Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dom Perrion Gift Box - Expense it

The best way to say thanks at years end is with a bottle of Champagne. So why not thank those you know with a Dom Perrion Gift box. Take it from me, I know the power of the gift.

When you're self-employed, it's a ride of boom and bust. The better you get at your craft the smoother the sailing. For my part as a writer the sailing is well,... let's just say I write my own blog. Take that as you will, the point is it's Christmas time, the season of giving. The gifts you give have meaning, if not power.

As I'm reading my list of gifts:
Special Lady Friend
Bla bla bla bla

I suddenly realized my expenses have shot way up. Every penny I thought was spare has just been spent. So knowing it's almost time to make my New Year's wine order, naturally I'm thinking about what I should be drinking for the new year. Taking into acount the storms on next year's horizon, (not to mention the bills I know have to get paid) I realized it's great to celebrate, however as a business I need to keep my cost down. Perhaps the gift to myself should be a bit more conservative. I'm just a bill. So why not order a Dom Perrion Gift box, it's a reasonable exspense.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Just Drink It

This year when I finally snapped out of the holiday emotional purgatory I was holding a bottle of Columbia winery Syrah 2003 in my right and a bottle of Lindemans Bin 99 Pinot Noir 2006 in my left. Can you believe I was debating which wine to drink?

The funny thing about the moment was the selection of wines that I had passed, I've never felt like such a wine snob. Other than the bottle I brought, A-Mano Primitivo 2003, the wines left on the table were an interesting selection of personality but definitely lacking quality. I learned long ago, you can’t judge a book only by its cover. Figuring it would be poor form to drink the entire bottle of wine that I brought I turned to the two bottles previously mentioned, as the only options suitable for my consumption.

Lindemans, a fine Australian import that for the price, can suits ones needs. And let me just say it is a “very affordable” wine. I’m sure the gifter was pleased to find a Pinot Noir at such a low price. Pinot’s popularity and thus the rise in price seems to continue thanks to a certain movie. (It’s funny to see what advice people will follow blindly.) I was confident the Lindemans Bin 99 Pinot Noir 2006 would be fine.

In the other hand was a Washington Syrah, one of the best grapes grown in Washington state. Though I’d argue that Columbia winery makes a better Cabernet than Syrah, the Columbia winery Syrah 2003 is perfect for a holiday party. (I know the gifter of this wine would agree, since I saw her stash the bottle for herself once it got down to the last glass.)

I looked about the room and laughed at myself, who cares which wine I choose. Surely I’ll be back to try the other. In fact, I sampled quite few wines on that table. When it comes to the holidays there is plenty of time to find joy. I just need to relax and stop worrying about finding the perfect thing. Instead, I just enjoyed what life threw my way. Turns out, any wine can be a great wine, when you allow yourself to enjoy the experience.

Monday, November 06, 2006

My Candidate of Change - Glen Carlou Grand Classique 2002

When asked which winemaking region to watch, I reply, “South African wine is the next big thing.” Sure, the safer bet is Spanish wine, but who has time for the safe bet. True reward comes from standing up for what you believe, even if that means taking a risk. And though Spain is gaining popularity with those that like to travel and thus is gaining popularity among “wine tourists”, drinkers of wine will note that Spanish wine still has plenty of room for improvement. Not to say there aren’t great Spanish wines to be had. Rather, in my opinion, in the last 10 years no nation has improved their image and their wine as much as South Africa.

Glen Carlou Grand Classique 2002 is a perfect example of the quality wines South Africa has to offer. A classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Grand Classique opens with intriguing aromas of clove, sandalwood and fresh blackcurrant that are followed by a velvety smooth palate brimming with ripe berry fruit and well supported by supple tannins on gentle oak.

Of course listening to my opinion is just as silly as listen to those that will handy cap midterm elections. My guess is as good as theirs, but never the less it is only a guess, educated as is maybe. The future is for the people to decide and even a fortune teller can’t always be sure how the public will choose to speak out.

So while we wait for the passing of time to reveal our fate, I’ll continue to enjoy my bottle of Glen Carlou Grand Classique 2002. Don’t worry though, “I told you so” is such a cliché thing to say. I prefer a simple wink, a sly smile and the knowing statement “cheers.” Even when you are lucky enough to see the future their is no reason to brag, your time is best spent enjoying the wine.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bow Down to Washington - Wines and All

"Hello Dawg Fans",..."Hello Lou" we reply. It's homecoming week! And for those celebrating it around the country, it’s time to give in to the fun, soak up every moment of the festivities and recall how it was in your day; the pre-game rituals, the sound of the crowd, the smell of the barbeque, the noise of the pack stadium, the scent of beer on your breath. Yes, college was a time full of good and bad, so why not enjoy this one day a year when you can actually return to your home.

As a Dawg fan I plan to pack the House that James built. On the way to my seats I'll touch the 91 plaque and remember one of the toughest team to ever play the game. Next, I’ll enjoy a good laugh, remembering all the talk before Whammy in Miami. (By the way we still want those rings Dwayne.) It was after that game we started holding up four fingers at the end of the third quarter. (But I don't know why the rest of ya'lll do it around the country.) Once at my seats I'll give in to the stadium, becoming part of the infamous crowd who’s deafening cheers rain down on the players,..."GOOoooooo!,.......HUssKiessssss,....GOOOooo!,.....HUSsKIesssss!." At the half I’ll likely miss the homecoming court presentation and sadly the hall of fame inductees, (If ever a dawg deserved a ring) you'll find me enjoying a fine Washington wine at the tailgate. But surely I'll be back to my seats in time to catch the Husky Legend before the forth quarter. And soon another Homecoming will have come and gone. But before it’s over make sure to stop by our tailgate and celebrate 80 years. Just make sure to wear some purple and bring something good to drink.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Sweet Sound - Geyser Peak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

When I first started experimenting with wine, the world was a much simpler place and it seemed we had more time for simpler pleasures. Thinking back on those carefree times always brings a warm smile to my face. One activity that I dearly miss is grabbing a bottle wine (Geyser Peak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a personal favorite of the era) and making my way over to the sound garden.

There on cool summer nights, a steady breeze could awaken a concert of sound, that coupled with a fine wine would intoxicate the senses. Alone or with friends the power in that moment would transcend the present, creating a trance like state were in my mind I could explore the beautiful possibilities of tomorrow. It was and still is in my memory a place of peaceful harmony.

However, thanks to Homeland Security, the Patriot Act and other post 911 changes the sound garden has been closed to the public. Though I was disappointed, at the time I understood because the sound garden resides on land owned by NOAA, a government organization. And as we all know after 911 all government facilities needed to be secured.

Now that times has passed questions have grown in my heads as to why NOAA needed to be protected from terrorist. Perhaps, if those evil doers did stumbled upon the sound garden they too would be soothed by its charms. Sadly though I’ve come to the conclusion that the current administration didn’t care about a terrorist treat, it was me they didn’t want accessing NOAA land. Though people thought I was crazy current events support my thinking. It makes me wonder what other “crazy people” might actually know.

For now, I’ll revisit simpler times, enjoying a bottle of Geyser Peak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, and think positively about the future.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Vote to Enjoy a Glass of Francis Coppola Diamond Merlot 2004

November is almost upon us, time once again to vote. So weather you call, email or work a phone bank for your favorite candidate of change; make sure you remind everyone you know to get out and vote. Don't tell people to vote because it’s their civic duty, (nobody wants to think they have more work to do) remind them to vote because the voting process brings the community together.

When I was a kid I loved the energy at the polling place. We'd see all the neighbors, new and old. My parents would take time to chat with everyone there. If we ran into the old lady from next door she always give me a piece of candy from her purse. Sometimes I'd wait out front, playing with the pets who's owners where busy inside. Other times one of my parents would take me in the voting booth and actually let me pull the lever, showing me how I might vote someday. The grandness of that small event always made me feel like a piece of a special process. Wearing the little "I voted" sticker on the walk home always filled me with pride.

Unfortunately, these days that sticker doesn't seem to embody the same prestige. Like many people I don't even go to the polling station anymore, instead choosing to vote absentee. I miss my neighbors, their pets and the candy. But more than that, the older I get the smaller my vote seems. Some of what I read makes me wonder if my vote even counts. Voting can feel like a chore that won't hurt anybody if left undone. You are not alone, many of us have lost faith in what use to matter.

When I think back to what people here and around the world went through to get a vote I'm reminded how sacred the right to vote is. I urge you, talk with your friends, your neighbors or even strangers. Invite people out to celebrate their vote. That small act is part of the the history that made this country great. Maybe over the generations we forget, but when you talk to an immigrant like my father they remind us that through voting we can have a peaceful transfer of power in this country.

I plan to celebrate my vote over a glass of Francis Coppola Diamond Merlot 2004, more than the wine's great taste I like the "blue" label. I hope you too choose to celebrate your vote. If you wear your sticker I’ll be happy to pour you a glass.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Found: One Muse. Where: in glass of Amisfield Sauvignon Blanc.

Summer is over and what do I have to show for it? Apparently a blog doesn’t write itself nor does a writer blog when he’s too busy living, thus the life in this blog was lost in the search for the inspiration to write. Basically when you dance to close to your muse you risk being seduced by her charms and soon find yourself chasing that muse. For me that translated in a summer of stories but no desire to share them. Rather, my muse and I danced late into the summer nights, drunk on joy and full of great times.

But as the days shorten and the nights are much cooler I find myself and my muse settling back in to a healthier symbiotic relationship, once again inspired to share my stories of life, wine and levity.

Warming myself by a fire, Ibrahim Ferrer croons in the background; I pour myself a glass of Amisfield Sauvignon Blanc. All at once my muse is with me, and our stories from the summer past pour out as I drink her in.

The floral bouquet of Amisfield Sauvignon Blanc fills my nose reminding me of the joy, love and passion experienced at the many ending I endured this summer. In the height of wedding season I often find myself overwhelmed by the perpetual party that is weddings. However, given the time to reflect, like a good bouquet the lasting impression of a wedding brings a smile to one’s face.

The bright golden color in the glass brings me back to the long summer day spent worshiping the sun and hiding from the work day. For ever more Amisfield Sauvignon Blanc will be the color of enjoying life.

On the palate the full bodied and dry wine shows great intensity, much like the long bar nights where I discover new friends, balanced by a fruity, refreshing acidity finish. The flavor of old friends, some sweet and then at times bitter but always entertaining. For memories without ones old friends might be pleasant but never lingering. Time spent with friends are the moments the last.

As I finish my glass I realize the summer has past and though I may not have shared the stories of a glories summer with you, thanks to my muse those stories will always be there for me to recall in a glass of Amisfield Sauvignon Blanc.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

If A Friend Must Die, Enjoy Good Wine - Penfolds

The current box-office hit teen comedy is John Tucker Must Die. But for me, see this movie would be a waste of 8 bucks on a Thursday afternoon. I’ll see this drama play out this weekend.

Sometimes in life of friend of your will get themselves in over their head, trying to bite off more than they can chew. And when it is women his it trying to chew on, it always come bite him back, usually in a public place. In my case, my friends undoing will be at party. So as a good friend I need to ask myself, how should I haddle this situation. In short, what type of wine should I bring to the party.

A box of Franzia could help move the festivities along nicely. The Chardonnay is an excellent, dry California white wine with apple and pear flavor. When pour from the box this semi-dry and medium bodied wine exudes a crisp and clean wine finish, all the while packing a sweet little punch. Chairs should be flying in my friends direction in no time. For most this is a safe route.

However, my taste is a bit more refined. I’d rather linger in the romance of a moment that a great wine can help create. That’s why I’ll be sipping on Penfolds RWT Shiraz. This wine is not for use by children. Mouthfilling and expansive, yet at the same time contained and tightly structured. Penfolds RWT Shiraz is bigger and richer than the cues afforded by the nose, and undeniably assertive and defined. This generously flavored wine opens with dark berry fruit, with a touch of spice followed by ripe and rich tannins. Layered, long and luscious with excellent aging potential, Penfolds RWT Shiraz is a wine to be enjoyed.

And enjoying this weekend promises to be. While teens flock to movies in hopes of catching a hilarious drama unfold on the big screen (better bring the Franzia box), with popcorn in hand. I’ll be watching the real thing play out with a new good friend by my side.

Friday, July 21, 2006

All the Elements for a Great Day

Needing a break yesterday I sat down for some lunch and later discovered I real treat. Though a replay of stage 17 of the Tour de France was playing in the background, my focus was on a glass of Artesa Elements 2001. I had mostly given up on the tour after team Discovery (Lance's old US Postal team) had conceded defeat and Floyd Landis (the top American) had fallen behind by 8 minutes after stage 16. It seemed that once again America would come up short on the international sporting stage.

Lucky for me Artesa Elements 2001 was a wine worth enjoying. The wine is a wonderful blend exhibiting lively black fruit flavors. Supple and spicy, the wine finishes with hints of mint, cinnamon, oregano and some say camp fires. (But I'd argue its a smoky oakish flavor.) As I sat there sipping my wine I realized Floyd was making a move. (I wish I could say I realized this was a specail moment not to be missed, but in truth I thought, hey this is a good enough excuse to enjoy a second glass.)

In a brash American style Floyd raced up and down the mountainous stage 17 on a defiant solo mission to prove one bad day does not define a man. I was rivited to this replay. Though the results could have easily been obtained on the internet, I was able to enjoy the moment as if it where a live event. As Floyd continued to chop into the Yellow Jersey's lead, down to 7 minutes, then 6 and half, then only 5, then 3, can you believe it down to 2 minutes; the bottle of California blend emptied, my buzz grew and I began to cheer at the TV. Come on Floyd!

Suddenly, I have a new appreciation for the Tour. To be in road side in France with a bottle of wine in hand as cyclist fly past sounds heavenly.

In the end Floyd fought all the way back to only 30 seconds off the lead, which many are calling the greatest performance in the Tour ever. I polished off a bottle of wine for lunch which is no small feat either. And after today only 30 seconds, the stage 19 time trail and the final stage 20 ride into Paris seperate Floyd from Yellow. Firmly back on the band wagon I'm left to ponder what should I do in a show of support.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fine French Whine

One simple act can spoil a legacy. Sadly France fans, no amount of aging will soften the bitterness of that moment. Instead, while all of Italy enjoys the sweet taste of victory, the French are left with only thoughts of what could have been. Don't fret Les Bleus, you still have your memories of the 98 World Cup in France. I suggest grabbing a bottle of fine wine from 1998. Sip it slowly, allowing it to help you recall happier times. There is no hurry, we all have until 2010 to enjoy this fine French Whine. See you in South Africa.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Oooo, Aaaah, Wine

Happy 230th America, I enjoyed the party and lots of great wine.

Now it's time to get back to work restocking my empty wine cellar.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

No More Crissy to Make You Pissy - Drink Deutz

Lovely ladies, lots of bling and copious amounts of Cristal, use to be the classic signs of the hip-hop high roller. And why not, Cristal has all the trappings of elegance. In the glass the wine reveals a lustrous amber yellow color with an exuberant bouquet of ripe fruit and toasted wooded notes, complemented by a classy, well bodied palate with a long persistent finish. A beverage recognizable from across the room. Of course those in the know saw Cristal more as a mixer, adding it to equal parts of Alize over ice to create the smooth and refreshing beverage known as Thug Passion. For those not in the know listen to Tupac’s All Eyez on Me disc 2 track 6 for tasting notes.

Until recently there was no substitute for the Cristal experience. However that all changed when Jay-Z got hold of his subscription of the Economist. An interview with Frederic Rouzaud, the managing director of Louis Roederer, Cristal's parent company, left such a bad taste in Jay-Z mouth that no amount of Cristal could wash the taint away. Thus Jay-Z is calling for a boycott of Cristal, vowing to keep it out of his clubs and personal life.

This is drastic news for young playas hoping to impress the ladies. How now are you supposed to exude flair and refinement: Dom P, Krug or Cooks? No, the true baller will reach for Deutz.

Duetz Brut Classic greets the nose with floral aromas, toasted notes and ripe white fruit. On the palate the freshness of the chardonnay grape, the power of pinot noir and the suppleness of pinot meunier, bring together in an elegant ensemble perfect for blending with a fine bottle of Alize. At less than half Cristal’s price there is plenty of money left over to upgrade your bling.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Buy a Rolling Stone and Put it on Ebay!

In our world of abundance it can be difficult to discern what is quality in all the quantity. Most of the time basic economics dictates where the quality lies. Think supply verse demand. In theory quality products are automatically more expensive. Of course there are ample examples where this theory fails. Just as some things are over priced, others can be under valued. A whole art form has evolved around understanding price in relation to value. In every industry these people are called collectors. Given time, a good collector is rewarded for their investment.

Wine has long had collectors. These are people often thought of as obsessed with wine, they can’t get enough. More accurately though the wine collector shares the same qualities found in collectors from other industries. No, not a crazy fetish gene, (though I’m sure the human genome project will soon show evidence that a hording gene exists) collectors are driven by discovering something before its value has peaked.

The best way to understand the rush of collecting is by starting a collection. I started with a bottle of Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh of the shelf Frog’s Leap is a quality organic wine. This California Cabernet Sauvignon opens with aromas of minerals and spice. In the glass flavors of blackberry, pepper and vanilla pick up as the wine builds to a lush mid-palate which eventually gives way to a long clean finish with soft resolved tannins.

Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent wine, ready to be enjoyed. With age however, these flavors only seemed to intensify. Allowing for even softer tannins and more complex mid-palate flavors.

As with anything of quality, time allows the true beauty to shine through. In our busy world it is hard to always see quality in the moment. Collectors help grab moments of history for us so we can revisit greatness years later. With fresh eyes we can re-evaluate the collectible to discover how true quality holds up. For Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon I’d say it held up extremely well. When ever a $30 bottle of wine drinks like a $130 bottle, it’s a worthy investment.

If you’re the sort that likes to collect I strongly suggest Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 and the current issue of Rolling Stone. The wine will drink great especially given 5 years cellaring. The Rolling Stone should increase in value over the next 25 years. Kennedy Jr’s article will be remember for bringing the magazine back to its roots. Finally, Rolling Stone is more than a pop culture icon from years past; it is one again the magazine that represents the voice of a disgruntled generation. In the comming years I bet the June 2006 issue will fetch a nice price on Ebay. The truth about election fixing will eventually shine through. Until then, I'll need another glass of wine.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Every Wine Needs A Bachelor - Ask Firestone

The enjoyment of wine is truly a love affair. To fully appreciate it one should treat wine as if it is a woman. From the moment her label catches your eye, to the manner by which you get to the juice, wine should be romanced. Unlike cracking open another brew, wine has a delicate ritual which builds the anticipation. The romance only grows once wine enters the glass. We don’t shoot, or pound or shotgun wine. No, like courting a woman we take a moment to drink her in mentally. We, see, swirl and smell, pausing to enjoy all she has to offer, and only then do we attempt our first sip.

In fact, the whole yin vs. yang, male vs. female sense of the word, wine is definitely a she, (Beer is a man as wine is a woman and hard alcohol is bisexual but that is a whole other story) and why not, the sensibilities of wine are best described as feminine. Women and wine have much in common, and in fact women love wine. More than fifty percent of all wine drinkers are woman. Marketers know this and many try to build their wine’s image with women in mind. One of the most widely known attempts was the Bachelor.

The advent of Reality TV brought us faux realities which draw on our deep desires, a marketers dream. One such reality was the Bachelor, a show driven by the Disney sensibility of finding prince charming (It’s no wonder ABC broadcast the show). In the second season ABC smartly merged feminine desire with feminine sensibilities in the wine producing Bachelor, Andrew Firestone.

Suddenly Firestone was more than tires, it was wine, and a little known winery placed its name in the nation’s conscious. Firestone is a good little winery; they make a great Estate Sauvignon Blanc. Located in Santa Ynez Valley, the growing conditions are optimal for showcasing the varietal's bright, expressive character. Firestone Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2005 begins with striking aromas of passion fruit, kiwi and lemongrass. Crisp flavors of grapefruit zest and guava unfold with appealing mineral accents. A clean, focused texture joins firm acidity for a long, quenching finish.

Firestone was able to embrace the feminine spirit of wine and pair that with feminine desires to create a way for their wine to stand-out from all the other labels. Still, it is important to remember that it was more marketing than wine making that made the Firestone winery name. I'm sure the Celebrity of it all had something to do with it as well. For my money though it isn’t how she’s dressed or what others think about her, wine appreciation is not a pageant it is something more personal. The only thing that matters with wine and women is what’s inside. So take some time to find "your" great wine. Every wine deserves a bachelor to sing her praises.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Malbec – The Beauty of Immigration

Somewhere between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot you will find the varietal known as Malbec. One of the five grapes used in the blending of French Bordeaux wines, Malbec is known in France by many names, Auxerrois, Cot or Pressac to name a few. Plagued by weather related problems, Malbec in France has slowly faded into obscurity. The grape may have remained a varietal only for blending if not for immigration. Luckily in the mid-19th century, with the help of Frenchman Michel Pouget, a change of scenery altered the fate of Malbec.

Immigrating to Argentina was the prefect move for Malbec. By the end of the 20th century, the mountainous region of Mendoza became the Mecca of premium Malbec wines. High altitude, pure air and intense sunlight allowed for intense ripening, while cool nights allowed the Malbec grapes to retain sufficient acidity. The result is big, rich and deeply flavored wine balanced by rounded and luxurious texture. Unlike its French cousin the new more Argentinean Malbec juice ages well allowing for subtle intricacies to develop with time. Finished wines are sufficiently rich, able to stand up to red meat dishes, but soft enough to work with pork, veal or grilled fish.

Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon President’s Blend Malbec is a fine example of premium Malbec at an affordable price. The wines name refers to Argentinean President Juan Domingo Peron, husband to the beloved Evita. Annually this wine lives up to its big name billing. The 2003 President’s Blend is a deep red wine with purple hues. Rich and opulent this heady wine if full of fruit, the perfect guest for your next barbeque.

Immigration is always a charged debate. People often question what will happen when a forgien species is introduced into a new environment. The answers are of course not simple. However, at times the melding of two cultures can produce glorious results. Sometimes a new experience is all it takes for the ordinary to become extrodinary. Thus I propose a toast to Malbec and all immigrants that felt unwanted, through determination and a refusal to be ignored they eventully became majestic.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hogue Cellars Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - A Strange Brew

Wine has become so popular that people are willing to pull all types of scams just to get another bottle. Recently I heard a story that sounded like a scam first attempted in a movie. As the story goes, the person opened their bottle of Hogue Cellars Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 to discover a high amount of sediment inside. We’re not talking about residue left in the glass; apparently they found a whole stem in the bottle. Now, this is no mouse in the beer bottle, but more than one would expect.

Traditionally, Hogue Cellars Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 is described as having a warm raspberry and cherry fruit core with highlights of black olive, nutmeg, tobacco, vanilla, and coffee bean. It is well structured but not tannic. A well-rounded Washington Cabernet with good acidity and great length. However, my guess is the bottle in question was a bit more tannicy than usual with a high amount of earthiness.

Should you find a stem in your bottle the only reasonable thing to do is take it back to the winery. Everything workout for Bob and Doug. Who knows, perhaps when Hogue change the label with this vintage they wanted to do something special. The stem could represents a golden ticket. A free winery tour with Johnny Depp wouldn’t be bad. (Though I would prefer Gene Wilder) In any case the worst thing that could happen is they tell you to “takeoff hoser”. At which time you could try the story elsewhere, there are plenty of wineries in the neighborhood, eh.

Friday, May 19, 2006

High Score - Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Riserva

American’s love to have their information quantified, streamlined and rated. Is it laziness? A lack of time? Or something else all together. I’m not sure, but clearly we love to have “experts” tell us what is best for America. Annually we track the Fortune 500, the 50 most beautiful people, top10 plays of the year and the list goes on. But our lists don’t stop there, constantly we have our information spoon-feed. Apparently we don’t want to figure things out on our own. My favorite is Yahoo!’s headlines; as long as you follow Yahoo!’s headlines you can engage in any cocktail conversation.

Wine too has its rating system, the Wine Spectator scores being the most popular. Scores do have value. However scores lose their affect when people become slaves to the score. All too often I hear people asking for wine with a score over 90 but nothing else. Wine is so much more than just a score, like life it is meant to be enjoyed. Remember, we all have our own opinions of enjoyment.

For example, Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Riserva is a great wine. In 2002 the wine was described as having pretty aromas of licorice, berry and lightly toasted oak. Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Riserva is full-bodied, with layers of fruit and silky tannins, followed by a Long finish. It was given a score of 90 by Wine Spectator.

However, when I drink Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Riserva, I taste much more. One sip and I remember the aromas of Florence, Italy on a warm May afternoon. The taste transports me back to the Palazzo Frescobaldi. As the flavors lingers, my memory strolls back toward the Ponte Vecchio. In my mind's eye, I cross over the bridge, pushing through the crowds that have gathered to take in the sparkle from the diamonds and gold. I make my way up the road until I reach the Piazza Della Repubblica. I find a seat at the base of the monument in the middle of the plaza. As the sun begins to set, a Tuscan band begins to play. Taken by the music, a couple begins to dance, I smile, what a beautiful glass of wine.

Wine is more than a beverage, great wine can transcend a meal, a moment or even a romantic day. With something so beautiful how can it be quantified by numbers alone. Be adventuresome, be willing to try something new, with wine you never know what favors might arise from the next glass.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Welcome to the Cheese Burger Challenge

If you happen to be one of those people that has to travels frequently for business you know the constant headache is always food. Finding a place worth the wait, convenient, reasonably priced, worth the effort, having edible food, bla bla bla… these are but a few of the many questions a business traveler faces each night on the road. In my experience the landscape surrounding business travel is often filled with big corporate box restaurants where profit far out ways taste. Thanks to this fact (or shall I say no thanks) I’ve eaten at more RUI establishments then I care to admit. Basically, when on the road get use to big chain restaurants.

This isn’t to say the food isn’t good (or should I say edible); rather the food is better described as nothing special. When I think about large corporate chain restaurants the words predictable, sterile, basic come to mind. In city after city across the US one can expect a consistent experience that at times makes it hard to remember where you are, much less where you are eating. In short, business travel become a monotonous task, void of the romance usually conquered up by the once beautiful word travel. It was this experience of forgettable food that led to the development of “The Cheese Burger Challenge”. If you can’t enjoy the food at least you can enjoy the wine.

The Cheese Burger Challenge is really quite simple. A cheese burger (the all American staple, rich in flavor and hard to screw-up) serves as home, our baseline. Basically it’s the constant that one can count on no matter where you find yourself, weahter on the road or in paradise. Please burger lovers don’t miss understand me, like any food there are glorious exceptions and I do have my personal favorite. But when in comes to bland box restaurants the cheese burger becomes the most bland. So to make the meal on the road exciting, I invite competitors to the challenge. Competitors comes in the form of two glass of hearty red wine. Bite for bite, sip for sip we compare which wine holds up against Americas most recognizable food. French, Italian, California, where ever, wines of any region are eligible to compete. You might be surprised how well wines pairs with a cheese burger and which wines varietals you end-up enjoy the most.

In my most recent competition, fate matched Crosspoint Pinot Noir vs. Concannon Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon. One of the great feature of the Cheese Burger Challenge is you are left to choose from only the wine carried by the restaurants. It’s always interesting to explore the cellars of these only for profit establishments.

Crosspoint Pinot Noir is characterized by aromas of cherry jam, rhubarb and stewed strawberries with a faint touch of sage underbrush spiciness. Overall it is a soft, fruit flavored, spicy wine. In contrast Concannon Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon is full bodied, rich and fruitful. The wine is a complex California Cabernet with black cherry and vanilla-oak flavors followed by a rich, smooth finish.

Overall each wine had its moment. Alone I felt the Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon would be more to my liking. However, in the context of the Cheese Burger Challenge I was surprised to find I enjoyed the Crosspoint Pinot Noir much more, which is exactly the point of the entire competition.

The Cheese Burger Challenge has nothing to do with measuring quality, developing ones palate or even taking wine serious. No, the Cheese Burger Challenge is only about entertainment, which is the reason we drink wine in the first place. Wine was created to bring enjoyment, no matter what the situation. The Cheese Burger Challenge is meant to bring wine back to its roots, enjoyment. So remember, don’t get too caught up in the formality of wine and which wine goes with what, and what occasion one can or can’t enjoy wine. Instead, relax; enjoy a glass of wine and laugh, because anyone who is eating a burger and drinking wine (much less two glasses) has plenty to laugh about.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Firesteed Pinot Noir – Believe the Pinot Hype?

I’m sure millions of Americans are geared up and ready for this weekends hotly anticipated release of Sony Picture’s RV the movie. While Sony is hyping this as a family classic, RV makers are hoping for a “Sideways” like impact. No, not a crash, though my guess is that anyone brave enough to sit through this movie will be praying for one to end the overdone, under funny family rode tripp’n high jinx adventure. Rather, what RV makers are hoping for is that Robin William, Jeff Daniels, Kristin Chenoweth, et all, will make RV vacation’s look and sound as funny as Pinot Noir looked after the movie Sideways. (Ah yes, the rant begins)

Before Miles, the wine hero of Sideways, ever proclaimed the importance of Pinot Noir the top selling wine in the US was Merlot, but oh how a movie can change the collective consciousness of Americans. Following the release of Sideways, everyone was eager to show off their price of admissions wine snoppery degree, turn up their nose at Merlot, and exclaim their long held irreverence for the amazing Pinot grape. (Especially anything grown in Sonoma, California) However, the truth was few had any interest in Pinot Noir prior to seeing the movie. Equally true, arguing the value of Pinot Noir over Merlot is a waste of time. If you like one you can appreciate the other. The only real question is do you enjoy the wine you have and did the person who made it know what they were doing. Any variety of wine can be great, but the important debate is can the wine get the job done.

If the job is pairing a wine with RV the movie in hopes to make that film palatable, I’d suggest copious amounts of Firesteed Pinot Noir. The people at the Firesteed winery in Oregon know what they are going. (Long before the current rush on Cali Pinots, Oregon was winning international awards) The winemakers at Firesteed have been creating a Pinot Noir that was so pleasing, reliable and reasonably priced that it was a sure bet for any restaurant menu. Firesteed Pinot Noir is a classic Pinot Noir with intermingled flavors of berries, vanilla and currants combined with soft tannins and a smooth finish. Though the price has gone up over the years due to the Pinot hype, the quality of the wine Firesteed produces remains constant.

Hype is generally based in some reality. Pinot Noir, RV’s and even Robin Williams all have valid reasons to be hyped. Yet, just as they all have a good side, each has its bad. Safe bets are Firesteed Pinot Noir, Airstreams and Good Will Hunting or Good Morning Vietnam. (note to self: only see Robin Williams movies with “good” in the title). Of course this is only my opinion, so feel free to believe the hype at your on risk. If you do take my advice, please let me know how the movie and the pinot paired, because you might find I’ll want something stiffer when I eventually watch RV the movie on DVD.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wine's Lesson Learned - Thanks Beer

Part Two of my wine labelling rant.

When I came of age in college (drinking age that is) it was during a revolution. I had a front row seat to history in the beer industry. It was the “age of microbrews”, and it seemed around every corner there was a new beer. Brewers had finally decided to challange the big three (Bud, Miller and Coors) for market share. Suddenly it seemed their was "choice" in the beer market. For my part, I (like many beer drinkers) enjoyed being introduced to all the new styles and flavors. Suddenly, there where tons of beer options with great sales to match. You could drink a different beer every night, and I often did. Marketing became so competative that a stranger once approached me in Safeway offering me five bucks to buy Black Star and share it with me freind. (I bet you can guess what beer we drank that evening.) The only real problem with so many drinking options is remembering which beers you like, especially the more you drink. And thus my loyalties, at least to the marketer, seemed driven on price alone.

In a price war however, volume and distribution create an advantage. We all know who wins that battle. The statistic I remember from the time was one in every five beers consumed in the US was a Bud. Not a combination of Bud labels, no just a regular red, white and blue labelled Bud. (That's a nice piece of market share). Quickly it was obvious to brewers that price along couldn’t win market loyalty. Ideas to combat Bud came and went as did beers. Each brewer slipped quietly back into their niche. A few however have had a lasting appeal, and they are remembered for the image they impressed upon us.

That my friends, is what we are seeing today in the wine industry. No its not a battle against a single wine empire, it a battle against wine's history and tradition. American once thought of wine as the beverage of the rich and stuffy, ie people who travel to France. In the 90’s however a couple things changed. One, thanks to the beer revolution we created a generation of drinkers who are willing to try new things and experience different tastes. Two, farmers in California, Washington and Oregon all started planting wine making grapes because it was a crop they could make money on. Quietly a glut of quality grapes entered the market. In the early 2000's these two factors reshaped the wine market thanks to old (notice I did not say good) “Two Buck Chuck”. The seeds of revolution finally matured and agian it was a battle started with price.

With so many wine making grapes available the company that owned Charles Shaw name made a crazy move. They decided to make a wine, that by industry standards of the day, was priced to be given away. But the funny thing is the world was surprised that Americans were willing to drink it. A new day suddenly dawned, wine drinker in the US.

Suddenly, the same revolution that once graced beer, exploded into the wine market, tons of choices and competative pricing. Beverage mongers that survived the beer revolution remember how to capitalize on this trend now that it moved into wine, price alone can’t sustain the consumer. Those sellers moved to mirror the Beers that made it big. Leave a lasting impression based on image, not necessarily substance. Welcome to the rise of the iconic, sexy, catchy wine label.

With such busy lives and so little time, it seems Americans only have time (or perhaps the attention span) for simple entertainment. Rather than savoring a wine and passing that knowledge on to a friend, we chose wine based on the label and how it fits our price range. The bigger the impression left in our mind by the label, the more likely we are to remember and talk fondly of that wine. Let’s be honest, most of us are not wine connoisseurs, nor do we aspire to be one. Rather, we simply want wine to enhance an experience, whatever that experience maybe. Often times a label can do that. (I know I’ve given wine as a gift because the recipants name was the same as the name on the label, and it made their day.)

On the surface this all seems harmless; some wine, an interesting label, and a few laughs. But then what?... life is to short for mediocre wine. The one thing I’ve learned is good wine takes time, not marketing. So treat yourself, take some time and find that good wine. Just remember, write the name down, because I willing to bet once you find that wine, it won’t have a memorable label.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Covey Run - The Safe Bet Wine

Gambling, also known by its friendlier name “gaming”, is a major industry in the United States. It’s hard these days to find a person who hasn’t gone to Vegas, where it is reported that over 86% of the visitors gambled during their stay. Of course you don’t have to travel to Nevada anymore to game. 48 of the 50 states currently have casinos. I believe it is Utah and Hawaii that don’t. All sell lottery tickets of some kind. And if you really are dying to gamble, it’s only a click away.

But for me, I get my fix of gaming in much simpler down to earth ways. First, its good to have a local bookie; keep your winnings and losings in the local economy. (Think globally, shop locally). Second, realize why you game. Things are more fun when you have something at stake. Third, everything in life has the potential to bet on. I once lost 20 bucks to my dad on the states governors’ race. (Tip: in an election never bet against a Bush, those races are fixed). And finally, you don’t need to go to Las Vegas to be entertained, every night out has gaming potential. Here are a few of my favorite games.

Game One: Guess the nationality of the cab driver. While waiting for a cab, bet your friends the cab driver’s nationality. This is much harder than it sounds, mostly because when people hear cab driver they automatically buy in to stereotypes. Don’t be fooled, people from all walks of life drive cabs and sometimes I need to look the country up after I hear the cabbies nationality. (This game is also a good way to learn geography.)

Game Two: Wager on Service. Lean into the bar and see which of your friends will get the bartender’s attention first. After you’ve played this game a few times you’ve notice the same person is always ordering the drinks. Eventually you’ll want to make this game more fair by placing different odds on people. (Tip: Women generally have better odds at being served then men do.)

Game Three: Name a wine on the wine list. This game takes trust. Dishonest friends will scout wine lists ahead of time. Be careful, but with people you trust this can become a fun game. (Well maybe only for us wine dorks, but if you're reading this blog that assumption is a safe bet.) A wine I find is a good bet is Covey Run. My favorite is the Quail label Cab Sauv.

Covey Run Quail Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 is a great wine, especially for the price. In the glass the wine is aromatic and deeply colored. The palette is fruity, with flavors of cherries and berries and hints of spice. This is a medium-bodied flavors Cab from Washington. The main reason you’ll find this wine in restaurants is it pair well with many meals. I like it with cheese burgers myself.

The most important thing however is don’t feel limited by the games you play. Remember, everything and anything can be wagered on. Gaming is only a problem when you can’t cover your loses. So make sure to have lots of bets going at all times so your winnings can cover your loses. Now if you’ll excuse me I have an Easter egg hunt to bet on. (Tip: smart money is on the pushy girl with pigtails.)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

American in Paris? - Nope, Just American Style

On the surface it would appear that the wine industry is suddenly throwing off the shackles of tradition and finally loosening up, allowing for amazing growth across the industry. I look around and it appears a whole new flood a wine labels are waiting for me. Catchy, silly, cute, iconic, sexy, new wine labels call out hoping to supplant themselves in our subconscious. Cline’s Red Truck should be given credit as one of the originals wines in this revolutionary moment. But Cline was not alone, Royal Bitch Merlot, Little Penguin wines, Marilynn Merlot (to name a few) all have relied on image to make their mark. At first, this was a movement about labels you would remember because of inside was a wine you didn’t want to forget. But as this moment grew it clearly became more about the label and less about the wine.

Now the French are getting into the act. You know it is serious when the tradition heavy, snooty French are willing to step off their self-made pedestal and compete for the wine market. Scarlet of Paris Pinot Noir 2004 is the first attempt by the French to capture this new "image" over "tradition" wine market.

Luckily, like many of firsts, Scarlet of Paris Pinot Noir 2004 has both a catchy label and a tasty wine to remember. It is a fragrant and earthy French wine, definitely rustic. Overall this wine is light and a very pleasantly fruity Pinot Noir. Most of all this is a French Pinot priced to sell. Definitely worth taking the time to try and if you like it, you’ll be happy it won’t break the bank to stock your cellar.

However, while Scarlet of Paris Pinot Noir 2004 is the latest hit in this new movement of appearance first and substance later, there are countless forgettable wines draped in “pretty labels”, after tasting one would be happy to forget. But before I ramble on about this topic I think I’ll take some time to enjoy a glass of Silver Oak and reflect on our recent past.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

From the “Watering Place” Comes Impressive Wine

The state of Washington continues to impress as its vines and wine grow and mature. When it comes to Washington state wines the most impressive growing regions is the American Viticultural Area (AVA) known as the Columbia valley, stretching across the state from the Canadian border to Oregon. Within the Columbia valley region, near the center, is a newly recognized AVA called the Wahluke Slope.

The Native Americans who first settled in the area referred to this region as "Wahluke" meaning "watering place". But to wine markers, this roughly 81,000-acre region features more than 20 vineyards, one winery and two wine production facilities, with plans for several new winery openings in the near future.

One of the new facilities currently under construction belongs to the Desert Wind winery. Since the early 1990's, the Fries and Jenkins families have been growing grapes and producing wines in the valleys of northern Oregon and the slopes of eastern Washington, with a total of 820 acres under cultivation. Both families are closely involved in every aspect of wine production ensuring the quality of their wines represents the passions of their family. They established the Desert Wind winery in 2001.

My first introduction the work of Desert Wind winery was an intense blend of reds called Ruah. The wine is a blend of Merlot (45%), Cabernet Sauvignon (29%) and Cabernet Franc (25%). Each variety is aged separately in oak for one year to allow each variety’s character to develop before the final blend. The blend is then aged an additional year to allow the components to meld completely. The resulting wine of intense fruit is elegant and complex. Dark and dense in the glass, the wine is spicy showing characteristics of toasted oak, herbal notes and plenty of fruit, backed up by a rich, heavily tannic finish.

Ruah is the Hebrew word for breath or spirit, or it can mean the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure the Desert Wind Ruah is quiet “holy” but for under $20 it is a wine I would be willing to enjoy again.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Wine in a crystal ball?

Nope, I'm not suggesting anyone drink wine from a crystal ball. But it wouldn't hurt to read this feature article from the Wine Enthusiast Magazine posted 21st of January 2006. This article written by Catharine Lowe, Anthony Rose is the closet thing I've got to predicting my future, since I can guarantee in the coming years I drink wine from the regions discussed. Never hurts to know what you are drinking. Read below and enjoy.

Next year will be the new 2005, that much we know. Straining to see into one's crystal ball can be as much of a mug's game as failing to notice the writing on the wall. No matter how hard you try to conjure up the future, divination has a habit in retrospect of coming back and biting you in the nether regions.

Forecasting, on the other hand, is an altogether more respectable pursuit and, unless you're Michael Fish, less likely to leave you with egg on your face. So, with a heightened chance of not falling completely flat on our face, let hindsight be our guide as we gaze into 2006.

The Sideways knock-on effect will continue to favour Pinot Noir over Merlot, with a positive impact on the 2004 Burgundy En primeur offers, which kick off in January. The vintage looks sufficiently interesting to spark off a lively campaign, especially in the case of Chablis, whose stars are likely to be Verget, Droin, Raveneau, Dauvissat, FÃvre and Billaud Simon. After Sideways, wine will again hit the big screen in the shape of Vineyards of Death, a low-budget mystery-cum-comedy shocker written and directed by George Boyce that takes place in the Finger Lakes, an area noted for fine Riesling and Cabernet Franc.

The waning popularity of Chardonnay and Merlot will...
[click here to read more]

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

In Search of the Grail – A Worthy California Chardonnay

For the last few weeks I have been in search of a California Chardonnay to get excited about. I had found many to be over oaked for my taste. It seemed that I all of California was against me, supplying no chardonnay’s worth uncorking. Yet I knew my “grail” was out there, I just wasn’t looking in any of the right places. Awaking one morning from what seemed a trance, I remember a winery that I’d always heard good things about but hadn’t yet sampled any of their wine. I knew then, I need to find a wine from Sonoma Cutrer, confident their expertise could quench my thirst.

Sonoma Cutrer Les Pierres Chardonnay was the answer I had been seeking. Crisp, clean and “Grand Cru” elegant, the wine seemed almost regal in the glass. Aromatic notes of fig, honey and hazelnut had me at hello. But as the wine maker puts it, “The surprising aroma of a spark of struck flint and crushed granite hint at the mineral notes which add layers of depth and interest to the wine.” From presentation alone I knew this was the wine that had launched my quest, which only made for greater anticipation of the tantalizing first sip.

In the mouth the wine has a generous, creamy feel, with a faint toasty/oaky character that gives way to an explosion of green apple, warm comforting bread crust and citrusy lime notes, finishing with more citrus zest. Or at least that is one way to describe the experience. To me it was pure pleasure in a glass. Relaxing with a glass of Sonoma Cutrer Les Pierres Chardonnay in hand makes one no longer the adventure in search of some truth, instead I find much more enjoyment in becoming the story teller, happy to share the wisdom I’ve gathered, or a glass of wine.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Franciscan Magnificat – A Magnificent Wine

Though the name doesn’t say it directly, the feeling is there. Franciscan Magnificat is a magnificent wine. But until you've tried the wine for yourself it is only a name, not nearly as sweet.

Franciscan Magnificat is one of the original California red table wines known as a Meritage. In fact legend has it that the term Meritage was coined by the Franciscan winery to describe the newly created blend of wines from their Napa Valley Estates. (Meritage rhymes with heritage). The wines creator, Andre Tchelistcheff, one of Napa Valley’s most famous winemakers, was inspired by the great Bordeaux wines. He felt that Franciscan’s Oakville Estates had what it took to produce a world class wine. Franciscan Magnificat is his proof.

For each vintage the Franciscan winery compose Magnificat, a red Meritage wine that best expresses the unique terroir of the Oakville Estate. Blending creates a harmonious wine which is ultimately more than each of its individual elements: Cabernet Sauvignon for structure, Merlot for suppleness, and Cabernet Franc for spice and aroma. Determining the exact composition of the final blend is an art form, making each vintage distinctive and unique.

The vintage I had the pleasure to sample was the 2001. Full, round, richly flavored and balanced. The wine has deep, ripe fruit characters with hints of vanilla and spice. It finishes with rich but soft tannins and sweet mouth feel from the oak. The harmonious blend and structured allow the wine to drink now or cellar for long aging. For me this is always a tough decision, a wine this enjoyable is hard not to drink. I guess that’s why cellars are in dark places, out of sight out of mind. But for now Franciscan Magnificat is top of mind so cheers to the next magnificent glass.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sagelands Merlot - Worth Every Penny

Though Pinot Noir seems to be the fashionable wine currently, the number one selling red varietals in the US is still Merlot. For producing domestic Merlots, the state to find them is Washington. A close cousin to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot thrives in slightly cooler conditions than its cousin, giving Washington State a natural growing advantage. While many fine Merlots are produced in the state of Washington, one producer year after year is mentioned by Wine Spectator for its flavor and value. After drinking Sagelands Merlot you’ll agree, the wine is worth every penny. So at ten bucks a bottle, Sagelands Merlot allow you to save money but still enough a quality bottle of wine.

Located in the "Four Corners" region of Washington State's Columbia Valley (Wahluke Slope, Horse Heaven Hills, Rattlesnake Hills and Walla Walla Valley) Sagelands vineyards have emerged as superb growing regions for both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Developing strong relationships with local growers and supervising the cultivation of its vineyard sources assures Sagelands Vineyard an outstanding palette of top quality grapes with which to create wines of impressive quality and value.

Wine making at Sagelands is managed by a native of Provence, France, named Frederique. She went to Perpignan University in southern France to study agriculture. While in college she began visiting wineries and discussing wine, and soon realized she could combine her two loves of farming and wine by becoming a winemaker. Frederique earned a degree in agronomy and then continued her studies in winemaking for two years at Toulouse University, , graduating "with distinction" in enology and viticulture

Frederique Spencer says one of the best things about her job is she's always trying to improve. "We're always trying something new in the vineyard to make the best wine," says Frederique. "And every year we learn something about winemaking. You never stop learning."
That desire to learn and improve has lead to the annual production of a consistently quality Merlot, the 2002 vintage is no exception. This bright garnet-color Merlot displays a vibrant nose of ripe Bing cherry and mixed berries with notes of violet and cocoa. This delicate and medium-bodied wine shows a great deal of flavors like Bing cherry, vanilla and a splash of blueberry. The palate is very soft and round thanks to fine tannins. The fruit expression lingers on a pleasing finish.

Sagelands Merlot is a perfect wine for any occasion. You really can’t go wrong with a wine recognized for quality and consistency, or when the varietal was grown in the best region of the country and depending on the season perhaps the world. But perhaps the best reason to have Sagelands Merlot on hand is the value, even if your guest aren’t wine lovers you won’t hesitate to open another bottle of this enjoyable wine, it’s easy to afford another bottle.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Prosecco - Italian for Bubbly

Something a little bubbly can be a nice way to round out a meal. While champagne can be nice, I prefer something slightly smoother and lighter. So for my dollar I prefer to quench my bubbly thirst with Italy’s answer to sparkling wines, Prosecco.

Prosecco is of course an excellent aperitif, but it functions as much more. For those in the know, ordering a bottle of Prosecco is instantly proclaiming, you are a person with international flair. Sure, champagne is great for celebrations. And of course if you want bubbles but need to save money there are domestic sparkling wines worth drinking. But if you want to impress, try something new or just want to appear more European, Prosecco is your new drink of choice.

Though many argue Prosecco is often a simple sparkling wine, it does like the domestic sparkling industry, have standout producers. One of the quality producers you can count on year after year is Bisol. If it is your first time experiencing this wine I suggest starting with a bottle of Bisol Crede Prosecco.

In the glass the wine is brilliant straw yellow accented by a parade of small, persistent bubbles. But it is the nose of the wine that grabs the imagination. Scents of wildflowers are intense and fresh, hinting at notes of fruitiness. So once you finally sip the wine the bouquet has already prepared you for the palate pleasing flavors of apple, citrus, and peach. Overall Bisol Crede Prosecco has a medium body wine with a clean, fresh finish.

If this is your first introduction to Prosecco I suggest you hurry out and sample a bottle. If you know about Prosecco but are yet to try it, I suggest you hurry out and sample a bottle. But if you’ve already experienced a nice glass of Prosecco, I say to you cheers, here’s to your next glass.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Wine Vacation – Explore Your Foreign Tongue

Like me, do you believe the best way to experience another culture is sampling foods and thus their wine? Do you also think that history is always more interesting and vivid over a glass of wine? And doesn’t the idea of sampling great wine all afternoon for free sound great? Well if you said yes to any one of these I’d say you’d better give the other activities a try. But if you are like me and said yes to all three, I’d say stop wasting your time, get out and enjoy a wine vacation. A vacation in wine country promises to be informative, relaxing and overall enjoyable time.

One need not plan an exotic vacation to enjoy wine country. Nor do you need to fly a great distance. Here in the United States we have some great wine regions that are very accessible and in fact cater to wine lovers that want to get away for a weekend or maybe even just a day trip. California, Oregon and Washington are the largest producers in the US and conversely have the best infrastructure to keep wine tourist happy. Of the three California is by far the largest and glitziest. Oregon in contrast is smaller with a more down home, with ex-hippy feel. While Washington might be the fastest growing, giving an excitement to the overall experience. All three however produce great domestic wines, making the experience at the very least a tasty endeavor.

While exotic and distant is not necessary for a great wine vacation, it is of course an option. For years Americans have made their way to the France and Italy to experience the magic of these regions. But these are not the only countries in the EU that have great wine traditions. Spain, German and Portugal (to name a few) have thriving wine industries which could make an excellent excuse to visit these countries. But why stop in Europe for a wine vacation. The southern hemisphere continues to grow and surprise the world with the quality wines they regularly produce.

Australia is of course the best know of these southern hemisphere producers. The coastal growing region of Australia promise more than just great wines. The island neighboring country of New Zealand too holds it own in wine should one feel the draw of down under. Of course staying slightly closer to the US vacationers can enjoy a more exotic experience. The mountain regions of both Chile and Argentina contain adventure, foreign culture and superior wine. Perhaps the most exotic and distant region an American could experience during a wine vacation would be the vineyards of South Africa. Big game parks, great white sharks and African culture help to make South Africa an intriguing destination for any adventures wine vacation.

This of course is only the surface of wine vacations. All across the globe there are wine regions to discover and explore. Close to home or far away a wine vacation promises to be fun. But for those of us who can’t get away just yet to the wine vacation of our desire, I settle for a good book about the area, a quality bottle of wine and my imagination. If you can’t enjoy the people, at least you can enjoy their wine.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Bearboat Pinot Noir - The Ultimate House Warming Gift

Since the beginning of homes, there has been a need for house warming parties, which means the need for a house warming gift. We all know that the best house warming gift of all time has always been wine. For some, picking the right wine can be difficult decision. Should you find yourself facing such a dilemma in the next few months I have the answer for you. You will always be invited back if you bring Bearboat Pinot Noir.

When bringing wine as a gift always keep in mind what the wine you choose says about you and your relationship with the gift receiver. Firstly, it is always good to know what type of wine the home owner drinks. If you don’t know, red is the safest choice. Secondly choose a varietal that the host will enjoy. Again if you don’t know the safest varietals have traditionally been Merlot or Cab Sauv, but now days the trending pick is a Pinot Noir, especially if it's a California Pinot. And finally you must consider price. If you by a wine that is too expensive you run the risk of it not being appreciated, but if you get a wine that is too cheap you could easily picking up a crappy wine. Although bad beer has its place, there is nothing worse than bad wine. (You do tend to get what you pay for.) So keeping all these factors in mind, Bearboat Pinot Noir is not only a safe choice it is an excellent choice.

I highly suggest Bearboat Pinot Noir beacuse for the value it is a tough wine to beat. While it is a trendy California wine that fits all the criteria for a great house warming gift, the most important fact is Bearboat Pinot Noir tastes great. In the glass it is a brilliant red wine with a sweet bouquet. Once in the mouth the wine is a pleasant balance between fresh berries and black licorice. The long finish helps keep the wine in the back of your mind, enticing you until your next sip. It is a true treat in a bottle. I highly suggest grabbing a bottle or two of Bearboat Pinot Noir. Even if there is no house warming on the horizon, you’ll find a reason to enjoy a bottle. And as long as you’re drink Bearboat Pinot Noir you and your friends will be happy.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Moscato d’Asti – the Italian Panty Dropper

Should you ever be in need of a wine that will not only impress but also heighten the sexual tension in a room, their really is nothing better than an Italian Moscato d’Asti. And for me Vietti Moscato d’Asti is the wine to choose. Affordable, reliable and tasty this is a beverage one can count on.

Italy's Moscato d'Asti will never be accused of being sophisticated. While some wines are meant to be sipped, reflected and discussed, the lightly sparkling d’Asti wine is meant to be consumed, in large mouthfuls. It is a style of wine intended for pure and simple pleasure. Beverages of this type (sweet, easy to drink and tasty) are often referred to as a panty dropper. It is not the thing guys drink during a football game, but rather what you pull out of the cellar when you want to share a special moment with intimate company.

Vietti Moscato d’Asti has a color somewhere between that of light straw and liquid gold. It is a light to medium bodied wine with flavors and aromas reminiscent of wild flowers, sweet spices and honey. The light sparkle of this wine is where the magic resides. I warn you it can at times be difficult to pull the cork due to the pressure build up within the bottle. However once the wine is open the pressure of every thing else fades away. Vietti Moscato d’Asti, like all Italian Moscato d’Asti’s is a wine not meant to take seriously but its power should never be taken lightly. I suggest finding some nice panties prior to sampling for the first time, because true to its reputation this wine allows your company a glimpse of your delicates once it works it magic causing your panties to drop.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

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Pinotage - South African wine can make any meal great

Last night I got home from work tired, uninspired and ready for dinner. In such a state cooking for one’s self is out of the question. Lacking motivation prevents one from going out to eat. So with options limited but hunger calling I did what many American would do, I ordered a pizza. But just because fatigue limits your ability to make a great meal doesn’t mean your meal can’t be great. For me one simple step help make my lazy meal into a memorable dinning experience. I popped open a bottle of Clos Malverne Pinotage and my cheap pizza transformed into a dinning experience.

Wine has a way of complementing food, this is not news. What some might find news worthy however is the idea that wine can complement any meal, from the candle lit dinner to (in my case) a box of delivery pizza in front of the TV. You just need to know what wines you like and not worry about the silly formalities people tend to place on that intimidating beverage.

For me wine and pizza is a great marriage, and like John and Yoko, Pinotage and pizza (though everyone may not agree) is the most romantic of marriages. Pinotage is a varietal only grown in South Africa. Because of this fact many people in the US have not yet been exposed to this tasty South African gem. It is however a medium-bodied, versatile wine that pairs well with all types of food, especially great with BBQ or in my opinion cheap pizza. But of course the best way to know what you think of this wine, is to try some Pinotage. Experiment, enjoy and get back to me, I’d love to know your thoughts on how a nice bottle of South Africa Pinotage made your drab meal into a party.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Oregon Pinot Noir – The Under Appreciated World Class Wine

Pinot Noir grapes are finally getting the attention it has long deserved. Though Pinot Noir is one of the oldest red wine varietals, dating back to Roman times, it has been under appreciated in the US as a red wine with complexity, depth and outstanding flavor. American’s had often passed over Pinot Noir for a glass of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. But the ranting in the movie “Sideways” has made many wine drinkers pause and reconsider pulling a bottle of Pinot Noir instead of their favorite Merlot. Yet, of those people who have give Pinots a try, few realize the best domestic Pinot Noir’s actually come from Oregon. With wines that rival the world class wineries of Burgundy, Oregon Pinot Noirs are worth taking the time to discover.

A great way to get to know any wine, be it the great Italian wines in Tuscany or the memorable wines of the Rhone, is to visit the region. Oregon’s Pinot Noir is no different, so the best place to discover a world class wine would be a trip to the Willamette Valley. A short drive from the metropolitan city of Portland, Oregon, one will find themselves in the heart of Oregon’s premier wine growing region. With well over 200 wineries, lodging and activities for all ages, wine enthusiasts of all ranges will discover an enjoyable adventure.

Upon tasting some of these wines I promise you will experience a lasting impression. First, you will be struck by intense aromas of ripe grape; that can range from vaguely pepperminty to black cherry. In the glass the Pinot Noir’s are a myriad of brilliant reds that can range to somewhat inky. These wines are often described as full bodied but not heavy. Rather Pinot Noir has a soft, velvety texture. When it is done right the wine feels like liquid silk which gently caresses the taste buds. Although Pinot Noir can be cellared for around six to eight years, it doesn’t necessarily need as much cellaring as some of the more tannic reds such as Cabernet.

If you don’t have time to visit the Willamette valley to sample wine, I suggest you at least take the time to bring at least one of Oregon’s Pinot Noirs home. With many great Oregon Pinot’s to try it can be difficult to know where to start. Of course at any wine store worth frequenting they will have few Oregon Pinot Noirs to suggest. If they don’t I recommend finding a new wine store. It’s time you did yourself a favor and begin your appreciation of the world class flavors of Oregon Pinot Noir.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Waterbrook Melange - Washington Red Wine to Kickstart a Happy New Year

The right wine will make a good meal great. So for me, kickstarting a new year full of promise, I felt I should begin with a great wine. When I think about red wine that stands out vintage after vintage, one Washington wine always comes to mind, Waterbrook Melange. A tasty Washington red wine at an affordable price.

Waterbrook winery consistantly recieves awards for its Melange, and the wine has quickly made a name for itself as a red that will impress and bring smiles to many faces. Waterbrook Melange is a blend of five different types of grape. Together the Waterbrook blend is a mouth pleasing balance with a bouqet to match. I enjoy the because of its big red feel but ready to drink taste. For the value it is difficult to find a better wine, but at any price I'd be happy to find this red in my glass.

In the end, the best way to impress a date, suprise a good freind, or like me start-off a new year, turn to the balance and reliable flavor of the always award winning Waterbrook Melange.