Sunday, December 17, 2006

2002 Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (Sonoma)

All I can say is that it sometimes pays off to check out for the listing of wines without bids. This was a steal for $20. A hard to find wine that I’ve been wanting to try for a while.

It has a ruby red color that thins out some towards the edges. Definite raspberry and a slight hint of blueberry with a little bit of a smoky essence. Medium bodied with a soft smooth texture leading to a medium long finish.

This wine is a nice “breath of fresh air” from some of the bigger and more extracted Central Coast pinots I’m more familiar with such as Sea Smoke and Loring. Some with more experience than I might also call this “burgundian.” My next step is to try to sample more if Merry Edwards wines to see if this is her overall style. If yes, I might find myself moving in another direction with pinot as I expand my palate.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

2004 Sea Smoke Southing (Santa Barbara-CA)

Ruby red color that thins out some on the edges. Strong aromas of blueberries and blackberries with some notes of licorice and even mint that emerges later. Firm structure and rich texture with a long finish that carries the fruit along.

Sea Smoke is a hard wine to find. I got these particular bottles from a wine store down in Tribeca for $55 a bottle but I can’t remember the name of the store for the lift of me. Because of the relatively short supply and the almost cultish high demand, online prices range from $50 to $100 for the Southing bottling. $50….yes. $100….no. It’s good and really is worth trying at some point if you like full bodied and lush California Pinots but it doesn’t really pay off at the higher end of the price spectrum. Also keep in mind that this wine’s release price is $50.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

2003 Mont Gras Syrah “Limited Edition” (Chile)

Definitely a “Big Bold Red” as it’s labeled by the club. Inky black color. Loads of oak on the nose but its not really there for masking any imperfections I could tell of. Notes of black cherry and hints of blueberry along with some kirsch. Dry texture and soft tanning lead to a medium long finish.

A good wine for the price of $23 from although it can be founds for as little as $16 on the internet which I would consider a great QPR find.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

2001 Torrione Petrolo (Italy-Tuscany)

Rudy red color. Blueberry aroma with notes of pepper and just a hint of cedar. Soft fruity texture with a medium long finish.
When I first had this wine, I thought it was a great value as I paid approximately $20 for it at D. Sokolin in Long Island. However, it appears I just plain got a great deal (which they sometimes have) as it retails for approximately $40 elsewhere. Unfortunately, D. Sokolin doesn’t have any more and as nice as it was, I’d probably pass at the higher price tag.

Friday, November 17, 2006

2005 Chateau Lafayette Reneau – Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes)

Straw yellow color. Strong citrus aroma. Heavily lemon on both the nose and tongue. Crisp with a nice zippy acidity. Very refreshing and a good bargain at the $14 I paid for it at GCP Liquors and Wines in Upstate Elmira Heights New York.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

2003 Chateau Coufran (Bordeaux-Haut Medoc)

A big juicy red. Deep purple color. Spicy and full of black fruit on the nose. Blackberry, crème de cassis, some minerality on the palate. Velvety with a soft texture. This wine really evolves after some time in the glass or after decanting. It becomes even smoother with nice kirsch notes and subtle hints of cedar. The wine will be fantastic with a couple years of bottle age.

The 2003 Bordeaux vintage has been somewhat controversial with claims that the heat wave of that year have yielded concentrated and jammy wines. (link here). That may be true and some of the more famous châteaux have come under scrutiny this year for producing “atypical” wines according to Bordeaux standards. However, I really feel that some of the Cru Bourgeois wines and have produced some early drinking, excellent value wines. This is one of them.

I found this wine at Grand Wine and Liquor in Astoria where they have been selling it for $16, an excellent bargain which delivery a great price per quality ratio.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

2004 Perrin & Fils Vacqueyras – Les Christins (France-Rhone)

This might be one of the best value wines I’ve had all year. It’s a Rhone blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. It was also listed as one of Wine Spectators Top 100 wines of the year.

Deep ruby colored with rich aromas of both jammy dark fruit and Indian spice. Blueberries and black currant. Some notes of licorice or anise. Mouth coating and lush texture. Long finish.

This wine is around but is getting harder to find after being “anointed” by Wine Spectator. My bottles were bought at Garnet Wine and Spirits on the Upper East Side for $15.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2000 Canoe Ridge Merlot (Washington St.)

Deep ruby red. Cedar box scent with crushed blackberries. Jammy but not overbearing. Overall nice fruit. Medium long finish with fine tannins and a nice lush mouthfeel.

This was another club shipment from for $22. This was a very pleasant surprise and another confirmation that Washington State does some pretty darn fine Merlot. I would recommend this for merlot lovers. Although is no longer carrying the 2000 vintage, I would recommend trying the 2002 if you come across it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

2003 Viticcio Chianti Classico Riserva (Italy-Tuscany)

Deep garnet color. Flinty nose with definite blackberry and some vanilla. Earthy and spicy. Medium long length. I loved the 2001 vintage of this wine and I think the 2003 is at the same level or close.

If you have the opportunity to give this a couple years of bottle age, it will soften out even more. If not, try to decant it for about an hour before serving.

This wine is available and can currently be found at Astor Wine and Spirits for $22 which is about the going rate for this wine. It’s very much a recommended wine from me.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

2002 Stonestreet Merlot (Napa Valley)

Rudy red color and medium bodied wine with a soft texture and a mid-length finish. Smokey oak on the nose along with an earthy cherry scent. Not very complex but not bad either.

I don’t think this is another buy for me but it wasn’t unpleasant. Fans of Merlot might want to check this out if the price is right. This is $17 from and was part of a wine club I used to belong to.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

1996 Clos du Marquis (Bordeaux-St. Julien)

Cedar notes and dark fruit on the nose. Soft lush texture with dark cherry and blueberry taste which is interesting as I typically associate those flavors more with a pinot noir, usually the big ones from California. There are also tobacco notes more reminiscent of Bordeaux and the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Long finish. Wonderful mouthfeel. Fantastic.

This was bought on my trip to Bordeaux for approximately $35. One of the few deals I found on my trip there. I haven’t seen this in a store for a while but it can be found on the internet via from $45 to $60.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

August 2006 - Recent Notes and Postings

August is typically a busy month for most people as there are vacations to be taken and the sunny weather to enjoy. For us, there has been that and the addition of a new house (or rather a 100 year old Victorian). Getting it ready for moving into has cut into our wine drinking some but we've managed to uncork a few bottles.

The biggest revelations have been the 2001 Querciabella Chianti Classico from Tuscany and the 2001 Redstone from Coriole Vineyards in Australia. Both are mid-priced wines which you would expect to be quality bottlings but with a couple extra years of cellar age, they really blossomed. Try the 2001 Querciabella alongside the 2003 and you'll see the difference.

The rest of the summer has been filled with crisp whites to combat the heat. The best of these have included the 2005 Leitz Dragonstone Riesling from Germany, the 2005 Domaine de Pouy from France, and a bunch of fantastic 2005 Rieslings from the Finger Lakes region of Update New York. You'll find my notes on these in the coming weeks.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

2001 Querciabella Chianti Classico (Tuscany-Italy)

The 2001 Querciabella Chianti Classico is another wine that has benefited greatly from a couple extra years in the bottle. The wine is dark red in color with wonderful aromas of oak, allspice, cloves and dark forest fruit with earthy elements underneath. The fruit really comes through on the palate with the focus on blackberry. However, notes of chocolate can be detected as well. A nice balance of fruit and tannins leave a wonderfully lush texture a medium long finish.

The 2001 Querciabella is drinking beautifully now, especially when compared to the 2003 vintage. It is another testament to how wonderful a mid-priced red wine can develop into something special with just a little patience.

This wine typically sells for approximately $20 to $25 a bottle and the predominate vintage in stores now is 2003 which is available at Garnet Wines on 68th and Lexington among other stores. The 2001 can be found at Italian Wine Merchants near Union Square for $25 and at De Vino in SoHo for $19. If you can’t find the 2001, try the 2003 and buy a bottle to lay down for a while if you like it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

2001 Coriole "Redstone" Shiraz-Cabernet (Australia)

Coriole’s 2001 Redstone is a testament to how a couple of extra years of bottle age can add an extra layer of complexity to a wine.

The 2001 Redstone is dark red in color with beautiful aromatics including dark fruit and the contents of a spice cabinet. Fruit emerges on the tast buds as well with blackberry, black currant, and cassis. Soft tannins lead to a soft texture with a nice long finish.

The blend is 80% Shiraz and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.

This wine was originally a gift and is a little hard to come by now but internet searches have shown it still available at some wine shops across the US for around $20 a bottle. This is a great value and again, a testament to what a couple of years of cellaring can do for a mid-priced, solidly made wine.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

2005 Domaine de Pouy (France)

Domaine de Pouy from the Gascogne region of France and made primarily of the Ugni Blanc grape is a fantastic white wine value all depending on how much you end up paying.

The 2005, like the other vintages we’ve had before, is straw yellow in color with light citrus and floral aromas mingled in with just a touch of melon. There is a base of minerality here which makes this a very refreshing wine. It’s a medium bodied, medium finish wine with a soft and somewhat round texture. Overall, a great and simple summer quaffer.

The Domaine de Pouy is available in New York at a variety of wine shops although the only place I have seen it consistently at is Union Square Wines which sells it for $10. However, that is at the upper end of what this wine is worth in my opinion and I have bought it for much cheaper elsewhere (and even at Union Square when they first started to carry it). Garnet Wine on 68th and Lexington has had this wine in stock for $6 to $7 at which point it’s a fantastic value. This particular bottle was purchased at Austin Wine Merchants in Texas for $8 which is the most I would pay for it.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

2005 Leitz Dragonstone Riesling (Germany)

The 2005 Leitz Dragonstone Riesling is a pale straw yellow in color with a light citrus nose. The emphasis is on lime which also expresses itself on the palate. Medium finish. The wine has a rounder texture with lighter acidity than some other Rieslings I’ve had recently. Overall, this is still a very refreshing and easy to drink wine.

This was bought on a trip to Austin, Texas at a fantastic store call Austin Wine Merchants. The store is very much worth a visit if you are in the area as they have wines that I think are hard to come by even in New York.

The 2005 Leitz Dragonstone Riesling sold there for $15 and I think that is on the high end for what this is worth. Any more than that and I might walk away from it the next time. In New York, you can find this wine at Union Square Wines and at Crush on East 57th St. for $15 or at PJ Wine for $11 at which point it is worth picking up.

Monday, July 31, 2006

1999 Peter McCoy "Clos des Pierres" Reserve Chardonnay (Napa Valley)

The 1999 Peter McCoy “Clos des Pierres” Reserve is an unfiltered Chardonnay from California’s Napa Valley. It has a golden color with a complex aroma containing vanilla, caramel, white pepper, and possibly cinnamon. It also shows its oak wood influence. The wine has a soft texture with a vanilla bean and caramel taste and a medium finish.

This is a complex wine with a lot to offer but its overall lack of any minerality and low acidity left it an unbalanced wine for me.

This was bought at Cellar 72 on the Upper East Side for $32 and at that price point, I could have probably done better for my taste. Fans of California Chardonnays might want to try this and judge for themselves though.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

July 2006 - Recent Notes and Postings

It’s been about a month since I’ve posted on the main page but I haven’t stopped tasting wine and in fact, have been adding to tasting notes and have also come across a fantastic restaurant specializing in Alsatian food and wines but its biggest selling point might be a list of over 150 beers from all across the world.

It being summer, we’ve been tasting a lot of white wines. The best of which has been the 2003 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr from Selbach-Oster, a Riesling Auslese from the Mosel Saar Ruwer region of Germany. It’s a beautiful wine that can be enjoyed now but could also benefit from a couple more years of bottle age. Another great find is the 2005 Gramona ‘Gessami’ from Spain, a blend of Moscatel and Sauvignon Blanc that is crisp and refreshing with a lot of minerality. On the value end is the 2005 Jardin de la Fruitiere from the Loire region of France, another bright, crisp wine for summer drinking and a great find at about $10 a bottle. The best red of the month was the 2004 Domaine Alfred Pinot Noir - Chamisal Vineyards from Edna Valley in Central California. It’s an excellent Pinot Noir and at approximately $30, it stacks up well against other Central Coast Pinot’s for $50 or more.

As for restaurants, try and check out Café D’Alsace on the Upper East Side, a fantastic restaurant with great Alsatian food, a fine wine list and an excellent selection of beers and ales from all over the world.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

2002 Benton Lane - First Class Pinot Noir (Oregon)

The 2002 Benton Lane – First Class is another Pinot Noir is from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It’s deep ruby red in color and the nose is a mix of dark cherry, blueberry and blackberry. There is also a lighter scent of spices but overall, its dominated by the fruit. It has a “berry” taste with the blueberries on top and cherries underneath with a long finish.

Their regular Benton Lane Pinot Noir bottling is more available at approximately $25 a bottle. This is about $10 more in cost. You can purchase it from the winery for $35 a bottle or it can be found for the same price at Sherry Lehmann.

Friday, July 21, 2006

2004 Ravines Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes)

The 2004 Ravines Dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes region of New York is straw yellow in color. It has a mineralality to it with lighter notes of citrus, most notably lemon, on the nose. Floral aromas also emerge. The taste is crisp with a nice acidic balance and a medium finish.

Overall this is a good example of a Finger Lake Riesling but I have had better.

The 2005 vintage is out now which I have yet to try but if you believe scores, it received 90 points from Wine Enthusiast. That wine sells for $18 at Vintage New York and can also be found upstate at Northside Wine and Liquor in Ithaca for $16.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Café D’Alsace - East 88th St. and 2nd Ave. (Upper East Side)

Café D’Alcase has quickly become one of my favorite New York restaurants is a relatively short period of time. On two visits, I’ve had and sampled about a half dozen of their Alsacian influenced dishes and have loves every single on of them. If you go, think about having the warm potato salad and a couple of their perfectly cooked sausages. All the entrees are fantastic with my favorites being their Baeckeoffe (lamb shoulder, oxtails, bacon, potatoes, and onion braised in Brooklyn Lager) and the classic choucroute garni (pork prepared as chops, sausages, and bacon serves with sauerkraut).

Topping all of this and making a must destination for beer lovers is their list of 120 beers from all over the world with a heavy emphasis on the classic regions of Germany and Belgium. Not to be overlooked is a very good wine list. Although I have yet to order wine here, I’ve noticed several good Rieslings on the list that I plan to try in future visits.

Desserts are very good with the best of the bunch being an excellent crème brulee.

Digestives are good too with some nicely prices ports and dessert wines. On my last trip I found a 1944 Royal Oporto Colheita for $23. Not cheap but when faced with an opportunity to try anything from 1944, I couldn’t pass it up. The port was light rudy red in color with notes of nutmeg, cherry, chocolate and cedar. Spices also abound with an emphasis on cinnamon and possibly clove. It had a lovely sleek mouthfeel with a long lasting finish. Amazing. The best port I’ve ever had.

This place is worth a trip.

2003 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr - Riesling Auslese - Selbach-Oster (Germany)

The 2003 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr - Riesling Auslese from Selbach-Oster in Germany’s Mosel Saar Ruwer region is bright yellow in color with honey and floral notes dominating. There are also beautiful hints of honeysuckle, pears, apricots, and even lime. It’s a very complex riesling. There’s bright acidy and zing with a nice long finish that coats the mouth. This is an excellent wine that can benefit from a couple more years in the bottle.

The listed retail price of this wine is around $50 which might seem like a lot to pay for a bottle of wine but bargin hunters can find this a D. Sokolin in Long Island for $26. It’s actually the only place I’ve seen it for sale in New York. It’s worth picking up a couple of bottle of this for lying down.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

2005 Jardin de la Fruitiere (Loire - France)

The 2005 Jardin de la Fruitiere is a very bright and crisp wine with a straw yellow color. Melon, citrus and light floral notes mark the nose along with nice minerality on the palate. Very balanced with a crisp finish.

The wine is from Domaine de la Fruitiere in France’s Loire Valley and is a blend of Chardonnay, Melon de Bourgogne, and Sauvignon Blanc.

This wine is a good value wine at $10 from Chelsea Wine Vault and at this point, I think it’s the only place I’ve seen it sold at.

Monday, July 10, 2006

1996 Chateau de Sales (Pomerol - Bordeaux)

The 1996 Chateau de Sales from the Pomerol region of Bordeaux is ruby red in color. The fruit that comes out the most is blueberry but other than that, it’s a bit single noted. It’s very minerally in the mouth with a medium finish. It lacks acidity and that makes it slightly off balance. The wine is probably nearing the end of its lifespan. I wish I had tasted it in its more vibrant state.

This wine can be found for $22 at Sherry Lehmann but beware of the $45 price tag at Park Avenue Liquor Shop. It’s not worth that kind of price.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

1999 Ruffino Riserva Ducale (Chianti - Italy)

The 1999 Ruffino Riserva Ducale from Italy’s Chianti Classico region is a rich dark red in color with a fruity, predominantly blackberry nose mingles with an oak and earthiness. Soft mouthfeel with a medium finish. Nicely balanced overall and a good wine.

The wine can be found at a wide range of prices. While I haven’t seen the 1999 vintage in NYC Wine Shops in a while, a quick search of shows it for in the $30 to $40 range. However, you can find the 2002 for $25 at K&D Wines on the Upper East Side and even for $18 at PJ Wine and Liquors in Upper Manhattan.

2004 Ognissole Primitivo di Mandura from Feudi di San Gregorio (Italy)

The 2004 Ognissole Primitivo di Mandura from Feudi di San Gregorio is dark garnet colored and earthy wine. There’s a noticeable mineralality on the nose with tar, blackberry and dark cherry fruit. My biggest knock against this wine is that it’s a bit too acidic, hot, and off balance. It ends with a medium-short finish.

Even with it being slightly off balance, it’s a good example of an Italian Zinfandel and a decent value if you can find it under $15. If not, look around for a better value. This bottle was park of a wine club from and costs $20.

2003 Ambra Carmignano (Italy)

The 2003 Carmignano – Santa Cristina in Pilli from Ambra is dark red in color with blackberry and currant along with other dark fruit on the nose. It’s a very fruit forward wine with nice balance, a soft texture and a medium finish. Very easy drinking.

I bought this wine as a way of trying to learn more about the Carmignano grapes from Italy and as a way to break out of the “Chianti” mode when looking for value oriented Italian red wines. Overall this fit nicely into that mold.

I bought this for $11 at Garnet Wine and Liquor on 68th St. and Lexington.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

2005 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)

Another great New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is the 2005 Kim Crawford. It’s straw yellow in color with a certain luminescence and a very nice floral and citrus-lemon nose. Nice balance and a fresh, crisp finish. This is a real easy drinker for the summer.

This is the house wine at the Renaissance Hotel in mid-town Manhattan which is where I had it most recently. However, it’s widely available and can be found at K&D Wines on the Upper East Side and Beacon Wine on the Upper West Side for $14. PJ Wines in Upper Manhattan has the best deal around where it sells for $11.

2004 Vina Godeval (Spain)

The 2004 Vina Godeval from Valdorras, Spain is deep yellow in color with tropical fruit and hints of citrus on the nose. The wine is dry, even with the tropical fruit, is well balanced, and has a nice medium finish. It’s not overly complex but is great for a hot summer day and could also be used as a white alternative for a red wine at a BBQ.

The Vina Godeval sells for $16 at Slope Cellars in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
This wine note was contributed by Lisa Bocchini, a good friend and wine enthusiast who has been turning me on to great German Rieslings that she has come across in her Brooklyn travels.

Monday, July 03, 2006

2004 Van Duzer Pinot Noir (Oregon)

The 2004 Van Duzer Pinot Noir is from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The wine has a black cherry color. The nose is smoky oak and spice with dark fruit underneath. The woodsy or earthiness of the wine masks a taste of sour cherry. Soft tannins with a medium long finish. Overall, I think this is a slightly tart and off-balance wine that is a disappointment when compared to their fantastic 2003 offering.

Van Duzer has been a hard wine to find in the stores of late and I really haven’t seen it carried in many NYC wine stores. This bottle was found at Liquor City in Syracuse, NY for $24.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

2005 Gramona ‘Gessami’ (Spain)

The 2005 Gramona ‘Gessami’ is a Spanish white from Catalonia that is a mix of Moscatel and Sauvignon Blanc. Straw yellow color with notes of honeydew and grapefruit along with floral notes. There’s also a nice minerality the wine. It’s crisp and has a nice balance of fruit and acidity. It’s a great refreshing summer white.

The only place I’ve seen this wine is at Vino Vino for approximately $16 but keep an eye out for it at other wine shops. It’s worth picking up a bottle.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

2001 Cantina Zaccagnini Riserva (Montepulciano d'Abruzzo - Italy)

The 2001 Cantina Zaccagnino Riserva from Italy’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo region is garnet colored with lots of fruit, including strong notes of blueberry and kirsch. Smooth texture with a medium finish.

This is a good everyday wine but not wine to ponder much. I’ve also found it better in the past having had both the 1999 and 2000 vintages.

I discovered this wine as a $20 bottle at Po, an Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village that used to be run by Mario Batali as his first endeavor in New York and is now run by his partner Steve Crane. It’s fantastic and this was one of the best wine values on the list.

The wine is also commonly known as “The Twig Wine” because of the twig wrapped around the neck of the bottle. It can be found at Garnet Wine on 68th and Lexington for $12 and they almost always have it in stock.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

1994 Clos du Marquis (St. Julien - Bordeaux)

Wow! That’s the first word that comes to mind with the 1994 Clos du Marquis, the second wine of Chateau Leoville Las Cases in the St. Julien region of Bordeaux. This beautifully mature wine has aged beautifully despite not being a Grand Vin and coming from a not so great vintage. I think this is a testament to the winemakers at Leoville Las Cases and the graceful way a fine Bordeaux can age.

This Clos du Marquis is ruby red in color with cedar, oak and tobacco on the nose. There is an overall presence of dark fruit with notes of fig and blackberry. The blackberry especially comes through on the tongue. Very soft texture with a nice long finish. After about an hour, the wine opens up more, continuing to reveal cedar but adding chocolate and violets to the mix.

This wine was purchased on our trip to Bordeaux at Vinotheque, a wonderful wine shop near the center of town. I have never seen this wine available in the US which is one of the reasons we picked this up there. As wonderful as it was, I would look for other easier to find vintages available year as this wine is of high quality year in and year out.

Vinovino - A Loire Valley White (Tribeca)

Another wine by the glass at Vinovino in Tribeca is the 2004 “Clos Naudin” Vouvray Sec from Fillipe Foreau. It’s $14 by the glass at the bar or $48 by the bottle. However, you can take it home for $26 if you buy it in the store.

Bright yellow in color with a smoky nose mixed in with a little bit of lemon and a lot of minerality. It’s an acidic wine with a zing to it on the tongue.
It’s a nice wine that that I would get by the glass again and possibly take home to pair with a light fish or possibly shellfish.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

1996 Bricco Manzoni - Rocche dei Manzoni (Piedmont - Italy)

The 1996 Bricco Manzoni by Rocche dei Manzoni is a red table wine from the Piedmont region of Italy which we first discovered a couple years ago at Otto, a Mario Batali restaurant here in New York. It was being poured by the glass at the bar and we loved it enough to track down a half case of it. We have one bottle left.

This is a beautiful wine that is probably at its peak of maturity.

Notes of cedar, tobacco and tar on the nose just on top of dark fruit which reveals itself to be a combination of crème de cassis and what I think is boysenberry. There are also hints of chocolate and mint. Fine tannins and a lush, soft, and long finish. Great texture and mouthfeel.

This was purchased at Union Square Wines for $30 two years ago and although they don’t have any 1996 left, they typically carry the most recent vintage of this. Its worth checking out.

Monday, June 19, 2006

1999 Duhart-Milion (Pauillac - Bordeaux)

The 1999 Chateau Duhart-Milon from the Pauillac region of Bordeaux was another wine bought as a sort of test run to see if I like the style enough to seek out other vintages. This chateau is managed by Barons de Rothchild, the same owners of first gowth Lafite Rothschild in the same Pauillac region so my hopes were high.

The wine was very nice and I wasn’t disappointed but I wasn’t completely won over either. It is dark cherry red in color with earthy aromas of tobacco and leather to start, opening up into rich cassis and other dark fruits. Medium bodied with a soft tecture and a medium long finish.

D. Sokolin on Long Island carries this for $48 which is too much in my opinion. More reasonably it can be found at Morrell & Company in mid-town for $30 and Soho Wine & Spirits for $35. If you’re just looking for a taste, K&D Wines on the Upper East Side has half bottles for $23.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

2003 Chateau Moulin Haut-Laroque (Fronsac - Bordeaux)

I recently purchased a bottle of the 2003 Chateau Moulin Haut-Laroque from the Fonsac region of Bordeaux as a test to see if I wanted to purchase any of the 2005s as futures. I really hadn’t discovered the Fronsac region until this wine and was very pleasantly surprised.

The wine is still young and needs at least a couple more years to soften in the bottle. For now, its deep red in color with beautiful aromas of tar, saddle leather and crème de cassis. Very dark berry influenced and very spicy with notes of cloves and all spice. Very soft tecture with a medium long finish.

A very lovely wine that I will be buying more of along with the 2005 which is supposedly equal in quality.

This was purchased for $23 at Garnet Wines on 68th and Lexington and is also available at Zachys for $22.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

2003 Domaine Bachelet Chassagne-Montrachet (Burgundy)

The 2003 Domaine Bachelet – Chassagne–Montrachet from Burgundy is yellow with a greenish tint in color. Floral and herbaceous notes abound but its hard to define exactly which ones. It has a creamy texture with a soft mouthfeel and a medium finish. There is a little bit of minerality to the wine but it falls short of being “steely.” This is a good thing. Very nicely balanced.

The wine sells for $34 at Sherry Lehmann which is the only place I have seen it for sale. I think it’s a fine wine at that price which is actually a little more than I’m used to paying for a white. This would make a wonderful pairing with shellfish this summer.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

2004 Standing Stone Reserve Chardonnay (Finger Lakes)

The 2003 Standing Stone Reserve Chardonnay is gold in color and almost the color of a dessert wine. Butter and oak on the nose but not so much that the floral and hawthorn notes don’t come through. Creamy texture that lingers for a medium finish.

It’s a nice wine and another good effort from the Finger Lakes Standing Stone vineyard. In my opinion, Standing Stone and Chateau Lafayette Reneau, both on Seneca Lake, are among the best producers of Finger Lake Chardonnays in an area dominated by Riesling.

This was purchased for $14 at GCP Wine and Liquors in Elmira Heights.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

2004 Domaine Alfred Pinot Noir - Chamisal Vineyards (Edna Valley - California)

The 2004 Domaine Alfred Pinot Noir – Chamisal Vineyards is a fantastic Central Coast California Pinot. It retails for approximately $25 to $35 which also makes it a decent value when compared to the rising prices and limited availability of other Pinots from the region.

Cherry red in color with a beautiful nose of toasted oak and bright red fruit, noteably fresh raspberries. Creamy and lush texture with a great mouthfeel and a long finish.
This was purchased at Garnet Wines at 68th and Lexington for $27 but its available elsewhere, including Columbus Circle Wines for $32 and D. Sokolin on Long Island for $35.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

2004 Warwick Pinotage (South Africa)

I received the 2004 Warwick Pinotage – Old Bush Vines in the mail as part of a wine of the month club. This South African wine retails for $23 on their website.

I’ve never been a big fan of Pinotage, although my experience has been limited, and this wine didn’t do anything to change my opinion.

Dark garnet in color with an earthy nose full of underbrush, blackberry, and cigar box. It’s a high alcohol wine at 14.5% and you can taste it. The alcohol overpowers the fuzzy texture and its medium finish.

If you find yourself with a bottle of this wine, it needs big food to go along with it like BBQ as it isn’t much of a pleasure to drink on its own or even with lighter food.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

2002 Fiefs de Lagrange (St. Julien - Bordeaux)

Fiefs de Lagrange is the second wine of Chateau Lagrange from the St. Julien region of Bordeaux. I consider Lagrange to one of the best values in Bordeaux as prices for the Grand Vin typically range from $30 to $50 in great vintages (i.e. the 2005 for example). The Fiefs de Lagrange is consistently a quality wine and a real bargain as it typically ranges from $15 to the low $20 range. The 2005 can be had as a future for $22 from Zachys in Scarsdale. This is where I bought the 2002 Fiefs for the incredible low price of $12 about 6 months ago although I have not seen that price before or since and I haven’t even been able to find the wine anywhere else.

The 2002 Fiefs de Lagrange is young and full bodied. Deep garnet in color with black currant, spice, tobacco, and chocolate. It has a nice chewy texture and a long finish. The wine isn’t as massive as the 2002 Lagrange but its close. This wine probably can probably stand at least two to three more years of bottle age to soften up.

Like I mentioned, I haven’t been able to find the 2002 anywhere since I found it at Zachys but just about any vintage of this wine is worth checking out.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

2004 Vitiano – Falesco (Umbria – Italy)

The Vitano is made by Falesco, an Italian winery based in the Umbria region of Italy and is an equal blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. The wine is then aged three months in small oak barrels.

Deep purple in color with fresh berry notes mixed in with licorice and herbs. Medium bodied with smooth texture and soft tannins. It ends with a nice medium long finish.

The price of this wine and its quality also make it very versatile in my opinion. It’s definitely a food wine and for approximately $8, there is no reason not to open this with pasta and Ragu, pizza, or even something like take out Mexican. I think it’s a great price per quality value and very solid.

I really like the Vitiano and consider it to be one of the best values on the market right now with prices in NYC Wine Stores ranging from $8 to $11. It can also be found nearly everywhere as there were 200,000 cases of the 2004 vintage produced.

Just a handful of places that carry it include Garnet on 68th and Lexington and at Sherry Lehmann on Madison and 62nd where both sell it for $9. Beacon Wine and Spirits on the Upper West Side sells it for $10. However, the best deal thought is $8 at PJ Wine on 207th and Broadway.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

2003 Monte Tondo San Pietro Valpolicella (Verona - Italy)

I bought this recently as a way to educate myself on Italian wines outside of the usual Chiantis and Brunello's that I know best. This Valpolicella is an entry level wine from producer Monte Tondo and is a blend of 55% corvina, 30% rondinella and 15 % molinara

It's cherry red in color with bright red fruit and light oak on the nose. Bright fruit comes out in the taste with some acidity. However, it's very thin and light in texture with nearly no finish.

The wine was tasted at room temperature and might be better chilled but I believe a Valpolicella shouldn't need that.

I can't recommend this wine and can only imagine this is not reflective of what a Valpolicella can be, even in the $10 to $15 price range.

This wine was purchased at Garnet Wines on 68th and Lexington for $12 and can also be found at 67 Wine & Spirits for the same price.

Monday, May 29, 2006

May 2006 - Recent Notes and Postings - Pt. 2

My most recent NYC wine bargain find might be the 2001 Chateau Bourgneuf from Bordeaux’s Pomerol region. Sherry Lehmann has apparently purchased a huge lot of the wine directly from the chateau and is passing the savings on to its customers by offering it for $20 a bottle. It typically retails for $35. It’s very good and I’ve already chosen it for our New Year’s dinner in 2007!

As the summer heats up, you might also want to check out the 2005 Commanderie de Peyrassol from Provence and the 2004 Dr. L from Dr. Loosen in the Mosel Saar Ruwer region of Germany. Both are extremely refreshing and affordable. Perfect for any weekend picnic in Central Park.

Two other solid finds I’ve come across in May include Warre’s Otima, a 10 Year Old Tawny Port that reminds me of Christmas. There also a solid sparkling wine from Gruet in New Mexico, a refreshing crisp blanc de noir.

Also noted is a recent experience I had with, an e-bay like auction site for wine that lead me to a very affordable 1982 Bordeaux.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Gruet NV Blanc de Noirs (New Mexico)

The Gruet Winery in Albuquerque, NM specializes in sparkling wines. Among them are four value offering which include NV Brut, a NV Rose, a NV Demi-Sec, and a NV Blanc de Noir. All sell for around $15 a bottle. By far the most widely available is the NV Brut.

However, I was able to bring back bottles of the Rose and Blanc de Noir from our last trip to New Mexico.

The NV Blanc de Noir is peach in color with that rising yeast characteristic on the nose and small concentratged bubbles. It’s also peach in flavor with light hints of cherry. Zingy and very crisp. This would pair wonderfully with Asian food and at approximately $15 a bottle, you could even have this with take-out Chinese.

This was purchased in Albuquerque, NM at Jubilation Wine & Spirits for $13. It’s a little harder to find in New York as all I’ve seen in stores in the NV Brut. However, sells it for $16 a bottle and will deliver to New York.

Warre's Otima - 10 Year Old Tawny Port (Portugal)

Warre’s Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port is brick red in color with notes of chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove on the nose. It’s smooth and lush on the palate with a long finish.

I thought this was a fantastic port and a good value at approximately $20 to $25 for a 500ml bottle. It really reminded me of a Christmas spice and because of that, I’ll definitely keep it in mind for this year’s holiday season.

This wine was given to us as a gift but it can also be found for $20 at Sherry Lehmann and Union Square Wine.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

2004 Dr. L - Dr. Loosen (Mosel Saar Ruwer – Germany)

This Riesling is the entry level wine from Germany’s Dr. Loosen Winery. It’s typically good in quality regardless of vintage, available nearly everywhere as they typically produce 40,000 to 50,000 cases, and it’s always at a bargain price of approximately $10. The 2004 is no different.

Pale yellow in color with tropical fruit on the nose. Mostly melon with a hint of lemon. Slightly sweet with a little less zing/acidity that is typical of most Rieslings. This is a tasty and affordable easy drinker that is just begging to be taken to Central Park on a sunny weekend afternoon.

This was $9 at Garnet on 68th and Lexington and $10 at Sherry Lehmann but as mentioned earlier, you’ll find this at most good NYC Wine shops.

Sunday, May 21, 2006 and 1982 Bordeaux - Chateau Coufran is an online wine auction site based out of Northern California that offers thousands of wines on a weekly basis in a format similar to e-bay and other online auction sites. It’s a resource especially worth checking out if you like to try hard to find wines or older vintages that are no longer being offered in most wine stores. On the extreme end, a recent search unearthed a 1905 Chateaux Margaux for a cool $400 to $500 if you’re interested in trying a 100 year old bottle. Overall, prices run the gamut from affordable to stratospheric. Current examples include a a 1999 Cote de Baleau from St. Emilion for a $5 bid all the way up to a 1985 Domaine De La Romanee-Conti-Romanee Conti for a clean $9000. With the thousands of wines on the site though, there are plenty of bargains if you’re willing to troll the site.

This is how I came across a 1982 Chateau Coufran from the Haut Medoc region in Bordeaux for $30 (not including auction and shipping costs.)

If you’re a fan of Bordeaux you probably know that 1982 was one of the best vintages of the 20th century and the better bottles are selling for at least a couple hundred dollars to upwards of $1000+ for the likes of Lafite Rothschild and other first growth chateaux. I can’t afford that but I wanted to at least taste a wine from the legendary vintage.

Now $30 is a pretty cheap price to pay for a 1982 Bordeaux so I wasn’t expecting much. I was basically hoping it hadn’t already turned to vinegar. It was in fact over the hill but my overall impression was “not bad.”

It was red clay in color (a sign of a fading wine) with smoky wood on the nose alongside fading notes of chocolate and cherry. Chewy texture with a medium long finish but overall a bit out of balance. Still, aged Bordeaux wine is a taste unto itself and I basically thought I got my money’s worth.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

2001 Chateau Bourgneuf (Pomerol-Bordeaux)

Sherry Lehmann has a great wine sale going on right now where they’re selling the 2001 Château Bourgneuf from the Pomerol region of Bordeaux for $20 a bottle where it typically retails for approximately $35.

Deep dark red in color. The first whiff on the nose is mint and chocolate followed by notes of cedar, tobacco, coffee, and blueberry. Mint and chocolate on the palate as well. There is also a very slight herbal element which might be my only knock on this wine. Full bodied with a long chewy finish

As mentioned, Sherry Lehman has this wine on sale for $20. For comparison purposed, you can also find this at Martin Brothers Wine and Spirits on the Upper West Side for $35 and it retails on the internet for approximately $35 to $45.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

2005 Commanderie de Peyrassol (Provence)

This is the second wine of Provence’s Peyressol Chateau and is a blend of Grenache, cinsault, and syrah mouvedre. It is light pink in color with floral notes, carnation maybe? In taste, it’s minerally accompanied by stone fruit and strawberries. It’s wonderfully refreshing and a perfect wine for a warm summer afternoon or evening. I would recommend it.

As for food pairing, I’d drink this with anything you’d pack in a picnic basket. It would also pair nicely with spicy Asian food.

This was $11 at Garnet on 68th and Lexington or at Martin Brothers Wine on the Upper West Side at 107th St. and Broadway.

1997 Pichon Lalande (Bordeaux)

From one of the most stunning estates in all of Bordeaux! The 1997 vintage was relatively uneven but in my opinion, many good chateaux produced wonderful early drinking wines and now is the time to enjoy them.

The 1997 Pichon Lalande is one of those wines. Saddle leather and tobacco on the nose with cassis and black cherry. It’s ruby red in color and medium bodied. Soft and velvety in texture with a medium long finish. This is a great wine in my opinion and a good way to enjoy this fantastic estate at a price lower than what other vintages sell for.

This wine was purchased at D. Sokolin Wine in Long Island for $50 a bottle. You can order it from there. An internet search through Wine Zap shows that you can order this from various other places across the country for between $50 and $70.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Vinovino - Another Visit (Tribeca)

We sampled a couple wines on our most recent visit to Vinovino. One was the 2003 Mt. Jefferson Curve Pinot Noir from Cristom and the other was a “Gill’s Farm” Viognier from Pikes Winery in South Australia.

The Mt. Jefferson Pinot Noir was brick red in color with a cedar/woodsy nose and notes of clove and black licorice. Its medium bodied with a medium long finish and a silky texture. It’s a nice wine which sells for $14 a glass or $46 a bottle in the bar or for $28 in the store. However, it’s tasted better to me in the past and I’m looking forward to trying the 2004 to compare.

The 2003 can still be had for $28 at Columbus Circle Wines. The 2004 vintage is out and listed for $30 at K&D Wines but I’ve also seen it a Union Square Wines. In addition, Garnet is selling half-bottles of the 2004 for $14 if you literally just want a taste.

The 2004 “Gill’s Farm” Viognier from Pikes Winery in South Australia has hints of grapefruit and leeche on the nose but it looses its fruit on the palette. It’s medium bodied and light yellow in color. It sells for $9 by the glass and $34 by the bottle in the bar. I wasn’t able to check the store price and the only other place I’ve seen it is for $25 from Honestly though, I’m planning on skipping this wine next time I visit.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

2001 Palazzo Della Torre-Allegrini (Verona - Italy)

Allegrini’s 2001 Palazzo Della Torre is from Verona, Italy and contains a blend of 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Sangiovese. It’s a meaty wine. It’s garnet in color and there’s a woody earthiness to it on the nose along with hints of tobacco with underlying dark fruit. Full bodied with a lot of structure and a chewy finish. You could probably lay this down in a cellar (or the back of a closet) for a couple years to soften it up a little but its still good right now. It all depends on your taste. Recommended food pairing would be with some sort of game or grilled meat.

This is selling for $15 at PJ Wines and for $17 at both Garnet Wines and at Sherry Lehmann. I think it’s a great value at that price. You can also get it for $19 at K&D Wines and for $20 at either Columbus Circle Liquors or Union Square Wines. It appears to be in stock at most good NYC wine stores so there might be other deals out there too.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

2001 Limerick Lane 1023 (Sonoma County)

The 2001 Limerick Lane 1023 is a blend of 50% Zinfandel and 50% Syrah. It’s a big wine. Garnet in color. Its nose has a lot of smoked wood on top and blackberry and other dark fruit underneath. It’s full bodied with a medium long finish and a soft texture. Very good but it needs the right food to go a long with it and I’d recommend grilled meats.

We were treated to this wine at our friends Julanne and Julie’s house who purchased it at the winery in the Russian River Valley region of Sonoma County in California. There were only 150 cases of this produced and it appears that you have to order it through the winery to get a bottle. The cost is $35 and at that price, I’d probably wouldn’t recommend going that far but would say to check out the winery if you’re in the area and maybe pick up a bottle or two there. Julanne insists it’s one of her favorite places to visit in the area and I’m planning on making it there myself one day.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

May 2006 - Recent Notes and Postings - Pt. 1

Welcome to NYC Wine Notes, a blog that you should think of as a mini online guide to wine in New York City based on my own experiences. On these web-pages, you will see tasting notes along with links to the stores in New York City that currently carry them along with the price I paid at the time. You’ll also find links to wine bars, restaurants, and wine shops, along with a narrative of my impressions and experiences.

This web site will be continually updated with this main page serving somewhat as a table of contents for my recent experiences but please check out the archives and expecially the Wine Index page for an alphabetical list of tasting notes, restaurants, and wine bars.

Recent Notes

The wine bargain of the month might be the 2005 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. At $12 from Sherry Lehmann, think of it as a nice summer white to take to Central Park as the days get warmer.

Not as much of a bargain at $40 but still fantastic in my opinion is the 2001 Montiano from the Lazio region of Italy and made by Falesco. It’s a 100% Merlot and a solid choice as a special occasion red in that price range.

2004 Standing Stone Vidal Ice for $27 at Vintage NY is a tremendous bargain for anyone who likes dessert wines. It’s from the Finger Lakes region of New York and would be a good choice for the fruit based desserts (a nice peach tart for example) that seem to be more popular in the summer.

On the restaurant and wine bar front, it might be worth checking out Landmarc in Tribeca for its wine program which basically offers wines at retail price. Since they don’t take reservations, think about heading down to the Vinovino wine bar down the block while waiting for your table. They have fantastic selections by the glass. If you either on the Upper East Side or just in the mood for a French Bistro experience, check out Le Bateau Ivre where they excel in French comfort food and also offer great wines by the glass in a cozy setting.


I like to view wine as a journey and this blog as my travel memoirs in a way. I fully recognize that this is just one persons opinion and that it may widely doffer from others experiences. I think the diversity in wine including personal tastes, its wide range of prices, and the various ways it accompanies life from backyard picnics to 4 star restaurants, is one of the drinks greatest attributes. That said I’d like to hear your experiences, especially when they differ from my own.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Le Bateau Ivre - East 51st St. (East Side

Landmarc, located at 179 West Broadway in Tribeca has one of the more progressive wine lists in the city and in my opinion, has some of the best grilled meats around.

First the wine. One of Landmarc’s virtues is what they call their “wine program” which is really just a fancy way of saying that the vast majority of their wines are priced at retail or just slightly above. In addition, they do not serve wine by the glass in order to avoid serving anyone a wine that’s sat on the shelf for too long. To make up for this, they have an extensive list of ½ bottles. Personally, I wish all restaurants followed this philosophy.

Second is the food where I believe they really excel at grilled meats and especially lamb and steak. However, their selections of salads and seafood are also strong.

The décor is heavy on the exposed brink with modern touches to the bar area and seating. The back of the restaurant has an open grill where you can watch the hanger steak sizzling away. The biggest complaint is the bar area is on the small side which can be somewhat of an issue as the wait can typically be an hour plus on busy nights. They do not take reservations.

The wait staff is young and are fine when it comes to helping with food. However, don’t expect high quality assistance with the wine unless you talk specifically with the sommelier/beverage director.

I’ve been to the restaurant twice and have had positive experiences both times. This last trip was highlighted by a perfectly cooked hanger steak ($27) preceded by an excellent shrimp salad ($16) that was just large enough to share with my wife. The highlight though wa the $75 bottle of 2000 Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino which was a perfect pairing with our meats and at $75 was priced at retail. This wine would have been at least $100 or more elsewhere and I would have passed on it at that price. Here, you can get it and feel like it’s a splurge.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

2005 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)

This minerally white Sauvignon Blanc is very crisp with floral notes and lemon citrus. This wine doesn’t have the “zing” that I’ve seen in other Sauvignon Blancs but it goes down smooth and easy. A great everyday wine, especially for the price.

The 2004 Dashwood was one of my favorite New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. I don’t think the 2005 is quite as good. It does lack that zing that I liked in the first, but I still think this is a fantastic value that I’d keep on hand.

It can be found around the city, including Sherry Lehmann where they sell it for $12 and that might be the high end price.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Blind Tasting of 2004 Rieslings and various Merlots with Brian & Lisa

Blind wine tasting can yield some unexpected surprises. This was the lesson learned recently when my wife Tahirih and I got together with our friends Brian and Lisa to compare three bottles of 2004 Riesling and three bottles of Merlot across a couple vintages. I was in charge of bringing two bottles each of the Riesling and merlot while Brian and Lisa took care of one bottle each and the food. Tahirih was charged with hiding the identity of the wines by placing them in paper bags and labeling then by number. She was the only one from the group who knew the identity of the wines.

My first mistake going into this was thinking that I could clearly guess the wines before their true identities were revealed and I basically succeeded with the Rieslings.

In the end we tasted the 2004 Martha Clara Riesling from the Northfork of Long Island, the 2004 Ravines Riesling from the Finger Lakes, and the 2004 Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett from Weingut Reuscher Haart in Mosel Valley Germany.

The 2004 Martha Clara was almost clear in color with notes of honeydew, melon, citrus, and pear. It was very minerally and acidic with a touch of tartness. It’s a complex wine with a few different things going on and thus not a great balance in my opinion. However, it’s acidity would make it great for Chinese food. Overall, not my favorite of the bunch. It was purchased by Brian and Lisa at the winery for $xx.

The 2004 Ravines Riesling was more golden in color with a slightly flinty and minerally nose mixed in with cantaloupe. There was a good balance between the acidity and the flavor. Smooth and crisp. It was a little more of a one-note wine as compared to the Santa Clara but I liked it a little more.

The 2004 Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett was fantastic. Light gold in color with notes of leeche, pineapple, and a little bit of honey. There’s a little bit of zing at the beginning and then moves to a smooth, nicely balanced wine with a medium-light body. It was a classic Riesling.

I was able to guess which wine was which during the blind tasting but partially only because I had glimpsed the gold aluminum around the Ravines and deduced the German wine because it was just too distinctive compared to the rest.

As for the wines, I preferred the Piesporter Goldtropfchen followed by the Ravines and then the Martha Clare. More importantly, I learned the differenced between most domestic Rieslings and the German variety. German Rieslings tend to be less acidic, smoother, and with more body while the New York wines were more crisp and had a certain “zippiness” to them. Tahirih and Lisa also preferred the German wine while Brian like the cleanness of the Ravines.

The Merlots were a revelation to me. I provided a 2003 Pesano Merlot made by Falesco from Umbria, Italy along with a 2001 Chateau Mayne-Vieil from the Fronsac region of Bordeaux, a 90% Merlot-10% Cabernet Franc blend. Brian and Lisa contributed a non-vintage Collina 48 from Macari Vineyards in Long Island.

The 2003 Pesano was dark red/inky in color with lots of oak and secondary layers of strawberry and dark cheery. It was slightly acidic and just a little out of balance but still nice overall. Just not smooth.

The 2001 Mayne-Vieil was more brick red in color with notes of menthe, crème de cassis, and hints of cedar along with a peppery element. This was also more tannic but better balanced than the Pesano. Overall very good.

However, the NV Collina from Macari was a revelation in a way. It was dark cherry in color with notes of tobacco, cedar, and blackberry with a certain earthiness to it all. There was a very nice balance of tannin and acidity. Medium bodied with a nice long finish.

The revelation was this. I thought immediately it was the Bordeaux and I was convinced of this and I LOVE Bordeaux. In addition, I’ve never fallen for any Long Island wine and I think it’s one of the most over hyped regions from my New York City perspective.

I thought the Collina 48 was by far the best of the Merlots and was shocked when Tahirih revealed its identity. That’s the beauty of the blind tasting!

We all thought the Collina was the best of the bunch. Brian and I like the Mayne-Vieil 2nd best while Tahirih and Lisa liked the Pesano.

My lesson learned here is to maybe give Long Island another shot.

All in all they were good wines with no real duds but the bottom line is that we all had a great time and can’t wait to do this again. Thanks to Brian and Lisa for providing the wonderful food too!

Where to buy: Sherry Lehmann carries the Pesano ($14), Mayne Vieil ($12), and Piesporter Goldtropfchen ($16). The Ravines was bought at GCP Liqours in Elmire, NY for $14 but it’s Vintage New York may carry it in the future. Both the Martha Clara ($15) and the Collina 48 ($10) can be bought at their respective wineries.

Monday, April 24, 2006

2003 Belle Glos Pinot Noir “Clark & Telephone Vineyard” (Santa Barbara)

The 2003 Belle Glos Pinot Noir “Clark & Telephone Vineyard” is from the Santa Maria Valley in Santa Barbara.

The wine is light red in color with a cedar and tobacco aroma. As for the fruit, it’s a jammy wine with strawberry and red cherry. It’s a bit hollow on the palate with a medium finish.

Wine Spectator gave this wine a somewhat harsh score of 77 out of 100. While I don’t know if I would have given it a 77 were I a professional wine taster, I do agree that overall this wine is a lacking when compared to some of the other Central Coast Pinots I’ve tasted.

Sherry Lehmann carries this for $40 and at that price, I’d look elsewhere. There are too many other good Pinots competing for our dollars to make me want to give this one another try although it may improve with some bottle age.

2000 Poggio Antico (Brunello di Montalcino - Tuscany)

Poggio Antico is one of my personal favorites when it comes to my somewhat limited experience with Brunellos. However, from what I have tasted from this producer, I’ve yet to be disappointed.

The 2000 Poggio Antico is very dark red in color. There’s a smoky characteristic on the nose with notes of cedar and tobacco. Dark fruit is prevalent with what I thought were notes of blackberry but there are also hints of chocolate. It’s a big wine with a long, lingering finish. However, even for its size, it still shows some finesse. I would recommend decanting for at least an hour before serving. I think this is an excellent wine although I’ve liked other vintages a little bit better including the 1999.

I was able to taste this wine at Landmarc, a restaurant in Tribeca which has an excellent wine program where they offer most of their wines at very close to retain price. This cost $75 which is very close to the wine’s suggested retail price. In fact, Zachy’s sells this for $75 while Morrell’s has it for $65.

Landmarc (Tribeca)

Landmarc, located at 179 West Broadway in Tribeca has one of the more progressive wine lists in the city and in my opinion, has some of the best grilled meats around.

First the wine. One of Landmarc’s virtues is what they call their “wine program” which is really just a fancy way of saying that the vast majority of their wines are priced at retail or just slightly above. In addition, they do not serve wine by the glass in order to avoid serving anyone a wine that’s sat on the shelf for too long. To make up for this, they have an extensive list of ½ bottles. Personally, I wish all restaurants followed this philosophy.

Second is the food where I believe they really excel at grilled meats and especially lamb and steak. However, their selections of salads and seafood are also strong.

The décor is heavy on the exposed brink with modern touches to the bar area and seating. The back of the restaurant has an open grill where you can watch the hanger steak sizzling away. The biggest complaint is the bar area is on the small side which can be somewhat of an issue as the wait can typically be an hour plus on busy nights. They do not take reservations.

The wait staff is young and are fine when it comes to helping with food. However, don’t expect high quality assistance with the wine unless you talk specifically with the sommelier/beverage director.

I’ve been to the restaurant twice and have had positive experiences both times. This last trip was highlighted by a perfectly cooked hanger steak ($27) preceded by an excellent shrimp salad ($16) that was just large enough to share with my wife. The highlight though wa the $75 bottle of 2000 Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino which was a perfect pairing with our meats and at $75 was priced at retail. This wine would have been at least $100 or more elsewhere and I would have passed on it at that price. Here, you can get it and feel like it’s a splurge.

Vinovino (Tribeca)

Vinovino is a relatively wine venture in Tribeca which combines an attractive and sleak wine bar with a trendy wine store which has a small, by most standards, but select selection of wines not found in your typical wine store. They best part, you can sample a wine at the bar and then walk right into the store and purchase a bottle to take home.

What they’ve done with the approximately 20 by 30 foot space is divide it down the middle for the first 3/4th of the store with a glass wall from floor to ceiling. On the left side as you walk in, there are banquettes and small coffee tables along the side wall and on the right hand side is the store. The store is very orderly and neatly kept up. Afterall, its wide open for all to see. The back of the space opens up to allow space for the bar itself and a few more tables. It’s a very relaxing place for an after work drink and I’ve never seen it too crowded.

The wine list has plenty to choose from with about 20 whites and reds by the glass to choose from including a small selection of dessert wines and even sake. In addition, you can choose a selection of cheeses, cured meats, and even pate to nibble on.

During our visit, we had a red Châteauneuf du Pape and a white German Riesling.

The Châteauneuf du Pape was the 2001 Chante Cigale which was an earthy wine with deep red color and a spicy nose. There were notes of dark fruit, smoke, tobacco, and even truffles. The texture was soft and lush with a long finish. The wine sells for $12 a glass or $40 a bottle in the wine bar. However, you can have it for $32 from the store if you want to take it home.

The white was a 2004 Grunhauser Riesling Spatlese Maximin from Mousel Saar Ruwar. It was off dry and slightly sweet with floral notes along with honey, apricots and a touch of lemon. Nice zing of acidity. An overall lovely wine that sells for $11 a glass or $40 a bottle in the bar but a much less $25 from the store.

Overall, a very enjoyable place to go and worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Food Network Party at Bar Americain (Midtown)

One of the perks of my job working in media is the corporate party and one of the best corporate parties I’ve attended was Food Network’s Revealing of The Next Food Network Star hosted by Bobby Flay at his restaurant Bar Americain in mid-town Manhattan.

The restaurant was closed to the public for the party and the place was packed with about two hundred people including Food Network chefs, contestants from the show, advertisers, and executives from the network.

However, the real focus was on the food. Hors d'oeuvres included an amazing array of fresh raw oysters, lobster and avocado in a citrus vinaigrette, shrimp in pesto sauce, sautéed wild mushrooms on toast, mini crabcakes, pulled pork in BBQ sauce of toast, and rotisserie chicken. The buffet included cauliflower in gratin, yellow corn in cream sauce, halibut with avocado salsa, beef tenderloin, and spicy BBQ chicken. Desserts included an incredible array of chocolate goodies including dark chocolate brownies with hazelnuts and cherry and almond cookies with raspberry.

While the wines at events like these are pretty innocuous, the liquor was top shelf and I was able to finagle two glasses of fantastic port that I probably would have not otherwise ordered on my own.

The Ports

The first was a full bodied 1980 Warre that tasted like pure blueberries to me with a nice long finish.

The second was a 1997 Churchill which was pure crème de cassis, more medium bodied with a medium long finish,

Both were excellent in my opinion but I thought the 1980 Warre was more unique to my experience of ports.

Overall, the party was a fantastic experience and the food presented at Bar Americain was so good that I would definitely return for a “real” visit for dinner.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

2000 Bordeaux Dinner at the Biltmore Room (Chelsea)

It’s not often that I get a chance to taste wines that I would never ever be able to afford under my current financial state.

That’s why when I found out about a 2000 Bordeaux dinner at the Biltmore Room in Chelsea , I jumped at the chance. Reason number one was the price. It was $165 per person which is significantly less that the typical $300+ dinners I’ve seen elsewhere. Reason number two was this list of wines they were pouring, They included Latour, Haut Brion, Ausone, Valandraud, Lafite, and Mouton. The Ausone along is selling for around $700 a bottle and the rest aren’t that far behind.

However, some things are too good to be true.

We were also looking forward to having dinner at the Biltmore Room which received three stars from the New York Times when it was reviewed in 2003 by
William Grimes. The meal did not disappoint. The décor of the restaurant was amazing as they incorporated gilded arches, marble, and the revolving door from the original Biltmore Hotel which was demolished in 1981. The space itself is worth the visit alone.

Our 5 course dinner did not disappoint. The first course was Sashimi of Fluke and Green Almonds followed by Holland White Asperagas. These as appetizers were fantastic. The Asperagas along was so fresh that I was amazed they were able to find vegetables of that quality in March. Our “pre-entre” was a Marjoram Scented Grilled Quail which which was good enough that for me the dinner could have ended there. However, ending the meal was Algerian Spiced Roast of Rack Lamb which aside from being on the the best cuts of meat I’ve had, was also cooked to perfection. It was rare but the meat itself was so tender, I probably could have eated it raw. Finishing off everything was a soft cheese, Brillat Savarin which was paired with the last two wines of the evening.

The wines…. Well…. They were fantiastic overall but not the ones advertised. For one, missing where the Haut Brion, Latour, AND Ausone! The very wines I was probably looking forward to the most. Because of that, it certainly felt like false advertising.

However, the wines we did have were nothing to sneeze at. They included the white Laville Haut Brion, Valandraud, Angelus and the promised Lafite and Mouton Rothschild.

The Wines

The 2000 Laville Haut Brion was fantastic. This Sémillon is very stylish and full bodied with an oaky nose, minerality, and melon. This was really different from any other Bordeaux based white that I’ve ever had. Fantastic.

The 2000 Valandraud was the one wine during the dinner I was just a little disappointed in. However, it’s all a matter of context. Had I drank this wine on its own, I probably would have loved it but up against the likes of Lafite and Mouton, its flaws where exposed. The wine was tannic and you could tell it needed a little bit of bottle age. However, this wine was so tannic with a very oaky nose that it was hard to tell if the black fruit underneath would emerge with time. It definitely needs more time to develop as all these reds did.

The 2000 Angelus was fantastic and the most accessible of all the wines tasted. It was very dark garnet in color with notes of crème de casis. Very full bosied and rich with an incredibly long finish. This is the bottle I would feel ok about opening now.

The big boys of the tasting were the 2000 Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild.

The 2000 Lafite was pure elegance and austerity. It was dark garnet in color with notes of minterality/graphite on the nose all intermingles with black fruit, currant, and tobacco. An amazingly long finish. Very flavorful right now but there’s a big tannic quality to this wine right now. It’ll last forever.

The 2000 Mouton Rothshild….. I would step out on a limb and say this is one of the best wines I’ve ever tasted. This wine was surprisingly soft, velvety and elegant for a still young wine with loads of black currant and coffee notes. It’s dense and is another wine that will probably last forever. For example, some suggest that it needs at least 24 hours of decanting and even that might not be enough. Very very long finish.

Overall, these wines were great and I relished the opportunity to taste them. Still, I feel a bit jipped that the Latour, Ausone, and Haut Brion were not represented and if I do this again, I would call ahead of time to confirm the wines.

2004 Standing Store Vidal Ice (Finger Lakes)

Standing Stone, a winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York offers one of the best values in dessert wines with their Vidal Ice. The wine is made from vidal blanc grapes and rather than letting the grapes freeze on the vine as would be required with a true “ice wine”, they pick the grapes after the leaves have dropped from the vines and then they commercially freeze them just before the crush. The resulting wine is full of sweet nectar fruit such as apricots and nectarines with a honey nose and zing. This is a really mouthwatering wine that doesn’t have the cloying finish of many other dessert wines. It consistently earns a 90 score from Wine Spectator. Alcohol level is approximately 12% with 21% of residual sugar.

Vintage New York in the city carries the wine for $27 at both their Soho and Upper West side stores. It can also be bought directly from the Standing Store website for $25 or at the winery. One nice thing about the Standing Stone website is that they list where in New York State you can wine their wines at either retail stores or in restaurants.
Finally, while researching this wine, I came across a podcast from The Wine Scout where Patricia, the woman behind the site, interviews Marti Macinski, the owner of Standing Store. It’s worth a listen and the site itself is worth checking out.

2000 Hochar (Lebanon)

The 2000 Hochar is from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. It is the second wine of Chateau Musar which has often been compared as being in the same category as a 3rd-5th growth Bordeaux.

The wine has strong notes of cedar and spice with a nice lingering cherry taste. It’s brick red in color with a soft texture and medium finish.

It is currently available for $20 from the Chelsea Wine Vault in the Chelsea Market but that is the only shop I’ve seen it in.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

2004 Domaine Sauvion "Les Ombelles" (Loire Valley)

The 2004 ''Les Ombelles'' Pouilly-Fume from Domaine Sauvion is a crisp clean wine with some minerality and notes of light citrus. It’s pale yellow in color with a round texture. Overall, good but not a great wine. I’ve had fantastic New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs lately that I like more, the 2004 Dashwood and 2005 Babich are two that come to mind.

However, it’s getting harder and harder to find Pulley Fume’s for less than $20 and I do think this is a decent expression of the region and might not be a bad starting point for someone just learning about these Loire Valley wines.

This was $16 at Sherry Lehmann ( which is the only store I’ve seen it for sale at.

2004 Ravines House White (Finger Lakes)

Ravines Wine Cellars ( a Finger Lakes Winery in Hammondsport, NY where it sits along the Eastern Shore of Keuka Lake. They make a total of seven wines, the best of which is their Riesling. The owner and wine maker used to work at Dr. Konstantin Frank ( and then moved on to open this venture just a couple years ago.

In addition to the Riesling and a Chardonnay on the white end, they also make a House White. The 2004 version is pale yellow in color with citrus notes with lighter notes of apricots and peach. It’s a crisp wine with just a tad of sweetness. It would make a great companion to Chinese take-out.

2002 Jim Barry - Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia)

The 2002 Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon from Jim Barry is a big meaty wine. It’s nearly black in color with an almost inky thick texture. This offering is very fruit forward with notes of prunes and black cherry but it also has hints of coffee or mocha. It’s dry with a medium long finish. Overall, good but not exactly to my taste and at 15% alcohol, I thought this wine was a bit hot for my taste. Fans of big California Cabernets or Zinfandels might want to give this a try.

I found it for $17 at Sherry Lehmann ( after keeping an eye out for it around New York. The only other place I know that carries it is Union Square Wine ( where they sell it for $20.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

2002 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir (Oregon)

My past experience with wine clubs has been hit and miss. My wife and I have had three gift memberships given to us and we’ve subscribed on our own once. Three of those experiences have been with which seems to have a decent market share of the business if you consider that they, along with The California Wine Club, rise to the top of the list in internet searches. While my own experiences have been limited, I intend to do some research and write more on the topic at a later date.

In the meantime, today’s selection comes from’s “Big Bold Reds” club. It’s the 2002 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir.

The wine is brick red in color with spice, notably nutmeg, and dark fruit, leaning towards a black cherry, on the nose. The oak has made its presence known but not in an overbearing way. Overall it has a soft texture and a medium long finish. It’s good wine for immediate consumption that I’d feel good about bringing to a party.

The club is selling this wine on special for $10.99 as a special with a regular price of $18.99. As a $20 Pinot I think it’s ok but not great as I’ve had various other fantastic Pinots for just a few dollars more. However, I think it’s a terrific value at $10.99 . I haven’t come across this wine in any of the New York City shops I’ve been to recently but it doesn’t mean its not out there. A quick internet search leads me to believe that if you do find it, the price will probably fall in the $15-$19 range. At that point, you’ll have to judge for yourself.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

2003 Jean Marc Brocard-Fourchaume (Chablis Premiere Cru)

This 2003 Chablis was recommended to us by an associate at Sherry-Lehmann ( who thought it would be a nice "complimentary contrast" to the buttered sole we were having that night. The recommendation was a good one.

This complex wine is straw yellow in color with floral notes mixed in with hay. I also thought the nose reminded me of seaside air. Fresh with a great balance of sweetness to acidity along with a honeyed texture. It's a structured wine with a nice lingering finish.

Sherry-Lehmann sells this wine for $29 but I know I've seen it elsewhere in New York.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

2002 L'Ostal Cazes (Languedoc)

The 2002 L'Ostal Cazes is a relatively new venture from Jean-Michel Cazes and his son Jean-Charles of Lych-Bages fame. The wine comes from vineyard land they purchased in the Minervois district of the Languedoc region in France. L'Ostal Cazes is the grand vin of the property and it, along with their more entry level Circus Shiraz and Shiraz-Cabernet come from 150 acres of vines on the 370 acres they purchased in 2002. Winemaking is overseen Daniel Llose who is also the managing wine director at the Cazes properties in Bordeaux, including Chateau Lynch-Bages and Ormes de Pez.

The wine is a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, and Carignan. It's ruby red in color with aromas of cassis, blueberry, cedar, and chocolate. Lush with a medium long finish. Overall a very solid wine what I found went well with a more casual meal like herb chicken. In my vernacular, this is a great "Thursday or Friday night wine" where you want to drink something good with a quick-fix meal.

The only wine store I know of in New York that carries this is Sherry Lehmann ( where it sells for $30.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

1995 Caparzo La Casa (Brunello di Montalcino-Tuscany)

The 1995 La Casa from Caparzo is hands down one of the best Brunellos I've ever tasted. The wine is the reservia bottling and their high end Brunello in terms of the quality they try to put in the bottle. I've been a fan of their regular Brunello bottling, especially the 1999.

This particular bottle was from a vintage that wasn't exactly rated among the highest by the critics and the bottle itself was rated rated as above average. (An 88 by Parker and a 91 by Wine Spectator. Parker rated the 1995 vintage as an 88 as well.)

However, I think bottle aging has been very very kind to this La Casa. The wine is incradibly complex. Dark red in color. Smoky wood, tabacco, and dark fruits all intermingle on the nose. Cassis and cherry are also evident, first in the nose but more so on the palatte. It has a soft, velevety texture and a long long finish.

Overall, it's a medium bodied wine with structure and soft tannins now that its been in the bottle for over a decade. Important to note, this needs about an hours worth of decanting to bring out its complexity.

Price wise, this wine was a bargin for me at $40 from D. Sokolin in Long Island during one of their sales ( However, they're selling it for $80 now and that's the lowest I've seen it on the web. Luckily, I picked up two bottles and have one left!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

2004 Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes)

Light yellow in color. Tropical fruit on the nose including pineapple and lychee. Hints of honey complement. Very balanced with a long honey finish. This wine is drinking great now but could possible be aged a couple years. Very good.

It can be found in New York at Vintage (, a downtown store specializing in New York State wines. It cost $22 there and I believe the wine is good enough to warrant a price in the $20 range but buyer beware. Anyone taking a trip upstate can find this in either Ithaca or Elmira, NY (two towns in the Finger Lake region) for several dollars less.

Ithaca’s Northside Liquor and Wines ( sells it for $16 a bottle and buying three bottles or more will end up costing less than from Vintage. It might even be worth calling GCP ( in Elmira Heights as they often undercut Northside by a couple dollars and they have hands down the best selection of Finger Lake wines in the state.

It’s worth getting your hands on a couple bottles of this.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

2001 Montiano (Lazio - Italy)

Although not exactly inexpensive, this is to me a great value from Italy. A 100% Merlot Super Tuscan from Falseco, it has consistently been on of my favorite Merlots period regardless of vintage.

The 2001 is very dark red in color with aromas of red fruit and chocolate. A great combination! It has a very velvety texture, round and soft in the mouth. It’s got a long, lush finish. Overall a fantastic wine.

I’ve purchased all my bottles from D. Sokolin (, a place out on Long Island which delivers in the city. I’m only a so-so fan of the store as they give you the hard sell (especially watch out for their sometimes misleading e-mail offers) but they stock a lot of hard to find wines and some of them are offered at great prices. They are currently selling the 2001 Montiano for $40. I’ve seen it elsewhere for at minimum the same price but often more. If you’re looking for a restaurant experience with this wine, which I would highly recommend, it can be found on the list at Lavagna in the East Village ( for $85.