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Can Terroir Be Bootstrapped? (Dude’s Take On Ventura County For Palate Press)

Vinted on March 11, 2014 binned in California wine, on the road

Stay out of Malibu, deadbeat!!!”

As a stunning display just how behind I am on everything, my take on the upstart, bootstrapping wineries of Southern California’s Ventura County was recently published over at PalatePress.com.

Yeah, that’s the one I talked about back in January when we featured the recent releases of Ventura’s Four Brix Winery (and that was written about six months after my visit). Whatever, look, I’m kind of busy lately, alright?

Thus endeth the triumvirate of articles I’d planned resulting from that S. Cal. jaunt, the remaining third being an overview of the wineries in the Ventura County wine trail for Wine.Answers.com. Mini-reviews might peek out here and there, though, to further highlight a few of my faves from the trip. Otherwise, it’s on to all of the other shizz on which I’m similarly several months behind.

The PalatePress.com piece continues a theme of sorts on which I’ve focused in my features over there: talking about off-the-beaten-wine-path vino areas about which almost no else is talking, and certainly mainstream media has been touching with a ten foot punch down pole, such as Ventura, Colorado, and Pennsylvania (incidentally, I’ll likely be sticking to that theme for future PP pieces, since whenever I veer from that and talk about ultra-expensive wines, or whether or not critical acclaim matters for wines that are so popular that they’ve created enduring brands, I create a veritable sh*t storm and get into all kinds of trouble… see, and you thought that only happened here on 1WD!).

But it (the article, I mean, which technically is still the subject, despite the ludicrously long sentence above) also explores the idea of whether or not Northern California’s vineyards exhibit terroir, and if so whether or not that individuality and vinous fingerprinting can be interpreted and displayed by bootstrapping upstarts buying the region’s grapes, just as the better producers on the Ventura County trail are attempting right now. I’m not yet convinced that they’ve fully achieved it, but the experiment is still in progress, and of course gives us geeky fodder about which to conjecture (is that a verb?… if not, it should be)…

Cheers!

“Best Of The Best” From Premiere Napa Valley 2014

Vinted on March 6, 2014 binned in on the road, wine industry events, wine review

By now, many of you will have heard that 2014’s incarnation of Premiere Napa Valley, the annual Napa Valley Vintners fundraiser auction, broke records and brought in a haul to NVV that I think is best described as a sh*t-ton of money, times three (I had dinner with a couple of nice folks from NVV after the weekend of the event, and their collective mood could be summarized as something between kid-at-the-Crayola-factory elation and exhausted relief). PNV14’s auction of rare, small-lot Napa Valley wine rarities amassed nearly $6 million, with Scarecrow’s lot bringing in something to the tune of $4K per bottle.

I’ve covered PNV, on and off, for several years here on 1WD, and for 2014’s recap I’ve decided to play the tune again, which has a catchy-but-getting-too-damned-familiar-like-Call-Me-Maybe melody to it at this point, but with a different tempo and some funky rhythm section time signature changes, to try to keep things feeling a little fresher.

As usual, I did not taste all of the auction lots at PNV, because that is an endeavor that I view as somewhat insane, like NHL hockey goaltending (seriously… they need to be a little not-quite-altogether to volunteer for that job… just sayin’…). However, between two days of preview parties and barrel auction tasting, I did manage to sample more PNV lots than I ever have in past years. Ironically, this has made me decide to refrain from listing all of the lots I tasted with their respective ratings, and instead talk about only the lots that really moved me in some way. No ratings, no badges, just praise. It’s a “Best Of” PNV14, if you will, only with me acting as the sole arbiter of what constitutes “best” in this case (hey, it is my blog, after all).

But first, a few words on Napa’s 2012 vintage, which was on strong (arguably the strongest possible, given the pedigree) showcase at PNV14…

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1WineDude TV Episode 59: In Pursuit Of Balance (And Ridiculously Good California Pinot) 2014

Vinted on February 27, 2014 binned in 1WineDude TV, elegant wines, on the road, wine review

Two years ago, after tasting at the 2012 incarnation of the In Pursuit of Balance event (a bi-coastal roadshow of largely classy, vibrant, and restrained California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay offerings), I expressed surprise at the quality of wines coming out of the collaboration between sommelier Raj Parr and winemaker Sashi Moorman.

So after tasting at the 2014 incarnation of IPOB in NYC earlier this year, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the quality of wines coming out of the collaboration between sommelier Raj Parr and winemaker Sashi Moorman.

But I was, because where they’d hit it out of the park in 2012, they launched it clear out of the park, bounced it off the hood of a shiny Corvette Stingray convertible in the stadium parking lot, and sent just about into escape velocity and geosynchronous orbit in 2014. But more on that in a minute or two, after you watch the interview I did with Raj’s cohort and IPOB’s co-founder Jasmine Hirsch, to discuss the impetus behind the event, and how they graduated from brainstorming a wish list of participating winemakers and wines on the back of a cocktail napkin, to formally selecting the IPOB touring lineup. [ Special thanks to The Drunken Cyclist for the camerawork, and to Jasmine for staving off minor starvation for a few minutes so we could chat on vid. ]

1WineDude TV Episode 59: In Pursuit of Balance with Jasmine Hirsch

All done? Good. Now let’s get to the tasting notes, because in this case, the wines themselves are most definitely the story…

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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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