Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For November 9, 2015

Vinted on November 9, 2015 binned in wine mini-reviews

So, like, what is this stuff, anyway?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 14 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley): Conveniently, it's bringing the tropics to you for the chillier months. $16 B >>find this wine<<
  • 12 MIrror Oak Knoll Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Yes, it's a total show-off. Yes, it also has the stuffing to back it all up. $95 A >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Mirror Cimarossa Vineyard Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): The mountain painted when in lush, spicy, full bloom. $95 A- >>find this wine<<
  • NV La Gioiosa Etamorosa Brut Prosecco (Treviso): It's a Chill or be Chilled kind of world, so chill this one well, be well, & chill. $10 B- >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Domaine de Mourchon Seguret Grande Reserve (Cotes du Rhone Villages): Bargain priced overachiever for iron-lovin' hedonists. $28 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Weingut Dr. Heger Ihringer Winklerberg Grauburgunder (Baden): Lips will be smacked, thirsts quenched, & probably a bottle emptied. $35 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Arabella Pink Panacea (Robertson): Managing to make Cab Sauv rose both pithy *and* fun garners them some serious bonus points. $NA B >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Vinakoper Malvazija (Slovenia): Flower Power, dancing an energetic jig with Tropical Fruit Power, & surprise guest Almond Power. $NA B >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Vina Belje 'Kvalitetno' Grasevina (Croatia): Apples, herbs, & wet stones; sounds like a picnic clarion call to me, how about you? $12 B >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Lopez Mercier Cal Y Canto Verdejo Dry White (Castilla): Life's a peach; it's also a bowl of nuts; & a lot of fun when drinking this $9 B- >>find this wine<<
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By The Books, Buy The Books (November 2015 Wine Product Roundup)

Vinted on November 5, 2015 binned in wine books, wine products

When it comes to wine books, there’s a lot of printed material available that make excellent cases for protecting the world’s forest land and leaving it untouched for our children’s children’s children.

I know this because I receive those books as review copies for consideration with nearly as much frequency as I receive wine samples for consideration.

There are, of course, those wine tomes that transcend the superfluousness of their wanna-be peers, two of which I was lucky enough to receive as updated editions of products that I already though highly enough about to have purchased them on my own. With actual money and everything!

And so, those two re-releases are the focus of this month’s wine product roundup. They are works that, I think, are indispensable resources (the first for budding wine enthusiasts, and the second for anyone – consumer or pro – who loves the world of vino):

Wine Bible

Chapter & verse

The Wine Bible, 2nd Edition (Karen MacNeil, Workman Publishing, about $30)

MacNeil’s Wine Bible holds a sentimental place in my heart, which will probably come as a shocker to anyone who has seen Karen and I interact together publicly (a sight that is almost always a strange mixture of civility and awkwardness, as I am pretty sure that she has absolutely no idea what to make of me… and I can’t say that I blame her). As I told Karen a few years ago, I used the first edition of her book as a welcome escape during the frigidly cold couple of weeks I spent in Toronto while my younger brother was having life-saving heart surgery performed there. I’ve heard many criticisms of The Wine Bible over the years, none of which I felt held much water aside from the fact that the details in it were becoming outdated, a situation now rectified in the excellent 2nd edition.

My wine career arc has more or less followed the publication history of this book, from newly-intoxicated wine consumer at its first printing, to a guy who can nitpick the shorter entries on emerging regions and play with some authority the “agree/disagree” game with some of the hand-selected wine picks in the second edition.

Thankfully, MacNeil has changed little of the two elements that really make The Wine Bible work. The first is the country-by-country format, which is ridiculously intuitive and works as one of the best wine-focused primers for which any wine newbie could ask. The second is Karen’s populist-style writing, which clearly demonstrates that she was and still is ridiculously excited about her subject; MacNeil encourages the joy behind wine exploration, which is one of the most important resources we can provide to any new wine lover.

Oxford Companion

Witness the awesomeness (image: oxfordcompaniontowine.com)

The Oxford Companion to Wine, 4th Edtion (Oxford, Edited by Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding, about $50)

With almost 200 contributors, the Oxford Companion has received a rather serious and significant once-over. As insanely authoritative and useful as this new edition is, it’s a testament to how well-executed this (altogether too heavy) reference book has been over the years that the previous edition was still my go-to wine reference book, hardly showing its age.

Sure, you can find most of the info. in the Oxford online, but what you won’t get is the killer one-two combo of attention to detail and nearly flawless prose that makes the reference such a gem (for a great example, look up the term “wine writing” therein, and try not to chuckle and its poignant accuracy and subversive cheekiness). The usefulness and depth of the information presented is without parallel (an example: after two years of working with the FurmintUSA project, there’s little background information about the grape that I don’t know at this point… two pieces of which I read in the Furmint entry in the Oxford!).

Jancis will no doubt hear the shrill sound of freshly-clipped nails grating the chalkboard when I write this, but I found a few minor typos (sorry!). Minor enough, however, that they won’t stop me from saying that if you’re involved in wine in any capacity and don’t have this book, you’re probably an idiot.

Cheers!

winonslots | chessrivals | Solitaire Champ

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Mama Don’t Take No Mess (Livermore Valley, Reconsidered at Palate Press)

Vinted on November 3, 2015 binned in California wine, going pro, on the road
Palate Press - Livermore

image: Palate Press

Steve Mirassou

Steve Mirassou, pretending to take a photo (or, sharing his opinions on the state of Livermore Valley juice)

One of my media tours this year had me returning to California’s perennially underrated Livermore Valley, where I’d not been for a few years, and reconnecting with the likes of local vintners Karl Wente and Steve Mirassou, neither of whom I’d seen (or, more importantly, tasted with) lately.

The tour was very well executed, with comprehensive tastings dedicated mostly to varietal wines from Cabernet, Petite Sirah, and Chardonnay. Generally, I remain impressed with the combination of gumption, quality, history, and irony coming out of the region.

It’s the latter two aspects that really got my pseudo-journalistic juices flowing, and they’re the focus of a feature I penned about the trip (titled The Mother Vine: Livermore Reconsidered) that’s now available over at Palate Press. Both words and pics are by me, so you can come back here and flame me if you hate either. Lots of vino was tasted that didn’t make it into the final article, much of which I’ll be trickling out in the form of mini-reviews in the coming weeks.

So… this is the part where you go on over there and read it.

Livermore Chardonnay tasting

Unless you don’t like irony, history (and this one is about as deep into the history of California winemaking as one can get, as the area is home to the mother vine clones of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon that now dominate the state’s plantings), or exciting developments in U.S. wine… in which case, I’m not sure that I can help you… hell, I’m not sure that anyone can help you… have you sought out the assistance of a professional for that condition? Because, seriously, I am starting to worry about you. Just sayin’…

Cheers!

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