Posts Filed Under wine review

In Pursuit Of (And Catching) Balance With Raj Parr’s Sandhi Wines in NYC

Vinted on May 3, 2012 binned in elegant wines, on the road, wine review

With the In Pursuit Of Balance tasting (which recently hit NYC), co-creators Parr and Jasmine Hirsch (of Hirsch Vineyards) have brought together some of the most exciting – and highest quality – producers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in California (many of which hail from the West Sonoma Coast, where those wines are rapidly reaching world-class status).

For me, their invitation to attend the NYC event was a chance to catch-up with some of the wines and producers I’d first been introduced to last year at the inaugural West Of West festival in Occidental, catch-up with Raj, and maybe get introduced to some new wines.

I expected to find some really (really!) good Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at the IPOB tasting recently at City Winery in NYC.

I just didn’t expect some of best of those wines to be Raj’s.

But there you have it – the wacky world of wine, in which a sommelier can team up with a California native (Sashi Moorman) and make better wines than some people who have been at it for decades longer. And I’m merely calling it as I see (er, taste) it – the juice is the juice, and in this case the juice is pretty damn good; in fact, it was some of the best offered in a room full of wines where sub-par offerings were hard to come by…

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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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