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06 January 2008

I can't believe it's not Stelvin!

There are those who cling to the 'romance' and 'tradition' of popping the cork prior to imbibing.  Then there are those who think such 'romance' and 'tradition' are ridiculous if these totems potentially mean stinking, spoiled wine.  Both camps have valid points.  I'm a sentimental, shmoopy sucker for the romance involved in popping the cork.  But then, If I've dropped 40 or 50 clams, and my just-popped bottle of wine smells like a box-full of soggy, old Boys Life magazines, I set up camp amongst the pro screw-cap crowd.

Merlot Must the wine lover chose between faulty corks and sterile Stelvins when it comes to bottle closure?  Would that there were a closure, which could preserve in an aesthetically appealing manner.  Thank the cosmos for Vino-Lock.  This glass stopper is much prettier than a Stelvin and, of course, more reliable than cork oak bark cylinders.

Just a few weeks ago I took home the first glass-stopped wine to appear in the wine shop.  I loved it.  And the wine wasn't too bad either.

Cusumano IGT Sicily Merlot 2006 ($12) - A simple, exuberant Merlot made more appealing by its aesthetically cool glass stopper.  This inky-purple wine offers scents of cherry jelly and baked strawberry.  Its flavors a simply tangy fruit.  Cusumano Merlot is nothing if not pleasant and eager to accompany pizza.

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14 October 2007

A Case for Creativity (AKA Free Wine!)

Chateaubeau Are you the Mac-daddy/-mommie when it comes to creativity? 

Have you ever looked at all the blasé wine labels out there and thought, "I could do so much better."? 

Well, here's a chance to explore your creative side and score a case of a soon-to-be classic red wine - Juice Crew Red.

So far, the J.Crew has nicknamed our maturing vino, "The Mighty Brick."  I think we'd like the label to reflect her personality (perhaps listening to a little Rick James could inspire potential label designers out there):

"So all and all, the blend has resulted in what we wanted - a rich rhone style wine with some backbone. The different varietals playing nicely in the sandbox. Great dark color, long sexy legs and built to party"

Here's the deal - submit a label design, which reflects our sexy Rhone brickhouse and you could win...1 case of JC Red.  Now that's what I call a case for creativity!

Details: Submit* your design entry by November 15, 2007.  The editor will select 3 designs to be voted on by Juice Crew members and Basic Juice readers.  The winning designer will receive the case of Juice Crew Red when it's released (we award no wine before its time).

*by submitting a design, designer retains no rights to design, but will be credited by name

Gentlepeople, start your creative engines..

09 October 2007


You say, I should drink some sans souffre wine?  Well my VdP Mondeuse may not be a beaujo Cru, but it was au naturel, intensely zippy and tasted like a basket-full-o-forest berries.


And of course, one must accompany such a low maintenance wine with some natural, simply prepared lamb + mashed potatoes & roasted garlic or roasted duck and potatoes au gratin.

The wine: Cote Pelee Mondeuse Vin de Pays d'Allobrogie 2004 by Jean-Yves Peron.

The food:
Autour d’ un Verre

Organic, delicious and inexpensive. A must stop for any wine lover curious about natural wines.
21, rue de Trévise, Paris 9
Tel: 01 48 24 43 74
Metro Stop: Cadet
Lunch: 12:30 to 15:00 Dinner: 20:00 to 22:30 (except Monday). Closed Sunday.
-- Thanks Steve for the recommendation!
More information en Francais here.

Additional, random gay Paree photos


Folies Bergere


Drive-by Eiffel


Mmmm AOKI.

Continue reading "Mondeuse!" »

07 September 2007

A Wide Stance Wine

The words, "wide" and "stance" are innocent enough by themselves.  However, taken together, "wide stance" can conjure up less-than-innocent imagery. 

I wish to cleanse this phrase and implement it as a wine descriptor.  To whit, what does the phrase, "this wine takes a wide stance," mean to you?

Perhaps it implies a brawny, lumberjack of a wine. 

Maybe it describes wine with impressive length.


Baltosmencia2005 Actually, in this case, "wide stance" refers to wine that is balanced (it's difficult to knock over) from every perspective.  Wide stance wine runs the gambit of flavor, tannin, acidity and restraint. A perfect wide stance wine is represented by Dominio de Tares' Baltos Mencia (2005, $12-$15, imported by Classical Wines).  While the frolicking nudes on the Baltos label (at right) appear as if they are capable of striking numerous stances, it owes much of its stability to the hilly growing region of Bierzo.  Of course the over-used sentiment of 'warm days and cool nights' being good for wine production is an apt descriptor of El Bierzo.  This relatively balanced climate, coupled to the mountain-loving Mencia grape , one of Spain's secret wine weapons, produce one of the most food-friendly wines I've sampled in ages.

The Skinny
Dominio de Tares "Baltos" Mencia 2005

  • A deep ruby red wine with dusty, leathery highlights 'round the rim
  • Scents of rasp- and straw-berry, violets, a little earth and dash of mushroom
  • Perfect balance in the mouth - the relatively simple flavor is accented and gussied-up with lively acidity and solid, structured tannins.  The wine says 'adios' with a long finish powered by a solid 13.5% ABV.
  • Try Baltos with pan-fried pork chops with white beans & radicchio, roasted chicken or classic spaghetti.

11 August 2007

Ring Around the Prio

Random Trivia Question:  Without looking at a map, where is the youngish Spanish DO, Montsant, located?

tick tick tick tick tick ring

Montsant_2 Montsant forms a horseshoe/Pacman/macrophage (for the cell-bio/wine lovers amongst us) around the power wine producing place called Priorato in Catalonia.

If you're at all familar with the concentrated, chewy wines of Priorato, wine from Montsant tastes like a slightly less pumped up sibling.

Acustic Acustic* Cellar Vinyes Velles Nobles Garnatxa i Samso 2005 ($13-$16) - For those who don't speak Catalonian, Garnatxa is Grenache and Samso is Carignan.  This wine tastes nothing like many other Grenache-containing wine you may have sipped from Spain.  The style is decidedly modern - as are many wines from neighboring Priorato.  Acustic is big, brawny and chewy.  It obviously spent around a year in oak, which is a good thing as minus those months in wood, Acustic would have been flabby.  In fact, my tasting note of Acustic dealt in textures rather than flavors.  The interaction of brawn and spine is what makes this wine very appealing.  Try this wine with grilled lamb chops, sauteed portobellas or a takeout gyro.

While most of my recent Spanish sipping has been of the "cheerful chugger" variety, this representative of Montsant reminded me that for those who venture above the $10-level, many of Spain's wines are bound to surprise with style & complexity.

*There was some poetic malarky on the rear label describing the wine as 'acoustic' - unplugged, as it were.  However, I don't quite get it as the wine claims much of its character from being 'plugged in' to the barrel.

06 August 2007

Non-Rosé Rosé

When is a non-Rosé practically a Rosé?  When it's a young, simple Grenache from that Ginormous Grenache Growing zone that is Spain.  Perhaps in in the books of some serious wine lovers, chilling down red wine is akin to drinking through a straw (see above, left).  But when it's (still) extraordinarily hot outside, nothing hits the spot like a slightly chilled* berry-bucket Grenache like this:

Marco_real_smaller Bodegas Marco Real Garnacha 2005 ($6-$9)
Like a Rosé, only in addition to Strawberry, you'll snort and sip flavors of mushed, fresh Raspberries and a hint of Blackberry.  It's berry-rific.  Actually, this is a surprisingly light-bodied wine, considering its inky-ruby color.  Close your eyes and your palate will tell you, "this is a Rosé."  But then, after opening your eyes, the brain will insist that you're sipping a red wine.  A little cognitive dissonance never hurt anyone.

*Stick it in your Fridge for 25-30 minutes, or if you're the impatient type, jam it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

25 June 2007

Don't Stop Believin

If I were a big fan of The Sopranos, I might throw an end-of-series wake. Naturally I would serve vino Italiano. My crew wouldn't get none of them B's - Barolo, Barbresco, Barbera.  Rather, I'd head to 'the family's' Island - Sicily.  Why should one look to Sicily (just don't stare) for get-together wine?  Two words: cheap wine.  Now hold on a minute; It aint so bad.

Sure, Sicily's vino past is a bit cloudy. With its hot summer temperatures, the island produced generations of highly alcoholic, color-intense wine, which was used as blending juice. In fact, it's a dirty little secret that many French vignerons bought 'protection' for their weaker wines from La Cosa Loro.

More recently however, a few capos decided they would have more success conquering the wine world with style rather than brute strength. These cerebral Sicilians focused on quantity over quality. And believe you me, you should have no problem with that. Nowadays one can procure high fallutin' Sicilian vino at boutique prices (you don't even have to know a guy).  One may also, if one is so inclined, track down rosy pink wine from the island (I happen to know a guy).

Luckily it seems that a few vino consigliori even persuaded their boss to produce good. cheap. wine.  To the folks at Feudo Arancio, I offer a hearty shoulder-clapof gratitude for two Sicilians that should be at every wiseguy get-together on March 12.

A unique white wine full of lemon zest, cucumber, romaine and white pepper scents.  This wine is great with pork chops or baked ziti.  It's even solid enough to stand up to a slice (either New York or Chicago).

'Nero' (Feudo Arancio Nero D'Avola 2005 - $7)
Now don't expect this Nero to move the earth after a sip or three. But as a spicy-fruity sipping beverage to nurse as you ponder Tony's fate, it is just the ticket. And yes, it will pair perfectly with mama's spaghetti or a leftover slice.


Feudo Arancio Nero D'Avola:  Don't stop believin in sub-$10 wine

tags , , , the sopranos

28 May 2007

Barbera d'Serpente

Snake_river Who'd a thunk it!?  A very drinkable wine from the spud state.  And a non-Merlot/Cabernet/Shiraz to boot.

Snake River Winery Barbera 2005 ($17) - This Italian-Idahoan offers echos of old school d'Asti or d'Alba with slightly taut tannins and red cherry flavors.  Its new world tell is the slightly hot, medicinal/Kirsch flavors on the finish.  In a world of blasé, new-school copy-catters, this is a breath of fresh air.  Try it with pan-roasted duck breast & truffled polenta + lingonberry sauce.

04 April 2007

Better Still than Eva

While I was pleasantly surprised at Longoria's snappy Albariño, this is something that completely floored me: A character-full, age-worthy Tempranillo from the Santa Y.

Longoria Santa Ynez Valley Tempranillo Clover Creek Vineyard 2004 ($~35) - Winemaker Rick Longoria indicates that this wine is made in the 'Old World Spanish' style.  To admitted California  cynics like myself, this might seem to be so much marketing hoo-ha.  However, I doff my cap to the Longorians - they have created a wine that offers the essence of Spanish Tempranillo - a la Rioja or Ribera del Duero - whilst adding a very subtle New World twist.

Longoria's Tempranillo is deep ruby red in color with scents of fresh 'forest berries' (wild blue-, rasp- and strawberries), tobacco and a touch of cedar.  In the mouth, this wine is right chewy with hearty American Oak-derived tannins.  To get the most from this wine, let it breathe for an hour or more before serving, or, better yet, lay it down for 3 years or so.  It is extraordinarily age-worthy.  A fine wine at a very fair price.  Sip it with grilled sirloin or spicy sausage and you'll certainly agree this wine is better still than Eva!




30 March 2007

Fri. Random 5 + 1 Chewy Chilean

Hollygo Friday Random Music 5

  1. Holly Golightly - This Ship
  2. Of Montreal - We Were Born The Mutants Again With Leafling (?)
  3. Alexi Murdoch - Song For You
  4. Miles Davis - I Could Write A Book
  5. Pearl Jam - Sonic Reducer (listen .mp3)

1 Chewy Chilean

Erasmo Reserva di Caliboro 2005 (~$25) - To those who think there is no distinct terroir in Chile, I say, "thhppphhhttt!"  This is the the 3rd Chilean Bordeaux (60% Cab S., 30% Merlot, 10% Cab F.) blend I've sampled that has a unique something-something.  That something is a nifty scent compilation of cherry liqueur, charred cedar and orange peel.  I dig it.  While the wine's flavor is straightforward black cherry-blackberry, it possesses two types o' tannic textures: 1) slightly abbraisive & attention grabbing followed by 2)smooth and supple.  Quite a trick.  Give it a go with a standing beef rib roast and/or crock-potted root veggies.

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