Where no wine has gone before!

This is a Griffy on Wine Quickie!

How many Star Trek fans do we have?  I’m one, I have loved the series since I was a kid.  Pains me to read the series has been around for 50 years.  The only spanking my father ever gave me was because I wouldn’t leave a store until Star Trek was over, my mother, that’s another story, I bet they are still digging up spatulas in the back yard of the house I grew up in. 

This story comes from Wine Spectator, announcing that Star Trek now has its own wine.


• For centuries, winegrowers have planted grapes in some of the world’s most remote terrains in search of the finest terroir. More recently, vintners have started aging wine at the bottom of the sea. We’ve even seen wine fermented with meteorites from outer space. But now a wine marketing team is going where no wine has gone before—to a 50-year-old science fiction series for inspiration. The space-age-sounding Vinport, with CBS Consumer Products, today announced the impending arrival of Star Trek wines, featuring labels by artist Juan Ortiz, known for his retro-styled prints depicting episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series. The initial run will feature three labels honoring classic episodes: “Mirror, Mirror,” “The Trouble with Tribbles” and “The City on the Edge of Forever.” The wine is a Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc blend from Sonoma made at Viansa winery. There are 1,701 cases available, and the bottles are priced at $25 each. Appropriately, the wines are only available for purchase as futures at Vinport.com (or you can press your luck and wait until they come out July 1).

Boldly going where no wine commentator has gone before!




Dead Bolt



Would you believe that I discovered Dead Bolt  months ago while interrogating a secret California wine distributor in my ultra-plush underground wine cellar located hundreds of feet under the earth and protected by tons of concrete and steel?  Okay, I can sense some skepticism.  Chances are good I discovered this week’s wine during an early morning tasting at one of my favorite wine stores back in February, right before Josephine threatened to take away my credit cards if I didn’t stop buying wine! 

I’ll let you decide which one sounds cooler. 

With all that being said, “Dead Bolt” is a terrible name for a very good wine.  It’s produced by Pernod Ricard USA which is a huge Spirits and Wine company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the French company Pernod Ricard SA.   With all that going for them you’d think they’d come up with a better name. 

The winemaker is Phillp Laffer, who made his bones producing wine in Australia.  He was also the winemaker for Pernod Ricard’s other brands: Jacob’s Creek, Wyndham and Richmond Grove.  You can definitely taste that Australian influence in the Dead Bolt. 

The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Syrah and Syrah from California. The color is a deep purple, while the nose has a distinctive red fruit fragrance that pulls me in every time.  As for the flavor, it is an excellent blend of dark cherries and spice. 

This wine is 100% contrived, it’s a big factory wine and I want to hate it but I can’t, it was just too good.  Dead Bolt is a wine made to attract market share, not a serious wine made by the winemaker’s desire to express himself or the grapes.  I prefer more artesian wines and I’ll continue to search for those while avoiding big factory wines.  However, if you’re having friends over for burgers this would be would be an absolutely safe wine to serve, a real crowd pleaser.  Enjoy!

As we enjoy Memorial Day please remember it was not the orator who gave us freedom of speech — it was the veterans. It was not the priest or preacher who gave us freedom of religion — it was the veterans. And likewise, it was not the journalist who gave us freedom of the press — it was the veterans.  “IF” we are grateful for all our freedoms, and for the last few years I think we are not, then please remember the men and women who are proudly called veterans.




A few weeks ago when I was asking what wine I should review for the blog’s 1000th view I got an email from a new reader.  She had a suggestion for two wines, one a very fine Rioja, the other a Gevrey-Chambertin, which I had never heard of.  Hardly a shock, but if you have been reading me for a while you know if I hear of it, I have to drink it.
So off I went to the wine store. The wine I selected was Gevrey-Chanbetin, Clos Prieur, Frederic Esmonin 2011.  Prior to 1987 the wines produced by Esmonin were sold to negociants like Leroy and Jadot.  Some of the great wines from Leroy of the 1950’s were reported to be from Esmonin.  In the 1990’s wines from Domaine Frederic Esmonin lacked consistency, however today they are considered best buys.
The wine is a classic Pinot Noir with a crystal clear red color that, when held to the sunlight, was nothing short of spectacular!  The nose was slight–berries and flowers–and blew off quite quickly, while the palate was nice with a splash of the berries and some minerality.  I’d pair this with fish; it would go great with salmon.  This is a French wine, which means its subtle, slight; its girly wine.  This is not to say I didn’t enjoy it, it’s just I like more brass and less strings in my wine.
The French are all about terroir; the soil, bedrock, exposure to the sun, wind, water, rootstock and local climate.  Gevrey-Chanbertin is in Burgundy, one of the world’s most famous terroirs, and the home of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  This is also where one of my favorite wines, Beaujolais, comes from, but don’t tell Philip the Bold it will piss him off!
Burgundy is considered as the most terroir-conscious of all the French wine regions.  This meticulous delineating of vineyards from Grand Cru vineyards down to Aunt Sadie’s backyard dates back to medieval days, when various monasteries played key roles in developing the Burgundy wine industry.
Wine has been growing in Burgundy since 2nd century AD, and they think my celtic ancestors may have been drinking wine from here when the Romans showed up in 51 AD.  The wine has been compared once again to the famous Falermian wines.  It was the Benedictines that started the whole terroir thing by building walls around vineyards called Clos.  They were the first to notice that different vineyards plots gave consistently better wines.
This wine is pricy.  Even this “best Value” was about $24 which is on my high end.  It’s worth it for the experience.  Please as always if you have a wine you love let me know, so I can love it too!

Barbera Del Monferrato Maraia 2011


This week’s wine, the Barbera Del Monferrato Maraia 2011, is listed as number 66 on Wine Spectators top 100 wines for 2012.  This wine made me think of a brand new sail boat: like buying something that you saw at the boat show in January and getting the call from the boat yard to come down and take delivery, pure excitement and joy.  This is, of course, an odd feeling because not only have I never owned a sail boat, I don’t even know how to sail!
But, as I savor this wine I’m stuck the image of a beautiful new sleek sail boat.  The color was crimson red and bright, like the fiberglass and chrome of the hull.  The 2011 is a young wine vintage so the aroma was also very youthful, with lots of fresh red fruit.  With regards to the taste, and staying with the nautical analogy, I like battleships: big, bold, explosive wines, blasting through big waves with flourish.  This wine is a 12-meter yacht, gracefully leaning into the wind and going like at bat out of hell.  The taste was great, blackberries and plumbs which I felt were understated.  A fellow taster thought it was tannic and needed decantering, which is odd because I thought it was fine straight from the bottle.
It’s this difference in opinion that brings me to the next point about this wine, controversy!  I have read that many people don’t understand how this wine made Wine Spectators Top-100 list.  I guess I’m not smart enough to even ask the question.  This wine is no Nebbiolo, don’t expect miracles just because it’s on the top 100 list at $12!  What you have with this wine is a well put together wine from a top rated vineyard, Marchesi di Barolo, that gives great expression to the Barbera grape.  To put it bluntly, just drink it!  It’s a day sailor that will make you feel like you’re at the helm of something more elegant.
Now, should your budget allow you to move a little higher on the price scale, and you want to more fully explore Machesi di Barolo’s skill with grapes, plunk down the $75 to $80 for a bottle of Barolo Sarmassa 2007.  This is a luxury ride and winner of the Gambero Rosso coveted “tre bicchieri.”  If you do try a bottle, let me know what you think.  Enjoy!
Hi folks, Griffy here.  I’m very excited about  getting 68 hits on one day this week and I thank you all for pitching in by contacting friends to read the post.  If your new I hope you stay, I hope you liked the content and found value for your time spent.  I love Italian wines and I’ve got some absolute gems in the cellar that I’ll be talking about soon.  I also love exploring new varietals, stuff that I’ll bet you’ve never heard of, but once you know about them,  you’ll want to try as much as I do.  My travel plans over the next half year also have me expecting to tell you about some cool new wines.  Please stay with me and if you know of a wine (snob) Enthusiast drop them a note to drop by and check the blog out.

Blending wine with Philanthropy


Some organizations just have the ability to perform good deeds.  United State Marine Corps come to mind, the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity, but the wine industry also stands out as a group of people who never seem to tire of doing good for the world.
I’ve never heard of a Celebrity Beer auction–I’m not saying they don’t happen but I’ve never heard of one–and don’t get me wrong, beer drinkers are wonderful people, but in 2012 the top-10 wine Auctions raised $26 million for charity.  That’s the 10 biggies, there are hundreds, if not thousands more, and they help fund children’s education, cancer research, art museums, hospitals, food programs and opera companies.
Giving back to the community can take many forms.  Some are one shot efforts, such as wine donations to the above Charity auctions.  Others take a longer-term approach, selecting either groups or causes they wish to support over the span of years.  The Trinchero family of Trinity Oaks Wines, for example, has the One Bottle One Tree program.  You buy a bottle of wine, they plant a tree.  They work with an organization call Trees for the Future and so far have planted over 8 million trees.  These trees help change people’s lives by giving them income, fuel, increasing animal habitat, and stabilizing water supplies.
Cavivintas Winery’s tag line is “Blending Wine with Philanthropy,” so, yeah I stole it.  Even their name is a clever blend: the combination of the Latin term for Charity and the French word for wine.  20% of the purchase price of a bottle of Cavivintas wine goes to help support older dogs, pit bulls and other high-risk dogs.
Ehlers Estate vineyard is totally owned by a charity called the Leducq Foundation.  The vineyard was owned by Jean Leducq who passed it on to his foundation.  100% of the proceeds go back to the foundation, who’s stated mission is to improve health through international cardiovascular research.
These charitable deeds aren’t limited to just vineyards.  Liquor stores do a tremendous amount of charity work and fund-raising.  One local shop to me just sponsored a tasting of all 90-plus rated wines.  All the proceeds from the door went to the Lion’s club, plus 10% of any sales made during the tasting.  I have seen many other local establishments organizing wine tastings and wine dinners to benefit charities.
Today’s wine was brought to my attention by one of my co-workers, we call her Alpha.  This wine was made and sold to benefit the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire.  Being an animal rights activist she purchased far more bottles than she would ever drink on her own so I became the beneficiary of her passion for animals.  The wine was made in New Hampshire at the Grape Time Winery, which grew from a micro-Brewery called IncrediBREW.  The wine had a very nice deep color, nothing of a nose, good enough taste–I defiantly could taste bananas–and a slightly bitter finish.
The wine is a Pinotage and hails from South Africa.  It’s a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Rhone’s Cinsault from “Hermitage,” hence Pinotage.  The plan was to develop a grape with the flavor of Pinot Noir that was easier to grow.  The result is a red wine with a deep red color, a taste of banana’s paired with other tropical fruit, and unfortunately sometimes an aroma that smells like paint.  This is a 100% new world grape not found in Europe.  It is often used in blending (“Cape” Blends) and is also used in making a fortified port-style wine.
Now, I’m not saying that Wine people are the most charitable people in American.  All in all Americans gave away $286.91 billion to charities.  Some of the statistics I learned from the Politics of Giving were very interesting; the poorest state in America, Mississippi, gave the second most of all states to charity.  Connecticut the richest state in the Union was very near the bottom in charitable gifts.  The number one most benevolent state was Utah.  Vermont dead last, in fact all of New England states were near the bottom of the charitable list.  Conservatives were more generous in there giving than Liberals.  Religious people donate more to charity than non-religious people.
So, what is it about wine that brings out the charitable side of people?  I think there is something about wine that fosters communal harmony.  Most wine drinkers I know don’t drink alone; they like to share the wines they discover.  Marketing research shows that spirits and beer drinkers tend to be very brand loyal, they like Bud or they like Jack Daniels.  Wine drinkers are looking for something new almost every time, even if they are not particularly adventurous, they end up being so by default as every vintage is different.  Wine drinkers talk to one another, it’s that need to reach out and talk that lead me to writing this blog.  I found something  good and I wanted to share.  Wine growers tend to be smaller and more local, more attached to the environment and community.  They are more approachable so they are easier to talk to about your cause and enlist their support.   WE are saving the world one glass at a time!  Well done, Carry on!

Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon 2008


I wish I had purchased this wine a week earlier for two reasons; first, it was on sale, so I could have saved two dollars and then I could have had it for my Cabernet Competition.  Believe me when I say the results would have been different!  So fire up the printers, Nederburg is a name you should remember when shopping for wine.
Let’s talk about the wine: the color was a wonderful dark-crimson red, not at all watery.  The nose was good but not perfect as I found it blew away too fast, but typically what I like in the nose others report as overpowering…wimps!  Though I wouldn’t call it bold, the flavor of the Nederburg was fuller than any of the four from last week, and well balanced too.  I guarantee you’ll love the taste of this wine, I’ve shared it with three other people so far and all have been impressed.
So, how did I find this wine?  Well, I’m an example of what you get when you combine a wine slut and compulsive researcher; I’m promiscuous in my wine buying.  Seriously, I’ll buy anything that somehow winks at me—a retail clerk’s recommendation, a mention in a magazine—I’m easy.  On the other hand I read, research, fact-check and investigate everything I drink.  The history of the vineyard, an interesting grape, or the location is generally what grabs me and pulls me into buying a wine.  This wine had it all; a price-tag of only $10, a vineyard that has been in continuous operation since 1791 located in South Africa, a place mind you that is very similar to California in the late 70’s early 80’s where wine making was busting loose.  Exciting things were happening and you could still afford to buy a bottle.
I strongly suggest you visit the Nederburg website www.Nederburg.com for a video on the history of the vineyard and a look at the other wines they make.  I’m already looking to buy some more.  Speaking of South African wines, did you know Nelson Mandela’s daughter and granddaughter have launched a wine label?  Sales of “House of Mandela” go to help the poor in South Africa.  Have you ever noticed how many women are wine makers, or how wine is a source of helping people grow economically?  .
At one time one of the world’s great wines, “Constatia,” came from a Vineyard near Cape Town, which is still in operation today.  The history of wine in South Africa can be traced to the Dutch East India Company.  They produced wine for the sailors on ships carrying spice from India to Europe to help ward off scurvy.  This also led them to develop port style wines that wouldn’t spoil on the long, hot trips.  Over 450,000 people are employed in the wine business is South Africa.  I expect to be learning more about the Wines of South Africa, and if Nederburg is any indication, my obsessive-compulsive wine behavior should be well rewarded!