Archive for June, 2012
Make that, your Somm is under fire.
Last week I was guest on the Keeper Collective’s weekly twitter guest Q&A wine event, called #SommChat, part of their Somms Under Fire wine competition brand umbrella. This prompted quite a comments coming my way, most of which can be summed up in the following imaginary-but-wholly-representative re-enactment style on-line conversation:
Peeps: Joe, I didn’t know you were a Somm??
Me: I’m not!
Despite the fact that I am one of the few non-Sommelier guests to appear on #SommChat, I had a fantastic time fielding the questions from those who tuned in to attend last week, some of which were provocative and really got me thinking, particularly those that asked about recommendations for building up a palate, and learning more about wine.
The results of the reflective thinking? The deeper I’ve gone into the pro wine world, the less important I feel palate-building and wine appreciation tips really are, which I suppose on some level seems ironic but as we gain experience in any area, one likes to think that we can come back to basics having turned that into a modicum of wisdom, and wisdom seems to be telling me that it’s far, far more important for people to learn deeply what it is about a wine that really turns them on or off, and focus on learning their own palates and preferences first before thinking about developing a palate that would be used for critical assessment. The former opens the door to the wonder and magic and pleasure of wine; the latter is work, a job, often fun but sometimes a real working-stiff-like slog.
Anyway… You can check out the entire #SommChat convo from the twitter feed last week at http://sommsunderfire.com/sommchat/, and I recommend tuning in to their future events (they’ve got a couple of Master Somms lined up for the next series, which should be fun) on Wednesdays at 11AM Central Time.
Part of the madness of Auction Napa Valley (the annual over-the-top charity shin-dig that this year raked in about $8 million) – and the fun – is that both the one-percenters and the rest of us can bid on barrels of upcoming Napa Valley wine releases (and, in some cases, special one-of-a-kind lots) during the event’s barrel auction day (an e-auction also takes place, which is probably where more of the 99-percenters can realistically get in on the action).
This year, the barrel auction was held inside the extensive caves at Jarvis, a producer who brings their grapes underground into their man-made caves, with those grapes not seeing the light of day again until they exit as high-end, bottle-aged wines.
It’s a fun event, where wine producers, press, and the one-percenters (okay… that’s unfair… let’s say two-percenters) mingle on the lawn, sampling NV producer wines and enjoying a sh*tload of foodstuffs from local purveyors (and it wasn’t exactly run-of-the-mill food-truck fare, either – at one station, you could sample a mini version of The French Laundry’s famous salmon tartare “ice cream cone”).
2012’s version was a bit hectic (apparently so hectic that I was able to only take photos in portait orientation, from the looks of the inset pics), but in a fun way. However, the mayhem made even the hockey-arena-sized event space in Jarvis’ caves seem crowded. I gave up on critically assessing the barrel lots pretty quickly, once it became clear that it was going to take me a few minutes per taste just to work my way through the throngs enough to access the spit buckets.
So… I only got to about thirty of the hundred-or-so auction lots that day, and while it might come as no surprise to hear that a Philippe Melka wine and a Scarecow lot were vying for the highest-bid bragging rights during the auction, it might surprise those of you who have been following the NV wine scene to learn that Scarecrow came in second this time, losing out to Melka’s first-ever barrel auction wine under his own label.
Following are my takes on the best of what I got around to tasting critically that day, before I gave the hell up to the whole enticing craziness and just started drinking (mostly Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, since it was hot and sunny) instead of tasting… as well as some thoughts on the 2010 NV vintage overall…
Read the rest of this stuff »
- 10 Sticks Yarra Valley Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley): Bright, svelte red fruits, all covered in herbs & wrapped up in wax paper. $17 B >>find this wine>>
- 10 Yering Station Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley): 10lbs of raspberries, dark cherries & pithiness stuffed into an 8lb leather bag. $31 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 10 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley): Viscous, silky, & letting dark cherries play a dominant hand in its earthy game. $17 B >>find this wine>>
- 10 Oakridge Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley): Sweet spices help the medicinal herbs & orange zest go down; & they go down in complex fashion $26 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 11 De Bortoli Estate Grown Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley): Starts smokey, gets nutty, hangs out herbal & bright, & then finishes strong. $30 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 11 Mayer Close Planted Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley): Hell bent for leather (and pepper, nutmeg, & gritty, bright, chewy red fruits). $50 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 10 Jamsheed Healesville Syrah (Yarra Valley): Earthy, peppery talk, & leathery, blackberry walk… actually, make that a *strut*! $45 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 10 Yarra Yering Chardonnay (Yarra Valley): Somehow funkily flawed while brutally gorgeous; it’s Hillary Clinton-levels of divisive. $85 A- >>find this wine>>
- 11 De Bortoli Chardonnay (Yarra Valley): Brought flowers, along with a nervy, assertive personality; needs time to warm up to you. $28 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 09 Yering Station Chardonnay (Yarra Valley): Somehow combining, apples, pear, brioche & grapefruit lift without even breaking a sweat $25 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 10 Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley): Sweet & savory red berry compote that ain’t afraid to get its hands a little dirty. $17 B >>find this wine>>
- 11 Mea Culpa Shiraz (Yarra Valley): Syrah with Pinot Noir’s soul; peppery, bright, but not shying away from plums & meat, either. $37 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 10 Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley): How many cherries & red berries can dance on the head of a palate? A lot. $34 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 11 Giant Steps Tarraford Vineyard Chardonnay (Yarra Valley): Restrained, stoney, yeasty & kissing you gently with creamy lips. $35 A- >>find this wine>>
- 11 Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay (Yarra Valley): Streak of structured, toasty, floral/fruity gorgeousness continues unabated $28 B+ >>find this wine>>
Welcome to the Weekly Wine Quiz!
Based on feedback from ever-so-vocal-and-intelligent peeps like you, I do not supply the quiz answer directly in the post – you will need to tune back in later in the comments section for the answer.
This week, we’re continuing a series of quizzes about Australia, since I was recently there on a two week jaunt and was more-or-less bombarded with Ozzie trivia (and hospitality) – keep checking back here at 1WD for mini-reviews and (sometimes very) long-form articles on that trip. Today’s quiz will be an easier one for those of you who’ve been paying attention to recent posts (wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say no MORE!)…
Old School Cab?
True or False: Australia is home to what may be the oldest continuously producing Cabernet Sauvignon plantings on the planet.
- A. True
- B. False
- C. Just kidding, there is no C (you doofus!).
Cheers – and good luck!