Archive for December, 2007

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Not much to say today, but I don’t want too many days to go by between posts so just a quickie tonight.

Let me start by apologizing for my last post (ie. rant). I apparently overreacted to a post elsewhere regarding wines which had seemingly “changed” between a critic’s first and second tasting. I gather this is not the most common phenomena, but it is possibly a byproduct of young wine producers heeding a critics critique & intentionally altering their product. I do stand by my strong feelings on the matter & further DO NOT believe that ANYONE, consumer & producer alike, should allow a critic too much influence. But I suppose that sales is the bottom line and if the critic knows what people like and can help the producers to understand what that is, then maybe it is not such a terrible thing…most of us after all do need to earn a living.

Tomorrow night is New Years. Will you be drinking bubbly?

I recently picked up a couple of bottles of Yarden blanc de blancs 2000. A very well regarded vintage sparkling wine. So well regarded that it unexpectedly appeared on a list of random sparkling wines on justwinepoints.com and was given a very respectable 92 points, while The Wall Street Journal called it a wonderful international sparkling wine. I know, I know, I just got through chastising those who let points/critics dictate their wine enjoyment, but nobody is perfect , right?!?

Happy New Year!!! Hope it is a year filled with enjoying wines that YOU LIKE…regardless of what others say about said wine.

WTG.

Wine critics – what good are they?

Friday, December 28th, 2007

This is a scary topic for a post. It is pretty much a catch-22. If I love critics I am a suck-up & a “score-whore”. If I hate them then I am a non-conformist joining the ranks of those who say down with “The Man”. And anywhere in between and I am an indecisive, politically correct, good for nothing.

Real generally…

Wine critics are GREAT. They help us weave our way through a daunting maze of products and help us to determine which of these products are worth our time.

Wine critics are BAD. They know nothing about us yet tell us what we should like, should not like, what brands we should value & patron, and whose wines we should not dare touch with a 10 foot pole.

I’m writing about critics today as a topic came up on a message board I frequent. Interestingly enough, not too many people on the board (at least initially) seemed to pick up on this “issue”. The board is moderated by Daniel Rogov, Israel’s preeminent wine critic. Rogov began a post about several wines he reviewed by stating the following…

Although many of the wines I re-tasted during this two day voyage (17 and 18 December) showed a high level of consistency between this and earlier tastings, some showed so dramatically different and almost invariably better that one cannot help but wonder in a few cases at least precisely what happened between tastings. Among the possibilities – wines coming into their own, wines that have been somehow “doctored”, separate bottlings from different batches or even different grapes.

This last statement was what i found most disconcerting. Do wine critics and the scores they give have such an influence in todays society that wineries will resort to misrepresenting themselves so as to gain a better review or higher score – assuming this will result in their selling more wine or gaining a better reputation??? Don’t the consumers who ultimately buy said wine know enough that if the “REAL” product is crap they will know it and NOT buy it. To take things a step further, the consumer and their ultimate realization that the wine does not live up to its review might even resent the misrepresentation and speak BADLY about the wine.

And what about the critic? Given the apparent POWER that critics have in determining a winery’s ultimate success or failure has led many a critic to be reviled and loathed by wineries whose products did not receive positive reviews. Does the associated jealousy & hatred justify providing the critic with samples which do not properly represent the product the critic thinks he/she is reviewing??? Should the winery not consider their disappointment & think of the credibility the critic will lose???

We are living in an age where the PURE has become UN-pure. Athletes in America’s “past time” (baseball) take steroids or other artificial enhancers so that they can hit more home runs or pitch the ball faster. CEO’s & politicians lie, cheat & steal so that they can accumulate greater wealth & power.

I LOVE WINE. Its purity. Its simplicity. Its diversity. Its inebriating effects :-)

MUST wine be another means for people to lie, cheat & steal to accumulate more fame, fortune & wealth? Saddens me…but I suppose that is life. Wake up and smell the casis, mocha & licorice Wine Tasting Guy… WINE is a business like any other. Play by its rules or be stuck drinking that Australian Wine with the critter label or that Californian wine with the nickname that starts with a “two” and whose second & third words rhyme with Fu… I mean “truck’.

OK, it ain’t that bad. But drama sells. I promise to revisit the whole critic issue in future posts. But for now, next time you pick up a bottle of wine at a shop and consider purchasing it because some critic said it is a 92 and is elegant, with silky something & velvety something else – think twice… and consider trying it for yourself before making the investment.

Happy wine drinking!!!!

WTG.

Drinking Wine Linked to Lower Risk of Lung Cancer

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Just got the news from good ole’ Wine Spectator.  (http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Features/0,1197,4171,00.html)

Of note however is that beer & spirits led to elevated risk.  “Drinking wine is associated with a lower risk of developing lung cancer, according to a meta-analysis published in the November issue of Cancer Epidemiological Markers & Prevention. Those who consume more than one serving of beer or spirits in any amount, however, were found to have an elevated risk.”

Yeah, I know, “THEY come out with a new study every day”…but hey, we believe what we want to believe anyway right?

So drink away friends – it is good for you (in moderation of course)!!!!

Happy Almost New Year!!

WTG.

Beer drinking dogs

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Yes, this is supposed to be a WINE related blog. But this story was too funny not to blog.

Now giving pets of any type alcohol is NOT funny (ok, maybe it is but I certainly do not condone it), but this “RESEARCH STUDY” left me with images of drunk dogs stumbling around a lab. Here is the piece…

GUINNESS IS GOOD FOR YOU

Remember that old advertising slogan “Guinness is Good for You” on signs? New research supports that claim. A pint of Guinness a day may work as well as an aspirin to prevent heart clots that raise the risk of heart attacks. Drinking regular lager does not yield the same benefits, experts from University of Wisconsin told a conference yesterday, although alcohol of any type does help reduce clots.

 

The Wisconsin team tested the health-giving properties of stout against lager by giving it to dogs who had narrowed arteries similar to those in heart disease. They found that those given the Guinness had reduced clotting activity in their blood, but not those given lager.

 

The researchers told a meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Florida, that the most benefit they saw was from 24 fluid ounces of Guinness taken at mealtimes. They believe that “antioxidant compounds” in the Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for the health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls.

 

 

 

You know the famous painting of the dogs playing poker?  Now take those same dogs sitting around a table and picture them each with a pint of Guinness.

 

BRILLIANT!!!

 

Happy Holidays everyone…

WTG

Wine Ingredients (part 2)

Monday, December 24th, 2007

I blogged this when Bonny Doon first released the news that they would be including ingredients on their labels.  They have just released more specific information, and have indicated that they will be including 2 types of ingredient notifications.   The first are for those ingredients that remain in the wine, and the second, for those that are used in the winemaking process but are then REMOVED from said wine.

Randall Grahm Discloses All on New Labels

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Bonny Doon Vineyard labels will disclose all wine ingredients beginning with the 2007 vintage white and 2006 vintage red wines. As of 2008, consumers will note that all ingredients are listed in two sections on the back label of each bottle of Bonny Doon wine. The first section highlights the wines basic ingredients, i.e. grapes and sulfur dioxide, a preservative, found in the wine. The second section will point out ingredients used in the production of the wine such as bentonite, (a type of clay used to clarify wine prior to bottling) that essentially no longer remain in the wine.I’m writing about this as I really find it to be a real breakthrough for the wine industry (specifically as someone who prefers to know what it is that I am eating/drinking).  I wonder how others who restrict certain ingredients from their diet feel about ingredients used strictly for clarifying wine – meaning the ingredients are added and then removed.  If you were trying to avoid said ingredients and were told it was added and then removed, how would you feel about it???

I welcome comments and at some point if I ever get an “email me” button up, I welcome direct contact as well.

Happy holidays.  Drink wine, but DO IT safely!!!!

WTG

Israeli Wine – Wine Advocate ” Modern Israel: A Survey (A Work in Progress)”

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Well ladies and gentlemen, the results are in.

I will be copying a list of wines & their scores from Israeli Wine Critic Daniel Rogov’s “Wine & Food Forum”.  I am waiting for my physical copy of the issue to arrive before I comment specifically.  The only thing I would like to share is my excitement for a 92 score given to a wine I worked on – The TZORA “Or” dessert wine.  No, I was not the winemaker & admittedly, not even as assistant, but I DID help out and as such I take pride in said wine’s positive review.

More comments later.  Without further ado, the scores…

Golan Heights Winery, Heightswine, Yarden, 2005, Score 93
Golan Heights Winery, Katzrin, 2003, Score 91
Golan Heights Winery, Chardonnay, Odem Organic, 2005, Score 86
Golan Heights Winery, Viognier, Yarden, 2005 Score 86
Golan Heights Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarden, 2003 Score 86
Golan Heights Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, El Rom, Yarden, 2003 Score 88
Golan Heights Winery, Blanc de Blancs, Yarden 2000 Score 86

Yatir, Ya’ar Yatir, 2003 Score 93
Yatir, Cabernet-Merlot-Shiraz, 2003 Score 90

Castel, Grand Vin 2004 Score 92
Castel, Chardonnay, 2005 Score 91
Castel, Petit Castel, 2005 Score 90

Tzora, Or, Dessert Wine, 2006 Score 92”

Carmel, Limited Edition, 2004 Score 90
Carmel, Gewurztraminer, Sha’al, 2005 Score 90
Carmel, Cabdernet Sauvignon, Kayoumi, 2004 Score 89
Carmel, Shiraz, Kayoumi, 2004 Score 88
Carmel, Petite Sirah, Appelation, 2005 Score 88

Clos de Gat, Syrah, Sycra, 2004 Score 90
Clos de Gat, Red Blend, 2003, Score 89
Clos de Gat, Chardonnay, 2005 Score 89
Clos de Gat, Syrah, Har’El, 2005 Score 88
Clos de Gat, Merlot, Sycra, 2003 Score 86

Tulip, Syrah, Reserve 90
Tulip, Shiraz, Mostly 88

Galil Mountain, Yiron, 2003, Score 90
Galil Mountain, Pinot Noir, 2005 Score 87

Pelter,Shiraz T-Selection 2004 Score 90
Pelter, Cabernet Franc, T-Selection 2005 Score 79
Margalit, Enigma, 2005 Score 89
Margalit Cabernet Franc, 2005 Score 88
Margalit, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005 Score 87

Tabor, Mescha, 2003 Score 89

Flam, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2004 Score 89
Flam, Classico, 2005, Score 87

Vitkin, Petite Syrah, 2004 Score 89
Vitkin, Cabernet Franc, 2004 Score 85

Ella Valley Vineyards, Merlot, Vineyard’s Choice 2003, Score 88
Ella Valley Vineyards, Chardonnay, Vineyard’s Choice 2005 Score 87
Ella Valley Vineyards Cabernet Franc, 2004 Score 86

Saslove, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserved, 2003 Score 88
Saslove, Adom Marriage, 2004 Score 86

Alexander, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003 Score 88
Alexander, Gaston, 2004, Score 87

Segal, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004, Score 88
Segal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dishon, 2003, Score 85
Segal, Merlot, Dovev, 2003 Score 84

Bustan, Syrah, 2003 Score 88

Ben Hanna, Petite Verdot, la Mariee, 2005 Score 88

Chillag, Merlot, Primo Riserva, 2004 Score 88
Chillag, Cagbernet Sauvignon, Primo Riserva, 2004 Score 86

Recanati, Petit Syrah-Zinfandel, Reserve Score 87
Recanati, Special Reserve, 2004 Score 87
Recanati, Cabernet Franc, Reserve, 2004 Score 85
Recanati, Chardonnay, 2006 Score 86
Recanati, Merlot, Reserve 2004 Score 85

Karmei Yosef (Bravdo), Chardonnay, 2006, Score 87
Karmei Yosef, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005, Score 87
Karmei Yosef, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003, Score 87
Karmei Yosef, Merlot, 2005 Score 81
Karmei Yosef, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2001, Score78

Binyamina, Chardonnay, Onyx, 2004 Score 88
Binyamina, Cabernet Sauignon, Aquamarine, 2003 Score 82
Binyamina, Ruby-Syrah, 2003, Score 81

Gustavo & Jo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Premium, 2004 Score 87

Meishar, Cabernet Sauvignon, 730, 2004 Sore 87

Avidsan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reseve, 2005 Score 87
Avidan, Grnache Premium, 2006 Score 84

Dalton, Shiraz, Oak Aged, 2005, Score 86
Dalton, Zinfandel, 2005 Score 86
Dalton, Merlot, Meron Vineyard, 2005 Score 79

Tanya, Merlot, Reserve, 2004 Score 86
Tanya, Cabernet Sauignon, Halel, 2005 Score 85

Tishbi, Special Reserve, Sde Boker 2004 Score 85
Tishbi, Shiraz, Estate, 2005 Score 85

Odem Mountain, Merlot, Har Odem, 2004 Score 85

Hevron Heights, Cabernet Sauvingon-Merlot, Makhpeah, 2002 Score 86
Hevron Heights, Syrah, 2003 Score 84

Benhaim, Cabernet Sauvignn, Grande Reserve, 2003 Score 86

Barkan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Altitude 720, 2005 Score 85
Barkan, Pinotage Superieur, 2002 Score 85

Sea Horse, Antoine, Tete de Cuvee, 2004 Score 85
Sea Horse, Elul, 2004 Score 84

Agur,Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Reserve, 2004 Score 85
Agur, Kessem, 2005 Score 84

Assaf, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2005 Score 85

Bazelet HaGolan, Czabernet Sauvignon, 2004 Score 84

Kadesh Barnea, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, 2004 Score 84

Ben-Zimra, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, 2004 81

Katlav, Wadi Katlav, 2005 Score 81
Katlav, Merlot, 2005 Score 79

The BIG Israeli Wine review – Wine Advocate

Friday, December 21st, 2007

OK, it is time to let the cat out of the bag.

Yes, I am The Wine Tasting Guy, but more importantly I am the Israeli Wine Tasting Guy.

What does that mean? Well, if I ever get my BIO up some of it will be explained. But for now, let’s just say I have a strong affinity for Israel, and as such I have spent extensive time working at wineries in Israel. Convinced that Israeli wine is top notch, under appreciated, and held to a much lower regard than it warrants, I made it my mission to expose Israeli wines to the masses. There are others out there with a similar mission, and their success is my success. But for now, I must focus on my mission. I have a lot of work ahead of me. More on how I plan on tackling this once perceived “impossible task” in future posts…

But for now, lets get back to the BLOG TOPIC – The Israeli wine report in this edition of the Wine Advocate. WA edition #174 is being mailed out tomorrow (or I suppose technically today) and will contain a thorough report on Israeli wines. I can’t wait!!!! As soon as I have seen it I will report on its findings, and eventually comment on them. Many thanks to Robert Parker & Mark Squires of the Wine Advocate for their soon to be released efforts.

Anyone who wants to talk Israeli wine, just drop me a dime and I’ll be more than happy to discuss for HOURS…..

Until the next time…HAPPY ISRAELI WINE DRINKING!!!

The (Israeli) WTG.

Wine Glasses – does it REALLY matter which shape one uses???

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

I recently read a very interesting article on the topic. I believe the article was written by Mark Phillips and can be found http://www.winetasting.org/wineglass.html.

In a nutshell, Mr. Phillips cites his own experiments as well as those of the Monell Chemical Senses Center (“one of the world’s most prestigious laboratories studying taste and smell”) as written by Daniel Zwerdling, an NPR reporter in an article about Riedel, published in Gourmet Magazine in August 2004.

All experiments basically proved that “subjects couldn’t tell any difference from one glass to another”.

So what of these Reidel studies or tastings where people claim to appreciate certain wines much more from certain glasses?

That question is addressed by Mark as having 2 possible answers, both I believe are quite compelling and extend beyond wine glasses, to a lot of wine in general. His answers were:

1: great salesmanship
2: power of suggestion

A wine’s label, price tag, “expert” score – just some of the many factors that influence how people react to & appreciate wine.

As someone with a wide and eclectic taste in music, I have often compared wine appreciation to music appreciation. Most people can recognize whether music (or wine) is just plain BAD. But when it comes to all other MUSIC (wine) the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One may like it while the other does not. One might insist it is the best they have even heard (tasted) while the other thinks it is absolute crap.  And BOTH are right.

Same thing with wine glasses. Yes – small, thick & poorly shaped glasses stink for wine tasting/drinking/appreciation. But once one gets to the larger, thin, quality crystal wine glasses, is there really that much of a difference? And who is to say which is “BETTER”??

As always, drink YOUR wine YOUR way from a glass YOU like & ENJOY!!!!

WTG.

Evolution of wine appreciation

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

I have recently been realizing that my preferred wine style is evolving. Which has me thinking back to the evolution of my wine appreciation.

When I first began drinking wines, it was the sweet white stuff that did it for me. Funny how Europeans poke fun at Americans, indicating that Coca Cola and its thick sweet flavors have influenced our taste preferences to such an extent that all we like are sweet (or seemingly sweet) wines. (When i say seemingly sweet, it is because fruit forward wines are often interpreted by the brain as sweet wines.)

My first REAL appreciation of red wines (I think of it as my wine epiphany) happened at a steak house. I will never forget the moment, nor will I forget the wine. I was trading stocks at the time and a bunch of guys went out to celebrate a friends birthday. We all ordered our steaks, and one guy decided we should order a bottle of wine. Knowing that I would be chipping in for said bottle I poured myself a nice glass and gave it a shot. BAMMM. It was Hagafen Napa Merlot & my life would never be the same. People talk about remembering their “firsts”- I will never forget mine.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. “Sweeter” & softer Merlots were what I initially preferred to the tannic & cloyingly dry Cabernets I had the opportunity to taste. Until somewhere along the line I grew tired of one-dimensional Merlots and began to appreciate Cabernets. For a while, it was Cab or nothing.

The next step in my “Wine appreciation evolution” was when I re-discovered whites. NO, not the sweet ones (although I had an amazing 23 year old Sauternes), but the dry, floral acidic ones. Wow, these guys complement food. It was not easy to admit it, but they actually complemented many of the foods I eat better than the Cabs I had developed a love affair with.

The most recent evolution I am starting to notice is a shift away from fruit bombs. Fear not, I am not becoming a Francophile. But I am shying away from some Australian Shiraz’s that seem to either have some residual sugar in them or were just SOO extracted (possibly by rotary fermenters) that there is nothing but fruit there. I like a little earth &/or minerality. These punch in the face fruit bomb wines were nice for a while. But I now need more.

I’m still learning and my palate is ever evolving. I bet YOURS is too. let me know…

Happy drinking!

WTG.

DUI OFFENDER PROMOTES SPARKLING WINE

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

The weather outside it frightful…and as such I did not make it out to a a wine bar this evening. I did finish up a bottle of home-vintnered white made by my friend Todd. It was actually not half bad. Very nice bouquet, some floral, notes & lots of melon. A missing mid-palate & a finish that turned a little bitter as it warmed to room temp, but for home made wine – not bad at all…

OK, on to the headline. Credit to Megan Haverkorn of Wine & Spirits daily for this one…

America’s favorite ex-con, Paris Hilton, is launching a new sparkling wine in a can. In the ads, Paris is nude, covered in gold paint and crawling across a desert to market her brand, Rich Prosecco. Characterized as “The perfect ‘starter drink’ for your night or a special pleasure as a reward at the end of the day,” Rich Prosecco will launch in Germany this week and the U.S. next year. The brand comes in original, passion fruit and strawberry flavors.

As you’ll recall, Paris spent 23 days in jail this June for driving with a suspended license after receiving probation from a previous DUI charge.

Hmmm…is this a pathetic attempt at capitalizing on “celebrity” & “sex”, or is it further proof of the proliferation of (sparkling) wine, and as such maybe not the worst thing in the world…????? OK, yes it’s bad…