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Posts Filed Under California wine

Little Sister Is Serious (Wallis Family Estate’s New Parker-Friendly Cab Release)

Vinted on January 27, 2010 binned in California wine, wine review

This may be the first time that anyone has compared a high-end inaugural Napa Cabernet with a creepy video game. Probably because no one has been quite foolhardy cavalier enough to try it before, right?

The wine in question is a sample of Wallis Family Estate’s “Little Sister” Cabernet Sauvignon, which is seeing its first release with the bottling of the 2006 vintage; only 300 cases were made.  Wallis produces a (much) more expensive Diamond Mountain District Cab, hence the “Little Sister” moniker for the new release, a lower-priced (but still pretty expensive at $40) version that shares estate fruit with fruit from the wider Napa Valley.

And it was the “Little Sister” moniker that got me free-associating with the creepy video game.

The game in question is the award-winning Bioshock, which I stopped playing because, well, it’s creepy. The game is beautifully rendered, and the play is fantastic, but… it was just so damn serious.

Let’s see, for those unfamiliar with the plot of Bioshock, this ain’t gonna be easy…

Bioshock takes place in the 1960s in an enclosed underwater world called Rapture where society has completely broken down. The survivors of Rapture are genetically-enhanced, murderous psychopaths who are addicted to the substances that allow them to control their genetic powers.  Spooky school-aged girls called (wait for it…) Little Sisters (with sea slugs embedded in their stomachs – yeah, I know, just go with it) roam the halls of the underwater world, protected by huge, explosives-tossing zombies in antique dive suits, wielding large needles which they (this is the Little Sisters now, not the huge dive suit guys) use to extract the genetic super-substance from any dead psychopaths they come across.  Whew.

I told you it was creepy!

Anyway…

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“Fun and Messy and Wonderful” – An Interview With Buehler Vineyards’ Helen Buehler

Vinted on January 20, 2010 binned in California wine, interviews

Earlier this month, a guest on Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV caused a bit of a stir.

That is, if you consider over 550 comments and an eight-page forum thread devoted to the episode “a bit of a stir.”

The guest was Helen Buehler, who is a member of the family behind Buehler Vineyards, whose 2006 Napa Valley estate Cabernets have become members of the ‘90+ point review club’.

I missed of all the Wine Library TV hoopla involving Helen, as I’m not a regular viewer of Gary’s show – this has nothing to do with Gary, and everything to do with the fact that I’m borderline ADD and can’t watch any on-line video that’s over 3 minutes long.  In fact, I hadn’t seen the episode until Helen contacted me asking if I’d seen it, and generally wondering what my impressions were about the whole thing (my response, in a nutshell, was “I don’t think it’s a big deal.”).

Not one to miss an opportunity to selfishly capitalize on a prominent media event gain insight into the winemaking world, I thought it would make interesting reading to see what Helen had to say about the WLTV episode, get her take on what it’s like to grow up around wine, and see what changes she thinks the Millennial generation will bring to the wine market.  Helen agreed, and kindly accepted an interview invitation.

It seems ironic to me that one of the criticisms laid out against Helen from her WLTV appearance was that she lacked passion; while she may not come off on video as being passionate about wine tasting, she certainly comes off as passionate when she’s discussing winemaking.

If you’ve seen Helen’s WLTV appearance, then this interview will give you another perspective on Helen’s place in the wine world; if you haven’t yet seen it, then you can check it out at the end of this interview, formulate your own opinion on Helen’s representation of Buehler Vineyards, and (as always) share your thoughts in the Comments…

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Carrot-Top Elegance: The Inaugural Releases of Rossi-Wallace

Vinted on January 19, 2010 binned in California wine, wine review

I should just cut to the chase and tell you that the first releases from Rossi-Wallace border on beguiling, and that you should buy them now if you can, especially given their limited production.

But that’s just downright boring, right?  So, I feel obligated to kind of, you know, spruce it all up a bit.

I’ve been sitting on samples of the inaugural releases of Rossi-Wallace’s 2007 Napa Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for months – well, not literally sitting on them, of course, just quietly ignoring them in my cellar… ah, you get the idea…

I suppose that’s a sad commentary of just how behind I am in tasting samples.  A sadder commentary still is that I wasn’t already familiar with Rossi-Wallace’s winemaking team, despite the fact that  Ric Forman and Cheryl Emmolo have been involved in Napa wine in some way/shape/form for 40+ years.

Clearly, their time and experience have been very, very well-spent.

Rossi-Wallace’s namesake is a clever combination of the names of Forman’s and Emmolo’s red-headed mothers – just so you don’t confuse this post’s Carrot-top-reference in the title (we’re NOT talking about the comedian who seems hell-bent on trying to become a  Thundercats’ Liono look-alike wearing a tuxedo).

I could regurgitate the information on their website and press materials about the care and techniques they brought to bear on the first releases of their new label, but you’re smart folks and you can read all of that yourselves.  The bottom line is that if you like your Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to have the in-your-face, indelible stamp of modern, bombastic California winemaking, then these are NOT the wines for you…

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Hockey or Hokey? NHL Alumni Wine Series

Vinted on December 23, 2009 binned in California wine, commentary, pennsylvania, PLCB, wine products

Earlier this week, I could have had wine signed by Philadelphia Flyers bruising legend Dave “The Hammer” Schultz.

Dave’s wine, that is.  The Hammer Chardonnay.  Given Dave’s playing reputation as an enforcer, I’d hope that this Chard packs at least 14.5% abv and is an oak & fruit bomb that will knock you squarely on your ass after two glasses.

[ Editor’s note: I met The Hammer once.  He’s a very big and imposing man and I want to make it very clear that I am not making fun of him.  Thanks. ]

Dave’s wine is part of the NHL Alumni Signature Wine Series – wines that bear the picture and signatures of hockey greats like Gordie Howe (another Chard bottling), Wendell Clark (a Canadian-only Merlot) and Pat LaFontaine (a CA Cab) – the proceeds are divvied up among a few charitable causes:

There are three charitable components to the NHL Alumni Signature Wine Series™ wine program. First, a portion of the proceeds from every bottle sold will be donated to the charity of each player’s choice. Second, each of the teams’ Alumni Associations will receive a portion of the proceeds to be further donated to the charities of their choice. Finally, a portion of the proceeds will also benefit the NHL Alumni Association’s “Hockey’s Greatest Family Fund” which helps bring together former players to support charitable causes, assist former players in life after hockey and generally promote the game of hockey.

The wines are made by Ironstone Winery and distributed via MyWinesDirect.  I haven’t tried them yet, and I’m not holding my breath over it, either – both Dave Schulz and Bobby Clarke are legends in Philly, but thanks to the Communist-like liquor sales setup in the Flyers’ home state, those living in PA won’t be able to have the wines shipped to them. Oh, the irony

Personally, I view this as a logical guy response to Paris Hilton’s wine-in-a-canWhat do you think about celebrity wine and the NHL series?  Let’s hear it in the comments!

Cheers!

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