, on the couch.
(Editor's note: F the G-men!)
Yesterday was enjoyable again, as the Panthers, my second
team of choice made their way into a wild card spot, though they could have had
the division. Problem for me next week, the Panthers come to NJ to play the
Giants, so first round, one of my teams is not going any farther, though they
still went farther than the Eagles and Dallas. I watched the game enjoying an
inexpensive easy drinking red that offered a lot for the price. I can see this
as a great anytime wine which carries no oak so it is soft and smooth on the
finish for non-red lovers. As yesterday was a lazy time of football and reality
show marathons, I put a roast beef in the oven and let it slow cook to the
perfect 139 degrees for the medium rare treat I enjoy. The wine went well with
the nachos and salsa during the game and the beef with dinner.
Here is looking for big things to happen this year, and to
the Pinot Noir fans out there, like the Eagles, maybe next year you have a
chance at GOTY. (Editor's note: Pinot?
GOTY? I don't think so...)
2004 Carro Tino
This Spanish blend is 50% monstrell, 20% syrah, 20% tempranillo and 10%
merlot and is all fruit. Enjoy dark cherry, black cherry, blackberry and
raspberry with an easy finish and enough style to have you want another sip. I
put this on my good value list for those of us that do not spend a lot of money
on a bottle of wine.
January 1, 2006
I have come to accept
the fact that horoscopes, palm readers, tarot cards and yours truly cannot
predict the future. However, that will not inhibit me in any way, shape or
form, from naming a Grape of the Year. I was a perfect 100% in last years
predictions, not a single one was remotely close to coming true. I could not
even twist and contort one prediction to point to and say, "Yes, Winos and
Winettes, Winostuff.com has lived up to the sooth-sayer." Unfortunately, I did
predict the tsunami but since it had nothing to do with wine, I left it off last
year’s published list.
Not letting fact get in
the way of my reality, I have again spent
no... hours contemplating the reasons behind a selection for Grape of
the Year. Last year fell short of WinoStuff being given their own feature in
Wine Spectator, or a half hour show on Food Network. Our boney fingers did
reach larger numbers of readers and we continue to be a small seismic reading in
the wine rumblings. Hopefully our tectonic plates have created enough pressure
that a flood of energy will finally be released. (For the web site, I
Facts are facts and
there is a grape that perfectly suits our palates, our style and our sense of
humor. Without further ado, I offer the GOTY for 2006.
2006 Grape of the Year
The "king" of the
world’s red wine grapes, cabernet sauvignon originated in the Bordeaux region of
France, but also produces superlative wines around the globe, including regions
in California, Washington State, South America, South Africa, Eastern Europe,
In California, the
finest renditions generally come from the Napa Valley.
Cabernet Sauvignon is
long thought to be an ancient varietal. However, recent genetic studies at U.C.
Davis have determined that Cabernet Sauvignon is actually the hybrid offspring
of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
Cabernet Sauvignon berries are small,
spherical with black, thick and very tough skin. This toughness makes the grapes
fairly resistant to disease and spoilage and able to withstand some autumn rains
with little damage. It is a mid to late season ripener. These growth
characteristics, along with its flavor appeal have made Cabernet Sauvignon one
of the most popular red wine varieties worldwide.
With age, its distinctive black currant
aroma can develop bouquet nuances of cedar, violets, leather, or cigar box and
its typically tannic edge may soften and smooth considerably.
California Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage Chart
- Not Yet Ready to Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Classic - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Classic - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Very Good - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Good - Drink
Good - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Good - Drink
Average - Drink
Very Good - Drink
Good - Drink
Very Good - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Good - Drink
Average - Drink
Very Good - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Very Good - Drink
Below Average - Drink
Below Average - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Good - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Good - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Below Average - Drink
Below Average - Drink
Average - Drink
Good - Drink
Very Good - Drink
Average - Drink
Very Good - Drink
Very Good - Drink
Very Good - Drink
Below Average - Drink
Very Good - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
Outstanding - Drink
The reasons are
obvious. First and foremost, it is a grape that produces big and bold wines,
and 2006 will have big and bold news for the web site and staff. More
importantly, it is the grape that Wino John first taught me to enjoy and as this
is our sixth year anniversary for Winostuff, it is only fitting that this grape
and this site be celebrated. I plan on drinking as much Cabernet Sauvignon as I
can get my wallet around. So, to Wino John, Winostuff, our readers and 2006,
crack open a bottle of your favorite big-ass Cab and let us know about it.