Posts Filed Under wine review

Hey, Road Warrior: You Taste Wine Differently In-Flight (A Master Somm’s Business Class Vino Selections)

Vinted on August 23, 2012 binned in crowd pleaser wines, wine review

Last week, I had the pleasure of taking part in a Google+ video hangout chat hosted by Master Sommelier (and general dynamo/spitfire) Andrea Immer Robinson. Andrea asked me to participate in the hangout as part of select group to taste through wines that she had picked for the in-flight business class selection one of Delta Airlines’ cross-country routes (apparently I’m to get a free trip on that route as part of the deal to test the wines in flight myself, so this was a promotional chat sponsored by Delta).

More on Andrea’s picks in a minute; first, I want to talk about something that Andrea brought up in the context of the hangout discussion (a video recap of which you can watch below after the jump). That event got my wine brain juices flowing, and not only because I was treading water, trying not to look like a complete hack in front of a group of mostly Master Somms, many of whom have individual taste buds on their tongues with more collective wine tasting experience than I possess.

What intrigued me was something that Andrea mentioned about plane travel that impacted her choices of wines to include for the biz class long-haul journey: we (as in all of us, not just those banished to coach class) taste food differently in-flight versus when we’re on terra firma.

Specifically, she wanted to pick wines that had big aromatic, textural, and flavor profiles because wines and food taste duller in the air. At first I thought that Andrea was just going on common sense borne from personal experience (she flies the routes to taste how the potential wine picks fare in-flight), but it turns out there’s some potentially solid science behind that approach. And I care because, like probably many of you reading this, I’m a wine lover who’s also put in a butt-numbing amount of miles and hours sitting in an airplane seat this year…

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Old House, Old Vines, New Styles (Tasting Izadi Recent Releases In Rioja)

Vinted on August 16, 2012 binned in kick-ass wines, overachiever wines, wine review

To get a feel for how important the culture of the vine is in the tiny and picturesque hilltop town of Villabuena in Rioja Alavesa, consider this: Villabuena has roughly 317 inhabitants, and just over ten percent of them (about 40) are wineries; so the town hosts 1 winery for every 8 or so people.

Looking out from the back patio of an old house owned by one of those winemaking residents – Bodegas Izadi– and taking in the quaint images of hanging laundry, satellite dishes, and brick-colored rooftops in the shadow of the mountains, Villabuena proffers an odd locale for a winery. But there must be something to the nearby sloping hills that suits the vine – particularly Tempranillo – to explain the preponderance of wineries that call the town home.

Izadi was founded in the late 1980s by restaurateur Gonzalo Anton, following the dual urges of creating wine good enough that he could serve it to his friends, and wanting to produce wines in a more modern style – clean, and approachable – than those that being produced by other members of his members.

It’s ironic, then, that their most compelling wine (in my view, anyway) is the one that has the greatest nod towards Rioja tradition, and is made from the 100-year old vines planted so haphazardly a short drive from the old Villabuena residence that Izadi now calls home

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Rare By Nature, Rare By Nurture (The Inside View Of Rutherglen Rare Topaque And Muscat)

Vinted on August 2, 2012 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, sexy wines, wine review

Geographic isolation engenders resourcefulness. As well as entire rooms that smell like caramel and sultanas.

Let’s start with the resourcefulness.

When Scottish friends George Sutherland Smith and John Banks decided in the 1860s that they couldn’t wait for materials to be shipped in to them to build All Saints, a winemaking property on the bank of the Murray River in Rutherglen’s Wahgunyah, they did what any self-respecting Aussies would do; they did it al themselves. Smith and Banks went ahead and established their own brick kiln so they could make their materials; presumably in a hurry to finish, fingerprints can still be seen in the bricks where Chinese workers laid down the material that had just barely cooled.

The result of their ingenuity is a structure that was once believed to be the largest winery in the southern hemisphere, an imposing building modeled after the their home country’s Castle of Mey (All Saints Estate was purchased in 1992 by the Brown family of Milawa, and Brown descendants Eliza, Angela and Nicholas now run the show), and built “on the back of money made running paddle steamers up the Murray and selling dry goods to miners” according to their PR folks.

The surfeit of caramel and sultanas come to us by virtue of All Saints hosting a tasting of Rutherglen’s now most famous wine export: “stickies” in Aussie slang, fortified dessert wine to the rest of the wine world. For my visit, All Saints had poured, for a comparitive master-class tasting, glasses of nearly every Rutherglen producer’s Topaque offerings, from the simpler Rutherglen level all the way through to what are called “Rare” with good reason: they’re made in tiny quantities, and aged somewhere around thirty years in barrel.

It was the Rares in which I was most interested, because… well, because I’m not above that sort of thing but primarily to tell you what they taste like, even though the chances of finding them stateside are fairly… rare

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