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Month November 2006

The Right Glass; the Right Wine – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

The Right Glass; the Right Wine

I was skeptical when I thought that a specific glass was meant for one possibly two varietals. It sounded too gimmicky; like something a manufacturer might do to sell more stemware. And after reading often that a wine is best served in it’s best vessel might have some credence.  Not totally convinced I test drove Burgundy glasses with and a bottle of Pinot Noir.  I tasted my precious Pinots in a non-Burgundy glass and then in a Burgundy stem. My first brand purchased was the infamous Riedel brand. I couldn’t help notice a remarkable and impactful flavor that delivered to my tongue the best that Pinot had to offer. The other glass – a funky angular wine glass seemed to splash my Pinot through my mouth like I was just trying to rinse my mouth and not delivering this nectar to where my Pinot loving taste buds could taste a difference.  I read that one of the devices of a good wine glass was not only it’s shape the bulb but a thin precious rim; that rim unlike a cheap glass allows for direct delivery to your Pinot specific receptors (I made this up) but what I didn’t make up was the fact that this guidance from my wine glass I believes optimizes what I should be enjoying.  Drinking a wine is only half the experience; smell accounts for 75% of how we perceive and delight (or hopefully in rare cases) don’t enjoy.

My next set was a Chardonnay glass; I didn’t need to prove that my Chardonnay glasses were superior. I just knew they were. I enjoyed the delicate and power that many a Carneros Chardonnay can provide in the enjoyment spectrum. I wish I had the room to have every stem possible. I believe in utilizing the right wine glass to it’s perfectly shaped vessel.

I think almost all wine is expensive (even cheap wine); what I mean by this is that wine ounce per ounce is precious and is much more expensive that say beer, water or orange juice; I deserve the best glass.  If only I had enough room for Montrachet-Chardonnay, Zinfandel/Chanti Cognac, Scotch Whiskey, Rioja, Sauvignon Blanch, and Sauternes stems I would without a thought.

Reidel is probably the name brand more people know more than any other glass. I love them greatly. But for me these glasses break almost just with a thought or a bit of touch when cleaning. I have accidentally broken many a stem while trying to clean them. Even though Riedel now owns Spiegelau. I favor my Spiegelau’s; I find they aren’t so touchy and are much more durable than any other Reidel product that I have owned.

I also have a soft spot for Schott Zwiesel because they are true work horses just like Spiegelau. They will break if you drop them but I feel better when I don’t bye Reidel.

Whatever you do don’t buy a cheap wine glass!  And, secondly, make sure that your wine glass is designed for the varietal you are about to enjoy.  I do think the size, and the delivery of flavor makes only for a wonderment of any evening.  Do a test try out a Spiegelau today and see for yourself.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions from around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2006 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Aleph Mendoza Malbec – 2004 – 9.2 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

Aleph makes an equally impressive Cabernet Sauvignon.  This Malbec was incredibly focused; this wine never strayed from initial nose to final finish. The finish for me is a truth teller: it tells me if it was a well crafted wine and the structure of the fruit. This wine is packed with crushed blueberry, Cardamom, fresh allspice, and picked Eucalyptus.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions from around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2006 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Navarro Correas Limited Release Mendoze Malbec – 2004 – 9.1 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

Believe it or not there are some very mediocre Malbecs.  But this is not one of them.  Malbecs unless they are given the utmost in care may never reach their sterling heights.  Luckily this Bodega produces a deep and rich Malbec.  Wonderful notes of exotic spice, crusty bread, blueberry, and cedar.

¡Salud!

***

Now, more than 700 wine reviews. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2009 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved

Oremus Tokaji LH – 2000 – 9.2 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

This is an outstanding value for Tokaji. You can rarely ever say Tokaji and value in the same context. Tokaji can be said to be the true nectar of the gods. It is sweet but not overly so; it is delicate honeyed, slightly viscous, fresh, light, candied but in a delivery that makes one glass to few. This Tokaji is brilliantly balanced whose sugar cone, honey and butter crisped confection meet each other for a spectacular Tokaji. I can’t wait to get my hands on any vintage.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions from around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2006 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Viña Como Sur Chile Pinot Noir – 2006 – 7.0 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

I am always looking for the next Pinot Noir; I am not married to the wondrous California Pinots or even New Zealand Pinots. I am specifically not married to high price low to mediocre quality.  I see a Pinot that just says California and I am instantly turned off; these delicate jewels (Pinot berries) could anywhere in California. Pinot I need not reiterate again and again are delicate and only have a limited area from which they can mature. Chilean Pinots which are not as numerous as California, New Zealand and for that matter Oregon have never been a hit with me.  I have tried Chilean Pinot after another and have found them elusive. This Pinot was ultra vitreous and overly jewel toned.  I was suspicious.  The nose was somewhat promising.  But the final test the taste was a great disappointment.  I though it was not the spectacular flavor spectrum that a Pinot should give; a sense of nighttime, elegance, romance… you enjoy each droplet more than the previous.  This bottle shown weak fruit and some slight sour notes.  I am a loyal but demanding Pinot drinker.  My reason is that life is too short for less than wondrous Pinots. I will keep an open mind to find a Chilean Pinot that I will find meet heart with soul.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions from around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2006 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Concannon Central Coast Petite Sirah – 2005 – 8.4 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

Petite Sirah is one of those wines that can easily be a hit or miss. Most often is not the wine that I am going to seek out; rarely is it so. I find Petite Sirah highly inconsistent; sometimes the flavors are too much; not in the spicey way but in a barn yardish way or even worse in a non-descript even slighty waterish finish. Luckily this Petite Sirah by Concannon was not like that. I found nice tannins with a ease of enjoyment in it’s fruit forward posture accented with blueberry and hint of boysenberry and white pepper.

***

Now, more than 700 wine reviews. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2009 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved

James the Wine Guy – My Winery Rating System – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

I am often asked about what wineries to visit when in one of many wine countries.  And that is an interesting question, a personal question about what one seeks from a winery experience.

It’s like asking a most personal question on many variables; those variables are what do you seek and what do you want from a wine country experience that will elevate your heart and soul.  After all there is no one-size-fits-all with wines or wineries or many other things.

When you hear the word “wine country” there is an almost immediate expectation of an outstanding experience that is emblazoned on your person.  It is almost seeking the magical and to transport you to a place, a time of the utmost in great wines and great feelings.

In my review, I take into account a few of these variables and many more:

–       The wineries specialization

–       Tours offered

–       Wines produced

–       Winery and vineyard grounds

–       Pouring-staff (knowledge, welcoming, selling)

–       Winemaker(s) vision

–       Cost of experience (tasting room fees)

–       Does the winery encourage visiting other wineries (i.e. make recommendations?)

–       Tasting room (gifts, wines)

–       Tasting room collateral material (do you have a tasting notes sheet—so you can recall what you enjoyed)

Is your wine country journey extended or does it come to an abrupt end?  This review process is just that—there is no final word and like vintages of wine tasting rooms and wineries and they will be updated over time.

Like my wine reviews, I use a 10-point scale system.  While 8.0 to 8.9 is good (it should be read as good getting to nearly great).  But ranking in the 9.0 to 10.0 is great to exquisitely great.  This scale is logarithmic and each tenth of a point is harder to get then the next and that there should be fewer as we get to 10.

And now there are many tasting rooms sans winery across the country in urban landscapes.  There is nothing like tasting wine and when you can taste for yourself tasting does become believing and doing so in it’s birthplace also deserves some thoughts as well.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2006 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

¡Salud!

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Cork; Screwcap or Artificial Cork – A Great Debate? – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

I am asked often what is preferred–cork, screwcap or artificial cork?  I do think that the hype of corked wine (wine that has expired due to cork failure) is over inflated.  I am not sure that 10% which is a number often cited as a percentage of corked wine is accurate.  I open up hundreds of bottles of wine per year and the number of corked wines I have experienced is certainly well under 10%.

I do enjoy and terribly so opening up a bottle via a traditional cork.  I like the challenge of opening it; I like the pop and it feels like the effort I should undertake to enjoy each bottle of wine I am to experience.  And if I cannot have a cork I will gladly take a screwcap. A screwcap is easy to open and in my opinion too easy to open a bottle of wine. I do like a challenge.  But the screwcap does not misflavor the wine; a synth cork truly is a terrible way to cap a wine.  The flavor leaves any wine completely off.  There is a plastic flavor that is imparted on the wine.  A synth cork is noticeable, for me, on the finish and it is most unpleasant.  I will always knock a point off of the wine I am reviewing by a whole point (on a ten grade scale) if it was capped with an artificial cork.

A wine maker that I see occasionally loves the synth cork and wants to switch her premium wines to synth cork; I have of course given my thoughts but I think it is a pure economic situation why she feels this way. So don’t be afraid of a screwcap but do avoid an artificial cork.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions from around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2006 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Vinicola Hidalgo Pedro Ximenez Viejo – 9.3 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

This amazing wine is one of a legacy of wines that deserves a try from all wine lovers. Raise your glass and give their best toast to one of the world’s most under-rated wines – Sherry.  This wine is special and like other Sherry’s are one of the most difficult wines to make in the wine making kingdom.  This particular bottle of PX is so smooth and so rich and your finished taste is not just a flood of sweet but a delicate balance between sweet notes all the way through to a slight warmth.  On first sip your tongue might be overwhelmed but the initial packets of molasses give way to caramel, creamy honey; and I don’t swallow this wine immediately I suspend this and savour this for 60 seconds.  Pedro Ximenez is a wine whose enjoyment cannot be compared; it is sublime; it is a nectar of the Gods.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions from around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2009 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

The Expression of the State of Wine and Varietals – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

I asked an industry professional what they thought about wine; it’s like asking a mathematician about their thoughts on numbers.  It’s something fundamental to each discipline.  What I got back was “wine is all the same.”  I had expected a profound statement from my query.  I asked if this was a joke—and found the deafening silence the answer.  I immediately thought how unfortunate for this person, especially someone in the industry, to be so uninterested and pretty much missing all of the wondrous aspects of wine.  I am grateful that all wine is not the same and even more grateful that all wine doesn’t taste like a Pinotage or Retsina!  Pinotage I haven’t been able to acquire a taste and I think Retsina is just getting use to a piney tasting wine but possible.  I am grateful that wine in it’s splendor all have marked distinctions.  But, wine, most can agree is a wondrous thing.  I am so glad a Viognier doesn’t taste like Sauvignon Blanc or a Grüner Veltliner.  I am enamored with Argentine Malbecs with it’s boldness and spiciness.  I melt when I inhale a Sauternes or Tokaji.  I would imagine that if gold had a flavor and scent it would be Sauternes.  These feelings I have are a deeper notion about wine; what wine is about and that is an enjoyment of wine with your loved ones and it is also a senses delight of flavors and scents and colours that seem familiar and yet distant and nearly inexplicable.  That is the beauty of wine.

And here is what I mean by the familiar and the exemplary—each wine experience is about compound flavors and notes–here are some of my favourite notes: chocolate, cardamom, nutmeg, butter, lime, peach, blackberry, coffee, blueberry, fig, almond, pineapple, terroir, molasses, cherry, strawberry, brown sugar, marjoram, citrus, crème brulée, caramel, green apple, black pepper, underbrush, cedar, apricot, lemon, curry, eucalyptus, melon, toast, red currant, anise, rose petal, plum, cut grass, allspice, wood spice, smoke, eucalyptus, mint, orange zests, papaya, candied fruit, litchi, tar, tarragon, comice pear, maple, mineral, pine, grapefruit, dark chocolate, vanilla, ground clove, suede, passion fruit, earth, rose petal, toffee, green tea, blood orange, raisin, herbaceous, licorice, espresso, pomegranate, seared plum, dried leaves, cooked cherry, honeydew, nectarine, kiwi, cola, dried cocoa, hazelnut, sage, sassafras, beeswax, roasted red pepper, watermelon, cantaloupe, quince, yeast, gooseberry, fennel, fleshy pear, tangerine, jasmine, honeysuckle, juniper, guava, carnation, gardenia, candied orange, coconut, mushroom, violet, prune, sour cherry, streamed mineral, boysenberry, boot polish, leather, roasted game, cassis, truffle, cedar box and these attributes set one varietal or blend against
another.

Ahh and Pinot Noir… the most delicate and fussy of all varietals.   It is a miracle we get to enjoy it at all.  Given that Pinot is thin skinned and is easily susceptible to any pestilent; too much water, sun, rain… anything that can go wrong with this grape can and does.  Hence that is why I loved the movie “Sideways” and it’s chief protagonist Miles gives a captivating and eloquent speech on his love for Pinot; which unto itself is curious a wine geek in love with Pinot—I always thought he would be a Bordeaux or Rhone devotee—instead his pick is still curious and self-descriptive.  When Pinot Noir is good it is great; it is eloquent, dashing, and soft-spoken yet self-assured.  And when Pinot is bad it’s really bad—vinegar.  My pulse increases when I see a Pinot from my beloved Sonoma Coast.  It is ruby toned and the darkest shade of opaque.  The wafting of the scent is un-describable and something you not certain if you should drink or spray on your wrists.

But the beauty of wine is not just of a varietal but also great wine making we have today.  Wine is not always a singular proposition.  Sometimes it is a 100% of this or that but there is a beauty blending.  There is beauty in aging—yes vintage is indeed important.  And some based on the constituents in the juice can make for lovely and dynamic wine that you can cellar and often enjoy right away.  The love for wine is a bittersweet one as well.  A corked wine certainly disappoints but how about that wine that you have only one glorious bottle and it is 10 years old; it is unexpectedly balanced and softened yet has a flavor dynamic that cannot be purchased just anywhere. It is bittersweet moment because you have that one bottle and that is it!

And there is no one “perfect time” to open a bottle; the perfect time might be anytime; well non-working hours.  Open a bottle of champagne once a week; celebrate in the artistry of the winemaker; celebrate your life with such a precious of all beverages. I enjoy a bottle of Champagne or sparkling once a week.  And yes I pair my special bottle of glorious vintage Champagne and enjoying that with caviar or a smooth and light triple cream cheese.  But if I am having a sparkling wine I might enjoy it with pizza or Chinese take away.  Don’t be a perfectionist about opening a bottle of wine.  The question is what taste do you want?   That is when you open a bottle of wine.

I love the story of wine; the long timeline wine has in recorded history and that it is only in a very short period of time and that time is now that wine making has been nearly revolutionized in quality.  You would certainly notice a remarkable experience with a Champagne today then you would have during Madame Clicquot’s time; you would say ‘how sweet it is’ but today you have a choice from bone dry to surprisingly sweet—the choice is yours and how nice it is to have a choice.  Quality and innovation is what makes wine exciting and highly differentiated from varietal, state of wine (sparkling, fortified, still), and vintage to mark some differences in wine
profiles.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions from around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2009 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy