Tag Archives: wine

Beringer Wine Dinner

Last Wednesday, we had an opportunity to attend a Beringer wine dinner at Cunningham’s in Towson.

Beringer is a big, big name in wine, and they made their mark (and their money) selling inexpensive wine.  They may be best know for White Zinfandel.  So we had tempered expectations on the wine, but were looking forward to the food, and spending some time with our friend M.

We also look forward to meeting new people at these events.

Overall, the food was outstanding, and the wines were pretty good, too. Continue reading


Two Lands Tasting

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to participate in an online tasting of Austrailia’s Jacob’s Creek Two Lands wines.  I happened to be having a small party that evening with some colleagues, so a few of us got to taste and talk about the wines.  (I’ve been so busy lately I am just now getting an opportunity to do some blogging – it feels like I haven’t had a day off from my business to do any wine writing.  Clearly we haven’t been updating our blog much, but I’d like to change that.)

Online tastings are always a fun experience, and not only because, as a wine blogger, they send me the wines (thanks to The Thomas Collective!), but it gives me an opportunity to get and share education about wine in general.  Certainly this is a marketing event, but every wine tasting includes not just information about the wine/winery, but about the winemaking process, different varietals, climate, and all sorts of other things that make wine interesting.

Here are my notes on the four wines we tasted.

Two Lands Pinot Grigio 2014

There’s a lot going on with the nose, and it’s a little tough to narrow down everything (which is a good thing!)  There’s some apple coming through. This is not my favorite style of wine.  It’s got a big mouthfeel, almost oily, but lacks acidity and has a bit of sweetness.  It’s good wine, but not my cup of tea.  Would pair well with richer seafood, and maybe Asian flavors.  At $14, it is well priced for the quality. Good.

Two Lands Chardonnay 2014

To me, this smells like California Chardonnay that you’ll find with an animal on the label.  Melon, tropical fruit, and vanilla come through.  Another wine with lower acid and higher sweetness, there’s peach and some citrus.  Soft, a bit of texture, but to my palate, a little off balance.  I find myself enjoying drinking it, though.  I would pair with stinky cheese, or just drink it on it’s own while grilling something for dinner.  Another $14 bottle of wine that’s well priced.  Good.

Two Lands Shiraz 2013

I need to tell you right now, I’m not typically a fan of Australian Shiraz.  Unless it is very high end, I’ve found most of it is far too much fruit bomb and cloying, and not enough complexity or finesse.  I understand that’s the style, it’s just not my thing.  What I do like?  Northern Rhone.  Well, this leans toward the latter while still having that Aussie rebellious streak, which makes for a fun wine.  I get some darker fruit on the nose, but taste more red.  Well balanced, full, rich.  It still has some of the ‘hit you over the head’ Shiraz, but the balance and complexity are there as well.  $14, a value at that price.  Very Good.

Two Lands Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Cassis and dark fruit on the nose.  Big nose.  It has nice fruit, but it’s unbalanced.  I think it might be too young, but I don’t pick up the tannin structure that would tell me waiting a couple of years would make it much better.  $14, I think it’s not bad for the price point, because there isn’t much good Cab available under $30.  OK.

crossposted at thegrandcrew

2011 Reserve de la Saurine

Something new that came in the Pinehurst Wine $100 case.  It’s a pretty simple country wine, but interesting and very good!

2011 Reserve de la Saurine

Appellation:  Gard (Vin de Pays d’Oc)

Notes:  100% Grenache Blanc, 12% ABV.  Grenache Blanc is usually blended, so this is something I’m not sure I’ve ever had.  Tropical nose, a little tight.  Tropical fruit and lots of citrus (oranges, lemons, limes).  Not much acidity, but a nice weight.  Coates the mouth, very elegant.  There’s a lot going on.  Normally, a lower acid wine will not be a great food wine, but this went well with a simple salmon dish.  I recommend searching this one out. Very Good.

Price:  Unknown, but probably under $15.

Crossposted at Maryland Wine Report and The Grand Crew

Still Here

I’m still here, just too busy to blog much.

I’m looking at getting training back on track next week, I might be switching gyms and timing; Dumbarton Barbell is very, very close to my house (in the basement of Dumbarton Middle), but they have limited hours (3-9 weekdays, 10-1 Saturday).  Word is it’s a very cool old school place and the home of the Baltimore Weightlifting Club.  While not a weightlifter, I’d imagine that’s a well equipped gym for a powerlifter.

Anyway, that would change my expected AM training to mid afternoon.  From a performance standpoint I much prefer mid afternoon, but it’s not as business friendly as mornings.  Good thing, my business/everything partner has encouraged me to figure it out because of how close the gym is.  One possibility is to just shift my normal day later and train/work later in to the evening.  Not much happens in Real Estate before 9AM anyway.

Otherwise, life is good.  Things are coming along at the new house, with just a few things undone other than getting all of our furniture.  Thus far, not at all impressed with Greenfront Furniture in Virginia.  We’ll see if they can make things right, but as of now, they have been non-responsive.  Nearly everything we got from them arrived damaged, and they didn’t order any of the items that were not in stock until the in stock items were delivered (??).  After spending more than $10k on furniture, I would expect at least some follow up.  Thus far?  Nothing.  So don’t go there to buy furniture.  I’ll let you know if that changes.

Slowly integrating in to our business, still building the business plan and marketing.  We need to come up with a name.  So far, we’re just at Mason/Stagg Home Sales and Staging, but we think replacing our names with a single word that sums up our mission, values, and service would be better for branding.  “Awesome” sounds a little presumptuous, though, right?

Once the business is up we’ll have a web presence.  We may point this domain to our business site but we don’t know for sure.

Also, if you haven’t yet, check out http://www.mdwinereport.com which is a new venture for me.  Just tested it out with some tasting note posts a while back, but I’m going to do much more work in the new year on local wine events, profiles of people in the Maryland wine, food, and entertaining industry, and of course on Maryland wines and wines available from Maryland retailers.


How Quaint

Who knew there were still towns in Maryland that are dry?  Damascus will have the issue on the ballot this year as a referendum.


Exactly what they wanted

The original bill to permit direct shipping of wine to the subjects of the State of Maryland and Liquor Distributors allowed for both wineries and retail outlets, and had minimal requirements to register.

The bill crafted behind closed doors by a few legislators and the liquor distribution lobby removed retailers altogether, and required a $1000 bond and $200 per year for wineries to register for the privilege to ship a legal product to grownups in Maryland.

With the restrictions on shipping going in to effect on Friday, just 11 wineries have applied.

Wine retailers are still not allowed to ship to consumers, which keeps popular Internet-based wine-of-the-month clubs off limits, though consumer advocates have vowed to continue lobbying Annapolis to allow retail delivery.

“If there’s a particular bottle that you want shipped, and it’s not offered by one of the wineries with a permit, you’re right back to the same problem as before the new law,” said Adam Borden, president of Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws.

“There were people who felt, let’s get this done right the first time. But the General Assembly was more, ‘One step at a time.'”

Borden said the cost to sign up, including the $200 yearly fee and a $100 annual insurance payment on the required $1,000 bond, might be prohibitive for many of the country’s smaller wineries.

Which is exactly what they wanted.  Free State, indeed.

We’re Getting There

The MD House of Delegates passed a bill ‘allowing’ shipping of wine from wineries directly to consumers in Maryland.

The bill requires wineries pay $200 for the ‘privilege’ of shipping wine to MD, and consumers can only have 18 cases sent per year.  Still didn’t get all the way there, allowing for retailers to also ship into the state and eliminating the case limit, but I guess a partial win is a win in this state.

On a totally unrelated note, got 3 wines the other day from a winery in California (one of the very few who are willing to try to get around the current law by using a third party to ship something I already own.)

Napa, Part II

My wife and I were in Napa for a few days last week.  Here’s the link to Part I.

On Tuesday, we only visited two wineries, as the whirlwind of the trip to San Francisco, the wedding and associated festivities, and all the wine drinking were wearing us out.

First, we had the best tour of the trip at Hall in Rutherford.  Another private tasting and tour, showcasing the unique vision of the owners of the winery, as well as some fantastic wine.  We tasted the 09 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($22, 3/5), the 07 Cabernet Sauvignon ($44, 4/5), the 07 “Katherine Hall” Cabernet Sauvignon ($80, 5/5), the T Bar T Cabernet Sauvignon ($45, 3/5), and as a special treat, the 06 Darwin Red Blend (Cab, Syrah) ($40, 4/5).  (The Darwin wine comes with a great story). 

The Hall Rutherford winery is stunning.  There are incredible views in their reception area, and the construction of their caves from Austrian bricks is amazing.  The entire winery is home to unique modern (and in some cases, priceless) art, kept in the working areas to remind the folks making wine that they too are artists. 

Our final winery visit was to Corison.  Another private tasting and quick tour of the small facility, some more outstanding wines.  We had the 07 Corazon Gewürztraminer ($30, 4/5), the 07 Cabernet Rose ($24, 3/5), the 07 Cabernet Sauvignon ($70, 3/5), and the 06 Kronos Cabernet ($98, 4/5).  Because these wines are not widely distributed, I asked to buy the Kronos, and our tasting guide suggested the 05 as it should be a better vintage and drinking better now.    I’m looking forward to it.

Now that we’re back, we are already planning our next trip out.  We loved the hotel, so we will probably stay there again.  We’d like to rent a mini van or SUV and convince some friends to come along for a 5 day trip, 3 days of as many private tastings/tours as we can schedule, a day in Calistoga, and a free day.  We need to get to the French Laundry, too.

I’m also trying to figure out how we can move there.

One disclosure:  As Lexus owners, our tastings at Hall and Corison were comped as part of an affinity program.  I at no time identified myself as a wine blogger or that any review would be published, the wonderful treatment we got at each winery was evidence only of the wineries’ committment to customer service (and selling wine, of course).

One Argument Down

The Maryland Comptroller’s office finds kids aren’t really interested in buying wine on the internet.

But minors generally were not interested in abusing a direct-ship system to get an illegal fix, said Joseph Shapiro, spokesman for the comptroller’s office.

“Their number one concern is immediacy,” Shapiro said. “Your parents are going out of town this weekend, let’s have a party, that type of thing. With direct ship, the shipment just takes too long.”

And law enforcement agencies in states that allow direct-ship reported that wine is not the alcohol of choice for most underage drinkers.

“They’re more apt to be drinking beer or wine coolers,” said Shapiro, also pointing out the price concern. “A bottle of wine online is certainly more expensive than a six-pack of beer from the local store.”

The report also concluded that direct shipment from out-of-state wineries to Maryland consumers would not hurt in-state providers, because purchases from wineries are mostly motivated by availability.

Go figure.  So the distributor lobby can’t argue that any longer.  Which leaves them with arguing that it will hurt their business (and protecting their revenue is more important than the right of the people to purchase a product however they see fit), and of course spending lots and lots of money to purchase the votes, or at a minimum the non action, of our illustrious state legislators.

Del. Tom Hucker, D-Silver Spring, says he is drafting a bill for the General Assembly session starting next month. “It’s terrific that the report debunks the myth that special interests have been spreading for years,” said Hucker, who introduced the bill in 2008 and 2009, and served as a co-sponsor in the last General Assembly. “I think the comptroller’s report only pushes the ball forward, farther than it has ever been. This is the year we can expect some movement.”

Hopefully he can get it past Joan Carter Conway.

Crossposted at The Grand Crew

November Wine

Wow.  I knew I got distracted, but I only posted two wines this month at The Grand Crew.  I had much more than that, I attended a wine dinner with about six wines, and had several with Thanksgiving dinner, but no tasting notes. 

One of these two is one of the best wines I’ve ever had.

2004 Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino

2009 Jean Claude Bougrier Vouvray

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