Posts Filed Under kick-ass wines

What We Drank When We Remembered That America Was Already Great

Vinted on November 17, 2016 binned in commentary, elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review
Conan 2016

Crom’s chosen candidate!

A good number of people, both within the USA and abroad, read this blog. At times, that includes a lot of the U.S. wine biz, but also many wine lovers and wine insiders abroad. This post is dedicated to all of them.

Look, I’m not gonna sugarcoat this, things have been pretty f*cked up since the 2016 presidential election concluded. Yes, a minority of the population of largely white voters actually replaced a wildly popular sitting president with someone who has never held public office, and has an at-best questionable truth-telling record, among many other distasteful episodes of past behavior. Given Clinton’s shaky popularity, and Trump’s, well, everything, I wouldn’t be surprised if “Conan the barbarian” was written in as a viable alternative on a not-insignificant number of ballots this year.

Sadly, there have been crazies emboldened by the outcome of this recent election; I myself had to Facebook-block a few people, the most abusive of which was a Navy serviceman, which is just profoundly messed up. Even sadder, wine writer Eric Asimov was harassed online, presumably because being Jewish, American, and outspoken is somehow viewed as wrong by a very demented few.

So, yeah, when wine writers – a demographic about whom almost nobody should really care passionately unless they have a glass of vino in hand – are getting harassed, then things are definitely very, very f*cked up. While I certainly understand the need for some drinking right now (two nice recommendations on that coming up soon), I don’t think that the results of the recent election should send anyone into total panic mode. Deep concern, yes; panicked terror, no.

Why not? Because America has faced worse adversity than the political divisions that currently plague us, and we’ve always come out better for those experiences; maybe not immediately, but certainly better in the long run.

The president-elect ran on a campaign slogan to make America great again. Having traveled to and/or worked with people in Canada, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, the UK, Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Austria, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Russia, India, China, and Australia (and that’s not a complete list), I have a bit of a global perspective. And nothing against any of those wonderful places, but there is nowhere that I would rather live than the USA. America is, was, and almost certainly always will be great, not because an elected official tells us so, but because we are a nation that recognizes that we are consistently made better through increased diversity and tolerance, and I have faith that, as such a nation, we have come too far along that path for our course to be permanently diverted. Distracted and delayed, maybe, but not diverted.

At our heart, we’re a band of fighters; we don’t capitulate. Our greatness – our true greatness as a nation – lies in our goodness, and our goodness is almost always in direct proportion to our support of one another, no matter their gender/sexuality/creed/etc.

Hopefully, we can all drink to that; and I’ve got just the wines (from the sample pool) with which to start…

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Nine, Ten, Eleven (Tenuta di Arceno In Retrospective)

Vinted on September 28, 2016 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, overachiever wines, wine review

Tenuta di Arceno

I realize that, by running with yet another Tuscan wine review write-up (and those fresh on the heels of a Soave write-up), I am also running with the risk of 1WD appearing as though it’s an Italian-wine-only website.

But hey, it’s my website, if you don’t like it, go make your own damn wine blog, okay? Actually, if you love wine, you should be doing that anyway, but that’s another topic entirely.

Anyway

Arceno vineyards

Let’s get back to Tuscany, and my recent visit to Tenuta di Arceno in the too-charming-for-words area of San Gusmé. Arcanum isn’t the only thing that they do at Arceno, and, thankfully, not the only thing that they do well, either. So, to provide a little taste of what they’ve got going on at Arceno, I thought it would be interesting take a glide over their other brands, and clue you into some of my favorites from the retrospective tastings of each, which conveniently from a narrative perspective just happened to fall across three consecutive vintages (no, really, I’m not making that up!)…

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Cab-Francophile (An Arcanum Retrospective In Tuscany)

Vinted on September 21, 2016 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, sexy wines, wine review

It takes some serious chutzpah to pour your super-Tuscan red, sans hesitation, alongside Le Macchiole Paleo, Ornellaia, and Sassicai.

Arcanum faun

Now, you might expect that kind of faccia tosta from the Italians, but in this case it came from Frenchman veteran vigneron Pierre Seillan who, alonf with winemaker Lawrence Cronin and vineyard manager Michele Pezzicoli, produces the Cabernet Franc-dominated Arcanum at Tuscany’s Tenuta di Arceno (I visited as part of a media jaunt earlier this Summer).

Tenuta di Arceno is part of the Jackson Family megapolis of wine brands, for which former Loire and Bordeaux winemaker Seillan also oversees Château Lassègue in Saint-Émilion and Anakota in California. The gorgeous, Etruscan-history-tinged estate, nestled in the San Gusmé area, was purchased in the early 1980s, and now has about 230 acres (among 2500 total) dedicated to the vine.

Pierre Seillan

Pierre Seillan

Seillan’s faccia tosta isn’t just for show; the guy is happy to make bold pronouncements about his wines, because at this point he has notched enough winegrowing experience that the of-course-that’s-how-it-would-be timbre of his words are bolstered by an unspoken sense of and-I-know-this-because-I’ve-lived-it-twenty-times-already. “The future of this region,” he noted, “is to show the potential of the wines in ten, fifteen, twenty years.”

To wit: Arcanum was birthed in 2002, a difficult vintage for Tuscany. “Cabernet Franc showed its elegance,” Seillan said of the vintage; “we had a revelation in Cabernet Franc!” Based on the result, Sellian and his team decided to replant and re-graft even more Cabernet Franc on the estate, some utilizing 20+ year old rootstock. Sellian told me that he now wants to bring Château Ausone‘s team here, to “scare them a little bit…”

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“Fire The Accountants” (Inama Recent Releases)

Inama Foscarino

What do you do at harvest time if you are part of a family wine business, but are highly allergic to pollen?

If you’re Alessio Inama, son of Azienda Agricola Inama‘s Stefano Inama, you hoof it to the major wine markets, and take media types like me out to dinner so that we can taste your wines. Which is how I got to meet Alessio at Philly’s excellent Fishtown-area haunt Root last week.

Alessio describes his father as “a crazy man,” and certainly he has a rep in the wine world for possessing the quintessentially Italian trait of bucking convention (which is second only to the quintessentially Italian trait of adhering almost blindly to tradition). This is fortunate for anyone who loves eclectic northern Italian white wines, as Inama is now well-known as producing the thinking person’s Soave. Alessio quoted his father as saying “the first step to making a great wine… is to fire the accountant.” It’s hard not to like such a character (unless you’re his accountant). Especially when he also makes Carmenere (more on that in a minute).

Back in the 70s, Soave had its heyday, being one of the most recognizable Italian wine regions, if not its most famous white wine regional brand. As in all such things, insipidness and market hangover ensued, and by the 1990s Soave wasn’t much considered as the world turned to Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay (though Soave remained popular in its home country). It was during the heyday in the`70s that Alessio’s grandfather, Giuseppe, began buying up small, lava basalt hillside lots in the Soave Classico region (today they own about 30 hectares).

Today, Soave is a bit of a bell curve. At one end, you have insipid, forgettable quaffers; in the middle, a large production of capable, often very good, almost always refreshing sippers best enjoyed in the warmest months; on the tail end, a small number of producers who push the region’s Garganega grape to its physiological – and philosophical -limits…

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