Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wolfer Estate

It was late May for my last week in NYC and we're heading out to Gurneys for last "live" broadcast for CBS-FM with Dan and Bob.
We make a pit stop at Wolfer Estate on the South Fork of Long Island in the Hamptons.
Wolfer Estate is one of the gems with very beautiful grounds and some amazing wines.
Pam was so enthusiastic about the wines and she was right. We enjoyed Chardonnay with no malolactic fermentation.

• 2008 Merlot with a little Cab Franc in the blend

• 2004 Cab Franc

• 2008 Cab Franc Caya

• 2010 Red Letter Blend

• 2007 Fatalis Fatum Red Blend

And a very unique wine called "Merliance" a Merlot blend Wolfer makes with 6 other wineries. Each sharing the Merlot for the blend. This is a really nice wine.

Any time you're heading to the Hamptons - stop by Wolfer Estate one of the best wineries in NY.


Saturday, December 01, 2012

History of Meritage - Revisited

Still seems to be confusion about Meritage - so we revisit with updated information.

As interest grew in creating blended Bordeaux-style wines, the members sought to create a recognizable name associated with high-quality blended wines, instead of merely labelling them as "Red Table Wine" (or "White Table Wine") or giving them proprietary names unique to the winery.

In 1988, the Meritage Association hosted a contest to conceive of a name for these wines. They received over 6,000 submissions. Neil Edgar of Sacramento won by suggesting Meritage — a combination of the words merit and heritage (and which rhymes with the latter). This is an American word folks and as cool as you think it sounds rhyming it to sound like (garage) it is not pronounced or like Hermitage which is French. You couldn't expect a guy from Sacramento to come up with a French pronunciation.

BONUS: As a reward for winning this contest, Mr. Edgar was awarded two bottles of the first ten vintages of every wine licensed to use the Meritage brand.
I did the math – there are over 100 wines using the Meritage label so Neil is the proud recipent of over 2,000 fantastic bottles!

Meritage defined:

Red wine from Bordeaux is made with certain grape varieties, principally Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. A red Meritage must be made from at least two of these grapes (or the less well known St. Macaire, Gros Verdot, and Carmenere), and no single varietal may comprise more than 90% of the blend.

White Meritage bears the same relationship to white Bordeaux as its red counterpart. It is a blend of at least two of the grapes Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Sauvignon Vert.
Although not stipulated by the licensing agreement, the Meritage Association strongly recommends that wineries label only the blend that they consider to be their best as Meritage, and that they limit production of such wines to no more than 25,000 cases.

"Meritage" is a registered trademark and can only be used by wineries that agree to the Meritage Association's licensing agreement. This stipulates the types of blends that can be labelled "Meritage" (discussed above), also must pay a fee of $1.00 per case of wine produced, capped at $500.00 per vintage) and that they abide by wine labeling restrictions


Tuesday, March 13, 2012


 New York - (March 22) Total Sell Out for 2012 and we helped raise a record amount of money for a good cause City of Hope.
And it was great to see our Industry friends and of we didn't have a bad wine all night.
At my table (#1) we brought back the winning wine label from last year to face a new challenger.

Chad Brown surveys the wine

Table #36 (hosted by BT)

Champagne Toast - Salute!
1)  Veuve Clicquot Brut Rose' 

"Chardonnay Challenge"
2)  2009 Lewis Cellars Chardonnay Russian River 95 pts.WS #23/Top 100. (Winner from '11)
3)  2009 Pahlmeyer 95 pts Robert Parker. One of the top Chards in California.
These two wines were too close to call, I could hardly tell the difference.

"Please Mr. Pinot"
4) 2007 Chasseur Sonoma Coast 96 pts Only 284 cases made. Last years' winner.
5) 2007 Seasmoke Foxen Sta Rita Hills. 92 pts Only 470 cases made.
 Lots of interest in the Chasseur, think it benefitted from being served 1st, because it hits you with big flavor up front, while the Seasmoke was big and smooth start to finish.

10 years of 2000's Cali Cabs
We served the next wines in groups of two.

Napa Cabernet's from the 2000 decade.
6) 2009 Caymus Special Select Cabernet Sauvignon 93 pts
7) 2008 Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 96 pts
Both amazing wines, too close to call, Caymus was a little more fruit forward.

8) 2007 Chateau Montelana 94 pts
9) 2006 Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 96 pts biggest one of the 2000's
This was not test - Mondavi killed the Montelana. And was one of the top wines of the night.

Marc Chase & Rich Meyer still alive after 6 wines

10) 2005 Jarvis "Lake William" 95pts Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend.(39% CS, 34% CF/24% MR, 3% PV).
11) 2004 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace 92 pts. 2011 winner.
Jarvis was a sleeper and if you liked Cabernet Franc, you really liked this wine, it made the Diamond Creek seem thin.

12) 2003 Joseph Phelps Insignia 96 pts. Cab. Sauv 84%/Petit Verdot 10%/Merlot & Malbec 3%.
13) 2002 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 91 pts
Who can win vs. Insignia? On its own the Whitehall would have been a standout. Insignia one of the top wines of night.
14) 2001 Flora Spring Hillside Reserve 92 pts
15) 2000 Harlan - The Maiden 92 pts special contribution from Jim Ryan who can't attend this year.
After tasting the Insignia, the Maiden didn't measure up. Again on any other night we'd been raving about any of these wines, but in this company the big wines were Chasseur, Mondavi and Insignia.

Alissa Pollack and crew
"Table #28 "Mediabase & Premier People"
"White Wedding" 
1) 2010 Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay Napa Valley 90 pts
2) 2009 Kistler Chardonnay Sonoma Mountain 94 pts
Kistler was amazing, but the Mediabase people seem to like the Cakebread.

"Power to the Pinot"
3) 2009 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. 89 pts
4) 2009 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. 91 pts
Patz & Hall was well liked.

“California Dreaming”
Bennett Lane Cabernet Vertical featured at Wine Spectator's Grand Tour of 90+ pt wines.
5) 2006 Bennett Lane Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 92 pts
6) 2005 Bennett Lane Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 91 pts

"Heritage of Meritage"
4 year vertical of “Trilogy” An award winning Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend originally started out by using only 3 of the 5 noble Bordeaux grapes.
7) 2007 Flora Springs Trilogy 93 pts Robert Parker (Cab Sauv/Merlot/Petit Verdot)
8) 2006 Flora Springs Trilogy (Cab Sauv/Merlot/Cab Franc & Petit Verdot)
9) 2005 Flora Springs Trilogy (Cab Sauv/Merlot/Cab Franc & Malbec)
10) 2004 Flora Springs Trilogy (Cab Sauv/Merlot/Cab Franc & Petit Verdot)
The '04 was really nice!

"French Kiss"
11) 2005 Chateau Rollan de By-Medoc 90 pts. Wine Spectator #96. (CS/CF/PV/MR)
Very interesting wine and affordable.

thanks to Josh & Stu for helping get all the wine upstairs!

Table #3!

"Welcome Whites" 
1) 2009 Shafer Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch 93 pts.WS #65/Top 100.
2) 2009 Bernard Moreau et Fils Chassagen-Montrachet 1st Cru. 90 pts
3) 2006 DuMol Chardonnay Isobel 92 pts.

The DuMol may have been the best Chardonnay I tasted all night.

“Rhone Rangers...France vs. California”
5) 2004 E. Guigal CHATEAU-du-Pape. 92 pts.
4) 2009 Tablas Creek Vineyard "Cotes de Tablas" 93 pts WS #37/Top 100.

Wines at table #3
Rhone blend from the makers of Cheateau Beaucastel consisting of Grenache 43%, Syrah 24%, Counoise 18% and Mourvedre 13%.
E. Guigal was very nice

“Spain vs. Sonoma”
5) 2004 Daphne Glorian - Priorat Clos Erasmus. WS 94 pts Spanish style Pinot Noir.
6) 2003 Macphail Pinot Noir - Sonoma Coast Sangiacomo Vineyard - 93 pts. James Macphail was the wine maker at Merry Edwards.
Both of the above were amazing - Erasmus is very interesting wine and too bad we didn't have the Macphail to battle Chasseur back at table #1, it was really special.

“California Cab Vertical”
Bennett Lane Cabernet Vertical as featured for 3 years in a row at Wine Spectator's Grand Tour Event highlighting 90+ point wines.
7) 2006 Bennett Lane Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 92 pts
8) 2005 Bennett Lane Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 91 pts
9) 2004 Bennett Lane Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 91 pts
All of these were drinking very nice.

"Napa vs. Bordeaux"
Meritage is California's name for their Bordeaux Blends..
10) 2005 Jarvis "Lake William" Napa Valley Meritage 95pts. (39% CS, 34% CF/24% MR, 3% PV).
11) 2005 Chateau Rollan de By-Medoc 90 pts. Wine Spectator #96. (CS/CF/PV/MR)
Lots of excitement on the Jarvis at this table too, it is a very big wine.

And the big finale!
12) 2003 Turley Napa Valley - Petite Syrah Hayne Vineyard. 95 pts Robert Parker: "Displays the telltale squid ink-like color with some purple hues, and a stupendous nose of pure, black fruits intermixed with minerals, licorice, and incense".

This wine aged very well and was a nice finishing wine for the folks at Table #3

It was an amazing night and we didn't have any bad wines - and teasing 2013 we'll do Italy vs. Cali!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

(Bob Hope) Humana Classic

California Desert - its nice that the PGA Tour makes a stop in La Quinta. For the 1st time since 1965 its not called the Bob Hope Classic that's a little sad  but I'm not sure a lot of 25 year olds even know who Bob is...but the good news this year the guest hope is President Bill Clinton and they changed the format to more normal 4 day tournament - its more about golf now and is only on 3 golf courses - PGA Palmer & Nicklaus Private and right across the street from me at La Quinta Country Club. Amateurs only play 3 days with the cut being made on Sunday.

And the crowds are up this year as was the wind on Saturday with gusts over 65 mph, I watched Bill Clinton hit his ball in the water on 10th tee and shortly thereafter the tourney was post poned due to the wind. They evacuated the Humana Village as tents were falling down in the wind.

Several of my Disney Pro-Am golf pros were there and were doing quite well. Kevin Kisney, Spencer Levin and Johnson Wagner who won the Sony Open the week before in Hawaii. Spoke to Johnson on the 18th tee box on Friday and told him evidently plays a lot better when I'm not in his foursome...he is one who's sporting a mustache now and after talking to him he feels its good luck, but his wife hates it.

If you visit the California Desert one of the great places to visit is Old Towne La Quinta.  A main street loaded with boutiques, cafes, shops and a spa and...

THE WINE BAR at Old Town.

Not only do they have a great selection of California Wines I can't find in NY at prices too low to advertise, they also do regular Saturday tastings from 2 - 6pm and this week distributor Southern Wine & Spirits is on hand with some great values.

1) Brassfield "Serenity" 2010 white blend $9.99 - skipped it because I was driving.

2) Paraiso Reisling 2008 $16.99 - very refreshing after a day in the sun and not too sweet for my taste.

3) Darcie Kent Sauvignon Blanc 2009 - $8.00

4) Darcie Kent Chardonnay 2009 - $8.00 Don't the price fool you, I would have never know that this was the price point. Very nice balance and big finish.

5) Darcie Kent Pinot Noir 2008 - $8.00 Another one that I wouldn't have believed this price. Nice fruit up from with a smokey earthy finish.

6) Belle Glos - Pinot Noir 2010 "Clark & Telephone" $39.99 I really liked the Darcie Pinot above until I tasted this...everything you want from a Pinot and its only going to get better. Big Flavor up front and a finish that goes on for days. Very nice wine!

7) Hillary Goldschmidt Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 $25.00. I was not familar with this wine, but really like it and feels like a steal at this price.

8) Luna Sangiovese 2008 $19.99. I visited this winery a lot off Silverado Trail in Napa and feel like its always been a great value for a very interesting wine.

Now the other good news about THE WINE BAR if you purchase a bottle there, you can order food and drink it at the bar or table with no corkage fee. And you'll get to meet a lot of the locals too.

Across the street is Grill on Main Street where I love their Fish & Chips.
Above that is Hog's Breath Inn - nice restaurant started by Clint Eastwood.
Also next door is Stuft Pizza another local hangout with a great happy hour and amazing Pizza.
And moving into the new location in Old Towne is Solano - where there's normally a wait every night at their old location.
And just down a street is El Ranchito - a little hole in the wall Mexican Restaurant that has the best food.

Over at the La Quinta Resort - check out Morgans and 26 two great place for dinner.

Well my friend Johnson Wagner mustache and all gave it a run on Sunday but finished 2nd behind Mark Wilson.

The desert is amazing place and I always feel at peace with the world there, something so calming about it.

And although its no longer called the Bob Hope Classic his memory will never be forgotten in the desert.

Thanks Bob for all the memories.