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  1. Just for the heck of it, here's the second write-up I did on the second short day I took in Franschhoek. I'll link to it rather than post it here because I'm not sure that links and photos will post up correctly here. http://www.clapboard.org/forum/chatterbox/993-wineries#1006 Anyway, hope it's enjoyable and maybe helps out in someone's future South African winery plans.
  2. I've been told that Stellensbosch is the bees' knees - I didn't get to visit, but if becoming shark bait falls through on Wednesday, I'll head out there post haste. I *loved* Franschhoek, though.
  3. I'll be all over Europe for a couple months immediately after doing Cape Town and Joburg back to back. I won't have much time for wine, unfortunately, but hopefully I can sneak in a day or two somewhere interesting and tasty.
  4. ...anyone want to suggest a winery to visit? That's not the real reason for my post - I figured that South Africa is off the beaten path for most of us (at least it is for me!), so some notes on my experiences might be appreciated here. I'd post pictures, but somehow my Mac hates my new camera's 64gb SC card, so until I make them play nice, I'm stuck with words. The quick backstory on my trip is that I'm here for work, but I managed to sneak in three days early, so I wanted to experience a new wine region. My day yesterday went like this: land from my LAX-LHR-CPT marathon flights, check into the crew hotel in Cape Town, walk to Hertz up the street, grab my little car and head west. Franschhoek is about an hour east of Cape Town on the N1 and the R45. Its center is a cute little town bursting with restaurants and shops - it actually reminds me a little of Solvang, CA, if you can imagine it with all the Danish stuff removed. And with the cars driving on the other side of the street. Stony Brook Vineyards I loved their Sauvignon Blanc somehow. Maybe because it was my first wine of the day, but I thought it was fab. Also loved their Ghost Gum Cab. Way overpriced compared to everything else I tasted today, but I liked it, so I bought it. The price bump comes because their 2006 vintage was one of 2 South African wines to receive 5 stars from somewhere. Wish I remembered where. Also, on a non-wine note, I did my tastings with a group of French ex-pats visiting from their temporary home on Madagascar. Whoa. Boekenhoutskloof I clearly had to copy/paste that name. Too dutch for me. They do three labels, Wolftrap, Porcupine Ridge, and their eponymous label, Boekenhoutskloof. Apparently, their Chocolate Block is a one-off label that has wide(ish?) disto in the US. So maybe 4 labels. Their Boekenhoutskloof label is all single-vineyard varietals (and a blend of singles, I believe), only available through the club because they sell out immediately. That's not 100% true, actually, because they sell a mixed case (4 each of Cab, Syrah and Semillion) for ZAR4000. Seems high for wines I can't even taste. I did like the cab, but I definitely didn't like it enough more than the Porcupine Ridge Cab to risk a bunch of Rand on a mixed case. Mont Rochelle and the Country Kitchen I had lunch here, too, which was a great choice. They did a great, sweet, local take on a caprese and a yellowtail filet from the skillet that was almost perfect. It was today's "linefish" which seemed to mean "catch of the day" - yay for learning new cultures! I risked trying a rosé here, which wasn't a mistake, but wasn't very good, either. I feel like there are interesting, talented winemakers (at least in California) doing interesting, wonderful takes on rosé these days (Bouchaine's Rosé of Syrah comes to mind), but that trend didn't extend here. I did like the Cab and the Syrah at Mont Rochelle, however, and i loved my dining experience - the view was great, the pace was relaxed, and the service was friendly. Anyway, day 1 down.
  5. flicman

    Thanksgiving Day Wines

    I love this thread (and others like it) because it goes to show the ephemeral nature of wine and the ways our tastes and opinions matter to the final outcome. I'm cooking my (now-traditional) LA-Orphans' thanksgiving dinner this year for 22 and will be providing the first glass or two of wine. After that, guest contributions will take over and they'll be drinking whatever pleases them most. None of my friends and guests are "wine folk" for whatever it's worth, but I do want to take the opportunity to make a pairing that everyone can try. With that in mind, I think I'm going to break out a half-dozen or so bottles of Bouchaine's Carneros Pinot Noir because it's a pretty good pinot from a winemaker whose wines and vineyard I like. I don't really have any insights beyond "Umm, I think it'll pair well with my roasted turkey and scalloped potatoes" but what can you do. Happy Thanksgiving!
  6. Cline & Cheese - excellent! I'm adding them to the list. Thanks! And I've been to the area in the fall before - I just consider myself lucky to be able to get there during the week rather than exclusively over the weekend.
  7. Thanks for the input, Richard. I'm putting Kaz on my list, as well as a couple of things I've read on the Facebook group - that's a great resource. I, too, love the Carneros for both the location and for the pinot, and will be heading back there to visit Bouchaine again and probably one or two others that I've overlooked on past visits. I'll be there Sunday through Wednesday, so I'm looking forward to a slower-paced midweek trip this time, too. I'm going to try to be good/better about tasting notes and impressions, too, because I want to remember the wines better for longer. I'm also taking my SLR, so maybe I'll get a good picture or two, too. Thanks again for your thoughts.
  8. Hey everybody! I'm planning a trip towards the end of October to Napa & Sonoma and I thought I'd come see if i could get some opinions here as I'm making my arrangements. I lurk these boards frequently and really enjoy reading notes and updates from the regulars. I know that the whole "where should I go" topic has been done before, but seasons change, wineries open and close, wax and wane, and I feel like it's a good thing to rehash now and again. This time, I'm interested in affordable wineries in the region. Wineries that sell affordable wines, rather. I've been to Napa and Sonoma quite a few times and have visited plenty of vineyards over the years and have always loved the region, but I'm trying to make this visit my most well-planned (I'm generally a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants guy) and I'd like to visit some of the area's more out-of-the-way, lesser-known vineyards. While I'm at it, I'd like to buy some wines that I like, which is something I'm ill-suited to afford, especially when I find myself at a place whose wines start at $75/bottle. Anyway, I've kept most of my notes (written right on the tasting cards, usually) from the places I've been before and as soon as I'm home I'll probably pick a couple of those to re-visit (Casa Nuestra is definitely one, and Bouchaine another). Otherwise, it's three days in the region without a lot of structure at the moment. Anything you guys want to recommend where the wines are interesting and inexpensive automatically gets put at the top of the list. I'll be researching on and off (as my internet connection allows) while I'm trying to finish up a whirlwind working tour of South America. Thanks in advance for any advice that you guys have, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts and notes with you.
  9. It is as I feared. I have missed it. Or mostly. It's probably for the best anyway because I don't think I could have gotten my act together for a trip tomorrow or even by the weekend. Next year, if I'm as transient as this, I'll plan ahead a little more and maybe be able to do it. As for harvest, I think a lot of it is done under cover of darkness in the very early morning. Not that you shouldn't have seen some evidence... Ah well.
  10. I seem to remember last year (or the year before?) there was a lot of talk about the upcoming harvest and I really liked reading those discussions. They got me considering taking a week or so off, heading north to pick grapes or whatever I might be put to use doing somewhere. I feel like it's got to be nearly time, but I don't really know - maybe I missed it. How is this year's growing season looking?
  11. Oddly, a search of the Mikasa site for "kwarx" reveals no matches and there's no mention of the material nor of break-resistance on their Open Up page. Have I missed the boat? I can still find the Able Kitchen link, but two dozen glasses is one or two more than I'd need. There is, however, still mention of Kwarx on the Mikasa-Fr site. I wonder if and when I'll be able to go buy some at my local wine shop or home store.
  12. flicman

    Will this hurt my wine?

    This thread has me curious about wines that I've had, more out of "waiting for a good time to drink them" because they were bought with someone special or something than out of a sincere desire to age good wine, but I've had a couple bottles, maybe six, around for two to three years, kept in a rack in a dark cabinet. I'm a little worried because we had a particularly hot summer one year and I was living without A/C at the time, so it's possible that the ones that were around then got too hot. While it was only that one summer, I worry that 90+ degree days might have warmed the wine too much, despite it being in the coolest, darkest cabinet I had. Obviously, the only way to know is to taste them (and I'll definitely come back and post when I open a couple of the bottles in May for a friend's visit), but I'm interested in your expert opinions on whether there's a chance that this wine is still good. We're talking Cabs and Pinots Noir here, I think. A blend or two are in there as well.
  13. flicman

    TN: Oh my!

    I know that there are a couple of software programs that track what you've got in your cellar and might even have space for tasting notes. That said, my first impression after Carolyn's question was that it would be a relatively-easy thing to create a 4-column (or whatever was deemed necessary) database that took: 1) Producer 2) Type/Varietal 3) Year 4) Notes and tossed them into a database. Then, with a simple search function, you could return every wine that you described as having a "hint of vanilla" or every Malbec, sorted in pretty much any order, by year, producer, or your final rating (which I don't think you do, so I didn't make that a fifth category). This would make comparisons very easy. So easy, in fact, that you could make the whole thing available online, if you wanted. I'm a computer guy, though, so this seems like a natural idea to me. I'd guess that importing all of your notes might take awhile, but depending on how you store your notes, it might be well worth it to you and others.
  14. I, too, am heading to Napa and the surrounding area late this week and am back here to get your recommendations. I've never eaten at Jeanty, but it's now at the top of the (admittedly short) list of places to try. Reading eGullet has given me plenty of wineries to check out in the past, so a belated thank you for that to everyone here. I'm lucky enough that not only can I read the forums here, but I can also make it a couple times a year up that way to try what I'm learning. Now, if only I can somehow double the number of working taste buds in my mouth I might approach having a discerning palate. Finally, here are the wineries that I'm going to be re-visiting Thursday or Friday: Bouchaine, Silverado, Casa Nuestra and possibly Coppola. I'll link to any worthwhile pics I shoot early next week.
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