Some of you asked for it, so here it is: our panel on how the pros taste wine from the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara, CA. Or most of our panel, anyway; as much of it as could be recorded before my video camera lost its juice.
More thoughts on the wines that we tasted during that panel, as well as on WBC14 itself, later this week. In the meantime, you now have about 50 minutes of vid to peruse if you’re curious as to how Steve Heimoff, Patrick Comiskey, and I suck the joy out of wine by tasting it critically!
1WineDude.com TV Episode 61: How The Pros Taste From WBC14
Ask Quivira winemaker (sorry, winegrower, as they prefer to call him) Hugh Chappelle for the Cliff Notes version of their style, and this is what you’ll get:
“One foot Old World, one foot New World.”
That’s a pretty darned good summation, based on my recent visit to their Dry Creek Valley winery. I should give you a similar Cliff Notes version of the entire Quivira story, before we get into the wines: A corporate drug company executive (Henry Wendt) gets attracted to a spot in Dry Creek Valley in the `80s, and as a avid fisherman gets upset at the decline in fish population in the nearby creek. Conventional farming is blamed, and a move to sustainable farming and Biodynamics ensues in the mid 2000s, after which Pete and Terri Kight purchase the place. Now they have 93 acres planted primarily to Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, along with a smattering of Rhone varieties such as Viognier, Grenache, and Mourvedre.
Quivira makes about 13,000 cases a year, using fruit from three estate vineyards, with a modest, restrained style that typically garners modest, restrained scores from mainstream wine critics.
Which, I think, means that those critics are missing the point of Quivira’s wines, which isn’t about conforming to a preconceived notion of how certain varieties – like Zinfandel – ought to be crafted (presumably into the highest bombast style wines possible). Maybe they’re taking the wild boar on Quivira’s label (a depiction of an adopted pet named Ruby who “died fat and happy” according to the Quivira staff) too literally, and assuming that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? Whatever…
Much of what Quivira seems to be about is turning those conventional notions of Californian Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel on their (sow’s) ears…
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There are moments that mark a sort of rite of passage for personalities in any field. With respect to writing on the topic of wine, there’s the first time you’re given a wine sample, the first time you’re invited to a tasting event or a tour of a wine region, the first time someone quotes your review of a wine, etc.
Like sex (okay, that’s a really poor comparison), they say you never forget your first time, and I suspect that in any case several of those first time events were almost as awkward an exchange as that first time.
I was recently involved in another first (for me) when it comes to being a wine personality (for lack of a better term): being asked to write a blurb for someone else’s wine book, the soon-to-be-released “Wines of South America: The Essential Guide” by Master Somm. Evan Goldstein.
On the finished product (a page proof copy of which I recently received), my blurb in support of Goldstein’s latest shares the back page with another blurb penned by the indefatigable Laura Catena of Catena Zapata; so I’m in very good company as far as covers go…
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