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
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
2005 Banfi Chianti Classico DOCG
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
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
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:
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
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
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
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
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
Just not my style with a high acidic drone that makes it hard to get
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
King - Livingston
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
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
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
Last night Wino Odd Job was nice enough to host our friends
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
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
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
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..."
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
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
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
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
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)
Chateau La Lagune (3rd)
Haut Medoc (our original pour was corked)
Chateau Rauzan-Segla (2nd)
Our next region stepped things up and did show pleasant,
lively fruit and more traditionally Bordeaux on the nose with earthy leathery
Chateau Saint-Pierre (4th)
Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou (2nd)
Chateau Gruard Larose (2nd)
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)
Chateau Lynch-Bages (5th)
Pauillac- winner, winner, winner!
Chateau Clerc Milon (5th)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
2004 Croix Du Mayne Cahors Red
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.
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.
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.
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
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
2005 LA FORGE ESTATE Cabernet Sauvignon, Languedoc
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
2003 Campaccio Terrabianca
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
We dined at La Baita Cucina
Italiana, Butler, NJ. I 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:
Terra Unica Alicante Reserva
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.