Posts Filed Under overachiever wines
Okay, so there are a couple of reasons behind my pronouncement that people ought to be drinking rosé wine all year long and not just during the flowery, blooming, highly-allergenic (I really should have bought stock in a tissue paper company) months of Spring.
First is that a good rosé is often one of the most versatile, food-friendly wines that can possibly adorn your dinner table. The other is that… well… rosé will probably get you laid. So naturally that became the logical choice as the topic for the first article I submitted for my new column at Playboy.com (but for scheduling reasons became the second in the series to be published). For those offended by the nature of that theme, I apologize; for the other 99.8% of you reading this, I’ll accept your thanks for saying what was on your mind already (you’re welcome, by the way…).
I loved writing that article (which was penned a couple of months ago, and posted last week at the re-launched, safe-for work – but only just! – Playboy.com). It’s fun (sometimes, anyway) to face into a widely-held perception, especially an edgy one, but then sort-of turn it on its ear (in this case, building an argument for rosé that actually speaks to female empowerment and compromise in a relationship), hopefully without it all ending up either too trite or too stodgy. You’ll have to let me know if I came close to the intended goal on that one.
I mention in the article one of my personal favorite rosé wines, and one that I’ve found myself recommending often over the course of the last few years:
2010 Paul Jaboulet Parallele 45 Rose (Cotes du Rhone)
Price: Around $12
My “mini-review” for this wine consisted of the following note: “Bring on the Provençal fare any time. And bring on the the dancing girls, too;” which just about sums up the two major thematic points I was trying to drive home about a good rosé in the Playboy.com article. Red berries, flowers, even a tiny hint of meat dazzle like a well-rehearsed Kenjutsu display, and then tangy red fruits unleash palate kung-fu for a close-in,hand-to-hand bout with your food. If we take fighting as more of a kick-ass dance between equals in the martial arts sense, I mean, and not in the awkward-battle-inside-your-mouth sense. Okay, you’re right, that comparison totally doesn’t work… I should have stuck to the sensual stuff…
Standing in between fifth generation Livermore wine producer Karl Wente (who is light, with executive-style, thick brown hair, and built like an NCAA basketball player) and his best friend (who is dark, soft-spoken, and built like an NCAA basketball player) is a bit like what I imagine standing at the bottom of a well might feel like.
It didn’t help that, as Karl and his buddy played small acoustic instruments (guitar and viola, respectively) that in their long, lanky arms looked not unlike undersized toys, all 5’5” of my frame was manning a large upright bass and fumbling my way through a jam of Karl’s laid-back, folk-inspired tunes (what he calls “Porch Rock”).
So while I certainly enjoyed performing in the impromptu concert inside Karl’s probably-in-constant-state-of-semi-renovation living room, I couldn’t shake the feeling that, when I’d been invited to Karl’s home to taste through the modern Wente portfolio, I’d actually been invited to taste a lineup of wines made in Brobdingnag (what, you’ve never read Gulliver’s Travels? As my late grandmother used to say, “what the hell AILS YOU?!??”)…
Read the rest of this stuff »
In Spain’s La Mancha winegrowing region, there is a saying (and no, it’s not “Don Quixote slept here,” though that’s a reasonable guess):
“Nueve meses de invierno y tres meses de infierno.”
Which means, “nine months of Winter, and three months of hell.”
This is how the locals describe the climate of La Mancha, where it can go as low as 10F in the coldest months, and in the low 100sF in the hottest. Rainfall is ridiculously scant in the region (about 14 inches per year), and so vines are planted on average about eight feet from one another in order to maximize the amount of that scarce resource that does manage to hit the ground.
The result of such low planting density is that La Mancha has nearly half a million hectares under vine, making it not just the largest winegrowing area in Spain, but the largest winegrowing area worldwide.
And the grape that lays claim to the majority of that space?
Meet the lowly Airén – a white wine grape that most folks know nothing about, but which, by far, dominates the statistic (trivia alert!) of most-planted grape (in terms of area under vine) in the world…
Read the rest of this stuff »
Well, you may actually know about it, but that would certainly put you in better shape than I was when my friend and sommelier legend Randy Caparoso kidnapped me from Premiere Napa Valley in February, insisting that I spend some time in Lodi to see some down-home, old school wine farming.
What I wasn’t entirely prepared for was just how old that old school was going to be.
As in, going on 126 years old, old. Think about that the next time you read the words “old vines” printed on a wine label; you know, right before you think “well, hell, I know some really old vines, suckah!.
What Randy insisted on showing me first was Lodi’s Bechthold Vineyard, nestled in the Mokelumne River area and home of Cinsault vines planted in 1886 on their own roots (on which they remain, thanks to sandy soils and a deep root system preventing the vine-killer phylloxera from picking them off) by German immigrant Joseph Spenker; the place has been continuously dry-farmed – and family-owned – ever since.
And the place is nothing short of magical, if you’re a real wine geek. Because older souls you are not likely to encounter in California, unless your house is haunted or you live among the redwoods. And when you’re done reading this, you hopefully won’t wonder why I went ga-ga over the Single Vineyard concept for WBW75 (and be thirsting for some Cinsault, or Lodi wine, at least)…
Read the rest of this stuff »