This Just In: I Join A PLCB Advisory Group. Also, Hell Freezes Over. Sort Of.

Vinted on August 24, 2011 binned in going pro, PLCB, wine shipping

Last week, after I spoke out against NJ Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan publicly dissing his own wine-buying constituents, I received quite a bit of feedback (comments and e-mail) about something I wasn’t talking about.  Namely, not reporting from the battlefield of the wine shipping fracas taking place among the rolling hills of my home state, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (one of – if not the – worst control states in our fair Union).

In response, I can offer two tidbits as potential justification:

1) Blogger Lew Bryson is doing a fine job of detailing all of the latest PLCB debacles and on-again/off-again satutus of PA’s move towards Privitization, and I’ve little to offer above-and-beyond Lew’s excellent and opinionated coverage. For a pertinent example, check out Lew’s tirade about the state’s failed automated wine kiosks – turns out the PLCB knew that the kiosks had little chance of succeeding before they deployed them (I had a similar view of their potential success published around the same time).

2) I’m anticipating the potential for a lot more insider coverage coming soon on the PLCB and the drama of the changing state of alcohol distribution in PA, since I’ve agreed to be on a focus group for a PLCB Wine Advisory Council member.

Yes, you read that correctly. I’ve been hand-picked by a member of the PLCB’s Eastern PA Regional Advisory Panel to join a cabinet/focus group, which has as one of its priorities advancing the pace of change to improve the currently (very) sad state of wine distribution affairs in the Commonwealth…

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Art Vs. Artifice In The Search For Natural Wine

Vinted on August 22, 2011 binned in book reviews, wine books

“That’s just… man, that’s just… NOT right!”

The above quote is from a friend of mine, in reaction to learning that some of his favorite wines – and, in fact, probably most wines – are made with grapes purchased from growers. As in, grapes that did not come from a patch of land directly behind a winery building on a farm somewhere, tended with care by the winemaker’s own hands.

Imagine how he would have felt if he’d seen the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s list of “Materials authorized for the treatment of wine and juice.”  While it’s not quite as bad as the list of additives that are used to “enhance” our processed foodstuffs, it certainly feels a lot more “McDonald’s” than “Old MacDonald.”

As consumers, lacking evidence to the alternative we have a tendency to assume (naively) that what we consume is fundamentally natural, or that a “natural” product is somehow a superior one.  This premise – that the natural is always the better – serves as a driving force behind award-winning wine journalist Alice Feiring’s new book, Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally ($10 eBook, or about $15 in print – I received an advanced review copy).

Feiring is a self-proclaimed polarizing figure in the wine world, and if her intention with Naked Wine was to solidify her controversial status, she could hardly have chosen a better cement than the topic of “natural wine”…

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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini Reviews Round-Up For August 20, 2011

Vinted on August 20, 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!

  • 07 Bonny Doon Alamo Creek Syrah (San Luis Obispo): Who starting blaring Funky Town at Pepper & Black Raspberry’s elegant wedding? $35 B >>find this wine>>
  • 05 Tabarrini Sagrantino (Montefalco): W/ that tar & tannin, will put hair on your chest. And back. And probably everywhere else too. $34 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Raats Original Chenin Blanc Unwooded (South Africa): Not as complex as previous years but as inviting & approachable as Chenin gets $14 B >>find this wine>>
  • 07 Rudi Schultz Syrah (Stellenbosch): Meaty, Beaty, Big, & Jammy. And Oakey. Ok, & maybe a just a tad too Bouncy as well. $25 B >>find this wine>>
  • 10 Valckenberg Gewurztraminer (Pfalz): Tasty & floral, but with balance like that, it might need to stick to the training wheels. $15 B- >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages (Beaujolais-Villages): Stems are still on those violets & berries, but they look good w/ dinner $12 B- >>find this wine>>
  • 10 Two Princes Riesling (Nahe): If you… wanna drink for hours (at >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay (Russian River Valley): Hello, CA! Golden apple, creme brulee, vanilla, peach & a bit too much heat. $48 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Chalk Hill Estate Sauvignon Blanc (Russian River Valley): A little (too) lush/creamy but the splash of Sauv Gris is a nice addition $30 B >>find this wine>>
  • 07 Chalk Hill Estate Red (Russian River Valley): Wow. Tough to convey how much ass this could kick if they can get the abv down a bit $70 A- >>find this wine>>
  • Sebastiani Cherryblock Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma Valley): Compressed can of well-structured spicy black fruit kickass. Give it 6 yrs $90 A- >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Sebastiani Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley): Chocolates, flowers, and a dark (cherries) side. A dead-sexy combo for date night. $28 B >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Sebastiani Chardonnay (Sonoma County): Put-together, but *well* put-together. Apricot, cream, apples, citris & over-achievement. $12 B >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Foley Rancho Santa Rosa Pinot Noir (Santa Rita Hills): Spicy, weighty, rich but not w/out tart red berry. One for the yacht club. $40 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Foley Rancho Santa Rosa Chardonnay (Santa Rita Hills): Mineraly & tropical Chard’s more experienced & slightly curvier big sister. $30 B+ >>find this wine>>



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