Archive for December, 2015

Ho-Ho-Holy Crap, The Holidays Are Upon Us! (December 2015 Wine Product Roundup)

Vinted on December 16, 2015 binned in book reviews, wine products

Ok, last-minute shoppers, I present (see what I did there?) to you the December 2015 edition of the 1WD Wine Product Roundup, in which I dive into the non-vinous portion of the product sample pool.

Today, I’ve two items that will receive the deeper-dive inspection.

Aura wine glass

image: auraglass.com

The first is something about which I’ve serious mixed feelings: the Aura rotating wine glass.

The idea behind this one is interesting: create a glass that almost eliminates the potential to spill its contents, in that it cannot really be knocked over; as a side benefit, make it easy to swirl the wine inside of it (by the way, do any of you other wine nerds find yourself swirling any liquid in a glass? water? orange juice? I do that all of the time…).

First, the good news: it is, in fact, insanely difficult to spill wine poured into the Aura. While seeing the thing rotating on a table is a bit disconcerting at first (it has a weighted ball in its center, and so never actually sits “upright” when set onto a table), the effect overall is very, very cool. And, the center weight and large bowl dimension does seem to make swirling a bit easier when it’s in your hand.

The bad news is twofold: first, it’s expensive (over $50 for both the large and small versions); second, the trade-off for the Aura’s sturdiness is the thickness of its glass, which makes the rim a bit too thick for my tastes. Overall, this one is probably best reserved as a gift for the wine lover who quite literally has everything else.

Thirsty Dragon

image: hholt.com

I’m a bit more enthusiastic over the second product, Suzanne Mustacich’s Thirsty Dragon: China’s Lust for Bordeaux and the Threat to the World’s Best Wines (Henry Holt & Company, 338 pages, about $20). While one could argue that Bordeaux’s are not the best wines on Earth, it’s hard to argue that they’re not at least in the running, so we’ll forgive the dramatic subtitle.

It helps that Mustacich not only has a lot of wine writing under her belt, but that she also lives in Bordeaux and is an “insider” to the insane model that they execute for selling their wines. You might not think that a book that focuses on a culture clash between how China (as buyers) and the Bordelais (as sellers) would be all that interesting (this is a wine book that’s recommended to be listed in the Business & Economics section, by the way). But in this case, you’d be wrong.

Thirsty Dragon delves into the odd business dance between China and France in manners that are at times suspenseful (digging into brand squatting and counterfeit-busting operations) and humanistic (getting inside the heads of wine producers impacted by all of the madness in how they conduct their livelihoods). The result is a well-executed read, and one that might just give you some underbelly details about the wine business that you can never “unsee.”

Cheers!

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For December 14, 2015

Vinted on December 14, 2015 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!

  • 12 Ventana Estate Pinot Noir (Arroyo Seco): Herbal to start, supple to end, but it's punching just a tad below its weight class. $30 B >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Clayhouse Vineyard Red Cedar Vineyard Syrah (Paso Robles): Ultimately, it's all about juicy fun, and it's ready to roll right now. $14 B >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Middleton Family Wines Inconceivable Queen of Tides Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley): Worth conceiving a sip of its toasty elegance $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir (Sonoma County): Like the independent art house film that totally beguiled you. $45 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 14 De Morgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch): A study in pleasing contradictions, just like its gorgeous place of birth. $39 A- >>find this wine<<
  • NV Blandys Alvada Rich 5 Year Old Madeira (Madeira): Not entirely sure of its nutty, vibrant self; but it has little to worry about. $20 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Keenan Spring Mountain District Cabernet Franc (Napa Valley): Open, wait for funk to blow off, then indulge in deliciousness. $68 A- >>find this wine<<
  • NV La Valle Primum Brut (Franciacorta): By Jove! I say, good man, be a good sport & hurry up & toast the almonds! Toast the almonds! $35 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Wente Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc (Livermore Valley – San Francisco Bay): Fun – & deceptively gulp-able – guava and melon grass. $15 B >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Crooked Vine Winery Cabernet Sauvignon (Livermore Valley): Peel away those ripe plums, & smiling, tart red fruits will greet you. $42 B+ >>find this wine<<
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Don’t Yet Weep For Vinous Humanity (Wine.com’s Top 100 Wines 2015)

Vinted on December 10, 2015 binned in commentary, wine news

Hey, speaking of popularity contests

Wine.com 100 2015

image: wine.com

Another top-100 list was recently published, only in this case it’s (thankfully) not about wine blogs, but about wine sales: Wine.com’s annual Top 100 wines, chosen strictly by sales numbers (as they put it, “While many publications rank wines based on the opinions of their wine critics, we wanted our customers to be the judge, voting with their wallets…“).

I’m probably going to get flamed for typing this, but the top ten in the 2015 version of Wine.com’s 100 does NOT make me weep for our vinous huminty. Quite the contrary, actually; while it’s not going to polish the tastevins for most of the hipster sommeliers out there, I think that the 2015 Wine.com 100 speaks of general good tidings in terms of the How/What/How Much when it comes to wine consumers parting with their hard-earned cash…

Read the rest of this stuff »

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OK, Everyone, Remain Calm And Have Another Sip (Wine Website Ranking Madness)

Vinted on December 8, 2015 binned in commentary, wine blogging
Excel Wines Top 100 Wine BLogs 2015

image: ExelWines.co.uk

Ok, everyone… calm down.

Pour another glass of something nice.

Have a sip. Relaaaaax.

Feeel zeee tension leeeaaaving your body…

Every once in a while, we get a roundup/list/ranking of wine websites, and then oscillate between being happy for some of the sites on the list, and getting bent out of shape about the ones that aren’t on it (or taking issue with the reasons/methodology/stats behind the construction of said list).

The latest is an attempt at measuring and ranking wine blog influence by a Scottish wine purveyor, Exel Wines.

For me, it’s great to see so many passionate people’s excellent wine-centric websites included. Other than the additional bit of exposure that it brings to those websites, and the potential for discovering some new (to you) and interesting (to you) wine blogs listed therein, I think that the following popular Internet meme/graphic accurately sums up how much of a f*ck most of you ought to be giving these lists in general:

Read the rest of this stuff »

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