Sept 2006 Updates

Tim's Wine Market

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After months of planning we have finally expanded our selection of Tim’s Wine Market T-Shirts. All of the new designs are in new, rich colors and are offered in sizes medium to extra large. For the first time we have also added ladies sizes in a couple of styles. Here is the list of the sayings on the back of the shirts and the color. Our logo appears on the front.

WINEAUX (now also in ladies royal blue)


WINE BELLY (Olive green)

Bacchus, n. A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk. (Eggplant)

Will swap husband for great wine (ladies only, coral)

Will swap wife for great wine (navy blue)

A good number of you have asked how my studies in the Master of Wine program are progressing. The short answer is that it is going great and I found out I completed my first year, something that is not all that common in one attempt. The longer answer is that the all of the reading, writing and research is making me a far more knowledgeable “wine guy” than ever before. Even if I never actually pass the exam the whole experience has been worth the effort. Understanding why I am doing this is easier to explain if you know what the whole process is all about so here is the quick overview of the program.

The Institute of Masters of Wine is an English institute was formed in the mid-1950’s. The group formed after WWII when there was a large influx of people into the wine trade and the established houses wanted to quantify the experts in the field. The program covers all areas of wine, from grape growing to marketing the finished product, at a nearly exhaustive level of detail. The exam is given in two parts, the “practical” involves three mornings of blind tastings; the “theory” four afternoons of essay writing covering all aspects of wine. I have no idea how many people have attempted the program but only 256 in the world have ever passed. There are about a dozen MW’s in North America.

When talking with MW’s you can tell that they think of every wine scenario on a higher plain than us normal wine geeks. They think of every problem from a number of sides, considering the pro’s and con’s of every situation. When I arrived in California for the residential seminar I really did not know why I wanted to be a MW, by the time I left it was perfectly clear. It does not have anything to do with the title or being one of the industry elite. For me it is the discipline of being able to think of answers to questions based on a mastery of the subject.

As part of my Master of Wine study I have to read a lot of English publications. My favorite is one called Harper’s Wine and Spirit Weekly. A few weeks ago Harper’s reported that restaurants in the UK were suffering because the BBC has their version of “Must see TV” called “Big Night In.” The network is promoting this night as a chance to stay home, open a nice bottle of wine and enjoy a home cooked meal so not to miss the exciting evening offerings. This started me thinking, sans TV, what a great idea. A good bottle, a great meal and maybe a great old classic movie like Key Largo, The Manchurian Candidate or Rambo.

So here is my proposal, when you come in for the every day stuff, take home a bottle of something a little better and spend the evening enjoying the wine with someone special. Here are four wines I would put into this category.

2004 TORII MOR Chardonnay $20
A Washington State wine from an Oregon winery. Their 2004 sports tons of fruit wound up with good acidity and enough oak to know the wine was aged in barrel but not so much you pick splinters from your tongue. Serve with grilled swordfish, baked catfish under an herb/crumb topping or even a rotisserie chicken. Finish the bottle with slices of caramel apple with white chocolate.

2003 BARLOW LANE Garnacha $18
A former Wine of the Month selection so you know it is one of our favorites. Barlow Lane is very juicy, round and rich, with a depth of cherry flavor that will blow your mind. Try with take home ribs from your favorite hole in the wall or with grilled pork. After dinner finish the wine with a home made cherry clafouti.

2003 HILL FAMILY Merlot $30
Just don’t rent the movie Sideways. This is a very polished, elegant wine, great with any steak and then after with well selected cheese plate.

2003 PERFIL Cabernet Sauvignon $50 per bottle
When I was in Napa in February I came across a stash of unsold Cabernet Sauvignon made by our friend Chris Dearden at Benessere. It turns out that Chris produces several boutique Cabernets from vineyards owned by captains of industry who want to own a vineyard but not the headache of an actual winery. He showed me a few examples where he makes only a few barrels of wine for these clients from their vineyards. As it turned out he had one extra barrel of Cabernet from one of these efforts so I bought it and we bottled it under our new label Perfil.

Perfil means “profile” in French, which we chose because we intend to do this again spotlighting the winemaker and vineyard for each example we find. This bottling is from Cabernet vines grown near Benessere on the north side of St. Helena. The vineyard is over 25 years old and is pruned to produce very low yields of deeply concentrated Cabernet fruit. The wine was aged in French oak, half new, and then aged for twenty months before bottling.

You will want to decant this wine for an hour before drinking. The color is deep garnet and the nose is an inviting blend of warm baking spices, black plums, black cherries, cedar and grilled bread. I the mouth this wine is quite deep and complex, with the layers of wood and fruit unfolding deep into the palate. Despite being a 2003 this wine has plenty of potential to age if you want as there are smooth but present tannins on the finish. Drink over the next three to five years with chateaubriand or a thick, Tuscan cut porterhouse.