Archive for Wine Library


Posted in Cafe Capri (2nd review), South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , on July 31, 2010 by ballymote

Last night, exactly nine months after our most recent visit we were back at this almost local eatery in Williamstown, NJ. In October there were just four of us but last night all eight of our Friday night diners were present and accounted for.

My wine for the evening was a 2004 Three Miners, Pinot Noir, Earnscleugh Valley, Central Otego, New Zealand. I picked this one up at the Wine Library up in Springfield, NJ and I would have to say I was a little disappointed. There was very little on the nose and it took awhile for it to open up in the glass before finally revealing some muted cherry and soft lilac. There are much better Pinots available at the price of this one.

The menu at Cafe Capri is pretty extensive and they even have six or seven additional specials each evening. Our server, Dan, suggested we start with a couple of table-size appetizers and we agreed on a plate of bruschetta, which naturally, Jerry C. would have ordered even if not prompted, and a plate of crab bites, which I had been planning to split with my wife, Kathy, had we not gone for the larger offering. The bruschetta was as I remembered it from last time; a decent offering with fresh tomato, basil and pecorino romano cheese on a very crisp toasted crouton. The crab bites were tasty enough but they obviously came from a package of frozen seafood from the local supermarket as their completely uniform shape was a dead giveaway. We have to deduct a few points for lack of creativity for this one which appeared on the night’s “special” menu.

The item pictured on the left is NOT my entree which was the Capellini Positano, tossed with garlic, basil and jumbo crab meat. It is rather Tom T.’s Linguine Al Sapore di Mare, in which he had substituted capellini for the linguine and which was placed in front of me and looked almost exactly like mine. Tom was right on top of it and spotted the mistake before I could plunge my fork into the tempting dish. I passed on a photo of mine when it did arrive because the two plates looked identical. I am happy to report that I totally enjoyed my dish. The capellini was perfect, the sauce, absolutely delicious and the crab meat, generous and nicely prepared. I had the remainder of it at home tonight for dinner and it was every bit as good as it was last night. Tom T., on the other hand, was picking out the scallops from his dish and did not seem as pleased as I was.

Jerry C. ordered the “fish of the day” which was tilapia, in a basil and pesto sauce smothered with mussels. I didn’t spot the tilapia until he had devoured a several of the mussels. There was also some shrimp surrounding the fish and he seemed to enjoy it although he did not feel that the sauce resembled in flavor any pesto sauce he had experienced prior.

Sue C. ordered the Vitello Limone, medallions of veal, sauteed with shallots, shiitake mushrooms, and green onions in a limocello sauce. When I looked to her for her comments on the dish she simply kissed her fingers and gave it a big A-OK. Most of the other dishes did not fare as well.

Kathy was not thrilled with her Pollo Parmagianno, she didn’t care for the sauce and felt there should have been much more cheese topping the somewhat bland chicken breast.

The two dishes above belonged to Joe and Carol B. I honestly don’t remember who had which,  or what they were called on the menu. I do know they were both chicken dishes and neither Joe or Carol were overly impressed. Carol defined hers as having “too much gobbledygook” and Joe didn’t care for all the “gaga”. As you can see, both Joe and Carol have a way with words and a possible future career as food writers. I think the translation was that the sauce overpowered the meat but, what do I know.

Barbara T. had the entree on the right but I also can’t remember what that was either, Obviously my own career as a food writer is in serious jeopardy. I may edit this review later when I get more info on those last few dishes. Overall, it was one of the most hit and miss dinners I can remember. I totally enjoyed by meal, several others thought it was fine but a few had serious reservations. Anyway, as usual, we still managed to have a nice evening and hopefully, next week will find us doing this all over again with me taking better notes on who ate what.


Posted in Favorite Wines, Info on Wine, Wine Lists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2009 by ballymote

We can’t always afford to drink the absolute best wines. Well, maybe some of us can but, I’m not in that elite group. That’s why I am constantly searching for the best QPR wines. QPR stands for Quality Price Ratio and simply means that for the money spent you are getting a better wine than what you might expect at that price point. Defined in other terms it means you are drinking a $12.00 wine that tastes like a $30 wine. These are wines that don’t break our budget. They are wines we can open with pizza or just to sip on the deck on a warm summer evening. There are many such wines and each person has their own favorites. here are a few of my current favorites:IMG_2503

Keep in mind that “everyday wines” can be constantly changing and are certainly not limited in any way to the six bottles pictured above. These are simply good representatives of the group. From left to right these wines are

2002 Thorn-Clarke Terra Barossa Shiraz

2005 Domaine “La Garrigue” Cotes Du Rhone

2005 Sainte Leocadie, Les Clauses, Minervois

2005 Green Lion, Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Chateau Pesquie, Terrasses, Cotes du Ventoux

and resting comfortably in the forefront is my perennial favorite in the QPR group the

2007 Pillar Box RED

The Pillar Box Red is from Australia and each year is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot. Some years are better than others but all of them are very good. A couple of years ago this was available for $7.99 but obviously the word got out and it’s now going for $12.99 in most stores (Circle Liquors has it for $10.99 (shhhhhhhhhh..don’t tell anyone).

The Thorn-Clark Terra Barossa Shiraz is also from Australia and is loaded with lots of berry fruit flavors and usually sells for about $15.00.

The Chateau Pesquie, Terrasses is a steal at $14.00 and is a delicious blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah from the Cotes du Ventoux. It almost always scores 90 points from Parker and Wine Spectator.

The Sainte Leocadie, Les Clauses is from the Minervois region of France, it is light and fragrant and matches up well with a wide variety of food items from pasta to beef. It usually sells for about $13.00 but I bought a case for $9 per bottle from the Wine Library in North Jersey after watching Gary Vaynerchuk, the marketing mastermind from Wine Library TV. Great Value!!

The 2005 Domaine “La Garrigue” Cotes du Rhone is good stuff. Here is what Robert Parker had to say about it in his rating:

91 Points – Robert Parker (Wine Advocate)

“The 2005 Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Romaine, a blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah, is a fabulous example of how high quality Cotes du Rhones can be. Made under the auspices of the brilliant oenologist Philippe Cambie, this wine comes from the estate`s oldest head-pruned vines of 60 to 90 years old. Dense ruby/purple with terrific black cherry and black currant fruit, full-bodied essence of Provencal fruit, herbs, incense, and spice, this essentially tastes more like a Vacqueyras than a Cotes du Rhone and is beautifully ripe, full-bodied, opulent, and also vibrant, which is in keeping with this top-notch vintage.”

I would simply add that if you are lost in a wine store with NO IDEA what to buy. It’s hard to go wrong with any Cotes du Rhone as they usually are priced very reasonably between $10.00 and $15.00 with a large selection to choose from. Do I have to tell you they’d be located in the section that reads “FRANCE”??

2005 Green Lion, Napa, Cabernet is a Chris Ringland product. Chris is a talented winemaker from “down under” who makes a wide range of excellent wines under the “R Wines” brand. He is teamed with importer, Dan Phillips who carries the Grateful Palate lineup of wines. It’s a wonderful example of a Napa Cab that could sell for 2 to 3 times it’s $16.00 price tag.

OK, there are 6 wines that should keep you heart-healthy and your thirst quenched. Enjoy!!