Category Archives: United States

2008 Chatom Vineyards Syrah

2008 Syrah

We decided to take a ride to the new Vin Bin last night for their Thursday night tasting and found a few treats. This 2008 Syrah is from the Sierra Foothills AVA which is located directly east of Napa at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s young and only cost $25 but it tasted well so we picked up a bottle.

colonelgrape: 85. We had a cork disaster opening this bottle but were able to recover and not need to filter. At first taste it was harsh and overwhelming, unlike at the tasting. It was at room temperature which wasn’t helping and so we threw it in the decanter and in the fridge for 20 minutes. A little air and being at the proper temperature did the trick and the wine opened up nicely. Classic Rhone Syrah nose of dark fruit, spices, black licorice, and earth. On the palate similar flavors came through. Long finish with notes of pepper and black cherry. Plenty of fruit but not too fruity. I may have liked it better with a slightly lower alcohol content…at 15% we noticed it at the end of the night and it can kind of sneak up on you. I think this drinks well now but would be better with 2-3 more years in the bottle but I like old Syrah. Overall a fun wine for a decent price.

MobyGrape: 87.  This was a strong showing from a syrah we picked up on a whim after a rando Thursday night tasting.  At one point I thought it smelled like caramel and butter, and at one point I decided it tasted buttery too.  I’m not sure if either of those statements are entirely accurate, but it was really quite smooth once it opened up.  We decanted it for a bit (not sure if you have to) because the cork split when we were opening it, and maybe that helped since the first few sips (with half of the cork expertly rammed into the bottle) were ok, but a little tight.  But after it sat for a bit it was much more mellow.  I can’t really identify what it tastes like, if it’s fruity I can’t tell what fruit this is, but it’s good.  Like I want to try it with chocolate or a dessert for some reason.  Or maybe I just want dessert.  Either way, use this as an excuse to have syrah and something sweet.

2008 Cartlidge & Browne Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

2008 C & B Cabernet

We opened our first Cabernet of the grilling season with teriyaki steak, peppers, and onion kabobs and sausage stuffed mini pepper kabobs. The stuffed peppers were sweet and offered a nice contrast to the steak and vegetables. We’re getting back to basics with this wine pairing. I got this bottle from Bottles on Commercial St in Boston last year for $17.

colonelgrape: 78. Not a bad bottle but just not my thing. Classic jammy cab, huge dark fruit flavor, tannis were actually under control but we decanted for 30-45 mins prior to drinking. When I first started getting into wine I started with Cabernet and I would have absolutely loved this wine. If big jammy California Cabernet is your thing this bottle is for you. Over time though my palate has changed and I like wines with more structure, rustic flavors, subtlety, or finesse. If I am in the mood for a big wine I’ll go for a Chateauneuf du Pape, Barolo, Barbaresco, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo or Bordeaux vs a fruit bomb California. Not all California Cabernet is this jammy but many of them are so you’ll need to do your homework when choosing a bottle.

MobyGrape: 86.  I don’t know what’s happening to my palate these days.  This was
a delicious wine, it was fruity and in an odd way it almost seemed sweet.  I don’t actually mean it was a sweet wine by any means, but we’ve been drinking so many decidedly not sweet wines, this tasted like licking a jar of Smucker’s.  We decanted it for maybe 30 min before drinking, and there were hardly any tannins to speak of, just a whole lotta fruity goodness.  Wasn’t overpowering, and for the price it was a perfectly acceptable weeknight grilling wine.

Union Square Greenmarket and Eataly


After a great dinner at 3Guys we took a trip into Manhattan to visit the Union Square Greenmarket and Eataly. We went in having no idea what we wanted to make for dinner but we had a cooler, a cart, many bags, and money so we were sure to leave with something good.

At Union Square we ended up with all sorts of treats: two 2 lb boneless leg of lamb roasts, smoked duck breast, daikon radish, many different apples, yukon gold potatoes, fresh local cheese (I forget the name unfortunately), shallots, oyster/crimini/shitake mushrooms, rosemary olive bread, wild eggs (duck, turkey, and pheasant) and a great goat cheese. Quite the haul but it set the foundation for an excellent lamb dinner. It’s not quite produce season yet so there weren’t as many fruits and vegetables as usual but the duck, chicken, rabbit, cheeses, and honey looked excellent.

Eataly Meat 2Eataly Meat

Having never been to Eataly no one was sure what to expect but we were all pleased once we arrived. It’s basically a huge warehouse converted into a hybrid Italian market and restaurant. Tons of stands selling a variety of classic Italian fare, a wine shop (over-priced but fun), shelves pre-packaged items like cookies, balsamic vinegar, spreads, and coffee. We of course gravitated towards the cured meat and cheeses. We ended up purchasing some great food: wild boar salami, sheeps milk cheese, fresh herbs, Italian cookies, pistachio cream spread, and anchovy juice. Moby, SisterGrape, CousinGrape, and I enjoyed an espresso at the bar before having lunch at one of the stations. Moby and I split a prime rib sandwich while Uncle and AuntGrape had the fennel turkey. Both on crispy bread with olive oil and salt piled high with freshly roasted meat. They had fresh pasta, seafood, meat, sandwich, and desert stations throughout the whole place as well. We expected more of a market and were a little surprised at the amount of serving stations. Lastly while we didn’t get any seafood items the counter looked spectacular…next time you’re in NYC and looking to cook stop at these two markets for ingredients.

Eataly Fish

2007 Torii Mor Temperence Hill Pinot Noir

2007 Torii Mor Pinot Noir

I’ve been in the mood for Pinot Noir lately and usually that means Burgundy or Willamette Valley, Oregon. We’re headed to Oregon for this bottle of Torii Mor Temperence Hill Pinot Noir. Torii Mor’s winemaker is a Nuit Sant Georges Burgundy transplant so it’s no surprise his wines are balanced, delicate, and elegant. At $35 a bottle it’s a fairly expensive American Pinot Noir but it’s a treat worthy of splurging.

colonelgrape: 93. I’ve yet to be let down by a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. I thought this particular wine really emphasised the terrior of the area. There was a great balance of red raspberries, a hint of dark fruit, minerality, earth, and a unique ash flavor I’ve never tasted. I couldn’t put my finger on that flavor so I looked it up and apparantly that’s a hallmark flavor of the particular area where the vineyard is located in Willamette Valley. It was all held together nicely with just the right amount of acid. I think the ash flavor was just slightly more than I would have liked otherwise I’d be giving it a mid 90’s score. I think it’s worth trying just to experience that taste alone…it’s clear that thought went into making this wine.

MobyGrape: 89.  Sometimes I have a problem with pinot noir.  I’m not sure why, but it’s kind of like the kid in class that rubs you the wrong way because they try too hard.  I don’t know what it’s trying to be, but I just want to tell it to calm down, you’d have more friends if you weren’t such a spaz.  I really enjoyed this one, much more laid back than other ones we’ve had, works well with a lighter meal or alone.  I think I’ll stick to west coast surfers for a while until the Colonel sneaks a French one in again.

2011 Mer Soleil Silver Chardonnay

2011 Mer Soleil Silver Chardonnay

A very interesting bottle of Chardonnay. It’s an un-oaked California that drinks more like a Chablis. It’s aged in steel and cement vats instead of oak which gives it that French profile. The vineyard got creative with the cement looking ceramic bottle which is kind of cool. Definitely no light messing with this wine on the shelf. This is the second cement wine we’ve reviewed and the first white. Something tells me it won’t be the last though…

colonelgrape: 92. I really enjoyed this bottle. I’ve been looking for a California Chardonnay that we both like and we’ve finally found one. Not suprisingly it’s one that tastes like it’s from France! This wine was a nice gold color and had a big nose of tropical fruit, minerals, and apple. On the palate it had medium body and the acidity was medium-high…it had good tartness. Apple, pear, peach, pineapple…lots going on. We enjoyed it with a traditional boiled dinner and it stood up to the fattiness of the meat and was light enough it didn’t overwhelm the vegetables. This would definitely be good alternative to Sauvignon Blanc if you’re looking for something with more pop and body with any light-medium seafood or chicken dish such as salmon, clams in white wine sauce, baked chicken, etc.

MobyGrape: Chardonnay – 92.  No, that’s not a typo.  We finally found a chardonnay that doesn’t taste like piss!  Hallelujah!  Found this puppy at a tasting recently, I was ready to make my chardonnay face as the guy started talking about the wine.  But, miraculously, it was delicious!  It was fruity, crisp, just tart enough to be interesting, and I can’t stress this enough, did not taste like the sour ass I normally associate with chardonnay.  I think I’m digging on this aging in cement/steel barrel business.  It’s edgy.  I like it.  Next thing I know I’ll have a ring of chardonnay grapes tattooed around my bicep.