Archive for the ‘Recommended’ Category

     My goodness! Has it been over a whole year since mt last posting?!  I suppose it was inevitable that some reviews have been delayed; I’ve graduated from Interior Design School at the top of my class with a 4.0027GPA as president of Dakota County Technical College’s chapter of  the international honor society Phi Theta Kappa.  I have also been working for a major liquor store chain in the Greater Minneapolis Area as a Wine Educator and Social Media Liaison. One significant achievement I can truly highlight is my success at being the wine coordinator for the marriage of a high-profile couple here in the Twin Cities – by communicating with both the couple and the chef, the chef and I were able to come up with six dramatic courses pairing his creations with wines from around the world to the delight of all the guests.

     Riondo-bluAnother great success was the relaunching and re-branding of a floundering store in this chain suffering from poor online reviews and lack of exposure to the online- and indeed wine-savvy clientele.  Sales have increased almost three-fold since the beginning of 2014 and I take great pride in being the face of wine knowledge.

     Now, I have secured a position at a major retail chain specializing in home accessories, furniture, and interior design services.  I begin my new career there at the beginning of October.  To celebrate, I am offering the following review of a most yummy sparkling wine from the northern Italian region of Prosecco:  Blu – managed by the North American firm Riondo…

     From start to finish, this luscious sparkling wine is delicate and ethereal.  The nose is of apple, peach, and subtle floral notes.  The mousse is plentiful and mouth-filling leading to a refined elegance of melon to linger medium-long upon the palate.

     Guests at our tasting station at the wine boutique have been snapping up bottle after bottle to celebrate life’s victories both large and small.  This vino pairs beautifully with every course of your light-focused menu.  Crab puff amuse-bouche, Caesar salad with shrimp and anchovies salad course, seared scallops in a butter cream sauce appetizer, chicken picatta with caper berries and haricot verts entrèe, and even a Tahitian Vanilla-laced creamy creme brulèe for dessert!   Find it at your local wine purveyor in 187ml, 750ml, and 1.75L sizes and enjoy chilled.   I love to float raspberries or raisins in this delectable sparkler and watch my guests’ surprise to see these fruits rise and fall as the bubbles lift them up then settle them back down in a Galileo-type thermometric action.   This vino is further proof that sparkling wine is NOT just for New Years Eve! Pop it open tonight and ENJOY




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kopke-tawny20This has to be one the more challenging reviews I’ve composed in a while.  I have so much I’d like to say about this porto…

Douro is a viticultural region almost perfectly centered in Portugal.  The region is named after this wine’s producer – in continuous operation since 1638(!). Exports began to Holland, and from Holland to the UK around 1680.  The Wikipedia entry for “Port Wine” is very educational as most fortified wines in this style can be called ‘port’. (Unlike the Champagne Region of France that controls the appellation for its sparkling wine, no such luck with these Portuguese fortifieds.) HOWEVER – “Oporto” and “Porto” are typically names reserved for wines originating from Portugal(1).

Bottled in 2011, this Porto is a blend of wines matured in wood whose average age is approximately 20 years(2).  Single-vintage ports are another exciting adventure altogether…

With a color of bruleéd sugar on that creamy dessert, and a nose of dried dates and maple essence, I was content to swirl, sniff, and admire.  The mouthfeel is indeed richer than your typical red wine, but from other ports I’ve had, this is a wee bit but not unpleasantly thinner.  The 20% alc/vol balances the sweetness but can be a bit ‘hot’ on the tongue if you’re not expecting it. Forward palate is of spiced caramel, finish is nutty with a hint of citrus in the back of the nose as the alcohol vapors waft away.

We compared the flavor profile of this port over several nights with Bleu and Gorgonzola Cheeses, Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, a Romeo e Julietta cigar, and an English Cavendish pipe tobacco.  VASTLY different interactions with all of them but my favorite was the Dark Chocolate – its bitterness offset by the porto’s sweetness and turning the mouthful into a velvety experience.

Purchased at Sunfish Cellars, Lilydale, MN. ~$45.00 @ 375ml.



(1) Wikipedia: Port Wine (referenced 13Aug2013, entry last edited 30Jun2013)

(2)WineWorth Importers  Copyright © 2007-2013, Wineworth LLC

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Things are going well here in Minnesota as I celebrate my one year anniversary. School is starting up again in a couple weeks and I hope to maintain the part-time job I landed for the summer.  Concurrent to my studies, I am working as an Interior Design Assistant at a retailer of home accessories.  Interacting with clients, educating them as best I can in the art of effective home design and trying to make a place for myself with this wonderful local company.

I am still surprised at the tremendous disparity in the pricing of wine(s) between Canada and the USA; even regionally within both countries, there is a huge range of factors that determine the final sticker shock. In Ontario this bottle runs ~$16; in Manitoba ~$18, Minneapolis ~10, San Francisco ~$7, various wine shops in Paris ~€3.

Southeastern France, as we all know, is a huge producer of all sorts of vinos.  The Perrin Family owns Chateau Beaucastel, sources its grapes from many small local vineyards, and is one of the premier cellarers of Chateauneuf-de-Pape.  I have yet to sample a CdP so as soon as I am lucky enough to try one, you can bet there will be a posting about THAT!!!

This vino displays a rich garnet color in the glass and decent density of berry freshness on the nose.  The forward palate is ripe and round with strawberry and structured earthiness while on the back-note, there are hints of spice and tobacco smoke.  Finishing with a moderate length, the alcohol becomes rather evident as you swallow.

Not too bad, remarkably consistent versus previous vintages. It is mostly Garnacha/Grenache blended with Syrah and character-adjusted with various other regionally approved varieties.  Pairs well with everyday foods such as hamburgers, meat-topped pizza, and even a grilled NY Strip!




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Traditional method bubbles are getting more affordable these days.  When you stumble upon one that you’ve never heard of before, don’t search for an excuse to save it for a special occasion. Chill it and have it tonight.  You don’t even have to pair it with anything!  Well, when I say affordable, most budget to moderately-priced bottles (under $25) are fair game.

I’ve written about bubbles in the past: how they’re made, whats in them, etc. Some are tasty, others not so much.  How do I decide which ones to buy that I’ve never seen before?  *shrug   The label is typically no help, the dark-colored thick glass makes it impossible to see the wine…  The only senses left are taste and smell and we can’t do that if the vino is trapped in the bottle.

The wine is lightly yellow in color and the soft mousse has a curiously subtle green tinge.  Oranges, light spices and soft hints of yeast make for a pretty complex aroma. Mouth-feel is slightly sweet and the fizz is bright. Palate is fresh, tangy and more than a little complex with layers of grain drifting to the back of the nose.  The finish has a faint sourness but the yeast essence makes up for that.

I think I’ll give this a recommendation if you can find it.  Even then, its not overly rare, so expect a  price tag of ~$20/btl.

There’s no special day like today.  Cheers!



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4 cheers for me! Not 3 cheers, 4 cheers!  This is to toast my 4.0GPA after eight months of dedicated nostrils to the textbooks.  If i can keep my brain sharp over the summer by practicing on the software learned, sketching daily, and trying to get the jump on the material for Term 3 in September, fingers crossed I will succeed.

I have been tasting vino, cooking with vino, sharing vino experiences with friends and discovering many new vinos in the huge wine markets here in Minneapolis – more  than ever available at the LCBO’s largest stores in Ontario.

Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha 2007 is on the very edge of its cellarability and many retailers are trying to clear out old inventory.  This dusty bottle was discovered at Haskell’s in Apple Valley for ~$12.00USD.  Experience tells me this Spanish vino will be big.  Really rich and spicy on the nose but medium on the palate.

About an hour before dinner, I popped this baby open; just in case it needed decanting. Deep dark purple with slow thick legs! Jeepers!! This stuff is potent at 14.5% alc/vol! Rich nose of licorice, black fruits and a lingering whiff of cedar.  The mouth-feel is indeed medium and a little fiery as that alcohol stings the tongue a bit; tannic weight is medium too, so there’s not much puckeriness from that.  Swallow is smooth and slick leaving a moderate finish of chocolate and pepper.   I like it just as it is and it will pair perfectly with dinner, but i WILL decant to mellow out some of the alcohol’s sharpness…

We’ve scored some elk sausages so we’ll be grilling them up and topping them with tomato sauce (roma tomatoes, shallots, garlic and day-old baguette whizzed up in the food processor with a little (a lot) olive oil).  Elk is typically VERY lean, but with these sausages, there’s enough fat to keep the moisture content high.  Grilled just until the juices run clear then let to rest  five or so minutes.

The decanted Garnacha poured out into my now-favorite stemless glasses and passed around the table.  YUM!!!  Soft and mellow in the mouth without that harsh zing of alcohol, cleansing acidity against the sausage fat and tomato sauce.  Awesome.




**images credit:  “Haskell’s, The Wine People”  Reposted and linked in good faith.  Image is not the property of and is reposted under fair-use provisions for product review and critique.

Its Spring Break! Yay!!  So far, this term’s course load has been significantly more intense over last term.  Projects have been large and involved and each one included a verbal presentation in from of the class and in one case, before an actual client. Mid-term exams have been completed and a couple have been exceptionally challenging.  Hopefully the poor performance on one exam is balanced with the rest of the work so i can maintain my 4.0 GPA.

Along side this challenging schoolwork comes the unfortunate crashing of my computer.  Although i DO have backups of all my significant files, some of the instances are a little out of date with the ones that were lost. Sadly, this includes my wine diary.  The last entry that made it to this blog’s backup was the previous one I posted.  Everything since then – some 17 exceptional bottles of vinos’ notes lost. =[  What I did salvage from hand-written notes a scrap of napkin in my desk drawer was this note on:

Konzelmann Unoaked Chardonnay 2008:  Pineapple, tropical fruit and apple feel decently crisp. The mouth-feel is well-textured and smooth. The finish is light with white peach flavours and a solid citrus acidity. I didn’t make note of what we paired with it, but i can certainly see this beside a cajun-style blackened fish.

So this finishes my current collection of tasting notes.  No more Ontario vino for a while, sadly.  I’m not sure when i’ll have a chance to compose another entry, so do follow me on Twitter @thevinoboy.  I hope to get some ‘on-the-road’ tasting notes posted there as i’m sipping.  Should a bottle of note happen my way and i have a moment to write something more official up here, do come back and have a read.

Now, its a week off and a trip to Hawaii for nothing but R&R.



Wow!  I can’t believe seventeen weeks has elapsed ALREADY!!!  I am very proud to declare my first term of design school complete and thanks to hard work, focus and the exclusion of all else, my GPA is 3.75; a good solid ‘A’.  Now that I have three weeks off until the start of the next term (two weeks actually as i’ll be celebrating NYE on the beach in the Bahamas…), i have time to FINALLY update this vinoblog.

As you may be very much aware, I consider myself much more of a red boy than a white boy and actively search for barrel-aged reds.  Why?  Barrel aging imparts much more depth in the overall finished product and enhances the varietal qualities of the grape.  Shiraz especially.

Characteristic aromas of black pepper and clove are most prevalent on the nose as I swirl this medium ruby vino in my new ‘stemless’ Riedel Syrah/Shiraz glass. (STEMLESS?!?!! But you’ve always maintained that the hand warms the wine too quickly and destroys the flavour!) My behaviours in wine tasting have evolved over these last several months and its sunken into my thick skull that the glass doesn’t have to be filled to the upward taper all at once.  Greater enjoyment of the vino in smaller amounts is much more a rewarding vino experience than gulping a full portion.  I LOVE my stemless shiraz glasses!!!

True to the grape, this shiraz is succulently dry on the palate with soft plummy tannins and that yummy pepperiness resonating throughout.  The finish is looooooooooooooooong indeed with a subtle sweetness that echoes the barrel aging.  As an aside note, this bottle was purchased some time in May of this year and has been laying in my new cellar since I moved.  This short of a cellaring after release may not have had any affect on the wine.  As it was totally delicious, I’m not going to complain that its taken me this long to get at it!!

Now that I’m in Minnesota, finding Ontario wine is next to impossible so I’ll be consuming my last bottle of Ontario vino over the weekend.  Look forward to the fourth and final installment of the Konzelmann Estates series very soon.

This barrel aged shiraz is going to be missed, though i’m sure you’ll find it at your favorite LCBO.




image credit – ME!  I snapped the image with my LG Android phone, fixed it up for web use and here it is. makes no claim to ownership and reproduces this product shot under fair use provisions for review and critique.


School starts tomorrow (22-Aug) and I begin my education into an Interior Design Degree @ DCTC. I continue to explore some of the Ontario vinos I have brought with me.

This is part two of a four-part series on some 2009 vintages and one 2008 vintage from a 118yo family-owned winery.  Started in 1893 outside Stuttgart Germany, Herr Konzelmann, a restauranteur and expert in food&wine produced his personal supply.  Four generations later and half the world away, great-grandson to Friedrich Konzelmann: Herbert, continues to produce exceptional wines on their Niagara Peninsula estate: Konzelmann Estates.

Golden yellow and rich-looking in the glass, a mild floral nose with a faint hint of (of all things!) cabbage, the palate is full yet soft.  Gala apple and ripe pear flavors carry through to a surprising buttery lift on a moderate finish.

Quite possibly the nicest semi-dry Ontario Pinot Blanc I’ve tasted in a very long time.  LCBO ~$12/btl.




**image credit – WineAlign. makes no claim to ownership and republishes under fair use provisions for review and critique.

So as I begin my second phase of education (Interior Design Degree @ DCTC), I continue to explore some of the Ontario vinos I have brought with me.

This entry begins a four-part series on several 2009 vintages and one 2008 vintage from a 118yo family-owned winery.  Started in 1893 outside Stuttgart Germany, Herr Konzelmann, a restauranteur and expert in food&wine produced his personal supply.  Four generations later and half the world away, great-grandson Friedrich Konzelmann: Herbert, continues to produce exceptional wines on their Niagara Peninsula estate: Konzelmann Estates.

This oak-aged Merlot Reserve 2009, Niagara Peninsula VQA displays a greater complexity than most I’ve tasted of late.  The full nose of this rich ruby vino exhibits essences of sweet ripe cherry and cracked black pepper.  The 13.5%alc.vol is barely noticeable on the palate as flavors of cherry and mulberry and soft smooth tannin lead to a warm lingering finish.

The finish is of particular note.  Most dry reds are not very conducive to the pairing with most chocolate.  I could detect the presence of some chocolate flavoring in this lingering finish, so I decided to try some of the Belgian-made Caribbean dark chocolate in my secret stash.  Not so secret really as its available on Amazon… The affect of the bitter-sweet dark chocolate with the vino is something I can’t fully describe.  You’ll just have to try it.

Available at the LCBO ~$12/btl.




**image credit: Me!  I took this image myself with my camera phone, ran it through a photo editing platform, then uncapped the bottle and went nuts. makes no claim to ownership of the depiction and republishes the likeness under fair use provisions for review and critique.

Its been a while since last I was in Ontario, so for the next little while, I’ll be focusing my palate on what’s growing right outside my back door.

As many of you may already know, Riesling is a very versatile grape with wines ranging from lip-smackingly dry to succulent and rarefied Icewine. Your vinoboy prefers the drier side of the vine.

Brilliant straw-colored in the glass. The nose is definitely citrus-forward but there’s a delicate undertone of something resembling wild roses.  The forward palate is definitely citrus-based and tangy; the floral notes reappear on the soft finish.  Yummy.

Be sure to chill this vino rather well – there’s a sourness that comes out when it gets close to room temperature.  This would be one of those times to crack out the ice bucket.

Flattened chicken convection-roasted served aside garlic mashed potatoes and almond green bean, this dry Riesling was amazing.




**image credit – The Winery. makes no claim to ownership and republishes image under fair use provisions for review and critique.