Don’t know Bordeaux? Check out Winemega.com

OK, so you’ve heard about how complicated learning old-world wines is, right? I personally, even after over a decade of enjoy and learning, have TONS to learn about old-world wines. And, admittedly, I will ask the sommelier for recommendations on those wines, particularly French, because I’ll spend a couple bills

on a wine to go with a dinner but I’m not going to waste that on a “guess”. This frustration with old-world wines and learning the regions makes the learning curve even longer (at least for me).

Enter WineMega.com…I recently found a whole site dedicated to the Bordeaux region in France and its associated wineries. A short cut to everything Bordeaux! Its a dual language (French and English) site dedicated to “Bordeaux wines classification, articles, tastings, vintage chart, studies…”. In there you can search on chateux, vintages, appellations, regions, and even pull up some tasting notes. Worth a look, at the very least it may ease the pain of trying to learn some of these crazy French wines!

Enjoy the Wine Life!

Sokol Blosser’s Evolution – Wow!

So the other night I went into my wine fridge and pulled a white wine to take over to a friend’s house. I have to admit, I sometimes receive wines to taste either from the wine clubs I’m a part of or friends so I saw this bottle and didn’t remember

where I had gotten it. Sokol Blosser’s Evolution No. 9 white medley – sounded good so I took it over to my buddy’s place. The wine clubs usually don’t steer me wrong (otherwise I would cut them off – if they can’t send stuff that’s actually good then it’s not worth it).

We arrived at my buddy’s and cracked open the Sokol Blosser and all I could say was “wow”! I was actually surprised at the complexity of the wine. I quickly e-mailed my friends at Wine Library in New Jersey and ordered a full case. Thats when I get the best surprise – $11.99 a bottle on sale! For the quality of that wine you really can’t beat that. I’ve since given it half a dozen people who’ve told me “I don’t drink white wine, I just don’t like it…” and 6 for 6 have told me “maybe I should re-think that” after trying the Sokol Blosser. This is on my “can’t miss” white wine list.

With that little story, here are the tasting notes. I highly recommend giving it try especially at that price!

First the wine itself is a blend of 9 different varietals which brings out very interesting flavors: Muller-Thurgau, White Riesling, Semillon, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Sylvaner. Finding a balance of that many varietals has GOT to be incredibly challenging. Finding a balance that is as good as Evolution 9 has got to be damn near impossible so big kudos for that.

The aroma is of sweet flowers and a hint of citrus. It hits your tongue with rich fruit flavor (some call it a lychee taste – I can agree with that – its citrus like but richer). The finish is smooth, bright, and crisp. It balances very well with many foods but I prefer it with slightly spicy foods – worked with Indian (very difficult to find food for that) and even a peanut chicken recipe that I cooked this weekend.

Big thumbs up. Give it a try. Truly a taste of the Wine Life!

Eco-friendly Winery – not a bad idea…

Stoller Vineyards of Dayton, OR is opening a wine making facility that runs on solar power is expected to be operational on April 19.  They claim to be able to generate 44,000 kilowatt hours of power, though there is no information on how much it cost them to install the panels or what the ultimate cost savings (if any) would be.  The new facility is the first winery in Oregon to be certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s Green Building Rating System.

I was trying to do some secondary research and find out if there is an return on investment information (ROI) on this sort of power for a winery.  Its great that you can use renewable energy to power the winery but at what cost?  At the end of the day, while its important to save energy and some day the world’s oil supplies will run dry (if you listen to a buddy of mine that day is not too far off and we’ll all be living like Mad Max and fending off Chinese Terminator Robots – because the Chinese have so many more engineering students graduating – but thats a whole separate debate).  But the only things that spur on widespread adoption of such technologies are either government programs (subsidies) or a compelling business case.  Boils down to the all-mighty dollar!  Gotta love capitalism!

Enjoy the Wine Life!

Put a Cork in it! The Corkage Debate

The SF Chronicle has an interesting article on corkage fees that ran today.  In it the author interviews many differing opinions both in support of it and against it.  Basically, restaurateurs seem to argue that people bringing in their own bottles eats into their profits.  In fact, they’ve built their business models around a certain amount of wine being bought off the list and they’re not meeting those quotas because of so many patrons brining in their own wine.  Their second argument is that the wine list is specially designed to go with their food.  Part of the ambiance – like a painting or the lighting.  This second argument I dismiss completely because I have been at places where the wine-paired tasting menu (thats when the wine is selected for you and the food is actually designed around the wine) doesn’t even have good pairings.  I went to a French restaurant in SF one night, got the wine pairing and they came to the table with a Frei Brothers cabernet that I KNOW goes for $15 in the store.  That wouldn’t be a problem if this wasn’t one of the top eateries in SF and I wasn’t paying $185 for the meal!

Anyway, back to the first argument – its part of the business model and bringing your own wine is “starving” them out.  If your business environment is that your competitors all over the city/state all allow corkage fees and you do even the smallest amount of homework before opening your business you should have a better gauge of the percentage of wine that is drunk that will be off the list.  Period.  End of story.  Why would one believe that behavior will be different for their place over the other high-end place down the street?  I think this is an amazingly idiotic thing to say.  Your lack of preparation doesn’t create an emergency for others.  Know what you’re getting into before you open the business.  The article interviews a former CA restaurateur that opened a place in Boulder, CO.  He talks about how much money you make in CO because it’s illegal to BYOW.  Apples and oranges.  Thanks for nothing there.  Different business environments and different parameters.

Now, the one issue I will side with restaurateurs on is stating this (and I’ve never known anyone who does this but…):  apparently they are experience a high frequency of customers bringing in CASES of wine.  CASES?!?!  That is ghetto.  Not illegal, just ghetto.  Bring a bottle or two.  Something special for a nice date or maybe a couple more for a birthday party.  Buddy of mine had his 40th b-day party at place in SF and we brought 3 bottles of Opus One that he had saved for 5 years for his 40th.  They gave us a hard time about three when their limit was two (bad move – this was a group of heavy drinkers who subsequently bought nothing else from this restaurant – dude, pick you battles).  Anyway – bringing a CASE of wine is f’in ridiculous and I do feel sorry for restaurateurs who have to deal with that mess.

Wine program at the Fifth Floor (love that place – ate there as a celebration when we found out we were having a baby girl last summer) designed by Emily Wines (I wonder if thats her real name or if she’s a branding nut?) apparently charges a graduated scale – more corkage for every bottle you bring.  This seems fair to me.  Ultimately it comes down to civility.  Strolling into a place, cracking open a case of wine and paying only corkage is just bogus.  But underestimating the percentage of your covers that will be paying corkage is lack of planning.