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Showing posts from 2009

The 2005 Le Cigare Volant: The Flying Saucer

Today's review will revolve around the wonderful if somewhat eclectic Bonny Doon Vineyard found in the wonderfully beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains AVA in northern California, just a little south of Napa and Sonoma. While I had a chance to visit this area first hand in 2007, my opportunity to visit Bonny Doon slipped from our (that's my wife and I) itinerary and I missed seeing the vineyards for myself. That said, Mr. Randall Grahm was gracious enough to send me a couple samples to peruse at my leisure, with an invitation to visit next time I'm in the area.

Many folks have a quizzical look upon their face when I talk about the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, first they are thinking where the bleep is that and second what is a AVA? Now no one has ever had the courage to ask me, "what are you, some kind of cork-dork" ? I would answer with an enthusiastic nod of agreement and say, "well you could go even further and characterize me as a wine geek, guilty as charged.&qu…

Calling all Zinners, the Leonesse 2006 Vineyard Selection Galway Vineyard Zinfandel

Since the first time I encountered this wine back in February of this year I've imbibed on this wonderful at least three or four times since then and it is just perfect every time, without fail. No decanting necessary, just pour and enjoy.

In speaking to my wife about this wine over dinner, I explained that this was perhaps in my estimation this Zinfandel is the most Zin-tastic one that I've encountered this year. Now before you dismiss that statement, consider how much Zinfandel that has passed over this palate and into my gullet and many others which I've swirled, sniffed, and sipped. I've tasted many, many Zinfandel's over the years from some of the "best" producers from the likes of Lodi, Dry Creek Valley and Sonoma. So with that said I hereby pronounce that this is the very "best"Zinfandel of the year!

This Zinfandel is from the wonderful folks at Leonesse Cellarsin the Temecula Valley or as the name Leonesse means the"Village of Dreams&…

The Foodie Guide to Pairing Wine & Cheese

Whether you are hosting a soiree or a casual get-together this holiday, your mission is to provide your guests with warm hospitality, lively conversation and a delectable spread of food and drink. Whether the menu is complicated or simple it better be delicious. Serving a sumptuous gourmet cheese course is perfect as a starter or centerpiece of the meal. Not only is the preparation simple (no cooking!) but more importantly, your guests will enjoy discovering and savoring new favorites. As a wine lover and as a host you want to impress with the right pairings but the overwhelming selections of wine and cheese can make your head spin. Relax. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing the right combinations of cheese and wine. Just keep in mind a few simple considerations.

A cheese course is about observing and enjoying contrasting and complementary flavors. For a fool-proof gourmet cheese course, select 3 – 5 cheeses that vary in texture and flavor. Add some crusty bread,…

Rhone Ranger, the 2007 Olson Ogden Unti Syrah

Some call it Shiraz and others call it Syrah, but whatever you call it this is the Syrah you don't won't to miss out on! This is massive wine from the folks at Olson Ogden. if you are not familiar with Olson Ogden, this review represents a good opportunity to get acquainted.

Some times you wonder what's in a name, and in thinking about the label I wondered about how they came up with the name. In taking a peek at their website it appears Tim Olson has been a winemaker in Northern California for more than 21 years joined forces with John Ogden who manages the marketing, sales and business operations for Olson Ogden Wines and together they are Olson Ogden Wines.

Perhaps you are wondering what is their philosophy and approach to making wine? Well they state it this way; "Our primary goal is to produce balanced, complex and tasty wines that express the terroir and vintage from which they come. In order to make the best wines, we believe it must start with the best ingredien…

A Taste of Tuscany: 2004 Brancaia Ilatraia

"Tell me what you drink, and I'll tell you who you are," he said, paraphrasing Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the famed French gastronome.
The romance of travel is very alluring, and a trip to Tuscany is at the top of most folk’s to-do list these days, it was for us. Who could blame us, it's the home of the romance language, is also home to some of the best food, art, and wines that have come together over many centuries, to wow even the most jaded of tourist. 
Every time I visit Italy; I come away with a new sense of awe and wonder about the people and the depth of their history which in many ways just reaches out to you, pulls you in. It’s that awe, which brings me to this story about one of my many trips to Tuscany. This adventure involved an excellent restaurant and a fantastic bottle of wine.

This story started at a small, but obviously, upscale restaurant located just on the outskirts of Castellini in Chianti. This place is a gem in a sea of sameness. The wine se…

Above the fog, Villa Hermosa 2005 Howell Mountain Cabernet

The beautiful and inspiring Howell Mountain Appellation located east of St. Helena in California's wonderful wine-making mecca called Napa Valley, is a wonderful place which is producing some fantastic Mountain fruit and the resulting 100% Cabernet Sauvignons are fantastic.

I've been to a few of the tastings at the marvelously appointed Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, where if you haven't been before it's a must for every adventurous oenophile on the days they have their tastings in the museum, not only can you taste some of the very best Cabernet Sauvignon being made in Napa, but as a bonus you can see one of best collection of vintage cars and some which were used in iconic movies. A two for one kind of event, now that's what I'm talking about.

While never having directly visited the wineries of this AVA myself, I've taken the time to learn that just above the fog in Napa Valley lies some of the best vineyards in Napa, one taste and you too wil…

The 2007 River of Skulls, a WBC 09 Highlight!

While the review of the2007 Calaveras County River of Skullshas been long over-due (I wrote these notes a little over 3 months ago), the timing of releasing this review could not be better. As we approach the forth coming Halloween weekend here in the states, what better wine to bring to the party than Twisted Oaks, River of Skulls. The fearsome skull face painted on the front the bottle is a warning to those who consume this wine, that they could become addicted to the allure of the wonderful aromas and flavors, waiting to be uncorked. This is one addiction I must admit I would be proud to have.

I first ran into Twisted Oak wines on a very hot in Calveras County, just a day before the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference, there owner Jeff Stai, "El Jefe" was nice enough to give our group a tour of their immaculate wine-making facilities and the wine cave he had built into the side of a nearby hill. There we had a chance to sample many of their wines straight from the barrel. There …

A Super Tuscan without a Super Price: Salvestrin Retaggio 2006

The Salvestrin Wineryis what I would call a relatively new wine making venture on the vino horizon starting out in 1994 in historic St. Helena vineyards of Napa. But there is one thing which is not new for Salvestrin; producinggrapes of distinctionis nothing newand with having sold grapes to the likes of Freemark Abbey, Raymond, Rombauer, Robert Biale and Rutherford Hill, all who made award winning wines from Salvestrin fruit.You can see why they wanted to start their own label.

So now it was their turn, but building and maintaining a new label can be very difficult if not impossible, especially in the overcrowded and noisy Napa Valley. So with Rich Salvestrin having completed his degree in viticulture from Fresno State University in 1987 he decided to return to the family vineyard to help farm. But he also wanted to help expand the families grape growing business to include winemaking. So with the 1994 inaugural vintage of Salvestrin Cabernet Sauvignon they embarked on a new journey …

The Inaugural Release of the Cruz Andina Malbec 2006

Hey Malbec Fans I want to introduce you to the Cruz Andina 2006 Malbec. While this wine may be the new kid on the block, the vineyard where these grapes were sourced from comes from vines planted in 1948 well before I was born, so some sixty years old. This is their inaugural release of Cruz Andina, it is a project of Augustin Huneeus, who produces other QPR styled wines under the Veramonte label, wonderful wines from Chile and on the other end of the spectrum high-quality Napa Cabernet from Quintessa, in Napa Valley. Which I had a chance to visit this past summer at the Grand Tasting Event during the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference. If you find yourself in Napa, Quintessa is a great place to stop, highly recommended!

While this may make them the new kids on the block in terms of producing Malbec from what has become the iconic home of Malbec, the Pulenta Family has been making wine in Mendoza, Argentina for generations and it's here that Agustin Huneeus had his interest fueled and r…

Orin Swift’s Proprietary Blend The Prisoner, the stuff of Legend

Geez the stuff of legend? Really, you may have been asking yourself as you're reading this review. But according to many that is exactly is what this wine represents. Frankly, this is the first time I have ever been able to try this wine for myself and boy right out of the bottle, no decanting needed this wine is a game changer.

I have read about it many times and have always wanted to try, but no samples were fourth coming to this humble little wine reviewer from San Diego. I this purchased from the Wine Vault and Bistro here in San Diego, where I purchased the last two on the shelf for a about $32 each.

Now, you may have heard of this wine before or have seen it on the shelf yourself and wondered what is in the bottle as you won't find a description on the bottle, except one phrase "Red Wine", which is not very descriptive at all. I guess your just suppose to just know or pick up your cell and give them a call or look it up online.

With that said here's the 41…

Preview of Ivy Hotel's new Ultra Lounge and Wine Bar

Just a couple weeks ago I received an invitation to preview the new Ivy Ultra Lounge and Wine Bar located in the Ivy Hotel, which is one of San Diego's luxury hotels located in the heart of Downtown San Diego. Inside this 'new' wine bar you'll find row after row of Enomatic type machines made by Napa Technology where guests are able to explore 80 different world wide wines on the menu and at their leisure. There is no pressure, just grab yourself a glass and tell your server or bartender you'd like to purchase a Smartcard. This card which is very much like a pre-charged debit card allows you drop x-amount of dollars on the card and then you’re off to races. After your taste is poured directly into your glass, glance upward to the digital display and it will let you know your balance so there is no embarrassment when you try to pour yourself a taste and are informed that your request was denied. Oh, don't remove your glass to quickly as there is a small hiccup a…

Tuscany Uncorked: 2006 Gaja Ca' Marcanda Promis

It has been said, "A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world" - Louis Pasteur a statement of which I whole heartily concur. It's with that in mind, that I wanted to put this wine in the review spot-light.
The first time I had the pleasure of running into this little beauty, was while dining with my wife at this lovely little restaurant in the town of Castelleni in Chianti, SI.

I was going over the wine-list, stopped when I saw GAJA next to the description, because that was all the decision making I needed to make for our dinner plans 
that evening. If you're familiar with the name GAJA, often described as the Crown Prince of Italian wine, Angelo Gaja then you know why my decision was so easily made.
Angelo Gaja, owner and president of Gaja Wines Estate, he is a fourth-generation Piedmontese winemaker, who has said that; "Cabernet is to John Wayne, as Nebbiolo is to Marcello Mastroianni".  He's also internationally acknowle…