Posts Tagged ‘Ah So’

Works of l’Art

March 31, 2013

Here’s the thing about wine…

From the outside, looking in, it can seem quite intimidating.

People making reference to grapes you’ve never heard of… using a bunch of French and Italian words in a show-offy type of fashion… talking about years that appear to be randomly produced…

I get it.


When you take the time to show interest in wine, people love to share.

They love to share their knowledge.

They love to share their experience.

They love to share their wine.

Today, we visited some family for Easter at my Uncle Art and Auntie Ann’s house.

Uncle Art (l’Art for short), an avid oenophile since the 1970’s, is about to turn 70.  Since a bunch of family was in town, we decided to celebrate his birthday as well.

A few months back, l’Art mentioned to me that he had an old bottle of Ridge that he wanted to share with me the next time we got together.  As you’d imagine, I was pretty stoked when he broke this puppy out…

Normally I don’t show you pictures of the back label, but you gotta check this out…


Bottled 30 years ago, Paul Draper recommended this wine be laid down for 5 years.

And normally I don’t show you what the cork looks like in the bottle, but…


Look at the fully-saturated bad boy!

A cork like this definitely requires an Ah So, but left mine at home.




I got into surgery mode. Only a few small chunks of cork fell into the bottle.


The cork chunks, along with some dope sediment, are why this wine must be gently decanted.


This wine has been slowly oxidizing over the last 30 years, so there’s no need to let this puppy aerate.

Let’s take a look, and dive on in!


Here’s what it looked like in the glass.

Color: As older wines go, it has still retained a lot of its red color, though it does get brownish orange near the edges.

Nose: Beautiful notes of menthol and tobacco leaf with one of those dried out oranges decorated with cloves.

Taste: On the palate, this wine is straight herbaceous.  Forest floor and tobacco leaf for days.  There’s a nice note of dried cranberries that gives an impression of sweetness to this dry wine.

Score: What is most impressive about this Petite Sirah is that 32 years later, the grapes are still bringing these massive tannins.  My feeling is that the wine has the structure to go another 10 years.  This wine is massive, yet subtle in its complexity.  Does anybody else have one of these bottles they’d like to share with me?  94, fa sho!

Almost as impressive as this wine, was that l’Art followed it up by grabbing another bad boy from his cellar…

Color: Light rusty burgundy red.

Nose: Bacon and mushrooms up front, followed by a juicy strawberry component.

Taste: Ripe strawberry on the front palate gives way to leather and mushrooms.  There’s a nice touch of black pepper that is sprinkled throughout.

Score: We were all impressed by the longevity of this wine.  There’s a great acidity to this wine that, along with the balanced backbone of 14.5% alcohol, that kept this wine quite fresh some 15 years after bottling.  93, y’all!

I can’t believe how great these wines were.

They were definitely works of l’Art!

Stay Rad,


What’s the oldest wine you’ve got in your collection?  What’s the best wine somebody else has ever shared with you?  Leave a comment and let us know.

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A fistful of wine. A mouthful of garlic.

August 1, 2011

This past Friday, Kara and I took a quick drive down to Gilroy to see what was going on at the Garlic Festival…

Apparently, a lot.  Check it out…

THE Gilroy Garlic on Fire!

A garlic calamari cooking demo w/ Angelo Sosa.

Up close and personal at Gourmet Alley.

Listening to okay music at an amazing amphitheater.

If you don’t know, Gilroy gets HOT in the summer.  Luckily, the Garlic Festival hosts a wine tent complete with water misters…

The wine tent. Don't mind if I do.

While chillin’ under the tent, I made sure to taste some of what the Santa Clara Valley has to offer.  Here’s the breakdown…

Sarah’s Vineyard 2008 Roussanne: Though with a bit more oak that I would have expected, the crisp acidity made this white the perfect starter to a hot day of wine tasting.

Creekview Vineyards 2008 VCR Merlot: A juicy cherry with wood.  Not bad, but not great.

Martin Ranch Winery 2006 JD Hurley Cabernet Sauvignon: Good red fruit with backbone.  A bit of black olive on the finish.  Very nice.

Satori Cellars 2007 Ha-Ha Petite Sirah: Inky red fruit and chocolate.  Okay.

Fortino Almond Champagne: This is the signature wine of the Santa Clara Valley.  There are quite a few wineries that make something like this.  Though artificial tasting, the almond flavor really rounds out this nice sparkling wine.

During the festival, I did take some time to enjoy the food… I mean… You’ve got to!

The garlic sausage sandwich was off the hook!  When they say garlic, they mean garlic.  Imagine a sausage just loaded with garlic inside of the meat.  Now let’s saute that sausage in a pan with garlic.  Put it on some garlic bread.  Now top it with 4 cloves of chopped and sautéed garlic.  Tasty, but man… My mouth was coated in garlicky goodness for the rest of the day.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

When we got home, I opened up the wine fridge and pulled out this sucker…

Hess Collection 2005 19 Block Cuvee

Here’s the deal…

In 2008, Kara and I took a day trip up to Napa.  We used to make it a habit to stop by the Napa-Sonoma Wine Country Visitors Center just off of highway 29 coming into the Napa Valley.  It’s the perfect spot to stretch your legs just before you make your way to the wineries.  They have a small area for wine tasting, and will give you coupons and recommendations for some of the wineries in the area.

“Have you been to the Hess Collection?” the server asked us.


“Well you MUST go!”

So we did.

Hess is just a bit off of the beaten path, at the top of Mount Veeder.  Once you get there, you’ll be glad you took the trip.

Not only does Hess specialize in making tasty Bordeaux-style wines, but the tasting room is also home to an amazing art gallery.  I will never forget the room that looks like it’s full of giant pieces of dog poop.  I would have taken a picture, but they wont let you… It’s an art gallery thing.

The tasting itself was very nice.  We were just about ready to leave, when our server said to us, “You cannot leave here without trying the 19 Block Cuvee.”

So we did.

And it was good.

So we bought a bottle.

I’m not sure how much we paid for it in 2008, but the current release lists for $36 on the Hess website… So we’ll assume that’s what we paid.  At the time, that was the most we had ever paid for a wine.

So we held onto it… until this last Friday.  That’s over 3 years, if you’re counting.

So let’s talk about it…

One of my fears was that the older cork would crumble if I used a regular screw pull, so I used the Ah So to open this bottle.

The cork in the Ah So.

Next I decanted the wine for a quick 20 minutes…

Decanting on the kitchen cart.

I noticed quite a bit of sediment left in the bottle…

See! If you trusted me, I wouldn't have to show you this.

And now…

The Hess Collection 2005 19 Block Cuvee!

Artsy, but not fartsy.

The 19 Block Cuvee is named after the 19 selected blocks of grapes at the Hess Mount Veeder estate which make up this wine.  It’s made from 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, 9% Malbec, 5% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Vedot.

Color: Deep purple.  Inky.  Almost black.

Nose: Black cherry.  Anise.  Mint.  Wood.  Plum.

Taste: I’m really glad that we opened this wine up on a whim, because it tasted like this wine has reached its peak.  This wine is all about mouthfeel and subtlety.  It’s got these smoothed out tannins that I would not have gotten if I’d have opened it 3 years ago.  It is silky, with hints of lacquered wood.  The fruit has nearly dropped out completely from this wine, but there is a bit of dried cherry skin and chocolate on the finish.

Score: This was an interesting experience.  This wine was very refined.  I felt important while drinking it.  The one thing I felt the 19 Block missed was some sort of creaminess to round it out.  I’m giving it a 90+, but I’m sure it would have been amazing with some vanilla ice cream.

One does have to wonder…

Would my tasting notes be different if I hadn’t eaten a grip of garlic earlier that day?

The world may never know.

Stay Rad,


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