Wednesday, February 29, 2012
We've been the beneficiary of these seemingly clandestine, but actually just impromptu meet-ups more than once and I've always found the experience better than I could have imagined. Proving the the old axiom; "living a life without passion, and without hope for the future is not really living your life at all" so take chances, be brave and above all stay open minded.
Mrs. Cuvee and I met with the owner, her name is Lynne, she is great, we had a delightful afternoon tasting four different wines, which she paired with cheese, she secured from the local Costco. I want to point that this may possibly be the very last winery NOT charging a tasting fee to sample their wines. The setting is an informal visit with the owners, no fancy architectural monstrosity to wade into with a mob of other vino-sapiens, no just a quiet, reflective opportunity to shoot the breeze, while sampling cheeses, thoughtfully prepared with pairing purposes in mind. The reason the cheese is purchased at Costco is so you can most likely grab that same cheese when you get back home, great idea.
By the way they also have a wonderful bed and breakfast [B&B], which we toured after the tasting, some pretty fab digs, the perfect place in Paso for a couples weekend or just a quick get-away, wonderfully appointed and has a very "cozy" inviting feel. I love the name of their winery, it's called Per Cazo Per Cazo Cellars or roughly translated in Italian, "by chance" and was described to us as the way they found this great property, tucked away in Paso Robles on Vineyard Drive, just a few minutes from downtown Paso or 25 minutes for a quick dash to the coast.
Now about the wine in the in today's WOTW spotlight is their 100% dry-farmed Petite Sirah from the St. Peter of Alcantara Vineyard. This wine was decanted, before we arrived in a device that I've never seen before, I was totally intrigued by the concept. It's called the Rojaus wine decanter, seeing it action, I was pretty impressed with its easy to use, gravity flow system, although it's a bit pricey, it does seem like the ultimate wine-geek gadget to have. By the way, you can get it at Per Cazo for a nicely discounted price.
Okay back to the wine, it had that amazingly deep rich dark ruby/purple core, looking a bit like a blackberry jelly. The nose grabs you right away and you know you're in for a treat, ripe dark plum and figs play nicely together inviting the first slurp, where you're immediately treated to rich blackberry, more figs, plush leather, mocha and finely ground espresso in the background, all wonderfully integrated on a very smooth canvas of tannin, culminating in a seductively long finish.
As my head snapped back [thinking wow, PS I love you], I immediately scored this wine in my head 93 points, and thought how can I persuade Mrs. Cuvee to let me buy more, than four I was definitely leaving with? Nothing worked, still snagging four of these gems to take home, made me happy. This wine sells for $40 and is still available for purchase, at the moment, but I wouldn't wait too long as there was only a little over 100 cases produced. This folks is how you do it, one of the better examples of PS I've ran into in a long time and I highly recommend giving it a swirl, until next time, sip long and prosper, cheers!
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Speaking for myself, I learned so much more about a destination I truly love to visit, Italy, despite the “bumps” in the road that made the trip all the more memorable [if you were there with me, you know what I mean]. After completing a trip like this, it takes time to digest the experience. Time to carefully unwrap all the nuances and flavors, like folded up clothes that have been sitting in your carry-on for weeks [uggh]. I mean there is all the different wine and food regions crammed into an eight day journey down Italy's palette of varied bold colors, but as I've had the time to decompress a bit; the pieces of the puzzle are all coming together nicely and I really like what I see so far, I hope to return again soon.
The very last of day of our collective journey found us in Napoli or Naples as it is known by many folks here in the U.S. where I make my home. Our fearless bus-driver, of Wine Bus fame, Gaetano delivered us all in fine shape from the freak snow storm which delayed our arrival to the beautiful Romeo Hotel. A great place to recharge the travel-batteries, it sits just across the street from the harbor, with grand views of Vesuvius and makes a great jumping off place for other tourist and travel destination like Pompeii [a must see] and the many sight seeing opportunities in Naples.
The only thing I would recommend; is that the Romeo hotel change their form over function in the shower; call me a spoiled American but “lukewarm” [yes I left the water running for at least 15 minutes, so yes Huston we have a problem] at best water is definitely not my cup of tea, especially for a five-star hotel, charging over $300 per night. I must admit, it did look like it could have been a great shower experience, providing the hot-water heater had been working that day. Now they also boast a Sushi bar and cigar lounge, yes to the Cigar idea, but honestly who goes to Italy thinking, I've got to get me some sushi and sake? I did love the room, it was gorgeous, well appointed and featured the first comfy bed [which I slept in all of 3 hours] of the many different locales I slept in the past eight days. The I-anything docking station is a nice touch as well.
Just moments after check-in, our group was invited to an Aglianico Taurasi Tasting, where we encountered four different wines of widely divergent vintages. There was a 1999 Radici Taurasi Aglianico, which I thought was just about over the hill, but still had nice fruit and very mellow tannins. There was a 2001 Feudi di San Gregorio Taurasi Riserva Piano di Montevergine, a wine that left me breathless, wow a real stunner. Of course attempting to procure a bottle [by any means] before returning home, left me empty handed [sigh].
Nearly none of the group had a good experience with the Taurasi Riserva Piano di Montevergine Feudi di San Gregorio 2004, it was a bit too tannic, chalky, with too much campfire nuances. Finally, there was the 2006 [black label] Taurasi, which was quite good, loads of ripe fruit, leather and smoke, but pulled up a bit short on the finish. Overall, it was a great introduction into the Taurasi Aglianico, all wonderfully powerful wines from one of Italy’s premier grapes, along side Sangiovese Grosso, Nebbiolo and Sagrantino.
Finally it was time to head over to La Citta del Gusto in Napoli [Gambero Rosso] for our Blogger Fam-Trip farewell dinner. Where of course there was more wonderful wines for us to experience, that we had missed the opportunity earlier, because of weather related conditions.
Gambero Rosso’s easily found in
From my experience; Città Del Gusto provides the right environment to bring together great food, tasty wines and the budding wine and food enthusiasts for some of the very best gastronomic experiences you will find in Napoli.
Our "farewell" evening included a wonderful selection of authentic Campania style foods, wines and oh did I mention the desserts that bowled us all over at the end of the night. As it has been said; "parting is such sweet sorrow", but we had come to the end of the trip and it was time to sadly part ways. But it was not the end of the journey, it was the beginning of discovery. While having to leave all my new friends and a country I truly love [where I feel right at home], nonetheless most of us were ready to head back to our different destinations, so that we could get our stories about our wonderful experiences out on the web for the rest of the world to see and hopefully inspire others to make a similar trek. Until next time folks, sip long and prosper cheers!
Monday, February 27, 2012
I was hoping to attend this event in person, but unforeseen circumstances have helped to sadly change my mind [you don't want to know]. It's normally a great place to connect with old friends and network with potential new friends. But having just been on the ground in Paso Robles myself in the last two weeks, frankly I won't be too heart broken hearted about not making it to this event, as visiting in Paso in person, really can't be beat.
But enough about me, this blog is about you, fun loving vino-sapiens looking to get your next vinous fix. So with that in mind, I took a list through some of the producers who will be pouring and I've compiled a short list of what I will call the go-to tables [please don't be a table hog, get your splash, chit-chat a bit and move-on]. I know you're not suppose to have favorites and if you do you're certainly not suppose to say so. But in this case, I feel obligated to give-ya the skinny on my favorites, I've selected a Top-Five list, you decide what you would like to do with the the "list".
So here is my Top-Five list, which is not in a numerical ranking of any kind, but you have to start some where, so here it goes.
1. L'Aventure: This is one of my favorite producers in Paso and they have been for a long time. If you like really big, age worthy red wines then this is the table for you. I'm not sure if they'll be pouring the big guns, 2009 L'Aventure Côte à Côte or the 2009 L'Aventure Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, but even their 2009 L'Aventure Optimus is no slouch, swirl, sniff and slurp, repeat. Yes, go back for seconds, this table will be one of the first to run out, hop and skip to get a splash.
2. Tablas Creek Vineyards: This winery is known as the "Rhone-Zone" it's quintessential Paso Robles. This table will fill up fast, they have so many great wines, I really can't imagine anyone not finding something they would like. Hopefully you'll get up there way to see the new tasting room soon, I really love what they've done with the place. Many of the wines I tasted just last week and purchased for my own cellar are now sold out, but their 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc is a light bodied, drink now, drink often wine. And in the red department, you may run into the 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel, a great tasting Rhone style blend.
3. Calcareous: Again this is another of my favorite wineries and having just tasted through a majority of their wines just two shorts weeks ago, this is a table you won't want to miss out on. For all the folks who are sad that Tablas Creek has sold out of their very tasty Bugundian style chard, the 2009 Chard from Calcareous is every bit as good and still in stock. If they are pouring the Moose, wow you do not want to miss out this 89% Syrah, 11% Petit Verdot, plum blackberry jam on toast. They may even be pouring Twisted Sister, which I didn't taste this time, but typically wows me every time. Also their 2008 Tres Violet is wonderful food friendly wine, not to miss. If you like a great Cab-Sauv, they can punch that ticket as well, with their York Mountain bottling.
4. JUSTIN Vineyards: Another great place for fat, mouth watering Cabernet Sauvignon, blended into a Bordeaux style, wines that drink nice right now, but will stand the test of time and improve greatly with more bottle time. They also have a great Cab-Franc, under the Justification label, too bad it's sold out. So don't look for any of their top wines to be poured at this event, most are sold out, or are only available to club-members. But look for their Savant and Syrah to be in the tasting line-up. Sorry to say, that I've not been a fan of the [Reserve or Not] Chardonnay in the past, but give it swirl it may be your cup of tea.
5. J. Lohr Vineyards and Vines: Rounding out my Top-Five list is J.Lohr, although I didn't get an opportunity to visit them this year, they still remain one of favorite and one of the most reasonable prices producers in Paso. They have large, varied and tasty selection of approachable wines, I'd recommend zeroing in on their Estate series, the Vineyard Series or the Cuvée Series [of course named after my blog, wink].
6. Alta Colina: I know this was only suppose to be a Top-Five, but having just found out, that Alta Colina was going to be there, I had to add them to the "list"! Okay, not sure how I missed seeing this great winery on the list, oh-wait the list of everyone that is pouring no where to be found. Only the 38 wineries mentioned on the Paso GT Postcard. But that said, you really don't want to miss this table, please tell Maggie I said "hello". Another Rhone-Zone favorite that you don't want to miss out on. If you need to get the skinny on this place, please see my most recent review entitled "Old 900 takes Flight at Alta Colina" you won't want to miss giving these wonderfully well made wines a swirl and be sure to put in an order for the "old 900" you won't be dissappointed.
Okay folks, there you have it, please use the list responsibly, go out and slurp properly and by all means folks learn to spit, it really is not that hard of a skill to learn. You'll thank me later, when you're not getting that DUI or spitting purple cookies all over the inside of your vehicle. Until next time sip long and prosper, cheers!
Friday, February 24, 2012
Wilbur got it right finding peace while straining every nerve, can be exhilarating and while winemaking [even for the flying-winemaker] is not quite the same thing as flying a B-29 Super Fortress over enemy territory [a plane Bob Tillman’s dad flew-in during World War II]. Yet there is the thrill, coupled with the strain of bringing in the harvest and seeing it through to the bottling stage and then finally releasing the finished product to the consumer, giving way to that sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. To get a full sense of the story you could check out Tom Plant's review of the same winery, he really goes into some detail.
I think it was my third day on the Paso Wine-Scene, when I noticed a winery on twitter that was following my tweets, conversations ensued, which caused me to become curious about their brand. So I did a little checking into Alta Colina's website, seeing their great selection of Rhone varietals, I begged, no I say pleaded for an appointment from Maggie [it was suppose to be her day away from the tasting room], the winemakers daughter. She gracefully accepted our request, and yes the lovely Mrs. Cuvee would be joining me on this final adventure on the Paso's lovely west-side [I say final, because by the 4th day I was ready to tap-out]. Especially in light of having just returned from an eight day Umbrian Wine adventure.
I want to say also that Maggie; wonderfully handles Alta Colina's social media activities [twitter handle: @AltaColina], one of her many other hats she wears. It's also funny to note; that we could see her winery from one of my other favorite 'new' wineries in Paso Robles, which is Daou which sits atop one of the highest elevations in Paso. On the tour of Alta Colina, a nearly hidden, remarkly tucked away vineyard, we could also see from their very high hill, Daou off in the distance and Calcareous another of my favorites.
Arriving a bit early for our appoinment; we were greeted by "Buddy" the winery dog from Villacana, who was very happy we had stopped by. Mrs. Cuvee wanted to give Buddy a snack, but I said "hey no way, we don't let our dogs have human food, so lets not start with someone elses dog" even if he did look really hungry.
Truth be told; the west-side is our favorite area in Paso Robles, we've always enjoyed wines produced from west-side fruit so much more than other. Even the very first time we slurped and swirled our way across the purple paved landscape, stumling into eastside tasting rooms, we realized nothing really tickled our fancy [even with a really big feather]. We did later find out, that we have exceptions to the rule [hello RN Estate], but for the most part, to Mrs. Cuvee and I the west is best.
I really enjoyed all the wines in their line-up but having to be modest in our choices, since the back of the wine-wagon was nearly full and our budget was pretty much blown, we plucked down some plastic and took home 2010 Late Harvest Viognier, 2009 GSM and begged for the soon to be released "old 900" the star of the show in my estimation.
The "Old 900" Syrah, as it is called, really took off for me almost immediately. After the first splash down, whoa a glass-coating opaque purple/garnet driven core. On the nose and bounding up easily from the rim, it delivers a brooding bouquet of sweet-smoke and unsweetened licorice and lighter notes of dark fruits. Okay now it’s time for the first slurp, a bouquet of lavender, a subtle gamey note, playing nicely together with ripe dark plums and rich blackberry, painted nicely on smooth tannin canvas. Some may look at the ABV and think oh no way, but if you tasted it blind, you’d be very surprised.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Thank you Mr. Bourdain for that wonderful bit of inspiration, like Anthony need, no I say desire for food adventures. I also have bit with wine-adventure bug, I have
developed a need for constant exploration when it comes to wine, I mean there are so many different grape varieties in the viniferous world in which I live, I dare say I may not have enough time left on this mortal coil to give them all a swirl.
But with my last trip to Italy [a country with hundreds of different varietals] firmly tucked under my now bulging belt, and having checked with the "Wine Varietal Scoreboard" it looks like I may have racked-up nearly 20 new grapes in one fell swoop. I had the chance to swirl and slurp wines produced from grapes like, Grechetto, Falanghina, Malvasia del Lazio, Malvasia Nera, Aglianico from Taurasi, Sagrantino from Montefalco to name a few. And big thanks to my new friends from Croatia [of whom I look forward to visiting next year] who were on hand to let us swirl, slurp and gulp new-to-me grapes like; Graševina, Plavac Mali and Pošip. But like our fearless leader in Washington, I won't spike the football just yet, as I'm still in the first quarter.
Almost immediately after I returned from Italy it was time to pack up my wine-wagon, repack my weary luggage and head up the coast from San Diego to yet another wonderful wine destination known as Paso Robles [a short 4-5 hour drive]. Once a well known area for Zinfandel [and in some cases it still is], it's now fast becoming a term I may have coined; called the Rhone-Zone. With that said, I recently unscrewed [I know not the same ring] wine from great little west-side winery called Halter Ranch.
The wine in today's review spot-light is their 2008 Côtes de Paso Blanc. A wine I really didn't think too much of at the time, it was Mrs. Cuvee that insisted that we secure this one bottle to take home and like the good-husband [wink] I gave in, knowing this was not a hill I wanted to die on. It wasn't that I didn't like it, I just thought spending $24 bucks for a drink now and drink often style of wine was a bit more than I wanted to pay. So I socked this wine away in the pantry, where it sat for two years, before chilling and cracking it open just last night. As you may have surmised already, I scored this wonderful yet typical Rhone blend, with Roussane leading the way at 64%, followed by Marsanne at 12% and Viognier bringing up the rear with 4%, on my last trip to Paso Robles for the Passport Weekend.
In the glass this stainless steel tank and oak barrel fermented Rhone blend had a strong straw colored presence, leaning remarkably toward gold. On the palate this wine displayed a nice slap of quince, wet-stone, a pinch of citrus, abundant honeysuckle, and nice dusting of a meaty ripe white peach and crisp apples. Wow, beautiful fruit from the tail to tip, zippy acidity keeping things fresh inviting sip after sip, medium body, all wrapped up in a pretty bow, making for a zesty, personality-filled dry-white that sings a riveting mouth-watering note. My score for this wine is 91 points, a score I would not have given w/o this much bottle age. But that said I'm presently looking for more and I fear that I'm too late to secure a few more bottles [sigh].
It's great to be back in the saddle again, writing, catching up on all my notes and getting things back in order around here. Thanks so much for sticking with me during the couple weeks, I've been out exploring, so that I can bring new and exciting wine-finds to a palate near you. Until next time folks, continue to sip long and prosper, cheers!
Monday, February 20, 2012
It's funny to note, that in direct comparison to most other wine producing regions; that very little of Australia's landmass is suitable for producing wine. Yet, when measured in terms of total production; Australia ranks as number six in the top ten list of all wine producing nations. The wine featured in this review hales from the Fleurieu Peninsular Zone, the home of the McLaren Vale region where fruit forward, soft tannins and bold aromas styles of red wine entice, sip after sip.
We loved this very tasty bottle of Shiraz, it was unusually smooth and less peppery and less inky them most Shiraz on the shelves these days. The 2007 Marquee McLaren Vale Signature Shiraz, is a great example of what Shiraz is and should be.
This delicious wine, is one I encountered while on a cruise through the Panama Canal just weeks ago now; it had a creamy texture, full body and loads of black licorice and mocha café aromas and blueberries hints and tickled my senses with a candy nose. My husband and I enjoyed it very much, too bad the ship only had 3 bottles of this wonderfully balanced food friendly wine in stock, as this was one tasty sexy bottle, worth seeking out and amazingly selling for under $20.
The above tasting note was authored by Honey Bun, who will become a semi-regular contributor to the Cuvée Corner Wine Blog. Just below I wanted to give you some insights into HB [as she will be known]and in her own words. All of her reviews are honest, straight forward and above all organic. She knows her way around a wine bottle and is very passionate about sharing her thoughts and impressions on the wines she drinks. So if you would please welcome her in the comment section below.
About the Author: I truly enjoy wine tasting, it's my passion, it awakens my senses and sometimes ignites a specific sense, that will bring back a fond memory or even a particular smell will evoke an emotion. I love the opportunity Bill has given me, to share this passion for wine discovery with the folks reading this blog. The more I learn and discover about new wine, the more I find that I discover about myself as well. I live in Canada, wine is part of my everyday life, which I love to share with my friends and family. Please look forward to my next review soon, until next time cheers!
Monday, February 6, 2012
The quote from T.S. Elliot perfectly sums up for me, my feelings and impressions about my latest epicurean adventure in Italy. It was wonderful trip, one from which I had just returned late last night. A good deal of it was spent in Umbria and Campania.
I had the good fortune to hang out with some of the very best food and wine writers [bloggers] in the U.S.; together we sampled through some of the best wines being produced in the world. I don't say that lightly either, as I've always maintained, you can pay more, but you won't always get more. The following sentiment also bears repeating; the wines of Campania are a mere question mark in the minds of far too many vinosapiens, who just don't know enough about the bounty of varietals which abide there. With that said, hopefully this review will change that, shining a bright lamp on the unsung hero of the Italian wine scene.
Frankly, I was guilty of not fully knowing about the many splendid wines from this region as well, but if this experience has taught me one thing, never stop exploring. One thing further, don't just come to a new land as a tourist, become a traveler, that's right drill deep down into the bedrock of the place you visit, soak it in and never let it go, grow from it, I'm pretty sure I did. I am thrilled I got the invitation to explore this great spot in Italy.
It was on Day two of the Wine Blogger/Media Fam Trip that our group spent the afternoon with Arnaldo Caprai Winery. A winery that produces wines with a soul, capable of evoking memories of a romp through the Umbrian countryside. Wow, these folks really get it, their [enoteca] tasting room open 7 days a week,
making it great place to get acquainted with their wines. It's not only warm and inviting, but is social media savvy. The wines here, are in a word, wow! I was really impressed and quite taken with each wine we tasted.
If you're keeping score and I know most of you do; then you will be delighted to know that many of the "scores" on the wines they produce average well above the 90 point plateau from varied wine reporting sources. They have become a champion of the Sagrantino grape in Montefalco, and punctuating that success is their Sagrantino di Montefalco 25 Anni Caprai, bottled poetry. A big thanks to our host for the afternoon, Mr. Marco Caprai whose hospitality and generosity exceeded all my expectations.
The 2007 Sagrantino di Montefalco Collepiano DOCG: In the glass a very dark, near opaque ruby color. A wine produced from 100% Sagrantino grapes, it’s a wine built like a artfully balanced hammer. I found it sturdy, weighty, dense in feel and yet capable of both power and finesse. Each swirl and slurp; revealing ripe wild berries, smoke, underbrush, a light dusting of spice and a touch of Cuban cigar tobacco, meld, which define this wonderful example of Umbrian wine.