Posts Filed Under Tales of the Purple Monkey
In this exciting edition of Tales of the Purple Monkey, Plumboo (that’s the monkey) and I take on some wine samples provided in Tetrapak packaging. And narrowly survive!
During the Wine Bloggers Conference earlier this week, one of the event sponsors, Tetra Pak, supplied us with samples of wines from wineries that are using their packaging for their products…
Specifically, Plumboo and I tried juice-carton portions of French rabbit‘s ‘petit’ Merlot/Cabernet blend, and Three Thieves‘ “Bandit” Chardonnay, assisted by friends who have a hankerin’ for some vino when I cracked them open. Er, I mean, popped them open. Or peeled them open, actually.
Before I pass judgment on the wines (warning: it won’t be pretty), I should bring some positive karma to this post by giving some attention to what Tetra Pak is all about.
I can really get bahind what Tetra Pak is all about, which is making coin in a green, sustainable way. Their manufacturing is officially carbon nuetral. The packaging that they produce (think milk cartons) requires less material and less weight than glass to hold the same amount of liquid – which also reduces the carbon footprint needed to ship whatever liquid is in the Tetra Pak container.
So… I do NOT blame Tetra Pak for what Plumboo and I had to endure, because their packaging is neutral and theoretically shouldn’t be imparting any flavor or odor qualities to the wine inside.
Qualities like an aroma of bug spray – which was in such prevalent quantity in the French Rabbit ‘petit’ red blend that I expected to find the words “Contains DEET” on the back of the carton.
As for the Bandit, we found it one-dimensional. And that dimension was astringency.
Green is Good. But it doesn’t change the time-tested rule of “Garbage In, Garbage Out.”
(images: 1WineDude.com, quiktechsaz.com)
In this exciting edition of Tales of the Purple Monkey, Plumboo (that’s the monkey) and I brave the wilds of Africa, don’t actually taste any wine, and then urge you not to buy a wine that I will recommend. Sort of. Then we end with an exciting announcement that I promise will be wine-related!
Plumboo and I are once again taking part in the ongoing super-cool blog carnival Wine Blogging Wednesday, this month (its 50th!) hosted by Russ Beebe over at his fine Winehiker Witiculture blog.
Russ’ theme for WBW’s 50th is a novel one: in summary, a favorite hike and a favorite wine to sip after that hike.
I’m going to start with the wine, just because I’m incorrigible. I don’t know about you, but I really dig vigorous hikes and am fond of taking the dog out on said hikes with us, in order to have him tire out and later suitably calm down to the energy level of a normal canine.
I don’t know about you, but Dude is usually thirsty after a vigorous hike. So I want something crisp, cold, and refreshing at the end of it. Crisp, cold, and refreshing makes Plumboo and I immediately think of Sauvignon Blanc – specifically, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc…
The great thing about NZ SB is the balance. Mouth-watering Acidity? Check. Tasty Citrus fruit? Check. Pleasing Grassy aromas & complex minerality? Check, and check. In fact, my mouth is watering just thinking about NZ SB. If Plumboo had a mouth, his would be watering, too.
A kickin’ example of the awesomeness that NZ SB has to offer is Cloudy Bay. It’s not difficult to find, and is reasonably priced if you get the latest vintage early enough. Cloudy Bay hails from the Wairau Valley in Marlborough (in the north of NZ’s South Island), where the grapes get the most sunshine of any area in NZ – and it shows in the hint of exotic fruits that you get from a typical Cloudy Bay.
Now, what Plumboo and I kindly request that you do is to set aside enough cash for 2 bottle of Cloudy Bay, and then only buy one bottle. Which will make sense after we tell you about the hiking portion of this WBW.
The coolest hike I’ve ever taken was in Kenya, Africa, just outside the Maasai Mara. This hike took me from Alex Walker’s Serian Tented Camp through the arid bush, to a local school.
Our hike was brilliant and largely without incident, unless you count a fellow Serian guest from the U.K. and I running around with spears and “dispatching” a few large termite mounds during our trek. We did run into a not-so-happy male giraffe who wasn’t sure if he wanted anything to do with us or not – which doesn’t sound threatening until you realize that a) an adult giraffe could kill you instantly with one kick (though your grave would be in multiple locations, because whatever body part its leg touches first would undoubtedly be disconnected ungraciously from the rest of your body), and b) your puny spear is more of a walking stick than an actual means of protection against an animal roughly 5 times your size. And yes, you do think about those things when you encounter a giraffe in the wild…
Anyway, what really blew us away on this hike was the school. Or, more specifically, the children at the school. The conditions that these children and their teachers deal with on a daily basis is shocking, which makes their dedication to learning and teaching all the more impressive. If you’re a parent, you’d probably have a hard time contemplating sending your child on a hike that might take hours through countryside that contains dangerous animals to a school room illuminated with one light bulb, where they rely on rainwater collection systems for their fresh water needs.
The children were mostly just happy and grateful to be there. That’s because there are many children nearby in Kenya who can’t go to school at all – they spend their entire day gathering potable water for their home and community, leaving no time to attend school.
Which brings me back to our little request:
Instead of buying two bottles of that Cloudy Bay, please consider buying one bottle, and DONATE the funds of the ‘other bottle’ to help relieve the water crisis in Kenya, and get potable water into Kenyan communities.
You will be ‘turning wine ito water’, in a way, and helping to bring relief to your other human brothers and sisters who are sorely in need. And, you still get to drink one bottle of kick-ass Cloudy Bay.
Just watch out for those pissed-off evil giraffes…
Exciting Wine-Related Announcement
And finally… assuming no giraffe incidents between now and then… the next Wine Blogging Wednesday will be hosted right here on 1WineDude.com! Stay tuned to 1WineDude.com this Friday for the official announcement and WBW #51(WineDude) theme!
(images: 1Winedude.com, telegraph.co.uk)
This way-cool special edition of Tales of the Purple Monkey has Plumboo and I not tasting or reviewing any wine whatsoever!
Participating as we do in the ongoing monthly wine blogger carnival Wine Blogging Wednesday, the Purple Monkey and I usually take part via a theme-based wine review. Instead, this election-year-inspired September WBW theme (hosted over at the fine blog 2 Days per Bottle) has us picking a wine that we will taste in the future, in order to answer the question “What will you drink to toast the end of the Bush era?”.
Before Dude answers this one, there are some things that you need to know about the Dude:
- Dude is NOT a Democrat, and Dude is NOT a Republican.
- Dude does NOT WANT to be a Democrat, and Dude does NOT WANT to be a Republican (hopefully this stops you party recruiters from hitting the Send button on the e-mails you started writing to me when you read #1 above).
- All the people in the Bush administration that Dude liked are long gone by now. Dude now thinks that the Bush administration is a freakin’ abomination.
- Dude would like to compare President Bush to a box of Tic-Tacs (in terms of which would make a better president), but thinks that would be insulting to the Tic-tacs.
- Dude thinks that President Bush deserves his 30% approval rating, except that it’s about 30 percentage points too high.
Ok, now that we’ve lost all seven of the Bush supporters who may have been reading this, we can get down to business!…
I will be toasting not only the end of the Bush era, but also the beginning of the era for whoever the hell is coming next… because I feel it’s extremely unlikely that they will make worse decisions than Bush in terms of the progression of Liberty, fair trade, U.S. economics, foreign policy, environmental concerns, education, separation of church & state, and energy independence. I could go on but Dude is getting a little angry now. Let’s just say that I am thankful that Bush stayed in good health, so that Cheney never had a chance to try to ruin, er, I mean run the country.
There is but one choice for a toast under these circumstances. Bubbly! And lots of it.
Which means that the bubbly needs to be tasty, and not too expensive. Sparkling wine to the rescue!
It goes without saying that this wine must be made in America. So, I’m going with a NY Finger Lakes stalwart: Chateau Frank‘s Brut. The vintage, naturally, will be 2000, the year that Bush stole, er, I mean took office. This wine happens to be aged underground for three years “sur lie,” which means on its lees (the remnants of the yeasts from fermentation), giving it extra body, and a pleasing bready character. That is also auspicious, considering that the word “lie” comes to mind immediately when Dude hears about the Bush administration…
Now that I think about it, having a wine in my cellar that so perfectly matches this situation might be a sign that the universe itself is, in fact, intelligent. Not sure…
Anyway, a toast:
The King is Dead! Long Live the King!!
(images: 1WineDude.com, redgreenandblue.org, drfrankwines.com)
This ultra-exciting edition of Tales of the Purple Monkey has Plumboo and I once again taking part in the Wine Blogging Wednesday blog carnival! Because it’s an anniversary edition of WBW, it’s being hosted this month by cool-guy and WBW founder Lenn Thompson at Lenndevours.
I say “ultra-exciting” edition because Lenn’s theme has Plumboo and I going back to our “wine roots” (read Lenn’s post for more details). Well, back to my wine roots anyway – Plumboo is a plush toy with a plastic squeek for a head, so I’m not sure he’s got any roots worth getting into.
Going back to my roots is ultra-exciting for me, because it gives me a chance to explore why I got into wine in the first place. And it has to do with a wine that everyone loves to hate (oooohhhh… drama!).
I’m talking about that over-the-top, over-priced, and oft-overlooked Oakville stalwart, Opus One.
Go on. Make fun of me.
You know that you want to. You snob!
Love it or hate it, Opus One is the wine that made me serious about vino. Before I get into that, let’s get a little background for those of you unfamiliar with the big O.O. …
Opus One is a joint venture international premium wine venture between Napa legend Robert Mondavi and Bordeaux legend Baron Philippe Rothschild. The aim: produce and ultra-premium Bordeaux style wine, made with the best fruit that Napa had to offer.
This style of international collaborative winemaking is fairly common now, but when founded in the late `70s, Opus One was pioneering stuff. It also made Napa Valley wine more serious – after all, a First Growth was now involved. Oh, MY!
O.O. (located on the main drag in Napa) is a modern temple to high-end winemaking. Touring the O.O. facility literally changed how I look at wine. I’ve spent a lot of time working for major CPG companies, so I’m no stranger to touring manufacturing facilities – and what I saw at O.O. floored me.
Here was a winery that was combining high-quality ingredients (arguably the best fruit that Oakville / Napa has on offer), old school techniques and know-how, ultra-modern equipment, and expensive “by hand” techniques to make a premium product. I could immediately draw parallels to the manufacturing practices of premium chocolate brands like Ethel M.
So why does everyone love to hate this wine?
Well, for one thing, it’s totally over-the-top. There is usually very little that is subtle about this wine. It also takes years to develop, and often comes across as astringent and tough when it’s opened too early. It’s also very expensive – usually $150-$200 per bottle.
Are you paying for the snooty chic factor? You bet. But you’re also paying for the result of really, really expensive production techniques, such as hand-sorting the best fruit for the final blend.
And here’s the thing – you’re also paying for a really, really good wine.
I’ve been drinking through my small cache of 1998 Opus One for a few years now. I picked up a few bottles of the 1998 O.O. because `98 was supposed to be a ‘bad’ year for wine in Napa. Despite that, Opus made a wine that I thought (to the best of my then burgeoning wine geek ability at the time) had some ageing potential. It turns out I was right.
The `98 O.O. is drinking beautifully right now (see my mini reviews here and here). Is it as complex as as First Growth Bordeaux? Not really. But halfway through a glass of that explosive fruit, you won’t give a sh*t about that.
O.O. is oft-maligned because it’s priced like a Bordeaux, so people expect it to act like a Bordeaux.But this is not Old World, sporting a monocle and a tux sophistication, people. It’s California used-to-be-a-hippy and now owns an Internet company, sporting a pony-tail and mock turtleneck sophistication. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
What did Opus One wine teach me?
- Not every wine is worth it’s price to everybody.
- Never overlook a wine just because it gets bad press – make your own judgments.
- Trust your wine instincts (and your own personal palate).
Many years on, these lessons still serve me well, and I pass them on when I teach others about wine. Or to anyone within earshot when I’m tipsy and waxing wine philosophical.
Those lessons are deep-rooted into my wine soul. Just like one of those fabulous Oakville vines…
(images: 1winedude.com, czaplamusic.com)