Posts Filed Under commentary
Here we go again.
The topic of wine & health is no stranger to the (virtual) pages of 1WineDude.com. Basically, I like to keep on the topic, mostly because it provides such great fodder for ridicule.
Ok, that’s harsh. Let’s not call it ridicule. Let’s call it poking fun. That sounds better, doesn’t it? Ok, now that we have that cleared up…
According to ScienceDaily.com, a recent announcement by a joint team from Oxford and Norway – at least, I think it’s joint Oxford / Norway team; it’s listed in the article as “The team from Oxford’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and Norway”, which I assume is a joint effort as it would be strange to have a Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and Norway (nothing against Norway, of course; after all, they brought us the… uhm…. err… let me get back to you on that…) – dang… lost my train of thought there…
Oh, yeah, I remember now – The joint team (as in, the collaboration between Oxford and Norway, not a team researching ganja) announced study findings that showed that chocolate, tea, and, of course, wine enhance cognitive performance.
Now, before you go out and get amped up on Starbuck’s, blitzed on your favorite vino and buy stock in Ethel’s chocolate, you need to know a few things.
First, the study is based on data from about 2,000 participants in their 70s. You might not be in this demographic.
Secondly, while the team suspects that polyphenols (in the form of flavonoids) are the source of the enhanced cognitive ability for the mature audience in the study, the researchers caution that “more research would be needed to prove that it was flavonoids, rather than some other aspect of the foods studied, that made the difference.” In other words, the negative health impacts of imbibing too much caffiene, alcohol, and sugar/fat probably far outweigh the benefits of the flavonoids; moderate consumption, as always, is best.
Finally, Ethel’s is privately owned – so you won’t be buying any stock (sorry).
As we begin 2009, and start the time-honored tradition of incorrectly dating the first few bank checks of the new year, I find that I sense a bit of a rant coming on.
And this coming just after I wrote about relying on gratitude and attention (a.k.a. mindfulness) to help you truly appreciate wine as an expression of art (both the wine itself, and your enjoyment of it, for what is a wine without someone to enjoy it but so much unfulfilled artistic potential?).
Shame on me.
But it will end with love. I promise.
I think there is another component to enjoying wine that needs to be added to those I outlined in the post linked above, and that component is Gumption.
You will need grit, spunk, guts, and determination to get past the detractors, nay-sayers, and general sourpusses that you may encounter along the way on your journey to wine appreciation. Don’t kid yourself – they are out there, and they must have some stake in keeping the average Dude and Dudette from appreciating fine wine, because they take any and every opportunity they can to screw it up for you. They do this either by telling you that your opinion doesn’t count, is naively misguided, or isn’t worth a hill ‘o beans because it doesn’t conform to some arbitrary standards that they have set forth themsleves.
You really need to ignore these people. They are like an illness that infects your wine appreciation, and if left to fester can kill it outright. The kicker is that the world of wine is so full of wonderful, generous, and pleasurable people that it would be a shame to let a few bad apples spoil the bunch, as they say.
I mention this because I lived through it in 2008. Well over six months later, so-called pundits are still talking about the Rockaway non-incident (more on this – both background and aftermath – can be heard on WineBizRadio.com). The only thing I can offer at this point is this:
For those of us who are wine writers (and I include any serious wine bloggers in that company), we need to remember something – We write about wine. It’s not that important, and neither are we.
No, really. I’m serious.
It’s just wine, people – it is NOT saving someone from a burning building, curing a wasting disease, or landing a crippled airplane. We so need to get over ourselves…
Why on earth am I drumming this topic up again? It’s just to show that whenever you put yourself out there, take a risk, or try something new, you will run the risk of people (usually the ones who haven’t done anything themselves) putting you down.
The wine world is no exception. Happily, for every detractor in the wine world, there are at least 10 great people who will help you, share their knowledge with you, and cheer you on.
How do I know this?
I’ve spent the better part of 2008 trying to expand as much as possible my knowledge of wine, be it through winery visits, reviews and sampling of fine wines, seeking wine certifications, or just hanging out with great writers, contacts who have become real friends, or talking to movers & shakers in the wine world. In a word, it’s been amazing.
So many great things have happened for me since I opened up my own personal world to the world of wine that it would be literally impossible for me to recap them in one blog post. My world is exponentially larger and more full of joy for having hit the wine road with almost reckless abandon. You don’t need to bring a thing with you on this journey – plenty of people are willing and waiting to help you along your way.
I simply cannot imagine my life without my daughter, my music, and now my contacts in the world of wine. If that’s not a testament to all of the wonderful people out there working in wine today, then I don’t know what is.
And for that, I will always be deeply grateful for 2008 – warts and all!
(images: sunsetgun.typepad.com, dailyphotobutcherfortheworld.blogspot.com, polyvore.com)
Ok, before you start writing me off as a hedonistic waste (at least, on the basis of this post title), please check out the post I wrote for Toast To Change, a web network brain-child of Schramsberg Vineyards.
As described by the TTC website:
Toast to Change… celebrates the power each of us has to embrace and inspire change. Join our community of wine lovers and raise your glass to making changes in our lives and championing others who bring about real change in our world.
I don’t consider myself to be someone who is bringing about world-altering change, but I was invited to pen a toast so I decided to write about the things that had inspired me most in 2008: Wine, Women, and Song.
To get the (very un-sordid) details, you can read the entire post at the TTC website.
Cheers and Happy New Year!
“The elves are dressed in leather
And the angels are in chains
The sugar plums are rancid
And the stockings are in flames!”
– from “Christmas with the Devil” by Spinal Tap
Amidst the elite wine world personalities, there are a handful of famous names that hate the modern style of California wines. Actually, “hate” is a strong word. But hate them they do. They consider these wines almost evil, as if they were the tool (or at least the preferred quaffs) of Satan himself.
As for me, I am not among them (neither an elite famous wine personality, nor a hater of big, bold CA wines).
God knows that I’ve got no issue with a wine “fruit bomb,” provided that big, bold, and powerfully alcoholic is the best expression of that winery’s fruit. What I don’t like is when wines are busty for the sake of the almighty dollar (as in, forgoing an expression of terroir and / or style to instead chase after the palates of a few wine critics, whose increased scores can mean a price point increase of 30% or more per bottle on the wine market). Homogenization is a perversion of this style of wine marketing. But it’s not the fault of this style of winemaking in and of itself.
So, for the 2008 Christmas dinner at Chateau Dude, I decided to raid the sample shipping boxes for the biggest, boldest CA wines to pair with grilled lobster tail, bison steak, and various cuts of Angus beef (all expertly prepared by my brother-in-law).
Franciscan’s 2006 Cuvee Sauvage Chardonnay (Carneros, about $40), and a 2005 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Reserve (where else… Napa, about $140).
The story behind The Franciscan (does anyone else think that name sounds like a potential Monty Python skit?): 15 months sur lie in 100% new oak, fermented with wild yeasts using 15-20% of the barrel wines, 14.5% abv; various 90+ point ratings ensued.
The Mondavi? 18 months in 100% new French oak, hand harvested & sorted, a tiny amount (5%) of Cabernet Franc thrown in, 15% abv; 90+ point reviews ensued.
You get the picture. Christmas with The Devil, I thought.
The Franciscan (I just love how that sounds) was the more unabashedly Californian. It doesn’t get much bigger than this, it’s a wine that struts it’s stuff. There is so much vanilla and oak, I actually picked up a hint of cream soda-pop among the citrus, apple, and even banana (banana cream pie, anyone?). What rescues this potent beast from potenital oak hell is the acidity – for CA, the acidity is downright racy. Yes, it pairs amazingly well with grilled lobster. I’m not sure what else it would pair well with, and I enjoyed it, but I’m not gonna go so far as to call it a “triumph of viticulture and winemaking.”
As expected, the Mondavi was a killer match with steak. I decanted this puppy for nearly four hours before serving it. At first, coming out of the decanter, it was all black cherry compote – and I mean, spread-it-over-toast first-thing-in-the-morning compote. With time in the glass, things got decidely more complex: figs, plum, red currant, hints of cedar, a little olive. The finish carried quality fruit and spice and was more than respectibly long. I really felt as though it needed abotu six years in the bottle to really integrate, and I didn’t find the high abv too overpowering.
These are both very good wines. Whether or not they’re worth the price is a discussion I leave up to you (more on my take on paying for the cache factor of CA wines can be found in my recent articles about Opus One).
The problem is not that wines like these are being made. The problem is that too many wines like these that shouldn’t be made are being made.
If there’s something to hate here, it’s not the original CA blockbusters – it’s the greedy drive of copycat wineries the world over chasing after a buck, forgoing the individuality of their vineyard sites and the best quality of their fruit. We can and should challenge those wineries to do better; if we end up with the ubiquity of the ‘Bic Mac’ of wines, then I have truly seen The Devil, and The Devil is us!
Anyway, let’s fire up that grill, shall we?
(images: spinaltapfan.com, 1WineDude.com)