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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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What We Drank With My Wine Searcher Signature Dish (Monteverro And Kracher Recent Releases)

Vinted on January 30, 2014 binned in about 1winedude blog, elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review

A few weeks ago, Wine Searcher asked to interview me for their “Signature Dish” series, in which wine personality type folks share a favorite meal along with potential wine pairings.

Now, I’m not the cook at 1WD HQ, at least not much past heating up dino nuggets for the little Dudelette. That role falls to the lovely Mrs. Dudette, who I described in the W-S interview as “a talented amateur chef” (which is basically the same thing as saying that she’s a very, very good cook, but isn’t trained or employed as a chef, but sounds much cooler; among her 700 or so cookbooks, she has one in which the author is described as “a Paris-based food creative,” which I guess sounds better than “unemployed author writing about food while living in France”).

Around here, I just pair things up on the wine front. So we have the dual blessings of often eating and drinking very, very well, to the point where it’s getting difficult for us to eat out and find food that Mrs. Dudette can’t rival on her own in our kitchen (yes, this is a great First World style problem to have, alright?).

You can read the recipe for her roast chicken – which I call “The Poor Man’s Feast” because, aside from the baguette and the whole chicken, you can grow almost all of the rest of the ingredients yourself in your garden – over at Wine-Searcher.com. I should note that W-S, at one point, gave my old Playboy.com gig a run for its money in the number of near-naked bodies they had on display next to or near photos of my ugly mug (see inset pic).

With a precocious and ludicrously active five year old around the house, we rarely have time for the slow-roasted version of that Poor Man’s Feast recipe, so I usually break out one of three options for that meal: a rich Chardonnay that also has acidic verve (though sometimes these don’t come cheap!); a cool-climate Syrah (such as…); or, most commonly, Cru Beaujolais (I really, really need more Cru Beauj. in my life, generally).

But with Snow-mageddon Janus bearing down on us when we (meaning, she) next cooked up our PMF, I decided to go big, just to see if the dish could hold up to something a bit more… powerful from the sample pool…

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Paving The Off-The-Beaten Southern California Wine Path (Four Brix Recent Releases)

Vinted on January 16, 2014 binned in kick-ass wines, on the road, sexy wines, wine review

Depending on who you are, California’s Ventura County will spark up a number of mental images: beach stay-cations; Tony Stark’s mansion; a place to refill the gas tank en route to wine country in Northern California.

But there are a host of urban wineries (now numbering over a dozen) that are attempting to carve out a wine trail in Ventura, buoyed by the success of kosher powerhouse Herzog and critical darling The Ojai Vineyard, and sourcing grapes from their more famous Northern Cali cousin regions.

I’ll be talking more about all of this in a feature (I’ve yet to write…!) for PalatePress.com, based on press trip I took to the region last year. The short version of the tale is that I admired the gumption of those urban, bootstrapped wineries, most of which have been established by former hobbyists who went totally off the deep end and graduated their production into rented winemaking spaces, tasting rooms, and in some cases full-time gigs (can’t say they’re not courageous…).

Has Ventura arrived, wine-speaking? Not yet. Are they doing better than we ought to reasonably expect from such a ragtag group of independent upstarts? Yeah. Mini-reviews will be coming forthwith,  but a brief highlight of some of my faves is up now at Answers.com.  More of that trip will be put to light in the prospective Palate Press piece (only with less consonance… probably…).

Anyway, one of those upstart standouts is Four Brix Winery, a play on the U.S. grape ripeness measurement, and the number in the name represents four of the wine regions that got the founding partners (the Noonan, Simonsgaard and Stewart families) into this whole wine mess in the first place: Spain, Italy, France, and (naturally) California. If you find that a bit kitschy, just wait until you see how they name their wines…

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