Archive for September, 2013

Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For September 30, 2013

Vinted on September 30, 2013 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!

  • 05 Resalte de Penafiel Crianza (Ribera del Duero): Like the overly affectionate couple on the subway, it acts a bit too hot & heavy. $37 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Garciarevalo Tres Olmos Verdejo (Rueda): I saw them at a club called The Electric Banana; don’t look for it, it’s not there anymore $15 B >>find this wine<<
  • 07 XIX Cabernet Sauvignon By Keyshawn Johnson (Columbia Valley): Starting off the red wine season with flair… & a winning streak. $125 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 06 Mumm Napa Santana Supernatural Rose (Napa Valley): Lazer light show that’s *almost* as complex as a shredding Santana guitar solo. $65 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Stinson Vineyards Meritage (Virginia): Can someone please get that noisy oak out of my ear so I can focus on the lovely stuff here? $25 B >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Stinson Vineyards Chardonnay (Monticello): Norfolk doesn’t see this much saline, or this many flowers and minerals, either. $20 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc (Western Cape): There will be nothing petite about how much of this your friends will guzzle. $11 B >>find this wine<<
  • 07 Cameron Hughes Lot 299 Reserve Syrah (Minervois): Sultry, mineral, fruity & just a little too hot under the collar to keep its cool $18 B >>find this wine<<
  • 09 Cameron Hughes Lot 293 Chablis (Chablis): The mid-palate’s gone missing, but there’s no mystery when it comes to that lovely nose. $18 B >>find this wine<<
  • 08 Cameron Hughes Lot 296 Crozes-Hermitage (Crozes-Hermitage): Pepper, poise, persistence, purity, & just the right amount of power. $18 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 08 Hughes Wellman Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Like going on a date with an 85-dollar Cab, but you’ve got a discount coupon. $55 A- >>find this wine<<
3

 

 

Rain, Raisins And Retrospect: Klein Constantia’s Battle To Hold On To The Past

Vinted on September 26, 2013 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, wine review

“This would be impressive, really, if you could see any of it.”

We’re driving through a winding, makeshift “road” of mud and ditches in the hills of Constantia. I’m wincing in sciatic pain with every bump, which come approximately forty nanoseconds apart courtesy of the damage done by a South African winter of intense rainfall and flooding. The impossibly young winemaker Matthew Day is my guide on a day in which the clouds have decided to settle almost directly on top of Klein Constantia’s mountainous estate vineyards.

It doesn’t help that I’m also having panic attacks with almost as much frequency as we’re encountering those bumps, thanks to what the orthopedist told me about my blown-out lumbar disk, just before I left for South Africa: “you should be okay to travel… but if your ankles roll, or you loose control of your bowels, then that’s a medical emergency that will require immediate surgery.”

Loose control of my bowels?!??? This is NOT what you tell a borderline-hypochondriac who’s prone to anxiety attacks right before he’s about to get on a plane for two days of non-stop travel!

Let’s just say that it’s tough to focus on cloud-covered viticultural beauty when you’re irrationally-but-constantly worried about literally loosing your sh*t.

There’s a point to our vineyard tour, which we have to abandon early due more to the poor state of the muddy roads than to my physical and mental issues. Day looks out at the wet mist; “our goal is to farm here for the next three hundred years, and we only have this soil to do it; so we’re trying to get away from the ‘old style’ of farming.”

The “old style” – spraying pesticides, conventionally farming – is about the only “old” thing from which Klein Constantia is attempting to move away. Otherwise, the focus is to restore the quality behind a name that was once synonymous with the greatest wines in the world…

Read the rest of this stuff »

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California Winemakers May Routinely Use Formulas To Achieve Certain Scores

Vinted on September 24, 2013 binned in best of, commentary

During one of my many recent Left Coast jaunts, I had a rather disturbing conversation with a California winemaker over dinner. It’s a conversation that haunted me for weeks afterward, until I could catch up with that particular winemaker (who needs to remain anonymous for reasons that should become obvious very quickly) and get more detailed information on the topic that we’d discussed.

The short version of the story is that the winemaker with whom I spoke referenced a matrix he’d developed that set qualitative and quantitative targets – for color, extraction, sugar levels, tannin, taste profiles, etc. – for achieving specific scores from specific U.S. wine critics.

Not a wide ranges of scores, but in some cases, targeted score ranges that were quite narrow (between three or four points).

While the matrices began innocuously enough – as reference points for achieving certain styles or quality levels of wines more quantitatively – in some cases they morphed into tools meant to target specific scores from certain critics for marketing purposes. And this winemaker hinted that such matrices / formulas were and are fairly common tools in terms of fine winemaking in California.

Apparently, certain characteristics are almost guaranteed to get you a better chance at a particular score from particular critics. There are companies that will do similar analysis and – for a fee that is apparently not unsubstantial – will tell you when (harvest timing, etc.) and how (extraction, manipulations, etc.) to make your wine, based on that analysis, complete with target score ranges in major wine publications…

Read the rest of this stuff »

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For September 23, 2013

Vinted on September 23, 2013 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!

  • 07 Arnaldo Caprai Collepiano Sagrantino di Montefalco (Montefalco): No roast can really hope to withstand its spicy, leathery power. $55 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 07 Tenuta Castelbuono Montefalco Sagrantino (Montefalco): Draw curtains, cook robust beef stew, & crank The Stones' "Paint It Black" $37 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 07 Scacciadiavoli Sagrantino di Montefalco (Montefalco): Intense leather-clad red berry on mountain top screaming "I have THE POWER!" $37 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Hugel & Fils "Hugel" Gewurztraminer (Alsace): Do you have an intimidating battle cry? This does. And it's "lycheeeeeeeeeeeee!" $23 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Quinta do Vallado Quadrifolia (Douro): A juicy four leaf clover that your friends will be very, very happy you did not look over. $15 B >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Quinta do Vallado Douro Red (Douro): Like Dirty Harry, only after he finally got in touch with his softer, lively feminine side. $20 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 09 Quinta do Vallado Reserva Red (Douro): Give it time to sleep off all of that new oak, & it will awaken dusty, spicy & excellent. $60 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 07 Quinta do Vallado Touriga Nacional (Douro): Meat, leather, blood, grit, soul… this animal has minerals & anise in its claws. $60 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 09 Ken Forrester T Noble Late Harvest (Stellenbosch): They are now serving tasty orange marmalade… to the old gods on Mt. Olympus! $55 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Quinta da Raza Branco Alvarinho Trajadura Branco (Minho): Friendly, but it's also cloying & not totally aware of personal space. $13 B- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Gainey Merlot (Santa Ynez Valley): Versatile enough to double as a Swiss Army Knife, the kind that includes the little corkscrew. $24 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Gainey Riesling (Santa Ynez Valley): Goes down easily enough to be considered a dangerous weapon from your liver's perspective. $15 B >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Gainey Limited Selection Chardonnay (Santa Rita Hills): Lithe & toasty, lovely & gritty, rustic & refined; so basically, its a gem $38 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Gainey Chardonnay (Santa Rita Hills): Not shy about its sweet & buttery side, but you'll like t he cut of its spunky jib, sir! $22 B >>find this wine<<

 

 

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