Friday, March 30, 2012

Four Wines For Final Four Weekend!

One of my favorite sporting events begins this weekend - the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament. Of course the tournament has been going on for a while now, but is there anything more exciting than the final four, and ultimately, the NCAA championship? Not to me. And this year, I didn't fill out a grid, so I won't lose any money, and I can totally get into the games without worrying about "my teams".
I've been drinking mostly beer during the games, but for the final four, I'm upgrading to wine!
Here are four wines tasted recently that really impressed me. All are available at The Market, of course:
2010 Jermann Pinot Grigio - A Pinot Grigio that's totally refreshing and bursting with full bodied flavor, $23
2010 Neyers Carneros Chardonnay - this is a beautifully elegant Chardonnay, perfectly balanced with tropical fruit and toasty, buttery oak , $34
2009 Argyle Reserve Pinot Noir - dark cherry, raspberry and a hint of cinnamon. Great by itself or with a variety of foods. Excellent price! $26
2008 Baer Arctos - 58% Cabernet, 39% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. This red blend is right in my wheelhouse with lush black raspberry, cassis and plum. A dollop of chocolate reminds me of biting into the chocolate center of a cherry tootsie roll pop. $42
Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wines To Celebrate A New Baby!

My daughter Becky and her husband Paul had a new little bundle of joy born on March 11.  Kathryn was born 3 1/2 weeks early, so while we went to visit them in KC and help where we could, we didn't have time to celebrate since the baby was in the hospital for an extra 8 days.
Kathryn is home now and is doing just fine. We're home too, so I have plenty of time to think about what I'm bringing to KC on our next trip when we finally get to celebrate.
Here's a partial list:
Champagne: Tarlant Brut Translation, Rene Geoffroy Brut Rose'
White: 2009 Melville Verna's Chardonnay, 2007 Monnot Meursault, 2009 Zind Humbrect Clos Windsbuhl Pinot Gris, some dessert wine
Red: 2007 Keenan Cabernet, 2009 Gorman Evil Twin, 2009 Siduri Hawks View Pinot Noir
Beer: Scrimshaw Pilsner, Odell IPA, Odell 90 Shilling
Single Malt Scotch: Bowmore 12 Year, Glenmorangie Finealta
Too much?  I think not. There's nothing quite like a new baby in the family!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

What I Drank After My Grand Dog Swallowed A Sewing Needle!

We were dogsitting for my son's miniature bulldog (Brooklyn) for a couple of nights while he and his wife visited relatives in Baltimore. Not a big deal, right? At least it didn't appear to be a big deal until about 9:00 PM last night. We were planning on picking the kids up from the airport (of course the flight was delayed) around 11:15. Brooklyn was sleeping, Judy was sewing and I was slowly turning into a vegetable. And then it happened!  Judy drops her sewing needle, Brooklyn instantly wakes up thinking that there is food  on the floor, and she proceeds to SWALLOW THE SEWING NEEDLE! In case you didn't know, this is not a good thing. So, Judy takes Brooklyn to the emergency vet in Chesterfield and I end up going to the airport.
Long story short: the needle was removed from Brooklyn's stomach with a scope, she's fine, ready to do more damage, and Grandma, Grandpa, Mommy and Daddy are out several hundred dollars.
I get home around 12:15 and need a drink. I initially think "cheap vodka", but regain my senses and have a glass of 2009 Eric Kent Sarapo Chardonnay - $22 at The Market. This Chardonnay has a taste profile very similar to Rombauer with one difference - it's $10 cheaper! Chardonnay has always been a comfort wine for me. Trust me. I needed some comfort last night!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wine Ruts - They Happen!

I never get tired of drinking good wine. I do, however, tire of drinking certain types of wines from time to time. Maybe this happens to you as well. For example, I ALWAYS drink a California Cabernet with a good steak, especially a well marbled New York strip or rib eye. I needed to get out of my rut, so I decided on a 2009 Bramare Malbec from Paul Hobbs' Argentina operation. This is fantastic wine and it really paired beautifully with the steak. Why haven't I tried this before?  Rut.
I love Syrah. I love all of Syrah's diverse personalities, whether it is produced in France, Australia, California or Washington State. But this winter, for a couple of months, I totally lost my taste for Syrah. For some reason my palate craved something different, and gravitated toward the reds of Piedmont: Barbera, Barbaresco, Barolo and red blends. These wines are about as dissimilar from Syrah as can be, but, they served the purpose of getting me out of my rut. Now, I'm back to Syrah - and love it, but hopefully, I won't overdo it again.
So, if you love wine, but find you occasionally get yourself in a rut with a certain types of wine, whatever you do, DO NOT STOP DRINKING WINE! Mix it up a little, get out of your comfort zone. You will eventually get back to what put you in your rut, and appreciate it all the more.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How Long Should I Age My Wines?

I think it's really cool to have a full wine cellar. I would guess that most collectors feel the same way. Sometimes I don't even need to be drinking my wine to enjoy it. I just need to "be with" the wine and feel that special connection that exists between the collector and his wine.
This "condition" can create several problems: first, you might not be able to pay the mortgage because you're spending too much money on wine; second, you could be putting a strain on your marriage, because again, you're buying too much wine; lastly, some of that wine may be going bad because you're not drinking it fast enough, and yet, you keep buying more.
Most wine, especially domestic wine, should be consumed within 5 years of the vintage date on the bottle. Whites should be consumed even sooner than that.
Granted, there's something very special about 25 year old Bordeaux, or a big structured California Cabernet with some age on it. But how often are you going to have wines like this? A few times a year  maybe?
Now whatever you do, DON'T STOP BUYING WINE! That would not be a good thing for The Market. But, by all means, start drinking those older wines in your cellars, especially the whites and moderately priced reds. Hopefully you will not be disappointed by a wine that is past its prime drinking window.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Everyone Will Like This 92 Point Cabernet, Right?

Nope.  Hopefully that will never ever happen!
I love it when our customers form their own opinion about a wine, regardless of a professional wine critic's rating.
Sure, we're guilty of promoting wine based on ratings. Everyone does. Some customers only buy wines rated 90 or above. Some customers will only buy wines rated by Wine Spectator or Robert Parker. In the end though, we need to trust our own palates. Wine ratings after all are merely the subjective opinion of another human being. Sure, critics taste a lot more wine than most of us, but that doesn't mean they're always right. I've frequently seen two different critics rate the same wine with a variance of 8 or more points! How can that be? Aren't these professionals? It happens more often than you think.
Last week we poured the 2009 Edge Napa Cabernet by the glass, so quite a few customers had a chance to taste it. This wine got a 92 point rating from Wine Enthusiast, but our customers were split over whether they loved it or hated it. I couldn't have been happier. Our customers took a stand and the heck with the critics.
Of course we don't want our customers to get too independent. They should always listen to the opinions of their favorite Wine Market guru!  :)



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Great Wine and Rack of Lamb!

We don't have rack of lamb very often, so when we do, I don't skimp on the wine.
Sunday was a special day. Not only were we having the rack, we spent the day with my son Michael and his wife Dani, which doesn't happen very often given our crazy work schedules.
We started the day at one of the local wineries. It was okay.
And now, on to the meal: rack of lamb perfectly seasoned, a homemade risotto and steamed, lightly seasoned asparagus.
I dipped into my cellar to select two of my all time favorite wines with lamb - Bordeaux and Chateauneuf du Pape. I really don't know which I enjoyed more. They were both superb.
2005 Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf du Pape Vielles Vignes
2004 Lucia St. Emilion Bordeaux
Now that's a good day!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

"Old World" vs. "New World" Wines

Those of us in the industry throw around these terms frequently, but does the average wine consumer know what the heck we're talking about?  I'm not sure about that. So here's a quick primer. There are loads of great articles and books out there that explain the differences in depth if you're interested.
There are exceptions, of course, but Old and New World countries use many of the same grapes. White grapes would be Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, and Pinot Gris (Grigio).  Red grapes would include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah (Shiraz), Malbec and Pinot Noir.
Old World Countries: France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal.
New World Countries: US, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile.
Old World wine characteristics: more elegant, more structured, less bold, less fruit forward, more acidic, higher minerality, lower alcohol and more "earthiness". Earthiness is typically related to the climate and soil (terroir) of the region, although the winemaking technique has an influence too.
New World wine characteristics: bigger bolder wines, more fruit forward, less acidic, higher alcohol and less minerality and earth qualities.
Of course nothing is "hard and fast" in the world of wine. We always see Old World winemakers dabbling with making their wines in a "New World" style, and the same goes for New World winemakers trying to go "Old World".
Old World wines tend to pair better with most foods whereas New World wines are more enjoyable all by themselves. I  prefer Old World wines with my meals, but, as usual, we have exceptions. Nothing goes better with a New York strip or rib eye than a big, bold Napa Cabernet!