Archive for August, 2012

Weekly Wine Quiz: Some Coffee With That Oak?

Vinted on August 3, 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.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on a topic that many wine lovers love to hate, and which many other wine lovers just love: OAK. Why? Because I felt like stirring the pot, okay?

Some Coffee With That Oak?

What volatile compound imparted by oak barrels is responsible for giving a wine aromas of coffee or toasted hazelnuts?

  • A. Furans
  • B. Dimethyl pirazines
  • C. Acetic acid
  • D. Eugenol

Cheers – and good luck!

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Rare By Nature, Rare By Nurture (The Inside View Of Rutherglen Rare Topaque And Muscat)

Vinted on August 2, 2012 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, sexy wines, wine review

Geographic isolation engenders resourcefulness. As well as entire rooms that smell like caramel and sultanas.

Let’s start with the resourcefulness.

When Scottish friends George Sutherland Smith and John Banks decided in the 1860s that they couldn’t wait for materials to be shipped in to them to build All Saints, a winemaking property on the bank of the Murray River in Rutherglen’s Wahgunyah, they did what any self-respecting Aussies would do; they did it al themselves. Smith and Banks went ahead and established their own brick kiln so they could make their materials; presumably in a hurry to finish, fingerprints can still be seen in the bricks where Chinese workers laid down the material that had just barely cooled.

The result of their ingenuity is a structure that was once believed to be the largest winery in the southern hemisphere, an imposing building modeled after the their home country’s Castle of Mey (All Saints Estate was purchased in 1992 by the Brown family of Milawa, and Brown descendants Eliza, Angela and Nicholas now run the show), and built “on the back of money made running paddle steamers up the Murray and selling dry goods to miners” according to their PR folks.

The surfeit of caramel and sultanas come to us by virtue of All Saints hosting a tasting of Rutherglen’s now most famous wine export: “stickies” in Aussie slang, fortified dessert wine to the rest of the wine world. For my visit, All Saints had poured, for a comparitive master-class tasting, glasses of nearly every Rutherglen producer’s Topaque offerings, from the simpler Rutherglen level all the way through to what are called “Rare” with good reason: they’re made in tiny quantities, and aged somewhere around thirty years in barrel.

It was the Rares in which I was most interested, because… well, because I’m not above that sort of thing but primarily to tell you what they taste like, even though the chances of finding them stateside are fairly… rare

Read the rest of this stuff »

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How To Put Up With Wine Lists (Wined Down)

Vinted on August 1, 2012 binned in Wined Down (Playboy.com)

Last week I was interviewed by the IntoWine.com folks (these are the same folks who engendered a great deal of controversy in the wine world when they released their first annual list of  the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the U.S. Wine Industry“).

IntoWine.com was (overly) kind in their introduction of me at the start of the piece (thanks, guys!), but otherwise you might find it readable so I’m mentioning it here. I’m not sure why I was so frank and edgy in my responses, maybe the Playboy.com gig is rubbing off (ha! sorry, couldn’t resist that) on me.

Speaking of the Playboy.com gig, my latest article in the Wined Down series posted last week, an interview with Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer on how to successfully navigate a restaurant wine list (for more on Fred, check out the video interview I did with him a few weeks ago).

I mention the latest PB column not only because it gives you an excuse to go look at pictures of beautiful, scantily-clad women for a few minutes, but also because I happened to pen it and PB happened to launch it the same day that a minor sh*t storm broke out on Tyler Colman’s excellent DrVino.com, around the comments made about modern wine lists by NY Post restaurant critic Steve Cuozzo. If you think my take on retailers, distributors and importers was harsh in the IntoWine.com interview, wait until you see Cuozzo’s remarks in the comments of Tyler’s post

Read the rest of this stuff »

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