Posts Tagged ‘jancis robinson’

Wednesday’s Meritage – Critic on Criticism, #MWWC19 Reminder, Wine and Food Festivals Abound, Allegrini Wine Dinner and more

September 9, 2015 9 comments

Meritage Time!

First, I want to bring to your attention an interesting article by none less than Jancis Robinson, who wrote a very interesting piece called “Jancis Robinson on wine experts versus amateurs“, recently published in Financial Times. In the article, she is talking about the challenges professional wine critics face in today’s world, where literally everyone have an opinion about wines, and not afraid to share it. Definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

Next up – a Monthly Wine Writing Challenge Number 19 (#MWWC19) reminder – there is less than a week left in the current challenge (last day is September 14th), and if I’m not mistaken, there were very few submissions so far. I understand that theme is challenging – “Choice” can mean all and nothing at the same time – but this is why it is a challenge, and this is why your participation is required! If this can be a source of inspiration, here is the link to my own mumbling on the subject – I’m sure you can do better. Write up, people!

Now, last weekend of September might be challenging for the food and wine lovers, as multiple events will be competing for your time and attention:

Greenwich Wine and Food Festival 2015, presented by Serendipity, will take place September 23-26 in Greenwich, Connecticut – lots of celebrities, Food Network Chefs, wine, food contests and more are in the program. Here is the link for detailed information, tickets and more.

The 10th annual Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival will take place on September 25-27, 2015 at The Elms, Rosecliff & Marble House mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. Food& Wine Magazine will be hosting the festivities, and there is a very long list of celebrities and celebrity chefs who will be in attendance there – Martha Stewart, Jacques Pepin and many others will be present, so you can expect lots of delicious food, great wines and fun time. Here is the link for detailed information.

Georgian Food and Wine Festival should take place in New York City on September 25-27 at Chelsea Markets. At this point, this is all information I have – I can’t even give you a link – but just in case, if you are in New York city, see if a visit to Chelsea Markets will fit into your schedule – this will be a free event and I’m sure you will not regret making it.

Now, a bit more of a local event, but on Tuesday, September 15th, Vespa restaurant in Westport, Connecticut, will be hosting an Allegrini wine dinner, where 5 different wines from Allegrini & Poggio al Tesoro estates will be paired with the dishes specially created by the Chef David White. Allegrini is well known producer our of Veneto  in Italy (so yes, there will be Amarone on the list), and they also own Poggio al Tesoro vineyards in Tuscany. To get full information about the dinner and to reserve your spot, please visit Vespa Westport web site.

And the last one for today: WTSO, the best of the best in the world of the value wines, will conduct their famous “Anything Goes” Marathon on Monday, September 21st, starting at 9 AM US Eastern time. Wines will be offered in a rapid succession, new wines will be advertised only through the Twitter (no emails and no App notifications), no minimums to buy to get free shipping. But you better have all your information ready, as wines will be flying. If you are not already doing so, you might want to follow WTSO on Twitter. Happy hunting!

And this is all I have for you for today. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!


Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Wine Aging, Wine of 50 States, Food Photography and more

April 10, 2013 12 comments

Meritage Time!

Let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #53, grape trivia: Cabernet Sauvignon. This was the first in the new series of quizzes I hope to continue for a while – for the next few weeks, I plan to run questions around popular grapes. This time the subject was Cabernet Sauvignon, and here are the questions with the answers:

Q1: Which two grapes are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon? A: For the long time prevailing theory was that Cabernet Sauvignon had some ancient roots – until DNA research showed that Cabernet Sauvignon originated in 17th century in France and it is a cross of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

Q2: The world’s oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines are located in (name winery and/or vineyard for extra credit):

A. Bordeaux

B. Chile

C. California

D. Australia – correct answer. Kalimna Vineyard Block 42 at Penfolds has 140 years old Cabernet Sauvignon vines.

E. Georgia

Q3: True or False: Since 2000, plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon increased in Bordeaux? A: False. Since 2000, Cabernet Sauvignon plantings had been decreasing and Merlot plantings increasing as Merlot is ripening about 15 days earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon and thus easier to use in the blends.

Q4: The second largest in the world plantings (by area) of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are located in:

A. Australia

B. California

C. Chile

D. Hungary

E. Moldova – quite unexpectedly (for me, at least), this is the correct answer.

F. South Africa

Q5: Absolute majority of Bordeaux wines are blends. Name four grapes which are traditional blending companions of Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux

A: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec are four major blending companions of Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux.

There were many good answers this week, and we have three winners – The Drunken Cyclist, Red Wine Diva and Armchairsommelier all correctly answered all five questions, plus the Armchairsommelier also correctly identified the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard. They get the traditional prize of unlimited bragging rights. Well done!

And now, to the interesting stuff around the net. Lets start from the subject of wine aging. Few days ago I shared my thoughts on the subject of wine aging – and then I noticed  an article by Steve Heimoff talking about wine critic’s approach to recommending wines for aging (or not). Quite frankly, I don’t think I found any revelations in that article, but it sheds some light on the reason behind “drink after 2056” recommendations.

It is no secret that wine is made in all 50 states in US (it’s actually being like that for about ten years by now – I used to ask this question as part of fun trivia during my wine tastings) – but when Jancis Robinson is talking about it, it means that we actually went over the hump – here is her article in Financial Times where she is talking about new reality of wine making and wine consumption in United States.

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with El Bulli – the famous restaurant in Spain by world renowned chef Ferran Adria, a father and mother of molecular gastronomy. Visiting El Bulli was my dream for many many years, which is not going to materialize, as restaurant closed a few years ago. In one of the the Meritage issues last year I mentioned that wine list from El Bulli was available online (140 pages of wine goodness – if you are interested in taking a pick, my post still has a link to it) – now, as Bloomberg reports, El Bulli cellar was auctioned in Hong Kong for the total of $8.8M. The money raised will be used for the purposes of El Bulli foundation.

I was somewhat late writing this post today (ideally, I want Meritage posts to come out in the morning, but – oh well…) – and I’m glad I did, as I came across a wonderful post by Stefano Crosio about Food Photography. A Food Photography Primer is a great and very generous post which gives you step by step details on how to take amazing food pictures. And talking about that subject of food pictures, I need to share with you a healthy dose of the food porn form the blog I always drool over – My French Heaven. Warning – DO NOT click this link if you are hungry – please don’t, as I can’t be responsible for the consequences.

Okay, I’m sure you did click on that link, so my work is done here. The glass is empty. Refill is coming. Until the next time – cheers!

Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon Experience, And A Few Words About Food

August 28, 2012 8 comments

If I’m not mistaken, last week was literally the first week in Connecticut when evenings became enjoyable – which also meant that we could have a family dinner outside!

Dinner outside is one of the little pleasures of suburban life, when you can get to enjoy the food twice. Not that cooking the food on the stove is not enjoyable – but somehow, doing it outside on the open fire creates the whole separate feeling. And then the whole process of having food outdoors also brings different level of pleasure – I don’t know about you, but whenever possible, in a restaurant I ask for the table outside, to be able to enjoy both food and the weather, and here I don’t even need to ask anyone to get the table outside!

Yes, I will get to the Waterstone cab in a second (after all, that should be the subject of the post, right?) – but let me talk about the food for a moment. Our local Fairway had jumbo shrimp and fillet Mignon on sale, so the menu was a no-brainer.  Of course you have to have something green on the grill, so I think asparagus is one of the best greens you can grill:

I have a feeling that the recipes’ page is coming up in this blog – little by little, I learned to make a few dishes consistently well, so I think sharing the recipes makes sense (but let me sleep on it). One important thing about my recipes – more often than not, I don’t use the exact measure. I can’t tell you to use a quarter of teaspoon of salt, a half of it or the whole one – I just rely on a “gut feeling” for “enough or not”. For the asparagus, I use a dash of salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, olive oil and a splash of balsamic – mix it all together and let it “marinate” for 30 minutes or so. And then of course the key part is not to overcook the asparagus, so it will retain the crunch. I typically have a grill at 400°F and put the asparagus down for 1 minute, turn around, and keep it for another minute – and it is done.

I made shrimp on a skewer. You need to clean the shrimp, and marinate it for 30 minutes to an hour in the fridge (don’t marinate for too long, or it will become a mush). For the marinade ( considering I had 1 pound of shrimp) I used about 1/4 of a cup of olive oil, 4 -5 minced garlic cloves, juice of one lemon ( you can add wine vinegar also, if you want) and a couple of Penzey spices – I used Cajun and Lemon Pepper. About 2 minutes on each side at the same 400°F grill, and … voila:

This shrimp was probably one of the best I ever had ( and made) – I also think kids were in the violent agreement with me – no shrimp survived the evening.

And the steak – everybody can make steak on the grill, so there is not much to talk about – here is the picture for you:

Quite honestly, I should’ve used more salt – but this you probably can’t tell it from the picture. I rehabilitated myself the next day by generously using Montreal seasoning mix, but I don’t this is important in the context of this blog.

And then, of course, there was wine. First I read about Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon in the e-mail from the Benchmark Wine Company, where it was listed as one of the “stuff favorites”. Further checking on internet seemed to be hinting at connection between Harlan Estate, producer of one of the absolute top (“cult” is the word) California wines and Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon – the rumor which Jancis Robinson unequivocally dismisses.

Whether the rumor is true or not is not that essential – Benchmark’s recommendation along with unpretentious label was enough to build my expectations (okay, I’m lying about the rumor – of course I want this wine to be made out of Harlan’s juice, at about 1/30 of a price of the bottle of Harlan Estate). Interestingly enough, if you will read about the Waterstone Winery, which was established in 2000, it doesn’t own any vineyards, which means that grapes should be sourced from the other vineyards, so the whole idea of  wine being made out of Harlan juice, entirely or at least partially, is not that impossible. Anyway, with all those expectations, I was still taking my time, until Zak (owner of Cost Less Wines) told be that he only has about 10 bottles left, so … (he took a pause after “so”) I realized that the time has come.

As you can see from the picture below, I approached entire matter of experiencing the Waterstone very seriously, using my “special occasions only” Cabernet set from Reidel (we have enough glasses for the regular use, and those Reidel glasses don’t last long):

Every time I use these special Reidel glasses, the first smell sensation I get is the one of a wet dog – I guess I don’t know how to use them properly… That smell has nothing to do with the wine, and it disappears after a few sips, but it sure gets in the way of your first impression. Well, let’s talk about the wine. This 2007 Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (14.5% ABV, $27.99) has 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 3% Cabernet France and 1% Petite Verdot, and it was aged in french oak barrels for 22 months. The wine had a perfect nose of blueberries. Not blueberry pie or blueberry jam, but a clean, perfect, balanced nose of fresh berries. This was followed by nice dark fruit on the palate, luscious and round, with some eucalyptus and touch of licorice, excellent balance of tannins, acidity and fruit. Drinkability: 9-. It is interesting to note that the wine was a bit all over the place on the second day, and I had nothing for the third day ( while I expect that it probably would taste better). Here is an artistic rendering of the event by my daughter:

There you have it, folks. I think this is the wine to buy by the case, if you can find it, of course. If you tasted this wine, I will be glad to compare notes. If you didn’t taste it yet, try to find it – and then I will be glad to compare notes. Cheers!

P.S. you can also consider this post as an early contribution for #CabernetDay which is coming up on Thursday, August 30th.

Rediscovering Ridge

May 10, 2012 1 comment

About five years ago, during one of my numerous trips to California, I had a little bit of free time. What do you do when you are in California, have a little bit of free time and love of wine? Of course, you go visit the winery!

A that time I decided to go visit Ridge Vineyards, located in Santa Cruz Mountains region, not far from San Jose. All I knew is that the winery is making wine called Monte Bello, which became famous after beating classic French Bordeaux during 1976 Judgement of Paris event. So I managed a steep 4 miles ride up the Monte Bello road, reached the winery, tasted 5 or 6 different wines and … didn’t like a single one of them. No, I don’t remember what exact wines and what exact vintages I tried, I just remember that none of the wines created any ”oompf”. I was disappointed and squarely put all the Ridge wines into ”I [really] don’t like it” category.

Holding that unhappy memory through the years, last year I even expressed my opinion in the comment to the twitter post by Jancis Robinson (she selected Ridge for a special wine tasting in Hong Kong), which caused some very unhappy reaction among her followers (to say “very unhappy” is a very mild understatement).

I can’t tell you why, but when this year I found out that I will be in San Jose area and I will have a bit of the free time, very first thought was ”I have to try Ridge wines again”. Four steep miles up the Monte Bello road and here I’m again. The air was beautiful, and so was the scenery – let me share a few pictures with you.

Ridge Vineyards is located near the top of Monte Bello Ridge. This is the “view from the top”:

These are the vineyards at Ridge (by the way, in case you recognize the picture, it gives you an answer to the wine quiz #10, Where in California – correct answer is Santa Cruz Mountains region):

Here are some beautiful flowers for you:

Can you guess what happened now? I tried 7 different wines and … I liked loved every one of them. They all had common trait – balance and elegance, a quiet beauty, and may be most importantly, a sense of place – terroir, as French would put it. None of the wines were in-your-face, see-how-much-muscled-fruit-i-have – all of them were rather subtle, thought provoking and requiring time to reflect upon the content of your glass.

I don’t have an explanation. How come I didn’t like any wines the first time? Was that a ”leaf day”, a ”root day” or ”generally unfavorable” day? Did my palate evolved (that one I’m quite sure is true)? As you can’t enter the same river twice, I will not be able to relive that day 5 years ago and understand my reaction at that time. But I’m glad someone somehow somewhere decided that I have to go and try Ridge wines again – and discover something really beautiful.

Here are the tasting notes for the wines I tried:

2010 Estate Chardonnay – A little edgy in unusual way, some herbal undertones, oak is unnoticeable, except back palate burn. Opens a bit cleaner later on, long finish with hint of lemon.

2009 East Bench Zinfandel (15.1% ABV) – dry, with some dry rub spices, nice nose of blackberries, unnoticeable alcohol level, very balanced, perfect fruit and acidity on the palate.

2007 Lytton Estate Syrah/Grenache (14.49% ABV) – nice fruit, touch of spice, hint of dry cherries, gentle tannins, good acidity. Perception of tannins increases going forwward.

2009 Estate Cabernet – Tremendous minerality on the nose, you can literally smell the earth. Very nice – hint of green, very Bordeaux-ish in style, restrained and balanced

2009 Buchignani Ranch Carignane – Tobacco and tar, nice bite of spice, nice simplicity. good tannins on the finish.

2006 Dynamite Hill Petite Sirah – Beautiful fruit right on top, dark fruit undertones, some cherries.

2006 Monte Bello – Beautiful fruit, perfect balance, very classic Cabernet Sauvignon blend, very long finish with tannins which are growing on you, hint of tobacco and earthiness on the palate. I’m glad this was the last wine I tasted, as the finish actually lasted at least for the next 20 minutes.

Yes, I was wrong before, and I don’t have any problems admitting it and getting over it – Ridge Vineyards makes great wines with the sense of place, and  – better late than never – I’m very happy I made this discovery. Let’s raise the glass to the great discoveries of our lives! Cheers!

Ten Wine Blogs I’m Reading

January 15, 2012 3 comments

In the world of wine, reading is second most important thing next to actually drinking the wines. Yes, of course, you can say that no, visiting vineyards and talking to the winemakers is a lot more important – and I would agree with you, however, it is reading that you can do at any time and a lot more often than actually visiting the wineries – at least for someone like me, where wine is a passion but not a profession.

When it comes to reading, books and magazines and indispensable – and there are hundreds and hundreds of them to read, starting from encyclopedias such as The World Atlas Of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, great day-to-day books such as Kevin Zraly’s Complete Wine Course to the Wine Spectator magazine which reviews thousands of wines in every issue.

Then there are wine blogs, like the one you are reading right now. Wine blogs deliver information in much timelier fashion than any books or magazines, and they also express  a lot more of the author’s personality in a much more direct way than any book or magazine article – which makes them a great fun to read. I like reading blogs when I get a chance, and generally I come across many different blogs as lots of them are referring to each other (very common practice in blogging world). However, while my blog reading is often sporadic, simply based on available time, there are some blogs which I’m making an effort to at least skim through on the regular basis (using Google Reader) – and this is the list which I would like to share with you. The list below has no prioritization whatsoever, and I add few of my thoughts as to what kind of content you can find in the respective blog.

  • 1WineDude – IT-convert Joe Roberts provides great insight into the world of wines. Lots of wines are reviewed using the A to F ratings ( no, I didn’t see a single F yet) as opposed to the popular 100 points scale.
  • Fermentation – very interesting blog, covering a lot from the world of law, consumer rights, politics and more – of course all centered around wine.
  • Serious About Wine – wants to see lots of new cool label designs? Flip through this blog’s pages, its worth it.
  • The Feiring Line – Alice Feiring is a book writer and a blogger with “unique and different” point of view. Love her wine descriptions written directly on the bottle’s label.
  • Dr. Vino – one of the best wine blogs overall, lots of interesting information tidbits from the wine world.
  • The Wine Economist – Great source of information about wine, lots of stats of all kinds – merlot versus pinot noir consumption in the numbers, most requested wine of the past year and so on.
  • The Gray Report – W. Blake Gray writes one of the most insightful and controversial wine blogs – I always love reading his posts. You should judge for yourself, though.
  • Vinography – Superblog of wine blogs – lots of information plus a comprehensive list of wine blogs on the Internet
  • Steve Heimoff Wine Blog – exactly as it says, a wine blog by Steve Heimoff, a wine writer and Wine Enthusiast magazine’s West Coast Editor. Lots of interesting information, especially as it comes to California wines.
  • Paul Gregutt Unfined&Unfiltered – Paul Gregutt is a wine writer and a Northwest Editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine. He writes about wines of Pacific Northwest.

That’s all, folks for my list of ten blogs I’m reading – if you like wine, check them out for yourself. Cheers!

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