Archive for November, 2013
It’s time for wine writers and wine geeks to heave a collective, heavy sigh.
Just as every story about Australia is spiritually obligated to include a photo of the Sydney Opera House (seriously, what is with that?), the close of November brings the wine geek heartburn of Ye Olde Dreaded Thanksgiving Day Wine Pairing Article.
Long-time 1WD readers already know how I feel about the subject of Ye Olde Dreaded Thanksgiving Day Wine Pairing Article. But there is NO way that any wine writing gig is letting a wine writer out of having to pen that one, because people apparently want the help. Ironically, it’s the very situation that causes wine drinkers angina – the fact that the Turkey Day dinner table, with its clashes of foodstuffs of various flavors, textures, and sweetness levels, is a veritable mine field for any one wine pairing choice – that makes the task of recommending wines for Thanksgiving dinner more or less impossible.
Seriously. It’s like Strangelets or Antiparticles. Theoretically they’re there, and theoretically we can test for their existence, but not without a crap ton of work and learning from failed attempts. Actually, in the case of Strangelets, testing for their existence in a large scale particle collider could theoretically create a chain reaction that turns all matter on Earth into Strangelets, which would suck major donkey bong (but only for a few millionths of a second, after which you’d just be a bunch of Strangelet particles) if it happened on Thanksgiving and you were really looking forward to your Aunt’s pumpkin pie. Best if we just not think about that one from here on out, okay?
Anyway… there are general guidelines that can reduce the impossibility quotient of the Turkey Day wine decision, and this year I’ve used the Answers.com wine gig as the outlet for my latest take on those. They’re in Dos/Don’ts format, and include at least one reversal of a a previous Thanksgiving dinner wine recommendation that I’ve given in the past, which if nothing else can provide you some fodder for making fun of me and calling me a hack, which is another annual tradition for some people (if you’re one of them: you’re welcome!)…
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“All your wine media are belong to us!” And you thought you were safe from me in the wine print world, didn’t you? Not so fast, jerky!
One of the wine biz print publications that is isn’t going totally broke (and in fact appears to be going strong as both an on- and off-line force in wine media) is Wine Business Monthly. I’m happy to report that I’ve got an article in this month’s issue, sexily titled “Concrete Vat Innovation in Argentina: New troncoconic concrete vat design said to give wine more character and rounder mouthfeel.”
I can just feel your nipples hardening at the mere mention of trococonic vats!
Okay, not really.
But for a lot of people making wine, this kind of tech innovation is a fun (though very geeky-technical) read. Anyway, I’m happy to have had an opportunity to contribute to WBM, and it was fun trying to surreptitiously inject my gonzo style ever so slightly into a piece of technical writing.
The idea for the article had a circuitous route to my conscious brain. After judging in the 2013 Argentina Wine Awards, I had the pleasure of re-visiting Zuccardi‘s estate, and catching up with the affable Sebastián Zuccardi (a fellow judge at the Awards, and one of the winemaking sons of Director José Alberto Zuccardi).
During our tour, after marveling at the nigh-endless stream of trucks delivering grapes to fuel their massive operation, I asked Sebastián if we could get an update on their experimental winery-within-a-winery that I’d first seen back in 2011. Sebastián was pretty eager – and all smiles – in showing me what they’d been up to there over the two years since I first visited (but then, Sebastián is pretty eager and all smiles about most things).
Turns out that Zuccardi had been pretty busy little innovators in that interim, during which they’d been perfecting the design on new concrete vats that Sebastián is convinced greatly improve the mouthfeel of some of their wines. I’m inclined to agree, having tasted the promising results. I took some notes, snapped a few pictures, and asked the WBM editors if they were interested, which they were.
To find out more about the Zuccardi’s long-standing love affair with concrete, and to get your winemaking geek on, go read the WBM article!
- 11 Bonny Doon Querry? Cider (N/A): The fruit is true, the finish long, the palate refined, & the attitude exceedingly friendly. $16 B >>find this wine<<
- 10 Bonny Doon Jespersen Vineyard Syrah (Edna Valley): Has an incredibly promising future, though she has yet to chose her major. $40 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 10 Bony Doon Old Telegram (San Benito County): Cherry, mint, dark fruit & meat all working together building a powerful skyscraper. $45 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 11 Bonny Doon Contra (Contra Costa County): Challenging & kick-ass enough to keep both Mad Dog Rizer & Scorpion Bean entertained. $18 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 12 Bonny Doon Clos de Gilroy (Central Coast): Floral, lithe, peppery, but also rustic and demanding enough to keep you on your toes. $20 B >>find this wine<<
- 12 Bonny Doon A Proper Claret (California): Polite, pungent, piquant, and properly poised… though somewhat imprudently funky. $16 B >>find this wine<<
- 12 Alchemist Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley): Raspberry, meat & enough cinnamon to supple your next X-mas cookie exchange baking party $28 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 11 Alchemist Chardonnay (Willamette Valley): Low-key & acerbic, until you get in on the side of its vibrant, storytelling good graces $28 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 11 Union Wine Company Kings Ridge Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley): Pepper spice on my face, lookin' on the case, tryna find hella taste $17 B >>find this wine<<
- 12 Union Wine Company Kings Ridge Riesling (Willamette Valley): My liege, the bounty of the fully-loaded apple cart hath arrived! $13 B >>find this wine<<
- 12 Union Wine Company Kings Ridge Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley): Seance in progress, channeling spirits of many a Juicyfruit flavor. $13 B >>find this wine<<
- 12 Union Wine Company Underwood Pinot Noir (Oregon): "Went down 2 dinner in his Sunday best & rubbed the pot roast all over his chest" $12 B >>find this wine<<
- 09 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills): Jazz-tinged rock band with diverse influences, and playing all original tunes. $54 A- >>find this wine<<
– Cool-climate Syrah – touch of Viognier
– neutral oak – low alc
Best – Jonathan Pey”
It’s always nice to get something – anything – that isn’t formulaic when you open something up from the wine sample pool. So much juice comes into 1WD central sometimes, accompanied with letters that begin impersonally (not an auspicious start when you’re trying to stand out among a deluge) with “Dear wine writer,” “Editor,” or – directly from-letter-mail-merge-misfire-embarrassment hell – “Dear [blank].”
So… Jonathan Pey’s personalized note stood out when I yanked it out of the shipping box, along with a bottle of Pey’s 2011 Spicerack “Punchdown” Syrah. When I read the hand-written addition (reproduced – and pictured – above), I got a chuckle out of it. I mean, I try not to pigeon-hole myself in terms of stylistic preferences, but it’s true that I am often giving high ratings to extremely well-crafted, complex, age-worthy wines that I personally wouldn’t want to drink (my personal drinking preferences, in my view, should have little to do with the “grade” a wine might get, given that your preferences might be different). I quite happily drink a crap-ton of “B+” wines, ecstatic that I’ve received them for free (and probably more ecstatic than the producers receiving less than an “A”), and happy there’s enough juice left over in that bottle to drink during dinner after I’m done reviewing it.
But it got me thinking… am I that easily transparent, even after all of my careful work (careful by my lazy standards, anyway)? I mean, I smiled at Pey’s note, but I also wanted to crumple it up and toss it in the fireplace, because it seemed so… smug… as if he was thinking “I’ll bet this guy is like those hipster East Coast Somms, all up into under-ripe 13% abv wines that smell like bush stems and taste of battery acid!”
Turns out I am that transparent, after all, but Pey’s not that smug, and his small production wine (15 barrels) tastes nothing like tea made from green vine stems…
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