July 29, 2009

2006 Drylands Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Last night, I found myself sitting in a luxurious hotel room at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Beantown, spent from a day of traveling and pre-event hussle and bussle. In my mind, there's no better way to wine down than with a lavish dinner (described by something I could likely never cook myself) and a glass of vino to compliment it.

Enter my Steamed Georges Baked Cod flavored with tomato-basil olive oil vinaigrette, basmati rice and market veggies. For a light dish, I needed a light wine so naturally I opted for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (did you expect anything else from me?)

It didn't matter to me that The Oak Room was savoring my wallet as I was savoring this glass. For a normal retail of $15/bottle, I got to fork out $12 for just one tasty glass... lucky me.

But lucky I was, as this wine was a quality summertime compliment to my meal. You should know by know I'm a sucker for a light, crisp white wine, and the '06 Drylands Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand hit the spot. It offers an open nose with lots of decadent aromas blending from lime to grass. It's an exceptionally ripe wine that tastes of granny apples, grapefruit and even a hint of mineral. Overall, perfectly balanced, very crisp and clean to the palate... a must try (well, for retail value... not what I paid!)

Where to Buy: Wine.com
Cost: $15/bottle

July 28, 2009

Tasting Note Tuesday - 2007 DeLoach Pinot Noir

Not to reference Sideways for a second straight post, but I didn't want to hop on the "Pinot Bandwagon" that formed after the movie was released. I fought it. I said... "No way am I going to fall into this trap. I'm a real wine drinker, and I'll drink what I like... not what's in." And fought hard I did, my friends.

But I confess... I lost. I became a pinot fan only months after seeing the movie (for the fifth time). I've written earlier that pinot might just be the perfect wine as it goes well with so many foods... from chicken, to fish, to red meat to hearty winter stews. I can't think of a more versatile wine. And, as you will read in next month's Wine Spectator, 2007 is an excellent year for pinot.

So while many of the usual suspects (Loring, AP Vin, Kosta Browne, Siduri, etc.) turned out awesome reds as they do year-in and year-out, bargain hunters (like myself) will be able to find pretty good pinots for a lot less (under $20 per bottle, as opposed to around $50 for the aforementioned wineries). I went out and got my hands on a few, so I'll follow with some Pinot tasting notes, but readers can do the same. Go to your local wine store and pick up a bottle of 2007 Pinot Noir... try it... and let us know what you thought and post a comment.

2007 DeLoach Pinot Noir, USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley

On the nose, this wine exhibits scents of cherry, earth and oak. One sip, and it is easy to like. Notes of strawberry, blueberry and cola blend nicely and are supported by faint hints of vanilla and cherry. The tannins are firm, but not harsh and in balance with the acidity. The finish is medium in length. A pretty decent pinot from a good year. Not sure I'd pay double the split price ($24), but if I could find it for under $18, I'd probably pick up a few bottles.

Cost: $12/bottle
My take: Very Good

July 23, 2009

Thirsty Thursday - The Most Memorable Wine

Most people have their most memorable wine. It could be the day you got engaged, or celebrated a special anniversary, or it could have been the "perfect wine moment" that I discussed a few weeks back. I've been lucky to have many special bottles, but none will be as memorable as the 2007 Cinnabar Merlot.

A little over a week ago, one of my best friends, stopped over my house to drop off this bottle of wine with the instructions that I was to review this wine for my next tasting note. (See, I was able to land this killer job because my friend knows WinoBee!!!). So this was a "gift" from my boss, hand-delivered. I opened the wine on Thursday night, but didn't have a chance to write a proper tasting note. So I vacu-vinned the rest of the bottle and threw it in the fridge for Friday night.

Sometimes, however, Mother Nature has other plans. See, Mrs. RatherBeeBuzzed was 9 months pregnant... and I was called home from work on Friday morning with "the call"... so i spent my Friday night with the Mrs. in the hospital and early Saturday morning, BayBEE was born. It was a rough labor so we didn't get released from the hospital until Wednesday. I was certain the wine would have turned to vinegar, but it didn't. So the last wine I drank pre-fatherhood was the same as the first wine I had post-delivery. And that is why this is my most memorable wine!

2007 Cinnabar Merlot, Paso Robles, California

Now I am not a merlot fan by any stretch of the imagination. While I won't go as far as Miles in Sideways ("I'm not drinking any f---ing merlot"), I'm not too far behind. But this wine was a pleasant surprise. It starts off very sweet. My first thought was "this would be an awesome wine for new red wine drinkers to try". There are flavorful notes of blueberry, blackberry and vanilla. With some air, the blackberry really shines and blends nicely with the vanilla. The dark fruits are sweet, but in an enjoyable way. The tannins are round and the acidity on the low end. This is perfect and ready to drink now. And much to this wine's credit, it didn't fall apart after being opened for almost a week. Kudos to Cinnabar for such a nice effort.

My Take: Since this is a very special wine for me, I have a hard time being 'unbiased' in my review. However, I am very comfortable saying this wine is Very Good if not better.

July 22, 2009

Starbucks + Wine + Beer = Really?

At a time when Starbucks is losing business and countering attacks of being "out of touch" with its $4 cups of coffee, the powerhouse coffee shop chain is trying a new approach at three Seattle stores. It's changing their name, removing their logos, and even serving wine and beer.

As CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano reported on "The Early Show" Wednesday, the company's newest shop, set to open Friday, will be called 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea. The vibe will be more artsy, Solorzano explained. There will be live music, poetry readings and alcohol options of wine and beer. But could the new strategy backfire?

R.J. Hottovy, an analyst at investment research firm Morningstar, said, "I think it is a little bit of a risky move, especially if they were to do this on a large scale." In March, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz acknowledged the company needed to adjust its approach in a down economy.

On "The Early Show", Schultz said, "This is a time when every business can no longer embrace the status quo, and (must) do everything they can to get as close as possible to the customer." Starbucks says it may expand the new approach to other cities if it succeeds in Seattle. Solorzano pointed out there's no word yet on how much a venti Chardonnay might set you back!

(Story pulled from CBS News )

It's Wine Down Wednesday, so "Bring in the Thunder"

I have been a loyal Wine Library customer for many... many years (we're talking before Gary V became the non-snobberish Robert Parker of our time!)

I remember the original, single-floor store with waist-high wooden racks on the floor, the left wall was jug wine, the right wall was liquor and the back wall was American cabs/merlot/zins, etc. It's a far cry from today's multi-level wine mecca with gourmet market and upstairs wine vault for the loads and loads of 'treasure' wines. My, how times have changed.

Gary took over operation of the store from his Dad and single-handedly turned it into one of, if not THE, premier wine store in the country. From his minimal mark-ups (read cheapest prices to be found), to his zany (but contagious) passion for wine, to his use of all the "hip" technology there is (Twitter, facebook, and Wine Library TV), there is no arguing he is one of America's great wine salesman... and spokesman. And he just didn't stop at selling wine... he tried his hands at blending it too with this '04 cuvee:

2004 Thunder Cuvee, Napa Valley, California

This is an interesting blend of 48% merlot, 34% sangiovese, 15% syrah and 3% cabernet sauvignon. On the nose, this is definitely "in your face" with cherry, strawberry and raspberry scents. This is all mixed with a good dose of oak (vanilla and wood scents). Once you sip it, you realize the wine isn't so "in your face" as you might expect. More of the same but more sour cherry, rather than sweet... almost a hint of cranberry. Smooth tannins and mild acidity makes this easy to drink now. The finish is a little short, but this is just supposed to be a every-day wine... not something special.

My Rating: Good
Cost: $9/bottle
Where to Buy: Wine Library

July 20, 2009

Gundlach Bundschu ’05 Merlot, Rhinefarm Vineyard

If you’ve ever caught yourself doing a Paul Giamatti and screaming, “I’m not drinking any stinkin’ Merlot!” this Sonoma Valley wine from Gundlach Bundschu will surely change your mind.

The ’05 from Rhinefarm Vineyard is composed of about 94% Merlot, and a wee-bit of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. While the delicious bouquet of spiceful aromas grace your senses, the juicy dark fruits will frame your palate and tickle your senses. It offers a decadent structure – not too chewy and not too acidic despite that it contains 14% alcohol.

Price: $32/bottle
Where To Buy: Wilson Daniels
Pair With: Merlot is typically a versatile wine making it easier to pair. Due to its soft, medium body you can try with something as simple as a Spaghetti Bolognese or some more decadent like a Garlic Prime Rib.

July 18, 2009

2006 Clos de la Siete Mendoza, Argentina

Don’t cry for me Argentina… and I won’t because this super red grape blend is far too serious to shed anything other than tears of joy.

Made from Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah, this wine smells and tastes purple. Its fragrant combination of plum, blueberry and cherry are expressed not only on the nose, but on the tongue too! It’s a big wine that gets better with age, so drink it now or save it for a special occasion!

Price: $18/bottle

Where To Buy: K&L Wines

Pairing? Since this is a fuller wine with a hint of space, balance it out with a dish all the same. Try this yummy recipe for Whiskey Grilled Baby Back Ribs!

July 17, 2009

St. Supery Elu ’05 Napa Valley Red Meritage

If you’re being indecisive on what to drink this weekend, why not go with a blend? Afterall, its Friday night, you're had a long week and deserve something special.

St. Supery's Elu ’05 Napa Valley Red Meritage combines classic Bordeaux grapes, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec for a powerfully rich body that will linger on your tongue. Its rich cherry flavors, hint of toasted oak and brilliant acidity all combine to form a very elegant, smooth wine.

If you haven't seen already, St. Supery also just launched their Facebook page, so we sure to follow them for vineyard updates. They are one winery on the forefront of all things social media, so huge props to them! And if you're really behind the gun, don't forget to join our the WinoBee fan page too! Special news feeds and giveaways for followers (we love incentives!)

Price: $70/bottle
Where to Buy: St. Supery
Pair With: Peppered Salami and Jarlsberg

July 16, 2009

Robert Skalli ’06 Languedoc Reserve

The French are known for their love, and its easy to see how that passion parlays into their grapes. This ’06 Languedoc Reserve from Robert Skalli and Southern France is rich with flavor, potent aromas and elegant tannins. It harmoniously blends Syrah, Grenache and Carignan grapes taken from across three of the Skalli vineyards in the Languedoc region. Skalli prides his wines on their ripened fruit properties, and you’ll be sure to taste that with this wine alongside its scents of violet and cayenne pepper.

Pairing? Its delicious, yet adoringly spicy - a perfect combination of herbal and floral which will leave you envisioning all the foods you could partner with it. I'd try this Smoked Salmon Filet to balance out the entire experience. Yummers!


July 13, 2009

2006 Auroch Toro, Spain

Sangiovese is to Italy as Tempranillo is to Spain... and just as my love yearns for a good Italian, enter my new favorite red!

Tempranillo is a black grape variety grown in the Rioja region of Spain (who's currently producing some the most sought-after wines!) The Toro is made from young grapes and is an up-and-coming regional wine that combines a variety of flavors – from herbs and spices to cherry, vanilla and tobacco. It’s juicy, yet very soft on the palette and would pair easily with just about any meal choice.

Price: $14/bottle
Where To Buy: Stews Wines NY

July 12, 2009

'05 Nobilo, Sauvignon Blanc – New Zealand

So, even though it's already mid-July, its safe to say that summer is officially upon us (if you live in NYC, like me, you might have thought you were living in rainy London that past few weeks). What better way to celebrate the warm sun beating on your face than with coupling a little pucker to the lips? This 2005 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc’s grapefruit and citrus flavor with lemon zest after bite will do the trick. Its slow legs imply its light on the sugar and its silvery color parlays to its simple, yet decadent characteristics.

Pairing? Since Sauvignon Blanc typically has a citrus undertone, it’s good to pair with foods of similar acidity. Try a Lemon Pepper Chicken with this bottle and you’ll see how well each item compliments each another.

Retails: $11/bottle
Where To Buy: The Wine Specialist

July 11, 2009

BUZZWORTHY: Escape the City and Toss Back Some Vino

Attention New Yorkers! Always wanted to take a trip out to Napa or Sonoma but money and time holding you back? Well, don't fret...

Shecky's is now organizing daytrips out to Long Island's Wine Country for a taste of some delicious Cabs, Pinots and Chards! For just $125, you'll enjoy:

  • Roundtrip transportation on the Hamptons Luxury Liner
  • Snacks & wine-themed movies on both legs of the trip
  • Wine tastings at three wineries including a private tasting class
  • At least one vineyard tour
  • An outdoor catered lunch overlooking the beautiful Martha Clara Vineyards
  • Plus more fun surprises!

Times-a-ticking though! Upcoming Saturday tours include July 25th, August 8th, or August 22nd, so hurry up an visit Shecky's Wine Trips to make your reservation! Oh, and this time, boys are allowed!

July 7, 2009

Tasting Note Tuesday - A Good BBQ Wine

With this past weekend being the Fourth of July, BBQ’s were surely in abundance. And though most people love a cold beer with burgers or ribs, its just not me. I love to drink inexpensive reds when I’m grilling up typical cookout fare. I don't look for anything too complex - I keep the food straight forward (burgers, hot dogs, chicken), which means I keep the wine jsut about the same. Give me a wine with some nice fruit, limited complexity and a simple quaffer, and I'll be golden. I even perfer to drink my wine a bit on the cooler side during a BBQ. A slight chill decreases the sense of the alcohol (the heat and burning), plus makes it more enjoyable than something warm when you're basking in the sun.

One of the wines I opened this past weekend was all that... a Spanish “bang for your buck" if you will...

2006 Santa Quiteria Almansa Loma Gorda - Spain, Castilla-La Mancha, Almansa

Purchased for $9... which is an OUTSTANDING deal! Upon opening, this wine really shows it's fruit side with scents of strawberry, cherry, plum and blueberry. As this sits open, it really gains complexity with scents of dried herbs, dark chocolate and earth/dirt. When you first take a sip, the dark fruit notes of plum and blueberry really fill your mouth, and it's quite rich in flavor. On the finish, the 'old world' notes of dried herbs and stone really stand out - in fact, its a great balance of old and new world. The wine still has some firm tannins, so it can age for a few months. But this wine really opens up with some air, so I'd open it about 30 mins. before drinking.

My Take: Very Good