Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

From our house to yours, we wish you the best in 2009! Once of my New Years resolutions this year is to keep up with this BLOG more than I have, but the end of the year was a busy year for us, with lots of travels, and lots of Air Force stuff going on. That being said, look for great things in 2009! As the ball has started to drop, we wish you a Happy New Year! Cheers!

2000 Château Lascombes

Definitely think this wine is in a shut down phase right now, and wish we would have waited. Not much of anything even after a 2 plus hour decant. Would hold for another 5 years... formal notes to come, but kind of disappointing unfortunately.

2005 Château Bois Redon

Gorgeous nose, but lacking in the fruit department. Might get better with time, but I think it's just your typical budget, mass produced Bordeaux...formal notes to come, and ok starter for New Years Eve before heading onto the good stuff. 80 points. Formal notes maybe...not really worth writing about.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2004 Taz Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

This wine got much better with air, and was a pleasure to drink, but gave me a terrible headache which I found odd as I have never experienced this with Taz, or any wine or that matter. Formal notes to come, but worthy of 87 points.

Friday, December 26, 2008

2007 Seghesio Family Vineyards Zinfandel Sonoma County

This wine will definitely benefit from some more time in the bottle. Picked up today locally about hearing all the rants and raves about this wine. Got it home, had it in the Avanti for a few hours, then decanted through the Vinturi, into a decanter and let it sit for a good hour and a half before consuming. Beautiful nose of raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, and spice. There is still a bit of alcohol on the nose here as well, but I think that this will integrate nicely with 6 months to a year in the bottle. On the palate, a nice medium body, with hints of jammy blackberry and cherry. This some alcohol on the palate, and this wine is a bit hot, even after decanting. Tannins and spice prevalent on the palate, and more heat on the finish. Again, I think that time in the bottle is going to be everything with this wine. Still have 3 more in the cellar, and will pick some more up as it is just under $18 a bottle locally. Hell of a QPR, and looking forward to picking up a case of these soon! 88 points now, but will go well over 90 with some time in the bottle. Cheers! (

Friday, December 12, 2008

2000 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon

Another great wine tonight with friends, this wine is still very young in the bottle, even after being decanted for an hour and a half-2 hours. This wine has a very deep, dark garnet color in the glass. On the nose, some dark blue and black fruits: blackberry, blueberry, black cherry, vanilla, coffee, and a whole lot of cigar box. This wine seemed very floral on the nose. On the palate, the first glass was very tannic, but this settled out very nicely with some time in the glass. Again, this wine is still very young, and has many years left in my opinion. More blackberry and black cherry on the palate, and other identifiable dark fruits. Nice medium length, very pleasant finish. This wine was even better on day 2! I would love to have a few of these to try every 2 years or so to see how this wine is going to evolve. This is definitely a winner, and another possible runner up for my wine of the year! 95 points! Thanks for bringing this "Dennis" and Denise!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

1997 Kistler Pinot Noir Kistler Vineyard

I know, it has been forever since I have put an update on here. Sorry, super busy as of late, but these wines deserve some notes! Opened with friends tonight and this wine was gorgeous. I cannot possibly imagine this wine getting any better at this point, but I assume anything is possible. Great dark ruby in the glass, showing some nice age and maturity.Gorgeous nose of cherry and strawberries, with a tad of earth. This nose on this wine was incredible, yet in a subdued, Burgundian style. On the palate, this was definitely not your new world, fruit forward pinot noir. Very nice strawberry, cherry, with hints of plum and spice, with a hint of black cherry and cola. Nice 30 second plus, silky smooth and creamy finish! Incredible wine, and right there for my runner up for my wine of the year! 94 points....Cheers.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Gordon Ramsay At the London - New York

Here it is, the night after Halloween, and we couldn't ask for better weather to hop on the train and head to Manhattan to celebrate our anniversary, albeit a few days late. But with busy schedules, it made perfect sense to save a special celebration for a weekend night!

Tonight we are dining at Gordon Ramsay At the London. We are both huge fans of Chef Ramsay, and we have wanted to dine here for months. I originially wanted to bring Zelda here for her birthday, but I had no idea that you have to book 2 months in advance, to the day. That being said, I made our reservation first thing on the morning of September 1st, and here we are.

Upon arriving at The London, you will see the bar and restaurant "Maze," also ran by Gordon on the right hand side. We were greatest by the hostess when we walked in, who immediately sent us to the host stand on the left. Upon looking around, Maze is a more laid back restaurant and bar, compared to the more formal dining that is in the main dining room. There was all sorts of attire, ranging from nice dresses and suits, to more casual blue jeans.

We were led to the back of the room left, and brought to a glass door, and upon opening this door, it revealed a gorgeous dining room. Gorgeous chairs with table settings with white linen and very nice china plates. Everything sitting perfectly, and everything uniformly spaced, from the placement of the napkins, to the placement of the silverware, to the wine glasses, water glasses, etc. Everything was set with a masterful precision, and I am sure that they would not settle for anything less.

Other things that I noticed was their gorgeous climate controlled cellar in the back of the restaurant on the way to the kitchen. This cellar is done in stainless steel and glass, with wire racking stacked nearly 15 feet tall. You can see this plain as day upon entry, and it is a gorgeous view! As we sat, we see a gorgeous Champagne cart being rolled around the dining room, with many different types of Champagne being poured. A few moments later, a cheese cart containing at least 25 different blocks of cheese rolled by, that looked like absolute heaven! YUM!

More to come when I get more time!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

2005 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Koplen Vineyard

Purchased off the winelist at Gordon Ramsay "At the London." Over-inflated price, but what do you expect. One, it is Gordon Ramsay's Restaurant. Two, it is New York City. And Three, it is Kosta Browne. Regardless, it was our anniversary celebration, and worth every penny.
Popped and poured from the bottle, this wine immediately showed a gorgeous garnet/ruby color in the glass. The nose of the Koplen is absolutely intoxicating, and absolutely Kosta Browne! Tons of dark berries: blackberry, boysenberry, black cherry, jammy raspberry, and a hint of spice. This is a wine that I can sit and smell all night long.
On the palate, this wine is singing, which was kind of surprising. Regardless, this is a HUGE wine! When I say HUGE, I mean massive! I really expected this wine to be tight, and needing more time in the glass. I also expected a little more heat and alcohol on this wine, but not the case! This wine will however, still benefit from a few more years in the bottle or a nice splash decant.
Gorgeous silky smooth feel on the palate with more black fruits shining through again....dark raspberry, black cherry, a hint of color, and the slightest bit of earthyness. Wow this wine is amazing, and it just kept opening up with more time in the glass. The finish on the wine lingers forever, making it a pure joy to drink.
The 2005 Koplen is in contention for my personal wine of the year! 95 points, and a perfect example of why I love pinot noir! Happy Anniversary Zelda!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

1975 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou

This was a great bottle that we opened tonight for our anniversary, and has been stored perfectly throughout the years. The cork was soaked about 3/4 of the way through, and came out in 2 large pieces thankfully. No decanting at all for sediment as it looked clean, so popped and poured into the glass.
The slightest bit of bricking in the glass, with just a hint of brett. An amazing nose, full of blackberry, blueberry, black cherry, prune, earth, cigar box, and mushroom. If only the palate was as fruity, this would be the sleeper of sleepers.
In the glass, the first 1/2 hour still showed a sleepy and dusty wine, but as this wine warmed up in the glass, the complexity started to show. Sure, this wine is tired, and definitely on the down slope, but it still is very tasty. Hints of blackberry and currants on the palate, with hints of blueberry and slate as well. A nice lingering finish make this wine worthy of 94 points. Would love to enjoy this again, and it was a true treat at Acacia in Lawrenceville on our anniversary! Love the NJ BYO's!

Acacia - Lawrenceville, NJ

What better night to hit Acacia in Lawrenceville than on our second anniversary? Happy anniversary hot stuff! We left out for an early dinner, on a cold, rainy, October Jersey night. Upon arriving at Acacia, there was nobody in the restaurant, but what could you expect with the weather, and with the fact that it was a Tuesday night. Maybe everyone stayed in tonight in hopes that the Phillies were going to play ball tonight. OK, probably not the case, but…. We were greeted by the hostess who graciously took Zelda's coat and seated us at a great table by the window. The atmosphere at Acacia is very nice. Gorgeous, large wood trim, and paint and décor that is very elegant. Awesome atmosphere, and this would be a great place to do a wine tasting one night! Our waiter came over and opened out 1975 Ducru-Beaucaillou, and told us about the soup and one dinner special. We both ended up ordering a cup of the shrimp bisque, and we ended up ordering a Caesar to split between the two of us. First came the salad, with nice greens, and freshly shaved cheese. The salad looked very nice, and the dressing was just OK. I almost question whether or not they make their dressing in house, or if maybe it was from a bottle. Regardless, it was nice, and more of a oil and vinegar based dressing than your typical creamy caesar. Don't get me wrong, it had a nice flavor to it, but I would expect a little more from Acacia. Next came the shrimp bisque, and although this was very tasty, it was definitely lacking in the sprimp department. You could tell that there was some shrimp puree'd into the soup, but my suggestion would be to add more. Maybe we got top ladles from the soup pan, or maybe they just do not want to overwhelm you with soup. Nonetheless, this was a nice soup with great flavor, and all it needs is a little more shimp to beef it up. On to the entrees, Zelda ordered the Frenched Free-Range Chicken with crabmeat stuffing, roasted asparagas, fontina, garlic sherry wine jus, and a potato croquette. The presentation for this was absolutely gorgeous, although I am sure that Gordon Ramsay would have help the plate up and blown all the parsley off of the plate. More to come soon!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bistro Soleil - Hightstown, NJ

Tonight we decided to try Bistro Soleil for the first time, after reading much about it on Chowhound. Needless to say, we were not disappointed. We were first greeted by a parking lot, and it is nice to know that parking here is not a problem at all. Many spaces, which is a bonus for restaurants in a little 'burg like Hightstown. Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by warm colors, and a team at the host stand, who quickly seated us with no reservation. We sat on the right hand side of the restaurant if you were looking at it from the outside, and the back of the restaurant seemed like it was missing something, and there was just a lot of dead space in the restaurant. I guess this is great for the future though, so they can add tables when they start getting busier, and their clientel starts to increase. Kerri was our server, and came quickly to the table to greet us, and to open our 2006 Stefania Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch. Shortly after, our water glasses were filled, and bread and oil was brought to the table. One of the first things we noticed yet again was the lack of salt and pepper shakers on the tables. This seems to be the thing lately, and quite honestly, I think that it shows a little arrogance in the kitchen that the chef doesn't feel the need to have it on the table. We'll see. We both started off with cups of the seafood chowder. The soup was good, but it was definitely lacking something. A little bit of salt and pepper would have gone a long way, and really "spiced" the soup up, no pun intended. Regardless, it was still "good," but not great. For dinner, Zelda ordered the Salmon Wellington, and it came out in a good size portion, cut in half, with a beautiful crust, and nice mushroom mix inside. The salmon was cooked perfectly, and this was a large portion. She ended up taking 1/2 home, so it could be consumed for lunch the following day. I went for the Bistro Strip and Fries, as it was said to be a bistro staple. It was a nice NY Strip, cooked to perfection with nice cross char marks on it. Upon first cut, it was very tough, and I wasn't expecting much from it at that point. Once it hit my mouth however, I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty this cut was, and it wasn't tough to say the least. No, you couldn't cut it with a fork, but how many NY strips can you really do that with anyway?

More to come when I get some more time!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Vidalia - Lawrencville, NJ

Another restaurant we have been looking forward to reviewing, and another great meal at Vidalia tonight! We have been meaning to get over here for years, and we finally got the chance to check it out for a light dinner before the Dessert Theatre in Hopewell. Vidalia is nice and cozy, and a very comfortable restaurant to come to. It is small and quaint, with nice decor, and you just feel at home there in front of the large picture window. Even sitting right next to the door, I felt as though I was in a nice atmosphere, and this would be yet again another great place to hang out on a cold winter day, watching the snow fall on the quiet streets of Lawrenceville. We had a reservation for 6:15PM, but they had no problem accommodating us 15 minutes early. The service was very friendly, and we started off with soup and salad. Zelda opted for the caprese salad, that had nice tomatoes, and very good fresh mozzarella cheese, over a nice salad. Was it worth $10? Probably not, but it was still good. I opted for the Vidalia onion soup, that was absolutely perfect. It came to the table still bubbling in a nice crock, smothered in cheese, with a nice crouton. At first, I thought that this needed just a hint of salt and pepper, but once it cooled enough taste it well, I realized that I was 100% wrong. This is a nice, understated soup, seasoned perfectly, and not overpowering. I think that he makes an onion base to start this soup, as it does not taste like a beef stock. Regardless, it was grand, and I look forward to trying it again, along with the stuffed Vidalia loaf. For dinner, we both opted to eat easy and light, but there were some great things on the menu that I would love to go back fo in the future. Zelda opted for the vodka rigatoni, which had a nice sauce and fresh pasta. I found this very tasty, and the sauce had a different bit of flair than the conventional vodka rig you have at most places. It was a pleasant surprise. I opted for the linguini in clam sauce, and was vey pleasantly surprised. Sure, there is nothing hard about either dish that we ordered, and both of these dishes are not truly representative of what this restaurant really is. The linguini was very nice with a good broth that let you taste nice fresh clams. The only think I would change on this dish would be to add some fresh diced clams as a bit of a filler. There were however 12-15 clams, and they were wonderful. More to come when I get a chance! 21 Phillips Ave Lawrenceville, NJ 08648 Tel: 609-896-4444 http://www.restaurantpassion.com/listing.aspx?a=188&sid=8&sn=NJ

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hannah and Masons - Cranbury, NJ

After a long Air Force day, then a little shopping, what better night to go out on a nice date with Zelda. We left Quakerbridge Mall, and headed to Canal's Mercerenceville to find a nice bottle of wine for dinner, since more than likely we'd head to one of Jersey's great BYOB's.
Our original plan was to hit Fiddlehead in Jamesburg, but upon arrival, we found out that you have to call the day of to get a reservation. That being said, off to Hannah & Mason's in Cranbury we went. We were originally going to come here on our anniversary, but now it looks like we'll hit Fiddlehead instead.
A little background on H&M. This is a restaurant that we have driven past many times, and have never stopped. For a long time, we didn't even know that it was there, but the restaurant really got into the public eye when world renowned Chef Gordon Ramsay showed up there to film his show Kitchen Nightmares. Since hearing of the filming on Valentine's Day 2008, we have been meaning to get the H&M, and now we finally got the chance.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the gracious hostess who was helping and elderly gentleman come down the stairs. When asked if she could squeeze us in, she managed to get us a great table right in the center of the first floor dining room. The room was finished in a nice green/blue color, with nice, clean white trim. I am assuming that this is the color scheme that Chef Ramsay chose for the re-launch, but without asking we'll never know.
Our hostess returned and opened up our 2005 Chateau Montelena, and came back with some red glasses. Our waitress, Britney then came over to our table, and greeted us with the days specials. We both opted for the Seafood Chowder as an appetizer, and while we waited, we were brought out a basket of nice, grainy wheat or pumpernickel rolls. I'm not sure what exactly they were, but they tasted nice with some butter, as well as a whole clove of roasted garlic. That was a nice touch.
Our soup came out later, and there were all kinds of large chunks of cod, salmon, and scallops. They definitely did not skimp on the fish, so that was nice. There was also corn and potatoes, along with various spices. One thing that I can say about the soup is that it needed just the slightest bit of salt and pepper. As much as I would have loved to do this, none of the tables at H&M have s&p shakers on them, yet they are on the wall in the back near the kitchen. What do I make of this? Maybe the slightest bit of arrogance, but this seems to be common practice these days at many restaurants we have visited.
Next were our entrees. Zelda ordered the Tuscan Chicken - palards of chicken, aged provolone, marinated tomato bruschetta, lemon beurre blanc, and orzo salad. This was a very tasty dish, and to me, it was the melted provolone that made it so tasty. I know, it's just cheese, but I love it. One thing that we found odd however was the orzo salad as we weren't sure at first, and it was not specified on the menu that the orzo was served cold. This is not a bad thing at all, but I would either mention it on the menu, or I would change it and serve something warm with it. Just a minor detail really, and a pick by myself.
I opted for the H&M Class Filet Mignon - porcini mushrooms, imported blue cheese, port wine reduction, toasted walnuts, and garlic whipped potatoes. I ordered it medium, and the chef truly knows how to cook a steak. This came out absolutely perfect! The steak was also rather large for a filet, and for $26, I would not have expected such a large filet. What a treat! The beef was from a good grade, and tasted absolutely delicious! One thing I did however was remove all the blue cheese. I am not a big fan of blue cheese, but I don't mind it. I did however find it overpowering, and it really took away from the beauty of this cut of beef. Once it was gone, it was perfect. The porcini mushrooms however were almost non-existent, but that is a good thing as I am not a big fan. I also did not see or taste any of the toasted walnuts, but to me, I want to taste the beef! The garlic whipped potatoes were nice, but there is nothing special about making garlic mashed potatoes. The blue cheese did however make a nice mix into the potatoes.
Dessert was skipped tonight as we were both stuffed, so we finished our glasses of wine and hit the road. All in all, a great little restaurant close to home, with a nice atmosphere, and great service. The entire staff was a treat to dine and chat with, Britney was a great server, and we really look forward to seeing their episode air on Kitchen Nightmares! We'll definitely be back! Cheers!
39 North Main Street
Cranbury, NJ 08512
Phone: (609)655-3220

2005 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon

A very young cab with a tannic backbone that will be great in a few years. In short, leave these in the cellar a few years to age. Unfortunately, we picked this up on the way to Hannah & Mason's, all knowing that it was going to be young, but something worth trying. If you are going to pop one of these now against your better judgement, I'd suggest a 4-5 hour decant.
Full review to come!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn - Hopewell, NJ

Today we had lunch at: Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn 15 E Broad Street Hopewell, NJ 08525 Phone: (609) 466-9889 http://www.hopewellvalleybistro.com/ Perogi with fried onion appetizer Fish and chips Grilled vegetable sandwich Full review to come!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

2007 Don Miguel Gascon Malbec

As much as I hate to say it, can a $9 wine really be our official red of summer "on the bistro." It sure looks like it, as there is nothing else that we drank more of in the red category. WOW! Great guest wine and great daily drinker. Cheers

2006 Andezon Côtes du Rhône

Nice daily drinker. Full review to come!

The Tortilla Press - Collingswood, NJ

The Tortilla Press(856) 869-3345
703 Haddon Ave, Collingswood, NJ 08108
Great little place with great service! Full review to come!

Friday, September 12, 2008

2004 Justin Vineyard Isosceles

Nice bottle, very young, but will be outstanding in a fea years! Full review to come!

Metropolitan Cafe - Freehold, NJ

Full review to come... Appetizer: ravioli Entrees: Australian Rack of Lamb Stuffed chicken

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Los Tres Amigos - Lawton, OK

Los Tres Amigos (580) 353-3380 5203 Nw Cache Road Lawton, OK 73505 Full review to come!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

2002 Château Puy Arnaud Maureze

A cheap Bordeaux with a bit of age on it. Nice QPR. Full review to come....

2003 Columbia Crest Merlot Grand Estates

I can't believe we still have some of these '03's around the house. Still drinking really nice. Full review to come!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

2000 Domaine de Cabasse Côtes du Rhône Villages Séguret Cuvée Garnacho

This was a bottle that I bought for a grenache tasting some months back, and I bough an extra to have on-hand just in case we liked it.
Some nice plum, herb, and slate on the nose, with the slightest hints of brett. One the palate, this wine still seems a little tannic, with hints of brett. The fruit is a bit subdued, but hints of plum and black cherry shine through, with other hints of dark fruits and spice. More slate and mineral come through on the palate, but this is a good thing, and is a nice representative of a Côtes du Rhône with some age on it. Nice lingering finish make this wine a pleasure to drink. Drink now. 90 points!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

2007 Don Miguel Gascon Malbec

At less than $10, this is a hell of a QPR. Very inky and dark purple in the glass. Absolutely great color for a wine at this price range. Tons of dark fruits on the nose...plum, black cherry, and blackberry, with a weird hint of Goodyear Tire? Goodyear Tire? What the heck? On the palate, a lot of the same minus the rubber...dark plums, black cherry, chocolate, earth, and creamy vanilla...maybe from the barrel, but who knows for sure. This wine would definitely benefit from decanting as it is young, but for the money, this is a hell of a wine, and I look forward to many more. 88 points. Cheers!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

2002 Copain Pinot Noir Cerise Vineyard

Not your typical pinot from Copain, but who knows, may have had poor storage conditions prior to my purchase. This wine was definitely lacking in the typical California fruit parade. The nose was definitely muted, with the faintest hints of red fruits. Nothing at all stood out. On the palate, tiny hints of cherry and strawberry, with a short, bitter finish. I thought maybe this just needed to open up with time, but it didn't seem to get any better. Maybe this was just a bad bottle, or maybe the '02 is over the hill now. 84 points. Cheers!

2006 Stefania Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch

Another outstanding bottle enjoyed at Oliver - A Bistro tonight in Bordentown. It's just a matter of time and this will be a 93 point wine in my opinion. Popped and poured with more of the same on the nose from past bottles: blackcherry, blackberry, blueberry, and plum, with some subtle hints of spice. Another creamy explosion on the palate with cherry, blueberry, and vanilla, with a nice lingering finish. It's hard to imagine that this wine is going to get better with time, but I am sure it will. It's also hard to believe that we have already blown through 3 bottles. Yikes! But have no fear, 6 still in the cellar, and 6 more on the way! 92 points, heading to 93 soon! Cheers!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lonfellow Restaurant - Saratoga, NY

Great restaurant with an amazing menu and good wine list. Full review to come!

Chef Brad's Macaroni & CheeseA new twist on our favorite comfort food. Tender cavatappi pasta and shaved black truffles tossed in a cognac cream sauce baked golden, then finished with a black truffle infused oil. $21.99 Add Lobster $29.99

Choice Filet MignonTenderloin of beef crusted with fresh garlic and black peppercorns served with grilled peppers

Longfellows Hotel, Restaurant, and Conference Center 500 Union Avenue Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 Phone (518) 587-0108 Fax (518) 587-6649

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

2006 A.P. Vin Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard

Unfortuantely, I think that this was a case of infantcide, and this bottle would benefit from another couple of years in the cellar. Lacking on the nose, with some hints of dark fruits, but nothing really stood out. On the palate, the slightest hints of sour cherry, and a sour finish that was short. This wine would definitely benefit from a couple of splash decants, and I would recommend splash decanting for at least 3 hours. Definitely hold for a few years. 85 points. Cheers

Friday, August 8, 2008

2005 Château Clos Chaumont Premières Côtes de Bordeaux

An end of night bottle here, this is what you get for a $13 Bordeaux. Decent fruit on the nose with some black currants and blackberry. On the palate, this wine was watery thin, and actually a bit on the sour side, with some sour cherry and black cherry. The finish was a bit on the tannic side, and showing it's young age, but wasn't offensive in the least. Another bottle that would befefit from a splash decant and a few hours in the decanter. Overall, a decent QPR. 84 points. Cheers!

2006 Sanford Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills

This was the 3 month re-visit for Sanford, and you can definitely taste a difference between the 2006 with the new regime at Sanford. Definitely young, and in need of a 3-4 hour decant. Young nose of cherry, raspberry, plum, cola, some floral notes, and that Santa Rita Hills soil. On the palate, some dark cherries and spice. It also has some creaminess, with I am assuming is coming from some French oak barrels, but I do not know that for fact. A little tannic finish and some sour notes as well, but I can expect this from such a young pinot. Regardless, it's going to be a good bottle with some time, and I was a little hesitant about Sanford with Richard and his gang leaving. Can't wait to do a side by side comparison with the 2006 Alma Rosa. 88 points now. Cheers!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

2005 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Côtes du Rhône Parallele “45”

Similar to many of these we've had, and we've burned through nearly 2 cases if not more. I don't think this wine is going to get any better in time, but for the price, who would expect that anyway. Regardless, it was a joy to drink. Nice hints of raspberry, plum, cherry, spice and oak on the nose. On the palate, notes of plum were dominant, with other hints of red berries and some spice. A short and sweet finish make this wine a pleasure to drink. Drink over the next 12 months. 87 points. Cheers

2006 Cloudline Pinot Noir

Full review to come!

El Meson - Freehold, NJ

Full review to come!

Friday, August 1, 2008

2006 Stefania Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch

Full review to come!

2006 Château Laulerie Bergerac Sec

Full review to come!

2004 Sanford Pinot Noir

Another great bottle of this lovely 2004, so I won't bore you with more of the same tasting notes. Drinking very well now, and I don't see this wine getting any better. Thankfully, we still have a few more as this is getting hard to find. Great wine, highly recommend. Second to last vintage from Richard Sanford and his old crew. From 2006 on, buy the Alma Rosa insead of the Sanford as it is more like this wine.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tiger Noodles - Princeton, NJ

It's been a long time since we have visited Tiger Noodles, so after a night of running errands, it seemed like a great place to stop for a quick bite. We had a great view on the outside patio of Nassau Street, and the entire patio was packed to the gills with diners enjoying wines they brought, as well as college students with 6 packs on the table. Unfortunately we for us, I didn't bring a bottle of wine as I didn't know we'd be eating there, but I wasn't really in the mood for a cocktail anyway. There is however a liquor store right next door, as well as another within walking distance, but we opted to go without the vino tonight. Lots of diners out in their gorgeous courtyard, and it was a great night to sit out. Service was fast, and that is always a good thing, but you can tell they are all about turning tables...smart thinking! We started off with 2 orders of vegetable spring rolls, and they came out within minutes, and were scorching hot out of the fryer. A nice egg roll wrapper with crisp veggies made these a pleasure to eat. For entrees, Zelda opted for the General Tso chicken, and this had a nice crisp coating to it, with a delicious sauce, with fresh peppers abundant. I opted for the Kung Pao Chicken, which had nice little bits of chicken, green and red peppers, peanuts, and chili's. This too was good. This is fast Chinese food at its best, but it did hit the spot tonight. It's not truly authentic, and it's not to die for, but it's good when you're in a pinch and hungry!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

2006 Tobin James Chardonnay James Gang Reserve

Another fun release from Tobin James, and another a bit over the top wine. They claim that this wine is rich and creamy, and it really is. Nose has some passion fruit, citrus, and a hint of grapefruit. On the palate, lots of caramel and vanilla that I attribute to the 100% new French Oak. This wine is very creamy as stated, with hints of grapefruit and citrus. It also has a certain sweetness to it, and combined with that texture, it really reminds me of a Sauternes. Regardless, it's a fun wine, and I would love to get my hands on some more. 89 points! Cheers!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

1998 Argyle Brut

After a long day at school, this was the perfect sipper to enjoy out on "the bistro" to celebrate Mrs. Johnson's 80 something birthday party. Being at the bottom end of their sparkling line, I wasn't sure what to expect with this, and I wasn't sure how long it would age. Needless to say, it aged well. Formal notes to come

Friday, July 11, 2008

2006 Newhaven Sauvignon Blanc

We enjoyed this bottle on the bistro after a night out to dinner. Very similar notes to other Newhaven's we've drank, so I won't bore you with the details. See other notes on this wine for our thoughts. 85 points. Cheers!

1992 Kistler Pinot Noir McCrea Vineyard

Who would have thought that this bottle had any fruit left in it whatsoever? I surely did not, but what a pleasant surprise. This was popped and poured tonight at Oliver - A Bistro in Bordentown. Upon opening, I cannot tell you how worried I was that this bottle was not going to be pleasant in the least. The cork came out in about 30 pieces, but regardless of how many pieces it was in, and how long it took to get it out, the cork did it's job, and the wine was still a pleasure to drink. Upon first pour, it looked as though there was a little bricking in the glass. I've never seen this in a pinot, but it is more common in older Bordeaux. Upon first smell, the nose was pretty muted, and I expected the worst. I thought for sure there would be some vinegar on the nose, with no fruit, but I was wrong. The nose had some floral notes, and was predominantly cherry. Tiny hints of blackberry and raspberry were there, but you really had to concentrate hard to pull them out of the mix.

The palate was a little muted at first, but by the time we finished the first half pour, this wine was in its perfect drinking window...at least for this particular wine a this particular moment. Ideally, I would guess that the perfect drinking window for this would have been sometime between 1999 and 2003. There was however a lot of cherry on the palate, and this wine really reminded me us of a cross between the 2004 Sanford, and the Benton Lane pinot noir. Seeing as this is a Kistler, that is not necessarily a good thing, but we were really expecting the worst.

Regardless, this was a very enjoyable wine, and the most aged pinot noir we have had to date. It had a smooth finish, with no tannin whatsoever, and a very pleasant after taste making it worthy of 92 points. This wine just proves that Kistler is produced for the long haul. Cheers!

Oliver - A Bistro Bordentown, NJ

Dinner at Oliver - A Bistro in Bordentown on a Friday night? Go figure! Another great meal! Kudos to the Oliver crew! Crispy Chicken Salmon

Thursday, July 10, 2008

2006 Stefania Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch

Tonight we enjoyed this bottle at Ristorante Giangela, and it was yet again another great bottle. Notes were exactly the same as last time, and this is such a great bottle of juice! Popped and poured, this had a gorgeous dark ruby color in the glass! Tons of floral notes, along with tons of dark fruits...black cherry, blueberry, blackberries, and plum. On the palate, the creamy fruit explodes! More cherry and blueberry, with hints of vanilla and caramel, which I attribute to the new French oak that they used in some of the barrels. Just the smallest hint of spice makes this wine absolultely incredible. A nice 30 second finish with surprisingly manageable tannins so early on with this wine make it perfect to drink now, or over the 5-7 years. Kudos once again to Paul and Stef. This wine is a winner now, and we look forward to seeing how it develops. The only difference between this bottle and the last, was that I think the floral notes on the nose really stood out in the glass this time. Such a great bottle for the price! 91 points. Cheers!

Ristorante Giangela - Crosswicks, NJ

Tonight was a great night to try Ristorante Giangela as they were donating 10% of every check to the Anchor House Ride. That said, what better night to go give this place a try, and to support the Anchor House? Upon arrival, the parking lot was full, but we did drive through and found parking on the side of the restaurant. Upon first entering the restaurant, you will notice the warm decor. Nice white pillars, and nice white trim on the ceiling. The walls are painted a nice cocao color, and the tables are nice and simple with a lite tan table cloth. Soft lighting makes this restaurant nice and romantic. We were greeted and brought to a nice 2 top in the center of the restaurant. There were 7 other tables when we arrived, including a large 8 top, so it was good to see the place full of patrons. That had at least another 6 tables they could have sat, so they do have nice table space. The hostess then told us that they had bread in the oven, and it would be out shortly. The bus boy came out a few minutes later and filled up our water glasses and took our wine to open for us. I have never understood why some restaurants will open the wine away from the table, but this is not the first time I have seen it. Tonight we popped a 2006 Stefania Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah, and it was marvelous as always. Fresh, hot bread came out shortly after, and Zelda filled up the plate of dry spices that was on the table with olive oil. The bread had a nice firm crust, and was very soft in the middle. Good stuff! Looking around the restaurant, you could see some unhappy faces, but at this point, we were not quite sure why. About 10 minutes later, our waitress came over and asked us if we were ready to order. She never told us about the specials, and didn't ask if we had any questions, and we didn't, but it would have been a nice gesture. Zelda opted for the Ravioli in saffron sauce, with a house salad, and I ordered the Chicken Parm with a caeser salad. In my opinion, I think that I can get a good feel for a restaurant based on their chicken parm....it's an italian staple. Salads came out about 20 minutes later, and I was starting to see why people had the long faces in the restaurant. You could tell that the food was coming out of the kitchen slow, but the servers were also slow as well. On the 8 top, we both noticed how they brought out the entrees one at a time. With that said, it took almost 10 minutes for the 8 top to all receive their entrees. I know that if I were the first person to receive my food, I would have been a little upset having to wait for everyone to receive their food as mine cooled off. This seemed to be a trend with all the tables, and I found it rather interesting. Why not get a big tray and bring everyones entrees out at once? Or maybe the kitchen is small and they don't have room for all the platings in the window. I don't know. So back to the salads, my caeser came out with the dressing drizzled on, topped with some cheese. Upon first taste, the dressing reminded me of Ken's, straight out of the bottle. I don't think that it was bad, but it definitely did not taste homemade. If you want to make a name for yourself, take the time and make a nice, homemade dressing. Zelda's salad was the house, and her dressing too tasted like something out of the bottle. She made a great point that it has been a while since we have had a salad that "wowed" us! There's nothing to making salads, and all you need is good, homemade dressing. Why can't restaurants get this right anymore? So a good hour has passed now, and we see Chrissy, a friend of ours from town come in with a friend of hers. At this same time, our entrees come out, and like the other tables, they came out one at a time. Very odd! Zelda's ravioli looks great! Huge, what look like homemade ravioli in what looks like a rich butter sauce. I enjoyed this very much, and I could see ordering it. The only gripe that I had, which is a gripe that I have often with ravioli, was that the inside took too much water, making the cheese inside very mushy and watery. The sauce again was very rich, and it had a nice, pungent saffron taste to it. For those who are not big fans of saffron, I wouldn't recommend this dish. If you are however a saffron lover, then this is for you. My chicken parm came out with a side of fettucini, and it looked great. A nice large piece of chicken pounded very thin, with a good crust, nice melted cheese, and the perfect amount of sauce on top. Upon cutting into it with my fork, there was a good crunch to the crust. The chicken however was a bit on the rubbery side, and had they gotten this right, it would have been better. The sauce on the other hand was ok, and it had a very sweet taste to it. I don't know if this was a good thing, or a bad thing. All in all, I thought the dish was just ok, and I wouldn't order it again if we went back. After dinner, we opted to skip dessert, and we finished out bottle of wine as we chatted with Chrissy and her friend. As their dinner came and our wine ran out, it was time to go home. In short, I think that this restaurant has a lot of potential. It's BYOB so that is a bonus, the decor is nice, although we would change the drapes, and the food and service need some work. I don't know if I would call it a "fine dining experience" as they claim, but I wouldn't be surprised if we head back sometime, but not in the immediate future. I was however glad to see that they were making the donation for the Anchor House Ride, and that was a good excuse for us to give the place a try.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Delorenzo's Tomato Pies - Robbinsville, NJ

A great night for some tomato pies with Zelda's family! Zelda's parents and her uncle picked us up, and off to Delorenzo's we went. Upon arrival, you could see about 15 people waiting outside for a table, and another 10 or so inside waiting. It was absolutely packed tonight, but that was expected. If it weren't, then we'd be worried! That just goes to show just how right Sammy and his crew are doing it over there! We were told the wait would be an hour to hour and 15 minutes, but we were seated in about 50. As I always say, it's worth the wait! There is nothing like Delo's, and it cannot be beat! . With 5 of us, they say us in one of the nice, cushy booths, and we had plenty of room! We opted for 2 salads as appetizers, and this was the first time that we have had these. Very good appetizer that hit the spot, with the fancy lettuce, candied walnuts, and the slightest drizzle of dressing that did not overpower the salad at all. Nice slices of fresh green apple topped this salad off nicely. It was the perfect starter! . For pies tonight, we ordered 3 larges. Uncle B opted for the broccoli and mushroom, Zelda and her Mom went for the sweet pepper and mushroom, and her dad had 1/2 pepperoni, while I opted for 1/2 sausage and sweet peppers. Uncle B's pie came out first, and he and Zelda dug right in. The cheese was still bubbling when it arrived, and our mouths started watering! Next came the 1/2 sausage and sweet pepper, and 1/2 pepperoni. In we dug, and this one too was hot, bubbling, and covered in sausage and sweet peppers! The last pie came out, and we were all some happy campers. Even Uncle B was commenting on how good the pie was, and he lives near a great pizza place up North. But as he stated, this is a lot different than a pizza, it's a tomato pie! That said, it was another tasty meal, with great service, and you have to love the fact that it is BYOB. See the review of the Chalone Cabernet Sauvignon that we brought along as well. Kudos to same and the staff at Delo's! Look forward to seeing you guys again soon!

2003 Chalone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Monterey County

A nice QPR that was very enjoyable at Delorenzo's! A nice cab for the money, and a great QPR! Typical cab notes, with hints of dark cherry and blackberry on the nose. On the palate, a nice dry cab, with hints of red currants and blackberry, with a short, dry finish. Overall, a great QPR worthy of 86 points. Cheers!

Oliver - A Bistro - Bordentown, NJ

It's been a while since we have been able to make it to Oliver's for lunch, so what better day than after the 4th of July? We arrived around Noon, only to find 2 other tables in the restaurant, but by the time we left, they had quite a few more tables sat! We got a great seat in the window, and it was nice to see our friends Pat & Frank having lunch at Oliver as well. As usual, Bruce took great care of us, and it is always a pleasure. Owner Danielle came over and spent quite some time chatting with us, and that is always nice. Not only are her and Matt great restaurateur's, they are also damn nice people, and good friends. Zelda opted for her usual today, the West Coast Wrap, which is filled beautifully with grilled chicken, avocado, and a delicious sauce. This is one if Zelda's favorites, and is ordered quite often with roasted potatoes on the side. I opted for my usual as well, the Jack Mack burger. This is a great bistro styled burger opposed to the down and dirty greasy burger. It's topped with a delicious cheese spread and bacon, and I too opted for the roasted potatoes on the side. I love the buns that they serve this burger one. They have a nice crunch on the outside, yet are so soft in the middle. It was cooked medium and perfect, and was such a tasty meal! What can we say? Another great meal at Oliver's, and that's why we keep coming back! I'm sure a lot of you are sick of reading about this place, but we just cannot get enough! Kudos guys!