Posts Filed Under elegant wines

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Carricante (Highlights From Sicilia En Primeur 2015)

Sicilia en Primeur 2015 Etna

Message to Etna: No devastating explosions while I’m visiting, ok?

It’s somewhat ironic, as I kick off a series of posts about my press jaunt to Sicily earlier this year, that the wine region I often cite as a source of reasonably-priced wines made from international varieties will now be compressed into a highlight reel focusing primarily on one indigenous variety.

But hey, we gotta keep it real, so my take on the 2015 Sicilia en Primeur event (in its twelfth year, showcasing the wares of some of the island’s best producers) will orbit like a satellite around my new-found vinous luuuurv, the Carricante grape.

Much more from my Sicily jaunt is coming (and there’s been a teaser of sorts published last month via one of my final Answers.com pieces) but today is a cross-cut from the walk-around tasting at en Primeur, with my takes on some of the juice that I found particularly intriguing.

Sicilia en Primeur 2015 Etna

Sicily is entering an interesting time (interesting in both the American and British senses of the word).

It continues to produce a fairly substantial amount of wine, though plantings have decreased by about fifty percent in just over fifteen years (a combination of economic realities and a renewed quality focus). There might never be a better time for Sicily to try to capitalize on its entrenched U.S. market opportunities (hello? how many Italian restaurants are there in Manhattan alone?), with the 2014 vintage being hailed as “la vendemmia perfetta.” There’s serious potential there, if they can get ti together and get some of these wines into the mouths of importers/buyers/consumers. But since we’re talking about Italian politics here, there’s certainly a non-zero chance that they’ll squander it.

Speaking of the wines, best that we get to those before I get myself into trouble (and/or before this all starts reading like the lyrics to a Soronprfbs song)

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Wondrous Stories (Chris Carpenter Recent Releases)

Vinted on July 22, 2015 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review
Cardinale Tasting Room

The “office” (Cardinale Tasting Room, Napa Valley)

In no time at all he took me to the gate
In haste I quickly
Checked the time
If I was late
I had to leave, to hear your wondrous stories

-YES, Wondrous Stories

How does one tell a story (in this case, a fairly wondrous liquid story) when the primary architect of that story’s plot (the winemaker) isn’t a part of the experience?

The options, as I see them:

1) Don’t

2) Let the wine tell the story

3) Make a sock puppet of the winemaker and create a video with overdubbed quotes from said winemaker, using sock puppet as the stand-in.

We’re going with option #2, folks.

KJ Mountain vineyards

Get yer’ hikin’ boots on, peeps!

Because despite the fact that the winemaker in this case (the celebrated and much, much too tall Chris Carpenter) was on the other side of the planet (Australia) when I was able to visit and taste through his high-end Kendall Jackson-owned portfolio reds earlier this year, the wines in that portfolio that most excited me are well capable of telling us their own wondrous stories (so option 1 is out).

And also because I lack any socks long enough to accurately represent how tall Chris Carpenter is (eliminating option 3).

The least expensive of these featured Napa Valley beauties is… $75. So, a budget-picks cheat sheet this article is not. While these ges are pricey, they spin hedonistic yarns that are all but impossible to ignore…

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Surface Tension (Galerie Wines Recent Releases)

Vinted on July 9, 2015 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review
Laura Díaz Muñoz

Galerie’s Laura Díaz Muñoz

There seems to be a bit more going on underneath the surface of Laura Díaz Muñoz than you might at first suspect from her somewhat reserved demeanor. And if winemaking has any potential of being a window into the personality of a winemaker, her Galerie wines have enough intriguing tension under the surface to suggest Muñoz has more complexity than she at first reveals.

Currently, she’s one of the winemakers with Jackson Family Wines, working with Chris Carpenter on brands such as Cardinale, Lokoya, and Mt. Brave since she arrived in the U.S. from Spain about seven years ago. Befitting our little theme here, that last statement is a deceptively simple version of a circuitous wine career than Muñoz began in Madrid, continued in La Mancha, then extended with stints in Marlborough and Chile before settling down – sort of – in the States.

“I wanted to go to Argentina,” she told me while driving to one of the Knights Valley vineyard sources for Galerie, “but Chris convinced me to stay.” [ editor’s note: I’ve met Chris a few times; at well over six feet tall, he looks every bit like he’s just magically stepped off the artwork on the Brawny Towel packaging; I probably wouldn’t challenge him, either… ]

Of course, you’d expect a Spaniard to be crafting wines from Bordeaux varieties in the greater Napa Valley area, right? Or not…

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