Posts Filed Under best of

Stop Hating On Pinotage, Already

Vinted on January 19, 2012 binned in best of, commentary, overachiever wines, wine review

Seriously. Stop hating on Pinotage.

Why? Because there’s nothing “wrong” with it.

I am here today to tell you that Pinotage is not bad; it is simply different. And if you don’t like this oft-maligned but more-oft-misunderstood South African cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut, that’s your prerogative. Just stop drinking it and shut about it, already, then. I mean, Pinotage has some high-profile wine critics who are haters right now – for Pete’s sake, Lettie Teague expresses disdain for it on her friggin’ homepage.

Yes, the worst of them (Pinotages, I mean, not wine critics) smell too much like overly-aged smoked meat wrapped in bananas and dipped into a vat of acetone that’s being bioled over a tire fire. I fully acknowledge that, okay?

But riddle me this, Wine Man: what bargain-basement version of any variety doesn’t have its fair share of sh*tty-tasting bottlings? Ever had really bad Cab? Terrible Pinot? Of course you have. Pinotage is no different than any other fine wine grape (yes, I meant to put the “fine” part in there), in that bad fruit in incapable winemaking hands results in a terrible wine, overemphasizing the worst qualities of any grape. It just so happens that Pinotage has more ammunition with which to work than most in the off-odors department.

That doesn’t mean that Pinotage cannot be beguiling when the right fruit gets into the right winemaking hands. It just means that there’s a little more of a deft balancing act to be attained when dealing with Pinotage.

But I know it can be done, and done well, because I’ve tasted some first-hand…

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The Top 10 Most Popular Articles Of 2011

Vinted on December 21, 2011 binned in best of

“…and even if he’s a lazy man, and the Dude was certainly that – quite possibly the laziest in Los Angeles County… which would place him high in the runnin’ for laziest worldwide…

The Stranger, from The Big Lebowski

Yes, this is a lazy post. But while it certainly qualifies for being labeled as lazy, some interesting insights can be gleaned from it so I’d challenge those who’d also try it qualify it as lacking any value. Note that I didn’t say it delivers a lot of value, just that it doesn’t lack for any value. Aw, f*ck, why am I doing this to myself again? Just deal with it, I need a break after putting together the last top ten list (which was a butt-load of work).

What am I blathering about? I’ll tell you what I’m blathering about, man! I’m gonna give you another annual top ten list – this time, it’s the top ten most popular 1WD articles of the year.

In the 2010 incarnation of this list, I mused that a) 1WD readers love wine topic controversy, and b) I would no longer be able to use the 2010 method of determining the most popular articles (counting comments) again. And both pieces of dime-store philosophizing insight proved to be true in 2011. Controversy in the wine world was, once again, no stranger to these virtual pages, and it got your collective wine geek blood pumping – particularly when it came to the uber-geeky topics of wine yeasts, how wine critics rate (or don’t rate!) the wines that they taste, and the always-religious-level-debate-inducing debate around Biodynamics.

In terms of measuring engagement, the days of folks dropping in with a quick comment to say “nice job” are now far behind us; those thumbs up are now given as re-tweets and/or Facebook “Likes” (which I think we should also be doing for wines themselves, but that’s another story entirely…). So instead of counting comments as in previous years, I opted to have report back what it thought were the most engaging 1WD articles of the year, since their calculation appears to take into account comments and social media reach through sharing on platforms such as twitter. It’s NOT perfect, as it misses key metrics such as video views (which surely would have put my video interviews with rocker Les Claypool and social media maven Gary Vaynerchuk at the top of the list), and because of a three-way tie at the #9 spot, there are actually 12 posts listed and not 10; but it’s got more positives than negatives so let’s go with it.

I’ve excluded giveaways requiring comments for reasons that should be obvious (if they’re not, just keep drinking!). And as in previous years, the list doesn’t really include the articles I consider my personal faves from 2011 – but the list isn’t about me, it’s about you. And for those just recently tuning into 1WD, this is as good a way as any to catch up on the content that stirred the most discussion during the past twelve months.

And so… here they are…!

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The Top 10 Most Interesting Wines Of 2011

Vinted on December 20, 2011 binned in best of, Most Interesting Wines of the Year, wine review

It’s with great pleasure (and after a sh*tload of hard work, not to mention wine tastings) that I reveal the 2011 version of’s Most Interesting Wines Of The Year!

The “competition” (such as it is, though it really isn’t such) was once again fierce, due to the volume of wines I tried in 2011 (up again from 2010 – considerably) and in the high level of quality of many of the wines to which I had the good fortune of being exposed through hundreds of samples, dozens of visits, blah-blah-blah.

The average price tag of the wines in this year’s list is once again on the high side (around $69), but there’s a price to be paid in creating a product that stirs the emotions, I suppose – the good news is that while several *very* expensive bottles are on the list, some of the best can be had for a relatively-reasonable $35-$40 per bottle.

For those of you who are new all of this and at this point are wondering what the hell I’m raving on about:

  • I compile this list annually. It is NOT intended to be a “best of” or “highest rating” or “circle jerk” list (no mater what the PR folks do with it!).
  • It is intended to be a list of arbitrarily-chosen wines that stood out, to me, as being particularly interesting for any number of reasons, not least of which are quality and complexity, and to call attention to those wines that I found most compelling this year – wines that make me want tot tackle the mountain of samples in my basement in search of another that might be somewhat like it. Actually, isn’t that how most non-chemical addictions start? Ah, whatever…
  • These are not wines released in 2011 (though I try to favor recent releases so that you have a chance of actually trying the wines in this list), they are wines that I tasted in 2011.  Not all the wines I tasted in 2011 qualified – the wines have to be at least somewhat available so that you have a shot at trying them.
  • Also, the list of finalists included some wines tasted in late December 2010 (since this list is compiled in its final form in mid-December).

This year, I’m happy to also announce that the list comes complete with a new badge,  created by Mofunsun Enterprises, LLC (a.k.a. design rock-star Jeffrey Sun) who also designed the badges I use each week in my wine reviews (see above). Producers included in the list below are free to use the MIW badge in any way that they see fit, so long as it is not modified (those interested can contact me for details).

This is, by far, the most difficult content for me to compile each year. No pressure, but if you don’t enjoy it then bah-humbug, you can go sit on an inappropriate wine-stopper. As in previous years, you will find some surprises in this list.I invite you to react, comment, and have fun, so long as you agree to take it for what it really is: a celebration of wine’s pleasure and subjectivity.


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Pennsylvania’s Privatization Bid Is One Glass Of Wine, Two Glasses Of Bull Honkey

Vinted on November 14, 2011 binned in best of, commentary, wine news

Everybody knows that I “love” the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board [ Editor’s note: this is a boldfaced lie; I think the PLCB acts like a Communist monopoly and therefore I actually hate the PLCB ].

At least, I loved the recent move by Governor Tom Corbett to appoint Joseph “Skip” Brion (that’s his real nickname, by the way) the new PLCB Chairman, since both Corbett and Brion appear to be in favor of privatizing the state Commonwealth’s monopoly alcohol sales system – and they’re supporting House Bill eleven (HB11) which seeks to amend the existing Liquor Code “providing for the privatization of sales of wine and spirits in this Commonwealth through abolition of the State Liquor Stores.”

But as much as I’d love to see privatization take hold and the free market rein when it comes to alcohol sales in my home state Commonwealth, it’s become clear to me that, technically speaking, HB11 is actually not in the best interests of PA’s wine-consuming public; I would describe HB11 as Bull Honkey. As in, a big, stinking, steaming load of Bull Honkey.

Why?  Two reasons, my vino-loving friends, neither of which portends any favorable outcomes from HB11 when it comes to actually letting the free market into the ring of PA’s liquor sales and distribution…

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