For those of you not (yet!) following along with my Northern Italian gig at My Name is Barbera, the second installment in the video series there is now available.
In this episode, I talk about the dreaded “T” word – terroir – with respect to the unique landscape of the region, to the backdrop of what you will see is one of the more beautiful wine-growing locations on planet Earth (see inset pic above for a sense of scope/scale/beauty/landscape-diversity).
I also squint. A lot. I’m blaming the sunshine. And the majesty of the surroundings. And maybe a lack of coffee at the time of filming. But I’m not blaming excessive Barbera consumption…
Anyway, you can check out the vid below, and head over to the My Name is Barbera website proper for my more long-form takes on the region, as well as articles written by European wine scribe Anton Moiseenko.
Monferrato Moves 2: Terroir Monferrato
On Valentine’s Day last week, Fix.com published, appropriately, what amounts to my little Valentine to what might be the red-headed-step-child of dessert wines right now, Ice Wine.
Hell, even the once-totally-ignored sweet Sherries are cooler now than Ice Wine (see what I did there?).
Personally, I have a sweet tooth, which probably explains my borderline-obsession with the dessert section of the fine wine store shelves. Ice wine is the kind of thing over which wine geeks have wet dreams: it’s unique, intense, and usually only available in tiny quantities because it’s such a pain in the friggin’ ass to produce well. Actually, I think that you might need to be at least a little bit insane – like, not-quite-normal, a-little-touched-in-the-head, sure-I’ll-play-ice-hockey-goalie or sure-I’ll-be-a-rock-drummer insane – to actually want to harvest grapes for ice wine.
The short-shrift given to Ice Wine, even in some of the most storied wine books, kind of fills me with an unhealthy rage (it’s okay, I’m over it). The closest thing that I’ve found to my feelings regarding the stuff – particularly the Canadian stuff – in written equivalent comes from Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible (which I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting here):
“…the greatest Canadian icewines posses an almost otherworldly contrapuntal tension between acidity and sweetness, making drinking them an ethereal sensation. That’s saying it in an intellectual way. But here’s the kin-in-you version: You’ll want to lick the bowl.”
It’s exactly right; she’s exactly right.
It’s not often that you get a combination of such intense, pure fruit expression, sugar, and raging acid. Those only come by way of the world’s best dessert wine experiences, in which I would unabashedly the best offerings of icewines from the nation of Terrence and Phillip, and the eiswines of Germany and Austria. The northern U.S. territories making Ice/Iced Wines probably aren’t quiiiiiite there yet, but they are catching up quickly, and are absolutely quick studies. And don’t laugh too much at the dessert wines made from artificially frozen grapes, folks, because I’ve had a spate of them lately that would make you rethink writing off some of those beauties.
The infographic summary of the article is available below after the jump, but there’s quite a bit of text for you to scan quickly on your phone while pretending to be reading it, covering the difference between Ice Wine and Iced Wine in the USA, Eiswein in Germany versus that of Austria, and testifying my love of the glorious Icewines of the Great White North.
Read the rest of this stuff »
- 15 Chilensis Reserva Pinot Noir (Maule Valley): Tobacco, tea, and red berries, wrapped up into a pithy Summer-sipping package. $10 B
- 11 Vina VIK (Millahue): Juicy, complex, polished, ripe & structured… and not at all afraid to flaunt its pedigree in high fashion. $145 A-
- 12 Keenan Napa Valley Merlot (Napa Valley): You can like them big. Or you can like them balanced. Or, you could actually have both. $40 A-
- NV Stone and Key Cellars Iced Orange Muscat (Central Valley): Maybe too laid back, but the pretty blood orange is hard to resist. $40 B+
- 14 Stone and Key Cellars Obsidian (Yakima Valley): Dark fruit worthy of the name, though the violets show that it has a tender side. $32 B+
- 13 Stone and Key Cellars Lake County Syrah Reserve (Lake County): Like your reds with texture? Then here’s juicy little number for ya $30 B+
- 12 Salwey Henkenberg Grosses Gewaechs Spatburgunder Trocken (Baden): Packs a hell of a vibrant – though stemmy – punch for coin. $26 B+
- 14 Trefethen Chardonnay (Oak Knoll District): Apricot lovers – & lovers of historical perspective in Napa – won’t be disappointed $36 A-
- 15 Siduri Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley): Perfectly at home with homemade pizza; or just hanging by itself. $30 B+
- NV Willm Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose (Alsace): Nothing here but a bubbly bottle full of chipper, delightful, delicate delicousness. $20 B+
Here’s another entry in the monthly series in which I review the samples that I cannot drink without being admitted to the hospital.
First up, we have a long-form Johnson. Hugh Johnson, that is, who I would posit is the world’s greatest living wine writer. Mitchell Beazley has put together the 256-page collection Hugh Johnson on Wine: Good Bits from 55 Years of Scribbling (about $20). And if this is what Johnson considers “scribbling,” then the state of wine writing today, in the wake of his assumed retirement from the genre, is somewhat sad indeed (except for the “somewhat” part, that is).
Hugh Johnson on Wine is a collection of Johnson’s wine essays stretching back to the 1960s; as such, it functions in part as a sort of retrospective on the development of the modern worldwide wine industry, as viewed through the lens of his wit and prose (he has few equals with respect to either). One of the most entertaining aspects of the book are the margin notes, which Johnson annotates in his typically dry, erudite fashion from the perspective of his current, older self. In other words, the book is a gem for lovers of wine, and appreciators of dry British wit.
Second, there’s the Wine Aerator Decanter Vacuum Preserver, Foil Cutter, & Accessories By Artick (about $21). I know what you’re thinking: the last thing that we need is another f*cking wine aerator!!! And you’re right. Having said that, I can actually recommend this little accessories collection, primarily because it is, actually, a collection of accessories.
Now, none of the items in this lineup are particularly excellent, and none of them are of the very highest quality levels (the filter for the top of the aerator in my sample was slightly damaged, though still safely usable). None of the Artick accessories in this package perform at the top tier, either. Having said that, all of them do work, and work pretty well. They’re also easy to clean, simple to use, and relatively easy to transport.
So, for the price of about one aerator, you’re getting a nice little group of ad-ons, making this a pretty good choice for folks who don’t yet have any of these types of gadgets, and don’t plan on giving them more than a medium-high level of use.