Introduce Yourself

Snooth User: Really Big Al

Big Al has arrived, but please don't get up...

Posted by Really Big Al, May 4.

Hi everyone.  My wife Sandra and I have been into wine for the past few years and that's led to a few trips to Napa Valley and related areas in 2012 and 2013.  We enjoy all wines but reds are our favorites.  We hosted our first wine tasting party last night and it was a fun event - sixteen wine lovers trying different wines in a blind tasting.  The world of wine sure is exciting!

We belong to several wine clubs and if you ever get a chance to travel to central California we can recommend several.

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Replies

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Reply by napagirl68, May 4.

Welcome, Big Al and Sandra!

Ok, so I am ready to hear about what central CA wines you would like to recommend...

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Reply by outthere, May 4.

What I want to know is where do you live that wine bottles stand perpendicular without falling over?

 

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Reply by dvogler, May 4.

When you're really big, they call you Mister!

Welcome Biggie,  I'm always glad to have more red fans on board.  Could you indulge us with a list of the wines from your blind tasting?  Or a few of the highlights or surprises?

Darren

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Reply by Richard Foxall, May 4.

So much better than the usual Hello Snooth heading.  On the other hand, the one Medlock Ames wine I had (also cab, forget the year), not so much.

Welcome.  Preferring reds leaves a lot of room for variety.  Can we assume Cab based on that bottle, or is it broader than that?

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Reply by JonDerry, May 4.

Ok!

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Reply by Really Big Al, May 5.

Wow, that's a lot of replies in a short amount of time.  Let me start by explaining my user name.  I normally go by 'Big Al', as my oldest sister used to call me that when I was a little guy (early 1960's).  In fact, she used to say, "Big Al, the kitties pal" because I loved cats back then and I still do.  So that name was already used in these forums and I had to choose another one, hence 'Really Big Al'.  I'm only about 150 lbs, so the name doesn't fit my overall dimensions. 

Our wine experience in two trips to Sonoma & Napa can best be summed up in the two web pages I built to help us remember the trips.  Here are the links:  http://www.bigal-computers.net/wine-country.php  & http://www.bigal-computers.net/wine-country-2013.php

Regarding the wine party, I actually didn't write down the names of the wines, only the varietals.  But just for you folks, I went outside on this cold Northern Virginia morning and pulled all of the bottles out of the recycle bin so I could write down their names.  We had three cabs, a pinot, a shiraz, a zin / cab blend, a Greek agiorgitiko, a chardonnay and a riesling; here are the bottles:  Domaine Serene 2011 Chardonnay 'Clos du Soleil', Peter Lehmann 2010 'Portrait' Shiraz Barossa, Coastline 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from Paso Robles, Mirassou 2011 'Sunset Red' Pinot Noir blend, Paraduxx 2009 'Rector Creek Vineyard' red blend, Calliga Rubis Greek red wine (no year), Sterling 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Spellbound 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and a Michie Tavern Virginia Riesling (no year).  Sandra and I provided the Domaine Serene Chardonnay (from the Willamette Valley) and the Paraduxx red blend from Napa Valley.

The picture of that Medlock Ames cab that I included with my post is certainly not the best cabernet sauvignon we've had.  Their winery is located in Alexander Valley CA, and we prefer the cabs in Sonoma or Napa - but Medlock Ames can taste pretty good when you consider their lower price - so we get about a case from them each year now.  Our favorite cabernet sauvignon so far is probably from the Barnett Winery in Napa Valley.  The Repris Winery is really just as good.  Most of the wines we've received from these wineries have been laid down in our basement...er....wine cellar, so I don't have a recent tasting of them to refer to.  I think we have a total of about 250 bottles of wine in our basement at this point.  We are thinking about building a real wine cellar but that is at least a year off.  For now the coolness of our basement will have to do.

Our location is in Northern Virginia, not far from Washington DC.  We used to live in Redondo Beach California, but we both got a job transfer out here in the early 1990's and we have no desire to move back to earthquake country.  We did have a minor earthquake out here a few years ago though...

Lastly, I just retired about 3 months ago.  My wife has another 544 days to go.  This gives me more time to sample some of the wine from our basement...

 

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Reply by Really Big Al, May 5.

Now this is funny.  In my prior reply I was thinking too hard about what my favorite wine has been.  It's early in the morning here on the east coast, so my brain is still in second gear.  It just now occurred to me that the Silver Oak cabs from Napa are my favorite.  I've only had a few bottles since they are so expensive, but I did get a deal once on the Internet using the 'Wines 'Till Sold Out' reseller.  I guess you would call these cabs 'fruit bombs' from the Oregon perspective, but I just love the smooth taste of a Silver Oak cab with a nice rib-eye steak dinner.  It's even better at a place like Morton's Steakhouse, but you'll pay about $400 for a couple to dine there. 

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Reply by dvogler, May 5.

Big Al the Kittie's Pal is already being used on Snooth?!  Get outta here!

Haha.  Thanks for diving into the recycling bin for us.  You'll find that from now on, you'll be taking photos of everything you drink because you'll want to share it with us!   Nice Silver Oak photo too.

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Reply by EMark, May 5.

Let me add my welcome, Al.  You've composed some very interesting posts, above.  I have to say, your wine tasting featured a pretty eclectic mix.

Interesting that you have emigrated from Redondo Beach to VA.  I was born in VA.  Then a lot of moving around happened.  When we met, my wife lived in Torrance, and I lived in Manhattan Beach.  After we married and, then, decided to become landed gentry, it did not take long for us to realize that the South Bay affordability index in no way matched our no-kids-dual-incomes.  So, we bought inland.  Now the nice thing about where we live is that we are on, pretty much, solid rock.  While earthquakes are still exciting and scary, when they hit, we get more of a jolt and not so much rolling which seem to cause a lot the damage.   Now, while I say that, the last one (I was going to link to my Snooth Earthquake posting, but I can't seem to do that with my brand new computer with it's brand new facockta software.  Grrrrr.) was five or six jolts, and, yes there was rolling for a few seconds. 

Please keep us up to date on your wine adventures, Al.  Also, please come back with any questions, you my have.  There is a ton of the "Wisdom of Crowds," here.  Before your next visit to California wine Country, check the archives ("Search the Snooth Forum" box at the upper right of this page) to see recommendations for and reports from previous visits.

 

 

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Reply by Really Big Al, May 5.

EMARK, my wife was born in Torrance.  It's such a small world, isn't it?  We met at Cal State University Northridge in an Engineering class.  She was a music major taking some engineering courses and I was a new engineering student having transferred from an AA degree that was focused on auto mechanics. 

I think it will be a few years before we return to California for more wine tasting.  However, we are signed up for a river cruise along the Rhone river in the Burgundy region of France early next year.  We want to learn more about French wines too, and this cruise stops at several wineries.

Speaking of visiting wineries, we did a tour of South America in February / March this year, soon after I retired.  We arrived a day early and did a tour of two wineries on our own in Chile before the real tour began.  The tour itself included a winery visit so we did 3 winery tours in Chile.  Yes, I have a web site for the pictures of this wonderful vacation:  http://www.bigal-computers.net/South-America-2014.php We ended up touring Chile, Argentina and Brazil.   

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Reply by Richard Foxall, May 5.

Darrin Vogler is about to take the "Snarky in a nice way" title from OT. 

I'm hoping to build a real cellar soon, too, but there are pix of my ad hoc arrangement scattered about here.  Of course, that was when I had 100 bottles fewer.  Yikes.  I do recommend that you use CellarTracker to keep track of things.  I use it in classic mode because I don't really care for some of the "improvements," but the beauty is the simplicity of entering your bottles, removing them, keeping notes so you remember if you liked it enough for a repurchase. 

Safe to say you are outside DC and perhaps work in aerospace or some other govt contracting?  It would explain the transfer of locales, but so would other occupations. My wife just got back from DC and I promised to find out where they serve Mauritson wines back there--but if you know, let's hear it.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the Rhone misses Burgundy, but it does run through the fabulous Rhone region, home of the Northern Rhone (Syrah and Viognier) and the Southern Rhone (blends, mostly).  I think the big rivers in Burgundy are the Saone and the Yonne, while the Loire forms one boundary of the region.  (The Loire--it's everywhere!) Lots of vines and wineries on the Rhone, but my last TGV from Geneva left the side of the Rhone before crossing into Macon at the southern end of Burgundy.

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Reply by dmcker, May 5.

"Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the Rhone misses Burgundy, but it does run through the fabulous Rhone region, home of the Northern Rhone (Syrah and Viognier) and the Southern Rhone (blends, mostly)."

Technically correct, but the Saone, which gives the 'Cote d'Or' its cotes while it runs through Burgundy is really just one of the major feeder tributaries into the Rhone, connecting up after running through Beaujolais as well. There are a number of feeders and offsplits to the Rhone which I consider (yeah, not exactly a famous geographer, but...) part of the same river/drainage system (such as the big/greater and little/lesser Rhones down at the mouth that define that remarkable Camarque district; Lake Geneva is just a fat part of the river, and that part north and east of the lake that feeds into it and is labeled 'Rotten' on the map is in my book just more Rhone). Historically, viticulturally and otherwise it's one of the great river systems of Europe.

 

When searching for a suitable map to post here I ran across an utterly hilarious website that illustrates once again how much barnyard rubbish is to be found around the Net when anyone and his dog and cat and horse and pig can publish. Will try to pull together some 'interesting' quotes from it and post below...

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Reply by Really Big Al, May 5.

Richard:

I did work in the aerospace industry (as a contractor) but I'm now retired.  For what it's worth, I had not heard of Mauritson wines out here, but that Mirassou 2011 'Sunset Red' Pinot Noir blend at our wine tasting party comes from the same location (Healdsburg, CA). 

My wife has developed her own spreadsheet to track our wines in the basement.  We have them organized as to when they are available to consume (by year), rather than by the varietals.  It works for her presently so we won't likely change anything near term. 

For the river cruise next year, we start in Chalon-sur-Saone where we board the river boat.  The next day we we see the wine capital of Burgundy (Beaune) and we do a wine tasting in the city.  We spend the next day in Lyon, followed by Vienne the next day.  The following day we tour Tournon & Viviers and learn about their wine making traditions.  After that we see Aries and finally Avignon for the standard portion of the tour - but we extended it to spend a few days in Nice and the French Riviera.  We'll actually be on both the Saone and Rhone Rivers during this tour, and the Saone River is more of the Burgundy region.  The tour package is called the 'Portraits of Southern France' and it's run by Viking Cruises (based out of Woodland Hills CA no less).

 

Hey, on a more general note, has anyone tried this wine shown in the picture below?  We had it in Oregon during a family dinner, and we liked it so much that we actually found it at a Morton's Steakhouse in Washington DC last year.  This was a very nice cab and at a decent price too.


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Reply by dmcker, May 5.

Ok, here's the site: about-france.com, proffering 'French wines--a short guide'. Maybe you have to be just a little wine-geeky and well interested in French wines to catch the absurdity, but I wonder how many poor souls have been led astray by the very confused writer up to now? Too many people tend to believe published material, even on the Internet, and even when facts and interpretations are blatantly wrong and malformed opinions presented as facts.

Some choice quotes:

  1. "Burgundy also produces some top quality, though not too distinctive, whites."
  2. "In the south of the Burgundy region, bordering the Rhone valley vineyards, a large area round Beaujeu produces a light red wine known as Beaujolais that does not usually keep for very many years"
  3. "Only the most experienced connaisseurs can distinguish a middling Champagne from a good crémant or Vouvray"
  4. "Côtes du Rhône [and the writer basically includes Cote Rotie, Hermitage and C9dP in this 'region'] is one of those French wines that has become famous on account more as a result of the extent of the vineyard than of the quality of the wine.
  5. "The Languedoc region, covering the Mediterranean coastal plain west of the Rhone, produces a lot of fairly ordinary red wine"
  6. "Although there are some excellent wines produced in the large Loire Valley area, there are few Loire wines, whites, rosés or pale reds, that rank among the greatest French wines."
  7. "Provence is a large wine-producing area, best-known for its rosé wines. ... The most famous of the area's white wines is Bandol, celebrated since the middle ages."

Oh, and it lists a 'Medoc' region separate from a 'Bordeaux' region.

It's been up and operating since 2003, apparently. How? Why? I can imagine a few French wine industry or even governmental bureaucrats I know snorting some good red through their noses shouting 'sacrebleu' in unison! 

 
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Reply by dmcker, May 5.

And sorry for the thread-drift, Original Big Al.  I have a tendency to instigate that from time to time. ;-)

Haven't said it yet, so welcome to Snooth!

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Reply by dvogler, May 5.

DM,

Are you sure you didn't stumble across one of the many "For the love of Wine" sites?

Original Big Al, you're a breath of fresh air Pal!

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Reply by outthere, May 5.

I'm getting dizzy looking at your sideways pictures Al. I suffered from the same issue for a while but have since found the cure.

BTW, Mirassou and Mauritson have only 1 thing in common. A Healdsburg address.

Cellartracker is the geekiest way to keep your wine inventory in check. Built in drink by dates, scores, valuations, pictures that are upright ;), tasting notes (over 4,000,000)... And you can upload a spreadsheet to the software. Show you wife, she will love it. http://www.cellartracker.com/

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Reply by Really Big Al, May 6.

OUTTHERE - A quick note on the web sites.  Use Internet Explorer.  All the pictures I've taken with my iPhone and then had to rotate (the profile ones) will show up sideways when you click on the small picture if you are using other browsers like Firefox or Chrome.  Internet Explorer displays the larger picture as I saved it.  I haven't figured out why this happens but just use Internet Explorer and you won't be dizzy no longer!

Thanks for the Healdsburg assessment.  I was just wondering about that.

 

DMCKER - No problem with the thread drift.  I do the same thing in Facebook.

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Reply by dmcker, May 6.

Original Big Al, not true about the browsers. I'm using Firefox, Chrome and Safari, depending on the hour, day and computer. All display properly.

Frankly, IE is finished. Even the boys in Redmond (I know them professionally) don't use it.

I thought OT was joking about you not having finished the bottles, whereby the soldiers could go away and die...  ;-)

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Reply by Really Big Al, May 6.

DMCKER - It is true about the browsers - you just need to click on a small picture that was originally taken in the profile view on my iPhone and Firefox or Chrome will show that picture rotated sideways.  Landscape view pictures were not rotated and hence display properly in all browsers.  All the small pictures display fine so if you don't click on one to get the larger version, there is no issue.  Believe me, I've been frustrated by this ever since I started posting with an iPhone about 2 years ago.  Internet Explorer is the best browser for viewing my web sites associated with http://www.bigal-computers.net

Regarding OT, I think he was referring to bottles falling over due to earthquakes and such.  We've had one minor 'rolling' earthquake out here in the past 23 years and I can handle that kind of action.

Hey, check out this concrete fermentation tank that we saw on our wine tasting / tour of the Veramonte Winery in the Casablanca Valley of Chile.  The fog rolls in on a daily basis in a similar way to the area north of San Francisco (meaning Sonoma County).

 

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