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Tasting Notes from a ^ Beer Drinker

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This page contains Winings from the 1st Quarter of the year 2010.

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March 27, 2010

OMG!  I thought I would throw in a bit of the current culture to show I’m old but hip.  I just realized that 'hip' is an old word so it cancels out the current part.  Anyway, last night we embarked on our supper series journey to the frightening site of a bear, or a yeti, or Wino Rocker coming out of the hot tub at the Tree Tavern.  The sight nearly scared off three guests.  Personally, I am scarred for life.  The fare was Middle Eastern and there were things I still can’t pronounce on the buffet table.  Be that as it may, the stuffed grape leaves were delicious.  The lentil rice with mint yogurt was outstanding.  And no one left without tasting the baklava.  I dig hummus and the way Julie enhanced it made my tummy smile.  I doff my fedora to her.

Wino Odd Job and I struggled with the wine selections for the dinner.  Fortunately, from the feedback we received, most people were gracious in their comments.  We lubricated the crowd with a clean crisp Cava 2006 Raventos I Blanc Cava Brut "L'Hereu”.  I found it very open to food and was told by one of our regulars that he found it to be the best pairing of the night with the flavors of the fare.  At $17.55 a bottle, I could enjoy this sparkler as a warmer-up at a dinner party.  I would have no problem bringing it to a dinner party and having the host serve it while I was still in the room.  That’s confidence.

We then opened up the surprise of the night, 2007 Victory Zinfandel Parcel 31This Zin is only 13.8 per cent alcohol so it doesn’t come out hot.  The fruit is there from the start and the finish is OK.  The surprise is that this wine is $8.55 and was positively commented on before the price was exposed.  Let me suggest this one to pull from your rack when you are just kicking around or you have already-drunk buddies show up trying to raid your cellar.  For Big Ass Zin lovers, this one is not for you. 

With the Zin being the turn, the 2007 Syrocco Syrah was the river.  This wine hails from Morocco, made old world style by a French producer from the northern Rhone.  It comes in at $16.55 and is not the fruit bomb of the land down under.  It needs time to evolve in the glass and bring out its beauty.  Look, I’m not saying I am running off to Rabat, or doffing a fez (note to self, stop using the word 'doff') but the wine was interesting enough to see what else Morocco has to offer.

Thanks to all that came out last night for the Supper Series at the tree tavern.  Lent is over so next month, back to a carnivore’s orgy.   Stay tuned. 

March 23, 2010

As a young wino, I often pondered what the world would be like after I left this earth.  In my short lifetime thus far, I have seen tremendous advancements in technologies.  I won’t enumerate them but some highlights are 500 channels of home-shopping in HD, a phone that interrupts you in a quiet restaurant, cars that defy stopping, a man on the moon for awhile, and the ability to see German chicks do strange things with farm animals on a personal hand held device.  It would disappointment that one day I would miss all the continued advancements.  But today I realized I have seen the apex of this great lone superpower.  The destruction of this great nation was not from an invading army, not by the strafing from enemy aircraft or the launching of a nuclear warhead.  No, the monumental fulcrum of this great land was the simple flow of fountain ink from a pen onto the bill nicknamed Obama Care.  Unlike the thunderous clap of a bomb or the percussion of a shell, it was the almost silent scratching of a name on a piece of paper.  From this point forward, we have lost our position as the lone super power and will settle three decades from now with the ranks of a Eurocentric culture where VATs are necessary, unemployment is normalized at 11% and we get enough to keep us suckling the nipple of Government. 

So I say as the media fiddled while Rome burned, I am reinstating the Bacchanalian Orgy as the way to block from my mind, the crumbling of our civilization.  It was a good run.  We stood tall against the British oppressors only to find ourselves two plus centuries later becoming what we disdained.  I am sure with dental care not part of the process, our teeth are headed back to the crooked, lock-jawed setting of the pub Englishman.  We will find ourselves decades from now working like the French, eating like the Germans and paying taxes like the Brits.  I will be partying like the Romans until Bacchus himself calls me to sit beside him.  Let the wine flow and the orgy begin.  No sense in trying to be entrepreneurial any longer, that too will be outlawed one day.

March 20, 2010

Wow, were we pounded with rain last weekend.  There are still trees down blocking side roads.  The Passaic River is maintaining a strangle hold on Willow Brook mall and the surrounding neighborhoods. My neighbors are just getting their power back.  But worst of all, it took me an extra fifteen minutes to go from my house to JR’s for a lunch meeting.  How inconvenient.  When will Eagle Rock Ave and River Road be open?  The horror of it all...  Seriously, I saw an above ground pool in a back yard topped by two feet of the river.   They are hoping by today, the river and deck around the pool will be even.  Just a hint to the Wayne, Totowa and Little Falls areas; I have lived in this part of New Jersey for half a century and that river has been flooding those homes ever since I was a young Wino.  If the house you want to purchase has plants growing out of the baseboard and smells like damp cardboard, take a pass.

Tired and worn out, I finally did make it to JR’s for a chat and a bottle with Wino John and the Other Bob.  I arrived first and looked through the staling choices on their shelves.  Hasn’t been much new in their inventory for months.  Dare I say we might have to drink Merlot or, God forbid, Pinot Noir next time just to have something different?  After the harrowing ride, something subconsciously drove me to grab a Meritage.  I guess it was fitting to be the 2004 Geyser Peak Reserve Alexandre Meritage. That year, the blend was 51% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot, 19 % Malbec, 4% petite verdot and 1% cabernet franc.  Happy BLOTY (Blend of the Year).  Price tag came in at $$ (44.00).  The wine showed a deep rich color and a hardy mix of blackberry, currant and dark cherry.  The finish was draped in satin. 

Please, God, no more rain this weekend.  Let the rivers retreat below their banks so next time I am not inconvenienced.  And so those people get their pool back.

March 10, 2010

Thank God I recovered from Saturday night.  I am not sure which shocked my body more, the Bordeaux blend from Italy or Wino John popping over on a Saturday night.  As you can tell from the frequency of his updates, Wino John is not one for having frivolous time on his hands.  That is why when the backdoor knob jiggled, I thought it was Wino Rocker.  All that guy has is time.  Though scarce, WJ is generous with the wine.  He combined two of his three favorite wine regions in his gift.  Make no mistake, California Cabernets rule his universe, but second place is split between his love of Bordeaux blends and his enjoyment as a “Boot Head”.  Let me be clear, lest any of yous guys think I said that.  Wino John coined the term “Boot Head” for his love of Italian reds.  As only fitting, when the ground hog comes out of his burrow, we ordered up the finest of local Italian take out and cracked open a bottle of 2006 Tenuta Dell’Ornellaia Le Serre Nuove. Again, it isn’t me saying “Boot Head”.  I put it in quotes as a verbatim statement from said Wino John. 

The wine is comprised by 50% merlot, 35% cabernet sauvignon, 9% cabernet franc and 6% petite verdot.  It shows black cherry, raspberry, cranberry and a dusting of black pepper topped off with a hint of toffee on the finish.  Nice wine, out of my price range but I guess that is the spoils of a high-powered techno-geek.  This wine is young and has plenty of time it can sit in the bottle.  I appreciate the BLOTY (Blend of the Year) but more importantly, Wino John did not see his shadow.  It could have been due to the fact it was night, but hooray, spring is right around the corner.

March 5, 2010

I am saving the corny, "don’t cry for me Argentina" line and I'm going to stay the course.  Last night was the ECWS’ foray into the world of Argentinean wines.  I am a Malbec fan and always felt they stand up well to those cigars that invade late drunken nights.  I pride myself on the off-beat unique wines, but last night I fell into the trap.  The wine I enjoyed the most was crazy expensive and influenced by the California hand of Paul Hobbs.  It kind of defeated my purposes.  But this wine stood head and shoulders above the rest and I believe was voted best wine of the night by the crowd.  Honestly, I would not spend the $165.00 for that wine as much as I enjoyed it.  I would however spend the $39.95 for Bodegas Caro’s cabernet/malbec blend Caro.  No, I am not stuttering.  (BTW- if you repeat your typing what is that called?)  This wine comes from the JV of Barones de Rothschild (Lafite) and Nicolas Catena.  What a wine snob, I like the most expensive California style and the one with 50% cabernet sauvignon from the left bank. 

Having said that, these 10 wines come from around the Mendoza region and were arranged in two flights.

  • 2006 Punto Final Reserva - second favorite of the flight

  • 2005 Poesia Clos des Andes

  • 2002 Poesia

  • 2003 Poesia

  • 2006 Bodegas Caro Caro - my wine of the flight

  • 2005 Cuvelier los Andes Grand Vin

  • 2005 Terrazas de los Andes Cheval des Andes - first pour was corked

  • 2006 Achaval Ferrer Mirador

  • 2005 Cantena Zapata Argentino

2004 Vina Cobos Cobos- not knowing this was $165.00, I found this wine to be a vision of soft, voluptuous and proportioned quality similar to Bo Derek in the movie 10, except for the beaded hair, that wouldn’t have been good.  I found the Clos des Andres to be the Dudley Moore of the night, club-footed and clumsy.

Next month we venture into the world of 1989 Bordeaux.  I may have to drink them nude just to allow all my senses to envelop the etherealness of the heady bouquet that will be wafting through the room. 

March 4, 2010

So what does a fallow vineyard yield?  First, I had to go to the dictionary and research the definition of the word 'fallow'.  Second, the reason I had to was that I received in the mail a bottle of 2009 Trefethen Fallow.  Third, I didn’t get the joke at first.  It has been awhile since a box arrived for Wino Bob addressed to WinoStuff.com.  I am not sure how I got on Trefethen Family Vineyards radar or mailing list.  Even after I glanced at the sell card contained in the package, I still was at a loss: Alcohol 0.0%, Composition 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% argon and trace elements.  What finally registered was the side label that reads:

This is pure Trefethen fallow, bottled to capture the very essence of Napa Valley; light, delicate, and ethereal.  The perfect match with April Fool’s dinner.

First off, I do not have an April Fool’s dinner, we do lunch.  I don’t drink at lunch, much.  Second, why do they keep using words I need to look up in the dictionary?  I looked up the word ethereal and it says- extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world.  Ergo Trefethen’s fallow is a light, delicate, extremely delicate and light object.  Either it’s crazy delicate or redundant.  I guess I will find out when I taste it.

Note to Trefethen, now that you have my address, feel free to send a bottle of Halo, I will be happy to review it along with the Fallow.

fallow 1 |ˈfalō|

adjective

(of farmland) plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production.

February 27, 2010

"Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night will keep a wino from his/her appointed rounds.”  OK, its not the postman’s motto officially either so I figure Mr. Franklin wouldn’t mind.  Boy that guy was into everything!  He also said wine was good to cure the gout.  Big Bordeaux-head that Ben. 

Lucky for me, the 8 hours of shoveling ended in time for me to head up to the Tree Tavern.  Fourteen other brave souls joined me and we were treated to a variety of Indian cuisine.  The down side of the bad weather was that the belly-dancing instructor didn’t show up.  Wino Rocker was so excited about the possibility of belly dancing with an exotic woman of seven veils that he shaved his back for the occasion.  I understand Mrs. Wino Rocker now has a nice throw rug for the TV room.  We wanted to see what wines paired with the fare so we picked three contenders.  For opposites we served a 2007 Carl Graff Riesling, for the complement we offered a 2007 Axis Zinfandel and for wine lovers, a 2005 Stratton Lummis Cabernet Sauvignon

I overloaded on the garlic naan with coriander chutney and potato and pea samosas.  I went right to the reds and delighted in the nose of the Axis zinfandel.  A winner of a wine for my taste.  The wine showed a blackberry and blueberry jamminess with a spicy-cedar and toffee finish.  My favorite was the 2005 Stratton Lummis cabernet.  The wine had dark cherry, red cherry and blackberry flavors with cassis, white pepper and floral notes.  I really liked this wine.  Really, but than again, so did many others as this wines was number 27 in the top 100 restaurant wines of 2008.  I will have to pay closer attention to the wine lists at some of the places I eat.  I don’t recall seeing this on many menus but across the nation, it is a winner. 

The evening was topped off with Ras Malai for dessert and the delight in knowing we didn’t have to look at Wino Rocker’s shaved back.  Don’t worry Wino Rocker, the back shaving was not wasted.  Speedo season is just around the corner.

Next month we will taste the treats of Middle eastern food.  Now where did I place my Macedonian wines?  

February 23, 2010

Mike and I had the pleasure of drinking some of Tuck Beckstoffer’s wines yesterday with their eastern regional manager, Estelle.  The 2007 Victory Vineyards Parcel 31 zinfandel interested me not only for its great value but for a zin, this wine is only 13.4 per cent alcohol.  The heat was off and the fruit comes out quickly.  Light in the glass and with raspberry and spice on the palate, this is an easy drink.  I think we found a new everyday drinking red.

The other wine we enjoyed was the 2007 The Sum.  This wine comes out of the Seventy-Five Wine Company’s portfolio and is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah, petite sirah and a host of supporting cast grapes.  Bold, black fruit and blueberry made this a lush wine in the glass.  I trust five years from now, this will be a wine that significantly increases in price from this initial release.  I’m buying some of this for my retirement fund.

February 12, 2010

Hey, just a thought..., to the candidates that throw their hats into the ring for President in 2012, it’s a hard job.  Please don’t go into it thinking that getting elected is the end of the process.   And whining is unbecoming.  Did Roosevelt whine?  Did FDR whine?  Did Truman whine?  John F. Kennedy did not write Profiles in Whining.

 Wino John and I had a bottle of Duckhorn’s Decoy last night with dinner. We had to make some minor adjustments, which put us in a foul mood.  Yet we didn’t whine, we stood up to the challenge. It seems Penang is doing some kind of work and they failed to call us and inform us not to stop by.   Fortunately, this is northern New Jersey and you could hit three other restaurants from the doorstep of a restaurant.  I figured their closure was due to a broken pipe caused by the cold weather; Wino John clearly stated it was George W. Bush’s fault that Penang was closed.  Either way, we found the Indian fare of Spice Grill just across the parking lot.  I enjoyed a boatload of naan and the lamb korman.  At least I think it was lamb as this dish was offered in the goat or lamb version.  Both animals being tremendous resources for the Indian culture, a source of clothing, a source of food and most important, a source of romance when the wife is bitching.  This was one time the food out did the wine.

2007 Duckhorn Decoy Napa Valley Red Wine  $$ (25.99)   This blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot makes it a BOTY and for that it received an additional half point in my rating.  Sadly, Wino John and I actually left one third of the bottle for the staff at the Spice Grill.  We had several glasses over dinner hoping the wine would change (improve).  No such luck.

February 10, 2010

I had some bidness to attend to at the Tree Tavern last night.  Of course, what starts out as serious discussions and market planning morphs into 'market research' which is another phrase for 'heavy drinking'.  Mike is always on the lookout for great finds and last night I got to taste the second product of the Scott Family Estate wines.  The pinot we tasted last Friday is a steal at $18.55 and the chardonnay we enjoyed last night is delicious.  The chardonnay is fat but not planked in oak, flavors of green apple, butterscotch and pear tumble in the glass.  The winery is under the holdings of the Rutherford Wine Company.

Ultra -premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are produced from family farmed Dijon clonal selections in the prestigious Arroyo Seco appellation in Monterey County. Low yields result in limited production wines, which exemplify the ideal matching of terroir and varietal fruit.

I doff my derby to Mike for bringing these two wines from Scott into his inventory.

February 6, 2010

I had the opportunity to sit in on a distributor tasting at the Tree Tavern.  Mike is on a quest to find those offbeat great value wines.  Two of them were interesting and I am sure will be finding their way into his inventory. 

I am not a big Pinot Noir guy as well documented, but the nose on the 2006 Scott Family Arroyo Seco Dijon Clone... 

The clones from Arroyo Seco vineyards tend towards a rich fruitiness - Clone 667 - blackberry, boysenberry; Clone 777 black and red cherries, hints of almond, violets and pepper; and Clone115 - floral aromatics and bright acidity. To preserve the lush fruit aromas and flavors, 10% of the lot was fermented via carbonic maceration. These characteristics combined with the unique soil and climate of the region give us a layered and complex wine with intense aromas and fruit flavors including wild strawberry, dried herbs and lush vanilla with smooth tannins and a long finish.

The second wine that caught my attention was the 2005 Stratton Lummis Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. This wine comes from the very heart of the Napa Valley. It is a blend of Oakville and Rutherford fruit.  In the glass you are treated to concentrated perfume of cassis, violets and tobacco complimented by rich French oak.  The 2005 artist series cabernet’s label is a piece by California artist Diane Stevens.

Stay tuned for more on these two wines.

February 5, 2010

Hey, what wine goes with groundhog stew?  Might I suggest a South African blend?  OK, so I am bracing for the 8-12 inches of winter that Punxsutawney Phil guaranteed after seeing his shadow.  Good thing I have enough wine in the basement to help me get through the blizzard.  Last night was….sorry, let me start again.  I attended the Essex County Wine Society’s tasting or murh..., merlomo..., mammalot…, merlot tasting.  Damn it, merlot! OK, merlot, merlot, merlot!  To ensure I could get through the tasting, I lubricated the pipes with a nice bottle of wine with a dear friend at Fascino in Montclair.  I enjoyed an appetizer of mushroom and goat cheese stuffed ravioli in black truffle sauce and the grilled salmon.  Wowzer, my taste buds danced the happy dance.  The wine was:

2002 Vergelegen Vergelegen (no I’m not stuttering). $$ (49.00)   This blend of 46% cabernet sauvignon, 29% merlot and 25% cabernet franc from the Stellenbosch region of South Africa was nicely balanced with enough acidity to be food friendly, soft tannins for the promise of it being able to drink well for awhile and the flush of raspberry, dark cherry and plum with a hint of cassis.  This one is above my normal expenditure but the company and food deserved nothing less.

Then it was off to the Montclair Woman’s Club building to meet the merlots.  My arrival was just under the wire and I missed the aperitif.  That’s OK, I had my share of warm up wine so I found a seat in the back and settled in for an education.  The ten wines were divided into three flights.  The first four wines had three from Long Island, NY and one from Bordeaux.  Even to my novice palate, the Chateau Gazin 2000 stood out because of the tannins and structure of the wine.  The Long Island wines were interesting but still not up to the quality of the others.  A side note, Chateau Gazin bumps up against the property of Chateau Petrus.  I had to say the Gazin had little in common with Petrus. 

1.  2004 Paumonock Merlot Grand Vintage

2.  2001 Lenz Merlot Old Vines

3.  2000 Chateau Gazin - good but not worth the $88.00

4.  1993 Lenz Merlot - the product was off

We then traveled to Walla Walla Washington and tasted two from the great Northwest.

     1.  2003 Northstar Merlot

     2.  2005 Leonetti Cellars Merlot - I found this to be nicely crafted, supple and fruitful.  It did contain 8% cabernet sauvignon and 7% petite verdot.

Onward and upward we hit three California Merlots and an Australian.  I found the Aussie wine quite easily as it was  sweeter, with fig and plum flavor.  The hotter temperatures and the red soil of Barossa Valley gave this one its distinctive flavor profile.  Or it was dumb luck; I chose the former.  My tablemates just said I was dumb. 

     1.   2005 Swithback Ridge Petersen Family Vineyards Merlot

     2.   2001 Haan Prestige Merlot - my pick of the night though $55.00 is crazy.

     3.   2004 Blankiet Estate Paradise Hill Merlot

     4.   2005 Lewis Cellars Merlot - if the Aussie wine wasn’t in the flight, I would have voted this my wine pick of the night.

So there you have it.  I checked this morning and I still have hair on my ass so I guess an occasional merlot won't make my boys turtle into my abdomen. 

January 30, 2010

Neither bluster nor dark of night shall keep a wino from a wine event.  Last night we held the inaugural Supper Series wine dinner at The Tree Tavern.  Thanks to the souls who braved the bitter night air to sit in the warmth of a fire-lit dining room in Wanaque, New Jersey.  The chill soon broke as 21 strangers mingled over a selection of wine and cheese at the bar.  As the libations flowed, we moved to the tables and continued friendly conversation in anticipation of the culinary offering from PartyConnictions chef, Julie.  Our hosts and proprietors of the Tree Tavern made the setting so comfortable that it was more like having dinner at a friend’s house than being out at a restaurant.

The selected wines were reasonably priced and eclectically offered.  The warm up was a 2007 Alois Legeder Pinot Bianco.  I must confess, I have only had two Pinot Biancos prior to last night.  The wine offered a clean, crisp Granny Smith apple in the glass and finished brightly.  I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.  As for red wines, we switched between the 2007 Yalumba Organic Merlot (yes I said merlot) and the 2005 Castello del Poggio Barbera d’Asti.  Both being food friendly wines, I enjoyed the bolder Barbera d’Asti with my dinner.

Julie pleased the palates of the crowd with a beautifully prepared green salad with cranberries and walnuts.  The main was chicken Marabella, sided with wild rice pilaf and mixed vegetable.  Dinner with topped off with homemade crème brulee.  I believe I cleared three of those by myself. 

As the night wore down, and the group dwindled to the stools at the bar, Big Bob entertained the crowd when he brought out an essence kit.  Ten of us stressed our olfactory senses with scents offered in the kit that are contained in wines.  Trust me, it ain’t easy; educational yes, but not easy.  As in most cases, it was Caroline’s immediate identification of the scent of leather that stunned us.  A vivid, long term memory experience made that a very identifiable aroma to her.  If only I stayed long enough to hear the story behind that one. 

We look forward to next month’s dinner.  As the menu and wine selection is developed, I will post it for the group.  See you there.

January 24, 2010

I feel it creeping.  Sorry, The Jersey Shore characters have placed the words "creeper" and "creeping" into my head so now, unless I use it, I can’t find different words.  You know what I’m sayin'?  I have hit a saturation point in my French wine consumption that it has triggered another French-pedantic affliction.  I have officially started collecting art, kind of.  I will admit, I do not know much about art and artwork.  I can see something and know in my head that it interests me, but ask me why and I couldn’t find a word to explain it.  Maybe it just creeped me.

Recently I picked up a shipping tube at my PO box.  In it was an experimental first print of a Lyman Dally original oil painting.  My humble roots leaves me thinking a wine bottle Christmas tree and a signed Jackie the Jokeman poster is art.  Today I will be framing and hanging a signed, 1/1 experimental print of the painting below.

 

Eau d'vie, Eau d'mort

When I saw this at the art show, I commented to Lyman that I found this piece interesting, as wine is my elixir of life and probably the liquid of my death.  As I wish nothing but meteoric fame and fortune to Lyman, this will one day be my first collector piece of artwork.  Hey, which Forbes kid is responsible for their collections?  I’m thinking he and I are now peers.  I could also tell the Forbes guy that I have a bottle of 1996 Lafite with Thomas Jefferson’s initials on it. Wow, one piece of artwork and I am rubbing elbows with an entirely new stratum of people.  The third floor room just got a bit less dark and dank.

January 22, 2010

Sorry, I have to do some housekeeping.  It’s not that I haven’t had some wine lately.  Mostly that I am still recovering.  Recovering from the shock of a Republican winning in Massachusetts.  Keith Olbermann is in complete meltdown.  Air America officially shut their doors and the only legislation that out-going New Jersey Governor John Corzine could pass on the way out the door of Drumthwacket was to legalize medical marijuana.  I think I feel some glaucoma coming on. 

As with global warming, the world is readjusting.  By the way, I am typing with fingerless gloves in my dark, damp and now cold third floor room.  The crazy thing is that the Democrats still have a 59-seat majority but they are so disorganized that they can’t get their shit together to move anything forward.  But most shocking to me thus far is that pizza has gone the way of the martini.  I had my eyes opened last night when I went into Fortes and looked over the pizza by the slice offerings.  I guess it has been awhile since I ordered a pizza.  I was shocked that they make something called a 'chicken, bacon and ranch pizza'.  Is that pizza?  Just as they are calling these fruit-infused concoctions "martinis", pizza has now been bastardized in my mind.  I saw a cheese steak and a Caesar salad pie sitting there also.

Thank God we have the decency for the pedantic French view of wine keeping most of the world’s offerings sane.  Save NJ, with cranberry and blueberry and any other produce-to-juice they think of, the rest is still, simply wine.  I guess I have to get out more.  Dough, cheese and sauce seem to be the minority in the world of pizza pie.  Of course this shock sent me to drinking, or rather finishing open bottles of wine that have been lingering on my counter or in my refrigerator.  Here are several I have enjoyed over the past week or two.

2007 Notro Tinto de Montana - this Argentinean blend of sangiovese and bonarda was cheap and drank so.  I had higher hopes for this wine but take my advice and pass on this one.

2005 Montevina Terra d’Oro Syrah - OK, but no tingles up my leg on this one.  It handles a Tuesday night in front of the TV, but I would not bring this to dinner with friends.  Enemies maybe, but not friends.

2003 Callaghan Vineyards Syrah - A treat I brought back from my last visit to Arizona, it was a pleasant surprise.  Simple and not too deep in complexity, it offers black fruits, spice and a hint of mocha.  Give the region 20 years and Arizona might be a place I will be drinking through.

2007 Tangley Oaks Rose Lot #3 - yes I said rose, damn it.  This rose is all Napa, at 14.1% alcohol.  Sorry, not in my rose.  Just leave it on the skins and give it the color to make what I think you were going for. 

I must be getting old.  That would have been four different entries years ago.  Now, like my prostate, things seem to dribble out from time to time.  Next month, back to basics.

January 21, 2010 

Wow, is this month flying.  Last night I stopped into the Park Ave Club to check on a potential upcoming event I need to plan and ran into the new Executive Director.  He used to own my second home; Bacchus.  After asking for back rent for time spent in his wine cellar, we had a great discussion about the exciting wines and events the club is planning.  It turned out that they have a tasting going on featuring some additions to their wine menu.  I crashed the party and was treated to the educational tasting notes of Wendy Tate (sommelier) and Troy Titus (Beverage Director).  The list follows:

  • NV Mirabelle Rose Sparkling Wine - pleasant, bright red fruit

  • 2005 Domaine Michel Caillot Bourgogne “Les Herbeux” 

  • 2006 Hartford Court “Four Heart” Chardonnay - wood prevails

  • 2006 Joseph Drouhin Chorey-Les-Beaunne - now maybe Big Bob will join me for dinner at the club since they are pouring his wine.

  • 2007 Byron Pinot Noir

  • 2005 Silverado Merlot - spicy and woody, it takes time to find the fruit

  • 2003 Rust en Vrede Estate - I love Stellenbosch but prefer the faithful Hound to this one.

  • 2006 Stags Leap Wine Cellars “Artimis” - the gem of the night, well crafted.

Hey, no grape of the year, what’s with that?

The club is growing in wine events and in their wine list.  It is nice to see new regions and a broader selection.  Hey guys, I am available for consult…. I can see it now, the club’s wine list being turned over to Wino Bob.  I accept the challenge.  C'mon, Michael, if it wasn’t for my Bacchus escapades you wouldn’t have that fat 401K.  That’s my hard-earned cash.

January 9, 2010

I grabbed a glass of wine the other day with Bob.  No, not Big Bob, the other Bob.  As this is the year of the blend, I picked a 2002 Origin Napa Valley Heritage Sites RedWell-played, Mr. Holmes, a somberly complex Bordeaux blend.  This merlot-heavy blend offers dark cherry, black currant and raspberries on the first heady whiff.  The more you swirl, the more that comes out, like eucalyptus and herbs.  The finish is soft tannins that give this one some more time to bottle age. I really am liking the blends and it was a brilliant move on the part of WinoStuff to name it this year’s grape of the year.  For the record, the winery does not belong to the Meritage association so it’s simply classified as a "Bordeaux style blend".  That is all right by me.  The price came in at $31.00, which is a bit more than I usually spend but hell, I’m worth it.

January 8, 2010

My 'entry number 9' problem was far different than Elliot Spitzer’s 'client number 9' troubles but it still might put me in a heap of trouble.  Not salacious, sorry, I don’t have hooker money.  My number 9 was a hot, bold, seductive Aussie.  Unfortunately, it was an outlier in a California syrah tasting.  OK, so during the Southern Rhone Chateauneuf du Pape tasting, I select the California Rhone wine and in the California syrah tasting I pick the Australian shiraz.  This might be grounds for me turning in my gold plated taste-vin to the society. 

It turned out to be a fun night as we had a “professional taster” at the table.  I could tell by the way she concentrated on the bouquet of each wine before tasting.  Hell, I finished off all five of my first flight wines before she tasted her first.  Her note sheet was voluminous but the real key was that she spit out the samples.  Unlike the lush I am, knowing these California syrahs offered from 13.9-16.3% alcohol, I was in it for the buzz.  Turns out we had a wine consultant/educator in our midst.  Unfortunately, my inane drunken comments had her looking for a different table mid tasting.  She tried to scoop up all ten glasses, the cheese plate and a water pitcher and relocate, but the place was full.   

Fully cocked, I forgot to take the final sheet but here is what I do recall, to the best of my memory, so help me God.

Flight 1

Denner Vineyards 2006 Paso Robles

Neyers Old Lakeville Road 2007 Sonoma Coast

Ringer - it was a Northern Rhone but I didn’t get the sheet

Copain “Tous Ensemble” 2007 Mendocino County - my favorite of the flight

Ridge Lytton West 2005 Sonoma County - woody, and minty.

Flight 2

Pride 2007 Napa County - well balanced and ready.

La Sirena 2005 Napa Valley  - The first glass was corked, second pour had little nose and received zero votes - unanimous.  Surprising as this wine is overseen by Heidi Barrett, the first lady of Napa wine (Screaming Eagle)

Ramey “Shanel Vineyards” 2006 Sonoma County - nicely crafted

Mollydooker Blue-eyed Boy - my personal fav of the night.

Alban Vineyards Reva 2005 San Luis Obispo County.

It turned out that the presenter for the night owns a winery in Temecula, California, so I say to Lisa and Darcy, "there really are only 2 degrees of separation."  I look forward to an upcoming interview with the winemaker at Monte de Oro Winery on 2degreesradio. 

Next month, dare I say, we will be tasting merlot……I think I feel a cold coming on.

January 2, 2010

It will take awhile to get the 2010 thing down.  I hope you had a happy, fun, safe celebration.  I decided to spend the night with a bottle of Meritage and the digitally remastered HD Three Stooges marathon. My Cablinasian wine was the only way I see fit to ring in what I expect to be a better year.  If not, I will be bringing back the “Will Work for Wine” sign.  So I shot the last wad of 2009 on a beautiful bottle of the BOTY.  I found $42.99 a bit more than I normally spend but enjoyed the special treat.  A 2006 Rodney Strong Meritage Symmetry Alexander Valley

Winemaker Notes - The 2006 Symmetry greets you with a generous bouquet of blackberries, ripe dark plums, sweet spices, and a hint of chocolate. It opens boldly on the palate with layers of blackberry, cassis, smoky dark chocolate and brown spice. This mouth-filling wine is rich, silky in texture, expansive, and quite long on the finish, and manages to be at once harmonious, powerful, and elegant. Intended to be enjoyable on release, Symmetry is destined for years of further evolution in the bottle. Savor it!

Stark at first, due to the 15.3% alcohol; then in a classy move, this wine settles into a majestic display of chocolate and black fruits.  The finish was as interesting as the revealing of a satin garter and silk stocking under a classy evening gown.  Thank you, Rodney, for starting the year with a solid entry into the pleasure of the grapes commingling in a Meritage orgy.  Happy FN ’10.

January 1, 2010

As I sit here this New Years Eve in my dark, dank third floor hovel, I marvel at the fact that we are entering into the 10th year of WinoStuff.  I also marvel at the fact that ten years ago, my computer, clock, microwave etc., didn’t blow up as double zeros in my computer’s brain meant sure disaster.  Ten years into the 21st century and my car still doesn’t fly.  Ten years into writing wine reviews and I am still banned in most California wineries.  Ten years of drinking wine for this site and my liver still resides inside me.  Could this be the year of the liver?  Will David Crosby take over for me?  Will WinoStuff.com continue to blaze the trail for all the other wine web sites on the internet? 

As I do every year, I have thought long and hard about my duty of naming the Grape of the Year. (Yes, I said duty and even while typing it, I chuckle to myself).  Besides, what else do I have to do sitting alone in a third floor room as the frosty wind whistles through cracked window glazing?  Let’s say the year of the Petite Sirah went about as well as the first year of the Obama administration.  Hauntingly prophetic in that call.  Yes, it has been a long time since I have commented on the current affairs of this nation.  How’s that worked out?  I think the White House would have benefited from our criticism thus making their first year better and hence making our year better.  The year rode in on the promise of 'Hope and Change' when there will no longer be red states and blue states but one purple country.  As purple liquid is my favorite color, I was optimistic.  Unfortunately, polls show that we are more divided as a nation now than a year ago.  I only bring this up as background for this year’s final decision. 

I also was intrigued by Tiger Woods' disclosure this year.  A person that presented to the public a promise, an image, a barrier-breaker in a sport where the ball was not the only white thing dominant at the Club. As we end 2009, I can’t help but think about Tiger and Barrack.  What could this mean to 2010 and how could the GOTY be significant?   So, I was thinking, Barrack and Tiger both are products of a mixed racial genetic soup.  Tiger had a penchant for mixing with women of many ethnicities.  Barrack transcended the politics of a two party system making the left wing and right wing come together in a harmonious voice of opposition. (OK, the last one is weak since he was more polarizing than homogenizing but let’s be like the mass media and ignore the facts and not dig too deeply when it comes to the President.)  Then, in the flash of genius synonymous with Hawking, Copernicus, and Carl Weinke (look him up for yourself, I don’t have time to spoon feed you), there is only one possible outcome for the 2010 Grape of The Year.  Winos and Winettes, I proudly declare 2010 the year of the:

BLEND

This year, we recognize the Cablinasian mix of grapes that bring us delight from their harmonious compliments.  At the recent Grape of the Year Determination Luncheon, members of WinoStuff's Executive Subcommittee on Grape Varietals and Viticulture presented numerous options for the actual blend to be honored.  We considered the blends of the Southern Rhone, the wines that had me intrigued enough to cause me to study what wine is all about back as a novice imbiber.  We also considered the Super Tuscans and Australian GSMs but, in the end, it was unanimous.  We opted for the blend that has defined premium wine for generations.  This year's Blend of the Year is....

The Bordeaux-Style Blend
(aka Meritage)

           

The Bordeaux-Style blend or Meritage is typically a blend of five different grape varietals; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot.  I offer the Bordeaux wines as the only thing French, besides the kiss, that Wino John will open his mouth for.  But most of all, I call 2010’s GOTY, the BOTY for the beautifully crafted Meritage offerings from the good ole USA.  (Any of you homos call it "meritauge" or something else French-sounding, I’ll kill you.)  For the record, the word comes from 'merit' and 'heritage'.  As far as the country and the world, we all need a little more mixing and blending instead of clashing and fragmenting. As the great orator Rodney King once said to the vines, “Can’t we all just get along.”?

I have been a long time proponent of the blend. Each year it offers consistency despite world climate change.  Many times the sum is greater than its parts.  Hey, call Stephen Hawking; we may have just created matter.  Please hop on www.meritage.org and see all the wineries that belong to the association.  We know that Bordeaux’s pedantic arcane rules define that entire region as a blend. 

Here is wishing that 2010 be a great year and that the mixing of attitudes, ideologies, metaphors, races, sexual partners, and grapes enhances your life in a way a segregated selection will not.

 

Bob’s scale combining cost and taste: 

 

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

 

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

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


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