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This page contains Winings from the 2nd Quarter of the year 2006.

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June 27, 2006

I was playing Russian roulette with the radio buttons, punching to see what crazy story the AM talk shows were featuring.  I was sucked in to a promo for the next guest identified as Mr. Oliphant.  I am a casual watcher of Deadwood and was interested that Tim Olyphant would be doing an interview on Air America Radio, especially with the trouble they are having with their NY station.  I sat through a commercial for some magazine that has all the information on why the Bush family are criminals and should all be in jail, and a commercial for Cialis, then the first question for the rugged, bad ass marshal that tries to bring some justice to the gold rush, mining camp of Deadwood Montana.  Like most Hollywood types, I figured he was the tough guy on HBO and a tree hugger at heart.  But when the voice came through my radio, something just was not right.  I lowered the bass and tweaked the treble, but still, this was not the steely-eyed, widow-banging, gold rusher turned marshal.  


Tim Olyphant who plays Seth Bullock on Deadwood

Even during the scene of his young son’s funeral, his voice did not sound this weird.  Then his banter with the host made me fire up my computer and do a bit of research.  The statement that made me laugh was this, and I quote, “Progressives are like the Minnesota Twins, we are all excited in the beginning, and then reality hits us on the side of the head.”

It turned out that I was listening to Tom Oliphant, an Ichabod Crane looking, Floyd the Barber sounding spinner for the progressives; not the rough and tumble actor Tim Olyphant.   


Tom Oliphant- Boston Globe and Al Franken Show

The pictures speak volumes for they way each comes across on radio and TV.  Anyway, I had to drink to Tom’s statement, it really said a lot, though quickly brushed aside by the host.

2002 Oracle Chardonnay $ (7.99)   A deep gold chard from south Africa showing promise of things to come if they would go easier on the oak and let the fruit develop.

June 25, 2006

Stupid me, I apologize to you for my blatant oversight, my journalistic neglect and my sheer ignorance of not writing abut this in the past six years.  I danced around it, I toyed with the concept to the point of near ex-communication from my diocese, yet it was not until today that the vision clarified and the obvious was, well…..obvious.  Yes this Sunday, as I stood in front of the shelves at Shop Rite Liquors wondering, looking for something different to try, to taste, to explore, the harps started playing, a white light flashed, and the bumper sticker logo, WWJD (What Would Jesus Drink) morphed from the shelf readers.  Bingo, I was drawn, as if Jesus himself grabbed my hand and brought me to the shelf of Israeli wine.  I am not talking about the Baron Herzog plonk or the .  No I mean the recent resurrection of the two millennia-old wine growing region in the biblical area of Jesus.  Unlike the harsh wine produced from before Christ that lead most drinkers to dose the wine with honey or spices, these new wines are advancing in quality and complexity.  How could I have ignored this region for so long?  After all, wine and the blessed body of our Lord keep me from becoming a Scientologist, though the latter would be far better for my desire to break into the world of writing for a real publication.  Yes me, Tom Cruise, and Vinnie Barbarino could be the founders of a new wine and Scientology magazine.  Screw L. Ron Hubbard, I can write about science fiction and religion and drinking the blood of baby white Republicans creating a desire for box office dominance, or at least make enough FU money to own a 747.

Getting back to the wine shelf at Shop Rite, I have not researched much on Israeli wine, but I do have a new techno associate whose friend owns a winery.  He didn’t tell me which one, so I was running blind, blind faith, entrusting in Devine Intervention to guide my hand to select a bottle. 

As I scanned the few bottles, I went with the Chosen One, a cabernet sauvignon from Galilee.  Come on, Galilee, blood red, the Holy land, and the ringing in my head of one song my father tolerated as my older brother’s high school band practiced for hours on Sunday afternoon in my family’s basement.  My dad was a huge fan of the early Christian Rock song, “Put your Hand in the Hand of the Man from Galilee”.  The chorus was:

 Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water;
Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea.
Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently,
By putting your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.

I remember as the music came spiraling up the stairway and into the dining room that was the only song my father would start singing as he was preparing potatoes for Sunday dinner.  I do think I caught him singing Mississippi Queen once  but he mumbled those words so I couldn’t understand much about Vicksburg. 

I selected two bottles of wine so I can start to build an opinion; I selected these two by gut feel and opened one for dinner. The wine was interesting enough to have me begin researching more about what they are doing and I look forward to a new Sunday schooling of tasting reds from the land of unlimited bread and fish and manna and miracles.  I am also looking for comments and information from anyone reading this that has suggestion of wines to try or articles to read so I may be more knowledgeable.  For now, I trust my wine experiences to my Lord and Savior and someday soon  I might definitively know What Jesus Drank.  (Editor's note: God help us...)

2003 Ramim Cabernet Sauvignon $ (12.99)     Nice nose of dark fruit with a nicely oaked blackberry and cassis taste but the wine fades quickly and leaves little behind.

Ramim Winery is located in Moshav Shachar.   Nehemia Yaakobi, a gynecologist by profession, runs the northern vineyard.  Nitzan Eliyahu, a doctor of physical and biological chemistry with a hand in both high tech and academia, brought a scientific approach to the art of winemaking, developed further after many experiments and meetings with experts.  An example of what the new Israeli wines are becoming.

June 23, 2006

Wine affects my dream patterns very differently.  I am starting a journal to see if my good dream pattern and my nightmares are traceable to the wine variety I consumed before I went to sleep, or passed out which ever happens based on consumption.  Last night, I tried my first experiment.  I logged the wine, fell asleep with a note pad next to the bed and recorded my dreams underneath the name of the wine I was drinking.  The first part of my dream had to do with a new scientific study that showed a direct correlation between the increase in global temperature and the volume of exhalation from self righteous, pompous asses.  It is CO2 specifically from blowhards that feel they are more “environmentally correct” than the rest of us as they head out to global warming meetings in private jets and smoked glass Suburbans.  It seems that when the "Holier-Than-Though" gene, when mixed with the "do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do" gene, a conversion takes place that creates a super carbon dioxide molecule being exhaled from the  bodies of progressives.  Thus their constant telling us the world is doomed is actually dooming the world.

Christ, that was scary.  I tossed and turned and grabbed a glass of water to replenish what I had cold sweated out.  I jotted down this info so I could recall it in the morning, then went back to sleep.  The volume of consumption had me snoring away in no time.  Round two...  Like a Fellini movie, I was in a dark room, sitting in a chair, in my underwear and a Fedora.  A dim light streamed across the floor from a small opening in a door.  Voices, ghostly shrill voices could be heard, a gavel, a meeting procedure.  Speeches were being made and the reaction to some were applauses and others boos.  I struggled to get out of the chair, but couldn’t.  A closed circuit TV came on and the light from it sent a sharp pain through my eyes.  Faces flashed and flooded the screen and shrill voices chanted at me, “Come to our side, we are the way and the world, we know best, you are destined for eternal damnation unless you denounce the devil himself, George W. Bush..."


My body felt like it was stuck in quicksand, not able to get up and turn off the TV, not able to move, just sinking into this swirling mire of faces and gestures and admonishments.

That was it, I could no longer sleep, I turned on the TV and spent the rest of the night ingesting coffee, taping my eye lids open and pinching myself to stay awake.  As the first data point in my new experiment, I can unequivocally say that scary nightmares are brought upon when consuming Sutter Home White Zinfandel. 

June 21, 2006

Back to basics.  If this is a wine site, I guess I have to keep up with all the other wine sites and attend more wine tastings so I can talk about new up and comers or rare gems.  As my dance card for high society wine tastings is totally empty, I took advantage of Park Ave Club’s Summer Wine Night.  It wasn’t barrel tasting at Screaming Eagle, but I do like their casual manner. Phil Darrow was unable to be there so we missed his easy manner and educational style.

Summer Wine & Food Pairing

What, exactly, is a "summer wine?" It is a wine that makes perfect sense for Chef Arnold's innovative menu of calamari, pork tenderloin, petit filet mignon, sea scallops, and grilled tropical fruits. Break away from your standard grape varieties and sample some unusual and unusually delicious wines, including Chenin Blanc, Vermentino, Riesling, Carignan and Tempranillo. Five grapes from five countries with five dishes to match!  It just does not get any better than that.

The wines were:

  • Bridlewood Viognier and Crisp Calamari with mache and frisee salad- the viognier went well with the calamari and held up for the light vinaigrette dressing.

  • Cannonau with BBQ pork tenderloin with fire-roasted tomatillo sauce- it was presented that Cannonau is a clone of Grenache specific to Sardinia.  This wine was a bit weak for the bbq spiciness.

  • La Cala with seared sea scallops in fresh pea (not pee) sauce- pedantically, this should have come before the bbq as the wine is a white grape, Vermentino, from Sardinia.  It paired well but was overshadowed by the prior dish.

  • Rancho Zabaco Zinfandel with fillet mignon atop a Portobello topped with fresh tomato and mozzarella- I am a fan of fillet and Rancho Zabaco so this pairing was my favorite, enough said.

  • Poet’s Leap Riesling with grilled bananas and mango napoleon- this Washington state Riesling had a dusting of petroleum on the nose, which blew off quickly, but the dessert out ruled over the wine.

We sat with a table of long time club members that are also neighbors and friends so we were the newbies.  We had a lively discussion about wine and in my huberous, I told two people I could help them find wines they liked.  I spent today trying to get in touch with the wine retail man, Brian Badlowski to see if he could bail my ass out so I do not come off as a blow hard to my new friends.

A funnier discussion at the table revolved around why a certain type of pastry is called a Napoleon.  The more knowledgeable in cuisine said the pastry was named for the French Military genius and the last to wage a war without a white flag.  So then, what equated flake dough layered, custard loaded sweet dessert with the diminutive military might?  We asked the chef and he said, any layered food presentation could be called a Napoleon, but the puff pastry part is the traditionally defined layered configuration that carries the surname Napoleon.  Therefore, it must be that Napoleon was gay, a puffer, a cream puff, a McGreevey.  Sorry, the gay thing hit me when today the big news on the local radio was that the Gayvnator and his man love just purchased a 1.5 million dollar love shack in Plainfield, NJ.  I am sure there will be plenty of Greek statues by the pool and the hot tub will be a caldron for Gayvenor goo.  Lord, I apologize…..

June 18, 2006

I wanted to take a minute to send out a Happy Father’s Day and a Get Well to Beer Ray, my dad, who is recovering from the second of two major surgeries since February.  I hoist a can of beer and in your honor, “this Bud’s for you.”  I took the trip down to the shore area this morning to spend a little time with him and see that his recovery is coming along.  The trip down wasn’t bad but that Garden State Parkway gets crazy during the summer.  Here’s a note, by the looks of traffic today, I don’t think too many people were worried about the price of fuel.  And when did Lukoil become such a player on the service stop scene in NJ?  Say good-bye to the Shell and Exxon gas card and hello to the Ruble.  The largest oil company in Russia is now servicing parkway fuel stations. 

Speaking of the Parkway, I read a funny story a few days ago regarding the iconic Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery Beer Bottle/water tower located in the old Pabst property in north Newark.  As a kid, my uncle worked there and that Pabst beer bottle was a friendly bit of the GSP scenery just south of the Route 280 exit.  In 1982, Pabst shutdown the plant, but the beer bottle/water tower proudly defied the collapsing neighborhood and stuck up in the skyline like the proverbial middle finger.  The workers, machinery and product have long left the area and finally a development company is working on a new project for the deteriorating buildings and rusting fences.  In total FU-istic fashion, during the first attempt to bring down the 60-foot beer bottle/water tower the crane cable snapped and the stalwart trademark beat the machine.  The plant was originally the site of Hoffman Bottling Company when in 1930, the bottle was built to represent Hoffman’s soda.  The bottle has a 55,000 gallon capacity as a water tower.  The new development will be called the Pabst Plaza, so the bottle may stand in tribute to the old brewery if the crane is unable to complete the job.

Bottle and demolished building.

This story carriers a great deal of local interest and some memories for those whose relatives counted on that plant for a living.  Since Big Bob has no interest in me writing about the vitriolic Al Franken, I will focus more on the developing story of the big beer bottle in the sky.  ...developing.

June 16, 2006

It is not often one of my deeds actually are rewarded.  Then again, pissing off most of the wine “guru’s and heavyweights” may not qualify as a deed.  Therefore, you can only imagine my surprise when I arrived home today, after the mother of all suck days (the beater truck decided it had enough and stranded me 110 miles from home base), there, on the kitchen table was a bottle of Zinfandel.  I do not know how it got there, but a bottle of Echo Canyon Zinfandel and a thank you note from my strapping young nephew were neatly placed on the kitchen table.  I have just doubled my Arizona wine in my cellar, rocketing it into second place for USA wines in my rack (I still have a soft spot for California and the NJ wine I did have was used in cooking).  I assume during one of my brother’s jaunts subsequent to our Arizona wine experiment, he found a zin from the property he considered during his entrepreneurial search for life after corporate stress.  He did not have a large enough fortune to make a small fortune in the Arizona wine business.  I look forward to a celebratory occasion in the near future when we can uncork the bottle together and see if the red rock terrior around Sedona imparts favorably to the Native American zinfandel grape.

On a side note, when we were slugging through the less than sparkling examples of AZ wine at Kokopelli’s tasting room, one of their red blends was called Meritage.  I inquired, like a pedantic wine snob, if in fact they were a member of the Meritage Association (that was for Woody).  The young lady pouring looked at me as if I was some pedantic wine snob asshole and told me she did not know but would check with someone that might.  Before we left she simply said, no they were not.  As I am not officially an active officer of the Meritage police, I gave them a verbal warning and moved along.  My brother sent a news clipping from the Arizona Republic detailing a group that is taking legal action against Kokopelli as they named their upcoming wine event the same as a long-standing event held in Scottsdale each year.  The group seeking legal action also owns the trademark to the festival name for their marketing material and merchandise.  It appears that the Kokopelli Winery has little regard for IP or simple Google research.  I have an idea; we will drop the trademark infringement lawsuit regarding the term kokopellistuff if you hire us as your research team for wine label and festival terms.    

June 14, 2006

I might be the only one here to say this but Happy Flag Day, or Merry Flag Day, or Felice Navi Flag Day, or Woo Hoo.  Anyway, last night I had to drink to keep myself from drinking.  What I mean is I have been Jonesin’ to crack open the Absinthe and get whacked.  I need a diversion from things and figure the Absinthe will hold the temporary key to a fantastic journey of the subconscious.  Then, in the back of my mind, I wonder if I am the one in one hundred thousand who will be vulnerable to the psychotic effects and, in a fit of drunken loner depression, I slash off an appendage, no matter how small it may be; like a pinky on my  left hand, I mean.  I would need to relearn the home row of the keyboard with only nine fingers, or stop typing words with the letter “A”.  That would not be right, then I couldn’t call l Fr nken  n  sshole.  Though it looks fun to me, I fear Wino John would go over the top with the amount of editing he would have to do per entry of mine. 

Call it Fear of Flying, I am looking for a safety net when I crack open that bottle, but I do not know how much longer I can keep the demons inside my mellow from pushing me off the cliff.  “Wino Bob, take the 11 steps to the basement and bring up the Absinthe, Absinthe spoon and Absinthe glass, you pussy, and let’s get to a psychotic stupor that Hemmingway would be proud of and you won’t totally recall.”  Still stronger than the devil on my right shoulder, I have managed to keep that bottle seal intact; but the alcoholic on my left shoulder made me grab a bottle of wine when I was summoned to the cellar.  I need to get a commitment from the Cabfest Ocho crowd so I can quell the voices in my head that taunt me night after night.  My only concern is that I get drunk before the effects of the wormwood kick as the 53% abv elixir kicks my ass. 

A bit off topic, I did want to sneak in a quick Happy Birthday to my nephew, the recent college graduate, off to a job in Utah in the next month.  Though he is not a frequent reader of the page, it alleviates my guilt for not getting a card into the mail; I am such a crappy relative, dates of important events always slip past me. 

I was going to go see Al Gore’s Inconvenient Facts movie this past Saturday, but my burner needed a cleaning since it is still coming on in the mornings. (check the date on top of the entry…)

In a pre-emptive strike to ward off the delirium tremors, my shaky sick hand grabbed a California syrah I like because of the wine and price.  Not a big ball busting syrah, but a fruit forward, easy drinker that is less than ten bucks and is complimentary of Tuesday TV.  Yes, I cried at the conclusion of the mini series, Deadliest Catch.  That Sig Hansen has some hot little wifie.  I may need to take a trip to Seattle next Opilio crab season and warm her crab trap if you know what I mean.  And for the record, Dennis Leary in Rescue Me is brilliant.

2004 Echelon Syrah Clarksburg Esperanza Vineyard $ (8.99)   This wine just hops right out of the glass and says, "Hello, I'm syrah and I’m full of dark fruit, a hint of smoke and a touch of spice."  Drink with a friend, a-lone or with a burrito, it is quite chameleon.

 

June 12, 2006

The last word, as one would say, came from Mr. Phillips regarding my entry on the aging of wine.  Please see the last comment on this subject.

Mr. Bob,

I finally had a chance to visit your website. You're not a Type A are you? Holy cow. Way to become obsessed with an issue and get all of the information. The wine drinkers of the world should all send you money to support further research.

Just to clarify, so you don't misquote me to your followers, I say in my talk that the wine will age UP TO 8 times faster when the temperature is raised 18 degrees F....which I feel is an accurate statement.

So what's your conclusion about the affects of temperature on wine storage...in layman's terms Bob. I don't want to have to find that squirrel again.

Mark

So there you have it, contrary to all the posted information from other web sites and chemists alike, Mark will still be promoting the single sourced, unsupported statement of Dr. Pindella.  OK Terrific.

June 10, 2006

I was listening to the many takes from the talking heads of political punditry regarding the superb job our special forces did in executing the operation that eliminated al-Zarqawi.  Nice job, men.  The Anti-Bush, America is wrong, let’s not talk about any Democrat issues leader; Al Franken, is now explaining that al-Zarqawi was in Iraq in 2002 and we had an opportunity to kill him then and bumbling George Bush did nothing.  Oh wait, this is the same Mr. Franken that said according to the 9/11 commission, there is no tie between al-quadi and Iraq.  Wow, it seems that if al-Zarqawi was in Iraq in 2002, but for the last 2 years Al Franken told us there was no link, now he is telling us we knew Zarqawi was in Iraq, it leaves me a bit confused on Mr. Al Franken’s position.  So I went to the incubator of the hate Bush blogospere, the Huffington Report and searched for the Franken. 

          Pictures appeared on www.radioequalizer.com

I was happy to see a hit, so I started reading the article.  When I got to the article, it was not from Al Franken, the potential Senatorial candidate from Minnesota and wannabe voice of the Liberal Democrats, but from his daughter, an elementary school teacher in NYC.  Was the article touting her father’s qualifications or furthering his positions on universal health care?  No…it seems that Ms. Franken has a potty mouth, or at least thought it important enough to post a toilet etiquette article on the Huffington page.  I look forward to Thomasin Franken’s keynote address at her father’s Senatorial campaign rally.

Thomasin Franken

Thomasin Franken

Guessing that I was most certainly toilet-trained by age three, I have been peeing in public restrooms for at least 22 years. I have no qualms about using public restrooms (as long as they're not flooded, there's toilet paper, no one's doing drugs in them, etc.), except when I find pee all over the toilet seat.

I think I've found a way to solve that problem: If all women and girls just sat on the toilet seat, allowing the pee to flow directly into the bowl instead of spraying all over seat and the floor, then all toilet seats would remain clean. We could all just sit on the seat, relax as we empty our bladders, and leave the toilet seat clean for the next user.

When I go into a public restroom, and the seat is clean, I'm just going to sit on it. I have never heard of anyone contracting a disease from sitting on a toilet seat. And if I squat, not only am I uncomfortable, but I also become guilty of the very infraction I'm rallying against. I end up peeing all over the seat. Because I am polite, if I sprinkle when I tinkle, I am neat and wipe the seat. This is totally gross, though, because I only squat if there's already someone else's pee on the seat, and now I have to clean up not only my pee, but strangers' pee, too. Ew!

So, if all females just got into this together, agree to sit on a clean seat rather than squat, we'd all be able to pee comfortably. And just think how short the bathroom lines would get without waiting for each woman to stabilize herself in her squat before using the toilet, or getting the gigantic handful of toilet paper together to clean the seat afterwards. This could even save trees!

Ladies, I think this is an idea we can all get behind. 

Thank you, Ms. Franken for that informative essay on peeing in public.  You should have your father incorporate that into his platform, the Franken No Squatting Bill should get a great deal of support from Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi.

2003 Alonso Del Yerro Ribera del Duero $ (21.99)   A beautifully crafted Spanish red from the Ribera region brining flavors of coffee, tobacco, fig, cassis and a sweet tannic finish.  A bit more than I usually spend, but a nicely produced tempranillo.

June 5, 2006

 I am rounding the bend on this temperature issue and Wino Paul found something that I believe will be the final nail into the eight year aging with a 10C rise in temperature.  The last bullet point describes that a high energy barrier reaction will actually occur slower than the low energy barrier reaction, therefore the high barrier in Dr. Pandell’s theory does not follow widely accepted chemical reactions.  Being Captain A**hole, if I ever am in a room where Mr. Phillips spews this eight year aging with 10C temperature rise, I will stand up and challenge him on the spot.  I just think that people making money as wine experts should be challenged on their statements and not just blindly accepted.  Lucky for me, I do not make money, nor have I ever been confused with a wine expert so everything I say can go unchallenged since most of it is made up after a night of heavy drinking.

·         Most molecular collisions do not result in chemical change.

·         Before any change takes place on collision, the colliding molecules must have a minimum kinetic energy called the Activation Energy shown on the energy level diagrams below (sometimes called reaction profile/progress diagrams - shown below).

o        Going up and to the top 'hump' represents bond breaking on reacting particle collision.

§         The purple arrow up represents this minimum energy needed to break bonds to initiate the reaction, that is the activation energy.

o        Going down the other side represents the new bonds formed in the reaction products. The red arrow down represents the energy released - exothermic reaction.

·         It does not matter whether the reaction is an exothermic or an endothermic in terms of energy change, its the activation energy which is important in terms of temperature and reaction speed.

·         Now heated molecules have a greater average kinetic energy, and so at higher temperatures, a greater proportion of them have the required activation energy to react.

·         This means that the increased chance of 'fruitful' higher energy collision greatly increases the speed of the reaction, depending on the fraction of molecules with enough energy to react.

·         For this reason, generally speaking, and in the absence of catalysts or extra energy input, a low activation energy reaction is likely to be fast and a high activation energy reaction much slower, reflecting the trend that the lower the energy barrier to a reaction, the more molecules are likely to have sufficient energy to react on collision.

·         http://www.wpbschoolhouse.btinternet.co.uk/page03/3_31rates.htm

 

2003 Michele Chiarlo Le Orma Barbera d’Asti $ (11.99)   A rounder, softer, more enjoyable wine than some of the highly acidic, food-only Italian reds, showing red and dark cherry with a plum finish.

June 8, 2006

My deepest apologies for the technical glitch yesterday.  After 6 years with our web service provider, they announced they would be moving their company in a different direction and running a server was not in their plans.  It left me with about a week to find an alternative, register and have the IT department move the massive volume of files onto the new server.  As the IT department is really WJ and he had to wait to get home from is high paying executive job to deal with our stupid web site, there was a period of time when the site pointed to our new host’s log-in page.  My phone was ringing off the hook and my email box loaded up, though at the time I had no email access.  Thank you for the quick and voluminous response when the site went down. I was assured that the new hosting service will be bigger and better and might even allow us to add some new bells and whistles to this site.  Let’s face it, its all about bringing you the best web experience, and when we cannot, we look to flashing icons and scantily-clad women. Maybe the new bandwidth can make those hot Wino Babes, stand up, smile and jiggle a little.  Or maybe each new Wino Babe will have a loop of a bottle of the GOTY being poured down their sun-soaked skin, or maybe…wait, I am getting myself hot just thinking about the wonders of the internet in the hands of a demented drunken perv. 

2000 Rotllan Torra Reserva Priorat $ (16.99)   A blend of 50% Grenacha, 25% Carignan and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon deliver a lush table of dark fruits, but the spicy cedar and tobacco flavors remind you of enjoying a mild cigar while munching on a bowl of blackberry, black cherry and bramble.  

June 4, 2006

To my delight, my response email to Mark Phillips did not get the typical "F Off, you creep" response, but rather a witty query.  Part of the query was based on my wrongly saying I had located information that contradicted his eight year aging claim, I corrected myself in a follow up to say, it did not contradict, but rather did nothing to support his information.  Below is his response to my further asking for him to cite the study and the scientist.

"While I look for my source....which may have been a squirrel in my backyard dressed like a scientist, I'd love to learn what information you found that is contradictory."

I cited my information and research facts and sent them to him.  He then responded with the link to the article (the only article where his eight year thing appeared).  The article is written by Alexander (Al) J. Pandell, Ph.D, entitled How Temperature Affects the Aging of Wine.

Dr. Pandell fancies himself the wine alchemist. 

The Alchemist is Dr. Alexander (Al) J. Pandell who has been collecting wine and teaching a university-level introductory wine course for over 20 years. Al earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry at Stanford University and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. Dr. Pandell is Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at California State University, Stanislaus and has been a Visiting Professor at Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and St. Mary's College of California. 

The article states:

What will happen to a wine stored at room temperature (73°F) in a dark closet rather than in a temperature-controlled environment of 55°F, the commonly accepted "ideal" temperature? This is the question I will attempt to answer in the following discussion. To do this, we must consider some chemical principles to help us understand why high temperature is detrimental to wine.

Bottle aging of fine wine is a result of many chemical changes (reactions) taking place over time. Each of these reactions occurs at a certain speed or rate, and each reaction is affected differently by temperature changes because each has a unique energy factor or natural energy barrier, the "hurdle" that must be overcome ("jumped over") for the reaction to occur. Using well founded and accepted chemical principles that will not be discussed here, one can estimate the effects of temperature increases above the (assumed) ideal 55°F on the increase in rate or speed of aging. These calculations are made assuming two different energy barriers, or hurdles for reaction to occur, (low and high) and three different temperature changes, 55° to 59°F, 55° to 73°F, and 55° to 91°F. By choosing the low and high extremes for the energy barrier, one can be fairly certain that the true reaction barrier lies between these extremes. After examining reactions similar to those that occur in wine during aging (e.g., oxidation, reduction, esterification, etc.), I am persuaded that the true reaction barrier lies closer to the high energy barrier than the low energy barrier. The results are summarized in the TABLE.

The first two columns in the TABLE show the temperature change, and the third and fourth columns show the increase in the rate of aging associated with each temperature change based on LOW and HIGH energy barriers. For example, the first row shows a temperature change of 55°F to 59°F with a calculated increase in the rate of aging of 1.2 times assuming a LOW energy barrier and an increase of 1.5 times assuming a HIGH energy barrier. One can conclude from these calculations that the increase in the rate of aging for a temperature change of 55°F to 59°F is between 1.2 and 1.5 times. This means that if your cellar is at 59°F instead of 55°F, your wine ages 1.2 to 1.5 times faster than if it were at 55°F.

As the data in the TABLE show, going from 55°F to 73°F, an increase in temperature of 18°F(10°C), doubles the rate of a reaction if it has a LOW energy barrier. If the reaction has a HIGH energy barrier, the rate of the reaction increases by a factor of eight for this temperature difference. Translated, this means if your cellar is at 73°F instead of 55°F, your wine ages 2.1 to 8.0 times faster than if it were at 55°F. Thus, 3 years at 73°F is equivalent to between 6.3 and 24 years of aging at 55°F. These differences are very significant.

Not being the chemical geek, it took me awhile to absorb this, and my untechnical mind flagged a simple statement, “using well founded and accepted chemical principals not discussed here.”  OK, so where are they discussed?  I found the author’s email address and asked him to please inform me of his well accepted principals for this high barrier portion of the calculations.  Figuring it may be a long time, if at all that I get a response, I asked the premier chemist geek that I personally know, Wino Paul and his talented, less geeky chemist wife, Winette Alice, to render their professional opinion of the good doctor’s work.  A brief conversation with Wino Paul revealed to me that there is a “rule of thumb” law in chemistry that all reactions double or half with a 10 degree C change in temperature based on the Arrhenius equation, first published in 1889.

Arrhenius explained the variation of rate constants with temperature for several elementary reactions using the relationship

k = A exp(-Ea/RT)

where the rate constant k is the total frequency of collisions between reaction molecules A times the fraction of collisions exp(-Ea/RT) that have an energy that exceeds a threshold "activation energy" Ea at a temperature of T (in kelvins). R is the universal gas constant.

To see what temperature rise is required to change the rate constant from k1 (at T1) to k2 (at T2), take the ratio of the Arrhenius equations for each of the two temperatures:

k2


k1

 = 

A exp(-Ea/RT2)


A exp(-Ea/RT1)

 = 

exp

(

 - 

Ea


R

[

1


T2

 - 

1


T1

])

The calculator below solves this equation for the activation energy, given a rate factor increase (k2/k1) and an initial and final temperature. Use it to evaluate the rule of thumb. Try answering the following questions:

·         What activation energy must the reaction have to apply to make the rate double with a 10°C rise?

·         Is the same activation required to make the rate quadruple for a 20°C temperature rise?

·         Try a different initial temperature. Will the activation energy required be the same for any 10°C rise, no matter what the initial temperature is?

 

If the rate constant changes by a factor of k2/k1 =

when the temperature changes from T1 =

K

to T2 =

K

...then the activation energy must be Ea =

kJ/mol.

 

If the activation energy has a particular value, and if the temperature change occurs in the right range, and if the reaction is an elementary one that obeys the Arrhenius equation, then a 10°C rise might double the reaction rate. It's a very iffy generalization.

Winologically, the first flaw I see in this equation being applied to wine is the fact that this is an iffy generalization and wine being a complex being simply does not neatly fit within this model.  Secondly, I have read that its not only the accelerated rate of reaction but also the probability of collisions of molecules based on an orientation factor.  The energy for the collision to occur may be present but the path of collision my not be oriented to ensure the collision thereby not speeding the reaction at all.  This technical stuff has left me thirsty and with a dull ache in my head.  I will wait and see if the good Dr. responds to my email.  For now, I will not be the person speaking to the public spewing this eight times number.  No, I will  huddle with the pack and until further, more detailed information comes forth, not be spreading the rumor that Mr. Phillips seems comfortable enough to go on record.

2003 Chateau de Camarsac Bordeaux Rouge $ (7.99)   This merlot-heavy blend brings black cherry, blackberry, anise and spice to the party, but does not hang around too long to enjoy the fun.  Not bad for a Bordeaux with training wheels for those not able to drink heavy tannins and Cabernet-dominant Bordeaux.

2004 Apatagua Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley Chile $ (9.99)   The win offers a pleasant amount of black cherry and tobacco flavors, but just does not carry a full body, lengthy wine profile.

2004 A to Z Pinot Noir Dundee Oregon $ (16.99)   A nice balance of fruit and acidity made this a pleasant food friendly wine with red fruit, blackberry flavors and a touch of cassis and oakiness on the finish.

2001 La Berardiere Tres Vielles Vignus Cotes du Rhone $ (10.99)   Though the black pepper and spice on this wine come out before the fruit, it is an enjoyable taste of cherries and bramble and bone-dry tannins, like sucking black fruit powder through a straw.

 

June 2, 2006

I have a suggestion.  Do you like grapefruit for breakfast, a nice California white grapefruit, sliced and scooped from an open rind?  How about a glass of white grapefruit juice with your Post Toasties?  I have a Wino recommendation.  Instead of all that expensive healthy citrus fruit that one must worry what country it came from, simply open a bottle of 2005 Santa Digna Sauvignon Blanc from Miguel Torres.  I did and I enjoyed it with dry rye toast and two eggs over easy.  This is a glass of white grapefruit, pure and simple, not a lot of floral components, more like needing a pair of glasses to keep from getting a squirt in the eye as you dig into this one.  This label hails from their Chilean property and sells for $7.99.  Chill this one down for a hot summer day or think of this with your cheerios.

June 1, 2006

The halfway point is here, unbelievable.  Last night I was heading home from a geek business dinner and hit the send/receive button on my Samsung i730 pda/phone to poll my email box for Winostuff.  As the road crew had route 287 northbound tied up for miles for some boondoggle, road-paving, political handout deal, I had time to read my in box.  You might imagine how excited I was to see an email from the wine consultant, PBS star, Mark Phillips.

Mark Phillips
America's Everyday Wine Guy
Executive Director, Wine Tasting Association

Mark Phillips is the most hired and rehired speaker on wine in the Washington area. There are several reasons for his popularity. First, prior to starting the Wine Tasting Association, Phillip's owned companies that did meeting planning, special events and on-site logistics so he knows what it takes to make an event come off without a hitch. Secondly, even though there are several other individuals that speak about wine, none is as dynamic a speaker as Mark Phillips. You have probably experienced it before - hire an expert to speak, only to find out they are a boring speaker. Phillips, who has formal training in public speaking, is lively and engaging. Thirdly, he is the best at adapting the information to the level of the listeners. Whether it's an advanced tasting for oenophiles or the more common overview of wine talk, Phillip's comments are right on target for the audience. Source http://www.winetasting.org/content/info.html

He had read my emailed question regarding the research information for the 18 degrees rise from 55F to 73F aging a wine eight years.  I quickly opened the email and read the following:

Wino Bob 

I read a study done by a scientist.

Mark

What the F&#@ is that???  Where’s the beef???  What study, what scientist?  Me thinks I got a sassy answer from the highly acclaimed wine consultant.  It looks like Mr. Phillips might have just bought himself an embarrassing thong picture, in the fashion of Limey Dork Hugh Johnson.  The defensive hair on the back of my neck is bristled as I am feeling Mr. Phillips did not take my question seriously.  I am sure when Mr. Phillips’ friends see said picture, he might be getting a few new invites for speaking engagements.   I guess that my simple search over the weekend failed to find the study and the scientist that Mark is going on record with.  I am sure NJN is happy they aired this bit of fiction.  I did respond to his email asking for a bit more information as to what study and what scientist.  I will await his response and again share the information with you lovely people. 

I guess the saga continues…..

May 30, 2006

I have doggedly continued my research on the wine temperature increase that Mark Phillips mentioned in his PBS (DVD for sale) presentation and found many web sites commenting that a wine stored at 68 degrees will age twice as fast as a wine stored at 55 degrees, but the question of aging is obscure.  How Mr. Phillips came to the eight times a fast number from 55F to 73F is still unanswered.  I did find a nice serving temperature chart that is worth posting, as we tend to misunderstand the 'red at room temperature' phrase and the 'chilled white wine' expression.  I found this chart at www.wineintro.com.

Wine Serving Temperature Guidelines

Temp F

Temp C

Notes

100°

39°

Warm Bath

68°

20°

-

66°

19°

Vintage Port

64°

18°

Bordeaux, Shiraz

63°

17°

Red Burgundy, Cabernet

61°

16°

Rioja, Pinot Noir

59°

15°

Chianti, Zinfandel

57°

14°

Tawny/NV Port, Madeira

55°

13°

Ideal storage for all wines

54°

12°

Beaujolais, rose

52°

11°

Viognier, Sauternes

50°

10°

-

48°

Chardonnay

47°

Riesling

45°

Champagne

43°

Ice Wines

41°

Asti Spumanti

39°

-

37°

-

35°

Fridge Temperature

33°

-

32°

water freezes

-18°

Freezer Temperature

It is the most defined chart I have come across.  However, I would be hard-pressed to differentiate my syrah from my cabernet by 1 degree.  Also note that 17C is 62.6F and 18 C is 64.4F but when rounded makes it 1 degree C difference.  Lets face it, if you are going to be pedantic, do not round, be as pedantic as possible.

The best description I found as to the reason a temperature of around 55-58F appears in all comments came from the site www.vanlines.com.

The correct temperature for storing wine is 56 – 58 degrees F. Wine is composed of organic esters which gives wine its characteristic flavor and complex biochemical compounds which give wine its character 56- 58 degrees F is optimal as at this temperature there are a maximum number of complex organic ester reactions to give your wine character and the minimum number of organic reactions to ruin your wine. As the temperature rises, the organic reaction between the esters and the complex biochemical compounds increases the delicate balance of esters and decreases the complex biochemical compounds, which yields a poor taste to the wine. At the optimal storage temperature of 56- 58 degrees F the balance of these chemicals is optimal and the reaction between these chemicals is optimal and the wine ages well and tastes great.

Different wines should be served at different temperatures. Use the following as a guide.

*                               Rich, Red and full bodied wines should be served at 59 -68 degrees F

*                               Light Red should be served at 54 -57 degrees F

*                               Dry White, Rose and Blush wines should be served at 46- 57 degrees F

*                               Champagne, and sparkling wines should be served at 43 -47 degrees F

A simple guide is that red wines can be served directly from storage and white wines should be removed from storage to the refrigerator before serving.

By this explanation, the temperature increase alters the organic esters to biochemical compound reactions, but not inversely, therefore it still cannot be blanketly stated that the aging is equal to a year, two, or eight.  This also casts doubt for me on the gizmos and gadgets that claim you can effect the aging of a young bottle of wine by placing it on magnets, or ultrasonics or sticking a piece of alloy metal into the liquid and magically mature the wine.  To this, I say 'Bullshit' with a capital Shit.  So it all comes down to how your Aunt Ester holds up as she sees more heat, thus exciting her organic molecular structure (if you know what I mean) and how Uncle Biochemical’s compounds swim to meet your Aunt Ester’s organics. 

The search continues and right now, it does not look good for Mr. Phillips’ eight year statement, but if he ever responds and provides his research, I will gladly post it.  As of now, I am taking it as, uh..., a made up fact that he likes to tell and no one in the audience wants to challenge as he is an “expert” and they are but dejected wine web site writers that make up facts in every entry but cannot be aired on NJN’s station. 

The next logical research comes with wine storage and what to do with the wine, dare I say, that may be left in a bottle.  Fortunately for me, this is a very rare occurrence.  So it will take me a great deal of time to work through this one.  Until next time, I say enjoy your reds and whites at temperatures less than they are while being stored on top of your refrigerator, next to your stove, in August, and you might find some flavors you never knew existed in that bottle of Yellow Tail.

May 29, 2006

Memorial Day, the official start of summer, the honoring of our veterans, the parades, the bar-b-qs, the cold stark reality each year that I am second homeless.  Yes, I try to hide the fact from friends and neighbors, but most of them are not around to see me moping around town, eating in empty restaurants, praying in my own pew, left to live out the summer season in Caldwell.  There are no off shore salt air breezes flushing through my open window, no sounds of waves lapping the sandy beaches, no cackling of sea gulls in the early morning hours; just the sound of my coffee pot, my keyboard and my loneliness.  I could run naked through the town and no one would notice (forget that, I have in fall and they did not notice then, shrinkage and stuff, you know it was cold).

When loneliness and despair bleed into my soul, I find comfort in man’s best friend, wine.  And what better wine to find comfort in than a wine with a dog on the label, that would make it man’s best friend for the rest of the world.  Sucked in by the puppy eyes on the label, the charitable contribution to the animal shelter from the purchase, and the need for a big, bold bottle of man’s best friend, I bought a wine from Vinum Cellars.  Their web site is catchy and the influence of Richard Bruno working at Bonny Doon is evident by their attitude in marketing.  This boutique winery produces many of my Rhone grape varietals with the Petite Sirah being the largest volume at 1500 cases.  That is why I found it at Bottle King.  Most of their other offerings run from 150 to 500 cases and I have yet to locate their Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon or GSM. 

Unlike a few of the Australian wines that use shingle backs, or koalas or kangaroos to attract attention to mass-produced plonk, this dog that I bought was nicely crafted with robust flavor and good structure.  Though it is one release, of one grape, I am limited in my impression, but it seems like these guys are into making serious reds.  Their site is www.vinumcellars.com and I am encouraged enough to look for more of their wine to taste.  I have to see if my buddy Brian the wine shop guy has any of their wines, or wine shop guy; Brian B; Wino John’s pipeline to Bordeaux……..

2004 Vinum Cellars Petite Sirah (PET) Wilson Vineyard Clarksburg, California $ (11.99)  A bold rich wine with deep flavors of blueberry, dark cherry and pomegranate.  The finish is mocha, sweet cherry and toffee making this a company friendly wine at a good value.

May 28, 2006

To all our brave men and women who gave their lives in the defense of our country, our constitution, our way of life, we salute you.  Let Freedom Ring.

        

                

2004 Almira Los Dos  Campo de Borja Old Vines Grenache/Syrah $ (7.99)    The maiden vintage from a new winery in the Iberian region of Spain 93% Grenache/7% Syrah.  Simple in structure, with cherry, raspberry and spice, a wine that I will be tracking for years to come.

May 27, 2006

Therefore, it is 10pm last night, the beginning of the official summer season, I am sober, alone, and watching, dare I say..., PBS.  I did not start out watching PBS, it just happened to catch my eye when I was channel-spotting.  I stopped there because there was a guy with a wine glass speaking to an audience and a wine barrel backdrop graced the stage.  It turned out to be a gentleman by the name of Mark Phillips, doing a bit of wine knowledge sharing with an audience as part of interesting things to put on the otherwise boorish channel in hopes of fleecing cash from the sappy TV audience.  I still have my personal vendetta against NJN, the PBS station in NJ for disrespecting my wine knowledge.  I truly believe they got the idea for this Mark guy to do his thing about wine on their station from the outrageously funny show we submitted to the brain trust, or lack thereof, at the Trenton office. 

As they say, knowledge is a never-ending quest as Mark threw out a fact that had me searching books and the Internet all day today.  It was good for me to do some research and it could add to our Wino 101 information we have not added to in awhile.  The point he expressed was that ideal temperature for cellaring those expensive keepers is 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  He then went on to say that for every 18 degrees rise, the wine ages 8 times faster than at 55 degrees.  I do not think he meant for every 18 degrees, as the second 18 degrees would push the storage temperature to 91 degrees and destroy the product inside the bottle. 

I took to investigating this 18 degrees rise from 55 aging the wine 8 times faster.  I searched for quite awhile with no confirmation of this fact and emailed the address on Mark Phillip’s web site to see how he came to his conclusion.  If and when I get the explanation, I will post it as a follow up to this entry.

I did find that there is a wide variety of information on cellaring temperature.  Most information indicates that the cellar temperature should be between 10 degrees C (50.0F) and 13 degrees C (55.4F).  One wine storage company stated that anywhere between 5 degrees C (41F) and 18 degrees C (64.4F) are acceptable. 

The basic conclusion with all the research is that above 20 degrees C (68F) the wine will age improperly.  And 30 degrees C (86F) is death to the bottle.  Wine seems to bring its beauty, it complexity and its full potential in age worthy product out best when stored at 13C or 55F.  One cannot conclude, based on all the information I poured over, that the rise in temperature is directly related to the aging process as the acceleration process brings instability to the aging process creating a different end product. 

One geeky wine paper stated that from the 13C, a 10C rise doubles the reactions inside the bottle; however, the reactions are unstable so it is not as if the wine has aged two years.  Complex to the point of quantum drinking for me, maybe Wino John could bring his quantum math skills to work here for a quantum leap in understanding this wine/temperature aging process.  My concern is if I start repeating the 18F rise from 55F to 73F aging a wine 8 times faster, as Mark Phillips stated in the PBS special, I do not know if that is accurate and defensible if called out the next time I am dining with Albert Einstein.

(developing…)

May 25, 2006

What is the difference between Ken Lay and Al Franken?  Ken Lay is now paying for his excessive behavior to the detriment of his company while Al Franken continues to collect his fat $2,000,000.00 guaranteed salary while RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser (acting AAR CEO) finds ways to cut spending.  It seems like the small guys get screwed again when it comes to Franken’s need for lining his own pockets.  First it was the loan from the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club that caused hundreds of underprivileged NYC youths to lose their summer camp to help pay Al’s bloated contract.  Then Kathryn Lampher left the show to keep Al in nut candy bars.  Now, the guaranteed contract for his 2 million per year leaves the acting CEO no choice but to lay off hard working, middle class employees while the wealthy Mr. Franken is left with empty words of how his progressive movement cares about the little people.  Look for changes in air staff and support personnel in the next several weeks, but Al Franken and Randy Rhodes will be positioned high atop the backs of the poor unemployed staffers.  Way to try and paint the right as selfish and uncaring while their large, no-cut contracts piss on the poor working staff.    

May 24, 2006

I know this is the Year of the Cab, but every once in the while, I have to go back to the wine that really drove me to the books and stores.  I am talking about the good old Rhone wines that make me feel like friendship, comfort or a soft, well worn pair of jeans.   I prefer a cigar box in a bowl and a spicy, peppery quaffer in the glass.  There are 16 villages in the Cotes du Rhone that may also affix their name to the Cotes du Rhone appellation ( 5 of these villages located in the Drome are: Vinsobres, Rousset les Vignes, Rochegude, Saint Maurice, Saint Pantaleon les Vignes.  Another 8 are found in the Vaucluse and are: Cairanne, Rasteau, Roaix , Beaumes de Venise, Sablet, Seguret, Valreas and Visan. Finally, 3 communes in the Gard, namely: Chusclan , Laudun and St. Gervais.

AOC COTES DU RHONE VILLAGES - The appellation is given to wines from 77 communes. Those wines are subject to their own set of rules which strictly control the planting of varieties in given areas, cultivation techniques, maximum yield and vinification methods. Because these high criteria must be met, the quality of the Cotes du Rhone Villages wines was continued to improve ever since the granting of the AOC in 1966.

I need to get back to my rootstock every once in a while for the guilty pleasures of drinking a cedar cigar box with dark fruit.  Nothing better than the vibrant blend of Syrah and Grenache to end a rough day or to veg in front of the TV like a sack of laziness.

2003 Perrin & Fils Vinsobres Côtes du Rhône Villages $ (11.99)    For a village wine this was decent, with a medium body, black cherry flavors and a peppery spice finish.

May 21, 2006

I had the pleasure of packing this weekend for a quick trip to the land of sun-drenched desert and home of my partial college career, Arizona.  I would like to be writing as a wine critic, no matter how stupid my critiques are, BUT NOOOOOOOO.  I was not invited to taste the local scorpion and rattlesnake tainted terrior wines.  You might think I could have been barrel tasting, or writing up the new releases for our site, or meeting owners of vineyards, or, well, nah. 

Fortunately, it was a fun trip and a very happy event.  My strapping young nephew worked his way down to "W" in his family address book and asked me to be his sponsor for confirmation.  He qualified his request with a simple statement that sealed the deal, “Uncle Wino Bob, I don’t have any relatives whose last name starts with X,Y or Z, so, do you want to be responsible for my religious education until I am 18 God forbid my parents are killed in a fiery car crash?”  Since he is not looking for entry into Opus Dei or Knights of the Templar, I figure I could handle this.  Besides, wine is a very important point of ritual symbolism and if I were, God forbid, responsible for his religious education, the Blood of Christ, wine, Holy Grail, would be an important teaching.  Remember, my dear nephew, it is called Blood of Christ.  That is why we do not drink white zinfandel, and very little white wine.  It is not the blood plasma of Christ with out the red blood cells so white wine is but a necessity when the Big Ass Cab is just too heavy with dinner.  My only request for the trip was the ability for me to hit a local wine shop and buy a bottle of Arizona wine or two in hopes of someday being able to write off the trip as a ”business expense”.   Better yet, some day going back to the sun devil state at the invite of a winery owner or two as research for a front-page article on a hugely successful wine web site, or at least having Wino John allow me to pick a winery of the month.

A great many things have changed since I last visited the great state of Arizona.  The valley is still under expansive construction and the cotton fields and orange groves that defined the end of the sprawl are now built over.  Tempe has a man-made lake just outside the area of Sun Devil stadium and Chandler has a winery.  Not the actual winery, as the vines are grown in the Bonita Valley in the southeastern corner of the state.  Their tasting room was in striking distance from my brother’s home so he graciously appeased me and headed to the Kokopelli tasting room.  A friendly setting with a $6 for six wine tasting offer we took advantage of.  I know from the days of living here that minerals are rampant, water is limited and soils are rocky, so I had high hopes for trying the chardonnay, looking for a limestone influence and strong fruit.  Unfortunately, the whites were awful.

  • Fume Blanc carried a hint of grassiness but nothing grapefruit about it, this from a state that grows citrus fruits.

  • Private Reserve Chardonnay was mostly caramel and toffee from the toasted oak; even so, it was light and expressionless.

  • Pinot Noir carried a sweet red fruit nose and a Gamayish flavor.

  • Shiraz was sure not a wine I found any pepper or black fruit.

  • Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was bearable

  • Meritage, though not a part of the association, they simply named their blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz this.  It was the only one I could actually tolerate, and at that point, I was just looking for a glass to catch a buzz.

Disappointed, we drove back to his house and hit a local wine shop.  They carried three of the local wines.  I passed on purchasing the Kokopelli even though they are the first and largest winery of the state.  It seems that they style their wines to be lighter and sweeter for chicks and newbies.  It reminded me of the Four Sisters Winery (NJ) philosophy.  New wine drinkers do not like big ass cab.

I had read about Callaghan Winery as being a recognized producer of good wine so I painfully shelled out $24.99 each for a bottle of their Syrah and a bottle of Mourvedre.  I also grabbed a bottle of Rojo Raca Rojo from Echo Canyon Winery for $19.99.  After my duties of witnessing my strapping young nephew’s ritualistic move towards adulthood, and after attending his awards banquet for lacrosse (a soon to be starting goalie as he played varsity for several games this year as a Sophomore) we landed back at Rancho Wino AZ and cracked open a bottle of the Callaghan Mourvedre.  I will say one thing, I must have paid by the alcohol percent, as this bottle carried 16+ % alcohol and could light a torch in a gale.  Wow, an interesting example of this minor grape with a strong backbone and an offering of black fruit.   It was only one bottle and one varietal of a minor grape, but these guys definitely understand big ass wine.  I look forward to trying their Syrah

In true WinoStuff fashion, we re-tasted the Mourvedre the next afternoon and had it mellowed nicely, still a bit rough around the edges though.  Killing time,  we opened the Echo Canyon Rojo Raca Rojo  which is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Sangiovese with a splash of Semillon.  A very approachable wine with robust flavors from the red clay of the Oak Creek River Valley.  Echo Canyon was up for sale in 2002 and my brother contacted me about it as he was looking for a new venture.  At the time, it was a 3-acre parcel producing wine.  The new owner purchased additional land, expanded the vineyard, and is producing the most drinkable of the three wineries I sampled.  Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to search other offerings from Echo Canyon but their style and finish landed nicely within my wheelhouse.

Unfortunately, life and distance have limited me in seeing my niece and nephew to occasional holiday or special events.  It was great seeing what fine young adults they have turned into and I look forward to following their successes.  As I kicked my nephew out of his room for the weekend and slept under shelves of trophies for lacrosse, hockey, soccer, basketball and baseball, I am certain one day soon I will be able to watch a college game on TV in NJ and tell the chuckleheads I am drinking with, "hey, that’s my nephew, right there, number 88."  I might even save that bottle of Callaghan Syrah just for that special occasion.  Arizona has 17 more wineries I need to taste my way through, so I guess I will be planning a trip back to see them, oh yeah, and my family.  Next time I will wait for the 102 degrees to pass, the swamp ass is killing me…

May 18, 2006

As the Democrats gesticulate wildly over the cell phone data mining issue, a confidential source of mine dropped me some earth- shattering news from the confirmation hearings of Gen. Michael Hayden.   Imus referred to the General as the Casper-looking dude, judge for yourself:

It seems that somewhere next to the building where Jack Bower of 24 operates out of, is a secluded bank of computers crunching algorithms looking for patterns in dialing networks to locate our terrorist enemies.  Early findings prove quite clearly that 96.3% of Americans are 6 degrees from Kevin Bacon.  Yes, no matter what area under the curve interpretation and post graduate degree level calculus formula, we all know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone who knows someone, who knows someone who is calling Kevin Bacon.  The most shocking bit of information that came out is how many times the NSA hunted for Al Qaeda but came up with the phone log of Al Franken instead…..

2005 STEENBERG SAUVIGNON BLANC "ROUND LABEL” $ (8.99)   Plenty of grass, and gooseberry, but light on the citrus fruit.  Far more mellow than the SBs from NZ.

May 17, 2006

Not my fault, I put blame squarely on Wino Paul, as he invited me over last Thursday.  He failed to let me know he had a nasty cold, and proceeded to sneeze on the cheese and cough on the canopies that Winette Alice graciously prepared.  A week later, I am just finishing the phlegm-filled nights and sore throat days.  There is no wine that goes with phlegm, though I thought the sauvignon blanc might have the best chance of pairing, I opted not to prove this out.  Instead (I guess I can declare this a move towards maturity) I chugged Robitussin and chewed on cold pills to get me healthy enough to drink, or at least feel like drinking.  Its not the raspy chest, it’s the painful throat that prohibits my wine consumption with a cold.  My only hope is that WP has not gotten over his cold and he had a miserable trip to Beijing.  Yes, I hope the pressure of ascending and descending made it feel like his eyeballs would pop out of his head.

Getting back into the drinking mode had me grab a bottle of shiraz from the self.  I looked up the wine on the web and found a comment from Bryan Miller, former NY Times restaurant critic, that struck me a bit odd.  Mr. Miller expressed surprise that a shiraz might have a bit of viognier blended in.  Maybe it is the Rhône-lover in me, but this has been a common practice in the Rhone Valley and there are more than two dozen Australian wineries commonly doing this.  In fact, in Cote-Rotie up to 20% viognier is allowed in red wine under AOC.  I know my research is not always perfect.  OK, so most of the time I just pull facts out of my ass, or make them up, but I would not think that a former NY Times food critic would employ the Wino Bob research method.  Lets face it, if I know that viognier and shiraz are not strange bedfellow, shouldn’t he?  Psst, Mr. Miller, shiraz is the same as syrah.

Mr. Miller wrote, "a big, assertive Barossa wine, yet supple and easy drinking. Others worth considering are the 2003 Woodcutters Shiraz ($19), a blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro (it's the stage name for Mourvèdre), and "The Steading," its premier label, which unconventionally marries Shiraz and Viognier ($30)."

 Unconventionally marries, I don’t think the Rhone Valley would call this unconventional, but what do I know?  I’m only Wino Bob…

2004 Torbreck Woodcutters Shiraz $ (15.99)   I call this one a wrinkled dress shirt, well crafted, fine materials, looked good on the hanger as the black fruit, and chocolate fit well, but the wine needed a tailoring to present it in the best light.

May 10, 2006

I know I cannot say this often, but every once in awhile, I do something that works out well for me.  It just so happens that belonging to the Park Ave Club allows use of reciprocal clubs across the country and being the poor planner that I am, I had to try and get a hotel room in Boston without getting a stick inserted into my… ahhh...  wallet.  Fortune smiled upon this weary traveler as a reciprocal club exists in Bean Town that has six guest rooms, none of which were occupied today.  The rates were very reasonable.  Except for those hotels with homeless sleeping in doorways or critters crawling up the walls of the room, this was a find.  The club is an old stately building in the brownstone section of Commonwealth Avenue near the Prudential Center.  Convenient to many of the 5000 Starbucks in Boston and a two block walk to the Copley Square area for food, shopping, culture and a short hike to the Big Green Monster.  I do not know the membership requirements there, but as a reciprocal member, it was just the solution for my overnight stay.

Six stories of late eighteen hundreds opulence hangs heavy in the air, with large marble fireplaces in all the major meeting and dining areas, 20 foot ceilings, worn oak, and supple leather wingback chairs.  The reading room on the second floor was haunted with MIT and Harvard intelligence, captain of industry expectations and merger and acquisition backroom deals.  The staff was attentive to detail and curious to this outsider.  The main dinning room menu was first rate, but the wine list left me thinking that this is a martini or vodka on the rocks crowd.  The cabernet by the glass was Raymond Vineyard’s casual drinking label, Amberhill.  Not a bad wine by the glass but not the companion I was hoping for as I selected the roasted venison with diced root vegetables for my dinner.  The wine had nice dark fruit, but lacked boldness for the semi-truck casualty from I-93 they were serving.  The meat was tender with a robust reduction.  I wonder if the grill of a Peterbuilt traveling at 75 mph tenderizes deer in a way most chefs cannot. 

No matter, I enjoyed the food, drank enough glasses of Amberhill until I liked it, and took the originally installed Otis elevator to the sixth floor for a relaxing, authentic experience of life with benefits in colonial New England.  By the way, if there are any readers that belong to the Algonquin Club of Boston, please give me some details on your structure.  It looks like a great place though the night I was there I only saw eight members the entire stay.

 

May 9, 2006

I don’t know if this is a thing of the past but as a precocious young Wino Bob, on more than one occasion, inappropriate phraseology flowed from my lips within earshot of my mother.  Inevitably, I would find myself hauled into my room and informed that the brand new bar of Ivory soap was on schedule for my lunch.  The majority of the time, washing my mouth out with soap was the threat to get the Pavlovian response of recalling that unpleasant experience that I did have to endure once.  Unlike the funny bubbles that flew out of Alfalfa’s mouth in an episode of the Little Rascals, my mouth mostly stung and tasted like, ah, soap.  Fear not young filthy-mouthed juvenile delinquents, the good folks at Eco Day Spa are featuring wine soap with the catchy slogan, “pure enough to eat!”  The best part, those Birkenstock-wearing, commune-living potty-mouthed vegans can also discipline their love children as this product is 100% non-animal fat containing (nor human fat for Fight Club fans).  The one blemish is the .25% preservative thing that keeps this red wine heavy soap from being au natural. 

I am thinking of shelling out the $36.00 and giving it to my mother for Mother’s Day so next Thanksgiving when I tell my nephew to pass me the f&^%ing yams and God D*@# turkey, they threat of Ivory will not have me gagging…

 

Wine Soak

Wine is rich with proanthocyandins, which are very potent antioxidants that diminish the sun's damaging effects and lessens other free radical, environmental damage. Grape's potent wound healing properties are blended with Black Current oil which promotes healthy, youthful, glowing skin because of it's rich content  of gamma linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is an emollient, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cell regulator. This skin nourishing bath is further enhanced with effective, potent Anti-agers: Alpha Lipoic antioxidants. As you're relaxing in your warm bath...your skin will be absorbing all of the therapeutic benefits and will leave your skin silky soft.

Red wine, grapeseed oil, alpha lipoic acid, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (a-tocopherol), blackberry extract, raspberry extract, blueberry extract, strawberry extract, grapefruit seed extract, rosemary extract, and phenonip (food grade preservative). 99.75% natural. 100% vegan.

Speaking of things that tasted crappy, I had the crazy idea of trying the up-and-coming Australian phenomenon, Sparkling Shiraz.  Yes, a full-bodied shiraz with purple bubbles.  The problem I had was that the wine that sparkled was still oaky tight and not at all ready to consume.  It was a very expensive experiment which I shant repeat.  Though most sparkling wines and champagnes are red grape heavy (pinot noir), the shiraz grape has none of the feminine characteristics to make a bubbly enjoyable.

2003 Hardy Sparkling Shiraz $$ (25.00) <  Perhaps if I were a termite, I would enjoy a bubbly oak board, but not in my glass.

May 7, 2006

A well-respected vintner, a well-respected importer and Wino Bob...   Which one does not belong and why?  In an event that could be near wine snobbery, it was corks-a-poppin' at Château Wino Bob when the talented Australian wine producer from Shinas Estates sat down for a glass of wine with Big Bob, The Wino Rockers and Wino Bob, et al.  Fighting off a nasty head cold, the proprietor of Shinas Estates trained his way from Philly to beautiful downtown Newark, NJ’s Penn Station to spend a few hours of his precious time chatting about his latest releases, The Innocent and The Guilty, and verbally berating Wino Bob S.A.W.C. for his disrespecting the length of the wine crafted as The Guilty 2003.  What would be considered high-powered wine corporate speak flowed around the room as I sat in the corner quietly, asking only minimal dumb questions, and slurping glasses of red.  At one point Wino Rocker quizzed Honor Shinas about rootstock and planting vines in Pennsylvania.  There might be an uprooting of the soy and winter wheat at the palatial Wino Rocker land holdings in western Pa, for a set-aside of 10 acres for red grapes.    WR’s stash of cash must be at the point of burning through his trouser pocket for a crack at a steady flow of Pennsylvania crude.  There might be a 73rd Pa winery in the future, as Wino Rocker Cabernet Franc kept ringing through the conversation. 

With gracious limited time, Justice George had enough of the free wine consultation to WR and uneducated non-sequitors from yours truly, and asked to be driven back to the train station in beautiful downtown Newark, NJ.  I excused myself, told the guests to stay and finish their wine, but Big Bob needed to head home, leaving Wino Rocker to simply place his glass in the sink and lock the door behind him.  Two hours later, I returned home only to find WR planted on the couch, sucking the remaining drops from the 2003 bottle and creepily fondling the 2004 open bottle.  With little convincing, I politely invited him to stay for a quick dinner at which time he declared there was no place else for him to go, so dinner it would be.  The 2004 was a robust companion for the grilled peppercorn-brushed pork tenderloin and white asparagus.  Dinner and dessert was still not enough of a hint to get the boy to leave, so I placed him in front of the tube, with a blanket and pillow and climbed to the dank, dark third floor room to find sanctuary. 

To Justice George, I thank you for coming and spending a few hours at the abode and wish you much success for the remainder of your trip in the USA.  Just a cautionary note, be alert during your visit to San Francisco over the next few days and do not confuse the bellhop's action.  When he turns down your bed, its kindness.  When you are ready to leave and he asks if he can pack your shit, that is gay.

2004 The Innocent $ (18.99)   Floral nose with honeysuckle, lush apricot with peach undertones and a creamy texture on the palate.

2004 The Guilty $ (19.99)   Buy it, keep it and enjoy it a year or two from now so the true complexity of this wine will run from behind the French oak that protects this sleeper.  Ass-smackingly jammy and black fruit abundant, this is a wine for a hearty meal of aged beef or succulent lamb or gamy wild boar.  Talk about this one for the next several years as it unfolds. 

May 5, 2006

Being in technology, on the outside, I found my mobile pc requirements increasing and my actual mobile power and flexibility decreasing.  A trip to a local computer store allowed me to find a deal on a laptop at a price that did not scare me and now gives me the capability to be “Obnoxious Computer Guy”.  Yes, for the first time in my life, I have broken the chains of the dank third floor room and ventured into public, with a mobile word processor and the 21st century technology of wi-fi.  Being “Obnoxious Computer Guy”, I am sitting in a booth at a coffee shop that sells robust imported coffee from third world countries at prices twice what the labor costs per day for the bean pickers.  Upwards of three dollars for a small coffee could have fed the family that picked the beans for a week.  Now I have joined the ranks of those I frequently make fun of for sitting in public, like they are so important that they have to do work while enjoying their morning coffee.  God, right now I am disgusted with myself, but I needed to test drive this wireless feature to make sure I didn’t get ripped off on the deal for this computer.  Just a suggestion, prior to taking your laptop into public, learn where the volume control is and don’t surf porn in public, especially with a 17 inch widescreen monitor.  Sorry, lady, it was a mistake.

Lunch yesterday was a comparison tasting of two California zinfandels.  Christ, the Essex County Wine Society is still flowing through my blood stream.  Basically, lunch was long enough to have two bottles of wine between the three of us, WJ, The Other Bob and me.  I got there late and a bottle of zin, no you homos, not white zinfandel, real zinfandel, was open so I was drinking.  With time available or an extremely thirsty group, we were hankering for a second before the last bit of sandwich was off the plates.  Major topic of discussion was Cabfest III, the Wino John special for this year as he is doing everything in his power to promote the GOTY.  I see a headache in my future.  When voting came around, I amended the bill on the floor to suggest as part of Cabfest III, we set aside a period of inclusion for Abfest I.  No, this will not be a stomach flattening, healthy exercise routine, it will be a green fairy, mind-expanding journey into the Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway creative cavern of Absinthe-ology.  The motion unanimously passed the house and has been noted to the minutes of the meeting.  I yield the remainder of my time to the Senator from California’s Big Ass Cab region; Senator….

2002 Heitz Cellars Zinfandel $ (18.00)   Not impressive with a minimal offering of much.

2003 Ridge Three Valleys $ (17.00)    Spice, mocha and black fruit dart between the glass and your palate, but the time they visit is fleeting.

May 1, 2006

Last evening’s event was the omega of the wine weekend, contrasted against the light-hearted, cursory tasting on Friday, I walked into the final dinner of the 2006 tasting season for the Essex County Wine Society.  My colored nametag immediately identified me as “the newbie”, and in my socially-challenged quirkiness, I sought out the nearest wall and proceeded to lean uncomfortably against it.  A cohesive group, the members exchanged greetings as they sipped flutes of Family Cuvee No. 1, a Blanc de Blanc from New Zealand.  The sparkling wine was a pleasant partner for the eclectic hors d’oeuvres selected by Table8 owner, Demetri Malki, and prepared by Chef Michael Clamffer.  My favorite was the stuffed dates wrapped in bacon and the wild mushroom soup accented with a truffle topping.  After downing my second glass, I got the liquid backbone to say hello to the gentlemen standing to my left.  Somehow the Wino Bob moniker gets a strange reaction, but at the Essex County Wine Society, it garners the facial reaction of a grotesque fart.  “Wino Bob?  OK, well at least you seemed to have combed your hair and showered for the occasion.  I hope you enjoy the event.  Oh is that the Hinklemans?  Please excuse me, and have fun.”

Braving the discomfort of a lone wolf, I made my way to the assigned table and met 8 long-standing society members, all of whom informed me that they did not give me permission to be identified let alone be bored with tedious, snarky, uneducated wino statements and potty humor.  So I sat and listened and learned and realized I was sitting among captains of industry, experienced collectors, and wine aficionados.  Somehow, my recent positive impression of the Castello Banfi Col di Sasso for $9.99 was not going to wedge into any crack in the conversation of 1966 Bordeaux or the exact number of California wineries belonging to the meritage society. 

As the first course wine was poured, 2003 Colin Delger Chassagne-Montrachet, a plate of roasted sea bass, English peas, cous cous, mint and lemon butter was paired for our appreciation.  As the members toasted, I swung my glass about like a blindfolded piñata contestant, anxious to clink just one glass and bond me with my tablemates.  Swing and a miss strike one, I turned to my left, swing and a miss, strike two, and then in a spasmodic twitch, I contacted three glasses and forced my way into the gang.  From that point forward, I slowly and steadily threw out a host of terms from Wino 101 class to show them I could hang. 

The 1995 La Lagune Bordeaux was paired with a celery root ravioli, green asparagus and morel balsamic sauce.  Delicate pasta with a robust cab-based Bordeaux, this is my kind of pairing!  It was the morel balsamic sauce that made it work, though the wine tannicly hid the fruit. 

The wine that made the night for me was a 1991 Ride Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon, partly because it was served with rack of lamb, melted goat cheese, fingerling potatoes, fresh herb and lamb jus.  Lamb twice this weekend and a silky smooth, richl black fruit and cassis wine that could very well have been my main course.  I actually sat at my place, waiting for others to excuse themselves and head to the restroom so I could siphon off additional wine from their glasses.

The passion fruit tart, fresh strawberries and whipped cream ended the night accompanied by a 1988 Guiraud Sauternes.  I personally thought the food outwitted the wine on this one.

Having made it to the end of the night without being physically removed, I figured not spilling wine on anyone helped.  The folks at my table were great conversationalists, though not one of them was interested in being referred to as a Wino or Winette.  Their graciousness was more part of their character for tolerance of those less fortunate.  As I was leaving, I did catch wind of a call for an immediate meeting of the board members and a clamor of, “What in the hell is a Wino Bob.”  There is a wealth of knowledge in this thirty plus year old organization that I would like to tap into and the wine they have tasted in the past would allow me to taste that which I cannot afford.

For information on the Essex County Wine Society, visit www.ecwsnj.com, though they do need a high level techno dweeb to spice things up on their site.  Wino John, I say we trade web services for wine tastings, what do you think?  (Editor's note:  Once again, I'm excluded from polite society until someone needs some technodweebery.  But hey, count me in!)

April 30, 2006

Not wanting to spin my wheels next Sunday at the train station, looking for the Hanging Judge, I hopped into my Flintstone mobile and headed down south to the tasting at Canal’s in Marlton.  Little did I know that Joe Canal’s Discount Liquors, one block from Canal’s Discount, was not the place I should have been as I wondered around the store, looking for the autograph stand and the crowd.  It was not until I paid for my wine that I was told about the other Canal’s.  Now, pressed for time, I snaked around the traffic grid to get to the correct Canal’s and there, within  steps of the front door, the booming Aussie voice of owner operator of Shinas Estates was describing the flavors in his newly released white wine, The Innocent.  I sampled a glass, told him I do not like Australian wines and short of boxing my ears in, he smiled and said, “Hey Mate, glad you could make it.”  He said he recognized my stickliness and figured there is only one cartoon character that would be buying wine since the South Park gang live in Colorado.  A brief exchange, a few more bottles and I was back in the Flintstone mobile heading north for my next wine weekend event.

With Russillo’s booked out, we ended up back at Casa di Filipo with Wino Jim and Winette Maggie.  Wino Jim had a chard poured by the time I found a parking spot and joined the table (my lack of wits after the fourth bottle failed to get the name of his chard).  As we were not yet at our main course and one bottle was down, I whipped out the Shinas Estates the Innocent.  Unfairly, we poured this one after an oaky chardonnay while our vinaigrette topped salad course was up.  The nose was floral, honeysuckle and white fruit and the taste was clean and dry with apricot, and pear flavors making it through my dressing.  I will be drinking this one without food influence and rating it later. 

For the first time in all the times we have been to Casa di Filipo, we were served a bad meal.  Shrimp Scampi..., think about it..., pan seared shrimp in tons of butter and garlic.  Unfortunately, the only flavor this shrimp showed was the dishwater from rinsing what must have been previously frozen shrimp.  That dish should have you sweating garlic two days after eating it, but not this one.  And more insulting, the staff had little interest in knowing about it or rectifying the situation.  It will be a while before we head back there.  Oh, I almost forgot, as the waitress placed the bill on the table, she told us the coffee was on her. Fortunately, Wino Jim brought a delicious cabernet sauvignon, as he laughed and said he felt compelled to bring a big ass cab.   We sat, not rushing to leave, and finished off the two reds, not that they had anyone waiting for our table, we just wanted to catch up on the events that have transpired in our crazy lives since the last time we enjoyed food and wine together.  I personally wanted to stop by each table and tell them not to order the scampi, but cooler heads prevailed, and the chief of police was dinning in the next room…

2004 Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon Blend No. 815 $ (15.99)   A solid cabernet with a silky mouth feel and a plate of blackberries, blueberries and mocha with a topping of cassis.  Nicely done for fewer than twenty dollars.

2003 Castello Banfi Col di Sasso $ (9.99)    A blend of cabernet sauvignon and sangiovese make an easy drinking wine happy to accompany gnocchi Bolognese, ravioli with sun dried tomatoes or a pepperoni pizza.  The acidity pairs well with red sauce and sports red and black cherry with a hint of spice.

April 29, 2006

Off to a rousing start for this uncharacteristically wine event filled weekend.  As an added bonus, as we were heading out to the Park Avenue Club Wine Tasting Dinner to meet Wino Paul and guest (which of course was Winette Alice), I received a call from the Hanging Judge.  The owner of Shinas Estates is in town and will be heading over for dinner next Sunday.  He will be at Canal’s in Marlton today pouring some of his newly released wine and I will be heading there before dinner. 

During the drive to the club, the cell phone rang and WP was bumper-to-bumper thick in Friday evening traffic.  Great, I spent an extreme amount of money and he is going to miss half the dinner sitting on Route 78.  What about my reputation?  What about my status?  How will his tardiness negatively impact me?  But the traffic Gods shined down on Route 78 and with 10 minutes to spare, we were all sitting in the lounge sipping a cold glass of sauvignon blanc, exercising our palates for the upcoming dinner.  WA was sporting a fresh new hairstyle and WP was sporting a fresh new set of threads (I guess I will be seeing that new sport coat and shirt over the next several years as WP likes to get the most out of his purchases).

The event was well attended and we sat in the main dinning room at a table for four.  Other than the attendees, there was only one family having dinner.  I was surprised the club was that empty.  We started off with a brief few words by the organizer of the event and the club manager, Philip Darrow, as he put us all at ease not making this a school test, but an appreciation of the wines.  As each wine was placed in front of us, he gave us a short explanation of the region and the reason he selected this wine and then had the chef come and talk about the food he prepared to accompany the offering.  Brief yet informational, we were then left to enjoy the conversation between ourselves and enjoy the fare.  Main topic of discussion was planning our vineyard trip.  Yes, my vine, my wine that was presented to me after I did the wine tasting party at Wino Paul’s home, is cellared at Taylor Brooke Vineyard in Connecticut and a road trip is appropriate for retrieving my two bottles of cabernet franc.   Having traveled with Wino Paul, I expect he will suggest we try to squeeze all six of us into a single room at the Red Roof Inn to make things economical.  On the other hand, Wino Rocker will want to stay at the king’s suite in Mohegan Sun to gamble, eat, drink and be merry.  It will take some coordination to find the Goldie Locks compromise.

The first wine of the night was a surprise to me and a wine that I never would have tried, Oriel Femme Fatale (Bordeaux $20.00).  This rosé made from merlot was much darker and more robust then the wines from Tavel and rolled out a somewhat gamayish offering with strawberry and raspberry flavors and little tannin.  This wine was paired with Prince Edward Island mussels with an herb garlic broth that was soft, fresh, and flavorful.

Second course paired Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexander Chardonnay (Chile $8.99) with poached salmon with micro greens and baby beets.  The buttery character from the chard played well alongside the fatty salmon texture.

Turning to a roasted sirloin with tomato, avocado and scallion relish, the chef selected a Boschendal Reserve Shiraz (South Africa $22.00) to match the bold flavor of the sirloin with the pepper, spice and rich black fruit of the shiraz.

My favorite was the grilled baby lamb chops with pancetta polenta and asparagus (by the way, how small is the baby lamb because in three bites I finished its chops?) placing this with a Kaiken Malbec (Argentina $10.00).  I have a penchant for lamb and the plum and blackberry in the Malbec complimented the gamey lamb.

Dessert was warm banana and pecan strudel with cinnamon ice cream.  I am not a dessert guy, but this was exceptional and with sweets, we enjoyed the Legends Vidal Ice Wine (Canada $32.00 half bottle).  The wine was ok for an ice wine, and showed some honey peach and pear flavor but not the liquid gold other Canadian ice wines offer (as Wino John’s cellar of Inniskillan will atest). 

The evening was splendid and the company, conversation, food and wine enhanced the experience leading to the question I started this page with back in 2000, does the wine enhance the experience or does the experience enhance the wine?  Now, if only I could have figured out a way to slip the cost of the event near Wino Paul’s napkin so he can see how much we spent on him for his birthday, my experience would have been enhanced ten fold. 

A perfect start to the "all wine, all the time" weekend….

April 25, 2006

I am sitting here quite excited, literally, down boy.  This weekend is a wino-rama with tastings on Friday and Sunday.  Yes, my wino black book almost has a full dance card.  The Friday event is at the Park Avenue Club, though now that I think about it, I paid for Wino Paul as a birthday gift.  Wow, I cannot believe I shelled out the $500 for him and Winette Alice to come with us.  Thank God, he does not read this site that often.  Otherwise, he would know I spent $500 for his present.  Then he would feel obligated to get me a very expensive gift for my birthday and next year I would have to spend more than $500 for his gift and it would just keep.. wait..., it's T-Rex I am talking about.  Crap, I must have been drunk when I spent $500 for his birthday gift.  Now how do I tell him this so he really appreciates it, because, let’s face it, if people do not know the value of a gift, it really doesn’t make an impression and when it comes to wine with me, its all about impressions.

That is why I will be attending a trial dinner with the Essex County Wine Society of Montclair, NJ.  I feel important just saying that.  Until last Friday, I did not know there was an Essex County Wine Society.  My biggest concern is my not fitting into “society”.  There is this trial period thing where I need to participate in a number of tastings, and then the membership votes me in or out.  I am sure I can make it through the dinners without incident, just not sure if my humor will meet “wine society” standards.  Nevertheless, the Clampetts are headin' inta So-sigh-a-tee for a glass of Colin-Deleger Chassagne Montrachet les Vergers and La Lagune (at least that is cab heavy).

Saturday night, sandwiched between these two dinners, is a much too long overdue dinner out with Wino Jim and Winette Maggie.  I just need to speed time.  Maybe a good blackout will get me to Friday more quickly….   

Wino Bob S.A.W.C.

April 22, 2006

I know I drink a lot and things under the influence always seem so brilliant, but I got to thinking about comments I heard yesterday as Al “I’m Too Smart For The Room” Franken was discussing a book with some Democrat author regarding the need for the progressive movement to increase union membership if they want to win elections.  During the discussion, Al “I’m Brilliant And You’re Not” Franken waved the banner of increasing minimum wages.  Then they both, in the typical manner that all Al, “My Skits On SNL Are Too Long And Don’t Have A Point” Franken guests do, they bashed the administration for creating only bad jobs and too many jobs are leaving for China and India.  It made me ask a simple question, by increasing the minimum wage and increasing union jobs, how does that make us more competitive with the world workers making $6.00 a day?  I know Al “I’m Running For Senate To Right The World” Franken went to Harvard, but I am not sure what classes he attended for comedy writing because a simple economics class might have assisted him from sounding so foolish.  Railing against jobs leaving the country, and touting the decline in workers at the big three automakers should be proof enough that union jobs are difficult to maintain consumer driven purchases in a global economy.  Might I suggest that Al “Stuart Smalley Is The Funniest Character I Can Come Up With” Franken head to China and India as an economic ambassador for increasing wages of their workforce.  I never hear any AAR host say China or Mexico wages are too low.  If your Mexican worker’s burdened labor rate is $12.00 a day and our non-union worker’s is $17.00 per hour and our union worker's is $35.00 per hour, how does unionization make us more competitive?  Christ, I need another bottle of wine to do the math they teach in Harvard.

On another note, what is up with Absinthe accessory companies?  I ordered some simple things; a spoon and two glasses.  They should be easy, legal and in stock.  I had an estimated delivery date of 4/21, uh, yesterday.  Reviewing my shipment status on their sight and a note said that either my shipment is complete or in the final stages and no changes can be made.  Well, what is it, complete or in the final stages and when can I expect my shipment?  Don’t let me have to bring the wrath of the vast WinoStuff readership down on you guys with a boycott.  Just look what we did to the French wine industry, enough said.  Maybe you can get my stuff moving and make me a happy person, so I can spend a night ingesting neurotoxins that will make me very psychotic and depressed and want to cut my ear off…

The only thing that settled me down today was a dinner with the Wino Rockers and the mass consumption for red wine.  He brought a bottle of Chilean Cabernet, I think he likes Cab, and the price is in his wheelhouse.  Knowing Mrs. WR likes the Aussie shiraz, I brought along an inexpensive one, and for shits and grins I brought an unmarked bottle of the homemade wine from my father’s neighbor.  The vote was 100% that the homemade hooch out-shined the two store bought bottles.  I got to get down to the old man’s place and see if he has anymore locked away in his liquor cabinet….

2002 The Gatekeeper Shiraz $ (9.99)   Ugh, this wine might be worth buying for your next salad, but I’ll pass on purchasing another for my glass.

2004 Trileka Cabernet Sauvignon $ (6.99)   Red fruit and aggressive tannins made this one a bit to handle, but after the crappy shiraz, it was a step up.

April 20, 2006

I hope you survived the oppressive tax day and are drinking in celebration, unlike me, drinking from depression, or drinking just because I can.  I received a solicitation letter in the mail yesterday that got me thinking.  It was a plea from one of the colleges I attended during my misspent youth.  The rah-rah alum was touting the great things this college has done for him, by making him an extremely successful lawyer and now he feels it is his duty to give back, financially.  OK, I know the deal, they need money and the wealthy alumni keep pouring cash into their coffers.   That is not what bugged me, what tweaked my twig was the return address.  The letter came from Mr. Eric Cartman, Esq.  Yes, I did go to college with a 5th grade, foul-mouthed cartoon character.  The name does not matter, it is the need for this gentleman to announce to me what he does for a living that bothers me.  I never receive any other correspondence where the sender must place letters after his name so you know he is important.  For years, I have worked with Wino John, and never once has he signed anything "Wino John, Technogeek".  Doctors and PhDs sometimes identify themselves with the Dr. in front instead of Mr., but other than that, I do not know anyone else who is so compelled to tell the world what they do.  I do not have a Bill Gates business card, but I bet it does not say, Mr. Bill Gates, World’s Richest Man.  Even Donald Trump does not put King of Realty on his buildings or letterhead.  So tell me, why are lawyers so filled with self-import that they need to use that Esq. on everything?

I found this very interesting piece of information at www.randomhouse.com

In England, Esquire was once used as a title for men who were esquires (in the sense of being in the next-lowest-to-a-knight rank of gentry).  Then it was applied to all men who may be regarded as "gentlemen".  Finally, by the middle of this century, it came to be used as a courtesy title for all men.

In America, the hierarchies of English aristocracy are not too important, and the use of esquire after a lawyer's name descends from its use by barristers in England.

Two important pieces of etiquette to know about the usage of Esq. are that 1) one does not use it of oneself (that is, one should not use it on one's own business cards or stationery)--it should be used only in address to other people; and 2) that it takes precedence over all other titles, so that you shouldn't say "Mr. Robert D. Ardizzi, Esq." or even "Dr. John Smith, Esq.," but only "Robert D. Ardizzi, Esq."

There was once some debate--even in law journals--as to whether "Esquire" could properly be used as a title after the names of female lawyers. Few people now challenge the appropriateness of such usage.

Esquire is first recorded in English in the late fifteenth century.  It comes, through Middle French, from Latin scútárius 'a shield-bearer', from scútum 'a shield'.

From this point forward, I will be signing everything I get my hands on as Wino Bob S.A.W.C.  So, Mr. Eric Cartman, Esq., if and when you receive a note back from me, you will clearly know that my ego is as big as yours, though there is only one S.A.W.C and you are just one of a million esquires in my local telephone book…  (Editor's note:  SAWC?  Let me guess...  Scútárius American Wine Critic?  Syrah-Addicted Wino Chucklehead?  Skinny Ass Wine Consumer?  C'mon, give us a hint...)

2002 Ironstone Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon $ (10.99)   Wow, I like this wine and when purchased on Tuesday at Bottle King with a 20% discount, it is a well-crafted cab for under ten dollars.  The black cherry smacked my olfactory senses so hard; I had to slurp it just to make sure it was not a mirage.  Nice spice and cassis and fruit in the glass, I will be checking this out again to make sure the consistency is there, if so, I found a new one to keep for everyday enjoyment.

April 17, 2006

I guess I am behind the times, as Easter weekend slipped right past my keyboard.  Friday night, the most somber of this weekend, as Judas turned Jesus over to the Roman guards, or as his new bible claims, he was just fulfilling the wishes of a friend, I had a simple glass of wine with my fish dinner.  Nothing pretentious, just a quite drink and deep reflection on the simple fruit of the vine.  Saturday saw the annual pilgrimage to my roots, the traditional blessing of the food at the lone holdout Polish Church in the vastly changed neighborhood in the Ironbound section of Newark.  It seems the attendees and service length are both on the decline.  In the midst of reflective reverence, I had to put on a party face and head out to the City by the Bay.  No, not San Francisco, Bayonne.  It was the half-century demarcation of the World According to Wino Paul.  A crowd, no, a group, or  most likely a gaggle, no actually a small handful of friends and family gathered at the water front home of WP to commemorate all the hard work his mother did 50 years ago.  Who are these people that want to celebrate their birthday when it is their mother that did all the work, Kramer?  The small, handful of attendees deeply enjoyed the food and wine.  I took particular pleasure in the many stories of the young Wino Paul, all of them seeming to have a consistent theme, WP was king of the chess club and that he still possesses the five-dollar bill he got at his Communion party.  Though WP turned 50, his arms are the same length they were when he was 5.  God Bless you AK.

Sunday was a non-stop festival, starting with the early mass to remember what this whole Catholic thing is all about, then a dash down to Barnegat.  As the Easter bunny is too afraid to come back to my house after that big stew pot thing, he did manage to leave a small basket at the folk’s house.  Well, it really was not the bunny, it happened to be a small gift, yes a G-I-F-T, from my brother who had been traveling and was given a present he had no interest in.  A friend of his bestowed upon him a bottle of Absinthe and he was not interested in the little green fairy.  He left it at the 'rents for mwah. I now am the proud holder of a gifted bottle of Absinthe.  The crazy thing is that I am learning not all Absinthes are equal.  From the little I can research, this brand is not oils and extracts but brewed with real herbs.  The biggest question still revolves around what, if any, wormwood content exists in this particular brand.  One news article stated a number, but nowhere on the bottle, literature or web page does the company disclose the amount.  They do indicate they have the legal right in the country they distill, to use real wormwood, I just have not been able to put my finger on it yet.  Therefore, the hunt goes on, and one experiment is being planned as soon as my absinthe spoon and glass arrive from the catalog house.  To the boys of Cab-o-Rama at WJ’s house, I send out an on line invite to Cabstivous, the festivous for cab lovers.  We will partake of this bottle of green stuff and see if it makes us deep-thinking artistic types like Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Gauguin.  So here's to you, Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, inventor of the medicinal elixir and neurotoxin.

"Let me be mad ... mad with the madness of Absinthe, the wildest, most luxurious madness in the world."

Wormwood: A Drama of Paris
Marie Corelli, 1890

 

2004 E. Guigal Cote du Rhone $ (10.99)   The spice, cedar nose made me salivate but it had me thinking the wine would be bigger and more dominate.  Nice cherry and spice on the palate, but shy of what it should be.

2003 Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (29.99)    Generous offerings of cassis and blackberry meet every taste bud in your mouth with a finish of pepper and vanilla.

 

April 13, 2006

With the Holiest of Holy events coming up, I thought it befitting to call Wino John for a celebratory lunch filled with sacramental wine and flat bread.  It seems that Wino John had already begun his religious observations and was off in Manhattan with relatives doing what wealthy white Christians do on Holy Thursday; probably seeing a Broadway show and eating at some swank NY eatery.   Lucky for me, Bob, no not Big Bob, The Other Bob, was available so we headed to JR for lunch and communal wine.  While I was at JR, I poked around their discount rack and took the plunge for a bottle of liquor about which I have been reading.  This wine-based, herb-infused liquid had me curious enough to spend $30.00, and not the $45-49 I had seen at other stores.  Speaking with the hovering wine department manager, she informed me that this product does not sell well and if I wanted, she would cut me a deal on the other two bottles just to clear the shelf space.  Not knowing what to expect and not being exactly what I wanted as this comes in two versions, I passed on the offer. 

The product is Chartreuse, the Elixir of Life, a herb-laden liqueur heavy on anise and fennel with the green version boasting 110 proof and the yellow version tamped down to 80 proof.  The yellow is what JR was offering so I happily placed it in my car and went back in to lunch with Bob, no not Big Bob, The Other Bob.

The Order of Chartreuse was more than 500 years old when, in 1605, at a Chartreuse monastery in Vauvert, a small suburb of Paris, the monks there received a gift from the marshal of artillery for King Henri IV.   Francois Hannibal d' Estrees gave them an already ancient manuscript titled "An Elixir of Long Life".  In the opening years of the 17th century, only a few monks and even fewer apothecaries understood the use of herbs and plants in the treatment of illness.  The manuscript's recipe was so complex that only bits and pieces of it were understood and used at Vauvert.

1605

By 1737, the manuscript was in the motherhouse of the order - La Grande Chartreuse - in the mountains not far from Grenoble. Here an exhaustive study of the manuscript was undertaken.  The monastery's apothecary, Frère Jerome Maubec, was in charge of the study that finally succeeded in unraveling the complexities of the recipe.  Chartreuse Elixir was first made!  www.chartreuse.fr

The new Cuban sandwich at JR was quite delicious and the California Cabernet was intriguing.   Upon conclusion of our pastoral celebration, like a good alcoholic, I rushed home, opened the bottle of this safety zone yellow liquid, and deeply inhaled.  Hey, not too offensive for 80 proof.  Grabbing a low-ball glass, loading it with ice, I topped off two ounces, let it chill a bit and closed my eyes hoping for the best.  There are many 80 proof liqueurs that burn and boil as they painfully pass each twist and turn of the esophageal tract; yet this one did not.  In fact, it reminded me of a non-sugary, mellowed version of sambuca with the waft of fennel and a citrus dusting.  To stretch out the process, I splashed a little club soda into the tumbler and made myself a fizzle Chartreuse.  It seems that those cloistered monks are always blending a special elixir, be it the Trappist ales or these “medicinal” herb based elixirs.  I guess I need to spend some time in the lab, mixing up some Chartreuse cocktails with a touch of this and dash of that as not to let this entire bottle sit idle missing a mere two ounces.  Then my head starts wondering if I should have held out for the green…  

2001 Snowden Lost Vineyard Cabernet $$ (32.00)   This wine delivers blackberry, blueberry and currant right to your first taste, yet has some interesting complexity from its oak aging.  A bit out of my price range for a keeper in my cellar, but I do recommend it for those who typically spend 40 dollars on a cab and you will get change back from the cashier. 

 

April 11, 2006

It must have been the lengthy daylight and the faux spring weather that made me do it.  The usual dank third floor room was something other than dark and dank and it made me uncomfortable.  Twitching and hungry, I had the unusual desire to grab a bottle of wine and walk into town for a bite to eat.  Not wanting Italian, there are only three choices in my walking range, not counting the all night Greek diner.  We have Caldwell Seafood, which most of my favorites are fried and defeat the healthful gesture of walking, bring that down to Nori, raw fish for mega-bucks and Bangkok Kitchen.  I opted for the latter and grabbed a bottle of, dare I admit, white wine.  Fitting for my lonely walk and single table occupancy, I brought a white Bordeaux from Chateau Fage.  Yes, me and my fellow Fage sat uncomfortably out-of-place as couples and groups armed with darting chopsticks, enjoyed themselves, most likely sharing a joke about the solo stick figure and his Fage. 

It started roughly, as I extracted most of the composite cork.  Fage’s cork was one that has a sliver of real cork on the top and bottom adhered to a mass of compressed cork bits.  The bottom portion became unglued and hung in the neck of the bottle.  Nonetheless, I battled through it and poured myself a glass while I waited for my steamed Thai dumplings.  The wine was good enough to make me stop thinking the rest of the restaurant was talking about the quirky loner with his bottle of white wine.  Dinner was chicken mesamem, which is chicken, onion, and sweet potato in a light curry sauce that was outstanding.  The wine did not hold up as well as I had hoped, as this was an inexpensive, sauvignon-heavy blend.

With nothing to do but star at the other tables and try to hear, what their exciting conversations were about, I got a kick out of the table directly across from me.  Two women met for a friendly dinner, the one that arrived first drew a bottle of red and a bottle of white.  The white had a Kendall Jackson label but I could not see the red.  The waitress came and offered to open the wine.  Unlike me, who would have had both opened, the woman that brought the wine told the waitress she wasn’t sure which one to open since they weren’t sure what they were eating.  I don’t know but when someone asks for ice in their wine glass and has KJ at the ready, are you that picky in matching the wine with the, ah, noodles?  Hey, I got a novel idea, try them both and see what works.  Here’s another idea, untighten your panties and drink that red with the fried tofu, go crazy and drink the red with the Chilean sea bass, after all you will never know unless you try.

2004 Chateau Fage Graves de Vayres Blanc  $ (7.99)  This blend of sauvignon blanc and semillion is ok for a very inexpensive wine, and brings some food friendly aspects but the fruit is vacant and the finish lasts seconds longer than my ice water.

April 9, 2006

Having a senior moment, I sat down last night to tap out a pithy entry regarding my love of Maipo Valley cabernet sauvignon.  I was cruising along on the road through the valley and drinking a red that brought a sense of déjà vu.  The spice and anise and blueberry and wait a minute...  I just think I wrote this wine up not to long ago.  Thank God, WJ has the technical geekness to allow me to search my own postings.  I found out that I did, not long ago, post on this same wine.  More importantly, what I rated it last night was the same as my previous posting’s rating.  Wow, was I lucky to be consistent to my own self.  So you see boys and girls, getting drunk every night has its advantages to the palate, but the memory is another thing.

Now that my review cannot be posted, I managed to find something interesting anyway.  In an article regarding the out of control, pork-barrel spending of Congress, it turns out New Jersey has little influence.  I thought we would be right up there with the big boys, but it seems our representatives cannot get things done for our state.  Glancing through the list of odd pork that other states have been able to bring home, the $5,600,000 tagged onto a defense spending appropriation is earmarked for the Ernest Gallo Clinic & Research Center at the University of California in San Francisco.  Ultra cool, the Gallo wine megalopoly is now helping develop top-secret star wars weapons to secure our nation.  Uh..., not exactly.  No this 5.6 million dollars will be used to study basic neuroscience and the effects of alcohol and drug abuse on the brain.  Hey Mr. Congressman from California, save the taxpayers $4.2 million and bring the rest to me in an envelop and you can study the effects of alcohol on the brain all day long.  Dude, I just told you I forgot I posted about a wine just three weeks ago.  See any correlation? 

So tell me, king of pork, why an alcohol study in a defense bill?  Shouldn’t the money be used for something meaningful, like the next level of laser guided nuclear tipped warheads, or how about this, increase in combat pay for the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Do we have all the stealthy things we need to be the best military in the world?  How about a stealthy humvee or tank that gives us a unique advantage against these whackos with homemade roadside bombs.  I got another suggestion, what about a roadside bomb detection system to protect our fighting brave soldiers? 

May I offer this, drinking and drugs are detrimental to your brain capacity, just look at me, do you think I would have so many irrational postings if large quantities of alcohol consumption were good for your brain?  If that were so, I would be friggin Einstein, or at least understand what is inside a black hole, no disrespect to Winette Tia, you know I have tried researching it, but you shut down my telescope.  I wish I were cleaver enough, or politically connected to see what chucklehead added that 5.6 million dollars to the defense spending appropriations bill.  I would be the first to graft his head onto a donkey’s ass.  In this I mean no disrespect to the Gallo Clinic, it is very fitting for them to understand what years of drinking cheap jug wine does to one, but please, find another funding source.

April 7, 2006

Sorry for being a bit out of touch recently, but unfortunately, I am not as out of touch as Wino Paul as he is enjoying his big birthday celebration in Amsterdam.  Yes, Amsterdam, the land of legal drugs and sexual gratification.  He is hoping he finds something to do while Winette Alice is partaking in the local culture, woo hoo.  I am anxiously checking my email box to see every picture of every detail of WA’s fun and frolicking in the debauchery of life’s little gifts.  I, on the other hand, have been relegated to live vicariously through stories of their wild times, once they get back.

It left me little else than to drown my sorrows in a bottle of red GOTY.  This time, I grabbed a favorite of FOWS Chris, the one that sent me searching for the thinning supply of St. Francis.  Chris has always described this as his favorite and at a recent holiday party was asking my why it is getting harder to find in New Jersey.   So I pressed some of my Wino industry big shots, like the FOWS, Brian Badlowski, to hunt me some of this thinning heard.  Other than the Franciscan order and St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, I have little experience with these Sonoma County wines.  Pouring out a glass of this '02, I was rather pleased with what I tasted.  However, the wood on this one has me looking forward to putting some distance between the bottle I opened last night and the other ten that are in the rack.  I will be visiting this one again at the end of the year and see what my impressions are then. 

2002  St. Francis Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County $$ (21.99)   A bit too early to really enjoy the fruit and flavors of this wine.  The wood is far out front and it takes awhile for the blackberry, blueberry and cassis to catch up. 


 

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