Posts Filed Under crowd pleaser wines

High Tension Wires, Low Tension Views (Mas de l’Abundancia Montsant Recent Releases)

Mas de l'Abundància view

Jesús del Rio Mateu, proprietor of the Masroig-area Mas de l’Abundància – doesn’t just have an enviable name; he’s also got an enviably amazing vineyard view, enviably old vines, and sits enviably close to one of Spain’s critical-darling DOs, Priorat.

He also has an enviably-close relationship to a good importer, Folio Wine Partners, owned by the Michael Mondavi clan, who, Jesús is quick to point out, love to visit his hilly, llicorella-heavy eight hectares of aging vines.

Jesús del Rio Mateu

Jesús del Rio Mateu

“‘Can you fell the energy?’ That’s what they said when they were here,” he told me during a media tour visit to his Montsant DO estate. And while Jesús’ “house of plenty” certainly has its own energetic charm, my guess is that the tingling vibes felt by the Mondavis on their visit had more to do with the overhead high-tension power lines. Either that, or it was the pent-up tension in their shoulder-blades being released after taking in the glory of the scenery.

Anyway… the dramatic views of Priorat and the encapsulating Montsant mountain ranges from Jesús’ vines seem to have imbued him with senses of both literal and figurative perspective about the place; after all, this region of Spain has belonged to monks, aristocrats, Romans, and Arabs. Jesús puts it this way: “this doesn’t belong to me; I belong to it.”

The “it” in this case, coupled with ample sunlight, elevation, slope, and a continental climate, have combined to produce Montsant wines that are nearly as compelling, dramatic energetic, and “deep” as Mas de l’Abundància’s location…

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First Coffee, Then Tannins (Antonelli Montefalco Recent Releases)

Filipo Antonelli

Filipo Antonelli

It’s a wet, chilly, grey Winter morning in San Marco, a locality that sits just outside of Italy’s Montefalco and the ridiculously-well-named town of Bastardo. And I’ve had to wait in the damp cold for a short bit, because Filippo Antonelli is a bit late for our appointment at his family’s winery (hey, welcome to Umbria, right?). And that’s pretty much the only slightly-negative thing that you’ll read about Antonelli over the next few minutes… but let’s set the stage with a little bit more detail before we get into the effusive wine recommendation stuff…

Filippo opens up the Antonelli tasting room, which sits on a hill across from the old family house/cellar/former winery, and starts to bring the charmingly imposing place to life, switching on the lights, and asking me “would you like a coffee?”

I tell him no, grazie, I just had plenty of java at my hotel, so I’m good.

Antonelli cellarAfter a bit of a pause, he turns towards the espresso machine longingly, then back to me. “Do you mind if I have one, then, before we get started?” And that’s one of those moments where you just love Italy.

Anyway, Filipo then gives me the lowdown on the Antonelli biz. He co-owns (since 1986) the family company along with his cousins, with the Umbria property being from his father’s side (and formerly, for about six centuries, being the Summer residence of bishops – part of the fact that Umbria was a portion of the Vatican state until the Eighteenth Century). His great grandfather Francesco was a lawyer, who purchased the estate in 1881. At that time, it was typical Umbrian farming fare; a mix of vines, olive trees, pig farms, and wheat, with the wine being sold in bulk and crop-sharing being the norm. After the advent of the DOC in 1979, they began bottling their own wine, and now release about 300,000 bottles a year from 50 hectares of vines (and still farm olives, wheat, spelt, chick peas, and host agritourism (that is an actualy word, by the way) on roughly 170 hectares of land).

A new subterranean winery was built in 2001. And from it comes perhaps some of the most elegantly-crafted Sagrantino available on the planet…

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Drunken Globetrotting Good Ideas (Domaine Bousquet Recent Releases)

Vinted on February 15, 2018 binned in crowd pleaser wines, sexy wines, wine review
Anne Bousquet

Anne Bousquet

Anne Bousquet has some of her best ideas when drunk.

This isn’t something that I have experienced firsthand, mind you, but comes by way of her own admission (during an NYC media lunch at which I was recently a guest). And it’s the opinion of her wine-growing father, Jean Bousquet.

More on that later. The point is that some of Anne’s vinous ideas (sober or not) are very, very good. Such as her credo that “we just want to make high quality wines that others can afford.” That one is definitely a winner, as her wares from Domaine Bousquet harken back to a time when many of us marveled at the QPR of Argentina’s wines.

The backstory goes something like this: Anne grew up in a wine-centric family in Southwest France, moving to Minnesota and then Boston to pursue education and work, respectively. While she was busy building up her CV, dad Jean (in the 1990s) decided to plant vines in the Gualtallary Valley of Tupungato in Argentina. Jean knew a good thing when he saw it, favoring the high elevation conditions there and planning to go organic. Anne was in the process of moving to Brussels when dad called, suggesting that she come back to the family biz, which a few years later saw Anne moving yet again to another country to join her father in tiny-put-promising Tupungato as the eventual Domaine Bousquet CEO. Subsequent culture-shock ensued.

“The town of Tupungato hadn’t done much to capitalize on tourism,” Anne told me, ” so the wines really had to step up.” The last few years have seen Tupungato’s more forward-thinking wineries take the lead in terms of the type of gastronomy-focused endeavors that are meant to attract wine-lifestyle-loving tourist dollars to the region. But to do that, the wines have to be worth the trip, which in this case, they are.

By the way, Anne now splits time between Miami (where Bousquet’s importing company is based) and Tupungato, because apparently her passport had a little bit of space left on it…

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#FlyEaglesFly (Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut Champagne)

Vinted on February 7, 2018 binned in crowd pleaser wines, wine review
Philly Special

The “Philly Special” that helped make Philly truly special

I rarely listen to Philly sports talk radio.

This is not because I don’t like the sports franchises of my adopted-home nearest-metropolitan-city; the only major sports category in which a Philadelphia team isn’t my #1 is the NFL (Steelers fan here), and even then the only time I wouldn’t cheer on the Eagles is when they’re playing the Steelers (which is, thankfully, a relative rarity).

The reason I don’t listen to Philly sports talk radio – especially this time of year – is because for many, many moons it’s been full of the self-flagellating, though legitimate, tales of woe of Eagles fans, many of whom have literally gone their entire lives wondering what it would be like for their home team to be crowned Superbowl Champions.

This week, I’ve be listening to Philly sports radio almost non-stop. And yes, it really is that good, even for a somewhat-jaded NFL fan whose fave team is, ahem, kind of used to this sort of thing (at least one time more than everyone else, in point of fact). I mean, people have been calling in literally sobbing tears of joy, and if you live anywhere near the Philly area, you immediately understand why. This week, an Eagles fan popped open a bottle of bubbles that has been in his fridge since late 1980 (when he expected his team to subsequently prevail in their first Superbowl performance). Now that, my friends, summarizes Philly’s Eagles fandom. By the way, I swear this will eventually turn into a wine review of a sample bottling.

It’s not just that the Philadelphia Eagles finally – finally! – brought home a Lombardi trophy after decades of enviable-but-ultimately bridesmaid-not-bride NFC success. It’s how they did it that makes this first Superbowl win so brilliant for this city. Unless you were a Philly sports fan, you were writing off Superbowl LII as the final coronation-to-godhead-status of the most successful quarterback/coach combination in modern NFL history. And instead, that combo got taken down in an out-play-calling, out-throwing shootout, by a QB/coach combo that was almost universally mocked, and both of whom had previously considered calling the NFL quits (and are now being hailed as sports geniuses).

A rag-tag group of talented, dedicated, underrated upstarts, many of whom were backups at their respective positions, just wanted it more badly, and worked both harder and smarter, than some of the most talented and successful performers in the history of the sport. And they beat the more dominant opponent at their own game.

Hello!!! This city erected a statue to Rocky Balboa. This city is the spiritual embodiment of the underdog. And so this Superbowl is the perfect David-vs-Goliath story for a city that needed exactly that outcome at exactly this time. And it is f*cking glorious…

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