Archive for July, 2009

Wine in NY Supermarkets

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

It’s baaaaack….

Thanks to Megan of Wine & Spirits Daily for bringing this BACK to my attention. As reported…

NY DEMOCRATS RE-INTRODUCE WINE BILL.  Democrats in New York state have re-introduced legislation that would allow wine sales in grocery stores.  Recall that a similar bill was dropped from the state budget in the spring.  The bill would also allow store owners to receive licenses quicker; allow liquor stores to have ATMs and sell snacks and non-carbonated drinks; extend hours of operation for liquor stores (8am-3am); and make ID checks more stringent. The bills are in committee in the Senate and Assembly.  The state is expected to be called into special session later this year to address its budget deficit, and could review legislation such as this at that time.

A similar bill was not passed a few months back.  I’m not sure what changed, but it seems to be back on the table.  I touched on my thoughts about this in the past & still feel pretty much the same about it.  It might hurt some retailers, and that sucks, but what it will also do is bring about more competition and force retailers to work harder for their customers – which is a good thing.  My biggest concern is the buying power these larger supermarkets will have.  I’ll follow this as closely as possible and we’ll discuss it in greater detail IF it becomes more relevant.

Happy wine purchased at your local retailer wine tasting!


Computerized sommelier

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Wikipedia tells us that “a Sommelier or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, commonly working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine service.”

It proceeds to explain that “the principal work of a sommelier is in the area of wine procurement, storage, wine cellar rotation, and to provide expert advice to customers.”

Huh.  Procurement – sure & advice – OK, we knew that.  But storage & interestingly enough “cellar rotation”…cool.

I bring up the job of a sommelier as I recently read a piece by Uncorked columnist Nathaniel Bauer about mobile wine apps.  Bauer is critical of many of these apps, citing long loading times, difficulty sorting through information provided, and information provided being outdated (he mentioned a recommendation to pair his food of choice with a 1980 Cali Zin).

Today I read a related article noting two web sites with which I am familiar, Epicurious (which I frequently use) and snooth, have teamed up to provide a “computer generated wine pairing service”.

Now I must admit, maybe there is some jealousy involved here.  A few years ago I was pondering a similar service but never went through with it.  Common problem…how to monetize.  BUT, assuming my feelings are not based on envy, I must admit that I am a bit cynical here.  There are tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of wines out there.  And food, with all its variations (spices, prep method, etc)…how can a computer process all the ingredients in a dish, consider side dishes, know which wines are available, and spit out the “proper” wine???  As if there even IS a “proper wine”.  Aren’t all wine people preaching these days that drinkers should drink WHAT THEY LIKE?!?

Who knows, maybe this or some other copy cat software will revolutionize the way wine consumers purchase & pair their wines.  But I have a sneaky suspicion (and a killer business idea) that thinks the revolutionary idea is still out there…

Happy computer generated wine choice wine tasting!


1 month boxed wine

Friday, July 24th, 2009

I was talking to a gentleman at a retail wine shop in the city last night and he asked me about decanting.  I told him that I generally only like to decant a real young wine.  That is,  unless I know I’ll be pouring the whole bottle at once (to a crowd – not drink it all from one large glass) – in which case it may make sense to decant.  In general, I like to follow the wine as it opens in the glass – and decanting sorta prevents that.

Speaking of following a wine as it opens,  I have had the pleasure of following the Andes Peak Chard for a MONTH.  It is pretty unheard of but I am here today to tell you ladies and gentlemen that this wine is STILL ALIVE…

The Color has gotten deeper, the flavors a bit nuttier, but bottom line, this low budget wine STILL passes ALL the tests.

Don’t know what else to say on the topic that hasn’t been covered the past few weeks.  Hey, I’m a believer!!!

Happy oxygen free wine tasting!!!


DeLoach “Barrel to Barrel” continued…

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Yea ask, and yea shall receive!

I wondered in my previous post how one would insert the 10 liter eco-bag into the barrel.  And sure enough a fine chap from Deloach emailed me a link with a video.  The “how does it work” comes up at about 2:52.

Though the video is obviously self promoting (and not unbiased information), it is promoting a revolutionary product.  It is a terrific idea that I am sure will be copied.  Kudos to Deloach, for their ingenuity & forward environmentally friendly thinking.

On a similar note I will be re-tasting the Andes Peak bag in a box tomorrow, over 4 weeks since originally opening it up.  I’m looking forward…

Happy alternatively and environmentally friendly packaged wine tasting!!


Wine in a barrel

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

People have been sending me positive feedback on my recent wine in a box series.  I must admit that I was somewhat surprised by the kind words I received.  But I suppose the niceties were largely due to the subject matter as opposed to my brilliant writing and reviews.  Further evidence that the whole wine in a box issue is front and center appeared when Dr Vino wrote a piece for; “Box Wines That Can Be a Hit”.

So you can imagine how pleased I was when I read a related piece I could write about.  It seems the good folks at Deloach vineyards are taking this minimizing carbon footprint issue to a new level.  Seemingly (at this point) a pilot project, Deloach vineyards is selling wine in 10 liter size barrels to commercial restaurant/hotel accounts.  This enables these businesses to sell wine by the glass straight from this barrel, eliminating the need for these 10 liters to be shipped as 14+ bottles.

But HOW does the wine stay fresh?  Doesn’t air/oxygen enter the barrel as it is emptying, resulting in oxidized wine?  Ahhh…good question – this is where the comparison to wine in a box comes into play.  Once accounts have this 10 liter barrel, Deloach ships the wine in 10 liter eco-bags.  I must admit though, that I am not certain exactly how the bag gets into the barrel (removable barrel head?).  Regardless, it does seem pretty cool to me!

SO, are we seeing the end of the wine bottle?  I do not think so, as the finest of wines still do seem to age best in traditional bottles with traditional corks.  But since Americans, & I would venture a guess most consumers, consume wine within a few days (even hours) after purchasing, I would say that most wines CAN in fact be consumed from containers OTHER THAN glass bottles.

Happy wine in a barrel wine tasting!


Liquid cocaine in wine bottles

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Yes, this is CRAZY, but this is not a laughing matter folks.  I just read this scary piece at about liquid cocaine being detected (thankfully) in bottles of Bolivian wine.

OK , so the picture is a bit humorous, but drugs are dangerous and illegal, and tainting wine (yes, even Bolivian wine) with cocaine is truly frightening.  I applaud those who made this discovery.  Decanter reported that “earlier this year a London cab driver died after drinking the drug from a rum bottle “.  For all the frustrations we experience here with liquids not being allowed on airplanes, I guess those making the rules know what they are doing.  From explosive devices to illegal substances, criminals are using liquids to hide things and I am proud that the good guys seem to have won this round.

Coming tomorrow, more on alternate containers for wine.

Happy untainted wine tasting!


box wine part IV

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

It has now been about 3 weeks since I first opened up the Andes Peak Chardonnay.

These wine in box work REALLY WELL!

Taking a look at the picture you can see that these airtight bags inside the box really do keep air out.  When pouring wine from a bottle, air replaces the space in the bottle vacated by the wine.  But just like vacuum packed foods, here, when the wine leaves, there is no air entering and the wine maintains its freshness.

I know it is not as romantic as popping the cork and pouring a glass bottle.  But hey, if it is the juice inside you are after & you have yet to try a boxed wine, I strongly encourage you to check one out.

THREE weeks after opening the Andes Peak Chardonnay it is alive and well.  Just like last week’s tasting it is missing a bit of the freshness it initially had, but I detect NO oxidation and found the wine to be quite pleasant.  Not bad huh?!

Happy 3 week old boxed wine tasting!


Sheep in the vineyard

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Last week I wrote about a the bizarre drunken badger.  Just when you thought it could not get any more strange, I recently read about a New Zealand vineyard that is introducing “pint sized sheep” to the vineyard.

(the sheep appears to be about half the size as that golden retriever)

The theory behind this strange story is that these sheep will cut energy costs associated with cutting the grass/weeds between rows in this 1000 hectare vineyard.  Claiming that they mow the vineyard 8-12 times a year, the vineyard manager talks about the sheep helping them to cut back on fuel burned and energy consumed by their seven tractors.

Now I have heard of introducing bugs & fowl into the vineyard to reduce the need to use pesticides.  And I think introducing a grass eating mammal is terrific.  But who came up with the idea that a full sized sheep will ALSO eat the grapes, so instead they need MINI-SHEEP?!?!?  Who even knew such things existed??  Bizarre indeed…

Happy mini-sheep aided wine tasting!


Burgundy continued; Chablis – William Fevre

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

My wine club’s Burgundy theme continued this past week, summer style, with the white wines of Chablis.  “Chablis is the northernmost wine district of the Burgundy region in France”.  The wines of Chablis are (generally) made from 100% Chardonnay.  We had a sort of vertical tasting, though not really.  Vertical implies tasting the same wine from various vintages.  Here the group ended up getting 7 wines from the highly regarded William Fevre winery of Chablis.  We tasted 5 grand cru wines and 2 premier cru wines, from the 2003, 2004 & 2006 vintages.

Before getting into the wines themselves, I must confess that I am at a point in my wine appreciation where I immensely ENJOY white wines, but have not come across too many I believe to be outstanding and that merit high price tags.  $20, OK.  $30 – sure, why not (if you can afford it).  But much more than that…well, I’ll pass.  That said, SOME of the wines of Chablis that I have been fortunate enough to taste are so UNIQUE, given their characteristic steely & flinty profiles, that this tasting was one I was prepared to splurge for and quite excited about.   Bottom line, while some of the wines showed that uniquely special flinty/steely quality, others were heavy on the oak, and though they had a nice crisp acidity, did not strike me as special.

The first wine we tasted was the 2004 “Mountmains” 1er cru.  This wine did NOT say “Domaine” on the label (though the Mountmains above DOES say domaine) and presumably was made from purchased fruit.  This wine had obvious oak and while it was a nice Chardonnay it was not (to my very amateur palate) a special Chablis wine.

The second wine was the 2004 “Fourchaume” 1er cru.  This clear lite gold wine had a green tint and a very evident steeliness.  Almost metallic and (to me) quite pleasant, this wine also showed a hint of nuttiness.  Bright, crisp & steely, it had great minerality and was a fine example of Chablis.

Next was our first Grand Cru and also the first produced “domaine”, (as were the remaining 4) what we presumed was an estate wine (grown, vinified & bottled on estate property).  The 2006 Bougros Grand Cru was a clear straw wine with green reflections (or so it appeared on the dimly lit patio in midtown Manhattan where we were tasting).  Aromas of stone fruit such as peach and apricot led to flavors of tart fruit, tangy (unripe) tropical fruit & a bracing acidity.  It finished toasty & long, and while it is not what I think of when I think of Chablis, it was quite nice.

Moving right along into the 2006 “Les Preuses” Grand Cru which had a clear straw color.  Typical oaked chardonnay aromas of melon, citrus & toast, this wine was quite elegant on the palate and had flavors of toast & flint.  It finished tart, crisp & long.

The 2004 “Les Preuses” Grand Cru had a wide range of aromas; from lechee and apricot to grilled peaches.  Fruity & creamy flavors were reminiscent of peach cobbler.  It finished long with sweet bready/yeasty flavors.

The 2004 “Vaudesir” Grand Cru had a bit of funk to it.  Limestone, sea shells & bready yeast aromas led to tart citrus flavors & a long bitter (nearly unpleasant) finish.

Our last wine was the 2003 “Valmur” Grand Cru.  Sadly this wine was oxidized.  I tried to smell/taste it but its funky oxidization was too much to overlook and this wine was not tastable.

Overall another fun & interesting tasting.  Not my favorite, but a pleasure nonetheless – one I feel privilledged to have been a part of.

Happy Chablis wine tasting!

Drunken Badger & boxed wine part III

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

In what has to be one of the funniest/most bizarre alcohol related news stories I have read in a WHILE, a drunken badger was passed out DRUNK in the middle of a road in Germany.

(who knew badgers were substance abusers?)

Apparently the badger got his paws on a batch of overripe cherries that had begun to ferment, turning its natural sugars into alcohol. I wonder what Mr.  badger thought of  the Cherry wine.  I’ll have to get his tasting note 😉

On an unrelated note, as promised, I revisited the boxed Chardonnay tonight for the 3rd time, 15 days after opening it for the first time.

Folks, it is real simple, oxygen can be a wine’s best friend and worst enemy.  A just opened bottle of wine can benefit from some (controlled) exposure to oxygen.  Decant it, swirl it in your glass…whatever – it helps!

But, PROLONGED exposure to oxygen and your wine will oxidize and become unpleasant & medicinal.

The Andes Peak Chardonnay, 15 days after being opened, and stored in its oxygen free packaging in the refrigerator, is still ALIVE & WELL!

It seems to have lost some of its youthful freshness.  And this was not the most complex/exciting wine to begin with.  But it is STILL drinking very nicely, showing toasty, citrus & melon aromas and flavors.

Part IV to follow next week.

Coming soon, my review of the William Fevre Chablis tasting I enjoyed with my wine tasting group last night.

Beware of drunken badgers & Happy 2 week old boxed wine tasting!