Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas is Better in the Bahamas

This Christmas time I've been working instead of heading to an exotic location and drinking Margaritas until the new year.

It's now 12:30 AM on December 24th...Christmas Eve and wind is almost blowing out the windows and ths sound of sleet is slapping too.

That's it I have to escape Manhattan.

After a few web searchs on, and finally I find a nice package deal for the Bahamas at the Wyndham Nassau -Cable Beach. It's a direct flight from LGA so I can be in the sun in the afternoon. Check the forcast and it calls for low 80's perfect!

No traffic today so I make to LaGuardia in minutes and its just a 2.5 hour flight to Nassau - perfect. It about a 40 degree temp swing but I'm wearing a pair of Eddie Bauer pants that are perfect for this situation - the legs zip off to become shorts...exactly what I envisioned upon purchase.

Cool the golf clubs made it and its a quick taxi ride to the hotel - looks like its best days where decades ago, but there is a casino and the golf course is right across the street. I check out course and make a tee time to be 1st out on Christmas day.

On the way back is restaurant called Johnny Canoe's - where I down a few Kalik beer and enjoy Conch chowder and Blackened Grouper.

It's off to the casino - win 3 times on Roulette and its time to crash - I'm dreaming about golf tomorrow...1st tee time is 7:15.

Nice Christmas day golf and its warm - yes this is the present I wanted.

Cable Beach Golf Club is a par 71 at 6453 yards and its my 1st time on this track and I head out with no warm up. It's a magical day and start off with a 42 on the par 36 front and that includes a double bogey. I'm warmed up now on the back nine - Check out this drive over water on #11 287 yd par 4. Missed the eagle chip but walk away with a birdie 3.

I'm one over on the back and start thinking about my score and finish with bogeys on #17 & #18. Finishing the back nine +1 on the par 35. Wow that's still a 78 and as I told the starter it was possible to play 18 holes under 2 hours today my time is 1:55 not bad for a course that I haven't played before...

It's off to the beach to catch up on my tan. I'm on in Nassau for 25 hours, but what a wonderful day. We should enjoy every 24 hours like this.


Magnificat Vertical Tasting

"What is a vertical tasting?"

It's when you experience the same wine from multiple years. This can give you an idea of how the wine will age...better or worse. For me I really love wines around 5+ years old.

The vertical tasting was from Franciscan Oakville Estate, their Meritage blend call Magnificat (is named after a Bach overture) and all three wines with hitting the high notes and we agreed all the wine was magnificent!

The contenders: 2004, 2003 and 2002 Magnificat. Original retail price $50.00. Notice the new label on the '04 vintage.

This is a meritage blend with Cabernet Sauvignon normally the prominent grape and the rest consisting of 4 of the 5 Bordeaux grapes. There have only been two years where there was more Merlot than Cab...the 2000 and 2004 which we're tasting today.

The blends: in order of content.

2002: Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec
2003: 71% Cab Sauv, 25% Merlot, 2% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot
2004: 50% Merlot, 49% Cab Sauv, 1% Petit Verdot

- Wine opened 30 minutes before tasting at the recommended 66 degrees.

We started with the newest and progressed to the older vintages.

For a wine that was just released this year the '04 hits you up front with great fruit and a smooth clean finish.

Next is the '03 and you can already taste the difference with a lower percentage of Merlot - this is more like a big California Cab - very nice, but so far we digging the '04.

By the time we make it to the '02 that year has had another 30 minutes of aeration. The '02 is a "Wow" Still big up front and a very subtle black licorice finish. Its the only one of the 3 that contains Cab Franc and I feel that is the reason why we all liked this one better - definitely more complex than than the other two.

Second time around we liked the '03 a little better. The consensus was the '04 is great right now and will be amazing in a couple of years. But the '02 was "Amazing" now. And how can you go wrong when you but Cab Franc in the mix...which is always a winner for me.

And most likely after a vertical tasting you'll be horizontal...sooner than later... :)


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Holiday Parties & Weekend of Wine

Holiday parties are in full swing.
Friday we had the NY Media Party across the street at the Marriott Marquis. Our new boss christened her office with a pre-party in our offices. Not a bad way to start off the morning...bloody mary's, Vevue Cliquot, '98 Dom Perignon and some 2005 Cloudy Bay Chardonnay from New Zealand and a 2004 Simi Landslide Cabernet - and this was all the pre-game.

The following Monday we had our holiday party at STK, a steakhouse in the Meat Packing District. They have a sister restaurant in Hollywood on La Cienega. Wine was served from a magnum, which appeared to be GS (grocery store) so opted to stick with the Corona...which was a good call because we ended up at Kareoke 1 downtown and sang songs until 1:00 AM. My personal highlights were "Wonderwall" by Oasis and "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey.

Thursday crashed our sister station's holiday party at Taboon, 52nd in Hell's Kitchen.
They were serving a nice French Pinot Noir, but never got a look at the label. After saying Hi to everyone headed over to the CBS Media Party at Black Rock. This was quite the of the highlights was speaking with Harry Smith from the CBS Morning show.

A bunch of us had to work late on Friday so we did a little Pinot Noir comparison. A value 2005-Estancia Pinot Noir - Pinnancles Ranch ($16) versus 2005 Whitehall Lane Pinot Noir - Carneros ($36). (Note originally I incorrectly listed the Whitehall price at $50 which would still be worth it in my friends at Whitehall called and corrected me...sorry Tom)
Surprisily the Estancia isn't bad, but a little thin....very nice floral noise and not overpowering. Next we open the Whitehall -its hot and at first all we can smell is the 14.5 % of alcohol. This a new wine for Whitehall Lane...and well done for the inaugural release. It's a shade darker and has a much bigger finish. After 15 minutes the real bouquet of the Whitehall appeared - and to me it wasn't any contest...but considering you can drink bottles of Estancia to one Whitehall - its a great value, so one of our tasters would go by price...but to my taste buds I'll spring for the Whitehall anyday.

Winter storm warning was in effect for NY - so stayed indoors this weekend. Keeping the comparison going I opened a 2006 Ferrarri Carano Pinot Noir - Russian River Valley ($32). Aged in custom french barrels it features strawberry, raspberry and cherry cola with a hint of spice. Reminds me more of the Santa Ynez valley Pinots. It's already sold stock up on the Whitehall Lane, now that I know its only $36...I'm down to my last few bottles from the case I purchased.

Sunday winter has arrived in Manhattan and after 2 days of Pinot...needed something special to go with making chocolate chip cookies...found a 1996 Franciscan Library Reserve - Cabernet Saugvinon - Napa ($80 originally). The cork looks great and comes out easily which tells me that when they break in half at a restaurant they have the bad habit of storing there wine upright. Using the decanter - the color is still vibrant. Little earthy on the noise, has a touch black licorice with a very solid finish. The wind is whipping outside, but its nice and warm with my big cab inside...

Its the last week before Christmas which is extra work for the programming people. So one night this week I'm hosting a Franciscan Magnificat vertical tasting...'99, '01, '02, '03 and '04. We'll have to order more John's Pizza to make sure we get through all the wine.

And who knows maybe Santa will put a few surprises in my stocking this year.