Saturday, February 28, 2009

Gascon Malbec 2008 From Argentina - My Good Cheap Wine of The Week

Thanks to all those visiting this site for the first time, and a special what's up to those who have graced me with your presence in the past. I happen to be in a very good mood tonight, I feel as good as a 19 year old college boy finding out his girlfriend isn't pregnant. The reason for the good mood, is the fact that I've just tried a wine that for most of you fruit forward tasting wino's, you could grow to love. The Gascon Malbec 2008 from Argetina is definitely a wine that people who are big into the Australian wines can appreciate. Normally, when I deal with wines from Chile, Spain, and Argentina I tend to look for certain characteristics, such as soil and vegetation. What's interesting about this wine is it plays around with a more fruity characteristic, also incorporating chocolate on the mid palate, with a strawberry finish. Because this wine is so young, the alcohol is apparent in the nose (because it's young, you could let it sit for three to five years before consuming, the alcohol should digress by then), but if you know what to smell for, you'll also catch Cassis, dark currant, vanilla, and a hint of leathery tobacco. Upon tasting, there is great transition from beginning to mid palate, which is definitely something to be desired in a 12 dollar bottle of wine. I don't know about you, but I like anything that transitions from Cassis to chocolate to strawberry, and this wine does just that. This Argentinean Malbec is a good wine all in all, and for all of those who are looking for a pair with this wine, don't look for seafood or steak, but maybe a prime rib or chocolate dessert. Lastly, to all of you wino's, continue to love, live, eat and drink wine.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Enjoying LIfe Through Friends and Wine

This week I wanted to get away from the normal Good Cheap Wine of the Week, I wanted to focus on friendships, food, and wine. About six years ago, around when I was starting to realize a real passion for wine, as luck would have it, I met a couple of friends who knew much more about earths sweet nectar than I did. One guy, an old friend of mine, Nick, who now stays up in New York, used to say "wine brings people together," at that time I did understand his meaning, but had not yet grasped it's depth. Well, it's six years later, and I've had quite a long time to ponder what Nick was really saying, the man was absolutely right. Most people, especially in the present time, are overly stressed because the economy and life has dictated so. For some, I'm sure that it has been a while since you've connected with anything outside of your day job. From what I've been hearing in the media, 2009 is supposed to be about change, so when was the last time you changed your weekly routine. Well I decided to do just that this past week and I just feel like sharing some of it with you.
Just to highlight some activities I participated in this past week, a few guys I know, we all try to get together bi-weekly, and either have dinner, go to the cigar shop, or a chosen Wine Bar. This week, a couple of us went to Vintage in San Jose CA, at Santana Row(good call by my good friend Jafari). While we were tasting our flights of wine and speaking of world domination by us, ambitious young renaissance men, both my friends Ododa and Jafari took a sharp right on the road of this collective conversation and started talking about how being places like Vintage (for example), helped them get through the week and I immediately agreed. Ododa then followed up asking about my wine blog, and why not make an exception this week and write about how wine and places like this brings people together. Nick's words immediately jumped to forefront of my mind and I realized, wine and good converstions, for me is like therapy, it helps me to escape this corporate mindset I get stuck in throughout my work week.
To tell you the truth I was blessed enough to have two really great experiences this week in relation to wine, food, and good company. My experience started at Vintage on Wednesday, which for those who ever watched Cheers, I feel like Norm when I walk in this place. The staff there are inviting, and not to knock other wine bars, but Vintage employees are very knowledgeable about their wines and enjoy helping first timers understand that quality does not always come with a huge price tag on a bottle. So for all of you, who may have been to a wine bar in the past, and maybe was afraid to ask questions, go to vintage, and ask away.

My next experience led me up to Half Moon Bay, to a wonderful restaurant called Crab Landing. A beautiful place with beautiful ambience, and as told by the staff, because I arrived at night, there are also wonderful view of the ocean during the day. A good friend of mine Named Dante, invited my lady and I up there to hang out with some of his friends. Now for anyone who knows "The Mayor," I mean Dante, knows that he knows everyone in the bay area and he also loves to bring people together over good food and wine. So because it was Dante inviting us we drove up, and it was worth the trip. In the dinner party there was about 12 of us and the conversation was lively, as we shared many a dishes. One of the dishes that stood out to me was the Calamari that was on point like a military sniper taking a shot, it was literally that good, with sweet breading that paired extremely well with the only bottle of Vouvray on the current menu. Another dish that tickled my fancy was the Bluepoint Oysters, which also caught the sweetness on the finish of the Vouvray very well. We as a group ordered a number of wines which I will not bore you with, but the wine list is strong, and as I heard from the manager himself, and also witnessed in his cellar, patrons can expect an even more balanced to come. So definitely if you are in the area drop by Crab Landing and enjoy the atmosphere of quality service, food and wine.
Lastly, I know with the recession, people have been stressed out which has led to them cutting down on spending money. I say continue to be frugal, but sometimes it's okay to step outside of work life and catch up with some friends or loved ones, you may, as I did, find some sanity. So go out this week or weekend with some friends or family and leave a response online, I would love to hear what you guys and gals experienced while out. Oh yeah, and include some wine or food to the equation. Take care as usual and I'll be back to wine next week.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Veranda Cabernet-Carmenere 2004 - My Good Cheap Wine of The Week

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, it's been a busy last two weeks. You've got to love California weather, it feels like winter one day and the next, the sun is shining and its mid 70's outside. Well with these drastic changes in weather comes colds and flu season,which I was became a victim to this last week, and let me tell you, it definitely wasn't fun. Along with having a cold, the yearly reminder of one's mortality came about, which of course was my Birthday, and by the way, to all who helped me celebrate, thanks for coming out, and all of those who couldn't be there, I'll save a spot for you next year. When I wasn't coughing, blowing my nose, or whining to my Girlfriend about not having a fever even though the thermometer sat in contradiction, I got a chance to try a few more bottles of wine. By the way, shout out to my lady, Edna, thanks for taking care of this sick, hard headed, old man last week, Love you. Enough with the mushiness, I know this Blog is not about my relationship with my lady, it's about wine. Everyone who has been taking this journey with me in which we have been learning about numerous wines that have the ability to expand our palates, let me help you to understand that ever so often you run into a diamond in the rough. It's inevitable when drinking wine, if you drink enough you'll find something that hits your spot. It's life, you try enough things and you find out what you really like or dislike, well let me introduce you to a new Diamond in my life, Veranda Cabernet-Carmenere 2004.

I don't know, maybe it's puppy love, but all who know me, knows I drink a good amount of wine, and for something to really surprise me, it takes a lot, well here it is, I'm Surprised. To start off with the nose, which was intriguing enough for me to want to bite through the glass, you can smell plum and wild cherry, bitter chocolate, redwood bark with a spicy undertone, and yes, let me assure you, I haven't gotten to the taste. You know what, let's get down to it, I was going to get into the history of the grapes in this wine, but you know, I fill like drinking because this nose smells too interesting. Anyone who is reading this and is actually interested in the history of these grapes, it'll be in the next paragraph, but let's talk about how this wine tastes. A silky smooth transition from the time the wine hit your tongue, to the mid palate, which has intensified fresh fruit, and fulfills this experience with a long finish, that lasts for about a minute and a half. Just to kind of break down how many characteristics this wine has, it goes from cassis to vanilla and chocolate to wild cherries on that very long finish. Elegant is the word that describes this wine, and what makes it such, is the balance found between the floral fruit components and how it's cultivated in the hands of the wine maker. The food that perfectly matches this wine is nothing less than a Filet Mignon, so for all of you looking for a pairing, be ready to pull out your wallets, because the cassis in the wine adds bright enough fruit to compliment a medium rare cut of one of the finest aspects of Beef.

So, as I promised, for the history buffs, The grape Camenere is one of the 6 original grapes from Bordeaux in France, so it has a bit of royal blood. During the 1880's in the bordeaux region there was an outbreak of phylloxera, which destroyed a number of vines, one being the Camenere, so when they tried to replant the grape it did not take due to the cold weather. One of the few places where Camenere, in the future, found a home was Chile, and now it is the most planted grape in the country. I'm not goin to waste you time with the Cabernet Grape (I know this is a Blend) because it is probably the most favored out of the bordeaux region, and you should already know it by now, but if you don't, feel free to leave a comment I promise to get back to you. My last thought to you is to take a walk on the wild side, expand you palate, try something new and whether you like it or not post a remark and let me know how you feel.

By the way, for all those that read my rambling, I'm considering, in the future, doing a tasting of some of the wines I've showcased, with appetizers that could pair well, at a location I'm working out at the moment. Let me know what you think, I would love to hear your feedback.