Posts Filed Under wine review

Young Guns, Part Deux: Porch Wines And Porch Rock With Karl Wente

Vinted on April 19, 2012 binned in crowd pleaser wines, on the road, overachiever wines, wine review

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?!??”)…

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Ma(i)n Of La Mancha (Airén It Out With The World’s Most-Planted Grape)

Vinted on April 17, 2012 binned in overachiever wines, wine review

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

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A Champion Is Crowned: The 2012 1WD Petite Sirah Taste-Off Finals

Vinted on April 12, 2012 binned in kick-ass wines, wine review

In a thrilling, tightly-fought contest, the 2009 Frank Family Vineyards SJ Vineyard Reserve Petite Sirah was crowned Champion of the 2012 1WineDude.com Petite Sirah Taste-Off tournament, edging out its Napa neighbor rival in the finals, the 2007 Stanton Vineyards Petite Sirah.

The contest was widely dubbed “The Slapper Down In Napa” by the press, since both finalists hailed from California’s Napa Valley winemaking region.

“Wow… just… wow!” Frank Family’s violet aromas told reporters when asked about its game MVP award-winning performance during the bought. “You know, we were favored, but a lot of people maybe thought that we were too big, that the tannins and alcohol would hog the ball… but we played like a team today!” the MVP remarked as it choked back tears of joy.

Stanton Vineyards Petite Sirah had been a meaty, deep and demanding wine throughout the tournament, widely agreed that it lived up to its $40 SRP ranking, and garnering a reputation as the “George Foreman” of the field of sixteen: stocky, focused and powerful.

But it wasn’t enough against the highly-ranked, slightly-favored Frank Family Vineyards PS. Punishing and also powerful – and, at times, criticized as being too flamboyant for its own good – the 2009 Frank Family displayed depth and poise and prettiness in the final round, to augment its power-forward tannin-and-grip game. Like Ali or Michael Jordan, it was just fun to watch it do its thing – and see it win it all.

Both wines insisted that that they’d be going right back to work on the current vintage.

“Win or now win, vines gotta be pruned, and eventually grapes gotta get picked – and crushed,” Frank Family Vineyards PS told reporters at the close of their post-championship press conference.

No stops in Disneyland for these two stalwarts; only a momentary pause to contemplate and appreciate a fleeting moment (or two) of glory…

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