Archive for September, 2008
This is a post about wine. Sort of.
Actually, it’s more a celebration of all things Bad-Ass.
That’s because we just lost one of the most bad-ass individuals who has ever walked the face of the earth – Paul Newman.
Of Newman’s bad-ass status, there can be no doubt. Google “Baddass actors Paul Newman” and you will get about 11,000 hits. In his heyday, Newman was the Brad Pitt of his time, only without the annoyingly smug and self-possessed attitude, and with millions of dollars of world-enhancing charity goodness thrown in to seal the deal.
If Chuck Norris is bad-ass (and he is), there is no question that he is second generation bad-ass, having learned his key bad-assness traits from the master, Newman.
Newman was so bad-ass that he was able to make dog treats for very small yappy dogs, salad dressing, and even wine (ah-ha! finally, a tie-in!), and still remain a total bad-ass…
How is the wine? I’ve never tried it myself, as it’s available only in restaurants I think, but the reviews suggest that his Chardonnay is a winner, and it pairs best with movie popcorn, which of course you need to have on hand when watching one of Newman’s bad-ass films (like Slapshot).
Nothing against Chardonnay, but let’s face it – outside of Burgundy it’s taken a hit in terms of bad-ass status because of the super-buttery treatment it received for the last few years by New World winemakers.
If your best wine is a white (not the typical pick of the bad-ass male), and it’s a Chardonnay, and you’re still a bad-ass, then you are a bad-ass indeed!
So this week, crack open a bottle of something bad-ass, fix yourself some popcorn, pop in one of Newman’s bad-ass flicks, and take a moment to celebrate the life of a true bad-ass: star, entertainer, family man, and philanthropist.
This week, I had the pleasure of attending (yet another) amazing wine pairing dinner at the fabulous Teikoku restaurant in Newtown Sqaure, PA. I know that you’re already sick of hearing about how much I love Teikoku, so I will mention only this:
If you ever find yourself there and you notice “Pan roasted tilefish with Chestnut risotto and tempura style matsutake mushrooms” on the menu, immediately close the menu and order this dish with a bottle of Chardonnay. Immediately. You will thank me later.
The wine pairing theme of the evening was A Tour of California, and we couldn’t have had much of a better guide than wine educator Michael Walsh of Majestic Wine & Spirits. Michael had total recall of his CA geography; in fact, his level of knowledge was downright scary without being too pedantic or at all intimidating.
This got me thinking about the difference between a wine geek (who loves wine passionately and wants to share that passion with others) and a wine bore (who gets off on intimidating others with his/her wine smarties). For more detail on what makes a wine bore, check out Michael Broadbent’s excellent treatise on the subject…
Anyway, what struck me was how Michael Walsh casually used his impressive wine smarties to enhance our table’s enjoyment of the event, and not to try to overpower it. Case in point: during the event, I was chatting with fellow press guest Mary of WC Dish about a tasting of some excellent German QbA wines (more on those in a future post) that I’m currently working my way through. Michael noticed the confused look on the faces of my table mates, and chimed in (with perfect timing I might add) to clear up the confusion and quickly explain the QbA concept and pronunciation (Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiet or “quality wine from a specified region”).
I was impressed – rather than recite the entire WSET Advanced Certificate study material on the subject, he offered the perfect amount of wine info., at the perfect time, without being stuffy or overbearing. It was a style that I consider the hallmark of what constitutes the best in a wine geek!
As for the wines – here are my reviews of Michael’s picks:
06 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc (Monterey): Cooler climate grapes for CA. Grapefruit & lemon grass, but the minerality still eludes hot CA.
05 Forestville Reserve Chardonnay (Russian River Valley): Butter & oak, but somehow acidity, creaminess, & caramel save it from oak disaster
06 Esser Vineyards Pinot Noir (South Central Cost, CA): So much cherry, you might mistake it for Gamay. Spice on the nose makes it a winner.
04 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa): Cassis, currants, leather straps & – bam! – olives! A tiny bit overextracted, but who cares!
NV Merryvale Antigua (Medera, CA): Late harvest fortified Muscato. All toffee with an almost glycerin punch. Tasty, but clear your schedule.
And before I go, let me alert you to yet another fine food & wine pairing event happening at Teikoku on October 23, 2008!
Join Matthew Esser, wine educator and cellar consultant from Shiffrin Selections for an evening of Autumn wines along with Innovative food pairings from Chef Takao Iinuma to complement them
$35 Per person, reservations required.
Space is limited, RSVP now
For information and RSVP
Contact Christine Olmsted, Teikoku Restaurant Events Coordinator
@ 610-644-8270 or [email protected]
Cheers! (images: winecompliments.com)
It’s not often that one receives three small (187 ml) aluminum shatterproof bottles of French wine in the mail. Even for someone who is used to getting media samples of wine, this was a first.
So when a package arrived for me from Volute Wine, containing three bottles of their new “single-serve premium wine” from the Bordeaux AOC in France… well, there was no way wasn’t going to review them…
What’s in a name? In the case of Volute, I’m not sure. Volute either means curl, spiral, or mollusk, depending on where you look. Anyway, Volute’s wines have sleek brushed aluminum packaging, which might score them points with the ‘green is great’ crowd (for the high recyclable factor).
The idea behind Volute, from what I garnered from their press release, is to provide a convenient, portable single-serving packaging of French wine, targeting a relatively young, active wine consumer.
And there’s no doubt that Volute nailed the portability factor. You’d need to stand on one of these bottles to crush it, and even then the wine inside might remain intact and unscathed. The brushed aluminum also looks attractive, and there’s little chance of inadvertently mistaking Volute for a bottle of beer. Volute is offered in three ‘flavors’: White (85% Sauvignon Blanc + 15% Semillon), Rose (85% Cabernet Sauvignon + 15% Merlot) and Red (85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Sauvignon).
So how do the wines taste?…
As in, they were drinkable, and didn’t suck, but certainly nothing to write home about.
I found the Volute White offered some stone and apricot, but the fruit flavors were muted and the mouthfeel was flabby. The Rose had the most promise, with good strawberry on the nose, and red fruit dominating the palate, but it tasted out of balance, lacking a cohesive overall structure. As for the Red, it was my least favorite – some plum on the nose, but muted cherries on the palate, and not enough fruit to carry it through even to the modest finish.
Considering the modest flavor profiles of the wines, but the high green and portability factor of Volute’s packaging, I thought I might offer up a potential alternative for those seeking the green and portable cache factor of Volute, but are looking for something tastier:
At $4 a pop, you’d need to shell out $16 to get enough servings of Volute for a full wine bottle. There are plenty of tasty wines out there that go for $16 or less per full bottle. If you’re concerned about maximizing your environmental friendliness while traveling with a single-serving amounts of your budget vino, you can always pick up a reusable aluminum bottle (such as the ones offered by Sigg).
Open Sigg bottle, pour in wine, travel, and enjoy…
(images: volutewine.com, sigg.com)
Web 2.0 – the two-fer, el internet dos, the big web deuce.
You understand it totally, right?
Me neither! Good – that means we can embark on this here post together without any pretense… you know, we don’t have to pretend like we work at the Apple Store Genius bar.
Anyway, my interpretation of Web 2.0 can be summed up in one phrase: the architecture of participation. 200% clear, right?
Yeah, I still don’t get it, either. Put another way, Web 2.0 is the moniker given to the fact that the Internet is no longer a place where people consume information. Instead, those people now expect to help create that information, to be connected in new and interesting (and instant!) ways, and to have their voices heard – by each other, and by the companies whose products they consume. According to Wikipedia, Web 2.o websites “may have an ‘Architecture of participation’ that encourages users to add value to the application as they use it.”
OK, now that makes more sense.
So what does this have to do with wine? Man, I’ve been asking myself that question for the past 5 or 6 days, ever since I got back from the Wine 2.0 expo held last week in New York City.
Just like Web 2.0, the term Wine 2.0 has taken on several meanings. Dude’s interpretation (and this could way, way wrong) is that Wine 2.0 is supposed to describe how the web is putting more power into the hands of wine consumers; i.e., it’s the nexus of wine, Internet technology, and the wine lovers.
After attending the Wine 2.0 expo, I’m not sure that the Wine 2.0 movement is quite ready for prime time. It’s on the right track, but it’s more like Wine 1.7 rc 3 – you know, the interim bug-fixes release that is a teaser for the the really cool functionality you’re expecting in the next version. Allow me to explain…
I’m not saying that the Wine 2.0 event wasn’t a blast (it was), or that the organizers, vendors, and attendees weren’t great peeps (they were), or that the venue wasn’t cool (it was; despite the fact that they couldn’t provide us with extension cords… at a technology event… oh, the irony…).
What I am saying is that for an event that showcases the nexus of wine consumers, wine vendors, and the tech that brings them together, there were a lot of wine consumers, tasting a lot of wine vendor products. There just wasn’t a lot of tech bringing them both together.
Like, for example, extension cords (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Of course, I do realize (and was repeatedly reminded during the evening) that wine producers are fundamentally farmers, and theirs is not usually the realm of Internet-based tech. BUT… I expected a more substantial showing anyway (call me a dreamer…).
Having said that, things in Wine 2.0 land are far from dire. There was some interesting tech going on at Wine 2.0 NYC – there just wasn’t as much of it as I thought there would – or should – be.
Now, I’m about to tell you about two interesting pieces of wine-related tech that were on full display at Wine 2.0 NYC. I happen to be associated in some way/shape/form with both of them. BUT… before you write my next few paragraphs off as naive, starry-eyed manipulated commentary, both of these items happened to be mentioned by C|net – who, I sincerely hope, knows a bit more about what’s interesting in the world of tech than I do. Don’t take my word for it – check out the C|net video coverage for yourself. So I couodl be biased, or I could just be way ahead of my time (yes, I do feel vindicated actually, thank-you-very-much):
- Twitter Taste Live -Now this is what I call connecting wine and people via tech! I was invited to participate in the live wine tasting (hosted by BinEndsWine.com) at the event, which was an easy sell for me since a) I was already going(on my own dime) & b) if I hadn’t gone to Wine 2.0, I’d still have participated in the TTL (as I’ve done every time since its inception). Why? It’s f–king fun, that’s why. Where else can you get people all over the globe tasting the same wines at the same time, sharing their reactions and chatting with the wine producers live? (the answer is nowhere, by the way). As odd as “virtual” wine tasting sounds, it absolutely rocks the house – and the 140 character limit of twitter helps to prevent any one person from dominating the conversation. This, to me, is exactly what Web 2.0 is all about – not only do they have a good thing going, they’re trying to continually up the ante and take it further (which puts some pressure on me, since I’ll be co-hosting TTL at some point in the next few months… uh-oh… better get woodshedding…).
- Snooth.com – The team at Snooth has been trying to push the boundaries of what an can be done via an on-line wine retailer, and at Wine 2.0 NYC they unveiled a nifty interface that shows the appproximate location (city / country) of wine searches happening globally on Snooth.com, in real time. The coolness factor of this is totally off the chart, though the immediate application of this tech wasn’t readily apparent (at least, not to me). But… it’s something to build on, and smarter folks than me will no doubt soon find a way to leverage this coolness… I’m just not sure how…
So there you have it. Not all great, but not all bad. The future will no doubt be interesting, primarily because the people that are making it interesting have no idea yet what they will do with the interesting stuff. Sounds like true innovation to me.
I just hope that wherever they are going, they bring along enough extension cords.
(images: ebaumsworld.com, cnet.com, winetwo.net)