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’…





Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For November 2, 2015

Vinted on November 2, 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!

  • 13 Darms Lane Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley): Takes big steps & leaves big footprints, but there's grace to be found in the stride $39 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • NV Vranken Demoiselle Brut Rose (Champagne): Raspberries, rose petals, red cherries, & just a teeeeeeeeny bit shy of rapture. $45 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • NV Le Brun de Neuville Brut (Champagne): Only in Champers can one combine clay, chalk, butter, apples & toast and make it all ok. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • NV Nomine-Renard Brut (Champagne): Afternoon snack idea; bruised red apple spread, applied to toast, side of bread and lemon peel. $35 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Wood Family Vineyards Grenache (Livermore Valley): Lovely color introduces a lovely sipper; spicy, poignant, and powerful. $30 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Robert Mondavi Winery To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (Napa Valley): Lush, brooding, muscular, & above all, stunning. $155 A >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Robert Mondavi Winery Fume Blanc Reserve (Napa Valley): This big & yet this good; you'll shake your head, but will lift your glass $50 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Verite La Joie (Sonoma County): Complex, tense, & dark; much to love, but you'll need to like things at least a little bit dirty. $375 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Verite La Muse (Sonoma County): Never stops giving, opulently; like someone took your mouth on an all-expenses paid luxury holiday $390 A >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Verite Le Desir (Sonoma County): Dusty, explosive, gritty poetry in motion; Mad Max Fury Road, only in concentrated liquid form. $390 A >>find this wine<<



The Ugly Truth, The Pretty Bubbles (Mailly Champagne Recent Releases)

The ugly truth is that I – quite lazily – did not really want to write about Champagne cooperative Mailly (which takes its moniker, and the fruit from its Grand Cru vineyards, from the town of the same name). In fact, I felt so lazy about it, that I employed the writer’s laziest device (the dash) in the very first sentence (shame on me!).

Mailly tasting room

Founded in 1929, this mainly Pinot Noir brand of Champers is owned by twenty-five families (three of which account for more than eighty percent of the outfit overall), produces 500,000 bottles a year, and is farming from the same spots it has since the 1960s. It’s a co-op; the least sexy of Champagne’s production options from a consumer perspective.

Mailly viewNo fancy house (though the fact that the seven floors of the co-op stretch down over twenty meters underground is pretty cool). There’s a neat little tasting room, white chalk roads, and cellars dug by hand (over a period of thirty-six years; by the company founders, mind you, and not by the Gauls).

But while Mailly might not be much in the way of looks when considered next to its more, uhm… media-friendly Champers peers, its wines give plenty of those superficially sexier houses in the region a total run for their money…

Read the rest of this stuff »




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