Archive for October, 2012
For any number of reasons, former Bad Company touring bassist Paul Cullen’s wine endeavor ought to strike us as poised for abject failure.
For starters, enough rockers have their names attached to wine labels that I think we’d now be well within rights to cast this latest performer-turned-proprietor foray into the critical gaze of our our jaded, caustic, Sauron-like eye.
You can just hear the collective sigh of the wine cognoscenti now, can’t you?
Do we really need another one of these?
Couple that with the Cullen’s combining of his new (and decidedly un-Bad Co.-like) music, food pairing recipes (Cullen is an avid cook, having learned the craft from his Italian grandmother) and his offer for live Skype performances for wine club members, and throw in the tagline he’s been using – Unplugged & Uncorked – and you’ve seemingly got all the makings of post-heyday rocker desperation.
But to draw that conclusion would be to ignore a few of the more pertinent details behind Cullen’s wine brand, and behind Cullen himself. As I learned firsthand over lunch and sample tasting with him last week at Wilmington, DE dining institution Columbus Inn, Cullen is offering a lineup of wines that are as humble, approachable, friendly, food-obsessed, and full of interesting backstory as the purveyor himself.
A backstory that includes selling Italian wine, for example.
See. Told you it was interesting…
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A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from the folks who create content for Publix Grape Magazine, a free newsletter with wine tips and recommendations from the grocery chain’s extensive list of available wines.
For those who don’t know Publix, they kind of rule the roost in terms of the grocer action in the Southeastern U.S., employing over 150,000 people across more than 1,000 stores, and registering sales in excess of $25 billion (yes, with a B) annually.
The creative side of Publix Grape wanted to know if I’d be interested in writing an overview of oak aging for the Spring edition of the magazine, including its pluses, minuses and the science behind it.
“Absolutely,” I told them, and not just because I thought it would be entertainingly ironic for me to be published in both Playboy.com and Publix grape, two outlets that have got to serve almost opposite ends of the Liberal/Conservative constituency. “In fact, this is spookily serendipitous because I’d just sat down at my computer to draft up a blog article I wanted to call ‘In Defense Of Oak’!”
Combine that eerie coincidence with the fact that I hadn’t contributed to Publix Grape in what seemed like forever, and I couldn’t pass it up. And as I penned that Publix piece, I had a particularly personal realization reinforced (and no, it’s not that I love consonance). Namely, despite the fact that my subjectively favorite wines in all of the world (Mosel Rieslings) are un-oaked, I rather enjoy oak in a lot wines.
Okay, maybe that was more of a confession than a realization, given the gestalt of the modern wine media and geekier wine circles.
But it doesn’t change the fact that the oak-perception pendulum when it comes to wine might have swung just a bit too far lately…
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- 10 Bodega Tacuil Vinas de Davalos (Salta): A porterhouse with fresh berry compote reduction & herbs; to be served in about 7 years. $100 A- >>find it at snooth<<
- 06 Three Sticks Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma Valley): Like polishing off the whole box of chocolate-covered licorice all by yourself. $65 B+ >>find it at snooth<<
- 07 Hasta Que Se Agoten Xikbal Baja Cabernet Sauvignon (Guadalupe Valley): A blocky, oaky gait, but plenty of plummy & herbal promise. $38 B >>find it at snooth<<
- 10 Zenato San Benedetto Lugana (Lugana): Well helloooooo there, big stone fruits & honey; now, I am going to dreeeeeink you! $14 B >>find it at snooth<<
- 10 Mirror Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley): Textural & robust, it skips the herb garden for low-hanging, ripe tropical fruit. $24 B >>find it at snooth<<
- 08 Mirror Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Rich, chocolaty, dense and airing it out down-field in big steakhouse style. $75 B+ >>find it at snooth<<
- NV Grahams 10 Year Tawny Port (Porto): Grab the monocle, light the stogie for this burnt caramel, dried fig & toasted nut show. $34 B+ >>find it at snooth<<
- 11 Domaine Paul Blanck Riesling (Alsace): Imagine being shrunk to the size of a bug, eating lime & then breaking into a spice box. $19 B >>find it at snooth<<
- 09 Andrew Murray Vineyards Terra Bella Vineyard Syrah (Paso Robles): Bringing the badass Paso Robles rumble like a tricked-out Harley $36 B+ >>find it at snooth<<
- 10 Masut Vineyard and Winery Pinot Noir (Mendocino): Your new Pinot jam? Coffee, toast & red berry jam, *that’s* your new Pinot jam. $40 B+ >>find it at snooth<<
- 09 Tudal Family Winery Bacigalupi Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley): Tea, raspberry scone & wild mushroom soup, all homemade $42 B+ >>find it at snooth<<
- 10 Ogier Heritages (Cotes du Rhone): Verve, and heat, & the oak’s a touch sweet; but then, so’s the price for what you’re getting. $13 B- >>find it at snooth<<
- 10 Ogier Heritages Blanc (Cotes du Rhone): U didn’t know lemon & peach blossom could unleash this style of nutty, oily kung-fu, did U? $13 B >>find it at snooth<<
- 10 Tariquet Chenin Chardonnay (Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne): Like drinking passion fruit, at a bargain price for passion fruit. $10 B- >>find it at snooth<<
Welcome to the Weekly Wine Quiz! This week, things are going to get decidedly odd, but then you’ve come to expect that here, haven’t you?
Standard disclaimer: based on feedback from ever-so-vocal-and-intelligent peeps like you, I supply the quiz question each week, but I do *not* supply the quiz answer immediately. It’s YOU who supply your *best guess* as to that answer in the comments, and then tune back in later today in the comments section for the official answer.
Going Stag? True or False: Biodynamic vineyard farming preparations include flower heads of yarrow fermented in the bladder of a stag.
Cheers – and good luck!