Archive for September, 2008

Wines for the New (Jewish) Year UNDER $30

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

I’m sorry for the delay in writing this post.  I have gotten MANY requests for my Rosh Hashana suggestions.  I’m pressed for time (aren’t we all) so here goes…

shana tova

I decided not to write about wines that typically retail for more than $30.  If you are spending in the $30+ price range please feel free to contact me through the site and I’d be more than happy to discuss your best options with you. (more…)

power of suggestion – real or not & Amazon.com wine?

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

I poured wine at a retailer tonight.  I generally try to stop from voicing my opinion about any wines I am pouring, but I often do find myself say things such as “its a real nice wine”.  Having done as many of these tasting as I have I find the two opposite effects this leads to as quite interesting.

Often, the power of suggestion is apparently quite powerful and people agree that the wine is one way or another, depending upon what I imply.

BUT, almost as often I get people telling me that they do not agree with my take and tell me how they feel differently about the same wine.

damn red

I must admit that it is validating to have people agree with one’s opinion.  Yet I am a big believer that we all have a unique palate, and I TRULY do welcome people disagreeing with my assessment.

What I have trouble understanding are either those who refuse to taste, feeling they are being “sold” or “coerced”.  Or those who seem to disagree & demean a wine simply as a means of expressing their contrarian view or individuality.

If I have learned anything in the wine industry it is that we must possess a thick skin.  Not everyone is going to agree & some might not even disagree politely.  But it ain’t personal!

On a completely separate note, it appears more and more likely that Amazon.com is entering the online wine sales world.  I keep seeing comments about the impending entree of Amazon into the wine business, but I’m not sure I know what the impact will be.  Will they have low prices?  Will they do things legally (and more expensively) like wine.com?  Is it their infrastructure (shipping centers) that is going to allow them to ship wine to most of the 50 states and keep costs down?  Will this perpetuate the debate over wine shipping and its surrounding issues?  Will the supreme court be involved??  More to come on this topic I’m sure…

Happy wine tasting!

WTG

NYC has a what??? … a WINERY????$%^&

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Although I was late, I did make it to the event at the City Winery this evening.  It was a well attended event and it was great to see some friends and familiar faces there.

Forgetting for a second about tonight’s amazing speaker,  what i really want to discuss is, what’s the deal with the CITY WINERY anyway???

city winery

Does an über URBAN locale such as NYC really need a winery? And forgetting for a second about “need” (who needs half the stuff we have here in this great city of ours), do city folk really even WANT a winery?

I must admit that I do not know the answer to this question.  And I suppose only time will tell.  I think it goes without saying that wine has become HOT around the world, in major metropolitan areas, and in NYC in particular.  And when discussing my career in wine just about everyone I talk to comments about how romantic working in wine and making wine must be (it really isn’t – but that is not to say I don’t love it).  But when it comes down to it, how many people really want to make such a large financial commitment to having their own wine barrel/label/etc.?

For those of you who may be considering this let me unequivocally say…DO IT!!!  The place is state of the art.  The winemaker is top notch.  The staff are bright, young & committed individuals.  You are assured a top quality final product.  And it will be yours.  Whether you end up doing it every year for many years or just try it once – it will be a priceless experience.  The pride I have every time I drink a wine I played even a small role in making is tremendous.  It is something you will not forget for the rest of your life and an experience like no other.  If you are in a position financially to give it a shot, JUST DO IT!

Happy (your name on a bottle) wine making!

WTG

Making wine in …NEW JERSEY

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

I woke up bright and early this Sunday morning to press the wine with my two “winery” (yes, I use the term liberally) partners.  Alas, our host, “Mr. C” became the proud daddy of a new baby girl even earlier in the morning.  Mazal Tov GC!  So it was down to “Mr. K” & yours truly “Mr. L” (aka “WTG”).

We had somewhere in the range of 320 liters of must (fermented grape sludge) that when pressed, fit snugly into our super sleek 200 liter stainless steel tank.   Sadly our mini 35 gallon basket press meant we had to load and unload several times.

CLK press

See more pics here.

It was a fun and gratifying mornings work.  I am hopeful that this Sangiovese, following a 14 day maceration period (two weeks of fermenting on its skins), is going to be a balanced, fruit driven beauty.

And just as we finished up, right on time, our esteemed winery host, “Mr. C” showed up.  His timing could not have been better as his hands were full….of BEERS & it was time for football.  Hey, better late than never.  And you know what they say, “IT TAKES A LOT OF GOOD BEER TO MAKE A GOOD WINE”…

As soon as we get the labels and capsules on the 2007′s I’ll be passing out samples to friends.  If you are reading this – YOU ARE A FRIEND.  Drop me a dime (or something) and I’ll make sure there is a bottle with your name on it.

Happy CLK home made WINE TASTING!

WTG

selling wine, pouring wine & making wine – I’m BEAT!

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

The past 48 hours (actually all week) have been truly fabulous and unbelievably exhausting!

I’m averaging about 5 hours of sleep a night which is not terrible, but not too great either.   I’ve poured wine for retailers I’m trying to sell wine to.  I’ve poured wine at retailers for consumers I am hoping will buy bottles of the wine (they should – it is good stuff).  And I poured wine while playing guest bartender tonight at a fabulous intimate wine bar on the Upper East Side.

But before that, yesterday at about 4PM, I went out to Jersey to work on the Wine Tasting Guy cuvee’.  Actually, it is a wine I am making with two close friends.  The one I’ve previously mentioned.  I received a call on Monday from the guy whose garage we are using as our pseudo winery, informing me that the wine has finished fermenting and we MUST press it.  Wine ferments in open containers and it gives off CO2 while it is fermenting which protects it from the oxygen.  But when it stops fermenting it is no longer protected and must be moved to an oxygen free container.

fermenting wine

Sure enough I raced from work on Wednesday to Jersey so that we could press the wine.  And lo and behold while the fermentation had neared its end and slowed dramatically, it WAS still fermenting.  The wine was protected and there was no emergency.  But I must admit that our Cali Cab was virtually done so we went ahead and pressed that (pic to come…I hope).

So far I think this years wines are going to be VERY DIFFERENT from last years.  Much less fruit forward and more acidic.  They will be wines with a longer life, but potentially a little less approachable in their youth.  Or so I suspect…but I suppose only time will tell…

And as for tonight, while pouring at the retailer for the consumers was OK, the real fun was playing guest bartender.  I met some cool people and poured a lot of Israeli wine that people really enjoyed.  I was quite proud!

Now if only I had my own wine & sold it at my own wine bar…  Wouldn’t THAT be cool?!!?!!!!!  ;)

Happy wine insanity!

WTG

Trump event & Rally to STOP IRAN

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

I spent my day today at an amazing event.  Eric Trump (yes, The Donald’s son) has a wonderful charitable organization that throws an event at the Westchester, NY based Trump International Golf Course to raise money for St Jude’s Childrens Charity.  I was invited several weeks ago to sponsor a hole & pour wine at the event.

(pic to come)

I’m very proud to say that Hole # 10 was sponsored by the Wine Tasting Guy.  Not only that, but they set up a wine tasting table for me (and a fabulous industry collegue from “Bacchus – Wine Made Simple”) right on the 10th hole.  We poured some amazing wines from Israel and California and the guests LOVED THE WINES.  The golf tournament went well for the golfers and there was a reception that followed where we poured more wine.  It was a successful event and I was very excited to hear the positive feedback and be invited back next year.  Among the many highlights of the day was when Ivanka Trump came by, tried, and LOVED an Israeli Syrah we were pouring.  Sadly I missed her at the end of the event but I sent Eric with a bottle of the Syrah for her.

On a sadder note I am about to bring up a political issue.  I try very hard to stay away from said issues on this site for a multitude of reasons.  But this one is important enough for me to briefly mention.  This coming Monday Iran’s President Ahmadinejad is coming to the U.N. and there is a “Rally to Stop Iran.  The information can be found in the following flyer.  I will be there and hope that anyone within driving distance of NYC understands how serious this evil man is about his intentions to “wipe Israel from the map” and will put the effort in to attend the rally.

rally flier

Happy PEACEful rally golf tournament wine tasting!

WTG

A night of firsts & lasts at Yankee Stadium

Monday, September 15th, 2008

This post is just barely wine related, but I’ll squeeze in some quick wine references.  You see, tonight was a night of many firsts and at least one last.

My night began at an event at the Israeli Consul General residence.  The Consul general hosted an event for a new organization called Toda (Hebrew for “Thanks”).  The goals of Toda as I understand them are to encourage Israeli geared charitable organizations to collaborate with one another.  My role at this event was to talk about the Israeli wines at the event for those who were curious and in general to play Wine Tasting Guy.  It was a very nice event, I met the Consul General for the first time, and I even left with a small bottle of wine I was determined to sneak into Yankee Stadium.

I left the Consul General’s residence on the Upper EAST Side and took the 4 train up to the Stadium.  My first time in Yankee Stadium was about 25 years ago and for the last 12 years I have been going to about 20 games a year with my good buddy Mike.  Tonight was the FIRST time I ever took the 4 train from the Upper East Side to Yankee Stadium.

Coming from the event I was dressed in a suit.  I was already late and there was no time to change.  So I went to the game in my suit.  First time I EVER wore a suit to Yankee Stadium.

yanks

I arrived at the Stadium a little late following the Toda event but I was SUCCESFUL in sneaking in my bottle of wine.  I wonder the last time someone drank a bottle of wine in Yankee Stadium…let along an Israeli wine.  Tonight was my first time getting (or trying for that matter) a bottle of wine into Yankee Stadium.

The game went well.  The Yankees won.  Xavier Nady hit a home run (he did the last time I blogged about a Yankee game as well).  Joba pitched the 8th & Mariano pitched the 9th.  There are now officially only 6 games left to be played at Yankee Stadium.  And for the Wine Tasting Guy…all indications are that it was my last time in the house that Ruth built.  I was very sentimental when I left.  I actually did NOT want to leave.  I stuck around for about a half an hour after the game.  After all these years of going to games I usually have a routine whereby I watch the last pitch and dash out the gate.  And I’m home within half an hour.  Tonight I was amongst the last to leave and I did not get home until about an hour and a half after the game ended.

Tonight was my LAST time in the ORIGINAL Yankee Stadium.

Happy sentimental wine tasting!

WTG

Home made wine from Englewood, NEW JERSEY???#$%^

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

I recently wrote about working on my second batch of home made wine.  The Sangiovese & Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from California have been crushed, de-stemmed and had the yeast added.  The “must” is now fermenting away and based on the quality of the fruit, we are hopeful for our second vintage.

But today I want to write about year 1.  We decided upon things pretty late, which meant we were left to settle for whatever fruit was left.  We ended up picking up some Zinfandel that we were pretty excited about as well as some merlot that we were a little less excited about.  We  did our thing and the result was WINE.  How good was it you ask?  Good question.  It was youthful, simple, but seemed OK.  We were much happier with the Zinfandel than we were with the merlot.  But rather than spilling out the merlot we decided to try a Zin/Merlot blend.  It seemed to work so we bottled it and PRAYED…

haetz label

And you know what…???…it ain’t half bad.  Yes, it is a simple wine.  No, it is not age-worthy.  Yes, a lack of sulfites (good and bad) means a bottle open for more than 24 hours is vinegar and not wine.  But hey, if consumed within a few hours of opening the bottle it truly tastes pretty good.  Nice fruit.  Soft & round.  A nice wine.  SO, my big test.  I went to a party tonight and brought a bottle.  And people LOVED IT.  Everyone was super impressed that I (with my two partners) MADE this wine.  I was such a proud (psuedo) winemaker!

Happy home made wine tasting!

WTG

High Holidays & Wine at CITY WINERY

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Just wanted to let everyone know about an upcoming event held at what I expect to be a very cool facility.  I’ll be there and it would be great to see you there…

WTGhh flyer

Tasting – Martin Scott Wines portfolio tasting 2008

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

It has been a while, but it is fall portfolio tasting season.  Which means WTG gets to put the ole palate back to work and taste lots of new wines.  It is an exciting time, but I wont be attending as many tastings as in years past.  TOO MUCH WORK.  I’m not complaining, but the life of an unemployed, aspiring wine professional affords for much more time to attend wine tastings than that of a wine salesperson/ entrepreneur.

wine evaluation

The tasting was great.  I traveled the wine world.  I tasted France, Italy, Chile, New Zealand, Australia and some California wines.  I sadly did not have enough time to get to Germany, Austria, Argentina, South Africa, Spain or parts of the US such as NY State, Oregon, Washington State or the Sake selection from Japan.

I tasted many of the wines with a friend and we focused on old world regions such as France and Italy. Given the slow evolution of my palate preferences, I was very excited to have the opportunity to taste some special wines presumably made in an old world style.  When i speak of an old world style, I am referring to wines that are not as fruit forward or extracted as those from new world regions such as Australia or California.  These wines may have more earthy or minerally nuances rather than fresh fruit & berry ones.

In all I tasted close to 70 wines – not bad for an out of practice taster.  We started in the Bordeaux section.  And while Bordeaux style blends are (had been?) some of my favorite wines, the ones I tasted today were not special to me.  Yes these wines do show better with food (although theoretically so do many wines), but I found the Bordeaux that I tried today to be lacking in fruit or other complexities – simply being wines that were overly tannic, acidic and unripe.

From Bordeaux we settled down in the Burgundy section.  WOW.  There was a very sweet and warm woman telling me about her move to Burgundy, prompted following a “visit” there.  She encouraged me to visit and I told her that based on the wines I was tasting I would never leave either.  I tasted a good deal of both red (Pinot Noir) and white (Chardonnay) burgundy. These wines were really good.  I must admit that I still prefer a good Cab to many of these wines, but I am really starting to understand why so many people consider good Burgundy to be the best wines in the world.

As to a specific standout, now that is tough.  I still have lots to learn about Pinot Noir and Burgundies in particular.  There were clearly some made in a more masculine style – bigger, less subtle & more aggressive, while others were more elegant, soft & subtle (those considered to be more feminine in style).  I don’t particularly care for the big California Pinots and as such I was not in love with the bigger burgundies.  Similar to how Cali Pinot often turns me off with its BIG artificial cherry flavor, some of the burgundies had strong cola aromas that did not bother me as much as Cali Pinot, but lacked the elegance that I am gaining an appreciation for with Burgundies.  I actually remarked at one point that some of these Burgundies reminded me of some Chateaunuef du Pape.  But these over-the-top Burgundies were far a few between.  For the most part they were a pleasure to taste and I really do feel privileged.

As to Chardonnay, or white burgundies, I enjoy a good chardonnay, but don’t seek them out.  I find that too many are either over-oaked (from new barrels) or overly buttery (from malolactic/secondary fermentation) or both.  And they lack the crisp acidity I seek in a nice white.  WELL, many of these white burgundies had amazing acidity to go along with their fruit and very well integrated oak.  Really great!

In addition to the Burgundies I had a very nice Chat du Pape, an excellent Super Tuscan, and what may have been my favorite of the tasting,  a Cote Rotie.  I’ve only tried 1 or 2 other Cote Roties in my short wine life, and the others were quite tannic.  I’m told that these long lived wines really need time to soften.  Well of the two I had tonight, the second one was soft, complex & LOOOONG.

The Domaine Jean – Michel Stephan 2005 Cote – Rotie “Coteaux de Tupin” was special.  Its complex aromas included white pepper, cola, coffee and what I decided was a forest pine perfume aroma.  WOW!  The wine was also so soft (not tannic) it was almost sweet – but not of course.  The taste lingered on my palate with its long finish and left me envious of those with extensive Cote Rotie collections.

In all it was a really fabulous tasting.  I hope you were able to enjoy just a little bit of it vicariously through me.

Happy spectacularly special wine tasting!

WTG