Weekly Twitter Wine Mini Reviews Round-Up For May 21, 2011

Vinted on May 21, 2011 binned in wine mini-reviews
  • 07 Twisted Oak "The Spaniard" (Calaveras County): Savory, inspired red blend that is most certainly not "unemployed in Greenland." $49 A- #
  • 08 Bonny Doon "Le Cigare Blanc" (Arroyo Seco): The lady’s a little bit fat, but she’s singing of quince – & boy, can she ever sing. $19 B #
  • 10 Bogatell Garnacha Blanca (Terra Alta): Like Dr. Who’s TARDIS, packs way more melon than should realistically fit inside of 750ml. $12 B- #
  • 06 St Francis Merlot (Sonoma County): Lots of red fruits & confidence (and it ought to be confident, because it’s pretty damn solid!). $17 B #
  • NV Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Cuvee de la Pompadour (Carneros): Almost as light as the elegant rose petals of which it will remind you $35 B #
  • 05 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Young, promising but livin in the shadow of its 04 older bro $75 B+ #
  • 08 D’Alessandro Nero d’Avola (Sicilia): Enough black plum for a grocery store Produce department, enough grit for a Spaghetti Western $15 B- #
  • 09 VIVI Primitivo (Puglia): Mr. Spicy Red Berry is nice, but has a lingering odor that’s a little too Primitivo if you catch my drift. $10 C #
  • 09 VIVI Falanghina (Campania): Lime, flowers & apples with a bite strong enough that it needs Chicken Alfredo to be fully tamed. $10 C+ #
  • 09 Sacha Lichine "Vins Sans Frontiers" Sauvignon Blanc (Vin de Pays d’Oc): Refreshing, like water, which it more-or-less tastes like. $10 C #
  • 08 Sacha Lichine "Vins Sans Frontiers" Cabernet/Merlot (Vin de Pays d’Oc): Hi! I’m fruiy! Really fruity! Did I mention I was fruity? $10 C+ #
  • 10 Santa Carolina Reserva Sauvignon Blanc (Leyda Valley): The forecast calls for vibrant, tropical weather. Vino-wise, that is. $10 B- #
  • NV Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé (Champagne): I’ll take my earthy red berries on 7-grain bread with a side of rose petals, please. $47 B+ #
  • NV Graham Beck Brut Rose (Western Cape): Lavenders & red berries in a simple presentation, but sometimes simple is *just* right. $15 B- #
  • NV Graham Beck Brut (Western Cape): Under-ripe pear is about all that’s there. But the rich mouthfeel just might keep you sippin’. $16 B- #
  • 09 Valckenberg Dornfelder (Rheinhessen): Here we go ’round the blackberry bush, the blackberry bush, the blackberry bush… $12 B- #
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Short Answers, Long Finishes And Seesaws (Tasting With The Grandfather Of Modern Chilean Winemaking At Viña Morandé)

Vinted on May 19, 2011 binned in kick-ass wines, on the road, overachiever wines

You don’t really know a winemaker until you’ve shared a seesaw ride with him.  That’s my new mantra after visiting Viña Morandé’s “House of Morandé” restaurant and tasting bar (oh, yeah – and playground) just outside of Santiago in Chile.

The playground is for the kiddies, to keep them occupied while mom and dad taste some wine.  At least, that’s the company line from Pablo Morandé, winemaking director at Viña Morandé.

Pablo comes off as a series, polite man; he’s tall, with white-grey hair, and a matter-of-fact look about him. When asked questions, his answers are short, to-the-point, and delivered with a sort of “of course this is the answer” confidence that comes from being one of the pioneers of modern winemaking in the area.  In other words, they’re hopelessly non-quotable; but who needs quotes when you’re sharing a seesaw moment, right?

Being the pioneering granddaddy of modern winemaking in these parts is, of course, relative – it means you’ve been making wine since, say, 1996, and not 1896, so “grandfather” might not be totally appropriate a moniker. But when you see Pablo Morandé, I defy you not to think “grandfather.” When you meet Pablo Morandé, there is no way in hell you’re not going to be thinking “grandfather.”

Anyway, I consider it a Vatican-worthy minor-miracle that we got Pablo Morandé on the seesaw.  But then, after finishing up a tasting and lunch at his restaurant during which he wasn’t spitting, it probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise after all, despite his serious demeanor (I’m guessing that the wines helped).

What has Pablo Morandé learned in his relatively long Chilean winemaking tenure? In summary: do less

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Georges Duboeuf Wine Book Of The Year Awards, Concluded (“Best Of The Best” Giveaway!)

Vinted on May 18, 2011 binned in book reviews, giveaways, going pro

Last week in my continuing saga as judge in the Georges Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year Awards, we took a look at the finalists that didn’t make my cut into the “top three” votes for the award (and gave away a copy of Charlie Olken’s excellent New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wine and Wineries in the process).

This week, we’re going to look at the three that did make that cut, with my explanations as to why I chose them, exactly as I reported them to the folks running the GD awards this year.  They’re listed after the jump in descending order, ending with my personal #1 pick for the award.  The official winner will be announced next week at Duboeuf’s annual Beaujolais Crus preview in New York on May 24.

This week, we’re giving away a copy of one of those ‘top three’ books – Mark Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine: Pleasure, Value, and Adventure Beyond Wine’s Usual Suspects!

Same drill as last week, people: you comment, and in one week I’ll randomly select a winner from the list of commenters!

You can see exactly where Mark’s latest release fell in my top three after the jump (for more on Mark, check out the interview I did with him back in October) – to make a long story short, his latest book kicks all kinds of wine learning ass. The main reason I picked Brave New World of Wine as one of my three finalists, however, was because Mark’s book reminds us of something that I think we spend too much tome forgetting – inherently, wine is supposed to make us happy; it’s supposed to bring joy, delight and (at the high end) some artistic measure to our days.

Do we miss the trick too much, and too often forget about the joy that wine is supposed to bring to us? Shout it out in the comments for a chance to win!

Enjoy – and good luck!…

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