Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Back To Cafe Bleu

My beau and I went to Cafe Bleu for happy hour... great deal on the food and glasses of good wine for $5 each. During this outing I sampled the following:

  • Valdivieso Sauvignon Blanc, 2007: A pleasant Chilean offering delivering a slightly grassy and citric nose, hints of lime on the tongue combined with a refreshing acidity. Nice opener.

  • Clos LaChance Zinfandel "Hummingbird Series", 2005: From California's own Central Coast we have a deep cherry-red Zin. Berries, spice (cinnamon?), vanilla on the nose, nice tannin/acid fruit balance with noticeable black fruits and lingering peppery/spicy finish. Somewhat closed out of the bottle, really opened up after about 15 minutes.

  • Nine Stones Shiraz, 2005: From the Barossa Valley, a pleasant Aussi-style Shiraz. Extremely fruit-forward (dark berries and plum), juicy acidity. Not complex but very drinkable. Finish runs a little hot but can be tempered with some food.

  • Wines reviewed in 2009: 144

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    Four Vines Zinfandel Old Vine Cuvee 2006

    Last night my love and I spent the evening with Tio Ely and Cory. Tio Ely made dinner, a delicious spaghetti. I brought over a couple of bottles of wine including Four Vines Zinfandel Old Vine Cuvee 2006. The pairing was, I thought, excellent. This fruit-forward wine brought lovely notes of black fruits and spice to the nose while delivering blackberry, plum, and spices to the palate. The flavors combining with smooth tannins and mouthwatering acidity combined with the peppery spiciness of the spaghetti to create a delicious synergy. For $10 a bottle this is a fantastic, food-friendly Zin (and it makes a tasty little drink on its own).

    Strangely enough I think it went well with RuPaul's Drag Race too.

    Number of wines reviewed in 2009: 141

    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    Maipe Malbec 2008

    I have got to start taking pictures with something other than my phone.

    Tonight's entry into the blog is the Maipe Malbec 2008 from the Mendoza region of Argentina. For those of you who don't know it already, only four countries in the world produce more wine than Argentina and for the time being some of the best vino bang for the buck can be found here and in neighboring Chile. I picked up this wine for $8 from San Diego Wine Company and it's a real winner. Beautiful purple bleeding out to a red rim in the glass the wine visually shouts "body" and it does have it. Here we get a wonderful blend of blackberries, plums, "gaminess" and hints of spice greeting the noise while it delivers black fruits, pepper, smooth tannins and a fine acidity slowly tapering off into a lovely finish. Well worth it for twice the price (but don't tell anyone I said that).

    Number of wines reviewed in 2009: 140

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Wine Tasting At WineSteals

    Well, they call it a tasting but on Sunday afternoons it is more "getting snockered with wine" since they have a $10 for 6 tastes but what they don't always tell you is that on Sunday they change over their by-the-glass offering and to move last week's product the "taste" gets to be rather large in the glass. Most of them I stopped myself at about one-third of the pour just as not to (1) get drunk and (2) dull my taste buds so I can fairly access the other wines. From the vat-o-bottles my love and I selected the following:

  • Qupe 2007 Marsanne: Qupe makes great Rhone wines. This is the first white wine of theirs I have tasted and it was good. As typical with this Marsanne has a little Roussanne blended in producing a nice citrusy/honey nose, good fruit and a definite minerality on the tongue and finish that is quite nice. Enough acidity to make it crisp and moderately lower in alcohol made this a delightful opener.

  • Macon Uge 2007:Macon, Burgundy, so if it's white it's Chardonnay (amazing how many people there seemed confused by this). Macon will always hold a special place for me because it was the place where being American got me out of a traffic ticket (long story). Nice Chardonnay, full of fruit and hints of citronella and toast on the nose. Crisp acidity, some minerality in the finish.

  • Martin Alfaro 2006 Pinot Noir: Medium ruby color, aromas of red raspberries and cherries and a hint of spice. Good acidity, felt the tannins a little harsh but my partner seemed not to thing so. Overall good Pinot Noir.

  • Tres Ojos 2006 Old Vines, Garnacha, Calatayud: Definitely made to be a crowd pleaser. Not complex but a delighful, fruit-forward wine. Medium bodied, dark chocolate, cherries, pepper and spice on the nose, good fruit, balanced acidity and tannins leading to a medium-length finish. Well worth seeking out if you want to try a Spanish Grenache.

  • Montebuena 2006 Rioja: Got a strange look from the lady pouring when I said "I like Tempranillo", not sure if she disagreed with my assessment of that varietal or was confused because I gave the varietal rather than the winery (or region) name. Either way, a nice example of Tempranillo that is still affordable. Deep, ruby-red in color with a fruity bouquet laced with vanilla and spice. Smooth and fruity on the tongue with good tannin/acid balance.

  • Chateau du Claray Muscadet Savre et Maine sur Lie: Yeah, a white after reds, so sue me. This was a pleasant, not overly serious Loire wine made from the Melon-de-Bourgogne grape. Light, almost effervescent, with lemon leading the way to a nice, minerally finish. Probably should have had it first but heck, this is WineSteals so who noticed? LOL

  • Wines reviewed in 2009: 139

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    Revisiting Firestone Gewurztraminer 2006

    Decided I wanted something light and fruity (and my beau isn't light) so I opened a bottle of Firestone Gewurztraminer 2006 which I had reviewed before. Most of the review still holds true except I found that, for whatever reason, I enjoyed it even more. Whatever it seemed to be lacking last year this year I didn't detect. Again, green tinge, very aromatic (citrus blossoms, hints of lychee), nice mouth feel, not too sweet, good acidity. Maybe it hadn't peaked but was still peaking.

    Wines reviewed in 2009: 133

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    Words Sent From My Mother...

    (She enjoys chain letters and this one is a hoot):

    To my "Happy Hour" buddies...

    To my friends who enjoy a glass of wine, and those who don't. As Ben Franklin said: In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.

    In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. coli) - bacteria found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop.

    However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum, whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.

    Water = Poop,
    Wine = Health

    Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of sh*t.

    There is no need to thank me for this valuable information: I'm doing it as a public service.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    A Two Pinot Night

    Feeling a bit blue I was approached by my friend Bacchus and invited out for a drink. Upon reaching the establishment (location to remain a secret because if people found out he was showing up they would crowd the place) we decided to sip something delicate and deep to reflect the mood.

    First up was Handley 2006 Pinot Noir "Anderson Valley". Anderson Valley in California’s Mendocino County now ranks with the top Pinot Noir regions in North America so expectations were high. The wine was a deep cherry red in color with lovely legs as I swirled the glass. The nose delivered cherry with hints of chocolate and spice (cloves perhaps). The wine is light-to-medium bodied, fruit forward with smooth tannins and nice acidity culminating in a medium-length finish. Definitely a "New World" Pinot, quite enjoyable.

    The second wine for the evening was Perfecta 2006 Pinot Noir "Edna Valley". California's Edna Valley is located in the southern corner of San Luis Obispo County and developing quite a reputation for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. AGain the wine was cherry red with nice legs on the glass. The nose was not as fruit forward as the Handley but there was a hint of cherries, but I also detected a slight something that I will call "vegetalness" that while not off-putting didn't stimulate me positively either. There was a bit of "heat" translating through the nose, perhaps due to the fact that the bottle was not chilled. The mouthfeel was more full than the Handley which was nice, but then something strange happened... I got almost nothing from the taste. The tannins were extremely soft, there was some acidity, but when it comes to fruit it seemed like I wasn't getting anything. My friend Sarah described it to me via text as "red water" and in a way it did seem like colored water that had been through a water softener. Given the reputation of the AVA I won't give up on it and will try it again, but this time it made me terribly disappointed.

    Wines reviewed in 2009: 132

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    Custom Made Wine Glass Charms

    After complaining about the dearth of wine charms in the area my very creative friend Sarah made the following for me. Being a wiz with glass she created the beads and constructed what you see below:

    If you'd like to have some commissioned let me know and I'll make the connection.

    Monday, March 2, 2009


    My first OTBN (Open That Bottle Night). While the turnout was light it was enjoyable. The night's offerings our guests experienced:

  • Gainey "Limited Selection" Sauvignon Blanc, 2007: Lovely Sauvignon Blanc, grassiness and citrus on the nose, crisp acidity with just a kiss of oak. A great opener for the evening.

  • Fess Parker Pinot Noir "Ashley's Vineyard" 2006: I've written about this one before, raved actually, but it deserved it and even more so now. Deep red, bouquet bursting with cherry, rose petal, spice and a hint of smoke in there delivering red berry fruits, smooth almost sweet tannins and fantastic acidity with a hint of minerality in the finish. Bravo.

  • Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel 2006: A surprise. I loved this Zin all full of ripe fruits, good acidity... "jammy" (a word I tend not to use with Zins) with notes of cracked pepper and a hint of vanilla. A real pleaser.

  • Château Haut-Canteloup, 2005, Médoc: Our French contribution for the evening. Medium bodied, purple colored delivering black currants and spice rounding out well with good tannins and acid for a medium finish.

  • Baily 2003 Meritage: I like Baily, enjoy then more and more every time I go. Tio Ely and Cory brought this one over and I am so glad they did. Baily does a great Cabernet Sauvignon and creates solid Cab Francs and Merlots, so this blend showed off what happens when they all come together just right. Excellent fruit concentration, solid tannins and a fine supporting acid backbone all flow together to give one a long, tasty finish.

  • Merryvale Starmont Cabernet Sauvignon 2005: A pretty Cab even for those who aren't Cab drinkers. Very fruit-forward, rich, intense but not overpowering. Nice tannins, mouthwatering acid, medium finish makes it an enjoyable wine.

  • Epsilon Shiraz 2006 Barossa Valley: Raspberries, blueberries, violets and spice all rolled up and delivered in a velvety package. Medium bodied, ripe tannins, definitely a wine created to please.

  • Wines reviewed in 2009: 130