I liked Mike Brunson almost immediately.
When I met the Michel-Schlumberger winemaker, it was a brilliantly sunny and warm October day in Sonoma, and the Michel-Schlumberger estate was certainly living up to its reputation in terms of gorgeous places to visit in Dry Creek Valley.
Mike seemed pretty down to earth for someone who was making a go at creating ‘prestige cuvee’ style wines that retail for $50+ a bottle. He certainly knew the estate property like the back of his hand, and was clearly committed to understanding every aspect of biodynamic wine grape cultivation.
What sealed the deal for me, though, was when we started chatting about the winery’s dog.
“You can learn a lot about somebody from how they treat dogs,” he said. “That and whether or not they like Reggae.”
As far as I was concerned, truer words have rarely been spoken.
Of course, it helps that Michel-Schlumberger pumps out some really tasty (though pricey) wine, and that my visit will forever be etched into the ‘happy-place’ recesses of my memory, not because of the beauty of the grounds (which were stunning), but because lunch consisted of the tastiest portion of pork shoulder that has ever crossed my lips. It was the kind of pork that I imagine would be served to carnivores in heaven.
So what does this have to do with French Bocce, or ambiguously gay marketing?
A lot, actually….
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UPDATE: Etching Expressions contacted me in the Summer of 2012 to indicate that they offer a lot more wine choices now than what was chosen to fill the sample bottle sent to me when I penned this review back in 2009. From the looks of those choices (and the pretty reasonable prices at which some are offered), it’s probably worth taking a second gander at the options.
A little while ago (ok, well, probably longer than that… I’ve been busy…) I took part in a promotion to sample a bottle from a company called Etching Expressions.
Etching Expressions offers an interesting gift idea: customized bottles of wine (prices starting around $65), where your customization is actually etched into the wine bottle glass itself, making for a possible conversation-starting keepsake after the vino inside is long gone.
Etching Expressions sent me a bottle of what I think is their house Cabernet, inside of a very cool bottle that sported an etched version of my “Wine Rules” T-shirt logo. In terms of the bottle, I was mightily impressed – the etching job is top-notch (not that I’m a glassworks expert, but it wasn’t flawed in any noticeable way), and it looked very, very cool. There’s no question that this sort of gift is going to get tongues flapping at a dinner party.
As for the wine itself… here’s how my sample was described on the Etching Expressions website:
California Blended Cabernet Sauvignon: A little tannin in the nose, along with plum and berry. A dash of vanilla? The taste is light for a Cab, but has a nice balance between fruit and tannin.
The wine wasn’t flawed in any noticeable way, unless you’d categorize being unbelievably bad to the point of undrinkable to be a flaw. For me, there was no question that this sort of wine is going to get tongues flapping at a dinner party – as in gagging-flapping.
This was one of those rare moments when I actually hesitated after smelling the wine, uncertain as to whether or not I should even let it hit my palate. In terms of what I can tell you about the wine without using expletives, “thin & acerbic” comes to mind. So unless you want to seriously piss off your friends, family, boss, etc., you’d do well to pick one of the brand name selections and avoid the house wine options if you’re considering going with an etched bottle of wine as a gift option.
It’s no secret that writing, as a paid vocation – whether about wine or any other subject – is a becoming a bit of an endangered species.
Never has this situation been so acute as it has in today’s economy, which is utterly dreadful for all of us except for maybe the 4 people out there who enjoy having twice the responsibility for 33% less pay than a few years ago. And those 4 people need a Chuck Norris-style roundhouse kick to the side of the head.
Much has been written about the impact of this gloomy state of affairs on the world of wine and wine writing, and from what I’ve seen, Steve Heimoff summed it up best in an article that appeared on his blog on June 5th (emphasis is mine):
“…if there are fewer and fewer paying magazines and websites, and more and more wine writers doing bad writing, then simple logic dictates that the economic future of wine writing is pretty dismal, in the long term. People used to make a living as milkmen, gas streetlamp lighters, town criers and all sorts of other jobs that no longer exist. Could “wine writer” be as anachronistic as those someday?”
Last week, Alice Feiring – another writer who, like Steve, paid her wine writing dues coming up through traditional media and now also publishes content on a (very good) blog – seemed to have taken this gloomy view one step further (or is that farther?… ah, whatever) into the bleak and murky depths of wine writing despair.
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We’re now into our fourth straight week of giveaways here on 1WineDude.com! This week, I’m teaming up with Barefoot Wine to help promote their Beach Rescue Project and the Barefoot Republic network.
YOU could win a gift bag of giveaway goodness from Barefoot Wines that includes a tote bag, wine opener, stemless wine glass, and a big soft beach towel – pretty much perfect Summer gear for the wine lover!
Hmmm… I’m kind of bummed that I’m not eligible to win, now that I think about it.
This giveaway has a few more requirements than the ones that we’ve run in the previous three weeks, so you all need to listen up if you want a chance to win. But first, let’s tell you a little bit about the Beach Rescue Project…
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