Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rice Bread aka Panarroz: A great Jumilla at an even better price!

For a couple of years now one of my go to Spanish reds has been the Panarroz Jumilla. The 2006 vintage for me is no exception and brought back all the good thoughts of why I like this wine. Big and bold but still with some balance. You can often find this wine in the $7 to $9 dollar range and for me is worth every penny. Jumilla is a wine region in Southern Spain and is not the type of grapes used. That said the 2006 Panarroz Jumilla consists of Mourvedre, Grenache and Shiraz. For those of you that like California Syrahs or Zinfandels (especially the bigger, slightly spicy ones) should definitely check out this effort from Panarroz. Even after it was open for two days (with a foodsaver vacuum cork), the wine was still very nice....nice.

Vinometer: 4 out of 5 Corks

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Do you know Kim Crawford?

Many of you like myself have probably heard of Kim Crawford and if you haven't maybe you should. This New Zealand winery has been pumping out quality and cost effective white wines for over ten years. The winery was founded in 1996 by Kim and Erica Crawford and have gained a solid following for their clean but well structured Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.

Tonight was the second time I tried the 2006 KC Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and once again it didn't disappoint. On the nose is a strong green apple and wheat grass. Once in the mouth the this wine feels very clean and slightly astringent but not to a harsh or unpleasant degree. The approach and mid-palate are very nice and agreeable but still interesting and the finish is clean but long enough to have you reaching for another sip.

If you have not yet met Kim Crawford (the wine), then I would recommend you make it's acquaintance. At around $13, the Sauvignon Blanc is very nice and paired nicely with grilled chicken, baked potato and especially the cucumber and tomato salad. Yo Kim!!

Vinometer: 4 out of 5 Corks

Sunday, February 17, 2008

V&V Merchant Review: Hi-Times Wine Cellars

Had the the chance to visit Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa yesterday (my second visit ever) and was mostly impressed with the store as a whole. The staff was funny and friendly enough, the location off on a side street near 17th is good as this is a destination store, and the wine cellar was very impressive. Since at Vino and Vistas we deal mostly with wine and travel information I will focus on that but it should be said that the gourmet food, candy, cigar, beer and liquor selection at Hi-Times is really great. The 'wine cellar' itself really is a wine cellar, it is a half basement that has been converted into a very large wine cellar (probably 2,000 sq. ft.) and is organized by both region and varietal. From my observation, the wines from other countries were all stored together with mixed varietals and then the US wines were all sorted by varietal so the Oregon Pinots got to mix with the more expensive (though not necessarily better) California Pinots.

One of the reasons I visited Hi-Times on this occasion is my wife and I had a gift card from our wedding last year (thanks Laura!). It was a $50 gift card and even before I entered the cellar, I was doing little calculations in my head as how best to spend the fifty. First I thought one really outstanding bottle of Napa Cabernet or a mind blowing Shiraz from the Mclaren Vale to enjoy on a special occasion. Then I said to myself, 'hey, we can get 4 nice bottles of wine and the gift will give for several meals and evening'. The moderate in me then agreed upon getting two nice bottles for $25 each. I thought we would get one bottle from a vineyard I was familiar with, in this case the Tobin James James Gang Reserve Paso Robles 2006 Zinfandel (that's a mouthful of a name!). The other bottle I decided would be a Pinot Noir as I have been sampling, reading and hearing about how you can't get a decent Pinot for under $20, and thought the $25 price point would be a great opportunity for a nice Pinot. I ended up selecting the Argyle Willamette Valley 2006 Pinot Noir. As both of these wines are quite young (especially the Zinfandel), we should have plenty of time to decide when and where we will enjoy these.

Overall I would definitely recommend visiting Hi-Times Wine Cellars. They have a great selection of wines, good staff (the cellar staff are reserved and due to the tight quarters of the wood rack lined cellar keep the aisles clear). While I don't think they focus as singularly on wine as The Wine Exchange in Orange they do have a nicer looking and very well stocked cellar, nice tasting area (though we didn't taste) and helpful when asked but not pushy staff. One of the side benefits of this store not catering only to wine fans is it can draw people looking for beer or other liquors into the cellar for a different, more varied and interesting beverage.

Hi Times Wine:

Monday, August 13, 2007

Paso Robles Wine and Carmel Cars

We are heading to Monterey this weekend with family to go to the Monterey Historic Automobile Races and the many auto auctions and shows in Carmel and Monterey. On the way up we plan to stay in Solvang and then stop off at a couple of wineries. I have long wanted to visit Tobin James for their ballistic and intense Zinfandels as well as Robert Hall for their excellent and well priced Cabernet Sauvignons. Anyone else have a can't miss recommendation for wineries in Paso Robles?

If you have never been to the Carmel/Monterey area on this weekend in August and consider yourself a car-buff you need to see the races, auctions and shows offered. Some of the finest, fastest and classic cars in the world will gather this weekend (hey, we can at least dream).

For more information on the auctions, shows and races in Monterey this weekend, please see the following sites:

Race Info:
Monterey Car Auction:
Concours d'Elegance: