Archive for October, 2011
- NV Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port (Porto): Recent Symington makeover suits this Ruby well; offering plum, fig, date & peppery spice. $18 B >>find this wine>>
- NV Perrot-Batteux Cuvée Helixe Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs (Champagne): Lemony verve, sexy, nervy energy & all with a side of bread. $45 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 08 Davis Family Vineyards Guyzer Block Syrah (Russian River Valley): From the blue fruits aisle straight to the cured meats section. $38 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 09 Davis Family Vineyards Soul Patch Estate Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley): RRV native takes an earthy, elegant trip to Burgundy. $42 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 09 Davis Family Vineyards Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley): Berry compote with a finish longer than most cross-country bus rides. $40 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 09 Davis Family Vineyards Chardonnay (Russian River Valley): Might lack some uniqueness, but certainly not charm (or age-worthy acid) $36 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 09 Weingut Baron Knyphausen Erbacher Michelmark Riesling Erste Lage (Rheingau): Floral, spiced beauty; tense, nervy citric brawn. $57 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 09 Treana White (Central Coast): Tropics, florals, vivacity, versatility & just crazy amounts of joy (& aging potential) for the coin $23 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 10 Eberle Estate Chardonnay (Paso Robles): Crème brûlée that was kind enough to bring the acidity. Wish it had also brought scallops. $20 B >>find this wine>>
- 08 Cass Winery Syrah (Paso Robles): From herbs to jammy fruit to beef to coffee; kind of like a microcosm of an entire dinner here. $42 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 09 Cass Winery Grenache (Paso Robles): Fire-starting strawberry & meat that will pepper (in both senses of the word) your tongue. $28 B >>find this wine>>
- 09 Cass Winery Rockin One White (Paso Robles): Acidity, butterscotch & apples in an oak cloak. Will probably shed it for seafood stew. $32 B >>find this wine>>
- 10 Cass Winery Roussanne (Paso Robles): Kinda like a lemon boulder – there’s a ton of heft, but a there’s a ton of minerality, too. $26 B >>find this wine>>
- 08 Adelaida Version (Paso Robles): Smoky, meaty, earthy red fruits dominate, & they really, really want some smoked sausage. $34 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 08 Adelaida HMR Estate Pinot Noir (Paso Robles): Rustic, authentic & juicy red berries ridin’ right outta the hills of ol’ Paso. $35 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 10 Adelaida HMR Estate Chardonnay (Paso Robles): Peach & citrus that are hand-delivering minerals, & shooting star-like vivacity. $40 B+ >>find this wine>>
Spending an hour of so over lunch with Cypher Winery’s self-proclaimed “Winemaker, Troublemaker, and Firestarter” Christian Tietje is a bit like experiencing a small vinous indoor dust devil. In the wake of this whirling dervish of a man, you are left with remnants of well-crafted comfort food, open bottles and empty, stained glasses strewn about, and a lingering sense of bewilderment at the bold (some might say egotistical) pronouncements such as “yeah man, this is totally gonna be a 95, 96-point wine when the press gets a hold of it.”
Yeah, man – and this article is totally gonna win me some James Beard awards, you know, after they judges all wise up and stuff.
My whirlwind tour through Christian’s wines took place last week at Paso Robles’ Farmstand 46, a restaurant partnership between Tom Fundaro and the owners of Four Vines Winery. Christian is probably best-known as the principal winemaker behind Four Vines’ high-octane, high-scoring releases. But his new venture, Cypher, has Tietje stretching out a bit and – dare we say it – maturing. Certainly the single varietal Cypher bottlings have a lot of promise, which you’d probably expect from a talented winemaking team – but what you might not expect is that they also display a good deal of craftsmanship and… restraint…
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In part of his coverage/promotion of wine blogger Alder Yarrow’s new gig as part of Team Jancis over at JancisRobinson.com, wine blogger Tom Wark rightly points out that it’s almost paradoxically at once significant and also a natural, balladromic bit of evolution to have an established wine personality tap into the blog-o-world when seeking to add more wine writing talent to their publications.
Tom also claimed that “we are living in the Golden Age of Wine Writing and the Golden Age of Wine Writing Talent.”
I read those words during the same period of time that I was making way through a review copy of long-time wine scribe Gerald Asher’s new collection of writings, A Vineyard In My Glass (not literally at the same exact time, of course, I’m not Thomas Jefferson, so I’m not reading eight books simultaneously while also dictating correspondences and cataloging in detail how many of my goats died from frost exposure last Winter while slaking my thirst with Scuppernong , or whatever), and I can tell you that just about every page of Asher’s collection screams out (in a polite, congenial British scream, of course) that Tom is way off base in his claim. I say this with mad respect for Tom, of course, but…
Sorry, bro. We are not even close to being in a golden age of wine writing talent – unless you extend that Age’s starting point back far enough to include the writings of Asher and Hugh Johnson; because in terms of plying the craft of writing and applying the focused, dedicated talent of it to the world of wine, those two writers have NO modern equal.
If you’re reading this and you haven’t sampled the writings of those two stalwarts, then you need to do so with all speed. If you’re reading this and you fancy yourself a wine writer, I’m willing to bet a case of DRC that you couldn’t go toe-to-toe in terms of writing skills with either one of those gentlemen, even on your best day…
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Ever wonder how some of your favorite grapes make it from vine to winery? Here’s a little ditty from my recent jaunt to Paso Robles that show’s you just that.
First, my Paso journalist traveling companions and I get a lesson in picking Grenache at the picturesque Viking Vineyard property courtesy of Adelaida’s surfer-turned-winemaker Terry Culton, and then Cass Winery owner Steve Cass unleashes the forklift to show us how Cass’ Malbec grapes are de-stemmed.
So don your galoshes and get ready to swat at copious amounts of bees, ‘cause there’s grapes to get processed in Paso, people!