Through The Past, Scholarly (March 2018 Wine Product Reviews)

Vinted on March 14, 2018 binned in wine books, wine products

For the most recent batch of wine product sample roundup articles, I’ve been focusing on reducing the pile of wine book sample copies currently littering the floor of my home office. And so for March, I am slowly whittling away at said pile by offering up two more hardcover tomes for your vinous reading consideration. You still read books, right?

French Wine A History

image: amazon.com

Firstly, we have French Wine: A History by Rod Phillips (University of California Press, 319 pages, about $30). That’s an unassuming title for a book with such an ambitious scope. Actually, its scope is bordering on insanity. Beginning from roughly 2500 years ago, Ottawa-based historian Phillips carves up the topical elephant into almost-digestible-sized time period chunks: the period before 1000 CE, the Middle Ages, through to the Enlightenment, the onset of the World Wars, etc. I say “almost” digestible because even each of those chapters is sizeable in terms of the rich historical content and context of the topic (remember, wine involves chemistry, historical events, economics, farming….).

The ground zero / linchpin moment of French Wine if there is one, after which all is forever changed, seems to be the phylloxera epidemic of the late 1800s. Like the rootstocks of its precious vines, nothing in the French wine world was ever quite the same after the country’s vineyards were decimated by that little louse.

All of this is told in dense, matter-of-fact prose, but Phillips isn’t afraid to call out others’ opinions (even somewhat challenging the venerable Hugh Johnson at one point). It’s not a fast or particularly easy read, but ultimately a worthwhile one. And its conclusion is appropriately bittersweet: France is growing fewer grape vines, producing fewer bottles, and drinking less wine than in its historical apexes, and yet the standard-bearer wines (in terms of quality and prices) are still at the top of the global game; and while we may be seeing a dip overall, the country’s vinous development has been anything but uniform, as French Wine dutifully shows us…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For March 12, 2018

Vinted on March 12, 2018 binned in wine mini-reviews

So, like, what is this stuff, anyway? I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140-ish characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 12 Rodney Strong Brothers Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley): Still big, still fruity, still spicy, still brawny, still smooth, & still laughing at your paltry attempts to question its might. $75 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 16 Sterling Vineyards Blanc de Blancs (California): Robust, chalky, and will get the job done liek a good soldier when deployed onto the front lines of the aperitif zone. $25 B >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Weingut Winter Dittelsheim Riesling Trocken (Rheinhessen): Winter is coming, and if it's as steely and racy as this, you'd better bundle up… and bring stemware… $NA B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 06 Taron Reserva (Rioja): A lot of modernly classic – or is that classically modern? – Spanish style for not a whole lot of your previous coinage. $18 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Brancaia Tre (Toscana): Sleekly modern, but never betraying the soul of its vibrant and sunny Tuscan roots, either. Also, it wants some flank steak. $23 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 16 Chateau Garamache Rose (Cotes du Provence): Like watermelon? How about when it's served up fresh on slate and flint charger plates? $NA B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 16 Ferraton Pere & Fils Samorens Rose (Cotes du Rhone): When you want your cherry flavors to be DEEP; just don't expect a boisterous aromatic conversation. $12 B >>find this wine<<
  • 04 Blason Louis Graves Bordeaux (Graves): Fourteen years *young*; and it hasn't lost one jot of its plummy, spicy edginess, either. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Blason Louis Graves Bordeaux Blanc (Graves): Sporting riper, fleshier stone fruits than you might be expecting; in this case, the surprise is the good kind. $22 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 16 Bird In Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir (Adelaide Hills): The hills are alive… in this case, with the textural earthiness of brambly red berries. $18 B >>find this wine<<
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First Coffee, Then Tannins (Antonelli Montefalco Recent Releases)

Filipo Antonelli

Filipo Antonelli

It’s a wet, chilly, grey Winter morning in San Marco, a locality that sits just outside of Italy’s Montefalco and the ridiculously-well-named town of Bastardo. And I’ve had to wait in the damp cold for a short bit, because Filippo Antonelli is a bit late for our appointment at his family’s winery (hey, welcome to Umbria, right?). And that’s pretty much the only slightly-negative thing that you’ll read about Antonelli over the next few minutes… but let’s set the stage with a little bit more detail before we get into the effusive wine recommendation stuff…

Filippo opens up the Antonelli tasting room, which sits on a hill across from the old family house/cellar/former winery, and starts to bring the charmingly imposing place to life, switching on the lights, and asking me “would you like a coffee?”

I tell him no, grazie, I just had plenty of java at my hotel, so I’m good.

Antonelli cellarAfter a bit of a pause, he turns towards the espresso machine longingly, then back to me. “Do you mind if I have one, then, before we get started?” And that’s one of those moments where you just love Italy.

Anyway, Filipo then gives me the lowdown on the Antonelli biz. He co-owns (since 1986) the family company along with his cousins, with the Umbria property being from his father’s side (and formerly, for about six centuries, being the Summer residence of bishops – part of the fact that Umbria was a portion of the Vatican state until the Eighteenth Century). His great grandfather Francesco was a lawyer, who purchased the estate in 1881. At that time, it was typical Umbrian farming fare; a mix of vines, olive trees, pig farms, and wheat, with the wine being sold in bulk and crop-sharing being the norm. After the advent of the DOC in 1979, they began bottling their own wine, and now release about 300,000 bottles a year from 50 hectares of vines (and still farm olives, wheat, spelt, chick peas, and host agritourism (that is an actualy word, by the way) on roughly 170 hectares of land).

A new subterranean winery was built in 2001. And from it comes perhaps some of the most elegantly-crafted Sagrantino available on the planet…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For March 5, 2018

Vinted on March 5, 2018 binned in wine mini-reviews

So, like, what is this stuff, anyway? I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140-ish characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 17 Steele Cabernet Franc Rose (Lake County): Deftly crafted, watermelon cocktail with sprigs of citrus rind and basil carefully appointed along the rim. $17 B >>find this wine<<
  • NV J Vineyards Brut Rose (Russian River Valley): Arguably has never been more engaging, complete, developed, and balanced. More, please! $45 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 15 Troon Vineyard GSM (Rogue Valley): A rogue's gallery of three of Rhone's red superstars, and the term "lovable" can and should be applied to each one of them here. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 16 Domaine du Garde Temps Cotes de Provence Tourbillon Old Vines Rose (Provence): What it lacks in overt bombast, it more than makes up for in textural intrigue. $NA B+ >>find this wine<<
  • NV Warre's Warrior Finest Reserve (Porto): Spicy, dark, powerful, almost obscenely tasty, and thoroughly unapologetic about the entire thing. $19 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Montes Purple Angel Carmenere (Colchagua Valley): About as guilty of a pleasure as can be rendered from Carm; only thing missing is playing hooky from work to get a spa treatment. $65 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 17 Domaine Bousquet Malbec (Tupungato): Plummy, floral, and fresh; drop your expectations, this one plays quite nicely with others at the dinner table. $13 B >>find this wine<<
  • 15 Domaine Bousquet Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Tupungato): This one is almost a steal; but you probably won't feel too guilty enjoying the ample graphite and currants action. $18 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Campotondo Banditone (Orcia): Juicy, dark, chewy, and delicious. Bonus points for showing up with a heaping helping of rose petals, too. $NA B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Campotondo All' Incontro Rosso (Toscana): Don't yet love Colorino? This one might just change your mind. And if it doesn't, what the hell is wrong with you, anyways?!?? $NA B+ >>find this wine<<
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