Archive for June, 2013
A few weeks ago I got an intriguing email from a California vintner; intriguing in that he was, he told me, originally from my neck of the woods (near Philly in Southeastern PA), and would soon be in town for a wedding. Could we get together over lunch to taste some of the wines he’d been working on (note: ending of sentence with preposition is intentional for casual effect – deal with it, grammar nerds!)?
I couldn’t say no to that one; I’ve had too much good luck with tasting wines made by now-Californians with close PA ties.
The former Philly Boy in question was Kieran Robinson, now an assistant winemaker at Jericho Canyon Vineyard in Calistoga, and who makes his own Bennett Valley Syrah under the Kieran Robinson Wines label (more on that in a minute or two). I’ve now got a bit of a soft spot for Jericho Canyon, because they are the only winery that I can recall that actually filled out my (facetious) Useless California Vintage Report Template (seriously, this has to increase their general ballsy-awesomeness quotient by at least a couple of points, right? – check out their choices).
Anyway, turns out my lucky streak has remained intact, because they guy is making excellent Syrah, the kind of wines that could get overlooked by lazier retailers and distributors, but could send wine geeks swooning.
Before we talk about the wines, we should talk about the guy, as his interesting and circuitous path to winemaking experience has done a lot, I think, to give him both the confidence (or is it insanity?) and the know-how to make Syrah with this kind of vintage- and geographic-driven expressiveness…
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Remember when I recently mentioned former Luftwaffe pilot and not semi-retired Port media guy Axel Probst?
Axel (a.k.a. “Herr Plane” now to 1WD readers) contacted me shortly after that article went live (he wasn’t aware that I was going to mention him) to thank me for the shout-out, and also to share two of the most unique and interesting pictures of Portugal that I’ve ever seen.
Axel kindly agreed to let me share these amazing photos with the world, and I can promise you that it’s a view of Porto and the Douro that 99.99% of you reading this have never seen, since they were taken from a flyover in a Luftwaffe fighter jet! Unless it involved bikini-clad models with machine guns, capes, and world-saving super-powers parachuting out of the planes in the picture, I’m lost as to how these pics could get any more bad-ass awesome.
Axel’s quick explanation of the photos:
“Please find some fotos attached which mix Port and flying quite nicely. On the first you see Dirk Niepoorts Quinta do Napoles below and the other is overhead Vila Nova de Gaia/ Porto.”
Enjoy the eye-popping awesomeness after the jump, the kind of awesome that can only be had by combining war machines and Port, the kind of awesome that totally smokes what you now previously thought was an awesome screen grab from your ten-hour marathon session of Call Of Duty: Ghosts (let these shots be a reminder that you really need to get out more often, okay?).
If you’re a wine lover, and particularly a Port lover, consider your awesomeness quotient for the week fulfilled…
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- NV Gimonnet-Oger Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru (Champagne): Like a nice almond croissant. But the kind that Chuck Norris would order. $49 A- >>find this wine<<
- NV Didier-Ducos Fils Cuvee Brut (Champagne): A pony with a short list of tricks, but all of them are definitely well worth repeating. $45 B+ >>find this wine<<
- NV Pascal Redon Cuvee Brut Tradition (Champagne): Serious, capable, stern, contemplative, & greying just a bit on the early side. $48 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 10 Royal Tokaji Mad Cuvee Late Harvest (Hungary): A honeybee with clementine wings that doubles as a dessert-cooking master chef. $21 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 10 Achaval-Ferrer Quimera (Mendoza): A warm day, a sultry evening, a big, savory meal, & a small glimpse at South America's soul. $56 A- >>find this wine<<
- 10 Van Duzer Estate Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley): Elegance that's able to tame the heart & anger of the bruiser wine snob in you. $32 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 11 Graffigna Centenario Estate Bottled Reserve Malbec (San Juan): Pleasant, but didn't wipe its feet when it came in from the garden. $11 B- >>find this wine<<
- NC Cachette Blanc de Blanc (Burgundy): Limes, apples, bread, & enough attitude to allow it to strut confidently right into the room. $15 B >>find this wine<<
- 12 Hecht & Bannier Cotes de Provence Rose (Cotes de Provence): Cherry, citrus & flowers made to make friends & influence palates. $18 B >>find this wine<<
- 09 Hecht & Bannier Bandol (Bandol): And the Bandol played on, & it's a funky tune, but they're nearly reaching the end of their set. $38 B >>find this wine<<
Back in 2011, I wondered (aloud, in Internet terms) if Paso Robles wines were too boozy hot.
Now, after attending (as a media guest) the 2013 Paso Robles Cab Collective’s CABs of Distinction tasting events, I’m wondering if they’re a bit too oaky. But I’m also now wondering when Paso wines will start being hailed as where smart wine geeks go to get compelling, age-worthy reds for half the price of Napa and (in some cases) Sonoma.
After backing off the push on Rhone Valley varieties a bit, and focusing on the soft tannins and consistent lush ripeness of their Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso as a region is now seeing an influx of both winemaking talent and the money needed to push for both quality and recognition. All of which means that Paso is going to be nipping with extreme prejudice at the heels of its better known Northern California winemaking neighbors.
There are many ways that this tale could be told, but I want to focus on the winemaker panel discussion that took place during the 2013 CABs (Cabernet And Bordeaux) of Distinction event, moderated by my friend Steve Heimoff, held at Windfall Farms (because that’s the part you wouldn’t have had access to, my previous feature on Paso centered on a similar winemakers panel and that just felt like too much serendipity to ignore, and finally because I am way too lazy to write short tasting notes on dozens of wines tasted later at the Grand Tasting portion of the event… sorry, okay?). The title, aptly, was “Paso Robles Cab, Its History and Future.”
The bottom line, the recurring theme, the battle cry I heard from the Paso Robles reds at the moment is this: while they lack the complexity of Northern CA’s finest, they have already achieved some of the ripeness, silkiness and aging potential. Watch out, peeps Paso Cab is now well on its way (or as Steve put in when introducing the winemaking panel: “this past year has been the tipping point in my thinking of Paso Robles wine”)…
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