Archive for the ‘Red Wines’ Category

Thanksgiving 2008, pt. 2

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Thanks for the feedback on the Thanksgiving video. I’ll keep my day job for now. This is a follow-up article to focus on the wines I’ve mentioned in the video. Some are very reasonable and easy to find like the Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay ($21 @ Costco!) or Le Cigar Volant. Others, like the DuMOL Viognier, are difficult to find and more expensive, so look for similar wines of the same varietal.

For some wines Chateanuf du Pape (CDP), you have to plan well ahead for. Stock up and cellar the very good 2006 vintage to enjoy in 2009. The 2007 vintage of CDP looks outstanding. You can still find reasonably priced 2004 CDP around, or better yet check out Le Cigar Volant.

Basically, look for food friendly wines: balance, low alcohol, high acidity. I strongly suggest French rose. I usually buy a mixed case easy drinking French rose when they are released early in the summer. The prices range from $7-15/bottle. I enjoy the case over the summer and keep an extra bottle or two around specifically for Thanksgiving dinner. American rose is refreshing, but usually more expensive and has a higher alcohol content. Often, it’s difficult to appreciate a highly acidic wine, but they pair extremely well with food. Rieslings (but not the late harvest desert wine) are also a good choice for the same reason. More on rose later.


the “line-up”

Thanksgiving wines 2008 004 Thanksgiving wines 2008 002

Start here. A good non-vintage sparkling wine. I prefer Piper. Gloria Ferrer is a good, and more reasonable alternative. (more…)

Thanksgiving 2008

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

It has been a difficult year…for almost everyone, but there is a lot to be thankful for, especially with the results of the last election.  I never believed there would be an African-American, or person of color, in the White House.  I wonder, what kind of wine President-elect Obama would enjoy?

I’m ready for Thanksgiving; I am looking forward to the Holidays.  Here is a video to my suggestions for pairing Thanksgiving dinner with wine.

I am anxious about this video post, it’s raw video, and I appreciate any feedback.


When it’s cool outside

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

 When the weather turns to this wintery, below 60 degrees,  there are a few specific wines that I think about! Along with that, a few season specific foods that come to mind. In my kitchen, this is the time to indulge in hearty foods, hearty vegetables,  carrots, turnips, squash/ pumpkins and of course MUSHROOMS!!!!!!!  Pastas, especially stuffed pastas ( ravioli, tortellini, etc) risottos and ragouts, cassoulets which implies beans, sausages and confits of meat ie: duck, pork, quail, squab and I could go on for a while still.  I get very excited to link food and wine.


“we try the bad wines, so you don’t have to”

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

 I knew I would would not like it.  I actually knew I would hate it, but I bought it anyway.  Why did I but this bottle of wine?

 I bought this bottle to give it a second chance.  I bought this bottle to blog my displeasure.  I bought this bottle to give my myself something to complain about.  Something to take my mind off politics and the war in Iraq. 

2007 Beaujolais Nouveau.  Any year Beaujolais Nouveau (BN)…I don’t care, this stuff is absolutely horrible.  Some say it’s tradition.  I call it a waste of precious hepatocytes.  Send this vino to St. Elsewhere.  I’m not even going to describe how bad this stuff actually is…I would not even call it wine.

I was going to dissertate on BN.  I truely want to inform people about wine and the wine culture, but I’m not going to waste my time on this one.   Look it up on Wikipedia if you want to learn more about BN.

Our un-official motto is “we try the bad wines, so you don’t have to”  I’m going to consider changing the motto.

 Stay tuned, however, there are better days ahead.  Look for contributions from Anani and Mack.  We hope to have some videos soon (vinocasts).  My wines of the year!  Thanksgiving vino picks!  And a little something from Japan!


a quick note…

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

I had a dinner meeting with the folks involved with this website, Mack, Anani, and Michaelangelo.  We discussed multiple issues in regard to the direction of the site…but more on that later.

 A reader, Jonathan Branch, sent me a bottle of his Branch Cellars, Animae, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was well received by the fellas.  This is a quick note while the flavors linger.  I decanted this wine at room temperature.  Beautiful, transparent ruby color.  Upon opening, the nose is young, but suprisingly full.  It has a distinctive cab aroma, surprising  for such a young wine.  Good fruit.  Moderate acidity, and very strong tannins.

 We let the wine decant over two hours.   The dark fruit flavors have come out to play.  Persistent strong, but now textured (layered) tannins.  The balance is asserting itself.  The finish is very long.  Impressively long.  Back to the fence long.  Bordeaux long.

 It’s young, as expected, but this sucker has legs.  Would hold for a minimum of three years.  A standout now, but will really improve over time.

 I am (insert pause for a sip) impressed.

 Bravo! Mr. Branch


Don’t Believe the Hype…1997 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

I have been very diasppointed with the 1997 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon’s (CS).  I invested a lot of time, money, and space (in my cellar) for the ’97 Napa Cabs.  I started opening these wines last year and the hits have been few, and far between.  My disappointment is amplified by the fact that the 1997 vintage was the my first major purchase of wines of any kind.  Instead of a bottle here and there, I bought and cellared cases.  Lessons learned…

 I started buying my ’97 CS when they were released in ’99 and ’00.  I  made many of my purchases based on wine scores from the Wine Spectator.  At the time, I thought these were solid recommendations.   Let me tell you something about wine scores and reviews…when I was a child I believed in wine scores, but when I became a man, I put away my childish things, including my faith in wine scores. (more…)


Sunday, October 14th, 2007

 Food and wine paring.  What about food and music paring?  I’m serious.  When I have a glass of wine, often think of what food would compliment the wine.   When I listen to music, I occasionally think of what wine would compliment the music.

I am a jazz fan.  Straight ahead jazz.  Recently I’ve been listening to Christian Scott’s lastest album, Anthem.  I really dig this Cat.  Mr. Scott is a trumpet player orginally from New Orleans.  I like his style.  It’s hard to describe his sound.  Not Bebop,  kind-of-a Funkybop.  Reminds me of Miles album Tutu.  Check it out, especially the last cut on the album featuring Brother J of X-clan.

Anyway, Anthem has been in heavy rotation at the household for the past two weeks and I’ve been thinking of what wine would compliment this album.  Anthem is hard, but smooth.  It has an edge, but the more I listen to the album the more layers are uncovered.  It’s complex.  I am thinking a Bordeaux would go well with this CD.  But this is vibrant, New World music so I tried a Napa Cab.   Brown Estate’s 2002 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  Perfect synergy…

Brown CS 2002

 Brown Estate is located in Chiles Valley District of Napa Valley and they are known for their zinfandels.  I found Brown by tracing the vine from another Napa vintner know for zins, Green and Red.  It’s an African American owned winery.  They previously sold their zinfandel grapes to local wine makers but started producing their own wine in 1998 (?).  Their first Cab came out in 2001 and they have recently added a chardonnay.  Brown Estate features my favorite label.  It’s a simple label, but strong and features a scarab.  My second favorite label is Calon-Segur (Bordeaux).  I like simple wine labels that have meaning.

 I know Brown’s zins but I was skeptical in regard to their Cabs, but the 2002 Cab is excellent.  The colour of this wine is amazing.  A beautiful deep ruby colour suggesting extensive skin contact during extraction.  Strong expression of the grape varietal.  Nice acidity and crisp tannins.  Good balance.  Exceptional finish.  This wine also has legs…if properly stored I think will hold for another decade.  I’m impressed by this wine.  I am very impressed with the 2002 Napa Cabs.

Like the CD, Christian Scott’s Anthem, this wine builds.  Meaning, after letting the wine breathe for two hours the flavor of the wine has really come into it’s own.  Complex…Syngery.

Cheers to Christian Scott and Brown Estate.  I’m ready for Monday.

For dinner?  I paired this wine and music combo with steak.  A Kobe (Wangu) flank steak, pan cooked medium well.  Seasoned with a garlic infused soy sauce I bought back from Miya-jima (Japan).

My favorite album title?  Winelight, by the late-great Grover Washington Jr.  I’ll have to listen to this this album again, it’s been awhile.  I think I’ll pair it with an Italian barbera…


Harvest For The World

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Grace Family Vineyards harvest 07 005 

On Sunday morning, September 30th, I had the fortune of participating in the annual Grace Family Vineyards Harvest in Napa Valley.  I was invited by Mack and his wife.

We left San Francisco at 6am, started harvesting around 8am and finished by noon.  There were approximately 150 invited guests from around the world.  As a group we harvested slightly more than 8 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon from three sites.  The Grace Family provided lunch (serious homemade tacos)

Grace Family Vineyards harvest 07 001


 Grace Family Vineyards harvest 07 007 Grace Family Vineyards harvest 07 010 Grace Family Vineyards harvest 07 027 Grace Family Vineyards harvest 07 013 Grace Family Vineyards harvest 07 021

I met a lot of good people.  Spent some time talking with Dick Grace (in photo, between Mack and I) about faith and politics.

Grace Family Vineyards harvest 07 016

  It was a beautiful day in Napa.  A Harvest For The World. 

Love to the Grace Family.


I Must Say It Was A Good Year (2004 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon)

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

It’s Fall, my favorite time of the year. The weather is fantastic, football is back, and the new Cabs are being released. Over the past 6 weeks I tried about twenty 2004 Napa Cabs.

Yesterday alone I tasted 12 Cabs. I went to a Saturday tasting at one on the local wine shops, The Wine Club, and they featured the “Big Guns” of California. Quintessa, Dominus, Rudd Oakville Estate Proprietary Red, Hewitt Rutherford, Far Niente, Ramey Jericho Canyon, BV Georges de Latour, Joseph Phelps Insignia, Mondavi Reserve, Beringer Private Reserve, Opus One, and Ridge Monte Bello. I’ve also tried the ’04 CS from Neal, Turnbull, Hourglass, Pride, and Groth.


A good weekend, made spectacular by a difficult Monday

Monday, October 1st, 2007

Damn…it was a long day, not difficult but long. 12 hours long. It would have been nice to sit in front of the big screen tonight and watch Monday Night Football, but I have a family so I did the next best thing. I opened a big Zinfandel.

Rosenblum 2005 Rockpile Road Vineyard Zinfandel. As my palate has evolved, I have moved away from Zinfandel. But, this one brings me back to my roots. I usually don’t like Zins because they are too big…big nose, heavy fruit (black currants, blackberries), overripe (jammy), high percentage of ETOH (alcohol). The mouthfeel is too heavy. Usually to heavy to enjoy with food.

This, however, was no ordinary Zin. Rosenblum specializes in Zinfandels and grapes from Rockpile Rd are above average. Rockpile Rd is a hilltop area in Sonoma County California. It’s a small viticultural area just north of Lake Sonoma.

There are specific occasions when I will drink Zin. For example: after long day at work, at BBQs/cookouts, cold nights, and usually on their own (i.e. without food). The heaviness of a Zin will blow most food dishes away.

Tonight my wife made sukiyaki. With Japanese food, I usually go straight for the sake. I was suprised that the sweetness of the sukiyaki really brought out the fruit in the Zin. The wine was less heavy and more approachable. I have never found a wine that goes well with Japanese food, but this combination worked well.

More about Zins later. More about sake later. Later this week, a full report on the Cab harvest at Grace Family Vineyards in Napa.

Zinfully yours,