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

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays Everyone!

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead to where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Most Wine-derful Time of the Year!

Jazz is like wine. When it is new, it is only for the experts, but when it gets older, everybody wants it. -Steve Lacy

*The info-graphic above is provided courtesy of Beringer Vineyards

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wine of the Week: 2010 Tikal Patriota

“Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They’re hallmarks of a pretentious ass.” – David Ogilvy
That's good advice and part of the reason why you'll never see me using words like that to describe the great wines I find, wines that give the consumer [vino-sapiens like me] a real bang for the buck like the one above.
Now about this fantastic wine from Mendoza, a wine which I really enjoyed so much more than the 2009 vintage. But that said, this 2010 which you will find in good abundance [but dilly-dally] at places like Costco here in San Diego, selling for just under $17 is a terrific value. I scored this wine 90 points, this is that Tuesday wine you've been looking for, so get after it.
It's a delightful blend of Malbec and and 40% Bonarda. Right now you may be thinking uh, what the bleep is Bonarda, one thing for sure it's not a grape found in the common every day vernacular of the garden-variety vino-sapien. It's an Italian grape, that found a home in Argentina. If you like to read more about it, just click here.
This wine has a lot to offer, but is best uncorked the day before and left in the pantry overnight with the cork out [trust-me]. You find that this wine has some chalk [picture a couple old-school erasers being beaten together], it has some pretty hardy tannins and it does an earthy and black licorice thing, while at the same time slapping you along side the head with crates of ripe blueberry and blackberry pie character, full bodied and a lively finish.

So you want to do some pairing huh, okay I can make a recommendation in that department as well. You could go for things like barbecue ribs, elk-burger and fries or if you've come home late from work like I did the other day, still toting half a sandwich you didn't finish at lunch, then folks you are in luck, because that [turkey/bacon half sandwich] pairing rocked [full disclosure the sandwich pictured above is just a prop]. I also grabbed some of my famous left over chili, just enough for a small bowl and healthy handful of salt and pepper chips. So as you can see from this description, this wine is an easy wine pairing champ, the sky is the limit nearly. Until next folks remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Travel Tuesday: Youngberg Hill, Oregon

We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap in the dark to our success. - Henry David Thoreau

Wayne and Nicolette took a leap of faith when they purchased Youngberg Hill in 2003, overhauling the entire estate including vineyard management, winemaking, tasting room, and hospitality area. What they have discovered is wonderful success with their fantastic Wine Country Inn [Bed and Breakfast] and gorgeous wedding venue which is attached to a real working winery, which is producing some mighty fine Pinot Noir, just a short drive outside of the town of McMinnville in Oregon.

As many of you know I spent the better part of a long weekend visiting with the great folks at Youngberg Hill and other wonderful producers who call the Oregon Wine Country home. Mrs. Cuvee and I were guests of Youngberg Hill and stayed in one the Inn's fantastic eight rooms. The views from the 2nd floor rooms are quite stunning [see picture below]. Each morning you awake with nearly a full panoramic view of the vineyards, the road leading up to the house and on a clear day you see for miles and miles. Be sure to say hi to their very friendly [out-door] cat Truffle.

In tasting a good many of their Pinot Noir offerings, I encountered two very different styles, from two very distinctive terroirs. This comes from an estate vineyard, farmed organically [Salmon Safe Certified] and biodynamically, and legally in conversion to biodynamic certification. 

The wines hailing from the Natasha’s Block which consists of 6.6 estate acres with a southeast facing; I found the nose brimming with notes of rich earth, oak, cut-black tea and not fully ripe cherry. Finely integrated acidity makes way for tastes of dark cherry and plums, which are easily enveloped in oak and savory herbs, pushing fruit to the background. I found the finish long and caressing. 

Regarding the wines form their Jordan block, it’s a completely different experience. I would dare to say that if you have a California Pinot Noir palate, one which tends to favor wines with a broader, more approachable mouth-feel, than the Jordan Block wines are for you. The Jordan Block sits on four fog-kissed estate acres facing South East at a steeper slope than the Natasha and is described as a more Burgundian in style.

Frankly, I was all about the Jordan block, when I first sampled the 2008 Jordan, which sells for $40. My first thoughts was, alright here we go, this is what I’m talking about. The next wine which really grabbed my attention, was the 2008 Jordan Block Barrel Select, one which oddly is not on their website, but it sells for $65. I scored this wine 93 points.

But let there be no doubt, in my opinion this wine is worth every penny. It's a wine you could cellar for many years, but why would you when it’s drinking ever so nicely right now. I scored two of these wines for myself to take home. For those who are curious about the clones here you go; 60% Pommard and 40% Wadenswil on American Root Stock.

The 2008 Barrel Select has the rich and charming fruit and a plethora of bright cherry and cranberry [not tart] concentration; it was truly what I was expecting from this site, but not from this vintage. You’ll find more red fruited character over the darker fruits; the wine has a succulent texture and lovely finish. Honestly what's not to like?

After purchasing the wine the morning before my departure, from the assistant winemaker [Jess] and chef, he remarked about my apparent love of oak. Ha, I guess that fits 'guilty as charged' as some may say, but wait a minute not so fast there Chef. 

Let me be clear, I do love the judicious use of oak and I firmly believe the abuse of oak by some, should not lead to an automatic knee-jerk reaction of extremely limited oak interaction or even toast levels. Honestly folks, I think that deep down we all know it's about balance, too much of anything, tends not to be a good thing; whether it's in the the vineyard or the crush-pad, balance is everything.

About my experiences at the Inn, wow is the operative word. This fantastic place is quiet and cozy, perfect for those seeking to get away from it all. Once you arrive, you may find yourself greeted my mouth-watering glasses of Pinot Noir, you arrive to a comfy, well appointed room, with no TV. 

The shower warms up real fast, the Wi-Fi works amazingly well and you just 15 minutes from McMinnville, which has many tasty spots to eat. Whether you want a pub-like experience [McMenamins] or you want to dial it up a notch or two [Thistle] there’s something for everyone.

When it comes time for breakfast [9:00am], it’s just the right amount to get your day started and the custom roasted coffee will you happily and fully caffeinated in mere moments. The Inn you will find in located right in the thick of it all, makes a great jumping off point or as I like to call it base of operations for scouring the country-side for Pinot Noir to take back home.

By the way; if you end up like I did [and it’s not hard to do] with two full cases of wine, you can either have them shipped home $45 for basic ground or if you play it smart and chose to fly Southwest, where you can check those cases for little extra out of pocket. I purchased two case boxes in town [$24], but in truth they only hold nine bottles. If you want it to fit 12, it has to be the standard Bordeaux bottle to fit correctly and you will not find any Pinot Noir in that style of bottle.

If you’d like to stay with them, the off-season is a great time to do so, in fact it's snowing there at the moment. In the off-season the winemakers have much more time to speak with you, as well as the tasting room staff, as there are few other folks up during the very rainy time of year. Okay folks, I know it has been quite a while since my last post, but I hope you enjoyed today’s article and will give the wines from Youngberg Hill a swirl for yourself, until next time sip long and prosper cheers!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Napa Valley Uncorked: 2008 Franciscan Magnificat Meritage

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on! ~ Henry Ellis

This the first review written entirely via my iPhone, using the Blogger app I just down-loaded. So we shall see how it goes. In the spotlight for my wine of interest this time is the Franciscan 2008 Magnificat.

This wine was a sample sent for the review process. It has a SRP of $50, it sells at most places for just under $30, but the rumor of this wine selling under $20 is misleading at best. I scored this wine 90 points and can recommend it to you highly. Suave and sophisticated are the keywords here.

A Bordeaux [aka Meritage] style blend consisting of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and finally a few drops of Petit Verdot and Malbec. A wine aged for 20 months in 2nd use French oak barrels. This wine has boatloads of finesse and flavor, a hour in the decanter is recommended for maximum enjoyment.

The nose is crazy inviting, it just lures you in like a big-mouth bass on a spinner. Notes of dried herbs, vanilla, ripe plum and licorice are just a preview of the coming attractions. On the palate this wine is not shy about toasted oak and espresso but there is plenty of vibrant acidity to keep it all on balance. Sweet plum and fig join the chorus, with a few wise cracks from other dark fruits. The tannins are well integrated and nearly seamless and the finish while a bit dry sails on and on.

This wine is drinking very nicely now and will continue to do so over the next few years. I found it to be a very polished wine, with layers to it, only to be uncovered by decanting. Until next time folks remember sip long and prosper cheers!

Wine of the Week: 2008 Trione Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Life is too short not to make the best and the most of everything that comes your way everyday. -Sasha Azevedo

Life is also too short too drink bad wine, a point to which even the garden-variety vino-sapien would agree with. It's on this point, one of the reasons why I implore everyone I know and every reader who stops by this blog to catch up with the wines that make their way to my glass; to please stop going to the same well over and over [explore] and just say 'no' to mass produced chemistry set wines, commonly known as plonk.

Now that I've got my opening rant out of the way, it's time to put a wine in the spotlight that is a fantastic value, pound for pound, this Pinot Noir from the RRV is one I'm highly recommending that you run out grab a few. This was not a sample but a wine I procured recently from my local neighborhood Costco for just under $14. If you'd like you can read more of the details about this tasty example of what the RRV can offer in Pinot here.

It will need to be decanted,  [one hour] it's a bit shy and reticent about showing its ample goods, but once it's has time to relax and get to know you, then look out. Folks, this wine is just sitting in these stores, barely moving, but in my opinion it's quite a bargain for the thirsty vino-sapien. So please put down that bottle of La Crema PN [$19] this time and step up to a real-wine which really says, "you can taste where I am from" besides if you do you'll save a few bucks to boot.

Peeking back at the few notes I scribbled out after popping the cork just a few nights ago, I found the texture and mouth-feel of this wine quite impressive. It was rich and velvety and infused with typical Pinot Noir fruit flavors coming through each and every long slurp, but restrained finish told me this is no cocktail wine.

Once you pop the cork, nice bright clear crimson-red core; a fragrant bouquet slaps your nose with gently spicy berries and wet earth, these aromas easily make their way over to your palate. I scored this wine 88 solid points, it pairs ever so nicely with many poultry dishes, the sky is the limit. A wonderful Tuesday-night wine, you won't mind popping the cork and enjoying all evening. It will contiune to evolve and come alive, so until next time folks remember to sip long and prosper cheers!
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