Friday, June 29, 2012

Have A Great Summer

Have A Great Summer!! 

And I'll See You On A Porch In September!! 

The Neighborhood Wine Porch Party has decided to take a couple of months off. We will resume the Wine Blog around the same time Munger Place starts its Fall Porch Parties. In the meantime I will still post wine events that are going on in our area and other wine news as it happens. If you want something posted let me know.  I will be writing for the fall blogs so let me know if there is some wine area you’re interested in me writing about. And I am looking for some people who might want to write guest blogs from time to time. So let me know if you’re interested.  

 One of the primary reasons we started the Munger Place wine blog was to help our neighborhood get the attention and support of the local wine shops, wine bars and wineries. We are now in the process of getting ready for our neighborhood tour which will include a Wine Walk on the Friday night of the tour, September 21.

I am about to approach the area’s wine merchants and ask for their support and help with the Wine Walk. Hopefully they will be willing to donate either wine or money for wine. Gale and I are also going on our yearly trip to the California wine country and we’re hoping to use the wine blog as an incentive to get some of the wineries involved promoting their wine through our blog and the Wine Walk.

Unfortunately while we have lots of readers, only 48 people have taken the time to join the blog and over half of them do not live in Munger Place. 48 members will not impress any of the East Dallas wine merchants let alone any of the California wineries
I really need everyone to go to the blog and join it as soon as possible and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. Remember you do not have to live in Munger Place to join and the more members we get the more clout we’ll have when asking for donations.

You join the blog on the top right hand side where it says “join this site” and just follow the directions that pop up. Also it would be helpful if you would also take the time to follow the blog by email and twitter, however the most important thing you can do is to join the blog and encourage others to do the same.

You reach the blog at or by going to the Munger Place web page and click on blog. 

Have a great summer, enjoy some nice Rosé and I will be blogging again in September!



Friday, June 22, 2012

Red Wines from France’s Southern Rhone Valley... Part Two

More About French Wines From Paul Nicollian!

Red Wines from France’s Southern Rhone Valley... Part Two

In this blog, we will mostly focus on the less glamorous, less expensive appellations because in recent vintages, the quality level of these wines has soared and merit serious attention.

All of the wines that are reviewed are from the 2009 vintage, which is perhaps the best that I have ever tasted at this level. The five wines that are presented were the standouts in the dozen or so offerings that I sampled. In the tasting notes, the designation “Cotes du Rhone Villages” means that the wine is from a specific state approved village (there are around sixteen). The generic label “Cotes du Rhone” is for wines that are not entitled to “village” stature - and comprise the largest acreage under vine in the region.

The wines are discussed roughly in order of my increasing preference, although I’m splitting hairs between wines 2, 3, and 4. The prices quoted are everyday prices, and you can expect them to drop by around 10% if you purchase a (mixed) case. All of the wines were acquired from either Sigel’s (Greenville and Southwestern) or Goody-Goody (Greenville and Phoenix) as noted.

1) The 2009 Galevan – Cotes du Rhone Villages – L’Espirit Devin is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre. Fruit forward with notes of cherries, smoke, vanilla beans, and roses, this is the wine to pick when you want to relax with a nice wine that is easy to drink and doesn’t require much thought to enjoy. Pricing and availability: $18/bottle at Goody-Goody.

2) The 2009 Beaucastel - Cotes du Rhone – Coudoulet de Beaucastel, from one of the great producers of Chateauneuf du Pape, is a blend of 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault. Red and black fruits, kirsch, pepper, leather, and lavender are evident. I suspect that this wine will be even better with a little bottle age. Pricing and availability: $27/bottle at Goody-Goody and Sigel’s.

3) The 2009 Andre Brunel – Cotes du Rhone Villages – Cuvee Sabrine, from another top producer of Chateauneuf du Pape (Les Cailloux), is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre. It possesses blackberry, blueberry, kirsch liqueur, lavender, and earthy characteristics. This wine is a fabulous deal for the price. Pricing and availability: $15/bottle at Sigel’s.

4) The 2009 Andre Brunel – Cotes du Rhone – Cuvee Sommelongue is also from the producer of Les Cailloux Chateauneuf du Pape. It is a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah. I suspect that some tasters will prefer wines 2) and 3) over this one, but what I like most about this offering is that it essentially tastes like it is a baby Chateauneuf du Pape. Notes of cherries, prunes, figs, toasted almonds and leather are apparent. This wine is also an unbelievable deal for the money. Pricing and availability: $15/bottle at Sigel’s.

5) The 2009 Domaine Santa Duc – Gigondas – Cuvee Tradition, from one of the “big-three” Gigondas producers, is an excellent choice for those looking for a “weekend wine”. It is a blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, and the remaining 15% a combination of Syrah and Cinsault. It is packed with blueberries, blackberries, kirsch, licorice, and smoke. Despite the price, make no mistake about it – this is a great value for this quality level of winemaking. The 2009 drinks atypically well young for this estate, as their wines usually require about fifteen years of bottle aging. Allow it to breathe at least thirty minutes before serving – several hours (or even overnight) would be preferable. Pricing and availability: $38/bottle at Sigel’s.




Friday, June 15, 2012

Red Wines from France’s Southern Rhone Valley

I Like French Wine…Really I Do…Really…OK!

I do like French wine, despite the fact that I often tell people who love them that “its swell I tell you, swell.”  It’s definitely not swell; in fact the French make excellent wine. My problem is that they no longer make the greatest wines in the world, but you would never know that from listening to the French or people who love French wines. And that’s the rub!

American wines, especially those from California have consistently won in blind taste test after blind taste test, ever since they beat the French in a blind tasting in 1976. And the “Judgment of Paris” had eleven judges of which nine were French, and only the French judges scores counted! And the 1976 results have been repeated time and again all over the world.  

But I digress! As a wine blogger I needed to have information about French wines, but none of my friends would ever accept anything I wrote about French wines…go figure! 

Enter Paul Nicollian, a friend and neighbor who loves and collects French wines. Paul has been to the French wine regions, is a French wine expert, and loves talking about French wines…boy does he ever love talking about them!

So for the next two weeks…his blog was way too long for just one week…Paul writes about wine from the Southern Rhone Valley of France. I think you'll enjoy what he has to say and along the way, maybe you'll even learn a little about French wines. 

So sit back with a glass of French wine and enjoy the whimsical ramblings of the “Continental”…I mean Paul!  I’m kidding ok,  I’m only kidding!  


Red Wines from France’s Southern Rhone Valley

The sun-drenched wine producing regions of the Provencal southern Rhone Valley, which lie mostly to the north of the walled medieval city of Avignon, are where the Grenache grape reaches its greatest heights on the planet. 

While the better-known Syrah grape fashions the celebrated red wines of the northern Rhone (Hermitage and Cote Rotie), it is relegated to being a blending grape in the hotter south. Although there are at least two dozen legally permitted red wine grapes in the south, the top wines are typically a concoction of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault. 

The star appellation of the south is Chateauneuf du Pape, although the nearby village of Gigondas also churns out fabulous juice. Until recently, even the top wines were underappreciated and therefore underpriced and although this is no longer the case, they still represent some of the world’s best values in fine wine. They are often wines of great richness, power and complexity and are amazingly food friendly. 

This summer, be sure to break out a Rhone Valley red the next time you throw something on the grill. These wines also pair well with roasted meats, wild game, and stews.

The vintages are remarkably consistent in the south. In the thirteen vintages between 1998 and 2010, eleven were excellent to exceptional and only one year (2002) was really bad. The strong track record in this region is due to factors such as the Mediterranean influenced hot dry weather and the strong Mistral winds that blow in from the north that mitigate the effects of rot. 

The perfume of Provencal herbs is everywhere, so it should come as no surprise that the grape skins absorb them and impart notes of lavender, thyme, and rosemary in both the nose and palate. 

Moreover, the Grenache grape provides flavors and scents of kirsch liqueur, black, red, and blue fruits, pepper, and licorice. Syrah adds structure to the wine and can provide additional berry characteristics along with smoke, coffee, and wood. Mourvedre also adds backbone to the wine and introduces an earthy characteristic along with aromas of leather and mushrooms. Cinsault increases the fruitiness of the wine and adds floral and nutty aromatics.

Next week I will mostly focus on the less glamorous, less expensive appellations because in recent vintages, the quality level of these wines has soared and merit serious attention.

Paul Nicollian



Please Add Your Comments Below & Join Our Blog on the Top Right Side of This Page. And You Don’t Have to Live in Munger Place to Join, So Please Join if You’re Enjoying Our Wine Blog!!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Harry’s Carlo Rossi Chili And Kevin's Merlot!

Harry's Carlo Rossi Chili
 & Kevin's Take On Merlot And Trying Different Wines!  

For several weeks I have wanted to do a blog that featured my good friend and neighbor Harry Gibson’s chili recipe. Harry uses wine in his chili so it fits right into my blog. But more important, Harry’s chili is really good…in fact, it almost melts in your mouth! But the problem I faced was working it into a blog.

Well, this week, things didn’t work out for me to really concentrate on writing about wine, so Harry’s chili recipe works well to cover the space with a really great alternative that should prove not only delicious, but also fun to cook, especially if you drink wine while making it. 

Now Harry uses Carlo Rossi wine in his chili because that’s what he drinks, and from my point of view, it works real well. However for you wine snobs…I mean connoisseurs,  you can use whatever red wine you like to drink, and you might like drinking the wine more as you make the chili! So drink up and have fun!! 

I also needed a little extra to fill out the blog this week and Kevin Rogers had sent me a piece on merlot and trying different types of wine. It was too short for a blog on its own, but fits nicely with Harry’s chili recipe. So here’s Harry’s Carlo Rossi Chili and Kevin's Take On Merlot And Trying Different Wines!   


Great Chili Harry!!
Harry’s Carlo Rossi Chili


2 lbs. lean Stew meat
3 oz. Chili powder
1 15 oz. Tomato Sauce
1 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Cumin
1 cup Onions Diced
1 Clove Garlic Diced

Cover the stew meat generously with Carlo Rossi Cabernet or Merlot wine using a large steel pan and marinate overnight.  Then move the meat to a large chili pot and reserve the wine left in the marinate pan. Add oil to the chili pot depending on how lean the meat is and brown the meat thoroughly, stirring frequently. When the meat is ready, add the reserve wine and tomato sauce and simmer one or two hours adding more wine or water as needed. Bring to a boil and add the rest of the makings. If the chili is too tight, add water, if too loose, add flour. Then simmer one or two more hours stirring frequently.    

This recipe is best if you drink wine while preparing it and the chili is even better the next day while you drink more wine!   


Kevin's Take on Merlot & Different Wines!!  

Don't be one of these people who drink only one wine varietal (like I used to in my 20's). I started with Merlot and developed such a narrow band of taste preference that any other wine varietal was simply something that did not taste like Merlot, i.e. taste "right". 

All wines are pleasing or they would not be produced and sold. Sauvignon Blanc is a wine grape with a distinct taste that must be acquired, and that means forcing it down a few times before your senses come together and recognize the strong smell, and the burn on your tongue as a positive experience.

For me it was hard to deviate from Merlot which really is the most impressive Grape varietal (in that it can sell for $3000 dollars a bottle). No other wine can make that price point (unless it somehow becomes a rare collectable).  The movie Sideways alludes to the public’s habit of ordering Merlot as a reflex, and yes it's good, but all the grape varietals are good. Now go drink something you never considered, and discover its qualities / develop a taste for something new. I will do the same; and so expect to see me with a glass of Rosé at one of our porch parties. 

Thanks Kevin!


The Neighborhood Wine Porch Party!

See You At The Fall Porch Parties!

Please Add Your Comments Below & Join Our Blog on the Top Right Side of This Page. And You Don’t Have to Live in Munger Place to Join, So Please Join if You’re Enjoying Our Wine Blog!!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Lake County...The Lake And It's Wineries!

A Beautiful Lake With A County Around It!!!

Clear Lake From The Mountain!
Lake County above Napa has a very laid back personality! You can get there from Napa or you can cross over a mountain from Mendocino. Coming from Mendocino gives you a view of the whole county and basically all you see is the lake. Clear Lake is the largest natural lake in California, and when you first see it, you're not sure where they could possibly grow grapes! 

But grow grapes they do and they do it well because their wines are excellent, which is why it's one of California's hottest new wine destinations!

We came over on highway 175 from Mendocino County and the mountain road had great views, especially of the lake! Our primary goal was to visit the Six Sigma winery whose owner we had met at a Kansas wine tasting...don’t ask! But along the way we stopped at some wonderful wineries and tasting rooms. And we tasted some great wines!   

Steele Wines…Worth Looking For!    
From highway 175 we turned on highway 29 in search of wineries. In Napa 29 is the highway from Hell, but in Lake County, the traffic isn't bad and there are some great wineries along the road.  The Steele Winery, just off of 29, produces wines under the Steele, Writer's Block, Shooting Star and the Steele Stymie labels. Steele's wines are available in Texas and throughout the US. Take the time to look for them, you’ll be impressed, especially since they are fairly inexpensive for the quality.  

Vineyards & Cave! WOW!!  
Moore Family...Great View & Great Wines!  
Our next winery was the Moore Family Vineyards. It’s a little off the beaten path on Bottle Rock Road, but well worth the trip for the view as much as the wine, and their wines are really nice! The winery and vineyards are on the mountain with a wooded landscape. The winery itself has a wine cave in the side of the mountain with a terraced vineyard leading up to the cave, the tasting room overlooks the vineyards. It's all very cool looking! 
Gregory Graham Winery A Must Stop!!
The Gregory Graham Winery was our next stop, right off highway 29 on Point Lakeview Road. We had the opportunity to meet Gregory Graham who not only poured our wines, but he also gave us a tour of the winery and the vineyards. Hard to beat that for hands-on service! Gregory has over 25 years’ experience producing award winning wines for wineries like Rombauer Vineyards in Napa. He’s now growing his own grapes and producing his own wines. Gregory’s skill as a wine maker definatly makes this winery a must stop in Lake County.

Six Sigma Ranch and Vineyards was our objective and we were finally on our way! It’s located off highway 29 on Spruce Grove Rd. This part of the county is toward Napa and it's a hilly wooded area and a beautiful drive, especially when you’re on Spruce Grove. 

Six Sigma...Great Wines & Great Hospitality! 
We called ahead and winery owner’s Kaj and Else Ahlmann and their son Christian were awaiting our arrival. The winery and vineyards are surrounded by the beautiful wooded ranch which was fun to drive through and experience. The Ahlmann family met us on the porch of their tasting room and when we walked inside, their wines were all in a row, ready for our tasting.  

A Sustainable Organic & Holistic Winery!   
Six Sigma is a sustainable organic winery with a holistic approach to its vineyards, using livestock to manage the ground while avoiding pesticides and herbicides. While this approach is increasingly being used in California, no one does it better. And their efforts are paying off with some truly wonderful wines. Add the Ahlmann’s warm, friendly hospitality, and you could not ask for a better winery to visit or wines to drink! 

Stop At Tulip Hill!
We reluctantly left Six Sigma for the far end of the lake and dinner. On the way we stopped at Tulip Hill Winery which is right off 29 on Bartlett Springs. The tasting room is close to the Lake, but we found that their wines were close to our heart! Better yet they had a wine sale and I bought a case, and ordered several more when I got home. So if you go to Lake County, make sure to stop at Tulip Hill. 

Last Stop For Wine!
Blue Wing For Dinner!
That night we had a final tasting at the Lake County Wine Studio before having dinner at the Blue Wing Saloon and Café, in Upper Lake California. It was than time to head back to Mendocino, but since Brother-in-law/ designated wine trip driver Joe, had a couple at dinner, we decided to take Highway 20 back, its much larger and safer than the mountain highway. 

This was a really cool trip. We met some great people and tasted some very nice wines in a beautiful, friendly, relaxing atmosphere. What more can you ask from a wine region? Lake County was everything we hoped for in a wine trip and much more! 


The Neighborhood Wine Porch Party! 

Please Add Your Comments Below & Join Our Blog on the Top Right Side of This Page. And You Don’t Have to Live in Munger Place to Join, So Please Join if You’re Enjoying Our Wine Blog!!!