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Anatomy Of A Twitter Wine Tasting Homerun (2011 Donnafugata Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria)

Vinted on December 26, 2013 under sexy wines, wine review

Back on December 18th, 2013, a Sicilian dessert wine made from dried Zibibbo (aka Muscat of Alexandria) ruled the wine twitter world for an hour.

Think about that for a minute. A $40 half-bottle of sweet wine. Of Zibibbo. From Sicily.

I recently wrote up the top five most mentioned wines online in 2013, and Sicilian dessert wine was… uhm… not anywhere near that list… nor in the top twenty… I’m guessing it wasn’t in the top 600

As good as the wine is (and it’s great – more on that in a few minutes), I was skeptical after I received Donnafugata’s invitation to join their twitter tasting of the then newest Ben Ryé Passito release. First of all, after last week’s top ten Most Interesting Wines 2013 roundup (the 2008 Ben Ryé made the cut), how much more publicity did they need from me? And there was no structure whatsoever to the tasting, which isn’t typical of most simultaneous twitter tasting gatherings; usually, there are more than one wine to taste, someone sets the order, and those with the wine (mine was received as a sample for the event) are paced through the tasting by a leader, who fields questions snet via twitter to winery representatives, sometimes with video involved. This Donnafugata tasting had none of that. Until the day of the tasting, they hadn’t even announced a hashtag to use for summarizing all of the tweets involved.

But… I wanted to try the wine, had a free hour that evening, and it was being spearheaded by a friend of mine, Master of Wine candidate and indefatigable wine promoter Luiz Alberto. And so I figured, what the hell, let’s do it. I was unprepared for the outpouring of love that Ben Ryé received. Let’s take a look at the numbers, ‘cause they don’t lie…

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The Most Interesting Wines Of 2013, Part Two

Vinted on December 19, 2013 under Most Interesting Wines of the Year, wine review

Aaaaaaaannnnd… here they are!

I give you the Top Ten Most Interesting Wines of 2013, as determined by my mouth, brain, and what amounts to my dark little tortured soul. For the preamble and the wines that made the newly-expanded 20 through 11 slots of this round-up, see The Most Interesting Wines of 2013, Part One.

I will add only this to the sentiments of that previous preamble: if you hate the fact that the budget picks were few and far between in the first half of this year’s MIW list, you are really gonna hate the top ten. Sorry, but this isn’t a budget buying guide, peeps; it’s a romp through the stories, emotions, joys and sorrows of 1WD throughout the past year, and a highlight of those wines that I think combine both context and quality in ways that made me remember them months and months after the finishes had left the caves of my olfactory cavities (obviously, their fascinating memory-nasal-cave-paintings remained… okay, whatever, that analogy is really odd). Some of these top ten selections are stupidly pricey; but they’re also ridiculously interesting wines, the kind of stuff that one geek urges another to try if they’re ever presented with the opportunity and inclination.

Oh, and a bit more fodder for ya… the top five are almost entirely expensive, white, or dessert wines (or all three)! You are free to flame me to your dark heart’s content.

Enjoy the long, strange trip…

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What We Drank To Escape The Unbearable Cuteness Of Five Year Old Girls

Vinted on December 5, 2013 under crowd pleaser wines, elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review

When I include “unbearable cuteness” in the title, I am talking about unbearable cuteness. The kind of cuteness that is adorable and crushing at the same time. The kind of cuteness that requires vintage rosé Champagne, Australia’s possibly-best-in-country Viognier (from Yalumba), and vino from one of California’s more off-the-radar Pinot Noir producers to escape it (to keep up with the cuteness, all of the wines featured today have “quoted” fancy names… it will all make sense in a few minutes, okay?).

To wit: two five year old BFF daughters of separate families who, living many miles from one another and attending different schools, without communicating to one another asked their respective parents at the same time and on the same day if they could wear matching leg warmers that they both received as gifts.

That is the kind of unbearable cuteness I am talking about. Yes, one of the five year olds “belongs” to me. Eventually, as parents of the BFFs you need a double-date night just to forget about the power of cuteness like that. Which is what we did, and I, being 1WD, naturally use the opportunity of the double-date night as an opportunity to raid the wine sample pool (and incur a possible dinner tax write-off… just sayin’…).

Oh, and before you ask, I do not have pictures of these two kids together wearing their leg warmers, which is just as well because it would make your face explode due to overdose of concentrated cuteness. It’s times like these that I sometimes wish I’d had a boy, but those moments are only millisecond-term fleeting. Mostly, having a young daughter is like having 90% of your life become adorable, and I love it. Yeah, I know the Universe will pay me back later in the form of lecherous boys coming to the door asking her out on dates… and No, I am not yet okay with that.

Anyway… I swear to god that there is some wine involved here, so let’s climb out of the cuteness and talk about what Mrs. Dudette and I popped open with our dinner guests during said double-date night…

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Hey, Nice Spicerack! (Punchdown’s Cool-Climate Syrah Goodness)

Vinted on November 21, 2013 under overachiever wines, wine review

“Joe, Enjoy!

- Cool-climate Syrah – touch of Viognier

- neutral oak – low alc

Best – Jonathan Pey”

It’s always nice to get something – anything – that isn’t formulaic when you open something up from the wine sample pool. So much juice comes into 1WD central sometimes, accompanied with letters that begin impersonally (not an auspicious start when you’re trying to stand out among a deluge) with “Dear wine writer,” “Editor,” or – directly from-letter-mail-merge-misfire-embarrassment hell – “Dear [blank].”

So… Jonathan Pey’s personalized note stood out when I yanked it out of the shipping box, along with a bottle of Pey’s 2011 Spicerack “Punchdown” Syrah. When I read the hand-written addition (reproduced – and pictured – above), I got a chuckle out of it. I mean, I try not to pigeon-hole myself in terms of stylistic preferences, but it’s true that I am often giving high ratings to extremely well-crafted, complex, age-worthy wines that I personally wouldn’t want to drink (my personal drinking preferences, in my view, should have little to do with the “grade” a wine might get, given that your preferences might be different). I quite happily drink a crap-ton of “B+” wines, ecstatic that I’ve received them for free (and probably more ecstatic than the producers receiving less than an “A”), and happy there’s enough juice left over in that bottle to share with Mrs. Dudette during dinner after I’m done reviewing it.

But it got me thinking… am I that easily transparent, even after all of my careful work (careful by my lazy standards, anyway)? I mean, I smiled at Pey’s note, but I also wanted to crumple it up and toss it in the fireplace, because it seemed so… smug… as if he was thinking “I’ll bet this guy is like those hipster East Coast Somms, all up into under-ripe 13% abv wines that smell like bush stems and taste of battery acid!”

Turns out I am that transparent, after all, but Pey’s not that smug, and his small production wine (15 barrels) tastes nothing like tea made from green vine stems…

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