Monday, February 28, 2005

Weinert "Carrascal"

Bodega y Cavas de Weinert, Carrascal 2000 ($13) -- Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina. This is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with a light fruit nose and a balanced smooth dark fruit flavors with a good finish. Great with food although not overly complex. Tannins are there but well integrated.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Going South

I am off to the SoBe Wine Festival and other diversions in Miami. I will give a full report on my return. I heard there might be some food served also! I am told that last year 13,000 crowded into the massive white tent on the beach. If I had to be in close quarters at a wine tasting, I can think of no better place than on the beach. This from the website:

World-renowned chefs and internationally acclaimed vintners last year dazzled fest-goers as much with their delectable treats as with their cooking demonstrations, wine seminars and educational discussions. "Anyone who truly loves food, wine and spirits comes here," Festival Director Lee Brian Schrager says. "Whether they participate in the entire weekend or attend just a part of it, people understand that they will enjoy the highest quality of offerings and an opportunity to learn something as well, all in one of the most beautiful settings in the world, South Beach in the winter."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Direct Shipping & Distributors

I think this is a good view on the future of wine retail and distribution. (Click on the Title Line.) In particular, the following observation rings true although I would add that the retailer could order directly from the winery if it can do so economically by ordering in quantity:

"People are already buying all kinds of items over the Internet, such as clothing, office supplies, computers and consumer electronic equipment, but if they can buy wine online, they are likely to become bigger consumers, he said. They'll buy wine online, drink it, go to the supermarket or wine shop, ask for the wine they discovered on the Internet, and if it's not there, will ask the storekeeper to order it, and the retailer will get it from a wholesaler."

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Simi Chardonnay

Simi, Reserve Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2002 ($25) -- CA. Single Vineyard. Alluring aromas of butter and vanilla, with complex flavors of fruit, minerals and chalk. Very clean, smooth and good finish. One of the best under $30 Chardonnays I have had in a long time. Recently written up in a WSJ roundup of Chardonnays as a "Best Value". Don't serve too cold!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Erie Avenue Blind Tuesday Wine Night #1

Here are the results from the blind tasting at Cumin of eight 2001 California Cabs under $30. We had 7 judges which included wine trade people, a restaurateur and a few amateurs. Thanks to Yajan for donating the space but not the Bourbon at the end. We started the evening with a bottle of Duval-Leroy Rose de Saignee NV Brut ($38) to cleanse the palette. It is a beautiful Champagne Rose with soft bubbles, warm toast aromas and flavors. The wines were mostly unknown to the judges and opened two hours before the event. Each wine was ranked 1 to 8 and the individual scores were added together for a group score.

  1. Mt Veeder Winery, Napa Valley Cab ($30) -- 24 Points -- 4 ranked it #1 or #2, and only 1 ranked it #7. It is interesting that the 2000 Cab was picked first in a California blind taste at Weimax Wines (Great Site! This wine was marked down recently from $40.
  2. Terra Valentine, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District Cab ($30) -- 25 Points -- 4 ranked it #2, and only 1 ranked it #7. Only 1 point separated this wine from the Mt Veeder. This wine was also marked down recently.
  3. Lava Cap, El Dorado Cab ($23) -- 28 Points -- 3 ranked it #1 or #2, and 2 ranked it #8. One judge who is in the business was surprised at how well it did, as he "hates" this wine! Although tied on points with the Nichelini, I gave it a nod due to the 3 #1 and #2 scores.
  4. Nichelini Napa Valley Cab ($30) -- 28 Points -- 1 ranked it #1, and 2 ranked it #7.
  5. Hawley, Dry Creek Valley Cab ($30) -- 33 Points -- 1 ranked it #1, and 2 ranked it #7 or #8. Middle of the road, nothing special.
  6. Boeger, El Dorado Cab ($17) -- 36 Points -- no top 2 votes, and 1 #7. As the value contender this wine held up OK. I had it ranked #4.
  7. Simi, Alexander Valley, Landside Vineyard Cab ($30) -- 37 Points -- no top 2 votes, and 2 ranked it #7 or #8. Having purchased this bottle after a price reduction, I would have guessed it would show better due to the bottle presentation. That is the beauty of a blind taste!
  8. Foxen, Santa Barbara County Cab ($27) -- 41 Points -- 1 ranked it #1, and 3 ranked it #8. There was some agreement on the negative comments on this wine as being uni-dimensional with some unappealing flavors.

Overall, the scores were bunched closely together due to the low number of judges. Next month we will add about five more to get to twelve. Also, next month we plan to review Pinot Noir under $50 from any region which will offer many different styles to choose from.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Heitz Cellars Port

Heitz Cellars, Ink Grade Vineyard Port NV ($31) -- Napa Valley, CA. This is a blending of classic Portuguese varieties, including Touriga National, Sauzao, Tinta Cao, Tinta Amarella, Tinta Madeira and Bastardo. I first tasted at a distributor wine event and ordered six bottles. Last Friday I re-tasted at a dinner party and enjoyed and this morning tasted again the remnants of the bottle. (I think Port is great after dinner, but think it is even better after breakfast!) Unlike a Vintage Port, this bottle seems to have held up well having been open for five days without gas or refridgeration. The nose is slight with dark fruit aromas and the flavors are smooth and pleasantly sweet. Not a huge finish, but good balance and structure. Now what's for lunch?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Wine Blogging Wednesday #6

I managed to find three South African Reds having put the call out yesterday to a few wine reps (why put off today what you can do tomorrow!). I could have tasted some of the Goat wines from Charles Back, but wanted to try something new. And I managed to scrounge up some leftover Chinese spare ribs and Ritz crackers for a late breakfast as I was starved (and a little "tired") this morning after the "Erie Avenue Blind Tuesday Wine Night" where we blind tasted eight California Cabs which I will detail later once I locate the Tasting Notes and my briefcase!

  • Indaba, Merlot 2004 ($10) -- South Africa. I very much like the Indaba Sauvignon Blanc 2003 and I support the Scholarship efforts of Indaba to "open the wine industry doors to a new generation of South Africans" (read native), but I did not think much of the Merlot. The nose was tight with some grassy cherry aromas and not much finish or smoothness. The back label says it would be good with pizza. That's about right but there are many other good $10 wines.
  • Brampton, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot 2002 ($14) -- Coastal Region, South Africa. 51% Cab, 45% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot. Nice fruit nose with smooth flavors and tannic structure. Balanced with good finish. Highly recommended for the price!
  • Robert's Rock, Shiraz/Malbec 2003 ($7) -- South Africa. 65% Shiraz, 35% Malbec. Slight funny nose when first opened. Needs decanting. After 30 minutes smooths out and is very pleasant. Notes on back label are accurate: " ...profile shows cherry and rasberry flavors with undertones of sweet smokey spices. The wine portrays good fruit and juicy flavors with a soft finish." THIS is a good pizza wine, and for $3 less than a $10 bottle!

Monday, February 14, 2005

You Want Fries With That?

Rats! Couple sues St. Helena Winery

Sunday, February 13, 2005 -- By DAVID RYAN Register Staff Writer -- A San Francisco couple claims they bit off more than they wanted to chew on a recent visit to a St. Helena winery. They've filed suit against V. Sattui Winery and a food company, charging a sandwich they bought at the winery's deli in July 2004 contained the dismembered parts of a rat.

"Suddenly, and without warning, plaintiff observed a rat head and tail in the sandwich," the lawsuit reads. "Plaintiff had bitten down into the rat head and tail. Plaintiff Andrew Chang later became nauseous ... Cindy Chang discovered pieces of rat tail and head in her sandwich after Andrew Chang bit into his sandwich and discovered that the sandwich contained a rat head and pieces of its tail."

Friday, February 11, 2005

Mano A Mano

"Mano a Mano", La Mancha 2003 ($10) -- Spain. Jorge Ordonez Selections. 100% Tempranillo. I am not exactly sure who the producer/winemaker is here, but this is a good choice for mid-week dinner with fresh, fragrant fruits and good structure. Delightful!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

L'Ecole No. 41

L'Ecole No 41, Perigee 2002 ($45) -- "Seven Hills Vineyard", Walla Walla Valley, Washington. Estate Bottled. 1,160 cases produced. 57% Cabernet, 37% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc. Aged 22 months in 100% small oak barrels with approximately 60% new oak. Seductive soft, fruit nose with "complex, silky finish." A very elegant wine that will age well and is very drinkable now as is or with food.