Friday, July 27, 2007

Mas Carlot Clairette de Bellegarde 2006

One of these day's I'll take a proper picture of the wine of the week. Just not this day, I guess. As the title says, the wine of this past week is a Clairette de Bellegrade, from Mas Carlot. It's the first time I am aware of trying a wine made from the clairette grape.

How was it? Pretty good, actually. The color was a bit lighter than how it looks in the picture. Not real big on aromas, it smelled of flowers and fruits with a slight bit of almonds. The initial impression in the mouth was one of smooth pear, grapefruit, oak, and more almond. Then the acidity kicked in to make it a refreshing quaff. What I liked was the persistence of flavors and all the components being in harmony.

For $7.99 from the L.A. Wine Company, this had good QPR and gets two thumbs up. It's a flavorful, balanced and different kind of wine, worth giving it a try! I noticed that I seem to be the only one using Cellar Tracker who has listed this particular bottling.

Next week: a wine I've been looking forward to uncorking. Also, I'll try and take a decent picture of it!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Double Vision

Are you seeing double? Is something the matter with this web page? Nope, that's the 2nd Emerson wine cooling unit, set up side-by-side with the first (with the recommended 5" clearance all around).

When I first plugged it in, around 6:00, the digital temperature readout showed 83 degrees. Yes, it's hot here!! The original running unit showed 57 degrees, so thankfully it's been working well. It took about 4 hours for the new one to get down to 57. That's a pretty long time but as long as it stays constant, I'm happy.

Please excuse the makeshift surroundings in the picture. Yes, those are two unfinished pine boards underneath, one still showing the Home Depot price tag because I didn't think to face it the other way. The rubber feet on the coolers are too far apart to fit on that shelf without some other kind of support, hence the boards. And if you have good eyes, you'll discern the Lion King higher up on the wall with those two buddies of his whose names I forgot.

So what next - the start of an empire of coolers? Nope, this really is good enough for a one-wine-per-week guy. The good thing is the new cooler is empty (just some ringers sitting in there for now) so it's just waiting to be filled with new discoveries. I'm waiting for cooler weather to get those goodies from WineQ and Cameron Hughes I mentioned in the previous post.

Last note: congratulations to Dr. Debs, author of the Good Wine Under $20 blog for being named as one of the five best wine blogs in the Fall 2007 issue of Wine and Spirits. It's a much-deserved award. I'm sure if you found your way to my own obscure blog you know of her already, but if not, by all means check out her blog. It's well worth it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New Addition to the Household

Uh-oh, what do we have here? Looks like OneWinePerWeek has DOUBLED its storage capacity! Those of you familiar with my earlier post now can see the outcome of my internal debate.. I headed off to Target before the sale was over and picked up another one of these units. For $59 I figured I couldn't go wrong.

What you see in the picture is what it looks like as I write this. It's still in the box. First of all I'm not quite sure where to put it yet and secondly, there's no rush because there's no wine to put inside. Yet. I've got my eye on some goodies from WineQ and have placed an order with Cameron Hughes to be shipped later, but right now the weather is too darn hot. In the meantime I can pick and choose a bottle here and there. But this new box will help ease the logistical problems I mentioned earlier, as well as allow me to keep a 16 week supply as opposed to an eight week supply!

Now you might be thinking along the lines of economy of scale and why didn't I just buy one unit with a larger capacity which might have saved me some money, too. I thought about that but I kind of like the idea of having two small units. In my mind (and maybe it's just all in my mind), I think it is easier for a smaller unit like this to maintain a constant temperature, as well as a consistent temperature throughout the interior. I've read a lot of reviews in which consumers comment on how the temperature varies by up to 10 degrees within their own, larger storage units depending on where they place the thermometer.

So I'm happy. My wife thinks I'm nuts but she thinks that anyway. 16 is a good number to me - small enough to stay on budget but large enough to manage a decent-sized inventory. Yeah yeah, you say, here comes a three-peat... Well you should never say never, so I won't, but to me having these two units does the trick. When I finally decide where to put it and set it up, I'll post a picture.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Domaine Talmard Mâcon- Chardonnay 2005

I thought I'd take a break from rosés this week and move to a different region, different grape and different color. Another wine from the L.A. Wine Company, and another $7.99 price tag, this one is the 2005 Domaine Talmard Mâcon-Chardonnay.

You must excuse the poor picture, something that seems to be becoming a habit on this site when it comes to the wine bottle and wine in the glass. One of these days I'll get it right!

Anyway, on to the wine: Nice, clear gold/yellow color. Oak and apple aromas, pleasant but nothing spectacular. You know what this reminded me of when I tasted it? Like eating one of those cheap apple pies in a tin with a plastic lid on top, the kind you buy at a chain grocery store. Along with oak, it tasted like the middle part of a chunk of apple from one of those pies - you know it's apple but it isn't real ripe. That, mixed with the inside of the crust that's been in contact with the filling, and some pear flavor was how it tasted to me. A minerally finish trailed off pretty quickly. This wine seemed to be lacking in concentration, with a sort of watery aspect at times.

I have mixed feelings about this one - yes it was simple and lacking in concentration but it wasn't real expensive, either, so whaddaya expect for $7.99? However, I wouldn't buy it again so I guess that means a two thumbs down. Not wayyyy down, but pointed below the horizon.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Logistical Problems

As you know, I drink one wine per week. You may have seen my earlier post about my wine storage unit, which holds eight (8) bottles - not very big, but for me that's an 8-week supply! The unit's been working very well, by the way - a constant 57 degrees.

So today I was thinking about a couple of things, prompted by my desire to try out some very tempting wines from a couple of online sources: WineQ and Cameron Hughes. I figure if you've managed to find your way to my obscure little wine blog then you must be a real wine fanatic and therefore you're already familiar with these two quality sites. If not, please click the links and check them out, because they explain themselves much better than I can.

Because they both also have excellent copywriters, I can't resist ordering from them. Myself, I'm an aspiring copywriter so I rationalize perusing these two sites as "research." As I said, I was thinking: my storage capacity is 8 bottles at any one time, so how do I possibly juggle all the wines I'd like to have, considering the turnover is only one per week? I've got to be careful what and when I order and also be pretty choosy. I know I can't go wrong with either of these sites, but that's the logistical nightmare I have - resisting temptation so that I don't exceed my modest capacity.

Then my other thought was, why not just buy another storage unit? I noticed that the same one I have is on sale at Target this week, even cheaper than when I found it on sale not too long ago! That would allow for overflows and lapses of fortitude, wouldn't it? My rationale: some wines need more time so while I cycle the "drink now eight" in one unit, I'd be keeping the "save for later eight" nice and safe in the other.

But then I got to thinking, what if I find even more irresistable stuff that is on the verge of store shelf extinction so I have to snap it up right away? Easy - I'll just buy another unit. And another. Ha, I can just imagine a rather high stack of wine coolers, like six of them to give me a 48-bottle capacity. That would only cost me about $420 plus tax. Never mind that Home Depot has a Magic Chef single unit with similar capacity on sale now for $171 (in-store only, so no link) and my wife would have severely wounded me long before I got to even the 4th or 5th unit.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, where does it end? I was really debating whether or not to run over to Target and get that extra unit but in the end decided not to. Gotta resist temptation! I just have to organize my purchases and be disciplined - you can specify on both WineQ and Cameron Hughes exactly when you want your wines shipped, so that makes it easier to plan.. give them some business and fill in the odd bottle here and there from my other wanderings.

Yes, that's it.. be good, be disciplined. But on the other hand, some bottles really need some time to show their best and if I put one of those in my little storage unit then that effectively removes one precious space out of the current rotation. So maybe I should reconsider... haha, does any of this strike a chord of familiarity amongst you readers?

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Vayniac Meets le Clef du Vin

I recently discovered Wine Library TV and its entertaining host, Gary Vaynerchuk. Every weekday there's a different video having to do with the world of wine. If you haven't watched any of these already, I highly recommend you check it out - a solid two thumbs up. Gary, or The Vayniac as he is also referred to, is far from the stereotypical snooty wine expert with the British accent (so is Robert Parker but Gary is definitely something else). Like red wine with fish, you wouldn't think a Joisey (Jersey) accent pair well with wine but hey, don't knock it until you've tried it.

Yesterday's episode, #274, was a most interesting one. Gary sampled the results of a hot new wine accessory that many people have been wondering about - the Clef du Vin. It's a small metal object that you place into a glass of wine, and the metal alloy supposedly "ages" the wine for one year for each second the metal is in contact with the wine. The purpose? To give you an idea about whether or not the wine is ageworthy because you'll be able to taste today what the wine should taste like one, two, five, ten or a hundred years from now.

One of the viewer comments for this episode asked if a penny would have the same effect. I wondered the same thing. Now the Clef du Vin sells for a pretty penny - 10,000, to be exact. Yup, $100 for this mystery metal. Wouldn't that be something if a real penny, 1/10,000 of the cost, had the same effect? I did a bit of research and found that indeed, a penny can affect wine but in a somewhat different way - check out this wine site. I also found out that it has to be a copper penny, something the U.S. stopped minting after 1982. One of these days I have to test this out. I don't have the bucks for a Clef du Vin but it would be interesting to see the effect other types of metals have on a glass of wine.

Anyway, what was the result? Did the Clef du Vin have the intended effect when Gary tried it on his samples? You'll have to watch his video to find out - I promise you will not get bored! So what was the purpose of this blog entry? I guess just to say that I give two thumbs up to the Vayniac because I've become a regular viewer. As for Clef du Vin, no thumbs up or down because unless someone makes a very generous gift of it to me, I am not going to spend 10,000 pennies for something like this when all I buy is the cheap stuff anyway, and only drink one per week at that.

By the way, if/when you visit the Clef du Vin site, do you notice that the figure in the intro page looks like he's Asian? Haha, what's up with that?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Domaine de Sainte Antoine Rosé 2006

The wine review I have for you this week is another rosé, this one from the same region as last week: Costières de Nimes. It's from the Domaine de Sainte Antoine, vintage 2006 and also like last week's wine, it was $7.99 from the L.A. Wine Company.

Sorry for the background in the picture - I can't find a background of white space in the house! This wine had a nice cranberry color, more light ruby than the orange tint so many ros
ès tend to have. There were pleasant aromas of fresh fruits, including hints of peach and orange blossom, mixed with red fruits, a honeyish-flower component, and some peppery spice.

Palate-wise, it was fresh, with crisp acidity that was in balance with the wine, and the predominant taste was of red fruits along with a bit of pepper. I noticed that this was showing best after it had warmed up a bit - initially it was too cold and the bouquet and taste were muted, and it had a sour taste to it.

After a bit of warming up to take away the chill, this was a very pleasant and refreshing wine - a good balance of fruit and acidity. This one gets two thumbs up. What does that mean? Well, a bad one gets two thumbs down, a maybe gets one up and one down, and a recommended gets two thumbs up. This one's worth it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Stemware

One enjoyable aspect of sampling wines for me is the crystal that is used. I love looking at a nicely-shaped stem. Above are the main glasses that I use, which I thought I'd post here just because I like the way they look. All of them are made by Riedel, mainly from the Vinum line but I think there's one from the Extreme and also one from the Sommelier line. Whatever, I just feel that the stemware enhances the experience.

Do the different shapes influence the wine's bouquet and taste, as Riedel claims? I think so. Not to as large a degree as they say they do, but maybe that's because my nose and tastebuds aren't up to par. I'd say the choice of crystal also has a psychological influence just because of the positive effect on the wine's appearance.

Anyway, that's the post of the day - I'm a sucker for a nice wine stem. If you're interested in purchasing them, the L.A. Wine Company has pretty good prices (I have no affiliation with them, I just think they're a good operation).

Monday, July 9, 2007

Emerson Wine Cooler - 8 Weeks of Storage!

When you only consume one bottle of wine per week, a little goes a long way. The picture above shows you what I use to keep my wines from boiling over in the Southern California summer: a compact wine cooler made by the Emerson company, with a big eight (8) bottle capacity. I found it on sale at Target recently for $69.99, not a bad deal at all. So far it has done an admirable job, maintaining a steady 57 degrees in an ambient temperature ranging from the mid-70's to the mid-80's.

Most advice you get from wine fans is to buy the largest storage unit you can afford because it will soon wind up being too small. Being the One Wine Per Week drinker, and inexpensive wine at that, an 8-bottle storage capacity is plenty big for me. That's an 8-week supply of wine! Not much point in trying to age inexpensive wine for very long either, so each slot is going to experience turnover to the tune of once every eight weeks. Limiting myself in this manner also serves the purpose of avoiding temptation to buy more and more wine, which leads to buying more and more wine storage units. It also forces me to be more selective! Yup, it's just the right size and it keeps my wine safe.

This particular unit operates on the thermoelectric effect (aka peltier effect). There's no condenser, and the only moving part is a fan which most of the time is very quiet. Hardly any vibration, hardly any noise, an LCD temperature indicator, buttons to adjust the temperature up or down in 1-degree increments... it's got everything I need to maintain a modest collection.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Grande Cassagne Rosé 2006

It's been ridiculously hot in Southern California these past few days which to me made the prospect of a refreshingly crisp and fruity rosé sound too tempting to pass up.

On Monday I pulled a bottling of Chateau Grande Cassagne rosé 2006, Costières de Nimes. The back label informed me that this area is on the western edge of the Rhone Valley. Robert Kacher is the importer, and it cost $7.99 from the L.A. Wine Company.

Sad to say, this wine was downright miserly when it came to sharing its bouquet. Hints of strawberry, some cherry cola and a bell pepper, herbal aspect similar to a sauvignon blanc were present but none of these went beyond hints.

On the palate this wine seemed dull and flat, lacking the crispness as well as the fruitiness I had been expecting. There was no zing! Indistinct red fruits mixed with bell pepper was what I picked up. As it warmed, the fruit outweighed the bell pepper but overall this was a pretty ordinary example.

So my first-ever wine to review for this blog gets a thumbs-down! How sad is that? Sorry, I was expecting something fresh and fruity but this one seemed lifeless and possessed nothing to get excited about. Disappointing.

One Wine Per Week -- Why?

Like the title says, I (normally) drink one wine per week, which I will try and faithfully review here. Why only one wine? My spouse doesn't drink wine, and I like to have just one glass with dinner, which means a normal 750 ml bottle of wine generally lasts 4-5 days in our house. The rest of the week we're either eating out or eating dry.

The two wine preservation systems I use are the Vacu Vin and Private Preserve. I've found that both of them work equally well, and for the purpose of keeping wine fresh over the course of 4 or 5 days, they do a satisfactory job. Is either one better than the other? Not that I've been able to tell... I've also sampled wine preserved under both methods when its been kept over a week and by then there is a noticeable deterioration in quality. But since it's one wine per week, the wine is freshened on a daily basis during the week and I've not experienced any problems yet.

Now as far as posting frequency, I'm gonna try and be diligent and write reviews as the title says, but there hopefully will be extra posts during the week, too, relating to wine in some manner.