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SOME CALIFORNICATION GOING ON: PREACHING THE GRAPE, PLUS CRAIG BECKER OF SOMERTON AND TRAMONTE NEWBIE LYNN MERRITT

SAM_1309

Funny how lately I feel as if I am some sort of besotted minister of the grape, spreading the gospel of the vine to the masses, each and every time new faces cross the threshold of this big-ass store. I mean no offense to any actual pastor, preacher, minister or other cleric – I am merely jesting when I get slightly evangelical with any Dionysian concerns. I merely love geeking out with new (and regular) customers.

Case in point, a couple fledgling winos dropped in towards the end of a store tasting the other night, and, eager to taste through the lineup, admitted freely they knew nothing of wine.

Sponges, I mused. Ready to soak up some nerdy wine speak!

I tried to squeeze in the basics, knowing that at any moment I risked reducing their young minds into meat porringers of pink tapioca – like the time I tried to teach a 45-minute class in college on Allen Ginsberg and the impact “Howl” and the subsequent Beat Generation had on the dynamics of poetry and literature had upon the future of American literature… – you see where I am going with this.

I have the propensity for overdoing it, despite the fact that I seem more often than not, introverted, unless speaking about subjects about which I am exorbitantly geeked-out.

I’m very fortunate I have a job where I can let my geek flag fly, and get paid for it. Not bad really. I am sure if I wasn’t doing this, I would be trying to figure out how to sell music in this digital age. Needless to say, I think I am on the right path.

Meanwhile, the newest Tramonte rep, Lynn Merritt, dropped in with winemaker Craig Becker to run through his Priest Ranch, Highflyer and Somerston wines.

Priest Ranch Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2012. Grade=Very Good. Very pretty lemon and lime notes, hints of melon, straw and wet stone, this subtle, elegant white wine is the perfect antithesis to the overblown “New Zealand” style inundating the market right now.

Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc Napa Valley 2012. Grade=CORKED!

Highflyer Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands 2010. Grade=Outstanding. Luxurious, rich version of Pinot Noir, with lush tannins, supple red cherry and raspberry notes, hints of baking spice, pepper and cocoa.

Highflyer Centerline California 2009. Grade=Outstanding. This dynamite red blend gives you that jammy “Orin Swift” style without the price tag, and without sacrifice substance. There is significant acidity amidst the panoramic notes of black fruits, chocolate, truffle, pepper and oak spices.

Priest Ranch Petite Sirah Napa Valley 2010. Grade=Outstanding+. Bold, dark fruit conjures up chocolate cake with blackberry compote, there is smoky oak, espresso, and roasted vanilla beans giving up a bounty of dense, concentrated richness throughout its presence on the palate.

Priest Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2011. Grade=Outstanding. Seemingly lean on the front, this full-bodied Cab encroaches with a false start of acidity before heading deep into multilayered black-fruited territory. Black pepper, cigar box, leather, sage and black currants abound.

Somerston Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2010. Grade=Amazing. More than just one-upping the Priest Ranch, this drives home just how good this Estate can be with its unctuous, decadent display of blackberry, black currant, dark plum, tobacco, mocha, espresso and black pepper notes. Phenomenal!

 

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I JUST CAN’T SEEM TO GET OFF THIS THING: MORE FROM MY MUCH-ABUSED SOAPBOX, PLUS LADY LINDA AND SOME TREASURES FROM THE WAGNER FAMILY (AND A FOLLOW-UP TO A TWITTER TASTING MISHAP)

SAM_1308 I’ve been trying to figure out a few things since taking over for the Superman of Wine & Spirits, Ken Lewis, stepped down to begin his venture as the owner of New Riff Distilling. The biggest, most problematic thing I have had to come to grips with is how to become more hard-nosed, less “Mr. Nice Guy.” Down the street at Mordor, I tried to be the easiest guy in the business (insert various dirty jokes here). Just give me the information and I am golden. If the deal sounds (and is) really good, and I can pass the savings on to my customers, hit me please. Here at the Party Source, in the age of budgetary constraints, I have to be a helluva lot shrewder, more selective. Line extensions no more. Pass on some deals, go big on others. Be selective. In today’s realm of wine and spirits here in the Tri-State, it is one precarious tightrope I am walking, and at times, I feel naked and weighted down with Chevy trucks loaded up with dog doo. Why am I tipping my hand? I am not really. Yet in building customer trust, one thing I have learned is not to bullshit, be forthright and honest about all that I do. My endeavors here at TPS are to bring our customers the best prices, and the best products, along with the best service we can muster. No one is perfect, and sometimes, you can price something so low it is suddenly a closeout, and will never ever be perceived otherwise. Brand killing. It’s something that was (and is still) done exceptionally well down at Mordor. So here I am, walking that fine line, trying to come in under budget and still delivering the goods, so to speak. It’s a new foray for me. Down the street, it was buy the deal, and damn the budget – although I’d get a huge reaming concerning the budget at the end of the year. Yet I managed to help double the wine sales of that place over the course of a decade. Not bad for what was once only concerned a discount headquarters. Anyway, Linda Hazelbaker, the on-premise sorceress for SWS/Crane known here as Lady Linda, dropped in with new stuff from the folks at the Wagner Family, including the Caymus 40th Anniversary Cab: Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2012. Grade=Very Good. Loads of lemon and lime, hints of lemongrass, wet stones and fresh-cut straw. Conundrum White California 2013. Grade=Very Good. Less perfumy and sweet than years past, much more balanced. Bright white peach and tangerine notes with hints of mineral. Mer Soleil Chardonnay Reserve Central Coast 2012. Grade=Very Good. Brilliant, full-bodied white with baked apples, pears and hints of tangerine. A touch of vanilla and caramel at the finish. Belle Glos Pinot Noir Clark & Telephone 2013. Grade=Outstanding. This my friends is seriously young. Juicy and jammy, it’s like that unruly child you were stuck babysitting as a kid, the one that tore up shit, made a mess of the kitchen, and had a couple accidents in the bathroom (that missed the toilet but hit everything else). Lay this down and let it mature. Please. Conundrum Red California 2012. Grade=Very Good. This secretive blend is medium-bodied, zesty and spicy with red currant, plum and cocoa notes. Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 40th Anniversary 2012. Grade=Amazing. Well-executed, this full-bodied rock star is the best I’ve had in a long time, with its almost meaty, black-fruited delivery, showing chocolate, cedar, tobacco, leather, mineral, pepper and cigar box notes. I was supposed to taste this as part of a live Twitter tasting last weekend – #Caymus40anniv – yet ended up in the ER due to getting old and being unbelievably out-of-shape. My apologized to Mike Wangbickler and Balzac Communications for that one.

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WHERE ARE YOUR MANNERS?: A BRIEF DISCOURSE ON COMMON COURTESY IN THE AGE OF TECHNOLOGY, PLUS KYMBER TYMBER’S FIVE FOR IMBIBING

SAM_1307

Manners. It seems to be something that has suffered greatly in our fine age of technology. And it’s never so evident as it is in the realm of the service industry. In our pursuit of being more and more connected with whatever the hell it is we are doing and what everyone else is doing, we forget about what we are ACTUALLY doing in the real world.

Case in point, my mom works for a grocer as a cashier and because of my job, we often find ourselves discussion our various customers and their uh, idiosyncrasies.

Her biggest pet peeve, and I totally get behind this, is when people come through her line, deep in conversation on their cell phone, or texting on their cell phone, and they act as if she isn’t even there, as if they totally expect her to read their minds and ring them out quickly and without any sort of question. Which is fine, expect there are the obvious questions like, “paper or plastic” and “do you have a (insert grocery) card?”

You can moan and groan about the loss of courtesy and respect here, or claim these things are far too trivial to point out, but these are people working for you, trying to make your life a little easier by getting you through the line as quickly and painlessly as possible. The least you can do is put down the phone and say “hi,” “please,” and “thank you” before returning to your phone call or texting. Why is that so difficult? And why do you get upset when they are simply trying to do their job?

I love my job I tell my mom, because I get to deal with folks at their most jovial. How can you be in a bad mood when you are buying wine? Believe me, I have seen it happen. Yet I have also been in my mom’s shoes, and it can be pretty exasperating and quite soul-draining to have people snipe and berate you because you weren’t expedient enough, or didn’t read their mind, or put their milk in a bag or whatever.

The customer is always right, yet I feel like if the customer is a jackass, then management should have their employee’s back and let the customer know rudeness won’t be tolerated. Maybe cashiers should just stop when a customer comes through their line and is unwilling to put down the phone. Stop and wait for the customer to finish their conversation. The folks behind said customer will really appreciate that, yet maybe that will be what it takes to restore common courtesy.

Soapbox, dismount.

Kymber Tymber happened by with some old favorites from Domaine de Nizas, as well as a couple of new wines from South Africa.

Protea Chenin Blanc Coastal Region 2013. Grade=Very Good. Delicious, light-to-medium bodied white with hints of white spices, apples, melon and mineral.

Domaine de Nizas Coteaux du Languedoc Rosé 2013. Grade=Very Good. Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. Stunning! Bright red cherry and cranberry notes, with touches of mineral, dried herbs and red plum skin.

Protea Red Wine Western Cape 2012. Grade=Very Good. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Earthy, dark and rich with black fruits, cedar smoke, peat, tobacco and bitter chocolate.

Le Mazet de Salleles Cabernet-Syrah VDP 2010. Grade=Outstanding. What a surprise! Big, bold, jammy black and red fruits, cigar box, mocha, black truffle, mint, black pepper and espresso notes. A lot of wine in there for not a lot of money.

Domaine de Nizas Coteaux du Languedoc Rouge 2008. Grade=Outstanding. Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. Always a big mouthful of wine, this dark and brooding number still his the depth and grip to give you a full-bodied ride across the palate. Meaty black fruits, black pepper and oak spices.

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UPON MY SOAPBOX ONE MORE TIME: RANTING ABOUT WHOLESALERS, PLUS KYMBER TYMBER AND THE DAYTONIAN DUO WITH SOME DELICIOUS FRENCH WINES FROM FRANCOIS LURTON

SAM_1306

Sometimes I am blown away by the impression I get from some distributors. Certainly, the arcane way wine is distributed in this country is a topic unto itself, yet in the current reality, we have to play the hand that we’re dealt, and the larger distributors have a way of dealing with their customers that is, uh, well, curious.

Take the simple act of representation. You would think that a company is going to offer you the best service they can, providing you with an exceptional salesperson, offering you the best prices they can, and the best service they can, 24/7. Well, as with any industry whose business is insulated by protectionist-leaning practices (sorry guys, call ‘em like I see ‘em), the industry’s customer service relations tend to be shoddy more times than not. The impression you are left with as a retailer is, “you’re stuck with us, so lay down and take it.”

I am not saying that all of our wholesalers give us the ol’ latex fist every time. Not at all. I think overall, we’ve a great relationship with all our suppliers. Yet there is a culture of bureaucracy that makes good customer service problematic.

Currently, we have somewhere around 15 distributors – not a lot really – yet two of those distributors, Southern Wine & Spirits and Republic-National, have multiple divisions, hence multiple reps. I have mentioned them before, primarily for the aforementioned culture of bureaucracy that can and often does impede business rather than promote it.

Granted, there are many laws in place that too make things more than difficult. Laws meant to prevent bootlegging and other improprieties that are more of a long-begotten era than today (though some of that shit still goes on, especially in Southern Kentucky, where it’s dry). Whatever the impediment, the system is severely convoluted and in dire need of a revolution of ideas, though I’ll be dead before that ever happens.

I could rant all day about the big distributors’ issues. These are businesses, meant to service the retailers, that’s it. That’s the goal of their business – to provide product for retailers; part of the definition of the three-tier system – the dinosaur of business models. It’s something we are stuck with for now, and we should try to coexist to maximize everyone’s bottom lines. Yet too often, the middle tier (wholesalers) become more obsessed with being obstructionists than conduits. Roadblocks all the time, whether its price “holding” or sampling, retailers entering the internet shipping market, control of particular brands and markets, yada yada yada.

It gets pretty ridiculous at times.

I am not too demanding of my reps. I just want the current price sheet, an update on new product, and all that in a timely fashion. Some suppliers think we don’t need that stuff. Some suppliers won’t give you that stuff. And they wonder why they are down from the year before.

Anyway, a couple of cool Daytonians – Allen Todd and Nathan Livingston from 4Front Imports – dropped in with Kymber Tymber to try some French wines from Francois Lurton:

MJ Janeil Gros Manseng Sauvignon Blanc Cote de Gascogne 2012. Grade=Very Good. Crisp, clean white wine blend, tart grapefruit, lemon and lime notes with undertones of mineral, fennel and melon.

MJ Janeil Rosé of Syrah VDP 2012. Grade=Very Good. Tart strawberry and cherry notes, dry with refreshing acidity.

MJ Janeil Merlot VDP 2012. Grade=Very Good. Blueberry fruits both in the nose and on the palate, with dried herbs, pepper, mineral and smoke.

MJ Janeil Cabernet Sauvignon VDP 2012. Grade=Very Good. Robust, juicy red. Medium-bodied with black and red berry fruit, dark spices, mineral and smoke.

Cuvee des Abrigans des Erles Fitou 2011. Grade=Outstanding+. Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. Beautifully made red. Dark cherries, plums, cocoa, vanilla, and limestone notes.

Cuvee des Ardoises Chateau des Erles Fitou 2010. Grade=Amazing. Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. Richer and more robust than the Abrigans, this beauty sees 12 months in French barrels (50% of that new), lending decadent hints of oak spices, chocolate and vanilla to the mix. Remarkable value.

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WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE?: K2′S SOMEWHAT ANNUAL RANT ABOUT LINE EXTENSIONS, PLUS LA CHICA LOCA, DR. GONZO AND THE CONSTELLATION ORCHESTRA DROP IN WITH A NEW WINE FROM WILD HORSE

2014-06-04 13.17.07 2014-06-04 13.16.58

One of the biggest complaints I have with the supply side of the industry is line extensions. Line extensions are a brand not being content with doing one or a few things very well – like Michael Honig over at Honig Winery, who pretty much does Cab and Sauv Blanc, and does them exceptionally well. Go for what you know, the gospel according to Pat Travers – no, no, I’m talking about brands like Coppola, Gallo, etc., etc., and let’s do a Tempranillo, let’s do a Pink Moscato, a Red Moscato, a Rich Red AND a Meritage…

Dilute the brand for the sake of market dominance does not a good strategy make in the Big Picture view of things, let me tell you. I am constantly approached with, “hey, so and so vineyards put out a new Grk from California (it’s a grape variety from Croatia, look it up) and we’d like to get a placement on it…” Uh, yeah, just let me get my shoehorn and find ya some room for it, in our clearance aisle perhaps… that will save the time of moving it.”

For the most part, coming back to the real world, I’ve been pretty easy and have let the cavalcade of line extensions just roll in. But the days of being brand dominated on the shelves are long gone. Hell, Gallo even realizes this, becoming an importer and capturing brands like Martin Codax, Whitehaven, Louis M. Martini, Allegrini and Las Rocas de San Alejandro.

There is something akin to 300,000 different SKUs in the wine world, all jockeying for a spot on every wine store’s shelves. Buyers have to be increasingly vigilant in stemming the tide of line extensions, and choose wisely. I for one would love to see a store that carries every brand on the market, because that would be one big fucking store. I am not opposed to a producer branching out, but when you have 3 different tiers each within a buck or two of each other, what’s the point? Ultimately you are just cannibalizing yourself. Put out a few kick ass wines and you will most likely sell just as many wines as 50 mediocre SKUs.

Meanwhile, the folks from Constellation dropped by for a little meeting with La Chica Loca and Dr. Gonzo brandishing a little rarity from Wild Horse – the new Wild Horse GSM Monterey County 2012 (Grade=Outstanding). Pretty juicy with tasty black cherry and red currant notes, spicy pepper, cumin and dried herbs. Definitely a crowdpleaser, with the dominant grape being Syrah. Quite limited, this will probably clock in on our shelves around $18, $19.

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KICKING THE WHITE KNUCKLE HABIT: GLIMPSING THE SUN, PLUS SHO’NUFF AND TWO ROCK STARS FROM NAPA VALLEY

SAM_1304

I’ve been a bit shortwinded as of late. Not a lot of bedazzling prose rattling around in the ol’ noggin’ of mine. Everything has been a bit of a haze lately. Kind of stuck in a loop of deja-vu all over again. While I am not about to pontificate on my dirty laundry, I will say there are strange new frontiers ahead, and that I feel as if I had been in the trenches, fighting my way above the wall, finding the will to scale it and pull myself out of the mud once and for all.  (Excuse the melodrama… just taking my vocabulary out for a walk, giving it some exercise…)

I am reaching for my voice. My voice. It’s funny how I haven’t thought of it in such an assertive way until very recently. I am reaching for my dream, my vision, myself. Who have I been? What have I been? To my loved ones, to my friends, to my colleagues… what is it that I have been for such a long time?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I am very blessed to have family and friends who care about me, and a career that makes me happy, leaves me fulfilled. I am not directionless. I am not peering over the edge and staring at the roiling oblivion of Hell I had once before in my life. This time, there is no down. There is only onward.

Leaping from some existentionalism to wine, Sho’nuff dropped in with two incredible Napa Valley wines from Lail:

Lail Blueprint Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2012. Grade=Outstanding. Beautifully-crafted, light-bodied white, with a really cool hint of grape skin in the nose, and revealing gooseberry, lemongrass, cilantro, tomatillo and lemon notes across the palate. Delicious.

Lail Blueprint Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2011. Grade=Outstanding. Firm, assertive tannins greet you at the threshold, with their friends blackberry, black pepper, sage, cedar, tobacco and cocoa. A terrific amount of bang-for-yer-buck.

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THE FINE ART OF A QUICKIE IS TO LEAVE LIKE YOU WERE NEVER EVEN THERE: BROTHER LOU AND BROTHER PAUL VS. K2′S ELECTRIC BOOGALOO, PLUS A THREESOME FROM SIMONSIG

2014-05-29 16.12.08

I’ve been anxiously waiting for my compadre-in-wine, Mr. Jay Zee, to chronicle his voyages to South Africa and its historic wine country for a few months now. The man has got a lot to tell us all. And while I, and my Party Source brethren await his tale, we recently checked out a couple of wines from Simonsig, courtesy of my brother Paul Criger and of course, Brother Lou – the man, myth and legend.

Simonsig Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2012. Grade=Very Good. Bright, almost-steely delivery of melon, pear and hints of lanolin and limer.

Simonsig Brut Rosé South Africa 2012. Grade=Very Good. Really pretty nose. Bright cherry and red raspberry mousse, a touch of blanched almond, mint and mineral.

Simonsig Pinotage Stellenbosch 2010. Grade=Okay. A bit tired. There is a dominating note of dragster tire burn, though the dark plum and black cherry is still there somewhere, amidst a jungle of smoke and earth.

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AND YOU’RE BACK, YOU’RE BACK FOR MORE: SWS’ MAMA JESSE AND AVENIU BRANDS’ TOM DEMPSEY VS. K2 AND THE GET FRESH CRU

2014-05-22 11.51.11

As a bit of a follow-up to our little gangsta-trip to Chicago a few weeks ago, Mama Jesse dropped in with Aveniu Brands regional manager, Tom Dempsey. While a bit of a refresher for me, the crew got to try some of the great things Aveniu has to offer:

Anna de Codorniu Brut Cava NV. Grade=Very Good. A tasty, refreshing Cava, full of green apple mousse, lemon zest and a hint of mineral.

Anna de Codorniu Brut Rosé Cava NV. Grade=Very Good. Light strawberry, watermelon and red apple skin mousse. Light, dry and very pretty.

Piccini Memoro Bianco Italia NV. Grade=Very Good. Vermentino, Chardonnay, Viognier and Pecorino. Flavorful, fruity and lively on the palate, there is a veritable fruit salad going on here. Dry, light and refreshing.

Artesa Chardonnay Carneros 2012. Grade=Outstanding. Rich, full-bodied Chardonnay, creamy vanilla mingling with baked apple and apricot notes, hints of caramel, toffee and buttered popcorn.

Piccini Memoro Rosso Italia NV. Grade=Very Good. Primitivo, Montepulciano, Nero d’Avola and Merlot. Juicy, fruity and fun, this light-to-medium-bodied red is easy-on-the-palate and on the wallet. Perfect for Monday night cuisine.

Artesa Pinot Noir Carneros 2011. Grade=Outstanding. Beautifully-made red with light baking spices amidst red and black cherries, black pepper, dried leaves and dusty minerals.

Septima Malbec Mendoza 2012.  Grade=Very Good.  Juicy blueberry, smoky plum, earthy pepper and tobacco smoke.

James Mitchell Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi 2011. Grade=Very Good. A bit of bell pepper and dill mixing it up with blackberry and blueberry fruits, light-roast coffee, bitter chocolate and tobacco.

Elements Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2011. Grade=Very Good. More juicy fruit aromas and flavors than the Mr. Mitchell, there is more to its body and weight as well.

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SOMETHING OLD AND SOMETHING NEW: DROPPING IN ON DICK’S LAST RESORT IN NEWPORT, PLUS BROTHER LOU BRINGS THE JACKSON FAMILY NOISE

2014-05-21 16.05.10

I went into a restaurant that was like a blast from the past earlier today – Dick’s Last Resort. Recently, one of my most favorite restaurant work experiences ever, the company behind Dick’s Last Resort opened up a new location just down the street from where I work. For those of you following along at home, I was part of the opening crew for the Dick’s Last Resort location in Myrtle Beach back in 1991 (or was it 1992?).

Along with my guitar player, Scott “Mo-ney-Mo-ney” Moniz, we moonlighted as bussers during the days while we played rock ‘n’ roll as 2/5’s of Perfect Tommy at night. For about two years, I worked there during my tenure in both Perfect Tommy and my following band, StepChild, met a lot of great people along the way, and had some of the most ridiculous experiences ever in the restaurant biz. For those of you who have never experienced Dick’s – everyone is surly to you, rude even. The least PC establishment you could go to without the employees being dressed in white robes or wearing Tea Party paraphernalia.

Flash forward to now, not much has changed at DLR, except maybe they’re less abusive, and the food is much better. Nestled in the street side corner of Newport On The Levee, right on the south bank of the Ohio River, it may very well become my new haunt. My bartender, Cari, was pretty cool, as we swapped Dick’s stories old and new.

It’s good to get out once in a while, and it’s good to hang with new friends in old familiar places.

Meanwhile, behind our Bār, Brother Lou dropped in on the Grand Crue for a little bit of Jackson Family action:

Benvolio Pinot Grigio Friuli 2013. Grade=Very Good. Lemons, limes and a bit of cucumber rind in this better-than-average PG from the Friuli region of Italy. Nicely done.

La Crema Pinot Gris Monterey 2013. Grade=Very Good. Definitely a step above and beyond ye ole lemon water most PGs aspire to, this beautifully-made, well-balanced white gives you hints of lime zest, honeydew and persimmon with just a touch of creamy mineral.

Silver Palm Chardonnay North Coast 2012. Grade=Very Good. There is always that bit of cringe I get when tasting California Chardonnay; I am always afraid it’s going to be a butterbomb. This one, not so much. Great style, light on the richness, with bright lemon and apple notes, hints of vanilla and toffee, and just a touch of oak.

Kendall-Jackson Jackson Estates Chardonnay Camelot Highlands Santa Maria Valley 2012. Grade=Amazing. There is richness here without being too slutty. Caramel apples, lemon custard and vanilla cream swirling around with fresh pear, apricot and tangerine.

Benvolio Rosso Toscano IGT 2011. Grade=Very Good. A juicy red blend of Sangiovese and Merlot, this medium-bodied red is perfect for just serving alongside burgers or chops off the grill.

Kendall-Jackson Jackson Estates Pinot Noir Outland Ridge Anderson Valley 2012. Grade=Outstanding. Stunning red, medium-bodied with tart cherries, mulberries, black tea, peppercorns, mushrooms and truffle shavings. Exquisite.

Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast 2011. Grade=Outstanding. A full-bodied, fruit-forward Cab, with juicy notes of black fruits, tobacco, black pepper and mocha.

Kendall-Jackson Jackson Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Hawkeye Vineyard Alexander Valley 2010. Grade=Outstanding. A towering, epic Cabernet Sauvignon from the Mayacamas Mountains. Bold blackberry fruit, rich chocolate and baking spices, hints of cigar box, graphite and sage, and finishing with notes of cedar char and oak spices.

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C’EST LA VIE AND IRISH T: GOING INTERNATIONAL ALL OVER AGAIN WITH EIGHT WINES FROM VINEYARD BRANDS

SAM_1300

Where has the year gone? 2014 almost halfway over. At least we’ve abdicated the cold-as-Hell winter for a more temperate climate. Sometimes though, it can feel like a jip with bright shiny days outside my office window, and I am in here, puttering away behind a desk for the better part of a day, or even still, slinging wine from the floor, completely closed off from the great outdoors.

Not that I am a big outdoors person, but sunlight is a good source of vitamin D, and sometimes, I can’t tell what time of day it is being inside – obviously unless I look at a clock. You get what I am trying to say – I hope. I’d love to just pop the top of this wine store and open her up, sling some wine al fresco.

C’est la vie.

In continuing with the catching up of all my potential blog posts, Irish T recently dropped in with a bagful of international wines from Vineyard Brands:

Patient Cotat Sancerre Anciences Vignes 2012. Grade=Good. Tart, crisp, yet showing a bit of age as some of the acid fades quickly on the palate. A bit of lemon and green apple then it disappears, like an alien abduction.

Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet 2011. Grade=Outstanding. Stunning Chardonnay, full-bodied, creamy apple, hints of lemon, white spices, mineral and a touch of allspice.

Vincent Girardin Meursault Les Narvaux 2010. Grade=Outstanding. Beautiful white wine, full-bodied with creamy pears, butter, jasmine and white spices.

Vincent Girardin Volnay 2010. Grade=Outstanding+. A supple, light-to-medium-bodied Pinot Noir, spicy with black pepper, black cherries, dark plums, mushrooms and Oolong tea.

Padrillos Malbec Mendoza 2013. Grade=Very Good. Blueberry, cassis, clove tobacco and smoke highlight this tasty medium-bodied red.

Fairview Pinotage Western Cape 2013. Grade=Very Good. Earthy, dark fruit shows off in this medium-bodied red. Black pepper, mushroom, bacon fat and roasted game.

Caparzo Rosso di Montalcino 2011. Grade=Outstanding. Full-bodied, rich cherries, cedar, rosemary and thyme show off all the way to its hearty, robust finish.

Familie Perrin Gigondas 2011. Grade=Outstanding. Loads of dark fruits, earth, pepper and game going on here. It’s a big, brooding monster Grenache-based blend.

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