Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Valentine's Day Weekend

1995 Fleury Champagne – Doux ($80)

This was our Valentine’s Day wine. We had to buy this one because how often do you see a doux? It was fantastic and the biggest surprise to us was that it didn’t even seem as sweet as some of the Demi-Secs we have tasted. Despite the sweetness, as with the Billecart Salmon Demi Sec, the sweetness never overpowered the flavors. Here are Jen’s notes:

If you want to know how this Champagne tasted, eat a lemon sweet tart, take a bite of an apricot and eat some pop rocks to simulate effervescence. It is sweet but with a refreshing zest. The palate is quite rich with succulent apricot and a little bit of bubble gum and raspberry.

On Saturday, we opened a 2005 Grgich Petite Syrah (around $45). This was also an excellent wine. Grgich is one of our favorite Napa wineries. All of their wines are quite distinctive and never over oaked. Here are Jen’s brief notes.

Deep red color. Palate shows smoke, pepper, violet and currant.

On Monday, we went to see Philip Glass perform “Music in Twelve Parts” at Davies Symphony Hall. It was a four hour affair with two intermissions and a dinner break. We both love Philip Glass, but four hours is a long time to listen to repetitive minimalism. We definitely spaced out and fidgeted at times but overall, the piece was fantastic.

For the dinner break, Jen stayed at Davies and bought us some wine while I ran to McDonalds for the burgers. Jen had a non-descript Pinot while I told her to buy the Dows 10 year tawny for me. I am a huge fan of Dow’s restrained style and was thrilled to see it on the list. When I asked Jen why she didn’t get the tawny, she replied that she didn’t think it would go well with a McDonald’s cheeseburger. My philosophy on that one is that if you are confronted with a wine list dominated by Crane Lake, you pick the best available wine and wine/food pairings be damned!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


2005 Donnhoff Norheimer Kirschhek Spatlese ($37)
Shane’s Notes

This is a stunning Riesling. You could age this one for another ten years but it is drinking just fine right now (if you like them young). It is sweet but the sweetness never overpowers the flavors. The palate is vibrant with tangy flavors of citrus (lemon and orange) and stone fruits. There is a slight spritziness reminiscent of Mosel Rieslings and of course, there is plenty of minerality.

Monday, February 09, 2009

"In the Next Room" Weekend

Shane’s Notes

Actually, we started this weekend on Thursday by opening a Benovia 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot. I think the price on this one was in the neighborhood of $30. It was too oaky for me so I only had one glass. Here are Jen’s notes.

The palate is smoky and shows cranberry and black cherry. It is lighter than many CA pinots. Pleasantly acidic. A little too much oak.

On Friday, we opened a Domaine Grand Veneur 2006 Chateauneuf du Pape (30 bucks). After 30 minutes of decanting, I was disappointed. After 60 minutes of decanting, I was singing the praises of this fantastic wine. It clearly needed some time and was even better after two hours. Here are Jen’s notes.

Velvety texture, long succulent finish with pleasant astringency. Palate shows currant, earth and herbs de provence, cedar, blackberry and orange peel. One hour decant.

On Saturday, we saw a play at the Berkeley Repertory Theater entitled “In the Next Room” by Sara Ruhl. It was a very interesting play that dealt with the sexual mores of the Victorian era. I enjoyed it but it is definitely geared more towards women than men. Prior to the play and at intermission, I had a glass of Raymond Merlot and Jen had a glass of Domaine Carneros. While neither are wines that we would buy, they were both drinkable. The Raymond Merlot is over oaked but it does show some fruit underneath.

We finished the evening in bed with a half a bottle of Grgich’s Violetta ($85). This is certainly one of the best American dessert wines we have tasted. The palate showed rich flavors of Apple, Apricot and Honeysuckle. It had good acidity and finished with quite a pucker. Is it worth $85? The price pretty much puts it out of our price range but when compared to other expensive dessert wines, I can’t say it is overpriced.

Our Super Bowl wine was an Italian wine - Guido Porro 2005 Dolcetto d’Alba (a $16 Kermit Lynch selection). We decanted and for the first hour, this was an incredibly bizarre wine. The flavors kept shifting with each sip. At various times, we wrote down the following flavor descriptors: bramby, earth, funk, flat cola, fennel, violets, berry and pepper. After about 90 minutes, the wine settled into an incredible Dolcetto. This was quite simply the best Dolcetto we have ever tasted and it would be a bargain at twice the price. The palate was very concentrated and showed Persimmon and perfume with brambly undertones. Kudos to Kermit!