Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hero Worship

It's funny--we're in the middle of "Tiger-gate" with 24/7 coverage of Tiger Woods' fall from grace. It's a shame to see this happen to a 'hero'. I am not really into celebrities--not that I'm not excited when I see 'somebody' but I don't go crazy unless it's someone I really care about (such as the time I got Robert Plant's autograph for our Led Zepplin loving son--I must admit I could barely talk!). I also don't go crazy for athletes, especially since I lived next door to several Cincinnati Bengals players when I was in law school (we even went to the Super Bowl against the 49-ers). So having 'celebrities' for neighbors kind of made me 'jaded' towards athletes. Suffice it to say that I would be impressed if a 'major' star walked in the room (Jordan, Tiger, Michael Schumacher) but a 'run of the mill' person wouldn't do much for me.

What does this have to do with wine? I guess I'm laying out the fact that athletes aren't really my heroes. But when I was in California several years ago, Susie and I were dining in Healdsburg, CA (Sonoma County, baby!) and saw Gina Gallo. It might as well have been Angelina Jolie or something because this is someone that I think is cool--true wine 'royalty'. No, I didn't go chase her for an autograph as she was with family (much like my 'encounter' with Ben Bernanke) but I was still very geeked to see her as she was instantly recognizable as the face of Gallo. Today, if you pick up a bottle of Sterling's coastal wines, you'll see the back of the bottle signed by a friend of mine, winemaker Joe Kidd. Yes, I got geeked the first time I saw that and fired off a 'kudos' email to him. He lived here in ATL for about a year, when he was in grad school at Tech and worked part-time at the wine bar I ran. I learned a lot from him and he's very knowledgeable. So pick up a bottle of Sterling and I'll say "I know that guy" and feel geeked about that. Is he a celebrity? Maybe only to me, but here's to one of my friends and 'heroes'... Cheers, Bo

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving wine: "the aftermath"

So you know what I recommended for Thanksgiving, here's what we drank :) We had some Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau (which was quite nice this year; actually very lively and not at all like 'cough syrup', which has been the lingering aftertaste in some vintages); then some Mumm Champagne (yum!). The Mumm was a gift-pack closeout from BJ's Wholesale club (found in Woodstock, not sure of other locations). The bottle + 2 glasses was only $32--for 'full-French' champagne (esp. a well-known name) that was a deal! My sister brought some Acacia Pinot Noir which was very yummy with the turkey! It's funny-my Mom had some IceWine that I tossed in the fridge to go with the desserts but we were all too full to have any that night (wine OR dessert!). Over the weekend we drank a good amount of good old Red Zinfandel (yes, I still have to qualify it by putting the "Red" in front of Zinfandel, lest someone think I like pink and sweet! I do enjoy pink vino, but more of the dry variety for sure (think Rosato or Rose blush wines, dry and not sweet at all). What did YOU drink for Thanksgiving? Have a wonderful week!

One note about BJ's and wine sales in general--while BJ's has some good prices on vino, they don't have a huge selection (which is fine). They do have one coveted bottle for sale--Roderer "Cristal", one of the top champagnes in the world, usually over $200 per bottle in a 'normal' store. They have a bottle or two for a lot less and a few bottles of Dom. However, they have it displayed in a glass cabinet with lights in it. What does that matter? Well, these lights shine down onto the bottle which MUST be cooking it slowly over time. I guess my message is to pay attention where you buy your wine--it's not solely about the price as I would venture a guess that the sub-$200 Cristal would not turn out to be the deal you'd expect as it may not be as amazing as it should be (or even turn out to be bad)! Food for thought! Cheers, Bo

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Wine!

Let's talk turkey! It's time to plan NOW for your Thanksgiving wine and food fest. I know that having a group over to your home can be overwhelming enough but trying to choose a 'one-size fits all' wine for dinner is pretty much impossible! Earthy flavors like turkey and dressing plus sweet flavors like sweet potato casserole (I'm getting hungry) and top that off with slightly bitter cranberry relish and you've got a taste 'mash-up' that can truly confound you! What's the solution? Have several wines! One wine (one that I don't normally 'push') that holds up well to so many flavors is Chardonnay-go for a Carneros (Napa) or Russian River (Sonoma) from California, and try to avoid super 'oaked' wines. One splurge is Au Bon Climat, which is more of a central coast choice but worth it. Another white that will pair well with such varied flavors is a dry Riesling (a phenomenal choice is Chateau Ste. Michelle's "Eroica", around $20 but yummy). As for reds, my old friend Zinfandel (I stole a quote I read-try the "3 R's": Ravenswood, Ridge or Rosenblum) is a great catch-all but you may want to choose something lighter like a Pinot Noir (From CA, look for Acacia, Chalone, Schuug or go for Oregon, Foris, Witness Tree or Erath) . A fun choice is always Beaujolais Nouveau, which is always released on the 3rd Thursday of November (a/k/a TODAY). Always light and fruity it can be a fun addition to your celebration. Finally, an option that is always appropriate is Champagne. From a Spanish Cava (usu. around $10) to a sparkling wine from the USA (Gruet from New Mexico is awesome, around $14, Chandon from Napa (also $14) or Ch. Ste. Michelle from Washington) to a "fully French" selection (Moet White Star-$35, Veuve Clicquot-$40)--you can't go wrong with bubbly. The final thing to note-get to your local wine shop early as they won't have time to help you find hidden gems as they will be SLAMMED like Hartsfield airport as we get closer to Thanksgiving. Sure, they can point you in a general direction but for more 'hands on' help you need to get there sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Day After...

This was a posting about the day AFTER our wedding anniversary dinner at Aria restaurant. I basically emailed them noting a price I had in mind and that I wanted wine and food paired. THAT'S IT. I had NO CLUE what we were to have that evening, and I couldn't be more pleased! Here's the article from my newsletter that was originally supposed to come out 9/24 (but was going to be updated to come out 9/28). Hope you like it!

This month's email subject line said "The Day After"--I'm sure at some point you thought to yourself, "The Day After WHAT?". Well, whether you cared about that line or not, Wednesday marked our third wedding anniversary (if you're curious, the traditional anniversary gift is leather and no I didn't buy her a whip--I'm contentedly whipped enough already : ) I took her to a favorite restaurant of ours, Aria, in Buckhead. I'll let you in on a secret--if you call in advance, you may be able to book the wine cellar for up to 4 people. Tiny steps lead you into the basement with no more than 1 token light hanging over your table, and you're surrounded by wine and candles. I didn't need to bring a corkscrew as a week earlier I had contacted Andres Loaiza (manager and wine guru) and asked if he and chef Gerry Klaskala would be able to put together a tasting menu with food and wine pairings. Basically, I knew where we were going but had no clue what we would be enjoying for dinner. I must tell you that this is such a fun experience but you must be open minded! I will note-their menu has a $39 3-course prix-fixe nightly that has some enticing choices; I'm sure they would pair wines if asked! As for our meal, we had 8 courses of incredible foods and the wines they chose were perfect to go along with our meal! You really need to step out of your box and try something new--it's so much fun!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bootlegging, Choice and taking recommendations

It's funny to think about buying wine here in ATL to take to KY for my parents. It seems that they just can't get some of the cool wines we get in ATL at home. My late Father would fax a list of wine for me to pick up for him and bring home whenever we headed that way--he even placed an order before he died since we were already scheduled to be there the following weekend. Why was this necessary? Our prices were better here, our selection was better, and the wines were current family favorites.

I can't speak to pricing as much, though I have bought some wine at Sam's club at home (Owensboro, KY) and found their prices were low as found here in ATL metro Sams's clubs. I can speak to selection as their local Kroger did not sell wine (only beer; not sure if that was a local rule, KY law, or something else) and there isn't much selection in shops as the focus seems to be on beer and liquor (you can find a ton of single-barrel bourbons there, many I've never seen outside of KY). I hate that it is so tough to ship wine from out of state, but rules have been relaxed as they were part of one vineyard's wine club and receive a few shipments a year. I like the fact that they can get wines delivered, but sometimes you need help in the form of advice before committing to purchase and delivery of a 'new' wine.

Earlier in the Summer they got a recommendation from a staffer at Total Wine in Kennesaw to try a zinfandel called Truscott (I think it was an Amador county red). They bought it blindly and it turned out to be amazing (the selling point was that it was worth over $20 but they sold it for $15--right up Dad's alley!). When I picked more up for them last month it had received high 90's from some wine guru so I'm sure that 'secret' is now out and it will soon be sold out. Contrast that with a patient associate trying to help some other people purchase some vino while I was waiting for help loading up that Truscott--the people gave a few names that they liked and asked for help with other selections. He patiently showed them at least 5 or 6 different wines that blew away the wine they were comparing and they ended up going back to the wine they started with. Why? They wouldn't step out of their comfort zone I guess! As a huge zin lover, I happened to know the wine in question (though I can't remember it)--it was good, and around $20 per bottle. He pulled several comparisons, from large producers to smaller/lesser known producers and they kept coming up with reasons to go back to their "safe" wine. What a shame--they could have saved money and had some great juice, but they weren't open to "change". So the wine message today is to shop around, look for people you trust and be open to trying new things. With so much good juice on local shelves, it's easy to try something inexpensive. Focus on a few varietals that you may not know well (like Malbec, Carmenere, Grenache for reds, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Grigio for whites) and get a feel for what you like. Then start experimenting with different producers and countries. Ask for recommendations and see what happens! Fun places? Try Total Wines & More (Perimeter location does wine tastings all the time), Vino 100 in Alpharetta, and Cost Plus World Market (sometimes slightly pricey but always a varied collection of wines) as well as your local warehouse clubs. Don't forget local retailers; you can chat with someone to see if their tastes are similar (give them some of your faves) and take a chance! Enjoy! Bo

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Do you know your stuff?

Check out the Atlanta Wine School's latest quizzes. I didn't do that well on the first two! I Actually did better on the last; perhaps I guessed better. Sometimes a bit of knowledge is a problem (at least that's what I'm telling myself today!). I have never done well on multiple choice tests anyway ; ) Cheers! Bo

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Restaurant Dirty secrets!

Wow... I just read this article and I am amazed at some of the topics included! (Even worse are some of the comments at the bottom). While some of the stories I could tell about my days waiting tables at Houston's in ATL are entertaining, I will note that I did NOT see gross things like they talked about in the article. I loved Houston's then and still do! Sigh... ask me what I had to ask some of the people who ordered "Prime Rib" sometime and you'll get a chuckle... Cheers, Bo

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Don't remember what BYOB means? Bring Your Own Bottle! I have mentioned that I love to bring wine to one of our favorite dining spots in Cobb (partly to save money, but mainly due to a limited wine list) but I just learned that there is a new website called "GoBYO.com" that allows you to search for restaurants that allow you to bring your own wine! Not only that, you can search using different zipcodes and you can further narrow it down using filters allowing you to search for the cost of corkage (corkage = a restaurant charge for the 'service' of opening your bottle and providing you glasses). There are a LOT with no fees! How cool is that?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Baby left in car to die; news at 11

Unfortunately we hear a headline like this at least once a year here in the South, either for a baby/child or a dog (insert joke about never hearing about dead cats here). As we all know (but yet someone each year fails to figure this out) a car can turn into a furnace in a VERY short amount of time. Well, we need to keep this in mind when we purchase (and transport) WINE as well! Yes, this is a stretch to compare a human being or animal with wine, but remember that wine is a living creature as well, evolving over time and (hopefully) getting more interesting or complex. If you leave wine in a car, it can die as well! Not only that, it can more or less 'cook' the bottle and its' precious contents! Heat will create pressure on the cork and can push it out of the bottle. Even if it is only pushed up a tiny bit it can allow the cork to seep and make a mess in your car. I learned that one time (even though it was NOT hot outside) when I discovered that the trunk of a previous car got warm just above the exhaust pipe-after a 2 hour road-trip one bottle had already leaked a bit onto other luggage. Just keep that in mind as you travel and even if you're just 'running inside the store for a moment' think about a police officer coming inside to put you under arrest for the 'death' of your vino :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wine bottles on a diet!

Wine producers overseas are giving lighter wine bottles a try. An average 750ml wine bottle with a screwtop weighs about 500 grams (around 17.64 ounces). The "new and improved" lighter bottles will weigh around 300g (10.58 oz). All I can say is I wish bottles weighed less when I was a barback WAY back in 1989 in Northern Kentucky. When I worked at "The Waterfront" we had to carry all our wine/beer/liquor up from the bottom of the bar (The Waterfront was a 3 story bar/restaurant built on an old barge across from Cincinnati). I remember we would weigh ourselves on the big scales they used for deliveries (for produce/seafood, etc). I know that Absolut Vodka bottles (1.75L) weighed the most but the only actual weight I remember was 2 cases of Corona beer weighed 110 pounds! Factor in that we carried all this on our shoulders... I'm surprised I don't walk with a gangsta lean to the right!

In any event, lighter bottles = lighter shipping containers = less energy consumed. I can see the ads now: Drink Wine, Save the Earth :) Cheers, Bo

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Newsletter Article on Wine Memories

What was your best Summer wine memory? I have several and all seem to be tied in with food for some reason! Like anything else, it's the combination of several things that make for a great memory. Great food, family and friends, and a wine that pairs 'just right' with what you're eating. One recent example was when all of us at Harris Wagner Law Group had a 'family outing' to a wine tasting at Atmosphere restaurant here in ATL. We tasted several French wines and enjoyed some great food that was perfectly paired with each wine. That's something you should resolve to do soon: try a wine and food pairing. As an example, I don't typically drink a lot of white wine, but at a tasting yo u are pushed to try new things. At Atmosphere, the theme was "Wines from Burgundy" and we enjoyed 2 whites and 3 reds (remember-European wines tend to be named after their region, and Burgundy wine grapes are primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir). I cannot remember all of the chef's food/wine combinations, but each was perfectly matched to the wine we were drinking (one memorable one was duck confit with a medium-bodied Pinot--yum!) That's when wine can be really fun--when it is a perfect compliment to your food, not something that masks or overpowers your meal. That's what made it a great memory--great friends, yummy food and a perfect wine to accompany our food! The next time you see a prix fixe or tasting menu with wines chosen by the sommelier or wine steward, GO FOR IT! You may be surprised how fun it can be (and you might just find a new favorite vino)!

Monday, August 24, 2009

When "Petite" equals HUGE

Prior to the Jonas Brothers concert (see my other blog) Susie, Julia and I went to Dante's Down the Hatch for some fondue. I chose EOS Petite Sirah to accompany our dinner and I'm glad I did (no, Julia didn't have any, but she did have a lovely tropical fruit drink sans alcohol). Petite Sirah is a totally different grape than Syrah, though I think their DNA may cross paths somewhere down the line. Dark as ink (and teeth-staining as well), Petite Sirah is a massive wine. Young wines tend to have huge tannins but if you decant and/or allow some time for aging, you'll be pleased to find a rich wine full of depth. Despite the tannins in most Petite Sirahs, you will find that the flavors are not so much as to 'take over' your meal as Cabernet Sauvignon can do. As we had chicken, pork, beef and shrimp in our fondue mélange, the wine didn't seem to overpower any of the flavors and actually paired nicely with all the sauces (teriyaki, remoulade, sweet/sour and (Susie's fave) creamy horseradish). So the next time you want to try something new, give Petite Sirah a shot--the EOS as mentioned is a great choice from Paso Robles; I think it's around $10-15. Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A fun wine quiz from The Atlanta Wine School

I would love to know which ones I got right and which ones I flat-out got lucky and guessed correctly. Good luck and have fun!

Click HERE for the quiz

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Girlie Wines", Marketing and Current Trends

It's funny--I am a wine lover and also a male. I don't feel particularly worried about my manhood when I have wine vs. a cocktail or beer--no one has revoked my 'man card' yet due to my ordering habits. With that being said, sometimes I don't want a wine based on the cuisine or location. For example, I normally order a beer or margarita with Mexican food (though red Zin goes well with spicy food; so would Gerwurztraminer if you prefer whites). Likewise, for me, wings = beer. However, whenever I walk through a steakhouse and I see people drinking beer with a juicy steak I can't fathom not having a 'big' red wine, manly or not--but hey, that's my opinion (and I drink red wine with fish too, so there!).
I love beer ads but they definitely stereotype wine drinkers as less than manly (such as this Bud Light commercial). I love the humor, but the effect is not lost on marketers as they are trying to make wine more appealing to men, as noted in this article. I guess it's like putting silly animals on wine labels--I don't buy wine because of a catchy label. I buy it because of what's inside--so should you! On the other hand, if you choose to buy wine for any reason, who am I to say no? I am a fan of vino and hope more people try wine & keep us as the #1 wine consumer market in the world!
The slow economy has prompted a major change in consumer spending habits. Luxury companies are in trouble (slower sales at Neiman Marcus, Saks) while discounters are raking it in (TJ Maxx, WalMart). This trend is also evident in the high sales of value wines vs. high dollar examples. We are lucky as there are so many great wines out there--many under $10! Click on this link for Whole Foods' current top 10 picks. To find prices I looked to Total Wines & More. The Escudo Rojo referenced is $11.99, the Koonunga Hills is $7.79. Search their catalog for yourself! While I haven't tried the Presto Prosecco, I highly recommend this lightly sweet/fruity sparkling wine as a great aperetif wine--especially for hot Summer days! Cheers!

Box Wines in the news

Believe it or not, I am seeing a lot of press about box wines of late. Yesterday's AJC had an article that referenced a fun one that I have previously written about-- Cline's Red Truck 'mini-barrel'. Here's yet another one that references a high-dollar french restaurant in NYC that actually sells box wines as well! In defense of Chef Daniel Boulud, the wines referenced sound like a 'cut above' as the 3L mentioned costs $40 (vs. $20 for the Cline, at no less than Sam's Club). I do like the fact that it's all about the juice INSIDE the packaging (kind of like my comments about not buying wine based on the label alone).

By the way, if you're in NYC, go to Boulud's other restaurant Cafe Boulud and enjoy Gavin Kaysen's wonderful creations! We ate there in April and were very impressed! Our 9-year old even enjoyed the tasting menu--just don't tell her she ate braised veal cheeks!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The US needs better education!

Actually, it is not so much the level of wine education, it's the fear of the unknown! The average US wine drinker needs to step out of their box and try some new wines! Check out this story about name recognition of various wine regions. It's sad that so many of my favorites are not well known. Two things that jumped out--the Chianti comment about "Silence of the Lambs" was hilarious and I expect that the people polled were relatively young as I'm surprised that "Chablis" did not have a higher rating--not because of people knowing/loving what Chardonnay should taste like (crisp with mineral undertones as the French produce, versus some of our California oakey butter-bombs!) but because of the famous "jug wines" of the 1980s' (it's okay, everyone drank those Gallo Gallons back in the day; both Chablis and Burgundy :) How many of the wines do YOU recognize? If you DON'T recognize something, why not head to your local store and pick up a bottle? It may be a pleasant surprise! Cheers, Bo

Friday, May 29, 2009

Brown Bagging, wine style!

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had a great article today about bringing your own wine to a restaurant. I TOTALLY approve of this! There are several ways to look at this. As an example, restaurant Au Rendez-Vous (near Brookhaven) only has a few wines on the list and they actually encourage you to bring your own for $4 corkage fee per person. They (and other restaurants that don't have beer/wine licenses) are able to pull in a few more dollars based on their limited wines, etc. An example of another restaurant "mindset", Susie and I were regulars at one restaurant in Kennesaw but for a while their wine list was very limited. We discovered that they would only charge $15 for corkage fee (translation: a charge for the restaurant for opening your bottle (yep, even if it's a screwtop!) and providing glassware, service, etc.) so we started taking our own which a) saved us money b) kept us happy (better wines than they provided) and c) actually kept us COMING as we would most likely not have returned due to their old list). So corkage could be seen as a supplement to a wine list.

People, I know restaurants are in business to make money. I know that they normally 'make up' their margins on wine. However, the third mindset covers GREED. I get SO angry when I see ridiculous markups! Keep an eye out for some of your common restaurant wines--Take La Crema Pinot Noir as an example. It's currently $15.97 at Total Wine & More. Well, we recently have seen it go for $55 at an East Cobb restaurant, $60 in Buckhead and a CRAZY $70 at a well-known luxury resort/hotel about an hour East of Atlanta. It really annoys me to see that (another common one is Ravenswood's entry Zinfandel ("Vintners Blend, $5.97 at Bullocks) for $30 or more???). One notable restaurant chain going against this trend is Houstons. I have bought some amazing wines for what appeared to barely be over cost! I remember one dinner at the now-closed Dunwoody location--we had Nickel & Nickel Merlot (or Cab Franc?) for under $50, which was astounding knowing that the store price (IF you could find it) was around $40.

As the article notes, DON'T abuse this by bringing your cheap wine (2 Buck Chuck?) or some super-common wine that can be found anywhere or even on their menu (Kendall-Jackson chardonnay for example). I would bring wines that I knew they wouldn't have (like ATP Wines from Ridge) or a rare single-vineyard designate Ravenswood (usu. over $35) versus their Vintners Blend (under $7, unless you're crazy enough to pay more at the grocery). How about thinking of a bringing a wine with a minimum price point of $20 or more? Likewise, Chops allowed us to bring a special bottle to dinner when my parents came to town (caveat-I THINK they would have limited us to only 1 or 2 bottles at their corkage fee, somewhere around $20). We still bought a follow-up bottle from their list, but we were able to decant and enjoy a rare Sonoma Cabernet from 1997 which was a special wine for my family.

Moral of the story? Reward the restaurants whose prices are in-line or simply never return. But as the article said, tip as if you bought it from them (though I would venture a thought that I would tip an amount based on the retail price, not what they'd rape me for if I bought it there!) Cheap? Okay, I'll admit it... But at the same time, I will pay for good food and good service. I just hate paying too much for something that is just as important as the food--the wine itself! Cheers, Bo

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Read this article! Try something new... (Ideas for Memorial Day wines!)

This article was written by Teresa Eiland from the Piedmont Road Tower Wine & Spirits. It is very well written and I feel that it's spot-on with its message. The message? Drink wine, don't be afraid to try new things. It's not about silly names and catchy labels; it's what is INSIDE the bottles that gets me excited! When I see high ratings on wines under $10 I get excited--there is a lot of quality out there amongst the overpriced wines.

2 wines she mentioned are stellar grape varietals. I love Cabernet Franc; it's a fun wine that is lighter in character than Cabernet Sauvignon (so it can be a bit more food-friendly and "quaffable"). Give it a shot, you'll probably be a convert! Likewise, Vernaccia is an Italian hottie. Yes, the supermodel (Pinot Grigio) gets all the recognition, but Vernaccia is the girl next door that will surprise and amaze you. Have some chilled and on hand this weekend! Cheers, Bo

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I love Zinfandel! ZAP was WOW!

We attended the ZAP tour last night and I really enjoyed the event! It was not too big/crowded and there were a lot of quality producers in attendance. I am biased, of course, as I love our native American grape, Zinfandel. It's a great food-friendly wine and can be produced in several styles. I tend to like the more full-bodied "spicy" type vs. the 'fruit bomb' variety. Some standouts from last night? As always, my 2 favorite producers Ridge and Ravenswood were awesome, and enjoyed some 'old friends' like Renwood as well. In fact, when I visited the Ravenswood table, I met the Zinderella of Zin herself, Cathleen Francisco. No, you may not know her, but I have emailed her about their wines for over 3 years and this was the first time we had met in person! YUMMY wines and always great, from their $7 'vinter's blend' to their incredible single vineyard designates like Belloni, Teldeschi and Big River, to name the 3 she brought.

I did try a lot of new juice and found some standouts. Among them was D-cubed Cellars; the name stands for the winemaker's initials (DDD). I loved the 2005 Howell Mountain (yes, the same Howell Mountain of Cabernet fame). Another Howell Mountain producer was Lamborn Family Vineyards. In a word, WOW. Both of those were in the $40 (and you're surprised?) as was the Renwood Jack Rabbit (single vineyard) which was great! Fritz Winery's 2006 reserve was nice (gee, another $40 bottle). Haywood Estate Winery showed up with 3 examples from their Los Chamizal Vineyard in Sonoma; all three were excellent and it was amazing to see how the same grapes/vineyard were so different mainly due to the placement of the vines (for example, a higher elevation was different than the valley; and the 'Morning Sun' had more fruit due to the concentration of the sun). While those three were around $30, they brought along another product line, Z-52, which was a bit more fruit forward but also under $20--what's not to love? Finally, Tres Sabores had a 2006 estate as well as a blend called Por que no?--fun stuff! I need to keep my eyes open to some of these new producers! Just to toss some additional names in the mix, look for Hook & Ladder (you may remember them as Deloach from years ago) and Peachy Canyon from Paso Robles (yum!) Look for my other posting with info from ZAP ("Zinfandel Advocates and Producers") for a list of who came to ATL and links to their websites. Support these awesome vineyards! Cheers, Bo

Friday, May 8, 2009

ZAP!!! Zinfandel Lovers Unite!

If you love Zinfandel like I do, you need to attend ZAP's Zinfandel Festival on Tuesday the 12th. I will be there with my family; you should attend too! We are talking about the lucious deep RED zinfandel, the native American grape and lover of food (i.e. it goes well with many types of food, especially spicy food and BBQ). For more info, click HERE. Cheers, Bo To purchase tickets, click HERE (or buy at the door if there are any left--this is the first time the ZAP tour has come to ATL--come join us!)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

An Unsung Hero: Viognier

First things first: we cooked a vegetarian meal this week and I must admit that I ENJOYED IT. Yes, I normally have some sort of meat/fish/fowl for dinner and I wasn't excited about having a vegetarian meal. It turned out to be WONDERFUL and it was enhanced by the wine choice: Viognier (vee-ohhn-yay). We had potato gnocchi with tomatoes, peppers, spinach and cheese--overall an "Italian" flavored meal. We also had a salad caprese (which is a 'salad' of slices of tomato and fresh mozzerella cheese, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil). With the salad, I'd normally choose a Sauvignon Blanc (as the acidity would pair nicely with both the cheese and tomato) but since we had some rich flavors with the gnocchi I chose Viognier. Perhaps I could have chosen a chardonnay (preferably a French Chablis, as their chardonnay is light, not super oaky) but it may have overpowered the 2 dishes. Nope, I chose a grape typically found in the Rhône region of France or in and around Paso Robles, California (Central Coast). My selection was a lovely 2007 Justin Viognier (sorry, just learned it's sold out) which was nice and balanced with a crisp taste on the tongue (perfect for the salad) and a smooth finish with a nice mouthfeel and a hint of vanilla with the fruit (perfect for the gnocchi). I know, I know, I'm using "Snob speak" for this, but it was a perfect pairing and I was suitably geeked. (If you ever seek a good pairing or have a Q/want a better explanation, feel free to email me!). Give this 'different' varietal a chance-it may turn out to be your white of choice for the future! Goes well with spicy food as well... (Costco currently stocks Rosenblum for around $15 and one of the BEST viognier blends from Treana for over $20--SO worth it!). Cheers, Bo

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tales from the Darkside

No, I'm not chasing Kurtz in the jungle but I have made my own voyage to the dark side: I have purchased (and enjoyed!) a "box wine" (yes, a box wine, I'm not lying!). Please remember that I have always noted that wine is meant to be enjoyed, not merely some snobby thing to be enjoyed only by elitists. I think wines should be for everyone! Even wine is invading NASCAR--both Jeff Gordon and Richard Childress own vineyards and a race is run in Sonoma, CA just across the street from the vineyard where I worked. In fact, my box wine was produced about 2 miles from Infineon Racetrack in Sonoma, at Cline Vineyards. Have you seen "Red Truck" wines? A bottle costs around $9 at the local stores and is a lovely 'field blend' of syrah, petite sirah and zinfandel. I was in Sam's Club earlier this week and found that Cline produced a mini-barrel of Red Truck in a 3L size (that's 4 bottles!) for under $20! I couldn't resist and I have to say that it was just as good as if I had opened a bottle. The packaging says that it will last for 40 days (not likely in our household!) once opened and portions are recyclable. So you can save money, save the Earth and enjoy a yummy wine; what's not to love?

One other quickie--I am a true lover of rich, red Zinfandel wine. The ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) tour is FINALLY coming to ATL-Here's where to find info on tickets! I'll see you there!

Cheap wine of the day!

I know, I know, you can't really find a good, cheap Pinot Noir. However, Kroger has Lindeman's Pinot on sale for $5.98 that's actually pretty good! No, it's not going to compare to a fine Burgundy, but it's very drinkable and has a nice finish. Good fruit, good flavor, great price--what's not to love? Get some while it's still on sale (it was on sale for $7.98 the first time we bought it and we felt it was worth it even at that price).

Bonus wine--if they have any 2004 "Zen of Zin" by Ravenswood for $8.48, BUY IT. It's a steal--normally around $12.99!!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

OTBN 10! (No, not another Rocky movie!)

In my last newsletter I talked about "Open That Bottle Night 10" as made popular by the Wall Street Journal wine editors. What did you open last Saturday the 28th? I actually did go with the 1990 Franciscan Magnificat as referenced. While the cork did break (thank goodness for decanters!) the wine was actually quite amazing! To recap, the goal of OTBN is to pop a cork that you have been saving for a "special occasion" that never seems to come around. I wanted to drink the 1990 along with a 1991, 1993 and 1994 but I thought it would be too far gone. Thankfully I was wrong! Why should you open one of your "special" bottles? Life is short! Another stated goal of OTBN is to relive a special memory. To be honest, I think I got that bottle shipped in Franciscan's Wine-of-the-month club (long before the stupid illegal shipping laws). While that's not too exciting, it does remind me of my first trip to Napa with friends who lived in San Francisco. What a magical experience! Whenever I drink Franciscan it also reminds me of another trip out west (yes Nate, the famous 'dancing in the fountain' photo!). So should I have left that bottle in the cellar in hopes of that mythical dinner party/vertical tasting? Nope! I got to pop, sip, smile! I'd love to hear from anyone else who participated in OTBN-leave me a comment. CHEERS!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sunday Wine Sales-My 2 cents!

I know that this is not the most important topic facing our Legislature. However, I think it's a really dumb restriction. With that being said, this is MY opinion on the matter, and you can do with it what you wish. I chose to voice my opinion directly (as well as here). Here is the text of an email I sent to my local rep and a representative on the Georgia Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee

"I humbly request that you pass Senate Bill 16 so that the public can vote upon the legislation. I understand that our Governor does not support this bill, but this is not his call--let the people VOTE on this issue; then he can see where the people of Georgia truly stand. I cannot believe that Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee or any other "Bible Belt" State's religious convictions are any different than ours, yet they (and 47 other States) have the ability to purchase alcohol on Sunday. Will it change my behavior? Not a lot as I buy wine in case quantities when I find a good deal, etc. From time to time, however, I have been on my way to a dinner party on a Sunday and have realized that I had no 'hostess gift' of wine with me. Likewise, we do a most of our weekly shopping on Sunday and we often shop in local warehouse clubs where they happen to have great wine deals. No, it's not the end of the world, and certainly not the most important topic for you to deal with, but I do believe that it is time for this anachronism to go away.

Again, personal convictions aside, it is not your call to determine what is right or wrong. It is up to the individual to decide whether or not they will choose to consume alcohol. It is your job, however, to pass legislation that makes sense and to allow your constituents to vote on the issue. We may end up seeing increased tax collections due to this; who knows! Thanks for your consideration."

Who knows... We'll see what happens!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Think Pink redux

Okay, so this should have come out BEFORE Valentine's Day, but just a few reminders: 1) you can drink champagne WHENEVER--i.e. it doesn't have to be for a wedding or New Year's Eve 2) if you drink 'sparkles', step out of the box and try Rosé! No, pink does not equal sweet (this is NOT white Zin). Pink adds a certain nuance to the wine as the skins have been in contact with the juice for a bit longer in the winemaking process. The flavors are a bit more intense and the aromas are so great! Give it a shot! Look for Segura Viudas or Cristalino (both "Cavas" from Spain, each under $10) or go for the Veuve Clicquot I bought at Sam's Wholesale for $64 (hey, it was Valentine's Day after all...). Rosé is a perfect food wine too :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day 1: Positive Spin!

You'll have to read my other blog to sort out my thoughts about "Day 1 of # 44", but I read this article which has some positive news about American wine producers. I never really thought about W's 'preferences' for the last 8 years, but anything that boosts wine consumption (and knowledge) here in the good old USA is a good thing : ) So tonight, Red State or Blue State, go home and pop a nice bottle of Red Wine or White Wine (or split the vote and have some Sparkles : ) Cheers!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Jeff Strikes Again!

My partner Jeff Harris is spoiling us! He walked in on New Year's Eve (yes, we were open and closing loans!) with a bottle of Dom under one arm and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot under the other (bless him!) It made me very happy (but of course!) and it reminded me of a poll or article I recently read that talked about champagne consumption is dropping (or sparkling wines in general). Why? It seems that people ONLY tend to drink 'sparkles' when they have something to celebrate. True, yes, but why not 'every day'? No, not a $128 bottle of Dom, but there are SO many options out there that are so yummy! I even saw Korbel (from Sonoma, CA) at the grocery for under $10. Want something lighter, try a Prosecco from Italy. Even easier on the wallet? Cava from Spain. So maybe hold off on the over $30 bottles for a big event, but don't be afraid to make 'sparkles' your wine of choice! (by the way--you may want to invest in a champagne 'cork' that will allow you to store an open bottle for a day or two in case you just want an aperitif prior to dinner, etc.)