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This page contains Winings from the 1st Quarter of the year 2007.

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March 27, 2007

Tasteful clothes uncorked from wine slime
Fermented fashion; foodie fragrances; caskets for die-hard baseball fans

COMMENTARY

By Brian Tracey

Associate editor

MSNBC

It can be said that a fine wine never goes out of fashion, so we shouldn't be surprised that now someone has invented a way to make truly vintage clothing.  An Australian scientist has designed a dress made from cellulose woven by bacteria in a vat of fermenting wine, saying it could be the future of fashion.  One small problem: The so-called "cave woman" dress must be kept wet because the cellulose fibres are not long enough to be flexible and, as it dries, they become brittle and break.

In order to shape the dress, slimy cellulose is scooped off the surface of the fermenting wine and layered around a blow-up doll. It then shrinks, taking the form of the body. The doll is deflated when the dress is in the right shape.  "This is art -- it is not meant to be practical," said inventor Gary Cass, a scientific technician at the University of Western Australia in Perth. "It is meant to be a provocative object, to spark debate about future fashion."  Cass was inspired to create the dress when he was working in a vineyard many years ago, but it was not until he gained funding from an arts group that he was able to produce it.  Cass said fermenting wine produces a slimy, rubbery top layer caused by bacteria which, if left alone, keep spinning cellulose.  "We just took wine making to the next step," he said.

Beer lovers, we know what you're thinking: What about Bud Duds?

© 2007 MSNBC Interactive© 2007 MSNBC InteractiveReuters contributed to this report.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17630290/

© 2007 MSNBC.com

OK, I have no problem with slime wine, as several of my wine bottles in the cellar are crap and I would be happy to donate them to the cause.  The blow up doll, again, no problem there, I have several in the dank third floor room, you know a stick figure needs lovin too.  The only problem I see is keeping the clothing wet, I mean wet all over.  A side note, uric acid will breakdown the cellulose fibers.  Though we are not quite there yet, my hat’s off to this clothing wonder from down under.

Cheers

 

March 26, 2007

I buckled down yesterday and finished the book, Blood and Wine.  It is a dry, historical read through much of it, but compelling for those of us interested in the minutia of the wine industry.  I closed the book and had two immediate thoughts.  First, Ernest Gallo was a major Dickhead.  I don’t know if screwing his brother out of his inheritance, screwing his brother out of using his name on cheese, or re-writing the history of his company bothered me most.  At times they were equally cumbersome.  Second, if Ernest were alive, I think I would start a company that makes toilets and call it Gallo Crapper Company just to open up an infringement lawsuit. The company got rich on Thunderbird, Ripple, Night Train and wine coolers but were concerned about cheese quality.  It just seemed like greed ripped apart a family unnecessarily.  If you have the chance to obtain the book and slug through 400 pages of timeline and fact-based reporting, I believe you will agree with me in thinking Ernest Gallo was a major Dickhead.

March 24, 2007

Much as been over written and over discussed about the Parker influence on wine makers.  This desire to increase your Parker rating so consumers will seek these wines after reading the reviews, more specifically the point value on the Parker scale.  I did what any good wine writer would do, I did the Google and did read something of interest.  There is more and more research being done by firms like International Fragrance and Flavor in Dayton, NJ regarding taste/smell and genetics.  Through their research with smell and food preferences, IFF has determined that some ethnic groups have better senses of smell with Asians being the highest per cent of super smellers.  Damn it, first they conquer math, then they conquer the nail salons and now quite possibly the wine critics.  Move over Robert Parker, Yao Ming, the seven-foot NBC star, may just replace you with his super sniffer. 

What interests me most is that the beer and wine industries are becoming more involved in the research so they can develop specific flavors in their products they would like to market in a specific segment.  Without violating the basic tenants of winemaking, the first step is to define terms on the label that will appeal to their target market, then if the winemaker can accentuate these characteristics, all the better. 

So is the future of wine marketing moving towards genetically tailored attributes?  Are we going to find a different version of the same wine in western Pennsylvania than we would in NYC?  What does this do for quality consistency and will the mass market be able to discern these tweaks?  Only time will tell.  As I read farther into the book on the Gallo family, Ernest did something similar when he developed Thunderbird, a flavor specific to African-Americans that pushed his company into the number one spot over Swiss Colony.

As an aside, we can look forward to new wine-flavored ice creams as a growing trend in the dessert industry.  Mostly a Euro-trend, except for the tried and true rum raisin, syrah and merlot are creeping into the shelves of boutique dessert shops.  Even my motherland, Poland, is jumping into the game with the introduction of a Malaga ice cream.  Malaga is a sweet Spanish dessert wine with rich fig and raisin flavors.  Hey, I got dibs on Inniskillin Cookies and Cream and the Akroyd Vidal Pistachio.  I wonder if they will have to start carding patrons at the dessert shops?

March 20, 2007

Have you seen this person?

 

If so please ask him for our show title back.  We will not rest till UnCorked is rightfully ours!!!

March 19, 2007

I was sitting watching the March madness and opened an inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon that was at its drinking peak.  This was not a big bold wine, just mature fruit and mellow tannins that made it very easy drinking.  It won’t be good in another 2 years, by then it will have passed its prime, but if you have it or see it buy it now or drink it now.  I liked this one for the inexpensive reasons also.  I will reiterate, it’s not a lush, long finish wine, but a pleasant black fruit and mellow oak cabernet sauvignon that didn’t make you think.

2001 Steel Creek Cabernet Sauvignon $ (11.99)   This one rates highly for me since it was inexpensive but presented itself well, like wearing a well-pressed button down shirt with jeans.

March 17, 2007

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it, you know, the legal issues in the news.  No, not the Libby verdict.  No, not the Plame Blame Game.  No, not where in the world is Anna Nicole’s body.  No, not my DNA sample for the paternity suit.  No, this is the big one.  Not since the Hindenburg baby trial has this legal action been so spoken about.  What you ask?  I will tell you, the legal action between the thin, neat, spectacle-wearing, wine savvy, Queer-Eye-for-the-Straight-Guy, Ted Allen and the thin, neat, spectacle-wearing, wine savvy, not Queer-Eye-for-the-Straight-Guy; Wino Bob.  Ted Allen, you have been served and if we have to meet in the courtroom or on the catwalk, we will settle this like men.  I am ready to go to the mattresses, I am not laying (or lying) down for this one.  I will not let Ted Allen taint our project.  I will look for several more juvenile references later in this entry. 

As you know, the lovely and talented Winette Tia Dionne Hodge has spent an inordinate amount of time working with Wino John and me promoting our wine project, UnCorked.  This critically acclaimed six part wine series has taken Best New Wine series honors at Memfest, and a Director’s Citation at the Black Maria Film Festival.  Now our hard work is under siege by the Queer Eye Guy, Ted Allen.  Yes, it seems Mr. Allen’s next project will be a six part series on wine called… Uncorked.  What the f#@&?  A thin, neat eyeglass-wearing wine savvy host of a wine show by the same name?  How dare you! 

I have asked for habeas corpus, cease and desist, jurist prudence, and trademark infringement.  Look, if Kramer can sue Kramer and Gallo can sue Gallo, then Wino Bob can sue Ted Allen et all for trying to enhance his audience for his wine show by trading off our fan base.  I will not stand for that, at least not without a frying pan tied to my ass.  Call Variety, call Entertainment Tonight!  I heard that Pat O’Brien is a real party hound, I’m sure he’d give us good press.  I want Mr. Allen to be grilled by Tim Russert.  (Editor's note:  Bob, after he produces his lame rendition of UnCorked, we can sue him for billions, millions, HUNDREDS of dollars!!!)

Lets look at the facts:

Winostuff UnCorked

Queer Eye Guy Uncorked

Produced in 2004

Produced - oh that’s right, they are not yet in production

Tall, thin, neat, eyeglass-wearing host

Tall, thin, neat eyeglass-wearing host

Humorous and educational

Educational and boring

6 episodes

6 episodes

Won Directors Citation at Black Maria film festival and Memfest honors

Not produced yet

Drinks and has good time with winery owners

Pedantically shows us high end wineries

Extension of world renown web site that has been established since 2000

Not produced yet

Catchy homegrown music

Probably some hip sounds from well know band

Not done by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

Ensemble member of Queer Eye

Copyright 2004 UnCorked

Has to do copyright search

Contains bloopers

Rehearsed and done professionally

No budget

Network budget

Chuckles at words "Cork Taint"

Sees no humor in the words cork taint

Nice guy

Steals the name of other people’s show

As one can clearly see, we will not be intimidated by some big name, famous, studio-backed bully.  We are standing up for ourselves and in doing so, standing up for every little independent production that has dreams of making it big one day.  Stay tuned for more, this one is just beginning.

March 16, 2007-1

After an enjoyable evening at Berta’s Chateau and the wines of my new friend and separated at birth brother, Pietro Ratti, the Uber Wealthy Wino Odd Job invited a small group back to his private restaurant.  Not that I needed any more wine, but he pulled a bottle from his stock that I have not tasted before.  Wow, it could have been a winner at the last CabFest.  The most interesting part of the night was seeing the "before" area of my new crash pad.

Wino Odd Job will be constructing a custom wine cellar that will contain a large volume of wine, and a cot in the corner for me to curl up and spend time with all the expensive wines I cannot afford.  Wino OJ ("Titanium Am Ex" to his close friends) will be creating a very Euro-style cellar with stone floor, and plaster-coated walls.  I cannot wait to see the finished product!  Actually, I cannot wait to see the filled racks. 

I suggested we put a web cam down there and video cast the Making Of Wino Bob’s New Hideout.  WJ, can you check with the techno-geeks and see if we got the bandwidth?

The wine was a California Cabernet Sauvignon from a small winery in the Stag’s Leap District.  It was well-structured, big black fruit and a long smooth finish.  Boy does that guy know how to live.  I need to hunt down some more information on the winery.  www.adamsridgewinery.com

2002 Adams Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (48.00)   Big dark fruit with mint undertones and a weighty finish, well done.

March 16, 2007

I would like to provide the pictures for your own judgment.  Look below and tell me if this is an entry into the “Separated At Birth” hall of fame.  I was able to crash the Big Bob fundraiser at Berta’s Chateau last night where Pietro Ratti was educating, entertaining and wooing the women.

Sorry, that’s the wrong picture.  As you can see, Pietro is slightly taller than Big Bob.

Try this one.

There.  I think its clear.  OK picture me without glasses and Pietro in a thong.  We could be long lost brothers!  I need to check my dad’s passport to see when he was in Italy.

March 12, 2007

With one hour less of sleep and the headache of checking every electronic device in my possession for this new improved daylight savings crap, I was tired and cranky as I headed out to a 'meet the winemaker' dinner at Ambrosia in Morris Plains.  Through the help of Big Bob, he arranged to have Pietro Ratti, son of Renato Ratti, proprietor of Renato Ratti Winery (www.renatoratti.com) appear at a fund raiser dinner.  It was an opportunity for us to hear the history of the winery, understand the culture of the vines and enjoy a pairings meal. 

I arrived in the parking lot and several people came up to me and wanted to know how I changed my outfit so quickly.  Clueless, I walked towards the door and several people came up to me and asked me to sign their wine bottles.  Wow, the power of the internet, my fan base finally recognized me and were becoming groupies!  Yes, soon my plastic Simpsons tasting cup would fetch $230 on eBay.  I entered the bar area of the restaurant and found it odd that the owners placed a mirror in front of the beer taps.  I was starring directly at myself.  No, wait a minute, this stick figure didn’t wear glasses and he/I had on a blue tie.  Holy Mother MacCrea, in the Bizzarro Wine Universe, there is an Italian wine maker that is pipe cleaner thin, tall, dark haired and has purple teeth.  OK, I only decided to draw this comparison after a large number of people attending the dinner told me I looked like I could be Pietro Ratti’s brother.  The only difference is that he had on real Italian designer clothing, spoke eloquently, and had the women swooning with his very Italian accent.  Somehow chicks dig an accent no matter what you say.  In addition to being impressed with his wines and the history of his family’s venture into the wine business, Pietro carries a great sense of humor.  He had the crowd on the edge of their seats, he had the single women fawning for him to autograph their wine bottles and I even heard one woman saying he had dreamy eyes, as she sat down at the table behind me. 

We started the dinner with a some what unusual white wine for Piedmont; a sauvignon blanc, I Cedri di Villa Pattono Monferrato Bianco DOC, a soft, crisp refreshing aperitif.  We also nibbled on hors d'oeuvres with the Villa Pattono Monferrato Rosso, a blend of barbera, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, an easy wine for the mix of appetizers we had.

On the table were the Dolcetto d’Alba Colombe and the Barbera d’Alba Torriglione both 2005.  I tasted each with my cheese ravioli pasta course and my salad.  The Dolcetto carried more acidity and worked better with the red sauce on the pasta, and frankly nothing goes with a vinaigrette dressing on a salad.  The Dolcetto would be a wine I could have with my Wednesday night pasta or a pizza with friends.

The main course was married to the Nebbiolo d’Alba Ochetti, also a 2005.  This grape is what Piedmont is famous for.  But it was the Nebbiolo that Ratti cultivated in Barolo that made my night.  Pietro offered a toast as we sampled this 2003 that goes something like, "Barolo, the king of wine, the wine of kings".  Then he hauled off and crowned me cause I was leaning over with a straw drinking from the glass of the person across from me.  Pietro told us he hand-carried the wine as it wasn’t ready for the shipping container to make the event.  It was interesting as he could only carry 3 one ounce samples through customs, so he had to ask 79 other passengers to carry his wine on to the plane.   

It was a great evening highlighted by the humorous, gracious hosting of Pietro.  I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the painstaking planning Big Bob went through to ensure the evening was a success. The very last comment Pietro made was that he invited me to visit the winery…  Actually he generously invited all 85 of us to visit the winery, and he sincerely would welcome anyone who takes him up on the offer. 

March 11, 2007

I am striking out with the king grape of Italy.  After reading many articles about the comparison f Nebbiolo and cabernet sauvignon, telling me that Nebbiolo is hands down the most imperial grape in Italy likening it to the cabernet to the Napa Valley.  Yet I have not found one that delivers the same sinful pleasures to me.  Admittedly, I have only tried a few and have not taken any magazine list into a store to hunt down the “expert’s” recommendation.  I have been experimenting on my own and during a recent lunch with Wino John and TOB (The Other Bob), I ventured into Barolo land, only to come up disappointed and wishing I had selected from the California cab section.  Granted, JR’s has a stale wine offering, seems like they don’t stray from the brands that have graced their shelves since WJ and I first went there. 

As wine goes, Barolos are on the higher end of my budget so when I put down $47.00 I am expecting to find a bit of hedonistic pleasure in the glass.  As this one goes, there was little heeding.  I put out the plea to the masses, email me some recommendations so I might find the glory and honor many of these writers bestow on the king of Italian grapes.  Keep in mind, I am a cheap bastard and am not looking to spend 250.00.  I’m looking for a reasonably priced wine that shows the positive attributes of this grape.  Holla back

2001 Fontanafredda Serralunga d’Alba Barolo DOGC $$ (47.00)   I was disappointed that his wine had little beyond the initial burst of fruit.  Nothing big and bold about this one.

March 10, 2007

I’m still struggling, with this Pinot Noir thing.  March was Pinot opportunity month.  Big Bob invited me to a showing of the Drouhin portfolio but I had some obligations I could not rearrange.  Two days later was the Essex County Wine Society 2004 Oregon Pinot Noir tasting.  I figured this would be a great chance for me to gain exposure and retrain myself.  I am struggling with these subtle, nuanced, delicate hints of stuff.  I did it again, I was the singular vote for the wine I liked best.  It was the biggest, boldest, black fruit driven Pinot Noir, I’d say masculine.  I love the term, “Parkerized”.  It seems fitting for me in this grape.  I enjoyed a wine that might have been manipulated to get a certain rating, to sell better, to end up on a list that newbies carry with them to the local wine store. 

Two things surprised me regarding this tasting.  First, we started off with a red.  That was just fine with me, the redder the better.  Second, we were informed that several of the Oregon Pinots were pushing 14+% alcohol.  Wow, I’m thinking these are the zinfandels of the Pinots, if you follow me.  There is little nuance and subtlety in a big ass Pinot.  Be that as it may, my uncalibrated palate was left with the following impression.  As I mentioned, these are all 2004s.

Warm Up

MacCullum Family Vineyards Pinot Noir

First Round

Cristom Mt. Jefferson Cuvee

Cristom Sommers Reserve

Ok for starters, nothing to blow me away, the Sommers Reserve had better fruit and I felt it was something I could enjoy with a casual meal.

Second Round

St Innocent Seven Springs

St Innocent Anden

This ruined it for me.  The Anden was a black fruit, heavy wine that drew me into a style I favor and got me in the mindset that Pinot can be bold, which counters everything I am trying to learn.  For me this was my and mine alone, personal favorite.  The Seven Springs was my second favorite for the night which puts St Innocent into my must try again category.  Oh what a heavy tongue will do.

Third Round

Shea Estate

Shea Wadenswil

Two distinctly different wines, I found the Estate very enjoyable with a cinnamon and spice on the nose while the Wadenswil had a molasses, toffee nose.  I think the oak was imparting too much on the Wadenswil for the grape and the sweetness bothered me.

Fourth Round

Le Cadeau Cote Estate

Le Cadeau Diversite

Le Cadeau Rocheux

We were told that this was a test of style as three different winemakers made these three wines for this vineyard.  But as the conversation drew out, the grapes were from different areas in the vineyard which imparted the overused word “Terrior” into the final product.  Unlike the St Innocent where the same winemaker created from vines in two distinct areas of the hill, thus defining terrior, this was supposed to be the winemakers influence.  It would only have been so if the grapes from one area of the vineyard were subdivided.  I will say this; the Diversite was the most distinctly different wine from all the rest.  It carried a heavy herbaceous nose and a flavor that nearly sent me to the spit cup.  Seeing how I am a professional, I managed to consume my first taste, but segregated the glass from the rest of the samples. 

Fifth Round

Lemelson Thea’s Selection

Very easy drinking and an everyday drinker I could have again.

The most interesting part of the evening occurred while we were tasting 7-10.  The discussion at that time turned to the prices of the wines we tasting and how that played a part in the selection for the group.  My tablemates were not the high end collector crowd and we do enjoy being exposed to the high end wines which we probably would not be purchasing.  It seems like there are a great many doctors in the group that have impressive cellars.  I have to look on my medical insurance charges next time to see if there is a wine purchasing line item I am being charged.  Maybe Medicare does it automatically.  We were interested in a tasting that really looked at wine that is sub thirty five dollars and if we blind tasted the group, what the discussions would be like.  If I were to set this up, I would blind taste cabernet sauvignons from around the world.  I think I might be able to surprise a few people and deliver some reasonably priced, quite enjoyable wines that might not be in their cellars.

March 8, 2007

It was that time again, a time for two diverse schedules to get together and celebrate our mutual birthday.  This year our dinner out was celebrated last night, last year it was in the middle of July.  It really doesn’t matter, but once a year I have dinner with an old high school friend whose entrance into the world was within days of mine.  We try and treat ourselves to a nice meal and some decent wine and relive the glory days of Bloomfield High School.  The days there ain’t so glorious now with the recent trouble.  At 4:30 we spoke and he told me we should try this new place in Summit, Roots.  Roots, I had not heard of it, but I could enjoy a collard green or two and some fried chicken.  Apparently not, the place was once a clothing store in the posh town of Summit, NJ where investment brokers and commodity traders live in gabled mansions and take the train into Wall Street each morning.  Fittingly, I found that Roots Steakhouse has every intention of taking every bit of the profits from the brokers and investment bankers coming to enjoy a beautiful dry aged steak, or double cut lamb chops.  I stewed at the bar as I sipped my $14.95 glass of Segway Cabernet Sauvignon.  I checked, retail, it goes for $12.99.  Give me a f@*&ing break here.  That, my friend was the more reasonable offering; I will not spend $22.00 a glass unless it will be served by a well-endowed topless waitress whose one fantasy in life is to spend a night with a pipe cleaner-shaped, wine soaked, bespectacled character.  I didn’t see her there so I wasn’t buying. 

I will say that the dinner prices were not bad.  I had the NY strip steak, medium rare, and the flavor was wonderful.  Everything was ala carte so we got the creamed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes.  The sides were smaller than most but after an appetizer and salad it was enough to balloon my belly like a Biafran.  The place has a great bar area and the seating amount is respectable, though I hear they are booked out through May if you want a Saturday night reservation.  I looked over the wine list and a loud thud disturbed the people seated to our left, as my jaw dropped to the floor.  The mark ups are high, but I guess the clientele that frequents the place has no problem with it, so who am I to deny an entrepreneur from turning a profit.  It is me who decides if I want to pay the price or shut up and drink a draft beer.

The burning sensation in the pit of my stomach was not from the food, it was merely the price of the wine by the glass that sent my gastro-intestinal system into overdrive.

For those out there with a pocket full of cash, expect dropping $100 plus for dinner, without a bottle of wine, and also, let me know if your company is hiring.

Roots Steakhouse

401 Springfield Ave

Summit, NJ

www.RootSteakhouse.com

I even do this without a comp’d dinner.  Imagine if I could parlay this thing into a free meal.

March 7, 2007

Anyone having Ernest Gallo in the death pool please step forward.  I have been immersed in Gallo recently, ever since the passing of Joe Jr., King of Cheese.  Since Julio is the last man standing of the three Gallo boys, he is the sole survivor of the E J Gallo mega fortune.  The death of Joe sent me searching for the book on their famous trademark infringement lawsuit.  It took me a bit of hunting since the book is out of print, but this week I started reading, Blood and Wine by Ellen Hawkes.  I am up to 1930 and do see the deep seated hatred the older brothers (E&J) had for the younger Joe Jr.  First, the eldest son was not named after his father, that honor went to the far younger third in line.  And from what little I read so far, father Joe was a huge dick, hard-ass ill-tempered tyrant who worked the two older boys from sun up till sun down only allowing them to stop for school.  So far, from what I understand, Joe and his brother Mike made handsome fortunes during prohibition, let’s just say they were doing more than sacramental wine and selling train car loads of grapes to the eastern markets. 

Ernest Gallo

Ernest was a driven business savvy prickle son of a bitch who learned to make money during prohibition by hard work, cunning business skills and the balls to take on his headstrong father.  In 2005, Wine Business Monthly ranked E & J Gallo Company the top wine company with sales of 75 million cases per year.

E&J Gallo Winery employs more than 4,600 people and sells wine in more than 90 countries. Second- and third-generation family members are active throughout the privately held business, and Gallo continues to partner with family-owned wineries from around the world to import wine. Recent initiatives include launching French wine brand Red Bicyclette and Da Vinci from Italy. The company already imports some 80,000 cases of Ecco Domani Chianti into the U.S. each year and another 100,000 cases of Bella Sera Sangiovese. It wouldn't be surprising to see Gallo add a wine from Chile to its portfolio, a wine from Spain or even one from Germany.

Gallo distributes the fast-growing Black Swan brand in the U.S. in partnership with Brian McGuigan Wines of Australia. Black Swan is fast approaching the "two million case" mark. Gallo also distributes McWilliams of Australia and White Haven Winery of New Zealand.

Though E&J Gallo typically develops its own brands rather than acquire them, the company purchased Louis M. Martini Winery and the Mirassou brand in 2002. Both have since been repositioned and expanded. Last year, Gallo picked up Bridlewood Estate Winery of Santa Ynez, California in a bankruptcy sale. Known for Syrah, Bridlewood will be re-launched this year.

Other brands include: Redwood Creek, Frey Brothers, Gallo of Sonoma, Rancho Zabacco, Dancing Bull, Napa Valley Vineyards, Marcelina, Anapamu, Indigo Hills, Andre, Balatore, Boones Farm, Turning Leaf, Peter Vella, Carlo Rossi and E&J Twin Valley.

Yes the Boones Farm and the Bartles and James wine coolers are what made me the wino that I am, add in a bottle of Riuniti lambrusco and it would be my early cellar inventory.  Godspeed, Ernest.  Julio is now going to make peace with the surviving members of Joe Gallo Cheese Company and finally let them use their birth name on their product.

March 4, 2007

I was invited to participate in a task last night so I took it very seriously, but after two bottles of wine and a gifted Cuban cigar, my vote was never counted.  No justice, no peace.  The man is keeping me down by not validating my hanging chad.  I was disenfranchised by none other than Wino Paul.  An invitation arrived in the mail several weeks ago for a cocktail party at the exciting transition taking place at Chateau Wino Paul.  In a malaria-induced fever and weakness, WP has cashed in his Communion Bonds and after 26 years is purchasing new furniture and boldly expressing a Tuscan look to the dinning room and living room.  Seeking decorating input, and who else to speak with than a person living in a third floor dank room with one light bulb and a computer, still wearing clothes from high school.  I am always glad to impart expensive suggestions to those spending-challenged friends.  The enticement was the bottle tag touting the number one wine of 2006 at eye level in the newly purchased wine rack/bar unit.  That WP is such a kidder, what I failed to read was the source of the statement, which is listed below:

Beaulieu Vineyard Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon
"There are great-value red wines coming out of California. For Cabernet Sauvignon lovers, try Beaulieu Vineyard's consistently good Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon...." —Staten Island Advance, Joseph Delissi_level2o January 7, 2004   

Yes the wine powerhouse the Staten Island Advance, what is it ahead of?

As the night progressed, it turned out there was a ringer in the crowd, a professional interior decorator, whose input was rightfully taken seriously and my suggestion of painting the walls black, ignored.  I do want to be clear, I take my right to vote seriously.  If it’s a Presidential election, a town Mayor, a singer on American Idol, or the color your wall should be painted.  OK, the only thing I know about American Idol is that a New Jersey chick has hot pictures on the internet and she really cannot sing well, but our need to keep a fellow NJer in the competition is vital (anyone with the web site url please email me so I can do my research).

Though disappointed my opinion really did not count, I soothed my ego with mass quantities of the BV Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon and lemmingly went along with the professional decorator’s opinion.  It is great to see Wino Paul participating in bolstering the US economy by finally putting something back into the system.  I hope it will continue, it might just bring the national debt to zero and his grandmother would be proud her Communion gift went to a good cause.

March 3, 2007

After a long haul to York, Pa and back yesterday, I came home and needed a boost.  The air had finally shed its last drop and the blue sky seemed to go forever.  A balmy 55 degrees (Holy shit! Global warming! Global warming!  At least there were mild temperatures in Caldwell, NJ.  I think Illinois was under four feet of snow).  I looked around down the cellar and realized my wine stock is dwindling, no is anemic at best.  Not wanting to open anything that crazy, I took out a bottle of Democrat, Global warming, Pull the Troops Out juice, ah Pinot Noir.  I know I have a lot of studying to do and my mere 5 recent bottles leaves a lot for palate development, but my novice taste buds simply got up and walked out of my mouth from this one.  I was less than, no, I was not at all happy to be tasting this wine.  That is a statement you haven’t heard from me in a very long time.  I do enjoy one of the other wines from the winery that produced this Pinot, but ugh, this one will not be on my reorder list.  I guess sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but that’s what makes this thing interesting.

2004 Echelon Vineyards Pinot Noir  $ (10.99)  Sorry, not one I will be buying again.

March 1, 2007

I was ridiculed Saturday evening at the wine meet up dinner, as a result of Wino Stan informing Caroline that I tailgate at Giant games with wine.  I guess she hasn’t realized that this uber-important wine web site is single-handedly increasing wine consumption at the parking lots of NFL stadiums across the country.  To bolster our position that drinking for hours in sub-zero temperatures in front of a Coleman grill and three shriveled hot dogs is not just for Bud Lite, I turn your attention to one of the latest entries into the wine world.  Yes winos and winettes, the thrice heart attack-plagued, grilled brat-chomping, cigar-puffing, nasty SOB, Coach Iron Mike Ditka, teamed with the Mendocino Wine Company to be at the front of the wine curve for tailgating, just behind the trend setting WinoStuff staff. 

 

 Mike Ditka Wines - Mendocino Wine Company

www.mikeditkawines.com

The Kick Ass Red is a blend (at this point I have not gotten details nor found any in Caldwell) and sells for just under $50.00.  Now I am sure if Caroline and Wino Stan were at a dinner and Coach Ditka told them, “Da wine, Da Tailgating, Da Brats, da only way to go,” they would be enjoying wine at their next game.  If I ever get the opportunity to enjoy some wine with the Coach, I have two burning questions.  In the 1985 Super Bowl, why did you dis Walter Peyton and not allow him the deserved reward of getting into the end zone?  And more importantly, why the girlie Merlot in your portfolio?

If any of you have tasted the Ditka series, let me know.

February 25, 2007

My organizational skills were put to the test last night as Big Bob entrusted me with our local wine meet up group dinner.  Like a father releasing his kid’s bike for the first time without training wheels,  Big Bob ran alongside me as I wobbled along when the restaurant was not prepared for our party at the designated time and last minute changes in seating numbers jockeyed their floor plan.  Fortunately, Big Bob had bottles opened and started entertaining the one table that was ready.

Kevin Shaefer and Dominic Carrea joined us for the dinner and poured out 5 Italian wines for us to try and gain visibility on what they are importing.  The wines consisted of:

2004 Ca’Andrea - 60% Sangiovese/35% Canaiolo Nero/ 5% Merlot

2004 Muda - 70% Sangiovese/ 20% Montepulciano/ 10% Merlot

2003 IL Doge - 90% Sangiovese/ 10% Merlot

2003 Rancore - 80% Sangiovese/ 15% Merlot/ 5% Pinot Noir

2000 Rhea Vino Passito - 50% Trebbiano/ 30% Malvasia/ 20% Grechetto- dessert wine

click here for descriptions of these wines...

At our table, the IL Doge and the Rancore were the hands down favorites, as Wino Stan went from group to group pretending to survey opinions between the two, just so they would keep refilling his glass.  The only saving grace was that he did not try to tamp down his Ca’Andrea with the Muda to soften it, as he has been know to do in the past when something isn’t to his liking.

The dinner menu was set as follows:

Appetizers were served family style and included prosciutto and melon, bruchetta with diced tomato, mozzarella and pesto and spiedino with caper sauce.  I am pretty sure Wino Stan is munching on the spiedino he put in his coat pocket before the busboy cleared the plates for our salad. 

The salad was arugola with shaved parmagian.  The pasta course was cavatelli and broccoli rape, though Kevin should have been penalized during dessert as he only ate the cavatelli and left a mound of the green stuff.

By now each table was sharing the bottles of wine they brought.  Caroline, seated at Big Bob’s table, made the first gesture and swapped out two of their bottles.  Our table was filled with drinkers, not tasters, so we had little to offer in return.  We did manage to send over one Barolo for their Italian Pinot Noir and a Sangiovese.  I thought that was a fair trade but they wanted a bottle to be named later.

The entrée choices were

Veal Verde - veal medallions topped with a pesto cream

Chicken Sorrento - sautéed chicken with prosciutto, mozzarella and brown mushroom sauce

Bass Patata - Chilean sea bass encrusted with shredded potato with an arugola pesto sauce.

I had the bass and it was flavorful.  The food was filling and I had little room for dessert so I doubled up on the dessert wines.  The crowd at our table intermixed conversations on work, wine and what we should do for our next event.  I think I asked this before, but who invited Wino Stan?  The rest of the night was fueled by the sampling of the wines the group brought.  I have what I think is a partial listing of what was shared, enjoyed and finished before the request for me to head to the kitchen and start washing dishes.

1997 Michele Chiarlo Barolo

2005 Di Majo Norante Sangiovese

NV   Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc

2004 Santa Margherita Cabernet Sauvignon

2005 Tiefenbrunner Venezie Pinot Grigio

2001 Dolcetta Di Diano D’Alba

2004 Marquis Philips Shiraz

2002 Hess Select Syrah

2002 Bardo

2003 Carpineto Chianti Classico

Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to sample many of the bottles listed above so I waited until our group was cleared out and I drank from the spill bucket just so I could say I tried them all.  It was a bit had to discern the Pinot Grigio from all those red wines in the spill bucket but I think the Tiefenbrunner is so distinct it showed early on my palate.

I look forward to expanding these events so we can take over more of the restaurant space and extend our conversation without competing with the locals.  See you on the 15th of March.

February 24, 2007

I apologize for this being late, but I was in Tinsel Town for a Geek convention.  One word, downtown Los Angeles near the Staple Center looks like New York City prior to Rudy Giuliani kicking ass and taking names.  I have not seen such aggressive panhandlers since the squeegee guys that would squirt crap on your windshield then offer to clean it off for a small donation.  Second, the restaurant service sucked in the two places I had dinner out.  One, Roy’s, was slow on the delivery of drink orders to the point that two different people came and asked if we needed drinks, both said they’d check and neither delivered.  The second, Engine Company whatever, served myself and two others at my table some mystery fish when we ordered ahi tuna, one of which was raw to the point of uncooked.  It would have been alright if it was tuna but it wasn’t.  I heard a third story from an associate whose dinner was so poor, the owner comp’d their table of nine on everything including the drinks.  Maybe their heads were into the beautiful crowd that would be there upon our departure for the big event of giving Al Gore a 13 inch little man.  No one in our crowd was mistaken for the Hollywood jet set. 

I would like to acknowledge the passing of Joseph Gallo, the Zeppo Marx of the Earnest & Julio Gallo Empire.  Unlike his brothers, Joseph staked his claim in the sweet smell of fermented cheese.  One might even call him the Big Cheese (OK I might be that only one).  In 1967 Joseph broke from the vineyards and entered the world of cattle ranching.  By 1979 he was in the dairy production business and grew his holding.  By 1982 he established the Joseph Gallo Cheese product line and was quickly brought into a nasty trademark infringement lawsuit by his older brothers as they feared his cheese would confuse people buying wine.  He didn’t call his cheese products Earnest & Julio Gallo Cheese, he simply used his name.  E&J didn’t want their jug wine sullied by a high quality dairy product.  Until this point, Joseph had been selling grapes from his own property to his brothers.  Wow, think about that. (I am trying to work in a cut-the-cheese reference because it always cracks me up, but sadly I can’t mold any of this tragedy into one amusing sentence about cutting the cheese.  Damn it!  LA has zapped me of my funny).

To the surviving family members of Joseph Gallo who could not use his own name on his own product, our sincere sympathy goes out for your loss.  That’s a Gouda way to put it, ah? 

February 18, 2007

Frightening morning.  A hungover, more than usually grumpy Wino Rocker was passed out on the couch. The old man can’t rebound from a three bottle night like he used to.  Now I know what Mrs. Franklin saw when Ben first woke up.  No, not him feverously working on the creation of a living document that would forever assemble the greatest nation in the world.  No, she saw a bed-head ponytail.  Like the 1700’s, Wino Rocker is willing to work for grog, actually wine and some food.  I needed to move a piece of furniture out of the house yesterday and called upon the only person whose schedule is flexible.  He volunteered with the friendly reminder that he enjoyed helping due to the wine pay-off after the task was complete.  Three bottles and a Forte’s hot sandwich later, I’m thinking it might be cheaper to hire professional riggers.

The three bottles don’t count the warm up which was the finishing of a bottle I opened the night before.  He left this morning swearing off alcohol forever.  I give him a week and he’ll be right back at it, firing up a cigar and thinking to himself, "boy I could use a nice glass of wine right now, I wonder if Wino Bob has any furniture to move or wood to chop."  The move was complicated by the snice that was on the sidewalks.  Snice is snow that has been packed or partially-melted then frozen by the current unglobal warming temperatures.  Which reminds me, I ‘m working on a documentary called, "The Inconvenience of the Inconvenient Truth - The Art of Cooling the Planet from Higher Average Temperatures."  It will feature me driving down to Camden, NJ with a rectal thermometer, as Camden is the asshole of the Garden State.  I say that only because it has the highest murder rate in the country.

We were carrying this bulky piece of furniture and had to crest a snice mound to get to a pathway.  WR cleared the first undulation like Olympic Hurdler Renaldo “Skeets” Nehemiah (look that up in famous people from NJ) but unlike Skeets, Wino Rocker slid on his ass, furniture pressing against his chest and me laughing hard enough to feel momentary loss of bladder control.  OK, I owed him some wine.

1997 Sierra Vista Zinfandel El Dorado $ (15.99)    Flush with raspberry, dark cherry fruit and a peppery finish at 14.5% alcohol making this a very enjoyable beverage.

2002 Kolobarra Hills Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon $ (10.99)   You will find blackberry and cedar all over this wine with an under layer of cassis making this a perfect wine for Passover. 

February 16, 2007

Last night, the Essex County Wine Society was treated to a formal presentation on Port by Robert Bower.   Robert's credentials simply are seven generations of port wine coursing through his veins.

Robert M.S. Bower
Brand Manager
The Fladgate Partnership

Robert Maurice Syndercombe Bower was born on the 3rd of June, 1975, in Oporto, Portugal. Raised in Portugal until he was 8 years old, he was then sent to England to continue his education. After Eton College he went on to Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, in London. At Imperial he graduated in Biology and, a year later, obtained a Masters in Molecular Biology and Virology.

After leaving university he worked for 3 years in Cambridge for the pharmaceutical company, Novartis, thereafter he decided to return to his true passion of port wine. Before returning to Portugal, he continued his education with marketing, language and wine tasting courses, both in the United Kingdom and France.

Robert Bower joined the port wine industry in the Spring of 2001. He is now the 7th generation of the Yeatman line through his grandmother to be involved with port wine. His responsibilities encompass the management of the Fladgate Partnership portfolio in the United States.

Port, due to its higher alcohol content and sweetness, has been a challenge for me.  I don’t think I have tasted 9 ports to date, but last night we tasted 9 in two hours.  Robert provided a wealth of technical information in a refreshingly humorous fashion.  I will honestly say I know more about port now than I did several hours ago.

We broke the flights into three distinctions, the first three wines were ruby ports, the next two were tawny and the final four were vintage.  I have only tasted tawny port after dinner so having the opportunity to learn about ruby and vintage port gave me an education I would not have sought on my own.  Several items I took away from the night are:  prior to 1993, all port producers had to buy their distilled spirit from the Portuguese government.  I need not give my opinion on government’s ability for quality, but one fifth of the end product was manufactured with a component made by the lowest bidder.  Currently the Taylor Fladgate lines use a clear grape based spirit from the Cognac region of France at 141 proof (affectionately called fire water), greatly improving the consistency and quality of the end product.  Also, the wooden barrels used in producing tawny port only provide breathability (oxidation) to the aging process, not to impart flavor.  There is a barrel from the mid 1800’s still being used to age their tawny.

Flight #1

Fonseca Bin 27

Croft Distinct

Taylor-Fladgate LBV 2000

My table mates and I were very impressed with the LBV as it showed more complexity and a smooth, silky finish at around $25.00 this is a nice wine.

Flight #2

Delaforce Eminence 10 year old Tawny

Taylor-Fladgate 20 year old Tawny

The 10 year showed a citrus orange rind presentation, but the 20 year was heaven; more mature, more robust and more body.

Flight #3

Fonseca Vintage 1983

Fonseca Vintage 1997

Taylor-Fladgate Vintage 2003

Croft Vintage 2003

The 1983 showed flavors of coffee and chocolate which reminded me of a great compliment to a 'death by chocolate' dessert.  The 1997, Robert said, was in a dumb phase.  Fortunately Big Bob explained this in my Burgundy tutorial so I was the snarky pedant that explained what this meant to my fellow table mate tasters.  Out of the two 2003s, I leaned to the flavors provided in the Taylor Fladgate over the more subtle Croft. 

At the end of the evening, we received the pricing which forced me to finish the 1983 Vintage and the TF 2003, at $135 and $106 respectively.  It would have been an insult to Mr. Bower and his seven generations if I left, or God forbid, spilled out the nectar.

February 16, 2007

The PSE&G man just left and I was huddled next to the clanking radiator and the hurricane lamp trying to defrost, the phone lines warmed enough to allow an in coming call.

Wine News, (dot-dot-doot-doot-doot-dot-dot) I got a call from my good friend (mate) the Wine Wonder from Down Under, Justice George.  He told me he had just come in from the vineyard to get out of their 100 degree heat, stripped down to his down unders, then thought to ring me up.  (Jesus, I just got that visual, I’m going blind, ahhhhhh...!!!)  Actually we haven’t spoken in a long time, my fault.  He wanted me to know that this vintage will be stunning, my kind of big, bold red.  The intense summer with little rainfall has yields down, but the smaller stressed fruit is forceful in flavor.  As he described his impressions, spittle actually dripped from my mouth onto the phone mouth piece.  The good Justice will be touring the USA late April and I look forward to having dinner with him.

After we hung up, I had the thought that I am confident one day JG and WinoStuff will have a joint winery in the deep, recesses of the wilds in New Jersey.  What better place for him to continue his legal-based brand extending the Guilty and the Innocent to NJ brands like:

Repeat Offender Pinot Noir

You Won’t Testify if You Know What’s Good for Your Family Chardonnay

Sleeping with the Fishes Riesling

RICO Red Blend

Mistrial Merlot

Slip and Fall Lawyer Syrah

Hung Jury Gewürztraminer

Acquittal Albarino

I am looking forward to our label design meetings.  Thanks for the call, George.  My best to the family and bring over enough wine for me to rack up as I think it will be several years for this vintage to develop in the bottle.  And remember, with fruit that intense, don’t be afraid of the oak.

February 15, 2007

I am sitting here as the temperature inside my dank third floor room plummets below the temps outside.  Don’t ask me how that is possible but these old homes have a unique draft system that chills to the bone.  Yes, my clunker of a heater is on the fritz and PSE&G will be here sometime between 3pm and midnight, nothing better for the predicted storm.  Only my larger joints work at this point and my breath is fogging the monitor of my laptop.  Trying to calm from the expletive tirade I showered the automatic answering system with, I clicked on The Google and investigated the world of wine through a plethora of search phrases. 

Eliminating the specifics, one thing struck me as I sifted through the geoducks of wine blogs. 

geoduck clam The Chinese delicacy Geoduck pronounced gooey-duck. Wow

There are many web sites touting themselves as the most read, most awarded, most recognized wine web site.  OK, I’m interested.  Then I started to look at the number of comments left under the short blurb that is used to pique one to click and read on.  What got me was the number of highly positioned sites where many entries had zero, null, nada, nicht responses.  So I started to wonder if a blog falls in the forest and no one comments, is it really a blog?  I don’t blog, I say stupid things that amuse me and sometimes people email me in agreement or not…mostly not.  So what are the rules regarding “a blog”?  If one posts an innocuous statement about a wine they had or a wine label they saw or a place they ate, and then they leave an area for readers comments but no one comments or a single comment is not responded to, is that Blogging?

I wish it would snow, so I could warm up by shoveling.  This internets thing has way too much stuff on it.  From the non-blogging Wino Bob, hey what do you think of the changing climate’s effect on Iceland as a future red grape producing region?

Comments?  Anyone?  Buehler???

February 14, 2007

As you know, our own WinoWally is a scratch golfer, avid golf fan and attendee of the majors.  So, it is only fitting that we bolster his golf/wine love affair with this exciting bit of news.  But it might actually be Sometimes A Winette Sharon, whom I assume is a fan of the LPGA, that is doing more to bind the ties of wine consumption and golf.  The most exciting news is the impact that WinoStuff.com has had on wine consumption among NFL fans.  Clearly, the Wino John-Wino Bob tailgating with wine over the past year accounts for this 63% increase. 

I am expecting to hear from the NFL commissioner regarding the single most influential impact our site has had in stadium parking lots all over the country.  I see a luxury box at the Super Bowl heading our way next year.

Hole in one? Cheers. Golf fans drink most wine: study

         NEW YORK, Feb 8 (Reuters Life!) - Fans of women's golf are the biggest wine drinkers among sports fans in the United States, according to figures released on Thursday.

A study by market researcher Nielsen found wine consumption among U.S. sports fans increased to $81.40 in 2006, which was up $14.60 from 2005 which was in line with increasing consumption of wine in the United States.

But results also indicated that this increase in wine spending was slightly stronger among avid fans and certain fan bases among 12 different groups.

Households with at least one fan of the Ladies Professional Golf Association spent almost $125 on wine in 2006, which was up 17 percent over the year -- overtaking fans of men's golf.

Tennis fans came in second with wine consumption in households with at least one tennis fan rising nearly 20 percent in 2006 to $111.9 a household.

Fans of the PGA came in third, down from leading the pack in 2005, spending nearly 30 percent more on wine last year at $109.40 a household.

But the biggest gain in 2006 was among NFL Football fans who spent over 63 percent more on wine over the year at $94.30 per household.  (Editor's note:  $94 per year on wine???  I spill more wine than that on my couch every year!!!)

Retail spending on wine in the United States grew seven percent last year from 2005 to $8.4 billion, according to the study.

A study commissioned by the organizers of the VinExpo trade fair in Bordeaux last June recently projected that the United States is set to overtake France in the next five years as the world's largest wine market.

Karen Ross of the California Wine Growers Association said company innovation and Americans' acceptance of wine over time explained the growing popularity of wine among sports fans.

She said age and image played a role in wine's appeal.

"Part of it is growing up with parents and grandparents who had wine with dinner," said Ross.

2004 Finca Flichman Paisaje de Tupungato $ (9.99)  Smooth blend of 60% Malbec, 20% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon gives this wine depth and complexity. 

February 13, 2007

Having dinner with the Wino Rockers last night, I was taken back to a fond childhood memory.  A time when youthful indiscretion was worn as a badge of courage, a time when fear was not an option, a time when Cathy Doris dared me to eat paste.  Yes, I was in first grade, doing a small group project near Christmas time and our class had to make a construction paper, red and green chain link to dress the tree in the school foyer.  The smell of white gradeschool paste is burned into my olfactory senses and last night, as I swirled, sniffed and swallowed the cabernet sauvignon that Wino Rocker bellied up for our BYOW dinner at Sophia’s Restaurant in North Caldwell, the flavors of blackberry, licorice and grade school white paste rushed into my head.  It was a good year for glue and this edible, non-toxic stuff had invaded this Stags leap District Cabernet Sauvignon.  Maybe they purchased new barrels and the cooper used Elmer’s wood glue to hold the staves together.  I am not sure, but when Wino Rocker told me to taste the wine because there was an undertone of something he couldn’t quite explain, I knew the boy had come a long way in his wine appreciation.  Nicely done WR in finding the odd flavor.  Next time, don’t be a cheap bastard and buy a more expensive wine.

The topper of the night was that the erstwhile Wino Rocker picked up the tab, pissing me off royal as he didn’t let me know before hand and I slid through dinner on what I thought I could afford.  God Damn it, Cartman, if you told me before, I would have gotten the dark side of the moon dessert special.  It was funny to see Benjamin Franklin as a self portrait on the paper note the old man pulled from his pocket vault.

2004 Block 713 Cabernet Sauvignon SLD Napa Valley $$ (19.99)  I give it one school pastes as it did have some nice black fruit up front and licorice flavors but the grammar school paste finish ruined it for me.

February 11, 2007

If you are like me..., no forget that..., why should you be that miserable?  I don’t even really know you.  What I meant to say is that if your ultimate in wine is to someday have your own vineyard, label, import business, etc., the opportunity below may be up your alley.  There is a company offering me, or you, the chance to take part in the fast growing region of Mendoza, Argentina.  For $40,000.00 per acre and a commitment of at least 4 acres, you get to be the boss.  Get involved in as much or as little as you would like from the variety of plantings, to when to harvest, to oak or not.  Wino John, how much is in the checking account?  (Editor's note:  We could afford about 4 square feet...)

So, I am looking for 159,995 people to share in this experience with me as my check for my share is burning a hole in my pocket as I sit here and type.  We are just around the corner from WinoStuff Magical Red Wine Elixir, for each bottle of wine you purchase we will include one bottle of Winostuff Magical Red Wine Stain Removing Elixir.  Now that is marketing at its best. 

OWN A VINEYARD & MAKE YOUR OWN WINE

The Vines of Mendoza Private Vineyard Estates

Mendoza, Argentina is one of the foremost winegrowing regions in the world. With more and more top-ranked reserve wines emerging every year, the 500-year-old culture of winemaking in Argentina has created a fantastic community of winemakers and wineries in this small city in the shadow of the Andes. With 300+ days of sunshine per year, a climate that assures virtually zero risk from pests or disease, and a terroir that produces bold, fruity wines, many large international wineries have placed their multi-million dollar projects among the nearly 900 local wineries that have been making low-yield boutique wines for centuries. The result is a mix of old and new, tradition and technology that established Mendoza the most exciting wine-making region of the next 25 years.

The Vines of Mendoza Private Vineyard Estates gives select individuals and organizations the opportunity to own their own professionally managed vineyard in the Uco Valley of Mendoza, Argentina a stone's throw from Michel Rolland's multi-million dollar Clos de los Siete project, a few kilometers from Catena Zapata's new high-altitude vineyard, and adjacent to the award-winning Lurton winery.

Each four to twelve acre parcel will be planted with varietals chosen by the owner, with vines hand-selected by our experienced enologists. Within three years each vineyard will produce 2,500 to 10,000 bottles of high quality, low-yield wine. Throughout the process, from planting to harvest to fermentation to oak to bottle, our enologists will work with the owner every step of the way to ensure that the wine produced will be exactly to the specifications and taste of the owner. For owners that wish to bottle less than their total production capacity, excess wine is sold to subsidize the quarterly maintenance fee in part or full.

Private Vineyard owners will have the opportunity for complete access to our state-of-the-art winery, with a private cellars to store their reserve wine in a secure, temperature controlled environment until it is shipped to them anywhere in the world. They will also have access to our exclusive 5-star resort adjacent to the property (to open in 2008), and discounted rates for accommodations at the resort. We will provide regular updates on the status of the grapes and the wine in production as well as a wide variety of additional services that range from bottling, labeling, import/export, and logistics of shipping wine anywhere in the world, to managing construction of a private chateau amongst the vines.

For more information on this limited opportunity, please contact David Garrett at 877-638-8502 or email dave(at)vinesofmendoza.com.

February 10, 2007

Well I am pleased to see that there was a very good response to the upcoming Wine Meetup.  Our dinner will be at Italianissimo’s in West Caldwell.  There are different members coming that I haven’t met to date.  Oh, did I mention, Air America is being sold for three cents on the dollar and Al Franken is ending his show this coming week?  Please see my New Years predictions. 

I do like to keep you readers informed so I wanted to break this news here first, before the Sunday news cycle.  I, Wino Bob, am the true father of Anna Nicole Smith’s daughter.  Yes, if you have heard any of her interviews, Anna was a big Wino and was really looking forward to enjoying some 2005 California Cabernet Sauvignons since they are getting such acclaim in all reviews.  I promised her, I would keep our special cabernet baths a secret.  It was truly meant to be just a fun, wine lover’s friendship, platonic and all that.  I will admit that her weight and strength did outclass me and, as you can imagine, Anna gets what Anna wants.  You might see news coverage as I head down to the clinic for a DNA test, once and for all putting to rest that Howard K Stern is the father.  Boy, I will miss hearing Anna try and pronounce Beaujolais and Cabinet Sav-in-yawl as she so playfully called it.  She will be missed….hey does anyone have Lindsey Lohan’s phone number?  I understand she is a big Pinot fan.

Did you hear, Al Franken is fleeing Air America before all the money from Gloria Wise is paid back to the boys and girls club so underprivileged youths will have important opportunities this coming summer?  I hear he has no guilt about screwing the kids but I do look forward to some ass hat journalist asking him about it during his campaign run.

I know that I only dabble in the occasional microbrew, but I was wondering if anyone more beer-educated could tell me if they have beer tasting rooms, or retail shops that offer beer tastings?  I know you can tour a brewery and sample that brewery’s beer, but I have yet to see any stores in my area offer a beer tasting as they do with wines.  Many local shops will have a distributor in and set out a selection of wines to sample as you browse, but I have not seen the same for beer.  Is there a prejudice here against the beer lovers?  I have tasted and read about some pretty complex microbrews and would look forward to sampling them in a small cup and listen to someone informatively describe what I am enjoying.  Or not.  

Did you know Al Franken signed for a guaranteed 2 million dollar contract last year even though AAR was in financial difficulty?  I wonder if that had anything to do with the bankruptcy?

While on the beer subject, I was hanging ten on the Google the other day and came across this web site, www.thebeerbelly.com.  Yes, obesity in America has found it's niche.  This company developed a pouch with straws that men can wear underneath a t-shirt that holds 80 oz. of liquid.  So one can slosh their way up to the pat down at a stadium and pass through the security check and proceed to get hammered at 30% the cost of stadium beer.  I wonder what the legal liability is on that.  The company offers other suggestions for use, like kayaking, sitting on a plane or snowboarding.  See earlier comment.  For $34.95, you can inject 80 oz of your favorite vice under the watchful eye of the crowd around, and miracle of all, you will lose visible weight.  Pay no attention to the staggering drunk.  Look how in just 3 hours he lost his beer belly and looks like an ectomorph.  Fret not ladies, these guys have thought of you to with their “wine rack”.  Yes, the cleavagely-challenged can now sport a double D walking into a concert, share your liquid boobage and go home flat chested, alone, and drunk.  I am thinking of suing them for discrimination.  If they think I am donning a wine chest and walking around giants stadium with double D hooters just to sneak in a pinot noir…  What the f%@& am I thinking? You never drink Pinot at a football game!  Wino Law…..

Did you know that on the 14th of February, the lowly rated Al Franken show will be off the air, and I’ll drink to that, even out of some woman’s wine rack.

February 4, 2007

Super Bowl Sunday, the big game, football at its finest.  I don’t know a great deal about the finer points in football, but I am looking at this game from a fan's point of view.  At this point in his development, it is only sensible that the Colts, led by Payton Manning, end this game with a ring.  The experience, the post game showings and the professionalism of the leader for the Colts give the sentimental and professional nod to the Manning clan.  I just hope that Payton wins and retires to act as a quarterback coach for the younger and less talented brother.  I imagine that Eli was the recipient of many of pantsing or knuggies  from his older sibling or the townspeople.  Underlying this hope is a win for the classy and underrated Archie Manning.  Only time will tell but in this one, since no NY team is participating, we look to get the monkey off the back of the Colts.

Feb 5- Unfortunately, I never got back to this so it didn’t get posted in time and might look like I waited for the outcome then back filled the interest in the Colts.  Truth be told, once the local NY teams were out of the playoffs, football holds little interest.  Congrats to Payton and the crew in Indie.  Now Archie can spend all his time in NJ making sure Eli gets rid of his nervous feet, lack of stepping into his throws and his inability to check down like his older brother.  We want nothing less than back to back Manning brother Super Bowl victories so the pressure may just send Eli out of the tri state area if this coming season doesn’t work out.

So you know, I did not try the Pinot on Super Bowl Sunday that was a compliment to a dinner I had with Big Bob last week.  I went with the testosterone-lined Zinfandel.  I know I am one to espouse drink what you like and forget the pairing rules, but Pinot and football will never be served in my presence.  Anyone know what’s playing at NJPAC next weekend?

2005 Vina San Pedro, Pinot Noir, Castillo di Molina Reserva, Lontue Valley $ (10.99) I still am not getting the pinot thing but Chile doesn’t seem to be the answer.

2005 Rosenblum Cellars Vintners Cuvee XXVIII Zinfandel $ (11.99) A jammy dark cherry and raspberry manly wine with 14.6% alcohol and a spicy finish.  Nice compliment to a football game.

February 3, 2007

Politics at its best
Wine and Politics at www.winostuff.com

In what is now termed as "doing a McGreevey", talk show host Al Franken did him..., ahhh..., one.  Under the veiled excuse of thinking about running for Senate in 2008, Al is stopping his radio show on Air America.  Just a question, why stop this far in advance especially if you are going to be thinking about running?  Can’t you think and do a radio show, obviously not bolstered by the dismal ratings and losses of syndicates across the country.  Seems running a business like a 503C political action committee is not a strong enough plan to support a 2 million dollar a year salary.  Franken’s rabid loyalty to the Democratic party stems from his living off wealthy people’s donations to AAR that funded his guaranteed compensation.  We call it welfare for the wealthy.  

Franken’s motto is cleaning up the Senate from corruption, that is why he boasted at a fund raiser last week that his first order of business if elected would be to investigate himself over the Gloria Wise money scandal.  “I believe corruption cleaning starts at home.  So I have to look no farther than my office to prove to the good people of Minnesota that I will keep my campaign pledge.”  He later went on to say that during a brief interview with himself he found out that he actually is the result of a one night love affair of two famous Hollywood actors.  Being born out of wedlock deepens his roots with the DNC.  If he is to be elected, he needs to vet himself and reveal that his parents are actually Howdy Dowdy and Sheri Lewis' side kick, Lambchop.  This union makes him a perfect Democrat candidate, his sheepish smile and wooly locks make him appealing to the women and his puppet strings guarantee him a Democrat committee chairmanship in congress……developing...

To soothe the sting of harpooning himself in his own white underbelly, Senator Joe “Misspeak” Biden is on a country wide tour to talk directly to his voting population to explain his time frozen views of Black politicians.  His first stop was the recovering city of New Orleans where Biden visited restaurants and shops, enjoyed Creole and declared the city of New Orleans clean and articulate.

In other news, Senator John Kerry called at press conference at Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston to declare it has been two weeks since his announcement he is not running for President and he is still not running.  Kerry went on to say that it is just this firm commitment we need from our leadership in these turbulent times.  He stated he is the most qualified candidate not running and his views most align with the American people.  Contrasting himself to all the other flip flopping candidates who, when asked several weeks ago if they were running they said they weren’t, only to turn around and announce they are running.  Kerry stands squarely behind his decision.  Next month Senator Kerry has planned another press conference at the Old North Church.

2003 Ferrari Carano Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley $$ (21.00) Nice depth with a generous amount of black cherry, plum and currant with a lingering finish.  Great price on this one.

January 28, 2007

Shaking like a new alter boy when summoned to the rectory, I was suffering from the FWs (football withdrawal) on the dead weekend between the championship games and the Super Bowl.  So I sat down in front of the TV, red wine in hand and watched a show on black holes.  No, I do not have the Playboy channel, it was a theory posed by Stevie Hawking that black holes eventually disappear, thus upsetting the scientific community wondering where the matter sucked into the black hole goes if the black hole disappears.  As we all know if matter disappears then eventually we all will disappear.  There are 100s of millions of black holes in our galaxy sucking up matter and soon I will be sucked into a black hole and disappear too.  Look I was just killing time until the HBO documentary, Rome, started; a series where wine and women and debauchery were a lifestyle.  My companion was a saucy red from Chile, unlike Stephen who, though bound to a wheelchair, had a wife, then an affair with one of his nurses.  I guess some chicks dig a guy with a computer generated rap, oh baby-oh baby.

I understand the Wine Meetup’s Burgundy 101-104 was a very successful outing.  It was so successful that Big Bob has asked me to organize the next.  He wants to go out on top.  I wonder if the group will show up if I require them to all bring a bottle of wine, some vegetable oil and a camera.   Look, I teach wine my own way…

I have put some thoughts together and, within the next few days, I will get things in perspective so stay tuned.

You know that I think everything I write is worthy of comment and discussion, but it shocked me to see that my recent comments on squirrel pot pie excited the masses.  I honestly did not know that squirrel was such a staple for the WinoStuff directors.  I guess I need to trap some of the obnoxious rodents nesting in my oaks.  As a matter of fact, I am starting to feel a bit hungry right now.    

2003 Mont Gras Quatro $15.99 I like this blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, carmenere and malbec bringing blackberry, coffee and cassis to my palate and a tannic backbone.

January 27, 2007

Something not heard everyday in NJ, but heard this week on the only radio station for NJ, NJ 101.5.  "Warning, people of Sussex County, refrain from eating large quantities of squirrel, they are testing high for lead."  The lead is believed to be the result of years of dumping by Ford Motor Company in a labyrinth of mines in Sussex County.  I failed to realize that squirrel was such a sought after culinary treat in Sussex County, NJ.  Which leads me to the obvious question, will Pinot Noir go well with squirrel?  If so, am I looking for a masculine or feminine Pinot?  And how does one prepare the rodent with a fuzzy tail for consuming?  I know a wino living in Sussex County.  I should ask him if he has enjoyed a special glass of Drouhin’s finest with his squirrel stew, or roast, or pot pie.  Thinking back to the massive rib roast that boy ate when we were at Wino Mike’s, I’m thinking there has to be a bunch of squirrels in the pot to feed that growing boy.  This leaves me little room to make fun of West Virginians.

January 24, 2007

A quiet evening with the TV watching the State of the Union as history was made when the word Madame replaced Mister in addressing the Speaker of the House.  Agree or not, it was an historic moment and every cable channel flogged it to death for the 2 hours before the speech.  The content of the speech had little effect positively or negatively.  There is no bipartisanship as both sides are dug in to make their opponents look bad in the eyes of the public.  I watch for reaction shots as the growing list of Presidential hopefuls try to convey their platform with the raise of an eyebrow or the curl of the lip.   

I do want to bring up one issue, as the news has been orgasming over Hillary Clinton’s throwing her pant suit into the ring,  I have seen Ms. Clinton on many shows.  What strikes me is the drastic contrast between her face and her neck.  I know when her opponent in the recent race brought up the fact that she has had work done, her press people denied it.  Look at someone you know, compare their face with their neck, they change accordingly.  Ms. Clinton’s neck seems to be out distancing her face by twelve years of aging.  Credibility to keep an eye on….

2003 Miguel Torres Carmenere Reserva Curico Valley    I found this wine more flavor than fruit with dominant black pepper, licorice and spice flavors out-muscling the blackberry flavor that lurked in the background.

January 20, 2007

My recent silence was caused by a necessary trip to Las Vegas for geekdom.  Unlike WJ’s recent trip, I did not get to see any of the latest cool electronics technology ready to storm the market, nor the players in the multi-billion dollar adult industry.  Both events stormed Vegas the week before my arrival.  I was stuck in a pre-arranged hotel buffet meeting of the same salmon and beef every night.  They offered one red, a Geyser Peak low end cabernet that served it purpose of getting me through senseless dinner table conversation. 

There was a bit of exciting news for the staff at www.winostuff.com.  After months of intense negotiations and product evaluation, our Magical Red Wine Stain Removing Elixir will be carried by a major wine outlet, the good folks at Bottle King.  Yes, in what might be considered a job-jeopardizing move, the executives at the multiple location wine store has agreed to proximately and aggressively promote our highly effective, but goofily named stain remover.  The boys at the NASA lab will be excited to know their efforts were finally recognized. 

So I humbly ask you good people to frequent our associates at your local Bottle King and help save the jobs of the people that committed to put our product on their shelves. 

Listed below are the BK store locations:

Wayne 

1950 Route 23 North 

(973) 872-2332 

show map

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm
Sun 11am-5pm 

Email: wayne@bottleking.com

 

Glen Ridge 

710 Bloomfield Ave. 

(973) 748-5033 

show map

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm
Sun 12pm-5pm 

Email: glenridge@bottleking.com

 

Glen Rock 

924 Prospect Street 

(201) 652-2690 

show map

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm
Sun 12pm-5pm 

Email: glenrock@bottleking.com

 

Hillsborough 

626 US Highway 206 

(908) 904-9090 

show map

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm
Sun 12pm-5pm 

Email: hillsborough@bottleking.com

 

Hillsdale 

Kings Supermarket Center
381 Washington Ave. 

(201) 722-9400 

show map

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm
Sun 12pm-5pm 

Email: hillsdale@bottleking.com

 

Livingston 

19 S. Livingston Ave. 

(973) 740-0711 

show map

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm
Sun 12pm-5pm 

Email: livingston@bottleking.com

 

Mansfield 

89 Route 57 

(908) 684-0822 

show map

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm
Sun 10:30am-5pm 

Email: mansfield@bottleking.com

 

Morris Plains 

Routes 10 & 202 

(973) 285-1226 

show map

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm
Sun 12pm-6pm 

Email: morrisplains@bottleking.com

 

Ramsey 

476 Route 17 North 

(201) 934-9080 

show map

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm
Sun 12pm-5pm 

Email: ramsey@bottleking.com

 

Ledgewood Bottle King 

260 Route 10 

Succasunna, NJ 07876 

(973) 584-1118 

show map

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm
Sun 10am-5pm 

Email: ledgewood@bottleking.com

 

Chatham Bottle King 

41 Watchung Ave.

Chatham Borough, NJ 07928 

(973) 635-2200 

show map

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm
Sun 12am-5pm 

Email: chatham@bottleking.com

 

Parsippany Bottle King 

799 Route 46 East

Parsippany, NJ 07054 

(973) 402-1300

show map

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm
Sun 12am-6pm 

Email: parsippany@bottleking.com

 

Middletown 

1050 Route 35 

Middletown, NJ 07748 

(732) 615-2400 

show map

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm
Sun 12am-5pm 

Email: middletown@bottleking.com

 

 

 

January 17, 2007

Last night, I sprained my wine muscle.  You know, when you try to run without warming up, you eventually pull something and it hurts for a few days.  Big Bob was in the area last night so we grabbed dinner at a local BYOB.  I brought along a Pinot offering and Mr. Big Pinot flashed one of his Burgundies.  In my premature imbibing, I grabbed a glass, opened my California Pinot and started sipping and swishing and slurping, looking for big bold flavors and fruity bomb and dark cherry and then I pulled up lame, right out of the blocks.  I didn’t even get to the turn.

At that point, the elder statesman took over and began what will be a year’s journey for me to relearn they way I approach wine evaluations now that Pinot Noir has plighted my year.  Yes, a more methodical approach is necessary, so Big Bob made me, uhhh, he told me we had to compare Pinots, right there in the restaurant.  He wanted to see what color my Pinot was versus his, what he called the 'bigger Pinot".  He made me handle his Pinot and smell it and compare it to mine.  Then, before I could actually taste his, he made me look vine row by vine row through a map of Burgundy and explain that even within the Pinot society there are sides and you never want to be caught on the wrong side.

I selected a Pinot from Carneros as that was a region Kevin Zraly touted during my education phase.  Big Bob’s Pinot was a Clos de Mouches from his JD collection.  We both ended up ordering grilled lamb chops and the California Pinot was just too one dimensional for the savory grilled meat.  He then told me I was experiencing the "dumb phase".  I know, I admit that I know little about Pinot Noir but to blatantly call me dumb was a bit unkind.  He went on to explain he was referring to his wine, not me, though I think he felt it fit both of us. 

This morning I got an email with this explanation:

dumb phase

Though the term dumb is sometimes used as a synonym for CLOSED, it really has a more complex meaning. The dumb phase of a wine (generally red) is that period of transition from its youth to maturity. Shortly after bottling, a wine may be luscious, with rich, ripe aromas and flavors. However, after a certain period of time (usually several months), such a wine may begin to close down-the fruit begins to decrease before the complexities of maturity have fully developed. The combination of declining fruit and pre-emergent complexity cancel each other out, creating a wine that simply doesn't taste very good. VINTNERS have no idea what causes this phenomenon but do agree that the time frame for this dumb phase, which can last for several years, is completely unpredictable. The dumb phase of a wine is also referred to as the flat spot or the awkward, transformational, or adolescent phase.

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE WINE LOVER'S COMPANION, by

Burgundy

I have some learning to do this year and I will not really do the Burgundy thing too fast, or too soon, so I can appreciate what he thinks is so great about this flighty grape.  I do have to work at this, and seeing the pricing of most Pinots, it will be a tough year.

2005 Schug Carneros Estates Pinot Noir $ (19.99)   A red fruit, cherry and spice wine with not much depth or complexity and a short finish.

2001 Joseph Drouhin Clos de Mouches Beaune 1er Cru $$ (50.00)   An earthy nose with dark cherry, licorice and smoke on the palate, offering a depth and length that stood up well to grilled, seasoned lamb chops.

January 14, 2007

The only comfort I had this weekend in the football playoff realm was watching the Eagles come up short against the New Orleans Saints.  It would be nice to see Seattle beat Chicago and the NFC championship game in the city of jazz and Creole and hurricanes (real and in the glass).  Today I decided to begin the first step in over coming my Pinotphobia (fear of becoming a feminine, fleshy Democrat).  I made a trip to Costco and picked through the wine bins for a Pinot Noir.  I am not ready for the nuanced Burgundies so I went totally new school with a bottle from New Zealand.  I figured I have to do the things I did when I began this journey and that is try things from all over to start building a knowledge base.  It would be easy for me to go out and buy some expensive, well-known Burgundians but what will that really tell me.  I oxymoronically drank Pinot while I watched football.  I bet those two activities have never been done together in the 100 years that football has been around.

  

The New Zealand climate is favorable for the cooler climate this grape wants.  But what might be the biggest advantage that NZ brings is that they were late to the table with Pinot Noir and had time to learn what could make this cranky cepage.  Taking talent from the foreign investors and winemakers that were successful in Pinot heavens, NZ is benefiting from experience, clones, personnel and God given conditions.  By dumb luck, I grabbed a bottle from the Martinborough region.  This region has been producing a...

(Editor's note:  I don't know where WinoBob was going with this.  His sentence just stopped after "This region has been producing a ".  The Pinot must have muddled his otherwise crystal clear thought processes.  Yeah, right.) 

About Martinborough

The wine region of Martinborough is located at the foot of New Zealand's North Island at a latitude of 40 degrees south. Here, a happy coincidence of geology and geography has created the perfect climate and terrain for Pinot Noir and aromatic wines.

The stone-filled river terraces are free-draining while the topsoils vary from slope to slope. The mountains protect us from harsh elements and we enjoy long dry days and cool nights. The vines grow less vigorously in the cool, breezy conditions, so yields are lower and the flavours more intense. Our long dry autumns provide the right balance of warm days (creating ripeness) and cool nights (providing elegance) for producing top quality Pinot Noir and other early-ripening varieties. The results speak for themselves – the Martinborough region is known internationally for consistently producing world-class fine wines. www.tekaianga.co.nz

I went on the winery's web page just to see how they described their wine and I was quite excited to read about a big, dark cherry and plum wine with jammy fruit and licorice nose.  Unfortunately, I found a disconnect between my palate and their description.  I know I have to retune my expectations but this one had a discomforting finish.  There seemed to be a citrus-like harshness on the back of my throat that left this anything but elegant.  I think it is a good start to my buildup for December when I will be drinking curvaceous sensual Burgundies.  For now, I will be drinking Pinot with training wheels  

2004 Te Kairanga Runholder Pinot Noir $ (18.99)  If this one had a smooth sexy finish, I would have been very impressed but unfortunately, the brash and tannic quality overran the nuance.

January 10, 2006

As the post nasal dripping is finally shutting off, I had a glass of wine with my London broil last evening.  After dinner I had to research why they call it London broil, especially since I had been in London and didn’t see it on the menu.  I found this description on About.com:

London Broil, despite what you might find at the local meat market is not a cut of beef but rather a method of cooking. It was one of the first recipes to become popular in early restaurants and so the name London Broil because synonymous with a cut of meat. Originally that cut of meat was flank steak, but over the years the name has been applied to almost any cut of beef that is very lean and less tender. Hence you might find London Broil being a steak or a roast that comes from the sirloin or round sections of cattle. This of course makes the whole thing very confusing.

To make matters worse the original method of the London Broil was simply a flank steak; pan fried to medium rare, cut cross grain and served. This method is perfect for a flank steak because it becomes very tough if cooked too long and by cutting it into strips you made it easy for even the dullest of teeth to get through.

Later the method was changed to include marinating the flank steak and then grilling or broiling it. This makes the name make a little more sense. Now the origins get even more confusing. The marinade traditionally used for London Broil has ranged anywhere from a simple mixture of olive oil with salt and pepper to a wide collection of ingredients. You need to remember that chefs in earlier days tended to make mix seasonings, sauces and marinade more from what was on hand than from a specific recipe. To get a good marinade for London Broil try a mixture of soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, ginger, balsamic vinegar and honey. This gives it the basic flavors that make beef great.

So I grilled my cheap cut of marinated flank steak to lessen the toughness and sliced it thinly.  As a companion, I pulled out a cabernet sauvignon left from last year as it would cut through the grilled meat and handle my still phlegm-flavored palate.  I think one more week and the sensitivity will be dialed down enough to begin my venture into Pinotville.  I have a geek trip coming up in Vegas.  No, I was not lucky enough to attend the Consumer Electronics Show this week, but Wino John was and I am sure he was there at the Apple booth speaking with Sir Jobs about logoing his new pocket entertainment device with the WinoStuff insignia.  I am figuring we will be in one or two dinner events that will have a decent wine offering and I may have to warm up with some Pinot.  But for now, I want to drink the heavier, ballzy stuff that will provide flavors through my nasal blockage.

2004 Ex-Libris Cabernet Sauvignon $ (18.99)   If you like fruit up front, here you go, dark cherry and raspberry hit you in the face, but there is a short finish and little else.

January 6, 2007

I am proud to say, after all these years, my Pinot is getting larger.  Come on, with the new world order, that is a positive thing.  Yes, I now can say I possess three bottles of Pinot Noir, two I purchased to begin my educational process and one given to me last night by some friends that stopped over.  With this mucus heavy head cold, I am saving this nuanced, delicate, prissy grape for a time when my sensory receptors can find the subtleties.  I had to rearrange the rack and set aside a slot for the accumulation of these bottles.  Note to WJ, I had an email yesterday from a reader that said we need to take out the scroll that claims “No Girlie Wines” from under our front page logo.  With the naming of Pinot Noir, we have entered the age of girliness.

The guest that delivered the Pinot Noir last night is also a newly elected local politician coming from the party of the Ass.  It makes me wonder if drinking Pinot will turn me into a flaming liberal.  Just look at Big Bob - he's a Burgundian and a Nancy Pelosi sycophant/ John Kerry cheerleader/ Jacque Chirac loyalist.  My friend is a Democrat councilman, Pinot Noir-gifter and Jim McGreevey supporter.  Christ on a cracker, I didn’t think this thing through before naming the GOTY.  If I start liking the PN, will I trade in my Carolina Panther tickets for center stage seats at the NY Ballet?  Breath in and breath out, stay calm, I will need a subset of cab nights to keep from becoming a progressive.  Maybe if I do become a D-D-Democrap, I would like the lowly-rated Chris Matthews show and support the four day Pelosi coronation and defend the Conyers and Jeffersons from indictment.  Question to MSNBC, why do you keep Matthews on the air when he cannot draw a rating that appears on any chart?  I will do the show for half his salary and guarantee twice the ratings.  I would love to interview that guy and ask him one simple question, Chris, you spent all last year reminding us that Americans don’t realize that we are at war and we should be sacrificing financially and feel the strain; then why haven’t you called out the new speaker of the house for carrying on a 4 day cocktail party in celebration of her ascension, while we have troops at war?  

Prediction:  Matthews rating will be down to his "Family and Friends" list on his myspace page by September.

2003 Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon $ (17.99)    A pleasant dark cherry, blueberry with anise and vanilla on the finish.

January 5, 2007

As the milking cow plods from pasture to milk post out of obligatory routine, I headed into the Essex County Wine Society tasting to sit at my milk post.  Unfortunately, my comfort zone, the table of whities ( white badge full members) I have come to know was full.  Crap, in a brief moment, I figured I’d grab a quick warm up wine and head out.  Ah, screw it.  I sat my blue badge ass in an empty table and ate some cheese.  Two other Bluies sat across from me and we did the polite exchange, acknowledging that we were guests and settled in for the ride.  Just as the gavel hit the podium, two whities filled the table so we now were not adrift in wine society without a rudder. 

The tasting consisted of 8 Northern Rhones and the presenter paired wines from three regions, starting at the northern most, Cote Rotie. We compared a 1999 Guigal Brune et Blonde with a 1990 Guigal Brune et Blonde.  I found the 1990 to have turned the corner, slightly brickish in color and lacking the fruit components I look for in the techno-dweebish Guigal offerings.  The 1990 was more a cedar, cigar nose while the 1999 has a black fruit and pepper nose that was much more approachable.

We then compared 4 Hermitage wines, which surprised me.  I would have preferred doing two Hermitage and two Crozes-Hermitage to see if the lesser-distinguished region of Crozes-Hermitage would have given the group something worth discussing.  Being a bluie, I had little say in the matter.  The first two wines were both from Domaine du Colombier; a 1998 and a 2003.  The 2003 showed a spicy, cedary, black cherry offering.  This was the first one of the night I continued drinking while listening to the presenter.  The 1998 first pour at our table was corked, and the second glass had a funk to it that really impeded my enjoyment.  The only thing that came through the funk was a distinguishable cassis aroma; but that funk just had me turned off.

The second set of Hermitage wines were both from Delas Freres Les Bessards, one being a 2003 and the other a 1990.  My tongue went hard when I tasted the 1990, it was rich and jammy and piled with black fruits and a velvety finish that was simply opulent. The 2003, though young showed well and my 3 and 7 glasses were cleaned as I licked down to get every last drop from the bowl.  If I had $169.00 burning a whole in my left pant leg, I would gladly purchase a 1990 and abuse myself with it one night with a nice rosemary-encrusted grilled lamb chop.

We ended our journey in Cornas with a 2003 Alain Voge and a 2001 Auguste Clape.  Interesting, these two had more cherry flavor than the other six which leaned heavier to the black fruit.  The Auguste Clape surprised me as the first taste brought me back to eating a chocolate covered cherry from Holsteins Confectionary.  I would have to say the Les Bessards were my favorite and the Clape was the runner up.  Though my taste buds were looking forward to a  Jaboulet La Chapelle I will take what they gave me, except for the funkified Colombrier.

Next up on the list in a fort-night will be a port night.

January 2, 2007

In what I can describe as a Rip Van Winkle moment, I woke today and realized the world was not the same.  Void from recent entries were comments on the deaths of The Godfather of Soul, James Brown.  His service at the Apollo was flared with sequence, gold casket, MC Hammer, and Michael Jackson kissing him on the forehead.

 Jack Palance, whose imdb credits run two and a half pages, is best remembered for his role in City Slickers and his one-armed push ups. 

The 38th President, Gerald Ford, passed at the age of 94.  History will see that his pardoning of President Nixon was the right thing to do and will overshadow the Chevy Chase mockery of him as a clumsy, bumbling President.  His reverence for the office and decorum as an ex-President should be noted by Carter and Clinton.  I heard that Bill Clinton keeps calling the Georgia State Medical examiner to check on the health of Jimmy.  He is looking forward to center stage for that ceremony.

And finally Saddam was hanged, permanently closing the book on him.  Note to the US legal department:  His appeal process took two days and then the sentence was carried out within days.  They claim it costs us 100,000’s of dollars to put someone to death.  Looked to me from the You Tube video that it cost them about $75.00.  I’d say $10.00 for the black hoods, $5.00 for the rope and $60.00 for the collapsing floor.  Richard Marks is complaining that the same people that used their cell phone to record his tirade were invited to tape the Saddam hanging.  What a technology blast that is!  I cannot get cell coverage at 5pm in north Bergen, but they sent video from a cell phone from some underground bunker in the middle of a war zone. 

Dick Clark might be dead but the execs cannot go without him ringing in the New Year.  When will the man realize he doesn’t need the gig, he has more money than the entire Central American countries combined.  Hey Dick, time to pass the torch. 

But the biggest shock was that WinoStuff.com named Pinot Noir as the Grape of the Year.  Who the hell made that decision?  I need to speak with the board of…..oh, it was me.  Shit.  Yes, for the next 363 days, I will be uneducatedly commenting on Big Bob’s turf.  The power of WinoStuff.com could affect the future of Burgundy pricing, the Oregon and California plantings and the livelihood of Dr. Pinot himself.  I bet there is a series of conference calls running through Dreyfus Ashby right now; "Alert:  Big, tannic, California Cabbies now trying to comment on the delicate, fleshy, feminine Pinot Noir.  Warning, warning Will Robinson.”

I was planning to taste a bottle of the fem-stuff New Years Eve, but a mucus burdened head cold has me adding overtones of phlegm to all my reviews.  As it is, my much anticipated Northern Rhone night at the Essex County Wine Society will be compromised, but that hearty grape’s characteristics will power through the dripping greenish yellow snot hanging onto my uvula like a Christmas ornament.  Then, once this palate is back in form, look out PN, here I come.  I figure to start with new world Pinots so there is not a huge readjustment I need to go through.  There is a Burgundy tasting coming to the ECWS and Big Bob is now sending me Pinot tasting info for me to hone my buds.  It should be a very interesting 2007.    

January 1, 2007

Happy New Year and, as it has come to be expected, it is time for the Declaration of the Grape of the Year.  As time passes, this process gets harder and harder, with all the yelling and arguing and screaming.  And that’s just between the voices in my head, never mind the input from Wino John and the Board of Directors.   For the past three weeks I have had two events play into my decision-making process to this great grape honor.  The first inspiration came from the GEMS conference I attended and the message professed throughout the two days by event producer, Steve Zuckerman.  As we move forward, our sources for information and entertainment have been fragmented into what will be a customized niche.  Gone are the collective experiences of a show on the three major networks, it is boutique customization.

To a degree, the Time magazine Man of the Year issue bolsters this position that internet and bloggers, cable, iPods, cell phones, et al can now be sources for moving at the speed of life.  Unfortunately, Time magazine pussed out and made everyone (yes that would include the staff at WinoStuff) as man of the year.  That would be akin to me taking the stupidly simplistic position that "Cepage" is the GOTY, every grape varietal that can produce wine is worthy of this title.  Mediocrity may be acceptable at Time Magazine, but it is not tolerated at www.WinoStuff.com.  

These two issues had me thinking it might be time to name a small, unique grape as GOTY, a supporting grape, one that has spent much of its time in a blended state, only venturing out in a few regions or from a few bold winemakers.  By doing so, it would be the antithesis of what Time did, we would select one minor contributor to the world of wine enjoyment instead of lumping all the lesser known grapes into a category named cepage.  Any time we are on opposite sides of a position with Time magazine, we (I) will take it. (Sorry for speaking for you WJ). 

I will say I had three other grapes drafted and partially written up, and they do still hold a strong potential for future awards.  Thinking back over this past year and the industry opportunities we at WinoStuff have been treated to, I found it only fitting that this year a grape had added cache from the company it keeps, and in that I mean the people associated with it that have given me a better understanding of wine.  Therefore, it is with great pleasure and a bit of consternation regarding Wino John’s reaction, I offer the 2007 GOTY.

The 2007 Grape of the Year

Pinot Noir

Yes, just as the rough and tumble, crime fighting J. Edgar Hoover wore dresses on Saturday night at his home, this Big Ass Cabernet Sauvignon drinker is getting in touch with his softer, gentler side for 2007.  I figured my fear of Pinot Noir might be based in ignorance.  PN has been known for some 2000 years and has cloned more than 100 varietals with DNA tracers to this grape.  An enigmatic offering, the wine can run a full spectrum from light and perfumy or flabby to dark cherry, chocolate, mushroom, earthy, gamey, leathery and spicy.  The most distinct description I read called it "barnyard", as in the stuff you step in when walking behind a herd of cattle.  The pains winemakers go through just to produce a quality wine year in and year out gives rise to my original position that this grape is too feckless to be in my rack.

Defined by Burgundy, this grape thrives in Oregon and California, shows well in Chile and New Zealand and offers promise in Australia, and South Africa.  It grows in Germany, Italy, Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria and is testing the waters in Canada. 

This break from our traditional position that the fleshy feminine wine that is not worthy of the tailgating, lunch-pail winos that we are has created a great deal of tension between Wino John and me.  I may have to take refuge for this year in Big Bob’s basement consuming the more than 700 bottles of the 2007 GOTY while WJ cools down over this decision.  I had hopes of attending the Burgundy 101 course being taught by Laurent Drouhin on January 18th as my kick off into understanding this ethereal offering, but a business trip has thrown a wet blanket on that.  I may have to sign up for a remedial course and try to educate my tastes buds with this grape in drag.    (Editor's note: I am NOT going to any PinotFests!!!)


 

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