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2007 SCHUG PINOT NOIR, Carneros & Ristorante Capeo, North Little Rock, Arkansas

Date: Tue, Jan 12, 2010 Wine Tasting



After a lengthy layoff, incredible how much time a relocation takes, my New Year's resolution was to get back to writing about some of the wines, good and bad, that I've come across. Now that I live amongst the many vineyards of Northern Virginia, yes, Virginia has vineyards, I'm motivated to share some of my discoveries, as well as some of the duds I've come across. All that being said let's get busy.
Over the Christmas holidays I found myself back in Arkansas visiting relatives and had the opportunity to dine at Ristorante Capeo in the Argenta section of North Little Rock, Arkansas. Yes, North Little Rock actually has sections! There were four in our party and much good food was consumed. If you ever find yourself in North Little Rock/Little Rock, they are two separate cities, stop by and try their Lamb Shank, Double Cut Pork Chop, Chilean Sea Bass or their Halibut, all of which are excellent. I personally had the Pork Chop which was finished with a brandy and parsley butter that just made the dish. Of course the chop was man-sized which is not a bad thing. My only complaint about this restaurant is that their pacing is just a little off. There was enough time between the appetizers and the main courses that we ended up buying a second bottle of the 2007 Schug Carneros Pinot Noir and then a third about half way through our entrees. Come to think of it, their slow pacing may be by design? An excellent, excellent Pinot Noir that I highly recommend. A full nose of cherries and oak greeted me followed by flavors of blackberry, a little currant and a smoothy, is that a word?, oak flavored spicy kind of thing and a simply wonderful finish. Not sure what this cost in the restaurant as the uncle-in-law treated on this night but shows availability at the winery website at $24.00 which is outside my day-t0-day price point but fits nicely in my "special occasion" range. Right out of the box I gave this one 5 Corkscrews, which was a huge increase in my rating of the 2005 Schug Pinot Noir. Evidently the grapes that went into the 2007 bottling had a much better growing life than the 2005's. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, and Find the 2007 Schug Pinot Noir somewhere!

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2006 NO SAUVIGNON BLANC

Date: Sun, Mar 15, 2009 Wine Tasting




If you've read any of my posts in the past you know that I've written positively about wines that pass on the over use of oak and other California techniques. The 2006 NO Sauvignon Blanc, that I picked up for $6.99, is one of those Healdsburg, California wines that passed on the Oak aging and malolactic fermentation. Lots of crisp notes of vanilla, melon, lemon-lime and grass. Just a very nice, fresh, tasty wine. And a great price. I gave this one 3 Corkscrews based on a decent price and overall enjoyable bottle of wine. Almost 4 Corkscrews but didn't have that little extra umph that I need to see in a wine to give it the higher rating. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

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2007 CARTA VIEJA SAUVIGNON BLANC from Chile

Date: Sat, Mar 14, 2009 Wine Tasting




Another great value find from Wegmans which has become my favorite store for life! I picked this one up for $6.99 and was blown away by the flavors. A beautiful light, yellow-green color in the bottle I poured this once and let it settle for 10 minutes or so. On the nose a little floral notes but mostly tropical fruit. On the nose I noted flavors of peach and tropical fruits like kiwi and melon. Nice light finish made me want more of this one and I had a chance to enjoy this one for a couple of days. I noted that it is imported by Dionysos Imports out of Lorton, Virginia so don't know how readily available it is in the rest of the country. I picked this one up in Gainesville, Virginia but I still recommend trying to find a bottle of this. I gave it 4 Corkscrews based on the great price and easy drinkability. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Carta Vieja!




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2006 TAFT STREET PINOT NOIR

Date: Sat, Mar 14, 2009 Wine Tasting




Well, I splurged on this one and it didn't pay off. Have you ever noticed how wine that tastes so good when being sampled at the store can end up tasting so bland when you get it home? What's that about? The Total Wine & More Store in Fredericksburg, Virginia was sampling this 2006 Taft Street Pinot Noir a few weekends ago and the sampling I had tasted decent. And they were offering a $1.00 off coupon so it had to be good. Right? Wrong! I shelled out $15.99 for this bottle and was met with one bland glass after another. Nothing much on the nose and no fruit that I could really identify on the tongue. I gave this one several days to change my mind but it just couldn't. It didn't get worse but it definitely didn't get any better and I tried it at different temperatures and different breathing times. I gave this one 2 Corkscrews because I didn't pour it down the sink, couldn't bare to at that price, but might have been tempted to had I paid a little less. Avoid this one. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Good Wine, Not This One!

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WEGMANS

Date: Mon, Feb 16, 2009 Wine Tasting

Just wanted to give a quick shout out to the store whose logo appears above. If you live within one hour, no make that within one and a half hours, you've got to pay a visit to Wegmans! This is by far the best grocery store known to man. It is like going to Vegas every time you go in there. Their prepared food section is unparalleled and they actually have a raw bar in the location I've been frequenting in Gainesville, Virginia. In fact, one of the requirements for our ongoing home search is that a Wegmans be within driving distance. As wine and cheese go together like a hand and glove, I wanted to mention a couple of cheeses I bought this weekend that were probably some of the best cheeses I've had anywhere! And I like cheese. Just ask #1 who got me started on this whole wine and cheese thing when we met some 18+ years ago. Both of these cheeses were also incredibly cheap compared to what I've been paying for cheese in Arkansas. The first was a Manchego from El Trigal of Spain. A sheep's milk cheese, this one is a harder cheese meant to be sliced and eaten by itself or on a cracker. The second, a Wegmans brand, Rich & Buttery Triple Creme Brie from France that was probably the best, spreadable brie I've ever had! I will be purchasing these many times in the future. This Brie is great with Wheat Thins and spreads almost like a butter. I've gotta go have some. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine! Oh, did I mention that Wegman's also has a wine section that is as varied as any wine store I've ever been in? They do. Get there, now!

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WEGMANS

Date: Mon, Feb 16, 2009 Wine Tasting

Just wanted to give a quick shout out to the store whose logo appears above. If you live within one hour, no make that within one and a half hours, you've got to pay a visit to Wegmans! This is by far the best grocery store known to man. It is like going to Vegas every time you go in there. Their prepared food section is unparalleled and they actually have a raw bar in the location I've been frequenting in Gainesville, Virginia. In fact, one of the requirements for our ongoing home search is that a Wegmans be within driving distance. As wine and cheese go together like a hand and glove, I wanted to mention a couple of cheeses I bought this weekend that were probably some of the best cheeses I've had anywhere! And I like cheese. Just ask #1 who got me started on this whole wine and cheese thing when we met some 18+ years ago. Both of these cheeses were also incredibly cheap compared to what I've been paying for cheese in Arkansas. The first was a Manchego from El Trigal of Spain. A sheep's milk cheese, this one is a harder cheese meant to be sliced and eaten by itself or on a cracker. The second, a Wegmans brand, Rich & Buttery Triple Creme Brie from France that was probably the best, spreadable brie I've ever had! I will be purchasing these many times in the future. This Brie is great with Wheat Thins and spreads almost like a butter. I've gotta go have some. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine! Oh, did I mention that Wegman's also has a wine section that is as varied as any wine store I've ever been in? They do. Get there, now!

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DOUBLE DOG DARE CHARDONNAY

Date: Mon, Feb 16, 2009 Wine Tasting




This was the find of my week! I picked this one up on a lark due to its label and its outlandishly low price. $3.99!!!! I knew this was going on a limb but at $3.99 it was a gamble I was willing to take. All I can say is rush out and buy this one before they realize it's under priced. Lots of citrus and hazelnut on the palate and very light for a chardonnay. Almost more similar to a Pinto Gris. Very nice finish as well. I didn't notice any oak in this one and suspect that it is aged in stainless. Not that that's a bad thing but if you're looking for a big, oaky chardonnay, this is not what you're looking for. Easily gave 4 Corkscrews to this one based on its unbelievable low price and taste. Great, great value. I'm on my way out to go pick up at least a half case or more. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Cheap Double Dog Dare Chardonnay!

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2006 HAPPY CAMPER CABERNET SAUVIGNON

Date: Mon, Feb 16, 2009 Wine Tasting




Okay. I admit it. I'm a sucker for a gimmicky label hence the reason I purchased the 2006 Happy Camper Cabernet Sauvignon. That, and a good price at $7.99. What did I expect from an inexpensive Cabernet you ask? Well, I'm always on the look out for an undiscovered jewel and I was hoping this might be it. Alas, it wasn't. Now don't get me wrong, this was not a bad wine just not as refined as I might have wanted. Lot of fruit in this one but definitely a little on the sweeter side. I would recommend this to those just starting out as it is drinkable and had no tannin that I could pick up. Very little noted on the nose as well. I gave this one 3 Corkscrews as the price was right and it was a good, middle of the week, hanging out in my hotel room, type of wine. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


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2008 ANAKENA SAUVIGNON BLANC

Date: Mon, Feb 16, 2009 Wine Tasting



Direct from Chile, via the local Total Wine store, comes today's reviewed wine. Being new to an area where there actually is a huge selection of wines, I was psyched to be able to visit the Total Wine store. I got a variety of well-priced wines and the 2008 Anakena was one. Not a lot on the nose to report but this wine displayed lots of peach on the palate with a little bit of those clean, grassy tones that I seem to like more and more. Nice, lasting finish. I had Thai food with this and it was a perfect accompaniment. I picked this one up for $7.99/bottle and easily gave it 4 Corkscrews based on its excellent price and due to the fact that it is very, very drinkable, with or without food. Can't recommend this one enough. Not 5 Corkscrew territory but darn near close! Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Anakena!



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2005 SAWBUCK CHARDONNAY

Date: Sat, Feb 7, 2009 Wine Tasting




Today's reviewed wine is the product of a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas for a gymnastics meet my favorite 10 year old was competing in. We made it a family trip and overall had a good time. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Fayetteville which I can't highly recommend. Really small rooms and evidently no insulation or soundproofing was used in our room as we easily heard our neighbors every conversation late into the night. We picked up the 2005 Sawbuck Chardonnay for $6.99 at Liquor World a few miles from the University of Arkansas. I've been on their email newsletter list for some time and I guess I was expecting a little more. They've got a huge selection of wine but it is located in a strip mall and the store felt somewhat cavernous. I guess I like my wine stores a little more upscale and their pricing wasn't a whole lot better than what I've been able to find in Little Rock. On to the review. My first experience with this wine was less than memorable. Nothing on the nose and my first glass of this reminded me more of a Sauvignon Blanc. Very light, no oak or body to speak of and just uneventful. I admit this is a little old for a Chardonnay and may have been better in it's day. That being said my initial reaction was to give this a low 2 Corkscrews but after drinking this for a couple of days my mind has been changed. The second day this one was much better and earned another Corkscrew much to my surprise. Final tally, 3 Corkscrews based on price and taste. Don't kill yourself trying to find this but if you can find it for $5 or less, by all means give it a try. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

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2005 FOREST VILLE CABERNET SAUVIGNON AND MARRIOTT COURTYARD

Date: Tue, Feb 3, 2009 Wine Tasting









Well 365Corks is relocating to the Northern Virginia area after 2 1/2 years in a wine wasteland known as Little Rock, Arkansas. Love the area, people are great, but the wine availability is some of the worst of anywhere I've lived and the state legislature is hard at work trying to raise the tax rate on wine even more! I guess being ranked #5 of states with the highest tax on wine isn't good enough and they're striving to be #1. Still can't have wine shipped to you in the state. According to the good Governor, teenagers might order wine and have it shipped to them. You can't make this stuff up! On my relocation trip I stayed at the Alcoa (Knoxville, Tenn area) Courtyard by Marriott hotel. Great rate, nicely updated room, and a few munchies, cheese, crackers, chips and cookies at happy hour. Wine and Beer aren't free, $1 for Beer, $2 for Wine and Liquor, (probably a state law or something that they can't give it to you), but they are still affordable. That being said I ordered a glass of the 2005 Forest Ville Cabernet Sauvignon and $2.19 later I had my first taste. Not tons of fruit but drinkable and very little tanin. It was worth every penny of the $2.19! Not a great wine but worked out fine after a good eight hours on the road. I probably wouldn't pay a whole lot for this wine, I see it listed for $5.99/bottle on the Internet, which is probably the most I would pay. Not a lot of deep flavors but nothing off-putting either. I gave this one 3 Corkscrews based on its very affordable price and drink ability. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine and Look out Northern Virginia!

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JUST PHOTOGRAPHY TALK: WINTER SHOTS OF ARKANSAS

Date: Thu, Jan 8, 2009 Wine Tasting

© Lee Photography

© Lee Photography

© Lee Photography

With the new year here I've got a backlog of postings on wine and travel to publish so please check back in the coming days. I did want to share a few photos I took in the last few days as a wintry rain made for some great shots. Alas it has all melted but I've got these captured in time. All were taken with my trusty Nikon and all rights are reserved on each photograph. Hope you enjoy. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, and grab a Camera and a bottle of wine!

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2006 LEESE - FITCH CHARDONNAY & KYBECCA ON THE TABLE

Date: Tue, Aug 12, 2008 Wine Tasting




My second visit to a local wine store ended up with my car stopping in front of Kybecca on the Table , also in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia. This is the kind of wine store I'd like to open some day! Lots of affordable wines, a good sized artisan cheese selection and a lot of other items that you might want to pick up. They've also got a great web site and two locations in the Fredericksburg area. Very friendly and helpful staff made this shopping trip very enjoyable. I picked up a bottle of the 2006 Leese-Fitch Chardonnay based strictly on the unique corking system. You unfurl the plastic which leaves you with a nice plastic cork that easily fits back in the bottle. Since it was only $10/bottle I took a chance and purchased this one. Somewhat dry this Chardonnay, although from California, is made more in the "french style" which is, how does she say it, a good thing! Nice balanced fruit on the palate with an excellent soft finish. Did I mention it's a little dry? This one comes from the Don Sebastiani & Sons megaconglomerate, but I highly recommend it if you like the french styling of chardonnay. I gave it 4 Corkscrews and will purchase more in the future. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine & Check out Kybecca!

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STEPHEN VINCENT 2005 CRIMSON

Date: Tue, Aug 12, 2008 Wine Tasting




Back on the road again but not quite as fancy as my trip to D.C. This time I'm in Northern Virginia for two weeks but instead of the Grand Hyatt I'm at the not-so-grand Comfort Inn. Not terrible just not the Grand Hyatt. I was able to venture out and visit the local wine purveyors and came across a nice bottle of a red blend table wine. I visited a little shop in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia, the Virginia Wine Experience. Lots of wine to choose from with the Domestics on the main floor and all of the imports on the top floor. After much browsing I settled on the 2005 Stephen Vincent Crimson which the check out lady said was a good one. Dark ruby red in the glass, I mean plastic hotel cup, with lots of blackberry on the nose. On the palate I picked up lots of plum and dark cherry with a nice balance of tanin. A nice smooth finish added up to an excellent bottle of wine. Not quite 5 Corkscrew level but easily a 4 Corkscrew rating especially based on the $13.00/bottle price I paid. If in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area definitely make a point to check out the Virginia Wine Experience and give the Stephen Vincent Crimson a try if you come across it. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine.

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