This page contains
Winings from the 3rd
Quarter of the year 2008.
To contact WinoBob, click
September 28, 2008
Watching the NFL gave me what I must say is a brilliant
idea. Teams wearing the throwback uniforms prove that everything old is new
again. Fashions, automobile design, home building all stand tall on newness to
an old theme. Even our entertainment recycles classic movies with modern
production. So you have heard it here first. I will be putting together the
business plan for my next endeavor. OK, I really don’t know what a business
plan is or how to put one together, but my shoebox is filled with drunken napkin
scribblings that I call business plans. With energy costs skyrocketing (i.e.
shipping, freight, trucking) it is time for certain forward-thinking business
brains to open up a wine merchant shop in the true old world sense. I say, send
me your barrels and I will save you on shipping costs. I will bottle and supply
those great wines that will sit in my barrel cellar. That reminds me I need a
barrel cellar, I forgot to scribble that last night.
I will call it Throwback Merchants and ladle out bottles of
Bordeaux or carafes of charbono to any patron who wants to be a trendsetter.
Count on it, what’s old is new again and this will be the next trend in wine
bars and retail. Move over microbreweries where your copper kettles make
samplers for nacho and chicken wing eaters. A steakhouse that lets you drink
carafes of different wines throughout your dinner will make economic sense to
the economics of wine consuming.
Wow, I just shared genius with you guys for free…..
September 21, 2008
One place’s loss is another’s gain. Last night we planned
to have dinner with friends we haven’t seen in awhile. Simple enough, we agreed
to meet at Russillo’s in West Caldwell. For the first time in the
many times we have been there, we were turned away. They said they require
reservations. Never before in the tens of time we have been there did they ever
take reservations for less than six people. So what does one do? I remember
seeing a name change and new banners at what used to be Sophia’s on Main Street
in North Caldwell. The place has only been open for six weeks and a quick call
secured a table at 7:15 on Saturday night. As they are just trying to build a
clientele, they graciously accepted us.
The atmosphere is cheery, the hostess/owner/family member
made sure we were comfortable and we enjoyed the history behind the new place.
It’s now Gianni’s and I will say this. The food quality was very
good and the service was attentive. They want to succeed and are taking the
steps that send the right message. The pasta dishes are served with your choice
of pasta from whole wheat to tortellini to penne et al. My food was flavorful
and generously portioned for the price. I look forward to heading back there
and trying more of their selections.
Our friends brought a bottle of Sarah’s Vineyard Pinot
Noir that delivered a spice and earthy nose with red cherry and pomegranate
flavors. It was a good accompaniment for the table’s diverse food choices.
I would like to see this new place stay, as the restaurant
business is difficult. This economy adds a complexity to the fledgling eatery.
If the portions remain, the quality stays consistent and the pricing can hold,
they should make out well.
September 17, 2008
With the world going to Hell in a handbasket, I sought out
the comfort of a red wine. Then I realized, I had just used a phrase I have
little knowledge of and from my search on the internet, there is little info on
the origin of said verbiage. It seemed fitting, at least inside my head, that
the state of the state is dismal. I couldn’t take the taking heads on TV trying
to make news rather than report, so I turned on the radio as I ate dinner. A
commercial came on that turned my frown upside down. Wow, does that sound gay.
There is a company that claims the difference between me
and the millionaires in the world is simply that they wanted to be
millionaires. Conversely, that means that each day I wish to be poor,
inadequate and drunk. OK, the drunk part is my doing. For all these years of
small business development, cash flow analysis, ROI proposals and spin training,
I have been struggling to make ends meet. Had I just wanted to be a
millionaire, I could be doing this web site as a living and counting my interest
on my lunch break. So I decided to close my business and spend the rest of the
time wanting to be a millionaire in the wine business. I really do want to be a
wine millionaire. I really, really want to be a wine millionaire.
Crap, still the same. OK, back to work.
2006 Bodegas y Vinedos La Esperanza Malbec Finca el
Origen Reserva $
Very nice dark fruit on the nose with a firmness and kick that will make
you forget how bad your life is not being a millionaire.
September 15, 2008
I had to do some research this weekend and decided to
scroll through Wikipedia. I was stunned by what I saw under the word
'carnivorous'. The adjective means, “feeding on other animals”. Hell, I knew
that from grade school. The shock came when the definition was illustrated by
the picture of our own meat-eating, wine-loving, Big Bob.
Yes that is a 17-pound roast that chef extraordinaire, wine
host and highly hospitable Wino Odd Job graced us with. The small carcass was
subdivided for those of us with less developed incisors and a smaller gullet.
But the evening was mostly about the days gone by. We
spoke about the turbulent times and the political landscape and the bright
evening depicted here.
Wino Odd Job lording over the cabernet we would enjoy.
We drank our Casa Julia, our Joel Gott 815, and our Bennett
Family Cabernets with dinner, then wondered if times could ever again be called
the good old days. I am not sure if it was a dream sequence or reality at that
point of the night, but I found myself possibly daydreaming, possibly not, of
times when smoking was not a dirty word, and men cussed and drank whiskey
without concerns of a lawsuit.
We found ourselves at easier time, at a better place.
The barkeep made sure the patron’s glasses never ran dry
and billowy clouds of aromatic cigars filled the air.
Unfortunately, I was coldly slapped into reality when I
realized Wino Rocker was the patron next to me and I had inadvertently switched
my camera to black and white. This picture brought it all into focus.
Now that my brain couldn’t figure out how to switch the
camera back, I did like the feel of a post-prohibition Tree Tavern tavern.
Maybe it was the Tree Tavern Bar and Grill or possibly the Tree Tavern Gin Mill.
For some reason, all that small animal made Big Bob
mesmerized with a documentary about the life and times of Meat Loaf (you can
fill your own joke in here. C'mon, could it be much easier?). Feed up
with Wino Rocker, the barkeep bellowed last call and picked up WR’s glass so the
bouncer would send him packing. The song "Closing Time" played in the
background and the bouncer said, “you can’t stay here”.
We finished the night with a nicely crafted Sequoia Grove
Cabernet Sauvignon that brought me back to the hard cold reality that once the
cigars and wine buzz ends, it's back to all the bank failures and political
grime we live in.
September 11, 2008
This is not about politics, its
about our country.
Our hearts and
prayers are with those families whose lives instantly changed seven years ago.
September 10, 2008
I think I am figuring this drinking thing out. The
resveratrol in the red wine is keeping most of my internal organs healthy; my
heart pumping thinned blood and my dementia at bay. But I am still in need of
food for omega fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Not so fast vine breath. It
seems that geniuses at VEEVLIFE have come up with my magical elixir of life.
The lab rats produced a spirit incorporating the much ballyhooed acai berry.
Come on, we all watched that Oprah show about this magical Brazilian fruit that
boasts 10 times the antioxidant benefits of grapes and twice that of
blueberries. We did watch it didn’t we? You guys saw it, right? Right??
For the few of you who haven’t seen Oprah, the wonders of
this berry is described as:
Acaí berry has a unique tropical fruit flavor and provides
a high level of antioxidants also known as anthocyanins. It also contains Omega
Fatty Acids (healthy fats), Amino Acids, Fiber, Iron, along with many other
vitamins and minerals.
Think about it, now with a simple shot of VEEV each night,
chased down with two glasses of red wine and voila, I am the fountain of youth.
Healthful elixirs with 60% proof. Just thinking about it I am feeling sprier,
more youthful and yes fitter. Forget the salmon and oat bran; I am saying VEEV
and red wine. Maybe I can invent the next crazy, HEED- Heat Energy Exchange
Device (Boiler Maker was already taken). Start with one shot glass of VEEV, in
large Bordeaux glass; fill halfway with expensive red frog wine. Hold shot
glass over the wine glass and let ‘er go. Then you have HEED.
As I pulled the synthetic T-Top cork and placed my nose
above the neck of the bottle I was met with a very pleasant citrus aroma. To be
quite honest, it might make a great aftershave; clean an refreshing. When
poured into a glass, the pear flavors open. I didn’t have club soda and lime as
the hang tag suggested so I simple poured the VEEV over ice in a low ball glass
and went forward to a healthier life. Fruity but not sweet or syrupy, this
drink reminds me of Lillet on steroids. The finish is clean and crisp but the
fruit leaves a nice impression. Comfortable enough to be sipped on the rocks, I
can see blending this with other spirits of mixers. A natural is s splash of
cranberry and fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice. A Sunday special could be a
champagne flute topped with VEEV. Distribution is the only thing keeping VEEV
from its tipping point moment with the twenty something crowd. This will be
huge in clubs and fashionable happy hour hangouts. I should have waited till
the morning to write my impressions as the after effects remain to be seen. As
of now, I recommend you hope on
http://WWW.VEEVLIFE.COM and find out if VEEV is available in your state.
And for the tree hugger crowd, $1 from the purchase of each bottle goes to a
save the rain forest fund.
The Acai palm offering up its fruit.
The VEEVLIFE Spirit
And the result of two weeks of drinking the elixir of
life. The beaches of Brazil are increasing with testimonials of the healthful
benefits of acai. Bikini not included.
September 7, 2008
The verdict is in, I liked The Guilty at the pig roast
better than The Verdict. Last night, I had the pleasure of meeting up with the
thunder from down under, Justice George from Shinas Estates. Sharon Sevrens,
owner of Amanti Vino in Montclair, hosted a pig roast at the swank Van Vleck
Mansion. The crowd was excited to spend time with the gavel-wielding
winemaker. I so enjoy the shiraz from this out of the way vineyard in Muldura.
The good judge is on a two-week tour of the USA, meeting and greeting retailers
and consumers in whistle stops as he crisscrosses the country. One would never
have known the ordeal he went through to meet his commitment by his energy
level. Smiling, chatting, signing bottles and answering questions masked a
35-hour luggageless trek. That’s a professional. If you see an advert for
a local event featuring the wines of Shinas Estates, make the time to attend.
You won’t be disappointed.
The Van Vleck’s, I found out last night, were captains of
industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,
amounting a fortune from copper mining. The house is a jewel. I could picture
black tie dinners and cocktail parties on the grounds. It must be nice to be
Senoritas Mexican Grill of Bloomfield catered the food.
The roast pig was delicious and the perfect muse to the shiraz. For those
turned off by the suckling staring up at you as you waited for your slices, they
also had grilled chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs.
It was good spending the evening with George. One
day, I'll have to get myself down to that debtors prison and sample some of the
other wines from the Muldura area.
September 3, 2008
Thank God Big Bob stepped in when Doe Pee bailed on last
night’s meetup dinner. Head count was stagnant due to one word: wine. Simple
enough you would think. But the grace of the Big One adding the simple word
'wine' to the event description, the attendance went from 5 to 24. With the end
of summer lingering, Doe Pee wanted to have a Rose bash. Knowing that the
summer desires of crisp chilled wines are turning to the warming reds of fall.
Unfortunately, Doe Pee missed the simple word 'wine' in the heading of the event
and kept the masses away. When BB changed it to “Show Us Your Favorite Pink
(WINE)” the replies went to max and all but the original 5 perverts had a great
time. I’m not naming names but you pervs know who you are.
We dined at La Baitas in Butler and explored
the maligned and misunderstood world of Rose. The group was buoyed by the
support of the Wanaque Reserve’s wine lovers. One minor mishap was when Bill
didn’t read closely and brought a non-rose. It was up to me to chastise him in
public, confiscate his shiraz and thoroughly enjoy the bottle of Two Hand’s
Angel Share, nectar for the Gods.
Prior to becoming stumble-down drunk, I wrote down a few of
the offerings at my table.
2006 Torres Vina Brava Rosado
2006 Torres De Casta Rosado
2007 Cataldi Madonna Montepulcina d’Abruzzo
2007 Domain de la Sauveuse Rose
2006 Coppola Sophia Rose - OK, I brought
the California rose named for the famous filmmaker’s daughter. It was 100%
pinot noir and I wanted to show Big Bob that California (Carneros) could
make fine wine vessels. Yes, the bottle was the talk of the dinner. The
wine was so-so but the bottle is worth keeping.
Thanks to my tablemates, the often-too-quite Caroline, the
Wino Odd Jobs, creative meetup assistant Lisa, homemade wine magnet Gene and the
sparky Phil. Dinner was fun and the veal sorrentino was light enough for most
of the Rose. I was struck to see a Pinot Grigio Rose.
It was nice to see new faces, all are welcome, we don’t
bite. It was sad to see people who responded yes not show up, it hurts our
standing with the restaurants we are asking to set aside tables. Look at the
next event Lisa has arranged, the free wine tasting at Cool Vines sounds great.
I wish I were in town for that one.
August 31, 2008
Cruising through the internet and looking for exciting wine
topics to bestow upon my friends and foes, I was chuckling and perplexed at the
same time. To save embarrassment, I will not identify the source but I read
this and had to comment.
………..one year in new French and American oak.
Opaque purple-colored, it offers a complex perfume of pain grille, pencil lead,
spice box, black cherry, and blackberry. This leads to a full-bodied, ripe,
layered wine with intense flavors, serious complexity, and exceptional length.
It has enough structure to unfold for another 4-6 years and drink well through
2025. Score: 95."
Not to be the pedantic Tony Randall from the Password
episode of the Odd Couple, but Felix correctly identified that pencils have
graphite, not lead. Lead has not been used as a writing tool since the German
chemist, A. G Werner, invented graphite in the mid 18th century. So
I ask a simple question, was the author of this wine description alive to recall
the scent of true lead in a pencil? OK, could he, sorry it was a guy, be
thinking of a graphite aroma in his wine? What is one to believe? I get spice
box, I can live with perfume of pain grille. (Roughly translated into toasted
bread, though I would not, myself call that perfume.) But the lead pencil issue
really twists my nipples. Is it a No. 2 pencil, a mechanical 0.7 pencil, or a
one of those big, fat, first grade learning-to-write pencils? Does the pencil
have an eraser? Is it a yellow school pencil or a stainless steel Cross pencil
from the haberdasheries of the gentry?
Secondly, I thought we were on the “get the lead out”
movement? I know in my Geek job, lead is a curse. The electronics world is
running scared of lead. China is tarnished by lead paint in kid’s toys. We
need an understanding of this term or more importantly, we need to hold
responsible the authors of silly comments in describing wine….case in point.
August 30, 2008
As I sat drinking a glass of wine last night, for the sake
of this web site, I marveled at the audacity of the Dope. The Dope -Keith
Olbermann - opened his show with a statement something like this, “If you went
to bed last night thinking John McCain’s VP was Governor Pawlenty, your were
Mcswitched”…or something along those lines. The failure was what should have
been his follow up statement. If his viewers went to bed thinking that way it
was because he and Chris Matthews were so cock-sure that it was Pawlenty. Hey
told their viewers as much in their smears that John McCain couldn’t fill a ten
thousand-seat arena for the announcement. Which goes to show why MSNBC
primetime is last among the cable news channels in viewership. They aren’t
reporting real news; they are just trying to manufacture news. Also on parade
was Keith’s inability to hold true values when he called out Bill O’Reilly for
making a crack about Katrina, but sat in silent boot-licking when Michael Moore
opened his segment wishing Gustav disrupts the Republican convention. If
nothing else comes from this past week’s DNC convention, let it be clear that
Matthews and Olbermann have lost any little objectivity and the desire for a
guest that offers an alternative viewpoint to Olbermann is banned from MSNBC.
The only words a guest can say are, “You're right, Keith….” Evidence is Gene
Robinson and Howard Fineman as Keith's guests and the removal of Dana Milbanks,
Tucker Carlson, Dan Abrams and soon-to-be Joe Scarborough. They mock Fox, but
arguments ensue because they allow people with opposing opinions. MSNBC,
befuddled by Fox beating them in the ratings, simplistically think it’s a lean
that does it. Unfortunately, they neglect that reporting is not an emotional
game. To deepen their misguidedness, next week Rachael Maddow starts a show
that will be "Olbermann light". Her credentials are that Keith Olbermann likes
her since she falls in lock step with his point of view reading of events.
Never before have I agreed with Bill Maher, he even found
the Olbermann/Matthews love fest over the top. He tamped down his comments
since he still has to go to parties with those two. I heard from an insider
that he was going to say that the news was Keith punched Chris in the nose when
Keith went to give Barack a reach-around. Can you say rusty trombone????
I enjoyed the pageantry with a bottle of Rhone red from the
lesser region of Ventoux. The coverage made me throw up in my mouth several
times so I didn’t want to ruin a high-end bottle of wine. The wine comes from
Chateau Pesquie, which has a great little story.
the early 1970’s, Odette & René Bastide, bought Château Pesquié from an heir
of the famous Provençal writer, Alphonse Daudet. They were wine pioneers, as
the Appellation Côtes du Ventoux was not created until 1973. René & Odette
completely restructured the vineyards. The results of that work are now
vines that average 35 to 40 years of age (the oldest are over a century
old). For the first twenty years of their ownership, the grapes grown on the
estate were taken to two cooperative wineries.
The Château Pesquié
vineyards are located on clay-and-limestone gravel slopes. The Côtes du
Ventoux region features an extraordinary geological diversity. The vines are
mainly planted in soil from the Quaternary period reinforced by the mineral
wealth of the Cretaceous period. The soil consists of ancient gravel and
These are grenache/syrah-friendly folks that I recommend
you try for causal drinking. More importantly, this wine caused me to stretch
my dormant gray matter and do a bit of homework. I briefed the back label and
found a description I had not experienced prior to this one. The term is
“garrigues aroma”. I pointed my google searcher from 'garrigues hot babes' to 'garrigues
aromas'. I found this description:
The term “Garrigue” refers to
a distinct variety of limestone-based scrubland commonly found in the
Mediterranean area. These hills have endured the hand of man for millennia
in the form of logging, agriculture, burning and other forms of use and
abuse. The characteristic vegetation is low and bushy, with distinct
aromatic elements like juniper, laurel, wild thyme, lavender and rosemary.
I will be paying more attention to this region and this
description. I am appreciative of these flavors.
2004 Château Pesquié Côtes-du-Ventoux Les Terrasses
I say grab this and enjoy on a Thursday night or a relaxing Saturday
evening with friends. The juice is a medium bodied wine of 70% grenache and 30%
syrah with flavors of red fruits and herbs.
August 29, 2008
I promise to drink more so I can post more frequently.
Tuesday night there is a wine meetup dinner so there will be exciting wine news
to write. But for now, I have been glued to the meltdown at MSNBC in their
coverage of Obamanation. The bounce from the historic nomination of an African
American placed John McCain behind the eight ball. But today, the polls are up,
at least mine is, with the selection of Governor Palin as the running mate for
I saw Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann, puffy chested as
they marveled at the stadium attendance and visibly laughed that Tim Pawlenty
and John McCain were having trouble filling a 10,000-seat arena. Ooopsy!!!!!
Yes, in an historic turn of events, the party of the rich
old white men put forth a 44-year-old GILF. Mother of five, gun toting and what
I can only imagine as a red wine loving hunter and fisher-women. As we get to
know Mrs. Palin, I am sure more polls will rise. I think Keith Olbermann’s head
just exploded and Chris Matthews’s drooling lower jaw is scraping the floor in
what they thought was the scooping of the announcement last night.
Think about it, if this ticket gets in, Mrs. Palin could
run in 4 years as an incumbent and maybe break through that cracked glass
ceiling. I say 4 years and Mr. McCain may choose to step aside.
Next entry will be wine all the time…
August 25, 2008
Let me write the headlines for the week, “Obama Truly is
God and Savior for Our Nation” It started over the weekend when Obama selected
the change agent. Yes, 35-year Senator, old white guy incarnate, 2-time failed
Presidential candidate, and King of minority impersonations, that’s the change
we need. I am now feeling like I can almost vote for Obama knowing Old White
Guy Biden is going to really be running the show. The puppet master will tell
the newbie what to do and what to say and we will fix all the problems in the
world. Number One on the ticket may be too radical but the clear headed,
statesman whose foot entered his mouth already at his acceptance speech should
be full of sound bits over the next 75 days. You know how he will be the parent
in the relationship and bring the message. We already saw that his message rang
true in Iowa garnering a full 1% of the vote.
The Michelle Obama speech was calm and soothing and made me
feel like she and I have a great deal in common. Except for the fact that she
went to Princeton and Harvard and I went to ASU when it was the number three
party school in Playboy’s ranking. Her brother was recruited for the basketball
team at Princeton; my brother was the recording secretary of the Calculus Team.
She grew up on the South Side of Chicago; I grew up on the north end of
Bloomfield. She had a high paying cushy law job out of college, I learned how
to drink a Foster’s can while standing on my head. She lives in a million
dollar mansion; I live in a dank third floor room. I’m sold, case closed.
I feel Michelle and I could call each other Boo. For that simple fact and that
her husband is looking forward and will make the world a better place, I am
considering shutting down the Clinton Unified National Ticket PAC and starting
up Barack Obama Our Savior PAC.
So buckle in folks, if you want to laugh, watch the
convention on MSNBC. The Matthews/Olbermann histrionics are entertaining. Oh
and if you didn’t get the point last night, “this party will come out of this
convention unified”. If I heard that once, I heard it a hundred times.
Even the woman that was sweeping up the convention center was mouthing that to
the camera. I wonder why Chris Matthews didn’t ask his guests why they were all
saying the exact same thing as their first talking point. Here’s a hint, if
they have to tell you there will be unity, you can count on the fact that there
August 22, 2008
I received a special email invitation today from WinoStuff
regular, Brian Bedlowski the manager of the month at the A&P Ledgewood wine
store every time Wino John makes a purchase. The “B”-man was a large part of
the Grand Opening for the Best Cellars at A&P in West Orange. My special
invitation found me amongst those others with special invitations.
The store is attractively designed and the wall on the
right (pictured below) makes finding well-priced wines in simple terms like
luscious, smooth, fresh and juicy. I picked up a bottle of Rose for a party I
am attending tomorrow.
During my visit, Brian introduced me to Joshua Wesson, the
Senior Director of beer, wine and spirits for A&P. As you can see below, Brian
is taking a lesson in customer service from Joshua (the one with the red tie).
The customer in the center was asking for a recommendation from their Italian
But I think Brian is most comfortable greeting customers
and pouring out some of the featured wines. Notice as I was approaching, he
took away all the sample glasses leaving me thirsty and cranky.
If you are around West Orange, head over to 445 Pleasant
Valley Way in West Orange. They will host weekly tastings, discounts on mixed
and closed cases and a friendly staff. My only comment is that parking is ample
but might be tight on a Saturday afternoon. We at WinoStuff send our sincere
congratulation to the new Best Cellars store.
August 18, 2008
The weather could not have been better for painting the
porch deck this weekend. Low humidity and high seventies with generous breezes
allowed the paint to dry quickly and speed the process of getting the task
completed. It was also a good way to sweat the toxins out of the body from the
night at Jamie’s cigar bar. Finally, on Sunday night, I had the opportunity to
sit for a few hours and enjoy the porch with a bottle of red. I grabbed what I
figured would be a simple easy drinker. It turns out that the winemaker turned
this one up to ELEVEN.
This Tinto de Toro grabbed my horns and shook me about the
head and neck areas. Wow, this ain’t your momma’s red. It hails from the area
named for a town on the Duero River in the province of Zamora, northwest of
Madrid. The appellation is small yet growing in international acclaim. The wine
is jammier and earthier than the tempranillo I have enjoyed to date. Not a fruit
bomb, dry and clean with spice and pepper. This is a game wine that venison or
elk or braised lamb would stand tall. As a first pass, I have to say I am
intrigued and enlightened and set on seeking out more offerings.
2006 Telmo Rodriguez Dehesa Gago G Pago la Jara Toro
Big and bold with black cherry, smoke, earthiness and pepper nicely put
August 16, 2008
Since Wino Wally is all tied up with important stuff, we
couldn’t have a WinoStuff executive board meeting, so we settled for a steering
committee session. Wino Odd Job took the wheel and steered us into a restaurant
that is one of only a handful where cigar smoking is still permitted. Yes last
night, the usual suspects, me, WOJ, Wino John and the big man (no Clarence
Clemens is still on his honeymoon), Big Bob, all got together for dinner. It
had to be over 4 months since all our schedules meshed. The only reason Wino
John was able to make it is that Misty May/Kerri Walsh were not playing beach
volleyball last night.
Might I suggest if you are a smoker and wealthy (two musts
for this place), head over to Bloomfield Ave in Clifton, just off the Allwood
Circle and stop into Jamie’s Cigar Bar and Restaurant. It is the first place I
have been to in years where diners are enjoying an after dinner cigar or sitting
at the bar listening to a computerized big band. Wino Odd Job knows the
chef/owner and we got the royal treatment. Our tour of the wine cellar made me
not want to leave; well controlled, beautifully appointed and stocked with a
nice selection. Big Bob could hardly hide the oak in his shorts when he
unearthed a bottle of 1994 Peju Cabernet Sauvignon HB Vineyards-Napa Valley. As
we looked and touched and gawked, the wine made its way to the dining room for a
breath of air. We sat and read an eclectic menu of homemade pasta, fish and
meat, with an arms length of appetizers. One does not jump right into such a
wine so we warmed up with a Brunello di Montalcino. Come on people, it’s a
steering committee meeting and we need to honor the Grape of the Year (besides
WJ had the floor at that point and he is all about GOTY).
For dinner, I pedantically paired homemade cannelloni with
the Brunello. The pasta was generously portioned, almost over abundant, dare I
say nearly bursting off the smallish appetizer plate. Sorry, I might have more
accurately been describing the way the women in this place were dressed. I will
just say, wow, I thought Mae West was dead. The Brunello was from Canalicchio di
Sopra, a small cult producer owned by Francesco Ripaccioli. Winemaker Primo
Pacenti and has been making wine in the limestone and clay soils in the region
since the 1960's. Elegant and racy, the balance of acidity and fruit enveloped
the pasta and sauce like a condom.
The main course selections were vast, but I settled for the
buffalo filet. The portion was appropriate for the pricing and cooked medium
rare allowing the lean meat to remain soft and flavorful. Come on, what else
would you want to accompany a distinctive Napa wine. In another revelation,
Wino Odd Job ordered something I have never seen on a menu, a filet mignon on
the bone. I guess I badgered him enough about never seeing that at Outback that
he let me try some. A completely different texture and flavor comes to the meat
when it’s left on the bone. One might say meat on the bone is superior. More
people should offer up meat on the bone……you get the point.
We finished with espressos and cigars and the melodic tunes
of Frank Sinatra. All I will say is it was very fitting if you get my drift.
Enough said, enough said if you know what I mean.
The place is unique and the food was excellent but the
thing that most impressed me was the efficiency of the air filtration system.
With all the cigar puffing, I walked out of there with little more than a hint
of second hand smoke. Well done I say. Great night, superb wines and a unique
experience for NJ, cigars in a restaurant.
August 13, 2008
Well, well, well, a chest thumping, braggadocios, webbed
footed frog goes on the record that they will beat the USA swim team but I guess
the white surrender flag that each Frenchman is required to carry slowed them
down. Oh no, a Waterloo moment. So, except for women’s beach volleyball, and
some radio recaps, I have seen little of the Olympics. When I watched, I had
with me an inexpensive red from the Navarra wine region of Spain.
I toasted a garnacha that was less than ten dollars and had
a nice flavor, worth drinking to the Misty May/Walsh duo. I must assume the
parents of Misty had a different career path for their daughter. I honestly
never went to school with anyone (male or female) named Misty. Can we guess
what her dad’s reasoning was?
Anyway, I don’t think the numbers are great for viewership,
but as a stalwart red blooded American, I will commit my time to the support of
the women’s beach volleyball run for the gold. I’ll drink to that.
2006 Artazu Navarra Garnacha “Artazuri“
A fun wine, easy drinking with light red fruit and spice on the finish.
August 10, 2008
I received a late night email from our good friends at
www.therisingtide.info. They were attending the 6th Annual
Pocono Mountains Film Festival and were awarded Best Documentary. They told me
the venue had BV Coastal as the cab on tap. I am sure they went through the
night finishing off what they were pouring. The festival was at Mt. Airy Casino
and Golf Resort so one can only imagine what took place after the awards
ceremony. I heard one of the executive producers was spotted late at night
trying to pick up old women with oxygen tanks by flashing the award in front of
anyone who couldn’t wheel their way out of his sight. Sad, but our
congratulations go out to the crew. I hear that in September, they will be in
Tampa Bay and Wildwood NJ.
August 9, 2008
I am a bit embarrassed about how long it has been since my
last post. Work has been getting into the way of my alcoholism and a business
trip across the pond had me drinking beer, beer and beer. On the wine front, I
have little to share. I thought of writing something about the druid reporting
of 8-8-08 and making up some tie in with wine and numerology. Unfortunately, I
am running at 90mph and just wanted to say I am still alive.
If you ever get the chance to visit Chelmsford England, I
recommend you ring up Michael at The Riverside Inn. A quaint sixteenth century
gist mill that has 8 rooms and a traditional pub resides along the Chelms
River. Young’s light and dark is the house special and, as beer goes, it’s
decent. We ate out at several nights and I have previously reviewed the wine
offerings at all three places. I must say the Brits are wine starved. The
pickings are slim at the average dining room. There were a handful of reds and
whites but nothing along the lines of what the average restaurant offers in
Anywhere, NJ. Granted I was not in London and nor did I dine where Prince
Charles hangs. There were several French wines but most of the people I saw
having wine were ordering Aussie shiraz or Argentinean Malbecs.
I failed at finding a local shop that sold Cuban cigars or
Absinth so I came home empty-handed. Though we are still nearly a week away, I
am glad to have received an email from Wino Odd Job. He suggested a Friday
night outing where wine and cigars will be foremost on the menu. I haven’t been
to this place, Jamie’s in Clifton, but he said smoking and drinking are front
and center. I hope my work life relaxes a bit this week so I can warm up for
the night of this WinoStuff staff meeting. Developing………………..
July 27, 2008
I don’t read as much as I should but when forced to sit on
a plane for a stretch of time, I can’t just watch that stupid movie. I
purchased two books for the retreat time and read one in total. The second, I
started on the flight home and found myself reading it at night and, dare I say,
on the weekends. The one I am caught up in right now is The House of
Mondavi. Though only through the first third, I keep finding myself
drawing similarities between the turmoil in the Mondavi family and that in the
Gallo family. I know I am behind the times here and probably some NY Time
reporter has drawn the same conclusions. I haven’t seen those reviews since I
don’t read much NY Times. All I can say is I am glad I am not the first-born
son of an immigrant Italian-American family in Napa Valley 1930-present. It
seems if I were, I would be in a legal battle with one of my younger siblings as
I would have been the smarter one with ambition to move dad’s business from
selling grapes and bulk wine to the eastern USA post prohibition. No, I don’t
have any legal problems like that with my siblings. On the flip side, I also
don’t have tens of millions of dollars in the bank and unlimited supply of
sought after wine.
I saw many parallels with the Gallo and Mondavi patriarchs,
the driven first-born sons and the less ambitious worker bee cellar rat second
sons. Both families went to court and both had issues with the use of the
family name. Fortunately, Robert Mondavi’s quest was to build quality and
class into California’s wines while Ernest Gallo made millions on Thunderbird.
Don’t spoil it. I want to find out for myself if one of the Mondavis ends
up making cheese….
A compelling story line thus far, but I have only reached
the judgment in 1976. No, not the judgment in Paris, but rather the judgment in
favor of Robert as the rest of his family tried to screw him out of his father’s
company. I’d say half a million cash in 1976 is worth like fifty million in
July 26, 2008
Sorry for the absence, but it was my annual “dry out” week
and I had little contact with the outside world. You know the deal, an
undisclosed resort with scheduled meetings and other people you recognize but
you can’t tell anyone you saw them... Let me just say the vortex energy and the
strikingly majestic rock formations in Sedona make for a tranquil location to
place one’s life in perspective. The solitude and spirituality taught me that I
am better served in NJ drinking than living the clean life. I did get to spend
a short amount of time on the web one day and found this bit of wine related
news quite ingenious. Read below, my good friends, the entrepreneurial spirit
wine labels and exorbitant prices promoted by a liquor company have led
Taiwan police to crack down on a prostitution ring, the online newspaper
NOWnews.com reported Sunday.
the normal price for a bottle of beer is about 30 Taiwan dollars (1 US
dollar) and 500 dollars (16 US dollars) for a bottle of liquor, the liquor
company charged 3,500 Taiwan dollars (100 US dollars) for a bottle of local
beer, 5,000 Taiwan dollars (160 US dollars) for a bottle of Japanese wine,
and 6,000 Taiwan dollars 200 US dollars) for a bottle of Russian vodka.
rules for drinking were even more strange: the drink had to be imbibed only
once, and within 50 minutes; a 10 per cent surcharge had to be paid for
extra service; a drink could be replaced if the customer was unhappy with
it; and there was also an extra charge if the drink was taken 'wearing a
raincoat and spits into the mouth.'
investigation revealed that the liquor company was actually a prostitution
ring, which lured customers through an internet chatroom, NOWnews said, and
the labels referred to the nationality of the prostitute.
'Wearing a raincoat and spits into the mouth' was the code for oral sex, and
'18 proof beer' and '30 proof beer' referred to the age of the call girls.
online paper did not provide other details about the prostitution ring, but
if convicted, those behind it could face a maximum five-year imprisonment on
charges of offences against morals.
Finding my way back to civilization, I immediately pinged
Wino John and The Other Bob (yes were are blackberry ping pals) and convinced
them to have lunch at the usual watering hole. I got there a half hour early
just to be amongst friends. Some people call them wine bottles, I call
them confidants. Screw summer, I needed a quick dose of big red and I grabbed a
bottle from a producer I saw there for the first time. It nicely filled the
void of sobriety as this Aussie ran at 16% alcohol. Yes, you read that
correctly, 16%! Move over zinfandel. I read about Molly Dooker but could
not afford the two offered at my local shop. Eighty dollars is out of my league
these days. The bottle at JR’s was their blend, Two Left Feet. At the imbibing
point, I neglected to read, or watch on youtube, the Molly Dooker shake.
Yes, I now learned that Molly is preserved with nitrogen and is recommended to
be degassed. The link below is where I found the video clip, see for yourself.
Be that as it may, I found this one a welcome back to the
world of drunkenness and sloppy spelling. Woo hoo, no more sobriety for
2006 Molly Dooker Two Left Feet
Maybe since I didn’t degas, I missed the nuances in this wine. It is big
and bold and red and deep with plum and chocolate flavors. The 16% alcohol will
kick your ass in this 68% shiraz, 17% merlot and 15% cabernet sauvignon. I
think I need another bottle to compare. Molly, Molly, oh Molly, you can
find our shipping address on the front page…
July 17, 2008
I just want you to read this so you don’t embarrassingly
make the same mistake I did. Last night, a customer needed to meet with me so I
suggested one of the trendy places in Montclair. I listed a few that I was
interested in and he picked one that I have been looking forward to trying. We
went to MESOB, the only Ethiopian restaurant outside of Ethiopia (that I
know of). Stupidly, I showed up with a wooden bowl and my own fly to buzz my
head. Wrong! Though, by the time dinner was over, my stomach was disdained,
not from malnutrition but from a very interestingly enjoyable meal.
The food is spicy and I recommend the meat sampler. Five
meat-based specials with three veggie-based selectable sides. Expecting spicy,
I went with a semi-sweet Riesling. Nice selection, I must say to myself. My
second most enjoyable thing, next to the deliciously unique food, is the fact
that there are no (repeat no) plates and utensils. Yes, I was
schooled by our Ethiopian waitress that one takes their injera (Ethiopian bread)
and uses it to grab the food then right into your mouth. The lamb was
excellent, there was a mild and spicy beef, chicken and peppers and cubed beef
in spice and herbs. The two of us ate what could have fed an Ethiopian
village. Nice atmosphere, pleasant staff, unique food and the robust Ethiopian
coffee roasted fresh at the end of the night.
http://www.mesobrestaurant.com and try it out. I am confident you will
enjoy the experience.
2007 LEITZ DRAGONSTONE RIESLING
The spicy food made this wine earn the extra 0.5; otherwise it was too
sweet for my taste.
July 15, 2008
Wow, I am not quite sure where the time went, but I am late
in posting up the latest wine meetup event. The day belonged to Wino Odd Job
for arranging the perfect weather. I guess God takes the Titanium Am Ex card.
WOJ sacrificed sleep like a teenager awaiting tickets to his favorite concert,
like a sports fan waiting for World Series tickets, like a nerd geek awaiting
the new iPhone, like a Star Trek fan dressing in Spock ears waiting... (you get
the picture) as he staked out the most scenic view at South Shore Marina.
He got there at 8am for a 4pm event, that’s dedication to planning. The view
was spectacular, just look.
We had a nice sized crowd; about 19, and the food and wine
flowed all afternoon. The complete set of pictures is located on the wine
http://wine.meetup.com/66/photos/395691/. Mike seasoned up some caldrons
and piled shrimp into the boiling brew. Lori was looking more for fresh then
frozen and neglected to read she didn’t have to catch her own.
The wine theme was, “bring your summer favorites” and I
think the group earned a respect for rose. We had roses from Spain and South
Africa, Chile and Argentina. And the wines were from a variety of varietals.
Halfway through the afternoon, we were down to white wines only. In the end
there were but three bottles with some wine left from the twenty-eight with
which we started the event. As JoAnn said, this was a great venue, being out in
the wilderness kept us from being thrown out of another restaurant. Several
highlights for me were:
JoAnn honoring her bet and showing up in a jersey from
the championship NY Giants.
Late afternoon guided boat tour of Derek Jeter’s
New faces for the event.
Wino Odd Job’s culinary Skills.
Not one duplicate wine and the large consumption of
Not having to eat a fish Lori caught out of Greenwood
2006 Bodegas Eguren Reinares Rosado- Tempranillo and
Garnacha light red fruit and intense raspberries.
2008 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose- South Africa
with notes of strawberry, binge cherry and a touch of spice.
The group consensus seemed to be one more outdoor event in
late August/early September to take advantage of the weather. We need to find
someone else in the group who has access to a venue. Any Lake Hopatcongers
July 11, 2008
Just so you know, my town is making me drink wine. Yes,
Caldwell, NJ has forced me to stop drinking their water and freely and openly
drink wine. In what they are calling "poopgate", someone (maybe a disgruntled
employee) or some heard of deer have been using our water supply as their
personal port-a-san. As everyone knows from the history of the world, ancient
water supplies were unsafe and wine had to be introduced to kill off that nasty
little ecoli varmint. My new diet had me wine free for several days but the
town is forcing me right now to brush my teeth with chardonnay and shampoo with
shiraz. If I use the town water, it gives shampoo a completely different
Last night I fled to the wine refuge, Wino Odd Job’s bar,
to save myself from drinking tainted water. Actually we had to go shopping for
the upcoming Wine Meetup bbq on Saturday. I was a bit delirious and had an
uncomfortable moment when Wino Odd Job offered to head to BJ’s. I have set this
up weeks ago and it seems that Wino Odd Job has been doing all the work for this
event. After shopping, we grabbed dinner at Villa Madrid and WOJ brought a
delicious Primitivo. Puglia does produce some very enjoyable bold wines and
this was a great example.
After dinner, Wino OJ showed me a great little wine shop in
Pompton Lakes called Amazing Grapes. The selection is ecelectic, they have wine
tastings frequently, they are owned by the same people that own the Frank’s
Pizza next door so you can get food and sit in the wine shop. Best of all, they
have a bar to sample the wines they sell. Nice niche shop located on Wanaque
Ave in the Pompton Lakes Towne Square Shopping Center.
2003 Prima Mano Primitivo di Puglia
Nice rich full-bodied red with blueberry, plum, tar, leather, and anise
flavors run throughout this bold beauty. I will be drinking more of this one.
July 10, 2008
How’s this for an invitation, “Wino Bob, you DON’T want to
come over for dinner, do you?” Yes the graciously warm and inviting Wino Rocker
rang me up the other night with the most uninviting invite for dinner that I
have ever experienced and that is exactly why I accepted it. I can only guess
he hit his head on a shelf or something and suffered a pang of “Humanness”.
Before the throbbing pain subsided, he dialed the phone. Arriving early,
further to my surprise, the old WR had grilling apron and chef hat aplomb. With
wine in hand, yes the wine that Wino Rocker brought to my house one night, I
offered back his offering and The Wino Rockers served up a summer evening feast
of foods in concert with my newly embarked upon diet.
In a Bobby Flay-like presentation, our healthful turkey
burgers were served on whole-wheat buns, I was surprised to learn that Wino
Rocker is a condiment junkie. If it could squirt from a bottle it appeared on
his burger, ketchup, mustard, mayo and I think wasabe. The Aussie Shiraz, a
Mrs. Wino Rocket selection of the month, was a delightful accompaniment to the
grilled fare. But I would be remiss if I did not mention all of my
observations. Hint to diners with the Wino Rockers, Mrs. Wino eats corn unlike
the rest of the world. I would challenge you to invite her to dinner to observe
After dinner, it was cigars and wine on the newly renovated
back deck complete with everything a wealthy entrepreneur would want except for
the hot tub. Come on, WR, I hang out with you for all the cool things us
commoners cannot afford and I cannot afford a hot tub. Wait... why would I want
to be drunk in a hot tub with Wino Rocker? That thought just made me throw
up a little in my mouth...
Wino Rocker, that should teach you to think before you dial
the phone, and to Mrs. Wino Rocker, thanks for making him invite me. See you in
the funny papers.
2004 Angoves Red Belly Black Shiraz
A nice offering of dark cherry, plum and anise swirling about your palate
with a backbone to survive a stogie.
July 6, 2008
OK, I know, you can stop the emails. I am back to the
wine stuff and off the things that roll around in my head. There are several
things that popped into the empty non-wine space and I just need to clear them
out. Have Kathy Griffin and Andy Dick ever appeared at the same time? I
think not. It is clear to me tonight that Kathy Griffin is Andy Dick in a long
red wig. I was going to do a 'separated at birth' but I think they are the same
person. I read somewhere that Kathy Griffin is dating Apple brainchild and
retired billionaire Steve Wozniak. Go figure. With the stench of death in the
air, my condolences to the Bozos out there. Larry Harmon and his Bozo franchise
will never be the same. The passing of Jessie Helms must also be mentioned. I
will refrain from the lengthy glowing words and I will leave the Bozo puns to
the left as Jessie Helms and Bozo will most likely be Keith Olbermann’s lead
Back to wine and the weekend and hanging out. What better
a text to receive than from someone saying they’re stopping by with wine and
steaks. Beat that. So with nothing much to do but clean a glass, it was a
drinking and eating fest. Unbeknownst to me, I had just cracked open a bottle
of Miguel Torres Santa Digna Cabernet Reserve 2005. This Chilean did not excite
me as I finished my first glass. Big Bob’s knock brought more wine and prime
beef. He cracked open a chilled Torres Rosé
as I fired up the grill and prepped some snacks. I am coming to the realization
that rosé is becoming a summer wine for me.
The heat and humidity plays right into the rosé’s
sweet spot. But I fail to leave the paradigm that I can eat steak with the
rose. I had a cabernet sauvignon at the ready but the Big One uncorked a Malbec
while I was retrieving the beef from the grill. Steak and Malbec perform a
river dance, no flailing arms and unnecessary upper body motion, just melodic
rhythmic stomping of taste buds. A happy dance of culinary delight.
It turns out that Enrique Foster does magic with his
limited edition Malbec. I once had the IQUE and did not enjoy it. The Limited
Edition is an entirely different animal. Nice wine for steak, the only thing
that would have improved it was finishing the bottle along with an Opus X. This
wine would handle the cigar because of its robustness. This was a welcome break
from the workload of this holiday weekend. It will be tough eating canned soup
2006 Torres Family DeCasta Rosado
Cool crisp blend of garnacha and carinena showing an iris floral nose and
bright red cherry and plum flavors.
2003 Enrique Foster Malbec Limited Addition
Deep color and a full-bodied
glass full of bramble fruits, and blackberry are highlighted with licorice and a
long finish. A wine bringing forth why you want to buy Malbec from Mendoza in
Argentina. Face it, Argentina’s beef is the reason for a wine like this.
July 4, 2008
A day to look back on what it took to form this nation. We
are far from those days chronologically and in national spirit. The HBO mini
series John Adams delivered a terrific depiction of what and why the fought for
independence to form this great Nation.
Happy Independence Day.
July 2, 2008
Just a few quick comments….This just in. Our good friend,
Wino Odd Job recently returned from a food industry trade show where he spent
the day sampling. The winner in his book is the Mercer Dairy Wine Ice Cream.
You can get the “scoop” (sorry, it just showed up in my empty head) at
www.mercerdairy.com and read up on their offerings.
For the ultimate pairing,
Mercer's Wine Ice Cream is available in the following varietals:
* Ala Port
* Cherry Merlot
* Chocolate Cabernet
* Peach White Zinfandel
* Red Raspberry Chardonnay
* Royal White Riesling
With 5 percent alcohol, you
must be 21 years of age or older to enjoy.
I am wondering if you get a brain freeze hangover.
On a front closer to home, actually closer to my home than
your home especially if you don’t live in NJ, chef/restaurateur Michael Frodello
has been named Executive Director at The Park Avenue Club in Florham
Park, NJ. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, Michael and his wife Sylvia were
the brains behind Bacchus in Fairfield. Tragically, Philip Darrow,
passed away in December and The Park Ave Club has been searching for an
Executive Director. I trust that Michael will be expanding the wine list and
wine dinners at the club. (Big Bob, get the distributors in and lets up that
wine list!) I say, there might be a cot in the basement in The Park Ave Club
very soon for yours truly…
We wish Michael all the best and look forward to his
July 1, 2008
I spent some time this weekend watching our young athletes
compete for spots on the US Olympic Team. In what can only be considered a
twist of fate, NBC had primetime coverage and MSNBC had many of the events that
would not make the prime time broadcast. Things were set, that is until late
last night. I just received word that internationally recognized woman
gymnastics coach; Bela Karoli contacted the IOC to discuss a change. In what
can only be described as an unusually exciting late minute heroic performance,
Bela was able to get Keith Olbermann on the team. Karoli was watching Countdown
last night and marveled at the verbal gymnastic, pretzel twisting justifications
and credibility dismount Keith Olbermann nailed with his Special Comments
defending Barack Obama’s FISA vote reversal. “In gymnastics we have turns for
the flexible position Keith gets into when doggedly pitching Obama. Commoners
call it flip flops, but we have terms like "salto", "triple reverse twist",
"compulsory" and "back flip". What I saw Keith do to change his special comments
from 5 months ago made Nadia jealous. Right then I knew we needed him on our
team,” Karoli stated from his training gym.
Face it, Keith can spin and twist better than Juliana
Laskow. It is very easy for him to do the uneven parallel bars as he leans so
much to the left. His Jimmy Legs brings interesting new additions to the flag
dancing routine. Nightly, he vaults the truth to dismount reality and present
the world according to KO. The only event he will struggle with is the balance
So please join me in welcoming Keith Olbermann as the
newest member to the woman’s US Olympic Gymnastic Team. Besides, if he doesn’t
do well, we hear there is a Minister of Communications position open in the
Chinese Government which Keith is interviewing for anyway.