Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Candoni Chianti DOCG 2007

About two years ago I found a special deal on a gift pack of two wines from Candoni Wines. The gift pack wasn't what sold Shirley and I on the purchase, it was the label.
The gift pack included a bottle of Merlot and a bottle of Pinot Grigio, of which we opened at a dinner dance held during my annual military reunion. Both wines were well liked by all of us at our table. Since then I have found the wines sold separately at various wine shops and recently, we found their Chianti.
First, the label. Each Candoni bottle is rendered a unique piece of art by a serigraph reproduction of an Etruscan fresco painting. Serigraphy is the technique of permanently applying color through the use of screens of woven silk. Ceramic colors are applied to the surface of the glass, which is subsequently subjected to heat treatments that render the color indelible. I hope some of you understand this, I don't, but the labels are surreal.
Secondly, the wine; Candoni Chianti DOCG 2007. A blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot.
Nice Ruby red color with with lots of blackberry and almond aromas and a nice long finish.
This is truly a very good Chianti. I've been enjoying this with a plateful of Chedder and Fontina cheeses. This wine will also do very well with a thick juicy T-bone or a meaty beef stew.
Even better, I found this wine on-line for under $9. I bought it at a Harris Teeter grocery store in Virgina Beach, Va. for $11. At that price....

Take it from an amateur wine lover.....Great Buy!!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Row House Cellars White Table Wine NV

Alright, here's my dilemma or at least one of them. Tonight Shirley and daughter Pam are making 'halupkies' for dinner. Halupkies are also known as stuffed cabbage or as we called them in our house as kids growing up in the Pennsylvania coal region, 'blind pigeons.' Typically made with ground beef or pork or both, rice and a bunch of herbs and spices or whatever (I'm not much in the kitchen), rolled in boiled cabbage leaves and baked with a tomato sauce on top (usually tomato soup). The dilemma, I have no clue as to what wine to open. I checked with Nat Decants and a few other pairing sites and found nothing until I came across allrecipes.com. That only added to the dilemma. You see, all the stuffed cabbage recipes call for beef or pork and Shirley only uses ground turkey. From All Recipes; Syrah, Zin or Riesling were suggested with the different submitted recipes.
I decided on a white wine and whatever I pulled out of the wine fridge, without looking, would be opened for dinner. The winner was; Row House Cellars White Table Wine NV, brought home from a recent visit to the White Springs Winery in Geneva NY.
Specially selected lots of four white varieties are chosen to produce a wine with fruity aromas of stone fruits and citrus. The grapes used in the blend are Riesling, Cayuga White, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Grigio. Color was a nice light greenish gold. Aromas of green apple, peach and grapefruit and a mouthful of peach and citrus with a nice smooth dry finish made this an excellent choice for the "turkey" halupkies. The wine is about as sweet as I would want in any wine (1.5% RS), but still finished dry and long.
Dessert was a different story. Black Cherry Swirl ice cream does not do well with any wine, including late harvest dessert wines. A nice brandy snifter of Gran Marnier would have done much better or a dark chocolate lava cake with the wine.
A good friend of mine is very much in love with White Springs white wines and with good reason. They are among the best in the Finger Lakes. I picked some up at the July Wine Fest and more on the recent visit. My first taste of Gewurztraminer was from White Springs and I'm sure of picking up more whites at the December "Deck the Halls" weekend.
I believe this is the first year of Row House Cellars. They are a tribute to the distinctive architectural styles of the Row Houses of Geneva, NY. They are also very inexpensive...at only $12

Take it from an amateur wine lover.....Great Buy!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Ravines Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc 2007

There comes a time when you believe that a certain wine just can't get any better. I hope I never get to that point in my lifetime. I don't hide the fact that in the past two years I have fallen in love with wines from the Finger Lakes region of New York. I have my favorite Finger Lakes wineries and my favorite Finger Lakes wines. It seems that many times I taste a new wine and just have to add it to a long growing list of favorites. Such is the case today!
When first tasting this wine, it was, in today's vernacular, 'OMG.' Cabernet Franc is not supposed to be this good. I have been tasting more Cab/Franc this past year than any other red and although I had some that were very good, I would not have ever thought it can get much better.
It has!
Tonight I dug into my modest wine vault and found a Ravines Wine Cellars, Cabernet Franc 2007.
Cab Francs are not one of my favorite reds, but I find them very nice to sip on while fooling around on the net. The Ravines Cab Franc has made a huge jump in my list of best reds.
I get a lot of pomegranate with some cherry and a little spice or pepper on the nose with a little soil, which makes the aroma a bit suspect. Thought maybe, just another Cab/Franc.
In the mouth though, this wine turned to sure delight. It exploded with a fruit forward cherry, pomegranate, currant and a hint of pepper and finished long and silky smooth.
I can picture this with just about any food, from pizza to pheasant under glass. A little mild sausage on a pizza would be were I'd want it or with a well baked three meat Lasagna.
Found at only $16, so...
Take it from an amateur wine love...Great Buy!



Saturday, September 19, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Michael Shaps Viognier 2006

While in Virginia on vacation, I picked up four bottles of Virginia wines, figuring I would try all four and choose one to review. Tonight I opened up the second bottle and had maybe the best white wine find of this summer, a 2006 Michael Shaps Viognier from the King Family Vineyards.

*Michael Shaps has established a reputation for high quality that ranks on an international scale with some of the best wines in the world. For the past eight vintages Michael has created these wines with careful attention to the details of fine wine production. The wines are produced with a traditional old-world style. The whites focus on varietal intensity and the retention of natural acidity. *Virginia Wineworks

The color was very white and clear, almost like water with a little golden hue. The aroma was light with apricot, peach and honeysuckle. This was more light bodied than other Viogniers I had. The fruit flavors with some citrus, like a clementine, filled the mouth and the finish was long and smooth. A lot like between a Sauvignon Blanc and a Gewurztraminer.

This Viognier went OK with a meal of pork hot dogs(a little spicey), fresh corn on the cob and turnip greens(not my choice). I would have rather had pork chops or a pork loin. The price was also a little higher than I like to pay for a Viognier, but this is the best I have had and maybe the best white wine of the summer. I found the wine at Total Wine & More in Virginia Beach for $23, so I can't call it a great buy, but it is definitely a good buy and will look for more Michael Shaps wine on my next trip to Virginia.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d' Abruzzo 2005 Riserva

I'm currently making room in my wine cooler for a recent large quantity buy, so I pulled out a Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005 Riserva for a pizza dinner tonight. I had this wine about four years ago and wasn't fully impressed at that time, but thought I'd give it another chance and the price was right. Turned out to be a good move. Can't really remember why I passed this off as a so-so wine years ago, but now I am finding it very delightful.

Winemaker's notes:
Intense violet robe. Aromas of plums and ripe blackberry. Each sip delivers a mouthful of ripe berries, leather and black pepper with subtle hints of oregano, dried herbs, and a touch of vanilla; all leading to a dry, supple finish.

My Notes:
Nice dark cherry red color. Aroma of leather is dominant with hints of plum and mixed berries.
The mouth fills with the berries and leather with a hint of pepper and a touch of vanilla. Finish was not long, but dry with soft berry like taste.
I'd like to try this with a sausage, pepper and onion pizza or a zesty lasagna. Having it tonight with a cheese pizza sprinkled with a little red pepper and medium hot wings.
Not bad with the pizza and at only...$14

Take it from an amateur wine lover.....Great Buy!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Fox Run Gewurztraminer 2007

One of the problems with bringing home lots of wine from a Finger Lakes wine tour is deciding which ones to try first. Shirley helps make that decision easier by planning some meals ahead of time or by just giving me a warning of what's on the menu for the night. Sometimes though, it can be challenging choosing the right wine for the meal. Tonight for instance she was preparing baked chicken fingers in a spicey honey mustard sauce. Definitely going to be a white wine, but I had at least five to chose from. I don't always make the right choice, but tonight I think I made a perfect choice. Although my first inclination was for any of a fabulous array of Finger Lakes rieslings, I uncorked a Fox Run Vinyards '07 Gewurztraminer. (one of my new favorites)

The Fox Run Vineyards has 55 acres of vineyards producing a remarkable range of fine wines and is situated high on Torrey Ridge over looking one of the deepest parts of Seneca Lake.
Owner Scott Osborn is a strong advocate of the place of wine in a healthy life-style, and he appreciates the health benefits of garlic as well. On a culinary level, as the Fox Run Garlic Festival demonstrates, the pairing of good wine and well-prepared flavorful garlic is nothing short of sublime.

Lots of mango, kiwi, passion fruit and some floral aromas on the nose.
Thickness is a new descriptor I recently learned. I began to understand that descriptor with another Finger Lakes Gewurzt. It's a very nice almost elegant feel in the mouth, like a very light syrup and very velvety.
The finish was dry with a touch of sweetness and, with the honey mustard fingers, just perfect.
The price is in line with most all of the other Gewurztraminer's I found on the Lakes. So at $20...

Take it from an amateur wine lover...Great Buy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Day In The Finger Lakes 2


Can't think of a better way to start a 2 week vacation then to spend it at some fantastic wineries in the Finger Lakes. My wife Shirley and a best family friend Donna set out to taste some great wines, enjoy some great scenery, have a delicious diner and spend a little cash in one of the most beautiful regions of New York. I don't know where to rank the day's events. What was better, the scenery, the food, the wine, the tasting rooms or the company. I have to say it was the folks we met.
The day actually started, after a one hour drive, as we drove into the parking area of Ventosa Vineyards on the east side of Seneca Lake. The newly constructed building of Tuscan design was maybe the highlight of the tour. A large ballroom with beautiful murals, a bistro and a large deck over seeing the vineyards and the lake made this the most gorgeous stop I have ever been to on a wine tour. Our server, Lynn, gave us a short tour of the building before pouring some of my favorite Finger Lakes wines and some new wines I haven't tasted before. I also liked the bistro, and had wished we scheduled Ventosa for later in the day when the hunger pains started rolling in. After leaving Ventosa we headed for the west side of the lake.
Our first stop on the west side was the White Springs Winery. Our friend Donna has raved about the wines here since our trip the the Wine Fest in July. I actually enjoyed my first Gewurztraminer from White Springs. Our server today was Joe and his presentation of the wines was all class. This is another of the new wineries in the region that is producing some of the Finger Lakes best. Donna was right about the whites and I found some terrific reds, including their new Row House label. My faves here were the Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio blend, along with the Rieslings and both the Row House red and white.
Just a short distance away was the Billsboro Winery owned by Vincent and Kim Aliperti since 2007. Vincent is also the head winemaker for the Atwater Estate Vineyards across the lake.
The best whites tasted today were at Billsboro. The Sauvignon Blanc was the best I tasted outside of New Zealand and the dry Riesling was also at or near the top of my list as best ever.
Diane, our server, was friendly and knowledgeable and Kim Aliperti was delightful and enthusiastic about her family winery. She has good reason to be so enthusiastic, they produce very excellent high quality wines.
Still heading south along rte. 14, we came upon our next stop, Fox Run Vinyards, a farmer friendly sustainable winery with aggressive ownership poised to become one of a handful of great producers in the Finger Lakes. We were honored to have owner Scott Osborn pour and impart his knowledge of his winery and wines as we tasted the best red wines of the day. His reserve Riesling and the dry Riesling were also among the best of the whites on this day. Shirley also had a blast in the gift shop. I had given her Carte Blanche for being the designated driver, but the biggest payoff was yet to come. Darn! I mean Damn! I mean O sh*t.
One more stop was scheduled. I just reviewed the 2008 semi-dry Riesling from Anthony Road Wine Company and knew if anywhere near the area I would have to visit. Good move Joe!
This was a treat. Our server was Meagan, polite, courteous, delightful to talk to, young and still learning. Also got to talk with owner Ann Martini and learn a bit about Anthony Road, along with tasting the best overall tastings on today's tour. I was impressed with all the Rieslings and the Martini-Reinhardt Cabernet Franc. The Martini's are blessed to have one of the finest winemakers in the region, Johannes Reinhardt. After all, he did produce the best New York wine for 2009. His semi-sweet Riesling was also fantastic and could have also won that title over his semi-dry.
Before heading to diner, we stopped at the Shaw Vineyard. Their tasting room opened in 2007.
Another of the many new wineries that has created a line of quality hand crafted vinifera wines.
Especially noted were the 2003 Pinot Noir reserve, the 2005 Cabernet Franc reserve and the 2005 Merlot reserve. Shaw still needs a more modern tasting room, but I believe that will come in time as the winery grows.
Last on today's itinerary, was Belhurst Castle for diner. This is were I should have put a limit on Shirley's carte blanche spending. We did not taste any wines here, but the gift shop was fabulous. The food at Edgars, the castle restaurant, was pricey, but the service excelled and the meal was delicious. Shirley chose the wine, a fine Brunello de Montalcino from Italy. One of her favorites, so I did not press any issue about where we were and why I would have chosen a local wine. It was a wonderful way to end the day.
Now, an hour drive home and unload a trunk full of wine. Later, I must chose which one's to review. That will be tough but fun.
Among the favorites were:
Ventosa Vineyards: Saggio Series V and VI and NV Vino Rosso
White Springs: Row House Red and White, '07 Riesling
Billsboro: '08 dry Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, '07 dry Riesling, '07 Cab/Sauv
Fox Run: '08 dry Riesling, '06 reserve Chardonnay, '07 Merlot, '08 reserve Riesling, '07 reserve Pinot Noir
Anthony Road: '08 semi-sweet Riesling, Tierce, '08 Gewurztraminer, '07 Martini-Reinhardt Cab/Franc
Shaw: '03 Pinot Noir reserve, '05 Merlot reserve

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Anthony Road Semi-dry Riesling 2008

OK, today I sinned again, at least according to some. I took my list of New York medal winners to another local wine shop. Unfortunately, I found only one, besides another Anthony Road Vinyards 2008 semi-dry Riesling which I already have in the cooler.
Oh yeah, for those who don't know, that wine was judged the most outstanding New York wine for 2009. Winner of the New York Wine and Food Classics's 'Governor's Cup.'

Now, let me say something about my taste buds. "I Don't Like Sugar." I Don't put sugar in my coffee, tea or on my cereal. I even like lemonade that makes me pucker. So, when I buy wine the word 'dry' is most important. Late harvest or Ice wines are strictly taboo. I also have a difficult time with labels that have the word 'semi' on them. So, purchasing two bottles of a semi-dry wine is a giant step in my quest to learn, understand and appreciate this beautiful beverage made from the 'fruit of the gods.' Tonight, I took that step. Although my hands started to shake a bit at opening a bottle of semi-dry wine, I uncorked the Anthony Road Riesling.

Aroma's of melon right of the bat. Like a juicy Honeydew melon with a little lime and a light floral scent of honeysuckle. When aromas are this nice, I just love to keep sniffing. Though, not as much as drinking. The wine was silky smooth in the mouth and when I swallowed my sip....Well, what can I say..."sugar" Just a tad and surprisingly very nice.
A glass before dinner, one with a zesty BBQ chicken and potato salad and finished the night just sipping while surfing the net. I really enjoyed this wine.

Would I have judged this wine so highly? Probably not, it's not red and it's not dry. That's one reason nobody will ever be calling for me to judge.
Would I buy this wine again? Oh most definitely!..and often.
Will I still tremble when I see the word 'semi' on a label? I think so, but if I see that it is a medal winner, I'll now try it and hope it turns out as well as tonight.

What is really neat. This wine was judged the best by a panel of judges, not one individual. I also did not have to mortgage my home or sell my first born to afford a bottle because of it's award.
This wine is sold locally for under $15. So,

Take it from an amateur wine lover.....Great Buy!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wine Competitions: Are They Utilized


I read two very interesting articles yesterday about Wine Competitions and the awarding of Gold Medals. I mention this because a few hours prior to reading them, I took my list of winners from the New York Wine and Food Classic and went shopping for wines on that list.
Both articles were a little harsh on the competitions and the awarding of medals, for a similar reason, An Analysis of the Concordance Among 13 U.S. Wine Competitions, published by American Association of Wine Economists.

I am not a connoisseur, a sommellier, a wine expert or a journalist. I am just an average Joe wine consumer who happens to buy some wines because of press releases and store tags or medal displays at the wineries. Although some, or even many, journalist in the industry may not agree with the competitions or their value to the winery, I believe they can be a great asset.
The problem is in the marketing of their winners.

I shop at at about 12 different stores for wine. I see in every store, by many of the price tags, wine ratings from the Spectator, Enthusiast, Advocate and other pubs, but never see any mention of how any wine did in competitions. The general public is not aware of any of this.
There may be a mention in one of the 4 page weekly papers, distributed in and around a local winery. After all, most wineries are near small villages in rural areas and local papers are hungry for anything local to print.
I read nothing of the New York Wine and Food Classic in the Syracuse papers and I see nothing about a great bottle of Riesling from Anthony Road Vineyards being named the outstanding New York wine for 2009 in any local paper outside the Geneva-Rochester area which is not far from that winery. I only know this because I blog, I read wine blogs and have a fondness for Finger Lakes wines.

If it is shown in a report that medal winners do not improve sales or does not make for a good wine, shouldn't the consumer, most of whom do not give a rats ass about ratings, make that decision. When a consumer walks into a local shop and sees two aisles of New York Wines, don't you for a moment think that displaying competition results won't improve sales of that wine.


Among the other titles I am not qualified for is Marketing Expert, but I don't see any effort by wineries to advertise through their distributors the results of competitions. This should also be on the agenda of the many associations that promote their region or their State's wines. I would love to walk down that aisle of New York wines and see some kind of tag under the display that indicates a gold or double gold winner and what event it was awarded at.

Another effort should be made to help advise the local shops about the competitions and awards.
In my case, I had a complete list of winners for the the New York Wine and Food Classic. I showed it to the owner of one of the larger shops in this area. Actually they have three large stores. He had no idea what I gave him. I would love to walk into a wine shop, ask about New York wines and have a salesperson say something like; "Here is a nice bottle of Thirsty Owl 2008 dry Riesling which just recently was named the best dry Riesling in NY by so and so" instead of "dry Riesling? Yeah I think there's some over there."

Enough with the rant! It was not my intent to do this on this blog, but it did somehow come out.

To read more about this and to understand a bit more, please read Amy Corron Power's blog AnotherWineBlog.com and Alder Yarrow's blog Vinography.Com. These are two of the best wine blog writers you'll find on the net. I just don't agree totally on this issue.

To read an opposing view of the above two blogs, check out Joe Roberts blog 1WineDude.com.

Read the articles and let me know your thoughts.