The Best of

Bob’s Winings

Tasting Notes from a Beer Drinker

 


This page contains Winings from the 2nd Quarter of the year 2001.

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June 28, 2001

Are any of you Winos in the same position I am?  My parents have reached that point when they have decided to move to their retirement home.  This means they are cleaning out the crap that has been tucked away in closets and attics for the past 41 years.  Yes, 41 years ago they bought their starter home in the suburbs, well Bloomfield was a suburb in 1960.  The peach farm had been sub-divided into 35 x 140 foot lots with a babbling brook bringing a countryside escape from the city.  Weeping willows line the edge of the brook where we learned to ice skate and raft and swung on an old Chevy Biscayne tire tied to the outer most limb hanging over the pond.

As the kids departed, we took the essentials, but left the things that would not fit into our starter apartments.  My younger brother moved to Manhattan and space was a premium.  My older brother went west and the cost to move in the 70’s prohibited his taking the unnecessary stuff. This leaves my sister and I to rifle through the remains of the stuff we grew up with and decide what to keep, what to throw out, and what to take home and throw out once we are out of sight.

I know, this is a long days journey into a wine story, but indulge me for a bit, I have not rambled nonsensically for awhile.  The weekend came for me to do my part in the clean out of the house and I headed down to the basement to see what was left after the third yard sale.  Had I known then what I know now, I would have saved all my GI Joes and accessories.  The only things I found were my Gemini Capsule, one GI with life-like hair and my original GI Joe.  There is a footlocker with the original Navy uniform and the night watchman’s sweater and Le Beau hat.  Now at 400-500 dollars for boxed GI Joe’s I could have funded the Bordeaux section in my wine cellar with all first growths.

We were board-game kids and there were a few left that I took in hopes of one day playing with my kids…

So now I get to the tie-in with wine. Thank you Wino Bob, I was just about to click on the White Zinfandel homepage from your touching childhood memories…

One of the board games, yes Gen Xer’s, this was what we had in the olden days before video this and handheld that.  One game was called Risk.  This game was a Neo-Napoleonic war strategy game to conquer the world using dice and these wooden tokens that represented your armies.  OK, graphics were not the highlight.  When my brothers and I would play this game, I had a strategy where I would bolster my armies in Canada, and come across Kamchatka, through Yakutsk and into Ural.  Once there, one could capture China, Siam, India, Australia and Indonesia if Ukraine was your strong hold.

Today, I was looking at the board and realized if I were playing it, I would defend to the death the wine producing regions of the world.  From France, Italy, and Germany, to Australia and South Africa, I would be the Armies of the Grapes.  I would pick the purple wooden tokens that would represent my armies and fend off anyone trying to attack the richest soils that my nectar of the Gods grew on.  This game has a whole new meaning to me now, I don’t want to conquer the world, and I just want to control the wine production and distribution to the world from the best wine growing regions. 

The rest of the stuff will sit in my attic until I decide to retire and one day my kids will be going through the attic and find Risk in the corner.  I hope it goes into the pile they take home and throw out, instead of trashing it in front of me.  Or worse, maybe I’ll wind up in a home, in a robe, babbling senselessly (since I have such practice at it now) and clutching the game Risk, challenging the other old people to defend the World of Wine…

 

June 24, 2001

Wino Wally, I thank you for forcing my to drink white wine.  As the hot, humid nights of summer have captured the New Jersey area, a nicely chilled white wine has me rethinking my wine cellar.  As you saw in the past from Wino John’s depiction of my wine rack, white wines were the intrusion in my red wine cellar.  Since Wino Wally recommended we look for summer white wines, I have enjoyed grapes I never knew existed; sylvaner, gruener veltliner, vernacci and now my latest example- steen (what most of the world calls Chenin blanc).

In the past I have tried some Chenin Blanc, but found them too green and steely for my taste.  South Africa has made one that I greatly enjoyed, much different in style than the California Chenin Blanc’s I have had in the past.

I found this wine to be floral and fruity at the nose, with a great fruit/acid balance.  I need to try this with several different foods to see how it holds up, but I will admit, this is a wine that caught my attention for it’s flavor and fruit.  For the price, this is a must drink this summer for me.

By the way, next week at Bacchus the wine tasting is called, Porch Wines, great value wines for the summer.  I wonder where they got that idea?  Do you think Joe the Wine Guy read Wino Wally’s column?  Seems coincidental…

2000 KWV Steen $ (7.50)   Not a premium wine, buy this to drink through the hot summer months.  Great value for this wine.  Tops my Porch Wine List…

June 23, 2001

Tuscany, the Italian Mecca of Red Wine, according to the tasting we went to.  “The sangiovese grape makes a beautiful wine that can be so versatile with food.  No other wine can complement as large a variety of dishes that Chef Mike can prepare,” stated Sylvia Frodella, owner of Bacchus.  Sylvia spoke passionately for the opening of the wine tasting, about the area her people come from in Italy and the great producers of wine.  For Sylvia, the Super Tuscans surpass the Bordeaux region in age and quality of wine. 

As pictured here, white wines are not the grapes of the region.  Out of the 8 wines we tasted; one was white and mediocre at best.  The reds are where it’s at.  Joe the Wine Guy gave us a nice selection of wine, though I had to bring my own bottle of Sassicaia to finish off the evening at the top of the food chain.  We tasted the following wines:

San Quirico, Vernaccia di San Gimignano- the Vernaccia grape produces a crisp white wine with mild fruitiness and could be considered for drinking on a hot summer day as long as the wine is well chilled.  To be open minded, I would list this on the Wino Wally Summer Wine list of mine.

La Braccesca, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano- the red wine I liked the least, not much character and the fruit faded quickly.

Castello di Meleto, Chianti Classico- a good representation of the true nature of the sangiovese grape.  I would drink this with pasta and mussels in marinara sauce.

Castello di Brolio, Chianti Classico- a more structured wine with good dark cherry fruit.

Castello di Meleto “Fiore”- a super Tuscan at a great price, this blend has character and depth at a $38.00 price.  My favorite of the night, but I have a tendency to enjoy blends due to the changing characteristics offered by the different grapes.

Altesino Rosso di Montalcino- good fruit, but a wine that I could take or leave

Argiano, Brunello di Montalcino- Big, Bold, plum and dark cherry fruit that has length and enough tannin to know this will drink well into the future.  As the sangiovese wines go, this was king, but was edged out by the super Tuscan style wine that captured my palate.  

June 20, 2001

Long summer days mean plenty of time to sit on the porch drinking wine.  Last night I went to have a glass of a cool crisp white wine to combat that hot, muggy New Jersey weather.  As I settled into the bar stool that soon will have the brass plate with my name on it, Tom told me he had a new wine by the glass he wanted me to try.  Not wanting to send shock waves through Fairfield and refuse his recommendation, he poured up a pleasant Zin that was fresh, with good fruit and a light finish.  Not a wine I could put on Wally’s Summer list, but this Zin was not as harsh and heavy as some I have had in the past.

While I was there, I was fortunate enough to sign up for a Tuscany Wine class tonight.  Joe the Wine Guy tells me the class is booked out, people love Italian Wines.  So tonight I go to get an education in search of those great Italian wines that don’t send my wallet into apoplexy.

1998 Kempton Clark Mad Zin $ (12.00)   This wine is called MAD (Multiple Appellation Designate) and brings grapes from several great wine regions in California.  Comprised of 85% Zinfandel, and the balance Alicante Bouschet and Petite Sirah.  Balanced and full of berries, this is a pleasurable wine to consume on a clear summer night when the sun and humidity have dropped and a light breeze occasionally rustles the leaves.

June 16, 2001

Any of you Winos live in a town where they have an arena football team?  Any of you Winos ever attend an arena football game?  For those of you who have not had the pleasure, you might find this amusing.  Last night I attended a game between the NJ Gladiators and the Florida Bobcats.  Attendance at Continental Arena, 1,123.  Yes, the Arena seats 20,000 so everyone is within the first 40 rows.  To sum things up, the players are not good, the fans consist of people who cannot get tickets to the NFL and the wine list is none existent.  With the Gladiators down 38-20, the half time entertainment was AGNI, Man of Fire.  AGNI juggles, waves, holds, and dances with fire.  For his grand finale, AGNI holds this liquid in his mouth, and holds a torch in front of his face.  The music heightens and AGNI sprays out this liquid, which I believe is Grappa based on the crap I have had in the past.  

Well, last night, as AGNI performed his big closer, which the world has enjoyed for oh so many years, AGNI’s liquid did not all come straight up to the flame.  No, this time trails of liquid trickled down his chin, which immediately ignited AGNI’s face, as the disco song , “Burn Baby Burn”, cranked in the background.  AGNI dropped his torches on the Astroturf, starting a small smolder as he tried to put out his face.  Hey, sounds like a great family night of entertainment.  What, does this have to do with wine?  NOTHING.  I just thought it was a wild story and wanted to share it with my friends.

Did any of you get the Sassicaia Packet from American Express this week?  I did, the 1998 is in the cellar sleeping for the next 10 years, but the autographed book is beautiful.  Be ready for the Sassicaia facts to start flowing over the next few weeks as I dig into the book.

When I got home, I had to calm myself from the AGNI incident with a bottle of red wine.  It made me sleep easier.

1998 KWV Rooderberg $ (11.00)    A pleasant blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon which brings a smooth, fruity sensation to the palate.  A wine for enjoying with friends with blackberry and cherry and mild tannin.  Enjoy now or over the next few years, but not a keeper for more than 5.

June 8, 2001

Did this ever happen to you?  I know that I say way too much about my personal life for a wine review page, but why stop now?)  You are having a great meal with friends and then the dreaded moment when dinner is over and the couple you are with invite you back to their house for coffee.  Sometimes after a great meal, I prefer heading home in case one of the five courses has an adverse reaction.  So, as fate would have it, I am in the home of an acquaintance and the second course starts running through my stomach like a flash flood in a desert rainstorm.  With too long a drive and not wanting to abruptly leave, I excuse myself to the bathroom and turn the water faucet on to save the embarrassment of the symphony that followed.  With time on my hands, I looked through the magazines on the small heart shaped stool to the right of the commode.  Underneath the Family Circle and the Martha Stewart magazines was an old issue of Food and Wine magazine.  This dated back to December 2000, the Christmas Issue.  Leafing through the context, I found two articles suited for my wino friends Wally and John.  The first was an article entitled Gadget Guidance, perfectly suited for Wino Wally’s love of the Gadget.  This was an interview with Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com.  Look at all the connections, Internet guru, gadgets, wine…  Jeff’s favorite wine related gizmo is the Metrokane’s Rabbit Corkscrew.  This thing looks like a hand-held drill press sporting a pair of vise grips to hold the bottle.  I suddenly found myself with Corkscrew envy.

The article that really captivated me was the one on dining in Silicone Valley with billionaire Jim Clark, founder of Netscape, Healtheon, Silicon Graphics and whatever else he feels is worth investing in.  Boater, culinary expert, and serious Pinot Noir Wino.  Wino John, if I were you, I would contact Mr. Kaplan, author of the article and show him the date on your published theory that wine and technology have been co-joined since the birth of the transistor.  I know the article is 18 months old, but if you do get the chance to dig through the magazine pile at a friend’s house, take the time to read this issue.  By the way, just a little hint, if I ever come over for coffee after a great meal, make sure there is plenty to read in the library.

1998 Justine Estate Syrah $ (20.00)   Deep ruby color, smoke and fruit nose and a pleasant jammy flavor.  Hints of tannin, and a gaminess of wild berries and beef jerky.  Drinkable now, but this is a wine that will last over the next several years.

June 3, 2001

With the warm weather dancing in the air, and me needing to get back to the red wine I prefer over the summery white wines, I tasted two Spanish wines last night.  Yes, it was at Bacchus and yes, Wino Joe made the recommendation.  By the way, if any of you are looking for something exciting to do on June 12th, the owners of Bacchus, the beautiful and talented Sylvia and Mike, are doing a cooking demonstration and wine pairing.  Sylvia has a great sense of humor and should make a fun experience out of it.

Wanting a wine on the lighter side, Joe recommended a Reserva from the best know wine region in Spain, the Rioja. (The insert on the left shows the vineyards of the La Rioja Alta SA winery.)

This soil gives rise to the famous Tempranillo grape and the complementary Granacha. (Grenache for us Rhone people).

The second wine I enjoyed very much due to its blending of Granacha and Syrah.  This second wine comes from a lesser know region called Tarragona (see insert)

 

This wine is a much heavier style then the Rioja and fit more to my style.  Both were summery red wines, though the Tarragona I would save for after the sun went down, a bit full for the late afternoon heat.

1994 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva $$ (40.00 rest.)    M

1999 Cellar Cooperatiu de Capanes Mas Donis $ (15.00)      Full-body, deep, dark color with violet shades. This blend of 80% Granacha and 20% Syrah brings weight to the palate and tons of fruit.  Hold on for the ride, this has a long finish and a moderate amount of tannin.  A great dinner wine for Big Red drinkers.

 

May 29,2001

Wino Wally, your summertime challenge has me drinking white wine made from grapes I need to read encyclopedias to find information on.  But the one I had today was a winner and one I expect you and Sometimes Winette Sharon to serve at your next Bar-B-Q.  The wine was made from a grape called Sylvaner (silvaner). I have seen it spelled both ways.  It is a grape hailing from the Alsace region of France and has been lessened by the upswing in great Johannisberg Rieslings from this region.  This is a grape that has also been crossed to yield the Muller-Thurgau hybrid and a Scheurebe as well.  White wines are not all Chardonnays and this is an easy drinking grape for a hot summer day.

1999 Dopff & Irion Crustace $ (7.99)     Rating this on price and value, this is a buy in my book.  Clean, zesty, and with a citrus flavor, this wine has a floral nose and an easy drinkability.  Not a classic, but a great summertime wine.  A great complement to Salmon in Lobster Bisque, it did not shy away from the sauce.

1998 French Creek Ridge Chardonnay $ (11.00)   This is the first bottle from French Creek Ridge of Pa. that I liked.  The oak gives this a body and creaminess with a classy vanilla flavor.  The length was disappointing since the set up is so strong.  I haven’t liked anything else from this winery yet, but this one was good.

May 28, 2001

  • I thought I’d share a few facts about the French Wine production in the area I love the most, the Rhone Valley.

  • 72,300 hectares and 7,000 wine-producing properties.

  • The second largest AOC-producing vineyard in France, in terms of area and production.

  • More than 3 million hectoliters produced each year.

  • 442 million bottles sold per year.

  • Annual turnover of FF 6 billion, FF 1.2 billion of which are from exports.

  • Largest provider of work in the Rhône Valley in terms of direct and indirect employment.

Surface area and yields:

With a surface area of 72,000 hectares and production on the order of 3 million hectoliters per year, the Rhône Valley wine-producing area is larger than Burgundy's and the Loire Valley's combined, and it is the second largest wine-producing region in all of France.

 

Allocation of land in the rhône valley:

 

There are three colors of wine in the rhône valley: white, red, and rosé.

 

 

May 27, 2001

Memorial Day weekend.  My hat’s off to any of the winos out there that served this great country of ours.  No big speeches, just a big Thank You.  I’m sure the bars in Southeast Asia aren’t known for their fine Bordeaux.  As Memorial Day weekend is upon us, two things come to mind.  First, this is the official kick off to the great Bar-B-Q season as the summertime fun and activities lead me to many a mosquito infested night on the front porch.  Second, it’s a three day weekend, leaving Sunday night as a “Let’s drink the whole damn bottle, since I don’t have to get up at 6 AM tomorrow.”

Being one to never shy away from a challenge, I have taken up to finding light summertime white wines per Wino Wally's request.  Not being a white wine drinker, I went to the expert, Joe the Wine Guy.  Joe loves white wines, which is odd for someone working around all that meat in the Chop House.  Be that as it may, I was tempted to drink a Sancerre, but instead Joe the Wine Guy brought out a wine that I bet Sometimes A Winette Sharon would love for a refreshing, light summertime wine.  Keeping with the theme of new experiences and keeping an open mind, I drank a bottle made from Gruner Veltliner.  Yes, to my never-ending educational process, this is a white grape that makes some famous wines from Austria.  Though Rieslings are more common from this region, the Gruner Veltliner is a great summer wine

 

Wine Areas in Austria

The wine comes from the Kremstal region and the Nigl Family Winery is an award-winning vineyard.  Try something new, fresh and summery and let Wino Wally know if it makes your list.

1999 Nigl Gruner Veltliner $ (18.00)    Young, crisp, clean and refreshing with a zip of citrus flavor.  This is a great compliment to grilled fish, lobster and shrimp.  1999 is a great year in Austrian wines.  Enjoy.

 

May 25, 2001

Winos and winettes, I am embarrassed to admit that I have not been keeping up with my entries.  The world as we know it is hurling through space at 1000 miles a minute and so has the time since my last entry.  Sometimes I need to have Superman fly to the equator and slow down the spinning so there is more time in the day.  I never understood how he could fly into outer space and still breathe.  The one thing that gets me the most about Superman is when the bad guy is cornered and unloads the six rounds at Superman’s chest, bullets ricocheting off him left and right.  Then, what does the bad guy do every time?  Yes, he throws the gun at Superman!  Now think of this.  A piece of lead hurling across six feet at a thousand meters per sec cannot penetrate Superman’s chest, but a 34 oz. gun thrown at 45 miles per hour is going to do what? 

Wino Bob, what the hell does this have to do with wine?  Nothing.  Sorry, my mind was just caught in a momentary lapse…

I have enjoyed wine over the past week and have had a new grape that I never heard of until Joe the Wine Guy served it up at the bar in Bacchus.  I did go to the Wine Pairing Dinner at Bacchus and had an excellent time.  Bacchus will put together a custom wine pairing for six or more so get your wino friends together and make a time with Joe the Wine Guy to enjoy an absolutely fantastic meal.

Just to give you an idea of the menu:

Grilled veggie buschette and salmon and goat cheese over toasted (fill in the blank here, Bob) was complemented by a 1999 Michel Brock Sancerre from the Loire Valley.  This wine is light and refreshing with a great fruit/acid balance.  This is a lighter summer time wine that I would put on my list for Wino Wally.

Caramelized diver sea scallops with aspiration and orange zest in a citrus buerre blanc.  We altered the menu here and went with White Burgundy. Since Joe the Wine Guy altered this at my request, I did not have the label available.  I will tell you that the minerality of the White burgundy was a great companion to the scallops.

Pink peppercorn-dusted rare Ahi Tuna with cucumber noodles in a pinot noir reduction.  1998 Dureuil-Janthial “Rosey” from the Rully region of Burgundy.  This Burgundy had the nose of a spicy Rhone style and stood up well to the dusting of pink peppercorn.  I tend to shy away from Burgundies since it is such a fleshy, soft grape.  But fellow winos, this is a wine to experience.  Not like the traditional Pinot Noirs but rather bold and expressive.

Grilled fan fillet ostrich with blackberry chutney and Idaho potato ribbons.  1998 Domaine Alfred “Chamisal Vineyard” from Edna Valley, California.  The region is moving closer to the excitement Pinot growers have about Carneros.  This wine is a more traditional berry flavor that was enhanced by the blackberry chutney.

And if there was room for desert, tri-color sorbet.  1998 Quady, “Elysium”, Black Muscat.  The perfect ending to a gourmet experience.

I do not know how else to express the fact that for anyone close to North Jersey, you need to see Joe the Wine Guy and set up a pairing dinner.  You will never be the same afterwards.

I am not making a new entry because I failed to write down the label, but the other night, Joe the Wine Guy served us up a bottle of wine made from the grape, Tannat.  I never saw, heard, or tasted Tannat until last Tuesday, but this is a big bold grape.  Traditionally used in the Madiran region in Southwestern France, the wine we tasted was from Spain.  This grape is not for the weak at heart, having jaggedness to the finish, with a bit of a bite.  A long time in the bottle will bring the jammy fruit to the front and make this a more enjoyable experience.

1998 Hedges Columbia Valley Red Wine $ (11.00)   Dark and deep purple color, this blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 5% Syrah gives this depth and complexity.  Raspberry, chocolate and cranberry flavors dance in your mouth, but the wine does not last long enough to push this higher on the list.

 

May 24, 2001

Dear Bob-

Thank you for your interest in Clos Pegase and for your kind words about or 1991 Artist Series Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  The blend of the grapes for that vintage was 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Franc.

Please let me know if there are any further questions I can answer.

Thank you.

Amy Scribner

Marketing Assistant
Clos Pegase
ascribner@clospegase.com
Phone 707/942-4981
Fax 707/942-4993
 

When in doubt, ask the vineyard.  I really enjoyed that Clos Pegase and wrote them to ask the blend.  The fruit was driven but the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot backed the tannin down to make this wine a treat.

 

May 20, 2001

Nouveau Cuisine, another French invention.  Why don’t they just call it Big Plate, Little Colorful Food With a Drizzled Sauce?  Big on presentation, but a sure trip to Wendy’s on the way home to load up on some good old greasy fries. 

My younger brother is doing the Newhart thing.  Yes, he is giving up a secure job as Dean of the Engineering School in an Ivy League university in Manhattan and is moving to Hawaii.  His hope is to locate a nice piece of property and open a Bed and Breakfast.  It must be nice to be in a position to lock up the apartment you own in NYC and head out to start anew in a tropical paradise.  And if things don’t work out, it’s back to NY City to find a new career. 

So today, we threw a dart on the map that was centrally located for the Clampets to meet and we had a “Good-bye, Congratulations, Best Wishes Sunday Dinner” at a restaurant in Basking Ridge, NJ.  We thought we were going to a place called Girafe, but it changed names and cuisine several months ago.  The food was tasteful, but the dinner was appetizer size, though the plate was not.  Having a bunch of non-drinkers in the family (that’s why I am making up for it), I was relegated to the wines by the glass.  I did see the wine list and it had some top brands, but the pricing was OUTRAGEOUS.  Most high end wines were one hundred dollars or more over retail price.  I just can’t see spending that freely when I know I can buy it almost two for one and enjoy it at home.

Their wine by the glass selection was small, but since it was an Italian restaurant, I went with the waiter’s selection, which turned out to be an enjoyable wine.  So to my brother, Richard, I drink a toast to his new venture in Hawaii, hoping that things will work out and I will fly there to help him establish his cellar and pair the first menu.

1998 Castello Banfi Centine $ (11.00)    From the winery that brings us the big, bold red wine, Summus, this is a lighter, fruitier wine that is well balanced and refreshing.  Comprised of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot, this wine is a good companion to pastas and grilled meats.  Fun for a summer’s night, but not for an elegant dinner. 

May 18, 2001

Winos and Winettes, for those of you who still have your Platinum Am Ex cards even thought the cash you had in the market is disappearing, American Express is offering a special on the original Super Tuscan.  Yes, Sassicaia, the first Cabernet Sauvignon made in the Chianti region of Italy, has made available a limited supply of the 1998 soon-to-be-released wine, with a book that reveals the history of the wine and the family who produces it.  These books are signed, no not by Wino Bob, nor Kevin Zraly, but rather the author of the book.

For those who cannot get to the offer in time, I will review the book after I read it this August when they are planning to send out this special gift.  Happy Wining…

May 13, 2001

Civil War, Jumbo Shrimp, Government Intelligence. George Carlin put it best.  Polar opposites.  That was my wine experience last night.  After many hours in front of the computer yesterday, I sought comfort in a place that, by now, most people know my name.  Yes, I have become Norm taking my usual seat at the corner of the fiber-optic lit bar top that blends color changes every 20-30 seconds.  Like a mood ring on crack, this thing goes from green to blue to purple.  Nothing too dynamic, just soft subtle colors to enhance your mood.

As I ran over the wine list for the first time in 3 days, I wanted to order something new.  While I was making my selection, Joe the Wine Guy poured me a glass of the Saturday night featured wine, a Rhone.  Sticking with the theme, I ordered a Syrah, big surprise there.  The comparison between the wines was striking.  Right from the pour, these wines were on different tracks.  Needless to say, I went with the big heavy wine as my choice, but that’s why you have to try.  The wine they were serving as the house special is a solid, by-the-glass wine for red wine drinkers who usually drink Chardonnay.  Well, actually, the wine was more like dyed water.  It was great to quench my thirst for the moment, but in my opinion, its similarity to my style wine was that it was red and did come in a wine bottle with a cork.  Be that as it may, the beef carpacchio was a great compliment to my syrah and the cheese platter brought it together very well.  

1998 Cote du Luberon Les Petite Tourettes $ (12.00)   Any wine with the word tourettes in it leaves me wondering.  This is red water, great for a hot summer day, with ice, when you want to appear like you are drinking an adult beverage.  Dangerously close to the category of white zin… I can’t even write the word.

1999 Syrah Paraiso Springs Vineyard, Mendocino $$ (25.00)      Generous fruit, deep dark hue and a lengthy, layered finish.  Enough tannin to lay this one down for several years, but a strong blackberry flavor to enjoy now.  Toasted vanilla, spice and a hint of chocolate make this a delight.  A syrah style to treat friends to.

May 12, 2001

Being the Year of the Syrah, I went back to the Rhone for an enjoyable bottle of wine.  If Darryl Dawkins doesn’t mind, I am calling this one Chocolate Thunder.  Now, the King of Love Tram may not be a wine lover, and most likely he did not drink this wine to come up with his nickname, but from the nose of this wine, all I can smell was Chocolate.  It was not like I was at Hershey Park, but the aroma and flavors in this wine screamed Bosco.  The wine showed great fruit and a smooth, velvet finish, but that’s what Darryl Dawkins used to say about himself.  So, without pissing off Darryl, I recommend you find this wine, drink it and see if it helps with your backboard breaking slams…

1998 Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas Les Ruchets $$$ (65.00)     This is what made me fall in love with Rhone wines, power and grace with flavors and aromas that excite the senses.  Chocolate by the mouthful, dark berry fruit that is light in tannin, velvety and smooth with a long finish. Cedar brings a touch of spice to the palate.  A wonderful full body wine to sip with friends or cellar for a special dinner party.

May 9, 2001

As a kid, did you ever run with scissors?  Come on, we all know there are strict rules that we must follow, but when you have to be back at your desk and you are transporting a sharp object, you do what needs to be done.  What happened, you got caught, the teacher yelled at you, they may have even pinned a note on your shirt to take home that you were caught running with scissors.  Inside, you basically told the teacher to take a hike, it’s no big deal.  No one got hurt and the Macaroni man looks great hanging in the hall.   

Well, it seems that France is intolerant of those who do not follow their strict guidelines.  It seems that the brothers Marion, former owners of Chanson Pere & Fils, got caught running with scissors.  OK, so it wasn’t scissors, no the brothers ran into a crop of grapes that they knew was not going produce the best they had to offer, so they blended some grapes from a different region. 

Think about it, they knew they were going to charge outrageous prices for their wine, so they wanted to make a better product.  I don’t know, but there is this thing in France where they are real strict about placing appellation controlee labeling and only using grapes from that vineyard.  Sounds like they were just trying to make the best Macaroni Man they could and if they had to run with scissors to grab the best pieces of macaroni, so be it.

I ask you, is there no flexibility in France’s wine structure?  Is it better to produce a crappy wine that can be labeled correctly because all the grapes come from the property?  Or is the true reason you place your trademark on a bottle to ensure a high quality wine even if your vineyard had a bad crop?  I am a wine enthusiast, not a snobby purist.  Give me the best damn wine you can produce even if you have to get grapes from England…

Let me know your thoughts. 

May 2, 2001

The napkin, with every glass of wine they serve, you get a napkin.  If you are like me, that absorbent paper has detailed more get rich schemes then Ralph Kramden.  I don’t know what it is but as I start drinking wine, the mother of invention wells up inside and dances through my brain.  I start thinking I can design a cold fusion machine or a cryogenic tire-recycling unit.  The more wine, the more details flow through my pen onto that napkin.  Usually by the end of the bottle, I have the schematics for the system that will put me in the company of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.  The alcohol unleashes the roadblocks that my Clark Kent exterior hides during my normal working day.  I have the marketing plan, the business plan and the first round of capital all thought out.  As I leave the bar, I stuff that napkin in my pants pocket and head home to sleep on this invention that will make me the next millionaire.

Did you ever look at that napkin the next morning, through bloodshot eyes and a headache?  What the hell is this?  It looks like an egg and a triangle, with a scrolled series of Gothic style “S” letters and a colored-in tulip.  What the, who the….

I only wish I owned a bar, I’d collect all those napkin master pieces and publishes them with the explanations given by the inventors, while the wine is running fast and furious through their veins.  I wonder how many ideas that have become million dollar products started on the napkin drawing over a bottle of wine and friends shooting the shit about how their current job sucks and they could be so much better off if they could only invent this wine gizmo that will make them enough money to buy a vineyard in the Rhone Valley and export Syrah to the USA….Sorry, I’m getting too personal again, never mind.

Anyway, I had one of those lunches today and sketched out my latest hair-brained idea that will never come to market.  The best thing about the event was the great bottle of wine I enjoyed while scribbling.  The wine made the mind loosen up and get crazy.  If this one ever becomes a product, I will refer back to this bottle of wine and this wild lunch with visions of the next great idea…

1997 Lancaster Reserve Alexander Valley $$$ (59.00)    The blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Franc is an elegant wine that is smooth and full of black cherry.  This wine will cellar for the next 5 years to bring out more of the beauty in the bottle.  By the second glass, this wine balanced the tannin, fruits and floral aromas. Enjoy this one over a special dinner with real silverware and crystal goblets.

May 1, 2001

What do Dolly the sheep, OJ Simpson and Wino Bob have in common?  Lovers, occasionally, but the bigger picture evolves around the controversy of DNA.  Yes, Wino Bob loves a good sheep now and again, but a good grape I will take any day of the year.  After drinking the Puglia blended wine, I looked into the Primitivo grape and found a bit of controversy brewing.  In one of the articles I read, and on the label on the back of the wine bottle, Primitivo is called the Father of California’s Zinfandel grape.  Yes, research in DNA testing yields results that have some believing that Zinfandel is the direct descendant from the Primitivo grape.  Zinfandel, as we winos know, is a California phenomenon, but it just didn’t fall out of the sky.  As I dug further into this, on the golf course with OJ, since we weren’t successful in uncovering the other one in a billion person that had that blood type found at Nicole’s, we did find that the DNA finger printing done at U.C. Davis by Professor Carole Meredith had matched Primitivo and Zinfandel identically.  However, a variety of grapes, such as Zinfandel can have sub-types.  A clone is a sub-type, but they have identical genetic makeup.  On the vine, the two grapes appear different and yield far different attributes on the palate.  Enough distinction exists for the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to classify them as separate varietals.  If a guy that drinks, smokes cigars and owns a gun says, they ain’t the same, I believe him.  So, although the ATF has not classified anyone else that visited Nicole that night and OJ to be different varietals, they have classified the Primitivo and Zinfandel as cousins, not father and son.   

April 30, 2001

Winos and Winettes, I have been left to ponder two very important questions.  The first is like the old chicken and egg thing.  As a wine enthusiast, is it better to go to a restaurant with a great wine list, or is it better to go to a BYOW(bring your own wine) place?  As I drank my wine tonight with dinner at a new restaurant in Fairfield, NJ, I thought about the pros and cons for each.  Recently, one of the great waiters from Bacchus (The Official Second Home of WinoBob) left and is now heading the staff at a restaurant called Aria located at 4 Little Falls Road in Fairfield.  As you can guess, this is an Italian restaurant and Enrique greets everyone with a smile and service that makes you feel comfortable.  Aria currently does not have a liquor license leaving you free to bring a great bottle of wine from your cellar to compliment your meal. 

The pasta at Aria is made fresh on premise daily and I recommend the Cavatelli Con Pollo in a light pink sauce for a taste sensation of what they have to offer.  Without the wine bill, your credit card company won’t be embarrassing you by having you come to the phone and verify that you sent the check a few days ago and they will cover you this time since you are with people that will find it damaging to their delicate hands to wash dishes all night to pay for the meal.  NOT that I have been in that position before or anything…

The tough part of BYOW is that when the bottle is finished, your buzz and bravado cannot order the wine list and pick out that second bottle of wine that is twice as expensive as you can afford and you can only drink half of it 'cause the Sambuca and espresso are on the table with the dessert tray.  Also, if the wine sucks, you are stuck, unless you bring the $75.00 bottle, that you know you like and the restaurant would have charged you a buck and a half.  So I ask you, are BYOW places better than a great wine list?

I know not one of you will respond to the question but I am interested in finding out other opinions.  So to, the 2 other people that will read this, Wino John, Wino Wally, BYOW or Great Wine List???

Since I was not sure of the fare at Aria, I brought a bottle of red and a bottle of white.  I didn’t know what kind of mood tonight...  Hey, if there are any music industry winos out there, does that sound like it would make a good song?  Anyway, I brought a white wine from the Tuscany region of Italy and a red wine from the Puglia region.  The white wine was produced in the hills around San Gimignano.  Puglia is in the heel of the boot and was a blended wine.  Both were good, not great.

1995 Teruzzi & Puthod Vernaccia Di San Gimignano $ (11.00)    This is a summer’s eve wine, not a heavy meal wine.  Light, crisp, fruity and low in alcohol, this wine is something like refreshing lemonade on a hot summer day.  Next time I have a bar-b-q in the middle of August and I have guests that like wine coolers, I will throw a few bottles of this on ice and serve well chilled.  Fruity without the sweetness to offend.

1998 Terrale Sangiovese $ (5.99)    A blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20%Primitivo, this wine starts out harsh and acidic.  As the wine opens, there is a good fruit balance of black cherry and plum that plays in your mouth.  The disappointment in this wine is the shortness and thinness you experience after swallowing this berry drink.  The Primitivo adds a dimension to the lighter Sangiovese, but all is lost in the lack of length to this wine.  But for fewer than six dollars, not a bad buy.

April 29, 2001

Lest anyone think I haven’t been drinking wine, I have, but some of it was wine I commented on before or it was not worth commenting on now.  The problem is I haven’t been keeping up with the entries.  As the march for World Wide Web domination for Winostuff.com continues, and in light of the news Wino John posted regarding wine.com, Wino Bob has bartered wine for goods to keep our costs down.  At our last Winostuff.com Board Meeting, Wino Wally defined one of the action items for the growth of our organization.  “What we need for this company is… business cards.  That’s right, we can’t be the President, VP, or CEO of an organization unless we have a card that is printed with a title under our names.” 

Having a friend who owns a printing shop, I stepped up to the plate and volunteered to secure the business cards.  Now, I just had to figure out how to pay for them, since our revenue stream is zero and our VC money, application, paperwork, and... never mind.  Like beads for Manhattan, I dug up some wine for business cards.  I pulled out a couple bottles I never tried before, poured out 2 glasses and handed over the winostuff.com logo to Wino Tom for printing the official business cards which we can use at the high powered meetings with our bankers and lawyers, or at least we now have something to stuff under the leg of the wobbly table at Bacchus so we don’t spill our wine.

1999 Kanonkop Pinotage $ (12.00)    South Africa’s specialty, the hybrid between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, this wine leaned more to the darker, richer Rhone grape than the Burgundian fruit.  Medium acid, good fruit, vibrant and snappy.  This is a wine for easy drinking.

1994 Vina Arana La Rioja Alta Reserva $$ (27.00) I am not rating this wine due to the fact that the aroma was offensive to me, I spilled the wine out.  The taste was not the issue; the pungent, musty odor offended my palate and made this an unpleasant experience.

1996 Bodgegas y Vinedos Alion $$ (43.00)   Medium body, red fruit and mild tannins, this wine came on a bit strong up front but mellowed nicely in the glass.  Not a long wine but a great compliment to light fare.  Cherry and vanilla flavors delight the senses.

April 28, 2001

I know we spend time posting all the great wine restaurants in the nation.  Well actually, Wino Wally and Wino John travel the world. My restaurant experiences are usually within a 10-mile radius of my computer.  I have an entry for this category and it’s not Bacchus.  Unfortunately, the review is not good, so I’m warning you right now.  

Several nights ago I was invited to a boy’s night out to see game one of the Devils round 2 playoff series against Toronto.  As customs go, dinner is first, since a hot dog and beer at the arena runs about the same as a Porterhouse steak.  The people who invited me picked the restaurant, so who am I to bitch?

We went to La Dolce Vita in Lyndhurst, NJ, and I was given the honor of picking the first wine.  For an Italian restaurant, the wine list was smaller then my cellar’s selection, first hint of trouble.  Not wanting to order the only Italian wine I recognized, Ruffino Classico, I selected a Barolo.  Nebbiolo from Piedmont, how could I go wrong?  “Sorry, Senior, we no have the Barolo.”  What?  NO Barolo in an Italian Restaurant?  This is an out rage, an insult to my knowledge of the great Italian wines, since I have become the searcher of great Italian Red wines.   So around the horn it went until the third man up finally selected a bottle of wine they had, good old Travaglini Gattinara.  So they pour, Harold swirls, sips and spits, right back into the glass, the Gattinara was Badttinara, salad dressing at best.

After wasting a half hour we finally ordered the Ruffino and, as expected, it was a good wine. 

April 17, 2001

Just a quick note to the NJ wine lovers in the crowd, mark your calendars as follows:

  • April 25, 2001- White Lies- yes there is more to white wine than Chardonnay and Joe the Wine Guy wants you to learn about it.

  • May 9, 2001- Ode to Bordeaux- find out why this region is credited with the birth of red wine.

You will taste 8 wines at each class and the cost is $38.00 per class.  Sign up early.  I’ll see you at the Bordeaux class.

April 16, 2001

Well, did you see the Discovery Channel last night?  It’s a fact, Wino Jesus drank red wine.  It was on the Discovery Channel.  It can’t be disputed now. 

I hope the Wine Lovers amongst us enjoyed the celebration.  Isn’t it a blast that we created all these holidays so we have an excuse to drink.  On most Monday Mornings, I wake up with a headache and shaking like a newborn because I review wines.  But this morning, I woke up that way for a good reason.  It was a Holiday and I had to drink wine.  And wine I did drink.  As Easter is a celebration of ANEW, I myself joined the festive spirit and drank a new.  I drank a new bottle of 1999 Chilean Wine, I drank a new producer of an Italian Red (yes, I am trying to get this thing right) and I drank a new grape varietal as a dessert wine, which is also new for me. 

Traditionally, with Easter morning fare, I would have cheap Cava and Orange Juice, but this year I took the path less traveled for me and brought out a bottle of Canadian Ice Wine. Yes, as I can attest to, there is a great deal of ice in Canada.  What I didn’t know was the amount of Ice Wine produced in Canada. So after a traditional Polish Easter breakfast filled with every artery clogging meat and cheese known to the Eastern Block countries during the time the Germans actually told Poland it no longer was a country and my ancestors pressed goat milk into a brick of crumbled cheese, we drank a very enjoyable glass of Canadian Ice Wine that I will talk about later.

Circling the wagons and getting ready for round two, I wanted something different while I watched the NJ Devils go up 2 games to nothing in their bid towards another Stanley Cup.  I opened what I thought would be a wine to enjoy with cheese and crackers and nachos, a Cabernet from Chile, where good solid value wines have been coming from but this one just didn’t cut it.  So down the drain it went and off the list for future purchases.  I dug up the wine I was planning to have for dinner, the wine made especially for Easter, yes the Aussie triple play, Holy Trinity.  This I had before, loved it as you can see from my review section, and it helped me clean out that Chilean Wine.

Dinner was Italian food and the only thing to do would be to get a great Italian Red.  I was given a 1981 wine by a guest and figured this was the winner.  I usually do not serve the wine brought by guests, since I plan my wine before I plan my guests, but with the selection we were having and my desperate search for the Italian Red Wine I could add to the list, a 1981 peaked my interest.

Dessert was usually cordials, but this time, I opened another Ice Wine, yes this one from the famed French Ridge Creek in Pennsylvania.  I will just say this; there is not as much ice in Pa. as there is in Canada and therefore, ipso facto, there is not as much good Ice Wine.  My opinion, but that’s what Wino John pays me the big bucks for, going out on a limb and making bold statements…

All in all, I managed to drink a bunch of different wines and keep the bed from spinning like the propeller on a spy plane. 

1999 Valle Andino Cabernet Sauvignon $ 8.99 Sorry, this one was bitter and harsh going down no matter how long I swirled, and let sit.  It never opened though it softened a bit, not a pleasant wine experience.

1981 Adesso Tenuta Zerbina Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore ? (Gift)    The color on this wine was a fine brown from the years it rested, the nose gave a faint red fruit aroma, mild, with not much of a bouquet.  The fruit was fading and the weight was thin and watery.  This wine had passed its peak and is resting on the shade slope.

1997 Magnotta Winery Vidal Ice Wine $$ 27.95 Honey syrup pours into the glass and a rich vibrant aroma of apricot greets your nose.  A lush weighty wine with honey, apricot and apples with a finish of nut.  Not too sweet for a dessert wine, a good compliment to raisin and cheese babka.

1997 French Ridge Creek Vidal Ice Wine ? (Gift)   Mild pineapples, citrus and apple nose and an acidic after taste.  A mild amount of fruit and sweetness arrive as the oxidation changes this in the glass.  Short finish.

April 14, 2001

Bacchus’ Wine Class Survival Kit was waiting at the place setting as we began Joe the Wine Guy’s class in the cozy glass enclosed room in the dining area at Bacchus.  Joe the Wine Guy was greeted with a question from one of the guests (who had been drinking during his dinner before class.) “What are your credentials to teach us about wine?”  I found out that Joe the Wine Guy went to Wine College.  Jesus, why was I so stupid?  I studied herbs in college.  

Anyway, to warm us up for California Wine night, Joe the Wine Guy gave us a brief history of wine in California which one day I will learn how to scan into my computer and post.  The Survival Kit comes with maps and charts of the AVA (American Viticulture Areas) in Cal., and we even discussed the aroma wheel.  What I enjoyed the most is the fact that the class size is intimate enough to have an open discussion about the wines, letting everyone describe the smells and taste sensations.  It was more like a small study group in college, rather than being in a big lecture hall with a Professor taking an intellectual dump.  We talked and joked and asked questions as we swirled and sipped and sipped and, hell, we drank the wine.  The wines we tasted were as follows:

Whites

1998 Hidden Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Mendocino - crisp, but not my style

1998 Napa Wine Co. Pinot Blanc Napa Valley - a crowd pleaser, good fruit

1999 Benziger Chardonnay Carneros - Not oaky enough for me, but Carneros is Chardonnay heaven

Red

1999 Bearboat Pinot Noir Russian River Valley - light and fruity

1999 Kunde Estate Bottled Merlot Sonoma Valley - deep lush cherry flavor

1998 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant - Rhone Rangers ride again!  I think Joe the Wine Guy threw this one in for me.

1997 Chateau Potelle Old Vines Zinfandel Amador County - Robitussin Cough syrup never went down this easy.

1997 Franciscan Oakville Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley - deep, rich and full of fruit. This was my favorite of the night.

The next class, in two weeks, is all about White Wines.  I will be missing that class.  However, the class after that, I will be sitting front and center to learn about Italian wines.  I understand the enrollment for that class is so large already, they will fill up the main dining room. 

For any Winos and Winettes in NJ, this is a great class that is only $38.00.  The food to enjoy between wines is worth more than that.  If you can make the class, please come by, drink some wine and have some fun. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

April 13, 2001

Needing to upgrade the technical aspects of my wine knowledge, I decided to investigate the science behind the age-old question, “Wino Bob, are a good pair of legs important in a fine wom…, wine?”  Legs, tears, tears of Christ, rivulets, a rose by any other name all have been used to describe this effect.  I am moving deeply into Wino John territory, but I wanted to know for myself what causes this effect on the inside of my Riedel stemware.

I found reference to work credited to Carlo Marangoni, who in the 1870’s provided surface tension-driven convection research to identify this phenomenon.  As I dug more deeply, understanding this effect was outlined in 1855 in a paper by James Thomson entitled, “On Certain Curious Motions Observable at the Surfaces of Wine and Other Alcoholic Liquors.”  In Wino Bob simplified terms, wine is composed of water and ethanol (alcohol).  As you bring the glass down from your mouth, a thin film of wine coats the inside of the glass.  Ethanol evaporates more readily at room temperature than water.  The resulting surface tension increase wicks more liquid up the inside of the glass until it becomes too heavy and drains back into the stemware.  The higher the alcohol content, the great the numbers of these tears, legs, or rivulets.  Since alcohol does not equate to quality in a wine, there is no correlation to use the legs in a glass to decide a great wine. 

I leave myself open to the editorial comments of our technical staff, but Wino Bob’s position remains that the only true way to determine the quality of a wine is to DRINK IT.

Enjoy

April 11, 2001

Winos and Winettes, if you can take only one wine class, if you have some time in NYC, do yourself a favor and sign up for Kevin Zraly’s Wine Class.  I guarantee you knowledge and fun and wine in a fast-paced 2 hours at the summit of NYC.  Spring in NY is a great time, the weather brings a sense of anew and people seem to shed their winter grumbles for a more cheerful attitude.  I took the water ferry from Hoboken and the 5-minute ride to the Financial district is relaxing.  Clear weather let us see from the Varranzanno to the George Washington Bridge.  The river was bustling with boaters eager to get a jump on the season and freighters heading up the East River.

The view from 106 stories up is like a postcard.  Though Monday night there was a lightning storm that created sights that were spectacular, Kevin informed us.

The wine was from France, inside France it was from Bordeaux, inside Bordeaux it was from Medoc, inside Medoc it was from Pauillac… Kevin reinforced the important aspects every beginner and not-so-beginner needs to remember to be able to understand the process.  To keep the class fun and educational, we tasted inexpensive and expensive wines, older and younger wines and Merlot based and Cabernet based wines.  I cannot comment on all 11, but I will tell you the wines.  Kevin blind tastes the cheaper and more expensive wines so we are not influenced by the label or reputation of the wine.  It really is a brilliant way he conducts the class and please, do yourself a favor and call the Wine School Office at 914-255-1456.  I do not get anything for the recommendation, but it helps our credibility if you mention you heard about the Wine School from WinoStuff.com. 

The Wines we enjoyed were as follows:

1997 Mouton Cadet- inexpensive and the largest Bordeaux sold in the US- Blind Tasted
1997 Barton & Guestier - Saint Julien
1996 Chateau Les Ormes de Pez - St. Estephe 1996 was a great year
1995 Chateau Haut Batailley - Pauillac, another great year
1994 Chateau Meyney - St. Estephe blind comparison with next two wines
1994 Chateau Duhart-Milon Rothschild - Pauillac, blind comparison, forth growth
1994 Chateau Lafite Rothschild - Pauillac- blind comparison, needs time first growth 1855 classification
1993 Chateau Phelan Segur - St. Estephe
1993 Chateau Gruard Larose - St. Julien second growth- power and beauty
1989 Chateau Simard - St. Emilion, Merlot heavy, not my style
1988 Chateau Leoville-Las Cases - St. Julien, second growth, pure heaven, a wine that could be cellared for yet another 20 years, but shows all the attributes of why Bordeaux wines are the most sought in the collectors market.

Tonight I will be at Bacchus, tasting California wines with Joe the Wine Guy’s class.  I will let you know the selection and styles of this class.

April 9, 2001

The key to staying current with your craft is to read and take refresher courses so one stays sharp.  Each year I take one Alumni class with the Kingpin of Wine, Mr. Kevin Zraly.  I looked at my Palm Pilot today and realized that tomorrow is this session’s refresher class for me.  I signed up for the Bordeaux Class that will be held tomorrow from 6:30PM - 8:30PM on the 106th Floor of the World Trade Center.  This time of year is great since the sun is setting later and the evening sky in Manhattan can be spectacular.  Drinking wine and looking down on NY harbor, seeing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island gives one a feeling of patriotism.  I take the water ferry from Hoboken, which is a great ride in warm weather.

Kevin requires the class to drink a bottle of wine from the region he will be speaking about.  With Bordeaux he wants you to keep the wine price reasonable.  So I did my homework and dug into a bottle of “inexpensive” Bordeaux.  Yes, I enjoyed this wine with a culinary treat called “an Italian Hot Dog”.  For those of you out there not from the NY area, an Italian Hot Dog is deep fried so the skin blisters like a 3rd degree burn, served with fried peppers and onions, French fried potatoes and mustard and ketchup, all stuffed in a pizza bread.  Do they call them French Fries in France?

So the food choice was not the best but I was under the gun to do my homework.  The one thing you do not want to do is go to Kevin’s class unprepared.  The wine I chose was from Medoc, on the Left Bank of Bordeaux.  From a sub-appellation called Pauillac.  The other sub-appellations are Margaux, Saint-Julien and Saint-Estephe.  If you are Bordeaux junkies like Wino John, you know that the Left Bank is heavy on the Cabernet Sauvignon in their blend; the Right Bank is heavy on the Merlot.

1996 Duhart-Milon Rothschild $$ (36.00)    An earthen nose and dark fruit rise from the glass, but the taste of this wine was a bit flabby.  Smoke and tobacco and soft tannins kept this from standing out.

April 6, 2001

My theory holds true. Wino Bob loves expensive Italian red wines.  Last night, I met business associates/friends for dinner and we went to…dare I say, Bacchus (The Official Chop House and Wine Bar of WinoStuff).  The associates I met with were the guys I ate a great meal with at the Rainwater Restaurant in San Diego, Ca.  Being Beef and Red winos, I treated them to a reciprocal dining experience.  

These brothers own a contract manufacturing shop in Paterson, NJ.  Did I mention Paterson is the home of Lou Costello?  One of the brothers and I had lunch at Nino’s last Friday with that really nice twelve dollar wine.  Anyway, I did what any novice would do when faced with a wine selection with which I have limited experience, I picked a name I read about and a price that should deliver a good wine.  Since I haven’t had the chance to speak with Wino John since his trip half way around the world, I asked if he would join us and we could have our big business meeting after we were all liquored up.  Dinner was great as always, but made better by technogeek speak interwoven with detailed stories of great bottles of wine.  

The two wines we enjoyed through dinner have me back in search of more Italian red wines.  At one point, I looked around the table and as each of us picked up our glass to drink, we first took a lingering hit of the bouquet in the glass.  By the end of the meal, Joe the Wine Guy suggested a dessert wine and Belgium Chocolates that I never would have thought to pair.  That’s why Joe IS the Wine Guy.  We sat there for several hours talking shop and when the conversation slowed, we took a drink and commented on the wine and that fueled the next discussion.  The wine really enhanced our dining experience and gave us all the challenge to find another time to get together at a wine-friendly restaurant and talk some more technogeek and drink some more great wine. 

1997 Luce $$$(95.00 rest.)  Robert Mondavi forms great business partnerships and Luce is a result of one.  A Super Tuscan comprised of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot, this wine delivered an impressive long berry and currant flavored wine.  Soft and velvety, this wine drank well from start to finish.  A treat for any fine Italian food experience.

1997Castello Banfi SummuS $$$ (96.00 rest)    WOW- This purplish, inky wine is a powerhouse, the blending of 45% Brunello di Montalcino, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah.  This is an experience every Big Red Wine Lover needs to have once in your life. Luscious, dark fruit flavors, full-bodied and balanced tannins, make this wine invade your palate and keep you asking for more.  The cepages of this blend bring structure, elegance, and complexity that will make you take a loan out to buy a case.  A truly enjoyable sensory experience.

Bonny Doon Muscat Vin de Glaciere $$ (35.00)    Sweetness with an apricot nose and a pear flavor that will finish a meal as a perfect compliment to dessert. A golden-yellow nectar to satisfy your sweet tooth.    

April 4, 2001

Who is Mike Hartenberger and why is Wino Bob starting off his entry with that name?  Anyone?  Well, Mike Hartenberger is the OWNER of Midnight Cellars Winery and Vineyard and Wino Bob was luck enough to be in the right place at the right time.  The owner of Bacchus was nice enough to introduce me to Mr. Hartenberger who was dining at Bacchus for a high-level business meeting.  To my delight, I sampled a powerful syrah, a solid Bordeaux Blend, a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, and a Cabernet Sauvignon.  I did pass on the Chardonnay and the Merlot, but Midnight Cellars will soon be listed on the wine menu at Bacchus.  For those wanting an enjoyable wine, ready to drink with great fruit, the 1997 Cabernet is the one.  I understand it retails for around $21.00.  The Reserve and Bordeaux need time in the bottle being tight right now.  The Syrah is full and rich and a treat for us Rhonies. 

So, dare I say, my new friend, Mr. Hartenberger had a pleasant conversation about wine and I look forward to checking in the guest book to see if there are any new names on the book.  As I learn more about this winery, I will keep you posted.

April 2, 2001

Why don’t I listen to myself more often?  I walk around all day talking to myself, but I’m the last one to take my own advice.  What’s this year, the year of the Syrah?  Who made it the year of the Syrah?  Wino Bob.  Who hasn’t had a Syrah in a while?  Wino Bob.  With the bad habit of grilled fish on Sunday, I prepped a Tuna Steak with olive oil, lemon, rosemary, mint leaves and a dash of red wine and Webber-grilled it 3.5 minutes each side.  With all the crappy wines I have had of late, I pushed the Italian Red wines to the far right side of the rack and dug up a Shiraz.  Yes a down under, dyed in the wool, deep, dark, rich grape that I love as a cepage or blended Rhone style.  I found comfort and pleasure in this noble grape and a warm sense of satisfaction when it turned out to be a great bottle of wine for fewer than ten dollars.  This is a wine I will buy a case of and drink willy-nilly on those Thursday nights when I need a glass but don’t want to open the Caymus.  Yet, I can serve this one up with dinner or visiting friend without being embarrassed by the liquid inside the bottle.

1998 Wyndham Estates Bin 555 Shiraz $ (8.99)   This is not a big powerful Cote Rotie, but it is a great wine for less than ten dollars.  Big, juicy, mouth-watering fruit with a hint of tannin to keep this one in the cellar if you like.  Plum and dark cherry and pepper greet your nose when you inhale from the chimney of your glass. Fifteen months in oak add a toasted bouquet.  This is a wine to surprise big red wine lovers with as the $8.99 bottle drinks like a $22.00 wine.

April 1, 2001

Well, winos and winettes, I have come to the conclusion that no one is reading these entries.  I have come to the conclusion that I cannot find my palate for Italian Red Wine.  I have come to the conclusion that my wine consumption is taking a toll on my health.  Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that this will be my last update.  Drinking wine no longer has the appeal it once did.  Besides, a good cold Bud costs five dollars for a six-pack.  I could ruin my health more inexpensively.  So I am writing to say thank you for the support and interest you have shown over the past year and the fun I had writing these updates.  I hope you have a knowledge base that keeps you interested in wine as a source of joy, social intercourse, and fun.  I will check in from time to time to see what is new and, if forced to drink a toast at a wedding, I’ll write in with my thoughts of the wine, but I am hanging up my Tastevin and packing up my Rhone Glasses and Decanter.  The corkscrew is up for sale on ebay under the bargain section for lost hobbyists.  Winos and Winettes, I wish you all farewell…

Now that today is April 1st and that is off my chest, I wanted to let you know, I will continue writing this even if Wino John is the only reader.  As far as my statement about Italian Red wine, that is 100% the truth.  I had a snappy penne pasta with shrimp and lobster covered in a Pink Sauce with crushed Red Pepper and a bottle of Italian red.  I am no closer to finding that reasonably priced bottle of red.  This wine is made by Travaglini.  No, not the Travaglini’s of Ampere Parkway in Bloomfield.  No, not the family whose son played quarterback for BHS in 1977.  No, this is the Travaglini Winery that makes the red blend called Gattinara. 

1996 Travaglini Gattinara $$ (30.00)   Tannins so present, your tongue dries before you swallow.  This wine needs a lot of time to oxidize.  The zesty acids and high tannins make the fruit hard to find.  Dark ruby, spicy and a minimum amount of dark cherry and plum come around finally.  The journey to the unfolding of this wine is long.  Be prepared for your tongue to stick to the roof of your mouth.


 

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