August 30, 2007

A Rosé by Any Other Name and Wine in Vegas. And Neophyte to Wine Snob Stuff

The wonderful tasting for the Tex and Fritz’s Wine Club Thing on Saturday night turned out much better than I could have hoped. We were a small group, but with the plans made ahead of time, there were just enough folks to fill up the space around the table and to enjoy the wonderful Rosés that I had purchased for our enjoyment.

There were only seven members due to several last-minute cancellations. As always, I had a fun time hosting, selecting the Rosé wines, and preparing the tasting notes and voting sheets. Because I had to “know” the wines in order to make sure that they were in the right sequence and not diminish the wines that were poured first, I did not actively participate in the blind tasting. I poured the wines and supplied enough glasses so that the members could compare each wine with the other. What a lovely sight! The Rosés were beautiful and reflected the colors of the Rosé rainbow, from a pale salmon pink to bright candy pink to a sheer garnet. The refreshments included appetizers of fresh fruits (strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, and dried cherries because these aromas are characteristically found in Rosé wines), Fontina and Gruyere cheeses, two different Pasolivo olive oils, dipping bread, homemade salsas, and a smoked beef brisket. For dessert there was watermelon "pizza" and vanilla ice cream.

Thanks so much to Tex and Gidget for the following compliment: The last time Irene prepared her delicious dry rub beef brisket was @ Michael Breyer's tasting and it disappeared very quickly. This time there were fewer people attending & Irene prepared more brisket, but the result was the same: no leftovers for her to eat later!!

I apologize for the delay in getting this tasting report out to you, but my camera died and according to the “service” contract that I had purchased when I bought the camera a few months ago, it had to go out for “service.” I figured that the Rosés wouldn’t last that long so here I am. And, yes, I feel like I’m getting “serviced,” particularly since this is the second camera in less than ten months that has gone belly up. Pardon my rant.

Check the end of this entry for details on the wines for the tasting.

The first Neophyte to Wine Snob Experience classes will be held at Valley Cheese and Wine during the third week of September. I will have complete information in next week’s update, and should have information on upcoming Paso Robles tours.

One of the questions I am always asked is in regards to the relevance of wine in Las Vegas. After all, it’s “only” Las Vegas. Not “Wine Central” by anybody’s estimation. We’re known for casinos, showgirls, the mob, and lots and lots of glitz. I can understand this perception because wine is largely available to the tourists at the tourists’ restaurants on The Strip, often at wildly inflated, breathtaking prices, usually triple or more of retail. Too many local restaurants have tried to do The Strip “thing” and mark up their wines to extortion levels as well, hoping that people are too ignorant to notice or too absorbed or embarrassed to say anything.

Too bad. Because we’re up to our nostrils in wine, and can kick anyone’s butt on the prices and the quality at our local joints. As many of you know, Marché Bacchus is my favorite with wine list QPRs (Quality/Price Ratio) that are hard to beat. Others may cost a little more, but are far from the abusive prices of the tourist areas. Jimmy’s Café, King’s, and Bleu Gourmet are great examples of establishments that provide wonderful food and the ability to purchase wine at great restaurant-reasonable prices.

Even as people get more and more savvy about wine, there will come a time (I predict) when people will start to question the exploitation prices on many restaurants’ wine lists, and will let their dollars speak for them by patronizing those places that offer wines at sensible prices. People eat out more and are beginning to realize that McDonald’s does not offer an ethereal dining experience. And people like my youngest son are learning that beer doesn’t offer much to a romantic candlelight dinner. (There’s a story there, by the way). Newspapers, articles, magazines, and online reports laud the health benefits of wine, and obscure grapes that make fabulous wines are being rescued from the brink of extinction. Many of these wines go for a song and a prayer at the local retail shops, and the sticker shock on the restaurant wine list may be moderated as people realize that wine is a food. After all, even children receive it around the family tables in Europe. Except for Antarctica, grapes are grown on every continent, and wine is enjoyed by most truly civilized countries. Unbelievably, wine grapes are grown in every state in the United States.

So when you find a restaurant that offers good food, great ambiance, and sensible wine prices, raise your glass in salute and drink up! And visit them often. As consumers, it’s a good thing to show your support and help with their success. (Did I sound like Martha Stewart or what?!?)

When you come to the blog and read the updates, be sure to read the Wine Quote of the Week. Many of those quotes go back to antiquity and reflect the relationship that civilized man has had with wine since the dawn of time. For those of you who are biblically inclined, Noah knew what he was doing!

There are wine tastings every day in Las Vegas. Every day. The tastings may range from the weekly free pourings at some of our favorite retail shops, such as Khoury’s, Valley Cheese and Wine, Las Vegas Wine Company, Steak, and Marché Bacchus to special dinners, discounts, and tastings for wine club members such as the Grape Beginnings club at Jimmy’s Café or the wine club at Roy’s. Lee’s Discount Liquor not only has weekend tastings, but also sponsors big wine events during the course of the year. If you’re looking for a wine tasting in Las Vegas and can’t find it, then you’re not looking hard enough!

Heads up on an upcoming event! The Second Annual HenderZIN Festival will be held on October 13 in the parking lot of Khoury’s on Eastern. I went last year, spent a LOT of money on phenomenal Zinfandels, and loved every moment of it. At $50.00 a head, it’s a bargain! Go to their website for contact information.

Next week: Time for the Neophyte to Wine Snob Experience

And here are the wines! Thanks to Tex for supplying the very detailed tasting notes:

Wine #1 was pale pink in color with a tinge of salmon, aromas & flavors of watermelon, strawberries & minerals with additional flavors of cherries, mint, herbs & pepper. This was the 2006 Domaine de Souviou Rosé (a blend of 60% Cinsault, 30% Grenache & 10% Mourvedre), Bandol, France -- 90 pts Wine Enthusiast -- 13% alcohol -- $27.

Wine #2 was pink in color with an orange-brown tinge, aromas & flavors of watermelon & strawberries, more intense in flavor than the first wine, with additional flavors of raspberries, mild tannins & a long finish. This was the 2005 Casa Mireles "Romanze" Rosé (a blend of 97% Syrah & 3% Pinot Noir), San Luis Obispo, CA -- 14.2% -- $17.

Wine #3 was raspberry in color with earthy aromas of currants; creamy flavors of currants, raspberries & strawberries with licorice on the finish. This was the 2005 L'Uvaggio di Giacomo Il Gufo Barbera Rosato (100% Barbera), Lodi, CA -- 12.5% -- $9.

Wine #4 was raspberry in color with aromas of red currants, cherries & roses; flavors of red currants, red apples & watermelon. This was the 2006 Artero Rosado J. Tempranillo (100% Tempranillo), La Mancha, Spain -- 12.5% -- $13.

Wine #5 was light cherry red in color with an oxidized nose reminiscent of Madera, bread dough, apples & vanilla with some tannins. This was the 2005 Palm Cellars "The Bearded Poodle" Rosé (60% Syrah, 30% Grenache & 10% Zinfandel), Paso Robles, CA -- 14.1% -- $13 ONLY @ Khoury's (only a few bottles left). This was the favorite Rosé of the night. (Irene’s note – if there’s any left, it’s only at the Khoury’s on Eastern)

Mike Frankel treated the group to a 2006 L'Aventure Rosé (72% Syrah & 28% Cabernet Sauvignon), Paso Robles, CA -- 14.8%. Thanks, Mike, for providing this delightful Rosé.

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