Posts Filed Under 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.
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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):
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.
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.”
This Summer has been a season of meteorological discontent in the greater Delaware Valley. The (multiple) successive (and repressive) heatwaves might actually make the local wines interesting to taste once they’re finally bottled, but it hasn’t exactly jived with the tastes of the rest of us.
In other words, it’s been too f-ing hot and miserable around here lately!
So, I for one will be very, very happy to see Summer hightail its sorry ass out of here. To celebrate this Summer’s pending death, and of course the rise of Autumn (and therefore also the hallmark of Steelers football), I recently raided the sample storage and pulled out a bunch of Rosé, because it reminds me of blood and when it comes to this Summer, I’m definitely out for its blood. The outcome of all of the vinous bloodshed is an overview of Rosé production (and a few reasonably-priced picks) that I penned last week over at Table Matters.
The good news is that the current state of international Rosé remains interesting, vibrant, fun, and for the most part affordable. If you’re a Rosé fan, it’s a good time to be alive; if you’re not yet a Rosé fan, it’s a good time to get your act together and try some because very, very good and varied examples are being made all over the world right now.
My reviews from the Rosé sample raid are below after the jump – along with a couple of badges for two standouts among the mix…
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In my ongoing effort to, uhm, branch out in the wine world (read: get paid), I’ve got myself involved in a couple more ‘extra-blogger’ activities that I thought I’d share. They are geared more towards beginner (I know, I hate that term too, but I can’t manage a better one) wine enthusiasts and so I didn’t feel that they were a fit for 1WineDude.com, but some readers might find them interesting (or doubtless you will know someone who might – which might buy you a day or two of respite from those folks asking you for wine advice!).
First, I’ve contributed some wine recommendations to the Fall 2010 issue of Publix® Grape Magazine. My contribution was made so many months ago that I don’t in fact remember what I wrote for them… and I don’t live in a state that has a Publix… so any of you in the Southeast U.S. who can refresh my memory, please feel free to help me out… Anyway, if you live in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, or Alabama you can subscribe to receive the magazine for free. Because, you know, free is a good price.
Second, you’ll start to see my reviews pop up on another iPhone app (also coming soon to Droid and Blackberry), Pocket Wine Assistant, in their new version. Because, you know, one can never have too much 1WD in one’s pocket, right? That, and I’m fond of over-extending myself. Anyway, more to come on that when he new version is released.
Third, I’m contributing (ongoing, this time) to a very cool on-line Philadelphia food & drink publication called Table Matters. I’ll be penning articles in the awesomely-named Planet of the Grapes section (“It’s a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!!!”), the first of which appeared last week. Table Matters is a Philly-focused publication, so I’ll be covering wines available in the Philly/PA market. Because, you know, I enjoy a challenge.
Your thoughts, as always, are welcome – including story ideas for the Table Matters column (just don’t expect a cut of my fees…).
(images: publix.com, tablematters.com, pocketwineassistant.com)