Thursday, June 29, 2006

Supporting your local brewery

I think that one of the best things about drinking micro brewed beer is that you can support local commerce. Instead of giving money to some huge global conglomerate who could care less whether they have you as a customer or not, you can choose to give your money to business with direct ties to your community. These businesses usually support local causes, so why not support them back. The best example I have is the great St. Arnold's brewery here in Houston. Every year they support a huge biking team for the MS150 a bike ride between here and Austin that raises money for MS. Its a great cause and St. Arnold's does a lot to promote it. So in the effort to give some love to our local Breweries I have started a list of links on the right side of the page of Texas Breweries, from St. Arnolds to Shiner and Real Ale. If anyone knows of others let me know, and whether your from Texas, California, Colorado, or New York, take some time out to support your local brewer, because you KNOW they appreciate your business.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Beer Quote of the day

" Whoever makes a poor beer shall be tossed into the town dung heep" - 13th Century German Beer law.
Anyone else think that A-B, Miller, and Coors, are happy they make beer today and not back then?

The Health of Beer

Much has been made regarding the good health impacts of wine, some of it made here on this blog. However this article touts the good influence that beer can have on your health. According to a UC David professor ( and A-B adjunct professor) beer contains valuable nutrients such as B vitamins, such as B12, folic acid and niacin, as well as antioxidants, such as polyphenols and ferulic acid. Beer of course also contains fiber, something wine does not. A short but good article that gives one more reason to lift up a pint to good beer.

2004 Foffani Tocai Friulano

From my recent visit to Italy I have learned to love Italian white wines...not the typical Pinot Grigio that is so familiar here in the states from Eco Domani to Santa Margarita, but others that are more unique to Italy. One of those whites is Tocai Friulano.
The Grape: Tocai Fruilano comes from a vine that was imported from Hungary in the 1800's. This is not the same grape that creates the incredible Hugarian desert wine. It is also believe to come from Sauvignon Vert, but the name is derived from the local Italian wine for the smal juice-style glass that is used to serve wine in Friulian taverns and restaurants. Most wines made from this unique grape are made to drink young and COLD....(in fact that was an instruction on the bottle).
The Winery: Owned and operated by Giovanni and Elisabetta Foffani, the winery produces a total of 100,000 bottles a year of red and white varietals. They create quality wines using traditional methods. Giovanii started out in international finance but his heart has always been in wine making. For 20 years he has devoted time to his farm. He follows the technical side of the business. Elisabetta is the front person, creating and devloping the relationships between with the customers. Their two sons are now in the business helping create better wine with their parents.
The Wine: The wine poured a nice yellow, with almost a hint of green. The nose is incredibly aromatic, with hints of peaches and limestones, pinenuts or almonds. On the mouth there is a nice level of acidity and crispness. Apples with lots of grapefruit fill the mouth. Its a balanced wine between the acidity and the alcohol at 13.0%. A VERY nice wine that I'd grade a strong B.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Great Divide Old Ruffian

What better way to post my first review of a Beer than for that beer to be a Barley Wine. I am a HUGE fan of Colorado micro brew's (and not just becuase my girlfriend is from there), but they have such a wide range of brewers there all doing something seemingly different.
The Beer: Ahh yes Barley Wine, that beer that is so unlike other beers, but at its heart is nothing else, but a wonderful combinatino of barley, malts, hops, and water. This typically high alcohol beer is different from any other beer in my mind, a cross between a port and an ale. Heck, aren't served in pints, they are usually served in snifter shaped glasses that allow the aromas to pen up. The first barley wine in the states was brewed commercially by Sierra Nevada in California. It should be obvious why I like Barley wines as they are the closes beer to wine, both in alcohol levels and in complexity. Its a powershouse for sure.
The Brewer: The Great Divide brewing company is located in Downtown Denver. A typical story for a micro brew, Great Divide started about 12 years ago by Brian Dunn, a home brewer that took a HUGE chance and started up a brewery near the birth of the Denver beer scene. They are known for their unique six pack beers, but the awards come in for their line of "Really Big Beers" which include the Titan IPA, Hibernation Ale, Hercules Double IPA, YETI imperial Stout and of course the Old Ruffian Barley Wine.
The Taste: Using a snifter like glass I poured the beer in, and it was a nice caramel color, deep and rich smelling of caramel, sweet and hoppy. In the mouth there was an explosion of hops and fruit. As it sat in the glass the beer opened up even more as I sipped it and a creamy mouthfeel came out with specific hints of citrus on the palate. A truly wonderful beer and at 10.2% alchol you only need one, but it is amazing.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Great....Watery liquor

Just what we need, bad liquor. US Beer giant Anheuser-Busch is suggesting that they may get into the liquor industry. Meaning distilling. Whiskey, among other things. So we get to look forward to them putting the same effort in liquor as they do their bee (that's not a good thing). An interesting note from this article is the fact that the "beer industry has lost five points of U.S. market share since 1995 to wine and spirits." Now overall this may be true, but what this article doesn't point out is that total sales of micro brewed beer are at an all time rise, in fact beating out the increase in wine consumption. When will Bud realize its not shrinking beer consumption its the fact that their beer sucks. If they strived to create great beer, I'd just about guarantee that their market share wouldn't be shrinking. If you have the choice between a great glass of wine or Bud, what are you going to choose? If you had the choice between a Pyramid Curveball or a Bud, what are you going to choose? Its the beer stupid......not the marketplace.

Times are a changing

Yes things have changed for the better I think. I love wine, always will, but I also appreciate a great beer. Now not those water clear non tasting beers of the so called "big three" but the amazing complexity of a micro brew such as Left Hand, St. Arnold's, Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Ale, etc, or the greatness that is German Beer from Kolsch to Munchen beers and everything in between. The uniqueness of a Belgium Beer that can rival some wines for the alcoholic potency and are just as complex. There is a world of beer out there that many wine drinkers have turned their nose up at. Likewise there is a world of Wine that beer drinkers have avoided thinking it too "hoity-toity." I hope this blog, can bring the two worlds together to show how much they have in common. As always more to come.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Change is in the air. As we grow and as we experience new things we change, our tastes change and the way we want to do things change. So, this website will be changing....for the better I hope. There will still be entries on the news of wine and as many tasting notes as I can handle, but there will be another dimension added, combining two of the things I love into one place. Enough of my cryptic ramblings....all I can say is stay tuned.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

2002 Spelletich Cellars Zinfandel

Its been a couple of days since the WBW roundup and I decide to go in the complete opposite direction. For WBW we experienced wines of an alcholo percentage lower than 12.5%...this wine? Weighs in at a hefty 15.5%. Its a BIG difference.
The Winery: Spelletich Cellars is a small Bonded winery in Napa Valley, with only 2 employees. The winemaker Tim Spelletich and his daughter Kristen. Tim gained experienced in fine wine while working in a small inn and restaurant outside the Asti region of Italy. After working at fine restaurants in New York and Philladelphia he made it to Napa in 1994 where he was the manager and wine buyer for Tra Vigne. His wife Barabara also has a long history in the wine business and in 1994 Spelletich Vineyards had its first harvest. They are a winery that tries a minimalist approach letting the grape speak for the wine.
The Wine: The grapes for this Zinfandel (Spelletich makes two different versions of their Zin) are harvested from Tim and Edies Vineyard in Shenandoah Valley. It spends 12 months in equal parts French and American oak. It pours a nice dark inky Rubish red in the glass. Scents of chocolate and rasberries, leather and a hint of tannins. In the mouth there is a toasty dryness from the tannins and oak. Rasberry and black berry jam are opulent once the wine has opened up. This is a very nice Zin, one I would grade a B+.

Friday, June 16, 2006

WBW 22 Roundup

Tim over at Winecast has posted his roundup of WBW 22, Lite Red's. You can see my entry below, but for quite a few more good low octane Red's go check out the roundup. Suprisingly there were quite a few below 12.5% not just at the limit. There were even some New World Cab's and Australian Shiraz's!!!!
Surpising, but it was a fun Challenge.

Monday, June 12, 2006

WBW 22 Entry

My second time to participate in Wine Blogging Wednesday, I used to taste one of the wines I brought back from my recent trip to Italy. A 2001 Pojer i Sandri Pinot Nero, and yes at 12.5% it meets the requirements set forth by the folks over at I actually picked this wine up at a local wine shop in Trentino after I explained to the proprietor in a mix of my broken Italian, his broken English, and my girlfriend's broken French, that I wanted to try an Italian Pinot Nero, he pointed me to this wine.
The Grape: Pinot Nero an unusual name for a grape that most people haven't heard of. Never fear, as different as the name sounds the grape is familiar. Pinot Nero is nothing other than the Italian version of Pinot Noir the great grape of Burgundy, France.
The Winery: The winery Pojere i Sandri is located in the alpine hills above Trentino. It was started by two men, Fiorentino Sandri who inherited some vineyard land, and Fiorentino Sandri who had just obtained a degree in enology at a nearby school. Most of the grapes for the winery grow in the hills of Faedo between Adige and the Cembra valley. The winery makes an amazing award winning Mueller Thurgau, and Chardonnay along with this red wine.
The Wine: The vineyard where these grapes are obtained are between 300 and 500 meters above sea level. The soil consists of sandstone, silstone, loam rocks, limestone, and dolomite. This wine is an IGT wine, which basically means its not as specific as a DOC or DOCG (similar to France's AOC) but covers a larger area in this case the Dolomiti region. It pours a light Garnett in the glass. Strawberries and Cherries with hints of earthy mustiness on the nose. In the mouth there is a nice acidity with the same strawberry and cherry flavors with a hint of more sour cherry at the finish. A very nice wine to go with foods, especially lighter fare. I'd grade it a B+.
Remember to check back on June 14th for a complete round up of the latest Wine Blogging Wednesday.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Alternative Fuels

No this is not an entry about how we need to turn away from gas and oil and that everyone needs to start driving hybrids and biodiesels (although its not a bad idea). There have been numerous stories from Australia to Europe of countries over producing grapes, creating a glut of the produce and leaving no idea of what to do with it. Well the EU has come up with a solution. Turn that wine into fuel. The EU will take about 510 million litres of surplus wine from Italy and France and turn into bioethanol that can only be used as biofuel or industrial alcohol. A unique solution that kills two birds with one stone. It helps however minutely to decrease the dependence on traditional gas and it helps do something with the surplus of grapes that would otherwise be dumped into the market place or simply tossed away. The EU will pay these wineries somewhere in the neighborhood of 130m Euros. Last year when they started this program EU paid around 150m Euros. Its definetely and interesting solution to the larger problem of why the wineries are continually ovreproducing grapes.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

2004 Lange Pinot Blanc

This was the second wine I had, one red, and now a white.
The Winery: Owned by Don and Wendy Lange two Californians who moved to Williamette Valley Oregon in 1987. The winery specializes in Pinot Noir, which should suprise you as Williamette valley is known for producing near Burgundian quality Pinot's. The winemaker is Don Lange who is a former song writer, and actually created 3 albums. They have had the winery long enough that there children are now getting involved and Don's son Jesse is involved in the winemaking process. While known for its Pinot Noirs, it is raising the bar for Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay.
The Grape: Pinot Blanc is an interesting variety as it is a genetic mutation of Pinot Grigio which is actually a clone of Pinot Noir. And last but not least the leaf structure is so similar to Chardonnay that there are some vinearyds where the plantins are interminguled at one time there was mis-labeling of grapes as "pinot chardonnay" Overal Pinot Blanc is known for its high acidity and low armoacy. It grows extensively in Italy (maybe why I liked it), Germany and Austria. This is a cold weather white grape.
The Wine: As I mentioned grown in Williamtte valley it weighs in at 13.9% alcohol, opened with an aritificial cork no chance of getting a 'corked' wine here. The color of light straw in the glass. Very Subtle hints of apricots, almonds, and apples in the nose. In the mouth the apples were the most pronounced flavors filled out by a little bit of toastiness, and very crips acidity that balanced the alcohol very well. This to me is a very food friendly wine and one I'd grade a B.

2004 Novy Syrah

This was my first wine from the states after I got back. I'm glad that I decided to drink this one, because for me at least it emphasised the big difference between some of the Italian wines I tasted and the wines from California.
I won't go into miniscule detail on Novy as I have in the past when I tried their Grenache, but needless to say this is the same couple that owns the great Pinot Noir winery Siduri.
The Wine: Formally called 2004 Novy Syrah Susan's Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands, it weighs in at a powerful 15.2%. Much higher than anything I had in Italy, as probably the highest alcohol content was around 13.5. It pours a nice dark purple/red in the glass. Very little feel of the alcholo on the nose, hints of blueberry and whitepepper. I love hints of blueberry in a Syrah. With the bready nose I also got, it almost reminded me of a warm blueberry tart. In the mouth there was nice long fruit tons of blueberries and that bready yeasty flavor. However it was on the finish that I could feel an alcohol burn in my throat. It was stilla very nice wine, that maybe with a little aging would lose a bit of that burn. I'd grade it a B+.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

WBW 22

Well the latest Wine Blogging Wednesday has been announced. This week the folks over at winecast are hosting the event. The theme this month is lite red's. What this means is any red wine with an alcohol level under 12.5%. Now in this day and age of wines that are pushing well over 15.0% on a regular basis this won't be easy. Some suggestions are wines from the Loire Valley, Northern Italian wines, German Red's, etc. I.e. Not your typical red's. Of note winecast gives special kudos for finding a typical high alcohol wine like Shiraz, Zinfandel or California Cab that meets the above requirements. Come back on June 14th to see the results. It will be interesting I promise.