Wednesday, February 21, 2007

White Kiwi

One of the wines we served last weekend at an informal gathering of friends at our place was a bottle of 2005 Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. You have to realize that opening a white in our house is a pretty rare occasion. So why did we do it? Well we need some white wine for the dish that we served that night, and since we had an entire bottle open we served it to our guests. This wasn't the first time I had this wine - in fact I tried it in December '06, and loved it. This 90 point wine (Wine Spectator) is a really crisp, and fresh wine, that cuts through the crap and offers you long delicious sweet finish - the kind that lingers in your mouth and you quickly want another taste. At $19, this is a steal. It is bold wines like this from New Zealand that are sneaking up on their better known neighbors (in terms of wine) from the land of oz!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

New year, new discoveries

It has been a while since I last wrote. I discovered some really good wines in between but never found the time to write about them. I promise to be here more often and share my discoveries. Last night we discovered a couple of really good wines. We started the evening with a bottle of Davis Bynum Pinot Noir 2004. It came as a recommendation from a friend. Within seconds of opening we knew that we had chanced upon a really good wine. It was subtle, smooth, yet nudged the senses to new heights. Like the label on the bottle says "This easy-to-drink wine is noted for its bountiful fruit and smooth velvety texture." However do not mistake this for a weak wine. This wine is lush with extraordinary taste and nose. In my opinion the Russian River valley Pinots (and yes I have had a couple of really good Russian River Valley Pinots in the last 3-4 months) are getting of the same stature as the Oregon Willamette Valley Pinots - rich, complex, yet smooth as silk. The kind of wines that go down the throat easy and leaves a fantastic lingering taste in your mouth.

Later in the evening we moved to a Cabernet. I opened a bottle fo 1221 Cabernet Cuvee 2003. Named after the number of cases produced (yes 1221 cases to be precise!). This unique wine is a blend of many Sonoma Valley (47%) and Napa Valley (53%) Cabernets, and the marriage has indeed produced an offspring that is worthy of many cellars. It does not need any breathing and can be served straight out of the bottle even though I did decant it. Feels like it can be stored for several years. The aroma was a little misleading - I thought I was going to have a wine that was going to be heavy with tannins and might interfere with the taste of the subtle Quinoa grain and the spicy catfish, but this wine surprised all of us with its incredible finish with little or no after taste. We loved it and the bottle lasted us maybe 30 minutes.

I am definitely going back to the store for a couple of bottles of these wines. They are so reasonably priced (around $15 each) and that makes it even more attractive. They definitely drink like $40 bottles of wine.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Wine Search

The main reason I have been drinking plenty of wine in the last year or so is because I have been working behind the scenes to create a new product called Google Custom Search Engine. You can learn more about it here. This product allows anyone to create search engines like the one that I created above - a wine search engine. It took me 30 minutes to make it. Now you (yes, you) can help me make it better. And if you are passionate about something else, like motorcycles, or motorcycle racing, go ahead and make a custom search engine for yourself and add it to your site or blog. It does not take a Ph.D. to make one (actually it might even hinder you ;-) ).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Napa day trip

Over the long weekend we took a trip to Napa. We went to several vineyards that we wanted to try out. I had done a bit of research beforehand about some artisan vineyrads and some really well established and well known ones. Overall it was a great trip, although some of the artisan vineyards were disappointing. The Vineyards we tried were:

- Silver Oak Cellars: This was the first one on our map and undoubtedly the best. For $10 we got to try both their stellar releases: the 2002 Alexander Valley Cabernet ($60) and the 2001 Napa Cabernet ($100). For those that don't know Silver Oak only produces Cabernets and do a darn good job of it. The $10 gets you a decent wine glass and one pouring of each of the wines. This is possibly the best deal. Both the wines were very mature and amazingly well balanced. I thought the Alexander Valley was superb, until I had the Napa Valley, which was simply stunning - enough for us to shell out $100 for a bottle.
- Peju: Next was Peju, which has been touted as the best artisan vineyard of 2004/2005. There was a long line and we waited patiently for 20 minutes for our turn. Peju was interesting, but did not meet my expectations. All their wines were sweeter than I expect any of the varietals to be. Their Cab tasted more like a Merlot. I am sure they were impressing many people (the long lines were a testament to that) but did not get any votes from us.
- Provenance: Got in 5 minutes too late and were turned away. I am impressed by their wines and would love to try out their lineup. A little disappointed that they would turn us away even though they had not closed the doors yet and there were plenty of people inside.
- St. Clement: The view from their porch is quite remarkable. This is a quaint little vineyard that produces two amazing wines: The Orappas and the Cabernet. The Orappas is a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. It has been consistently rated in the 90s since 1991, and is definitely one of my all time favorites when it comes to blends. Visiting this vineyard was a treat. the service was awesome and the people were very hospitable. We had a great time trying all their wines, sipping wine and relaxing on their porch with a great view of St. Helena.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hot hot Latino Vino!

Last weekend a few friends converged at our place for an evening of wine tasting, food pairings, random conversations, laughter and dirty dancing (actually that was just my imagination after the 5th glass of wine). The theme that we picked was South American Wines, and logically most people picked Argentinian and Chilean wines. Everybody thought that we were in for an evening of ho-hum wines. At the end of the part every single person agreed that they were astonished at the quality of the "Latino Vinos."

The wines on our list in the order they were served in:

Filler wine: Altos, Los Hormigas 2005 Malbec

First pour: Kaiken Ultra 2003 Malbec
Second pour: Don Melchor (Concha Y Toro), 2002 Cabernet
Third pour: Grial 2002 Carmenere
Fourth pour: Norton 2003 Privada

Filler wine: Root:1 2004 Cabernet

Altos, Los Hormigas 2005 Malbec

This a Latino bombshell from Argentina. Hard to believe that a $12 bottle of wine would be this sophisticated and complex. There is lots of dark fruit in this wine. The color is deep red, lots of fruit on the nose, and texture is smooth. This vineyard has produced some exceptional wines in the past - most notably their 2002 Reserve which currently sells for $75 in the open market. Altos gets 50% of its grape from its own vineyards, and the it sources from nearby vineyards. It uses a combination of steel and small French oak barrels, bottled in 9 months, and then stored in the bottle for 3 months. The local "Whole Paycheck" (oops, did I say that loud - I meant Whole Foods) carries it in limited supply. Run over, this is definitely a keeper. If this wine is so good this young, I wonder how good it might be in 3-4 years.

Kaiken Ultra 2003 Malbec

Kaiken (meaning wild geese) migrate between Chile and Argentina on a regular basis. The Montes folks in Chile picked up this habit and crossed over to Argentina focusing on Malbecs. This effort is a combination of 92% Malbec and 8% Cabernet. This vintage is very earthy and I could swear that I smelled tobacco and a few spices. Or was it in the food pairing?? This is a big, bold wine which probably needs a year or two in the cellar to become superb. At this price ($22), I would drink it now and put away a few bottles for years to come.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

More wines from the land of the Oz

Last night we entertained some friends and I tried a bunch of new Australian wines. The Torbreck 2004 Woodcutters Shiraz (Barossa Valley) was a big, bold, and beautiful wine - the kind that needs a hearty meal to go with it. Go to to check this vineyard out. The other one that stood out was the Dunham Cellars Syrah 2002, from the Columbia Valley region. To check them out go to This one is not so big, but boy is it smooooth, with a long, lingering aftertaste.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Little Known Ozzie

The find of the evening though was this Shiraz blend from a little known Ozzie wineyard - Kangarilla Road Vineyard in McLaren Vale region of Australia. This Shiraz blend contains 8% Viognier. According to the vineyard, "The Viogneer creates amazing changes to the Shiraz - enhancing the color, lifting the aromatics of the wine, and adding complexity and length." I have never had this blend before, but it was an amazing wine. We finished the evening with this wine, and although it was following a much acclaimed (and truly amazing) 2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia, the Kangarilla Road held its own and did not disappoint the crowd. Remarked one guest "If this is a filler wine, I'd rather have filler wine all evening." This fine does provide great smells of spices, fruit, and oak, and on the palate is extremely rich and complex, and true to the vineyards claim, has a loooong finish. I did save some for the next day, and I am surely going to try it again before running off to the store and buying more. It sells for $25 and is rated a well-deserved 92 points. I would stock this one and try it again between 2010 and 2014.

A duck never tasted this good

Last night we had some friends over for dinner and we opened the 2003 Decoy from Duckhorn Wine Company. The Decoy is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Cabernet Franc. Each year, Duckhorn experiments with different varietals and blends. In the 2003 experiment they struck Gold. The bottle opened to a beautiful nose that smelled of many black fruit (I think Cherries, berries....) and a tad bit of smoke. I decanted it for about 10 minutes and served it to the guests who oohed and aahhed while gulping it down. It had very little aftertaste, but as the evening went on, the wine became a little bit bolder and the finish was yummy. At about $25, this is a great find. Wine Spectator gives it a 89 points. Felt more like a 90 point wine to me.