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I Hope Steve Heimoff Kicks My Ass (Thoughts on the Wine Bloggers Tasting Challenge)

Vinted on October 20, 2008 binned in commentary, wine bloggers conference, wine industry events

You know what?

I hope that Steve Heimoff kicks my ass.

Not literally, of course (hey, I didn’t study a bit of Wing Chun for nothin’!), but tastingly. (Is tastingly a word? Ah, who cares – adverbs kick ass!).

Who is Steve, and why should I want him to kick ass? And how does this relate to wine? Well… it’s… complicated

It actually has to do with the first-ever North American Wine Bloggers Conference being held this week in Sonoma, which both Steve amd I are attending (more on that later in the week). At about 5PM PT on Friday, some of the attendees will be taking part in a Wine Bloggers’ Blind Tasting Challenge – as described by the conference organizers:

Bloggers will test their skills in identifying grape varietals and regions. Because we will have only local Sonoma wines, the competition will focus on identifying the type of grape, determining the vintage year or AVA within Sonoma County, matching the wine to the label description, etc. This will be a social exercise with small groups sitting around tables and will be done in rounds, going from easy to hard. Ultimately, one winner will be crowned as the “Wine Blogger Top Taster”.

The last sentence is the one that seems to be causing some controversy among some of the wine blogging community. The controversial piece being the media coverage planned for this portion of the conference, the reaction to which you can read in detail in this not-so-safe-for-work discussion on the Wine Bloggers Conference group at OpenWineConsortium.org (title: “What Bullsh*t is this? So much for the Wine Bloggers Conference“).

The competition itself is meant to be friendly, with (hopefully) some fun moments with the media on hand to capture it all. The counter argument is that the media coverage will in effect exploit a community that has had its fair share of media exploitation already this year.

And it’s my hope that Steve (remember him?) takes part in the competition and kicks our blogging asses.

Because that would show us bloggers (myself included) that we have a lot yet to learn about wine and the art of tasting it, and eloquently writing about it. It’s easy for us to lose sight of that and get caught up in the ‘side show’ media elements of blogging. It’s great to have an opinion, but we also need to know what we’re talking about – and for wine, that foundation is built in tasting. As Lao Tzu said, “the great way is easy, but people chose the side paths…”

Oh, yeah, regarding Steve - he’s an author and long-time wine writer for Wine Enthusiast, and he is also a wine blogger. As such, he straddles the ‘newer’ and ‘older’ worlds of blogging and traditional wine media in a unique way. He’s a good blogger, too, in that he’s smart and opinionated enough to get people thinking about, talking about, and sometimes really, really not liking his takes on the world of wine. Steve and I have traded both barbs and compliments on-line, and I’ve got a lot of respect and patience for him – and I’m looking forward to meeting him in Sonoma, because I’d love to interview him about his take on the future of wine writing.

Anyway, Steve probably tastes hundreds to thousands of wines per year. This is way, way above the total tasted by most wine bloggers, myself included, by a factor of… well, I hate math but I’m sure the factor would be measured exponentially (ah – another kick-ass adverb!).

Which means that if he participated in the Blind Tasting Challenge, Steve could unleash a Chuck Norris level of whoop-ass on the rest of us.

That’s a good thing.

Because sometimes, we need that to keep our progressive, opinionated, but ultimately well-meaning blogger banter in perspective. Wine has been good to us bloggers, and not a day goes by when I’m not grateful to wine in some way/shape/form.

And I’m certainly not above having my butt handed to me (as I expect to have happen at the Bind Tasting) if it means I’m going to learn something and have another opportunity to increase my debt of gratitude towards wine.

Let the ass-kickings commence!

Oh, before I go… Steve, if you’re out there reading this, you should know that a Google image search of your name turns up this little ditty… I suppose there is some resemblance… not sure if it’s you but I really, really hope it is… and if it is, do you still have the Jethro Tull-style hat?


Cheers!
(images: steveheimoff.com, winebloggersconference.org, umass.edu)

The Passing of Papa Pinot (David Lett, 1939-2008)

Vinted on October 14, 2008 binned in commentary

I was sad to hear of the passing of David Lett last week, at the young age of 69.

David wasn’t as much of a household name as Robert Mondavi or Rodney Strong, but he was every bit as influential in putting U.S. wine on the map as his more visible peers. What Mondavi did for Napa, and Strong did for Sonoma, Lett did for Oregon wine.

In 1965, Lett came to the Willamette Valley looking for U.S. conditions that closely matched those of Burgundy, in order to make exceptional Pinot Noir. It didn’t bother him that the region had been widely dismissed as being too cold to make decent wine.

After selling textbooks to pay the bills, he created Eyrie Vineyards, and in 1979 entered his `75 South Block Reserve Pinot Noir into a French wine competition. It came in 3rd, besting some notable Burgundies.

Because the French are, well, French, this pissed then off and they held the competition again the following year. Lett’s wine came in 2nd; Oregon was no longer in wine-making obscurity – “Papa Pinot” had put them on the map.

To this day, Eyrie is still a great producer of age-worthy Pinot Noir and stellar Pinot Gris – both of which have previously found their way to the Dude & Dudette wedding anniversary dinnner table, which is no simple feat because I am a picky bastard when it comes to my wedding anniversary wines. Oh, yeah – lots of other critics and wine lovers dig it, to.

So today we tip our virtual hats to Papa Pinot, in gratitude for what he’s done for U.S. wine (and for my dinner table experiences!).

Cheers! (images: latimes.com)

Has Anyone Ever Told You that You Look Exactly Like… a Drunk? (Dispatch from a Wine Tasting Room)

Vinted on October 6, 2008 binned in best of, commentary, wine tasting

I’m guessing that most of you out there have probably been to a wine tasting room in a winery before, and went there to sample that winery’s wines.

Which means that the same number of you have probably encountered at least one severely drunken patron acting in a totally obnoxious way.

Which also means that the same number of you understand the phrase “suppressed the urge to do bodily harm.”

Now, I am fully aware that wine tasting room etiquette is not a novel topic, and has been covered before by several sources, including wineries themselves. Most of these sources talk about how to prepare yourself for a tasting room visit (no perfume, chewing gum, etc.) and how to taste the wine while you’re there (swirl, sniff, sip, savor, etc.).

They don’t tend to touch on what I’m about to lay down about wine tasting room etiquette, however.

Knowing me, it will come off as a bit of a rant, but it’s not meant to be a rant (and it’s not directed at you, dear reader – it’s directed at the small minority of wine tasting room visitors who just still don’t seem to “get it”).

And it’s a simple plea, really…


If you plan to get totally hammered on wine, and you happen to also be an obnoxious drunk,
please don’t go to a winery tasting room.

By providing a tasting room, a winery is primarily trying to teach you about – and to sell you – their wine. They are not providing a place for you to drink yourself stupid, get loud, and ignore the winery staff. There are places where you can do that (within reason) – they’re called bars.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t plan to have a great time when visiting a winery tasting room, and I’m not even saying that you should stay sober when you visit a winery tasting room (assuming you have arranged transportation, of course).

I’m just saying that you need to stay sober enough – enough to retain adequate coherence so that you can take advantage of the winery staff’s knowledge, ask them questions and engage them in conversation about their wines, and remain civil and reasonably polite to your fellow patrons.

I am saying that if you plan to get smashed and act in any way that you want when you hop on a winery tasting tour or visit a winery tasting room, then you need to stay home instead – because you’re not respecting the wine, the winery, or the the winery’s patrons.

And I don’t think that’s asking for too much.

Thus endeth Dude’s diatribe.

Cheers!
(images: rockstarsmommy.blogspot.com, pleasanthillwinemerchants.com, woodbridgeliving.com)

Found in Translation (Wine Tidbits to Kick-off Your Weekend)

Vinted on October 3, 2008 binned in commentary, wine blogging


OK… I’ve been sitting on a few wine-related tidbits that, taken individually, I probably wouldn’t have written about; but taken together, they seemed kinda fun.

The first tidbit comes to us by way of Italian wine website Sommelier.it, and proves that anyone can be wittier than me without actually trying too hard!

The folks over at Sommelier.it were kind enough to mention me – the fun comes in the English translation of that mention (as provided by Google). Here’s the original website text, in Italian:

Un altro wine blog molto originale, nel linguaggio, nell’aspetto e nel modo, spiritoso, di trattare i temi, 1 Wine Dude, Serious Wine talk for not-so-serious drinker , ovvero discorsi seri sul vino per bevitori non poi così seri

And here is the Google translation, in English:

Another wine blog very original language, appearance and manner, witty, to deal with the issues, 1 Wine Dude, Serious Wine talk for not-so-serious drinker, or Speeches for serious wine drinkers not-so-serious

Speeches for serious wine drinkers not-so-serious“? Man, that is way better than my tagline! Dammit….

The next tidbit comes to us from global beverage news website Just-Drinks.com and was kindly pointed out to me by a friend / reader. I couldn’t make this story funnier if I tried so I’m just going to reproduce wholesale for your enjoyment:

FRANCE: “Vin de merde” wine producer sells out

24 September 2008 | Source: just-drinks.com editorial team

A French winemaker who named his latest vintage “Vin de Merde“, or “Shit Wine”, has sold almost his entire production in what is seen as a triumph over severe advertising restrictions.

[ Editor's Note: Told you I couldn't make this any funnier if I'd tried ]

Asked why he named his wine “Vin de Merde”, Jean-Marc Speziale, from the Languedoc region of France, said the area needed the attention.

“This draws attention to the fact that we make very good wines,” he told just-drinks yesterday (23 September), adding his 5,000 bottles were almost gone after the nationwide publicity they garnered.

The bottles labels are decorated with a fly on the corner of the label, and a tagline underneath the name reads: “The worst hides the best.”

Speziale’s success comes at a time when the internet remains an illegal medium for alcoholic drinks publicity. The wines, a red and a rosé, retail at EUR39 for a case of six bottles.


And here I thought it was sex that sells, and it’s actually shit that sells. Go figure…

And last but not least, fellow wine blogger Arthur over at Wine Sooth has launched an interesting experiment that involves YOU. He’s started another blog called Wine Surveys, which seeks to congregate input from the wine drinking populous on various wine topics.

The survey Arthur is currently running is gathering data on how you drink your wine and what serving temperatures you prefer for various wines. Check it out here, and add your voice.

Enjoy your weekend!

Whoops, one more thing ‘ere I go, I wanted to give a shout out to Beer Wine & Cigars, who recently featured 1WineDude.com as their wine site of the week. Thanks, guys! Don’t let the title fool you, they don’t necessarily think that you need to enjoy their namesake in that particular order, and wine lovers who don’t dig cigars will find plenty to like on their site.

Cheers!

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