Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Sherman Cellars Groupon

In September I purchased a $25 for Wine-and-Chocolate Pairing for Two and $25 Toward a Bottle of Wine ($55 Value) groupon for Sherman Cellars in downtown San Jose. We had never been to Creekview Vineyards and it was just a good enough deal to prod me to go. Besides, how can you go wrong with a wine and chocolate pairing?

Sherman Cellars, a tasting room exclusively for Creekview Vineyards, was easy enough to find, located a block from San Jose's downtown park just 15 minutes from our house. On the way we realized that the groupon said we needed reservations. Sue gave them a ring and luckily they said to come on in.

Tim Gallant, the cellar manager, met us at the door and guided us through the tasting. He told us all about the winery, wine, and chocolate. He was very approachable and we had a pleasant conversation with him. Tim told us that a high percentage of their business comes from the downtown convention centers and hotels.

Our tasting was paired with Brix Chocolate, chocolate created by a pulmonologist specifically to pair with wine. The story is: Dr. Nick Proia would meet with friends monthly to drink wine and eat cheese. The doctor didn't think the cheese was very healthy, so he created the chocolate, which was healthier. The chocolate enhanced the tasting quite nicely. Chocolate or cheese both work for me, health benefits or detriments aside.

The tasting room was a tad small, with room for two, or three couples tops at the bar. It was nicely decorated, with even a Charlie Brown Christmas tree up. Local artists had jewelry, glass infusion, and even some grandma's gardens wine aprons on display, ready for purchase. The front door of the place was open which made it a little cold, on the brisk autumn day.

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

The tasting started with a nice sparkling wine, which was too sweet for me, but Sue gladly enjoyed both of our pours. The Pinot was a little bland, but I liked it. We tasted a very nice old vine Zinfandel, from vines at least 150 years old., which I thought Jose might enjoy. We also tried an old vine Mourvedre, which Tim said he had to decant for 48 hours to get all the flavors out of, while writing tasting notes. All in all we tried 7 wines, most of which were very nice.

After spending a good hour enjoying the tasting, we purchased a selection of wine and a pack of chocolate to enjoy in the future. Sherman Cellars is a nice place to visit if you can't take the time to get out of the city.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dirty Cabs, Done Dirt Cheap

After the $20 Dry Creek won the last Cab tasting, I thought maybe we should try to taste some of the inexpensive cabs. I called up John, the residential two buck chuck expert, and he said he was in; he would save a bottle from a good batch. Of the Usuals, only Bob and Carolyn were able to attend.

John had previously never been to a tasting, but has always suggested I throw in a Two Buck Chuck. I've always suspected this was less about keeping it honest and more about making fun of enthusiasts. I've considered it, but it didn't seem to fit the mood of the tastings, nor did it seem honest. John usually drinks 4 ounces a night for medicinal purposes, whereas I usually drink a glass or two a night for enjoyment.

We had some cheese left over from Sue's day care party earlier that day. I went to Whole Foods to fill in the gaps. I brought back three triple creams: a cow brie, a goat brie, and a truffle cow's brie that I've been warming up to since encountering it at Ted and Shannon's a couple of times. It was easy to choose a triple cream, but I wasn't sure on any of the others. In the end I over filled just the one gap.

I wasn't really looking forward to tasting inexpensive wine. I've had some experience trying to find a cheap Pinot in the past, and it was pretty frustrating. I threw in a more expensive wine to wet my appetite and add a bit of mystery to the event.

I informed everyone that the tasting included a Dry Creek, a Two Buck Chuck, and a bottle over $20. We poured the wines 3 at a time, allowing for some comparing; we didn't have enough glassware to handle a glass per wine, which would have been 35 glasses.

After tasting and enjoying cheese, some great bread Bob brought from the baker at Oracle, and each other's company, we tallied the ratings.


Top to Bottom from Left to Right

G - 2010 Charles Shaw, California aka Two Buck Chuck came in first place with an average rating of 3.14. It cost $2. John brought this. It was saved from a good batch.

E - 2007 Conn Creek, Napa Valley came in second place with an average rating of 2.84. It cost $17. Sue and I brought this. I found it on K&L, it was the Top Pick! of the Cabernet category.

D - 2007 Dry Creek, Dry Creek Valley came in third place with an average rating of 2.66. It cost $19. Sue and I also brought this. It was the cornerstone of the tasting since it won the last Cab tasting.

B - 2007 Kendall-Jackson, Grand Reserve, Sonoma County tied for fourth place with an average rating of 2.64, barely under the Dry Creek. It cost $20. Sue and I also brought this. Bob and I were doing some searching on K&L and somehow came across this. Believe it or not, it was given a 90-93 by Parker, 91 by Wine Enthusiast, and a 90 by Wine & Spirits.

C - 2008 Simi, Alexander Valley also tied for fourth place with an average rating of 2.64, barely under the Dry Creek. It cost $20. Bob and Carolyn brought this. Carolyn found this at a target. It was her first wine buy ever.

F - 2010 Robert Modavi, Private Selection, California came in sixth place with an average rating of 2.5. It cost $9. Bob and Carolyn also brought this. Bob referred to it as Hubba Bubba.

H - Oak Creek, California came in seventh place with an average rating of 2.38. It cost $3. John also brought this. He picked it up at CVS, because it was on sale for $2.50, which was close enough to $2 for him.

A - 2007 Kathryn Kennedy, Small Lot Cab, Santa Cruz Mountains came in last place with an average rating of 2. It cost $34. Sue and I also brought this. I rotated it in when I saw it at Whole Foods before the tasting. I'd had it before and always liked it.

The Results in Ted's Trademarked Format


Two Buck Chuck came out on top, while Kathryn Kennedy came in last. It was both surprising and depressing. What does this say? Your guess is as good as mine.

The only wine I rated above a 3, which mean I liked it, was the Dry Creek, which was sweet and chocolaty. The last 3 wines I tasted various forms of cigarette butt, though this left the Two Buck Chuck when it warmed up.

John's wines were easily identifiable, since they were very cold; he kept them in the refrigerator. You would think this would have had a detrimental effect on the scores, but it may have done the opposite.

Afterwards, Sue treated us to some wonderful chili and cornbread. Unfortunately, the salad ended up on the floor in a refrigerator accident.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Friday Night's Alright for Cabing

The Usuals came over Friday night to kick off the weekend with our bi-monthly large group blind tasting. This time we were tasting Cabernet Sauvignon. Unfortunately, Ted and Shannon were not available to defend their UN-DE-FEAT-ED (boom, boom, boom-boom-boom) blind tasting record. On the plus side, Jose would be able to make it. You would think by now I would have had enough blind tastings, but I've yet to come to that point. Actually, I wanted to meet more frequently with the Usuals, but they thought once every couple of months was fine. What LameOs! Don't Cry for Me Argentina, there are always intimate tastings.

Since we were tasting cabs, I wanted to make certain each wine had at least an hour in the decanter to open up. I told everyone to either be there by 6 or arrange to get me their bottle and decanter before then. Everyone but Paul agreed to be there by 6; he brought his wine and decanter in to work on Friday.

We had been experiencing high winds that blew a number of the snowflakes lights on to the roof. Park and I fixed these before everyone arrived.

The house was nicely decorated, thanks to Sue's and the kid's handiwork.

Bob and Carolyn brought a wonderful cheese plate. Michel brought some yummy salmon.

Bob and Michel prepare their dishes

Since it was cold outside, we set up in the family room. It wasn't ideal, but it seemed to work. We set about the task of tasting the 8 offerings, all the while enjoying each other's company, coupled with cheese and salmon.

We tallied the results and ripped open the bags.

Afterward, Sue served us some lovely steak, with shrimp, potatoes, and salad.


Ratings Using Averages

Top to Bottom from Left to Right

C - 2007 Dry Creek, Dry Creek Valley came in first place with an average rating of 3.66. Bob and CJ brought this. It cost $20. Bob wanted to pick up a $20 Kendall Jackson at BevMo after we had chanced on its low cost and high rating, but they didn't have it; the Dry Creek was on sale for $20 with a 95 from Wilford Wong, which seemed like a no-brainer to him.

A - 2005 Duckhorn, Napa Valley came in second place with an average rating of 3.43. Bob and CJ also brought this. It cost $65. Bob picked this up at a liquor store on Ralston that had a good selection of pricey cabs. The Duckhorn had a decent rating of 90 from Wine Spectator and cost below $100.

H - 2007 Stonestreet, Monument Ridge, Alexander Mountain Estate came in third place with an average rating of 3.09. Jose brought this because it was rated 96 from Wine Enthusiast and 95 from Parker. It cost $40 from K&L.

D - 2006 Picchetti, Leslie's Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains came in fourth place with an average rating of 3.06, .03 from third. Sue and I brought this. I believe it cost $40 club case price. We had this in our cellar and figured it would be fun to compare another wine from Monte Bello road.

G - 2009 Caton, Upper Bench, Sonoma Valley came in fifth place with an average rating of 2.89. Michel brought this. It cost $48. He picked this up while tasting at the winery.

F - 2006 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, S.L.V., Estate, Napa Valley came in sixth place with an average rating of 2.84, .05 from fifth. Paul and Jennifer brought this. It cost $110.

E - 2006 Ridge, Monte Bello came in seventh place with an average rating of 2.74. Sue and I brought this. I believe it cost $90 on a great 30% off all wine before noon sale at Whole Foods. K&L sells it for $115, noting Parker gave it a 94+. I've always wanted to try one of these and the sale encouraged me to go crazy. I bought this 3 months ago, knowing we would eventually get to cabs.

B - 2005 Kathryn Kennedy came in last place with an average rating of 2.71. Sue and I brought this. I believe it cost $90 at the same sale I picked up the Monte Bello at. I've seen these bottles go from $120 to $150. Jose and I have indulged in one of these twice: His 50th and Lili's 50th. I don't care what the ratings say, this is a great bottle of wine.

The Results in Ted's Trademarked Format

The Aftermath

Bob and CJ brought #1, and #2! Congratulations!, you rats. :)

After the ratings came out, I was a little shocked. I couldn't believe a Dry Creek was even in the game. It had won two previous Zin tastings. I didn't even know they made a Cab. And wow, a $20 wine wins. Just wow!

I was a little disappointed as well. I was hoping to share some wonderful bottles with my friends. I'm glad I brought what I did, but you have to wonder how wonderful they were when they came in last. In fairness they claim a Monte Bello should be cellars for at least 8 years. We'll see how the one Bob and CJ gave me for my 40th tastes when I'm 50.

Paul was not happy that Jose had given his bottle a 1. They experimented with throwing out the lowest and highest scores before averaging, but this only moved the Stag's Leap up to 5th. It can be frustrating to have a wine you love rated lower than you would like.

Ratings Using Ave Removing Min & Max


Again we proved that cost of a wine doesn't necessarily matter. A mitigating factor here was that we drank some of the more expensive wine probably years before they were at their peak. That said it's hard to argue with a $20 bottle of wine that's ready to drink today, versus a $100 bottle of wine that needs 10 years of cellaring.


After everyone but Jose and Michel had left, I pulled out a couple of Zins from Nicholson I had picked up with Jose in mind on the Windy Oaks trip, which Jose could unfortunately not attend. We split on which one's we liked. He preferred the more jammy one. I sent them both home with Jose.

We also finally got to try out the Palo Alto I had picked up at the BevMo 5 cent sale. This is a wine Jose and I have fond memories of. I'm a little fuzzy on it, but Jose remembers no one liking it. I still have another bottle. I'll open it some time I haven't already tasted 12 bottles.

Wine Read : The Million-Dollar Nose

I was reading thoughts on Parker no longer rating California wine, which I know is old news, and ran across a comment that they ran him out of Burgandy. I googled parker was run out of burgandy? and found The Million-Dollar Nose. I thought it was a great read.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Made in America Christmas, Does Wine Count?

ABC World News has been running a series entitled Made in America Christmas. It's premise is that "if each of us spent just $64 on American made goods during our holiday shopping, the result would be 200,000 new jobs." I know I've spent many times that on local wines. Does that count? If so, shouldn't the local wine producers be trying to get in on this sentiment?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Three Red Burgundies for CJ

While picking up my choices for the Petite Syrah tasting at K&L, I asked about red Burgundies. I have had very few French wines, but every now and then I get curious. I was helped by a knowledgeable, friendly, and enthusiastic gentleman that directed me to try three different regions, suggesting we could explore my preference in the future. I was surprised they were all inexpensive, the most being $26. I had been wiling to pay more, but he said typically the more expensive wines needed to be cellared. It sounded good to me, so I picked them up.

Bob and Carolyn came over Saturday evening for dinner and to help taste. Tasting is always more enjoyable with good company.

We started off tasting the three, which I had decanted for over an hour as suggested. I then threw in a special Oregon Pinot I had picked up for Thanksgiving, thinking it similar enough in taste to make sense comparing. We followed this up trying the bottle Bob had brought, a young Villa del Monte, which everyone agreed was much too young to drink. Lastly, I brought out a Windy Oaks, thinking Carolyn would enjoy the taste; unfortunately, I was wrong.

After all of these, Bob and Carolyn tasted a few of the Petite Syrahs left over from the tasting three nights before. Somewhere in between or after these, I opened a Picchetti Zin to boot, which Bob enjoyed. All the while we enjoyed cheese and good company.


Top to Bottom from Left to Right

A - 2009 Maison Champy Chorey-lès-Beaune came in first with an average rating of 3.25. This is one of the three that were recommended. Carolyn liked it. It cost $24.

B - 2009 Domaine Laleure-Piot (Champy) Cote de Nuits Villages "Les Bellevues" came in second with an average rating of 3.08. This is another of the three that were recommended. I enjoyed it a little more than the previous. It also cost $24.

C - 2009 Domaine Faiveley Mercurey "La Framboisiere" came in third with an average rating of 2.66. This is the last of the three that were recommended. I enjoyed this the most out of the three, though the differences between them was very small. It cost $26.

D - 2007 Domaine Drouhin, "Laurene," Dundee Hills, Pinot Noir came in fourth with an average rating of 2.55, barely behind C. I purchased this for Thanksgiving, though we didn't open it until Friday night, since Thanksgiving we still had a choice of most of the 8 bottles opened the night before. I thought it tasted very similar to a red burgundy, so I added it on a spur of the moment. It cost $65.

F - 2008 Windy Oaks, Estate Cuvee, Santa Cruz Mountains, Pinot Noir came in fifth with an average rating of 2. I picked this up at our trip down the Corralitos wine trail that I have yet to blog about. Windy Oaks specializes in subtle Pinots that are similar in nature to red burgundies. I threw it in because I knew Carolyn likes their Terra Nova and I figured she would enjoy this; I was wrong. It cost $31 for club members (yes, I joined their club).

E - 2010 Villa del Monte, Regan Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains, Pinot Noir came in last with an average rating of 1.5. Bob brought this. He had tasted it the weekend before at the winery. Most agreed it was not ready for consumption. It cost $24 for club members (Bob is a member). Earlier vintages of this wine are interestingly spicy.

The Results in Ted's Trademarked Format


The Burgundies all tasted very subtle and similar. I tended to enjoy more from A - C, while most other enjoyed the opposite. None of the them were spectacular, nor did any of them hint of great things to come, but what do I know. I'll have to do more research. One the plus side, Carolyn did enjoy A, which is rare at a red wine tasting.


After we finished, Sue grilled some wonderful steaks with shrimp skewers, which we enjoyed with salad, cheesy potatoes, my mother's recipe, and corn bread. Yum!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

I've been absent from the wine world, spending most of my time hunting dragons in Skyrim, but I wanted to do something wine related over the long holiday weekend. I thought it would be nice to have Ted and Shannon over. Checking schedules, mostly theirs, we determined that the night before Thanksgiving was the only night that would work. I wanted to taste red Burgundies. Ted suggested giving Petite Syrahs a try. I put the choice to Sue, and she decided on Petite Syrah.

I picked up four bottles from K&L that I had never tasted. The website only had a choice of 59, of which only 16 were available at the Redwood City store. I had to limit it to the store, since I wanted to pick the wine up that day and didn't have any time for transportation. The choice compared to Pinots, for example, was incredibly limited; 356 Pinots were available at the Redwood City store.

Ted and Shannon arrived with 2 bottles. We pulled out the Pinot glasses and got everything set up. Sitting down in front of 6 beautiful glasses of wines ready to taste fills me with excitement, though I imagine I'd feel differently if we didn't have a dishwasher.

We all tasted, sharing our experiences. We shared our initial scores, and then tasted again, adjusting our scores accordingly. Ted and I bet that one of our wines would come out on top.


Top to Bottom from Left to Right

F - 2008 Rutherford Grove, Napa Valley, Spring Creek Vineyard tied for first place with an average rating of 3.5. Ted and Shannon brought this bottle. Ted estimated it cost $37.

B - 2006 Consilience, La Presa Vineyard, Santa Barbara County tied for first place with an average rating of 3.5. Ted and Shannon also brought this bottle. Ted estimated it cost $23.

C - 2003 Robert Foley, Napa Valley came in third place with an average rating of 3.25. It cost $50 from K&L. Sue and I brought this. It was one of the four unknowns I chose from K&L because it had a 92 from Robert Parker.

D - 2005 Turley, Library Vinyard, Napa Valley came in third place with an average rating of 2.88. It cost $70 from K&L. Sue and I brought this. It was one of the four unknowns I chose from K&L because it was the most expensive one they had and it had a good rating from Robert Parker.

E - 2009 Ridge, Lytton Estate, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County came in fourth place with an average rating of 2.38. It cost $28 from K&L. Sue and I brought this. It was one of the four unknowns I chose from K&L because Ridge is a known winery that we like.

A - 2008 Stag's Leap, Napa Valley came in fifth place with an average rating of 1.88. It cost $30 from K&L. Sue and I brought this. It was one of the four unknowns I chose from K&L because Stag's Leap is a known winery and we really like their Artemis.

The Results in Ted's Trademarked Format


Petite Syrah can be saturating. None of the wines we tried really worked for me, the highest score I gave was a 3.5. I'll stick with my old favorites for now.


After we were done, Sue brought out a wonderful dinner: Shrimp and crab enchiladas, chicken nachos, salad, and corn bread. It doesn't take meals like this to remind me how lucky I am, but they do stand out.

Ted was saturated with Petite Syrah and said he would drink something lighter, if anything was open. I pulled out a big gun, a 2007 Burrell School PTA Pinot, thinking I would stump him. Unbelievably, Ted sensed it was a 2007 Burrell. Amazing! I wanted to foil him, so I pulled out another, a 2007 Gary Farrell Pinot and went double or nothing on the $5 I owed him. He was stumped. He first thought it might be a Windy Oak's, but his final guess was a Nicholson Pinot. He may have brought the wine's that tied for first place, but he was unable to determine the second glass I had tried to stump him with. Ha!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The WineRack?

A friend of mine was reading this blog and had this ad appear for The WineRack.

Ad for the WineRack

Here's the description from Amazon:

"The Winerack every girls best friend. Turn an A cup in to double Ds and sport your favorite beverage for yourself and your friends. Better than a Boob Job and Cheaper Too. Not to mention the savings on over priced drinks. We developed The Winerack to Fill Out our product line if you will. The picture shown here is of our good friend Drea, who is not, no offense Drea, Well Endowed. Sporting the Winerack and Voila’ Drea’s giving Pamela Anderson a run for the money. Take a bottle of wine, a mixed drink or even a fifth of your favorite hard stuff to the movies, concerts, ball games, even PTA meetings. Sporting a rack that will turn heads and serving a beverage that will have guys standing in line for a sip of your secret stash. With simple blow into the tube it's easy to keep that full look even as you drink from your secret stash."

Seems a little too close to flip-flop coasters to me and offensive to boot, but what do I know.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wine Read : Drink Cheap Wine

The Wine Curmudgeon pointed me to this article in Slate: Drink Cheap Wine.

I totally agree. As I've said before, wine is all about you. It only matters what you think about a wine. There aren't any right or wrong answers. If you enjoy $3 bottle of wines, awesome!, by all means, enjoy away.

I have yet to find one that cheap that I like, but I would love to. Recently I did find a nice $10 Burgundy at the BevMo 5 cents sale ($10 after getting 2 for $20). After drinking it 5 nights in a row, my wife was asking for some variety, but I could have enjoyed the rest of the case over the next 7 nights. I do like variety, so I doubt I could drink it year round, but maybe.

Wine is an expensive indulgence and lowering your average bottle cost can be important, if you enjoy regularly.

365 * $10 = $3,650
365 * $35 = $12,775

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Halloween Wines

At our yearly Halloween Bash we serve two kinds of sangria, white and red, margaritas, beer, and wine. In the past we have had more takers of margaritas, but these days everyone wants wine. A tasting of Halloween themed wines at Savvy Cellar inspired me to have some at our party.

2009 Owen Roe, "Sinister Hand", Columbia Valley, Rhône Blend

This was part of Savvy Cellars Halloween flight. I found it for $21.99 from K&L.

2007 Dracula, Santa Maria Valley, Pinot Noir

I found this googling for Halloween wines. I bought it in a 3 pack of Halloween Pinots from for $64.95. I see it sell for $34.95 from

2010 Vampire, California, Pinot Noir

I also found this at in the 3 pack. Searches show it retails for $10.

2007 True Blood, Santa Maria Valley, Pinot Noir

This too was part of the 3 pack. lists this for $29.95.

2007 Chateau Du Vampire, Paso Robles, Cabernet Sauvignon

I also found this on for $27.95. I would have preferred a Pinot from Chateau Du Vampire, but they didn't offer one.

I have only tasted the Sinister Hand. We'll see what the guests think.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lot18 Experiences

Lot18 is a membership by invitation, wine, groupon-like website. Here's an invitation if you're curious. There is an incentive to spread the word, since you are given $25 credit if someone you invited purchases something. I bought from it once just to see how it worked, though I generally don't buy wine I haven't tried first. Since I don't know any of the wine, I don't really know if there are any good deals or not.

Now they have a new feature called Experiences, which offer an "exclusive access to the finest wine and culinary adventures". It sounded interesting, so I checked them out and found this $100,000 experience: Great Wine Capitals of the World. Experience eight of the world’s top wine regions for two over 7 weeks. Crazy! I guess this offer is exclusively for 1%.

If someone buys this, I hope the person that referred them gets more than the usual $25 referral fee.

Monday, October 17, 2011

1000 Page Views

It took 4 1/2 months to get 1000 page views. I've made maybe $20 off of ads.

All Time Posts Stats

This totals 387, not certain where the other 613 come from.

One of the main reasons I started blogging was to drive traffic to a web site I developed: So far this hasn't really worked out.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wine Movie : Mondovino

Mondovino, Italian for World of Wine, is an interesting movie about the changing wine world, including the effects of globalization, wine consultants like Michel Rolland, a French version of Leo McCloskey from An Ideal Wine, and Robert Parker's ratings. It presents perspectives of both the old and new guard.

The old guard is represented by a number of likable, mostly cranky, old men. They are all about terroir and tradition. They think wine is a mystic communal between man and nature. The don't mind that it takes 20 years for a Bordeaux to become accessible; it produces a better result. One even goes so far as to pronounce wine dead. One sees the Parkerization of the industry as an American attacking the wine world. They believe brands eventually die, but terroir lasts forever. They bring up interesting points, that raised my interest in the traditional Old World wines of which I haven't had much experience with.

The new guard is interested in accessing as many customers as possible. Some use consultants to improve their wine, sometimes without even understanding what the consultants are doing. The new guard is interested in expanding across country boundaries, to make the best wine everywhere. They regard some of the old guard as country bumpkins.

The movie is mostly a read-a-movie, though some English is spoken. It was impressive that the filmmaker appeared to speak all the languages spoken in the film. The camera work was a bit shoddy at times, some close up of eyes, and lots of jittering. It was also annoying that the camera seemed to favor dogs over the subject, which might be a plus for dog lovers, but wasn't for me.

After seeing this movie I'm very interested in trying a bunch of these wines, especially Domaine de Souch, Opus One, a joint effort of Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Château Mouton Rothschild and Robert Mondavi, and Ornellaia, a wine pronounced #1 in the world after Mondavi took it over. I'm not certain I can convince my wife on a purchase of this size though. I would also love to have a blind tasting pitting the old vs the new. Wiki has the complete list of the vineyards that appeared in the file; gotta love wiki!

I recommend this movie. I really liked it, giving it it four stars out of five.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ugh, The Wine Whore, Really?

I cringed when I found the site The Wine Whore. No, I wasn't googling my fantasies in an incognito browser! I googled, Is an opus one worth the price?, and the result Opus One Sucks the Big One caught my eye.

I hate that word. It's just ugly. Ugh. The site does seem to have some interesting posts, but I can't get passed the name and the innuendos. Pass.

2008 Cayuse "Bionic Frog" Walla Walla Valley Syrah

I was skimming the November issue of Wine Enthusiast and noticed that they gave the 2008 Cayuse "Bionic Frog" Walla Walla Valley Syrah 100 points! It listed the cost as $80. Just for grins I did a search, resulting in bottles costing nowhere near $80, which is already exorbitant.

USA flag
USA (CA): Napa. Add 14% buyer's premium to all bids. Tax payable on auction fees and/or commission.
2008Visit Auction
USA flag
USA (CA): San Francisco. Price excludes sales tax.
2008Visit Store
USA flag
USA (CT): Danbury. Price excludes sales tax.
2008Visit Store
USA flag
USA (NY): Bridgehampton. Price excludes sales tax.
2008Visit Store

Yeow! I think I'll pass.

Just for grins I tried to sign up for their mailing list. Here's their response:


Your name has been added to our wait list. We will contact you as soon as space becomes available on our mailing list. However, just so you are aware, it may be some time before we can offer you some wines--but we will add you as soon as possible.

In the meantime, if you really want some Cayuse, you might be able to find the wines online at and

A waiting list for a mailing list. Wow!

Jan 2, 2013 Update

Dear Rod,
We wish we had better news. You've been waiting patiently for a spot on the Cayuse Vineyards Mailing List, and we see that thirsty look in your eyes. Unfortunately, quantities of our wines are extremely limited, as we can only produce what our vineyards allow.

But please don't give up hope. We look forward to welcoming you to the Mailing List one day in the future. Your perseverance will be rewarded--we promise. Not even a Mayan can predict exactly when that will happen, but since the world didn't end on December 21, it looks like we all have a little extra time.

Best wishes for 2013, and thanks as always for your patience and interest in Cayuse Vineyards.

Jan 5, 2015 Update

Dear Rod,
We wish we had better news. You've been waiting patiently for a spot on the Cayuse VineyardsMailing List, and we see that thirsty look in your eyes. Unfortunately, quantities of our wines are extremely limited, as we can only produce what our vineyards allow.

But please don't give up hope. We look forward to welcoming you to the Mailing List one day in the future, and your perseverance will be rewarded--we promise. Besides, didn't somebody's mother once claim you'd appreciate things more if you had to wait for them? She probably meant well, but had obviously not spent much time on the Cayuse Wait List. 

Best wishes for the new year,
Christophe Baron, Vigneron                  Trevor Dorland, PDG
P.S. We look forward to adding your name to our Mailing List in the future. You can expect to hear from us annually in January regarding your Mailing List status. In the meantime, please let us know of any address or contact information changes. Also, if your patience is wearing extra thin, you might be able to find a few bottles of Cayuse in the retail marketplace at

This is the longest I've been on a waiting list. This must be some good wine. :)

Shiraz/Syrah Large Group Blind Wine Tasting

Keimpe was in town. Normally we go out for drinks and a movie on a Thursday. I asked him about his movie preference and he said he would prefer to do a blind wine tasting with the snob. So we put something together.

Our guests arrived at a mostly decorated house, it being two weeks before our annual Halloween Bash. It was dark by the time we started, nearly 7:30, but thankfully still warm. Summer was unfortunately over. We randomized the bottles into decanters and Paul and Jennifer, Keimpe, Michel, and Sue and I began tasting.

All the bottles were more expensive than Keimpe typically indulged in. At one point he exclaimed, "If this is a $20 Syrah, I'd gladly take an $8". I wished we would have thrown in one of these less expensive wines. Bob was planning to bring one, but unfortunately didn't make it; Carolyn wasn't feeling well. Keimpe promised to give me the name of the bottle he preferred so I could try it.


Top to Bottom from Left to Right

D - 2007 Big Basin Vineyards, Rattlesnake Rock, Santa Cruz Mountains came in first with an average rating of 3.92. Sue and I brought this bottle. I found it searching K&L website for the highest rated Syrah in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In truth, the website only has Syrah's from Big Basin Vineyards. The winery has a tasting room in downtown Saratoga, next to Cinnabar. It cost $54.

E - 2006 Shaw & Smith, Adelaide Hills came in second with an average rating of 3.67. Keimpe brought this. He got it from K&L in Redwood City. It was recommended by the staff when given two constraints: It must be at least $20 and it must have a screw top. He really likes screw tops and I think he thought he would annoy the "snobs" at the tasting with a screw top. It cost $29.

F - 2009 Eric & Joel Durand "Empreintes" Cornas came in third with an average rating of 3.17. Sue and I also brought this bottle. The rules are you can bring one, but when you're hosting who's going to argue. Admittedly I went a little crazy, picking 4 Syrah's. I picked this one because it was French. I thought it would be good to have one from a number of different continents.  It cost $35.

B - 2008 John Duval Wines, Entity came in fourth with an average rating of 2.83. Michel found this on the K&L website. It looked really good on paper, receiving a 94 from Robert Parker, a 93 from Stephen Tanzer, and a 91 from Wine Enthusiast. I too found this wine in my searching. I discovered it to be a duplicate when asking Keimpe about his choice. It cost $32.

A - 2002 d'Arenberg, McLaren Vale, The Dead Arm came in fifth with an average rating of 2.67. Sue and I also brought this bottle. It was the third continent, was rated highly, and was a wine I had dear memories of. Jose had given me one of these some years ago for my birthday. It cost $50.

C - 2005 Shafer, Relentless, Napa Valley came in last with an average rating of 2.42. Paul and Jennifer brought this. It cost $70.

The Results in Ted's Trademarked Format


We maintained two traditions that night. First, the most expensive bottle was last, and second, Paul's bottle was last. The latter prompted Paul to yet again proclaim the next tasting would be different. Of course, Ted insisted that his bottled would have won, had he decided to join us. Ha!

For me, a number of the wines tasted like cab-wanna-bes, with notes of coco and an almost cab taste. I don't recall seeing a single inky Syrah, which is what I think of when I think of Syrah. I haven't had much experience with Shiraz, so I didn't know what to expect.

We retasted as we enjoy the tritip and cheesy potatoes Sue had whipped up for us. My plan was to order pizza, but she didn't think that would do.