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Hanging Out In Lou’s Tasting Room

January 14, 2014 Leave a comment

This past Sunday afternoon Lou and I gathered in his tasting room just outside of his wine cellar.  There was no particular theme for the afternoon but I did think the mini-flight of 2002 Auslese would be good fun for him.  So I brown bagged those three half-bottles.  We started with the 2012 Hermann, J. Wiemer, Riesling Dry to acclimate our palates.  Lou had recently enjoyed a glass while dining out so a bottle naturally found its way into his cellar.  This was a well-made distinctive Riesling.  I lost the battle drawing the cork from the 2002 Emrich-Schönleber, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Auslese.  I had to dig it out with the screw and after clearing a passage for the wine a large chunk of cork remained impossibly bonded to the inside of the neck, it had never budged despite my heavy-handed approach.  The wine itself was full of cider flavor showing old notes beyond full maturity that were a little off-putting for me.  Much better and in retrospect clearly Scheurebe (or should I write not Riesling) was the 2002 Weingut Ed. Weegmüller, Haardter Mandelring, Scheurebe Auslese.  Lively, viscous, complex, and still on the upslope.  Definitely worth buying.  The 2002 Weingut Ed. Weegmüller, Haardter Herzog, Riesling Auslese was really good too.  There was a tension between youth and maturity with Lou particularly liking the tart finish.  This was less overt the the Scheurebe, taking more time to open up and actually drank well on the second night.

Our switch to red wine was foiled by a badly corked half-bottle of 1998 Brigaldara, Amarone dell Valpolicella Classico.  Shame.  Fortunately the 2005 Pax, Syrah, Castelli-Knight Ranch was coming into its own in the decanter.  It always sported a great nose but at first the flavors were a touch austere but this perfectly matched the black fruit and drying tannins.  Jenn and I tried it again several hours later when it had come together by taking on a little flesh and a racy quality.  I think this should be cellared more.  What I particularly liked about all of the wines we tried is that they each presented aromas and flavors I do not encounter on a daily basis.  Curious wines for a Sunday afternoon!

Lou1

2012 Hermann, J. Wiemer, Riesling, Dry, Finger Lakes
This wine is 100% Riesling.  Alcohol 12%.  There was moderate, lively ripeness to the flavors with notes of stones.  Clearly new world it remained lively on the tongue.  There were chalk notes and a refreshing aftertaste.  On its own the touch of sweetness to the fruit is evident as well as grapefruit notes.  ** Now-2015.

Lou2

2002 Emrich-Schönleber, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Auslese, Nahe – $25 (375 mL)
Imported by Chapin Cellars.  Alcohol 9.5%.  The color was a medium amber.  The nose bore older aromas, cider, and hints of plain oldness.  In the mouth there were definite flavors of apple cider.  Due to less viscosity and residual sugar the acidity showed better.  Rather advanced and not too exciting.  * Now.

Lou3

2002 Weingut Ed. Weegmüller, Haardter Mandelring, Scheurebe Auslese, Pflaz – $29 (375 mL)
Imported by Terry Theise.  Alcohol 9%.  The color was a medium to dark lively yellow.  There was a good nose of peach and nectarine with fresh aromas.  In the mouth were stone fruits marmalade, viscosity, and some grip.  The acidity was balanced and integrated.  Towards the finish the wine became fresh with levity, complexity and gentleness.  On the second night there was a bit more apricot note, good weight, and a touch of salty flavor.  This is drinking well nose.  ****  Now-2024.

Lou4

2002 Weingut Ed. Weegmüller, Haardter Herzog, Riesling Auslese, Pfalz – $28 (375 mL)
Imported by Terry Theise.  Alcohol 8%.  This was amber in color and actually the darkness.  There was a very aromatic nose of marmalade.  In the mouth there was brighter acidity, a little wood note, and mature flavors.  It still had some freshness of youth.  There was some residual sugar with good viscosity.  It was tart in the finish with a tangy aftertaste.  A nice wine.  **** Now-2020.

Lou5

2005 Pax, Syrah, Castelli-Knight Ranch, Russian River Valley
Alcohol 14.9%.  There was a good nose with fresh smoke aromas.  The wine had a salty entry with pencil lead mixing with black fruit and drying tannins.  It was a little austere at first but I thought this matched the black fruit and tannins.  There was a core of dried herbs and a little liquor heat in the finish.  With air the stones and watering acidity was matched by more flesh and a racy component.  ***(*) Now-2020.

Lou6

Drinks in New York City

December 11, 2012 Leave a comment

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We lucked out this trip and were able to get a personally recommend babysitter to watch Lorelei one evening.  Once Lorelei and the babysitter were settled in we hoofed it up to Saxon + Parole for dinner.  You may recall that just over one year ago we joined William for Lorelei’s first dinner in the city which you may read about here.  Once again Jenn started off with the Celery Gimlet which she loves so much.  I opted for the Manhattan on tap.  Having read about the Negroni on tap at The Thomas in Napa I just had to give this local fixture a pull.  The base is Parole Whiskey which when tried neat smells destined for a Manhattan.  It is served in their Cocktail Service presentation which features a cocktail glass accompanied by a second round held in mini decanter packed in fine ice, garnish, and real Maraschino cherries.

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William selected a range of dishes for dinner and after I perused the wine list I decided to turn our wine selection over to Sommelier Chris McPherson.  It took Chris only a few moments to recall having met Jenn and I one year prior and without pause for breath, he then recalled the bottle of Moss Wood he recommended as well as the other wines we drank.  Throughly impressed I knew we were in for some interesting wine.

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Chris returned with a decanter of 2010 Demuth Kemos, Syrah, Bei Ranch, Sonoma Coast.  Chris has visited Demuth Kemos which is a very small winery run by two guys Eric Demuth and Peter Kemos.  Only one barrel of the Syrah from Bei Ranch was produced.  The vineyards are located on a ridgeline at 1600 feet on rocky soils.  The fruit is hand harvested, fermented with indigenous yeasts, the must is manipulated by hand, and it is basket pressed into French oak barrels.  Our first glasses from the decanter were singing with black and blue fruit aromas which were floral and finely textured.  The delight continued in the mouth where the focused flavors were lively from perfectly integrated acidity…just really well done cooler Syrah.  It was well liked all around.  I should like to try more of their wines.

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Energized by this bottle we asked Chris for something different but just as good and unique.  Chris returned with a decanter of 2009 Marc Sorrel, Hermitage imported by JAO Wine Imports.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 1.8 hectares of vineyards at Le Meal (planted in 1928), Le Bessards (planted in 1987), and Les Plantiers (planted in 1970).  He uses minimal applications in the vineyards and works them by horse where there is space.  The fruit is fermented with inoculated yeasts in open wood and stainless steel vats for 15 days.  The must is punched by machine.  After fermentation this base Hermitage is aged 16-20 months in 5-6 year old casks.  This bottle was quite easy to drink but clearly young and destined to develop for a few decades.  There were pure flavors of blue and black fruit, minerals, cool acidity, and elegance.  It is a beautiful wine that really needs several more years in the cellar.  At this point it does not reveal as much as the Demuth Kemos.

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By the time we finished dinner, Saxon + Parole was filled with more people, the rock-influenced music still audible over the increased buzz.  We had a little bit of time left so we walked down to The Daily for Jenn’s first visit.  I really like this bar and have been fortunate to have drinks here several times.  We sat in the back booth where I opted for a cocktail made by the deft Nacho and Jenn sprung for a dessert wine.  Sommelier Erin Scala quickly returned with a glass of the 1985 Toro Albala, Pedro Ximenes, Gran Reserva for Jenn.  Not as rich as I recalled this glass was packed full of spices and flavors delivered with the most viscosity I have experienced in a wine.  After a brief chat with Erin we had minutes left to relieve our babysitter.  So down the little red lane our drinks went.  During our walk back Jenn commented that the evening felt as if it were just beginning.  Indeed four hours had flown by for everything experienced was in the right moderation.  We normally would have bid farewell to William but this was an extended trip.  We were about to spend the weekend together in historic Tuxedo Park.

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Buying Wine in Manhattan

December 10, 2012 Leave a comment

My four year old daughter is quick to point out to her friends that we when we visit New York City we stay in Manhattan. In the span of one year she has become enamored with the city for its hotel stays, the constant streaming of people, the shops, the restaurants, our friend William, and most recently Macy’s Santaland. On our most recent trip we were able to balance all of our interests which meant I managed to visit two wine shops. During an earlier visit I discovered Despana Vinos & Mas at Broome and Lafayette Streets. You may read about an earlier visit here. Located just a few blocks from our hotel not only is it stocked full of Spanish wines I have never tried but it is engagingly managed by Veronica Stoler.

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I like lists so here are the wines Veronica recommended, in no particular order.

  • 2010 Casa Castillo, El Molar, Jumilla
  • 2007 Casa Castillo, Valtosca, Jumilla
  • 2009 Bodegas Y Vinedos Ortega Ezquerro, Soligamar, Rioja
  • 2009 Castillo de Jumilla, Monastrell, Jumilla
  • 2011 Monasterio de Corias, Seis Octavos, Asturias
  • NV Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, Clos Amador, Brut Delicat, Cava
  • NV Bohigas, Rosado, Cava
  • 2010 Bodegas Traslascuestas, Roble, Ribera del Duero
  • 2010 Bodegas Vinatigo, Tinto, Ycoden Daute Isora
  • 2011 Bodegas Leceranas, Monte La Sarda, Tierra del Bajoa Aragon

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I had never visited nor ordered a bottle of wine (I live in Maryland so no shipping) from Chambers Street Wines but have long wanted to visit the store. I typically read their excellent newsletters then wish I could ship to my house in Maryland. On this trip we located a nearby toy store for my daughter. While she searched for the particular doll she wanted I picked up a few cases of wine. I set a limit of two cases, walked out with two and a half cases, and seriously considered buying much more. After all, we would eventually drink it all and with the holidays approaching it will be fun to open a selection of wines to taste by a roaring fire.

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Here are selections which Jamie Wolf, partner at Chambers Street Wines, helped select for me.

  • 2009 Fattorie Romeo del Castello, Allegracore, Etna Rosso
  • 2007 Ocone, Apollo, Aglianico del Taburno
  • 2011 Giuseppe Apicella, Piedirosso, Colli di Salerno
  • 2011 Perrini, Negroamaro, Salento
  • 2009 Bodegas Monje, Tradicional, Tacoronte Acentejo
  • 2011 Natalino Del Prete, Nataly, Primitivo, Salento
  • 2009 Le petit Domaine de Gimois, Cuvee Rouge Fruit, VdT
  • 2010 Camaretas, Malpais, Fronton de Oro, Gran Canaria
  • 2010 Pisano Danila, Rossese di Dolceacqua
  • 2006 Domaine Hauvette, Le Roucas, Les Baux de Provence
  • 2005 Chateau Ste Anne, Bandol
  • 2010 Robert & Bernard Plageoles, Braucol

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Despite the diverse selections both at Chambers Street Wines and MacArthur Beverages I only saw a small selection of familiar bottles. This is why I considered filling up our car with wine, for I am always curious to try new wine. But the reality is that we will be back up in a number of months so I can leave with another few cases of wine.

  • 2006 I Botri di Ghiaccio Forte, Bigna I Botri, Scansano
  • 2011 Julien Guillot, Clos des Vignes du Maynes, Cuvee 910, Macon-Cruzille
  • 2011 La Clarine Farm, Mourvedre, Cedarville, Sierra Foothills
  • 2011 La Clarine Farm, Mourvedre, Sumu Kaw, Sierra Foothills
  • 2011 Le Bout du Monde, Hop’la, Cotes du Roussillon
  • 2010 Mas Foraster, Trepat, Conca de Barbera
  • 2011 Bernabeleva, Camino de Navaherreros, Madrid
  • 2011 Pierre Gonon, Les Iles Feray, VdP de L’Ardeche
  • 1996 Oddero, Barolo
  • 1974 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco
  • 1988 Chateau Doisy-Vedrines, Sauternes
  • 2010 Valdibella, Acamante, Perricone, Sicily
  • 2011 Domaine Guion, Cuvee Domaine, Bourgueil
  • 2010 Aimone Giobatta Vio, Rossese di Albenga, Riviera Ligure di Ponente
  • 2011 Domaine Clos du Rouge Gorge, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes Catalanes

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I have lately been amazed by the amount of good and affordable wine which is available. I have seen this reflected in other wine blogs and certainly in mine where we periodically like everything we drank that week. I cannot wait to see what I come across in this set! So please check back over the next two months as I taste through these purchases.

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We Take A Break From Continental Europe

September 22, 2011 1 comment

Vineyard in Valle de Guadalupe, LA Cetto, Image by eltono (flickr)

I always find it fun to shake things up and drink outside of our usual regions.  I was looking forward to the L.A. Cetto from Mexico but this was not a good wine.  It had been years since I drank one of their wines  but what I do remember is that they were enjoyable.  At this price point it is worth trying a different selection.  The Camberley is a decent value but somewhat uninteresting.  The Yves Leccia from Corsica is certainly worth a try if you have never drunk a Corsican wine but it is a bit over priced.  The big surprise was the Dr. Konstantin Frank Chardonnay from New York!  This is a cool climate Chardonnay that might appeal to those willing to venture away from bigger styles.  At $15 it is a strong value and a wine that everyone should try.

A Vineyard In Corsica, Image by there2roam (flickr)

The L.A. Cetto was purchased for $12 at The Wine Cellar/Exxon gas station in Ocean City, MD.  The Yves Leccia is imported by Kermit Lynch and purchased for $20 at MacArthurs.  The Camberley Prohibition was purchased for $15-$20 at MacArthur’s.  The Dr. Konstantin Frank was purchased for $15 at Wegmans in Fairfax, VA.

2008 L.A. Cetto, Petit Sirah, Baja California
This wine is 100% Petit Sirah that was aged for six months in French barriques.  Unfortunately, not so good.  Very forward, jammy, overtly fruity wine.  I could not drink it but Jenn enjoyed a glass. * Now.

2009 Domaine d’E Croce (Yves Leccia), Cuvee YL, Corsica
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Nielluciu that was fermented and aged for 12 months in stainless steel.  This has pine-sol notes of pine and lemon to the tooty-fruity red aromas.  In the mouth the hard red flavors had some texture in this light to medium-bodied wine.  There are some blue fruits that mix with hints of minerals as the wine becomes lifted.  Fine+ tannins come out in the finish and aftertaste. ** Now-2015.

2006 Camberley, Prohibition, Stellenbosch
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for 28 months.  Of the 14 barrels that were aged, four were used for the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and the remaining 10 for the Prohibition.  This was dark with a nose of eucalyptus and graphite.  In the mouth the dark, sour fruits mixed with tart acidity and continued into the dark, steely aftertaste.  There were minimal tannins.  Needs more verve. ** Now.

2008 Dr. Konstantin Frank, Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, Finger Lakes
This is 100% Chardonnay where a portion of free-run juice was fermented in French oak barrels with the rest in stainless steel vats.  It was aged for ten months in barrel.  On the second night there was a nice, lifted nose of rich fruit.  In the mouth the medium weight fruit had a soft attack followed by flinty qualities.  The fruit was apple-like with some heft, a bit of sweet spice, and green apple-like acidity.  Actually quite pleasing. *** Now.

Dr. Konstantin Frank Vineyard, Image by bobindrums (flickr)

East Coast Cabernet Franc

I bought these three selections from Wegman’s in Fairfax, Virginia for $20-$22 per bottle.  I was curious to try some Virginian wine  so as to see how things are shaping up.  I randomly grabbed the two bottles from Virginia and I specifically picked the New York wine.  Hermann J. Wiemer is a famous producer in the Finger Lakes.  I opted to start with his Cabernet Franc instead of his Rieslings so as to compare against the other two bottles.

Jenn and I enjoyed the Wiemer Cabernet Franc and I do recommend it.  The two from Virginia were quite off putting.  Lou was coming over the next night so I decided to save the Virginian wine so that he could try them.  Jenn asked if that was wise, “Why serve Lou bad wine?”  I assured her that Lou would appreciate the learning experience.  When he showed up we openly declared the state of the wines.  True to his curiosity, Lou was ready to try them for educational purposes.  After a few exclamations during his tasting he calmly put his wine glass and the bottles in the kitchen before returning to the table.

2007 Hermann J. Wiemer, Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes, New York
This wine had a light, reddish nose.  This light+ bodied wine had dusty, Cabernet Franc flavors, some herbs, and good brighter red fruit.  There were herbed, red fruits in the finish along with some watering acidity.  There is a filling aftertaste.  It is an easy to drink wine and clearly well made.  ** Now.

2007 Old House Vineyards, Cabernet Franc de Maison, Virginia
This was not so good and almost drinkable for a few minutes after opening.  Then there was chemical weirdness.  Lou exclaimed, “And this is the better bottle!”  Not Rated.

2008 Philip Carter, Cabernet Franc, Virginia
This had double the chemical weirdness right from the bottle.  Not Rated.