Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gainey In The Movies

My beau took me to the movies to see Ghost Town. During a dinner scene I noticed the bottle of wine had a label I recognized but couldn't quite make out. When they put it down, label towards the camera, I was so happy to see it was Gainey!. Nice to see that Hollywood is learning there are wines outside of Napa and Sonoma.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Curtis 2005 Syrah Vogelzang Vineyard

I love the Curtis Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley. Nestled in the hills around Los Olivos and in the shadow of their once "cousin" winery Firestone Curtis truly is a gem if you love Rhone varietals. After having dinner with my beau I wanted something yummy and full so I decided on their 2005 Syrah Vogelzang Vineyard and within minutes of opening the bottle I knew I made the right choice. If you check the Curtis site you'll find that this vintage garnered several medals and scored an "88" from Wine Spectator making this a well-accepted wine (though I don't quite get the same nose and fruit that those at Spectator found). The wine is rich and deep in color with an aroma of red fruits and spice with a hint of vanilla (18 months in French Oak according to the fact sheet). Once in the mouth I get the expected cherry and strawberry blend and slight hint of clove with well-balanced acidity and soft tannins whose combination makes my mouth water. A good way to spend my time studying for my next MBA test on emerging technology (an even better way to continue with my AW certification studies).

If you come across anything from Curtis (but particularly a Syrah) buy it!

Monday, September 22, 2008

2006 Paolo Scavino Dolcetto d'Alba

OK, back from my wonderful Hawaii trip (thanks honey, you're wonderful) and after a week of variations on the Mai Tai it's time to get back to wine (by the way, if you are in Honolulu check out the Mai Tai at Hula's... great drink and a fun place). Tonight I opened a bottle of 2006 Paolo Scavino Dolcetto d'Alba. This is a yummy little wine from the Piedmont region of Italy. Normally when people who don't give much thought to Italian wines hear Piedmont they think of Barolo (the regional king) or perhaps Barbaresco (both made from the same grape, Nebbiolo), but Piedmont is home also to Barbera and Dolcetto (both popular reds) as well as Asti and Gavi (popular whites). Of the reds the Dolcetto tends to be the lighter of the lot, very approachable with good juicy fruit, light tannins and solid alcohol delivering dark cherry fruits, almonds and a hint of chocolate. This relatively inexpensive Dolcetto does not fail to deliver in what one would expect. Dark in color, medium-light bodied, mouth watering acidity, I wish I had a good sausage pizza right about now. Definitely worth the $17 per bottle standard price.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

OK, I'm Back...

Sorry, it's been 10 days since I posted here. How time flies! My beau took me out of town for a week and I was out of touch except for my cell phone. I'm back now and will be putting up a new post tomorrow so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mellow Wine Bar

I like trying new places and even though it has been around a little over a year I decided to hit Mellow, A Wine Bar in nearby Liberty Station. I was there for almost two hours and it was time well spent. There was plenty of parking for this "mellow" place. I got there for happy hour (which runs from 3pm - 7pm, a nice change from the typical and hard to get to 4pm - 6pm that most places have). The place was simple and sleek in layout and the staff fun and chatty which is always a plus for me whenever I go somewhere new.

Mellow lists about 100 wines in their menu with nearly half available by glass and most are reasonably priced. One thing I did enjoy was that they didn't separate reds from whites. The wine list was divided "Old World" and "New World" with "Old World" separated by country and "New World" by varietal. This appealed to the "wine geek" in me because it meant you had to know more about the wine you were ordering (for example, that the French Vouvray and Spanish Albariño are whites). The overall offering of wines is pretty good, the one shortcoming seemed to be in the realm of Italian wines. They offered several flights (3 wines each in the range of $11 - $16 per flight) but I decided to go for the glass. I selected the following from their happy hour list:

2006 Qupé Syrah, Central Coast. It's kinda hard to go wrong with an offering from Qupé and I was not disappointed. The nose is classic Syrah... berries, spice and licorice. Fruit forward and well balanced acid and tannins make this a lip smacker.

2006 Ventana Due Amici. "Due Amici", Italian for "Two Friends" is a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon and it was quite tasty. This is a medium bodied wine with nice rounded tannins, good blend of cherry and blackberry notes with a hint of vanilla from the oak. I would definitely look for this one if you are thinking of having a grill night with friends.

At this point the server poured a round of something they didn't sell but was a promotional from someone (since he had only one bottle I am assuming as much), 2005 Opolo Sangiovese from Paso Robles. A nice basic full-bodied wine with traditional black cherry and hints of raspberry, mild tannins, good acid. I would think this to be a very food-friendly little wine.

For the final wine (four in an evening is enough when you're drinking and not tasting) I just told the guy to pick something. He brought me Bell Cellars 2005 Big Guy, which from the label looked like they threw in everything but the kitchen sink. Big Guy is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Syrah (the first five being Bordeaux and the final a Rhone varietal). I have to say, based on what I had been drinking and our chats (he talked a lot which I enjoyed) he made a good selection. Medium bodied, good complexity of fruits, soft and supple tannins made me want something BBQ'ed right then and there but alas between diet and location nothing around served what I wanted.

So, all-in-all it was a fun trip out to a new place that I am sure to visit again.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Couldn't Resist - Westphalia Vineyards 2006 Norton Reserve

OK, after the fight with UPS I just had to see if the prize was worth it so I cracked open a bottle of the Westphalia Vineyards 2006 Norton Reserve. Oh what a treat (and no, I am not letting its origins cloud my judgment... come taste it for yourself). For those not familiar with the Norton grape (another American varietal, this time red), this wine makes me think that a Zinfandel and a Syrah had a child. The color is a beautiful deep purply-red and produces firm, thick legs in my Riedel. The nose delivers peppery spicy goodness complementing the currant and berry fruits which are transported into the mouth along with a hint of vanilla (interesting note, Westphalia uses Missouri Oak for its barrels making Westphalia Vineyards the closest I can do in "buying Missouri") where we have the flavors mixed with balanced tannins and acid and providing a medium-long finish. The mouthfeel is interesting... it starts off a little soft but firms up the farther it goes through its finish. The juicy fruit makes me smack my lips after each taste and for some reason I cannot stop "sniffing" the wine (it's triggering something from my childhood but I cannot quite tell what it is).

This is a fabulous wine. I wish I had a nice juicy grill-seared steak (I can definitely see this as an alternative to the typical Zinfandel served at cookouts). This is a pretty big wine, drinkable now but should be able to keep a few more years. If you like Zins and Syrahs this wine from a young winery definitely deserves a checking out.

Wresting With UPS

Finally got my shipment from Westphalia Winery in Missouri! What happened? It fell victim to what I have been experiencing more and more frequently at UPS... they "couldn't find it" when I went in to pick it up Friday after work. They told me it was pulled off the truck, they said it would be there and yet after waiting around for several hours for the "will call" to open they told me to come back Monday. This is the 4th care of it happening out of the last 6 shipments to me. I was also a little ticked off that the ticket was marked "Second Attempt" for delivery yet I had never received a "first attempt" sticker so unless I have a "UPS Deliver Notice" bandit I have no idea what happened. The important thing is that I now I have wine. I'm looking to set up a tasting of Missouri wines so let me know if you're interested.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A "Kiss" From Missouri - Montelle Winery 2007 Dry Vignoles

My first shipment of Missouri wine finally arrived. I had ordered wine from Montelle Winery and Westphalia Vineyards. The Westphalia wines have not yet arrived but yesterday I received my bottles from Montelle. As today was a hot day I decided to try my chilled 2007 Dry Vignoles. I had high hopes since this wine was the 2008 Governor's Cup winner for best Missouri wine.

First, what the heck is Vignoles? For those of you who have not expanded your palate beyond what Andrea Robinson calls the "Big Six" grapes, let me do the introductions. Vignoles is a hybrid white grape popular in the Midwest and Northeast (particularly Missouri and the Finger Lakes area of New York). For Missouri it appears to be one of the "work horse" grapes, producing wine that made my beau think it was a Riesling and in fact most literature will tell you that in fact the wines do tend to be reminiscent of German Rieslings. The wines produced can be anywhere from dry to sweet (like a Riesling).

OK, enough talk... now the wine. Even though this pretty little wine is called "dry" to me it seemed a bit more "off-dry", just a touch of residual sugar remaining. The wine has the beautiful straw coloring that would mark a nice Chardonnay. The bouquet brought fruit and flowers, primarily a floral rendition of strawberry and citrus (pineapple?). The taste was like a natural fruit salad of apricot, citrus and pineapple (picked up from the nose perhaps) with a touch of natural sweetness. Nice mouth feel, enough acid that the sweetness doesn't seem cloying in the mouth and a nice medium-length finish.

If this enjoyable wine is any indication of what Missouri has been doing with its wine in the almost 20 years since I last sampled some I will be a happy "amant de vin" indeed! Thanks Tim for turning me onto Montelle's offerings... now if I can only get my Westphalia shipment!!!

Watch for more reviews of "Show Me" State wines.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Three Down...

Well, I passed my certification exam covering Italian wines. Even with the assistance of a glass of Bolla Valpolicella 2006 it was the most difficult (lots of questions on individual producers, far more than the other exams, only scored 90%) so this will mean a review but it was high enough to pass. That leaves only five more exams!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bolla Valpolicella 2006

First day back to work after the Labor Day holiday and since I am still reviewing Italian wines I opened a bottle of Bolla Valpolicella 2006. Not a bad little wine, it comes from the Veneto region of Italy and made from the Molinara, Rondinella, and Corvina grapes (one of the major Veneto grape varietals). The wine is a light cherry red in color telegraphing at least part of the nose and taste quite well. Along with black cherry I detected hints of raisin and maybe a touch of almond. The wine is dry, almost velvety mouth feel, light-to-medium bodied with lip-smacking acidity making for a rather refreshing little red wine. This wine, coming in at around $9 or $10 a bottle, makes for a good end-of-summer sipper.