February 27, 2006

Some Cool Red Picks

Next up on the first Wine Tour of 2006 is Amphora Winery at 4791 Dry Creek Road. Amphora, like the other three wineries that share a block of nondescript buildings within the Family Vineyards compound, is nothing to look at from the outside. There's also nothing under $20 among their current batch of wine, so for our purposes, I won't cover any of them here. Their wines run between $24 for a 2004 Zin to $45 for a 2003 bottle of Jacob's Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, which won an SF Chronicle gold medal award. I did luck out though and get a few recommendations from Brigette, who poured during our tasting, for a few bottles that ARE under $20. I am starting to believe that anyone you ask up here has a few affordable favorites to share. Here they are and I hope to try and review them soon:
1) Noceto Sangiovese. I love Sangiovese, so this is definitely on the shopping list.
Here's something from the website about this wine.
2003 Noceto Sangiovese Shenandoah Valley, CA ($9 to $14)
The twelfth vintage, this is a fruit-packed, pleasant, easy-drinking Sangiovese. As usual, it’s 100% Sangiovese, with medium body, cherry-red color, and dark cherry flavors throughout, accented by subtle oak and a dash of peppery spice. Drink now to several years.

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February 17, 2006

Time to Get A Wine Wheel

I think it's finally time for me to invest in a few wine aroma wheels. It can be particularly difficult to nail down what I am tasting in a glass of wine aside from the obvious stuff (oak, butter, cherry, berry, poop, and yes, alcohol!). Was that cat pee or a Salem light? HMMMMM. Time to get a wine wheel, I think, the equivalent of the wine world's Cliff Notes. The wine aroma wheel was developed during the mid-1980s by Ann C. Noble, a professor at UC Davis, Emerita. Noble is a Sensory Scientist/Flavor Chemist who today travels around the world as a wine judge, attending meetings about sensometrics, wine, sensory science and such. In 1997, Jane Robichaud, director of sensory research at Napa Valley's Beringer Vineyards, updated the wheel. Here's another site that offers a sensory user's manual.
You can buy a wine wheel on Noble's site for $6 (.75 shipping) Here's a food and wine wheel that promises to link a wine with any food "from Chinese to chocolate." It costs $4.99. Maybe I'll order one of those, too.

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February 14, 2006

For Wine Bargain Hunters

So we're all looking for a bargain, particularly if we find a bottle of wine we really like and want to get it by the case. And don't you hate it when you buy a bottle for $20 and turn around and see it somewhere else for $14.99?
Here's a website that tracks the prices of different wines from places around the web. Forbes picked this site for its Best of the Web feature.

Here's some info from the website.

The largest and most up-to-date resource for wine availability and pricing.
An impartial medium independent of any retailer, wholesaler, or distributor.

The site answers questions like:
Where can I buy 1990 Cheval Blanc, and at what price?
What DRC vintages are available in; Europe, USA, or anywhere.
Which wines from 1956 are selling now?

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For all you Wine Tasting Novices (Like Me!!)

Here's an interesting article about tasting for beginners from the Houston Chronicle. It's a bit dated (from 1998, eek! Holy Clinton Administration) but has some interesting tips on wine basics and tasting. As an aside, I bought a few Chardonnays that I will be reviewing over the next few days while my mom visits. (I'll let her chime in, too) My mom, like many moms, is a big Chardonnay fan and has become a bit of a Chardonnay snob, though she will not admit it. She won't drink red, so I need to stock up on the whites before her visit. Her favorite is Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay, which I couldn't find at the Whole Foods. (A bottle of 2003 Chalk Hill costs $16.99 at, not on the cheaper side of the wine scale, but hey, mom likes it.)
Instead, I bought a 2003 Calina Reserva from Chile ($10) and a 2004 Yelcho Chard,($6.99) also from Chile. So we will try the Chilean chards and pass on the results.

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February 9, 2006

More Affordable Wine Recommendations

Here's a list of some cool affordable wines from the SF Chronicle (from freelancer and wine writer Leslie Sbrocco, the author of "Wine for Women: A Guide to Buying, Pairing and Sharing Wine" Here's her recommendations, some whites and some reds, for under $20. Other than the Barefoot Cellars, I've not tried any of these (Barefoot Cellars is a Trader Joe's staple) but will try to hunt down a few for a future review.

NV Korbel California Brut Rosé ($11)

NV Lorikeet South Eastern Australia Sparkling Shiraz ($10)

2004 Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d'Asti ($9 for 375 ml)

NV Pommery Pink POP Champagne Rosé ($12 for 187 ml)

NV Segura Viudas Aria Pinot Noir Cava Brut ($12)


2004 Oroya Tierra de Castilla ($8)

2005 Yelcho Reserva Casablanca Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($9)


NV Barefoot Cellars California Cabernet Sauvignon ($6)

2004 Five Rivers Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir ($12)

2003 Vina Chocalan Maipo Valley Carmenere ($12)

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February 8, 2006

Sipping Wine with your Valentine...

My local wineshop, Plumpjack, which is co-owned by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, (he of the shellac-headed cuteness) puts out a newsletter that I've just started getting. The recent issue had a list of some juicy romantic wines for Valentines Day. I figured it might be well worth trying some if they weren't so darn expensive. Just two were under $20, recommended by Plumpjack wine expert Debbie Brown. The 2003 Fresh Oyster Sauvignon Blanc ($12.99) and the 2004 Miner Rosato ($14.99). But since it's a special day and you might want to splurge on a more expensive bottle here are a few others on the list - 2004 Foxen Chardonnay, Tinaquaic Vineyard ($25.99 )and the 2003 Cascina Val de Prete, Barbera d'Alba "Carolina." ($29.99)

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