for April, 2009

April 24, 2009 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Super-Tuscan Land, Home of the Anti-D.O.C. Coalition, Confusing to Honest Italians

O2JFa3rEgmoxuaeeMYcoSCJho1_500Tasting the 2005 Le Cupole Trinoro was as they say in the deep north of Italy, Multo Benissimissimo!

A quick google search (which desperately wanted to correct me and have me search for La Coupole, one of old Hemingway’s hubs) yielded these tasting notes:

Medium ruby in color. Smooth, supple nose of dried currants and plums. Lovely, velvety mouth feel, with sweet, dark, concentrated notes of baked stone fruit and caramel. Gentle, refined tannins, with a moderate, modern finish. Became sweeter and even more caramelly over the course of two hours.

A terrific mid-grade wine, a poster child Super Tuscan. International-style and ready to drink now, but also true to its Italian roots, with plenty of structure. A lot of versatility too: this could flatter a pasta or meat dish, but it could step up and be the star as well. Easy to drink, but wine nerds will love it too.

First, one must understand the Super Tuscan. The term “Super Tuscan” describes any Tuscan red wine that does not adhere to traditional blending laws for the region. For example, Chianti Classico wines are made from a blend of grapes with Sangiovese as the dominant varietal in the blend. Super Tuscans often use other grapes, especially cabernet sauvignon, making them ineligible for DOC(G) classification under the traditional rules. <—- (Thanks Wiki-Wine-ea).

Look: I’m going to be honest. The Super Tuscan is simply table wine. However, who in google earth is going to pay $45-$300 for a table wine? A vin-de-pay? I think not! No true New York house wife would dare bring home a nightly $79 table wine, and neither should you. So bring home a Super Tuscan and call it a Super Tuscan all night long:

“So, my love, how is the Super Tuscan?” asks Tom.

“It is painstakingly marvelous, this Super Tuscan” says Daisy.

“If you had to choose between me and the Super Tuscan, which would you choose? Keep in mind that I am Sicilian” said Tom.

“Say, Nick why don’t we open the whiskey. Nick? Nick? Nick?” said Gatsby.

I have listed below my own tasting notes for your oenological pleasure:

Medium to midsized ruby-red-indigo in color. Smooth, supple breasts succulent odor receptive neurotransmitter of dried apricots, blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, strawberry, carbon monoxide currants and figish datish plumsimmon (cross between plum and parsimmon). Lovely, velvety, liquidy mouth feel, with sweet&sour, darkish grey concentrated notes of baked stones, shoelaces, down, iron railings, chewed gum, french vocabulary, paperweight, fruit and vanilla-caramel. Gentile, refined tannins, with a moderate, modern afterthought such as: Did I forget to pay my student loans again this month? Equally impressive bouquet that inspired a new Neil Diamond song in the back palate every sip, and thankfullly there are many Neil Diamond songs because there were many sips. Became sweeter and even more sweeter over the course of three days.

April 24, 2009 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Defining an Oenological Profession and It’s Language


In wine there is the Connoisseur.

For the Connoisseur there is the Rating System.

Together they are: the C.R.S. (Connoisseur Rating System)

Manifesto on the C.R.S.

In defining the wine Connoisseur we must understand his basic needs:

  • Wine (Perhaps not so obvious to the nay-sayer and remaining prohibitionists with grudges the size of Jeroboams)
  • Vessels from which to drink the wine, e.g. Glasses, bowls, tubs, barrells.
  • Rich vocabulary and metaphorical sense of Language

We may now define the Connoisseur. The Connoisseur is a seeker of wine, the end-product of a long labor of liquid love, who is in possession of state-of-the-art drinking apparati and replete with a barrage of descriptive words, ideas, places, and metaphysics often employing a heinous juxtaposition of such devices. (An uninterrupted cash-flow is helpful in the absolute sense of the definition).

In defining the Rating System we must understand these basic principles:

  • Fruit
  • Minerals
  • Acidity
  • Alcohol
  • Structure
  • Color
  • Vocabulary

We may now define the Rating System which will be employed herein throughout. The Rating System will henceforth be referred to as the C.R.S. (Connoisseur Rating System). To accurately determine whether a wine will be rated with the CRS system, please look for these words in this order: “CRS Rating.” The CRS Rating system, or CRS Point System, otherwise known as the CRS Wine Buying Criteria, occasionally referred to as the CRS Point System and Rating Guide will employ the use of descriptors and non-descriptors, vocabulary and imperatives, imagery and metaphor with the following numerical point system:

Wines will be rated, or scored on a scale from -350 to Infinity, where “-350” represents the score of a liquid unfit to be deemed a “wine” or even a “liquid” for that matter. A score of “Infinity” shall represent a wine of outstanding character having scored rather well in all matters of the CRS Rating system.

Descriptors shall be employed with occasional abbreviations, e.g., D.B.O. (Dense Blueberry Overtones) and G.T.T. (Graphically Textured Tannin) as well as H.O.C.F. (Hints of Carbon Footprints).  (Generally all descriptors will be employed in the full and unabbreviated sense of the word or words).

To Recap — The CRS Rating System in a nutshell:

  • Wines scored from: -350 to Infinity
  • Wines descriptors: Full and Abbreviated words
  • Suggestions for Drinking or Storing: O.K. (Drink Now), N.O.K (Drink Later), X.X.X. (Do Not Drink Ever)

As we continue this journey together, Wine Connoisseur-a-Wine Connoisseur I look forward to drinking, delighting, and helping you choose the wine that is right for you or for someone you may or may not know.

April 20, 2009 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Goodbye Blue Monday Morning Blues with Red, White, and Rose


Surely, the appeal of a Concha y Toro wine, the wonderment, the possibility that something extraoridinary will fill your glass, raised high in the air toasting the impossible dream, windmills flittering in the distance… has taken you for a ride at one time or another in your life, or rather me for a ride in my life.

Right: looking forward to an evening of easy and thoughtless wine indulgment, this 2005 Marques de Casa Concha Merlot D.O. Puemo Chile had this to impart to my pallet:

.:Tasting Notes:.



Black Currant

Dish Liquid

Carbon Emmisions

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Acrid Awful Bitter Backwater

Heedless to say, the experience was less than or equal to satisfying. The color was certainly dark and mysterious, especially as it wistfully gurgled down the kitchen sink drain. Did I mention this fabo wine set me back $17.99? Alas, I’ve lived, I’ve learned.

April 20, 2009 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi



I have now officially purchased my first “case” of wine. Sort of. From Cabrini Wines in Manhattan I have now pruchased 12 bottles (in two shipments). The first shipment was 6 bottles of Robert Foley’s 2005 Merlot. The second shipment came just a few days ago and included:

1  Jayer-Gilles Echezeaux du Dessus Grand Cru-2004
3  Vini Menhir N° 0 Negroamaro-2006
1  Woodhouse Darighe-2001
1  Tenuta di Trinoro le Cupole Toscana Rosso-2005

I’m not supposed to drink the Jayer-Gilles until 2014, however have reasoned out a fabulously reasonable excuse for drinking now, instead of later. To all those connoiseurs who feel the necessity to hold onto wine, take heed:

The year 2004 ran its cycle five years ago. This wine is five years old, therefore. Therefore, like a child, a wine of five will act similarly to a child of say 10, 11, or 12. The child will not be driving nor holding down a job. Neither shall nor should the wine. The child will not taste radically different at age 10 as opposed to age five, say for except for say the child may have a “cleaner” taste, or less “tanic” bite. The child will certainly begin to ripen at age 10, however at age 5 the child is fairly ripe and saucy. And, you’ll often hear that a wine will “mellow with age” or will “soften with age” and I must ask, is a “mellow, soft” wine truly what the connoisseur is after? When the connoisseur looks to purchase his first vehicle, are “soft” and “mellow” two words that come to mind?

I am nearly ravenous now with circumspect. Therefore a manifesto is in need of manifesting. I will, in the next article, define the wine connoisseur and establish a radical system of rating wine; one we can all understand, all of us whose noses are not nearly insured for nearly a million or so american denaro.

April 2, 2009 2 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Fooled by Foley


Robert Foley Vineyards 2005 Merlot

Two days ago I uncorked a 2005 Robert Foley Merlot. To mine shock and horror, the wine was not the smooth, silky, chocolaty nectar that I was anticipating – and I have come to revere this wine as a wine among wines, i.e. high on the mountaintop! Instead, in it’s place, swirling around my glass was a cantankerous, nefarious liquid, dusty and insipid with moldy carpet-like aromatics and an astringency that might have disinfected Spanish Harlem. I thought, perhaps, it is my glass! Perhaps there was some residue in the glass that is ruining my beautiful wine. Another clean and residue-free glass yielded the same life-flailing results. Perhaps by decanting the wine, I thought, this spell would pass, and still, an hour later, like a constant spitting of rain in the Scottish stratosphere, this wine spit snake venom at the receptors in my nose. Now let’s backtrack a moment…

I had purchased six bottles from Cabrini Liquors, online. Their store is located on 181st street and Cabrini Boulevard in Manhattan. The wines were shipped to me in February. The first two bottles I drank were as vibrant as a restless four-year, but a four-year-old in a double-breasted vest and wingtips.

What had happened? What scuffed the wing-tips and knarled the penache? The wines lay on their side in the coolest part of my apartment – due to the lack of “wine cellar” or “wine fridge” (and I’m working on changing that). The apartment is carpeted and when I first smelled the acrid Merlot I assumed it was somehow the carpet’s fault, and if it weren’t for my fiancée who is rational when I hath no rational, I would have torn the carpet to shreds and cursed out my landlord below for not installing a temperature-controlled room in our three-room apartment. Alas. After returning the wine to bottle from decanter, I stopped the bottles with rubber stoppers and sucked out any remaining air. I called Cabrini and arranged to bring the wine back on Monday evening, two days out.

The treck to Cabrini was a good hour-long subway ride, and in New York City the subway presents a good opportunity to catch up on reading. I brought along the last five New Yorkers. I read about the Madoff Ponzi scheme. I got angry for all the people that were swindled. I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to accuse someone… of something. I was prepared to accuse the good people at Cabrini of trying to put one over on me… I mean, they’re in the Bronx!

To my surprise, the store was an unexpected playground of rare and fine wines all priced well-below market-value, or at least, New York City Market Value. I was greeted by Damian, Cabrini’s wine-director. He led me to the “office” where dozens and dozens of bottles lay recently opened for tasting (they were planning a big event and had to “familiarize” themselves with the wines – tough job). After a brief introduction I retrieved my four bottles of remaining Foley Merlot, two unopened, two vacuum packed. We poured them into four glasses and I, Keith the photographer, Rami the blogger, and Damian the Director tasted:

“These wines are not corked,” said Rami, through perfectly aligned purple-stained teeth. “Very, very tight for a California Merlot,” said Damian. And by Jove, the bastards were right. What had happened in the course of the wine’s two day sleep-over in my refrigerator? I say “them” because I had opened a second bottle immediately following the first and experienced the same gag-reflex. Two wines in a row! How? Why? What had I done to the good Sheppard Bacchus? Damian explained that the wine is complex, alive, and as a small production can vary greatly in terms of bottling from barrel to barrel and bottle to bottle. The wine needed to decant. Well, I had decanted it, I reminded the three incredulous winos! Strange… strange. We’ll never know. But the fact remained that one bottle was slightly corked, while the other was tight, but that probably had something to do with the fact that it had been opened, decanted, re-bottled, refrigerated, transported, and then re-opened in 48 hours and still tasted pretty damn good.

“Where do you store you glasses?” Asked Damian.

Christ. That was it. Never occurred to me: my glasses hung, upside down in my kitchen, not far from my stove. All the days and weeks of cooking – and I cook a lot – all the aromas, wedging themselves in the microscopic pours of my glassware – and hence, affecting the wine. It made sense. The Merlot was great in the glasses from Cabrini – and again, a true testament to Foley, because of the trauma I put the wine through over the last 48 hours. And, come to think of it, recently, every wine I had been drinking tasted the same and seemed a tad on the volatile side. Well…

Wine is a living, breathing creature and reacts to its environment. So good people, sterilize those glasses and for heaven’s sake, even if they look nice, don’t hang them upside down on a rack in your kitchen. Same goes for ordering wine at a bar – if you see them storing their glasses as such – stick to beer.

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