A Tribe Called Quest – Scenario

The ultimate posse video. Busta Rhymes used to be thin – – – and talented. I was roaming around the Upper East Side with my Sony walkman and rocking this song over and over again. A classic and maybe the greatest hip-hop video of all time. Love the Macintosh effect.

A Fab Cab

No formal review today, just a quicky wine suggestion.  On our recent vacation, we stopped overnight in Roanoke, Virginia on our way home in order to break up the 9 hour drive.  We ate at Le Bistro, a fabulous little restaurant in downtown Roanoke, choosing to do the Chef’s Tasting Menu.  One of the wines was the 2006 Annabella Napa Valley Cabernet.  The Annabella retails for as low as $11 on the internet and you should get some.  It is hands down the best sub-$20 Cab I’ve had, and it hails from Napa!!  I recall it being elegant and refined, this was not a knock you down and kick you while you’re on the ground Cab.
I had to learn more about it after we got back, and discovered that Annabella is a line from Michael Pozzan.  Supposedly the wines are limited production and allocated?  But 27,000 cases were made of the 2006 Cab and I see it is easily available on the internet, so scoop it up and enjoy this gem.

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Napa, Red, Wine

Domaine Manoir du Carra 2006 ~ Beaujolais-Villages

Domaine Manoir du Carra 2006 ~ Beaujolais-Villages

Domaine Manoir du Carra 2006 ~ Beaujolais-Villages

This is a rather thin and lacking wine. The are pleasant enough fruits notes at the very start but they vanish after just a second leaving behind a tartish acid note in the middle. It is drinkable but I would suggest chilling it for a summer wine. Once it gets passed about 14c/57f it is not that nice.

Cost = €4.95
100% Gamay
Produced by Domaine Manoir du Carra (http://www.manoir-du-carra.com) Jean-Noël Sambardier et Fils 69640 Denicé Tel . +33 (0) 4 74 67 38 24 – Fax. +33(0) 4 74 67 40 61

© http://wine.the-world-in-focus.com

Pairings: Time and Place

Estate The joy of finding just the right pairing has come to me mainly in the form of epiphanies. There I am and all of a sudden, without realizing it was coming down the pike, I realize that I are staring a remarkable pairing right in the face.

I had just such an epiphany today.

As I said, I never see these things coming primarily because I simply don’t give that much thought to wine and food pairings. I shouldn’t admit this. It’s a bit like someone in the publishing business not noticing which new titles are in the top 100 at Amazon.com. I should be paying more attention to these things.

Sometimes you need to be jarred out of complacency.

Tonight at Estate Restaurant in Sonoma I had a beautiful plate of fried chicken livers that were light and and pink and purely chicken livery paired with a beautifully nervous and dark house sangiovese that Estate is now serving. The combination was perfect in every respect.

But it made me think about pairings in general: food and wine, time and places, he and her. None are actually perfect. None are inevitable. None are static. None are obvious. None are objectively good. They seem to emerge out of nowhere and may appeal to one person or a group and not to another. This is what makes a good pairing so special.

There may have been chemical reasons that the Estate chicken livers and Sangiovese paired well together. But what’s certain is that they paired well for me because of the mood and disposition that I took with me to the restaurant and the moment. And isn’t this the case with every pairing we find epiphanies in? Isn’t it true that we believe Paris and our youth are the perfect pairing because that’s when you were there. Isn’t it true that we could have had no idea how good a pair we and she would be until we actually looked at her in that way?

In the end, I think what we do with these great pairings is the most interesting thing. In the end, I think they must act as inspiration for us to be truly meaningful. How I might be inspired by and what I might be inspired to do by she and I, Paris and my youth or Chicken Livers and Sangiovese will define the epiphany.

TN : Merlot delle Venezie 2006, IGT, Zenato, Italy

This wine is 100% Merlot. The grapes are planted on benchland and hillside areas in the province of Verona. The aspect of the vineyards is south and southeast and are at an average altitude of 150 to 200 metres. The vineyard soils are sandy and clayey. The vines are spur-trained and cordon pruned. The planting density is 4000 vines per hectare. The yield per hectare is 10 metric tons. The grapes were manually harvested between mid to late September.

Grapes are sorted using cluster quality selection, crushing-destemming, and then the fruit is given a 5- to 6-day maceration on the skins in steel fermenters. After fermentation, the wine is pressed off and the press wine set aside. Upon completion of malolactic fermentation, maturation follows in 300-litre French oak, then bottle-aged for 6 months before release.

Colour : Dark red

Aroma : Plums, cherries, spice, dark fruits

Taste : Plums, cherries, fruity, spice, dark fruits, pencil-lead like finish, tobacco

Alcohol : 13.5%

Price : 129 SEK

Mark : B

Website : Zenato

Vinography Images: Morning Dew


Morning Dew
It often comes as a surprise to most people that I happen to have a degree in fine art photography. I absolutely adore the medium, and this picture is a great example of why. We move through our daily existences that involve the processing of an incredible amount of visual data. We see beautiful details like this every few seconds of our waking lives. But only photography, with its ability to silently solidify our vision and force us to see again, can really harness this beauty for our appreciation. For as much as we see things like this, we never see them quite as the camera does. — Alder Yarrow

Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting “save link as” or “save target as” and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops.

To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these.

If you are interested in owning an archive quality, limited edition print of this image please contact photographer Andy Katz through his web site.

Vinography regularly features images by photographer Andy Katz for readers’ personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images.

Alice is Reading in Brooklyn, July 20th

Hey, I’ll be at the Franklin Park Reading Series. First Brooklyn event ever! I will be reading from the book and perhaps, a little something about a non-wine drinking rat. Other writers are great. Please come and say hello. July 20, 8PM Erin Einhorn (The Pages In Between) Alice Feiring (The Battle for Wine and Love) Teddy Wayne (Kapitoil) Alyssa Pinsker (Time Out, Moth Storyteller) Check the website for instructions FRANKLIN PARK INFO…

Woodinville Wine Notes Wednesday

Be prepared for Woodinville’s wonderful wines to wow you at Wine Notes Wednesday on July 15. Or as Woodinville Wine Country puts it, “Wine Notes Wednesday will provide you with the perfect opportunity to wine down your Wednesday and to identify wineries that you will want to visit throughout the summer.”

The event will be held at Columbia Winery from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. In addition to fine wine from more than 20 wineries, Wine Notes features music from Nice Legs, the house band from Page Cellars.

The band’s name relates to wine legs –the streaks that form on a wine glass when the wine is swirled. We’ve enjoyed tunes from Nice Legs many times at Page Cellars – the son of Page owners Rothelle and Jim, Brett Cummings, plays a mean saxaphone.

Reserve your Wine Notes tickets online for $30 or $40 (cash only) at the door.


Sometimes “Big” is Better

In “Big,” the Tom Hanks movie from the late 80’s, the adolescent main character wishes “to be big” and overnight, via a magic wish machine, he is physically aged from adolescence to adulthood.

The movie can offer numerous parallels to the wine world – particularly when a winery grows into a maturity of acclaim that belies its physical age.

And, of course, in terms of the juice in the bottle, the word “big” is an adjective that is no stranger to the world of wine.

Both analogized aspects of “big” fit Caliza Winery.

Caliza, the Spanish word for “limestone,” is a small (1000 cases), upstart winery on Anderson Road in Paso Robles, an area akin to Hwy. 29 in Napa.  In his first year of wine production, using grapes from neighbors, Carl Bowker’s labor of love and second career after 25 years in another industry has made it “big.”

Using grapes from (amongst others) Erich Russell, a So Cal expat from Sonoma, doing well with his winery Rabbit Ridge, Caliza has hit the equivalent of an extra innings walk-off grand slam – the winery won “Best of Class” and “Best Red Wine” at the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition for their Syrah and, more importantly, Robert Parker, Jr. has scored each of their first three varietals at least 90+ points, a feat that puts them on the wine watch list, particularly as their own Rhone varietal-oriented vineyard rounds into form.

To say the least, it’s an auspicious beginning.

And, given this acclaim out of the gate, it makes sense why the demure Bowker politely opted not to do my cheeky 20 questions interview – preferring to keep potential conversation to the wine and not what book is on his nightstand.

Who can blame him?

In focusing on the wine, make no mistake, in addition to this impressively “big” beginning, as mentioned, these are “big” wines, as well – almost an archetype for the style of wines that cause Parker-bashers and competition detractors to rub their hands together in an evil, empirical opinion glee, as if to say, “I told you that big, extracted wine style appeals to Parker and wine judges by dint of blunt force.”

That’s a perspective, surely, but I tend to look at the positive in all situations – the notion that an outsider can come into Paso, make friends with the neighbors, score quality grapes, impress with a level of quality, and go on to win such accolades so early, is a heroic story fit for broad recognition.

As Carl Bowker said in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, “We never in our wildest imaginations expected this.  I was literally blown away.”

For New World wine lovers, these “big” wines will blow you away, too.


DCs Wine Country Food and Wine Festival

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but if you are looking for something to do either tonite or tomorrow night, you might want to check out the first ever DC’s Wine Country Food and Wine Festival, a festival dedicated strictly to Loudoun County wineries and restaurants.Tickets are only $30 at the door, and it looks to be a lot of fun!

Two top South African reds

I’ve neglected South Africa of late. I’m sorry. It’s just that in so many of their red wines I get this South African signature that I don’t really like: it’s a sort of earthy, green, slightly bitter character that gets in the way of the fruit. These are warm-climate wines, yet they don’t have the sweetness and purity of fruit you might expect…

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Hardy’s Varietal Range Chardonnay 2007

It is all too easy to be sniffy about the major wine brands when you’ve had your nose in the books of Parker and Robinson.  But have you tried anything from Chilean producer Concha y Toro lately?  Or the sub brands Cono Sur and Casillero del Diablo?  Interesting stuff and generally high quality, but in the UK, I remember the Australians as being first in the queue to bring wine to the proletariat via supermarket and pub alike.

Aside from the ubiquitous Jacob’s Creek, I recall Hardy’s as being a brand leader. So when my neighbour, Peter, brought a bottle of Varietal Range Chardonnay round to my barbie, I was first insulted, then dismissive and finally intrigued.  Obviously, in Peter’s presence I sniffed at it, parked it in the corner and turned to open a bottle of something exclusive and French (albeit cheap and ropey).

Hardly Chardonnay...

Curiosity got the better of me this evening and I opened the bottle.

In both smell and taste it whacks you in the face with a bunch of exotic fruits – mango, papaya, pineapple and guava.  In that sense it is not particularly complex.  Serious winos might allege that it is one-dimensional but as John Holmes discovered, there is nothing wrong with possessing only one dimension as long as you make that one count in spades…

Time to drop the major brand prejudice and simply focus on whether or not you enjoy the wine, eh?

You can get this at most supermarkets for just over a fiver.

Countdown to Catavino’s 10 Day USA Tour – WBC Meets EWBC

aldeaIn exactly 10 days, we will be heading to New York City, followed by San Francisco and back to NYC for a 10 day immersion into the American wine blog culture. What does this mean? Having lived and breathed Europe for the past 5 years, we’ve only met less than a dozen American wine bloggers, despite the fact that we are not only American bloggers, but that Catavino is aimed primarily to the American market. Yet, our conversations and meetings have remained in the virtual world, far from a handshake, the sound of someone’s laughter or the experience of sharing physical space. Consequently, we’ve decided to change this, heading west as a result of the generous sponsorship of the EWBC by Viniportugal.

Viniportugal, the generic body for wines of Portugal, is one of the main sponsors of the 2009 European Wine Blogger’s Conference held this October in Lisbon, Portugal, and has offered to bring Catavino to the USA to co-host two Portuguese wine tastings. The first tasting will take place in NYC at the new Portuguese restaurant called, Aldea, on July 22nd, where we will taste approximately a dozen wines, including (this is not a complete list and the wines and vintages are subject to change):

  • Vallado Douro Red 2007
  • Malhadinha Nova Monte da Peceguina 2007
  • Cortes de Cima Incognito (vintage TBD)
  • Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde (vintage TBD)
  • Crasto Douro Red (vintage TBD)
  • Broadbent Vinho Verde (vintage TBD)
  • Quevedo Vintage Port 2005
  • Evel Grande Reserva Red, Douro, 2005
  • Tinto da Ânfora Red, Alentejo, 2006

winebloggers-logo_square-jmvCome the crack of dawn the following morning, we jump on a plane and head west. And by this point, if we’re not hooked up to IVs running freely with extra strength espresso, I’ll be totally shocked. Between the jet lag coming from BCN to NYC, late nights, and then another 6 hour flight, setting our internal timetable back 9 hours, I have no doubt we would be walking zombies if it wasn’t for the famed El Jefe Gathering.

Fortunately, our exhaustion will be set aside upon arrival to SFO, when we jump into the car with Megan Kenney of Wannabe Wino and Thea Dwelle of Luscious Lushes and head to Twisted Oak winery to meet the legendary El Jefe. Here, we’ll finally meet the man behind TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society), tour his winery, and potentially, have a long and leisurely barbecue.

The following morning, July 24th, we head to the Flamingo Resort where we will be attending the American Wine Bloggers Conference, where we co-host our second Portuguese wine tasting with Viniportugal. On Saturday, July 25th, at 9pm we’ll uncork 3 dozen Portuguese wines at the Flamingo Resort. Admittedly, we did not choose these wines, but we can happily say that many of them are our favorites. All of the wines poured are available in the USA, and a handful of them will have someone from the winery present to answer any questions you may have. The wines selected are (wines and vintages are subject to change):

  • Adega Coop. Borba Reserva 2005 (The Cork Label)
  • Adega Cooperativa de Borba Reserva 2004
  • Adega Cooperativa de Monção Fuzelo 2008
  • Sogrape Vinhos Broadbent Vinho Verde NV
  • CARM Red 2006
  • Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande 2002
  • Quinta do Casal Branco 2007
  • Casal Branco Terra de Lobos 2006
  • Casal Branco Quartilho Branco 2007
  • Casal Branco Quartilho Tinto 2006
  • Cortes de Cima Chaminé 2008
  • Cortes de Cima Reserva 2004 Cortes de Cima
  • Dona Maria 2006
  • Cabriz Colheita Selectionada 2006
  • Herdade do Esporão Red Reserva 2005
  • Herdade do Esporao White Reserva 2008
  • JP Ramos Marques de Borba 2007
  • Niepoort Twisted 2007
  • Quevedo Vintage Port 2005
  • Quevedo Vintage Port 2007
  • Quinta da Aveleda 2008
  • Quinta do Noval 10 y o Tawny NV
  • Quinta do Noval LBV Unfilt. 2003
  • Quinta do Vallado 2007
  • Quinta do Vallado 2006
  • Quinta Vale D. Maria 2006
  • Van Zellers 2006
  • Quinta de São Simão da Aguieira 2007
  • Quinta da Soalheira 2007
  • Sogevinus Veedha 2007
  • Callabriga Alentejo Red 2006
  • Callabriga Dão Red 2007
  • Callabriga Douro Red 2006
  • Quinta de Azevedo 2008
  • Quinta dos Carvalhais Touriga Nacional 2000
  • Quinta de Roriz Prazo de Roriz 2006
  • Grahams Six Grapes NV
  • Dows Vale do Bomfim 2006
  • Vinhos da Cavaca Dourada Mouchão 2003

The other great aspect of coming to both NYC and CA is that we have several incredible announcements for the USA food and wine bloggers! Free trips? Exciting opportunities? You’ll just have to wait to see.

In the meantime, if you have any questions for us, or are interested in meeting with us while we are in your neck of the woods, please drop us an email. As of now, we are not sure of our phone set up while in the States, but when we do know, we’ll be sure to pass that number onto everyone! Our hope is that we’ll meet many of the faces behind the blogs,  make some new friends, and without a doubt, drink plenty of good wine.


Gabriella and Ryan Opaz

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