Posts Filed Under wine review
I know this end-of-week segment has tentatively been reserved for wines of the week, but so far I’ve featured wines not actually reviewed during the week in question, and in this case I’m giving a badge to just one wine and not multiple wines… so let’s just agree that some re-branding might be in order, ok?
The thing is, I keep encountering cool and interesting wine shiz that I want to share, like last week’s T.A.S.T.E. mini-bottle craze and the wines of Paul Dolan, so let’s also just agree that we’ve started an anti-segment and get on with it, ok? Ok! Excellent!
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk Arizona. As in, Yes, Arizona is making wine, just like the rest of the states in the U.S.
Of course, when you tell someone that you just tasted some (samples of) AZ wine, and just watched a (review copy) of the film Blood Into Wine (which chronicles in vastly-entertaining-but-sometimes-too-advertisement-like-fashion the work of rocker Maynard James Keenan and winemaker Eric Glomski to put AZ on the fine wine map), invariably this is the response that you will get:
“Maynard Keenan? Isn’t that the dude from Tool and Puscifer? Arizona makes wine? WTF?”
At least, that’s been my experience.
Based on the similar befuddled reactions of my friends, I can only imagine what the AZ wine industry has to endure every day when asked about their efforts to bring fine wine recognition to the state. My guess is that Napa makes fun of them, all isn’t-that-cute-little-brother style, like the way that we treat Canada most of the time. As my friend Alder Yarrow said during his cameo in Blood Into Wine (paraphrased): I taste a sh*tload of wines every year “and 99.9% of them are not from Arizona.”
Based on what Glomski and Keenan are doing, however, I am wondering if that situation may change in the not-too-distant future…
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Ok, technically they were wines from last week. So sue me.
[Editor’s note: please do NOT actually sue me.]
Last week, I had another run-in with those tiny T.A.S.T.E. 50ml bottles, taking part in an on-line UStream live tasting with winemaker Paul Dolan, going through the majority of his portfolio. Paul has the advantage of exuding a calm and commanding presence even over a tiny video window (I credit his kick-ass mustache), and he also happens to make some compelling wines.
Those wines happen to be made from biodynamic grapes, which is a veritable conversation powder-keg when thrown into any gathering of two or more wine lovers these days. And we all know what I think about BioD, which is that I don’t know what to think about it yet.
I’ll admit, whenever Paul got to talking about BioD during the tasting, I found myself wondering if I should go looking for some weed and a bong to put my mind in the proper perspective, you know, to really understand what he was on about, man!
The BioD conversation did yield this fantastic tweet during our tasting, though:
[email protected]: Some call it voodoo, we like to call Biodynamics Moo-Do.”
That is just sooooo good…
Anyway, while I found the whites a bit to rough-around-the-edges, the reds from Paul Dolan for the most part were very, very good, and in at lest one case offered what I felt was a downright amazing bargain…
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Last week, I had the pleasure of “attending” a tasting meeting with a handful of Chilean winemakers. “Attending” meaning I followed along via video while tasting a handful of samples (all red blends) made by that handful of talented winemakers – me and a handful of other wine bloggers, at the invitation of Wines of Chile for their fourth Blogger Tasting / Q&A to promote wines from the region – roughly a year after the last such event that I was able to attend with the Wines of Chile crowd.
The wines, though quite good, were not really the highlight of the evening; nor was being able to see, and (sort of) chat with, the Chilean winemakers via video during the event. The highlight, for me, was that during the tasting the last of the 33 trapped Chilean miners was rescued. That news brought cheers and high-fives from the winemakers, but their actions belied something much bigger and more emotional. It was a bit strange and wonderful to be connected (even if virtually) to the country of Chile while that long-awaited moment was taking place – the country of Chile is wearing badges of honor, relief, and well-deserved pride after the rescue, and it was great and touching to have had some (even minor) direct exposure to that.
Not that the wines were totally out-shadowed by the news – the Wines of Chile selections, for the most part, showed a continuing upward trend in the level of winemaking artistry of which Chile is capable. Chile still has its red wine detractors, and I for one seemed to be in the minority of those who found the level of pyrazines (nettle and green bell pepper aromas) still more distracting than appealing.
But… where Chile is getting the balance right, they’re getting it soooo right. There were three standouts from the tasting for me that I wanted to highlight, two of which can be had for prices that make them real bargains:
08 Hacienda Araucano Clos de Lolol (Colchagua Valley): 140 chars don’t really do this elegant & refined red blend beauty due justice. $23 B+ –>
Araucano’s head winemaker Luca Hodgkinson was a hit with the lady bloggers during the tasting, but it was his wine that was a hit with me and from a personal-preference standpoint was my fave of the night. Luca cut his winemaking teeth in Bordeaux, Toulouse, and the Rhone, and the French influence is remarkably clear in the wine (a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carmenere), which goes for elegant subtlety (and achieves it, despite a 14.2% abv). Tomato leaf, supple blackberry fruit, and a hand-in-hand balance of black and white pepper that might as well have been singing “Ebony & Ivory.”
07 Casas del Bosque Gran Estate Private Reserve (Casablanca Valley): If the nose were more complex it’d be a quantum physics equation $50 A- ->
The most expensive wine of the tasting (another Syrah-based blend, with Merlot and Pinot Noir – yes, really, Pinot as a blending grape) was also the most complex and best-constructed. While it was a bigger wine than I prefer, the nose alone was enough for me to consider it Kick-Ass material: dark chocolate, herbs, pepper, smoke, cedar, toast… you could write a dissertation on the complexity of this wine. The mouthfeel was silky-smooth and if this wine could actually speak it might well have said “me honran, porque yo soy impecablemente hecho.”
08 Montes Ltd Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere (Colchagua Valley): At this $ it’s like hitting a tobacco & black fruit lottery. $15 B –>
The lowest-priced wine of the night was easily the biggest bargain for those who like their Cabs to be like Shaft – bad-ass, serious and black (there’s a 30% smattering of Carmenere in here, too to keep things interesting). Black fruits abound, but there dense rather than in-your-face, followed by leather, tobacco and oak. If not a “big” wine, it’s certainly a “big-ish” wine and certainly could fool many a blind taster into thinking it was more expensive.
Full list of wines and reviews after the jump…
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I don’t know bumpkis about baseball.
Never have. I prefer sports where guys hit each other at high-velocity (football, hockey), or where the mere act of finishing a game is near-miracle of aerobic survival skills (soccer). As for all of the numbers that flash up on the screen when someone comes to bat? I don’t call that fun with stats, I call that torture; forget beating or water-boarding, you wanna get details on terrorist attacks from a suspect, submit them to an endless series of baseball games… that ought to get them talking in a hurry.
But Phillies fever is (rightfully and deservedly) sweeping the local populace out my way, and I do appreciate how hard it is to hit a baseball thrown in the major leagues – it might be the most difficult thing to do in all of professional sports. So I know the value of a homerun – and “home run” is an apt descriptor for the results of the recent Frederick Wildman twitter tasting event with Burgundy producer Olivier Leflaive.
I have such a troubled history with Burgundy; in my opinion, there is no more inconsistent a wine experience on offer for so much money as there is in the vinous produce from rolling hills of the Burg’. At this point, I think I’d have better luck in playing craps than in buying Burgundy wines, and to this day it is just about the only wine region that I won’t touch with my own money without a close friend experienced in Burgundy wines at my side in the wine shop (fortunately, I know a lot of experienced wine people).
And yet, there exist producers like Olivier Leflaive that can steer you so right so often – for a (sometimes steep) price, of course. But if you have the cash, you’re in for a treat when it comes to Leflaive, particularly the 2008s…
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