Archive for April, 2008

Bonaccorsi Tasting

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Courtesy of Mark Johnson w/ comment by Kent Keating at the bottom…


We went to the Bonaccorsi tasting tonight at Paradise Pantry – here are my notes:

 We started with the 2006 Viognier from Vogelzang Vineyard. At $53 it’s one of the most expensive Viogniers I’ve ever had, but it also was one of the best. Very lush and tons of fruit.

Second was the 2006 Pink Monkey Rose of Pinot at $18. It was simple and a bit like Kool-aid.

Third up was the 2005 Santa Rita hills Pinot. We all liked it as our favorite of the two Pinots, but not worth $60.

Fourth was the Melville Pinot at $62. It was a bit rustic and lacking fruit and finesse.

Last was the 2005 Larner Syrah. We all noticed a hint of spritz at first but it quickly went away. It was a good wine, but once again we’ve had better Syrahs (like the recent Saxon Brown I had) for less money.

Though their 1 oz. pours were a kinda skimpy, they at least had a very nice all you can eat cheese, proscuitto, and bread buffet.


For dinner, we walked down to Café Bariloche. It was my first time there. The food was pretty good, but not remarkable. Kent’s main dish and salad dish was great, Kathie’s Jerk chicken was tasty but not spicy enough, and mine was blah. For wine I brought a 2003 Carlisle Petite Sirah that was pretty good with lots of clean fruit showing, but Kent’s wine was better: the 2005 Carlisle “Dry Creek” Syrah. It was deep, rich, and smoky.

Note: they could use new glassware.

Mark Johnson

Commander Printed Products

3450 Camino del Sol

Oxnard, CA 93030

805-988-5880 / Fax: 805-988-6880

Comment from Kent Keating…

My wine was actually the 05 “Russian River” syrah. Really enjoyed the South American restaurant with dishes from Argentina and Chile primarily. The empanadas were very tasty. Some pretty authentic food. Nice wine list of wines from Argentina and Chile.


Lineup of Palmina Wines

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

In deciding which wine to pour at our upcoming winemakers dinner featuring Steve Clifton, winemaker from Palmina Wines in Lompoc, at Capriccio Restaurant, I met with Noel, owner of Capriccio and Blaire Olson from Wine Warehouse who represents Palmina wines.  Noel had a nice selection of appetizers whippped up, including buffalo mozzarella atop tomato and sprinkled with fresh basil, scampi sauteed in a rich Tuscan tomato sauce, bruschetta piled high with diced tomato, onion and garlic and an assortment of crudites.  Wines we tasted were (in this order), Pinot Grigio, Nebbiolo, Alisos, Dolcetto, Mattia and Tocai.  All wines were terrific and very food friendly, each with it’s own characteristics and as we went down the line, they became bigger, fuller-bodied and loaded with fruit.

We’re still nailing down the menu for the dinner, but have the following thus far:

Appetizer:  Bruschetta served with Pinot Grigio and Nebbiolo

1st Course: Endive spears filled with crab served with Pinot Grigio

2nd Course: Scampi or Scallops in that Tuscan tomato sauce & Asparagus served with Alisos

3rd Course: Grilled eggplant with goat cheese w/ marinara served with Dolcetto

4th Course: Filet Mignon w/ shitake mushroom sauce & pasta served w/ Mattia

Dessert:  Mango Sorbet with fresh raspberries served with Tocai

Any comments?




Good, cheap Malbec

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Has anyone ever tried wines from Altocedro from Mendoza, Argentina?  I’m particularly talking about their Malbec.  They make two versions, a standard Malbec which retails for $12 and a reserve that retails for around $25 max.  I’ve had the 2005 reserve on several occasions which sold for $17, but since they received rave reviews from Wine Spectator, as is the norm, the price went up with the 2006 vintage.  Still not a bad price to say the least, but a tougher sell when there are so many other Argentinian wines that are great at a better price.  Tonight we opened the 2006 (standard) Altocedro and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of black fruit, mocha-like flavors and mild tannins on the finish.  A youthful wine that screams for a juicy steak or pork ribs.  Fun, zingy and fruity – I like it!


Continuing the birthday celebration

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Last night I had my friends Beth and Cathy over for dinner to continue my birthday celebration.  My friend Harriet told me that this birthday is a big one and I should strive to celebrate for 40 straight days.  Due to the fact that I am recovering from surgery that I had a couple of weeks ago,  I am certainly not up for 40 days of celebrating but I can sip on a few good wines with good friends and/or a nice dinner.

Last year I bought a bottle of Jaffurs “Upslope” at a future’s event.  Upslope is the winemaker’s (Craig) pride and joy which consists of a blend of his best grapes from each year’s harvest.  It was worth the wait, if you call holding a wine for 1 year a wait.  It retails for $75 a bottle at the winery and I am certain The Wine Closet can get this for their special customers.  This wine is definately a real treat.  Maybe this is one that you want to open for a special occasion or to have with a nice and juicy steak.  Cheers!

Wine Tasting

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

A couple of Friday nights ago I went to an Ampelos and Ken Brown Wine Tasting.  Ken Brown poured 4 wines and Ampelos poured 3.  My first taste was the 2006 Ken Brown Chardonny, Nielson Vineyard – this was a very pleasant fruity wine in steel barrels.  This wine left a very nice finish on the tongue.  The 2006 Ken Brown Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County was very big and had a hint of carmel.  The 2005 Pinot, Clos Pepe Vineyard was still a little young but has great potential.  The 2005 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard was really good and is drinkable now or for many years to come.  Ken Brown will be in Los Olivos on tonight pouring these wines at the Los Olivos Cafe so if you are in that neck of the woods then, I highly recommend going to meet him and taste his wines.

The 2005 Ampelos Pinot Noir Lambda has a nice back finish of chocolate.  The 2005 Amepelos Syrah Gamma is full of spice and is yummy.  The 2005 Amepelos Syrache is a blend of Syrah and Grenache, hence the name and is really good.  Ampelos consistently has good wines every year and if you are looking for a nice wine with food, cheese pairing, or just as an evening cocktail, give these wines a try.

Summerwood CAB

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Great wine with dinner last night.  Very smooth finish with lots of pepper.

Annual Xircom BBQ

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Well today was the annual BBQ get-together at Sharon and Jesse’s home for all the folks still “keeping in touch” from the old Xircom days.  There’s about 10 of us plus spouses, plus a ton of kids I can’t keep up with, who all meet at least once a year for a BBQ and a few other holiday gatherings throughout the year.  Sharon and Jesse were so kind as to open up their home once again for the gathering – they provide the lovely home and BBQ and the rest of us bring all the side dishes and booze.  This year we focused on the lighter meat dishes and lots of homemade side salads that were perfect for the lovely afternoon – it was a tad cooler in temperature then previous years’, but pleasant nontheless.  With all this farer food, we opted for a nice bottle of Saxon Brown 06 Semillon to start.  Not too sweet, not too dry with nice balance between fruit and acidity, this wine paired nicely with the caprese-on-a-stick appetizer that had a dramatic presentation of one small fresh mozzarella ball and a fresh basil leaf sandwiched between the cheese and a pear tomato – all this was lightly doused in a blasamic vinagrette.  Tasty treats – thanks Barbara!  We also had hummus with nan lightly toasted and fresh french bread.  Lunch/Dinner consisted of grilled chicken and salmon along with a Mediterranean pasta salad with cannolini beans, feta cheese, olives and sun dried tomatoes (along with a few other items) – yummy, thanks Donna! Another salad of lemon doused pasta with feta and toasted pine nuts which was also very tasty and very different than the other pasta salad – thanks Neni!  We also enjoyed some Sangria and guacamole from Patty and dessert consisted with loads of fresh strawberries, pineapple and great ice-cream from George and brownies made by Tara and Barbara – all was terrific with the Herman Story 05 Syrah from Herman Story


New Arrivals

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Just received a plethora of new wines at the store last week.  Here’s what’s new:  Saxon Brown ’06 One Oak Zinfandel, Saxon Brown ’06 Semillon – both of these I tasted at the Pasadena Family Winemakers Event and thought both were worthy of bringing in – the Semillon is priced at $22 while the Zin is $35.  Also received the Herman Story wines such as the Larner Vineyard ’06 Grenache (which was impossible to get last time because it sold out immediately), the Nuts & Bolts ’06 Syrah and I also picked up the ’05 San Luis Obispo Syrah as it’s tasting mighty good (91 points from ebob) – the new Herman Story releases both are priced at $36/bottle while the ’05 vintage Syrah is $30.  Another beautiful wine is the J. Wilkes ’05 Pinot Noir from Bien Nacido Block Q – a fabulously smooth and elegant Pinot that rates right up there with Kosta Brown in complexity and depth – a truly great Pinot and priced accordingly at $54.


Open That Bottle Night

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Woohoo taxes are now behind us and it’s all smooth sailing here on out…hopefully :-)  Let’s all get together for an official “open that bottle” night.  This is when you actually open that bottle you’ve been saving for some special occasion – you know, the one with the sentimental story behind it or the one given to you by a special friend or the one you paid an exuberant amount of money for.  That’s the one!  For those of you interested, we can select a night, find a location or do this virtually – whichever works best for you – bring your special bottle, tell your story and finally enjoy the wine.  If you’re not in the Ventura County area, you should still plan an “open that bottle night” party where you are, with friends or not and then share your stories on the blog.  It’ll be great fun hearing everyone’s stories of why this particular wine is special to you and also how the wine tasted once you finally opened it up.  Who’s in?


Laura’s Birthday Bash

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Diane planned a surprise birthday dinner at Elements in Santa Barbara for Laura’s BIG 4-0 – she probably would have been surprised had she not actually recognized several of the vehicles parked out front – oh well – fun was had by all either way.  An unseasonably scorching hot day in SB yesterday (damn global warmng!) so the restaurant was quite stuffy – even though there were few bodies around except for our group of 12.  It was difficult to get comfortable and make food and drink decisions until the sun was well set and a cool breeze began to blow.  We selected a white, Jaffurs Roussanne and a red, Kunin Pape Star and asked the bar to chill both for several minutes before pouring.  There’s nothing worse then warm wine.  Rob ordered the sesame crusted ahi with mashed potatoes and a sauce of wasabi intermixed with some other sweet sauce that was a delicious combo with the ahi.  I ordered the corn pancakes with avocado and the Japanese white tuna tartare served with seaweed salad and taro chips – the pancakes had mild flavor and were overcooked and a bit rubbery, but the tartare was fresh and tasty with a light ponzu marinade drizzled over.  The chips made nice fish scoopers and were lightly salted and crispy.

When the wine was finally at a temperature to be enjoyed, we poured both – the Roussanne had nice citrus flavors and a creamy mouthfeel, good acidity and not overly sweet.  The Pape Star is a Chateau neuf du Pape Grenache blend that is a simple wine, yet has bright fruit flavors and light spice with a soft tannin – not overly concentrated, but an easy drinking red and quite enjoyable. We then opened up the gift we gave Laura, the Villa Creek ’05 High Road from the James Berry Vineyard  rated 92 points from ebob and was immediately floored by the deep purple color and dark fruit flavors, a very concentrated and complex wine – the quality outshined the previous red blend – no contest.