Posts Filed Under kick-ass wines

Testicles, Terraces and Red Tape: The Trials of Port Production in the Douro (1WineDude TV Episode 24)

Vinted on December 23, 2010 binned in 1WineDude TV, best of, kick-ass wines, on the road, overachiever wines

“Lagare volume dimensions are naturally dictated by the lowest testicles of the shortest man.”

Lagares, of course, are the long, low vats in which Port grapes were once (and sometimes still, though rarely) crushed by foot. The quote above is from the straight-shooting Miles Edlemann, the straight-shooting viticulturist for some of the Symington Family estates in Portugal’s Douro region. It was during a visit to one of those stunning Douro properties – Quinta da Cavadinha – that I met Miles and where he demonstrated one of the more… uhm… intimate aspects of Port wine production by climbing into one of the Warre’s wine company empty lagares and imitating an exaggerated, wide stomping stomping motion with his feet (pants still on, of course!).

You see, the dimensions of the workers stomping grapes were quite important, because the shortest of them had to be able to walk somewhat freely through the volume of grapes in order to crush them efficiently without certain anatomical aspects being compromised… or compromising the crush, as it were, and so… errr… you get the idea. Today, most Port grapes are crushed via large machines that emulate quite effectively the pressure of the human foot (though the machines lack testicles – or, at least, if they have them I didn’t see them and I’m not in any hurry to do so)…

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Volta Wine Discount (Comeback Kid Edition)!

Vinted on December 3, 2010 binned in California wine, kick-ass wines, wine review

“Literally all my savings all went into the winery to keep it afloat… it was the most challenging time of my life.”

Winemaking, especially in these troubled economic times, is not for anyone whose skins might be thinner than your average Cabernet grape’s. Case in point: Volta Wines.

Longtime 1WineDude.com readers will no doubt recognize the name Volta – it’s one of the wines that more-or-less put me on the wine-reviewin’ map. I was the first person to ever critically review Volta’s inaugural Cabernet release publicly, and though the review predates my grading system for wine reviews, the rough equivalent I keep coming back to when I consider the balance of power, focus and suppleness in their first release is “A-” – in other words, an excellent wine and getting that right that early is a stellar achievement for a producer’s first try.

Lucky for me, my impression of the Volta 2005 Cab was by-and-large validated by others in the established wine media at the time, including my bro’ Gary Vaynerchuk – that’s the “puttin’ me on the map” part –  and over the successive months I found myself often wondering  How’s it going with the Volta guys? and Is Volta ever gonna release an `06?

The answers to those questions turned out to be “Not well” and “No,” respectively – a 2006 release never materialized because the entire Volta outfit almost tanked under the weight of the imploding economy.

Yikes.  Turns out the blow wasn’t quite fatal, however.

It’s with great pleasure that I tell you that Volta is still alive and kicking – I am very pleased today to present not only the first critical review of Volta’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon release (is it appropriate to call this a “comeback” release already?), but also a limited-time discount on Volta wines for 1WineDude.com readers!

First, let’s talk about the 2007 release, and the journey it took to get there… then we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of the discount after the jump…

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Wine Review Four-Pack (And Thoughts on 2010’s Most Interesting Wines)

Four badges to hand out from the latest in the flow of near-never-ending samples coming to my door, so let’s get to it!

[ By the way, the reference to the never-ending sample stream is, quite honestly, not meant as a vehicle of self-aggrandizement in any way, but is in fact more a lament of both how woefully (and unprofessionally) behind I am in my tastings, and in the volume of technically-correct-but-fairly-uninspiring wines of which that stream is comprised! ]

2009 Paso a Paso Tempranillo (La Mancha): Plumy, floral & spicy proof that La Mancha is getting its fine wine shiz together. A bargain. $11 B

It’s such a pleasure to enjoy a bold, uncomplicated and fun wine like this, one that seems tailor-made for a plateful of hearty paella or chorizo.  Spain’s La Mancha region is mostly known for two famously insipid characters: 1) Don Quixote, and 2) the innocuous wines made from the Airén grape variety (though to be fair, not all of them suck). La Mancha’s reputation for cheap Airén can mean big bargains for the better wines made in the region, and Paso a Paso is a great example.

2004 Azul Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec (Mendoza): A tad heavy-handed but U might like that from someone this complex, dark & sexy. $32 B+

During an on-line / twitter tasting hosted by Vines of Mendoza, the word “sexy” appeared in description of this wine about ten million times (give or take a few million). At least, it seemed that way to me. Heed these words: when enough women say that a wine is sexy, then the only logical conclusion is that it is, in fact, sexy.

2009 Toquade Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley): NZ passion fruit comes to Napa, with a French twist of lemon & herbs. In a word: Fantastic. $20 B+

Last year, Opus One winemaker Mike Silacci dared me to try Toquade after I went on a tirade about how too much Napa Sauv Blanc tastes like Chardonnay on a diet.  I’m grateful to Mike for that introduction, and I’m happy to report that Toquade winemaker Christine Barbe is still on top of her game – in fact, the 2009 might be better than her `08 and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with the insane 2010 vintage.

2006 Hesperian Harry’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Go west young man, & find tannin chains long as the Alaskan pipeline. $60 A-

Christine sent along some of Hesperian’s wines to me, and I suppose I’m now also grateful to her for this introduction. It’s not that smoothness is the only thing going for Hesperian’s Coombsville Cab – far from it; it’s packed with currants and aromatic, woody spiciness. It’s just that the smoothness is the thing that will stick with you the most, the silkiness of it – it’s simply drinking beautifully right now.

Speaking of CA wines, if you feel that CA is getting a lot of positive coverage here, it’s probably not your imagination…

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Wines of the Week: Paul Dolan T.A.S.T.E-ing Edition

Vinted on November 5, 2010 binned in crowd pleaser wines, kick-ass wines, overachiever wines, wine review

Ok, technically they were wines from last week.  So sue me.

[Editor’s note: please do NOT actually sue me.]

Last week, I had another run-in with those tiny T.A.S.T.E. 50ml bottles, taking part in an on-line UStream live tasting with winemaker Paul Dolan, going through the majority of his portfolio.  Paul has the advantage of exuding a calm and commanding presence even over a tiny video window (I credit his kick-ass mustache), and he also happens to make some compelling wines.

Those wines happen to be made from biodynamic grapes, which is a veritable conversation powder-keg when thrown into any gathering of two or more wine lovers these days.  And we all know what I think about BioD, which is that I don’t know what to think about it yet.

I’ll admit, whenever Paul got to talking about BioD during the tasting, I found myself wondering if I should go looking for some weed and a bong to put my mind in the proper perspective, you know, to really understand what he was on about, man!

The BioD conversation did yield this fantastic tweet during our tasting, though:

“@PaulDolanWine: Some call it voodoo, we like to call Biodynamics Moo-Do.”

That is just sooooo good…

Anyway, while I found the whites a bit to rough-around-the-edges, the reds from Paul Dolan for the most part were very, very good, and in at lest one case offered what I felt was a downright amazing bargain…

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