Posts Filed Under kick-ass wines

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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Wheels Keep Turnin’ (Red Car Recent Releases)

Vinted on May 21, 2015 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review

I have (among other things) been described as peripatetic.

Red Car vineyard 1That adjective is apt, but as peripatetic as I can be, I pale in comparison to Red Car‘s tall, thin, and quick-witted General Manager Peter Willmert. Willmert, along with winemaker Carroll Kemp and vineyard manager Adam Carter live, breathe, and seemingly sleep (if Willmert actually settles down long enough to do that, I mean) all things Red Car from their small spot on Graton Road in Sebastopol.

Like Willmert (who is fond of jumping quickly from topic to topic, somehow without losing an ability to take deeper dives along the way), Red Car has been in more or less constant motion in its relatively brief history.

“I like the acidic, crisp style,” Willmert told me when I visited. “One part of the [ Red Car ] evolution was getting out of the Central Coast; we’ve left a trail of warmer vineyards, and moved everything to the Sonoma Coast. Since the 2000 vintage, the wines have been pretty consistent.” It helps that they’ve got dedicated vineyard staff (as he put it, “I’m a control freak. And Carroll’s a control freak”). Somewhat ironically given Willmert’s penchant for rapidly bouncing between topics, Red Car’s wines have arguably never been more focused and singular of purpose.

What he means is more lithe, energetic, and focused on premium. Much of the source material for Red Car’s wares come from vineyards that are surrounded by orchards and redwoods (and gophers), within spitting distance of the sea, in areas that were long though too cool to house “serious” viticulture. Judging by the wines I tasted, those early pronouncements were dead wrong…

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