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1WineDude | A Serious Wine Blog for the Not-So-Serious Drinker - Page 321

1WD @ WLTV & TTL (Have Acronym, Will Drink!)

Vinted on November 20, 2008 binned in 1WD LIVE, twitter, twitter taste live
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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!

What, too many acronyms for ya? WTF!??

I wanted to send a big THANK YOU out to Gary V. for mentioning me & 1WineDude.com on a recent episode of Wine Library TV. Thanks, bro!

I also want to send out a big CONGRATS to the fine guys over at Volta wine, whose wine Gary reviewed on the same episode. As frequent 1WD readers will recall, 1WD was the first ever media review of Volta’s inaugural wine. Good guys, really, really good wine, and a fantastic start for such a newcomer on the wine scene. I’m personally very glad to see Volta tearing it up and getting stellar reviews, and I’m looking forward to watching how their wines progress in the years to come (and hoping that they keep sending me some of the Howell Mountain goodness!)…

Click below to watch Gary’s show in its entirety:
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The other way-cool thing going on this week is that we have two – count ‘em, twoTwitter Taste Live wine tasting events going on before the end of the week!

The first of these is being hosted by the venerable Dr. Vino (Tyler Colman). The theme is “Drink Local!” and is a response by Tyler to the annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau (which can be sort of like the Bud Light of wine). I will be drinking (surprise!) the local Penns Woods 2004 Ameritage red blend for the event.

This TTL kicks off TONIGHT at 8PM ET. You can check back here on this post to follow the action live below, and also to get a recap of the event. Details on how you can participate can be found on TwitterTasteLive.com.

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And finally -don’t forget that tomorrow night at 8PM ET, there is yet another TTL event - this time we will be tasting wine for charity, sampling the vino from Humanitas. Check out more about the story behind Humanitas at their website.

I will be posting tomorrow so that you can follow along live, or, if unlike me you have a life on Friday nights, you will be able to catch a recap of the twitter-ing (that probably isn’t a word, is it?).

Cheers!

Ditch Your Wine Tasting "Training Wheels" (The Trouble With Wine Ratings, Part 3)

Vinted on November 19, 2008 binned in commentary, wine review

“Scores are like your training wheels – hopefully you take them off at some point.” – Joel Peterson

I’ve never been a big fan of wine ratings or wine scoring systems. Mostly because I don’t know anyone who speaks in ratings. Even sports fans (who, justifiably, love numbers, rankings, and comparisons) don’t really speak in ratings.

Man, the Steelers offensive line was totally an 87 in last night’s game…

Preposterous.

I also find it odd that wine rating talk generates so much passion when it is discussed. As cases in point, I offer two recent examples:

  1. Wine Enthusiast editor Steve Heimoff’s critique of Mutineer magazine’s critique of wine ratings (and Mutineer editor Alan Kropf’s response).
  2. A thread on the excellent wine social networking website OpenWineConsortium.org, titled “What are the faults with the 100 point [wine rating] system” which, as of this writing, has eleven pages of responses.

I shudder to think of the cross-talk that might ensue on the web in response to the granddaddy of wine rating lists, Wine Spectators’ Top 10 Wines of the year (only five of which I’ve actually sampled…).

Me, I’ve changed my tune slightly on wine ratings since I wrote two articles about the trouble with wine ratings (Part 1 and Part 2). That’s because I’ve come to realize something very important when it comes to wine ratings…

There is no trouble with wine ratings.

Think about it – there is no harm at all in rating a wine. In fact, wine ratings have played an integral part in wine criticism, which itself has played an integral part in furthering wine into the incredibly exciting state that it’s in today. There are over 7,000 wine brands available to U.S. wine consumers – somebody has to help consumers make sense of it all. As former wine writer and Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson told me recently over lunch (much more to come on that, by the way, in an upcoming post): “If we didn’t have wine critics, we’d have to invent them!”

The trouble comes in how the ratings are used.

A rating system makes an assumption that there is an absolute,” said Joel. “We know that there are no absolutes. It’s a more measure of like than of absolute quality.”

To back up his observation, Joel told me a story about a tasting experiment that he performed with a group of experienced wine tasters: he took all of the Zinfandels that he could find that scored 90+ points in the big wine mags, and had them taste the wines blind. The result: all of the wines scored between 85 and 96 points.

Joel then took all of the 90+ scoring wines from that tasting and had them taste those wines again at a later time. The result: the wines scored between 85 and 96 points!

Scoring is relative, and it’s naturally tailored to the taster’s palate. The trouble is, people put too much faith in scores without reading the fine print.

Joel’s take: “Robert Parker was really the change-over point. A wine critic can make make or break a wine in the same way that a music critic can make or break a live music performance. Scores are like your training wheels – hopefully you take them off at some point.”

Would you ride down the street proudly on your shiny Schwinn bicycle with banana seat, handlebar horn, and red sparkle paint job with training wheels still attached? All the while bragging to your friends about how you only ride bikes with training wheels on them?

Well, that’s pretty much what you’re doing if you decide to only buy wines from the Wine Spectator top 100 list, or if you insist that a sommelier only show you wines rating 94 points or above when dining at a restaurant.

Where you goin’, training-wheel boy??

Far better, I think, to discover your own palate.

And then ditch those training wheels.

Cheers!
(images: allposters.com, ehow.com)

…And They All Got Baked… (Wine Blogging Wednesday #51 Wrap-Up)

Vinted on November 17, 2008 binned in wine blogging wednesday

Wow.

To say that I was impressed by the energy, turn out, and quality of the Wine Blogging Wednesday #51 participant posts would be an understatement.

Sort of like saying that the Grand Canyon is a minor geological anomaly. That kind of understatement.

To be perfectly honest, I was dreading (somewhat) having to carve out the time to read each entry for the event. That dread quickly turned into anticipation as my perceived labor became a labor of love.

And that is entirely due to the high quality of your posts – for those who participated, I can’t thank you enough.

Once again, Wine Blogging Wednesday drew participants from varied backgrounds, different areas of wine-world involvement, multiple countries, and represented nearly the entire spectrum of wine expertise…

For those who didn’t participate, below you are links to some great reads on a wine category that gets precious little attention these days – fortified wines – but whose expression can be just as sublime and enchanting as any of the typical, more attention-grabbing styles (for an excellent primer on some of this, check out K2′s Madeira overview at the Wine Blog).

If you’re still skeptical as to the power, finesse, and quality of baked / madeirized / oxidized / fortified wines, witness these two posts from two venerable and long-standing wine bloggers:

If that doesn’t convince you, then you’re probably not paying attention.

Following are links to the other fine articles from the event’s participants, roughly in the order I received them.

Some revisited old faves, others tried something new, and many, many of them were pleasantly surprised by what sweet and fortified wines had to offer. If you’re thinking of taking a plunge into the world of kick-ass fortified wines, you’d do well to read these posts as they offer a great summary of what’s available to you on the market.

If you participated in WBW #51 and I didn’t link to you below, please accept my apology in advance and leave me a comment here so I can rectify the situation!

In case any further proof is needed that WBW #51, in the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, “totally CRUSHED it,” and also stomped it, killed it, and ripped off it’s head to feast upon its supple eye jelly (sorry Gary, couldn’t resist that one either), check out the way-cool WBW #51 mention on Wine Biz Radio – you can listen to the raw TalkShoe recording below, or download the entire show.

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Cheers!
(images: 1WineDude.com gpb.org)

Blind Tasting Smackdown: East Coast Vs. West Coast!

Vinted on November 14, 2008 binned in best of, California wine, Penns Woods, pennsylvania, wine tasting

Actually, it’s not so much a smackdown as, it turns out, a comparison of apples and oranges. Or, a comparison of Old World style vs. New World style.

After visiting both Opus One and Penns Woods Winery, located on the Left and Right Coasts, respectively, I thought it would be interesting to host a blind tasting between the 2005 vintages of both winery’s Bordeaux-style red blends.

What would a clash of the titans like this prove?

Not much, it turns out, but it was an enlightening experience, and one that you will want to read if you appreciate differing styles of fine wines, and are interested in a bit of a litmus test on how far wines from both coasts of America have come…

Or, if you want to read the extremely geeky musings of two wine dorks.

Your call…

Anyway, for this blind tasting, I was reunited with my 2WineDudes partner in crime, Jason Whiteside, who was in town taking a few of his exams for the WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits. The wines (hereby referred to as Wine 1 and Wine 2, until such time as their true identity is revealed) were decanted a few hours before our tasting, and neither Jason nor I knew which wine was poured into which decanter. Both wines were then poured into separate (but identical) Riedel wine glasses.

Following is the uber-geeky tasting play-by-play:

The Visuals

  • Jason: “There’s really good color in both of these wines. Wine 1 is Ruby with a nice garnet hue, and it fades more at the rim than Wine 2, which suggests that it wasn’t handled as gently. Wine 2 is deep ruby with blue tinges and nice pink legs.”
  • Joe: “I really want to drink both of these suckers.”

The Nose

  • Jason: “I definitely get a Pennsylvania harvest/Autumn leaf aroma on Wine 1. Lots of smoke, not quite as complex as Wine 2. Plenty of bright red fruit, with black cherry, currants, spice (coriander and cocoa), and Macadam/tar. The finish on Wine 2 is waaaaay long and the wine is more concentrated – bakers chocolate is going on here, Lots of oak, menthol, and heat. Wine 1 might have had more exposure to oxygen and is a little more reductive. “
  • Joe: “Wine 1 is more subtle on the nose. I’m getting a lighter red fruit on it than Wine 2, which suggests PA more than CA. Wine 2 is very dark with more fruit, I’m thinking figs, mint leaf and plums. I’m not going to spit either of these, though…”

The Palate

  • Jason: “Wine 1 is mineral-forward. The finish isn’t extraordinary, but it’s good. It’s got medium intensity and great acidity; it’s just really well-balanced. It’s very Italian in style, weight, and acidity. If you hadn’t told me these wines were from PA and CA, I’d have thought this wine was from Tuscany. Wine 2 has more dry extract, it’s got to be riper, thicker-skinned grapes. Wine 1 has to be PA, and Wine 2 is from CA.”
  • Joe: “Wine 1 has ‘greener’ fruit to me. I would’ve expected a little more on the length of the finish though, based on how well the wine showed up on the nose and on the visuals. Wine 2 has more oak tannin, I think, and good acidity; it feels like a wine built for a “longer haul” to me. By the way, what the hell is dry extract?”

The Verdict

  • Checking in with Mrs. Dudette confirmed our assessment that Wine 1 was Penns Woods Ameritage, and Wine 2 was Opus One.
  • Jason: “At a quick glance, these wines look and feel very similar. But when you investigate them more deeply, they are very, very different wines. What’s striking is how the different raw materials – the grapes – come through, even with two flawlessly crafted wines; which these both are.
  • Joe: “Totally agree. Bottom line for me is that Penns Woods is aiming for an Old World style, and the wine totally begs to be sampled with food. Opus has more of a New World/CA thing going on. Both are clearly made with passion. Let’s get stupid on the rest of this stuff!

There you have it. East Coast meets West Coast turns out to be more like Old World Italy meets New World California. Who’da thunk it?

Cheers!
(images: 1WineDude.com)

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