Posts Filed Under kick-ass wines

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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Why Yes, I Think I Will Have That Beer (Dispatch From The 2015 San Francisco International Wine Competition)

By now, the results of the 2015 San Francisco International Wine Competition should be available for your perusal. Once again I had the pleasure of being one of the hired hands on deck to judge at SFIWC, this being my second time donning the white lab coat for this famous event, celebrating its 35th (!) year.

sfiwc 2015 judges

SFIWC 2015’s cast of judging characters, flanking competition organizers Anthony Dias Blue & Chandler Moore (seated, center). Total slacker seated far left. (image: Charles Communications)

I have much love and praise for SFIWC, which has got to be one of the best-run wine competitions in North America (and, in my own personal experience, globally), thanks in no small part to the efforts of the tough, mighty, and inimitable Chandler Moore, who, behind the scenes, pretty much ensures that all runs smoothly, and makes the entire SFIWC “go” without a hitch.

This year, I felt a little more at home, a little more accomplished as a wine comp judge (having had quite a few more under my belt since last year’s event), and a little more of an “insider” (getting invited to the traditional local watering hole for beers after each day of “work” was, I thought, I sort of mini rite of passage… also, I fell compelled to point out that nothing – nothing – tastes better than a good beer after a full day of judging wine).

Because I am a geek, mental notes were taken on some of the blind-tasted wines that I found particularly interesting from my own panel’s days at the SFIWC “office,” so I’ve highlighted some of those Double Gold selections (receiving unanimous Gold medal awards from all of our panel members) below, after the jump. These are not necessarily the wines that performed the best in our panels or the comp. in general, but stood out to me as being particularly noteworthy / enjoyable / made me wanna get my buzz and swervy on, etc.

Let the reco’s commence!…

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