Wed., 6/27, Little Rock, AR and Washington, DC
Well it's back to D.C. today for a meeting on Thursday and return on Friday. I met a couple of friends for dinner, whom I worked with in Chicago, and now live up here. As I'm staying in Old Town Alexandria, they hopped on the Metro and we met at my hotel, Embassy Suites. After a free glass of pedestrian wine, we headed out to Vermilion Restaurant. I had a decent salad, billed as the Butter Crunch, followed by the 3 Pork Dinner entree. Both decent dishes that were accompanied by a 2005 Silverwing Chardonnay out of Australia. Very golden in color with lots of floral aromas on the nose. On the palate very fruit forward with oak tones and a smooth finish. This wine is billed as an "Unwooded" chardonnay but I still picked up traces of oak. I gave this one 3 Corkscrews due to good taste and decent value for a restaurant wine. No bottle art as I was unable to find any information on this vineyard. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!



I received a boxed Vinturi, by Rio Sabadicci, from the inventor about two weeks ago. In an earlier posting I had mentioned that I'd like to try it, I was somewhat skeptical of its claims, and provide an honest review, good or bad. With one in, I was given that chance. My initial impression out of the box was that I loved the design! Sleek and elegant looking with raised lettering and a black band for gripping, makes this wine accessory look like an item from one of the Museum's of Contemporary Art. It comes with a black, velvet-like, cloth bag to store the Vinturi in and a stand for displaying in your cellar or on your counter when you're not traveling with it. I thought to myself that if it worked as good as it looked, I was really going to like it. I decided to test it with ten, long-time, vinophiles. I didn't tell them that I was conducting a review so that I would get good, honest feedback. We tried six different reds, some cabernets and some pinot noirs, all from different vineyards and at different price points. Each wine was tried with and without the Vinturi. To a person, men and women both, it was agreed that this sleek little piece of art, made a world of difference in taste! The aroma and flavor of each wine was exceptionally better when poured through the Vinturi first. Since it worked so well with reds we had to try whites as well. We tried chardonnays, sauvignon blancs and pinot gris, and noticed that they were also much more aromatic and flavorful. There really is something to this whole aeration thing! I can honestly say that I will not drink a wine at home that hasn't been through the Vinturi from now on. It's my understanding that more and more tasting rooms are using the Vinturi and once you try it yourself, you'll know why. If you want one of your very own, please visit their website at http://www.vinturi.com/. I don't get a commission or finders fee on any purchase what so ever. I just really like this product and think it's a great addition to the world of wine. I liked it so much that I've added a "Must Have Accessories" section and listed it as the first item. Try this, you'll thank me! Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine Poured Through the Vinturi!


Tuesday, 6/19, Las Vegas, NV
Final day in Vegas! We started our day at Riva Poolside overlooking, appropriately, The Venetian pool. #1 ordered the salmon pizza scramble while I went for the omelette filled with all kinds of good stuff. Both were extremely tasty! One word of caution, however, pick one or the other and share. Both offered huge portions, neither of which we could finish. If I had a do over we would have split the salmon dish. Light, chewy flat bread, topped with a dill cream sauce, thinly-sliced, smoked salmon, and scrambled eggs. I'm salivating as I write this! A day of shopping, yes shopping, was followed up with drinks by the pool and a later, light appetizer dinner at Tao Asian Bistro which is a really "happening" place. Great light steamed dumplings and a little sushi made for a great stop here. Try it out next time in Vegas. After we finished here we headed back to Pinot Brasserie where we had the cheese plate and cabernet sauvignon from the night before. More of the same tonight! #1 headed back to the room and then I stayed in the casino for what turned out to be a losing night. My problem was that I hit the blackjack table after poker and promptly gave all my poker winnings back to The Venetian. Nothing but Texas Hold 'Em for me from here on out. A great trip none the less! Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine, Stay Away from the Casino Table Games!



Monday, 6/18, Sin City, NV
#1 and I, having left the kids with the grandparents in Arkansas, slept in until about 8:30 a.m. this morning. We finally crawled out of bed and 30 minutes or so later, headed down to the Canyon Ranch Spa Cafe located on the 4th floor of The Venetian. We both had a very enjoyable, and healthy, breakfast then it was to the spa for #1 and to the Venetian Poker Room for me. We agreed to meet back at the room around 1:00 p.m. and, after 3 hours of Texas Hold 'Em $8-16 action, I headed to the room up a grand total of $20. A day of shopping by #1, and more card action for me, allowed for a most enjoyable day.
Our night started with a short walk to The Mirage where we saw Cirque du Soleil's presentation of Love which is based on the music of the Beatles. A very good performance although I have to say that there was a whole lot of dancing by the performers and not as much acrobatics as I've seen in their other shows. My first exposure to Cirque was Mystere which I still count as my favorite. After the performance it was of to Pinot Brasserie where we had a delightful cheese plate and 1/2 dozen raw oysters. Unfortunately 2 of the 6 were bad, bad, bad. It's gotten to the point where I'm going to quit eating raw oysters. With the cheese we ordered a glass of 04 Moon Mountain Chardonnay by Chalone Vineyards. This vineyard seems to be everywhere in Vegas. This was a typical California chard with lots of fruit and oak. Very flavorful and well balanced but nothing really extraordinary. I gave it 3 Corkscrews based on good taste and what I suspect is a decent retail price. We paid $8/glass so it is a little hard to say that it was a good value at that price. We followed the chardonnay with an 05 Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon. This was a really good wine! Full of strawberry and cherry flavors, very little tannin noted and a smooth finish. This was Pinot's house cabernet and a great bargain at $8/glass. I'm sure it is very affordable at retail and I will definitely be picking some up. I gave this one 4 Corkscrews based on excellent taste and value. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine and Always Split Aces!


Sunday, 6/17, Las Vegas, NV
We were wheels up at 4:45 p.m. enroute to Las Vegas for a little belated birthday celebration for #1 and a timely happy father's day for moi! As usual Southwest had us there early and by 7:00 p.m. we were checking in at The Venetian. Now I've been going to Vegas for about 16 years and The Venetian has vaulted to the top of my favorite hotel in Vegas list, strip location or otherwise. And I've stayed at just about all of them, including all of the well known resorts. The Venetian is just pure class with huge, extremely comfortable rooms, three flat screen LCD televisions and beds that you damn near don't want to get out of. After #1 and I freshened up a little, we headed out to one of the restaurants in the Grand Canal Shoppes attached to the resort. We chose Wolfgang Puck's Postrio and were seated out in the courtyard where we could do a little people watching and listen to a trio that were performing on the mall. Neither of us being extremely hungry, we decided to split the lobster club that Puck is famous for. Believe me, he should be. That is one great sandwich, loaded with lobster, apple wood bacon and a tasty sauce. We ordered a glass of the 2005 Chalone Chardonnay to accompany our sandwich and the salad we also split. I wasn't familiar with this vineyard but enjoyed the glass. Very fruity with just the right amount of spice, a little oak, balanced acidity and a great finish. A little pricey, $9/glass, but it was on the lower end of the wine list and Vegas can be expensive at times so you come to expect it. I gave it 3 Corkscrews for good taste and what I suspect would be a good value in a retail store. Tomorrow more about the Vegas trip and this weekend a review of the Vinturi I tested. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


Sunday, 6/17, Little Rock, AR & VEGAS
Just a short post to wish all a Happy Father's Day and to say that I won't be posting any reviews until Thursday or so of this week. #1 and I are headed to Vegas for a little fun in the sun, some fine dining, a little card playing and whatever else we decide to do. I'll post reviews of any interesting wines we try out there when we return. I've also got several interesting articles I've come across of late that I want to share. I received a Vinturi last week and after some exhaustive research over the last few nights I'll be ready to post a full review of it. I think you'll want to read about it. We're off to the city that never sleeps. Wish me luck! Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine & Protect Pocket Aces!


Thurs.-Fri., 6/14-15, Little Rock, AR
Thursday night saw our final little league game of the spring season. Of course being that it was the final game of the year, all of the kids played like they were possessed. Everybody was killing the ball and we were turning double plays all over the place. On Friday my little girl had her final soccer game of the season and she was all over the field, also playing like she was possessed. Maybe it was the SoBe? Great times with the kids! #1 picked up today's reviewed wine, the 2005 Cheateau St. Jean Fume Blanc and paid $10.99/bottle. Now this is the first Fume Blanc that I've reviewed although in past years we've really enjoyed Fume Blanc. I think it just got to the point where I wasn't seeing a lot of it on the market and that still seems to be the case. This wine had a medium gold color with aromas of grass, melon and citrus. On the palate I noted flavors of vanilla, fig and grapefruit with very balanced acidity and a nice finish. I only gave this one 3 Corkscrews as it had a little too much "sweetness" factor for me and I didn't see a great value at the price we paid. Not a bad wine, just nothing to get too excited about. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


Tues-Wed, 6/11-12, Little Rock, AR
I bought this with some trepidation as I had tried their Chardonnay offering and was very disappointed which my review revealed. At $13.76/bottle I had to give the 2005 Angeline Pinot Noir from Mendocino County a try. If you read my reviews in the past you know that I'm always on the prowl for a Pinot Noir under $20 that is actually drinkable. I've had some success in finding a few but have been disappointed in several under the $20 price point. #1 and I reviewed this over a two-day period as it presented itself so well on day 1 and I wanted to see if it would be as good the second day. It was! When I poured this one I was greeted with a mid-to-dark, ruby red colored wine in the glass. Not so dark that it reminded me of a cabernet, in fact, if you looked into the glass from the top you could see your hand holding the stem. Nice color none the less. Aromas of blueberry and strawberry, as well as a slight hint of vanilla, greeted my nose. Once I tasted this one I found a little bit of raspberry, more of the blueberry with maybe a little hint of black currant, and a nice mix of oak. The tannin was almost non-existent which is the way I like it and the finish was perfect. This Pinot is a blend of 88% Pinot, 7% Syrah and 5% Merlot. Based on the excellent flavor and value, I gave this one 4Corkscrews. Almost 5Corkscrew-worthy but a wine really needs to have a little something "extra", that is hard to explain, to receive 5. Great wine, however, at a great price point. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


Monday, 6/10, Little Rock, AR
I don't know why but articles about wine and counterfeiting always grab my interest. An article by Michelle Locke of the AP ran in our local paper today about that very subject. Ann Colgin, of Colgin Cellars, was referenced as having recently inked a deal with Eastman Kodak to employ invisible markers on her product. Her wines sell for hundreds of dollars a bottle at auction, which explains why I haven't heard of, nor tried, their wines. Some of the other high-tech, anti-fraud measures discussed in the article included employing tamper proof seals, radio frequency identification (RFID) chips sunk into corks and the use of special ink that only shows up under special lighting. The Kodak technology used by Colgin and three other high-end, Napa wineries, involves putting proprietary markers into things such as inks, varnishes and paper that can only be detected by Kodak handheld readers. Jerome Zech, CEO of WineBid.com , which had $22.5 million in sales last year, doesn't think wine fraud is prevalent. He does say that with some high-end wines starting at $500 a bottle for pre-release prices, he's all for the move toward anti-counterfeiting measures. If anyone out there has tried Colgin Cellars, or any $500+ bottles of wine, please e-mail or post a comment and let me know how it was and if it was worth it. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


Sunday, 6/9, Little Rock, AR
Another "great find" with today's wine. A 2005 Stonehedge Chardonnay from Monterey which I picked up about a week ago on special at the Grapevine Wine & Liquor Store. Very knowledgeable staff makes this one of the better stores in the area. Upon uncorking and pouring this wine I noted a dark yellow-gold color in the stem with pear and citrus flavors on the nose. My first taste revealed lots of orange blossoms, honey and buttery flavors with an excellent finish. I thoroughly enjoyed this bottle of wine from start to finish and gave it 4 Corkscrews due to excellent taste and great value at $9.99/bottle. Try this one if you get a chance as I highly recommend it! Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


Saturday/Sun., 6/8-9, Little Rock, AR
We received today's featured wine as a gift for a little speaker wiring I did for a friend. A 2005 Schug Carneros Pinot Noir is the first I've tried from this winery. After I uncorked this one and allowed it to breathe for a while, I poured a glass and noted a blood red color, not too thick but not transparent either. On the nose I picked up a lot of blackberry and currant. In the mouth I noted strawberry, oak and spice. Very flavorful wine that, unfortunately, did not have the kind of finish I would have preferred. I think there was too much tannin leading to a slightly bitter finish. I gave this one 3 Corkscrews as it was not a bad one it just had too much tannin for my taste buds. As it was a gift I don't know how much this one costs at retail but do note that if you go to the Schug website they have it listed at $24.00/bottle. I wouldn't pay that much for this wine! Maybe $10-12 but no more. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

Fleetwood Mac - Gypsy

Fleetwood Mac - Gypsy - Original Video

Saturday, 6/9, Little Rock, AR

This has absolutely nothing to do with wine but I was feeling a little nostalgic and wanted to post this video where I could check it out every once in awhile. #1 and I were talking about a "theme" party we're going to in the fall and the "theme" is to come as your favorite rock star. Well, we got to talking and #1 decided to go as Stevie which led to my advice on which Stevie she should go as. By far this video sums up Stevie the best. Of course I'm dating myself now but what the hey! Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


Friday, 6/8, Little Rock, AR
Big times in Little Rock! After retrieving our nephew to babysit, #1 and I headed downtown to a great restaurant, Lulav, that occupies a great space and has some of the best food in town. This is the second time we've eaten there in a month and were just blown away with the quality of the appetizers and entrees. I'm afraid, however, that they may not be long for this market as the restaurant was less than a quarter full both times we dined and we went during prime time. The majority of downtown Little Rock is pretty dead after 5:00 p.m. and I'm afraid they may fall victim to that. I hope not as the chef there has got it going on! We dined on a first course of a variety of salads and then followed up with five different appetizers that were all out of this world and very unique in their preparation. We had the 2005 Beauzeaux Red with the appetizers and were pleased with it. On the nose lots of dark, cherry fruit. On the palate more of the cherry with a little bit of spice and an excellent finish. As we were dining with #1's aunt and uncle, they treated us so I'm not sure what this wine sells for at retail or in a restaurant setting. I gave it 3 Corkscrews due to good flavor and taste. After finishing our wine we headed to a showing of The Full Monty at The Arkansas Repertory Theatre. A good performance but as with all musicals about three quarters of the way through I found myself saying, "Another song"! The Rep has some good shows and plays and it's a good addition to the Little Rock cultural scene. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


Wednesday/Thursday, 6/6-7, Little Rock, AR
A two-day review of this one was required as I really didn't like it when I first opened it and wanted to give it a fair shake. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Muscat Canelli, this one smelled somewhat sweet when I opened it. On the nose I picked up a scent of sugared pears but mostly just sugar. On the palate more sugar, a little bit of grapefruit and just a hint of citrus. Very smooth on the finish. I paid $9.99/bottle for this and gave it 2 Corkscrews as I really didn't like this bottle. Great label, so-so wine! Of course I freely admit that I don't like a sweet wine and this one seemed to be dominated by the Muscat. If you're in to sweet, this may be for you. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


Tuesday, 6/5, Little Rock, AR
I know I wrote about the Art of Wine Festival in Fayetteville, Arkansas that is scheduled for this weekend just a few days ago, but wanted to point all of you towards a website that does it more justice than I did. Check out the Liquor World site here and then click on the PDF download of all the wines that will be available for tasting. By my count there are some 54 tables set up with some excellent vineyards represented. My main regret, once again, is that I will not be able to attend. I can promise that next year, and every year thereafter, I will be front row and center at the event. They also have some excellent sounding wine dinners planned with Jim Concannon and Anthony Bell, which will feature both of those winemakers offerings, paired with the appropriate course. Sounds like a really great time. If anyone out there is able to attend, please drop me a note and let me know if it turned out as great as it sounds. On the home front a new Rhettism was uttered from my six year old. As he and I were driving to his baseball game he asked me, and very indignant, "Why do I have to spend "my" whole life in Arkansas"? Now this is from a boy who spent the first 5 + years of his life in Illinois and who still considers himself a Chicagoan. I told him that he didn't have to spend "his" whole life in Arkansas and then asked him where he would rather live. He thought for a minute and then replied, "Maybe California". Now this sounded about right to me as he may be being pulled by the vineyards of Sonoma and Napa or, better yet, it could be Silicon Valley calling him as he is already a little genius with the computer. I've started calling him Bill Gates, Jr. at times as he is constantly selling playmates on the wonders of computer games and web sites. We'll see. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


Saturday, 6/2, Little Rock, AR
After a day of shuttling kids to various places, #1 and I had the good fortune to be invited to a Shiraz/Syrah tasting party. Attended by about 15 couples, as well as the host's extended family, lots of good food was laid out on several tables which we dug in to in preparation for the tasting. Each couple was advised to bring a bottle of Shiraz/Syrah, $9-$16, for the tasting. Only one person knew the identities of each bottle as they were all placed in brown paper bags with a different number on each. In all, 21 different bottles of wine were tasted. Of those 21, 2 bottles rose to the occasion and won this unscientific contest. The 2004 Black Opal Shiraz from Australia and the 2002 Tolosa Syrah from California. The Tolosa had a rich, ruby color, aromas of blackberry and cherry with tastes of blueberry and soft tannins. A smooth finish put this one in my Top 2. The Black Opal also had a rich, ruby color, with more strawberry on the nose and spiced cherry on the palate. Also a very smooth finish. One interesting thing about the Black Opal was that someone had brought a 2005 Black Opal Shiraz that did not compare to the 2004 and was, in fact, not even in the Top 15. It just shows that a year can make a whale of a difference in taste. The Black Opal was purchased for $11/bottle, while the Tolosa went at the higher end of the range at $16/bottle. #1 and I brought the Tolosa but had no idea how it tasted as we had never tried it. It came highly recommended by the retailer and I had enjoyed a Tolosa Chardonnay a few weeks ago so I thought I would give it a try. If you like Shiraz/Syrah, try both of these as 15 couples pretty much agreed that they carried the night. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!