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.