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Les Badges de la Semaine (Lively & Rockin’ Edition)

Vinted on September 17, 2010 binned in crowd pleaser wines, overachiever wines, wine review

A short-and-sweet little ditty for a couple of badge-worthy wine recommendations this week.  I also want to thank everyone who has contacted me through various channels with their positive vibes for the badges; so far I’m enjoying using them so they’ll be sticking around:

1WD_Badge_Crowd_Pleaser_thumb1[1] 2008 Three Rivers Winery Insania Red (Columbia Valley): A bit hot but pleasingly complex (hello Olives & cedar!) Bord’x-style blend. $35 B+ #

Produced in cooperation with bad-ass hard rock vocalist Geoff Tate, this is one of those reds that has the virtue of being pleasantly drinkable now, complex enough on the nose to get wine geeks talking about its olive and cedar overtones, and carries with it the cache factor of limited production from an emerging hot-spot wine region (and being associated with Queensryche, who kick all kinds of ass).

1WD_Badge_Overachiever_thumb[1] 2006 Hugel & Fils Pinot Gris Classic “HUGEL” (Alsace): I consider it very awesome that someone is making a lively & very non-flabby PG. $15 B #

This wine will definitely come off as too racy and acidic for some, but the geekier among us will love the fact that there’s a food-friendly PG out there that delivers oodles of tropical fruit aromas without turning into a flabby-ass alcoholic mess on the palate (PG lovers will know what I am talking about here).

If anyone out there gets the chance to try these puppies, let me know your thoughts!

There’s a special mention this week as well, one that doesn’t really fit into any of the badge categories, but does deliver some serious goods:

07 Shinn Estate Vineyards Nine Barrels Reserve Merlot (Long Island): Walk-on part by dried fig steals the show in off-Broadway hit. $42 B+ #

Part of a Taste NY twitter live-tasting event earlier this week, this Merlot-based blend from Shinn should bring the smack-down on any naysayers who continue to believe that East Coast reds can’t compete in terms of ripeness and complexity.

Cheers!

Wine Review Triple-Play (From Opener to Aerator to Glass)

Vinted on September 15, 2010 binned in Italian Wine, wine products, wine review

Because I’m perpetually behind in all aspects of my life, I now find myself spending time that I don’t have perusing productivity websites looking for ways to get time “back.”  So far, I’m (at best) breaking even in terms of getting back the time I spend perusing productivity websites.

One of the cardinal sins of productivity these days is multitasking, which is almost universally derided as the enemy of true efficacy. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me well when I tell you that I resorted to multitasking in order to get through a backlog of wine and wine product samples to review.

What you might call shiftless otioseness, I call adding value

Ok, whatever…

So, I used a product sample to open a wine sample, and poured that wine sample through another product sample (into a glass that I purchased myself, so that part won’t get reviewed – I do have some limit on the number of freebies to be strung together (apparently, that limit is three). 

The result – a review of the True Utility Twistick, the massive 2006 Luce Della Vite red, and the Vinturi Wine Aerator (yeah, I know – I’m the last wine guy alive to try the Vinturi). I had fun, but didn’t get to the semi-orgasmic status suggested by the image on the back of one of the products (see inset pic).

Man, I’m already tired and I haven’t even gotten into any details yet. Can you just come back tomorrow?  No?  Fine, let’s get started…

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Wine Revolution Calling: Queensryche’s Geoff Tate Talks Insania

Vinted on September 13, 2010 binned in interviews, wine review

To put it mildly, today’s interviewee guest is a bona fide bad-ass rock star. Oh, yeah – he happens to know his wine, as well.

Geoff Tate is best known as the voice behind uber-rockers Queensryche, who garnered critical acclaim after releasing the brilliant hard rock concept album Operation: Mindcrime in 1988 – followed shortly afterwards by a chronicle of their ambitious live rendition of the entire album (Operation: Livecrime, which on a bad-ass scale of 1 to 10 comes in somewhere around a 37).  Their 1990 studio release, Empire, went triple-platinum and catapulted Queensryche into cross-over super-stardom, launching about a thousand copy-cat hard rock acts who tried – but never quite matched – the uniqueness of Empire’s best-known track, the power-ballad Silent Lucidity

In other words, Queensryche ruled hard-rock in the early `90s.

They’ve been rocking ever since, maintaining a hard-edged musical integrity, exploring social themes, and continuing to push their own boundaries even when those directions meant less fame. A core group of fans have followed them throughout, and Queensryche is currently touring in support of their latest release, American Soldier, a chronicle of wartime experiences based on conversations with American military personnel, and consequently one of their boldest artistic statements to date.

Tate, a Washington native, has been making wine with Walla Walla producer Three Rivers Winery for the last few years, starting off with a Bordeaux-style red blend called Insania and recently adding a Bordeaux-style white blend to the Insania lineup. 

I tasted samples of the 2009 Insania White and 2008 Insania Red, and found both quite good and clearly made with food pairing in mind. the wines might not be to everyone’s tastes (the Insania red being relatively big at 14.5% abv) but it will take only one sniff to dispel any doubts that the wines aren’t serious, or that they’re simply another celebrity vanity project.

The 2009 white (mostly Sauvignon Blanc) is the simpler of the two, with tasty melon and citrus moving into a “fleshy” mouthfeel (thanks to a healthy dose of barrel-fermented Semillon).  It’s not svelte, but clearly the fruit from Red Mountain’s Klipsun vineyard (which makes up over half the Insania white blend) has great potential; here it delivers a wine that totally rocks with shrimp and avocado burritos.

The 2008 Insania Red (primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, with dollops of Merlot, Malbec and a tiny portion of Cab Franc) offers complexity on the nose that one wouldn’t expect from a wine sourced from six different vineyards. The almost sweet and very dark fruit is complimented by cedar and black olive notes, and there’s enough acidity in Insania to tame its brooding tannins with a beef filet; it might be big, but it’s anything but dumb.

Geoff was kind enough to take some time out of the Queensryche touring schedule to answer a few questions about Insania and offer his take on several wine topics.  What follows is an insight into a wine-knowledgeable hard-rocking brain, and fans of Queensryche’s music will not be surprised to find that Geoff has strong opinions – specifically, on where to go for wine recommendations, pairing wine with fine cuisine, and wine’s role in American society.

Enjoy!…

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Two Badge-Worthy (And Cheap!) Whites

Vinted on September 10, 2010 binned in crowd pleaser wines, kick-ass wines, wine review

Ok, so one of them isn’t that cheap… and come to think of it, the better term is inexpensive because neither of them are cheaply made… whatever, you’ll get what I mean…!

Anyway, we’ve got two badges to hand out this week, both to whites from the sample pool that really impressed me.  Here they are, with twitter mini-review attached (along with more expanded thoughts):

1WD_Badge_Crowd_Pleaser 2009 Aveleda Alvarinho Vinho Branco (Regional Minho): Accomplished, accessible but slightly more serious big sister of Vinho Verde. $11 B+ #

Hot damn, Portugal has been coming out swinging lately and this white is no exception – it’s got enough citrusy perk to please the foodies, enough fruit to attract the casual sipper, and enough seriousness to make the wine geeks do a small double-take-head-fake after trying it.

1WD_Badge_Kick-Ass 2008 Fess Parker Ashley’s Chardonnay (Santa Rita Hills): 3 words – Home [insert declarative expletive of your choice here] run. $28 A- #

This wine has its fair share of admirers in the wine media and, well, I’m late to that party but can now tell you that they are spot-on. It’s rare that a big-ass Chard gives me enough depth and complexity to want to sit back and contemplate it (usually, big-ass Chards make me want to step back and pour them down the kitchen sink). But this one… this one delivers, nearly brilliantly and for a price way under what they could be charging for it if the label read “Napa” instead of “Santa Rita Hills.”

Cheers!

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