Square Strawberries: Distilling The Natural Wine Message From The New Film “Wines From Here” (Score A Discount To The L.A. Screening!)

Vinted on September 19, 2011 binned in commentary, winemaking

“We don’t want a square strawberry.”

So opines Ridge’s Paul Draper in the first half of Wine From Here, a documentary about (and at points a bit of a commercial for) the budding natural winemaking movement in California (I got a sneak peak by invitation from one of the filmmakers, Martin Carel of Wino Brothers Inc.). The trailer is embedded below for your viewing pleasure.

The film will be screened in L.A. in a couple of days, followed by a tasting of natural wines with winemakers featured in the film at BUZZ Wine / Beer Shop – and if you buy tix to the event online you’ll get 1/3 off the full price by using discount code “1WD” at checkout!

Draper’s comment above is in reference to (what I think is) the strongest selling point behind natural winemaking: consumers ought to know what they are getting when they buy a product, and in the case of wine sometimes they are getting a lot more than just fermented grape juice, primarily in the form of various additives (for more on that topic, and for a rough definition of natural winemaking itself, see my review of Alice Feiring’s new book – she makes several appearances in the film, by the way). And as we know well, consumer sentiment is king, and will play a large part in whether or not the natural winemaking movement gains any serious traction in the wine biz and becomes the vinous equivalent of the organic / slow food phenomena.

Based on the film (which is well-made, and is highly recommended watching for wine geeks), the natural winemaking movement sorely needs to emphasize its strong points, because it’s still touting a few tenets that hold less water than well-drained gravelly vineyard soils…

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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini Reviews Round-Up For September 17, 2011

Vinted on September 17, 2011 binned in wine mini-reviews

Uhm, like what is this stuff?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine sample tasting notes via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be fun, quickly-and-easily-digestible reviews. Below is a wrap-up of the twitter reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find them so you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 06 August Briggs Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Such great plummy spice. But every grain is carrying a load of boozy bigness. $52 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 10 John Duval Plexus MRV (Barossa): Rhone hooks up with south Australia; their love child eventually becomes a stunning supermodel. $30 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Johannishof Charta Riesling (Rheingau): A tasty blast of apricot & citrus pith. Maybe too much citrus pith all things considered. $21 B >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Rodney Strong Alexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley): Sooo complex. Sooo drinkable. Sooo focused. Sooo damn ripe. $75 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 07 Spring Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): I love funk music, but I definitely wouldn’t play it during a coronation $75 B >>find this wine>>
  • 10 Trapiche Zaphy Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza): Red currant fruit that’s right on course, though that course is a bit, er, coarse. $9 C >>find this wine>>
  • 10 Trapiche Zaphy Malbec (Mendoza): Plums & hint of meatiness that have entered the fruity dimension (& basically got stuck there). $9 C+ >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Stoneleigh Pinot Noir (Marlborough): Red berries that are buoyant enough to lift your spirits after a crappy day at the office. $17 B- >>find this wine>>
  • 10 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough): Grapefruit, passion fruit, a touch of herbs & a shrimp-friendly, stately demeanor. $17 B >>find this wine>>
  • 10 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough): Great herbs & pleasant tropical fruit salad executing a slightly awkward dance maneuver. $14 B- >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Foppiano Vineyards Estate Bottled Petite Sirah (Russian RIver Valley): Just a big, guilty, peppery, flowery, black-fruited pleasure $20 B >>find this wine>>
  • 07 Bernardus Pinot Noir (Monterey County): An herbal, juicy jaunt that, alas, took its eyes off the road at the smokey finish line. $20 B- >>find this wine>>
  • 10 Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley): Red berries as vibrant as a neon sign; truffle & herbs make up for the charred meat. $20 B >>find this wine>>
  • 09 X Winery Truchard Vineyard Pinot Noir (Carneros): A little hefty but ready to beat the pants off Napa Valley Pinot twice the price. $27 B >>find this wine>>



Speak Low And Carry A Big Mourvèdre (The Boz Scaggs Interview)

Vinted on September 15, 2011 binned in best of, interviews, kick-ass wines, sexy wines

What do you do after you’ve more-or-less totally conquered the R&B/Pop and Jazz worlds, and have become so successful in the music biz that one of your backup bands goes on to become a multi-platinum-record-selling act?

In Boz Scaggs’s case, you start up a wine brand. Of course!

Many of you…, uhm… younglings reading this may not be intimately familiar with Boz’s tunes, or his soulful crooning, but chances are very, very good that your parents think he’s the shiz. In 2000, smooth-soul-rocker Boz and his wife Dominique released the first wines made under their Scaggs Vineyard label. Their plantings were started on a bit of a lark in the late 1990s, when a friend suggested they try growing grape vines on their Napa Valley property (and gave them some leftover Syrah he had on his truck). Turned out that friend was onto something – Scaggs Vineyard 2008 Mt. Veeder Montage is a stellar Mourvèdre / Grenache / Syrah blend that’s packing as much soul as any one of Boz’s numerous memorable grooves.

Judging by his responses to my interview questions, award-winning singer/songwriter Boz Scaggs may be a man of many infectious grooves but he’s also a man of relatively few words. When it comes to his wines, however, little embellishment is needed for those who have had the opportunity to taste them.  Boz might “Speak Low,” but his wines carry a pretty loud bang (for the buck).

A quick interview with Boz (who took some time out of a busy and active touring schedule to answer my questions) is below, along with some further thoughts on two recent Scaggs Vineyard releases (tasted as samples).  I suggest listening to the live version of Lowdown while reading it (if that song doesn’t get your booty moving at least a little bit, then you might not have a pulse…).  I’m not sure Boz “gets” my sense of humor (actually, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t get my sense of humor), but I sure “get” his wines – of all of the rock-star-turned-wine-producers that I’ve interviewed, Boz’s releases are certainly among the best (if not the best).


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