Wednesday, October 3, 2012

After a brief hiatus, I'm back!

Sometimes I need a break.  Just a little bit of time to mentally, physically & spiritually regroup.  Basically, I start feeling guilty about all the bad things I eat and drink and the overall neglected state of my body that I feel the need to occasionally take a step back for a few weeks and cleanse.  My first step back was a small one, but the good news is that it's been so long since the nectar of the god's has touched my lips that I was buzzed after just one glass.

Francis Ford Coppola - Votre Sante 2010 Pinot Noir

It's fall and that means it's time for some deep red to match the changing leaves.  I am truly a fan of all things Coppola and this was no different.

Cranberry in color and scent, with subtle notes of cinnamon, brown sugar & oak.  A mouthful that was tart yet crisp & robust with a deep grainy woodsy flavor. 

This wine was many different things.  Perhaps my palate was awakened once again after not having suffered from the typical abuse I so regularly dish out by eating crappy food & drowning myself in cheap wine.  Seriously, this was a stellar bottle of $15 wine that I would buy time and time again. And to top that, they design was a little more artsy than the standard variety.  I'm not sure if it makes any difference, but I mentioned it anyway. 

With that, I bid you farewell.

Until next time.

Cheers,
ES

*Damn right, I took this picture myself with the new iPhone.  Love it!

Friday, August 31, 2012

This is what happens when you try to write a wine blog and haven't been drinking.

I have not consumed a drop of alcohol in over two weeks.  Perhaps my timing could have been better but it's just a little late summer break to help cleanse the body & mind.  In the spirit of honesty, I do want a drink every single day and openly admit that I have a problem, it's called the LIRR.  Surprisingly, I have yet to cave.

Anyway...I found something interesting to write aside from silly reviews about my cheap frugal wine habits and drunken random day trips to the east end.  The WSJ was kind enough to recommend a free, yes free iPad/iPhone app for those who love wine but are perhaps too short on funds to afford paying the $1.99 average fee. It's called "Hello Vino" and is as user friendly as user friendly can be.  Hello Vino helps suggest a proper bottle of wine based on meal choice, cost, personal taste or region. It will even suggest a meal to go with a bottle you may already have in your rack. Each sub folder custom tailors choices based on your situation by asking  a series of basic questions which the HV app whittles down to a  final list of 3 distinct choices. The suggested wines are broken down into rated wines, random choices & value selections.  Each complete with a general description and average price per bottle.

Did you follow all of that?  I probably just made it more confusing than it really is.

Typically speaking, I like to do a little research before purchasing a bottle or sometimes even enjoy exploring the rows for something that peaks my interest.  Sadly, I am often in too much of a hurry to browse so this app helps take a lot of the guesswork out of choosing the right bottle of wine. It's simple and quick and is sincerely the best free wine app I've seen thus far.  If you're looking for ease, this should be your one and only stop.  But don't take it from me, download it today and see for yourself. 

Although I haven't actually tried the wines they suggest, I'll be back in the saddle soon enough.  It might be perfectly suited to help find the right wine pairing with whatever you're grilling this Labor Day.  Or it might tell you that the bottle of Boone's Farms your sketchy neighbor brought over goes great with a hot dog that was dropped on the ground.  You never know?

Until next time...

Cheers,
ES


 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Last Night's Bottle - Croteaux - 2010 Chloe Rose Sauvignon Blanc

Let me start by saying if I haven't already that there is one clear favorite when it comes to L.I. wines.  The vineyard is Croteaux.  Modeled after the famed region of Provence, these guys have got it right.  From the friendly atmosphere to the quaint tasting room & french styled garden out back right down to every last nail in the refurbished barn, this is by far a must see when visiting the North Fork.  I will stop gushing there as I would prefer it remain a somewhat closely guarded secret among the 5 (or less) people that read this blog and hope it remains that way.

About the wine, it's good.  It's real good...especially if Rose is your thing.  I genuinely believe that aside from the bold reds we have grown accustomed to on Long Island, the production of Rose seems to be on the upswing.  And if it's not, it should be.  Buying the first bottle Croteaux Chloe Rose was originally more of a gimmick purchase for me simply because it's named after my dog.  The fact that the wine is amazing was very pleasant surprise.  For the sake of this being a wine blog and not a dog blog I should probably give you a quick brief of my notes.

My notes: Sweet with notes of ripe citrus and a subtle presence of rose petals.  Dainty, floral & extremely light.  Pleasant & refreshing with a long lasting yet not overzealous mouthful of grapefruit finish.

Simply put, you should all grab a bottle or case and see for yourself.  I sincerely doubt you will disapprove.  If you do, I will take the rest of what you don't finish (at no cost) and save it for myself. :)

In all seriousness, I have thoroughly enjoyed every single bottle of wine I have brought home from here. In addition to the countless hours I've spent lounging in the garden as if it were my own.  If you find yourself venturing east, be certain to make this a stop on your tour.  Although I won't tell you where exactly it is. Some things are better left a secret.

Until next time...
Cheers,
ES



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Friday night wine class

I don’t typically like to spend my spare time in the city when I’m not working.   Unfortunately, my view of the city has been spoiled by the fact that I hike the corridor of misery from Penn Station to Times Sq. almost every day.  But occasionally you can lure me to stay a few extra hours by offering drinks and/or the occasional meal. 
This past Friday, I had the opportunity to attend a Wine 101 class offered by NYCwineclass.com.  In a nutshell, the class was a quick (and I mean quick) opportunity to learn some basics about wine (and cheese) in the comfort of a converted apartment above Landmark Wines on 23rd Street.  There were 10 wines matched with 5 cheeses in addition to some olives and as much bread as you could pile onto your plate.  Our instructor breezed through each wine 1x1 while politely ignoring questions as he went along in order to adhere to the 2 hour schedule. 
Without sounding overly negative, I found this class to be exactly as what it was billed…a basic introduction to wine.  The average person could obtain this same knowledge from just about anywhere.  The real value was in the tasting.  The variety of wines paired with cheese was commendable and certainly opened my eyes to a few labels/regions that I don’t often dedicate enough attention to.  If nothing else, this was a fine opportunity to sample a few items outside my preferential box.  In addition, the wines are chosen so that we could taste the differences that climate, region & production have on specific varietals.  Lastly, the finale consisted of a blind tasting that accentuated how less expensive wines can in fact taste better their well heeled cousins.
Below is the list of 6 wines I actually have notes on.  As time wore one, my interest wavered a bit and I spent more time chatting than paying attention to what exactly was being poured into my glass.  My apologies for not being more descriptive, but as I said, the class was moving along rather quickly.
Florian Mollet, Pouilly Fume, Loire Valley, France 2010 - Fresh meadow, lemon zest, grassy with hints of citrus. A cooler climate wine.
Chateau St. Jean, Fume Blanc, Sonoma County, CA 2009 - Sweeter than the Florian, tart with mineral notes that was mildly buttery and hints of smoke.
Charles Smith, Riesling, Kung Fu Girl, Columbia Valley, WA 2010 - Spritzy & sharp ripeness with a finely balanced sweetness. Flavors of pear & green apple.
E. Guigal, Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc, Rhone Valley, France 2010 - Lighter, but with more bite & acidity than the Charles smith counterpart. Better choice for pairing with spicy foods.
Gros Frere et Soeur, Hautes-Cotes-deNuits, Burgundy, France 2006 - Light, mildly acidic with a smooth leathery finish.
Saintsbury, Pinot Noir, Carneros, CA 2009 - More acidic than the Gros Frer, flush with overripe red fruits, spice & flinty mouth.

Overall review:
The (+)
-          The class provided a basic introduction and understanding of wine for true beginners.
-          Wines & cheeses were balanced beautifully and were delightfully different from one another.
-          Solid overall variety.
-          Service was polite & attentive.
The (-)
-          The instructor was very quick to glance over most details & questions.
-          Demeanor of the class was not very relaxed.
-          Breadth of information was lacking.
-          The overall content of the class was as basic as basic gets.
-          I suppose a little music might have been nice.

Until next time…
Cheers,
ES

Friday, July 6, 2012

Last night's bottle - Maipe 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

Every time I go to the wine store with the intention on buying something specific, I walk out with an entirely different bottle.  I'm still reading Unquenchable which has continued to give me new ideas. Last night's goal was to roll home with an Argentinian Malbec. Swing & a miss...I came home with Cabernet.

It's been awhile but it would make sense that I've preached the goodness of S.American wines based on cost alone.  And after sampling more than just a few bottles, the quality is never really lacking.  It's safe to say that I am always pleasantly surprised.  I'm not sure when the surprise will wear off and I'll simply accept that S.America churns out some damn good wine.

From the bottle:
Produced in a sub region of Mendoza, Argentina,  Luj├ín de Cuyo, by the Pelizzatti family, Maipe wines are committed to making excellent wines and strive themselves on quality. The region in which their grapes are grown is located 3,000 feet above sea level in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. The region is very cool in climate and ideal for the grapes they grow. They have 32 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon and are situated on deep and textured soil. The name Maipe originates from the "Lord of the Winds" by ancient Andean people. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is grown on 35 year old vines and is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged for 3 months in 10% aged American oak before being bottled.

My notes:
The coloring was most impressive.  Deep red with an amber hue.  The bouquet ripe with floral notes & a soft metallic feel.  Smooth at first with a subtle edginess.  A well balanced contrast.

The flavor is reminiscent of a blonde oak that is smooth yet not overly pronounced. The metallic properties carry through the palate as well.  There is a rich caramel-like sweetness that mixes flawlessly with a spiciness. It's a somewhat unlikely combination that I felt blended really well with one another.

The wine wasn't deep with flavor, but I like that.  It's a fine line when all the different notes jump out at you and compliment rather than compete with one another.  The more I drink I find the more difficult is is to achieve such a goal. 

This was a decent bottle of wine.  For $9, I would try it again.  Not necessarily something I'll keep in the regular rotation, but worth another purchase should the opportunity present itself.

And with that, I leave you.

Until next time...

Cheers,
ES


*I did not take this picture and those are not my fake flowers.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Where did all the wine coolers go?

A long time ago there was something called a wine cooler.  For those of us who grew up in the 80's-90's you most definitely should remember these guys.

Bartles & Jaymes
  
Whatever happened to them anyway?


Anyway, the allure of wine coolers (for me at least) was that they packed a higher ABV than most beers at the time, but were sweeter and more feminine than beer. Before long, your friends would ridicule and threaten to kick your ass if they ever saw a wine cooler touch your lips again.  This never happened to me, but I saw it happen to a "friend" once. ;) Then came Zima...that's a whole different story.

Jump ahead to 2012.  Drinking good wine is now a show of status.  Talking about wine is borderline pretentious. But knowing what kind of wine to drink and when is simply just helpful when trying to decide what to buy in a seemingly endless maze of choices isn't wrong at all.  Summer is upon us and it seems that Moscato wines are getting some additional attention lately.  Moscat grapes are sweet and therefore the wine is sweet as well.  Add to the fact that many labels are infusing with additional fruit flavor(s), you've got your modern version of a wine cooler.  The good news is that Muscato comes in big people bottles and not 4-packs.

At last week's Father's day cookout, my sister was kind enough to corner the market on Lunae's Sparkling Moscato & Peach.  Keep in mind that during BBQ time I am purely a beer guy. It's much easier and masculine looking for me to drink a beer that sip a glass of wine while holding a spatula.  But then comes the time where I can put the grill away and drink whatever I want & I turned to the Muscato.

Here's my breakdown.  It was light, sweet & pleasant. Maybe a little too sweet. In no way would I say this tasted like any other wine I typically like to drink, but it definitely does the trick on a hot (almost) summer day.  Cutting to the chase, this is a refreshing bottle for a BBQ.  For people who don't usually drink wine, this is might be considered a gateway. It may or may not open your mind to new & different things.   

As for the winemaker's notes, here's what I could find:

"Lunae is the first ever sparkling Moscato from Asti Italy infused with natural peach. This new wine is sweet and refreshing. It is perfect as a chilled cocktail or as the base for many exciting new drinks."



Until next time.
Cheers,
ES



Friday, June 8, 2012

At long last...

In short, it has been an absolutely hellish few months.  Thankfully and without jinxing myself, the craziness seems to have subsided...for now.  I'd like to dedicate this entry to my best buddy Romeo.  For those of you who know me personally, you understand how special he was not only to me but to any/everyone who knew him.

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.  ~Ben Williams

To be perfectly honest I've been drinking a lot lately, but just haven't found the heart to sit down and take notes or write about anything.  Let's say that I have re-discovered the medicinal properties of a nice bottle of wine.

As for last night, I started reading a new book about wine called "Unquenchable" by Natalie MacLean.  Ms. MacLean wrote the book based on the premise that she could travel & discover some really great wines in the $15-20 range.  I think that for most of the people who are casual drinkers of wine, this is the price point that's comfortable for most of us.  And if it's not within your comfort zone, it most certainly is within mine.  Her first chapter referenced the best bargains from the most notable regions of the Australian and their famed Shiraz.  Why not start there?

I stopped off @ the pharmacy, local wine shop with my new guide in hand and picked up the only bottle I could find with a name that had been mentioned in the book.  Of course it was not entirely unreasonable for me to assume that most every wine shop carry the big labels that are most aggressively marketed as opposed to something actually worth drinking.  Ironically, this was the second most expensive ($19.99...I probably overpaid) bottle of Austrilian red they carried and the bottle hadn't even been dusted off in at least a few months.  This is what I found.


2008 Peter Lehmann Layers Red, Barossa

This bottle of Australian red from the Barossa Valley was fleshy and bold. Full of red fruit, tangy with a mildly spicy undertone.  Upon first taste I realized the book was in fact correct. This was not just another ordinary wine.  It was smooth, yet possessed a heartiness that was even keeled with a hint of smokiness that I'd have more likely expected to find with a dry aged cheese.  I also felt there was a woodsiness that lingered for a moment or two. 

I wouldn't sit here and lie about how much I liked this if I didn't like this wine.  It was something a little different for me and I truly enjoyed some of the subtle notes that I don't usually find in a regular bottle of wine.  As was mentioned in the book, the Barossa Valley wines have much to offer in terms of both value and quality.  If you're looking to mix it up, don't hesitate to read the label and find something similar.  It might be as much of a surprise to you as it was me.

Cheers,
ES