Bob’s Winings
                                                                           former
                  
Tasting Notes from a ^ Beer Drinker


This page contains Winings from the 4th Quarter of the year 2001.

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December 31, 2001

Happy New Year to all and to all a Good Night; I am not sorry to see 2001 go as the tech-geek market deeply effected the non-Wino Bob side of Wino Bob’s Life.  The highlight of the entire year was the 15-hour slugfest the WinoStuff staff just concluded.  As you are aware, at midnight, the Year-of-the-Syrah will be but a page in the annals of Wine History.  The sweeping of the second-hand will usher in a New Year and a New Grape to bear resounding significance to the shaping of the world order.  Five thousand years from now, the placemats at the local Greek Diner will contain the information, “If you were Born in this Year- Your Grape Sign is…”  No longer will we match ourselves to the Chinese pig, or rat, or snake; NO, we will cheer as we find ourselves born in the Year-of-the-Gewürztraminer, or Pinot Noir, or Grenache.

Yesterday, the end-of-year planning meeting for the Grape selection committee was held behind closed doors.  It was hot and smoky; with chairs flying, vitriolic and incendiary speech, cursing, spitting, and hurling. (that was just from the Winettes).  In the meeting, there was only one message that everyone wanted to make clear.  The Grape for 2002 will be reflective of the feverous Jingoistic sentiment of the selection committee members.  At this suggestion, Wino John spontaneously broke out into singing the National Anthem and jogging around the room with an American Flag like Carl Lewis taking a victory lap at the 1992 Olympics. 

Digging deep into the North American Grape History Books, I suggested we Name Concorde as the Grape of the New Year, being indigenous to the North East.  I then submitted the names of Scuppernong, Alexander, Catawba, Delaware, Isabella, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Baco Noir, Cynthiana, Chambourcin, Marechal Foch, Landot Noir, Colombard, Villard Noir, Steuben, Niagara, Vidal Blanc, Labruscas and Chancellar.  Wino John stood up and stated, “Wino Bob, you are thinking too locally, those grapes may make the best $7.00 wine in NJ, but we need this to be BIGGER!  BIGGER and REDDER!  A Big RED, Hey how about Zinfandel.” 

And so with a simple thought of Big Bold Reds, which is usually all that Wino John thinks about anyway, the Year 2002 will forever be know as The-Year-of-the-Zin  This is a wine that is believed to have origins in Italy, but Zinfandel is nnow considered an “American Classic”.  This is a grape that pours out deep red and is a spicy, peppery wine of dark cherry and berry flavors.

In honor of this New Year, I toasted in 2002 with:

1995 Ridge Zinfandel, Geyserville, Sonoma County $$ (22.00)   A nectar of deep ruby cast, full-body and massive oak.  Black fruit and brown spices make this a lusty, full-length wine.  Not for the weak at heart.

 

December 30, 2001

I hope by now you have settled down a bit from over indulging for the Holiday Season.  I will be doubling my exercise routine over the next month to get my stickish figure back.  I now look like the letter “I” with a Capital “O” stuck to my stomach.  Stick figure or not, the older you get, the harder it is to keep from ballooning up at the Holidays.  I guess the word "self-restraint" has yet to take hold with me.

The Holidays have been much easier on those I exchange gifts with.  I used to be quite a handful, picky to say the least.  Shirts needed to be certain fabric and black (only) for those trendy nights on the town.  Other than NY Giants sweatshirts and hats, there wasn’t much else I accepted without the grumblings and faux smiles of a crotchety-old man.  Now I am a breeze, wine books or wine accessories.  With the construction of the new cellar, wine enthusiast peripherals were much the rage. 

One of the gifts I received was a Book entitled, “Wine

If wine knowledge is measured by the pound, this 928-page behemoth weighs in at seven pounds.  After picking this book up and reading through it, I will either be the most well read WinoStuff staff member, or the one with the biggest biceps.  The price on this is $30.00, which makes it approximately $4.28 per pound of education.  That’s more reasonable than the price of shellfish.  This book is so massive; the entire cover could not fit on my scanner.  As a resource, it is magnificent, detailing the history, process in the vineyard, the process in the winery, food-pairings, stemware, cork, barrel making, cellar management, vineyard pests (insects, not Wino John trying to sneak an early sampling of Screaming Eagle), and wines from regions in the world that I didn’t even know were countries.  This is an atlas on wine production and a well-documented source on the industry of wine making.  Warning:  Remember to lift with your knees, back injury may occur otherwise.

 

December 28, 2001

Stop me, I am walking the tightrope of becoming a, dare I say, Wine Snob… Needing to host the neighbors, whose wine knowledge is starting to out-distance mine, the pressure is on for me to stay one step ahead.  I spent half a day looking for the right wine to serve with the food we selected.  What?  Wino Bob, you are now trying to complement the flavors and textures of the food with attributes of wine?  No wino does that, only wine snobs put that much thought into their wine selection.  What perplexed me were the extreme differences between the shrimp cocktail, sushi and fried calamari.  Sushi and fried calamari, Wino Bob, are at the opposite ends of the health and nutritional scales.  Let me see, what goes with fresh fished wrapped in rice and seaweed and greasy, deep fried egg batter-dipped fish bait?  Most snobbish in my hosting duties is that I only served a wine selection with the appetizers and made everyone drink a different wine with the main course.  STOP me… it was I who advocated, "to hell with the critics, drink what you enjoy."  White wine with fish is for the stoic, starched collar wine elite; WinoStuff is based on reality wine enjoying.  Drink what you like, find the best bargain, and celebrate the Year of the Syrah.

I apologize publicly to my fellow winos and my guest for subjecting them to my Wine Nazi attitude in designing the wines for the night with the dinner menu and not asking what I should have asked… “Who wants white and who wants red….”?  Drink up.

1996 Chapoutier Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, La Bernardine $$$ (38.00)   A wine befitting a Pope, this opulent, deep-ruby nectar is a delight.  Depth and lush fruit taunt the palette, intense, complex and classy.

1998 Chateau Jean Gervais, Blanc, Graves $ (10.99) When oak is not what you are in the mood for, this blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon is refreshing, crisp, clean and laden with aromas of peach, citrus and a hint of herb.

 

December 27, 2001

As I am never ashamed to admit when I learn something new, last evening, during a holiday party at Chateau WinoBob, I did indeed have a conversation that sent me to the WinoStuff research vault.  Among the guests was a Priest from our neighborhood church.  Yes, he braved the heathen’s den of Wino Bob and accepted an invitation to the party.  I noticed he wore a large cross, prominently displayed at all times, and he carried a Bible and bottle of Holy Water as he toured the place.  As one who too often oversteps the bounds of reverence, I shall refer to him as Wino Father Nige. (I figure the "Wino Jesus" entry has me so firmly implanted in Hell, that the Good Father could not send me any farther South).

As I have been intrigued in the past with the Alter Wine, I finally had someone in my presence that could answer the questions that keep me up late at night.  Wino Father Nige, who selects the wine for mass?  What price range wines do you cellar at the rectory?  Do you buy wines from the local wine shop in town?  Does each Priest have his own wine for the mass or does the Priest that serves the early morning mass call the wine for the day?  Do you ever serve Lafite and if so, could you tip me off so I drink from the cup that week?  Can I get a job as the Parish Sommelier?  I had a million questions, but was stopped in my tracks when Wino Father Nige informed me that they only use Alter Wine, or Sacramental Wine.  He also informed me that the wine was a higher alcohol percent then retail wine.  

Quickly, I ran up to the Wino Bob Library of Wine Knowledge and frantically searched appendix after appendix in an attempt to locate information on Alter Wine and why it is a higher alcohol percent then what I am drinking.  I came up empty.  So today, I emailed the Vatican with the questions regarding Alter Wine and received the explanation below. 

Not knowing about Alter Wine, and wanting Wino Father Nige to feel comfortable, I selected Holy Trinity and a Chateauneuf du Pape to serve with dinner.  The Holy Trinity, which I have reviewed in the past, was a wine that drew high marks from many of the guests.  If you see this wine at your retailer, pick up a bottle and let me know what you think as you read the blurb below. 

 

Altar Wine

Wine is one of the two elements absolutely necessary for the sacrifice of the Eucharist. For valid and licit consecration, vinum de vite, i.e. the pure juice of the grape naturally and properly fermented, is to be used. Wine made out of raisins, provided that from its color and taste it may be judged to be pure, may be used (Collect. S. C. de Prop. Fide, n. 705). It may be white or red, weak or strong, sweet or dry. Since the validity of the Holy Sacrifice, and the lawfulness of its celebration, requires absolutely genuine wine, it becomes the serious obligation of the celebrant to procure only pure wines. And since wines are frequently so adulterated as to escape minute chemical analysis, it may be taken for granted that the safest way of procuring pure wine is to buy it not at second hand, but directly from a manufacturer who understands and conscientiously respects the great responsibility involved in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice. If the wine is changed into vinegar, or is become putrid or corrupted, if it was pressed from grapes that were not fully ripe, or if it is mixed with such a quality of water that it can hardly be called wine, its use is forbidden (Missale Rom., De Defectibus, tit. iv, 1). If the wine begins to turn into vinegar, or to become putrid, or is the unfermented juice is pressed from the grape, it would be a grievous offence to use it, but it is considered valid matter (ibid., 2). To conserve weak and feeble wines, and in order to keep them from souring or spoiling during transportation, a small quantity of spirits of mine (grape brandy or alcohol) may be added, provided the following conditions are observed (1) The added spirit (alcohol) must have been distilled from the grape (ex genimime vitis); (2) the quantity of alcohol added, together with that which the wine contained naturally after fermentation, must not exceed eighteen per cent of the whole; (3) the addition must be made during the process of fermentation (S. Romana et Univ. Inquis., 5 August, 1896).

A.J. SCHULTE
Transcribed by Michael C. Tinkler

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I
Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company
Online Edition Copyright © 1999 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor
Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

 

December 26, 2001

The holidays are defined for me by the sharing of good times with family and friends.  I have been over-indulging in both since Friday night.  However, this Holiday Season has been somewhat difficult since the cornerstone of this ritualistic celebration is being uprooted and set down elsewhere.  For the past forty-one years, the Wino Bob family has celebrated our traditional Christmas Eve dinner at the home of my parents.  Forty-one years of folding chairs, kid card tables and large groups of family and friends sharing the highs and lows of our year apart.  This year was different and the beginning of a major change.  Even though the extended family has grown over the past 20 years with marriages and children, commitments had the usual elbow-to-elbow eating situation down to fit comfortably at one table.  We NEVER fit at one table, from my earliest recollections of Christmas Eve Dinner.  But the biggest change is in the works, the only house the Winofolks have ever owned, the home where Wino Bob spent untold hours as a misguided youth, the house with walls that have stories that to this day the Winofolks would never understand, will be put up for sale.

The head game I am dealing with is the fact that I do not consider myself steeped in tradition.  If I were, I’d still be drinking Bud and smoking Lucky Strikes.  Hell, this last week I even served wine-unworthy visitors, from my “Special Wine Rack”.  Yes, Wino Bob broke with the tradition of weighing the audience, knowing some people would not appreciate the coveted nectar of an expensive wine, and I turned my head as they dropped cubes of ice into their goblets.  However; the tradition of gathering at the old homestead, which sits on a 35’ x 148’ lot in the North End of Bloomfield, the yard that served as ball field and vegetable garden, sleigh-riding hill and the ice-skating pond, will be closing this chapter after forty-one years.  We will be sorting out the development of a New Tradition, but I would have to live past the ripe old age of 82 for it to take on significance.  Knowing it was our last time to share our most significant family event in that dinning room, made this year far different then any one I can recall.   So we drank till dawn and laughed and reminisced with those who came to dinner and I drank wine, good wine and lots of it.

 

1999 Smoking Loon Syrah $ (10.99)   Smooth and fruit-packed with a load of pepper aromas and black fruit.  A good everyday drinking wine, but not the length to bring this one higher on the scale.

1998 Umberto Cesari Sangiovese di Romagna Reserva $ (11.99)   This 85% sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon has a bright, ruby red color with rich raspberry and cherry fruit and slight tannins.  A good, easy-drinking wine for snacks of Italian cheeses and salamis.

1995 Castello Banfi Summus $$$ (58.00)   One of my favorites, that awoke from a three year sleep in my cellar.  This blend of Brunello di Montalcino/Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah delivers character from start to finish.  A classy representation of why blended wines need to be at the top of your list.  The interaction of the cepages brings fruits ranging from lighter raspberries to black cherry and the texture and finish of a quality wine.  Length, softness and mature fruit impress the palette.

1997 Siena $$ (36.00)   A California blend of the Tuscan style wine, this delightful wine delivers red and black cherry, and plum fruitiness with the enhancement of cassis and cedar.  Do not be afraid to order this at your next meal in a fine Italian restaurant.

1997 Far Niente Chardonnay $$$ (60.00)   Oak is the word from start to finish, with a golden hue and flavors of melon, apricot and fig.  This wine has length and elegance but not for the weak at heart.  This wine has enough left to sit for another few years.

1995 Luce $$$ (55.00)   A blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Sangiovese, this Super Tuscan is brimming with blueberry and blackberry flavors, smooth and elegant on the palette and bolstered with vanilla and clover undertones.  A wine that delivers.

 

December 19, 2001

I usually leave the restaurant reviews to Wino Wally.  As you can see from his entries, Wino Wally has dined at some of the top eateries in the country.  I, on the other hand, pretty much eat at Bacchus or fire up the Weber and slap on a steak.   I had a non-winostuff lunch meeting today, and as host, I wanted to broaden my horizons.  Besides, the people I was with had been to Bacchus as much as I have.  There is a great looking Italian restaurant, which just changed ownership, not too far from the Wino Bob estate, OK, the Wino Bob duplex cardboard box.  Every time I pass this place, the valet lot is always full, so I figure the food must be good.  The restaurant is named Luce, a wine I have enjoyed on an occasion or two.  So I call information from my cell phone and Sprint made a reservation for me.  I never knew they offered a concierge serve.  (I’m just glad when I got to the place, Charro wasn’t sitting at the bar). 

As we were seated, the waiter offered the wine list.  With a great deal of excitement, I opened the list wondering, "would it be a Super Tuscan or maybe a Barolo for this heavy meeting?   Are they carrying Gaja, the number one rated Italian wine, or should I order the familiar Sassicia to impress my guests?"  Much to my surprise, Luce, the fine Italian dining experience, offers ONE Wineries bottling.  That winery, the Famous New Jersey based KINGS ROAD VINEYARDS.  What the...?  Who the… huh?  NJ’s KRV?   But the sign outside even has that squiggly line over the letter in Luce making it authentic Italian.  The waiter, he spoke in broken English, the décor, the food, the experience all pointed to Italy, but the wine said 360 Route 579, Asbury, New Jersey.  When in Rome… drink New Jersey?

So I ordered a bottle of my first NJ winery in my wine-drinking career to go with my Ginger Tuna.  As far as the food goes, it was outstanding, Wine, on the other hand needs to be discussed with the ownership.

1999 KRV Marcata $ (17.00 rest-7.95 retail)   I enjoyed the experience, but would not list this Cabernet/Merlot blend as a top pick.  This wine was thin and lacked depth.  The fruit offered little to the palette.

 

December 17, 2001

Wino John had smoke coming off his keyboard this weekend.  His Christmas poem is a fitting tribute to the holiday season.  Rhyming the word "Chateauneuf" has never been done before.  I tip my taste vin to you.  Until I read that, the most unusual word in a verse that I was aware of appeared in the Turtles song Eleanor.  They rhymed the word excetra.

Wino John has called a board meeting for the 2002 Year of The Grape nominating committee.  Will all committee members submit their grape name, region of origin, list of top ten wines the grape appeared in since the 1855 classification (if applicable), blending characteristics (if applicable), current planting acres by country, amount of wine produced in liters, bottles and boxes (if applicable) and a 500 word essay defending your support of this being named the Grape of the Year 2002.  Those not on the committee can just email me the grape and one sentence on why it should be considered.

We enjoyed a great dinner this weekend with neighbors.  You know the holiday season is enhanced by the good company of family and friends, a warm fire and an evening of drinking wine.  The day before the dinner, Wino Lou, my neighbor, friend, chef extraordinaire, and frequent reader of WinoStuff, emailed me with his menu and asked for wine suggestions.  Never shying away from a wine question, I humbly offered my opinion and we managed to sit through dinner commenting on the interaction between his menu and the characteristics of the wine that I brought.  Scary- I have become the Wine Geek I make fun of.  I am my own worst nightmare.  We even managed to watch the Steelers outplay the Ravens to claim a playoff berth in the AFC.

Food: - Stilton Cheese   
Wine:
1997 Robert Keenan Merlot, Napa Valley $$ (30.00)   Black Cherry and plumb with soft tannins on the finish blended well with the cheese.  

Food - Roast Pork with Wino Lou’s spicy apricot glaze
Wines:
1999 Domaine Des Contarelles Viognier Vin de Pays
 $ (11.00)    Looking to capture the sweetness of the apricot glaze and cherries in the stuffing, this wine offers an aromatic floral nose and a spicy and violet undertone.  Dry with a short finish.

2000 Gerard Gelin Domaine Des Nugues Beaujolais Village $ (12.00)   This wine offered acidity and red fruit to balance with the cherry, and apricot.  Delivering a light bodied red as not to over power the flavors in the stuffing I chilled this one slightly to lower the acid and bring the fruit forward.

 

December 16, 2001

With eight shopping days still available, I wanted to post the following two books that might make nice stocking stuffers, or a small gift for a wino friend. 

A book I house in a glass case, great stories of sharing a bottle of wine with family and friends told by people who could write.  If I were to be born again, I would ask for the talent of one of these writer and wine lovers.  Essays by Art Buchwald, Ernest Hemmingway, John Keats, Truman Capote, Calvin Trillin, Spaulding Grey, and John Steinbeck just to highlight a few.  Command of the English language and a discerning palette, who could ask for anything more in life.

The picture is 4 times the actual size of this book.  Filled with memorable quotes and photographs of wine and food.  The silver grape cluster bookmark is a bonus.  Marvin Shanken draws on quotes from Michael Caine, Galileo, Lord Byron, Robert Mondavi, Burgess Meredith, and King Edward VII to enlighten us on their love of the grape.

1999 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (28.00) A firm Cabernet with oak from head to toe.  Dark cherry, tobacco and leather with earthy undertones.  Mild tannins make this enjoyable for the future

 

December 15, 2001

Thanks to Wino John, we now have an official Books for Winos section on the web site.  I hope Wino Oprah doesn’t get too jealous when we take some of her viewership.  For my first official submission, I dug through the Wino Bob Library and selected, for your enjoyment, a book that holds many important wine sentiments.  First and foremost, it was the author of this book that turned my beer guzzling, unsophisticated palette, into the finely tuned instrument it is today.  It is the love and enthusiasm this author brought to the subject of wine that sent me from pillar to post seeking wines from all four corners of this round Earth.  But most importantly, it was the knowledge, presentation style and distinguished personality of this author that allowed me to get my first diploma from any educational institution.

Secondly, a portion of the proceeds from the purchase of this book will assist the families of the coworkers of the author who passed on in the tragedy on September 11th.  Our classroom was on the 106th floor of tower one, with a spectacular springtime view of the NY harbor. 

Thirdly, this book presents a terrific introduction into the world of wine.  This book does not go too deep, but clearly identifies the regions, grapes and producers you should be aware of as you begin your journey into the enjoyment of wine, not as a beverage, but as a lifestyle.

It’s not the destination, but rather the journey that dreams are made from…

The only thing missing from this book is the wit and delivery-styling of the world renown author, TV host, all-around nice guy and friend of Wino Bob (OK, so I made the last one up).  This book takes you through a tasting journey of the most significant wine regions of the World.  A cornerstone for any Wino in their unending quest for the perfect wine, this book is a great reference and looks snappy on your coffee table.

 

December 11, 2001

With only 20 drinking days left in the year 2001, I will spend more time drinking and less time thinking about things to write.  In the past two days, I have tried three syrah/shiraz-containing wines.  One of them was a clear winner, bringing a smile to my face after the first sip.  The key to my research is finding the gem in the rough.  I have tasted a lot of dirt this past several months, but today I found a wine that delivered big, bold tastes and change back from my $20.00.  I wish I could find a wine that delivered for under $10.00, but that seems a difficult task.  Finding this wine at $15.00 was exciting.

1998 E. Guigal Cotes-du-Rhone $ (11.00) As an everyday quaffing wine, this will do fine with nice fruit and spice flavors to match well with hard cheese, grilled duck or roasted leg of lamb.  This wine does not linger long enough on the palette, nor does it deliver the depth a Cotes-du-Rhone is capable of delivering.

1998 Mommessin Les Epices Chateauneuf du Pape $ (18.00) This is not worthy of the Pope’s new or old home, lacking character or backbone.  The wine was thin and weak, not delivering much more than a glass of colored water.

1998 Jacobs Creek Reserve Shiraz $ (15.00) A gem in the rough, a lamb in wolf’s clothing, the buy of  “TYTS”.  I nominate this as one of the top 10 Wino Bob’s Wines of the year.  Loads of plum and dark fruits to fill your mouth.  Flavors of chocolate, pepper and spicy vanilla oak.  This wine is fit for the dining room at a TV room budget.  Drink this now, as long as you have several bottles tucked away.  Serve this proudly to guests.  

Editor's note: The Wine Enthusiast agrees with WinoBob's assessment of the Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz, rating it a 91 and naming it as one of the Top 100 Values of the Year.  This just goes to show that WinoBob could be a rich and famous wine writer, you know, if he could write.

 

December 8, 2001

Lest we forget, the Wino Bob calendar is quickly closing on self-proclaimed “YEAR OF THE SYRAH”.  Fittingly, I must provide an appropriate send off for my friend, my companion, my confidant.  And what better way to do that than by posting a picture as a farewell tribute.  Winos and Winettes, I give you the Grape of 2001

California Syrah

I will drink out the year of Syrah and dutifully declare 2002’s grape on New Year’s Day. 

Interestingly, the January issue of Food and Wine Magazine has an article on page 50 regarding Washington State's love of the Syrah varietal.  Over the past eleven years, plantings have increased from 40 acres in 1990 to 3,000 acres in 2001.  I’m no Einstein, but I think that is an increase of a quadrillion percent.  They also list their top ten selections, consisting of:

1999 Hogue Vineyards Selection-$16.00
1999 Columbia Crest Reserve- 28.00
1999 Three Rivers Boushey Vineyards-35.00
1999 Delille Doyenne-38.00
1999 Mccrea Yakima Valley-38.00
1999 Cayuse Cailloux Vineyard-40.00
1999 Betz Family La Serenne-28.00
1999 Seven Hills- 20.00
1998 Chateau St. Michelle Reserve- 29.00
1998 Glen Fiona Basket Press Reserve- 60.00

In the spirit of TYoTS (The Year of The Syrah), I had to enjoy some at Bacchus with my dinner.  I tried a dish I had never paid attention to before.  Tournedos Diane was delicious with creamy wild mushroom gravy.

SIDE NOTE - After dinner I went back to try a glass of the Sobon Estate Syrah and did get a better glass than Tuesday evening.  Seated two chairs to my left were several NJ Devil Hockey Players.  Since Ken Daneko sold his interest in Mezzanote, he now can be seen sitting in what used to be the "Wino Bob Stool".  I’m not going to go tell him that he’s in my chair…

1996 Zaca Mesa Syrah $$ (33.00)   This wine is made from 80% Syrah and 20% Viognier and gives an exciting bouquet as a killer wine.  Loads of dark fruit, leather, and a hint of chocolate.  Unfortunately, this wine is lean on the palette and short on the finish.  Like Chinese food, this one left empty moments after consumption.

1998 Sobon Estate Syrah   Smooth selection of red and dark fruits with mild tannins and a silky finish.  Good weight on the palette with a touch of herbs.

 

December 6, 2001

Seeing how I have not been able to bank the boat load of money that Wino John told me would come from a web page, I am stuck with one foot in the “real job world”.  As part of the educational process in  my bill-paying jobl, I often read "self-help, motivational, you-to-can-be-a-millionaire in 12 easy lessons", sales training books.  I have a shelf filled with books that describe the latest and greatest method to be a successful salesman.  Recently, I was given “the New Roadmap to Riches” book entitled, “Sales Dogs”.  As I got through the second chapter, I realized this book is the latest rehash of the last book, which was the new twist of the old book that I once read….  The basics boil down to the simple concept that once was called "personality selling".  Find the personality type you are, define the personality of your customer and employ a sales style appropriately.

This book defined salesman in terms of dog breeds, which made me start thinking.  If I were a writer, I could be the next best selling author of the next best selling sales training book.  The book would simply define salesmen and customer personalities in terms of grape varietals.  Face it, we all know the characteristics of the grapes.  I would merely associate these attributes to people and tell the Massive Cabernets to be gentle when dealing with the Pinot Noirs (you know, that soft, fleshy grape that needs a great deal of care and nurturing and could be ruined by a slight amount of stormy weather).  The Chardonnay is really a well-disguised hard seller in a sheep’s clothing.  To me the Syrah would be top dog, the wealthiest of successful salespeople… The last guy I bought a car from was a Gewertztraminer.

Then to handle the difficult-to-explain situation, we can call the Cote-du-Rhones, soundly mixed characteristic traits that work quite well in diverse sales situations. 

As Wino John will tell you, Wino Bob, you’d write a great book if you ever get to study the English language.  So if there are any really smart wino’s out there that want to work with me on this concept, email me, I’ll share the publishing rights.

 

December 5, 2001

Has this ever happened to you?  You are on a web page, clicking around and you click something and another web site opens.  That one looks interesting and you click something else and another thing opens and you suddenly find yourself on a site that you never intended to be on.  Well, at least that’s what Pee-Wee said in court.  Yesterday, I was looking at where Winostuff.com was rated on the web site Wino John has at the top of our page.  Wanting to understand the competition, I clicked my way through sites and links and links and links and found myself on a web page that I cannot get back to.  This site was a link that had the picture of an attractive woman with a brief description that she reviews fine dining and wine establishments.  The site was a bit cumbersome to maneuver, so I clicked on her email link and asked if she ever dined at Bacchus.  Her email address was an earthlink account so I cannot get the web address off her reply to me. 

The page was full of stories about wining and dining around the world, so I thought this might be interesting to strike up a dialog via email and see if we could complement her page with the extensive fine dining experiences of Wino Wally.  Unfortunately, the email response I received, basically was a one line response with the tone of, “Who are you and why are you emailing me?”  I just thought that if a web site asked for input and had an email link, they actually wanted to hear from the readership.   I love getting email from my fellow winos and winettes.  Keep it coming.  The problem is that I spent hours trying to get back to her site with no luck, and I think my “I am Wino Bob, damn it”, reply has ended our open lines of communication. 

Last evening I found myself free for several hours after my treadmill and stomach work out session.  Not wanting to annoy anyone else on the net, I hopped in the car and headed over to Bacchus to see what was new in the wine keeper.  For some reason, the wines by the glass last night carried a prevailing taste in the two diverse wines a tried.  I do not own a wine keeper and do not know if there are issues that come up with them over time, but I noticed that the white wine side reads out 40 degrees, which it should.  I do not believe any other that cooling is piped into the red wine side of the unit.  I have become more critical of temperature and it’s effects.  Though the wine was not hot, it was much closer to ambient then it should be. 

Do any of you winos own a wine keeper, 20 bottle size and could you give me feedback on what the red side temperature gets set at.  I tried a Pinot Noir and a Syrah, both of which did not show much of their characteristic styles.  I will list the wines I tried, but will reserve review upon further investigation.

1999 Purple Mountain Pinot Noir

1998 Sobon Estates Syrah

 

December 2, 2001

2001 Rosemount Estate Traminer/Riesling $ (6.98)    Honey dominates this sweet wine that carries a floral aroma and sweet fruity flavor.  I would almost classify this in the dessert wine genre.

 

1999 Wente Chardonnay, Livermore Valley $ (18.00)   Who would have thought Norm (George Wente) made such a great wine for a beer drinker.  So he doesn’t, but the Wente family has been making great wine since 1936 and this is a prime example.  Generous bouquet of apples, pear and toasted oak.  This dry, medium-bodied Chard with balanced acid pours out a pale gold hue and loads your mouth with a creamy, vanilla, mineral and fruity elixir.  This carried the Salmon in a lemon, butter, white wine and dill superbly.  Cooking hint, use the wine you are going to drink in the recipe, why taint your palette with cheap bitter wine that will only confuse your buds.

 

1998 St. Francis Zinfandel, Old Vines, Sonoma County $ (18.00)   Deep ruby hue with plenty of lush dark fruit and chocolate.  Mild tannins round this out to give it a velvety, supple finish.  This was my second choice for Turkey Day, which would have been far better than the Gewertz.  This stands up well to sausage, escarole, and lentil stew.  The spice compliments the caraway in the Italian sweet sausage. 

 

December 1, 2001

Eleven down, one to go.  No, I am not talking about Major Tournament Golf Courses Wino Wally has played; I am talking about months left in 2001.  I cannot believe that in New Jersey we are basking in 72-degree weather on the First of December.  It’s not as much fun drinking a heavy red in 72 degrees.  What’s more mind boggling is having the town make a huge deal out of the lighting of the Town Christmas Tree.  In NJ at this time of year those of us in the North East usually begin to switch our black linen and cotton for our black leather and wool.  Did you ever stand next to a guy in black wool in 72 degrees temperatures?  Not a pleasant experience.  Kind of reminds me of this soup I once had to eat at this Italian Restaurant, but that’s a completely different story.   Do people not realize that they stink?  If I can smell you from over here, can’t you smell yourself over there?  Worse yet is that these black wool-wearing business people are so intent on catching the bus or train, they run to make sure they get aboard before the door closes.  Then, without a thought, they are the first to crowd next to you and grab the strap right above your head.  Why can’t I just make a living sitting in my house drinking wine?

Anyway, I had a nice little Cabernet for lunch yesterday, a wine developed by a member of a South African Wine Family using a cutting from Paul Masson’s 1880’s Bordeaux stock and crafted by an Italian wine maker.  If you get a chance to read the history of the Bell Winery from their web site, it presents an intriguing story.  Check it out at www.bellwine.com

1996 Bell Cabernet Sauvignon Baritelle Vineyards, Jackson Clone, Rutherford $$ (35.00 discounted from 50.00)   Flavors of mature fruit, with a cedary, dusty character to them.  A bright brick hue and soft elegant tannins make this wine drinkable right now.  Not chewy or particularly long on the finish, but well structured .

November 25, 2001

I apologize to those Winos and Winettes who feel I am yelling at them.  As a teacher makes the entire class write an essay on why you shouldn’t talk in class, even though it was one person, I must make an elementary entry to point out a basic of wine enjoyment for the few out there that have yet to understand it.  Last night, I went to a friend’s home to enjoy the leftover turkey dinner, stuffing, yams, et al, that was not finished on Thursday.  With dinner, they served a wine I enjoy and might actually have given them on a prior visit.  Knowing the wine, I really didn’t care much about the reheated gravy and mashed potatoes.  Then, as I lifted the glass to my lips to enjoy the fine nectar of the 1997 Qupe Syrah that is hard to find in many local restaurants, my Wino hair on the back of my neck bristled.  The wine was hot!  So to this I say, "Room Temperature" does NOT MEAN 72 degrees Fahrenheit!!!!!!!.  Sorry for yelling, but a common mistake I have been experiencing lately is wine that is stored in the kitchen, living room, or dinning room and served at the temperature that is read out on the thermostat in the room.  One home had their wine racking nicely displayed right next to their FIREPLACE.   Here’s a quick reference for serving temperatures for wine.

White wines

Light, acidic                   43-48 degrees
Exotically aromatic         46-50
Full-bodied woody        57-61

Red Wine

Light, fruity                    54-57
Medium bodied             61
Full-bodied, tannic         64

Do you see anything there starting with a seven?  When my wine is hot, I no longer enjoy any fruit from it.  All I pick up are the tannins and the astringency.   Even if you must cloak the bottle in an ice pack to lower the temperature to the low sixties, I will not bitch, but don’t serve me something that was stored on top of your refrigerator.

Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.  I did have a dessert wine that I never tried before, which was well chilled and brought out the fun and flavors the wine maker intended.  I also tried a sip of a Chardonnay made in France, which I had tried a red wine from and did not enjoy.  Trying the Chard convinced me the wine is only worth the label, because I always get a chuckle out of seeing, “Fat Bastard” on the shelves of a store.

1999 Fat Bastard Chardonnay $?  Keep the label, ditch the wine, enough said.

2000 Anapamu Riesling   $?    Honeysuckle, and pear with a light-body, medium sweetness and an early finish.  Enjoyable for apple pie, but overpowered if you add ice cream and whipped cream.

 

November 24, 2001

“Delirium Tremens” – a delirious disorder of the brain produced by excessive drinking, and often marked by trembling, hallucinations of bugs crawling under your skin or convulsions.” Webster’s New Edition.  Thank God the 12 hours of sleep and the gallons of water stopped me short of the convulsions.  I plead the DT’s when I write so Wino John has something to do.  Just look at his last editorial note to Wino Wally’s entry.  Since Wino Wally is some wunderkind who attended the finest of schools and is a corporate genius, Wino John’s not spending the time editing his entries.  It must be the incoherent ramblings of the disordered brain possessed by yours truly. (by the way is it who or whom?).  For the Winos amongst us who went to college for a career path that utilizes your learning, I’m sure you won’t be able to sympathize with this entry today.  For those of us whom occupied seats in classrooms which have little to do with life, I often wonder if you get the charge I do out of actually being able to apply a college course to your current life.

Majoring in a subject that really does not have a use in Society, I learned as much as I could and graduated with honors.  I will leave the subject somewhat undefined since I think there might actually be 12 members of society who carry business cards reflecting my major, but they are not the captains of industry, political leaders or Scholars of this Age.  However, the deeper I get into enjoying the fruit of the grape, the more information from my college days becomes useful.  Yes, Winos and Winettes, I worked for the Center of Alcohol Studies, at Rutgers University and have a shelf full of text books with titles such as, “Coping With the Alcoholic”, Alcoholics in Society”, “White Collar Crime”, “Human Sexuality” (I just keep that one for the line drawings, there are some Saturday nights, I find myself leafing through chapter 12), “Is Alcoholism Hereditary” and “The Revised Basic Handbook on Alcoholism”(must have been written by a drunk, because after sobering up he had to revise what he first wrote about the Basics on Alcoholism-he did not Have Wino John as an Editor).

Never wanting to be too far away from my dollars spend at the school of higher learning, I guess I spent the past several days deeply involved in a Participant Observation Project on the four stages of alcohol abuse, and I must add that I successful remember hitting 3 of them, the question is did I get to number 4 and just don’t remember?  I spoke recently with a Wino Friend of mine who owns a print shop.  I asked him to print up some, “I’m Sorry for my drunken behavior” cards that I will start handing out at the beginning of the evening…

Anyway, I really just wanted to sit down this morning with a clearer head and post up two interesting Holiday items for you Winos and Winettes to be on the look out for.  I know Wino Wally is the wizard of Gadgets for the perfect Holiday items, but these two I have not seen on his list as of yet.

Item one is a gift Wino John may have some interest in, Wine infused Chocolates.  I have heard Wino John regal the enjoyment of Chocolate and a Big Ass Cab.  But then again Wino John loves everything with a Big Ass Cab.  This Holiday Season, Swanson Vineyards has teamed up with Vosges Haut-Chocolat to produce Alexis Estate Bon Bons.  This is a rich Belgian Chocolate containing a weighty Cabernet-Syrah blend that plays well with the dark chocolate.  To completely light up your palate, they have added a light dusting of curry powder, which brings it home.  Twelve truffles run about $30.00 and can be order at 888-301-9866

Item two I throw in for Wino Wally’s recent appreciation of the King of the Super-Tuscans.  Yes Winos, Sassicia has brought out a Grappa for after dinner enjoyment.  I have yet to see it in any stores in NJ but they say the uniqueness is it’s pale gold hue and delightful aromas of pear, honey, raisins and butterscotch.  I am not much for drinking the distilled pressings of pulp, pits, twigs, leaves and anything else that’s found at the bottle of the vat, but this one I will give a try.

Editor's note:  I didn't edit Bob's November 23 or 24 submissions.  I rest my case.

November 23, 2001

Well, a belated Happy Thanksgiving.  As I sit here this morning, my hands are still shaking like Mohammad Ali.  What the hell do you have as a remedy for a hang over?  Did you know, the screen oscillates when you’re hung over?  Wednesday evening, we had the monthly card games since no one wanted to get together tonight.  I started drinking then and haven’t let me blood increase in my alcohol level since then.  I was getting killed in cards, so the only thing to do was drink the wine I brought since the food vig does not cover the beverages. 

On Thursday, as it neared time for the crowd to arrive, I had to dull the senses and take the edginess away so I started at 1PM and finally turned my glass in at 10PM.  Today, I can manages to get only half the coffee I poured into my mug, to stay in the mug long enough to make it to my lips.  I have plastic wrap on the keyboard to prevent electrical shocks from the amount of liquid around my power strip for the computer.

I was up and down with the wine selection this year, at the last minute I opted for the lighter instead of the heavier Red and was not happy.  But it was totally my fault, so there is no one to blame but this shaky hand stick figure.  My pencil thin fingers have a hard enough time to hit the keys, now that they are suffering the ills of alcohol withdrawal; my index finger keeps getting stuck in the space between the keys.  This causes the computer to run out a line of letter like this: hggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg, then I need to keep backspacing away this error.  It has taken me an extra hour to punch out this quick posting, so I will get right to the wines and then collapse in the fetal position, on the floor, in the pile of spilled coffee, to allow my body to recharge like the lithium batteries on my cell phone. 

1998 M. Chapotier Belleruse $ (10.99)   This wine is one to keep around for the everyday drinking or the surprise visit for friends dropping in with pizza.  The fruit is full and luscious with and excellent balance of spiciness and tannins to make this flexible for many different situations.

2001 George Dubeof Nouveau Beaujolais $ (7.99)   Though I complained about the pricing, this wine delivered more than I expected.  Well-rounded fruit with strong hints of strawberry and raspberry, complimented well with an acidic component to deliver a quality wine.  I do not drink much cru Beaujolais, but this gives an indication that 2001 is a great year for Gamay.

1999 Hugel Gewürztraminer $ (15.99) Disappointingly flat and one dimensional, though I am qualifying that I bought this bottle in Costco and it was in a case that contained 1990 through 2000 vintages.  I selected the 1999 for see how fresh and snappy this wine would be.  Hugel is a major producer for the Alsatian wines and delivers a quality product.  Unfortunately, this bottle seemed like it was past its prime, not bringing much to the table regarding the interaction with the sweetness and spiciness of the Thanksgiving Day feast.

2000 Bonny Dune Vin de Glaciere $ (20.00)   A great way to end the meal, this wine is delicious with full body and sweetness to stands up well to desert but is not overpowering.  Enjoyed chilled and in desert wine glasses, this danced with apple pie alamode, pumpkin pie, and fruits and nuts.  A delightful treat for special occasions.

 

November 19, 2001

What the hell is going on with the pricing of Beaujolais Nouveau?  Two years ago, I bought my first bottle for a Thanksgiving Day warm up.  Today, I went to do some wine shopping and my heart fell through my shorts when I saw the tag on Mr. Duboeuf’s latest release.  Forgive my wine ignorance, but don’t we stomp these out, and bottle within minutes of the harvest so we can get a glimpse into the future of the full release of the Gamay grape.  Two years ago, I put down my five dollar bill and received change back with my bottle of George Duboeuf.  Today, they asked me for a second fin to be able to walk away with the bottle.  I was in three different stores, and two of them posted signs with a retail price of $10.99 discounted to $7.99.  I thought the world economy was in a recession. 

I was so depressed from the outrageous pricing of the wine; I had to stop in at Bacchus for a quick bite to eat.  Bacchus has revamped their wines by the glass menu with descriptions to help the uncertain.  I grabbed a glass of their new Petite Sirah that was delightful.

1999 Kempton Clark Petite Sirah $$ (32.00 rest)   Fruit, fruit, and more fruit with a touch of tannin to make this drinkable now with the hint of chocolate to tempt you to come back for more.

 

November 18, 2001

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but that never stopped me before, today was a Black Suit and Black Sweater day.  Wino John has been mentioning this since his 600 wine Super Tasting in West Orange’s world famous Manor.  I have a friend who was having a showing of her photographs at the Happy Dog Gallery in Piermont, NY.  What else could I don for the occasion except my best black suit and sweater.  Being in the “Artsy” mode, I brought along a CD I was given by my new friend, Faith Ventrello of Parador Cellars.  "Parador, Wino Bob?  I have never read your reviews on any wines from Parador Cellars."  That is only due to the fact that Parador currently does not have distribution in NJ.  They are a small winery, which has just released their Cabernet/Sangiovese/Tempranillo blend.  I look forward to the day I will be able to review the wine of my new friend, Faith’s efforts. (OK, so I know Faith through the exchange of several e-mails, but we Winos quickly befriend anyone connected to wine).  For those out there that do get Parador’s wine, let me know what your impressions are.  Or for those in states that won’t arrest you for getting wine shipped from California, you can order up a bottle through www.paradorcellars.com.

Faith has a good friend named Marilyn Scott who just released a new CD on Prana Entertainment called “Walking With Strangers”.  I felt the occasion and the title were befitting of my ride to the Gallery.  Though I am not an audiophile, I enjoyed the jazz stylings of Ms. Scott and thought that her melodic voice would be great to have on in the background during a winter’s night in front of the fire with a small group of close friends and a Big Ass Red Wine.  I’m not big on the love song thing since I believe Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” is a wedding song, but for those out there who enjoy love songs, this would make a great stocking stuffer.

The bummer of the day was the wine selection at the Gallery.  Though I brought home a stunning photograph entitled “Reflections”, I gave JeanMarie my card to be the Sommelier at her next Gallery event.  I passed up the White Zinfandel for Coca Cola, a wise choice on many fronts…

 

November 16, 2001

Just a quick posting of two wines I had recently for no other reason than to drink wine.  One was at lunch with Wino John, the other was a quick after work drink with associates in the Geek business.  Also, I do want to make mention that it’s great for the site to be active with all the new information and the emails I have been receiving.  Thanks also to the NNJWLA for recognizing Winostuff’s web page as "a fresh, funny look at the complex world of wine."  Editor's note: Who is the NNJWLA?

1999 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County  $$ (32.00 rest.)   I enjoy RS Cab, but this one is too young and the tannins control the fruit like a wife.  The fruit is lurking in the background looking to find an opening in the conversation to rear their head.  Even after the second glass, the dark cherry and tobacco must ask permission to visit your palette.

1993 Castelli del Grevepesa Gualdo al Luco $$ (28.00)   A pleasant find amongst the Super Tuscans at a great price.  Aging has served this wine well with the tannins dulled, the color bricked and the fruit having the authority to develop.  Mature black fruit and a spice flavor makes this quite enjoyable, though the finish does not hold up to other Super Tuscans.

 

November 14, 2001

Cutting edge?  Yes, cutting edge.  Not more than a week after I posted my review of Fleur de Cap, the Star-Ledger, NJ’s paper of record has an article by Rod Smith highlighting South African Wines.  The first winery they speak about in the article is Fleur de Cap……  

The terrior of the Cape wine region is experiencing major growth since 1994 when the sanctions were lifted on SA.  The area has wine history dating back to 1659 and boomed after Napoleon cut the English off from obtaining Bordeaux’s supply.  Then, politics ruined it. With trade sanctions and instability in the country, wine products shrank.  Cellars and equipment took a hit with little revenue to upgrade and modernize.  Fortunately for us, South Africa experienced political changes that have them participating in the global economy.  Pricing structures will be on the rise over then next few years as more Winos discover the great wines SA has to offer.

I thank Rod for supporting my views on the offerings from SA, and I invite him to drink some SA Reds.  The Pinotage and Bordeaux-style blends have many terrific flavored offerings that are reasonably priced.  Talk to your local retailer to see what’s on their list to be coming in over the next several months.

 

November 12, 2001

Well, well, well, Winostuff.com has had more fresh material added over this weekend than we have since the summer white wine contest.  Wino Wally is on a tear with his Golf links and postings in the guest book.  Just a side note, Wino Wally, I found a St. Andrews blue V-Neck sweater in the discount bin at Nevada Bob’s before they went out of business.  It doesn’t matter how great a tale I weave, once people see the way I swing a club, they wouldn’t allow me to fly to Scotland.

Wino John, your jingoism is refreshing.  What’s more refreshing is that I actually got to use the word jingoism in a sentence.  That was one of the words I had on a college exam that I thought I’d never use again, like the word Fop.  Yes, these two words appeared on the entrance exam to Rutgers Grad School.  Not only did I not get into Grad school, I never used the word Jingoist, jingoistic, jingoism, fop, foppish or foppery in a sentence, written or spoken, until today.  Wino John, I applauded you for your Jingoistic posting.

Although I did not drink any wine to comment about this evening, I will make sure I have two bottles tomorrow to add to my comments.  Good to see everyone is back to posting the fun and exciting times we have recently spent with the liquid that was found by the folks observing the crazy behavior of the goats eating the moldy grapes on the ground.  And thank Wino Jesus that when those people tried that fermented juice, they did not die, but rather discovered a key to the universe.  Keep reading, keep writing and keep drinking WINE!!!!!!

November 10, 2001

As we inch closer to Thanksgiving, I am trying to finalize my wine selections for the day.  The before-bird and dessert selections are not much of a problem, it’s what to serve with that damn Turkey.  Last year, I posted the question and heard from only a few of you out there, so I am still open to suggestions.  I am leaning right now towards the Rombauer Zinfandel, which I enjoyed at JR’s during a recent lunch with Wino John.  To ensure I was not missing out on the correct selection, I intend to sample heavily between now and then. 

Being a quiet Saturday evening, I decided to cook up some Turkey Tacos.  Yes, the great taste of greasy ground beef was replaced with ground turkey, not only fitting for the upcoming holiday, but also part of my new regiment.  Yes, Winos, I have gotten back on the horse (so to speak) and found the closets that the clothes hanging on the treadmill belonged in.

I tuned up the tread since it has to be two years since I last elevated my heart rate on that thing.  To be complete and to adhere to the advice of the still-stunning Suzanne Sommers, it is diet and exercise that has this fifty-something woman making me watch hours of QVC as she sells everything from jewelry to cookbooks.  Last night, she had on this silk pajama thing that was quite endearing.  As a TV junkie, Three’s Company cannot be on enough cable channels.  Chrissy Snow still is a Wino Bob fav.

Not limiting myself to Reds, I picked up a South African Chardonnay to go along with my Turkey Taco and right now it’s still in the running.

2000 Fleur du Cap Chardonnay $ (10.99)   A lime and citrus nose dance around the toasted oak bouquet of this wine.  Significantly acidic to be balanced with the citrus flavors.  The oak aging is delightful, but the body of this wine is surprisingly crisp.  No buttery, creamy body which this wine hints at with the nose and the first taste.  A clean crisp finish.

 

November 4, 2001

The sweet smell of burning leaves and fireplaces greet this fine November weekend and this is a time that a young man’s fancy turns to…. fishing?

Yes, I said fishing.  As November brings anticipation of Noveau Beaujolais, Thanksgiving, harvest moons, and chilled mornings, my father's family tradition of  heading out for a fishing trip has finally fit into everyone’s schedule.  Coordinating schedules of kids and grandkid, between the movers and shakers in the industrial world and soccer, piano, horseback riding, homework and the general nonsense of being a kid caused the summer fishing to occur yesterday!  

Growing up as little Wino Bobby, my father had a job that mandated that he take two weeks of vacation in late July.  Depending on who was going and the money situation, we spent a great deal of time at the Jersey shore.  In light of the fact that my father has only one interest outside of work, the shore was ideal.  Wino Bob’s father is a nut for fishing.  As a kid, trying to do things with my Dad, I thought my interests lie in the world of deep sea fishing too.  Finally reaching the age of maturity to go on a party boat (13) and since neither we nor anyone we knew actually owned a boat, I woke up before dawn that first day of vacation excited to finally hit the high seas and land that big prize-winning fish.  You must understand that party fishing boats are for those who cannot afford to charter, so the saltiest, in language and odor, adorn the boat.  I’ll never forget that first trip.  It was on a boat called, the Cock Robin (insert your own joke here, there are plenty to go around for all).

Why is it that people who cringe at waking up one minute before the alarm on a workday, bound out of bed three hours before sunrise to fish or golf?

The ride out to fish was like the scene from the Titanic when Leonardo and Kate are on the bow of the ship with the sun in their face and the wind in their hair.  I was Kate Winslet, with the spray of fresh salty water in my face, soaking in the beauty of the ocean and the joy of taking part in my first adult fishing trip.  The two hour ride to the first fishing spot was eye-opening as the land faded in the distance and the realization of how insignificantly small that boat was in the water.

The time arrived for us to get ready to let our rods out and in our best man-against-nature spirit, land the big one.  My line plunged to the bottom and the engine belched out a last puff of diesel fumes.  The sounds of water slapped against the hull and an occasional murmur from the people standing next to us broke the serenity of the deep ocean.  As I watched my line to catch the slightest indication that a fish was nibbling my bait, the rocking motion of the boat triggered my puke gland and I heaved out my eggs, toast and OJ faster than I could reel in my line.  I spent the remaining six hours, lying on a bench, unable to lift my head in fear that the next thing out of my mouth would be the lining of my ass.

So the tradition lives on for the annual fishing trip, and it is only the grand kids that kept us from getting into a boat for my traditional sacrifice to Neptune.

This year we went to the Fishing Pier in Keansburg, NJ, where the six of use crowded onto the 2200 feet pier along with two other nuts that were fishing in November.  The Pier owner only collected 50% of the normal fishing price since we were a sad looking crew.  On top of it all, the tide was on it’s way out and we caught dead low.  I am not Captain Ahab, but I do not think there is much opportunity to catch fish when you can see your bait on the bottom of the 18 inches of water.  The kids had a blast reeling up crabs that were snacking on the clam and sand worm buffet on the hooks.  The smallest two just wanted to catch the crabs to challenge themselves in picking the crab up and throwing it back into the bay.  Everyone came back with all fingers accounted for.

After returning home, I opened a bottle of wine to ensure I would not have a flashback of that day on the Cock Robin.

1999 Amano Primitivo $ (8.99)   Too rough around the edges for this to be a fun wine.  The fruit takes awhile to develop and most winos would not have the patience to wait for this one, unless you are stuck at someone’s house or too lazy to spill it out.

 

October 29, 2001

On the third Friday of every month, I do my best impression of Jack Klugman and sit at a poker table with 5-6 other guys to play some make-up-as-you-go card games.  The food vig is usually more than the money I bring to bet.  In an attempt to keep this ever-growing budget down and because every month the host increases the pastry purchases (Yes, I said pastry purchases at a poker game.  It seems sometimes that the crowd is more interested in the coffee rather than the game), I bring my own beverage.   Stopping at my local Home Liquors store, I saw they had a display for Wynns Conawarra Estate Vineyard.  Searching high and low, the 1997 Chard was nowhere to be found, so I settled with what they had.  In addition, I grabbed a bottle of their Shiraz.  I think the Chard is a gem and I held hopes for the grape that Australia greatly appreciates and grows well. 

As far as the card game, I won enough to cover my food vig and walked out with a few dollars, though I ate none of the growing platter of Italian pastries, nor did I bloat myself with cold cuts and cheese, nor did I drink anything other than the wine I brought so I guess I did it for the love of the game.  By the way, what do you call the game when you hold your cards up to your forehead so everyone else can see your hand and why is it that only one-eyed Jacks are wild?

2000 Wynns Conawarra Estates Chardonnay $ (8.99)    As I found out, this wine can age.  The 2000 is young but shows the creamy consistencey and strong structure that this winery consistently provides.  Buy this now and cellar a few bottles, this one will be better enjoyed in 2005.

1997 Wynns Conawarra Estates Shiraz $ (12.00)   This wine contains all the appropriate elements to be a solid Shiraz.  The nose far outweighs the taste of this wine; there were pleasant aromas of chocolate and dark berries.  The spicy black pepper, dark fruit and French and American oak infused tannins do not yet work in a harmony to give this a better rating.

October 26, 2001

Fridays are meant for lunches that extend just beyond the 1-hour limit.  This is based on the simple fact that 3 people cannot drink 2 bottles of wine with reverence for the liquid nectar in 1 HOUR.  For those non-wine drinking bosses out there, I’m sorry, but with the economy still reeling, drinking wine helps drive the economy.  I was drinking for the good of the country.  Looking for a new twist, it was a Zinfandel lunch.  This was a great comparison of Zins; too bad I had to go back to work

1998 Rombauer El Dorado Zinfandel $$ 28.00     This is a big bold wine very approachable with a bucket-load of berry fruit and chocolate overtones.  Smooth and soft with a mouth filling texture that makes this the wine you want to drink at the end of the night…

1997 Rosenblum Annette’s Reserve Zinfandel $$ (25.00)    This is a blend of 78% Zinfandel, 15% Carignane and 7 % Petite Sirah which gives this wine a nice red fruit and berry flavor, but a much lighter wine than other Zins.  This wine is a bit rough around the edges and has a bit of an after taste. 

October 25, 2001

The information I know about Champagne could fit into a thimble, and Wino John tells me that my wine knowledge is not much better than that.  But last evening I read an interesting article about what you Champagne lovers are in for.  Yes the world of Cult Champagnes is on the horizon with pricing that will make Dom look like a Blue Light Special.

Little did I know that Champagne’s beauty lies within the fact that grapes for the Premier Champagnes could come from a hundred different vineyards to get the right blending for consistency.  Since The Champagne region is so far north, the weather could destroy a crop of a vineyard with a simple rain.  But now, leaders in the Champagne region are designing cuvees and commanding 3 times the price of the Premium brands out of these single vineyard productions.  The move is away from the 100,000 bottling of typical champagne houses to designer 4000-bottle pressings presented in 100% silk wraps and appealing to the collector market.

The only Champagne I have enjoyed is La Grande Dame 1989 and 1990, but now my curiosity is peaked by the Screaming Eagle marketing style of the trendy Champagne houses..

October 21, 2001

My entire interest in doing this web page involves the special times that result from the uncorking of a bottle of wine.  Wine enhances the conversation with family and friends whether you are sitting on the porch in the late afternoon sun of an August Saturday evening; or you’re having a business meeting at a fine restaurant in a city you are visiting for the first time.  No matter what the circumstance, wine has become an important part that makes the times special.  Since I started pecking out these small, mindless entries, I have always shared a positive story regarding the situation I found myself in.  However, this past week, I had the occasion of sharing a bottle of wine with a family friend, which turned out to be anything but happy.

This person, I met when I was 9 years old in the late 60's when my older brother set his hopes and dreams on becoming the next hard rock band to storm the nation.  My friend was in school with my brother and played rhythm guitar to the tunes of Black Sabbath, Mountain, Cream, Blind Faith and the Who.  As my older brother realized high school dances and local Gin Joints would not pay for the house and car, he set out to get a real job and moved across the country.  His guitar player and I remained friends and spent growing up together as small business owners and recreational gun enthusiasts. 

This past week, Wino Rocker and I headed up to Bacchus to talk about an invention of his he wants me to help him market.  As we enjoyed a bottle of Red Wine, the conversation turned from business and laughter to his recent decision to end his 27-year marriage.  In this day and age, I figured if you toughed it out past 20 years, you just hang in for the rest out of exhaustion.  Twenty-seven years is the longer part of his life.  I guess it’s not all fun and games out there.  He just seemed to me to have the perfect marriage, always happy when we did things as couples, yet his wife gave him the room to buy his Harley and go on the bike rallies.  Though things will work out for the best, the bottle of wine we drank was more of a consultation with a therapist, then a liquid enhancer.  I’m sure I will drink wine on other bad days, but this was like a punch in the gut coming from the blind side.  I’m sure as the separation proceeds, there will be more Red Wine in Wino Rocker’s future.

1998 Bonny Dune Le Cigare Volant $$ (48.00 rest.)    Lots of raspberry and red fruit flavors in this wine with a good backing of tannin to give this wine character.  A mild accent of wood and earthiness.

1998 Oxford Landing Limited Release Shiraz $ (11.00)   Deep rich purplish-red color decorates your glass with this medium-bodied Australian Red.  A chocolate and oak nose greets you as you swirl this plumy, jammy, spicy liquid in your mouth.  Dark fruit and tannin dance around your tongue making this wine one that can rest in the cellar for several years.  Great with the medium-rare Ostrich in a mushroom-cabernet reduction.

 

October 17, 2001

In the spirit of getting back to normalcy, which has a very loose interpretation in my book, I took my own advice, since no one else has and decided to spend time with the Grape of the Year.  For those who fell asleep in class, the grape of the year, declared by none other than Wino Bob, is Syrah.  Not wanting to break into my precious few bottles in the cellar, I saddled up the horse and headed into town.  Hitching my stallion to the post, I took a seat at the bar in Bacchus, yes, my long lost home away from home.  It had been several weeks since I have been there, but I am back as a fixture at the turn of the illuminated bar.  It was like homecoming for the wayward son.  They cooked the fattened calf and we drank to old times.  All is well at Bacchus and, in fact, the clientele that frequent the restaurant is a Manhattan-style crowd.  With the difficulties of getting into the city, Bacchus has received an upturn in their business.

Though things and personnel have changed, the core team is doing well.  Event dinners and tasting have been less frequent, but they are bringing industry heavies in to develop their new dinners.  I missed the Rhone dinner and the Super Tuscan tasting but the NEW Super Tuscan section on the wine menu is worth checking out.   On November 4th, Bacchus is running a bus ride to New Paltz to taste the gems of Hudson Valley.  The trip runs from 10AM to 5PM with wine discussions, tastings and food, all for $45.00 per person.  For details you can contact Ryan at 973-439-3901.

One of the other features they are stressing is that their license allows them to sell the wine you enjoy with dinner by the bottle or by the case.  A case of Sassicia, I will be saving my pennies…

1999 Pariaso Springs Syrah $$ (38.00 rest.)   Full and firm with juicy black cherry and jammy blackberry.  Plenty of spices with a long supple finish denoting rosemary and thyme.  In New Jersey, restaurants seem to be the only source currently for this jewel.

 

October 16, 2001

I am not a person to drink a great deal of white wine, but last evening I grilled up a tuna steak that was begging not to be over shadowed by a big red wine.  I do not have a large selection of white wine, as you know, and the Chardonnay I buy is mostly from Burgundy.  When I hunt for white wine, I found that I enjoy the style of Australian Chardonnay.  I dug around and located a 1997 Chard, that I was sure would taste over-the-hill.  An $11.00 wine cannot be enjoyable beyond 2-3 years.  Wrong, bloated-liver one.  This wine was dynamite.  I tend not to buy white wine and the white wine I do purchase, I drink rather quickly, but this one could have stayed undisturbed for a while longer.  For heavy white wine lovers, try this one.

1997 Wynns Conawarra Estates Chardonnay $ (11.00)   With 8 months in French oak, this wine delivers a butterscotch, nutty, smoke-enhanced creamy wine.  Great fruit with peach overtones, but it is the weightiness and finish of this wine that is so impressive.

 

October 13, 2001

Has anyone out there enjoyed the food at the Tewksbury Inn?  This is a great place to enjoy a fine dinner.  Their wine list is small and eclectic but I happened to be having a lamb special (I guess I eat a lot of lamb when I go out).  Lamb is not a meal I would cook at home so I try different styles when I am at a nice restaurant.  With lamb, my favorite wine comes in the color RED and has the spiciness to hold up well with Bo Peep’s friend.  With temperatures hovering below the 60-degree mark, I grabbed a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and it was simply delicious. 

1999 Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape $$$ (58.00 rest.)    Deep ruby cast and a medium-full body taunt you when this wine pours into the glass.  Red fruit, pepper, cedar-spice flavor greet your palette; this wine has a depth and length, which bring you back to the cellar for a second bottle.

October 8, 2001

Bring out your RED!!! Bring out your Red!!! Yes, Monty Python and Wino Bob proclaim it’s time to bring out your RED.  Wino Wally told me that Reds were too heavy for the warm weather.  Saturday, I started drinking my last bottle of summer white wine, and then the temperature plunged to the high 30’s at night.  The air in the neighborhood was filled with the pleasant smells of fireplace smoke.  You know, that waxy, saw-dusty smell of the people using their fireplace for mood and effect, but don’t want to have to stoke the wood, tend to the embers and dust out the ash.  I fired up the chimney using old scrap pallets from work.  Yes, shipping pallets are great firewood, well dried oak.

As I settled into my comfy chair to the pleasant glow of the fire, I had to bring out the RED.  Wanting to be blanketed in the warmth of a well-worn robe, I pulled out several bottles of Southern Rhones.  When I need Red, my first stop in the weaning from those chilled summer whites is a Cote du Rhone Village.  I didn’t want to shock my mouth, so I went to my French rack and found those Francophiles that I missed all summer.  Now that the snap of fall is in the air and the moon looks brighter and closer than any other time of the year, and football fills the TV from Saturday at 12 thru Monday at midnight, red wine is flowing freely again in Wino Bob’s house.

1997 Wente Chardonnay $ (11.00)    Pale-yellow in color, with flavors of vanilla, apple and minerals, this is a medium bodied wine.  The oak brings a warm toasted taste, and tannin.  It does not deliver the buttery, heaviness of the Aussie and French Chards.

1999 Domaine de la Deydiere Valreas Cuvee Maurice $ (13.99)   A fun wine with great Rhone style with plenty of Grenache to deliver flavors of cherry, cedar, tobacco and bitter chocolate.  Mild tannin gives this a backbone for several years to come.

1997 Chateau La Verrerie Bastide-Luberon $ (11.99)    Dark cherry, smooth finish and medium body describe this wine.  Earthy undertones and a good finish, but not a long lasting one.

1996 Chateau Maris Minervois $ (11.00)     This wine lacks the character and complexity a southern Rhone wine should contain.  A wall flower with little fruit and a nose that faded quickly.  Will not be in the cellar this winter

 

October 4, 2001

As I have spent this past week trying to do the things I would normally do.  I started by attending the home opener for the football Giants and I proudly applauded the NYFD and NYPD as they stood tall on the sidelines and participated as honorary captains for the coin toss.  The opening ceremonies where so emotional, I had to lend my handkerchief to the woman seated next to me.  The songs and images on the Jumbotron tore at the heart of the 78,000 fans that all are 2 degrees or less from this tragedy. 

The issue I am having these days is with the marketeering of this tragedy.  K-Tel, Ontel and all you other late night infomercials, I don’t need to be told I must be patriotic by purchasing YOUR special, all weather flag set (all weather- does that mean plastic??).  You want to do something, step up like Annin flag company and donate flags to the early morning channel surfers.  Ontel is actually located 2 blocks from Bacchus in Fairfield, NJ.  This, unfortunately, has given birth to other companies trying to raise their sagging sales budgets by attaching a donation to their tag line.  I hope over the next several months we do not get into tragedy marketing as some unscrupulous hucksters have tried to do by selling “I survived the WTC disaster” T-Shirts on the streets of NY.

Sorry for the rant…

Traveling to Chicago for real work (until my resume is accepted from the ad on our front page) the process at Newark airport is a bit bumpy.  Two hours is a minimum for making it through the security points in the airport and observing the changed behavior of your fellow passengers is intriguing.  For those business travelers in the audience, was your experience something like this?  The lines were somber and watchful; no idle chat, no loud discussions or joking.  The metal detector was sensitive enough to have my filings set it off.  The feeling on the flight was that of attentiveness and caution.  In turn, both legs arrived before schedule.

The treat of the trip was dinner at Morton’s, I was not paying.  I had a look at their outrageous wine list.  Impressive with the collection of premier French wines, but outrageous in mark-up.  I pity the fool paying $46.00 for a bottle of Parallel 45 (7.00 RETAIL).  Does Silver Oak Alexander Valley Taste better paying $275.00 at a linen clothed table in the Cramped and loud setting of Morton’s in Rosemount?  I think NOT.  The wine we did enjoy was one I reviewed before and I enjoyed it just as much.  It is the Australian Holy Trinity with a $61.00 price tag (29.00 retail) We enjoyed value was well as flavor.  The Black and Blue Porterhouse was cooked to perfection but nine dollars for the side of mashed potatoes and 14 dollars for sautéed spinach was a bit hard to swallow.  I was glad to be a guest for this dinner and the business discussion was fulfilling, but I would not have eaten there on my dime, but that’s just me.

O’Hare has staffed themselves well to handle the extra security in a timely fashion and the plane back was ¾ full.  The travelers I observed were not just the business population, but families going or coming from vacations and friends heading out to see loved ones.  The additional time necessary for safer travel was met with cooperation and the grumbling that would have been heaped on the United workers was pleasantly missing; giving rise to tolerance for piece of mind. 

 I appreciate the time to ramble around the wine subject with the new issues that are facing us since September 11th.  I promise to make my next entry totally wine related, especially since I read the interesting description of the wine.com auction described in the NY Times on October 3rd.  Hoping to raise close to 10 million dollars to get out of the current financial crunch, wine.com only saw 600 of the anticipated 6000 bidders and the net result was truckloads of wine selling at 10 cents on the dollar.  Bargain hunters hauled in some winners and some over anxious novices overpaid for a few top name wines, but all in all winostuff.com has moved one rung higher on the ladder of web based wine sites.


 

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