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This page contains Winings from the 4th Quarter of the year 2009.

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December 31, 2009

As I find myself this week with extra time on my hands, I started reading a book.  It seems I read the most when winterís blistery breath keeps me wrapped in sweaters in the dank third floor room.  The Billionaireís Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace looks into the fraud of collectable wines, specifically the one that fetched the highest price in history to date.  As I find myself reading about wine, a Pavlovian response has me salivating like an old dog.  Ding, they just mentioned Chateau Lafite.  Ding, they just said Cheval Blanc.  DingÖ.  OK I need a drink.  I didnít want a drink; it was just the solution to stop me from drooling on my sweater.  Not being able to fit the urge any longer, I went to the refrigerator and grabbed the chardonnay we served a guest the night before.  It was the 2008 Cameron Hughes The Flying Winemaker Chardonnay.  Amazing, not the wine, but the ability for me to stop drooling while reading and concentrate on the story.  Prior to the wine washing over my palate, it was like the wine words were jumping off the page hitting me in the face.  I had cabernet stuck to my left cheek. I donít want to spoil the ending but I think there was a problem with the 1787 Lafite with Thomas Jeffersonís initials.  Iím just saying.  I am hanging on the edge of my seat wanting to know if Kip Forbes was the highest bidder.  Well thatís a wrap on 2009.  Good riddens, donít let the barn door hit you in the ass on the way out.   Hey will the snow keep the old man in a diaper out of Time Square tonight?  Look, his onions are already shriveled, the weather shouldnít matter.

December 26, 2009

I hope that the baby Jesusí birthday was celebrated like mine, with good traditional ethnic food, a toast with potato distilled Polish vodka, and a raucous gift exchange.  My younger brother topped the night with yet another generous, thoughtful gift of giving that kept us in stitches for over three hours.  We donít know if this one will ever be topped, but we will wait and see.  I did manage two glasses of a South African chardonnay, Fleur du Cap.  As our Christmas Eve banquet is meatless, this chardonnay was simple enough to work the fish and pierogis without intrusion.  I was the only drinker so I didnít have to impress myself.  I just wanted a basic wine that worked well with food.  At $9.99 this chardonnay is worth the price.

Christmas Day had something new.  A guest brought a bottle of wine and I served it.  Since there was a pasta course, I opened this one to counter the acidity in the tomato sauce.  It was a 2005 Michele Chiarlo Barbera díAsti Superior Le Orme.  It clocks in around $14.99.  The wineís acidity paired nicely enough with the sauce.  The main course of filet mignon was met with my last bottle of the 2003 Zaca Mesa Syrah.  I appreciate this wine for its deep dark fruit flavors and soft finish at a price of $15.99.  The night ended with an unfinished bottle of Two Hands Angelís Share Shiraz.  Donít worry, it goes well with turkey bacon and eggs for breakfast.  Yes, Iím saying it adds robustness to the breakfast of champions.  Iím thinking I probably wonít have time to drink between now and New YearsÖ.. never mind.  So what was on your wine menu?

December 24, 2009

On this eve of the birth of the Baby Jesus, the staff at WinoStuff.com want to take this time to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas.  If you donít celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus, enjoy the day off.  Look, I drink Pinot Noir, not because I want to.  Itís part of the fabric of this job.  So Happy Pinot to those not celebrating Christmas. I head to Southern NJ tonight for the traditions of a Polish Christmas Eve dinner.  Again my alcohol consumption will be limited to the iced Polish Vodka toast (potato, not grain vodka) and a glass of wine.  I will be obligated to attend midnight mass where I will hit the Blood of Christ line twice to catch the Midnight Mass Baby Jesus Buzz.  Church is but a block away and the stagger home in the crisp air brings the holiday spirit to life. 

Keep me posted on your holiday drink and remember, the year of the Petite Sirah is coming to a close.  Letís see what 2010 will have in store.

 

December 19, 2009

Urgent - The afternoon session of the Global Warming Summit has been cancelled due to a blizzard.  President Obama, please board Air Force One now before Washington DC airports are closed.  Well that was interesting.  A large carbon footprint and a fat check to developing nations, and no firm agreements.  I wonder how the media would report that if it had been President Bush?   Iím doing my part by staying home and drinking.  

Actually we had little to do with the decision.  The heavy snow caused our plans to change.  It was the annual Victorian Christmas dinner at the Park Avenue Club.  We were good to go until the call at 4pm saying they had a bunch of scared drivers not wanting to brave the bad weather.  Dude, that is why vehicles come in AWD.  With guests in tow and cancelled plans, I convinced the crowd to stay local.  We grabbed dinner at the Cloverleaf.  We didnít have any difficulty getting a table for five.  I enjoyed a few Boddingtons with my ribs and then we came home, lit the fireplace and sipped cocktails as the wind and snow beat heavy on the house.  I went with a simple 2007 Astica Malbec from Cuyo Argentina.  My fireplace sucks so that only lasted about an hour and then I sank into a chair to watch the Dallas - Saints game.  This week the Saints decided to fold and keep Dallas in the hunt.  Why, Santa, why?  BTW- Iíd pass on this Malbec.  Hey, the only way I could know it wasnít worth it was to try a bottle.  You are welcome.

December 17, 2009

The dull bells ringing in my head are not Pacobells Cannon, but rather the result of a five bottle four-person dinner.  An informal WinoStuff holiday festivus at Gourmet Cafť brought out the usual suspects, all red.  As Wino Odd Job, Big Bob and I awaited the arrival of Wino John, we sipped on some 2007 Torres Salmos.  Folks, itís a well-rated Priorat, and not a Pinot.  What better way to get into the holiday spirit.  Finally, the way-too-busy powerful exec-o-geek, WJ arrived and the Chef-Owner Matthew Pierone could rest easy that we were going to order food.  I had the special grilled polenta and sipped on 2005 Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Reserva.  Itís worth buying this wine just for the label.  Keep this one in eyesight of your guests and they will think you have class.  I brought a GOTY to end the year of the petite sirah.  A tightly bound tannic, jammy, black fruit load, the 2008 The Crusher needs to settle in the bottle a bitThe conversation flowed through bottle three into four and politics from the Kennedy grassy knoll conspiracy twist to the health care debate.  Bottle four was a 2001 Le Chiuse Brunello.  I complimented my tilapia smothered in lump crabmeat with several glasses of this wine.  The raucous conversation thinned the patrons so we invited chef-owner Matt over for a glass of wine.  It was the only way we were allowed to stay long enough for Wino John to get his chocolate fix for dessert.  I think the owner-chef was actually coming to our table to ask us to leave but the sharing of wine always turns things around.  I am recommending that the senate drink in a few cases of Barone Ricasoli and who knows what may come out of the healthcare bill.  Since we couldnít leave as Wino John was making love to a double chocolate mousse something or other, we cracked open a 2005 Page Proprietary Red, a Bordeaux blend heavy on the cabernet franc and supported by merlot, petite verdot, Malbec and cab sauv.  As the wait staff milled around our table trying to get us to leave, it was only the fifth empty bottle that did it.  A fun night and great way to end the crappiest of years.  We toasted out '09 and wished each other a better '10.  The book closes on the first decade of the century and I trust this next ten year period will bring better days, more raucous nights and a great deal of exciting wine. 

December 14, 2009

The economy has me looking at the bottom shelves of wine stores.  And what better way to drown the hurt and pain of a young receiving corp that let Eli down last night.  This $4.99 wine from Portugal matched the disappointment of the game.  The 2005 Bairrada Primavera Red was part of my journey around the wine regions of Portugal and left me concluding that this was not a shinning star.  Now I have a dull headache.  Though I am not sure if its from the cheap juice or the gloating Eagles fan that edits and posts my drunken rambling.  Hope is not lost, just placed on the bottom shelf of the play off picture.  What the hell is going on with those getting paid big money to catch a ball?  

(Editor's note:  Gloating Eagles fan?  I think not...   I simply enjoyed a nice quiet Sunday evening with an old friend who stopped by, Mr. Dom Perignon.  We thought about cracking open a wine from a small producer in California called Screaming Eagles, but I found my cellar was completely depleted of this wine.   I guess I really dropped the ball on that one...   Hehehe... )

December 4, 2009

Not much longer, people, and this God-forsaken year will be over.  This year has been so bad for business that I got a call from a creditor.  He informed me that my credit identity had been stolen.  It seems my credit is so bad that the thief wants to give it back to me.  I said no backsies.  Itís your poor credit score now, tough guy.  I think that means I have no credit, which is a hell of a lot better than the crappy credit I had. 

Fortunately, last night was our Essex County Wine Society night.  Putting the credit issues on the back burner, I went to sip champagne with the social elites.  I was like Chaplinís Tramp at a black tie affair during the depression.  My shoes were stuffed with newspaper to keep the rain out of the hole in the sole while sipping bubbly.  Damn wealthy people know how to live.  I think I learned enough about champagne to sneak into the next White House party. 

My main take away from last night is that the process of making champagne manipulates the juice to the point it is difficult to discern 100% chardonnay champagne from 100% pinot noir champagne.  Forget trying to identify the blends.  We tasted through a flight of NV champagnes as a warm up and then moved to a flight of the good stuff.  Overall, I am not sure if I will start collecting champagnes, but I am glad I got the chance to see some different styles.

Flight 1

Pierre Peters Cuvee Reserve Blanc de Blanc

Duval-Leroy Champagne Brut

Jacques Chaput Champagne Brut Tradition

Cedric Bouchard Champagne Blanc de Noirs Brut ďInflorescenceĒ

The Duval-Leroy left a major yeasty impression on the nose and palate and from this flight was not in my top three.  The Cedric Bouchard had a petroleum hint on the early nose but settled in nicely and turned out to be my favorite of the flight.

Flight 2

Marcel Moineaux Blanc de Blancs Brut 2002

Jose Dhondt Mes Vielles Vignes Blanc de Blancs 2004

Ulysse Collin Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 2005

Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon 2000

Brut Champagne ď2003 by BollingerĒ

In this flight, the first two champagnes were ok, nothing exciting but yet nothing off-putting.  However, the Ulysse Collin, mother McCrae, that carried the oddest of nose and flavors.  Our table broke it down to wet leaves, bananas, whiskey and citrus.  Unlike any other, it carried odd flavors also.  After learning the still wine was kept in oak for at least 10 months, Iíd say they were buying used barrels from Jack Daniels.  Definitely unique but not my style at all.  The last two stood out and I found the handy work from the old Benedictine monk refined and silky against the Bollinger.  It turned out to be my favorite of the night.

Next on the list, California syrah.  Finally, they are coming aroundÖÖ

November 27, 2009

I have an idea, letís just skip the days of preparation and overeating and simply declare the third Thursday in November, National Sit In Front Of TV With Pants Unbuttoned Day.  Face it, if your Thanksgiving is like mine, there are four trips to the food store, two trips to the liquor store, food for a small country and its all over in 40 minutes from the dinner bell.  The rest of the day is spent in front of crappy football with a bloated stomach and pants that are cutting off blood flow to my upper organs, Yes my ankles swell unless I undue the pants.  The crowd is mostly non-drinkers so the wine is more about me then anyone else.  This year, for the first time in what memory I have left, my younger brother shared a glass of wine with dinner. 

Appalled with the prices of Beaujolais Nouveau, I went with a simple rose from Provence as a starter.  The 2008 Chateau Routas Rose was $8.99 and is made from a blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 30% Cinsault.  Brilliant bright red fruit, clean, dry, crisp finish and a nice way to work into the main red wine for dinner.  Chilled, this wine is refreshing and supportive of appetizers.  I highly recommend this one for simple nights and hot summer days when the weight of red is too much but you want the flavors of raspberry, bing cherry and dark cherry. 

When we sat down to dinner, I had my Grapevine Decanter filled with the 2008 Two Hands Angelís Share Shiraz.  With a $20.55 price on this wine, I love it.  Facing the other side of the red wine spectrum, this wine was jammy with blackberry, plum, blueberry and currant flavors and a mocha finish.  Pleasantly powerful but not hot or harsh.  Maybe it wasnít the best wine to blend with marshmallow bourbon sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce, but it delighted my palate.  Letís face it, thatís what its about anyway, my palate.  I was quite pleased with my wine choices though it wasnít like I had a committee to clear.  Maybe I am getting the Obama administration.  Please oneself first...    

November 24, 2009

Hereís wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.  Honestly, the way business was, I am most thankful that 2009 is almost over.  I am looking forward to a robust 2010, though my hopes are not that high.  Hopefully your 2009 was better than most. 

Grabbing a ďbusinessĒ lunch with Wino John, before the start of this Thanksgiving break, I was searching for something I might want to drink serve with dinner tomorrow.  There was good news and bad news.  First the good, the 2004 Murphy Goode Snake Eyes Zinfandel Elaine Maria Vineyard was delicious. The 2004 vintage is 100% Zinfandel from Elaine Maria Vineyards in Alexander Valley, owned by Elaine Foppiano. Only 40 barrels were selected for this bottling. Aged in French and American oak barrels, this is a powerful Zin with the balance and structure to age. Classic flavors of black cherry, currant and raspberry jam, the wine balances intense fruit with rich tannins and a lingering finish.  Best off, it boasts 15% alcohol without being hot, and I donít mean 'hot' in the CSI Miami Natalia 'hot', I mean in the alcohol-choking flavor 'hot'.  The bad news of the day was that this was the last bottle on the shelf and I couldnít buy another while at JRís.   The redeeming feature for my dinner tomorrow was a shipment that was waiting for me at the house when I got home from High Point Wines.  In there was a bottle of Two Hands Angelís Share Shiraz that I will be consuming serving to myself my guests.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

November 20, 2009

As the Panther game was pissing me off, I flipped through the HBO selections last night.  They have some great movies on right now.  As Flash of Genius, which obviously has relevance to me, was in progress, I DVRíd that and watched The Changeling.  The take away from the movie; forget the long history of LAís police force not getting the job done.  I saw it as a precursor to the OJ trial.  My big take away was that Mira Loma was called Wineville until the chicken coop murders.  See, there is a redeeming value to television.  While I was watching, I was sipping.  Since it was a Thursday night, I had a bottle of Trentadue Old Patch Red 2005 from Sonoma County.  I also call that area Wineville.  This blend of 70% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah, 5.5% Carignane, 4.5% Syrah clocks in at 14.9% alcohol and could be a nice warm up for the Thanksgiving Day feast.  The wine comes out jammy and peppery with black cherry, plum, an earthiness and herb nose and a pleasant finish.  I didnít mind replacing the screw cap and popping it in the fridge for finishing tonight.  Nice weekday wine.

November 18, 2009

Wino John stocked up on a boatload of wine yesterday and he needed someone to load his truck.  Seeing my ďwill work for wineĒ sign hanging around my neck, he dangled a powerful zinfandel in front of my nose.  In a flash, I was in.  We headed up to High Point Wines and fire-brigaded cases and cases and cases and cases of juice into the extended bed Explorer.  Wow, that was just for this week.  Exhausted and wanting payment, we headed over to a Thai place in Pompton Plains.  Wino Odd Job joined with a great bottle of white from Kelham Vineyards to start our feast of spicy dinners of fish and chicken and duck, and I think cat.  Look, with enough curry, cat and chicken are hard to tell apart.  I kid; I didnít order the cat this time.  I needed an excuse to go back.  I will have to see if red curry or green curry goes better with feline.  I am sure I can Google it. 

The zin, which I did not get the label information, was hot.  Not in the Sarah Palin running shorts hot, rather in the high alcohol per centage hot.  The label, which at one point I did read, boasted a whopping 15.3% alcohol.  Itís almost a fruit killer at that point.  Fortunately we kept refilling our glasses and some of the alcohol blew off.  We did find wine under the hood.  I brought a bottle of S.P Drummer red.  It was only 14.2% alcohol and blended from cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.  The wine could have toned down a bit of the woodiness from the oak aging.  The black cheery and plum were inviting but I found the finish less than exciting.  Good thing the conversation was lively and before we realized all three bottles were empty and the proprietor was showing us to the door.  (Editor's note:  The Zin was from Neyers Vineyards in Napa Valley.  It was a Cellar Selection from the private cellars of Wino Wally.  Thanks, Wal !!!)

November 13, 2009

I was bored last night.  I wasted time flipping through the channels.  Just before settling in on a movie on IFC, I grabbed a glass of Fetzer Zinfandel and a plate of cheese and crackers.  When it comes to cheese, I like Swiss on my sandwich, cheddar on my eggs, and a host of others for crackers.  As I started munching away, a thought hit me; how do you know when cheese is bad?  I think I ate some cheese last night that was moldy, had the stench of dead fish and was priced just short of a precious metal.  I know the difference between bad wine and wine I do not like.  But when it comes to cheese, I just canít figure it out.  When I have a chunk of cheddar and I see mold, I toss it.  But if I have Stilton or bleu cheese, the mold is the key to its pleasure.  Leaving milk out for three days is bad, putting sour cream on your baked potato is delicious.  I think I threw out a twenty-five dollar hunk of a prized cheese, but I was so turned off to the smell I just couldnít get it into my mouth.  Most times with wine, I like the nose and get disappointed with the taste.  Fortunately, I tough it up and drink the wine that offends me.  I just havenít gotten to that point yet with cheese.  Who the hell said wine and cheese was a perfect match anyway?  I bet it was those French.  Son-of-a bitch...

November 11, 2009

On this Veteranís Day we go no farther than Fort Hood to find fallen heroes.  We honor those whose lives were cut short by an enemy from within.

November 8, 2009

Recovery is just around the corner.  My hands only shake once an hour now so I think I can start drinking again.  Just a small follow up to the Turkeyfest.  I was visited today by the good folks of the ASPCA and PETA as someone in my neighborhood found five fowl carcasses in my trash can.  They wanted to know if we were holding some kind of cult ritual and sacrificing birds as part of the ceremony.   After an intense one-hour interview, the pictures of the fest and the 11 empty wine bottles convinced them it was not a cult, just a small gathering of winos.  I told them I would be happy to appear in the nude with Pamela Anderson for their next PETA promotion.  They told me my Pinot wasnít big enough to hold an audience and went away muttering under their breath about an Alcoholic Anonymous PSA they would recommend for me. 

Mrs. Wino Bob is a saint but was glad the boys had their fun.  She doesnít get the 'wake up and leave' thing and told me my hosting skills suck because I wasn't up early offering breakfast to the crowd.  Thatís just not how the fest thing works I informed her.  She volunteered to make sure next timeÖ.. Hey what the hell is Wino Rocker still doing walking around my house in his bathrobe?  Dude, the party is over, go home.  And no, you canít stay here again tonight and head to work in the morning.  Caution to the next fest host; make sure someone else drives Wino Rocker to your house, otherwise one never knows what day he might decide to leave.

Thanks to all who cooked, cleaned and participated in a fun night.

November 7, 2009

In what I might describe as the mix of an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy and a hot air balloon launch, The Other Bob marveled us last night with his culinary talent.  Turkeyfest 09 saw gallons of oil bubbling over blazing propane tanks and pounds of foul.  Having one time to get the most out of this, we added a duck, a chicken and two Cornish hens in addition to the turkey.  Hey, once the oil was hot we decided to deep-fry anything not nailed down.  We even threw in a few Nathanís hot dogs.  TOB made his famous fried onions and I added some falafel just for kicks.  As my shaky, hung over fingers keep hitting the wrong key, it would take me a week to write a thousand words.  But this will do...

Wino Odd Job had a special request to deep fry the turkey neck, see plastic bag lower right.  The food was outstanding though not an easy operation.  The 13-pound turkey took about 45 minutes.  The key being not to let the oil run too hot or too cool.  If I wore a hat, I would tip it, or better yet I would say hats off to the yeomanís job the chefmeister general did.  The best part is he brings all the special tools necessary for success.  I stand corrected; the best part of the night was the fact that my house wasnít burned down with two hot oil pots blazing away for hours.  (Editor's note:  Our sincere thanks to Mrs. WinoBob for allowing us to make a complete mess of her house while also making a huge racket into the wee hours of the morning all while she remained peacefully withdrawn to the upstairs quarters of the WinoBob estate.  You're a saint...)

And what would a fest be without the true stars of the night.  Winos and Winettes, I present the line up. Another thousand wordsÖ

As the labels might be too hard to read, I list for you the bottles that gave up their holdings for our enjoyment.  In no particular order; we drank through the following.

2006 Dancing Bull Zinfandel

2004 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 Hartford Zinfandel

2003 Craneford Shiraz- one of my offerings and the one I liked least.

1995 Castello di Brolio Casalferro

2001 Zlatan Plavac- Croatia born and possibly the dad of zinfandel.

2004 Renato Ratti Marcejasco Barolo

2001 Capcanes Cabrida

2001 Vieilles Vignes Chateauneuf du Pape- yes, I said Chateauneuf.

1999 Insignia- the perfect partner for the double chocolate brownies.

There was a surprise from Wino John for the night, a white Burgundy.  Thatís right folks, WJ is all about white Burgundy with his bird. 

2004 Louis Latour Chassagme Montrachet Chenevottes. 

If you noticed, we fell short of out two bottles per person requirement.  I am saying we are getting old.  Thatís all for now as I need to rest from the strain of typing with a hangover.  Maybe more to follow when the brain, hands and stomach are back in sync.

November 6, 2009

Let me open with a birthday shout out to my younger brother who is developing a classic palate.  It saves me money on a card. 

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing old friends.  OK, I consider them friends, they consider me H1N1.  It was Drouhin night at the Essex County Wine Society and you know my history with the Drouhins.  Forget their prominence in Burgundy, they hold the distinct honor of the only brother/sister wine barons to choke me in public at two separate events.  I know that there is an entirely new crowd reading the page so I ask you to search out my entry of February 11, 2003 when all of this was made possible by Big Bob inviting Wino John and I to a Drouhin dinner at CKís Steakhouse.  As I am a bit hung over, I was going to repost that entry but no, that would NOT be the quality entertainment you come here for.  For you too lazy to go into the archives, that night was the first encounter of the WinoStuff crew and Veronique Drouhin.  For me, it was the launching pad of my renown wine writing career.  (Or more realistically it fueled me enough to writer better stuff).  Also check out March 5, 2004, and Old Breaking news. 

Last night we tasted wines from the 2006 vintage and worked our way south to north.  Laurent and the affable Nicole from Dreyfus Ashby delivered stellar insight into the world of pinot.  Iím still not a convert but I drank very hard last night in an attempt to merge the educational input of Laurent with my nose and palate.  Admittedly, I am not elegant and I am OK with that for now.  I have been looking at blousy shirts and toying with lavender in my wardrobe so there might be hope for me to understand those feminine, elegant, Burgundies.

In a nutshell, I liked the more masculine and the bold wines, but that is no surprise.  I listened to the members at my table to try and open up. Here is the line up from last night.

Drouhin Chablis

Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches 1er Cru

Drouhin Beaune Greves 1er Cru

Drouhin Corton Bressandes Grand Cru

Drouhin Vosne Romanee

Drouhin Chambolle Musigny

Drouhin Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru

Drouhin Gevrey Chambertin

Drouhin Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru

I am digging the terrior thing better as Laurent was specific on the soil structures from each of their properties and the differences in the wines we compared.  As for the nuanced elegance, I am still searching.

My personal favorites were the Vosne Romanee and the Charmes Chambertin.  I had the most trouble with the Clos des Mouches and the Chambolle Musigny as thin and neutered came to mind.  But hey, who am I?   Oh yeah, Wino Bob, the world renounced writer at WinoStuff.com.

November 2, 2009

Exciting day in the wine world yesterday for me.  Fellow ECWS member, Lyman Dally kicked off his art exhibit Imagination Uncorked.  It is running through early January at the Gaelan Gallery East in West Orange, NJ.  Hop on http://www.oentourage.com to check out Lymanís perspective of wine and life.  Personally, I like his Gothic Pour and Eau dívie Eau dímort.  Move over Thomas Arvid, there is a fresh, creative artist on the scene.  I find my art in the bottle; Lyman finds his inspired by the bottle.  Best of luck in your new career.

October 31, 2009

Is it wrong to offer kids wine when they come to the door?  Just asking...  I donít have any candy at the house.  I bet a kid would rather get wine than what we had to deal with.  Our trick-or-treating held rumors of apples with razor blades, candy bars with pins and the dreaded bag of pennies from the old lady around the corner.  Her house was creepy everyday of the year. I understand there are sections of Newark were the concept of tricks for treats has an entirely different meaning. 

So I am sitting here in the dark, pretending I am not at home and wishing away the time for this doorbell to stop ringing.  It actually affords me some research time as I have begun a personal endeavor to better understand the wines of Portugal.  NO, not port wines, I am talking about the still wines that come from the 13 wine regions of the country. 

 

I have enjoyed several wines from the Douro, and Alentejo regions and recently purchased a bottle from Dao and Bairrada that I am interested in opening.  I have only had a few white wines from Vinho Verde, which were simple, inexpensive wines with not much for me to be excited about.

The other night I had a bottle of Quinta de Carmo Reserva from the Alentejo Region produced by Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite).  The wine was made from Aragon 50%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20%, Syrah 20%, and Trincaderia 10%.  It started tight and needed time out in the fresh air.  Reasonably priced it had nice fruit, the cabernet came out up front while tobacco, coffee and eucalyptus washed through the back palate. 

The hunt is on for the next few months for me to locate those finds.  I will let you know as I progress.  Send me suggestions and I will be glad to learn more.

October 24, 2009

I realize that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and the time-worn discussion of what to service with dinner creeps into the wine writersí minds.  If all goes well, we have a chance to Turkeyfest early.  This will give us a chance to find wines that will deliver at the table.  I wanted to start sampling a bit early and grabbed a zinfandel for fun.  It was the 2007 Dancing Bull from Rancho Zabaco. Their story follows:

For Zinfandel Lovers seeking a truly unique experience, Rancho Zabaco is producing some of Americaís hottest Zinfandels. Our winemaker Eric Cinnamon, has created a range of Zinfandel blends from some of Californiaís most respected growing regions that appeal to a wide variety of wine drinkers.

Rancho Zabaco wines bear the name of one of Old Californiaís earliest land grants Ė the Tzabaco Rancho. In those days, the area was a colorful mixture of missions, haciendas, and ranches. Today itís an area known as the Dry Creek Valley "Zin Zone." Our Chiotti Vineyard, actually sits on part of that historic property.

Aside from Rancho Zabacoís specialty in Zinfandel, we also produce exceptional Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah.

Aside from sounding like the next cult commune to find an alternative route to heaven, I like the quality and value of their wines.  The inexpensive zin provides a very approachable wine boasting flavors of blackberry, blueberry and a vanilla spicy finish.  As their low end, its not the main meal possibility but it is easy to drink, a bit less in alcohol then their single vineyard stuff and can act as the perfect warm up act for the serious stuff.  I like this wine for what it is.  Look, at $8.99 this wine is worth trying.

October 18, 2009

Flamboyant as a red polka dot dress?  I guess the person making the label had run out of terms worthy of a wine.  At $6.99 this wine was like a polka dot dress at a formal affair.  This wine stood out, but not in a good way.  Even at sub ten dollars, I am saying this was a bust.  The 2008 Tapena is 100% garnacha but gravely suffers from flamboyance and flavor.  I found no whispers of white pepper nor velvety finish.  I give the writer for the label a B for trying to put lipstick on a pig, but the disconnect between the product and words was too large to be ignored.  I think this wine could be used for cooking a simmering puller pork.  Not a good way to start a weekend of drinking.

I came a bit closer on this bargain but at the end of the weekend I was 0-2 sitting like the Angels at Yankee Stadium.   This red from Douro strung me out to extra innings but at the end broke from the correct choice and errantly went awry.  A 2006 Lavradores de Feitoria Douro Tinto brought some plum and raspberry but in the end was thin and short.  I spent a whopping $10,00 on this wine.  Not what I had hoped for from my Portuguese friends.  OK, Iím Jonesin' for some good stuff.  The hope that gets me up in the morning is the arrival of the Esprit de Beaucastel I ordered through High Point Wines after our tasting at the ECWS.  I should have that this week and I am shaking like a newborn in anticipation of cracking my first bottle and washing quality juice over my taste buds. 

October 13, 2009

Oh no, my second NYC wine event in less than a week.  Am I becoming that which I make fun of?  Have I entered into a level of chic Manhattan socializing?  OK, I was a guest both times and since "Wino Bob" appears in the W section of everyoneís address book, the A-V crowd must have had other plans.  Saturday was the Food Networkís Grand Tasting at the Pier and had I reserved a park bench to sleep on that night, I would have tasted my way through the wines and spirits thrust upon me as I walked from stem to stern.  It was a beautiful early fall day with blue skies, a mild cool breeze and an airplane-free Hudson River.  I did find out that the 2005 Zaca Mesa Syrah is not as robust as the 2003 we enjoyed at the last wine tasting at The Tree Tavern.  In my spirit samplings, all the vodka I tried was grain-based.  Iím thinking there is a discrimination against the potato.  Why?  Because the potato is starchy and white?  My Polish roots take offense to that.  Even the Irish vodka was produced from grain and those people eat potatoes with everything.  Whatís up with that?

Last night my younger, hipper, Manhattan-living brother invited me to the Columbus Day Wine Down.  I learned that the Wine Down is a monthly event hosted by the President and Creative Director of the Liquid Assets Consulting Group, Michael Green.  Mr. Green, until recently, consulted and wrote about wines and spirits for Gourmet magazine.  I am wondering since WinoStuff is still in publication and Gourmet Magazine is not, if Mr. Green would be interested in ruining his reputation by writing a guest column for the not defunct WinoStuff.com.  We creators of content need to stick together. 

The theme of the tasting was Wines of the USA in celebration of Columbus Day. Though when I think of Columbus Day I think of the West Indies, small pox and pillaging.  It must have been the public school text books I read.  Secondly, I think of Spanish wines since Spain financed Columbus.  Thirdly, I think of Italy so Italian wines come to mind.  The Wine Down thought made in the USA.  I guess my creativity drifts.

There were wines from Delaware, Virginia, Long Island, Oregon and California.  I tried most of the reds but sadly California captured my attention with the Salvestrin Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, the Rockpile Zinfandel and the Belle Glos Pinot Noir.  Yes, I said Pinot.  Judging by the crowd, I would say that the California table was most popular.  It also turned out that the person pouring at the table was well versed in her knowledge of the wines she offered.  Her pitch was smooth and informative immediately enhancing and engaging my interests. 

Though I probably wonít be a regular at the Wine Downs with my commitments to ECWS and the NNJ Wine Meetups, I look forward to attending from time to time.  For those interested, the Wine Downís next event is December 2nd at BLVD on the Lower East Side. 

October 10, 2009

With a need for a meeting, the triumvirate met for dinner at Penang, a favorite place to meet in East Hanover.   It was a working dinner so no time to sip and savor, we were on a mission.  I brought a bottle of Summers Charbono as a warm up.  Wino John treated us to a wine he brought back from his recent junket to France.   The 2005 Chateau LíEscadre Major was very approachable and turned in a new world style.  We completed diner with a Frogís Leap Zinfandel.  Clearly the topics of the meeting were blurred by the third bottle and who remembers if we even discussed anything we were supposed to?  Letís face it, we meet to drink; anything else is a gain.  I think its time for another meeting.  

October 9, 2009

Last night, driving home from the fist tasting of the Essex County Wine Society, I had a Chateauneuf du Pup Tent in my shorts.  I was close to a plane between euphoria and orgasmic.  Maybe I am premature in my Chris Matthews leg thrill as the 2007 CDPs are supposed to be better than the 06 we tasted.  This was a rather unique tasting, first because of the role I stepped into at the last minute.  I was the head cheese cutter.  I had to arrive early and cut the cheese for the event.  It was only because the assigned cutter of the cheese flew off to France for some R&R and he dubbed me the cheese cutter stand in.  I must say I filled the role of cutting the cheese brilliantly.

The ten Chateauneufs had a murder mystery theme with twists and turns and a surprise ending.  The presenter should write for CSI Miami.  The first three wines were presented as a mini vertical of Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe La Crau.  The 1998 was still full of life, the 2000 was OK and the 2006 was surprisingly approachable.  I was amazed that the 98 still is tannic and chewy and could bottle age for quite some time.

We then shifted to the following Chateauneuf de Papes, all 2006 vintage:

  • Domaine de Ferrand - this was my loser of the night.

  • Le Vieux Donjon

  • G.A.E.C. Charvin - the nose on this one made me want to spread it on a piece of toast, blackberry jam.

  • Clos des Papes

  • Domaine de Saint Prefert Auguste Favier

  • Chateau de Beaucastel

  • Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel (Paso Robles) - Surprise, bottle shock, winner, winner.  This USA property of Beaucastel stole the night for me and a wide variety of the crowd.  Well played.  With a retail price of $37.99 I am saying this will be my new bath water. 

As you can see the presenter placed a great deal of thought to make this interesting and informative.  Kudos to Gary.  I look forward to many more presentations by this member.

Next month, Laurent Drouhin graces the stage and treats us to an inside baseball look at wines of the Drouhin properties.  OK, itís Burgundy, but I look forward to seeing Laurent.

October 2, 2009

It has been awhile since the Northern Jersey wine meetup group got together.  Last night ended the dry spell.  Held at the Tree Tavern in Wanaque, guests sampled from 28 wines, snacked on a variety of cheeses and mingled for more than three hours.  I manned one of the tables and Big Bob handled the other.  I poured a host of white wines, a rose and several reds while the popular table offered all reds.  The crowd started with the whites to warm up but fancied the reds.  From the selection, the star of the white wines was Sonoma Cutrer followed closely by the Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc.  The rosť was sparsely touched.  As for the reds at my table, the Turnbull Old Bull was a hit.

I understand that the Chateau Siaurac and the Mollydooker Two Left Feet garnered great reviews.  The night was capped by a sampling of Gajaís Promise Super Tuscan, Banfiís Brunello di Montalcino and the Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon.  I did dip into the Chalk Hill.  Carrying a 2005 vintage, I found it seductively mellow.  Reasonabley priced at $55.55, I say this was impressive.  It was a pleasure meeting many of the new faces and it was a delight to see several of the original crowd but it was the support of the Winsters from the Wanaque Reserve that brought the troops.  Kudos to Wino Barry for rallying the gang.

Looking forward to the next meetup and bringing more new faces to the group.


Bobís scale combining cost and taste: 

 

$- under 20 dollars
$$- 20-50 dollars
$$$
-50-75 dollars
$$$$
-75 to 100 dollars
$$$$$
-100+ ( not in the budget)

 

I will use an icon, , to rate my wines.  The more icons, the better I liked it and would love to share this bottle with some good food and my rat friends.  WinoBob

Editor's Note: A while back, Bob went off on a tangent and changed his icon to .  He does this just to make me crazy!!!.  
WinoJohn


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