Posts Filed Under wine review
A year later, and Mosel Riesling is still kicking ass. Only it took a blind tasting held in the Finger Lakes to remind me of that.
Back in August, I was asked to participate in a sensory analysis panel in Watkins Glen (Finger Lakes wine country, that is) related to a mobile wine app that has yet to hit the market. I am under a NDA, and so there’s actually not much I can tell you specifically about the event apart from the fact that I was paid for my work, and the relatively large panel also included oenologists, other bloggers like Vinesleuth, a few Finger Lakes winemakers, and some heavy-hitters in the wine judging circuit who I’ve admired for some time (it was a real trip meeting those folks). Also, the weather was f*cking incredible, which helped since my toddler daughter insisted on climbing all over the rocks of the jetty behind the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, which I think might have given me a few (mild) heart attacks.
The blind analysis did not include FLX wines, though I did manage to sneak in a (non-blind) tasting of a some recent Fox Run Vineyards releases with winemakers Peter Bell and Tricia Renshaw. That was a trip highlight for me; their wines continue to improve at a dramatic rate, and they have some very interesting things going on in their 2010 and 2011 Rieslings.
It’s a shame that there weren’t any FLX wines in the lineup, because the wines that I tasted blind over the few days of that sensory eval were, on the whole, not-so-hot. I’d have welcomed a few FLX stalwarts in those glasses, believe me. And once I figured out that we were tasting the wine flights in duplicate, I started to cringe… “Oh sh*t… this means I’m gonna have to taste through that funky-ass, over-oaked, buttery Syrah flight again!” Let’s just say it was good I was getting paid, otherwise I’d have been tempted to skip out to the jetty with my daughter.
A few notable exceptions did crop up through those flights, and I noted one particular white wine that tasted familiar to me, and was clearly a full head-and-shoulders quality level above the rest of the pack of dozens and dozens of budget-priced wines that we tasted (and I’m talking Kevin-Garnett-standing-next-to-me sized head-and-shoulders height difference, here)…
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Message to Sonoma: you’re no longer in your neighbor Napa Valley’s shadow.
You’re not the uncool kid at the dance, the next-to-last picked for the two-hand-touch football game during recess, or the slightly-less-talented and almost-as-comely sister when compared to Napa, at least not on the high-end of the vinous spectrum.
That bit of news flash will come as no surprise whatsoever to those producing and enjoying the best that Sonoma has to offer, many of whom I suspect will email me with encouraging (read: angry) words to let me know just how late I am to that party, but it might make those less familiar with Sonoma’s best wines reconsider their options when next given the opportunity to sample them. And reconsider they should, because Sonoma has probably never produced high-end wines quite as good as those that they’re making now.
That was the main takeaway for me when I attended the 2012 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend festivities as a media guest, a multi-event held across the Labor Day weekend and culminating in an Indian-themed (yeah, I didn’t get it, either) auction (their 20th) that raised over $1.6 million for Sonoma-area non-profits. Auction highlights for me included chatting about wines of character with real character viticulturalist Phil Coturri, talking with screenwriter-turned-proprietor Robert Kamen about penning The Professional (because that flik is just awesome), and drinking a bit too much of Joel Peterson’s gorgeously spicy 1997 Ravenswood Belloni Vineyard Zinfandel blend (spookily, Joel had near-perfect-detail recollection of our first meeting back in 2008…).
But I found my highest highlight (if you will) before the auction event, at the “Club Reserve” area of the 33rd annual Taste of Sonoma event (held at MacMurray Ranch)… because that’s where I got properly schooled in real high-end Sonoma juice…
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I was recently contacted by the folks over at Etching Expressions, a service that provides custom etched wine bottles and personalized wine labels, complete with vino in bottle.
They wanted to send me a sample, but not for the usual reason of hoping that it might turn into a formal review. No, this was to potentially counter a review of their products that I penned back in June… of 2009.
In that post, I gave high marks the top-notch bottle etching that EE pulled off (a custom job, by the way, using one of the 1WD t-shirt logos). I gave not-so-high marks to the generic plonk of a wine that they used to fill that sample bottle.
And there, my friends, was the rub.
It seems that on the Global Interwebs (and no, I will NOT stop using that dorky phrase anytime soon), reviews can get to be sticky matters. Which is one of the reasons, I think, that wine and product producers of all stripes clamor to get folks on the web with half-decent following to cover their products: these things live virtually (in both senses of the word) forever. Of course, the double-edge of the sword that cuts you is the negative review that happens to get published, which is probably why most people steer clear of the negative stuff (I myself have just found too much good shiz to tell you about lately, making the potential negative coverage a lot more difficult to justify in terms of taking up virtual real estate here on 1WD). In this case, EE couldn’t seem to get a Google search result without my less-than-stellar 2009 review popping up front-and-center; not great for brand perception on-line, I suppose.
And so I gave EE the okay to send me another product sample for possible review, and told them I’d amend the previous review to account for the fact that their vino selection had been substantially upgraded in the years between my visits. And I can tell you that I was more than pleasantly surprised by what I found both outside and inside that new sample…
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