Wednesday, December 07, 2005



The Governor is expected to sign the State House Bill allowing out-of-state wineries to ship direct to Michigan residents, but still must distribute their wines through wholesalers if they want to sell to retail and restaurants. In-state wineries can sell direct. This is discriminatory and could cause the bill to be overturned as unconstitutional but someone (Costco) would have to litigate.

I see this scenario as a very good possibilty for Ohio. Consumers win, in-state wineries win, small out-of-state wineries win, wholesalers win, and retailers and restaurants are stuck with the status quo. On the other hand I am not sure I would want a big box like Costco rolling in and driving all the small wine shops out of business.

Also, go to my New Blog for Wine Blog Wednesday #16. I am adding new posts to this one until the Google spiders and Wine Blog Watch find the new one!

Saturday, December 03, 2005


All new posts are on the New Blog at Pardon my dust as I clean up and transfer my web identity over to the New web addresses. Photo credit: John McColgan. Nice shot John, now get the hell out of there!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Boys Night Out

This is my idea of going out with the boys for an evening of food, drinks and male bonding. Start off with a little private wine blind tasting at you favorite French/Vietnamese restaurant. Brown bag the wines and try to multiple guess which wine is which from the list of six. Six varietals, six regions. I know a complete blind (without any hints) is better education but sometimes it's better to at least have an idea what you're tasting. And it should cut down on looking like a complete fool in front of your friends. The line up:

  • 2002 Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley – A negociant producer who has “found” some declassified California “cult” juice that normally retails for more than $100 if you can get on the list. I could tell you where he gets his wine, but then I would have to kill you! Fermented in stainless steel, aged in small French barrels (90% new) for 22 months. 84% Cab, 5% Petit Verdot, 5% Cab Franc, 4% Merlot, 2% Malbec.
  • 2002 Robert Pecota Winery Syrah – Monterey County – Family-run estate winery near Mt. St. Helena. Robert has been in the business since 1974 when he acquired 40 acres in the north end of Napa Valley. The Syrah is made from fruit harvested from a single vineyard block in Arroyo Seco. 1400 cases produced, fermented in stainless steel, aged in medium toast French Nevers oak.
  • 2002 Chehalem Ridgecrest Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, Oregon – A good wine from a very good producer from one of the better years from one of the best Pinot regions in the world! Ridgecrest is Chehalem’s oldest estate vineyard. Aged 10 months without racking in 28% new oak, 58% new or one year French oak.
  • 2002 Altos de Luzon Jumilla – Spain – A blend of high-elevation Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo (50/25/25) from low-yield vines, aged 12 months in French and American barrels.
  • 2001 Altos Las Hormigas Reserve Malbec – Mendoza, Argentina – Another high-elevation wine from 80 year-old vineyards, aged in small French barrels where it undergoes malolactic fermentation, and then matures for up to 18 months.
  • 2002 Ca’Marcanda Estate, Promis – Toscana, Italy – Distributed under the Gaja name. 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah, 10% Sangiovese. Aged 18 months in new and slightly used barriques, followed by several months of bottle aging.

The results. Most of the crew did very well. My plan was the elimination approach. I hoped to nail the Pinot and the Cab first, then tried to find the Jumilla. For the Toscana I looked for elegance and for the Syrah, big teeth staining fruit with a warm nose. The last one standing should be the Malbec. Well I got the first 4 right and then got tripped up on the Gaja and the Malbec. The Malbec was off and the Gaja wasn't smooth or elegant as I had expected. The crowd favorite was the Altos de Luzon Jumilla.

All and all it was a fun evening, but I went home early and am not sure what the others did.

But remember, what happens in Oakley, stays in Oakley!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

2004 Moris, Morellino di Scansano

2004 Moris, Morellino di Scansano, Vendemmia ($15) -- Italy; imported by Vanguard Wines. Earthy aromas, full fruit flavors, good tannic structure and medium finish. Another good food wine. 90% Sangiovese. I found this wine on a foray into another wine store. A very good choice! From the website:

"Vinified in stainless steel tanks with temperature control, pumped over twice a day during the period of maceration which proceeded for 15 days. The wine was placed into bottle after 4 months without spending any time in wood, then remained an additional 2 months in bottle prior to being released onto the market."

I would have not guessed that it was not aged in wood. But I did not (do not) like plastic plugs as a closure. Get a screwcap or go with real cork.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

California Chianti

2003 Tutti I Giorni, Nutz! ($10) -- Red Wine California from the Shennadohah Valley of Amador County near the Sierra Foothills. Pale color, big earthy/smoke nose, full fruit flavors with good acidity for food pairings. A great $10 pizza/mid-week wine!

From the website:

Our Nutz! is a light, fruity Sangiovese-based blend, bottled under the label “Tutti i Giorni,” meaning “everyday” in Italian. It's a playful, everyday quaffing wine - perfect for “tutti i giorni.”

Drink now and finish the bottle as it seemed to lose its character the next day.

You are going to have to write the owners to get any info on the "dog"!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Christmas at Park City

No, this is not a picture of me skiing today but a shot at Park City where we will be going this Christmas for a few days with friends, sisters and cousins. We are hoping for massive amounts of snow between now and then. Also, I have about three weeks to deliberate on which skis and what wine to bring. Any ideas?

The skis are legal but I am not sure about the wine. Might have to be a bootlegger again. I have been told that Utah restaurants will not serve a BYOB bottle if it doesn't have the State Tax Stamp on it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

French Malbec

2001 Clos La Coutale, Cahors ($12) -- Cahors Table Wine by V. Bernede et Fils; Imported by Kermit Lynch; mis en bouteille a la propriete. France, of course! No notes on the back label. Google search tells me it is 70% Malbec, 15% Merlot and 15% Tannat (never heard of that one).

Earthy aromas, full fruit flavors, short to medium finish with good acidity for food. I enjoyed this wine very much as an everyday drinker and as a warm-up to the 2003 Waterstone and the grilled venison flank steaks that Larz procurred/shot in Maine. Nothing is better than grilling out on a cold 30 degree night with snow and ice and the bright stars. Makes me think I am camping out, except after the bottle of wine and a great meal, I get to go to bed in a warm soft bed. I hate sleeping on the ground.

Gen X Wine Tasting

This is no way to have a wine tasting! What, 700 people blind tasting about 500 brown-bagged wines. It was chaotic. People bumping into each other trying to get a few drops, talking with each other trying to figure which one they liked best, and least. After two plus hours all the wine was gone and most in attendence didn't seem to know or care what wine won.

Am I missing something here? Seven hundred 25 to 35 year-olds and a few old guys (wine experts) crawling over the tables having fun and talking about wine.

Here are the rules:

Each invitee, or team of up to 3, must bring 3 bottles of THE SAME WINE (the varietal -- i.e., cabernet, shiraz, pinot noir, etc. -- will be announced soon). For example, if the varietal were merlot, you or your team could bring 3 bottles of the 2001 Hess Merlot. Remember, it's 3 bottles total per team.

Upon arrival, all 3 bottles will be given to the Hosts, who will wrap 2 of the bottles to conceal the wine's identity. The 2 wrapped bottles will have a number randomly assigned to them and will then be set out for tasting. The third bottle will be left unopened and will not be tasted or displayed.

Each invitee will be given a card with a number for each wine. The wines will be rated on a taste scale of 1 to 5. At the end of the tasting period, each invitee must write down the number of his or her favorite wine and least favorite wine. Cards will be collected and selections tallied.

The invitees that brought the top 5 favorite wines will take home everyone's third unopened bottle of wine. The invitee that brought the least favorite bottle of wine will take back his or her unopened bottle of wine.

Are we missing something here?

Check out the photos of the last event (Pinot at the Phoenix in October). The bewildered old guys properly holding their stemware look very familar!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Damn It's Cold Here

But that means it's time to drag out the skis and try to find the long underwear because ski season has started here. It is the earliest day that Perfect North has opened. Of course it will probably rain this weekend and then go to 60 degrees next week for some late Fall golf, but this Saturday I will be skiing in Indiana with the cows!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Turkey Day Wines

I guess it is required that I offer some wine ideas to go with the turkey, yams, cranberry, ham, pumpkin pie, stuffing, beans, etc that we are about to indulge in this Thursday. The best solution is to offer many wines given the variety of food offerings, although someone suggested that Champagne would be a good overall choice as this is a celebration. I would also offer Rose of any varietal, Sparkling Shiraz, Gruner Veltliner, White Burgundy, Pinot Noir and/or Burgundy, Grenache, Chianti and let's not forget the dessert wines. I think a Vintage Madeira would be the perfect end to a monstrous meal with all your in-laws as you recline on the sofa watching non-stop football!

Photo credit:

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Erie Avenue Blind Tasting

This month we sampled 7 Spanish Riojas at Pho Paris with a new format. Instead of ranking the wines according to a group vote 1 to 8, we sampled and commented and arrived at some consensus on the best of the bunch. To cleanse the palate we started with a 2003 Figini Gavi and a 2004 Huber Gruner Veltliner.

Here is the line up:

  • 2000 Finca Allende -- which was a bit muted and tight.
  • 1999 Coto de Imaz -- Had a moderate nose and then muted flavors and a short finish.
  • 2000 Marquis de Vitoria -- Muted nose, soft fruit flavors and medium finish. Was well regarded.
  • 1997 San Vicente -- Big sweet oak nose, big flavors that evolved over time with tannins and structure, medium to long finish. This seemed to be the favorite and was actually the second bottle served as the first had a cork malfunction. When the first bottle was decanted without the cork bits, it was passed around the table and quickly consumed.
  • 2001 Finca Allende -- Much bigger with tons of fruit compared to the 2000. Almost California Cab like. A popular choice.
  • 1999 Lan Crianza -- Not much nose, too much tannin.
  • 2000 Lanzaga -- Sweet oaky nose, not big-bodied, medium finish. Well liked.

The final wine was presented by Jeff to see if we could guess the region and varietal. I went down the path of Italy, either an aged Barolo or a new Super Tuscan. Not even close! California Sonoma Merlot from Matanzas Creek Winery. I didn't note the vintage but I believe it was 2002. A few in the group got pretty close with New World or California Merlot. Thanks to everyone and to Jeff for the appetizers and the Wine Challenge. Next month we will get together on the 19th and the topic is Champagne.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

2001 Wellington Victory

2001 Wellington Vineyards, Sonoma County Reserve "Victory" ($33) -- 55% Cabernet/45% Merlot blend. I just grabbed this from the local distributor while picking up 3 cases of wine for today's tasting. He said he and others think it's Wellington best wine yet. Tannins are hidden but support a very well balanced wine. Medium aromas of fruit up front, then a smooth complex fruit flavor with a long finish. Good acidity for foods. Should age well but is drinking just fine now. Here are the tasting notes from the website:

"The 2001 Victory consists of 45% Estate Merlot, 37% Hulen Vineyard Cabernet and 18% Mohrhardt Ridge Cabernet. Aromas of black cherry, cassis, allspice, truffle, vanilla, raspberry, cedar. Hints of tea, licorice, brown sugar, orange peel, camphor – something new with each sniff. In the mouth: smooth, supple entry, rich but never heavy, seamless transition to a firm yet not harsh finish that promises great things to come. Drink now only if you can’t resist. Cellaring will be duly rewarded."

Couldn't find any production notes so I can't tell you more about how much wood and what type or length of aging, but I did enjoy this bottle.

Honest Tasting Notes

This has to be the most honest tasting notes I have seen from a winery about one of their wines. Imagine if all wineries told it like it is!

The Duke, Red Table Wine, Sonoma County $5

"Wine composition: 58% Merlot, 24% Cabernet sauvignon, 18% Zinfandel This is a blend of big, chewy Merlot press wine, Cabernet with a bit too much minty eucalyptus flavor, and an elegant, lighter Zinfandel that didn’t have quite enough punch. The end result (and yes, we did trial blends to put this wine together) is a big, flavorful wine with good richness and length but lacking somewhat in smoothness and finesse when compared to our other wines.The Duke pairs excellently with holiday feast leftovers, but should also do well with burgers, spaghetti, pizza – for those times when a more expensive bottle might not be the best choice. You've heard of two buck chuck well meet five dollar bill. Cheers! "

Makes me want to go out and buy a case just to say thank you for telling it like it is!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bengal Fever

I am a fan, but can't say I have been one of the faithful during the long fallow period since, what 1988. I once visited Toronto a few years ago, and when I checked into the hotel and the bellman dumped the bags in the room he tried to make some small talk to help bolster his tip.

"Where you guys from?"

"Cincinnati", I replied.

"Oh", he said shaking his head. "Pretty sad about those Bengals, eh?"

Well, I do believe in the team and their recent success, and I have two tickets to this Sunday's game. My friend and I plan to sell the tickets for $500 each, prop our feet up at Tellers with a few TVs and order a really good bottle of wine!

Let me know if you are looking for tickets on the 50 yard line, 14th row.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Easy Come Easy Go!

I was wondering (er, I mean wandering!) in cyber space and found an old house I used to own. I guess I lost it in a card game.

"His brother, Erik, married to Susanne Juel and father to the well-known Anna Margrethe Quitzow, managed the estate until 1683 when her cousin Jens Rosenkrantz, born 1641 assumed ownership. He called the estate Roseneje. In earlier years, he had been in diplomatic service and chamberlain at the court of Queen Charlotte Amalie. Thereafter he was High Court judge on Fyen and prefect over Viborg county. He was a scholar of high standing and accumulated a large book collection at Roseneje which unfortunately was sold and dispersed after his death in 1695. His widow, Beate Sehested inherited the estate but she died already in 1696. Jörgen, the son of Jens Rosenkrantz was 18 years old when he took over the estate in 1696. The year after, he married the beautiful Marie Elisabeth de Roklenge, born 1675. She was a daughter of Major Jacob de Roklenge and Anna von Sudermann. Jörgen and Marie had 12 children together and she died in 1715. All their children were christened in the Norup church which belonged to the estate. Due to Jörgen's financial difficulties, Roseneje was put up for sale at an auction in 1st of October 1718."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Hot Dallas Wine Deals

In Cincinnati the wine retailers might snipe at each other, but I believe they are all honorable and fair in their dealings with the public. As to pricing, there is a state minimum which we must charge and some stores might add a buck or two, but it is a very competitive market so Tony's Wine Warehouse, as recently reported in the Dallas Observer, would go down in flames very quickly here in Cincinnati. It is too small a town and the wine industry would ride him out of town. Sounds like the Dallas Observer has started in on Tony. It will be interesting to see how long he can stay open with the heat of this spotlight.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me!

I started blogging a year ago today. 200 posts later I am still here. Not sure about the near future concerning the "name thing", but I'm not going anywhere and everyone will be able to find me no matter what I am called. The Cincinnati Wine Garage will live on!

Blogging has been great fun and I look forward to reviewing more wines and poking fun at life's absurdities, and a few idiots.

Cheers, Clinkies, Bon Appetite, Bonzai,


Monday, November 07, 2005

Box Wines

By happenstance I have recently tasted a few box wines as I think the packaging does make sense for certain parties and on-the-go functions. In the past the box wines have suffered (along with those who consumed the product) from having crappy, cheap wine in them. I think that is changing in the U.S. Although I will always prefer a better bottle of wine to a box, it has its place. It is perfect for grabbing a glass while I wait for my date to get dressed, and wait (and wait!) when I don't want to open a new bottle. It would be great for those who only drink an occassional glass now and then (that's not me). And it would be great for tailgating or a picnic. Further, it is claimed that the wines will last for weeks or a month or more after opening. I am currently testing this notion at the shop. But first, the wine must be drinkable. Let's hope that Fred Franzia at Bronco Wines doesn't get wind of this.

2003 Cuvee de Pena ($22) -- I have reviewed this wine previously. It is a Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvedre blend from the South West corner of France near Spain by Chateau de Pena. (Hopefully the rioters have enough sense to leave this little gem alone!) After being opened for two weeks, so far so good. This is my favorite boxed red wine so far.

Black Box Monterey County Chardonnay ($24) -- California. Fruit aromas, clean, crisp fruits similar to a California Sauvignon Blanc. I would guess not much wood. If you like your Chards unwooded with little butter, you will like this. I couldn't find a vintage date, but there is a "born on" date of March, 2005.

I will add to this post as I review more boxes. Remember the spigot is always open here!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

2005 California Harvest

The San Francisco Chronicle article by W. Blake Gray suggests that the 2005 harvest, the 2nd largest in state history may also shape up to be tops in quality too. "For California wines, 2005 could be the stuff of legend."

A big harvest of great quality means that for the buyers of $10 and $20 bottles produced by negociants there will be tons of good juice trickling down to the value segment of the market. Can't wait!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Cease and Desist

This must be the week that trademark attorneys are out scouting the internet for trademark infringements. First Tom at "Fermentation" has to drop his S. Now, it seems that a small retail shop in Calistoga is bothered by my use of the name Cincinnati Wine Garage here at my little retail shop in the eastern suburbs of Cincinnati. Just got served with a cease and desist letter due to the charge that I have misappropriated the name and am causing irreparable damages to same plus attorney fees. Nothing against attorneys, some of my best friends are attorneys, even my ex-wife (I will leave that one alone!), but I hate paying attorneys.

Maybe I am small minded due to living in the Midwest but I am dumbfounded about this. I can't say I have seen too many Californians coming to the store, or calling me or emailing for their wine orders. I heard Californians were much smarter than that. Hell, I went to school there. And isn't all the good wine in California anyway so there is no need for them to call me to buy wine.

My question to the blogging community is, are you confused by my store, Cincinnati Wine Garage, versus the Wine Garage in Calistoga which I hear has a fine selection of hand-picked wines that Todd has sourced in his travels to the small wineries in California. In fact if you live out there I would suggest, demand, that you go there. Don't bother me in Cincinnati with small orders of micro-production wines. We only sell Kendall Jackson here, not that there is anything wrong with that.