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Graham's Six Grapes Reserve Port

Date: Thu, Nov 15, 2012 Wine Business

I often wondered over the past three or four years if I would ever be able to enjoy a nice basic Port wine. I've tried them occasionally over time, but always found them too sweet for my palate. As late as three years ago, I was sent a sample of Graham's Six Grapes Reserve Port($20) and after opening and taking one taste, I handed the bottle over to Shirley to use in her recipes that called for Port or Sherry. This was also a time when any sweet wine, including white wines, were not to my liking. Of course, over time, that has changed, so after receiving another sample of the same wine, I held on to it for a few weeks, waiting for the right time to desire something sweet, yet something red. That moment finally came last Tuesday, as I sat down to watch the 2012 Presidential election coverage.
First glass was going to be more like a test to see if I would be wanting to pour a second glass or just place the bottle in with Shirley's cooking supplies. Surprisingly that test ended after the first sip. I am keeping this bottle.
The color was a very dark purple. Aromas were like dark chocolate covered cherries with plum and bramble berry. In the mouth, flavors were much the same with some toast and spice and very smooth. The finish was short to medium with flavors of plum and blackberry. After one glass, I diced up some extra sharp cheddar cheese to have with a second glass. Pairing was superb. I'm not allowed to eat many desserts now, but I think I may sneak in a slice of rich deep chocolate cake with my next glass.
Watch for some future reviews of Port wines on this blog. I will need a few more tastings before I can say I am a fan, but the Graham's Six Grapes Reserve has me wanting more.

Grahams Six Grapes is made from six Port-grape varieties, hence the name: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Amarela and Tintao Cão.
Six Grapes is bottled ready to drink after about five years of cask aging. It has a t-cap closure, which means that you don't need a corkscrew to open it and that it should stay fresh for up to two months if stored in a cool, dark place or the refrigerator. Serve it in a glass with at least a six ounce capacity so that you may appreciate the wine's aromas. Six Grapes pairs particularly well with dark chocolate, or as I found, sharp hard cheese, but is also fantastic on its own as a luscious dessert in a glass.

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Red Wines From The Seeker

Date: Wed, Nov 7, 2012 Wine Business

The Seeker Wines is a new line of carefully curated wines created for those who love to seek adventure. The wines are sourced from iconic regions around the globe, and crafted to be authentic, easy-drinking and affordable.
The Seeker line was created by a family company that called on its 65 years of experience to source from the best family owned wineries in the world at an affordable price.

Recently, I was sent samples of their five available varietals. (An un-oaked Chardonnay from California, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a French Pinot Noir, a Cabernet Sauvignon discovered in Chile and from the Andes Mountains in Mendoza, Argentina, a Malbec).
Last week, I opened the three red varietals with meals of grilled burgers with the Cabernet, pork roast with the Malbec and pizza with the Pinot Noir. Pairings went well and all three were finished later in the evening with cheese and crackers.
I found the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, a little heavy on chocolate and spice. The tasting notes suggested ripe black and blue berries and if present they were overwhelmed by the spices and aromas from the five months in oak. I would have liked to keep this bottle for a few years. It should improve well with a little aging and is a decent wine at a good value($15)
Next evening, with a pork roast, I uncorked the 2010 Malbec, a blend of 85% Malbec, 10% Bonarda and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina. This was the only wine out of the five samples that had a cork closure. Others were twist off caps. The Malbec was also the best of reds. Aromas were filled with red raspberries, cherry, plum and black currants. Almost silky smooth in the mouth with lots of cherry and plum leading to a medium to long finish. This very versatile red would have paired well on any of the three nights.
The last wine, opened on a Thursday evening with a cheese pizza while watching the NFL on the big screen, was the Pinot Noir from the Auvergne region of France. Raspberry and cherry aromas with hints cinnamon were light, but very nice. Nice balance on the palate with flavors of dark cherry, some plum and strawberry and a little earth. The Malbec may have been the best of the reds, but the Pinot Noir and cheese pizza was to best pairing.
All three of The Seeker red wines are great values at $15. They are ready to drink now, but would keep the Cabernet for a few years. Nice wines, nice price. Recommended.

Follow The Seeker Wines on Twitter and Facebook.

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Finger Lakes 2011 Rieslings

Date: Tue, Oct 30, 2012 Wine Business

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity, along with 23 other wine bloggers and writers and a panel of eight winemakers to attend a virtual tasting celebrating the release of the 2011 Finger Lakes Rieslings. This was the second year I was given this opportunity, so I thought this would be a great time to compare the 2011 vintage against an extraordinary 2010. What I did learn is that, at least for me, without tasting both vintages together it is almost impossible to make a comparison based on notes or reviews from last year. So, I'll put it bluntly, the 2011 vintage is as good as the 2010. Why?? Because I liked them both, period.
Each participant in the virtual tasting was sent eight Rieslings. The samples were a very nice representation of different growing regions within the Finger Lakes. Here is what we tasted:
Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars 2011 Dry Riesling
Ravines Wine Cellars 2011 Dry Riesling
Lucas Vineyards 2011 Dry Riesling
Sheldrake Point Winery 2011 Dry Riesling
Fox Run Vineyards 2011 Reserve Riesling
Swedish Hill Winery 2011 Riesling
Lakewood Vineyards 2011 Riesling
Knapp Winery & Vineyard 2011 Riesling

The dry Rieslings were tasted first. Residual sugar contents ranged from .6% to 1.0%. The dry and semi-dry Finger Lakes Rieslings have always been my favorite, but as my wine experience broadened to were I can now enjoy the sweeter style wines, I enjoy them all equally.
I had already posted my review on the Dr. Frank and Ravines in July. The remaining two I tasted during the week leading up to the virtual tasting and found them to be very much the same. Lemon and grapefruit like citrus, orange zest with some pineapple, hints of green apple and slate aromas. Nice acidity and mineral with citrus and peach, nectarine and apricot flavors filling the mouth. I like the drier Riesling with salmon, haddock, scallops and grilled or roasted chicken.
The second flight of tastings contained residual sugar from 2.2% to 3.4%. Not really a sweet, but more of a semi-sweet Riesling. When trying to come up with a short phrase to describe or compare the Riesling to the dry Riesling, I would have to say "more eloquent."
I found lots of aromas of honeysuckle, melon, tropical fruits, pineapple, pink grapefruit and lime. Nice, well balanced with flavors of tropical fruits, melon, juicy ripened peach, citrus, pineapple and a little slate with honey. All these wines are fantastic with spicy oriental foods or white meats. I like these sweeter Rieslings with burritos and quesadillas loaded with jalepeno peppers and BBQ chicken with cajun style rubs.
Now to stock up on Finger Lakes Riesling and more. On Dec.1st we will be attending the Holiday Shopping Spree on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail and if a kind soul wants to rid themselves of two or three tickets to the second week end(sold out) of Deck the Halls on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, we'll be there also.

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Inkberry Mountain Estate Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Date: Mon, Oct 1, 2012 Wine Business

Starting to find a spot on my most liked wine list for Cabernet blends. I recently reviewed a Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese from Italy that was very enjoyable and now found a very tasty Shiraz/Cabernet blend from the Central Ranges of Australia, an Inkberry Mountain Estate 2010($13). A blend of 60% Shiraz and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.

*Inkberry Shiraz Cabernet is 100% estate grown and crafted from our high elevation Mountain Estate. This extreme elevation exposes our grapes to an intense amount of sunlight and UV rays. This generous sunlight gives our small grapes an amazingly dark,"inky" color. *Inkberry.com

I opened this one while watching some late night TV. I also diced up a few bites of extra sharp cheddar cheese and crackers to munch on with the wine. I enjoyed a few glasses before bed and finished, very nicely, the following evening with some BBQ pork ribs.
On the nose I got both red and black berries with plum and some spice. Also got a little mineral aroma, reminiscent of coal dust. Growing up in the coal region of Pennsylvania, that aroma is kinda easy to pick up, but I never got that in a wine before, even with PA wines. The berries and plum were still there on the palate with a little more spice and some chocolate. The finish was moderate, spicey with hints of pepper and espresso. Very enjoyable wine with a very nice price and very highly recommended.

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Banfi Col Di Sasso Toscana 2010

Date: Thu, Sep 27, 2012 Wine Business

This week I started craving a Thanksgiving style Turkey dinner, so Shirley obliged with an all day preparation along with a little assistance from moi. While in the kitchen, in Shirley's way, I received a package with two wines for review. One of these wines was just begging to be opened immediately, enjoy a glass now and save the rest for the turkey dinner. The wine: Banfi Col di Sasso 2010($9), a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. I posted before, what I think of Banfi wines (one of my Italian favorites), so you know why I was ready to uncork this on right away.
A nice, bright ruby red color with aromas of cherry, plum and some strawberry on the nose. Soft tannins with plum and hints of blackberry and a little earth in the mouth leading to a moderate finish with a bit of currant and cinnamon. This $9 wine was nice before the dinner and excellent with the dinner. I had only a sip left to try with some Nutella after dinner and that was also a nice match. Very easy red table wine to drink and very easy on the wallet. Very Highly Recommended.

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Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco Rioja Seleccion de Familia Crianza 2008

Date: Mon, Sep 24, 2012 Wine Business

I guess there comes a time when one should breakaway and wean themselves from life long habits that one may call tradition. That is what I am now trying desperately to do when it comes to matching my Italian food. For 40+ years, it has always been, Italian food means Italian wine. Even after starting this blog, expanding the palate and advocating a policy of "drink what you like, but always give other wines a chance," I would not stray from my 'tradition.' But, the time has come to heed my own advice, although I will begin with baby steps. That is, I am not going to stray that far to begin. How about Spain for beginning this trek? The meal: a simple pasta covered with Shirley's homemade sauce and sprinkled with a little Parmigiano-Reggiano and a side salad. The wine: Dinastia Vivanco Crianza 2008($18) made for 100% Tempranillo grapes that is aged for 16 months in French and American oak.
I chose the wine from the Rioja region of Spain, because I find it's characteristics are not that much different than those of my usual Italian red table wine, Chianti. The Crianza is a little bolder, but both have very nice and similar fruit and berries aromas and taste.
Right out of the bottle, I knew this would be one of the better Rioja wines I've tasted. Lots of plum and cherry aromas with just a bit of spice and vanilla. In the mouth, I got cherry, a little cinnamon, some tobacco and a touch of damp woodsy soil with soft tannins and a little acid like feel on the sides of the mouth. The wine finished nice and smooth with spice notes and some leather. Much more than expected and a wine I am sure to try again at this price and the fact that it paired very nicely with the pasta and Italian sauce. Wine Spectator magazine selected the Dinastia Vivanco Crianza 2008 amongst its list of Top 100 Wines of 2011. The wine made by Rafael Vivanco is the top ranked Rioja on the list, appearing at number 59, and one of only 7 Spanish wines to make the top flight. Just as I expected after the first aromas, this was one of the best Rioja wines I've tasted. Nice wine, nice price and very highly recommended.

You should also notice the unique shape of a bottle of Dinastia Vivanco. It's a recreation of a shape found in the family’s museum, a bottle dating back to the 18th century when each glass bottle was still individually crafted by a skilled glass blower. The design was chosen to reflect the ancient history of Rioja wine.

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Banfi Tavernelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Date: Fri, Sep 21, 2012 Wine Business

Last week while on my way to the mall to allow Shirley to spend some money, I stopped into one of my favorite wine shops, Vinomania. I wasn't planning on walking out with any wines, just stopped in to say hi to shop owner, Gary Decker. But, after taking a small walk around the shop while Gary was busy, I found a few wines that I just had to buy. One was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Castello Banfi, a 2006 Tavernelle ($40). This wine is from Banfi's Estate vineyards near the hamlet of Tavernelle, in the southern hills of Montalcino. A bit above my normal price range, but some of my best Cabernet Sauvignon's are from Italy and Castello Banfi has always been among my favorite Italian producers. I would usually save a wine like this for some thick grilled burgers or a grilled steak, but later that evening with a left over pizza slice and some extra sharp cheddar bites, I opened the Banfi Cab/Sauv. and settled in for some Thursday night NFL.
The aromas coming from this dark ruby red wine were every bit what I expected. Currant, some blackberry and blueberry with tobacco, licorice and a faint hint of leather. A very pleasing mouthfeel full of berries, mocha and spice leading to a long dry finish with blackberry and spice. The pizza and cheese bites were a great match, but now I am dreaming of a grilled medium rare rib eye or a thick juicy Black Angus burger and a Castello Banfi Tavernelle Cabernet Sauvignon. Very highly recommended.

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Frog's Leap Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Date: Tue, Sep 18, 2012 Wine Business

Tuesday afternoon I had to take a wine run to one of our local Wine & Spirits shops to pick up a white wine to serve with broiled salmon and snow crab. My first thoughts were of a dry or semi-dry Finger Lakes Riesling, but while there I decided on a California Sauvignon Blanc and found one that looked very interesting, a Frog's Leap Rutherford Napa Valley 2010.($22). Interesting because of the connection of Frog's Leap and the New York Finger Lakes.

Frog's Leap was founded by the Williams family, on a spot along Mill Creek known as the Frog Farm. At the helm of Frog's Leap is John Williams, winemaker and former dairy farmer from upstate New York.
John Williams grew up in Western New York and originally attended Cornell University to extend his studies as a dairyman. A fortuitous work-study program at Taylor Wine Company and a few bottles of wine later, John entered the Enology and Viticulture Masters Program at UC Davis. Following Davis, he returned to the Finger Lakes as the start-up winemaker at Glenora Wine Cellars. Taking inspiration from his first Napa Valley winemaking post in the cellars of Stag's Leap, John began making wine commercially in 1981 and named the new operation "Frog's Leap."
Winemakers John Williams and Paula Moschetti hand-craft an annual production of almost 60,000 cases composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel.
Frog's Leap produces some of Napa Valley's finest wines and, undoubtedly, has one of the wine world's best mottos: "Time's Fun When You're Having Flies."
Before I forget, Frog's Leap grapes are organically grown. See here...

The wines color was typical Sauvignon Blanc, bright, pale with a greenish hue. Nice aromas of green apple, grapefruit, lemon peel and melon with some honeysuckle filled the glass. In the mouth the wine was nicely balanced with grapefruit, lemon, some green apple and a little slate like minerality. The finish was lengthy with lots of grapefruit, some lemon zest and hints of peach. Very much reminded me of some French Sauvignon Blancs. Only drawback is the price. I found many very nice Sauvignon Blancs under $15 over the past few years and I paid $22 locally for the Frog's Leap. You can find this wine on-line for as low as $17 and I may even be able to find a much lower price by shopping around. Then again, this was a delicious and refreshing wine that I just may buy again. Highly Recommended

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Middle Sister Rebel Red NV

Date: Wed, Sep 12, 2012 Wine Business

38% Zinfandel, 34% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, 2% mixed red varietals. 100% California grapes with 42% from the Lodi appellation. That is the blend in what I found to be a very delightful party wine, Middle Sister Rebel Red Non Vintage.($12)
I opened the wine while munching on some spicy chicken burritos layered with a mix of three cheeses, tomatoes, lettuce, some medium hot peppers and medium hot salsa and I was looking for a nice red table wine for pairing.
Color was a very bright ruby red, which looked awesome on a very sunny early evening on the patio. Lots of berry aromas right out of the bottle. Aromas were filled with blueberry, blackberry, elderberry, raspberry and a very subtle hint of smoke. In the mouth the Rebel Red was loaded with black and red fruits and some nice black pepper. The medium finish was smooth with blackberry and a little earthiness. There was also a very tiny suggestion of sweetness which made the wine a very nice pairing with the burritos. A very nice versatile wine that will pair well with many dishes. Highly Recommended

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Never Forget!

Date: Tue, Sep 11, 2012 Wine Business

Remembering 9-11-2001

God Bless America

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Borsao Berola 2008

Date: Fri, Sep 7, 2012 Wine Business

When shopping for wines in any shop, I like to hear recommendations from the staff, even if the staff is only one clerk in a small shop. I do sometimes look the other way when the clerk or stock boy is recommending a bottle in a display that consist of four to six open boxes sitting on top of 25 to 30 unopened boxes of that same wine. Somebody ordered a pallet of wine and now they have to get rid of them. Especially true, when the wine is new or one that is not among their regular stock. But, last week a young lady at a small shop was persistent and convinced me to try a Spanish wine they just received, a Borsao Berola 2008 ($15), a blend of 70% Garnacha, 20% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Lot's of berry aroma's like, blueberry, blackberry and some strawberry with some anise but a little heavy on vanilla. Mouthfeel was smooth with some spice, cherry and smoke. Also tasted a bit of earth or damp forest soil. Finish was medium to long with hints of pepper, vanilla, plum and tobacco. This Berola will age very nicely and the $15 price tag is, I think, outrageously low. I'm heading back to this shop later this week for a wine tasting and I will be sure to pick up a few more of the Borsao Berola. Very Highly Recommended

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Matua Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Date: Tue, Sep 4, 2012 Wine Business

This past weekend Shirley cooked up some of her BBQ pork ribs for a quick dinner. Normally I would like a nice Pinot Noir or Cab Franc with her ribs, but it was a very warm day and I just returned from a local wine shop with a Sauvignon Blanc I was anxious to try, A Matua Valley Marlborough 2011 ($11)
Founded in 1974, Matua Valley was the first New Zealand winery to produce Sauvignon Blanc, establishing them as innovators and pioneers of New Zealand viticulture. That is why I chose this wine over several others on the shelf.
The wine showed a very clear, bright with a greenish hue color that you would expect in a Sauvignon Blanc. There was a little bit of mineral aroma at first, but after one swirl aromas were full of lemon/lime and tropical fruits with a hint of melon and green apples. Nice acidity with a medium length tropical fruit finish made for a very refreshing wine.
A very nice everyday wine at a very reasonable price.Try this wine with any white fish or light summer salads or just sipping with a light cheese. Recommended

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Honig Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Date: Thu, Aug 30, 2012 Wine Business

photo by Shirley
For the few that did not know, today was the 3rd Annual National Cabernet Day. It happened to be a very warm day here in CNY and a nice full bodied red, like Cabernet Sauvignon, is be much better suited for a chilly autumn or very cold winter day, but then again, any time is nice for a good Cab Sauv. Dinner menu was already set, so I had to pair a 2009 Honig Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($30) with grilled salmon, tomato-cucumber salad and fried green tomatos, zucchini, baby bellas and stuffed zucchini flowers.
I opened and decanted a few hours before lighting up the grill, but only for Shirley to take a few photos. That may have been a blessing, because I stole a little taste and found this was going to be an OK wine, but maybe a little too earthy or musty. Two hours later while grilling the fish I poured a glass and found a much different wine.
The wine had a nice deep garnet red color. Lots of dark fruit aromas of black cherry, currant, blackberry and some plum with hints of smoke, earth and vanilla on the nose. Nice and smooth in the mouth with some spice, anise and blackberry, also some burnt wood and vanilla. The finish was very long with some ripe tannins, dark plum and blackberry. Very nice wine right now and will only get better with age. I'll have to get a few to lay down for a few years and maybe a few for autumn and winter of this year.
As far as tonight's pairing, the wine went very nicely with the salmon, but not so well with the fried veggies. The Honig Cabernet Sauvignon was also fantastic sipping with a few bites of extra sharp cheddar later on. A very nice $30 wine and Highly Recommended.

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Bogle Essential Red 2009

Date: Sun, Aug 26, 2012 Wine Business

I knew when I started this blog in 2008, or was at least hoping, that my very narrow wine palate was going to expand immensely and that I would or should begin to appreciate many of the wines produced in today's world. I am happy to say that is exactly what has occurred. The biggest surprise to me is with white wines, but I also realize that I found a new appreciation for many of the fantastic red wines and blends I would have never tried if not for this blog, especially those from California. One of my favorite wineries from California is Bogle Vineyards in Clarksburg.
Clarksburg is located in the Sacramento river delta region, east of San Francisco, and south of Napa. In general, the Sacramento River Delta region is best known for it’s zinfandels, and a number of Italian varietals.
I have reviewed the Bogle Peite Sirah and the Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel and recently found a Bogle wine I have not seen on local shelves before. The Bogle Vineyards Essential Red 2009($10) is a blend of Old Vines Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sounds like a very complex blend and the aromas and taste are just that.
When I think of what a red wine should look like (generically) this is it, a nice bright deep garnet red. Aromas were at first more vanilla, tobacco, cigar box like, but after a short time I started getting lots of fruit, like plum, currant and black cherry. This is one of those wines that just explodes in the mouth with lots of dark fruit, licorice, some boysenberry and vanilla and finished very long.
I served this wine with chicken quesadillas and later with some sharp cheddar which paired very nicely with both. A steal at $10, this wine is very Highly Recommended.

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