Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Texas stuff

Gruene TX

The little town of Gruene Texas south of Austin is having a Music and Wine fest the weekend of Oct 7, 8 and 9. Might be interesting. I like Joe Ely too and Guene Hall is a one of a kind place.

And this weekend is Oktoberfest down in Fredericksburg. Click here if you wanna see the details, but just a warning, you’ll be treated to some goofy oompah music by their web site.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Chardonnay... hmmmm

USA Chardonnay

The theme of the last week for me has been Chardonnay. And despite the fact it’s Autumn now, we’re still having 100 degree record temps so why not continue with some tasty, refreshing white wines. Geez, when is this heat gonna end!

I posted about the Cuvaison Chardonnay last weekend and felt like I’d like to be doing some comparisons so here are a couple more that got tagged as part of the query. (Tough duty.)  In this case I purposely decided to spend a little less and kinda see ‘how low can you go’.

First, I tried the “Red Diamond” from Washington. A 2002 Chardonnay. Yes, let’s be honest, the price was right on this wine. This wine was somewhere in the $10 range. Likewise, was the sale priced 2004 Kendall-Jackson California Chardonnay Vintner’s Reserve “Jackson Estates Grown” that I picked up on sale at HEB grocery.

Despite their widely diverse geography, these wines were surprisingly similar so I simply lumped them together in this post. But let’s be clear, neither of these wines were quite as enjoyable as the previously profiled wines this week from Domaine Manciat-Poncet or the Napa Cuvaison. Both were refreshing and crisp, but simply not as well rounded or full of fuit. The finish wasn’t as long and the taste was just less interesting. Both had a similar quality of having something of a citrus note, but in addition to crisp tartness was also a note of sourness that just wasn’t quite what I was really looking for in the wake of those other wines. The body and buttery note one might expect was also sparingly there.

Both of these come from huge wineries with other offerings. So, perhaps I should give those others a shot. For example, for another $7 I could try a Kendall-Jackson ‘Grand Reserve’. Presumably I’d find a significant difference. If I find one handy, I’ll check that out.

Both retailed for around $10
 crisp, refreshing, though light bodied, rather tart and short-lived finish. Next.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

"Best in the Last 30"

2003 La Frenz Montage

Beau over at Basic Juice has started a ‘Best in the last 30 days’ meme. And Jathan over at Wine Expression got tagged and has now passed the baton on to me. Uh oh! Now I’m on the spot. What have I had in the last 30 days that I’d consider worthy of the ‘best’ of anything?

Hmmm. Well, although I must admit my notes are extremely spotty on it since all I had was mouthful, the first thing that came to mind as the best thing I’ve tasted recently was from my trip to the Okanagan and the La Frenz 2003 Montage that I had. I bought one based on that tasting but have yet to open the bottle yet. But, despite that, I still think it’s the best I’ve had in the last month. The Montage name is sort of a take off on Meritage. In this case the blend is of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cab Sauvignon with a ripe fruit taste of plums and cherries. Good luck finding it though since it is small winery with limited production. I’ll post again with more detail about it when I actually open the bottle I got.

I'm passing on the baton to Swirl & Sniff. Hasn't been an update in awhile over there so maybe this will get him writing again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


An interesting web site in its own right, alawine.com has a link off its main page that tracks wine blogs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Domaine Manciat-Poncet Macon Charnay 2003 Chardonnay

2003 Cuvaison Chardonnay

After that last post on Cuvaison Chardonnay, I’ve decided to go on a bit of a Chardonnay kick. Earlier this year I was down at a Saturday tasting at the Austin Wine Merchant. They had several Chardonnays from Domaine Manciat-Poncet they were trying. I had gotten one and pulled it out a couple nights ago after the Cuvaison as a bit of a comparison.

The one I had was the “Vieilles Vignes” or old vines wine. It was slightly less buttery than the Cuvaison although it had a nice softness. It was also equally refreshing with a light citrus crispness. Balanced and long finish. So how’d it stack up? Very well I think, though perhaps not quite as flavorful.

I only got this one because of the tasting that the Wine Merchant was doing. I otherwise seem to find myself passing the ‘France’ aisle. I know, I know, I should expand my choices more often, but let’s just say it’s a phase I’m in. The Austin Wine Merchant regularly tastes French wine, so I should try to get down there more often. In fact, they’ve got one this weekend.

Retails for around $16–18
 would definitely get another. Balanced finish, mineral crispness.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Cuvaison 2003 Napa Chardonnay

2003 Cuvaison Chardonnay

Someone offered to send me a couple Napa wines. Now let’s say you enjoy a nice glass of wine on a regular basis and have started to keep your notes online. If someone offered to send you some wine at no cost to you, would you turn them down? I don’t think so! 

Such is how I snagged a couple bottles of Cuvaison wine. The first of them that I’ve tried has been the 2003 Napa Chardonnay. To be right up front, I enjoyed the wine quite a bit. With a lot of California Chardonnay I’m not surprised when I get a big dose of wood taste right out of the gate. With this wine, there’s definitely a nice toasty oak on the nose and taste, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with the flavor of a new 2x4. Along with a note of peaches there’s a buttery texture as well, but not too fat. In fact, there’s a crisp citrus acidity that made the wine refreshing. Generally, the wine was just a little more subtle than some other CA chards I’ve had, and very well rounded.

So what’s not to like. Not much really. Depends on how price conscience you are. This one has a $24 retail price. There are two full aisles of CA Chardonnay at Grapevine Market here. Can this wine really stand out among them all? Hard to say. But another one I’ve had recently that I liked pretty well suggests it’s got to be pretty tough competition out there. The Cambria Katherine's Vineyard 2003 Chardonnay 2003 from the Santa Maria Valley may not have the same pedigree as the Cuvaison, but it was still pretty good and $10 cheaper.

Retails for around $24
 enjoyed it a lot. Long finish, subtle nose and taste of oak and hints of butter in the mouth feel.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Flat Creek open house Oct 1

My closest winery – and thus the one I picked for WBW#12 – is having an open house on Oct 1st. I haven’t been out there in awhile but in the interim it appears they have expanded and added a new events center. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to get out there and sample some of the new stuff that weekend.

And as long as I’m mentioning local wine events, if you like getting out to the TX Hill Country, the Fredericksburg Food & Wine Fest is usually fun and is Oct 22nd. Strictly Texas wines at this one.

The Undiscovered Country

Okanagan Wines

A couple of weeks ago I posted that I was heading to the Okanagan Valley to take in some wineries there and then I promptly went quiet for awhile. Well sorry about that, but between the travel and getting back to a busy project, I’m only now starting to get back to things wine related.

In some ways, I took in so much that it’s just been a daunting thought to sit down at the keyboard and try to relate it. So rather than do that, there’s a fair chance I might just make notes about it in a more piecemeal fashion. I’ll start with this.

I was in the Okanagan Valley for parts of 4 days. On each, I took in a few different wineries. The rest of the time was a bit of biking and hiking. Would have liked to do more of both of those other activities, but I’ll have to save that for another visit. I made Kelowna a base, but on another go-round, I’d probably look a bit south first to Penticton, though Kelowna was a nice place and the B&B I stayed in was one of the best I’ve stayed in for some time. (Abbott on the Lake)

In general, I’ll have to start by saying that the area is truly a very beautiful place. Judging by the traffic I encountered in the area, a lot of other people are thinking the same thing.  In some subsequent posts, perhaps I’ll make a few more pictures available. At the bottom of this post is an example of both the rugged country and how big the vineyards are in the area. The picture below was taken off the deck of the Burrowing Owl winery near Oliver.

When I first arrived, I came the faster way, via Vancouver and the major tollway. These lead me directly into Kelowna. Most of the wineries are actually south of there, but there are a few of them were around Kelowna.

There’s plenty I could recount about each, but for now, I’ll simply comment briefly on those in the picture above. There wasn’t much I found I disliked, so it would have been nice to bring home a lot more, but in the end, I took only what I figured I could get into my carry on baggage. And at 6 bottles, that was a bit of a stretch.

Hard to pick a favorite, but I consistently enjoyed the wines I had at La Frenz. The price/performance ratio for their wines was good as well. I picked their “2003 Montage”, a blend of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cab Sauv as one I would take home from them. (The dark green label in the picture.)

La Frenz is on the “Narramata Bench”, perched next to the Okanagan Lake. The link to the left has some good pictures of the area as well.

Of the other wines in the picture above from the Narramata area, I also snagged the 2003 White Meritage from Township 7 winery. They weren’t actually tasting it because of popularity and limited quantity, but the woman doing the tasting raved about it so this was the one wine of the group that I bought based on recommendation alone. So, we’ll see.

Also from the Narramata area (and with the funky label on the far right) I liked the Blasted Church Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 and the Therapy 2003 Merlot. Therapy was a very new winery. In fact, the paint on the place was barely dry and still smelled fresh. The name is largely a marketing gimmick – as in “Eveyone could use a little Therapy once in awhile.”

Two other wines from the picture above are from the Stag’s Hollow winery in the Okanagan Falls area and the Silver Sage winery in Oliver. The 2003 Renaissance Merlot was the one I opt’ed for from Stag’s Hollow. They have two lines of wines, the “Simply” line and the “Renaissance” wines – that are ‘truly special’. Well, I enjoyed it anyway.

The one from Silver Sage that I picked up is primarily just a novelty wine. It’s called the “The Flame” and while you can’t see it from the above picture, the wine comes with a red pepper inside the bottle. It’s HOT! as in spicy hot. The wine has a bit of sweetness as well, but mostly it’s very hot. Here in the southwest, this wine will go over pretty well. I’m surprised I have seen this sort of thing before. Definitely have this one at the end of any tasting. It’ll kill whatever’s in your mouth.

There were so many others I visited, and I’m sure I’ll revisit these again as I pop them open one of these days, so stay tuned.

Okanagan Wines

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

WBW #13 - wine & chocolate


Well, I must admit I really didn’t have time to arrange for a cake for this month’s WBW. The request was to pair up wine with some chocolate cake. Hmm, well, and I’m not much of a chocolate cake eater in general, so I’ve bent the rules and simply enjoyed the kind of chocolate I like.

My chocolate of choice, and one I usually have a ready supply of, is some Belgian chocolate by NewTree called Vigor. It’s chocolate made with coffee – what could be better!? Today in honor of WBW#13, I paired it up with some Taylor’s Tawny Port. Considering I’d never tried these together before, I must say they paired excellently. After the fact while linking to the Taylor’s web site, I see they recommend this port with ‘dishes made with coffee’. Coffee-infused chocolate – even better!

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about | ratings images courtey of Jason Lewis