Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Resurfacing momentarily

I haven't been blogging lately. Not that I've stopped drinking wine, perish the thought. But since wine is no longer my business, I really don't see the need for one more person's reviews. I am instead focusing on my photography (focusing/photography...get it?) and keeping my Wine Diva Designs going. (That's it on the right sidebar over there --->)

I may post something relevant to the wine drinking community every now and then, but don't hold your breath. Until then, hasta la vista, baby!

Monday, August 11, 2008

My New Photography Website

Hubby encouraged me to start a photography website since I've been doing a lot of food photography. I spent quite a bit of time working on this and I'm pretty proud of it. I have an interview for another food session for a new restaurant coming up soon. It's looking good :-D

Posted by email from Linda's posterous

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wine & DVD - Testarossa Pinot Noir Gary's Vineyard and "August Rush"

I wanted to make sure I posted this the night we watched the movie and not the night after because I wanted to make sure I remembered everything clearly.

First off, the wine: Testarossa Pinot Noir Gary's Vineyard 2006 - this was the only good thing about the wine & DVD (more on the DVD in a minute). From the Santa Lucia Highlands of California, this lovely Pinot was everything I'd expect from Testarossa. Hubby and I joined their wine club and so far they have consistently sent us wonderful wines. This Pinot Noir was no exception. Smoky, dense cherries, lingering finish. You know, everything you'd want in a California Pinot. It definitely made watching the movie easier.

"August Rush" - lord have mercy, where do I begin? Boy (musician in band) meets girl (concert cellist) at a party, they spend one night together, girl (with overbearing father) leaves boy to persue her music career, boy and girl lament over parting, girl is pregnant, girl gets in accident at the last trimester of her pregnancy, overbearing father tells girl baby is dead, baby boy child not actually dead and grows up in orphanage hearing music in everything, child runs away at 11 years old, child goes to Julliard and conducts symphony that he wrote, girl and boy attend concert and reunite, child realizes parents are in audience, everything is okay.

This was schmaltz, pure schmaltz. Plain and simple. And I fell for it hook, line and sinker. There are movies I've cried at, plenty of them. I cried at this one, but there's a big difference. This movie made me feel used. I felt guilty for crying. Nothing was believable. Lots and lots of factual errors, and it's like the producers didn't even care. It's like they were just going for the tearjerker. They banked on the major percentage of the audience doesn't pay attention to detail.

If you can watch a movie and can blank out facts and reason, then by all means watch this DVD. Otherwise, don't waste your time. You'll hate yourself afterwards if you do.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wine & DVD - Shirvington Shiraz and "The Producers"

Last night we shared a bottle of Shirvington Shiraz 2005 from McLaren Vale in Australia. This is one fantastic bottle of wine! The nose was wonderful, filled with vanilla, berries and a hint of spice. The palate was a burst of flavor, everything you'd expect from an Aussie Shiraz. It started out with an explosion of berries, and finished with a beautiful round of vanilla. Smooth, silky and sensational!

"The Producers" - this was the new version (adapted from the Broadway musical) released in 2005 starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick reprising the roles of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, originally played by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. I think Nathan Lane did a pretty good job as Max, but (in my humble opinion) Matthew Broderick just didn't quite cut it as Leo. His portrayal seemed too...forced. Gene Wilder was naturally goofy and the role was perfect for him. I think this was a role better suited for someone like Rob Schneider. Matthew Broderick is a fine comedic actor, but he's not goofy. And the role really did call for someone of that ilk.

The original was not a musical, but the newer version was. I didn't feel the storyline called for it being a musical, the original was much better. One of my favorite characters from the original movie (LSD played by Dick Shawn) was not in the newer version, and I think he was a critical member of the cast.

The plot of the movie: Leo Bloom, an accountant, discovers an error in Max Bialystock's books from the production of his last play, which flopped. It turns out he raised more money than it cost to produce the play. Leo offhandedly states that you could theoretically make more money from a flop than from a hit, if you were corrupt enough to do that, of course. Max jumps on the idea and enlists Leo as his co-producer/co-conspirator and it goes from there. You'll have to watch it yourself to find out what happens ;-)

I will say that you absolutely HAVE to watch the gag reel on the bonus section of the DVD. I think I laughed harder at the outtakes than I did during the entire movie!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

DVD - "Fido"

We didn't have any wine last night (I know...WHAT???), but we did watch a movie called "Fido" starring Billy Connolly and Carrie-Anne Moss. I'd never even heard of this movie before, and found it when searching Netflix for Billy Connolly performances. You HAVE to check out his stand-up routines, they're hysterical!

"Fido" is set in the 1950's small-town America after the Zombie Wars. (A blast of radiation brought dead people back to life and could only be killed permanently if the brain was damaged.) Enter Zomcon, a company that keeps zombies under control via a special collar. Zombies can now be a productive part of the community and can hold jobs such as milkman, paperboy, etc. Hubby says it's "Night of the Living Dead" meets "Leave it to Beaver".

Timmy Robinson is a shy boy with no friends who gets bullied at school. His mother brings home a zombie for a servant (because every family on the block has one!) and Timmy befriends him, naming him Fido. Hilarity ensues. I laughed my butt off pretty much throughout the movie and highly recommend it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wine & DVD - Bleasdale Shiraz and "Donnie Darko"

Bleasdale Shiraz Reserve 2003 - from Langhorne Creek in Australia. This shiraz has aromas of dark fruits, spices and a little bit of tar/asphalt. The palate is rich with dark fruits (plums, blackberries, raspberries) and a hint of vanilla. Quite a lengthy finish. Full-bodied and packs a nice punch.

"Donnie Darko" - wow, talk about surreal! Released in 2001 and set in the late 80's, stars Jake Gyllenhaal as the title character. Lots of well-known names in this movie: Drew Barrymore (who was also one of the executive producers), Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Noah Wylie, Mary McDonnell, Katherine Ross.

Donnie is a disturbed high school student, prone to sleepwalking, who has visions of a creepy rabbit (this is no Harvey, folks). The rabbit, named Frank, tells him to do all sorts of destructive acts and he complies. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a very convincing psycho. His facial expressions alone gave me chills.

The visual effects were great, the soundtrack made me realize just how old I am (*sigh*), and the acting was good. I can definitely recommend this movie. But if you tend to have nightmares, watch this movie earlier in the day so you have time to shake off the freaky imagery. It's 11:15PM now and I just finished watching it. I think I'm in for a fun night :-/

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wine & DVD - Sarah's Vineyard Merlot and "Bedazzled"

Sarah's Vineyard Merlot Des Grandes Hommes 2003 - from the Santa Clara Valley of California. We picked up this absolutely terrific bargain of a wine when we visited some friends last September. Beautiful raspberries and vanilla aromas that follow through on the palate. Rich, smooth and luscious. Regularly $25.00 per bottle, it was on special for a mere $10.00 per bottle! Of course there is no more to be had at the vineyard, but we still have a few more bottles squirreled away :-D

"Bedazzled" - this was not the newer version with Brendan Frasier and Elizabeth Hurley. This was the 1967 version set in England with Dudley Moore and Peter Cook. There were some similarities with the two, but the older version was, expectedly, very dated. Dudley Moore played Stanley Moon, a shy cook at a Wimpy's burger restaurant. He lusted after Margaret Spencer, who pretty much didn't know he existed. Enter Peter Cook as George Spiggot, aka the Devil. Stanley sold his soul to George for even wishes, which George promptly sabotages. If you've seen the new Bedazzled, then you can probably figure out how the older one ended.

All in all, I preferred the newer version. Elizabeth Hurley as the Devil was just brilliant casting. Don't get me wrong. Peter Cook was good, but he just couldn't pull of "despicable" like Liz!

I forgot to mention...we watched this movie on out new Roku Netflix player and it was pretty cool. I have over 100 movies queued up, so there will be no shortage of movies to review :-D

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Wine & DVD - Testarossa Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow and "The Shape of Things"

Testarossa Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow Vineyard 2006 - from the Santa Lucia Highlands of California, this wonderful red was made from some of the oldest Pinot Noir vines in North America. Beautiful brick red in color with dark cherry aromas. Crisp and vibrant palate loaded with dark fruits and a bit of spice. Lovely!

"The Shape of Things" - released in 2003 and starring Paul Rudd and Rachel Weisz. Paul plays Adam, who is a shy and introverted security guard at a museum. Rachel plays Evelyn, an art student who Adam meets at the museum when Evelyn steps over the roped off area in front of a statue that she was about to deface. They begin dating and Adam starts to change, much to the chagrin of his friends.

The acting, in my humble opinion, is only so-so, but the story is excellent. This psychological drama is heart-wrenching, funny, sad and, most of all, unbelievably messed up. Hubby figured out almost from the beginning what Evelyn was up to, but I try not to look that far in advance. I follow the movie and just watch as things unfold. I was blown away at how she...

Nah, you'll just have to watch it for yourselves.

Wine & DVD - Marquis Philips Sarah's Blend & "Charulata"

Marquis Philips Sarah's Blend 2006 - a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot clocking in at 15% alcohol (no wonder I was a bit loopy!). Rich, full of delicious dark fruit. Even at that level of alcohol, it was still smooth and very succulent. Great QPR. We got it on sale for $11.99 per bottle and bought a case.

"Charulata" - (in black & white) released in 1964 and set in 1870's India, it's about a young wife (Charu) whose husband is too concerned with his newspaper to give her any consideration. Her loneliness is evident and he asks his brother (in-law?) to keep her company. Can you say "love triangle"?

I have several problems, not with the movie itself, but with the production:
The DVD looked like it was copied from a poor quality videotape
The contrast was super-high making watching the film difficult, especially with subtitles
The subtitles seemed to be a poor translation of what the characters were saying. At times the subtitles lingered far too long, at other times they moved too quickly.
The sound quality was pretty bad (pops, static, etc)
As the movie progressed, the picture got darker and darker, making it difficult to distinguish who was speaking.

So it's impossible to give a good review of the film itself since we were so distracted by the poor quality.

But...we DID see a terrific Bollywood film the previous night - "Saawariya", another love triangle theme. Released in 2007, this was the first Bollywood film to be produced and released by a Hollywood production company (Columbia TriStar), and the first Indian/Bollywood film to be released on BluRay disc.

The scenes were lavish - gorgeous cinematography, rich colors. Based on Dostoevsky's "White Nights", it was a story about Ranbir Raj who meets the lovely Sakina who is waiting for the return of Imaan. The acting was wonderful, the singing and dancing were great, the costumes...wow! This film was a visual feast. I enjoyed it so much I'd like to purchase the BluRay disc so I can watch it again (and again).

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Featured Product at Wine Diva Designs

Starting this month, I will be featuring one of my products at Wine Diva Designs. This month it's "The Usual Suspects" Tote Bag, marked 20% off for the month of June!

Check it out!

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Bottle of Wine and a DVD (New Series)

I've really been neglecting my blog and I have no excuses. I'm going to do my best to get back into it though.

Pretty much every night Tom and I watch a DVD (we LOVE Netflix!) and share a bottle of wine. So as well as reviewing the wine, I'll review the DVD, too. Tonight it was Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva 2005 and The Hanging Garden.

The malbec was a beautiful dark garnet color with wonderful ripe fruit aromas. It had a nice, bold palate filled with dark fruits and a bit of tobacco. The finish lingered for a good 30 - 45 seconds. A terrific QPR at only $10.99 per bottle!

The Hanging Garden was filmed in Nova Scotia. It was about a young man who, as an unhappy obese teen, ran away from home. He comes back after 10 years, and no contact with his family, to attend his sister's wedding. There's a series of flashbacks that left us wondering if everything really was as it seemed. In parts it was lighthearted, sad and thought-provoking. Definitely worth watching!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Look what I found on Etsy...

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Etsy, it's a website where you can buy and sell handcrafted items.
Today while I was browsing the site I found this clever wine crock, made by Amanda Moon.

I thought it was just too unique not to share it with my readers :-D

Saturday, May 24, 2008

New and Improved Website!

Ever since I created my (very first!) website a couple of months ago I felt that it was lacking in quality. I thought that it looked like a first website and I wanted something better.

I checked out a website called Free Website Templates and found exactly what I was looking for. With just a few minor (okay, not so minor) alterations, the new Wine Diva Designs is up.

When you get a free moment I'd love to know what you think!

For the most part everything is up and running. There are a few changes I want to make, but they're not critical.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bennett Family Cabernet Sauvignon The Reserve 2004

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

We took this wine with us to dinner tonight. When we first opened the bottle, the wine seemed a bit thin and flabby. Tom said to let it open up a bit and not to judge it right away. With dinner it was a bit better, having some more body and fruit. We didn't finish the whole bottle, so we corked it back up to finish at home. It didn't hold up. It seemed too astringent and made my face scrunch up when I drank it. Needless to say, I didn't finish it. Definitely not impressed, especially at $25.00 per bottle.

Artesa Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

This was everything you'd expect from a good Napa Cabernet: rich, luxurious, ripe fruit, not overly oaked, vanilla notes, hints of tobacco. This is one of those wines that make you go "mmmmmm..."

Another one purchased at Wine Warehouse, for the terrific price of $24.99 (what a steal!). I think I'm going back to get some more!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dominio de Eguren Codice 2005

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

This is one of Tom's and my favorite wines. Wonderful aromas of dark berries and sweet vanilla that follows through on the palate with a burst of flavor. Smooth tannins, good acidity, very easy-drinking. This is a wine that you'd expect to pay at least $15 or more. We got it for the unbelievable bargain price of $7.99 at Wine Warehouse. Delicious!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bodega Norton Privada 2003

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

A blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Wine Spectator says this wine is "burly" and I have to agree. Full of body and very quaffable. We drank it with a spicy fried rice, but it would have worked best with a nice rare filet. Still delicious though.

Hubby just poured me some more, so why am I still sitting here typing? I'm off to enjoy the rest of it ;-)

Notes from our Open That Bottle Night (from what I can recall)

There were nine of us gathered at Blue Bamboo Restaurant and Wine Bar to share some special wines. There were a lot, and I'm pretty groggy this morning, so I'll do my best to recall the tasting notes. Listed from the first wine drank to the last.

Weingut Dr. Zen Zen Riesling Spatlese Valwiger Herrenberg 1989 - heavy petroleum aromas. I do mean heavy! I swear we could have put it in our gas tank and driven home. It was definitely not sweet. Tom's comment: "this is...interesting".

Helena View Cabernet Franc Estate Proprieter's Reserve 1997 - We were a bit worried about this one, having opened a few bottles of the same vintage some time ago and they were far gone. This one held on though. Gorgeous aromas of vanilla and ripe berries. Smooth and silky on the palate. *swoon*

Mollydooker Cabernet Sauvignon The Maitre D' 2006 - We labeled this one "a moaner". In my humble opinion, Sarah and Sparky Marquis (the winemakers) can do no wrong. This wine was luscious and full-bodied and delicious!

Monte Cristi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2000 - clearly the Belle of the Ball! I honestly can't remember exactly what it tasted like, but I do remember at one point exclaiming "this doesn't suck!"

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino 1998 - Big. Earthy. Tobacco. Yum!

Neyers Zinfandel Tofanelli Vineyard 2002 - Raspberries, raspberries and more raspberries on the nose. Smooth and silky on the palate. Another yum!

Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1986 - This was no slacker! Berries and vanilla on the nose, oak and beries on the palate. Good body, good acidity. Impressive for its 22 years in the bottle!

Broadbent Rainwater Madeira - smelled like caramel syrup on toast! Nutty on the palate. Awesomeness in a glass :-D

All in all, they were some terrific wines. We laughed, we drank, we laughed, we ate, we laughed, we drank, we laughed, we ate. Now...where's the aspirin for my headache?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A New Business Venture

I've just started designing wine gift bags featuring my photography and I'm selling them on Etsy. I'm pretty excited about this. I've gotten lots of positive feedback from friends who've encouraged me to move forward with the idea. Check them out when you get a chance and let me know what you think.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Handley Cellars Gewurztraminer 2005

Tom made Jamaican Curry Goat last night and I was a bit stumped as to what wine to serve with it. I browsed through our wine inventory and found the Handley Gewurtraminer. I'd had this wine before and absolutely loved it, so I knew it would be a good pairing. What an understatement. It was an awesome pairing! The wine smelled like a garden of roses and tasted of lychee and citrus. It had good acidity, bright and vibrant and it stood up very well to the spicy food.

Jamaica-style Curry Goat

1 1/2 pound fresh goat meat
1 cup red wine
1 medium onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2-4 Tbsp Jamaica Curry Powder
1 tsp thyme
12 allspice crushed
fresh-ground black pepper
sea salt

Cut the goat into 1-2 inch chunks as bones allow. In a large skillet, sear the goat in goose fat over high heat until brown. Lower heat to medium and add 1 Tbsp curry powder, red pepper and onion. Saute until onion is clear but not brown then add garlic and stir for a minute or two. Raise heat and add wine and stir for a minute or two. Add a cup of water, the rest of the curry powder, the allspice, some black pepper and the thyme. Cover and simmer (low to med-low heat) until the goat is tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Check it often and add water if it looks dry. Turn the meat over occasionally, too. Cut up the potatoes and add them (and a little more water) for the last 30 minutes on medium heat.

When you add the potatoes, the sauce should be a bit watery and should cover the potatoes. When done, the sauce should be thick, so if it's still watery, simmer it uncovered until it's the right consistency. Add salt, black pepper and more curry powder (if needed) to taste.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bonny Doon Ca' del Solo Albariño 2007

A blend of 80% Albariño, 15% Loureiro and 15% Treixadura. To me, the most intriguing character of this wine is the aroma: it reminds me of the scent of freshly laundered sheets that have been hanging on a clothesline to dry. Crisp and clean. There's some bright acidity and a fair amount of citrus on the palate, but it's somewhat thin and a bit too light in body for my taste.

Pleasant enough, but I doubt I'd buy it again. I didn't dislike it, I just wasn't bowled over by it. (Bonny Doon Wine Club selection)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Testarossa Chardonnay Rosella's Vineyard 2006

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

This wonderful Chardonnay was one of our Wine Club selections that we received Monday. I had been craving a good Chard for awhile so we opened this up with dinner (Breaded Asian Spiced Pork Chops with Brown Basmati-Broccoli Rice) and it paired perfectly!

It had such a powerful burst of tropical fruit flavors, pineapple and banana, with a creamy mouthfeel thanks to the malolactic fermentation. Good acidity, clean finish. In a word...sensational!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Open That Bottle Night

A few years ago Wall Street Journal wine columnists Dorothy Gaither and John Brecher started a yearly event called "Open That Bottle Night" that happens on the last Saturday of February. This year it falls on February 23rd.

The purpose of the event is to get people who have held onto a special bottle, for whatever reason, to open it and enjoy it with friends. Even if you aren't holding onto a special bottle, you can buy a wine that you've been craving for a while and share that. So call your friends, see that everyone will be bringing a wine to share, make reservations at your favorite restaurant (check first that you can bring your own wine!) and, by all means, open that bottle!

So...what are you holding onto that you'll be sharing?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Clarendon Hills Syrah Piggott Range 2004

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

Another wine that we acquired when our store went out of business. I'm beginning to think it wasn't such a bad thing after all ;-)

This luscious Australian Syrah was given a 96 point rating by Robert Parker, stating "A superstar effort, it reveals off-the-chart richness, complexity and intensity. Floral-scented, exhibiting a distinctive minerality along with wonderful blackberry and cassis fruit, and a hint of wood. The mid-palate and finish are both long, textured and intense. It needs 2-3 years of bottle age and should keep for a minimum of 2 decades."

My take on it: "Dayum!!!" I think that says it all :-D

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

O'Brien Cellars Seduction 2004

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

I could have waited to post this on Valentine's Day, but I wanted to post it now so you might have a change to find a bottle.

This is a proprietary red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Notes of tobacco and cedar on the nose, followed by smoky oak and vanilla on the palate. This wine has nice fruit flavors, but it's not jammy. Well-balanced and very approachable. In a word...Sensational!

*Update: As per Bart O'Brien's comment "The 2004 is gone in most markets but the 2005 is just as good. It can be ordered online at www.obrienestate.com. We have a free shipping special on 6 bottles or more; 10% discount on 12 bottles."

Thanks, Bart!

Sherry Chicken Recipe

This recipe is based on a dish from my favorite restaurant, who last year featured cuisines from different countries. It was far and away the most delicious of the different dishes!

Fry in a hot skillet in melted butter 1 lb cut up chicken (we used boneless thighs) until done. Add ground black pepper and salt to taste. Add 4 oz baby spinach leaves, a pinch of cayenne pepper, 4 strands saffron and a touch of garlic powder. When spinach is almost wilted, move everything to side of pan and splash some sherry (we used an Amantillado) in center of pan, turn heat down. Stir all up, add 4 or 5 oz heavy cream and 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 1/2 - 3 oz). Stir until sauce thickens and serve over rice.

Next time we'll try it with fresh grated Manchego cheese instead of Parmesan.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gibson Old Vine Collection Grenache 2003

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

This wine was one of the many bottles that were not sold when we went out of business last June and were forced to bring it home (can you hear the melodramatic violins playing?). Such a hardship!

This Grenache had a lovely garnet color. On the nose I got flowers and spices. When the wine was first poured I got lots of cherry candy on the palate, along with cinnamon and allspice. After the wine had opened up it was all about the spices, no candy at all. It was ample-bodied with a nice finish. Very good acidity, well-balanced with mouth-puckering tannins.

Quite yummy!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Verite La Joie 2000

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

A blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc, this blend's name "La Joie" means "Joy" in French and it lives up to its name. It was truly a joy to drink!

Dark garnet in color, it had aromas of tobacco, a little bit of mushroom and vanilla, which followed through on the palate. Also evident on the palate were hints of cherry and a bit of earthiness. Full in body with a nice lengthy finish. Good acidity, well-balanced with ultra-smooth tannins. The nicest thing about this wine? We have one more bottle in our cellar ;-)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wild Duck Creek Shiraz Springflat 2003

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

Those of you who are familiar with my tastes know that I love a good Australian Shiraz. That's why I think this one is pure bliss in a bottle! Deep, dark red-violet in color. Loads of fruit with notes of eucalyptus. Jammy fruit (can you say "blackberry"?) on the palate, full in body with a lengthy finish. Good acidity, mouth-watering. Strong, but not overpowering, tannins. In a word...delicious!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Beaucanon Merlot Jacques de Coninck 1999

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

This wine is one that we acquired when we closed our store last June. I've been looking forward to opening it since it is a slightly older vintage. I wanted to see if it's held up. It has!

The color is a beautiful deep russet/ruby red. The nose is full of dark fruits (raspberry, plum) and just a little bit of tobacco. The palate is where this wine shines. Full-bodied with oak notes, lots of fruit and a good dose of tannins. It's nicely balanced with a good long finish.

I think we could have even held onto this wine for another year or two. But why wait? It was good now!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc 2005

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

Normally I drink red wines, but occasionally I'm in the mood for a nice white. Le Cigare Blanc is a blend of 54% Roussanne and 46% Grenache Blanc. It's golden straw in color and wonderfully aromatic. Flavors of melon, pineapple and even a little bit of banana. Well-balanced with good acidity and a surprisingly long finish. Love it!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Page Wine Cellars Le Petit Page Metlot 2004

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

The movie "Sideways" really put a hamper on Merlot sales after the movie was released. That's really sad, because there are some terrific Merlots out there. And this is definitely one of them!

Dark red-violet in color. Aromas of oak, dark berries, spices and saddle leather, with the vaguest hint of eucalyptus. This is a hefty Merlot, one that could easily be mistaken for a Cabernet Sauvignon, but just a little more delicate. Notes of tobacco and dark berries on the palate, it just seems to coat the tongue. Well-balanced with soft tannins and a lengthy finish.

I've also had two of winemaker Bryan Page's other wines: the Napa Red Blend and The Stash, both of which are incredible. He also makes a Cabernet Franc called The Fury. I'll be getting some of that soon and will review it as soon as I taste it. I know it will be good. In my mind, Bryan Page can do no wrong!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Testarossa Syrah Thompson Vineyard 2005

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

Last September Tom and I went to California to visit some friends for my birthday. They took us to several vineyards, Testarossa being one of them. We ended up joining their wine club. This was one of our recent club wines.

Beautiful ruby red in color, it had lots of vibrant fruit aromas. Full in body with loads of ripe fruit (raspberries, plums). Smooth tannins, well-balanced, good acidity with a nice finish. An excellent club wine!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Elyse Petite Sirah Rutherford 2004

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

This monster of a Petite Sirah was inky purple with a red-violet rim, and had legs that would make Ginger Rogers envious. Floral aromas of maybe violets or lilacs with dark fruits and a hint of eucalyptus. The palate was luscious, full-bodied and very dense, definitely not for the faint-of-heart. It had a finish that lasted long after you could even remember what wine you were drinking. In short, it was awesome!

Kendall Jackson Taylor Peak Merlot 2003

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

Tom and I had tried this wine at a wine dinner a year or so ago and had bought a bottle and put it aside for a bit. We took it to dinner last night and were reminded why we purchased it.

It had a beautiful, lush nose of dark fruits and vanilla with a hint of tobacco. Ample-bodied with soft tannins, it was nicely restrained. This Merlot was well-balanced with a good lengthy finish.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I like John Mayer even more now because of his recent blog post...

In the day and age when most celebrities are being complete putzes getting DUIs and going into rehab, John Mayer shows that he's responsible when it comes to drinking. Copied directly from his blog:

"I'm taking to the blog today to share something with you that I feel more passionate about than I saw coming.
I want to make it short and sweet so that anybody who wants to re-print it can copy and paste without editing...

Went out to dinner Thursday night. My car. One glass of wine. Carpooled from dinner to go out to one more place. Everyone in my car. At the next spot, I do the Diet Coke with Lime thing. My favorite scotch (Lagavulin 16 year) arrives under my nose. "Can't do it," I say. Then I find out my friend has switched to Designated Driver and has a plan that involves everyone getting home safe. Cool. I love Lagavulin when the time is right. Now it's the end of the night and I'm feeling wonderfully buzzy and ready to get dropped off to my house in my car, except the person that was going to follow my car in the DD's car to drive him back isn't in shape to drive either.

It's 2 o'clock in the morning. I call my housemate Chad. Chad's sleeping. He was in the studio all day. I explain to him that I need him to jump in the back seat of my car, ride to the DD's car and drive me back home. Of course Chad says "yes" and comes through like a champ. A champ, I say.

Here's what I want to tell you:

If I, incredibly hot/fugly John Mayer can make that call, so can you.

The distance from the parking lot to my house was about 5 miles, mostly straight shot up the coast of Santa Monica, zero traffic. And I didn't drive it. Me. The guy who gets the VIP velvet rope treatment in life.

Oh, and the call? It's not the coolest you'll ever sound. And the logistics? It's kind of inelegant. You trace the same route twice when all you want to do is fall into bed. But you gotta do it.

This is all coming from a guy who you can be sure would have found a sexier way to get home if there was one available. And there just isn't, especially in LA. (You can be sexy again the next day when you wake up with the rest of your big, beautiful life in front of you.)

I'm not writing this to earn golf claps, it's just that if I'm going to stand in any way as an ambassador of something cool or influential, this is more important than any pair of sneakers or a guitar.

And to give a big high five to the Chads of the world.

See you around


Way to go, John!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Robert Kacher Selections Wine Dinner at Blue Bamboo

I love wine dinners. You get to taste some really good food paired with some really good wines. Last night was no exception. Wines from importer Robert Kacher were featured. The dinner was prepared by Executive Chef Dennis Chan and his Sous Chefs Michael Kimpland, Alexander Finley, Jessica Iglesias, Katelyn Matchett and William Bell.

First course was Corn Tortilla Stack with Green Mango Salad paired with Tariquet Ugni Blanc/Colombard 2006. The wine was wonderfully fresh and lively. There was a mineral quality on the nose, and the palate had melon and lemon flavors. It had a good acidity and a nice, crisp finish.

Next up was Panko Crusted Bean Cakes with Balsamic Apple Slaw paired with Manciat-Poncet Macon Charnay 2006. This lovely white wine had a hint of butter on the nose, but it was no oaky at all. Tropical fruit on the palate with a kind of butterscotchy finish. This was a wonderful pairing. The creaminess of the bean cake went very well with the wine.

Next up was Chile-Soy Fried Chicken Paillard paired with Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Rose 2006. The wine was a darker rose, a blend of 40% Cinsault, 30% Grenache and 30% Syrah. There were faint aromas of strawberries that followed through on the palate. This was a substantial wine with a fairly lengthy finish. I would never have thought to have paired a rose with this, but it was great! The sweetness of the sauce really brought out the fruit.

For the fourth course we had Petite lamb Chop with Raisin-Almond Cous Cous paired with Domaine Font de Michelle Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2004 and Domaine Brunel Chateauneuf-du-Pape "Les Cailloux" 2003. These two Rhone wines could not have been more different if they tried!

The Font de Michelle is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre and had beautiful berry aromas with a burst of vanilla. After a short time in the glass, the vanilla blew off and was replaced by oak. (No American oak aging!) There was no earthiness that is so prevalent in some Chateauneufs, but it was very tannic due to being so young. This wine definitely needs some time in the bottle to age.

The "Les Cailloux" is a blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre and 15% Syrah. This one was a bit more earthy on the nose, with some spices rounding out the aromas. Soft cherry flavors on the palate, very dry. This one was more balanced and focused. Both paired very well with the Lamb.

Last was the dessert course: Duval County Ponderosa Lemon Creme Brulee paired with Beaumalric Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2004. WOW! Gorgeous aromas of lilacs, lemon meringue pie and (I know it sounds silly, but) talcum powder. This Muscat was sweet without being cloying. Very bright and vibrant with good acidity. A great pairing!

All in all it was a terrific meal. I highly recommend you finding a wine dinner in your area. If you can't find one, get some friends together and do your own. They're lots of fun :-D

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Turnbull Old Bull Red 2003

photo © Linda Blakely 2008

What's in this blend? 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Syrah, 9% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Tempranillo, 2% Petite Sirah, 2% Sangiovese and 2% Petit Verdot. More like what's not in this blend?

I get several different aromas: earth, dark fruits, tobacco, spices, white pepper. The palate is rich and lush and full of healthy tannins. The aromas follow through and leave a substantial finish. If this wine doesn't turn your tongue purple, I don't know what will.

I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up!