Saturday, December 26, 2009

2007 Paul Dolan Vineyards Chardonnay

I was pleasantly surprised when my shipment of samples arrived from Paul Dolan Vineyards ( to see a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet. I've heard many good things about the winery/wines (organic & biodynamic farming plus named Winery of The Year by the California Tourism Association) and grateful to have the opportunity to taste/blog.

I started with the 2007 Chardonnay. Nice crisp fresh smell on this wine. The pear/citrus aroma stands out at first and next a vanilla/spice combination. As the wine warms in the glass slightly the vanilla jumps right to the front. Light in color. I'm anxious to get started tasting.

Excellent flavor of pear at the start, juicy citrus in the middle followed by creamy vanilla at the finish. Outstanding combination of flavors all in perfect harmony. Just like during the smell as the wine warms, the creamy vanilla now brings itself to the front and finishes with a hint of pear. The flavors in either combination are awesome and you really hate to put the glass down.

Special thank you to Paul Dolan for the opportunity to learn about and taste the 2007 Dolan Vineyards Chardonnay. I truly enjoyed this bottle and will make sure its in my cellar for my friends to enjoy as well in the future. A must for Chardonnay lovers to have on hand.

I encourage you to visit the winery website as it has a wealth of interesting information on green farming. Amazed each time I visit the site I learn something new.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Humor For All

This version of Twas The Night Before Christmas appeared in the Cedar Rapids Gazette courtesy of Mike Dupree before he retired. It makes me laugh every year:
'Twas the night before Christmas for modern St. Nick
Mike Deupree
The Gazette

This column first published Christmas Eve, 1995.
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through our place
Everyone was worn out from the season's rat race.
The cats were sprawled over the couch and the chair,
In the hope that nobody would notice them there.
My wife with her novel, and me with the clicker,
Had just settled down to surf channels and bicker.
When all of a sudden there arose such a racket
I tried to spring up, but I couldn't quite hack it.
What with candy and nuts and the seasonal beverage
The task of arising required too much leverage.
One cat raised an eyelid. A second one stretched.
The third brought up dinner - that is to say, retched.
Away to the window I finally shuffled,
Grunting and groaning, my muttered oaths muffled.
I drew back the curtains, cranked open the sash,
Expecting to see some loud reveler's bash.
Where what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a green snowmobile (I think a John Deere),
More swiftly than eagles, it came from afar.
It didn't have coursers, whatever they are.
Just a sign on the bumper of quite a rough kind:
"If you don't like my driving, call ..." well, never mind.
The man on the saddle was slim and was svelte
With 12 extra holes newly punched in his belt.
He could have been any Tom, Harry or Dick
Except that his vanity plate said "St. Nick."
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane swoop,
To clog up my gutters and flood the front stoop,
So up to the rooftop he guided his sled
And soon cursing and pounding rang o'er my head.
I yelled out to tell him he'd made a mistake:
"The fireplace burns gas. The chimney's a fake."
A moment of silence. An embarrassed pause.
Then there at the back door he stood: Santa Claus.
He was dressed head to toe in some kind of synthetic
And I scarce recognized the famed peripatetic.
His beard showed no white, except at the roots,
"L.L. Bean" said his coat, "Eddie Bauer" his boots.
No pipe in his teeth, no fur at his wrist,
A non-smoker now, an animal rightist.
No spectacles either, which quite puzzled me.
"Contact lenses?" I asked; "No," he said, "surgery."
"Come in, have a snack," I said, offering a plate.
"For an elf of your years, you look jolly great."
He shot a quick glance to see if I teased.
Reassured that I meant it, he looked very pleased.
"I work out a lot, and I watch what I eat,"
He said, shunning my cookies and gnawing a beet.
Without further ado, without stopping to ask,
He stepped over the cats and went straight to his task.
No toys did he have in his big, bulky stash;
Gift vouchers instead, as well as some cash.
When I mentioned to him that this seemed passing strange,
He said it was due to societal change.
People know more these days, sensitivity's heightened,
Compared to the days when we weren't so enlightened.
"It's not right," he explained, "when fathers and mothers
"Make personal choices for all of the others."
Then putting a finger aside of his nose,
He glanced at the gas fire and looked really hosed.
With a "hasta la vista," he dashed out the door,
Leaped astride his machine, started up with a roar.
I ran out behind him, and ere he could vanish
I asked him a question .
"There's just one more thing, and I really must hear it.
"With all of this change, what's the new Christmas spirit?"
He eased off the throttle to make himself heard
And - I swear his eyes twinkled - he gave me the word.
"It's the same as it was when you got your first toy.
"It's family and giving; it's love and it's joy."
With that he was gone in a deafening din.
It would be 12 long months ere we saw him again.
But I heard him exclaim, as he zoomed on his way,
"Happy solstice to all, and you have a nice day!"

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. Can't thank you enough for following the blog, your wonderful comments and some super samples to taste and write. Many of you introduced me to wineries, winemakers and blogs of your own. You accepted me into your "wine community" and I am grateful for your help and friendship.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Port Tasting Benz Beverage Depot

Have to first thank my friend Jared (his brother Matt also) for the invite to his store Benz Beverage Depot 10 ports for tasters and I can honestly say I have only had port once in my life. I had no idea what to expect which had me a little scared. What I found throught the night is there are small differences between each but to me with the exception of some being smooth or softer flavor, most were the same. I'm sure its my lack of drinking but I did like each and every one of them.
The night started with the Ferreira White Port which I liked very well. Slight caramel flavor and sweet. We quickly headed to the table with the most expensive bottle a Summit Lake Clair Riley Zinfandel Port Howell Mountain Ca 2001. Holy crap this was smooth and rich and only $106.00 per bottle. I could have stopped right there but next came the Niepoort 10 year Old Tawny Port from Portugal. Nice fruity/nut flavor and only $47.99 per bottle. Next the d'Arenberg Vintage Shiraz Port Australia 2001. Slight spice to this one and warmed me up nicely ($35.99 per bottle). DeKrans Cape Tawney Port S Africa was in line to try and this was much more full flavored. Toffee and spice were the 2 flavors I identified most. $15.29 per bottle seemed like a steal. 2 more to go and then the next table was in sight but Brown Estate "Arrested" Zinfandel Port Napa Valley 2006 was really good. Smooth as silk, fruit and spice. $44.99 per bottle we all really liked this one as well and Kim decided this would be her purchase. We also all commented how arrested fit her perfectly. That's another topic. Finally I finished table one with Cedar Ridge Vineyards Port Lot 6 which I've had and is made right in Cedar Rapids Iowa. Made from Cedar Ridge grapes and fortified in it's own brandy, priced at $16.39. Sadly at this point the flavors are all running together.
The final table I'll run through fairly quickly as I had a hard time picking up the different flavors. The Ferreira Ruby Port $12.99, Ferreira Tawny Port $12.99, Ferreira 10yr Port $19.99, Quinta do Crasto 1997 Vintage Port $46.59 and finally the Broadbent Auctio Reserve Port $19.99.
Favorite of the night was obviously the Summit Lake followed by Browne Estate, Niepoort 10 and finally d'Arenberg. I commented how nice a port would be sipping out on the patio with friends including cigars or on a cold winter night in front of the fireplace. I liked the them all but I will need to review more of them one at a time to gain a better understanding of ports.

2006 Ceja Vineyards Pinot Noir Carneros

My 1st sample from Amelia Ceja was awesome and the 2nd was just as good. The 2006 Pinot Noir was an excellent wine and one where I wished the bottle would never end.
Straight from the cellar into the glass I could smell the aroma of plum, dark cherry (love cherry) and finally spice. What impressed me was how those aroma's married together. When the wine warmed slightly the cherry/spice combination was dominant and honestly I could smell the wine all day vs tasting (yes that would be crazy and glad you are all awake).
Excellent wine folks. Dark cherry followed by a hint of plum and then finishes nicely with spice. Each taste the cherry can always be identified start to finish. Amazing smooth wine which I rank up at the top of my list as favorite Pinot's. Ceja wine is a must to have on hand and serve for holiday gatherings.
Finally a huge thank you to Amelia Ceja for allowing me the opportunity to taste/blog Ceja Vineyard wines. I've become a huge fan and you will as well.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

2007 Ceja Vino de Casa Red Wine

I had the pleasure last night of enjoying a wonderful bottle of wine courtesy of samples sent to me by Amelia Ceja of Ceja Vineyards. The 2007 Vino de Casa is a blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah to which Amelia commented "I'm delighted you enjoyed our breakfast, lunch and dinner wine."I will describe what characteristics I liked in a moment, but the story behind the family and the wine really touched me.

Ceja Vineyards website tells the story of a man's dream to one day own his own vineyard but more importantly his family was involved along the way. Pablo Ceja had found a beautiful place in America (St Helena in Napa Valley), fell in love and one day would move his family to California. In 1967 the dream became reality and the family moved to California. The Ceja family was growing in numbers as the years past but true to their values they all contributed working together. Because of what happened in 1983 we as wine drinkers in my opinion are spoiled as this is when Pedro, Amelia, Armando, Pablo and Juanita purchased their first small piece of land. The vineyard had begun. Today there are over 113 acres producing grapes for their wine production. Family is still very important with new generations of Ceja's working the family business. While I touched on some of the highlights of the Ceja history I hope you visit their website and read their entire story start to where they are today. I hope it touches you and reiterates how important family is especially during the holiday season. Now you all want to know how I liked the wine :)

When I poured my first glass the wine gave the appearance of richness and smooth as glass. The juicy cherry was the first aroma, fresh and ripe. Second I could smell rich dark fruit (dark cherry/berry, plum), a perfect balance of spice and a hint of oak. Excited and time to taste.

I enjoyed this wine by itself. The cherry flavor is outstanding at the beginning followed closely by what I would categorize as a combination black cherry/berry, followed by spice and a smooth silky finish. With each drink the flavors compliment each other perfectly and leaves you wanting more. My compliments to Armando, Amelia and all the staff for a wonderful wine. I will need to have a bottle of this wine on hand to share with friends and celebrate as the Ceja's would.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2008 TLC Chardonnay Argentina

I was so impressed by this unoaked chardonnay at the wine tasting before thanksgiving I wanted to try another bottle at home in a controlled environment (multiple wines tasted when this was offered). Found Old Dan really enjoys both oaked and unoaked chardonnays.
Poured into the glass and the apple really hits you followed by a nice orange citrus. Nice fruity aroma, excellent light color and looks like a nice summer wine.
Yes the first drink was like an old friend. So much fruit in every taste, crisp and light. First the apple fills your mouth followed by the orange citrus and then a tickel of cantalope (yes I said cantalope). Flavor is awesome and no oak. If your a chardonnay fan I promise you will like this wine.