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The Quest for Great $10 Wines!

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Remembering Friends Passed

May 30th, 2009 · 4 Comments

I found out through FaceBook that he had died. 

We were best friends for… oh, I don’t know, five years.  Mature years, both in our thirties.  Glory years, years when you could conquer the world together.

I remember so many things.  We gave him a ride back to Indianapolis one year for Christmas.  There he was, Rick, my best buddy stuck in the middle back seat of a yellow Suburu stationwagon surrounded on both sides by child seats.  His luggage was stuffed on the roof with the Christmas tree we were bringing home to set up.  We sang Christmas carols until we were all exhausted from laughing. 

Always quick with a smile.  Always someone who didn’t seem to be phased by the normal bullshit in life.  Always the winner.  Also always the jokester.  His favorite saying, “There’s no business like your business.”  still rings in his voice in my ears.  He was from Maine.  His dad was colorblind and always wore red socks.  Why I remember that, I don’t know. 

We grew up in fashion retail together.  We had so many great experiences, so many great New York trips.  I remember the day he told me he was taking a new job, a big job with a NY agency.  We were crossing 57th Street at 6th Avenue on our way to the hotel.  I was proud of him and yet pissed at the same time.  I knew we would lose contact.  Midwest guys have a hard time keeping up with high flying NY agency guys.  That is a life puzzle I have yet to figure out.  How do you stay in touch with the guys…with the friends…. you really love?  So, as scripted, we drifted away from each other. 

Years later I heard he was sick.  I was told he woke up from a three month coma alone, broke and divorced.  Nobody knew where he was.  Two years later I found him in Philadelphia a ghost of his former self.  He wanted a job, I didn’t have one. I asked him to move in with my family, he didn’t want to.  We lost each other again.  I don’t know the circumstances of his death or who to ask.  I don’t know his resting place.  I just hope he’s resting easy.

So this is to Rick Fairchild, my good friend lost and now passed.  I love you buddy.  Tonight I’ll open a bottle of red wine and drink to your memory.  I won’t review it.

Cheers, the Wine Oaf.   

    

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VEO Cabarnet Sauvignon – Chile $9.00

April 27th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Sams Diving Again

Good cheap wine to serve to guests

VEO Chilean Cabarnet Sauvignon 2007

RATING: SERVE TO GUESTS

It’s summer again!  Well almost, but it does feel like summer.   Temp in the 80’s sunshine, baseball on the radio and the grill on every weekend and even some nights.  So it’s time to start opening a bottle here and there to go with the summer grill menu.  Liking reds and especially cabs beyond all other wines, I dive more deeply into Sam’s Club to see what I can find that will bring a smile to my face and a warm feeling deep inside my wallet.    Really liked this VEO Chilean wine.  I will admit, I am not prone to like Chile products so far but for under ten bucks, but this wine was great.

What Others Say: Wine-O-Rama 

We liked their Veo Grande (especially for $8.99 at Sam’s) but at times the herbal/green pepper interfered a tad. We figured that their ULTIMA reserve version (for $12.99) would be much better. Well, we decanted it for about 45 minutes with vigorous aeration as recommended on the label (it was rough straight out of the bottle.) Pretty purple hue but lots of herbs on the nose (I know some might love that, but we aren’t big fans.) Nice, smooth tannins with very bright red berry on the palate (not much herbal, though.) What zippy acidity – nice with the burgers and probably nicer with a juicy steak. On the other hand, it seemed quite thin and watery. Pretty good hooch,

What I Thought: Really enjoyed this wine.  Good full “(to me) surround the tongue” effect without being bitter.  Blueberries (yeah even my ruined taste buds got some blueberry tone) but really satisfying finish.  Long legs so the swirl was fun to play with.  I like to swirl my wine.  It drives my wife CRAZY.  She is so sure I’m going to spill.  Oops.  Anyway, well worth more than the 9 bucks.  Good cheap wine to serve to guests.

Cheers from the Wine Oaf.

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It’s All About Sustainable Wine

March 21st, 2009 · 1 Comment

Parducci Sustainable White Wine Mendocino County 2007

Sustainable wine Truthfully I really appreciate the efforts on behalf of growers towards the “green grape” movement.   Sustainability, from what brief posts and labels I have read and is pretty obvious, is all about respect for the land.  In essence that refers to irrigation, pest control, natural composting and wise use of the terrain for agricultural purposes.  (If you really want to be clued in,  here you go: http://www.sustainablewinegrowing.org/aboutcswa.php )

There is a lot of controversy about American consumer acceptance of organic and sustainable wine products.  To some producers, hanging the tag “organic” on a wine is akin to putting a red sale tag on it.  I am a bit puzzled with this.  If organic and sustainable products are achieving strong acceptance as well as acceptable revenue results in other arenas, why not wines?  Would drinking an organic wine or a wine produced from sustainable farming methods be a turn off in and of itself?  I don’t see the reasoning unless the taste carries the flavor tones of stirred compost.  In truth, wouldn’t you give a product produced in such a manner a nod of respect and allow it to try and earn it’s way onto the table?  I thought so. So I took on the challenge of testing this good cheap white wine from Mendocino County.

Parducci Sustainable White

Good enough a wine for my numb tongue

RATING: Good Enough for My Numb Tongue

So, it is with great dismay that I report how disappointing Parducci Sustainable White came across.  I chilled it on the back deck taking advantage of natures own little fridge.  No wasted carbons huh, huh!  Pretty green of me.   I drank it from an earthy tumbler produced by a local artisan.  Pretty 2009 farmers-market-savvy-act-locally huh, huh!  I even considered enjoying this wine while playing Woody Guthrie ballads on an acoustic guitar…except, I don’t know any Woody Guthrie ballads.  Anyway, I created a green mood that turned somewhat blue.

What Others Say:  sustainablewhite.com

1st PLACE, Light New World White Wine- The Wine Trials
A refreshing blend of sustainably grown Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Tokai, and Viognier grapes from Mendocino County.
Parducci Sustainable White has crisp, clean aromas, and flavors of citrus and melon. Enjoy this refreshing white wine with fresh salads, free-range chicken, and organic vegetables. What I Thought: I did not really get the same reaction from the wine.  The aroma was a little strong, too acidic, the promised melon citrus flavor was buried too deep beneath what, I don’t know, I just couldn’t get it to hit the palate.  Again though, I’ll probably try this and others of it’s genre again sometime.  Decent wine quest.  Maybe sustainable needs to grow on me?

Cheers from the Wine Oaf.  Got to love the NCAA hoops playoffs.  Go Purdue!

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Clos Du Bois 2005 Shiraz

March 8th, 2009 · No Comments

Clos Du Bois Shiraz 2005

 Good cheap wine to serve to guests

RATED: Great Cheap Wine to Serve to Guests

The weather here is starting to turn.  We have daffodils popping up.  The shrubs are starting to bud out.  The ants are invading my garage.  (I hate ants.  This will be an understandably short post.)  I still have time to grill out though which means that lighter yet flavorful reds are on the menu.  What a better way to dig into barbecue chicken or a juicy peppery burger than to pair it up with a nice Shiraz!  I had to stay out by the gas grill this time because the march winds are so strong that the flame can go out.  Then I’m gassing the neighborhood as opposed to cooking the chicken.  To keep me company I opened up a bottle of the Clos Du Bois 2005 Shiraz.  Good wine quest, good call.  Keep this one around.

What Others Say:Finewinehouse.com

Wine Tasting Notes
Made in the inky, jammy style typical of fine Australian Shiraz wines, this lovely Shiraz offers rich aromas and flavors of wild raspberries and blackberries, with hints of licorice and layers of black pepper and spice on the back palate.   Finewinehouse.com

What I Thought:

Good peppery taste that is a great sipper but would be great with anything spicy right off the grill. Has a great full flavor.  Surrounds the tongue and leaves a real pleasant tang on the tonsils.  (If you still have tonsils try it for yourself.)   Definitley would recommend this one to serve to guests sitting on the deck chowing down on whatever comes right off the grill.

Now excuse me while I go chemical on the ants in my toolbox. Did I tell you how I hate ants?

Cheers from the Wine Oaf

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Another Good Cheap Spanish Wine Quest

February 14th, 2009 · No Comments

Condesa De Sarabella Garnacha 2007

 Good enough a wine for my numb tongue

RANKING: Good Enough for My Numb Tongue

Like Don Quijote, I will try another wine quest in Spain to find a great cheap wine.  This time we are testing another procuto de Espana, the Condesa De Sarabella Garnacha 2007.  Again the Trader Joe’s aisle brought us to this little red.

What Others Say: Marga’s Foodblog Jan 2009 

Condesa de Sarabella garnacha is a perfectly fine table, every day wine. It’s crisp, but still medium-to-full bodied, light tannins and no oakiness, or smoke or earthiness or anything really to distract you. There is no unnecessary sharpness or acidity (or even bitterness) either, sometimes found in wines at this price range. It basically tastes like everyday wine – something that you won’t be ashamed to serve your guests for a regular meal (let’s have something nicer for a more special one), but that at $5 doesn’t break our recession-era budgets.

What I Thought: Spain is the third largest producer of wines in the world so, even if I am disappointed with another red, I have plenty of quests to go!  Intriguing little Picasso’ish face on the label.  I could imagine pointing that out to my buddies (my own personal Sancho Panzas)  and they say, “Picasso, who’s he play for?”  I hang with a high brow bunch.  The Condesa was soft but I found it a bit acidy (is that a word) not at all lush if that is what you are looking for.  If mildly abrasive can be used to describe a wine I would say this one comes close.  Still, I drank the bottle over a couple of nights without reaching for a cookbook.  Ok wine probably to serve to yourself while doing something fun like taxes but not worthy of a gathering.  What saves it is the somewhat spicy taste strong floral nose that allowed a pleasant moment or two for the senses.  Probably would be good with a web surfing delicacy like string cheese.  I’d drink it again for the $5 I spent.  (Six pack of Bud is $5.79 right)

Found an intersting ittle Spanish wine site for those of you who like to sip and surf.  Espavino.com 

Cheers from the Wine Oaf

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