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Pinot Noir from Murphy Goode

Date: Fri, Jan 22, 2010

DescriptionName: La Crema Pinot Noir
Color: Red
Grape(s): Pinot Noir
Appellation: los Carneros Sonoma California
Maker: La Crema
Vintage: 2007
Cost: $27.00
Comments: Darker color and more intense and tasty than many Pinot Noir's from this area.

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, raw, grilled, fried, baked or roasted fish, crustacean shell fish, beef, pork or fowl.
Sauce: au jus, white, savory, herb
Cheese: .Soft or hard goat cheese, medium cow and sheep cheese
Other: Mushrooms
Wine ProfileEarthy aromas of dark cherry, forest floor, spice, ripe black plum, coffee and cocoa. Long finish.

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Sauvignon Blanc from Murphy Goode

Date: Fri, Jan 22, 2010

DescriptionName: The Fume Sauvignon Blanc
Color: White
Grape(s): Sauvignon Blanc
Appellation: Sonoma Country
Maker: Murphy-Goode
Vintage: 2008
Cost: $11.00
Comments: A very nice Sauvignon Blanc for well under $15.00.

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, raw, grilled, fried, baked or roasted fish, crustacean shell fish, fowl and game birds.
Sauce: au jus, white, herb
Cheese: Soft goat cheese
Other: Most salad dressings, especially vinegar and citrus dressings.
Wine ProfileCrisp, citrus, green apple,melon, light, dry.Also known as Fume' Blanc.

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Wild Oak Cabernet Sauvignon

Date: Sat, Jan 16, 2010

DescriptionName: Wild Oak Cabernet Sauvignon
Color: Red
Grape(s): Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Sonoma County California
Maker: St. Francis Winery
Vintage: 2004
Cost: $25.00
Comments:

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, raw, grilled, fried, baked or roasted beef, lamb, game and game birds .
Sauce: au jus, savory, tomato, mustard, peppercorn
Cheese: Soft or hard goat cheese, hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Chocolate
Wine ProfileJammy, pepper, spice, berry flavors, black currant, cherry, chocolate, tobacco, nut, cinnamon, coffee, peppercorn, pimento and plum. Can be herbaceous, with asparagus, bell pepper, and green olive. With oak aging can have notes of vanilla, coconut, smoke, and tar. Bottle aging can provide cedar, cigar box, musk, mushroom, earth and leather flavors. Full bodied, dry.


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Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon

Date: Sat, Jan 16, 2010

DescriptionName: Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon
Color: Red
Grape(s): Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Paso Robles California
Maker: Estancia
Vintage: 2006
Cost: $13.00
Comments: An excellent Cabernet Sauvignon for the price.

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, raw, grilled, fried, baked or roasted beef, lamb, game and game birds .
Sauce: au jus, savory, tomato, mustard, peppercorn
Cheese: Soft or hard goat cheese, hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Chocolate
Wine ProfileJammy, pepper, spice, berry flavors, black currant, cherry, chocolate, tobacco, nut, cinnamon, coffee, peppercorn, pimento and plum. Can be herbaceous, with asparagus, bell pepper, and green olive. With oak aging can have notes of vanilla, coconut, smoke, and tar. Bottle aging can provide cedar, cigar box, musk, mushroom, earth and leather flavors. Full bodied, dry.


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Cristalino Sparkling Wine from Spain

Date: Sat, Jan 16, 2010

DescriptionName: Cristalino Brut Cava
Color: White
Grape(s): Macabeo, Parellada, Xarello and Chardonnay
Appellation: Spain
Maker: Cristalino
Vintage: NV
Cost: $6.00
Comments:

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, raw, grilled, fried, baked or roasted fish, crustacean shell fish and fowl.
Sauce: Au jus, white, chili, herb
Cheese: Hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Sushi. Desserts that are not too sweet may be accompanied by a demi-sec champagne.
Taste ProfilePear, green apple, peach, tropical fruit, citrus, mineral, flinty and subtle spice & butterscotch. Generally full bodied and dry.

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Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne

Date: Sat, Jan 16, 2010

DescriptionName: Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne
Color: White
Grape(s): Chardonnay
Appellation: Champagne France
Maker: Moet & Chandon
Vintage: NV
Cost: $45.00
Comments:

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, raw, grilled, fried, baked or roasted fish, crustacean shell fish and fowl.
Sauce: Au jus, white, chili, herb
Cheese: Hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Sushi. Desserts that are not too sweet may be accompanied by a demi-sec champagne.
Taste ProfilePear, green apple, peach, tropical fruit, citrus, mineral, flinty and subtle spice & butterscotch. Generally full bodied and dry.

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Hawkeye Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Date: Thu, Jan 14, 2010

DescriptionName: Hawkeye Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Color: Red
Grape(s): Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Alexander Valley California
Maker: Kendall Jackson Vineyard Estates
Vintage: 2004
Cost:
Comments: This is a really wonderful bottle of wine.

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, raw, grilled, fried, baked or roasted beef, lamb, game and game birds .
Sauce: au jus, savory, tomato, mustard, peppercorn
Cheese: Soft or hard goat cheese, hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Chocolate
Wine ProfileJammy, pepper, spice, berry flavors, black currant, cherry, chocolate, tobacco, nut, cinnamon, coffee, peppercorn, pimento and plum.Full bodied, dry.

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Wine By The Glass

Date: Wed, Jan 13, 2010

Do you look at the wine list before you order a wine by the glass? If you don’t, you may be missing out on some good wine and occasionally some good values. Many restaurants are increasing the number of wines that they offer by the glass. While some still just have their “house” Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, more restaurants are providing choices within these varieties and are adding more varieties to their by-the-glass lists. It’s not unusual to find Malbec, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and other varieties on the list these days.

Typically the “house” wines will be the lowest price and the lowest quality. So unless you’re just really craving a mediocre glass of wine, see what other by-the-glass wines are available before you make your decision. Often you will find some premium labels on the list that you will want to try. While the premium labels will cost more, I think you’re getting better value with the premium wines. The reasoning is a bit convoluted. In general, the cheaper “house” wine is going to have been marked-up more (as a percentage of its retail price) than the premium wine. So while neither is a great value, the premium wine is a relatively better value than the “house” wine. Besides, it tastes better.

A good by-the-glass wine list is also an opportunity to branch out and give your palate some exercise. On the whole you’re not spending a huge amount for a glass of wine, so try something new. Be brave, try a variety you haven’t had before. If you’re in a Merlot rut, try a Malbec or a Pinot Noir. If you stuck on Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio, try a Sauvignon Blanc. If you’re not that brave, at least try a different label of your “usual” wine or try one from a different part of the country or the world. Most restaurants will pour you a sample of their by-the-glass wines, so you really don’t have to risk anything to experiment with something new.

Two things to beware of when ordering wine by the glass. Some restaurants don’t think that by-the-glass-wines deserve real stemware. They’ll try to serve your wine in one of those tiny little 1950s “Libby’s” glasses. You know, the kind our mothers got for free from the grocery store. If you know the restaurant has stemware, ask for a glass appropriate to the wine when you order. I usually just ask for a “real” glass and they know what I mean. You will enjoy the wine more in the right glass. Even mediocre wine tastes better in a good glass.

The other thing to beware of is wine that has oxidized because it has been open too long. Unfortunately this is very common. Some restaurants at least refrigerate their open bottles to retard oxidation, but some don’t even do that. They will be happy to pour you’re the last few ounces from a bottle that was opened two days ago. So, check your glass of wine carefully for signs of oxidation. Does the color look right? Oxidation turns wine brown, so if your red wine is amber or your white wine is brown or a dark gold, it may be oxidized. Does it smell right? Wine should smell fresh and, for the most part, like fruit. If the wine smells musty or like burnt raisins, it may be oxidized. If you suspect your wine is oxidized, send it back and ask for a glass from a new bottle.

Cellar Notes

For reasons that escape me, most chain restaurants offer a minimal number of by-the-glass wines. On the other hand, proprietor owned restaurants seem to have, on average, more by-the-glass wines. One of the largest selections in the immediate area is Café du Bois with a list of around twenty by-the-glass wines, followed closely by Raffa’s with sixteen. Here are wines I’ve selected that you might want to try from the by-the-glass lists at few of our local, proprietor owned restaurants.

Amedeo’s
Kendall Jackson Chardonnay
Park West Pinot Noir

Chimichurri’s
Divino Malbec
Divino Torrontes

Café du Bois
Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay
Chateau Lenormand red Bordeaux

Raffa’s
Mandolin Pinot Noir
Rosenblum Vintner's Cuvée Zinfandel

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Limited Distribution Cabernet Sauvignon from Malk

Date: Wed, Jan 13, 2010

DescriptionName: Malk Cabernet Sauvignon
Color: Red
Grape(s): Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Stags Leap, Napa Valley California
Maker: Malk Family Vineyards
Vintage: 2006
Cost: $60.00 - $70.00
Comments: Only about 300 cases of this wine are produced annually. It is only available from the winery at www.malkfamilyvineyards.com.

Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, raw, grilled, fried, baked or roasted beef, lamb, game and game birds .
Sauce: au jus, savory, tomato, mustard, peppercorn
Cheese: Soft or hard goat cheese, hard cow and sheep cheese
Other: Chocolate
Wine ProfileJammy, pepper, spice, berry flavors, black currant, cherry, chocolate, tobacco, nut, cinnamon andcoffee. Full bodied, dry.

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An Inexpensive California Pinot Noir

Date: Mon, Jan 11, 2010

DescriptionName: Mark West Pinot Noir
Color: Red
Grape(s): Pinot Noit
Appellation: California
Maker: Mark West
Vintage: 2008
Cost: $10.00
Comments: Ever since the movie Side Ways popularized Pinot Noir, it has gotten harder and harder to find a good bottle for under $25.00. This Mark West is a good value at around $10.00.
Food PairingsMeats & Seafood: Poached, raw, grilled, fried, baked or roasted fish, crustacean shell fish, beef, pork or fowl.
Sauce: au jus, white, savory, herb
Cheese: .Soft or hard goat cheese, medium cow and sheep cheese
Other: Mushrooms
Wine ProfileEarthy, bing cherry, strawberry, raspberry, ripe tomato, rose pedal, spice, rosemary, cinnamon, caraway, peppermint, oregano, green tea, black olive, plum and rhubarb. Notes of mushroom, earth, leather, meat, and truffle. Oak provides vanilla, coconut, smoke, cigar box, cedar, toast and tar.

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An Excellent Pinot Noir from Marimar in Sonoma

Date: Fri, Jan 8, 2010





Name : Marimar Pinot Noir
Grape(s): Pinot Noir
Color: Red
Appellation: Dona Margarita Vineyard Sonoma Coast California
Maker: Marimar Torres
Vintage : 2006
Cost: $40-45
Occasion: A before dinner appetizer
Profile: Earthy, bing cherry, strawberry, raspberry, ripe tomato, rose pedal, spice, rosemary, cinnamon, caraway, peppermint, oregano, green tea, black olive, plum and rhubarb. Notes of mushroom, earth, leather, meat, and truffle can also develop. Oak provides vanilla, coconut, smoke, cigar box, cedar, toast and tar.
Pairing: Poached, raw, grilled, fried, baked or roasted fish, crustacean shell fish, beef, pork or fowl.Soft or hard goat cheese, medium cow and sheep cheese.Mushrooms

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Calcu Cabernet Blend from Chile

Date: Thu, Dec 31, 2009





Name: Calcu Red Blend
Grape(s): 60% Cabernet Sauvignon
25%Carmenere
15% Cabernet Franc
Color: Red
Appellation: ColchaguaValley, Chile
Maker: Sociedad Agricola Los Maquis S.A.
Vintage: 2004
Cost: $11.00-14.00
Occasion: Dinner party at the home of Jill & Christopher Curran
Comments: Dark, rich red color. Spicy red berry and cherry aromaswith anise, cracked pepper and espresso. Juicy, redcurrant and cherry flavors. Excellent with roasted meats.

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Olvena Cabernet from Spain

Date: Thu, Dec 31, 2009







Name: Orvena Cabernet Sauvignon
Grape(s): Cabernet Sauvignon
Color: Red
Appellation: SomontanoSpain (Crianza)
Maker: Olvena
Vintage: 2004
Cost: $?
Occasion: Dinner party at the home of Jill & Christopher Curran.
Comments: Deep red color, intense aromoas of spice and fruit. Wefinished 2 of the 1.5 liter bottles, so we must have liked this Cabernet Sauvignon. It went extremely well with a roast of tenderloin. Note below the unusual, but attractive, format of the 1.5 liter bottle.






Comparing the unusually formatted 1.5 liter bottle
to the normal 750 ml bottle. This is a very attractive
if not somewhat impractical shape for a magnum.

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Wining About Our Weight

Date: Tue, Dec 29, 2009

Well we made it through another one. I’m not talking about the really terrible year 2009 or the equally terrible decade. No, I’m talking about another holiday season and all that wonderful food we shouldn’t have eaten and all that great wine we shouldn’t have saved for January. So naturally we’re all making plans for dramatic dieting during the next several months. In the vein of trying to provide a service to my readers, here is some information on the waist-line expanding properties of wine.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a standard serving (5- ounces) of table wine, red or white, contains 125 calories. By way of comparison, a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola has 140 calories; a 12-ounce bottle of beer 150 calories; and an 8-ounce glass of whole milk 160 calories. This is an average for wine, since the calorie content will vary with the alcohol and residual sugar content of the wine. Sweet wines having higher calorie counts than dry wines. If you drink sweet white wines, your 5 ounce glass might contain 200 to 250 calories (a Hershey bar contains 210 calories).

If you are an Atkins, South Beach or other low carbohydrate diet subscriber, then you don’t really care about all those calories, do you? A lot of experts don’t seem to like these low carbohydrate diets, but I think they reflect a more natural way of eating than most diets, including our usual diets of eating everything we can get our hands on. When we were running around on the savannahs in Africa a million years ago, our diet consisted pretty much of meat and whatever plant material we could find. That’s what our bodies we adapted for. There was no bread or Twinkies or salads for that matter. We grew up on protein and fat. Now I need to carefully climb down from my soap box and get back to the column.

Unfortunately, wine is not much more carbohydrate friendly than it is calorie friendly. A 5-ounce serving of dry white table wine contains around 1.25 grams of carbohydrates, a glass of red around 2.5 grams. Yes, you guessed it, sweet wines will have substantially more carbohydrates than dry wines. So if that news isn’t bad enough, alcohol while not a carbohydrate, behaves metabolically a lot like a carbohydrate. So, for the purposes of a low carbohydrate diet, alcohol should be treated as a carbohydrate. There is some good news about wine and our waist line. Wine contains no fat and no cholesterol. I’ll drink to that.

As in so many things, moderation is the key. While there is no way around what you drink showing up on your waistline, total abstinence isn’t required. If you want to drink more wine, drink drier red wines rather than sweeter white wines. Also, there’s a tendency to eat more when you’re drinking. Watch how much and what you eat with your wine. But, most important, cut down on the quantity if you are really serious about your weight. At least until the middle of January or so.

Given that, try to have as Happy a New Year as you can!

Cellar Notes

I hope you’ve visited my blog at www.virtualwineknow.com. Not only will you find all of the Life is a Cabernet columns there, going all the way back to the beginning of the column (and the Tribune) in 2007, but you will also find near real-time commentary on wines that I discover. Each time I drink a new wine that is worth your knowing about, I post comments about in on my blog. Some of these wines, like the ones below, will find their way into Cellar Notes, but most will only appear in the blog. You can subscribe to the blog via email, so every time I post a new wine, you’ll receive an email about it. Give it a try; there’s also a great Wine Primer that I’ve created from past columns.

Name: Mumm Cuvee M Sparkling Wine
Grape(s): Chardonnay
Color: White
Appellation: Napa Valley California
Maker: Mumm
Vintage: Non-Vintage
Cost: $20.00 at Spec's
Occasion: Thanksgiving breakfast
Comments: A noticeably sweet sparkling wine with notes of peaches and vanilla. It went well with eggs and other holiday breakfast fare.

Name: Ridge East Bench Zinfandel
Grape(s): Zinfandel
Color: Red
Appellation: East Bench, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County California
Maker: Ridge
Vintage: 2006
Cost: $30.00 at Spec's
Occasion: Dinner at home
Comments: One of many fine Ridge Zinfandels. Medium body, low tannins, complex flavors.



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