Monday, January 28, 2008



At a birthday party for a dear friend on Saturday evening, we were treated to a Cabernet Wine Tasting followed by a delicious dinner featuring two wines from Stafford Premium Wines, of Camarillo, CA. Norm Stafford, the owner, was on hand to pour and talk about his wines and his new venture in blending premium wines.

Now, I need to say at the beginning that all of the wines that we tasted on Saturday, including the Stafford wines, retail for from $30 to $60 and are not what we usually blog about at Wine Saver. But since this was a special occasion, I thought I would take the liberty. Stafford does offer a number of wines for under $25. See their website at

Norm brought a Tempranillo - a truly marvelous wine, balanced, fruity, rich with a nice tannin structure and a great finish. The Stafford was the best version of this classic Spanish grape that I have had. It was, for me, the highlight of the evening. I see that it is not on his website yet, so it must be a new release (if he said that, I did not hear him). The second wine, a blend of Malibu grapes called Humaliwo, was also very nice, but not quite as good as the Tempranillo.

It was a wonderful evening, with eight couples celebrating a special event. The wine was a major factor in the enjoyment, the conviviality, and the connections established. That is the joy of wine - to share with people.

'Till next time,

The Wine Saver

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


This article from says a lot:

Brain Scans Reveal Secret to Tastier Wine: Jack Up the Prices
By Tom Randall

Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The best-tasting wines require perfect weather, seasoned vines, oak barrels and, according to a new study, high price tags.

Volunteers in California who were given sips of wines with fake prices said they preferred the cabernets they thought were more expensive to the ones they thought were cheaper about 80 percent of the time, according to the study published tomorrow in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers scanning the volunteers' brains while they drank confirmed they enjoyed the pricier wines more. The experiment helps explain how marketing practices can influence both the preferences of consumers and the enjoyment registered by their brains, said Antonio Rangel, one of the study's authors.

``The lesson is a very deep one, not only about marketing but about the human experience,'' said Rangel, an associate professor of economics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. ``This study shows that the expectations that we bring to the experience affect the experience itself.''

People who enjoy pricier wines don't have to look far for them. U.S. wine sales, including liquor, at seven major auction houses totaled $208 million in 2007, up 25 percent from the year before and almost double the $106 million in 2005. The top sale of the year sold by Sotheby's was a jeroboam of 1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, equivalent in volume to six standard 750- milliliter bottles, or 4.5 liters (1.2 gallons), which sold for $310,700 in a New York auction.

Twenty volunteers in the study were given five wines on 15 different occasions and asked to rank their preferred vintages. While they drank small sips from long plastic straws, researchers gave them fake prices for the varieties they drank. The wines usually cost $5 to $90 a bottle at stores.
Perceptions of Pleasure Researchers observed brain activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, an area of the brain that's responsible for perceptions of pleasure while listening to music, smelling flowers and tasting wines. Preference shown by the brain patterns were highest for wines with the most-inflated prices.

Before the study began, each of the volunteers said they enjoyed red wine and sometimes drank it. When researchers replicated the study with ``mild experts'' at the Stanford University wine club in California the results were the same, Rangel said.

In a follow-up experiment eight weeks after the original study, patients were given the wines to taste without any suggested prices. Most chose the $5 wine as their favorite, Rangel said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Randall in New York at .

Wednesday, January 9, 2008



Vertical Limit Champagne Storage Rack
Champagne maker Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin commissioned Porsche Design to create this eye-catching storage rack called "Vertical Limit." The 6-feet tall cabinet holds 12 magnums of Clicquot champagnes and keeps them chilled at 12° Celsius - the same climate as the company’s cellar in Reims, France.
Only 15 Vertical Limits were produced. If you want it, it’ll set you back $70,000! Anyone got one of these?
"Till Next Time,
the Wine Saver

Monday, January 7, 2008



Happy New Year!

My friend Steven and I shared a very nice New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on Saturday. We were returning from a memorial service of a friend and colleague who was a wine afficionado - so naturally, we stopped for a toast. We stopped at City Grille on Ventura Blvd at Laurel Canyon Road in LA. We selected the Giesen, which neither of us had tried, from the modest wine list.

The 2006 Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($13.99) has a grassy, lemony nose, and a medium-dry gooseberry/citrus flavor with hints of herb. It went very well with my Manhattan clam chowder and crab cake (a nice imitation of a Maryland crab cake for a California restaurant).

The next day, I saw the 2007 vintage at Whole Foods in Thousand Oaks for $11.99. I recommend this wine with seafood or just with cheese an crackers - I will definately purchase more. What do you think?

'Till Next Time,
The Wine Saver