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The Passing of Papa Pinot (David Lett, 1939-2008)

Vinted on October 14, 2008 binned in commentary
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HiYa! If you're new here, you may want to Sign Up to get all the latest wine coolness delivered to your virtual doorstep. I've also got short, easily-digestible mini wine reviews and some educational, entertaining wine vids. If you're looking to up your wine tasting IQ, check out my book How to Taste Like a Wine Geek: A practical guide to tasting, enjoying, and learning about the world's greatest beverage. Cheers!

I was sad to hear of the passing of David Lett last week, at the young age of 69.

David wasn’t as much of a household name as Robert Mondavi or Rodney Strong, but he was every bit as influential in putting U.S. wine on the map as his more visible peers. What Mondavi did for Napa, and Strong did for Sonoma, Lett did for Oregon wine.

In 1965, Lett came to the Willamette Valley looking for U.S. conditions that closely matched those of Burgundy, in order to make exceptional Pinot Noir. It didn’t bother him that the region had been widely dismissed as being too cold to make decent wine.

After selling textbooks to pay the bills, he created Eyrie Vineyards, and in 1979 entered his `75 South Block Reserve Pinot Noir into a French wine competition. It came in 3rd, besting some notable Burgundies.

Because the French are, well, French, this pissed then off and they held the competition again the following year. Lett’s wine came in 2nd; Oregon was no longer in wine-making obscurity – “Papa Pinot” had put them on the map.

To this day, Eyrie is still a great producer of age-worthy Pinot Noir and stellar Pinot Gris – both of which have previously found their way to the Dude & Dudette wedding anniversary dinnner table, which is no simple feat because I am a picky bastard when it comes to my wedding anniversary wines. Oh, yeah – lots of other critics and wine lovers dig it, to.

So today we tip our virtual hats to Papa Pinot, in gratitude for what he’s done for U.S. wine (and for my dinner table experiences!).

Cheers! (images: latimes.com)

A Turn on High Voltage Wine: Volta Wine’s Inaugural Offering

Vinted on October 13, 2008 binned in best of, California wine, organic wine, wine review

You know what kicks ass?

The movie IRON MAN. That film devastates when I watch it on the 50″ Sony HDTV in my basement.

You know what else stomps all kinds of gluteus maximus?

1WineDude.com readers! Especially when those readers make wine. Like Steve Lau of Volta Wine, which is releasing its inaugural Cabernet Sauvignon vintage (2005) this Fall. Steve contacted me as a fan of the blog and someone who grew up in my current stomping ground of Pennsylvania, wondering if I’d like to try their single-vinyeard, Howell Mountain Cab.

Howell Mountain? Would I like to try it? Hello! Does the Pope wear a hat?!?? Despite the fact that this kind of thing consistently gets me in trouble in the wine blog-o-world, I advised Steve to send me a bottle with all speed.

I tried Volta’s Cab. this past weekend. And it’s very, very good. The blackberry and plum coming off this wine is outrageously pure on the nose and on the palate, and the mouthfeel is smooth as silk. That Howell Mountain fruit is somehow lush but at the same time the tannins have a laser focus. The only thing I didn’t like about this wine was the high Voltage – at 15% abv, the wine’s booze power is no joke. But I was digging it, and it’s one of the few 14.5%+ abv wines that I’ve really been able to get behind lately without feeling like someone is trying to beat me up.

Still, I hesitated to write about the wine here, because at 291 cases produced, most 1WD readers are unlikely to be getting their hands on the stuff. BUT… with plans to branch out with other single-vineyard releases of Southern Rhone varietals from Sonoma and Riesling from Yakima, Volta might just be a producer to watch for high quality (but potentially high voltage) vino. Plus, they source grapes that are farmed organically so they’re adding to the growing list of wines that are proving wrong my theory that organic wines bite donkey bong


I asked Steve for some insight on how the Volta got its start and what the winery is all about. According to Steve:

I grew up in Pennsylvania. I was involved in the music industry for many years, first as an artist on Warner Brothers and then running a label called Kinetic records for Warner’s. I took some time off about four years ago at which point I met my partner who was, at the time, leaving the mortgage business. (Timely exits from two tanking industries I guess).

Long story short, after a fascination with wine for most of my adult life and a discussion with a friend who was importing wine in Amsterdam, we decided to explore the wine industry and went to the wine program at Culinary Institute in the Napa Valley. From there we just kind of dove in head first talking to as many people as we could about starting a new project, finding a facility, a winemaker and sourcing premium organic fruit.

It’s been an incredible journey, one that the more we learn, the more we realize how much we have to learn. Our winery is in Sonoma at a facility which is owned by a guy that is the former winemaker at Etude, Scott Rich. (He makes an awesome Pinot called Talisman.) Our winemaker is a a really cool guy named Massimo Montecelli. He’s a fourth generation winemaker and his entire family in in the business. He was the winemaker at Silver Oak, his brother is the winemaker for Trinchero family’s premium line and his dad was the first winemaker for E.J. Gallo back in the early seventies and is still running their wine making today. Phil Cotouri, our vineyard manager, is the leading organic vineyard manager in the Sonoma and Napa Valleys. We feel privileged to be working with such generous and talented people.

So there you have it. Good peeps, and very good unfiltered and unfined single-vineyard wine. Plus, I managed to combine Volta Wine, IRON MAN, and AC/DC in the same post. Better quit while I’m ahead…

Cheers!
(images: blog.al.com, bigpond-images.com, 1WineDude.com,)

Baked Goods: Announcing Wine Blogging Wednesday 51(WineDude) Edition!

Vinted on October 10, 2008 binned in wine blogging wednesday

I have the pleasure – and honor – of announcing the next Wine Blogging Wednesday theme, #51 (or as I like to call it, “the 51WineDude Edition!”), hosted this time right here on 1WineDude.com. Special thanks to WBW founder Lenn over at Lenndevours for throwing WBW #51 my way!

The Theme:
Dude has a serious sweet-tooth. Therefore, November’s WBW theme will be dessert-wine related! And the theme is…

Baked Goods – wines that are deliberately heated, or Madeirized. According to the way-cool wine glossary at RedWineBuzz.com, Madeirized wines describes the “intentional oxidation of grapes in an estufa (hothouses used for this purpose in Madeira, where these wines are made). The resulting wines (typically whites) are sweet and caramelized in taste.”

These wines often also have nutty aromas, a honey-like mouthfeel, and distinctive bronzed color. Yumminess! Examples include (of course) Madeira, but also wines in other parts of the world such as Australia’s Rutherglen Tokays.

Now, Lenn and I do realize that these wines are not always easy to come by, so we’re also allowing sweet Fortified wines into WBW 51(WineDude), which should provide enough options for everyone to contribute. For great examples of the styles of wines you can choose for this round of WBW, check out the excellent dessert wine production overview page at MusingsOnTheVine.com



The Logistics
:
WBW 51WineDude Edition will take place on Wednesday, November 12.

The way that WBW works (in summary): You get a wine that lines up with the theme, you review said wine, post your review, and send a link to the host, who will then summarize the event and write a wrap-up with a link to your review. Nothin’ to it!

So, to participate in this round of WBW, post a comment to 1WineDude.com on or before Nov. 12 (either comment on this post, or to the post on Nov. 12). and include the link to your review.

It’s gonna be a sweet time, people!

Cheers!
(images: winebloggingwednesday.org, cupcakesgourmet.com)

Turning Wine into Water (Wine Blogging Wednesday #50)

Vinted on October 8, 2008 binned in Tales of the Purple Monkey, wine blogging wednesday


In this exciting edition of Tales of the Purple Monkey, Plumboo (that’s the monkey) and I brave the wilds of Africa, don’t actually taste any wine, and then urge you not to buy a wine that I will recommend. Sort of. Then we end with an exciting announcement that I promise will be wine-related!

Plumboo and I are once again taking part in the ongoing super-cool blog carnival Wine Blogging Wednesday, this month (its 50th!) hosted by Russ Beebe over at his fine Winehiker Witiculture blog.

Russ’ theme for WBW’s 50th is a novel one: in summary, a favorite hike and a favorite wine to sip after that hike.

The Wine
I’m going to start with the wine, just because I’m incorrigible. I don’t know about you, but Mrs. Dudette and I really dig vigorous hikes and we’re fond of taking our dog out on said hikes with us, in order to have him tire out and later suitably calm down to the energy level of a normal canine.

I don’t know about you, but Dude is usually thirsty after a vigorous hike. So I want something crisp, cold, and refreshing at the end of it. Crisp, cold, and refreshing makes Plumboo and I immediately think of Sauvignon Blanc – specifically, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc


The great thing about NZ SB is the balance. Mouth-watering Acidity? Check. Tasty Citrus fruit? Check. Pleasing Grassy aromas & complex minerality? Check, and check. In fact, my mouth is watering just thinking about NZ SB. If Plumboo had a mouth, his would be watering, too.

A kickin’ example of the awesomeness that NZ SB has to offer is Cloudy Bay. It’s not difficult to find, and is reasonably priced if you get the latest vintage early enough. Cloudy Bay hails from the Wairau Valley in Marlborough (in the north of NZ’s South Island), where the grapes get the most sunshine of any area in NZ – and it shows in the hint of exotic fruits that you get from a typical Cloudy Bay.

Now, what Plumboo and I kindly request that you do is to set aside enough cash for 2 bottle of Cloudy Bay, and then only buy one bottle. Which will make sense after we tell you about the hiking portion of this WBW.

The Hike
The coolest hike I’ve ever taken was in Kenya, Africa, just outside the Maasai Mara. This hike took Mrs. Dudette and I from Alex Walker’s Serian Tented Camp through the arid bush, to a local school.

Our hike was brilliant and largely without incident, unless you count a fellow Serian guest from the U.K. and I running around with spears and “dispatching” a few large termite mounds during our trek. We did run into a not-so-happy male giraffe who wasn’t sure if he wanted anything to do with us or not – which doesn’t sound threatening until you realize that a) an adult giraffe could kill you instantly with one kick (though your grave would be in multiple locations, because whatever body part its leg touches first would undoubtedly be disconnected ungraciously from the rest of your body), and b) your puny spear is more of a walking stick than an actual means of protection against an animal roughly 5 times your size. And yes, you do thinkk about those things when you encounter a giraffe in the wild…

Anyway, what really blew us away on this hike was the school. Or, more specifically, the children at the school. The conditions that these children and their teachers deal with on a daily basis is shocking, which makes their dedication to learning and teaching all the more impressive. If you’re a parent, you’d probably have a hard time contemplating sending your child on a hike that might take hours through countryside that contains dangerous animals to a school room illuminated with one light bulb, where they rely on rainwater collection systems for their fresh water needs.

The children were mostly just happy and grateful to be there. That’s because there are many children nearby in Kenya who can’t go to school at all – they spend their entire day gathering potable water for their home and community, leaving no time to attend school.

Which brings me back to our little request:

Instead of buying two bottles of that Cloudy Bay, please consider buying one bottle, and DONATE the funds of the ‘other bottle’ to help relieve the water crisis in Kenya, and get potable water into Kenyan communities.
You will be ‘turning wine ito water’, in a way, and helping to bring relief to your other human brothers and sisters who are sorely in need. And, you still get to drink one bottle of kick-ass Cloudy Bay.

Just watch out for those pissed-off evil giraffes


Exciting Wine-Related Announcement
And finally… assuming no giraffe incidents between now and then the next Wine Blogging Wednesday will be hosted right here on 1WineDude.com! Stay tuned to 1WineDude.com this Friday for the official announcement and WBW #51(WineDude) theme!

Cheers!
(images: 1Winedude.com, telegraph.co.uk)


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