Seventh Lombardi trophy, that is.
See, I’ve been a Steelers fan for over 30 years, which places the activity in rare company when it comes to my lifetime activities, bested only by things such as breathing, sleeping and enjoying birthday cake. And for those of you sick of hearing about my NFL alliances (basically everyone but me), I offer this tidbit only as backdrop to a duo of 2007 California wine recommendations, so don’t get your jock straps into too much of a bunch just yet.
When the Steelers won their sixth championship title I was writing a piece about a Napa Valley wine while watching the game bleary-eyed in the middle of the night GMT in England. This year, I’ll be in Portugal (more on that next week) watching the Superbowl bleary-eyed in the middle of the night GMT. So I figured I’d better write about some Napa Valley wine again, because we all know what happened the last time all of those totally unrelated elements came together, right?
Not that I’m superstitious. But I might be planning on wearing the same pair of underwear I had on during Superbowl XLIII. And I’m not gonna say if that pair of undies been washed since SB XLIII. Let’s just not go there, okay?
Fortuna smiled and samples of two Napa wines well-worth your time have recently made their way to my sample stash (“recently” for me, that is, not “recently” in normal people time – which means these wines have done a bit of cellar-aging by virtue of my total failure at personal time management).
And the odd thing is, they were wines I had fully expected to hate…
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That’s the (apt) summary that winemaker and grower Steve Matthiasson gave me when I asked him how things were looking in Napa as they approached harvest of what has been one of the craziest growing seasons in recent memory.
There’s been much speculation in the wine press as to the impact that the bizarre Summer weather patterns would have on the quality of the fruit that will shortly be going into Napa’s wines, so I reached out to Steve for an update, because he’s probably the most passionate person I know when it comes to making great wine and growing great fruit in the Valley (since he does both, and does them both very well). A somewhat narrow view, arguably, but I’ll take a dispatch from the field over speculation, any day.
The short version of the Napa 2010 story is that it’s not all gloom-and-doom, but it does seem to be a case of feast-or-famine and a potential study in extremes.
While some varieties in particular, and some pockets of the Valley in general, are taking a nasty hit, others have fared pretty well – and some growers may actually be onto fruit that could result in extremely high-quality wines, despite the atypical weather…
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Last night, Mrs. Dudette, the Dudelette and I tried out a relatively new family-dining-style BYO Italian bistro in our area. Just about everything at this new-ish joint was very, very good – from the friendly service right on through to the tasty, looks-like-it-just-came-out-of-grandma’s-kitchen pasta.
I say “just about everything” because, as you will see in the inset pic (with apologies from me including crappy-ass cellphone shots here), when I pulled out out BYO wines, the restaurant handed me a nice metal “waiter’s friend” style corkscrew (I want one!), along with two wine “glasses” that looked as though they’d serve better duty as flower vases.
Are those glasses pretty? You bet. Are they decent glasses for drinking wine? No way.
I’m not trying to be a wine snob here (it comes naturally after a while!) – you’re reading the words of someone who regularly tries wines out of small plastic cups at outdoor events (you can take the kid out of Elsmere, but you’ll never take the Elsmere out of the kid, baby!) – but trying to get a sense of a wine and really enjoy it out of these things was just about impossible. Even our potentially kick-ass dinner wine selections (Matthiasson releases – and we all know those folks know what they’re doing because they’re getting mentioned here on an almost weekly basis now) tasted downright pedestrian from those things. We probably would have had better luck tasting them from our daughter’s sippy-cup (seen in the background).
For my tastes, those vase-glasses have a rim that’s way to wide and so thick that it dumps the wine into your mouth at a strange angle. All that pretty carving action? No way to really dig on the wine’s color and clarity through that stuff. The goblet style shape? More suitable to specialty beer brews than wine – give me a tulip-shaped glass any day.
Think the Dude doth protest too much? Had a head-on run-in with restaurant wine glasses? Shout it out in the comments!