Archive for October, 2014
Every once in a while, when I tell people what I do for a living, I get a sort of snickering question along the lines of “does it bother you that part of what you do is total bullsh*t?”
These folks are usually referring to the studies, quoted by lazy media outlets ad nauseum, that purportedly debunked wine tasting as bull honkey when “expert” wine folk were given white wines with red food coloring and tricked into thinking that they were tasting red wines.
But what those snickering folks fail to realize is that wine criticism and professional wine tasting are no different than every other form of experiential criticism – movie reviewing, restaurant critiquing, you name it – in that they are the attempts of fallible humans to garner expertise and disperse helpful opinions to the best of their abilities while trying to overcome the ingrained perception wiring that helped us evolutionarily, but hinder us when it comes to consistent, robot-like precision.
To wit: my friend Alder Yarrow recently blogged about a study featured in the New Yorker, in which participants were tricked into thinking that fake tongues were their own, taste perceptions and all. Yes, seriously. Read it, the results and implications are fascinating.
I doubt we’ll see much lazy media attention on this study, however, because it would logically require those same lazy media to start asking people like Alder and me what wines pair best with crow sandwich…
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- 12 Domaine La Roquete Blanc Chateauneuf Du Pape (Chateauneuf Du Pape): Probably not a keeper. But… hot damn, is it sexy right now! $60 A- >>find this wine<<
- 12 Conde Villar Vinho Verde Rose (Vinho Verde): Espadeiro that's sparing none of the crowd-pleasing, party-enducing strawberry fun. $9 B- >>find this wine<<
- 12 Laetitia Estate Whole Cluster Pinot Noir (Arroyo Grande Valley): Oh, man, the whole cluster haters are really gonna be upset now. $40 A- >>find this wine<<
- 13 Tenuta Campo di Sasso Insoglio del cinghiale (Toscana): Something chewy this way comes; just leave your pre-judgments at the door. $30 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 12 Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio & Verduzzo (Venezia): PG gets more of a PG-13 treatment in which the vibrancy afterburners get turned on $13 B >>find this wine<<
- 10 Sanctuary Usibelli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Rutherford ): Has stuffing enough to suggest its adornments aren't superficial. $40 A- >>find this wine<<
- 11 Moniker Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino County): Like things aggressive? Then pull up some leather, light a stogie & grab a licorice $30 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 12 Moniker Pinot Noir (Mendocino County): The sweet tea and pithy citrus are tasty, but this conversation is kind of going nowhere. $30 B >>find this wine<<
- 12 Moniker Chardonnay (Mendocino County): You got the peaches I got the cream… & I might need to loose a couple of pounds, maybe. $23 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 08 Glenelly Grand Vin de Glenelly (Stellenbosch): Further proof that bacon goes well with anything, including, in this case, cigars. $27 B+ >>find this wine<<
I’m not sure that we need any more proof that I am an idiot workaholic, but last week a wine magazine hit the newsstands in Italy with yet more evidence in support of that.
During a (very) busy late Spring, I was contacted by my friend and co-judge in the 2013 Argentina Wine Awards, the Milan-born Alessandro Torcoli, who is the managing director of Civilta del bere. The pages of Cdb (loosely translated as “Culture of drink”) have been gracing the hands of wine and food lovers in Italy since 1974.
Alessandro wanted to know if I’d pen a feature for Cdb on the wine scene in America. “Which wine scene in America?” was my initial response, to which he more-or-less replied “all of them.” Capturing the trends and current happenings of all of the most important wine regions in the U.S. just seemed a challenge too cool to turn down, so I said yes. A crap-ton of work then ensued (I am over 40 now, so the chances that I will someday learn not to accept these workloads is probably approaching zero).
The finished article is now available (in Italian, of course, thanks to Alessandro’s translation), and it looks great (hopefully the text lives up to the presentation!). What was probably the most difficult part of the assignment was coming up with a list of thirty wines that I thought served as both an introduction to American wine, and as a faithful representation of American wine trends overall.
That part was… well, “ridiculously hard” seems somewhat appropriate. For sh*ts and giggles, I’m presenting the final list of those selected wines below. It’s certainly California/Pacific NW-heavy, but when you consider the fact that those regions account for well over 90% of all of the wine produced in the U.S., any other approach would’ve been totally disingenuous to the spirit of the article. I am quite sure that I will piss off no small number of the wine world with these selections, and most criticism that I failed to include wine/region/trend such-and-such will no doubt have some justifications. Against my better judgment, I have included short blurbs on why I choose the wines that I did.
As always, I welcome your flaming comments!
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As part of my incessant campaign to annoy the hell out of you by popping up just about everywhere when it comes to wine, I give you two more tidbits in the seemingly never-ending stream of Dude-ness in wine media. Look, at this point, I am kind of sick of me, too, okay?
First, I’ve contributed some content to the latest edition of PUBLIX Grape Magazine (for Fall 2014), all of it un-credited (but definitely not un-paid!). My text pops up all over the place in that one, particularly in some of the recipe wine pairings (and, while I didn’t write it, I had a hand in recommending the wine peeps profiled in the On Trend section highlighting Gen Y wine media rising stars, including our very own graduate, the former-unpaid-1WD-intern Shelby Vittek).
But the more significant contribution to this season’s Grape on my part is in the In Focus section, where I provide a primer on the wine crush, from foot treading to modern day machines that somewhat ironically emulate foot treading. Subscribe to Grape (for free) to check it out.
And in case you missed it, I was recently interviewed by TuscanyNow.com, discussing not Tuscany but one of my newest vinous loves, Sicily. Given the bang for the buck of the wines coming out of that island now, and the relatively broad spectrum of grapes that they are able to do well, combined with the entrenched Italian food-and-wine culture that pervades much of the U.S., there’s little reason 9aside from production numbers) why Sicily shouldn’t start kicking colon and taking names in terms of American market penetration. You can read the entire piece at the TN Blog.