With some crazy travel happening in the short term, I’m making the executive decision to go ahead and give you the September 2017 edition of the monthly wine product review roundup a bit on the early side (rather than scrambling to get my act together on it at the end of the month, which is my usual MO).
I have some reservations about both of the non-edible products from this month’s sample pool, so let’s begin with the item sporting the fewest of saidreservations:
The Winemakers of Paso Robles by Julia Perez & Paul Hodgins (328 pages, $119)
This impressive tome, almost equal parts gorgeous photographs and Paso Robles winemaker profile pieces, began as a Kickstarter project and has seen a recent surge in media and press (within the US fine wine sphere, anyway). And when I write “impressive,” I do mean impressive. As in, Darth-Vader-in-The-Empire-Strikes-Back levels of impressive.
Perez’s stunning photos are the focus of this coffee-table book, with Hodgins’s prose providing the support. The profiles, while not exactly fluff pieces, tend towards the lifestyle-magazine tone of prose; not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly not without leaving you with a good sense of what drives the winemakers of Paso to do what they do so well. But if it’s controversy that you’re after, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The reservation comes from the book’s size and price (and weight); all are pretty hefty. It’s not as though you’re getting ripped off – far from it – but this is a coffee table book that’s damn nearly the weight of a coffee table. In paging through it, I kept thinking that a) I can’t read this in bed, because it will crush my sternum, and b) it might behoove these guys to put out a smaller, less expensive (and lighter?) soft-back edition…
The reservations count goes decidedly up with respect to the next product, the Wall Hanging Bottle Holder by Expovinalia. My sample came directly from Spain, but lacked the screws for securing this to the wall (though they might have fallen out during shipping… the packaging was definitely showing the wear of the journey by the time it arrived on the porch).
My sample is made from pine, has a 12-bottle capacity, and only two screw holes; you are definitely going to want to secure this sturdy item to a stud, particularly if you plan on putting full bottles on display with it; the combined weight will need the support. Generally, the material and the construction of this bottle holder are solid. I noticed some inconsistencies in the finish (pooling, for example), but they weren’t prominent enough to detract from its aesthetics, especially when viewed from any reasonable distance (and if you’re getting that close to my bottles, then we might have words anyway). Bottles placed in the holes (neck-first, see inset pic) seem to stay put, but those holes only fit narrow/standard sized bottle necks; anything with a large lip at the tip simply won’t fit at all. Which rules out a lot of the trophy bottles that geeks would want to display, such as many Champagnes, and those hey-look-at-me big-ass heavy bottles usually reserved for pricey Cabernets.
The above cavils would be minor when considered individually, but taken with the fact that this holder only seems to be available via Expovinalia’s website, on which I could not locate a price (the shipping label has a value of €30), a translation option, or even a button for adding the holder to my shopping cart… well, one could reasonable wonder if all of the cavils together aren’t enough to drive oneself to declare “f*ck it” and shop for something else, somewhere else.