Posts Filed Under commentary

Chile and Peppers (or “Wine Shopping in the Veggie Aisle”)

Vinted on October 25, 2010 binned in commentary

Am I crazy for thinking Chilean wines still have way too much pyrazine/green pepper action?

Well… am I???

That’s a question that’s been on my mind lately, especially after taking part in the Wines of Chile red blends on-line tasting recently and finding myself in the minority of participants who found the levels of nettle / green pepper aromas in the reds almost… distracting.  The Syrah-based wines showed the most promise (and to me the lower amounts of pyrazine action).  In my experience, those green-ish aromas are ok in very, very small quantities, adding hints of interesting smells to the dark fruits and giving reds the occasional bump from “very good” to “astoundingly complex” territory.

Notice I am saying “very very small quantities” and I mean just that – the pyrazines that contribute to those aromas are potent and a little goes a loooooong way, baby.

To be honest, I’m beginning to think that Chile may never really get it totally together on this; it might just be part of their climate, their terroir, their vinous destiny.

Which means that Argentina might be poised to clean Chile’s clock in the South American fine red wine market.

Not all Chilean reds are overly green, and I’m not the only one who thinks that Syrah might be the variety with the brightest (and least green) future in Chile: Michael Cox from Wines of Chile said the same thing during his talk at the recent European Wine Bloggers Conference in Vienna.

BUT… After tasting more and more examples of excellent, complex, and reasonably-priced higher-end red blends from Argentina, I’m growing increasingly more convinced that Argentina’s future is looking rosey… er, make that dark red… and that the one who might suffer most from that success is Chile, at least in the U.S. because consumers here probably don’t prefer the wet blanket of green bell pepper aromas laying all over the dense black fruit of their supple reds.

This all really hit home for me when I caught up with Argentine producer Doña Paula’s Edgardo Del Pópolo, their head Viticulturalist and Operations Manager, for dinner in downtown Philly to taste through their recent releases and generally talk shop.  Edgardo didn’t think I was crazy for being turned off by the pyrazines in Chilean reds, but he was a bit more diplomatic about the differences and saw them mostly as complimentary.  He did, however, offer this tidbit:

“In South America, we have a saying: shopping for wine here is like shopping at the grocery; in Argentina you get your fruit, and in Chile you get your vegetables…”

Never mind that Doña Paula’s Torrontes is a killer entrant into invigorated the S. American white wine market (it’s got a killer nose of passion and star fruits); their Seleccion de Bodega Malbec is not only proof that Argentina has nailed the dark-fruit-profile red thang, it’s also a great example of how complex (think hints of graphite) and age-worthy Malbec can be in the right hands.

And the pepper?  Black, white, but definitely not green.  Sign me up, baby.

So… I ask YOU… am I crazy?  Shout it out in the comments.

To get you started, here are some of the responses (the serious and not-so-serious!) to that same question when I posed it on twitter and facebook last week…

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K is For K-rap Lawsuit? (The First Time I’ve Banned a Wine Product)

Vinted on October 5, 2010 binned in commentary

Hopefully it will be the last time, as well.

[ Also, please be forewarned that this post contains several references to the concept of poop. ]

By now, the more on-line socially active of you (sounds sexy!) will have not only heard about the kerfuckle over at Blake Gray’s excellent blog The Gray Market Report between some the blog’s Anonymous commenters and K Vintners winemaker Charles Smith.

Since the announcement of the lawsuit (which, in a nutshell, centers on a complaint of libel that the Anonymous commenters on the original GMR post), lots of blogs have reacted to various aspects of the suit.

I’m not going to talk about any of that.

I’m going to talk about my reaction to what I consider a totally frivolous lawsuit, the primary purpose of which, as far as a I can discern, is to stimulate economic recovery for the law industry while causing headaches for Blake Gray, Google, and anyone else involved.

My reaction: K Vintners will never again be mentioned in the virtual pages of, unless Charles Smith and K publicly take a different approach in all of this, and quickly. The primary reasons for such a drastic measure?

  1. I don’t want readers having to worry about being wrapped up in lawsuits.
  2. I won’t have readers treated like they have the brains of poop-flinging monkeys – which is essentially what Smith and K are doing by filing this type of lawsuit; they’re sort of telling you that you are unable to discern a smarmy, anonymous comment from the reasonable musings and opinions of an intelligent blog reader.

I sincerely hope this is the only time I will ever have to do something like this; but for now, Smith can stick with the many accolades for his wines from the traditional press, where he can feel safe and secure that people can’t respond anywhere near as quickly; and, presumably, let his ego grow to monstrous proportions in the meantime…

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Alive And Kicking: Has NY Wine Come Of Age?

Vinted on September 22, 2010 binned in best of, commentary, wine review

Ten years ago, on a trip with friends to New York’s Finger Lakes wine country, I bought a few bottles of bubbly.

I was not a pseudo-wine-pro back then; I was an avid consumer (that term still applies!), and the majority of my vacation travel was centered around wine exploration.  I had a budding interest, passionate zeal, and I knew what I liked though I would have had a lot more trouble telling you why, or explaining how, a wine I liked got to that point.

It was one of those gorgeous sunny Autumn days that was quickly turning into a chilly Autumn evening (no sun = no heat) and most of the Finger Lakes tasting rooms were closed or moments-away-from closing; we happened upon what was then a joint-producer tasting room featuring only local sparkling wines.

I knew what I liked, and I really liked the 2000 Chateau Frank Brut that evening.  So, my girlfriend and I bought some.

Ten years later, at the surprise 50th birthday party of one of dear friends (who helped us greatly in getting through the tough times leading up to the recent loss of our Weimaraner, Samson, and to whom we gave a bottle of 2007 Quinta do Vesuvio so you know we love her), I had occasion to open the 2000 Chateau Frank Brut – Dr. Frank is one of the birthday girl’s favorite wine producers (alongside the most recent offering of Chateau Frank’s non-vintage Riesling sparkler, Célèbre Cremant).

And it rocked.

The fruit had started to subside a bit, but what remained was bready, lively, and wonderful; still fresh, still food-friendly, still (in the words of Simple Minds) Alive & Kicking.

An apt comparison, it turns out, for the state of NY wine in general…

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