Sunday, December 31, 2006

Stocking up for 2007

It's hard to find some of my California favorites in New York. So I decided to stock up for the new year.

And thanks to a very generous 50% offer from my wine club there are 8 cases of wine in my office.

Choices for the new year include: (my prices - unbelievable!)

2004 Franciscan Oakville Estate Chardonnay - $9.00 Rich, ripe and exotic.

2003 Simi Chardonnay - $9.00

2003 Franciscan Oakville Estate Merlot - $11.00
This is a big Merlot - bucking the Sideways trend I'm enjoying Merlot more than ever! Rich ruby red with black cherry, spice and blackberry with just a hint of pepper.

2003 Simi Merlot - $11.00 Just enjoyed two bottles New Year's Eve from my office at Times Square to watch the ball drop. This is more typical Merlot that is fruit forward, but very pleasant.

2003 Franciscan Oakville Estate Magnificat - $30.00 One of the best Meritages for the price in the world. Composed from over 300 individual lots entirely by taste. This year's vintage offers blackberry, black cherry with hints of chocolate, chedar with a nice long finish.

2003 Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon - $20.00 Great Napa Cab! Rich and supple that is complex - will be even better in 2-5years.

2003 Robert Mondavi Russian River Pinot Noir -what a steal - sold out already! and

a special case of 2000 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - which was a really special deal normally $125 a bottle - scored this case for only $40 a bottle and now after tasting one I should have ordered more...It's every thing you want from a big cabernet.

At these prices the company allowed us to offer a case of wine for Christmas for all our full-time employees - nice to put in a +60 case order - our staff should be happy for a while.

Now the tough part for me because I walk to from work...How do I get the 96 bottles home and into rotation...guess if I take a few bottles home every day the project should be completed by March...

I'll add more tasting notes as I enjoy the wines.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thanksgiving Week of Wine

Now that my Dad is retired, I thought it would be nice to fly my parents out for Thanksgiving week to the California desert. Funny they had no idea what to expect - every time they heard me talk about it - they imagined a shack in the middle of the desert with a few cactus trees around. Little did they know how beautiful La Quinta is - with country clubs and golf courses on every block. And even the landscaping on the medians are well maintained.

Of course you have to get up and play golf every day - isn't that the law here? So my golf buddy Gary came down from Northern California to play too.
We had great rounds of golf at Silver Rock Resort (and did I mention breaking 90 in the round with the birdies on #10 and #18? Gary still beat me by a stroke!) Rancho LaQuinta Country Club and ended the week with an early round on the La Quinta Resort - Dunes course.

But of course Thanksgiving week was a good week of wine. Finally sampled some Beaujolais
with the old standby Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau Special Select didn't seem to be as special as last year.

The first night sat around the kitchen table and shared a 2001 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir - nice way to start the vacation.

With the 90 degree temperatures Chardonnays fit the bill - here's the consensus on the taste in order of their appeal; 2004 ZD Winery Chardonnay California, 2005 Sonoma Cutrer Winery Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, 2003 Flora Springs Wine Co. Chardonnay Select Cuvee Napa Valley and the winner 2005 Rombauer Vineyards Chardonnay Carneros.

With pizza one night opened 2001 Conn Creek Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley and when the decanter was almost empty thought I was opening a second bottle but it turned out to be 2002 Conn Creek Winery Cabernet Franc - so we made a little blend - it was fantastic.

For an early Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday had brought a magnum of the 1991 Franciscan Magnificat it was even autographed by winemaker Larry Levin - a Bordeaux Blend of 4 noble grapes was only missing Petit Verdot. That went fast so the back up was a few bottle of 2002 Franciscan Merlot.

With friends and family departing on Thanksgiving day I took my parents over to Arnold Palmer's Restaurant, we had a wonderful table outside next to the putting green. We ordered a few Bloody Marys to start as we took a look at the menu. They had a wonderful 4 course dinner for a reasonable $60 per person. Each course had 4 options - starters Risotto for Dad, Shrimp Cocktail for Mom and Tuna Sashimi for me - hey we had turkey yesterday. On to the second course - pear salad, iceberg wedge, lobster bisque. For the main course - we all opted for Prime Rib - the cut was so generous non of us could finish it. And by desert time we were all stuffed and ordered desert to go - some pecan pie. The nice touch was the bottomless glass of Gloria Ferrer Carneros Cuvee Brut, of course when you're not counting how many glasses you've had in the sun - we all ended up with an extended nap after dinner. But what a nice day with my parents. I'm so proud of them and my Dad is making a difference after Katrina as president of Habitat for Humanity in Picayune, MS (this is the 1st high ground outside of New Orleans 100 ft about sea level) - they hope to have 40 more houses built shortly. You can sponsor a house for a donation of $1500

While playing golf on the last day a few ambulances went by, guess to prepare me for the sounds of NY as I take the red-eye back to Manhattan all tan and somewhat relaxed. At least its supposed to be warm this week there. It was a very special vacation with my parents.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Roadhouse 747 in Central PA

We have a family cottage on the Juniata River in Central PA, so during the summers we used to go into town to a redneck bar called The Hill Valley Hotel.

And if you've ever heard the phrase "The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time" it applies to this bar.

Well that bar has been remodeled and just opened as the Roadhouse 747 Near Mt. Union PA - where? about 30 minutes west of Harrisburg off route 22 to route 747 - its not too far from Raystown Lake.
And they have LIVE music every Friday and big screen TV's for football too the Steelers are having a rough year so excepte more excitement for Nascar or WWE wrestling...some of the local favorites.

Last week I stopped by for lunch and the food was excellent and I was surprised that 1) they actually had a wine list and 2) the wine list was respectable with bottles of Chateau St. Michelle for $16 and drafts $1.25.

So if you find yourself lost in Central PA the Roadhouse 747 is one of the only bars around.
And yes the Girls Do Get Prettier At Closing Time...its been a long tradition for the local guys to not show up until midnight.

Should be fun next summer when we're at the cottage.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé in NYC - Where?

Every year it's a tradition to celebrate the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau from France.

It happens on the third Thursday of November when parties are thrown in France, the USA, and throughout the world! Wine enthusiasts like me will go out at midnight to be one of the first to sample this year's wine. So why not join the fun this year with a gathering chez vous?

The arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau is a great excuse to get together with friends and have some fun. In Lyon, most people get together and walk from bouchon to bouchon, sampling the different wines. You can bring the party to your house with these easy ideas. Choose your day: Thursday after work appetizer party; Friday Fondue Party; or linger a bit on Saturday with a special supper of Boeuf Bourguignon. Ã votre sante'!

This year being in New York, I'll get to partake 3 hours earlier, but I'm still looking for places to get that midnight taste? I will update my blog with locations as I find them.

Of course in NY if you really enjoy this year's Beaujolais - you could celebrate in each time zone, do a Central Time Zone tasting at 1am, Mountain at 2am and Pacific at 3am...and so on...if you're still there on Hawaii time its time to go work Bob!

Here's my recap from last year: (ven though Dave sold Seattle Cellars they will still have a party this year)

12:01 AM I was at Seattle Cellars in Belltown they're proclaiming "Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrive!" However you pronounce it en Francais - tranlation "the new Beaujolais has arrived!"

People are on hand for the first Beaujolais wine tasting of 2005!

As has been the tradition at Seattle Cellars, Pajamas are acceptable attire. Is this how they do it in France? Non!

They had 6 Beaujolais on hand for tasting starting with a George Duboeuf. Another great thing about the wine is the prices are reasonable from $8.99 - $12.00.

And if you missed the midnight tasting join them for another Beaujolais Nouveau tasting at the regular Thursday tasting from 5-7 PM at Seattle Cellars - 2nd/Wall Belltown.

Little history on the tradition - which I first discovered in New Orleans.

Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape and was harvested the 1st week of September.
Beaujolais is sold every year beginning the third Thursday in November. Not always as popular as it is now Beaujolais itself comes from the Beaujolais region of southern Burgundy (that's in France - not New Orleans where they say Bur Gun Dee).

Recently, Beaujolais has come into fashion, and the hype is you want to be one of the 1st people from all over the world to taste it.

You can credit the hype and endless self promotion to one Georges Duboeuf. You'll instantly recognize his Beaujolais Nouveau from its colorful artwork on the label.

Why all the hype - Beaujolais Nouveau is an easy to drink fruity wine. (Can you say Kool-Aid or grape juice?) Serve slightly chilled and its as close to white wine as a red wine can get.

Drink it now and enjoy - also a great wine to share on Thanksgiving!

details courtesy of

Friday, October 20, 2006

Fall Open House at Franciscan Winery in Napa

Napa - Celebrate the Harvest Season on October 28: Fall Open House at Franciscan Winery.

Franciscan is one of my favourite wineries in Napa - I've been a member for years and one of the great things about being in their wine club are the other brands that are also owned by their parent company - Constellation Brands. Which includes; Robert Mondavi, Simi, Columbia, Estancia, Ravenswood, Veramonte, Ruffion, Mt. Veeder, Tintara and Drylands. So you get to taste a wide varieties of wines in one club. The library is a beautiful room for parties.

Here is the invitation for the open house:

Everyone is welcome to join us for the complete Franciscan experience. They will be pouring thier current releases, special library selections, and offering barrel samples all paired with culinary treats created by our own Chef Morgan Robinson.

Discover what our Sensory Evaluation and Art of the Blend seminars have to offer and taste grapes fresh from this year’s harvest. Catherine Bergen joins us to sign copies of her new cookbook Gourmet Every Day and will be preparing delicious samples from her new book.

This is your opportunity to enjoy a wonderful afternoon during our favorite time of year! 12pm-4pm. $10 for Wine Club Members, $20 per person for guests/non-members. No Reservations Necessary
Learn More About Our Open House
Check out the Fall Foliage and enjoy some great wine. Hope to see you next weekend!


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Award Wining Wine List at West Bank Cafe

New York - One of the nice things about living in Hell's Kitchen is the close proximity to Broadway and the Theatre district.

For over 7 months I've walked by this restaurant and said "I need to try this sometime..." Well sometime finally arrived last week and I ventured into The West Bank Cafe on 42nd Street to check out the menu.

First thing I noticed on the menu was an award from Wine Spectator for their wine list.
The Maitre de tells me that the wine list at West Bank Cafe has been a source of pride and passion from owner Steve Olsen and his love of California bottles. They were one of the first to offer only West Coast Wines way back in 1978. (Back in the day when I was only legal for few months before they moved the drinking age back to 21 and when taste buds were attuned to Stroh's and Old Style in the Midwest)...but I regress...

Wow - another NY restaurant with a great selection of California Reds. The impressive wine list has several hundred labels including some big Chateaus and the big names including Cabernets, Pinot and some big names like Heitz, Far Niente, Opus, Pine Ridge, Joseph Phelps and more.

OK I'm in...Oh yeah what about the food? Let's just do the tasting menu and get a sample of what they do best and bring me the wine list, I'm looking for the best taste for the price.

Here it is...a Meritage disguised as a Merlot the 2001 Pine Ridge Crimson Creek Merlot a Bordeaux Blend of 76% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec. Yes if they wanted to pay the price they could call it a Meritage it has 4 of the 5 noble grapes and no one grape is more than 90% of the blend. So we're drinking a Meritage at Merlot prices!

The chef starts us off with a Shaved Winter Salad. Second course was one of my favorites and a repeat - Peppered Shrimp Salad with Florida Grapefruit. On to the main courses - Grilled Halibut (that was amazing) and the sliced Duck was also a repeat. To top it all off...another bottle of Pine Ridge and the Chocolate Trio desert.

Have to say this has been one of the best meals I've enjoyed in Manhattan and is walking distance from the apartment.

The West Bank Cafe is busy 'til 8pm like most restaurants in the Theatre District. So one of the best times to visit is between 8 - 10pm. After the pre-Broadway crowd and before the post-Broadway crowd.

For Contemporary American Food with an award winning wine list check out the West Bank Cafe at 407 W. 42nd Str. 212-695-6909

I'm finding them one by one...add this to your list of NY restarants with great California wine - I'll have to compiled the my whole list on a seperate blog.

This restaurant will be in regular rotation and don't forget on how to get the Meritage at Merlot prices!


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The End of an Era in Northern California

It's the end of era for me in San Francisco's East Bay.

For over 11 years I went to weekly wine tastings and traveled up to Napa, Sonoma and Livermore wine country a few times a month.

My house just sold, so with great sadness I'm back in Cali to pack up the remaining items at my ranch styled house.

But I'm ahead 0f schedule so why not one more trip to Napa.

I always love to go up through Silverado Trail and have always wanted to stop by the new tasting room at Paraduxx, a high end wine from Duckhorn that features two ducks on the label. Get it - pair of ducks. This wine is Zinfadel & Bordeaux Blend. The tasting is $10 and features a 3 year vertical tasting. One of most beautiful tasting rooms in Napa.

Friday is packing day - I pick up the U-Haul and head over to the house. Going to take a bunch of my stuff down to Southern California house. Patio Furniture, Weber Grill, Fountain, tools and more misc. items. Looking through things I decide not to haul all my gold records back to New York. So a quick trip to "I Sold It" on EBay and they agree to sell them - the collection includes Sting, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Guns & Roses and Milli Vanilli - collector's item.

My good friend Gary comes by later with a six pack to help me finish and he was a big help getting the patio furniture in the truck (after 4 beers for him & 2 for me) and I'm finished just in time to shower and head over to my old haunt - the weekly wine tasting at Wine Thieves - They Steal Wine so You Don't Have Too!.

Wine Thieves has two locations now - the original on Mt Diable in Lafayette and new location in Clayton on Clayton Road.

Tastings now are $1.00, but theirs a great tasting - and had to educate the distributor to pronounce "Meritage" like heritage - The Robert Young Meritage was a good value under $30. I'm exhausted so I head back to the hotel. Good news at the bar the corkage fee is only $15 dollars, so I run to the car and grab a bottle from yesterday's trip to Napa. A 2000 Mt. Veeder Reserve - delightful. And it went well with their brick oven pizza from Grissini's at the Concord Hilton.

Urggh - its early Saturday morning and its time to drive down to LaQuinta, a suburb of Palm Springs. Luckily I've brought my XM satellite boom box to listen to college football.
I'm listening to Michigan State - Illinois - hoping its a better week thant the ND disaster last week. MSU starts strongs, falls behind, ties it up and ILL kicks a game winning field goal with seconds left in the game. Oh well from the other scores I'm doing well in this week's football pool.

Finally make my way down I-5 to 210 E to 10 and there they are - the windmills, which means I'm close...just a few exits to go. The desert is hot, but so beautiful. It still surprises me that I love the area so much because I'm a water person.

My place looks great - time to put some shorts and t-shirts on and un-pack. It's so Hot. But unpacking goes a lot faster. Wow - ahead of schedule again...

And a weekend trip to the desert isn't complete without a trip to TREASURES OF THE VINE A brand new wine shop on the corner of Highway 111 and Washington

They have free wine tastings Friday night and all Saturday. And their selection is amazing.
You'll be greeted by Dustin Miller – the buyer/manager of this hip new spot. The owner Lance and often his lovely wife Shannon will be there too for their Saturday tasting Noon – 9:00pm.

Stop in and say Hi to Dustin, Shannon or Lance during your next visit to the Palm Desert-Point Happy LaQuinta Area it’s a great location next to another hot spot Okura Robata Grill - which is where I choose to have dinner - its a frantastic Sushi Bar and of course before I head back it Las be Casuelas Mexican food.

Sunday morning - up at sunrise for 18 at the LaQuinta Mountain course - wow its been two weeks since I've played, but start off with a bogie, par #2 the par 3 over water - 3 iron 190+ yards and its going to be a great day - final result 85 with only 30 putts - Tiger would be proud of my putting effort.

More unpacking - then a quick trip up to the main pool at the LQ Resort & Spa - couple of Modelo's and a Chicken BLT some suntanning and its back to unpacking.

Ahead of schedule again - I get a chance to do some random things to the house in preparation of the busy season. Thanksgiving to May is very busy in the desert. Snow birds, LA hipsters, Movie star and Canadiens - Eh?

It's been a productive trip, but sadly the end of an era for BT in the East Bay of San Francisco.
But I'll be back - often! Cali is in my blood...or is that the wine?


Monday, September 25, 2006

Wine & Roses Wine Bar & Cafe

Manhattan upper west side - In my endless search for a great wine bar in NYC, I'm on the subway...oops I'm on the E, not the A or C that I want and end up in Queens.
OK after backtracking I finally end up at 72nd street exit in search of Wine & Roses Wine Bar & Cafe. A wine bar offering 24 wines by the glass, 100 by the bottle, but alas only 25 seats and someone is having a birthday party.

Need to grab a bite so a block north is Cafe Frida featuring contemporary Mexican. Nice place very authentic, but we'll be the judge after tasting the salsa and chips. Try the chile experience featuring several different chiles - roasted tomatillo & serrano, chipotle, chile de arbol, chile mulato, Xni pe habernero and smoked pasilla. Add in the Camarones Quesadilla with a Pacifica you're all set...the wine will have to wait a few minutes.

On the way back there is finally room at Wine & Roses and so we belly up to the bar to get a look at the menu. Like a lot of NY wine bars there are a lot of French, Spain and Chile choices, but very few from California. The choices are not a "Wow" and therefore I don't even remember the brand. Too bad I don't want to make that bad choice again.

But aside from the lack of California choices this looks like a great wine bar. I really liked the fact that the owner handed me a menu over the bar when just walking in the front door. The service and decor was top notch.

Plus guys - there were 3-4 girls for every guy in there. A little wine knowledge would go a long way in having a good evening.

It's a repeat, only because of the service and the promise that the wine list changes all the time.

Wine & Roses Wine Bar & Cafe - 286 Columbus Ave (212) 579- 9463
Take the A or C subway north to 72nd street one block west.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

New Bar in Hell

LANSDOWNE ROAD is a brand new new bar that is sprucing up the 10th Ave & W. 43rd Street neighborhood in Hell's Kitchen.

Lansdowne Road is the name of both a road in Dublin, Ireland and a sports stadium located there, but generally refers to the stadium owned by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and is used mostly for rugby. Originally named the Marquess of Lansdowne. (thanks to Wikipedia)

Why name a bar after a famous road in Dublin? Well from the clientele the Irish really like to drink! Word of caution - don't try to match them beer for beer or you'll be crawling home!

One first things you'll notice is the cool bar - literally...the bar has the refrigerator lines running through the top in glass so you can put your glass on it to keep it cold. The same line keep several beers Ice Cold and produces a layer of ice on the outside of the tap. Only certain beer work - oddly enough the ones with higher alcohol content - Stella, Coors Light.

Last weekend was opening night and they had an open bar from 7-9pm. Never saw so many people texting their friends...and the crowd built very quickly.

The owner and bartenders all introduced themselves and have remember my name since...nice touch. A true neighborhood bar. There are several Plasma TV's for viewing your favorite sports - which is tough last week - we had the Mets & Yankees trying to clinch their divisions, College Football, US open and of course the Ryder Cup this weekend.

Standard Irish Fare on the menu - like Fish & Chips, but also check out their sliders and because one of the owners is from "Scruffy Duffy's" they have great wings.

The wine list needs some help with current offerings like Casa Lapostolle, a Cabernet from Spain. I'll help get some California offerings on the list...if just for me and my friends. Who says you can't watch football and share some great vino?

Another good place for pre or post Broadway show or off Broadway show like Jewtopia.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Vino - Versity at Divine Bar

Manhattan - Divine Bar West hosts "walk-around classes" with up to 36 wines every Tuesday from 6:30 - 8:30 pm.

Upcoming events:

9/26 Bubbles and Blinis - comparative tasting of prestige cuvees, vintage and non-vintage Champagnes, Cavas, Proseccos and Sparkling Wine from around the world.

10/10 Wine & Chocolate - Can't go wrong with spicy Zins, Syrahs, Late Harvest Desert Wine and of course more Champagne. Oh Yeah and Chocolate!

11/07 Big Beefy Reds - This is an "All BT" Tasting with dozens of big, bold, spicy, and meaty Cabernets, Merlots, Syrahs, Zins and more paired with an erray of Beef Hours O'Deuvres.

11/21 Tuscany & Parmesan - World class tasting of reds and whites from Central Italia plus cheesy Parmesan tapas.

Tickets for these events $35 in advance

Divine Bar West located at 236 W. 54th at Broadway.

If you don't make it to the Tuesday tastings - they have up to 100 wines that can be sampled nightly from 2 oz. taste up, full glass or the whole bottle.

Nice place to warm up before a Broadway me you'll be guaranteed to get in a quick nap during the 2nd act.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Pennsylvania Weekend - Fishing & Wine

Now that I'm working on the East Coast I've been visiting our family cottage on the Juniata River in Central PA. Which is just over a 3 hour drive from Manhattan (me driving - 4 hours for others...)

The change of the season is in the air and the trees are starting to show some color.

Awaking early Saturday morning the mist is rising off the river. I put my surf shoes and bathing suit on and get my fishing gear ready to go wading in the river. Good morning! the water is already cooler than just a few weeks ago...that will wake you up.

Today's target - Smallmouth Bass - pound for pound one of the strongest fighting fish there is!
Wading upstream using top waters and in just over an hour I only have few bite from undersized fish. Mostly because the water is so low this time of year - it's been only up to my knees so far. Need to find some deeper water - as I approach one of the islands in the middle of the river it starts getting deeper - now we're up to waist level - deep water for this part of the river. Off to my left I see something chasing minnows into the shallows. Quick cast to the spot and Bam! A Bass goes after my lure and the battle is this fish is taking out line...we have a contender...the drag is screaming...I have to chase after this fish if we're going to see how big it is...running downstream I catch up to the fish...and finally bring it up for a good look - nice 2+ pound fish - which is big - I'm only using Ultra Lite tackle and 4 pound test - so its been a battle. I admire the fish and carefully take out the treble hook from his lip and place him back into the water. Nice...this spot yeilded over 20 Bass - in my childhood fishing the stream I never encountered such a sweet spot. But the water is low and this is the only deep water so there stacked up, hungry and competing for food. What a nice way to start the day...but now it's off to sample some PA wine!

Grape harvest season in all ready in full-swing in Pennsylvania. It begins about mid-August and ends about mid-October (which is also a great time to see the Fall Colors).

So what types of wine can you find in PA.? The terroir and moderate climate provides some of the best grape growing conditions on the east coast. With over 90 wineries in the state, the roster of award-winning varietals includes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Catawba, Cayuga, Chambourcin, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Reisling, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Vignoles - and, yes, even methode Champenoise! There are a few I'm not familar with, but its fun to come up with some new favorites.

1st stop only because the GPS in the Mercedes says its the closest - Benigna's Creek Vineyard
Nestled in the pristine Mahantango Valley. The winery is situated at the highest point in the valley and on a clear day, you can see across the Susquehanna River, over 30 miles. (useless waterway fact for $1,000 Bob? - The Susquehanna is the largest fresh water source of the Chesapeake Bay)
This winery produces a wide variety of fruit and grape wines. Bring a picnic and sit on the porch and beautiful rear deck. Wines include Late Harvest $ 15.00 to fruit wines like Raspberry $ 10.00 to the tolerable Hessian Red $ 8.50, nice Cabernet Franc $ 8.00 and Chardonnay $ 8.00. Yes the wine is a bargain, but to my taste buds its commesurate to the taste for my California palate.

Mount Nittany Vineyard and Winery is the next stop in Centre Hall, PA. Guess I never knew where the name of the mountain lions originated for Penn State Nittany Lions. OK what is this fascination with sweet wine in PA? You know I never liked the wine my parents I know why - Hold the sugar Bob!
Aside from their sweet wine - they had some respectable Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Reserve, also some decent reds - Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and this is the second time today I've seen the Chambourcin - a light-bodied dry red; nice fruit flavor forward, with a hint of oak. Reminds me of Chevry something from France.
Also try their Bordeaux Blend called "Montage". Lots of American Oak in use here...hey we're deep in the woods what do you expect?

Oops why didn't someone tell there was a Penn State game? Oh well they won so everyone's happy! Traffic sucks - game just got out. But we make it back to the cottage safe and sound.

Makes for a nice escape from New York City.

For more info:


Sunday, August 20, 2006

1/2 Priced Wine with Brunch in Westchester

Tired of the cheap Champagne served at most brunches?

How about 50% off your favorite California wine?

Just 25 minutes north of Manhattan is this fantastic restaurant

Ruby's Oyster Bar & Bistro - 45 Purchase St Rye, NY 10580(914) 921-4166

First of all Ruby’s has amazing food everyday with fresh seafood and oysters from all over the country.

Then on Sundays they have an amazing brunch with items like Lobster Club, Poached Eggs over Shrimp & Crab hash, Portobello Mushroom burger. Lobster omelet and so much more.

But what has me coming back is the half-price wine on Sundays during brunch!

That’s right enjoy your favorites at 50% off! And if you don’t finish the bottle they cork it back up and bag it for take out!

So normally if you ordered two glasses of Chardonnay at $11 you’re paying $22.

Instead why not order a bottle of Sonoma Cutrer for $22 and get a whole bottle for the price of two glasses. Or go big white with the 2003 Rombauer Chardonnay priced at $60, but its ½ price! Way to go big spender!

Why stop there – since you can take it home how about a Flowers Pinot or jump into the big California Cabs like a 2003 Joseph Phelps Cabernet priced at $90, but at ½ off it becomes a steal – that was my choice today and a few weeks ago my choice was the Rodney Strong 2001 Symmetry a nice blend of the 5 noble Bordeaux Grapes also in the $90 range.

The list has some great wines like Silver Oak, Beringer Private Reserve back to 1994, Opus One, Howell Mountain and when its 50% off the regular price you can’t find these deals anywhere!

Rye is also accessible from the Metro North line which drops you back in Grand Central, Manhattan.


Friday, July 14, 2006


Occasionally I find very informative data on wine tasting that I simplify and keep on my blog.

Have you ever wondered where wine adjectives like “cherry, blackberry, cedar…” come from? Several grapes have naturally occurring aromatic compounds with fruits, flowers or herbs. While other aromas and flavors like butter, vanilla is a result of the oak barrels and the result of sometimes secret techniques used by winemakers.



1) FLORAL – Honeysuckle, jasmine in Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Muscat. Violet in Cab Franc. Rose aroma in Beaujolais and Pinot Noir.

2) FRUIT - Chardonnay & Sauv. Blanc typically shares aromas like pineapple, pear, peach and apricot. Some wine makers are leaving out the oak to produce wines with more fruit characteristics. Big red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon produce fragrances like cherries and berries. Raisin and prune flavors can be found in Zinfandels.

3) HERBACIOUS – Bell pepper sometimes in Sauvignon Blanc and in Cab Franc produced in cooler climates. (Not my favorite style of Cab Franc) Mint, eucalyptus and other vegetables aromas are found in Cabernet Sauvignon.

4) SPICES – Oak creates different levels of spiciness. Black pepper aromas are characteristics of Zin, Syrah and Cab Franc from warmer climates like Napa Valley.

5) OAK – Woody, vanilla and smoky aroma is created by the fermentation of wines in oak. Smokey aroma can be controlled by the style of “Toast” in the oak barrel. Most Napa Cab’s use a Medium Toast oak barrel. The nutty aroma comes from the aging in Oak.

6) BUTTER – This smell is a result of the secondary malolactic fermentation process which converts malic acid to lactic acid. Think Kendall Jackson Chardonnay – and you’ll know this flavor. Butterscotch aromas can also materialize.

7) CARAMEL – Aromas like cedar and honey derive from the fermenting and aging wines in oak. Pinot Noir may develop aromas like molasses or soy as its fruit aromas diminish – this was evident when I sample a 1990 Gainey Pinot last year – amazing! Cab Sauv and Merlot may take on chocolate aromas as they age. If you ever had a barrel sample of wine that was just put into a new barrel – it’s amazing how much flavor is impacted to the wine.

BONUS SMELL – BARNYARD – Found in the big Bordeaux from France. Yes if it smells like you're surrounded by cows and need to watch your step – its Francais.
Likely a result of the aging in reused French Oak Barrels.

Ignore the Smell and drink up – tastes much better than the aroma!


Source: direct mail piece from not available on their webpage.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Silver Oak Release Party - Alexander Valley 7/29

It’s always party time in Napa when Silver Oak holds one of its release parties.

Upcoming Release Day: Saturday, July 29, 2006

Featuring....2002 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Why only '02 when everyone else is on to the '03 and newer? Because Silver Oak keeps their wines in American Oak (yes American) longer than other wineries, which is one reason for its unique taste.Because of the crowds this weekend a lot of other wineries will also have special offerings. Tasting notes from previous years - the Alexander Valley is typically sweeter with fruit forward taste, while the Napa has always been hearty, beefy and chewy! I've always thought the Alexander Valley was the good value priced at $60 a bottle. See you there!

Here is the information borrowed from

More than a decade ago people started waiting outside our door to be among the first to taste our new release. Today we continue the tradition and would like to invite you to our 2002 Alexander Valley Release Day.
Again this year, small quantities of a desirable library wine will be released for sale and a selection of delicious hors d'oeuvres will be offered. At the Alexander Valley Estate large format bottles of older vintages will be opened and guests will enjoy live music in the fountain courtyard. In Oakville, Winemaker Daniel Baron will be on hand to sign bottles and Thomas Arvid will have a selection of his gallery on display. We invite you to reconnect with old friends and taste the 2002 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Time: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., sales will continue until 4:00 p.m.

Price: $20 per tasting, includes a complimentary Silver Oak wine glass. Wine is $60 per 750 ml bottle and the allocation is 12 bottles per person.
For more information, please call: 800.273.8809

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Weekly Wine Tasting at Divine Bar in New York

Manhattan Midtown – Finally found a weekly wine tasting that’s fantastic…it would only be better if it was free.

Divine Bar – 236 W 54th Str between Broadway & 8th

Event is called “Vino-Versity” casual weekly wine tasting to help you gain knowledge and experience by tasting multiple wine samples.

This week was "California Wine & Pizza"


Artesa Chardonnay – Carneros
Bernardus Sauv Blanc – Monterey
Luna “Freakout” a white blend, Silverado Trail – Napa
Cosentino Sangiovese, California
Clay Station Malbec, Lodi
X Y Zin 100 year vines Old Zinfidel


Monticello “Montreaux” Brut Sparkling NY, Napa
Luddite Arneis “Molto Bene”, Sonoma
Lindquist “La Verdad” Tempranillo-Syrah-Grenache, Central Coast
C & T Tailgate Zin, Napa
Amphora Syrah, Dry Creek
Ampora Petite Syrah, Dry Creek


Jade Mountain Viognier, Mt. Veeder Napa
Chalone Chardonnay, Monterey
Edna Valley Pinot Gris, South Coast
Domaine Chandon Pinot Noir, Carneros
Dynamite Zinfandel, Mendocino
Solaris Reserve Cabernet, Napa


Estancia Chardonnay, Monterey
J. Lohr Riesling, Monterey
“J” Pinot Noir, Sonoma
Maramonte Syrage (Syrah-Petite Sirah-Petite Verdot), California
Vince Vineyards Cabernet, Napa
Matanzas Creek Merlot, Sonoma
Silkwook Syrah, Napa
O’Brian Cellars “Seduction” Cabernet Blend, Napa

These tastings are $35 in advance and $40 at the door – but be warned they sell out in advance!

More information:

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wine in NY - North Fork of Long Island

New York - This month’s Wine Spectator had an excellent write up on New York Wine so it was time to rent a car and get out of Manhattan.

This is my first trip to the North Fork of Long Island. The first thing you'll notice is how peaceful it is to get away from the city – Wow I can hear birds singing – nice.

Wineries that I visited and would do so again:

Pellegrini Vineyards – First guy was in training – Sorry Bob – give me someone who knows what going on…luckily Chris Cornwell comes to the rescue and brings out some nice wine to sample. I was really impressed with their Merlots. ( I buy 1 reserve and 2 of the Estate) Beautiful grounds and nice for a picnic.

Bedell Cellars – nice write up in Spectator and they were right. They have some great blends, beautiful property and great artwork on their label. Mother and daughter working in tasting room were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

Raphael – This is a must stop because of the amazing tasting room that rivals many in Napa. The owners built it to resemble a Monastery – and it is heavenly. Ask for Sal he was very helpful.

Lenz Winery – One of their Merlots scored comparable to Petrus in a blind taste test. They also offer a Blanc de Blanc that is “still” and not sparkling, so it didn’t have the in-bottle secondary fermentation of wine to effect carbonation. Non! Méthode Champenoise

Corey Creek Vineyards – Nice property with a great porch overlooking the vineyard and make sure you taste their Raspberry wine – which would be great over gelato. Insider's Tip: Corey Creek is sister winery to Bedell, buying a tasting at either one gets you comped at the other.

Most wineries close at 5:00, but a few stay open until 9:00pm. Of course people tasting that late in the day are very entertaining.

Claudio’s (Est. 1870) on the water in Greenport is a great place for seafood and has become one of the most prominent dining and boating experiences on the eastern seaboard.

The wine region on the North Fork of Long Island isn’t Napa – you won’t find huge California Cabs, but the scenery is well worth your visit.

Directions: Take 495 East until it runs out at Riverhead – continue East until it turns into Hwy 25. Take it all the way up to Greenport and circle back around on 48 for an excellent adventure.


Monday, February 06, 2006


LaQuinta, CA – Found a great new place that took my mind off missing the Silver Oak, Trilogy and other big release parties up in Napa Valley last weekend.

I was escaping the Seattle rain again down in the Palm Desert and made a wonderful new find – TREASURES OF THE VINE A brand new wine shop on the corner of Highway 111 and Washington.

Looking at their great collection of California Cab’s and blends I was greeted by Dustin Miller – the buyer/manager of this hip new spot. I was looking at a Fisher Cabernet and Dustin said; “Have you had it?” I said; “No, but had heard great things…” So he say’s “Let’s Try It” And I was definitely impressed and of course and a result…walked out that night with some great bottles.

The next day met owner Lance and his wife Shannon for their Saturday tasting Noon – 9:00pm. Just one of their weekly tastings (the other one is on Wednesday’s for the locals).

Check out this tasting:

1) Artesa 2002 Sauvinon Blanc $21.99
2) Patz & Hall Chardonnay - $34.99 Always one of the best California Chardonnays.
3) Au Bon Climat – Santa Ynez Valley Pinot from the Sanford & Benedict Vineyards. $35.99
4) Ramey Claret $36.99 a blend of Cab, Cab Franc and Merlot. (FAVE)
5) Vino Bella 2003-Meola Vineyards/Alexander Valley. Bordeaux Blend with everything but Malbec.
6) Pine Ridge 2002 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. Cab/Merlot Blend. $37.99 (FAVE)
7) Astrale & Terra 2001 Napa Valley Syrah $29.99 – nose smells like Blueberry Muffins.
8) Venezia Meola Vineyards 2002 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - $52.99.
9) Solus Ad – Barbera D’Asti 1998 A wonderful Red Wine from the Piedmont region of Italy. $34.99

Bonus taste:

Titus 2003 Cabernet Sauginon.

Screaming Eagle Tasting coming up cost $250 and you get to taste 2 years of this cult wine from Jean Phillips and there are also hard to get wines on this unbelievable tasting. Share your tasting and you’ll get to experience some of the best wines in the world.

Stop in and say Hi to Dustin, Shannon or Lance during your next visit to the Palm Desert-LaQuinta Area it’s a great location next to another hot spot Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar and of course Las Casuelas and the Falls Steakhouse.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Cool Websites to Find Wine Tastings in Your Area

Just found a great website to stay up to date with Wine Tastings in Your Area and they have listings for all over the world!

One note - If you live in San Francisco and choose wine events in SF Area - you wouldn't see events coming up in Napa or Sonoma even though the counties are part of the SF metro. So Add Napa and Sonoma to your weekly e-mail.

Likewise in Seattle you have to choose Woodinville to see events that are in the Seattle Metro, but not within the city limits.


If you're single check out this one -

Monday, January 30, 2006

Just Another Rainy Day in Seattle

Seattle – Cabin fever is setting in…after all its only rained 40 of the last 42 days and this is the 15th weekend of rain...but who's counting? Yes, Seattle is living up to its rainy reputation this year...we were so spoiled last year with sunshine and 70's degrees in February.

So it looks like Golf is out of the question…after all who wants to wear chest waders and Goretex to play?

So wine tasting is a good distraction.

Destination – The Tasting Room - Post Alley near Pike’s Place Market.
And my luck Chris Dowsett the winemaker of Latitude 46 North named after its location on the map –Eastern Washington. Funny for some reason I remember living at 30 North/90 West…otherwise known as New Orleans. Enough with the GPS readings…on to the wine.
Chris (he) is on hand to educate, share blending stories and pass the day…

As a warmup I choose to start with a wine that’s actually from another Washington winery - Wineglass Cellars – The 2004 Chardonnay (In The Buff) $13 Crisp and clear because its never seen oak!

Now on to Latitude 46 North – the logo on the bottle looks similar to the Seattle Mariners.

1) 2004 Gewurtraminer Celilio Vineyard $20 – Nice surprise it’s a dry Gewurtz and very delightful.

2) 2004 Clifton Cuvee $18 This is a blend of 76% Syrah and 24% Grenache. Chris learned a lot of working with Shiraz (same grape-Aussie Spelling) from being an exchange student down under. This wine has nice start with fruit forward and very nice smooth finish from the Granache.

3) 2002 Vindication $29 Like to see that Chris bucking the (no Merlot) trend and is leading with 70% Merlot, 26% Cabernet, 4% Syrah. The wine doesn't qualify for being called a Meritage with syrah added, but is fantastic his premier wine. And this blend vindicates Chris as a fine wine maker.

The great thing about the tasting room is the tasting options…you can buy wine by the Taste (1 oz.), Sample (3 oz.), Glass or entire bottle.

Some items worth tasting during your visit…

Camaraderie Cellars2002 & 2003 Cabernet Franc $25 – The ’02 is better and is more representative of what you’ve come to expect in a Washington Cab Franc.

2002 Malbec - $32 What a wonderful delight to taste a 100% varietal that is normally just used in Bordeaux Blends.Some of the best Cabernet’s available for tasting are from Wineglass Cellars.
Listed in the order you should taste them:
2000 Cabernet Sauvignon $21
2000 Reserve Cab $28
2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Elerding Vineyard
this is the biggest and its worth the price of $45.

Yes its still raining and wine tasting is one indoor sport you can use to pass away the winter doldrums.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Great Tastes of 2005

Have you ever tried to keep track of the wine consumed during a's the partial list of was a very good year! Highlights are in Bold!

2001 Joseph Phelps Insignia

2000 White Hall Lane Merlot

2001 White Hall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon

1999 White Hall Lane Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

1999 White Hall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon

1998 White Hall Lane Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

2000 Pahlmeyer

1999 Pahlmeyer Meritage

2000 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon

1990 Gainey Pinot Noir (only 294 cases produced)

1997 ZD Cabernet Sauvignon

2001 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2001 Flora Springs Out of Sight Cabernet Sauvignon

2001 Flora Springs Holy Smoke Cabernet Sauvignon

2001 Imagery Cabernet Franc

2001 Imagery White Burgundy

2001 TAZ Barbera

2001 Franciscan Magnificant

2000 Franciscan Magnificant

1999 Franciscan Magnificant

2002 Del Dotto Cabernet Franc

2001 Del Dotto Cabernet Sauvignon

Bernard Moray Santenay 1er Cru “Passetemps” Cote de Beaune Burgandy

2001 Sanford Pinot Noir

Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2000 tasting:
2001 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rousanne, Grenache Blanc
2000 Domaine de la Janasse
2000 Chateau LaNerthe
2000 Chateau de Beaucastel
2000 Domaine de Beaurenard

4th of July tasting:
LeDucq Meritage Vertical '92, '98, '99 and '01

J Lohr Cabernet Vertical

2000 Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

2002 Flora Springs Wine Thieves

1999 Chateau Montelena Zinfandel

St. Vincent Primitove Sangiovese

2001 KAZ Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon

2003 Serra Estrela Albarino (Spain)

2002 Giradet Cellars “Baeo Noir” Pinot Noir blend

2000 Walla Walla Vintners Cabernet Franc

1998 ZD Cabernet Sauvignon

2000 Pahlmeyer Merlot

2000 Reverie Meritage

1999 Franciscan Magnificant

1998 Franciscan Magnificant

2002 Sanford Pinot Noir

2001 LeDucq (now Ehler’s Estate)

1999 Twomey Merlot (sister wine of Silver Oak).

Birthday Week Wines:
2001 Staglin
1995 Franciscan Library Reserve Cabernet
2002 Del Dotto "David"
2001 Quintessa
2002 Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

2001 Curtis Heritage Cuvee

1999 Hanna Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

1999 Merryvale Merlot

2002 Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir

2001 “Bommarito” made by White Hall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon

2002 Reverie Cabernet Franc

1999 Arrieta Cult Wine (Meritage) Super premium micro-winery featuring Bordeaux and Merlot/Syrah blends handmade in small quantities by winemaker John Kongsgaard in partnership with wine auctioneer Fritz Hatton.

2002 Moon Mountain Meritage

1998 Steltzner Cabernet Sauvignon

1997 ZD Cabernet Sauvignon

2001 Stag’s Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon

2002 Wente Pinot Noir and French Bordeaux

Plus many more…!

Don't even want to put a price tag on this list...but Wow!