Archive for February, 2008
Greetings from PA, where we are digging out after a bout of winter weather; not the worst we’ve seen by a long shot, but the first significant winter storm we’ve seen all season – very, very late for these parts. I’m not going to jump the gun and blame global warming just yet… but… you gotta wonder…
Speaking of Global Warming
Wine Spectator reported this week on “The Gore-ical” giving the wine industry props for its efforts to Go Green, thus helping to preserve the environment and stave off some of our contribution to turning the Earth into a hothouse. I recently gave props to Domaine547 for going green, so we’ve got some good examples where this is impacting the thinking all the way through the wine retail chain. But so far, no one has called me the Dude-ical.
I got my first real in-yo-face close up with global warming in Samburu, Kenya a few years ago. One afternoon while staying at the Elephant Watch Camp, we hiked up the river. Literally, up the river – as in, walking up the middle of the river. This was very easy because there was no water from the higher elevations to actually fill the river bed, because the ‘short rains’ never came. The locals explained to me how this was possibly linked to global warming, and as I watched the animals dig like mad to get themselves a drink, I decided that I wanted to punch anyone that told me that global warming was bullsh*t in the face. Not that Dude is an angry person…
Don’t Get Mad, Get Quoted
While we’re doling out props, let’s give some down-home Dude praise to Tom Wark, who was quoted (yet again!) by Business Wire this week in his fight against the monopolist practices in wine distribution. Anyone who thinks that the wine distributors’ claim that they are maintaining their monopoly to keep alcohol out of the mouths of minors is anything more than a greedy witch hunt needs to check out Tom’s blog.
“The American alcohol distributors’ calls for shutting down all direct to consumer wine shipments is a self-serving ruse demonstrated by the fact that if they really cared about minor access to wine, they would call for the shutting down of the channel of sales through which minors are most likely to obtain alcohol: brick and mortar alcohol sales. Rather, we only hear calls to shut down direct shipment of wine, the channel through which distributors don’t make money.“
(Even More) Power to the People!
Decanter reported that two self-published works picked up U.K. Andre Simon book prizes. That gives some very serious street cred to the self publishing phenomenon (and maybe even to the Wine 2.0 movement). Oh, yeah – the books were also from U.S. authors (whew-hew!).
She’s So… Heeeeeavy….
Speaking of Decanter, and the U.K., the likes of Jancis Robinson and Oz Clarke railed out against a trend from luxury winemakers to bottle wines in what they (Jancis & Oz, not the winemakers) claim are needlessly heavy bottles. Score another hit for the movement against climate change, since heavier bottles = more energy to ship + higher shipping costs (passed on to you and me who are buying the stuff).
Speaking of Weights…
Those of us who brave the epicurean world to bring you our take on food & wine will undoubtedly want to check out this article from the Times online, which details how critics, chefs, and others in the food industry fight the after-effects of their foodie passions. Considering that wine doesn’t have fat, but does have calories (mostly from its alcohol content), us wine bloggers & wine drinkers should take note. The good news is, we’re not alone! Now, go get on that treadmill.
Ancient Land, New Wines
The Wall Street Journal posted a fascinating piece this week on the quality revolution underway in Israel’s wine industry. Dude had an opportunity to taste some Israeli wine not too long ago during a visit in London, and he was mighty impressed. Watch this space, we could be seeing some exciting stuff as this very old world land makes some new-world styled wines.
A Moment of Silence
This past week we mourned the loss of Jamie Davis, co-founder of Schramsberg Vineyards. Jamie Davis was a pioneer, a bit like the Robert Mondavi of American sparkling wine.
That’s all for now. Until next week’s edition – cheers!
The Main Domaine
For some time now, I’ve been digging the blog stylings of 1WineDude.com friend Jill over at domaine547.com. The domain457 on-line wine store has recently gone green, which is a move always viewed favorably by the Dude. Not that my opinion on green livin’ matters in the grand scheme of things. But it’s worth some props!
One of the especially cool things about an on-line wine retailer that also participates actively in wine blogging, is that they can leverage the knowledge of the “wine blogosphere collective hive mind” to construct a killer wine selection. Not sure if anyone is also considering leveraging the knowledge of the “wine blogosphere collective hive mind” to attempt an evil plan at world domination, but if I hear about that, I will definitely blog it (but it will probably still only get, like, at most 3 diggs…).
Anyway, constructing a killer wine selection is exactly what domaine547 has done. Case in point: they’ve got a special category in their product line up called Wine Blogger Sampler Packs. These packs are made up of wines recommended by the wine blogging community, including selections from the likes of BrooklynGuy Loves Wine. Some very intriguing stuff is in them there packs; wish I could order some and have them delivered to PA… but… alas…
domaine547 is kindly offering a 5% discount to 1WineDude.com readers – so check out their store and take advantage of the savings! (Use coupon code “dude” during checkout).
Wine 2.0 in Yo Face
Oh, got another tidbit for ya: this week has seen the launch of a wine-peeps facebook-style online community called the OpenWine Consortium. I signed up as user #20-something. Their now up to 200+ members in only a few days – explosive growth.
It’s a great mish-mash of wine consultants, wine industry folks, wineries, wine bloggers, and wine lovers. New groups / discussions are popping up like mad, such as this one for WSET students (wish I’d had access to that kind of brain power when I took my WSET exams!). Check it out – join up and get yerself a little bit of Wine 2.0!
(images: davidzinger.wordpress.com, elsnoozo.blogspot.com, history.com, aceface.com)
It’s been said in some Eastern traditions that to be born a human is a rare event. To be a human and to question the source of life (to become a Seeker) is rarer still. And rarest of all is to seek and find your guru, the way to enlightenment.
Well, I’ve had many gurus in my life. My dog, for example, has taught me a lot (including how to better smell my wine). Wine itself can be one of your life gurus, if you only take the time to pay attention to what it has to tell you.
“Reality is an illusion that occurs due to a lack of wine.”
Inspired in part by a recent post in Zen Habits, below are 20 things about life that I’ve learned – from drinking wine. I fully expect that the list will grow, as my life journey of wine appreciation continues – but who knows, sometimes I’m stubborn, and I’m also prone to forget stuff, so I’d better share these now!
Roll up with me, if you will, and let’s enjoy together a glass of ‘Zen Wine‘…
20 Things About Life I’ve Learned From Drinking Wine
1) Old is Beautiful
Anyone caught up in our youth-worshiping culture need only to crack open a well-kept aged classified Bordeaux, taking in all of its complex aromas & flavors, to realize that not only do good things come to those who wait, but time offers the gift of real beauty to those who age with grace and humility.
2) Young is Beautiful
Fruit bombs can be fun – there’s something refreshing about the forward brashness of youth. If you want to stay young at heart, you need to keep a bit of youthful bravado, through thick & thin.
3) Nature matters
Start with a crappy vine, and you could end up with crappy wine. Start with a great old vine, and you’ve got a better chance of making some killer vino. We need to remember our roots – if you don’t really know where you’re starting from, you might not be able to get where you want to go!
4) Nurture matters, too
Just as good wine needs a caring hand in its development, we need to seek out strong role models and a positive environment to reach our best in life.
5) Real change comes from within
A great wine starts with a decent pedigree, loving hands during its formative time (fermentation, etc.), and a good environment in which to mature. After that, all the magic happens within the bottle with virtually no exposure to the ‘outside’ world. Like a great wine, once we’re given what we need to succeed in life, the rest is up to us!
6) The greatest pleasure is being in the moment
Pour, swirl, sniff, sip. If you want to get the most out of tasting a wine, you need to let yourself BE, clearing your mind and just accepting everything that the wine has to offer. In other words, you need to be in the moment. Tasting wine is a sacred act – just like walking the dog, getting married, making love, or reading the newspaper. All of our actions become minor miracles in the universe when we give ourselves up to them completely.
7) People & relationships matter more than stuff
We get just as much pleasure from sharing a good wine with good friends as we do tasting that good wine. Wine is a lubricant for life – not a substitute for it. The objects in your life should be used for your life (and not the other way around).
8) Sharing is caring
A friend of mine called me recently, telling me how excited he was that he would be pouring magnums of `60s Ch. Petrus at a dinner, and that he would probably get a chance to taste some of this amazing stuff. Why did he call? “I needed to tell someone who would appreciate it!” he said. The better things in life, like wine, are best when they’re shared.
9) One size does not fit all
I don’t like Retsina. In fact, I hate Retsina. But there are people out there who love it. And both are totally OK. There are over 7,000 brands of wine available to consumers in the U.S. – and that’s AWESOME. Because variety (especially of varietals!) really is the spice of life.
10) We have a duty to ‘Go Green‘
Wine is arguably the best and most artistic interpretation of the bounty that the earth has to offer us (the French terrior concept shows that they figured this out a long time ago!). We owe a debt to mother nature to be sustainable and nurture her as she has done for us (and hopefully will do for our children).
11) Looks can be deceiving
Girlfriends of mine used to buy bottles of wine because they had pretty labels. And a lot of them sucked. Don’t judge based on appearances – eventually, it will burn you.
12) Not everyone ages gracefully
I’ve tasted decades-old Barolos that were still tannic. I’ve tasted aged Rieslings that smelled more like vinegar than flowers & petrol. Some people just get crotchety and negative, and they’re best avoided.
13) All things in moderation
I’ve tasted a lot of wine. Sometimes a lot of wine in one night. And sometimes, I’ve hugged some toilets. Trust me, things are best when they’re not overdone!
14) A place for everything, & everything in its place
You can’t age wine just anywhere, and having the right storage system makes keeping wine a hell of a lot easier. Life is smoother and more tranquil when you remove clutter from your surroundings (and your mind).
15) The best views come from the toughest climbs
The most beautiful views usually come from the highest peaks, and you’re going to need to do some difficult climbing to see them. Most of the best wine on earth is picked, sorted, and managed by hand – made even more difficult when done from steep hillsides at high altitudes. A labour of love & passion may not be easy, but it usually gets you the best of what life has to offer.
16) Sometimes we need to be challenged to show our best
Better wines come from better fruit, and better fruit comes from vines that are stressed (for water, nutrients, etc.). When we are challenged, we grow. And when we step up to the challenges of life, we really know what we’re made of.
17) You are what you eat (& drink)
If a wine is fed bad water, on bad soil, and doused with pesticides, it’s probably going to turn out bad. Which is why you should never drink plonk if you can avoid it. Also – never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t drink! Our bodies are not that different and they don’t take well to being fed lousy eats. Eat food, mostly vegetables, not too much. Give your body the best chance it can have, by giving it the best food you can get.
18) “The secret to being a bore is to tell everything”
Wines that don’t have much complexity can get really boring, really quickly. Wines that evolve over time in the glass, revealing layer upon layer of aromas and flavors, are among the world’s most exciting. Leave a bit of mystery to life, and to yourself – not everything can be explained, and not everything is worth explaining.
19) Never stop learning
If you want to appreciate wine, you will need to learn a bit of science, geography, history, biology, chemistry… I’m sure you get the point. As Ghandi said, “live as if you will die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever.”
20) Your greatest asset is Patience
If you want to taste a wine aged to perfection, then you need to wait and let it age to perfection, undisturbed, without your meddling. Lao Tzu asked if you have the patience to wait until the ‘muddy water’ of your mind is clear.
And as Pete Townshend asked “Well… do ya?!?“
1WineDude.com readers are smarter, funnier, more talented, and in all likelihood more attractive than I am. I say this because:
- I am arguably an impish gnome with a half-baked palate trying to earn an honest living from near-constant drinking (curse you, Zane Lamprey – you stole my job!), and
- I have received incontrovertible proof of how awesome 1WineDude.com readers are.
Long-time Dude friend and 1WineDude.com reader WillyBouy (a.k.a., WeeRee-San) has rewritten my twitter wine Mini-Reviews…
…As haiku! And they’re better than my original reviews! Just try this example on for size – let’s compare my original with WillyBouy’s reworked version:
`06 Sauvignon Republic Sauvignon Blanc (Russian River Valley): Just not into this wine. Citrus and tropical fruits, but what’s w/ the toast?
`06 Sauvignon Republic Sauvignon Blanc (Russian River Valley):
why does toast surprise
the citrus, tropical fruits?
Climbing out of here.
And my personal favorite –
’06 Misterio Malbec (Argentina):
Coats yer palate like smokey black fruit tar. A steal at $7
’06 Misterio Malbec (Argentina):
palate is soothed
smokey black fruit tar
wallet is still fat!
Classic! Read on for more excellent haiku versions. Thanks, WillyBouy!
’05 Bracco Chianti Classico (Italy):
still struggles to find her voice
– reduced, overpriced.
`06 Touraine Sauvignon La Pointe Domaine Ricard:
pink grapefruit grenade
launched from the valley loire
tingles the nose bright.
`05 La Crema Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast, CA):
red berry hinting smoke
tasting great in the moment
is there a future?
’00 Ch. de Sales (Pomerol, Fr):
a mouse in the house
– supple velvety red fruit
leaves no worries.
’06 Misterio Malbec (Argentina):
palate is soothed
smokey black fruit tar
wallet is still fat!
`04 Quintessa Cab (Rutherford, CA):
fruit as black as night
finishing suburb complex
lay your money down.
`05 Bon Cap Cab Sav (Robertson, SA):
softly the blind feel
red currants dance free
– organic bliss now.
NV Perrier-Jouet Fleur de Chapagne (Epernay, Fr):
apple pear bubbles
burst in nose with toasty spice
– heart leaping joyous!
`05 Le Premier Pas Domaine Le Pas de l’Escalette (Cot. du Languedoc):
grapes of the south Rhone
– french red without the shackles
`05 Banfi Centine (Tuscany, It):
burnt cherry sunrise
to sunset gently biting
– economico rosso.
Ratzenberger Spatburgunder `04 (Bacharacher, DE):
alcohol pools a
slowly drifting berry boat
`03 Savigny-les-Beaune “Le Grands-Liards” Patrick Javillier-Guyot (Meursalt):
leather greets nicely
but calls out for fruit hidden
– prudence calls to me.
Aleveda Vinho Verde (Portugal):
drunk in the meadow
crispy spritzy citrus-y
pennies drop lightly.
Frog’s Leap `05 Napa Zin:
plum, blackberry yes
sweet toasted coconut hugs
vanilla oak, yum.
Opus One `98 (Oakville, CA):
a bad year undone
fruit, red and black, on oak
dear in all respects.
Twin Brook Cab. Franc (Pennsylvania):
wafting red berry
but tepid palate saddens
– all hope is lost now.
`05 Rosso Piceno Tourquis Brunori (Marche, It):
kicking me to smile.
`04 Domaine André Bonhomme Viré-Clessé (Burgundy):
– apricot, oak – class
NV Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle (Champagne):
fresh baked almond bread
with honey triumphs – grace and strength
my spirits soaring.
’03 Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino (Italy):
pour, sniff, slurp – again
cherries and leather greet me
with a warm embrace.
’06 Lorenzino Ettore Germano Dolcetto d’Alba (Italy):
sing out harmoniously
– could be livelier.
`05 Ravenswood Old Vines Zin (CA):
berry and spice nice
for the right amount of dough
haiku cannot rhyme