We recently visited the Cape May winery while touring some spots in South Jersey. Surprisingly, they had some solid wines that could be sold anywhere in the world. Of course, they had a number of sweet wines indicative of the amateur grower, palate and wine region often found in NJ, PA and NY, but a few of the wines were quite good, specifically the Cape May 2008 Merlot. Very drinkable and still a bit complex enough for the educated wine drinker, we were very surprised that Cape May had a red wine this good. “This dry red Merlot is structured and complex. Ripe red fruit flavors with strong tannins, new oak and just so-acidity. Drink now, but know this wine will improve over the next 2 to 4 years. $18 a bottle,” Cape May Winery explains through the web site. We did a tasting and bought a bottle of the merlot.
The great thing about this small quaint little winery just minutes outside of Cape May is that you can bring a picnic basket and enjoy the wines on their deck. Sipping this beautiful merlot, we paired it with the Bella Vitano Espresso Cheese by Sartori. If you don’t bring your own food to the winery, cheese, crackers and other delightful treats are available to purchase. The Bella Vitano Espresso Cheese has beautiful rich coffee notes that match perfectly with a bold red like a merlot. After tasting cheese plates up and down the east coast, this is literally one the best cheeses we have ever tasted period, perhaps the best. The cheeses available at the Cape May Winery might be better than the wines there. We also tried a Bella Vitano Merlot Cheese, also excellent. Both were winners at the World Cheese Awards.
Don Paula wines from Argentina’s Mendoza region can now be found all over the world, and after only two years on the international scene, Don Paula was already landing awards in Europe and America. 97% of Don Paula’s production is exported to 60 countries all over the world and we found a bottle in Sophia’s in Margate NJ, an upscale Greek restaurant. Recommended by our favorite bartender and surfer, George, the Don Paula Los Cardos 2010 Malbec was the perfect choice for a complex red when you’re not looking to break the bank. For about $10 a bottle, the Don Paula Los Cardos is simply one of the best malbec’s you can buy in the price range.
From the Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza region, the desert climate has ooor clayey soils. Also, the climate is characterized by its warm days and cool nights, with an average temperature variation of 14°C (57.2°F). The estate is located at 1,050 meters (almost 3,445 ft) above sea level and the average annual rainfall in this area is 200 mm (7.87 in)managed using sustainable agriculture practices.
Tasting Notes if the Don Paula Los Cardos 2010 Malbec:
Slightly bitter, tart and complex, flavorful and well balanced. Notes of fruits and bitter herbs, this red wine is soft, with a perfectly balanced finish. We absolutely recommend the Don Paula Los Cardos Malbec for about $10.
We’re not really sure who coined the phrase “crap on a crap cracker” although we think its Homer Simpson. However, that description couldn’t be more fitting than when discussing the Yellow Tail Grenache Shiraz blended red. Normally we don’t go into tasting notes this quickly but damn, this red wine has the scent of a shitty flat grape juice and an overwhelming metallic flavor which is indicative of a cheap amateurish wine. Yes, Yellow Tail is an economical wine but usually not this bad. The bite and dry mouth feel are sometimes ok but the finish is metallic, flat stale and spoiled. For those that are new to the web site, we go out of our way not to be total dicks, but when it’s warranted, we have no choice. The over produced economical Yellow Tail Australian wine is really hurting with this bottle. We can’t recommend this wine at any price. The blend is 80% Shiraz and 20% Grenache but don’t even bother.
One of the world’s leading wine experts and certainly one of the most popular, Gary Vaynerchuck, has proclaimed the Veedha Douro 2008 Red Wine the ultimate $10 bottle of wine. Vaynerchuck became infamous in the wine world with his web videos where he breaks down different wines with systematic analysis. The wines are all brown bagged and Gary tastes them completely blind, but Vaynerchuck can call out the price, type of grape and origin with ease and success. Also a best selling author, Vaynerchuck proclaimed “This is the Ultimate $10 wine and the Ultimate Pinterest wine because at $10 it is not only a deal that most can afford but it is a FANTASTIC WINE and has a radical label for art purposes.” Gary goes on to discuss the tasting notes of the Veedha Douro 2008, “loaded with dark, dark flavors and the ripe cherry, peppercorn, cinnamon, plum, and plum fruit dance around the silky almost silk sheets like texture. The olives, tar and black currant on the long finish put the exclamation point on this wine.”
That sounds like a very complex wine for only $10 and although we haven’t tasted the Veedha Douro yet, it’s number one on our to do list. We’ll update with our thoughts as soon as we get a chance.
Our featured wine of the week, the Casa Lapostelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 from Chile scored 90 Points from the Wine Spectator, a very high score for wine that retails for about $12. Lapostelle wines from the Rapel Valley region of Chile are made on 3 different vineyards and produce about 200,000 cases of wine a year. Harvested by hand, this Cabernet blend is about 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Carmenère, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Syrah and 1% of Petit Verdot. With a complex scent and a very good complex flavor, this solidly dry medium bodied wine. This is a solid wine and we recommend it for the $12, which is an excellent price, but the 90 points from Wine Spectator is a bit much. Fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in French Oak barrels this wine pairs well with pastas, pork and grilled red meat.
“Our Casa Cabernet is the perfect wine to celebrate with friends and family: this wine can transform a simple celebration into a memorable occasion.” Jacques Begarie, Chief Winemaker.
There is a time and place for delicate, complex wines that carefully weave complementary flavors and textures into a dining experience. The middle of winter at a table featuring Wagyu Pot Roast is neither that time nor that place. Pot roast is a big, hearty dish of comforting, familiar flavors as American as the apple pie often served afterwards. So what better wine to serve with Wagyu Pot Roast than an equally big and hearty Syrah direct from America’s West Coast. Syrah is often blended with other grapes, creating wonderful, layered reds. But Master Sommelier George Miliotes suggests seeking out a single-vineyard Syrah for this dining occasion. It will be a big, briary wine with aromas of spice and flowers, flavors of ripe forest berries, and substantial tannins that beautifully balance the richness of pot roast. Consider Alban Vineyards’ Reva Syrah, grown in Edna Valley of California’s Central Coast. Alban Vineyards is actually the first American winery and vineyards established exclusively for Rhone varieties, and their Syrah is exceptional. Another favorite of ours is Radio-Cocteau’s Timbervine Syrah, created from grapes grown in California’s Russian River Valley. And from farther up the coast in Walla Walla, Washington, comes Cayuse Winery’s savory Cailloux Vineyard Syrah. There will be time enough for lightness and frivolity come spring. Winter is about gathering indoors with friends, indulging in robust comfort food, and curling up with a good Syrah.
Our team has been on the lookout for inexpensive organic wines to see if there are any wines on the market that can compete in terms of complexity and price with the rest of the wine world as a whole. To be fair, organic wine grapes like all other organic fruits and vegetables are still sprayed with pesticides. Hard to believe but yes, all organic farms in the world use pesticides, however these pesticides are all natural, as opposed to the more modern man made pesticides which would be considered non-organic. (Many scientists in the industry claim that the non-organic pesticides are actually safer for human consumption.) Time will tell which is better for us…
For now, let’s discuss these two organic wines that we found at Wegman’s Pub this past weekend. Let’s start with the Green Truck Petite Syrah. According to Green Truck, “organic farming requires a commitment to a method of farming that eliminates dependence on chemical fertilizers and toxic fungicides and insecticides in favor of natural practice.” The Petite Syrah Grapes were organically grown at the Mendocino County vineyards by the Barra family and the grapes underwent gentle de-stemming and crushing. Unfortunately, the Green Truck Petite Syrah was basically flat and completely lacked any complexity. The scent of the wine was solid and sharp, but the rest was all downhill. Tasting Notes: Mild, smooth, not very grainy, with a thin mouthfeel and having legs in the glass. Flat and watered down, more like unsweetened grape juice. The Green Truck Petite Syrah has no body and no structure. This is a below average table wine and we most likely would try it again. Retail price $12.00
The Parducci Sustainable Red was definitely better than the Green Truck but nothing to write home about. The Parducci Sustainable Red is a red table wine and the Parducci Vineyards are locally owned and operated in California’s Mendocino County. Parducci practices “sustainable winegrowing, protecting the environment and supporting our communities and local farmers.” The Parducci table red has a slight bite, and a bit of flavor with a better concistency than the Green Truck but overall is flat with no aroma. This organic wine was also a bit disappointing and we would not go out of our way to try this again. Retail price $11.00
In the new Morton’s Steakhouse blog, Sommelier and certified mixologist Sara Fasolino kicks some serious knowledge when it comes to pairing food & wine, making cocktails and killing it with the best drinks at the holiday party. “In yesterday’s blog, I recommended Pinot Noir as a red wine for your holiday party, because it’s a well-liked wine by most everyone. So I wanted to feature a Pinot in today’s issue of ‘Wine Wednesday’…the Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir. It’s a nice choice for any get-together, and we also offer this on our ‘Wines by the Glass‘ list.”
Ponzi Vineyards is a family-owned and operated winery
Their Pinot Noir is recognized by top critics, and every vintage receives strong accolades
They have a long-standing reputation for delivering the highest quality
LIVE certified sustainable vineyards and Salmon Safe
“Perfumed nose of spiced cherry, red raspberry, clove, licorice and sandalwood. A bright mouth of red currant and plum lead to a soft, lingering finish.” – Winemaker Luisa Ponzi
92 pts and “Best Buy” from Wine & Spirits
Best of luck as you prepare for your holiday feast with friends and family. If you choose to pour Ponzi Pinot Noir, I think you and your guests will be highly satisfied. Happy holidays!
Beverage Manager/Certified Sommelier and Mixologist
Recommended By the Sommelier at the Union Trust Steakhouse
The Michael David Winery in Lodi California is now producing 18 different types of wine and over 600 hundred acres. The Michael David Petite Petit is a blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot. This Syrah is full bodied and full flavored, but just slightly dry. With hints of fruits and vanilla, this is a rich and beautiful finish, especially for only $15 retail, it’s also a perfect red wine for a steak dinner, as recommended by the Sommelier at Union Trust, the best steakhouse in Philadelphia.
“The vineyards are irrigated by the Mokelumne River, which carries crystal-clear water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, depositing minerals into the rich soils upon which the grapes thrive.” We recommend the Michael David Petit Petite Syrah blend as it’s an excellent buy for $15.
Casillero del Diablo wineries are the most recognized Chilean wine brand and for good reason. There are multiple wines from Diablo available for under $15 and some for even $10. Chilean and Argentinean wines have exploded in popularity, much because of the quality but also because of the price. Simply put, wines from Napa Valley are on average more expensive because of the cost of land and labor. Chile and Argentina have taken advantage of the lower price range but still maintain excellent quality wines. Our featured wine of the week, Casillero del Diablo Syrah, costs about $12 retail and is available throughout the United States. Made by Concha Y Toro wineries, Casillero del Diablo Syrah is flavorful, slightly bitter and complex with hints of chocolate and pepper and perfectly matched with spicy foods, and or red meats. This is a solid wine for about $12. We would definitely drink it again, but probably wouldn’t pay $15 for it. Casillero del Diablo translates to Cellar of the Devil.
Production Area: Rapel Valley, Chile.
Grape Variety: 100% Syrah.
Description: Casillero del Diablo Reserva Syrah is an opaque purple wine with well developed, densely packed black fruit notes on the nose. The palate is round and mouth-filling with ample black cherry, currant and cedar flavors mixed with sweet tannins and finished with lively acidity for balance.
Casillero del Diablo offers wine lovers the very special opportunity to participate in the propagation of a century old legend known throughout the world. In the 19th century, the founder of Concha y Toro, Don Melchor, discovered that his vineyard workers were sampling his greatest wines. To discourage this action, Melchor spread the rumor that his deepest, darkest cellar was the Casillero del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil), so that no one would dare go in there. It worked, and a legend was born. Today this mysterious and legendary cellar continues to hold the finest wines of Casillero del Diablo.