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“Little Sweet One”: Tales of the Purple Monkey Returns for WBW #54!

Vinted on February 18, 2009 binned in Italian Wine, Tales of the Purple Monkey, wine blogging wednesday
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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!


Little sweet one…

I’m not talking about me.  Or Plumboo (that’s the monkey – who, now that my daughter is old enough to play with her toys, has been M.I.A. somewhere in her bedroom).

I’m talking about a grape from Piedmont. More on that in a minute.  Or two.

Plumboo (in spirit) and I (physically) are taking part in the 54th edition of the venerable blog carnival Wine Blogging Wednesday – this month hosted at fellow Philly-area blogger David McDuff’s Food & Wine Trail.

David has picked an exciting theme – “Passion for Piedmont.”  It’s not just exciting because I get to return to Tales of the Purple Monkey and drink Italian wine – which is exciting in and of itself, to me at least – but because David has decided to focus on what is arguably the most exciting wine region in Italy right now.

It wasn’t always like that, though.  Piedmont wine-making began sometime before the 13th century (started by the Etruscans or the Greeks – no one knows for sure which – followed by monks after the fall of the Roman Empire), but the wines weren’t considered to be particularly good (Piedmont doesn’t even get a mention in Pliny the Elder‘s list of best Italian vino).

My, how times have changed…

Tradition, geographical diversity, and modern wine-making techniques have combined to make Piedmont one of the most varied wine regions in all of Italy. As you will no doubt find from other wine blogger’s choices of wine reviews for this edition of WBW, Piedmont offers a staggering choice of wine styles from sparklers to everyday sipping reds to age-worthy, must-own-your-own-yacht priced Nebbiolo-based reds to sweet Passito dessert ‘stickies.’  This doesn’t account for the wide variety of styles within those styles, either.

Sure, Tuscan wines, especially the reds, are sexy.  But so much of Tuscan red wine (Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Brunello di Montalcino) are not so much variety as they are variations on a single theme – Sangiovese.  Now Piedmont – that’s variety!

Since I can’t try all of Piedmont’s various offerings in one night (believe me, I thought about it), Plumboo (in spirit) and I (physically) opted for Piedmont’s answer to everyday red wine – Dolcetto.

Dolcetto is one of the few low-acid Italian varietals, but it’s high-octane fruit delivery makes it easily accessible early (even in the versions that are built for longer aging).  It’s not sweet, despite the moniker, but most offerings (there are seven different production areas within Piedmont) fall into a category that is probably best described as a cross between French Beaujolais and jammy California Zinfandel.  Some are made as more serious fare, but Dolcettos are primarily fun wines, if a bit lacking in the sophisicated structure of other more “serious” Piedmontese reds.

For this WBW, Plumboo (in spirit) and I (physically) went with a high-production, readily available example: Pio Cesare’s 2007 Dolcetto d’Alba.

Our review:
It’s dark, like most Dolcettos, and on the nose offers alternating waves of candied fruit and black cherry, with some floral and spice elements to keep it interesting.  On the palate, the wine is agreeable, with a very drying finish.  Not really integrated or focused, but pleasing on the whole.

Fun and accessible, but not mind-blowing.  What do you want for $18, anyways?  Instead of Merlot, try picking up some Dolcetto party-making magic for your next get-together, and enjoy the long stares of approval at your sophisticated wisdom from your dinner guests.  You’re welcome!

For more on Piedmont wines, check out Bastianich & Lynch’s Vino Italiano.

Cheers!
(images: 1winedude.com, justerinis.com, dotcomwines.com)

Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Burgundy)

Vinted on February 16, 2009 binned in commentary, twitter taste live

Heart breaker, pain maker
Stole the love right out of you heart
Heart breaker, heart breaker
You stole the love right out of my heart
Heart breaker, heart breaker
I wanna tear your world apart
Doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo doo…

Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) by The Rolling Stones

wwwlayoutsparkscom-brokenheart-2This is an article about heartbreak.  Consider it a sobering day-after revelation after amorous and Champagne-filled Valentine’s Day celebrations.

It’s a tale that begins with a warning, hits the low of ultimate disappointment, and offers the possibility of redemption.  It’s also about the Rolling Stones, twitter.com, and Jermaine Jackson.

Oh, yeah – and wine.

Here’s the deal (and the wine part): Burgundy is a heartbreaker.

This is especially true of red Burgundy, which is made from Pinot Noir – a neurotic diva of a grape if there ever was one. White Burgundy, made from the relatively heartier Chardonnay grape, tends to fair better but is just as susceptible to Burgundy’s sometimes-unpredictable climate.  Throw in an insane set of laws (established under Napolean) that allows small plots of the same vineyard to be farmed by different owners, and you’ve got a recipe for wines with psychotic multiple personalities, despite the fact that winegrowing has probably been going on here since the time of the Celts.

But when those neurotic wine divas are feeling good – when the weather, microclimates, and stars align – these wines are so on that the best of them will blow your mind (as well as your bank account).  They can be fruity, sensously smooth, and deeply complex – as well as low-production, which means extremely high prices (some of the highest per bottle in the world).

2990087683_0205cb7e7cThere are, of course, less expensive Burgundy wines to be had, but decent ones are still upwards of $40 per bottle – just cheap enough that the brave of heart might take a chance, and just expensive enough that when those wines are on the neurotic side of inconsistent, those brave hearts are breaking hard, just like the Stones sang about on Goats Head Soup.

Actually, it’s more complex than that.  It’s more like in that video by Jermaine Jackson, “Do What You Do,” where he is wearing suspenders somewhere that looks like the FL keys, and he’s totally in love with his woman…  Only she has been hired to kill him, and she is totally torn and broken-up about it… And she comes in to the bathroom with a gun to kill him while he’s in the shower, only he knows she is trying to kill him and he’s not in the shower, he’s waiting in the wings with the police ’cause it’s a trap.  You are sooooo Guilty, beeeatch!  But you can tell by the way he furrows his brow and looks downward while he’s singing that the whole experience will haunt him for the rest of his life.

It’s that kind of heartbreak.

The problem with Burgundy is its inconsistency.  You can buy a wine that borders on sublime perfection one year, only to find that the same wine in a subsequent vintage tastes like left-over cabbage water that someone dumped into a urinal. Not that I know exactly what that tastes like, mind you.

At some point, budding wine lovers may find themselves asking the question, how best to navigate the dangerous waters of Burgundy?

splendorsofeuropecom-burgundy-29-approved-flickr-felicity-and-phillipAnd it’s a trick question, because Burgundy is land-locked.  Ha!

Anyway, the best way to avoid Burgundy heartbreak is to get to know some reliable Burgundy producers.  To do this, I often rely on people smarter than me (it’s not difficult to find these people) who can steer me towards Burgundy producers who are producing consistently emotionally stable wines.  This means you should talk to the experts at your local wine shop to help you select producers (actually negociants) that are not too expensive but are making consistently good quality Burgs and are looking to constantly improve.

Which brings us to twitter (and you thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you…).

Last week I had the pleasure of taking part in yet another Twitter Taste Live event hosted by BinEndsWine.com, with the featured wines being from Burgundy.  Fortunately, the wines were from producers who are churning out consistently tasty vino.  Case in point: the much-improved wines of Nicolas Potel, which aren’t exactly cheap but are by no means over-priced for their quality.  I found Potel’s Volnay to be particularly tasty and complex – my mini-review:

05 Nicolas Potel Volnay Vieilles Vignes (Volnay): Berry cobbler w/ bacon. A finish so smooth, you could slip on it. But it sure ain’t free.

2449165Certainly worth the cash if you’d like to see what all the Burgundy fuss is about without getting your wine-loving heart stomped on.  For maximum effect, I recommend drinking this wine from a huge, pretentious-looking red Burgundy glass (while watching a Jermaine Jackson video to remind yourself of how it could have been much, much worse if you’d not heeded the Dude’s advice…).

——————————————————————

Cheers!

(images: layoutsparks.com, splendorsofeurope.com, 1winedude.com)

Burgundy on Foodista

Reminder: Wine Knowledge Makes You a Sexy Beast!

Vinted on February 14, 2009 binned in commentary, wine news

Happy Valentine’s Day, all you hot-blooded lov87ers out there!

I was talking about wine lovers, of course… what were you thinking??

Given all of the Dude’s travel and wine blogging migration work recently, I will be spending a nice quiet night at home with my ladies (Mrs. Dudette and our little Dudette-let).   And of course a special bottle of wine (probably C. Donatiello‘s Rose – don’t look for it, they only give it out to friends of the winery).

I wanted to take the time to remind you all that wine knowledge makes you sexier.  Read the linked post – I’m not makin’ this stuff up!

Cheers – and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hello World?? 1WD? WTF?!?? (or "We’re Movin’ On Up!")

Vinted on February 10, 2009 binned in about 1winedude blog

Those of you who have been trying to visit www.1WineDude.com today have probably noticed that it looks a little… well… screwed up.

And I mean, more screwed up than usual.

That’s because 1WineDude.com is in the process of moving. This little blog is gettin’ all grows up’d, and is (finally) moving to its own web host on the WordPress platform.

Why am I doing this?

Mostly because Blogger, the platform that I’ve used for a few different blogs for several years, has gone kind of crazy lately, and continues to tag my blog as SPAM and locking it. Now, I know that some of my posts don’t make a lot of sense, but hitting me with a SPAM tag is probably taking things a tad too far.

Anyway, in the not too distant future, www.1WineDude.com will no longer send you here. It will send you to a brand new website. Different look, same content.

Or, as they say: New Label. Same Old Plonk!

For now, 1WineDude.com will take you to a generic WordPress template. Hello World! Just like the Jeffersons, we’re movin’ on up!

Cheers!

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