Posts Filed Under wine review

Still Yummy After All These Years (Marques de Riscal Crianza 1979)

Vinted on January 17, 2013 binned in elegant wines, wine review

In between bites of grilled chicken pita BLT at Four Dogs Tavern a few weeks ago, I looked up across the table at fellow PA wine educator Bob Trimble. Chew, chew, chew. Swallow. Lift of the glass, sip, gulp. Smile.

“The thing about this wine,” I said, “is that it probably tasted yummy when it was bottled… and it still tastes yummy… and it probably tasted yummy at every point along the way; that’s thirty-four years of yummy!”

Those of you who hate the descriptor “yummy” when it comes to describing a wine can bite me; this was was f*cking yummy.

Y-U-M-M-Y.

We were drinking what Bob called “Joan’s wine” – a thank you gift to him for helping a friend sort through some older items in her wine collection. Our yummy lunchtime still treat was pulled out of its original cardboard box (remember when bottled wines came in those?), and was “kept under the drapes!” and away from sunlight for a long time, according to Bob.

The most interesting thing about the wine, to me, was that our 1979 Marqués de Riscal probably had no right to be drinking as well as it did – this was a Crianza, the lowest man on the Rioja aging totem pole. But at our lunch, it was kicking the shiz out of several younger Reserva and Gran Reserva wines I had from other producers when I visited Rioja last year

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A Post-Holiday Bargain Bottle Of Farmer Fizz (And How To Pour It!)

Vinted on January 10, 2013 binned in overachiever wines, wine review, Wined Down (Playboy.com)

When Playboy.com asked me to put together a primer on Champagne (for the NYE celebration holiday season), I was sporting a seriously large sh*t-eating grin on my face.

I mean, c’mon… the homework involved in that requires me to raid the sample pool for all of the Champers I could get my grubby little paws on; and while there are many strong contenders outside of the region, when it comes to sparkling wine, a strong argument can be made that Champagne still reigns supreme. Just try finding wine geeks who don’t like it… (now there’s a needle-in-the-haystack treasure hunt for you).

Put another way: there are far worse assignments, okay?

Interestingly, while the annual New Year’s Eve run-up on sparkling wine articles was in full-force (I think there were more of those in the last week of December than Lindsay Lohan rehab stints), the most interesting piece of bubbly news at the close of 2012 came from NPR, of all places…

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Churchill’s Vintage Port Recent (And Not So Recent) Releases

“You can beat the sh*t out of something, and all you get is powdered sh*t!”
– Johnny Graham

As part of some prep work for recently-published Playboy Port Primer (For Your Holiday Port-ing Pleasure), in November I was a guest of importer Frederick Wildman for a lunch/tasting and dinner/tasting with Johnny Graham, the force behind relative Port newcomer Churchill’s.

The F-W folks didn’t actually know that I was sort-of on assignment for my Port Primer, but it turned out that Johnny Graham – to whom I now owe a return on a much-needed pre-dinner beer that he bought me en route to the evening event – had so much Port worth talking about that I wanted to highlight him here. I think I also owe him a beer for providing the above quote, which slipped out when we were tasting through some of the Churchill’s lineup at F-W headquarters before our dinner, while we were discussing wines that exude finesse as well as natural concentration, versus those that simply display an overly-extracted sense of concentration (for an example of the former, try Churchill’s elegantly understated Ten Year Tawny Port, which I likened to Sancerre – seriously – in terms of its prettiness).

Anyway, the highlight of the visit was a trip to NYC’s Hearth restaurant, where I finally got to see/taste what all the (well-deserved) fuss was about when it comes to Paul Grieco (and his massive soul patch), who did an admirable job pairing an entire multi-course meal to vintage Port selections from Churchill’s (not an easy feat, even if the wines are quite good, since they’re also quite demanding, and in some cases quite sweet – in short, a culinary mine field).

Graham’s family Port biz started in the 1800s, and he told me that he was “fortunate, in my youth, I was able to taste vintages like the 1908s; Vintage Port can age 20, 50 years or more, and there just aren’t many wines that can do that.” To that end, given the sh*tload of non-sh*tty wines we tasted that evening, I hope you’ll forgive me the  list-and-review style format post, but I thought it worthwhile to give you the scoop on several past vintages of Churchill’s Vintages… including a sneak-peak at the yet-to-be-released 2011…

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