Thursday, March 29, 2007



I opened a bottle of Murphy-Goode Fume Blanc last night to enjoy with a dinner of grilled shrimp, mashed potatoes and fresh asparagus.
The Fume Blanc from Murphy-Goode is a nice, crisp, light wine that goes wonderfully with seafood. Fume is somewhere between the oaky Chardonnay and the fruity Sauvingnon Blanc. This wine is very dry, with hints of melon, grapefruit and fig.
I purchased the wine at the grocery store for $9.99, marked down from the retail of $11.49. On the Murphy-Goode website it is currently marked down to $9.49, meaning that they are likely getting to the end of the lot.
Dorianne, who is not generally a Fume Blanc fan, said that it was a perfect match for the shrimp. We finished the bottle before the evening was over.
Murphy-Goode is the maker of my favorite Cabernet Sauvingnon. They also make excellent blends, such as Wild Card, an Alexander Valley Claret, and Liar's Dice, a Zinfandel blend.
The Cabernet Sauvingnon is a wonderful wine - the current vintage is the 2003, which holds up well to the excellent 2002. Given a retail price of $24.00, it is a wonderful value, one that I will devote an entry to soon, although it is a bit beyond the price point that I usually write about. (I have found it regularly on sale for $18 and under at Bev-Mo and Pavillions.)
Here's to wine!
The Wine Saver

Wednesday, March 28, 2007



Last night, I decided to get a quick meal before teaching my evening class, so I went to California Pizza Kitchen in Thousand Oaks. I noticed that they have added an EOS Cabernet Sauvingnon to their wine list.

I have seen EOS at Bev-Mo, a discount wine retailer in California and Arizona - usually discounted to around $10.00 per bottle. So I saw the opportunity to try a glass at Pizza Kitchen as good fortune, as I have grown somewhat suspicious of low priced Cabernets.

The wine retails for $14.00 at Bev-Mo, and for $18.00 on the EOS website, making the current Bev-Mo price of $9.99 a real bargain. EOS Winery also has a reserve Cabernet for $32.00. I plan to try the reserve if I can find it, given the quality of the estate Cabernet.

Their website is

I has a glass of the 2004 vintage, the current vintage in general release. EOS winery is located in Paso Robles.

I found it very pleasant, full-bodied with a nice fruit balance. It finished well (I had about half of the glass before my food came, the other half with the food, a carne asada pizza). I think I have found another everyday red wine candidate.

Here are the tasting notes from the website:

Intriguing aromas of cassis, black cherry, boysenberry and toasty oak compliment the rich, dark ruby color of our 2004 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Luscious flavors of ripe plum and blackberry lead to an incredibly long finish with notes of dark chocolate. This full-bodied wine can be enjoyed in its youth, but will improve with careful cellaring.

The wine went well with the pizza - not the purest choice for pairing, but it did complement the beef and the salsa, holding its own against some strongly flavored food.

If you have tried EOS wines, let me know what you think.

The Wine Saver

Monday, March 26, 2007



This weekend, we opened a bottle of La Crema Chardonnay, 2004 vintage, to accompany a grilled chicken dinner with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans sauteed with sun-dried tomatoes and garlic.

The wine was very nice, both crisp and oaky. I am normally not a great fan of oaky Chardonnays, but I did like this one. It was smooth and had nice hints of fruit (pear and citrus).

It went very well with the chicken, and, of course, we had a glass as we cooked the meal as well!

Dorianne liked it - she is a fan of oaky Chardonnays - and noted as she handed me my glass that I would probably like it too.

The bottle retails for $18 - $22. We paid $14.95 on sale. La Crema wines are widely available.

Here are tasting notes from the La Crema website (actually, these notes are about the 2005 vintage):

"Fresh aromas of citrus, butterscotch and lemon peel open to appealing hints of jasmine and nutmeg. On the palate, rich butter cream, pear and citrus meld to create a plush, rounded middle, with toast and caramel adding richness and texture to the long, lingering finish."

The tasting notes from on the 2004 were very similar. The 2005 is probably what you will find in most wine stores now.

A note about the Penfold's Koonunga Hills Shiraz Cab from Friday's post - we finished the bottle on Saturday with some chips and salsa. The wine held up well and continues to be my favorite red for everyday use.

Let me know what you think!

The Wine Saver

Friday, March 23, 2007

My Favorite Everyday Red Wine


My favorite everyday red wine: Penfold's Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet. It is a blend of Shiraz (Syrah) and Cabernet grapes by Penfold's, one of the oldest Australian wineries.
I have been drinking this wine for about 4 years. I enjoy it alone, with cheese, with various red meat dishes and salmon (grilled or cedar planked), and with a medium cigar.
You will likely find either the 2003 or 2004 vintage at your local store. The wine retails for $12 to $13, and can be found on sale for as little as $7.99. Penfolds is a generally available wine, although with their wide range of classes of wines, from super-premiums like their Grange through the lowest level, entitled Rawson's Retreat, no store is likely to have them all. The Koonunga Hills range is just above he Rawson's Retreat in price, and is generally available at wine retailers like grocery stores. I find it a good value, excellent when it is on sale.
Here are the tasting notes on the wine from the site (I happen to agree with them):
2003 vintage: Winemaker comments by Peter Gago
Colour: Dark red.
Nose: Spicy, dark fruit aromas of quince and fig, hints of olive and liquorice, smokey meats and
a gamey overtone. Aromas of dark chocolate and fruitcake develop against a background of
well-mellowed, subtle, yet spicy oak.
Palate: A medium-bodied wine with flavours at release of stewed quince, rhubarb and ripe dark fruits with further black olive notes adding a savoury tone to the finish. The tannins are soft and fine and integrate well with the balanced background spicy oak.
2004 Vintage: Winemaker comments by Peter Gago
Colour: Deep red.
Nose: A complex nose with elements of assorted spices, chocolate and cedary oak - with glimpses of red capsicum, tobacco and pepper. Despite its youth, this is true to an old fashioned Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet nose!
Palate: A balanced wine with a continuum of flavour throughout. The Cabernet Sauvignon
influence is more profound on the palate than the nose with chocolate and mocha flavours
clasping raspberry and blackberry fruits. A rich sweet mid-palate and finish are firmed by ripe,
prominent tannins.
I have served this wine on many occasions to people who know wine and they have all liked it. It is not a wine that will "blow you away," but it is a medium-bodied, somewhat fruity wine with nice hints of other flavors and a nice tannin content.
Check this readily-available wine out and let me know what you think.
The Wine Saver


I have been at least semi-seriously interested in wine for about eight years. I don’t really remember what got me interested, but something did. I mark the point at which I stopped ordering white zinfandel and started ordering Cabernet Sauvignon as the time that I moved to semi-serious status. Since then, I have found all things wine-related to be of interest, from what wine to order at a restaurant, to viticulture, to attending and even hosting wine tastings.

I consume wine most every day, around and during dinner time. I enjoy tasting new wines and have identified a number that I return to time and time again. My preferences run to reds over whites and roses. In a world of wine experts, I would put myself somewhere in the middle of the pack – I do not spend hundreds of dollars for wines or attend the high-end wine auctions, nor do I drink low-end jug wine. I do not know every appellation, every winemaker, and every vintage, but I am aware of many regions, wines, and winemakers in California, Washington State, Australia, Argentina, and France. If I spend $50+ on a bottle of wine (a rare occurrence), I EXPECT it to be very good. When I find a bottle that costs $8 to $12 and it is good, I tend to enjoy it more than the $50+ bottle. Better yet if the $8 to $12 bottle is on sale!

In restaurants, when I purchase wine, I stay in the $40 to $75 range, which means that with the average markup of 200 to 250% that restaurants charge, I am ordering wines that cost $15 to $30 retail. I favor the few restaurants that do not mark up their wine so high. I also may take a bottle of a favorite wine to a restaurant and pay the corkage fee. So I guess you would say that I try to stay at the lower end of the wine cost spectrum – not the very bottom, but just above that level, where there are many, many wonderful wines to be had. I believe in everyday wines and special occasion wines, a status that is determined primarily by price and reputation. I like to cook with wine (always cheap wines) and to savor various wines with various foods.

So this blog will focus on what I know – which means that it will expand as I expand my knowledge. My selfish reason for writing it is that it will lead me to learn and experience more of the world of wine. A more altruistic reason is to give those who are just beginning or are journeymen on the path to wine appreciation some guidance and a place to argue that I have missed the point. The column is also for the casual wine enthusiast who is looking for some good tips and is not necessarily interested in comparing the terroirs of $200 per bottle burgundies.

I have found that wine has the capacity to enrich one’s life. If you enjoy drinking it and can drink it responsibly, you will find that the more knowledge that you have, the more that enjoyment increases.
I moved to California in 2005, and have found a much greater interest in wine than in South Florida, where I lived before. Given the huge California wine industry, this is not surprising. I am enjoying the seemingly endless ways to enjoy and learn about wine in my new home.
Future posts will cover wines that I have enjoyed for some time and some new discoveries. I will also chronicle some tastings and other events. I look forward to your comments as we go along.
The Wine Saver