Archive for April, 2010

Three with Bree

Stop in to visit Allan Bree (aka califusa) and you can always count on some corks being pulled from some most interesting and diverse (not to mention downright tasty) wines. Such was the case when we pulled into Sonapanoma after a short 9-hour series of flights from Day-twah. Read the rest of this entry »

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Alan Kerr’s May 1st, 2010, Vintage’s Release – Tasting Notes

It has been a while since I was able to make the trek back to London to taste and I was of course elated to hear upon my return that the feature of the release is Zinfandel and Primitivo. Sadly most of the Zinfandels were lame and lackluster. Perusing through the Catalonia catalog before the tasting was disappointing especially after the high caliber of Zin poured at the California wine show held recently in Toronto. High profile producers such as Ridge, Peachy Canyon, Pezzi King, Pedroncelli and Ravenswood were all pouring their best. Nonetheless there are some tasty wines and spirits to procure so do please read on. Read the rest of this entry »

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2009 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja White & Rosé

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Marqués de Cáceres is, of course, widely known for it’s red Rioja line of wines, but their white and rosé bottlings also offer excellent QPR (quality-price-ratio). I sold a boatload of the 2005 and 2006 vintages of these two in a previous life in retail, and they’re pretty much always welcome at Gang Central. For whatever reason, the 2008s didn’t tickle our fancy the way they usually do; they weren’t bad wines by any means, but neither did they inspire us to go out and buy more after trying them. Happily, the 2009s hit the mark for us once again, and they’ll have a welcome place in our rotation of daily drinkers. Read the rest of this entry »

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4 Vintages of Cristal and…

The party was at Champagne Warrior Brad Baker’s house, and while the focus of the gathering was by no means the four vintages of Louis Roederer “Cristal” Brut Champagne that he opened, they do serve as a convenient focal point for this report. In truth, it was simply taking advantage of an open Friday night to get together with members of that band of ne’er-do-wells known as the Detroit Wine Rats, pull some corks, eat some good food and swap tall tales. We got things started with a bottle we picked up during a recent visit to the Niagara Peninsula to gift to Brad. It wasn’t necessarily intended to open on this occasion, but since we turned possession over to him, it was his to do with whatever he wanted, and he immediately pulled the cork. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Wings & Red Rhônes~3 from the South

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As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are embroiled in a hard-fought NHL playoff series (tied at 2 games a piece) with the Phoenix Coyotes, and as always, we’ve been doing our part by conjuring up some good red Rhône mojo. We’ve gotten things going with three solid, late-model Grenache-based selections from the southern part of the valley.  We picked up this first little number at an LCBO during a recent sojourn in the Niagara Peninsula. Read the rest of this entry »

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2009 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Sauvignon Blanc

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Since its founding in 1991, Cornerstone Cellars in Napa Valley has built its reputation exclusively through making red wine, most of it, high quality Cabernet Sauvignon. All that has changed recently with the release of their first ever white wine under the Cornerstone label, the 2009 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Having been seriously impressed with their latest Cabernet efforts, I was intrigued as to what this new bottling might have to offer, and happily, we recently received a bottle for review. We gave it a week in the cellar to rest up after its cross-country journey and then poured glasses to pair with a rotisserie chicken dinner. Here are my impressions: Read the rest of this entry »

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Exploring the Beaucastel/Tablas Creek Connection

This month’s dinner/tasting with my regular group, the X-pensive Winos, gave us the opportunity to compare wines from two very different, but related estates, Chateau de Beaucastel and Tablas Creek.  Of course, everyone knows that Tablas Creek is a partnership created by Beaucastel and its importer, Robert Haas.  The estate was created with the declared intent to create a wine with the heritage and quality of the great Chateauneuf du Pape, but reflective of its American terroir.  Most of us had tasted numerous examples of both estates, and at least Beaucastel is very highly regarded by most of us in the group.  But I know that I had not really been all that impressed by Tablas Creek, which seemed like a very well-run winery with big ambitions, but whose wines, while quite good, had never seemed particularly distinctive, except that they are clearly different from a lot of other Rhone-style wines in Paso Robles.  With all the big, ripe mo-fo’s out there in Paso, Tablas Creek just seemed a bit underwhelming.  But maybe that’s the point?  Tablas Creek is clearly not making the “typical” Paso Robles red, so this tasting gave us the chance to see if Beaucastel’s genes had really found their way into their Paso offspring.   Read the rest of this entry »

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“April in The D” with the Brown Bag Irregulars

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April in the D(etroit, with apologies to Fox Sports Detroit for “borrowing” their current tag line) brought something a little different to our Brown Bag Irregulars monthly get-together. Since Spring had sprung, it seemed appropriate to try more whites than we had in our previous three meetings. Instead of the usual two pale selections, we upped that number to five. The proceedings were held at the usual shady location better left unnamed and both new and old characters were in attendance. Here’s a rundown on what we tasted; please note that prices listed are approximate retail markups on full wholesale prices. The wines that are now available in the Detroit market are often offered at discount or “post-off” pricing, which makes them even more attractive to the buyer. Read the rest of this entry »

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3 from Goats Do Roam

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Over the past several years, Goats do Roam has become arguably the most recognizable South African wine label in the US, not to mention the best-selling, as is the case with its Red Wine. So I was rather surprised to see their newly designed label, supposedly “inspired by an ancient Mesopotamian artefact,” and something of a departure from the previous version. It has a cleaner, more iconic look to it, but I can’t really say that I like it better. Fortunately, we’ve grown to know the wines pretty well, so our bottom line is what’s IN the bottle, not what’s on it, and happily, the latest versions of their red, white and rosé deliver pretty much the same solid QPR that we’ve come to expect from the brand.

We took a bottle of each to our friends Rod and Hayden Leon’s house, where they were enjoyed with freshly baked whole grain bread, roasted chicken and pot roast. Read the rest of this entry »

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Shady Lane Blue Franc and M. Lawrence “Detroit”

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Michigan by the Bottle’s second “Tweet & Taste Michigan,” held last evening, was by all accounts, a smashing success. Conducted on Twitter and featuring three wines from Shady Lane Cellars, the event drew 54 active participants (3 right here at Gang Central), with over 1000 tweets posted. Kim and I had already tasted and enjoyed these three wines last November with Shady Lane winemaker/vineyard manager Adam Satchwell, and the 2008 Dry Riesling and 2007 Pinot Noir were much as we remember. The Riesling is a solid, straightforward representation of what dry Riesling ought to be, while the Pinot is a pretty little middleweight that offers charming varietal character. But it was the 2008 Blue Franc that really caught my attention and focus, for a variety of reasons. Read the rest of this entry »

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