Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cursed customer service

Recently, Mr. Lush and I went to a winemaker dinner. I've had their wine before and enjoy them. The winemaker was fun, the wine was great, and the food was good. A good Lush time was had, so we signed up for the wine club, which sends things not available here in Lou.

Well, Friday the 13th my wine was sent to my house, which of course I wasn't there. I returned home to find the Info Notice on my door, called, and requested the wine be held for pick up that night. They called me and said to come after 7. I arrived at 8:30....and waited....and waited....until 9:45 when I was told, sorry, we don't know where your wine is and there's nothing we can do because I'm not the shipper.

A-W-E-S-O-M-E. That's exactly how I wanted to spend my Friday night - waiting for wine I wouldn't get.

So I leave, furious, and write an email to the wine club marketing manager. Long story short - I feel that I deserved a little something from them. It wasn't their mess up, but they choose who to ship through and they are the ones who have recourse to get shipping fees back. I don't have either option. I didn't want a lot....half of my shipping charge ($8) back, or a bottle of their merlot (on sale for $12) included in my next shipment. She can't give me back my lost Friday night, nor my valentine's day without the wine we wanted, but she could've given me something to say, hey, we're sorry, we value you as a customer and let me make it up to you.

But no. She told me "you are free to resign from our club without penalty".

So I did. But not before I wrote an email stating why I was cancelling - solely because of her lack of customer service. (and bcc'd the winemaker)

Maybe it was omen-getting my wine on Friday the 13th it was destined to be cursed??

I don't know if its unreasonable to expect a little something, I don't think so, but feel free to weigh in with your thoughts.

***note, I did actually get the wine, on Monday. UPS just didn't know where it was that night***

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Noteworthy reds- Cal Ital and Cab

Recently we had a couple of nice wines, courtesy of Gold Medal Wine Club shipments. One was available through their Plus program: Brutocao Cellars' 2005 Quadriga, a Cal-Ital.
“…..a triumph of four Italian wine varietals portraying a unique blend of aromas and flavors that have resonated throughout the Mediterranean for centuries. It's a wine that will remind you of authentic old-world Italian field blends, but with richer, brighter and more fruit-forward flavors making it a favorite among many top wine critics. Wine Enthusiast magazine rated the 2005 Quadriga 91 Points & Editor's Choice and says, "This Italian-inspired blend from Brutocao gets better every vintage." The fantastic blend also garnered 91 Points from the California State Fair Wine Competition, a Double Gold Medal from the Tasters Guild International Wine Competition, and 2 Gold Medals from state competitions - wow! With a rich earthy quality to the cherry-blackberry fruit, the 2005 Quadriga has a great balance that's championed with dark stone fruit flavors, soft pepper notes, and plush, velvety tannins that lead into a complex and lingering finish. Try pairing Brutocao's 2005 Quadriga with beef stroganoff and rich pasta dishes. 35% Sangiovese, 31% Primitivo, 18% Barbera, 16% Dolcetto. Enjoy now until 2012.”

We had it with some cheese and crackers and it was really good. I don’t know if it would hold up to too rich of dishes, its not that full bodied, but we really enjoyed it. I can re-order it for about $18 + shipping and we’re thinking about it.

Another was the Winsome 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, part of a regular shipment.
“….produced from the winery's Home Ranch Vineyard in the heart of the San Joaquin
Valley and styled to empha rich varietal character and body in a classic California style. A stunning first release from Winsome, this Cabernet Sauvignon received a Gold Medal from the Lodi International Wine Awards, an Honorable Mention from the California State Fair, a Silver Medal from the San Francisco International Wine Competition, and another Silver Medal from the Orange County Fair. Fragrant aromas of cassis and black fruit are complemented by hints of vanilla, all spice and coffee that carry into ripe and intense berry fruit flavors on the palate. The Cabernet's structure is firm and well balanced, with excellent depth and supple, generous tannins that lead into a lengthy finish with complex notes of dark fruit and oak. Try pairing the Winsome 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon with lamb chops, beef, and rich marinara dishes. Aged 24 months in oak. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 3% Petite Verdot, 3% Syrah. Enjoy now until 2015.”
I decanted it for about an hour, and it was really nice with a grilled filet. Very good deal for the price. The Winsome is available for right about $20/bottle, about half off the winery direct price, probably because they negotiated such a good deal with it being the first release. We're also thinking of getting some of this. So much wine, so little money.....

*Side note for my chard lovers - we’ve also had the Winsome chardonnay and love it as well.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dirty martini showdown

Mr. Lush and are fans of dirty vodka martini's. Extra dirty, actually, as you can see in this picture. We have vermouth, but normally we just mix vodka and olive juice for a dry dirty martini.

Why are there two bottles of vodka behind my extra dirty martini? Because in true Lush Style, we had a Dirty Martini Showdown last night. I made one with Ciroc and one with Belvedere. I made sure to measure both so they had the same amount of vodka and olive juice proportion and we tasted both back to back.

The results- Mr. Lush blindly tasted and came up with Ciroc as the clear winner - I liked both but preferred Ciroc slightly as well. Which is good, as its a few dollars a bottle cheaper than Belvedere, probably because its less known. Never heard of it? Its made from grapes, not potato, as most vodka is made from. Here's another tip- Sams Club sells is for $27/28, a steal from the regular $33-35 you'll find at most liquor and grocery stores. If you're a vodka fan, I highly recommend picking up a bottle.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

VDay and Artiste Wines

As noted in my last post, we celebrated Valentine's Day a little late - on Monday night. We had some lamb and finally opened a bottle of Artiste Wines that Lucy so thoughtfully picked up for us - The Rojo Nuevo: 72% Syrah25% Tempranillo3% Merlot.
Here's some info on their blending of art and wine:
"Combining a reverence for tradition and a philosophy of winemaking as an artistic expression, Artiste wines are labeled with gorgeous works of impressionist art. Each of our wine blends are named after the title of the painting that graces its bottle. We work with some of the finest Contemporary Impressionist artists across the country to commission and license a new painting for each new wine. Then, taking inspiration from the colors, imagery and story behind each wine label, Artiste's winemaker blends and weaves different wines together to create Artiste's Impressionist CuvĂ©es™."

We didn't decant it but wished we had, if even for 15 minutes, as it opened up beautifully throughout the meal. It was really great, went great with the lamb, and I'm absolutely in love with the wines (and of course the labels) now and am trying to justify joining the club. It appears they are only available through the winery/wine clubs.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Solid cab franc for under $20

Unfortunately, Mr. Lush worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Its all the name of Europe, so I can’t complain, plus we’re having our “Valentine’s Day” tonight. However, my good friend Natalie kept me company and I grilled us up some bacon wrapped filets, she mashed potatoes and we had it with the WineSmith Cabernet Franc. Never heard of it? No wonder- they only make 1,000 cases or less a year. We had originally picked this up from the Wine Merchant in Clayton for my wine club’s blind tasting, it went over well. I remember that I thought it would taste fantastic with some grilled meat at the time, and luckily, I remembered that thought and picked up a bottle for $18-19. This time, however, I decanted it for about an hour an a half.

It was great. Absolutely wonderful with the steaks- not at all vegetal like some cab francs tend to be. Note that the Lushs are Grilling Purists and so these weren’t propane grilled steaks….they were charcoal grilled steaks. Also, we don’t use lighter fluid to start our charcoal either- we use a chimney to keep the charcoal flavor as pure as possible. I also grill my steak extra rare and Natalie's was normal rare, and I think that chargrilled rare flavor paired perfectly with the wine.

It was a great meal and a great wine find, since often Cabernet Francs can be fairly expensive-finding one for under $20 is great!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chouffe cheers

Recently we went to Growlers, a local pub. We don’t often go to Growlers, so I took full advantage of their many (100+) beer selections and had a couple Belgium beers I hadn’t tried. As you know, I am an equal opportunity drinker, although I will admit I don’t drink beer that much anymore. I’m sorta mad at AB for selling to InBev, so I’m unofficially boycotting all AB products. They aren’t on sale anymore anyway, so I’d rather support a smaller brewery that puts their stuff on sale, or drink beer that actually has a good flavor, like Belgium beer.

But I digress- at Growlers I had the La Chouffe and the Mc Chouffe, two Belgium beers owned by the same company.The La Chouffe is a blonde beer, with some spicy and a bit fruity. (note, fruity Belgium style isn’t fruity like a Cherry beer would be fruity, its more understated fruity) The Mc Chouffe is similar, although darker, less spicy and a bit more hoppy. Both were really good, although I probably prefer the La Chouffe, because in general I don't like much hop in my beer.

If you like hefeweizen or unfiltered beers, give these a try. They were $11.50 each, but it was for a 750ml bottle, so its enough to share. Take note of the 8% alc content though.....

Friday, February 6, 2009

Beware of the Wine Burnout

Earlier this week, we opened up a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Ophelin. We had served it at the wedding reception and because we purchased all our own alcohol, we overbought and ended up with about 8-10 bottles of each of the wines we had served. (in addition to cases of beer, half-gallons of liquor, etc) Well, because we only had the capacity to store 56 bottles at the time, the wedding wine was pretty much what we drank for a while. As you can imagine, we got really burned out from it-we almost dreaded drinking it. (Imagine-dreading a wine!!) After that, we steered clear of the wedding wines for a little bit, even when we had them, we didn’t really appreciate why we liked it so much in the first place.

Well, I think we’re officially over the Wedding Wine Burnout, because when I had the Ophelin I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it so much. We had the 2004 at the wedding and this was the 2005, so there’s one difference, but overall, I really liked it.

However, it did make me realize that I really enjoy a variety of wine and makes me think twice about stocking up on cases- I don't want Wine Burnout again!!! Of course, unless I can either split cases with people OR until we have a larger area to store them. Splitting cases will work in the meantime, so if you have some wine loving friends, next time you see a sale of something, particularly stuff you can’t get in your city, go in on a large multi case order. We did that recently with 3 other couples/people, and ended up with 2 bottles of this, 4 bottles of that, 6 bottles of this, etc. It’s a really nice mix where we had enough to drink it when we wanted, but not too much that we felt like that’s ALL we could drink.

So…next time you find a favorite, beware of the Wine Burnout. It could happen to you.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mosby Cal-Ital with Ital pinwheel steaks

The other night I made some Italian pinwheel steaks….flank steak rolled with prosciutto and provolone, some Italian seasonings, topped with Italian cheese /breakcrumb mix. We opened the 2004 Mosby La Seduzione, a Cal-Italian varietal. The Lagrein grape is named after the Lagarina Valley of Trentino, although it is now primarily grown at Gries on the outskirts of Bolzano. An extremely rare grape in the United States, we know of only a handful of vineyards in California-they were able to procure these grapes from the French Camp Vineyard. (thus the name “French Camp Vineyard”) It was a artist label purchase, courtesy of Lucy, and we just got around to drinking it.
I had hopes it would be good with the Italian pinwheel steaks-but it overpowered it a bit. Last time I made the steaks I used Asiago cheese, which was very strong. I think I underestimated the mildness of provolone, so while the wine was very good, plumy, a bit smoky and coco-ish, it was a bit too strong for the food. I should’ve decanted it, or even better, picked a different dish for the wine.
I love the Mosby labels, (and the wine!) but sadly they don’t come off very easily-in fact, I have yet to be successful with one yet. But I’ll keep on trying!!!! Thanks Lucy!!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rick Steve's travel shows on PBS

As you know, I’m always on the lookout for info on Europe but am finding the research task to be many books and websites its overwhelming. So imagine my excitement when my boss told me about Rick Steve’s Europe series on PBS-free info on some of the every areas I’m going to!! It includes more than France, although I’ll probably skip those.

I’ve already watched the Provence and Riveria ones; they were good and informative, although in an introductory manner. (unfortunately I missed the Burgundy one!!!!) But good news-from the Complete Guide to all 83 episodes you can also read a script of each episode, should you have missed one.

But for those of you who prefer to watch vs read, go here for your local airtimes. (for us St. Louisians, it on very early-like 5:30am-thank god for DVRs!!!!)

Happy learning!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Friendly Facebook Discussion

I am a recent joiner of Facebook. Such as, the question of “what is a facebook friend” has come up between myself and my “real life” friend. Some people seem to be “facebook whores” and just want to rack up the friend count and friend every friend of a friend who they ever met or even looked at. I even received an invite to be friends with someone I met through a social function (who I barely spoke to) less than a week later.

So, what is a “Facebook friend”? It obviously isn’t only real friends that you see all the time, but there must be a happy medium between that and “friending” every person you work with, go to school with, have a club with, go to church with, met at the grocery store, etc.

After some discussion with the late 20 something to 30 something facebook crowd, I think its:

Someone you know well enough to talk to if you saw them at a larger scale gathering. (large party, bar, etc) If you wouldn’t even wave because you don’t like them, aren’t sure if its them, or if they would recognize you, then they shouldn’t be your facebook friend.

But this is open to discussion…..any thoughts??

Monday, February 2, 2009

Walk off that Superbowl dip - at work!

Want a way to walk off all that Superbowl dip, pizza, lil smokies, wings, etc? Get your boss to spring for a Walkstation, so you can walk while you work.

I saw it today on the local morning show-what a neat idea, huh?? You can see a clip from Good Morning America here and find out more info about it here, so you can get all the ammo you need to convince your boss its a good investment.