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Posts Filed Under kick-ass wines

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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Remember That Time It Got *Really* Cold? And We Had That $500 Cognac? (Frapin Extra Grand Champagne Cognac)

Vinted on January 9, 2014 binned in kick-ass wines, wine review

While you’re reading this, most of the U.S. will have just crawled out from under some of the most bitter winter cold to hit the country in over a decade. Not so much cold that gets into your bones so much as cold that gets into your soul, the kind of cold that embitters otherwise cheerful people towards life itself. This is Chill, With Extreme Prejudice.

I mention this “so frosty, this blows” scenario as contextual backdrop, because I couldn’t find a wine to match it in the sample pool. I had to turn to spirits to get my insides even close to a state resembling warmth.

Spirits are an appropriate choice, I think, for weather that cares not whether you live or die. And that’s because spirits aren’t drinks that care, either.

Really, if you try to imaginatively personify anything over 20% alcohol by volume, you come up with something that really doesn’t give a rat’s tookus what you think about it. When you get to 80-proof distilled spirits, you’re entering the honey-badger-don’t-give-a-f*ck territory of drinks.

“I’m not sure I like it,” my wife told me when we cracked open the most gaudily impressive sample of cognac that I had on hand, Frapin’s Extra Grande Champagne “Premier Cru” Cognac. “It makes me make ‘a face’,” she quipped, scrunching up her nose. “That’s okay,” I answered, “don’t feel bad, it doesn’t give a damn what you think about it…”

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What We Drank To Escape The Unbearable Cuteness Of Five Year Old Girls

Vinted on December 5, 2013 binned in crowd pleaser wines, elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review

When I include “unbearable cuteness” in the title, I am talking about unbearable cuteness. The kind of cuteness that is adorable and crushing at the same time. The kind of cuteness that requires vintage rosé Champagne, Australia’s possibly-best-in-country Viognier (from Yalumba), and vino from one of California’s more off-the-radar Pinot Noir producers to escape it (to keep up with the cuteness, all of the wines featured today have “quoted” fancy names… it will all make sense in a few minutes, okay?).

To wit: two five year old BFF daughters of separate families who, living many miles from one another and attending different schools, without communicating to one another asked their respective parents at the same time and on the same day if they could wear matching leg warmers that they both received as gifts.

That is the kind of unbearable cuteness I am talking about. Yes, one of the five year olds “belongs” to me. Eventually, as parents of the BFFs you need a double-date night just to forget about the power of cuteness like that. Which is what we did, and I, being 1WD, naturally use the opportunity of the double-date night as an opportunity to raid the wine sample pool (and incur a possible dinner tax write-off… just sayin’…).

Oh, and before you ask, I do not have pictures of these two kids together wearing their leg warmers, which is just as well because it would make your face explode due to overdose of concentrated cuteness. It’s times like these that I sometimes wish I’d had a boy, but those moments are only millisecond-term fleeting. Mostly, having a young daughter is like having 90% of your life become adorable, and I love it. Yeah, I know the Universe will pay me back later in the form of lecherous boys coming to the door asking her out on dates… and No, I am not yet okay with that.

Anyway… I swear to god that there is some wine involved here, so let’s climb out of the cuteness and talk about what Mrs. Dudette and I popped open with our dinner guests during said double-date night…

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What We Drank When The Wine Bloggers Invaded America’s Best Italian Restaurant (Vetri, Philadelphia)

Vinted on November 7, 2013 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review

The food scene in my adopted hometown of Philadelphia is, in a word, insane.

As in, insanely good; seriously, if you have a bad meal in Philly it means that you’re either dumb, unlucky, or maybe both.

I recently had a bromantic rendezvous at one of the places that has given rise to Philly’s vaulted status as a foodie town, when I joined wine blogger Jeremy Parzen and one of his clients, Paolo Cantele, for dinner at the acclaimed (and insanely small) Vetri. “Jar” and I have had a long-standing mutual admiration society going online for about five years, so things got embarrassingly effusive between us (particularly as the wine starting flowing…  oh, special thanks to Jeremy for supplying the food porn pics for this post, by the way).

On a brief side note, “Jar” and I discussed an interesting concept during our meal: whether or not we are, as wine bloggers, making the world a better place. It’s a potentially complicated topic, in my view, and Jeremy seemed to think that for various reasons (democratization of wine criticism, ability to focus on unsung regions/producers/stories, near-instantaneous two-way communication / discussion with readers, etc.) that we are making the world better through what we do. I wasn’t so sure; not those things aren’t great (they are), or that the wine world isn’t better with them (it is), or that I don’t enjoy the private emails and messages that I get from people every so often telling me that I helped them get to a point of independence in their lives when it comes to wine (I love those moments). The implication is that traditional wine media, in its focus on “ivory tower” style coverage/ratings, does a disservice in some way to (at least some percentage) of wine lovers. But look, we’re not rescuing people from burning high-rises here, folks; we’re discussing the awesomeness of fermented grape juice, a luxury product for the world’s affluent (of which you, if you have the disposable income to purchase fine wine, are a part, when judged by worldwide poverty standards). I’m not sold on it, yet.

Anyway… Jeremy has an excellent overview of the meal – which I’d rank well within the top five that I’ve ever had worldwide, which hopefully means something coming from a guy who has had a surfeit of luxury wine-and-dining experiences – posted over at Do Bianchi. So rather than tell you about the small intestine cheese we devoured, I’ll detail the amazing wines that Vetri’s wine guy, Steve Wildy, selected for this small but vinously demanding crowd, one of which happened to be a seminal red wine experience for my drinking life so far.

You know, so you can hate us even more than you would after only reading Jeremy’s post…

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