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

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!

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