Category Archives: Wine

Just an update

I’m currently slogging through the middle of my latest rewrite, fighting the “Muddle in the Middle.” It doesn’t help that my coffee shop is playing the XM seasonal channel, so instead of my usual Rat Pack crooners, I’ve heard Feliz Navidad 12 times in the past 3 weeks, which apparently makes me want to eat nachos and attack innocent bystanders with a meat hammer. I’m going to spend the weekend away from the book so I can get some fresh perspective next week.

LocationsFOn the bright side, I’m feeling good enough to drink wine, and my friend Jose has announced his bottle–or in this case bottles–of the year. The Locations F-1 and E-1 by Dave Phinney. I opened a bottle of the aromatic F-1 last night and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ancient Alien Viruses

I returned from Demicon last weekend and was immediately incapacitated with the worst stomach flu of all time.

I spent most of the week watching Ancient Aliens, a program which contends that every mystery of the ancient world can be answered by aliens. Sounds good to me. Although, I have to wonder that if ancient aliens were so prevalent, why we haven’t found at least one microprocessor. I mean, you can barely spit without hitting one these days, and we’ve only made it to the moon.

Being sick made me think about all of life’s little hassles, and the need for complications and tension in stories. It seems like the two would go hand-in-hand, like peanut butter and bananas. However, for some reason, this isn’t true. People expect tension, but only if that tension is related to the character arc, the plot, or a subplot.

In The Last Boyscout, Bruce Willis finds out his best friend is sleeping with his wife. This seems like character-building unrelated to the plot until his best friend’s car blows up because it was parked outside his house all night. This takes about 3 minutes to happen in the movie, He ends up showing what a boyscout he really is by avenging the death of the friend who slept with his wife to satisfy his personal code of justice.

Putting a random stomach flu on a protagonist just wouldn’t make for a good story. Maybe it’s because of what I write, but I don’t think people want to read about things that can happen to anyone in real life. It might work for some comic relief with a secondary character though. Regular vomiting could work as a running gag.

Pun Intended


That’s it for tonight, ladies and gentlemen. Try the veal.

Columbia Crest H3 Merlot 2008

I haven’t written about a wine for a while, not because I haven’t been drinking them, but because I haven’t been drinking much that was new.

H3 or Horse Heaven Hills 2008 is a lush, smooth Merlot, well rounded for it’s age. The nose is mild with blackberries and a hint of something earthier. The texture is smooth and lush with no discernible hint of tannin. The blackberry/raspberry carries through, maybe adding a hint of cherry. The berry mix continues into the finish which is understated, but surprises with its longevity.

The most endearing quality of this wine is drinkabiliy. While it is not overly challenging, it holds a nice complexity which keeps my interest. It might not be a must-have, but it is definitely nice for a change.

Wine tasting last night.

I have to admit, being a socially awkward farm boy, I don’t usually like tastings. There are lots of people to bump into. My ineptitude for foreign language and knowledge of varietals is pushed to its limit just to ask for the next wine. And eventually, the vino loosens my tongue and I end up having a stilted conversation with a complete stranger. They are, however, one of the better opportunities to learn about wines.

Last night’s tasting at Vineria was a nice change. Things were a little slow and relaxed, probably not so good for their bottom line but much better for my nerves. I got a chance to talk a little more with the experts, which is always fun. I’m even getting a little better at asking for “the Petite Sirah” vs. “that one,” so I don’t feel like a complete cretin.

I hate taking lots of notes while I’m busy drinking wine, but I’ll do my best to remember what I tried.


The first wine I tried was this Callia Alta Torrontes 2010, Argentina. I found it subtle for a Torrontes, a little less floral with more fruit. There was some nice melon in the nose.


By far, my favorite white was this Frisk Prickly Riesling 2010, Australia. Prickly is the right word for this wine. It had a nice complexity for a sweet Riesling. I’ll probably be buying this one.


I guess I wasn’t very imaginative when it came to reds. The two I liked the most were both wines which I’ve bought before.


I probably like this Senda 66 Tempranillo 2008, Spain because it tastes like cherry cola, and I grew up on cherry cola. Still, if you like a semi-sweet cherry flavor, this is definitely one to try.


This Allegrini Palazzo De La Torre 2007, Italy has a lot going on for it. It is not only enjoyable to drink, but also, it’s partially made with dried grapes, so it has the novelty of being made with a different process. Still, if it weren’t drinkable, I wouldn’t care how they made it.


As things were winding down, Jose pulled out this Gulfi Nerobaronj Nero d’Alvola 2006, Italy. This was my first time trying nero d’alvola grapes, which are the “most important red wine grape in Sicily.*” This is a beautiful wine, good enough to make me consider upping my wine budget.


Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz 2010

Having a friend who owns a wine shop means that every once in a while, you get in on the good stuff.

If you enjoy a fruity Australian Shiraz and don’t mind spending $85 a bottle, this Mollydooker Carnival of Love is one to try. The color was absent, in that it was so completely dark, I might as well have been looking into an inkwell. In fact, you might want to drink this one under subdued lighting, as we all walked away with stained tongues and teeth. To me it tasted of boysenberry. Other people picked out blueberry and raspberry, and as Tom aptly called it, “All the IHOP syrup flavors.” Though you might expect so much fruit and sweetness to be an uncontrolled monster, there was a cohesive balance which gave in a disciplined power. There may have been some tannin, but not enough for me to worry about. The finish lingered pleasantly.

This wine is everything I like about Australian wine making. It’s bold, and unapologetic.I would rate this an “I’m not worthy.” Wine Spectator gives it a 94. I’m not arguing. Oops. Turns out that 94 is for the 2009 vintage, but Jose gives it a 95.

Also today, I learned about the dooker shake.

Hardys Tawny Port Whiskers Blake

Whisker’s Blake throws me for a bit of a loop. Other people who review it talk about the rich chocolate, caramel, and coffee, which are there in the nose and on the tongue, but no one talks about the oak. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing. I know some people don’t like to taste too much oak, but when mixed with the sweetness of Whisker’s Blake, it provides an odd contrast which makes me want to pick up a bottle occasionally.

Anyway, to round out the basics, Whiskers Blake has a light ruby color. The nose is caramel. It tastes of oak, caramel, and coffee  It’s sweet without being syrupy.It finishes dry. And here, it runs about $15, not a bad price for a port. It might not be to everyone’s liking, but I would give it an 88.

Domaine Puig Parahy Cotes du Roussillon Georges 2007

Capitalism might have its failings, but what a wonderful world we live in where a beautiful wine born in the sunny south of France, can be aged, bottled, and retailed in the heartland of America for under $15.

Georges (50% Carignan – 40% Black Grenache – 5% Mourvèdre – 5% Syrah) is grown on old vines rooted in sandy limestone. In the  The nose is smoky with a mineral tinge, like burning cedar needle. I can only describe what happens next as a roller-coaster ride. At first, the wine is velvety on the tongue, but the flavor builds in intensity to a strong, peppery tartness which rides into the finish before settling into smooth mineral. Gliding into the station, as soon as my car comes to a complete stop, I am ready to exit and get back in line.

Trivento Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

I like Cabs. I like them fruity. I like them oaky. I like them young. I like them aged. France, Australia, California, or South America I like Cabs.

This Trivento Reserve is a fine Cabernet, especially for its quite reasonable price. It can be had for $9 here in Iowa, and I’m not the only one who likes it. Wine Enthusiast gives it a well-deserved 90 points. Lately, this has been my go-to Cab, both because of the price and flavor. I could go into all the details about the fruit flavor, the umami, or the sweet cherry finish, but I think I can best some up my feelings on this wine by what I said after I pour out the first glass to breathe. I noticed a drop running down the side of the bottle, wiped it off with my finger, licked my finger clean and said, “Yum.”

Chateau Simard Bordeaux 1999

On hearing that I’d had a bad day, my friend Jose, prince of a man that he is, pulled a bottle of this wonderful Chateau Simard Bordeaux down from the shelf and put it in a bag for me. I know that I really should save it for a rainy day or a special occasion, but today seemed rainy enough, so I opened it.

Wow, this is the smoothest wine I’ve ever had right out of the bottle. The nose is mineral, but very faint, almost a mineral water. If my color-blindness does not deceive me, the core is a deep ruby. On tasting, a strong but elusive cedar hits mid-palate. Any tannic qualities are smooth to the point of non-existence. Other than the cedar, this wine screams subtlety. It holds a faint hint of the fruit, but has also started to pick up the leather and tobacco flavors  of a more mature wine. However, the mature flavors are subtle, more like walking into a study which as been closed up for several years and contains only the memory of the aromas, rather than standing too close to a dirty biker. The long finish of crushed leaves and mineral is palpable.

Today’s Wine

Marques de Caceres Dry Rose 2008

My friend, Jose, is a pusher. He wants everyone in the world to learn about wine. A while ago, he asked me for help with his web presence. I insisted that I didn’t like wine, but he kept giving me a bottle here and a bottle there, insisting that I try a new vintage when I was in the store, slowly training my palate, so that I could appreciate the more complex flavors. Now I am hooked.

This Marques de Caceres is a great summer wine. It has the airiness of a rose, but the earthiness of a Granache, which is the red part of the blend. The cost is low, but properly chilled, it is very enjoyable.