Friday, November 30, 2007

Last Night's Tasting - Southern Living Style.....

Last night, we held a tasting at a Southern Living Party in Oceanport, NJ. The tasting went very well, with a smallish, yet interested crowd. There were a few ladies who really seemed to catch on with the Tasting Theme, while others mostly ignored "The Wine Guy" as I was introduced!

Here was last night's LINEUP OF WINES:

2003 Three Trees Pinot Noir ($16US) - The first wine served was the 2005 Three Trees Pinot Noir, Victoria Australia. The "three trees" depicted on the label of the bottle are the Eucalyptus and Bunya Pine trees (indigenous to Australia) flanking the Oak tree which is the quintessential wine tree. The wine is an intriguing mix of subtle fruits and then strawberries with very little of typical pinot noir "terroir" on the nose. This wine was very nice; subtle with a nose of violets and spiderwebs. The taste was mild and enjoyable. A light drinking, enjoyable wine.

2005 El Toqui Chardonnay ($12US) - 2005 El Toqui Chardonnay Riserva, Chile ($12) The Casas del Toqui brand is from the Chacapoal Valley region of Chile, and is produced by the winemaker of Cru Bourgeois from Medoc along with local winemakers and extremely unique terroir at the foot of the Andes Mountains. The house also makes Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah, Carmenere, Merlot, Semillion and some late harvest wines. The Chardonnay is aged in oak barrels and blend tropical fruits with very mild oak flavorings. Not too buttery; this is a more clear and refined version of the Chardonnay grape and has little acidity but not overwhelming fruit.

2004 Pitch Cabernet Washington State ($17US) - This is the prototypical QPR (Quality-Price-Ratio) wine! At a ridiculously low price for its quality, the wine's flavors and well-constructed profiles are more often associated with wines in the $35-$40 price range than the $17 range that you can buy the Pitch for. Pitch is also a great example that Cabernet Sauvignon can be produced in regions other than Napa and be among the better wines at a gathering. Smooth and vibrant, this wine extracts the finer elements of fruit and tannins and resonates on the palate. A great wine for its price+.

2003 Cheyanna Zinfandel Napa, Calif. ($16) - There is a distinctive taste of the Cheyanna Zinfandel that is unusual to Napa Zins. Perhaps the grapes, grown in the Chiles Valley, east of Napa along Catacula Lake are more exposed to more heat during the days and more cool air off the lake in the evenings. Whatever the reason, the fruit is bright...think strawberries with a bit of mild spice, but jammy enough to remind you that it’s Zinfandel that you’re drinking. Taste plums and slight white pepper on the finish. In this price range, this is another QPR winner!

As the party wore on, I was approached and asked if I did in-home private tastings. OF COURSE was the answer, and I have 3 parties coming in the near future, including one that is a surprise X-mas gift to a spouse. Lucky guy.......

If you are interested in in-home tastings or would like to give a gift of a tasting to a friend, loved one or someone who is celebrating a milestone, email me at or call at (732)-804-3690. This is an affordable and really fun way to spend an evening with wine lovers of all categories, from novice to connoisseur.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Oenophobia's Got A Gig!!!

As many of you know, in addition to writing about wine and things related to wine, I have aspirations of opening a winebar in the Monmouth County, NJ area. The beginning stages of that dream are slow in progressing, mostly because liquor licenses are hard to come by and are extremely expensive. In Monmouth County, you can expect to pay over $500,000 for a license to sell liquor.

The winebar is one-half of the Oenophobia business model. The second half is In-Home Wine Tasting And Education. You may be wondering, "What exactly is this and how does it work?"

It's quite simple, and can be a lot of fun and informational for all participants especially for the hosts. How is works is: I (or one of the Oenophobia associates) would come to your home on a night you have planned a dinner party or cocktail party. We would bring wines to the party, the selection of which is the result of a consultation with you regarding price, varietal, theme, etc. We would talk about the wines, allow you to do tastings on each, explaining to you and your guests about what you are tasting and why. We would show you different ways to appreciate wines and how to discern the difference between well-crafted and poorly-crafted wines. We can do blind tastings for more educated wine drinkers and beginners alike. Oenophobia can help someone build a wine inventory for a cellar and can assist in travel planning for trips to Napa and Sonoma. At each tasting, we will provide tasting notes that you can save in a binder or journal to make it easy to remember the wines you are tasting.

In-home wine tastings have been growing steadily in popularity with the Gen X & Y sets as an alternative to entertaining or just going out with friends. As this generation begins having children, time is limited for entertaining or socializing. Oenophobia allows a group of friends to have a social night learning about different wines and how to taste and appreciate wine. In today's wine and liquor marketplace, the 27-40 year old demographic is buying more wine than any other group. People find something in wine that grounds them and we think it is because wine is a natural product, bringing good cheer when so much of the world has become artificial, and impersonal. Wine appreciation is not about getting drunk. At most tastings, we recommend a spit bowl so that tasters can enjoy the flavor of the wines without fear of over-consumption. Realistically, who wants to spit such a flavorful nectar....but someone has to drive home!

So, this Thursday November 29th, we have our first a Southern Living At Home party. For those of you who have never attended a Southern Living At Home party, it is a hostess party, where Person A invites lots of her friends for wine and cheese and to peruse a catalogue of high-quality housewares and foods and they can purchase these items at the party for delivery a short while later. The hostess also receives a credit for use in the catalogue, based on how much her friends buy. This is very similar to many other Hostess Parties, including Tupperware (which I don't even think is being done anymore....what am I, stuck in the 70's!!!??) or Sensaria Natural Bodycare or jewelry parties.

Our Hostess on this night is also a Southern Living distributor, and a friend of ours. When we received her invitation, I thought this would be a great way to launch Oenophobia: The Wine Tasting on a trial basis. On this night, I will be acting as a sales consultant to Tinton Falls Buy Rite and will be pouring 4 wines for tasting. After each tasting, we will discuss the wine and then I will tell the party attendees that they can purchase these wines through me on that night (it they liked them) and we deliver the wine to their home at no additional charge. I will also explain the Oenophobia concept and can take reservations for us to present wines at dinner or wine tasting parties for the attendees.

For me, personally, I want to get the word out that Oenophobia: A Fear Of Wine is alive and well. I want to get more blog subscribers and spread the word of my interest in Wine Education and hopefully create a customer base for the opening of the winebar, Oenophobia.

If you are interested in attending the Southern Living party on November 29th and you are in the Jersey Shore area, it is being held in Oceanport and you can email me at and I will forward the details to you .

Monday, November 26, 2007

Post-Holiday Post

Well, I hope you all had a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you ate a little too much, drank a little too much and laughed a little too much during the long weekend. I had a battle with some low-lying fog at am on the Merritt Parkway, but once I arrived and slept a few hours, I was ready for some Turkey, Football & Wine....not particularly in that order!

The 1st wine of the day (1pm) was a dry Italian red wine from Tuscany. Unfortunately, I can't recall the name of the wine, but it was delicious, with sour cherries and licorice and violets. I wish we had had some Parmigiano Reggiano to go with it, but since it was early Thanksgiving day, we just drank it till it was gone. A big game of "May I, Oh Shit" broke out amongst the family and we opened another bottle, this time it was a 2005 Cameron Hughes Lot 38 Barrossa Valley Shiraz, and it was as good that day as the other two times we drank it. The wine was heavy, deep purple and had a looooong finish. This is not a trifling wine....this baby has some guns! At $14/bottle, it is the best value of the three Cameron Hughes wines we have has so far. Buy some if it is not all gone already at

For the uninitiated, "May I, Oh Shit" is a game played like Gin Rummy, but with up to 8 players and 4 decks going at one time. The game itself is a series of 7 games where you have to have different combinations of cards. Lots of good fun and competitive as hell. Don't sit next to Shari....she's a shark.

We got word that the Birds were ready to come out....yes, I said BIRD-S, as in plural. One traditional and one Cajun. Interesting.... I opened a bottle of Red and a bottle of White and served around the table. Here's what I served:

2005 Titus Zinfandel - Napa Valley $22 - This is the best Zinfandel I have ever had, because the taste of the wine is very un-zinfandel-like while still having some of the characteristics of the varietal that I like. This is not a "HOT" wine, with the alcohol content being so high and the fruit being somewhat thinner, leading people to think that Zinfandel is a wine that needs pairings to be best enjoyed. Once you drink the Titus Zinfandel, you would understand what I mean. I had written about it in the pre-Thanksgiving post, so I won't spend too much time on the wine's attributes. I will say that the wine is a classic example of excellent grapes, grown carefully and harvested at the perfect time and then crafted by someone who KNOWS how to integrate the fruit and alcohol to achieve a melody rather than a two-part harmony. Check out their website at:

2006 Chateau St. Michelle Eroica Riesling $24 - I am not a white wine lover. I am, however, someone who can appreciate the fine attributes of a well-made white wine, when I am forced at gunpoint to drink one. Just kidding....I love me some BIG RED WINE, but I have found a few white wines that are just really, really good. This is one of them. The Erioca is a joint effort of Chateau Ste. Michelle and Dr. Ernst Loosen, one of the famed Riesling producers in Germany. Dr. Loosen collaborated with the winemakers of Chateau St. Michelle to produce a wine with both Sonoma and Columbia Valley, Wa. grapes which bring the medium-dry wines melon and stone characteristics to the table. Named after Ludwig Von Beethoven's masterpiece symphony, the Eroica is a very fine wine, earning 90 pts. for the 2006 vintage from Wine Spectator.

One interesting note: at the end of dinner, I asked a few people to take small pieces of white meat turkey and place them in their mouth. Then I had them sip the Eroica and let the food and wine pair in their mouths. Everyone was amazed that the wine made the dry, bland turkey sing in their mouths when paired with the Eroica. That was a fun end of our food orgy.

Back to the card table and we dranks some special, favorite wines. I brought a bottle of the 2004 Elizabeth Spencer Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon which has been raved about ad nauseum on this blog. It was a first tasting for some of the family members, and let me tell you how much they LOVED this wine. My sister, Karen, who loves wine and writes down all of the wines we partake of together in her journal, tasted this wine and went bonkers at how full-bodied yet, well-structured and fruit forward the wine was. She was in awe, as were the rest of the table.

The second bottle was one of Wendy's favorite bottles from our July trip to Napa, Ca. We visited the Beaulieu Vineyards (BV) tasting room, and somehow wound up in their Reserve tasting room being served an amazing menu of current and library releases. I won't divulge how this happened, but if you come to Napa with me in the future, you'll surely find out! The wine we drank that night was the 2003 BV Tapestry Reserve which is available for around $50 if it can be found. For all of the boldness and fruit-forward taste that the Eliz. Spencer wine had, the BV Tapestry is a classic, like a '57 Chevy or a '67 Corvette. It is smooth, strong, structured, flavorful with a well-honed finish that was neither sharp nor flabby. It was a masterpiece and it was drank in NO TIME. This wine didn't last a single hand of MAY I!
Now that Thanksgiving 2007 is in the books, I'd like to think that all that I am thankful for and all that I am hopeful for in the next year will be mine. I'd like to have you all along for the ride as I embark on a new wine venture. I'm glad you will be there to enjoy the process.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy (Surprise!) Birthday to ME!

This past Saturday, I had the incredible pleasure of being the recipient of a SURPRISE 40th birthday party, held at The Renaissance catering facility in Ocean, NJ. The Renaissance is a beautiful catering hall which can accommodate small and large (250+) parties. The catering is done by my very good friends, Stephen & Joey Falco. They outdid themselves on Saturday night, I will always remember the "extra mile" they went to make my party special. Thanks, guys. I have always told my wife Wendy that I NEVER, EVER want to have a surprise party for any birthday other than my 100th. I figured that at 100 years old, I would walk in, everyone would say, SURPRISE! and I would keel over from a heart attack and die, with a big smile on my face. Who the hell expects to reach 100??!!
But Wendy decided not to listen to my objections and held the party this past Saturday, over 1 month before my actual birthday. I was totally surprised and awe-struck! Even though I did NOT want a party, and even though I was embarrassed at the thought that so many people took such time and effort on my behalf, I have to say it was the best birthday experience of my life. Thanks to so many people, most importantly Wendy, I had a fantastic time with my best friends and my family. I will remember the night's moments forever and will always be grateful to each and every person who was there to share the night with me.

You might wonder why I am posting about the party and my birthday on a blog dedicated to WINE! Well, as many of you can tell, wine is a central component of our lives. Wine appreciation is a very popular topic within my group of family and friends and wine is usually not far from any organized activity we engage in. In fact, the party was supposed to be for my sister-in-law, Stacey and to hide the party from her, we told her it was going to be a wine tasting party held by another friend.

For the party, Wendy consulted with Kevin Flanagan of Buy-Rite Tinton Falls, our resident wine expert and guru. He suggested some wines which are not among our usual rotation of good QPR wines. However, Kevin's picks were, of course, on the money and the wines that were served were so popular, we have only two of 18 left! Here is the roundup:

2005 El Toqui Chardonnay Riserva, Chile ($12) The Casas del Toqui brand is from the Chacapoal Valley region of Chile, and is produced by the winemaker of Cru Bourgeois from Medoc along with local winemakers and extremely unique terroir at the foot of the Andes Mountains. The house also makes Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah, Carmenere, Merlot, Semillion and some late harvest wines. The Chardonnay is aged in oak barrels and blend tropical fruits with oak flavorings. Not too buttery, more clear and refined flavors come through. A very good white wine.

2004 Bradgate Syrah, So. Africa ($11) The next wine was Bradgate Syrah, a product of the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. I had written of the Bradgate wines in an earlier post from the Winebow Fall Harvest Tasting in NYC as one of the wines produced by Gary and Kathy Jordan of Jardin Cabernet. The Bradgate Syrah was an interesting wine as it had a very muted, nondescript nose. The wine was not a "Aussie, New World" fruit bomb of a Syrah. It was more refined with plum and spice and a lot of wood, almost like kindling-flavor. The wine also had some chocolate, but not deep chocolate flavor....more like a low-calorie chocolate candy. It was a wine that may develop more in the bottle or with more air time.

2004 Pitch Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, WA ($15) The Pitch was the familiar wine in the bunch at Saturday's party, as it has been enjoyed by my friends and I on more than a few occasions. This is the prototypical QPR wine in my opinion. The wine's flavors and well-constructed profiles are more often associated with wines in the $35-$40 price range than in the $15 range that you can buy the Pitch for. Pitch is also a great example that Cabernet Sauvignon can be produced in regions other than Napa and be among the better wines at a gathering. Smooth and vibrant, this wine extracts the finer elements of fruit and tannins and resonates on the palate. A great wine for its price+.

The final wine served was the 2005 3 Trees Pinot Noir, Victoria Australia ($ 14) The three trees on the label of the bottle are the Eucalyptus and Bunya Pine trees (indigenous to Australia) flanking the Oak tree which is the quintessential wine tree. The wine is an intriguing mix of subtle fruits and then strawberries with very little of the "pinot noir" terroir that seems to bray, "BARNYARD" to me when I drink it. I love my wine with a little STANK on reminds me that the wine I am drinking is a product of farming and the land. However, some Cali Pinots are too overcome with terrior and sour cherries that they turn me off. This wine was a very nice, subtle wine with a nose of violets and spiderwebs (my brother, Eric called it ATTIC", which I love as a descriptive word for wine!) Upon tasting, the 3 Trees elevated itself as a great wine to take your time with....the glass lasted much longer than some of my more treasured Cabernets usually do. I liked this wine on my limited engagement with it and look forward to more time with it again in the future.

I want to again say how amazing it was to be feted by my closest friends who mean more to me than they could ever know and I loved all of the gifts and will be reviewing them one at a time here on Oenophobia. Thanks & Happy Holiday to all of you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thanksgiving is Right Around The Bend.....

Thanksgiving Wines

Recently, I received an unsolicited email from Natalie MacLean, who very kindly introduced herself to me with some really good Thanksgiving and Holiday recommendations for wine and food pairings. I contacted her back and thanked her for the recommendations and we have since become email friends! Apparently, Natalie read Oenophobia: A Fear of Wine when internet surfing and liked what she saw enough to reach out with some information that might just help all of our holidays along......

Quick background on Natalie MacLean: Natalie is an accredited sommelier, a wine writer and judge and she is the author of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey From Grape to Glass. This book is a chronicle of three years of intensive travel throughout the world with wine as the main focus. It makes for a good read, and an even better Holiday Gift. You can buy the book on her website: which is also a great resource for all things wine.
On to the recommendations............

So you're at your In-Laws house, and the game is getting boring and how many Black Friday sale circulars can you flip through??? Its time for WINE. Who cares that its only 1pm and dinner is not for a few hours!? It's time to crack open that first bottle to get you in the mood for the rest of your day. What do you start with and why?

I like to begin the drinking with something that can stand on its own two feet without complementary food. A big wine that has structure, chewy tannins and lots of round fruit components. Not too heavy on the alcohol, but something that you can work with for a few hours to get yourself into Turkey Time. My pick: 2004 Beckmen Vinyards Purisima Mountain Syrah from Santa Ynez in the Central Coast of California. 93 Pts. Robert Parker. $39 US at Wine Library and other local wine shops. The alcohol is a little high at 14.8%, but the fruit is amazinly integrated with the tannins and the alcohol to the point that you forget about the heat when appreciating the flavor. Take your time enjoying this big, bold, flavorful wine.

Now on to the Dinner Table.......

I'm going to use Natalie MacLean's email to me as a guide here, and will provide some personal commentary along the way. She DID win several James Beard Awards for Wine and Food Writing, so who am I to try to one-up her????

Five Quick Tips for Picking the Ultimate Thanksgiving

Wine Author/Sommelier Natalie MacLean suggests gobbling good wines at

New York (October 24, 2007) - "No other holiday celebrates the gift of wine like Thanksgiving," says Natalie MacLean, author of the bestselling book Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass. "Wine is a taste of the harvest along with all the delicious dishes on the table. But actually choosing a bottle can feel like a thankless task, especially with so many flavors to match." Relax. Have a drink. And try some of Natalie's suggestions for great wines to pair with Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings.

In Red, White and Drunk All Over, which has just been published in paperback, Natalie discusses wine and food pairing for Thanksgiving dinner. A new chapter in the book also addresses the five toughest matches for wine: vegetables, spicy dishes, chocolate, cheese, and fast food.

Natalie's free online matching tool at complements her in-depth discussion in the book by allowing you to click on "turkey holiday dinner" to find wines that accompany all kinds of dishes, from roast turkey to turducken, from creamed corn to pecan pie.

Natalie also offers five quick tips for choosing a terrific Thanksgiving wine:

1. Start with bubbly. Sparkling wine is a great aperitif to sip while you wait for the turkey to finish cooking. It adds a celebratory note to the meal and goes well with starters like soup and salad.

2. Consider the turkey. Unlike most poultry and game birds, turkey meat is very dry in texture. So you need a mouth-watering wine to complement it. Good options are crisp whites like riesling and pinot grigio. And yes you can drink red wine with white meat: pinot noir, beaujolais and zinfandel all have juicy, berry-ripe flavors that go well with turkey.

3. Look beyond the bird. The range of side dishes means that you don't have to match your wine just to the turkey. Since Thanksgiving dinner is often a banquet-style meal, with everyone choosing the trimmings, why not do the same with your wines? Offer both red and white, and possibly more than one depending on the size of your group.

4. Complement or contrast. A big, buttery chardonnay from California or Chile can complement the roasted, smoky flavors of squash, chestnuts and pecan stuffing. But if you'd rather have a contrast to the richness of cream sauces and dressings, try a crisp New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

5. End on a sweet note. If anyone still has room left when it's time for pumpkin or pecan pie, offer a late harvest wine or icewine. If you're a chocolate fan, try serving a liqueur with complementary flavors such as raspberry or blackcurrant.

Natalie MacLean has won four James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award; and she was named the World's Best Drink Writer at the World Food Media Awards. Rex Pickett, author of Sideways, says that Natalie "writes about wine with a sensuous obsession" and is "often laugh-out-loud funny." Eric Asimov of The New York Times notes, "Ms. MacLean is the disarming Everywoman . she loves wine, loves drinking . a winning formula." The Financial Times observes: "Natalie MacLean is a new force in the wine writing world-a feisty North American answer to Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson."

So there you have my new friend, Natalie MacLean's recommendations for how to pick your Thanksgiving wine. Thanks to Natalie, for helping to make Oenophobia: A Fear Of Wine a little less irreverent and a little more relevant.

My picks for Thanksgiving dinner: 2005 Titus Zinfandel ($22), Napa Valley Estate Grown to go with the bird. Lots of jammy fruit and oak spice with chocolate on the finish. Not at all what you'd expect when drinking.

Also, I recommend a white wine to finish dinner. After all of that heavy food, a Sauvignon Blanc with minerality and crispness is a nice alternative to a heavier wine. 2005 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($12 US) I chose this wine for its diverse fruit flavors, more tropical, less grapefruit and grass. The crispness comes from the minerality and lime, balanced against the acidity on the finish.

Here's hoping you all have a happy, safe and healthy Thanksgiving. I know I have a lot to be thankful for and I'm sure going to let all of the people who I love and care for know how much I appreciate them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Primus Tasting Notes

Sorry for the delay in the tasting notes, but I wanted to get the previous Reader Request Tasting done first.

Last Sunday we drank a wine we had never had before, based on my challenge to you, eager readers and future Oenophiles, to drink something you have never had before and forward us your results and comments. I'm still waiting!

Here's our notes and info on a very interesting wine, Veramonte Primus. The wine is a blend of 36% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Carmenere produced in the Casablanca Valley appellation in Chile. The wine boasts 14.5% alcohol and 16,500 cases were produced.

There has been much discussed about the wines from Chile, South America. The wines are big and bold and many varietals from Bordeaux are presently being grown in the Casablanca Valley as well as other regions such as Maipo Valley, Colchagua and Cachapol Valley among more than 8 other diverse appellation districts. Red wine is king (76% 0f planted hectacres) in Chile, and Cabernet is king of the reds there. However, there is a significant percentage of Carmenere grape planted in Chile. Carmenere is sometimes called the "Lost Bordeaux" grape because it is rarely found in France's Bordeaux region, even though it is one of the six noble grape varietals that make up the Bordeaux family of grapes. Carmenere is also found in Italy in the eastern provinces and has a distinctly different taste than the Chilean version. The grape's juice is used as a blending grape, similar to how Petit Verdot is used in many bordeaux blend wines throughout the US and France.

The wine is a very deep dark color of reddish black that fills the glass with splashes of dark brooding. The wine was also extremely aromatic, with a distinct earthy nose, smelling of forest floor and peat. The nose also exhibited some menthol and spices and was extremely enticing even before the first sip. On the front palate, the dirt and spice were prevelent, leading to a plummy jam flavor with pine accents in the mid and rear palate. The finish was bold and bright, with more fruit than spice but a lingering of the terrior that was so forward when tasting the wine. We loved its complexity and the different flavors that the three varietals in similar ration brought to the wine. Definately not for every drinker, especially a new wine lover who might not know to wait for the development of the flavors. We look forward to introducing this wine to some adventurous drinkers to see if they see the varied and interesting layers in this wine.

Veramonte Primus, Product of Chile: $16 retail

Friday, November 2, 2007

Reader Request Tasting: The Show Cabernet Sauvignon

A Recent Request Tasting is when one of my readers or friends asks me if I have ever had a wine, that they had and loved, before. When I hear the request, it reminds me of the reasons I love wine and the whole wine world for various reasons. First, there are just so many wines out there to try and although I am more red-centric, there are some amazing whites as well. I just seem to gravitate to the larger flavored Reds. Gosh, as an avowed Capitalist in my earlier years, it seems difficult to align myself with the Red crowd! The second reason I love to hear about wines is that it reminds me NOT to be a snob about wine, that I should listen to the proletariat (damn, there I go again!) and hear what other people like to drink. I always ask what they like about a certain wine, and they usually just say that they love the flavor. So to become more in tune to various people's flavor preferences, I want to try the wines that they like. Third, when I hear that someone LOVES a certain wine, I like to be able to expand their experience with wine by introducing them to similarly priced wines of the same varietal or region of production and have them compare. Some of my favorite wine memories relate around going to dinner with friends and bringing wines for them to experience an enjoy. Wine tasting can be such a communal experience, where you share your insights of your five senses being triggered by a small glass of opaque fluid. It is truly an experience best shared with others, even though I have been guilty of flying solo from time to time.

So Friends, click on the GUEST BOOK at the bottom of the page, introduce yourself and tell me about a wine you love and want to have us taste and share. Last week I challenged you to go outside the box and pick a wine you did not have before, and one you normally wouldn't buy. I got two responses: Don G. of St. Simons Island, Ga. wrote: "You put down the gauntlet, and here is my response to your challenge: I opened a bottle of "The Novelist", a Meritage of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion. A refreshing wine with fruity nose and smooth finish. A good buy for about $20" and Rita A. of St. Simons Island, Ga.(do these people know each other?!?!?) wrote: "Last night after dinner at Bennie's Red Barn, our favorite local steakhouse on St. Simons Island, we cracked a bottle of 2005 Estate Bottled Brucatao Zinfandel Port. Black Cherry,currant, chocolate and spice make this a fantastic dessert wine. Try it!"

Before I get to my review of The Show Cabernet, please remember to forward this blog to all of your friends and family who love wine or just want to know more about wine. The more people who read this blog and send in suggestions, the more wine I wait, I mean the more knowledge and information YOU receive. Thanks!

REVIEW TIME..........

So I'm at this party the other night, and my friend's dad Steve and I are having an animated chat about the world and all of our places within it. We finally stopped talking nonsense and started talking WINE. Steve is the Yellowtail drinker from my last post. He told me he went to a friend's house and had a glass of an amazing wine called The Show. He said its a California Cabernet Sauvignon and he went right out to buy a few bottles of it to have for himself, because he was told it was priced around $13 and it was immensely better than the $8 Yellow appendage that he was accustomed to buying. He bought the last three bottles in the store and there hasn't been any more there since. My first reaction is that the store owner is doing a poor job of inventory control, and the second was: Let's go taste that wine!

So Wendy and I are at dinner the other night, and see The Show behind the bar as the "wine by the glass" wine. Not bad wine by the glass, but then again, this was a classy place! I asked the bartender to bring me the bottle so I can read about the wine before I drink it. He hands it over and right away I notice that the bottle has names above the title of the wine, and one of them is GOTT.

Instinctively, I think of Joel Gott who is a Jack-Of-All-Trades, Master-Of-All-Trades in the Napa area. Joel has a few labels of wine that he produces. He also is the owner-chef of Taylors Automatic Refresher restaurant in Napa on Hwy. 29 in St. Helena and San Fransisco. Taylors Refresher is a legendary landmark and has received the 2006 James Beard Award in the America's Classics Restaurant category. Additionally, the restaurant has received tons of publicity including a spot on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives program on The Food Network. When visiting Napa, don't miss the place, they specialize in Burgers and Shakes, but this ain't your backyard bbq grill burger. Check the menu section on their website above and be amazed at the artistry one can concoct between two pieces of bread!

Back to the SHOW: The Show 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon is crafted by three winemakers who don't take themselves too seriously, which is a benefit to most average wine drinkers. Their wine company is Rebel Wine Co., which is a 50/50 partnership with Trinchero Family Winery. The goal of Rebel Wine is to peel back the notion that all good wine is expensive, and that wine for the masses can be flavorful, complex and be crafted to appeal to drinkers of all budgets. They call themselves The Three Thieves, and have an interesting little website: Three Thieves is also a label of wine that they produce that is bringing JUG WINE back....hey, if Justin is bringin' Sexy back, then these guys are entitled to whatever they want to do....just don't produce wine that comes in its own burlap sack....that's hopefully died and gone to heaven.

The Three Thieves have produced some other wines individually, and you can check them out on your own. Here's the product details on The Show:

The Show 2005 Cab is 80% Cabernet from Monterrey, Paso Robles and Napa, plus 8% Merlot from Monterrey, 6% Cab Franc from Napa, 3% Petite Sirah from Dry Creek and 3% Petite Verdot from Napa. The 10,000 cases produced saw French and American oak prior to bottling.
Alcohol content: 13.9%.

Here's my impression: In the glass, the wine is deep garnet coloring, almost blackish, but not quite that dark. It had a really interesting nose. I sat there sniffing it for about 5 minutes trying to wrap my nose around the interesting smells that were coming from the wine. There was terrior which I love on the nose of a wine, plus some black cherry and plum and some menthol. It was intoxicating. Then, came disappointment. That nose set me up for a big flavorful wine with layers and layers of fruit which never came. I found the wine to be little fake in the flavor, almost more like a candy than a beverage. And then I got OAKED. Smacked in the head with a big oaky mouth after swallowing the wine. I tried it a few more times, with more swirling and sniffing and still the same let down. I think if I didn't spend so much time smelling the nose of the wine, I might have liked it a bit better, but the wine did not live up to its SEXY nose. Sadly, I finished the glass and asked for a glass of 2004 Napa Cellars Cabernet which I have had and LOVED. This is a $19 bottle of wine which is significantly better than The Show, but only a few dollars more. Wendy LOVED The Show Cabernet when we were tasting it, and was calling me a wine-snob (is there actually a worse insult!?!?) until she tasted the Napa Cellars and went, "WOW, that is really excellent!"

So for me, The Show wasn't "lights out." It didn't live up to the expectations. I want you to know that I think this wine was good, and on the 100-point scale, I'd give it an 88. I think maybe more time in the bottle will settle the oak down and let the fruit develop and improve. I don't think this wine is a long-term cellar project. Just a year or more might help it. One thing's for sure...... It is A LONG WAY BETTER than Yellow Tail, and Steve: Thanks for the Suggestion!