As the wine consultant (voluntary) for the Grand Wine and Food Affair in Sugar Land/Houston, I was fortunate, on April 23rd, to be able to introduce Kevin Morrisey, Director of Operations at Stags' Leap Winery at a black tie, $250 each gourmet dinner at the gorgeous Trevisio Restaurant at the Houston Medical Center. Kevin's goal at this historic property is to make the best wines possible, while being a good steward and using sustainable farming techniques, so that when his grandchildrens' grandchildren come to visit, nothing will have changed. While Stag's Leap Wine Cellars - singular possessive - is famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon which won the famous Paris Tasting (rush to buy George Taber's book about it), Stags' Leap Winery makes not only a great Cabernet, but also a fascinating, bone dry Viognier, the quintessential Petite Sirah (the '04 was unbelievable) and a rich, plumy Merlot. - Denman Moody, Consultant to Personal Wine and Owner of Corporateeventwines.com (photo by Kelly S. Howell)
I am very excited about my new website. I added many more cool labels that you can choose from and personalize. Also, I have selected new quality award-winning wines, coming from quality grapes and credible vineyards giving you a better selection. Please check out my website: www.personalwine.com. I would appreciate feedback.
I've seen some incredible vintages come from Rutherford in 2005 but this along with the Gargiulo are perhaps my favorites to date. This cabernet was in my opinion much better than the Napa Reserve from Harlan and at a better price point as well. On the nose it opens up with aromatic hints marmalade, pepper, and well rounded floral bouquet. The perfect balance of fruit combined with hints of pepper, slight earth tones as well as a not-too dry, well balanced finish. Blended from the fruit of the famed Georges III vineyard in Rutherford with near-legendary To Kalon. Made by legendary wine makers Nils and Kirk Venge.
Yesterday we visited Gargiulo Vineyards, our newest addition to the Personal Wine line up that we are featuring in an upcoming promotion. Garguilo is located on Oakville Crossroads nestled between Rudd and Screaming Eagle and across the street from Harlan's property. I was very fortunate to get April Gargiulo to give us a personal tour. The winery itself is new and constructed from organic and recycled materials giving it tremendous charm and personality. April was kind enough to taste us on their Pinot Grigio, which was clean and crisp with a gentle bite. I tried their Chardonnay at room temperature and was pleasantly surprised at its texture and complexity, not too dry, and definitely not buttery. The highlight was the Money Road Cabernet which had just the right amount of fruit, medium body, and some deep earth tones with a hint of licorice. This wine is absolutely fantastic.
So its pretty understandable why a fashion designer would want to launch his or her own wine, heck lots of people are doing it like Mike Ditka. Well I met with Bevmax CEO Mike Berkoff and he told me about a project that he brought back from the dead. A Vins de Pays combined with Christian Audigier's unique fashion sense, brings Cool Wines. Its being distributed by Southern Wines, so you can expect them in stores near you. They'll be bottling wines under this brand, but sourcing from vineyards world wide. Expect varietals from New Zealand and Chile next...
Well sometimes life gets tough and you're having a rough day, then you find something remarkable. Something like Grahams Vintage 1994 Port, 1998 Taylors Port (10years in mood), Port Pocas 2000 Vintage Character Tertium Millenium, 1989 Grande Duchene Cuvee Especiale Champagne Officiel du Bicentenaire.
These kind of finds are rare, but precious. We'll be cracking these open pretty soon and I am hoping for the best on the champagne, however we all know port is always good. I forgot to mention two bottles of Macallen 18 year!
Dark, oak-edged very traditional burgundy. Decent concentration, ripe fruit and fine acidity. Good intensity in the mid-palate too. Needs to open a bit, but once it does its aromas are fruity with hints of pepper, oak, berry.
Call me if you want any. It retails for $40 per bottle. I have it on sale for $20.00 per bottle. Well stored at 55 degrees constant. (512) 476-9463 ext 304
Gladys and I went out to Napa in January and toured a few wineries. In our dotage, we are obliged to sip and spit lest we become comatose on the ride home. Even though we had taken the precaution of hiring a car and driver, we had plans for the evening and did not wish to pass out.
The absolute stand-out of the touring was Frog's Leap. I guess I have toured more than twenty wineries, but never have I received such an education about the philosophy, the zeitgeist, the politics, the life-spirit-embodiment of a winemaker as during this tour. Frog's Leap is an organic winery, so no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. They have an impressive solar panel installation, which I think if I remember correctly they said provides all the electric power used by the winery. They keep their own bees, and they run chickens, pigs and cattle on a small scale, but in the old-fashioned farmer's yard manner.
The guide explained things, simple things I suppose, but things I had never really focused on. She said, for example, that when a someone says a wine is "peppery," really what they're saying is that it has a relatively high alcohol content. High alcohol in a wine is perceived by the throat, palate, tongue and nose as peppery flavor. She said that Frog's Leap worked to keep the alcohol level of even their big cabs down to a reasonable level, and seeks to impart flavor through other less blunt techniques.
I have never tasted a merlot like Frog's Leap's. I have come to expect a watery thin beverage when presented with a merlot, but Frog's Leap's merlot is anything but thin.
I cannot recommend too highly this tour.
I want to share this touching testimonial that I just received from a customer...
Sometimes I get the oddest requests from my clients. Today I got one from a customer who went fishing and instead caught a 5ft diamondback rattlesnake. He decided since he didn't catch any fish, and spent $400 on the private fishing tour, that he would instead eat the rattlesnake and I thought that was interesting. When he proceeded to tell me that he wanted some advice on wines that paired well with snake, I had to really think about it so...
I called my friend and wine writer Denman Moody in Houston and this is what he told me "With the rattlesnake, I'd make a wine reduction brown sauce, then pair it with Zaca Mesa Syrah."
Well there you go. I can't wait for the next stumper question!
Stopping by to give a "Shout Out" to the P-wine Blog. I've known Alex of Personalwine from the very beginning, actually before the beginning, back in College at UT.
Personalwine began with an idea on a bar napkin when Alex and I were attempting to determine the directions our lives would take. At a bar in Austin in/or around 1999, we created the idea, name and the processes that Personalwine uses today.
Since those early days, Alex has taken Personalwine to a level that I could have only imagined. From landing accounts including HBO, Playboy, Maxim, and various Universities, to growing to the amount of volume he moves each year, he has surpassed all of my expectations of what the company could do.
Great Job P-wine Crew! Keep up the great work.
1. If you are taking wine as a gift to a dinner party, don't worry about matching the wine to the food unless you have been requested to do so and have enough information about what is being served to make an informed choice. Just bring a good wine. Match quality of food and wine. A grand dinner party with multiple courses of elaborately prepared dishes deserves a better wine than hamburgers on the grill with chips in a bag.
2. When you're serving more than one wine at a meal, it's customary to serve lighter wines before full-bodied ones. Dry wines should be served before sweet wines unless a sweet flavored dish is served early in the meal. In that case match the sweet dish with a similarly sweet wine. Lower alcohol wines should be served before higher alcohol wines.
3. Balance flavor intensity. Pair light-bodied wines with lighter food and fuller-bodied wines with heartier, more flavorful, richer and fattier dishes.
4. Consider how the food is prepared. Delicately flavored foods — poached or steamed — pair best with delicate wines. It's easier to pair wines with more flavorfully prepared food — braised, grilled, roasted or sautéed. Pair the wine with the sauce, seasoning or dominant flavor of the dish.
5. Match flavors. An earthy Pinot Noir goes well with mushroom soup and the grapefruit/citrus taste of Sauvignon Blancs goes with fish for the same reasons that lemon does.
6. Balance sweetness. But, beware of pairing a wine with food that is sweeter than the wine, although I do like chocolate with Cabernet Sauvignon. I also like chocolate with good dark beer. Come to think of it, I like chocolate with just about anything.
7. Consider pairing opposites. Very hot or spicy foods — some Thai dishes, or hot curries for example — often work best with sweet desert wines. Opposing flavors can play off each other, creating new flavor sensations and cleansing the palate.
8. Match by geographic location. Regional foods and wines, having developed together over time, often have a natural affinity for each other.
9. Pair wine and cheese. In some European countries the best wine is reserved for the cheese course. Red wines go well with mild to sharp cheese. Pungent and intensely flavored cheese is better with a sweeter wine. Goat Cheeses pair well with dry white wine, while milder cheeses pair best with fruiter red wine. Soft cheese like Camembert and Brie, if not over ripe, pair well with just about any red wine including Cabernet, Zinfandel and Red Burgundy.
10. Adjust food flavor to better pair with the wine. Sweetness in a dish will increase the awareness of bitterness and astringency in wine, making it appear drier, stronger and less fruity. High amounts of acidity in food will decrease awareness of sourness in wine and making it taste richer and mellower — sweet wine will taste sweeter. Bitter flavors in food increase the perception of bitter, tannic elements in wine. Sourness and salt in food suppress bitter taste in wine. Salt in food can tone down the bitterness and astringency of wine and may make sweet wines taste sweeter.
Yes, this Napa Valley Winery right off Rutherford Ranch has taken off on an uphill battle against the top exclusive producers in Napa Valley. This wine has a fruitful bouquet with exceptional ruby color. It is not too dry and most likely is blended with about 10% merlot to keep its tannin levels in check. Acidity is normal and its ripe with blackberry, pepper, smoke wood chip, and a hint of currant (wow)! I can see why Robert Parker gave this winery a Best Napa Valley Value. I am sure glad we bought 200 cases of this wine before it flies of the shelf!
Drink now or cellar for 1-2 years.