“To learn as we grow old
The secrets of our souls.”
– Question, Moody Blues
My intention today is not shock you into your Monday morning with cheesy Moody Blues lyrics (though I’ll admit to jamming out the bass line to Question dozens of times when I was in high school and songs like Question seemed really, really deep and important), but to call your attention to a blog post today by my friend, Wine Enthusiast editor Steve Heimoff.
The more astute reader will immediately recognize that I refrained from calling Steve a colleague, since in my mind that would actually be insulting him, though now that I think about it maybe I should have done that and then asked him for a small fee to remove the reference… anyway…
In said blog post, Steve talks about a recent Napa tasting in which he tasted some big-ass Cabernet wines and walked away thinking that many were, on the whole, quite balanced despite their, uhm, generous sizes. In reflecting on the tasting, he hits on what I consider the king-among-princess of a wine’s better qualities:
“Among all these impressionistic words… I think the most important is balance. Balance is central to wine’s quality.”
On this point, Steve and I are, using a term of which one of my friends is particularly fond, in “violent agreement.”
For my money, nothing, and I mean nothing, in a wine’s lineup of admirable qualities – including things like place of origin and pedigree – trumps balance…
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- 06 Lokoya Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Handsome poker face of blackberry & espresso; will show its hand in like 8 yrs $200 A- #
- 05 Verite “La Joie” (Sonoma County): Band-aid funk crashing an otherwise opulent black fruit party; Warning – for Brett-heads only! $150 B #
- 08 Kimmel Vineyards Chardonnay (Mendocino): Tiny production of a (maybe too) big wine; great acidity & minerals kick it up a notch. $32 B+ #
- 07 V. Sattui Vittorio’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): A black cherry & herbs aromatherapy bath after a very long day. $35 B+ #
- 08 V. Sattui Early Harvest White Riesling (CA): One of the tastiest, liveliest Rieslings you’ll find south of the WA state border. $18 B #
- 07 Volta Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Nice to welcome them back; this dark, big & beautifully balanced Cab was worth the wait. $60 A- #
- 05 Louis M. Martini Monte Rosso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma Valley): This one joined the Dark (ginormous dried fruit) Side. $86 B+ #
- 06 Marita’s Vineyard Select Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Fig, sandalwood & you do, in fact, go well together. $150 A- #
“Literally all my savings all went into the winery to keep it afloat… it was the most challenging time of my life.”
Winemaking, especially in these troubled economic times, is not for anyone whose skins might be thinner than your average Cabernet grape’s. Case in point: Volta Wines.
Longtime 1WineDude.com readers will no doubt recognize the name Volta – it’s one of the wines that more-or-less put me on the wine-reviewin’ map. I was the first person to ever critically review Volta’s inaugural Cabernet release publicly, and though the review predates my grading system for wine reviews, the rough equivalent I keep coming back to when I consider the balance of power, focus and suppleness in their first release is “A-” – in other words, an excellent wine and getting that right that early is a stellar achievement for a producer’s first try.
Lucky for me, my impression of the Volta 2005 Cab was by-and-large validated by others in the established wine media at the time, including my bro’ Gary Vaynerchuk – that’s the “puttin’ me on the map” part – and over the successive months I found myself often wondering How’s it going with the Volta guys? and Is Volta ever gonna release an `06?
The answers to those questions turned out to be “Not well” and “No,” respectively – a 2006 release never materialized because the entire Volta outfit almost tanked under the weight of the imploding economy.
Yikes. Turns out the blow wasn’t quite fatal, however.
It’s with great pleasure that I tell you that Volta is still alive and kicking – I am very pleased today to present not only the first critical review of Volta’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon release (is it appropriate to call this a “comeback” release already?), but also a limited-time discount on Volta wines for 1WineDude.com readers!
First, let’s talk about the 2007 release, and the journey it took to get there… then we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of the discount after the jump…
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Wine writers who work in print are a distrusting bunch.
That’s one of the conclusions that, while not exactly all “sunshine, peace, love & Marsha Brady,” is nonetheless a logical one that could be reached after you peruse the results of Tom Wark’s recent 2010 Wine Writers Survey.
Much has already been written on the subject of Tom’s survey results (my personal fave to date comes to us courtesy of the scathingly witty Tom Johnson), and while I tend to avoid “me too!” subject matter articles, not chiming in on the wine writing survey results (in which I participated as one who was surveyed) while attempting to make a living as a wine writer… well, that just felt odd.
In terms of what the hubbub is all about, the main point of contention is this: the survey results strongly suggest that print wine writers find on-line wine bloggers to be unreliable sources of wine information, and (less strongly) imply that print wine writers feel their livelihoods are threatened by a largely inexperienced cadre of on-line wine “writers.” Tom sums it all up nicely:
“In my view, the single most important point that would lead anybody, and in particular experienced wine writers, to downplay the credibility and trustworthiness of a blogger is the well know fact that there is absolutely no gatekeeper when it comes to who can publish a blog. There is no pre-assessment of the talent and skills of a wine blogger prior to their publishing. There is no editor that evaluates their skills and gives the blogger the job of writing about wine. Bottom line: A fourteen year old girl inhabiting the attic of her mother’s home on the North Dakota border with Canada and suffering from delusions can as easily start writing and publishing a wine blog as the most experienced wine writer living in the heart of Wine Country.”
The trouble for me is that the argument so far seems to be (at least partially) ignoring the very thing that sets on-line wine coverage apart from print…
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