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.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wine Monkey

My wife discovered the Wine Monkey while browsing at BevMo's 5 cent sale. We rarely go to this sale, but Jose's fond remembrance of the Palo Alto Red makes me want to find it now and again. Finding it for half price is even better.

My initial reaction to the Wine Money was that it was almost as tacky as the flip-flop wine coasters we saw at La Nebbia, but she wanted one, so what could I do. I'll let you be the judge.

Wine Monkey

The back of the box encourages me. "With the Wine Monkey, I went from party zero to party hero!" I guess there's hope for me yet.

La Nebbia

In a last ditch effort to get one more Santa Cruz Mountain's winery in before Summer ended, my wife and I headed to La Nebbia late Sunday afternoon. La Nebbia is location in Half Moon Bay, which means we had to take the dreaded two laned highway 92. 92's speed limit is 45 MPH, but I don't think we got over 20. Thankfully, the trip went pretty fast, only taking 45 minutes; the GPS said it should have taken 33 minutes.

The pumpkins were starting to appear for Half Moon Bay's big Pumpkin Festival that they have every year.

The place was packed, but we got lucky and found a spot.

The tasting room was nice, though a tad small, the bar holding maybe six comfortably. There were 12 people in the room when we came in, the rest of the people must have been in the outdoors area. It took close to ten minutes before we were offered any service; two couples were attempting to settle up, which seemed to preoccupy the hostess. The hostess later ranked the busy level at the time a 2 out of 10; I can't imagine how slow a 10 would have been.

Tasting was $8 for 7 wines and a decent, though a tad small, souvenir glass. The fee is not refunded if you purchase any of the wine, which I guess makes sense given the glass. Given the choice I wouldn't have paid for the glass, but it's not a choice. On the plus side, the glass is usable as a backup, unlike most other souvenir glasses I have purchased, which are way too small.

Souvenir Glass Compared to a Normal Glass

The tasting room contained a gift shop area, with various oils, jams, some refrigerated bottles of their whites, and meats, as well as various wine products. Sue found the perfect wine coasters: Flip flop coasters! How silly.

Flip Flop Coasters

The wine was hit or miss, mostly miss for me. We tried three whites: A Sauvignon Blanc, a Chard, and a sparkling wine. The sparkling wine was very sweet; after a sip I let my wife enjoy the rest. We also tried four reds: A Sangiovese, which was nice, a Zinfandel, a "mystery" Merlot, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Sue liked the Merlot in addition to the Sangiovese, which was a mystery because it wasn't from the winery; the hostess actually referred to it as such. We passed on the $2 port tasting; it was served in a chocolate cup, which made it tempting.

La Nebbia had a huge outdoor area with picnic tables and two very nice bocce courts. There were lots of groups, spread out, and having a good time. Parts were a little run down, but as a gathering spot, I think it worked well.

A Witch Shrubbery

In the tasting room they had a cabinet of glass pumpkins. The creator of these beautiful items was blowing and answering questions near by. He had some really cool looking jelly fish lamps, in addition to numerous other items.

We were told about their Bottle & Cork days, where you bring a bottle, pay $5, and they fill and cork your bottle. It sounded kinda fun.

We headed out, back over the mountain.

Winery Details

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wish List Decanters

I'm not a big shopper, but every now and then I look at the crazy decanters from Riedel and imagine what I would do if I ever won the lottery.

I love the look of this one. It could help set the mood on a romantic night.

Sommeliers Black Tie Amadeo Decanter

Amadeo Decanter

I'm not certain what the difference is between these two, besides price. They are both pure beauty that I've seen in action once at a wine maker's dinner I was lucky enough to attend. It was very impressive, elevating the already elegant dinner.

Sommeliers Black Tie Decanter

This one is similar to the Amadeo, but it's different enough to warrant a mention.

Wine Read : Santa Cruz mountain winegrowers: Cool weather means fewer grapes, better quality

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Zinfandel Large Group Blind Wine Tasting

The jackal and his wife joined us for a Zinfandel blind tasting.

I wanted to start at 6, since it's getting cold and dark earlier these days. By 6:15 everyone but Jose and Lili were there. We took a vote and the consensus was to wait until they arrived. I pulled out a 2009 Marilyn Remark Viognier to keep the growing unrest at bay.

Michel had arrived a little early and had prepared a lovely plate of pâté with bread. Pâté isn't really my thing, but in the spirit of expanding my tastes I gave it a try. It tasted meaty, which, to me, was a strange taste for a spread. Bob and Carolyn had also arrived a little early with cheese and crackers. So much cheese that I had to wonder if they had left any in the store. Carolyn assured us all that the cheese choosing was all Bob. 15 minutes after arriving Bob was still preparing his incredible cheese plate.

Bob Preparing the Cheese Plates

The Cheese Plates' Legend

Park entertained with tricks on his diablo.

Park and His Diablo

Bob brought out his beautifully arranged and plentiful cheese plates. We all dug in. Everyone enjoyed each other's company while waiting. About every 5 minutes someone called or texted Jose. He said he was on the way, so we sat tight. Bob joked that we were having a wake for the late Jose. The cheese was spectacular! Indulging in it whet everyone's appetite for a glass of wine.

Finally, Jose arrived sans Lili. She wasn't feeling well, but was kind enough to prepare lasagna for us. Sue and Kait randomized the bottles and we started tasting the 5 wines, one by one. At some point Bob told a joke about an infinite number of mathematicians going into a bar and ordering a drink. I can't remember the rest. I do remember that he said Carolyn laughed when she originally heard it. I don't remember if anyone else laughed that night. While tasting I brought out a couple of aroma wheels. Carolyn and Ling entertained us by finding strange aromas such as mousy. This wine smells mousy, yum!

Carolyn & Ling Find Silly Smells Like Mousy

Bob & Carolyn Talk With Ling & the Jackal

Now This is How you Eat Pâté

After we tasted the originally planned 5, we threw in 3 more. Bob and Carolyn, Carlos and Ling, and Sue and I had an extra on hand that we brought to share.

After compiling the ratings, I went crazy and opened the other three Zins I had in the house. I opened a Storrs Rusty Ridge so Jose could argue his case that it was actually a Pinot. I next opened a Ridge East Bench, because I knew Bob liked it so much. Lastly, I opened a 2007 Picchetti Bellicitti Zin. Michel tasted it and said, "Now this is a five!"


Top to Bottom from Left to Right

G - 2008 Dry Creek Vineyard, Sonoma County, Heritage came in first with an average rating of 3.875. Bob and Carolyn brought this. It cost $27.

E - 2007 Dry Creek Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Beesen Ranch came in second with an average rating of 3.5625. Jose brought this. It cost $30.

C - 2005 Green & Red Vineyard, Napa Valley, Tip Top Vineyard came in third with an average rating of 3.03125. Ling and Carlos brought this. It cost $26.

D - 2007 Dashe, Florence Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley came in fourth with an average rating of 2.875. Sue and I brought this. It cost $28. I found this by googling for the best Zinfandel in California, which lead me to The Best Zinfandels in California: Tasting at ZAP 2010. I then picked one of the best rated wines.

H - 2008 Ridge, Paso Robles, Benito Dusi Ranch came in fifth with an average rating of 2.875. Ling and Carlos also brought this. It cost $30. I did not make it clear to them that group favorites were not allowed. I thought this was the best wine of the tasting.

A - 2009 Hartford, Russian River Valley, Dina's Vineyard tied for sixth with an average rating of 2.5625. Bob and Carolyn also brought this. It cost $55.

B - 2008 Storybook Mountain Vineyards, Napa Estate, Mayacamas Range also tied for sixth with an average rating of 2.5625. Michel brought this. It cost $30. He said it came highly recommended from one of the staff at K&L. He joked that he would return to K&L to discuss its showing.

F - Martinelli, Russian River Valley, Jackass Vineyard came in dead last with an average rating of 1.8125. Sue and I also brought this. It cost a whopping $95! I noticed it on the front page of the website I bought the Dashe at: Wine Ranger Cellars. The site said it received a 94 from Robert Parker. I'll admit, I went a little crazy with this order and was incredibly disappointed to find a sweet, jammy wine. If you haven't guessed already, Sue was not consulted on this purchase.

The Results in Ted's Trademarked Format

Once again we proved that money doesn't necessarily matter, or perhaps we just don't have that expensive tastes. Either way, I'm not certain I'll learn.

What is amazing is that Dry Creek took first and second. Years ago Jose and Lili put on a blind tasting and Dry Creek came in second, after Burrell School Pinot.

We headed inside to try some of Lili's lasagna, and Sue's chicken and dumplings.

Obligatory Sue with Wine Glass Shot