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Marlborough’s 2009 Vintage, The Artists’ Lounge, and a Chance to Win a Kiwi Vacation

Vinted on January 12, 2010 under giveaways, wine review

Given that the Southern Hemisphere, whose “reversed” seasons give their winemakers a leg up on vintage releases, already have 2009s hitting the wine store shelves, it’s not too early to call the 2009 vintage for Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc a strong one.

I won’t go so far to protest 2009 as excellent for all of New Zealand, because I’ve simply not tasted enough ‘Kiwi’ wine (yet) to make a determination, but I can say that the `09 Marlborough SBs that have made their way into my sample bins have, for the most part, been very good and in some cases excellent.

Case in point is the 09 Drylands Sauvignon Blanc, which is absolutely screaming with passion fruit goodness and a quality finish that is much longer than I’d have expected at a price point under $15.  The QPR on that wine is just roof-busting.

Anyway, it seems that every big wine brand has some sort of social network initiative popping up these days, and New Zealand is no exception – Kim Crawford, who produce a few very good Marlborough wines, has recently jumped into the social networking game in a unique way with their Artists’ Lounge concept.  The interesting thing about the Artists’ Lounge is that Kim Crawford actually has four artists in residence as part of the community – a poet, a songwriter, a painter, and a photographer.  So if you’re into art and NZ wine, Artists’ Lounge might be a cool place for you.

If you’re into winning trips to NZ, then Artists’ Lounge might also be a cool place for you – from now through the week of January 18, members of the Lounge have a chance to win a trip to New Zealand by posting ideas for artistic inspiration in the member forums – the winning entries are chosen by the resident artists, who will create new art works based on the winning entries.

That seems like a pretty cool idea for a contest (and there are worse prizes than visiting the land where Lord of The Rings was filmed!).

More details available here: http://theartistslounge.clmclient.com/contest.php.

Got thoughts on the 2009 NZ wines, the land of Kiwi, or the Artists’ Lounge?  Let’s hear ‘em!

Cheers!

Should 1WineDude.com Start Using Wine Ratings? Have Your Say!

Vinted on January 7, 2010 under about 1winedude blog, wine review

Yes, I am actually going there.

No, I don’t expect everyone to like it, which is why I am asking you what you think about it.  Here’s the skinny:

What It Is

  • A grade I would give any wine reviewed on 1WineDude.com (and on the mini-wine review twitter feed).
  • The grade would follow the ‘report card’ format: highest compliment is an “A+” and lowest is an “F” (maybe an “F-“ if the wine really, really, really sucks donkey bong).

What It Ain’t

  • It is NOT a numerical rating system (we know where I stand on that stuff, right?).  For those of you who like to ‘post scan’ and then comment: Please do NOT comment on how I am a sellout because I’m giving a wine a number.  Because I’m not giving it a number.  Actually, why am I writing that since you post-scanners aren’t reading it.  Whatever.
  • It does NOT mean a change to how I cover wines on the blog. Same approach (detailed coverage, a story about and behind the wine, not just a tasting impression), just add the grade to the end of it.

Why The F— I Am Doing This

  • I know that there are many wine-lovin’ people out there who probably don’t take a lot of stock in a numerical score, but still want a quick way to take it all in when it comes to a wine’s value for money, it’s overall sensory impressions, it’s raison de’tre (is that raisin de’tre for Amarone? sorry, couldn’t help myself).  I’m just not sure if those folks are reading this blog.  Hence the poll below.

Feel free to give me your thoughts on this, and comment away if you love it or hate it.  I’m a big boy – I can take it.

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Cheers!

The 1WineDude.com Top 10 Most Interesting Wines of 2009

Here we go again. It is… that time.

That time when I present the 1WineDude.com Top 10 Most Interesting Wines of the Year.  Although I tried last year to set proper expectations around this year end recap of tasty vino, that didn’t stop my Top 10 Most Interesting Wines of 2008 list from being used as a bit of media-fodder “best of” list – which it wasn’t.

For those of you new to this annual list, here’s how it works: it’s NOT a list of the best wines released in 2009. It is a list of wines that I tasted in 2009 (that’s the only qualification for inclusion, by the way), and that I personally found to be the most interesting of those wines. The list is presented with my twitter mini-review, and reflections on why each wine was included.

I just want to caution everyone not to take this list too seriously.  Because, well, it’s not meant to be taken too seriously.  Which doesn’t mean that a lot of serious thought didn’t go into the compilation of this list.  It did.  As I mentioned in preface to the 2008 list:

“…there was nothing easy about compiling the list that I’m about to give to you, and I’m sure the inclusions and omissions will piss some people off somewhere. That isn’t my intention, and this is not a best-of list by any stretch of the imagination.”

That was even more true for this year’s list.  For one, the ‘competition’ (if it can be called that) was stiffer – I tasted more wines, and more wines of higher quality, than I ever have before.  I had access – through the kind generosity of many, many people in the wine industry – to more wines than I had in 2008, much of them of high quality.  Trying to nail this down to 10 wines was, at times, downright agonizing.  Many wines, made by people who in some cases I now count among my friends, that just didn’t make it but were ohhhh sooooo clooooose.

The list is not based on any numerical rating. The wines were chosen based on my tasting notes from all of the wines that I tasted this year. Since I am not employed as a wine critic, I do not taste thousands of wines per year. I do, however, taste well over an amount of wine than (I think) is normally accessible to the average wine lover.

The differences between the 2008 and 2009 lists are exciting for me:

As much as I consider myself a ‘red’ wine drinker at heart, the majority of the wines that made the cut are whites, with at least one of them being a grape that you probably haven’t had before (let alone heard of… or can likely pronounce).  The top 3 on the list are very, very exciting wines and I’m particularly stoked to hear (read) what you all think of those.

Sadly, I’m not sure that any of my picks are budget-priced wines – there’s something we can discuss in the comments! As with the 2008 list, and despite the high(ish) price tags, my aim is to expose you to something unique, different, and of (what I feel is) exceptional quality for the price – you can comment and let me know if I succeeded.

Enough of my yakin’ – let’s boogie! I give you -

The 1WineDude.com Top 10 Most Interesting Wines of 2009…

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Of Spouses, Samples and 92-Point Flawed Wines

Vinted on December 14, 2009 under California wine, commentary, wine review

What do you do when you and your spouse / significant other /favorite pet / whatever find yourselves double-booked for holiday party engagements?

If you’re me and Mrs. Dudette, you declare defeat, play holiday party hooky and instead grab three bottles from the samples stash and go out for a “date night” dinner alone to reconnect.  That’s what we decided to do last Friday evening (with apologies to anyone involved in the two holiday parties that we ditched – it’s nothing personal), and the time away from the holiday hustle & bustle allowed me to make a few reflective observations about the more recent ‘state of things.’

For instance: reconnecting with your spouse isn’t simply a matter of having great food and really good wines – though those two thing help immensely in the process.

But you’re not here for the Dude familial matters, you’re here for the wine, right?  Well, I made some reflections on that stuff, too:

  • Napa has gone almost ‘all-in’ when it comes to wine blogs, and is sending more and more stellar, low-production wines our way – another big change from 12 months ago.  I say “almost” because the cultiest of the cults are probably not going to divert any stock away from the allocation to the world’s yacht-owners to spare a bottle or two for me.
  • South-African wine has really, really impressed me lately, and this is the first year that I can remember not having any wines from South Africa that I didn’t like. Which, upon reflection after 12 months of tasting is really a bit remarkable.
  • From what I can discern, Wine & Spirits and Wine Spectator might have given 92 points to a flawed wine.

Let’s address each of these tidbits apiece, shall we?…

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