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Posts Filed Under kick-ass wines

Wine As Bottled Poetry, Poetry As (Really Expensive) Bottled Wine

Vinted on October 6, 2011 under elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review

Wine has often inspired poetry (and still does – check out this example reviewed here a few short years ago), and in today’s case, waxing poetic about the most expensive wines that all of you out there have imbibed in turn inspired me to pull out some of the more expensive sample bottles calling to me in siren song from the bowels of their cardboard box prisons in my basement.

Actually, the first of these isn’t all that expensive, but at over $30 bucks isn’t (at least not by any real-world-with-real-people-spending-real-money-in-it measure) cheap. But it sure drinks like it’s high-end and well-worth the cash.

The second is a famously expensive, high-scoring Napa Cab blend from a producer that got on my good side by quoting Spinal Tap on its website [Editor’s note: quoting Spinal Tap is always welcome, and will get you a smile, but not necessarily a high rating!].

Anyway, to quote Spinal Tap myself, enough of my yappin’ – let’s boogie!

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Speak Low And Carry A Big Mourvèdre (The Boz Scaggs Interview)

Vinted on September 15, 2011 under best of, interviews, kick-ass wines, sexy wines

What do you do after you’ve more-or-less totally conquered the R&B/Pop and Jazz worlds, and have become so successful in the music biz that one of your backup bands goes on to become a multi-platinum-record-selling act?

In Boz Scaggs’s case, you start up a wine brand. Of course!

Many of you…, uhm… younglings reading this may not be intimately familiar with Boz’s tunes, or his soulful crooning, but chances are very, very good that your parents think he’s the shiz. In 2000, smooth-soul-rocker Boz and his wife Dominique released the first wines made under their Scaggs Vineyard label. Their plantings were started on a bit of a lark in the late 1990s, when a friend suggested they try growing grape vines on their Napa Valley property (and gave them some leftover Syrah he had on his truck). Turned out that friend was onto something – Scaggs Vineyard 2008 Mt. Veeder Montage is a stellar Mourvèdre / Grenache / Syrah blend that’s packing as much soul as any one of Boz’s numerous memorable grooves.

Judging by his responses to my interview questions, award-winning singer/songwriter Boz Scaggs may be a man of many infectious grooves but he’s also a man of relatively few words. When it comes to his wines, however, little embellishment is needed for those who have had the opportunity to taste them.  Boz might “Speak Low,” but his wines carry a pretty loud bang (for the buck).

A quick interview with Boz (who took some time out of a busy and active touring schedule to answer my questions) is below, along with some further thoughts on two recent Scaggs Vineyard releases (tasted as samples).  I suggest listening to the live version of Lowdown while reading it (if that song doesn’t get your booty moving at least a little bit, then you might not have a pulse…).  I’m not sure Boz “gets” my sense of humor (actually, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t get my sense of humor), but I sure “get” his wines – of all of the rock-star-turned-wine-producers that I’ve interviewed, Boz’s releases are certainly among the best (if not the best).

Enjoy!…

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Best Of The West: Has Pinot Noir Found A New Spiritual Home In West Sonoma Coast?

Vinted on August 25, 2011 under California wine, elegant wines, kick-ass wines, on the road

Burt Williams might speak softly and have a relatively unassuming appearance, but when it comes to age-worthy, elegant Pinot Noir he is one hundred percent deadly Jedi Knight.

That much was clear during the recent West Of West festival in Occidental, CA (I attended as a media guest), where Littorai’s Ted Lemon interviewed Williams to kick things off.  It was tough for me to pay attention, because a) there were Sonoma Coast Pinots sitting in front of me ranging from `96 to `01, and I was ready to geek out, and b) I found the entire event confusing, because I’m an anal Right Coast guy who requires exposition and purpose stated clearly up-front, and the WoW Fest proceedings launched without much detail on either.

Fortunately, possessing a formal plan is not a prerequisite for making great wine.  In fact, to hear Williams tell it, very little about Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was planned in the early days when he first starting making Williams Selyem wine in his ‘spare’ time. “We got a call from an ATFA agent,” he mentioned, “who basically told us that we should get bonded before we got arrested; so, we got bonded.”

Williams also told us that “if the wine is balanced… if you pick the fruit before it’s really ripe… I know Sonoma Coast [Pinot Noir] can age!”  Proof is in the vinous pudding: the 1996 Williams Selyem Riverblock Pinot Noir (about $100 if you can find it, and an ‘A’ rated wine if I’ve ever had one) is delicate, earthy and svelte, with cherries, plums, spices and hints of game meat. The finish could accurately be described as gorgeous; it’s a wine that doesn’t smack you over the head, but seduces you.

And it’s in drinking wines like that 1996 Pinot – wines which seem to be made at a more-than-expected frequency in the West Sonoma Coast area – that you say to yourself (if you’re me, anyway): F*ck Napa Valley Pinot – this is where it’s AT!”

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Foley, Food Porn, And A West Coast Wine Geek-out

At the end of July, I wound up at the top of Chalk Hill in Healdsburg.  It was one of those events that I should be used to by now but that make me slightly uncomfortable anyway because they a) are held in lavish settings that seem to cost a billion dollars, b) usually end three and half hours late with an over-the-top, impeccably prepared/served lunch cooked by a French chef (and likely weighing in somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion calories – food porn coming in a minute or two, I promise), and c) have winemakers who’ve been flown-in from all over the place, any of whom may or may not be all that interested in making small-talk with you.

Events unfolded pretty much exactly to that plan during my visit to The Hill, though thankfully the folks who make up the winemaking crew of Foley Family Wines, whose portfolio we were tasting through, proved an amicable bunch.

Far and away the most exciting thing for me at these events is not the lavish stuff – and there was no shortage of that shizz: Chalk Hill’s pavilion, where we tasted and then lunched, has a 21-foot limestone fireplace, a panoramic view of the estate, and an Olympic-sized dressage riding arena made of Alaskan golden cedar that required a highway shutdown to transport, in which the horses ride (I am not making this up) on imitation dustless “dirt.”  Not that the setting is intimidating or anything…

Anyway… for me, the most exciting bit is always tasting the wine.  Is it any good? Is it worth the price?  Does it have a story it’s trying to convey?  Having the winemakers there just adds exponentially to the geek-out factor, and so eventually my nose gets in the glass, the surroundings get tuned out, and I enter geek-the-hell-out mode.  And it turns out, in a rare convergence of high incomes and good tastes, that the Foley portfolio has a lot in it that’s worth geeking-out over…

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