Bobís Winings
                                                                           former
                  
Tasting Notes from a ^ Beer Drinker


This page contains Winings from the 2nd Quarter of the year 2004.
To contact WinoBob, click here


June 28, 2004

I havenít had much contact of late with Big Bob.  Actually, he hasnít spoken to me since our dinner at The Manor.  Freshly back from his most recent boondoggle in France and Spain, he emailed me the other day.   He shared some great pictures of his recent drunken nights with Baron Rothschild and the brood from Bordeaux.  I inquired to his availability and he in turn extended an invite to me for a private wine dinner at Bertaís Chateau (www.bertaschateau.com).  Private, special, unopened to the general public... hey I would get to go behind the velvet ropes and see what its like to be one of the in crowd.  In a fit of the vapors, or the haze of jet lag, Big Bob invited me to meet at his home before heading to the event.  Holy crap Mary, does he know what the hell he is doing?  Now I now know where he lives!  (Something to this day I have not been able to find out of my Wino web partner of all these years.)  Yes Wino Johnís palatial estate is more secluded to me than the Bat cave, but Big Bob was gracious enough to ask me to his home.  I do believe he caught a ration of shit from Mrs. Big Bob after he told her I accepted. (Edtor's note:  I have a pool and a pond.  The pond would be good for you...)

Arriving at the well-groomed Victorian mansion, I was immediately impressed with the architecture and antiques inside the Big Bob abode.  The tour made me comfortable enough to want to kick off my shoes and flop on the couch,  Hey, Iím here to crash.  But Big Bob managed to ferret me out to the back deck where we enjoyed a glass of Barbera, under the shade of an old oak over looking the back forty.   When Mrs. Big Bob, Winette Susan, found out I was there, she quickly locked the back door and we headed to the restaurant.  

Tagging along with Big Bob instantly elevated my status.  His rockstar-like reputation at these events allowed me to bask in his reflective glory.  Hey, I learned that phrase in freshman psychology at ASU and finally found a place to use it appropriately.

Little did I know that Winette Susan manipulated the seating arrangements and placed me next to an older gentleman who had already eaten half of the bread offering at our table before we finished our hellos.  I had the pleasure of being introduced to our jovial and gracious host and preeminent Italian wine aficionado, Peter Bernstein. 

The event featured a wide range of prepared appetizers, which were matched to cava and rose wines.  Peter is holding Big Bobís newest addition to his portfolio, a Spanish rose from Torres, coming to a store near you in the next few weeks.  I found this delightful with my oysters on the half shell and various bread spreads. 

The main fare was a bar-b-q buffet of sausages, pulled pork and ribs.  We experimented with a wide variety of Italian reds that Peter is intimately versed.  Being a bit of a worm, I asked to see his wine list, which turned out to have more Italians on it then the Gambino crime family; if you know what I mean.   With that large a selection, I think Tony Soprano will be dinning there next season instead of Vesuvio.

Oh yeah, getting back to the seating situation,  the older gentleman that Winette Sue forced me to sit next to was a retired wine salesman who takes his wine knowledge a bit too seriously for me.  Actually, he was a great example of a pedantic, pretentious, wine snob.  If that were my only issue, I could have lived with it, but what I found out, half way through appetizers was that Mr. Pedantic had the ability to make half his food go in his mouth and the other half of his food go flying in the direction he was facing.  As it turned out, I was the human shield to secure the pristine nature of Big Bobís crisp stripe shirt.  I totally enjoyed the pulled pork, but not when I had to see it clinging off the sleeve of my shirt, with little acknowledgement from its originator that he spewed it from his lips.  Dude, chew and swallow, I donít need a food shower. 

Dessert was a variety of fresh fruit of wild strawberries, watermelon and champagne grapes. The evening topped off with a few more tastes on the veranda under a late afternoon 70 degrees summer sky.  The conversation at the table was absolutely entertaining, save flying pulled pork and all, but the frequent visits from our host Peter, who shared insight into the wines we enjoyed greatly enhanced the day.  I extend my thanks to the Big Bob family as they cordially tolerated my imbibed ramblings and misappropriated remarks to the others at the table. 

Next time you are in the Wanaque are, delight yourself with a great meal and supple ItalianÖ..wine.

June 27, 2004

New Jersey is getting crazier by the day and now they wonder why it is depicted in less than stellar terms on TV and in movies.  Two items came up in the past week, which made me laugh, but then I had to think more deeply about them.  The first was a small item mentioned in a news article with little explanation.   New Jersey recently came in first in a survey where suicides out number homicide by the largest margin.  I believe suicides out rank homicides nearly three to one.  Which simpley means if you live in NJ you really donít have to worry about being killed as you will decide to take your own live well before someone else will.  We are not riddled with murders, we are depressed about living in NJ so we take the express lane to saying we lived in NJ all our lives. 

Maybe the second reason somehow correlates with the first, but as of Monday morning, the definition in NJ of a millionaire is cut in less than half.  Yes, the wisdom of the current Governor, James E. McGreevey, has just renamed the dollars you need to earn to be a ďmillionaireĒ.  Stupid me thought a millionaire was a person who makes more than one million dollars net income.  But as of Monday, a property tax change will be signed into law that raises the rate 41% on those families earning $500,000.00 or more.  Now donít get me wrong, five hundred thousand dollars combined income is great and if you lived in Amarillo Texas, you might be a millionaire, but not in the Garden State.  To drive the nail deeper between the haves and have nots, our beloved Governor is marketing this tax as really screwing the wealthy for the benefit of the poor.  What no one has written about in any of the articles I have read is the point Wino Rocker and I discussed in detail after a wine soaked night and fine meal at Chateau Rockers.  The point the soggy brained, cigar puffing Wino Rocker made is that today the law defines the ďmillionaireĒ as a combined income of half a million.  However, there is nothing stopping this to redefine it in two years to a quarter of a million, then an eighth of a million and so on.  Think about it, even through the matter-altered haze of red wine and cigars, it is obvious the direction this bill is headed and so the people who are cheering this tax will themselves be part of it.  Further, as Wino Rocker is in the position to do this, having palatial estates in PA where property taxes are half that of NJ, he is thinking of closing up shop and heading out of the state.  When these taxes go into effect and financial projections are made, it seems politicians are blinded by the fact that there is nothing keeping this set of individuals from leaving and lessening that dollar projection.  We donít live in a vacuum and the wealth got that way from astutely handling their financial houses. 

Skip ahead five years when the monies projected and reassigned to new spending fall short as the wealth flee this state, then where does the make money come from?  Simple, the redefinition of the millionaire down to make the original projections fit the spending.  Maybe it gets worse by those millionaires who left, took their business with them are relocated it to PA, or Florida, where the tax rates are a huge advantage.  Then we not only lost the personal side of the income, but the corporate side too and the state spirals down in money and up in debt.  Is it fuzzy math or fuzzy logic or an extra pint of McSoreleyís that has the Governor thinking this is the best solution for this battered state?  Maybe if the Governor started enjoying a glass of red wine at night, he would have a greater understanding for the long-term impact of his decisions.  I hate to say that he is thinking like its 2AM and he is at the bottom of a bottle of Jamesonís but he needs to get some clear thinking advisors.  Oh yeah, his advisors are under Federal investigationÖÖ

As a side note, last night was Wino Rockerís 51st Birthday, though I did not know that when I arrived.  So let this serve as your present.

Happy Birthday Wino Rocker, you old Bastard

 1997 Domaines de Virginie  Carignan, Vin de Pays de L'Herault $ (9.99)   An unexciting version of this grape that has the ability to show well in the right situation.  Iíd pass on this one.

June 24, 2004

The geek job is interfering with my ability to drink; it has been a week of traveling with sales managers visiting accounts.  Fortunately, one of these managers, who has traveled in the area for some time and enjoyed the wines and food of Bacchus, asked to have dinner in a restaurant of similar food and wine quality.  I was somewhat at a loss as I have become comfortable in the atmosphere of Bacchus and the friendly treatment.  Then I realized that experimentation is the theme of my wine purchasing, so experimentation in fine dining must be too.  For years, I have thought about dining at this place, but never had the occasion to.  So Wednesday last, we headed to a beautifully scenic, well rated restaurant in West Orange.  This one stands in the shadows of the Manor, but for me has a much more powerful setting.  Perched high atop the first ridge of the original Horse neck territory, the Highlawn Pavilion is located in Eagle Rock Reservation.  There is a clear, undisturbed view across the 13 miles of the NJ lowlands as they trail off into the Hudson and wash across onto the island of Manhattan.  The drive to the valet passes a permanently statuesque tribute to the victims of 9/11.  Maybe if Michael Moore had spent time reading the notes and messages along this walk, he might not have tried to make a perspective piece under the false marketing of a documentary.  If Moore was genuine and wanted to seriously investigate the issue instead of becoming an anti President Bush mouthpiece, he could have better served those whom lost loved ones by making a movie that saw the situation with both eyes openedÖ I digress.

The sign at the front door expresses a dress code of no t shirts, shorts or sneakers, but it wasnít until the maitreíd took my host to the closet that we realized a jacket is required in the dining room.  The wall of windows look east allowing the two rows of tables to have a spectacular view of NYC.  The staff is attentive and the menu concise.  As we were from different grape color preferences, we ordered wines by the glass.  The offerings were comfortably complete as I found an enjoyable Clos du Bois Reserve Shiraz at $10.00 per glass, which happened to be the most expensive of the reds.  I didnít want to seem pretentious, so I sat enjoying the conversation instead of  "studying their wine listĒ but the selections on display and the reviews I have read lead me to believe the list is of good size and appropriately expensive.  The food portion size for price ration actually out did that of Bacchus and has me thinking about visiting there in the near future.  I topped the night off with an after dinner Muscat that was delightful.

Last night after a long week, though it was only Thursday, I found a bottle of Bordeaux somehow setting in my hand while I sat on the porch puffing a cigar and just starring into the summer evening sky.  It was a night to unwind, as the week was complex.  Two glasses of red and a Dominican cigar have helped beat back the flood of crap that work delivered.

2001 Carruades de Lafite Pauillac $$ (29.00)   Boldly red and proud of it, the wine stood tall against my cigar-smoke deadened palate.  Strong dark and black fruit with a fine finish.

June 21, 2004

I find myself in the unusual position of writing an entry about myself.   Most of the time, I am the observer, making comments on others' behavior and I was well prepared for the evaluation from Wino Paul to serve as the entry for the wine tasting we had on Saturday night.  As it is left to me, I have little to say other than, from my perspective, I dazzled them with my in depth wine knowledge and finely tuned palate.

But then again, I was not sitting in the audience; trying to politely listen to me rambling.  I was rambling.   Wino Paul had his chance to write his perspective of the night.  Since I did not receive it, I will lay out the highlights from my perspective.

Arriving at 6 PM, the setting couldnít have been better.  The weather had delivered a low humidity, clear early summerís evening with temperatures in the 60ís and the hint of salt in the air coming off the Kill Van Kull.  The yard was well manicured (I think Wino Paul took the day off, hand cutting each blade of grass) and well decorated for our evening.  We spent the first hour munching on chips with homemade guacamole, salmon wraps, cheese and crackers and fresh fruit.  Then around 7PM, Winette Alice came over to me and informed me it was show time.   Like the Little Rascalís International Submarine Band, I dragged my charts and graphs and sheets and markers and tools and implements to the table, front and center, while the eclectic crowd settled in around the patio.  I say eclectic since it was a mix of family, neighbors, friends, co-workers and winos.   Trying to be interactive, I started by engaging the crowd with a few questions, hoping to seed discussion (insert cricket sounds here).  OK, Wino Bob, use the flashy charts and graphsÖeducate, ask questions.  You know what?  They really just want to taste the wine.  Summing up as quickly as I could, it was time to uncork the wine and start the tasting.  As Winette Alice wanted, we settled on wines that go well for  a summer bar-b-q and as I wanted to draw distinctions, I selected the following:

Whites

  • 2003 Grove Mills Sauvignon Blanc

  • 2002 David Wynns Chardonnay

There wines were good examples of contrasting whites and showed oak versus no oak and light and crisp versus heavy and buttery.  As we got into the comparison between the two, the crowd started to open up and ask questions,  talk about what they tasted or smelled in the wines and which they liked and didnít.  The imbibing lubricated and loosened their apprehensions as they found out it wasnít going to be pedantic. Entertainment was provided by Wino Joe, he has a great sense of humor.

 
Thatís Joe raising his hand for seconds.

We tasted a Rose:

  • 2003 Mas de Gourgonnier

And the Reds were:

  • 2002 Louis Jadot Beaujolais Village

  • 2002 Marques de Riscal Rioja

Wino Paul sent over some pictures of the crowd and gave me permission to post them.  As I ran way longer than they expected, dinner didnít start until 9:30.  Hey, I had center stage, I wasnít going to give it up easily.  By the time we poured the reds, everyone was comparing and discussing and seemed at ease with volunteering opinions and input which I took as a success.  I thoroughly enjoyed the new winos I met and look forward to seeing them some time in the future.  As I saw this as fun and a success, until Wino Paul sends me HIS critique, Iím sticking with my positive impressions.

Random Pictures of the party:

Newly Inducted Winos

   

 

 

June 18, 2004

I gotta stop drinking, or at least stop while I still remember I am drinking and what my actions are as a result.  Wino Johnís PSA on the front page may be more prophetic then I realized.  I received a letter today that shocked me into the realization that actions have consequences and one moment of pleasure may change your life in ways you may not think.  As a guy, you never want to wake up in the morning facing the cold harsh facts that you did something spur of the moment, when your logic system was altered by the amount of red wine you consumed.  What really has me worried is that this legal notice came directly to my home, in my surname, from a place I did visit months ago, but I do not have recollection of being there with anyone.  I must have really pushed my limits.  Worse yet is the fact that the cover letter had a host of legaleeze and it looks like I will be paying for this mistake during the formative years of my new offspring.  Yes, Winos and Winettes, I have been served papers that identify me as the legal parent of a robust, newly born bouncing baby cabernet franc vine.

Hey, I might be a lush, but Iím not stupid.  Yes, the owners of Taylor Brooke Winery in Woodstock CT have served me with my legal adoption papers

This didnít scan clearly but it says that I am the proud parent of Cabernet Franc Row 3 Vine #6, I saw a picture and it looks remarkably like me; stick trunk and gangly arms.

The fine print I was not able to understand is that the conditions of the offer is contingent on the receipt of a fee and application form and I donít legally own the vine and they reserve the right to care and harvest the vine and if it dies, Iím out my money.  I also have to go to the winery in person and pick up the bottle I am obligated to purchase for the next three years.  I give them a B-plus for inventiveness and a D minus for scaring the crap out of a guy by serving legal adoption papers.  Whoís your Baby Daddy?

I was delighted with the fact that I was assigned the cabernet franc and not the Green Apple Riesling.

June 15, 2004

In what may have been one of the hardest meetings to schedule, I was finally able to find Wino Paul in town long enough to get together.  This past Sunday, our collective paths merged and we headed to his local wine shop to pick out the offerings for the educational portion of this coming Saturday night.  Though the location of the store, conveniently located on Route 440 South on premise with an Exxon Station, might have you pass it by without much thought, they offer good pricing and a high end temperature controlled wine locker boasting an impressive variety of offerings.  Though I demanded Wino Paul pick out two bottles of the 1995 Chateau Petrus for the mere $2,400.00 each, I could not convince myself the wine would have been worth that expenditure.  Looking for Super Tuscans, Penfold Grange, or several high-end California Meritage, look no further then the Bayview Liquor Store in Bayonne.  I couldnít locate two of the specific wines I planned out, I know I can get them at Home Liquors, at this point we are set to go for what promises to be a fun evening, by the water, in the yard of Winette Alice and Wino Paul.  I just hope I can make up answers quick enough to appear like an expert.  

2002 Penfold Bin 2 $ (11.00)     A nice combination of Shiraz and Mourvedre which is a testament to the sum is better than the individual parts.  Nice fruit with a stiff backbone but approachable and complimentary to a helping of farfalle and shrimp in a pink champagne sauce.

June 11, 2004

So Wino Bob, what have you been doing with yourself besides drinking and being sentimental about death?  Actually, I had the best cure for my moment of weakness of last night.  Today, I happened to grab lunch in a place that had the Reagan funeral on their 50-inch Samsung Plasma TV.  The somber, stately, fitting ceremony was highlighted by an image I just cannot get out of my head.  As President Bush was eulogizing President Reagan, the camera panned the front row and the image Hillaryís sourpuss burned my eyeballs.  The pain of envy and realization that her husbandís eulogy will be more like a frat house reunion placed this grimace upon her face that I will never forget.  He on the other hand, slept to lessen the contract between his experience in the oval office and President Reaganís experience.  I think Gorbachev was less uncomfortable as they spoke of Reaganís defeat of the Evil Empire (USSR).  I can see it now, Chris Dodd up their with Teddy Kennedy, ribbing each other, "Hey Ted, tell them about the time you me and Bill were in Vegas and those strippers came back to the Presidential Suite while Hillary was in the adjacent room and we broke that lamp and table when the chick did a belly shot off your stomach, then slide off your whale ass."  "Or how about the time, Bill hid under blankets in the back of your car to sneak out of the White House and go to the Golden Banana with us on Patriotís Day."  I know the news media will not complain if the Clinton tribute lasts a month, you know the parade of women passing the casket will be endless and Sheryl Crow will be singing Joan Baez tunes in the Rotunda.

Anyway, I managed a quick glass of wine, Lawson Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, but since I only had one and wasnít much into paying attention to the wine as I was glued to the TV, I will rate it another time.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have been up to my ass in putting together materials for the Wino Paula and Winette Alice event.  I know they read the page so I will not give all the details out now, but I do have to show off my cover page for the event, excuse my poor artwork.  It, along with my sense of humor, is stuck in the third grade.

.

With only one-week left, I have a lot of artwork to doÖ.

 

June 10, 2004

I have been immersed in the talk radio and cable TV discussions about President Reagan this week.  I did not want to write some dumb, classless entry on the heels of my comments about a man that helped shape my outlook on the political landscape.  What amazes me is the hatred the left still carries and the love the right blindly professes for a man few really knew.  Nevertheless, this is not about the Al Franken and Chris Matthews of the world, nor is it about the Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaughs.  It is about an interview with a pundit that as an aside spoke about his father during the week of talking-head-itis.  Tim Russert has written a book about his relationship with his father, which really is a commentary to his son.  I listen to him speak today and was extremely moved by the relationship he had with his father and the father he is trying to be. 

Maybe it is the bottle of Chilean Cabernet in me right now, but there were several throw away lines that Russert said which stopped me in my tracks.  I guess wine makes me introspective and one of the issues I fight is family relationships.  You know, those times when you look back and wonder if the truck in the other lane loses control and it all stops right here in a pile of twisted metal and broken glass, what would they say about me as they passed by my pine box.  I sit here tonight, emotionally naked, frustrated with never having the talent to become the acclaimed writer I envisioned in college.  One of the ďgreat novelsĒ I started and stopped back when I thought I could make a living at writing was about a guy who is having drinks with his buddies and upon leaving the bar is killed by a truck crossing the street.  As my Catholic upbringing taught me, there are three days in which your soul floats in judgment before you are received into heaven or damned to hell for eternity.  In my novel, as old tradition had it, those three days are the viewing days of my body.  As in the world of my mind, I am present, perched atop the casket during those three days, listening and watching and hearing the wake.  It comes to pass that it is not the grand plan of the Almighty that renders you north or south, but the response of those who come to mourn you and recall you as you touched their lives.  This is the time when all is exposed to you and you absorb the true thoughts, emotions and words of those who pass by your exposed corpse.  Maybe the three days only bring your family and half of them are only there to get a day off from work.  Maybe the third day, that half doesnít even show, but instead take a day off and go to the shore.  However, maybe there is one person, you never expected would even know you died who shows and grieves in earnest.   Death is one of those things that come at its own schedule.

The stupid statement that Tim Russert made that has me re-evaluating my life, assisted by my empty friend, was that he knew his life was successful when he went back home and bought his father a new car.   I know how small that statement is, but inside, it is the granite from which a life is chiseled.  I guess it is the symbolism of giving back for the sacrifices, the night shift jobs, the going without so they can have, which we all hope to attain.  I once read a book that said, ďWrite what you want to appear on your tombstone, and then live your life accordinglyĒ.  Ronald Reagan did, Tim Russert did, maybe if I change my destination, my lifeís journey will fitÖ.

2002 Rojo Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley $ (8.99)    This one starts out hot and takes half a bottle to settle in.  The fruit is limited but a hope for things to come from this region.

June 6, 2004

RIP- Ron Reagan: It was November 1984 and a young beer guzzling Bob was just beginning a sales career in the exciting world of electronics.  The Long Island territory was bustling with military defense contractors making it easy to sell the geeky products I had in my briefcase.  I owe those early successes when orders came my way, not from my intricate knowledge of the products, or my stellar salesmanship, but to the promises and commitments President Reagan made to our country.

President Reagan gave the word Patriotism back to the common folks and spoke in ways that lifted your heart and pride and made you glad you were an American.  President Reagan was the first President to motivate me to follow politics and I have been a junkie ever since.  Though I never met him nor had the opportunity to see him speak in person, to this day I will always remember the speech I heard on WNBC while I was driving to HP in Rockaway, NJ the day the shuttle blew up.

I think the ďtesting, testing we are ready to launch in five secondsĒ, his pretending not to hear Sam Donaldsonís obnoxious questions over the whirl of the helicopter blades, his refusal to remove his suit coat in the Oval Office, and his economic expansion will forever define him in my mind.  We are hungry for the leadership you provided and the hard and fast position you took which brought a sledgehammer to the Berlin Wall.  God Bless America and God Bless You Ronald Reagan.

Thanks for letting me share that he is one of those people I admire.  The other is Wino Rocker, but for a much different set of reasons.  Unfortunately, I cannot share those reasons, even on the Internet.  Last night it was a nice dinner at Casa de Fillipo in town and the BYOB was a bottle my younger brother brought back for me during one of his recent trips to California.  A fitting bottle for a fitting dinner with the Winos.  The restaurant is great, an old converted apartment on the second floor of a building on the Avenue.  But the acoustics stink.  When there are more than 6 people at a table in a room, they seem to shout to speak with the others.  The next thing you know, you are either listening to their conversation, or trying to shout yourself to be heard by your table. 

As this is a day of mourning, I will end it here, before I detract from the first paragraph with something unfit for the entry.

2001 Peju Province Cabernet Franc Estate Bottled Napa $$ (35.00)    The first whiff of this one delivers cedar, spicy cedar and black cherry.  A nicely structured wine with a long full finish and hints of wood and vanilla.  Goes great with the Cavatelli Fillipo (cavatelli with sausage, chicken, diced tomato in a light red sauce)

June 5, 2004

Homework, yes, I am preparing for my first class.  I have been hired to be the ďauthorityĒ at a wine tasting.  I know, I cannot believe it myself.  But the gracious Winette Alice, unbeknownst to Wino Paul, has planned a small gathering at their Chateau to enjoy the summer fare and have a bit of wine education.  I first thought that I could show up, drink some wine, make up some facts and head out the back gate.  Then I got an invitation in the mail.  Holy crap Mary, this is serious.  So I have spent the last two weekends planning out an actual agenda.  Know the techie nature of Wino Paul, I am sure if I wanted to do this in power point, he would rig something up in his yard so we can show the slides on the wall of his neighborís house.  I understand the group will be about 20.  What I spent the most time on was the simple question of how to begin, there is so much that can be discussed.

So Iím spending my Saturday night, in front of the TV with markers and easel board trying to draw pictures and graphs and countries and grapes for the show.  If this goes well, I will post up some of the official Wino Bob artwork.  If I bomb, this will be but a lone entry.  More to comeÖ

The best part will be the wine shopping, though Wino Paul keeps pushing me off from spending his money.  Heís even given me the excuse that he will be in Brazil next week so to avoid the opening of the wallet.  I may have to have him sign a check and leave it for Winette Alice and me.

2002 Caves des Papes Heritage Blanc Cotes-du-Rhone $ (8.99)    For some reason, I have less tolerance for uneventful white wines.  This blend of Grenache, Clairette, Bourboulen, Viognier, Rousanne and Marsanne seems lifeless.  One would think this combination would offer more depth and flavors 

1999 Ironstone Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $ (20.00)    The small additions of blending grapes to the Cab help define the blackberry and licorice flavors and the oak aging brings out vanilla and tannins to structure this wine.  A good once a week drinker for the books.

June 1, 2004

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands Ė Two retired Croatian generals Friday pleaded not guilty at The Hague war crimes tribunal to ethnic cleansing charges linked to a 1995 offensive against rebel Serbs in the Krajina region of Croatia

Mladen Markac and Ivan Cermak pleaded not guilty to all seven counts of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war at the U.N. tribunal. The charges included deportation, murder and wanton destruction.

"Now that you have entered a plea of not guilty to each of the seven counts that have been brought against you by the prosecutor I will be instructing the Registrar of this tribunal... to fix a date for the trial when appropriate," judge Carmel Agius said in a Webcast of the court hearing.

Cermak and Markac are charged in the indictment with participating in a "joint criminal enterprise" with the late President Franjo Tudjman to drive the ethnic Serb population from Krajina in 1995.

Cermak, 54, a wealthy oil businessman, ran the former rebel stronghold of Knin after its capture. Markac, 48, commanded special police units that took part in the offensive and later combed the area.

 

OK Wino Bob, what the hell does that article have to do with wine.  Please, relax, sit back, enjoy your wine and I will explain.  I will admit that it has taken me far longer than most to develop that life philosophy about being successful by working hard, staying focused, dream the dream, walk the talk, move your cheese, spin, time management, and all the horse hockey the consults to business sell you in their books and seminars.  But it seems, not everyone has to focus like a laser beam on his or her lifeís dream.  Some people can multitask well and be involved in major projects without losing sight of the end product.

Yes Winoís, the aforementioned Mr. Cermak, a wealthy oil businessman and it appears a major criminal in the Croatian/Serb conflict still managed to have time to produce an award winning wine.  I cannot get one project off the ground and Mr. Cermac has made millions in the oil rich middle east, was an acting General who lead a rebellion to recapture a rebel-held area during the Croatian war for Independence from Yugoslavia between 1991-95, tortured and murdered ethnic Serbs and, oh yeah, made a mouth-watering white Muscat that won the hearts and palates of wine connoisseurs at a recent tasting.  How does one find the time?

I am not making light of the conflict or his murderous behavior; allegedly, I donít know how many readers we have in that part of the world.  I am rather curious about his ability to post a defense against some major charges, run an oil empire, and create a wine worthy of recognition.  Martha Stewart couldnít run her company and answer criminal charges.  Though I am not a consumer of Croatian wine, this story caught my eye.  Maybe Iím a glass half-empty person, but I see his wine becoming a sought after cult classic as the trial unfolds.

 

May 31, 2004

We extend our deepest gratitude to the men and women who have given of themselves so idiots like me can sit in their room and type out meaningless anecdotes about drinking wine.  As a tweener, I was too young for Vietnam and too old for any of the recent conflicts and actions.  I would not pretend to know what it is like in the heat of battle, nor would I dare mock the efforts of others.  Fortunately, the relatives I have who served during wartimes, made it back home.  Our thoughts are with those families less fortunate. 

I believe this is nine out of the past ten Memorial Days in which the weather has been less than cooperative.  As I sit near the small window in my third floor room, the rain is steadily beating down on the rooftop below.  The wind kicks up from time to time shaking large amounts of water from the leaves of the oak tree in my front yard.  The branches sway close enough that I can grab them.  From here, even through the grayness and rain drops, I can see Wino Louís hole.  Yes, right now, Wino Lou has a very visible large hole and he is asking the neighbors to come see it.  Over the next few weeks, that hole will become a very large addition to the Wino Lou homestead and from my knowledge of his enjoyment for cooking, I cannot wait to see the gourmet kitchen he installs.  I am hoping the hole is deep enough for a rustic wine cellar that I can go hang out in. 

The other nice thing about this view is that the town parade stages their participants on the street below.  I do not have to attend the parade, just wake up early enough to see the collection of antique cars, fire engines, army vehicles and marching bands.  Right at the corner of the street is the official starting point for one of the two most exciting days in the life of a cop in town.  Today and street fair day, the traffic rerouting is a police officersí dream.  Orange cones, side street barriers, no parking signs, white glove and whistle directions, I can almost see Andy Griffith from here.  ďNow Earnest T. Bass, you canít be agoin 'round town pickin' up women an' guessing their weight.Ē

I do hope you were able to get in a bar-b-q as this signifies the beginning of the summer fun.  I managed a quick burger on the grill between droplets of water, but more enjoyable is the red wine I found at Kingís this morning.  This Aussie Shiraz is just what the doctor ordered for a day like today, lazily lying in front of E Channelís 100 Greatest Celebrity Oops.  I have substituted fluff for NJN, as we know public television must be educational, not entertainingÖ F-N-F-J-F-N.  

So summerís here and the time is right for dancing in the streets, but since the temperature this weekend hasnít broken 70, I am still blanketing myself in the warmth of a bold red wine.  Hey, put another shrimp on the bar-b, Iíll be right over.

2003 Fire Fly Shiraz Night Harvest $ (7.49)    This is an impressive wine for under ten dollars.  It has a deep, bold flavor from black fruits, with a touch of mint and chocolate and tannins to keep this one for a few more months.  A great companion for a rainy day.

May 28, 2004

I sat down for a relaxing evening after dinner, to read through the All About Beer magazine.  As I dug into it, I thought to myself, this must be the equivalent to Beer Aficionado.  The magazine turned out to be a wealth of knowledge and it was all about Wino Wally.  The most interesting item I read was the one on a new ďuber PilsĒ from a microbrew in Maryland.  This very own 7% ABV pilsner bock is part of the beer series for ďBig BeerĒ enthusiasts from the Heavy Seas product line of Clipper City Brewing.  Hey, Clipper City, thatís the brew company partially owned by our own Wino Wally.  Note to Wino Wally- I am thinking about adding a once a month entry on specialty microbrews and the High Seas series might be a great place to start.  A bottle of each offering would be a fitting way to launch this feature.  We look to keep bringing new information to our readers and a beer review corner might be a great addition.

The other Wino Wally tie in with the magazine was this monthís article on how Golf courses and microbreweries are co-branding and trading on the boutique microbrews and fine living of the country club crowd.  An article discussed the connection and discussed examples such as: Belhaven St. Andrews Ale, the McMenamins Double Eagle and the Royal Duffer Golf Society Lager.  Iím seeing a new venture for the wealthy wiz kid from Maryland.  Dump the espionage stuff and buy a golf course we can put a microbrewery in and, voila, we are riding the crest of the way to retirement.  The reason I say this is that the final article I read was called Beyond Beer, The American Wine Journey.  The author compared the current state of microbreweries with the US wine industry 30 years ago.  We have observed the near criminal increase in California wine prices over the past thirty years, and the microbrew industry is poised to see a similar trend.  Well, their will never be a bottle of beer selling for the obscene prices of Screaming Eagle, but there might be enough margin to pay the bills.  WW, Iím available to scout properties in your neighborhood to offer year around golf excitement and trendy ingredient microbrews.  Think about it, call me, letís do lunch, have your people call my people.  OK, so I will never own a golf course microbrew, how about a bottle of the ďUber PilsĒ?

2003 Forefeathers Sauvignon Blanc $ (11.99)     This offers up a great example of the Marlborough region of NZ.  Fresh, crisp, citrus-packed and a great wine to enjoy chilled on a hot, muggy evening in the summertime.

2002 Marques de Caceres Rioja $ (8.99)   This wine is made of 100% viura grapes from the Rioja region of Spain.  Unfortunately, their was a whimpiness to its flavor and a dull finish that left me unexcited.

May 26, 2004

It is amazing how quickly a beer belly develops when age and lack of exercise is the norm.  As I have been stuck drinking beer at restaurants with my compatriots, I have grown in girth in just two days.  Now I resemble that Biafran kid with the swollen stomach and the flies around his head, sans flies.  Maybe I am just carbonated and I will deflate as the plane descends and the pressure changes, forcing the bubbles in my system to expel.  The one medical test I have conducted over the past four years is that red wine does not bloat on like a three day old dead pig.  I am waiting to return to my wine drinking ways and not have my stomach pressing against the cotton fabric of my Dockers, unduly straining the stitching of the button that separates my look from a Rapperís look.  Yo, yo, yo, waz up, bloated Bob here with his gansta pants as the beer has forced too much internal pressure on the cross stitching of my button.  Now my somewhat Manhattanesque style has headed uptown to 125th Street and looks like I have joined Snoop Dogís Posse.

The air traffic into Newark sucks and when you donít drink before you fly, there is little to do to burn three hours.  I managed to finish off a book I brought for the flight, so now the two and a half hours in the air is going to be tough.  Beerboy, John was kind enough to give me his magazine, All About Beer, since he finished it on his flight down here.  Maybe I will be more educated on this beverage and get him to collaborate with me on a once a month entry on beer.  Then again, I have been asking him for years to submit a wine review and he has artfully dodged me on that subject.  About an hour ago, I opted for a yogurt waffle cone instead of a Nathanís hotdog.  If only I could drink, but mentally I have this image of me in mid flight, seated next to a well dress traveler, being overcome with the urge to spew out my alcohol like a whale cleaning his blowhole.  Thare she blows, as red wine will spray over tan linen jackets and Tommy Bahamas Silk trousers.  Looking into the lounge across from my gate, the delayed travelers are laughing and joking and passing the time, while I sit here pushing the grains of sand through the neck of the hour glass, just to get one minute closer to boarding.  I think the fact that I was a breech birth screwed up my ability to handle flight well.  Or should I say, handle flying drunk, well.  Maybe if I spent my last several weeks in the womb upside down, my vertigo wouldnít kick in during turbulent flying.  If any doctors out there have any ideas if me spending 5 minutes a day upside down now, would allow me to enjoy a glass of red wine with my turkey sandwich without me looking like Shamu, please email me your recommendations.

So I sit and wait and hope the last hour wonít seem like a day and once again, I will look out the window of the plane with excited anticipation as the City Glow of Manhattan twinkles below, signifying our final decent into the Newark area.  Yes, I eagerly await the smell of diesel fuel and garbage that greats you as you exit the monorail station in hopes of remembering where in the hell you parked your car.  And I gladly await to over pay the Port Authority for renting the small 5 x 10 space of asphalt my car occupied for the last three nights.  The honking horns will be welcoming music to my ears as I cut off the driver behind me to swerve into the shortest tool booth isle and contribute to the 401K fund for the toll taker in Essex County.  And finally, my squeak brakes will break the silence of the neighborhood, to arrive home and relax for the 5 hours of rest, until the alarm clock trumpets its call of wake up and start the grind all over again

May 24, 2004

My geek job is interfering with my drinking.  For the third week this month, I am off to another meeting, leaving scant time to actually try and make a living and scanter time to drink wine.  I am not a great drinker and flier so its mostly cranberry juice or diet cokes while I sit in the lounge at the airport typing out what should be a review of a glass or bottle of wine for you winos.  As laptops have become the norm, most places in any airport are equipped with plugs and phone jacks for staying in touch with the outside world.  The saving grace of this meeting is that the President of the company and his nephew sales manager fancy themselves wine aficionados.  As they are buying, I am sitting quietly at a steakhouse drinking mostly merlot, but an expensive one if it matters.  Last time I was here with a customer, we ate well and drank down five bottles between the six of us.  This is a bright spot in the fact of heading out on a Sunday and missing a much awaited family affair.  Today was a celebration for my cousin, the Brother, as he reached the half-century mark of pledging his life to a higher power.  Brother James, though you donít read these pages, congratulations for your devotion to the church and that our family has not been involved in any church scandals.  Celibacy is a challenge and 50 years of it would have my face permanently pimpled and my grape nuts permanently painful.

There is one thing I donít understand about men's summer attire.  What the hell is the purpose of a sleeveless t-shirt?  Who invented this and why?  The only reason I wear a t-shirt is to soak up the sweat that pours forth from my pits and chest.  So here it is, 95 degrees today, and the long-term parking has a monorail, which delivers you from what is the next town over to the terminal.  I wait my three minutes and board the front car of the monorail for the short ride to terminal A, Continentalís other place for those flights that donít fit into the real Continental terminal.  Hotlanta bound, I am the first stop from the lot.  As luck would have it, just before the doors close and the train departs the platform, a family of euro-travelers dashed the three flights of stairs and jammed their hand into the door, delaying the train.  They pile in, with a months worth of suitcases, and the eldest son gets squeezed next to me.  As instructed by the pleasant voice announcer dude, the son grabs the handrail across me and now has his sleeveless t-shirt, sweat soaked arm extended over my carry on.  Holy crap Mary, this clinging bead of personal fluid and swelling and the surface tension between this arm and the droplet is diminishing.  Jesus, let me get to my stop before that pit sweat breaks free and rains on my canvas bag, which will soak through to my well pressed and folded dress shirt for tomorrowís meeting.  Ten seconds to arrival at the terminal, thank God, so I reach down to collect my bag and move it free from the man soup, just as the train jerks to a stop and plop.  Yes, my hand managed to shield my canvas bag from the sleeveless shirt stank and now I am staring right at some euro-travelerís sweat on the back of my hand.  Outlaw these stupid shirts; wear short sleeves so your man splunk soaks into your own fabric.  The say we are not the civilized ones, but I think I detected a merci coming from the mother of the clan.  That is totally disgusting and I headed straight to the menís room to delouse before slipping my credit card into the e-ticket machine to begin my journey south.  Men, unless you are in a muscle beach contest, think of the rest of us before you don that tank top for your trip in public.

Making matters worst yet, was the fact that rainstorms to the north, delayed my flight to the south.  I donít understand, but other planes that where heading in different directions had to get in front of us and delay our departure by an hour.  That is one hour in a plane that had little cool air flowing anywhere.  Yes, a hot sticky, smelly Continental airplane, made unbearable by the decision of the gentleman next to meís need to remove his shoes for the flight.  Christ in Heaven help me, this plane smells like feta cheese.  Hey, asshole, this isnít your living room, put your God Damn shoes on.  I have the courtesy of keeping mine on, even if they feel tight from the pressure change.  No one needs to put up with recirculating the stank from your shoeless comfort.

Dinner was at a place called Kurtís Restaurant and Beirgarten, so when in Rome, do as the Romans.  I nibbled appetizers and drank Weis Bier.  Nothing great, so I went with the flow at dinner and ordered the schnitzel.  They were pouring wine so I grabbed a glass of red.  Red is about all I will say as it was Wild Hare Merlot.  Jesus, Mother Macree, what is it with these Merlot drinkers down here.  After dinner a small crowd broke away, purchased cigars and sat at the bar talking with Kurt, the owner of the place.  Kurtís broken English added an aestheticism to the beer drinking and my buddy, the beer connoisseur, was having Kurt run to his special place and drag out a host of bottles for us to try.  Not much in it for me until Kurt suggested a dessert beer, which he claimed, needed to be opened with a corkscrew.  As I looked at the foil, I clearly saw the cap and challenged him on the corkscrew thing.  Then with a smile, he popped the top to reveal a cork beneath.  Yes, this dessert beer at 12.00 a bottle was corked for its secondary fermentation and I was given a taste of my first Lambic.  This Lindemans Framboise Belgian Ale was crisp and clean with a refreshing raspberry flavor that was the perfect ending to the dinner we enjoyed.  Wow, that was delightful and opened my senses to a new sensation.  If you are ever in Duluth Ga. and looking for a nice meal and a unique variety of beer, go see Kurt.  You wonít be disappointed.

May 22, 2004

Wow, is it hot and humid today!  It would be a perfect night to sit in front of the TV with the three-hour special on the Life and Times of Noam Chomsky.  Yes, NJN has this great special on the boorish, radical tree hugger, Professor Chomsky, but my TV no longer gets NJN.  I think Iím opting for reruns of Most Extreme Elimination.  Can you believe that Japanese TV can get away with something just short of maiming a contestant in the name of entertainment?   The lawyers in the US would have a field day with this show if it were taped here.  Fear factor is a pony ride compared with this thing.

Chomsky (kuva © Juhani Yli-Vakkuri 2000)

Radical professor and prominent social critic Noam Chomsky teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
and is the author of more than 70 books, the most recent being "Rogue State: The Rule of Force in World Affairs."

Actually, instead of turning on the boob tube (as my father would say), I decided to get some exercise and amble downtown.  Since Mr. Kim sold the store, my neighbor Wino Lou has seen me walking around town more than in the previous four years heís lived here.  Unlike the Wino Lou family who enjoy walking everywhere, I find it easier to drive to the corner and back, I donít want to get all muscular and what not.  You know, once you start a work out routine like walking to the corner, you then have to walk two blocks to get the same exercise, then three blocks, and the next thing you know, youíll be like walking a mile and youíll lose weight and build muscle mass.  I much prefer the Stephen Hawkingís mode of transportation.  Hey, did you read where heís suing his nurse/girlfriend for leaving him out in the sun and not heeding his calls to get him in the house.  Seems he split with his first wife for this nurse babe who cares for him and she placed him a lawn chair in the gardens of his property one sunny day to get some good healthy clean air.  Then she decided to leave him there to burn in the sun for six hours with no hat or sun tan lotion.  It is amazing that the man who redefined the universe cannot control his own.  What I donít get is how they praise him for a prediction that the universe is expanding, but will turn and collapse in like 12 billion years.  12 Billion years, who the hell is going to be here to call him on it if it doesnít happen?  Thatís why I prefer guys like Kresskin who predict where his pay check is hidden in a room and you see the results right in front of your eyes.  Amazing.  Hey, try this out, I predict that in 400 million years, my liver will still be alive, or better yet, all of mankind will look like Klingons.  There, you heard it here first, and I will be awaiting my advanced degree in science from MIT.  Hell, if Noam Chomsky can teach there, I can get a degree for scientific theories regarding the future of human morphism.

Sorry.  As I was saying, I walked to Costas and looked through the special shelf.  Yes, John is weeding out wines that he feels might be at their peak, or worse yet, like that Italian white I bought last week, over the hill.  I saw a bottle of 1996 Zinfandel and decided to give it a try.  The rest of the wines were largely older whites that probably are over the hill and offer little more than color and flab.  Whatís great about NOT watching NJN TV any longer is that there is a whole world of things to discover and walking around town just might be a great alternative.

1996 Ferrari Carano Zinfandel $ (19.00)   By the time you read this, it would be too late to recommend you find this wine.  It has seen the summit and is beginning its downhill slide.  The color has bricked and the fruit is beginning to fade, though black cherry and plum still hang in the glass.

 

May 21, 2004

I am a lover, not a hater.  My motto is "live and let live", "make love not war", "if it feels good, do it",  "if it's nice out, leave it outÖBut I have to take a page from the 'stand up for whatís right', boycott-happy Wino John.  I do believe he was a megaphone-carrying, slogan-chanting peacenik, who lives for a good protest march.  Well, Winos and Winettes, it is a call to arms from the lovable, soft stick figure that drinks too much to make sense at times.  Today, May 21, 2004, I have officially taken the channel 13 number off my TV.  For that matter, I have taken all the PBS-related channels which appear on my selector and quarantined them.  No longer will I sit through the McNeil Hour, or NJN News.  Off my viewing list is the Peter, Paul and Mary fund raising special.  Gone are my checks to support NJ-oriented programs to promote my state.  I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!  So I ask, no, I beg those NJ winos that enjoy reading my off-center rants to join me in solidarity and discontinue your support for that trend- setting channel thirteen show on the life cycle of the dung beetle.  Nova - no more.  Alan Alda- peddle your science facts to Mr. Rodgers because there no longer will be Wino Bob in your audience to promote your programming.

Over the past several months, there has been a very dedicated and talented crew working with WinoStuff to develop an exciting program on the wine history of NJ.  Hours of hard work and creative brain matter has gone into an entertaining view on the growth of the wine industry in NJ.  Some heavy hitters in NJ and the NJ Wine Growers Association have supported and contributed to the efforts of WJ and myself, only to be rebuked by the station whose mission statement is:

The Authority is dedicated to using its technology to provide universal access to information and educational programming and services that enhance the quality of life for all citizens of New Jersey at home, in school, at the workplace or in their communities.

Yeah, except when it comes to educational and informational programs on NJ wine.  Hey, do me a favor.  Email Deputy Executive Director of Production - Janice Selinger: at jseling@njn.org and ask her why she is silencing the WinoStuff staff from presenting their program on wines in NJ.  What the hell is there a NJ channel for if they are not interested in programming for NJ, by NJ people?  Do we need to see a documentary on the life of Millard Filmore?  I think not.  We need to be entertained and informed and educated.  That is exactly what we presented and the pompous staff at NJN did not even give us the benefit of watching our presentation. 

Hey NJN, F-U!  And, as for your pay checks, you depend on contributions from viewers.  I am dedicated to seeing your public donations dry up and place you all on the unemployment line.  

     All we are saying, is give 'Stuff a chance...  All we are saying is give Bob a chanceÖ    

1996 Hidden Cellars Mendocino Heritage Eagle Point Ranch Petite Sirah $ (21.00)   I found this little gem hiding on the shelves at JRís and wow, what a treat.  Deep rich color, robust, full-bodied chewy dark fruits and enough tannins to tell you we are still on the climb.  If you find this one, treat it with respect as it will bowl you over.

 

May 20, 2004

I need a drink.  Sometimes, that is how I feel at the end of a day with business still in the crapper (yes, the porcelain bowl named for the man that made it what it is today, John Crapper).  Now, I get a message from Winette Tia that she is off to the left coast.  WT, you cannot abandon us for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood!  Well, you can and did.  Actually, I just wanted to send a shout out to Cali and tell them to give this woman her own sitcom.  Then, I can get her to wear an ďI love WinoStuff.comĒ T-shirt on TV and we can get the recognition we so deserve.  She called me yesterday and told me she has a bunch of meetings with commercial agents and TV directors.  Just remember, she drank with WJ, Wino Rocker and me before she became famous.  As we all know, once her star rises, she will never take my call again.  I will add her to the growing list of friends and family who currently donít take my calls.

There is a small collision between Geekdom and WinoStuff, which has me looking up.  turn of events and the luck of being in the right place at the right time.)  In my Geek World, we have started to work with a company that makes the adhesives for labeling wine and beer bottles.  Yes, I was officially trained on the different adhesive compositions for adhering a paper, or coated label to a wine or beer bottle which may need to pass the ice water test instilled by a European standard.  Yes, this gluing stuff is high tech and we can now provide solutions for labeling your home brews, or labeling the high volume bottling lines of mass wine producers.  We even discussed the adhesives for bonding the litho artwork on the cardboard boxes that wine is now being shipped in.  Yes Winos and Winettes, that wine in the box from Franzia is being constructed with a material we are selling.  Itís not a WinoStuff specially formulated chemistry; itís a company who has a long standing reputation for making glues.  This has turned into an interesting opportunity for Geekdom and WinoStuffís path to cross as technology and drinking converge.

May 19, 2004

Summer time is here, officially.  The weather is breaking in a hot and humid way; maybe too early in the season, but itís better than shoveling snow.  Last night I had an hour to kill, so I popped into Bacchus.  OK, it was a Tuesday night, but the bar was empty.  Just one couple at the far end, and me at the opposite, swirling and sipping a glass of wine, like Shakes the Clown.  The wealthy Wessex crowd heads to their shore homes, or off on European trips, while the working class sits and drinks at an empty bar, chatting with the busboy and watching TV.  Hey, asshole, if you want to watch TV, stay at home and drink by yourselfÖ OK.

The exciting thing on the summer schedule is a wine tasting in June.  Well, itís not just a wine tasting, itís a wine tasting at the chateau of Winette Alice and Wino Paul.  I am most excited to be asked to help pick the wines for the tasting.   Actually, making Wino Paul shed light into his dust-covered wallet and watching the beads of sweat dribble down his brow as I place expensive wines in his cart and hurry through the store, delights me.  This is going to be a fun night of trying new wines and experiencing the grilling techniques of Chef Wino Paul. 

OK, Iím officially entering into the wine tasting party service.  Wino Bob for hire.  If you got the wine, I got the time.  Just prop me up at a table and let me yell out Wino-isms about wine.  Did you know that wine comes from grapes?  White Zinfandel sucks!  Wino John hates the French!  Friends donít let friends drink Merlot!  Well maybe I should wait to see how this one goes first.

2002 Lawson Ranch Sauvignon Blanc $ (12.99)   In my limited experience, I am not a fan of California SBs.  They do not carry the zest and crispness of the New Zealand SBs.  I say that with limits as I have not tasted a large volume of SBs, but Iím leaning heavily away from California on this grape.

May 15, 2004

This was a week of ups and downs in the wine area.  The up was the high end Italian Red that Wino John and I drank with our meal at Casa de Filipo during the recent planning meeting.  OK, it wasnít much of a planning meeting.  It was more like a drunken napkin trick.  Back deep in the archives of my page, there was an explanation of my having those 2 am drunken ideas that seem to be winners under the influence of red wine.  The alcohol breaks down the sense of reality and soon you are sitting there sketching out the million dollar idea on a bar napkin.  Most of the time I tell WJ about these and he looks, laughs, then blows his nose in the napkin.  But this week, during dinner, one of the napkins passed the nose test and had both of us drunk, with two napkins drawing up the plans for what might actually win us the Nobel Prize of wine.  More to follow.

Yesterday, I went in search of some bargain wines at Costaís and came home with some major duds.  First off, I was going to enjoy a dinner of shellfish pasta in a light sauce so I wanted to chill a white wine.  I looked through the selections at Costa and selected an Italian white whose label said, ďthe perfect compliment to seafood and pasta.Ē  Bingo, seafood and pasta.  Unfortunately, when I chilled and opened the bottle, wow, major heat prostration.  The wine was cooked, not corked, but altered due to exposure from elevated heat.  I will be walking that one back to John this afternoon to show him what is up.

The two reds were less than enjoyable so I basically went 0 for 3, with a walk.  Well, even Mantle had his hitting slumps. 

2000 Trevor Mastís Four Sisters Shiraz $ (11.99)   A great deal of wood and not much fruit fills the glass.

2001 Errazuriz Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $ (10.99) Undrinkable, torturously unpleasant.

1997 Tommasi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC $$$ (59.99) Not for the shy red wine drinker as the raisining process of this Italian intensifies the flavors, alcohol and power.  Recommended with big, bold gravies and plum tomato sauces as the plum, and dark fruits provide a mouthful of chewy wine.

May 9, 2004

A Happy Motherís Day to all you Mothers out there, and I mean that in a nice way.  Last night, I was looking for something different, so I decided to take the rare occasion of visiting the butcher shop in town.  Most of the time, the convenience of heading to the super market and grabbing a variety of things precludes me from stopping in and selecting my meat from a butcher.  The beauty of this is the fact that out the door and one store to the right is Costaís Wine Shop.  Now that I am enjoying the broadening selection of affordable wines, I am visiting there more frequently.  The porterhouse looked great and a small packet of freshly made portabella and cheese tortellini would do me fine.  Feeling wild, I grabbed a white for the pasta and a red for the beef and headed home to sharpen my skills on the Weber.  I so enjoy the summer and grilling on the deck.

Anyone looking for Plumpjack Cab, or Jordan, stop by and visit John, he would love to talk to you about the exciting things he is doing with the store.  Going soon are the real expensive French and Italian Reds so if you want that bottle of Gaja and have an extra 235.00, or you havenít had a good bottle of Chateau Margaux, they are going fast and once they are gone, he will be making room for a bunch more new world wines.

I think I have developed a new routine for the weekend, the butcher and the wine shop.  Maybe I should start reviewing beef and see if I can get a discount on my next run at NY strips for the summer bar-b-q.

On a personal sad note, a letter arrived from our church that our Pastor has been reassigned to a different parish as consecutive seven year terms come to an end.  This is the priest who helped me out with my parentís 50th anniversary celebration and the one who roped me into Bacchus for his birthday.  I will miss him very much and wish him well, though I hope he submitted my ďGet out of Hell CardĒ to the Pope, prior to his departure.  If not, I will be drinking a great deal of summer white wine in the afterlife.

2002 Rancho Zabaco Sauvignon Blanc $ (9.99)   Though the nose showed promise, there was little excitement and less snap in this wine.  My suggestion is to keep it around the house in case you spill some red wine and do not have any WinoStuffís Magical Red Wine Stain Removing Elixir left.

2001 La Chasse du Pape Prestige Cotes du Rhone Rouge $ (8.99)      In honor of my Father, not my dad, I went with the wine honoring the chest, which contained the great reliquaries of the Pope who resided in Avignon during the 14th Century.  This blend of grenache, syrah, Cinsault and Mourvedre reminded me of raspberry and bright red cherries with a cedar nose and a spicy finish.  I like it as a compliment to my grilled porterhouse and it serves well for an everyday drinker.

May 5, 2004

Two more nights of inexpensive wine out of plastic cups.  Burlwood Merlot, again, and a few glasses of BV Coastal Pinot Noir has me jonesing for a glass of good wine.  As this being our last evening in the geekdom setting, several of us interested in steak and red wine enjoyed our last supper at the fine dining establishment carrying the name of ex-football coaching great, Don Shula.  The bar was small, with deep mahogany bar and paneling.  The cigars were prominently displayed but the wait staff was gruff about smoking, as Florida has a 'no smoking in restaurant' law.  The wine by the glass menu was limited and for reds was less than impressive.  I picked Chateau Greysac Bordeaux to start the evening off and we were quickly seated in a rather small dining area.  As a football fan, the pictures of the 1972 undefeated Dolphins set a great atmosphere and the menu on the teeíd up football is the worst thing to give to a bunch of drunken salesmen.  Itís not long before someone passed the menu across the large round white linen table and knocked the glass lampshade from the candle. 

Dinner was great with stone crab claw appetizer, house salad and a 16 oz NY strip medium rare.  The presentation of the 48 oz slab of brontosaurus would have made Fred Flintstone whimper.  The waitress told us she serves about one of those a week, but the $80.00 price tag was too steep for any at our table to venture an entry into the 48 oz club.  As an invited guest, and one not paying the bill, I gave my suggestions as to what I saw as a reasonably priced wine, but their was one of the other guests who overruled the host and selected what he thought was the best value.   There was a mild exchange between this gentleman and myself as I challenged a statement he made about weather and the wine quality.  Half way through my explanation of the rain and water absorption and flavor, I realized, I was sounding pedantic.  So the rest of the night, I left it alone an enjoyed the food, old stories and humorous comments.  There were several of us that have been associated with this company for more than 15 years, making an annual pilgrimage to this meeting.  The passing of time was best marked by hair change and stomach expansions.    Most of these guys I see but once a year and you manage to pick up where you left off and move friendships forward by sharing a great meal and lively comments on the day. 

After dinner, we pulled cigars from the box, grabbed an after dinner drink and headed off to the outside deck as a full moon glowed over the man-made lakes in this golf resort.  The air was warm and still as smoke billowed off the ends of our Arturo Fuentesís.  This is one of the rare moments when work offers rewards and friendships and stories that will be embellished.  Next year, the things that might have happened, will have happened to illicit a hardier laugh.  I know my personal recollection of Wino Paul almost landing in the lake as he reached to bring in a big mouth bass of significant size, will most likely be remembered as him being pulled into the lake by the bass.  The witnesses there will support the fact that he did go into the lake and by next year everyone at the meeting will be spreading the rumor that Wino Paul consumed too much Burlwood Merlot and fell off the bridge into the lake.  Hey, thatís the way we remember it, right Okuma?

2000 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon  $$$ (61.00 rest.)     A nice mix of dark cherry, black fruits and a touch of cassis made this a fine companion to the steak I enjoyed.  This one shows good structure and balance with a pleasant finish.

May 3, 2004

If only the companies I work with in the Geek World valued wine as much as they value golf, Iíd be in Napa right now.  But unfortunately, I am in a very nice resort in Florida, drinking bogey wine.  I happen to be at the PGA Spa and Resort drinking Rutherford Hills Merlot with dinner as that is the house offering.  More difficult than the Merlot is the plastic cups they offered up last night as we munched finger food poolside.  Give me a break.  The only hope I have is that on Wednesday evening, I will be enjoying the fare at Shulaís Steak House, which I am told carries a respectable wine list.  As an attendee, or rather an invitee to the dinner, I will not be able to get my hands on the list, I just hope the host doesnít decide on Rutherford Hills Merlot.  Though maybe in a real glass, it might be a bit more palatable.

The facilities here are great, though I do not have time nor the funds to get the 75-minute hot rock therapeutic message or the seaweed wrap detox special.  Tomorrow, we are scheduled to divot the course and send golf balls a blaze in a scramble.  As it has been over a year since I last graced a green, God only knows where my first drive may land.  Let me say this, the alligators will eat well tomorrow if errant golf balls are a delicacy.  I wonder if they serve wine on the refreshment cart?

Off now to a dinner with carafe red, at least I hope they serve some red.

April 30, 2004

Well, I have proudly added to the decay of the moral fabric of society.  Yes, now that Winette Alice has her journal, she is drinking during the week, at lunch, with her cereal in the morning (OK, not for breakfast or lunch lest someone think my statements are inaccurate, I stand corrected).  The great thing is her enthusiasm for wine and Wino Paulís trepidation for wine purchasing.  I enjoy watching other people sweat and now that Winette Alice has promised to keep us informed of all the wines other than Two Buck Chuck that she is now drinking, there is a new line item in their household budget. 

I am happy to see her selection of Banfiís Centine, a nice wine I have enjoyed at a dinner with my family in the past.  This blend goes great with many of the tomato-based sauces (gravies) and for a Friday night with pizza can be fun.  Thanks WA for living up to your commitment of keeping us informed on your new wine selections.  Now, tell Wino Paul to give me his credit card and I will stock you up with a case or two of wines I think you need to enjoy.

Note: You'd be so proud of me for opening a bottle of wine tonite that doesn't have a salamander on it. I am enjoying a bottle of "Centine" Banfi wine, a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Very nice, very berry, very red, very good, very inexpensive, very nice with nothing. How's that?

 

April 28, 2004

I was in the library today, well, not actually the place where a school or town houses their collection of reading materials.  Rather, I was in a small room in a place where magazines and outdated quick reading materials are kept to occupy oneís time for a brief period.  And while I was, passing, uh, time, I picked up a book written by Karen MacNeil called The Wine Bible.  This three-inch thick soft cover gives a run down on the usual suspects for wine grape names, glossary of terms, wine regions and the process of making wine.  There was a section on the United States that out reaches many of the other books I have glanced through in short bursts to pass, uh, time.

The chapters were buffed with small, gray boxes containing those quick fact type things that one can read, remember, and bring back up during a late night drunken conversation with other late night drunks.  Something like, ďHey, did you guys know that Ö..Ē and everyone marvels at the fact, until the rose color is slapped from your glasses as one wise ass yells out, ďYou know, your head is full of useless shit.Ē  So I rippled through the chapter looking for any interesting factoids I could glean for my next Wino Rocker, massive wine consuming marathon.  This book had a page that ranked the Wine Consumption in the US by State.  It was a survey done by a research firm called Motto, Kryla and Fisher and was compiled in 1999.  So the question of the day, ďwhat is the number one wine consuming state in 1999?  The answer will surprise you, it will come later.  I will make it easy, in 1999, when money was flowing like wine from an unbunged barrel, California ranked number 7.  This shocked the crap out of me, in more ways then you might imagine, but wine consuming in California rated a Mickey Mantle (yes, non-Yankee fans- the alcoholic Mr. Mantle who died of a worn out liver played his great years in a pin stripped number 7). 

Ashamed, I am at the fact that New Jersey was number 11 (we were the Phil Simms of the league that year, though to my knowledge Philís liver is fine).  I must admit, I have tried to increase that average for our great state, and ask any of you if you might have the latest publication of Ms. MacNeilís book to see if my wine consumption has helped.  Send me an email and let me know.

Here is one more for the road.  Mercaptans - the offensive smelling compounds that result when hydrogen sulfide combines with the components of wine due to poor wine making.  The aromas can include putrid food, skunk, sweat and burnt rubber.  Yummy.

ANSWER- Idaho, who would have figured that, maybe chardonnay and potatoes are the perfect pairing.

1999 Snoqualmie Columbia Valley Syrah $ (9.99)    No mercaptans here, just a solid showing from WA of the beauty and power of this grape.  You will taste blackberry, blueberry and chocolate in this one that finishes with a bit of spice.

April 25, 2004

Winette Alice Gets Her Journal

 Yes, Winos and Winettes, the month long delay in awarding the wino journal to the winner has finally ended.  The difficulty in the international travel schedule of Wino Paul, interspersed with their abundant social calendar, has caused this overdue meeting to get pushed out several times.  Last evening, we were able to sit and share a nice dinner at Casa de Filippo, enjoy several bottles of BYOB wine and exchange some funny stories.  Though the waiter had a bit of an attitude as I questioned his statement that the wait for our reserved table would only be 2 minutes, the food was able to change my mood.  Well, maybe it was the third bottle of wine.  Normally, when the 2 minutes turned into 20, I would have snapped at him and informed the waiter, his tip would be reduced a per cent for each minute over the 2 minutes we werenít seated, but cooler heads prevailed.  We chose this restaurant, because of its food, and atmosphere, and intimate setting.  This small, local place only has about 12 or 13 tables.  Last night, the table of six next to us must have enjoyed all the wine they brought as their conversation level increased with each uncorking.  It makes it a bit difficult to carry on a conversation at a level that the room will not hear you, when one of the parties in the room feels the need to express themselves in a football cheering tone.

Other than that, it was a great night capped by the Official presentation of the Wino Journal to Winette Alice.  The one caveat is she must periodically share her entries with the readership of WinoStuff.com.  This fact cased a panic to set into Wino Paul as he realized the journal could not be filled with 125 reviews of Two Buck Chuck.  At one point, calculating quickly in his head the added expenditure on wine, he mumbled to Winette Alice about reactivating their Ebay account.  In defense of his moneymaking plans, I quickly grabbed the journal from Winette Alice and scribbled a three bottle, incoherent message personalized to her so the value of the journal on the open market would plummet.

Winette Alice, make sure he purchases some great wines for you to share with us and we look forward to an email with your favorites.


WinoBob awards the prized Wino Journal
to Winette Alice

1998 M. Chapoutier Bellaruse Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge $ (9.99)   Chapoutier is the man and this inexpensive Southern Rhone bend is loaded with cherry and spice and everything nice.  A good everyday drinking wine for fans of the Rhone.

 

1999 Caves des Papes Gigondas Reserve des Fustiers $ (19.99)   This blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre brings the strength and beauty of the Chateauneuf du Pape, at a great price.  Dark cherry, plum, cedar, and spice burst through to please the far reaches of your taste buds.

 

April 23, 2004

I finally realized that wine was invented to round the edges off those complex issues life deals out and today was a day of angles.  So lunch was a pleasant afternoon of Zins at JR with the crew.  I find the calming, softer forces of red wine beneficial to those times when the natural defense mechanisms and discomfort of situations arise.  Though only one of the wines was enjoyable, their collective effects prove worthwhile for my constitution.

On a side note, I have watched shows where they do this thing called, "Separated At Birth" and I have one to offer.  Listening to the radio, I heard an interview with Joe Lieberman, the junior Senator from Connecticut who told Al Gore and the country, he would work on Saturdays in time of crisis, itís just that he would have to walk to the Oval Office and could not use the phone to call anyone.  When I hear him and see his golden locks and jowly smile, there is but one picture that comes to mind.  So I submit for you, Wino Bobís first entry into the Winostuff Separated at Birth file.

          

Yes, a hair cut and shave reveals the post live of the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz gave him enough courage to run for Senator in the Nutmeg State.

2000 Mariah Zinfandel $$ (30.00)    Unfortunately, this wine carried a bit of a funk on the initial nose and it sat on the fruit and flavors a non funky bottle would have had.  It was not totally shot, but the wet cardboard upfront took awhile to leave.  I will hunt down another and leave open for an amendment.

April 22, 2004

If I might be so bold to borrow a phrase from my Afro-American brethren, ďPeace OutĒ.  Well, it was more like Peace in, the glass.  Yes, today, I managed to find myself in that area of Fairfield called 'restaurant row' and with a growling stomach, decided to pop into Bacchus.  As wines by the glass rotate in and around, their Shiraz offering is now the Aussie Peace brand which Wino John gave the coveted WOTM award several quarters ago.  I really was going to have a glass of white wine with my grilled tile fish over greens in a drizzled wasabi and ginger sauce, but since WJ named Peace a WOTM, I had to give Peace a chance.  Thatís all Iím saying.  Appropriately enough, this wine hits as talks of a draft, quagmire and the Vietnam War surround the lexicon of political pundits du jour.  The past few days, I have been watching and listening to the statements about John Kerry and his service records and how he won the three purple hearts that sent him off the front lines 8 months early.  I think I need to get to the bottom of this and I am calling it Palmentergate.

For those of you younger than myself, I direct you to TV Land as the reruns of F-Troop and Captain Wilton Palmenter will explain everything.  Yes, one of John Kerryís injuries in Vietnam came from the wound sustained as they were pinning a medal on his chest.  So will all the record please be released so we can get past this war hero debate and give peace a chance.

Which reminds me, the slogan might have been great in the late 60ís but I was less than excited to shout this at the bar in BacchusÖ.

2002 Peace Shiraz $ (11.00)    This one is great for the label and name, but the wine left me void of the struggle between fruit and character.  OK as a novelty but not one I would spend a lot of time searching out.

 

April 19, 2004

Rarely do I have anything pithy to say, but before I go too deep, I just wanted to comment on a great Saturday evening.  In this day and age, celebrating a 50th anniversary is becoming less common, if not for the fact that divorce is so ďeasyĒ or that death cuts it short.  But the small group of family and friends, some of which I may not see again in the flesh as they are living each day as a bonus, shared stories and memories over carafes of house red and white wine.  It has been twenty years of distance that has separated bonds from my youth, but that evening they were glued back together.  I donít know, nor does it matter what the wine was we drank, it was the common past and optimistic vision through wine soaked gray matter that made it special.  I am glad for my folks as they are still alive and have family and friends to share what turned out to be a five and a half hour good time.

On to the thought of the day, if you look just below WJís WOTM, there is a banner for a movie coming out this month.  Yes, the power and depth of Wino Wallyís golf interests has lead the staff at the independent film company responsible for producing this movie to request the visibility of their project on our front page.  Last week we were contacted by ďThe Bobby Jones Movie teamĒ with a request to help them raise awareness for this movie.  I know Wino Wally lives for the game and thought it was a great tie in with his Masterís links and the many stories he shares about he and Wino Johnís lavish golf vacation extravaganzas.  Then I dug a bit deeper and found out that Bobby Jones is being played by the now ballyhooed actor Jim Caveizal. 

Wanting to go a little further then the other media outlets they chose to advertise with, I figure I can offer a touch of promotional marketing concepts.  So I offer up the following:

  • The Bobby Jones Story- Christ can he play golf.

  • The Bobby Jones Story- boy did they nail that one.

  • The Bobby Jones Story- So I didnít yell fore, what are you going to crucify me?

  • The Bobby Jones Story- He gave his blood sweat and tears for his beliefs.

  • The Bobby Jones Story- Golfís Savior

  • The Bobby Jones Story- Great to play with, just donít go to dinner with him.

  • The Bobby Jones Story- Not the Barrabbus Story.

So if the Bobby Jones Movie team would like to contact me for the novelty toy items I have in mind, please email.  Iím thinking about a set of Golf Clubs with the powerful new 1-3-5 Cross Woods and 3-PW Nail Iron. 

 

April 17, 2004

Well I hope you all survived tax day as the man continues to keep a brother down.  However, this weekend is not about mourning the loss of our hard-earned money, but rather a weekend of celebration for the Wino Bob clan.  And the celebrating started last evening, continuing to the point where I actually locked Wino Rocker out of my house at 2AM, only to find him sleeping on the front porch this morning at 7, as I looked out for the morning paper.  During this time of year, in every church service, the story of the prodigal son is a necessary read, so it seems that my stealthy older sibling has decided to act out the return on a yearly basis.  Last evening as I returned from a sojourn to Newark Liberty Airport, the backdoor rattled and opened not three minutes past shuttling in the suitcases.  Yes, tonight we are enjoying a small gathering to officially mark the half century of 'I doís' of our parents and the fatted calf will be split and the fine robes will be donned and the water of Fairfield will be brought in large clay pots to be turned into water that is drinkable.  Christís blood, wine thing has me too scared to even joke that I would be converting Fairfield City water into anything other than iced Fairfield City water.

On those rare occasions when Wino Ray mounts the oxen and travels East, Wino Rocker clears his executive schedule and gleefully shows up with, uh, a wooden leg to consume as much of my wine as humanly possible.  Hey you rich bastard, bring over a few bottles with you next time.  Fortunately, by the grace of God Almighty, I stocked up on some everyday drinkers at Costaís earlier in the week.  It was the tale of two inexpensive wines and one did impress me as a nice find, though at 12:45, it did not make much difference.  The good news is that Costaís is open and around the corner and easy enough for me to replenish the 4 bottles that filled the gaps in conversation between the three of us. 

This afternoon, we will sober up just in time to do it all over again.  Fortunately, the facility we will be at has a security staff to escort the houseplant; Wino Rocker out at some point after the vacuuming is done and just before the lights are turned off for the night.  Let the trumpets blare and the slaves from the field bring the young goat to the masterís table, it is a 50th wedding anniversary that needs to be celebrated with friends and family we see much too little of.  I look forward to lively conversation and a belly full of food and wine and laughter as occasions like this are rare moments in oneís life.

2000 Francis Coppola Diamond Series Syrah $ (10.99)     There are touches of raspberry and dark cherry with a hint of spice and wood, but it did not bring as much as many Aussie Shiraz do for the same price.  Not the Godfather of his offerings.

2001 BV Century Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon $ (8.99)     BV offers this as acknowledgement of their 100 years in winemaking.  For a retail list of 8.99 and a discount if itís in a mixed half-case or case, then may I present to you a diamond in the rough.  This is fruity and flavorful with a nice finish.  A keeper in my racking for times when friends drop in and hang out.

 

April 14, 2004

The word of the day is ďMr. Kim, who?Ē  Yes, winos, yesterday, on my way home from work, the cell phone buzzed in my pants announcing that a friend would be stopping over in ten minutes.  Crap, I need some everyday wine and have but a few minutes to grab a few bottles.  With Verona too far as Bloomfield Ave is choked with rush hour traffic, I darted over to Mr. Kimís.  Well, itís not Mr. Kimís as I posted before.  Walking in, you notice the store is bright and shinny and the smell of fresh paint still hangs in the air.  There is a major overhaul going on and some of the wines are changing in style and placement in the shop.  I found 4 bottles and placed them on the counter, at which point, the gentleman greeting me expressed that if I pick out 2 more, they will honor a 5% discount.  Hey, now you are talking my language, a 5% half case discount.  So I looked around a bit more, grabbed 2 more bottles and as the gentleman rang me up, I had to ask the obvious, ďso how did you get Mr. Kim to sell you this place?Ē  That simple question began a pleasant 10 minute conversation with Mr. John Costa, owner of the new Costa Wines and Baskets.  It seems that Mr. Costa has had his eye on this little gem for five years and a simple question one day landed him the clichť of being at the right place at the right time. 

I weighed in on my concerns of the temperature Mr. Kim kept the store at and the bad experience I had in the past with bringing home wine that was spent.  There are some exciting plans they have for the place and I wish them well.  With the pricing structure I saw yesterday, save the really high end stuff, there no longer seems to be that price issue that pushed me away from Mr. Kim and down the road to Shop Rite Discount or Home Liquors.  John is shrinking the Bordeaux offerings that did set Mr. Kim apart from others, as he seems to realize that the French wines donít sell well in Essex County.  To my delight, he will be bringing in more South African, South American and Aussie delights.  I wish Costa Wines well and encourage those in the area to swing by and support this new venture.  Making it in a new business is tough and we want this to work.  The beauty is that if prices stay competitive, I can ditch the wheels and amble down to Costaís to help replenish the empty sectors in the racking any day of the week.

2002 Napa Ridge Winery Syrah $ (9.99)    This is a fun wine that can be kept around for those spur-of-the-moment friends dropping in as there is a nice dark fruit, and plenty of wood that gives this structure and balance.

April 11, 2004

I fully accept that changes occur and that is why this year finds me in front of my trusty laptop at 3:45 PM, enjoying my Easter meal.  Yes, the clock blurted its wake up call at 6:30AM so I could hustle down to the 7:30 Celebration of the rising of the Christ as full symbolism and ritual dressed in its finest garb.  The incense fogged the alter and the water and congregation were blessed.  The Good Word rolled off Father Johnís lips as polished as his shoes as the Holiest Day in the calendar kept my mind racing with those words of drinking his blood.  In an odd turn of events, there was no wine offered at that mass so 7:30 turned 8:40 and the assault on the GSP Southbound began in an attempt to cling to tradition and ritual.  My wheels halted at 10:25 and were greeted with the trappings of Easter morning since birth, save the chocolate bunny and peeps in a wicker basket.  The table offered up dyed eggs, two home made cheeses, bread, butter, kielbasa, ham, and a platter of cakes and pastry fit for an army.  Missing this year from my setting was a glass for wine or champagne as the two hour drive back made it too extensive for me to partake.

After several hours of conversation, and a thickened drive north on an overcrowded highway, the driveway to the house welcomed me home.  Fatted from a volume of meat products, I paced the cellar for a wine befitting the rise of the Lord and the celebration of the cornerstone of our faith.  Appropriately, I treated myself to a white and a red as a sacrifice to the heavens as we move out of our 40 day trial and reflection period.  Denial, temptation, contemplation and the deepening of my understanding of my own human frailties lead me to select a Holy Grail of my wine experience and serve up as my main course a Chateauneuf du Pape.  This gift of heavenly nectar is the perfect way to pay homage to the Lordís blood and experience the awakening within as each sip blessed my taste buds and offered the bounty of the harvest.  This two course meal, a sauvignon Blanc and a Rhone blend was the perfect compliment after a long ride and a cholesterol packed breakfast.  If my large motor functions still respond in about three hours, I will hike down to the local diner and grab myself a ham and Swiss on rye to absorb a bit of the fruit of the vine, or maybe Iíll just pass out in front of the TV and be wakened by the pain in my neck from the awkward angle my head twisted into as I strained to see what was on Comedy Central.

2002 Selaks Premium Selection Sauvignon Blanc $ (11.99)    Though this wine hails from Marlborough in NZ, it offers a mild example of the lemon, herbaceous, crisp nature made world famous in the region.  A good example but not one I would brag to friends about when extolling the virtues of what they are capable of producing.

2000 Chateau de Beaucastle Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge $$$ (54.00)    Hospitals should keep this wine in a sniffer bottle to revive patients.  The more you swirl and sniff this one, the more delightful aromas come to light.  I donít know if it is the fruits or the cedar and spice, but this one makes me weak in the knees.  Please, treat yourself once to this wine.  

 

April 9, 2004

Happy Good Friday, though Iím not sure if Hallmark has developed a card for this yet.  This weekend seems to be a bit more a buzz as the last monthís discussions on certain stations focused on the Mel Gibson movie about The Passion.  The most interesting thing that came up in a Discovery show was that the Romans, not the Jews were the ones legally responsible for the death of Christ.  But Iím not going there, if you know what I mean.  The only thing I really need to keep close to my heart is the fact that wine was an important beverage 2004 years ago and it has become an important beverage in my life at this time in history.  The whole thing that the wine, no matter if itís red, white or roseí becomes Christís blood still freaks me out even at mid life.   Drink my blood he said to his disciples.  Eat my body, he said to his disciples.  This is my body and my blood, every time you eat and drink you will be with me.  The body of Christ, the blood of Christ, risks my seat in Hell being closer to the eternal fire of Damnation, but itís all too cannibalistic in nature.  The turning water into wine, JC, Iím right there with you Babe, but the whole thing about me eating your flesh and drinking your blood has traumatized me since second grade when Sister Agnes informed me and my other second grade comrades that we would be eating Christí body and we were not to let it touch the roof of our mouths.  And if she saw any one of us chewing the flesh of Christ, the floor of the church would swallow us whole and offer us a one way express ticket to Flamesville.   Well, I will be drinking a few liters of the good Lordís blood this weekend and will be thanking him profusely for the fact that he was not a single malt scotch guy.  I have this inability to hold down more than one tumbler of scotch and I would never get to heaven if I were constantly urping up the flesh of our Lord.  How does the Host fit into the Atkins craze?  Itís a wafer so I think it starts as a carb, but if it becomes the body of Christ, it should then become protein, but does my body know that or is it just my mind that knows it?  Religion is such a complex issue.  So for now, Iím not really going to think a lot about the consumption of another person, I will just be satisfied with my Chocolate Jesus on a cross and the malt flavored tombstones.

Happy Easter to You and Yours

And enjoy a goblet of the Lordís blood this weekend.

2002 Black Swan Vineyards Shiraz $ (6.99)    Not a whole lot to this one but for the price, I will consume it.  There are some black cherry and pepper flavors, but donít expect much of anything else.

April 5, 2004

If you have ever spent time in a big city, Iím sure you have seen the ravages of desperation on those less fortunate.  Quite simply, the scene of a homeless person rummaging through the dumpster by a restaurant. While in San Diego, I once saw a man grab the scraps of a hamburger from a busboy cart in a sidewalk cafť as the busboy turned to collect the glasses.   I have also witnessed a person pick up the ashy remains of a well-smoked cigarette, just for the last draw on the butt.  With the cold north wind blowing and my laziness, hoping to blame unmotivation on the time change, I never made it to the old Mr. Kimís wine store today.  Instead, I did the equivalent of drinking from on open bottle left on a restaurant table.  OK, so I was home and grilled up chicken with teriyaki sauce in a red wine reduction and corn, but being alone, I had not the heart to open up anything more than a $15.00 bottle.  As the everyday drinkers are drank, or drunk, whichever past tense suites me for the moment, I became that San Diego homeless man and Dear God forgive me, went to the dumpster.  OK, so it wasnít really a dumpster, just the side rack, where I keep the occasional gifted wine that does not fit my habit.  You know from time to time, people who do not know you well, bring over a bottle of something to be polite.  Much of the time I save those for other people who may visit that do not care what they drink as long as they didnít pay for it.  Then, I think carefully before bringing out a revealing Rhone or a classy Cabernet.  For those times, and when Wino Rocker decides to consume large quantities, I dig out bottles I shunned from the ďreal rackingĒ and pour away as these wines are tasted little and consumed a lot.  They are buzz wines, something to keep the buzz going so the dull headache will be pushed back until the early morning hours as the alarm clock is beckoning you to the daily grind.   Come on, we all do it, especially those of us who feel this twenty dollar cab is a gem and you wonít be back at that store for weeks to pick up another one.  Well, maybe you are not like me and do the right thing by purchasing multiple bottles of the same vintage.  Unfortunately, I am a onesy, a purchaser of one bottle of this and one bottle of that to see how many different wines I can try.  It causes me great trepidation when I consume the one that was really good.  I usually do not buy the bottle again and can never see what aging may do to enhance the character of such a find.  So, instead of turning to a delight, I turned to my dumpster and grabbed a gifted Merlot. There I said it, yes it was a Merlot.  I feel very Metro sexual right now, or should I say very French.  They feel so strongly that Merlot is the masculine Bordeaux cepage and Cabernet is only a second-class citizen.  This admission only deepens my depression for having a cellar void of the everyday wines.  I really have to find a way to become a professional taster so having wine is part of my job, damn it.

2001 Leaping Lizard Merlot $ (10.99)   It got a one from me as it was a gift, but honestly, the comics of Lil Orphan Annie deliver more pleasantries.

 

April 4, 2004

It wasnít two hours after the posting of the winner for the Wino Journal that a cab showed up at my door.  Wino Paul had just landed from one of his technical geek trips to the Land of Nordic Blondes and he made the taxi come over straight from Newark Liberty Airport to get the journal.  Unfortunately he did not read the Official small print where I clearly stated that the winner must pick up the journal in person with two forms of photo id.  Now heís extremely pissed for shelling out the additional $35.00 cab fare and not being able to get the journal for Winette Alice.  Had Wino Paul presented the picture he has of Winette Alice in the Official Winostuff thong, there was a clause in the contract that would have allowed for me to release the prize.  In desperation, before he left, he did start to show me his picture in the Official Winostuff thong.  Oofa, Mother McRea.

Well its time for me to take stock in myself or better put, in my racks.  As I have been deficit drinking from my cellar, I have little everyday stuff.  Like a crack addict, I scrape together several donated dollars from the new Wino Bob car window washing enterprise I started on the corner of Bloomfield Ave and Elm Road.  By noon, with the gracious donations from the Essex Fellians whose Mercedes, BMWs, Jaguars and Hummers all need a clean windshield, I hustle down to Shop Rite Discount or Home Liquors and buy me a bottle of value wine.  So I figure it is time for me to take stock in my racks, figure out how much to replenish and kick my jones for Starbuckís Grandees.  I just realized if I cut back on two Starbucks a day, I can buy three cases of value wine by next Tuesday. 

I heard last week that the landmark Mr. Kimís Wine Shop and Sauna in downtown has been bought out.  Mr. Kim is now funding the growth of three new Kimís nail saloons on the Avenue (for those not familiar, Caldwell already has 6 Kimís nail saloons in a quarter mile radius).  I guess I need to broaden my references.  Actually he is going into the spa business with Happy Ending.  The new owners are talking about upgrading the store, like putting in air conditioning so the fine wine stays fine.  I will be interested to see if they change the selections in any manner.  Mr. Kim had a great selection of overpriced fine wines.  Bad enough he stocked expensive stuff, he then made sure the price was inflated.  So I will amble into visit the new proprietors this week and see what exciting things they will be doing in the world of wine for the fine folks in town.

2002 TREBBIANO di ROMAGNA La Terra Fina Chianti $ (gift)   Comprised of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo Nero and 10% mix of Trebbiano and Malvasia brings with it all process and very little fruit.  An acidic, abrupt example of Chianti, they may want to sell this one with a straw basket around it.

 

April 2, 2004

Did everyone have their fill of dumb April Fools pranks?  I was listening to the usual radio shows yesterday and for mature adults, most pranks were lame at best.  At this point, can the 50 year old, self proclaimed center of the universe that tongue- lashes Mel Gibson for The Passion, yet clips the pictures and uses them with his image, rip-off artist find anything half funny at this point?  Anyway, that has nothing to do with wine or the enjoyment of wine.  No, I have a much more serious issue I am writing about today.  As one might know, I am the first to sing the praises of the health benefits of wine.  Books, articles and blogs have spoken of the heart, blood thinning, memory, anti-oxidant values.  I have a more complex medical question, how do I get red wine stains off my Willie?  Sorry, actually, just rubbing it off helps. 

Seriously, as the tech sector lag and a widening variety of personal issues spin me further below the high water mark of depression, I think I have found a new medical condition.  If there are any clinics out there willing to pay me for the use of my body as a tool of science, my email is open.  Winos, has this ever happened to you?  You go to a place to free your mind of the Chinese handcuffs that constrict your brain and feel that the delight of a well respected producer of a well recognized wine of California could unbind the interwoven fabric of the manacles.  Simply put, you treat yourself to a bottle of wine usually listed on your once-a-quarter treat list.  Hoping to feel the warmth of a fleece pullover and the comfort of deer stags, you inhale the bold well crafted gem.  Sip it, swirl it, drink it down, only to not have the taste sensation (that Mardi Gras in your mouth) this special wine has brought times before.  Could the mental funk of lifeís lessons alter oneís ability to taste and enjoy a quality wine?  Is there a strange interplay with oneís mood, or mind set and oneís sense of smell and taste?  Are there any manic-depressives out there who experience intensely different sensations from the same wine depending on which end of the cycle one is at?  Talk to me Winos and Winettes, was a favorite wine of mine just not that good or is it me?

Dude, Iím talking Jordan here and it just didnít deliver for me the usual palate party and olfactory opulence I know it is capable of delivering.  So now I didnít enjoy the wine with lunch, I spent more than I should have and have a dull headache.  I guess Iíll have to cheer myself up by listening to the not-for-profit; Democrat shill Stewart Smalley whose uplifting scripted ďoff the cuff commentsĒ about how bad  the country is should make me change my mood.  Yes, I tuned in to Air America- the broadcast equivalent to nails on a chalk board.  Hereís a hint, if you want to be perceived as uplifting, try speaking in something other then a morticianís tone.  Note to Al Franken, those you mock built their own brands, you are not building a brand of liberal talk radio, you a trying to climb the ladder of success off otherís backs.  Why not call your show Stewart Smalley Speaks instead of the rip on OíReilly?  Oh yeah, no commercial appeal in that after the box office tankingÖ.

2000 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (40.00)      I must admit I know this is a quality wine but my palate has been dulled by current mental state.  Donít let that stop you from drinking this one, itís just me.


 
 

Home ] What's New? ] News from Bob ] Wally's World ] Boycott Hollywood ] WinoBabes ] Main Reviews ] Restaurants for Winos ] Links Main Page ] Books4Winos ] Wine Primer ] The Lunatic Fringe ] Random Stuff ] Who are we? ] Old Breaking News 2005 ] WinePress ] SiteMap ]

Copyright © 2000-2005  Wine Ventures, LLC.   All rights reserved.   This page revised June 03, 2006
Drink responsibly.  DON'T drink and drive!