Life is better on the corner, the place where great wines meet reasonable prices!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Last Minute Stocking Stuffer idea!

Fashion, Style, Shopping for last minute stocking stuffers?

Well the big day is almost here and maybe you have not filled the stockings hanging over the fireplace as of yet or you think why did I get them that?? Well for all my wine loving friends, I have an idea which is not terribly creative but it is definitely a great read for the wine lover on your list:

Red, White and Drunk all Over!

A Wine-soaked Journey from grape to glass........

Natalie MacLean

This a great book I just finished this the other day, hard to put down! An easy read at just a little over 300 pages. The journey Natalie takes through Burgundy is compelling, and really you never want it to end. The people she meets from all corners of the wine world will inspire you and challenge your palate to want to leap outside the box of wine you may now know and love.. she takes on the critics in classic fashion. She ponders the necessity of stemware for each type of wine and wraps up the conclusions nicely. Her trip to California and the conversations she has with the like's of Kermit Lynch and Ellisa Cooper of Discovery wine shop... is riveting. What I am trying to say is pick up a copy of this book and check out her website! Please if you do purchase a book, video or whatever please tell her you were sent by Cuvee Corner. Thanks so much to everyone and have a great holiday season. All the best to everyone of my subscribers! I will see ya in the new year! I have a ton of reviews to write.. until then Cheers Everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Royal Tokaji: The Renaissance of Tokaji

Have you ever wanted to discovery a 14th Century Masterpiece, well here's your chance. I hope you will swirl, sniff and sip yourself into the wonderful discovery of this amazing elixir. Be part of the history of great wine and try this today! Cheers!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Gift Giving Ideas

It's that time of the year and some of you may being going to gift exchanging events or simply want to give some of your wine loving friends a gift that shows your bon vivant taste as well your prowess in choosing quality wines and its accompaniments without breaking the bank.

Last year when my wife and I were in this predicament, while wanting to give a interesting gift that also involved a little more personalization then the simple choice between basket A or B at Costco. We saw many gift baskets, which included a couple wine choices pre-packaged with assorted items which did not necessarily pair with the wine. We thought why would we give someone a "pre-made" gift basket with wines with which we had know experience.
So we embarked on making our own gift baskets. We purchased all are items Cost Plus World Market who had everything with which to create our personalized gift baskets. The had little cheeses, chocolates, wine, baskets and if you want to be Eco, then I suggest shredding some old paper grocery bags which looks great as basket filler. We chose two wines a red and a white, (or one bottle of nice Champagne and my suggestion is the Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvee) and we included a different x-mas ornament for everyone. They ran us about $48.00 each basket. We wrapped them up and were a huge hit. We were pretty proud of our creativity and I invite you to do the same this year!

This year I came across a new product which I've seen before, but these seem to be far more fun! There are many themes and they are removable. They are personalized wine labels from Cerebral Itch . So before you finish up your gift basket get some of those wine labels from Paul and you'll be giving your friends a thoughtful gift and good chuckle as well! I hope everyone has a great Holiday Season! Until next time Cheers everyone!

Cerebral Itch Wine Labels

Seleccion Especial

The Abadia Retuerta, Estate Grown in Rioja, Sardon De Duero 2003, 14% alc. In the glass a thin violet colored rim that segued to an opaque velvet curtain core. This wonderful wine is a blend expressing Tempranillo’s richness at 75%, Merlot’s roundness at 5% and Cabernet Sauvignon’s aromatic elegance coming in at 20%. Which for my palate made like a visit to a tobacco store humidor, breathing in all the wonderful aromas deeply and a lithe compote of dark fruits and well worn saddle leather, followed my a long palate coating finish. In a word yum!

Mr. Parker rated this wine 88 Pt's. I would say it requires a least hedonistic 91 Pt's. This is huge wine for the price. It is selling for $19.99 @ Bevmo and was a wine I tasted in my wine class @ ISG. This could be a everyday drinker and just happened to pair ever so nicely with some smoked beef sausage one of my classmates most graciously provided. My recommendation is purchase a six pack if you can and if storage is not an issue or buy one for an upcoming holiday party or gift giving occasion to show off your epicurean taste! Until next time Cheers!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Suggestions!

I thought this would be a creative way to introduce my recommended wine for the traditional holiday meal of turkey and the usual supects side dishes. Also with the wine library video it would present some other ideas for your holiday feast. The wine I am about to introduce here should pair nicely with all parts of your meal, from appetizers to dessert. Enjoy!

Zilliken Riesling Butterfly, (Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken) a well balanced and delicate wine from the Mosel region, deftly combines peach flavors with a hint of floral notes on the nose; dances on the palate, with enough acidity to refresh your worked over palate. Cheers everyone and have a great Thanksgiving Holiday!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Paso Robles, a tale of two cities! Part 4 "Rhone Rangers"

As promised here is my fourth blog about my Paso wine experience. Often times you leave many of the best for the last and in my ever not so humble opinion that is what I have done. It is another hot day in Paso, although a hard rain came through overnight and left the beautiful Paso skies full of gentle puffy whites. The harvest heat picked right back up from where it left off the previous day. Our first stop of the day is L'Adventure, which I will let Robert Parker give you a quick blurb about the going's on at this gem in Western Paso.

Parker describes it this way; "transplanted Frenchman, Stephan Asseo (from St.-Emilion), has found a home as well as some great terroirs in the limestone soils of Paso Robles (all his vineyards are situated on the western side of Highway 101). Asseo continues to go from strength to strength, producing a fabulous portfolio of wines that makes L-Aventure one of the bright, shining reference points for the region. This is one of the California Central Coast superstars, and the wines are worth every cent."-Robert Parker, Wine Advocate

All of this is true and drinking the wine you get the feeling that you are in smack in the middle of the Rhone. This why L'Aventure and a host of other wineries have been dubbed the "Rhone Rangers"
The first thing we tasted was the 2005 Optimus (51% Syrah, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Petit Verdot) wow a great wine! Seamless, elegant fruit and a balanced acidity a good structure for aging. But I recommend drinking now. Oh by the way RP liked this wine as much as we did. The night before we went to L'Adventure we paired this same wine with a rack of lamb. Marvelous!

That same day in the tasting room we tried the Estate Cuvée 2006, 49% Syrah estate, 37% Cabernet estate and 14% Petit Verdot estate. Now when it says estate, it means the grapes are sourced from the vineyards they own and control from grape to glass. This really makes a huge difference in the quality of the wine and you can just taste the freshness and viewing the vineyards you start to get a sense of place. Check out this picture of L'Adventure I shot from the tasting room door.You see why the vineyards here produce some of the finest wine coming out of the Paso area. We also tasted the Estate Cote a Cote 2006 40% Mouvedre estate, 30% Grenache estate and 30% Syrah Estate. Another amazing effort! We purchased all our budget would afford and signed up for their wine club (were on the waiting list) in hopes of being able to purchase more of their wines in the future. They are a little on the expensive side for most folks. But contrasted with their brethren in the Rhone, the are quite a bargain.

By the way the tasting fee of $10.00 can be shared, but I recommend everyone get their own as the tasting fee includes a very nice Riedel 'O' Cabernet/Merlot/Bordeaux Stemless Wine Glasses, which do have the L'Adventure logo. These glasses sell for $24.95 for the pair retail. But you can get them with your tasting (pours are very generous). Make sure you go early to avoid the crowds, this tasting room or Salon as they call it will fill up quickly. L'Adventure is on most folks hit parade, so please stop on by, taste, enjoy and take some home to enjoy on a special occasion.

That's is all I have time for now, but I still have 3 more wineries from the area that I believe will shock and awe your palates. So until then Cheers! Remember a day without wine is just not a very good day!

What's is the Justification?

Justin Justification 2006
Bordeaux Red Blends
Central Coast, California

(this vintage is sold out) Their Price: $41.99 @
But it can still be purchased for 36.00 from the winery, if you join the Wine Society or 43.99 without the club. If you purchase six bottles and live in California, here's a gift no shipping charges! Enjoy this one gang!

Again if your in the area, by all means stop by for a visit. Just don't go on Saturday afternoon, unless you want to drown in a sea of imbibers.. so I would recommend booking an early midweek tour and tasting. I would love to hear back about your adventures with this wine. Until then Cheers!

Yum factor of 4 Stars - 11/14/2008 I would buy this wine again Some times you wonder how any wine can be so good and for a reasonable price. This wine hits both notes in stride and takes it to the house! If you love wine and the NFL, well you will definitely understand when I say, this wine could go...... all... the wayyyyy!! This wine danced on our palates like a lithe ballerina @ the Nut Cracker and delivered quite a performance. Wow a long persistent finish, soft gentle red fruits, a nice spice box on the mid-palate and the Alc. is unobtrusive. This wine will most likely sell out quickly! I went to Justin in October and purchased two, came home and a couple of weeks later drank another one. I just ordered another 1/2 case. Better Hurry!

Tasting Tags: Cab Franc and Merlot Food Pairing Tags: Just about anything! Was this review helpful?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Paso Robles, a tale of two cities! Part 3

So day two (which again was very hot) of our winery road trip in Paso Robles, we headed to the West side. The locals call Justin and most of the wineries located here the "farside". In October the hills of Paso are like giant stacks of pale yellow hay dotted with solitary oak trees. But before we head out I filled our large ice chest with some ice, to avoid (inside temp reached about a 98 degrees) cooking all the wine, we anticipated purchasing. Upon arriving at the vineyard you could definitely see the soil type differences between the East and West. The calcareous soil, white soil containing calcium and magnesium, similar to that of the Rhone Valley jutting up above the surface, like icebergs floating on a ocean of soil. There in lies the contrast in East vs. West wine styles.
We had scheduled a tour @ Justin first thing in the morning. Our tour guide Jim Gerakaris, who is part of the tour and tasting room team gave us a grand tour of the facilities. Since we were there in the middle of harvest, we witnessed first hand many of the harvest (including a pesky flies which can't leave you alone) activities from grape to glass. It is a very impressive operation, the machinery and attention to detail is evident in the quality of wine they are producing. Our tasting was conducted back in the tasting room which is pretty lavish and encourages purchases.
The tasting line-up included the 2007 Reserve Chardonnay, 2007 Viognier, 2006 Syrah, 2006 Syrah and the 2006 Savant. Unfortunately were unable to taste the 2006 Justification or 2005 Isosceles, but we did purchase a few of the 06 Justification and trying this at home. Wow, very good! We luckily already had some of the 05 Isosceles at home. We did join the Justin Wine Society so we would be able to purchase the Isosceles Reserve.
The wines I would pass on here are the 07 Viognier and the 07 Chardonnay. These varietals typically grow better in a cooler climate and despite being sourced from the cool, ocean influenced Templeton gap area I thought both efforts were too austere. Justin also produces about five other wines which we politely ask to taste and they politely refused. I highly recommend stopping by if you are in the area it is totally worth the trip and book a tour.

Next we went to Tolo Cellars, and met the young winemaker and proprietor Josh Gibson. In wine circles he is said to be "flying under the radar", but definitely not a place to missed. As you pull up to a "little red school" which serves as the tasting room. I think we hung out in the kitchen which has a bar facing the sliding door entry way. He was very gracious to grant us a private tasting during the harvest. We had a great time talking about his wine making style and how he got started. The wines are very good and had a long persistent finish. The wine descriptions are very different than most, but are very smartly written. We walked out with six bottles and wished our budget could have afforded us more.

The wines we left with were the 2004 Cabernet, the 2002 Zinfandel and the 2004 Asini two of each. All of Josh's wines are worth your consideration and worth the trip to the tasting room. You can't find these wines on your supermarket shelves and your local wine shop guy won't have these either, but give him a call he may be able to ship a few bottles. If not "make the trip, you won't be disappointed", this is the advice I received and I am very happy I discovered this Westside gem. Thanks Josh!

In Part four you can look forward to my visit @ Tablas Creek, L'Adventure and Lone Madrone. Until then cheers!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Paso Robles, a tale of two cities! Part 2

So you maybe wondering where does the the tie in from Charles Dickens book, "A tale of two cities" come from? Simply, I get it from one of the books major themes, which is duality.

Thus my premise here is twofold. You have a dividing line which is the 101 and a controversy about dividing up these two areas, East and West into different appellations. You also have the media attention ascribed to the Westside and some shunning of the Eastside. Then from my practical experience in the area tasting just two weeks ago and putting all politics and opinions aside I voted with my wife and I's palate. Let the wine do the talking, as it has much to say about it's own terroir!
That said you can find a interesting article posted online about the subject of this duality and continuing controversy @

To be fair and objective, I would give the Eastside an opportunity and so on the first day, we visited Tobin James, Eberle, EOS, Bianchi, RN Estate, and J Lohr. For the latter two we found some wines we really liked, but for the most part the East Side wines were pretty uninteresting.
To be completely fair we did not visit every winery on the Eastside, but the majority of the wine which really impressed us, was on the much celebrated Westside.
As for the highlights of the Eastside we discovered, we found two wineries making some very interesting wines who are as different as night and day. Boutique vs. big, bulk wine, corporate-owned winery.

The first one is J Lohr, which as described has a much larger presence in the wine market place. But I've been drinking J Lohr wine for quite a while and while I don't like everything they put out, I've been drawn to the Cab's they make, like the Hilltop Vineyard, the Seven Oaks and a new one to us is their Old Vines Zin (30 year old vines). While the Cabernet's are widely distributed the old vines Zin, is pretty much available @ the tasting room only (which is modeled after a circa 19th century schoolhouse emphasizing the goal of educating there customers about wine.)

Now for the second place we went which is not too far from J. Lohr, we arranged on a recommendation to make an appointment Roger Nicolas, owner and winemaker of RN Estate. He was gracious enough to grant us a tasting. He does his tastings from his home, which is gorgeous! Please see the rest of the pix I took of his place in the Paso Album. Best views in Paso!

The focus of his wines is to be food friendly, to that end his wines are what I would call more of the "feminine" side. Not the big, bold in your face massively structured wines, but instead lithe, and balanced and mature. We came home with 6 bottles, only our budget and space requirements restrained us from purchasing more. We tastes 6 different wines, but we settled on the East Knoll Cuvee 2005, Cuvee Des Artistes 2005 and the Cuvee Des Trois Cepages 2006. Wines which reflect red Rhone and Bordeaux varietals, and I would say very accurately, without the normal massive price tag. To visit RN Estate online click on over to

Our tasting was unusual in two ways, one we were seated around a gorgeous wood table and given stemware which amplified the characteristics of the wine being poured. Two, the owner himself sat down with us and discussed his wines and winemaking philosophy! Thanks Roger!

Stay tuned part three of the series coming soon........!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Paso Robles, a tale of two cities! Part 1

Well it was a vacation, anniversary celebration and wine tasting week all rolled into one. The place, Paso Robles. Our trip took us up the five, (the passage through LA, terrible) through the grape vine and crossed over on the 46 heading west. Initially you pass my many vineyards but alas those grapes have a different destination other than wine (or at least we hope). As you continue down the 46 W you see Pistachio (ever feel like stopping to pick some?) tree groves and a reminder about, "where there is water there is food."

One thing unexpected thing is a sea of oil wells (about 1/2 still pumping) on the two-lane stretch from Paso Robles to Cholame which was once known as "Blood Alley" where James Dean lost his life. The 46 W is a place where you don't want to be distracted, with many drivers wanted to pass slower moving traffic and times at the peril of themselves and others.

In all about 5 1/2 hour journey from San Diego to downtown Paso. We had a nice lunch @ the Odyssey Cafe ( I give this place a big thumbs up) and then before checking in we decided to do some wine tasting on the East Side of the 101. Since we had arrived by 11:30 am we were in the perfect position to hit a number of wineries and take a few tours before closing time.

So we (that's my wife and I) make a stop Arroyos Robles and meet Jason (Owner of AR) and Deanna (DD), who started Wine Country Outings and has these great wine journals(listed as a MS friend). We had a great time talking wine, drinking the wines and enjoying the hospitality of our host. Thanks Jason! Proud of his Irish ancestry. But the wine we liked and unfortunately left behind was: The Little Star pictured below, because we felt a little hurried we left there without a purchase and quickly made our way to one other tasting room in town (Silver Stone) which DD liked and was on her Journal list. Thanks DD!
Which meant for us 1st class service and free tastings and a nice discount on our purchases, we went with the 2004 Syrah, Paso Robles which is sourced from Orchid Hill Vineyard in Paso Robles’ cool Westside. (which @ the time I didn't realize would become important) Wine makers notes "This lean site, at high elevation and planted on shale and limestone soils, produces deeply-colored, robustly flavored wines that display elements of saddle-leather and blackberry, with firm but supple tannins" and @ 17% alc. I recommend decanting. But it is a big beautiful bold fruit bomb, with some nice acidity as the frame work. You hardly notice the alc. as it is very smooth and has a long persistent finish. I recommend ordering a couple today!I unfortunately will have to finish here for now, but please stay tuned for part two coming very soon, until then cheers!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fine Tuning @ Domaine Faiveley

Well the premiere of this new films series from Wilson Daniels, Fine Tuning at Domaine Faiveley has come and gone and I was asked to review the short film and also one of their wines.
I had the opportunity to taste the Domaine Faiveley Montagny, Cote Chalonnaise, a Burgundian white wine (a Chardonnay 2006).
Price: 28.00, Alc. 12.8%
Appearance: the clarity was bright
Color: pale yellow @ the rim and the core was light straw
Nose: Aromas of a thinly sliced granny smith apple
Palate: Tepid sweetness, crisp acidity, with stony fruit on the palate, a somewhat thin body, but the finish is where you can lightly taste some of the restrained girth of the fruit. Drink now or hold through 2012
Typically not the type of Chardonnay I enjoy as it spent 14 months in stainless steel. Drink within 5 minutes after refrigeration for maximum enjoyment.

Regarding the movie, for me it was a rewarding experience. Often when you think of French wines and the French in general, the first phrase which comes to my mind is "One of a stern or strict bearing or demeanor; forbidding in aspect" but young (25) owner of the J. Faiveley comes across in this short movie is his sense of humbleness (not willing to sit on his laurels) and the respect Erwan has for tradition is refreshing.
I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions of this short movie!
How did I get there? Well when Erwan Faiveley says, "You don't own the vineyard, the vineyard owns you" and Erwan further says, "when you drink the wine from Domaine Faively he wants you to think of one thing, that is who made the wine and where it came from." Terroir is very important!
Being someone who has been largely a domestic wine drinker for the most part, seeing the film increased my interest in wanting to taste more wine from Domaine Faiveley and a deeper appreciation for French wine. I recommend taking a look at this short film and give it a thumbs up!
*Erwan Faiveley, the seventh generation to lead Domaine Faiveley, discusses his wineries distinct position as one of the largest vineyard owners in Burgundy, as well as new vineyard acquisitions, recent changes in wine making philosophy and his vision for the future.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Paso Robles, a tale of two cities!

Hey everyone,

Just got back from my trip to Paso a couple of days ago. What a great place! The town is not too big, but it does have a lot going on. Especially if dining is on your mind, great menus and good service are the norm. Wine, the sky is the limit! No metered parking and the traffic is non-existent. The folks here are down to earth and very friendly.

I call this a tale of two cities because of the east/west dividing line of the vineyards. I will be writing about my adventures in Paso over the next few weeks. There is so much to talk about! A series entitled, "Paso Robles East vs. West, a tale of two cities" I will also be including a huge photo album of the Paso wine experience. I am in the process of editing and articulating my thoughts. (No it will not be as stuffy, as I just made it sound) it was another fun adventure in wine country. I will give you the good, the bad and the ugly! Not too much of latter two, though!

But there were a few.

In regards the wine experience there, like my last blog about the movie trailer, "a sense of place" you will see why I have entitled my blog series "a" tales of two cities! If you have been there you already know what I mean, if not then you will.

Until then Cheers!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A sense of place!

I've been contacted by the film maker to review this Film's premiere online October 2, 2008. Which is a series that will capture the essence of family owned wine estates through short films.

Having already watched the trailer myself, I am eager to share it with you here. The only thing missing from the conversation is your voice. I would love to hear any input you may have regarding what you see in the trailer. When I saw the trailer it made me think of a word many use in the wine world, more specifically in the old world vineyards which is Terroir.

A quick look up online will reveal that loosely translated it means: " A " terroir " is a group of vineyards (or even vines) from the same region, belonging to a specific appellation, and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and wine making savoir-faire, which contribute to give its specific personality to the wine. "

To me this short film series say's it much better and more aptly then the definition you find above. A trailer for the entire film series is available online now @ Individual films will premiere online over the next six weeks, beginning with the October 2, 2008, debut of "The Renaissance of Tokaji," showcasing Royal Tokaji. All films will be available for download to iPods, as well as web-based viewing at Wilson Daniels Films, YouTube (Wilson Daniels channel), Facebook (Wilson Daniels page) and Vimeo.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hello Merlot: 2002 Joseph Phelps Merlot

 "If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!' 'Don't ask questions like that up in wine country. They'll think you're some kind of neophyte." Miles [Sideways]

Remember this now famous or infamous [depends on your prospective I assume] quote from the character; Miles in the movie Sideways and how his long cherished bottle he was waiting to drink actually contained Merlot. Slurping down a bottle Merlot last night, reminded me of Miles aversion to Merlot and subsequent revelation that he would not be drinking any Merlot that night and how he threatened to leave if someone actually had the temerity to order it. 

Thinking about that scene a moment; it stands out as a good reminder of how foolish some folks can be, to be bullied by into not doing something [like not drinking Merlot], by a scene from a movie. Personally I don't have anything against Merlot, in fact I actually like it quite a bit, but I prefer its right-bank style, and sadly at the moment I don't too many sitting in my cellar.

Now that said, just last night when I was considering which wine to have with Tri-Tip Medallions, a cremini mushroom gravy, creamy mashed red potato and freshly steamed broccoli crowns. I thought to myself, this meal cries out for some f-----g Merlot!!
So off to my cellar I go, [read that; vino-temp making like the proverbial gorilla in the room] and I know there's one bottle of Merlot I've been looking forward to uncorking this bottle. So ah-ha there it's the Joseph Phelps, Napa Valley, vintage 2002, 14.5% abv which a generous friend gave us last year. 

This wine had a tight beam of fruit on the front palate and a long consistent finish. This is a wine of structure, balance and beauty wrapped in a crimson package. The aromas escaping easily from the glass, spoke immediately of promised elegance, just waiting to be unwrapped.

So any way WS gave this wine 91 points, which I think is a fair score. But it's not the score I gave it. This wine is drinking marvelously right now; but a bit of time in the decanter an hour before dinner proved a smart move.  

If you have any hanging around or spot a bottle for less than forty on the shelf, do yourself a favor and grab a couple, you'll be glad you did. If you want the pairing recipe, let me know and I will zip it over to you via email. As you may have gathered by now; I am the Head Chef and bottle washer around here [Chez Vino] as well as self appointed wine-reviewer.  

Now unto the scoring portion of this review, I gave this wine 87 points. It didn't blow my hair back, but Mrs. Cuvee and I still finished the bottle none-the-less.  This wine sells for $40 most places, but if you going to blow that kind of cheddar on a wine, you may want to jump into their Cabernet Sauvignon.  It has a similar label to the Merlot, but unlike the Merlot, the Cab. is a blend sporting a small percentage of Merlot. That said, it's definitely a wine which earned them a very nice reputation. Until next time folks, sip long and prosper cheers!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Birthday Wine and Dine!

“I like stepping into the future. Therefore, I look for doorknobs.”~ Unknown

Well another Birthday has come and gone, half of ninety and still able to knock out three to four, six plus mile runs a week, not to bad. The wife and I headed over to Flemming's (wine bar & steak restaurant) for dinner to celebrate my getting older.

While it is a chain restaurant and they only have one Sommelier, who coordinates the wine list and the selection of the 100 wines by the glass or bottle, the service is very good and the wine choices seem to favor pairing with their menu. While the wine list is very good, the price points are far above what you would pay for the bottle retail, by as much as 400% in some cases [ouch], so I would suggest taking advantage of their BYOB policy and just paying the corkage.

We started our meal with Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs. The creamy palate and rosy hue melded on our palates ever so delicately with a clear fruit expression. Wow, this a very good sparkling wine, can't call it Champagne, though it is made in the traditional method. And according to the winemakers notes, "This non-vintage cuvée is a blend of 18 different base wines" quite a tasty blend none-the-less.

I scored this wine 90 points, this bubbly has very good quality for such a little price. You can find it locally for about $18.00 retail. If you see this on the menu by the glass, order this as an aperitif. Very good and compatible with many appetizers. We had a free appetizer of thin sliced and baked french bread [like bagel chips] Gormandise Cheese, and a Olive Tapenade and celery, a pairing which worked out ever so nicely.

For the main entrée, I choose the New York Strip bone-in and my wife had the Fillet and crab, accompanied with garlic mash and Parmesan spinach. We paired our meals with the Hess Collection Cabernet, Allomi Vineyard 2005, 86% Cab, 10% Petite Sirah, and 4% Petite Verdot. 14.5 Alc. Spent 18 month in 30 Am./ 70 Fr. oak.

Just released March 2008. Gentle spice in the nose and front palate followed by a long persistent tri-berry cobbler finish. In the glass color showed dark cherry and crimson. I scored this wine 89 points on Cuvee Corner 100 pt tasting scale. Considering the retail price is a mere $24.00. A very food friendly wine, which is immediately approachable without the need to decant. The kind of wine I like to call refined elegance for a Paupers price.

Now for dessert, we had the Lava Cake,  wow this was the best ever, smothered with vaniller ice cream served atop a thin sliced sheet of vaniller wafer. We paired this with a Taylor Fladgate 10 yr old Tawny Port. I scored this wine 89 points, a very good pairing.

In the glass, notes of burnt molasses, tobacco, spices, and jammy plums emanate from the glass. On the palate it is full-bodied, hugely dense, immensely rich, and light in color, this young behemoth is also amazingly balanced and harmonious! Wow this sealed the deal and brought a wonderful birthday wine and dine to a close.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sideways Road Trip Revisited

A few years back I took a road trip and got "Sideways in the SBC, I tasted my first Cambria Pinot. It was the 667 Clone from the Santa Maria Valley.
I remember the dance between the wine’s rich, earthy berries and the rich mushroom risotto. It was a distinct wine experience for me and I realize now, knowing more than I did then, why Denise Shurtleff (winemaker) embraces the philosophy behind the wine making at Cambria. Which is "that the function of wine is to complement and extend the pleasure of a meal.” Mission accomplished!
I was reminded of this philosophy and reminiscing about the "Sideways" road trip when rummaging around for a bottle to open the other night. I came across the 2003 Cambria Pinot Noir # 667, Santa Maria Valley with 15.7% ALC. Price: $38 Score: 91 This was a superb PN! It has only aged a few years but it paid off in spades. I barely even noticed the 15.7% alc. as it sailed on my palate like a tall ship on a smooth sea. Each swirl, sniff and sip was a reminder how good, a great wine can be.
If you are ever in the area I recommend a trip to the tasting room. It is well worth the drive! If I may quote the wine maker who signed a few of our bottles the day we were there, in describing her work environment, (I'm so jealous) she said,"I'll stand by the winery with the mountains behind me and the Sisquoc River below me and gaze out over a sea of bright green vineyards as far as the eye can see. The grandeur of the Cambria Estate is impressive". Of course if you can't make it to the winery and see a bottle @ your favorite wine shop grab one and give it a swirl. You won't be disappointed!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Another good reason to drink Red Wine!

Have you every experienced food poisoning? Well I have on more than one occasion, you feel like you wanna die. But science has come to our rescue once more with some more good news about red wine. We all know about the cardiovascular benefits of drinking red wine, but now there is another good reason to drink red wine, especially Cabernet. Like I needed another reason to drink wine, hell my nick name is already purpleteeth, geez whats next purple liver?? But I digress here is the good news and I will just put the quote from the researcher here.

"Researchers Azlin Mustapha, associate professor of food science, and Atreyee Das, a doctoral student in the food science program, have found that red wine appears to act as a natural anti-microbial in our intestinal tract while leaving untouched the helpful probiotic bacteria needed for digestion. The wines that exhibit those properties most strongly: Cabernet, Zinfandel and Merlot. (Some of my favorite varietals)

Red grape juice (yeah but I like mine fermented) produced similar results, the researchers found. On the other hand, no white wines seemed to show the same anti-microbial action." Thanks Azlin! I feel better already! But all you Chardonnay folks need to more careful! See this is another reason why my (wine fridge) cellar is 85% red and only 15% white. Ha!! Cheers!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

2005 Epicuro Aglianico Beneventano

I picked up this wine @ TJ's and was scratching my head again. What the heck is this varietal? But hey for $4.99 each, I decided to give it a whirl. Wines produced from Aglianico tend to be full bodied, firm tannins and high acidity Which could mean this wine has aging potential. In my opinion this wines rich flavors means it will be a nice accompaniment to many Italian food dishes without over powering.
On first blush I thought it was a Grenache, but upon searching the website, I found out it is actually made from Aglianico, a rarely grown varietal which originated in Greece. It had all the classic aromas of bright cherries and smoke, framed by subtle spice box similar to a Grenache. The mouth feel of this wine is pleasantly fruity and light. Just a hint of oak. For the price you just can't beat it as an everyday wine. I gave this wine 84 Pt's. Cheers~Enjoy!

"Clos Pegase" 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine I drank just last night comes from the Cabernet Sauvignon Class 2004 Napa, many of the 04's are very good. I've tasted many 04 Cab's from Napa and my conclusion is, this was a very "good year" in Napa for Cab...

That said, last night I tasted for the first time a wine a friend @MS recommended. She was high on the PN, but in seeing the Cab @ Costco @ 30% off the single bottle price through the winery I purchased one. Personally I like to let the bottle relax in my cellar (a big wine fridge) before I drink it, to minimize what I call "bottle shock". I typically tend to drink wine with dinner, and so I decided to pair this Bordeaux styled wine with a fat Porter House, which had been marinating all day, damn fine!
Now about this wine, which on the initial taste offers fruitiness (very subtle) and accessibility at an early age. Because they use the old technique of extended maceration, which creates softer tannins. Indeed this wine was as smooth as a baby's bottom and while being elegant and refined. The after dinner quaffs were much better though and yes I finished the bottle. Not hard to do with a wine this good. Reportedly their Cabernets sit in natural caves for two years which must add to the caliber this wine shows in the glass.
On the nose, pure cassis, blackberry fruit tones combine with coffee and cedar. The palate is big, with a subdued luscious; full bodied yet vibrant,with a toasty oak integration, which combined naturally with the tannins for long persistent finish. This wine really opened up very nicely toward the end of the evening, which suggested to me a decanting prior to dinner would have enhanced my experience greatly! Be that as it may, I can highly recommend this wine to you and with this kind of dedication, their other varietals must be of similar caliber. I scored this wine 91 Pt's. Enjoy!

Friday, July 25, 2008

2008 California State Fair "Best Pinot Noir" Gold, 95 Points???

My wife and I and some other friends got together the other day for semi-regular wine pairing dinners and one of guest brought this little gem, with its accolades completely unbeknownst to us. This was the first bottle opened and we decanted it for about a 1/2 hour. It was very pale in color, almost like a rosé, with just a hint of cinnamon and light cherry flavors rolling over the palate.

The finish was thin, but it was fruit forward and while we thought this a pretty tasty juice for the price, we could not elevate this wine to this level of sophistication and quality, which 95 points would bring. See the chart below and you'll get a better idea of what I am saying. I'd give it at the most 87 points.

Over 3,000 California wines and 600 wineries were in the running, and this gem from Mendocino took the coveted top prize for the red wine category. Castle Rock 2006 Mendocino County Pinot Noir, Reg $9.99 2008 California State Fair "Best Pinot Noir" and received the "Best of Show" Red Wine Gold Medal 95 2006 Mendocino County Pinot Noir Castle Rock Winery

While this is no small feat, umm 95 points is over the top in my opinion. I really can't agree with the results at all. I'm not really sure how it won top honors, but try it for yourself and let me know what ya think. I 'd be very interested in hearing your own opinions. Does this wine deserve 95 points based on the criteria below? No doubt this wine selling for $8.99, is a great value, but for me this is where the enchantment ends.

92-95: Any wine receiving these kind of points. It would be considered a rocking wines that over achieve in their category. But on occasion wines in this range are a bit one-dimensional, but that one dimension will blow you away. Gary Vaynerchuk Scoring

90 - 95: An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines. Robert Parker's Classification

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Strange Decanters of the Weird Kind"

Many folks will agree to disagree over whether or not decanters can improve the taste of wine. While decantings value is controversial amongst some wine expertshowever debating the aesthetic value of presenting wine in an elegantly designed vessel is another story all together.

While I will see it as a point of amusment others will see these decanters as the intersection of where form meets function. Check out these decanters, I am sure you'll be rushing out to get one for yourself. It looks as though the decanter has legs, and could run off any time. Hey come back with my wine!

Some are mean't to look like the roots of the grape vine and still others your hearts circulatory system. I am sure they would make and excellent conversation piece. They can be found at Affordable Modern Furniture

Testarossa Wine Dinner

At the invitation of Diana Jensen of Testarossa Vineyards, my wife and I and another couple headed to Thee Bungalow, for the Testarossa Wine Dinner back on June 18th. We all had a great time and Diana Jensen proved herself again a wonderful host. Thanks!

If you ever wondered if hobbies can turn into a new line of work, well check this abbreviated story about a hobby that got out of control. In a snapshot about Testarossa Vineyards. It all began with the husband and wife team of Rob and Diana Jensen in their garage. Since then the vineyard has grown from a production of 25 cases to the 16,000 cases it now produces at the Novitiate Winery, the Bay Area's oldest continuing winery. If in the area I highly recommend a visit. There wines are consistently of good quality and I heartily recommend them to you.

Back to the dinner, this was my first time at the Thee Bungalow, and I'm not sure how I've not run across this little gem before. We were warmly greeted upon our arrival and given the traditional Italian greeting, of an apéritif of Prosecco. Which was bright, fresh and fruity.
Now here's the line up.
Testarossa Wine Dinner
First Course
Pan Seared Maine Diver Scallop local fava bean beurre blanc
Costello, Chardonnay, 2006
This Chardonnay peared very nicely and enhanced the experience. This wine sells for about $32.00
Second Course
Sauteed Veal Sweetbreads roasted pecans red wine cherry chutney
Palazzio, Pinot Noir, 2006
This pairing really didn't work for me, but this a good PN, but the $37.00 price point is a bit excessive for a Pinot of this caliber. C/C score86 pts
Third Course
Kobe Beef Raviolis summer truffle vinaigrette
Sleepy Hollow, Pinot Noir, 2006
Now this was a very nice pairing and this wine had a flavor trio of cinnamon,cherry and a touch of clove. A solid PN with good struture and a long finish. Selling for $ 59.00 in my estimation again is too excessive. Unless you purchase @ the club price, 20% off. C/C 89 pts
Fourth Course
Grilled Natural Oregon Lamb Loin
local fann english peas. moroccan spiced lamb bordelaise
Subasio, Syrah, 2006
This wine was definitely our favorite and paired very nicely with the lamb, which was excellent. This wine was had plenty of well-focused fruit and its nicely stated varietal spice and fleshy, fully ripened fruit graced my palate. A touch firm in overall balance. We pick up three of these at @ 28.00 each. 90 pts
Fifth Course
Goat Cheese Panna Cotta
pistachio biscotti, orange gastrique
Sleepy Hollow, Chardonnay, 2006
Sorry to report this pairing just did not work out at all. The Chardonnay which was very good on it's own, but was in conflict orange gastique. This Chard. is like Crème Brûlée in a bottle. (C/C score 92 pts) But the 39.00 price point will keep me from drinking these on a regular basis. I believe a Muscat Cannelli would have paired much better! But Testarossa does not offer a Muscat.

Price for this menu is $59.95
Thee Bungalow Restaurant
4996 W. Point Loma Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92107(619) 224-2884

Thursday, July 17, 2008

2005 Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon wine review

2005 Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine sells for about $20.00

I'm not really sure if this is an unusual pairing or this wine is a superior food friendly wine. Either way I cannot speak more highly of this wine, which paired ever so nicely with the Island Girl Ribs. My wife and I brought dinner to a friend who had a bicycle accident (and is on the mend with a separated shoulder) and she had this marvelous bottle of wine open and waiting as we walked in. The wine had beautiful extraction, deep hues of blueberry and crimson at the edges. The bouquet spoke eloquently of the coming attraction. This wine rolled over by palate with a sea of long lasting flavors. See the wine makers notes below, which aptly describe this wines flavor profile.

Back to the dinner: Okay, yes I was the cook and I thought wow this is good. I will throw out my recipe and you can decide for yourself. Here is the menu:

-Island Girl Pork Ribs

-Fried rice, and sautéed Vermicelli

-Spinach Salad, bacon, eggs, grape tomatoes, onions and shredded Mozzarella cheese, with a highly addictive poppy seed dressing, yum!

-For dessert homemade (oatmeal crumb top) peach cobbler, with vaniller ice cream.

Preparation and ingredients:Fresh pork ribs, boil on high for about 20 minutes, add to water dried onions, ginger, garlic. While this is going prepare the "island girl sauce" ketchup, honey, garlic, ginger, onions, olive oil, molasses and some red wine vinegar. Stir and warm this sauce. Take ribs immediately from boiling water and put into prepared sauce. Coat thoroughly and let cook on low for an hour or two. Just a note about the sauce, I never make it the same way twice.

Tasting Notes - Aromas of blackberry, plum, clove, coffee, and cassis with hints of toasty oak and sweet vanilla. On the palate cassis, coffee and toasted oak add to this rich and mouth-filling Cabernet. It has a lingering finish is the result of a well-suited to take on any meal.

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