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Kick-ass Wines | 1 Wine Dude - Page 4

Posts Filed Under kick-ass wines

Working At Too Perfect? (Michael Mondavi Recent – And Not So Recent – Releases)

Vinted on May 1, 2014 binned in crowd pleaser wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, wine review

“See, this pisses me off…”

Rob Mondavi, Jr. is upset. Moderately. It’s almost difficult to imagine why, given the sunny day, and the subsequently stunning Napa Valley view from his family’s Animo vineyard on Atlas Peak. But moderately upset he is.

The trigger for Mondavi’s small bit of angst? The spacing of the pruning cuts on some of the vines isn’t uniform. One is reminded of the scene in The Aviator, when Leonardo DiCaprio’s Howard Hughes is running his hand down the side of an airplane hull, testing to see if all of the rivets are totally smooth.

Rob Mondavi, Jr. is, it seems, a bit of a perfectionist, particularly when it comes to viticulture (as he remarked to me during our vineyard lunch, “the biggest challenge in Napa is that we’ve become complacent in farming”). An amiable perfectionist, with the Mondavi flair for gab and working the crowd, but a perfectionist nonetheless.

As it turns out, Rob’s excellent high-end wines can almost be too perfect, polished smooth to a such an glistening, art deco metallic sheen that one might start to pine for a blemish of any kind; not that the wines lack soul, it’s just that you want to see and feel more of that soul.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, aren’t we? Back to the vineyard, where the view is lovely and the scenery, apart from vines, is of liberally strewn about rocks, rocks, and more rocks on this volcanic soil…

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Vying For Napa’s Best Reds, By Way Of Hungary… Oh, And Bordeaux, Too (Kapcsandy Family Winery Recent Releases)

Vinted on April 17, 2014 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, sexy wines, wine review

“Our competition isn’t Napa Valley; it’s Bordeaux.”

That’s how Lou Kapcsandy sums up the goal of his 3,000 (ish) case production winery, a building that nestles up to about 15 acres of vineyard land that formerly went into Beringer’s `75 Private Reserve (“we purchased it in 2000 without them knowing anything about it,” he told me), and which might best be described as ‘polished-industrial.’

But that kind of upscale nondescript casing is fitting for the no-nonsense Kapcsandy, particularly when you consider that he’s a former chemical engineer and wine importer (not much use for flash in those endeavors).

But just wait until you get a load of what Hungarian-born Kapcsandy has going on in the vineyard and inside that Napa Valley production facility; you engineering types are gonna get a slice of geek heaven out of this.

Let’s start with the land: the Kapcsandy’s had 34 (!) pits dug into the vineyard for analysis, concluding that “literally within fifty yards, the growing conditions are different” on the heavy clay-ladden former riverbed. “At one point,” according to Kapcsandy, “it was 118.5F in the vineyard; the next morning, the same spot was 50F.” NASA-style satellite imagery was employed, convincing them to plant the vineyard along a magnetic north-south orientation, and dense plantings. Fruit is dropped, pesticides are avoided when possible, and generally Lou Kapcsandy frowns a lot when talking about “”what he calls “vineyard gymnastics.”

The results are mostly red blends that, in my experience, stand up to Napa’s best (and particularly shine come Premiere Napa Valley time – those tastings are what prompted my visit to the Kapcsandy’s in the first place). Expensive, for sure, but ludicrously good. Which is why I am waxing poetic about them here in the first place, of course.

So… yeah, let’s geek out on the in-winery stuff now…

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There Are NO St. Patrick’s Day Wine Picks (March 2014 Answers.com Wine Articles, And My Birthday Wine Lineup)

Vinted on March 27, 2014 binned in elegant wines, going pro, kick-ass wines, wine review

Technically there was a holiday this month, but I could not bring myself to hazard conjuring up some long-shot wine pairing for St. Patrick’s Day in March.

Just… uhm… No. No way.

Anything along that vein is (being kind here) a desperate stretch. I mean, look, why would you even do that? What’s wrong with beer? [ A: the last time I checked, nothing. ]  I’m actually the worst person to ask about the subject anyway, because St. Patrick’s Day happens to be my actual birthday. So for me, that “holiday” wine pairing usually falls squarely into the category of “whatever the f*ck I feel like drinking, no mater what food is being poured, and preferably something bubbly and expensive.” But then, with my daughter’s birthday falling less than a week later than mine, these days at 1WD central we more or less give my birthday a passing wave hello/goodbye. “Happy birthday honey. Ok, so, did you order the dolphin place-mats yet for all of the kids coming to Lorelai’s party?”

Despite the daughter birthday madness, and the inevitable hangover resulting from the amount of alcohol one has to imbibe just to survive hosting a dozen 5- and 6-year-old children for a birthday shindig, I managed a few non-St.-Patrick’s-Day tidbits for the Wine.Answers.com gig in March (they are paying for the stuff, after all!).

And, I did celebrate the birthday in serious style, vinous-wise, as you’ll witness from the inset pic. More on all of that below…

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The Godfather, The Orc, & Timeless Spaghetti Westerners (Ravenswood Single Vineyard Zinfandel Recent Releases)

Vinted on February 20, 2014 binned in crowd pleaser wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, wine review

My third run-in with Joel Peterson – founder of Ravenswood, ZAP Association board of directors member, and dubbed “the godfather of Zinfandel” – might have been the most interesting one to date. And that’s saying something, considering that the first time I met him (to talk about the potential of East Coast wines) he tried to turn the meeting around and interview me, and the second time I ran into him was at Taste of Sonoma during which he was decked out in Indian garb. And a cowboy hat.

It was at that Sonoma event that Peterson poured me some of his 1997 Ravenswood Belloni Vineyard Zinfandel blend, a gorgeously spicy introduction to a side of the Ravenswood juggernaut that many don’t get to see, primarily because so little of their single-vineyard designate Zins are made (usually under 1500 cases for each release).

During my jaunt north to attend New Hampshire Wine Week (about which there will be more written on these virtual pages, assuming something resembling free time appears within the next couple of weeks and it isn’t booked solid with appointments to shovel more goddamned snow out of my goddamned driveway), I spent a good deal of time with Peterson, during which we gabbed, drank (particularly the deliciously overachieving 2009 Ravenswood Pickberry Vineyards Red blend), ate (a lot), and generally laughed at the beauty and absurdity of the modern wine world. Ok, mostly the absurdity.

We also talked Zinfandel; rather, Joel talked Zinfandel and I got schooled on it, the results of which have been chronicled over at Wine.Answers.com in the form of an introduction to Zinfandel wine through Peterson’s eyes, as well as a history lesson about the grape, in which its true, original name is compared to an Orc from Tolkien’s The Silmarillion.

Luckily for me, I got to tag along with Peterson as he poured for patrons of NH’s flagship wine outlet (“Store #69”), which afforded an opportunity to get reacquainted with Belloni, along with some of its other single-vineyard brethren…

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