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1WineDude | A Serious Wine Blog for the Not-So-Serious Drinker

Vying For Napa’s Best Reds, By Way Of Hungary… Oh, And Bordeaux, Too (Kapcsandy Family Winery Recent Releases)

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HiYa! If you're new here, you may want to Sign Up to get all the latest wine coolness delivered to your virtual doorstep. I've also got short, easily-digestible mini wine reviews and some educational, entertaining wine vids. If you're looking to up your wine tasting IQ, check out my book How to Taste Like a Wine Geek: A practical guide to tasting, enjoying, and learning about the world's greatest beverage. Cheers!

“Our competition isn’t Napa Valley; it’s Bordeaux.”

That’s how Lou Kapcsandy sums up the goal of his 3,000 (ish) case production winery, a building that nestles up to about 15 acres of vineyard land that formerly went into Beringer’s `75 Private Reserve (“we purchased it in 2000 without them knowing anything about it,” he told me), and which might best be described as ‘polished-industrial.’

But that kind of upscale nondescript casing is fitting for the no-nonsense Kapcsandy, particularly when you consider that he’s a former chemical engineer and wine importer (not much use for flash in those endeavors).

But just wait until you get a load of what Hungarian-born Kapcsandy has going on in the vineyard and inside that Napa Valley production facility; you engineering types are gonna get a slice of geek heaven out of this.

Let’s start with the land: the Kapcsandy’s had 34 (!) pits dug into the vineyard for analysis, concluding that “literally within fifty yards, the growing conditions are different” on the heavy clay-ladden former riverbed. “At one point,” according to Kapcsandy, “it was 118.5F in the vineyard; the next morning, the same spot was 50F.” NASA-style satellite imagery was employed, convincing them to plant the vineyard along a magnetic north-south orientation, and dense plantings. Fruit is dropped, pesticides are avoided when possible, and generally Lou Kapcsandy frowns a lot when talking about “”what he calls “vineyard gymnastics.”

The results are mostly red blends that, in my experience, stand up to Napa’s best (and particularly shine come Premiere Napa Valley time – those tastings are what prompted my visit to the Kapcsandy’s in the first place). Expensive, for sure, but ludicrously good. Which is why I am waxing poetic about them here in the first place, of course.

So… yeah, let’s geek out on the in-winery stuff now…

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Win Tickets To #RiojaWeek Tapas Fest 2014 In NYC!

Vinted on April 15, 2014 under giveaways, wine industry events

Two words: Jamon Galleria.

That’s just one of the culinary delights that you can experience at the upcoming Rioja Week Tapas Fest and Grand Tasting taking place at Weylin B. Seymour’s in Brooklyn, NY on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 1PM ET. The event will also feature a Casa de Tapas, a Paella and Vino Garden, a Cheese Cave, and something like 200 Rioja wines.

And three of you are going to get to go for free. Who loves ya, baby?!?

I’m excited to tell you that this month I’ve got a (paying) gig with Rioja Wines in which I will be taking part in Tapas Fest in NYC (mostly as a panel moderator for both geekified and introduction-style panel sessions about Rioja wine) as well as hosting a #RiojaBuzz Tweet Chat on April 24th at 8:30pm EST/5:30pm PST (during which we’ll start tasting through some Rioja goodness in lip-smacking anticipation of the NYC event).

I’ll naturally not be formally reviewing any Rioja juice here on 1WD until after that gig has ended. And at this point I’m not sure if I’m in it more for the excitement of how awesome this NYC event is going to be (I’ve seen the insider details on the culinary coolness that will be on hand, and my keyboard is wet from the Pavlovian salivation responses), the fact that I am getting paid, or just the chance to taste Rioja jamon again. Anyway, check out the crazy lineup for this event and you’ll see what I mean.

Now, me being me, I kind of forced my hand with the amiable Rioja Wine folks in order to get some of you at this event (you know, for moral support and all that)! So three lucky 1WD readers will get two tickets each to the Tapas Fest on May 3 at 1PM ET, along with a groovy gift bag of food-related goodies (see inset pic, total value about $150).

Wanna shot at winning? Here’s the skinny…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For April 14, 2014

Vinted on April 14, 2014 under wine mini-reviews

So, like, what is this stuff, anyway?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 10 Fields Family Big Red (Lodi): Big indeed, on tasty refreshment; and surely a friend of CA-styled grilled meat fare everywhere. $22 B >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Not suffering fools; if U are impatient, it thinks U a fool. $85 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Delicious Man is tight-lipped, but he will save the day. In about 5 years. $60 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Cornerstone Cellars Stepping Stone Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Menage-a-trois of dark fruit, tasty herbs & dark chocolate. $45 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 09 Rafael Reverte Cistum (Navarra): Dark fruits as graphite stone masons, working only by hand & laying it down totally old school. $15 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Mathis Grenache (Sonoma Valley): Muscle and herbs, brightness and heft, brains and brawn, sweet and sour, supple and spicy. $32 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Mathis Grenache (Sonoma Valley): For all its brooding savoriness, it’s still talking fresh, sweet, tart and textual when cornered. $30 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Bodega Garzon Sauvignon Blanc (Uruguay): Pungent, tropical fruits that are seeking greener pastures, & more or less finding them. $17 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Bodega Garzon Albarino (Uruguay): Apricot eyes, tangerine muscles, jasmine hair, & an overall impressive display of lifting power. $17 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Elena Walch Gewurztraminer (Alto Adige): Lychee, with a can of petrol, a blow torch, an attitude, and out looking for a good time. $18 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Elena Walch Kastelaz Gewurztraminer (Alto Adige): Buxomly beautiful, intellectually interesting, and vibrant in conversation. $32 A- >>find this wine<<

Returning To Hades (Highlights From New Hampshire Wine Week 2014)

Vinted on April 10, 2014 under on the road, wine industry events, wine review

Remember when I said I was heading to New Hampshire Wine Week (as a media guest)? That was back in February, and, yes, I am just now getting around to talking about it.

I’d love to tell you that delay is due to me being stupid amounts of busy (which I am), but it’s not. The delay is total aww-man-I-don’t-wanna-have-to-write-this-term-paper procrastination. Why? Because writing about NH’s consumer-facing wine event requires facing my own personal hell, which is having built a life in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and then becoming a wine lover, and having to deal with the PA Liquor Control Board.

Now, NH is also a control state, with the NHLC acting as both wholesaler and retailer for distilled liquor and wine. But NH’s progressive take on being a control state – which is driven almost entirely by the fact that it has competition, with half of its business comes from cross-border states – further solidifies PA’s status as the f*cking North Korea of U.S. wine and spirits shopping experiences. As one NHLC exec told me, “We give selection and price, and now we need to focus on service to complete the circle,” which I can basically tell you is indeed happening, after having spent time there reviewing how they stack up to PA. From profitability (all of their stores turned a profit last year) to shipping (>1K direct shippers) to associate training to wine selection/availability (14K SKUs) to fees / taxes (roughly 8%), NH makes PA look like what it really is, the single worst state in the Union in which to buy wine.

So… coming back to PA from NH is like returning to hades. It’s like the end of 2112 where that dude finds the guitar in the cave and the Priests tell him to get bent on his music and he dreams of a more progressive future and then kills himself in despair (since this came out in the `70s, I’m not considering that a spoiler), only without the suicide though with the Prog Rock (because I was listening to awesome, angry King Crimson music on the ride home). In NH, I have seen a system that, while not perfect (hey, we’re still talking about the government being involved in private enterprise, which is bizarre at its core), is like a dreamy glimpse at what PA ought to be, what it could be if only the PLCB gave a stale rat’s ass about anyone actually making, buying, or drinking wine (when only the middlemen benefit, you know the system is totally broken).

So, before I get depressed enough to grab an acoustic and head off to a cave, let’s talk about a happier topic: namely, the juice being poured at NH Wine Week 2014…

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