So you had a bad day at work. During the meeting boss kept giving you the look, you know, that one. Engineering just informed you that project delivery will be delayed [yet again] by 4 weeks, and you are the one to come up with the third(!) apology/excuse to the customer. And actually, this Sunday you will have to be on the plane, and it will be 3rd week in a row you have to travel over the weekend and cancel all your plans. Is that bad enough, or do we need to throw in a flat tire and a speeding ticket on the way to work?
Okay, you arrive home in sufficiently bad mood. Sit down, relax, may be put on some nice music (I don’t know about you, but Stan Getz, Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett will fit the bill for me). Will glass of wine help to cheer you up? Most probably. But what bottle should you open? If your answer is “the only one I already have”, this post might not help you much…
My wine teacher Kevin Zraly always said that “the wine should give you pleasure“. So another short answer would be “the one which will give you pleasure” – and what we need to keep in mind is that the wine I would enjoy immensely might be completely not your thing. Let’s put this aside, and let’s assume that I actually had a bad day at work. Well, it would be the easiest then to write this blog post empirically and emphatically, but I’m not sure than if I actually had a bad day at work, I would be able to write a good blog post, so … did I lose you yet? Let’s get back to the subject.
Here are three important criteria for selecting the “pick me up” wine. First, it should be an “instantly on” wine. What I mean is that the wine should be ready to drink as soon as the bottle is open. This will effectively exclude lots of big Italian wines, such as Barolo and Brunello, as well as many California Cabs (unless you have something aged to perfection in your cellar and it is actually ready to drink now) – anything which needs decanting or prolonged breathing time should be avoided here.
Then I would suggest that the wine should be familiar. It should be the wine you had before and you know how it will taste like. There is nothing wrong with opening a totally unknown bottle of wine, but – you are in a bad mood already, are you sure it is worth taking chances?
The last factor I want to throw in here – I want this wine to have a great smell. I think the “pick me up” process should start from the very first whiff from your glass, way before you take a first sip. Smell has a great power to transform your mood right away – and the great bonus or a great smell is that you can smell the wine indefinitely as it opposed to drinking it.
Oh, wait, there is one more desired feature here – the wine should be good. In other words, it should give you pleasure. In my personal book it means that the wine should be balanced and as an added bonus, have sense of place.
Let me give you some examples of the wines which should be able to improve one’s mood (I’m sure they will work for me).
2010 Fiction Red Wine Paso Robles by Field Recordings. I talked about this magnificent wine a number of times already in this blog, so let me just quote myself: “First and foremost, it is a smell which doesn’t lets you put the glass down. Fresh flowers, meadows, herbs, fresh summer air – it is all captured in the smell of this wine. On the palate, this wine shows bright red fruit, like raspberries and cherries, all perfectly balanced with a great finesse. Any time you want to experience beautiful summer day, reach out to that wine.”
Flora Springs Soliloquy Sauvignon Blanc 2009. “One of the very best California Sauvignon Blanc I ever had. Beautiful combination of traditional grassiness with fruit forward and finesse. Outstanding!”
Rozes Over 40 Years Old Port. “My best port ever. I can close eyes and imagine the smell and taste of this wine – multiple layers, tremendous complexity and great opportunity to reflect on life when the finish lasts for 15 minutes or longer.”
2007 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine – “This was definitely the best Icewine I ever tried. Light and effervescent (not your usual descriptors for the icewine), with perfect acidity complementing beautiful fruit. True masterpiece.“
There you have it – I’m sure either one of this wines will greatly improve your mood. However, there is an extremely good chance that any [your personal good] bottle of wine will help too. Besides, having a bad day at work is not at all mandatory to enjoy a glass of wine (or two). Tell me, what will be in your glass today? Cheers!
Turns out that yesterday was an [International] Sauvignon Blanc Day, as I learned from the post on Bottle Notes. I wouldn’t call this quite “International” yet – it was originated in 2009 by St. Supéry winery in California, to celebrate one of the main wine-making grapes in the world, Sauvignon Blanc. While St. Supéry run the whole program of seminars and tastings on June 24th, all dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc, this was also a social media event which anyone could join in using Twitter or any other social media outlets.
Sauvignon Blanc is a white grape used in many regions throughout the world. With all due respect to California, I would like to first mention Loire Valley in France, which brings us Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé wines. French Sauvignon Blanc wines typically very dry, with pronounced herbaceous flavors and expressive minerality. The same Sauvignon Blanc grape takes on totally different expression in New Zealand and Chile – very bright, zinging acidity, lots of fresh citrus flavors and some hint of fresh cut grass. Then comes California with yet another take on the popular grape – California Sauvignon Blanc typically much fuller bodied than their counterparts from France or New Zealand, much fruitier and with lesser acidity.
I talked about Sauvignon Blanc wines already a few times on this blog (you can find those posts here and here). This time, I want to talk about some special (and totally unexpected) experience with California Sauvignon Blanc. In general, Sauvignon Blanc wines are not expected to age. They are typically consumed young, may be within 3-4 years of age. When we opened a bottle of 2000 Flora Springs Soliloquy from Napa Valley, a Sauvignon Blanc wine, we didn’t have much [good] expectations – it was more of an experiment – hey, let’s see if this is even drinkable. To our complete surprise, this wine was perfect! Yes, it showed signs of maturity, definitely in the dense dark yellow color of aged white wine, but otherwise, it was fresh, complex, with lots of white fruit and hint of earthiness on the palate, good acidity. 2009 Soliloquy was one of my favorite wines of last year, it was number 9 in my 2010 Top Dozen list, but still I didn’t expect that 11 years old Sauvignon Blanc will taste so good. Drinkability: 8+.
Sauvignon Blanc is perfect summer wine. You really don’t need to wait for 11 years to enjoy it – and even that we are already past Sauvignon Blanc Day, go get a bottle today and toast summer day and great discoveries. Cheers!
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…
I’m sure you saw in my prior posts mention of QPR – Quality Price Ratio. I like wine in general – but being able to achieve high QPR makes it even more enjoyable. One of the best ways to reach high QPR is to buy wine online. Wine-searcher is the best tool I know to find the wine online, but when it comes to buying wine it is hard to beat Wine Till Sold Out, or WTSO (you can now find them also on Facebook). What I like about WTSO is price (of course), simplicity, reliability and service. They do respond to your e-mails, and answer your questions! The reason I emphasize that is because when you deal with “value” businesses, often you have to give up on some of the elements, like service, for instance – and WTSO is pleasantly different. Information on the web site is simple, easy to understand and comprehensive, and wines are available on, well, first come first serve basis – yep, I missed a few wines are dearly regretted.
Just to give you an idea of what WTSO can bring you, I decided to collect the e-mail notification during one week (week of November 15th), so here is the information in the form of the table:
|Date||Time||Wine Name||Rating(s)||Original Price||WTSO Price||Min # ofBottles||% off|
|Nov 15||12:02a||Andre Farjon La Deveze Cotes du Rhone 2007||$19.99||$11.99||4||40%|
|Nov 15||12:50p||Charles Heidsieck Brut Champagne Reserve Rose NV||WS93, WE92||$79.99||$49.99||2||38%|
|Nov 15||3:01p||Bodega LuzDivina Amigo Baloiro Beirzo Mencia 2005||RP 91, W&S90||$30.00||$13.99||4||53%|
|Nov 15||4:19p||Miguel Torres ‘Salmos’ Priorat Red 2007||W&S91,WS90||$39.99||$23.39||3||42%|
|Nov 15||7:33p||Juslyn Vineyards Vineyard Select Napa Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
|Nov 16||12:02a||Champagne Charles Ellner Cuvee De Reserve
|Nov 16||11:49a||Reserve du Chateau Croix Mouton Bordeaux Superieur 2009 by Michel Rolland and Jean-Philippe Janoueix||$23.99||$12.99||4||46%|
|Nov 16||4:18p||Robert Storey Cellars Napa Valley Pinot Noir 2007 by Bill Knuttel||JHN92||$31.99||$17.99||4||44%|
|Nov 16||8:47p||Soos Creek Wine Cellars Artist Series #7
Columbia Valley Red Wine 2007
|Nov 17||12:01a||Il Palazzone Brunello di Montalcino 2003||RP90||$90.00||$39.99||2||56%|
|Nov 17||12:00p||Valsanzo Vina Sanzo Reuda Verdejo 2009||RP89||$19.99||$10.99||4||45%|
|Nov 17||3:31p||Flora Springs Winery & Vineyards Trilogy
Napa Valley Red Wine 2006
|Nov 17||9:32p||St. Supery Vineyards & Winery Elu Napa Valley Red Wine 2003 3.0L Double Magnum||W&S90,WRO92||$350.00||$159.99||1||54%|
|Nov 18||12:03a||Coelho Winery Paciencia Willamette Valley
Pinot Noir 2007
|Nov 18||10:55a||Bodegas Y Vinedos Recoletas Vendimia Seleccionada 2004||RP90||$40.00||$19.99||4||50%|
|Nov 18||1:34p||Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico Irpinia Rosso
|Nov 18||6:03p||I Greppi Greppicante Bolgheri, DOC 2007||WS92,RP90||$29.99||$19.99||4||33%|
|Nov 19||12:01a||Tom Eddy Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005||JHN94||$90.00||$39.99||2||56%|
|Nov 19||1:03p||Benessere Vineyards Napa Valley Estate Sangiovese 2006||JHN90+||$45.00||$15.99||4||64%|
|Nov 19||4:01p||Gonfrier Freres Chateau de Lyde Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux 2009||$17.99||$10.99||4||39%|
|Nov 19||8:02p||Portal del Montsant Santbru 2007||RP93||$47.99||$23.00||2||50%|
|Nov 20||12:02a||Maroon Winery Spring Mountain District,
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
|Nov 20||8:42a||Warwick Estate Professor Black Stellenbosch
Sauvignon Blanc 2009
|Nov 20||1:07p||Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli DOCG 2003||RP91, WS90||$149.99||$59.99||2||60%|
|Nov 20||5:05p||Chateau Bizard Serre de Courrent Cotes du Rhone 2007||$34.99||$19.99||4||43%|
|Nov 20||6:55p||Saintsbury Lee Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir 2007||WS93||$49.99||$29.99||4||40%|
|Nov 21||12:03a||Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico Irpinia Rosso
|Nov 21||11:35a||Domaine Fond Croze Cuvee Romanaise Cotes du Rhone 2007||RP91||$18.99||$12.99||4||32%|
|Nov 21||12:47p||Casali di Bibbiano Argante Toscana Red Blend 2006||WS91||$44.99||$18.99||3||58%|
|Nov 21||4:03p||St. Supery Vineyards & Winery Elu Napa Valley Meritage 2004||TWN92||$64.99||$34.99||3||46%|
|Nov 21||5:50p||Domaine Drouhin Arthur Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2007||IWR91, WS91, ST90||$55.00||$19.99||3||64%|
To give you an idea about ratings: WS stands for Wine Spectator, RP = Robert Parker, WE = Wine Enthusiast, ST – Stephen Tanzer, WRO = Wine Review Online, TWN = The Wine News, JHN = Jonathan H. Newman. Min # of bottles column specifies minimum number of bottles to buy to get free shipping, which I never saw exceeding 4. Time column specifies the exact time when WTSO e-mail arrived to my mail box.
If you will scroll through the table, you will see that during one week, 31 different wines from California, Oregon, France, Spain, Italy and South Africa had being offered. The discounts ranged from 32% to the 64%, and wine ratings had being the range of 89 – 94.
Is WTSO The place to get all your wines? Of course not – you can’t beat good wine store, such as Cost Less Wines I talked about before. However, combination of QPR and good service definitely should put WTSO on your short list of places to buy the wine from. Happy hunting!
Clones are looked at somewhat skeptical when it comes to wines – simply because in some cases, the origin of the grape is not easy to establish, and then all sorts of claims can be associated with particular characteristics of the grape. Well, when you on the hunch to get to the Treble level, even the clones will help – especially if they are certified by UC Davis.
This Flora Springs Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of two clones of Sauvignon Blanc: Soliloquy Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Musqué clone. It is a beautiful wine, combining finesse, the grassiness of traditional Sancerre and fruit-forward style of California wines, perfectly balanced. This is one of the very few California Sauvignon Blanc wines which I actually enjoy, as in general my preferences are on Loire and New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc. I will put drinkability rating on this wine as 8+, and these are the two new grapes.
Then come two more wines, which are adding two more grapes, both grapes being in the main Wine Century Club application table from the beginning. One is Petite Arvine, a grape from Switzerland, which is hard to find in US. I got the wine directly from Switzerland with the help of my friend Patrick, and it was 2009 Valiciana Petite Arvine du Valais – simple and herbaceous, working well as aperitif.
And the last grape for this update was Garnacha Peluda, also known as Ladoner Pelut, or Grey Grenache. And even as Wikipedia simply lists all of the clones of Grenache as one and the same grape, as we are counting clones, this is perfectly suitable grape to be counted by itself. It was a part of the blend in wine called 2007 Sexto Terra Alta from Spain – an interesting wine with some dark fruit notes showing up after the wine breathes for a while – it would be an interesting wine to try in 3-4 years.
That’s all for now – and more to follow, as the wine adventures never stop…