Carmen-Stevens Shiraz 2017  South Africa

I have never been a fan of mail order wine clubs. The general scheme is to purchase lots of wine in the open market, attach a label and sell the wine as a low production unique opportunity. Most of these wines I have tasted are average at best and most are inferior. However, a friend brought me a bottle of this the other night and I was impressed. He purchased it through Naked Wines, a mail order plan with a different twist. Naked Wines asks the consumer to commit to a monthly contribution which they use to fund an aspiring or small wine producer. Most of these are families who could not otherwise acquire the capital to start a winery, sort of a “Go Fund Me” for winemakers. For this commitment ,the subscribers get a variety of wines shipped to them.

I have not had South African wines for a while because the dominant grape was Pinotage which was not particularly enticing. Also their labor practices were questionable even after apartheid. However, I was impressed by this wine. Shiraz is the Australian name for Syrah, the most prominent grape in the Rhone Valley of France. It is one of the most affordable of French wines. The Australians like to make this wine big, bold, and ready to drink. Picture a steak on the grill and a glass of Shiraz. Carmen-Stevens is a vivacious lady who makes this Shiraz in a balance of Australian richness and French elegance. She was the first black lady to become a winemaker in South Africa. It has a nice deep purple color (it’s only a year and a half old), with a nice fruity complexity. It’s very balanced black cherry flavor, matches with a nice complexity and good body. The finish is smooth and enjoyable.

Most Syrahs  exhibit a peppery spicy character but this does not. Not a fault, just worth noting. Great value at $8.99 to members.



Josh Cellars Chardonnay 2016

Josh is my favorite wine producer under $15. This Chardonnay is typical of their style with moderate body, nuanced flavors, and balanced mouth feel. Enjoyed it with swordfish and it did not disappoint. It had just enough acidity to match and integrate the lemon butter sauce as well as the richness of the fish. App. $12.00.

Sharky’s on the Pier , Venice   10/11/18

Not one of my favorite restaurants, but my wife thought we should try it for Sarasota Restaurant Week. I personally prefer Fins at Sharkys but found it to be closed for lunch. So we tried Sharky’s. Unfortunately it was not participating in restaurant week. The main reason I didn’t like it was the noise and the unkempt condition. Those are now only worse. It may be “right on the water” but I like a clean restaurant. Having spent many years visiting countless restaurants, I can sense a dirty place. That’s why I would not eat inside. Now you have to deal with countless pigeons that roam freely around and under your table.

Anyway, I ordered Mahi Mahi Tacos which were small but enjoyable.  I also ordered two glasses of Sterling Sauvignon Blanc which is usually dependable but seemed to have more citrus character than usual, When I received the check I noticed 2 glasses of “The Seeker”. I asked the waitress about it and she explained they were out of the Sterling so they substituted The Seeker. I asked why and she said “they’re very close”. Come on. Another reaon to avoid this place.