No Bullsh*t Wine (Cowhorn Vineyard Recent Releases)

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One could be forgiven for expecting an overdose of “yes, I did in fact write those checks” bullsh*t when visiting Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden in Oregon’s Applegate Valley, based solely on the facts that

a) it takes its name from the most infamous preparation (#500, which involves burying a cow’s horn full of manure) in wine’s most infamous set of farming practices (Biodynamics), and

b) founders Barbara and Bill Steele are former CFO/CFA financial types who, after leaving Wall Street and before establishing Cowhorn (despite not having a single lick of winegrowing experience) lived what they call a “homeopathic lifestyle in Marin County.”

Barbara Steele Cowhorn

Cowhorn co-fouder Barbara Steele

One’s skepticism about the Steele’s seriousness regarding their 25-or-so acres of vines and 4,000-or-so case production could be forgiven, but one’s skepticism would also be quite wrong. I mean, you’ll want to be skeptical about, for example, the earnestness of Bill Steele’s long hair, but then you’ll find out that he makes his own sulfites. And that the Steele’s spent two years researching the right place to plant vines before breaking ground on Cowhorn in 2002, planning on Biodynamics viticulture from the get-go (with Alan York consulting), and despite its under-the-radar status and various environmental challenges (ripening is actually the main challenge there, as they are farming Rhône varieties, and the cold air from the surrounding hills makes this a cooler spot by Applegate standards) chose Southern Oregon anyway.

And then there’s the farming mentality employed at Cowhorn, which feels downright legit when the Steele’s are waxing philosophic about it; as Barbara put it, “It’s the people behind it that makes this kind of viticulture possible for the Applegate Valley.” Even their yeast situation is kind of endearing; Bill mentioned that that six unique strains were identified there, primarily due to the 100+ acres of property having been left isolated so long before the Steele’s bought it.

And then… then you’ll taste their wines, which all have a consistent and defining element of being well-crafted and yet still characterful; not overly polished, showing their edginess and angularity while still retaining a sense of elegance. In other words, the only thing full of bullsh*t will be your own silly preconceived notions about their outfit…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For October 29, 2018

Vinted on October 29, 2018 binned in wine mini-reviews

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 in a “mini-review” format.

They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

 

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Pocket Full Of Passion (October 2018 Wine Product Roundup)

Vinted on October 24, 2018 binned in wine books, wine products

It’s time once again for Ye Olde Wine Product Review Roundup, in which I turn my critical Sauron-like eye towards wine-related samples that are (usually) inedible. We’re back to hitting the books this month, because, well, I have a sh*t ton of wine book samples piling up at 1WD HQ. Like, seriously, I am tripping over some of them at this point…

Hugh Johnson 2019 Pocket Wine BookFirst up is the 2019 edition of the perennially (literally) fantastic Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book (Mitchell Beazley, 336 pages, $17). If it seems like I talk about this little marvel of a wine reference every single year, it’s because I do. Once again, Johnson’s cast of contributing characters packs an almost unbelievable amount of useful information on most of the wine world’s important releases/producers/vintages/regions into an equally nearly unbelievably small space. Yeah, it really needs to be an annually updated or subscription-style mobile app at this point, but still, there’s good reason this book sits atop the best seller lists for wine guides for those of us who still occasionally pick up these things made from dead trees. The rotating essay topic this year’s Pocket Wine is Natural/Organic/Biodynamic wines, and it’s well-written and interesting, bringing a refreshingly non-partisan analysis of those categories and making a good case that, when it comes to fine wine production, being sustainable is actually quite mainstream…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For October 22, 2018

Vinted on October 22, 2018 binned in wine mini-reviews

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 in a “mini-review” format.

They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

 

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