I like wine (duh). I also favor, and am often drawn to, personalities that are high-energy, engaging or highly-knowledgeable about their fields of expertise.
No surprise, then, that I consider Mark Oldman one of the most dynamic – and one of the best – wine educators in the world, since he’s got it going on all three fronts.
Most folks out there will recognize Mark’s face as the lead judge from the PBS reality-tv series The Winemakers, or will recall his name as the guy who makes the wine picks for the 15+ million readers of Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine. But I recognize Mark as the guy who wrote the beginner’s wine book that I’ve recommended more than any other wine publication – Oldman’s Guide To Outsmarting Wine. My standard line about Mark’s first book for years has been, "this is the one to try first for anyone beginning to get ‘into’ wine; it’s the book I wish I’d had at my side when I was first starting out as a wine buff." In other words, I thought it was an instance classic.
Outsmarting is still largely unmatched for its combination of verve, intelligence and accessibility – a lot like Mark himself, as you’ll quickly learn from our interview below. Mark has a new book on the shelves (I received a review copy) – Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine – and it’s geared towards the Intermediate stage of one’s vinous journey. In the pages of Brave New World of Wine, Mark offers up wine recommendations slightly off the beaten path, meant to expand your wine knowledge and delight without expending your bank account. For the most part, the new book is another stellar achievement for Mark, and more often than not I found myself nodding along with his recommendations and witty-but-wise takes on lesser-known varieties (turns out we’re both nuts for Nero d’Avola, ravenous for Rosé, and on a tear for Torrontés).
Mark took some time out of his busy book tour schedule to answer a few questions about his new book, the next season of The Winemakers, and how he got started inthe wine biz. Turns out that Mark also shares my affinity for the music of a certain long-standing Canadian power rock trio (as if I needed more reasons to like the guy at this point).
Before this intro. turns into another version of "I Love You, Man," I’ll turn it over to the interview…
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She Said “Freeze!,” He Said “Wow. Really?!?”
In this (long overdue!) episode of 1WineDude TV, I (briefly) interview (the very tall) Marnie Old, Philly’s first lady of wine and co-author (with Dogfish Head’s extreme beer maven Sam Calagione) of He Said Beer, She Said Wine: Impassioned Food Pairings to Debate and Enjoy: from Burgers to Brie and Beyond.
Marnie and I dined earlier this week at downtown Philly’s excellent Osteria, where Marnie deftly navigated the Italian-heavy wine list to match lesser-known selections with our crazy-good fare (the perks of friendship – Marnie’s been at the forefront of the Philly restaurant scene for years).
In this interview, Marnie talks about her new book Wine Secrets: Advice from Winemakers, Sommeliers & Connoisseurs, and shares a (very!) inexpensive tip from the book for preserving open bottles of wine – and it’s one that I guarantee most of you haven’t tried yet!
Interview after the jump. Enjoy…
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To put it mildly, today’s interviewee guest is a bona fide bad-ass rock star. Oh, yeah – he happens to know his wine, as well.
Geoff Tate is best known as the voice behind uber-rockers Queensryche, who garnered critical acclaim after releasing the brilliant hard rock concept album Operation: Mindcrime in 1988 – followed shortly afterwards by a chronicle of their ambitious live rendition of the entire album (Operation: Livecrime, which on a bad-ass scale of 1 to 10 comes in somewhere around a 37). Their 1990 studio release, Empire, went triple-platinum and catapulted Queensryche into cross-over super-stardom, launching about a thousand copy-cat hard rock acts who tried – but never quite matched – the uniqueness of Empire’s best-known track, the power-ballad Silent Lucidity.
In other words, Queensryche ruled hard-rock in the early `90s.
They’ve been rocking ever since, maintaining a hard-edged musical integrity, exploring social themes, and continuing to push their own boundaries even when those directions meant less fame. A core group of fans have followed them throughout, and Queensryche is currently touring in support of their latest release, American Soldier, a chronicle of wartime experiences based on conversations with American military personnel, and consequently one of their boldest artistic statements to date.
Tate, a Washington native, has been making wine with Walla Walla producer Three Rivers Winery for the last few years, starting off with a Bordeaux-style red blend called Insania and recently adding a Bordeaux-style white blend to the Insania lineup.
I tasted samples of the 2009 Insania White and 2008 Insania Red, and found both quite good and clearly made with food pairing in mind. the wines might not be to everyone’s tastes (the Insania red being relatively big at 14.5% abv) but it will take only one sniff to dispel any doubts that the wines aren’t serious, or that they’re simply another celebrity vanity project.
The 2009 white (mostly Sauvignon Blanc) is the simpler of the two, with tasty melon and citrus moving into a “fleshy” mouthfeel (thanks to a healthy dose of barrel-fermented Semillon). It’s not svelte, but clearly the fruit from Red Mountain’s Klipsun vineyard (which makes up over half the Insania white blend) has great potential; here it delivers a wine that totally rocks with shrimp and avocado burritos.
The 2008 Insania Red (primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, with dollops of Merlot, Malbec and a tiny portion of Cab Franc) offers complexity on the nose that one wouldn’t expect from a wine sourced from six different vineyards. The almost sweet and very dark fruit is complimented by cedar and black olive notes, and there’s enough acidity in Insania to tame its brooding tannins with a beef filet; it might be big, but it’s anything but dumb.
Geoff was kind enough to take some time out of the Queensryche touring schedule to answer a few questions about Insania and offer his take on several wine topics. What follows is an insight into a wine-knowledgeable hard-rocking brain, and fans of Queensryche’s music will not be surprised to find that Geoff has strong opinions – specifically, on where to go for wine recommendations, pairing wine with fine cuisine, and wine’s role in American society.
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