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On The Road | 1 Wine Dude - Page 22

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Postcard From Cali (Or “Goats, The Hobbit, And Oakville Cab For Prog Rock Geeks”)

Vinted on February 28, 2012 binned in on the road

I hope you’ll forgive the quick-hit, “I was there, maaaaaan!” style post, but I’m still en medias res on my Napa jaunt, in which I’ve culled the raw material for what I think will be some great content for Playboy.com, Wines.com, and of course keeping the geekiest stuff for right here on 1WD.

But in between under-sleeping and breakfast, I wanted to give you a very brief run-down of a few of the more exciting things to which I was exposed while on the trip so far (other than the 80F weather and sunshine, and partying, I mean).

Leggo My Breggo

Boonville might be a bit of a sleepy little hamlet in Northern CA (okay… not might… and not a little…) but the wine scene in the nearby, relatively cool-ish Anderson Valley growing area is actually quite dynamic, if the poised wines of Breggo Cellars are any indication, anyway.  Breggo, by the way, is Boontling for “goat” (Boontling being a ribald sort-of dialect of American English that “developed” among the local, relatively-isolated farming community in Boonville in the 19th century… and no, I am not making that up).

It seems a bit of a coup that Cliff Lede scooped up Breggo in 2009, and with it their tall, lanky, mild-mannered winemaker Ryan Hodgins. Hodgins is one of those winemakers whose Alsatian-style vision for the wines – nearly as lean and angular as his own tall frame – is transparently open in just about every whiff of the juice he’s creating.

Breggo’s Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir is furthest along that continuum, a meaty, structured, complex wine that is able to offer grip and heft in a Pinot but still remain pretty and not feel like it’s brooding over your impending doom. Their whites, though, seem to get Hodgins the most excited and that’s probably because, while very good, they’ve yet to achieve the same port of arrival vision he’s got in mind for them. The Gewurztraminer in 2010 is rose-petal central, with ginger and limes, and tasting back to the 2008 showed great potential for laying the tuff down (think vinyl, hazelnuts, lychees, lemons).  Their Riesling is also no joke, with the 2009 being a pretty, floral, pear-wielding, chalky, grapefruity pleasure. I’m looking forward to seeing where this guy takes these wines over the next several years…

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Minerals And Mustachios (Can Muscadet Be Aged For The Long Haul)?

The short answer to the question posed in the title, for the impatient among you, is “Yes.”

At least 35 years, in fact (maybe more).

The long answer is considerably, well, longer… and a lot more complicated, but those who choose to brave its circuitous path will be rewarded with tidbits of French wine family history, geographical trivia, a short-list of ridiculously overachieving wine bargains from two of the Loire valley’s best Muscadet producers (who have chosen to go beyond the region’s simple-and-saline oyster-pairing quaffers), and a mustache that has to be seen to be believed.

Your call.

But if you’re feeling adventurous…

The tale begins with a tasting of Domaine De La Louvetrie (and said mustache) at the 2012 Salon des Vins de Loire (that region’s annual over-the-top exposé of more than 600 producers, who pour their wares for the media and trade in elaborate booths in a convention center that spans the area of several Manhattan city blocks), and ends with a Luneau-Papin Muscadet from 1976 that showed no signs of slowing down any time soon

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If You Give A Wine Geek A Savennières…

Vinted on February 16, 2012 binned in elegant wines, on the road

If you give a wine geek a Savennières, eventually he’ll want to take a trip to Savennières.

If he takes a press trip to Savennières, he’s probably going to want to visit a Chateau.  Even if it snows and it’s bitterly cold. Even if that area of the Loire valley hasn’t seen snow in a damn long while and he didn’t bring his snow boots.

When you take him to the Chateau (in this case, Chateau des Vaults at Domaine du Closel), he’ll want to tour the vineyard, so you’ll have to lend him some galoshes so he can walk around in the snow and take pictures.

After he’s been walking around the vineyards taking pictures, he feet will get (really, really) cold because the galoshes have no lining. If his feet get cold, they’ll go numb and he’ll start walking around like a duck having a rare viral attack on its nervous system while everyone else on the vineyard tour is trying to pay attention to what the vigneronne (in this case, Evelyne de Pontbriand) is telling them about the vines and the special plot of land.

When he starts walking around like a duck having a strange and rare viral attack on its nervous system, everyone else will start to feel sorry for him, so one of them will give him those little chemical hand warmer packs and tell him they’re great for warming up your hands when tasting wine in cold Burgundian wine cellars.

If someone gives him hand warmers, the little wine geek will stick those hand warmers in his galoshes, where they’ll lodge themselves at the ankles, blocking his feet from moving properly and causing him to walk like a 1950s B-horror film alien robot in the snow (when he’s not falling down, that is)…

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2009 Bordeaux To Wine World: “Surprise! We’re Overpriced!” (Thoughts From The Union des Grand Crus NYC Tasting)

This is how I imagine many top-tier Bordeaux Chateaux owners end their day:

They put down their small glasses of aged Sauturnes (which have been chilled by Winter fairies blowing ice crystals at them), and are lifted out of their easy chairs on large red ribbons made of the finest silk, held aloft by cherubs singing a lullaby from the music of the spheres, and on the way through their marble hallways to their lavish canopy beds they are heralded by smiling, talking statues who repeatedly exclaim how blessed those owners are to be themselves, and how lucky the world’s mortal wine drinkers are to have their glasses graced by even the tiniest drops from the nectar aging in their chai’s barrels.

I imagine this because living in a fantasy land is one of the few logical explanations for how the 2009 Bordeaux wine prices are shaping up. At least, that’s the conclusion I reached after attending the recent Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux 2009 vintage tasting in NYC.

For sure there were some amazing wines being poured (more on my faves after the jump), but a higher density under one roof of “pretty good” to “errr… uhmmm… not-so-great” wines for $50 and up you are not likely to find anywhere else on the planet. I interviewed Robert Parker a couple of years ago, and in that conversation he told me that Bordeaux wines were dramatically overpriced – the situation appears to have gotten a sight worse since then. As one salesman I met at the NYC tasting told me, when it comes to 2009 Bordeaux prices, “whatever you think it is, add… A LOT!” (that same person hinted that a recent vintage of one of the First Growths was rumored to be $22,000 a case).

But before you start shouting foul play on the part of the Asian wine market being responsible for putting Bordeaux prices out of reach of non-cherub-owning humans, bear in mind that it takes a certain amount of avarice (and probably arrogance) to charge a ton of money for a product that cannot be said be at all a rarity…

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