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 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!