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 31. This 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
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
Clos des Andes
2006 Bodegas Caro Caro
- my wine of the flight
2005 Cuvelier los Andes Grand
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.
(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
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
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
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
2007 Duckhorn Decoy Napa Valley Red Wine
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
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
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
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:
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
3. 2000 Chateau
- 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
2005 Swithback Ridge Petersen Family Vineyards
2001 Haan Prestige Merlot
- my pick of the night though $55.00 is crazy.
2004 Blankiet Estate Paradise Hill Merlot
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.
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
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
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 Red.
Well-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.
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,
Pride 2007 Napa County - well balanced and
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 -
Mollydooker Blue-eyed Boy - my personal fav of
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:
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
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
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
$- under 20
$$- 20-50 dollars
$$$$-75 to 100
$$$$$-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!!!.