Posts Filed Under on the road

Working Hard To Change Nothing (Williams Selyem Recent Releases)

William Seylem old typeface

There was so much that I didn’t want to like about Sonoma’s storied Williams Selyem.

  • The too-cool-for-school exclusivity of their mailing list.
  • The imposing fortress-like facade of their “barrel-evoking” tasting room and its “wall of bottles.”
  • The fact that they used terms like “barrel-evoking.”
  • That current owners John and Kathe Dyson were former mailing list members (how cute!).
  • That the label typeface they use was so old that it had to be recreated from scratch when their printing went digital.
  • The way that their wines get collectors all google-eyed, shooting prices up on the secondary market.
  • The friggin’ goats.

The problem with trying to be a Williams Selyem hater, though, is that when it comes to their affable, knowledgeable staff, and their consistently excellent wines, there’s just not enough bad there to hate…

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And You Were Expecting What, Exactly? (Lugana Highlights From L’Anteprima Lazise 2016)

Vinted on May 26, 2016 binned in crowd pleaser wines, elegant wines, on the road, sexy wines, wine review
Lake Garda

Nonplussed on Lake Garda (I think this is swan for “F*ck off”)

Back in March (yeah, yeah, I know…) I attended, as a media guest, the 2016 edition of the well-executed but unfortunately-named L’Anteprima Lazise (seriously… how many of you knew that was a town near Lake Garda in N. Italy?).  The event marked the first time that the nearby winemaking regions of Chiaretto, Lugana, and Bardolino all shared a single en premier style event, with an early showcase of what the 2015 vintage for each had to offer.

You might expect, then, that I’d discuss the vagaries of the vintage, with an extensive run-down of what wines fared best in 2015 for those regions. Along with an exposé on the amazing food and beauty of the area (the two exist, for sure, and in abundance). To wit:

And you’d be very wrong, because this is me, and this is 1WD; if you came here expecting what everyone else is doing, then you’re almost as crazy as I am.

And while I can certainly recommend some 2015s for you (during blind tastings, I particularly enjoyed the Luganas from Avanzi, Bolla, Citari, Le Morette, and Olivini), and tell you that I like where the drier style of Chiaretto rosés are headed in general, I am instead going to focus exclusively on Lugana, and only on three wines.

Cue the quote from Airplane

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The Fiendish Plot (And Fiendishly Good Wine) of Dr. O. Fournier

Vinted on April 1, 2016 binned in on the road

[ Editor’s note: This piece was originally written for my old gig, was purchased, but due (I think) to staff turnover there, was never published. I’ve attempted multiple times to buy this back from PB, because I really liked how it turned out, but never heard back from them. So… I’m reprinting it here, because it seemed appropriate for April Fools’ Day, and it was fun to write so I really wanted it so see the light of day at some point. Enjoy! ]

O. Fournier

O. Fournier, Bond Villain Lair

When you’re standing at the bottom of the hill upon which the ultra-modern winery of O. Fournier is perched, as the base of the mountains in La Consulta, two explanations for the elaborate construction spring immediately to mind.

1)    The O. Fournier building is actually an extra-terrestrial scouting ship that landed in Argentina, got sidetracked by asado barbeques, half-naked girls and soccer, thus abandoning its mission deciding to stay and make wine.

2)    O. Fournier founder, Spaniard José Manuel Ortega Gil-Fournier, is actually a Bond super-villain, the Argentine winery being a front for his fiendish plans to hold the planet hostage to his whims. Clearly the huge hollow columns supporting the winery house some sort of missile silos?

It’s easier to daydream like this when you’re standing in the dusk half-light as the sun sets behind the mountains, and you’ve already had multiple asados and wine tastings that same day.

Ortega, a stout man with a slightly ominous beard and small, round glasses, looks every bit the part of potential international evil mastermind bent on world domination when he greets me at the winery. He’s impeccably polite, but slightly self-absorbed and there’s no mistaking the undercurrent of agitation he feels at me being a bit (okay, more like several hours) delayed due to my lunch asado, which means the diner asado will be even later than planned (note: do not visit Argentina if you dislike eating the equivalent of several cows’ worth of meat in a week).

Ortega speaks in grand terms as we tour the O. Fournier complex. “It doesn’t make sense to talk about ‘Argentina’ wine now,” he says defiantly, “it’s too broad. The ‘New World’ of wine is old enough now.” The passion shows in his eyes when he says it; do I detect the air of malignant narcissism that could serve as back story for a Bond bad guy’s motivations? Better be careful with this guy…

Ortega’s a former bank exec who then got into winemaking, so we know that he probably had some serous cash to get the winery going.  “The money-printing machine broke in 2007,” he quips, “so everyday now I check if the banks own the winery, or I own it.” Ah, more motivation? Revenge on the world’s banks? This guy’s definitely an evil mastermind. From here on out, we’re calling him Dr. O (Fournier)…

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Big Hat, Big Cattle (Highlights From The 2016 TexSom International Wine Awards)

Vinted on March 25, 2016 binned in on the road, wine industry events
TexSom 2016

image: Texas Monthly

Ahhh, Dallas, where the rain is big, the convention center is even bigger, and the wine competitions are downright huuuuuuge.

I had such a splendid time judging alongside the consummate professionals at the 2016 TexSom International Wine Awards that I didn’t even mind that Dallas is totally dirty with Cowboys fans (Go Steelers!). Hell, I even had a date while I was in town (because, well, we are talking about my crazy life here).

The results of the 2016 TexSom competition have now been published in their entirety, so I am happy to share with you some of the highlights from my panels there. First, here’s the skinny on the results, as worded by the TexSom crew:

“Entries in the TEXSOM International Wine Awards were blind-tasted and judged by 67 internationally renowned industry influencers from 10 countries. Of these entries, the judges awarded 2,133 medals: 273 Gold medals, 798 Silver medals, and 1062 Bronze medals. Suggested retail pricing of medal-winning entries ranged from US $2.99 to US $770.00. Vintages spanned 75 years, with the oldest being 1941. All winners have been announced, and the winning wines are listed on the Texas Monthly website at”

Told ya it was big, pardner!…

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