Posts Filed Under wine review

Summer In The Bag: Putting Alternative Wine Packaging To The Cooler Test

Vinted on July 4, 2012 binned in holidays, wine review

In what has become an annual tradition within a tradition (which I suppose makes it some sort of Postmodern meta-tradition?), I’ve once again used my band’s appearance at the annual Summer Solstice music festival as an excuse to sneak in some “work.”

The work, such as it is, involves grabbing samples of wine in alternative packaging (bag-in-box, pouches, tetra-pack cartons, etc.), throwing them in a cooler, and sampling them the way that normal people do for wines built for on-the-go drinking; namely, drinking those wines under the bright sun, straight out of the cooler and poured into plastic cups and glasses, on the lawn, with picnic fare.

Seemed a perfect match for the 4th of July, anyway! Wish I could scream “queue the fireworks!” but by-and-large the wines I tried are best described as more capable than cause for celebration. The look on my face in the inset pic (taken by our singer/songwriter/guitarist Steve Liberace) can be used as a short-hand version of how I felt overall about this year’s alt packaging round up…

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Wined Down: Gulping With A Mastodon For Playboy.com

Vinted on June 21, 2012 binned in kick-ass wines, wine review, Wined Down (Playboy.com)

In what’s become a surreal state of affairs, the list of California cult wines that I’ve yet to try in some way/shape/form is dwindling. Quickly.

The surreal part is that there is no way that I could afford these wines on my own, and in some cases I wouldn’t want to pay the money for them, anyway.

That’s not quite the case for one of the newest wines to join the cult cadre, the worst-kept-secret Napa Valley Cab that I featured in the latest Wined Down column over at Playboy.com: Tusk, a new partnership with what-a-surprise-okay-not-really Philippe Melka at the winemaking helm.

The story over at Playboy.com has the whole, well, story on my initiation into the Secret House Of Tusk, from the former movie mogul mansion they are converting into their annual party crash pad, to their play to be one of the first real “populist” cult wines by eschewing ratings and implementing a “two degrees of separation” member list policy; so I’m not going to repeat it here, and will instead urge you to go over there and read it, and then buy 700 subscriptions for all of your friends. I will provide you with a bit more on the tasting note front, though, in case you’ve got a serious amount of wine fund money burning a hole in your rich-ass pockets…

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Auction Napa Valley 2012: One Dude’s Tasting Notes

Vinted on June 12, 2012 binned in on the road, wine review

Part of the madness of Auction Napa Valley (the annual over-the-top charity shin-dig that this year raked in about $8 million) – and the fun – is that both the one-percenters and the rest of us can bid on barrels of upcoming Napa Valley wine releases (and, in some cases, special one-of-a-kind lots) during the event’s barrel auction day (an e-auction also takes place, which is probably where more of the 99-percenters can realistically get in on the action).

This year, the barrel auction was held inside the extensive caves at Jarvis, a producer who brings their grapes underground into their man-made caves, with those grapes not seeing the light of day again until they exit as high-end, bottle-aged wines.

It’s a fun event, where wine producers, press, and the one-percenters (okay… that’s unfair… let’s say two-percenters) mingle on the lawn, sampling NV producer wines and enjoying a sh*tload of foodstuffs from local purveyors (and it wasn’t exactly run-of-the-mill food-truck fare, either – at one station, you could sample a mini version of The French Laundry’s famous salmon tartare “ice cream cone”).

2012’s version was a bit hectic (apparently so hectic that I was able to only take photos in portait orientation, from the looks of the inset pics), but in a fun way. However, the mayhem made even the hockey-arena-sized event space in Jarvis’ caves seem crowded. I gave up on critically assessing the barrel lots pretty quickly, once it became clear that it was going to take me a few minutes per taste just to work my way through the throngs enough to access the spit buckets.

So… I only got to about thirty of the hundred-or-so auction lots that day, and while it might come as no surprise to hear that a Philippe Melka wine and a Scarecow lot were vying for the highest-bid bragging rights during the auction, it might surprise those of you who have been following the NV wine scene to learn that Scarecrow came in second this time, losing out to Melka’s first-ever barrel auction wine under his own label.

Following are my takes on the best of what I got around to tasting critically that day, before I gave the hell up to the whole enticing craziness and just started drinking (mostly Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, since it was hot and sunny) instead of tasting… as well as some thoughts on the 2010 NV vintage overall…

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