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Crowd Pleaser Wines | 1 Wine Dude - Page 11

Posts Filed Under crowd pleaser wines

Reports Of Australian Wine’s Death Hath Been Greatly Exaggerated, My Lords

Vinted on December 15, 2011 binned in crowd pleaser wines, kick-ass wines, wine books

Australian wine has become the red-headed stepchild of the fine wine world. But the ginger brat is still alive and kicking, people.

I can hear the Aussie wine biz calling out from the cart, like the old man in the “Bring Out Your Dead” skit of Monty Python’s Holy Grail: “I’m not dead!… I think I’ll go for a walk… I feel haaaapy!!!”

[ Editor's note: speaking of Python, anyone remember their old "Aussie Table Wine" bit, based on the idea that fine wine being made in a place like Australia was so laughable that it could be used as premise for a comedy skit? Who's laughing now? ]

The general zeitgeist of the wine cognoscenti (at least lately) is that Aussie wine (particularly the much-maligned Shiraz) consists of overly-dense, brutish, syrupy, overblown, Port-without-the-charm and generally overpriced vino on the high end, and sugary, soda-pop-wannabe plonk on the low end.

Like most myths, Aussie wine’s death is based in some semblance of truth – but I am growing increasingly convinced that it is exactly that: a myth. Why? Because increasingly I am running into Aussie wines that are anything but plonk, and are a far cry from charmless saccharine plum-sauce.

Sure, Australia pumps out plonky, low-end crap by the Brobdingnag-esque tank-load (literally) – but name me one major wine-producing country that doesn’t do that. As for the high-end, the gems – the wines that truly speak of place and do have charm to spare – well, they are there, you just have to know where to look for them (just as you have to do in every other wine-producing card-carrying U.N. member country).

So what happened? Why are consumers and critics alike turning away from Aussie wine faster than a wombat would turn away after catching a whiff of a stark-raving-mad and starving dingo on the hunt? According to some, the stigma for Aussie wine is mostly Robert Parker’s fault; or, rather, the culpability rests with an industry that got too greedy and built production – and prices – up too fast after Parker anointed a few heady styles of Aussie low-production reds with near-perfect scores while at the apex of his influence in the 1990s. That’s the premise behind Campbell Mattinson’s excellent Thin Skins: Why The French Hate Australian Wine

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Feeling The Heat In California: Are Paso Robles Wines Too High In Alcohol?

There’s one thing you need to know about Paso Robles wine country.

It can get hot.

And I’m not talking about the Summertime temperatures, or even the Indian-Summertime temperatures, which had busted through the 100F mark not too long before my visit to Paso in October.

No, I’m talking about the wines.

After tasting through a small score of the vino on offer from several of Paso’s wine producers, the most prominent takeaway was that there were so many wines that were made from very, very ripe fruit – wines that generally exceeded 14% abv in the whites and regularly hit over 15% abv in the reds.

That is not an inevitable conclusion for Paso Robles wine.  And I know this because it wasn’t always the case.

During my Paso visit, I dined at the home of Gary and Marcy Eberle, who own Eberle Winery in Paso. Over the course of our meal (also attended by representatives of several other Paso producers), Gary opened a few bottles of Eberle Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from the early 1980s. Those wines were a far cry from being dead – in fact, they were vibrant, with juicy red fruits underpinning aromas of dried herbs.  In other words, those wines were refined, food-friendly, and eminently drinkable.  The abv? About 13%

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Tasting 40 Years Of A Tawny Port Icon

Vinted on November 10, 2011 binned in crowd pleaser wines, kick-ass wines, wine books, wine review

“Billy C. is drinking Sandeman Port down at the old café
And the river goes by slowly, the river likes it that way.”

The Knuckleball Suite, Peter Mulvey

In the world of wine, there are a few images that stand the test of time and can truly be described as iconic, instantly conjuring up the history not just of a long-standing producer, but also of the entire region that producer calls home. And when you’re iconic in the world of wine, with its long historical perspective… well, then you’re just f*cking iconic, period.

In America, we have such an icon: the Missionary-style tower at Robert Mondavi winery in Napa Valley has come to represent not only the history of fine winemaking at RMW, but the entire modern history of fine winemaking in all of Napa (and by extension all of the U.S.), by virtue of the man who just about singlehandedly started it all.

The world of Port in Portugal has such an icon, too: The Don – that tall, dark-cloaked stranger that stands so prominently on the Gaia side of the river Douro (and who’s a lot more Zoro than creepy-flasher), is instantly recognizable to anyone walking along the shoreline in Porto. George Massiot Brown’s poster design from the 1920s has come to represent not only the 200+ years of Port-producing history that began with Scotsman George Sandeman – to many, it represents Port, period.

So when you’re offered samples of the icon’s range of age-designated Tawny Ports (from 10 to 40 years old) for possible review, you think twice about turning them down. In fact, in that scenario, as a wine geek you really have only two options: 1) decline the samples, or 2) plan on staging a comparative tasting and pairing them with Apple, Cranberry & Walnut Pie with Stilton (from page 208 of Sid Goldstein’s excellent The Wine Lover’s Cookbook).

You can guess which option I picked…

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#ChampagneDay And… Cookies?? (A Tale Of One Not-So-Epic Pairing)

Vinted on November 3, 2011 binned in crowd pleaser wines, wine products, wine review

I need to preface this tale of a (somewhat-failed) experiment by telling you (aside from the normal disclosure that I received all of the products as samples for possible review) that I have nothing against massive on-line tasting events like the recent #ChampagneDay (or its also recent big-brother #CabernetDay).

I’ve got a long history (since Day One, actually) with TasteLive.com, who kind of started the whole kumbaya-peace-love-and-Marsha-Brady-let’s-all-taste-together-on-line thang in the first place, after all.  And I love the communal aspect, and the conviviality, that are at the heart of those tasting events.

It’s just that it doesn’t feel as though Champagne or Cabernet Sauvignon need their own tasting days. I mean, from a brand-recognition standpoint, these wines are like Pepsi or the Chicago Bulls.  It’s not like no one’s ever heard of them, or never drinks the stuff, or that they have pricing issues on the high end.

So I’m kind of waiting for the underdog wine tasting day on twitter, myself (#BonardaDay, anyone?) before I get too excited about these grape-themed events.

But the twitter peeps were a persistent bunch, asking me (many times) about participating in #ChampagneDay last week, so eventually I caved into the pressure… of my wife telling me that the event was a good enough excuse for her to want Champagne and take-out sushi for dinner that night (which is a f*cking EPIC food-and-wine pairing, by the way). Because I am a slave to the evil twin drives of surprise and novelty, and because I know my place in the Roberts household (lower on the totem pole than my daughter, but slightly higher than my dog… I think), I decided to to pop open the bubbly and pair it with… samples of cookies specifically designed (or, at least, specifically marketed!) to pair with Sparkling wine.

The results? Not-so-Epic…

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