Sunday, December 7, 2008

Domenico Selections Coming out party

Last night Coolvines of Westfield set up a local tasting and my new company was privileged to present a small portion of our portfolio.  I was told the attendance numbered about 60.  They must have all hit my table at the same time.  I felt like I was back on a trading desk by the amount of information coming and going.  The down and dirty is we have selected some great wines!

The lineup:

Terra di Vento Fiano 2007
Angelorosa L'Ambriana Falanghina 2007
Angelorosa Greco Di Tufo 2007
I Stefanini Soave "Monte di Fice" 2006

Terra Di Vento Aglianico "Petrale" 2006
Reale "Cardamone" 2007
Bocella Aglianico "Rasott" 2006
Piandibugnano "L'Erpico" 2005

The wines are all from local varieties and exhibit "correct" characteristics of what they are.  Some of the folks were trying to get their arms around what the hell Falanghina can be compared to that they have tried.   When you go into Baskin Robbins you ask for a taste of something new.  Essentially that's what was going on last night. 

 Eventually drinking chocolate and vanilla (Cab and Chard?) will get boring so in our wine lives we all look for something different.  Unless you're a race horse and eat the same thing every day you'll always look for new flavors.  The risk is in the price.  What we've tried to offer the market is something excellent and different for a down to earth tab.   The wines have soul and the crowd went for it in a big way.

To anyone who attended and reads this, a big THANK YOU for showing up and tasting.  For anyone who is curious what you missed, contact Coolvines at 908 232 5050 or  I think they are believers as well.  A good wine shop can make a huge difference in your experience.  Try these guys.  You won't regret it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I've actually gone and done it

Yeah, I know. I haven't posted in forever. I've been busy setting up a new business importing Italian wines. You'd expect this blog to shil for my new gig going forward. Hell, I would. I'll fill you all in on what I'm doing but continue to post on whatever I drink. I'm no longer going to theme towards lower priced wines. It's too painful to drink that many. I'll post on whatever I care about.

Thanks for hanging in while I got my act together.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ash trays full? Replace the car!

How could this happen? I moved into my new house six years ago and built a cellar that was supposed to take me into the end of my wine drinking days. You guessed it, it's almost full. By the frequency of my tasting notes lately you can see I'm obviously not drinking enough. Either I need company (I hate to drink alone) or I'm going to have a wino garage sale.

My too small storage area experienced technical difficulties a couple of weeks ago as my P.O.S. Breezaire unit underwent cardiac arrest. Luckily I found a local commercial refrigeration guy who came up with a solution that should last. Thanks Fred. Anyone planning to build a cellar should look into a commercial unit. Humidity can be controlled and these suckers are built to last.

I'm still weighing my options for long term storage on the ridiculous amount of juice I have coming in 2008. This week I'm going to look at an offsite facility in NY. I'll let you all know how it works. On the other hand, there's always a larger house........

Dinner on Saturday night:
Le Rendez Vous-520 Kenilworth Boulevard, Kenilworth NJ

Old faithful. This 38 seat bistro with it's casual decor is one of my local favorites. They offer a four course tasting menu for $55 or you can opt for dinner ala carte. There's a limited selection but something for everyone.

The wines:

2004 Domaine Vincent Girardin Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes-Dessus: I don't buy enough of Girardin's wines. Quality for the money seems to always be high and I flat out like their wines. This opened with a nose of tropical fruits. The first sips showed the acidity which characterizes the vintage, but after 1/2 hour the wine became rounder and fuller in the mouth. The group moved on to reds but I drained this bottle. $50 and I'm buying more.

2003 Williams Selyem Sonoma Pinot Noir-I don't have a real note. I was busy Bogarting the Meursault this one got polished off by the rest of the group. I got one sip. It was soft, fruity, not overdone. Very nice for this night.

2004 Kracher Beerenauslese cuvee-Lovely notes of apricot. In the mouth the wine has great viscosity without heaviness. Everyone liked it. $25 for 375ml. I'd definitely buy it again.

On my way out of the restaurant I noticed a table of 4 sipping a 1905 D'Oliveira Verdelho. I asked them how it was and that I just finished a 1922 Boal from the same producer. They were nice enough to offer me some and it was just exquisite. Thanks Andy!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Vegas and vino

2004 Jean-Luc Colombo Côtes du Rhône Les Forots Vieilles Vignes

Sometimes it takes something you hate to get you back on track. The above mentioned wine was recommended to me by a local retailer who told me a large portion of the grapes were sourced from Cornas and others border the same area. While we're on the subject, I get get numerous emails from retailers touting location. "This vineyard is located right next door to Chateau Latour!" "Just a few steps away from Ch. Petrus" "The next door neighbor of Ch. Lafite Rothschild!". Is that supposed to mean something to me? Plenty of neighbors are assholes (not mine of course). If these properties were such undiscovered gems wouldn't it them make sense that the much larger, famous, and cash rich buddies next door would purchase them?

Back to the wine. That's the last time I ever buy something because of location. The wine was completely uninspiring. There were no real flaws to speak of but absolutely nothing to get excited about either. I took two sips and headed for the drain. The remainder of the bottle should work well in tonight's veal stew. Price tag: $18. Quite expensive for cooking wine.

This week's purchases: Magnums of 2005 Clos des Papes-$135 (An absolute steal)
Lamy Pillot Chassagne Montrachet 2005 Les Bois-$40 (this was a reload for me having made my initial purchase 5 months ago)
2005 Gérard Boulay Sancerre Les Monts Damnés- $30 I love the house style

I just got back from Las Vegas and have to mention the finest Thai restaurant I've ever eaten in. Lotus of Siam sits in a parking lot diagonally across from The Green Door, one of the city's famous sex clubs. It doesn't look like much (LOS not the Green Door) from the outside or inside for that matter but what awaits is an experience not to be missed. Sixty or so wine geeks gathered to share and taste wine but the star was the food. Dishes such as Thai beef jerky, drunken noodles with sea bass, and grilled squid salad poured on the flavor and heat until we couldn't eat anymore. The wine was good too. I find myself daydreaming about the meal and can't wait to return. I only wish there was something in the NY area that came close. I can't recommend this place any higher. The picture in the upper left is one of the shrimp dishes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Ringer.........

Tasting group number two met last week and we had a grand total of four show up. Am I going to have to resort to arranging these at strip clubs again? Anyway the theme was to bring something from France that cost over $25.

Are you guys as bored with this shit as I am?

I'll post tasting notes later on. They really aren't tasting notes at all. I suck at homework and couldn't, in my right mind, sit at a table with alcohol in front of me and start scribbling bullshit onto the back of a napkin or, god forbid, a notebook. That would complete the stereotype and make me a complete geek.

I do this to share. That's it.

Here are the notes:

2005 Domaine de la Pepiere (Marc Ollivier) Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Clos des Briords-That's the ringer! I've posted on this before but the wine has put on weight since my last post and gotten more complex. Just incredible for the price point. $13 full retail. I know I've paid closer to $9 for it. I've yet to try the 2006 but at that price you can't go wrong.

2005 Michel Ecard Savigny les Beaune "Les Serpentierre"-Burgundy France.

This is still around on the market. Earth, cherries, leather, with terrific balance and grip. This has become more structured after 6 months in the bottle and to me it feels as if it will close down for a few years. A very nice wine for mid term cellaring. $35

2005 Maison Champy Borgogne rouge-Anyone looking for an intro to Burgundy without paying too much should find these wines. Extremly well made and well priced. Approachable right now. $16

2004 Vieux Donjon Chateneuf Du Pape-Meaty, smoky, with a blast of black pepper on the finish. I love the domaine's style so I can't say I'm neutral. A contrast to the heavyweight 2003, Donjon produced a more classic styled wine in 2004. Don't know how much I'd reach for at $40. Maybe one or two.

Anyone looking for these wines should take a look at . Retailers subscribe and post their prices. The Pro version is well worth the $30 a year they charge consumers as you're likely to make up the cost on one purchase.

By the way........did I mention I also cook?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tasting Group at my house......

One of my regular groups meets monthly. The guys have been together for over 30 years and have a tremendous amount of wine knowledge (they don't know about anything else!). Coming up with a format that is different is tough.

The theme for tonight was to show a review with the name of the wine and viticultural area removed to see if they could guess what it was and where it came from. The results were a disaster. They did better blind.

Dinner was a treat. I had steaks flown in from Bryan's Fine Foods in San Francisco. They were double cut NY strips aged 30 days. Holy smokes were they good!!

Here's the lineup:

1992 Dom Perignon-Small beads. Bready aromas. Fat mid palate. Right out of the gate it was exciting but faded rather quickly.

2004 F.X. Pichler Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Loibner Berg
-I liked this much more than the rest of the group. Loads of minerals, clean, complex with a long life ahead of it.

2002 Domaine Michelot Meurault Perrieres-Not what I would consider my type of Meursault Perrieres. Nose of orange peel with citrus notes. The wood was a bit more pronounced than I like. Solid wine but not on the mark for me.

1997 Livio Sassetti Pertimali Brunello-Just as I've come to expect from most 1997 Brunello. It tries but falls short. Aromatics were muted. Cherries and smoke. The flavors were great but still appear to be hiding. I'm not sure this will have the stuffing to fully develop.

1998 Dal Forno Valpolicella-Now we're talking. Soaring aromatics, everything in balance, long finish. Me Likey. A WOTN for a couple of guys.

2000 Clos Mogador- Still very young and primary but a hell of a bottle. Can't wait to see where this goes.

1995 Clos Erasmus
-My disappointment of the night. This was my second bottle of this wine and the first blew me away. There was a funk to this one that I just couldn't get past.

1995 Pegau Cuvee Reservee
-Open for business. Meaty, sweet, long. This kept changing as the night went on. My red WOTN.

1995 Leoville Barton
-Very exciting. Everything is here but the wine is still closed. It was enjoyable as hell but just needs more time. I opened this at 4AM and we got to it sometime around 8:30PM.

1994 Galleron Cabernet Sauvignon-My first experience with this. IMO quality that can be classified as a California cult wine. Flamboyant and rich. Great balance.

1991 Chateau Montelena Estate
-This still needs time but is developing beautifully. Restrained and beautiful. Very glad I own more but I'm going to wait a bit.

1993 Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz-None of us has had a lot of opportunity to drink older Aussie Shiraz. This is a good reason to. Lots of herbal, eucalyptus notes. Not over the top. Just a really nice wine that had developed extraordinary secondary characteristics.

1922 D'Oliveiras Madeira Boal Reserve-My first Maderia. Friggin awesome. Coffee, toffee, vanilla notes that ran incredibly deep. I could have kept my nose in the glass all night.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I'm back!!

Does any of this writing matter? I've been drinking and tasting with the same critical eye towards value at every price point. Yesterday I ran to Trader Joe's to pick up a few items for my regular tasting group on Tuesday. What struck me was the amount of wine being purchased. TJ's isn't known for offering undiscovered gems IMO. It's known for selling at a price point and that's what I'm getting at here. Why will folks go out of their way to spend $5 on a cup of coffee at Starbucks but not be willing to spend more than $3 for a bottle of wine to wash down their dinner? I know there are plenty of folks like me (1% of the market) who really scrutinize their choices and would sooner feed the kitchen drain than drink plonk. Is it confusion over labels? Is it that they are friggin cheap? We only get one shot at this life people........this is not a dress rehearsal!

Rant over for now.

So I ask you all now. What the hell do you want from me? Do I continue to drink and write about wines I think are great value at all prices or do I adapt the TJ's model and post on stuff I can get past my teeth without registering a gag reflex? I need feedback. Show me a pulse. I'm actually thinking about doing something related the wine biz. I cannot and will not work with 1% of the population. I'm much more interested in finding out how to educate the public enough to have them want to take the next step. There are great wines available for $5-10 all over America. Anyone care?

Tasting notes for this week:

I've found a new source for proteins in San Francisco. Bryan Flannery runs a business that his father started and sells the highest quality meats, fish and poultry money can buy. I ordered NY strip steaks dry aged 30 days for Tuesday night's soirée. As a throw in I had him send me 1/2 LB of Yellowtail Hamachi Toro he picked out from the dock that morning. The Toro was the best I've ever had. The steaks looked awesome. Bryan personally walked me through the order over the phone and had everything sent second day air. The styrofoam container arrived with cool packs and everything was just as described. Bryan's mission is to offer the customer the best of everything only a little better. Phone 415 819 4366. I rate him 98+ points and maybe higher after I eat the steaks.

Wine tasting note:

Kiralyudvar Tokaji Furmint Sec 2005-Hungary

This was a new one for me. I've never had a dry Tokaji before.

Pale color. Lovely flowery aromatics. Lots of minerals with good weight. Medium long balanced finish.

The non wine geeks loved it. I thought it was an excellent buy at $27.