Archive for November, 2010

Tweet & Taste with Michigan By the Bottle and L. Mawby

There was a knock on our front door this morning, and, as I nursed my coffee and re-acclimated myself to what passes for reality in our corner of the universe, Kim answered and accepted a package from the nice FedEx guy.

“Were you expecting any wine?” she called out to me.

“No,” I replied, and, as the proverbial light bulb came on in my brain, followed that almost immediately with a question of my own.

“Aren’t we signed up for the Mawby Tweet & Taste?”

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2008 Arizona Stronghold Mangus Red Wine

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We got the opportunity to try another one of Maynard James Keenan and winemaker Eric Glomski’s Arizona Stronghold wines last week, courtesy of our good friend, Judy Murdoch. We liked the Arizona Stronghold Nachise last month, so we were more than happy to give this one a go with grilled flank steak and see what it had to offer. Here’s our no-muss-no-fuss, quick-and-not-that-dirty review.

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More New Wines from Cono Sur

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OK, so I don’t REALLY think that the good folks at Cono Sur have been reading our reviews and have altered their wine making methods just because we’ve been critical of the excessive oak treatment they’ve given to their reds in the past. What I DO know is that every one of the red samples in this latest batch sent to us for review has impressed us; I mean, if Kim says “I like this,” it can’t be an oaky mess, can it? We’ve always liked their whites, and now they seem to have found their way with their Cabs, Carmeneres, Merlots and Syrahs in that they are using a much more deft touch with the wood. And, BONUS, there’s a bubbly in this box to boot!

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Sean Thackrey Pleiades XIX

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For the past several years, Kim has referred to Sean Thackrey’s Pleiades as “my wine.” She has come to love it dearly over its many incarnations, as our experience with it goes back to at least number VIII. We always look forward to trying the new release, and Kim is always very good about sharing her wine with me, as I usually find a lot to like about these myself.

Thackrey eschews vintage dating of Pleiades, as he apparently has no qualms about including components from previous years, if it’ll make a better, more complete wine. And lest one assume that this is simply a kitchen-sink-catch-all of leftovers, the quirky winemaker assured us just last May that these are always very well thought out.

We received a shipment of this latest version of Pleiades a few weeks back, and after giving them ample time to rest after their journey, pulled the cork on one to see what’s in the bottle. Here’s what we found.

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Archival Revival – “Homage Lytton Springs” by Allan Bree

From time-to-time, we will be posting articles of special interest that were originally published on the Gang of Pour’s first site.  Our first archive article is the exceptional Homage Lytton Springs by Allan Bree from January, 2004.

Black Star Farms Bubbly Twitter Tasting Ends On A Flat Note

Tuesday evening, Black Star Farms hosted a Twitter Tasting to showcase two of their new Sparkling Wine releases, with winemaker Lee Lutes and Coryn Briggs, winery promotions coordinator leading the virtual tasting. Kim and I enjoyed the sparklers we tried with Lee last November, so we ponied up for the two bottles as soon as we heard about the event, and invited our good friends Sharlan Douglas and Scott “The Geek” Tobias to join us in the festivities. Kim prepared a delightful Autumnal dinner, and when 7:30 PM rolled around, we logged on to the proceedings. Kim posted as @gangofpour, Shar posted under her own name and I posted as my alter ego, @DonCoyote99. Scott voiced his usual cryptic comments as he saw fit. Among those also participating were Shannon and Cortney Casey of Michigan by the Bottle and Andrew McFarlane, manager of marketing and communications of the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association. We got things started with a little razzle-dazzle. Read the rest of this entry »

Seven New QPR Wines from South Africa and Australia

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We’ve tasted through seven well-priced wines from the southern hemisphere in the last few weeks, all of which offer good value. Four of these are from South Africa, and the other two come from Australia; all are imported to the US by Vineyard Brands, Inc., Birmingham AL. We started with four from MAN Vintners, a solid South African operation whose wines we’ve enjoyed previously. MAN Vintners is a collaboration between Charles Back of Fairview, Goats Do Roam and Spice Route; José Conde, owner/winemaker of Stark-Condé Wines in Stellenbosch and Tyrrel Myburgh, of the Myburgh family that owns and operates Joostenberg Wines. I got a chuckle from their explanation of their collective name; the wines speak for themselves.
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2008 Tablas Creek Paso Robles Esprit de Beaucastel Rouge

As soon as we had booked our flights for our two week sojourn on the Left Coast last April and May, we determined that one of our must-visits would have to be Tablas Creek, in Paso Robles. We’ve made no secret of our admiration for the wines of this collaborative effort between the Haas and Perrin families, and General Manager Jason Haas was most gracious in accommodating our request to tour the property and winery. We tasted through more than fifteen wines, one of which was a barrel sample of the 2008 Esprit de Beaucastel Rouge. Its potential was obvious, but it was just a barrel sample, after all, and we didn’t get to spend much time with it.

Fast forward to last week, when we received a sample of the same for review from our friends at Vineyard Brands, both Kim and this taster were mucho impressed with what is in the bottle.

2008 Tablas Creek Paso Robles Esprit de Beaucastel Rouge, 38% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache, 26% Syrah, 6% Counoise, 14.5% alc., $50: Showing a clean, dark color, this is big, rich and primary, with flavors and aromas of dark plums and berries shaded with some smoke and underbrush. Full bodied, well structured and beautifully balanced, this is already drinking amazingly well in its youth, a delight from the first sip to the last, but it has the stuffing for the long haul; the folks at Tablas Creek say you can enjoy it over the next few decades and I have no reason to doubt their advice. Find this wine

All of the grapes grown on the Tablas Creek estate are certified organic, and those which went into this wine were fermented on native yeasts in open and closed stainless steel fermenters. The components were then pressed, moved into barrel, blended and aged in 1,200-gallon French oak foudres. Bottled this past July, 3,000 cases were produced. We can’t find enough good things to say about it and give it our highest recommendation. The winery recommends pairing with game, dark fowl (duck), richly flavored stews, lamb and Asian preparation of red meats (beef stir fry), and we can testify that it’s also most complementary to burgers grilled medium rare with a generous helping of smoke.

Reporting from Day-twah,

geo t.

Tawse – Winery of the Year


Ever since the first wines hit the bottle barely ten years ago, I have drunk and enjoyed the fine adult beverages produced by Tawse Winery in Niagara. Tawse is in the heartland of the Niagara Escarpment. As one ascends the incline on Cherry Avenue in Vineland towards the top of the escarpment, seeing the winery for the first time is impressive. It is a show stopper indeed. However, everyone knows that simply pumping large amounts of capital into a venture doesn’t guarantee an end product worth its salt. Most of us who have embarked on an escapade to a wine region have encountered multi million dollar facilities that can be fallacious and deliver mediocre wines with exorbitant prices to pay the bank for the monies borrowed on the building.

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Three from Southern Right-Hamilton Russell

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We first encountered the wines of the South African producer Hamilton Russell back in 2007. At that time, we were very impressed with their mineral-driven Burgundian-like character, and brought home bottles for our cellar. We haven’t seen them around much since then, so when we got review samples of their latest efforts, including a bottle from their satellite project, Southern Right, we were quite excited to taste what they’ve been up to lately.

Hamilton Russell Vineyards is the southernmost wine estate in Africa and the closest to the sea. It is located in the cool, maritime Walker Bay appellation in a beautiful valley behind the old fishing village of Hermanus, and specializes in producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Southern Right’s focus is on Pinotage and Sauvignon Blanc; it was founded by Anthony Hamilton Russell in 1994. The wines are named after the rare Southern Right whales, which frequent the cool South Atlantic Walker Bay, 3 kilometers from the vineyards. Southern Right makes a contribution to Southern Right whale conservation with proceeds from sales of their wines. We started our exploration of this trio with the Pinotage.

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