Showing posts with label Las Vegas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Las Vegas. Show all posts

Monday, January 27, 2014

Snoqualmie Naked Riesling 2010

We had a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas for Christmas - it's just not the holidays without an opportunity to double down on eleven a few times.  After a couple of successful double downs, I left the table with my windfall and headed for the 221 wine bar in Summerlin's Rampart Casino.

There, I ordered a Merryvale Starmount Chardonnay, which I was told had run out.  Okay, let's try the Hogue Riesling.  Nope.  Can't seem to find that either.  Well, gimme the Snoqualmie Naked Riesling.  At this point, I wasn't really expecting to get a glass of wine.  Sure enough, the kid behind the bar couldn't locate it, either.  After a little poking around and an admission that he was beginning to think I was looking at a wine list from some other restaurant, he did finally come up with a bottle of the Snoqualmie.

Snoqualmie Naked Riesling 2010 is a Washington state wine from the huge - 11 million acres huge -Columbia Valley.  It is produced using organically grown grapes and hits only 12.3% in alcohol, but shows three percent of residual sugar.  The wine cost $11 by the glass and retails for about that much by the bottle.
Snoqualmie winemaker Joy Andersen has done a good job with this bargain wine.

It has quite a nice golden tint for an "unoaked" wine, although the word seems to refer to the organic grapes, not a lack of oak.  The nose displays earth, petrol and plenty of minerals.  I'm happy so far.  The sip reveals off-dry shades of petrol, which are noticeable immediately. The palate is earthy with pear and peach flavors, and vibrant.  Acidity is very nice even when served too cold, as they do at 221.


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Monday, July 15, 2013

Peachy Canyon Incredible Red Zinfandel 2010

Peachy Canyon Winery, in the Westside of Paso Robles, produces a host of wonderful Zinfandels.  Former schoolteachers Doug and Nancy Beckett started the winery in 1988.  You could learn a thing or two about Zin in their Old School House Tasting Room, where staying after school is quite desirable.

The second generation is now getting into the act - Josh Beckett has been the Peachy Canyon winemaker since 2003.

I tried the Peachy Canyon Incredible Red Zinfandel at Spiedini, in the J.R. Marriott Hotel in the Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin.  It’s a favorite restaurant for my wife and I when we visit.  The big sin in Sin City would be missing an opportunity to dine here.  A 100% Zinfandel wine at 14.9% abv, this one isn’t shy.  The wine was offered by the glass, and if I remember correctly it cost about $12.  I’ve seen it by the bottle for less than that at Trader Joe’s over the past few years.

This Zin is medium dark in color with a pretty purple around the rim.  Brilliant aromas of blueberry dance with notes of black pepper and sage.  The palate is just as fruit-forward, with big blueberry and black cherry flavors residing on base of savory black olive.  It was great with the prosciutto wrapped pork tenderloins.


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Monday, June 17, 2013

Westerly Sauvignon Blanc


I usually don't like it when a favorite spot is jettisoned by something new, especially when that something looks trendy.  One of my favorite Las Vegas hangs, Nora's Wine Bar and Osteria is no more.  Its replacement, Honey Salt, is a worthy successor to the strip mall space.

While the wine list at Honey Salt can't touch the one curated by Nora, they do have a few interesting choices.  The food is quite good, too.  Again, it's a small menu but it is centered on fresh and delicious offerings.

With my octopus Ni├žoise I had the pleasure of the Westerly Sauvignon Blanc.  I had a little difficulty finding a website for them and ran across one mention that the winery had closed.  The wine was listed for around $15 online.

Yellow-green in the glass, the bouquet shows a slightly grassy tone with tropical fruit and tangerine.  The palate is a laden with citrus, peach and mango.  A wonderful acidity is zippy and fresh.  Props to Honey Salt for serving it chilled, not refrigerated.


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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fog Dog Chardonnay


The California coast is known for its fog, and wineries are generally known for having a dog or two on the premises, so it was only a matter of time until the two merged in a wine named Fog Dog.

Actually not named for a cute little four legged creature at all, the wine's namesake is a white or clear spot in fog seen along the horizon.  It is said to go along with fog the way a dog goes with its owner.

Fog Dog Chardonnay - from Joseph Phelps Vineyards - is 100% Sonoma Coast Chardonnay sourced from the Freestone estate vineyards - only five miles from the Pacific - and the Dutton Ranch Mill Station Vineyard.  It retails for $35 and I think I paid about $14 for a glass at Embers Grill and Spirits in Las Vegas.

It was an enjoyably cool evening west of the strip in Summerlin, and the wine was perfect with a snack of garlic hummus, caprese salad and goat cheese and fig crostini.

Very golden and rich looking in the glass, the nose offers a good bit of oak spice with tropical fruit and floral notes.  On the palate, Fog Dog is lush with just the right amount of oak to lend a nice tone of vanilla to the fruit.  A great acidity makes for a refreshing and food-friendly glass of wine.


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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ferrari - Carano Fume Blanc


Mother’s Day found us in Las Vegas, taking Denise’s mother, Verna, to an early dinner at Spiedini Italian Ristorante.  It’s a place we have enjoyed for years in the Rampart Casino in Summerlin, out west of the strip where things are a little less crazy.

Gustav Mauler’s eatery has never disappointed me, even when it’s simple.  Grilled calamari and capellini pomodoro tasted great on this day.  I had the Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc.

A 100% varietal wine, the Sauvignon Blanc grapes were taken from the various Ferrari-Carano Sonoma County vineyards.   The wine is fermented about two-thirds in stainless steel, one-third in neutral French oak.  The wine in the barrels is aged sur lie, or with the spent yeast cells still in the wine.  This gives more weight to the finished wine and creates a fuller mouthfeel.

A greenish tint marks this white wine in the glass, and the nose is steely and nervy.   Citrus aromas dominate, with a hint of smoke wafting over the transom.   The palate is mineral-laden and also citrusy.  The flavor of lemon peel carries through the sip and into the finish.

I don’t know if there was a wine on the Spiedini list which would have gone better with my grilled calamari or my mother-in-law’s buttery clams.   Later, in the elevator, a fellow guest told me, “If it makes the mother-in-law happy, it’s worth whatever it costs!”



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Friday, December 28, 2012

Cantele Primitivo


At the Las Vegas Brio Tuscan Grille, I felt like a Zinfandel, but wanted to drink Italian.  That’s an easy situation to deal with when there is a Primitivo on the list.

Primitivo and Zinfandel were thought to be the same grape with different names, until DNA analysis showed that, while very similar, they are different grapes.

The Cantele Primitivo is a 100% varietal wine, I.G.T. Salento, which is in Puglia, the heel of the Italian “boot.”  It costs $7.95 by the glass at the restaurant.

Cantele Primitivo is colored quite darkly, and has an intense nose of blackberry and spice.  An earthy aroma has a little spearmint mixed in.  On the palate, flavors of blackberry dominate, and the tannins are very gentle.  Sipping it alone was a joy, and it paired with my Bolognese sauce perfectly.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Living It Up On A Limited Wine List


There's the old Las Vegas joke about the guy at the bus depot bumming the fare back home.  Guy gives him the money for the ticket, but admonishes him "not to gamble it away."  Bum replies, "Oh, don't worry - I've got gambling money!"  In my world, it's, "Oh, I've got wine money."

We're enjoying a little holiday getaway in Las Vegas, with me alternating between a few hands of blackjack and watching my wife play slots.  If you have ever watched someone play slots, you know that it's the pattern from which boredom is made.

My wife says, "It's Vegas - why don't you live it up a little?"  I'm of Scots-Irish heritage: we love to drink, but we're too cheap to buy it.  I decided to turn loose of a few bucks and take her advice.  Live it up.

So we pop into the wine bar in the hallway between the J.W. Marriott and the Rampart Casino, a little place called Two Two One, for reasons that were never made clear.  Right away, I redefine my expectations.  The wine list has no "special occasion" wines.  On the bright side, "living it up" wasn't going to cost as much as I had thought it would.

The wine list is limited, but it offers some reliable names at prices that are pretty reasonable.  I chose the Hogue Riesling and the Ravenswood Zinfandel.

To underscore the feeling of a "vacation," I did not take notes and I did not take pictures, but take my word for it, both wines were just fine and added an extra dimension of pleasure to the evening.

They aren't exotic or worldly wines and they don't make me work too hard to figure them out, although that's something I enjoy quite a lot.  They offer a tasty escape and the chance to live it up without spending too much of my wine money - or my gambling money.


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

SEGHESIO ZINFANDEL AT M RESORT


Seghesio Zinfandel

Anthony's Steakhouse at M Resort in Las Vegas put a positive spin on a day of visiting my mother-in-law - my favorite mother-in-law - in the hospital.  Actually, the visiting itself was fairly positive.  She was doing much better by the time we got there, and we were overjoyed to see that.

No special occasion is needed, though, to enjoy this spacious Vegas eatery located a few miles south of the Strip in an area that was once considered to be out of town.  There's a fantastic view of the strip through the wall of windows on the restaurant's north side.

It's customary for me at steakhouses to not order the steak.  I have nothing against beef, I just can't resist the siren call of a big pork chop on diced candied apple.

That was a great choice for the Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel 2009.  Nice and dark in the glass - inky wine holds a great allure for me, too - the aromas of blackberry, blueberry and peppery spices are joined by whiffs of tar and anise.  The nose is huge - it even wins the fight with the overly perfumed air in the casino.

The Seghesio's flavors are very dark and earthy.  Blackberry dominates, but that tar really comes forward.  Great tannins and minerality make a natural for pairing with steakhouse cuisine.




Tuesday, November 8, 2011

STAGS LEAP HANDS OF TIME 2008



Stags Leap at TBones in Las Vegas

It's late night in Las Vegas - well, Summerlin - and I stroll into the TBones steakhouse in the Red Rock Casino and Hotel and take a seat at the bar.  The waitress says it's last call.  Last call in Vegas?  I didn't know there was such a thing.  I'll have the Stags' Leap.

Stags' Leap Winery in Napa Valley is famous not only for great wines, but also for winning the Cabernet Sauvignon prize at the famous Judgement of Paris tasting.  You wouldn't know it by watching Bottle Shock though - that movie dealt only with Chateau Montelena's big success in that event with their Chardonnay.

Despite the slight from Hollywood, Stags' Leap manages to carry on pretty well.  Their Hands of Time red blend is 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot and 3% Syrah.  It sells for around $30, and it cost $16 by the glass at TBones.

There are plenty of bottles offered at TBones, but the by-the-glass selection is rather skimpy at the steakhouse.  However - as Spencer Tracy said - "what's there is cherce."  There are five Sommelier selections on the list which range from $15 to $45 per glass.

Hands Of Time is inky black in the glass and the nose is just beautiful, showing blackberries all lush and ripe.  Anise, vanilla and a light clove aroma also make it an interesting sniff.  The palate is all about dark fruit, with graphite and smoke lightly appearing.  The finish is lengthy with a hint of stewed prunes.

I'm glad I didn't miss last call.


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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

BEER AT THE SPORTSBOOK: FIRE ROCK PALE ALE


beer at the sportsbook

Saturday, college football, hanging at the sportsbook in the Red Rock Casino in Summerlin, Nevada.  That's a great day in my book.  I watched some football, took a break to see how Denise was doing on the slots,  watched some more football, took a break to play a little blackjack, watched some more football... I don't know why every day can't be like that.  Oh yeah, I can't afford it.  I remember now.

Michigan State didn't cover the point spread and I couldn't win with 20s.  At least Mrs. Lucky made up for the error of my ways.  And the beer was good.

Fire Rock Pale Ale comes from Hawaii's Kona Brewing Company, located on the western side of the Big Island.  They've been brewing since 1995, and I say they are doing a fine job of it.

The copper color is immediately appealing, as are the floral aromas.  There is some lemon on the nose as well.  It's a little lighter in the mouth than most craft ales, but it's nice and creamy with a hoppy taste that's not overdone - as if it's possible to overdo the hops.  A slightly bitter taste lingers on the finish with a nutty background flavor.  I had mine at the sportsbook bar while chewing my fingernails over the Spartans, but I would imagine it goes great with other types of food, too.


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WINE IN LAS VEGAS


La Cave at The Wynn Las Vegas

You can add another high-end wine haven to the list in Las Vegas. The Wynn Las Vegas now boasts La Cave Wine and Food Hideaway.  According to Las Vegas Weekly, it's a collaboration between Steve Wynn and restaurateur Michael Morton.  Wines from around the world are selected by Danielle Price, executive wine director of Wynn Resorts, and Rober Wright, the wine director for La Cave.  The article quotes Wright as saying La Cave's wine list will encourage guests to explore new and different grape varieties.

La Cave also features gourmet cuisine to pair with the wine, and is open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. daily.  The kitchen may not be open at all hours, so a call ahead of time is advised.

I have yet to check out La Cave, but there are already several great places in Las Vegas where wine lovers can enjoy a glass or two.

Charlie Palmer's Aureole at Mandalay Bay has Master Sommelier William Sherer overseeing 55,000 bottles in the wine tower, which is a show in itself.

Emeril's Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian has over 1700 wine selections to pair with their great food.

The Wine Cellar at the Rio offers a great, dark place to get out of the neon glow for a while.

Nora's Wine Bar and Osteria is literally an oasis in a strip mall.

Grape Vegas at the Town Square Mall offers plenty of affordable choices in a casual atmosphere.

Friday, November 5, 2010

LIBERTY SCHOOL CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES 2008


Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon

The Hope Family has been growing grapes in Paso Robles, California since 1978.  The Liberty School brand has been around since the 1980s, when Chuck Wagner of Napa Valley's Caymus Winery selected the Hope Family Vineyard as the source for his second label Cabernet.  The Hopes established their own winery - Treana - in 1996 and later took over the Liberty School label.  Since then, they have added a Central Coast Chardonnay, Syrah and Cuvee to the Liberty School line.

Last year I discovered on a trip to Las Vegas that Liberty School was the house wine at the Eastside Cannery Casino.  I thought then that it was a pretty good wine - especially considering it was going for only $6 per glass in that casino.  Now, Hope Family Wines has supplied me with a sample of their newly released 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon for review.

Still a bargain, the Liberty School Cab retails for twelve dollars per bottle.

The winemaker notes explain the wine is "barreled down by individual vineyard lots in a combination of French and American oak barrels, 10% of which are new.  The wine is aged 12 months and blended three months prior to bottling."

The nose is rather rustic, a quality I like a lot.  There's plenty of earth to go along with the blackberry and cassis aromas and flavors.  The dark fruit on the palate shows a trace of pencil lead that gets a bit stronger over an hour or so after pouring.  This Cab has great acidity and great tannins that speak up but don’t shout.  There is a bit of heat upon opening the bottle, but it dissipates after a time.  The wood effect is present but not overplayed.

I like the Liberty School Cabernet, and for twelve bucks, I’d say it’s a good deal.  It's great with steak, by the way, and considering its structure, it should work well with a variety of meats.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

TWIN FIN CALIFORNIA SHIRAZ 2006


Twin Fin Shiraz

I’m not one who thinks a low-priced wine has to be cheap.  I’ve had plenty of wines at less than ten dollars per bottle which I found quite nice.  Even at the five-dollar mark, it’s not impossible to find quality.  Twin Fin Shiraz is a six-dollar wine which was given as a gift from a casino in Las Vegas.  I happen to like the casino, so I’ll leave them out of this.
Produced at the Constellation Wines facility in Woodbridge, CA, Twin Fin shares the corporate umbrella with labels like Mondavi, Ravenswood, Estancia, Blackstone and a number of other perfectly decent wines that are found in a lot of supermarkets.
I cannot locate any information on where the grapes are sourced for the 2006 vintage, but in the past, Twin Fin has taken Syrah from Monterey County, Lodi, North Coast and Paso Robles. I would guess this changes from year to year, and that the most affordable grapes are used.
The nose is big, but not that enticing.  Blackberry aromas struggle to fight through the alcohol.  It’s only 13.5% abv, so something doesn’t smell quite right.  Speaking of, there’s a bit of a barnyard fragrance coming through that’s not entirely pleasant.  There's quite a bit of oak effect in it, too.  The smell of a wine is supposed to make me want to drink it.  This bouquet makes me want to pour it down the drain.

Thin and harsh are two words I hate to use when writing about a wine, but this wine simply can’t offer anything better.  The dark fruit is there, along with a peppery spice note.  The flavors, which should be so nice, seem too heavily influenced by oak.  Between the off-putting odor and the weak quality on the palate there’s not much nice to say.  It’s a pretty, dark purple. Maybe I can just look at it while I drink something else.
The wine does mellow a bit after an hour or so in the glass, losing some of the heat and a bit of the funk, but it still has a rather hollow mouthfeel and contrived flavor profile.  Two nights later it had mellowed even more, but the weight was still thin and the taste was off.  
Six dollars isn't a lot to pay for a bottle of wine, but I still think it's overpriced.  The fact that it was a gift doesn't make me feel any better about it.  I'd have been happier had the casino given me Two Buck Chuck.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

SANTA EMA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009 AT BRIO TUSCAN GRILLE, LAS VEGAS


Santa Ema Sauvignon Blanc

During my recent trip to Las Vegas I found myself away from the casino for a spell.  I'm not too sure how that happened, but while strolling around in the 100+ degree heat - dry heat - I decided it was time for some refreshment.
Brio Tuscan Grille is a chain restaurant, but they appear to take a little more interest in the wine list than that usually indicates.  On this hot afternoon, refreshment came in the form of a Chilean white wine.
Santa Ema Sauvignon Blanc is from Chile's Central Valley region, in the Maipo Valley.  It's 100% Sauvignon Blanc and costs $7 per glass.  It also costs about that for a bottle at many retailers.

Refreshment is what I wanted, and refreshment was delivered.  Pale, straw-colored in the glass, the nose is grassy and grapefruity with some tropical notes.  There's also a whiff of fresh melons.  The palate shows citrus on peaches.  There's a delighful acidity with a very light and refreshing mouthfeel.  The finish is medium long, but entirely delightful.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NATHANSON CREEK CHARDONNAY AT STUDIO B BUFFET, M RESORT, LAS VEGAS


Nathanson Creek Chardonnay

All-you-can-eat buffets have been a mainstay of Las Vegas dining since the Rat Pack was smoking by the carton at the Sands.  The only thing that has changed about that is the price.  Once touted as the way to get full if you only had $1.99 left after getting cleaned out at the craps table, Las Vegas buffets now top ten, fifteen and even twenty dollars - more for the really special ones.
At the M Resort, the buffet runs about $30 - rather steep even though the food is good and there's plenty of it.  The M's Studio B buffet adds the attraction of free beverages, incuding beer and wine.  But what kind of wine are they serving for free?  Even though I was there for a 9:00 a.m. breakfast, I felt compelled to at least sample the wine and report on it here.  That's the life of a struggling wine blogger: work, work, work.
You may have seen this coming - I did - but there is only one wine label offered for free at the buffet.  It's Nathanson Creek, and I saw three varieties on hand - Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and White Zinfandel.  It was a little early for a Cab, even for me, and I thought I'd pass on the White Zin.  The Chardonnay sounded like a nice breakfast wine, so I ordered a glass.
A little searching brought no wealth of information.  It's a California wine, but I can't locate the grapes any more specifically than that.  It sells for about $8 a bottle in stores and there's a drawing of a frog on the label, which didn't surprise me. 

On tasting, I was surprised - it really wasn't too bad.  Served fairly cold, the nose is quite obscured.  I get faint notes of peach and apple with an undercurrent of oaky aromas.  The wood is not overdone and the wine has a nice level of acidity.  The finish is short, but the mouthfeel is full and round.  It goes well with bacon, which is good because that's what's usually on my plate at a Vegas buffet.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

CHANDON RESERVE PINOT NOIR BRUT AT THE HOSTILE GRAPE, M RESORT, LAS VEGAS


Chandon Reserve Pinot Noir Brut

Fans of old-school Las Vegas remember fondly the $1.99 meals which, at one time, were prevalent in Sin City.  They were quite popular at a time when the casinos felt the need to throw a loss-leader out there to attract gamblers.
Nowadays, they have figured out the gamblers will be there no matter how much the meal costs.  In fact, Las Vegas has become quite the big ticket attraction in the opulent gambling palaces on The Strip.  Chefs of world renown have restaurants in every one of the glitzy hotels where $1.99 isn't likely to buy an iced tea, much less a meal.
When I visited the M Resort - a bit south of The Strip proper - I saw that their wine bar and cellar, The Hostile Grape, was advertising $2 sparkling wine on one particular evening.  Spying a way to enjoy a little wine break without tapping too heavily into the all-important gambling money, I decided to check out the offer.  It was my personal version of the $1.99 meal.
To the credit of The Hostile Grape, they were not lowballing the selection.  It wasn't Moet et Chandon, but it was Chandon, the California arm of the noted French Champagne house.
Chandon's Reserve Pinot Noir Brut was the $2 choice that night.  It's not a top-shelf sparkler, but it carries a little more prestige than Tott's.  Made from grapes that are 53% Napa County, 47% Sonoma County, this sparkler figures out to 76% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay and 2% Pinot Meunier.  That's the math.  Now, let's taste.
A pale golden color in the glass, the bubbles are quite fine and plentiful.  A wonderfully funky little nose shows yeasty apples.  The Febreze Factor that afflicts the rest of the hotel is not so prevalent down in the wine cellar.  A creamy palate is no doubt due to the minimum of three years spent on yeast.  Toast and earthy notes prevail, with almonds and custard very faint on the finish.
The wine was a hit with me - so big a hit, I went right upstairs and had a winning session at the blackjack table, finishing $10 up!  That's enough for several more glasses of their nice $2 sparkler.

Monday, August 23, 2010

DILLMAN DELIGHT RIESLING 2007 AT THE M RESORT LOBBY BAR


Dillman Delight Riesling

All the watering holes at the M Resort in Las Vegas go a little heavy on the house brand wines.  There are, however, some good selections available on the wine lists throughout the bars and restaurants of the hotel and casino.
I took a break from the action on the casino floor to visit the M's Lobby Bar for a glass of Dillman Delight Riesling.  Despite the name - which I think sounds like a moonshine from The Dukes Of Hazzard - it's a German Riesling from Bernkastel in the Mosel-saar-ruwer region.  The steeply-sloped vineyards of the region produce some mighty fine Riesling grapes.
The waitress on duty at the nearly empty bar said she likes Dillman Delight because it reminds her of Pinot Grigio.  How ringing that endorsement is depends on your view of Pinot Grigio, I suppose.  After she assured me it was German, I decided to give it a try.  It's $9 per glass.
The Dillman Delight is very pale in color.  I'm told the nose carries tropical and mineral aromas, but the M perfumes their air conditioning, so getting past the Febreze scent was a challenge.  Pear juice comes through nicely on the palate with some citrus and mineral notes and a decent acidity.  There is a trace of petrol that lingers into the short finish, for which I an always grateful in a Riesling.  The waitress didn't seem to share my delight with that petrol emotion.
I tried a few other wines in a few other places while at the M Resort.  I'll be telling you about them in the coming days on this blog.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

SALMON CREEK CELLARS MERLOT 2008


Salmon Creek Merlot

Salmon Creek is one of the 60 or so labels under Fred Franzia’s Bronco Wine Company umbrella.  It would seem Franzia names the labels for his California company by randomly selecting two words: the first word is an adjective, food or animal; the second is a word describing a facet of nature.  In this manner, he would have arrived at names like Almond Creek, Silver Ridge, Foxbrook, Crane Lake, Black Mountain and, of course, Salmon Creek.

I’ve had Salmon Creek wines before, in restaurants.  They - and most of Franzia’s product - are usually the least expensive wines on the menu.  This Merlot was gifted to me by the M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas.  At a rock-bottom price of $5.25 on the internet - and they probably paid less - it’s not the kind of wine I would want to give as a gift.  I have noticed that Las Vegas casinos don’t typically give great bottles of wine as gifts to their customers.  Maybe if our gambling contributions were larger, the wife and I would be on the list for some Gallo!

Sorry about all that peering into the gift Bronco’s mouth.  Let’s taste some cheap wine!

The color is medium ruby red, and I can see right through it.  The nose of ripe cherries and blackberries with a chimney smoke presence is pleasant, if not very commanding.  The taste shows cherry, red plums and a clove note that comes at mid-palate and lingers on the finish.  The tannins are less than spectacular.  The wine is smooth, but not really food friendly due to lack of acidity.  There is a fake-candy sort of quality to this Merlot that does not appeal to me, but might be right up someone else's alley.  The alcohol content is only 12.5% abv.  The grapes, according to the label, are sourced in Sonoma County.

I can’t say this is a good wine, but it’s really not a bad wine, either.  That depends a lot on your point of view, though.  In much the same way that Budweiser beer is drinkable, but not something to get excited about, so this Salmon Creek Merlot is nothing to cause you to pen a letter to the folks back home.  If you are looking for a cheap red wine to chill down on a hot summer day, or use in making sangria, this will do nicely.  If you are looking for a wine that will impress at a dinner party, keep looking.  And look higher up on the shelf.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

BEAULIEU VINEYARD TAPESTRY RESERVE 2005


Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry Reserve 2005

T-Bones Chophouse is the steakhouse in the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas.  It's a wonderful room, nice and sunny in the late afternoon just after opening at 5:00.  I have enjoyed several glasses at the bar, usually while watching a sporting event on which I hoped to make a killing.  The sports are shown on plenty of monitors just over the big, underlit onyx bar - much like the one at Terra Rossa, only with darker tones running through it.

I decided to try the Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry Reserve '05.  It's a big Napa Valley red blend that goes for $14 by the glass.  The wines at T-Bones seemed to be a little pricier than the ones at Terra Rossa, ranging up to $28 for the Silver Oak Cab.  There is also a Sauternes on the T-Bones list, Chateau Rieussec Premier Grand Cru Classe, at $20.

Beaulieu's Tapestry is a blend of Bordeaux varietals: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot.

The nose is immense.  Black cherry dominates the aromas, with some spice and a huge chocolate sensation which comes out after the heat blows off.  This poured fairly hot and required a bit of time to calm down.

The taste is big and rich.  Cherry, baker's chocolate and licorice all play a part.  It's a pretty fabulous wine.  It's so good it almost makes you forget about your team not covering the point spread.  Almost.

Friday, June 25, 2010

BIBI GRAETZ TESTAMATTA CASAMATTA BIANCO 2008


Casamatta Bianca Vermentino 2008

Terra Rossa is the Italian restaurant in the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas.  I always like to stop in for at least a glass of wine when I'm there, as their wine list offers lots of tasty Italian varietal wines.  The food's pretty good, too.

The underlit onyx bar is just past the maitre'd stand in the entrance from the casino floor.  Once inside, it's easy to get a break from the sound of the casino and spend a little of all that cash the slot machines and blackjack tables have been awarding.  (Pause for laughter.)

My most recent visit to Terra Rossa was in the early afternoon.  I seem to remember them opening later, around 5:00, so it was nice to see them open for lunch on Saturday.

I'm a sucker for Vermentino, and when I saw one on the menu, that's all it took to make up my mind.  It's from Bibi Graetz , Testamatta Casamatta Bianco.  A white wine from the Tuscan coast, this is one of Terra Rossa's less expensive wines by the glass at nine dollars.

The nose has bit of ocean air and a wonderful greenness to it, more like a plant than a flower.  There's a hint of petroleum in the aromas, too, which was a surprise.

The taste is heavy on the minerals with a canteloupe note and hint of lime.  Acidity isn't really a factor until the finish, but it does come along nicely there and linger awhile.  It should pair nicely with any kind of seafood.