Monday, September 27, 2010

Bodegas Osborne Seven, Red Wine of Spain NV 3L Box

Tonight I am finishing up my latest 3L box wine from the Octavin Home Wine Bar, Artisan Wines.  It's been 12 days since my first pour and the wine is still as fresh and tasty as the first day.  Never thought I'd say this, but, for inexpensive everyday wine the box should be given a more serious look by producers world wide.
This time it is the Spanish Seven from Bodegas Osborne using a blend of seven different grapes.

Osborne is one of Spain's most distinguished wine and Sherry producers. They are family owned and operated and place an extremely high value on quality and consistency to offer consumers exceptional wines with equally attractive pricing.
Their vast company portfolio encompasses the well reputed Bodegas Montecillo wines from Rioja, Solaz wines from Tierra de Castilla and Dominio de Malpica wines also from Tierra de Castilla, Osborne Sherry, Brandy, Port and other distinguished spirits.

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks representing the brand.

Winemaker Notes:   
"The grapes are picked at the coolest part of the day just before dawn, and then harvested and fermented separately to allow each variety's individual character to develop.  We chose to minimize oak treatments to maximize fruit flavors, using micro-oxygenation instead to soften tannins.  We focused our efforts on finding just the right blend of varieties until we came across the perfect mix of berry fruit flavors, soft tannins and nice acidity to make an energetic, approachable and distinctively Spanish wine."

My Notes:
This is another really nice affordable wine from Octavin.  ($20)
The wine is light garnet red with aromas of cherry, raspberry and some leather, earth and light hints of oak.
Not heavy on tannins or acidity giving it a smooth mouth feel with fruity flavors, some chocolate and a touch of sweetness.
The Seven finished smooth with some spice, but very short.
Like all the other wines in this series, Osborne Seven is meant to be an everyday table wine, great for parties, grilled burgers, pizza and weekend get togethers or tailgating at the games. And at an average cost of $5 a bottle, you can invite the in-laws.  Well, that may be going too far, but a 3 liter box is enough to share.
For the everyday wine drinker looking for cheap but good, this is a fantastic deal not to pass up.

Appellation:  Spain
Inaugural Release: 10,500 cases
Blend:  25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 18% Syrah, 8% Petit Verdot, 8% Tempranillo, 8% Grenache and 8% Graciano
Alcohol:  13.6%

Friday, September 24, 2010

Will American Wine Clubs Disappear?

This article was posted on linkedin by Mark Norman.

Mark is the Director of Marketing and Business Development for the Wine Society (a web site devoted to helping buyers and sellers of vintage wines).

The latest version of Bill HR 5034 is causing a real debate. It will give added powers to individual states to outlaw any out of state wine shipment, including from any out of state online retailer.

What no one has mentioned is Wine Clubs. If any other form of direct to consumer (DTC) becomes illegal, then wine clubs will also fall into that category of illegal wine shipments. For the most part, the only choices for wine lovers will be to buy wine from wineries within their own state or the local liquor store. The latest stats that I have seen are that 54% of American wineries use DTC exclusively to get their wine to customers. Only 17% use the traditional 3-tier system to deliver wine to retailers across the country. These would be the very large massed produced wines that generally are not the wines that attract wine lovers.

Do the math!

Another 29% of American wineries use DTC to some extent…and since the value they receive for each sale of wine in the traditional system is approximately 2/3 less, my assumption is that much of the profit they make come from DTC sales. If they lose this sales channel how many will be able to stay in business?

We need both systems. The 17% use only use traditional sales channels are the wineries that mass produce their wines. They could not exist if the traditional sales channel suddenly disappeared. They would not be able to use the DTC sales channel and remain profitable.

Again, do the math.

We may see as many as 70% to 80% of the wineries become so unprofitable to operate that they close their doors…certainly at least 54%! These are small, family run wineries. At a time when unemployment and under-employment is so high do we need to add tens of thousands of more people to the unemployment lines?

Personally, as a wine lover I do not want to see my options for wine so severely curtailed. If you feel the same please use this link to reach your congressional representatives. The process is simple and takes less than 3 minutes to complete.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hayes Ranch "In The Saddle" Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

I don't know about anyone else, but when I am wine shopping, I seem to always avoid buying wines with a ridiculously low price.  I also seem to get caught tasting an inexpensive wine, pleased with what I tasted, buy a bottle, take it home and open to find something just short of crappy grape juice.  But, I keep doing it and keep failing most of the time.
In mid-July I ventured out on my first wine buying shopping spree since my by pass surgery five weeks earlier.  As soon as I stepped into one of my favorite shops I was greeted by an employee behind a table with about 50 cases of an inexpensive Hayes Ranch California Cabernet Sauvignon stacked behind him.  Only $7 and a metal twist off cap for a California Cab.  Exactly what I was looking for.  Right!!!  Like always though I stopped at the table, sniffed, swirled and sipped and, being a nice guy, I bought.  When I got home, I put the Cab in the wine fridge and simply forgot about it, until this week when I was looking for something just to sip on for a few hours after work.  So, I took out the Hayes Ranch 'In The Saddle' 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, got my corkscrew and "oh no it's a twist off." Crap!!!, untwisted and poured.
The aromas were not those of  a $7 Cab/Sauv.  There were red berries, some cherry, a little oak and some vanilla.  A nice balanced mouth full of the berries, cherry and vanilla with just a little spice.  The finish was a little short, but for just sipping while catching up on the e-mails it was great. 
I have had many nice wines under $10, but rarely, if ever, a Cabernet Sauvignon.  There are probably a lot of gems out there and I was probably looking in all the wrong places, but that is one of joys of being a wino, finding nice wines at great prices.
Having pizza and looking for a good cheap wine, I highly recommend the Hayes Ranch "In The Saddle" Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

2010 Harvest Begins in Champagne

The official 2010 Champagne harvest season begins on September 13th. All grapes will be harvested by hand, according to traditional practices, to select the highest quality grapes.  “Due to a frost that we had earlier in 2010, the development of the grapes was slightly delayed this year,” remarked Champagne Bureau Director Sonia Smith. “Harvests are two to four days behind last year, except one village which began on September 10th. Yet the unseasonably warm and sunny weather in July allowed the grapes to mature quickly. All in all, it is looking to be a promising harvest this year, once again creating a marvelous wine that can only be produced in one place – Champagne, France.”

There are many sparkling wines produced around the world, but the Champagne name can only be used on a label if the grapes and the wines produced, under strict controls, in the French region that bears the name Champagne.

The Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) set the harvest limit at 10,500 kilos of grapes per hectare, slightly higher than the 2009 limit of 9,700 kilos per hectare. “Since yields are fixed at 10,500 kilos per hectare, and vines are producing 14,000 kilos on average, we will have scrupulous selections to ensure a high quality vintage,” said Daniel Lorson, spokesman for the CIVC.

The Champagne region has been producing wine since the Roman era, but only in the traditional Champenoise method for three hundred years. In the eighteenth century, Champagne houses began the harvest traditions which live on today. Each year, grape-pickers come to Champagne to pick grapes by hand, as machines are not allowed for harvesting. The Champagne region’s climate, chalky soil, strict regulations and long history of winemaking combine to produce a sparkling wine that can only be produced in one place: Champagne.

As part of its new “Unmask the Truth” advertising campaign, the Champagne Bureau has launched a petition to end mislabeling in the United States. To support Truth-in-Labeling, Visit the page at:
The petition is part of the Joint Declaration to Protect Wine Place Names & Origin, a coalition of 15 wine regions from around the world committed to educating the public about the importance of place names. Champagne is a founding signatory and is joined by seven U.S. regions - Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Paso Robles, Oregon, Walla Walla Valley, Washington and Long Island – and seven other international regions - Porto, Jerez, Chianti Classico, Tokaj, Victoria, Western Australia and Rioja.
This release can be viewed online at:

For more information, please contact Shira Levy at 202-777-3516 or
About the Champagne Bureau
The Champagne Bureau is the official U.S. representative of the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), a trade association which represents the grape growers and houses of Champagne, France. The Bureau works to educate U.S. consumers about the uniqueness of the wines of Champagne and expand their understanding of the need to protect the Champagne name. For more information, visit us online at Follow us on Twitter at ChampagneBureau.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Shiraz, Cal vs. Oz

Tonight I had to choose a wine for some fried Turkey burgers and an Arugula salad.  I am not fond of Arugula, so I wanted something full bodied and found two Shiraz in the wine fridge.  One a Piping Shrike Shiraz 2006 from Australia and a Concannon Shiraz 2007 from California.  I decided to open up both and have my own little battle of the Shiraz.
My first pour was the Concannon and right off the bat I had the feeling that Australia was going to win. Color was dark garnet and bright.  Aromas of leather and leather and leather and not much else filled the glass.  In the mouth, some dark cherry and a little vanilla led to a long peppery finish.  The turkey was not a very good pairing, but this wine may do well with a hearty beef stew or maybe a pork roast.  You can probably find under $10 and that is a good value for Concannon Shiraz.
Loved the very dark purple color, for what that matters, on the Piping Shrike Shiraz.  The aromas were even better.  Lots of blackberry, blueberry and little pine tree or more like yews greeted the nose.  In the mouth there was some dark cherry with some spice and pepper on the sides.  The finish was smooth and long.  I enjoyed this much more with the turkey burgers, but still not a good choice for dinner.  Would have liked a lot more with a Black Angus beef burger.  Price was a little higher at $14, but still a much better value.
I'd like to root for the USA, but in this battle, a hands down win for the Aussies.
I'd like to do this again, but need your suggestions.  Got two wines you think should meet on the battlefield, let me know and I'll be glad to wage the fight.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Renzo Masi Chianti Riserva 2007 and Recipe From Shirley

I've been getting a few comments on the blog and from friends at work about Shirley's recipes, so when I can I will add the recipe to the blog post along with a review of the wine used in the recipe.  Also planning to add a recipe page and post recipes from my readers. Only rule will be that the recipe be original and it must use wine. (no cooking wine)
One of the things Shirley is good at is using leftovers and anything she finds in the fridge or pantry to put together a fantastic meal.  Well, most times anyway.  There are failures, but you won't see them here.
This one was done in 30 min. on Saturday morning because I was mandatoried to work and had nothing ready to take for my 7 p.m. lunch.  The wine used was a Renzo Masi Chianti Riserva 2007. ($14)
I just recently purchased this Chianti, because I have had it before and knew it was a great value at the $14 price.  For the recipe it was terrific, but I did find it a little light on aromas and on the palate.  Not what I remembered from the 2004 I tasted.  Not that it was that bad, it was just disappointing.  There were aromas of blackberry and some dark cherry with a little toasted oak and smoke.  It was more dark cherry and tobacco in the mouth and the finish was very dry and lingering. It did pair fairly well with the sauce, but I kept thinking how well a nice Chardonnay would be and how the flavor of the sauce might be if Chardonnay was used.  But that is Shirley's realm and I try not to interfere, but the suggestion was made and she may try the Chard next time.  Then again, why mess too much with something that comes out this good.  Now for Shirley's first posted recipe, but first her cooking rules.

Shirley's Kitchen Rules:
No table salt is used in my recipes. (Not even in water for noodles and pasta)
Most of these recipes can be made with chicken or beef. (I don’t eat beef)
Most of my recipes I concoct with what I find in my refrigerator.
The majority of my recipes are Mediterranean in nature, although I will try any cuisine.
I very seldom use measures because taste is subjective and you can add or subtract any amount of ingredients in my recipes according to your taste.
If you absolutely need to know amounts, email Joe and I will try to give you measurements.
Joe and I disagree, but I use wine in my recipes that I will drink with my dinner. I don’t care if it’s an expensive bottle. If a cheap wine does not taste quite good enough, why would I add it to my dish and ruin my cooking? The flavor of the wine will come through the cooking.

After Heatwave Chicken Mushroom Dish
After the last heatwave of the summer, a good dish of comfort food is just what the body needs to rejuvenate the appetite.

Extra virgin olive oil
Red onion, finely chopped
Garlic, finely chopped
Button mushrooms, sliced
Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
Chicken breast, halved(see recipe directions)
Coating mixture, equal parts of breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and flour
Noodles (I use 'no egg yolk' noodles)
Chicken stock or 'no salt' bouillon
Canned tomatoes, gently rinsed
Fresh basil
Saute the onion, garlic and mushrooms in olive oil.
Cut three boneless,skinless chicken breasts lengthwise. (Hold the breast on edge and cut like a bagel so you end up with flat pieces. It takes a little time to do, but the portions are right for a single serving and the chicken cooks quicker.)
Dredge the sliced chicken in the coating mixture.
Add to pan and brown over medium heat.
Start water boiling and cook the noodles.
When both sides of chicken are a nice crusty brown, add enough wine and chicken bouillon or chicken stock to make a gravy.
Add tomatoes and a handful of whole leaf basil.
Bruise the leaves in the pan. This will also squash the tomatoes.
Gently boil until tomatoes are melted and juice is thick enough to be a gravy.
Remove the wilted basil and add noodles.
Just before serving, add some fresh cut minced basil.
Buon Appetito

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Don Miguel Gascon Malbec 2009

In certain times, certain wines become a fad.  I remember when I started enjoying wines that Cabernet Sauvignon was "thee wine to have."  Later it was Chianti, then Merlot and Syrah and now entering the picture is Malbec.  In a very short period of time, Argentina has taken this French grape and has begun to produce some of the most incredible tasting wines to ever be produced in South America. Most are priced under $15 and many delicious Malbecs are under $10.
Today, I am finishing a Don Miguel Gascon Malbec 2009 that I recently found for $11 at a local wine shop.
Today, the wines of Don Miguel Gascón are crafted in the City of Mendoza at the same winery that was built by the Spanish visionary whose name bears it. Begun in 1884, the winery is an historic landmark in the history of Argentine winemaking, yet it houses some of the most advanced winemaking technology in the world.
During the 1940’s, the Gascón family bottled Argentina’s first 100 percent varietal Malbec. Now, Ernesto Catena, a fourth generation winemaker, has brought the wines of Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón to high status in Argentina, and to prominence with critics and connoisseurs throughout the world.
For that price this wine is incredible. I have had this wine before, but I can't remember it being this good.
Aromas were lite, but filled with blackberry, dark cherry, plum and some damp soil with a little hint of pepper. Blackberry, some cherry with pepper and mocha led to a dry smooth, not overly long finish.
We opened this wine on the patio with BBQ chicken, hot dogs for Pam and Shirley grilled herself an Italian chicken sausage.  We all loved the wine.  Like a good Chianti this a wine excellent with any food and also excellent for sipping afterwards.