Papa Don’t Preach (New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wine & Wineries)

Vinted on October 20, 2010 binned in book reviews, wine publications

Full disclosure: Charlie Olken, the driving force behind The Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine, is my dad.

Not my biological father, mind you.  In fact, he’s not related to me in any way; he’s not my adoptive father, either.

It happened back in February: I was sitting at one of the evening dinner events at the 2010 Professional Wine Writers Symposium, and was talking about how I thought Charlie was awesome and that I’d recently commented on another website that I wish Charlie was my dad.  Then, someone pointed out that Charlie was sitting about two places to my right, and Charlie kindly agreed to pseudo-adopt me on the spot.  Highlight of the trip for me, in a lot of ways.

Charlie has a new version of his Guidebook to California Wine (The New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wine and Wineries, of which I received a review copy), so we are (and by “we are” I mean “I am”) extending the theme of publication reviews this week by spinning some yarn about Charlie’s new book, co-written with Joseph Furstenthal (the book, that is, not this review).

The first thing I noticed about The New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook is that it’s mildly addictive.

What I mean is, it offers up thoughts on the history and products almost 500 California wineries, which invariably leads to the following sequence of events (for me, anyway):

“I wonder if they cover [insert winery name here]?”

Flip-flip-flip-flip-flip.

Read commentary.

“Hmmm.  I never knew that about [insert winery name here].  Wonder what they think of [such-and-such-winery]’s more recent releases.”

Flip-flip-flip-flip-flip.

You get the idea. The New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook is like searching the Internet on CA wineries, only in miniature (and in print) and guided by the expertise of people who have covered the winemaking in the state since most of us wine bloggers were eight year old kids drinking Coke from glass bottles

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The World of The World of Fine Wine Magazine

Vinted on October 18, 2010 binned in wine publications

I receive quite a bit of wine for which I pay nothing.  I have never bothered to measure the volume of influx of wine samples to my door, but it is high enough that whenever the doorbell rings in the afternoon, my toddler daughter now exclaims “more boxes of wine, daddy!”

Generally this volume of samples means two things for me:

  1. I cannot dream of complaining about the situation, even though it largely results in my basement storage space being taken up with shipping materials full bottles of wine that aren’t necessarily very good; and
  2. Whenever I receive a sample of something that isn’t actually a bottle of wine, I take notice immediately.

So naturally, the sample copy of Issue 29 of the UK-based publication The World of Fine Wine I received recently really stood out, as did the letter of introduction from its editor, Neil Beckett (and not just because it was printed on A4 paper).  Here’s what Neil wrote to me (I’m hoping he doesn’t mind me reproducing it here):

“Some of my team here are followers of your site and we hoped you might like to see what we do in a rather more old-fashioned medium…”

That medium of course being a printed magazine, though calling The World of Fine Wine a magazine is a bit like calling the Bible a doorstop.  It’s a gorgeous example of print, with stunning art reproductions and photography, and its 200+ pages put it more into the coffee-table-book species than what we in the U.S. customarily think of when asked to picture a wine magazine in our mind’s eyes.  It also costs £30 per issue – or, roughly $170 for four issues.  Ouch!…

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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini Reviews Round-Up for 2010-10-15

Vinted on October 16, 2010 binned in wine mini-reviews
  • 08 Terrazas Reserva Unoaked Torrontes (Salta): The aroma is all about a sense of place; but the palate is all over the darn place. $10 C+ ->
  • 08 Graham Beck Gamekeeper's Reserve Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch/Paarl): I'm just happy Mr. Gamekeeper didn't keep it all for himself! $15 B ->
  • 07 Luca Beso de Dante (Vista Flores/Altamira/Agrelo): Structured, complex & just one hell of a S. American Malbec/Cab blend going on. $45 B+ ->
  • 05 Valdivieso Eclat (Maule Valley): Brambly, lively & fruity, it's Carignan for Syrah-lovers, & from Chile to boot (whodah thunk it?) B $27 ->
  • 06 De Martino Single Vineyard Old Bush Vines Las Cruces (Cachapoal Valley): Enough cocoa-game-plum complexity to justify a long name. $45 B+ ->
  • 08 Estampa Gold Assemblage Carmenere (Colchagua Valley): Aroma Hide & Go Seek w/ spice & black fruit hiding behind green herbs & booze $22 B ->
  • 08 Montes Ltd Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere (Colchagua Valley): At this $ it's like hitting a tobacco & black fruit lottery. $15 B ->
  • 08 Hacienda Araucano Clos de Lolol (Colchagua Valley): 140 chars don't really do this elegant & refined red blend beauty due justice. $23 B+ ->
  • 07 Emiliana Coyam (Colchagua Valley): Textbook Chilean Bord'x-style blend, but it's holding a master clinic on smooth silky mouthfeel $29 B+ ->
  • 07 Casas del Bosque Gran Estate Private Reserve (Casablanca Valley): If the nose were more complex it'd be a quantum physics equation $50 A- ->
  • 09 Matthiasson White (Napa Valley): Stunningly vibrant (love the lime rind action). Setting the bar high for the future of CA whites. $35 A- ->
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