Tuesday, December 30, 2008

'05 Stolpman Estate Syrah - Central Coast - California

The 2005 Stolpman Estate Syrah was savored this holiday season at Dante’s Restaurant in Syracuse.

It shows dark berry fruit on the nose including noticeable blackberry and cassis. Overall strong aromatics. This fruit forward wine is also full bodied with a thick, rich texture and a very long finish.

This was a really lovely wine that pairs easily with food even with its full bodied presence. It was the best wine of the holidays and at approximately $30 retail, I would look for again. I even thought that it was a fair price at $46 on Dante’s wine list.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

'07 Erath and '07 Argyle Pinot Noir - Willamette Valley - Oregon

This past holiday season featured both the '07 Erath and '07 Argyle Pinot Noirs from these two Oregon - Willamette Valley produces.
I feel prices are important to mention here as both are entry level pinots for both wineries with the Erath costing $19 and the Argyle $25 at Northside Wines in Ithaca.

The Erath was tasted first and proved to be the lighter in both a visual sense and in texture with a red cherry flavor mixed light floral notes with a slight hint of spice but I also detected some bitterness to it. It's a simple wine that requires food rather than just benefiting from it. Not really a wine to talk about.

The Argyle shared a similar profile with its light ruby red color and bright cherry nose. Cherries and spice also showed in tasting with the main differentiator from Erath being its medium body and finish which was longer by comparison. I also felt that this was a simple wine that needed food.

In the end, these two wines were simply not exciting to me. Fine and certainly not flawed but just quaffers in the end.

Normally I don't have a problem with this and would just move one but in this case I want to express two opinions. First, these wines are both commonly found in wine shops across the U.S. and are likely to be the first Oregon pinots that many will taste for the first time. Oregon is a fantastic pinot noir region and I fear that drinkers new to the state might not give the next level of pinot a chance after experiencing these. Second, at approximately $20+ a bottle, better values can be had even in the entry level from Burgundy. Namely from Drouhin and Louis Latour. Like I said, not exciting and somewhat disappointing as I was hoping for just little bit more.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Brooklyn Tasting Group: Burgundy

The Brooklyn Tasting Group got together this past Tuesday 10/28 and drank through some fantastic Burgundies.

Notes can be found here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

2006 Domaine de Mirail - Côtes de Gascogne - France

The 2006 Domaine de Mirail is a great $9 value from South West France’s Côtes de Gascogne region and made with the columbard grape, the white wine workhorse grape of the region.

The wine is pale yellow in color with a predominate aroma of green apples. There might be a bit of spice too, the kind you might find in a mulled cider.

Round and smooth texture, easy to drink and good acidity to make it very food friendly. This is a simple wine to drink and not really think about. To that end, it does everything asked of it and does it well.

A good value at $9 from Sherry Lehmann and Garnet Wines.

Monday, October 20, 2008

2004 Chateau Leoville Barton - St. Julien - Bordeaux

I recently had the opportunity to sample the ’04 Leoville Barton at Sherry Lehmann weekend tasting where proprietor Anthony Barton was signing bottles.

Before I get into my tasting scribbles, I just have to say that I loved having the opportunity to taste this wine so early in its life. I was able to sample this as a barrel sample in 2005 and picked up a few bottles to lay down for a while. Being able to sample this young and chart its development without having to pop the cork on a $50+ bottle is great!

Dark and almost black in color. Concentrated with a lot of complex and rich aromas. These include black currants and charcoal/smoky aroma among others. Still very vary tannic. This needs a long time to soften up. Velvety texture and a very long finish.

This wine is very good and I can’t wait to pop open another bottle in 10 years time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

2005 Fiefs de Lagrange – St. Julien – Bordeaux

Another wine that is still on the young side but this was opened as a way to “guess” at what the ’05 Lagrange; the first wine of the estate where Fiefs de Lagrange is the second wine; will taste like when ready a few years from now.

This is purple hued with tar notes and nice ripe fruits consisting mainly of black currant. Its earthy with nice overall aromatics.

Dry and slightly tannic texture so even this could still use another couple years of age to soften up some.

The dark jammy black currant also comes out on the taste.

Medium bodied with a long finish.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

1999 Le Moulin – Pomerol – Bordeaux

This is a wine I had been wanting to try for a long time, namely because Robert Parker has said that the 1999 Le Moulin “exhibits a kinship with the famed Pomerol, Le Pin.” But consider this. I picked this up for $50 from WineBid.com where the 1999 Le Pin retails for $1000+ a bottle if you can find it!

This is an inky purple in color with a gorgeous and complex aroma of black fruit consisting of blackberry and cassis. But there is also a tart raspberry on the red side. Most noticeable is the spice which consists of a noticeable mint.

Beautiful texture with smooth tannins. Dry with a long velvety finish.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

2006 August West – Rosella’s Vineyard – Pinot Noir – Santa Lucia Highlands - California

Brick red with a somewhat rustic and rough essence to it. Slightly vegetal on the nose but this is overshadowed by the nice dark fruit, noticeably blueberry. There are also nice black cherry notes here too.

Smooth, well balanced and with a medium long finish. Surprisingly, at 14.7% alcohol, you don’t really notice it on the taste (but do so after helping finish off a bottle!)

Very nice overall. $45 from the August West website.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

2004 Chateau La Nerthe – Chateauneuf du Pape – Rhone – France

This is a blend of 56% Grenache, 24% Syrah, 12% Mourvedre, and 8% Cinsault. It’s also another wine I bought and decided to open up before it had much age on it as a way to gauge what “young” wines taste like.

This has nice dark fruit aromas black currant and black cherry along with dark violets and chocolate. Most noticeable though are the white pepper aromas that emerge at the end. It is a deep rich purple color with a somewhat tannic structure but still smooth (although it would certainly become smoother with age.

This is a nice and solid wine that although it drinks well know, I can tell that with enough age (or air), it will just soften and blossom.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

2005 Chateau Kefraya “Les Breteches” – Bekka Valley – Lebanon

Dark purple color with fruit notes, most predominant being blackberry. Cedar as well. There is also noticeable but not overpowering alcohol. On the taste there is a nice mix of tea and spices. Full bodied and creamy texture with soft tannins.

Good wine. This Chateau Kefraya is $13 from Northside Wines in Ithaca, New York and it’s a nice and affordable example of what Lebanon has to offer in wine.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2005 Moshin Vineyards – Russian River Valley – Pinot Noir – California

Cheery red color with a spicy nose mixed in with oak. Fruit is in the background but what is there is mainly cherry. Interestingly, this wine seems like its high in alcohol / “hot” with it coming more noticeably on the nose but also on the taste. I say this is interesting because the alcohol level is listed at 13% which I don’t consider to be excessive. Slightly tannic with a medium long finish.

This was a $30 winery purchase from our trip to California last year. The Moshin winery itself was interesting (we got the tour) as it is a gravity flow and they hold the philosophy of going light with grape manipulation.

This wine is their entry level Pinot Noir. I think its aromatics are better than its taste or texture and because of that, its an ok effort but that’s it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

2005 Marquis de Fonsequille – Vacqueyras – Rhone – France

Purple hued with red brick towards the edges. Overall fruit forward with predominate cherry and strawberry notes. Accented by cedar aromas.

Medium bodied with overall good balance of fruit and acidity. Soft and round texture but with a somewhat short finish.

Overall decent wine and at $15 from Northside Wines in Ithaca, not bad. Would by again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

2005 La Vieille Cure – Fronsac – Bordeaux

Deep inky red color with a rich bouquet of blackberry, cassis and blueberry along with oak and the slightest hints of a floral nature. But it’s hard to tell on that last one.

Concentrated, dry and tannic as I would expect a young and age worthy wine to be. But what does come across on the taste is a great combination of dark chocolate and berry.

Super long finish.

This was also opened in my quest to sample young Bordeaux at the beginning of their aging journey. Luckily I have a few more of this wine as I really think this is going to blossom.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

2006 St. Innocent Pinot Gris – Vitae Vineyard – Willamette Valley – Oregon

Tasted on our recent visit to Portland, Oregon. Purchaced for $19 from a great wine shop/wine bar down the street from our hotel called Oregon Wines on Broadway.

This was straw yellow in color. Very floral with that possibly being honeysuckle or hawthorn but what the heck do I know about plant smells. (little…) Green apples are noticeable on the tongue along with apricots.

This also has a creamy texture which seems to be a hallmark of the Pinot Gris wines that I’ve liked. Medium bodied with a long finish.

Definitely worth picking up if you find it although I have never seen this one the west coast. I’ve only seen St. Innocents well made Pinot Noirs here on the east coast.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

2006 Louis Michel & Fils “Montmain” – Chablis Premiere Cru – Burgundy

Straw colored wine with flinty mineral notes. There is also a nice aromatic floral essence along with some nice citrus but the “slate” really comes across the most.

There is a slightly “grassy” taste along with stone fruit but I don’t think this wine comes across as “green.”

Smooth texture with a perfect acidic touch at the end making this a great food pairing white. B. $40 at Chelsea Wine Vault.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

2004 Chateau Gloria – St. Julien – Bordeaux

Inky black concentrated color with predominate aromas of black fruit and smoke. Cassis and fresh leather maybe… Hints of berry and tar… Lots going on with the smell. Dry texture with loads of tough tannins that will certainly soften over time. Somewhat “steely” right now as well. Long finish.

This wine was intentionally opened “young” and I’m in the learning stage of figuring out what age worthy wines taste like at their first/infant stages.

I’m guessing that this is a more “classic” style of Bordeaux that will be ready to drink in a few more years or a few hours in a decanter.

PS – The second half of the bottles was sealed and saved for the next day where the tannins and softened and smoothed out considerable, leaving all the aforementioned aromas in place. Much more approachable but I assume all with come together more harmoniously with actual bottle age.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

2006 Clos de Rochers – Pinot Blanc – Luxembourg

I’m starting to get turned on by these wines from Luxembourg as evidenced from my past experience with Clos de Rochers.

Their Pinot Blanc is hay colored with a noticeable and pleasant minerality along with light citrus notes. The texture is round and creamy with apricot as the predominant stone fruit. It’s also noticeable in the taste. Medium finish.

A solid and overall excellent wine. It’s also an excellent value at $14 from Northside Wines in Ithaca, New York.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

2006 Knapp – Dry Riesling – Finger Lakes

Pale yellow in color with a night light lime note mixed with flowers, green apples and nectarines.

This also has nice minerality, more prevalent on the taste than the nose. One thing about this wine though is that it lacks some crispness and the zip that I usually associate with Finger Lakes Riesling.

Still, this is a good wine. A perfect end if the summer quaffer.

This was $13 at Northside Wines in Ithaca, New York which makes it one of the more affordable Finger Lake Rieslings now-a-days. It’s a good wine and worth the price but like a said, best to think of this as a summer quaffer.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

2001 Viticcio Chianti Classico Riserva

This is a revisit of one of my favorite Chianti Classicos and it did not disappoint at all!

Rich red color with oak and earthy notes up front with the very well integrated dark berry and lighter cherry notes lurking just behind. Minerally and smooth with fine tannins and a long finish.

Lovely….. A!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

2004 Loring Pinot Noir – Gary’s Vineyard – Santa Lucia Highlands – California

Overall, this wine actually comes across as more cocktail than wine. It’s a candied colored red with a nice black cherry and spice aroma along with hints of oak and a general all over earthiness.

Cherry cola also comes across on the taste.

The texture is surprisingly smooth at first for a 15% alcohol wine but then the heats hits you at the end.

I fell that you really have to like this “high-octane” style to enjoy this wine and generally I do but the alcohol is too exposed here.

This is an ok wine overall. B-.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

1976 Leoville Las Cases - Bordeaux - France

This wine was tasted in 2004 around my birthday in February but I just found the note now so here it is. Word for word. Disclaimer – I knew much less about wine when I wrote this. Not that I know much more now!

Just a whiff of alcohol on the nose. Little acidity. Surprisingly light cherry at the front. Medium long finish.

Has lost some of its assumed complexity over time but it does become a little more interesting towards the end with some air. The finer cherry flavor comes back and the textures softened. Very Good.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

2004 Chateau Fougas – Maldoror – Cotes de Bourg – Bordeaux

Crimson colored with a rich aroma of dark fruit. Possibly “bilberry” according to my wife although neither one of us has ever had said “bilberry.” There are some tabac notes as well.

Dry with a lush texture but just a little bit of “heat” throws it off.

This wine can best be categorized as a fruit forward everyday drinking wine and as that, its absolutely fine. Especially at the $10 price tag from a Zachys sale. Comparatively, other vintages of Chateau Fougas sell for about $20 a bottle.

Overall B wine which I will enjoy on weeknight rather than weekends.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

2005 Arums de Lagrange – St. Julien – Bordeaux

This white Bordeaux is a lemon curd color with a wonderful floral aroma of Hawthorn (or at least that’s what I think it is – but full discloser that I’m not really all that great with plant and flower smells). It might also be Honeysuckle but again, see the aforementioned disclosure. Oak notes also make their appearance in a completely elegant and non-overbearing way. Very light citrus notes come in third. Round and slightly creamy texture but a light surprising “zip” at the end. Medium finish.

This is a fantastic wine and a solid B+. I might possible an A if it ages well. I have several bottles of this in my basement so I’ll wait and see. I also have one bottle each of the 2000 and 2004 vintages and all are different shades of yellow and gold.

I’ve had a few bottles of this since the ’05 was released last year but opened this one for my Mom as she had never had a white Bordeaux and was inspired to try one based on the recent Eric Asimov article in the New York Times.

Monday, August 04, 2008

2005 Chateau de Coulaine - Chinon ''Bonnaventure'' - Loire Valley -France

This purple tinged wine is soft and plush with black fruit and an earthy texture reminiscent of picking blackberries in the words of upstate New York during the heat of summer.

Not surprisingly, the wine’s flavor is one of crushed blackberries accented by a light kiss of earthy “woodsy-ness.” Cedar? Maybe…

The soft texture really makes this very food friendly wine memorable. B+.

It can be found at Sherry-Lehmann for $17.

Monday, July 28, 2008

2006 Inman Family Rosé of Pinot Noir

I’ll say upfront that plans originally stated that this wine was to be consumed last summer after our trip in San Francisco and Northern California. However, things happen and wine consumption for one member of our household had to be put on hold for nine months. Strict instructions were given not to touch certain wines and the 2006 Rose of Pinot Noir from Inman Family in Sonoma County, CA was one of them.

We were fortunately to meet Kathy Inman at a wine tasting in New York during Pinot Days in the Spring of ’07 where she graciously offered to offer pointers of where to visit should we ever make it out to Northern California. We took her up on the offer which also included a tasting of her own wines.

It was then that we had our first taste of her rosé…

A deep rich pink hued rosé with wonderful strawberry and a light spiced apple aroma. Round texture with the same spiced apple and strawberry taste. Smooth and still refreshing even a year later. Interestingly, you can also tell that this would have had a “zippier” acidity to it had it been opened last year. I suspect that today’s ’07 would have that crispness.

This is a wonderful wine and a perfect “buy” at the beginning of the summer so its easily on hand when its needed most.

Friday, July 25, 2008

2005 Alma Rosa – Pinot Gris – Santa Barbara County – California

Straw colored with honey suckle floral notes and evident minerality. Soft texture with peach as the dominate flavor. Accented by a touch of acidity.

Very nice and a very food friendly white for the remainder of the summer months.

Bought at the winery on vacation last year so look for the 2006 version if buying now. It can be had for $16.

Friday, July 18, 2008

2006 Querciabella Mongrana - Maremma, Tuscany

Back in April I wrote about the 2005 Mongrana from Querciabella, a new wine made in Tuscanny’s Maremma region by these venerable Chianti producers. The 2005 was their first vintage and they have since released their 2006.

This edition is garnet colored with dark berry and oak aromas with an earthy underbrush character as well. Fruits come across as dark cherry, blackberry and possibly blueberry.

There’s actually quite a bit going on aromatically with this wine.

It’s a bit astringent and very dry on the taste and texture but it has a lush feel and a long finish.

This is a good wine and is still at an affordable price.

This particular bottle was $15 at Garnet on the Upper East Side although they may be out of stock at the moment.

Personally I think this is a good wine and I’m pleased that Querciabella has produced another solid QPR wine in its second vintage.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

2006 Kosta Browne Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - California

This is a wonderful wine.

A ligher ruby red color with berry notes upfront but this turns into something much more complex with a little bit of air or, one would assume, with a little more age.

Emerging are Indian spices and notes of “fresh “ leather. Also coming through are blueberry and raspberry to go along with an overall earthiness.

But there is also a hard to describe “lightness” which dances to the top.

There is an overall creamy texture where the raspberry shows itself again. The long finish feels very soft.

Like I said, this is a wonderful wine and an A wine all the way.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Brooklyn Tasting Group: Oregon

This past Wednesday I had the pleasure of hosting the Brooklyn Tasting Group at my house where I choose the theme of Oregon wines with Pinot Noir for the reds and any white or rose that might come along. The company was fantastic and I think the food came out fine if I do say so myself. I can’t wait for the next one.

eRobertParker thread with tasting notes here.

Wines included:
Ponzi 2007 Pinot Gris
F. Cotat 2006 Chavignol Rose
St. Innocent 1998 Pinot Noir "Seven Springs"
St. Innocent 2005 Pinot Noir "Anden Vineyard"
Siduri 2006 Pinot Noir
J. Albin 2004 Pinot Noir "Laurel Vineyard" (although this was corked)
Patricia Green 2004 Pinot Noir
Sineann 2003 Pinot Noir "Covey Ridge"
Belle Soeurs 2003 Pinot Noir

Saturday, July 12, 2008

2006 Sauvion - Quincy ''Les Glaneuses'' – Loire Valley

This 2006 Quincy from Sauvion is pale yellow color with nice aromas of honeydew and a touch of floral.

Crisp, clean and fresh with a touch of acidity to liven it up. Tart lemon note on the tongue - but just tart enough to enhance and not detract.

Sauvigon Blanc is the grape.

This is a perfect summer quaffer and a good food wine.

Also a good value at $12 from Sherry Lehman.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

2005 Clos de Roches – Auxerrois - Luxembourg

Before talking about this wine, I have to say I thought the “shelf-talker” at Northside Wine in Ithaca was kinda funny, boasting that Clos des Rochers is “Listed as one of Luxembourg's Top 10 "Greatest Wine Producers".

Knowing that Luxembourg is basically the size of a postage stamp in comparison to pther European countries, I could halp but wonder exactly how many wineries were there in Luxembourg. Where their even 10?

A little research on the internet reveals no exact answer but I did find that there are 5 cooperative 'caves', which overall produce 70 % of Luxembourg’s wine with the rest being made up by another 20 independent wine growers. In all, there are just over 3,300 acres of vines in the country with the vast majority producing wine wine.
This is from the Auxerrois grape which can be found mainly in Alsace, the French Moselle, and Luxembourg. Admittedly, it was a grape I hadn’t had before.

The 2005 Clos de Roches – Auxerrois is pale yellow in color with a very floral nose accompanied by strong minerality and a hint of lemon zest. It has a soft overall texture with the lemons and flowers also coming through on the taste. I tried to narrow down the “flower taste”, which was actually really lovely, to something that made more sense but couldn’t come up with another apt description. It possessed nicce balance with a medium long finish. A really excellent summer white.

I thought this was a really solid value at $14 on sale from Northside Wines and still nice at its regular $16. Overall, I’d give this wine a B and would happily drink it throughout the rest of the summer.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

2000 Poggio Antico Altero – Brunello di Montalcino – Tuscany

This is reddish brown in color. The nose is cedar infused with blueberry and tabac with hints of leather. All lend the wine a “smoky” character.

Soft, elegant with sweet tannins and a long finish.

Excellent wine which was picked up for $40 a bottle off of Wines Til Sold Out.

Not a bad price for a Brunello nowadays.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Finnish Wines and European Union Farm Subsidies

Here is an interesting article on Finnish wine of all things and European Farm subsidies.

It appreared in the New York Times International section so it comes from a more "worldly" POV rather than being wine specific. There are also some interesting points being made regarding Global Warming.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

2005 Cap de Faugeres – Cotes de Castillion – Bordeaux

Deep red colored and an interesting red fruit aroma of strawberry laced with vanilla bean which I haven’t experienced in the Bordeaux wines I’ve had lately.

Earth, leather, and spice all come together after some air but the brighter fruit still remains upfront.

This wine is obviously young, being a 2005 and all and has the tannins to prove it.

It will age and soften for in a couple years. Now, its dry and soft with a long finish that really coats the mouth.

Very very good.

Purchased for $24 at Garnet Wines on the Upper East Side.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

NYC Wine Notes - Podcast - Wine Storage

Welcome to the third NYC Wine Notes Podcast where Dave and Lisa talk about storage issues in NYC. Jancis Robinson talks about the optimal conditions for storing wine on Page 87 of How to Taste.

Listen to Podcast: Podcast 5 (Wine Storage) – 20 Minutes

Sunday, June 15, 2008

2003 Sea Smoke – Botella Pinot Noir – Santa Rita Hills – California

Ruby red color and “light for a Cali Pinot”

Earthy and spicy with blackberry notes and maybe even some pepper. It has a rich aroma overall.

The spices also come though in the creamy texture and end with a long “peppery” finish.

Very well balanced and an A+ overall.

Really nice and an excellent way to celebrate my first Father’s Day!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

TN: 2006 Can Blue - Priorat - Spain

I had never had Can Blau, a red wine made from 40% Carinena, 40% Syrah, and 20% Grenache from the Priorat region of Spain.

It is deep purple colored wine with earthy blueberry and cedar along with subtle floral notes. Very nice aromatics. Medium bodied and smooth with a clean finish at first but a drawback is that you also get a sense of the 14.5% alcohol content if you hold it on the toungue.

The wine needs decanting if you’re not planning on holding on to it for 2 or 3 years. If you decant, the aforementioned alcohol burns off. I had this opened throughout the day and it had definitely softened up nicely 6 to 8 hours later.

This is available for $14.99 at Garnet Wines or $16.99 at Astor Wines. It’s a nice value at both prices (and especially Garnet’s). Enjoy!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

NYC Wine Notes - Podcast 2 - Alcohol and Weight

Welcome to our second NYC Wine Notes Podcasts where Brian, Lisa and I talk about the differences between alcohol and weight (Pg. 32 of How to Taste) while we drink the following wines:

2005 Selbach-Oster Riesling Kabinett - Bernkasteler Badstube - Mosel-Saar–Ruwer - Germany
2006 Four Vines “Naked” Chardonnay – Santa Barbara County – Calif.

2004 d'Arenberg "The Footbolt" Shiraz - McLaren Vale - Australia

The biggest takeaway from this podcast is that it most cases, it is possible to detect a “hot” wine when the alcohol is evident such on the “Footbolt” Shiraz but high alcohol is often less noticeable when everything is in balance.

Listen to Podcast:
Podcast (Alcohol and Weight)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

2006 Cuvée Natalie - Brander Vineyards - Santa Ynez Valley - California

The 2006 Cuvée Natalie from Brander Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley is a pale yellow color with mineral and light lemon notes. Smooth with a roundness that some “zippier” wines might not have but… this also does have that acidic zip at the end.

This wine is a blend of 58% Sauvignon Blanc, 22% Riesling, 15% Pinot Blanc and 5% Pinot Gris. The Brander website describes the Cuvée Natalie as “An eclectic and aromatic Sauvignon-based off-dry wine, blended with Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. All stainless steel fermented and bottled early to preserve its floral perfume” and from that you might think this is a “kitchen sink” type wine where they throw in their leftover white grapes.

I doubt the Brander winemakers really feel that way and you can tell immediately that this is a quality wine for what it is, a simply summertime white that would be excellent paired with food pairing. It has the zip to stand up to some spicier dishes and a roundness that would also go well with fuller fair like salmon or possible even a cheese based pasta sauce.

We bought this at the Brander Vineyard last summer on a trip to California but were just able to drink it now. It had lost its floral essence in that time.

They have since released their 2007 for $18 or $14.40 if you are a club member. At $18 I think it’s a nice wine to try a couple times. At $14.40, I’d probably be buying a lot more of this if they sold it in New York. I’ve yet to see it here though.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

2006 Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – California

The 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is a young wine and by all rights I should have probably let it sit in my cellar for another year or so.

However, the cork was popped…..

Light red and translucent color which is almost “burgundian”, much lighter than one might expect from a California Pinot Noir given their general reputation for being big, dark, and jammy.

Immediately out of the bottle, the most notable aromas are red berry, herbal notes and spices with a hint of cola. After a fair amount of swirling in the glass, the alcohol (14.8% as labeled on the bottle) shows itself and doesn’t fade away immediately. This was a major give-away that the wine was a bit young as the alcohol hadn’t had time to “burn off.”

The spice was also evident on the taste. The best feature of this wine and one that really makes it stand out is its smooth and refined medium bodied texture. Fruit seems to be a mix of strawberry and raspberry. Soft and medium long finish but one marked by a certain sense of heat from the alcohol.

I have little experience with aging California Pinot Noirs but this is one that I think could use some bottle age for a couple of reasons. First is to burn off some of the alchohol that’s evident up front. The second is that this wine has the earmarks of being a soft and elegant wine and a couple years will just enhance these qualities even more.

Luckily, I have a couple more bottles in the cellar to follow.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

NYC Wine Notes - Our First Podcast!

We’d like to introduce NYC Wine Notes first Podcast!

Back in January I decided that one of this year’s resolutions would involve the “education of my palate.” I’ve been more involved in wine over the past 5 years having had my “wine epiphany” in 2003. Since then, I’ve sought to educate myself as much as possible in regards to wine regions, grape differences, production, tasting, and just about anything else that goes along with this wonderful grape juice.

One aspect that I feel has been lacking is a more organized or insightful approach to the actual tasting of wine itself. I feel I know the basics of pour, sniff, swirl, look for color, texture, finish, etc but I’ve always felt that I would use more direction. Namely along the lines of developing a better sense of balance, acidity, nuances of tannins, and other aspects I often read about but find myself guessing at in actual tastings.

With this wish came the rediscovery of a book that’s been on my shelf for a while, Jancis Robinson’s How to Taste.

The book itself is really almost a guide and textbook that takes you through all aspects of wine tasting. Starting at the vary beginning with how to sniff and swirl to detecting different types of acidity, noticing sweetness, saltiness, tannins, affects of alcohol content, and through to the analysis of grape varieties.

All this is done though a series of lessons or “practices” as she calls them which puts different wines side by side as a way of detecting each individual nuance she discusses in her “theory” sections. What better way to learn!

In the name of education, I got together with some co-conspirators, Brian and Lisa, and started to systematically tackle the “practice sessions” from the beginning.

I actually started the learning process back in February – click here – but I think we’re ready to start with the podcasts.

Our first two podcasts examine a variety of the basic elements of wine tasting such as sweetness (pg 17-18), acidity (pg 21/24), saltiness (pg 25), bitterness (pg 26), tannins (pg 29), and balance (pg 23).

In our first podcasts, we tackle these though non-wine related experiments such as tasting vinegar, cola, over seeped tea and a variety of other “condiments.” In our second podcast we then apply these experiences to actual wine!

Overall impressions… By breaking down the elements of tasting (acidity, sweetness, etc) first and then applying it to the wine, I felt we were really more able to isolate the components that make up a wine. It’s definitely a skill that I think I needed to refine for myself and I saw this as a big step in that direction.
Wines tasted included: Chateau Piada 2003 – Sauternes, 2006 Domaine de Pouy – Gascogne, 2005 Duck Walk Late Harvest Gewurtztraminer, and 2006 Domaine Girard et Fils - Sancerre.

Technical notes: To play, click on the link and the podcast with open automatically in your default media player OR right click on the link and save the mp3 file to your computer for later listening or transferring to your portable listening device.

Disclaimer: We are amateurs so the production value here, while ok, is not professional quality. (If you want professional quality, check out Grape Radio or 3 Wine Guys. We’re hoping to get to that level down the road.) Also, these first two podcasts are approximately 45 to 50 minutes in length each. Going forward, we’re hoping to become more succinct, much like on of my favorite food related podcast, Eat Feed.

To listen, click on the links below.

Listen to Podcast:
Podcast 1 (The non-wine taste test)
Podcast 2 (Lessons applied with actual wine)

We hope you enjoy them and look forward to your feedback.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Brooklyn Tasting Group: Northern Rhone

This past Thursday I had the pleasure of taking part in a tasting with the Brooklyn Tasting Group where the theme was Northern Rhone wines, both red and white.

The wines and the company where all wonderful. Kudos to our host and thanks for the invite.

eRobertParker thread with tasting notes here.

Wines included:
Cuilleron 2006 St. Joseph Blanc "Lysereas"
Chapoutier 2005 St. Joseph Blanc "Les Granits"
Vincent Paris 2006 Cornas "Granite 30"
Levet 2001 Cote Rotie
Porter Creek 2001 Syrah "Timbervine Ranch"
Jamet 1998 Cote Rotie

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

1995 Clos du Marquis – St. Julien – Bordeaux

A really wonderful and lovely wine which expresses everything I like about Bordeaux.

Brick red in color with the fruit bursting out of the bottle when first opened. Black current and essential dark fruit at first. This receded some to a more classic leather and cedar aroma with hints of spices. Medium bodied and elegant with soft tannins, smooth texture, medium long finish, and exquisite balance.


Bought in Bordeaux on our trip in 2005 but it can be sourced for about $75 or so.

Friday, May 16, 2008

1997 Chateau Musar – Bekaa Valley – Lebanon

Disclaimer: Being of partial Lebanese heritage, I sometimes feel pre-disposed to like Chateau Musar. The sour cherry notes evident here are a case in point. Although such a taste is not for everyone, I feel it’s a nice component here.

Purple tinged with a not altogether slightly sour taste at first but reveals still bright cherry fruit. Second layer of cedar notes also emerge. Velvety texture with a medium long finish.

Note overly complex but a lovely wine nonetheless.

This was purchased for $40 from D. Sokolin on Long Island. They no longer have any in stock but it can be found elsewhere for about the same price.

Monday, May 12, 2008

2006 Standing Stone Riesling (Finger Lakes)

Standing Stone is another of my “go-to” Finger Lake Rieslings. Their 2006 Riesling is pale yellow with very evident minerality backed up by light citrus and some slightly more pronounced leeche or quince. Crisp and clean in taste and finish. All in harmony and overall a very nice wine.

This can be had for $13 at Northside Wine & Spirits in Ithaca, New York or $16 at Vintage-New York in Manhattan.

At $13 is a great QPR wine. At $16 is still am ok value but at that price, I start looking to entry level Old-World Riesling.

Even so, this is a solid B wine.

My one pet-peeve... Many Finger Lake wines use synthetic stoppers which I’m not a fan of and would much prefer that those wineries move to screw-cap. Standing Stone uses synthetic.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

2005 C. von Schubert Maximin Grunhaus Herrenberg - Riesling Kabinett - Mosel-Saar-Rawer - Germany

The 2005 C. von Schubert Maximin Grunhaus Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett is a prime example of why I love German Riesling. This sample is a Kabinett from the Mosel-Saar-Rawer region.

Light gold color with an almost Sauternes like aroma. Just a little touch of honey and a very fresh smell. Wonderful floral notes along with honeydew. Melon. Just a wonderful aroma. Light kiss of acidity. Soft. Medium bodied with a medium long finish. The aroma really stands out here.

Excellent wine which sells for $24 at Union Square Wines.

Friday, April 25, 2008

1995 Reserve de la Comtesse - Pauillac - Bordeaux - France

The 1995 Reserve de la Comtesse reminded me of everything I truly love about Bordeaux!

This lovely wine is the 2nd label of Pauillac’s Chateau Pichon Lalande, a revered 2nd growth where the main wine sells for about $100+.

This bottle was bought in Bordeaux on vacation as another way of sampling the solid ’95 vintage at a reasonable price. I believe this was about 20euro at the time where this now sells for approximately $40 in the US for the recent vintages.

As for the wine itself… Elegant and refined. Ruby red with clean notes of smoke and cedar to accompany the dark fruit. Blackberry and currant. Medium bodied. Very nice balance and a caressing medium long finish.

Certainly one of the better wines I’ve had in a while. A-…. Lovely…..

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

2003 Chateau do Mourre du Tendre - Côtes du Rhône - France

2003 Chateau do Mourre du Tendre is from France’s Côtes du Rhône region.
Brick red color. Earthy. Red fruit and floral notes. Maybe even cigar box or smoky notes… Regardless, somewhat complex in nature. It’s a little hard to describe but overall it has a really lovely aroma. Medium bodied. Very dry with a medium finish.

This is a good wine, especially for the money. A solid B which sells for $13 at Astor Wines.

I should also note that I just finished reading Kermit Lynch’s Adventures on the Wine Route and just felt the need to have a solid unassuming French red. I’m glad I did!

Friday, April 11, 2008

2006 Domaine de Montvac - Vacqueryras - Rhone - France

The 2006 Domaine de Montvac from Vacqueryras in France’s Rhone region is medium bodied with a light purple hue. Red fruit and spice on the nose. Possibly some light floral and licorice notes as well. Earthy too. Soft texture and a nice medium long finish.


Just a really good, solid drinking wine that paired well with the homemade mac & cheese we had for dinner.

What more could you really want! $17 from Astor Wines.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

2005 Oreana Central Coast Pinot Noir - California

The Oreana Central Coast Pinot Noir was a vacation by from our trip this past summer to California and was tasted in their funky shared warehouse/wine producing/tasting room facility in Santa Barbara called Cellar 205.

There have two Pinot Noir bottlings, a Santa Barbara County one for $30 and a Central Coast for a more affordable $18.

Keep in mind that I think just about everything I’ve tasted at a winery’s tasting room is better than anywhere else and their Central Coast I would say falls into this category.

At the time, we thought it was actually better (or at least more approachable and food friendly) than their Santa Barbara. Tasting a few months later, I’d still say that probably holds up but there were a couple flaws here not noticed in the tasting room.

Overall, the Central Coast is cherry red in color and definitely has a lighter and less concentrated texture and weight than “bigger” California Pinots. Cherry nose with oak notes. Earthy with darker fruits contributing here. Medium weight which is nice but also just a little “sharp” or “hot” in the mouth.

That is the one aspect that takes away from what is otherwise a more “elegantly” styled California Pinot.

Still, a very nice wine and a B in my book. One that over delivers at its modest $18 price point.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

2005 Querciabella Mongrana - Maremma, Tuscany

The 2005 Mongrana from Querciabella was a real find for me. I’ve been a big fan of their Chianti Classico since 2004 when I had my first bottle and it hasn’t disappointment in any vintage I’ve had.

Last week I was in a relatively non-descript wine-shop in Brooklyn and spotted the 2005 Mongrana for the first time for about $13 a bottle. I hadn’t seen it before but recognized the label as coming from Querciabella. I picked up a bottle and went home to do some research, discovering that this was the first vintage from Querciabella’s venture into the Maremma region of Tuscany which is know for being the home of some of the more famous Super-Tuscans such as Sassicia. True to the region, this is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. Also true to these “Super-Tuscan” blends, it is labeled as a Toscana-IGT which is essentially table wine.

The wine itself is medium cherry in color with oak, dark fruit, blueberry, earthy but also with some subtle floral notes. Balanced with a nice soft texture, medium bodied, with a nice medium long finish. The dark fruit also lingers on the tongue.

This is nice work from a producer I traditionally like. As far as everyday drinking wines in this price range, this is excellent and has a fantastic price-per-quality ratio.

Friday, April 04, 2008

2006 Chateau du Cleray - Muscadet - Sevre st Maine - Loire Valley

This 2006 Muscadet is from the Sevre et Maine region of the Loire Valley. Pale yellow color with a very minerally/slate aroma along with light lemon. Melon shows up on the taste. It’s bone dry, crisp and clean with nice balance and a medium short finish.

This was $12 from our local liquor shop near Newkirk Avenue. It also sells for $10 at Sherry Lehman. At the time I was looking for something cheap and simple and this fit the bill. The added bonus is that also reminded me of my first experience with Muscadet in Paris where we had it at the local bistros with fresh seafood. A great memory and a nice wine to bring it all back.

Serve this chilled with shellfish, preferably in Paris.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Charles de Fère Brut Blanc de Blancs Réserve NV

The Charles de Fère Brut Blanc de Blancs Réserve NV was a nice find. A French sparkler for $13 that drank well above its economical $13 I bought it for at T.B. Ackerson in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

The interesting things about this wine is that its really a blend of white grapes around France rather than being from one white grape, for example Chardonnay, from a particular region.

In that sense, it might seem a bit more “manufactured” price like new work wine rather than a traditional old world one.

In this case the grapes are Chardonnay, Chenin Blan, Macabeu and Uni Blanc grapes from Charentes and the Rhone and Loire Valleys of France and it’s made in the traditional method.

The sparkler is straw yellow in color with medium sized bubbles with a light citrus aroma along with some peach and maybe another stone fruit which I can’t quite put my finger on. There is also a subtle nutty aroma and a yeast like character. It’s bright with an effervescent texture that lingers a bit.

I think this is a really good find and a great QPR (Quality Price Ratio) wine for the upcoming summer month. A solid B.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

2006 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir - Santa Barbara County

According to the Au Bon Climat website, the 2006 Pinot Noir – Santa Barbara County is “… just easy to drink. There is nothing pretentious here, just well balanced, nicely textured, brightly fruity wine that seems to go with everything.” This is the winery’s entry level Pinot Noir that sells for a reasonable $20 or so and I wouldn’t argue too much with their statement. This is an average wine as they also attest but there are a couple of characteristic that make is a little less easy to drink in my opinion.

It’s cherry red in color with a very strong cherry cola taste, too much so in my opinion. That’s the first thing that stands out. It also has a bit of a tart edge to it and the combo between to two moves it from “easy to drink” and “goes with everything” to something that stands out and not always for the right reason.

I don’t want to be too harsh on the wine because it is drinkable but I would be more pleased with it if it kind of “faded into the background” as their website notes tend to suggest.

I think it’s a C- wine. It was purchased at T.B. Ackerson Wines in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn for $24.

Friday, March 28, 2008

2006 Ravines Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes)

Ravines tends to be one of my favorite Finger Lake Rieslings on a yearly basis. The 2006 edition is a lighter hay color than the 2005 with strong floral notes, a more slight hint of lemon/citrus and a heavy mineral character. On the taste, there is a definite green apple character which gives the wine a bit of tartness, something I don’t think I’ve seen with this wine before. The strong minerality which might be slate, also comes across here. Medium weight with nice balance and a nice, subtle acidity. This is a solid food wine and another good effort from Ravines.

This is a good wine but I have to say that the strong green apple is somewhat of a detractor for me. I’d grade this as a B- for that reason but I still have to say that this would be great and refreshing in the heat of summer. Bought for $15 at GCP Wine and Liquors in Horseheads, New York.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Vintage 2008

Although nothing can come close to this, here's to hoping that 2008 is also a good year for wine in regions with some longevity. I'm crossing my fingers for either Bordeaux or Tuscany!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Wine Cellar

Here is a picture of “My New Cellar.” I like to call it new but in reality, I’ve been keeping my wine in the basement of our home since we moved in about two years ago. However, it’s been boxed up in cardboard and wood with no real easy access.

In addition to accessibility, I also had the issues of a gradual heat increase in the summertime and lower than ideal humidity in the winter.

The cornerstone of the cellar is a Vintage Keeper 500 which I purchased to hold the bulk of my wine collection and to store all the wines I plan on holding onto for long term aging. By comparison to other units like Eurocave and the like, this is on the budget side which fit… well, my budget.

The Vintage Keeper 500 will help with the temperature during the spring, summer and early fall where basement temperatures can get beyond 65 degrees and sometimes 70 degrees in the height of summer when its 90 and 100 outside.

There are two smaller “wine fridges” off to the left. One holds Pinot Noir and the other holds whites and rose wines. These “wine fridges” I’ve had for a few years and brought over from my previous apartment where they lived in the closet.

I also have a section of reclaimed wood wine boxes that I’ve stacked for decorative purposes but also use to put my everyday drinkers in. These are wines that I buy and try to consume shortly thereafter.

So now I have much easier access to all the wine in my collection and I have more control over the temperature. However, in the cooler weather, the ambient temperature is between 50 and 55 degrees so I don’t have to plug any of the units in until the temperature starts to approach 60.

The only unanswered issue I have to deal with is humidity. It gets dry in the wintertime and hovers around the 35% range when the ideal is 70%. It gets a little better in the summertime, approaching 50%. However, that is also short of the ideal.

Feel free to leave suggestions on how to improve the humidity if you have any tricks I might use. Other than that, I’m pretty pleased with my new set-up if I may say so myself!