reviews wineries

Tasting Bogle Phantom 2004

Bogle PhantomI kept this one Halloween wine back from my series at Eternal Vigilance (sorry Gaby!) and saved it for my own Halloween posting. I just love those Bogle wines so darned much! No matter what Bogle bottle I’ve turned someone onto, I’ve never had a bad reaction – not even lukewarm. It’s value, it’s well-made, it’s family owned, it’s tasty goodness fashure, youbetcha.

Red-black in color. Aromas of vanilla and toasty oak, with plum and blackberry jam. Palate hurls bing cherry, dark chocolate, pepper, tar and some slight graphite at your tongue, in a good way. Medium-to-long finish of dark savory flavors. This wine is one of the pricier offerings from Bogle, running around $18.

The Bogles have been a farming family since the 1800s. In 1968, Chris Bogle and his father Warren planted wine grapes in Clarksburg, California. Ten years later they started making wine from it. After Chris passed away, his widow Patty Bogle, who had been working the vineyard since the 70s, took over operations at the winery in 1989. Their son Warren manages the vineyards and his sister Judy manages customer affairs at the winery. Glad I don’t have to work that closely with my family, and really glad it works so well for them!

The flagship wine from Bogle has always been their Petite Sirah, though they also make a very popular Old Vine Zinfandel. Also their Chenin Blanc is to die for. And the Phantom. And they make a hell of a porch wine Chardonnay. Don’t stop till you get enough…

Patty is really a pioneer and official stump speaker for Petite Sirah in California, and has been pushing PS since back when people thought the “petite” meant it was a light little wine. Ha! She was given a Phenomenal Service Award by the organization PS I Love You for her work as Chair for the Petite Sirah Heritage Clone Vineyard (HCV) at UC Davis, and because she kicks ass in general, I figure.

Have a Happy Hallowe’en!

wine bars

My Local: Lake Travis Wine Trader

LTWTI taste a lot at Lake Travis Wine Trader: it’s close to my home, there’s a wide selection of wines, and they have lots of interesting tastings. I only really discovered it when I started this blog — when I had made the decision to write this thing, I couldn’t figure out how I would manage to taste enough wines to keep a blog filled up! I don’t drink wine every day, and I couldn’t even remotely afford to buy enough full bottles of interesting wine to keep me blogging regularly.

LTWT to the rescue! They offer more than 30 wines by the glass, and offer tasting portions of all of them. Their list changes pretty regularly, and they also offer six different flights of four wines each, if you want to taste wines against each other. I love tasting wines in flights — there’s something about the contrast of multiple wines that are similar but different that really makes me feel like I am tasting profoundly. I especially enjoy tasting similar varietals from different regions around the world: it’s so interesting how different soils, weather patterns and winemaking can make the same grape into such different wine.

industry reviews

Tasting Mitolo “GAM” McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005

GAM Shiraz, from Mitolo’s websiteI’m sure there’s a car that epitomizes power and finesse. I don’t know what it is, because I’m not a car-brand-knowing-type-person. But whatever car that is, this wine is the bottled version of it. Tasted as part of a “Robert Parker’s High Raters” at Lake Travis Wine Trader’s Saturday Premium Tasting. Parker gave this wine a 95, if you’re interested.

Opaque purpley red in color. Enormous, multi-faceted nose of menthol, fir sap, aged cheese, peppered salami and blackberry jam. The palate, well. When I sipped this wine, it felt like someone had let loose the Fists of Fury on my teeth. Full-bodied, with great balanced acidity and a firm tannic grip. Well-integrated, firecracker explosions of red currant, black pepper and blueberry skin. Finish goes for miles. Sells for about $48.

Mitolo is a joint venture between two very powerful men: Frank Mitolo and winemaker Ben Glaetzer. Well, strictly speaking, Mitolo started the winery in 1999 and Glaetzer became a partner in 2001. The name of the wine, GAM, refers to Frank’s children Gemma, Alexander and Marco. Frank Mitolo is the general manager of his family’s agricultural business, Comit Farm. His family’s business is one of the largest potato and onion packing companies in Australia. Mitolo’s winery was founded in 1999, with grapes sourced from the Lopresti family. Here’s an interview of Frank from Jancis Robinson’s site, and a concise review of Mitolo’s recent releases at Vinosense.

wine bars

Viva Vino 100 Lakeway

Decided to try a new wine shop/bar last night, and hustled my scamp over to the Vino 100 in Lakeway, whose claim to fame is “100 wines under $25.” It’s in this little strip mall on 620 (what isn’t?), relatively easy to find, and pretty close to my house, if you’re wondering why my nose is always all up in the Lakeway shit.

I’m no posh Steiner Rancher, gentle reader; rather, Le Chateau du Scamp is in an extremely modest subdivision near Hamilton Pool. I was reflecting as I drove out into Lakeway yesterday evening that it’s all very well to live within one’s means, but it helps that one has Nice Places To Go so close to home.



Yet another review of a wine I have deemed Halloween-appropriate is awaiting your pleasure at Eternal Vigilance. Did you know that (according to an infallible source) the seven holy virtues are chastity, abstinence, temperance, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility? Which is your strong suit?


One is the Loneliest Number

Do you have any idea how many wine events are happening in and around Austin every week? If you’re tired of drinking that tasty Riesling or McLaren Vale Syrah with only 30 Rock and the dog for company, Austin has innumerable ways for you to take your glass on the road.

Here’s a sample of just some of the tastings and classes you can attend this week:



Another of my Halloween wine reviews can be found at Eternal Vigilance. Learn all about how Don Melchor kept his wine safe and what the FBI’s witness protection program can learn from a grape.


Pouring Time at the Zoo

When I was in the wine business, the thing I hated the most was to pour at a public wine tasting event.  Considering how gung-ho I am about de-mystifying wine for people, and how much I enjoy teaching people about wine, I recognize the irony. What better way, one might ask, to help people feel more confident about their own taste in wine but to help them taste more?  And be able to talk to them while they’re tasting?

This optimistic viewpoint completely discounts humankind’s animal tendencies.  One of the scenarios in which people act like animals is when they’re in crowds.  Another scene that brings out the animal in even your mildest-mannered of auntie is when people are giving something out for free.  Yet another animalistic behavior encouragement is alcohol. 

These are the building blocks for the miraculous equation that takes normal men and women at a large public wine tasting and turns them into ravening, parched, ill-tempered zombies.  Crowd + free (or cheap) alcohol = UGLY.  It’s true, I don’t care who you are.

events regions wineries

Tasting Tuesday at Specs Brodie Lane

Another fun time was had by all at Specs’ Tasting Tuesday at the Brodie Lane store this last Tuesday. This time I attended with a friend, which increased my enjoyment enormously — what is it about being alone in a crowd that makes you feel, well, alone in a crowd?

To remind you of what this scene is about: Specs holds this Tasting Tuesday event on the second Tuesday of every month at their Brodie Lane & William Cannon store.  For $10 you get a Reidel tasting glass and you get one ounce pours of 20 different wines that Specs has priced on sale that night only.  The event runs from 5:30 to 8, if I recall correctly.

This month they had some of the same (mostly local) food vendors providing samples, but the Specs deli was also passing hors d’ourves, like duck liver pate on crackers, sushi rolls with krab and wasabi cream sauce, grilled pork tenderloin with lovely apricot goo on french rounds, herbed goat cheese, and chopped duck & raspberry something on crackers. Tasty comestibles; I must say that I’ve purchased food at the deli before and I was very satisfied.

grapes regions reviews Wine Blogging Wednesday

Wine Blogging Wednesday #38: Portuguese Table Wine

This was an exercise in trust for me; I’ve never been a fan of Portuguese table wines, at least nothing other than Vinho Verde, which I like very much. I resolved to take this opportunity to learn a little more about a region I had pretty much written off as producing fruitless bottles of scrape-your-teeth tannic monsters. Many thanks to Catavino‘s Ryan and Gabriella; their Portuguese Table Wine Cheat Sheet was great help to me!