Monday, November 19, 2007

Anything Wine Has Moved

My Anything Wine blog has moved to a Wordpress account.

The new address is

Thank you for continuing to check out my blog, I really do appreciate it.

John Witherspoon

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wine Tasting - 2005 Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma County

We received this bottle in one of our wine club shipments from Seghesio. Seghesio has a great tasting room in the heart of the Sonoma Valley just outside of Healdsburg. We made a stop by there tasting room the last time we were in Sonoma, and decided to sign up for the wine club. Click here for my review of that visit!

A bit of background on the wine –

As the name would imply, the wine is made from old head pruned vines from vineyards in both the Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys. The 2005 growing season was relatively cool and provided a long period of time for grapes to develop slowly and maturely. The grapes were harvested from the end of September to the 1st week of October at a nice high Brix (sugar content) of 26.4. The 2005 Old Vine Zin saw 12 months of barrel aging in a mix of 75% French and 25% American oak, after 10 days of maceration with a final alcohol level of 15.3%.

My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Fig, raisin, sun-dried tomato

Taste – Boysenberry jam, fresh baby spinach

Mouthfeel – Full body, nice balance, good acid and no real “heat” with the high alcohol

Finish – Long and peppery

Stay tuned in the future for more wine reviews from Seghesio. We feel bad when we drink the ones that they only distribute from the tasting room or to the wine club, so we hold to them as long as we can.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wine Tasting - 2004 Pascual Toso Reserve Single Estate Malbec

I received this wine for my birthday back in May from my buddy Mike and his fiancée Bobbi. Mike and Bobbi are huge Malbec fans, so I knew this had to be a winner.

A bit of background on the wine –

2004 was a good year for Malbec in Argentina, and rated up there with 2002 and 2003 that were considered excellent vintages for the region. 2004 saw fantastic weather for the majority of the season, although there was some late season rain, the crop was harvested under favorable conditions.

This wine was made from 100% Malbec grapes that are harvested by hand from vineyards in Las Barrancas, Maipu, Mendoza. After fermentation the 100% of this Reserve Malbec is aged in French Oak barrels for 12 months compared to only 30% of the non-reserve which is aged only 10 months. After barrel maturation, it is allowed to age in the bottle for an additional 6 months prior to release.

My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Blackberry, Swisher Sweet cigar, roasting coffee and candle wax

Taste – Blackberry jam, tobacco, black cherry towards the finish

Mouthfeel – Medium to Full body, very smooth

Finish – Nice and long with a lot of cherry flavors, good grip and slightly spicy

This is an excellent wine and a great value, especially if you get it for free, or if you pay for it. I think it retails for around $13.00. This Malbec had a nice complex nose, with jammy dark fruit flavors and a long gripping finish.

Give it a try, I think it is pretty well distributed – about 4000 cases are made of the Reserve.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Two Wine Tastings at The Wine Cellar This Week

Jeff and his Wine Cellar crew are treating us to two tastings again this week.

Thursday – Beaujolais Nouveau Tasting

Jeff will pit the Nouveau against 3 Cru Beaujolais from 2005 for an unofficial taste off. The Beaujolais tasting will only be from 5:30 – 7:30.

Friday – Thanksgiving Dinner Wines


The Friday tasting is the normal time of 5:00 – 8:00 and both tastings are FREE as usual.

Hope to see you all there.
A quick reminder – after this week Anything Wine will be switching to a wordpress address. The new site will be I am posting to both currently, but after this week I will stop on the blogspot site. So please change you feeds and bookmarks to the new address. Thanks so much for continuing to read Anything Wine!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Education Series - What are tannins?

A while ago I said I was going to start a wine education series. As you may have noticed, I didn’t get very far with that idea-- I think I did only one entry on malolactic fermentation. So I am recommitting myself to this effort through Education Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I will post on a topic, term, or subject that I think needs to be more talked about or better explained.

To start off the series, today’s bit is on tannins. The term tannin is used a lot when describing a wine, whether it is to talk about the mouthfeel (soft, harsh, firm, gripping, etc.) or to determine it’s aging ability. So what is a tannin?

The technical definition for a tannin is a plant-based polyphenol that binds and precipitates proteins, and is found in grapes skins, seeds and stems as well teas, and other fruits and plants. The name “tannin” is actually derived from the tanning process of animal hides. The non-technical answer is that tannins are the substance in wine that makes your mouth feel dry and if too pronounced, can provide a bitter taste. If tannins are excessive as they might be in a young wine, it feels like someone sucked all the moisture out of your mouth. If the wine has been aged, or did not have prolonged contact with the skins, the tannins will be much softer and give you what is described sometimes as a velvety feel in the mouth.

Other than the skin and seed contact that can give red wine its tannic structure, oak and other wood barrels that red wine is commonly aged in can provide some tannins as well.

I mentioned that tannins can be reduced over time with aging, and that pronounced tannins in a particular wine can relate to its ability to age well (in addition to fruit, acid and alcohol levels). So how does this work? What are the tannins doing in that bottle of wine over time?

First, the reason that the wine has better age ability with increased tannins is due to the chemical’s natural preservative effects. Second, the reason that wines taste less tannic and feel less harsh over time is that the tannins gradually polymerize (fancy word for join up) and when joined together in long chains give a much softer mouthfeel.

This was a bit of a technical description but was more in my terms, so I hope it made sense. If you have more questions about tannins or need some more clarification please shoot me an email.

A quick reminder – after next week Anything Wine will be switching to a wordpress address. The new site will be I am posting to both currently, but this week will stop on the blogspot site. So please change you feeds and bookmarks to the new address. Thanks so much for continuing to read Anything Wine!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wine Tasting - 2004 Seventy Five, Amber Knolls Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon

I picked this up from the Wine Cellar about a month or two ago, just wanting to pick up a real good “everyday” Cab for the wine stock at home. I had heard great things about the wine, and these were confirmed by my favorite Wine Cellar employee Hunter who had just tasted the wine recently. I was a bit skeptical though because Mr. Wine Library himself, who I love, had knocked the wine down a few notches a couple of months prior on his video blog. He still thought it was a good Cab, just not worthy of the 90+ point ratings that it was carrying around. (click here for that episode) But as Gary will tell you, he is giving his opinion based on what he likes and dislikes, so take it with a grain of salt.

A bit of background on the wine:

From the 75wine website -
“This hand-selected, hand crafted vineyard designated Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the Amber Knolls Vineyard. The Beckstoffer family purchased this property in the late 1990's after determining that the soils and microclimate were perfect for growing ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes. The property is showcased by its deep, red hillside soils that are heavily laced in obsidian.”

The vineyard itself sits on an East facing slope with varying altitude from 1200 to 2000 feet. The average daytime summer temperature is 84 degrees with average nighttime temps of 51 degrees, allowing for the 2004 Vintage to be harvested at 23.8 Brix.

My Tasting Notes:

Nose – Ripe blueberry, tar, and bacon

Taste – Maraschino cherry, canned artichoke hearts, espresso

Mouthfeel – very smooth with velvety tannins and medium body

Finish – Nice with a decent length and blackberry flavors lingering

I liked this wine quite a bit. I thought it to be more towards the new world style of Cabernet Sauvignon with a lot of ripe fruit coming through on the nose, but had some nice meaty aromas to balance it out. Interesting vegetable flavor notes – I think the reason I wrote canned artichoke hearts is because the wine had a slight metallic taste to it, but not in a bad way. Not an inexpensive wine (at around $18.95), but a good middle of the week kick up a notch Cabernet.

If you have had this or have it in the future, let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Well this is an admission for those of you who don’t know me. For my friends out there already know that I was and always will be a Beverly Hills 90210 FANATIC. Go ahead, snicker and laugh - but one day there will be a game show devoted completely to 90210 trivia and I will win millions of dollars. :) Ha-Ha

So the only thing that could be better than 90210, is 90210 and wine. I knew that star Jason Priestly had his own wine show called Hollywood and Vines which does not air in Virginia sadly, but recently Jason bought a winery in British Columbia.

From Wine Spectator Unfiltered:

Beverly Hills 902-wine-0? Jason Priestley, best-known for his portrayal of Brandon Walsh on the 1990s television series Beverly Hills 90210, is the latest to join the ranks of winemaking celebrities. The native Canadian has invested in British Columbia’s Black Hills Estate Winery, whose top wine is a Cabernet blend called Nota Bene. Priestley is known to be an epicurean and wine lover—though, sadly, not as well known for the great film Love and Death on Long Island in which he mocks himself, playing a former teen B-movie actor—and is currently co-host of a wine-related travel show on Canadian television called Hollywood & Vines. Priestley joined the board of directors of Vinequest Wine Partners, an Alberta-based investment group created specifically to buy Black Hills. Black Hills cofounder Bob Tennant is happy that the star power of the transaction will help bring attention to the Okanagan wine community, but wondered how hands-on Priestley will be in the day-to-day operations. “My first comment when I heard [Jason Priestley] was involved was, ‘Gee, I hope he knows how to prune.”"

How cool would it be to saddle up to the tasting bar and have Jason doing the tasting?

Have a great weekend everyone - get out and drink some great wine.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Wine and Running

So with the Suntrust Richmond Marathon happening tomorrow in town I thought I would write about wine and running. Obviously wine right before or during running serves no benefit and can actually be harmful to your body, but why would you want to reach for a bottle of wine during a race anyway.

There can be some positive affects of wine on the cardiovascular system. Reservatol (a compound found in wine) has been in the news a lot lately mostly for its health benefits of reduced risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, etc.. But in the same studies on mice and rats, Reservatol was seen to give the animals increased endurance while running on a treadmill. So could drinking wine give you edge need to wine the race? Probably not, but having a glass or two the night before a race will most likely not hurt your performance. One exception though is if you are running a marathon or other extra long race. This is because wine and other alcoholic beverages has a natural diuretic effect and may cause pre-mature dehydration during a long race.


A quick reminder – after next week Anything Wine will be switching to a wordpress address. The new site will be I am posting to both currently, but after next will stop on the blogspot site. So please change you feeds and bookmarks to the new address. Thanks so much for continuing to read Anything Wine.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Friday Night Wine Tasting at the Wine Cellar - Nov. 9th

Here are this weeks wines that Jeff will be serving at the Wine Cellar tomorrow night.


Don’t forget about the Special Tasting the Wine Cellar is having Saturday from 1-4.

See you all there from 5:00 to 8:00, and FREE as always.

Other tastings going on around town:

River City Cellars – Friday - 5:00-7:00
Corks and Kegs – Friday - 5:30 – 7:30
Private Stock Cigar and Wine – Every Friday and Saturday
Bella Vino (Midlothian) – Friday - 6:00-8:00

And also make sure to check out Can Can Mondays from 6-7.

Let me know if I have missed any, because I am sure there are others I don’t know about.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Wine Tasting: 2004 Imagery Estate Sunny Slope Merlot

Megan and I received this wine as part of our Imagery Estate Wine Club shipment earlier this year. Each shipment contains two bottles of wine that are usually only offered at the winery (as was this Merlot) and get four shipments a year. We visited them when we were on our Napa and Sonoma trip at the end of last year and had a great time. It is a beautiful place to visit, with an excellent tasting room and staff, and an awesome patio for enjoying a picnic lunch.

Some information on the wine:

The Sunny Slope vineyard that these Merlot grapes are from is quite interesting. The site that the vineyard is on is pretty much an old rock quarry and the vines were planted in holes drilled or pick axed more than 20 years ago. The vines get a great southwest exposure that produces a ripe, concentrated, thick skinned grape. The 2004 vintage was dry overall, in fact humidity levels at the end of the season dropped well below the average 30%. (Geez, I wish the humidity around Richmond would average 30%) Proper vineyard care and patience prevailed in allowing the grapes to develop their wonderful flavor, even though sugars were rising prematurely.

I believe the wine, without the 15% member discount, is $38.

My Tasting Notes:

Nose – Cherry, boysenberry, and caramelized onions

Taste – Rich Black Cherry and celery

Mouthfeel – medium body with a very rich texture, very smooth and polished

Finish – great long length, leaving me with a bit of cocoa on the aftertaste

This was a delightful Merlot, and unfortunately I didn’t write in my notes what we drank this with, and I can’t remember since it was a couple of weeks ago. Since this is only distributed from the winery, you can’t run to your local wine shop and pick it up. But, if by chance you are in Sonoma, give them a visit, you won’t be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Anything Wine moving to Wordpress

Hi Anything Wine Readers

I am moving my Anything Wine blog to Wordpress from Blogger. I have already built the wordpress blog and will continue to post in both for a couple of weeks. If you have feeds setup or currently link to me the new address will be

I will post reminders over the next few days and post a final entry on the blogger site to let you know when I won't be double posting anymore.

Thanks to everyone who reads Anything Wine - I do appreciate it. Let me know what you think of the new site.


Another great time at Barrel Thief

Another visit to Barrel Thief this past Friday provided us with another great time. (click here to read my first review) This time we took my sister Elizabeth and her husband/my best friend Jeff up to sample what B.T. had to offer. Although they were crowded, we did not have to wait for a table this time. They had a new selection of 12 wines by the glass this week, pitting American wines against their French counterparts. We decided to peruse the shop to decide what wines we would be having with dinner. However, when we sat down to order our bottles, our waitress McLane (hope I spelled that right), who was also our waitress last time, informed us that if you buy any bottle of wine currently available by the glass they wave the $6 corkage. Of course, this information changed the game completely, as we thought we had our wines all figured out after our walk around the store. Also since the bottles were on the by-the-glass list, she was able to give us a tasty taste of the wines we were considering.

To start out for the evening we decided on the 2004 Robert Denogent Macon-Solutre Clos de Bertillones from Burgundy ($27). This was a really nice Chardonnay, excellent full bodied and round mouthfeel with just a hint of toasted notes and honey on the finish.

We were impressed to see that even though it was only 3 weeks since our last visit (I know too long) they had made some changes to the menu. On our first visit we had eyed the brie appetizer for 2 that our table neighbors ordered and noticed how good it looked and that it may take more than 2 to finish it. Since we were with Jeff and Elizabeth we decided to split it 4 ways. It was covered with apricot preserves and slivered almonds, a change since our previous visit (looked like it had a dark berry topping). It was delicious, and it paired very nicely with our White Burgundy.

For dinner Megan and I chose the same Portabello Panini that we had last time, as well as one of the new additions to the sandwich menu – a grilled vegetable Panini with goat cheddar, olive tapenade and balsamic reduction. Of course we loved the Portabello Panini again, but of the two, the grilled veggie Panini was our favorite. Even though the sandwich contained 4 things with very different and powerful flavors – all were present on the palate and none were masked or overpowered by the other. Another excellent addition to the menu!

We were also excited to see a nice drizzle of Balsamic on the plates this time, dressing up those stark white plates very nicely. Another nice addition to the menu is the fact that you can now add a mixed green salad to your Panini for $2.

Jeff and Elizabeth also shared the Portabello Panini as well as the citrus smoked salmon, cream cheese, shaved red onion and capers Panini. They were also delighted with both and thought they were very tasty, but of the 2, the salmon won out for them.

To go with these great sandwiches our second bottle of wine, which was also on the by-the-glass menu, was the 2005 Joguet Chinon Les Petites Roches ($20). It was a really nice Cab Franc. We were really impressed with its great red currant aromas laced with clove, and it had a nice slightly earthy finish with a hint of oregano. Again, this wine paired very nicely with the sandwiches that we had chosen.

For dessert Megan and I chose the pound cake and Nutella Panini again, and it was again fabulous. Paired with our pound cake we shared a glass of delicious Vintage port that I can’t remember the name of. Jeff and Elizabeth decided to try the house favorite – Krispy Kreme Strawberry Shortcake. That is definitely a toothache waiting to happen, but they enjoyed it, and we may have to try it next time we are there.

Barrel Thief continued to impress – keep up the good work guys!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Special Saturday Wine Tasting at the Wine Cellar

This Saturday, Nov. 10th, the Wine Cellar is having a special Saturday tasting from 1:00 – 4:00. They will be sampling some nice wines from Australia from the following producers: Cimicky, Berrys Bridge, and Langmeil Winery. Jeff’s email says the price range will be from $20 - $50 for the wines but as always the tasting is FREE.

In addition to the wine Jeff will be sampling some great cheese and chocolates.

See you all there – Stay tuned later in the week for what Jeff will be serving on Friday night.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New Wine Book - "To Cork or Not To Cork"

A new book is out this month by author George Taber, writer of "Judgment of Paris". I was really impressed by Judgment of Paris and am looking forward to reading this one as well. The forward of the book is by Karen MacNeil author of the "Wine Bible" (which I also own). The book retails for around $26 and is currently only available in hardback.

Here is an excerpt from an article on the book from the Napa Valley Register.

"The result is a fact-filled book that often reads like a novel. It looks at every type of closure used in the wine industry today and reveals many previously unknown, but perhaps suspected, facts about the controversy surrounding closures. It’s interspersed with occasional “Message in a Bottle” anecdotes which relate good and bad experiences with wine closures, including one about a cork in a bottle of 1961 Chateau Margaux that broke in half when being opened. Nothing could get the bottom half out, so a glass cutter was used to cut the neck of the bottle, the wine was poured through cheesecloth and the guests enjoyed it."

If you pick up the book and give it a read, let me know what you think. As soon as I get it, and read it - I will post a review.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wine Tasting - 2005 Chateau Du Jaunay

2005 Chauteau Du Jaunay, Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Sur Lie

A bit of background on the wine – Muscadet is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape and is produced more than any other wine in the Loire valley. It is produced in the Western end of the Loire valley and this one in particular is produced in the Muscadet Sevre Et Maine appellation. The Chateau du Jaunay is produced from an 11 hectare vineyard site that is always picked by hand, usually in mid – September. The wine is produced in the sur lie style, meaning that it is kept on the lees (spent yeast that falls to the bottom of the vat/tank/barrel) after the fermentation process.

My Tasting Notes:

Nose – Pear, floral, star fruit

Taste – Honey and lemon

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied but pretty acidic

Finish – Very dry, but not too long – disappeared fairly quickly off the palate

I believe this is the first Muscadet that I have had or at least the first one that I have had knowingly. It was a very nice wine with floral notes meeting you straight out of the gate. Very crisp and refreshing – similar to a Sauvignon Blanc in mouthfeel and balance but not so on the aroma and flavor profile. All in all, a good wine to try – it would be very nice to drink on the beach or a boat somewhere. We served it with Indian food, which was a departure from my normal Riesling, Gewürztraminer or Viognier that we usually default to.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Evil Cellar Palate!!

I think the first time I read about cellar palate was on the website of Jim Law’s Linden Vineyards here in Virginia. He emphasizes that he and his staff taste wine from around the world on a regular basis to keep their palate honed and to ward off the evil cellar palate.

A recent article by Jancis Robinson on brought the issue to my attention again. She reminds us that cellar palate is not just a problem for winemakers, but for consumers as well. Personally, I am not sure that I would define cellar palate as a problem for ALL consumers. If you always drink one particular wine or wine region, and that is all you drink and will most likely not drink anything else, then it doesn’t matter if the consumer adapts to the fact that the wine they continually drink is flabby or overly herbaceous and so on and so forth. In fact, in that case cellar palate may be beneficial, as consumers are able to gradually overlook deficits in their favorite wines. However, becoming accustomed to the poorer aspects of the wine would probably be accompanied by becoming “numb” to the best parts of the wine as well (the strawberry notes may taste less luscious over time).

On the other hand…

If you are a consumer like me who likes to drink many different wines, it may be a different story. For example, if you get on a pinot noir (soft, fruity, earthy) kick for a couple weeks, then go out and have a Syrah from the Rhone region, it may taste closer to an Aussie Shiraz. This is similar to a story that Jancis recounts in the first part of her article. Obviously, if you haven’t had this particular Syrah before (or ever had a Syrah), this first skewed experience could affect your opinions and purchase decisions for future Syrahs.

I think cellar palate further exemplifies the idea that every wine you drink is referenced against every other wine you have had before. As regular consumers, not trained expert wine panelists, we can have a hard time evaluating a wine on its own merits. Of course, most consumers won’t sit there and think “well this Cab. is similar to the one I had 2 years ago, but definitely better than the one I had at the tasting last week.” He/she evaluates against the whole collection of memories of Cab and in fact, not just Cab., but all wines they have had before.

So I believe to further your enjoyment of wine it is a good idea to take Jancis Robinson’s suggestion and drink globally. The more wine you can taste will serve 2 purposes. One, it will keep your palate fresh and keep you from falling susceptible to cellar palate. And two, it will really help you to learn what wines you really enjoy, AND THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART.

“Nobody tells you what you should put on your pizza, they shouldn’t tell you what to like about your wine.”- Gary Vaynerchuk

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Friday Night Tasting at the Wine Cellar - 11.02.07

Below is what Jeff is offering up at the Wine Cellar this week for his free weekly tasting.


I have not tried any of the wine above, which is the case a lot of the time at the Friday night tastings. But this week I have not even had any from these producers. So this should be a lot of fun, as USUAL!!

Hope to see you all there. FREE from 5:00 – 8:00

Here are some other tastings that are going on around town.

River City Cellars – Friday - 5:00-7:00
Corks and Kegs – Friday - 5:30 – 7:30
Private Stock Cigar and Wine – Every Friday and Saturday
Bella Vino (Midlothian) – Friday - 6:00-8:00

And also make sure to check out Can Can Mondays from 6-7. – Thanks to Scott for info on this tasting.