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1WineDude | A Serious Wine Blog for the Not-So-Serious Drinker - Page 329

It’s Memorial Day – For God’s Sake, Drink Some Zin!

Vinted on May 26, 2008 under holidays
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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!

For those of you in the U.S. of A. – apologies again to my (now probably seriously dwindling) International readers! – it’s Memorial Day.

That time when we in the U.S. partake in the American pastimes of family gatherings, and patriotic remembrance, and – best of all – charing meat over an open flame until it is covered in crispy, tasty, blackened carcinogens.

And also trying not burn our houses down.

There is but one method of cooking appropriate for Memorial Day – and that is good ol’ fashioned grilling.

And for good ol’ American grilling, there is but one (okay, maybe not just one but certainly one of the best) good ol’ American wine to pair with your holiday backyard barbecue masterpiece…

…And that wine is Zinfandel.

Never mind that Zin is actually the southern Italian grape Primitivo. Or that it’s probably originally from Croatia. If there is one country to embrace a melting-pot Italo-Croatian creation, it’s the good ol’ U.S. of A., baby! Zin is the (fruit) bomb. It’s over-the-top jammy goodness (we’re talking the unadulterated Zin grape here, not the sweet, blushy White Zin). It’s so good that it’s got its own fanclub.

Zin ROCKS.

Especially at the BBQ. That’s because Zin’s flavor is so bold that it stands up to just about any char grilled goodness (including your famous, spicy-sweet, secret-recipe BBQ sauce) that you might concoct this long holiday weekend.

Zin has been grown in some way/shape/form in the U.S. since the 1800s, taking off in CA after
speculators turned from the Gold Rush to agriculture for their fortunes. As a result, CA has a good amount of old Zin vines. And the older the vine, the lower the grape yields, the more concentrated the fruit, and the higher the potential quality of the resulting wines.

Zin grapes tend to ripen a bit unevenly in tight clusters. What this means is that if most of the grapes are left to achieve full ripeness on the vine, some of the grapes in the same cluster will have shriveled into concentrated, raisiny goodness. Hello, alcohol! (More Zin facts and history can be found in The Oxford Companion to Wine).

Like us Americans, who wear their hearts on their sleeves, Zin grapes are thin-skinned. Also like us Americans, Zin wines are brazen and bold (okay, and sometimes a bit obnoxious). They are not afraid to tell you what’s on their mind. And what’s on their mind is tons of in-your-face, jammy fruit. And booze (Zin wines can reach alcohol contents of 14.5% or higher).

That fruit is gonna successfully go toe-to toe with anything that you can throw at it this weekend – just like us Americans.

As for recommendations:
For those on a tight budget, you’d be hard-pressed to find better Zin value for your buck than Ravenswood.

For a bit more cash, Frog’s Leap makes a killer, earth-friendly Zin.

On the “let’s splurge!” end of things, I like Duckhorn’s Paraduxx Zin blend.

So this holiday weekend get your party on, get your grill on, and get your Zin on. And have a safe and happy one (when Due here went to the emergency room on Memorial Day a few years ago, the hospital staff told me that they expect spikes in emergency room injury visits due to accidents during this holiday weekend – don’t be one of them). Enjoy responsibly!


Cheers!

(images: healthline.com, winecountrygetaways.com, alderbrook.com, bbqreport.com)

Penns Wood Winery Event @ Teikoku Restaurant

Vinted on May 23, 2008 under pennsylvania, wine industry events

I don’t normally plug events here at 1WineDude.com, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give some press to this shin-dig, because I am totally into what both this restaurant and this winemaker are doing.

NOTE: The following is a Philly-area event (much apologies to my Left Coast and International readers!).

Teikoku is serving up some of the most killer Asian fusion food in the greater Philadelphia area. And Penns Wood Winery is making some of the most daring wines in all of the East Coast (hello? Sauvignon Blanc, anyone?) – and they now own the old Smithbridge wine property (a stone’s throw from Chaddsford), which is capable of producing some of the best grapes in the area.

If you’re in the area and can make it, I highly suggest checking it out.


Teikoku restaurant proudly presents
Penn’s Woods Winery dinner

with Chef Takao Iinuma, Winemaker Mr. Gino Razzi
and wine educator John McNulty…

Tuesday June 3, 2008, 6:30 p.m.

Amuse Bouche

Fresh, delicate, mélange of sushi

Pairings: Wakatake Daiginjo Onikoroshi sake and Yamada Pecorino 2006

First course

Alaskan wild king salmon and live scallop in onion soy dressing with a micro herb salad

Pairings: Penn’s Woods Sauvignon Blanc 2006 and Proprietors Reserve White 2006

Second course

Seared Kobe beef tataki in a yellow pepper ceviche served with a Branch Creek micro green salad in a spicy citrus vinaigrette

Pairings: Penn’s Woods Ameritage Reserve 2005 and Penn’s Woods Merlot Reserve 2005

Third course

Poached daikon cup filled with uni (sea urchin), wild mushrooms and baby spinach, in a sauce americaine

Pairings: Penn’s Woods Chardonnay 2007 and Penn’s Woods White Cabernet 2006

Fourth course

Seared Foie gras over French black truffle white asparagus served with shallot demi glace and lotus chips

Pairing: Penn’s Woods White Merlot 2006

Fifth course

Tahitian vanilla bean gelato

Pairing:: Aged (50 year old) balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy

$95 per person (Does not include tax and gratuity)

Executive Chef Takao Iinuma – Takao is one of the world’s great Japanese chefs. An accomplished student at Japan’s prestigious Hattori Nutrition College, where he learned everything from French technique to traditional Chinese cooking, Iinuma went on to teach there for eight years. His education also included an apprenticeship at the Karin in the Ana Hotel, one of Tokyo’s top restaurants. He has competed in 40 episodes of the popular Iron Chef Japan, winning 75 percent of his match ups. It was during this era that he befriended world famous Chef Masaharu Morimoto, who became his culinary mentor. Chef Iinuma went on to become executive chef at Morimoto restaurant in Philadelphia and Wasabi by Morimoto in Mumbai, India, where he helped the chef open both locations. He was also appointed corporate chef of Morimoto in Washington, D.C. The Iron Chef still calls upon Iinuma for advice before going into culinary battle.

Winemaker Gino Razzi- The Abruzzi-born Razzi, a well-known wine importer and a maker of highly rated wines in Italy, knows what he’s doing around grapes. His “Symposium,” a profoundly good montepulciano d’Abruzzo, has won 90 points or better from the Wine Spectator ever since the first vintage (1997) was issued. Penn’s Woods is one of the latest additions to a boom in Pennsylvania wineries, which have nearly tripled since 1999, from 42 to 122 in late 2007. Razzi’s extreme commitment to making only the highest-level wines possible coupled with his superb palate and winemaking instincts, refined by nearly four decades in the importing business is a departure from the approach taken by many of the state’s wineries, which feel obliged to create a wider range of styles and prices to appeal to a mass-market audience.

Teikoku Restaurant
5492 West Chester Pike

Newtown Square, PA 19073

Tel:
610-644-8270
Fax:
610-644-8265

Contact: Christine Olmsted, Events coordinator


Cheers!

Who Cares What We Think? (The Influence of the Internet in the World of Wine)

Vinted on May 21, 2008 under commentary, wine blogging, wine buying

So, really – who cares what I think?

Maybe not too many wine consumers.

According to a new Pew Internet study report, the Internet has a small influence on consumers’ buying decisions when compared to offline channels (like recommendations from salespeople, friends, etc.). That includes Internet sites like, oh, for example, 1WineDude.com.

Hmm… maybe I should be putting a little more time & effort into my off-line consulting

Anyway, according to the Pew report (which, to be fair, measured on-line impact on purchases of music, housing, and cell phones only):

“No more than one-tenth of buyers… said that online information had a major impact on their purchasing decision.”

Well… crap!…

And here I’ve been trying to steer wine consumers right and not realizing the whole time that nobody is listening (er – I mean, reading).

What’s also interesting (assuming you still might care what I think at this point) in the Pew report is the gap between those who actively contribute to the on-line dialog (by submitting reviews, for example), and those that simply consume the information:

“The large gaps between contributors and readers are understandable; not all consumers
are interested in lending their voice and many may be content to free ride on the efforts of
others. However, with the growth of broadband adoption at home and the buzz about
online participation in a Web 2.0 world, widespread activity in this arena might be
expected. Yet the data in this report do not show this; there is clearly a distance between the numbers of those who contribute and those who lurk.”

I can’t say I’m too surprised by that finding. In my experience, especially with people of my g-g-g-g-generation, I’ve found that there is a need to consume information via the Internet, but very little drive to create that information themselves.

Case in point: my friends will tease me about the number of websites that I maintain (official number: too many), and in the same conversation will ask me why I’ve not updated one of the websites in the past 3 days.

They want to consume – they just feel that it’s someone else’s place to author that content. Is this “The Architecture of Non-Participation?”

Deep down I’m a skeptical guy – which in my twisted in mind is being patriotic (hey, the U.S. was founded by a bunch of skeptics!) – but I gotta admit, deep down I am also feeling like wine is different.

I know, I know – wishful thinking, right?

But hear me out (if you still care what I think, that is): Buying wine is different than buying music or a cell phone, because wine is meant to be shared. By its nature it’s a social beast, to be enjoyed with others. It’s one of the few goods we can buy that actually becomes an event unto itself. A cell phone can be nifty but it’s probably not going to be a lubricant for life. And try sharing your cell phone with someone else without going totally insane.

If you take a look at social networking websites like the Open Wine Consortium, Corkd.com, and CellarTracker.com, you will find lots of wine consumers willing to share their views, reviews, and recommendations. I would find it hard to believe that those interactions don’t influence the wine buying decisions of consumers somehow.

And wouldn’t it be great if, instead of wine distribution monopolies, stuffy media mags, and 2 or 3 critics dictating nearly all of our wine purchasing choices, we actually influenced each other and helped each other out based on our own experiences of wines that we thought actually tasted great?

But then again, who cares what I think?


Cheers!

(images: thoomp.com, allposters.com, imagechef.com)

Hail to the King, Baby (Robert Mondavi 1913 – 2008)

Vinted on May 19, 2008 under wine news, winemaking

Most of you reading this will have heard by now that Robert Mondavi, patriarch founder of the Robert Mondavi winery enterprise, died on Friday, May 16, at the age of 94.

By the time this article posts to the web, there will probably be hundreds of well-written obits. available on the Internet.

Most of them will talk about how Mondavi literally redefined the world of winemaking by taking his (at the time far-flung) vision of putting California on the map as a fine wine locale – and making it a reality.

Most of them will talk about his charitable giving, and focus in his later years on establishing vital centers for the progression of art, food, and wine, most of which is chronicled in the book Harvests of Joy.

But I don’t think too many will venture into the Dark Side of Mondavi. How he squandered the family enterprise, for example, or how his lavish giving my have contributed to the downfall of his family-run business empire.

And you know what? That is totally okay by me.

Why?…

Because for every single thing that Mondavi screwed up, he did about one thousand things right.

Mondavi’s place in the world wine lore of history would be solidified if he was remembered only for establishing one of the world’s most successful wine businesses. But when you factor in that he literally conceived of – and then implemented – the modern CA wine industry, taught the U.S. how to make low-cost, high-volume wine of consistent quality, actually made friends with the French, and almost single-handedly introduced wine into the lexicon of the idea of “fine living” in the U.S., you have something else on your hands entirely.

For every single thing that Mondavi screwed up, he did about one thousand things right.

You have a veritable doer of great deeds.

A legend. A titan.

A King of the U.S. wine industry.


Oh, by the way, he did all of that stuff after he was 50 years old. You know, when most people have stopped working and have moved onto perfecting their golf games.

Is there a downside to all of this Kingliness? Sure.

Just as George Lucas’ Star Wars changed movie-making forever for both good and bad, Mondavi’s influence will forever be felt in the world of wine – both in making decent wine accessible to the masses, and in influencing the Parker-ized fruit bomb clones that currently flood the wine market.

Would you take that trade off? I certainly would.

Seems to me a small price to pay for the wine Kingdom of plenty that Mondavi was able to establish. Now, to the best of my knowledge I’ve never changed the world. But I imagine if I did, that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to predict all of the minor negative ramifications of my good deeds. Can you fault the guy for not being a clairvoyant on top of being the King?

It’s never too late to do great things.

The chasing of Parker scores is peanuts worth of collateral damage compared to that.

If I had to boil it down, I’d say that the Mondavi era hasn’t really taught me anything – at least, not anything I didn’t already know from my experience with another “King” – King Lear.

In Shakespeare’s Lear, the title character redeems his humanity – but only in the moments before his death at a very old age.

The lesson?

It’s never too late to do great things.

All Kings die – even the ones that are larger-than-life. But great deeds? Well, those don’t slip away quite so easily.

Hail to the King, baby!

Cheers!

(images: media.sacbee.com, nytimes.com, timeout.com, hd.org)

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