Sunday, May 29, 2005

Montes Alpha 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon - another Chilean wine from the Colchagua Valley

Montes AlphaMore or less by coincidence, the Chilean wine I had this evening was from the same area as the one I had earlier in the month – that is, the Colchagua Valley. This one was great and I’ll be looking for it again.

A bit of internet searching reveals a very good web site that goes into some detail on the Colchagua Valley, among others in Chili. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenère are apparently the grapes that are predominantly grown in this valley.

This wine had a pretty good shelf-talker at the nearby World Market store. It was specifically raving about the 2001 but the rack was filled with both 2001 and 2002. Given that all the chatter was about the 2001, I got that one.

There’s a great write-up online already at the ‘wine lovers page’ web site, so check it out. It’s rings very true to my experience with the wine this evening.

About $16.99 (Austin)
I like this one a lot. “Fruit forward” with big ripe black currant fruit tastes, long finish. 14% alcohol.

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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Grapevine blowout

I haven’t had a chance to get down to Grapevine Market in the last week or so (link is in the side bar) but it turns out this was some kind of birthday week for them. There were apparently events all week. Today they had live music, various food tastings and of course, some wine tastings.

Grapevine Market’s web site is generally pretty poor. Ok, it sucks. If you’re going to have events all week, don’t you think you’d make a note of it on your web site? As far as I can tell, nothing. Even their online newsletter is from last August. Pretty lame. But, it’s otherwise a pretty good store. In fact, a great store. Just wish in this modern age they’d do a better job of connecting with their clientele.

Ordinarily, they’ll have maybe 2 or 3 wines to try on a Saturday afternoon. Today, they were tasting 12. As usual, most were pretty reasonably priced. The priciest at $21.49 was Chateau Souverain 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was very good, but I was in the mood to find a better value.

There were two others that I thought were very good too. The Carmenet Sauvignon Blanc for $6.99 was a great buy. Easy drinking, great summer quaffing. The other white that was good was the Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc at $12.29. Sorry, didn’t make a note of the vintage for either of these.

There were several hot things to try as well. One of which was something called “Lava” sauce. Check out the web site. Not exactly a wine-friendly sauce, but put in the right dip, it worked out pretty well. Made from habañero, even the “mild” version of the sauce was pretty hot. The “hot” version wasn’t really that much hotter than the “mild”. So if you want spice, just go with the “hot” and be done with it.

NY Times op ed page weighs in

Perhaps New York will soon be changing its laws. The New York Times has a good op ed piece on it. I like their suggestion for legislators:
"Here is a suggestion for legislators in New York and elsewhere: Break open a bottle from a good local winery and work it out."

Thursday, May 26, 2005

TABC has Texas shipping details

The Texas state commision for all alcohol related things, the TABC, has posted the official word on the changes for legally shipping wine. These were signed into law earlier this month.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

More legal nonsense related to wine...

Stumbled across this story about how a New York Whole Foods had to close its wine shop section because it ran afoul of NY state laws. Clearly somebody screwed up big time, but what a ridiculous law.

Kim Crawford 2004 Unoaked Chardonnay

Two BarrelInspired perhaps by Lenn of Lenndevours recent posting on unoaked chardonnay, I hauled out some Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay this evening.

I’ve enjoyed the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc on at least a couple of occasions now and when I saw this one in the store I thought I’d give it a try. While I didn’t have this particular one, the unoaked chardonnays seemed to be very popular in New Zealand when I visited there earlier in the year. In fact, the first one I can recall trying was the Mission Estate in the Hawkes Bay region. I recall enjoying that, but nothing like the Cab/Merlot I eventually bought.

I can’t say I like this as much as the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. This is light and crisp and enjoyable, particularly with food, but otherwise didn’t wow me that much on its own. The tastes were of melon and apple with some citrus and a bit of honey thrown in.

Personally I like the complexity that oak can add to chardonnay, and yet this is a nice refreshing change of pace.

About $17 (Austin)
 refreshing and crisp but likely I’ll move on to something else the next time.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Alexander Valley Vineyards - 2002 Two Barrel

Two BarrelAt the end of one of the aisles at Grapevine Market is what seems to be a sort of odds and ends collection of California red blends. That’s were you’ll find, for example, the Red Flyer I profiled awhile back. And that’s where I found this wine too.

The name of the wine is is taken directly from the fact that it’s 50% Syrah and 50% Merlot. Aged for 14 months in French and American oak. Tasting notes from the winery can be found here.

This is a big fruity wine with tastes of blackberry and blueberry. Soft tannins and great sipping independent of food. Probably a better wine than I would ordinarly open on a Monday night.

About $18.99 (Austin)
 very enjoyable. Lots of dark berry fruit. 14% alcohol.

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

From the Improbable Research files

Not much new to post about this weekend. Yes, I'm having some wine but I'm just enjoying some of the same ones I've previously profiled. (There's actually a reason why I put those 2 or 3 glass ratings next to some profiles - I do go back and get those again. Such is the case this weekend.)

Meanwhile, I thought I would post a pointer to an article on the subject of attempting to describe the taste of wine. In a nutshell, the research reveals that if you want to remember the flavor of the wine you had, you're better off not trying to describe it. Very counterintuitive to me.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

NY Times California Sauvignon Blancs

As a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, especially at this time of year, I hope to go out and find at least one of these.

From the "Can't Possibly Be True" file...

Check out this article on the ebay posting for If you're interested in the domain name ("domain name and member US wineries directory and database.") of, be prepared to shell out up to $750,000. As of this writing $0 bid. All I can say is good luck. I'll bet good money that no one buys that domain for that much.

Waterbrook 2003 Mélange - Columbia Valley

Waterbrook MélangeThis wine caught my eye last week. I guess it was a combination of a few things that lead me to buy it. It had a ‘shelf talker’ with a very positive review of the wine, it was reasonably priced and it’s possible I may travel to Washington state later this summer for some respite from the blast furnace that is a Texas August, so I was interested in the fact it was from the Columbia Valley.

Apparently late last year it was listed as a Wine Spectator ‘Top 100 for 2004’. Not that that’s a guarantee I’d like it, but it does catch your attention. It’s made from 33% Cabernet Sauv, 26% Sangiovese, 25% Merlot, 13% Syrah and 3% Cabernet Franc and it’s a mouthful of blackberry fruit goodness.  A bit sharp tasting when I first opened it, but either I adjusted or it mellowed a bit after being open for an hour. It went well with the pasta and red sauce I had.

About $13 (Austin)
 lots of blackberry fruitiness. Med to long finish.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Pointer to more on Central Otago of NZ

Early in April I posted about the Central Otago in NZ. So not surprisingly this article in the SF Chronicle the other day caught my eye. I haven't opened the Pinot Noir I brought back from the visit and probably won't for awhile. Need a good (better) reason than just everyday fare. Some kind of occasion. CEO speaks on the subject of shipping...

In a nutshell, the article quotes Garrick as saying that it doesn't really impact them, because they're a retailer rather than a winery and that implies different license types.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Texas Hill Country profiled in Wine Spectator

Prickly PearI’ve made more than a few posts about Texas wines or wineries here and while I don’t want to drone on about it, I thought I’d just make a note that the June Wine Spectator cover story is on Wine Country travel and it includes a section on Texas – specifically in/around Fredericksburg. It also includes profiles of New York, Oregon, Virginia and of course, California (in this case San Luis Obispo area).

By no means are the articles comprehensive. In fact the TX article only mentions two Hill Country wineries, along with a few restaurants and wine bars. So go here for more info on other TX wineries.

The picture above is of a couple Prickly Pear cactus flowers. They’re going crazy in central Texas right now. I took the picture this weekend while hiking at St Edwards park in NW Austin. The Prickly Pear display of flowers this year is much better than average.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Chilean Carmenère - 2002 Estate Bottled Colchagua Valley Apaltagua Carmenère

Perrin Cotes du RhoneWith today’s supreme court decision, I should’ve poured something I ordered via the internet from an out of state winery, but honestly, even though it’s been legal to do so here since ‘03 I just prefer to buy locally. When it’s shipped direct to me, the chances that it’s sat on a pallet in the hot sun or in a hot UPS truck are generally not worth it, even for the lower priced ‘value’ wines I generally buy. Perhaps I put too much faith in it, but I suspect when a retailer gets wine shipped it arrives in a refrigerated truck. Me? Mine would come in a crummy brown UPS truck. Ever notice one of those to be refrigerated? Yeah, me neither. And it’s hot here!

Yeah, there are still some hurdles left to the online and direct purchase of wine for me. First, it’s mainly still going to be from people who are visiting a winery rather than random buyers, and second, it better be packaged such that I’m confident it’s going to arrive as good as it left the winery. That last one is something I think is inevitable, but just not quite there yet.

Meanwhile, how about some Chilean wine? I’d been commenting in my last post about the Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc that I had over the weekend that I like the green pepper tastes of the NZ Sauv Blancs. Well, here’s a red that offers a little something similar.

I can’t say I know anything about the Carmenère grape, but apparently it’s known as the "lost Bordeaux" variety, as it was originally planted in Bordeaux, but was abandoned there because it was too late ripening for their climate.

In this case, I grabbed it because I was having some peppered tenderloin steak. Together, the pair were great. Alone, the wine initially had a hint of new leather but otherwise very clearly had a peppery taste. And green pepper was definitely a component of the taste. This article goes on to say a bit more about Carmenère, including a bit about unripened Carmenère imparting a vegetal taste. So maybe some of the green pepper taste of this wine comes from it being just a little less than appropriately ripe.

One last note: the hand rubbed peppering for my steak came from a packet I got originating at the Perini Ranch steakhouse out in the middle of nowwhere’s land Texas. It was a freebie from the TX beef council. Doesn’t look like it’s available to order from the Perini web site, but the ingredients for the ‘steak rub’ are right there on the side of the package:

  • 1 tsp corn starch or flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp course ground pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp granulated beef stock base
About $10 (Austin)
a hearty red that was great with some peppered steak. Good value.

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New Zealand Wines

Yet another link off to some other info. As a fan of New Zealand wines, looks like maybe this wasn't the best year for them down there.

Some recommendations

Some low budget recommendations from Astoria Oregon.

It's official - consumers win

The big story of the day is that the supreme court has made a sensible choice allowing direct wine shipments to all the states.

Update: thanks to Fermentations for providing a link that gives a better than average explanation of the implications.

Rock Rabbit 2004 Sauvignon Blanc

Perrin Cotes du RhoneLately it seems like I can’t walk into any of the usual places I buy wine here in NW Austin and not find Rock Rabbit wines on the shelf. This Sauvignon Blanc was being tasted at Grapevine Mkt a few weeks ago and I liked it well enough to stock one for a warm afternoon like today.

In an appeal to the apparent popularity of New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc wines, their web site says “our Sauvignon Blanc is based on the New Zealand white wine style which offer everything not typically found in California wines -- Flavor, Style and Value.”

Hmm, ok why wouldn’t I just buy a NZ wine then? I guess the main reason in this case would primarily be price. This is maybe a couple bucks cheaper than most of the decent NZ Sauvignon Blancs I’ve had in recent memory. Well ok, there is something besides price - the taste isn’t quite the same either, it’s softer. If you’re looking for something not quite as tart and herbaceous as many NZ Sauv Blanc wines, then this one could be more for you. It’s got 6% Gewürztraminer and a very light flavor of lemons and peaches and maybe a hint of apricot.

Personally I like the tart, crisp grapefruity and green pepper tastes of the NZ wines so if I were looking for a Sauv Blanc under $15, I’d probably go back to something like the Saint Clair from NZ. Or under $20, get the Kim Crawford.

About $10 (Austin)
 soft easy drinking summer wine with flavor of lemons and peaches.

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

I ran across this site called I like the tone of the site and more than that, it seems to have some interesting info on it too.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Perrin Reserve 2001 Côtes du Rhône Rouge

Perrin Cotes du RhoneI don’t drink much French wine at the moment. I don’t have any particular reasons other than I simply tend to focus more on all there is to offer in ‘New World’ wines. Wines like this one don’t really help my interest though.

But I guess I was predisposed to notice something from the Rhone the other day because Kelly was raving about a Rhone wine from Condrieu she’d had. Granted, given the price point, I wasn’t really expecting this to be of the same caliber as the wine she’d had, but it’s all part of the exploration, right?

There’s a nice write-up of the 2000 vintage of this wine in the online Seattle Post Intelligencer. If you believe published vintage charts, 2001 should have been at least as good a year.

Upon initially opening the bottle, this wine had a really nice floral scent to it. The mouth feel though is really simple and short-lived. In fact, the wine seemed to wilt quickly in the mouth. It seemed to be more enjoyable with some gouda cheese I had rather than on its own.

The wine is made from 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre and 10% Cinsault grapes. 

About $10 (Austin)
 light, pleasant, simple red wine. Paired up pretty well with some 2 yr old aged gouda cheese. Will probably skip it favor of something else the next time.

Technorati tag: Executives Discuss Supreme Court Wine Distribution Cases

While the upcoming supreme court ruling on direct wine shipment now seems to be mostly a moot point for wine consumers here in Texas (although surely not its wineries), I must admit to being confused by this press release by the folks at In it, CEO George Garrick is quoted as saying "The strict state-by-state regulations on retailer direct shipments will remain in effect regardless of the rulings." Unfortunately the press release fails to go on to explain what he means by that. In fact, most of the articles I've read on the subject don't really explain this subject too well. My assumption has been that it will open the door for wineries to sell into all the states just in the same way that it was recently opened by the state of Texas - effectively taking the decision out of the hands of the states.

If anyone knows of reasonably good online summary of what the pending court case actually implies, please post a comment. My bit of googling on it didn't turn up a good one.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Tom Leykis talks wine

Couldn’t sleep. Listening to late night talk radio. It’s mostly a wasteland out there on the AM radio waves at night. A promo on the Jim Bohannon show caught my ear though. Tom Leykis is going to be doing a weekend radio show called “The Tasting Room”. Sounds to me as though it’ll be a radio version of something like Luxist. Although, I expect this to lean more heavily toward the Maxim / FHM crowd.

The regular Leykis show isn’t on any Austin radio stations though as far as I know, so it’s likely I’d have to do some searching if I really wanted to track this one down. His show used to be on one of the local FM stations but that station cratered a few years ago. No great loss. I was never really a fan of the Leykis show.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Clayton 2000 Zinfandel

Clayton Zin 2000Earlier this week I’d mentioned I was thinking of opening a Zinfandel from the Lodi area. Yes indeed I did get around to that this evening. The result: Hmmm, mixed.

I first ran across the Clayton Zinfandel about a year ago. It was something that Grapevine Market was highlighting that week and my recent interests in Lodi Zins at the time was enough to get me to buy. The one I bought then really impressed me. Unfortunately I wasn’t keeping notes as well so I don’t remember which vintage it was or any other details. But I liked it enough to buy two more over the last year, a 2000 and a 2001.

The back-of-the-bottle info says “Low yields, 80 year old vines, and aged in French oak combine to produce a wine of complexity.” I’d agree with the complexity, but had I tasted the same thing a year ago that I tasted this evening, I probably wouldn’t have ended up with two more on the rack.

This wine is interesting or perhaps odd is a better description. Upon first sniff I thought, wow, this bouquet is huge. But the taste that followed can only be described as a mouth full of dried leaves. Remember jumping into a pile of dry leaves on a warm autumn afternoon as a kid? Ok, now you’ve got it. Something’s just not quite right about this. This is not what I remember from the bottle I had last year.

An hour and a half after opening the bottle, it evened out a little bit. It seemed to taste a little less like wood. In fact, it got a little more likeable. Although, perhaps it’s the 15.6% alcohol that changed my opinion.

I went back to visit the Clayton web site that I had visited some time in the past to see if I could find some other details on this wine and found that the ‘Clayton Vineyards’ web page is no longer active. So, perhaps this winery is no longer producing wines. You can find a reference to a bronze medal for it on the web site.

Update: I think I'm just going to have to call this bottle tainted in some way. I have the 2001 of this wine as well and will try again another day.

About $21 (Austin – Grapevine Market)
mixed interest. Chalking it up to a tainted bottle. Big ruby red wine with soft mouth feel and big aroma, but extremely and strangely oaky. At 15.6%, high alcohol.

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Yahoo finds wine blogs

I noticed recently that Yahoo's directory pages have recently beefed up their list of wine blogs. Most of the one's listed on the directory are new. Check it out. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Shipping to Texas

Here's more info on the further easing of restrictions on shipping wine into Texas. To participate though, wineries must obtain a $75 annual out-of-state wine shipper's permit and a Texas sales tax permit and pay state sales and excise taxes.

Ultimately what this does is ease the restrictions related to dry counties. Why even have any of them dry then? If you can ship there directly from out of state, why can't you buy down the street? Seems like further changes are bound to occur.

WBW #9 - Spicewood Vineyards Rosé of Merlot 2004

Rose of MerlotYes, it’s Wine Blogging Wednesday #9. This month the theme is “anything at all rosé”. Cool! (Literally.)

In April, I was taking in a nice spring day and what better way than to head out into the Texas Hill Country to take in a Texas winery. In this case, Spicewood Vineyards. I tasted a bunch of their wines that afternoon – in fact about all of them – but my favorite of the afternoon (just ahead of their 2001 Estrella Blanca) was their 2004 Rosé of Merlot. This is a really nice estate bottled dry rosé wine made of 100% Merlot grapes. The grape skins are in the tank with the juice for only 24 hours. The resulting color is not so much pink as more of a translucent red.

At the point I was leaving the winery, the woman helping me with the purchase pointed out an article in the Austin Chronicle. In it, it points out that the wine was an award winning wine at the annual Texas Best Wine Competition. In fact, it was among the top 10 scoring wines at the competition and won as the “Best Estate Bottled Wine”. Well then, I guess I chose wisely!

The Chronicle article is interesting for one of the other points it makes too. To quote:

“Texas A&M provided the perfect example of the impact of knowing on scoring when they invited a group of people to taste three wines – labeled France, California, and Texas – and rank them. In what psychologists call the "Halo" effect, nearly all of the people picked the French wine as the best, California's second, and Texas' third. Here's the kicker: All three wines were the same Texas wine.”

In other words, don’t discount the wine just ‘cause it’s from Texas. This is some good stuff. Granted, anyone outside of Texas might find it kind of hard to find. But if you can find it, grab a bottle, get it on ice and chill out with a very easy drinking wine.

About $14 (Austin)
Very good. Dry wine with light cherry fruit and medium finish. I’d quaff more of it (especially if it was cheaper!).

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Lodi wines

Anyone that’s stopped in on this blog in the past may have noticed several profiles of Lodi area wines. I thought it was just that I had personally made a point of seeking them out after a visit last year. This article suggests maybe it’s more than that. In particular, it points out that:

The number of wineries that have opted to display Lodi on their labels instead of California has grown in the past five years from 25 to 55, according to Mark Chandler, executive director of the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission.

Turns out, they’re just getting easier to find. I think I’ll uncork some Clayton Zin (a Lodi area wine) later this week. More notes when I do.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Think Pink

This article doesn't appear to be related to this week's WBW #9, but it makes a perfect preface to this week's expected tastings. With the weather heating up again here this week, I'm looking forward to some of the pink stuff. More then...

Wine "doggie bag"

In other news, folks in Michigan may soon be able to take home wine they don't finish at a restaurant. And here I thought Texas laws on alcohol were behind the times.

Although we still have dry counties here, when I moved here 15 years ago it was otherwise legal to drive around with open containers of beer. Very odd. That law was eventually, appropriately, changed. But as far as I know and as long as I've lived here in Texas, we've always been able to take home any wine that's left in the bottle. At least the restaurants have never objected to it. Thankfully at least some common sense prevails here in the lone star state. (Hopefully no one will correct me and tell me it's illegal here in Texas!)

Dream Taste - fixing that corked bottle

A couple of French inventors have come up with something they call the Dream Taste kit. Apparently you pour your corked bottle into their carafe (fitted with one of their replaceable filters) and an hour later, it's drinkable. Read all about it...

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Avalon Napa Valley 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon

AvalonI haven’t been able to get over to Grapevine’s Friday Night Fights in the last couple weeks. Maybe next week. They should be getting into the winning brackets (of Cab Sauv under $20) by now and so they’ll be pairing off the best of the bunch.

Meanwhile, motivated by those tastings though, I independently happened across this Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at a very reasonable price. Avalon does only Cabernet Sauvignons, and only two: the “Avalon California” and this one, the “Avalon Napa Valley”. I haven’t seen the former. I could just be being suckered by good marketing, but I like the attitude of their catchphrases: “Napa Cab without the pretense”, and “Cabernet worthy of kings, priced for peasants”. 

This 2002 wine is made from 90% Cab Sauv, 4% Syrah, 2.5% Petite Verdot, 2% Merlot and .5% Cab Franc. Aged for a year in French and American oak. They go on to identify the breakdown of where it comes from as well: 58% Rutherford, 13% Napa, 5% Oakville, 5% St. Helena, 4% Spring Mountain and 15% “Other”.

I thought this was very good. It’s a very fruity wine with soft tannins. The oak rounds it out nicely and it gave me a bit of leather scents. Long finish. Compared to the Casa Madero earlier this week, this had less structure, more fruit. Both are good values and nice finds.

$11.99 (Austin)
 Very good. Fruity taste and soft tannins make this great drinking just by itself. Seconds please.

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Cinco De Mayo! Casa Madero Cabernet Sauvignon

Casa MaderoIt wasn’t until I moved to Texas that I even became aware that Cinco De Mayo – the 5th of May – was any kind of festive occasion. In the US, of course, it’s not any kind of official holiday. But it’s an important historical event for Mexico (at least regionally), and with a significant Mexican heritage here in Texas there are indeed celebrations. Even here in Austin.

I didn’t know and I don’t think it’s common knowledge, so let me add that Cinco De Mayo commemorates the victory of the Mexicans over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. Read all about it…

And so I thought, why not seek out a Mexican wine? I think I’d heard that there were wines from Mexico but it isn’t anything I’ve ever tried. Surely here in Austin I should be able to find one. Well, yes, but barely. Out of the thousands of wines available at Grapevine, they had two(!) Mexican wines.

Of those two, the Casa Madero was the one that was recommended. Bottom shelf. The bottle was dusty. Do I really wanna try this? Only $8.50(on sale)? Oh okay, why not.

This is some darn good wine though! 100% Cabernet Sauv, full bodied with good tongue-dragging tannins. Rich black currant aroma and flavor. I would honestly put this up against any of the $20–and–under Napa Cabernets in the Friday Night Fights that I’ve been posting about recently. I would bet it would compete pretty well. It surely beats the more expensive Castle Rock of that last Friday I went to.

I read a bit more about Casa Madero, and I found it has quite a history. It was established as far back as 1597, making it (they claim) the oldest winery in the Americas. It’s gotta be too hot to grow grapes down there, doesn’t it? Generally yes, but in the Parras Valley where this estate bottled wine comes from, the grapes are grown around 5000 feet altitude which makes things a bit more temperate.

$8.50 (Austin)
Good luck finding it, but if you do, I found it very good. No vintage anywhere on the main label, but the neck of the bottle says 1999.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Two Hills - Odd Post of the Week

Ok, so this is just weird, but I thought it just funny enough to post. I recently profiled the Sharpe Hill Ballet of Angels wine. It’s been pointed out to me that the little angel on the label of that wine has some interesting similarities to Bobby Hill on the King of the Hill animated TV series. Hill and Hill. A coincidence? Hmm. You be the judge.


Amazon puts wine on menu

I'm sure this article on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer will catch the eye of a few other wine bloggers today. " Inc. has launched a partnership with Internet wine retailer, hoping to move more wine shoppers online and capitalize on one of the last major retail markets that hasn't yet made a big splash on the Internet."

This system works because they work within the existing distribution network. It was inevitable that a big ecommerce player would move into this space. If they continue to make it work well - and it's likely they will with guns like Amazon behind them - most people will simply ignore the antiquated system of money grubbing wholesalers behind the scenes.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Clay Station 2004 Viognier

Clay StationMore than a couple of the wines I’ve profiled on this blog have come from the Lodi appellation of California. In fact, I’ve made a point to look for Zinfandels from that area and other red wines. What I wasn’t necessarily looking for though or expecting were white wines from that area.

The Clay Station Viognier caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, it was one of those wines that the store nearby had highlighted by putting one of those “shelf talkers” out for it. Once I’d noticed that, my general interest of late in the Lodi area did the rest.

Interestingly though, the shelf talker highlighted this wine’s California State Fair double gold award but upon review after the fact, it seems clear that accolade was for the 2003 vintage. This wine is the 2004 vintage. Does a store have any right in mentioning awards if the vintage for which it was given is not what is on the shelf? 

Regardless, this is a very enjoyable wine. It has an excellent floral aroma and a light crisp taste of apricots and a bit of apple. Maybe even a bit of honeydew melon in there. Nice long finish. If you’re looking for a white that’s a bit different, give this a try. For the price, it’s hard to go wrong.

Clay Station is one of five ranges of wines that come from the Delicato Vineyards. The Clay Station range is marketed as “for those interested in more than the traditional varietals…”. Perhaps, but I think most folks would like this wine.

About $9 to $10.
 Very pleasant wine by itself or paired up with food.

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Vino Shmeeno

A new community web site related to wine called Vino Shmeeno was launched just yesterday. Not much traffic yet and not much to say about who or what organization is behind it.

A similar site that's been around longer is VinoCellar.

Eat, Drink, Dine

Update: I emailed the contact mentioned at this site per the terms of use but the email bounced. Nobody there by that name ( Anyway, the site stills seems to offer some good information.

I happened across a web site today that's probably been around awhile but it was new to me. As far as food & wine pairings go, it does perhaps the best job of presenting and navigating the possibilities that I've seen on the web. I would link to it, but oddly enough, if you actually read the fine print in the 'terms and conditions' of the web site it does not allow links to their site without prior written consent. Seems a little restrictive. Anyway, I don't feel like doing that at the moment, so you can manually string the words in the title of this post together and add a ".com" and check it out.

(A quick google search reveals there are a variety of links to the page. I wonder if they all got the written consent?)

Monday, May 02, 2005

Red Flyer 2003 California Red Table Wine

Red FlyerAs I’ve mentioned, I’m often a sucker for an eye-catching label. But in this case, I would’ve probably walked on by had Grapevine not been doing tastings of Red Flyer on Saturday. The label was certainly eye-catching, but maybe just a bit too cheesy.

Somehow the name and the images don’t really go together in my opinion. When I think of a red flyer, I think of the old red Radio Flyer wagon I had as a kid. That just doesn’t go with the ‘War of the Worlds’ theme on the rest of the label.

Anyway, I generally wasn’t expecting much. But surprise, I really liked this! It’s a big fruit forward wine made up of Syrah, Mouvedre, Grenache, Carignan, and Clone X. Percentages apparently are proprietary. Balanced tannins and very pleasant hints of toasty oak. Their web site says this about Clone X: “Clone X, the secret ingredient, was smuggled from outer space in the hyperbolic chamber of one of the forward thinking grays.” Um, yeah.

The guy pouring the wine at GrapeVine says this comes from the folks at Hahn Estates. Click the label above though to go to the specially constructed Flashy web site for Red Flyer.

I liked it a lot. For that price, I’ll likely go back for several more.

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