COOK'S BRUT CHAMPAGNE






Thursday, 3/22, Little Rock, AR


Celebration of two great report cards by my 6 and 8 year-olds, both who had straight A+'s. Okay my 6 year old actually had all +'s but we treat them as A's in comparison with his sister. Of course a celebration calls for champagne and the Cook's Brut Champagne has been our champagne of choice for sixteen years? or so. In fact it was served at me and #1's wedding many moons ago. Way back then you could get it for $3.99/bottle but even now I was able to pick this one up for $5.99/bottle. I know many of you wine/champagne snobs will claim I don't know what I'm talking about but let me say that I've had Dom on more than one occasion and would still take this over the $100+ bottle any day. After the champagne and Sprite was poured we all toasted the great job accomplished by our two little ones and followed it up with strawberries and whipped cream. I easily gave this one 4 Corkscrews because you cannot beat its taste and flavor and price wise nothing can compete with it. I'm traveling next week and hope to find wines not available here in Arkansas to try and to bring back. As I'll be in family travel mode my posting may be limited, if at all, but upon my return I'll give full reviews on all the many wines I intend on finding and trying while in the Lonestar State. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

2005 CLOS du BOIS SAUVIGNON BLANC



Wednesday, 3/21, Little Rock, AR

After another busy day at the office, so much so that I missed my daily workout, and another beautiful day in The Rock, I rushed home to change into some shorts and then off to my 8-year old's soccer game. She's on a very competitive team this year and is only one of two 8 yr olds with the rest of the team 9 and 10. After 4 games they are undefeated and she has scored in 2 games, both game winners, and has had 2 assists in the others. She's always been a natural athlete and both of her coaches are genuinely surprised how good she is. She's probably the fastest on her team and she has the old man's aggressiveness on the field. I know, I know. A proud dad going on and on about their kid! I can't help myself.
After the game we headed out to find some chow and ended up at Loca Luna. Our first time there and they were extremely busy for a Wednesday night. Great ambiance and space but I think the crowd affected the service as it took us over an hour to get our order after it had been placed and when it did come out my dish, soft shell crabs over pasta, was lukewarm at the very best and my father-in-law's entree was the wrong one. I've written to the owner so we'll see if anything comes of that. With our dinner we ordered the 2005 Clos du Bois Sauvignon Blanc. Not a lot of nose other than an overwhelming smell of grapefruit which manifested itself in the mouth once the first taste was had. A little melon was picked up but this wine comes close to tasting like a watered down grapefruit juice. And you know how I feel about grapefruit juice tasting wine! I gave this one 2 Corkscrews as I can't ever see myself buying it again good value or not. Their other varietals may be different but nothing to recommend on the Sauvignon. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

JUST TALK: NO WINE TODAY

Tuesday, 3/20, Little Rock, AR

No wine review today due to the fact that I just plain ran out of time. Ran out of time you say? Let me explain. After an extremely busy and productive day I rushed off to a Junior Deputy Baseball meeting. I volunteered to coach since my 6-year old is playing and I wanted to assure that he, and all the other kids on my team, have a good, positive introduction to the game of baseball. After that meeting I rushed off to another meeting which lasted until about 9:30 p.m. I was more than ready to get in bed when I got home and was sound asleep before I knew it dreaming of future wine tastings. I'll try to make up for it tomorrow although I see another hectic day on the horizon. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

2004 BOHEMIAN HIGHWAY CABERNET SAUVIGNON





Monday, 3/19, Little Rock, AR

A somewhat hectic day but fortunately I was outside all day which allowed me to enjoy the 78 degree day we had. I got home early to relieve #1 as she is my little girl's Brownie Mom and this afternoon was their monthly get together. A late dinner of roast that had been swimming in the crock pot all day was enjoyed with a 2004 Bohemian Highway Cabernet Sauvignon. Now if you saw my review of their Chardonnay from a few weeks ago you know that I loved it. Although I'm not as crazy about the Cab as I was the Chardonnay, this is still a very nice wine. Lots of dark cherry and chocolate on the nose with a dark scarlet red color in the glass. The cherry and chocolate that was on the nose also exhibited itself on the tongue. Great finish and just the right balance of tannin. These Bohemian Highway people have got this wine making thing down! And they don't charge an arm and a leg. In fact, I got this one for $3.99/bottle and like the Chardonnay I didn't expect a whole lot at that price point but was once again proven wrong. I gave this one 4 Corkscrews for drinkability and overall value. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

2002 GOUNDREY OFFSPRING CABERNET SAUVIGNON






Sunday, 3/18, Little Rock and Wye Mtn, AR

Somewhat lazy day, especially this morning as the kids spent the night with the grandparents and weren't on the prowl at 7:30 this morning looking for breakfast. An afternoon trip was taken to Wye Mountain where there is a huge field of daffodils that people from all over come to look at. No really! Tonight's reviewed wine is an Australian from a winery I've had good luck with before although I had never tried anything in a red from them. This one had a very deep, rich, ruby hue with a nose of cherries and allspice. On the tongue I had to let it linger for several seconds as I was picking up something that tasted almost carbonated. It finally came to me that there is a heavy mint flavor along with the cherry that was picked up in the nose. The finish was not as smooth as I normally like and the tannins seemed a little over done and not as soft as I would have liked. I gave this one 3 Corkscrews as the taste was okay but at the $3.99/bottle I paid the value was excellent. I couldn't give it 4 as the taste was really nothing that blew me away but at that price I had no problem giving it 3. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

2005 YELLOW TAIL CHARDONNAY




Saturday, 3/17, Little Rock, AR
Almost back to 100% health which allowed me and #1 to attend a great St. Patrick's Day party at some friends. Lots of good Irish stew, I'm still trying to get the recipe and will share it when I do, lots of finger foods, a surprise birthday cake for the hostess and several different type brownies. They had green icing so I guess they qualify to be Irish. Our hostess provided today's reviewed wine in the huge bottle quantity and not feeling that my stomach was quite ready for Guiness, I settled for the 2005 Yellow Tail Chardonnay. All I can say is that this is not good wine if you've EVER had good wine. No nose to speak of and extremely sweet and almost undrinkable to me. Now this is just one man's opinion and I'm sure some people love this stuff because it seems to be all over the place in the liquor stores. Of course the 1.5 liter sells for about $6.99 so you do get a lot for your money. The only problem is that you then have to drink it. Sorry to say this was my reentry into wine tasting and rating but it is what it is. Easily gave this 1 Corkscrew as I would NEVER buy this myself, would never drink it again and if I accidentally did buy it I would promptly pour it down the sink. Not that I've got anything against the sink! They've got a decent web site and maybe they should stick to web site design and get out of making wine. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine (just not this)!




JUST WINE TALK: RESTAURANT WINE SERVICE

Friday, 3/16, Little Rock, AR

As I continue my road to 100% recovery from the plague, or something that felt like it, I wanted to share a column I recently read in the WSJ by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher regarding restaurant wine service. Several great pet peeves were mentioned that I've experienced as I'm sure anybody who has been drinking wine for any length of time has has the displeasure to experience as well. Let me know of any others that weren't discussed and I'll mention them in a later posting.

1. Overfilling glasses when you've ordered a bottle.

This is where the wait-staff 'park' as much wine as they can get into a glass. I guess the reasoning on their part is that you'll drink more and therefore order more but as far as I'm concerned it makes me not want to order more just to spite them!

2. Wait-staff pouring wine from an ordered bottle at all.

This is just like it sounds and I am in the camp that says I would rather pour my own when I want more rather than have the wait-staff decide.

3. Decanting without permission.

Another self explanatory one. This is where the wine is decanted without even asking the patron. Evidently this does occur although I haven't seen it in my day. If a wine was decanted without permission I would have to reject it and tell them to bring a new bottle. Thoughts?

4. Decanting out of sight.

This is where the wait-staff takes a wine to be decanted out of sight. Some readers mentioned that they couldn't be assured it was the same wine they had ordered but I think this could easily be overcome by requesting the cork from the decanted bottle. Still if I was having a wine decanted I would always request that it be done at the table.

5. Serving reds too warm and whites too cold.

I've seen this a lot where the red being served is room temperature and the whites almost have ice crystals in them. Any restaurant that is going to serve wine should at least know the appropriate temperature to serve it at.

6. Taking away glasses before they're truly empty.

Probably my #1 complaint is this. I can't tell you how many times #1 or I have had to almost yell at wait-staff to not take the glass away. I've even had some try to take a glass that has more than just a taste left. On one occasion I even called a manager over after the glass was taken when one of us had hit the restroom and told them that they really should bring out another glass to share due to the amount that was absconded with. Any reputable restaurant should honor a request like that.

7. Ungenerous, or nonstandard , pours of wines by the glass.

Another major pet peeve of mine. You would think that a restaurant would pour on the heavy side rather than the light side but that isn't always the case. Several times in the past I've commented about the puny pour and told them that I wouldn't be back if that was how they treated their customers. Why lose ALL my business by cutting back on the pour? Doesn't make much fiscal sense as far as I'm concerned.

8. Dirty glasses.

Really, how hard is it to get a glass clean or at least inspect them before you pour into them? But if you're like me you've had to point out a dirty glass with lip prints, finger prints and god knows what else, that has just had a full pour. Several times I've told the wait-staff that not only did I not want that pour but that they could bring out clean glasses and a new bottle.

Let me know if you've got other bad restaurant experiences with your wine. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

JUST WINE TALK: LABEL REMOVAL

Thursday, 3/15, Little Rock-Cabot-Little Rock, AR

Surprisingly I started to feel somewhat like my old self again about 2:00 p.m. or so yesterday. Sonadora, who was kind enough to leave a get well comment on Wednesday, described something similar that she had as the plague which I have to agree pretty much sums up how I felt! I went back to work today, loyal servant that I am, but am still only in the 85th percentile of overall well-being. I can tell that my taster is really off though as I tried a Diet Coke and, yes, a small glass of a Chardonnay I like, and both tasted like they were loaded with sugar. I'm sure it's some type of body chemistry thing that will hopefully even out in the next few days because I'm really not into sweet wine and would hate to think that all wines are going to taste sweet going forward. Since I didn't plan on reviewing any new wine until at least Monday when hopefully the true taster and nose will return, I'm going to fill this post, and others this weekend, with some useful information, hopefully someone will think so, about wine, etc. The best part of all? IT'S FREE!

LIFTING LABELS FROM PRIZED BOTTLES

The best method I've found for removing bottle labels is what's known as the oven method. You just fire up the old oven to 350 degrees and place empty, uncorked bottles into the oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove bottles, very, very carefully and labels should peel right off as the adhesive usually melts by then. Put labels on wax paper and after cooled, frame or place in your choice of display.

Any other ideas for removing labels? Would love to hear about them. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

FLU BUG OR DEATH WARMED OVER!

Friday-Wednesday 3/9-14, Little Rock, AR

FLU? E-Coli? Nowalk Virus? Scheme by #1 to collect insurance? Okay the last one I threw in for good humor but for the last week I've had one of the first three listed ailments. Until today, barely left the bed much less thought about tasting any wine. In fact, with all the Theraflu I've forced down my wine taster I don't even know if I could clearly identify any nose aromas or subtle tastes from the wines I plan on trying. Will be back at it on Monday, 3/19, as I had just gotten a new case and a half of different wines to rate and recommend, or not, and as soon as I'm back to 100% I'll start rating and posting. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

2005 JEWEL PINOT NOIR




Thursday, 3/8, Little Rock, AR

Great day in the Rock. 76 and sunny and spring is in the air. Before I start raving about today's reviewed wine I wanted to say a big thanks to Jessica over at ContraCostaTimes. She checked out 365corks.com and was kind enough to mention us in her latest post. She's got a great blog, known as Corkheads, that I've added to my Joints I Like list. Also wanted to mention Megan over at Wannabe Wino. She and I like similar wines and she does a great job reviewing what she's tried. She's also quite prolific! Check both of those sites out if you get a chance as you won't be disappointed. And if you pick up today's featured wine you won't be disappointed either. How's that for a segue? First of all let me tell you that I was extremely skeptical about the 2005 Jewel Pinot Noir and almost didn't buy it. After all, there it sat, on the end cap of a display, proudly displaying its pitiful $7.49/bottle price. Now if you've read ANY of my posts you'll know that I've been unable to find a decent Pinot Noir for under $20 so I guess you could call this one a mercy purchase. I figured I would go ahead and buy it, uncork and discover that it tasted like every other cheap pinot, and pledge never to buy it again. All of my preconceived notions, I'm happy to report, were quickly dashed. After uncorking and allowing about 30 minutes to breathe and warm a little, I poured a glass and was surprised to see a delightful, dark ruby red color swirling in the glass. The nose revealed an overpowering, in a good way, sense of "earthiness" and cranberry. As I've had good experiences with earthy-nosed wines, I started to get interested in this. My first taste revealed a full-bodied pinot with dark cherry flavors followed up with the cranberry that the nose had revealed. The finish was absolutely perfect with a nice, soft tannin. The rest of the bottle just affirmed how good this wine really was. Giving this one 5 corkscrews was probably the easiest rating I've ever come up with. No hesitation whatsoever and I implore you to pick up a bottle of this if you see it. As mentioned I paid $7.49/bottle but this could easily justify a price to $18-20. It really is that good! Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

2003 GOUNDREY OFFSPRING CHARDONNAY






Tuesday, 3/6, Little Rock & Beebe, AR

As mentioned in my post of 3/5, I made it by T's place this afternoon after several hours in Beebe, Arkansas and did he have some great deals today. My featured wine reviewed is one of the ones I picked up. A little older than a lot of Chardonnays I've reviewed but I have found that 3-4 years in the bottle does not necessarily make for a bad chardonnay and you can get some killer closeout deals if you're willing to buy what some may consider an "old" wine. Once this one was unscrewed, I know uncorked sounds so much better, I poured a glass and let it sit for about 10 minutes or so. The 2003 Goundrey Offspring Chardonnay had a very yellow appearance in my glass which is much different than I expect to see out of a Chardonnay. In fact, it was so yellow it called to mind my last physical but that is a totally different story and I want to stay focused on wine. That mental picture was the only thing I could come up with to explain the "yellowness" of this wine. The nose smelled very clean as I've noticed seems indicative of the Australians I've had of late. I picked up a little bit of fruit, maybe melon and a little bit of orange, but very little oak, if any. I'm not sure what they are barrelling this wine in but I'm guessing primarily stainless with a short time in oak, if at all. Very fruit full on the tongue with the orange and a little bit of peach showing up and a nice smooth finish. I came very close to giving this one 5 corkscrews but after a little bit of deliberation decided to give it 4 corkscrews. I paid $3.99/bottle which at that price this wine has a very nice taste and is a GREAT value. I stocked up on a case and a half of new, affordable wines, so keep checking back as I'm looking forward to sharing what I discover about them. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

KUNDE & COUNTERFEIT WINE TALK

Monday, 3/5, Little Rock, AR
No review on tap today as #1 and I opened one of our favorites, Kunde Estate Chardonnay, which I've reviewed in the past, and settled in to watch the latest episode of 24. I did want to share highlights of a WSJ article by John R. Wilke regarding counterfeiting of rare wines that I thought was particularly interesting. Highlights of the article were:

-The art fraud unit of the FBI is conducting an investigation focusing on whether auction houses, collectors and/or importers are knowingly selling counterfeit wines.

-Wine Spectator estimates that as much as 5% of all rare vintages sold may be fake.

-Christie's Auction House did $58 million worth of wine auction business in 2006.

-Zachy's Wine did a record $35 million in wine auction sales in 2006.

-In 1995 a 20,000 bottle cache of bogus Tuscan Sassicaia was seized by Italian authorities. France's Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Australias Penfolds Grange have also been targeted by counterfeiters.

For those of you who may be collecting fine, rare wine, be aware that there are scamster's out there trying to separate you from your hard earned money. I'm making a wine run tomorrow and will be reviewing a whole new set of wines in the coming days. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink "Authentic" Wine, not Counterfeit!

2005 3 BLIND MOOSE CHARDONNAY





Weekend 3/3-4, Little Rock, AR
Vanilla, vanilla, vanilla! The overwhelming nose and taste of this weekend's reviewed wine, to me, was vanilla. I uncorked the 2005 3 Blind Moose Chardonnay on Saturday night but couldn't decide how I felt about, maybe my taster was off, so I put it back in the wine cellar and re-tasted on Sunday. The vanilla nose was still there as was the vanilla taste. It wasn't a bad taste, per Se, just a little different. This wine is also very full-bodied, almost thick for lack of a better term, which was surprising. I say surprising because when I poured it the color was very light gold bringing to mind sauvignon blanc or even pinot grigio. A little bit of oak was present but not overpoweringly so. I paid $10.79/bottle and gave this one 3 corkscrews. Decent taste but almost too much, price wise. I would buy this again but would have to find it on sale as the almost $11.00 I paid is really too much for this wine. If you've got a little time to kill, however, I can highly recommend their website, (it can be linked above), as it is pretty cool! Lots of interactivity! On the home front #1 and my little girl went to a girl scout camp this weekend so my little boy and I had a "guys" weekend with lots of junk food and popcorn in bed watching Episodes III, IV, and V of Star Wars. I try to find times that I can spend individually with each of my kids as I consider it priceless and because they really do grow up so fast. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

2005 HESS SELECT CHARDONNAY




Friday, 3/2, Little Rock, AR
After a somewhat unproductive day, I felt like I was in a fog for a good part of it, I came home and played some catch with my little boy who is getting ready for baseball tryouts on Sunday. Once it got dark we came in and while he headed for his computer, to do a little gaming of course, I started dinner. Some nice, marinated salmon, a healthy salad with homemade dressing and a couple of steamed vegetables with a little seasoning was on the menu and by the time #1 and my little girl got home from guitar lessons, dinner was ready. I chose the 2005 Hess Select Chardonnay because I felt it would be a nice accompaniment to the fish and because I have had such good luck with a variety of reds made by Hess. Unfortunately this wine did not live up to my expectations. Not that it was bad, there was just nothing about it that inspired me at all. No unique nose to speak of and it was a little too heavily bodied. Maybe it's because I've really been enjoying some of the more "natural" chardonnays I've had recently but this one tasted very manipulated and over-oaked. Not a very good finish either! I paid $10.99/bottle for this and at that price I expected a whole lot more from it. I wavered back and forth over giving it 2 or 3 corkscrews but while writing this I decided that I can only give it 2 corkscrews. If it had been more in the $6-7/bottle range I probably would have given it 3 but at $10.99 I just don't think it has the taste or the value. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!



2004 GRANT BURGE BAROSSA VINES CHARDONNAY




Thursday, 3/2, Little Rock, AR

My review today is of a wine that I have not had before and it is always exciting to see how a new, unknown vineyard's wine will rate. I brought this one, the 2004 Grant Burge Barossa Vines Chardonnay , out of the cellar and after uncorking let it breathe and warm just a little. After pouring I was struck how very aromatic and floral the nose was. I was picking up some melon in the nose as well but "floral" was the overriding smell. Noting that this wine is from Australia it reminded me of a trip I took to Brisbane, Australia some ten years ago and how I was blown away by the fresh flower smell in the backyard of the family I visited. Wild parakeets were flying freely and roosting in the trees as well. If you've never been I recommend at least one trip to Australia in a lifetime. It is one country I could easily move to and live for a lengthy period. Upon my first taste the flavor of melons and "freshness" filled my mouth. There is no oak that I could pick up and one of the things I really liked about this wine is it doesn't taste like it has been manipulated at all. It reminded me of the Kunde Estate and Beaucanon Estate Chardonnays that I've raved about in past reviews. I could have easily rated this one 5 corkscrews but after each taste I kept noting a slight after burn finish that I wasn't all that crazy about. It is for that reason that I rated this one 4 corkscrews. It wasn't cheap, $12.99/bottle, but I thought it was a good value and good taste for the money. Also, I picked this one up at one of the more expensive wine stores in West Little Rock and with a little bit of hunting you could probably find this one for less. A quick shout out to a new site that I've discovered, The Cork Board. If you get a chance check them out. I've added them to my list of sites I like and I'm very particular as to whom I add to that list. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!



FEBRUARY 2007 REVIEWS RECAP



Reds
None

Whites
2004 Kunde Estates Chardonnay
2002 Beaucanon Estates Chardonnay
2005 Bohemian Highway Chardonnay



Reds
2005 Sebastiani Pinot Noir
2004 Seghesio Barbera
2003 Bolla Valpolicella

Whites
2005 Wyndham Estates Bin 222 Chardonnay
2005 King Fish Pinot Grigio




Reds
2004 Silver Ridge Pinot Noir
2003 Blackstone Merlot

Whites
2004 Silver Ridge Chardonnay
2005 Novella Sauvignon Blanc
2003 Trinchero Sauvignon Blanc
2005 Casillero Del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc
2005 Coastal Ridge Chardonnay
2005 Little Black Dress Chardonnay






Reds
2005 Wyndham Estates Bin 333 Pinot Noir

Whites
2005 Smoking Loon Sauvignon Blanc
2005 Casillero Del Diablo Chardonnay








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