Gastronomic Fight Club SM

Mischief. Mayhem. Soup.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Master Sommelier Introductory Course - Midwest Location

posted by snekse
When I found out that Jesse Becker was going to be offering part of the Master Sommelier curriculum here in Omaha, I was excited and intrigued. I asked him to share some of the details about the course so there would be more awareness for those who might be interested. Here is the information he had to share.

Gastronomic Fight Club has invited me to share the details of the Master Sommelier Introductory Sommelier Course, the first ever offered in Nebraska, being held at the Omaha Hilton hotel on November 11th and 12th. The course is intended for hospitality professionals, but is excellent training for anyone involved in the retail and wholesale wine trade. Even if you aren't in the wine trade, consumers will also benefit greatly from this course, because it places emphasis on improving tasting skills, and the lectures will thoroughly cover all the major wine-producing regions in the world.

Joining me are Wayne Belding, MS of Boulder, Colorado and Ron Edwards, MS of Charlevoix, Michigan. Wayne and Ron represent two of the top educators in our organization and have a true wealth of information and experience. I always look forward to teaching with them because I learn from them as well.

The Master Sommelier Introductory Sommelier Course is the first tier of education and testing conducted by the Court of Master Sommeliers. Candidates receive intensive instruction on product knowledge, beverage service, and blind tasting. We intend to provide hospitality professionals with well-rounded beverage expertise at the most rigorous standards.

The two-day educational course will include lectures on viticulture, vinification, and all of the world’s major wine-producing regions. Additional lectures will cover the production method of spirits and sake, proper wine service, social skills, wine legislation, and food and wine pairing.

Students will be trained extensively in blind tasting, a wine tasting skill that enables you to recognize typical characteristics of wines and to detect basic faults. This is the method we use to assess candidates for the Certified, Advanced, and Master exams.

At the end of the two-day educational course, candidates take a multiple-choice theory examination for which a passing grade of 60% is required. The Introductory Sommelier Course is a prerequisite for the Certified Sommelier Exam.

Please follow the link below for registration:
https://mastersommeliers.org/pages/application.jsp
Thank you and I look forward to seeing you in Omaha.
Jesse Becker, MS

Tags || | | | | | | more... |

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Meet Jesse Becker

posted by snekse
Gastronomic Fight Club is excited to announce that we have a new writer joining our team. Jesse Becker will occasionally be contributing articles about wine, coffee, the Omaha dining scene, and whatever else his expertise lends itself to. Please join us in welcoming him.

To go with that announcement, we also have this announcement to share:

Master Sommelier and Nebraska native Jesse Becker has joined Chef Paul Kulik in his newest venture, The Boiler Room Restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska. Becker returns to Omaha after working as a sommelier in some of America’s best restaurants, including Michael Chiarello’s Tra Vigne, Charlie Trotter’s, and NoMI at the Park Hyatt-Chicago. He spent the last two years at the James Beard Award winning restaurant Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado, during which time he passed the rigorous Master Sommelier exam, making him one of 168 people in the world to achieve this distinction.

The Boiler Room is a collaboration between Chef Paul Kulik and the Mercers, the visionaries behind the Old Market arts and dining district in Omaha. Chef Kulik, also an Omaha native, returned recently from working in Berlin and Paris and has previously partnered with the Mercers as former chef of La Buvette.

"I am thrilled to be back in Omaha and to have found colleagues like Chef Kulik and the Mercers," says Becker. "They have done an amazing job with the space [a former boiler room in the old Bemis Bag factory] and we share an aesthetic for pristine ingredients, prepared without flourish, and wine service that is simple, excellent, and unassuming."

The Boiler Room will be an ingredient-driven restaurant inspired by "chalk-board menus" where plates will vary constantly, and with a preference for organic produce and meats. The wine list will focus on French country wines and will open with 80 to 150 selections.

The Boiler Room, in the Old Market, 1110 Jones Street, Omaha, Nebraska www.theboilerroomrestaurant.com

RELATED LINKS:
REVIEW: The Boiler Room Restaurant (GFC)
The Boiler Room Restaurant
Paul Kulik and Jeese Becker provide a Boiler Room Update
Jesse Becker, MS

Tags || | | | | | | more... |

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

First Annual Rock, Stock and Barrel

posted by snekse
I'm heading to Rock, Stock and Barrel this weekend. Are you?

I do have some updates on the event. The cost is now $15 for admission. This gets you access to 7 different bands playing throughout the day. Food and drinks will be available to purchase from Metro's Institute for the Culinary Arts and Soaring Wings Vineyard. I'm told food will be about $3-6 per item. Wine should be reasonably priced as well.

The band lineup for Saturday is:
2:30 - Kyle Harvey
3:30 - Matt Cox
4:30 - Brad Hoshaw
5:30 - Scott Severin & the Milton Burlesque
7:00 - Holy Smoke (parts of the The Jazzwholes with Mo Jo Poe)
8:00 - Whipkey 3
9:00 - Sarah Benck & The Robbers

Here's the (slightly modified) press release for the event.

Food & Spirits Magazine Announces Rock, Stock & Barrel Sept. 13

Food & Spirits Magazine, of Omaha, is pleased to announce its first event, Rock, Stock & Barrel, which will be held at Soaring Wings Vineyard on September 13th . The event, held from 2-10:30 p.m., will be a benefit for the Omaha Food Bank and feature seven top Omaha bands and musicians, wine from Soaring Wings Vineyard as well as food from the Institute for the Culinary Arts at Metropolitan Community College.

"For our first event, we really wanted to bring together food, spirits, music and a good cause to just have some fun," Erik Totten publisher of Food & Spirits Magazine said. "All of the people involved are volunteering their time to make this a good event for the Food Bank so I hope we get a lot of people out there to enjoy some good food and wine and listen to some great music."

Rock, Stock & Barrel's musical lineup includes Sarah Benck & the Robbers, The Whipkey 3, Kyle Harvey, Matt Cox, Brad Hoshaw, Scott Severin & the Milton Burlesque and Wholey Smoke. Tickets for the all-afternoon event are $15 and can purchased at etix.com and at all Etix locations or by calling 402-203-6145. Tickets can also be purchased at the event.

Food & Spirits Magazine is a locally owned full-color glossy magazine dedicated to all things food and spirits in Omaha, NE. After releasing their premiere issue in September of 2007, which won four awards, the publication has released their fourth issue and has launched their website (http://www.fsmomaha.com/) as of September 2008. For more information contact Erik Totten at 402-203-6145 or through email at .

Rock Stock and Barrel 2008 Poster

Tags || | | | | | | more... |

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

30 Percent off at Wine.com

posted by snekse
Nice! Wine.com has a 3-day 7-day sale that started this morning! According to the website...
Three Days Only – Get a whopping 30% off case discount!
Never before has Wine.com given a 30% case discount. Now's your chance to stock up for the summer and help us make room for new vintages. Buy any 12 (mix or match) of select bottles and save 30%. Enter promo code SAVE30 at checkout. See site for details and restrictions.
Three Days Only – Get a whopping 30% off case discount! Expires 5.27

RELATED LINKS:
90 point wines under $20 at Wine.com. Shop Now!
Bernardus 2005 Chardonnay - White Wine
Annie's Lane 2001 Copper Trail Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre - Rhone Blends Red Wine
Silver Oak 2003 Napa Valley now in stock - Just $99 at Wine.com

Tags || | | | | | |

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

REVIEW: Vinturi Wine Aerator

posted by snekse
Wine and fluid dynamics are two topics not often discussed together, but this holiday season, you may have a reason to.*

When I first heard about the Vinturi essential wine aerator, I was highly intrigued. I had just read an article about the Bernoulli principle and how it's used when designing race cars. When used properly, it will actually suck a car down to the road by taking advantage of the differentiating wind speed above and below the car. How cool is that? Then I read about a wine aerator that uses the same principles, so of course I had to investigate.

So here's how this thing works. You have what basically amounts to a funnel. At a specific point along the narrowest route of the tunnel, there are two narrow holes that intersect the funnel path at a perpendicular angle. When you pour wine in the top of the funnel, it creates a bit of a vortex as it spirals down the funnel's path. As it passes by the two small holes, it draws air in and theoretically, aerates your wine. The aeration, in turn, is supposed to enrich the bouquet, smooth the tannins and enhance the flavors. The idea just sounded too cool. I had to check this thing out.

I contacted the company and asked for a press sample to review. I'll admit I was skeptical on how much snake oil was in this, but it appealed to the geek in me. As did the prospect of being able to open a bottle of wine, pouring it through a gadget and getting the same effects of decanting the bottle for an hour. I drink a lot of big reds that benefit from decanting and decanting is about the only way I can get my wife to drink more than one glass of Cabernet. Could this little funnel really be the oenophile's perfect toy?

The answer...maybe. Disappointing I know. I've seriously put this thing through it's paces holding multiple blind testings. The results are interesting, but I have to say a bit inconclusive. I can tell you without a doubt that it may alter your perception of a particular wine. ;-) What I can't tell you is if it will alter your perception of every wine and if you will consistently enjoy or consistently be disappointed with that altered perception.

Perception is the key word here. Who knows if on a chemical or molecular basis that the wine changed at all. Maybe the aeration dissipates some of the alcohol vapor or something like that, but I have a hard time believing it does much more than that. At most, I would think it might do something similar to an emulsion and suspends more oxygen molecules in the wine. I'm not a science nerd, so I really can't speak much to this. What I do know is that almost every person who did a blind comparison noted a difference between a glass poured through the Vinturi wine aerator and one that wasn't. What made this finding even more shocking was the fact that those same testers were also able to spot my control test and noted no differences when both glasses were poured directly from the bottle!?

So the question you might be asking yourself at this point is, "Yeah, but which did they prefer?" The answer is -- it depends. Obviously taste is subjective and not everyone is going to like the same things. To make the matter more complicated, there often wasn't a consensus on which glass was preferred. The only consensus was that they were different. At times, some people thought they were so different that they claimed I was trying to trick them by giving them two different wines. There was, however, one trend that appeared. Mid-priced reds. About the $30-$50 range. By a large majority, most tasters preferred the wine aerated with the Vinturi wine aerator over a wine poured straight out of the bottle or a wine poured in one glass then poured in another (to agitate it a little). I won't try to speculate why this is, but I will throw in one caveat. The tasters also preferred a glass shaken vigorously in an empty bottle over a non-shaken glass. Chew on that for a while.

So what's the verdict on this speed decanter? As a wine accessory, I can't say it's a necessity or that you'll like every wine more after you use it. But it looks great, is very unique, is fun to play with, is a great conversation piece and with a price tag under $40, I think it's a great gift for a wine lover who already has all of the essentials.

Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator

Rating: 87

If you live in Omaha, the only retailer I know of that sells these is The Omaha Wine Co. If you know of another, please let me know. Otherwise, you can always order one through Amazon which tends to have the best prices anyway. If you have lots of wine buddies, you can also order a 2-pack or 4-pack to save some dough. ***UPDATE*** Vinturi also released a nifty new tower that holds the device while you pour. Nice! They're also making a White Wine Aerator that's supposed to be different from the original, but I'm not sure I really buy into that. If you're really into wine though, you can buy a Vinturi Red and White Wine combo set. No ultimate deluxe premium combo set available yet that contains a tower, both aerators and the aerator cleaning brush.

RELATED LINKS:
"I'm a skeptic about wine gadgets...So I surprised myself with my enthusiastic response to the Vinturi... I tried it on a tannic red wine and it instantly tasted better."
-- W. Blake Gray @ The San Francisco Chronicle

"I was immediately attracted by both the simplicity of the design and the spectacular results. Vinturi delivers on its promise of effective, quick aeration"
-- Charlie Palmer @ the Charlie Palmer Restaurant Group

WINE REVIEWS:
WBW 19: When in Rhone
WBW 20: Anything But Chardonnay...
WBW 27: Icy Desserts (Ice Wine)
WBW 28: Festive Sparkling Wines
WBW 30: New World Syrah
WBW 31: Box Wines
WBW 34: Washington Cabernets
WBW 45: Old World Rieslings

Vote
Vote for GFC as one of your favorite Food, Wine, Beer and Spirits blogs.

Tags || | | | | | | more... |

Labels: ,

Monday, September 24, 2007

Order Modicum Wine from The French Laundry

posted by snekse
Several months ago I wrote about some of the mystery around the amazing Modicum Cabernet Sauvignon served at The French Laundry as their house wine. Thanks to an anonymous commenter and Paul Roberts, the Corporate Wine and Beverage Director for The French Laundry, I have some more exciting news for everyone.

While you may still find it difficult, if not impossible, to get a reservation at The French Laundry , you can now at least drink their wine. Though only available in very limited quantities, they have decided to start offering Modicum, along with a new Bordeaux blend, for off-site sales. Pair this wine with some French Laundry recipes and you have the next best thing to actually getting a reservation.

September 15, 2007


We are pleased to announce the second release of wines under the Modicum label. This offering includes the 2003 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2005 St. Helena Red Wine. These bottlings are a collaborative project between Chef Thomas Keller and Master Sommelier, Paul Roberts.

The meaning of modicum is “a small amount of something unique.” To us, Modicum represents a small amount of the very best fruit that we can locate.. This fall Modicum has grown to two wines: a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford and a 2005 Napa Valley Red from St. Helena.

The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon comes from a dramatic site located in Rutherford. In this vineyard, sandy loam soils cover composted volcanic ash, and coupled with its locale above the valley floor compose a site that yields distinct fruit with remarkable ripeness and still the elusive element of finesse.

Our newest offering is the 2005 Napa Valley Red Wine from St. Helena. This wine is a blend of three vineyards in the St. Helena AVA, which are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The unique terroir of each site is apparent in the complexity of this blend. The backbone of the blend is from a rocky, high elevation parcel east of the city of St. Helena. Two vineyards in the western hills of the appellation complete the blend: one parcel is north of the St. Helena city limits planted in dusty red soil, the other is nestled against the base of Spring Mountain along an alluvial plain filled with decomposed river rocks.

As envisioned, the Modicum project is extremely small in production. Only 100 cases of the 2003 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon and only 150 cases of the 2005 St. Helena Red Wine were produced.

Thank you for joining us in the excitement of our second public release! We look forward to hearing from you soon. If you have any questions, we welcome you to contact Paul Roberts by fax at 707.944.0447 or by email at proberts@modicum.net

With Warm Regards,

Thomas Keller     Paul Roberts, MS


MODICUM ORDER FORM




***UPDATE***
They have new availability offering per an email from The French Laundry's Erin Tichy:
We are pleased to be able to offer you The French Laundry’s Modicum Wine; the Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 and 2005 vintages along with the St. Helena Red Blend, 2006 vintage.

The meaning of modicum is “a small amount of something unique.” To us, Modicum represents a small amount of the very best fruit attainable.

The Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 and 2005, comes from a dramatic site located in the Rutherford appellation. This vineyard which has sandy loam soils coupled with its locale above the valley floor, composes a site that yields distinct fruit with remarkable ripeness.

The Napa Valley Red Wine Blend, 2006, is a blend of three vineyards in the St. Helena appellation which is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The unique terroir of each site is apparent in the complexity of this blend. The backbone of the wine is from a rocky, highly elevated parcel east of St. Helena. Two additional vineyards in the western hills complete the blend; one parcel is north of St. Helena planted in dusty red soil, the other is nestled against the base of Spring Mountain amongst decomposed river rock.

As originally conceived, the Modicum project is extremely small in its production. Only 135 cases of the Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004; 110 cases of the Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005 and 160 cases of the St. Helena Red Wine Blend were produced.

Thank you for your continued support! We look forward to hearing from you soon. If you have any questions, we welcome you to contact Erin Tichy by fax at 707.944.1974 or by email at etichy@modicum.net

Prices:
2004 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon $115.00
2005 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon $115.00
2006 St. Helena Bordeaux Blend $115.00

Due to the state law restrictions on the shipment and delivery of wine to consumers, we will transfer all wine purchased by you to a Vintrust wine storage facility in Napa, CA. Vintrust will charge a handling fee of $1.50 per bottle and your wine will be transferred into a Vintrust wine storage facility in Napa, CA. Once your order is confirmed, you must contact Vintrust directly via telephone or email at 1.877.VINTRUST or info@vintrust.com in order to arrange for storage or shipping.

For an order form, or If you have, any questions please email: etichy@modicum.net.

RELATED LINKS:
RESTAURANT REVIEW: The French Laundry, Yountville (by Alder @ Vinography)
PHOTOS: Dinner at The French Laundry
INTERVIEW: Thomas Keller
NOTES: Modicum on CellerTracker.com

Tags || | | | | | | more... |

Labels: , ,

Click here to save $20 on Internet Specials at Gurneys.com

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

WBW 34: Washington Cabernets

posted by snekse

2002 Hurricane Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon

It's time for another Wine Blogging Wednesday. It's been a couple of months since I've participated in a WBW event, but with this month's theme, Washington Cabs, how could I resist. Our host for this month is Through The Walla Walla Grape Vine™.

I really wanted to like this wine more because I thought it had great potential when I bought it. Granted I drank it about 5 years before I was expecting to. When I first tried this upon release, it had lots of acid and massive tannins, so I thought it would be an ideal bottle to lay down. There was a good amount of sediment adhered to the bottle and I needed a Washington Cab to drink for WBW #34. So I opened it.

Now on with the wine!

2002 Hurricane Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
750ml ~ $21.99 (wineaccess.com)

Vintage: 2002
Type: Red
Producer: Hurricane Ridge
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Designation: n/a
Vineyard: n/a
Country: USA
Region: Washington
SubRegion: n/a
Appellation: Washington


Tasting Notes
Currently it still has lots of acid and tannin, though the acid seems to be more prevalent than the tannin. You get a brief attack of tannin up front, but the middle and finish are dominated by the acid. Definitely need food with this. Luckily I had an 8oz. ribeye steak to stand up to it. Tried straight out of the bottle, through a Vinturi speed decanter and a regular decanter. None of them produced the results I was hoping for. It was difficult to find the fruit in this wine. As such, my notes are a little vague.

Gorgeous blackberry juice color. Very oaked with a charred vanilla bouquet. Darker type nose of chocolate, dusty leather with a touch of barn. Taste profiles of raisin-y fruit, blackberry, black cherry.

Rating: 85

I'm still pretty new to aging wine, so I'm not sure if this was aged too long, not long enough, if it was going through a "dumb" phase or what. Anyone have any insights?

***UPDATE***
If you'd like to see then entire WBW round-up, you can find it on the Through The Walla Walla Grape Vine ™ website.

Vote
Vote for GFC as one of your favorite Food, Wine, Beer and Spirits blogs.

Tags || | | | | | | more... |

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

WBW 31: Box Wines

posted by snekse
It's time for another Wine Blogging Wednesday. This month's theme is Box Wines & Non-Traditional Packaging hosted by Box Wines.

Unfortunately I was unable to locate a box of DTOUR Macon-Villages, the first boxed wine I've wanted to drink. The "D" in DTOUR is for it's creators: Dominique Lafon (vigneron), Daniel Johnnes (sommelier) and Daniel Boulud (chef). If Daniel Boulud is willing to put his name on it, I'm willing to pay $36+ to try it... if I could find it.

So I set out to find the most expensive box wine I could find, or at least the one that sounded the most interesting. I was a bit surprised to see how wide the selection of box wines was, but didn't find anything that I wanted to try. Then I remembered I had snapped up a 4-pack of Sofia Blanc de Blanc cans on sale a couple of months earlier. This would be the perfect time to crack open a cold one :-)

Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs Can
For those of you who haven't seen the shiny pink cans, it's a clever marketing gimmick to grab some of that younger, hip, trendy money. Single serving cans of champagne each with their own straw for drinking. As a confessed sucker for marketing, how could I not buy some?

Now on with the wine!

N.V. Francis Coppola Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs
Glass of Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs
187ml ~ $6.00 $3.00 On Sale (The Tasting Room)

Vintage: N.V.
Type: White - Sparkling
Producer: Francis Coppola
Varietal: Pinot Blanc Blend
Designation: Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs
Vineyard: N/A
Country: USA
Region: California
SubRegion: Central Coast
Appellation: Monterey County


Tasting Notes
A pale straw in color. Not much of a nose, or at least nothing really out of the ordinary for a blanc de blancs sparkling wine. Lots of acidity in the form for green apple, balanced with a slight sweetness and a dry grassy yeast flavor. The effervescence was almost startling, accentuated by the straw. The bubbles actually added some complexity to this wine as what you tasted bounced back and forth between the flavor profiles listed about. The finish skewed a little more towards the sweet end with a kind of peach/apricot taste. Not a top of the line wine, but if I could find it for $3 a can again, I'd consider buying it. It would be a fun summer wine in a perfect container for picnics. I did not detect a strong metallic taste as some have complained about. If this is a concern, they do sell this in bottles as well.

Rating: 87

So not a bad wine. I think it hits the target market very well. It's about as far away from a brut as you can get without being cloying. A very easy drinking summer sparkler.

Vote
Vote for GFC as one of your favorite Food, Wine, Beer and Spirits blogs.

Tags || | | | | | | more... |

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

INTERVIEW: Thomas Keller

posted by snekse
Label for The French Laundry's Modicum Cabernet
No, I didn't get a chance to interview Thomas Keller. To be honest, even if I got the chance, I have no idea what I would ask him. Instead I thought I'd share a recent Wine Spectator interview with the owner of The French Laundry empire.

Chef Talk: Thomas Keller

What I thought was interesting, but obviously fitting, was the fact that they discussed The French Laundry's house wine - Modicum.

Modicum instantly became one of my favorite wines the first time I tried it. I remember being blown away by it's rich, but bright chocolaty fruit flavors with amazing complexity and balance. I've been a bit obsessed about it ever since.

It's very rare that Modicum gets more than a passing mention in an interview, so to eek out some additional information about this amazing Cabernet is exciting. In general, the details about this wine are minimal and not always reliable. Beyond the basics, it's been protected under a shroud of secrecy. Of course that, combined with the French Laundry name just adds to the wine's sexiness.

For a little peak under that shroud, here's what I have been able to gleam from various sources about the wine.
  • It's made from a single vineyard in the Rutherford district of Napa Valley
  • Bottled under the name Vita Morrell Vineyards, but all indications seem to point that this is bottled by Sloan Estate
  • The 2000 vintage *may* have been bottled by Colgin from their Tychson Hill Vineyard
  • It's very likely Mark Aubert was involved in the initial project launch because of his involvement with both Colgin and Sloan during the 2000 vintage.
  • For the same reasons, it's very likely that the vineyard was planted by David Abreu
With a pedigree like that, it makes me feel very fortunate that I was able to acquire a bottle of the 2000 vintage for my personal collection.

***UPDATE***
You can now order Modicum from The French Laundry. Thanks to our anonymous commenter below for letting us know.

Tags || | | | | | | more... |

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

WBW 30: New World Syrah

posted by snekse
It's time for another Wine Blogging Wednesday. This month's theme is New World Syrah hosted by Winecast.

Since I have a lot of wine piling up in my basement, I figured I'd force myself to pull something from my cellar rather than shopping around for something. So I pulled up my trusty Cellertracker list and picked the first Syrah on my Drinkability list. I excluded all Shiraz and blends in the spirit of the event. The winner (in a loose sense of the term) was something I received through one of those mail order grab bag things. This review is as much about the wine as it is about ordering no name wines from heavily marketed sources.

Now on with the wine!

2003 Thornhill Vineyards Syrah
750ml ~ $10.00 (Some crappy mail order service that I won't mention)

Vintage: 2003
Type: Red
Producer: Thornhill Vineyards
(Vinted and Bottled by
Viviers Wine Cellars
A.K.A. San Antonio Winery
Los Angeles, CA)
Varietal: Syrah
Designation: N/A
Vineyard: N/A
Country: USA
Region: California
SubRegion: Central Coast
Appellation: Monterey County


Tasting Notes
Typical new world syrah in color - though a little thin. Great nose of chocolate, cassis, leather, soil (though nothing like one can expect in an old world syrah). Smells like a wine cave. Taste doesn't live up to the invite. Watery, a lot of acidity, not well integrated, flabby, completely unbalance. The next day it improved only slightly in flavor, but not in balance. Flavor started to remind me of panna cotta with cherries.

Rating: 78

So without dragging on the agony any longer, the moral of this review is that California wines that cost under $10 and are not on every supermarket shelf in the US are probably not on every supermarket shelf in the US for a reason.

Vote
Vote for GFC as one of your favorite Food, Wine, Beer and Spirits blogs.

Tags || | | | | | | more... |

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

WBW 28: Festive Sparkling Wines

posted by snekse
It's always fun to try deciding what wines you're going to review for Wine Blogging Wednesdays. This month's theme, Festive Sparkling Wines (hosted by Culinary Fool), features sparkling wines which includes anything that is not from the Champagne region of France.

Immediately about 4 or 5 options jumped into my head. I could profile the N.V. Schramsberg Vineyard Blanc de Blancs - one of the only American sparkling wines served at The French Laundry. Then there's the always fun N.V. Vigne Regali (Banfi) Brachetto d'Acqui Rosa Regale - it's like a wine cooler, only better. For novelty we could contemplate the aspects of serving sparkling wines in a can with a straw ala N.V. Francis Coppola / Niebaum-Coppola Sofia Blanc de Blancs. Or play to a lesser known wine and oft snubbed varietal by picking the N.V. Luccío Moscato d'Asti, another one of my favorites.

Well as crunch time came and I had to make a decision, I actually had it made for me (and in this case, 4 for me). I received an email from Vino100 stating that they were going to be having a tasting on Tuesday featuring sparkling wines! Sweet! So you get not one, but four reviews today.


N.V. Korbel Chardonnay "Champagne"
750ml ~ $9.99 (Beverages and More)

Vintage: N.V.
Type: White - Sparkling
Producer: Korbel
Varietal: Chardonnay
Designation: n/a
Vineyard: n/a
Country: USA
Region: California


Tasting Notes
Sauvignon blanc in color. No nose at all that I could detect. Super fizzy. Good balance of sweetness and acidity. Not very yeasty. Fruit forward flavors of green apple and grapefruit.

Rating: 87


N.V. Le Brun No 1 Family Estate Chardonnay No. 1 Cuvée
750ml ~ $UNKNOWN

Type: White - Sparkling
Producer: Le Brun No 1 Family Estate
Varietal: Chardonnay
Designation: No. 1 Cuvée
Vineyard: n/a
Country: New Zealand
Region: South Island
SubRegion: Marlborough


Tasting Notes
Colored like a light Chardonnay. Nose of yeast and a bit of green apple. Too sour - not enough sweetness to balance the acidity and not dry enough to be pleasantly dry. Finish was a bit yeasty. Not what I'd expect from an award winner.

Rating: 82


Korbel Natural Méthode Champenoise
750ml ~ $10.99 (Beverages and More)

Vintage: 2003?
Type: White - Sparkling
Producer: Korbel
Varietal: Champagne Blend
Designation: Natural Méthode Champenoise
Vineyard: n/a
Country: USA
Region: California
SubRegion: Sonoma County


Tasting Notes
A bit darker than the Blanc de Blanc - the Pinot Noir grapes must lend a bit of color - more honeyed. Smells like sweet carbonation, as if you added some honeysuckle syrup to tonic water. Very traditional in flavors. Dry, but not brut. Very enjoyable finish.

Rating: 86


N.V. Korbel Brut Rosé
750ml ~ $9.99 (Beverages and More)

Vintage: N.V.
Type: Rosé - Sparkling
Producer: Korbel
Varietal: Rosé Blend
Designation: Brut Rosé
Vineyard: n/a
Country: USA
Region: California


Tasting Notes
Color of water with some spilled food coloring. Just a very slight tinge of pink that was very translucent. The smell of berries was almost undetectable on the nose. Not much to talk about on the attack, the finish was a little more evident of slightly unripe strawberries. Might be nice with certain desserts. Not a lot of sweetness in this wine, so it won't compete with the pairing.

Rating: 84


So there you have it. I don't think any of these wines could compete with the sophistication of the Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, but with the Schramsberg running $26+, I don't really expect them to. For the money, I think the Korbel Chardonnay "Champagne" and the Korbel Natural are good values. If you're looking for a sweeter wine, the Chardonnay is the obvious choice, just as the Natural is the obvious choice for a drier style wine. If you are looking to keep something on hand, I'd lean towards the Natural as I think it could improve with some age.

WINE REVIEWS:
WBW 19: When in Rhone
WBW 20: Anything But Chardonnay...
WBW 27: Icy Desserts (Ice Wine)
WBW 28: Festive Sparkling Wines
WBW 30: New World Syrah
WBW 31: Box Wines
WBW 34: Washington Cabernets
WBW 45: Old World Rieslings


Vote
Vote for GFC as one of your favorite Food, Wine, Beer and Spirits blogs.

Tags || | | | | | | more... |

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

WBW 27: Icy Desserts (Ice Wine)

posted by snekse
Mmmmm, Ice Wine. Is there anything better?

It's been a while since I participated in a Wine Blogging Wednesday, but when I found out the theme was ice wine (chosen and hosted by Kitchen Chick), it was a given that I would be participating. The only question that arose was; do I pick one of the bottles in my collection or do I go shopping? Shopping won.

We stopped into BevMo to see what was available and found two bottles that peeked our interest. The first was the La Face Cachee de la Pomme Neige Cidre de Glace, but we had to disqualify it since it's actually an ice cider made with apples, not grapes. The second was the 2003 Covey Run Semillon Reserve Ice Wine from Yakima Valley.

Now on with the wine!

2003 Covey Run Semillon Reserve Ice Wine
375ml ~ $21.99 (Beverages and More)

Vintage: 2003
Type: White - Sweet/Dessert
Producer: Covey Run
Varietal: Semillon
Designation: Reserve Ice Wine
Vineyard: N/A
Country: USA
Region: Washington
SubRegion: Columbia Valley
Appellation: Yakima Valley



Tasting Notes
Blend: 100% Semillon (11% Alc. Vol.)
Vineyard: 100% Phil Church
Cases Produced: 2,625

Color was a very light golden honey with a translucent rim. A little more nose than most ice wines I've had in the past. Hard to descibe the smell as anything other than a sauternes without the earthy smell from the Botrytis.

The taste was very good. Initially green apple, apricots and honey with occasional glimpses of spice and maybe a medicinal note, but in a good way. The finish is really two parts. The flavor disapates after about 7 seconds, but that mouth watering feeling carries a bit longer. As the wine warms, the apple becomes more pronounced and the apricot gives way to pineapple. Unfortuantely, the tartness and acidic finish also start to overpower the sugars a bit.

Wine Maker's Notes

Rating: 88

Beyond my tasting notes, I think it's hard to give a recommendation on this wine one way or another. It has a much different profile than the Jackson-Triggs I'm use to, yet this wine could easily find a place in my cellar. It really just depends on what purpose you need it to serve. I might actually serve this with Foie Gras before the JT because of the added acidity and tartness. It's also cheaper than JT. The cost is about the same per bottle, but the JT bottle is only 175ml. Given the price and relatively high score of this wine, it's not a bad bottle to have on hand for those every day occasions when you just want some ice wine.

WINE REVIEWS:
WBW 19: When in Rhone
WBW 20: Anything But Chardonnay...
WBW 27: Icy Desserts (Ice Wine)
WBW 28: Festive Sparkling Wines
WBW 30: New World Syrah
WBW 31: Box Wines
WBW 34: Washington Cabernets
WBW 45: Old World Rieslings

Vote
Vote for GFC as one of your favorite Food, Wine, Beer and Spirits blogs.

Tags || | | | | | | more... |

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

WBW 20: Anything But Chardonnay...

posted by snekse
...or Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling. Or Pinot Grigio, Gewurtztraminer, or Chenin Blanc for that matter.

That was the theme of this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday(WBW) event hosted by Wine For Newbies.

OK, so I went a little extreme here by restricting the first 6 to 10 most common white varietals I knew of, but where's the challenge in finding a Gewurtz? So the first thing I did was to research varietals that had a flavor profile that was similar to wine we already enjoyed. This meant finding something similar to a Chardonnay, Riesling or Gewurtz. Neither my wife or I really care for minerally whites, such as sauvignon blanc, so I also had to keep that in mind while reading the tasting notes of various wines. After a bit of research, I settled on two grape varietals of interest - the Albariño and the Scheurebe.

Though I really wanted to try the Scheurebe, it just couldn't be found anywhere I looked, so I went with the backup and picked up two bottles of Albariño. Albariño is the predominent white wine of Spain, so locating a bottle didn't prove difficult at all. The two I ended up with are the 2004 Morgadío Albariño Rías Baixas($26) and the 2004 Pazo Serantellos Albariño Rías Baixas($8). This review will only cover the first one listed since we didn't open the second bottle.

Now on with the wine!

2004 Morgadío Albariño Rías Baixas
750ml ~ $26.00 (The Omaha Wine Co.)

Vintage: 2004
Type: White
Producer: Morgadío
Varietal: Albariño
Designation: N/A
Vineyard: N/A
Country: Spain
Region: Galicia
SubRegion: N/A
Appellation: Rías Baixas



Tasting Notes
Blend: 100% Albariño (12.5% Alc. Vol.)
Estate Bottled

Almost pale yellow water like in color when held against a white backdrop. Bubbles in the Riesling glass! Very, very small bubbles up the side of the glass. None in the chardonnay glass.

Smells of a typical white wine. Nothing really special or unexpected on the nose.

But the taste...Zingy, Zesty, Effervescent!? Beautiful acidity. Nectarine? Plum maybe!? Honeysuckle. Lots of green apple when chilled. Just a gracefully small touch of butter. Taste started off like a sauvignon blanc/pinot grigio, but finished like a dry riesling, with a little chardonnay butteriness thrown in the middle for good measure! More green apple and other fruitiness apparent from the Riesling glass which is probably the proper glass for this wine.

Short finish, but on the longer end of short.

Rating: 90

I wasn't disappointed at all by this wine. It was just a fascinating experience on my tongue because it's so unlike the whites that were restricted for this event. Actually, the odd thing is it tasted like all of the whites that were restricted for this event, just at different points of time from the initial attack through the finish. I won't go as far as calling it a complex wine, but it is certainly playful. The only downside I might see to this wine might be the price. If I was going to range my score, I would give it an 88-90. For that range, I'd like to see a price a little closer to $20, even if it's only $22. We'll see how the $8 bottle holds up and reserve judgment on the price until then.

Vote
Vote for GFC as one of your favorite Food, Wine, Beer and Spirits blogs.

Tags || | | | | | |

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

WBW 19: When in Rhone

posted by snekse
Welcome to my first Wine Blogging Wednesday(WBW) post!

This month's theme was "When in Rhône" hosted by winexpression.com. To start our WBW participation off with a bang, we selected TWO wines from the Rhône region of southern France. For those who are unfamiliar with the region, it is most famous for producing red wines using the Syrah grape varietal, whites from the Viognier, and the historic Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation (which approximately translates to "the new castle of the pope"). Note that the Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape.

Not knowing a lot about the wine makers of the region, we consulted the wine ouija board at Whole Foods. Asking the powers that be for a Rhône wine of 80+ points, it answered "Guigal". It turns out that Guigal is one of the powerhouse producers of the Rhône region.

Now on with the wine!

2001 Guigal Gigondas
750ml ~ $29.99 (Whole Foods Market)

Vintage: 2001
Type: Red
Producer: E. Guigal
Varietal: Red Rhône Blend
Designation: Gigondas
Vineyard: N/A
Country: France
Region: Rhône
SubRegion: Southern Rhône



Tasting Notes
Blend: 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 25% Mourvèdre.

A earthy/woody nose bordering between barnyard and cedar. Subtle notes of tobacco. Tastes lightly of cherry, plum and cassis. Improved greatly the next day, but still just average.

Rating: 77

2003 Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc
750ml ~ $13.99 (Whole Foods Market)

Vintage: 2003
Type: White
Producer: E. Guigal
Varietal: White Rhône Blend
Designation: Blanc
Vineyard: n/a
Country: France
Region: Rhône
SubRegion: Southern Rhône
Appellation: Côtes du Rhône
UPC Code: 790559801004


Tasting Notes
Blend: 50% Viognier, 20% Roussane, 12% Marsanne, 8% Clairette, 8% Bourboulenc, 2% Grenache blanc

A very subdued bouquet. Tastes of honey, stone fruit and well, not sure what else. Barely any flavor. Oddly buttery, not what I was expecting. By the second day, more notes of flowers and lots of mineral on the nose, but still undrinkable. Granted I'm not a viognier drinker, so this isn't my favorite wine profile to being with. My wife, who enjoys whites much more than I, thought it was pretty bad as well.

Rating: 74

Vote
Vote for GFC as one of your favorite Food, Wine, Beer and Spirits blogs.

Tags || | | | | | | more... |

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Heitz Cellar Dinner

posted by snekse
Heitz Cellar Dinner at The Tasting Room.


This was basically a practice session for my wife and I to take pictures and notes while dining. We're going to Chicago in June and want to have a moderate idea of what works and what doesn't to chronicle our culinary adventures.

The pictures were surprisingly the easy part. Granted our first dish was poorly captured, but after I figured out that the focus needed to be manually adjusted (using the Macro mode on our digital camera), the rest of the pictures turned out pretty well. Granted they don't have the style and composition that's going to land me in Gourmet anytime soon.

Taking notes and documenting the experience, however, was surprisingly difficult. I'll be leaving this task to my wife who has a far better vocabulary and an uncanny ability to nail down exactly what she's tasting in a precise and descript manner. Do you know how hard it is to pick out the subtle taste of nutmeg in a dish heavily spiced with cinnamon? Plus the fact that I can't read my own handwriting....

So without further ado, we present our very first photo journalistic submission to Gastronomic Fight Club.


The Bistro turned Dining Room


Table setting with 5 wine glasses each.


Seared Scallop marinated in Sake with Rubyred Grapefruit Confit, crisp Shallots and Gastrique.


Braised Pork Belly w/ carmelized Onion demi-glace & Apple Vanilla Risotto Cake


Roasted Fennel Salad w/ Tapenade atop Seared Tuna & Orange Saffron Sorbet


Petit filet w/ Tomato Confit, maitre d'beurre and Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onion Potato Gratin


Chocolate and Blackberry tartlet w/ Almond Streusel & Port reduction

Tags || | | | | | | more... |

Labels: ,