Monday, November 29, 2010


This week is dedicated to one of my favorite English writers....Charles Dickens. (1812-1870)
Some of my favorite novels include:
* A Tale of Two Cities
* Great Expectations
* Little Dorrit
* David Copperfield
* A Christmas Carol

- Champagne is one of the elegant extras in life.

-Fan the flame of hilarity with the wing of friendship, and pass the rosy wine.
The Old Curiosity Shop (1841)

-I cannot, with such perception as I have of what is reasonable, go along with those excellent persons in confounding the use of anything with its abuse, or in denying any man the cheerful enjoyment of a glass of wine, or beer or spirits and water, because his neighbor is prone to make a beast of himself by irrational excess in those things.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wine Barn Holiday Wine Tasting Part 1

Last Saturday I went to Wine Barn's third annual holiday wine tasting. The Wine Barn is known for selling their wine at wholesale prices. Their mantra is, "If it's not great, we don't sell it." The wine barn also stores its wine properly by having a temperature controlled facility.

The holiday event had 200 wines to taste. The event also had food samples including: Charcuterie, Cheese, bread, and gelato. I thought the event was done well. They put up three big tents and all the wine tables were located under the tents.

Below are some pictures of my favorite wines that I tasted.

The picture above shows the 2008 Duckhorn "Decoy" Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. To the right of that is the 2009 Prisoner Zinfandel blend. For the price, the Decoy Cabernet is pretty good. It is made by Duckhorn vineyards as a more price friendly wine. The Decoy Cabernet received 91 points from Robert Whitley of Wine Review Online. Meanwhile, the Decoy Zinfandel has received 91 points from Wine & Spirits and 92 points from Wine Spectator.
The Prisoner is a zinfandel blend and includes: 51% Zinfandel, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Syrah, 7% Petite Sirah, 3% Charbono, 1% Grenache, and 1% Malbec.

The picture above shows three different wines from South Africa. These wines are all made off the Stellenbosch wine route. The first wine on the left is the Philosphers Stone made by Camberley. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.

The wine on the right is the Post House "Penny Black" blend. I really enjoyed this wine. It is a blend of Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet, and Petit Verdot. The 2007 vintage received 91 points from Wine Spectator.

I will post more of my favorite wines from the tasting later this weekend!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wine-Oh Academy: Sulfites

Most bottles carry the words "Contains Sulfites" on the label.

Why does it say that? It says this on the bottle, because sulfur dioxide is a natural component found in food. It grows naturally on the grapes. Sulfur dioxide can be good, because it prevents bacteria from growing in the food/wine.

Winemakers can also add more sulfites to the wine. The sulfites can help preserve the wine and keep it fresh longer. Many people have sulfite allergies. (similar to peanut allergies) There is an argument as to whether the sulfites cause headaches. Some say they do and many say they don't.

Most wines have sulfites in them. Organic wines do not have sulfites added. They still have the naturally occurring sulfites found on the grapes when growing.

The Code of Federal Regulations says: 27 CFR 4.32
Mandatory label information- Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco Products and Firearms
(e) Declaration of sulfites. There shall be stated on a front label, back label, strip label or neck label, the statement Contains sulfites or Contains (a) sulfiting agent(s) or a statement identifying the specific sulfiting agent where sulfur dioxide or a sulfiting agent is detected at a level of 10 or more parts per million, measured as total sulfur dioxide. The provisions of this paragraph shall apply to: (1) Any certificate of label approval issued on or after January 9, 1987; (2) Any wine bottled on or after July 9, 1987, regardless of the date of issuance of the certificate of label approval; and, (3) Any wine removed on or after January 9, 1988.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Turkey Day has arrived! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

I am thankful for many things including family, friends, and my blog readers. :)

I have some pictures of great wines that will pair well with Thanksgiving and holiday dinners.

First is a picture of the Elena Walch Gewurztraminer. This is a Gewurztraminer made by a Italian winemaker. It has a very floral nose and fruity taste. It would pair well with seafood and light salads.

Another good wine for the holiday season is a pinot noir. This Baileyana pinot noir can be purchased for $20 or under. It was nice and would go well with turkey or pork.

The Rex Hill Pinot Noir is also nice for under $20.

I enjoyed this Oyster Bay Chardonnay a couple years ago at Thanksgiving. It is very nice and from New Zealand. Also easy to open with the screw cap!

Finally, if you are looking for a more intense red wine for the holiday season, then grab a bottle of the Seghesio Aglianico. I enjoyed the 2006 vintage this past week. It has a dark purple and red color with scents of cinnamon spice. It has a warm and rounded taste with soft tannins. I paired this wine with a Blue Stilton from England.

Have a great holiday and always enjoy fabulous wines.







Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wine Quotes

For my blog, I am going to dedicate my thanks this year to those that helped end prohibition in this country. (I have been watching too much Boardwalk Empire)

I know I know....prohibition was back in the 1920's. If prohibition was still in place, then American would not have great wines from California. (at least not being made legally)

So in honor of the end of prohibition....I present some quotes dealing with prohibition of alcohol.

The prohibition law, written for weaklings and derelicts,
has divided the nation, like Gaul, into three parts --
wets, drys, and hyprocrites.
- Florence Sabin ( 1871-1953) American Medical Scientist

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.

-Albert Einstein

The new puritans have been highly successful. All of the preconditions for new prohibitions on alcohol and tobacco are in place. ... Indeed, the future agenda of the federal government has already been established to outlaw alcohol and tobacco in the near future. ... If current trends persist, America will be moving toward stricter prohibitions, greater restrictions, and more centralized control over consumption. This represents an erosion of liberty at its most fundamental level.
-Mark Thornton (American Economist)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Wine News

Check out the wine news from the past week. Click the article names to be sent to that story.
Remember you only have four days until Turkey day!! Don't forget to buy some great wine to pair with your meal. I will include some articles suggesting holiday wines. I have to suggest a Sauvignon Blanc or a Rosè to drink with appetizers/salad and then a more robust Pinot Noir or Zinfandel to pair with the Turkey. I am not a huge Pinot Noir fan, but it does pair well with the turkey. I will most likely open a Zinfandel that has some spice to it. I'll put some of my favorites up tomorrow.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wine Spectator Top 100 2010

Wine Spectator has videos of the top 10 wines on its website. Make sure to check it out.

1) Saxum - James Berry Vineyard
Paso Robles 2007
98 Points $67

I am very excited a winemaker from Paso Robles is being recognized this year. I love this area for wine. It is often overlooked but not this year!!

2) Two Hands Shiraz Bella's Garden
Barossa Valley 2008
94 points $55

No Napa Cabs in the top 3 this year....I kinda like it. Cabs aren't the only great wines being made. Although 4 and 5 are Napa Cabs lol.

7) Schild Shiraz 2008 from Australia for only $20 !!!! I will have to find this.

I like that #9 was from Portugal and #10 was a Chateauneuf-du-Pape White 2009 from France. The picture of the vineyard on the side of this blog is from a vineyard in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape region. :)

This year has a well rounded top 10 with wines from California, Australia, Portugal, France and Italy.

The rest of the top 100 wines will be released this Tuesday.
CLICK HERE to see the videos.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dutch Henry Wine Tasting

Last weekend Gary Koehler was in town with Dutch Henry wines. Gary helps promote and run Dutch Henry Winery.

This past summer we visited Dutch Henry Winery and even had the chance to barrel taste in the caves with Gary.

Gary sings and plays the guitar. He has played/opened for many nationally known artists including the Doobie Brothers, Jerry Garcia and Michael McDonald. Below is a picture of Gary with Leigh, Shirley, and Maxine at Petty's gourmet food store.

We really enjoyed tasting all the wines and seeing Gary in Florida! After pouring we had an after party where he played guitar and sang for the group. It was a really nice evening and we hope to have him back in Florida sometime in the future. We also hope to make it back out to Dutch Henry Winery.

Click Here to visit the Winery Website.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010



I'm sure you have heard the words "harvest" and "vintage". You may have wondered about these two terms.

The word vintage originates from vendage, which is french for harvest. A 2008 vintage means the grapes were harvested in 2008. People will say a wine is "a good vintage" when the grapes come from conditions that made a good harvest.

What time is a good time to harvest? When does the winemaker know? Why do the dates of the harvest change each year?

The best time to harvest depends on different factors. The winemaker must go by chemical composition and taste. The winemaker must do this across the entire vineyard, not just a single area.

It all goes back to the levels of sugar and acidity in the grapes. These levels will affect the taste and thus the time for harvest.

It is much more complex than what I am explaining, but I'll leave that to the experts. Just understand that there are different measuring scales for the sugar and acidic levels. For example, the name for the sugar measuring scale in America is called Brix.

Once the winemaker determines the time for harvest, they must either harvest by machine or by hand. Harvesting by hand would allow the pickers to pick the best grapes and see the quality of the grapes at that exact moment. Of course for larger vineyards, a machine would do the work faster. I would think a disadvantage for machines would be the inclusion of more dirt and rocks. (maybe i'm wrong on this matter) I would still want workers checking the grapes picked from a machine so they could remove foreign particles.

Destemming is where the stems are removed from the grapes. This is normally done before crushing.

This is just a little bit on harvesting. There is much more to learn about it. If you wish to learn more please purchase the book Exploring Wine.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Thursday night I attended a wine pairing at Bacco Wine cafe. Bacco was celebrating its 10th anniversary and they paired all 5 courses with Starry Night and Bruce Wayne wines. Starry Night is also celebrating its 10th year as a winery. Bruce Walker, one of the winemakers of these wines, was in town to explain and answer questions.

There were seven wines paired with five courses. We started with two whites: 2008 Starry Night Sauvignon Blanc and 2007 Starry Night Chardonnay. I enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc because it had a crisp taste and was a great start to the evening.

The first red of the evening was a 2008 Bruce Wayne Pinot Noir and the grapes used were collected from two Russian River growers. Bruce Wayne wines are made by Bruce Walker and Wayne Hansen….thus Bruce Wayne.

The other reds included the 2007 Starry Night Lodi Zinfandel, 2008 Starry Night Petite Sirah, 2007 Starry Night Old Vine Zinfandel Nervo Statio, and 2007 Bruce Wayne “Briana’s Blend”.

The picture below is of Stephen opening the bottles and making jokes. :) He and Bruce poured most of the wine.

My favorite wine of the evening was the Petite Sirah. Starry Night produces their petite sirah from a small vineyard using 40-year-old vines. This wine is aged in both French and American oak and only 460 cases were produced.

The food that Bacco paired with these wines was great! They made osso bucco and it was super tasty. It paired great with the petite sirah and old vine zinfandel. I would recommend anyone visiting the area to try this restaurant.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wine-Oh Wine Quotes

When the wine goes in, strange things come out.
~Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, The Piccolomini, 1799

Bacchus has drowned more men than Neptune. ~Giuseppe Garibaldi (Italian military and political figure)

Saturday, November 13, 2010


This past summer we spent some time in Sonoma County. Our friend and wine rep, Stephen, helped set up a meeting with Bruce Walker. Bruce is one of the winemakers for Starry Night winery.
Check out the winery website by clicking here.

We met Bruce for lunch in downtown Healdsburg and then he took us to one of his Starry Night vineyards. We went to see the vineyard where the The Caboose and Nervo Station grapes are grown. I really enjoyed getting to meet and spend some time with Bruce. He possesses a large amount of wine business knowledge. Bruce used to be involved with the financial sector before he started making wine.

The Caboose vineyard actually has an old Caboose sitting at the top. The vineyard has a beautiful setting overlooking a valley. Here are some pictures from our visit to the vineyard.

Thanks again Bruce for taking us here and being such a hospitable host!! :) We enjoyed our bottle of Nervo Station Old Vine Zinfandel while sitting outside a cabin in Big Sur. We really enjoyed it and even some blue jays flew over to check it out.