Friday, December 26, 2008

Expansion of the Russian River Valley Appellation: Big Business Ploy or Natural Evolution

Wow, it's been over a month since the last article! Since keeping this blog updated with new and interesting topics is one of my new years resolutions, I thought why not start early. Today's entry deals with a topic this is hot, I would expect, for those involved in the California Wine industry. Appellations and the expansion there of. Recently Wine Spectator published a piece in its Upfront section that dealt with the proposed expansion of the Russian River appellation in the Sonoma County, California. The expansion, if approved, would add 14,000 acres located in the Sonoma Coast appellation to the Russian River app.

This move is somewhat controversial for a couple of reasons. One is that if the expansion does take place, many will attribute it to the political might and power of the Ernest & Julio Gallo empire, which is the main proponent of the change. The second reason is that many opposed to the expansion argue that the soils and climate conditions are quite different from those that have made the Russian River famous. Both sides have dug in their heels and are waiting for the Board of Russian River Valley Wine Growers to vote on the proposal. A previous attempt failed two years ago when the Board unanimously opposed the change. If the growers association supports the expansion, most believe the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) will approve the petition and make the expansion law.

So where do I stand? Well, quite frankly, I believe that this decision could have serious impact on the legitimacy and reputation of the entire California wine industry. As I grow and advance as a wine lover, I have become more convinced that Terrior is more than just a French philosophical concept but is the true origin of great wine. There is something distinct and unique about wine that comes from a certain viticulture. I dare anyone to tell me that a wine that come from Barolo tastes the same as a wine made from nebbiolo grapes anywhere else in the world. It is just not the case. The great wine making regions of Europe have used their appellations to defined their terrior, we in America must do the same, if we ever want to claim a place of equality beside France and Italy.

The Russian River Valley wines have begun to establish a reputation of high quality and the wine public has been responding accordingly. With such being said, it’s no surprise that the Gallos would want to capitalize on this appellation's name and market appeal. It would be a great shame, though, if we ruined this region's growing reputation by allowing politics or money to “water” the appellation down. If the Board of Winegrowers and the TTB are wise, they will make their decision only after a detailed analysis of soil and climate is complete. If that results indeed show that the terrior is all but the same, then by all means make the expansion. However, if the results show what most expect, that the area in question is more influenced by the Pacific ocean than the Russian River, then they most not allow the expansion to take place. If they do, they will prove that the all mighty dollar is more powerful than the creation of a world class wine industry. And that would indeed be a loss to us all.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wines had during Vernon Party

Saturday evening in Sussex County was a backdrop for a birthday celebration of two cousins. It was also a platform to partake in some vino--with wine supply exceeding demand in recent months in my house, it was high time to tap into a few bottles that have awaited their chances to be showcased. Keeping with the theme of 'trying new wines' that we've all adopted this year, I kept true to this, and pulled out and dusted off two reds and one white.

This was shocking--you have to expect that for trying several wines in a sitting you're apt to find one or more that disappoint, and hope to find a diamond in the rough. But, what if you encounter three diamonds?

Ranked from worst to first, below are my results:

3. 2005 Cortese Piedmonte Il Cascinone (Italian Cortese, $12.99)--this fruity smelling treat bore the nose of green apples and ripe fruits. The taste was dry and well balanced, having flavors of sour candy. The incredible length of this light treat made the experience an enjoyable one. Score: 3.5

2. 2006 Tasmorcan Barbera D'Asti (Italian Barbera, $16.99)--having a very vanilla and caramel candy aroma to it, this slightly brown colored gem had a very pronouned oak and cream taste to it. It had a very smooth flavor and lasted especially long. In the end I could pick up hints of black cherry soda. All in all, wow. Score: 4.0

3. 2002 Merlot Umbria Falesco (Italian Merlot, $14.00)--also having a very oaky and candy aroma to it, this wine had a more pronounced fruity bouquet on the nose than it's competitors in this comparison. The taste quickly reminded me of cream soda mixed with maraschino cherries, but slightly lower on the sweetness scale. It was a light to medium bodied wine with a nice all around profile and very enticing but not prolonged length. Another terrific find, and the best of class. Score: 4.0

Let's just hope we have that kind of luck next time!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Results of the October 18 Wine Tasting

A cool and clear night with a steady flame in the firepit on Dawson's patio was the backdrop of the first winetasting in nearly two months for us. This first of it's kind 'pot luck' theme was simple to follow--bring two bottles of something you haven't had before, red or white, already masked in either a paper bag or foil for a double-blind approach to this event. With the autumn air rolling in, it certainly made sense that we'd likely be tasting more reds than whites. The final count was two whites and 6 reds.

The results of this tasting (from worst to first using the traditional 1-5 scale, 5 being the highest) are listed below:
1. 2004 Chateau Gardey Minervois (French blend, $7.99)--a lot of pepper was detected on the nose and pallate with this one. It also offered up a vanilla and oak scent, with some vegetal tones as well. Despite the length this wine presented to the group, it's awkward delivery and finish did not convince us of it's overall drinkability--Total Score 7.0, Average Score 1.75

2. 2003 Chateau Greysac Bordeaux (French blend, $18.00)--this wine offered the anticipated oaky and vanilla components on the nose, but upon tasting seems to have somehow been 'watered down', quickly killing any lasting efforts on the pallate--Total Score 9.5, Average Score 2.375

3. 2006 Frog's Leap Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (California Cab, $40.00)--the group was in agreement that a very tight nose gripped this wine. A sweet yet very dry impression was had upon tasting, with the group also catching strong tanins. Dark fruits were abundant, but not enough to slot this effort any higher than 6th place out of 8 wines, especially at this price point--Total Score 11.5, Average Score 2.875

4. 2003 Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano D'Abruzzo (Italian Montepulciano, $12.00)--a candylike scent was sensed early on, with the expected oak, vanilla, and pepper components to the smell and taste. It had a nice length and reasonable smoothness. For the price a nice job! Total Score 12.0, Average Score 3.0

5. 2001 Hunt Cellars Syrah (Paso Robles, California Syrah, $27.50)--no recent tasting has been complete without some contribution from Paul Santinelli's arsenal of California faves. This reasonably sweet effort had a nicely balanced oak and vanilla nose and taste, with subtle pepper and seasonings in the mix. It was deemed serviceable and one to seek out again up the road. Total Score 12.5, Average Score 3.125

6. 2007 Cederberg Chenin Blanc (South Africa Chenin Blanc, $14.99)--the first of three to have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack was this white, which came across on the nose with a citris rind. It also had minerality and grassy hints to the smell. The taste was acidic and dry, having a minimal but detectable amount of lemon and/or lime in it's profile. Total Score 14.0, Average Score 3.5

7. 2007 Chateau St. Michelle Reisling (Columbia Valley, Washington Riesling, $9.00)--just edging the Cederberg out for 2nd place honors was this pear and melon scented effort from the Pacific Northwest. The citris and mineral tones to it's flavor composition were nicely organized, and when complimented with it's acidity and dryness, the group had no choice but to give this terrific selection a resounding 'thumbs up', except for Anthony, who preferred the Cederberg as the white of choice this evening. Total Score 14.5, Average Score 3.625

(Before unveiling the winner, it should be made clear that this was a major upset)

8. 2006 Alba Vineyard Old Mill Red (New Jersey Chambourcin, $17.00)--wow, the Garden State edging out Italy, France, South Africa, and the West Coast? This time, YES. The nose on this gem was very enticing, bearing lots of candylike tones, such as cinnamon and caramel. Vanilla and oak were detected both on the nose and pallate, and the medium tanins made this a VERY drinkable and enjoyable play. Upon tallying the scores, it was obvious this 8 wine contest had a clearcut winner--Total Score 16.5, Average Score 4.125

Once again another wine event has come and gone, so be sure to check on Wine Legends for updates on the next event!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Winemaking 101: Part I

Okay folks, Friday was the first part of our winemaking experiment. Myself, Mike, Hany, and Mike's friend Pete, (DUMB AL, not showing up!) met at a “Littletasteofpurple” on Dorsa Ave in Livingston, N.J. and began the crushing. We crushed enough grapes to make 1 barrel and 1/2. When finished, we will have created two types of wine, Bordeaux blend and an Old vine Zinfandel. We all pitched in and getting the grapes into the crusher and watched how the machine amazingly removed most of the stems and fed the juice, skins and seeds into a huge vat. We sampled the mixture after straining it and I have to say it was the best grape juice I've ever tasted. Tasted much like a grape milkshake, minus the milk of course.

Once in the vat, sulfites and super food were added and we began to punch it down and mix it. Once thoroughly mixed we covered the vat with plastic and set it aside for a week. In this time, the super food will help the mixture produce the yeast needed for fermentation. We are going back in a week’s time to press the mixture and siphon it into the barrels. Below are some pics of the process. I can't speak for the others, but I had a great time and would highly recommend it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Return to Wine Library

Hey folks. In a last minute decision, I dragged my son down to Wine Library in Springfield, N.J. to take advantage of some heavily advertised sales today that I've seen on Wine Library TV over the past several weeks. In particular, 2005 Bordeaux was an offering discussed (see that was available in vast quantities. So, I thought I'd take a look and see if I could find something at a decent price that I could pick up or even sample. Before starting my shopping, of course Max wanted to poke around and see the place. He found the huge aquarium on the 2nd Level not too far from the Wine Tasting tables. Well, call it good timing or call it whatever else you like, but right when we were there looking at the fish (and dodging the folks browsing all the sampling stations) an employee from the Wine Library came out stating that Gary Vaynerchuk would be doing a taping of Wine Library right where we were at the tasting table in a few minutes. As that was said, Mr. Mott appeared carrying his camera and tripod ("Mott", as Gary refers to him on Wine Library TV). Soon enough he and his guest(I think he said his name was 'Joe') came out and began talking to a few folks nearby as well as ready their set. I took an opportunity to introduce myself to "Mott", and he seemed appreciative for my acknowledging me being a regular viewer of the show. Afterward, Gary took a look over and saw Max staring at him (since he's seen him enough times on the computer while I watched shows) and said 'hello', to which Max quickly responded back with a hearty 'hi'. I waved to Gary figuring he had recognized me previously at Costco, but he went right into the start of his show--oh well.

After a few minutes Max had his fill of watching the taping of the show as well as watching the fish, so we had to take a walk and began our search for something to buy. We headed back downstairs and looked at the numerous opened cases of French wines available. I came across a small tasting station and began reading about a wine on sale for $14.98 ( The fellow at the station had me try a small shotglass sized cup of this wine (it had been decanting for a few hours). The nose was very fruity, mostly a dark berries type of aroma--a very nice start! The body was medium- heavy and fruit filled, high in tanins, and very complex. It also had earthy, almost vegetal, overtones to it. What I really enjoyed was the tremendous length across my entire pallete. Nice wine. So, with that experience, I thought a bit, and after thinking back to my experiences with previous medium to medium-heavy reds like this, they really mixed nicely with hard cheeses and cream-based pasta dishes (such as my Tri-Color Tortellini Alfredo). This compelled me to pick up not one, but two of them--I also visited the gourmet foods part of the store, and decided upon a wedge of California Monterrey Jack cheese (I did originally have my heart set on picking up a package of Cowgirl cheese-any variety, but for $28, I had to pass on that). I didn't get a chance to chat with Gary this time around, but I think Max got a kick out of being acknowledged by him!

Monday, September 22, 2008

A New Bottle, A New Learning Experience

I stopped by my local Bottle King this weekend looking to pick up an everyday wine for the week's dinners. Not surprisingly, a sale item caught my eye in the Italian reds section. It is no secret that my bias toward Italian wines runs pretty deep. That notwithstanding, I've been known to be quite harsh on vino from the sunny peninsula that disappoints my pallet. Well this time, not only was the wine a pleasant tasting experience, it was a chance to increase my wine Q.

The wine that I chose was called Ramitello, Molise Terra Degliosci, 2004. This is a blend of 85% prugnolo and 15% aglianico. I made my choice based on two factors, first price: on sale of $11.00 a bottle, and second on the desire to taste a wine made from a grape or grapes I did not know. The nose of this wine was nothing special or unique. I detected an odor of Black Cherry and Burnt Rubber. However the actual flavor of the wine was much more intriguing. It started out with fruit, again most reminiscent of cherry. However, once the wine crossed the mid pallet it turned bitter and had the distinct taste of black Licorice. The final round of the tasting experience was quite pleasing with a coating of dark chocolate. The tannins were in the low to medium range, which made the wine very smooth and amicable to drinking without food. And what was must exhilarating was the long lasting taste. I would say the tasting experience lasted for about 2 minutes after the wine had made its way to my stomach. Overall, I would give the wine a solid 3.5 on our traditional rating scale. It definitely made my list for repeat purchase.

But you might ask, what about this learning experience? Well this occurred after I took to the Internet to learn more about the grapes and that region that the wine came from. By the way, the town/village of origin was Campomarino. Campomarino, in the region of Molise is located on the Gulf of Taranto, The best way to describe this location is inside of the heel of the boot that is the Italian peninsula. So what about the grapes? Well I learned that prugnolo was not new to me at all. In fact it is simply another name for the Sangiovese grape that is used to describe that grape when it is grown in the town of Montepulciano. Why the different names for the same grape and why the producers chose to use this name in an area so far from Montepulciano? Well, I really don’t know and I’d be very interested in hearing anyone’s theory on the subject. In any case, despite the fact that my efforts to try a new grape were foiled, the wine drinking experience was quite enjoyable and I engaged in the proverbial practice of “learning something new, every day.”

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Personal Wine Making

I realized that it has been some time since this blog has been updated. Therefore, in a last ditch effort to avoid this blog fading into cyber obscurity, I thought I'd share an experience I had this past Saturday. Michael DeChiara and I spent a stormy afternoon (the remnants of Hurricane Hannah) at "A Little Taste of Purple" (formerly the Wine Room) in Livingston, New Jersey. This is a personal winemaking establishment that has been in business since 2001 and Mike has used for the last couple of years to make his very own, high quality wine. Saturday and Sunday were their tasting days. This was an excellent opportunity to taste virtually every wine the establishment offers to its customers. Throughout the afternoon we tasted wines made from Barbera, Brunello, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel,Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Grenache and various blends. All the grape varieties are grown in six California regions and shipped out to New Jersey within days of harvesting. The six regions are Mendocino County, Lake County, Sonoma County, Suisun Valley, Sierra Foothills, and Lodi.

So, all the wine we tasted was made by amateurs, here in New Jersey, with the assistance of a professional winemaker. Having tasted my share of homemade wine and its often 200 proof alcohol content, it goes without saying that did not expect much in terms of quality. Well, I'm happy to report that I was wrong. For the most part, the wines that we sampled were professional quality. I will even go as far as to say they were indistinguishable from the low to medium cost professional product that most California wineries put on the market each year. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my notepad and didn’t really feel up to rating the wines individually.

With that being said, I saw little to discourage me from participating in the winemaking experience this year. Although the cost is not insignificant, the amount of wine you end up walking away with in a year's time amounts to about $11 a bottle. I say not a bad bargain when you add in the take a way of actually having made the wine yourself. Mike and I agreed that we, along with a couple of others, would make a barrel's worth of a traditional Bordeaux blend (which was my favorite of the samples)

So, stay tuned as there will be more to come as I go through the wine making experience. If the idea of making your own wine excites you, I'd encourage you to check out one of these establishments. They website of the place in Livingston is Check it out today.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Next Wine Tasting

I am willing to host the next tasting. I suggest we capitalize on the good fall weather of September and have a tasting the last weekend of September, Saturday the 27th. The weather may be good enough to be outside, at least we can enjoy the post tasting affairs by the fire pit.

Please let me know if the 27th works for everyone.

August 23rd Tasting Results

We had a hell of time this past saturday tasting 7 wines, 2 whites and 5 reds while dining on various cheeses, London Broil and Tortellini. The wines we tasted and rated were:

Mercouri Estate Red, 2004, Greece
Kellerei Gries LaGrein Griese, 2005, Italy
Warwick Pinotage, 2005 Pinotage, South Africa
Forstreiter Gruner veltiner Schiefer, 2006, Austria
Karauserhof Decimo, 2005, Austria
Crios, Torrentes, 2007, Argentina
Nebbiolo, Il Vecchio, 2003, Paso Robles California

Okay, to start, here are a few pics of the event:

All the participants:

The Losers!
Kellerei Gries LaGrein Griese, 2005 Italy & Mercouri Estate Red, 2004, Greece.

And, your WINNER!:

Martin & Weyrich, Nebbiolo Il Vecchio, 2003, Paso Robles, California

The average rating scores were as follows on a 1 to 5 scale:

#1 Nebbiolo Avg. Score: 4.125
#2 Torrentes--Avg. Score: 3.125
#3 Decimo--Avg. Score: 3.0
#4 Lagrein--Avg. Score: 2.375
#5 Pinotage--Avg. Score: 2.375
#6 Gruner veltner-- Avg. Score: 2.25
#7 Mecouri--Avg. Score: 1.375

****Special Thanks to Paul Santinelli for picking and Contibruting the winning wine. Way to go Paul!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The LaVista Scale: Wine Rating Scale of the Future?

Lately I've read a lot about the age old debate over the standard industry 100 point wine rating scale. Some say it's time for a change, others are loyalists to the bitter end. Well, it got me to thinking. Why not create my own wine rating scale? One that would answer my prayers in terms of what I wish the scale would tell me. Give me important relatively objective factors that I can use in selecting a wine for an occasion of passing fancy. Now, I'm not fooling my self into thinking that I've come up with a completely objective scale. I know that we all have our own pallets with different likes and dislikes. No rating scale can account for that. However, I think my idea, though a little complicated, may be the first step on a path to accomplishing my goal.

The LaVista scale, as I so humbly call it, it designed to identify a "well made" wine. A wine that a true lover of wine can appreciate no matter what his or her personal preferences are. It is based on a 20 point score which is the culmination of adding up 4 sub scores that range from 1 to 5. The four sub rating categories are what I find important to the overall wine experience. They are Nose, Flavor, Length, and Smoothness. 5 being the highest score in each sub category. Lets go through these categories one by one.

First there is the Nose. Yes, the "sniffy sniff" as Gary Vaynerchuk would call it. No wine drinking experience would be complete without this opening volley. In rating the nose, I would look for two factors: Multiplicity of odors and the strength of those odors. Obviously a wine with a very tight nose and little odor would be rated a 1. A wine with a variety of recognizable odors that are strong enough to last throughout drinking would be rated a 5. Notice, it doesn't really matter if the odors are to the tasters liking or not, thus the objectiveness of this subcategory.

Second, there is the Taste. This is similar to the Nose in the sense that I would rate a wine with a rainbow of flavors that are easy to taste a 5, those with very little flavor or watery would be a 1. Obviously if the taste is legitimately unpleasant it would rate a 1. But when tasting one would need to make a sincere effort to remain objective. It's not whether you like raspberry, for example, that should determine your rating, but how close the taste is to raspberry that will land you at a score.

Third, is the Length. This is a combination of the wine affecting the front, mid and back pallets as well as how long a taste will linger on the pallet after the drinking is done. Wines that have an affect on all 3 portions of the pallet as well as staying power woould warrant a 5.

Finally, there is what I call Smoothness. This is how easily a wine goes down. Is it harsh and alcoholic or smooth and velvety? Obviously the smoother the better earns the 5 and the harsh, hot wine get the 1.

You tally up your sub scores and arrive a total. 16 to 20 is an exceptionally well made wine. A 10 to 15 is an average to good wine. 5 to 9 is a poor wine and 1 to 4 is just God awful. Hopefully combining these subcategories results in the reader identify well made wines that are worth buying and trying against your pallet. I intend to try this out at the next wine taste. I would hope others would help me give my system a dry run.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Casa Garcia Vinho Verde - Steal of the Summer

I know we"ve discussed this wine previously, but as I sit here on a gorgeous August afternoon quaffing a bottle of newly purchased Vinho Verde, I cant stop thinking what a steal this gem of a Portugese White this wine is. I purchased this at Bottle King for a mere $4.99.

Vinho Verde is generally dry with strong citrus and herb notes. Its not the most complex wine I"ve ever had, but its the perfect wine for a lazy weekend afternoon. It certainly does not represent itself as a "cheap" wine. This is one White I think Anthony would probably enjoy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Try Before You Buy--Marketing Brilliance Outside the Vineyard

I've been meaning to get back to Stew Leonard's for some time now to pick up a few more bottles of wine, having gone through a handful since mid July. I did pick up a pair of Spanish and Portuguese wines (one I've had before, one I haven't), but was interested in taking advantage of one of the numerous specials they have every week. Despite the reasonable prices, I'm often torn by which new one to try. Though I've seen it in my previous visits, I haven't tried out the wines on sale that were available for tasting at the samples bar. Today I decided to give the "try before you buy" approach a shot. Two wines were available for tasting--one was a $26.99 wine from France, the other a $10 from Italy, which I think I've had before (not recalling the exact name). I decided to try the French wine. It was a 2007 Cuvee Speciale Noble Sire Chateauneuf du pape--a blend of Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Picpoul Noir, Terret Noir, Counoise, Muscardin, Vaccarèse and Cinsaut (, 2008). I was told by the server the wine had been opened but not decanted for approximately 5 hours. It had an incredible nose of sweet ripened red berries, and was complemented by a deep red color with medium legs. The taste mirrored the aroma of red sweet berries, along with spicy (mint?) aspects to it (almost making it slightly resemble Black Cherry Soda with a bit more body and zing) . Otherwise I found it was extremely complex (after some initial acidity), had medium tannins, and had a nice long, consistent length--a length I hadn't seen in a red since I broke open my Vigneto Gallina a few months ago. The tremendous length ended with some heat, but hardly enough to discount this very, very goood wine. The notes from the winemaker stated that this wine could be usable immediately or put away for 5-7 years. Either way, trying it out removed the concern over spending the extra money, and I purchased this tasty wine--whether it can hang in there until at least 2013 or get consumed before the end of the summer remains to be seen, but it's nice to know whenever it is opened and given some time to breathe, it will exceed expectations! I rate this wine a solid 4.0 on our traditional 1-5 Scale (5 being the highest), and I would not be surprised that when sipping this after a few cuts of good fresh cheese (White Cheddar, Gouda, Irish, or even Manchego), this could teter on 4.5.

I would like to stress that with its strategy of allowing shoppers to taste various wines before purchasing, Stew Leonards is using a brilliant approach in pushing wines out the door that may otherwise sit as idle inventory. Granted this 'try before you buy' concept is hardly an original idea, retailers like this who take the sale of wine seriously in my opinion will develop a more faithful customer base, and should expect to thrive more so than competitors who follow a more "liquor/packaged goods store"model.

Monday, August 11, 2008

California Nebbiolo? Look out Piedmonte

When one thinks of the Nebbiolo grape, the image that immediately comes to mind is that of the Kings of Italian Red, Barolo and Barbaresco in Piedmonte. And so it should be. After all, these magnificent regions have truly earned their reputations by making superb, powerfully tannic reds that, with proper aging, turn into velvety nectar. But did you know that Nebbiolo has been successfully grown in California? Perhaps you have: but to me this was surprising and hard to believe news. Then again, maybe it was just the wine snob in me rearing his ugly head and refusing to accept that my favorite grape could thrive anywhere but the Italian region of its origin.

Well this weekend, I had the opportunity to open a bottle of wine made from Nebbiolo grapes grown in the Paso Robles appellation of central coast California. A bottle of Adelaida, Nebbiolo 2004 from Glen Rose Vinyard, was sent to me by a good friend and Northern California resident, Paul Santinelli. He had recently taken a trip through the central coast wineries and in fact wrote an article for Winelegends describing his experience. see
In any case, I must say that my own tasting of this wine was quite pleasurable. Now, I'm not going to go as far as to say it was as good as a Barolo or Barbaresco, but I will say it was very good.

I tasted this bottle in a few ways, first right out of the bottle. It had a very tight nose. Slight hints of red cherry and various floral components. It had a very light body, reminiscent of a Pinot Noir, which I was quite surprising concerning that Barolos that I am used to are usually heavier wines. On the pallet, the slight cherry that was present in the nose was abundantly clear. The tannins were present but not as intense as I expected and I would call them medium. The tasting experience ended with a very interesting caramel flavor. I must say a negative was the high alcohol content of 15.5%, which was hot on the throat.

Next I tasted the wine with Gouda cheese, which did an excellent job of taming the tannins as well as the burn of the high amount of alcohol. The cheese certainly made the experience a lot smoother. Finally, I decanted a glass overnight to see the effects. Unfortunately, after 24 hours, the wine seemed to be turning bad, I would bet reasonable decanting of 2 to 4 hours would have had better results. I must point out that this was a 2004 vintage, and therefore had virtually no effects of aging on it. Would I open a fine bottle of 2004 Barolo tonight and expect it to taste amazing? Absolutely not. So with that being said, who knows what this wine would taste like if left to age another 6 to 8 years?

However, despite a couple of drawbacks, my opinion of this wine is that it is quite good and worth buying. Do the producers of Barolo and Barbaresco have something to worry about from California? Well, I wouldn't go that far, but I would rate the wine a solid 3 on our 5 point scale, meaning I would definitely buy a bottle in the future. I suggest you treat yourself a California Nebbiolo, you won't regret it. Many thanks to Paul for introducing me to solid wine.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wines of Austria 101

Perhaps it's Austria's proximity to wine giants like France and Italy that's to blame. Or maybe it's the fact that a nation with a similar sounding name (Australia) has made such strides in recent years. But no matter who or what is the reason, the fact remains that most people don't think of Austria when they think of wine. And it is indeed a shame since this small but very old nation has a lot to offer the wine world. So, in an effort to change this trend, I thought I'd write a little bitty on the basics of Austrian Wines.

Austria has four major wine regions, Weinland Osterreich, Bergland Osterreich, Steierland,and Wien. Weinland Osterreich is by far the largest region making up 92% of the total acreage under vine. These four regions are made up of 16 wine growing areas.

These regions are covered with the vines of 10 major grape varieties, 5 white and 5 red. The whites in order of popularity are Gruner Vetliner, Wielschriesling, Muller-Thursgau, Weifier Burgunder and Reisling. The red or black grapes are Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch, Blaur Portugieser, Blauburger, and Blauer Wildbacher. 75% of all wine produced in Austria is of the white variety, with Gruner Vetliner leading the way at 36.04%. The leader of the 25% red is Zweigelt at 9%. Gruner Vetliner grapes make usually pepper spicy and fruity but dry wines that can range from light to heavy. The Zweigelt wines tend to be fruity, velvety and smooth and can be left to age very well.

In terms of recent vintages, 2006 had a wet spring along with a hot July and a cool wet August. This translated into a reduced yield since the vines were not able to set the fruit properly. The season ended with a dry sunshine filled September and October which allowed for a nice recovery. The result was a harvest with little or no fungus botrytis or noble rot. All and all the vintage, though smaller, is said to have yeilded wines that are quite good, well at least winespector thinks so.

Winespector's vintage chart says the following about Austria:
2006: 96
2005: 92
2004: 89
2003: 88
2002: 90
2001: 89

An excellent paper on Austria and it's wines can be found at the following link, Statistics galore:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Notes on three whites tried this past weekend

A large birthday gathering yesterday, coupled with heat, humidity, and access to a pool made a great stage to try out three white wines from three disparate locales--Italy, Oregon, and Portugal. Listed in order of worst to first, using our standard 1-5 scale, the results are below:

1. 2005 Spago d'Oro Pinot Grigio Veneto (Italy)--this pale yellow, light-bodied wine had the textbook aromatics going on for a Pinot Grigio (flowers, fruit, etc.). It was very acidic and low in sweetness, and had a moderate length. It wasn't bad, but had no pizazz at all. I have one more of these bottles at home, but may unload it at the next party. Cost: $8.99 Score: 2.5

2. 2006 Anne Amie Cuvee Amrita (Oregon, 35% muller-thurgau, 33% pinot gris, 13% riesling, 10% chardonnay, 6% viognier and 3% melon)--the nose was initially very stingy, but after a swirling of this medium bodied blend, the aroma of fruit salad came forth, as well as apple juice. There was also a scent of wet grass (slightly). The taste was identical to me of a watermellon jolly rancher, less some of the sweetness. The acidity was well balanced with the fruity, almost candylike flavors. It had great length overall. This was pretty tasty, and unlike other whites I've tried previously. Not bad at all! Cost: $15.99 Score: 3.5

3. Casal Garcia Vinho Verde White (Portugal, White Blend)--this was very fruity and sweet smelling. Upon drinking it reminded me of a slightly alcoholic berry flavored Powerade. There was very slight effervescence, and with so little alcohol in this wine (10.5%), it went down very easily. There was very little complexity to this light bodied treat, and honestly, at $4.99, it didn't need it-- Score: 4.0

Until next time!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

California Central Coast Wineries: As Good as NAPA?

By Wine Legend's California Columnist Paul Santinelli


When people think of California Wine Country, they immediately think Napa. Well folks, there are many places for wine in California that meet or beat expectations set by Napa.

I saw a great tee-shirt that had me in stiches... "Napa is for auto parts. Paso Robles is for wine." San Luis Obispo County is producing some incredible wines. This county, nestled between the Central California Coast and inland valleys opened my eyes to new Rhone varietals and in some cases less bold, but more bouquet rich Zins, Cabernets and blends.

We hit five wineries yesterday off Highway 46 between Cambria and Paso Robles. If you only have time for two, Norman Vineyards and Adelaida Cellars are must visits. I'm a big fan of small, family owned estates vs. mass production. I'm also a big fan of friendly, knowledgeable staff who aren't starring down their nose at you and reminding you that tastings are $10.

Norman Vineyards was such an experience. Their tasting room and barrel room is connected and you are greeted by a sweet woman from Mansfield, MA. She poured and poured and poured. They are known for their 'Monster Zinfandel.' However, they had an outstanding reserve Cabernet and a Meritage that were nosefuls of fruit and land. Siobhan liked the Norman Viognier so much, she bought two bottles.

Adelaida has such personality. The man behind the counter, a retired stock broker from SoCal, did a fantastic job of prefacing each pour with a story. Adelaida Cellars had two wines that are must buys, even though they are a bit pricey. Their Nebbiolo was outstanding and had an incredible bouquet. It was so good that I added it to the collection of wines being sent to my childhood friend, Anthony LaVista, who writes a wine blog. They also had two Cabernet offerings that were incredible. But at $60 and $75/bottle, they were pricey alternatives to fantastic lineup of wines.

Other wineries visited and worth a mention: Opolo, Justin and Tablas Creek. All very good.

The thing I liked about Paso Robles wineries... it's not just Cabs, Zins and Chardonnays. Siobhan is a big fan of Viognier and this place had quite a selection. I'm not partial to Viognier, as it is usually too sweet for my taste buds, but some of these wines were incredible. I also found some great Rhone varietals at Tablas Creek, some spanish styled in Tempranillo and the Italian styled, Adelaida 2004 Nebbiolo.

Paso Robles is well worth a weekend adventure!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Results of the July 19 Wine Tasting

Anthony, Joe, and I (the smallest group to date for an organized, themed wine tasting) converged on my house for an afternoon of sampling wines, dinner, and post-dinner relaxation around a fire pit against the backdrop of classic 80's/90's dance favorites.

This collaboration of wine and drink consisted of the following menu items:

Anthony: Various imported block cheeses (Swiss, Gouda, etc.)
Joe: Chocolate Cappucino cake
Jon-Paul: Marinated London Broil and Tri-Color Torellini Alfredo

Before eating dinner, of course, was the sampling of 6 wines from France--3 whites and 3 reds from various regions (one of which was a curve ball, not quite from France). Below are the results of worst to first in scoring (using our standard 1-5 scale, 5 being the highest):

1. Domaine des Grecaux Hermera Coteau du Languedoc 2002 (Red Languedoc, 60% Syrah, 40% Grenache), 13.5% ABV. This wine had a pronounced odor of tobacco, leather, and over-ripened (possibly even rotten) berries. The slight brown color to it concerned Anthony and Joe that oxidation had reared it's ugly head. The taste was also that of tobacco leaf, high in tanins, and not much in the way of good flavor. It was a turnoff to everyone, and at $19, or any price for that matter, is a major pass--Average Score: 2.166

2. Chateau D'Auvenier 2006 Neuchatel (White from Switzerland, the "curveball"), 11.5% ABV. This effervescent wine had a nice color to it, but very little in the way of odor. Upon taste, slight pear and lime flavors were detected, and was high in acidity. Though the lower alcohol made the wine an interesting experiment, it was an overall pass for the whole group, particularly at the price level of $32--Average Score: 2.333

3. (This ranking was a MAJOR surprise to me) 2005 Trimbach Gewurztraminer, (White Alsace wine), 13.5% ABV. Having a nose of pineapple and grass, this medium bodied white had a nice color to it. Upon tasting, it bore the flavors of sour apple (Granny Smith, maybe?), accompanied with citrus and other sweet components to it. While I adored the 2004 vintage (see, this one for me was only a solid performer, not an 'above and beyond' kinda effort. Anthony and Joe, however, were not impressed with it. For the price point of $18, I'll stick with 2004. Average Score: 2.66

4. Daniel Rion Vosne Romanee Les Beaux Monts, 2001 (Red Burgundy), 13% ABV. This very light, interesting wine had an unusual odor profile, combining tobacco, berry juice, and cherry-flavored Nyquil. It's slight rust coloring to it resembled more classic reds, an appealing characteristic to me. Upon taste, it was a nice, light effort, with dark fruit and medium tanins everpresent. It was a solid effort to Joe and me, but not a favorite to Anthony. For it's steep price of $65, it will likely not be purchased by any of us, despite it's not-so-bad ratings. Average Score: 3.0

5. Chateau Haut Redon 2004 (Red Bordeaux blend, 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc), 12% ABV. This by far had the nicest nose of all the red wines sampled, with the recognizable vanilla and oak scents. The medium body and pure red coloring was also interesting. Upon taste, medium tanins with not much length were accompanied by a creamy vanilla flavor, similar to a Werther's Original candy, less most of the sweetness. Coupled with cheese, this wine elevated itself from "good" to "marvelous". Considering this blend was only $7.99, it could be argued this wine "brought the thunder" (to echo a common quote of Gary Vaynerchuk). Joe was the least impressed with this wine, but still felt it was good enough for a solid score. Average Score: 3.5

6. La Moussiere 2006 Sancerre Alphonse Mellot (White Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley), 13% ABV-this very light colored effort had a strong lemony scent (lemon cleaner to me). Upon tasting, it continued it's citrus theme, high in acidity, and very dry. It was very light and had GREAT length. Everyone detected a lemon peel flavor on their pallates, and were impressed with this Sauvignon Blanc. Despite being one of the highest priced efforts of the tasting, this one would be worth purchasing again at $32--Average Score: 4.0

This was the first tasting I can recall where such a large percentage of the wines were not up to snuff. While recognizing not every day can be a sunny day (so to speak), I can say that it was nice to finally get the opportunity to host a tasting, and look forward already for another chance to participate in (or host) another event.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Visit to ALBA Winery, Milford N.J.

Jon Paul, Dawson and myself and Max took a short trip out to Warren county on Saturday to take advantage of the state's wine trail weekend. The trip was well worth the effort as it turned out to be quite an enjoyable afternoon. We ended up visiting Alba Winery in Milford, NJ, which is located about a 1/2 hour south west of my home. Our visit began with a stop in their tasting room where we sampled 13 of their wines. The tasting room was located in a actual wine cellar. It was a very nice atmosphere, sampling their wines surrounded by dozens of huge oak barrels aging various types of wine. A $5 tasting fee entitled us to taste all thier wines and got us a complimentary wine glass.

The wines we tasted were:
1.Mainsail White (which JP purchased)
2. Dry Riesling
3. Riesling (which Dawson purchased)
4. Barrel Reserve Chardonnay
5. Rose
6. Old Mill Red (a Blend)
7. Chambourcin (which I purchased)
8. Heritage 2003 (Red Blend)
9. Alba Apple Wine
10. Blueberry Wine
11. Red Raspberry
12. Vintage Port
13. Dolcina
For the most part, we all liked the Whites, especially the Reislings and the Chamourcin. Also, as I recall, we could all do without the fruit wines, especially the Raspberry.

Next we were taken on a short tour of the winery where we were shown how the grapes are fermented, pressed, barrelled and corked. This was quite interesting and Max enjoyed the bottling machine the best. Finally we took a walk through the vineyard which was 30 plus acres of various types of grapes. The interesting part about the vineyard itself was the how little water the vines actually require. In fact were were told they prefer, near drought conditions. Each vine has a root systems that goes 10ft deep and is able to absore enought moisture from the earth to produce fruit. Because it was so early in the season, the grapes on the vines were hard as marbles and could not be eaten.

All in all, it was a fun and interesting afternoon and we all agreed we'd look to visit other New Jersey wineries in the future.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Worth the Wait--1999 La Spinetta Barbaresco Vursu Vigneto Gallina

A combination of the extended holiday weekend and my approaching 39th birthday compelled me to dust off a wine in my collection given to me a number of years ago by Joe Fernicola at his wedding. It was a 1999 La Spinetta Barbaresco Vursu Vigneto Gallina, currently retailing at a staggering $141.00. While my interest in wine collecting in 2002-2003 was really non-existent, I was strongly encouraged to take good care of this bottle, as it would yield dividends after a minimum of 5-6 years of aging. So I did.

On July 7, 2008, my efforts to preserve this gem were put to the test. This wine was matched up with some good BBQ chicken and mushrooms. Sharing the occasion was a 2006 Colosi Sicilia Rosso Nero D'Avola provided by Dawson, priced at around $8.00. This wine had a nice medium-heavy body to it with an unbelievably pronounced strawberry and creamy vanilla nose. It had a very sweet, jammy, almost strawberry preserve kind of taste--a 'fruit bomb', to say the least. This wine was very enjoyable and for the price, it can be argued it 'brought the thunder'. The average Score for this wine was a 4.0.

Ok, so onto the La Spinetta. It had a rusty red coloring to it, and had a medium-heavy body. After a blast of alcohol to the nose, it calmed down very quickly, then presented a very leathery and cork aroma, with hints of earth and vegetal tones (Dawson even detected manure). The taste was an unmistakable bowl of unripened berries to me with very little, if at all, sweetness on the mid-palate when tasted. Despite the early concern of alcohol (14.5% reported on the bottle), it was very subtle and very smooth, medium tanins, and very dry, but not mouth-puckering. It had a tremendous length and was extremely well balanced. Dawson detected tobacco on the back end, and though the wine got a bit hot on the tail end, we were both very satisfied. Dawson rated this wine a 4.0. Having a personal interest in the upbringing of this wine and seeing it pay off huge dividends in the end, some bias did come through in my final rating of 5.0, thus giving this wine an average score of 4.5. Both Dawson and I thoroughly believe Anthony would have given this wine a HUGE seal of approval.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

NJ Wine Trail Weekend July 12th & 13th

Did you know that we have 34 wineries in the little ole state of New Jersey? Surprising huh? It certainly was to me. The idea of wineries so closes to my home is intriguing to say the least, so when I saw an add for "Wine Trail Weekends" I had to look a little further. It seems all the local wineries collaborate under the umbrella of the Garden State Wine Growers Association and agree to hold 3 weekends a year where there are free open tours of their vineyards. They take place in February, July and November. The following link gives you more information:

I'm definitely going to take advantage of this up coming weekend and take a walk through one if not more of our local vineyards. Anyone interested in coming along? Please let me know. I can't say it will be like visiting Napa or Sonoma, but I sure we'll have a good time. Joe F and I certain had fun at the wine festival in May. Just need to decide whether to hit the 4 vineyards in Warren county or the 3 in Sussex. Hope you will consider joining me.

Anatomy of two not-so-notable summer wines

Hey gang. I took an opportunity on this 6th of July to try two wines flying below the radar in my collection as part of an afternoon birthday party. One of which was a 2005 Il Cascinone, a Piedmont Cortese, from Italy (rolling in at $10.99 USD) and the other was a 2005 Vista Del Mar, a Pinot Grigio from California (hovering at a low $5.99 USD). Below are my ratings using our standard 1-5 scale.

The first on deck was the Il Cascinone, which bore a very citrus nose with a hint of alcohol. Tanin level was low on this wine, but the alcohol was present but not overbearing. There was a nice balance of lime, pineapple, and lemon juice throughout the length. Nothing extraordinary, but not a bad effort. I would purchase again but only if the extra $$ were there and the planets aligned just right. Rating: 3.0.

The second was the wine I'd hope would "bring the thunder", given the price point, and given my interest in lighter, summer wines. This wine bore a body resembling apple juice both in body and color. The taste was a slight hint of peaches and apples with an ever present alcohol flavor through it's medium length. Also low on tanins and acidity, this wine was not terrible, but the heavier body than other Pinot Grigios I've had in the past earns the grade "had a better". Rating: 2.5.

Friday, July 4, 2008

US Imports of Brunello Cleared

As a follow up on the Brunello scandal, the Italian government on July 3rd issued a decree stating that they would guarantee that all Brunello exports were genuine. So thankfully, the threat of US blocking imports is over. Read the article on Winespectator on line. Here a link:,1197,4474,00.html

And by the way....HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Can Brunello di Montalcino Weather the Storm of Scandal?

It’s reads like the perfect setting for a modern day spy novel. The Guardia di Finanza, Italy’s Financial Police, in dramatic fashion, seize thousands of cases of Brunello and hand down indictments against a handful of Tuscany’s most respected wine aristocracy. The booming prestigious wine industry of this small northern Italian hamlet is turned on its ears as the wine world watches in anticipation. Who or what could be behind such a diabolical plot? Could it be terrorist organizations, communist splinter groups, a corrupt government, or perhaps even the Illuminati? And what is their purpose? Perhaps to set off a chain reaction that could send Italy’s and Europe’s economy into a tail spin bringing about a world wide depression. But this is no Tom Clancy novel, this is the sad state of reality for Italy’s Brunello di Montalcino producers. Okay, my imagination maybe running away a bit here ,but the truth is this scandal is not good news for anyone who loves Italian wines.

The trouble began in November of 2007 when Italian authorities began investigating claims that some of the producers of Brunello were violating DOCG (Denominazione d’Origine Controllata e Garantita) rules by not using 100% Sangiovese grapes in their wine. The origin of the investigation is not totally clear, but it is reported that complaints had been filed by unnamed individuals who claimed to have witnessed certain producers importing grapes from Southern Italy to blend with their indigenous sangiovese grapes. In any case as soon as an official investigation was launched Siena Magistrate Nino Calabrese ordered the seizure of over 1 million bottles of the 2003 vintage from 4 of the regions biggest producers. These producers were:

1. Castelgiocando (Marchesi di Fescobaldi),
2. Castello Banfi,
3. Pian delle Vigne (Antinori)
4. Argiano

The seizure was followed up by the handing down of 14 indictments in March of 2008, which included six grape suppliers from Puglia (Southern) Italy. So what do the accused say about these charges? The big four are united in issuing complete denials of the allegations. Lars Leicht of Castello Banfi cries “politics” citing to the timing of these indictments which corresponded with the annual “Verona Vinitaly”, the country’ s most famous and noteworthy wine fair. Lamberto Frescobaldi, owner of Catelgiocando has vowed to fight the charges in court to clear his name. An enologist hired by Antinori points the finger at overzealous prosecution and stated that the charges are the result of uniformed people finding 5 acres of Merlot in his company’s vineyard. It is common for producers to grow non-sangiovese grapes for use in creating Rosso Tascano (IGT) a blended wine from Tuscany.

So what happens next? Well, as the matter makes its way slowly through the Italian judicial system, one things is for certain, very little Brunello from the 2003 vintage is getting to the consumer. Both Argiano and Pian delle Vigne have both stated that they cannot afford to wait the scandal out and will have no alternative but to declassify their Brunello to IGT (Indicazione Geograpica Tipica) status. IGT regulations allow up to 15% of the grapes in a wine to be from outside the appellation. Argiano has announced that 6,600 cases of its 2003 Brunello, 2/3 of its production, will be labeled Il Duemilatie de Argiano and sold as IGT.

The first thought that came to my mind was that this declassification could be a good thing for Americans like yours truly who love Brunello; at least from a cost perspective. I’m just speculating, but it's my guess that these declassified wines will sell for much less than the traditional Brunellos. But, just when you thought there might be the slightest bit of silver lining to this cloud, it was just announced that the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has demanded a list of Brunello producers being investigated from the Italian government. They are threatening to halt all imports from these producers unless the importer submits a full and accurate statement of contents verified by laboratory analysis that wine is 100% sangiovese. A move, which in my opinion, is certainly excessive and over the top considering there has been no final adjudication of guilt. When you consider that the United States currently imports 6.5 million bottles, 25% of the total Brunello production each year, such an action by the US could deal a major blow to this small wine region.

Finally, one can’t help but wonder, what the overall impact this scandal will have to the region and to Italian wines as a whole. Will the revenue losses drive some wineries out of business? Doubtful, but you never can tell. There is one thing that is for certain however. There will be a great need for quick damage control in regard to the reputations of the Brunello and Tuscany appellations. It would be a real shame to see such fine and classic wine lose the ground it has gained in recent years against it’s overpriced French neighbors to the north. No matter what the outcome, I can clearly state that, as a true Italian wine lover, there will always be a place for Brunello on my table.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wines tasted during week in Chicago Area

I had another opportunity to entertain my increasing interest in tasting new wines while travelling for work to Schaumburg, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Despite having training during the day and catching up on work at night, I did find a few brief periods during each day to do a couple of relaxing things--jog and dine with new wines to try.

As I did in my post highlighting wines I tried in Colorado Springs, I'd like to list the wines I tried in order of worst to first in preference (prices listed are per bottle)

1. 2007 Mirassou Pinot Noir-Central Coast, California ($7.99)--this effort had an extremely fruity odor, heavy body and very dark. It had the weight of prune juice, leaving a coating of what tasted like cranberry sauce and sweet red grapes in my mouth. The alcohol was not that bad, but the overly sweet, gritty, shellaq-like layer of film felt in my mouth left my palate (and me) scratching my head--a major pass. Rating: 1.5 (yeah, it was that bad).

2. 2007 Chateau St. Michelle Reisling, Columbia Valley, Washington ($8.79)--this wine was very stingy with it's odor, giving me only a slight hint of lemon soap. Though it had the traditional lighter coloring of reislings I've had in the past, it came across as unusually heavy. It was pretty high in alcohol, almost hot to the taste. It had long length, and after some light puckering I felt in my mouth in the end coupled with the high acidity, it suddenly resembled drinking a Corona right when the lime piece gets caught in the neck of the bottle. That said, I was expecting to taste wine and got beer. I've had better reislings. Rating: 2.5

3. 2005 Big Sky Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington ($17.95)--this light bodied wine had a terrific reddish brown, almost rusty color to it. However, the only odor emanating from it was rubbing alcohol--plain and simple. Suprisingly, the taste in the beginning was a very nice mix of berries and green vegetables (like lettuce or cucumbers). BUT, the fire began about 5 seconds into the experience, when it became extremely hot on the backend, almost resembling my experiences with doing shots. I couldn't even settle it down with some steak I had ordered. Maybe if this Merlot sits in prison for a few years and calms down, or possibly something as simple as decanting could help this wine out, but since we evaluate on actual taste, not potential taste, it pays the price in this review. Rating: 2.5

4. 2005 Castello Banfi Centine Toscana (Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese) ($11.98)--this was the only Italian wine sampled during the week. It had all the classic characteristics of an old-world Italian vino (despite its 'Super Tuscan' status). The nose was fresh fruit salad with a hint of vinegar. It's medium body and coloring reminded me of the numerous Sangiovese and Barberas I've had in the past few years. Hoping to taste something resembling my elusive 'Nobbio', I did catch much of the same low tannin and low fruit properties I've come to enjoy with Italian wines that have had some chance to mature, but this one nuked it when it blindsided me with a suprisingly hot finish. Though the hot ending impacted the score, somewhat, I can say I would probably try this again, perhaps after another year or so of aging or decanting. Rating: 3.0

5. 2004 Fire Station Red-Sonoma, California (Shiraz) ($11.98)--this was the first of three difficult rankings I needed to make, as this along with the next two screamed of terrific taste and balance. This particular effort bore a terrific nose, combining sour red grapes with berries of all sorts (raspberries were most predominent). The taste, while heavy bodied (a trait I'm not too big on), had a great balance of cranberries and grape drink, less most of the sugar. It was low on acidity and alcohol. The most intriguing characteristic is the consistency of the flavor for the entire duration during each sip. The length was particularly long, which suprised me. I suspect Anthony might not be too keen on this New World product, but even he might give it some props. I liked it, and would purchase. Rating: 4.0

6. 2005 California's Jewel Viognier, California ($7.98)--I found it laughable that I continue to gravitate to a number of 'very expensive' wines. This pale golden drink smelled of canned fruit cocktail with a slight odor of alcohol. The taste was unreal--it was the juice you find in a can of Pear Halves with the right amount of alcohol and acidity. Having no other taste I could detect, it reminded me of the Kim Crawford 2007 Sauvignon Blanc I had in Colorado for its concentrated taste (the sole flavor of grapefruit for that one). This wine "Brought the Thunder". Rating: 4.0

7. 2004 Trimbach Gewurztraminer, Alsace, France ($19.98)--Wow. Just wow. This treat had a beautiful floral and candied (almost like Life Savers) aroma. The taste resembled a flat, diet lemon/lime soda with hints of pepper. There is acidity, but not enough to offset the nicely balanced effort, and the alcohol is enough to be noticed but just enough to make the drive home from the club fun, not dangerous. I really liked it with Halibut, and am curious if another seafood dish (perhaps my current favorite, Swordfish) would nudge this up or down in points. For now, it settles in comfortably in the number 1 position amongst these other wines. Rating: 4.5.

Ironic how a 'French' wine settles in as the favorite for my week away, with just a few weeks until my Dinner and Wine Tasting on the 19th of July, featuring red and white wines from France. It's no coincidence, really:-)

Until next time!

June 21 visit at the Bloom home--Dinner and Mini-Wine Tasting

Last week (Friday the 20th to be exact), Dawson invited Anthony, Joe, and me over for some dinner and wine (though Joe didn't quite make it). He had quite a spread of cheeses, olives, and meats (plus pizza for dinner). Participating in the tasting portion of the visit were four seemingly unrelated wines:

1. 2007 Graff-Reisling Kabinett from Warms, Germany--price $9.98
2. 2007 LeParadou-Viognier from Provence, France--price $10.98
3. 2006 La Petite Tour-Sauvignon Blanc from California--price $9.98
4. 2007 Cerejeira-Estremadura from Portugal--price $5.98

(these may not have been what we all actually paid; these are just prices I found for them on the internet)

Below are the responses to each of the wines, from worst to best (average score from all three testers, using our traditional 1-5 scale):

1. The La Petite Tour-Sauvignon Blanc--the laggard of the group, not terrible, but not remarkable, either--average score: 2.67.
2. The Le Paradou-Viognier--all three thought the wine was solid--average score: 3.0.
3. The Graff-Reisling Kabinett--Dawson's favorite of the bunch, very tasty to JP as well--average score: 3.5.
4. Cerejeira-Estramadura--the only red wine represented in the tasting, but the best of the bunch--smooth, not overly fruity, nicely balanced--average score: 4.0.

No doubt we'll see many more mini-tastings like this during the rest of this summer!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Is the Australian Love Affair Over? BEWARE of the 2008 Vintage!

Over the past five years main stream Americans have developed a sort of love affair with Australia's wines. The reasons behind this sudden infatuation are multifaceted. One need only look toward the reasonable prices and the exceedingly over the top fruity nature of these wines to explain why the "Land Down Under" has gained such sex appeal in the wine arena. This relationship however may be coming to an abrupt end with the 2007 and now 2008 vintages. The 2007 vintage yielded such an extremely small amount that prices were driven up, merely by the principles of supply and demand. Slowly but surely, the cost affordability side of this fragile equation seems to be evaporating.

Now the reports on the 2008 growing season are in and they don't paint a pretty picture. In fact they could represent one of the proverbial final nails in the coffin. The Hunter Valley region was hit with record flooding in early February. The end result was water soaked grapes and rampant rot in the vineyards the ultimately caused 85% of the harvest to be discarded. Such a monumental loss affects both the prices and quality of the wine. In Southern Australia, the wine regions were hit with 15 consecutive days where the mercury hit 95 degree F. or higher. This type of weather produced super ripe sugar filled grapes which will turn the normal fermentation process on its ears. Finally, and probably the most devastating turn of events has been the prolonged and ongoing drought conditions in the South, particularly Langhorne Creek. Growers estimate that they have lost 3/4 of the total Cabernet Sauvignon producing acres.

Bottom line is that the 2008 vintage will be Australian winemakers most challenging to date. In fact, working with such a damaged crop could prove impossible even for Australia’s notorious "science lab" approach to winemaking. The resulting product may be too rich even for America's sweet tooth mentality toward wine. In terms of my personal preferences, I've never been a fan of Australia's "fruit bombs", and given the rough treatment Mother Nature has dished up for our Aussie friends, I doubt very highly that my taste will change in the near future.

***For more information on this topic, there is an article in Wine Spectator, the July 31, 2008 editions in the "Up Front " column.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Book Signing at Costco in Edison, June 11, 2008

I had a chance today to visit Gary Vaynerchuk at his book signing at the Costco in Edison tonight. Despite the horrible drive during the heart of rush hour, I figured my first time attending a book-signing would be worth it. He was gracious enough to sign two books for me--mine as well as one for Anthony, who was not able to make it (I figured he'd have little problem swapping one of his paperbacks for a personalized, autographed copy).

After talking for a few minutes about his recent travels and plans for the summer, I did also manage to get a family member of his to take a picture of us:

He does plan on another affair at the Wine Library this summer, similar to last time in format, and will be making us aware of it in upcoming episodes of WineLibrary. He also plans to add a calendar of his whereabouts throughout the summer on the website.

A mix-up in the hours posted could mean a longer night than Gary had planned. Originally scheduled from 7pm-9pm, the hours of the signing had been changed to 5pm-7pm (I got my e-mail alert from, but I suppose MANY others did not get that memo, as I did not wait very long on line to chat with him. Amusing was a remark he had made--I was talking with another guy on line to Gary about the likely mix-up, who then added by mentioning to Gary that there could be a post-7pm rush to meet him. Realizing this, he replied, "Oh, shit".

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

July 19 Wine Tasting--The Battle of Gaul!

Hello everyone. I thought I'd unveil the proposed theme of our next wine tasting, as we ease back into our hectic lives after a full holiday weekend.

On July 19, our wine tasting will feature various red and white wines from France. The plan is to have most major regions represented (Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace, Rhone, Loire, Languedoc-Roussillon, and Provence) as well as one curve ball (keeping with tradition!). Given how well our last wine tasting went with the variety we had to sample, I am also going to offer eight wines (probably either a 5 red/3 white or 6 red/2 white combination). I'm interested in keeping the selections anonymous until our ultimate unveiling during dinner, but am not against hearing your thoughts on this approach.

We have still have ample time to consider what will be on the menu for the event, so no urgency in offering up what you'd like to prepare or bring to dinner. I plan to keep the cost of the wines in line with other wine tastings over the years (typically between $30-$40 per person, depending on attendance).

Looking forward to it!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dinner and Wine in Colorado Springs

Despite a schedule of training during the day and catching up on work e-mails at night, I had a unique opportunity to treat myself to sampling various wines during dinnertime each night in Colorado. Specifically, I had 6 different glasses of wine spread out over four evenings, and I thought I'd share some notes I have on them, ranking them on our 1-5 scale from worst to first:

6. 2007 Il Vicino Sangiovese, from the Gruet Winery, New Mexico-this red from the Southwest was very reminiscent of cranberry juice in it's appearance and body. It was very tight on the nose, almost completely absent of odor. Upon tasting, I noticed it was very light on the alcohol, but oddly, very hot, albeit brief. There was a hint of sour and bitter elements (like accidently eating the stem with the unripened grape). It has no length whatsoever. It was an awkward selection--maybe some more time to mature would do this selection some good, but for now, especially at $21.00/bottle, the best I can rate it is a 2.

5. 2006 Jake's Fault Shiraz, from California--immediately reeking of Listerine or some type of all-purpose cleanser, I was a bit disappointed with this start, particularly after seeing it comes in at around $10.99. It appeared to have a medium body to it, and a nice purple color. It was very fruity to the taste, but lacked balance. I caught tastes of the fruit then got sideswiped by alcohol. It didn't have much of a finish and left almost like a taste of a fruit rind on my pallette in the end. Maybe some more time to age or maybe something as simple as decanting might bring some help to this wine--not terrible, but only it's price let's me bolster this effort to a 2.5.

4. 2006 Clo du Bois Pinot Grigio, from France--whites did get their chance to showcase their stuff in these dinners as well. This wine had a very light, transparent, yellow tint to it. It smelled like Jolly Rancher candies, particularly melon. There were also hints of citrus fruits on the nose as well. The taste reminded me of Reislings I've tried in the past, where they had a nice balance of alcohol and fruit tones. It ended with some heat, which was somewhat of a turnoff, but at around $12.00/bottle, the wine did a nice job, enough for a 3.0.

3. 2006 Rosemont Estates Shiraz, from Australia--This was a different experience for me, but worth discussing. It was very dark and opaque and had a medium body to it. The smell was pure unwashed vegetables, where the odor of dirt could be discerned. There was also a wood presence. The taste was an unusual mix to me of the right amount of alcohol and vegetables, like steamed broccoli or asparagus. But, as I spent some time sipping it again and again when paired with my dinner, some sweetness started to surface. Lastly, the wine had a nice length to it to end. This wasn't bad at all, and with a $9.99 pricetag retail (It wasn't that low in the hotel, however), I liked it! I didn't love it, so it's fair this wine, too, receives a 3.0.

2. 2006 Meridian Pinot Grigio, from California--It appears my penchant for always gravitating to and really liking very inexpensive wine every once in a while continues, where this <$8.00 wine crept into my #2 position. This wine had the body of a white grape juice, or even the Chardonnay that took the gold for the white wines at our South American wine-tasting. It bore a floral and sour nose, keeping pace with the white grape juice appearance. Well, after getting hammered with an initial blast of alcohol, this white calmed down VERY nicely and had a very surprising and balanced length. The taste was a fruit salad, where sour and sweet components mixed very well and seemed to overtake the alcohol after a few moments. It's ability to calm down after an initial try and subsequent tries, and it's terrific mix with my chicken dish made it a winning Place bet for me--3.5.

1. 2007 Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, from New Zealand--I had a bad experience with Sauvignon Blanc in the past, but was willing to try it again. With a high recommendation from the waiter given my Spanish Chicken dish I was planning to order, I went for this $14 wine (again, higher at the hotel). The color was a pale yellow color with an overwhelming citrus nose to it, overcoming any other scents that surfaced (which included lemon drops or lemon meringue pie). The taste was almost that of a perfectly mixed drink of Ocean Spray Grapefruit juice and alcohol. The alcohol was kept at bay but competed well with the tart nature of the citrus components. It had a very long length to it and stayed consistent with it's taste from start to finish. I was very pleasantly surprised, and also found it rather redeeming this wine was a Wines & Spirits and Wine Spectator 91. What a highly unusual taste for a wine, but what a terrific job! 4.5!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Vernaccia : A Dry Italian White Worth Noticing

Hello All,
As we approach the warm months of summer, it only stands to reason that wine lovers will begin looking towards whites to accompany the lighter meals of the season. One such white wine worth looking into is Vernaccia from Tuscany. I recently picked up a bottle of 2006 Vernaccia Di San Gimignano, from Le Rote winery/vinard. I was again pleasantly surprised that this $10.98 bottle of wine was quite interesting and delicious. This wine is a DOCG or super Tuscan and is made up of the Vernaccia grape. It should be noted that DOCG guidelines do allow for this wine to be made up of 10% Chardonnay. When I popped the bottle and poured I noticed a natural effervescence in a wine of light yellow color. It contained quite an interesting nose of sweet lemon/lime with a slight hint of pear. Such an ordor would normally prepare one for a wine sweet as candy, but the surprise happens once it hits your pallet. There was just a hint of sweetness at the onset which quickly dries out. The mid pallet is bitter but slowly fades into a slight lingering taste of vanilla( could be that 10% Chardonnay coming through...who knows). If there is a noticeable flaw it is that the bitterness lasts a bit too long on the mid pallet. But, it is a minor flaw that I can certainly live with. I would rank this a 3.5 on our 4 scale. A winner in my book and I can definitely see myself going out of my way to buy a few more bottles for the summer 3 day weekends. Check it out of if you can.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Review of a Montepulciano D'Abruzzi

For this Wednesday's entry I thought I'd continue the trend of sharing my experiences with the everyday wines. This week I opened a 2004 Antonio & Elio Monti Montepulciano D'Abruzzi and I must say I think I found another winner that falls into the under $10.00 category. I picked up this bottle at Bottle King for $8.98. This wine is obviously from Italy, the Abruzzi region in the South East portion of the peninsula. It is made entirely from the Montepulciano grape, which is a major variety in southern Italy. Using our customary 4 point scale, I would rank this bunch of grapes at a 3.5. Let me explain my rationale. Lets begin with color, this is a deep reddish brown wine with medium body. By no means a big heavy red that might be confused with the Barolos or Brunellos. The wine has decent legs upon swirling. The next order of business is the odor or in the words of Gary the "sniffy sniff". I observed a strong odor of leather and earth, with a slight hint of cherry. Not very exciting or interesting, but if you can get past this little disappointment, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. The tasting experience began with a smooth dryness, with hints of mocha or dark chocolate. There is some bitterness on the mid pallet, but it fades quickly. Tannins are medium to low. Virtually no fruit taste or sugar for that matter. To me, a lover of the dry earthy wines of Italy, this is perfect. The kicker is the overall smoothness of the wine, which is very high on my enjoyment scale. Finally, in terms of longevity, it is also a winner, I opened the bottle on Sunday and the wine held together Monday and Tuesday being stored at room temperature after being hand vacuumed pumped. I were to take a guess, I would say JP would be won over by the smoothness. Hard to say how the rest of the gang will fall, but at $9.00 “Bones” (Gary again) a bottle, why not try it this weekend. Anyway, that's my thought for the day.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pics of the South American Wine Tasting

Very cool time and some very cool wines. Who would have thought that we would find so many good wines from Chile and Argentina. I will post the tasting notes soon, but I wanted to get the pictures up tonight. Next time, I'll have to remember to get myself in the picture and take a few more.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Portugal's Alentejano Region Wines

If you are like me and trying to take advantage of the health benefits of wine, you try to drink at least a glass a wine a day, typically with dinner. Once you incorporate VINO into your daily routine, you'll find the quandary that you will face is how to pick “decent” quality wines that are also cost affordable. I've found that the wines of Portugal offer a very acceptable solution to this dilemma. Recently I purchased a little gem by the name of Monte Velho from the Alentejano region (located in eastern Portugal south of Tejo), 2006 vintage. The winery is Herdade Do Esporao. This delightful Red is a blend of 3 grapes indigenous to Portugal: Periquita, Trincadeira & Bastardo grapes. The wine has an interesting bouquet of Blackberry/Back Cherry and strikes a nice balance between fruit and the dryness that I love. This is a bit of a high alcohol content at first, which I have found can be easily weakened with 4 hours of decanting. The suggested retail cost is $7.99, however I picked it up on sale for $4.50 at Bottle King. An unbelievable bargain if you ask this humble consumer. I would strongly suggest you continue to expand your pallets in a way that won't break your wallets and the best way is to look for less popular and less known grape varieties and regions. Portugal is a shining example of one these areas that can provide quality wines despite a ridiculously inflated EURO to Dollar ratio.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

In Preparation for May 10 Winetasting

The wines have arrived....we have 6 red and 2 white.

1- Carmenere
1-Cabernet Sauvingion
1- Cabernet/Merlot/Cabernet Franc

2 - Chardonnays ( 1 Chilean, 1 Argentinean)

The cost per person will be $33 per person for the wine,

Since we will be tasting some wines which may not be familiar, I wanted to provide the following information on some of the wines:

CARMENERE (Red) [car-men-YEHR]Also known as Grande Vidure, this grape was once widely planted in Bordeaux, but is now associated primarily with Chile. Carmenere, along with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, was imported to Chile around 1850. According to Chilean vintners, Carmenere has been mislabeled for so long that many growers and the Chilean government now consider it Merlot.

MALBEC (Red) [MAHL-beck]Once important in Bordeaux and the Loire in various blends, this not-very-hardy grape has been steadily replaced by Merlot and the two Cabernets. However, Argentina is markedly successful with this varietal. In the United States Malbec is a blending grape only, and an insignificant one at that, but a few wineries use it, the most obvious reason being that it's considered part of the Bordeaux-blend recipe.

BONARDA (Red) Many know that Malbec is a famous varietal in Argentina but fewer know that the Bonarda varietal is actually the most widely planted grape in Argentina. And it has only been recently exported out of Argentina. The origins and nature of Bonarda are a bit controversial. Some feel it originated in Italy but there are actually three different Bondarda types in Italy, and it is unsure whether Argentina Bonarda is the same or not. Some also think Bonarda may be the California Charbono.

MERLOT (Red) [mur-LO]Merlot is the red-wine success of the 1990s: its popularity has soared along with its acreage, and it seems wine lovers can't drink enough of it. It dominates Bordeaux, except for the MÉdoc and Graves. Though it is mainly used for the Bordeaux blend, it can stand alone. In St.-Emilion and Pomerol, especially, it produces noteworthy wines, culminating in Château PÉtrus. In Italy it's everywhere, though most of the Merlot is light, unremarkable stuff. But Ornellaia and Fattoria de Ama are strong exceptions to that rule. Despite its popularity, its quality ranges only from good to very good most of the time, though there are a few stellar producers found around the world.
Several styles have emerged. One is a Cabernet-style Merlot, which includes a high percentage (up to 25 percent) of Cabernet, similar currant and cherry flavors and firm tannins. A second style is less reliant on Cabernet, softer, more supple, medium-weight, less tannic and features more herb, cherry and chocolate flavors. A third style is a very light and simple wine; this type's sales are fueling Merlot's overall growth.
Like Cabernet, Merlot can benefit from some blending, as Cabernet can give it backbone, color and tannic strength. It also marries well with oak. Merlot is relatively new in California, dating to the early 1970s, and is a difficult grape to grow, as it sets and ripens unevenly. Many critics believe Washington State has a slight quality edge with this wine. By the year 2000, vintners should have a better idea of which areas are best suited to this grape variety. As a wine, Merlot's aging potential is fair to good. It may be softer with age, but often the fruit flavors fade and the herbal flavors dominate.

CABERNET SAUVIGNON (Red) [cab-er-NAY SO-vin-yon]The undisputed king of red wines, Cabernet is a remarkably steady and consistent performer throughout much of the state. While it grows well in many appellations, in specific appellations it is capable of rendering wines of uncommon depth, richness, concentration and longevity. Bordeaux has used the grape since the 18th century, always blending it with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and sometimes a soupçon of Petite Verdot. The Bordeaux model is built around not only the desire to craft complex wines, but also the need to ensure that different grape varieties ripen at different intervals or to give a wine color, tannin or backbone.
Elsewhere in the world—and it is found almost everywhere in the world—Cabernet Sauvignon is as likely to be bottled on its own as in a blend. It mixes with Sangiovese in Tuscany, Syrah in Australia and Provence, and Merlot and Cabernet Franc in South Africa, but flies solo in some of Italy's super-Tuscans. In the United States., it's unlikely any region will surpass Napa Valley's high-quality Cabernets and Cabernet blends. Through most of the grape's history in California (which dates to the 1800s), the best Cabernets have been 100 percent Cabernet. Since the late 1970s, many vintners have turned to the Bordeaux model and blended smaller portions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot into their Cabernets. The case for blending is still under review, but clearly there are successes. On the other hand, many U.S. producers are shifting back to higher percentages of Cabernet, having found that blending doesn't add complexity and that Cabernet on its own has a stronger character.
At its best, unblended Cabernet produces wines of great intensity and depth of flavor. Its classic flavors are currant, plum, black cherry and spice. It can also be marked by herb, olive, mint, tobacco, cedar and anise, and ripe, jammy notes. In warmer areas, it can be supple and elegant; in cooler areas, it can be marked by pronounced vegetal, bell pepper, oregano and tar flavors (a late ripener, it can't always be relied on in cool areas, which is why Germany, for example, has never succumbed to the lure). It can also be very tannic if that is a feature of the desired style. The best Cabernets start out dark purple-ruby in color, with firm acidity, a full body, great intensity, concentrated flavors and firm tannins.
Cabernet has an affinity for oak and usually spends 15 to 30 months in new or used French or American barrels, a process that, when properly executed imparts a woody, toasty cedar or vanilla flavor to the wine while slowly oxidizing it and softening the tannins. Microclimates are a major factor in the weight and intensity of the Cabernets. Winemakers also influence the style as they can extract high levels of tannin and heavily oak their wines.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Impromptu Mini-Wine Tasting Held April 27th

This past Sunday's dinner and PPV evening at Dawson's presented an opportunity to conduct an impromptu wine-tasting between two California Reds--in one corner was Black Fox, a 2005 California Cabernet Sauvignon from Morganville, Ca. (price point $9.99). In the opposite corner was Clos LaChance, a 2002 Central Coast Merlot from San Martin, Ca. (priced at $19.99). While no scoring took place during this contest, it was clear neither wine would have achieved outstanding marks on our standard 1-5 scale used. The Black Fox at first came across as unripened grapes and hot, but when paired with food, recovered nicely. The Clos LaChance was extremely fruity, with an immediate taste of heavy cranberry and grape juice. It was much easier to handle to me in standalone conditions, but when coupled with food, blending poorly and became rather heavy to handle. In fact, Dawson equated the taste of the twenty dollar combination Merlot/Cabernet to having a taste resembling cheap six or seven dollar wine. It was evident after a couple glasses of each wine the Black Fox, both for it's price and ability to pair up fairly well with food, proved to be the preferred wine (or lesser of two evils, depending on how you look at it).

May 10 Wine Tasting Approaches

The wines have been ordered and Ant, JP, Joe, Vin and John Z have confirmed attendance. We will be tasting a variety of wines from Argentina and Chile including, but not limited to Malbec, Carmenere, Cabernet and Bonarda with prices ranging from $5 to $60.

So far the following people have commited to the following foods:

JP - Pallella

John Z. - Variety of Cheeses

I am looking forward to seeing everyone. As long as the weather holds out we will be on the patio.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Wine Cellar Being Built at the Fernicola Home

By Joseph Fernicola
As Ant wrote, I am currently working on a wine cellar in my basement. It will be in the back corner. The area was partially framed, and my father-in-law and I finished framing it with 2x3 and 2x4 last weekend. The area needs to be wrapped in vapor barrier, which is "6-mil" plastic sheeting, and is a real pain in the ass to tuck between the studs and the foundation. I then put a layer of insulation and covered it with moisture-resistant drywall; half of one wall is done. We also laid a piece of plywood on the floor, which will eventually be covered with parkay tiles. I had to frame out a cutout for a cooling unit too. The whole room will be about 5 by 7 feet. When it's done I we'll have a wine tasting at my house.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I will be particpating in the next WineBlog Wednesday. Stay tuned and check back often.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

MAY 2008 Wine Tasting Scheduled

Okay, looks like we will be having a Spring Tasting. Saturday May 10, 2008 is the date and it will be hosted by the one and only Dawson Bloom. Featured wines will be those from South America (Argentina & Chile). Mark you calendars and I sencerely hope everyone can attend. Look for more updates as we get closer. We will be looking for volunteers to bring food. Two Wine tastings in a 3 months span...I'm pyched. We are really on a roll now!!!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wine Library Party 2008

Had a great time at the Wine Library yesterday. Very cool to meet Gary. In attendance were JP, Daws, Vin and myself. We tasted a $1200 bottle of wine: 1982 Chateau Calon Segur, Bordeaux.

We also tasted an excellent Chardonnay from Argentina that Daws, JP and myself ended up purchasing :2005 Catena Alta Chardonnay .

Also, tasted some excellent cheeses, duckbreast, dried friut, etc.

I think JP and Daws will actually become fans of Winelibrary TV

Hopefully more of the group can attend the next.

Friday, March 7, 2008

WineLibrary Bash 3/29/2008

I'd really like to attend. I'm told the festivities start at 11:00am and go to 3:00pm. Who will be joining me?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

March 1st Wine Tasting Results

Okay, here are the results of the March 1st winetasting that took place at my home. Six wines were tasted hailing from Italy, France, United States and Spain. The Five tasters were myself, Dawson, Joe, John Z. and JP. All wines were rated on a scale of 1 to 5. 5 being the best.

Here are how the wines fell based on the group's average. From best to least favorite

1. LaGerla Brunello Di Montalcino, 2001, Italy, Tuscany, Sangiovese Grape: 4 rating
2. Espelt Saulo, 2005, Spain, Blend of Gernacha and Carinena: 3.5 rating
3. Milziade Sagrantino Di Montefalco, 2003, Italy, Umbria, Sagrantino Grape: 3.0 rating
4. Rizzi Barberesco Boito, 2004, Italy, Piedmonte, Nebbiolo Grape: 2.7 rating
5. Woodward Canyon Cabernet, 2004, Washington State, Columbia Valley, Cabernet Sauvgn: 2.5
6. Amirault Bourguiel La Coudraye, 2005, France, Loire Valley, Cabernet Franc grape: 2.0

Some of the foods that these wines were tasted with where:
Pork tenderloine
Various Cheeses
Pasta, Penne & Vodka as well Alfreddo
Butternut squash soup
Beef: London Broil

Good time was had by all...

Monday, February 4, 2008

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