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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What's a wine dinner amongst friends!

In life you tend to gather with people you have certain things in common. Since we all have to eat and drink to survive, I tend to gather with people who like to eat and drink(wine & spirits that is). It also happens that these same people used to be or are still in the wine biz, that's how we all met.
About once a month we all gather for a night of indulgence and strolling down memory lane. These dinners have gone on in many incarnations for over 10 years. There usually simple to put together(unless there is a miscommunication), everybody plays a role from hosting to someone responsible for the wine and everybody else for a particular course of the meal. We try to co-ordinate pairings(pinot noirs & salmon), themes(Spanish wine w/ Paella, flan,etc) and a date & place convenient to all.
Occasionally there are some hiccups over responsibilities, reading of recipe ingredients and measurements (1/4 of tablespoon of salt vs. 1/4 cup of salt). Guess who?? Know you know why I try to write as oppose to cook, but I digress. Usually the entrees are provided by our 2 culinary school grads, so you know the bar is going to be set high for the rest of us. Being that some of us have or had a wine collection the wines tend to be vintages from early 1990's right on up to some recent vintages. That being said sometimes the wine bottles get emptied and some times they don't. Conversations revolve around everything ranging from the nights menu to politics(gourmet burgers on Election night Nov. 2008) to the music we're listening to. You get the picture, anything goes. It's a night of food, friends and wine, simply put there are no rules.

Last night we met for our 2nd dinner of June(occasionally we do them more frequently i.e. birthdays, holiday dinner). With the dog days of summer upon us we decided not to cook(too hot) & this time to let the wines be the star. So we opted for a simple dinner of chilled cucumber soup, homemade roast beef and assorted, mostly Italian pork products for sandwiches w/ coleslaw being the only side dish. Normally we'd have some dessert, but we opted to drink dessert this night. Most of the wines paired were to be some lighter wines(Alsace), but a last minute invitee brought some reds that needed to be drank from his cellar. BTW we also tasted the Rodney Strong wines mentioned in a previous post as the guest arrived. They're still going..Strong(pun intended) 6 days after being opened. Moral of the story......enjoy your food, wine & friends because we need all 3 in order to survive!

Here's my thoughts on 2 of the wines, with my thoughts on the others in future posts.

01 Marc Kreydenweiss "Clos Rebberg" Pinot Gris- Alsace, France
The hit of the night. Good fruit, crisp with nice acidity. Hints of apples and minerals. Yum!!
05 Francis Ford Coppola Rosso- California nice blend of 48% Zin, 27% Syrah and 25% Cab. Sauv. which made for a soft, easy drinking, fruit forward wine with a nice finish.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My thoughts on some Rodney Strong wines.

In the past few days I've had the opportunity to taste 3 wines from Rodney Strong Vineyards. First a brief history of Rodney Strong Vineyards. Rodney was former dancer who in 1959 retired from dancing and set off on a new career in winemaking. He was one of the 1st to plant vineyards in Sonoma County and its sub appellations of Russian River, Chalk Hill and Alexander Valley. Prior to that most of Sonoma was planted to fruit orchards. In 1970 Rodney started to build his winery in Sonoma County and in 1979 he hired Rick Sayre as winemaker, and to this day Rick still makes the wines. Fast forward to 1989 when Tom Klein purchases the winery from Rodney and expands the winery and starts to put the winery on a path to going green and sustainable winemaking practices. Rodney stayed on with the winery after he sold it and passed away in 2006 at age 78. I had the opportunity to meet and join Rodney for lunch early in my wine career when he was in town, a memorable experience. Now to wines.

2009 Estate Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc- Sonoma County
Named after Rodney's wife this wine offers a delightful combination of crisp acidity and fruit structure. A lighter style wine it has a beautiful nose and seems to get better after it's been opened for a day or two. Nice hint of minerals on the finish. Perfect to compliment a salad or sandwich or by itself on a hot summer afternoon. $9-$11. 4 out of 5 corks!

2007 Estate Chalk Hill Chardonnay- Sonoma County
A medium bodied chardonnay, this wine offers a balance of toasty oak and a buttery finish. A French oak presence is noticeable with a hint of vanilla along with some apple. A great wine for someone who is not a big fan of chardonnay's(me). $16 3.5 out of 5 corks!

2007 Estate Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon- Sonoma Valley
This medium bodied cabernet is blended with a little bit of merlot, malbec and hint of syrah. It offers a nice mix of tannins and good dark fruit. A mix of French and American oak is used giving it the satying power to be drank over the next few years. $18 3.5 out 5 corks!

All wines were tasted over a few days and seem to get better after being opened for a day or 2.
So look for Rodney Strong wines and see what a winemaking pioneer's philosophy can do with some of the lands great appellations and the grapes the land gives him.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Knight & Day" or "MI4"- It's your call!

I was'nt quite sure what to expect from the new Tom Cruise & Cameron Diaz action flick "Knight & Day". What I got was typical action adventure which could have been easily the next installment of the Mission Imposssible(MI) series. Throw in some of Cameron's sass and sexy appeal, plus her and Tom's whimiscal banter and you get an entertaining action film w/ a sprinkling of a romantic comedy on the side. Typical MO in Hollywood these days.

Tom plays"Roy Miller", a susposedly rogue agent trying to protect an infinte battery and it's inventor "Simon"(Paul Dano) while being chased by the agency and real rogue agent(Peter Sarsgard) . Enter Tom's mule June(Cameron Diaz) just trying to get her sisters wedding in Boston.
After surviving a plane crash the two travel the world trying not to get caught. Plenty of shoot outs and chases to keep you interested. With June not knowing whom to believe or trust she starts to have feelings for Roy. Ya think its' coming to an end and then the grand finale and payoff.

Entertaining yet predictable, this should be the summer blockbuster their studios expecting it to be.
3.5 out of 5 corks.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Why it's good to be a wine consumer now in 2010.

With more wine on the market than ever before it's good to be wine consumer. Figure that not just is there more wine being imported from all over the world, all 50 states have bonded and licensed wineries. Keep in mind you're going to see more and more wine hitting our shores from countries you least expect i.e. China, eastern Europe, etc then take into consideration the economy you have lots of supply & growing demand= lower prices. Prices are lower than they have been in previous years, high end wineries are either dropping prices or selling of wine to "negociants" like Cameron Hughes, Heron wines & Castle Rock, just to name a few. Big box store and small retailers are having private labels bottled for them or "exclusives" as we say.
There is no better time to try a new varietal(cabernet franc, grenache)you've always been curious about. Or how about something from a part of the world you've be hesitant to buy(South Africa, Portugal). Quality of wines are far above where they were thanks to new technology, colleges offering course in wine making and winemakers and grape growers experimenting and pushing the boundaries.

At some point the economy will do a 180 and things will be good again, wineries will increase their prices when inventories level level off & demand comes back. But will prices go back up to where they were? Who knows, if consumer will pay that high prices again after seeing that they can pay significantly less for the same wine. It's only a good time time to be a wine consumer if you take advantage of it. Playing it safe and drinking the same wine will generate the same result, but trying new wines at this time should generate new experiences & new found favorites.

So take advantage of the wine economy 2010 and don't let these opportunities pass you by and leaving you wondering "what if".

Welcome!

I know what you're thinking "uhhh! not another blog about food, wine & restaurants, etc". That has been my reluctance to do a blog. But after being in wine and spirts industry for over 17 years, I figure "hey, why not an insiders perspective". So in addition to food, wine & the Phoenix dining scene I will also feature some current events & something new I've been involved in of the last few years... film producing. So come and join the party, agree or disagree with me, let me know what you think.
Cheers,
Sandy