Sunday, October 26, 2008

California Wine Experience in NYC

Manhattan - Wine Spectator hosts a few events in New York every year, the earlier one was the Grand Tour.

The California Wine Experience is an opportunity to the best that California has to offer.
Most people will never get the chance to taste this many fine wines in one location. It would take weeks to visit all these Napa wineries.

This time I tried to keep the order of the wines tasted for future reference.

1) Snowden Cab
2) Shafer Hillside Select (first Wow wine of the night)
3) Spottswoode (nice)
4) Silver Oak - Napa
5) Staglin -this is their blend (2nd Wow)
6) St. Clement Oroppas (nice but the other wines were bigger)
7) Joseph Phelps - Insignia (still one of my all time favorites)
8) Pride Mountain
9) Quintessa (very nice blend)
10) Lewis Cellars (for all the hype on this wine I was disappointed)
11) Plumpjack (SF's Mayor Gavin Newsome is one of the founders)
12) Paradigm
13) Opus One (a meritage blend before the name existed)
14) Pahlmeyer (Napa Valley Blend - this is fantastic)
15) Rubicon (best vintage I've tasted from them)
16) M by Michael Mondavi (1st time I've tasted his wine - very nice - lots of fruit up front)
17) Peter Michael (nice)
18) Nickel & Nickel
19) Neiman (blend 1/3 Cab, 1/3 Merlot & 1/3 Cab Franc)
20) Stag's Leap Wine Cellars - SLV
21) Sterling (very nice wine)
22) Chateau St. Michelle - Syrah (odd that a WA wine is at the CA Wine Experience)
23) Domaine Carneros
24) David Bruce - Pinot from the Santa Cruz mountains.

and this was just on the 6th floor, now down to the 5th floor

Rochioli Chardonnay (one of my faves)
Darioush (beautiful tasting room on Silverado Trail)
Duckhorn Merlot
Northstar Merlot (Another WA wine)
Araujo Cab - this is one of Napa's cult wine - fantastic!
Harlan Cab - another big Napa wine.
and topped off the night with Kevin from Bennett Lane - they used to call it Primus, but have dropped that moniker from their top of the line Cabernet.

There were some other great wines on the 5th floor that I didn't make it to:

Paul Hobbs, Dunn, Far Niente, Col Solare, Grgigh Hills, Chalk Hill, Groth, Girard, Hall,
Etude, and more.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Emerald Isle Golf

Took my first guy's golf trip to Ireland

Here are my favorite phrases of the week besides: "another Carlsberg beer..."

1) "Just a wee bit left..."

2) "This club will do you no harm" obviously my caddie didn't see me play Port Rush the day before...

3) "I heard a rumor that Irish golf courses actually have fairways"

4) "Have you ever considered playing tennis over here - we might be able to find your ball"

I had a great time and no golf clubs were injured in Ireland, but that might have been a good idea.

It was a trip of a lifetime - 10 rounds of golf on 8 days/7 nights on Ireland's best courses.

Luckily found a direct flight into Belfast:

Day One: Portstewart Golf Club with accomodations at Bushmills Inn.

Day Two: Ballyliffin Golf Club - "Old Couse" for two rounds

Day Three: Royal Portrush Golf Club - "Dunluce Course" for two rounds.

Day Four: can I stll walk? Royal County Down Golf Club - Slieve Donard Hotel

Day Five: County Louth (Baltray) Golf Club - Westin Dublin Hotel

Day Six: Royal Dublin Golf Club in the morning followed by The Island Golf Club in the afternoon.

Day Seven: The European Club

Day Eight: sleep the whole way back to New York.

Can't wait to see how different the golf courses are in Ireland - the weather will be unpredictable and the pubs should be fun - exactly which wine goes with fish & chips?

And I Learned a long time ago not to go drink for drink with the Irish...I think I've learned.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Stratus - Niagara Falls VQA

Stratus Winery has one of the best looking tasting rooms you'll see. And the wine was up to par with the new construction.

The have a nice white blend and ice wine too, but I was impressed with "Red" a blend of the 5 noble Bordeaux grapes and a little Syrah which creates a fantastic finish. And this helps take a way that thin taste in most red wines outside of Napa.

"Pretty Good Wine - Eh?"

They also make an impressive Cabernet Franc which flourishes in this region. And make sure you try their ice wine to harvest the temps have to be -7 to -10 for consecutive day, by the way that's Celsius.

And Stratus is the 1st "Leed" certified winery in the world making them eco friendly - more information at


note: VQA stands for Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario - Setting the standard for Ontario's premium wines.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Upcoming Party at Franciscan

This is one of my favorite parties at Franciscan:

Magnificat Release PartySaturday, July 12, 2008 at Franciscan WineryCome taste the latest release of Franciscan's flagship wine at this exclusive event open only to wine club members and their guests. RSVP to or by calling 707-967-3993.VIP Hour 12pm-1pm: $70 per person. Advanced reservations are required, attendance will be limited. Enjoy passed hors d'oeuvres and special library wines. Each guest will take home a bottle of the newly released 2005 Magnificat signed by the Franciscan winemaking team. Admission to the main event is included.Main Event 1pm-4pm: $40 per person. Continue the party with live music, barrel samples, fantastic food, and Franciscan wines.

Monday, March 17, 2008

City of Hope Wine Tasting

I'm hosting a table this year at the City of Hope Wine Dinner and Auction.

Saluting California Greatest Hits in Wine

1) Cakebread Cellars – Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Napa Valley
The blend of 89% Sauvignon Blanc, 7% Semillon and 4% Sauvignon Musque creates a mouthwatering aperitif. A rich vivacious white wine with enticing grapefruit, gooseberry, kiwi, green apple and hay aromas. Full bodied on the palate with green apple and citrus flavors. 91 pts - Connoisseurs' Guide

2) Rochioli – Chardonnay 2006 Russian River Valley Estate
The Russian River Valley in Sonoma County produces some of the best Chardonnays with hot summer days and cool nights. The wine boasts a multilayered texture with aromas of pineapples, peach smoke and butter. Produced with 50% new French Oak. Robert Parker consistently rates this wine from 93-94pts and it has scored 97 pts in WS.

3) Williams Selyem – Pinot Noir 2005 Russian River Valley
25th Anniversary. Aromas include blackberries, plums, cloves, black truffle, cola and crème brûlée. Rich tannins accentuate blackberry-plum which complement the creamy, silky, yet fat finish and spicy berry flavors. Robert Parker describes this Pinot Noir at its most seductive and opulent. 94-97 pts -WS.

4) Shafer – Merlot 2005 Napa Valley
The Shafer family is widely regarded as one of Napa’s best Merlot producers. A blend of 86% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Cabernet Franc from their Stag’s Leap and Yountville vineyards. 100% French Oak. Robert Parker says; “has an elegant bouquet of berry fruit, menthol, sweet cherries and spice” One of the biggest Merlots that you’ll ever taste. Consistently scores 92+ pts in WS.

VERTICAL TASTING – Different Vintages of the same wine

5) Whitehall Lane – Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Napa Valley
100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Commemorative Silver Anniversary Reserve bottle with a glass stopper. This classic, opulent Napa Valley Cabernet has aromas of black cherry and scents of creamy vanilla framed by toasty French Oak. Flavors of blackberry, mulberry and mocha with a long, silky smooth finish. Aged in French and American oak barrels for 25 months. 93 pts in WS.

6) Whitehall Lane – Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Napa Valley
A blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petite Verdot, this wine has a deep, intense color and a distinct fruit center that begins with black cherry, violet and currant aromas. Well balanced, elegant and sleek on the palate, delivering very long berry and cherry flavors through to the finish. James Laube says; “sharply focused and finishes with a long rich aftertaste.” Aged in French and American oak barrels for 22 months. 93 pts in WS.

7) Whitehall Lane – Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 Napa Valley
Wine Spectator ranked Whitehall Lane’s Cabernet #3 on Top 100 list and the Reserve scored even higher, but wasn’t eligible for the list due to limited production. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine has richly floral aromas of crushed flowers, violet and ripe cherry. The texture of this wine is generously fruity and delightfully silky with flavors of blackberry, blueberry and toasty oak. Aged in French and American oak barrels for 22 months. 95 pts in WS.

few bonus bottles: 1996 Bollinger Grand Cru Champagne and 2000 Flora Springs 25th Anniversary Cabernet - both magnum bottle.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Silver Oak Release Party

E-mail from Silver Oak:

2003 Napa Valley Release Day - February 2nd
Dear Brian,
Release Day is almost here! We hope you can attend the festivities on Saturday, February 2nd to celebrate the release of our delicious 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

If you are unable to join us, you still have the opportunity to pre-order the new release or Collector Edition online or by calling (800) 273-8809.

Silver Oak COO Tony LeBlanc draws a crowd while opening a 12 Liter on Release Day. This year, we are pouring a limited amount of our 1998 Napa Valley Cabernet from our library.

Join Us for Release Day! Date: February 2, 2008, Time: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Location: Alexander Valley: Geyserville Estate, Napa Valley: Oakville Estate

Invite a friend to Release Day.

This is Superbowl Weekend - nice combo - Super Wine Saturday followed by Super Bowl Sunday - Go Giants!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Ringing in the New Year!

A bunch of us had to work on NY's Eve so why not throw a little party when you have the best view in the world from my Times Square office.

To celebrate it was another vertical tasting this time with Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon vintages 2004, 2003 and a 1996 Mt. Veeder Reserve Meritage blend.

We started with the newest first. 2004 very pleasant fruit forward, then the 2003 little more must on the noise and a smoother finish, then on to the reserve granted its a Meritage blend containing all 5 noble Bordeaux grapes....lots of barnyard on the nose, but its only been open for 10 minutes...but it tastes much better like a French wine.

As the night progressed the extra year on the 2003 became more tasty and not until hours later did the '96 settle down and open up.

On the hours before midnight there is a countdown and they list the country where its became the New Year...Rio, Bermuda, and oddly one on the half hour Newfoundland then finally New York.

Leaving Times Square where it was civilized until we got outside the barricades on 8th Ave, still busy on 9th. But not too busy stopping in at Mr. Biggs on 10th Ave for a Turkey Burger to soak up all the wine.

Our offices are supposed to move downtown by next year, so this might have been my last one from Times Square.

But so happy it was another safe NY's eve in NY.