Thursday, November 30, 2006

Want to Simplify Your Holiday Shopping?

I know that some people really enjoy being crushed in holiday shopping crowds, carrying packages through crowded parking lots and listening to Christmas Muzak. But on the off-chance that you're not one of those people, here's a quick link to simplify all your shopping for your fellow food and wine lovers.Great Gifts for the Winelover

Can't Find The New Short Course in Bookstores?

Here's a link to buy it online. The New Short Course in Wine is the University-Approved, direct and simple approach to getting wise to the
world of wine.Buy the New Short Course Now
Like all the great wine experiences on this page, it costs less than twenty bucks.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Vina Borgia Campo de Borja 2005 $5

No, that's not a typo. Five bucks. A bottle.

I'll take another sip while you recover from your shock. This is a more-than-drinkable wine at a laughably low price. It's the kind of wine that could lead to a lot more people enjoying wine on a regular basis and increasing the overall Pleasure Quotient (PQ) in these United States. Here, here.
What you've got is a ripe fruit bouquet, berries and cherries with a hot spicy accent. The wine is medium to full-bodied in the mouth with a lightly tannic finish that has a bitter, appetite provoking snap that leaves your mouth watering. 100% Grenache and a spirited 14% alcohol, this bottle has a shelf life of three or four days if well-kept.
Brought to us by Jorge Ordonez and Tempranillo, Inc., this is rockin' good wine at a great price. Buy all you can and enjoy over the next year or two. Serve cool-62-65 F.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

La Spinetta 203 'Ca' di Pian' $16

The challenge was daunting. We needed a wine to go with grilled scallops and shrimp served on a bed of thick mussel soup with white beans and set off by a jalapeno scone. The surprising answer was this remarkable Barbera from La Spinetta. It has all the customary intense fruit of a good, ripe Barbera with enough acidity to give it perfect balance and make it an excellent accompaniment for this dish. The bouquet is slightly floral with very dark fruit and the tang of alcohol. The finish was long and developed hints of vanilla and smoke. I have yet to have anything but great wine from La Spinetta, and this bottling keeps that tradition alive. Extraordinary sophistication from a usually bumptious grape at a bargain price.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'll Drink to That

I guess you've heard that every journalist is a frustrated novelist. Well, this one isn't frustrated anymore. My next book, bang-BANG, is on the spring list from Kunati Books.
It's a story about a woman who's the victim of gun violence and identity theft and who gets really angry. Her revenge on the people who are doing her wrong is sexy and original. If that sounds like your kind of story, you may also enjoy the guest appearances by '82 Chateau d'Yquem, '89 Haut-Brion, Oprah and Clint Eastwood. You can order a copy at your localbookstore or on Amazon.( ISBN 601640005) Find out more at:

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Civilized Syrah: Liberty School 2004 $10

When winelovers talk about things other than wine, they sometimes use wine as a metaphor, as a way to take some ineffable experience and eff about it anyway. You can’t really blame them; when you’re smack up against how difficult the world can be to figure out, wine is both a good example and an excellent consolation. So when winos want to discuss the difference between power and finesse, between let’s say Ed Rendell and Mario Cuomo, they look for winey examples. On the power side, the first wines that come to mind are the ones made from the Syrah grape. These are wines that burst their way into your mouth with enormous flavors and leave your senses exhausted.

At their worst, they’re inky, over-ripe and overwhelming: Nicole Smith. At their best, they’re a voluptuous universe unto themselves: Sophia Loren. Some of the most famous Syrah-based wines are made in the northern Rhône Valley in France. The greatest of these are rare, expensive, special-occasion numbers like Hermitage and Côte Rotie. The northern Rhône also produces the more common but extremely variabLinkle Crozes-Hermitage.

More reliable Syrahs come from California and Australia. The Australians call the grape Shiraz. Down there Shiraz is the backbone of their greatest wines. In the New World, the winemakers’ struggle seems to involve getting some nuances of flavor into the thick, dark taste. You can find out more on p.77 of The New Short Course in Wine.

Given this background, it's surprising to come across a Syrah that was an attention-getter before dinner along with a bit of cheese and then a delightful accompaniment for a squid and lobster salad. The wine is from Liberty School, a California stalwart.
The bouquet included the predictable smoke and plums but also carried a wonderful floral note. The peppery flavors on the finish were backed up by a nice acidity and just the right touch of tannin.
Tasted at Bobby Flay's at the Borgata, Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Eccentric Chileans: Maquis Lien 2003 $10

Most wine lovers in the US have discovered the wines of Chile. The discovery may have involved stumbling on the great values of Los Vascos or picking up a bottle of the intensely fruity Carmenere at a low price.

There is another side to Chilean wine, a side that doesn't necessarily play to the crowd but that may be of interest to serious wineheads. In a world where regional identity is becoming scarce, where Italian Cabernets taste like French which in turn, increasingly resemble Napa, there seems to be a single target for which all wineries aim.

So it's good to taste something exciting that doesn't taste like anything else.The case in point is Maquis Lien 2003, an eccentric red with all the intrigue of the big, weird Chileans at just under ten bucks. The blend is 50% Syrah, 23% Carmenere, 12% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot, and 7% Malbec aged for 12 months in French oak.

The Rivadeniera-Hurtado family in Valle de Colchagua decided to make their own wine from grapes that they had been selling to other winemakers for over a hundred years. The aim was to make a “Super Chilean” blend. It's hard to tell whether they've hit on a model that's going to create a category -"super-chilean", but they have certainly created a landmark of fruitiness and concentration. This wine also has deep herbal undertones and a trace of the wonderful bitterness that makes italian reds so appetite-provoking.

Originally tasted at Canals Marlton's annual charity tasting, a subsequent bottle lit up a dinner of grilled vegetables and braised lamb shanks.