Archive for January, 2013

Churchill’s Vintage Port Recent (And Not So Recent) Releases

“You can beat the sh*t out of something, and all you get is powdered sh*t!”
– Johnny Graham

As part of some prep work for recently-published Playboy Port Primer (For Your Holiday Port-ing Pleasure), in November I was a guest of importer Frederick Wildman for a lunch/tasting and dinner/tasting with Johnny Graham, the force behind relative Port newcomer Churchill’s.

The F-W folks didn’t actually know that I was sort-of on assignment for my Port Primer, but it turned out that Johnny Graham – to whom I now owe a return on a much-needed pre-dinner beer that he bought me en route to the evening event – had so much Port worth talking about that I wanted to highlight him here. I think I also owe him a beer for providing the above quote, which slipped out when we were tasting through some of the Churchill’s lineup at F-W headquarters before our dinner, while we were discussing wines that exude finesse as well as natural concentration, versus those that simply display an overly-extracted sense of concentration (for an example of the former, try Churchill’s elegantly understated Ten Year Tawny Port, which I likened to Sancerre – seriously – in terms of its prettiness).

Anyway, the highlight of the visit was a trip to NYC’s Hearth restaurant, where I finally got to see/taste what all the (well-deserved) fuss was about when it comes to Paul Grieco (and his massive soul patch), who did an admirable job pairing an entire multi-course meal to vintage Port selections from Churchill’s (not an easy feat, even if the wines are quite good, since they’re also quite demanding, and in some cases quite sweet – in short, a culinary mine field).

Graham’s family Port biz started in the 1800s, and he told me that he was “fortunate, in my youth, I was able to taste vintages like the 1908s; Vintage Port can age 20, 50 years or more, and there just aren’t many wines that can do that.” To that end, given the sh*tload of non-sh*tty wines we tasted that evening, I hope you’ll forgive me the  list-and-review style format post, but I thought it worthwhile to give you the scoop on several past vintages of Churchill’s Vintages… including a sneak-peak at the yet-to-be-released 2011…

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In Defense Of Natalie MacLean

Vinted on January 2, 2013 binned in best of, commentary

Wait a second…

…you mean to tell me that Canadian wine personality Natalie MacLean’s probable plagiarism (or at the very least, insufficient, obfuscated attribution of others’ work), possible pay-to-play wine reviews / favorable brand mentions, on-line comment “sock-puppeting” (and iTunes app review sock-puppeting, while we’re at it) allegations, along with spam-botting (can I use that as a verb?), multiple accusations of comment censorship and what seems like outright lying isn’t defensible with a simple “oh, whoops, my bad! :-)” letter to her readers?!??

Really??

[ Editor’s note: Despite the author’s better judgement telling him that he ought to just forget all about this, he’s still pissed-off about it, and so has decided to help the cause in a small way by drawing a little bit of extra attention to this scandal and not letting it die on the vine. Look, he’s not saying that the average wine-loving person should care what he thinks about these things, but it’s his blog so he’ll whine, wine, and whittle away the time with this opinion on a scandal here if he wants. Thanks to those of you who will indulge him the time to dip into the wine media’s scarred underbelly. ]

Ah, and I forgot about the whole let’s-call-the-entire-wine-media-thing-into-question-because-we-all-look-like-a-bunch-of-douche-bags-for-bestowing-awards-on-these-people debate that gets stirred up every time that something like this transpires (which is way too often right now, by the way).

Oh, well – our bad, right?!?

The primary thing that’s got me riled up about this scandal is that, as the Hosemaster of Wine recently put it, MacLean “dared use dull and virtually interchangeable wine reviews from wine experts on her blog without attribution” (ouch!)….

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