Wines I have Loved

Here’s to all the wines I’ve loved….

Do we have any Willie Nelson fans?  I can’t say I’m a fan; I may know two, perhaps three of his songs. One song I do know is “To all the girls I’ve loved.”  What’s this got to do with wine?  Nothing.  Give me a minute, for I’m developing my story.

I do most of my wine drinking in one of three places:  my back yard on either the patio near the house or by the fire pit; the dining room table; or in my cellar.  My  wine cellar boasts two racks: one for keepers, the other for drinkers.  I also save memorable bottles and display them in the cellar. I do answer to a higher authority, Josephine.

Tonight I am enjoying a great bottle of Planeta La Segreta 2010; it’s from my adopted homeland, Sicily. This wine is a wonderful blend of 50% Nero D’Avola, 25% Merlot, 20% Syrah, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  This wine has a rich, full nose that is just right for sniffing and pondering the mysteries of life.  The flavor is full fruit, spices, and herbs that leave me feeling mellow and relaxed.

I’m sitting in the backyard watching the sun set and the aircraft vapor trails transport people to who-knows-where.  I’m feeling very content, relaxed, and thinking about  —  are you ready for this:

To all the wines I’ve loved before

Who traveled in and out my door

I’m glad they came along I dedicate this song

To all the wines I’ve loved before.

To all the wines I once caressed

And may I say I’ve drunk some of the best

For helping me to grow I owe a lot I know

To all the wines I’ve loved before.

The winds of change are always blowing

And every time I try to stay

The winds of change continue blowing

And they just carry me away.

I know you must think I’m flakier than a Mrs. Fields cookie, and you wouldn’t be that far off. In truth I’ve enjoyed some really interesting wines, recently, and I thought I’d share them with you because each has a story and a memory and all of it is good.

Charles Krug Merlot 2009.  This one was a mistake.  I was shooting for Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon; well, as Maxwell Smart would say, “Missed it by that much.”  The wine was good; still, I prefer the Toad Hollow that we discussed in the last blog.

Charles Krug has a long history, beginning in 1861.  It’s one of the old names in Napa Valley viticulture.  The vineyard is now owned by Peter Mondavi.  I was interested in the Cabernet because in the book “Judgment of Paris” Charles Krug played a part in the development of Stags Leap, the famous Cabernet in the 1976 Paris tasting.

Mas Josephine is a nice French wine, a blend of Syrah and Grenache from Cote Du Rhone, and not to be confused with ”Goats do Roam.” The wine was actually named in honor of Napoleon’s Josephine, but I purchase it in honor of my Josephine

A recent favorite is Les Vignes De Bila-Haut Cotes Du Roussillon.  This was one of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of 2009. A strong red wine, full of the taste of ripe berries, with a nice long finish and a nose that invites you to take it all in.   You should try this one, for sure.

Yangarra 2008 McLaren Vale Shiraz from Australia. I enjoyed this with family on my vacation on the Carnival Liberty.  Again this is an adult wine with full body, and oh-what-a-taste, and again, with a fantastic nose.

Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, from the dining room on the Carnival Liberty. This wine was voted best restaurant wine in 2009.  Eighty-four % Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petite Sirah, 4% Merlot, 2% Syrah, 1% Malbec.  I voted  this wine the most drinkable.  Just a great bottle of wine.

So, the light is fading, I can’t see the vapor trails anymore, on the red and green lights on the plains.  I’m feeling the effects of the wine.  I’m thinking about my dad who had a poem that goes “Life is real and life is earnest and the grave is not the goal.  Therefore, we should be up and doing ‘cause we can make our life sublime.  And in so doing be like the great men who have gone before us and leave our footprints in the sands of time.”

At Stags Leap Vineyard there are no footprints, but handprints of 30 individuals who revolutionized the wine business.  They created the New World of wine, proved to the world that great wine can be made anywhere, that good land, hard work and commitment to quality can be combined with water and sun.

These people were not gods, they were like you and me; there was an immigrant fleeing Communism in Russia, poverty in Corasia, a dancer, a dentist, a burnt out lawyer, a philosophy professor who wanted to live closer to nature, x-military people, and a real estate agent … just ordinary people who had a passion for wine.

In some small way, I feel as if I’ve been talking to them, while thinking about the wines above.  So I lift my glass to them, and to you, Salute and good night.


The Merlot Malay

The Merlot Malay

This story begins on a Tuesday morning after a terrible weekend with me thinking about ending my writing about wine, I was thinking who cares what I think, the answer no one!

Well, if you ever get the feeling no one cares miss, a car payment.

I get an e-mail from a professional friend who tells me he just met with a wine rep who has a hot new inexpensive wine called Rotation and would I take a bottle and write a review?  Wow, someone does listen to me, who knew!

So I went and purchased a bottle of Merlot, they also make a Chardonnay but I just don’t get along with white wines.

My research into Rotation has not revealed much of anything.  I found no website, which is really odd for a wine company.  The label on the bottle is very tame by wine standards.  I couldn’t find any information on the wine maker either Sam Jennings.

The name Rotation refers to the company using old, excuse me (Matured) wine, and blending with new fresh wine and I started to get a picture of what is going on.

So, I was thinking if this wine was great what would it be great in comparison to?  And if I was the only one who tried it how good would that be vs several people’s experience.

AH, wine tasting party, Merlot night at Griffy’s.  I started calling around and struck out.  No one was going to be around.

Well, there was me, and there was Josephine so undaunted we pushed forward. We were joined late in the evening by Josephine’s brother and girl friend.

Another wine in the tasting was Toad Hollow Merlot 2007.  If you have not heard of Toad Hollow please visit their website.  Toad Hollow was a joint venture of two friends “Dr. Toad “Todd Williams and “The Dancing Badger” Rodney Strong.  Rodney Strong, who was a professional Dancer, couldn’t see himself as an aging dancer but could see himself as an aging wine maker.  He is one of icons of the late 60’s early 70’s wine makers who made the American wine industry what it is today.   Please read his story it’s a great story, it’s an American story, and the antithesis of the Obama and OWS crowd.  They didn’t just build a company, they built an industry, and yes Mr. President they did it by themselves!

While I’m close to the subject may a suggest anyone interested in wine, read the book “Judgment of Paris” by George Taber.  This is a great book about the development of California Wine from the late 50’s to the mid 70’s.  The movie “Bottle Shock” which is a real wine term is loosely based on this book.  For me it’s been a great read, but remember I read a 349 page book on corks too!

The third entry was a Chateau Ste. Michelle 2009 Indian Wells Columbia Valley.  I’ve had this wine for about a month waiting for a good reason to open it.  Usually my good reason for opening a bottle of wine is because it’s here and I want to drink it.

I’ve written about Chateau Ste. Michelle wines before and I’m a fan.  This one is rated a 90 by Wine Spectator and a 92 by Wine Enthusiast.


Color, all three wines had  good color. The Rotation was the thinnest of the three but still respectable.  Both the Toad Hollow and Ste. Michelle were dark blue/ purple. Rotation was redder than merlot should be.

Nose, the Rotation and the Ste. Michelle had only a faint nose, rather disappointing.  The Toad Hollow had wonderful nose rich dark berries.  I enjoy sniffing the Toad Hollow as much at tasting. The nose of the Ste Michelle got better with time, the best way to enjoy this wine would be to open the day before and then drink.

Taste, here’s where the rubber meets the road; all three were good, the Rotation was the weakest, due to its youth, taste improved with chilling.  I was expecting a better showing from Ste. Michelle.  The wine differently improved after opening and the wine absolutely should be decantered for several hours before drinking. The Toad Hollow was great right out of the box and only got better, until it was gone.  It was the clear hands down favorite of the three.  Favor of red berries spice and vanilla.

Now the rule is for a tasting a wine is you should not want to know the price until after you decide if you like it or not.  But for information sakes here are the cost of the wines were; Rotation 9.99, Toad Hollow 12.99 and Chateau Ste. Michelle $17.99.

Bottom line is price is a poor barometer of a wine.  The taste of the inexpensive and most expensive was almost indistinguishable.  Nothing will replace research and experience in determining what the best wine is for you.

My search for the Great White wine continues, and white wine lovers are going to cringe,  I found a great Moscato  Linda Donna from Puglia, sweet as a coke, but on a warm Sunday, sitting in my back yard after doing my lawn, reading the paper, listening to Bocelli, this wine was a home run.  Yes, life is good.  I know at least 10 Chardonnay drinkers are weeping somewhere.

Remember when you drink wine, you taste a little of human history.

A bottle of good wine, like a good act, shines ever in the retrospect” — Robert Louis Stevenson