Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wine Ohhh Wine Ohhhh Wine! STICKS Pinot Noir 2007, Yarra Valley, Australia Enjoyed & Outer Banks N.C. Posted On Saturday, July 23rd, 2011 : Cheers!

Simple and easy : a meal preparation as the sun leaves us and the moon comes into focus. All the while conversation and a light show while we enjoy, among other things a bottle of the STICKS 2007 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir at the Outer Banks in North Carolina was it 2009/2010? I think it was 2009 but now I am not sure.

This was another wonderful week in August with my family with lots of wine and food and conversation and books and beautiful scenery and sky effects. I did all my art as usual which included lots of photos as well. What more could anyone ask for ?!>

Being an artist I find this all irresistible and I hope you enjoy these images. Cheers, TONY

P.S. I may write more here but these pictures pretty much speak for themselves.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wines To Talk About On Fri. July 22nd, 2011: FUZELO Portuguese Dry White ( 11.5% Alc, Slight Sparkle ) Vinho Verde Is Perfect & Back In Stock!

It's great to have this FUZELO Portuguese Vinho Verde dry slightly-sparkling low alcohol ( 11.5% alcohol by volume ) back in stock once again at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008, Tel:202-363-4265, also on Facebook at : Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits and now on Twitter, too at : cpwinespirits ) at only $8.99 a bottle. What a great deal! Lots of flavor and sparkle, too and no bite or tartness at all. Easy-sipping.

This bottle was enjoyed at Wolf Trap a couple of years ago ( maybe 2009 or 2010? ) on Memorial Day weekend before the President's Band started to play and while we were enjoying our picnic meal out on the lawn. This was a prefect pick then.

It's still a perfect fit for today on Friday, July 22nd, 2011 here in our Cleveland Park neighborhood on this swelteringly hot day here in Washington D.C. Northwest in our nation's capitol. Cheers to you all and come on by and get a bottle of FUZELO from us. It's the perfect white for this type of weather, especially if you want to be outside and enjoying some wine. TONY

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Meeting Patrick Campbell Of LAUREL GLEN VINEYARD, Sonoma, CA. Today, Sept.7th, '11 @ Charlie Palmer's D.C. /L.G. REDS @ Outer Banks Beach, N.C.'10

This was a great treat for me today to be able to attend the vertical wine-tasting ( 1981-2006 ) of the LAUREL GLEN California Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon's with wine-maker/then owner Patrick Campbell at Charlie Palmer's ( 101 Constitution Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20001 ) and owner now, Bettina Sichel. I was invited by Robert Cavanaugh of Adventure Wine LLC ( ) to attend and I thank you Robert for introducing me to the group and complementing me in front of the whole gathering for my store email.

( Being a painter and artist/poet/writer now for most of my life I always take my art supplies to the beach when I go with my family to the Outer Banks of North Carolina annually and usually in August and draw and sketch and paint. This was no exception as you can see from the photo above. I treated the pages of the sketch pad above as if it were a book and one was leafing through it. The left and the right of the open book is really one image cut in two by the metal spirals. It gives me more space to create a fuller image and I love that ).

As you can see these pictures of the REDS made by Patrick Campbell ( and still owned by him ) is what I took to enjoy with me at the beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina last year, 2010 in August and I will comment on them, too as well as on this luncheon earlier today. The most important part of today of course was the vertical wine-tasting of the LAUREL GLEN VINEYARD'S Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignons from 1981-2006. The years tasted in fact were : 1981. 1985, 1986, 1989, 1991 ( 1st Flight ) ; 1992, 1993 Reserve, 1994, 1996, 1998 ( 2nd Flight ), and 1999 Reserve, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006 ( 3rd Flight ). By the way some of the bottles were poured from magnums and some from the 760ml size bottles. You will see all of this once I include the pictures that I took from this event : there were many!

( I love taking these artsy photos at the beach and I love looking both through a wine glass or a wine bottle as it adds a whole " new " dimension to an image like this one above. Sometimes the results are quite dramatic : sometimes like this one above it's just another nice touch to the resulting photo ).

It was an amazing tasting : an experience of a lifetime and I want to comment fully on it here in this blog. I have lots to say. I loved the wines and I have some notes on pretty much all of them. It was a grand opportunity and it was exciting to be included and invited to sit next to Patrick and get to talk with him and hear all that he had to say while I photographed and videoed him, drew quick portrait sketches of him ( six in all I believe ) : and of course sampled all these wonderful wines of his. I had my favorites and I had a lot of work to do trying to get everything in. It was well-worth my efforts and I am the one that was amply rewarded for my active participation in this two-hour period from noon-2 PM at Charlie Palmer's on this dreary, wet, really poured cats and dogs luncheon period of Wednesday, August 7th, 2011.

Stay-tuned for more but in the meantime enjoy these pictures of the beach. I will comment on all of it as soon as I get a chance. Patrick, thanks for this great vertical tasting of your LAUREL GLEN VINEYARD Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon's. It ranks as one of the greatest wine-tasting experiences that I have ever had/enjoyed. What a great pleasure and honor to have been seated next to you. I had a blast. Cheers, TONY

Like I said it was pouring cats and dogs when I arrived around noon at Charlie Palmer's. The rain was so severe that I waited and it never abated so I wrapped a plastic clear bag around me and made for a dash across the street after feeding my hungry meter many quarters and getting just shy of two hours of meter time before finally running out. What a rip-off it has all become. Two-bits ( a quarter ) does not buy very much anymore is the conclusion I quickly arrived at. But I had to run through puddles and jump over them , too.

( The picture above is of my beach house at the Outer Banks in Salvo or Avon I believe? It will be odd to see these as I describe my vertical LAUREL GLEN VINEYARD ( 1981-2006 ) Cabernet Sauvignon two-hour wine-tasting. I will talk about the beach experience later on after this tasting/ luncheon at Charlie Palmer's ).

It was worth it : believe me, it was worth everything to get to Charlie Palmer's Steak House restaurant. Looked like everyone pretty much was already there : four round tables with many guests and I saw Robert Cavanaugh at the table with all the bottles of LAUREL GLEN lined up to my right side. Impressive : like I said - fifths and magnums from 1981-2006.

He took me right over a bit to the right to one of the round tables with two seats empty and a standing Patrick Campbell. He introduced me immediately to the crowd and announced my name and asked if everyone there was getting my store emails - that they were really excellent? Thanks again Robert for that plug, I do appreciate it more than you know.

Then Robert introduced me to Patrick Campbell and we said " hello " and Robert asked me where I wanted to sit? There is never any doubt where I want to sit : it is always next to the owner or the wine-maker. I am not shy and I love this chance to talk with them and get to know a little more about them even though it is such a short period of time. it's still invaluable to me and so I sat next to him. I hope that that was alright? No one said anything so I guess that it was. That was my great fortune and my great reward for having had to fight boldly and bravely the elements outside!

The First Flight of LAUREL GLEN VINEYARD Cabernet Sauvignon was already poured ( 1981, 1985, 1986, 1989 and 1991 ). I met Bettina Sichel a bit later. She's the new owner of LAUREL GLEN VINEYARD. I heard her speak first. Everyone was tasting and sampling the wines and at some point Bettina got up and asked everyone how the tasting was going? She asked for comments? She asked about the 1981? And she asked Patrick Campbell to comment on the wines. It was a bit rushed, very energetic and lively as we had a whole lot of ground to cover in a very short period of time.

I was showing Patrick the two empty bottles of wine that I had brought with me to show him that his daughter Arya had signed. I had a bottle of the LAUREL GLEN 2001 Sonoma Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ( Arya had written years ago at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits , 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 Tel : 202-363-4265,,, also now on Facebook at : Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits and on Twitter at : cpwinespirits , : " Mm Mm Good Love( used the heart sign ) Arya " - Patrick added at the end of the vertical wine-tasting : " What a year ( 2001 ) Cheers! " and signed it Patrick Campbell ". There was also an empty bottle of the !ZA ZIN 2004 Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, Alc. By Volume 15% LAUREL GLEN VINEYARD and Arya had signed : " What's not to like about Cleveland Pk? Love( used again the heart sign for the word love ) Arya . Patrick later signed it : " You Ar Za Man! Best " and signed it Patrick. Nice souvenirs for me to hang onto and to share with others.

I was also busily snapping away my pictures of this event and saying hello to people at our table and also telling Patrick about how John Pollis was such a big fan of his. He smiled immediately when he heard this and asked me where John was? We spoke of National and the old Forman Brothers, of Patrick's daughter Arya, of his good family friends that live two blocks away from our store on Ross Street N.W. That's where Patrick stayed on Tuesday night. They are good friends to the store and customers. It was quick and fun all of this conversation around tasting his wines and explaining and showing him my photos that I was taking.

I told Patrick that I would send him copies and he was pleased with that as he also had his camera with him and was also taking pictures when time permitted. He even took a picture of Robert Cavanaugh with my Panasonic camera and complemented me on the camera and asked Robert to turn the bottle around of the LAUREL GLEN that he was pouring so that it would show up in the picture. All good fun, all quite a lot to absorb as it was all happening so rapidly around us. Patrick spoke of his wines and we all listened and there were actually quite a few comments and questions, too from the gathered/ seated crowd.

Bettina was quite intent to find out on each flight what vintages were each person's favorite? She kept asking over and over again and asked for a show of hands each time? I was just trying to taste through the first flight as this all started to happen. I was catching up quickly and really just trying to make my own mental notes and arrive at some conclusions as to how these first five wines were smelling, tasting and opening up? It was a daunting task and one that I embraced wholeheartedly - the whole moment : I was trying to absorb and wrap myself completely up in it. No easy task but so fulfilling and rewarding being the artist that I am.

I liked all of the wines that I was tasting in this first flight. My favorite was probably the 1986. I wrote of it : " Nice flesh, nice silk, most drinkable ( of the first three ) now for me... rich, flavorful, really great guts, thicker ". My first and immediate impression of the 1981 was : " Too lean, too tart, too much need of food ". I did amend this as I went along and returned to it later. It softened, blossomed and was really quite charming ten-fifteen minutes later. The 1985 I wrote initially : " Bigger, richer ( than the 1981 ), still more closed than the 1981 ". For the 1989 I wrote at first taste : " Thinner than 1986, not as complex lush/plush - still tons of acidity, spice, earth- terroir needs food ". I did like it. It along with the others was classic and reminded me more of the wines of Europe. Remember the alcohol levels of these wines was only 12.5% alcohol. We all discussed this as a group later. I think that they were all quite amazing and that with food they would have all been/were excellent. By the way I did like the 1991 vintage but somehow I forgot to make any notes on it. Oh well. If any of you read this that were there please include your notes on the 1991 in the c' comment " section at the end of this blog. Thanks.

We did all order our food choices between a meat or a fish dish and I ordered the meat and Patrick ordered the fish. I asked him later why he had ordered the fish? His response was that he was leaving the next day for Argentina. I understood immediately. The food, however did not come out until just around 1:45PM and this wine-tasting/luncheon was scheduled to end at 2PM. Actually, I appreciated this as the event to me was really to taste these excellent wines and to focus on them. The fact later that my steak was fabulous as was my salad before and the tender asparagus and creamy and light mashed potatoes with my steak : well, that was all gravy to me. Much-appreciated and need gravy by that time : but gravy nonetheless. Bravo to everyone involved. This was a world-class event and one that I will not forget soon. That's why I am busy typing away here quickly trying to remember everything and preserve it all before I forget. Too important, at least to me. Hope you all get something from it as well.

When talking about the First Flight of these five LAUREL GLEN WINES Patrick asked us what was the common thread of them all? It was the acidity. He said : " Look at the riper levels of acidity. I would venture to guess that the 1981 has the most acidity of any? " He then quickly added : " Do you have any idea how it got it ? " No one had the right answer and he simply stated : " Acid in a bag ". That's how everyone did it back then. he claimed that it was not a good practice and Patrick said that by 1985 that it had stopped. I don't know if he meant that for all wineries or simply his? Could you clarify this for us Patrick?

I will continue shortly with the Second Flight of wines from 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1998.