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  1. WineMiles

    Wine and Cheese

    My wife took me to La Toque in Rutherford for my birthday dinner. It was a surprise and if I'd known where we were going I wouldn't have bothered to bring my own wine. For an additional $50 buck you can have a specially selected wine with each course. Next time I'll try that. I brought along an '86 BV la’tour and it was wonderful and worked with everything that I ordered. Before the desert course they offered an optional cheese course. All cheeses I'd never heard of. We selected the Mimolette and its caramel after taste seemed to go nicely with the Cab I brought. A few weeks later I found the Mimolette at Dean and Delucca in St. Helena. I've now tasted it with Cab, Zin and a great little Bordeaux from Ramian Estate. I was just wondering what was everyone's favorite wine and cheese pairing? I’ve got to get back to Dean and Delucca’s for more Mimolette…
  2. WineMiles

    Wine and Chocolate

    Did I forget to mention that the S.F. Chocolate Factory pairings are dark chocolate? They are in small bite size drops.
  3. I've tasted quite a few wines from the current release. For the price they are pretty darn good. I couldn't stand the Menage a Trois white. But found the red version to be rather nice and the Zinfandels from the Sierra foothills are equal to some of the better examples from that region. It is unfortunate that another small winery is being gobbled up by one of the many faceless, heartless corporate juggernaut holding companies that call themselves wineries.
  4. Depending on the age at the time of drinking, I would expect something like an '89 Haut Brion's finish to continue for an extended period of time. However, if your frame of referrence is current release Zinfandels, then the finish on this wine begins to stand out much more. I'll try to remember to include those items of reference in my next tasting note.
  5. I would define aftertaste and finish as meaning the same thing. Another term used pretty often is back end. Also I miss stated the after taste duration. What I meant was, the aftertaste didn't begin until 10-15 seconds after putting down the glass. Sorry about that. It was my first Tasting Note.
  6. Pairing chocolates with desert wines is nothing new. And most restaurants bring the flavors of wine, blackberry, raspberry and coffee into their chocolate deserts as well. San Francisco Chocolate Factory has taken this one step further. Most people know that Zinfandel wines go great with Dark Chocolate. Now there is a chocolate formulated specifically for pairing with all the major California red wine varietals. San Francisco Chocolate Factory has six dark chocolate products that can be paired with Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Zinfandel, Port and Cabernet Sauvignon. Recently, I had the good fortune to taste all the chocolates with their respective varietals. I wasn’t too thrilled with the Pinot Noir blend. The chocolate really overpowered the Alder Brook Pinot Noir I was having. The other varietals paired nicely with their chocolate counterpart, providing an excellent balance of flavors between the chocolate and the wine. So that your wine isn’t overpowered by the chocolate, I would recommend drinking wines that represent the most flavorful of their respective varietals. San Francisco Chocolate Factory varies the % of Cocoa in their quest for the perfect pairing. 54% Cocoa for Port, 55% for Cabernet, 56% for Pinot Noir, 58% for Merlot, 61% for Syrah and a whopping 72% for Zinfandel. The ZAP (Zinfandel, Advocates and Producers) festival in S.F. offers chocolates to the attendees along with bread and cheese. So I think the link between Zinfandel and chocolate is pretty strong. Has anyone else had a positive chocolate and wine pairing experience? What kinds of chocolate do you like with your wine?
  7. For an incredible Zinfandel, try the Davis Family Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel. Guy Davis purchased some property in Sebastapool for his home. On the property was a 20 acre 107 year old vineyard. It was in terrible condition. Overgrown with weeds and untended for many years. Guy was able to salvage 4 acres of of Zinfandel vines. He uses these vines exclusively in his Old Vine Zinfandel. I haven't tasted anything like it. The after taste is what really blows you away. The after taste of most wines is gone by the time your glass hits the table. Not so with Guy Davis' wines. The Old Vine Zin's after taste didn't even begin until 10-15 seconds after I'd swallowed. A major concentration of flavors. There is all this great brown spice character brought up from the old vine roots. Blackberry and cherry flavors followed by black pepper and cumin on the back end. If you can find it, buy it! They've sold out the last two years in a row.
  8. All that buttery taste/mouth feel comes as a direct result of Malolactic Fermentation. Just about every single winery in California is producing their Chardonnay in this way now. I do know of one Winery that bottles an "Old School" Chardonnay from Russian River Valley grapes that has no malolactic fermentation and no Oak aging. Chateau Felice's 'Acier', the end result is very nice in contrast to the butter balls coming out of everywhere else. Check them out in the Chalk Hill appellation of Sonoma County. They also produce two Chardonnays with malo and oak, one from their Chalk hill estate and the other from the Russian River Valley.
  9. Since your looking for something drinkable this year, I'd stick to Zinfandels, Pinot Noirs, Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah for domestic reds. There are some really great deals on Zinfandels, Merlots and Sangiovese out there. Your local TJ's should have Luna Merlot and Sangiovese. If not, check out your local Costco. If you strike out at both of those, check online. There is a whole lot of inexpensive Zinfandel out there. I'd suggest trying single bottles of a few and then go get a case of the one you like. Perry Creek's Zin Man should be available under $8. We carry a Contra Costa County winery called Viano. Their Lodi Zinfandel is good and inexpensive under $9. In whites, I've tasted some really nice Sauvignon Blancs lately. The Kunde Magnolia Lane should be available for under $10 in a store near you. It has great tropical fruit flavors and should be very refreshing chilled on a hot Arizona summer evening. Luna and Seghesio's Pinot Gris are really good too. Under $16 at most places. If you have trouble finding them locally, check out some of the online stores.
  10. Found it! Drago's is the place. You'll need at least one dozen per person. They are that good! Check out this link: http://www.americascuisine.com/neworleans/dragosmenu.html
  11. April is the best. Crawfish are in-season, the weather is decent and if timed correctly, you can check out the Jazz Festival too. Jazz fest has your typical for Louisiana fair food. Gator on a stick, Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, bbq shrimp, etc. The music is pretty cool. I spent a good amount of time in the Gospel music tent. There will typically be many artists performing throughout the festival. Check out: http://www.nojazzfest.com/ for more info. When it comes to restaurant food. Don't worry about the spicy heat. There are plenty of items on every menu that are not hot and spicy. Most people tend to go to one of Emiril's high end joints. Skip them and go to his locals secret restaurant called NOLA. Excellent food and service. My wife and I always go to Brennan's for breakfast at least once during our freequent trips to N'awlins. There is a great Charbrolied oyster place in Metarie. I can't remember the name. If I do I'll post it.
  12. If you can swing a trip to Sonoma County, Kunde winery is on Hwy 12 near Kenwood. About 30 minutes from Napa. Their current 2001 Chardonnay was picked by Bon Appetite as a top 10 for April. You should be able to pick it up for under $12 a bottle at a local retailer. It is very buttery. If you get to the winery, the tour is nice and the their shop has some nice gourmet items too. Another one to check out is Vine Cliff Winery on Silverado Trail. The sign at the gate says by appointment only. Don't worry, just use the call box and they'll give you an immediate appt. Their Napa Valley Chardonnay is wonderful. Produced from grapes grown at Vine Cliff's estate vineyards and Clos Pegas' Carneros Vineyards. If you are already on Silverado Trail, Pine Ridge is another winery that produces a really nice Chardonnay. Their 2002 Dijon-Clones Carneros Chardonnay is great and can be cellared for up to 5 years. This is our best selling Chardonnay. You should be able to find it for less than $20. Each of the these three wineries also produce wonderful red wines. The Vine Cliff Cabernets are very nice. Their Napa Valley Cab is medium priced and a vary good value. Their Oakville cab is spendy but well worth it. The Pine Ridge Rutherford Cabernet has flavors of sweet dried currant, milk chocolate, vanilla, cherry, blackberry, black olive and a hint of black pepper are revealed in the nose. The price on this is under $30. Hope this helps.
  13. WineMiles

    budget wine shopping

    Check out www.winemiles.com We have a great selection of wines right in your price range. The Artesa Pinot Noir from 3 different appelations. Carneros, Russian River Valley and Santa Barbara are all superb. All three of these appelations are producing excellent Pinot Noir and the Artesa is not only one of my favorites but one of our best selling wines at $14.89 each. If you look around, you'll have a hard time finding it for under $25. If you'd like to try something completely different, check out the Chateau Felice Acier Chardonnay. Produced entirely from Russian River Valley estate vineyards, the winemaker uses no Oak aging and no Malolactic fermentation. In addition, it is whole-cluster pressed and fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Don't pay more than $14 for it. For an incredible Zinfandel, try the Davis Family Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel. Guy Davis purchased some property in Sebastapool for his home. On the property was a 20 acre 107 year old vineyard. It was in terrible condition. Overgrown with weeds and untended for many years. Guy was able to salvage 4 acres of of Zinfandel vines. He uses these vines exclusively in his Old Vine Zinfandel. I haven't tasted anything like it. The after taste is what really blows you away. The after taste of most wines is gone by the time your glass hits the table. Not so with Guy Davis' wines. The Old Vine Zin's after taste will continue 10-15 seconds after you've swallowed. They sell out every year and we've got less than 2 cases until the next release in the fall. This one is probably out of your price range but at $22.29 it is well worth a try. The Zinfandels coming out the Sierra foothills are really something to try too. Folie a Deux makes a nice Amador County Zinfandel that is reasonably priced and very good. For a current trend Chardonnay, (oak aging, malolactic fermentation) look around for the Kunde 2001 Sonoma Valley Chardonnay. Bon Appetite put it in their top 10 for April. Aromas of Granny Smith apples and spicy herbs. This full-bodied, Chardonnay boasts flavors of apple, pears and melon, with a buttery finish. Don't pay more than $11.50
  14. Interesting... I've tried shakers on a number of occassions and I really didn't care for it. I much prefer Charbay or Hangar One as far a domestics go.
  15. In Jamaica, they use pimento wood to BBQ their Jerked meats. Pimento is the tree that Allspice comes from. I've yet to find a reliable source for Pimento wood in the states. Notice I said BBQ and NOT grill. They do use a direct heat method. But the meat is usually a pretty good distance from the coals. About 250-300 degrees inside the chamber. Also, traditionally, the meat is wrapped in banana leaves before going on the heat. On the island you'll see jerk chicken predominately. However, the jerk pork steak is to die for. Finding that cut at the supermarket can be a little challenging though.
  16. One of the hottest dishes I've ever had was Jamaican Jerk Chicken. Jerk sauce is typically made with scotch bonnets (Habeneros). A few years back some friends and myself decided to participate in a local cooking competition in Napa. It is called "Valley Men Who Cook". It is open to amateur cooks from all over the area and is usually held at the CIA's Greystone facility in St. Helena. The first year, we made Jerk drumettes. Drumettes worked because we had to supply up to 300 individual servings. 300 drumettes and about 50 habaneros in the sauce. For those that thought is wasn't hot enough, we provided a number of bottled hot sauces for their use, including Dave's insanity. I never use the stuff myself, but, one of team mates thinks it is great. That year the judging was done by notable Napa Valley women. One of them being Margrit Mondavi. One of my team mates isn't exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. When Margrit came to our table he was the only there and he dumped a bunch of Dave's Insanity on Margrit's drumette. I could see the steam blowing from her ears from across the room. I'm quite sure her palate was ruined for the remainder of the day. Needless to say, we didn't win. For killing the heat in your mouth, beverages are the worst thing you use. All they do is spread the heat over your mouth even more. Rice, Bread or, in the case of a mexican restaurant, Tortilla chips seem to be the best. The absorbitive qualities help to wick the heat out of your mouth. If you are on Atkins, your screwed. Just feed the fire.
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