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Wine Review | 1 Wine Dude - Page 58

Posts Filed Under wine review

Truly Truly Truly (A German Wine Experience, Not Having Anything to do with Space Aliens)

Vinted on October 1, 2008 binned in german wine, wine review

Sometimes (okay, lots of times) I can get truly stumped by the world of fine wine. And today, file me under the Truly Stumped category, because I can’t figure out some of what I’m going to tell you about.

Now, before I do that, I should state up front that I’m not really one to comment on a business model. But I do know a good wine when I taste it, so I’m hoping that will carry this post through the bits that I simply cannot explain.

And before you ask: No, I did not have wine with aliens from outer space on a UFO hovering above the city of Kelsterbach, or anything freaky like that. At least, not lately.

Aw, man, totally lost my train of thought there…

Are you still here? Sorry – I swear this will start to make sense in a paragraph or two…


Anyway, what I did do was enjoy a media sample of some fantastic German wines sent to me by the knowledgeable folks at TrulyFineWine.com, which eventually this post will be about, I promise.

What I do understand is how good these wines are, despite many of them being “only” in the second class of Germany’s quality wine category. The wines that TFW have picked are big-time over-achievers, delivering some tasty greatness that rivals the higher German quality categories, but often at lower prices.

What I don’t get is why a company that hand selects about 70 wines that it imports from 9 outstanding German producers calls itself Truly Fine Wine, or why it’s located in California instead of the east coast. Like I said, I’m not here to talk about business models.

How were the wines? In a word, fantastic.

The guys at TFW convinced me that they seriously know their stuff. The Sekt (German sparklers made in the traditional Champagne method) that they sent to me was one of the best sparkling wines I’ve ever had in that price category. Their portfolio runs the gamut from By-the-Glass pours to limited-availability Charta and “signature” selections.

To the mini-reviews:

99 Gutzler Vintage Riesling Sekt Extra Brut (Rheinhessen): Stellar trad. method bubbly with peach, apricot, & non-stop creamy yeastiness.

07 Hans Lang Sabrina’s Riesling Semi-Dry (Rheingau): German all the way. Stone, lemons, & honeydew melons. Crowd-pleasing price as well.

05 Barth Estate Charta Riesling (Rheingau): A walk thru a flower garden eating a peach, w/ honey-lemon candy for dessert

05 Hans Lang “Johann Maximilian” Riesling Trocken (Rheingau): Kabam! A world of flowers, apricot, & lime atop of a total Atlas of alcohol.

Of course, many of us here in the U.S. find the German wine landscape to be less than user-friendly. To help you out, TFW has a nice little treatise on the basics of German wine. Many of the selections available from TFW also have simplified labels, which will no doubt assist the budding German wine enthusiast in you to make your selections more easily.

TFW is also starting to get into the “wine conversation” online with a German wine blog, and are part of the Open Wine Consortium, so go friend them up!

Unless you’re a space alien. Because that might freak me out.

Cheers!
(images: 1WineDude.com, ggpht.com)

Portable and Somewhat Potable (Reviewing Volute’s New Single Serving Wines)

Vinted on September 25, 2008 binned in wine review

It’s not often that one receives three small (187 ml) aluminum shatterproof bottles of French wine in the mail. Even for someone who is used to getting media samples of wine, this was a first.

So when a package arrived for me from Volute Wine, containing three bottles of their new “single-serve premium wine” from the Bordeaux AOC in France… well, there was no way wasn’t going to review them…

What’s in a name? In the case of Volute, I’m not sure. Volute either means curl, spiral, or mollusk, depending on where you look. Anyway, Volute’s wines have sleek brushed aluminum packaging, which might score them points with the ‘green is great’ crowd (for the high recyclable factor).

The idea behind Volute, from what I garnered from their press release, is to provide a convenient, portable single-serving packaging of French wine, targeting a relatively young, active wine consumer.

And there’s no doubt that Volute nailed the portability factor. You’d need to stand on one of these bottles to crush it, and even then the wine inside might remain intact and unscathed. The brushed aluminum also looks attractive, and there’s little chance of inadvertently mistaking Volute for a bottle of beer. Volute is offered in three ‘flavors': White (85% Sauvignon Blanc + 15% Semillon), Rose (85% Cabernet Sauvignon + 15% Merlot) and Red (85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Sauvignon).

So how do the wines taste?…

Okay.

As in, they were drinkable, and didn’t suck, but certainly nothing to write home about.

I found the Volute White offered some stone and apricot, but the fruit flavors were muted and the mouthfeel was flabby. The Rose had the most promise, with good strawberry on the nose, and red fruit dominating the palate, but it tasted out of balance, lacking a cohesive overall structure. As for the Red, it was my least favorite – some plum on the nose, but muted cherries on the palate, and not enough fruit to carry it through even to the modest finish.

Considering the modest flavor profiles of the wines, but the high green and portability factor of Volute’s packaging, I thought I might offer up a potential alternative for those seeking the green and portable cache factor of Volute, but are looking for something tastier:

At $4 a pop, you’d need to shell out $16 to get enough servings of Volute for a full wine bottle. There are plenty of tasty wines out there that go for $16 or less per full bottle. If you’re concerned about maximizing your environmental friendliness while traveling with a single-serving amounts of your budget vino, you can always pick up a reusable aluminum bottle (such as the ones offered by Sigg).

Open Sigg bottle, pour in wine, travel, and enjoy…

Cheers!
(images: volutewine.com, sigg.com)

Dude, Where Are The Ratings?

Vinted on September 16, 2008 binned in about 1winedude blog, commentary, wine review

Simple – there aren’t any.

Next question.

Ok, well maybe it’s not that simple, actually.

Astute 1WineDude.com readers have pointed out that I have yet to clearly explain my wine rating system; or, more accurately, my lack of a wine rating system. So… I will try to explain it but bear with me, because while I love wine and I love talking about wine, I really hate talking about talking-about wine.

If 1WineDude.com had a Mission Statement or Credo (it doesn’t, by the way), it might look something like this:
a) Drink Wine. b) Have Fun. c) Learn Something.

Generally speaking, I don’t review wines in my blog posts, unless reviewing a wine gives me an opportunity to also have fun and pass on some interesting wine learning along the way…


When I do review a wine, I try to be as objective as possible, but generally I don’t taste wines blind (unless that somehow can also provide an opportunity for b) and c) above). Why not? Well, when’s the last time that you tasted a wine blind? People just don’t do that at the dinner table, unless they haven’t been paying their electricity bills.

When I read about a wine, I usually want to know the answers to a few key questions: a) How does it taste? b) Are the aromas / flavors things that I like? c) Is it worth the price?

That’s it. You don’t need a rating for that. If I wanted to be inundated with numbers, and read boring lifestyle pieces from snarky old billionaires that have too much money and free time, who want to regale themselves with their stories of how they travel every year to Old World wine countries with the Duchy of Snob-a-tonia, and won’t touch a wine that isn’t rated 95 “points” or higher, blah-blah-blah… well, there’s already a magazine for that kind of stuff.

What I don’t want to see are a bunch of numbers. A number tells me nothing about whether or not I’ll like a wine and if it offers good value for money – which for me is the majority of the equation, so to speak.

Also, I don’t know anyone who “speaks” in points. I’ve never, ever said to someone at dinner “ooohhh, this wine is soooo a 94!” And I doubt that I ever will. Unless I think it’s funny at the time and I’m at dinner with one of the guys from Wine Enthusiast…

I’m wagering that since you’re here on this blog, you’re thinking somewhat along the same lines when it comes to wine ratings. Since we’ve established then that none of us like wine rating numbers, I’ve instead included in this post some graphics of George W. Bush’s Presidential approval ratings ratings (they’re going down, by the way). Enjoy!

Now for some odd reason, I seem to ruffle feathers with the established wine critic community whenever I talk about this rating stuff on my blog. Oh well! To those whom I hath offended, I say: “Hey, thanks for reading!”

Please note that I am NOT bashing wine rating scores in general here. I just don’t happen to like them so I’m not using them. I am, however, totally poking fun at the Bush Administration.

Hope this clears up my stance on the conspicuous lack of wine ratings here at Dude central. I look forward to not rating many more wines for you in the future!

Cheers!
(images: gallup.com, wikimedia.org)

Twisted Wine for Twisted Times

Vinted on September 10, 2008 binned in wine review

Sit back, relax, and prepare for the unfolding of a twisted, Twisted Tale…

It was a dark and stormy night.

Actually, no, it wasn’t – it was one of those brilliant summer evenings when breeze is just strong and cool enough that it feels like a waft of heaven when you open up all the windows in the house. But that sounds a really lame start to a twisted tale… ah, forget it…

Anyway, I was recently contacted by Jeff Stai, head honcho of Twisted Oak winery in Calaveras County, CA, to see if I’d be interested in sampling their new limited-availability red, River of Skulls.

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? River of Skulls. Especially when it’s in italics.

RIVER OF SKULLS!!! Mwah-hah-hah-HAH-HAAAAH!!!!!

Jeff is an eminently likable and very funny fellow, with a fondness for blogging and rubber chickens (you can follow Jeff at twitter to see what I mean). So, I was game to check out his wine.

Jeff did insist on one hideously vile and twisted condition, though: In exchange for receiving his new wine, I must henceforth from this day onward follow Satan!!!…


Now, at first I thought this would be difficult, seeing as how I don’t actually believe in Satan and all. But then I found this guy over at twitter, clicked the “Follow” button and – viola! – problem solved!

Actually, that’s not what happened. Jeff sent the wine with no strings attached. I know, kinda lame, right?

Anyway, the wine’s namesake is a bit twisted. From the bottle:

In 1805, Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga was ordered by the Spanish Governor of California to explore the Great Central Valley. displace the local Natives, and re-name everything he found. Well, one day Gabe and his horsemen came across a river the banks of which were littered with skulls. No one knows for sure how the skulls came to be on the banks of this river. Perhaps they were the remains of an ancient battle, or a terrible plague. Or perhaps it was a really great party that suddenly went horribly wrong.Whatever the case old Gabe, being a true master of the obvious, named this river “El Rio De Las Calaveras” or in English, “The River of Skulls.”

Freak-a-zoid!

Now, before we get into the River of Skulls (dum-DUM!) bottle, I need to give you some twisted background on the primary varietal in this sucker…

River of Skulls is 90% Mourvedre, a grape of Spanish origin (where it’s called monastrell or mataro, depending upon location), where it’s widely planted. It’s also found in Provence, the Southern Rhone, and with limited (spotty) success in California. Mourvedre ripens slowly, and it likes heat & wind (which help it against rotting). Its wines are not shy and tend to be used for blending because of their tannic, alcoholic spiciness.

Interestingly, Mourvedre is a true survivor. It was practically wiped out by the phylloxera epidemic in the late 1800s, and it wasn’t until after World War II that suitable rootstock was found on which Mourvedre could thrive without succumbing to the nasty little aphid.

Speaking of twisted tales, if you have time check out the life cycle of phylloxera – any species that produces a male with no mouth or digestive system is just, well, totally twisted!

Anyway, back to the wine: Twisted Oak provides a great deal of information about River of SKULLS (dum-DUM!) in the wine’s production notes (worth checking out if you’re feeling particuarly geeky). Interestingly (lots of interesting things going on in this twisted tale…), about 1/4 of the grapes were fermented uncrushed, in order to bring out more cherry fruit characteristics in the finished wine.

It worked. Here’s what I found – dried cherries galore, vanilla oakiness, and tobacco leaf spiciness. The palate was full of even more smokiness and spice – and booze. Nothing shy about the booze in this sucker, but I’m Ok with that because I expect it from this grape. It’s when I get 14.9% white wines and Bordeaux style red blends from CA that I start to get all, well, twisted inside. On the second day of tasting, I got more raspberry and blueberry than on Day 1 – still going strong. River of Skulls is a wine that’s worth the $28 price tag, especially if you’ve got some smoked or peppered meat to serve with it. Boo-yeah!

Well, there you have it. A wine tale that was quite twisted, though not in the ways we might have originally expected. For more twistedness, check out Twisted Oak winery’s blog.

And be on the look out for Jeff, and for that Satan character…

Cheers!
(images: twistedoak.com, avenuevine.com, southparkstudios.com)

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