Posts Filed Under wine review

Puny Mortal! (Madeira Wine, 1976 To 1850 For Palate Press)

Vinted on March 15, 2016 binned in on the road, wine review
Madeira group photo

image: Madeira Wine Institute

I think I’m still a bit in shock.

In a good way.

My recent press trip to Madeira was an amazing experience; pretty much exactly what a long-time Madeira wine geek (remember, I once compared Madeira to Iron Man) would have hoped it would be. And while my palate, brain, and soul are all still trying to wrap that jaunt up into something that puny morals like me can understand, I did manage to get it together juuuuuust enough to pen an introductory piece on the experience for Palate Press.

The premise for the feature, titled Tasting immortality, was to begin the article ‘s tasting notes with offerings that are at an age where most normal wines would be long dead (30 years). We would then travel back in time, via the older blends and vintage Madeira wines that I tasted on that trip, eventually working our way through all six of the island’s producers who currently export to the U.S.

Oh, yeah; and working our way through the 1950s, 1940s, 1920s… ending up at 1850. Without any hesitation or hyperbole, I can tell you that among those wines were some of the finest that I have ever tasted, of any style of fine wine, anywhere.

F*cking surreal (for more background on what makes Madeira special, beyond the near-constant influx of senior citizen tourists from much of Western Europe, see the previous post “The Worst Place in the World to Make Wine”). I’m pretty sure that I lost more than a few friends after posting envy-inducing images during my visit…

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I Find Your Lack Of Impromptu Opera Singing Disturbing (VINO2016 Highlights)

Last month, I was a media guest for VINO2016, the annual Italian multi-day info-tasting event held in New York City.

As it was last year, this year’s incarnation proved an enlightening experience, both in terms of the breadth of Italian wine offerings not yet widely available Stateside, and in the informative nature of the panel discussions. I can, however, tell you – with the requisite amount of false humility – that nothing in VINO2016 compared to the epic-ness of my panel last year, which included impromptu opera singing.

Vittorio Moretti

Vittorio Moretti, about to crack open some awesomeness (more on that in a few minutes)

But still, an informative event for both palate and brain. Also, how often does a guy like me get to shake down other attendees such as legendary wine educator Kevin Zraly for money (more on that development in the coming months)?

Anyway, let’s get to the vinous stars of the VINO2016 showcase…

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Lights, Camera, Non-Douchebaggery (Ehlers Estate Recent Releases)

Vinted on February 25, 2016 binned in crowd pleaser wines, kick-ass wines, wine review

“I was delayed, I was way-laid
An emergency stop
I smelt the last ten seconds of life…”

– The Smiths, “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before

Sometimes getting a late start can be a good thing.

At least, that’s the kind of thing that I like to tell myself when I finally get around to writing up a tasting almost five months after it happened.

Take Ehlers Estate winemaker Kevin Morrisey’s foray into Napa Valley viticulture as an example.

Originally from Media, PA, he began his winemaking career at the age of thirty-five, when he enrolled at UC Davis to study oenology. Prior to that, Morrisey was a junior Hollywood cameraman, slugging out a living behind the lens in Paris and Los Angeles.

Kevin Morrisey

Kevin Morrisey (image: ehlersestate.com)

When I met him for a tasting lunch in NYC late in 2015, he struck me as the kind of Napa Valley personality that isn’t attempting to hide any douchebaggery, simply because he doesn’t seem to have any douchebaggery to hide. That might come from his Media childhood, or the fact that he’s now making wine with “relative autonomy” (though Ehler’s owners, Leducq Foundation, does require them to “be profitable”), or that he’s still just tickled pink to work for a winery in the Valley that has a real backstory to it (Sacremento grocer Bernard Ehlers founded the winery in 1886, after paying for its 42 acres in gold coin).

“It’s nice in Napa to have a stone barn that’s actually, you know, real stone!” he told me.

And that, to me, kind of sums up the sense of genuine pride and confidence and non-douchey-moxie with which Morrisey presents himself; it’s a sense that also permeates the Ehlers wines that he has made since coming on board in 2009.

To wit…

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Yeah, I Am Gonna Eat That (Dispatch From Sicily With Zonin 1821’s Gastronomy Experience)

Vinted on January 28, 2016 binned in kick-ass wines, on the road, wine review

Sicily shore

Last year, I did a sort of double-dip on the Italian wine community. I traveled on a media tour to Asti in the north (to eat fried cow brain and other fantastically odd delicacies, while getting immersed in all things Ruchè). And, since I was in Italy anyway, I was taken on another media tour with Zonin 1821, wrapping around the southern coast of Sicily on a trip with other wine writers and sommeliers. Because, well, Italy.

The Sicily jaunt focused specifically on pairing the various wine brands under the Zonin umbrella with artisan fare from producers of some of the world’s most authentic ancient grain pasta; its historic chocolates; its mind-(and-adrenaline-)blowing coffee; its unparalleled seafoods; and its almost life-alteringly-good cheeses.

I’d thought about if/how/when I was going to write about this trip, but Zonin one-upped me and put together this amazing video of the trip, which I’m happy to report they’ve allowed me to share with you (in which you can see Lorenzo Zonin go for a swim, and me doing my best Family Guy impersonation)…

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