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Getting Screwy For Spring (Talking Corkscrews In Publix Grape Magazine Spring 2014)

Vinted on April 8, 2014 under going pro
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HiYa! If you're new here, you may want to Sign Up to get all the latest wine coolness delivered to your virtual doorstep. I've also got short, easily-digestible mini wine reviews and some educational, entertaining wine vids. If you're looking to up your wine tasting IQ, check out my book How to Taste Like a Wine Geek: A practical guide to tasting, enjoying, and learning about the world's greatest beverage. Cheers!

If you’ve ever wanted to introduce a misbehaving corkscrew to the business end of a firearm (I think anyone who’s ever snapped a cork in half when opening a bottle can identify with this feeling), then you’re not actually too far off from one of that tool’s original uses.

That corkscrews may have derived from implements used to pull unspent musket material from rile barrels is just one of the fascinating tidbits I picked up in researching my latest piece for PUBLIX Grape Magazine, titled “The Art of the Corkscrew,” which is appearing in their Spring 2014 issue.

Yes, Spring. Yes, really. I know that most of you who are, like me, on the East Coast (or are reading this from the northern Midwest U.S.) have probably, after this hellish Winter season, ceased believing in the memory of Spring, and chalked its flowers, rain showers, and warm, Sunny days up to a vague, pre-ice-age fantasy. But I can assure you that it has, in fact, actually and for-real arrived. Sort of. I think.

Anyway, if you’re in the PUBLIX sphere of shopping, you can pick up a printed copy of the issue for free (or subscribe for delivery), and get your geek hat on to learn a few surprising things about one of the world’s only tools that’s essentially designed to open one and only one product (a fact that, in and of itself, puts the wine world into a kind of odd, anachronistic light, doesn’t it?), along with all kinds of other interesting wine-and-drinks-and-food-related content. My article also includes a guide to the most common corkscrew types, along with hints on how to best use them (which you, of course, don’t need, because you’re a way-cool bad-ass who’s never, ever, not-even-once ripped a cork in half when trying to open a bottle of vino… yeah… right…).

Cheers!

Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For April 7, 2014

Vinted on April 7, 2014 under 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!

  • 08 Carpineto Brunello di Montalcino (Brunello di Montalcino): Still a youngster, playing in the dirt and skipping graphite stones. $55 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Brooks Riesling (Willamette Valley): Grapefruit pith, toast and chalk that are patiently discussing stern austerity measures. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Cliff Lee Moondance Dream (Stags Leap District): For those who want their Bord'x blend turned up full throttle, with afterburners. $95 A >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Cliff Lede Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Brawny; like it stepped thirsty right off the paper towel roll. $70 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Cliff Lede Vineyards Songbook Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): A tune that's more Wagnerian cycle than quickly-digested pop song $190 A >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Argyle Riesling (Eola-Amity Hills): Fresh, mineral-driven mountain spring water, with twists of limes added for good measure. $17 B >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Grey Stack Rosemary's Block Dry Stack Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (Bennett Valley): SB as hazy, thought-provoking art house flick. $33 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • NV Villa Sandi Vigna la Rivetta, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Cartizze (Prosecco): Chalk-lined paths leading to elegant secret gardens. $40 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 09 Wakefield The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon (Clare Valley): Arrives tossing out gifts generously; turns around & leaves too soon. $120 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Wakefield St Andrews Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Clare Valley): Soft earth & eucalyptus leaves clinging to obsidian blocks $60 A- >>find this wine<<

Yesterday’s Wines, Tomorrow (Stony Hill Recent Releases)

Vinted on April 3, 2014 under elegant wines, on the road, overachiever wines, wine review

Peabody’s Wayback Machine has got nothing on the steep, two mile drive from Napa Valley’s Bale Grist Mill State Park up to Stony Hill Vineyard. Brave that vertical, moss-covered tree-lined climb between St. Helena and Calistoga, and in many ways you’re transported at least forty years back in Napa time, and to what seems an entire world away from the Disney-fied scene of the opulent temples of vino-ness that pervade Route 29.

Feel free to insert your own clichés about technology being the only indication we’re living in a modern age when touring this winery’s weathered but functional buildings and it’s gnarled old Riesling vines. They’re pabulum, sure, but in this case also apt (I was warned to plan on no cell phone coverage when I reached the top of their road; the Wayback machine renders that inoperative, I suppose).

“This is the land that Napa Valley Time forgot,” mused Sarah McCrea, the former corporate marketing brand director who, in 2012, stopped fighting the inevitably baladromic call of becoming Stony Hill’s third generation proprietor. “And we like it that way.”

McCrea’s grandparents, Fred and Eleanor McCrea, bought this little chunk of Spring Mountain in 1943, when it was a former goat ranch that “nobody seemed to want.” The first plantings happened “in `48, `49, after the war,” according to McCrea. Some Riesling vines from that era still remain on the property. A small winery was completed in 1953, and trust me when I tell you that, while charming and unquestionably setup in a beautiful place with a beautiful valley view, it would hardly qualify as garage-sized for some of the polished-with-gobs-of-cash winery façades just a few miles farther south on Route 29. Since that time in the fifties, almost nothing (thankfully, blessedly, miraculously) seems to have changed here. Case in point: in sixty years, Stony Hill has employed fewer winemakers than the venerable Pittsburgh Steelers have head coaches.

To put Stony Hill in perspective, one has to understand that when they started in the wine business in Napa, there was no perspective. There wasn’t even much of a Napa fine wine business. There’s is a tale that, as Morrissey sang, starts “from before the beginning…”

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Robert Parker, Wine Advocate Apologize For “Boorish, Bullying” Behavior

Vinted on April 1, 2014 under Inebriated Press

Inebriated Press

In a stunning reversal of unwritten policy, the wine industry’s most powerful critic, Robert M. Parker, Jr.  and his fellow staff members at the publication he founded, The Wine Advocate, held a press conference earlier today to “apologize for our recent boorish, bullying behavior.”

“We at The Wine Advocate have, in short, been terribly, terribly wrong in our actions,” admitted Parker to a packed crowd of seven wine industry veterans gathered near his home in Monkton, Maryland. “My god, our behavior has been so infantile and vile that I don’t even know where to start, quite frankly. Oh, are those cookies over there? Could someone pass those?”

Parker began by extending a virtual vinous olive branch to Jon Bonne and Eric Asimov, wine writers for the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times, respectively. Both men were publicly derided by Parker as unprofessional in a post in the online bulletin board of Parker’s website. “Really, that was totally uncalled for, and bitingly ironic considering that only a few days before I had, in their presence, publicly called for more civility among wine writers. I mean, dang, I’m making the whole profession look like a bunch of douchebags when I do things like that!” He then slammed his open right palm into his forehead, temporarily shaking the stage and causing microphone feedback that delayed the remainder of the press conference for several minutes. The normally recalcitrant Parker had been referring to statements he made as the keynote speaker at a wine writers conference, given only a short time before his remarks about Bonne and Asimov, both of whom were in the audience during Parker’s keynote address.

Parker was followed by several The Wine Advocate staff writers and critics in offering public apologies, including Master of Wine Lisa Perrotti-Brown, who referred to her mis-identification and lambasting of Bonne’s and Asimov’s “new California wines” session at the 2014 Professional Wine Writers Symposium in Napa, California (in which she mistakenly referred to wines that weren’t actually poured during the session) a “real fuck-up.” On the bulletin board, Perrotti-Brown called the wines “vaguely interesting,” “neutral,” “dilute,” and “flavorless, without vibrancy and texture, not unlike most of wine writing itself these days.”

“Well, what can I say, I just balled that up big time,” she told reporters and industry insiders…

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