Boxed In (Talking Boxed Wine For Publix Grape Magazine, Summer 2015)

Vinted on May 13, 2015 binned in learning wine, wine publications
Publix Grape Summer 2015

image: Publix Grape Magazine

Supposedly, it is Spring. Here in the Philly area, however, we jumped from sub-40F evenings directly to sunny, 80+F afternoons and something like 12,000% humidity. So, Summer decided to crash the party early.

A serendipitous time, therefore, is upon us during which to tell you of my contribution to the Summer 2015 edition of PUBLIX’s Grape Magazine (to which many of you can subscribe for free, by the way).

I contributed quite a bit of uncredited content to that one (much of it in the form of wine/food pairing write-ups). I also penned the In Focus section, this time focusing on the dreaded topic of boxed wines. Why this amazing little form of alternative wine packaging is still widely derided is beyond me, as we’re long past the point of the juice inside of those bag-in-boxes being sub-par. Granted, fine wine-ing it’s not, and admittedly it’s not the easiest task on earth to find a boxed wine that over-delivers on quality, but it certainly is easier finding a fairly-priced, tasty, and totally drinkable boxed wine than ever before.

During the In Focus piece, we get into the history of the boxed wine format, as well as explore some of the technology behind the bag-in-box packaging, which in a geeky way I have always found fascinating. You can check it out by subscribing at http://www.publix.com/clubs-programs/publications/publix-grape-magazine .

Cheers – and stay cool!

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For May 11, 2015

Vinted on May 11, 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!

  • 12 Simi Sonoma County Pinot Noir (Sonoma County): Supple & smooth are, apparently, the names of the smokey, vanilla-laden game here. $20 B >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Nieto Senetiner Terroir Blend Malbec (Mendoza): Power over poise, purposefully, but not without potential & a sense of pedigree. $32 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir Rose (Dundee Hills): The long, junty march of the affable watermelons has officially commenced. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Weinlaubenhof Alois Kracher Cuvee Beerenauslese (Neusiedlersee): Orange you glad those mandarin fruits decided to show up? 375ml $34 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Cherubino Porongurup Chardonnay (Margaret River): Mineral Chablis takes a holiday in Western Australia? Hey, it could happen. $36 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Cherubino Cowaramup Cabernet Sauvignon (Margaret River): …So in my smaaaaal waaay, I'm a big man on Mulberryyyyy Streeeeet…. $54 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Cherubino Wilyabrup Cabernet Sauvignon (Margaret River): Take me to the spicy riiiiiver… drop me in the black cherry water… $54 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Cherubino Margaret River Chardonnay (Margaret River): Well, the cherubs are most definitely singing a lithe, lovely tune here. $36 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Passing Time Cabernet Sauvignon (Horse Heaven Hills): Marino in the shotgun, he goes long, aaaaaaand IT'S COMPLETE AT THE ONE!!! $75 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Sokol Blosser Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley): Peach and flowers, both of them smirking with a little bit of cocksure attitude. $21 B+ >>find this wine<<
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A Winemakers’ Winery (Amici Recent Releases)

Amici's John Harris & Joel Aiken

Amici’s John Harris & Joel Aiken

“This is a winemakers’ winery.”

That Amici’s Associate Winemaker Bobby Donnell was speaking truth to me – and not just laying out the typical wine country cliché – was evidenced by the total lack of anything resembling Napa Valley “Why, yes I DID!” pomposity in Amici’s vinous Calistoga hamlet.

Maybe it’s due to owner John Harris’ down-to-earth influence, consulting winemaker Joel Aiken’s humility, or the winery’s somewhat-off-the-beaten-path location (or all three), but the Adult Wine Disneyland factor is pretty much approaching the zero line when it comes to graphing the esprit of Amici’s Cabernet production. Their reds are certainly Napa-esque fruity and powerful, but they’re also often tinged with energy, depth, and nuance. They wear lace in all the right places. And based on the asking prices, they got the laces at a discount (by Napa standards, anyway).

Amici trailer

Trailer, but not trash

But the above is also a nice way of saying that when you visit Amici, you’ll see… trailers. With barrels and space heaters in them. That’s where Aiken and Donnell house “a whopping ten tons” of production using whole berry fermentation, mostly for experimentation (though some portion now makes it into the Napa Valley Cabernet and Reserve Cabernet production). The reason? Outside trailers are the only room that they have left.

As Donnell put it, “the nickel tour involves bathroom, too!”

For my dinero, though, that’s all just fine. A lack of showcase winery adornment is more than made up in the experience that you’ll have in the bottle of typical Amici Cab, which offers the better aspects of NV red with a number on the price tag that’s about 33% lower than what we ought to expect from something that has Napa printed prominently on its label.

Yearning for lofty marble columns, classical music, and pomp and circumstance? You’ll have to look elsewhere. Fancy classic rock music playing while a smoker servers up BBQ fare out back beyond the trailers? Then Amici is your place, and these just might be your wines…

Read the rest of this stuff »

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