Archive for August, 2012

Here’s A Lie: Wine Critics Offer Everyone The Best Wine Picks

Vinted on August 21, 2012 binned in best of, going pro, Wined Down (

Two weeks ago in my Wined Down column, I interviewed two friends for whom I have mad respect – wine writers and educators Mark Oldman and Leslie Sbrocco – to put together a list of what we considered the top five “wine lies.” The idea was to bust up five of the most prevalent myths permeating the wine world, and offer some advice on how to avoid being ensnared by said lies.

You can read our list of those top 5 wine lies here. Leslie and Mark each contributed two wine lies to the list, but after you read their great contributions, please make sure that you click through to Page Two of that article and read the fifth wine lie, which is the one that I contributed to the piece. Namely, “Lie #5: Wine Critics Offer the Best Wine Picks.”

This isn’t an ego play (personally I think Mark’s and Leslie’s input was better than mine!) – I just generally want to discuss that one in more detail than is afforded to me in the interests of keeping the column to a reasonable length. I won’t re-frame the entire argument here, but want to build a bit on what I wrote in that column; because the further down the rabbit hole that I travel when it comes to wine reviews, the more clearly I realize that blindly following the ratings is a lie, a lie that’s been perpetuated in media and at retail for as long as I’ve been an avid wine consumer. Wine critics do not, in fact, offer you the best wine picks with their reviews… at least, not at first

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For August 20, 2012

Vinted on August 20, 2012 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!

  • 09 Izadi Expresion (Rioja): Tart red plum core wrapped up in some very serious dark cherry & leather. To unfold in a dozen years. $100 A- >>find this wine>>
  • 11 Izadi Rioja Blanco (Rioja): Bait-&-switch elegance; from tropical, heady, floral to linear, citric, pithy, & chalky in seconds. $18 B >>find this wine>>
  • 11 Loosen Dr L Riesling (Mosel): Still the lovely, floral, stone-fruit benchmark for a budget intro. to world’s greatest wine region. $13 B >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Manousakis Nostos Syrah (Chania): So modern, stoney, chewy & dusty you’ll think you’re in WA state instead of on a Greek isle. $25 B >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Manousakis Nostos Alexandra’s (Chania): GSM with plush, juicy black & red fruit that wasn’t afraid to get its hands a little dirty. $25 B >>find this wine>>
  • 11 Manousakis Nostos Roussanne (Chania): A modern broad, but not too modern or too broad; tropical, toasty & just very easy to like. $24 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Diamantakis Diamond Rock Red (Crete): Their 2008 DRR’s younger, more brooding, gritty & slightly-less-interesting little brother. $22 B >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Diamantakis Diamond Rock Red (Crete): Syrah meets Greek Mandilari, match results in plummy, vibrant, over-achieving love child. $22 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 10 Diamantakis Prinos Red (Crete): Herbs, pepper, red plums, raspberries & stones served up in an easy-going style on a leather plate. $16 B >>find this wine>>
  • 11 Diamantakis Prinos White (Crete): Malvasia di Candia Aromatica & Chardonnay; mouthful 2 say & a floral, mineral, citric one 2 drink $15 B >>find this wine>>
  • 11 Diamantakis Vidiano (Crete): Promising, pithy, vibrant, apple-&-grapefruit start from new vines; bringing character to the party. $15 B >>find this wine>>
  • 11 Domaine Les Chenevieres Macon-Villages Chardonnay (Macon-Villages): Apple-in-yo-face to start, but all poised minerals form there. $14 B >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Arnaldo Caprai Anima Umbra Bianco (Umbria): A mixed bag intro to Grachetto; nuts, flower & apples, but they’re sprinkled w/ iodine $14 B- >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Chanson Bourgogne Pinot Noir (Bourgogne): Like a funk-filled live wire; well armor yourself with food before approaching this one. $19 B- >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Pepper Bridge Pepper Bridge Vineyard Red (Walla Walla): Food options are limited; but the chocolate, spice & dusty tannins aren’t. $55 B+ >>find this wine>>



Weekly Wine Quiz: Hold Your Nose!

Vinted on August 17, 2012 binned in wine quiz

Welcome to the Weekly Wine Quiz, peoples.

Based on feedback from ever-so-vocal-and-intelligent peeps like you, I supply the quiz question each week, but do *not* supply the quiz answer directly in the post. That’s because YOU are supposed to supply the answer in the comments, and then tune back in later today in the comments section for the official answer. Because it’s more fun to keep you in suspense (and I’m a jerk like that). To make the suspense worse, I might be delayed in getting around to posting the answer since I’m on the road (again, again, again) this week – your patience is of course appreciated!

Today continues our recent theme on oak, with a decidedly stinky twist…

Hold Your Nose!

Wine barrels are often blamed as the culprit behind the animal and rubbery aromas associated with contamination of wine by yeast of the genus Brettanomyces. What is generally considered the perception threshold of “Brett” above which most people will be able to pick out those aromas?

  • A. 500 mg/l
  • B. 700 mg/l
  • C. 750 mg/l
  • D. 900 mg/l

Cheers – and good luck!




Old House, Old Vines, New Styles (Tasting Izadi Recent Releases In Rioja)

Vinted on August 16, 2012 binned in kick-ass wines, overachiever wines, wine review

To get a feel for how important the culture of the vine is in the tiny and picturesque hilltop town of Villabuena in Rioja Alavesa, consider this: Villabuena has roughly 317 inhabitants, and just over ten percent of them (about 40) are wineries; so the town hosts 1 winery for every 8 or so people.

Looking out from the back patio of an old house owned by one of those winemaking residents – Bodegas Izadi– and taking in the quaint images of hanging laundry, satellite dishes, and brick-colored rooftops in the shadow of the mountains, Villabuena proffers an odd locale for a winery. But there must be something to the nearby sloping hills that suits the vine – particularly Tempranillo – to explain the preponderance of wineries that call the town home.

Izadi was founded in the late 1980s by restaurateur Gonzalo Anton, following the dual urges of creating wine good enough that he could serve it to his friends, and wanting to produce wines in a more modern style – clean, and approachable – than those that being produced by other members of his members.

It’s ironic, then, that their most compelling wine (in my view, anyway) is the one that has the greatest nod towards Rioja tradition, and is made from the 100-year old vines planted so haphazardly a short drive from the old Villabuena residence that Izadi now calls home

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