Short Answers, Long Finishes And Seesaws (Tasting With The Grandfather Of Modern Chilean Winemaking At Viña Morandé)

Vinted on May 19, 2011 binned in kick-ass wines, on the road, overachiever wines

You don’t really know a winemaker until you’ve shared a seesaw ride with him.  That’s my new mantra after visiting Viña Morandé’s “House of Morandé” restaurant and tasting bar (oh, yeah – and playground) just outside of Santiago in Chile.

The playground is for the kiddies, to keep them occupied while mom and dad taste some wine.  At least, that’s the company line from Pablo Morandé, winemaking director at Viña Morandé.

Pablo comes off as a series, polite man; he’s tall, with white-grey hair, and a matter-of-fact look about him. When asked questions, his answers are short, to-the-point, and delivered with a sort of “of course this is the answer” confidence that comes from being one of the pioneers of modern winemaking in the area.  In other words, they’re hopelessly non-quotable; but who needs quotes when you’re sharing a seesaw moment, right?

Being the pioneering granddaddy of modern winemaking in these parts is, of course, relative – it means you’ve been making wine since, say, 1996, and not 1896, so “grandfather” might not be totally appropriate a moniker. But when you see Pablo Morandé, I defy you not to think “grandfather.” When you meet Pablo Morandé, there is no way in hell you’re not going to be thinking “grandfather.”

Anyway, I consider it a Vatican-worthy minor-miracle that we got Pablo Morandé on the seesaw.  But then, after finishing up a tasting and lunch at his restaurant during which he wasn’t spitting, it probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise after all, despite his serious demeanor (I’m guessing that the wines helped).

What has Pablo Morandé learned in his relatively long Chilean winemaking tenure? In summary: do less

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Georges Duboeuf Wine Book Of The Year Awards, Concluded (“Best Of The Best” Giveaway!)

Vinted on May 18, 2011 binned in book reviews, giveaways, going pro

Last week in my continuing saga as judge in the Georges Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year Awards, we took a look at the finalists that didn’t make my cut into the “top three” votes for the award (and gave away a copy of Charlie Olken’s excellent New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wine and Wineries in the process).

This week, we’re going to look at the three that did make that cut, with my explanations as to why I chose them, exactly as I reported them to the folks running the GD awards this year.  They’re listed after the jump in descending order, ending with my personal #1 pick for the award.  The official winner will be announced next week at Duboeuf’s annual Beaujolais Crus preview in New York on May 24.

This week, we’re giving away a copy of one of those ‘top three’ books – Mark Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine: Pleasure, Value, and Adventure Beyond Wine’s Usual Suspects!

Same drill as last week, people: you comment, and in one week I’ll randomly select a winner from the list of commenters!

You can see exactly where Mark’s latest release fell in my top three after the jump (for more on Mark, check out the interview I did with him back in October) – to make a long story short, his latest book kicks all kinds of wine learning ass. The main reason I picked Brave New World of Wine as one of my three finalists, however, was because Mark’s book reminds us of something that I think we spend too much tome forgetting – inherently, wine is supposed to make us happy; it’s supposed to bring joy, delight and (at the high end) some artistic measure to our days.

Do we miss the trick too much, and too often forget about the joy that wine is supposed to bring to us? Shout it out in the comments for a chance to win!

Enjoy – and good luck!…

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Hey Winemakers In Emerging Wine Regions: Stop Selling A Gazillion Varietal Wines Already!

Vinted on May 16, 2011 binned in best of, commentary

“Doesn’t mean you should
Just because you can
It doesn’t mean you should
Just because you can
Like Abraham and Ishmael
Fighting over sand
It doesn’t mean you should
Just because you can.”

– “Facts of Life” by King Crimson

Seriously, people.  Stop it.  Please.

It’s getting embarrassing now.

I get that newer wine areas need to experiment.  I get that you’re just exploring the multi-facets of your terroir.  I get that we don’t yet know which grapes will really sing when grown on your land.

I just don’t get why people should be sold the results of your experiment when they suck (the result, I mean, not the people). When those grapes don’t sing mellifluously, and instead let out what we refer to in my band as a “brown note” – well… why the hell should people pay out good hard-earned cash for that crappy experience?

I know what you’re going to tell me: Hey, smarty-pants, people come in asking where’s the Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, so I have to grow them and make varietal wines out of them!

I’m calling bullsh*t on that right now – and it’s in your own best interests, because it’s a totally bogus business strategy

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