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Dude, Where’s My “Wine?” (Marijuana And Wine Remain Popular Pairing For California Winemakers)

Vinted on April 18, 2012 binned in best of, California wine, wine news

I recently had a conversation with a celebrity involved in the California wine biz that went something like this:

CA Wine Celebrity: “Hey – have you ever had cannabis-infused wine?”

Me: “Cannabis-infused?”

CWC: “Yeah. Totally. Pot wine?”

Me: “No – but I wouldn’t be surprised if every other winemaker in California was drinking it; and probably making it.”

CWC: “I just tried some. It was weird. It smelled exactly like…” – at this point he extended a long, lanky, outstretched arm ending in pinched fingers directly under my nose – “…like someone stuck a bud in there; it smells just like a big ol’ bud right up in your nose!”

Turns out, he wasn’t very far off. It is with very, very little surprise that I give you the findings of Michael Steinberger’s recent article for The Daily Beast, titled Marijuana-Laced Wine Grows More Fashionable in California Wine Country: apparently, a lot of winemakers in California wine country make the stuff (by dropping about one lb. of dope into fermenting grape juice, Cabernet apparently being the variety of choice, and nearby Humboldt County being the marijuana source of choice), because a lot of CA winemakers dig pot.

Whoa – now there’s a news flash [ Editor’s note: sarcasm intended ].

We are talking about California here, people…

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Breaking News! Steve Heimoff And I To Swap Gigs!

Vinted on April 1, 2012 binned in wine news

In this special weekend edition of 1WineDude.com, I have some epically gargantuanly stunningly-hyphenated-made-up-adverbially BIG news to share with you all.

Steve Heimoff, of Wine Enthusiast Magazine (not sure if it’s the English or Mandarin version… but sh*t, I’d better find that out REAL soon) are SWAPPING GIGS.

Yes, ou’re reading that correctly. Steve Heimoff will now be writing the Wined Down With Joe Roberts column on Playboy.com, and I will be taking over Steve’s California wine beat for Wine Enthusiast.

As part of the move, Steve and I will also be swapping blogs, and so you will find Steve writing about writing about writing about wine here, and over at Steve’s website I will be penning my normal shot-from-the-hip missives about the wine world that actually sound like they were, indeed, shot by something and then left to rot.

I wanted you al to be the first to know. Only you’re not really the first to know… there were, like seventeen lawyers who knew before you did, and then there’s the editorial staff at WE and Playboy.com, and around eight or so of Steve’s neighbors in Oakland, who all knew before you did. But you’re, like, the thirty-fifth person to know and that’s meaningful to Steve and I, because I was 35 years maybe when Steve and I first met. Look, just go with it, okay?

I realize that this will come as a great shock to many of you, so it’s important that you understand the rationale behind this joint decision by Steve and me:

  • Talent: Steve and I are writers who can distinguish between when it is and is not grammatically correct to use the phrase “Steve and me.”
  • Work-Life Balance: We figured it would take a while before either WE or Playboy.com noticed, since we both like to work remotely.
  • Because We Can: We’re both, like, super-important in the wine blog world and this is, in fact, a childish attempt by both of us to lord our power over the minions.
  • Intangibles: We’re about the same height.
  • For The Good of the Land: Steve is less dangerous for the Playboy Playmates, and I’m less dangerous for Wine Enthusiast.

See you over at SteveHeimoff.com, people!

Cheers – and check your calendars!

p.s. – Mad, mad love, respect & appreciation to Steve, who had no idea I was doing this but I strongly suspect will take it with good humor (what’s Mandarin for “humor”?).

Will Bordeaux Be Fine Wine’s Benchmark In 100 Years? (A Candid Conversation With Eric Asimov)

Vinted on March 20, 2012 binned in commentary, interviews, wine news

Ah, Bordeaux… can’t live with its inflated prices… pass the peanuts!

The wine biz has been in a serious tizzy since Robert Parker released his scores for the 2009 Bordeaux offerings – and he was in a generous mood, with damn-near twenty wines garnering “perfect” 100 point scores, including the likes of Bellevue Mondotte, and Clos Fourtet, along with stalwarts such as Le Pin, Petrus, and Montrose. If the hubbub strikes you as much ado about little, you need to bear in mind that the Bordeaux wine market hardly seems able to wipe its own ass without a report on whether or not Parker used two-ply when evacuating.

Apparently, Parker’s website got so much attention when the scores were released that the site crashed (for which Parker apologized to his subscribers). Other long-time Bordeaux critics have been just as effusive (for example: James Suckling hailed 2009 as potentially Bordeaux’s best vintage, ever).

So, if you are under the delusion that the wine world still isn’t Bordeaux-crazy, then you are probably crazy. This is despite Bordeaux’s quality pyramid being almost totally inverted, and is despite the fact that wines from most of the top Bordeaux houses are now priced out the reach of what we would commonly call mortal human beings (I can remember when Chateau Margaux’s second wine, Pavillon Rouge de Chateau Margaux, was an excellent value at around $50 a bottle – the last ten years or so have seen about a 350% increase in that price).

But then again… as The Tick once said, maybe “you’re not going crazy… you’re going SANE in a CRAZY WOLD!” Has Bordeaux out-priced itself, and increased production so much that greed has overtaken good-old-fashioned capitalism? Are we in a Bordeaux backlash?  And will that backlash cause Bordeaux to lose its place as the benchmark for fine wine the world over?

To answer questions such as these, I like to turn to people who are much smarter than I am, and so I rang up the NY Times food and wine writer (and generally nice human) Eric Asimov to pick his noggin on all of this. If you want a cogent, educated, and measured take on the future of all of this Bordeaux madness, read on…

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Do Wine Experts Taste Differently Than You (And Does It Matter)?

Vinted on March 14, 2012 binned in best of, commentary, wine news, wine tasting

I don’t mean here that if you lick a wine expert (something I do not recommend, unless you happen to be Heidi Klum and the wine expert you plan on tasting is me) they taste like chocolate-covered hazelnut while you taste like a dog coming out of the rain.

I mean, are wine experts hard-wired to taste wine in a fundamentally different way than you are, physiologically?

Sound crazy? Well, crazy or not, that’s the conclusion suggested by results published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, from a study performed by John Hayes (assistant professor of food science) and others at (WE ARE!) Penn State. Even NPR jumped in on this action despite the study results not having been repeated yet (see “Most Of Us Just Can’t Taste The Nuances In High-Priced Wines” – not that they’d stoop to using an incendiary title that insinuates the conclusions as unalterable scientific fact or anything gimmicky like that…).

The coverage of the study at PSU.edu is pretty sparse, and open to some rather gaping critical holes, but assuming the results hold up to further scientific scrutiny they will bolster the controversial position taken by Master of Wine Tim Hanni (and others) that individually we perceive wines differently based on a number of factors, some of them physical.

To the tape, quoting Mr. Hayes (emphasis mine):

“While learning plays a role in their expertise and other factors matter, such as how they communicate their thoughts and opinions on wines, some wine experts may have an innate advantage in learning to discern small differences in wine.”

The most interesting thing about this study? For my money, it’s the further implication that reviews from wine experts are actually even less helpful to the general public than previously thought

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