Thursday, October 27, 2005

Maisonette Auction

I wanted to post a quick write up on the Maisonette Auction that was run by Great American. The link to the online inventory is probably gone and they are just now finishing up the removal of items from 6th Street Friday. Here are my impressions in random order.

  • I walked through last Thursday for the inspection. It was very sad and looked like someone had pulled a fire alarm and all the patrons had left with their plates on the table and wine glasses on the bar. Over the last 25 years I had visited about once a year and had many great memories. My favorite story is that about 15 years ago I had a Christmas lunch there with 12 buddies. We started at noon and about four o'clock one of the owners, a friend of ours, came out while we were all enjoying our cigars and Brandy, and offered us a round of drinks, IF we left in the next 15 minutes. I have been told that after that day cigar smoking was banned in the main dining room!
  • It was fun poking around the kitchens and back storage areas in the basement behind La Normandie. The "wine cellar" was a walled-off storage area with cold refridgeration and plywood bins. The 1924 Petrus magnum had a low shoulder fill and was questionable. (It sold for $3,250.)
  • I registered online to bid as I had to open the store. On Friday they auctioned the kitchen items, place settings, glasses, menus and office equipment. On Saturday more menus, glasses, art work and the wine collection were auctioned off. As the bidding progressed it became clear that there would be no deals unless you wanted some old computers. There seemed to be a retail crowd that didn't mind paying full value plus at times a premium for the Maisonette provenance.
  • The menus went quickly for about $200. Wine stands for $125. Table candle lights for $125. Copper pails for $600. Hamilton Beach mixers for more than $100. The bar itself went for about $2,000. Six copper skillets went for $2,200. Bottom feeders were not welcome!
  • I picked up several wine glasses which I plan to resell as Christmas gifts. At the auction, sets of 12 went for $15 to $18.
  • The name went for $35,000 and there is much discussion among the Cincinnati wine and restaurant crowd about who bought it. I think there are only two people in town who could legitimately open up a "new" Maisonette. However, I loved Borgman's cartoon showing a fat chef with a cigarette in his mouth outside his restaurant, "Tubby's Maisonette Bar and Grill". [Hot damn, I just figured out how to upload a picture! This could be dangerous!]
  • The oil paintings went for $15 to $35K. The faux library books in the bar went for about $6 or $7K. And this is all before the 10% buyers premium!
  • I was interested in the wine if it had gone for 20 to 30 percent of retail, but most seemed to go for 80 percent or more. Three half bottles of Chateau d'Yquem 1994 went for $150, plus BP. I can buy that wine at wholesale for about $80. Chateau Montrose 1990 magnums went for $650. Lafite-Rothschild 1986 magnums went for $700. Cheval Blanc 1990 went for $600. 2001 Staglin Cab - $75. 1996 DRC Richenbourg - $400. 2000 Phelps Isignia - $80. 2000 Opus One - $115. 2000 Cain Concepts - $40. And on and on. I finally logged out and pulled a bottle of 2002 J K Carriere Pinot and went back to work.
  • We will all miss the Mais' and had assumed it would always be there. On Sunday my son told me that he had never been. He was right. We had never taken him or the other kids. We used the excuse that we were waiting for their table manners to improve, but it is truly sad that the next generation will not get to enjoy a dessert of white chocolate mousse with a huge chunk of dark chocolate hidden in the impossibly light mousse after a three course meal with impeccable service. It is the end of a three or four generation tradition, a rite of passage, a shared experience. It is very sad.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


1999 Chateau de Villeneuve, Saumur "Les Cormiers" ($9) -- France. Couldn't find much online for this wine but saw one review that suggests it is Chenin Blanc with maybe some Chardonnay and/or Sauvignon Blanc. Found this in a close-out bin and bought a case sight unseen. Opened it a few weeks ago with some wine geeks and they loved it. It almost reminds me of a Sauterne with some botrytis. It has a floral nose, great mouth feel, good balance of acids and a medium to long finish. Great with food. Sadly, there are only six bottles left and the distributor is out. I wish I had bought a few more cases. Hell, I wish I had bought it all!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Psst, Hey Buddy Want Some Hot Wine?

2003 Waterstone Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($20) -- California. I responded to one of the daily e-mails I get from Sokolin's and took a flyer on this mystery juice. The story is that the juice is from a cult producer whose name can't be mentioned. Internet searches suggest that it is from Harlan Estates but I am only repeating a rumor here.

According to the website the wine is a blend of Cab (92%), Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot aged 18 months in 85% new French oak. 4,400 cases produced.

The color is dark red/purple, with aromas of cedar and dark fruit. The flavors are intense and complex with a long finish. All that for $20. The mystery wine supposedly sells for three figures if you can get on the list. I'm sold and wish I could legally sell some versus sereptitiously buying a case from a New York competitor.

10/18 Update: The winery contacted me and the wine is in Ohio. I should have inventory shortly although it may be the 2002 which is from the same sources as the 2003. One of the owners commented via e-mail that the 2002 is long gone from his inventory but should be drinking great with an extra year of bottle age.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Vina Alarba OVG

2004 Vina Alarba OVG ($8) -- Old Vine Grenache from Calatayud Spain. Another Jorge Ordonez selection. I read a wine blog recently that said you can't go wrong in selecting a Spanish wine if it is imported by Jorge. I agree. I can't remember having a wine of his that did not have a ton of fruit at a great value. I got a berry nose and soft, full-fruit flavors with this one.

The OVG is from 50 year old vines at 2,500 feet. More approachable and better structure than the 2003. Eight bucks! Unbelievable! But as my friends at "Wine Waves" would say, the closure is a plastic plug, which I really dislike. A screwcap (or real cork even) would be better.

Someone in the wine business was recently quoted in a Cincinnati newspaper opinionating that there are no good wines under $10. Couldn't be done. I disagree! So does Mr. Parker when he gave this wine a 90 rating a few months ago.

(One of these days I will find the keys to make those squiggly N's and accented E's! Any help?)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Desolation Flats Field Blend

2003 Desolation Flats Rustler's Red ($10) - San Lucas, CA. There isn't much on the internet that I could find on this field blend of mostly Refosco (60%) Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec and Petite Syrah. This is a lot of wine for $10. Aromatic with full complex fruits. Fascinating stuff!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Wine Blog Wednesday #14 ReCap

On Saturday night the entries started rolling in, and then a few came on Sunday. I can understand when people are excited to share their finds and it helps me get a start on the ReCap. I am organizing the wines by country so here goes and if there are some blanks from a country I will note it. Thanks to everyone who posted and let me know if I missed someone or if there is a broken link. And boy am I glad to have two computers and three screens to get this job done!


Tim from "Wine Cast" did some real digging and came up with four wines from Spain, Alsace, Canada and New Zealand.


Jens at "Cincinnati Wine Garage" (that's me) tried a NZ Pinot but preferred an old favorite from Australia.

Dave V at "Cheap Wine Reviews" went rooting around the bargain basement and found a bottle of Lindemans for about the price of a movie ($6.49)

Taj at "The Cork and Demon" boldly reviewed her choice before breakfast for her first ever WBW. That a way to take a bullet for the team! Phil's Fetish from Bellarine Estate is a tough start to any day!


Ian Scott at "The Home Winery" found some very interesting specimens that you need to read about! One of the Pinots he made himself from a kit. Now that is New New!

Tim from "Wine Cast" did some real digging and came up with four wines from Spain, Alsace, Canada and New Zealand.


Orion at "Confabulist" found two wines but passed on New Zealand. His first choice was from Chile. His second was a Pinot Nero from Italy which turned out to be a popular choice.

Jessica at "The Varietal" not only enjoys New New World Pinot, but she is a winemaker for Porta Pinots from the Bio Bio Valley.


This was a few days late and then I got bogged down in the Columbus Day weekend, but Alexander at "Blindtasting Club" found a Baron zu Knyphausen 2002 Spatburgunder that was worth mentioning. Further, his site is in German, but his WBW is in English also. We are getting very international here!


Orion at "Confabulist" found two wines but passed on New Zealand. His first choice was from Chile. His second was a Pinot Nero from Italy which turned out to be a popular choice.

Catherine at "Purple Liquid" reviewed a Pinot Nero Bianco from Oltrepo Pavese.


Lisa the waitress at "Restaurant Widow" got very creative by trying a Gruet Sparkler made from Pinot. I like the way she thinks!


Lenn at "Lenndevours" didn't have to go far to find something he liked! What a Pinot from New York!


First up is Lindy Toast from "Toast" with a selection from Brancott for $10. She compared it to a 2002 Saintsbury and I think preferred the Saintsbury. Also, she offers a recipe for pear preserves.

Andy at "Spittoon" offered up 4 wines from Spy Valley, one of which was a Pinot. His history of the property is interesting and his descriptions make me hope I can find them in Ohio.

Jens at "Cincinnati Wine Garage" (that's me) tried a NZ Pinot but preferred an old favorite from Australia.

Derek Baker at "Urbanzeitgeist" offered Amisfield Wines from Central Otago and liked it. It is available at K&L Wines and

Mark at "Uncorked" up the road in Dayton was overwhelmed by a $30 Pinot from Central Otago.

After a miscue, Tyler at "Dr. Vino" reviewed the same wine from Mt. Difficulty. Catchy name!

Deena at "Vita-Culture" ventured over to the Marlborough for a Pinot from Lawson's.

Adler at "Vinography" added to the long list of wines from Central Otago with a Pinot from Syren.

Matt at "Sound and Fury" also found a Pinot from Marlborough although he is partial to Oregon as am I.

The rat (AKA Allan) at "Cellar Rat" got on the Central Otago train and reviewed Rockburn's Pinot.

Jathan at "Wine Expression" really liked his choice, the 2002 Nelson Pinot Noir "Seifried".

Chas at "Wine Tastings" not only liked his choice from Central Otago (yes, that place again!) but says it is a "place of beauty" and he has the pics to prove it.

Beau at "Basic Juice" got his creative juices going on another Pinot from Central Otago. (I think we all need to charter a plane to check this place out!)

Barbara from "" reviewed another wine from Central Otago from the Akura winery. It seems if you are in the area, they are happy to show off their place. I'm telling you, we need to go!

CD at "The Corkdork" was the third to review Mt. Difficulty's Pinot and offered more details about the area and the winemaker. Thanks.

Tim from "Wine Cast" did some real digging and came up with four wines from Spain, Alsace, Canada and New Zealand.


Didn't see this one coming! Jack and Joanne at "Fork & Bottle" reviewed a 1997 Pinot Nero from Movia. Haven't seen that one on the local shelves!


Finally, Ryan at "" presented a 1999 Can Bonastre's Pinot Noir. I have liked all the Pinot I have tasted from Spain. All one of them!

Tim from "Wine Cast" did some real digging and came up with four wines from Spain, Alsace, Canada and New Zealand.


My fellow Cincinnatian Dean at "AWS'er Wine Blog" tried his first Tasmanian wine. Good job on finding something really new!

Jennifer at "Wine Waves" sent this in a bit tardy but what the heck, it's from Tasmania. We need to try more wines from Tasmania, in particular the Ninth Island 2004 Pinot.


Oops! Jarrett who runs our beloved "Wine Blog Watch" (Thank you!) messed up the terms but posted anyway. Well, California was not on the list but "it was really good - and CHEAP!"

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Wine Blogging Wednesday #14

I am jumping the gun by posting early (as have about 5 others) so that I can work on the ReCap, and I have an all day golf tournament to attend. Also, let this serve as a reminder for other bloggers that tomorrow is The Day.

This month's topic is New New World Pinot Noir. That is Pinot from someplace other than France or the West Coast of the US. I personally think Oregon is producing some of the best Pinots right now but then again I like lots of fruit and a big nose. I was curious to see Pinots from other areas so I issued the challenge to seek out other Pinots.

2002 Dyed-in-the Wool, "Unchangeable" Pinot Noir ($15) -- Cantebury, New Zealand. In my search for "new" Pinots this one caught my eye while ordering lunch at Carls in Hyde Park. I thought they only produced Sauvignon Blanc in the grapefruit/grass style there. Couldn't find much about the producer on the label or the internet, but the color was a pale red, the aroma was light and I did't find much fruit or finish. In a word, simple. I would pass next time.

I have recently enjoyed some Chilean Pinots for the same price with tons of fruit and finish with much more complexity, and for $35 have really enjoyed a big Spanish Pinot from Torres.

I had not planned tasting more than one wine, but I didn't want to end with a mediocre choice. So here is one from the past.

2000 T'Gallant Pinot Noir ($15) -- Mornington Peninsula, Australia. Pale red color whith a big smokey/bacony nose, full, soft fruits and a long finish with structure. Went great with leftover grilled pork chops and summer squash and a movie, "Ghandi". At its original price of $30 it has competition, but marked down to $15, it's a steal.

Monday, October 03, 2005

California Italians

2001 Monte Volpe "Peppolino" ($22) -- Red Wine, Mendocino, CA. According to the back label, this is a proprietary blend of 3 Italian varietals aged 18 months in French oak of which 30% is new. Greg Graziano is the owner/winemaker. The website PDF lists the varietals as Sangiovese, Montelpulciano and Negraomaro (34/33/33) with 210 cases produced.

Big nose and fruit with a medium finish. Great food wine with lots of stuff. I recently mixed this wine into a a case of mixed Italians and Chiantis for a friend. I am still waiting for the feedback.