JUST WINE TALK: NEW ARKANSAS DISTRIBUTOR DOING IT RIGHT

Thursday, 5/31, Little Rock, AR
I checked my e-mail when I got home tonight and was surprised to see a message from Lee Edwards, one of the new, independent distributors in Arkansas. He's trying to bring some new, hard-to-find wines into the market. I've tried one, the 2005 Casamatta Italian White blend, and gave it 4 Corkscrews during my review. I'm anxious to try some of the other wines he's sourcing and review them as well. If the other wines he's decided to bring in are as good as the Casamatta, and I have no doubt that they are, he should be successful in his venture. One of his main challenges, as I see it, will be educating the retailers and customers and getting them to at least try something different. If he can cross that hurdle, he'll be on his way. I plan on attempting an interview with him regarding the wines he's sourcing, and will post that at a later date. If you've got a little time check out his website, Lee Edwards Distributing , and read about his philosophy. He's got a very unique vision, is very choosy in who he partners with and is passionate about wine! I'll post reviews of some of these new and interesting wines as I get a chance to try them. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

JUST WINE TALK: 2007 ART OF WINE FESTIVAL, FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS

Thursday, 5/31, Little Rock, AR
Just wanted to give a shout out and a thank you to a reader, Barbie Wawa, who let me know about the 2007 Art of Wine Festival that is going to be happening up in Fayetteville, Arkansas the weekend of June 8. It sounds like it will be a great time and I would love to attend and report back. Unfortunately #1 bought "show" tickets several months ago and therefore I will be watching a performance when I could be trying lots of wine. I will definitely attend next year and hopefully Barb will e-mail some information on wines she particularly likes and let me report second-hand. I will be attending a wine tasting of sorts on Saturday, June 9, at a friend's place where 15 couples have been invited and where we will be trying all types of Syrah. I'll let you know how that turns out and if I find any interesting, affordable wines. Thanks again Barb. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

2004 CHATEAU SOUVERAIN



Tuesday/Wednesday, 5/29-30, Little Rock, AR
A two-day review was required for today's featured wine. The reason? I spent a little more than I usually do on a bottle of wine and #1 wanted to weigh in on this one. Her first comments about the 2004 Chateau Souverain from Sonoma County? Did you see how much this one cost? Okay, okay. I splurged on this one and spent $17.79 for the bottle. Way more than I would normally spend on a bottle of wine, but I'm constantly trying to expand my horizons and went out on a limb. #1 told me that she thought it must have been a misprint but I readily fessed up to purchasing it. This will be a he said, she said type of review:
He Said: This wine is one of those heavy, full of lots of fruit and flavors, in-your-face type of Chardonnay. When I poured this one the stem revealed a dark, golden color. On the nose lots of pears, apples, vanilla and oak. The first day of tasting revealed a thick, almost cut it with a knife, chardonnay loaded with the pears, vanilla, cream and citrus. Lots of spice made for a long finish that was just as "thick" at the end as it was in the beginning. The second day of tasting revealed more oak, cinnamon and apples but some of the "thickness" had dissipated. If you like gnarly, in-your-face, California chardonnay's, you will love this one. When I first started drinking chardonnay I would have easily given this one 5 Corkscrews but now that my taste buds have become a little more refined, ta ta, this type doesn't appeal to me as much. I gave this one 3 Corkscrews based on its taste and lack of real value.
She said: I really don't like this. Now #1 has had a refined palate for much longer than I have and said at first that she would only give this one 2 Corkscrews, at most. Too many flavors evident for her and way, way, over-the-top for her liking. On the second day she liked it a little better and said that it had mellowed somewhat. She also pointed out that it was too cold when she first tried it and that much of the chill was missing from the second day. We both attributed this to the fact that we've been keeping our white stemware in the cellar and that they have become too chilled when they are first brought out. A lesson learned. She begrudgingly agreed with the 3 Corkscrew rating but has threatened me for spending as much as I did. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

2004 KING ESTATE PINOT GRIS







Friday, 5/25, Little Rock, AR
This afternoon was supposed to kick off with a party on the Arkansas River on a party barge in front of Riverfest, but due to rapid flowing water was cancelled at the last minute. #1 and I had babysitters all night, i.e. the grandparents, and decided to take advantage of the situation as quickly as our planning would allow for. #1 made a few calls and by 6:00 p.m. or so, we were off to Gypsy's, a nice little French restaurant in Little Rock. The party on the barge, which had called for steaks on the grill, was quickly forgotten about as we were treated to an excellent meal. We started off with an order of seared foie gras that couldn't have been prepared better. For entree's #1 ordered the Shrimp Fettuccine Carbonara while I went with the Roasted Chilean Sea bass served with a lobster Bearnaise sauce, both of which were out of this world. The sea bass could not have been cooked more perfectly and the lobster sauce made the dish. Our only complaint and it's more of a pet peeve than anything, is that all of the shrimp in the fettuccine dish had their tails left on. Really, does it take that much time for the chef to pull the tails? A minor complaint but still one that more restaurants should take note of. We topped the night off with an exquisite Grand Marnier Souffle that also could not have been prepared better. Oh yeah, the wine. We ordered a half bottle of the 2004 King Estate Pinot Gris which we've had other places and always enjoyed. Tonight was no exception. The nose was full of citrus, honey and orange blossom. In the mouth just a wonderful balance of fruit and citrus with perfect acidity and a nice, lingering finish. Easily gave this one 4 Corkscrews and may review in the near future and see if I can give it the coveted 5 Corkscrew rating. A cancelled party turned into a great night with a wonderful meal and delicious company. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

2006 DON RAPHAEL SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC




Thursday, 5/24, Little Rock, AR
After a lightly attended little league baseball practice, (maybe I bragged too much about our last outing), exactly four of my players showed up including my own, I came home, took a nice hot shower standing under the rain head for a good twenty minutes, and then uncorked today's wine. The 2006 Don Raphael Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from the Aconcagua Valley of Chile was very transparent with no real color to speak of. On the nose lots of floral aromas with honeysuckle and maybe even a little lemongrass noted. On the tongue a little early acidity gave way to lemon, lime and melon flavors that combined very nicely together. Nice finish with the lemon notes lingering well after swallowing. I don't want anyone to think I'm getting easy, what with two wines in a row rating 4 Corkscrews, but this one earned it. I paid $8.99/bottle so it was more expensive than last night's selection but is a good value at that price. As it's a 2006 vintage, it should be readily available. Try some and let me know if you agree. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

2003 GEORGES DUBOEUF G.D. WHITE CHARDONNAY/SAUVIGNON BLANC





Wednesday, 5/23, Little Rock, AR
After a day full of meetings and some equipment testing at work, I made my way home and pretended like the grass really doesn't need to be cut. Man it does grow fast here in the razorback state! I picked up today's reviewed wine with some trepidation as it was 1) cheap and 2) a Georges Duboeuf selection out of France. Now in the past I haven't particularly liked this vineyard's selections but, as you probably already know, I'm always on the prowl for good, inexpensive (sounds much nicer than cheap), wine to enjoy mid-week. This was one of those close-out, $3.99/bottle specials that I'm usually willing to take a gamble on and gamble I did. Needless to say my gamble paid off. This was a 60% Chardonnay/ 40% Sauvignon Blanc mix that was deep gold in color in the glass. On the nose I was able to pick up the typical lime and citrus flavors from the sauvignon blanc and a little oak from the chardonnay. In the mouth more citrus, some apple and pear notes as well as a little bit of the oak I picked up in the nose. A very nice lush, smooth finish made for an enjoyable bottle of wine for the middle of the week. I easily gave this one 4 Corkscrews due to it's excellent taste and incredible value at the close-out price. Not sure if you'll be able to find this, but if you do, pick up a bottle and enjoy. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

GREAT WINE UPDATE

Tuesday, 5/22, Little Rock, AR
No wine reviewed today but did want to mention that I just ordered a case of the Domaine Alfred Pinot Gris that I wrote about a few weeks ago. It should be in sometime next week and I should be enjoying it throughout the summer. That is if I can keep from enjoying it "too" much! It is such a good wine that I am anxious for it to arrive. And since I'm getting it at cost, I'm sure it will taste even better. Link to my review above if you haven't already read it, and locate some of the Domaine Alfred Pinot Gris. You won't regret it. I promise! Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine (especially Domaine Alfred)!

2006 PASQUA PINOT GRIGIO





Monday, 5/21, Little Rock, AR

Well I finally made it by my wine connect's store and stocked up on some new wines and a few, old favorites. The first one we tried was an Italian from Pasqua, the 2006 Pinot Grigio. Very light colored, almost transparent, with a very floral nose. On the tongue I picked up honeysuckle and melon with no spices noticed competing for attention. Very low acidity made for a pleasant finish. I gave this one 3 Corkscrews as I paid $9.99/bottle and feel like this wine is a decent value at that price, but not at a penny more. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

JUST WINE TALK: THE VINTURI

Saturday/Sunday, 5/18-19, Little Rock, AR
No wine reviewed this weekend, but I did want to mention an item I saw in the Friday wine section of the San Francisco Chronicle that I picked up prior to leaving town. Under the "Why didn't I think of that" column, comes the Vinturi, a simple acrylic device that aerates wine in a hurry with no moving parts. It evidently takes advantage of the Bernoulli principle forcing air into wine using nothing more than a cleverly designed shape and the force of gravity. When you pour wine through it, you supposedly, and I say supposedly because I have never seen, nor tried one of these, hear a sucking sound like a wine taster inhaling. The reviewer claimed to have tried it on a red and stated that it instantly tasted better. They run $39.95 and are available at vinturi.com. If any of you out there are familiar with it, please let me know what you think. And, if the inventor, Rio Sabadicci, wants a good, honest, straight-forward review of it, send me a sample and I would be more than happy to give a first hand review here at 365corks. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

2005 LE GRAND PINOT NOIR




Friday, 5/18, San Francisco, CA & Little Rock, AR
Today brought back a little faith in American Airlines as all of my flights left on time and arrived early. I'm still not to the point where I will fly them on personal trips yet, but they are slowly getting there. I've got a trip to D.C. in late June so we'll see if they fall back to their "bad" ways! I got home just in time to see my little girl's gymnastics performance which we followed up with a trip to Capers Restaurant in West Little Rock. Now this restaurant has been around quite awhile and all of the lunches I've had have been rock solid good. We decided to go there for appetizers and maybe a little more due to our lunch experiences, and to the fact that they have a nice outdoor patio to dine on. If I hadn't known better I would have sworn that this was their first week in business. We ordered a couple of glasses of wine, which I'll get to in a minute, and a cheese appetizer. All of that was delivered promptly and was quite tasty. Following that we placed an order for a kid's plate of fried shrimp which my little gymnast star had requested and a grouper special. The shrimp meal came out promptly but the grouper was another story. It was delivered approximately thirty minutes after my little gymnast had finished, yes, finished, her meal. At one point I thought our waitress must have quit and not told anyone she had a table on the patio. She finally showed up with a half-hearted apology. I will say this. The entree was very hot so maybe the problem was in the kitchen but an occasional update would have been nice. It will be a while before I try dinner at Capers again. On to the review!
The glass of 2005 Le Grand Pinot Noir was served at which time I noticed a medium garnet color, not as thin as some pinot I've had of late, but not as thick as others. On the nose I picked up lots of cherry flavors while in the mouth I noticed some blackberry, currant, medium-oak spices and a light tannin. Overall a decent wine for the $7/glass restaurant cost I paid. I gave this one 3 Corkscrews based on value and drinkability. Try a glass, or a bottle, and let me know what you think. Stay away from Capers for dinner if you're ever in the Rock, at least until they get the kitchen problem figured out. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

APRIL 2007 REVIEWS RECAP



Reds
None

Whites
2005 Domaine Alfred Pinot Gris



Reds
2004 Big House Red
2004 Greg Norman Santa Barbara California Estates Pinot Noir

Whites
2004 Esser Vineyards Chardonnay
2004 Five Rivers Chardonnay
2005 Virgin Vines Chardonnay
2005 Montevina Pinot Grigio
2005 Luna Di Luna Pinot Grigio
2004 Greg Norman Santa Barbara California Estates Chardonnay




Reds
None


Whites
2004 Guenoc Chardonnay
2005 Montevina Sauvignon Blanc
2005 Tolosa Chardonnay
2004 Cheateau Potelle Sauvignon Blanc
2005 Bogle Chardonnay
2004 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay
2005 Sterling Vineyards Napa Valley Chardonnay
2005 Tamas Estates Pinot Grigio






Reds
2004 Mark West Pinot Noir


Whites
2006 Sebeka Sauvignon Blanc
2004 Angeline Chardonnay
2005 Candoni Organic Pinot Grigio

2002 OBERON CABERNET SAUVIGNON



Wednesday, 5/16, San Francisco, CA Part II
The La Crema was so good that I had to have another glass of something. Being adventurous I scoured the wine list and noticed the 2002 Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Not being familiar with this wine at all, I had to give it a try. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. When my waiter served it, I swirled for a minute and then tried to smell what aromas might be present. To my surprise, and somewhat shock, I couldn't pick up any nose and if I did pick up anything, it was of some type of unidentified, unpleasant odor. I thought to myself that the Grand Hyatt had placed another bad wine on their list! Of course, I was wrong! When I tasted this cab, I was treated to lots of ripe fruit, cherry, raspberry, oak, spices and a soft, soft tannin. Great finish with the aforementioned fruit staying on my tongue to remind me how good this glass was. I paid $13/glass for this, as well as the La Crema that I reviewed, but it was well worth it. I gave this one 4 Corkscrews and am hopeful that it is available in Arkansas as I will be looking for it when I return home. Many of you may be familiar with this wine but if not, go out and find some as you will not be disappointed. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


2005 LA CREMA PINOT NOIR



Wednesday, 5/16, San Francisco, CA
You're seeing a first, I think, today. A real-time posting and a double review as I had two really good wines that I just had to write about. I started out my day with a breakfast meeting at Starbucks on Stockton and started my evening with a meeting at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. As soon as I walked into the lobby I noticed a table set up where the attendant promptly asked if I would like a glass of wine. Realizing that this was part of their happy hour service, and free at that, I quickly answered yes and was treated to a glass of Rex Goliath Chardonnay. No review on that wine as I didn't take the time to analyze it during my meeting. It was just another beverage today.
After my meeting I headed out towards Union Square and came across a non-descript Thai restaurant. Not having any Thai food since moving to Arkansas, do we even have Thai restaurants, I promptly got a seat and proceeded to enjoy a nice dish of Pad Ki Maw. I'm sure that's not how you spell it but you get the idea. After that delicious, inexpensive meal, I returned to my hotel and up to the Grandviews Lounge on the 36th floor. I lucked out and had a seat right next to the window with the excellent view I mentioned yesterday. One thing I failed to mention is that you can also see the TransAmerica building as well as two buildings that have these huge, American flags, flapping in the wind, that are lit up at night. Very nice. I ordered the 2005 La Crema Pinot Noir as I've always liked the wines from La Crema and felt that I had a good chance of receiving a good glass of wine. Needless to say the Grand Hyatt has redeemed itself. This wine was full of cherry, plum and nutmeg aromas which were followed up with cherry and strawberry flavors in the mouth. A touch of oak and a nice, cool, smooth finish, made for a great glass of wine. I gave $13/glass, San Francisco hotel prices you know, so I'm not sure what this retails for. I'm guessing $18-20 but that's only a guess. I will say that I didn't feel bad paying the $13 and easily gave this one 4 Corkscrews. It could have very easily rated 5 Corkscrews had I had a little company to enjoy it with, namely #1, but alas I'm all alone in the big city. Great wine, highly recommended! I was on a roll so I ordered a follow-up glass of a heavier wine with my review of that to follow. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

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