She says: There it is… The Clos de Chacras at dinner… and getting a kiss?? Seriously nutty woman.
HE says: A few months back, we told you about Cornerstone’s rocking’ idea to create blended wines from what they determined is the best varietals of the vintage.
HE continues: We loved the white, which was a unique blend of chardonnay and muscat. Well, I’m happy to say that the “Rocks!” Red Wine follows nicely in its footsteps. Ok, maybe more like plods over it because this is one big and bold wine.
It’s again a unique blend – zinfandel and pinot noir. Now, I’m a huge zin fan and I don’t think I’ve ever had, yet alone heard of, such a pairing. Zin is usually very fruity and “in your face” while pinot noir is more delicate and refined, so putting them together is a bit like having Mick Jagger duet with Sade. But, you know, it works.
HE says some more: The nose is really forward as is the fruit in this wine. I didn’t know the blend when I tasted it and my senses kept telling me syrah. The flavors are lots of black fruits and black cherry, with a hint of cocoa. I thought it would have some zin, but I never imagined the pinot noir. Regardless, it’s a pretty juicy bomb of a wine. The alcohol is up there, at 14.9% and the acid comes through more than the tannins. So I recommend you have this wine with food, like barbecue ribs or meat or a juicy burger.
I rated it a very good 15.
SHE says: You, my love have a complicated palate. And you, my wine: You’re a sharp, but friendly kinda wine. Leaving a little fire in your path, I’ll likely follow.
Full disclosure stuff some fed somewhere thinks we should tell you: This review is not a paid review. We purchase most of the wines we write about (or steal them if we have to). We do occasionally receive wine releases from Cornerstone Cellars. Our readers know that free wine would never interfere with our honest opinions. (Just glance around the blog and you’ll see that’s true.)
Halloween gifts – what’s a girl to do?
SHE says: You can show up with some standard tiny candies, or be the Halloween gift bearer who brings something healthy ~ or be a Halloween gift giving star. I suggest you be the Halloween gift giving star this year.
Here’s my secret to a great Halloween gift: Vampire Vineyards wines, Vampyre Vodka, Vampire Coffee and Vampire Chocolate ~ WHAT?!?
My love affair with Vampire Vineyards continues. I loved it more when the wine was actually from Transylvania, but my therapist says I’m almost over that shock.
HE says: Yes, the Vampire Vineyards marketing machine has expanded the brand to include all things decadent and SHE’s so happy, SHE might just bite you.
SHE says: Yes, they’ve expanded their brand AND get this ~ Vampire Vineyards has opened VAMPIRE LOUNGE in Beverly Hills. Seriously? Seriously. I am finally satisfied. Their brand just might be complete.
HE says: Do they “complete” you?
SHE says: La, la, la… I can’t hear you… la, la, la…
SHE also says: Let’s start with Vampire Lounge. It’s a store, it’s a bar, it’s a real lounge with gorgeous sofas, library books and even Vampire Tarot cards. Downstairs small tables, tall seats at the very beautiful, perfect sized bar. Upstairs is comfy (the entryway to
upstairs reads Vampire Lyre) and what can I say… I love it when people understand what a lounge really is.
Vampire Lounge is cozy, and gorgeous which is how I like my lounges. Upsatirs two sofas (one purple, one black), library books, Vampire Tarot cards, mirrors, small lamps, some chachtkas, the ever gorgeous Haute Living magazine (vampires being about 500 years old live very Haute on the hog ~ I can confirm this from personal experience) and I won’t tell you everything because you want to be a little surprised when you visit the Vampire Lounge.
With the right companions, it’s a blast. HE could so totally help them with their food menu as it still needs some work, but vampires are so busy drinking blood that they just don’t eat very much. (also confirmed from personal experience.)
Halloween gift options at Vampire Lounge? OMIGOSH! So many!
1) The Vampire Vineyards wines – reds and whites
2) The Trueblood wine label (not related to the television show)
3) The Chateau du Vampire label
4) Dracula wine label
5) J’ Taime sparkling wine
6) Vampyre Vodka (red and white)
7) Vampire coffee (so THATS how they stay up all night)
8) Vampire chocolate bars (good, but my guess is even better in the future)
9) Some beers called Witches Brew…
10) Vampire wine glasses
Lots of dark fun. The only thing missing? A selection of vampire fangs.
Do be aware that the bottled wine prices at the lounge might seem a little steep, but they have discounts, so just ask for the details. If you’re a last minute shopper, just stoppping in- it’s worth it. Consider joining their Vampire Wine Club and you’ll get some really nice perks.
If you’re doing your Halloween gift shopping a bit in advance, you can also find Vampire Wines at TotalWine.com stores near you for $8.99 a bottle. A quick phone call revealed the store where I discovered Vampire Wines ~ Robert Burns Wines on Robertson Blvd. in Beverly Hills continues to carry the wines and they will be in stock very soon! Shahe did not yet know their price.
Do you love Halloween? Leave a comment below and tell us your Halloween traditions!
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She says: To celebrate his birthday recently, we opened a bottle he’d been holding in his locker for close to two decades – a 1990 Girard Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa. I consider this a “score!”
He says: This cab was really wonderful. It had great dark fruits, terrific balance and a smooth and supple finish. It was tasting fantastic – right at its peak – I give it an 18. I wish I had more in my locker. I do have a ’91 Girard Cabernet so I’ll have to pop that open soon. A bit of history on Girard. Girard Winery was started by Stephen A. Girard, Jr. a former executive with Kaiser Corp.
She says: Don’t you wish you’d been there for that career transition? ”Let’s see – medical conglomerate or wine industry? Hmmm… medical conglomerate or wine industry… wait, don’t tell me… I’m thinking… “
He says: The winery was based in Oakville, on the Oakville Crossroad near the Silverado Trail. According to an interview he gave to Jim Wood of the SF Examiner in 1995, Girard bought the vineyard in ’74 and was selling grapes to other producers for their reserve wines and decided to create a winery. “I got my sisters and my dad together, got them drunk and made my proposal,” he said in the interview. Isn’t that great? He added that they wanted his dad to run it, but his dad kept working so he ended up running the winery himself.
Well, Stephen wasn’t the winemaker, but he hired great winemakers, had wonderful grapes from his estate to work with and produced great wines. Girard made wonderful cabs, chards and other wines (I remember enjoying a great Chenin Blanc in the tasting room once) and had a tremendous reputation in the ‘80s and ‘90s as kind of a boutique winery. I say “was,” “made” and “had” because in the mid 90s the winery was bought out and renamed Rudd Estate. Rudd did a massive overhaul of the winery and vineyards and discontinued the Girard label a few years later, which was a real shame because Girard produced some truly excellent wines. I haven’t heard much about Rudd Estate since their purchase and, sadly, Stephen Girard died in 2004. There is a Girard label out now, but it is produced by Patrick Roney (formerly of Ch. St. Jean and Kunde).
So if you’re rooting around a wine store and come across a bottle of Girard cab from the ‘80s or ‘90s, consider getting it. You may have found a true gem.
Here’s a link to the Girard Winery website.
Black Wine: Malbec Wines from Cahors Region in France Rise Again
She says: What is “black wine” ? Black wine is a malbec wine from the region of Cahors, France which has such a deep purple color and is 99% opaque, so that you cannot see through it. Those of you fond of eyeing your wine tasting friends through the rosey lens of your filled glass will find that it is not possible to see them through the “black wine”.
Tell me more you say? While on a recent trip to France, I learned that this Cahors region of southern France is also the original birth place of the malbec grape. I didn’t know that, did you?
He Says: Actually, yes, I did know. According to Jancis Robinson, malbec likely originated in Burgundy and was once widely grown in Bordeaux and all throughout France. But the grape is susceptible to frost, mildew, rot and other nasty things, so most malbec vines have been ripped up and replaced with other more reliable and productive vines. Today in France, malbec is most widely grown in the Cahors region.
She Says: The Cahors wine region, where our “black wine” comes from, is legendary with history going back to 50 BC (over two thousand years old, my friends). The Malbec vines have been wiped out a few times by frosts and/or that pesky phylloxera (as He refers to above) but you can read a much more thorough history of the Cahors France wine region here.
Imagine my delight when we returned home and a few weeks later learned that a short film about the black truffles and the black wine of the Cahor’s region, “The Scent of Black”, was awarded The James Beard award. The film comes from the incredibly talented team at Grape Radio. Watch the film when you can. Just 12 minutes – we’ve posted it for you here. We trust you will enjoy the film.
He Says: To be a Cahors malbec, the blend must be at least 70% malbec. It is often mixed with merlot, another soft and fruity grape. And yes, the color of the wine is as close to black as you will find.
Here are the two Cahors Malbecs we tasted:
Black Wine: Malbec Wine from Cahors, France: Pigmentum 2008 Malbec, Georges Vigouroux $8
He says: Try a cross cultural tasting of your own. If you’re into malbecs, try the 2007 Chateau de Mercues from Cahors alongside one or two from Argentina. You’ll notice some pronounced differences in the wines. The Argentine malbecs are not as dark in color – more of a deep purple – and burst through with more fruit and richer, more approachable flavors. Taste both and let us know, which region do you prefer? Leave a comment in the comments section.
Black Wine: Malbec Wine from Cahors, France: Chateau de Mercues, 2007 Malbec, Georges Vigouroux $19
He and She both say: We had a unique opportunity to taste two “Black Wines” from the Cahors region of France. Black Wine is the name given to the merlots from this ancient wine region. It’s fascinating and a little mysterious. There’s even a short film about the region at this link. More information about the history of the Black Wine here. http://wp.me/p9Qfi-mN
He says: This bottle came from the same winery, but was significantly better than the Pigmentum malbec. It had an inky purple color and dusty, leathery nose. The flavors were dark fruits, prunes and leather. It had medium tannins but could be enjoyed now or sit a couple of years. (In general, malbecs don’t age very well). A very nice wine, worthy of a 15 score.
She says: You, my friend, can stop by for a drink anytime.
Served with: Roasted chicken sausage and roasted summer vegetables.
Black Wine: Pigmentum 2008 Malbec, Georges Vigouroux $8
He and She both say: We had a unique opportunity to learn about the “black wine” from Cahors. You can read more about our discovery here and watch a short film about “The Scent of Black” referring to truffles and wines from Cahors France. http://wp.me/p9Qfi-mN
He says: This Cahors malbec was very dark in color, indicative of the black wine of Cahors. It was easy to drink, but didn’t really display many of the characteristics I’ve come to associate with malbecs from Argentina. It was OK, but nothing special. Then again, it only cost $8. I gave it a 13.
She says: You’re hot. But that doesn’t give you permission to slap me.
Served with: Grilled spicy chicken sausage and grilled summer vegetables – corn, asparagus, green peppers. Perfect. If you can find black truffles from the region – do it!
HE says: How about a picnic, Boo Boo? SHE says: Of course!
HE says: Let’s see Wynton Marsallis at The Hollywood Bowl.
SHE says: Ok! (Note to dear reader: Getting TO the Hollywood Bowl? A nightmare. Once you’re there, a night at The Hollywood Bowl? Priceless.)
Every city has it’s outdoor music venues, places to picnic, to enjoy the summer, breathe clean air and be thankful for good music and outdoor venues. In Los Angeles, the best of the best outdoor venues is The Hollywood Bowl. While picnicing before Wynton Marsalis concert, SHE got snoopy and started asking the people at nearby tables what their “picnic wine” was for that night. Here are a few of the picnic wines from the Hollywood Bowl picnic area on June 22.
This couple chose 2007 La Finca Tempranillo from Mendoza, Argentina. (They were sweet enough to let us post their photo, too!) If you’ve been reading for a while then you know how much we love the wines from Mendoza. You can read all of our Mendoza Argentina wine notes here. This video used to have some audio with it of them telling a little story – but the audio disappeared. (thanks Moviemaker) The story goes a friend brought the wine to their house for dinner the week before and since they liked it so much, they decided to drink it again! Value priced at $3.99 at a Trader Joe’s near you.
Although we are rather organized when it comes to food and wine, we embarrassingly enough (ok, it was She – not He) forgot to bring the bottle opener. (Seriously.) Sweet picnic peeps at the table beside us had a good laugh and loaned us their corkscrew. What were they drinking?
An interesting red wine called Red Diamond and a 2009 Per Bacco Chardonnay, Edna Valley that one man commented was a very ”clean taste”. Again we say “Thank you!” to their generous loan of the cork screw.
On to another table (people are pretty happy to talk at The Hollywood Bowl) we meet some newlyweds and hear another great story – one morning this paricular couple woke up, got ready to go to the gym, and instead they went to the courthouse and got married. Ok! Hmmm… what shall we do today… go to the gym to workout? Or get married? Gym for a workout – or get married? Hmmmm… Can you believe it? They decided to get a workout on their soul instead and got married. Very funny story. And very sweet people. Here they are sharing their picnic wine with you – 2007 Arrowhead Chardonnay.
And what did He and She drink at Hollywood Bowl that night? Rabbit Ridge 2009 Paso Robles Allure de Robles red wine. It’s easy to choose a light white wine for summer picnic’s but if you’d like to try something a little different, we’re going to suggest you try a Zinfandel or a Pinot Noir. A little more depth, but not so bold as to overpower your picnic food. Happy summer picnic-ing to you!
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HE Says: Our annual USC/UCLA Venom and Vinum super-secret, under the radar, blind wine tasting happened late last year. 19 years. So, 19 years – just a little younger than She.
SHE Says: Bwa, ha, ha! That’s the kind of math I love. My disclaimer – I’ve only been around for 7 of those years.
He continues: As I’ve written before, the clandestine wine tasting takes place the night before the USC Trojans-UCLA Bruins football game. There are 12-18 of us each year, with allegiances split about 50-49 between the two schools (She providing the odd number as she has allegiance to the marching bands.) The venom refers to the words we exchange before the game, deriding the opposition school and their football program. This year, both football teams were pretty lackluster and the game featured a lot of ugly football. Nonetheless, we’re happy that our Trojans were victorious once again and have won 8 of the last 9 games.
She interrupts: How’s my special friend, Art Bartner doing?
He continues: The band was great as always. 2010 was the 19th straight year we’ve held this event, which includes a great dinner and then a blind tasting. We change the wine theme each year – this year it was 2007 cabernets from Napa, California, priced between $15 and $45. The 2007 harvest in Napa is considered one of the finest in a several decades, and the 7 wines we tasted confirmed that. Very little separated one wine from another and overall it was perhaps the best tasting we’ve ever done.
The results and our comments:
2007 Buehler Vineyards Cabernet “Kindly Well” Napa Valley – the evening’s top wine.
He says: This is a boutique wine offered through the Premiere Napa Valley program bought thru an auction, and later sold at a local L.A. wine store for about $33. The grapes come from a hillside block they call Kindly Well at Buehler. It had a nice nose and was very well balanced. I tasted cherry and sage/cedar flavors, and thought the winemaker did a fine job with it. It tied for the highest score overall, and won our tiebreaker. I scored it an excellent 16 and my second favorite wine, but it will likely be difficult to find.
She says: Nice, but I’m not sure you’ll last more than a week in my house.
She also says: Hard-to-find. Ai! Drive me crazy with difficulty. I hate that. Unfortunately He’s right this time. I searched all over “the internets” for you – at least two whole websites – and I couldn’t find “Kindly Well” at any price. Bummer.
2007 Provenance Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet – This is the wine we brought, and it finished tied for first but was edged out on the tiebreaker. Chris Cooney and Tom Rinaldi (formerly at Duckhorn) made this terrific cab, priced around $35.
He says: It had a nice nose, with a very good body and structure. Like a supermodel! Predominant berry flavors. It was very soft and low on tannins, so I’d recommend drinking it soon. I gave it a strong 15+ and had scored it as my third favorite wine.
She says: Smells like caramel, tastes like wine. Your mind is so busy I can’t figure out what you want.
2007 Round Pond Rutherford Cabernet – Our friend Andy brought this wonderful wine, which was easily the biggest of the 7. It cost about $45 and scored a great 94 in Wine Spectator.
He says: It was a very big and bold wine, with medium-high tannins that masked the fruit. The wine was tasting tight at first, but with thirty minutes in the glass it started opening up and revealing itself. Because of the tannins, it has great aging potential and you’d want to sit it down for at least 5 years, and probably 10 to 15. I gave it my highest score, an excellent 16, but others felt it was too tight and it finished in 6th place.
She says: Dark water.
2007 Caravan Cabernet – Karen and Steve brought this wine ($33), which is produced by Darioush. The cab is blended with 14% merlot and 4% each of petit verdot and malbec, all from their estate and Mt. Veeder Vineyards.
He says: The wine was very smooth, with a slight chocolate/cocoa and cherry flavors. It had good structure and medium low tannins, and I recommend that you drink it within three years. I gave it an very strong 15+ and rated it 4th best, as did the group.
She says: Big, bold and complicated, aren’t you? I’ll have to spend some time figuring you out.
2007 Main & Geary Cabernet –
He says: Ken and Nanci brought this wine ($20) and while it had a big nose, it exhibited sour cherry flavors to me. It seemed like the alcohol was a bit higher and it didn’t really do much for me (a fair 14), but the group had it tied for fourth.
She says: Broad shoulders. I could definitely spend the weekend with you.
2007 Roots Run Deep Winery Educated Guess Cabernet –
He says: Another selection from Ken and Nanci ($18) that I had read comments on for being a good value. It was very soft, with very low tannins. Very slight cherry flavors, with almost a sweet note to them. Definitely meant to be opened right away. I ranked it 5th with a fair 14, but the group scored it last. In all fairness though, only a handful of points separated first from last in our group.
She says: There’s an awful lot of alcohol on your breath, darlin’ – but you’re strong and steady and that’s how I like it.
He says: Our friends Cari and Chad brought this $20 cab and while I found it just OK, it ranked third in our group, just one point off the top. It has a really intoxicating nose, but I found the body to be thin. I gave this a fair 14 and had it as my least favorite.
She says: He doesn’t understand you – but I do.
He says: In summary, I think the Round Pond will be the most ageworthy of the wines, and if you’re looking for something to drink now or in the next few years, I’d recommend the Provenance Rutherford and the Caravan cabs, which should both be readily available. The Buehler is terrific, but will be hard to find.
She says: In summary – Here’s a picture of a hand drawing of a caterpillar in the upper right hand corner of my wine notes – and it reads “My Caterpillar”. If I had more of an explanation for you I would share, I swear I would – but alas, I do not know what prompted this. Wine + pen + paper = anything can happen.
1974 Sonoma Vineyards Alexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon.
He said: My parents bought this wine in 1977, and it’s been in my father’s wine locker for almost 34 years. We decided to open up one of the bottles to see if the wine was still good.
This wine holds a very special place in California wine making history. It is the first single vineyard cabernet from Sonoma Valley. According to the back label, the Alexander’s Crown vineyard is a 61-acre vineyard located on a promontory above the Alexander Valley.
The winemaker was Rodney Strong, a major pioneer in the Sonoma winemaking world. Sonoma Vineyards later became Rodney Strong Vineyards. Rodney Strong, now owned by Tom Klein, still produces an Alexander’s Crown single vineyard cab.
You can see the first vintage of Alexander’s Crown charted on this timeline on the Rodney Strong website. http://bit.ly/AlexandersCrown
Rodney’s notes on the label and note card are very interesting. For one, he says the grapes were harvested at 24.2 brix on November 3rd, which is very late. Then he apologizes for the wine being high alcohol at 13.7%, which would be considered low nowadays. He also said the wine could age for 20 years if you had the patience. Well, we were super patient, letting it sit for 36 years!
And now for the tasting notes:
He said: I had some doubts at first when I uncorked the wine. It had a little off smell and tasted a bit acidic, but the color was fairly red and I thought it was just a bit tight. After about 10 minutes, the wine started opening up and becoming more approachable. After being open an hour, the wine really showed its stuff. It had great cherry flavors and the balance was terrific. This turned into a tremendous bottle of wine. I gave it an excellent score of 17. The bottle had a lot of sediment.
She said: I don’t know how I know this, but I would say this has structure. You were so worth the wait, you big strong man-wine.
P.S. She says: I went peeking into to Barry’s father’s wine notes to see what Mel might have had to say about Sonoma Vineyard’s Alexander’s Crown. And here’s what I found. Mel tasted and purchased the wine in August of 1977. Mel wrote: Fruity, smooth, lots of TANNIN, BEAUTIFUL
Mel kept an inventory of his wines on 3×5 cards and stored them in a little tin box. He bought two cases of ’74 Alexander’s Crown (back when cases were 12 bottles). Each bottle cost $6.50 Only two bottles were marked off as being opened. Let me see if I can do that math 24 bottles – 3 bottles minus not so perfect inventory keeping = still a whole lotta good wine left! Of course there’s no way each bottle will be perfect, but this one was and that’s a good sign. Enjoy the hand written notes!
You can view additional, higher quality photos of the hang-tag, the bottle and Barry’s father’s wine notes on our Flickr page: http://bit.ly/BarrysentialsPhotos
Served with: A hearty homemade stew on a rainy and cold Saturday night.
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