Monthly Archives: April 2009

Off to Taste Camp East 2009

tastecamplogoTonight after work Megan and I are heading out for Taste Camp East 2009 in Long Island New York. We’ll be driving half way late this evening so we don’t have to deal with the DC/Maryland traffic at 6:00 am tomorrow.

The concept of Taste Camp from Lenn Thompson:

The concept for TasteCamp is a simple one: getting enthusiastic bloggers together in a region that is new to them to taste as much wine as possible and speak to as many winemakers as possible over the course of a weekend. Most smaller, lesser-known wine regions in the world would love to get their wines in front of bloggers, but with TasteCamp, the bloggers will go to them.

So, in partnership with the Wine Bloggers Conference folks, TasteCamp was created by yours truly and a small band of fellow bloggers, including Melissa, Erika, John and Becky.

With me at the helm, it should come as no surprise that we’re doing the first one right here on Long Island, with plans to hold the event in the Finger Lakes and Virginia over the next couple of years.

I am uber excited to see my wine blogger friends that I connected with and met for the first time at the Wine Bloggers Conference last year in Santa Rosa, CA. Additionally I am really excited to taste and explore the wines from a region that doesn’t get much if any exposure in the Richmond wine market. The conference starts Friday night at Raphael Winery and will continue through midday on Sunday the 3rd. In between we will be visiting a slew of Long Island wineries as well as some tasting with the Long Island Wine Council and the Long Island Merlot Alliance.

I’ll be trying to blog and tweet as much as possible from the event so check back often for updates from Taste Camp East 2009.


Categories: Taste Camp, wine bloggers conference | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2008 Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay

Wine Information –

Appellation: Gisborne and Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Fermentation: partial Malolactic Fermentation

Cooperage: None

Price: $17

2007_nz_uocMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: lemon rind, tropical fruit, pear juice and melon

Taste: key lime pie, apple, slate

Mouthfeel: slight effervescence, medium body, crisp acidity

Finish: long and clean

The 2008 Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay was good but not great. There isn’t anything bad I can say about it but the fruit was all rather muted both on the aromatics as well as the palate. Honestly it drank more like a big Pinot Grigio than an unoaked Chardonnay. I am a big fan of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir but this one just missed the mark for me. Especially for the price, there are tons of great unoaked options out there from the United States as well as Australia or even Chablis.


*I threw away the bottle before I took a picture so this is of the ’07 Unoaked Chardonnay

Categories: $10-$20, chardonnay, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

2006 Domaine La Barroche Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Grenache Blend

At $65 this is a bit out of my price range for everyday drinking but I had the opportunity to sample the 2006 Domaine La Barroche Chateauneuf-Du-Pape at a trade tasting the other day. I have a few Chateauneuf-Du-Papes resting in my cellar, and tasting this wine made me want to open every last one of them. The blend is predominately Grenache (64%) with Mourvedre (17%), Syrah (11%) and Cinsault (8%) making up the rest of the blend. With the help of 4 weeks of skin contact, the Barroche has an amazing richness and intensity. The cooperage for this was done separately for each of the components: the Mourvedre was aged in 2 and 3 year old Burgundy barrels sur lees, 60% of the Grenache in old oak casks, 40% of the Grenache in Stainless Steel tanks, and both the Syrah and Cinsault were aged in old oak caks. All aging was for approximately 18 months before being bottled, unfiltered, in spring of 2008.

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: cherry, cooked tomato, olive oil, earth and eucalyptus

Taste: brown spice, “good funk”, cassis and red currant

Mouthfeel: full bodied and “meaty” with mouth drying leathery tannins, well balanced but present acidity

Finish: long and slightly spicy, hint of black pepper

If you couldn’t tell already I was enamored with this wine, and if it wasn’t for the price I would drink it once a week. The 2006 is still a baby though, the tannic structure could use some smoothing out, but for being so young it is drinking quite well now.


Categories: $40+, Rhone Wines, wine review | 3 Comments

Tuesday Quick Sip – Krupp Brothers 2003 Veraison Cabernet Sauvignon

2003 Krupp Brothers Veraison Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Info –

Appellation: Napa, Oakville

Vineyard: Stage Coach, Southside of Pritchard Hill

Grapes: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 1% Cabernet


Cooperage: 18 months in Taransaud French Oak barrels

Price: ~$65

2003veraisonMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: chocolate, blackberry, cassis, leather

Taste: huge juicy fruit, lots of chocolate, blackberry, toasty oak, brown spice and toasty oak

Mouthfeel: full body with big well developed velvety tannins

Finish: very long with concentrated dark fruit flavors

This is a big boy California Cab. The fruit is right up front on the aromatics as well as on the palate, but is very rich and not “juicy juice”. The chocolate overtones compliment the black fruit flavors and the splash of toasty oak very nicely and the years have been kind to the tannins that are rounded out nicely. Not cheap in the slightest but would be a nice treat for a Saturday night!


Categories: $40+, cabernet, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Don’t be afraid to use your decanter!

I think the process of decanting wines is vastly under utilized by wine drinkers, including me, as even the most basic wine can benefit from a splash in another vessel. The 2006 Ojai Sryah ($29) on the other hand is a wine that NEEDED to be decanted. I was really looking forward to this wine and had big expectations, and was slightly let down by my first sip after about 20 minutes in the decanter. The first glass was good but wasn’t great, the fruit was still a little tight and underwhelming, not balancing with the structure of the wine. That all changed after an hour in the decanter. I mean, the 2006 Ojai Syrah literally exploded with rich dark fruit and black olive goodness.

The Ojai Vineyard website doesn’t offer much information on the vinification of this wine but mentions that they do blend in some Grenache and Mourvedre.

ojaisyrahMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: black currant, roasted meat, fresh strawberry

Taste: black currant, boysenberry, kalamatta olive, bacon and violet

Mouthfeel: full body with loads of black pepper spiciness, tannins were big and powerful but not overwhelming

Finish: long….

A good wine that becomes great after some air exposure and delivers a power packed punch of layered flavors and aromas. The meat notes accompanied by the kalamatta olive notes were unmistakable and were encapsulated by delicious dark berry flavors that went on for some time.


Categories: $20-$30, Syrah, wine review | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Fun Rosé – 2008 Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah

Last night we made a quick dinner of “pork” barbecue (fake soy bbq of course) sandwiches with a side of mac n cheese, a dinner suited for a fun Rosé from say… Chile. The 2008 Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah ($13.99) is made from 100% of the varietal, grown in the Colchagua Valley of Chile. Cherub, which means young angel, is fitting as the label dons a cartoon diapered angel representing Montes founding partner and beloved friend Alfredo Viadurre.

Aurelio Montes explains why he chose to make his Rosé from Syrah:

“I decided to make a rosé from Syrah grown in our Archangel Estate in Marchigüe, in the Colchagua Valley. Our vineyards here are in a coastal area which provides the perfect temperature and conditions for producing a lovely, ripe rosé. I chose Syrah because this grape has a wonderful purple-red color and gives fresh yet structured wines that can be enjoyed as an apéritif or with food”

montescherubQuick Wine Facts –

Appellation: Archangel Estate, in Marchigüe, located only 11 miles (18 kms) from the Pacific Ocean in the highly reputed Colchagua Valley

Oak Aging: None

Yield of Vineyard: 8 tons per hectare (about 1.9 tons per acre)

Grape Variety: Syrah 100%

My Tasting Notes –

Color: deep pink almost ruby

Nose: strawberries, raspberry jam, quince paste

Taste: strawberry, orange peel, Rosé , fuji apple

Mouthfeel: full body, dry and crisp

Finish: long, fruity, with a hint of minerality but mostly refreshing red fruit

Fun but serious Rosé that got right down to business with it’s deep rich pink color and very aromatic nose of classic strawberry and raspberry. Paired very nicely with the food, and would be great with the plethora of foods that arrive at summertime cookouts. Chill it down a little be extra and it would be a great dry wine for enjoying on a hot summer day or at the beach and the screw cap enclosure makes that even easier.


Categories: $10-$20, Rosé, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Wine Blogging Wednesday #56 – Kosher Wine

This months Wine Blogging Wednesday #56 is brought to us by CorkDork and he asks us to try and write about Kosher wines on this last day of passover. My kosher wine for this WBW is the 2005 Fortant Cabernet Sauvignon Vin De Pays D’Oc. These wines are approved by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations signified by the letter U circled on the label, and certified kosher for Passover (indicated by the letter p on the label.

The Fortant Cabernet Sauvignon is also certified Yayin Mevushal signifying the wine has been fermented and flash pasteurized. The Mevushal process is performed according to MEHADRINE standards (92°C flash pasteurization) without degrading the quality of the wine. This process helps stabilize the wines color, tannin and fruit and allows it to remain kosher if the bottle is handled by non-Jews.

Not much else is offered on the wine as far as wine making, involving cooperage or vinification techniques, but the wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

fortant-kosher-wineMy Tasting Notes:

Nose: “portish”, fig, raisin, cassis

Taste: raisin, raspberry, touch of earth, green pepper

Mouthfeel: medium body, decent acidity leaning toward the high side, suprising leathery tannins

Finish: dusty from the tannin sticks around but the flavor profile is gone rather quickly

Not sure what I think of this wine, it has a $13 wine structure but a $5 flavor profile and finish. The wine definitely smells as if it has been cooked a bit and I honestly don’t understand how it couldn’t seeing as it was flash pasteurized at 92ºC (197ºF), that’s pretty hot. The wine wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, it just wasn’t that good..

Before this post I had no idea what signified a Kosher wine, so although the wine was so so, I did learn something new in the process. Thanks CorkDork for suggesting this topic and to Lenn Thompson of LennDevours for the conception of Wine Blogging Wednesday.


Categories: $10-$20, Wine Blogging Wednesday, wine review | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2006 Cinnabar Merlot

2006 Cinnabar Merlot

Wine Info –

Grapes: 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon

Appellation: Paso Robles

Fermentation: whole berry fermentation in open top stainless steel tanks

Cooperage: 15 months in Hungarian and American Oak, 15% of which was new

Price: $21

cinnabar1My Tasting Notes –

Nose: blackberry, “meaty”, spice, clove, saddle leather

Taste: mint, black cherry, blackberry, oak, pine

Mouthfeel: full body, round and supple up front, leathery tannins at the finish

Finish: long and fruity with lingering brown spice flavors

Excellent full bodied Merlot that would even make Miles happy! Tons of layers that were a mix of dark rich fruit and spices and earthy notes of meat and pine. Not cheap but is comparable to the full bodied Merlot’s coming out of Washington state for twice the price.


Categories: $20-$30, merlot, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant

Last night Megan and I planned to check out the newly revamped Cafe Gutenberg, only to discover a note on the door informing us that they are closed on Tuesdays. Quickly regrouping, we headed two doors down to Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant. Sheba is one of two Ethiopian restaurants here in Richmond, the other being Nile which I have been to several times.

After a slightly rough start with the waitress (I had to help her open the wine bottle) we got things started with a bottle of 2007 Finca Sophenia Reserve Malbec and an appetizer of Katenya. Katenya is injera bread that is lathered with berbere sauce (Ethiopian red pepper blend) and Sheba cheese and then rolled up and sautéed. It looks like an Ethiopian version of a quesadilla, and was really fabulous, I think it lasted about 3 minutes before we gobbled it up.

For our entrée we shared the vegetarian sampler which came with 5 different types of Ethiopian fare atop a large flat piece of injera served family style. The 5 dishes were Misir Wot (red lentils in red pepper sauce), Yekik Alicha (yellow split peas cooked with onions, garlic, and sliced green peppers), Fasolia (string beans and carrots in a mild caramelized onion sauce), Yeabesha Gomen (collard green steamed and delicately seasoned with garlic and chilies) and Tikel Gomen (cabbage, potato, and carrot simmered in mild sauce with garlic, ginger, onion, and green chills). All this was $12.95 and was plenty of food for two people. The only disappointment was they were apparently out of the Fasolia and served a little green salad instead.

The Malbec was a perfect pairing for the food and stood up to the rich flavors of the Ethiopian cuisine. Although the wine itself had a little too much oak on the nose, it wasn’t very present on the palate and was loaded with dark fruit flavors of cassis and plum and hints of brown spice that picked up similar notes in the food.

All in all a good experience and the food was excellent. We will definitely be heading back when we need to get our Ethiopian fix. Eating with your hands is so much fun!


Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant

9 N 17th Street
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 308-3650

Sheba on Urbanspoon

Categories: restaurant review | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Virginia Wine Legislative Update

From Matt Konrad at the Virginia Wine Council:

media_logo_color2Governor Kaine has signed into law several pieces of wine related legislation, bringing to a close a successful General Assembly Session for the Virginia Wine Council and for the entire industry. On July 1, 2009, HB2071 and SB1033 will become the law of Virginia. Those two identical bills confirm the agricultural nature of Virginia farm wineries’ marketing and retail activities by amending § 15.2-2288.3 of the Code of Virginia. The Governor has also signed SB1445, which permits wine-of-the-month club operators to solicit memberships at any location for which an ABC license for on-premises consumption has been issued. Please take this opportunity to thank your legislators for their continued support.

Categories: virginia wine, wine industry issues | Tags: | Leave a comment

Monday Quick Sip 2006 Eric Ross – Caties Corner Vineyard Syrah

er-06-lable-sycc_front22006 Eric Ross – Caties Corner Vineyard Syrah

Wine Info –

Grapes: Syrah with a small amount of Viognier (co-fermented)

Appellation: Russian River Valley

Vineyard: Caties Corner (Syrah) and Saralee (Viognier)

Price: $28

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: brambly wild blackberry, toasted hazelnut, raspberry puree, clove

Taste: black cherry, pomegranate, cassis and brown spice

Mouthfeel: full body, very lush with velvety smooth tannins

Finish: very long

The nose on this wine was incredibly powerful, we decanted it and the aromas were flowing out of the decanter like a flower vase. The wine was very big and full, yet the tannins were restrained to mouth enveloping “velvety-ness”. Loads of dark fruit and spice, this was a truly “yummy” wine. It doesn’t say on the website but I remember that the cases production on this was quite small, under 1000. Stop by the Eric Ross Winery in Glen Ellen California to give this Syrah a whirl.


Categories: $20-$30, Syrah, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Oops, I did it again! Chilean style!

No, this post is not about a new remix to Britney Spears song “Oops I did it again”, it is instead about two Chilean wines from the Colchagua and Central Valley’s. The other night I popped the 2008 Oops Cheeky Little White Sauvignon Blanc and the 2007 Oops Spicy Splendor Carmenere. Both of these varietals were of some of the biggest movers from Chile up twenty and twenty-three percent respectively. According to Rob Bralow of RF Binder and Wines of Chile: “Overall, Chilean bottled table wines increased by 2% in 2008, especially in December where imports of Chilean bottled table wines increased by 25% over December 2007. Most other countries saw a sharp decline in 2008.“ I would imagine that this in part because of the economic decline in the last and first part of this year here in the US and the incredible value that wines from Chile offer.

On to the wines…

oopssauvblanc2008 Oops Cheeky Little White Sauvignon Blanc

Grapes: 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Carmenere

Fermentation: Stainless steel

Region: Colchagua Valley, Chile

Price: $12

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: grassy, cat pee (normal and not offensive), lime-aid

Taste: lime, citrus , green pea and a touch of grapefruit at the back of the palate

Mouthfeel: nice medium bodied with good acidity up front and across the mid-palate

Finish: nice lingering flavors of grass and asparagus but the acidity that greeted me up front seemed to disappear a bit too quickly

This a nice Sauvignon Blanc, very reminiscent of SB’s from New Zealand and may be a nice alternative for people who like that style as the NZ SB’s prices have been on a steady incline. That isn’t to say that there aren’t great values from New Zealand as well. The nose on this wine was ridiculous, jumping out of the glass with classic Sauv Blanc aromas. I think the wines only down fall was the finish as the acidity fell off at the end after being so present up front.

oopscarmenere2007 Oops Spicy Splendor Carmenere

Grapes: 100% Carmenere

Fermentation: Stainless steel with 50% being aged in French and American oak for 8 months

Region: Central Valley (Curicó, Maipo, Maule, Rapel), Chile

Price: $12

My Tasting Notes-

Nose: blackberry, boysenberry, and “candy shop”

Taste: black pepper, leather, blackberry, pepperoni

Mouthfeel: full bodied and spicy

Finish: long and fruity

I am starting to see more and more 100% Carmeneres pop up in wine shops and this another good example of what can be done with the varietal. The people at Oops weren’t lying about this wine being spicy, it was loading with black pepper notes as well as black pepper spiciness. Great dark fruit aromas on the nose and palate with nice earthy hints of leather and spiced meats. Again a great value at $12.


Categories: $10-$20, Chile, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment