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

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.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This Justin 2005 Isosceles Reviews

I reviewed this wine way back in March 2008. Ha! See! These were my thoughts (see below) and impressions far before any of these accolades were laid upon this wine. Just goes to show even someone with an "un-trained" palate can be discerning, without all the fancy pedigrees normally associated with the tasting and scoring community! Opps, but what do I know I am not a professional. I am just a guy who knows a great bottle of wine when he drinks one. If you've missed my previous review about this wine here is a snippet!
NY Strip Loin Short Rib Hash Red Wine Demi Glace 2005 Justin 'Isosceles' Red Wine (orginally posted 04/07/08)

I really not a fan of Bordeaux stylistic wines per se, but this wine was quite good and I gave it 87 pt's . The legs on this muscular wine were amazing and spoke to my palate most eloquently, with cassis, cherry , and boysenberry.. which paired excellently with the NY Strp Lion and accompanying short rib hash and RW Demi glace.. The nose was initially a little smokey and difused, but then the aromas of chocolate and cassis wafted from the glass as I swirled, sniffed and sipped what was a very complex and well put together wine which will reward with some careful years of cellaring..! Highly recommended.
In the glass the color was deep hues of brooding and intense blueberry and dark cherry intermingled... priced @ $54.00 each a little pricey but I did secure a couple.

92 Points Wine Spectator - June 2008 Smooth, rich, elegant and refined, with a tight, sleek focus on ripe, vibrant, even juicy red currant, black cherry and wild berry flavors that are impeccably balanced, ending with a long, complex finish that keeps the fruity flavors reverberating. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Drink now through 2015.—J.L.

Top Ten Wines - Frank Mangio – A Taste of Wine – July 2008 Gold Medal - 2008 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition - June 2008Trophy Winner!

Top USA Red Bordeaux Blend - 2008 Decanter World Wine Awards - June 2008 "The most influential wine competition in the world." (The Best Wine of all USA Gold Medal Winners! The only American blend to win a trophy!)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Oh, what to pair, what to pair??

Okay, so if your like me and your wondering what wine should I serve at my next BBQ. Summer time is hot and and you don't want to cook in the house, so I head for the BBQ grill.

Maybe your thinking geez I just have a few beers instead or drink a rosé Personally for me, when I want something which compliments my meal, I am thinking of what is ready to uncork in the cellar and if it is for grilled, smoky foods, I think big, bold, and drinkable! But I just may quaff down a few glasses of chilled Rosé while I am cooking.

What kind of wines should they be? Most likely you're going to be on the lookout for big wines; full bodied (nice tight legs) and fruit-forward. Maybe on the order of something like a bold assertive wine with attributes of spice and pepper, preferably with a smooth velvety mouth feel to them. Wines for BBQ should support the succulence of the meat and not be overwhelmed by the sweetness of the sauce.

So, if you’re looking for the good wine to complement that juicy steak or smoky grilled chicken, I believe these wines will match up well for any and every barbecue!

Recommendations made by Master Sommelier Michael Jordan’s of the Napa Rose Restaurant at The Grand Californian Hotel at Downtown Disney
I had a 5 course wine paired menu there once, it was amazing!

Ribeye SteaksMerlotFor this rich, flavorful steak, the softer tones of Merlot balance the richness of the Ribeye. Personally I like the NY Strip with a Napa 2004 Cabernet.

Filet Mignon Shiraz / SyrahFilet is a soft, delicate cut of beef and Shiraz has body and a full flavor that enhances and deepens the taste of the Filet.

Veal: Pinot Noir this is a lighter red wine, but its intense fruit flavors stand up well and enhance the subtlety of the veal. My choice is nice 100% Cab Franc!

Lamb ChopsMeritage Meritages has finesse, suppleness, and complexity - a perfect match for a full-flavored meat like lamb. Personally, I like to pair an Willamette Pinot with Lamb, but that's me.
SalmonChardonnay or Pinot Noir Chardonnays vary from light to heavy with peach and apple tones that complement salmon. Pinot is a red soft enough to pair with fish.

ChickenFrench White BurgundiesWhite Burgundies are crisp and lean, yet smooth and fruity - perfect for chicken.

Lobster Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio Champagne, the perfect compliment to lobster…Need I say more!Both Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are light, fruity and crisp, and complement the lobster's buttery texture. Even a good Prosecco!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Wine Snob Scandal

I just stumbled on this article and I could not believe what I was reading, but apparently it is true. Are ya ready for this? A lot of what wine connoisseurs say about wine is humbug! (Pretentious or silly talk or writing) I thought for sure they could tell the difference between a Cabernet and a Chardonnay. 

Just a little dye in the glass is enough to fool their palate, I would never have thought it possible? But there it is in this doctoral dissertation, which ran the tests on three different methods with the same wines and yet the same results and conclusion which is, "Drinkers have long suspected it, but now French researchers have finally proved it," burbled the London Times' Adam Sage from Paris; "wine 'experts' know no more than the rest of us." Check out the article in the Seattle Weekly and here is link to read the sad and disappointing news. Cheers everyone!Do Wine Experts really know more us?  Looks lieBad case of Craniuminrectum! ;-)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Alsace Uncorked: Schoffit Chasselas, Vieille Vignes

 "It is only the souls that do not love that go empty in this world." Robert Hugh Benson

Ever pick up a bottle of French wine and wonder what varietal it is? This was the case for me when I picked a bottle of Schoffit, Chassselas, and Vieilles Vignes 2005. Being quite comfortable with the producer Schoffit. 

I decided to give this bottle a-go. I really did not know what to expect of this varietal. Since I've drank much of their Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer, so I was at the very least confident, I would not be disappointed.

Chasselas, my first go around with this grape. I readily admit I had to Google the name of this varietal. But in the course of my research, I knew that the chosen pairing should work-out just fine. According to article I found, the Chasselas grape can produce serious stunning wines, although it is often sold as a mere table grape. 

But this was no ordinary table grape it was Vielles Vignes (btw, I had to look up this French phrase), which means old vines. It is thought that older vines produce a more serious wine.

This wine has aromas of ripe apple and pear, the palate is medium with a gentle finish. It paired ever so nicely with the barbeque chicken marinade. Because this marinade called for a little spice, I thought this wine would go perfectly (and it did). On the side I served seasoned and broiled (makes them crunchy) red potatoes and a few skewers of sumptuous summer veggies.

My rating for this pairing!
1 cup soy sauce
1 table spoon dark chili powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cooking sherry
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

In a medium bowl, mix soy sauce, vegetable oil, sherry, brown sugar, and garlic and dark chili powder. Pour into a large resealable bag. Place chicken in the bag, and shake to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours.

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil grate.Place chicken on the prepared grill. Cook 6 to 8 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink and juices run clear, Bon Appétit! (BTW, I found this recipe online)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cult Watch!

Cult Watch!

I not sure how many of you are into cult wines? But there is a new list out and I am not sure if you have seen it, but I thought it may be fun to discuss here. For my part I guess I've slipped a couple of so called "cult wines" into my cellar. I purchase Sea Smoke and Kosta Browne each year, but I don't really consider them a cult wine. But if you want to buy them at a reasonable price you have to be on a waiting list, and then wait and wait and then finally you are given an allocation. This has become true for many wines who through the scoreing system of certain publications have risen to cult status. So I wanted to post the Top 10 to be on the lookout for and get your reactions. I would interested to know if any of you purchase these wines, have them in your cellars waiting for the right day or you don't why those who made the lists are there in the first place. So check it out and get back to me. Thanks!

These 10 wineries all have dedicated followings and the right combination of factors to catapult to cult status. Keep an eye out for them in the coming year.

Buccella; (707) 944-1000
After befriending noted winemaker Mark Herold and working a harvest at Behrens & Hitchcock on Spring Mountain, landscape company owner Bill Deem and his wife, Alicia, came west from the Philadelphia area and courted Herold to help build their label. The Cabernet comes from a mix of sites, while the tiny run of Merlot (about 300 cases) hails from Larry Hyde's Carneros vineyard. The latest 2005 release is priced at $100 for mailing-list members, up $20 in three years. Scores have been promising, with much momentum from word of mouth, especially from buyers familiar with Herold's work. Though Herold has apparently stepped back from his role there, Deem seems determined to modestly grow his label.

DR Stephens; (707) 963-2908
San Francisco real estate investor Don Stephens and his wife, Trish, turned a property outside St. Helena into a 9-acre vineyard site, managed by noted vineyardist Jim Barbour. Despite a mailing-list-only approach, scores haven't quite hit the level that ignites full cult momentum. But with Celia Welch Masyczek making the wines - and especially with her success at Scarecrow - the Stephens' property is due to get more attention. It's a similar story with Rocca Family Vineyards, another Masyczek project.

Futo; (707) 944-9333
This Oakville property - the former Oakford vineyard, near Harlan - was bought by Wichita, Kan., brothers Tom and Kyle Futo. Twelve acres of vines are overseen by Mark Aubert, plus vineyard guru David Abreu. You know the drill: a single-estate Cabernet, made in extremely limited amounts - well under 1,000 cases - priced ambitiously and sold by mailing list (along with a second wine, OV). Auction prices are already climbing, and within another year its cult status will likely be cemented.

Ghost Block; (707) 945-1213
From the organic Rock Cairn vineyard in Oakville comes this wine made at the Napa Wine Co. custom crush facility by winemaker Rob Lawson. The names come from the plot's location next to the Pioneer Cemetery, burial site of some of the valley's early settlers. After the 2004 vintage sold out in a flash, expectations are high for the 2005 release, which costs just $55. Deal-hunters are watching to see if a Parker score seals its potential in Cultland.
Jonata; (805) 564-8581
Screaming Eagle's Central Coast sister. The wineries share the same owners, Charles Banks and Stan Kroenke, and the same marketing manager, Ursula Hermacinski. Matt Dees (formerly of Staglin Family Vineyard) is winemaker, with a helping hand from Screaming Eagle's Andy Erickson and consultant Michel Rolland. With access to the Eagle's mailing list, Jonata has hoped to tap into its bulletproof popularity. Several factors left would-be buyers hesitant: ambitious pricing (up to $125 per bottle); a decision to make blended wines (Syrah and Sangiovese play roles along with Cabernet); and the prestige gap between Napa and Santa Ynez valleys. The wise money says Jonata will find its niche; its rise just may take time.

Keefer Ranch; (707) 829-5950
The owners of this Green Valley site have long provided fruit for stellar Pinot Noirs from Failla, Kosta Browne and others. A debut 2006 vintage of their own wine is now out, made by Ed Kurtzman, winemaker for Sandler, August West and Freeman. It's a primo matchup of Pinot terroir and talent.

Leviathan No contact info
If winemaker Andy Erickson is normally low key, he's almost mum about this blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. But for his devotees, it's a chance to access the Screaming Eagle winemaker's talents for under $50 - far less than most of his projects, which also include Hartwell Vineyards and Arietta. Fans also seek out wines from Favia (, which features the joint talents of Erickson and his wife, Annie Favia, one of Napa Valley's top viticulturists.

Levy & McClellan; (707) 963-1282 (fax)
This Diamond Mountain effort from superstar wine couple Bob Levy (Harlan Estate) and Martha McClellan (Sloan, Blankiet) should sell itself. But aggressive pricing ($350 for the inaugural 2004 vintage, according to the Wine Advocate; Wally's in Los Angeles currently lists it at $750) leaves open the question of whether fans will pay for the privilege of a newly minted label.

Salinia Wine Co.
After earning his stripes in Burgundy and as the winemaker at Copain's custom crush facility, Kevin Kelley and his wife, Jennifer, created their own tiny Santa Rosa label, producing less than 300 cases of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, harnessing cool-site vineyards near the town of Occidental. They reward lovers of a leaner, less muscular style of Pinot - if you can find them. The tiny production makes them virtually impossible to locate.

Tor Kenward Family Wines; (707) 963-3100
After nearly 30 years at Beringer, Tor Kenward's retirement project was this small St. Helena winery, where he and winemaker Jeff Ames produce lots of Cabernet, Chardonnay and a bit of Syrah. The wines have been well received since the early 2000s, but the 2005 addition of a Cab from Andy Beckstoffer's To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville was a big catalyst. The '05 scored 96 points from Robert Parker, and the '06 has a preliminary 96-100 rating, raising the specter of a new perfect-scoring label.

For the full story by Jon Bonné, Chronicle Wine Editor in the SF Chronicle, here's the link.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Wine drinking improves liver health!

Daily Wine Drinking Improves Liver Health

I knew it, I knew it! Science has finally come to our rescue and has validated my daily wine consumption! Seriously, folks good news from San Diego of all places! According to an article in Wine Spectator online, "San Diego researchers find that a glass a day protects against liver disease" they go on to say in the article that wine drinkers specifically have and I quote here,

"When the UC San Diego researchers then compared the different beverage drinkers to each other, they found that beer and spirits drinkers were four times more likely to develop the disease when compared to wine drinkers" We rock!

So in other words, put down those damn Martinis and put away that case of Bud! Wine is the way to go! Wine drinkers have a better chance of beating liver disease than those who drink other types of adult beverages! So wine is good for your heart and now your liver! How can you lose? I mean really? Okay here is the link to WS article,1197,4437,00.html?CMP=OTC-RSS check it out for yourself! Lift your glass to better health and you can forget the pallet of livers waiting for transplant!

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