Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Heavyweight Wine Book

Recently I was provided with a review copy of Wine, edited by Andre Dominé.

The most obvious thing about this book is how heavy it is! I put it on the bathroom digital scale and got a reading of 8.2 pounds. This is a massive volume.

So is there enough substance in the book to justify the weight? I'd say definitely yes, there is. This is a work along the lines of Jancis Robinson's Oxford Companion to Wine, or Hugh Johnson's World Atlas of Wine. Its purpose is to present all matters and facets of winedom, and that it does.

The first 140 pages of this 926-page volume deals with the history and background of wine, including an overview on tasting, handling and enjoying the elixir. The reader is also taken to the vineyards and wineries and given an education about grape growing and wine making.

The remainder of the book focuses on what seems to be all of the wine produciing regions in the world.

Rather than a textbook or encyclopedia, a book this comprehensive necessarily can't dive into too much detail in any one subject. Instead, the reader is treated to an excellent overview of all the aspects of the wine world - anything you could think of, really. There are oodles of pictures, maps, charts and illustrations, making it a graphic as well as textual delight. It's really the kind of book that you'd want to pick up and randomly select a section to read on an informal basis for pleasure. There's also plenty of stats and facts if you want as well, but if you are a wine lover or want to give a thoughtful gift to someone who is, my suggestion is to give serious thought to this book.

Here are a few pictures I took of pages I just randomly turned to, in order to give you some idea of the scope of the book (click on the images for a larger view).

Negatives: I believe this book was originally published in German (the original title was Wein) and there is more focus given to European wines compared to other areas. North America doesn't seem to get as many pages as it should, considering its significance in the wine kingdom. Still, if one wants to pursue American wines in more detail there are plenty of other resources available.

My only other criticism is that this book is so heavy! That's unavoidable, I suppose.

Right now this book sells for $32.97 at Amazon ($49.95 list price) and if you ask me, that's a great price for a work of this nature. I have to remind you that I received the book gratis from the publisher who asked me to review it, and also that if you click the following link that takes you to Amazon, I get a share of anything that you purchase from them during your current visit. That isn't why I am recommending this book, though. If you are looking for a comprehsive work about wine, one that would either make an impressive gift or provide useful reading for yourself, this is one to really consider.

If you are interested, here is the link to the Amazon product page: Andre Domine - Wine

Other than that.. I've been crazy busy lately but I plan to post some tasting notes soon. Meanwhile, I wish you all a very merry and blessed Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

NewAir Tower

Back in the middle of 2007 I purchased a couple of wine coolers under the Emerson label from Target. Each holds 8 bottles and works under the thermoelectric principle. I like to call them my "Emerson Suites." Wine suites, that is.

Well, 16 slots is not a whole lot. Finally I decided to purchase another wine cooler unit, this time a little bigger. After doing much perusing on the internet, I decided on the AW-280E made by NewAir. Or rather, I should say it is under the NewAir label because I doubt that most, if not all of the brands actually make their own units. I bet they all come from the same factory in China.

This one holds 28 bottles and, like the Emerson Suites, it works using thermoelectric principles. Since it is a lot taller than the other two, I call this one my "NewAir Tower." I ordered it from a company called Air N Water. The reasons I chose them were: (1) good pricing; (2) good feedback on E-Bay; (3) nearby location for fast shipping.

I didn't buy the unit on E-Bay but that's how I found out about them because they sell there. They also have their own website and I wound up placing the order by phone. It shipped out the next day and I received it the day after that.

The box arrived via Fed Express ground in great condition (albeit at 7:45 on a rainy night and the guy didn't have the decency to ring the doorbell. I just happened to look outside and there it was sitting on the porch). The unit itself looks very nice considering the price and seems to be constructed well. It looks exactly like the pictures on the website.

I've had it for a couple of weeks and so far, so good. The manual says it chills down to 54 degrees and that's where I have it set. The actual temperature ranges from 57.7 to 58.5 degrees, however, according to the thermometer I used. That's fine with me and I've come to expect that the temperature on the readout is never as low as the actual temperature anyway. We've been having a bout of cold weather lately so I'd be interested in knowing how this unit does when it gets warmer. It's been very quiet and very steady so far; the fan hardly turns on.

The shelves are on the narrow side but they still accommodate Burgundy and Rhone-style bottles. You just have to alternate facing the necks inward and outward on the shelves.

This was the lowest-priced of the various 28-bottle units I looked at on the web. The most expensive was the Vinotemp. They all look suspiciously the same, with very similar specs. I bet they are all the same, save for slight cosmetic differences that must appear on the order sheet that gets submitted to the factory in China - like do you want the glass tinted, or put a stripe here or there, etc. etc. But in substance, mechanically I think they are all the same. So why pay more?

Anyway.. here's a picture of the NewAir Tower:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2006 Saisons des Vins (Copain) Pinot Noir l'Automne

Another quick note here.. I purchased this from Jill at Domaine547 and, like the other wines that have come from her, it was a good one.

It looked like a Pinot Noir - that is, it wasn't some deep, dense-looking thing but it had an attractive color. It also smelled and tasted like a Pinot Noir. My initial impressions were strawberries with a creme soda aspect. Along with it were flavors of spice, cherries, and a bit of earthiness.

The fruit balanced nicely with the tannins and acidity after getting some air. At first it was on the rough side. After about 1/2 an hour in the glass a nice, medium-weight silky smooth texture emerged. Contrasted with the Cameron Hughes Aussie Shiraz I had a little while back, there was such a difference in the weight and textures. The latter had a more velvety, textured palate feel and was a lot heavier but both had their merits.

I'd say the wine is drinking nicely right now if you let it breathe for a while, but there's no rush to drink it up.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Well I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Last night I was rinsing my Riedel Sommelier series Burgundy glass when I clinked the faucet hose against the inner rim. I heard a sickening dull cracking sound and my worst fears were realized. The thin crystal had cracked!

Am I going to replace it? I doubt it. The risk of breaking such a delicate stem compared to its cost, which based on my perusal of pricing at Amazon has gone up, is too great to justify getting another one. At least for now.

In case you aren't familiar with this crystal, it is the glass on the left side of the trio in the picture heading this blog.

Oh well, it was good while it lasted but no use crying over split crystal. Sigh..

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cameron Hughes Lot 41 Shiraz

Just a brief little post here.. The other day I opened a bottle of Cameron Hughes' Lot 41, an Australian Shiraz.

For 12 bucks it was definitely a good buy. Full bodied, lots of chocolately fruit with notes of tobacco, a nice texture and good Shiraz character. It's drinking well right now but should keep for a while, too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Emerson Wine Cooler Update

My posts have become much less frequent, although I did act like the Eagles or Sean Connery and learned never to say "never again," having returned to posting after bidding adieu.

Since cutting way back on my activity, I've noticed that the number of page hits has escalated greatly. Hmm.. is that like those artists and writers who can't seem to sell a painting or a book until they drop dead? Haha.. turning this into an abandoned blog seems to have generated a lot of traffic. Maybe they want to verify I quit.

Well I still have for the most part but I thought I would update you about how those two Emerson wine coolers are doing, the ones I bought back in the summer of 2007 and referred to as my "Emerson Suites" for my wine bottles - 8 per cooler.

Knock on wood, they are still working fine! The indoor/outdoor thermometer I use to monitor the temps inside shows that one averages 55-56 degrees and the other 57-58 degrees. Even during our protracted, ridiculously hot summer the temps averaged only a degree or so higher. Again, knock on wood.. I hope I didn't jinx them by writing this, or that they will get the idea they can relax and slack off after getting kudos from me.

Meanwhile, until next time.. (ooh, I hope I didn't jinx the Emerson Suites as well as the page views for this blog! I promise I will stay away from here more often)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

2004 La Chablisienne Chablis Les Vénérables Vieilles Vignes

I'm back for another infrequent appearance. I had to put in a good word for the bottle of wine I'm telling you about today..

I paid $13.99 for this bottle of Chablis from Garagiste. You'd be hard-pressed to find a bottle of chardonnay this good for anywhere near the price. It had obvious Chablis character - the steely, flinty aspect, crisp, well balanced acidity, and a green apple peel / lime / mineral taste. The color was a lovely light greenish gold.

If it had any shortcomings, it would be that the aftertaste didn't linger on and on. It was decently long, nothing to complain about, but if I had to complain about something that would be the only thing I can think of. This was a great bottle of wine for the price, and definitely worth drinking no matter what the price consideration.

Monday, November 10, 2008

2004 Twisted Oak Petite Sirah

I know I bid farewell from this blog but every now and then I'll post something when I run across a wine worth writing about and I feel like writing about it - notice the "and" rather than "or" clause, haha. That second part is the real qualifier because I still don't feel much like writing anything yet.

This is the economy version of the blog - no pictures and no YouTube matching video. I'm just too lazy!

The Twisted Oak 2004 Petite Sirah is one that I wanted to let you know about because I enjoyed it very much. It had nicely perfumed aromas that enticed me to take a sip. On the palate there was a nice balance of cedary wood and slightly tart, but ripe black and red fruits held together by gripping tannins. The tannins added texture, rather than making my mouth pucker. I liked the flavors and concentration in this wine that I purchased from WineQ back in 2007 sometime. It's definitely a wine worth trying.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Hello? Status update..

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One Wine Per Week Bids Adieu

Well just like the economy, it looks like the idea bottle has run dry for One Wine Per Week. The site's proprietor, MonkuWino, made the decision yesterday to stop posting new entries and instead allow the site to become a wasteland on the web.

"Posting reviews of wine got to be boring," said MonkuWino to reporters gathered at the press conference. "The real purpose of this site was to have some fun by writing flippant entries, like harassing Domaine547's poor Budo Kun, but the idea well ran dry a long time ago. I just don't have enough time to think of anything fresh."

Why not just continue to post wine reviews?

"I'm still drinking the wine and enjoying pretty much everything I've purchased so far," added Monkuwino. "In that respect I've been fortunate. But like I said, just posting up wine reviews and having to take pictures of the bottles and find a good YouTube video to complement the wine - well, that just takes too much time for a lazy fool like me."

When asked if he would reconsider if the government made an equity investment in his web site, or threw part of the $700 billion bailout money away by using it for him instead of wasting it on banks and other financial disasters, Monkuwino said that still would make no difference.

"It's like in the movie Forrest Gump, when he decides to go running and he runs from one end of America to the other and points inbetween, and one day stops right in the middle of the highway because he doesn't feel like running anymore. That's me. And that's all I've got to say about that. I wanted to blog to be like a box of chocolates but it got to be too predictable."

But here's two last comments about recent wines before hitting the road:

2005 Jean-Louis Tribouley Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes Orchis: Very, very good bottle of wine. First impression was of tons of earth and minerals, with concentrated fruit underneath. It had a smoky, cedar and soy character as well. Complex, lots of flavor and a really long aftertaste of smoky fruit. For $16.99 from Garagiste, this is an extremely good value.

2006 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Chardonnay Russian River Valley: Based on the Cellar Tracker reviews I read, I was expecting some overblown oaky monster of a wine. I have had only the first 1/4 of the bottle but so far this is a very good wine. It's got buttery oak but that is well integrated with the complex fruit flavors. By complex I mean there was a melange of different fruits on the palate, like pear, peach, apple and citrus, which along with the buttery character and good acidity made for a great glass of wine. It's kind of pricey at $29.75 per bottle from the winery, but you could do much, much worse at that price. At least this one makes you feel like you got your money's worth. I'm looking forward to the other three glasses to confirm those first impressions.

(Seriously, folks, I've reached a season where I don't feel motivated to do this anymore so I'm taking a long, maybe permanent leave of absence from posting to this site. This is post #292 and I think the earlier ones were a lot more interesting than the later ones - thanks for stopping by to read it, though!)

Friday, October 10, 2008

2006 Tablas Creek Roussanne Bergeron

Tablas Creek turns out some very fine wines, and here's another one. This one was $21.60, straight from the winery.

Light yellow gold in color, the aromas were subdued. There was a bit of flowers and some spice but they were muted.

The wine was subtle on the palate, as well. Apple peel, a taste reminiscent of those hard candy lemon balls dusted with powder (do you know what I'm talking about?), minerals and ginger were the flavors I detected. It's a reflective, nicely balanced wine that would do well with food; one to roll around in your mouth and focus on savoring the various flavors as they emerge, rather than them jumping out and punching you. I liked it over all four nights so it gets a four-bottle rating.

Here's the matching YouTube video (click here if you don't see it below):

The link to the CD at Amazon.com: Harbor Lights

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

2005 Twisted Oak *%#&@!

The inaugural wine under my new rating system is a good one - the 2005 vintage of the unpronounceable red blend from Twisted Oak.

This one I purchased from WineQ last year and it set me back $27.99.

There was a lot going on in the aromas and flavors - cedar, smoke, soy spice, pepper and abundant berries all wrapped together and getting along with each other, no less. It had a very long smoky berry aftertaste.

I thought this wine had excellent balance, plenty of complex character, and it was a joy to drink. I enjoyed it immensely over all four nights that I tried it and it gets a four-bottle rating from me (meaning that it got through all four nights, my normal time span for drinking a bottle of wine, without my tiring of it). This was a good one!

Here's the matching YouTube video (click here if you can't see if below):

Here's the link to the CD product page at Amazon.com: Chicago Transit Authority

Monday, October 6, 2008

A New Rating Scale

Actually I'm just trying to post an entry so as to not get knocked further down in the search engines or lose my already sinking place on the highly subjective Alltop wine page.

The wines I drink at home are consumed over the course of four evenings. I open the bottle, fill up three 187.5 ml bottles for subsequent nights, and then pour the remainder into a wine glass to enjoy that same night.

As you might guess, some wines are better than others and depending on the wine, I have varying degrees of anticipation with respect to finishing off the remaining three 187.5 ml bottles. Some I am not that crazy about, and some I really look forward to trying again. Some I am happy or relieved after that fourth bottle is gone, and some I wish I was back on the first bottle instead of the last.

My new rating system is going to be based on five bottles. Simply put, the bottle rating will tell you how many 187.5 ml bottles I consumed of the wine before I got tired of it or lost interest or really didn't feel like drinking it again the next night.

A one-bottle rating will indicate I was ready to pop the cork on something else after trying the first quarter of a 750 ml bottle. But unless the wine is flawed in some way or is really horrible, I will still be diligent and drink the remaining three portions over the subsequent nights. Sort of like Three Dog Nights...

A four-bottle rating means I enjoyed the wine enough to drink it all four nights but after that fourth night, it is time to move onto something else. That's pretty good, in my book.

And a five-bottle rating means I regret not having more of the wine to drink. In my book that would be a darn good wine.

That's the new rating system.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Twittered Out

Russ the Winehiker sent me a nice direct message from Twitter yesterday:

Hey Rickie, we haven't seen you for such a long time, and we miss you here on Twitter, man! C'mon back and let's have some fun!!

Thanks, Russ! I guess it has been quite a while since I've Twittered with the other Twitwits. I still get notices from Twitter telling me that so-and-so is now following me; most of the time I will check out their Twitter page and web page and see that some of them blog and Twitter in a foreign language and I have no idea what they are writing about.

Anyway, the reason I don't Twit anymore is mainly from not having time. Also, I wound up following too many people and found that there were too many comments being made to keep up with. I'm not really an IM or Twitter or social networking kind of person anyway so I find myself forgetting to even log in to catch up with stuff.

Well, that was very nice of Russ to think of me. Let me just say that I am still very much enjoying my wine and look forward to many more glasses in the future. Also, in response to my own feeling that I am oversubscribed, this week I canceled all of my wine club memberships, subscriptions, etc., because it was heading towards the problem of having too many wines for practical consumption, i.e., no place to put everything. I only have a fairly small temperature-controlled area to keep the wines. I wish I had a cellar in the house or could afford larger wine storage alternatives but that isn't the case so I unfortunately and with much regret canceled everything. It was also done from a financial standpoint as well, as I began to get carried away by spending too much money.

Now, after having Twisted Oak's Twisted Few among the memberships I canceled, last night I twisted off the cork on a bottle of their 2005 *%#&@! (the red one) and thought, should I have canceled all these? This was one awfully good bottle of wine! It will be the next one for review in a couple of days. Sigh.. I only drank 1/4 of the bottle so there's three more evenings left of it (mmm, good) but just the thought of canceling all of these fine wineries and the wines they produce.. oh, well. One day I shall return!

And with that, have a very fine weekend, y'all!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

2005 Château Bellevue La Forêt Fronton Ce Vin

Today's review is of an unusual wine, one that is 100% from the Negrette grape. I'd never heard of it until I received an offer for the wine from Garagiste. I forked over $11.84 to give it a try based on the prose in the e-mail.

This is what Cellar Tracker has to say about the Negrette variety:

Negrette is a varietal originally planted just to the side of Toulouse by settlers from Cyprus during the Crusades. It is one of the oldest varietals in the world and it has light to medium bodied style and soaring perfume of spice and violets.

I didn't think the aromas were "soaring" but I did detect some violet. What was more prevalent than that were aromas of menthol, earth, and what to me seemed like a mix of spearmint chewing gum and raspberry. A medicinal aspect was also present.

On the palate the wine was even more unusual. Lots of earth, and what I can only describe as very dry raspberry fruit buried under a layer of sand and gravel. It was like the fruit had no fruitiness or sweetness to it, just the bare fruit. Odd. I let the wine sit in the glass a long time after which more fruit emerged but it never did get past that really dry stage.

It was worth trying once just because it was so different, but once was enough for me. The wine was not flawed and perhaps it needs more time because it did improve with air, but I just didn't care for that style. The part of my tongue that senses sweetness didn't detect anything but a plastic-like feel. I kept trying to taste more than what was there.

Here's the YouTube video I chose for the wine (click here if you can't see it below):

Here's the link to the Amazon page for the CD: Police

Friday, September 26, 2008

1994 Schloss Schönborn Hochheimer Hölle Riesling Spätlese

If you got here by typing the name of this wine into a search engine, congratulations on your typing abilities!

This is the third of three bottles of older German Riesling I purchased from Garagiste, the others being the Kabinett version from the same producer in the 1994 vintage, and a 1990 Spatlese from this producer.

Like the others, this one belied its age. Initially the color in the glass was a medium gold but it lightened up with air and nothing about the wine gave any hint that it was 14 years old.

There was a definite petrol/rubber component in the nose and mouth of this wine, and on the fruit side, I thought it was all apples and pears. It had a sugary/honeyed sweetness to it with enough acidity to keep it from being cloying. The aftertaste trailed off rather quickly. All the flavors were ripe and well integrated.

Refreshing (especially for this ridiculously hot weather we've had the past few days in Southern California.. is summer ever going to end???) and a bit on the simple side, for the $16.99 tariff I would give this a thumbs up. I'd say it was priced fairly.

Here's the matching YouTube music video (click here if you don't see it below):

Here's the Amazon product page for the CD: Jay & The Techniques

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

2006 Gautheron Morgon Côte du Py

This bottle came from Garagiste (so did the wine inside of it) and was a reasonable $13.99.

My main impression of this wine was minerals. Lots of minerals, chalk, concrete and slate. That ought to give you some idea of what I thought was its most prominent characteristic - I use that in the singular because they all sort of lump together.

On that taut framework there was also crisp fruit. Other reviews I've seen call it "lively" and that fits well. I found it to be a clean, fresh wine whose fruit character became fuller and rounder as it aired.

Very nice, and deserving of two thumbs up.

Here's the matching YouTube music video to listen while you drink (click here if you don't see it below):

And here is the link to the CD page at Amazon: Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage

Monday, September 22, 2008

2004 Grattamacco Bolgheri Rosso

The blend of 50% Cabernet, 30% Merlot and 20% Sangiovese came from Gargiste for a tab of $19.99.

There was a lot going on in both the aromas and flavors. On the nose I picked up cedar, rose petal, earthy plum, strawberry and raspberry. This carried through on the palate, along with bittersweet chocolate and coffee. It had a lingering cranberry-like finish.

I feel this wine is drinking nicely right now and has a nice melange of flavors that keep it interesting, never tiring. It's well worth a two thumbs up recommendation.

Here's my choice for the matching YouTube video (click here if you don't see it below):

And the Amazon CD product page: Steely Dan - Kid Charlemagne

Friday, September 19, 2008

Government Bails Out Screeching Falcon Winery

The financial markets have been hit hard by the recent subprime mortgage crisis, but it has not been confined solely to that sector. Even the wine industry has been negatively affected to a great degree.

Consumers simply have less money to spend on wines. Large corporations that normally would spend lavishly on office parties and customer entertainment by purchasing the most expensive bottles of wine now find themselves teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

Without those sales, what is a premium winery to do? Screeching Falcon, best known for its wines that cost thousands of dollars per bottle even on release, found out yesterday. With sales way down, they had no choice but to either ask the Federal Government to bail them out, or go bankrupt. The only way they could continue to fetch the normal $5,700 per bottle price of their wines was to have the government subsidize it.

The agreement worked out with the Feds calls for the United States BATF to purchase all remaining stock of Screeching Falcon wines at a discounted price of $5,650 per bottle. That will allow Falcon to remain in business and operate their web site so that customers on their mailing list will be assured of receiving their precious bottles of next year's vintage uninterrupted.

The other option considered by the Feds was to guarantee the resale value of the wine, akin to FDIC insurance. However, after extended discussion with representatives from both the winery and the Fed, it was decided instead for the federal government to purchase the wine stocks and thus prop up Screeching Falcon to prevent it from suffering financial disaster.

What is going to happen to the wines after being purchased by the government? They are not talking, although this reporter is investigating rumors that bottles of Screeching Falcon have been seen in various 99 Cent Only locations that have a license to sell alcohol. When we find out more, you will find out more.

When asked for their comments on this situation, both John McCain and Barack Obama were in agreement, something that has been very rare during this presidential election year. Both stated, "My position is that which will get me the most votes from the American people."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2006 Twisted Oak Verdelho Silvaspoons

Today's wine is made from the not-often seen (at least in this country) Verdelho grape, produced by the not-seen-enough Twisted Oak Winery.

Pale in color, on the 1st night I would have mistaken this for a Sauvignon Blanc, with its grassy, herbal aromas and grapefruit character on the palate.

On subsequent nights the grassy character faded and a more fruity character emerged. The herbal element remained but was more in the background. In the foreground was a lot of honeyed, ripe fruit. Crisp acidity kept the wine refreshing and never tiring to drink.

It's ready to drink now but I would suggest letting it get some air, and also not serving it too chilled. For $12.80 from the winery, this was a no-brainer two thumbs up. Enjoy it with summer (which I know is fading fast, so enjoy it with autumn, too.. or with winter or spring.. winter spring summer or fall all you got to do is call..).

Here's the matching YouTube video (click here if you don't see it below):

The Amazon CD page: Sweet Baby James

Monday, September 15, 2008

2004 Château Falfas

Jill of Domaine 547 recommended this wine from the overlooked 2004 vintage, which set me back $17.99.

Nice aromas of cedar, cigarette smoke and dark berries rose from the glass. There was more of the same on the palate with predominately plum and black cherries fruit-wise, along with a hint of soy sauce. The aftertaste lingered.

Texture-wise, this wine was smooth and silky, even a bit leathery or waxy in feel. All of the components were nicely balanced

Very nice wine, unquestionably two thumbs up on this one!

And now the usual matching YouTube music video (click here if you don't see it below):

Link to the Amazon CD page: Yvonne Elliman

Friday, September 12, 2008

2006 Tablas Creek Chardonnay Antithesis

This one came winery-direct from Tablas Creek with a $21.60 tariff.

The wine was a clear light gold color. Aromas were on the reticent side. It had a creamy mouth feel, with flavors of pear, roasted nuts, spiced lemon and some anise; it had chardonnay character but was not the fruit-forward type. This one leans to the subtle side.

This would do very well with fish or chicken in a mild cream sauce, I'd say, and is better as a food wine rather than one to drink on its own.

I liked the wine but at $21.60 I think it is on the expensive side. I give it sideways thumbs.

Here's the matching YouTube video. Click here if you don't see it below.

Amazon.com page for the CD: Stevie Wonder - Innervisions

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

2004 Domaine Benedetti Côtes du Rhône Vieux Clos

Today's wine came from Garagiste and set me back $16.83. I wonder how he comes up with his pricing - there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the last two digits. Maybe it's some sort of secret code.

Overall it had a nice purple color but was a bit light around the edges. Initially I sensed soy sauce and worcestershire sauce on the nose. The palate was like molasses that you find in barbecue sauce, mixed with berries. After gaining more air it morphed into tartish cranberry tastes. The wine had an acidic bite to it along with minerally tannins. The aftertaste trailed off rather quickly.

I don't drink enough wines to say this from experience, but only from what I've read about the 2004 Rhone area vintage - this wine appears to reflect the nature of that vintage. The fruit was restrained rather than ripe or rich, and the acidity made itself known. It seems one to drink with food.

This one gets sideways thumbs. It tasted natural and there's nothng wrong with it, but it's not something to get excited about, either.

Here's a tartish YouTube video to go with the tartish, acidic character of the wine. Click here if you don't see it below.

And the link to the Amazon.com CD page: Janis Joplin - Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Tale of Two Wineries

Napa Valley's Metachange Winery raised many an eyebrow when it burst on the scene a couple of years ago seemingly out of left field with its debut wine, a 100% Monastrell from the 2004 vintage. Critically acclaimed, this wine has picked up a near-cult following and the once nearly-unknown varietal has now become a household name among wine enthusiasts across the U.S.

"Consumers had grown tired of the same old varieties," remarked Steve Jepson of Century Wine and Vine House, a leading New York retailer. "It was nice to have gotten away from the generic, and falsely labeled 'hearty burgundies' and 'pink chablis' to true varietal wines, but that was back in the 60's and 70's. It's about time we had a progressive winery that saw the need for change and did something about it."

When Metachange released its 2004 Monastrell, it was the only winery in the United States that featured this grape; it's more familiar to people who drink Spanish wines but few in this country had ever tried it, much less heard of it. Helped by wow reviews from leading wine publications, the problem of being unknown is no longer a problem.

You can imagine what a sitr was created when two months ago, Metachange announced it was releasing only its second varietal wine, the production of which had been kept a closely-guarded secret. Even industry insiders such as Robert Parker and the staff at the Wine Spectator were kept out of the loop and had to wait, just like everyone else for the identity of the grape that was in the bottle. Speculation ran rampant; names of obscure varietals were bandied about but the tight-lipped Metachange held fast to its promise to first notify those on its mailing list via text message. The hype became unbearable.

Last Monday, the announcement was made. "Faithful Metachange fans, the future has arrived," stated the bold text message. "Orders are now being taken for our second varietal, first come, first served: The 2006 Metachange Cabernet Sauvignon is now available."

"Aged in 100% new American oak, this is a big, bold, highly-extracted wine that just goes on and on," continued the text announcement. "There's nothing subtle about it; it's made in the style that's going to rack up the points. We're very proud of this, our second varietal release and we are sure you will love it."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Omnivore's Hundred

I read about this list on Sonadora's Wannabe Wino website so I thought I'd give it a try. The original idea was posted by Andrew of the Very Good Taste food blog, and basically, here are the rules:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at Very Good Taste linking to your results.

I also added my own two cents in (parentheses).. and, like Sonadora did, I put an asterisk * next to things that I have no idea what the heck it is. I also italicized stuff (instead of crossing out, as I am not sure what the html code is to do a strikeout and blogger seems not to have this feature) I refuse to eat (even though I may have had it in the past, which explains why I refuse to eat it in the future).

Ah, this was a nice break which saved me from having to come up with another boring wine review.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp (if you transpose a couple of letters, I have had that several times like at Red Lobster)
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush (while listening to Baba O'Riley)
11. Calamari
12. Pho (no friend of mine.. I don't care for it)
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi *
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses *
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet Pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters (ugh..)
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda *
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi (I think Timmy and the ASPCA would have something to say about this one..)
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (Cognac, but not the fat cigar.. yuk.. unless Le Cigare Volant counts)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (not intentionally but as I have eaten in Chinese restaurants and fast food places this is probably a sure bet.. I won't bold it, though)
43. Phaal *
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin (was forced to do this by a client.. egads that is nasty)
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer *
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads (only King's Hawaiian.. I guess that don't count)
63. Kaolin * (Isn't that one of the trendy names people use for their designer babies these days?)
64. Currywurst *
65. Durian (is that like the music group Durian Durian?)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost *
75. Roadkill (again, I've eaten in Chinese restaurants but I haven't intentionally ordered this)
76. Baijiu *
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail (did this to win a bet for a bottle of beer.. would never do it again, though!)
79. Lapsang souchong *
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky (this is Sylvester Stallone eating Sweet and Sour pork - Rocky meets Pakkai)
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef (I guess the Kobe Burger at Tops Restaurant doesn't count)
86. Hare (nope, and no krishna either)
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa *
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

After looking at my results, I'd have to say I am not very adventurous. Or willing to spend a lot of money, either, as a few of the items are on the expensive side. And there's a lot of stuff I am not familiar with. There is also plenty of stuff I refuse to eat - mainly innards and strange creatures. I guess I am pretty much mainstream..

Have a nice weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

2002 Domaine aux Moines Savennières Roche aux Moines Cuvée des Nonnes Moelleux

Hey, how's that for a long title for this entry?

I've had dry versions of Savennières before, but this the first time I've tried one with noticeable residual sugar - it was definitely different from the stony, minerally ones of the past!

The color of this wine looked like a not-so-healthy urine sample - ewww. Amber, even orangeish, it matched the orange border on my box of Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal. But in the interests of winedom I drank it anyway.

This wine was one smorgasbord of fruit. Layers of ripe, honeyed apples, peaches, bananas, you name it, it seemed like it was there, held together by enough acidity to keep it from being cloying. The fruit was intense in this wine and it would make a great dessert.

$19.83 from Garagiste and most definitely worth it - two thumbs way up on this one.

Here's my YouTube music video match (click here if you don't see it below):

And the link to the CD on Amazon's site: Carole King - Living Room Tour

Or the DVD: Welcome to My Living Room

Monday, September 1, 2008

2005 Cameron Hughes Lot 34 Cabernet Sauvignon

This particular Lot from the popular line of Cameron Hughes wines comes from the Rutherford district of Napa. I purchased this one direct from Cameron Hughes for $14.00, although I saw it at several local Costco locations for $11.00.

On the first night, I sensed aromas of sauteed bell pepper and onions, mixed with some smoke and ground beef - a casserole in a glass! Tastewise I got graphite and dirt at the beginning, along with a meaty character so there was a rather odd combination of aromas and tastes. It took some air, but then cassis flavors emerged to balance things out.

On subsequent nights (from 187.5 ml bottles that I had poured from the main bottle), the character of the wine became more fruity but the bell pepper remained. It also got smoother and silkier. The tannins seem fairly well integrated and are not harsh at all.

The wine did evolve with air, mainly in that the fruit component emerged and became more prominent although I wouldn't call this a fruity wine. It is more restrained. I never sensed any of that "Rutherford dust" character, either.

Overall I'd have to give this wine sideways thumbs. For the price it isn't bad, but I didn't feel it was anything special, either. Considering what most Rutherford cabs go for these days, this is on the low end of the price scale but like I said, there's nothing special about the wine inside the bottle.

Here's the matching YouTube video. Click here if you don't see it below.

And the usual link to the CD at Amazon.com: Blues Image

Friday, August 29, 2008

2003 Arger-Martucci Pinot Noir

I was surprised to see a Pinot Noir offered for $18.99, especially one from the Carneros region of the Napa Valley so I snapped this one up from Garagiste.

This one had nice, easily identifiable aromas of a Pinot Noir (easy for me to say since I knew what it was): cherry, strawberry, rose petals and spice. It was spicy on the palate with loads of smooth, viscous, ripe mouth-filling fruit and a bit of alcoholic heat. The aftertaste was lengthly.

This one in fact seemed a bit too viscous and full-bodied. It was tasty but lacked the silky finesse of a really good pinot noir and instead seemed on the weighty side. It tasted darker than the lightish color would suggest.

Was this just a ripe year? If so, the wine certainly reflected that. Ripe but still clean and not overripe. I liked it and am giving it two thumbs up especially for the price. It has the concentration and essence of pure fruit of a Burgundy from a good vintage, but can't match that silky, seemingly contradictory weightless texture and finesse that makes Burgundies so wonderful. However, we're talking $18.99 instead of $189.99 so I would say this wine delivers great QPR.

Here's the matching YouTube video. Click here if you don't see it below.

And the link to the Amazon CD product page: Spill the Wine

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

2006 Twisted Oak %@#$!

Not that long ago I had the 2005 version of this wine. It was a big, bold, mouthfilling experience. Good, but to tell you the truth, I thought I would try the 2006 relatively earlier in its life because I wanted something a little leaner, crisper and more youthful.

I think I caught this one just at the right time, although on the first night I wasn't sure. There were more of the bold, rich flavors of chocolate, caramel, sourish peach/apricot and relatively low acidity. It was similar to the 2005.

On subsequent nights, however, this wine really evolved into something very nice. The initial flavors from the 1st night were still there but blended in with apple, peach, melon, spice, brown sugar and minerals. And the acidity came more to the forefront to balance things out.

This was a really good wine - very flavorful and complex, never tiring to drink. The only negative was some heat from the alcohol but it was offset by all the flavors.

$19.20 directly from Twisted Oak, this one gets two thumbs way up. I thought this was a great bottle of wine. I may also be wrong about drinking it so young as it did keep evolving in the glass. Whatever.. it tastes great now.

Here's the matching YouTube video, which I think is particularly fitting. Click here if you can't see the video below.

And the usual link to the Amazon.com CD page: Allman Brothers - Elizabeth Reed

Monday, August 25, 2008

MonkuWino / One Wine Per Week Being Sued!

Breaking news: MonkuWino and his One Wine Per Week empire were notified yesterday that they have been named joint co-defendants in a suit brought by Consumers For Honesty Is The Best Policy (aka "CHIP") who claim the title of the blog is fraudulent and misleading.

Richard Owens, attorney for the plaintiff CHIP had this to say: "Look at the title of MonkuWino's blog. It clearly says "One Wine Per Week" yet, we have been tracking it for some time now and have noticed that he has been writing about more than one wine during any given seven day period. To call a blog 'One Wine Per Week' when actually writing about two, three or more is clearly misrepresentation and we want it stopped."

Along with CHIP, this reporter has learned that bandwagon similar suits have been filed by PETA and Ralph Nadar.

When pressed for comment, MonkuWino responded: "This is an egregious act of overkill on the part of some overzealous people who have nothing better to do. Look at their own name: how can Consumers For Honesty Is The Best Policy" be shortened to an acronym like 'CHIP' when they leave out letters? Sounds pretty dishonest to me."

Mr. Owens stated that CHIP will be satisfied if MonkuWino agrees to change the name of the blog to 'Some Wine(s) Per Week' or, 'One Wine Per Time Period.' "That would be entirely accurate," said Owens, "rather than this terrible way of misleading the public."

MonkuWino replied that the first amendment guarantees his right to lie and cited the entire population of politicians and attorneys, and said he intends to have the ACLU represent him in this matter. "At least the ACLU has an accurate acronym," said MonkuWino, LOL.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Weekend Wine Break - Homegirl Cafe Review

Today's post is wine-free. The Mrs. and I ate lunch at a place that I felt was worth mentioning on the blog so here's a special weekend edition of One Wine Per Week.

Homegirl Cafe is a part of Homeboy Industries. Their Mission Statement explains them very well:

Jobs not Jails: Homeboy Industries assists at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education.

The t-shirts worn by the servers adds to that with the motto displayed on the back: Nothing stops a bullet like a job.

The staff of Homegirl is, as you might expect, exclusively women. Young women, presumably of the type addressed by the mission statement, i.e., at risk and formerly gang-involved youth. They all seem to enjoy what they're doing and were working hard at it when we visited.

The place serves breakfast and lunch. We got there around noon, too late for breakfast. There's a lot of interesting things on the menu, far from your ordinary, run-of-the-mill Mexican restaurant. Perhaps some of the combination of ingredients are a bit stretched but hey, it shows that someone is thinking beyond the taco/enchilada paradigm and you have to give them kudos for that. Rather than post a picture of the menu, you can click here for a link to the menu page on their web site.

The restaurant is housed in a new building, occupying part of the first floor of the Homeboy Industries headquarters. Both the exterior and interior are attractive. The interior feels comforable and is decorated in a modern, clean style with lots of artwork adorning the walls. The tables are spaced far enough apart and there is abundant window space to give it an airy feeling.

A complimentary basket of black and white corn tortilla chips and mild salsa comes to the table first. The chips and salsa were good but nothing extraordinary. They were fresh and warm, though.

My wife ordered the half-sandwich and half-salad combo. The sandwich was "YuYu's" turkey with mango and chipotle; the salad had a lot of ingredients in it, including mango and jicama. She liked it and it was filling.

I opted to order a couple of tacos. One had salmon with jalapeno pesto and pico de gallo. The other had tofu chorizo with potatoes and a creamy salsa. Our server said she personally liked the tofu chorizo so I went ahead and ordered it and was glad I did. It actually tasted like and had the consistency of chorizo and I'm sure it was a lot healthier for me than the real thing. The salmon taco was also pretty tasty. Along with this I ordered a side of arroz verde (green rice) that was good as well.

I would suggest viewing the online menu so you can see for yourself what an interesting variety they have. Homegirl is located at 130 West Bruno Street, Los Angeles 90012. It's at the corner of Bruno and Alameda, near Chinatown and just a couple of blocks north of the more famous Phillipes.

As we sat in the half-full room, I kept thnking what a shame it was that Phillipes was overflowing with people while this deserving place had so many empty tables. I know they are two different types of cuisine but if you ask me, Homegirl has the more interesting menu and the decor beats Phillipes by a mile. I just feel that what Homegirl, and the parent Homeboy are trying to accomplish is very admirable and I wish them the best of success. I give the restaurant two thumbs up (they're only open for breakfast and lunch, by the way).

Here's some pictures:

If you happen to be anywhere near that part of town, by all means stop in!

Friday, August 22, 2008

2006 Château Courtinat Tradition

The Gamay grapes that went into this wine hail from the St. Porcain region of France.

In the glass, it had a lighter, translucent color. Light in body as well, it had natural, slightly tart berry fruit backed by lemony acidity. Although light, it didn't lack for purity or concentration. I also got a sense of oregano and savory meatloaf in the finish, which might sound weird but I'm just the messenger here. There was also a nice mineral component.

Overall, this $12.84 bottle of wine from Garagiste is ready to drink now and is something to choose when looking for a lighter, primarily berry fruit style that tastes natural.

It gets two thumbs up for a good QPR.

Here's the matching YouTube music video, which, as always, you can click here if you don't see it below.

Link to the Amazon.com web page for the CD: Pablo Cruise - A Place in the Sun

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Medals and Points

One of the controversies at this year's Olympics is over medal counts. Are the medal rankings by country supposed to be based on total medals won (gold, silver and bronze) or solely on gold medals?

If you go by total medals, then the United States is in the lead but if you go by gold medals only, then that puts China into the lead.

It seems like most of the world is leaning towards emphasizing the gold. Winning is all-important and the also-rans, well, they're merely also-rans. Go for the gold because anything less doesn't count.

Is this Olympic competition situation any different from the wine world?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wine Scandal at the Summer Olympics

First it was the lip-synching incident that marred the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. It was revealed that the 9-year-old girl who apparently sang a patriotic song during the ceremonies was in fact lip synching the vocals that really were done by a 7-year-old. Because the 9-year-old was deemed more attractive and a "better actress," she got the exposure while her counterpart stood backstage.

Now another investigation has disclosed that the magnificent wine served to members of the ruling party and foreign dignitaries at the opening banquet (shown pictured above), whose label translates as "Most Auspicious Good Fortune Wine of Character Vintage 1888," was really 1958 Chateau Latour (pictured below).

Chinese officials explained it as follows:

As you can see, the Chateau Latour comes in a very plain bottle. The wine inside is most magnificent but the bottle is not. Therefore we presented the wine in a container more fitting of its regal status and that way the outside is as magnificent as the inside. Because we have more gold medals than anyone, I believe we are justified in doing this, am I correct?

The British media has been especially critical of Chinese practices during the events, slamming them for the switch of the girl singers, use of fake digitized fireworks, and now the wine switcheroo. A prominent journalist, under condition of anonymity, disclosed to this reporter that the Chinese have discovered a way to transfer the soul of a 22 year old girl into the body of a 10 year old to achieve the most efficient combination of experience and physical agility for their women gymnastics team. A Chinese official defended this practice as well, saying that the average of the two ages equals 16 years, which meets the requirements of the Olympic rules and regulations.