Posts Filed Under wine review

An Elegant Date-Night Double-Team

Vinted on November 25, 2011 binned in elegant wines, wine review

When you are parents to an active, creative, inquisitive, overtly-social, never-seems-to-stop-talking-like-EVER toddler, you don’t mess around when it comes to date night.

You’ve got something along the lines of three hours to enjoy dinner, drink wine and indulge in adult conversation. This is not, therefore, a time for risky experimentation. You do not go for totally unknown quantities – you go for ringers.

Which is precisely what I did this week when (a rather harried and child-care-worn) Mrs. Dudette and I hit our fave local Italian joint on date night (if you visit, I’ve got three words for you: Cannelonni di Carne!).

Anyway… I tough week of childcare for Mrs. Dudette inspired me to double-team her ass, vinously-speaking, pulling two such elegant and downright-gorgeous ringers from the “holy-crap-where-am-I-gonna-put-this-stuff”-sized sample pool – a vintage bubbly direct from the area that started it all, followed by one of the brightest stars of the shining Pinot Noir galaxy that is the Sonoma Coast.  Yes, both are flirting with the too-rich-for-my-blood price range, and at least one of them is flirting with where-the-f*ck-can-I-find-a-bottle-of-this-already availability due to its small production, BUT… both are stellar, expressive, beautiful wines, and are well-worth your wine geek time seeking them out. Now, since I’m flirting with stringing-too-many-words-together-with-hyphens territory, let’s get to the real meat on this plate…

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Feeling The Heat In California: Are Paso Robles Wines Too High In Alcohol?

Vinted on November 17, 2011 binned in crowd pleaser wines, elegant wines, on the road, overachiever wines, wine review

There’s one thing you need to know about Paso Robles wine country.

It can get hot.

And I’m not talking about the Summertime temperatures, or even the Indian-Summertime temperatures, which had busted through the 100F mark not too long before my visit to Paso in October.

No, I’m talking about the wines.

After tasting through a small score of the vino on offer from several of Paso’s wine producers, the most prominent takeaway was that there were so many wines that were made from very, very ripe fruit – wines that generally exceeded 14% abv in the whites and regularly hit over 15% abv in the reds.

That is not an inevitable conclusion for Paso Robles wine.  And I know this because it wasn’t always the case.

During my Paso visit, I dined at the home of Gary and Marcy Eberle, who own Eberle Winery in Paso. Over the course of our meal (also attended by representatives of several other Paso producers), Gary opened a few bottles of Eberle Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from the early 1980s. Those wines were a far cry from being dead – in fact, they were vibrant, with juicy red fruits underpinning aromas of dried herbs.  In other words, those wines were refined, food-friendly, and eminently drinkable.  The abv? About 13%

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Tasting 40 Years Of A Tawny Port Icon

Vinted on November 10, 2011 binned in crowd pleaser wines, kick-ass wines, wine books, wine review

“Billy C. is drinking Sandeman Port down at the old café
And the river goes by slowly, the river likes it that way.”

The Knuckleball Suite, Peter Mulvey

In the world of wine, there are a few images that stand the test of time and can truly be described as iconic, instantly conjuring up the history not just of a long-standing producer, but also of the entire region that producer calls home. And when you’re iconic in the world of wine, with its long historical perspective… well, then you’re just f*cking iconic, period.

In America, we have such an icon: the Missionary-style tower at Robert Mondavi winery in Napa Valley has come to represent not only the history of fine winemaking at RMW, but the entire modern history of fine winemaking in all of Napa (and by extension all of the U.S.), by virtue of the man who just about singlehandedly started it all.

The world of Port in Portugal has such an icon, too: The Don – that tall, dark-cloaked stranger that stands so prominently on the Gaia side of the river Douro (and who’s a lot more Zoro than creepy-flasher), is instantly recognizable to anyone walking along the shoreline in Porto. George Massiot Brown’s poster design from the 1920s has come to represent not only the 200+ years of Port-producing history that began with Scotsman George Sandeman – to many, it represents Port, period.

So when you’re offered samples of the icon’s range of age-designated Tawny Ports (from 10 to 40 years old) for possible review, you think twice about turning them down. In fact, in that scenario, as a wine geek you really have only two options: 1) decline the samples, or 2) plan on staging a comparative tasting and pairing them with Apple, Cranberry & Walnut Pie with Stilton (from page 208 of Sid Goldstein’s excellent The Wine Lover’s Cookbook).

You can guess which option I picked…

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