Archive for March 2010

WINE OF THE MONTH- MARCH

March 28, 2010

The 2007 vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon is being heralded as the finest of the decade, no small accolade considering the extreme elegance of the 2004 vintage and the complex structure of some of the best 2006s. At a recent tasting, I had the chance to sample a few of these wines that are just making their way into stores this month, and they certainly whet my appetite for my annual pilgrimage to Napa this July, where I plan to make a special effort to focus on Cabernet from the region. One wine that stuck out is actually the second label of one of the Valley’s best producers, Darioush. For about half the cost of its Signature label wines, this Cabernet delivers on all levels. Suffice to say, if the Darioush Signature wines from 2007 are twice as good as this one, we have a lot to look forward to. For the time being, keep your eye out for this very reasonably priced introduction to what promises to be a fantastic vintage in Napa Valley.

Caravan Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007, 91 Points, $30

Dusty chocolate, red currant fruit and oak on the nose. Typical Darioush mouthfeel, soft and seamless, with black cherry cola and plum fruit exploding into layers of toffee and buttery oak as hints of cedar spice linger beneath. Impressive transition from fruit layers to oak and toffee, with the latter taking over through the super long finish.

FINAL BRACKETOLOGY

March 14, 2010

After such a valiant effort against Kentucky, and losing in overtime after a controversial no-call, I have a tough time leaving Mississippi State out. Minnesota’s thrashing at the hands of Ohio State shouldn’t take away from its wins over Michigan State and Purdue in back to back days, and they should still have the upper hand on conference rival Illinois despite finishing a game behind them in league play. Looking closer at Wake Forest, their 7 wins over the RPI top 50 is hard to overlook, so I’ve decided to keep them in as well, which means that Virginia Tech must also be in as discussed in yesterday’s post. That means that the final spot comes down to yesterday’s losers UTEP and Utah State. It has simply come to the point where these mid-major conference runner-ups can’t both be included over conference runner-ups like Minnesota and Mississippi State who beat stronger teams in their tourneys. In fact, the only thing keeping Utah State in the discussion at this point has to be their win over BYU, but their losses to teams like Utah, Northeastern and Long Beach State nearly nullify that. UTEP, on the other hand, had a better conference record and doesn’t have any bad losses besides to Houston, and importantly, has a road victory over New Mexico State…the team that knocked Utah State off last night. So, as much as I think Utah State and Illinois have strong arguments to be in, they are my last 2 out.

Last 4 in: Wake Forest, UTEP, Minnesota, Mississippi State

Last 4 out: Utah State, Illinois, Florida, Rhode Island

EAST MIDWEST SOUTH WEST
1 Kentucky Kansas Duke Syracuse
2 Kansas State Georgetown West Virginia Ohio State
3 New Mexico Villanova Temple Purdue
4 Tennessee Michigan State Pittsburgh Baylor
5 Texas A & M Vanderbilt Wisconsin Butler
6 Maryland Richmond Gonzaga BYU
7 Marquette Texas Xavier Northern Iowa
8 Oklahoma St St. Mary’s SDSU Louisville
9 Florida State Missouri Notre Dame Clemson
10 UNLV Virginia Tech Old Dominion California
11 Georgia Tech UTEP Wake Forest Washington
12 Cornell Mississippi State Minnesota NMSU
13 Wofford Murray State Siena Oakland
14 Sam Houston State Houston Montana Ohio
15 North Texas UCSB Winthrop Morgan State
16 Vermont Robert Morris ETSU Lehigh/ Texas Southern

Bracketology before the Selection, 3/13

March 14, 2010

Well, what seemed like a weak bubble became pretty competitive after a Saturday full of upsets in both mid-major conferences as well as the big boys. Houston knocked off UTEP to win the automatic bid for the Conference USA, and you have to think that UTEP will still get an at large bid after winning 26 games and nearly sweeping its conference with an RPI of 40. That development pushed out a mid-pack team from one of the major conferences, and teams in that group were hurt again as the clock approached midnight and New Mexico State knocked off Utah State to win the WAC championship. The U-St Aggies won 27 games, including a big one over BYU, and it is equally difficult to imagine them being left out, especially with an RPI in the top 30. (Remember when Air Force got an at large bid with 27 wins, beating no one in the RPI top 100?)

Meanwhile, teams that were way below the bubble on Thursday like Minnesota and Mississippi State find themselves back in the hunt after improbable runs towards their conference championships. At the moment, I give Minnesota the edge as their path seems to have been tougher, having beaten Michigan State and demolishing Purdue, and they seem to have the flair of a team possessed. Either team will likely knock the other out by winning tomorrow, but the real loser today was Illinois, who lost at home to Minnesota in its last regular season game, and then got sloppy on two potentially game winning possessions in a double overtime loss to what appears to be a destined Ohio State team today. After the Utah State loss, it is hard to see the 19-14 Illini getting into the tourney, even with 5 wins over current tourney teams (it also has 4 losses to teams not in the tourney). As an Indiana alum, I am clearly heartbroken by this development, as well as the massacre that Purdue was subjected to by a team with a buck-toothed mascot. I will cry myself to sleep.

As a result, even with a loss tomorrow, I have Minnesota as the very last team in the tourney, with Illinois out. That means Mississippi State will have to win the SEC Championship to get in, and if they do, and Minnesota loses a close game, amazingly, it should be the ACC that loses a team. Georgia Tech seems like a lock now that they have advanced to the title game, while Virginia Tech seems to be holding on by the skin of its teeth thanks to head to head wins over Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, and by virtue of finishing third outright in conference play. I truly believe that if Mississippi State and Minnesota both win, admittedly an unlikely scenario, Wake Forest will be the team that misses the cut- a reality that seemed utterly impossible just 24 hours ago. Oh, and teams like Florida, Rhode Island and Arizona State that appeared safe at that juncture? See ya!

Last four teams in: Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Wake Forest

Last four teams out: Illinois, Mississippi State, Florida, Rhode Island

EAST MIDWEST SOUTH WEST
1 Kentucky Kansas Duke Syracuse
2 Kansas State Purdue West Virginia Ohio State
3 New Mexico Villanova Temple Georgetown
4 Tennessee Michigan State Pittsburgh Baylor
5 Texas A & M Vanderbilt Wisconsin Butler
6 Maryland Richmond Gonzaga BYU
7 Marquette Texas Xavier Northern Iowa
8 Oklahoma St St. Mary’s SDSU Louisville
9 Florida State Missouri Notre Dame Clemson
10 UNLV UTEP Old Dominion California
11 Utah State Virginia Tech Georgia Tech Washington
12 Cornell Wake Forest Minnesota NMSU
13 Wofford Murray State Siena Oakland
14 Sam Houston State Houston Montana Ohio
15 North Texas UCSB Winthrop Morgan State
16 Vermont Robert Morris ETSU Lehigh/ Texas Southern

WINE OF THE MONTH- FEBRUARY

March 4, 2010

Recently, I took advantage of the incredible opportunity to meet Lamberto Frescobaldi, winemaker and 30th generation member of a famous Tuscan family that has been producing wines since the early 1300s. I participated in a seminar in which Frescobaldi discussed the family’s history and of course, poured several of their incredible wines, running the gamut from entry level house wines to Chianti Classicos, Super-Tuscan Blends and Brunellos. Amazingly, the wine that stood out to me above all the others was actually in the middle of the price range, and totally blew me away. I promptly ordered a case.

MARCHESI DE FRESCOBALDI TENUTA DI CASTIGLIONI 2007, $25, 93 Points, 9200 Cases Made

Layers of aroma, with toasty toffee above rich, raisiny fruit notes of black licorice laced with vanilla bean and tobacco spice. Suave, persistent and elegantly textured, with a smoothness that carries its gorgeous blackberry, licorice, dark plum and wild berry, all laced with undertones of tobacco spice that linger long with the bursting fruit. This finishes with a slightly tannic grip that seems to be its lone flaw and should soften and add complexity over time. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese.