Archive for October, 2014
Lithe, balanced, light, and polite wines are de rigueur in the wine world at the moment.
Now, I love those wines, but my tastes are quite catholic, and so I dig (well-made, authentic) wines of all stripes (okay, excepting possibly Retsina). And once in a while, after sampling lots of lithe, balanced, light, and polite wines, I want something that is brazenly, almost stupidly, nearly obnoxiously in the other direction.
Enter two 2008 Italian wines from the sample pool, to the rescue!
The I-don’t-give-a-flying-crap-whether-or-not-you-like-me territory is usually reserved for fortified wines, occasionally you run into non-fortified versions in the vinous world, of which I am about to give you two examples. If the two wines featured here today had a theme, it would be “If it (meaning your palate) bleeds, we can kill it” (insert Ahhhhhrnaaaaaaald accent here).
I do NOT mean that in a bad way, as in they are palate-killers. I mean only that they unabashedly engage on an onslaught on your senses, and they make no ones about doing so.
Basically, these wines are kind of like Dutch and Dillon facing off (and flexing) in Predator. They don’t need to add the “[comma] f*ck-face” to the end of their sentences, because it’s implied by their baddass-ness. But since they don’t give a flying f*ck, they probably won’t say anything to you, anyway. The conversation between some (probably most) of you out there and these wines would look a little like this:
You: Hmmm… I’m not so sure I like these styles…
Them: [ silence, staring at you ].
You: Aren’t you guys gonna say anything?
Them: [ eyes narrow, eyebrows lower, silence interrupted by sound of machine guns being cocked ].
You: [ starts to cry ].
The final warning, I suppose, is that if you’re not a fan of wines that come on strong, and make a full-on assault of either your sinus cavities, palate, or both, and make exactly zero apologies for it, it’s best if you just turn back now…
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October is over? Already? WTF?!???
And so it’s time for another round up of the monthly Wine.Answers.com articles for your perusal.
If you’re looking for Halloween wine recommendations, I resisted revisiting that same old ground this year (so for that, you’ll just have to check out last year’s version, which still holds up just fine). Anyway, here’s the skinny on the October 2014 installments:
Three Things You Didn’t Know About Alsace Wine
History comes to the fore this month for Alsatian wine, that sometimes austere, sometimes bubbly, sometimes sweet, and sometimes very sweet juice that some of us geeks simply love.
Wine Book Review: “Wines of California: The Comprehensive Guide” by Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen
The World Wine Guys are at it again, this time taking on the daunting task of giving a comprehensive overview of CA wine. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in breadth and entertaining reading.
Wine Book Review: “Into the Earth: A Wine Cave Renaissance” by Daniel D’Agostini
A book about wine caves. Who knew? And it’s actually a damned good one, too, and some of those tricky photos therein are downright amazing. Worth a look, even if it’s limited to the caves of California wine country only.
What to Expect from Moscato Wine with Donnafugata’s Jose Rallo
My minor love affair with Sicily’s Donnafugata continues, this time in asking their jazz-singing marketing and quality guru Jose Rallo to give us an overview of what to expect from Moscato wine. Best to read this one with a glass of Zibibbo in hand, I’d say.
Cheers – and happy reading!
- 12 Donnafugata Sedara (Sicilia): Sprinkled with dried herbs, & asking you if anybody's interested in picking up some BBQ chicken pizza $15 B >>find this wine<<
- 12 Fritz Reserve Chardonnay (Russian River Valley): Crafted, for sure, but done so without at all feeling created, or manipulated. $55 A- >>find this wine<<
- 12 Fritz Russian River Valley Chardonnay (Russian River Valley): Walking a fine line between lithe & floral, and creamy & juicy. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 12 Vino Valpredo Wine Company Chardonnay (Sonoma County): Pleasingly pithy, lip-smackingly tasty, and lip-puckeringly energetic. $NA B >>find this wine<<
- 12 Jenner Sonoma Coast Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast): Maybe schizophrenic, but its split creamy/vibrant personality is a crowd-pleaser. $20 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 11 Cadaretta Springboard Red (Columbia Valley): Bright plum candles, all dripping ripe juice wax onto their cedar and spice handles. $50 A- >>find this wine<<
- 11 Cadaretta Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley): The fruits are sweet, dark & handsome, and they're skilled at grilling meat, too. $40 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 13 Cadaretta SBS Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (Columbia Valley): Lean, green, and not at all mean; tropical fruits, on a racy steak. $23 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 13 Renegade Wine Co Rose (Columbia Valley): Now here's a set of pithy red berry goodness that's operating well above its pay grade. $12 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 10 Pepper Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon (Walla Walla Valley): Only now just emerging from its dusty, brooding, dark-fruited slumber. $56 A- >>find this wine<<
- 12 Amavi Cellars Semillon (Walla Walla Valley): Big, yeah, it's big; but it's also nearly weightless in its clean, crystal clarity. $23 B+ >>find this wine<<
…is a Hungarian man with serious stones.
And he will gladly show them to you, if you ask. Actually, I think he might show them to you even if you don’t ask. He has them laid out on his front porch; dozens of them, organized by 21 different dulo (basically akin to climat). Of course, since we are talking about István Szepsy, not all of the dulo areas represented by his stony display are official; some are his own classifications, harkening back to a map of Tokai region parcels that dates back to 1816. Sixty percent of the holdings are recognized as first class vineyards under the current classification system in Tokaji.
At this point, we should pause and set up a bit of context for you: En route to my visit, my Hungarian handler (himself a winemaker and wine critic) introduced Szepsy like this: “I am now taking you to see the best winemaker… in the world!” So expectations were kind of high by the time we pulled up (late, of course – hey, we were in Hungary, after all! – with the small man himself waiting somewhat impatiently outside the gate) to Szepsy’s estate in the town of Mád.
History suggests that Szepsy should know what he’s doing when it comes to crafting wine in Tokaji: his family has been making wine in the region since (at least) the late 16th century. István Szepsy senior managed to hide a small independent vineyard parcel from the ruling Communists until the 1970s, so it’s not difficult to imagine how István junior got his independent streak. During the socialist regime, he planted about four hectares of his own vineyards, delivering the yield to the state combine until the ruling party changed in 1990.
Since then, Szepsy has pretty much focused obsessively on quality wine production without looking back: out of 52 hectares of plantings, less than 50,000 bottles are made. It’s now a total family business, and no second wines are made (whatever doesn’t make the cut is sold out in bulk). As Szepsy told me, “it’s a very fragile balance economically.” I doubt too many would want to try to get this guy to change his mind, though.
Back to the guy’s stones…
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