Saturday, January 14, 2006

Cuvee de Pena - Update

I opened the 3 liter box on October 29th and having sampled over many weeks although it has been two weeks since I last tasted. Just today I tasted again. Although the wine is not bad, I would have to say that the fruit has faded. I might serve it now at a party where the participants are not swirling away looking for nuances and subtle aromas, but I think I will empty the wine bladder and recycle the box. This would be a great tailgate wine or if you're hanging out in the garage working on your car. It almost made it to three months. Three months!

My review is here on the old blog.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Restaurant Wine Pricing

This is one of my pet peeves too!

Dan Berger at the Napa Valley Register is fed up and he is not going to take it anymore! Read his full article here.

On Wine: Gouging at restaurants

By Dan Berger

Thursday, January 12, 2006 12:40 PM PST

Restaurant owners almost universally detest columns like the one you're about to read, but if you are a patron of one of these places (and this applies to about 95 percent of restaurants that carry wine), then you'll agree with me: Restaurant wine prices are far too high.I've written about this maybe 50 times in the last 30 years, but nothing seems to change. And diners have only themselves to blame. They seem never to tell the restaurants their displeasure at seeing a $15 (retail) wine marked $45 on the wine list.

Econ 101 tells me that there is an optimum price of a "widget" where unit sales and profit margins are maximized. And I don't think it's at 2 or 3 times retail. If wines were priced closer to retail I think patrons would buy more bottles and also buy more expensive wines to go with the fine dining. Hopefully the food IS good!

Dan is right though, restaurant patrons need to vote with their wallets and feet, and also should voice complaints where warranted. A cynical friend told me that wines are priced too high because the restaurants don't want you to buy wine by the bottle. They want you to buy liquor, beer and wine by the glass because they make more money. I am usually not that cynical but maybe he has something there.

I don't see much changing though except for a few enterprising restaurants who want to stand out from the crowd and get a reputation as being a very wine friendly place with a current, diversified (that means not having 5 California Chardonnays) wine list that is about $10 over retail.

Leitz Dragonstone

2004 Leitz Rudesheimer Drachenstein Riesling ($16) -- Rheingau, 8.5% alc. Terry Theise Estate Selection. Imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. Mark at "Uncorked" covered this wine during the holidays and the rep from Dayton dropped off a bottle to taste. My German is weak so the website didn't help much.

Wine Advocate gave it an 89 with an 8,000 case production. Cincinnati's own David Schildknecht reviewed the wine for Robert Parker.

What is amazing to me about this wine is the balance between the front-end residual sugar and the acidity on the back-end. I enjoyed and think that it is worth trying as an entry level German Riesling that is off-dry.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Wine Blogging Wednesday Logo

Go to Lenndevours to vote on the Logo Run Off. Two of the original entries tied in votes and a late entry have forced a run-off. Now I'm not suggesting you vote one way or the other but it is important to vote.

Balnaves of Coonawarra

1998 Balnaves, Cabernet Merlot ($25) -- AUS -- In a recent warehouse walk-about I pulled this bottle to sample as a vintage close-out. 81% Cab, 19% Merlot. I enjoy an aged Red as long as you don't wait too long. I have a few in inventory that need to go now as they have crested in drinkabilty and are beginning that slow slide to eventual oxidized Sherry. (Note to self, don't buy cases of wine at some charity auctions as this is where all old wines go!)

This wine has aged well and will hold for several years more as there is plenty of fruit and the color is still dark red without any tell-tall browning. The cork is in good condition with only slight staining at the tip. The nose is a bit closed but there are full dark fruit flavors with settled tannins and a medium finish. I am waiting for the final pricing on the balance of the inventory.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

New Wine Blog Under the Radar

I stumbled onto the "drinksomewine" Blog somehow and now have it on my links. Good writing and great graphics and pictures. This is real professional!

I am also starting a write-in campaign for their WBW logo! Vote early and vote often!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Finca Luzon Verde - Don't Panic It's Organic

2004 Finca Luzon Verde ($8) -- Jumilla, SP. Yes another Jorge Ordonez selection. I want to thank Water into Wino , who reviewed this wine recently in December, for bringing it to my attention. (Also, thanks for the photo. I promise to return it as soon as I unpack my new Pentax istDL and figure out how to use it.)

Before Christmas I made a New Year's Resolution to try the Luzon. The sample just arrived and after tasting, a shipment of 10 cases is on the way to the shop. It is 100% Monastrell and got a solid 89 rating from Parker. Beside that, it's a great everyday wine with a dark aroma, full fresh fruit flavors and a medium finish. The Vina Alarba OVG is another great value wine, but I would prefer the Luzon as it is bigger. Great for winter sipping and should go well with foods.

The name "Verde" is not because the wine is green, but because the grapes are organic. Don't shy away from this wine because of the "organic label". This is the real deal! Dig in!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Pillar Box Red

2004 Pillar Box Red ($11) -- Padthway AUS. The rep made a big deal about getting a case as it is somewhat allocated or restricted to certain accounts. Color is dark red almost purple; earthy aromas; full-fruit with maybe a touch of RS with tannins and a medium finish. At first it is meaty and full-bodied and then after 30 minutes it softens up. Very ripe. Would go well with big game!

Can't find much on production notes but the K&L site offers this:

90 points Robert Parker: "A fabulous value, this 20,000 case blend assembled by renowned Barossa winemaker Chris Ringland, is composed of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Shiraz and 11% Merlot, primaraly from young vines. Ringland has rarely worked with such huge quantities, but he has kept the wine in tank with a little exposure to American and French oak, bottled it unfined and unfiltered, and finished it with a screw cap. It boasts luscious black currant fruit intermixed with smoke, herbs, and cedar. Richly fruity, opulent, and medium to full-bodied, it is one of the great wine bargains of the world." (10/05)

Well now I know why it is tough to get. 90 points and $10 for a 20,000 case production wine! Bet next year it is at least $13.

Next Year!

This picture from Michael Keating at the Cincinnati Enquirer pretty much sums it up. This was the 2nd play of the game after a a long pass completion and Palmer is out with a torn ACL until next season. Some have made some comments about the "Bungles" but last night I only saw a team playing with a lot of emotion having just lost their star quarterback. The "Bungles" are dead, long live the Bengals! Kitna did a great job in the first half, but the second half was a different story.

The second highlight of the evening was the drunken Pittsburgh Steeler's fan (yellow construction hat and all) in the very top section of the stadium being ejected after swearing at Bengal fans and dumping beer on some bystanders. The Hamilton County Sheriffs probably saved his life as the crowd was getting ugly after Palmer's injury.

Now for a refreshment critique. The American beers suck and the Guinness was about 1/4 mile away each way, and I'm talking downhill and then back uphill. We were actually in the last row at the top at the 50 yard line. The good news is that no one behind you can throw a beer down your back, the bad news is that there is no one behind you!

The Warsteiner Dunkel draft was very good and within walking distance. I won't even begin to review the food available as this was not fine dining. The peanuts in the third quarter hit the spot.

Until next year!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

So OK, Maybe Things ARE a Little Different Here in the Midwest!

It pains me to report that this happened in Madisonville just several blocks or so from the shop. Kinda has a Psycho ring to it!

I love the family members who said the deceased insisted on staying in the house.

“Don’t show my body when I’m dead.

Don’t bury me.

I’m coming back.”

Hah, she never left.

Now I don't believe in ghosts and other paranatural activities, but just in case, I'm locking the doors at the shop from here on out! During the day!