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The Most Interesting Wines Of 2013, Part Two

Vinted on December 19, 2013 binned in Most Interesting Wines of the Year, wine review

Aaaaaaaannnnd… here they are!

I give you the Top Ten Most Interesting Wines of 2013, as determined by my mouth, brain, and what amounts to my dark little tortured soul. For the preamble and the wines that made the newly-expanded 20 through 11 slots of this round-up, see The Most Interesting Wines of 2013, Part One.

I will add only this to the sentiments of that previous preamble: if you hate the fact that the budget picks were few and far between in the first half of this year’s MIW list, you are really gonna hate the top ten. Sorry, but this isn’t a budget buying guide, peeps; it’s a romp through the stories, emotions, joys and sorrows of 1WD throughout the past year, and a highlight of those wines that I think combine both context and quality in ways that made me remember them months and months after the finishes had left the caves of my olfactory cavities (obviously, their fascinating memory-nasal-cave-paintings remained… okay, whatever, that analogy is really odd). Some of these top ten selections are stupidly pricey; but they’re also ridiculously interesting wines, the kind of stuff that one geek urges another to try if they’re ever presented with the opportunity and inclination.

Oh, and a bit more fodder for ya… the top five are almost entirely expensive, white, or dessert wines (or all three)! You are free to flame me to your dark heart’s content.

Enjoy the long, strange trip…

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What We Drank To Escape The Unbearable Cuteness Of Five Year Old Girls

Vinted on December 5, 2013 binned in crowd pleaser wines, elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review

When I include “unbearable cuteness” in the title, I am talking about unbearable cuteness. The kind of cuteness that is adorable and crushing at the same time. The kind of cuteness that requires vintage rosé Champagne, Australia’s possibly-best-in-country Viognier (from Yalumba), and vino from one of California’s more off-the-radar Pinot Noir producers to escape it (to keep up with the cuteness, all of the wines featured today have “quoted” fancy names… it will all make sense in a few minutes, okay?).

To wit: two five year old BFF daughters of separate families who, living many miles from one another and attending different schools, without communicating to one another asked their respective parents at the same time and on the same day if they could wear matching leg warmers that they both received as gifts.

That is the kind of unbearable cuteness I am talking about. Yes, one of the five year olds “belongs” to me. Eventually, as parents of the BFFs you need a double-date night just to forget about the power of cuteness like that. Which is what we did, and I, being 1WD, naturally use the opportunity of the double-date night as an opportunity to raid the wine sample pool (and incur a possible dinner tax write-off… just sayin’…).

Oh, and before you ask, I do not have pictures of these two kids together wearing their leg warmers, which is just as well because it would make your face explode due to overdose of concentrated cuteness. It’s times like these that I sometimes wish I’d had a boy, but those moments are only millisecond-term fleeting. Mostly, having a young daughter is like having 90% of your life become adorable, and I love it. Yeah, I know the Universe will pay me back later in the form of lecherous boys coming to the door asking her out on dates… and No, I am not yet okay with that.

Anyway… I swear to god that there is some wine involved here, so let’s climb out of the cuteness and talk about what Mrs. Dudette and I popped open with our dinner guests during said double-date night…

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Hey, Nice Spicerack! (Punchdown’s Cool-Climate Syrah Goodness)

Vinted on November 21, 2013 binned in overachiever wines, wine review

“Joe, Enjoy!

- Cool-climate Syrah – touch of Viognier

- neutral oak – low alc

Best – Jonathan Pey”

It’s always nice to get something – anything – that isn’t formulaic when you open something up from the wine sample pool. So much juice comes into 1WD central sometimes, accompanied with letters that begin impersonally (not an auspicious start when you’re trying to stand out among a deluge) with “Dear wine writer,” “Editor,” or – directly from-letter-mail-merge-misfire-embarrassment hell – “Dear [blank].”

So… Jonathan Pey’s personalized note stood out when I yanked it out of the shipping box, along with a bottle of Pey’s 2011 Spicerack “Punchdown” Syrah. When I read the hand-written addition (reproduced – and pictured – above), I got a chuckle out of it. I mean, I try not to pigeon-hole myself in terms of stylistic preferences, but it’s true that I am often giving high ratings to extremely well-crafted, complex, age-worthy wines that I personally wouldn’t want to drink (my personal drinking preferences, in my view, should have little to do with the “grade” a wine might get, given that your preferences might be different). I quite happily drink a crap-ton of “B+” wines, ecstatic that I’ve received them for free (and probably more ecstatic than the producers receiving less than an “A”), and happy there’s enough juice left over in that bottle to share with Mrs. Dudette during dinner after I’m done reviewing it.

But it got me thinking… am I that easily transparent, even after all of my careful work (careful by my lazy standards, anyway)? I mean, I smiled at Pey’s note, but I also wanted to crumple it up and toss it in the fireplace, because it seemed so… smug… as if he was thinking “I’ll bet this guy is like those hipster East Coast Somms, all up into under-ripe 13% abv wines that smell like bush stems and taste of battery acid!”

Turns out I am that transparent, after all, but Pey’s not that smug, and his small production wine (15 barrels) tastes nothing like tea made from green vine stems…

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Finally, Someone Here Who Speaks English (Luigi Bosca And The Changing Tastes Of The World’s Wine Consumers)

By now, many of you reading this will have come across a handful of articles on the Global Interwebs proffering the idea that the current style of high-scoring, high-end fine wines (prominently oaky, complex, high on the alcohol and low on the acidity) will always reign supreme in fine wine sales, and that it’s only a matter of time before Millennial consumers “grow up” and stop buying higher acid, inexpensive imports and trade up to the “real” stuff.

Many of these arguments are well-written and intelligently presented. But to me, they don’t read like the Queen’s English; they look more like this: “Blah blah, blah-blah-blah, BLAH-BLAH!!!”

Some of the crystal ball gazing has been done by those with a vested interest in prolonging the reign of the current style of high-scoring, high-end fine wines, but I don’t really have any issue with that potential conflict of interest. Also, I’m willing to ignore the fact that one of the key pillars of their arguments – that an entire generation will “grow up” to fundamentally change how they interact with brands – has no previous viable example in the entire history of luxury goods consumption on planet Earth.

The real nail in the coffin of these arguments is that no data are ever offered in support of them.

Meanwhile, we have examples of exactly the opposite happening; younger consumers buying fresher, higher acid wines, because that’s what they can afford and therefore it’s the style on which they’re cutting their wine loving teeth, informing their future purchases and tastes from this point onward.

What examples, you ask? How about roughly eight million bottles, is that a good enough example for you?

8 million is the annual bottle production of Mednoza’s Luigi Bosca, a producer I visited during my stint earlier this year judging the 2013 Argentina Wine Awards. The results of that visit – aside from yielding a handful of tasty recommendations for you (more on those in a few minutes) – underscored nearly every aspect of the speeches I and my fellow judges gave to the Argentine winemaking community during the AWAs, and yielded one of the most telling illustrations of the changing tastes of younger wine consumers I’ve yet encountered…

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