“No one really gets to try older Long Island wine… because, well, there really isn’t any!”
James Silver, General Manager of Peconic Bay Winery, was telling me about the dearth of older vintages for LI wine, as we stood on a small deck last weekend, overlooking their Cutchogue, NY property near the eastern edge of Long Island’s North Fork. The sun was just starting to gain the strength it would need to banish the cloud cover and make for great outdoor picnic-and-wine-tasting weather (it would eventually prove triumphant), and the Peconic Bay staff was below us, a cadre of young, energetic mostly-twenty-somethings in PB t-shirts, bustling about like honeybees and getting the property ready for the days’ event – which happened to be, in an odd collision of personal worlds, my band’s trio performance under the “porch tent” for the afternoon.
James grew up in Chester County, PA, which my band calls home, and after discovering that a) I had a band and b) we were from Chester County, the urge to conjure up a Chester Co. Connection proved too great for him to pass up. Either that, or it helped him forget about the fact that taxes in LI were about a billion times higher than they were in his hometown.
I was serving double-duty, of course – no self-respecting wine geek shows up in LI on the same day that 20+ years of local Merlot are being poured and doesn’t try to crash that tasting. As James pointed out, it doesn’t happen everyday in an emerging wine region where the oldest vines generally tend to date back, at most, to the mid-eighties. My band was due to start playing only about an hour after the tasting would end, but there was no way I was going to miss this – screw ‘em, they’d have to settle for me setting up my bass gear in manic-mode just before soundcheck. Twelve vintages of Peconic Bay Merlot dating back to `89 were being poured that morning, with all but three of them being made by Peconic Bay winemaker Greg Gove (the `89, `95 and `97 were products of the late Ray Blum who helped to found the winery)…
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I think traditional American wine-writing may have totally jumped the shark.
Yeah, I am actually going there. And yeah, it will probably take around 1100 words.
You see, last week marked my (extremely) long-overdue second contribution to Nomad Editions’ iPad wine magazine, Uncorked. The long-overdue part is entirely my fault – things have been busy, as in senator-on-the-campaign-trail-trying-to-hide-his-mistresses-from-the-press level busy, enough so to keep me from contributing weekly.
The Uncorked story is titled “My Andean Adventure: One wine dude’s search for the soul of South American wine” and it’s core topic is more-or-less my bout with the Chilean version of Montezuma’s Revenge (you know the title isn’t mine, because I would have called it “Joe’s Colon Vs. The Diabolically Banal South American Budget Wines” or something similarly tasteless), and includes photos of mine as well, taken on a camera that costs less than $200, and so marks one of the few times that I’ve also been a contributing photographer (cue eye-rolling from any serious photographer reading this). You’ll have to subscribe to read the article, but at less than $1 per month for a weekly wine mag that includes regular contributors like Tom Johnson (of Louisville Juice) and sommelier / award-winning author Courtney Cochran, you’d have to be a pretty hard-ass cheapskate wine lover to pass it up.
The thing that got me musing about wine writing jumping the shark was that my first draft of the Andean wine travels article was rejected summarily by Uncorked’s editor, (writer and winemaker) Stephen Yafa. Stephen’s words from the Editor’s Note of last week’s issue:
“When Joe Roberts sent in his article on wine-touring in Chile and Argentina, the piece was wrong for all the right reasons. It was objective, balanced and unemotional. It wasn’t Uncorked, or Joe.”
Stephen is an excellent editor, and like all good editors he has knack for being right…
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In this episode of 1WineDude TV, I share the results of a “field test” of Clif Family Winery’s “The Climber” pouch wine from the 20th annual Summer Solstice Music festival outside of Philly, a charity event for which my band has performed (clips included in the vid) for… well… quite a few of those twenty years! I then wax dime-store-philosophic about why Cabernet Sauvignon in a pouch/box/bag is probably a bad idea (attention box/bag/pouch producers: can we get some Barbera or Gamay in that packaging, please?).
Mentioned in this episode: