Chateau Montus Madiran 2003

We normally don't review two wines back to back but this time I had to make an exception. A few members of Tex and Gidget's wine crew met at Marche Bacchus for the normal wine tasting they have every Saturday. We sat down for lunch and we had them bring us a blind red wine. In the glass it showed medium to full body with a deep reddish color. the age ring seemed to indicated about 2004-2005 vintage. On the nose there was leather, cassis, musky and very little fruit. Some members also reported high alcohol. One member even suggested alcohol as high as 14%. On the palette the cassis really came through with very strong tannins and very little fruit. Most everyone in the group now agreed we were looking at a Cabernet Sauvignon or a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon. However, there was disagreement on new world vs old world. Most of the group decided on new world but two members decided on a Cabernet Sauvigon Bordeaux blend. The bottle was reveled to us as a Chateau Montus Madiran 2003. This wine is a blend of 80% Tannat and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The alcohol content was an amazing 15.5 % ! . The appellation Madiran is southwestern France in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Bordeaux region. Congratulations to the people in the group that got this one right on !!

Le Petite Vice Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Napa Valley

Elaine and I had the pleasure of running into Allan Nassau, owner of RED ROCK WINES at 55 Degrees Wine Bar in Mandalay Bay. He was pouring some wines from Tin Barn Vineyards by winemaker Mike Lancaster. Allan was also pouring Le Petite Vice Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Napa Valley. This well balanced wine is worth a taste. The Vintner is Patrice Brenton and the consulting winemaker is Paul Hobbs. In the glass it showed medium to full body. On the nose it exhibits classic cedar and tobacco. On the palette the cedar and tobacco merge into black current on the finish. We really enjoyed this wine. Only 525 cases were produced and Allan informed me the winery is sold out. It is here in town so look for it. Robert Parker rated it 90 points.

Dr Konstantin Frank

While attending the Wine Festival we had the opportunity to meet Fredrick Frank President of Dr. Konstantin Frank and taste some award winning wines. Founded in 1962, Vinifera Wine Cellars was the first Finger Lakes winery to produce truly world-class wines. They include: Dry and Semi-Dry Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Rkatsiteli, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and many others. To this day, Dr Frank's wines are known to be world class. Elaine and I really enjoyed the 2006 Rkatsiteli. I had never heard of this varietal until now. It is most widely planted in Russia ,Georgia and Bulgaria and a very small area of New York by Dr Frank

This Varietal produces good-quality wine with high acidity and good sugar levels. We found it to be very floral and had some spice on the nose . We enjoyed this wine so much we brought two bottles back in our suit case.

Dr Frank's Rieslings are highly rated by Robert Parker and Wine Spectator and have won many awards all over the world and in California. And one other bit of news...they can ship to Nevada !! Thank you Fred for your hospitality and letting us try your great wines !

Wagner Vineyards

Wagner Vineyards was one of our first stops along the Seneca Wine Trail. We had the great honor of meeting Bill Wagner who is one of the pioneers of this area.

He opened the vineyard in 1979 . The winery's prime location on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake contributes to the superior quality of the grapes. The unique combination of deep water and sloping hillsides provide a natural temperature moderator, protecting the vines against extreme temperature changes. Over 250 acres of vineyards are currently under cultivation; varieties include Chardonnay, Gew├╝rztraminer, Johannisberg Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Seyval Blanc, Melody, Vignoles, Vidal, Cayuga White, DeChaunac, Delaware, and Niagara. The winery currently produces over 40,000 cases annually.

Bill Wagner also owns a restaurant and microbrewery on site as well. Just as a winemaker friend told me in California " there is nothing like an ice good beer after a long day of wine tasting"If you are in the area this is a must stop ! We just want to say thank you Bill and Cheers !

Finger Lakes Wine Festival 2007

We are back !! and what an exciting stop along our wine trail. For those of you who have not been to the Finger Lakes you must pay this area a visit. We met some fabulous people and tasted many great wines.

The Festival was held in Watkins Glen New York and over 70 wineries from the entire region converged for this three day event. We had appointments on the way down to the festival and we were not disappointed . There are several winemakers in this area that have been hard at work for over 25 years ! The festival even had a Toga party to kick off the event Friday evening.

When we arrived at the Watkins Glen Race Track we saw tents, RVs , and cars for as far as you can see. I thought they were there for a race event ! But as I quickly found out they were there for the festival . There were many large tents that held the wineries as well as seminars that went on throughout the day. The topics covered in the wine seminars was everything from "Riesling Heaven" to "Apple, Blueberry, Cranberry" the ABC's of New York wines. The culinary classes ranged from Food and Wine pairing to Wine and Cheese from the Empire State.

Even though the event was held on Seneca Lake , many wineries from nearby Keuka Lake
and Canadaigua Lake were well represented. Each of the lakes have a wine trail that loops the entire lake. Guests who visit the area can see where the wine is made and meet the people who make it.

There were many fruit based wines such as Apple, Blueberry and Cranberry as well as native whites such as Niagara. Hybrids could be found as well such as Cayuga ,Seyval Blanc ,Vidal Blanc and Vignoles. Some of the Red native grapes we tasted were Catawba and Concord.

But of course the Rieslings, Gewurztaminers and Cabernet Francs are what this area is known best for. Our overall opinion of the wines was good. The Ice Wines were excellent as well as the Rieslings and Gewurztaminers. We had some very good Cabernet Franc as well. It was fun tasting the fruit wines and the all American Native varietals as well. There were a few "special " wineries that we will talk about individually. Its great to be back !!

Our wine trail turns east to Watkins Glenn NY

Our bags are packed and we are ready to head east on our wine trail !! We will be attending the Finger Lakes Wine Festival in Watkins Glenn New York ! There will be over 70 wineries showing off their best for this 3 day event.
Growers in this area still plant a great deal of native American grapes like Catwaba , Concord and Niagara. However this area has also been producing Cabernet Franc , Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, and Riesling. The Rieslings have been doing pretty well over the years. So off we go to do some tastings and have some great food !!

Cheers !!

"THE" Terrace Heights Estates Pinot Noir 2004

Elaine and I attended a New Zealand tasting at Lee's last night. We tasted four wines. Fairhall Downs Sauvigon Blanc 2006 Marlboro, "THE" Terrace Heights Estates Sauvigon Blanc 2006 Marlboro, Fairhall Downs Pinot Noir 2004 Marlboro, and "THE" Terrace Heights Estates Pinot Noir 2004 Marlboro. Three of the wines were typical of the varietal and region. The surprise for us was "THE" Terrace Heights Pinot Noir 2004 Marlboro. In the past, I have not been a big fan of New Zealand Pinots but this one took me by surprise.
In the glass it had a medium body and a nice burgundy color. On the nose there was plum and a slight hint of earth and bell pepper with some spice as well. On the palette all of those flavors came through very nicely. The plums came through at the beginning and gave way to tastes of bell pepper. The finish was long with spice at the very end.
There are only 500 cases made each year and 250 make it to the United States from this small family owned vineyard in Marlboro New Zealand. The retail price point I was told should be in the 25-28 dollar range. In my opinion this a a great value and a nice surprise for myself who really enjoys Pinot.
Cheers !

Marche Bacchus Bastille Day Celebration

Happy Bastille Day !! I actually had to do a google search to see what exactly the celebration was all about ! A few members or Tex and Gigit's "wine crew " met at Marche Bacchus to join in the celebration. As usual, we had two blind wines. The first was pretty easy for us. The color and nose right way told me it was a German Resling. I did miss the Spatlese category I thought it was a Kabinett oh well !! Agate revealed it was a Joh Jos Christiffel Erben 2005 Spatlese Resling from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. The second blind was a red and we did not do as well. Some thought it was a Syrah or Shiraz and others thought is was a Zinfandel. Agate came back and told us we were all wrong. We tried again and were split Merlot or Cabernet. It turns out it was a Opolo Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 from Paso Robles. The celebration featured a live band and three skydivers that jumped out of a helicopter into the lake . Viva Le France !

American Wine Society Hahn Winemaker Dinner

The Las Vegas Chapter of the Amercian Wine Society had a Winemaker dinner hosted by Adam LaZarre Hahn Estates Winemaker at Cafe Blue. Even though Adam did not make it until after desert due to car problems a good time was had by all. Andy Ashbaugh Chairman of the Las Vegas Chapter gave Adam the new name of "Late Harvest LaZarre" when he finally arrived. The meal consisted of six courses paired with seven wines from Hahn Estates and Smith and Hook. Two of the favorites at my table were the Roasted Garlic Flan, Wild Mushroom Broth paired with 2005 Hahn Estates Syrah and the Three Chili Strip Steak, Guajillo-Congnac Sauce paired with 2005 Hahn Estates Meritage and 2005 Smith and Hook Cabernet Sauvigon. The other wines were Cycles Galdiator , Pinot Grigio 2005, 2005 Hahn Estates Chardonnay and Adam's 2005 La Zarre Pinot Noir " Sierra Madre ". We finished off with Grilled Pineapple with Rum Sabayon,Coconut Ice cream and Macadamia Brittle paired with 2002 Mendelson Muscat Canelli. Many thanks to the Chefs and students at Cafe Bleu and Andy Ashbaugh of AWS for doing a great job. And of course Adam LaZarre for finally making it !!
Cheers !!

The Begining of our Wine Trail

Over the years many people have asked us how we got started with this "wine thing". We are members of the American Wine Society and Board members of the Las Vegas chapter. We also are proud members of Tex and Gigit's " wine crew " as well. If you have read Irene's blog you know who they are !! Believe it or not this "wine thing" started by fate, chance , whatever you want to call it.

A few years ago Elaine and I were at a Jazz concert and saw this group of people with matching shirts having a great time. They had two tables of food ( all homemade ) and one table just for the wines ( about 15-20 bottles) We saw that these people really knew how to have fun. Elaine talked me into going up to see who they were. It turns out they were all members of the Amercian Wine Society Las Vegas Chapter. They invited us over and offered us to share in their party.

We joined the group and our eyes were opened to a whole new way of eating and having fun. A few months later there was a Monterrey County wine tasting event at RM Seafood in the Mandalay Bay. We had some great wines and food and also met several wine makers and vineyard owners. One was Luann Meador owner of Ventana Vineyards and the other was Dan Tudor of Radog and Tudor wines. By the end of the evening many of them offered us tours when were were in their area. That one night changed everything for us. No more Sutter Home type wines for us.

We planned a 10 day wine trip in June of that year. We called our new friends and told them we were coming. When I called Dan Tudor he said he would be out of town but gave me the name of a friend of his in Lompoc. I called Peter Work owner of Ampelos wines and explained who we were. Even though he had never met us he invited us to meet him at his home for a tour of his vineyard. So we packed up our car and golden retriever (Daisy ) and headed west. We planned to drive to Lompoc and stay a few nights. The next day we met Peter at his home. he was very hospitable and placed a glass of Ampeloes Viognier in our hands and were headed into the Vineyard. Before we knew it Peter and I were down on our knees looking at grafting sights of his Syrah and Pinot Noir. He gave us a real education in a very short amount of time. We went back to his house and tasted some Ampelos Rose. We started to thank him but he informed us that we were not done yet ! We must follow him to the winery. When we arrived we met Rebecca his wife and toured the winery. We barrel tasted the entire Ameplos line ! We were so amazed all of this was happening and they didn't even know us. We were getting ready to go but then were were told once again the day was not done. We were to follow Peter and Rebecca to Sissy's Uptown Cafe in Lompoc for a late lunch. That was one amazing day and that was only day 1 of the trip. Peter and Rebecca are very special people with an incredible story. They have become our close friends.

We met other amazing people on that trip and drank some great wines. Dan Tudor also asked us to call Doug Margerum who owned the Wine Cask in Santa Barbara. We called Doug and he insisted we drive down for Dinner. One look at the Wine List and I found Tudor Pinot Noir ! I had to order that with my Salmon and the rest was history.

We continued up the coast to Monterrey and Carmel Valley. We were treated well by all the wineries that we had contacted. We started south and headed for Paso Robles. Paso was great and we reluctantly headed back to vegas with a whole new way of viewing the world.

We got home with 23 bottles of our first "real" wines but now we had to change they way we eat so we could enjoy them ! Our old pots and pans were tossed and a "high end" set of professional cookware was now in the house.

With our new found interest in food and wine we started watching Giada on the Food Network and got some great recipes. We shop at Trader Joes and Whole foods as well as growing some of our own vegetables and herbs. We share wine every night and continue to travel, read, and of course taste to increase our knowledge.

So there your have it. That was how we began our trip along the wine trail, somehow we think this trail is along one and hope it will never end
Cheers !

Casa La Joya Carmenere 2005 Chile

We have a surprise first wine to review and for Elaine and I it was an unknown and we were pleasantly surprised. As we were deciding which red wine to drink tonight Elaine choose the Carmenere from Casa La Joya 2005 Vintage. On the nose it had hints of Violets and some red and black fruit. On the Palette the violets came through along with coco. Some spice was found on the nose and the palate with a medium finish. I did some research on the varietal and found in northern Italy significant vineyards that were previously identified as Cabernet Franc were actually Carmenere. Chile is most known for the varietal and when fully ripened this varietal can produce the best qualities of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Cheers !!

Getting Started

Hello and welcome to our Blog ! this will always be a work in progress and we really want everyone to post and have a good time and learn from each other. We have had an amazing journey along our own wine trail together and we want to share our journey with all of you. Lets walk along the trail stop and have some great wine and dine with special friends. In the coming days we will introduce a few friends here in Las Vegas and explain how we got started !

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