An alternative title for this article might be “Sorry, But I Gotta Be Me” or “The 2010 Wine Blog Awards Messed With My Head.”
One thing that I know about good, compelling blogging (because that’s the stuff that I like to read) is that you can’t be afraid to bare all and let readers inside of your head.
Which entre nous, if I want to take this blog up a notch (and I do), might mean making us both a little uncomfortable from time to time.
Like now, maybe. Sorry, but I gotta be me.
I’ve been thinking about the WBAs lately because the “trophy” just arrived in the mail – a very nice (and, my wife noted, rather phallic) Riedel decanter with the WBA 2010 logo and the words “Best Overall Wine Blog – 1WineDude” etched indelibly onto the front (see inset pic and… jesus jumped-up christ, what’s with all of the gray hair on my head?!??).
Anyway… the thing is, the Wine Blog Awards did kind of mess with my head. The part that really got me into the baking-your-noodle-to-a-crisp-golden-brown territory was trying to figuring out what the award meant, in the grand scheme of things.
Some would argue “not much.” Others will tell you that it’s a bit like the Oscars with a dash of the People’s Choice Awards thrown in for good measure. Truth be told, it still makes me uncomfortable to read the description of the Best Overall Wine Blog category; I just don’t yet see 1WineDude.com as competing with the best of the best of all wine media, or advancing the genre of wine blogging significantly enough to make any real difference…
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Because I’m perpetually behind in all aspects of my life, I now find myself spending time that I don’t have perusing productivity websites looking for ways to get time “back.” So far, I’m (at best) breaking even in terms of getting back the time I spend perusing productivity websites.
One of the cardinal sins of productivity these days is multitasking, which is almost universally derided as the enemy of true efficacy. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me well when I tell you that I resorted to multitasking in order to get through a backlog of wine and wine product samples to review.
What you might call shiftless otioseness, I call adding value.
So, I used a product sample to open a wine sample, and poured that wine sample through another product sample (into a glass that I purchased myself, so that part won’t get reviewed – I do have some limit on the number of freebies to be strung together (apparently, that limit is three).
The result – a review of the True Utility Twistick, the massive 2006 Luce Della Vite red, and the Vinturi Wine Aerator (yeah, I know – I’m the last wine guy alive to try the Vinturi). I had fun, but didn’t get to the semi-orgasmic status suggested by the image on the back of one of the products (see inset pic).
Man, I’m already tired and I haven’t even gotten into any details yet. Can you just come back tomorrow? No? Fine, let’s get started…
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To put it mildly, today’s interviewee guest is a bona fide bad-ass rock star. Oh, yeah – he happens to know his wine, as well.
Geoff Tate is best known as the voice behind uber-rockers Queensryche, who garnered critical acclaim after releasing the brilliant hard rock concept album Operation: Mindcrime in 1988 – followed shortly afterwards by a chronicle of their ambitious live rendition of the entire album (Operation: Livecrime, which on a bad-ass scale of 1 to 10 comes in somewhere around a 37). Their 1990 studio release, Empire, went triple-platinum and catapulted Queensryche into cross-over super-stardom, launching about a thousand copy-cat hard rock acts who tried – but never quite matched – the uniqueness of Empire’s best-known track, the power-ballad Silent Lucidity.
In other words, Queensryche ruled hard-rock in the early `90s.
They’ve been rocking ever since, maintaining a hard-edged musical integrity, exploring social themes, and continuing to push their own boundaries even when those directions meant less fame. A core group of fans have followed them throughout, and Queensryche is currently touring in support of their latest release, American Soldier, a chronicle of wartime experiences based on conversations with American military personnel, and consequently one of their boldest artistic statements to date.
Tate, a Washington native, has been making wine with Walla Walla producer Three Rivers Winery for the last few years, starting off with a Bordeaux-style red blend called Insania and recently adding a Bordeaux-style white blend to the Insania lineup.
I tasted samples of the 2009 Insania White and 2008 Insania Red, and found both quite good and clearly made with food pairing in mind. the wines might not be to everyone’s tastes (the Insania red being relatively big at 14.5% abv) but it will take only one sniff to dispel any doubts that the wines aren’t serious, or that they’re simply another celebrity vanity project.
The 2009 white (mostly Sauvignon Blanc) is the simpler of the two, with tasty melon and citrus moving into a “fleshy” mouthfeel (thanks to a healthy dose of barrel-fermented Semillon). It’s not svelte, but clearly the fruit from Red Mountain’s Klipsun vineyard (which makes up over half the Insania white blend) has great potential; here it delivers a wine that totally rocks with shrimp and avocado burritos.
The 2008 Insania Red (primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, with dollops of Merlot, Malbec and a tiny portion of Cab Franc) offers complexity on the nose that one wouldn’t expect from a wine sourced from six different vineyards. The almost sweet and very dark fruit is complimented by cedar and black olive notes, and there’s enough acidity in Insania to tame its brooding tannins with a beef filet; it might be big, but it’s anything but dumb.
Geoff was kind enough to take some time out of the Queensryche touring schedule to answer a few questions about Insania and offer his take on several wine topics. What follows is an insight into a wine-knowledgeable hard-rocking brain, and fans of Queensryche’s music will not be surprised to find that Geoff has strong opinions – specifically, on where to go for wine recommendations, pairing wine with fine cuisine, and wine’s role in American society.
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