Category Archives: Hump Day Vices

Hump Day Vices: Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon

Big, Bright, and Fruity

Tasting Notes:

Wine: Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon

Vintage: 2009

Price: $22.49

Producer: Cannonball Wine Company

Region & Country: California: 62% Mendocino, 32% Sonoma/ Dry Creek Valey, 4% Napa, 2% Other

Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon

Place and Date Purchased: 11/6/2011 Whole Foods Market – Santa Monica, CA

Place and Date Tasted: 11/8/2011 Home – Los Angeles, CA

Appearance: Bright Grape-Juice Purple, extremely light legs.

Nose: Overwhelming aroma of fresh, juicy blackberries, ripe oranges, and pineapple

Taste: Extremely fruity-sweet with a medium-long tart finish.

Finish: Medium-long with progressively intense tannin

Overall Impression: I won’t deny it, this wine tastes great. The only problem is I couldn’t differentiate it from Welch’s Concord Grape Juice if my life depended on it. A good wine should exemplify and carefully explore all the grape has to offer. In the case of Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon the only way I know it’s Cabernet Sauvignon is by reading the label. You don’t get any of the dark, subtle, rich complexity of cabernet in this wine…you get big, dumb fruit and enough of it to keep a room of kindergartners very happy indeed. I wouldn’t be as critical of this bottle as I am were it not for the price…for $22.49 you can get 8 bottles of 2-buck chuck Shiraz and two 2-liters of Pineapple Fanta, mix it together and have about 12 times the drink with the exact same flavor (trust me).

Food Pairing: I’m rarely at a loss for a wine and food pairing but Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon is so insanely sweet it would steamroll anything with a similar flavor profile and would taste off compared to anything different. If you’re going to drink this drink it straight up.

Overall Rating (out of 100 points): 60

Overall Value (1-5 stars): 1 star

Pass, thanks.


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Hump Day Vices: Les Demoiselles de Falfas Bordeaux paired with with Fromi Mon Sire Camembert

Autumn is very much here and the nip in the evening air stands as the harbinger of winter coming soon. As we begin to bundle up our palates too long for something warming. I can think of no better pairing to welcome the coming season than refined, bright, and spicy Les Demoiselles Bordeaux paired with decadently buttery rich Fromi Mon Sire Camembert. Do yourself a favor and indulge a little bit!

The Wine

Tasting Notes:

Wine: Les Demoiselles

Vintage: 2009

Price: $17.99

Producer: J et V Cochran

Region & Country: Côtes de Bourg, Bordeaux, France

Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Place and Date Purchased: 10/31/11 Whole Foods Market – Santa Monica, CA

Place and Date Tasted: 11/1/11 The Mesch-Ruskin Home – San Marcos, CA

Appearance: Striking appearance, brilliant ruby red with decently strong legs

Please forgive the dark background!

Nose: Raisins, Cassis, Rosemary, Sage, Rose Hips, Dry Toast

Taste: Elegantly light with cranberry tart/sweet and warm cinnamon spice

Finish: Medium-long with progressively intense tannin

Overall Impression: Les Demoiselles is a resplendent example of all that is best in Côtes de Bourg. The tradition of wine production in this small part of Bordeaux dates all the way back to the Romans and in the thousands of years wine makers have been perfecting their craft here they have developed a distinct, extremely elegant, balanced, and delicious characteristic for their wine. Les Demoiselles demonstrates all of these good qualities.

Food Pairing: The spice and tannin in Les Demoiselles makes it a perfect partner to any holiday dinner…be it a prime rib roast, roast ham with mango chutney, roast turkey with cranberry sauce, or something even more daring like a roast duckling. What you’re looking for with respect to pairing is fat, spice, and complimentary herbs. A creamy camembert is the ideal cheese to highlight the wine’s taste while reciprocally complimenting the cheese’s high fat content.

Overall Rating (out of 100 points): 87

Overall Value (1-5 stars): 4 stars

The Cheese

Fromi Mon Sire Camembert

Cheese Name: Mon Sire

Date and Place Purchased: 10/31/11 Whole Foods Market – Santa Monica, CA

Type of Milk Used: Bovine

Place of Origin: France

Producer: Fromi

Cheesemonger: Gladys Hernandez

Food Pairing: Dried fruits, rosemary, toasted nuts, toasted bread

Mon Sire is perfectly suited to Leslie Stowe's Raincoast Crisps, particularly Rosemary-Cranberry-Pecan

Wine Pairing: Any full-bodied, tannic red wine

Tasting Notes: Buttery smooth, sweet, and delicious

Rating (1-10): High 10

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Brace yourselves for some wine and cheese reviews.


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Hump Day Vices: El Presidente

My liquor cabinet. Seriously, what the fuck am I going to make with 3 different rums, half a flask of cognac, an anise liquer, vermouth, triple sec, a bunch of bitters, and an empty novelty ice tray?

If there is one thing you should know about me it’s that I will never be able to keep a fully-stocked bar. When alcohol comes into my home it tends to be consumed with singular focus until the bottle is empty, and there is rarely any overlap at all between one bottle and the next. This is not to say that I don’t desire a fully stocked bar, because I very much do. I have twelve different kinds of bitters on hand, several bottles of dry and sweet vermouth, triple sec, and a variety of other mixers but the bourbon, gin, vodka, scotch, and whiskey to mix with them seem to disappear as quickly as they came in. Gin always has the quickest turn-around, but once the Beefeater, Tanqueray, or Hendrick’s is exhausted there is little discretion used in the anhilation of the feeble stockpile of any other spirit in the house.

Rum seems to be the one exception to this rule. No matter how empty my freezer may be there always seems to be half a bottle of rum tucked away in the back of my bare liquor cabinet. Maybe it’s leftover from making rum cake at Christmas, maybe my WASP genetic makeup blinds me to it when something clearer and more junipery is on hand. At any rate it’s distilled and at the end of the pay period it’s often in the house. I first discovered El Presidente at the end of a particularly lean month. It was the night before payday and I didn’t have the means to fuel cocktail hour. Barnaby (my roommate at the time) and I sat in the living room and the confluence of evening and Curb your Enthusiasm seemed sadly incomplete without drinks in our hands. Thirsty and destitute we made an assessment of our liquor supply. Two empty bottles of peach schnapps, 1/3 of a bottle of triple sec, about 13 different kinds of bitters, a broken wine glass, two very old bottles of bizarre Romanian cherry wine (which must have been drank one night post-blackout or were incorporated into an unfortunate jungle juice at a party because I no longer have them), a full bottle of sweet vermouth, a scant bottle of dry vermouth, and half a bottle of gold rum were all we had.

Barnaby began counting quarters to go buy a 40 of Miller High Life ($2.25 out-the-door!) at the bodega where we often made fools of ourselves or flat-out insulted the proprietor in our various states of intoxication. I put pride aside and began combing over my bar book for a simple rum drink. Near the end of the chapter I ran across El Presidente. It called for rum, dry and sweet vermouth, triple sec, and an orange twist. My heart racing I looked at the fruit bowl. Two rotten lemons and YES, an orange! I screamed “we’re in business” and washed the cocktail shaker. We took sips and it was, very much to Barnaby’s surprise, totally drinkable. At the end of the night we had killed not only the rum but the dry vermouth and triple sec as well (as we ran out of supplies the proportions began to vary wildly) and we ended up having one of our better parties. Tonight is very much the end of a very lean pay period and instead of hocking something to buy supplies for this evening’s post I’m going to share with you the preparation of El Presidente. If you’re like me and can count on a rogue bottle of rum when your bank account runs low you will find this recipe a gem to be thankful for at the end of the month 😉


1 1/2 ounces of gold or light rum

1/2 ounce dry vermouth

1/2 ounce of sweet vermouth

1/4 ounce of triple sec

twist of lemon

dash of grenadine


Mise en Place: Assemble your ingredients and fill a shaker half-way with ice

Measure out the ingredients

Pour into the shaker with the ice, add the grenadine if you forgot like I did.

Shake vigorously and pour into a cocktail glass

Garnish with a little twist of lemon and enjoy!


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Hump Day Vices: Château Barreyres Cru Bourgeois and Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon

This evening I would like to take a moment to share my notes on two very distinctive, very different wines I’ve had the chance to taste this week. The first continues on the theme of value-priced wines from Bordeaux I started last week. Château Barreyres Cru Bourgeois is a fabulous wine which captures all of what is good in Bordeaux for the remarkably low price of $19.99 per bottle. The second, Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon, comes from the Napa valley and has one of the fruitiest expressions I’ve ever experienced from Cabernet Sauvignon. I highly recommend both wines and share my tasting notes below:

Château Barreyres Cru Bourgeois

When you uncork the bottle always take care to check the cork. A cork with a uniform red stain on the bottom indicates a wine which was properly stored on it's side. If the cork has no stain it means the wine was stored improperly upright, which will dry the cork out and spoil the wine.

Vintage: 2006

Price per Bottle: $19.99

Producer:Concours de Bourdeaux

Region and Country: Haut-Médoc (left bank), Bordeax, France

Grape Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Place and Date Purchased: Whole Foods Santa Monica 10/9/2011

Place and Date Tasted: Whole Foods Santa Monica 10/9/2011

Appearance: deep burgundy color, medium-strong legs (12.5% alcohol by volume)

Rich red color

Nose: ripe blackberries and cranberries

Taste: nutmeg spiciness and honey-grape sweetness

Finish: long and spicy

Overall Impression: this is a very nice wine and considering this is a left-bank Bordeaux priced at $20.00 per bottle this is a steal not to be passed up. I foresee this wine aging well and would love to see how it mellows after being cellared for about 5 years.

Food Pairing: pair with roasted duckling or another fatty bird

Overall Rating (out of 100): 88 points

Overall Value (1-5 stars): 5 stars

Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon

Again, When you uncork the bottle always take care to check the cork. A cork with a uniform red stain on the bottom indicates a wine which was properly stored on it's side. If the cork has no stain it means the wine was stored improperly upright, which will dry the cork out and spoil the wine

Vintage: 2008

Price per Bottle: $14.99

Producer: Nine North Wine Company

Region and Country: St. Helena, California

Grape Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon

Place and Date Purchased: Whole Foods Santa Monica 10/9/2011

Place and Date Tasted: Whole Foods Santa Monica 10/9/2011

Appearance: light cranberry red with strong legs, 14% alcohol by volume

Light Red Appearance

Nose: honeydew melon, night blooming Jasmine, orange zest, orange blossoms

Taste: jam-sweet, this wine tastes exactly like orange marmalade

Finish: long and progressively smoother

Overall Impression: I normally prefer wines who’s taste is an accurate reflection of the character of the grape used, however Chasing Lions is a rare exception. This is a nice, fruity, highly drinkable wine which could easily be drank on it’s own or paired with a number of foods.

Food Pairing: Creamy cheeses such as Brie, anything with orange in it, and pork.

Overall Rating (out of 100): 90

Overall Value (1-5 stars): 5 stars

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Hump Day Vices: Château Lalande, An Exceptional Value from Bordeaux

Château Lalande. Saint Julien-Becheville Bordeaux

Château Lalande is one of the most pleasantly surprising wines I’ve had the chance to taste in a long time. Coming from a region of France known for it’s exclusive, high-priced bottles many people are scared off by Bordeaux wines, and rightfully so. Well, the novice wine drinker and the well-drank wine snob can share equally in my delight for this bottle. Coming on the tail of the critically-acclaimed 2000 vintage, 2001 was a rainy year for Bordeaux lending the very light appearance and sublime quality of many of the 2001 bottles I’ve had. A decade of careful aging has tamed the spice and matured the grapy-sweetness of this wine and at $24.99 Château Lalande comes on the market as one of those very rare Bordeaux bargains. Do yourself a favor and grab a bottle…this is a value no wine lover should pass up.

Tasting Notes

Wine: Château Lalande

Vintage: 2001

Price Per Bottle: $24.99

Producer: Saint Julien-Bechevelle

Region and Country of Origin: France, Bordeaux: Left Bank, Saint Julien

Grape Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Place and Date Purchased: Whole Foods Market, 2201 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, October 4th 2011

Place and Date Purchased: Home, West Adams Los Angeles, October 5th 2011

Appearance: Cloudy, musky-looking cranberry red, strong legs (13% alcohol)

Don't let the cloudy appearance dissuade you.

Nose: Black currant, cassis, moist soil, anise jam or compote

Taste: warm spices, very round, mellow waves of fruit contrasted by alternating waves of balanced spice

Finish: Long, cinnamon-and-nutmeg-spice finish

Overall Impression: Don’t allow the appearance of the wine alarm you. This is a very, very nice wine which is easily drinkable on its own but would compliment venison or another kind of gamier meat very nicely. Coupled with a dish like Beef Wellington at Christmas this wine could prove magical. A ten year-old left-bank Bordeaux for $24.99 is practically unheard of making this wine an extremely good value when we take its quality into consideration.

Overall Rating (Out of 100): 90 points

Overall Value (1-5 Stars): 5 stars

Label details.


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Hump Day Vices: Gold Rum Mojitos

Cold, refreshing, and lethal!

To accompany yesterday evening’s Colombo I made several batches of gold rum mojitos. It was a hot day in Los Angeles yesterday and these cold, refreshing babies were just what I needed. Handily I received a package of Hawaiian souvenirs from my parents in the morning and had a Caribbean-themed menu planned for dinner.

This preparation diverges from the dumbed-down, sweet, white rum variety many are used to. These mojitos respect and highlight the flavor of the rum instead of masking it, and they’re more like a mint julep made with rum instead of bourbon. If you have a really nice rum on hand now is the time to utilize it! Enjoy!

Ingredients for two mojitos

1 cup of gold rum
4 mint leaves
The juice of two limes
One lime cut into wedges for garnish
Two teaspoons of cane sugar

How to Prepare

Begin by cutting one of your limes into 6 wedges, set aside.

Squeeze the juice from the two limes into a bowl. I use a simple wooden reamer for juicing, I find it to be the most effective tool for the purpose.

Strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve. There's nothing less appealing than seeds and pulp floating around in your cocktail

Measure out your rum. Thank you Mom and Dad for this delicious, top shelf bottle of Hawaiian rum!

Put two large mint leaves into each glass and sprinkle one teaspoon or so of cane sugar into the cup

Divide the lime juice between the two glasses over the sugar cane and mint

Divide the rum between the two glasses over the mint, sugar, and lime juice. Muddle vigorously with a spoon so that the sugar is completely dissolved and the mint leaves are thoroughly bruised, thus releasing the mint oil. Caution...muddle vigorously but not too vigorously. After two of these potent little cocktails I was a little overzealous in my muddling on number three and shattered one of my crystal highball glasses.

Add crushed ice to the top, squeeze a lime wedge over the drink, then drop the squeezed lime wedge on top to garnish and extract as the drink sits.

Settle in and enjoy many!

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