Archive for Pinot Noir


Posted in Info on Wine, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , on November 9, 2009 by ballymote

thanksgivingIt’s less than three weeks now until families all across South Jersey will be sitting down at dining room tables to give thanks for all their blessings and partake in a feast of holiday foods. In a lot of homes there will be turkeys and hams or both, with all of the trimmings. It’s a time when wine goes perfectly with dinner;when even those who seldom have a glass of wine will be drinking to celebrate the occasion. It’s not too soon to start thinking about what wines go best with the foods that will grace your table. I tend to think about wine on Thanksgiving as two different sessions.

First, I want a wine that is just fun to sip while watching the early football games. Something that drinks well by itself or with a few pre-dinner appetizers passed around the room.IMG_3650 To fill this scenario I would go with a nice Australian shiraz or one of the now popular Argentinian malbecs. Both of these wines offer tons of flavor and don’t need foods. In fact, these wines would perhaps overpower the main course and are not suggested for the dinner table. Here are four possible choices that most people would totally enjoy while munching on cheese or veggies and a nice dip with one eye on the football game. Left to right they are the 2008 Pillar Box Reserve Shiraz ($19.99), the 2008 Mollydooker “The Boxer” Shiraz ($24.99), the 2007 Patagonia Malbec Barrel Selection Fabre Montmayou  ($12.99) and the 2008 Kaiken “Ultra” Malbec ($14.99). None of these wines will put a heavy strain on your budget and all of them are drinking nicely right now. Once it’s time for the dinner feast, it’s time to put down these heavier wines and switch toward something a little lighter that will compliment the vast array of culinary treats spread across the dining room tableIMG_3652. Finding the right wines for turkey and ham is not always an easy task. Some feel that only white wines can work with these two meats. For white wine lovers I would suggest something similar to what we have here. On the left is the 2008 Monchoff “Robert Eymael” Riesling ($13.99), slightly sweet without being overpowering with bright citrus fruits and a hint of minerality. If you don’t care for red wine this will serve nicely throughout the meal. Another white choice is the second wine shown, the 2007 St. Urbans-Hof, Ockfener Bockstein, Riesling Spatlese($17.99) just a tad sweeter than the Monchoff with many of the same apple and peach notes that give the wine its unique taste. Although, I will have some of the whites, I still prefer finding a red that isn’t too strong that will go perfectly with the meal. For myself, a nice Oregon Pinot Noir serves the bill extremely well and the two pictured here are both tasty and affordable. As I have mentioned in previous posts on this blog, good Pinot Noir often costs somewhere north of $30.00 and often far north. Both the 2007 Owen Roe ($18.00) and the 2007 A to Z are ($18.99) available for under $20.00 and both are great with fish or fowl.

thanksgiving 2Regardless of your wine choices, Thanksgiving is an awesome time to get together with family and share a few bottles of something and give thanks that we can all be together to enjoy each others company while remembering family members who are no longer with us.  May each of you find peace and love on this special day.


Posted in Info on Wine, Uncategorized, Wine Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2009 by ballymote

Blog Pics #001It just wouldn’t be a perfect vacation without a nice assortment of good wines to drink while sitting on the deck, reading a good book or dining at a local restaurant. Fortunately, last week in Avalon provided the opportunity to sip quite a few good wines. Here is a list of what we drank during those seven days with ratings and, in some cases, a comment or two where appropriate.

2007 St. Urbans-Hof Ockfener Bockstein Reisling Spatlese, a delicious white, summer wine, I give this one 91 points.

2002 Thorn-Clarke Barossa Shiraz, great for sipping with some cheese and crackers, 89 points.

2000 St. Francis, Nuns Canyon Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, took some time for this to lose it’s funk in the glass, then it was very good, 89 points.

2006 Kaiken Ultra, Cabernet Sauvignon, I had always liked the Malbec version of this one and the Cab proved a worthy partner, lots of flavor, 90 points.

2007 Landmark, Overlook, Chardonnay, just the right amount of oak, 90 points.

2005 Franciscan, Magnificat, Red Wine, excellent with a variety of meals we had all week, smooth and graceful, 93 points.

2004 Shirvington, McLarenVale, Shiraz, the four of us split on which of the Shirvington’s was better, I opted for this one and gave it 94 points for a barrage of red fruits.

2005 Shirvington, McLaren Vale, Shiraz, almost as good but slightly tamer than the 2004, which appealed to the others, 93 points.

2006 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir, Oregon, a little pricey, but excellent with my halibut, however, the other three in our group decided they were not huge Pinot Noir fans, more for me, 93 points.

2005 Mollydooker, Enchanted Path, McLaren Vale, Shiraz/Cab, just stunning and we all agreed, Sparky and Sarah have done it again! 96 points.

2004 Whitehall Lane, Cabernet Sauvignon, this cab and stand with the best of them, goes well with red meat and pasta, 91 points.

I’ll have a little more on some of these wines when I do the BYOB reviews in a day or two. Overall, they were some good choices for the week.


Posted in Info on Wine with tags , , , , , , on August 10, 2009 by ballymote

Paul Giamatti, as Miles, in the movie “SIDEWAYS”, described Pinot Noir, thusly “it’s a hard grape to grow, it’s thin-skinned, tempermental, ripens early. It’s not a survivor like Cabernet that can grow anywhere, and thrive even when neglected. Pinot needs constant care and attention and, in fact, can grow only in specific tucked away little corners of the world. And only the most patient and nurturing growers can do it really,can tap into Pinot’s most fragile and delicate qualities. Only when someone has taken the time to truly understand its potential can Pinot be coaxed into its fullest expression. And when that happens its flavors are the most haunting and brilliant and subtle and thrilling and ancient on the planet.”BLOG PICS 024

There is no way I am going to attempt to top “Miles” definition of Pinot Noir. His synopsis also points out why Pinot Noir tends to be one of the more consistently higher priced varietals. All of the care and dedication required to bring this grape to the bottle contributes to the cost. For this reason, many Pinot-lovers agree that it is virtually impossible to make a good Pinot Noir that can sell for $20.00. Most that make this attempt lack the subtle nuances that make this such a wonderful wine. I have drank a lot of Pinot Noir and unlike Cabernets or Syrahs, Zinfandels or Merlots, where you can find good stuff in the lower price ranges, the field for decent Pinot Noir under $20.00 is sparse. Sparse but not TOTALLY barren. I have found two gems, both from Oregon, that can be found for under $20.00. These excellent bargain wines are: A to Z Pinot Noir and O’Reillys Pinot pics 026blog pics 026Both of these wines offer nice examples of what can be done with Pinot Noir at bargain prices. The A to Z can be found in South Jersey for anywhere from 16 – 19 dollars while the O’Reilly is usually about $18.99. It actually pains me to even be telling others about these great bargains as both these wines often sell out quickly.

If you are a regular Pinot Noir drinker you will not confuse these wines with the many awesome “above $40.00” wines but they still get the job done where so many others fail.