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

A Hungarian With Serious Stones (István Szepsy Recent Releases)

Vinted on October 23, 2014 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, wine review
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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!

István Szepsy…

…is a Hungarian man with serious stones.

And he will gladly show them to you, if you ask. Actually, I think he might show them to you even if you don’t ask. He has them laid out on his front porch; dozens of them, organized by 21 different dulo (basically akin to climat). Of course, since we are talking about István Szepsy, not all of the dulo areas represented by his stony display are official; some are his own classifications, harkening back to a map of Tokai region parcels that dates back to 1816. Sixty percent of the holdings are recognized as first class vineyards under the current classification system in Tokaji.

At this point, we should pause and set up a bit of context for you: En route to my visit, my Hungarian handler (himself a winemaker and wine critic) introduced Szepsy like this: “I am now taking you to see the best winemaker… in the world!” So expectations were kind of high by the time we pulled up (late, of course – hey, we were in Hungary, after all! – with the small man himself waiting somewhat impatiently outside the gate) to Szepsy’s estate in the town of Mád.

History suggests that Szepsy should know what he’s doing when it comes to crafting wine in Tokaji: his family has been making wine in the region since (at least) the late 16th century. István Szepsy senior managed to hide a small independent vineyard parcel from the ruling Communists until the 1970s, so it’s not difficult to imagine how István junior got his independent streak. During the socialist regime, he planted about four hectares of his own vineyards, delivering the yield to the state combine until the ruling party changed in 1990.

Since then, Szepsy has pretty much focused obsessively on quality wine production without looking back: out of 52 hectares of plantings, less than 50,000 bottles are made. It’s now a total family business, and no second wines are made (whatever doesn’t make the cut is sold out in bulk). As Szepsy told me, “it’s a very fragile balance economically.” I doubt too many would want to try to get this guy to change his mind, though.

Back to the guy’s stones…

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Think Wine Criticism Is B.S.? Then You Need To Reject All Forms Of Criticism

Vinted on October 21, 2014 binned in commentary

Every once in a while, when I tell people what I do for a living, I get a sort of snickering question along the lines of “does it bother you that part of what you do is total bullsh*t?”

These folks are usually referring to the studies, quoted by lazy media outlets ad nauseum, that purportedly debunked wine tasting as bull honkey when “expert” wine folk were given white wines with red food coloring and tricked into thinking that they were tasting red wines.

But what those snickering folks fail to realize is that wine criticism and professional wine tasting are no different than every other form of experiential criticism – movie reviewing, restaurant critiquing, you name it – in that they are the attempts of fallible humans to garner expertise and disperse helpful opinions to the best of their abilities while trying to overcome the ingrained perception wiring that helped us evolutionarily, but hinder us when it comes to consistent, robot-like precision.

To wit: my friend Alder Yarrow recently blogged about a study featured in the New Yorker, in which participants were tricked into thinking that fake tongues were their own, taste perceptions and all. Yes, seriously. Read it, the results and implications are fascinating.

I doubt we’ll see much lazy media attention on this study, however, because it would logically require those same lazy media to start asking people like Alder and me what wines pair best with crow sandwich…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For October 20, 2014

Vinted on October 20, 2014 binned in 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!

  • 12 Domaine La Roquete Blanc Chateauneuf Du Pape (Chateauneuf Du Pape): Probably not a keeper. But… hot damn, is it sexy right now! $60 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Conde Villar Vinho Verde Rose (Vinho Verde): Espadeiro that's sparing none of the crowd-pleasing, party-enducing strawberry fun. $9 B- >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Laetitia Estate Whole Cluster Pinot Noir (Arroyo Grande Valley): Oh, man, the whole cluster haters are really gonna be upset now. $40 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Tenuta Campo di Sasso Insoglio del cinghiale (Toscana): Something chewy this way comes; just leave your pre-judgments at the door. $30 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio & Verduzzo (Venezia): PG gets more of a PG-13 treatment in which the vibrancy afterburners get turned on $13 B >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Sanctuary Usibelli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Rutherford ): Has stuffing enough to suggest its adornments aren't superficial. $40 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Moniker Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino County): Like things aggressive? Then pull up some leather, light a stogie & grab a licorice $30 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Moniker Pinot Noir (Mendocino County): The sweet tea and pithy citrus are tasty, but this conversation is kind of going nowhere. $30 B >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Moniker Chardonnay (Mendocino County): You got the peaches I got the cream… & I might need to loose a couple of pounds, maybe. $23 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 08 Glenelly Grand Vin de Glenelly (Stellenbosch): Further proof that bacon goes well with anything, including, in this case, cigars. $27 B+ >>find this wine<<

Born In The USA (My American Wine Scene Wine Picks For Italy’s Civilta del bere Magazine)

Vinted on October 16, 2014 binned in going pro, wine publications

I’m not sure that we need any more proof that I am an idiot workaholic, but last week a wine magazine hit the newsstands in Italy with yet more evidence in support of that.

During a (very) busy late Spring, I was contacted by my friend and co-judge in the 2013 Argentina Wine Awards, the Milan-born Alessandro Torcoli, who is the managing director of Civilta del bere. The pages of Cdb (loosely translated as “Culture of drink”) have been gracing the hands of wine and food lovers in Italy since 1974.

Alessandro wanted to know if I’d pen a feature for Cdb on the wine scene in America. “Which wine scene in America?” was my initial response, to which he more-or-less replied “all of them.” Capturing the trends and current happenings of all of the most important wine regions in the U.S. just seemed a challenge too cool to turn down, so I said yes. A crap-ton of work then ensued (I am over 40 now, so the chances that I will someday learn not to accept these workloads is probably approaching zero).

The finished article is now available (in Italian, of course, thanks to Alessandro’s translation), and it looks great (hopefully the text lives up to the presentation!). What was probably the most difficult part of the assignment was coming up with a list of thirty wines that I thought served as both an introduction to American wine, and as a faithful representation of American wine trends overall.

That part was… well, “ridiculously hard” seems somewhat appropriate. For sh*ts and giggles, I’m presenting the final list of those selected wines below. It’s certainly California/Pacific NW-heavy, but when you consider the fact that those regions account for well over 90% of all of the wine produced in the U.S., any other approach would’ve been totally disingenuous to the spirit of the article. I am quite sure that I will piss off no small number of the wine world with these selections, and most criticism that I failed to include wine/region/trend such-and-such will no doubt have some justifications. Against my better judgment, I have included short blurbs on why I choose the wines that I did.

As always, I welcome your flaming comments!

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