Thursday, January 3, 2008

The search for Nebbiolo whole and crushed begins

Last week I started reaching out to my online community, and the growing community. My goals were twofold:

1. Find some great Barbaresco's, Barolo's, and other Nebbiolo based wines to consume in a manner that would educate me on what ot look for. When I find these lovelies or not so lovelies I will share my findings here. The format will be to taste them fresh then every ten minutes until there is a settling point for the wine. Sometimes Aisha and I will taste together, and sometimes we will be joined by others. When something truly magical arrives, I will hunt down the Brix at crush, the PH and acidity, and if possible the person who did the work. I will share this education as well.

2. Find Nebbiolo grapes in Central/Northern California. My desired quantity is 500lbs, so I can make about 15 cases, perhaps two different ways. I am willing to buy as much as a ton, although this could be risky since that means I am committing to about 60 cases. I better get it right if that is what I do.

So in the first week I reached out to a Vineyard in Paso Robles, a Grower in Albany my LinkedIn community, and a few other blogs across the sphere. Regarding the grapes, I was ignored by the Vineyard thus far, the grower, Brehms, informed me that they might not have Neb's to sell this year, thus the hunt continues. My LinkedIn community has turned me on to a few leads for wine, a Canadian winery, and a couple of experts in Italian wine. I also was turned on to a gentleman who recruits for the industry that says he can point me to some Neb lovers.

So as the hunt continues I am going to share my story, and what comes of it. I feel that for a week long stint, the path looks cluttered but visible. I would ask the few of you that have checked out the blog from Italy (Yes I can see who comes to my blog, man this net thing just keeps getting better), to comment on some good wines. I want to drink them....badly. For now, I am going to go to my "guy" at the best wine shop in Santa Cruz. He is more of a Zinfandel/Cab/Syrah guy, but he has never steered me wrong. I should have a couple of tastings to share this weekend. Until then, Ciao!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What a wonderful New Year, some other wine tasted

I just wanted to share with everyone what a wonderful New Years Eve we had! While no Nebbiolo was offered, we did drink lots of big bountiful Zinfandel's, Cab's, and Syrah's. Our host, as all hosts should be was generous with his many wines from Paso Robles, Napa, and the Central Coast.

My two favorites:

Jessup 2002 Zinfandel Napa - Rich and creamy, the most butter I have had in a Zinfandel in a long time. The nose was a vibrant explosion of blackberry and pepper that made it hard to pull your nose from the glass. The complexity of the aromas as the wine slid across your tongue was near erotic. Simple sneaks of licorice and oak jumped past and the strong berries and left a long pleasant finish. A GREAT ZINFANDEL THAT I RECOMMEND!

Tobin James 2004 James Gang Reserve Syrah– While it was a nice long lasting chewy wine that help up nicely in the glass, it left a little too much fruit lingering for me to call is spectacular. Rich pepper and raspberry with a bit of chocolate. It was pleasant in the glass and honestly was the second best wine of the night. It just did not have the complexity that the Jessup had.

We had an amazing meal of Prime Rib and sides. The host owns a meat distributor so he had one of his customers stuff the rib line with fresh bacon then pepper the entire rib. It helped to have such bountiful wines as the combinations sung on your tongue.

Anyways, thank you to all of my linked in buddies who have been giving me places to hunt down some Neb’s. We look forward to tasting and sharing again real soon.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year to All - La Loggia 2003 Barolo

Well, it is 6pm on New Year's Eve and Aisha and I are about to go to a friends for a meal and many glasses of wine. We will be drinking Pinot's and Champagne, along with whatever our hosts and other guests bring. I doubt there will be any Nebbiolo grapes in the offing, so not much critiquing will be available.
So what did we do, went to Trader Joes and surprisingly found a $12 Barolo. YES I KNOW IT IS NOT GOING TO BE GOOD, but we promised ourselves we would try every Piemonte wine we could, from the ugly to the sublime. So here goes:
La Loggia 2003 Barolo $12 at Trader Joes:
Fresh from the bottle:
Right out of the bottle it has a ruddy color, no garnet shine as expected from a Barolo. "It looks like blood," Aisha says. It actually looks like blood that is drying up and oxidizing quickly.
Strong acids that tickle the nose and leave little remaining. A slight cherry and pepper behind the assault.
Surprisingly strong and pleasant cherry flavor behind the strong acid and pepper. No oakiness at all, but I hopeful that it could become something. There is a long and satisfying finish that rolls into blackberry. Might we have another steal at $12?
10 Minutes


The nose is losing its acidity quickly, but unfortunately all that remains is pepper tones. No real fruit in the olfactory which is shedding away some of the hope.


There is no real change in the structure and while it has only been ten minutes I am concerned

20 Minutes and beyond

The nose has lost its acid but gained nothing in return. No pleasantries left.

Without any real fruit this wine has widdled down to a peppery flavor that boasts nothing else. It is like a flat Zinfandel with an amazing long finish. Ironically the tongue enjoys the wine much more at about 3-4 seconds from a good chew.


I guess if you wanted to show off, or pretend to, the $12 is good. Otherwise, I have had better wines of EVERY VARIETAL for under $7. It might be good to pour for 20 people 5 minutes after opening so it had no more time to release its boredom.

A poor wine that I hope we never replicate.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

RSS Hugger - A review for a new idea

I have found a site called RSS Hugger and am quite excited. I believe their idea will help bloggers and avid blog readers find more obscure blogs with important content. For those of us who just want to write about our passions, and not get encumbered with advertising gimmicks, this seems cool.

They will definitely grow from viral marketing as all of us continue to talk about them, but hey good ideas can come from anywhere.

Anyways, here is there link, and now back to the wine...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Wine Review 1: Barbaresco "Che Storia" 2003

Our first official post will be a wine review, and as we move through the months towards grape buying and crush, we will attempt to put many different wines in front of you. In my online travels, I have found a great blog site called,, and here is a link to a great podcast on the Nebbiolo grape

We start with a $12 Barbaresco from Trader Joes. It is the Barbaresco “Che Storia” 2003. As a reminder, I we will sample the wines like a maker, fresh from the bottle and as it develops in a decanter.

Fresh from the bottle:

The wine is dark and a bit ruddy in color. It has a nice nose, a bit acid. Strong strawberry and licorice tickles the nostrils. The first taste pulls velvety and long from the glass. Chewy and big with more of the licorice. Real oaky flavor. I cannot wait to see what breathing does.

Ten minutes:

The nose has softened; more cherry than strawberry now. The licorice is still strong but velvety instead of a tickle. Still a long full drink. Big and chewy but the acid has softened. Breathing well and holding its flavor.

Twenty minutes:

Fully matured, soft and a well. A good table wine and a GREAT VALUE. Nothing special or overly complex but the smokey oak, potent and long lasting licorice and consistent cherry flavor sit on your tongue long after the sip is gone. Delicate and fun finish.

Thirty minutes:

The last of the bite has left and all of the bouquet is left. Strong bouncy wine that would be great with a hearty meat or tomato sauce.

I have to say for the $12 I expected an overpowering tannin or flat wine. Surprisingly the only major flaw in this wine was the color, which lacked life. Chewing this wine really made for a lot of character and I will buy more for easy drinking with big tasting meals honoring the spice of the wine.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Our excellent adventure begins!

Well our absolutely amazing 14 year old daughter Sasha made a dream come true and bought me a great book for Christmas. For the last year I had been toying with the idea of making my own wine. Sasha bought me "The Way to Make Wine" and in less than 30 hours I digested the tome. Now Aisha my loving wife has had to accept that we are embarking on an adventure. It goes as follows:

At Harvest, we are going to buy a ton of Nebiollo grapes, the wonder fruit that makes the Barbaresca and Barolo's of the Piemonte region of Italy. It is a magical part of the world, and my wife and I dream of retiring there. So why not start emulating their wine.

HOWEVER first things first and we have some work to do! And this is our favorite kind of work: If we are going to make the wines of this storied region, and do it in a respectable manner, first we must taste as many wines from this region as possible. We will honor the tradition and achievements of these grapes, or get a little tipsy trying. We will start with value wines around $10-$15 then work our way up to the legendary vintages of the ages.

I will also share with you my adventures of procuring the grapes, supplies, and anything else that occurs during our romp. I intend to read a lot of books and will give you my opinions on each read. Also, I am going to study enology and pass all of my course knowledge on to you. Finally we will get into the nitty gritty as I record the experience of making wine.

A comment on format:
For each wine we will taste a two ounce pour of a freshly opened bottle, and then 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes from decanting. We I will list price and where it was purchased.

For each book, I will write a review. I am not a book critic, but as an avid reader, a teacher of sales, and a maniacal wine enthusiast, I feel my 2 cents will be if nothing else entertaining.

If you want to join us on this adventure, feel free to comment, they will all be published, as long as they are appropriate. Until the next time, happy sipping!

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