Riedel at the Bluebird

I’m sitting here sipping the leftover ’06 Katnook Founder’s Block Chardonnay from the Guilty Pleasures dinner the other day and I’m really liking it. Could it have anything to do with the Riedel chardonnay glass I’m using? Probably, in my tastebuds opinion. Before the Riedel tasting at the Bluebird, I would have said pshaw but now, I’m convinced they really do enhance one’s wine drinking experience. I’ll be uploading a video in the next day or two but here is a quick rundown of the wines: Started off the night with Philipponnat brut champagne. A forest of Riedel champagne glasses were laid out on the bar when we arrived. It was a comparative tasting of 4 wines and a cognac. The first wine we tried was from Quincy in the Loire Valley, Joseph Mellot ’06 Sauvignon Blanc. In the taster glass it had a very closed nose and muted fruits, seemed a bit flat. In the Riedel, it really came alive, the nose was bouncy and fresh, the fruit really came thru, a sort of lemony sherbert taste with  a much smoother mouthfeel and balanced acidity. The next white was a Napa Chardonnay from Groth, an ’05. In the tester, a bit alcoholic and very oaky. In the proper Riedel the transformation was amazing. Caramel, buttery nose, hazelnuts,quite intense with sweet, ripe fruit on the palate and a nice long finish. A definite transformation. We then moved onto the reds, the first one, an ’02 Beaune 1er cru from Louis Jadot.  In the taster, not a very pronounced nose with definite tannins, it seemed quite vegetal. When we swapped glasses – much more delicate nose, very perfumy with lovely floral notes. Soft and silky. The last red was an Australian from Platagenet, an ’04 Cabernet. The nose at first was all red chili peppers, it was like walking around a Mexican food market, chewy tannins and pronounced alcohol. In the proper glass, the wine was smoother, less alcohol and the aromas and flavours of ripe black fruits came to the forefront, although there was still plenty of...

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Cline ’06 Ancient Vines Mouvedre – The video tasting

The other night, after we closed up the shop, I persuaded my colleague Ayesha to go halfsies with me on the Cline ’06 Ancient Vines Mouvedre.  I even talked her into doing a video tasting but she chickened out in the end so all you see is her hand. The Brixchicks out in Nor Cal  recommended this wine on their blog. Technically, the vineyard is in Contra Costa  County appellation and the price is £12.99 NOT £13.99. Click to see what I thought of it. [viddler id=ddb63858&w=437&h=333] Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Bibendum & Twitter Taste Live!

Bibendum had their annual trade tasting last week and what a show! It was at the new Saatchi Gallery in the old Duke of York’s HQ in Chelsea. They’ve done wonders with the old barracks, perfect gallery space with lots of connecting hallways and stairs to who-knows-where. Every turn revealed a delightful surprise of winetasting. The show was an opportunity for Bibendum to showcase their catalogue and they had everything from Asda own brand to Krug vintage with plenty of stops in between. I was there not just to taste but also to participate in the firstever Bibendum Twitter Taste Live! Dan Coward of Bibendum and Rob McIntosh of  wineconversation organized the event. There were about 10 of us. Lots of food bloggers, not enough wine bloggers. C’mon winos,  you need to show up! Surf4wine, Spittoon, wineconversation and me, The Winesleuth,  representin’ the wine-rs. Food Stories, Eatlikeagirl, Hollowlegs, CheeseandBiscuits, a couple others I can’t remember and Documentally, who, I think, was the techie guy. He certainly seemed like it with his Mac, I-phone and portable router. We twittered on 3 wines, the Austrian Laurenz V. ’07 Friendly Gruner Veltliner, the Spanish Dinastia Vivanco ’05 Rioja crianza and the Californian Delicato ’06 Old Vines Zinfandel. The twittering was a blast! Lots of bloggers from around the UK and one even stripped off his shirt (via webcam) for us ( thanks for the suggestion, HollowLegs!). I lost my twitter notes but if memory serves, the Gruner was med bodied, nicely peppery, with notes of hay and grass. The Dinastia Vivanco (or “dinosaur” as one twitter so eloquently put it) – loads of cherry and spice and the Old Vines Zin, bit confected and full bodied, smokey with lots of black fruits. That’s all I remember. Have to remember to save Twitter notes next time! I had a chance to speak with David DeBoer, VP of International Sales of Delicato at the end of the day, more on that in the next post or two. For now, back to editing my next video. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Kickin’ it at Kick Ranch Vineyards

More from first ever US Winebloggers Conference ’08 in Sonoma, CA. I landed at SFO on Thursday midnite and by noon the next day I was headed out to Kick Ranch vineyards for the first event of the conference. It was a tasting of 14 wineries on the hilltop of Kick Ranch vineyards. All of the wineries sourced some or all of their grapes from Kick Ranch so it was a great opportunity to sample Sonoma Valley wine. The winner for funkiest label has to go to Erna Schein’s “Sainte Fumee”, a chateuneuf-du-pape like blend of syrah, mourvedre, petit syrah and petit verdot. I know p.verdot doesn’t usually figure in the blend but I said a CNdP-like blend. The wine was as seriously good as the label was seriously fun. The winemaker said that he instructed the artist to come up with a label that reflected the wine, big and meaty, kind of an “angel of meat” and next thing you know…ta-dah!! Enough about the label, now on to the wine. A spicy sweet nose with black pepper and fresh red fruit berries competing for my attention. Drinking it was a sublime pleasure, smooth and rich, a fabulous blend of peppery spicy fruit and lovely tannins that would stand up to any slab of beef. The winemakers said it was not quite ready yet, “give it 6 more months”, he advised, but if he doesn’t think it was ready, all I can say is- It’ll blow you away when it is ready! Great stuff coming from this boutique winery.   Loxton Vineyards was another great producer of syrah. Founded and run by the Australian ex-physicist, Chris Loxton,  he came to California in 1996 and never looked back. In homage to his Australian background, he planted syrah but unlike Aussie wines, his are excellent Rhone style reds. The ’05 syrah had fresh red fruits on the nose and palate with great spiciness coming off the nose and onto the palate. The ’05 Reserve Syrah had lovely raspberry and black pepper...

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Sunday lunch and Levendi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ’05

When I was in Sonoma, Ca, Levendi Winery and The Wine Spies got together and had a bash for us bloggers after the WBConference. One of our going away gifts was a half bottle of the Levendi Napa Valley 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon to try at home. I brought mine home to see what my English friends would think of it. In England, the opportunity to try good California cab doesn’t really come along often so I had a bunch of willing testers. I went over to my friend Ele’s house for a bit of Sunday lunch and the Levendi cab. Here are my thoughts, as well as the others. A savoury nose, not very fruity but what I could detect were black stewed fruits,prunes, blackcurrant jam, bit of spiciness, words like dark and harsh were thrown about but I think that was because of the alcoholic content. A surprisingly medium bodied wine on the palate with more of the black fruits, particularly blackcurrant and very ripe plums, soft tannins which was again a surprise. I think everyone was expecting a monster of a wine when in reality, it was more like a pussycat. Having said that though, it did have a nice acidic balance which meant the wine went really well with the mature English cheddar Ele had on hand. The cheese made the fruit a bit brighter on the palate, a nice foil. Rachel said she thought it was light, not heavy, black grapey, she liked it, ok with cheeses, food didn’t really make a difference for her, it was still good. She’d drink it again, it had an inviting quality. Juliene thought it tasted much better then it smelled, a surprisingly soft wine, quite medium bodied, plenty of fruity goodness, an easy going wine, nothing too complex. She also thought it went well with food.   Sophie was the naysayer of the bunch, she couldn’t really get a handle on the aromas and she thought it was too acidic, very intersting. She did however, think that it greatly improved when adding food into the mix....

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Rockaway Vineyard Walk at the WBC

        Slogging up that hill I was silently cursing myself for not riding my bike to work more often, but when it’s crappy weather you don’t think about your upcoming trip to Sonoma Valley and how you should be getting into shape. I thought going to as many tastings as possible before I left would suffice. Wrong! And now I was paying for it. All part of the US wineblogger conference. I should have followed Joe and Amy (anotherwineblog.com) and done the Russian River vineyard walk. But I’d opted for the Rodney Strong Vineyard walk. It wasn’t really that bad except for a couple of hills. I think I’ve become a bit of a crybaby in my dotage, time was when I’d run up the Himalayas with barely a whimper. Oh, to be 24 again! We did get a box lunch at the end and the company of Jim Murphy (one of the growers for Rodney Strong) and Doug McIlory (Director of Grower and Vineyard Operations) to take us thru the vineyard. We walked through the Rockaway Vineyard where some of their best cabernet sauvignon comes from and where we ended our walk with a beautiful view of the surrounding Anderson Valley.   We were lucky enough to taste our way through the current vintages of Rodney Strong Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and the 100%, estate grown, single vineyard cabernet sauvingon, The Rockaway. The Chalk Hill Chardonnay and Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc were both excellent examples of California whites, the Sauvignon blanc quite full and fruity with plenty of lush fruit. The chardonnay was quite creamy but not too buttery or oaky  with lovely tropical fruit as befits a chardonnay from California.   The highlight of lunch was the Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon 05, which has been involved in some blogger controversy but we kinda skipped over that. The most important thing was the wine itself. What did I think? I thought it was quite well made, lovely balance, well structured with good tannins to handle the loads of black fruits on the palate. A...

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