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Penns Wood Winery Event @ Teikoku Restaurant

Vinted on May 23, 2008 binned in pennsylvania, wine industry events
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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 binned in 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 binned in 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)

The Trouble with Vintages (When You Should Care – and When You Shouldn’t)

Vinted on May 16, 2008 binned in wine how to, wine tips

Vintages. Can’t live with `em… pass the beer nuts!

The question of whether or not wine vintages (the year printed on the label, which is almost always the year when the wine’s grapes were harvested) matter is one that often perplexes the budding wine enthusiast.

The questions that the Dude here regularly fields regarding wine vintages generally come in this variety:

Is it a “born on” date? Or an indicator of quality? Or a deciding factor in how long (or if) a wine can be aged?
The answer is “Yes.”

Sort of.

In this post, I’m going to try to clear up some of this vintage mess for ya. Mostly because I genuinely want to help. And, to be totally honest, because I get asked about wine vintages a lot, so I want to have a place to send people for more info. (read: I am lazy and don’t feel like answering the question anymore… hey, so sue me, I’ve got a newborn in the house!)….

Here’s the honest truth (well, the truth according to the 1WineDude, that is) about wine vintages: For the most part, the wine vintages printed on the label don’t matter all that much.

The reason that wine vintages (mostly) don’t matter is two-fold:

  1. 99% of wine sold today is not meant to be aged. Most of the wine that you encounter is meant to be enjoyed within 6 to 18 months of the vintage. In this sense, the vintage year functions more like a “born on” date – if someone is trying to sell you a really inexpensive older vintage wine, it’s probably because they want to pawn off their remaining stock of that vino that’s won’t otherwise sell because it’s past its prime.

    Does this mean that the wine will magically turn into vinegar at the stroke of midnight 18 months after the vintage date, Cinderella-style? No – but thanks to the miracle of chemistry, there’s a good chance that the fruit characteristics of the wine will start to dissipate after that time. For the majority of everyday drinking wine that you might buy, you can set a mental note to enjoy it before its second harvest birthday. That way, you will get a chance to sample those tasty fruit flavors before they disappear.


    For the most part, the wine vintages printed on the label don’t matter all that much.

  2. Modern wine-making can turn even poor harvest years into decent (and sometimes great) wine. Many moons ago, before the advent of versatile solutions for modern living that we take for granted today (like refrigerated transport, temperature-controlled fermentation tanks, and best of all those nifty little laser-pointer flashlights that can fit on your keychain), winemaking techniques were not as advanced as they are today. As a result, the conditions of a particular harvest year (weather, economy, invasion by the Huns, etc.) could have a dramatic impact on a wine’s quality.

    While this is still true today to some extent, the stability of most of the world’s major winemaking areas, coupled with ultra-modern winemaking techniques and technologies means that consistent producers can churn out decent everyday drinking wine even in poor harvest years. In my experience, this has even been true for some fine wine in “bad” vintage years from regions with consistent weather (like California – Opus One’s 1998 blend is a good example of this).

So when does a vintage really matter?

Vintages do matter when you’re splurging on a fine wine purchase from a region that has a variable climate year to year.

The most famous example of this being red Burgundy, the fickle Pinot Noir areas of France that can produce wine tasting like sublime berry seduction one year, and rotten cabbage the next. If you’re going to shell out the coin for something special (either for drinking now or laying down for a special occasion later), it can’t hurt to do a little vintage homework. I recommend using the mobile vintage chart from BBR.com, which you can reference right from your web-enabled cell phone while at your local wine shop. This can help you to gauge the relative quality of a vintage for a fine wine purchase.

BUT… don’t steer clear of a vintage entirely just because it’s been deemed of lesser quality than a previous year. Why? You can miss some amazing bargains that way – these vintages are like a lower stock value; it’s time to buy. In an “off-year” you might have access to quality wines that might normally be out of your comfortable price range, and it’s a chance for you to explore the winemaking styles of great producers without totally breaking the bank.

Vintages do matter when you’re splurging on a fine wine purchase from a region that has a variable climate year to year. The most famous example of this being red Burgundy, the fickle Pinot Noir from France that can taste like sublime berry seduction one year, and rotten cabbage the next.

The majority of my fine wine purchases have been in “bad” vintages – I scoop that up like a day-trading stock hunter! The bottom line is that a passionate producer with talented staff and a history of great winemaking will still make impressive wine in an off year. They may not be wines of sublime perfection, but they sure as hell won’t be bad, and they have the potential to totally knock your socks off.

Cheers!

(images: globalbeautes.com [modified by the 1WineDude], art.com, weimax.com)

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