Bob’s Winings
Tasting Notes from a ^ Beer Drinker

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This page contains Winings from the 2nd Quarter of the year 2008.

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June 28, 2008

Yeah, I found it astounding too.  I am still a bit unnerved.  Sorry, no, I wasn’t referring to the stepping down of Bill Gates from Microsoft, that machine will continue to roll on and Mr. Gates will do billions of good deeds with his foundation.  No, the shocking, unsettling news for me yesterday was a restaurant called Porcini.  Wino Rocker, I’m warning you, next time I see you I’m giving you a Three Stooges eye poke.  For all the dinners we shared, you never told us about this gem of a place just beyond the fence of your palatial NJ compound.  It took a thunderstorm threat for us to dine at this strip mall storefront.  It turned out that we were going to spend last night cruising and dining at Greenwood Lake with the Wino Odd Jobs.  The threat of severe T-storms made boating too risky so instead, Wino OJ suggested we meet at a place I never knew existed.  It turns out I could have picked a rock from the parking lot and tossed it into the hot tub of my good friend, and secret-keeper, Wino Rocker.

The place is small and they do not take reservations but we went early enough to get a table and found a large menu of incredible dishes with portion sizes that out weighed their price.  The appetizers alone could have served as a meal.  There were so many selections I wanted to try that the waiter had to return three times before I made a selection.  I finally settled on the stuffed sirloin.  Yes a cut of sirloin infused with prosuitto, cheese, mushrooms and flavorful spices.  Mrs. WB had this Chicken Giacomo with hot peppers and mushrooms.  Wino OJ had some animal shank that was braised to perfection complete with a marrow fork to capture the succulent center of the bone.  I believe Mrs. WOJ had the veal Osso Bucco. 

Not wanting to make it harder for me to get back into this place, I do recommend you try the dining experience at this great little BYOB in Totowa, NJ called Porcini on Minnisink Road.  And if you see the Wino Rockers there without me, feel free to give him a Stooges eye poke from me for hiding this place from us.

Wino OJ brought a beautiful bottle of 1997 Barolo that was a great compliment to my steak.  I went for something different and brought along a Pinotage.  For the three red wine drinkers, all liking the bigger reds, this pinot was to our liking.  The winery is Hamilton Russell in the Walker Bay region of the Western Cape.  The wine is their second label Southern Right named for the whales that visit Walker Bay.  A portion of the wine price is donated to the foundation to help these rare whales.  Sorry, Rosie O’Donnell, this is the only charitable whale fund I support.  Great night all around.

2005 Southern Right Pinotage $ (15.99) A solid, full-bodied pinotage with flavors of plum and dark cherry highlighted with smoke and leather finishing with a bit of spice.  A wine I will be looking for more of because of the price to value on this one.

June 27, 2008

I was browsing through the wine shelves and this name caught my eye. Volker Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon.  OK, the obvious, Napa Cabernet, I’m in.  Second, there was much written several years ago about this wines coming from this property.  But it was the voice in my head that pronounced Volker as Fokker and I laughed at a joke I had heard many years ago.

It seems the Principal of a high school brought a WW II Germany pilot into an assembly to speak about the tragedy of war.  Some young GIs saved this particular airman after being shot down and his story tells of the manner in which he was taken care of in the prisoner of war camp.  Helmut began his tale saying that he was on a mission and from over the horizon came a squadron of Fokkers.  Because of his accent the high schoolers laughed aloud, disrupting the speech and causing the Principal to take the mike and settle them down.  The Principal explained that the Fokker was a military aircraft.  At which point the German airman quickly corrected the principal. “No sir, these Fauckers were a squadron of British Spitfires and they shot me down.

Long way in a twisted mind to decide to purchase a wine, but the result in the glass was well worth it.

2004 Volker Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (33.99)    This blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc delivered a soft, rich dark fruit, anise and toffee flavor that delighted from the first sip.  A bit pricey for an everyday wine, but definitely a dinner out with friends wine.  Well done you Volkers, you Fauckers, you Fokkers….

June 26, 2008

It seems that the parents of Wino Nation had a very busy October.  This week three of the WinoStuff regulars celebrated birthdays.  As a WinoStuff official birthday greeter, I had to attend the parties.  Tuesday night Wino Odd Job kicked off the triumvirate with a Tree Tavern special.  The doors opened at 7pm and the celebrating commenced.  So I cover the bases with the hardiest of birthday wishes to soon-to-be wino babe, Lindsey, Big Bob and Wino Odd Job.  I never paid much mind to birthdays.  After all, I did very little but tell my mom’s womb it was time for me to be moving on.  She did the rest.  It seems that people value the “0” and the “5” at the end of the year.  Though decades, and I mean years grouped in tens, apart, soon-to-be wino babe Lindsey and Big Bob had significant birthday celebrations ending with the “0”.  I want to stress that it is Big Bob who is decades older, but still ends in a zero.  I brought up a 1990 La Grande Dame to celebrate the threesome, but upon opening found it fizz-less.  Embarrassed that such a nice vintage has lost its gas, I sheepishly deferred to the magnum of DDO Laurène Big Bob supplied.  I need better storage.

Tapping out early, with the drive, the three partied till dawn only to converge last night at Big Bob’s B-B-Q Bash.  The town was abuzz with word of the Big Guy’s half-life and he spared no expense in refreshments.  Well, it was Nathan’s hot dogs that his chef grilled (yes I did say that Big Bob had a chef par excellence manning the cooking duties).  Rephrasing, I will say he spared no expense opening up his cave and letting the wine flow.  I did partake in said Nathan’s grilled hot dog and washed it down with a superb 2005 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin.  My associates at the ECWS would be green with envy knowing we were enjoying such elegance with grilled pig lips. 

Driving home, I wondered if a certain birthday makes you reflect upon the way you lived your life and evoke a change that garnishes an imprint on the lives around you.  I wonder if it becomes atonement, a cleansing, a foot print in the sand.  Then I flashed through the faces of those I know best.  I thought of my wine racks and most importantly if a birthday ending in “0” will someday change me for the good.  Then I realized I would be sharing with Wino John, Big Bob, Wino Rocker, Wino Odd Job and the Other Bob and that is when I realized I will never celebrate a sentimental birthday and they can all kiss my ass if they think I am opening up my 1997 Lafite with any of them.  Several decades hence, I will be alone, in the third floor dank room with a bucket of ice, a glass, virtual reality porn (I’m hoping its invented by then) and my Lafite.  Happy F'n Birthday to you all.

June 19, 2008

Never in the eight and a half years that I have been writing critically-acclaimed wine information have I ever received such a vitriolic, caustic, acerbic, hurtful email.  Today, I received the email below:

Dear Sir,
If you don't put out of you web site your stupid insultaing and scientifically wrong text concerning our past research on chardionnay , I will pursue you in  tribunal for this outrageous article of December 13, 2002. I' m waiting also apologies from you!
With no Regards for you,

Pierre-Louis TEISSEDRE

2002 is so long ago I had to look back and see what this insulting, nasty, threatening email was all about.  Never before have I been threatened with a French Tribunal.  I guess it means it takes three guys to surrender.  So I looked up my old article and found the article I commented on.  Below is the technical information I commented on.

Winemakers have developed a white wine with four times the levels polyphenols contained in most white wines. The wine, created by researchers at the University of Montpellier in France, is called Paradoxe Blanc after the French paradox.
The researchers, led by Pierre-Louis Teissedre, chose chardonnay grapes which were rich in polyphenols. They also changed the wine-making process so it was more like that for red wine, including maceration on the skins and a warmer fermentation temperature. The end result was a Chardonnay which had polyphenol levels four times higher than normal.
The wine was designed for people with Type 1 - or juvenile - diabetes, whose bodies are less effective at mopping up free radicals than normal. Tests carried out on diabetic rats showed the wine restored antioxidant levels in the blood back to normal, even if all the alcohol was removed.
But tests have not yet proved it reduces fat deposits in arteries, thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The research has been published in the magazine New Scientist and the online version of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Dr. Teissedre said a glass or two of the wine a day could benefit people with diabetes. But Eleanor Kennedy of the charity Diabetes UK said: "The best way to get antioxidants is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. "People with diabetes should only drink alcohol in moderation." Belinda Linden, head of medical information at the BHF, said: "One to two units of alcohol are thought to provide some protection against coronary heart disease, but large or excessive amounts can be harmful. Red wine has been singled out as beneficial because it contains antioxidants, which can help to lower blood cholesterol levels. However, though it is claimed that red wine contains more antioxidants than other alcoholic drinks, studies are ongoing. There is no definitive proof that red wine is more beneficial than moderate amounts of other types of alcohol, so this new wine may not be very different."
SOURCE: Landrault N et al. Effect of a Polyphenols-Enriched Chardonnay White Wine in Diabetic Rats. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2002.

As you can see, this comes from the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.  I referred the Dr. (if he really is a PhD) to his own work.  Then he wrote me this in response.

The point is that you said that we obtained that wine as GMO , what is totally wrong!!!!!!
This is not reported in the press source that you sent me.
So, I will appreciate that you corrected your paper!
It's a natural wine made with a winemaking of a red white ! That's it.
So do a rectification on your web site that's it! and it will be fine.
You can also put  my name correctly without speeling it  as " Peer Le......"
because this is not nice and unpleasant!

I don’t have a clue what he is referring to about GMO, because I simply commented to stop screwing around with mother nature.  Thou think the Dr. protest too much.  For the record, I will show the French how gentlemen behave and post that we at WinoStuff are bigger then the nasty, threatening French.  To Pierre-Louis Teissedre, I say, you are banned from ever reading our web site and if we trace your IP address as having come back to WinoStuff, we will call Interpol’s internet harassment division.  We don’t like your nasty French ways of dealing with us.  I am sure there is a lonely goat awaiting you.  And next time I visit the good French people I know, I will be sure to visit you so we can discuss your rude email in person.  There, I hope I cleared up any misunderstanding.  And stay off my web site! 

June 14, 2008

We had a small gathering on the porch last night.  It has taken me several hours this morning to stop my hands from shaking long enough to sip down some coffee.  As always, the generosity of friends had several bottles of wine offered upon entry.  But one person outdid the rest.  To be fair and not hurt anyone’s feelings, I appreciate each of the bottles you guys brought last night but Big Bob turned the dial to eleven.  The Big Guy not only graced us with a selection of wines, he brought along the winemaker.  Yes, it was a shocking surprise, not for me but rather for the poor winemaker who had no idea what he was getting into.  Captive in Big Bob’s car, he had no choice.  I could picture the inside of Big Bob’s car having clutch marks on the door handle as Bob tried to open the door and he tried to remain locked inside.  The key fob is the curse of those not wanting to exit. 

We were delighted and honored when Franck-Lin Dalle came walking up to the porch and Big Bob trailed a tote filled with Chateau de Campuget wines.  I first met Franck-Lin at the inaugural meet up dinner.  You might recall, I posted the Franck-Lin/Opie Cunningham "separated at birth" pictures.  Campuget is considered The Jewel of the Costieres de NimesThe weather was warm but comfortable enough for us to stay on the porch.  At the risk of being the WinoStuff bitch of the week, I openly admit I drank Chateau de Campuget Rose Traditional.  How could I not enjoy a wine made from Grenache and Syrah that is lighter and crisper than the heavier reds.  This was a great wine for a summer’s evening.  Once I can locate a retailer in my county, and I have tried 9 so far, I will be keeping this wine on hand for hot summer evenings on the wicker rocking chair.  I heard several people expressing their delight with the Viognier de Campuget -Viognier Blanc. 

In my drunken obnoxiousness, I showed Franck-Lin my cellar.  I guess I should have popped on Campuget’s web page before my wine bravado took hold.  Franck-Lin’s family Chateau has been producing wine since 1640 and from the picture below, I’m guessing his cellar holds several bottles more than my rack.

I figure there is one bathroom in this place about the size of my wine room.  Politely, he said it was “Nice”.  But I could see him searching, not for the word needing to be translated from French to English in his head, but for the exit.  What was I thinking? 

This majestic Chateau is located in Nimes, see map below.

Hot days and the cooling influence of the water makes this southern region of France one I fall back on all the time.  The Rhone River and the syrah/grenache combo and the fact that they are not far from the once Papal city of Avignon makes this a perfect winery for me to someday visit, vacation, or better yet, spend an extended amount of time tasting through their caves.   I wonder if I pack in a sleeping bag and some clothes, I could find a small spot in the barrel room to call my own.

I want to thank the Big Guy and most importantly, Franck-Lin for their gracious supply of wine and taking time out of their demanding schedule.  Next time you are at your local wine shop, pick up some of the wines from Chateau de Campuget.  And as a reminder to you all, I submit separated at birth.

June 12, 2008

At the risk of being a “labeler”, I provide this purely for the informational purpose in which it is intended.  There will be a large Pinot Fest in San Francisco.  There, I said it and it's a good thing the keyboard doesn’t giggle.  So hold your calendar wide open for June 26-29th, officially called Pinot Day.  This will be the 4th such day for this grand festival.  For tickets and information, you can go to their web site

Sunday's Grand Tasting will showcase 170 producers of pinot noir. This is California's largest single gathering of pinot producers, as well as its most varied. Consumers will be able to sample up to 400 pinots from every important region in California, Oregon, New Zealand, and Burgundy. As Freeman, August West and Sanford winemaker Ed Kurtzman says, "For anyone who already loves Pinot, this is an excellent opportunity to try many new wines as well as some well-established favorites. For those who don't have a lot of Pinot experience, my bet is that they'll be in love with this grape by the end of the weekend." Meet Ed, Rod Berglund, Gary Pisoni, Adam Lee, Jeff Fink and so many others, enjoy the countless pinots and sample a variety of artisan cheeses & other specialty foods. We will feature a pinot production demonstration in which attendees can learn about the making of pinot from the vine to bottling and every step in between. We will also offer a number of pinots for auction, donating various charities.

Think about it, 400 Pinots for your tasting.  I hardly think Big Bob can handle that many Pinots.  One note of caution: do not google this from your work computer or with little kids in the room.  Just type in “San Fran Pinot Fest” and let the fun begin….

June 5, 2008

After all the good additional health news about wine, I figured I needed a night of medication.  It seems the mornings may not agree with the findings.  They say red wine will allow you to live longer, the proverbial Ponce de Leon fountain of youth.  Did you know old Ponce once landed on the site where Cockburn Town is, on Grand Turk in the Turks & Caicos Islands?  And who doesn’t need a good Cockburn Town?  The late night drinking and restless sleep does not show an image in my mirror of my living long.  Second, it is found to ward off rhuematory arthritis.   That too is hard to prove this morning.  Let me ask, do mice not get hangovers?  Maybe we should be studying the blood samples of these mice they are making drink to determine that they don’t get arthritis and live longer.  They never say that the mice drink too much and vomit either.  There has got to be something in their system that allows them to be party animals for all these researchers.  If mornings suck for me in order to live longer, then so be it.  Maybe cheese for breakfast is the remedy.  Maybe I need to volunteer for lab testing.  Maybe I can get a grant to offset the cost of my wine purchases for “research”.  Maybe I should stop drinking…..nah, what would I do with my nights and why do I want to wake up chipper?

2005 Fleur du Cap $ (10.99)   Not bad for a fun wine for a weeknight.  The wine gives off smoke, bacon and mulberry flavors with a twist of tannins on the finish.

June 4, 2008

I must officially state that last night I saw, with my own eyes, a sight in our political history that was only imagined when I was a young 2nd grader.  Our country will never be the same from this day forward.  Thinking about it all night, I became frightened at times, transcended at times and most importantly, I am openly admitting I am spooked.  Wait, wait, I just want to be clear, this has nothing to do with Senator Obama being the first African American heading towards the Presidency.  Though frightening, I was not referring to Mrs. Clinton’s death grip on the nomination bid.  No, the scary event last night was the Lazarus like exit from the death cave by Senator Lautenberg.  Sorry, I though he was dead, but it seems like the NJ Democrats feel his crypt-keeper style, his drowsy, lethargic manner and his ability to name a post office in six years is just what this state needs to move forward.  Standing at the cave yelling, “Come outk, Lautenberg, its time to run again” is baffling.  What can this dolt do with this twilight of his days on earth?  Will the 90 year old even be able to understand what the state’s needs will be over the next 6 years?  People, take your heads out of your asses!  If you must vote Democrat by job description, union coercion, or lack of individual thought, find someone who can eat solid food and isn’t in a Depends. 

We reap what we sew, but this is ridiculous.

June 1, 2008

In what seemed to be a millennium, we finally had dinner with the Wino Rockers.  I guess the Rockers have a busy social calendar or have just been avoiding me.  Even when I would stop by the Wino Rocker’s business empire, he would be conveniently “out”.  Feeling guilty or in a weak moment, or due to the politeness of Mrs. Wino Rocker, we headed out to Casa Filipo for a bite to eat.  With the second home town evacuation, or as we who don’t have a second home call it, Shore Season, in full swing; our table service was prompt and attentive.  The fact that we were the only table in the room at 7pm, what else did the staff have to do? 

The tilapia was delicious.  It should be a regular on the menu.  As always, it really wasn’t about the food, it was about the wine and company.  We started with a bottle The Rockers brought to my house one night, which I managed to not drink until we were able to get together.   The Shiraz from the McLaren Valley is produced by Step Road Winery.  I found this enjoyable with black cherry, chocolate and smoke flavors that finish with vanilla overtones.  The wine for the $12.99 price is nicely put together and went well with my grilled shrimp toscana. 

I brought the fourth and final Portuguese wine I purchased from Bottle King.  I was looking forward to this one, a reserve from Vinhos Alorna.  The Quinta da Alorna Reserva Tinto hails from the Ribatejo region.  I was optimistic for the Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon blend.  Come on, everything goes better with cabernet.  I only have to say super Tuscan to remind you that native varietals and cabernet make for good wine.  This one didn’t blow me……away.  It was promising, but not inspiring.  Less complex then I had hoped.  Undaunted, I will continue the search for this combination to bring what I imagine this can produce. 

It was great getting together with the Rockers.  We must do it again soon.

May 31, 2008

I will be the first to admit, I have the verbal and written capacity of a seventh grader.  Fortunately I am not running for the Presidency of the United States of America.  I will also admit that President Bush lacks the eloquence and verbal capacities of President Reagan or Bill Clinton.  Yet one of the candidates seeking the highest office in the land and assuming the role of Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces misspoke so gravely on Memorial Day, one must wonder if he simply reads what is put in front of him or if he truly is clueless. 

Obama weirdly talked about honoring the nation’s “unbroken line of fallen heroes — and I see many of them in the audience today.”

I have to ask if mixing up Memorial Day and Veterans Day is a big deal?  Obviously not to the ass-hat left wing media as they neglected to report on the story.  I do understand that those families who are memorializing their fallen heroes see a problem with this.  I see a bigger concern when this statement is added to the other statement from Mr. Obama.  The statement he made that “his campaign has already been to 57 states and has one left to go.”   Dan Quayle couldn’t spell potato and to this day we see snippets of that on various shows.  How is it that few people have heard of these significantly weighty misspeaks from the “I’m the best candidate”?  Wouldn’t one who desires to lead this country be required to know the number of states in this country?  And if not, wouldn’t it be prudent for the press to ask him about it? 

It seems there is an underlying rip tide in this campaign that challenging the young Senator of his statements one tight ropes a charge of racism.  How is it the ass-hat media rails nightly that no one looked deep enough into the Bush administration, yet tiptoes around their candidate of hope?  Duplicity reigns supreme in the current political environment.  I know you might think I am in the tank for Hillary as I am the chairman of the Clinton Unified National Ticket.  I just throw this out there... count the number of times anyone who challenges a policy statement or an experience statement of Mr. Obama’s is intimated as being racially biased or insensitive.  Or rather, count the number of times Mr. Obama says something stupid, factually incorrect or inappropriate and see if any of these guys explain it away or worse, omit it from their coverage.

May 29, 2008

I just wanted to send out congratulations to our friends at  Film festivals run throughout the year and the first one they will screen at is in Montclair.  Details for the venue and schedule will be posted shortly at  The festival runs June 11-15th.  If any of our readers are in the area, please support our friends and see this inspirational documentary.

That said, now back to the wine.  I had lunch today with Wino John and the Other Bob.  I imposed my Portuguese enchantment upon them.  JR had one wine from Portugal and it was a nice offering, 2003 Callabriga Alentejo Red.  This is a blend of Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro and Alicante Bouschet from Sogrape Vinhos in Douro.  The wine has a deeply colored and full body with plum and dark ripe fruit flavors.  This one has enough tannin to last in the bottle for 3-5 more years and at $14.99 I have to say, it is a winner for my palate.  I don’t want to steal the good news from our friends so I will just say, I will be toasting to their success with a bottle of Callabriga Alentejo.

May 26, 2008

As I was completing my lap around Portugal, I sat in front of the TV and lost 2 hours of my life.  Yes, vanished never to return are two hours that I wasted on something I was interested in seeing.  I always like it when local New Jersey talent is showing their work on TV.  Last night, the Union High School graduate that made it to Mad TV, movies and the Howard Stern show, Artie Lange, had his Beer League movie on Comedy Central. I write about beer sometimes, so I decided the two hours could be written off as research time.  Wow, was I wrong.  I thing Artie is hilarious, but the storyline and dialogue was amateurish.  The only redemption is the NJ locations.  The movie would have been a funny Mad TV skit but to stretch it to a feature wasn’t enough to sustain the joke.  I had a good mind of driving to Hoboken and banging on Artie’s door to ask for my time back, or at least that portion of my cable bill.  I should have stayed with The Deadliest Catch marathon. 

I spent about 15 minutes trying to stay with the HBO movie Recount.  When I saw the over-the-top acting Laura Dern was doing to make Katherine Harris look crazy, I knew what the politics of the producers are.  Then I need to view the entire production from this “crazy Republican” slant, Beer League wasn’t that bad when put against Recount.  Artie accurately portrayed an alcoholic, drug-crazed son of a cable installed, religious mother that spent some time as a longshoreman.  I predict Recount will win an award and Beer League will not.  I just hope it’s not as a docudrama since there was a liberal amount of interpretation in this.  No not Beer League, that was very accurate. 

I was disappointed that Beer League didn’t spend more time discussing beer.  I would have enjoyed Artie running up Route 9 to the Anheiser Busch plant in Newark for a special pick up before the big game.

So back to my trip around Portugal.  I spent last night chugging a red from Ribatejo.  As a first look, the $3.99 price made me smile.  Though the wine was not very complex, it was fruity and smooth  I wouldn’t put this on a dinner menu but I would keep it on the "drink this one while watching a crappy TV movie" list. 

2005 Xairel Cartaxo Vinho Tinto Red $ (3.99)   At the price, I encourage you to try this one.  It is one dimensional but a simple modern style red wine. 

May 25, 2008

After being intrigued by wines from Duoro and Dao, I ventured to the wine region of Estremadura.  This area runs north from Lisbon and benefits from the influences of the eastern Atlantic Ocean.  The rolling hills enjoy hot summers and cool evenings.  Sounds like the right combination.  So I am learning the dirt and climate and now a host of new grapes.  I made this choice blindly but now am realizing the grapes of Portugal that carry my palate’s finger print and those that don’t.  The wine I tasted from Estremadura was a blend of castelao and aragonez.  That is a combination I will be steering clear of in the future.  I am sure the lightness of these grapes will deliver enjoyment to many with palates lighter in the loafers but for me I will be searching for more examples of what this region can deliver to my not-so-light in my loafer’s palate. I shouldn’t bee too harsh on this wine as it was marked down from $5.99 to $3.99.  Yes, I said THREE NINTY NINE.  For those liking lighter reds, and don’t want to spend a lot you might want to check this one out.  For me, I will keep searching

2005 Quinta do Gradil Berco do Infante $ (3.99)  Fresh cherries and barely ripe raspberries greet your palate with an acidic and tannic finish.

May 24, 2008

I will be spending my long Memorial Day weekend in Portugal enjoying their offerings and taking a crash course in their language.  No, I'm not actually leaving the porch.  I will be drinking my way around the country that I have neglected until now.  I will be bathing in the native fruit and surpassing Rosetta Stone or Berlitz by learning the language from the wine bottle labels.  Don’t steal that, Wino John, call the lawyers, we have a new way to teach people foreign languages.  I flew out last night with an inexpensive bottle of red.  Now that I think about it, I could say that about all the wine I consume.  Not knowing what to select, I picked through the Bottle King shelves in Livingston after I delivered our latest order of WinoStuff's Magical Red Wine Stain Removing Elixir.  Bottle King has increased their inventory of said Magical Elixir into all their stores.  Thank you good folks at BK.

I am not sure if I hit it lucky or I am barking up my own tail.  (Maybe it’s chasing my own tree).  This weekend, the selection at Bottle King was priced very favorably.  Either I hit the jackpot by getting some gems or they hit the jackpot by me clearing their shelves of dead inventory.  It doesn’t much matter as I am looking forward to the experience.  With summer approaching, I started off with the cricket “GRILOS” in their native tongue.  So now I can walk about the house asking people if the chirping of the Grilos annoys them.  See, I will be using my wine label language course.  Over the next couple of trips to the store, I will be looking for wine labels that conjugate the verb “be”.  I will accept just the verb “Be” and take my chances with Portuguese Ebonics, as in “where the grilos estar”?  So I submit to you that being an alcoholic is not really about drinking, it is more about the expansion of my multilingual experiment.  Remember, wine is healthy for your body and mind, and your grilos.

2005 Dao Sul Quinta dos Grilos $ (9.99)   This blend of Touriga National, Alfrocheiro and Tinto Roriz produces a full bodied, fruity wine with plum and spice. I enjoyed the blend but the astringent finish knocked this one down a notch. 

May 23, 2008

As we head into this Memorial Day weekend, I am drawn back to the touching service at the end of my father’s funeral.  His Naval experience was a cherished part of his life and the ceremony of our Armed Services brings chills to me.  A similar presentation to this picture is etched into my mind as my mother was presented a flag for his service during the Korean Conflict.

Express thanks and gratitude this weekend by thanking a Vet.  Be safe, support the parade in your town and proudly fly the flag of our great country.

May 18, 2008

I have been searching for something interesting to do for my spare time and last night it became clear.  I will be conducting a “How to Use a Corkscrew 101”.  I cannot claim the idea solely as my own.  No, it came to me last evening watching Wino Stan wrestle with a bottle of Grgich Hill Chardonnay.  I will get the compliment out of the way first.  He has come a long way in what he offers visitors.  I credit the influences of Wino Marty, WinoStuff and a new wine lover in his social schedule.  When he brought out the Grgich, I disappointedly thought I would have little to discuss.  Then, with the dexterity of Michael J. Fox, he violated the cork with a bastardized use of the centuries-old corkscrew.  Never before have I seen a simple tool made more difficult.  Granted, he might know his way around a Paratech Percussive Rescue Tool, but the simple corkscrew, oh boy...  So I will start a course called Five Easy Lessons to Use a Corkscrew.

Nevertheless, we headed out to his favorite local restaurant, Luigi’s on Bloomfield Ave at the Belleville, Newark border.  The dishes are bountiful and reminiscent of Mom’s Sunday dinner; comfortable and flavorful.  We shared the hot antipasto and I had the lamb chops with a side of porcini mushroom risotto.  We were entertained by Nancy’s descriptive story of Wino Stan’s Mojo.  I have to give it to him, he lays down the rap.   I only wish I had the chance to talk to Nancy before she was hooked into “Stan World”.  We had an absolutely engaging evening.  I will tread lightly at this time as we look forward to sharing dinner in the future with these two. (Actually more with her than him.)  I think the best part of the dinner was learning that Nancy is a red wine drinker so it will be great to get together again.  Besides, I only got through stories from the first two years Stan and I met.  It turned out that last night was our thirty-year high school reunion and we spent the night reminiscing ourselves at a small table in a local restaurant over delightful food and enjoyable wine.

2006 d’Arenberg Stump Jump $ (14.99) Tight but settles nicely.  I enjoy the grenache and shiraz blends and this wine shows blackberry, plum and spice.  Wait a bit on this one or let it breathe.

2004 Ojai Syrah $$ (49.99)   Since I first tasted Ojai I have been a fan and this one was big and full-bodied with blackberry jam, cassias and a finish of chocolate.  Silky smooth finish.

May 13, 2008

Portugal, I enjoy my after dinner Tawny every now and then.  But for a wine to enjoy with dinner, I stand before you naked and ashamed.  No, not ashamed of being naked, more in the figurative sense of being embarrassed.  In my quest for finding the wines I want to drink with friends, Portuguese wines have never been on my sonar (I say sonar since most would use 'radar' in this statement.) The wine is titled Fado, which rhymes with WADO the Spanish radio station located behind Giant Stadium.  Maybe, subliminally I picked this wine with WADO in mind.  No, this is not a radio commercial.  No, it’s not Twado the special growth on an Opie and Anthony whack-packer.  It does remind me of Blottoed of which I am right now after finishing the bottle.  I did have a friend at college we called Squatto, but I can’t get into the reasons behind that.  Perhaps a new motto: I drank a Fado while listening to Dido on WADO trying not to stare at Twado while I was Blottoed.  OK, the 14% alcohol might be the cause for this senseless rambling.  So let me just tell you, I need to drink more of these.

2006 Terras de Alter Fado Red $(7.99)   If this word is synonymous with wine and song then let me say I like the melody of this one.  This equal blend of trincaderia, syrah, touriga nacional, and petit verdot sang me a tune I will enjoy for nights to come.  Full bodied and lush with blackberry and plum flavors.  Nicely done.

May 9, 2008

Just a simple message

Happy Mother’s Day

To mine and all mothers out there…

2002 Chateau Pradeaux Bandol $$ (14.99 half bottle)   Wow, this is what I have been looking for.  I found a bit of excitement in this bottle with black fruit, plum and spice.  Even in the half bottle I am liking this one.

May 8, 2008

I cannot be sure if we can officially call him the Wino of the Week, but the mug shot of Representative Vito Fossella, arrested on drunk-driving charges, show signs that he could be. 

I am seeing the purple stains in the cracks of his lips, reminiscent of the purple stains on the cracks of my lips.  I’m seeing some blood shot eyes, too.  The representative from Staten Island blew a 1.5, lucky 1.5.  We were treated to another press conference with a wife standing along side in a supportive nature as he disclosed fathering a child by a Washington woman while his family kept the home fires burning in Staten Island.  I guess the Committee he serves on, Energy and Commerce, will be one vote short for awhile as the V-man straightens out some personal issues.  Look on the bright side, at least he didn’t come out of a closet or admit membership in the frequent flyer program at Hooker Haven, right?

May 5, 2008

I understand that Groucho said he’d never join a club that would have him as a member.  I marvel at the ECWS having me as a member but I am glad I joined.  Last night was the year-end dinner at the swank Copland Restaurant in Morristown.  I was a lone wolf at the last of nine tables, but was treated just like the rest.  Sitting along side Wall Streeters, biotech department heads and wine retailers, I searched for a storyline I could make up when someone at the table asked what is it I exactly do.  Fortunately for me, no one was that interested in asking me for my personal resume.  After nervously mingling about, seeking a familiar face and trying not to be asked to leave, I sipped on several flutes of Bollinger Special Cuvee and chased after the scant plates of finger foods being waitressed about.  Finally, I made it to the table and found my seat among long timers.  It was the society’s 35th anniversary and most of the people I sat with were at least 22-27 year veterans. 

Save PETA members, we regally sipped 1989 d’Yquem sauternes while dining on foie gras mousse with apple sauternes gelee.  The fatted organ whipped to a light and airy mousse embraced the sauternes in ways I have not had the pleasure to experience.  If seconds were available, I would have refilled and called it a night.  Fortunately, that was just the beginning of the decadence.  I internally wept that gas was almost four dollars a gallon and there are starving children in China as I made room for my rack of lamb, tomato confit and spring vegetable medley.  To quell my internal angst, I washed away the lump in my throat with a 1996 A. Rosseau Clos de la Roche.  The round went to the lamb as I found the Burgundy a bit lighter than the meat’s gaminess.

Joe, the member sitting next to me whose cologne smelled like ascending stock options and raised market value, entertained me by recanting tales of the ECWS trip to France.  I politely spun the recent disastrous trip to Paris where our rooms were not air-conditioned and on different floors, leaving out that I only had house wine at the cafes.  Just as I was stuck on whether to claim vineyard visits or not, the pourers came to the tables with small pours of  four 1990 Bordeaux wines to accompany the short ribs with puree of parsnips.  The timing was well suited to the pit in my stomach as I wondered what the price of coffee would be at the deli I stop in most mornings.  For me, two of the four wines were showing what they had, one promised and one had sacrificed itself of infant mortality.  The two that danced along with the melt-away ribs were the Chateau Margaux and the Cheval Blanc.  I now appreciate why Miles did what he did at the Quickly Burger.  Even out of a foam cup while eating a grind-em out beef patty, the Cheval is a treat.  The Chateau Lafite Rothschild was just coming into its own but would have better sat for a while longer.  Finally, the Chateau Latour gave it’s young life for the group, reminding me of the infanticide in mainland China. 

The only way I could clear my mind and make the drive back from this life of privilege to my dank third floor room was to wash down a valrhona chocolate tart with a 1994 Dow’s Vintage Port.  It truly did not make me forget that I need to mow the grass and scrape and repaint my gutters, but for several hours last night, I was in another zone, across the tracks, among the upper echelon.  Thank you Jesus….

May 3, 2008

After a long week of wheel-spinning at work, I wanted some comfort items to relax with for the night.  With the cool damp spring air, a pair of well-worn Wranglers, a Giants sweatshirt, a warmed bowl of leftover Pasta a la Wino Bob, and a bottle of Cote du Rhone.  The only thing better would be if I had some sort of virtual reality porn on my laptop.   When it comes to cooking, I guess I could describe myself as the king of peasant food.  By the end of the week, the pickings are slim so I combine things that might only appear in an episode of Bizarre Foods.  Though when I am watching the History channel, I would be feasting compared to what my ancestors lived through during WWII in Poland. 

The warm food was internally comforting.  The “We Are the Champions” Giants sweatshirt blanketed the dampness, yet this Cote Du Rhone threw a wet towel on the warmfest.  Hey, this is my go-to, everyday, WinoBob-friendly blend.  Why are you doing this to me?  I spent the same for this one as I did for the SA Kononkop with much different results.  Bring back the South African.  Though I don’t know if I can blame the disappointment entirely on the wine.  It might have been the segment of the MSNBC Razzle Boy Obama Hour I flipped over to.

Merlot-drinking, Obama-shilling MSNBC host, Keith Olbermann

The particular rant was meant as a two front attack when he asked his meat puppet parroting “guest experts”, why would Senator Clinton go on Bill O’Reilly’s show?  So, as the head of the Clinton Unified National Ticket PAC, let me say this to the candy that thinks he’s a gum.

First, Senator Clinton’s team told me that you are so in-the-tank for Obama, they would never again appear on your show.  When broken down, Keith attacks Mrs. Clinton everyday while spinning or not discussing negative issues about Senator Obama.

Secondly, and most importantly, they told me that O’Reilly’s show, which goes head-to-head with sports caster, pundant, news person, Jon Stewart wannabe Olbermann, gets three times the viewing audience.  In addition, Olbermann’s viewers are already in the tank for a Democrat, she adds nothing to her much-needed base by going on any of the NBC owned stations, least of all their cable shows. 

Thirdly, Keith dedicates so much of his show to O’Reilly; she thought she was on Olbermann’s show. 

Lastly, they told me they actually find Bill more personable. 

2003 Chapelle St. Amoux Vacqueyras $ (14.99)  Thanks, I’ll pass.

May 2, 2008

Boy am I wiped out.  I had the neighborhood in last night rallying around the May Pole.  It is amazing what a bit of crepe paper and skittles can do.  I happened upon a bottle of South Africa’s favorite son- Pinotage.   Well, wouldn’t you serve pinotage for your May Day celebration? Exactly!! This wine was actually a pinotage dominant blend that might fit the Bordeaux or Meritage description except for the fact that pinotage isn’t in either, but the rest are.  I think that sentence left me short of breath.  All I remember is that I started with a sip and the next thing I was looking at the punt.  The bottle’s not the guests’.  My local wine stores do not have a large selection of pinotage.  It is one of those niche things and I have had some uninspired ones.  The KWV is cheap and tastes it.  Though I cannot stop from becoming tongue tied when I order this one, the Kanonkop is more in my wheelhouse.  It might be that it’s a blend or that the cinsault is in the forefront of the pinotage cross.  I need to fill up my SA row in my wine rack so give me suggestions of your favorite pinotage so I can request them from my local wine store.

2004 Kanonkop Kadette $(14.99)   A unique blend of 51% pinotage, 22% cabernet sauvignon, 18% merlot and 9% cabernet franc produces a full bodied, rich blackberry, bramble fruit and plum.  Nicely done.

April 28, 2008

While the crappy weather rolled through NJ yesterday, I took advantage of the couch.  No, not in my 'high school backseat of the car advantage', that leads to chaffing.  No, I popped open a half bottle.  Yes, I said half bottle of 2005 Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.  I purchased a few lately for health reasons.  Now polishing off a bottle in front of the TV isn’t so bad.  I must admit, I really don’t like the half bottle.  My first inclination was to pull the cork and start swilling from it like a beer.  I don’t think the wine has the same appeal, it may just be psychological for me but that small amount of wine doesn’t show the same.  Besides, I woke up feeling too good this morning.  And what the hell does that small bottle do for my environmental stand?  One of the best days in my neighborhood is commingle day.  That is when I commingle with my neighbors so they can assist me in dragging the 6-8 full barrels of empty glass wine bottles.  If I start drinking these wimpy half bottle things, it will look as though I abandoned my recycling agenda.  What if I only put two full barrels out next week?  The recycling police will pick through my regular garbage cans thinking I am just sending my empties to the landfill.  (Editor's note: Bob fills 6-8 full barrels with empty wine bottles in a single weekend...  if he doesn't drink one night...)

I think I actually drank wine from a bottle I recycled.  I don’t know how long the process is but I think I threw away a bottle and it was rebirthed and refilled and re racked into my cellar.  I can say I am a closed loop ecosystem at this point.  Besides, the taxes in Caldwell are punishingly high.  I have to get something back and for me it is having the recycling truck idle in front of my home for ten minutes while they load up my empty bottles.  I get them in the gas cost of a full load just to my house and an extra trip back to our town for the rest of their pick-up.  So for me, I say half bottles, shalf-bottles.  Give me the 750ml and I will deal with the blurry eyes and headaches…

Now for the section Wino Wally called, “Digression”.  Unlike my computer, my TV doesn’t have porn accessible.  On Sundays, it does have local items and politics.  The damp, cool weather and the half bottle had me pissed enough to watch Bill Maher’s reply of his Friday night show.  Dare I say, KUDOS?  No, not to the smug, unfunny Maher but rather to the witty, cogent Garry Shandling.  I thought his show was funny, but being a comedian in Hollywood, I figured he was a liberal.  It turned out that he was much more coherent, less dramatic and more spot-on then Phil Donahue or Arriana Huffington.  At one point Garry had a point, through humor and Maher became snarky with him.  Shandling not only called him out for his condescending attitude but also clarified the point without the joke and left Maher duly spanked.  Maher also did an unfunny bit that Shandling noted.  Well done, sir, I thoroughly enjoyed your performance.  It turned out that Huffington and Maher exchanged heated dialog.  For Donahue and Huffington being the left drum bangers, Shandling was the one beating them with his everyman simplicity and sharp wit. 

April 25, 2008

Who the hell invented weekday mornings?  Obviously not someone who drinks weeknights.  The dull thump of a headache greeted me this morning at 6:15 am from the more-bottles-than-bodies night out.  Kudos to Jerry and the crew at 202 Italian Bistro in Lincoln Park.  It turns out that 202 Italian bistro is a good mid point for me and my brother WJ and my other brother WOJ.  We met to break a bit of bread and share some wine.  I brought along the 2005 Vat 1 for a sanity check and reconfirmed that the 2005 is a great value at $7.99.  The jury agreed to reconvene in the near future to see if the 2006 holds the same excitement.  As for me, it does not so find the 2005 if you can.

The restaurant has a NJ wine license and offers bottles of Alba wines, but we came totes in hand and enjoyed ourselves.  The staff was gracious in not rushing us at all as we spent the first hour bullshitting and maccin’ on the chicks at the next table.  Fortunately, not one of their hearing aides was dialed up to hear our remarks.  Good thing, I would have hated myself if Sophie’s ball joint snapped while I was giving her the Wino Bob fruit of the vine.  Though small, we weren’t hustled out.  In fact, we sat through several tables coming in after us and leaving their dessert to see us still enjoying our wine and discovering the next great product coming soon to a Lane Bryant near you.  As the patent paperwork is not yet filed, we cannot reveal this soon-to-revolutionize-the-world, product.

The portions were generous.  I had the mussels marinara as an appetizer and the hanger steak for dinner.  I could have finished off a loaf of bread in the mussel’s sauce, fuggetaboutit…..  The wine was well suited as we had a Brunello and Barolo with food and for dessert we enjoyed WJ’s 1996 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet.  Who needs coffee and cannoli when there is a great wine to be had?  Because we were treated well, enjoyed the food, and found the location convenient, we will be revisiting 202 Italian Bistro for some dining alfresco while global warming is currently in New Jersey.

1997 Azienda Agraria Il Colle Proprieta Carli Brunello di Montalcino   A year to enjoy this wine offers dark cherry, plum and cassis flavors with a hint of vanilla and spice on the finish.  A good friend of the spicy mussels marinara I had as an appetizer.

2000 Masi Barolo di Campofiorin $ (18.99)   Blackberry jam, chocolate and plum accompanied my hanger steak in Barolo reduction and mushrooms.  Nice compliment with a long finish.  Well crafted.

1996 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $$$$ ($110.00+)   Elegant berry flavors with soft, silky tannins and a grip to make one a wine snob.  Who needs food when this wine is at the table?

April 20, 2008

Sometimes it is not all about me.  Like today, I just wanted to nurse my hangover and breeze through the Internet.  I hit my usual sites, checked out local news, porn, Drudge, porn, some wine websites, porn, and the politically oriented porn sites.  I saw this at none other than MSNBC, the home of the Razzle and the Frother.   I report, you make your own decision…

From NBC/NJ’s Matthew Berger

PHILADELPHIA -- Chelsea Clinton stopped traffic Friday night as she wandered the streets of Philadelphia on a gay bar crawl, winning rave reviews for both her politics and her appearance.

Led around the neighborhood by Gov. Ed Rendell, Chelsea was mobbed by local gays and lesbians, as she walked from one club to the next. They ran up to hug her, posed for pictures and certainly invaded her personal space.

“I grabbed her ass,” one young woman exclaimed to her friends after snapping a picture with her arm around the former first daughter.

“Chelsea, the gays love you!” one fan exclaimed, as she took the microphone at Bump, a restaurant and bar that was her first stop. “Oh, gosh, I don’t know if everybody loves me,” she responded.

Most of those at the bar seemed to, squeezing past one another in the cramped space to get a photo. Even some patrons, donning Obama stickers -- a rally for the Illinois senator had taken place a few blocks away earlier in the evening -- tried to get a snapshot as well.

In all, she visited four bars in Center City, concluding her tour at Woody’s, the city’s most famous gay bar.

I was going to leave it at that.  I see several other wine web sites that just cut and paste and call it an entry but I feel a sense of honor and duty (yes I still chuckle when I write that word, even spelled that way) to the reading audience.  I give of myself for this page. 

Remember I am heading up the Clinton Unified National Ticket, unlike the Clinton bashing-in-the-Obama-camp MSNBC, Chelsea is not the target of my comments.  No, I found it most interesting that Governor Ed Rendell, the gravelly voiced, longshoreman type, political super delegate is a regular at the Gay Pub Crawl.  Is there something about the water in the Delaware that affects the Governors of the tangentially aligned states?  The article brought an image to mind of a J. Edgar Hoover closet in the Pennsylvania Governor’s mansion.   I wonder if he still keeps in touch with Gayvenor McGreevey?

Though rumors swirl around Senator Hillary Clinton and her sexual orientation, as the head of the Clinton Unified National Ticket I simply say, “Leave Chelsea alone, leave Chelsea alone…”  And, as a preemptive statement for the next time I get pulled over in Penn now that I have written this, I would like to add, “Don’t taze me, Bro, don’t taze me!”   

This rant was brought to you by my disappointment in the 2006 Deen di Bartoli Vat 1 Petite Sirah- not as exciting as the 2005.  They also changed from synthetic cork to screw cap.  I am not saying anything against the screw cap, just reporting.  If you see the 2005, buy it, but be cautious of the 2006.

April 18, 2008

Wow, did you hear the news?  The headlines read:  The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, Endorses OBAMA.  E Street Keyboardist Dies.  Now I am not one of those conspiracy theorists.  I laugh at the grassy knoll and government/mob hit on JFK.  We all know it was the single twisting turning bullet from the lone, alcoholic, shaky handed Communist that got off three shots in seven seconds from 500 yards with an outdated Russian bolt action rifle.  I don’t believe in Big Foot or the Loch Ness monster.  However, the fact that Bruce has gotten ultra political could well be the cause of breaking up the band for good.  Officially, my youth is over.  Unofficially, it has been over for twenty years, but today marks the end of the hopes and dreams of the voice of the workingman.  No more will the sounds of the blue-collar struggles melodically haunt my soul from the band the gave me the spirit of breaking out.  Rest in peace Danny Federici, the band will never be the same. 

On another musical/political note, I found this article about Neil Young’s comments very fitting.  Neil, Lionel train aficionado and twanged vocalist whose songs carried weight against the Vietnam War, had this to say recently. 

Canadian folk rock legend Neil Young said he has lost all hope that music can change the world, as he presented a documentary about his 2006 anti-war concert tour at the Berlin film festival on Friday.

"I know that the time when music could change the world is past. I really doubt that a single song can make a difference. It is a reality," Young told reporters.

"I don't think the tour had any impact on voters."

But the silver-haired front man of the sixties super group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young nonetheless dealt US President George W. Bush a stinging, backhanded insult and said his own "naive" urge to make people think remains intact.

"What is wrong with George Bush? That would take a really long time. Let's talk about what is right with him, it is a much shorter answer.

"He is a very good physical specimen. He shows that a man his age can stay in physical condition," said Young, who is 62.

He made no distinction between the Vietnam War, during which CSNY first earned their reputation as political activists, and the US-led war in Iraq, which their tour condemned with songs like "Let's Impeach The President".

"It is all the same war and it hurts everybody. It's a wrong way to solve a problem," he said, adding that Americans were deluded if they thought they were liberating Iraq.

"We just don't have to go and spread democracy around the world."

Young said he deliberately included interviews with unimpressed critics and soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan in the documentary of his band's "Freedom of Speech" reunion tour, which earned them both praise and death threats.

"Otherwise I thought it would just feel like a bunch of old hippies. And nobody would care. I would not, I would have left," said Young, who directs his films under the pseudonym Bernard Shakey.

"I wanted to serve the people who came to see the shows, to serve the soldiers who fought in the war and to serve the people who started the war. It sounds naive but everybody has to make a decision in their hearts about how they want to live."

Another blow to my youth, when we could change the world with song and free love.  OK, I was like ten and wasn’t getting free love.  I had to pay for it back then.  What Mr. Young is reluctant to admit is that he is an old hippie and the world has raced beyond rabbit ear TV’s, VW vans, love beads and the 'everything could be fixed with love' attitudes.  The pendulum has swung and the current generation can download a song from the next American Idol instead of a theme album with a message.  We are distracted by too many inputs to sit and ponder.  Maybe the cause isn’t as unjust as the 60’s generation claim.  Look at why Senator Obama is interesting to the young; he isn’t the Vietnam War protesting generation.  He doesn’t relate to Jane Fonda or putting flowers in your hair or sitting in a circle, stoned singing Our House.  For those in politics and music who want us to relive the sixties so we can re-rule like the sixties, it’s time to pass the torch. 

2004 Los Vasco Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Chile $ (14.99)   This was fun at $7.99 but it just doesn’t have the same thrill at double the cost in the three years since I first enjoyed this wine.

April 14, 2008

As a release valve, Big Bob set up a “take a break from your taxes” diner at Villa Madrid. What better way to explore Spanish wine then with a garlic shrimp or chorizo sausage appetizer?  With a warmer summer evening the 2006 Martin Codax Albariño was a nice start to the meal.  Served chilled, this wine brings a compliment of citrus and peach flavors.  Refreshing on the palate and versatile for the shellfish or octopus fare.  But my dinner, a medium rare skit steak when stretched end to end measured what seemed like a yard.  The tender, flavorful cut of beef was a delight for the 2005 Giné Giné-D.O.Q.Priorat produced by Buil & Gine.  Bold black fruit and tannins made this a match made in heaven for my skit steak.  Actually the steak was large enough for me to wear as a skirt, if I were so inclined to wear a skirt made from meat.  It’s not like it hasn’t passed through my mind once or twice in the passed, but the dog kept scaring me…..I digress.

I have to get back to passing around a pad for everyone to write down what they brought.  We had a good selection at the dinner, with Rioja’s, a cave, cabs from Penedes, and wines from Ribera and Chile.  Yes, even without Tim and Stan, there were two non-conformists.  Oh that’s right, one of them was Big Bob.  A guest he has to meet his Torres Chilean quote for this month so he slipped one in to tease the crowd. 

Next meetup will be scheduled by Lisa, somewhere in the Morristown area.  I am looking forward to trying some of the hot spots in Morris County.

April 11, 2008

I must say I had a bit of “little-kiditis” anticipating last night’s ECWS tasting.  As a first for me, I was able to get into the rare Burgundy event.  A small number of members on a rotisserie baseball selection process were treated to a line up of wine equivalent to a semester’s tuition.  It was a small group as there were two bottles of each wine secured through a merchant in England.  The array of bottles showed differing levels.  Rumbling ensured as to how the ulage on the 1919 wines could still be so high.  Never having the money or opportunity to see what an 89-year-old wine tastes like, I buckled my chinstrap and went along for the ride.  How does one taste an 89-year-old Burgundy?  You line up to the steady hand of the pourer, inhale quickly and sip to see what might be there as fleeting as it may be.  Like a magician’s flare, the fruit may appear in a minute then in a flash, be gone.  Deferring to the knowledgeable old timers, I listened to several people describe the taste as a fading tawny port.  Is that what old Burgundy turns to, or could it have been that the wines were in fact topped up with old port?  Who knows?  I sure as hell don’t.  The room broke several times in opinion of the wine based on from which bottle they were sampled.  One wine, both bottles commanded a resounding, “salad dressing” description.

So what was the line up you ask?

  • 1919 Volnay Sichel- questions about topping off and port characteristics

  • 1937 Vosnes Romanee Les Malconsorts Jules de Canniere & Cie- again this wine carried a port nose and questionable lineage.

  • 1949 Pommard Rugiens Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin- Joseph Drouhin- the nose had a unique gun powder aroma but this was the first wine that characteristically had Pinot Noir flavors which came about three minutes into the pour and ended two minutes later. 

  • 1961 Clos du Vougeot- Innes Smith- the color and nose had life and dark cherries hide beneath the musty first taste.

  • 1962 Vosne Romanee Martial de Laboulaye- maderized and pale, rendered undrinkable

  • 1964 Chambolle Musigny Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin- there is fruit and body still in this wine that delighted the crowd

  • 1964 Chambolle Musigny les Amoureuses- best served over crisp iceberg and summer greens.

  • 1976 Beaune Premier Cru Montee Rouge Leon Violland- classy wine once it settled down from a very acidic beginning.  This developed into a flavorful wine able to last through the remainder of the evening.

  • 1989 Gevrey Chambertin les Champonnets Domaine Lucien Boillot & Fils- this was my favorite of the night with a palate-pleasing dark fruit flavor and a mushroom and barnyard nose.  I would sit down to dinner with this wine for a special occasion, or if I had any friends that really enjoyed and understood fine wine.

  • 1997 Echezeaux Grand Cru Domaine Emmanuel Rouget- the crowd favorite, though I believe many were enamored with the name.  I felt this wine was too young to enjoy and would like to taste it again in five years.

After lively discussion and spirited debate, I came away with a greater appreciation of Burgundy.  Interesting, the information packet I read through after getting home, identified that many of the pre-1976 wines were bottled in England.  It would have been a treat to compare an estate-bottled wine from the same vintage to those we tasted.  One only hopes that Admiral Lord Nelson or any other Naval dignitary was not preserved in any of these casks during the trip across the Channel.  That may account for the metallic taste on the palate. 

I was glad to participate in the event and have my eyes opened, my mind expanded and my palate treated to something I would never have been able to do.  Dare I say I enjoyed the Pinot…..

April 5, 2008

Fortunately, what goes on in NJ gets posted on the web.  I came back from the rather dry trip in Vegas to open a bottle from the basement.  This time, I decided to try a wine from the region I am now courting, Bandol.  As Cahors left me unengaged, I am looking for that specialty region I can pull out when asshole wine fans make fools of themselves at the dinner table.  My first experience gives me hope.  It now has me interested enough for more in-depth investigation.  There is not much pomp nor circumstance to the experience.  It was a simple night in front of the tube watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  How in the hell did Hunter S. Thompson control an automobile with such a cornucopia of drugs coursing through his blood stream?  If he truly consumed the plethora of drugs and alcohol, it is amazing he lived as long as he did. 

2001 Domaine Sorin Bandol AOC Red  $$ (34.99)    A blend dominated by Mourvèdre 85%, and supported by Carignan 10%, and Syrah 5%.  Offers tart red fruit on the palate and a dusting of earthiness.  An interesting introduction to the region.

April 4, 2008

After a weary several days in Las Vegas for a Geek World Trade Show, I wish I had a great deal of exciting wine news to deliver.  No, rather, I wish what I did there fell into the category of, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  But I have neither.  Of the several evenings out to business dinners, there was but one story worth telling.  At the gracious invitation of an associate, I attended dinner at The Range Steakhouse at Harrah’s.  My host insisted I order the wine for the group.  God I hate that and try to defer as much as possible.  The thought of wasting other people’s money is uncomfortable to me.  So, I asked the host what styles, what price range and tried to find something people would comment on.  It turned out that neither of my two selections was in the cellar.  Neither!  One of my selections was a Joseph Drouhin Gevrey Chambertin to quell a vociferous “I’m all about the Pinot” person at the table.  The other was the BV Tapestry.  At that point we went with a Saintsbury Pinot and the Sterling Cabernet.  The Sterling was interesting and fitting for the steak but the same Pinot-mouth then insisted on ordering two different wines.  He asked the waiter for a Meritauge (yes, I misspelled it to try to make it French-sounding as he pronounced it).  I didn’t want to call him out right then and there and do the merit + heritage makes Meritage, but I bit my tongue and sipped from my glass.  He then insisted on anything from his favorite winery, Duckhorn.  They were out of the merlot so he ordered the Paraduxx Napa Valley Red that to me is not all about the Pinot.  At that point I was half listening to him talk all about living in the San Fran area, only to perk my ears as I heard an admission that he didn’t like the Paraduxx as much as the Saintsbury. Surprise, I guess zinfandel, cab sauv, merlot and cab franc just don’t fit the “all about the pinot” profile.  Why am I so angry?

I guess I hate people that force their wine knowledge, or lack thereof, upon everyone at the table.  Next I will find out that he is a pretentious unpaid wine critic asshole with a web site.  Don’t you know there is little room left for that on the web? 

On a side note and nothing to do with wine but all to do about the web, kudos to Comedy Central.  I saw via TIVO this week’s South Park and Lewis Black shows, found back to back on Wednesday nights.  They both deal with internet fame and virtual millionaires from the number of viewers from their Youtube video.  Brilliant! 

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