Posts Filed Under wine review
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)
Sorry – couldn’t resist. I mean, just look at those cute, furry-cuddly, viciously-fanged mammals over there!
I mean “other badges” of wine reviews, of course – in my case, I’m the late-comer to the wine badge review par-tay masterminded by Vintank; that is, late-comer in terms of getting my badges ready for prime-time (I was part of the “wine badgers” group from the conceptual phase).
What the hell are wine badges? Essentially, they are intended to be a visual way to help you identify a wine that I think has something “special” going on, beyond the quality ‘grade’ and mini-review that I might give to a wine when reviewing it. Here’s the overview from Vintank brainiac Paul Mabray:
“As with everything the digital arena is transforming everything we used to know about wine. I am fortunate to watch a group of talented bloggers bucking tradition and judge wine on new merits by creating a whole new movement for scoring wine. It seems like a small thing, create a category for a wine that you believe in and assign a badge to it, explain the criteria openly and transparently, and only give those wines that you appreciate fit that category a badge. Simple, elegant, but more importantly a TRUE representation of the quality you admire in the categories you create. A wine fits or it doesn’t. A wine earns an accolade or it doesn’t.”
It might help to think of the badges as a cross between a score and a medal, but with more awesome. The cool thing is that the badges are already in use by Mark deVere, Ward Kadel and Steve Paulo. The badges aren’t yet standardized, which I personally think might come back to bite us in the tushie somehow, but in terms of distribution these puppies are primed for success. HelloVino, Cruvee.com, and Yourwineyourway.com are already signed-on and using the badges, which thanks to their distro. system are automatically being included in content like winery Facebook pages. We often talk about on-line technology having the potential to change things in terms of the wine world – this is an example where the potential is starting to actually be realized.
Some great discussion on the badges available so far has popped up over at Vinotology and at DrinkNectar.com, and I left a comment in the DN thread that sums up my view and vision behind the badges, so I’m reprinting it here:
“If I give a wine an A- or a B+, does that tell you much aside from my view of its quality? Not really. If I categorize a wine as ‘Elegant’ or ‘Sexy’ does that tell you much? It does – it tells you which wine to try if you want to impress someone, or in the latter case if you want to get lucky on a hot date. So, by giving a badge to wines that meet some kind of minimum standard, I’m hopefully telling people a bit more about that wine without them having to read the entire post or review or whatever (unless they are curious and want to do that). I see no conflict between the badges and scores of any kind. I see them primarily as complimentary.”
The main criterion for a wine receiving a 1WD badge is that I give it a “grade” in the B or A range; after that, if I think that they meet the criteria for a particular badge then tat wine will be “awarded” one.
So at this point you’re probably thinking “enough already, what the f—k do these badges look like?!??”
Well, my friend, read on for the badges and their explanations…
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Has the case for excellent Walla Walla Syrah been definitively demonstrated? Q.E.D.?
I’m not going to go quite that far. But I will say that they might be pretty damn close, especially in those cases where the balance beats out the brawn in their Syrah bottlings.
Two wine producers that I encountered recently in Walla Walla (while there for the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference) in particular made good cases (ha-ha!) for Walla Walla Syrah being the wave of the future; one which officially took part in the WBC activities, and one that didn’t (in fact, their winemaker skipped town during the event).
The first of these was Rasa Vineyards, led by the Naravane brothers who have engineering backgrounds, and are fascinating folks to talk to, provided you can follow their scientific leanings. They were part of a panel about WA wine at Three Rivers Winery (part of the WBC events), and certainly talked up the potential of Walla Walla Syrah when I asked the panel what they thought the future held given that Walla Walla is still a relatively young wine producing region.
The proof, fortunately, was in the juice, and their appropriately-titled 2007 QED wine, sourced from Walla Walla and Yakima fruit, is powerful, expressive, but balanced; it’s also expensive at $50 – but overall a decent value when compared to more expensive but not-quite-as-solid Syrah-based wines being made elsewhere on the Left Coast.
The second was pretty much the entire portfolio of wines from Rotie Cellars, who were kind enough to host a handful of us bloggers in their downtown Walla Walla tasting room while lunch activities took place during day one of the WBC. Winemaker Sean Boyd is certainly playing with fire with their wine names (“VdP” for example), which I am sure the French would be none-too-happy about, but he has some Syrah-based wines with significant promise; they might have been some of the most deftly balanced WA reds that I’ve ever tasted.
But with all of this focus on the future going on, the WA wine scene, I quickly learned, would do well not to forget its past…
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“I almost named the wine Serendipity because I discovered the technique which produces this wine by pure accident.”
This is a story that I’ve been chomping at the bit to tell for months. It’s the kind of story that makes you excited about the influx of talented, young winemakers in the Napa Valley, who are shaking things up with an attitude and passion that probably hasn’t been seen in the Valley since John Trefethen accidentally exploded a trash can full of fermenting juice in his basement in the `70s.
The quote that kicks off today’s article comes from Modus Operandi Cellars owner and winemaker Jason Moore. And he is either a bit of a genius, a bit ingenious, or certifiably nuts (or some combination of the three), depending on whether or not you come from the traditional U.C. Davis school of California winemaking. The story of the wine – called Antithesis – is the kind of stuff that is a bit stranger than fiction – in other words, you can’t make this kind of stuff up if you tried – which is why I’m excited to tell it. Or, I should say, I’m excited to have Jason tell it, which he did via a recent e-mail exchange. In that way, this article is part wine review, and part interview:
“In 2006 I had a little problem with one of my fermentations… the yeast stopped fermenting which left me with about two brix of sugar to ferment. I knew that the winemakers usual response to this issue is to prepare a new yeast build up and re-inoculate. I also knew that this is horrible for ultimate wine quality so I reeeeeally don’t like to do it… only as a last resort. So, I learned a trick from Phillippe Melka which has the ability to solve the fermentation problem while still retaining as much wine quality as possible.”
Before we talk about how Jason (quite creatively) overcame this little conundrum, I need to tell you a bit about the wine itself, which I first tried back in February during a get-together at Vintank HQ in downtown Napa. Jason was pouring the `07 Antithesis (among some of his other M.O. wines). I was struck by the quality and depth of the wine; I knew that it stood out as special, but couldn’t quite put my finger on why – that didn’t become totally clear until Jason described the strange history of the wine, which, as you will soon discover, is sort of like a twisted CA version of Valpolicella Ripasso.
Jason kindly agreed to send me a sample for review so that I could taste the wine under more controlled circumstances. And I enjoyed it just as much the second time around…
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