Size Matters (Tackling A Faust 2006 Double Magnum)

Vinted on March 10, 2010 binned in commentary, learning wine, wine tips

Just when you think that the topic of wine is starting to make sense and really come together for you, you’ll probably encounter the convention of naming large format wine bottles.

That should put you firmly back in your lowly place, since the convention of naming bottle sizes carries on the storied wine tradition of utilizing differing standards in order to confuse the living hell out of you.

I’ve been “thinking big,” as in large format bottles, since I recently won a 3L bottle of Faust 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet via the Palate Press Wine For Haiti auction.

The bottle is gorgeous (see inset pic).  The trouble is, I don’t know what to call it.

Before we get into that, I should tell you a bit about Faust itself, I suppose.

Faust is the brainchild of Napa legend Agustin Huneeus, who started up Quintessa, owns Veramonte, and had a hand in making other stalwart Napa wines like Franciscan.  It’s a big wine, but balanced and tight as a drum early on due to it’s massive, dark structure.  It’s like the Darth Vader of Napa Cabs, and is (more or less) Quintessa’s more-affordable-but-still-pretty-damned-good “second wine.” Damned-good… Get it?  Faust… damned… Ok, I’ll stop now…

As far as the 2006 goes, it’s 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 3% Malbec, and 1% Cabernet Franc – all from Agustin’s family vineyards in Rutherford and Atlas Peak.  As far as Hunees goes, according to the Faust website, “He also believes that numerical ratings, as they are used today, are an aberration.”  Strong words.

Interestingly (as far as the bottle size discussion goes), I first tried this Faust vintage (via sample) in a 375 ml half-bottle.  I’ve yet to have the wine from a “normal” 750 ml.

Anyway, on to the good and the ugly of this situation…

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The United Slurps of America. Also, Some Organic Wines Still Suck

Vinted on March 9, 2010 binned in organic wine, Penns Woods, pennsylvania, wine review

Actually, let’s take those in reverse order.

Here’s the deal – I have a love/hate affair with organic wines.  I love the fact that they’re organic and environmentally-friendly; I hate many of the wines because they’re not any good.

And I’m convinced that enough wine consumers have reached a similar conclusion that they actually avoid buying wines labeled as Organic, which is why many good wines that could be labeled as officially organic don’t bother to mention this on their labels (see Alder Yarrow’s take on the subject of Organic wine labeling).

It’s not all organic wines that suck, and there are many excellent, premium wines that farm organically or biodynamically.  But the extreme cases have a loooooong way to go before they will appeal to the average consumer.

Take Stellar Organics for example.  Amazing things they’re doing for the environment and their community.  BUT… they make a line of ‘No Sulfites Added’ wines (essentially, the only sulfites in the wines are those produced naturally in the winemaking process), and the samples I tried of those wines just aren’t very good.  To the mini-review tape:…

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Uncorking “Corked: A Memoir” (The Kathryn Borel Interview)

Vinted on March 8, 2010 binned in book reviews, interviews, wine books

Reading Corked: A Memoir, you may find that you don’t much like author Kathryn Borel.  And it will probably have nothing to do with her being a Canadian (sorry, Canada… just poking fun at you because you won all of those Olympic hockey gold medals…).

She is, by her own fearless admission, not the best of traveling companions. Neither is her father, with whom she travels to some of France’s most famous wine regions in an attempt to connect more deeply with him while they still have time together on this planet.  Even a healthy proportion of the storied French wine producers that the Borel clan visit in Corked are portrayed as, to put it mildly, difficult.

Corked isn’t about wine appreciation, but it touches on the topic frequently and views it obliquely, as if through a funky, tilted lens; it circles the topic as if both wine and Kathryn were old cats in some new territory – familiar, but with a sense of fight-or-flight caution.  Let’s put it this way: Kathryn describes her new book (also her first) as being about “wine, France, my father, existential dread, and death.”  So you know the viewpoint on wine is going to be different.

As it turns out, wine plays a minor, but important, role in Kathryn’s sometimes hilarious, sometimes quirky, sometimes painful recounting of her journey through French wine country – at turns a vehicle for connectivity, and an insurmountable and intimidating barrier.

And it’s exactly because of that unique viewpoint that I was so stoked to read Corked and to interview its author (if you need further convincing of Kathryn’s unique view on life, just check out how she introduces Corked on video, or visit her craftily quirky – or is that quirkily crafty? – blog).

If Corked reveals a truth about the human condition, it’s that coming to a shared understanding as adults – to a place where we can truly appreciate one another – isn’t always as simple as sharing a glass of excellent vino; sometimes it takes a gut-wrenching rite of passage.  That probably mirrors the relationship some of us have with wine at one point or another in our lives.

Read on for the interview, which is mostly full of wine-related topics but, thanks to Kathryn, is totally full of awesome – just prepare to be entertained, a little moved, and a lot impressed by his woman…

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