Wine’s Quiet Hypocrisy

Vinted on November 11, 2014 binned in commentary

For some reason (maybe I look trustworthy?), I’ve had a disproportionately large number of conversations with winemakers in which they divulge to me that they are upset about a myth/misunderstanding/half-truth/whatever being perpetuated by members of the wine media.

This could be things such as -

1) inaccuracies regarding long-held notions about a growing region, or

2) the supposedly (but grossly oversimplified ) poor performance of an overall vintage or a particular grape in a particular place, or

3) someone getting the historical facts about a producer’s or region’s history wrong, etc., etc., etc.

The not-so-subtle implication in those conversations is that wine media are abusing their positions of power in perpetuating these inaccuracies, misinformed opinions, and the like.

Far be it from me to disagree with these moderately-pissed-off folks. In the vast majority of cases, they have excellent points (hey, do we need yet another example of a wine from a supposedly “poor” vintage outperforming and outlasting wines from a supposedly “superior” vintage?). And they are usually much bigger than I am (even the girls).

BUT (and you knew that was coming)…

These same people (most of them, anyway) fail to see the hypocrisy in which their legitimate complaints are steeped. And as we’re about to see, those complaints are absolutely dripping in it, like a pair of feet are dripping with juice after they’ve have been stomping Port grapes in the lagares all day…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For November 10, 2014

Vinted on November 10, 2014 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!

  • 11 Belle Pente Estate Reserve Pinot Noir (Yamill-Carlton): Citrus peel tea, anyone? Yes, when it's this soft & supple, you should. $50 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Ayres Vineyard Lewis Rogers Lane Estate Pinot Noir (Ribbon Ridge): An austere, peppery, lithe beauty of a boysenberry bargain. $38 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Cristom Sommers Reserve Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley): The ride ends too soon, but the view is incredibly lovely all the way. $45 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Lange Estate Dundee Hills Pinot Noir (Dundee Hills): If you can mind a little leathery heat, it's worth staying in this kitchen. $70 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Bethel Heights Southeast Block Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley): Maybe a little top-heavy, but it quickly recovers its poise. $50 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Kramer Vineyards Zero Dosage Brut (Yamhill-Carlton): green citrus and clay, to fit right into your Autumnal apple picking plans. $30 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Sokol Blosser Goosepen Block Pinot Noir (Dundee Hills): Large & chewy; but also lovely & robust. Less muscle car, & more formula 1 $80 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Villa Ponciago Fleurie la Reserve (Beaujolais): Don't mind the green stems along this stony path, red berries await you at the end $19 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Louis Guntrum Niersteiner Rehbach Riesling Spatlese (Rheinhessen): Tea, with lemon, combined into something dangerously drinkable. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
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That Old, Old, Old, Old, Old Place In Lodi (A Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault Tasting)

Vinted on November 6, 2014 binned in crowd pleaser wines, elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review

Remember when we talked about that old Cinsault vineyard in Lodi?

I mean, that REALLY OLD Cinsault vineyard in Lodi?

The tiny, flat, rectangular Bechthold vineyard – all 25 acres of it, or just about 0.0025% of Lodi’s overall plantings – is an organic, own-rooted, sandy-soil patch of Cinsault in the Mokelumne River area, near the town of Lodi itself. Once just a holdover from a time when such vineyards were being ripped out and replanted in the rip=roaring 1990s, it now counts Turley and Bonny Doon among its clients, with a long waiting list for its fruit.

We can thank German settlers for Bechthold’s orerly layout, which is still owned and farmed by descendants of the family that broke vinous ground there in the late 1800s. Given that phylloxera hit the Cinsault plantings of Europe pretty hard, this little Lodi spot is as close as we’re likely to ever get to original, un-grafted Cinsault. In fact, it’s likely the world’s oldest Cinsault planting.

Farming there is a challenge not just in that the vines are still relatively productive, but also because their age (nearly 130 years) basically guarantees disease. As grape grower Craig Ledbetter told me (and a handful of other Right coast media types) at a recent tasting of Bechthold Cinsault wines held at Brooklyn Wine Exchange (I was a guest of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, which Ledbetter chairs): “at 128 years old, you have to assume that it has it, no matter what disease you’re talking about.”

The results of the wines crafted from this special plot of Earth? Well, I’m not going to say that they’re profound wines, because they’re not; at least, not in the way that we typically think of profundity in wine these days, which is basically in terms of complexity and harmony. But more authentic wines you are unlikely to ever taste. In that sense, they’re wonderful, geek-gasm treasures of juice…

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