Saturday, November 08, 2008

Klinker Brick 2005 Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel

We're sitting down for some good ol' BBQ and need a big wine to match the smoky sauce. A friend pulled out this Zinfandel, a wonderfully peppery match for the dark sauce. Took a few bites of something that had clearly been in the smoker most of this century and was happy to have a sip of this big, bold wine. After the tanginess of the sauce had faded a bit, I took stock of this Zin again. It's big and meaty, a fantastic match for the dinner. The fruit is there, cherry and blackberry, with plenty of smoke and vanilla. But the pepper is the kicker, it's what makes this the match for Wee Willie's Sauce.

The 15.5% alcohol content explains a bit too...

Monday, March 10, 2008

"Hot" Wines raising concerns

Via CNN:

As wine growers are getting better at their craft, they tend to leave the grapes on the vines for longer into the season. This greatly increases the complexity of the wines produced, but also tends to bump up the sugar content. More sugar means more food for the little yeasties to feed on, which then raises the alcohol content of wines. Today it is not unusual to see a wine over 14% alcohol, with some over a whopping 16%.

Technology exists that will allow a winemaker to reduce the amount of alcohol in a wine (it's called Vinovation) but many resist this, feeling that the market would rather bear stronger wines than having a wine that has been "touched" by technology.

Personally, I think I might prefer to taste the wine, rather than the spiciness of the alcohol.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Bois de Corton

The Hill of Corton is located at the north end of the Cote de Beaune, which is a small (but famous) wine growing region near Dijon, France. Much of the area to the south of the hill is known for its white wines, but an iron-rich soil combined with favorable sun exposure make the hill home of some of the best wines of the region. Indeed - there are TWO Grand Cru appellations to be found on this single hill, one red and one white!

If you examine the picture above closely you can see the vines used to grow each. On the left side of hill (which is actually the southwestern side of the hill) are vines belonging to the Corton Charlemagne AOC, which produce excellent chardonnays, and to right is le Charlemagne, which is home to the reds.

A humble home to some very special wines!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The things wine will do...

We've all done it at some point. The end of a long week, your better half dressed to the nines, it's pay day. Let;s go out for a date and have a nice glass of wine!

I arrived at the Veranda this evening for a glass of malbec (Punto Final, my obsession lately). As I sat down, I saw a couple clearly infatuated with each other, two half empty glasses at their fingertips as they canoodled in the corner. Nick and I shared a few laughs as this couple spent more time lip-locked than drinking. They quickly paid their bill and headed, incredibly, to St. Cloud's other wine location, Corks, with a promise to return.

I had been sipping the malbec, wrestling with my feelings about it. It's a great wine (previously rated on Noble Rot!) but they've changed it for the '05 vintage. It's more Zinfandel-like than Cabernet, and I've noted that malbec has that characteristic. Not quite a Zin, not quite a Cab, but sometimes just as good as either. The Punto Final '04 was a real bargain and the '05 is good...and believe me, I've had a few glasses in my quest to recapture those elusive elements, but it just doesn't quite put me over the top.

At any rate, the couple offered their bottle to the bar and I smiled thankfully, expecting to see a bottle of white zin. Not at all - they left half a bottle of Andretti 50% Primitivo and 50% Zinfandel - a truly great wine, like the man himself.

So now, as I sit here with a decent glass of Punto Final in front of me - do I let it sit and have a glass of Andretti, or do I finish the Punto and then curl up with the Andretti? Oh, to have this dilemma every night....

Monday, January 14, 2008

Price and wine

The Associated Press reports on a study done by Antonio Rangel and others at California Institute of Technology on the perception of wine as related to price. The study was intended to measure pleasure, and price was factored in.

The study took 20 participants and asked them to taste various Cabernet Sauvignons. The researchers took a $45 bottle and a $5 bottle and had the participants taste three times. The kicker was that one of the wines was repeated, this time with the price changed.

So what do you think happened?

It turns out that the price essentially determined the pleasure, and in particular, the $5 wine scored best when labeled as the most expensive.

This was attributed to the relative inexperience of the participants, but it struck me as funny, as Nick of the Veranda Lounge has threatened to open a $5 wine the next time we order a $100 bottle!

(img courtesy of

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Mumm Cordon Rouge NV

Happy New Year! I felt that my first post of 2008 should be, appropriately, a bubbly. There is lots to celebrate, from Rebekah's impending move to Minnesota to my continued publication as a wine journalist! (shameless plug - check out "WineS" magazine at a fine retailer near you...)

Let's get to business. I bought a bottle of Mumm Cordon Rouge NV at a recent "dot sale" at my favorite retailer - Westside Liquor in St Cloud Minnesota. The dot sale puts wine on sale at 20, 30, 50 and 70% off. I've learned that many of the 70% are at LEAST drink now wines, if not past their prime, but the 50% wines are generally good finds. I beelined for the bubbly on the first day of the sale and was happy to find a bottle of Cordon Rouge for only $22!

I've been nearly obsessed with this champagne even before my wine snobbery began. You see, this is what Formula One drivers spray on each other on the podium after a hard-fought race!

I popped the cork with reverence and a gleam in my eye, asking REbekah if she minded if I sprayed her and our dog as if I had just won the Monaco GP. As I poured I noted that it was properly effervescent and had a deep, golden straw color. I expected it to be on the heavy side, but the nose indicated otherwise. A hint of yeast with light fruit, not unlike a Sauvignon Blanc with a hint of tropical fruit and sweetness. The palate was equally divine, a *very* drinkable champagne that is a nice contrast to the heavy examples (like Veuve Cliquot, for example). Before we knew it, we had sipped through the bottle...unfortunately.

I'm going to be standing outside the dot sale before Westside opens next time, looking for bubbly!!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

On old favorites....

Tonight I dropped by my usual haunt, the Veranda in St Cloud. It was a long day, tons of backlogged work to catch up on, talked for hours with old friends.

I decided that a few glasses of my "old favorite" wines were in order. My first was the Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel 2005. Bogle is a old standby - my boss at Altria (Philip Morris) used to drink this and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is both affordable and steadily quite good.

Old Vine Zinfandel means that the vines from which the grapes are harvested are at least 40 years old, and we all know how good old things are when it comes to wine :) As Nick (my patient and knowledgeable bartender and friend) likes to say - this is good juice. He opened a new bottle and I immediately immersed myself into layers of vanilla, oak, cherry and spice. It was *exactly* what I needed tonight. Welcome back, old friend.

As I glanced at the clock I realized that Nick and I had carried on for a bit too long and I missed my bus. Drat, I'd pass the time with another classic. This time - a new vintage. Jean GarrGaraudet Bourgogne Hautes - Cotes du Beaune 2005. I had previously tasted the 2004 and written: "Earthy, bold and huge." Not my greatest use of wine vocabulary, but the instant I sniffed I remembered. THIS is a wine for the nose. It is everything I hoped for in an Old World wine. The color - appropriately garnet (for Pinot Noir/Burgandy) but the nose....sublime. Limestone, earth, slowly revealing the ripe fruit that I want from these classic French wines. The glass and I curled up at the end of the bar and had a long, silent conversation.

Have I mentioned how much I love wine?