Bob’s Winings
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This page contains Winings from the 4th Quarter of the year 2006.

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December 30, 2006

I figured I would squeak one in before closing the book on 2006.  We were invited to dinner at a friend's house who felt it necessary to tell me the wines she had on hand to see if they were OK for me or if I wanted to bring my own. While I was on the phone and she was rattling off the wines, I was thinking to myself how completely absurd and pompous and anti-winostuff that is.  I did not make her read me her wines on hand but she felt compelled to.  God I hope I haven’t become that self-absorbed in presenting an air that I need to know what wine one has on hand before I head there for dinner.  I actually yelled at her while she listed off the bottles.  If it ever really comes to that, I will resign my post as Wino Bob and bequeath it to someone more deserving.  The fun of this site is drinking whatever with whomever (except maybe Wino Paul- I would require he spend a certain amount on the wine he serves me when I visit him).

So I guess my New Years resolution is to be less wine snobbish, less heady with friends and drink more box wine.  That may fit well with the soon-to-be-announced 2007 Grape of the Year.  I am sure there will be plenty of affordable GOTY in various containers. 

So enjoy a bottle of bubbly tomorrow with family and friends and here’s wishing a happy and healthy 2007 to one and all.

2001 Zenato Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa  $ (19.99)    A smooth, silky blend of 80% Corvina Veronese, 10% Rondinella, 10% Sangiovese with lush plum, fig and blackberry flavors. Mild tannins and a soft finish made this one a nice wine for the price.

2002 Zinfandel Estate  Russian River Valley  $(19.99)   Chocolate and dark cherry flavors with a bit of extra tannins, should have allowed this one to stay in the bottle a bit longer.

December 26, 2006

All the preparation and in but a few hours, it’s over.  That’s the true hangover from Christmas.  This year held a special note of tradition.  Stalwart, as it may be, traditions do have beginnings and we took the time to slightly alter ours.  My Manhattan-styled younger brother offered up one, I the other.  One guess which included alcohol.  OK, I will save the suspense, it was me.  The basic staples for the meatless vigil were there in form, but with a slant towards the healthful.  The appetizers ran from herring as a good luck offering to the Gods of tiny fish, to the turtle-ensnared shrimp cocktail to the bottom-feeding (read that as fish poop) Jersey blue claw crab cake.  A peasant-style mushroom soup separated the swimmers from the crawlers.  At this point, I felt my native roots drawing me back to the motherland and I pulled a bottle of Belvedere vodka from the freezer and poured out sipping glasses for those interested.  Belvedere is made from 100% Dankowski Golden Rye, quadruple filtered for a slightly sweet, clean crisp flavor.  From this point forward, maybe as a lubricant to the herring, I declare vodka a Christmas Eve tradition.  Tylko ludzie glupie nie pija przy zupie.   Wódka to twój wróg, wiec lej ja w morde. 

Na zdrowie!

The pierogies were not fried with sautéed onions, so I had a bit of a tradition meltdown.  For me, a crispy pierogi, slathered in butter and fried onions is the only way one can prepare this item.  The vodka will take care of the heart stopping cholesterol.  

"Jedzcie, pijcie i popuszczajcie pasa"...

The final fish was a grilled sushi-grade tuna steak and baked cod.  This will be the one tradition change I can handle.  A move to fresh fish from the batter-dipped fried stuff will offset the move back to pan-seared stuffed dough.

Christmas day brought quite a dinner at home accompanied by a roaring fire in the living room fireplace.  I went old school and decided to burn the twigs and branches littering my property from the several nasty storms we had over the past few months.  Nothing better than the smell of pungent bark, smoky leaves, and an earthiness filling the cool air outside.  It could only have been topped by a blanketing of snow.  While I worked through the difficult process of fire-starting in my crappy coal burning fireplace, I sipped on a brilliant little GSM from Barossa.  This blend goes well with a crackling fire and supports a variety of snack foods prior to the dinner entry.

For the center cut fillet mignon, I opened a Priorat and found myself the only one partaking in this opulent liquid ink.  The wine offered a true companionship with the medium rare slab of beef, and the oak fire.  After dinner, I took the bottle to the recliner and popped on the Dallas-Philly game (Editor's note: Woohoo!!!) only to find time pass and the cold drool on my cheek break me from my deep sleep.  I guess that meant the wine was good, or at least a substitute for warm milk.  Forget Lunestra, bring on the Priorat.

2005 Whilster GSM The Black Piper $ (14.99)   A nicely put together blend of 38% Grenache, 37% Syrah and 25% Mourvedre presenting raspberry, black cherry and plum flavors with an underpinning of leather and spice with a soft subtle finish.

2001 Mas Igneus FA206 Poboleda Priorat $$ (28.99)     This region tends to be pricy for a quality wine but I liked the 70% Garnacha Tinta, 20% Carinena, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Syrah.  A bold big drinking wine with black fruit, chocolate and cassis balancing atop a tannic backbone and a jammy texture; one can only enjoy a nice side of beef with this one.

December 24, 2006

I would just like to say Merry Christmas to all, enjoy this special time with family and friends.  We never know what life has in store for the future so drink the good stuff tonight at dinner.  A special Christmas greeting I send out to my brother and his family in Arizona and my Harvard-educated nephew and his extended family.  The table will have a symbolic empty chair for you guys.  Last night, during a holiday visit, I met a new in-law.  Though he joined the extended family a few years ago, this is the first Christmas he is in NJ after a tour of duty in Iraq.  An inspiring and impressive young man who truly shared the good that he and his fellow platoon did while serving our country.  Most moving was his appreciation of returning home and understanding the fortunes we have living in America.  It was a pleasure meeting you, Dave, and thanks for your efforts.

Merry Christmas

December 23, 2006

The only thing missing last night was Robin Leach greeting us at the door booming, “Welcome to the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”  The unofficial WinoStuff.com Christmas, yes I said Christmas, damn it, party was graciously hosted by Wino Odd Job at his soon-to-open restaurant.  His place is a utopian setting of bar, restaurant and a living space complete with screening room boasting a 110 inch projection TV.  The four horsemen (WJ, BigBob, Wino OJ and myself) got together in one last toast to the Grape of the Year and for Wino John and I to celebrate making the top 5 in the localwineevents.com best blog poll.  I came with an offering of 1982 Kristal, that I hoped would be a treat of treats, and a 2001 Calon-Segur .  Unfortunately, the fizz was out of the bottle and the Kristal was a total bust.  Fortunately, Big Bob came to the rescue with a bottle of Bollinger bubbly which was fizzy, toasted-nutty and opulent in celebration.  We sat at Wino OJ’s bar and snacked on several of his company’s appetizers.  How lucky has my life’s path gotten when I have befriended a wine importer and a restaurateur/food importer. The only way this could be my final resting place is if they were the Barbie twins.  I guess there is still something to wish for in life.

With the champagne bottle hollow and the appetizer platters vacant, Wino Odd Job lead us to his private dinning area for a meal fit for people way more important than me and Wino John.  The first course was a stuffed artichoke.  Don’t ask me how he stuffed it, but it was delicious.  My immaturity blurted out the only line I know when he offered up the dish, it mighta choked Arty but it ain’t gunna choke Stymie. 

The main course was a Flintstone-sized prime rib of beef cooked to perfection, unlike the shoe-sole meat I offered my guests. Wino OJ presented a roast from the cover of Wine and Food magazine. Seeing Big Bob with the dinosaur sized serving of prime rib bordereded on the second of the seven deadly sins.  Wino John provided the perfect pairing, a 1992 Clos du Val Stags Leap District Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon.  The deep black fruit, buffered tannins and velvety finish was the Laurel to the prime rib’s Hardy, the Rimbaud to the Verlaine, the ying to the yang, the bone to the dead…. Sorry.

The 2001 Chateau Calon-Segur was too young to be consumed but showed a beautiful promise of a mineral-touched dark fruit, blackberry and anise flavor with a hint of floral on the nose. 

2001 Calon Segur (St.-Estephe)

So to the Board of WinoStuff and all our readers, I offer a Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas and a safe and healthy 2007.  And remember Jesus is the reason for the season!!!

Santa, caught viewing the pantiless Brittany Spears exiting her car.

December 19, 2006

I was never one to draw out suspense, so today, I popped into Bacchus at lunch time to see what the “Under New Ownership” sign really meant.  Mind you I am basing this on a one time lunch visit, so things might be different at night.  I asked for the 'wine by the glass' menu and noticed it was paired down from the last time I was there and spare one pedantic moment, they listed Turkey Flat, The Turk under Meritage offerings.  Far be it from me but I cannot believe this Aussie cuvee is a Meritage.  I selected the least expensive wine, a Bridlewood syrah and right off the bat, the barmaid- affable with little substance, could not find the bottle.  She had to elicit the aid of the manager to find my selection.  The wine by the glass pricing is still too high, but I pressed on and ordered the Angus burger.

The regular, he knew where the salt and pepper from behind the bar was located, ordered a burger also at the same time.  The difference was the cooking time.  Both came out at the same time and the barmaid-affable with no substance, handed the regular sitting next to me his burger, then walked up and down the bar twice trying to remember who ordered the other burger.  With only two of us ordering at that time and for some time after, the thoughts were not hanging long in the barmaid’s affable, but no substance containing grey matter. 

While I was eating, I asked to see the dinner menu and can say that the fish and chicken dishes have expanded, but the beef offerings seem expensive. Based on my experience at lunch, I fail to see a time when I will be heading back there.  I was unable to find out who the new owners are, but if someone does know, please email me.  It seems like they are fighting an uphill battle to make this work.

 

Jersey Bada Bing Christmas

I was traveling to South Jersey this weekend for a visit to Barnegat and flipping through the stations.  I came across a call-in show and the woman requested a song I had never heard before.  The song is called Jersey Bada Bing Christmas by singer Lucy Clark.  I was captured by her voice not really listening to the words.  So I googled the song and found the written lyrics at www.jerseybadabing.com

 pbl 

To hear the sultry sounds of Ms. Clark, click the link below:

http://www.ampersandrecordsusa.com/BadaBing.html.

So grab a wicker-wrapped bottle of Chianti and turn up the stereo as this Sopranoesque tune will have some tapping their toes and singing along, while others will be railing against the stereotyping.  Either way it will garner a great deal of attention and draw further attention to her seductive vocal stylings.  I am interested in hearing more from her.  So youz guyz from the old neighborhood might want to listen to this, if you know what I mean….

December 18, 2006

I don’t know which cause for this splitting headache is most accurate, a bottle of wine and a Cuban cigar or the Giants losing to Philly.  Doesn’t much matter as the thumping continues.   Wino John was cordial enough to invite me to the playoff implicationed Giants/Eagles game yesterday as our respective teams played each other for a spot in the wildcard hunt.  The stadium was spilling over with Eagles fans that made the two hour drive up the NJ Turnpike to root on their geriatric quarterback.  WJ’s connections were tailgating so we headed over, a bottle of wine each tucked under our arm, to be sociable and enjoy a bit of pre-game festivities.   The highlight of the day for me turned out to be the cigar and wine as the Giants continued their struggles to the jubilation of WJ and 40 per cent of the crowd.  When you can’t establish a strong ground game, when you can’t punch it in from the 7 yard line, when you can’t stop the third and long, you can’t go to the playoffs.  I hate to say it but there seems to be little urgency in the belly.  Mix that with Eli Manning’s desire to be the last minute hero without his brother’s arm and the recipe clearly concocts the ending we saw at the end of the Tennessee game and at the end of the Eagle’s game. 

So what does one drink at a tailgating social gathering?  I went with a cabernet sauvignon from Alexander Valley Vineyards signifying the end of their reigns.  AVV will soon be replaced and shortly the noble GOTY will be move aside.  WJ was the bearer of an E. Guigal Chateauneuf du Pape.  This firmly proves we are not into food pairing, nor do we pretend to be occasion-sensitive.  It all boils down to drinking what you like and letting the rest fold around it.  I preferred the Guigal with the turkey and provolone sub and I reserved the cabernet sauvignon for the roast beef and swiss sub.  WJ stuff with the turkey and provolone and dare I say he felt both wines worked.  Actually he enjoyed both wines and used the turkey sub to cleanse his palate between bottles.

So my head hurts, but at this point I think it is due to the Giants failures and the Panther’s collapse.  Today I got an email asking if I wanted my playoff ticket monies to go towards next season or did I want a refund.  I guess the front office in Charlotte can no longer hold out hope for a miracle. 

2004 Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon $ (15.99)    Cherry and cassis show well in this easy drinking red, with plum and cedar on the nose.  Unfortunately I drank the Cyrus first and then moved down to this one.

December 16, 2006

What happens when mega-wealthy TV executives get distracted from developing the next hot talent search show?  That’s right, they drop 6 million dollars for 160 acres in Paso Robles to become winery owners, and tape themselves hoping to become the next big reality stars.   Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe are British producers that brought American Idol to our television screens.  With money being printed daily by the success of the franchise, these two fickle Brits set out to make a small fortune in the wine business by starting with a very large one.  “Corkscrewed: The Wrath of Grapes” is the result of a network being convinced that lightning can strike from any brainstorm these two draw on a napkin. 

Unfortunately, this show will have stations steering clear of any future wine-related series, can you say PLONK.  I managed to watch three episodes last night that reran on FX.  The campy American Idol cameos from Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Brian Seacrest makes this more about cross promotion then the root of the subject.  A word to Mr. Lythgoe and Mr. Warwick, keep you day jobs.  You look more like the old bald guy that Benny Hill constantly patted on the head than edgy reality show stars.  The only ones being Corkscrewed are the Fox execs that signed off on this show, though there is one thing that this show will revolutionize, our perception of British dentistry.  These two do have good teeth.

December 15, 2006

I missed out on two wine events last week, both being held on the same night that I had plans.  The first was a night at the Park Avenue Club where they were highlighting sparkling wines/champagnes.  When I knew I could not attend, I did not bother to read up on what they would be serving, so I am looking forward to the new calendar regarding their next event.  On that same night, the Essex County Wine Society tasted Italian wines.  Again, I do not know what they offered.  I am looking forward to the upcoming event as I will be basking in wines of the Northern Rhone.  We will be tasting wines from Cote Rotie, Hermitage, and Cornas.  I am not sure yet what years will be included but I am interested in the 2003 as it seems to have gotten strong ratings from many sources.  The 1995 and the 1998 years looked good also but it would be the 1988 or 1989s that I would love to taste.  The interesting thing for the one person that might not be aware is that northern Rhone is all syrah.  Similar to Burgundy, this is a one red grape dominant region and this grape is one I appreciate and one I might be pedantic enough to bring my own Riedel syrah glass.  Yes, my stemware is mostly novelty except for the sommelier series syrah glass and my absinthe goblets.  This could be my make-or-break tasting where I stand up and loudly tell several of the other guests that their description of the wines are horse droppings, snapping me into a syrah trance.  My taste buds are becoming erect as I think about the lovemaking I will be making to the glasses of northern Rhones.  (Editor's note: ...uhhhh...  Count me out for this event...)

On to bigger and better things, a big thanks to those who have voted for us on localwineevents.com.   It is interesting that  Wine Library TV has a clear lead.  (Note to Wino John; we need to start selling wine.)  The second blog site is the self proclaimed original wine blogger on the internet, a San Fran based food and wine info site.  (Wino John what if we move Winostuff to San Francisco and sell wine...)  There seems to be a battle for most votes between those two.  We currently reside in 12th place and I must admit, our reader numbers to voters is anemic.  Wino John, did you call my mom yesterday and remind her to vote?  You know she’s not taking my calls since the group at the community center started calling her Wino Mom. (WinoJohn's response:  Your mom blames me for your present condition.  She is certainly not taking my calls...)

To those who have voted for us, I did want to say thank you.  This is for personal pride and bragging rights and so I might be able to do the Wino Dutty Dance in front of several of my blogging protégées.  Wino John, can your daughters teach me the wino dutty dance.  (WinoJohn's response:  My daughters will most definitely NOT be shaking their jail-bait booty anywhere near you!)

Stay tuned…..

December 14, 2006

I am such a 973er.  That’s the New Yorker code for wannabes, excited NJ folk that head into the big city infrequently and are 45 minutes early, can’t hail a cab, and don’t know how to maneuver on the bustling sidewalks.  I attended the GEMS (Global Entertainment and Media Summit) this past weekend.  Yes, the boyz of Winostuff keep getting closer to that big break in taking the content of this thing to the next level.  I believe top floor on that elevator will have us just breaking even to pay for server access.  Anyway, the Summit was exciting as the panelists and attendees are on the cutting edge of the future of how entertainment will be delivered.  Without revealing too much, we were treated to a short cut of a future movie titled “3 Days in the Life of John Lennon”.  It is a raw cut of a filmmaker who spent 72 hours with John and Yoko recording their very private personal life. 

So, I was at the conference an hour before the doors opened not knowing what the traffic would be so earlier is always better.  Not spending a great deal of time in the city, I took the opportunity to grab dinner with my city-dwelling younger sibling.  Since I was in mid-town, he selected a place that I thought was comfort food and atmosphere.  He emailed me an address and told me the place was called the Hudson Cafeteria in the Hudson Hotel.  Great, a cafeteria, Horn and Hardart, everyman food.  Wrong.  Ttrendy is more the term and a hamburger for $27.00 made this anything but a cafeteria.  The 973er in me twanged my stomach but my brother grabbed the check as I suddenly got WP, I mean T-Rexitis. 

The distance from the garage I parked in to the tunnel was only 7 blocks, but it took 55 minutes to travel as the other 973ers were heading out of the city the same time I was. 

I am taking this time to speak more about food since it seems several of the web blogs we are being beaten by in the www.localwineevents.com  poll are food and wine site.  Did I tell you I had a Hudson Cafeteria 27 dollar burger?  It was a burger on a bun with cheese and lettuce and tomato.  Unlike the db burger that sells for 32 dollars and is stuffed with foie gras, ribs and steak, this burger was stuffed with nothing more than ground beef. 

Getting home about 9:45pm, I had nothing more to do than open a bottle of red and settle in to the comfort of small town life, non-honking hornsville and a well worn couch and the skin of a 973er.

2001 Rutherford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley $$ (32.00)     Dark fruit runs into your mouth but does not flash and excite.  Simple nose of coffee and cassis dust the rim but does not overwhelm.

December 7, 2006

What do you do when business associates from Mexico bring you a bottle of tequila and some Cuban cigars as a gift?  In a goofy Jersey accent, you say, "Me Casa, Sue Casa."  I spelled it that way for pronunciation purposes.  Last night, friends associated with the dweeb world were in town and after our business meeting I invited them to the house for dinner as a thanks for the bottle and blunts.  Unfortunately, the meeting and their hotel was inconvenient for a drunken dinner drive home, so I was a bit baffled on what I should do.  Then, in a moment that Edison must have felt when he discovered the filament material for the incandescent lamp, I realized that if I invited Wino Paul, he could drop them off on his way home.  Brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!

With little time, I stopped into the new Whole Foods in West Orange (nice to see there was no picketing going on).  I grabbed some NY strip steaks, some cooked shrimp, some broccoli rabe and headed home to fire up the grill.  When Wino Paul is around, it’s not only a meal but the stories of his culinary techniques and frugality provide a bevy of entertainment.  The doorbell rang, my two Mexican associates showed up with a bottle of wine each and true to form WP handed me a bag he said was our dessert; a chocolate chip nut cookie for each.  OK, I bought two pounds of large shrimp and freshly butchered strip steaks.  The two Amigos brought tequila, cigars and two bottles of wine.  Wino Paul provided a two inch diameter cookie in an individually wrapped cellophane bag tied with twine... 

I pulled out two Cali Cabs from my basement and we warmed up with a 2003 Chimney Rock while I cooked.   Dinner conversation revolved around business and a decanted bottle of Silver Oak.  We retired to the TV room and I opened the bottle of tequila and sipped on this golden nectar as two of the three amused us with card tricks.  As it was only Wednesday night, I closed up the Mexican T and opened a bottle of Zinfandel bequeathed me upon their arrival as a night cap, last drink before my guests had to head out as they had an early morning flight. 

As the evening ended, I realized one great thing about Wino Paul, he’s a good driver, and I was free to polish off the third bottle by myself as they headed back to the hotel.  I wonder if he chauffeurs on the weekends? 

Reposado 7 Leguas Tequila- the six months in white oak imparts a young cedar and citrus flavor with a smooth smoky finish, great for sipping after a nice meal.

2003 Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (48.99)    Nice but young, save this for five years and the black fruit will be delicious.

1998 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley $$$ (67.00)    The fruit was ok but the wine was unimpressive compared with other vintages of this cult classic, disappointing from what I was anticipating.

2003 Five Vintners Zinfandel $ (15.99)   The dark cherry, raspberry and black cherry fruit showed just behind the mocha and toffee flavors. This one comes in at 14.5% alcohol.    

December 2, 2006

I don’t know if you are like me in this regard, but when I eat Asian food where chop sticks are offered, I feel obligated to use them.  The other evening, I figured when in Penang, do like the Penangians.  Or is it Penangites? Penaninanis? Penangonians?  Well you get the point, so I started out with dexterity during the appetizers and found myself having food slip through the rounded plastic sticks as the night rolled and the wine flowed.  By the end of my meal, I was one stick stabbing the chicken just to transfer it from the plate to my mouth.  I don’t know which is more insulting to the Penangarangs but I think next time I will be forking my food instead of embarrassing myself with the inability to close my index finger and thumb.

Last night we met up with friends we haven’t seen in sometime, Wino Jim and Winette Maggie.  We converged on Rusillos at seven and enjoyed a nice meal.  I had for the first time in my oh so many years, a pasta bed called malfaldo, or so it was written on the menu.  It is a noodle wide and thin with the wavy edges of a lasagna noodle.  The pasta was dressed with stewed veal, peas and porcini mushrooms in a light red sauce.  I pulled an Italian out of the basement.  (Sorry, let me clarify that.  In NJ, I could be in big trouble for putting it that way.)  I selected an Italian red wine from my rack for a change.  Geez, I might need another cab fest to purge me of all this other than cabernet stuff. 

It was good seeing them and the conversation was lively in the spirit of the election results.  I kept my voice to a low rumble and managed not to be asked to leave the restaurant.  As I am recovering from the consumption of the evening, I have the Rutgers-West Virginia game on.  This can be an historic evening for the Scarlet Knights and I wish my alma mater well.  If they take the game and get into the bowl mix, I am sure the NJ Turnpike between exit 9 and 10 will be repainted red with a white R.  I hope the coach stays, and recruiting improves and the Knights become a positive image for the Garden State.

Oh, and Monday night, Wino John’s ailing Eagles will attempt to stop Steve Smith and the Panthers.  The birds are just the team right now to help get the Panthers back into the play off hunt.  

2003 Zardini Vino di Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore $ (14.99)   This wine started off tight, acidic, acerbic, but after the wine had some time near the end of the bottle, it showed some rich sweet dark fruit, but not as bold as I expected.   

November 29, 2006

I have to tip my hat to Big Bob for his organizational skills and drive to energize others with his passion for wine.  Tonight was the second Northern NJ Wine Meet Up Group event under his leadership.  The kinetic energy is building as the attendee list grows.  From my end of the table, the group seemed to radiate lively conversation, compliment the unique cuisine of Penang, though Wino Odd Job’s red snapper inclusive of eyes weirded out a few, and excel at a variety of wine.  With everyone bringing a bottle and no two the same, we opened each and tasted judiciously at first.  As the ice broke and the crowd became more familiar, we circulated the bottles to and fro ensuring everyone had the opportunity to sample from all.  The only minor drawback of the evening was a restrictive seating, prohibiting large circles of social intercourse.  We need to find a venue that allows an ebb and flow of intermingling giving everyone the chance to socialize with one another. 

Participants came from near (Morris Plains) and far (Staten Island) and I enjoyed speaking with as many of my new friends as possible.  At one point, I squeezed out of my seat and ambled down the other end of the table where I heard Big Bob using the word terroir.  Ever the enthusiastic teacher, BB was sharing his wealth of knowledge and fielding questions from those enslaved by the seating.  Actually, from the little I did sit in on, it was an easy, open discussion of wine.  I departed when the discussion turned to Mark Phillips and the PBS fund raiser special rerun this week.  As you recall, after I watched that this summer, Mark and I had a heated email exchange over his claim of temperature and aging. 

The selections of wine we enjoyed with the plethora of appetizers ranging from roti and satay and spring rolls to the varying entrees of red snapper, curry chicken, mango chicken, et al. 

2003 Trimbach Gewertztraminer
2004 Finca Hoya de Santa Ana Monastrell
2004 Calina Carmenere
2005 Marques de Caceres Crianza
2006 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc
2004 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais
2004 Sula Chenin Blanc
2005 Gilliard Les Murettes Chasselas
2004 Renato Ratti Dolchetto
2003 Skovin Vranec
2004 Hugel Gewertztraminer
2000 Ruffino Chianti Reserva
2005 Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco
2005 Dr. Loosen Blue Star Riesling
Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Dry Riesling
2005 Hattenheimer Schutzenhaus Kabinett
2006 George Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

Proving dinner does not have to be the Pinot Noir of the movie Sideways, or the dreaded Merlot, I heard several people say they would not have tried a certain wine if not for the open bottle on the table.  That, to me, was one of the successes of the night, the ability to try something different, something you would never purchase for fear of the unknown.  I wanted to attribute comments to members, but once they read our site, they asked not to be identified.  I ask that those in the group who have not posted a picture, please do so.  It is nice to tie a face to a name and with permission, sign our waiver from legal actions so I may use your names in the future. 

The biggest success in my eyes was the ease of conversation by the end of the night as 17 strangers came together over great food and exciting wines.  I look forward to seeing the numbers swell for the upcoming event in January where I myself will be front and center to learn about that wine I so fear, yes, red Burgundy .  No one can think of Burgundy without thinking of the Drouhin family history and I look forward to learning from Laurent Drouhin as he imparts invaluable information about the grape and the winery and yes, the terroir.   

November 28, 2006

I had to pat myself on the back after reading the article in Variety that Joel Surnow, the brains behind 24 and a close friend of Rush Limbaugh, is currently producing a pilot for, get this, a comedic news show for Fox News Channel.  Did I call it in my rant about the election?  Now with the Dems in charge, the whacko-meter for entertainment television material is flowing to the brim of the cup.  The leadership power plays are the beginning of two years worth of proverbial eye-poking and rib-splitting material for funny red staters.  My phone should be ringing any day to be a contributing writer or sketch developer.  "Hello, yes this it the funny, conservative wine drinking stick figure.  Sure, I would be glad to comb through hours of congressional news reels and come up with snarky material.  This should be fun."  When the memo comes out with the programming date, I will post more.  Sorry Bill Mahre, the HBO people will not be renewing your show for next season.

Speaking of patting myself, I might have to move left and open my mind to an anti-war protest.  Yes, this hawk jingoist may be pulling out the olive branch and joining the peace-in.  Mark your calendars for December 22nd.  On that day, we can all bring an end to the war in Iraq if we join Global Orgasm for Peace

GlobalOrgasm.org Mission Statement

The mission of the Global Orgasm is to effect change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible surge of human energy. Now that there are two more US fleets heading for the Persian Gulf with anti-submarine equipment that can only be for use against Iran, the time to change Earth’s energy is NOW! Read more about the fleet buildup here.

The intent is that the participants concentrate any thoughts during and after orgasm on peace. The combination of high- energy orgasmic energy combined with mindful intention may have a much greater effect than previous mass meditations and prayers.

The goal is to add so much concentrated and high-energy positive input into the energy field of the Earth that it will reduce the current dangerous levels of aggression and violence throughout the world.

Global Orgasm is an experiment open to everyone in the world.

We hope the results will register on the worldwide monitor system of the Global Consciousness Project.

This is the First Annual Solstice Synchronized Global Orgasm for Peace, leading up to the December Solstice of 2012, when the Mayan Calendar ends with a new beginning.

No, I did not make this up.  Please visit their web site.  But I am left with a few basic questions.  First and foremost, being socially awkward, how do I go about finding a partner to participate in this blessed event? Does this give me the excuse to go up to anyone of my choosing and ask if we could do it to save the world?  In the interview I heard with one of the organizers, they want everyone to reach the Big O simultaneously to channel our collective energies into saving the world.  How in God’s creation could I do that when scant times I can coordinate with just one person, never mind millions of other peaceniks.  OK, not putting a great deal of stock in my finding a willing (non chloroform rag soaked dating) partner, can I fly solo and still help save the world from destruction?  Is my energy as powerful if I, uh, pat myself on the back as others are sharing their joint energies?  Will it upset the balance of positive vibes and funnel my efforts in the direction allowing the terrorists to win?  But the most compelling problem I see is that they want me to be thinking about peace while I am trying to salute the general.  I find the need to concentrate on Wino Babes a must to even begin the journey.  Now, in mid stream, I need to think of a no more war chant and President Bush and Dick Chenney and a peace talk and a treaty signing and a cease fire?  Now that’s exciting to a point, but not in this context.  I guess if you had a partner whispering in your ear, "Wow, look at that free Iraq.  Yeah, give me peace in my Sunni triangle.  Oh Shi’aite, oh Shi’aite..."

I don’t think it will work but I hope it does and any of you that orgasm for peace, send me the pictures.  But remember, this is only animal sex, not procreation, so use protection.  God forbid the sex for peace leads to a population explosion.   The organizer of this is a 76 year old bat so it ain't all that it seems from the outside.  But if at 76 she is still doing it for what ever cause and she has a willing partner, then who am I to make fun of her as I will be home alone in my dank third floor room, polishing the brass knob for peace, buffing the royal dolphin for peace, pulling the one armed bandit of peace…, well you get the point.

Remember Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.  The green fairy writes again……..

November 25, 2006

The wine on Thanksgiving was a no show, and I have pondered for a day and a half as to what I could make up or write about.  As you know, I think anything that touches my creative cortex is worth writing about.  But Thursday, nothing, nada, I was shut down like Michael Richards’ future.  Oh no, Jerry, I f&%#ed up big time and now the cat (reeeaarrrr) is out of the bag.   

Just think, if he had done that a year ago, no one in the audience would have had a cell phone capable of capturing video of that length.  Today, instant YouTube and the world knows all about it.  This technology thing has really impacted the way we get our entertainment.  What I found most interesting is my young, Harvard-educated nephew does not have a TV, but he and his wife will purchase shows from iTunes and watch episodes of shows they downloaded.  They are doing it to us, Jerry, taking away the need for the television.  We can watch what we want, when we want, right on our iPods.  All I can say is that for a man who made a career on entrances into Seinfeld’s apartment, he sure made one hell of an exit from show business.

Wanting to save the long weekend, I brought a bottle of wine to the card game.  I did have some beer I was going to write about, but I didn’t want to bloat up after all the turkey and stuffing this weekend so I stuck to the grape.  I was seriously thinking of bringing the absinthe and seeing if the wormwood could open up my mind for cards, but then at such a high alcohol content, I might just pass out or puke before the creative juices got flowing.  Wino Rocker stopped in Thanksgiving eve and cranked down a few glasses of absinthe.  That was three days ago and I haven’t heard from him since.  I emailed him and left a phone message, but nothing.  Maybe he got inspired and headed to the city to play the Blues.  Wino Rocker, live in concert, him, his bass and a bottle of the green fairy.

2003 Carmen Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley $ (9.99)  The region is descriptive of the taste, enough said.

November 22, 2006

I don’t know, but, Happy JFK Day?  With all the Hallmark greeting card holidays, I am sure there is a card series somewhere for the remembrance of that cold November morning in Dallas in 1963.  It is one of the period questions that everyone answers, what were you doing when you heard the news of the Presidential assassination.

Speaking of split ups, I just read something that made me chuckle in my room out loud.  I don’t read much celebrity news, unless it involves me and wine and a celebrity.  For those that are up on the tabloids, I guess this is old news, but the Bordeaux-loving Johnny Depp had a tattoo on his right bicep that paid homage to his eternal love for his old flame, Winona Ryder, reading “Winona Forever”.  As we all know nothing lasts forever and the ink mark had little relevance to his current life and it kind of makes it hard to tell someone else that they are the special one.  Depp ingeniously altered the tat to now read “Wino Forever” as a tribute to his love for the fruit of the vine and his appreciation for the educational/entertainment value of WinoStuff.com.  The man has class.  

So it's Thanksgiving eve and I just found out that my wine intake will be curtailed to maybe one bottle of wine.  Geekdom calls early Friday morning for a clear-eyed work day, a bit uncharacteristic for the geek world I survive in, but this one came up late this afternoon and I do need to try and be professional.  Also, I have been named 'designated driver' for the crowd.  Yes, the alcoholic in the crowd gets to carry the safety of others across the highways and byways of this great land.  With only one shot I will have to make it a good one. 

So Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and enjoy the company of family and friends.  Don’t be stingy and open the good bottle as time with family is so much like a grape vine.  Sometimes it could flourish, other times stress by outside forces, sometimes the harvest could be a bust, but in the end, a quality fruitful structure can emerge that is talked about and reminisced over years down the road. 

And a special Happy Thanksgiving to Wino Johnny, WJD, a true Wino Forever.  It says so on his right bicep.  

November 19, 2006

Last night we had the pleasure of dining with a client from the geek techno world at the local Italian BYOB Stephanie and Sebastian’s.  Though it was made very clear to me that I did not have to bring wine, I felt it rather rude to show up empty handed.  A quick trip to Shop Rite Discount (since our immediate area is void of Bottle Kings) and I grabbed a 2001 California Cabernet Sauvignon.  As this was our first time eating together, I was not sure of consumption patterns and I didn’t want to show up with my usual double carrier.  Fortunately for me our host came toting a three-bagger.  One bottle was not for consuming at the table.  Rather, it was a gift for some work I assisted his company with and he informed me to place it in the rack for a future dinner.  That bottle is a 2003 Bordeaux, the same one that Mr. Depp speaks so highly of.  I am speaking of Chateau Calon-Segur from the Saint-Estèphe region, a third growth in the 1855 classification consisting of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot.  Robert Parker rates this drinkable in 2010-2030.  I guess I have to update my will as I may be "earthy" by then.  I suddenly went from having zero Chateau Calon-Segur in my cellar to now having 2001 and a 2003 Chateau Calon-Segurs.  I am flirting in new territory, almost collecting and almost a vertical and…  Who the hell am I kidding?  I am neither.

Dinner was good, the conversation was great and we did manage to polish off the other three bottles.  The wine was a treat and I look forward to doing this again sometime soon.

2002 STERLING VINEYARDS RESERVE SVR BORDEAUX-STYLE BLEND $$ (45.00)    The dark cherry and black berry are central to this 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc.  Notes of spice and chocolate show later with a soft finish though it is 14.2% alcohol.

2001 Artesa Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County $$ (26.00)   Black fruits and a shift backbone of wood on this wine made it a bit contentious but it settled nicely and showed a nicely crafted wine. Flavors of nutmeg and cassis supported the blackberry with a vanilla finish and 13.9% alcohol.

November 17, 2006

Wow, I didn’t think things would start happening so soon regarding my election entry predictions.  Two news items this week strongly support my position in my post election rant.  The first is that the Democratic win has taken a toll on Air America already.  Five affiliates around the country have changed formats to sports talk away from the progressive talk.  Rumor on one leftie web site claims that as of December 8th, Al Franken is leaving his radio show.  There is little yet to support this and several other rumors have been out there that have not come through, so time will tell.  Things do not look favorable towards the AAR group and now they have little to hate so their ratings may sink below the average 0.7 share in the next ratings book.  What station owners are looking at is their ability to get paid from the bankrupt network and the struggle for advertising dollars based on very small audience numbers.  Clearly, the sinking ship will not look good on Franken’s resume as he gears up for his Senate run in 2008 and it looks like he will jump off the Titanic into one of the life boats usually occupied by women and children.  Could Bill Mahre’s poorly-rated show be far behind?  Bill stacks his panel with liberals so they can bash the current administration on ANYTHING.  I don’t see him or any of the ass hate media spending any time on the Pelosi-Murtha defeat.  The new speaker took the wrong avenue on the majority leadership horse bringing into question her ability to shepherd the factions in the house.  She is from the old world left, but the new wave are more conservative.  It seems like she will have a difficult time counting votes as we saw from the recent press meetings she held where she and Murtha said they had the votes counted in their favor.  Oops!

Now for the numb-nutz who voted for the questions on the NJ ballot without reading and understanding. Yesterday Governor Corzine, the wizard of wall street floated the idea that the current highways that are free could be turned into toll roads.  Yes, as if traffic is not bad enough and our wallets aren’t taxed to death, tolls on Routes 80 and 78 look like one of the ways he is seriously considering to deal with budget short falls.  Think about this, for those who travel west on Route 80 or 78 each night heading home from trying to make a living.  The lock down that starts at 3:30 will now run late into the night as tolls congest areas where non-EZpass drivers jockey for a lane to pay their toll.  The residents of NJ are screwed over royally and this is just the beginning of next several years of horrid wake up calls for our bank accounts.  Yet this does not seem to matter to the voters, they just don’t care.  They need to take a breath and read and understand and use their vote wisely.  More to come…

2004 Les Vergers Muscadet Sevre et Maine $ (8.99)   Muted fruit and a blasé finish made this disappointing, but I will not be deterred to find something worth writing about on this grape.   

November 16, 2006

I had the occasion to buy a NY Post yesterday while killing time for a meeting.   Flipping through the horrendous events that the papers prefer, I came onto an article in the leisure section dealing with the local events in the upcoming weekend.   The bar scene segment spoke to a topic I have long opined about, the pussification of the Martini.  It’s not your Bondesque manly drink any longer as I have  bitched about in a previous entry, but the latest being served by a downtown hotspot brought me to near retching reactions.  The hot drink this month is the “bacon martini”.  Yes, fat back, Porky Pig style ham and grizzle, Tennessee cured and floated in a bottle of vodka for several days to infuse that great bacon flavor into your, ah, alcohol.  What next, the beans and franks martini?  Or the country glazed honey ham martini?  Who was the genius behind this one?  I am thinking the Bud Lite commercial guys and the other white meat council joined forces.  You are not satisfied getting your heart clogging fat and grease from your breakfast meats, now you can get the same artery clogging results after a hard day of high pressure trading.  Ham, its not just for breakfast anymore. 

Never having placed my meat into a bottle of vodka (though as a precocious teenager I did have that one incident with the Snapple bottle) I am wondering if there is a grease layer floating atop the liquid and coating my glass.  I am telling you loud and clear, keep your meat out of my glass.  If I am not mistaken, that is only served in the east village, yes, that famous pinitini, which is far better than a tinipini.  For those wanting to know, it is the Double Down Saloon serving this most disgusting of vodka specials.  If anyone has sampled it let me know.

Other grotesque bastardizations of the sacred Martini:

  • Cucumber Martini

  • Pumpkin Dream Martini

  • Salt and Pepper Martini

  • Dirty Bird Martini

  • Hawaiian Saketini

  • Hanoi Lychee Martini

  • White Chocolate Martini

  • Truffle Martini

  • Tropical Sambatini

  • Volstead Martini

  • Tea Time Martini

  • Sex in the Bathroom Martini

Which of these are shaken and which are stirred?  I am saying you shake the dirty bird, cucumber, bacon, sex in the bathroom and pinitini….

November 12, 2006

I wanted the dust to settle a bit before I weighed in with my autopsy of the recent un-election.  With a palpable delight in voice and snarky posture, the pundits and talking heads of what used to be mainstream media implied congratulatory back pats to themselves.  The newspaper headlines trumpeted the results proving my point that except for a handful of commentators, the entire elitist news group wear their liberalism like a lapel pin.  The Matthews, Rathers, Finemens, Russerts, et al, had a smiley voice while expressing that both houses went against the President as a sign that the Democrats are back in the game.  Does one’s head get buried that far in one’s own ass to think that the Democrats had anything to do with this result?  I guess that the smug feeling at the dinners at the posh Manhattan eateries or the sparkling wine parties of the Hamptons has turned to a "better than thou" or "elitist" attitude.

Call me simple, and I will gladly accept the knock, but the Republicans handed the results to the country this election.  Wearing a label by media elite, the Never Do Anything Right President started too late and too soft-voiced to excite the middle.  The base was there and the two to one against the President, as reported for months, turned out to be more 55-45.  Many of the races came down to several hundred or a few thousand vote differences.  If two thirds of the country hates this President, where were the landslide wins? Why did several races not get declared until the next day?  The basic answer is that the moderates that came out leaned slightly left.   

The simpletons in the TV and Radio talk show circuit pronounced this the anti-war vote.  OK, so explain to me why the Dems vilified Joe Liberman because of his hawkish position on the war, and Chris Mattews repugnantly said to a Fire Fighter’s Union Leader on election night that Liberman was a “kissing booth” for President Bush?  Joe won big as an abandoned Democrat.  Did the people of Connecticut get the memo that LaMont was the no war candidate?  Why isn’t LaMont in the senate now opposing the war?

For months, I also heard Howard Fineman and many of his cohorts taut a huge margin in polling for Harold Ford Jr. in Tennessee.  It turns out that Mr. Ford lost despite all the pumping up he received from Don Imus, MSNBC, and Air America (though nobody heard).  Can I ask a simple question, why do Democrats say they would vote for Mr. Ford when polled on the phone, yet behind the curtain, click a lever or check a box for his opponent?  Aren’t we always told that this is the progressive party, the party of inclusion, the voting base that leans 66% for change, for an anti-war candidate, for all the virtues the Republicans lack?  Oh really, do you think Mr. Ford Jr feels that way today as he contemplates what he will do in January?  The Maryland voters also showed that the Dems came out to vote against Michael Steele.  It just seems the liberals' actions do not come near their rhetoric.

Let me not forget to congratulate my fellow voters in NJ.  Something like 2 million of the 4.8 million registered voters bothered.  I can only say, NJ deserves every butt end of a joke that the late night comedic world desires to throw our way.  Is the Democratic machine that gargantuan or are 65% of the voters that stupid to scratch beneath the surface in this election?  Stupid wins I guess.  First, can we stop the revolving door in the senate?  I predict that newly elected Senator Menendez will not complete his term.  The federal investigation will boil and Governor Corzine will be forced to appoint another fossil to ride out the time.  Is that what we want representing us in Washington, someone who will be preoccupied with ethics issues?  Why ask, you voted him in, that is one fantastic job.  Secondly, question one passed; how stupid is that?  For those who blindly voted yes without reading the question I will breakdown the message.  You just guaranteed additional taxes no if ands or buts.  Remember when Gov. Corzine, the wall street wizard told us the only way to close the 1.4 billion dollar budget gap was to raise the sales tax from 6 to 7 per cent?  That added revenue was going to rid half the gap.  But now you numbnutz voters gave the Governor the ability to take half that money, package it in a very small check and call it property tax relief.  So here is my question.  If we take half of the half revenue to close the budget deficit then where is that new money coming from?  Bada Bing, Bada Boom, new taxes.  Now, do you really think that money will bring our property taxes down enough for NJ not to be number one in that category?  Bada Bing, Bada Boom, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So congratulations to my fellow voters, we have a guy that cannot present legislation in fear of breaking a hip and a guy that will be embroiled in ethics investigations that will detract from him doing anything positive for our state as our senators.  Add to that a guarantee of a lighter wallet and Bada Bing, Bada Boom! New Jersey at its finest.

I look forward to the next two years, as the 'power is our birth-right' crowd (Rangold, Murtha, Conyers, Kennedy and Pelosi not to mention the elevated camera time for Shumer), 'we know best for you' crowd takes over chairmanships of the congress.  The next two years will be entertaining as the left tries to out-left itself.  There will be some casualties from this newly elected congress, Donald Rumsfeld and Ken Melman as a start, the 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate will suffer but sadly it will be Jon Stewart and Bill Mahre that take the biggest hit from this.  Mahre will suffer his second cancellation since he will have nothing to talk about.  He will cower from any issue seen as negative to the Democrats for fear of not getting invited to the head-up-their-ass (abbreviated as ASS Hat) elite parties.  Stewart will try to lampoon the left, but his half-hearted efforts will cause a ratings spiral and the once powerful non-political king maker will be relegated to guests spots on The Nick DePaulo Show.  I give the Democrats three months before the first unreported wheel comes off the bus.  It will take two quarters for the right wing bloggers and radio talk shows to drum beat the guffaws until the ASS Hat elite media finally cannot ignore the issue and smatter a mild story in the op-ed pages of the razor thin New York Times.  Finally, two months before the 2008 Presidential elections, Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman will have to faintly admit that the Democrats became drunk with power and shot their chance for taking over the White House.  By then the Republican base will have opened their eyes and unclothes-pinned their nose and sung back the moderates to their side.  My phone might even ring for a Fox version of the Stewart gig as no one currently working in Hollywood has the hairy sack to point out the comedy of errors rife in the coming years. 

This election might have helped my feng shui as my creative juices will have plenty of things to fill my wine and politics section.  Congratulations to all the winners in this election, but most importantly, congratulations to me for being the recipient of such a gift with both houses going to the leftest of the left even though the tight races were won by Democrats cloaked in Republican issues.  Conservative Dems handed power to the San Francisco Liberals.  I am glad to have a front row seat for this one.  

The Sunday shows will kick off the Dem love fest and tell you the President is over…….

November 11, 2006

I open this with a simple "Thank You" to the veterans of our armed services.  Your sacrifices allow me the freedom to write my inane ramblings.  I honor those that were crippled by their duty or laid to rest.  I love this country for all it has to offer and thank God everyday that I had the fortune to be born here. 

Now, in no way do I want to distract from my heartfelt message, but last night was the latest installment of the traveling Cab Fest road show.  I graciously hosted the affair.  The guest list was formalized several weeks back, specific to one of the wino’s preferences.  It started with the core; myself, Wino John, Big Bob and the permanently-wealthy Wino Odd Job.  Two other’s locked down their slots, then, with one day to go, came to the gripping conclusion that the mason jar on the upper shelf would contain their nuts for yet another night.  I reached out to the only other serious California cab people I know that prioritize wine over relationships.  Wino Marty and Wino Johnny (to distinguish from the one and only WJ) graciously accepted a last minute invite.  Oh yeah, the only way I could contact Wino Marty was by the conduit, Wino Stan.  You remember me writing about WS’s love for blending small high quality hand-crafted beer with a mass produced, watered-down beer to better fit his style.  The seven of us paid homage to the California Cab Gods as everyone ponied up two bottles of big reds.   

As the muscle grape deserves appropriate fare, I decided to grill a variety of meats and splash them around the table like a quasi- Brazilian BBQ.  I had a leg of lamb, London broil, pork tenderloin, short ribs and chorizo sausage.  Unfortunately, my mind was locked on drinking and foolishly I did not tend to the grill as I should have.  The London broil and the lamb were over-cooked, though they did work well as a patch for my loafer’s sole.  The pork, ribs and chorizo were tolerable.  The core was there at 7pm and we didn’t wait for the newbies.  We did warm up with the usual Big Bob sales pitch as he offered up the latest in the Torres portfolio, Celeste, a 100% Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain.  We didn’t officially acknowledge this one but enjoyed it nonetheless. 

The Fest line up was quite impressive as you can see.

The distinguished guests of Cab Fest III included:

2003 Cousino-Macul Cbernet Sauvignon- goat urine

2002 Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District

1991 Torres Mas La Plana Gran Reserva

2001 Kelham Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

2001 Quintessa Rutherford

2001 Cyrus Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley- Sleeper designate

1996 Forman Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

1998 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

1995 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2003 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2003 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

1996 White Hall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Napa Valley

1997 Plump Jack Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville- top honors

1994 Caymus Special Select Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Vally

By 8:15, Wino Marty and Wino Johnny arrived with their offerings.  Wino Stan, however, had to be surveyed by the Cali Cab police for twist off caps, white wine for blending, a re-gifted bottle or the like.  The biggest offense they cited turned out to be his TJ Max apparel.  The wine was totally acceptable.  He must have gone to a store and asked for help. 

It was a great night but I will admit, my tastes buds got drunk by bottle number 8 and it was hard to differentiate nuances between the subsequent cabs.  We have to develop a better formula since we drink in somewhat of an agreed upon scale upwards to what we feel will be the best for last.  By time the best gets around, I am usually large motor skill challenged and pronouncing every word with a Novocain flare of dental surgery.  Wino Marty and Wino Johnny have a serious grasp of their California cabernets and they can detail a wine to its vineyard dirt.  As Borat said, “Wino Stan, not so much.”

The favorite judged by the crowd turned out to be the While Hall Lane Reserve 1996.  There was a sleeper award captured by  the 2001 Cyrus for a wine no one was familiar with and which drank impressively. (www.avvwine.com).  The true success of the night, beyond the new friendships, great wines shared and many laughs, was that those that left arrived home safely and those that stayed didn’t puke on the carpet.  (Editor's note: Don't look behind the couch...)  With the Year of the Cab dwindling quickly, I vote that we mark the occasion with one more Cab Fest in late December as a fitting farewell to a true friend.  (Another Editor's note:  Thanks to all involved for another great Fest!)

November 10, 2006

Holy Mother MacCree!  Five days of the newly-arranged feng shui dank third floor and I have more to write about than time to write.  For special reasons, this entry will not deal with the election.  I will roll that out in the very near future.  Rather, my juices are flowing, creatively speaking, with wine stuff worthy of these sacred pages.  No, not the White House sacred pages, that is another entry.  Christ on a cracker, I cannot keep all this in my little pipe-cleaner head...

 Last night Wino John collected enough skee ball tickets from his wine purchases at the Northern New Jersey Bottle King franchise that the GM sent him a golden ticket to attend a private wine dinner with the northeastern wine-trust of Washington state’s oldest property.  So let me explain for those that can’t read.  Skee ball, I don’t know if that is just a Jersey arcade thing since I don’t usually hang out in arcades, but when you bowl this little wooden ball into these different valued rings, you get tickets that you can trade in for neat prizes.  I believe 250,000 tickets gets you a koosh ball key chain.  One can now imagine how much wine WJ has purchased through Bottle King to get a golden ticket.    While Wino John was brought in on a golden ticket winning coronation, I donned a waiter’s outfit and slipped in the servant’s entrance.  Lucky for me, after spilling hot soup on the person sitting next to WJ, I changed outfits and saddled up to the table of honor.  The  dais  hosted two very high powered executives from BK, Wino John, some wealthy collector that had to be taken to the hospital with third degree burns on his leg (which I quickly filled in for) and two managers from Chateau Ste Michelle.  For you that do not know Catholic history, Saint Michel is the patron saint of excessive consumption. 

Helen Heinzer, Ch. Ste. Michelle's NE Division Manager, played hostess, providing information about their properties and the wines we would be consuming during the dinner.  Admittedly, other than a dinner at Seattle’s Space Needle, I know nothing of Washington State, until now that is.  To be honest, except for Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon and some forgettable syrah, I have had scant folly with Washington State wines.  Besides, Big Bob proclaims that Oregon Pinot Noir is the only thing worth drinking on the west coast.  Sorry, I digress...

Hungry (for knowledge) I buzzed out questions to Helen and Beth until like a summer green fly, they swatted me away and turned to Mr. Bottle King (yes he does look like the Burger King, but has a bottle top instead of a crown) and said, “Who the hell invited this guy?  Does he drive Wino John’s limo?” 

So I sat and sipped and listened and learned and enjoyed some wines I know I probably would not have purchased on my own.  Admittedly, I dismissed Washington State in the past.  I envisioned it as a place I would drink my way through as I hit a rest stop between Napa and Inniskillen.  I guess it was the passion for their product and the affable conversation that has me rethinking a place in my cellar for some experimenting with Washington.


Ste Michelle’s finest...

We were greeted with a flute of Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Blanc which was clean and crisp and mated well with the cheese tips.

As we sat for the appetizers, a range of stuffed shrooms, calamari, shrimp, and mozzarella and tomatoes, they poured the Canoe Ridge Estates 2004 Chardonnay.  This one brought toasted oak up front with a subtle apple flavor on the back end.

The main course was married to two reds, the Cold Creek Merlot 2003 and the Artist Series Meritage 2003, both bringing value to the NY strip I was enjoying.  The Merlot was unlike the Merlots I shunned for years.  This wine travels with old world circles bringing quality structure and allowing you to work for the fruit.  The Meritage is a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 12% Malbec and 2% Petite Verdot.  I am not sure why Washingtonians opt for artsy labels.  If it were me, this linchpin wine would carry more of a dominant Washington icon on the label, like Microsoft or Starbucks, defining a brand.

My favorite of the night was the Col Solare, a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Syrah.  I am not a Washington State syrah fan but it played well with its peers.  I was told, and I will not quote the source, it was more on background, you know, information meant to get out but not wanting to be tied to the leaker, that this one is a favorite of very high level politicos in the other Washington.  Let me just say, if I drank as much Col Solare as it is rumored to be imbibed by a certain top official, I might end up shooting my best friend in the face also.  Yes, I understand there is a “bat phone” at the vineyard that glows red when Number 2 needs some more Col Solare to serve to dignitaries and hunting buddies to kill the pain.

Ste Michelle is the Riesling King, or Queen, I am not sure what would be the correct description.  We were treated to their Ethos Late Harvest White Riesling paired with dessert.  I could see this wine placed on the Thanksgiving Day table shaking hands with pecan pie, apple tart, soft cheese and dried fruits. 

I can attribute the following to Beth; she told me that Laura Bush specifically requested the Eroica Riesling for her 2004 First Lady’s dinner.  Laura appreciates the quality of this special wine and boy oh boy, it makes her move like Gene Gene the Dancing Machine.  She really lets her do down and starts telling Jackie the Joke Man one liners.  OK, Beth only told me Laura is a big Ste Michelle fan, I witnessed the rest.  OK, so I made some of that stuff up about the First Lady, allegedly.

The night was fun and the conversation lively, Helen and Beth are great representatives for Ste Michelle and I look forward to the phone call inviting me to next years barrel tasting.  Hey get your hands off me!  I belong here!  What?  No, I don’t have a golden ticket.  OK, Ok, I will leave on my own…..  I am not sure how the evening ended since I was dispatched by the restaurant’s security detail.  Pressing my nose against the window, I watch the rest of the Golden Ticket ceremony from the parking lot, empty-glassed.

   

November 6, 2006

It seems like I have been in a creative slump of late, my feng shui must be out of place.  I spent the weekend rearranging my shui, only to find out after two days everything ended back in the place it started.  The dark, dingy third floor room is pretty much unfengable, or unshuiable, or unfeng shuiable, or …..anyway.

So I am looking for some inspiration.  Hemmingway, I heard he was a pretty good writer.  Maybe if I start doing some of the things he did, I would be more writable, more literate, more write-worthy….

I went to a cigar shop and picked up an Arturo Fuente Hemingway, that perfecto shape with the tail, or tale, or storyline.  The smooth drawing, full bodied, Dominican Republic special.  And to cap it off, for creativity purposes only, I cracked open the small bottle of La Fee Verte Absinthe which found its way into my shaving kit on the way home from London.  Absinthe and cigars, breakfast of champions and the artistically talented.  So, is there a coattail factor? 

Absinthe-Robette-by-Henri-Privat-LivemontAbsinthe-Blanqui-Maquette-by Nover

Obviously not to this point as you can see from this drape entry, but I had my first sampling of the green fairy, the nectar of the Paris scene at the last turn of the century, not the most recent turn of the next century we currently are in but the one that turned before that.

I followed the ritual to the letter, cooling my water vessel, selecting the proper sugar cube, and of course dripping the water ever so systematically to louche the oils from the green liquid.  The smell is all anise and in the simplest terms, the flavor is super charged negro sambuca without the sugary mouth feel or aftertaste.  This is liquid jet fuel black licorice style. 

I haven’t seen dancing fairies or any other unusually small flying person, nor have I heard demon voices (other then the two I normally hear) telling me to stop working and spend the rest of my life drinking absinthe.  Unfortunately, I think the brand is not the top quality they claim and the sample size is far too small to push me over to the dark side.  I think it might be time to open up the big boy and see if finishing off the bottle will open my creative stumbling blocks.

 

An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.
Ernest Hemingway

BTW, please go out and VOTE!!!!!!

November 1, 2006

I need to get something off my chest, I need to fess up.  I have been over budget on the last few bottles of wine.  Last night, caught in the second of my three f-ups, I bought a pricy bottle of wine because of who made it.  I know that producers are a safe way to shop for wine, but the person behind the reason for my purchase was not the producer or winemaker, but rather the family who owned the winery.  My third and final f-up was the varietal, pinot noir.  Oh my God, what have I become, a high priced wine, pinot noir snob impulse buyer.  Good Christ, how far I have fallen.  I was in such a crazy mood last night that I walked into Shop Rite Discount and specifically looked for a bottle of Mac Murray Ranch wine.  The winery only offers two Pinot Noirs (Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast) and a Pinot Gris.  I went with the Russian River Valley.

Yes, Mac Murray Ranch is a brand of Gallo, but it was not the Wino Babe, Gina G, that pushed me towards this purchase.  No, it was the boyhood memory of the Fatherly Fred Mac Murray that helped raise me as I spent hours in front of the TV.  The twelve year run of pipe-smoking, aerospace engineering, rational advice-giving Steven Douglas was like a second father to me as his sons Mike (originally), Robbie, Chip and the later adopted next door neighbor  kid Ernie were going through the same problems I was going through.  Kinda.  One thing did disturb me, that Uncle Charlie dude was always giving little Ernie a bath and Steve never had a hot chick sleep over.  The highlight was when Tina Cole joined the show, though they never dealt with the young prepubescent feelings Ernie suppressed for his new sister in law. 

 
Original cast with the real Uncle Charlie and Mike.
Ernie was an orphan at this point.

 

 
During the series mid  run, Ernie was a neighbor. 
Then, the next season he’s a son.  What the hell is with that?

 

 
Ending cast with hottie, Tina Cole

 
Steve and Uncle Charlie sharing a private moment. 
Here Fred is working Uncle Charlie like a puppet.

Fred was at home farming the ranch since 1941 and after his death the property was sold to Gallo Family in 1996.  Fred’s daughter Kate is the current spokeswoman for the winery.

Image

I once read that Fred really didn’t like acting with the kids so he would shoot his scenes all in one day and they would cut in the scenes with the rest of the family.  He was overheard one day saying that the Ernie kid creeped him out.  So once again, a technical geek Steve Douglas, aerospace engineer, is tied to the wine world, posthumously albeit. 

2003 Mac Murray Ranch Pinot Noir Russian River Valley $$ (29.99)   13.8%  alcohol, dark cherry and mushroom flavor the glass with a hint of oak on the finish.  Nothing worthy of Uncle Charlie’s lamb stew.

October 30, 2006

I got a nice deal on a lamb roast at Kings yesterday, and figured the days of outdoor grilling are close to finished.  I fired up the Weber and slowly cooked the sweater meat (I wonder if I type "sweater meat" into The Google if a lamb will appear).  There must be some repressed message in this sweater theme that has occupied my thoughts the last few days.  The 40 mph winds kept the grill cooler than normal and lengthened the time to finish the little bugger.  That gave me plenty of time to watch the Giants and pick through my wine rack.  I found something fitting, at the cost of the sleeve of my tattered cashmere sweater. 

Did you hear the news clip of President Bush going on The Google to look at maps?  I always thought our government had secret satellite images that could find the license plate on a speeding car.  Why then would the leader of the most powerful country on Earth need to use The Google Earth to see the White House?  “Hey Dick, come in here and give me the address of your house and watch this.”  I wonder if WinoStuff.com has ever come up on The Google searches that GWB has been doing?  We might be getting an email telling us how much the President appreciates the Wino Babe.  Maybe if the President does email us, it will be about Wino John not updating his page enough.  I think if we do a Jenna and Barbara Wino Babe Twin thing next month, we might be hearing from the White House, or possibly the folks at the Secret Service.  I am glad he is using The Technology and having some fun with it.  Could The You Tube be far behind in his enjoyment of this great Internet thing?

2004 Epsilon Coalsack Shiraz Barossa $$ (29.99)   This 15% alcohol wine needs a bit of aeration before the plum and blackberry can emerge with spice, earth and licorice on the finish. 

October 28, 2006

I had to go to a Verizon store and the closest one to my house is in Livingston Mall.  I hate malls and a Saturday evening triples my distain.  But I needed the convenience for a cell phone accessory.  With the weather turning, I threw on a sweater my younger brother gave me several years ago for a birthday.  Cashmere is out of my league, fortunately not out of his making this a prized cold weather comfort.  It wasn’t until I was standing in the Verizon store speaking with a customer convenience associate that I looked down and saw two moth holes in the stomach area of my cashmere container.  Crap on a cracker, my Sunday go to meetin' outfit was shot to hell.

Since I was already in the God forsaken mall, I figured I would look around for something nice enough to replace this gem, but at something within my budget.  I nomadically wandered from store to store, going deep enough to see the sweater section, and then moving out before someone asked if I needed help.  With every sweater I liked, I would convert the cost in my head to BWPG.  No, really, Livingston is in NJ and the stores take good ole US currency.  At this time, my mind has an auto converter for BWPG or Bottles of Wine per Garment.  I find it absurd for a sweater to cost a northern Rhone and two Stellenbosch chardonnays.  Are you kidding me?  Its worth maybe two Cote du Rhone village and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  I don’t know, maybe I’m just a cheap bastard, but I could probably have the cleaner stitch up these two holes.  To settle my nerves from a night of dodging people in a crowded mall, I needed a drink.  With cash in my pocket from not purchasing a new sweater (I prefer wine to wool), I stopped in a wine shop on the way home and treated myself. 

The sweater I drank was a Petite Sirah from California.

1996 Foppiano Petite Sirah Reserve $$ (30.00)   Mellowed rich berry flavors with chocolate notes and a peppery finish.

October 25, 2006

The funny has left the building.  The authors of Weird NJ should spend less time on ghost stories and more time on actual events in our state.  I heard a brief statement from our ex-Gayvenator, James E. McGreevey, saying how excited and happy he is now that NJ will allow him and his live-in lover to wed.  Ah Jim, Jimmy, Jimbo, I thought you had wed, to a very classy lady that stood with you and gave you a daughter.  I thought that was the happiest day of your life when you stood before God, at the alter, and professed, till death do you part.  I did not hear any reporter saying there was a qualifier afterwards like, till death do us part, or my political corruption binds me so that coming out of the closet will be the only way to keep me out of prison. 

And the Kean-Menendez battle broils with mud-slinging.  Tom keeps driving home the point that Menendez has ethics problems and shady dealings with questionable characters and personally pocketed cash from a government deal and on and on.  Fighting back, Menendez says that if you vote for Kean, he’s just like Bush….. OK, where is the rebuttal, the outrage, the Dems sticking up for Menendez?  They are using the "if I don’t look; you can’t see me" strategy in their support of Menendez for Senator.  One day, some young journalist will document the raging problems in our state, but it really looks to me like no one cares.  Kind of, hey, it’s NJ what else would you expect?

 Don’t these guys know that our vineyards will never be taken seriously during competitions because the judges spit out their wine laughing once the name NJ comes up.  Bada Bing, Bada Boom, Tony Soprano has less to hide than the crap our politicians pull.  Bada Bing, Bada Boom. 

Lord, give me the strength to open a nice bottle of wine and watch this less than respectable election pass.  I have come to my fill of hopeful pundits, negative ads, liar candidates and biased news sources.  Fortunately for me, I found a really nice bottle of wine, a cabernet sauvignon from South Africa, now there’s a country whose politics haven’t jaded the world’s view on their wine. 

2003 Waterford Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (29.99)   Solid cabernet sauvignon bolstered by 5% additions of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Merlot showing a nice presentation of black fruit, and mint with balanced tannins and an oak essence at 13.5% alcohol. 

 

October 23, 2006

2004 Cellar Can Blau Montsant Can Blau  $ (19.99)    Nice price for the usually pricy region, deep black fruit and blueberry flavors with a silky finish from this blend of 35% Carignan, 35% Syrah, 30% Garnacha.  Give this one some air first as it comes out hot being 14.5% alcohol.

October 21, 2006

My up and coming wine drinking brother in Arizona recently sent me several articles from the Arizona Republic newspaper regarding the struggle of small wineries in the Sun Devil State.  It mirrors the current problems with those of our own wineries in New Jersey.  The federal ruling focused on an alignment of inter and intra state shipping has forced boutique wineries (less then 2000 cases) into the three-tiered system to find their way into consumers cellars.  The articles discussed the tremendous lobbying machine by the large wholesalers and the fact that they have no interest in bringing on a line of wine that is producing less then 7500-10000 cases. 

The question rolling around in my grey matter is if the state and federal regulations (ie taxes) are too prohibitive for a company to only focus on small producers?  What if, say, a financially successful group of wine web entrepreneurs branched out to focus on the wholesale/distribution side of a group of small, select specialty wineries.  The other question that presents itself is if this said entity could capture the interests of the retailers since supply is limited.  That begs the question of if it becomes a viable venture to establish a specialty retail shop only handling the guys that struggle to find placement on the chain store or mega store shelves.  This wonders into the thought that if my dank third floor room can be rezoned to boutique retail space. 

I like the underdog fight and David slinging that stone in between the eyes of the giant.  Yet it looks like the lobbying groups for the three-tier system are just too behemoth.  Unlike the mega wealthy Wino Wally, who can afford to purchase necessary palatial homes in states that do favor interstate shipping, I am stuck living in a state whose politics are so driven by a financially corrupt machine.  Pay-to-play will keep this little wino from being able to experience wines other than what the large wine gatekeepers want to place on our shelves.  I think I have to invite Governor Corzine out to dinner in a Caldwell BYOB and open that bottle of Callahan syrah I brought back from Arizona.  He’s an ex wall streeter, I bet he’s consumed several unique wines during the Dow’s march to record highs.  As a side note, is it just me or did anyone else see the news that the Dow closed above 12,000?  Let me repeat that since the mainstream media continues to suppress good economic news, the Dow closed above the 12,000 mark, never before in the history of the Dow has it seem this high water mark, why is that not front page news?

As for me, I am thinking if the small retail outlet is not the right business model, I might begin reading up on a wino web lobbying venture, anyone with me?

2001 Chateau Fillion $ (10.99)   Jesus turned water into wine, Chateau Fillion turned what should be wine into a watery acidic beverage.

October 19, 2006

With less than three weeks until the election, it seem that the mainstream media is doing all they can to impart their desires for results into the daily discourse.  I hear about all the close races where Dems might pick up seats, what I have failed to hear ANYWHERE is the chance of the deep blue, dare I say indigo state of New Jersey leaning towards a republican senator.  The business as usual ethics problems with Bob Menendez has the challenger Tom Kean Jr. even in a typically lopsided case.  Why has every newspaper and cable talk show ignored the fact that NJ is not handing an ethically-challenged politician a gimmie.  The funny thing is that if all six seats that the Dems are counting as theirs by decree, it is NJ that could keep the power away from the chest-thumping, we-know-better-than-you crowd.  Interesting to me is what it will mean if the talking heads and op-ed writers that strongly declare the house and senate will fall to Dems are wrong.  This would be the second election cycle they blew it.  Will they be held accountable?  Will they cry election fraud?  Will they call the majority of voters stupid as they did in 2004?

I think all the sound bites from all the talk radio shows and TV stations claiming voter machine concerns should be bundled and saved.  It looks like there will be several very close races and if the Democrat wins, will those voting booths now be working correctly or should they have to be challenged since so many liberal talk show hosts claim the Diebold equipment is questionable. 

The big question is if the Democrats do not take the house, will there be the same interest of wealthy progressives to keep pouring money into Air America Radio.  I wish I could run my business like their's where making money is not the issue since wealthy donors will fund me and I can just be their mouthpiece.  Check the recent bankruptcy filing by AAR on The Smoking Gun web site.  4 million in assets and 20 million in liabilities.  They have no revenue stream from advertising; they have survived on funds from wealthy Democrat activists.  If AAR cannot help swing the election, why is there a need for them to continue draining funds that could go to the party?

The right to vote is what is important, so make sure you get off your ass and make a difference or you have no one to blame for the outcome but yourself.  I will be closely watching my fellow Jerseyites' decision on what this state’s mindset is and where it wants to go.  

October 18, 2006

I would like to call this entry, "Dinner with the wine owner of Chateau de Campuget", or simply "Le Happy Daze".  It was my inaugural wine dinner with the newly reformed Northern New Jersey Wine Meet Up Group of Parsippany, NJ.  The power player behind this reformation is none other than Big Bob.  My signing up for the group allowed me to claim the title of assistant organizer, but I will openly admit I did nothing to organize, nor help, nor assist in any manner.  Our night was hosted by Franck-Lin Dalle of Chateau de Campuget, an historic estate in the southern Rhone region of Costieres de Nimes.

Franck-Lin, the namesake of our founding father Benjamin Franklin, bears the brotherly resemblance to Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) of Happy Days and the Andy Griffith Show, only with a French accent.


  Opey                           Dalle

 

Every time I tasted a wine I liked, I was fighting the urge to make the Fonz thumbs up sign and yell out, "Cunningham, my office now."

I cannot wait to visit the 1640 Chateau that has a unique history.  The Dalle’s purchased the estate in 1940 when Franck-Lin’s grandfather was recovering from a severe head injury incurred during his service in WWII.  The Chateau was occupied during the war until liberated by the Allies. 

As Richie, not looking old enough to drink never mind head up the US marketing for the Chateau, poured each wine, he passionately explained the varietals, style and methods employed to get the each small berry into the bottle.  Campuget offers two series of wines; their casual line, Cuvee Tradition and their upscale line, Cuvee Prestige.  Most prestigious of the Prestige line is that the pricing is generously affordable for the quality of the wine. 

  • Tradition Blanc 60% roussanne, 30% grenache blanc and 10% marsanne- unoaked, light, easy drinking white with peach and citrus flavors.

  • Tradition Rose 30% grenache noir and 70% syrah- my favorite of the Tradition line, crisp, dry, clean rose with flavors of raspberry, strawberry and dark cherry.  A wine for a summer afternoon.

  • Tradition Rouge 65% syrah, 30% grenache noir and 5% Mourvedre- black fruit and mellow tannins, spice and cassis makes this a good week day wine for drinking in front of the TV or for hanging with friends.

  • Viognier Blanc 100% viognier- a lush offering of tropical fruit and apricot flavors with well balanced acidity made this a great compliment for my yellow fin tuna appetizer, very seafood friendly.  I would consider this with a platter of oysters on the half shell or bacon wrapped scallops.

  • 1753 100% syrah- unusual for a southern Rhone winery to produce a 100% syrah, this is more traditional to Hermitage and Croze Hermitage of the north.  Black currant, cassis and spice on the nose with black fruit and blueberry notes with a simple finish.

  • Prestige Rouge 50% syrah and 50% grenache noir- not pitching for a bottle of this wine to end up in my rack, but this wine was my hands down favorite.  It drinks big with a deep palate of flavors.  Rich in black fruits with a polish of oak that adds a tiered finish.  This is a well crafted, quality wine at an impressive price well under $20.00.

Tops for my style were the Prestige Rouge and the Viognier, but I like them on the bold side.

Unlike the ritualistic ECWS, we didn’t poll the crowd, nor make anyone describe the nuances of the tastes.  Big Bob was in his professional mode with his matching tie and handkerchief and insightful from his visit to the Chateau.  Franck-Lin’s passion and Richie Cunningham resemblance is sure to have the wines of Chateau de Campuget proliferating the country.  The quality to value ratio is very favorable to these wines.

Next meeting will be an eclectic byob of anything but cabernet, chardonnay, merlot or pinot at the pan-asian restaurant Penang in East Hanover.  For all up to date information on this new wine group, or to learn more about the upcoming events, visit http://wine.meetup.com/66/ and see why we lovingly call him Big Bob.

October 15, 2006

I actually found myself perusing the wine news to read up for my next ECWS tasting.  Coming soon to my glass is a 2003 Bordeaux-in-a-bottle fest.  They selected 2003 since the critics barbed and tussled about their impression of the vintage.  My prediction is that the fight in Montclair will pale the disagreement between Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson.  I have yet to see the wine list for the tasting and as always the right bank versus left bank prejudices will weigh heavy on the results.  The excessive heat favors the cabernet sauvignon over the merlot so I am hoping there will be a good representation of left bankers.  As a quick reminder:

Bordeaux is most often separated into two parts –the right bank and the left bank. On the left bank, Cabernet Sauvignon rules, and the Médoc region hugs the west side of the Gironde River. Within the Médoc are the four top communes of (from north to south) St.-Estèphe, Paulliac, St.-Julien and Margaux. These communes make some pretty sought-after red wines. Below the Médoc, following the river as it turns lies the Graves region. Named as such for its gravelly soils, Graves is home to some top white wine regions like Pessac-Léognan (for dry whites) and the sweet wine regions of Sauternes and Barsac.

The right bank of Bordeaux is where Merlot and Cabernet Franc shine best. Merlot is typically used more in the blends, particularly in the surrounding satellite regions of Bordeaux. The heart of the right bank is the city of St.-Émilion and the wine region that surrounds it. Next door is Pomerol, a small but intense red wine producer. Other areas include Côtes du Bourg & Côtes du Blaye, Fronsac & Canon-Fronsac, and Côtes de Castillon. 

As one remembers from grape 101, the hearty, tough-skinned cabernet sauvignon can handle conditions much better than the less manly merlot cepage.  I will be bringing my Bordeaux boxing gloves, standing ready to defend my position and hoping they have some really expensive wines for us to taste.  I am only guessing but how could we not end the evening without a pour of Chateau d’Yquem.  In the meantime, since I cannot afford the excessively priced Bordeaux wines, I'll stick with what I can afford, a good ole South African Bordeaux blend.

2001 Mulderbosch Faithful Hound $ (20.00)   A food-friendly wine for dinner with a variety of dishes.  The merlot base on the blend makes it approachable with black currant, black berry and nutmeg flavors.

October 13, 2006

I never thought that I would have to write something like this, but I feel compelled as a public service.  There are two things I should post from time to time as a public service.  First and foremost, please drink responsibly, drinking and driving is illegal and could take innocent lives.  I know there may be times it looks like I glorify the mass quantity of wine I imbibe during a night out with Wino John and Big Bob, but I do not want to give the impression that driving under the influence is acceptable.  Please, leave that to professionals.

Second, and personally more important, being a drunk does not, I repeat, does not make one a KID TOUCHER.  Please, people who have abhorrent behavior, quit ruining it for us professional alcoholics.  Never once, after consuming two bottles of wine, did I ever have the urge for a young hairless, smoothe, milky skinned boy.  I have been falling off bar stool drunk, fall asleep in my car in my driveway drunk, crash on WJ’s palatial TV room wrap-around couch drunk, and never did I feel like feeling a little boy.  It has come to my attention, as my head was slumping at a bar, a young lad cried to his parents that he was now afraid I would want to play horsy ride with Uncle Buck.  (Editor's note:  Is this going to cost us anything in legal fees?)

And another thing, during my pre-comatose drinking, I never decided it would be time for me to start spewing insults of race, creed and color.  It is time for people that have other issues to STOP blaming alcohol for their inappropriate or illegal behavior.  You are giving all us happy drunks a bad name and we are now suffering societal retributions.  Admittedly, I have been accused of thinking I could sing, which in and of itself might be a crime against musicians, but its not illegal.  OK, sometimes I think I could write the next Great American novel and have been pulled over by the grammar police.  But I have never, nor have any of my drunken friends ever had a towel snapping incident under the influence.  So, to the Dr. Phil’s of the world, don’t let these assholes scapegoat the fruit of the vine as the cause for other deep-seeded issues because their father was absent, or their mother made them wash her back, or one might prefer staying in a dark dank third floor room typing on a lap top instead of interacting with people.  Forget the last one, I actually enjoy drinking alone in my little hovel.  

October 11, 2006

Last night was something of a 21st century Roman orgy, except for the fact that there were no naked people, simply a trove of wine and food.  And thank God the clothing was intact as my wine orgymates were Wino John and Big Bob.  Christ, the thought of that makes my stomach feel like spewing.   No, last night was the Wine Library Super Tasting at The Manor in West Orange, NJ.   With some seven hundred wines to sample, there was not a great deal of socializing, more like systematic robotic pour, sip, process, spit or swallow and repeat all the way through five rooms of wine.  The food was abundant and well placed so a carving board, pasta station, sundry dishes and dessert spreads kept the availability to dilute those not spitting from the long arm of the law.  I enjoyed the beef and lamb and sushi and fresh oysters and shrimp…..but the wine was the star.

There are too many to detail so I will share some of the high and low lights.  To warm my innards, I entered the first room, saw a bottle of Caymus Conundrum and swished and swallowed just to clean the funk out of my palate.  Then, with laser-guided sights, we located reds we thought would suit our style and let the wine orgy commence.  Out of all the pourers, I only found one to be a bit dickish in his attitude.  I didn’t get his name, but he was pouring at one of Allied’s tables.  I had samples of the Latour Chassagne Montrachet and a Silverado Solo Cabernet Sauvignon.  One of Allied’s tables was pouring BV George De Latour Private Reserve which I found to be a solid red that I cannot afford to buy for my cellar.

Then it was on to drinking.  Here are some I enjoyed: 

  • Chateau de Pez

  • Ramey Diamond Mountain District Red

  • Michael Bailly Pouilly-Fume Les Loges

  • Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Fay Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Tikal Amorio

  • Earthquake Petite Sirah

  • Beringer Private Resreve Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet/shiraz

  • Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages

  • Raymond Generations

  • Miner Family Oakville Cabernet

  • Pape Clement Rouge

  • Chateau Beychevelle

  • Dominus Proprietary Blend

Some I really didn’t like at all:

  • Swanson Alexis

  • Honig Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Barnett Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Wines I would consider buying a case of if I had any cash:

  • Trespass Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

  • Cims de Porrera Classic- Priorat

  • BR Cohen Olive Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Viader Red

  • Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz

  • Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Peter Lehman Barossa Shiraz  Eight Songs

  • Eagle Point Ranch Syrah

And of course, no orgy is complete unless you finish with a Cockburns.  Come on, what else would you expect, a Cockburns 20 year old Tawny Port, you gutter-minds, is how I finish a night of wining and dining. 

The Wine Library does a first class job and The Manor’s food is a fitting complement.  I enjoy these events for tasting wines I have yet to find or cannot afford.  Consider attending next year as it also benefits the Donald Richard Gavagan Jr. Fund with Project Kids Worldwide.  See you in 2007, I’ll be the one in the toga.

October 9, 2006

I found today’s NY Post article very revealing.  It;s about the wannabe failed sports talk show host, Keith Olbermann, now on the liberal cable TV station, MSNBC.  Though Keith’s self aggrandizing attitude is not supported by his low ratings, he considers himself a watchdog of the right.  Look, this might just be a bitter girl that Keith rebuked or she wanted to date him and he had no interest, yet the details that jumped out prove our point.  The liberal mouthpiece woos his women with Merlot.  Interesting, he hates President Bush, thinks America is the root of all evil and drinks Merlot.  Funnier is that he spilled the wine.  OK, maybe it was because this was the first women he was with without exchanging cash before the intimacy, or maybe he has performance anxiety.

Just trying to keep you abreast of interesting wine stories so I submit to you the Worst Wine Drinker of the Day - Keith Olbermann.

KEITH GETS LOW RATINGS IN BED

October 9, 2006 -- A BROWN-haired beauty who claims she had an unsatisfying one-night stand with Keith Olbermann is getting her sweet revenge - she's launched a blog to warn other women about the acerbic MSNBC commentator's boorish bedroom habits.

The bitter babe, who calls herself KarmaBites1, says she doesn't want others "to fall into the same trap . . . and I want him to feel some remorse for what he's done . . . He sets his mind on a woman, lures her in, and once he gets what he wants, he refuses to ever speak to them again. And I don't think he understands the damage he's caused."

A 30-something office worker of Caribbean descent, KarmaBites1 said she struck up an e-mail friendship with Olbermann, whom she admired, and agreed to fly to New York to meet him last May. She says he came to her hotel room and opened a bottle of Merlot which he "spilled all over."  Then, when "sexual activity began [in] less than an hour," Olbermann had difficulty. "I pretended he knew what he was doing," the embittered blogger writes. "I adored the guy. I didn't want him to think he was a dud in bed," so she faked experiencing ecstasy.

Next, he piled on excuses as to why he had to leave. "He told me he's an insomniac and that it's hard for him not to sleep in his own bed. He also mentioned he hadn't had 'company' in a while. [He said] he had an early meeting with the Yankees [and] he might be allergic to the pillows in the hotel bed."

Six days later, she claims, Olbermann e-mailed her to tell her never to contact him again. "I practically begged him to explain what I did wrong. I told him I deserved some kind of explanation for such a dismissal, but I never heard from him again." She said she's since heard from six other women who say they had brief sexual relationships with Olbermann.

She named her blog forthisreliefmuchthanks.blogspot.com, after a line from "Hamlet" she says the perennial bachelor quoted.

Olbermann's spokeswoman said she'd get back to us, but didn't.

2001 Snowden Lost Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (30.00)   The traditional flavors of blackberry, and plum with a touch of vanilla and cassis on the nose, but the wine lacks the length one comes to expect from a quality cabernet from the Napa Valley.

October 7, 2006

Well I survived the first ECWS tasting without knocking my glasses over onto the floor or Woody.  Like a moth to a flame, I was attracted to saddle up with the small number of members with which I shared my last dinner.  With all the Grandeur of the Royal Court, the Woman’s Club had a head table for the Co-Presidents and the member responsible for wine selections.  Doug, a past president of the ECWS is a wine merchant now, travels the world and is well versed in Spanish wines.  A Spanophile, a Span-enthusiast, one knowledgeable on region and vineyards and winery owners, Doug brought a nice insight to the tasting. 

The five of us at the table had to discuss our thoughts on the group of wines we tasted, and they were split in a manner to group them in styles.  Then, and here’s the interesting part, a spokesperson had to stand and discuss the impressions of the group on each of the wines.  Boy oh boy, I cannot wait for my chance to lay out my vastly irreverent opinions on the pomp and circumstance in tasting.  In addition, the group was polled for what wine they liked for right now and which we thought would be better 4-5 years down the road.  No fireworks, but there were two minor contentious exchanges.  I was interest hearing others comments as I recalled my impressions.  Some agreed, some were extremely different.

The evening opened with casual mingling and a glass of 2003 Naia Des, an oaked 100% Verdejo, nice for a warm up.  This was not included in the rating system, so I believe, like WJ and I, the society places a greater value on the reds.  I like what I am seeing.

The first three wines we tasted were:

  • 2004 Juan Gil- 100% Monastrell- $15.99, unanimously voted as crap.

  • 2003 Alto Moncayo- 100% Garnacha- $39.99- my personal fav of the three.

  • 2003 Finca Sandoval- 80% Syrah, 9% Mourvedre, 7% Bobal, a dash of Tempranillo- $35.99 nice blend a close second for me.

The second group compared two Riojas:

  • 2001 Remelluri- 80% Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano- $29.99- strong wine

  • 2001 Torre Muga- 80% Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Garnacha- $69.99- powerful wine with a lot to maturing over the next 5 years.

The third group was:

  • 2001 Les Eres Vinya Velles- 55% Garnacha, 30%Carinena, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon- $59.99- for a Priorat I was totally bummed, this one sucked.

  • 2003 Clio- 70% Monastrell, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon- $39.99- a clear winner for the night.  I think the cab made this a truly enjoyable wine for me and like a comfortable pair of old jeans to many cab lovers in the crowd, a steal at the price.

  • 2003 Termanthia- 100% Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo)- $179.99- this won best wine five years down the road, the tannins in this now were all oak tongue and groove planking.

We finished the night with a1927 Alvear Solera which is 100% Pedro Ximenez and was like drinking a caramel coated fig Newton bar, thick and richly sweet with raisin and fig and a sweet finish- $19.99/375 ml.

It will take me a while to get my opinions out there but I am looking forward to the November tasting as we will be firmly planted in Bordeaux and I hope to be drinking some bold wines.  I might even be ready to make my opinion known.  We are looking at the 2003s, woo hoo!

October 6, 2006

We are all familiar with the Wine Institute and the work they do.  Their's is to initiate and advocate state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible consumption and enjoyment of wine.

As we discuss industry people from time to time, I wanted to share a fact I was unaware of until last week.  The current President of the organization is Robert P. "Bobby" Koch.  He joined Wine Institute in 1992 as Vice President of Federal Government Relations and became Senior Vice President in 1996. He previously spent nine years on Capitol Hill working for former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt and former Majority Whip Tony Coelho. Koch is a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade (APAC), and a board member of the National Commission Against Drunk Driving, the Council on American Politics of the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, and the California State Society. He also is active in raising funds to find a cure for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Koch received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland.

That is all well and good, but Wino Bob, why are you writing about Robert Koch?  It is the fact that he is the son-in-law of President George Herbert Walker Bush, Bush 41, Papa Bush and the brother-in-law of the current President George W. Bush, Bush 43.  Don’t you get it; this man has the ear of two Presidents, if ever there was a time for policy to be effective, I would think now is the time.  If he were to have some hot wine pillow talk with his wife, Doro Bush Koch, I am sure we can get the shipping laws changed, a national grape and we could annex France.  I could see him having dinner at the White House and simply telling the current President that French wine futures are spiraling out of control and we need to liberate Bordeaux from France.  Hell we could do that in a day with a platoon of Boy Scouts.  We should go in there, kick some French ass and say, this is our 51st state, Bordeaux 90211.

You got to have some juice when you are the President’s brother-in-law, unless, as most in-laws, he is viewed as the unsuccessful one in the family because he never became President of the USA like his FIL and BIL.  Could our wine shipping future be paralyzed by a poorly executed mother-in-law joke? Something like him yelling out at the Thanksgiving dinner table,

"Hey Jeb, how’s your mother-in-law?”

  Jeb replies, “She’s an angel.”

 Then old Bobby quips,” Lucky you, mine’s still alive,” followed by an elbow to Barbara’s ribs and a knee slap. 

God tell me it ain’t so, one stupid MIL crack and our wine legislation is paralyzed by the evil eye from Babs Bush.  Shape up, Bobby, and use your influence and let’s get this interstate shipping thing straightened out; at least for us in New Jersey.  Thank you, Bobby-boy.

October 2, 2006

You know the sayings, "if a tree falls in the forest…"  or "if a bear dumps in the woods…", well here is mine, "if I enjoy a nice bottle of wine and no one is there to enjoy it with me, was it really a nice bottle of wine?"  Coming off the heels of a weak wine showing, I grabbed a bottle of red from the basement and drank up while watching the NFL package on DirecTV.  Could it be possible that the wine Saturday was so not to my liking that I liked this one more than I should have liked it?  This reminds me of a conversation I had with Mahesh of Wine Legends. He told me that often, people come into his store and ask if he has or if he could get, what they consider a great bottle of wine they had at dinner with friends or on a date or whatever.  He laughed and said that some of these wines are sub par, so it was the occasion or the company that made the wine so special.  As a sociologist by trade, I would love to do a follow up survey with those same people and see if they enjoyed the same bottle of wine under different conditions as much as they did when they were love struck or what not. 

Since I was alone and enjoyed the wine, did I just enjoy the company of my split personality?  Was I just more in tune with the style of this wine over the Sicilian I bought on Saturday?  Am I a lush and just enjoy 80% of all the wine I try and the Italian was in the 20% I will never enjoy? 

No matter what the reason might be, I can safely say that the wine I had last night, by myself, in front of the TV while eating a hoisan sauce dusted poached salmon was really good and once I looked up the price I paid, it made me enjoy it that much more.  I wonder what wine Jim McGreevey first enjoyed with Golan Cipal?

2003 Ironstone Petite Sirah $ (10.99)  This 13.5% alcohol wine gave me a full fruity nose of blackberry and plum and full bodied dark fruit and pepper flavor on the palate.  Nice for the price.

October 1, 2006

I failed some friends last night as my wine selection for our Italian dinner at Bella Piazza was uninteresting at best.  I stopped in at Shop Rite Discount yesterday afternoon and picked what I thought was a nicely priced, interestingly described Sicilian red.  The play on words for the name made me chuckle enough to drop the eleven dollars as a warm-up bottle during dinner.  It was my first time at Bella and the small restaurant was packed.  Good thing we had a reservation.  The room is small and noisy with little to absorb sound, other than your ears.  My homemade manicotti was of a generous proportion and tasty.  I poured out the bottle of Fourplay hoping to get a reaction from Wino Paul and Winette Alice, but the name nor the wine offered much to comment on.  I bailed quickly and opened my back up bottle of Torres Sangre de Toro to further the enjoyment f my meal. 

It turned into an early evening, maybe from the Negronis I whipped up as an opening cocktail, or the crappy wine, but WP and WA bolted right after dinner.  OK, I can only stand myself so long and need a break too.

2003 Villa Dievole Fourplay No.1 $ (10.99)   I was hoping this would be a prelude to a seductive night, but I fell victim to slick marketing. A red born of four Sicilian native grapes Frappato Nero, Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio and Nero d'Avola are layered subtly in a 25% field blend, but showed little fruit character.


 

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