I need to preface today’s announcement by saying I have no idea why I was picked as judge for the 2011 Georges Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year Award. The (most) ironic thing about my selection is that I’ve yet to publish a wine book. So… I’m as surprised as you are about the whole thing.
Anyway, here it is: I’ve been asked to be one of the four judges for the 2011 Georges Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year Award. And I accepted, because being a judge for this just seems f*cking cool, doesn’t it? Also, it’s a paying gig (god bless ‘em!).
If you’ve written a wine book this year, you can forget about hounding me incessantly and promising me signed Hines Ward jerseys in exchange for my vote: for one, I am (alas) not taking bribes; for another, I think I’d prefer a Troy Polamalu jersey now that I think about it; but most importantly, the deadline to enter books for consideration already passed. In fact, the submissions were culled down to a short-list of finalists before I ever saw any books. I’m poring over the seven books that made the finalist cut right now, and it’s stiff competition – there are some fantastic releases in the not-insignificantly-sized-and-weightier-than-expected pile of books sent to me to judge.
Before you ask, I’m holding off listing any of the books here just yet, becasue the finalists will be announced and notified in May, and the winner (c’mon, say it Charlie-Sheen-style! WINNER!!!) will be announced in May and presented with their award at Duboeuf’s annual Beaujolais Crus preview in New York on May 24, 2011.
For a sense of how well the award represents the best of wine publishing in any given year, past winners of the award include some downright fantastic tomes (several of which have been featured on these virtual pages in some way/shape/form): Randall Grahm’s Been Doon So Long, What To Drink With What You Eat by Andrew Dornenburg & Karen Page, Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible, Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine, and both Wine For Dummies and Champagne For Dummies. That’s a pretty impressive list.
I’m looking forward to torturing the poor souls who authored these books and constantly reminding them of the power I will wield over their work learning some new things about the wine world from the finalists, and then gnashing my teeth Old Testament style as I agonize over which one to pick for the award. A full write-up of my conclusions on each of the books, including my personal faves among them and details on how I voted, will be covered in gory detail right here after the awards are finalized and a winner is picked. Also, I now have extra copies of some of these books… which means those posts will also feature some giveaway action… Stay tuned…!
WARNING: This is one of those “it’s-my-blog-and-I’m-gonna-get-personal-if-I-wanna” posts. And it’s probably also a blatant appeal to pet-lovers everywhere. Proceed with caution!
Presumably because my life isn’t insane enough already, my family decided that the time was right for us to adopt a new dog. Frequent 1WD readers will recall that our previous pooch, Samson, had to be put down last Summer while I was in Walla Walla at the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference. We’re dog people at Chateau Dude – no offense to you cat people out there, but I am not down with cats; cats will eat you if you die and that kind of freaks me out.
Anyway… bear with me, this will come back to wine… eventually…
Presumably because just getting a dog itself isn’t anywhere near challenging enough, we picked up a rescue case: an 18-month-old, just-had-lots-of-surgery, not-housebroken, kept-outside, never-really-been-walked, underfed, under-weight, and under-loved rescue that is part Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff) and (we think) part Doberman Pinscher. His new name (apparently, he has had several) is Bruno, short for “Brunello,” because he’s big and Italian, after all…
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- 09 Masút Pinot Noir (Mendocino): Seems the Fetzer bros. off to a slightly-jammy but lively, enticing & complex start. Stay tuned. $40 B+ #
- 08 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley): Kinda like sniffing a fab red berry parfait & then downing a shot of grain alcohol. $35 B- #
- 09 Gunderloch "Jean Baptiste" Riesling Kabinett (Rheinhessen): Vibrant, tasty but seems a bit too tropical for the castle-strewn Rhine $18 B #
- 06 Vall Llach Embruix Priorat (Catalunya): Lluís Llach’s complex brew would be music to yer nose if not for the cacophony of booziness $25 B #
- 08 Loosen Bros. "Dr.L" Riesling (Mosel): Trying to find a cleaner, tangier, livelier Riesling for the $? Yeah good luck with that one. $12 B #
- 07 Chimney Rock Elevage (Napa Valley): Savory red & black plums writing their names on silk using chalky tannins. Whatever -it works! $79 B+ #
- 08 Chimney Rock "Tomahawk" Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Not as showy as prev vintages but still decked out in some sexy wampum. $115 B+ #
- 05 Chimney Rock Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Vally): A damn fine testament to SLD’s silky mouthfeel & firm structure. $62 B+ #
- 08 Duckhorn Decoy Merlot (Napa Valley): With easy-going blackberry, dried herbs & vanilla, it won’t quack out on you at the steakhouse $25 B #
- 06 Ferrero Brunello di Montalcino: Dried cherry that ain’t too funkay. Very good Brunello primer that dents but won’t break the bank. $50 B+ #
- 08 Chimney Rock "Clone 7" Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): One classy, gorgeous mouthfeel, but many concentrated dark red fruits. $75 B+ #
- 08 Hourglass Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Like the Cab version of "Dark and Lovely"; floral, focused & just fantastic. $155 A- #
- 08 Hourglass "Blueline" Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Fruit’s a tad dry, but the herbs & licorice are expressive (& impressive). $130 A- #
- 10 Stepping Stone Riesling (Napa Valley): Aromatic & focused? Yep. Tropical? Bring on the Hawaiian shirts. Svelte? Uhmm…. No. $18 B- #
- 10 Stepping Stone "Corallina" Rosé (Napa Valley): Built ground-up as rosé & it shows from the great color thru the elegant red berries $18 B #
- 10 Santi Montedoro Moscato (Dolomiti): Peachy, grapey & like Perez Hilton it’s cloying but also sort of charming at the same time. $11 B- #
- 06 Dry Creek Vineyard "The Mariner" Meritage (Dry Creek Valley): A black currant, chocolate & spice sea that sails as smooth as silk. $40 B+ #
- 09 Smith-Madrone Riesling (Napa Valley): Dear Germany – enjoying Napa; showing off my green fruits; think I’ll stay; Luv U! -Rheingau $27 B #
- 10 Casa Silva Pinot Noir Reserva (Colchagua): Tart, chewy & short on finish, but long on velvety red berry fruit (& on value). $12 B- #
- 09 Casa Silva Pinot Noir Reserva (Colchagua): Way too much green matched w/ those red fruits, & it sure ain’t X-mas time yet! $12 C #
Even though I’m a thoroughly-clueless heterosexual, it’s obvious even to me that Ignacio Casali – Viticulturist for Chile’s Viña Leyda – probably has had little trouble attracting the ladies. Ignacio possesses the kind of strong jaw and rugged, 5:00-shadow good looks that likely mean he has never had to struggle through hours of vivacious small-talk well-timed humor, and cajoling (the way that guys like me have) in an effort just to appear attractive when buying a girl a drink.
But before you eligible bachelorettes start emailing me for Ignacio’s number, you should know that if you ever do meet him it’s very unlikely that you’d be listening to Ignacio wax poetic about how your eyes resemble the nearby ocean (the Leyda Valley is located a mere 12 km east of the port area of San Antonio in central Chile). No, no, no – you are far, far more likely to hear him wax poetic about the far, far less sexy topics of rootstocks and vineyard clones from U.C. Davis.
You see, Ignacio is a wine geek, tried-and-true, and he’s clearly most at home in Leyda’s vineyards, talking about their experimental half-circle / fan-shaped plantings of vineyard rows (those look pretty odd, by the way), or providing details on which rootstocks are planted where (and why) on the property, or expounding the subtle differences of UC Davis grape variety clones and their soil suitability.
Still want that number, ladies?
To understand why there’s such a geeky focus on clones, vineyard management, and a sense of experimentation at Viña Leyda – and to really get to know the details behind some of their crazily-overachieving wines – you need to understand the lay of the Leyda Valley land, and educate yourself on some details about the Chilean wine market…
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