Sunday, January 23, 2011

Farewell Manila Bay - Castor Avenue - Philadelphia, PA

It's with a very heavy heart that I say that today we visited our favorite Filipino restaurant for the very last time. After 15 years of faithful service to the neighborhood, Manila Bay is closing its doors due to this tough economy!

I first heard of Manila Bay when I was serving on the Asian Pacific American Heritage organization on McGuire Air Force Base back in 2003. At the time, I was organizing an outing for our group, comprised of different Asians, and I thought it would be fun to try to find a Filipino restaurant. That said, I hopped on Google, and found Manila Bay.

Once I found their website, I saw the pictures, and knew that this was someplace that I had to visit. The restaurant had much of the same Filipino décor that I grew up with in our house as a kid. In seeing the pictures of the staff, you could tell there was a lot of Filipino family that worked here, hung out here, and ate here. I e-mailed them to see if we could get a reservation, and I received an e-mail back from Bob, the owner, along with his wife Cherrie, and we made our first trip with a group of 12.

In arriving at Manila Bay for the first time back in 2003, the first thing I noticed was the shadow box of a retired USAF Senior Master Sergeant, and upon a closer look, I saw that Bob was retired from the United States Air Force. Talk about a small world! Unfortunately, Bob was not in tonight, but we did meet his wife Cherrie, who was Filipino, and she was great. It turned out that Bob is actually Korean/Irish, but as we've said for years, Bob is more Filipino than all of us combined! ;-)

In the years to follow, we kept in touch with Cherrie and Bob, and they truly became family to us. For me, this was the closest thing to Filipino family I had on the East Coast, and every time we'd visit, they treated us just like family! In total, we probably visited "The Bay" a few dozen times through the years, and it is somewhere that we are really going to miss.

For me, the food was just like it was when I was a kid! Cherrie has the exact same cooking techniques as my Mom does, and her staples are just like Mom's. From the lumpia, to the fried tilapia, to the adobo, to the pork inihaw, they are all just like mom used to make. Even the Filipino fried rice as I like to call it, they all reminded me of sitting at the table as a kid, with the exact same flavors.

When we heard last week that Sunday would be the last day Manila Bay would be open, we knew that we had to stop in sometime over the weekend. Sunday turned out to be the best day, so we figured we'd run some errands, then head to "The Bay" to catch the Bears -vs- Packers playoff game. Unfortunately, it didn't work out so well for my Bears, but congratulations to the Packer's on making it to the Super Bowl. Congrats also to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

We arrived at the restaurant and a lot of the family was there. It was great to see some familiar faces, as well as some new faces. Meanwhile, the restaurant was doing a ton of carryout business, and people surely got word that this was the final hoorah for Manila Bay. This is actually really sad! Where has all this business been for the last year! There were also all kinds of old friends of Manila Bay coming in, and it was really nice to see everyone send Bob and Cherrie off in style!

We snagged a table in front of the TV for the game, and sat right next to the family. It was nice chatting with them all, and again, sad that this is the last time we will see them all here. But like anything, all good things have to come to an end.

Caroline came over to see what she could get for us, and pretty much figured out what we were going to eat on her own. LOL! How do you not love that. I started off with some fresh rolled lumpia, and as always they were stellar. So much better than the ones that I make, and you have got to love them. They business they have done the last few days was so tremendous that they actually had to roll lumpia, and they were making them throughout the day. That is awesome, and I am so glad that I got my lumpia fix!

For entrees, Zelda went with the vegetable pancit, and I went with pork inihaw, a Filipino staple. Both of course were delicious! It was actually funny that Cherrie had to send her daughter in law to the Asian market to get some more pork just to ensure they had enough to get through the end of the day. Needless to say, the pork inihaw was coming out of the kitchen like wild fire, and it was delicious. We also got a side of Filipino fried rice, or as they like to call it, garlic fried rice. Mom used to make this all the time, and this tasted just like Mom's. Between this and the pork inihaw, I have plenty leftover for lunch tomorrow!

Dessert also came out, which is always some sort of gelatin based salad, with a nice creamy texture to it. I can never remember what this is called, but it is always good. It came out in a massive portion, filling a big margarita styled glass, and it was again delicious.

A little while later, a band came in and started setting up. This was a Filipino band that used to play here over the years called PA+DE in Full. You can check them out on MySpace at: They were a lot of fun, and played some current hits, as well as some Tagalog songs. What a great way to send Manila Bay on their way!

So all of that said, we hung out for the afternoon, and I dreaded having to say good bye to Bob and Cherrie, as well as Caroline. Thankfully, I know that we will see them again, but it is unfortunate that we won't see them here at Manila Bay again.

In short, thanks to Bob, Cherrie, and Manila Bay for 15 years of faithful service to the community! I am so thankful that I had the chance to meet you guys, and be part of the Manila Bay family. The food at Manila Bay more than satisfied my cravings for Mom's cooking, and for that, we're forever grateful! You guys are a class act, and we are truly going to miss your fine establishment! Thanks so much for the memories, and we look forward to seeing you at our "Filipino Luau" over the summer! Cheers and Love! -F. Scott and Zelda

2004 Sanford Pinot Noir (Central Coast, Santa Barbara County, Santa Rita Hills)

This was quite possibly our favorite Sanford pinot noir for years, and I hate to say it, but I think that it may just finally be on the decline.  Storage conditions on this bottle, as well as the others have been perfect since release.

Popped and poured today at Manila Bay on Castor Avenue in Philadelphia, as we celebrate 15 years of faithful service to the neighborhood. Today however, Manila Bay opens its doors for the last time, and we bid Cherrie and Bob a fond farewell. They are the closest thing I have to Filipino family on the East Coast, and it's sad that this is our last visit.

Gorgeous ruby red color in the glass, but the nose is starting to fade compared to when we last had this wine 2 1/2 years ago. Some cherry and strawberry on the nose, with hints of cola and spice, but these are all
fading and subdued. Some herbal notes round out the nose.

On the palate, the first thing you notice is a bit of sour cherry, where the cherry used to be fresh, lively, and forward. More strawberry on the palate, with a hint of black cherry, raspberry, and cranberry. A little spice and caramel round out the palate, and the alcohol and tannins are nicely integrated at this point.

Plenty of nice flavors still on this wine, but it's not nearly as fruit forward as it used to be. I actually chose this wine after seeing almost a case of the 2004 between two different stores here in Jersey last Monday. I figured I could re-visit this wine, and if it was still showing well, I'd go back and pick up the case.

This wine has always had a special place in our hearts, and it definitely has a few years left. Unfortunately for me, I don't see it getting any better, so I think I will just sit on our last bottle, and try it again in a few years. Maybe this is a mistake, maybe it's not. We'll see! For now however, this is worthy of 87 points. Cheers!

2005 Maybach Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Materium

Fom 15 JAN at Blackbird Dining Establishment:

Knowing this wine needs some time, I popped and decanted this for 4 hours in the cellar, and then strained this with cheese cloth before returning it to the bottle and heading to dinner.  This wine had a lot of sediment in it, and I am glad that I decanted this ahead of time!  I was actually a bit shocked at how much sediment was on this wine for being so young.

This was the first of the '05's from our cellar that we've popped, though I have had this wine many times, along with the '06 and '07 at various events that we have attended.  Having both the '06 and '07 recently, I figured it was worth checking in on this wine again with a fairly agressive decant.  Maybach is one of the few must buys left on my "must buy" list, and one of the very few $100+ wines that I will be purchasing anymore.  This wine was released at $110.

We arrived at Blacking Dining Establishment, and I grabbed the Riedel Bordeaux/Cabernet glasses, and pulled the bottle from the carrying case and poured both of us a glass.  I proceeded to aerate the wine in the glass before first sip, and noticed a table with a decanter and a bottle of BV something or another.  Unfortunately, I never did get to see which wine it was, or what year it was.

This showed a gorgeous, dark garnet color in the glass, and I could smell the Maybach plain as day in the glass from a few feet away, with an absolutely intoxicating nose.  Wow this gorgeous!

Oodles and oodles of dark fruits here!  Gorgeous black currant and mocha dominate the nose here, but there is also some jammy black cherry, leather, and creamy sweet vanilla.  Finally, some herbacous and spicy notes round out the nose, and the wine smells rather large from the nose alone.

On the palate, the 4 hour decant did wonders for this wine, and I was absolutely correct in the fact that I figured this would show nicely right now.  More cassis on the palate with some black cherry, blackberry, rapberry, and black currants.  Some nice vanilla, butterscotch, and chocolate tones. 

The finish is very nice, and nicely integrated.  The tannins are present, and that is not a bad thing in the least.  The alcohol is nicely integrated as well, and there is barely any heat whatsoever.  All in all, a 4 hour decant with another 45 minutes in the bottle on the way to Blackbird did this absolute wonders!  This wine is big, and it was dranking incredibly given the decant.  It also paired perfectly with my rib eye, topped with freshly shaved truffle.

At the end of the evening, this wine was 96 points worthy, and I don't possibly see how this is not going to make our Top 10 of 2011 list.  If it doesn't however, I will hardly be disappointed, as that just means that we drank some damn nice vino in 2011!  Cheers!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2007 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve

After having  this at our Christmas Party back in December when someone at our table brought it, I figured it was time to pop one of our own.  That said, this is the second time we've had this wine.  Unfortunately, it didn't show nearly as well as the first time.

Picked up this bottle from the Class 6 on McGuire Air Force Base, the same place that one of my colleagues got the wine from for our party.  I actually purchased this on the same day as him, just and hour or so before he did.  That said, these provenance on the bottles should have been close to identical.  This has been stored since then in our cellar at a constant 55 degrees.

Popped and poured this tonight at Oliver-A Bistro in Bordentown, NJ with my in-laws.  Nice dark Napa garnet color in the glass.  The nose seemed much thinner than when we had this wine in December.  Some currants and cassis on the nose, with some sweet vanilla, jammy raspberry, herb, and baking spice.

On the palate, this seemed very thin again compared to last month, almost watered down which is a shame.  The last bottle we had showed some great complexity given it's youth, and this one seemed to be lacking in many different arena's.

The fruit profile just wasn't there, showing some thin dark black fruits of blackberry, blueberry, and some hints of raspberry.  There is a bit of sweet vanilla and spice as well.  Definitely a lighter wine than we had last month, and all around, it was just thin and lacking.  Even the tannins were not grippy or chewy like our last visit, and that was disappointing.  Bottle variation could very well be an issue here.

That said, this bottle was thin and boring, and we'll revisit it again in another 6 months to a year as it is super young.  I don't see why this wine won't age well for many years to come.  After all, we had the '00 and '01 a couple years ago, and they were absolutely delicious.  We'll see!  83 points.  Cheers!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Legend's Gourment Pizza & Salads - Burlington, NJ

Stay tuned for some info on some great thin crust right downtown in Burlington City!  This was a treat, and a heck of a steal on a Sunday!  Definitely worth the trip!  Cheers!

Legend's Gourmet Pizza & Salads

318 High Street
Burlington, NJ 08016
Phone:  (609)386-3001

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blackbird Dining Establishment - Collingswood, NJ

There really isn’t much else to say about my love for Blackbird Dining Establishment. This has proven to be one of my favorite restaurants, not just for the food, but for the service as well. With the move from its current location to Haddon the main drag in Collingswood happening in just a few weeks, we thought we would stop in for one final visit at the location where we fell in love with Chef Capasso’s cuisine.

I made a reservation earlier in the week, and we arrived a few minutes prior, and our table was ready. They had a nice 4 top in the window for us, in what I consider one of the best tables. I absolutely love these two tables in the windows, as do many others I’m sure. Janine sat us as I pulled out the Riedel’s along with a 2005 Maybach that I had decanted for sediment and let rest in the cellar for 4 hours prior to putting it back in the bottle and heading to Blackbird.

Janine asked us what kind of water we liked, and out it came as Adam came over to greet us and tells us about tonight’s special’s. He also noted that Chef Capasso had fresh truffle in the house, and this was another reason we came to visit tonight! =)  As you can see from the picture at the right, I did indeed take advantage of this, and yes, that is some fresh shaved truffle on my plate!  YUM!

We started with the Thai Chicken Spring Rolls, which came out hot and crispy, with 4 nice pieces of spring roll, filled with a nicely flavored chicken mixture. These were served on top of some thinly shave zucchini I think. It was almost like a fresh little salad, on the side of some sweet Thai chili sauce that was delicious. The spring rolls were also topped by a few pea tendrils that we absolutely love, but the real beauty of this dish was the spicy wasabi mustard that was to die for! Such great flavors, and so much flavor in the mustard! This was a great dish, and a very nice start!
For entrees tonight, Zelda just could not pass up the fresh, homemade pasta, and I really cannot blame her! She went with the linguine with wild mushrooms in a porcini sauce, with the fresh truffle add on. Is there really such a thing as too much tuber melanosporum? I don’t think so! As always, this was a great dish, and Chef Capasso knows how to make good fresh pasta! This pasta was nice and thin, and very flavorful! We’ve had this dish in the past, and the truffle really adds a nice new element to it. Can you really go wrong here? Again, no!

I went the rib eye route tonight, and got my steak on! This was a nice cut, cooked perfectly to medium, topped with asparagus, and I too got the fresh truffle add on. This was then served over a bed of Chef Capasso’s award winning mac ‘n cheese. The steak was very flavorful, and seasoned perfectly, and the asparagus was very nice as well. It was also topped with fried onions, but I removed these and ate these after the fact as a side as not to mask the flavor of the truffle.

As always, the mac ‘n cheese was a hit and delicious. This is different from the mac ‘n cheese that is served at Chef Capasso’s West Side Gravy, as this is more saucy. Even so, they are both delicious, and this could be a great meal in itself! But with the elaborate menu and so many good dishes at Blackbird, I would never order mac ‘n cheese on its own there! Well, maybe I would.

By this point, we were stuffed, and truly enjoying sipping the delicious ’05 Maybach, but we can’t go home without dessert, room or not! That said, we went with the chocolate 3 ways. For the life of me, I can’t remember what the 3 elements were called. In the center was a chocolate mousse of sorts, along with a chocolate filled éclair of sorts on the left, and a chocolate filled brownie of sorts on the right. All 3 were awesome, and we enjoyed them!

It’s always nice to shoot the bull with the staff. We talked to Janine about the progress at the new location, and she said it was coming along fast, and that they were excited! Who wouldn’t be excited though, with two great restaurants sharing the same kitchen at the same location? Chef Capasso also came over the see how everything was, and he was very excited as well. It’s nice that he really wants and honest opinion on his food, and truly cares that his customers have a great experience.

One thing to note is that Blackbird will be serving its last meal at the location we have grown to love on Sunday January 23rd, 2011. They will close that night and make the big move the week of January 24th, and they look forward to re-opening both Blackbird and West Side Gravy the first week of February at 714 Haddon Avenue on the main drag in Collingswood! We can’t wait!

In short, what’s there to say other than the fact that we had another delicious meal at Blackbird! It’s become one of our favorite restaurants, and we really can’t be anymore than thankful that friends Tom and Denise turned us on to Blackbird…and West Side Gravy too! It’s sad to see this chapter of Blackbird closing, but it is even more exciting to see a new chapter opening. Hopefully we can still get in as often, but I think they are going to have a lot more traffic at the new location! Congratulations to Chef Capasso and his staff, and we look forward to the opening of the new chapter! Cheers!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jersey Foodies 2010 TOP 10 WINE LIST!

As with every year, it is nearly impossible to compile 500-1000 wines, and whittle it down to the best 10.  There are hundreds of honorable mentions, and even many wines that in the end received higher scores than ones on this list.

This list however is not about the best score or the highest ratings that we have given.  This list is more about the most memorable wines of 2010, and why they were so memorable.  Maybe it was the actual wine.  Maybe it was the restaurant or event that this wine was consumed at, or maybe it was all about the moment.  Regardless, here we go:

10.  1975 Chateau Leoville Las Cases – this was a classic example of a perfectly stored Bordeaux that should have been well over the hill.  Needless to say, we had this on Valentine’s Day at Tastebuds in New Hope, PA, and it showed a lot better than expected.  Even our waiter truly enjoyed and appreciated having a taste of this gem that had been well stored in our cellar for years.

9.  2006 Myriad Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon – this was one of the young Cali cabs that truly impressed me this year.  We ended up drinking this on a random night “on the bistro,” and it was one of those awesome moments that made me go wow!  This was a joy, and I look forward to seeing the fruit in this wine develop with time in the bottle.

8.  2000 Sine Qua Non “The Boot” – this magnum was brought to Berserkerfest at Peking Duck House in November, and for a 10 year old white, this blew me away.  Hands down my best white (non Champagne or sparkling) wine of the year.  This was gorgeous, and it was a great night with great friends!

7.  1990 Chateau Leoville Barton – this was opened at our generous friend Dee’s house, and pulled from her cellar.  Another very young, but great wine that was drinking so nice with good friends!  What a joy this bottle was on a great pre holiday night with amazing friends!

6.  1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia – another wine consumed at Berserkerfest in November, and one of my favorite Insignia’s to date!  I think this is just the second time an Insignia has found its way to our Top 10 list.  We were also blessed to attend a ’74-’07 Insignia vertical this year that was absolutely amazing.  One of these days I will get around to finishing and posting my notes.

5.  2006 Ghost Horse Shadow – what is there to say about Ghost Horse other than wow?  This wine isn’t for the faint at heart, and I’ve been hearing about “The Todd’s” wines for years.  Needless to say, this is his most affordable bottling, and as I said in my tasting note, quite possibly the best $100 wine I have ever had.  Kudos to Todd and Ghost Horse, and a HUGE thanks to Randy and Carrie at Napa Valley Wine and Cigar!  Count me in for a 6 pack of the 2007 that should be released sometime in February!

4.  2001 Chateau d’Yquem – is there really anything that needs to be said about this wine?  Well, actually, yes!  It was consumed WAY to early, but we had the chance to consume a lot of this thanks to the generosity of great wine friends!  I look forward to seeing how this wine is going to develop over the rest of my lifetime!  And I truly think that it will last that long!

3.  2006 Sine Qua Non Raven Syrah – when Paul and Stef were asked at our Stefania tasting what they liked to drink, Paul mentioned his love for syrah!  This was the second of the syrah I pulled from the cellar that night, narrowly getting edged out by a wine that could almost be called it’s cousin.  Regardless, both these wines were great, and it was the Lillian that just barely edged it out.

2.  2005 Lillian Syrah – This was the wine I was referring to above that narrowly beat out the Sine Qua Non.  I think that the extra year in the bottle truly gave this wine the edge, along with the fact that it’s not quite as high octane, and just a bit more subdued than the Sine Qua Non with more balance.  Regardless, they were both great wines, and were neck and neck.

1.  2001 Chateau Lafite Rothschild – Here is another wine served at Berserkerfest at Peking Duck House in November, and we can’t think fellow Berserker Mont enough for bringing this to share.  This was such an amazing night with great wines, and we both had the opportunity to really taste this wine throughout the evening.  By the end of the night, this wine was singing, and it is only going to get better with time.

So there you have it, and yes, I know many of you were there for some wines that were even more amazing than these, but these are the ones that I chose!  Cheers!

Jersey Foodies 2010 TOP 10 FOODIE LIST!

Every year, I try to come up with a Top 10 List that talks about the most memorable new restaurants we’ve visited, or great events that we’ve attended.  Some years, I actually get around to writing this list, while other years it falls by the wayside.  This year, I actually found the time to do it, so here we go.

Many times, people will disagree with events that I list here, and that is fine.  It may not necessarily be about the best meal we’ve had, but it’s about the experience we’ve had, and the potential that this new restaurant has.  There is quite a bit of variation on this list again, but I can tell you that 2010 was one of our best years yet!  Check out the list, and let’s hear your thoughts!

Cheers, and here’s to a happy and healthy 2011!  And now, the TOP TEN:

10.  Peking Duck House – What is there to say other than the fact that there were another 2 successful Berserkerfest’s at New York’s Peking Duck House?  The first being in May, and the second being in November.  Always a great night, and always a great group coming in from all over the country.  2010 was no different, and they were indeed some awesome nights filled with great food, and great wine!  Other than Berserkerfest’s, we made it to Peking Duck House an additional 5 times.  Not bad considering we don’t live in the city!

9.  Delorenzo’s Tomato Pies – For me, tomato pies do not get any better than Delorenzo’s Tomato Pies on Hudson Street in Trenton, as well as on Route 33 in Robbinsville.  Delorenzo’s was once again Top 10 worthy, so check ‘em out at: and give them a visit!  Like other years, we visited Delorenzo’s over a dozen and a half times this year!

8.  Chef Jose Garces:  I can’t tell you how impressed I was by our visits to Chef Jose Garces different restaurants in Philly.  Check them out at:  We had great visits his many different restaurants this year, and two that stick out are Village Whiskey and Garces Trading Co!  Both excellent, and we look forward to making it back to these and his others in 2011.  Check ‘em out at:  and

7.   The Farnsworth House – Bordentown, NJ:  What can I say about The Farnsworth House other than awesome in 2010?  One of the main reasons they made this list is because of their ever changing bar menu featuring many great items ranging from $3.95-$10.95.  This changes almost weekly, and there is always something good on there.  For the cost, they have an incredible burger, but my favorite lies in the mussels, or the salmon and asparagus.  My true favorite from the bar menu however is the Kofte kebab!  This is heaven!  Their wine list is on the up and up, and their by the glass selections are tasty for the money with the best wines by the glass in town.  The Ventisquero pinot noir is awesome, as well as the Yali sauvignon blanc.  Their wines by the bottle have come a long way as well, with great wines like Clayhouse, Cakebread, Yali, Ventisquero, and Core, many of which are distributed by the great folks at Victory Selections, another Bordentown gem....of which yours truly is a part of on a part time basis...for now!  May just be full time soon!  Finally, 24 beers on tap?  Awesome!  They added a new beer tower, and these too are changing every time we stop in.  This is a great local bar, and worth the trip for the beer list alone!

6.  Coltello Restaurant – Crosswicks, NJ: This is hands down the best Italian BYO restaurant in Central New Jersey, owned and operated by Chef Dominick of Conti’s Little Flower and Spigoli! Now Chef Dominick has his own family owned and operated restaurant, and it is our go to Italian place in this area! Great job to Dominick, Richard Sr., and Richard Jr. We look forward to many visits in 2011!

5.  Oliver-A Bistro – Bordentown, NJ:  This is another restaurant that we just cannot get enough of.  For whatever reason though, it seems like we hit Oliver for lunch more than dinner this year, which is actually kind of shocking!  But even so, I still think they have the best rack of lamb in NJ, and someday I am going to figure out to cook it as good as Chef McElmoyl does!   From Danielle running the front of house, to her husband Chef Matt in the kitchen, to Bruce, Kevin, or the rest of the gang, Oliver-A Bistro is a class act serving some of the best food in NJ.

4.  West Side Gravy – Collingswood, NJ: What is there to say about this restaurant other than awesome? We were very excited to see Chef Capasso open this venture, and even more excited to see him hire Chef Siobhan Allgood who appeared on Season 8 of Hell’s Kitchen! This was the most exciting new restaurant of 2010 that we visited, and my choice for our 2010 restaurant of the year. Kudos to the team and staff at both Blackbird and West Side Gravy. Chef Capasso has a great team at both locations, and look for some exciting things to happen as both of these restaurants are being renovated into one location on the main drag in Collingswood!

3.  Speaking engagements:  this year was by far the best year for us to come and present to different organizations, and we did a numerous amount of events this year ranging in topics to food, to wine, to cooking, to grilling.  By far the most memorable event for me was the presentation we gave at the Present Day Club in Princeton.  This is a very nice organization we were asked to speak at thanks to one of their members Marge D’Amico, and we couldn’t have been any more honored.  We had a great lunch prepared by Chef Christine, and then enjoyed the afternoon speaking at their club!  What a great day, and a great excuse to be out of the office!  ;-)  The Present Day Club details can be found at:

2.  Stefania Wines comes to New Jersey:   It’s not often that our little town can say that a winemaker comes to visit, and this year, we were lucky enough to host Paul and Stefania Romero of Stefania Wines in our backyard with a group of about 40 friends.  They sent 3 cases of their wines our ahead of time, and Zelda put together a gorgeous menu.  I fired up the smoker for some briskets, and the Flannery sliders were a hit like always.  All I can say is that it was a great evening, and we finally met fellow Jersey bloggers John and Lisa of: as well as Frank Nerney of:   This event can be read about at: 

1.  And the number 1 memory of 2010 for us would have to be being once again featured in the New York Times in a story about New Jersey food bloggers.  This story can still be found online at: 

Stay tuned for our TOP 10 WINE LIST to come as well!  And also stay tuned for our HUGE list of honorable mentions!  Breaking it down to 10 really is a hard task!  Cheers!

2009 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir and Chardonnay Release is coming!

Below is the e-mail that I received from Rivers-Marie today!  This is always a must buy for us as we really enjoy their wines!  Check out the letter, and keep an eye on your Inbox!  This release will have the 2009 wines!

As much as we love these wines, we still haven't touched the last two releases, with the exception of a Sonoma Coast from both the 2007 and 2008 vintage.  Other than that, they have been resting nicely in the cellar as we love these with some bottle time!  This will join those as we get prepared to take all that we're offered!  Cheers!
Dear Jersey Foodies :

The release of our 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay will begin one week from today, on Tuesday January 18th at 9am Pacific Time. As in the past, this release is via email only. You will receive an email with your username and password as the offer goes live. We did our best to offer a 12 bottle allocation this year, but production levels in '09 were down substantially from '08 and some wines will definitely go fast. The release email will also contain a special announcement. We're always excited to share good news with you and this is something truly exciting.

If you need to change your contact email in advance of the release, please email Nat Gunter at or call 707.963.4270 and we'll be happy to update your information.

Thank you for your support!

Thomas Rivers Brown and Genevieve Marie Welsh

2008 Yali Winemakers Selection Cabernet Carmenere Blend

Twisted open and poured into the glass, with a nice ruby red color in the glass. A bit of alcohol on the nose, but this fades as the bottle is open for 2 hours. 60% cabernet, but that is not blatantly obvious on the nose. Nice currants, and a bt of green pepper on the nose, with some nice black cherry, strawberry, and vanilla. The nose is rounded out by hints of mocha and spice. 

On the palate, more of the same really, along with a bit of dustiness. This wine is actually more fuller than I had expected, and at this price, this is a hell of a QPR once again. The finish is short and pleasant, and this wine should mellow out and smooth out with another year in the bottle. Definitely do not see any benefit from long term cellaring, so feel free to drink away with an hour in the decanter. 86 points. Cheers!


Well, another mailer hit today, and this is one that I am very excited to get on!  Unfortunately, my long wait for Schrader is going to have to wait another year, as it just isn't in the cards this year.

My goal for 2011 is t cut back on wine purchases by 75%, and the only way I can do that is to cut back on my mailers.  That said, sorry Schrader!  You are more than cellar worthy in my house, but I just don't have it in the cards this year.  Maybe next year!  Cheers!


Dear NJ Foodies,

Wow, was 2010 a great year or what?

In December, Robert M. Parker, Jr., Wine Advocate, honored the Schrader CCS and Schrader “Old Sparky” Cabernets with a three-years-in-a-row “100-Point Trifecta”, while in October, Senior Editor James Laube, Wine Spectator, awarded his first-ever 100-point ratings for the same two wines from the 2007 vintage and crafted a phenomenal article about Ol’ Fred and our wine program. Truly, 2010 was a breathtaking year.


Yes, the waiting period is over. We sincerely appreciate your patience and loyalty and now, as part of this activation, we are thrilled to provide you with an opportunity to purchase one 2009 Schrader “Collector Pack” containing three bottles of our benchmark Cabernet Sauvignons beginning on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 9AM PST .

The 2009 Schrader “Collector Pack” includes one bottle (750ml) of each: 2009 Schrader Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Schrader CCS Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2009 Schrader RBS Cabernet Sauvignons all presented in a signature wooden case at a cost of $525 plus tax and shipping.

There will be a limited number of “Collector Packs” offered on a first-come, first-served basis while inventories remain available. We anticipate these wine packs may sell out quickly and encourage you to access your online offer at your earliest opportunity as soon as the ordering window opens. Due to the first-come, first-served nature of this offer, it will expire when the wine packs sell out or at 5PM PST on February 1, 2011, whichever comes first. As the offer is based on real-time inventory, orders may ONLY be placed via our online store at to ensure wine packs are available for purchase. We will not be able to accept faxed or mailed orders.

We encourage you to LOG IN to your personal profile on our website before January 15, 2011 to confirm your information is up-to-date. Finally, we will send a reminder via email when the offer window opens at 9AM PST on January 18, 2011. Orders successfully placed via our online system will receive an immediate email confirmation.

Please note, we are scheduled to begin shipping the 2009 Schrader Cabernet Sauvignons on Monday, November 7, 2011, weather permitting.

As always, we sincerely thank you for joining us on this amazing path, both in wine and life.

All the best,

Fred and Carol Schrader and the entire Schrader Team

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2008 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Popped and poured tonight with sushi and noodle bowls at Tsukasa in Bordentown, NJ.  It seems tradition to pop a Sonoma Coast right after the first of the year as I know the next vintage will be released in just a matter of days.  That said, we did it again, and I am sure the offering for the 2009’s will be coming any day!

Nice red/purple color in the glass, thinning towards the rim and showing its youth.  The nose is big and gorgeous, with nice hints of cherries, cola, spice, and pomegranate.  The nose is rounded out with some vanilla and hints of orange zest.

On the palate, this was tight for the first 30 minutes, but I continued to aerate this in the glass, and it continued to open over the course of an hour and a half while we were at Tsukasa.   Definitely young on the palate, with a combination of both bright cherry, as well as tart cherry.  It sounds crazy, but both elements are there.   Some cranberry and strawberry rear their heads a bit on the palate as well.  There is nice spice on this wine, with hints of nutmeg and baking spice.

The finish has some heat on it, but again, this has only been in the cellar for 11 months now.  The long and short of this wine is that for $25, this could be one of the best QPR’s out there, and a heck of a good representation of a great Sonoma Coast pinot noir.  Year in, year out, this is a solid QPR, and I only wish that we were allocated more of them!  91 points, gaining a point or two with more time in the bottle.  Cheers!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year - Hello 2011

Well readers, as always, 2010 ended with a bang, and we were as busy as we could possibly be!  I have a ton of reviews to finish, and a whole stack of notes, napkins, business cards, and e-mails to myself with more notes that I need to consolidate and write up to post here!  

Unfortunately, my schedule is pretty insane between now and the end of February, but I am going to do my best to get caught up!  In the meantime, Happy New Year, and we wish you the best in 2011!

Stay tuned for many exciting things to come on our blog and Facebook page in 2011!  From our kitchen table to yours, we wish you the best!  Cheers!  -F. Scott and  Zelda!