Thursday, March 29, 2007

Drink the Vine: Guest Review

Hey folks. I hope your week is going well so far. Now I know you guys are used to hearing from me and Grape Nut regarding our tastes in wine. But, I thought it'd be cool to start to offer you something different from time to time. So today, I'm happy to introduce what will become a regular monthly column...the DTV Guest Review. This seems like a fun way to get our readers perspectives on the wines they are drinking...some of which may very well be recommendations from us. So, without further ado, I am proud to introduce our first ever guest review.

This review was submitted by Jim Tax, a friend and fellow wine lover who lives in Seattle, WA. Jim has the luxury of frequently drinking the wines of Washington and Oregon (many of which don't make their way this far east). Having had the luxury of working on a project with Jim for some 2 months in Chicago last year, we frequently discussed and drank wine together. I can honestly say I trust his judgement when it comes to wine recommendations. Thanks to Jim for sending this over.

If anybody else would like to provide a guest review for next month, please email us at We will select the best written reviews for use in future columns.

The Wine: 2005 Owen Roe Abbot’s Red Table Wine
Country: USA
Region: Oregon, Walla Walla Valley
Category: Red blend (Claret-esque)
Price: $22.99 retail ($45 in restaurant)
Decanted or Not: No

Tasting Notes:

Color: Medium Ruby Red

Nose: Not what you’d expect from Oregon (power and charm). Some oak, pepper and fruit hit the nose all at once and it is hard to tell which is the strongest. Great balance.

Taste: Plum and pepper open with a long tobacco and chocolate finish. The spice pairs it well with a hearty Italian meal and the finish makes this the perfect pairing for about any red meat. Don’t expect to have just one bottle. This wine is perfect if you have the stereo-typical Napa person that will only drink California reds. Stellar wine with a great range and smooth finish, all at a pretty good value.

The Verdict: 9 corks

Note: While I have never had this wine, I have seen this wine rated from 85 to 93 on cellartracker. So clearly it is a crowd pleaser. Jimbo, if you happen to order this puppy in bulk, I expect a bottle.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Preception, How does it affect your wine drinking?

Stemming from some recent comments I thought I'd post a question...Have you ever been in a situation where you would have preferred a glass of wine to another beverage or vice versa, but felt that the situation required you to order another drink?

For example, I was told when I graduated college that you didn't want to be the guy at a corporate function ordering a beer. You were supposed to choose a cocktail like Gin and Tonic, Scotch on the rocks, something like that. I eventually settled on my parent's favorite the Manhattan. At the time all I really wanted was a beer, but felt that this wasn't the time for it.

Another example is going to a sports bar to watch a game. At times I prefer beer, but there are times when I would rather just have a glass of wine. I have ordered the glass of wine, much to the amusement of my friends, but why is it so out of place?

Discuss amongst yourself.


Monday, March 26, 2007

How do you drink it????

I thought I'd start out this week with a question: Champagne and sparkling wines, how do you drink them?

Seems pretty dumb doesn't it, but I would bet a lot of people rarely drink the stuff unless they're celebrating a holiday, birthday or some event of note. Do you only drink it on New Years Eve or are you one of those poor souls how just can't tolerate the sparkling wine?

I personally like to drink champagnes and sparkling wines as much as possible. When my wife and I were in our more romantic days, we used to regularly drink champagne on a random Tuesday night. It would be interesting to see peoples reactions to such a brazen display of drink choice. We would always get the question, "What are you celebrating?"

Our response was always simply, "That, it's Tuesday. Do we need more of a reason?"

Now I'm not suggesting that I was drink a top shelf champagne on that random day after work. I generally tend to have a Cava or Sparkling, something like Freixenet or Cristalino. Recently, I've trended more towards the proseccos like Villa Jolanda.

Additionally, I think it's important to point out that sparkling wines pair with almost any meal. From sweet desserts (try a demi sec or prosecco) to a Brut that with stand up boldly to any beef fillet or fish. Sparkling is especially suited to meals where the flavors range from sweet to spicy, bold to subtle.

My point here is that you shouldn't save sparkling wines for special occasions with many drinkable $8 - $10 bottles out there these wines should be making it your weekday dinner table. You never know, it may change your outlook on the work week and make feel more like a weekend.



Thursday, March 22, 2007

SIlly Frenchmen. Oak Chips are for New World Wines

So I'm cruising the pages of NY Times columnist Eric Asimov's blog, The Pour, and I come across a recent post of his. The post is in regard to an article that appeared on Decanter's website. The story, in brief, was about surge in the sales of oak wood chips to winemakers in Bordeaux - a surge of as much as 200%. Now I know you guys are sitting there saying "why the hell is he writing about wood chips?" Well, there are two interesting aspects to this...hear me out.

First, the increased sale of wood chips to Bordeaux indicates that wine makers in the "old world" are turning to techniques used in the new world, including the US. You see, traditionally, in order for wine to acquire the oak flavor, it was aged in oak barrels for anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Well, oak barrels are expensive. More importantly, the during the time it is aging to gain that oakeyness, that wine is not generating any money for the vineyard. Enter the oak wood chips. Now, following the examples of the "new world" wine producers, wood chips can be used to give that wine the oak flavor...and it can be done much faster, and much cheaper than oak barrels.

I know I still don't care. Well, how about this...despite the increase in sales, most winemakers prefer to be discreet, asking, for example, for their invoice not to reflect the purchase of wood chips. So what? Well, my point is how do you know which Pomerol or Margot is aged in oak barrels and which ones are using wood chips to manufacture the oak flavors? And, perhaps more importantly, do you as a wine drinker care? I know I do.

The second interesting aspect of this article is the fact that I was under the impression that the French had banned the use of wood chips in 2006, even though in 2005 the European Union’s decided to allow their use. It turns out that though the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine, which regulates French A.O.C. wines, had last November banned the use of wood chips. Only problem is that the ban hasn’t yet been signed into law. Ha ha ha, bureaucracy...what a shock!
As a result many winemakers refer to the EU regulation authorizing the use of wood chips post fermentation. For the moment only chips and sticks are in demand in Bordeaux, as wood powders are not authorised by the EU, and the use of staves is complicated.

Those who are against the authorized use of wood chips are said to fall into two camps, those who are already using, but don't want their neighbours to get started, and others who fear that legalising wood chips will open the flood gates to what they dub 'new world wine making practices' such as adding water, or using wood powders.

Me personally, I see it this way: If the vineyard buying the wood chips is a small, struggling farmer just trying to desperately compete and stay afloat, then I'm ok with that. However, if the large, sought-after Chateaus are the ones purchasing and using these new world techniques simply to increase profits, then I have a problem, and they have some 'splaining to do, Lucy. I just shouldn't have to worry about shortcuts and doctoring if I'm buying a bottle for $500. That's my stand on it.

So, let me ask you fine wine you care? Do you have a position on this subject? If so, I'd love to hear it. The mic is open...sound off like you've got a pair.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wine Spectator to Harness Power of the iPod

Yeah yeah, I know. You fancy shmancy commuters and techno geeks don't have the time nor desire to stop by the nearest Barnes N Noble to grab the latest issue of Wine Spectators Top 100 wines. Well apparently, Wine Spectator also realizes you're lazy, yet techo-savvy...and they want to pander to you. And get this...IT'S FREE!
Wine Spectator recently announced their Top 100 Wines of 2006 for iPod, available to download for free at Mogopop. Each year, Wine Spectator senior editors survey the wines they have reviewed over the past twelve months and select the most exciting for the Top 100. This year, using Mogopop, these Top 100 Wines have been compiled into a portable, take-it-anywhere guide for iPod, available at

While this isn't a really big deal, I think it's cool...and here's why. Imagine this: you're out at lunch with a client or reporter or whatever. It wouldn't look very cool of you to pull out a cheatsheet or magazine to help you make a wine selection. But now, you have access to the info on your favorite tech gadget, and if you pull it out during lunch to help make a selection, you don't sacrifice or impact your coolness factor. I can guarantee you that Grape Nut and I will be some of the first to download the list of top 100.

"The Top 100 Wines for iPod means iPod-carrying wine lovers can now carry a great tool that offers the expertise and guidance they expect from Wine Spectator into a restaurant or on a wine shopping trip,” said Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator.

The Top 100 Wines of 2006 for iPod works on every iPod with a screen, for both Mac and PC operating systems. The free download requires iTunes® and the free Mogopop Manager (

Well that's all for now. Remember to swirl, sniff and swig.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

India Joining the Wine Mainstream? Don’t act so surprised

When you think of India, it’s likely that the first word that comes to mind is not “wine.” In fact, I would wager that many people don’t even realize that India is a wine producing region. However, some recent news out of India seems to indicate that the country is seriously considering a move into the main stream, global wine industry. You think I’m kidding? I’m not…just consider some of the recent news coming out of India.

Realizing that Indian wine is slowly but surely catching the taste buds of the western world, the Indian ministry of food processing industries is looking at setting up a National Wine Board (NWB) to develop standards and generally promote the wine industry in the country. Globally, the wine industry is worth an astounding $15 billion, and India is nowhere in this equation. But domestically, it is growing at 30% per year as the health angle of red wine, in particular, has caught the fancy of India’s growing middle class. India now consumes 3.5 million bottles a year, which translates into a pathetic half teaspoon per head – as compared to France which consumes 60 liters, while Italy’s per capita consumption is 59 liters, Spain’s is 37 and UK’s is 24 liters.

Against this backdrop, the food processing ministry proposes to promote the wine industry, which will largely benefit the farmers and investors due to its enormous potential in both domestic and foreign markets. In fact, there is currently conversation to revise some of the laws surrounding alcohol, which would ease certain restrictions on the purchase and consumption of wine.

Also, consider the fact The University of Adelaide, Australia, will soon set up India's first wine institute in association with India's largest wine making company, Champagne Indage. University of Adelaide, regarded as one of the world's best centers of excellence for education and research in viticulture and oenology (the science of viniculture) is currently drafting the curriculum for the institute. The institute will be called The Indian Institute of Vine and Wine and will be set up on a 100 acre land. The institute will be operational by 2008. It will offer diplomas in various areas of wine making, marketing, finance and vine growing. It will also facilitate research in the field of wine making. The degree will be awarded by University of Adelaide and would not only be valid in India and Australia, but all over the world.

India seems to making moves to become a major player in the wine industry…in time of course. Given the quickly burgeoning population in India, and the vast geographic and climatic conditions available in the country, it is very possible that India may join the ranks of the other well-known wine producing countries.

You think it’s a longshot? You don’t buy into the hype? That’s ok. But just remember this article 20 years from now, when you’re serving a bottle of Indian wine to your guests at dinner.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

New Wine Making Reality Show to air on PBS

Go ahead an ask anybody who knows me, and they will tell you that I absolutely despise reality TV...especially the crap that airs on MTV and VH1. And don't even get me started on the "Real Housewives of Orange County" or "Laguna Beach." But, leave it to PBS to come up with an idea that may very well make me a big fan of reality-TV. Following in the tradition of hit series such as NBC’s “The Apprentice”, PBS’s “Frontier House” and Bravo’s “Top Chef," PBS has announced that it will air a show called "The Wine Makers."

The premier season of The Wine Makers joins twelve men and women from all walks of life, as they compete for a chance to create and launch their very own wine label. The Wine Makers began principal shooting in October 2006 and is slated to air nationwide on PBS in Fall 2007.

In six one-hour episodes The Wine Makers takes viewers behind the scenes of the most storied beverage on earth. The stakes are high as this diverse group of men and women are plunged head first into one of the world’s most uniquely challenging yet rewarding professions. The 12 contestants, chosen from an initial pool of over 600 applicants, will experience every aspect of the wine industry from viticulture and enology to sales and marketing — but only one will be chosen to create and launch a their own wine label.

Now I don't know about you, but this seems like a pretty good idea to me. Top Chef is perhaps the only reality-show I'm a fan of, so something following in that mold which focuses on the art of wine making will be quite interesting to me. Clearly, because it's airing on PBS it will likely not draw huge viewership, but I think it should be an interesting hour spent in front of the TV.

Let me know if you think this is a good idea...will you watch it?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Counterfeiting: Not just an issue for handbags, watches and cigars anymore

After reading an article written by Elin McCoy of Bloomberg, I felt I just had to write this post. The article, entitled "Wine industry fights back against counterfeiters," discusses the increasing prevalence of wine counterfeiting. While I have seen an increasing number of buyer-beware warnings on wine auction sites, I had no idea that it was such an issue. We are all accustomed to the counterfeiting of ladies handbags, expensive men's watches, and even fine Cuban fact, some of us may have even knowingly purchased these kinds of "fakes." However, wine counterfeits have become an issue of concern, and not just for collectors...the FBI has a number of pending investigations into some high-profile auction houses regarding possible wine counterfeits. Of course, thieves are not counterfeiting your everyday wine, but they are getting creative with some of the more prized bottles and vintages.

Though few in the auction houses, retailers and chateaus want to talk about the problem, it has been on the minds of winery owners as well as the French government. And they are trying to do something about it.

In May 2004, France's official printing company Imprimerie Nationale set up a commission to fight counterfeiting in every field. Its study showed counterfeits accounted for about 9 percent of the global economy. In fact, it has been said that in China and Vietnam, you find more counterfeit than authentic bottles.

Starting with the 2005 vintage, all wine bottles that travel outside France must be traceable, according to a new regulation. Meanwhile, it may become easier to determine which bottles are fakes in the future because more top chateaus are taking steps to protect the authenticity of what is in the bottle. Christian Moueix, head of Chateau Petrus and one of the first to speak out about the issue a decade ago, tackles the problem by using high-tech labels and engravings on the bottle. At Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, steps include etching the name of the estate in the glass at the bottom of the bottle.

Anyway, to read the full article, please click here. I just found it interesting that wine counterfeiting is an issue that so few are aware of. And I wanted to shed some light on the subject.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Pop the Cork: A Dinner's best friend

Hey folks. You know the old saying that no meal is complete without wine? Ok well maybe it's not an old's my saying. Well with that in mind, we are going to write about it.

Welcome to a new column I'll be writing...uh, well whenever I have wine with dinner. That should be quite often. This is a blog about wine, as evidenced by our world wine tour (which we have put on hold for a few weeks due to schedule constraints), so why not just start posting ratings on the stuff we drink at we drink it. I figure it's a great way for us to share our thoughts on a HUGE variety of wines, as well as what how we thought they complimented the meal of the night.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this new column, as both Grape Nut and I will be posting them quite frequently. Now, on with the show, but first let me set the stage for you. The meal was stir fry, teriyaki shrimp with peppers and onions. The wine, given to me by a good friend who really loves white wine, was a Sauvignon Blanc.

The Wine: Astica 2005 Sauvignon Blanc

Country: Argentina

Region: Mendoza

Vintage: 2005

Category: Sauvignon Blanc
Price: $7.99

Tasting Notes:

The Color: Very, very light straw color.

The Nose: Beautiful and fragrant. Very nice full fruit: apples (as my wife said and I quote "smells like the granny smiths I bake with"), citrus and a little honeydew melon. Wonderful floral/lavender hints.

The Taste: A wonderful explosion of light fruits and citrus right off the bat. Apple and pear flavors are really pronounced up front. Citrus lemon and orange flavors shine through in the middle, with a slight tartness. The finish is very smooth, and flavors of pear, melon and vanilla seem to linger on the tongue.

Overall, I found this wine very enjoyable. For those of you who've drank with me before, perhaps the best comparison I can give you is a Casal Garcia, without the effervescence. The fruit is very nice, but not the type of wine that tastes like coolaid. That's likely because the tartness of the citrus counteracts the sweetness of the apple and pear.

Thanks to my friend Sean for sending me this bottle. I found it to be a very nice companion to my shrimp.

The Verdict: 8 corks

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

How much does the situation improve the wine?

I've pretty much been sick for about a week now, so I haven't touched a wine yet to review. So I thought I would throw out a question/topic.

How much does the situation or atmosphere improve the wine? I was curious about this the other day and thought maybe some you might have an opinion on the subject. Here's my two cents.

I think it has a huge impact. Some of my fondest wine memories come around celebrating birthdays, promotions, or just an amazing date. Your mood is perfect, everyone your with is usually genuinely happy to be there and feel as if nothing can bring you down at that point. Even that mediocre pinot noir you were drinking.

Thinking back, I'm sure more than a few readers of this page can relate to drinking wines like Yellow Tail, Neonado, Casal Garcia, and others on the stoop of a brownstone and having a blast. That wine probably tasted as good as any fine bottle as the sun would set behind the Statue of Liberty. (I think I may be jones'in for the spring time here)

I also think that it can go the other way. I've been in nice restaurants, take a recommendation for a wine and find my self scrutinizing the wine to the point were I might dislike the wine. Not sure if it's the setting or if it's the fact I'm paying a 200% increase or more on the bottle.

So does anyone else have a story about this? Maybe some you disliked gave you a good bottle, but it was from that person and it ruined for you. Ever drink a $5 bottle and have just fond memories of that bottle. Or am I full of crap and the real wine drinker can separate themselves from the atmosphere and judge the wine accordingly.

Let's here it!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Obsessive Compulsive Wine Drinking? Don't laugh, it happens.

Hey kids. It's been a while since my last post. Things have been a little crazy lately, and I apologize for the lack of content. I wanted to get a flavor for what y'all have been drinking lately. Me personally, I find I go through periods where I consistently want to drink the same type of wine over and over...until of course I get sick of it and don't want to drink it for another 2 months. Does this happen to you? Don't be alarmed, it happens to many wine drinkers.

In fact, I believe my wife is in the middle of a Brunello phase, and Grape Nut was telling me the other night that he is on a Baby Brunello binge. My dad is in a Leaping Lizard Cabernet craze...a wine I introduced him to, and one that I think makes a fine everyday wine. So what is it exactly? Are we no better than heroin addicts? Am I a drug pusher for inflicting this obsessive behavior on my dad? Well I say hello NO! It happens...when something gives you pleasure, you tend to repeat the activity. It's basic human nature...much like sexy time.

Anyway, I am deep in the throws of a Pinot Noir fad. It's interesting, because I've never been a particularly big fan of Pinot. But right now, I am really enjoying it. It all started several weeks back, when my wife and I enjoyed a bottle of Pinot at a local restaurant. So much so that I went out and bought 6 bottles of that particular bottle (Pessagno Central Avenue Pinot Noir 2005, from California) and 6 other randomly selected bottles...most of which are now gone. Ok, stop looking at me like I'm a wino.

So, I've aired my dirty laundry and told you what I've been obsessing over, now it's your turn to spill the beans. Is there a particular variety of wine you're enjoying right now that you can't seem to transition from? C'mon, don't be shy. I promise I won't make fun of you...even if it is Franzia White Zinfandel.

Think of it this way...the info you provide will be helpful for when Grape Nut and I decide to organize a wine tasting. Something we have discussed by the way.

The microphone is open, so sound off!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Wine Bar Review - Wined Up

I've been sick this past week, so I've been unable to taste any new Oregon Wines. But, in order to give our devoted readers something and to change it up a little, I thought I would review a wine bar a visited last week.

I visited a new wine bar called Wined Up (located at 913 Broadway) last week for a few after work drinks with a good buddy. I was impressed with the location and space, but unimpressed with how hard it was to find. Located above Punch, I must have walked past the place three times. I spoke with the manager there and she said that it was done intentionally at first, but they're thinking of adding signage out front.

The wine selection was pretty good, arranged by body and style of wine, lighter to heavier with a whole range of price options. Our bartender steered us towards a great half-bottle of D Cubed Zinfandel. We also chose to have bottles of Joel Gott 2005 Zinfandel and a bottle of 2003 Rosso di Montalcino by Pietroso. As you can imagine, the end of the night is a little fuzzy. I think we had a glass after that, but whats the point of even mentioning it.

We also ordered plates of cured and dried meats and the Chef's Selection of cheeses. The prices are more than reasonable for a NYC wine bar and we where impressed with the selections of cheeses. I found the LaTure to be the best.

Overall, I would suggest this wine bar. It's beginner friendly, but with enough knowledge and know how to impress the veterans.

Wined Up
913 Broadway (Cross Street: Between 20th Street and 21st Street)
New York, NY 10010
(212) 673-6333

Verdict: 9 Corks or Highly Recommended

Taste of Oregon: Ratings #2 and 3

Hi folks. Yes, I know I've been slacking this week, but this little thing called my job keeps interfering with my ability to drink wine. Anyway here are two ratings, since we missed one yesterday. Both of these are wines that I've enjoyed while out at dinner recently with my wife.

Rating #2:

The Wine: Adelsheim Pinot Noir 2005
Country: USA
Region: Oregon, Willamette Valley
Category: Pinot Noir
Price: $22.99 retail ($36 in restaurant)
Decanted or Not: No

Tasting notes:
Color: Deep Ruby
The Nose: Surprisingly powerful for an Oregon Pinot. Big notes of dark ripe fruit and oak. Little spice/cinnamon.
Taste: Very open with nice plum, cherry and pepper flavors. Wonderful silky mouthfeel, with a nice long finish. Flavors of cinnamon and pepper on the finish seem to linger quite a while. I enjoyed this wine with a very hearty chicken parmesan dish at Rosies Trattoria in Randolph. It was a very nice pairing in my opinion. The wine was excellent, with lots of flavor and packed a bit of a punch.

The Verdict: 8 corks

Rating #3:

The Wine: Amavi Cellars 2003 Syrah
The Country: USA
The Region: Oregon, Walla Walla Valley
Category: Syrah
Vintage: 2003
Price: $20.99

Decanted or not: No

Tasting Notes:
Color: Dark Red
Nose: Very sweet smelling. Intense fruit and cinnamon. Light oak and earth.
Taste: Pretty straight forward. Fruit and spices from the get go...plum, blueberry, cinnamon and vanilla flavors persist. The mid-palate is relatively uneventful as the fruits and spices carry over, but are complimented by leather and pepper flavors. The finish is surprisingly tannic, but smooth, and ends with sweet notes in the aftertaste. Overall I liked it, but wasn't crazy about it. The fruit and sweetness seemed to carry through the whole thing, making it difficult to detect any other complexities in the wine. This wine was enjoyed with a whole roasted chicken seasoned with garlic, onion powder, paprika, pepper and salt. Perhaps it was a poor selection to serve with dinner that night, but i still enjoyed it.
The verdict: 7 corks