Bob’s Winings
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This page contains Winings from the 1st Quarter of the year 2008.

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March 29, 2008

As I detox from the mass consumption of Sangiovese, I wanted to clear my head with two items in the junk file.  The first is to thank all of you who have supported the Clinton Unified National Ticket.  As you can see from the recent polls, Hillary is moving ahead of Obama in PA by significant numbers.  It looks like this movement is bolstering Ms. Clinton’s bid for the White House.  So I say to you, continue to support the Clinton Unified National Ticket movement, it is working.

How is this for a new book?

That just about says it all for the reason New Jersey is the punch line for the nation’s comedians.  I don’t know when this went to press or if it covers the slimy Friday Night Specials of the McGreevey administration.  I guess one wonders was the driver there for her or him and who did what to whom?

That being said, I am sure the book deals with the pay offs, backroom deals and rule violations that hinder this state’s administrations from US Senators and Congressman (Torch, Casey, Williams) to Mayors of Kearny and Long Branch, to local councilpersons….

I might have to buy this book.

March 28, 2008

There are pros and cons with bringing a group to a small local restaurant.  Last night, we celebrated Sangiovese, the GOTY, at Casa Filippo on Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell.  For three weeks, the owner/chef was aware we would have 20 people, seventeen attended.  So why then was there a difficulty in getting our food out in a timely manner?  We had two long tables and one table was half way through their dinner before the other table got one meal.  Then one guest, who ordered ravioli, a simple pasta dish, was served when the first table was having coffee and the second table was finishing their main course.  The good news was the abundance of wine and the lubricated conversation.  At my table there were four newbies, each adding layered lively conversation to the table.  The shocker was the guest with a slumber party business. 

One of the newbies took a page out of Wino Stan’s playbook and brought a shiraz to the Sangiovese dinner.  We now have Stan and Stan II that will keep the crowd entertained.  As usual, Caroline and Danielle controlled the flow of wine bottles between tables and at one point there were 9 bottles stacked in front of them.  Our table was sharing two lone classicos at that time.  I have to remember to sit with them for the next event.  Gene brought along his homemade Chianti in straw covered fiasci.  It seems like Gene has quite a stash of home made stuff, I have to find out where he lives.

Next up, I believe we will do a Spanish dinner, ah, my lovely Priorato….. 

2005 Banfi Chianti Classico DOCG $ (15.99)    A bouquet of black fruit, violets and leather; rich flavors of cherry and plums; supple tannins and appealing acidity.  The wine is composed of 80% Sangiovese grapes and a cuvée of other red varietals, and fermented with a traditional skin contact of 8-10 days.

2001 Rocca Caselli Brunello di Montalcino  $$ (39.99)    Made from 100% Brunello, a clone of Sangiovese, deep and rich with opulent black/red berry fruits and hints of Bing cherries laced with nuances of toasted oak and vanilla.

March 24, 2008

I hope you all had a nice Easter Day, and for those of you who do not believe in the Risen Lord, I hope Sunday was nice.  It was a somber day for us.  As time moves forward, things need to change, as they should and will.  We had our traditional Easter breakfast and we missed my dad’s presence. 

Dinner was quiet so I opened a bottle of red for myself.  Thank God that Deen De Bortoli produced his vat series of affordable wines.  De Bortoli is of Italian decent living in Australia.  Though he is no longer with us, I might have to pay a visit to his widow and comfort her and thank her for a nicely made, reasonably priced red wine.  The one I drank was the 2005 Petite Sirah and I was delighted with the bold fruit and lumber.  Sorry, I don’t even feel up to the wood/cross/Jesus joke right here.  De Bortoli really nailed this one…..you know, there are five different jokes I could be writing but it just doesn’t fit my mood right now. 

On a side note, if you have the IFC channel on your TV service, get the chance to see Manufactured Dissent. In Manufacturing Dissent, a pair of left-wing Canadian filmmakers take Moore to task for what they describe as a disturbing pattern of fact-fudging and misrepresentation.  It is interesting to see Moore dodge an interview in a way that he would not accept from a subject of his lens.  The most powerful part of this is that it’s not a right wing wacko producing this.  They follow up and interview several of those key interviewees that Moore staged to make his bones, like the 30 day process of Moore getting a rifle when opening a bank account that he cut to look like it was an on-the-spot occurrence in Bowling for Columbine.  Watch it and tell me what you think.

2005 Deen De Bortoli Vat 1 Petite Sirah $ (10.99)   Buy this one before the price goes up, which I tell you it will.  The oak hits you right out of the bottle but the big, full body red even handles an after dinner cigar without flinching. 

March 20, 2008

If a sample size of one can be statistically significant, then I offer a conclusive result.  The new quirky region I am interested in is Sardón del Duero.  I had a bottle of wine from the neighbor of the big Ribera del Duero.  I have enjoyed the cabernet sauvignon offerings from RdD, but this was from Sardón del Duero, a region I have little experience with.  A little researched turned up some interesting info that made me better understand why I enjoyed this wine.  The owner of this winery is the Pharma Group Novartis.  They have a facility in East Hanover, near JR Tobacco.  So one can understand that this is not just wine, but genetically altered and pharmaceutically doped wine that will get me hooked in just one try.  For those of you not familiar with the offerings from Novartis, I offer these household brand names:

  • No-Doz

  • Ex Lax

  • Gas- X

  • Desenex

  • Lamisil

  • Vagistat

Just one glass and I will stay awake, with no flatulence, no jock it and no little green men living under my toenails.  You do know they batch the wine in the same mixers they make these chemicals so I can cure all my internal body infectious consternations.  And ladies, the Vagistat will keep down that yeast thing.  Brilliant!

Abadia Retuerta is a relatively new winery, located just outside the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. It is built on the 700-hectare estate of Santa María de Retuerta in Sardón del Duero. Owned by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant, Novartis, they have quickly forged a reputation for making some of Spain’s most critically acclaimed red wines.


Try this magic elixir and let me know if it has cleared up that nagging drip.

2000 Abadia Retuerta Cuvee Palomar Sardón del Duero $$ (34.99)    A charming mix of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon that delivers blackberry, dark cherry, plum and chocolate flavors with a delightfully smooth finish.

March 17, 2008 

It has been awhile since I paid $5.99 for a bottle of wine and didn’t end up spilling it down the drain.  I found one, by chance, while at Kings.  It was a pure, 'what do I have in my wallet' purchase.   This time I found a drinkable wine that held up to my pasta in tomato basil sauce and wasn’t bad alone.  It definitely isn’t a wine I recommend for everyone, but this 100% grenache from Spain isn’t bad.  When you consider the price, $5.99 retail, I would take this one any day.  For those looking for an inexpensive wine I offer up the following:

2005 Borsao Vina Borgia Campo De Borja Grenache $ (5.99)   I am tempted to give this two icons just because of the price, but the quality is not a stand alone two.  The fruit is there and a white pepper finish makes this dimensional.  It’s worth a try at the price.

March 16, 2008

Good Luck with the petition.  It appears that we are on our way to making St. Patrick’s Day a National holiday.  I know around the metro NY area, it is a very big event.  Some towns hold parades the weekend before so the Jameson can flow without waking up the next morning for work with a hangover.  The streets of NY start filling up about 9 am and by 10 there are puddles of vomited green bagels and beer lining the parade route.  I look at it this way, if Columbus gets a day for landing in the west Indies, bringing small pox to the natives while plundering and destroying the local culture, why should St Patrick have a day.  St. Patrick drove the Druids into the sea and banished them from Ireland forever, so they washed up on the shores of England and founded modern day wiccanism. 

I am still fighting for a National Pulaski Day for his heroic deeds during the Revolutionary War which helped shape America into an independent nation.  I guess it has something to do with relevance to our nation.  apparently, Columbus landing in Trinidad and St Patrick driving snakes out of a plane are more relevant than someone who fought for our country’s freedom from England’s rule.  In fact Casimir Pulaski’s cavalry skills were so proficient during the war that they later credit him as the Father of the American Cavalry.  But what was the importance of the cavalry?   His death from wounds in the Battle of Savanna makes it hard to compete with a Saint. 

Since I don’t drink Irish whiskey and I still haven’t found that bottle of bison grass vodka, I ended up drinking a GOTY. 

2001 Fattorie Melini La Selvanella Chianti Classico Reserva $$ (25.99)   Deep ruby color and rich raspberry flavors with hints of leather, vanilla and almond.  Well balanced for a good food companion.

March 14, 2008

It is a quiet Friday night and I am just burning time watching the crap on cable TV.  I needed something to liven up the reruns so I went downstairs and grabbed a bottle of South African red.  I had a great boss when I first got into the geek world who came from SA and he loved wine.  And beer and scotch and and….

This South African was from their country’s national grape, that goofy Pinotage.  I have had light, watery, crappy Pinotage and I have had a few deep, well-crafted ones.  This one I opened tonight was right in my wheelhouse with deep, dark red fruits and a body that carried me home.  For the price, I am very much liking this Pinotage and hoping to place a few more bottles into the rack.  No frills and no flash on this one but there is a deep richness for less than $14.00 that has me doing the Wino Bob happy dance.  After the poor experiment with Cahors, I am thinking I need to become more SA friendly in the coming months.

2005 Graham Beck Pinotage $ (11.99)   Solid, deep rich dark cherry with undertones of chocolate and smoke.  Well crafted for the price.

March 12, 2008

So I tried to be a bit snarky and focus in on a specific French wine style to see if I could fall in love.  I have enjoyed many of the Argentinean Malbecs as they are well priced and slanted towards my palate.  But with most things wine, people tell me I must appreciate its origins.  I have located a few Cahors wines in my local wine stops and tried several.  Not a large database, but I have come to realize the acidity and fruit structure from Cahors is not my style.  Give me a good high-altitude Argentinean Malbec any day.  Additional to the taste difference, the availability and price difference firmly plants my taste buds in South America for this one. Maybe I am just a novice, new world guy but the nuances of Cahors just do not fit my profile.  My wine profile that is.  So I say adieu to you Cahors and from now on, I will take my Malbecs from Argentina. thank you.

2005 Clos La Coutale Cahors $ (14.99)    Just not my style with a high acidic drone that makes it hard to get past.

March 9, 2008

Despite a micro blast windstorm that took trees down and scattered garbage along Bloomfield Ave, we managed to make it to Casa de Fillipo for dinner.  That is a great local joint with well-priced meals.  I think we can do a wine meetup there.  We haven’t been there in awhile so we called our good friends Maggie and Jim and had a great night.  For the first time in the great many times we have eaten there, I had their homemade lasagna.  I could see that as an appetizer course for the group to enjoy.  My difficulty right now is time management.  I have one more project that will have me tied up for another 4 weeks that will make it difficult to put a lot of energy into organizing a meetup.

Again, one issue is the attendance verses the responses.  Big Bob ran an event recently and we had thirty plus people sign up and fourteen attend.  I would be interested in setting this up but this place is small and if we hold a large reservation and don’t come through it will kill their night.  Their pasta dishes are under $16.00; my lasagna was $11.00 and a nice sized portion.  As with most places, the dessert and coffee kick the bill up, but the dinner prices pack the place.  This would be a meetup on a Thursday night as the weekends would be difficult to lock up.

I wanted to go there to bring a GOTY.  I had one I picked up a few weeks back and wanted to try it with some Italian food.  Unfortunately, the wine detracted from the food.  This is not a GOTY worth buying again.  Seems like WJ is the Sangiovese king.

2004 Colli Ripani Centauro Ripano Marche IGT $(9.99)   Not one to write much about, it had an earthy, mushroom and dark cherry nose but there wasn’t much in the glass.

March 6, 2008

Tasting tonight was the first of two Burgundy presentations.  What Big Bob refers to as the 'fine wines' graced our glasses at the ECWS.  The twink of grapes, the 2005 Pinot Noir took front and center.  In an interesting side bar, while mingling during the starter white wine, I discovered that one of the ECWS members was my high school physics teacher.  It is strange how a thirty-year-old synapse fired after a few sips of wine. 

I am not sure of the process but as a rider in the back of the bus, I drink what they pour.  The flights were as follows.

Chevillon Nuit St Georges VV

This solo flight was my least favorite of the night.  The nose was red fruit and underdeveloped.  Nothing much in the glass.  Save your $61.00.

Grivot Vosne Romanee

Cathiard Vosne Romanee

With all these being village wines, even at the low end, this region steps things up with a much-improved nose and well developed product in the glass.  The Cathiard was my favorite of these two as it carries well from the nose to the lengthy finish.  If I had $72.00 to burn, I would consider this wine to bring to a special dinner.  The Grivot was good and far better than the Chevillon.

Drouhin Chambolle Musigny

Taupenot Merme Morey St Denis  

I am not sure why the previous flight was from the same village and these two were not.  The group agreed that the Taupenot was distinctive, powerful and full in the mouth while the Drouhin was elegant and on its way into a sleeper phase.  Upon waking, the Drouhin will outshine the Taupenot.  I would buy the Taupenot at $46.00 for its masculine power and un-Burgundy-like delivery.

Potel Gevrey Chambertin

Burguet Gevrey Chambertin En Billard

Humbert Freres Gevrey Chambertin

Gallois Gevrey Chambertin

Vougeraie Gevrey Chambertin Evocelles

This flight was 5 Gevrey Chambertins, go figure.  At our table and it seemed out of the group, the Burguet and the Vougeraie were the favorites with the Gallois coming in a close second.  My “blink” impression found the Burguet to be my style but I did see that the Vougeraie is a wine that 7-8 years down the line will be very impressive.  As you know I am not well versed in the Burgundy wines but found several of these to be quite enjoyable.  I would love the opportunity to taste the Gran Crus from these producers to see what the top of the line grapes deliver. 

Next month, there is a limited-seating tasting of vintage Burgundies.  I don’t think I will make the cut as the list goes through a seniority rating for the limited seating.  I, unfortunately, am low man on the pole as they say.  If I do get in, I will be thrilled to taste the 1919 Burgundy.  Now I am no mathematician but I think that is a millennium or something if I carried the one correctly.   If a 1919 Burgundy still has fruit, I could totally change my opinion.  I might have to see who I can bribe to get in.

March 3, 2008

When you need a little Italian wine in your system, there is nothing better than a dinner with our friend Pietro Ratti and his Barolos.  Big Bob set up a dinner last night at Mama Tucci in Livingston.  (I am getting the feeling Big Bob has some special relationship with the place.  My guess, it's his love of homemade pasta, but who am I to say?)

The star of the night:

No it wasn’t the fact that Wino Stan finally brought the correct wine to the event.

No it wasn’t the attendance of Wino Marty- though his new cave sounds great even if he recently sold off his Screaming Eagle supply without offering me just a sampling of the California Cult Cab.

No it wasn’t the fact that Joann kept the conversation lively.

No it wasn’t that Jim, the Livingston Store Bottle King manager committed to going on QVC with me to sell our WinoStuff Magical Red Wine Stain Remover.  Personally, I thought this really was the highlight of the night.

The star was the Renato Ratti Rocche Marcenasco Barolo and the Porterhouse for Two.  That was a winning combination at our table and the richly-crafted Rocche brought dark fruit, tobacco and cassis to pair with the grilled flavors of the porterhouse.  This delightful Barolo offers generous fruit yet an elegant finish.  I deem this "meat-friendly".  This month our friends at the Livingston Bottle King store are featuring the family of Ratti wines.  Go in and see Jimmy and ask him about some of our wine stain remover while you are at it.

As usual, Pietro’s charming personality and accent had the women swooning.  I tried to coat tail his moves at the end of the night as I went around to several tables telling them I was Pietro’s brother.  We have a certain resemblance.  Unlike the debonair Pietro, I came off more like Borat.  I guess my Italian accent sounded more Kahz and the only sentence I could think of was, “You like my wine, makes you want to do sex with me?”   Sorry, Pietro, if anyone slapped you at the end of the dinner for my behavior.

Check out the complete offering of Renato Ratti at the Livingston Bottle King store:

Bottle King - Livingston

19 S. Livingston Ave.

(973) 740-0711

Mon-Sat 9am-10pm

Sun 12pm-5pm

Email: livingston@bottleking.com

 

March 2, 2008

Each day it seems new opportunities arise.  Last night was another.  Several ambitious organizers on our block set up a progressive dinner.  I actually met people I have been living around for 14 years and had no idea they were neighbors.  We offered up our house for one of the dinner locations.  It was a great way to get to know 26 new people.  And the wine was flowing.  As we all gathered at one house for appetizers, it turns out that there are several chefs on the block.  The appetizers were top notch and my favorite was the filet mignon wrapped around a water chestnut and scallion.  Every snack item was flavorful and I consumed several glasses of red wine.  As I was served I didn’t get a chance to see what we were drinking, nor did it matter. 

The group then split to several different homes.  We hosted three couples, two of which have lived on this block for 36 and 41 years respectively.  That is very close to the year Wino Odd Job’s sauternes were bottled, give or take carrying the one.  OK, drunken math is not my strong suit.  OK drunken English is not my strong suit either.  OK, drinking is my strong suit.  As time was limited to an hour and a half, we got right to dinner.  I had two bottles, a 2003 Rosemount GSM and a 2004 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon.   As time was drawing to a close, we opened a 2005Murphy-Goode Zinfandel brought by one of the guests.  Everyone at our house were red wine drinkers!  I found new friends.  

Then it was off to another house for dessert and coffee.  The final house was a treat to visit.  The house had been in foreclosure for a while and was purchased by an ambitious young couple that did an outstanding job of bring this eyesore back to a showpiece.  The process of going into homes on my block that I had never seen delighted me in knowing all the red wine drinkers living in close proximity and the fantastic kitchens all my neighbors have.  It looks like I have some kitchen remodeling in the future to keep up with the Jones.  Hey, Jones, stop putting my kitchen to shame. 

It was a fun experience and we agreed to do this again.  I cannot wait to see into the unique homes of others I have never met though lived next to for 14 years.  It must be a sad comment on the fast pace and rigors our current living experience requires.  In the brief time we spoke, travel schedules for all were hectic and frequent.  Last night we had a chance to slow down enough to break bread and sip from the fruit of the vine.

2003 Rosemount GSM $$ (29.99)    The blend that hits me in the deepest of erogenous zones, these three grapes play well together and offer a fruit packed, smooth, spicy wine that I could drink with any meal.

2004 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon $ (21.99)    Good dark fruit and a firm finish but not the boldest of wine from this area of California.

March 1, 2008

As this Presidential Race heats up and the mud flies between potential candidates, I have remained pretty much out of the fray.  It does appear that Hillary Clinton is struggling.  Each chance the Clinton’s attempt to destroy Barack Obama, it seems he comes back with a more thorough, effective counter. He has managed to do to Bill and Hillary what Bill did to his opposition in 1992.  He is artful, charismatic and well spoken.  That is why I find it my duty to give Hillary Rodham Clinton a boost in her dismal attempt at seeking the most powerful office in the world.   I spent today printing out forms for a support/fundraising organization I will be heading to help Ms. Clinton.  I would like here to give Barack Huissen Obama a better fight.  Look for details in the next few weeks as I unveil how you too can support Hillary through my Pac, The Clinton Unified National Ticket.  As this political landscape is rife with change and unity as themes from the candidates, I feel The Clinton Unified National Ticket, will best express Hillary’s best trait; that of bringing the nation together.  So if you are interested in joining me in my political endeavor to support Hillary, email me for the details and I will lay out the plan for The Clinton Unified National Ticket. Please come join me in my effects, it wouldn’t be fun if I am stuck doing this solo.

February 29, 2008

Happy leap year.  How stupid is this?  With all the months that have 31 days, couldn’t February borrow a day and make it a more normal month? 

Last night Wino Odd Job was nice enough to host our friends at www.therisingtide.info, so they could show the WinoStuff board the rough cut of their new documentary.  First let me say that I really like those guys, but they are straight laced and dry (didn’t even bring any wine to the party).  Fortunately, the WinoStuff gang had enough wine to make up for them.  Being a rough cut, there is still work to be done, but the story line is compelling. 

I neglected to write down all the wines on the table, but there were a few I do recall.  I brought a Chilean cabernet sauvignon that was offensive to me so I told the group to pass on it.  Big Bob ponied up a Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir Cuvée Laurène and a Novelty Hill Syrah.  Wino John brought along his favorite 1994 Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sangiovese that I didn’t get a chance to see or taste.  (Editor's note: 2001 La Gerla Brunello Di Montalcino.  Mmmm  mmmm, good!)  Wino Rocker supplied a cabernet but I don’t remember which one. 

Not only did Wino Odd Job cook his ass off (I saw it on the deck next to the grill) but he also supplied us with a true treat in the glass.  The guy said he was just going to make a salad and baked potatoes while I picked up some T-Bones to grill.  WOJ grilled the steaks to the delight of the crowd and went crazy with the tomato, mozzarella and basil salad, not to mention the asparagus with hollandaise sauce and the tri-mushroom au jus.  Good hearty earth tones for the wines.  At the end of dinner as we headed into the 102 inch screen-filled media center at Chateau Odd Job, he cracked open a bottle of 1971 sauternes.  Yes, this wine was being processed when I was sprouting puberty and trying not to dream of Wendy Buckley for fear of “teenage night sweats” (don’t worry I changed her name for her protection) The audience was intrigued by the rough cut but I was too fixed on the sauternes to pay close attention to the details.  I wish our friends well and will keep everyone posted when we find out more details of the final cut.  They will be entering the documentary into many film festivals and are planning some special events.  More to follow...

2004 El Toqui Prestige Cabernet Sauvignon $ (9.99) I was bummed with this wine, I was expecting more from this area.

DDO Laurène $$$ (65.00)   A pinot noir that has some body and soul, rich cherry and violet flavors with an acidic mid palate and polished tannins.

Novelty Hill Syrah $ (21.00) 2  I could tell this one is up my alley, though the bottle had a bit of “dust” on the nose and a touch off in the glass, smooth and bold enough to try again. 

1971 Chateau de Rayne Vigneau 1er Grand Cru $$$$ (priceless)  WOW!  26 years and this one had a strong fruit acid balance that it could last another ten years.  Smooth apricot and vanilla flavors without excessive sweetness.  A treat I will remember for a long time.  (Editor's note:  Contrary to the math-challenged WinoBob's assertion, this wine was actually 36 years old.  Factor in the requisite punctuation and grammar checking and I should have been a 5th grade school teacher.  No wonder I drink.)

February 23, 2008

I was listening to the radio today and Amy Winehouse’s song came on.  I think it appropriate to mention here on our site:

 

Which doesn’t belong and why?


            Dude allowed one drink a day


                        Amy Winehouse with JD


          Wino Bob adjusting his BAC

 I will accept emails trying to figure out which doesn’t belong and why and post the funniest responses….

"They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no,no,no..."   Amy Winehouse

February 22, 2008

I say let bygones-be-bygones.  Look, our dollar is weak and we need new trade partners. The recent announcement that Fidel Castro is stepping aside could bring about a new opportunity.  While General Fulgencio Batista ruled Cuba, we enjoyed the beaches, casinos and cigars.  Then the whole Fidel Castro government overthrow-thing and the missile crisis and blah, blah, blah.  So we instituted laws restricting US citizens from doing business with and traveling to Cuba.  (Sorry, I am not the History Channel and there are plenty of books and web sites that will give all the details). 

Fast forward to 2008.  We can help our economy in many different ways if we were to normalize relations with Cuba.  Our South Eastern construction companies could profit from the reconstruction of infrastructure in Cuba.  Donald Trump’s hair will be designed into a seaside resort.  Our telecom companies could bring Cuba into the 21st century, and I could smoke a Cuban cigar without hiding in my basement.  I know, I know, Wino Bob you are an economic genius.  Please, hold the genius comments until I finish.  I am more interested in the untapped Havana terrior to set up a winery.  I have to think with the hills, the sun, the cool ocean breeze, and some soil sampling, Cuba might just be the future Napa Valley.  If I were a wealthy non-American Wino, I might just take a trip down to Havana and put dirt in my pockets to bring back to the lab.  I am thinking tempranillo, monastrell, garnacha, syrah and bobal or how about some Pedro Ximenex. 

So let me be the first to set up a “Lift the Cuban Embargo” petition so we can get down there, lie on a beach, smoke a Monte Cristo and sift through soil samples for the selection of Little Napvana, the future of interestingly affordable wine. 

February 17, 2008

I neglected to send out a message earlier about a project a close friend of the WinoStuff staff is embarking on.  One of our friends is undertaking their first shot at a documentary and we want to help in anyway.  Check out the web site describing the project at http://www.therisingtide.info.  Over then next 6-8 weeks, this project will be taking shape and we will continue to update the progress.

Today, I grabbed a bottle from South Africa and came away disappointed.  It is probably because the only red in the store was a shiraz (yes that is how SA is spelling it).  The winery offers a pinotage and I would have preferred trying that but I can only buy what is on the shelf in NJ.  Look out, WJ, pinotage will one day be GOTY and you will be hunting the stores for South African wine.  But for tonight, I drink it because it is open but I will not be buying the shiraz again.

2006 Golden Kaan Shiraz West Coast South Africa $ (7.99)   No deep dark fruit, no spice, not one for me.

February 16, 2008

I have been a bit tied up the last two weeks so my wine intake has been slow.  One night last week, I needed a TV companion so I opened a cheap South African red.  Tonight, I am spending time going over some editing stuff and I opened a Chilean that has a fancy a label and Gran Reserva  name and a higher price.  I will take two bottles of the cheaper SA over the one Chilean.  OK, it might be only 4-5 dollars more for the Chilean but it ain't drinking 4-5 dollars better, Gran Reserva and fancy label notwithstanding.  I guess I know what I like and it comes with come sort of big bold grape and a small price tag.   I am not saying I didn’t truly appreciate the 1985 Bordeaux wines we tasted at the ECWS and I am sure if I could afford to cellar them I would be writing much more pompously. 

I drink what I can afford so the little differences in the lesser wines make a huge difference to me.  For my wallet, the South African could find its way into my cellar.   The Gran Reserva is still not doing it for me.  Believe me I want to drink the more expensive stuff, dare I say I might eve want to become a Burg-snob like Big Bob.  But for now, I find a ten dollar bill in my pocket and wander into a local wine shop and I buy something that I haven’t tried before.

2006 Sebeka Cabernet/Pinotage  South Africa $ (8.99)   Let his one open in the glass and the pinotage softens the cabernet sauvignon to make this a nicely priced everyday drinking wine that won’t hurt your budget.

2006 Terra Nobil Gran Reserva Carmenere Maule Valley Chile $ (12.99)   This one starts out astringent and ends up ok, but less than exciting for the fan fare.

February 14, 2008

Thank you, Al Gore, now I have to shop cautiously in the haughty Montclair wine shops.  My carbon footprint is now being measured by the liter and I am having trouble planting enough trees to make me carbon neutral.  Wondering what the hell I am talking about?  Check this out.

There are 2 levels of 'green businesses': compliance (first level) and beyond compliance (second level) which includes energy and water conservation, recycling, pollution prevention and waste reduction measures. This 'second level' of compliance is called the San Francisco Bay Area Green Business Program, which is available in all the Bay Area counties. For more information on this program please go to www.greenbiz.abag.ca.gov.

So now I need to be eco-aware of my wine.  Don’t you get it?  I drink to forget all the bullshit in the world, and now the bullshit is impacting my ability to get drunk.  Next, I will be reaching for a non-eco friendly wine and some asshole from PETW (People for the Ethical Treatment of Wine, or as I call them-NAMBLA) will race in and throw an underdeveloped grape on me, or fake red wine juice.  I guess I won’t be shopping in Montclair much any more.  I will be looking to the industrial-friendly wine shops owned by capitalists.

February 8, 2008

Either I need a new laundry detergent or I am rashing from a growing pet peeve.  OK, It must be the peevishness of two growing wine references.  The first being the crutch of "Robert Parker says…"

Too often, I am finding people refer to what they read from RP instead of developing an opinion on their own.  Let me be clear, my pet peeve is not with Mr. Parker.  Hell, we are almost bung buddies.  No, my peeve is with the people who rely heavily on what he wrote when in a wine discussion. 

My second peeve is the overly unnecessary questioning if we (royal and common) can discern the terroir in the glass.  I just needed to get that off my stave.

So last night I attended the ECWS tasting.  It was 1985 Bordeaux night, a very interesting tasting for me as the 9 wines we tasted were from the cabernet dominant side of the river.  Hey, did you know that Robert Parker said the 1985 Bordeaux were an excellent vintage of ripe, round, forward fruit.  They might have been in 1987, but not in 2008.  We had three flights from three regions.  I understand the process, we needed to see how these 1985 wines held up over time and what they showed.  Then we wanted to see if any of the three regions showed better.  My difficulty with the structure was the inconsistency of classifications we were comparing.  If we were looking to see if terroir influences wine, then would the classifications also influence the comparison?  Call me simple, call me naive, call me wine stupid but in Bordeaux, I thought the whole 1855 thing defined the wine in a way that was worth fighting for.  I think Chateau Mouton Rothschild thought enough about this to lobby for elevation and finally break into the "first growth" category in 1973.  If I ignore growth, than why am I beaten up about terroir?  Nevertheless, the first flight, for many reasons proved to be the least noteworthy and dare I say, over-the-hill.  We tasted:

  • Chateau d’Issan (3rd) Margaux

  • Chateau La Lagune (3rd) Haut Medoc (our original pour was corked)

  • Chateau Rauzan-Segla (2nd) Margaux

Our next region stepped things up and did show pleasant, lively fruit and more traditionally Bordeaux on the nose with earthy leathery aromas.

  • Chateau Saint-Pierre (4th) Saint Julien

  • Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou (2nd) Saint Julien

  • Chateau Gruard Larose (2nd) Saint Julien

The nose on the Larosa was heaven but the Ducru was my favorite of these three.

Rounding things out, the third flight was my favorite of the three with one being my favorite of the night.

  • Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal (5th) Pauillac

  • Chateau Lynch-Bages (5th) Pauillac- winner, winner, winner!

  • Chateau Clerc Milon (5th) Pauillac

Whatever the reason, for me the three wines from Pauillac had it hands down.  Call it terroir, call it Robert Parker, call it my preference in wine style.  I peeve on you!!!!

February 7, 2008

Spending Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Holy Lenten season, could not have been more reverent than the small dinner we had last night.  The executive committee of WinoStuff quietly enjoyed fish and wine in solemn prayer.  OK, so we weren’t actually in solemn prayer, more like catching up on things since we didn’t have our holiday party or year-end fest.  And ok, we all didn’t have fish, though WJ and I did.  And, OK, we weren’t very quite as another guest from the other side of the restaurant came over to speak with us.  The blessing was that he is also a wine importer.  Yes, we now have a new wine importer friend.  How great is that?  In theme with the GOTY, this importer handles Italian wines, imagine that.  The slight glitch in the new best friend plan comes from the fact that his company is in NY and does not sell in NJ.  God damn it, Cartman!  (Sorry, Jesus, I take that back.) 

We ate at Villa Madrid in Pompton Lakes and the appetizer I had was snails in spicy red sauce.  They were cooked to perfection, soft, not chewy.  For dinner I had tilapia and shrimp in saffron sauce that was larger than I could finish.  As for wine, I brought a bottle from Cahors, a region I am trying to understand.  My Malbec-based wine was enjoyable, but at $34.95, it wasn’t worth the money.  Big Bob brought the only red from Spain, Celeste 7:00 PM.  This tempranillo matched well with the saffron sauce on my tilapia.  Be that as it may, I enjoyed all the wine, the Adam Ridge, the Croix de Mayne, and the other thee or four bottles we polished off during our hymn chanting. 

It’s off to the monthly meeting of the Essex County Wine Society.  Tonight we drink 1985 Bordeaux, the things I do for this page…..

February 4, 2008

What a difference a year makes.  The same caravan that was driving Eli Manning out of town has just made a U-turn and is now calling it a parade in his honor.  I never was a bus driver for getting rid of Eli.  OK, he wasn’t Payton but Phil Simms wasn’t the Phil Simms we think of today, early in his career.  (Come on he played at Morehead State).  Just think of all the lines one could come up with regarding a college named Morehead.   Think of the mascot, no not the eagle, the mascot drunken college kids come up with each year when you attend Morehead State University.

It was great to see the underdogs win, it was great to see Eli play well, but most of all it was great that Archie manning has a unique place in history with two back-to-back Super Bowl MVPs.  That’s for all the one-win seasons he played out in New Orleans.  Look at how long Payton was in the league before he got to the Big Game. 

So I was at Kings buying snacks, pepperoni, cheese, chips, corn chips, dips, and the usual.  I figured I would get an inexpensive wine so if the hot sauce and salty snacks were flowing, I wouldn't destroy a good red.  The name on the label had me grab a bottle of IQUE, plus it was a cheap Malbec.  Malbecs from Argentina do it for me when I am looking for something with little nuance.  I have found Malbecs to be good for those cigar nights when you don’t want to ruin a good wine by killing your taste buds.

The snacks were great, the game was one for the history books and the pass to David Tyree will be on every Super Bowl reel from this day forward.  Hey are there any Philly Eagle Super Bowl highlights?  (Editor's note: FU!)

The thing that was great was the wine.  Not because the snacks killed it, there just wasn’t much to be excited about in this wine.  No oak, and a flip-flopping backbone like the New York sports writers.  To add to the intrigue with the IQUE, its listed on Dreyfus Ashby’s page though the importer on the label was not them.  I understand there are two other levels of Malbec and I bought the low end.  If they don’t oak the upper end wines I wouldn’t try them even if Big Bob dropped off a case at my podcast headquarters.

2006 Enrique Foster IQUE Malbec $ (9.99)   A whimpy excuse for a Malbec.  I will be keeping this next to my Grape Nehi soda.

February 2, 2008

It was brought to my attention last evening by Wino Odd Job, that there is a company putting out a wine fragrance, perfume, eau d’ toilette.  Tauleto Sangiovese wine fragrance can be found at www.tauletowinefragrance.com.  This news made me euphoric.  Now, in honor of the GOTY, there is a little something for the ladies.  Yes, finally, I could have my lady smelling like my favorite wine, dare I say my Chianti Kitty, my Super Tuscan Temptress, my Winette, my GOTY Goddess. 

Then I started to think about it.  First off, I realized that this year my clothing has smelled like sangiovese several times already.  Actually one night I consumed enough GOTY that it was exuding from my pores as I slept.  If it be known, I guess I have been wearing wine “cologne” since I started consuming mass quantities.  Next I started thinking that this could totally f#@& up the sensory/response mechanism in my brain.  If I now associate the wafting scents of eau d’ sangiovese at the pinnacle of the Wino Bob love mojo, soon I will be having a sexually charged response every time I smell Chianti.  My twig may unconsciously react in the most inappropriate of times.  This, my friends, could lead to inappropriate frotteurism, or worse, what if I frotteur the Italian wine rack in Shop Rite Discount Liquors.   What if I go to one of the twenty-five BYOB Italian restaurants in the two blocks of Bloomfield Avenue and there are Chianti bottles opened at the majority of the tables?  This could be a problem, a huge (well maybe not huge) problem.  Frotteur, Frog amore, think about it!

Then I decided to look up this wine fragrance and found that there is a Cabernet fragrance made by Nature’s Garden.  That, my friends, would make Wino John’s head explode; women smelling like big bold California Cabernet Sauvignon.    So thinking about this thing makes me shaky.  How about the elderberry wine soap?  Nah, that is not a real wine so I can live with that.  I also found a wine-scented hand lotion.  That could be just the thing for a lonely Saturday night of self-lovin'.  Bordeaux hand lotion in a pump bottle.  The cheeky folks at Nap Valley Aromatherapy make a chardonnay, and a cabernet sauvignon hand lotion cause some times I want to love myself with the big bold red and sometimes I might need the gentle touch of a white.  I trust that they are unoaked….

January 29, 2008

I spent a good part of yesterday dashing in and out of local wine shops asking a simple question; “Where can I find the Swiss Wine?”  All answers cam back the same, "the Swiss make wine?"  Big Bob tasked us to bring Swiss wine if we wanted the treat of dining with Baroness Sophie Grosjean of Chateau d’Auvernier.  Hey, who am I to be too important to dine with a Baroness?  Unable to find a Swiss wine, I opted for what I figured was close, in ugly American terms, and brought an Austrian Gruner Veltliner from Nigl.  Not to take the focus from the affably conversational and too classy for Wino John and me, the Baroness’ wine. The GV was a fine complement to the fare at Penang.  Every time I eat at Penang, I try something different from their uncommonly large offering of unique dishes.  Upon a feasting, the bill always seems unfairly inexpensive.  This place surprises me every time I am there.

Back to the important part of the evening; the Neuchatel Blanc.

Not to say that the Baroness wasn’t more important, but I am an old wino so for me, I derive pleasure from the bottle and a firm movement.  The 2006 is fresh and bright with a floral nose and a light peach finish. This 100% Chasselas wine would make a good summer porch companion for an upscale evening.   

As Switzerland’s harvests are difficult with steep slopes and short seasons, they only export 2-3% of their end product.  Compounded by the weak dollar, I won’t be finding many gems in the rough from this region if I can find them at all.  I will look and I will taste more when the opportunity arrives.  Unfortunately, the stick bones don’t do well on the ski slopes so a boondoggle to the Alps isn’t in the cards either.  I might consider taking up the Alphorn or rifle running and need to visit Switzerland, allowing a further indoctrination into Swiss wines.

No that is not Big Bob playing the Alphorn, he is actually drinking his water through a straw (though his is large enough that it could be an Alphorn).  And no, that is not a flash back to a younger Big Bob split screen bizzaro world Photoshop thing.  That’s Andrew from Lauber, Big Bob’s Mini Me.

 

 

I only hope that the Federal Council, upon learning that the Baroness dines with the WinoStuff crowd, won’t remove her title and leave her Baronessless.  Then the Baroness would be left barren.  For those unable to join us, I offer you this picture from last night.

 

There’s Big Bob Mini Me again in the picture, what's up with that?

Here’s hoping we didn’t sully your standing in Switzerland.  Thanks for dinning with this serf. Merci mitenand and Grezi.

January 25, 2008

How does one pull WinoJohn away from his high paying geek job and have him refocus on the wine web site?  I think I found a chink in his amour, the GotY.  Sangiovese is to Wino John as Kryptonite is to Superman.  He goes weak kneed, he says yes, he follows one to lunch.  As a thank you to The Other Bob and him for their thoughtfulness this week, we grabbed lunch and I ordered the Kryptonite.  Both bottles were 1998 vintages but one was a Brunello the other a “Super Tuscan”, half Sang and half Cabernet Sauvignon.  You tell me, if you have the option, cab or no cab?  Personally, I enjoyed the blend over the Brunello but I would drink either again.  As far as WJ, I think he was folding in the corner in the fetal position, wrapped around the Brunello bottle but if ever he up dates his page, I will leave that open to his interpretation.  As for me I always feel the blend is a more consistent, more interesting wine and this time IMHO I am proven correct one more time.  Hey judge for yourself.

1998 Rocca delle Macie Toscano Rocatto $$ (49.00)   The blend, yes 50% cabernet sauvignon/50%sangiovese made this comfortably appreciable with dark fruits and silky finish.  Well done.

 

1998 Tenuto Greppone Mazzi Brunello di Montalcino Ruffino $$$ (54.00)  Quality offering of jammy blackberry and smokey oaky flavors but the finish has a tightness even with time in the air.  I very much enjoyed and can see this as a food friendly wine.  (Editor's note:  I would give the Brunello at least three cellar men...  or cellar boys...  whatever Bob's ratings icon thing is, I'd give this wine three of them.  It's meatier, crunchier, hairier, bigger, bolder and with more fruit than the Sang/Cab.  Both were good but I'd go with the Brunello.  But that's just me...   WJ)

January 23, 2008

Why is it so difficult for me to find a good Cahors in this area?  Cahors.  Cahors.  For some reason I enjoy saying that to wine store people.  I popped into Wine Legends yesterday and found two Cahors wines on their self.  I went all out a bought the more expensive one. Tax et al it was $12.31.  The inky darkness of this wine made me smile and the bouquet (dare I sound pedantic or gay?) was heady.  I never described anything as 'heady' before but it was intoxicating.  I spent more time than legally allowed with my nose in the glass.  I was smitten.  The black fruit smokiness and earthiness had me wanting Glade to make this as a plug in (dare I sound pedantic or gay again?). 

The difficulty, though I do not have vast experience with Cahors, is that the wine could be abrasively stark, aggressively slappy or brash.  Even with a boatload of airtime, this wine needs more time.  The first glass clapped my uvula on the way past.  The second glass mellowed some and allowed me to find an appreciation for this style.   As I have spent the entry talking about the wine, I will list it and rate it and simply say this is not a wine for Pinot Noir aficionados.  Think about it people, a wine for $12.00 that is big. Here’s one that is bold, robust and black fruit driven with a concrete backbone… 

2004 Croix Du Mayne Cahors Red $ (11.00)

January 22, 2008

Two things became very clear to me last night.  Number one, movie stars with bucket loads of money no longer read scripts but just jump at a large paycheck.  Second, I take back all the ugly things I said about the crappy Keanu Reeves wine movie.  As I have said in the past, there are few good wine movies and the streak continues.  HBO was playing a movie I heard about a while back.  To numb my brain before dozing, I got sucked into the Russell Crowe movie called A Good Year.  I cannot conjure up enough negative adjectives to describe this complete waste of 1:45 hours of my life.  I don’t want to take up more time than necessary to explain the plot but what the hell was Ridley Scott thinking when he signed on to direct this?  Sideways has little to worry about holding its place atop the best wine movies to date.   Ridley has had some greats, White Squall and Thelma and Louise to name two, but this will not be one. 

Plot

Boy is raised by his uncle on a vineyard.  Boy grows to be a driven, wealthy, feelingless dick.  Uncle dies and leaves property to asshole nephew.  Nephew finds childhood sweetheart. Nephew sells vineyard to Uncle’s illegitimate daughter.  They all live happily ever after. 

I’m sorry, I enhanced the storyline.  I don’t want to raise your expectations.  This movie was a hot, steamy pile of elephant dung.  Russell Crowe only took this to shag MARION COTILLARD.  If I had money, the ability to drink wine and shag Marion, I might have lowered myself to star in this piece of crap movie, too.  So IMHO, don’t waste your time.  The writing is shallow and the plot is film student at best.  I would rather have seen Borat play the Russell Crowe part. 


Na zdrowie!

I want to thank all of you who have sent well wishes, prayers and love our way over the past year.  After a two and a half year battle, my Dad surrendered to the cancer that ravaged him.  Through the battle, he never lost his sense of humor and zest for life.  I will miss him dearly and tonight I toast to him with his drink of choice.

Dad- your spirit and sense of humor will live on as the many stories recanted to me over the past few months by those whose lives you have touched.  You will be dearly missed.  I know we had an understanding and never said it out loud, so here I go...  I love you DAD, rest in peace. 

9/24/34-1/18/08


January 18, 2008

I know I have Wino John-it is and posting has been off this week.  I thank something like stomach flu for that.  I was able to hold down liquids yesterday so I tried a little vino to help me sleep.  If you are into new world, blackberry and drank cherry up front and little else; this one’s for you.  I will shorten the entry by sparing you the details of the grueling week of little wanting to stay in the place I put it.  So as I simply say, there is a way to go before this one can run with the big boys.

2005 Sphere Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles $ (11.99)    Greeted by black fruit, but a weak, thin finish from this one.

January 12, 2008

When I wine shop, after selecting what I specifically want, I tool around the front of the store.  There are usually cases of wine with hand written neon tags boasting of super pricing or the diamond in the rough.  Knowing your store manager’s palate can make this very useful.  For me, I haven’t quite found the store manager with my palate.  If I did I would immediately request he return it, though in this day and age, I am not sure if that is hygienically responsible.  I do hit one or two at the Shop Rite Discount in town, but I wouldn’t say I have a Mickey Mantle batting average.  Mine has turned out to be more reminiscent of Bob Ueker.  Great seats, huh buddy? 

As you know I like to experiment with a bargain, so I reached out to the least of my brothers.  That being the lesser ballyhooed region of Languedoc in Southern France.  I complicated the issue with a varietal most common to the shining star in the French family, Bordeaux, by selecting a cabernet sauvignon.  I know, I know, Big Bob thinks Burgundy is the shinning star but look what drinking all that Pinot Noir did to his hair.  I want a wine that will put hair on your chest, or head.  Maybe that’s why I only have guy-drinking friends?

So from me to you, swing and a miss.  I tried but this one is not worth me letting you try if I want you to appreciate my palate.  Nice price, cool label but there is a way to go before this one finds itself in my rack. 

2005 LA FORGE ESTATE Cabernet Sauvignon, Languedoc $ (8.99)   I’m thinking this region should stick to the Rhone varietals and leave the cabernet for the Left Bank.

January 8, 2008

In the literal, not the ironically Shakespearean terms, brevity is the soul of wit.  Here’s a grape of the year I really enjoyed.  Try it.

2003 Campaccio Terrabianca $$ (29.00)   Nice way to enjoy the GOTY.  This blend of 70% sangiovese and 30% cabernet sauvignon was polished with a smooth finish and nice fruit flavors.  This is a wine I would keep on hand for dinner.

January 7, 2008

I guess the New Year’s resolution of “Share the Wealthy” could best describe last nights northern NJ wine meetup dinner.  It was the first wine dinner I left with an abundance of unfinished wine bottles on the tables.  Generosity was flowing and it started from the top, the Big Guy.  Big Bob graciously opened the dinner with 6 bottles from his cellar, one being a magnum from DDO-Arthur. 

It was good enough that I had a second glass.  Our table was a nice mix of new and old, wines and winos.  Caroline, Lisa and Wino Odd Job kept the conversation moving so the newbies wouldn’t think we were a bunch of pretentious wine assholes.  It turned out that I was lucky enough to be seated near a newbie who makes his own wine.  Gene brought a home-crafted cabernet sauvignon, which made its way from table to table with good reviews.  He and his father source their fruit through Corrados in Clifton, my home for wine supplies.  I think that was Uncle June’s name but Tony never called him Corrado. 

Unfortunately, I was on my “I’m an important wine web writer” and missed the tasting of the homemade wine.  Everyone was very complimentary.  As the wine flowed, Caroline horse-traded my plonk, yes I admit; the wine I rolled the dice on was anything but enjoyable.  In turn she was able to secure a bottle of Two Hands Angel’s Share, a gift from heaven, not from Big Bob.  His cellar lacks Aussie Shiraz, but I did see him sampling the goods.  Thank you to the member that graciously shared his wealth by bringing the Two Hands. 

We dined at La Baita Cucina Italiana, Butler, NJI enjoyed the corrozza appetizer though most people around me had the escargot.  The restaurant boasts many specials beyond the usual.  I went with pasta that had mushrooms; sun dried tomatoes, cheese and sausage.  It was nicely prepared and went well with many of the red wines that passed through my glass.  The one it really did not go with was the wine I brought.  My plonk was:

2003     Terra Unica Alicante Reserva $ (7.99)    It is red but this blend of Tempranillo and Monstrell would better serve as a base for sangria than straight up.  Add fruit and sugar and this one might fly.

As the party tapered off around 8:30, Wino Odd Job graciously opened his bar for those wanting a nightcap.  The restaurant was minutes from his stealthy tavern, so we headed for a post holiday drink.

During roll call, Doe Pee again failed to show for the event.  I am thinking the new avatar is a great clue.  Looks like a member.  If you have time, look through the membership and see if there is a resemblance with anyone.  Send me your guess. 

Check out the two new wine events posted.

January 4, 2008

Last night at the Essex County Wine Society, we set out to see if “terrior” exists in California.  As simple as the question seems, we pondered two plus hours in search of the answer.  In the purest sense, any root of any plant will absorb nutrients, minerals and ground grit from within the earth it rests.  The weather conditions impact the health of the fruit.  At face value, even and onion planted in Staten Island will taste different than one planted in Metter, Ga.  (Any onion buffs out there?) 

The leader of the group did his best to pick 4 regions of California Cabernet Sauvignon fame to compare.  Our table, lead by the vociferous Senator from Siena, agreed about the area we liked over the areas we didn’t like.  We tasted two wines from Howell Mountain verses two wines from Calistoga.  It was clear the difference in length and elegance the Howell Mountain wines brought over the Calistoga fruit.  Length, though size doesn’t matter, on the finish was clear even to a novice like me.

The second two flights compared Oakville to Stags Leap.  I don’t think I need to tell you what I liked best.  Just remember that Wino John first showed me his Cask 23 tat on guns.  I must say that we only had two examples from each area but for me I enjoyed the craftsmanship of the Stags Leap and Howell Mountain wines over the more spiced, less lengthy, brash wines from Calistoga or the ready to consume wines from Oakville.  I will list my favorites from best to worst.  And for me, the SL soil, air, rain, vines, wind, humidity, pesticides, undergrowth and fingers of immigrant grape pickers clearly was the difference.

All these California Cabernet Sauvignons were 2004 vintages

  • Husic Cab- Stags Leap

  • Baldacci Cab- Stags Leap

  • Serdonis Ink Grade Vineyards Howell Mt

  • Ladera Cab- Howell Mt

  • Tamber Bey Cab- Oakville

  • Jericho Canyon Cab- Calistoga

  • Robert Mondavi Cab- Oakville

  • Shelter Cab- Calistoga

So there you have it.  Or do you?  Two wines do not a sample make and the wine makers styles at these wineries are uniquely different.  The oak barrels differ and the time in oak varied.  So was it the fruit or was it the winemaker, or does it really matter?  Terr-F-N-oir, what is it good for????

I have not had the Husic before and I would gladly have it again if not for the $125.00 price tag slapping me in the face.  At least I was able to go around the table and finish off what ever Husic was left in my tablemates' glasses.  Woo Hoo.

January 2, 2008

After that explanation of why I needed to name sangiovese GOTY for 2008, I went down to the wine rack to find but one lonely bottle.  Holy crap Marie, I need to stock up on the Italian food friendly wine for '08.  I have struggled for the past several years, finding Italian wines TV friendless but food friendly.  Call me a Wino, but I do open a bottle of wine every so often just to keep my company on the couch and watch the tube.  My exploration this year will be to find those that ride shot gun naked.  I can’t afford the pasta or pizza every time I want to have a glass of red this year.  I have had some Super Tuscans I didn’t want to taint with food, but that was a different time and place.  I would drink Tignanello while watching the tube, but WinoStuff.com has not gone public yet. 

So I sat watching the Honeymooner marathon on CW11, which used to be WB11, which once was just channel 11, accompanied by the only Italian in my rack.  Let’s say I have no place to go but up.  It was an ok experience and I tried to make it better with the Wino Bob homemade New Years Day pizza.  I have some work to do, on the wine not the pizza.  I will be hunting and tasting this year with hopes of several exciting fests.  For now, I will defer to the Chianti King, WJ as long as he doesn’t simply bring his Rufino only. 

2003 Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva $ (19.99)  OOOOFA, acidic and surly jumped to mind into the second glass but it settled down with some pizza as the tomato sauce made this more enjoyable.

January 1, 2008

Contrary to the critics and Wino John, all my writings are not wine-fueled, late night, incoherent stream of consciousness.  On this occasion of naming the Grape of The Year, I drank several cups of coffee, took three aspirin (chased by a scotch on the rocks and a greasy cheeseburger ala Hunter S.) and stared into a blank TV screen.  Within an hour or two, my thoughts came together in my head.  Many times, the deep impassioned reasons never truly translate to the page.  Slow typing and a limited vocabulary keep me from being the Hedonist in the Cellar. 

Personally, I see 2008 as an image change.  I look forward to shaking the encrusted mud from 2007 off my boots and walking onto a new road.  This one will be at least a well-worn path, possibly gravel-topped or if the mighty Jove smiles down from the heavens, it might even be a black-topped super highway.  I have been thinking about this transition state I am going through in several facets of my life.  I see 2008 as a year to move from the incoherent drunken rambler to a more respected wine columnist.  I see changes in my geek world, seeking refreshingly new opportunities for me.  I see the moon in my seventh house and Jupiter aligning with Mars.  I don’t see peace coming to the planet but maybe love steering the stars (OK, I found my old album from Hair last night and gave it a spin). 

With transition and change swirling around my personal and professional life, I selected a grape that to me represents this breakout.  A wine not so long ago that lingered in the incoherent, drunken rambling stage of it's career to become well respected for what it brings to the table.  That is why I am excited to announce the 2008 Grape of The Year:

Sangiovese

(Editor's note:  Woo hoo!!!  Thank God WinoBob came to his senses!!!)

Without becoming boorish or pedantic, Sangiovese is the backbone of Italian Chiantis, Brunello di Montalcinos, Vino Nobile di Montepulcianos and my favorite Super-Tuscans (except Sassicaia).  Yet, not but 20 years ago, we were drinking an unexciting, flabby, wicker basket-wearing jug plonk.  Problems of little quality assurance and the blending of white Malvasia or Trebbiano bastardized it to anything from daft rose to an inconsistent red.  Today, smaller yields, modern winemaking facilities and the amore of the vintner transformed Sangiovese’s image on the world stage.  Few college dorms today are adorned with Chianti bottle candleholders (am I showing my age?). 

Sanjuis Jovis is the Latin name for this varietal.  Its literal translation is Blood of Jove, thus the Jupiter and Jove references earlier.  Come on people; stick with me here.  We all remember that Jove is the Roman name for Jupiter, the God of the sky, the sovereign deity with powers over other Gods and mortals.  Do not confuse this with Sanjuis Bonious Jovis, which literally means tears of rocker John Bon Jovi.  His tears are very salty and filled with Sayreville soot.  It would be more Terret than Sangiovese. 

Though Sang, as I like to call it, grows largely in Italy, several other regions are planting, harvesting and pressing it into the bottle.  The USA has its Cali-Itali rangers of which I have tasted some of the fine offerings from the Bonny Doon Ca del Solo line.  The Aussies are also in the mix.  The hot bed of wine in Romania, yes, Romania, and our NAFTA partners in Mexico are offering Sangiovese.  And in South America, the Argentineans and Chileans are doing exciting things with this grape. 

So what can we expect this year?  For one, Wino John will be drinking Chianti like a….Wino.  Cabfest will be renamed Chianti-fest, though we might call it Super Cabfest and make everyone show up with the nectars of Tuscany.  Suggestions for attendees, think Antinori.  ‘Nuff said.  Capice?  Big Bob will have to bring some other importer’s wines to the event. 

What we are looking for is to bring out these foodie wines with dinners of pasta sauces, grilled meets and the best of the world of sausages.  (insert your own joke here, I made it fairly easy for you).  My Lenten pizza Fridays can now be washed down with this wine so sorry, Lord, I ain't giving up drinking this year.  Lest I forget, Pecorino Romano will now be stocked at all fests. 

As Sangiovese has made the transition from panty lube to well respected wine writer with his own TV/web show, I mean quality wine, so go I, not quality wine, I mean transition from the plonk of web writers to a well respected serious offering to the consumer market.  It will be great in ’08- trust me. 


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