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Missing Vino Volo at Newark Airport – Oeno is Just Not It

September 11, 2015 7 comments

Don’t know if you can figure out from the title, but yes, this will be a rant. There were a few rants in this blog before (I even have a dedicated category for that) – and every time I contemplate the same question – “should I do it or not”. The problem with the rant is that while it is often a quick “feel good” solution for the “rantee”, it can theoretically have some consequences for the object of rant. But outside of the letting the steam to blow off from a bad experience, I see the rant as a criticism, and criticism is a good thing – it identifies problems which can be fixed (or not, of course). Okay, let me not making this post a rant about rant – let’s proceed to our subject.

I’m regularly traveling for business for the long time. As previously reported in this blog, the situation with food significantly improved at most of the US airports. And not only with food, but with wine as well – on a multiple occasions I wrote happy posts about Vino Volo stores available in many airports – including the one at Newark Airport in New Jersey (here is the link). At Vino Volo, you can always expect to find an interesting wine flight at a reasonable price, especially considering the airport location, and a tasty and thoughtful bite of food.

Now, as it happened last year, Vino Volo was kicked out of the Terminal C, and replaced by the restaurant called Oeno Wine Bar. Oeno tried to replicate Vino Volo’s model by offering wine flights as well as wine by the glass and by the bottle, and of course, food to go with it. So far so good, right?

First thing as you walk into Oeno is that nobody greets you. Okay, quite common at the airport. Next, you have to find the table, sit yourself, and start navigating the iPad on the stand which crowns every table at the restaurant. The iPad presents all the food and wine, grouped in the number of categories. top menu at Oeno

Now, as you try to dig into the wines, there are a few surprises which one runs into. First of all, the prices – there are 6 wine flights offered, priced either at $36 or $54 – most of the Vino Volo flights were priced under $25, so $54 for the tasting flight, seriously? The prices for the glass of wine range from $10 going into the $40s (not bad for the airport, right? – $40+ for a glass of wine on the go). But – for me, an oenophile who was served by Vino Volo very amicably, the biggest gripe is the full lack of information. Despite the fact that you have in front of you an iPad, an electronic device which allows to have pretty much an unlimited amount of information for each and every item offered, Oeno menu provides literally no relevant information. It seems that the only reason to offer the menus on the iPads is to make it easy to charge the customers in dollars or in frequent flyer currency – points/miles. Nobody cares also to provide a service with that, make sure people actually like what you are offering (yes, I mean “information” by the service).

Let me advance my gripe further. Considering complete lack of information, I decided to at least order something inexpensive, so I went with Jelu Pinot Noir, at $10.50 per glass. I couldn’t figure it out where the wine was from, as no information was available. After tasting something pretty much undrinakble – hot, unbalanced, biting wine – I had to look it up. It appears that this was a Pinot Noir from Argentina, and it also appears the the whole bottle cost as much in retail as I paid for the glass. Had I known that this was a Pinot Noir from Argentina, I would simply avoid ordering that – you can hardly go wrong with Malbec from Argentina at any price level, but when it comes to Pinot Noir, you better know the wine and/or producer.

Smoked salmon Panini

Leaving the wine aside (as I did with my glass), the food was also marginally successful. I ordered a Smoked Salmon Panini. While I understand that Panini is a pressed sandwich, I didn’t expect that smoked salmon panini would be put under a hot press. Ever had hot smoked salmon? This is not the most delicious food in the world, as the heat accentuates the saltiness of the salmon, and really makes it marginally enjoyable. Never mind the price of $14.25 – for that amount of money, you can have 2 or even 3 excellent sandwiches in most of the European airports…

The iPad system at Oeno is really focused on getting money or miles (the points) out of you, at the same time providing as little service as possible, as you  do everything on that iPad (you have to place an order and pay before anything gets to your table). To add insult to the injury, the tip of 20% is added to your payment at the time of the order (for some reason it is called “check-out”, even it is the first thing you have to do to get your food). The only service you get is your food placed in front of you, but nevertheless, you are paying as you are at a high end restaurant with great service.

And the last thing which I found extremely annoying: the push to get you to use your frequent flyer miles. If you travel enough, I’m sure you know that all those “rewards points” don’t come very easily, with the airlines constantly looking for the ways to reduce your frequent flyer benefits. Now, every item on the menu has price both in dollars and in miles. For the glass of Prosecco, you could elect to pay $14.10, or use 2,020 miles. As long as you don’t analyze the numbers, and have millions of frequent flyer miles in your account, you probably don’t care about “just 2000” miles. Now, think about this: if you have no status with United, to earn the same 2000 miles, you have to buy a $400+ ticket (it should be $400 before taxes and fees), as you are only getting 5 miles per dollar on United. If you are short 2,000 miles for your award ticket, you can buy them from United, at a measly price of $70 – but here you are, offered to spend that same 2,000 miles on a glass of bubbly instead of $14. And when you refuse to do so, you are asked to fill out a survey to explain why did you refuse the offer to pay with miles. Don’t know about you, but I find this preposterous.

Okay, let’s end this Friday rant. If you  travel through Newark airport, and especially if you are an oenophile, I have only one recommendation for you – avoid Oeno. Unless someone at Oeno wakes up and makes changes to transform it into really a desirable destination, as Vino Volo was. Until then, take your hard earned money elsewhere, and – Vino Volo, I miss you very much… Cheers!

Oeno Wine Bar
Newark Liberty International Airport
Terminal C
Gates 70-89

Oeno Wine Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vino Volo Experience – Mostly a Rant

December 9, 2014 14 comments

Rant? Vino Volo? Really? There must be something wrong with this picture, right?

Yes, on a number of occasions I confessed my love to the Vino Volo wine sanctuaries at the US airports. This time, I was yet again very happy that the ride to the Newark airport in New Jersey was quick and uneventful, and I had enough time to visit Vino Volo. In case you are not familiar with the Vino Volo concept, please take a look here.

Now, I don’t know how the Vino Volo stores are operating. I would assume that the local stores have some freedom to select the wines, based on their locality and, of course, their clientele. It is quite expected that the Vino Volo’s selection at the Seattle airport will be slated towards Washington wines, and San Francisco location will be California-heavy, and the store in Austin will have a flight or a few of the Texas wines. In the Newark store, there was nothing local – no New Jersey, no New York wines. There were a few of the “international delights” and few of the “value delight” flights – none of them generated any excitement. Then I saw a Sommelier Selection flight – two wines at $25, both wines supposedly high end.

To be entirely honest, first I made the mistake I make quite often when it comes to the wine lists – I don’t pay attention to the small details – as an example, one extra word in the name can take the wine from the first growth to the second label. So below is what I thought was in the flight (yep, I was hoping for the coveted Opus One):

Opus OneWell, there was no Opus One in the flight – instead, it was an Opus One Overture (see, one extra word!):

Overture by Opus OneOkay, fine. You don’t expect me to rant about my own mistake, do you? Of course not. Let’s continue.

The flight arrived, and it looked like this:

Vino Volo Sommelier flight winesJust so you can actually read the “official” description, here is the same – without the glasses:

Vino Volo Sommelier flightOkay, so I tasted the first wine, which was a non-vintage second label from Opus One, supposedly made with the surplus Cabernet Sauvignon grapes which were disqualified from the Opus One production. A bit thin, nice profile with touch of cassis, a bit green but palatable (but with the expectation of a lot more at the price  of $145). While I understand that it is a non-vintage, I would assume that it is a young wine, and if it anything like the other top Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon wines, it should be decanted to show best. Okay, let’s put it aside and let it breath, and let’s try the second wine, shall we?

Barolo from 2010. I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider 4 years old Barolo drinkable, unless it will spend good 3-4 hours in the decanter. I didn’t see a decanter at the bar, so I must assume that it was poured straight from the bottle. But even before that, if you want to really showcase the sommelier-selected wines, why would you put Barolo next to Cabernet Sauvignon? Wouldn’t you go to the Super Tuscan as the very least, showing California versus Italy? Okay, never mind all that, the proof is in the pudding, taste, right? Swirl, sip – there was nothing remotely reminiscent of Barolo in this wine – well, at least within my experience with Barolo and my expectation with “king of wines”. Very limited fruit expression, herbal nose, some tannins, very tart. Had it been decanted for the 3-4 hours, it would probably be a totally different experience – and should the folks, the professionals at Vino Volo known better?

Well, may be it was a root day after all. Or not. But there you have it, my friends – my first unsuccessful experience at Vino Volo. Let’s hope it was the last. Cheers!

P.S.  I have my “formal” tasting notes – but I’m withholding them as I don’t think they will be of any use here.

P.P.S. If anyone had the 2010 Mauro Veglio Barolo and wants to say I have no idea what I’m talking about, please be my guest – your feedback will be greatly appreciated…

Pinot Noir On The Go – At Vino Volo in Newark Airport

May 18, 2014 8 comments

This is not the first tine I write about Vino Volo wine bar (you can find previous posts here). Just in case you are not familiar with Vino Volo, it is a great chain of the wine bars, offering all the wine lovers a refuge, alleviating dreadful and tiresome airport travel experience. Vino Volo is the place where you can sit down and enjoy a glass of good wine, or a tasting flight, at the reasonable price, accompanied by a tasty bite of food – a sandwich, olives, a little cheese platter and more.

Actually, this was my first time at Vino Volo wine bar at Newark airport. Generally, I’m flying in the morning, way before Vino Volo would be open, so I walked past the restaurant many times, only promising myself to hopefully come back at some point. This time, on the way to California, I had an early afternoon flight, so Vino Volo sounded like a perfect late lunch option.

As Vino Volo wine bars located in the different airports throughout the country, the wine offerings very often include local wines. You can expect to have an opportunity taste Texas wines while in Austin, and Virginia wines while in Washington, and Oregon wines in Portland. Typical selection on the Vino Volo wine menu would include 6-8 different wine flights, white, rose and reds. While Vino Volo in Newark didn’t offer any New Jersey wines (not sure I’m courageous enough even if they would), it was not easy to make a decision. Somehow, I settled on the Pinot Noir flight, which consisted three wines from Germany, Oregon and California. While I’m well familiar with Oregon and California Pinot Noirs, I have very limited (and until now, unsuccessful) exposure to the German Pinot Noirs – however, so many bloggers had being raving lately about German Pinot Noir wines, that I simply had to try it.

Pinot Noir tasting Flight at Vino Volo

Pinot Noir tasting Flight at Vino VoloHere are my notes:

2012 Borell-Diehl Pinot Noir Estate, Germany

Color: Garnet
Nose: Blackberries, red fruit, clean, hint of minerality
Palate: Fresh, clean, bright acidity, very good balance, herbs, nice red fruit.
Verdict: Perfectly worked with my warm Tuscan chicken sandwich, great pairing. Overall very nice, food friendly wine. Drinkability: 7+

2009 Maysara Pinot Noir, McMinniville AVA, Oregon

Color: Ruby
Nose: Mocha, herbs, lavender, hint of root beer (I can’t believe I would say it, but Kirsten The Armchair Sommelier was right!)
Palate: Complex, delicious, nice acidity, good structure and backbone
Verdict: Also worked perfectly with the warm Tuscan chicken sandwich, very good wine overall. Drinkability: 8-

2011 Stephen Ross Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, California

Color: Ruby
Nose: Concentrated, dark chocolate, pencil shavings, smoke, roasted plums
Palate: open fruit, bright, perfect balance, medium-long finish.
Verdict: didn’t work with the sandwich, but was delicious by itself. Drinkability: 8

There you have it – three excellent Pinot Noir wines on the go. Next time you are in the airport – remember, you have options. Vino Volo is continuing expanding, so there is a good chance that your airport experience will not be that dreadful after all. Cheers!

Vino Volo
Newark Airport
Terminal C, Gate 74
Phone: (973) 565-9250
https://www.vinovolo.com/
Hours:
Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 9 pm, Sunday: 12 pm – 9 pm

Vino Volo on Urbanspoon

Vino Volo: Great Wines On The Go

January 7, 2011 3 comments

Did you have any good wine at the airport lately? I hope you have, because I did. No, I didn’t need to sneak anything past security or convince myself that no name Merlot for $15/glass is great wine and great value. Your gateway to the good wine experience at the airport is called Vino Volo, and I recommend that you will look them up next time you are in the airport and in the mood for a good glass of wine.

Great thing about Vino Volo (actually, there are multiple) is that they have good wine selection and good prices, and you can also buy a bottle if you like something. On top of that is my favorite feature – wine tasting flights, opportunity to experience and learn. At any given moment they offer 4-5 different wine tasting flights, with selection slanted towards local wines – as much as possible, of course. So if you are in California, you should expect to find more Californian wines, and if you are in Portland, Oregon – you will find more wines from Oregon and Washington.

I stopped by Vino Volo in Oakland airport in California, and selected tasting flight of 3 California Cabernets (there were 6 different tasting flights available). I think spending $19 to try 3 different California Cabernets ranging from $48 to $87 per bottle represents a very good value.

All three wines were good and solid – no, they were not amazing, but they were good. Bremer Family Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 was the best of tasting – it had all the classic cedar and blackberry aromas, and had good balanced tannins and acidity. Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian 2007, which is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, was not ready to drink. It was way to aggressive on the palate and will probably open up in another 5 years. And Flora Springs Trilogy 2007 had all the great aromatics, but unfortunately was disappearing in the mouth leaving you with the impression that something is missing (needed more structure). I might be totally wrong on this wine, however, as it might be simply too young – well, the time will tell. And last note I want to make here – out of curiosity, I wanted to check how bad Vino Volo’s prices are. I checked prices on the wine-searcher, and happy to report that all the prices were within $5 range from the best price which can be found on the wine-searcher (and it doesn’t include shipping), plus Bremer Family is available only from the winery so it is also a great find.

I can only thank folks at Vino Volo for their great service to all the wine lovers – and next time you are in the airport, remember – you CAN find good wine there…

While In Texas …

August 27, 2021 3 comments

August was an eventful month – two trips back to back, something I didn’t experience in the past 18 months.

After a trip to Oregon to attend the Wine Media Conference and visit some of the wineries in Willamette Valley, I spent two days at home and got on the plane again, this time to attend a work event in San Antonio in Texas. This was a short but quite intense 4 days trip, so I really didn’t plan to look specifically for any local wines as I like doing during any of my trips. Until I walked into the Riverwalk Wine and Spirits.

You see, I was only looking for sparkling water, as this is what I prefer to drink, so buying wine was not a part of the plan (who am I kidding). But being in Texas, I had to look at the shelf with the local wines – located, as one would expect, in the far corner of the store. What do you think happened next? Of course… I love Marsanne and Roussanne wines, and the bottles were simply looking at me saying “yeah, we know you want us…”. I grabbed the bottle of Becker Claret to keep the whites company, and we happily left together.

I’m familiar with Becker wines, had them a few times before – they also have quite memorable labels. But I don’t believe I ever tasted any wines from Lost Draw Cellars, so let’s talk about them first.

Lost Draw Cellars traces its origin to 1936 as a family business. The grapes were planted on the Lost Draw Vineyard site in 2005, and in 2012, Lost Draw Cellars bottled its first vintage. Today, Lost Draw Cellars produces a wide range of wines, focusing primarily on the Mediterranean varieties growing on the number of vineyards in Texas High Planes AVA – Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and many others.

The two white wines I tried were, in a word, excellent.

2017 Lost Draw Cellars Roussanne La Pradera Vineyard Texas High Plains (13.2% ABV, $14.99)
Golden color
A touch of tropical fruit and gunflint, herbal notes
Fresh, round, lemon notes, complex, great acidity, good balance, good minerality
8, I would drink this wine any day

2018 Lost Draw Cellars Marsanne Timmons Estate Vineyard Texas High Plains (13.2% ABV, $14.99)
Light Golden
Butter, vanilla, nose reminiscent of Chardonnay
Vanilla, pronounced honey note, round, plump, creamy, good acidity, good balance
8+, superb.

The story of Becker Vineyards started when the Becker family decided to look for the log cabin to make it into a country getaway. They found their perfect cabin in 1990, along with 46 acres of land. Owning the vineyard was a long-time dream, so the first vines were planted in 1992, following by the first harvest in 1995. That humble beginning today became a 100,000 cases operation with numerous honors and accolades – for example, Becker wines were served at the White House on 7 different occasions.

I have to honestly say that I was very happy with my choice of red wine at the store – after the first sip, it was hard to wipe the smile off my face:

2015 Becker Vineyards Claret Les Trois Dames Texas (14.1% ABV, $14.99, 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 12% Petite Verdot, 10% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc)
Garnet
Coffee, mocha, cassis, bell pepper
Cassis, bell pepper, eucalyptus, good acidity, soft tannins, perfect balance
9-, spectacular. Just pure pleasure in every sip. The wine is at its peak and it is an absolutely delicious rendition of classic French claret.

This was my second time tasting Becker Claret – the first time I had it in 2011 at Vino Volo at the airport. It was a 2009 vintage, thus I was tasting 2 years old wine. This time, it was a 6-year-old wine, and it definitely shined to its fullest.

That is my short story of finding delicious wines in Texas (at a great price too). Texas Hill County was one of the suggested locations for the next Wine Media Conference 2022 – for once, I would be absolutely ecstatic if that would be an actual choice – I would just need to bring a few of the wine suitcases with me…

We are done talking about wine, but there is something else I want to share with you. While in San Antonio, I stayed at Marriott Riverwalk hotel, in a room with a beautiful city view. Yes, it means pictures – I want to share with you that city view, taken at different times – together with a few flowers.

And now we are done. If you will be visiting Texas, make sure to drink Texan wines – you don’t even need to thank me.

 

When in Texas…

August 29, 2019 7 comments

Travel is a part of my job (the job which pays the bills) – nothing unique here, of course, and when my flights are not delayed for 14 hours or canceled, and I don’t have to sleep on airport terminal’s floor, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

As a wine junky (replace with your favorite epithet – lover, aficionado, geek, snob, …) I’m always on a lookout for two things when I travel.

One would be experiencing new wines – in whatever way possible. It might be a Vino Volo boutique at the airport, offering local wines. It might be a local winery within the driving distance. It might be a store which offers interesting wines (local, unique, inexpensive – whatever can constitute “interesting”).

The other one is meeting with friends. It is amazing how easy it is to become good friends over a glass of wine. The wine offers endless opportunity to talk, learn from each other, learn about each other’s lives, and really, to become friends.

Of course, you can meet your friends face to face only when your travel schedule will allow that. During my last trip to Dallas, Texas, in July, my schedule allowed for such a meeting. After exchanging a few emails with Melanie Ofenloch, a.k.a. Dallas Wine Chick (wine blogger at DallasWineChick – if you are not familiar with Melanie, here is a recent interview with her), she was able to rearrange her schedule and had time to share a couple of drinks – and a conversation.

We met at the bar at the restaurant which was conveniently located for both of us. I don’t remember what exactly we were drinking, because that was really not important – the conversation about wine, past wine bloggers conferences, families and life overall was the real value of getting together.

Before we parted, Melanie asked if I ever visited Spec’s, for which I said that I have no idea what that is. She told me “you must”, and put a location into my phone, to make sure I would have no problems finding it.

Spec’s, which is known under its full name as Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods, is a chain of wine stores in the Dallas area (don’t know if they have locations throughout Texas). Everything is big in Texas, so the Spec’s I visited was sized appropriately. Rows and rows of wines, mostly sorted by the grape variety. And while everything is big in Texas, cash is also a king – Spec’s offers 10% discount for all cash wine purchases (you can see three prices at most of the wine bottles – standard price, volume discount and cash discount).

It is not a secret anymore that Texas makes excellent wines, which are also not available much anywhere outside of Texas. So when in Texas, one has to use the opportunity to experience local wines (believe me, it is well worth it). Thus Texas wine section was of the most interest to me – and I found it after a few circles.

In that section, I found a number of wines frequented in the Texas wine bloggers’ posts – for example, Becker and McPherson. I also found some wines I was familiar with, such as Duchman, and some wines I knew existed, but I never tried them, such as Infinite Monkey Theorem, produced in Austin (this city winery originated in Denver, Colorado, but they also opened a facility in Austin a while ago). I ended up taking three bottles of the Texas wine to keep me company in the hotel room.

Before I left the store I also stumbled upon a section of the “serious” wines – Bordeaux first growth, Burgundy stars, Italian legends and more. It is always fun to at least find yourself surrounded by so much wine goodness at a given moment – even that I can’t afford any of those bottles.

Back in the room, I decided to start my wine tasting with the 2015 Infinite Monkey Theorem Tempranillo Texas (13.8% ABV). Tempranillo is one of my most favorite grapes, and it is one of the popular varieties in Texas. I also had successful past experience with Infinite Monkey Theorem wine – the Cab Franc rendition I had in Denver a couple of years ago, was absolutely delicious. All together, it made me excited about trying this wine – and it didn’t disappoint. Dark fruit, a touch of roasted meat and tobacco, a hint of anise – an excellent wine.

As I bought 3 bottles at Spec’s, my initial plan was to open all 3 and try them – this is what I typically do with Trader Joe’s wines, even when I stay only for one night. I was staying only for 2 nights, and the wine was so good that I simply decided to finish this bottle and take the other two back home.

Back at home, I was quick to continue my Texas wine deep dive with 2017 McPherson Les Copains Rosé Texas (12.9% ABV, 52% Cinsault, 42% Grenache, 6% Rolle). The wine was a classic Rosé, with a bit bigger body than a typical Provence, but full of ripe strawberries with a touch of lemon, fresh, crisp, and easy to drink. I would love to drink this Rosé any day, any season.

So when in Texas, make sure to drink Texas wines – you really have to do what locals do – I have no doubts you will enjoy it. And if you will be in Dallas, remember that Spec’s might be considered a “Disneyland for Adults”. Well, maybe leave your wallet at home.

Wine On The Go, Spectacular Pairing, and Some Life Ramblings

January 28, 2015 15 comments

Charlotte airportLife is an interesting thing (wow, what a deep opening thought, huh?). I was supposed to depart at 6 am on a direct flight from New York to Miami to attend the conference. Thanks to much-hyphed-but-never-really-happened blizzard, my flight was cancelled and I was automatically re-booked, now on the flight with the stop, connecting through Charlotte, North Carolina.

Charlotte. You know, there are some strong emotional words which I’m striving to avoid, whether conversing or writing. One of such words is “hate” – and I will explain the connection in a second.

Few Last Words About Washington Wines

November 5, 2014 9 comments

All the good things come to an end – so did my trip to Washington and the series of the blog posts about Woodinville wineries (if you missed the series, here is the link to the first, “MWWC-award-winning” 🙂 post – you can explore it from there).

What is my main outcome of that trip? First, at the “duh”  level – great wines are made in the state of Washington. Yes, yes, I understand how pathetic this revelation is. However, outside of Chateau Ste. Michele, Columbia Crest and may be  Cayuse and Quilceda Creek, how many Washington wineries can you name if put on the spot? Meanwhile, the wines I tasted in Woodinville, where literally one better than another. When it comes to the focused winery visits and large tastings, I do have a bit of experience – 7 wineries, about 40 wines, and not a single wine wine I really didn’t care for? That is a serious result in my book. Couple that with most of the wines reasonable priced in the $25 – $50 range, and the picture gets even better. Spectacular Bordeaux blends with such elegance and finesse – these Washington wines definitely worth seeking out. Well, today you would have to mostly travel to the area if you want to experience the wines – but this is the only problem you might have with the wines. Bottom line – I was very happy with my discovery of Woodinville and its wineries, and in the words of the Terminator, “I’ll be back”.

So you think we are done here? Nope. I still have a few more Washington wines to mention – thanks to Vino Volo. I wrote about Vino Volo a number of times in the past – the company manages wine bars in [mostly] various airports around US and Canada. While good wine at the airport is the most welcome development of the past 5 or so years of the flying experience, my favorite part about Vino Volo is that whenever possible, the bars offer tasting flights of local wines – you should expect to find Texas wines in Austin, California wines in San Francisco and of course, Washington wines in Seattle!

I had about 2 hours before my flight back to New York, and when I saw the Vino Volo sign, that was a happy “Yes!” moment. A number ofthe Washington wine flights were offered, but when I saw the one with Leonetti Cellars Cabernet, I had to go for it – I only heard the name before and they considered to be an excellent producer, so I was definitely curious.

Washington Cabernet Flioght at Vino Volo in seattle

The flight consisted of 3 different Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Washington.

Washington Cabernet description at Vino Volo

Here are my notes:

2010 Pepper Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, Walla Walla Valley – Raspberries and blackberries on the nose. On the palate, great depth, cassis, blackberries, pencil shavings, medium to full body, sweet tannins, elegant. Drinkability: 7+/8-

2011 Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley – herbal nose with sage and lavender, touch of cassis. On the palate – dark chocolate, earthiness, nice mineral profile, good acidity, elegant. Drinkability: 8-

2011 Leonetti Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley – Rich and concentrated nose, with the hint of forest floor, herbs, eucalyptus and great complexity. On the palate – round, spectacular, herbal profile with nutty aftertaste, more eucalyptus, long finish. Drinkability: 8+

Well, now it is the time to conclude the series for real. What can I tell you? If you are looking for the great wine experiences, put state of Washington, and Woodinville in particular, on the top of your  list. For those of you who can experience the Woodinville wines and wineries at any time – lucky you. For the rest of us? Well, at least we know where to find them. Cheers!

Month in Wines – May 2014

June 9, 2014 10 comments

There was no shortage of the good and even great wines in May,  including some potential candidates for the Top Dozen list. The spread of wines origin-wise was mostly even, from New Zealand to Italy to Spain, France and California. As usual, the list includes only the wines rated 8- or higher, with some lower rated wines included on the exception basis. Let’s take a look.

2011 Sueño Tempranillo Ribera Del Jucar DO, Spain (14% ABV, $19,99) – a classic, round Tempranillo – eucalyptus, cigar box, perfect balance. 8-

2012 Centanni Pecorino Offida DOCG, Italy (14.5% ABV) – a supple white, with lots of big flavors, very concentrated, but still refreshing. Quite unique and different. 8-

2012 Centanni Rosso Di Forca Rosso Piceno DOP, Italy (13.5% ABV) – One of the best Pop-and-Pour wines I ever had. From the moment the glass “cork” was pulled off, a luscious, luxurious, round and delicious wine, one sip after another. It was gone in no time… 9-

2010 Rio Maggio Rosso Piceno DOC (13.5% ABV) – Another excellent Rosso Piceno wine, but very different from the previous one – dark restrained fruit, a touch of cherry pit, excellent acidity. 8-

2012 Borell-Diehl Pinot Noir Estate, Germany probably the first German Pinot Noir I liked. While not super-sophisticated, it was simple enough and food food friendly. 7+

2011 Stephen Ross Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, California  – Classic California Pinot, dark chocolate, pencil shavings, smoke, excellent balance. 8

2009 Maysara Pinot Noir, McMinniville AVA, Oregon – herbal profile on the nose, dark fruit, earthiness, balancing acidity. I can drink that every day. 8-

2012 Château Paul Mas Coteaux du Languedoc AOP (14,5% ABV, Syrah 85%, Grenache 10%, Mourvedre 5%) – dark fruit, earthiness, spicy cherries, pepper, espresso – lots of things going. Need time. 8-

2011 Château Paul Mas Clos de Savignac Grés de Montpellier (14.5% ABV, Mourvedre 50%, Syrah 30%, Grenache 20%) – Dark chocolate, loads of pepper, blueberries, perfectly balanced. 8

2012 Château Paul Mas Clos du Moulinas Pezenas Grand Terroir du Languedoc (14.5% ABV, 55% Syrah, 45% Grenache) – extremely complex, leather, tobacco, pepper, perfect balance, simply a wow. 9-

2012 Swedish Hill Reserve Chardonnay Finger lakes, New York (13% ABV) – Chablis-like personality,  with the hint of gunflint on the nose, also showing of as nice restrained California wine, with vanilla and oak, and everything in balance. 8-

2012 Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewurztraminer Finger Lakes, New York (12.5% ABV) – beautiful honeysuckle and white peaches nose, coupled with exotic fruit and spices the palate, and most importantly, all nicely balanced. 8-

2013 Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles Rosé Paso Robles, California (13.5% ABV, $4.99 at Trader Joe’s , Mourvedre 49%, Grenache 26%, Syrah 25%) – simple, balanced, delicious, surprising. Yes, this was a perfect summer wine from Trader Joe’s – get it by the case. 8-

2010 Cairdean Vineyards Malbec Nape Valley (14.2% ABV) – My first experience with California Malbec. Very unusual – socks (yep, you can think whatever you want of me), baking spices, lavender, fresh cookies, very elegant. 8

2010 Cairdean Vineyards Chardonnay Russian River Valley (13.9% ABV) – touch of vanilla and butter, toasted bread, soft and round. 8-

2012 Matua Pinot Noir Marlboro New Zealand (13% ABV) – this wine screams “classic Marlboro” all the way – smokey nose, cherry on the palate, light and at the same time savory profile with cut-through acidity. 8-

2005 Dama de Toro Crianza Toro DO (13.5% ABV) – wonderful complexity, makes you smell this wine indefinitely, and then you can spend eternity analyzing each sip – herbs, lavender, sage, nutmeg, red and black fruit – just a wonderful example of the wine [probably] at its peak. 9-

2010 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (14.5% ABV) – great open Cabernet Sauvignon nose, bell peppers, black currants, very classic. Medium to full body on the palate, perfectly restrained, excellent balance. 8

2008 Tamaya Syrah Reserva Limari Valley, Chile (13.5% ABV) – this wine would perfectly impersonate a classic Northern Rhone Syrah – very restrained, dense, concentrates, pepper and spices on the palate, savory herbs. A Thought provoking wine. 8-

That completes my wine highlights report for May. Did you make any interesting discoveries in the last month? Did you have any of the wines I mentioned here? Cheers!

Experiencing Texas Wines

December 21, 2011 1 comment

I’ve heard [good things] about Texas wines before, but despite being in Texas countless number of times, I never had an opportunity to drink local wines. Thanks to Vino Volo, great wines are available on the go (this is not the first time I’m writing about Vino Volo – previous posts can be found here and here).

This time I was at San Antonio International airport, and I had enough time before the flight to taste some wines. As you know, I would never refuse an opportunity to try new wines, so when I saw “Taste of Texas” flight being available, the decision was very simple.

The flight consisted of three red wines, and all three were very good! The first wine was 2009 Becker Vineyards Claret, Hill County. The wine had nice nose with dark fruit, plums and blackberries, good acidity, rustic, with good tannins. The wine was very Bordeaux in style, but without characteristic bell peppers and greenness ( Drinkability: 7+).

Next wine was 2009 Texas Hill Vineyards Toro de Tejas, High Plains (100% Tempanillo) – the wine had smoke, dark fruit, hint of dark chocolate, very dense. This wine very well complemented chorizo and chickpeas chilli. Best of tasting (Drinkability – 8-).

Last wine in the flight was 2007 Llano Estacado Viviano, High Plains (Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend). The wine had nose of green olives, and it was very nice on the palate, with hint of chocolate, soft tannins  and good balance. Drinkability – 7+.

Overall , all three wines were well done, easy and pleasant to drink – my only regret (actually, two) would be that these wines are not available in Connecticut and also that even in the Texas restaurants, the emphasis is on California, and Texas wines are simply overlooked – definitely a mistake.

That’s all for now, folks. In the next blog post, we will explore the subject of wine fears – cheers!

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