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Travel Tuesday: London Heathrow the Spirits are Open

Date: Tue, Oct 2, 2012 Wine Tasting

It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend; one's present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason. ~ Latin saying

Having just recentlyarrived back from a great trip to the United Kingdom, I had a few hours to kill in London's well known and famous Heathrow Airport. I would have to say my experience at Heathrowwas much better than what could only be called a CF, at Charles De Gaulle Airport in France. I've been through that airporton more than one occasion and the "experience" if I can call it that is always the same, harrowing at best.

But laying that aside for another day, lets launch into a subject I know we all like, well at least most of us. Two topics really, one the ladies really love and that is shopping and one the guys really like, and that is getting your single malt on.

Yes, you heard me right shopping, tasting a varied selection of single malts combined with hours to wait before your flight is ready to board at the duty-free shop. All of this can be done at the Heathrow airport inLondon, no longer will you be be bored while waiting to board. I was a bit flummoxed seeing so many different bottles of single malt open, just waiting for me to ask can I taste that?

Once I do ask, an emphatic "yes" is the answer to my silent prayers from the "guy" in doing the khaki-casual thing at the duty-free shop. I'm thinking well then bring it on, there were quite a few Single Malts, I've not had the opportunity to try before, so I dove in head first, making an amber colored splash and of course I found a few more favorites that I will want to add to my collection at some point in the future.

The Speyside distillery of 'The Balvenie' 15 year 'Golden Cask' [pictured above] was a very nice quaff, easy gentle spices, you could taste the homegrown barley, it had nutty sweetness, a puff of smoke, cinnamon spiciness and a delicately proportioned layer of Caribbean Rum. It's not high end, but one that is very approachable, especially to folks who don't get the peaty, smoky thing.

So whiskey isnt' your thing huh? You thought this was a wineblog, perhaps you werewondering what the bleep is going here, with all this business about Scotch. Psssh, what-ever, hold on toyour lederhosen for just one minute, if you could please. I also discovered they had a few very high-end wines on tap in via a enomatic machine and they had some 1er Cru on tap [sorry to rhyme] oh-crap are you freaking kidding? Well they weren't and again all I had to do was ask nicely and the nice gentlemen poured me a couple ounces Burgundy Cru.

What more could you ask for, while waiting to board your plane? Well since you are asking for more, then how about walking[now that would be something to see] a walk-in humidor? Hmmm, not bad huh? Want to try a sample, umm go ahead just ask, apparently, not being afraid to ask leads to all kinds of good things. Somewhat similar to that Zero Calories Coke commercial where the guy ask, "And?"

I nearly made Mrs. Cuvee and Imiss our flight because I was getting so carried away, 'asking', sampling and all that I somehow had lost track of time like the proverbial kid in the candy store. But nonetheless it all worked out and a quick dash to the gate had us both boarding on time, albeit a little winded from the experience [and yes Mrs. Cuvee was more than a bit unhappy].That is all I have for you today folks, until next time remember as always to sit back, relax and continue to sip long and prosper cheers!

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Wine of the Week: Mondavi 2010 Reserve Chardonnay

Date: Mon, Oct 1, 2012 Wine Tasting

Welcome to Monday, I trust everyone had a fantastic weekend full of great wine, tasty dishes and most of some breath-taking football action. I know I had a little of all three, while some aspects of it was a bit more challenging than the others, all in all it, there are no complaints to be found here.

I like so many other bloggers, received a sample of this very tasty Robert Mondavi Reserve Chardonnay, vintage 2010, their Napa Valley Chardonnay and the Private Selection. So you've seen many reviews of this wine already or you will be seeing them in multitude in the coming weeks, so please stand-by.

The Mondavi brand is one which almost everyone [vino-sapiens] is aware of or is at least familiar with in some small way. But honestly folks I get a sample of this wine every year, but I don't think it has ever made its way to my wine of the week list. The reason I say that is because I want convey to you, that I thought this vintage from Carneros really stands out for me, far more than it has in previous years. So much in fact I scored this wine 91 points.

This wine stands out in my mind and that of even Mrs. Cuvee who gave it her “good” affirmation, as one of the better Chardonnay’s I’ve had all year, especially at its reasonable price point. On the Mondavi website this wine has a SRP of $40, but a quick look at Costco and you’ll find it well under $30. Bonus: You don’t have to me a member to purchase wine or other adult beverages at Costco in California.

In the glass a crisp, hay colored core warmly greets you at the door. After being welcomed inside and stepping up to your first slurp, bam bright minerality, a creamy texture, a bit of lemon curd, ripe pear, green apple, with nectarine fruit piling on for good measure. According to the tech-note all of the grapes for the 2010 Vintage were sourced from the renowned Hyde Vineyard, in the Carneros region of Napa Valley.
For the folks wondering about barrel regiment [15 months total], there’s just a touch of oak and lee stirring action ["Sur lie"] which adds a lush richness to the palate [Burgundian-style barrels, 68% new French oak for fermentation]. I found it an ideal food-wine ready to take on a variety of dishes. The finish just lingers on the palate like an urban outdoorsman waiting to greet you as you exit the freeway; this wine has the structure and acidity to go the distance if you are so inclined.

I paired this wine with easy-breezy recipe that is in what Mrs. Cuvee calls my go-to recipe box, which is easy that even a cave-man like me can pull it off so easily. It’s the ever wonderful Chicken Marsala, just don’t forget you need to have a 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine, so make sure you have a bottle hanging about in the pantry. Here is the link to preparing this very simple, yet satisfying dish, which will make you look like a rock-star at home if you prepare this for the Mrs. Until next time folk, remember as I always say, sip long and prosper cheers!

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Wine of Interest: 2010 Daou Reserve Zinfandel

Date: Fri, Sep 28, 2012 Wine Tasting

"Writers about wine should, at least on occasion, be troublesome, irritating and critical.” ~ Andrew Jefford

Now I normally have a wine of the week, but seeing this wine really didn't quite fit into my normal headline as the "Wine of the Week", I decided to go with a new title, "Wine of Interest". While theZinfandel in today's spotlightis a very good bottle, one which I can highly recommend to you. It unfortunately can'tmake the cut asmy wine of the week, because the quality to price ratio is beyond the pale of what I consider reasonable [IMHO].

Now about the wine; 100% free-run juice, no press juice anywhere in sight, so that may explain part of the higher cost. Some subtle, but decidedly spicy undertones put its mark on their 2010 vintage. On the plate, a vibrant display of acidity enhances the play of the usual suspects.

Big briary raspberry and blackberry varietal expression await the thirsty vino-sapien. So do you like it lush? If so this wine will not disappoint, a velvety mouth feel interwoven with fine, integrated tannins which rush to greet each sip, slurp and even a long gulp, if you feel so inclined. Additionally you’ll find this wine full-bodied; it has a juicy mid-palate and is shot through with elegant "balance." While this wine is bit more coin than I’m use to paying for a Zinfandel from Paso Robles, it did give a stellar performance at every angle, I gave this little stunner, 91 points.

Now that said, this winery is located in wonderful Paso Robles, found high a-top one of the areas highest points and the views from the outside tasting area is spectacular. One well worth the drive to the top, it must be especially gorgeous at this time of year, vine covered hillsfull of fruit, sitting among a green canopy that stretches for what seems like miles. Until next time folks, remember it's the weekend, so sit back and enjoy and never forget to sip long and prosper cheers!

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Travel Tuesday: A Visit to DemiJohn in York

Date: Tue, Sep 25, 2012 Wine Tasting

It's great to be back, but wow what afun-tastic whirl-wind visit I justhad to the UK. A great place offering so much, I barely had time to even start scratching the surface. But one thing I did learn, isthat a bus is not a bus, instead itsa coach. If you ever find yourself in York or even in Edinburgh or Glasgow do yourself a favor and step into this great little "deli" for a taste.So don't be shy, step right up, ask for a taste and you'll be surprised at the varied and off-the-beaten path flavors and aromas awaiting the thirsty vino-sapien.

Did I say a "deli"oh yes I did, I stumbled across it walking down the street in Yorkjust last week [bragging].It isa great little place calledDemijohn or as it's known the Worlds first Liquid Deli. An idea which was founded in Edinburghs Grassmarket. Demijohnoffers a unique collection of handmade products like Whisky,FruitWine,Ports, Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegars.Each demi-john jub has a description of what to expect you find in your sample. The shop which I visited is easily foundon [11 Museum Street] one of York's main streets, a three to fiveminute walk from the train station.This shopis divided [pretty much equally] into spirits on the right and non-spirits on the left, which makes their shop easy to navigate, alldepending on your interest.

When it comes to being environmentally conscience; it's part of their business plan and in their DNA. Demijohn founder and owner Angus Ferguson has been quoted to say regarding questions about sustainability. "We are incredibly conscious of the impact of retail on the environment and have maximised every effort to be one of the most eco-friendly food and drink retailers.”

There are many choices of package styles to choose from and ifneed-be they canwrap yourchoice and make itgift-giving ready. The perfect stocking stuffer [depending on the size] for the spirit-slurping vino-sapien who has everything. Now if you happen to not be in the gift giving mood and slurp down that 21yr old scotch all on your own leaving you with an empty bottle, needing to be re-filled. Then they have a great solution for you, feel free to bring it back to one of their shops for a refill and you'll save apound or twoon the price of the glass bottle.

The great thing aboutthis placeisthat you get to try everything and anything before you buy, yes even a 21year oldSingle Malt Scotch.So of course I had to try all the different choices, but hey I wasn't driving. I love the concept, I'd like to see more of that here in the U.S. but with zoning regulations and other red-tapebeing what they are here, it would prove a bit more difficult to have shops like this. But the next time you find yourself strolling now the street in York, Edinburgh or Glascow give them a swirl for yourself and see what the fuss is all about, you'll find it's well worth dropping a few pounds. Until next folks remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

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Myth Busted: The Top 5 Myths about Sulfites in Wine

Date: Fri, Sep 14, 2012 Wine Tasting

Invariably any number of folkswho work in thewine-biz or wine-trades, whether it's your favorite tasting room in Napa or the wine-bar down thestreet,will beasked about the health effects of sulfites in wine and its supposed link to headaches.

This has become even more a question in our health-conscious nation, where even the question of wheretheir food comes from and whether it's ethical are a topic of daily discussion. Since food and wine are so tightly tied together, it's only natural that questions about chemicals that perhaps is potentially lurking inour vino, should also be addressed. Thus the focus on sulfites has become more mainstream, especially since a law was introduced and passedforcing producers to add the phrase "contains sulfites" to the ominous waring label found on wine bottles.

The team atVine Crowd has compiled a list of the top fivemyths about the sulfites found inwine we all drink everyday.In similarfashion tothe folks on the show Mythbuster's, they take a common sense approach to prove or disprove these popular recurringmyths. So so sit back, buckle-up as it's going to be a bumpy ride in the wine-wagon todayon our way todiscover together what is really going on in our wine and like some popular nineties show once proclaimed, "the truth is out there".

1. You or someone you know is allergic to sulfites.
NOPE, not true. Someone’s been badly misinformed. Sulfites are something that our body naturally produces at a normal rate of about 1,000mg a day. Compare that to the average 10mg per glass of wine and it’s pretty clear that if someone was allergic to sulfites, their problems would be a little more severe than a life without wine. There are, however, individuals that have high sensitivities to sulfites. We’ll get to that in a second.

2. The sulfites in wine are extremely high.
Again, not true. Sulfites are a part of the winemaking process all around the world. They are added in moderation in order to preserve wines for aging. They are also added to other foods for the same reason – anything from the vegetables in a salad bar to dried fruits will contain added sulfites. Sulfites in an average glass of wine will measure 10mg, whereas a 2oz serving of those bright orange dried apricots typically has 112mg. Yep, over 10 times as much as a glass of wine.

3. Sulfites give you headaches.
FALSE. Probably the biggest myth of all. There has been no link to sulfites and headaches in research groups – even among people with high sensitivity to sulfites. Even among the highly sensitive people, adverse reactions (mainly asthmatic) only presented themselves when subjects were given four times the normal amount of sulfites in a single glass. This is not to say that some people don’t get headaches when they drink certain types of wine or alcohol, it just shows that it’s not the sulfites that are causing them. New research is showing that headaches may be related to the type of yeast used in fermentation.

Clarification: "I wanted to clarify that the infamous ‘red wine headache’ is very real for some people, but as mentioned above, it’s not the sulfites that are causing them." ~ Jennifer Kaplan

In the June issue of the Harvard Health Letter, it says''The red wine headache is a real if poorly understood phenomenon." and according to Marian Burrosthat quote iswhat she would call "a masterpiece of understatement."

4. There are less sulfites in white wine.
It’s probably safe to say that we all know someone that doesn’t drink red wine “because of the sulfites.” In reality, white wines have slightly more sulfites than reds.

5. There are more sulfites used in American wines.
Surprise, things listed in bold are still NOT TRUE. Though winemaking practices differ in each country and region, the amount of sulfites used in winemaking tends to be the same among Old World and New World countries. Several studies show that sulfite levels are similar throughout Europe and the US specifically. The fact that the US has a sulfite warning label but Canada and European countries do not tends to add to this myth.

Other Resources: For more information on the topic there's a great article posted entitled; Eating-well the puzzling red-wine-headacheby Marian Burros who writes for the NYT. And one otherinsightfularticle on the subject; Red Wine Headaches vs. Sulfite Allergies.

Thisarticle is cross-posted atVinecrowd.com and posted here courtesy of the author Jennifer Kaplanwho was gracious enough to allow theCuvée Corner Wine Blog to post it here in its entirety. I believe the information containedin this articleis important andwill be helpful for the vast wine swirling and slurping public to get their heads around this sometimes controversial topic.Jennifer Kaplan article,does just that with a very common sense approach to dispelling the myths about sulfites.

I hopeeveryone found this article at the very least helpful andmake others feela little more comfortable about the sulfites found lurking in theirwine glass. I believe we can say this myth was emphatically busted.So until next time, remember to sip long and prosper, cheers!

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The Top 7 Health Benefits of Drinking Red Wine

Date: Thu, Sep 13, 2012 Wine Tasting

"Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right" ~ Mark Twain
This may sound odd, but in some cultures around the world even the mere mention of the idea or thethought “let's have a drink” has negative connotations [most likely not a theme in most western cultures].

While that may be true, you may also be surprised to find that potentially intoxicating liquids like wines and even more so spirits do have their benefits as well. That being said, moderation is the operative word when it comes to consuming adult beverages. It’s not that imbibing is bad per se, but we can run afoul of any benefit when get too close to the edge of over indulgence. I know this may sound too much like common sense, but we all know that's just not that common.
The way some folks behave after having more than their fair-share has undoubtedly contributed to some of the negative stereotypes which has been associated with consuming wine or spirits. As some in knee-jerk response, believe abuse automatically means non-use and have sought to band it out-right. Remember that was tried once, it was called Prohibition.

But on the flip side of the equation, studies have shown that the moderate consumption of wines and or spirits is actually good for our health. Especially when compared against outright abstainers. To most folks who drink wine for example, moderation means a shared bottle with your meal, three or four times a week.

That said, abstainers and imbibers alike please take note. Because below I've outlined some succinct points about the health benefits of drinking wine which you may find compelling, despite a current study which suggests the alternative may possibly be true.

Good for the heart: Alcohol acts as a natural blood thinner and enables the free flow of blood through the arteries, thus reducing the work that your heart has to do in order to pump blood to all parts of your body. So when you have one glass of wine three or four times a week, your risk of heart disease is significantly lower and you are less susceptible to strokes which occur because of blood clots or blocked arteries. A study conducted at the Yale School of Medicine proved connection between drinking red wine [sorry white wine fans] and improvements in cardiovascular health, because of its polyphenol [high in antioxidants] content.

Slows aging process: Grapes are rich in an anti-aging wonder chemical known as resveratrol prevents damage to and repairs cells and blood vessels. It also brings down the level of bad cholesterol and reduces the risk of blood clots. Red wine is a good source of resveratrol, so if you’re in the mood for a drink, make it a glass of red rather than anything else.

3. Resveratrol: You may be wondering what wines have the highest resveratrol content? Again sorry white wine fans but between white wine and red wine, the red variety has more resveratrol than white wines like the ever popular chardonnay.The reason being is thatred wine is fermented longer and stays in contact with skins helping to produce those red colors you see. White wine on the other hand;has about a tenth of resveratrol content compared to red wine. Some even believe and facts even suggestthat the only reliable non-supplement source of resveratrol right now is red wine.

4. Rich in antioxidants: If there’s one chemical that everyone is going gaga about, it’s antioxidants – they’re being praised to the skies for their ability to prevent cancer and boost your immune system. Red wine is rich in antioxidants and if you have one glass five times a week, you could significantly increase your life span and live a long and healthy life. Just look at the French who consume more wine per capita than Americans tend to live a little longer, what they call the The French Paradox (though the fact that they drink wine moderately and slowly with meals, instead of downing shots at the bar, could make a difference).

Boosts lung function: White wine helps lung function, according to a study conducted by the University of Buffalo’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences which determined that people who enjoyed the occasional glass of wine were found to have better lung function than those who did not. Besides this, wine has also been known to be effective in destroying upper respiratory tract bacteria.

Prevents tooth decay: Wine has antibacterial properties and has been use forcenturies in helping treat infected wounds. Researchers have only just nowdiscovered that wine is capable of killing various strains of oral bacteria that are responsible for tooth decay and even a sore throat. But you want to be careful about [red] wines staining potential, you could earn a new nick name "purple-teeth" if your not careful todrink with bit of moderation.

Guards against diabetes : Drinking wine, in moderation, has been shown to help boost the function of the pancreas and reduces the level of glucose in your blood. This prevents you from being at risk for diabetes during any stage in your life.

Now you maybe wondering which red-wine has the largest source of Resveratrol orwhich grape delivers the biggest bang for the buck? Well it just so happens to be the most delicate of red-wines grapes, onewhich has the most potent formresveratrol, the winner is Pinot Noir.So yes,in fact it has been shown that Pinot Noir has more resveratrol than other red wine varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Cabernet Franc.

Since Pinot Noir grapes are naturally more delicate, prone to rot, and are generally considered more difficult to grow.Some speculate that the reasonthese grapes are so much more beneficial, is thatneed to produce more resveratrol to protect themselves from natural pathogens or what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. In addition to PN being a bigger source of resveratrol grapes grown in regions that are both cool and moist will produce an even higher resveratrol count than anywhere else. For more information on the Health benefits of wine º Antioxidants, resveratrol, and living healthier, please click on the link provided above.

While the benefits of wine and wine consumption are not meant to be an incentive for teetotalers to startuncorking bottles of wine. Butit should be regarded by casual drinkers as a lesson in health - five glasses [3-4oz]a week is the optimum level, and if you go beyond that, then the negatives tend to far outweigh the positives whichwine has tooffer. Here's a toast to your good health, cheers!

By-line: This article is written by guest contributor Shannon Wills, who writes on the topic of Physical Therapist Assistant Schools She welcomes your comments below or at her email id : shannonwills23@gmail.com .

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Travel Tuesday: Hitting the Orgundian Trail at WillaKenzie Estates

Date: Tue, Sep 11, 2012 Wine Tasting

The Gate is Straight, Deep and Wide; Break On Through to the other side ~ Jim Morrison

Break on through is what we did in Oregon, broke through to the other side of Pinot Noir and onto the Orgundian Wine Trail. Here in the picture above you have the aerial view, which of course I sadly didn't take. But I wanted you to have the bird's eye view of this beautiful property. Their winery and the vineyards are easily located at 19143 NE Laughlin Rd. in Yamhill, OR in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. So please do yourself afavor the next time you're in Portlandstop by the tasting room, see the property [take a tour], taste the great wines and relax because after-all you're in wine country.

My most recent visit came as part of this year's Wine Bloggers Conference that was held in Portland,OR making this my second trip out to visit. I was surprised to find some new changes; they have since moved the main tasting room to some new a new spot, with a wrap around deck and a great view of the vineyards. The new spot is not too far from the old building, which still has a view of the fermentation tanks, but is perched upon the area where Mrs. Cuvee and I took our first picture. Just above you can see the picture from the deck.

Here in the picture above you see the old tasting room, which is still used. And in the picture below you can see the brand-new tasting room, which I think I like quite a bit better. But with such a big space, I was surprised that the new bar was not a lot bigger.

After a quick spin through the new tasting room it was time to take the bloggers out to see what makes the wines so special, it was time to play in the dirt. There was a large hole dug down into the soil so we could see the layers of sediment and complexity that give the grape and wines from this area their distinctiveness.
The next thing we did and thought this was a fun exercise is that we learned to cut-off the wing-man that grow off to side of the main grape bunch, sucking the life out the other grapes. Which you can see in the picture below.
After thatfun andinformative trip into the vineyard, it was time to go back in side to taste the wine from the many different winerieswho call the Yamhill Carlton AVA home.

Wow, thiswas agreat tasting, that they had lined up for us. Each wine on that sheet told its own story. You had everything from freshly cut cigars, floralsto an odd unexpected eucalyptus jumping out of one of the glasses.I also foundwhat I would callall the other usual suspects in Oregon Pinot Noir, things liketar, black berries,raspberries, coffeeand baking spices. Some more subtle than the others, whilestill others had an amazingly captivating nose. After this was the an up-hill walk to the Triple Black Slopes, tasting wines and sampling snacks meant to be paired with the wine.

There was a bit of logistical difficulties, but by the time we made it to the top it was all worth it. Taking into account the considerable heat some of the bloggers wilted like a sun-flower on parched soil, it was not a pretty sight. But none-the-less most of persevered and drove-on wine glass in hand.

Having arrived at the top many of us, including yours truly were awe-struck by the view from the top, thus commanding most of us to get a picture of the view.
Nothing like a wanna-be wine-writer [aka, blogger]whoo seems to be standing atop of the world, striking the would-be "conquerer" pose. But what to do when faced with a bunch of hungry wine-bloggers and very thirsty vino-sapiens, I know serve up some more fantastic, to this point untried Pinot Noir, served along side a generous plate of vittles.
After a wonderful evening of feasting, chit-chatting with many winemakers sitting at our tables, slurping on some the best Pinot Noir that I've ever had the opportunity to taste. It sadly was time to go home, many of us lamented that it would be great to just stay, continuing to take in the view and what we all knew would be a glorious night sky had we stayed that long.Some of us tromped back down the hill as easily as we strode up, but still others needed to be carried back by a passing vehicle, jumping into the back ofpick-up.

All in all, it was a great adventure and I for one learned so much more about Oregon wine that day and look forward to seeing the Orgundian Wine Trail again soon. Until next time folks, sit-back, relax and remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

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About San Diego: Protocol Wine Studio

Date: Mon, Sep 10, 2012 Wine Tasting

"Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work." --Gustave Flaubert

I'm always on the lookout for the next big thing on the wine-scene here in San Diego and this time I've uncorked a great one that you need to check out for yourself. If you are anything like me, you're tired of the ho-hum everyday selections found in many so called wine-stores [more so the average grocery outlet] today. If there is anywhere or any place I want to encounter diversity, it's in aisles of my favorite [and even my not so favorite] wine shop. Sadly though, finding places like this are the exception and not the proverbial rule.

Sometimes when I see folks tweeting about or throwing up a FB post about seemingly generic mass produced wines, like Chateau Two-by-Four [insert mass market label here]Chardonnay for example, I feel like I've not done my job properly as a wine-writer, I've not shook enough trees, to let folks know they have alternatives, outside of California. Let me go a step further; to me those "kind" of wines are too similar of a choice between deciding whether to buy farm-raised salmon or instead going for the "wild-caught" Sock-Eye, there's no comparison [I don't mind paying extra].

That said, I'm happy to introduce you to the Protocol Wine Studio, a new start-up here in San Diego, one poised to captivate your palate with unique and surprising wines at every twist and turn. I was invited over to sample a small sampling of the style of wines you could expect to find, should you decide to partner with them on a voyage of wine discovery.I was pleasantly surprised by the wildly different styles and flavors presented that evening.If you'd like them to help you fill up an empty cellar or ifyou're simply looking certain types or styles wine, that just can't find anywhere else, chances are that Tina and Guy can help.

Tina and Guy have a simple yet straight forward mission; "Our philosophy centers around a wine culture aesthetic where wine gently glitters from the background and becomes part of a complete social experience, distinct for each individual." Let these two Sommeliers and True Wine Culture Consultants help you as they say"taste it, share it, live it!" and to that I say viva exploration!

One of the surprises of the evening was a great little wine calledFie Gris [Éric Chevalier], a wine whichto me isthe poster boy for "esoteric". A wine for which it has been said; "Long before there was Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé, certainly before Marlborough or perhaps even Sauternes.And long, long before there waseven Sauvignon Blanc, storytellers and wine historians say, there was Fie Gris." ~ North Berkeley Imports.

The nose on this winegrabbed my attention immediately; very smokey [gun-flint], bell-pepper,loads of wet-stone, infused with just a twist of lemon peel and not fully ripe plums. On the palate, vivid acid, but still a lush mouth feel,smoke from a distant fire, herbaceous, wet-stone fruit,a wonderfully terroir-driven wine, it had to be I've never really tasted a wine similar to it. A very exotic wine to be sure, but none-the-less captivating, inviting sips at first, then slurps and finally even a big gulp.

One of the more surprising elements was how it paired ever so nicely withthe back-yard camp-fire toasted marshmallowswhich we all chowed-down on toward the end of the night; like a pack of wolves experiencing their first kill in weeks [okay, maybe that was just me]. It was a fun evening, Mrs. Cuvee and I sitting in the VIP area [don't ya know]helped to close down the evening, lighting a few gars and telling tales till the wee-hours of the morning. Until next time folks, sit back, relaxandplease remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

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Lunch-Time with Chandon Brut Rosé

Date: Sat, Sep 8, 2012 Wine Tasting

Picking the rich, ripe summer tomatoes from the backyard this morning, posting a picture of it to my FB wall, I was inspired to write this post in anticipation about what I would have for lunch today. It was my good friend, Shawnof Wandering-Winofame who helped me with this quick and impromptu brain storm.

What could be better than a simple lunch with simple ingredients and fab bottle of wine to compliment that effort, one with bubbles no less. The wine is a sample I received earlier this summer in a three pack from the great folks at Domaine Chandon just north of me[a few hundred miles]in the Napa Valley. A great place to visit, easily found on the famous route 29 corridor in Yountville. This folks is one tasty bottle of bubbly, it's simply a party waiting to be uncorked and inexpensive to boot. Boat loads of fresh summer strawberries, resting on a flaky croissant crustawait the first slurp of the thirsty vino-sapien, you’ll find it very easy drinking and plush. There is nothing to not like about this great lunch time partner, a wine which I scored 90 points, a sparkling wine you can find most places for a SRP of $20

If you want to make this simple yet delicious lunch for yourself, then run off to the store, farmers market or even your basic grocery outlet, grab some [if you don't have these items already] basil, tomatoes, a couple baguettes, EVOO, fresh garlic,and a block of Parmesan cheese. Now it's time to put together some Italian style bruschetta (pronounced "brusketta"). There are many variations on this recipe, sofeel free to adjust as needed.

Honestly there is no need to turn the oven on to make this easy-breezy lunch time delight, you'll just need a skillet. Dice the tomatoes to the size you're going to be comfortable with and set aside. Cut the entire baguette in half and then cut into pan-size pieces. Add butter to skillet and melt over high-heat, then add the bread, cook until golden brown, pressing down as needed. The bread cooks quickly and leaves it crispy on the outside, but soft inside

Now using the same skillet [one pan operation], add some cooking olive oil, then toss in the tomatoes, again cooking on medium-high heat. You'll know they are ready when you see them start to soften. Now throw in the spices, garlic tooand add the basil at the very end. Now it's ready to be plated unto the baguette, sprinklesome freshly shavedParmesan Cheese over the top, pop the cork on the Chandon and enjoy. Until next time folks remember to, sit back, relax, slurp long and prosper cheers!

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Love and Meritage: Presents Blackstone 2007 Sonoma Reserve Rubric

Date: Wed, Sep 22, 2010 Wine Tasting

Does anyone remember that song "Love and marriage" sung by Frank Sinatra, which introducedAmerica to the concept of dysfunction in the form a of a sitcomin the late eighties called Married... with Children.? While this wine has nothing to do with that show, it does have something in common with that theme kind of, because what is true in marriage is true in wine as well. The marriage of or the bringing together two different varietals toform a blend thatin many cases rival the mono varietal based wines. See even wine is okay by itself as a single entity, but when correctly brought together with other varietalsto form a single but multi-layered thing of beauty, let the quaffing begin.

The song goes, "Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage," but in this case it's love and Meritage, that could make for the operative phrase in your life, Married with Children. What do I mean my that, well the biological imperative could be absolutely enabled by a good Meritage typewine and this easy drinking wine could put you in the right frame of mind rather easily if you get my drift. "wink~wink"

According to good old Wikipedia: Um what the bleep is a rubric anyways? Survey says, "A rubric is a word or section of text which is traditionally written or printed in red ink to highlight it. The word derives from the Latin: rubrica, meaning red ochre or red chalk." Little did I know that therubric method is one I've been usingon my blogsince I started writing over two years ago.

The Winery:Blackstone Winery has had some ubiquitous selections on store shelves formanyyears now. Their everyday priced offerings have [thankfully]recently been augmented with the addition of a Sonoma County "reserve" series of wines.This winery lays in the heart of Sonoma, I drove past it twice just a couple weeks ago but didn't goin as my travels had other destinations in mind.Fornearly 20 years, they’ve cultivated close ties with grape growers and viticulturists throughout Sonoma County.Sonoma istheir inspiration andtheir home, Sonoma remains the heart of Blackstonewines.

Danger, Will Robinson: Okay wine-rangers this is a warning, a shot across the bow if you will. Even though I loved, loved the Rubric, don't read into my review as a blanket endorsementfor their other cellar dweller wines. Meaning the wines with the brown label selling for $7 just about everywhere are no where near the same quality as their Sonoma Reserve wines, you've been warned. Step up to just $9.99 [at TJ's] and you've hit pay dirt! I'm not like many wine-bloggers, I don't "gush" over every wine that comes across this desk, in fact there's mucho amounts of vinothat will never see the light of day on this blog.

Composition: This red blend is Blackstone winemaker Gary Sitton's take on a Meritage-style Cabernet-based blend which leads the way at 55%. The winemaker really threw in the proverbial kitchen sink with this blend. So rounding out the blend the other varietals in the mix are Malbec; Cabernet Franc; Petit Verdot; Tannat; Merlot; and Petite Sirah. The fruit was sourced from the following areas,Dry Creek Valley (59%), Sonoma County (20%), Sonoma Valley (15%), and Alexander Valley (6%).

Treatment and Case size: Oak [most likely 2nd useFrench]aging occurred over 20 months in combination of new and older barrels. 7,000 cases of this wine were produced. The reason I mention the case size is that while the case size is large the quality is also large and readily available.

What's a Meritage: Well according to theMeritage Alliance "red meritage wines historically have been among the world’s most highly rated wines." Very true, think about Bordeaux, which isthe model for Meritage wines here in the states.And why are meritage wines so good? Because of "their smooth, silky texture and complex, robust structure coupled with the ability to age beautifully" — often for decades, while most are also very drinkable in their younger years. Like theBlackstone Winery Sonoma Reserve Rubric Sonoma County 2007 I will be reviewing today. Another word of advice, for god's sake don't pronounce it like a French word, folks will just roll their eyes and shake their heads in disbelief, it's Mer-it-tige! I really don't mind how you say it, as long as you find yourself of these wonderful wines.

Blend Rules: According to theMeritage Alliance, "a red meritage is a blend of two or more of the red “noble” Bordeaux varieties — Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and the rarer St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenère." The kicker, "If the blend includes any other grape variety, it is, by definition, not a Meritage!" Also, to qualify as a Meritage, no single grape variety can make up more than 90% of the blend. So technically this wine broke the rules and like Reggie Bush, will have to hand in its title or trophy status, sadly it's not a meritage. But it is darn close!

Full Disclosure: Hey FTC and anyone who may care, this wine wassent as a sampleto Cuvée Corner Wine Blog for the review process over 4 weeks ago and has a SRP of $20.

Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored92 points on the Cuvée Corner 100 pointscale. The QPR is off the charts, stupid good for the $9.99 price tag.

First Swirl: I did decant this wine, frankly it didn't really need it [contrary to what you've read on other blogs]. Sorry Gabe, you're just wrong. A bright shiny clean purple core, most likely the Malbec kicking in some blue tones and a pale cerise colored rim.

First Sniff: Bold dark and red fruits dominate the pronounced but wonderfully clean nose, while subtle well integrated notes of oak and vanilla dance delightfully together, while wafting gently from the glass. Isn't that a pretty scene?

First Slurp: Holding the goblet up to my mouth, I gave this wine a good [proper technique and all] swirl in that large cavity, sometimes called my mouth.This exerciseconfirmed the impressions I had upon putting my fat half Irish wine loving nose into the glass. This wine taste freaking fantastic, I was utterly amazed at its complexity and the overall flavor profile, dark red fruits, leather, mocha and trace minerality. The tannins were smooth as a babies ass [ohh, he said a bad word]and glided about nicely into a rather nice finish. Good Job, Blackstone!

Price and Where to Find: Okay Chula Vista this is your opportunity, I found a huge cache of this vino at my local Trader Joe'sin East Lake and they are selling it for $9.99 each. You can also buy it from the Blackstone Winery website for a suggested retail price [SRP]of $22 each.C'mon this wine is juststupid goodat the TJprice, so why would ya get it anywhere else?

My Recommendation: This wine is already sold out at a few TJ's around town, but you folks in the South Bay obviously need to put down that Two-buck upchuck and step up to something truly palatable for a few dollars more, your liver will thank you. I'm telling you once this review is posted it will not last long, I've called the over to this store and inquired about the status of this wine, they have something like twenty cases leftand at this price you have myrun don'twalk recommendation. So hustle your buns down there now, buy a case or twoand please tell them the Cuvee Corner Wine Blog sent ya.

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The winds of change are blowing at Anaba Wines, Sonoma

Date: Tue, Sep 14, 2010 Wine Tasting

My wife and I just took a wonderful trip to Sonoma and Napa, where we tasted some fantastic wine, made some new friends, met up with folks I only knew through Twitter and talked with winemakers, growers and the folks who meet and greet ya in the tasting rooms.

These are the stories I've been waiting to write, since I returned late just this last Thursday. The first winery I wanted to bring to your attention is Anaba Winesin Sonoma, in the heart of the Carneros Appellation. This winery is a new kid on the block relatively speaking. One of the wineries in Sonoma with some very nice Rhone varietalsin their line up.A visit to this winerywas recommended to by a fine gentlemen [cork-dork]who really has his finger on the pulse of the Sonoma Valley, his name is William Allen andyou can read his excellent work over at Simple Hedonism, whichI highly recommend youdo before you plan your next trip.

So Anaba Wines is just down the street from Gloria Ferrer [who I will write up soon]. One reason I wanted to talk about this winery so soon is that their Chardonnay, which I totally loved is heading over to the big wine publications [theglossy page folks]for review, so I wanted to scoop them. This is the power of the Wine Blogging Community, we don't have to wait for "our" articles to come out in print, there's no editor standing over my keyboard telling me what or who to write a story about. Could I use an editor to go over my work before I hit the the big "publish button", umm without a doubt.

But that's beside the point I'm attempting to make, which is Wine Blogs are your key to finding the best values and where to purchase it, before the big boys get their grimy mitts on it. So the bigger point is this, all youpoint seeking lurkers out their in my audience who love a great California Chardonnay that doesn't have Chateau Two by Four on the label and is one I know will score big with folks over at WE or WS, this wine is one you will want to grab before it's all gone. Because once theyreview the wine, it will be gone in a flash.

About Anaba: Interesting name huh? Curious, I asked where the name came from? The answer, "The windsof Sonoma lentus our name" [my first thought, um okay]. Check out their landing page, where you can betreated to a sample of theAnabatic winds which are a blessing to the grapes. Their description ofthe prevailing winds, "Wafting softly, with some gusts and gales, they glide through the vineyard rows. As they encounter steeper slopes and drift upward, they become anabatic winds." The Japanese word Anaba, means "hidden spot" or "special place", but their wines and the quality they have achieved cannot be hidden any longer and with the other reviews I've seen it looks like the cat is out of the bag! By they way they have a lap-top set up in the tasting room, showing exactly how these winds flow through the area.

Why Anaba: According to the website their were a few contributing factors that drove John Sweazey to open the doors at Anaba, "I created Anaba Wines because, quite simply,I justlove the wine business."
He never wanted to become a winemaker. John explains, "My desire to get into the business was fueled by my long-time interest in production, making the best possible wine from the finest grapes, then marketing and selling it. To me, that's the romance of wine." and his answer to the question what is wine?

Why Sonoma:According to Anaba Wines, in 2003John Sweazey [Proprietor] was finally able to begin his search for a premium winegrowing property in Sonoma, finding a serendipitous spot in Western Carneros, where cool winds temper the summer heat, allowing for a longer growing season for his chosen grape varieties.

John explains further, "Sonoma is more attuned to my personality — and is the best place to grow the Rhône Blends and Burgundian varietals that I love." To that I say, you made a brilliant choice the wine is quite fabulous and although they've ripped up all the Pinot Noir plantings they previously had on their small 10 acre property, they've contracted with none other than Gary Pisoni to continue their Pinot Noir program. If you're at all familiar with Pisoni fruit, than your mouth should be watering just about now.

The Wine Maker: At Anaba, Jennifer Marionis director of both winemaking and vineyard operations, enabling her to put her [their words]distinct fingerprint on the wine. Anaba winemaker Jennifer Marion believes the art of winemaking finds its soul in the vineyard. When asked about her winemaking approach she said, "I've always said you cannot trust a winemaker with clean shoes and soft hands,"which is similar to thewell known saying,"You can'ttrust a skinny chef"and she went on to say "My winemaking philosophy is defined by attention to the details in the vineyard as well as the winery."

Full Disclosure: Hey FTC and anyone who may care, yes my tasting fees were waived and I did receive a discount on my purchases, but I was given no samples or other special treatment. Just another bloke stopping by the tasting room to see what was new.

I had the opportunity to try many of their wines last week when I visited, butthe one that really caught my attention [and came homewith me]is the wine I will highlight in this review.

2008 Anaba Sonoma Coast Chardonnay: This is wine I was referring to earlier, which is on its way to be reviewed and I predict will be one of those run don't walk recommendations, just remember you saw it here first.

Fruit Source: The fruit was sourced from Sonoma growers: Bacigalupi, Fallen Leaf, Sangiacomo, Bonneau, and Haddad.

Treatment: 60% of the fruit was fermented in stainless steel tanks at 50 degrees without malolactic fermentation. 40% of our wine was barrel fermented for 11 months in new French oak.

First Swirl: In the glass just brimming with a near golden core and apale rim.

First Sniff: Pronounced aromas of bright crisp pear, green appleleaps from the glass, with a dollop of custard wafting about.

First Sip: Had the taste of crème brulée, lovely Carneros Fruit,a fresh clean wine with a good backbone of acidity, and I picked up some rich tropical notes, threaded through toasty oak notes.

Price and Purchase: This wine can be purchased online through their website or in the tasting room for $28 and in my mind represent a great value for the caliber of wine in the bottle.

Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if you're interested: Thiswas really good juice andscored 93 points on the Cuvée Corner 100 pointscale, please tell them the CCWB sent ya!

2007 Anaba 'J Mc K' Carneros Pinot NoirThis Pinot was fantastic, highly recommended. But this is the last of it, they ripped out this vineyard so get these while you can. $32 and 91 points

2008 Anaba 'Coriol' White, Sonoma ValleyA wonderful Rhone blend, 30% Viognier, 12% Marsanne and 10% Grenache. Very delightful! $28 and89 Points

2007 Anaba 'Coriol' Red, Sonoma ValleyHere's another wine from the Rhone Zone with 38% Grenache, 27% Mourvedre, 25% Petite Sirah and round it out with 10% Counoise. $28 and 89 Points

Anaba Red "Aero Port" Wine, Sonoma Valley, NVA ruby stlye port made with 100% Syrah grapes and fortified with the same grapes. Anaba goes the extra step and takes their grapes to be distilled, so the spirits added is from the very same Syrah grapes. $28 and 90 Points

Anaba White "Aero Port" Wine, Sonoma Valley, NVMade from 100% Viognier grapes and fortified with distilled from their Viognier Grapes. This was one the very best White Ports that I've had the pleasure to taste. Alcohol: 18.4% ABV and the residual sugar: 9.4% selling for $28, 89 Points.

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Viognier your Anti-Chardonnay Wine of Choice

Date: Mon, Sep 13, 2010 Wine Tasting

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We all know someone who is in the ABC club, who knows it may very well be you. The ABC club, what's that you may ask? If you are in it, then you already know, but for those of you are not familiar acronyms it stands for Anything But Chardonnay. Yes I know some of you may love Chardonnay and can't get enough of it, but many folks are in the the ABC camp, in fact just the other day I wastwittering with someone about what they were imbibing on that evening and I queried [rather tongue in cheek], "not Chardonnay is it?" and received a rather blunt response, not only "no" but "Oh Hell No!". I had to laugh to myself a little, because truly folks this response is the mantraof folks would characterize themselves as part of the ABC camp.

Many do feel this as strongly in their disgust for former President Bush as they do in not having anything to with Chardonnay. Some folks feel this way about all white wines in general, I've personally seen this many times. If you go to any tasting event, you'll definitely find white wines tend to be the wine that is left over at the end of the day, next time you throw a party for a bunch of cork-dorks [technical term], check for yourself I believe you'll see that the white wines will be the last to go or still brimming with a nearly full bottles compared to the red counterparts.

I'm sure everyone is familiar with the phrase "Variety Is The Spice Of Life"which is one of my favorite quotes, and one I subscribe to myself.Isnot life much better when it is filled with a "variety" of the things we like? Of course it is. It is inevitable that somewinesin your life will become boring and your palate will crave new tastes, new experiences, so it is nice to have otherwines that you still enjoy to fall back on.

Now there's is nothing wrong with with not liking Chardonnay, it's is very plentiful and you can find it on just about any grocery store shelf. But when you've got to the point, that many seasoned wine drinkers get to, the last thing you want is Chardonnay. Especially when the world is brimming over with a virtual cornucopia of other white wines

Wine with Depth: Think the Miami heat has depth on the bench? Uh no not compared to this champion with roots in the Northern Rhone Valley of France. It's with the idea of "depth" that I bring to your attention a white wine [that'sNOT Chardonnay]with somedepth, complexity, intermixed with bold flavors and floral characteristics, sure to please even the most discriminating palates, yes maybe even you lurkers out there.

I present to you Viognier [pronounced vee-oh-nyah]. Which hails from France's Northern Rhone Valley. In fact, according to wine expertRemington Normanwho has identified two distinct strains of Viognier an "Old World" strain, most common in Condrieu, and a "New World" strain, which is found in the Languedoc and other areas. Although made from the same grape, the two strains produce distinctly different wines and Viognier from Condrieu tends to be on the expensive side of the equation. So with that said, you will mostly find the NW strain here in the states, although if youstretched yourself and did some research you could find yourself some of the Old World style.

Personality Disorder: Uh, huh so you thought only people and maybe even your pets were the only ones with personality disorders, even your wine can have the same dysfunction. There are a couple styles of Viognier to be found and the style you chose depends on whether it has been aged in Oak or Stainless Steel. If the wine has been aged in Oak, it will give a creamy nuances along with its floral expressions you can also look forward to an in heady bouquet of nectarine, lemon peel and lychee complemented by floral notes of lime blossom and honeysuckle.Butif you prefer the more traditional stainless steel approach, look for more clean flavors, higher acid, a somewhat more restrained styleand but at the same time more elegant, meaning more pronounced on the nose and less on the palate.

Pairing Champion:Viognier's are food pairing champions and can stand up nicely rich creamy dishes and butter based sauces. It is especially good as an appetizer pairing wine, would go beautifully with lightly toasted French baguette cut in small bite size slices covered with a base blend of goat cheese, topped withfig paste, orange rind, just fantastic. Viognier also pairs nicely with soft and semisoft cheeses: Fresh chèvre [goat cheese], gruyère, aged gouda, and double and triple creams, give it a swirl, you won't be disappointed.

Other dishes: Foods that I've found pair best with Viognier quite nicely include but are certainly not limited to, Chicken Cutlets based in an anise, tarragon butter sauce, Roasted Salmon covered in a creamy yogurtherb sauce and will also go nicely with any number seafood dishes, shellfish Scallops, lobster, crab, and shrimp.

Shopping Tips: I've gathered together below some great choices that I've run across myself in Viognier, that I'm sure will please a broad range of palates.

K Vintners Viognier 2007 (Columbia Valley; $20). Edgy spices and minerals under honeyed white peach, orange blossom, and apricot. Itasted this one at the 2010 Walla, WallaWine Bloggers conference this past summer and it's just fantastic.

Miner Simpson Vineyard Viognier2007 [Napa Valley, CA $20] Nice minerality and citrusy yet lush, with white peach and apricot nectar. I've tasted and purchasedthis wine on many occasions and is for sure one of my go-to labels. Year after year, it's a well made wine.

Cold Heaven Viognier 2007 [Sta. Rita Hills, CA $24] Earthy, restrained style, with stone-fruit blossoms, juicy citrus, and white peach notes. I've had this wine a few times and for folks who likethe "dry"approach this would be a great choice, look for the blue label.

Les Jamelles Viognier 2007 [Languedoc-Roussillon, Vin de Pays d'Oc France $10] In the glass you have lovely pale gold color core and watery rim.Nose: A rich, very aromatic wine, with lots of characteristic fruity scents, and typical varietal aromas, such as apricots and fresh white peaches a small bit of white pepper. This wine represents a great value.

Fess Parker Viognier 2008 [Santa Barbara, CA $20] Fess Parker Viognier's like many othersdisplays great fruit focus, offering peach, apricot and pear notes that are ripe and well-structured, with a supple texture. I've had this wine also on many occasions and folks I'm telling ya it is just fantastic California representative style of Viognier.

ServingTips: I recommend tasting this wines chilled, but not so cold as you will lock in many of the wonderful perfume like aromas escaping from the glass, but served too warm and it may resemble more of a petrol profile and you may be thinking about putting it the gas tank instead of your wine glass.

From the wonderful folks atWine Dine TVI present to you the Viognier as the anti-Chardonnay word of the day!

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Call me a Cab please, take me to 2006 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon in SBC

Date: Tue, Aug 31, 2010 Wine Tasting

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Getting a cab in some cities and some situations can be down right difficult, but to be honest gone are the days of showing some leg, or waving umbrellas to grab a cabbies attention. But there you're standing on the sidewalk, facing traffic and . . . nothing. Geez what do have to do to get a "Cab"? Many folks on that same crowded cornermaybe looking at you wondering to themselves, what are you doing flailing about? Perhaps you're thinking, "duh,I'm obviously waiting for a Cab". But why won't they stop?

With everyone [clamoring masses] standing ona corner next to youit can bedifficult to find a goodCab, one that isclean, with good structure, paneled with well integratedFrench Oak, plush leather accents bound around some dark fruits, with a bouquet of cedar, cigar box, and currant,which is ready to drink now but will develop further with age. You have to figure out a way to flag this kind of Cab [talking vino now]down, what to do, wave your hand at them or something or should you whistle, jump up and down scream "hey cabbieeeee?" A possible solution for you just maybe to read a blog like mine or one of the many others out there, see my blog roll down to the right. Blogs are a great source for getting the skinny on great tasting juice at reasonable prices.

Most of those methods mentioned above may or may not be effective for hailing a cab to your next destination, however when you're are looking for a wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon you have no further to look than the one I'm reviewing for you today. But if you'd like to do more shopping,youwill ultimately have toread some great blogs, walk down many wine store aisles,go to myriad tasting, do some spitting, pouring outand yes even drive or fly out to wine country [called a vacation]in search of a good "Cab"! That is what I will be doing shortly myself, making another trip up the coast to Napa and Sonoma Valley.

I must have flailed my arms correctly because this time Ihave flagged one downthat's reasonably priced and will definitely take your palate where it has always wanted to go, that place is happy land! I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. You can be too, just get your "happy" little self down to Jonathon's or the San Diego Wine Company, pick up a few bottles, get together with some friends and tweet away the evening about Cabernet Sauvignon the King of Wine.

In keeping with the joys of opening a fat Cabernet Sauvignon,just before firing up your grill tomake something tasting,I present to you the concept of one Mr.Rick Bakasthe Social Network Marketing Guru forSt Supery"Cabernet Day" onThursday Sept. 2nd which will be on all social media sites. So if you're reading this today, you still have time to join in on thecelebration. The celebration of what you maybe asking, the "king of grapes". There two ways you can participate; either in person or online by joining the 50+ tweetups around the globe and the people who have all joined in on via Twitter with the hash tag
#Cabernet Day.

Well the fast approaching InternationalCabernet Day is on the way and I wanted to participate by providing the review of this wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon hailing from the brand spanking new “Happy canyon of Santa Barbara” AVA, with no further ado, I present to you the 2006 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Valley.

First Swirl: In the glass, this was bright and clear despite it not being filtered, the core was a dark ruby to purple in color and opaque, while the legs were reflecting the core.

First Sniff: The opportunity to put this wine through it paces occurred during my WSET Advanced Certification class, where learning "proper"wine evaluation is the fun part of the instruction. This wine had a clean, pronounced nose, brimming with dusty mocha, cigar box, black pepper and currant.

First Sip: I found this wine to have mouth watering balanced acidity and well integrated tannins, which obviously aged on French Oak, appealing flavors of cocoa, blackberry and cherries swirling about to lithe long coffee type finish. Plush elegance!

Aging: After 18 months in 75% new French oak and a light fining with 3 fresh egg whites per barrel, the 2006 Star Lane Cabernet was bottled unfiltered.

Composition and ABV: A blend of four different grapes, with 78% Cabernet Sauvignon leading the pack, followedby18% Cabernet Franc 3% Petit Verdot and just a drop of Malbec, presumably to add color and body. The ABV on this wine is hardly noticable 15.1%.

Price and Where to Purchase: You can purchase this wine from their website for $42 or you can buy it, here in San Diego at Jonathan's Marketin La Jolla or Del Mar for [I assume] under $40 each, but when I called they didn't know the price or you can pick it up at San Diego Wine Companywho's selling it for $36.95 each or if you want to buy 3 cases or more they will sell it for $33.95 each.

Fruit Source: The grapes are harvested from three different blocks, in fact they're the warmest and the highest elevation vineyard in the Happy Canyon AVA [American Viticulture Area]. Backing up to the lower slopes of the San Rafael Mountains which loom high above the ranch, Star Lane features a unique range of weathered sand, gravel and alluvial cobbles over a clay/loam subsoil.

My Recommendation: Oh boy this cab ride should cost you a lot more, good thing the meter isn't still running. I would run down and grab some today if you are planning on this for the Cabernet Day, then I would grab at least 3 one to open that night, and two to open later. You won't be disappointed, definitely well built solid wine that is drinking excellent now, but is built to age a few more years. For some the price of the wine most likely knocks it out of the "everyday" drinker category, however you don't want to missing grabbing some of this wine and storing them as a weekend wine or as one to give as a gift.

Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored91 points on the Cuvée Corner 100 point and would have scored a little higher if the price point was a bit lower, but since availability is high and the quality is quite amazing it received 91 points.

The Point System: I know there's a lot of discussion going around on the point system, and how unfair it is and blah, blah, blah. But nothing in this life will ever be completely fair or completely just. So argue against it if you like, but I believe it's here to stay, just accept it.The point system islike any other great tool, if used correctly and I believe it can be, than it will reward your palate over and over. One rule is get to know your reviewer, try to find out if they have a New World Palate or an Old World Palate and match it up your own. Some will say I have neither, but c'mon on the majority of us gravitate to onestyle or the other if we just admit it.

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