Bob’s Winings
Tasting Notes from a ^ Beer Drinker

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This page contains Winings from the 4th Quarter of the year 2007.

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December 29, 2007 

(Editor's note:  While it may have recently seemed as if WinoBob has been derelict in his duties as The World's Most Prolific Wine Drinker Writer, he has in fact  been very dutiful.  That is not to say that he is not a derelict.  I leave that decision up to you.  I must confess that I, WinoJohn, am to blame for the apparent sporadic production on Bob's part.  As you know, WB drinks a few bottles every day, scratches some notes on a napkin, tries to translate it into English and sends it to me to be posted.  Unfortunately, I have been out of the country for 2 of the last 3 weeks and I have been extremely limited in my ability to comprehend/edit/post the incoherent emails that I get from Bob every day.  Top that off with the fact that my WinoStuff uber-computer just shit the proverbial bed and you can understand that it has been a struggle to keep up with the usual frequent outpourings of that which is Bob.  I now have but a few days to build a new supercomputer-class WinoStuff workstation before the January 1st announcement of the 2008 Grape of the Year.  I'm not sure that it is even possible.  In the interim, I will endeavor to keep things moving using a simple consumer-grade laptop.  I know, it sucks to be me.   Anyway, back to work!  WJ)

December 29, 2007

Is it too early to say good riddence to 2007?  Hey 2007, F@&$ You!  I have placed it in my rear view mirror and am not looking back.  My motto now is, "it’s going to be great in ’08".  What further salted my wound was the lack of a year-end WinoStuff party.  It seems the most successful of the crowd were vacationing internationally and I, the lone wolf, was left to ramble about my dank third floor room.  Depressed, I sat with a dimly lit lamp, in a beat up old chair self pinotfesting. 

My younger brother gave me two wine-related books to read, so I spent Friday night with an inexpensive pinot noir and the opulent writings of Jay McInerny.  Here we go again.  The intro is self-deprecating that he is not into the flowery wine reviews and he’s just a simple novelist who was thrown into the position of doing a wine column.  Then he goes on to recount his best dinners with the most powerful and prestigious.  He writes of the top quality wines from hard to obtain vintages.  Then brags how at a trendy NY dinner he blindly identified 1982 Haut Brion in front of an entire restaurant.  Brilliant!  As I always say, its easy to be in love with the best but we all cannot afford Salon, his favorite cult champagne that is priced at a weeks salary for me and limited in release.  I drank and enjoyed my wine for what it was, a $7.99 pinot noir from Pepperwood Grove.  It was a companion, a friend in torn sweatshirt and blue jeans that just stopped by to see what’s up.  Since this is not meant to be a book review, I will save the crafty wine description of Bright Lights, Big City fame for another day, but I have yet to understand what a "well-crafted wine that has a dance floor booty" means in relation to the liquid in my glass. 

Three quarters of the bottle got me through The Hedonist in the Cellar, as it was simply a compilation of his columns.  I started the second book, Wine and War as I finished off the bottle.  The cover had me somewhat skeptical as wine and war and Nazi appear in the sub-title.  I just got through the introduction and first chapter before dozing.  Two items hooked me.  Both books speak of Salon Champagne as being the best in the world.  Second, it looks like I will be seeing a new side of the Drouhin family as the first chapter explains Maurice Drouhin’s WWI heroics and his passion for wine and country.  Robert Drouhin, Laurant and Veronique’s father, is also profiled.  It would have been much better reading this book with a Drouhin Gevery-Chambertin instead of an eight-dollar California Pinot, but it seems an ironically fitting way to say good-bye to the year of the Pinot Noir.

December 26, 2007

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas/Kwanzachanachristmivist or whatever it turns out that you recently celebrated.  Because of the drive and potential DUI checkpoints on the GSP, I only had a shot of Pravda Vodka on Christmas Eve.  Being home yesterday, I had the opportunity to enjoy a glass or two of wine.  I had some bottles left from a prior gathering so there was only one new wine for me to comment on.  So here is my Christmas present to you, Vina Antigua.  Yes, a Chilean blend of sangiovese and Bonarda at a staggering $5.99 retail.  With the bottle and labeling costing at least a dollar and the shipping cost from Chile, there is not much cost in this wine, but as an inexpensive one, it is surprisingly pleasant.  My first taste had me shutter, with an acidic flavor-challenged impression.  But as the wine mellowed a bit, it softened and offered a decent wine.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a top-notch wine hidden under a cheap price.  It is a wine to drink with a bunch of friends and some pizza.   Or as my friend Mr. Parker (lovingly known as The Old Man in A Christmas Story, not any other wine critic named Parker) says on Christmas morning just before he tells Ralphie to look behind the desk, “The wine’s not bad...”

If you see the Vina Antigua, buy a bottle and give it a try.  It will not please everyone, but I am sure there will be a percent of you out there that will find it a good value wine.  Merry Christmas….

December 24, 2007

Here’s one for the books, let commercialism meet the religious meaning of Christmas.

So what is the meaning here?  Is Santa a Christian?  Is Santa actually delivering Baby Jesus to the manger in his sack of toys?  Is the young JC blessing Santa so he can get to all the good little girls and boys?  The good thing is that this 24 inch outdoor statue is made of durable plastic for years of enjoyment.  I could not find out who created this gem, but is there really a need for this?  Anyone own one?  Hopefully Santa is confessing to the Christ Child for giving me coal when I was three years old.  Don’t do it Jesus, let him twist in guilt for his cruel joke. 

Merry Christmas to those out there celebrating the birth of Christ tonight

2005 1919 Malbec Finca Noceti $ (9.99)   Now at least this one is a decent everyday drinking wine.  I enjoyed the smooth finish and soft fruit flavors of plum and blueberry with an earthy touch.

December 23, 2007

Friends don’t let friends drink bad wine, so I jumped on this proverbial grenade so you don’t suffer from the shrapnel.  Maybe that is too grandiose.  There might be Winos and Winettes out there that prefer wines with little fruit, a thin finish and awkward acid and tannins.  For you, maybe these are the buys of the year, for me and my ego-driven big, bold fruit palate, neither made a good impression.  My only reaction was a delight in that I did not serve them to anyone.  I am not shattered since both clocked in at under ten dollars.  With all the pressure and heat, they remain carbon.  (a clumsy reference to others that have been diamonds in the rough.  See, you have to understand the unique process Mother Earth exerts on certain elements in this vast planet…)

So I say to you, I warned you.  The wines listed below do not make my listed of value to quality ratio worth promoting, so I simply will let you know what they are.  It is up to you, you may see something more exciting in these, but for me, onward faithful warriors to a more exciting find.

  • 2006 Earthworks Shiraz Barossa Valley- the label is more intriguing then the Wine Library

  • 2001 Castillo de Anna Gran Reserva Valencia- a miss in presenting the character of tempranillo

You can rest assured that I will not be serving either if you show up at the house.

December 22, 2007

We had a great dinner last night a the Sergeantsville Inn For those unfamiliar with the place, here is a brief history of this restaurant:

The Sergeantsville Inn began as a private residence in the early 1700's in a small town called Skunktown. When the United States Post Office came to town, they would not legitimize the name of Skunktown and the town was renamed Sergeantsville after the Sergeant family.

With the addition of the two wings in the 1830's it became a grain and feed store. Before the restaurant opened in the early 1900's the building was also used as a grocery store, ice cream parlor, feed store and a pelt-trading center.

Although the building has gone through several owners, the original structure and additions have been preserved. The small stone building adjacent to the Inn was used as the town's icehouse. In 1983 it was then joined to the main building and now serves as one of the Inn's four dining areas. Three of the dining rooms-the library, Ice House and the Wyeth Room still use the original fireplaces.

Their menu and wine list have a uniqueness to them that makes this a place to go back to.  I had the venison London broil while several others had the lamb shank and the pheasant.  The portions are generous and the alcove called the Wine Cellar is perfect for a small party of friends.  Most wanted red wine so I selected a Kermit Lynch Cote Du Rhone as a lighter touch and the lesser-known Shypoke Charbono Napa Valley 2004.  The Charbono was rugged enough for the gamey hint of the venison and lamb but soft enough with black fruits, a touch of spice and vanilla.  I liked the setting of this restaurant, I liked the venison, I liked the Charbono but most of all I liked the company.  The wait-staff is gracious and friendly with an attentiveness not to be hovering.  If it were not for the fact that this place is an hour and a half from my house, I might have left a sleeping bag in the icehouse our staked a claim right next to the fire place.  For a special night out, I highly recommend you try this place, and if you can get Carol or Jo as your server, the experience will be first class.

December 18, 2007

Out with the old, in with the new.  Tonight I stopped into the replacement restaurant where Aria once stood.  There is a new place, a warm, welcoming placed called The Merchant House Tavern.  The décor is envelopingly warm, like a wool scarf on a cold winter’s night.  The bar is to the left and the dinning room is to the right.  I saddled up to the bar and met Barry, a soft-spoken friendly guy that gladly sampled a wine or a beer.  The food is comforting and casual with mac and cheese, pumpkin ravioli, cowboy steak or several different burgers leading the fare.  I liked the atmosphere and the vibe and I will be visiting this place for many upcoming nights.  The most enjoyable part of dinner was a 6-dollar a glass, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. San Nicolas Sophia Gran Reserva 2003 hails from Curicó Valley, a region south of the Maipo Valle.  I will admit that wood is good but too much wood kills this wine.  The fruit is there but the wood steps too prominently on top of what could be a nice little wine.  Yes a wine by the glass menu with 6-8 dollar wine, thank you God of Wine, though I don’t want to say his name as that is the name of an overly priced wine by the glass restaurant right around the corner.  So if you want something fresh and new without the Manhattan pricing, try Merchant House Tavern, 4 Little Falls Road, Fairfield, NJ.  Let me know what you think…

December 16, 2007

Here’s my Christmas wish, that 50 years from now, a documentarian for Discovery Channel unearths Al Gore from a glacier in Tennessee.  He will be clutching his Nobel Peace Prize and holding a Florida ballot from 2000.  As Al Gore pays some third world farmer to plant an acre of trees to offset his private jetting about the world, I have spent two days in the past four chipping ice off my windshield and shoveling heavy sleet and snow.  Al Gore even killed my big chance to be part of the “scene”.  Yes, the Manhattan scene.  A good friend of mine, the owner of Hellfish Films, was having a birthday bash, NYC night life style yesterday.  Not being part of the scene, I had to email my younger, hipper brother to ask what I should wear and how to handle a party that starts at 10pm in a bar downtown.  Couple it with the weather channel’s scare tactics of a foot of ice and sleet and snow and high winds and I was less than the party animal I could have been.  OK, so I’m an over the hill, suburbanite who’s clothing comes from TJ Max and I drive a 5-year-old Ford, not exactly NYC nightlife. 

The drive in to find a place called Matador was pleasant and as I aimlessly searched for a parking spot in the down town area I know very little about, the frozen rain started and I hadn’t even entered the bar yet.  Let me just say, the place was great and George has a number of entertainment industry players that I enjoyed meeting.  As I learned, the more people you meet, the less you talk about it if you want to meet more people in the industry.  More than one have bios on IMDB or are currently producing something the youngsters are watching.  My desire to get back to suburbia had me quaff a quick Yuengling, two diet cokes and thank my host as half the nightlifes hadn’t arrived yet.  The Matador serves up white and red sangria out of large glass jugs prominently displayed on the bar.  I saw they had a wine list but I didn’t go anywhere near it.  I plan on making a reservation their in July when the weather will allow me to be more comfortable about staying late into the early morning and taking the path train so I don’t have to worry about the drive.  Toro…

December 12, 2007

This goes in the “Only in NJ” folder but I needed to spread the word on something I just found out.  Sorry, not wine related but I am so intrigued with fun facts about NJ that I should start another web site and call it Weird NJ.  That’s right, it already exists, but this one made coffee shoot out my nostrils today when I heard it pronounced on the radio.  I wrote about the importance of NJ now having a State Fruit, the Blueberry not Jim McGreevey, though it’s your call.  What I missed out on is the fact that the Wall Street Wunderkind wanted to get on record by naming the Official Dirt of New jersey.  No, not the illicit nameless sexual encounters at truck stops on the NJ Turnpike by former Governor Jim McGreevey, I am actually talking about Downer Soil.  It seems that in 2006, with little fan fare, Governor Corzine’s legislative branch wrangled through a bill that didn’t even see the Senate floor. Passing unanimously, they declared the grayish sandy loam that occurs across the south half of the state, our Official DIRT.  Yes, our tax dollars at work for this


Looks like manure to me, smells like manure to me...  No, wait, that is the smell of NJ politics at its finest.  So next time someone starts goofing on NJ for being corrupt and the armpit of the east coast, I don’t know if I could muster much of a defense. 

DOWNER DIRT- The official Dirt of NJ.  Jesus people, what the hell is going on here?

December 7, 2007

I just had a little nip in remembrance of Pearl Harbor.  No, not that boorishly crappy movie Ben Affleck made, but rather the attack on our base in Hawaii.  I found a bottle of New Jersey’s finest.  I totally blacked out on where I got this one.  It might have been a gift, or I might actually have purchased it, not sure.  This is a blend from the Valenzano Winery in Shamong, NJ.  This is a blend of 45% cabernet franc/30% merlot/20% cabernet sauvignon/5% chambourcin.  It was the 2004 Cabernet/Merlot.  I got to tell you, and it is not because of the email invitation to the winery I received from Anthony Valenzano, I enjoyed this wine.  It might be the heavy oak but I am into wood.  I have sampled through many of the NJ offerings and I must be honest, there are a lot that should be growing blueberries instead, but this one had pleasant black fruit and a tannic backbone that kept me pouring into my glass instead of down the drain.  Worth trying again and other wines they produce.  I might just call Anthony and visit Shamong if it comes up on my GPS.

December 4, 2007

OK, so I am driving through the southwestern part of the beautiful Garden State, I was on route 130 trying to get back to 295 and civilization.  I didn’t have my GPS so I turned into the only place that had cars and activity.  It was a local bar/  (Come on..., my truck finds them automatically.)  I knew if I didn’t get a copy of the menu, you would think I was making this one up, but the place I stopped was Bung’s Tavern.

I can only imagine how this place got its name originally.  I guess someone looked into that hole in the barrel and after having two other ideas, decided that it would make a great name for a gathering place.  I can hear the locals now; “Meet you at the Bung at 8?”  “I was wondering if next Saturday night you would go to the Bung with me?”  And think of their poor softball team.  “Hey Arty, forget about giving up those two homeruns.  Let’s go drown our sorrows at the Bung.” 

How fitting is their catch phrase, “Where Friends Meet”?  I am not even going the simple route that they don’t have a front door so you have to enter in the rear.  Or if someone asks you if they can 'push your stool in', there is an entirely different meaning than up in northern NJ.  So if you are near Florence, visit her most famous of places, The Bung.

December 3, 2007

I am starting the slide into home for 2007 with informative material on the positives of drinking beer.  Our site is world renown for its information on the medical benefits of wine.  I do have a small page on beer and thought everyone should be aware of the medical benefits of the suds.  I found the following article from the Innsbruck Biocenter that has me rethinking my remedy for pain after a weekend of raking leaves.  I call it Asbeerprin.  It seems that there are anti-inflammatory benefits from the compounds in beer and all but one night a month I want to be uninflammatory.  It has me thinking a beer aperitif followed by a chardonnay and then several glasses of red wine and I will have the body of a seventeen year old.  (Insert your own jokes here; come on it’s a gimme).

Scientists at Innsbruck Medical University have succeeded in demonstrating the anti-inflammatory effect of beer extracts. In vitro experiments conducted at the Division of Biological Chemistry at the Innsbruck Biocenter by Prof. Dietmar Fuchs and his team on peripheral mononuclear blood cells show that beer extracts block interferon-gamma-induced chemical processes.

Interferon-gamma is one of the most important messengers in inflammatory response and is mainly produced as part of the cellular immune response. Beer extracts inhibit, among other things, the production of neopterin and the degradation of tryptophan by suppressing T-cell response. This suppression might be connected with the calming effect of beer since its normalizing effect on the tryptophan balance improves the availability of the "happiness hormone" serotonin.

Alcohol-free beer works just as well

The metabolic paths affected by beer extracts are closely linked with the pathogenesis of chronic diseases in particular. It seems that the ingredients of beer have the potential to have a positive impact on such diseases. The effect resembles that of wine but also that of green as well as black tea, which were studied in Innsbruck and elsewhere a few years ago. The health enhancing effect of such beverages, especially of red wine and green tea, have been known for some time. Of particular interest is a beneficial impact on coronary heart diseases. On the basis of our new findings, beer must be added to the list of beverages with potentially anti-inflammatory components, Prof. Fuchs explained. As with wine; this must of course be weighed against the negative effects and dangers of drinking alcohol. The effect of the beer extracts discovered in Innsbruck, however, is not only very similar in all tested types of beer but also unrelated to their alcohol content. The effects could indeed be observed on extracts of alcohol-free beers, our findings must therefore not be understood as an encouragement to drink alcohol concluded professor Fuchs.

November 28, 2007

I was excited to see my friend, Richard Dorchak- owner of the Cloverleaf Tavern in Caldwell in the newspaper today, until I read the article.  As you can see from the picture, the Cloverleaf is a great beer pub with their own label being made by local Fairfield brewery, Cricket Hill.   Anytime I want to expand my specialty beer catalog, I saddle up to the bar and order something I haven’t tried before. 

New Jersey has just taken the first step towards friends suing friends if caught at a DUI stop.  The step right now is that the police will be asking where you had your last drink and they will be recording the name of the establishment.  If you thought EZ Pass was Big Brother, think about this.  A host of innocent bars and restaurants may become the "go to" names.  People might want to hide drinking at or with someone you don’t want your significant other to find out about, especially if it leads to you appearing in court.  Do I say I was at the well-known Cougar Bar, or the neighborhood beer joint?  Do I say I was having beer or at the trendy nightclub doing the Wino Bob dance? 

Soon, the question will go from what bar were you at to whose house were you at and give me their address.  I see it now, this database will soon include the home addresses of private citizens and then the cops will be checking the frequency of drinking at your house.  Where will it stop?  When you lose the title to your home because you served too many people in one month at your home?  I am sure some lawyer will subpoena these records during an ugly divorce case to prove a host of things from unfit behavior to lying or cheating to you must be one lonely son-of-a-bitch. 

Read below for yourself, but think about what could come of this.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The state of New Jersey has a question for motorists stopped on suspicion of drunken driving: Where did you have your last drink?

Police must send the answers to state investigators looking for bars and restaurants where libations flow too freely.

New Jersey is the latest jurisdiction to adopt the tactic. This year, Texas started a smaller program, and Boulder, Colo., used last-drink data to get bars to be more careful about whom they serve. At year's end, the Washington State Patrol will publish its annual list of top "last drink" locations.

Jerry Fischer, director of the New Jersey Alcoholic Beverage Control agency, says the "Last Drink Initiative" allows his 22 investigators to cover the state's 10,000 licensed establishments more efficiently by focusing on watering holes repeatedly named as a last port of call.

"We've created an electronic database that allows us to identify problem locations that we otherwise would not have seen," he says. "Now we can see the patterns."


New Jersey prohibits the sale of alcohol to anyone who appears intoxicated, and the ABC can revoke or suspend a license or levy a fine. Since the state program began in September, the agency has received the names of more than 1,000 businesses and compiled a Top 10 list of those mentioned most frequently.

New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram told police specifically to ask whether the driver was drinking at a commercial establishment and, if so, to get the place's name and address.

Fischer said ABC undercover investigators recently visited a nightclub that had been named by eight motorists arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. They found signs on tables advertising a two-for-one sale on kamikazes, drinks that typically contain an ounce of vodka and an ounce of triple sec liquor.

Such a promotion is illegal because "it's designed just to get people drunk," Fischer said. "Unless we got lucky, we would never have stumbled in there."

In another case, state regulators found one restaurant had been named as a last drinking destination in seven stops in four towns — a pattern that might have been invisible to local police without the state reporting program.

Drivers don't have to tell police where they were drinking. If they give a location other than a business — such as a friend's home — the information is not turned over to the ABC.

The data gathering worries some New Jersey bar and restaurant owners.

"I'm sick over this," says Rocco Pasquinucci, owner of Rockafella's Cafe in East Rutherford. "If I'm named, I can't even clear myself."

Pasquinucci says drivers often give police false information. He says a 20-year-old driver got into an accident a few weeks ago and told the arresting officer he'd been drinking at Rockafella's. Pasquinucci says he spoke to his bouncer, checked a video surveillance camera on the front door and saw that the man had been turned away.

Bob Scerbo, owner of The Exchange in Rockaway, says he has warned his staff about the new policy: "Say a guy gets stopped and he's been drinking at Smiles go-go bar. Does he want his wife or girlfriend to find out? No. So he says he's been drinking at my place."

Fischer, the ABC director, says such fears are unfounded:

•The agency uses the last-drink data only to steer investigators to apparent problem spots, not as evidence to justify license revocations or fines.

•Places are inspected only if they are named repeatedly as a last stop. He said the ABC has a list of 10 top targets, all of which have at least five hits in the 1,000-entry last-drink database.

•When inspectors visit, they can charge establishments only with violations they actually see.

Richard Dorchak, owner of the Cloverleaf Tavern in Caldwell and chairman of the New Jersey Restaurant Association, says his members' worries stem from the initiative's novelty, as much as anything: "Places have never been pinpointed like this before."

New Jersey police arrest about 32,000 drivers a year on suspicion of drunken driving, and more than 30% of accidents in the state involve allegedly intoxicated drivers, according to the attorney general's office.

The "last drink" tactic is still relatively rare. Stacy Drakeford, president of the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association, a group of alcohol enforcement officers, says it could become more common because of concerns about drunken driving and underage drinking.

One model is Washington State, which has a data-entry field for "last drink" on its computerized breathalyzers and publicizes establishments most often named. Last year's leader? The Romeo Bar & Grill in Bremerton, with 95 "DUI contacts"— 40 more than any other establishment.

Owner Jack Johnson says he encourages intoxicated patrons to take a cab (he pays one to wait outside), to drive home with a sober driver, or to accept a ride from him or a member of his staff.

Publication of the state list has cut business 40%, he says: "People are afraid to drink here because they think they're going to get busted."

November 23, 2007

Here is hoping you had a fun and enjoyable time yesterday.  We had a record number around the table this year topping out at 17.  It was great that my younger brother was able to drive my folks up so they could join us.  As the minute hand marches forward it is nice to share the holidays with family.  One year we will finally convince the Arizona gang and my older two nephews to join us.

I stopped at Shop Rite Discount Wednesday night and picked up a variety of wine not knowing what everyone would want.  The white wine, which no one drank, was a sympathy selection from my recent trip to Germany.  I opened the 2005 Schumann Nagler Christopher Philipp Riesling from Rheingau.  It had a nice floral component and good fruit/acid balance.  I sampled it just to see how it was and did enjoy the small taste.  I have two more bottles I will be trying with food but from what I tasted, it was crisp and dry and flavorful.  Nice value for $11.95 per bottle.

The wine I was personally disappointed in was the 2005 M. Chapoutier Bellaruche Cote du Rhone.  I thought this medium wine with spice and mixed fruits would work well with all the different flavor combinations on the table.  It did not live up to expectations.  So the two that worked out for me, though the cabernet sauvignon was opened after the food was cleared, are listed below.

2006 Diseno Malbec Mendoza $ (13.99)   Nice lush plum fruit and blackberries made this an enjoyable wine and went well with the bourbon sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, turkey and sausage stuffing.

2001 Gran Castellglorit Reserva Penedes $ (12.99)    For a 'go to' wine, this one could be good but for a mixed meal like Thanksgiving it works better as a stand alone.

November 21, 2007

On the flight back from Germany, I picked up the newspapers closest to the gate, as I had not brought along a book.  I browsed Die Welt, or Das Welt.  What is funny to me is that Germans identify a gender structure to nouns and the newspaper is Die Welt, which is a feminine gender identifier.  Must have been a post WWII paper.  I looked for all the car or travel articles that used the words einfahrt, ausfahrt or abfahrt.  I have a camera full of entrance and exit signs from Munich, it still cracks me up.  One of the papers I grabbed and read stem to stern was the Financial Times.  WinoBabe Jancis Robinson’s article in the Food and Drink section caught my attention. 

WB Robinson was reviewing the latest book by wine book guru, George Taber.  You will recall that I contributed to Mr. Taber’s wine budget when I purchased his book; Judgment of Paris- California verse France about the tasting that slapped the snob out of the French.  At the time, I was not in a position to option the movie rights to Mr. Taber’s tome.   Then Clear Picture Entertainment jumped all over the rights hoping to mirror the Sideways box office success.  Producers Clark Petersen and Elizabeth Fowler chased down the Jude Laws and Hugh Grants to out beefcake the Paul Giamattis to appeal to the younger hipper trendies.

Fortunately, the world is a land of opportunity for fore thinking individuals.  That is why last night, I pulled all my money from the kids college fund and I secured the movie rights to Mr. Taber’s latest book entitled, To Cork or Not To Cork.  This suspense packed, Hitchcockesque nail biter pits lead character Corky against the evil empire controlled by S. Crew Kappy and Synthoman.  Burger King is looking forward to the rights of TCA tainted Corky toys for their King meals. Chubby Checkers will be writing the theme song for S Crew Kappy’s rise to dominance in the southern hemisphere before he mounts his final battle against the Oakies of the Portuguese Forest.  The only thing we are not yet sure of is if we do it as Japanese Anime or if we wait to hear back from Johnny Depp’s people.  Look for theatrical release in 2009 for the summer blockbuster season.

November 19, 2007

I was out in Die Deutschland for a week with email but no computer.  Honestly, I only had one night of wine, make that two...  One night I selected the wine and one was a reception where they poured a wine I did not get detail on.  All I know about the wine at the reception was it was a cabernet sauvignon from Spain, no other details.  The group also served paper-thin sliced ham from the Barcelona area and it was buttery soft and delicious.  I enjoyed the combo but had little to report.  Most nights I was eating some part of a pig, from the roasted knuckle to the ground up parts that were made into sausages.  Hey Germany, buy a vegetable once in a while.  I am crapping dumplings at this point.  I have had my fill of Pils and Weizen and Helles.

I enjoyed the only wine I ordered at a hotel lobby bar in Munchen, or Munich, how every you want to pronounce it.  It was a South African Shiraz from Stellenbosch.  It was the 2004 Blaauwklippen Shiraz and I understand why it was the bronze winner of the Swiss International Air Lines Wine Awards.  Those Swiss Airlines can select my wine anytime.  If it wasn’t for the fact that the dollar is so weak, I wouldn’t have felt so bad drinking three glasses that night.  Crap on a cracker, the Euro was kicking our ass on the exchange rate.  This wasn’t bad for a seven dollar per glass wine but it was a seven euro per glass wine.  The fruit was rich with plum and strawberries with a nice balance and ok finish.  As a switch from beer it was great.  As a stand alone, it was not so bad. 

I will be heading to the wine store this week to pick something for the dinner crowd coming to my house.  Unfortunately, I can’t afford the Corton Charlemagne this year, so it will be more like carton of white. 

November 11, 2007

It is important that we take time to reflect on those who served our country and giving us the freedoms we enjoy.  In my neighborhood there are several cars with veterans license plates.   It is a day to ring that doorbell and thank the person whose young life was put in very difficult, hostile situations.

2005 Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap South Africa $ (9.99)    A nice blend of syrah, cinsault, mourvedre and viognier that offers everything up front and little on the finish.  If you enjoy an easy drinking, fruit forward wine with a bit of spice on the nose, this is a no brainer.

November 10, 2007

A reader emailed me this blog entry from some blogger who calls herself the “Wine Goddess”.  I find it funny that someone would identify themselves as a God or Goddess.  But that is not the most shocking part of this.  Look at the headline from her 11/9 entry.  I thought Imus killed the use of “Hoe” in any article, spoken or written.  Why is it that the word “Hoe” can blaze across the forum, which is part of the Star Ledger newspaper?  I just wanted to thank Wino Dave for giving us the heads up that there are wine web sites that have little to no standards in this racially charged environment.

Hoe Do They Do This?

Posted by Debbie Miller Nelson, C.S.W. November 09, 2007 10:09AM

Categories: Events

I can't figure out how the Friends of Wine & Spirits makes any money on their events. I don't think they are not-for-profit. They keep coming up with these 5 course dinners for $50 (tax and gratuity not included). It's crazy! I love it! Their next event is Thursday, 11/15 at 6pm at the Midtown Executive Club, 40 West 45th Street in New York City. Check out the menu:

November 9, 2007

Last night the Essex County Wine Society featured the 2001 Brunello di Montalcino wines.  The program was offered by the first person I met when I attended the first dinner, Woody Wega.  Woody was a wealth of knowledge, as Italian wines seem to be his strong suit.  We warmed up with a golden honey-colored chardonnay from Sicily, which surprised me in its fruit and finish.  I don’t drink many Italian white wines and chardonnay would not be my first choice.  Sicily would not be my second choice, but I was impressed with the 2005 Planeta Chardonnay di Sicilia.

In a somewhat unusual move, the nine wines were divided into two flights. (I just realized that I have seen flight and flite used to describe the group of wines that would be compared to each other). 

The first 5 wines were:

Capanna Riserva

Le Macioche Riserva

Collosorbo Riserva

Castello di Camigliano Gualto

La Colombina

I found the nose of Capanna Riserva to be delightful with spice and anise and black fruit, but the Collosorbo Riserva was the best tasting.  The Collosorbo was full bodied and silky smooth with an earthy tone, blackberry, truffle and raisin finish.  Interestingly, the Le Macioche that sells for $124.00 was my least favorite of the five.

The second flight of 4 wines were a bit more refined and structured comprised of:

Raunte Mocali

Aleramici Riserva

Ucceliera Riserva

Sassetti Pertimali Riserva

The last two out did the first two with the Ucceliera being more drinkable now and the Sassetti being one to enjoy in the future.  Everyone at our table found the nose on the Sassetti somewhat troubling, as it was so distinctly different from the others, but as it opened, the flavors in this one will be striking over the next 5-10 years.

I appreciate the work Woody put into this one giving me my fun fact for the night.  Little did I know as an unsophisticated wino that my case of Riunite Lambrusco would lead to my appreciation of Banfi Summus…

Salute Sangiovese!!! 

November 8, 2007

Well, New Jersey had some sense this year at the polls.  They voted not to go farther into debt.  Yes, the two questions that required money flying freely from our checkbooks have been stalled if nothing more than momentarily.  I count it as a win.  For years, I have often thought that the frantic signage that clutters our roads prior to election day should be cleaned by the loser of the election.  In New Jersey, it might be March before all the signs for Tuesday’s election have vanished from eye sight.  We need to put up a referendum on next year's ballot to mandate the loser drive around within two weeks of the election and remove every sign they and their competitors posted.  Take notice to how long these signs hang around.

I am starting the Clean Up the Signs Campaign……

November 7, 2007

I have a confession.  I have been lacking in updates and informative banter, as I have been involved with a side project.  That statement is completely amusing as this web site is a side project from my geek job and now I have a side project from my side project.  As I am out of my element and too insecure to discuss the details, tonight I began a new endeavor that provides me excitement and challenge.  My meeting started with a detailing of technical information and scheduling, but was made tolerable and convergent by a fine bottle of red wine.  The wine was special as it was a gift from Big Bob to me during one of his visits to my house.  The wine being Chilean made my South American guest comfortable.  The quality of the wine made me proud to serve it.  Most of all the wine bonded our team on a project that will take the next several months but will have a lasting impression on many of us.

It came down to a Cabernet Sauvignon from Miguel Torres’ 25th anniversary special.  I will appreciate this night for the beginning of a new business venture but more importantly, one sealed in a bold flavorful Chilean cabernet.    As the new project takes shape, I will spill the beans and fill in the details, but for now let me just say that a rising tide lifts all the boats as John Fitzgerald Kennedy said in his speech to a crowd in Michigan February 1960.   Let it be credited to Wino Bob that a Great Wine Lifts All Spirits and this Miguel Torres lifted me tonight.

2003 Miguel Torres Manso de Velasco Gift   This is where cabernet is earning its stripes and Chile has quality with value.  Dark berries, currant, chocolate and a silky smooth finish provide an elegant wine for a special occasion.

November 6, 2007

I have but one thing to say today, Once You Go BlackBerry, You Never Go BackBerry.  No, not in the Chuck Berry Black Berry wine, thought I am sure it is a fine wine to help you get drunk all the time.  


No I am talking about my official jump into the world of Rim BlackBerry 8830 World Edition


I am struggling with many of the features that do not translate to the old Samsung Pocket PC phone I had.  I upgraded to this for my coming trip to Germany and wanting/needing to be in touch with the home front.  With my Verizon VIP and the rebate, it was a very inexpensive upgrade.  I am hoping I can record many great German Rieslings during my stay in Munich.

Hey, stop reading and get out and vote!

Please read the ballot questions and don’t just blindly vote yes until you know what the question really says.  For example, question number one is the road to an even higher sales tax. 

For those that don’t know there are 4 questions on the ballot, you might just want to stay home.  Do we need to taxpayer fund a stem cell research facility?  It’s up to you to decide.

November 5, 2007

Just a quick note, Wino John will be honoring the Hollywood writer’s strike and he will not be able to update his page until the WGA settles their dispute for compensation on internet viewings of scripted material.  I, on the other hand, am a scab on the festering wound of a MRSA blister and will be writing and updating.  I applied to the WGA but they said my stuff does not qualify as writing, nor scripted, nor English... so I am in the clear.

See you on the funny pages…….Wino Bob

November 4, 2007

I have been steering clear of the whole political thing right now because I was getting numb from all the coverage.  It wasn’t until Fred Thompson got into the race that things changed.  Actually Fred’s wife stirred the pot.  Considering the look and style of the past First Ladies, Mrs. Thompson got it going on.

I bet the Lincoln bedroom will have some donors living there if you know what I mean.  The inaugural gown will be from Fredrick’s of Hollywood. 

The most recent attraction to the '08 race came from the last Dems debate.  Yes, the media has played it out by now, but the Evita of our day is having trouble with the tough questions from the usually Clinton teat-suckling press.  My question, “Is Hillary the toughest, smartest, bestest thing for America, or is she a woman of convenience?”   I say convenience not in the sexual sense, God help me, but in the "when I need to be" sense.  When she needs to pad her resume, she points to what she did while Bill was in the White House.  When they ask for the documents of what she did in the WH for Bill, she conveniently says the records are not yet available.  When fund raising stumbles, she conveniently pulls Bill into the picture.  When asked if she will rely on Bill, she conveniently forgets she is even married to him.  Like taking health advice from the cheeseburger-guzzling, artery-clogged, fat-ass Michael Moore, we are now supposed to suspend disbelief and blindly vote for a woman that won’t take a stand on tough issues.  She doesn’t deal in hypothetical.  Interesting, every other candidate answers a question based on their position so voters will get to know them, but Mrs. Clinton wants us to conveniently trust her that she knows better than anyone else how to run America.  She conveniently told us she is strong and stands on her own, then conveniently swallowed the embarrassment of Bill’s BJs so she could advance her career.   

So for me, the campaign season begins this week and my eyes will be trained on Tim Russert’s Meet the Press for his comment on the Clinton backlash.  Look, Mrs. Clinton puts Bill’s pants on one leg at a time and pees standing up like the rest of the Presidential candidates, therefore she needs to drop the “don’t pick on a girl image.”  Stop the spin.  The other candidates are finally growing a pair of nuts half the size of hers and are going after the front-runner.  Is that what the politics of the primary is all about?

Callback: Michael Moore is one to preach to us.  It is his obese condition that is responsible for my inflated health insurance costs.  From an insider look, I found it very interesting that his hate Bush documentary made 200 million dollars but his love Cuba and Canada documentary only made 20 million.  Did he blow it when all his editing tainted Fahrenheit 9/11 to show it was an editorial comment and not a true documentary?  Think if he really had kept an objective piece on 9/11, Sicko could have done 400 million.  America was exposed to his desire to slant his project to the far left and alter they way they filter his information.  I really hoped that this project could have helped slow the rising costs of health care.  Right now, finding his way to the salad bar and walking instead of using a Segway would have a more positive impact on the topic.

While I am rambling, there is one last thought rolling loosely around my otherwise empty head.  It has to do with horoscopes.  OK, I read them from time to time.  Now my question is simple.  If you and your spouse/fiancé/significant other have the same sign and the horoscope says that someone you love will have a health issue, is that them or you?  Cause when my wife reads the same horoscope, it’s talking about me, or does it apply to the first person that reads it?  Can someone out there help me?  Anyone?  Buehler?  Better yet, if it says this month you will inherent a financial windfall, is it her or me?  

Finally, since this is just a head clearing, I wanted to send out a Birthday greeting to my niece in Arizona.  The card is in the mail, at least this year you will have it in the same month. 

2005 Chateau St. Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley $ (8.49)    Simple wine with pear and melon flavors that went well with the dinner of snack foods I ate like cocktail hot dogs, cheese puffs, spring rolls and anything else the 100 pack from Costco sells.

October 31, 2007

It’s not bad being a VIP.  Actually I was a guest of a VIP at a VIP restaurant opening last night.  I really wasn’t on the list, but appeared as a part of the VIP +3 designation.  I guess to make up for not pouring me any Chateau Haut Brion at the Wine Library tasting, Wino Al graciously extended an invitation to the opening of Stirling Ridge, a restaurant and catering facility.  Wow, the place is well detailed with prestigious landscaping, a fire pit, tables that change color, and an outdoor seating area.  Inside the restaurant/bar area is clean lined and spacious with a Euro feel.  The open kitchen adds distinction.  My host, Wino Al of Lauber, gave me a tour of the place while we sipped an apple and rosemary martini.  This was not the sweet appletini crap, this was vodka with a splash of apple juice and a sprig of rosemary; uniquely delicious.  Wino Al was polite enough to introduce me to the GM of Sterling Ridge, Yasir, who promptly said hello and headed to greet the real VIPs. 

The valet’s view, yes, Wino Al made me park his car before I could get into the party.



The two places I tried to hang out all night but kept being booted out from. 


One of the outdoor bars


Valerie Smaldone of 106.7 Lite FM shared host duties for welcoming the crowd.


Also in attendance was Executive Chef Steve Permaul (center) of located at 57 Main Street, Millburn, NJ.  I haven’t eaten there yet, but I like the uniqueness of their business cards. 

I just wanted to thank Wino Al for the invite and warn Yasir that I will be expecting the VIP treatment and Al’s table when I come down for dinner.

October 29, 2007

While lounging in the recliner, hopping around the NFL games yesterday, I settled on two mediocre things.  One being the Giants playing the Dolphins in Jolly Ole England, the other the wine I drank.  As for the Giants, a win is a win.  As for the wine, it was wine.  I couldn’t tell if the jet lag, the poor field or the weather made that an ugly game, but it was almost any given Sunday.  I thought the defense from week two were in the uniforms of the defense that had 12 sacks in a recent game.  Holding on to a 3 point lead was a bit unnerving.  Yet not as unnerving as the Tinsdale cabernet sauvignon.  I thought the $3.99 price for their syrah I drank as I tailgated at the Springsteen gig was worth the price.  As for the cab, it was too foxy, and not in the WinoBabe sense of the word.  The wine had an immature grapey flavor with no complexity to it.  It did have alcohol and was made from grapes so therefore, a wine is a wine.  I am not going to rate this wine, let’s just say, I have had better $3.99 wine.

October 27, 2007

Last night we were going to do a white Burg-off/Cabfest at Wino Odd Job’s secluded restaurant and bat cave.  It turned out that the Burgmeister himself, Big Bob was pouring at the Marvin Shanken tasting in NYC.  Not actually tasting Marvin, though I’m sure he showered, he must carry a bouquet of “old guy”.   There was no sense in Burging off without the resident Burg-off expert Big Bob.  With the night open, Wino John, Wino Rocker and I headed to Gourmet Café on Rt 46 west in Parsippany for a night of indulging. 

We arrived a bit behind Wino John who was entertaining himself with the latest Bond-like electronic gizmo, too top secret for me to even talk about.  Stay tuned, there maybe some cool super stealthy stuff for personal entertainment around the corner.  While he watched a movie, he was sipping a bottle of 2005 Two Hands Angel’s Share Shiraz.  This was a hit at Wine Library’s Grand Tasting and a nice wine to come in from the raw rainy weather dumping on NJ. 

I had the fried risotto cakes as an appetizer and the rigatoni with mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and onion in a pink vodka sauce.  I brought two different wines.  Though priced the same, one clearly out shined the other.  Wino Rocker was less talkative than normal.  I think he was still jelly-kneed from the new project he started. (Details to follow shortly).  We drank and ate and though it wasn’t up to the calamity of a Cabfest, it was a great way to spend a damp, rainy fall night.

2002 Secco Bertani Valpolicella Valpantena Ripasso $ (12.99)   For the price, buy this wine.  Deep, dark fruit flavors with a hint of nuttiness and spice.  I like this wine’s flavors for food pairing and a reasonable price.

1999 La Famiglia  di Robert Mondavi Colmera $ (12.99)   This was not doing it for me, ok but not much to it, La Famiglia, la fagettaboutit.

October 20, 2007

Unlike Big Bob, I don’t have a job that jets me to the old world wine regions on some boondoggle to meet the winemaker and barrel taste new releases.  This week, I understand that the big guy is licking his way up the boot of the Italian wine properties.  My boot licking is confined to geek world sales managers and the occasional NYC dominatrix.  Fortunately, Wino Stan has a heart and soul and made a charitable contribution to Atlantic Home Care & Hospice.  The charity event was a wine tasting sponsored by Gary’s Wine & Marketplace and was held at The Madison Hotel in Morristown, NJ.  This is where our friend Joann from the soon-to-be defunct northern NJ wine meetup group.  Being only one week after the Wine Library’s tasting, I looked for different things to taste.  Al from Lauber wasn’t pouring the Chateau Haut Brion for this tasting, but he was imparting knowledge to the visitors at his table. 

As we got there an hour early, we sat like OTB handicappers and mapped out a drinking strategy making sure we visited the tables with wines we found ridden by our favorite jockeys, some favorites and some long shots.  The first thing that caught my eye was a product at Merchant Du Vin’s table.  They boasted of a grand wormwood-containing Absinthe that is the first in the USA, called LUCID.  I made my way over asked some questions, tasted the somewhat familiar flavors of the Absinthe’s I tried and asked the simple question, how much wormwood?  No answer other than, “we comply with US regulations.” 

Wino Stan and I spent a good deal of time at several tables, one being the R&R Marketing.

2004 Chateau Montelena Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Ferrari Carano Tresor

2005 Ferrari Carano Siena

We also sampled:

2004 BV Reserve Tapestry

2004 BV George DeLatour

2004 Mount Veeder Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Al from Lauber tried to shoo us away, so we waited until they changed assignments to fill up on:

2003 Raymond Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain

2004 Whitehall Lane Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

2005 Viader “DARE” Cabernet Franc

Allied was showing their:

2003 Sequoia Grove Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Joseph Phelps Insignia

2003 Grgich Hills Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Groth Napa Cabernet

For me the surprise of the night was the 2003 Levendi Estates Cabernet Symphonia, Oak Knoll.  This small, well-crafted bold cab sells for $42.99.  I also circled the 2003 Jaboulet Hermitage “La Chapelle” on more than one occasion.

We finished the night sipping flutes of the Old Widow’s nectar and I think a stirring rose in the 1980’s disco tight pants of Wino Stan.  The 1998 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame has been a preference of mine, but that night I came away knowing that WS has a new appreciation for the bubbly.  To the old woman, we dig your juice.

October 13, 2007

I wanted to take a moment to pass along get-well wishes to Senator Ted Kennedy.  Thank God the doctors were able to unclog that artery in his neck.  It was obvious the clog was only allowing blood to flow into his head, ballooning it to the size of a parade float.  Now we understand that within two weeks, Senator Kennedy’s head will slowly deflate and settle somewhere closer to the head of a hydrocephalus patient.  The water that will remain has been there since a late night dip in 1964.  In a related story, sell short your Chivas Regal.  Shipments to the eastern seaboard have been down by 33% in the past week primarily do to cancellations from liquor stores in Washington DC and Massachusetts.

October 12, 2007

What a way to start the season, not the basketball season, not the hockey season, no.  I am talking about the Essex County Wine Tasting season.  If I simply called it chardonnay, it wouldn’t sound that impressive, but the classy nome de plume 'white Burgundy' puts a completely new spin on the grape.  The down side of the tasting is that they were 2005 wines.  Though I do not have a vast experience with white Burgundies, they hold a special place in my heart.  It was the first wine I enjoyed at Cellars In The Sky that intrigued me with its noticeable changes throughout the course.  Many of the comments last night described the nose of most of the wines being closed and the fruit in a dormant state. 

Our warm up wine was the 2005 Domaine A&P de Villaine Bouzeron Aligote, pleasant at $20.00.  As I mentioned, they were all 2005s so I will not be writing 2005 in front of the list below so please note I am talking about the 2005s.

First flight

Paul Jacqueson Rully 1er Cru La Pucelle

Jean-Pierre & Michel Auvigue Saint Veran Les Chenes

William Fevre Chablis AC Champs Royaux

Domaine Pinson Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu

Out of this group, the Fevre should more mineality and subtle oak making it the most approachable of the four.  Personally the Pinson had the most promise for me for the long term.

Second Flight

Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault AC Le Meix Sous Le Chateau

Olivier Leflaive Meursault 1er Cru Charmes

Joseph Droughin Puligny Montracht AC

Louis Carillon Puligny Montracht 1er Cru Les Pucelles

Our table was in harmony on this one.  We all voted the Carillon the most balanced, complex and best developed.  In second place was the Olivier.  Interestingly, the Drouhin had a distinctly different nose then the other three, bringing mostly citrus and granny smith apple.

Last Flight

Bernard Morey Chassagne Montracht AC Vieilles Vignes

Fontaine-Gagnard Chassagne Montracht 1er Cru Les Caillerets

Bertrand Ambroise Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru

Wow did we do a disservice to the Corton, it is not at all ready to drink and gave mostly a flint, limestone nose and flavor offering little else but promising much. 

It was evident we tasted these too young and cellaring is the key to their success.  This was a good tune up for our upcoming Burg-Off/Cabfest VI later this month.  I enjoyed learning more about that Mecca of French wines, but it hurts your head trying to understand this complex area.

Wino John******* next month we are tasting 2001 Brunello.  I suggest you check your calendar.  My friend Woody is running the tasting and I am looking forward to his knowledge. See you in the funny papers….

October 10, 2007

There is no better way to break out of a dry spell than by attending the Wine Library Grand Tasting with Wino John.  Put me, 700 wines and food better than I deserve in an enclosed building and let the chips fall where they may.  Gary does an elegant job each year for this event and WJ and I exchanged pleasantries with the G-man while in the Bordeaux room.  Before I get to my likes on the wine front, I have to say there were two food items that hit me up.  The first was the tender, juicey petite lamb chops; a stark contrast to the fatty chops I choked down at Passionne.  (Sidebar:  Mike at Passionne emailed me the day after our wine event asking how we liked it.  I told him I had gotten several negative comments.  He emailed that he wanted to know what they were as they can only get better by hearing what people say.  When I clipped some of the comments from the meetup rating of the event and added my own, I have never heard from him in any way.  That sealed it for me, he wanted the truth, and he couldn’t handle the truth and has not been in touch since.  That’s fine, there are dozens of great restaurants we can take our business.)

The second food item was the eggplant rollitini in a vodka sauce.  Wow, a fine example of the combination exceeding their normal sum.  My hat is off, if I wore a hat, to the chef staff at The Manor.  The food quality was excellent.

Now, for the wine.  I stopped taking notes around taste number 467, but there were a few worth mentioning so here is my impression.  (Wino John has notes and impressions, too, so look towards sometime in 2009 when it will appear on his page.)  For those not interested in all my words of wisdom, I will put my winner and loser right up front, you can punch out anytime after that.

My big loser was the 2004 Dominus Proprietary Red.  For all the hype and line of people, the nose was OK and the wine was less than impressive.

My personal big winner, as Wino John went on a Brunello tear and left me on my own, was the 2001 Mas d’en Gil Clos Fonta from Priorat.  Though I cannot afford the suggested price of $66.77, it was heaven for me and delivered a wow factor worth telling people about.  It was pure jammy, bold black fruit flavors with a polished finish that held on for one lap around the room so I can have a second taste.  I am putting this one on my Santa wish list.  I will be looking for this as a special occasion treat to bring to a nice dinner.

For my wallet, the 2005 Beckman Cuvee Le Bec at $13.99 is a nice find and I can drink that with a workday meal.  Following close behind was the 2005 Domaine La Garrigue Vacqueyras at $16.99.

Then there were a variety of others I tried and liked and all fell into a category of, “Yes, I will drink this, especially if someone else serves it to me.”

2006 Two Hands Angel Share Shiraz

2004 Fess Parker Rodney Syrah

2005 Lafite Reserve Rouge

2002 Moulin du Duhart Pauillac

2005 Gary Ferrell Pinot Noir Russian River

2004 Kathryn Kennedy Lateral - Yes, we met someone who has tasted the KK Cabernet and he said how great it is.

         They didn’t pour it last night but he said it’s a treat.

2005 Seidelberg Pinotage Roland’s Reserve

2004 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Newton Claret

2005 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

2001 Tomassi Amarone

2005 Inniskillin Pearl

2003 Cockburn’s Vintage-  Nothing beats a good Cockburn at the end of the night

2006 Chateau Beychevelle

2004 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion

I could go on but you have probably stopped reading.  I must also state at this point, to the waiter who slipped on the cream that fell from the cream puff I bit into, sorry.  I am sure that some ice, elevation and a good ace bandage will have you back at work in a few days.  All in all, a great event.

October 7, 2007

Some weeks yes, some weeks no.  That’s what my wine intake has been like.  The last two weeks it has been a very minimalist drinking structure and that just doesn’t do much for a wine review web site.  Fortunately, this coming week holds two great opportunities for me to get back in the game.  The first will be the Tuesday night attendance at Wine Library’s Grand Tasting in West Orange, NJ.  Wino John, Big Bob and I have tasted our way through the labyrinth of wine sampling tables for the past several events.  I am looking forward to finding the best value wines I can.  My budget is shrinking, or my intake in increasing.  Either way, I need to restock the rack. 

The second big event this coming week is the first official Essex County Wine Society tasting of the 2007-2008 tasting season.  We start in the land of Chardonnay, the land that made me see that wine was more than a way to catch a buzz with less carbs.  I am looking forward to the drinking of the white burgundy this Thursday.  I shall, against my human nature, spend a great deal of time during the Wine Library tasting honing my palate.  Honing is too pompous a term, more like drinking the real expensive stuff and seeing how long it takes me to pee. 

I guess I just wanted to warn you of a drunken rambling alert.  Please realize, I do it all for you.  Since I haven’t been drinking lately, I have been thinking.  Why is it that no one to my knowledge in the winemaking business has replicated terroir?  I was sitting in my yard the other day as summer refuses to unclench its fist and turn the thermometer over to fall.  I have a small patch of a flowerbed between my cellar door and my back deck.  This was a barren patch that grew dirt as neither grass nor weed could take hold.  Over the years, we added stuff and carved out a bed and planted things.  I added red shale instead of mulch as it keeps the weeds down, moisture in and most of all retains some day heat to nurture the garden.  France boasts of vineyards in gravel and limestone and rocky stressful environments.  So why haven’t vineyard owners wanting to grow a certain cepage, replicate (to a degree) the conditions of the land?  If I could afford a few acres in an area where I could grow my Rhone style grapes.  I would till into the soil prior to my first planting, add some fractured limestone and leave a surface layer to absorb the midday heat and reflect it back into the plant at night as the cool fog blankets in.  We cannot manipulate the weather so the amount of rain and sunshine are left to mother nature.  However, we can get the soil conditions much closer to the soil samplings of the regions best suited to the vine.  Lets face it, we engineer our food to make our chicken breasts plumper and to grow more corn on less land, why not take the next step and truly make the wine reflective of the winemaker by stabilizing the earth ingredient in the theory of terroir. 

October 6, 2007

When it comes to NJ, our local beer brewing companies produce a much more enjoyable product than our wineries.  As earth, climate and craftsmanship play a lesser role, beer drinkers can appreciate the NJ offerings.  A few nights back, Wino Odd Job had a small get together at his top-secret bat cave and instead of the wine thing, I went beer.  I mixed it up and brought a beer from Fairfield’s Cricket Hill.  I went lager as an easy drinker for those that might not want too much beer.  My second was from Butler’s Ramstein brewing company.  The blond wheat adds body but is still softer on the palate.  I had a few of the Flying Fish Brewing Company of Cherry Hill’s ESB Ale.  The ESB stands for Extra Special Bitters and this is a nicely crafted dry finish that shows a caramel flavor.  The big ass kicker was the River Horse Brewery’s Hop Hazard Pale Ale made in Lambertville, NJ.  The name should tell you that this is a hophead paradise that blends 5 hops and delivers the delights for IPA lovers.  When it comes to beer, the 15-microbrewery/brew pubs in New Jersey produce beer quaffable to the beer lover’s of America.  The quality of ingredients and structured oversight made me proud to bring NJ’s finest to the party. I wasn’t worrying about the soil or location the brewery was located on or whether it rained or didn’t the night before brewing.  I enjoy Cricket Hill and River Horse’s products but I still need to taste my way through NJ.

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