Friday, November 19, 2010

Magical Golf Week

Lake Buena Vista - It's the last PGA Tour stop of the year and I arrive at Orlando International for my magical golf week playing in the Children's Miracle Network Classic for the 2nd year in a row.

6 day until show time so there's plenty of time to get in a little golf practice in the DisneyWorld area.

Saturday my buddy Bob joins me for a round at Lake Buena Vista and I break 90 - we're off to a good start.

Sunday there is a chill in the air and my caddy Jeff who plays on the Golden State Tour joins me for a wonderful round at the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club - voted one of the Top 3 clubs you can play in Florida. First tee Jeff snap hooks one into the weeds and I hit a beautiful draw down the middle - who's the pro here? Driver, Gap Wedge, easy par, easy game. This course starts you off easy and then hold on...shoot a 93 in the wind.

Monday back to Lake Buena Vista and we play it from the back tees and I break 90 again, feeling good about my chances in the Pro-AM.

Tuesday we're signed up for practice round on Disney's Magnolia course - this course just looks right to my eye, big fairways and big greens. We zip through the front 9 and we see Rich Beem cut in front of us on 8 and the whole course backs up. PGA Tour Member Jerry Kelly who had been playing behind us catches up to us on the 10th tee and we tell him about Rich and Jerry says; "Those damn pro's think they can cut in anywhere..." And we immediately love Jerry. He says if its slows down he'll wave us up. We had already teed off, so we watch Jerry blast one down the middle, ride out and hit his next shot to the middle of the green. Jerry is practicing putts from all over the green and waves us up. Well I just couldn't aim at him so I'm in the left bunker. I get up to the green and enter the bunker and Jerry goes; "What are you waiting for? we're going to play the back nine together..." Jeff and I play excellent golf with Jerry on the back nine to the point on #16 after we both put our par 3 shots inside his and he goes; "I'd be in trouble with this group..."(as in he'd be losing $$ if he was giving us strokes)"

Have to say that was one of my most enjoyable nine holes in my life and just the right amount of pressure I needed to be ready to play in the Thursday-Friday Pro-AM inside the ropes. We take pictures after the round and hope to pick him in the pairings party tonight, after all last year we played with Troy Kelly (no relation) but think that's our destiny.

Tuesday night at the pairings party we pick 7 from last and choose Dean Wilson and Alex Cejka. (editor's note': In hindsight Roland Thatcher was still available and he shot 63, 64 in the 1st two rounds but we played with him the year before and he shot 75 and missed the one of my friends joked he plays a lot better without me...very funny)

Wednesday practice round on the Palm course and almost have a hole in one on 16 so I'm feeling good about my game.

Thursday showtime on the Palm course with Dean Wilson my partner for today and Spencer Levin also in the group. I go the putting green for 40 minutes, off to the range, bunker, shot game practice and more putting. We get to the tee and because of the fog tee times are delayed by an hour. So its back to the putting green. Finally its our time to tee off. "And from New York, New York its Brian Thomas" We start on #10 and hit my 3 wood remembering there's a lot more room down the left side and we're off...when two of the ladies from the Chrildren's Miracle Network Telethon's yell "We Love You Brian..."and Dean Wilson makes a joke that I have a bigger gallery than him. On the Palm course the only hole I'm worried about is our 3rd of the day the par 3 #12 180+ yards that the day before a PGA Tour official is on the green trying to determine pin placements and I shanked two off into the woods in his presence. I hit my 4 iron over the flag to the fringe and I am relieved...chip up and make my 3 for 2 and I'm ecstatic. So the adrenline is flowing so much that on the par 5 #13 over 2 lakes I hit my biggest tee shot of the week just in front of lake #2. I'm left with 177 yard all over water and just to be safe hit the 4 iron and WOW! I cleared the lake and the ball rolls up on the fringe pin high. There in 2! Putting from the fringe and just miss tapping in for Birding just missing the natural Eagle, but it's still a 3 on the score card and we're in the red numbers. On the par 4 #14 I hit a big shot into the wind but land in the left fairway bunker with my ball right against the lip on the left side. I'm 205 out into the wind and I can't stand in the trap, so I bend my knees and take a big swing and put my ball on the green...and I'm thinking to myselft"I don't know whose this guy is but I love his golf game..." You know its a good day when I didn't lose a ball until after14 holes. Dean Wilson looks back and says Wow! I end up at -4 under par and Dean is EVEN par. Since Dean is Hawaiian he likes my joke about my idea for Mexican/Hawaiian restaurant called "Mucho Mahalo" much better than he like his game on Thursday and Dean fails to make the cut.

Friday its an early tee time on Magnolia, but my Pro AM partner Alex Cejka withdrew from the tourney. This take a lot of steam out of my effort on Friday, but we get to play with Mike Hulbert from the Champions Tour and have a great round. Missed another Eagle and lots of birdies on Friday. Funny the other pro Greg Owen and I are both wearing the same Adidas Aqua colored shirt. Sorry Greg.

Final tally I finished 7th...seventh from last. But did so much better this year.

Some of the restaurants of the week:

Narcoosee's at the Grand Floridian - great steaks and wine list and view of the fireworks in the Magic Kingdom.

California Grill - atop the Contemporary Hotel - amazing food and a wine list I love with lots of my faves from Napa.

But the one that stands out is Flying Fish Cafe in Disney's Boardwalk area. Their seafood is amazing including the
Signature Flying Fish Cafe Potato-wrapped Red Snapper - Served with Cream Leek Fondue, Veal Glace and Red Wine Butter Sauce. - $36.00
Signature Flying Fish Char-crusted New York Strip Steak - Served with Wilted Greens, Grilled Asparagus, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Classic Sauce Foyot - $42.00
But the real highlight was the wine. "Pahlmeyer Flight"
  1. Jayson by Pahlmeyer Chardonnay '07. The second label of the winery. 100% native yeast, barrel fermentation, followed by malo-lactic fermentation.
  2. Jayson Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir '06.
  3. Jayson Napa Red '05. A Merlot based Meritage blend.

And on Sunday there was time for one more last round of golf and we had the Palm course all to ourselves and my playing partner was John Schneider - yes that one from Dukes of Hazzard. What a great guy I would tee it up with him anytime.

So I'm a miracle maker for another year but real special thanks goes Al, Craig, Steve, Bill, Pat and everyone at the Children's Miracle Network working together to make a difference in the lives of Children. This year with radio station WCBS-FM in NY we raised over $250,000. Kevin at Disney Golf, Carrie Bronson at WDW Fishing excursions who was our cute guide on Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. And to my caddy Jeff Wade - who plays on the Golden State Tour - hope you make it on the big tour one day!

It was a very magical week in Orlando and hope I get the opportunity again next year...


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Grand Tour 2010

Manhattan – This is Wine Spectator’s 9th annual Grand Tour event and this was my 4th year in a row in attendance. The event is at the Marriott Marquis which is just steps away from where the car bombing attempt was last weekend.

And this year my old boss Chad and former co-worker Glen joined me after a huge base meal over at Virgils.

Our first taste of the night is Chateau Mouton Rothschild, than Chateau Lafite Rothschild what a way to start.

Here are the wines in tasting order:

1) Chateau Mouton Rothschild – Pauillac 2003

2) Chateau Lafite Rothschild – Paulliac 2004 (Almost too smooth – liked it better than Mouton)

3) Chateau Pinchon Longueville Baron – Paulliac 2006 (no battle to the 1st two Chateau’s)

4) Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley Reserve 2006 (This is a huge wine and will be amazing in 3-5 years)

5) Chateau Pontet Canet – Paulliac 2006

6) Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve 2006 (My friend Keith is pouring and this vintage is amazing! One of their best will easily get a rating over 90pts)

7) Turnbull Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Weitz Vineyard 2006 (very nice)

8) Chateau St Jean – Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Co Cing Cepages 2006 (big fruit and a milder finish than the Mondavi or Turnbull

9) Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Special Selection 2007 (big wine)

10) Chateau Hau Bailly Grand Cru Classe – Pessac-Leognan 2007

11) Ten tastes in and we revisit the big Chateaus #1 and #2 again – this time I like the Mouton better.

12) Same as #2

13) Bodegas Caro – Mendoza 2006 made by Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)

14) Rubicon Estate Rutherford 2006 (nice Bordeaux Blend)

15) Penfolds Shiraz Barrossa Valley RWT 2006 (this is huge)

16) Torbreck “The Factor” Barossa Valley 2006 (huge Shiraz blend)

17) D’Arenberg Shiraz McLaren Vale “The Dead Arm” 2006

We take a bathroom break and head up to the 6th floor and we’re not even a full hour into event.

18) Chateau Haut Brion - Pessac Leognan 1999 (This is the first big WOW of the night and might be the best wine of the night – some other would give this a run for the money if we were comparing same vintages)

19) Chateau La Mission Haut Brion – Pessac Leognan 1999 (Nice but #18 was so much better)

20) Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Georges de Latour Private Reserve 2006 (and what surprised me years ago this Latour no relation to the big French chateaus)

21) Chateau Brane-Cantenac Margaux 2000

22) Chateau Palmer Margaux 2001 (always one of my faves, just a hint of coffee grounds on end of taste – like sprinkles in the your ice cream)

23) Chateau Margaux 2001 (2nd big wow of the night)

24) Chateau Lynch – Bages Pauillac 2005

25) Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa Valley 2006 (my favorite wine year in and year out – rumors flying that the 2007 could rate 100pts)

26) Gemstone Tenth Anniversary Yountville 2006 (This is our sleeper pick as a future cult wine – for this wine to taste that good after the Margaux and Insignia – this wine rates!)

27) Chateau Lagrange St. Julien 2006

28) Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Private Reserve 2006 (last year they were pouring the ’95…this one needs a few years)

29) Ferrari Carano Tresor 2006

30) Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2006 (very nice huge cab)

31) Agricola Punica Isola dei Nuraghi Barrua 2006 (Italian pick from Chad)

32) La Spinetta Barolo Vigneto Campe 2005 (Another Italian pick from Chad)

33) Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2004 (Chad pick, but is all prunes up front on the taste)

34) Merry Edwards Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Klopp Ranch 2007 (Another wow, maybe one of the nicest pinot’s I’ve ever had – touch of flat cherry coke taste).

35) William Selyem Sonoma Coast Pinot 2007 (very nice)

36) Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2008 (This is huge!)

37) Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay 2007 (one of my favorite chards, we drank this trying to help our purple teeth to no avail…LOL)

38) Schramsberg Reserve North Coast 2002 (Amazing California Sparkling wine)

39) Louis Lator Corton Grand Cru – Charlemagne 2007

40) Frogmore Creek Pinot Noir Tasmania 2006

41) Aldo Conterno Barolo 2005 (very nice)

42) Paolo Scavino Barola 2005 (nice)

43) Roberto Voerzio Barolo 2005 (a 99pts wine)

44) Symposium Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2003

45) Bodegas Colome Malbec 2007

46) Another taste of Chateau La Mission Haut Brion – Pessac Leognan 1999

47) Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Mt Veeder 2006 (will have to remember this one – nice wine)

48) Cliff Leade Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Poetry 2006 (nice)

Back to the 5th floor

49) Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore 2007 (another Italian pick from Chad)

50) Dow’s Vintage Port 2007 (Arnold the NE rep from Premium Port Wines is on hand – he has some great Ports ran into him a few months ago over at Javitts center tasting where he was pouring Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port – good to see him again)

51) Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma Co Old Vine 2006

52) Mollydooker Shiraz McLaren Vale Carnival of Love 2007 (I know we’re at taste #52 but this is a huge thick and juicy wine)

53) St Clement Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Oroppas 2006 (that’s Saporro spelled backwards)

54) Then we head back to hang out with Keith from Bennett Lane and enjoy more of his Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve and we head home with a few bottles as door prizes – Thanks Keith and today is Cinco De Mayo so the party continues…Muey Bueno!



Sunday, April 11, 2010

Masters Merlot Challenge

Final round of the masters has been very exciting...Phil Mickelson took the lead and some of my La Quinta neighbors were making it interesting - Anthony Kim (LQ County Club) charging and 50 year Freddie Couples (Madison club) could have been a contender without a bogey and double bogey on the back nine.Tiger up and down round - still exciting to watch.

Its a nice day in the 70's in the NY and to make today's Masters Coverage even more interesting - put a few Merlots into the mix.

1) Duckhorn Decoy Merlot - 2007

2) Robert Mondavi Merlot - 2006

3) Franciscan Oakville Estate Merlot - 2003

Day in and day out for the price hard to beat the Franciscan - always has a nice crisp oak finish.

Duckhorn for being the newest of the bunch is very tasty.

And have to say over the years have become a fan of the Mondavi - its actually the biggest of the 3 and I suspect some Cab is in the mix too.

Phil still has the lead and after the year with his wife Amy& his mother both having breast cancer it would be great to see him win again - Green Jacket #3. We'll see what happens.

It would have been great to see Freddie a member of the 50+ crowd to win.


Monday, March 22, 2010

4th Annual Taste of Hope

This will be my 3rd year sponsoring the wine for a table at the "Taste of Hope" benefiting City of Hope. I've enlisted some help from Joe to help with the French wines because this year's theme is based on the movie "Bottle Shock" which I'm calling:
Paris Wine Tasting– Pt. Deux in NYC

The movie “Bottle Shock” tells the tale of the “Paris Wine Tasting of 1976" with French judges and a blind tasting of Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon from California and France. California wines won the competition! On Wednesday night 3/24 we offered some new battles! California won a lot again!

Opening Toast - Champagne vs. California Sparkling Wine:
NV - L. Aubry Fils Brut Champagne – 91pts WS
NV - Schramsberg Brut Ros̩ Mirabelle North Coast Р93pts WS

Chardonnay vs. Burgundy (White):
We have 3 of the top 4 from Paris Wine Tasting including the winner!
2007 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, Napa – 90pts WS
2007 Chalone Estate Chardonnay, Napa – 92pts WS Wow!
2005 Girardin Puligny Montrachet – Les Folatieres – 93pts WE
2007 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Meursault Premier Cru – Les Charmes 92pts WS Nice!

Pinot Noir vs. Burgundy (Red): Not in PWT
2002 Cakebread Pinot Noir – Carneros 89pts WS Surprised everyone!
1993 Laurent Nuits St. George – Les Vaucrains 96pts RP

2006 Joseph Phelps Le Mistral – 92pts WS Another Wow!
2003 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape - 94pts WS

Bordeaux: Cabernet Sauvignon:
We have 3 of the top 5 from PWT including the winner!
1996 Stag’s Leap Fay Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa – 92pts WS
1997 Ridge California Monte Bello – 91pts RP Very Nice
1988 Leoville Las Cases – 95pts WS My Fave
1998 Chateau Quinalt - L’Enclos – 94pts RP

Vertical Jump 10 years - Meritage: Joseph Phelps Insignia
2005 Insignia 92pts WS Amazing!
1999 Insignia 91 pts WS
1995 Insignia 94pts WS - Excellent!

1983 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port – Portugal – 94pts RP

Monday, March 15, 2010

Discovering Wines on Moving Day

What's funny you can live in Manhattan, pay 3.5% city tax and look at New Jersey or live in New Jersey and look back towards New York.
Spend the last year in Jersey City on Hoboken side of the tracks and I mean right on the track...just moved to Jersey City-Newport area right on the water.
Before and After...

I like trains a lot, but not so much when you live on the tracks...that's just a little too much Cho-Cho.
And my first love is the water, so having the Hudson River in your backyard is hard to beat.

Good news on moving day I found a bunch of wines I didn't even know where there...
  • Nice vertical of Whitehall Lane Cabernets 1999, 2001, 01 Reserve and 2002 Reserve.
  • Flora Springs Rutherford Hillside 1999, 2001.
  • A vertical of Flora Springs Trilogy - 3 years.
  • Vertical of Magnificat back to 1999.
  • Vertical of Mt. Veeder Cab back to 2001.

And a lot more wine I need to drink now. Everyone should clean out their cellar every so often - bet there are bottles you don't even know you have are in prime years for drinking.

Finally peace and quiet while working in New York - now I wake up to the sounds of Geese. Whew!


Friday, March 05, 2010

Fresh Night of Wine for Women at City Winery

CBS Radio invites you to a "Fresh Night of Wine" for working women next Thursday
3/11 at City Winery, 155 Varick Street SoHo Manhattan.

Tastes Amazing Wines from France, Italy and California paired with a tasting menu from c
celebrity chiefs ANNE BURRELL and LEE ANNE WONG.

Celebrate for the all inclusive price of $75 and guys don't worry you're invited too.

It's a Fresh Night of Wine for Working Women, Next Thursday 6PM at CITY WINERY on Varick in SoHO MANHATTAN


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wine Spectator's "GRAND TOUR" in NY 5/4

Wine Spectator puts on two event a year in Manhattan and this is the one you don't want to miss.

WINE SPECTATOR's Grand Tour describes as tasting event you will remember for a long time to come. Read about last years event below where Harlan Estate Cab was my favorite wine of the night.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010Marriott Marquis 1535 Broadway7—10 pm Order Tickets Now

• All wines are Wine Spectator's top-scoring selections
• Meet and mingle with many winery owners and/or winemakers
• Taste wines that are hard to find—discover new favorites
• Includes a light buffet to complement your evening
Tickets are $200 each

You will never have the opportunity to taste so many of the world's finest wines side by side by side. So how does Joseph Phelps Insignia stack up agaist Chateau LaTour go and you'll know...see you there.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Walt Disney World Visit

Lake Buena Vista, FL - We're at Walt Disney World for a live broadcast with NY Radio station Fresh 102.7.

And also had some great new restaurants like Kouzzina a new restaurant at Disney's Boardway from celebrity chef Cat Cora featuring Mediterranean style cuisine and one of the highlights was her wine called "Coranation" this is a joint effort with Cat and Marco DiGiulo of Girard Winery. She is producing a Russian River Chardonnay and Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir - both wines are fantastic and affordable too.

And traveled across town to Winter Park for "The Wine Room on Park Avenue" this wine bar features the enomatic wine serving system so you can sample different wines from around the world including Screaming Eagle for $75 2oz taste. Why not?

And of course we found time for rounds of golf at Shades of Green course Palm and Magnolia. Morning man Jim beat me by 1 UP in matchplay over 15 holes and family friends Ken & Cheryl joined me on a unseasonalby cold Saturday morning where Ken was nice enough to let me win. The sun finally came out at noon and we went over to Osprey Ridge for a great lunch.
The Orlando area sure has changed from my days there in the 80's. One of the highlights was stopping at the outlet malls where visiting the Adidas store I purchased every color of mock turtle necks for my return to NYC.
Next working adventure is off to Sandals in the Bahamas in April...can't wait its snowing again in NY...brrrrr.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Arnie at Luna Wine Tasting at the Cellar in Old Town La Quinta

Even though it was pouring outside - everyone was in good spirits, after all it was Bob Hope Classic week in La Quinta and Arnold Palmer was on hand for a Luna Wine Tasting at The Cellar in Old Town.
Luna produces some fine wines including Sangiovese and a Arnold Palmer Reserve Cabernet.They also have a line of wine with Arnold Palmer's name and it is the house wine at his restaurant "Palmers" in La Quinta.
It's a great week when you meet Arnold, break 90 a few times and even see Big Horn Sheep at the Palmer Private course at PGA West.
Old Town La Quinta is a great spot with Hog's Breath Inn, Devanne's, Desert Sage and El Ranchito all with in a few blocks of each other...-Brian