Archive for May, 2011

2010 Château Montaud Côtes de Provence Rosé

May 30th, 2011 1 comment

This delightful rosé blend from Château Montaud makes a perfect picnic wine, or one to enjoy on a nice, hot summer eve.  With a very clear raspberry appearance, this evanescent wine has stunning visual presence.  The nose, very clean but low-keyed, presents pronounced berry and peach aromas, with hints of honeysuckle, strawberry, and even a wisp of pear!  Pleasant-tasting, this crisp wine has very lively acidity and is well-balanced.  Though its body is a little poor, and the finish is short, its charming and agreeable character more than makes up for these.  Like other blends, this rosé pairs well with artichoke recipes, Brie and other mild cheeses, numerous fish dishes, and summer salads.  It is fast becoming one of my favorites of the season.

Happy Memorial Day, wine lovers! While typically a holiday of grills and beer, there’s no reason not to enjoy a nice, summery bottle of wine today!

Dine with Open Wine!

May 27th, 2011 1 comment

wine decanter
Want to learn the basics about decanters and decanting? Check out our Decanting article in the Wine Storage Education Center!

There’s something refreshing about properly-decanted wine, especially when served with the main course!  Some savvy restaurants practice the art of decanting so that your wine will open to its fullest by the time your meal arrives.  The arts of cooking, serving, sipping, and eating all depend on timing.  One disruption to the balance of a prepared meal is a carefully-selected wine that is closed come mealtime.  Waiting for it to open may make your food go cold, and it also disrupts the pace of the dinner.  In short, decanting is a terrific way to help make your wine-paired dinners as well-timed as those you experience in your favorite restaurants.

Though you may already be decanting wine at home, the use of a specialized decanter helps your wine oxidize quicker while adding an element of visual grace and elegance.  In particular, Riedel wine decanters are carefully shaped to allow a greater amount of wine to come into contact with the air.  Unlike a common water pitcher, the Grape Riedel Wine Decanter is crafted for “full oxygenation” which definitely improves the taste and aroma of your favorite wine.  The graceful, mouth blown Riedel Amadeo Lyra Decanter, launched in 2006 to celebrate Reidel’s 250th anniversary, adds additional elegance and style to your wines’ presentation.  The Riedel Extreme Decanter, dubbed “The Work of Art Decanter” by the New York Times, is designed to encourage young wines to open, as well as vintage wines.  (Decanting older wines just before serving helps keep a wine’s brilliance and clarity from being impaired by sediments that may have developed over the years).  No matter what Riedel wine decanter you choose, you’ll be bringing the best of the science of oxygenation and hand-crafter art together, with wine, for a memorable dining experience.

Riedel decanter


Wine Review: Jelu Malbec 2008

May 25th, 2011 No comments
Jelu Malbec 2008

Jelu Malbec 2008 Label

This hearty, Argentinean Malbec is quite robust!  Its delightful nose contains pleasing plum and vanilla scents.  The wine itself has prominent spicy flavors–very characteristic of Argentinean Malbecs–as well as those of dark plums, blackberries, and traces of vanilla.  The finish is quite good, lasting well over 40 seconds, and includes satisfying blackberry notes.  This is a wine sure to delight fans of “spicy” and “peppery” wines.  Often found at $12 a bottle, Malbec enthusiasts will want to try this affordable, solid example of a Bordeaux varietal that falls somewhere in-between a Cab and a Merlot.  Though the label mentions this wine is a good fit for “barbecue meat,” be careful of the barbecue sauce you use.  Sweeter sauces will not compliment this wine, but certain pasta sauces and rich cheeses certainly do. Any dish incorporating cranberries, unsweetened or semisweet, also makes a surprisingly good match, as will cashews.  Of course, this spicy red is quite good on its own, so enjoy a bottle of Jelu Malbec 2008 today!

Jelu Malbec 2008

Jelu Malbec 2008

If you’ve been faithfully trying all the wines we’ve reviewed here recently, you may find yourself with a few partial bottles that need storing! We carry a variety of wine preservation and dispensing systems to suit a range of needs, from the casual drinker (try the Pek Preservo for a single bottle–also a great gift!) to home (or restaurant) wine bar (check out the WineKeeper systems). These systems use argon or nitrogen to prevent oxidization of your open bottles.

Wine Glasses 101

May 23rd, 2011 1 comment

typical red wine glass shape

In addition to looking sophisticated and fun, wine glasses come in various shapes and sizes to bring out the best in your wine.  For instance, a typical red wine glass is larger and more rounded than a glass designed for whites.  A prime example of an excellent red wine glass is the Riedel Vinum Classic Burgundy. This allows more air to come into contact with the wine, provides additional space for adequate swirling when opening, and also better accommodates your nose when enjoying the complex scent of a red.  Some stemless red wine glasses, such as any from the Riedel O Wine Glasses collection, have even larger openings and are particularly nice for these reasons!

White wine glasses, being thinner and taller, keep wine at a cooler temperature for longer.  A good example of a typical white wine glass is the Riedel Sommeliers Chablis/Chardonnay. Sparkling wine glasses, also called flutes, are very narrow.  Even if you’re new to the world of wine, you’ve probably used them at least once when drinking a toast at a wedding.  The Riedel Sommeliers Vintage Champagne glass (right) is a good, typical example. Their narrow shape helps to preserve the wine’s carbonation.

Lastly, dessert wine glasses are almost always smaller than the others.  Designed to rush sweet wine to the back of the tongue so its sweetness is not overpowering, they typically range from near shot glass size to a little smaller than a sparkling wine glass.  They also tend to have shorter stems.  Crystal-clear wine glasses are often ideal, especially when visually inspecting your wine.  Though it’s hard to tell from the picture, the Riedel Sommeliers Vintage Port Glass is a good example of a dessert wine glass.

Blown glass, which is particularly thin, is quite good for both visual inspection as well as tasting; you can take smaller sips of wine because the lip of the glass is not as thick.  (Remember to be gentle if toasting with thinner glasses, though!)  Although it’s not essential to drink wine from the proper glass, choosing the right type of glass to complement your vino will definitely enhance your overall experience.

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Wine Review: 2007 Maculan Pino & Toi

May 20th, 2011 No comments

Unlike sweet Hungarian wines made from Tocai Friulano grapes, this Italian Pinot Blanc blend utilizes this curious grape to create an elegant and interesting combination of flavors and scents consisting of 60% Tocai Friulano, 25% Pinot Bianco, and 15% Pinot Grigio.  Fermented in stainless steel, the Pino & Toi is very fresh, aging little before bottling.  It is often recommended that this wine be consumed fairly quickly (within 2 to 4 years), which is why I was delighted that my 2007 bottle did not disappoint!  The wine’s light yellow color complements its pleasing citrus nose.  Though a bit acidic on the first sip, balance is quickly restored with overflowing flavors of peach, lemon, honey, and melon (The acidity works very well to provide a well-balanced finish).  Though given an 82 point rating by Wine Spectator, I agree more with Robert Parker’s rating of 86 points if only for the added complexity found wanting in other blends.  If you’re looking for an interesting dry, medium-bodied white to accompany summer salads, seafood, Chinese food, or to drink on its own, try the 2007 Maculan Pino & Toi.  It’s a crisp, enjoyable summertime sipper with personality!

2007 Maculan Pino & Toi

Pino & Toi

Wine by the Bar: an iPhone App

May 18th, 2011 2 comments
Wine by the Bar logo

In a rush to get the info for a few new bottles you’re looking at?  Having dinner in a place where it is improper to spend time entering wine information on your phone?  Have no fear; Wine by the Bar is here!  Wine by the Bar, a nifty app for the iPhone, makes use of your phone’s camera to scan barcodes directly from wine bottles in an instant.  (This means no more navigating through lengthy lists!) Once scanned, Wine by the Bar puts you in touch with your favorite wine writers, wine stores, and wineries.  You can read numerous wine reviews, and even share your own musings with an ever-growing wine community of users.  By signing up on the website Wine by the you can even elect to share your wine blogs and RSS feeds with thousands of users for free (This is a good marketing strategy to help your wine tasting talents be “discovered”)! Complementing Wine by the Bar is the app Beer by the Bar.  True to the spirit of its predecessor, this app works the same way but simply provides information for beer.  In addition to the iPhone, Wine by the Bar is a free application that also runs on the iPad and iPod Touch.

Wine Review: Piesporter Michelsberg 2009

May 16th, 2011 No comments

Piesporter Michelsberg 2009 Riesling

A white wine with a light golden color (and subtle hints of blue), this inexpensive summertime sipper hails from the banks of Germany’s Mosel river in Trier.  Though the nose is on the weaker side, this light, crisp wine is well-balanced.  Its body is delicately creamy, consisting of a subtle buttery texture slightly reminiscent of a Chardonnay.  Interestingly, the Piesporter Michelsberg 2009–which is a Riesling, by the way– contains flavors of numerous fruits with varying degrees of sweetness, as well as citrus fruits (including tart hints of green apples), that allow it to stimulate all of your flavor-detecting neurons.  I found this breadth of flavor to be a curious treat, much more apparent in this wine than in other Rieslings I’ve recently tasted.  With mild acidity, the eight to ten second finish is satisfying-but-short, leaving the drinker yearning for another quick sip.  The wine works as-is on its own, or you can pair it with light dishes.  The latter suggestion is preferable, given the quick duration of the finish.  Though this is certainly not the “best” Riesling available, I find it very decent given the price range it normally inhabits: $8 to $12 a bottle!  Not too shabby!

Mosel River image courtesy of

Jake Checks In from Dubost Winery!

May 13th, 2011 No comments

Vintage Cellars’ own Jake Austad checks in with us again from his California wine tour, telling us all about his latest find.  “I stumbled upon Dubost on the west side of Paso Robles,” says Jake.  “Sure, the sign said tasting room open, but after a half mile trek down a one lane dirt road, I was unsure.  Once in the gravel parking lot, the only car there, I met Curt.  Fourth generation on the family ranch, Curt had to get off the tractor and take off his farmers hat to put on his wine hat and pour.”  Curt made the atmosphere of Dubost very pleasant, sharing numerous stories with Jake from his 60+ years of experience.  Of the wines he tasted, Jake found the Granache and Zinfandel to be his two favorites.  “The zin was accompanied by a story of how the family stumbled upon the 2 tons of fruit from the cushion vineyard near the now famous James Berry Vineyard by Saxum,” relays Jake.  “It was a gem of a Zinfandel for the Dubost family.”   Jake, well aware of the recent trend to label yourself “boutique” in the wine world, believes the term aptly applies to Dubost.  “The wine was the very definition of boutique. All small case lots of 100 to 200 cases were made for each varietal.”  Summing up his positive experience, Jake had the following to say: “If you want family owned where you can taste the passion in each wine, if you want to search out the very definition of boutique winery, you can find it at Dubost.”  And Jake also recommends trying their estate olive oil, too!  “It’s worth the trek down a single lane dirt road for the wine, olive oil, and stories…”

Dubost Zinfandel

Jake Tours Paso Robles

May 11th, 2011 No comments
Turley's Tasting Area

Outside of Turley's Tasting Area

Vintage Cellars’ very own custom cellar designer Jake Austad is currently touring the wine country in Paso Robles, California.  Some of the wineries is visiting include “local favorites” like Justin, Denner Vinyards, Turley, and Tablas Creek.  Jake checked in on Monday with an exciting discovery claiming, “I think we may have found the greatest $10 wine ever made!”  Apparently, this wine is not on the tasting list at Turley, but it is available if you ask to taste the “table wine.”  This mysteriously good $10 wine is actually Pesenti Red Velvet Zinfandel.  In Jake’s words, “Imagine blackberry jam on buttered toast with a smooth velvety finish.  Make this your table wine of the summer as BBQ, pizza, burgers, brats and the classic American hot dog will all shine with this everyday wine…”  Sounds good to me!  I’m very curious to see what other affordable gems Jake will find on his travels.

Pesenti Red Velvet Zinfandel

Delicious wine!

Incidentally, if anyone has been following the BBC show “James May’s Road Trip”, where a BBC documentary host and wine newbie tours wine country and learns about wine from expert Oz Clarke, the most recent episode was May and Clarke touring Paso Robles. May’s goal for the California leg of their trip (they started in France) was finding good wines that can be had for under 10 pounds (somewhere in the $20 range)…but I don’t think they tried the Red Velvet!

Wine and Food: What Not To Mix

Wine and Food Pairing pic courtesy of

We’re often told what wines go well with certain food items, but we rarely discuss which wines and foods don’t mix well.  Here’s a few “don’ts”

  • Though a Chardonnay pairs well with chicken, salmon, and creamy sauces, it fails to delight when sipped with hot, spicy foods!

  • Even a good bottle of Pinot Noir can become offensive when served with hot and spicy foods, and vice versa.

  • If you’re having a semi-spicy dish filled with tomatoes, it’s best to avoid serving Pinot Grigio–the wine often mistakenly believed to “go with everything”.

  • Dry Rieslings do not mix well with sweet foods and sugary dessert items.

  • Neither will Sancerre or a Merlot (though many people often try the latter and are surprised by the unpleasant result!)

  • When serving fish dishes, avoid serving a Shiraz.  And even a decent Cabernet may be too much for select fish dishes–it depends on the fish, and your taste!

  Remember: it’s all about balance.  You don’t want a strong wine to overpower a light food item, or a hearty dish to overpower a lighter wine.  Have fun with your wine pairing adventures, and refer to the advice above to avoid any (unpleasant) surprises!