PorcupineRidge_Syrah_2008 From Bryan Calandrelli: Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2008

I'm usually picky when it comes to syrah. In the past I've pretty much stuck to Northern Rhone, Washington State or Chilean efforts.

For better or for worse I've avoided anything called shiraz just because I'm as close to a cool climate snob as anyone I know.

This bottle of Porcupine Ridge 2008 Syrah from South Africa isn't something I would normally pick up, but our fellow correspondent's (Julia's) plan to intern a South African grape harvest made the region much more interesting.

Although this one listed at 14.5% ABV, I gave it the benefit of the doubt as they named it syrah insinuating it had more in common with Crozes Hermitage than Australia.

It has aggressive aromas of cherry and raspberry fruits, with clove and smoked meat. It is plush while still rustic mouth feel makes for an interesting syrah. With great balance and an expansive finish, I was surprised on how fun this wine is to drink even though the meat flavor reminded me of blood.

Overall this wine is a good mix of old and new world. For $10, I'd suggest it for holiday get-togethers and parties. It would make a great conversion starter with my wine geek friends.

Photo From Evan Dawson: Guinness Draught from a bottle

Take a close look at the picture. It wasn't the rocket widget
clanging around the inside of this bottle that got my attention. It was
the fact that this was a bottle of beer offering 11.2 ounces, not the
standard 12.

My initial take was outrage. I
discovered that this Guinness bottle has been around for eight years,
and so I'm sure I've never thought to check the label before.

what's the reason? I could only find some vague references to a "cool
new package." Yes, cool as in, "makes the company tons of cash."
Remember when CBS' Andy Rooney hammered coffee makers for repeatedly
reducing the amount of coffee you got in the same package? I do: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/03/07/60minutes/rooney/main543240.shtml

I wondered what would happen if a wine company decided it was time to
start selling bottles of 725 ML. Would most customers notice?

For every
30 bottles sold they'd have saved themselves an extra bottle of wine to
sell. Sigh.

This is going to happen, isn't it? Someone is probably
going to jump into the comments to inform me: It already has.

SaumurFrom Lenn Thompson: Chateau du Hureau 2005 Saumur-Champigny

Even when I'm not drinking New York wine, you'll often find cabernet franc in my glass — usually from the Loire Valley. When I drink cab franc, I want cab franc, not wines that are trying to be cabernet sauvignon — beaten with oak and overly extracted.

So, as the snow dumped on Long Island over the weekend, I was sipping this wine from a well-respected producer (recommended by a guy who knows the Loire better than I do). 

It was just what I was looking for, too. 

Sometimes people ask me about good versus bad "green" in cabernet franc and this wine is a perfect illustration. Dark berry fruit leads the way, but with subtle spice, a little note of earthy dried leaves and green herbal qualities, it's everything I dig in cabernet franc.

The green here is distinctly herbs, not bell pepper or other vegetables. That's the key.

On day two, this wine had broadened quite a bit, becoming much more mouthfilling and with a minerally, almost rocky-metallic note joining the fray.

I don't have much experience aging wines like this, but I think the other three bottles are going to sit in my cellar for a while. Should be fun to check in every couple of years.