You Can Keep Your Varietal and Shove It Up Your Variety

Vinted on February 16, 2010 binned in best of, commentary

I am giving up on what has become a totally fruitless quest ending in a miasma of heartbreak and despair; I hereby renounce my Sisyphusian efforts, and will no longer roll this impossibly heavy boulder of writing wisdom up the mountain of populist adversity, only to have it come heaving down to crush the vulnerable bones of my hopes time and time again.

Not that I feel overly dramatic about it or anything.

What is the heart of this painful linguistic matter?  The brilliant and terrible rays of sunlight on the wax wings of my personal flight of Icarus?

It’s the rampant misuse of the word varietal.

To quote Inigo Montoya, “Joo keep using daht word. I donah tink it means what joo tink it means…”

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Whence Cometh Napa Cabernet?

Vinted on February 15, 2010 binned in California wine, commentary, wine publications

Today I’ll be starting my week-long Napa excursion (the itinerary of which I’d hoped to have posted today, but since all those West Coast hippies are so damn laid back, as of the time of this writing my schedule still isn’t totally finalized… if I’d been dealing with uptight, anally-retentive East Coast types I would have had this all nailed down within 15 minute intervals weeks ago).

This got me thinking about Napa Cabernet, of which I plan to have tasted so much by the time I leave Napa that I will probably need emergency dental work to deal with the teeth stains as soon as I land back in Philly.

And since I’m heading out there for a writers symposium, it got me thinking about the origin of “Napa Cabernet” – not in terms of the wine, but in terms of the words.  I’m a sucker for words and I own more than my fair share of dictionaries and etymological resources.  I’m geeky that way.

You’d think that this would be pretty easy, right?  A bit of Google searching, or a trip to the handy-dandy unabridged dictionary, and we’d be all set, right?  Surely there isn’t much to the origin of such words, the kind that are so nearly ubiquitous that they instantly call up various mental and sensory images for wine lovers worldwide, right?

Not so fast, Buck-O.  As it turns out, the etymology of both “Napa” and “Cabernet” is far from being etched indelibly in stone…

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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini-Reviews Round-up for 2010-02-13

Vinted on February 13, 2010 binned in wine mini-reviews
  • 04 Wellington 100 Yr Old Vines Estate Zinfandel (Sonoma Valley): The concentrated blackberry crack cocaine of Zins. Rich & balanced. $50 A- #
  • 07 Folie a Deux Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): A nice whiff of dark red fruit & toffee, but only sweet-tooth palates need apply. $28 B- #
  • 06 Waters Crest Cabernet Sauvignon (Long Island): That smoky, spicy cherry on the nose is magic. The slightly thin palate, less so. $40 B- #
  • 06 Ravines Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes): The apple & wet rock smell enticing, but you’d better have some food handy for this acid shot $17 B- #
  • 06 Brothers Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley): A Jim Kelly kung-fu black fruit, chocolate & licorice smackdown. Needs 7 yrs $75 A- #
  • NV Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port: The Port world’s Fig Newtons, only more complex, luscious, tastier & more of a total bargain. $13.50 B+ #
  • NV Casalnova Prosecco (Conegliano, Veneto): Suprisingly rich & downright refined. A honeysuckle lass with sass and some class. $18 B #
  • 02 Blackjack Ranch ‘harmonie’ Red (Santa Barbara): Proof that dried prunes, cassis, & dark root veggies can live together peacefully. $60 A- #
  • 07 Weingut Paulinshof Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese trocken (Mosel): A monster. Honey & lemon curd rock the hizzy. A- #

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