Write about Wine. Read about Life. WineWonks, the Wine Blog Community.
“All the knowledge I possess everyone else can
acquire, but my heart is all my own”. ~Johann von Goethe
For everyone who follows me on twitter, first thank you and
second, I'm not sure why you do, but that said your Monday nights are about to
get a boost! So as you may have heard, I and the brilliant pair [Dynamic
Wine-Duo] from the Protocol
Wine Studio Guy and Tina, will be joining forces this year, to present each
vino-sapien with an unique twitter opportunity via#WineStudio
to focus-in on wine regions, wine styles and hopefully take your palates to
places they've only dreamed of going before.
Instead of the typical shot-gun approach,
Protocol Wine Studio and I will stay on a region for five weeks at time. The
first thing coming up to bat in the rotation is going to be the mighty Rhone region
There's so much to see and do within this fabulous region, even a five week,
one hour examination every Monday evening, will barely scratch the
Of course if all this wets your appetites
for more, and you find yourself like the young Oliver Twist asking, "oh Please, sir, I want some more." There will be opportunities made available for you to do just that, so
But it's our hope that as we discuss each
region, you will perhaps seek wines out from the region before the discussion
gets going, as a way to help broaden your understanding of the types and styles
wine offered in this fantastic region. There will also be an opportunity
available to those interested in acquiring some classical styles of wine from
these regions, a sampler-pack [for purchase], designed to give the everyday vino-sapien a
better grasp of the region and the wines made there.
Logistically speaking; #WineStudio will be
hosted each and every Monday, by either Tina, Guy or myself. Always starting at 6PM PST and ending approximately one
hour later. The official launch is going to be January 21, 2012, I look forward to seeing you all there.
The three of us will be gathering at their Protocol Wine Studio
here in San Diego
for the fun and informative discussions. The role of moderator will change week
to week, so that way there's an unique opportunity to get many different
perspectives on the same topic. A calendar will be posted here on my blog [I
will make a new page] so everyone can be prepared head of time, to know what to
expect from each session.
Now of course with me involved their will
be a degree of irreverent commentary now and again, but the main focus will
really be about not only increasing our head knowledge, which is a great thing,
but at the same time giving some needed depth to our palates. And I say
"ours" because as they say it's about the journey, not the
destination that counts. There will be no pontificating from our Purple Wine
Tower, just lots of
sharing and having fun, after-all this is just a beverage.
Perhaps you're already there, you've
arrived, then this conversation may not be for you and that is okay, that's why
there's #sommchat a great place for those who are already mightily in the know
to talk among their selves. But if you find, that like Tina, Guy and I, that
you'd strike out on the voyage of discovery and you weren't sure which way to
set your sail, then I'd say #winestudio is going to be the place for you. This is
the place to ask questions and get serious answers, without the dismissive
attitude. We don't have all the answers of course, but let's take this journey
together and see where it goes. Until next remember to sip long and prosper
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"Come, come, good wine is a good
familiar creature if it be well used; exclaim no more against it." ~
Well it has been quite some time since
I've had a wine of the week, falling behind a bit, but this wine in today's
spotlight really had my attention from the first whiff to the last drop. Even
though I wasn't drinking that day, I just tasted. This wine really struck-me as
the kind of wine I want to bring to your attention, something completely off
the beaten path.
With that idea in mind comes this wine from an area in France, one of which I was completely unfamiliar with and
I will confess I couldn't have pointed it out on the map either. But what I do
know is that this very inexpensive bottle of wine from the small appellation of
Quincy in the Loire Valley,
a dry white wine will knock your socks off. You won't be able to put it down, its
exciting fresh and most likely as new to the average vino-sapien as it was to
me on Wednesday afternoon.
If you've been reading this blog for any
length of time, you know I'm not much of Sauvignon Blanc fan by any stretch of
the imagination. This is why you may find it quite ironic that, I’m jumping up
and down with excitement about this fantastic expression of Sauvignon Blanc,
oozing with a honeyed, full-bodied texture and a just a pinch of lemon-peel oil
Oh you could just keep on drinking the
garden-variety domestic Sauvignon Blanc or you could step outside the box for
once to experience something completely new. A wine selling most places for $16
to $17, a wine I've rated 93 points, it's a wine you need to try for yourself
to see what all the fuss is about. I'm on a course of wine-diversity and want
to drink better. I want each of you to join me on that path to discovery; I
want you my readers to drink better as well.
I'm told that the appellation of Quincy was the 2nd appellation in France to be
recognized in 1936, second only to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where many of the vines
are over a century old, while some have been more recently planted in the
One of the more compelling reasons for
adoring this wine so much is because it really didn't have many of the usual
suspects in the nose or on the palate. I was immediately surprised by the nose, aromas
of white-flowers, honeysuckle, white peach, sweet-quince and whiff of bell
pepper which quickly fades to the background.
Then jumping into the wine itself, wow,
again the mouth-feel is flamboyant, intense aromatics, honey, wet-stone, [the
whisper of lemon oil] is followed by a full-bodied, exuberant, dry white wine
that must be tasted to be believed. I suspect this offering has some aging
potential, but why risk it when this wine is drinking ever so nicely right now.
In fact I wondered silently if the wine I tasted
was Sauv-Blanc at all. How could a wine raised in stainless steel and enamel
tanks and had its fermentation kicked off with indigenous yeast have this much
body and substance to it and yet not have the typical lean flavors which drive
me away like a pack of ravenous hyenas . I just kept looking at the bottle,
snapping the picture you see above and tasted it twice just to confirm my
impressions and flummoxed with my own delight. But there it's, try it for
yourself soon, I look forward to hearing thoughts and impressions. Until next
time sip long and prosper cheers!
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first it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” ~ Ibn
Many folks are starting to think about
their early spring vacations and or weekend get-away plans. And who can blame you, especially if you plan to be in California next weekend.
So if your plans happen to involve visiting wine country, may I suggest to a trip to one
of my favorite wine destinations in California,
A great little town, just north of Santa Barbara County, easily located right off highway
101. If you plan to leave from San Diego, may I suggest an early AM Sunday
launch time, if not then take the I-5 and cross over on the 46W, it may take a
bit longer, but you'll thank me later.
Mrs. Cuvee and I go to Paso Robles pretty frequently, not
as much as we would like to, but we were fortunate enough to visit twice last
year. We had such a good time, discovered some new favorites and became
reacquainted with others. We found a few new places to eat and also found a great spot to
grab some sack time after a long day on the wine trail.
I've recently been
asked by a couple of my friends, torecommend the what Ilike tocall hot-spots for wine-ing and dining. But, if you're a fan of sweet and simple [as 90% of the country seems to be] wines, then this list will not be for you. So look away before it's too late.
So I've compiled a list of the places I
like to go and want to share that list with you today.
Per Cazo: Just call ahead to let them know you'd like to
visit. Their Petite Sirah is flat out amazing, a real high-light. A sit-down tasting is just the thing and the pairing with the cheese is excellent.
Tablas Creek [Rhone Zone] So many favorites it's hard to name
Justin: The Savant and Justification [100% First-Run
Cabernet Franc] are among my favorites each year.
Alta Colina: Their Syrah really takes flight, oh-my.
Bodegas Paso Robles [downtown
tasting room] Some very good Spanish wines, I highly recommend giving a swirl,
don't doubt this tip.
Lone Madrone: Their Tannat is among my favorite wines being offered, along with their outstanding 2006 Bolla, a 100% Nebbiolo. Tablas Creek and LM share the same winemaker.
Calcareous: Driving up [the long and winding road] to the
tasting room, leaves little doubt about where winery got its name. Again the
views from this winery are quite stunning and you'll love Syrah and Grenache.
Herman Story: Tasting room on the east side of tracks in town.
You’ll will easily get into the nuts and bolts of why their Grenache is so fantastic
and other Rhone-Zone favorites not to be missed.
Jada: Another Rhone-Zone stop that will not disappoint. Ask for the "Passing By" it's sensational juice.
DAOU: The view from the tasting room is quite stunning and the wines ranging
from Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon are all quite good. You may even meet
Daniel, theirwinemaker who's often found in the tasting room entertaining guests. All of their wines are
Sextant Wines: Is just to the south in SLO, but worth the drive,
so worth it. If you visit their Edna
Valley tasting-room, you
simply must do the cheese and wine pairing, you won't regret it. There are so many
great wine choices here; it’s hard to pick just one.
Turley: If you like Zinfandel, then a trip to Zinfandel Lane is
the place to be. Many of the 2008's are tasting fantastic at the moment. You
have to be a member to purchase wines outside the tasting room. So if you go,
prepare to take as many with you as possible.
L'Aventure Winery Stephen does an amazing job,
please don't miss an opportunity for a visit, you'll be tempted to take cases
of his wine home. But your wallet may have a hard time accepting that
Vineyards: Which shares a tasting room with Lone Madrone, a two for
one bonus. Again another stop not to be missed.
Cellars: A winery known for producing seven to ten blends per year;
some are heavy in Zinfandel, while others rest in a more traditional Rhone blending style. Visits are by appointment only, but
worth the effort.
Vineyards [Make an appointment] the owner Ron Denner is a great, the
wines produced there, are in many cases stellar! Rhone-Zone and some very nice
Cabernet Sauvignon as well, like the Mother of all Exiles.
Vineyards & Wines The tasting room is located in what
resembles an old school house. I know this is huge brand, if you are already a
fan, a visit will only further cement that sentiment. One of the few east-side
wineries I recommend.
RN Estate: Please don't miss an
opportunity to visit Roger and the beautiful RN Estate [the view is amazing],
call-ahead or email for the sit-down tasting. You can expect to find alluring
Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir and unique Paso blends, just waiting to tempt your
Wine Company It's a fun tasting experience and they have a GSM
[Elephant in the Room] which is out of this world-good.
Now if you want to go to Opolo
[okay] their Summit Zinfandel is very big, super aggressive [high abv] but
blackberry jam tasty. If you happen to visit on a Saturday they often [not
always] have a barbeque just out-side the wide tasting room entry way, with
many tasty treats that in my opinion pair ever so nicely with the wines being
offered to sample.
The Paso Robles Inn: Is a great place to grab a steak for dinner or to
have that evening night-cap. Bonus: If you bring a bottle of Paso Robles Wine
with you to dinner they waive corkage and the best spot in town for a quick
Cow Girl Cafe: Great for Breakfast and very large portions.
Artisan: Wow fine-dining to be had here, a great place to
eat, they have a little bit of everything, with a reasonable corkage fee.
Bistro Laurent and Wine Shop: Wow, if you bring a bottle of wine in, they will
pair a dinner around that wine. Great French style and flavors at its
Il Cortile Ristorante: One of the very best Italian dining experiences,
outside of Italy.
Order a bottle of the Grechetto Bianco with your appetizers.
Thomas Hill Organics: Farm to table at its best. But please be advised
[IMO] the portions are small and they don't offer bread. If you want my advice
order some appetizers.
Villa Creek: Has bit of everything and food is freaking
Now if you're looking for some low-key
dining options, there are also many to be easily found in and around the
down-town [aka, the park] square, along with great local bars to help quench
Where to stay:
For me I like to stay at the Paso Robles
Inn and I always choose the spa rooms. Everything downtown is within easy
walking distance from the Inn, the pricing is reasonable. Do be aware that the natural
spring Spa-Waters do have an uncomfortable smell, but once you put in the
bath-aroma they offer, it's pretty fantastic. And as a bonus free wi-fi is
If you do choose to stay there, ask for
the rooms with the balcony over the big conference room. These rooms offer more
privacy, more square feet, comfy beds, etc. If you want to use the spa, it
takes at least 30 min for the tub to fill-up. And don't bother with the instructions, they seem to be a bit out of date.
Now if you want a more upscale experience
[there are many to choose from], Per Cazo has a lovely bed and
breakfast, nice and quiet. The rooms are well appointed and logistically it's
much closer for visiting wineries. They're located about 15-20 min outside of
I hope you find these recommendations helpful, please let me know how they turn out for you. Until next time, here's to travel and exploration, sip long and prosper cheers!
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Life is too short not to make the best and the most of everything that
comes your way everyday. - Sasha Azevedo
So you want to
know the score huh? Most folks want do want to know the score, especially when
it comes to their favorite team, but we as vino-sapiens like to know the score
on lots of things besides wine. We rate or score every thing from cars to
coffee, so should it be any surprise to find scores attached to wine. But for
some when it comes to scoring wine; some folks begin to get a little squeamish
and will loudly voice their opinions about how 'unfair' it's. The say, "well one man's
perfectly ripe green apple, is another man's tart and bitter experience'.
there's one thing we can all agree with; when it comes to 'scoring' something like wine it's partially
subjective and to many it's imprecise at best. While
I may find some agreement with that statement and with a few of the "points" haters positions, I don't find any
of their arguments compelling enough to not use the 100 point scale. But I have altered some of its meanings and changed a few of the definitions to make it a bit more fun.
After all we’re talking
about a 'sensory' experiences and not everyone has the same experiences that we
do. Even Mrs. Cuvee and I can differ on some wines to my surprise, because
mostly we are aligned. But still there are those outliers which defy my
understanding and hers. But that said, let us take chocolate for example
everyone [nearly] loves and appreciates it, some have no interest in it at all,
but those folks are what we call the exception. You can't make a set of rules for
the exceptions, you simply must discount their interpretation.
So when you take the odd
exceptions out of the scoring equation, you'll find that the points really
start to make sense and that they become a good barometer. The scoring system
in place [the 100 point scale], used by the major publications works for
everyday folks who don't taste hundreds of wines each and every year. The best
advice about the whole point’s scheme [yes, it's a scheme oh-my] is to find someone who closely matches
their own preferences in wine, [yes, mentioned before] especially when in doubt about a certain producer or region of unfamiliarity.
For example; I was in Oregon
last year for the Wine Bloggers Conference, I went to what I've dubbed as a
"Blending Camp" at R. Stuart
and Co. When it came time to make a team to for what would be the final blend of
Pinot Noir, we chose teammates that we knew had a similar palate to our own. Having
done that, we came to a quick and ready blend [by comparison], which I thought
was superior to the other tables. The name of our teams wine was, “Reverence” a fantastic Oregon Pinot Noir.
Now, if you
have ever wondered how I come up the scores for the wines that I review, well
then you are in luck. Because today, I'm going to spill the beans, as it were.
Perhaps you may have been wondering what a certain score means. If you've ever
had either of those questions, but some how never made your way over to my
"about the review process" page, I've decided to put it out here,
front and center. That way, there's no question about what the points mean and
what they will mean to you, if you happen to be silly enough to follow my
The score: Yes, I use the
100 point scale, if this makes you unhappy or you disagree with
that method, well that’s unfortunate. Sorry to say, there will be no smiley
faces, stars, cartoon wine glasses, or A,B, C grades, nope just cold hard numbers [ouch]. The score of wine will break down this
way; I give every wine a base point score of 50 points and then I add the following:
Color: Up to 5
Aroma: Up to 10
Flavor: Up to 10
Texture: Up to 10
Overall: Up to 10
also use QPR [the quality, price, ratio] score of up to 5 points.
What the scores mean:
95-100 Epic: Will you
marry me? Let's run off to Vegas together!
Juice: Wanna meet my folks?
85-89 Very Good: Hey,
can I call you tomorrow?
80-84 Okay: Oops,
looks like I lost your number.
75-79 Marginal: Um
what was your name again? [will not be reviewed]
50-74 Dreadful: Um,
why was this bottled? Not even recommended for Vinegar. [will not be
reviewed] After all life is too short to review bad wine.
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“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
While some wine-writers only sit in front of their computer screens giving their opinions about the wines sent to them from PR agencies, still others venture out to see the place where the wines are made, speak with the wine-makers, taste the wine out of barrel and trod upon the soil where the vines grow. Travel gives writers unimaginable perspective, one simply unattainable by simply reading a book, the back label or a mere web-page. Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to do just that last year, travel, quite a bit and in more locales than I thought imaginable. I hope to do more of the same this year.
In fact I went to Oregon twice last year, to get a closer survey of the wine-scene, one which is ever changing, but in some ways it's staying the same. I'm hoping to head out to Oregon again this year, I've an invitation for the harvest on the table and I can barely contain my excitement over the prospect, so I look forward to making my way back to Oregon once more in the near future.
Now about the winery in today's spotlight Matello Wines. I was given the heads up by a good friend, his name is Frank Morgan, all around nice guy, and fellow wine-blogger of Drink What You Like fame. He said, "Bill, if you're going to Oregon [lucky-dog] then you need to check Matello Wines and speak with Marcus Goodfellow. So because I trust Frank, I make the appointment and I was so glad I did. Wow, I was very impressed by the overall quality of the wines presented that day and I'm sure you will find something that you just can't be without yourself.
Marcus, opened at least 7 different bottles of wine that afternoon and each one of them had an enjoyable quality, I really wanted to take one of each home, but Mrs. Cuvee was there to make sure I showed some restraint [buzz-kill]. And besides I had limited return space in my checked-luggage, even with the addition. We got to taste the Vio, Riesling, a White Pinot, a four different Pinot Noir's. The Riesling, made is a dry style was very good, pear, apple, wet-stone and well balanced.
But their 2010 Duex Vert Vineyard, Viognier really wowed me, I'm always a sucker for this varietal, but find it's rarely done right. But this wine had me at the nose and it really delivered on the first quaff, boasting of ample structure and natural acidity. This wine had some very sexy aromatics, fresh peaches and a pop of white flowers. The first slurp was, wow a pitched-tent of near summer-ripe nectarines, citrus and white peach flavors which combine for a suave blend of richness and energy, coupled with great length. I scored this wine 91 points, it's really out-standing example of cool climate Viognier.
I know my friend Frank is partial to the Durant Vineyards and I can see why, but my palate told me that the Whistling Ridge was the place I needed to be and took two of those bad boys home. The 2010 Whistling Ridge Pinot Noir
This wine offers generous
upfront fruit, right along its exceptional structure. Factors that will easily make
this wine a keeper for my collection, but it’s sufficiently balanced in its
youthful exuberance that it could be enjoyed immediately. The wine is fruit
forward, but without being over-opulent. It hits your mid-palate and digs a
well of elegant, and yet persistent flavors, baking spices, rich earth,
The tannins are nicely integrated and the finish long and
lasting. I scored this wine 93
points, this wine is a prime example of what Oregon Pinot can deliver in the
right hands. Selling for just under $40 is an amazing deal. Not sure he has
even released this wine yet, but stay tuned folks, because once he does, this wine
will sell quickly, don’t miss out! Okay folks like I said, if you don't know about this producer, in my opinion you should, if you've not sampled his wines yet, I'd beat a path to his door quick, make an appointment if possible or just wait until he releases the wines I mentioned, you won't be disappointed. Until next time, slurp long and prosper cheers!
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“I like stepping into the
future, therefore, I look for doorknobs.”~ Unknown
As many of you know I spent four fantastic
days last December exploring Oregon Wine Country. Most of those travels took me
really no further than an hour to hour an half depending on traffic away from downtown Portland. It would
seem that our trip occurred during the very last of the fall weather, as it
began to snow at Youngberg Hill the very next day after we left.
While many folks will normally associate Oregon with ‘rain’ and
boy did we see plenty of it while we were there; but in reality it only
qualified as drizzle for most part. Oregon is about far more than rainy damp weather, there's a whole other-side just waiting to be explored. But it did seem like we brought some of that cold
wet-weather back with us [Mrs. Cuvee and I] to San Diego, needed yes, but unexpected
none-the-less. In fact the rainy wet-stuff here just cleared away, leaving us
with crisp, clear blue-skies [I know you’re jealous].
Second if you ask most vino-sapiens what
Oregon is well known for, they would most ultimately say Pinot Noir. What you
may not know is that Oregon
also has a vast, growing foodie-culture, there’s a food revolution sprouting up
everywhere, collectively putting them on the gastronomical globe. A fact to
which I could easily attest to, coming home a few pounds heavier, than when I
If bourbon or beer is your thing, you’re
in luck because there are numerous distilleries and breweries [really too many
to count] located in the environs of downtown Portland, situated just minutes away from
their well organized airport.
But for the vino-sapiens in the audience, Oregon is known for its rich
wine-making tradition. But what many folks may not realize is that no-one
really started making wine until the 19th century, when cherries,
apples and pears were the mainstay. Then keeping with Oregon’s pioneering spirit in the early 20th
century, the modern wine-making industry we know today, sprang to life around
the grape we all know and love, Pinot Noir.
One of the places I didn’t get to visit
the last time I was in Oregon; is Ken Wright
Cellars in downtown Carlton.
Their tasting room is located in an old train-depot; the winery itself is
located about a block away. Mr. Wright previously only offered visits by
appointment only and purchasing of his wine was done through a futures program.
And now if you’d like to purchase any of
his current release outside of the 2010 KWC PN Willamette Valley, it will have
to be done by the six-pack. And no it
can’t be a mixed half-case either; you’ll need to show some commitment to your
favorite wine in the tasting or go home empty handed. Now you can find single
bottles of Ken Wright Cellars PN in a few retail stores, but you may not find
the one you recently sampled.You can also easily find
his wines online at the Oregon Wine Merchants, where they can be purchased in
singles, mix and match, coupled with a reasonable shipping charge.
But unfortunately you can’t taste them
first; you’ll just have to take your chances. I tasted through four of his
Pinot’s and ended up favoring the 2008 Savoya Yamhill-Carlton AVA, which is now
sold out. I alsotasted the 2008 Carter, Canary Hill and the 2009 Guadalupe, which were good, but not $60 a bottlegood in my estimation. Be sure to sample their relatively new Tyrus Evan label [seen above], there's a 2007 Ciel Du Cheval Claret [$35], not to be missed.
The 08 Savoya offered up power, grace and
elegance. A substantial wine, red cherry and baking spice dominate, while dried
herbs and forest floor flavors play in the background. Fine grained tannins are
well integrated and wrap this wine up in a pretty bow, suitable for gift giving
or for spoiling yourself. This wine sold
for $65 in the tasting room and new vintages can be found online for $48. I
scored the wine I ended up taking home, 93 points, it’s pretty amazing juice
really. Until next time folks, continue to sip long and prosper cheers!
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"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance...it is the illusion
of knowledge" ~Stephen Hawkins
Well, well welcome to the brave new world
of 2013, I hope everyone had a brilliant holiday season and are now ready to
face the New Year. With all the new hopes, dreams and aspirations, whatever they may be
and where ever they may take you, I wish you all a prosperous New Year.
Opening my twitter account today; really
for first time since the beginning of the New Year, I came upon a conversation
[which you should read]with the well-known NYT Wine Critic Eric
Asimov. I missed the opportunity to interact in the conversation, but was
still able to take a look at how it unfolded.
Here's one of the more interesting
exchanges I saw today, Megmaker
asked via Twitter, "Do you prefer to be called a "wine writer"
or a "wine critic and why? Mr. Asimov's reply, "Honestly don't care.
Way too much energy spent on that question. Critic has specific NYT meaning, so
am proud of title"
Wine Critic or Wine Writer hmm, it’s a good
question, but to be honest not one I think about too often. I just don't take
myself all too serious and neither should you. I write from my heart, I use my
instincts and couple those insights with my experience, to give what I think
are solid, fact based recommendations. The only real caveat hereis; you
need to have a similar palate to my own. I tend to follow reviewers advicewho I've
tasted with before, compared notes and found we tend to like similar styles of
wine. That said, if you read this blog, you would do well to do the same.
There was another comment in that same
thread which stated [not sure who it was attributable to] "Writer"
connotes a more open mind and palate, which I believe is essential to conveying
passion". A statement to which finds me nodding in complete agreement. Take a
look at my new logo for example, the one on my twitter profile [and biz-cards],
you'll see it says 'wine-writer'. After all I do write and it's about wine, what
else should the title be? I think it is sufficient, after all this is just a
But in reading this blog,
you will come to one immediate conclusion; I'm NOT a classically trained writer
by any stretch of the imagination. So for the purist out there, this blog is
NOT for you. But if you want the scoop, on what I think are some the best wines
available today, please stay tuned, you'll be glad you did. Has my blog become more readable than it was it 2008, well I'll let my stats do the talking for me, you can find them just to theright and below ifyou're truly interested.
Here was another question ask by Megmaker, "Please say more about
your view of wine tasting notes, and how best to achieve
"context-sensitive" wine writing" and Eric Asimov's answer, "Hard to
account for context in notes. I think general stylistic characteristics are
better than overly precise".
Again, here I find myself in agreement
with Mr. Asimov's point regarding wine writing in general. I think some folks
try way too hard to impress others with their wine-knowledge [aka, geekiness]
and end up coming off as the garden variety snob. Honestly folks, who even
thinks of things like "context-sensitive" wine writing? I had to chuckle
a bit to myself seeing that and winced a bit reading it, breathing an
"oh-brother" out loud.
C'mon folks let us all just get over
ourselves, write about what you are passionate about [whether it's wine or
Frisbees] and keep writing to improve howyou communicate about that passion.
And like Mr.Asimov tweeted today;
"Write, write, write! If you want to be a writer, that's what you must do,
regardless of pay". And to that I say a hearty amen brother! I know my writing
in November and December has been far less productive than normal, but look for it to
return in the coming months.
For me personally, I'm more of a
spectator. I seldom get my hands dirty [little grape picking], on my journey of wine discovery, oh
perhaps the splash back from the spit bucket and the occasional sporting of the
glaring purple grin now and then. But there's no actual sweat on my brow, as I
bang on the keyboard. So whether you think me a wine writer, critic or just the
garden variety run of the mill opinionated vino-sapien, my only goal is the
help you drink better and for a whole lot less when possible.
With that said, there are going to be some
changes this year regarding my wine-blog. Number one, I will no longer accept
samples for review; I'm done with that scene [If a wine was submitted for review last year, there's still a review pending]. Number two, I will no longer
accept advertising of any kind, I'm done with that scene as well. And number three, look to see some [not saying
how many] tweet-up events that will not be sponsored by anyone, but perhaps
hosted by a San Diego group who will remain nameless for the moment.
will be one of the very few which will be completely 'independent' and that my
fellow vino-sapiens is really something to think about, as we move forward. So until next time remember life is too short to drink bad wine and too short to drink wines with no real sense of place. Just say to no to "Cheap, Homogenized, Lifeless Commodities" found on the bottom shelvesof places like your local wally-world. Instead say yes, to exploring and keeping an open-mind, open heart and above all an open-palate, there's a world of wine waiting for you to explore, so get busy and as alwaysrememberto slurp long and prosper cheers!
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“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead to where there is no path
and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Jazz is like wine. When it
is new, it is only for the experts, but when it gets older, everybody wants it.
*The info-graphic above is provided courtesy of Beringer Vineyards
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"Imperfection is beauty. Madness is genius and it is better to be
absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring." - Marilyn Monroe
Good morning everyone, I trust most of you're readyfor the up and coming holiday known to manyas Christmas; I wanted to take this opportunity to wish each of you and yours, avery Merriest of Christmas and a prosperous New Year ahead.
Funny I went all the way to Oregon to discover this little gem from Burgundy, but as I've come to find out, there are many wonderful things to be found in unexpected places.
If you're thinking about putting a toe in pool of Burgundian wines, may I suggest this bottle [pictured above] would be agood place to start. The price of admission is $40 to $50 depending on where you shop, but well worth it. I scored the wine 90 points and highly recommend you giving it a swirl.
At Joseph Drouhin you will find unique balance, one where tradition and modern techniques blend together and comes together to create wines which truly characterizesmodern winemaking.Whether it's theirvineyard management via their on site nursery, the100% hand harvesting, open fermenters, and the judicious use of 100% French Oak, one thing you easily take away from their wines is that sense of place, something so often missing in domestically produced juice.
For those of you looking to get your hands on wineswhich are Organically Certified, you'll be happy to know that starting with the 2009 vintage and moving forwardhas recentlybeen awarded "organic certification" [an expensive and laborious process]for all grapes grown within its vineyards.
As it would happen, the wine is this review spot-light is a 2009 and a fantastic representation of interestly different style of quality in regards to Pinot Noir than you may be use to, but stick with me and you will see this wine makes a great starting point for dipping your toe in the proverbial Burgundian pool [well at least I think so].
There's nothing fancy here, justhonest-to-goodness Pinot Pleasure. Is this wine going to set your hair on fire? Uh, most likely not, but what it will do is allure you with its suave sophistication and beckon you to more fully explore this region [if you have not done so already]. The perfect wine to open and enjoy with your holiday feast; whether it be duck or even a Christmas Goose [oh-my], this wine is a foodies friend.
By the way; this just may be a bit of bragging on their part, but does appear to be quite accurate, that the village of Morey is located between Gevrey-Chambertin and Chambolle-Musigny. Here comes the bragging part, "there are five Grand Crus and twelve Premier Crus in this relatively small appellation".
I'd recommend a bit of decanting before diving-in, but what you'll find on the nose is dried-cherries, raspberriesand sweet-leather. The palate shows great structure and weight, but like many of the 2009's it is very approachable, with easilyplucked low-hanging fruit, balance nicely with rich earth. The finish is long, lasting. This wine is in my estimation the"complete-package" onethat will have you wanting more, so be smart order more than just one. Until next time folks remember to sip long and prosper, cheers!
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“Never use jargon words like reconceptualize,
demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They’re hallmarks of a
pretentious ass.” – David Ogilvy
That's good advice and part of the reason why you'll never see me using words like that to describe the great wines I find, wines that give the consumer [vino-sapiens like me]a real bang for the buck like the one above.
Now about this fantastic wine from Mendoza, a wine which I really enjoyed so much more than the 2009 vintage. But that said, this 2010 which you will find in good abundance [but dilly-dally]at places like Costco here in San Diego, selling for just under $17 is a terrific value. I scored this wine 90 points, this is that Tuesday wine you've been looking for, so get after it.
It's a delightful blend of Malbec and and 40% Bonarda. Right now you may be thinking uh, what the bleep is Bonarda, one thing for sure it's not a grape found in the common every day vernacular of the garden-variety vino-sapien. It's an Italian grape, that found a home in Argentina. If you like to read more about it, just click here.
This wine has a lot to offer, but is best
uncorked the day before and left in the pantry overnight with the cork out [trust-me]. You
find that this wine has some chalk [picture a couple old-school erasers being
beaten together], it has some pretty hardy tannins and it does an earthy and
black licoricething, while at the same time slapping you along side the head with crates
of ripe blueberry and blackberry pie character, full bodied and a lively finish.
So you want to do some pairing huh, okay I can make a recommendation in that department as well. You could go for things like barbecue ribs, elk-burger and fries or if you've come home late from work like I did the other day, still toting half a sandwich you didn't finish at lunch, then folks youare in luck, because that [turkey/bacon half sandwich] pairing rocked [full disclosure the sandwich picturedabove is just a prop].I also grabbed some of my famous left over chili, just enough for a small bowl and healthy handful of salt and pepper chips. So as you can see from this description, this wine is an easy wine pairing champ, the sky is the limit nearly. Until next folks remember to sip long and prosper cheers!
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We must walk consciously only part way toward our
goal and then leap in the dark to our success. - Henry David Thoreau
Wayne and Nicolette took a leap of faithwhen they purchasedYoungberg Hill in 2003, overhauling the entire estate including vineyard management, winemaking, tasting room, and hospitality area.What they havediscovered iswonderful success with theirfantastic Wine Country Inn [Bed and Breakfast] and goregous wedding venue which is attached to areal working winery,which isproducing some mighty fine Pinot Noir, just a short drive outside of the town of McMinnville in Oregon.
As many of you know I spent the better part of a long weekend visiting with the great folks at Youngberg Hill and other wonderful producers who call the Oregon Wine Country home. Mrs. Cuvee and I were guests of Youngberg Hill and stayed in one the Inn's fantastic eight rooms. The views from the 2nd floor roomsare quite stunning [see picture below]. Each morning you awake with nearly a full panoramic view of the vineyards, the road leading up to the house and on a clear day you see for miles and miles. Be sure to say hi to their very friendly [out-door] cat Truffle.
In tasting a good many of
their Pinot Noir offerings, I encountered two very different styles, from two very distinctive terroirs. This comes from an estate vineyard, farmed organically [Salmon Safe Certified] and biodynamically, and legally in conversion tobiodynamic certification. On the wines hailing from the Natasha’s Block which consists of 6.6 estate acres with a southeast
facing; I found the nose brimming with notes of rich earth, oak,
cut-black tea and not fully ripe cherry. Finely integrated acidity makes way for tastes of dark cherry and plums, which are easily
enveloped in oak and savory herbs, pushing fruit to the background. The earthy
tannins are followed by a smooth, yet relaxing finish.
Regarding the wines form
block, it’s a completely different experience. I would dare to say that if you
have a California Pinot Noir palate, one which tends to favor wines with a broader,
more approachable mouth-feel, than the Jordan Block wines are for you. The Jordan
Block sits on 4 fog-kissed estate acres facing South East at a steeper slope than the
Natasha and is described as a more Burgundian in style.
I was all about the Jordan block, when I first sampled the 2008 Jordan, which
sells for $40, my first thoughts was, alright here we go, this is what I’m
talking about. Then the next wine really got my attention, it was the 2008
Jordan Block Barrel Select, which oddly is not on their website, but it sells
for $65.I scored this wine 93 points.
And let there be no doubt, this
wine is worth every penny, you could cellar for many years, but why would you
when it’s drinking ever so nicely right now. I scored two of these wines for
myself to take home. For those who are curious about the clones here you go; 60% Pommard and 40% Wadenswil on American Root
The 2008 Barrel
Select has the rich and charming fruit and a plethora of bright cherry and
cranberry [not tart] concentration; it was truly what I was expecting from this
site, but not from this vintage. You’ll find more red fruited character over
the darker fruits; the wine has a succulent texture and lovely finish. Honestly
what's not to like?
purchasing the wine the morning before my departure, from the assistant
wine-maker [Jess] and chef, he remarked about my apparent love of oak. Ha, I guess that fits, I love the
judicious use of oak; and firmly believe the abuse of oak by some, should not
lead to an automatic knee-jerk reaction of extremely limited oak interaction or
even toast levels. Honestly folks, deep down we all know it's about balance, too much of anything, tends not to be a good thing; whether it's in the the vineyard or the crush-pad, balance is everything.
experiences at the Inn,
wow is the operative word. This fantastic place is quiet and cozy, perfect for
those seeking to get away from it all. Once you arrive, you may find yourselfgreeted my
mouth-watering glasses of Pinot Noir, you arrive to a comfy, well appointed
room, with no TV. The shower warms up real fast, the Wi-Fi works amazingly well
and you just 15 minutes from McMinnville, which has many tasty spots to eat.
Whether you want a pub-like experience [McMenamins]or you want to dial it up a notch or two [Thistle]
there’s something for everyone.
When it comes
time for breakfast [9:00am], it’s just the right amount to get your day started
and their custom roast coffee will you happily and fully caffeinated. The Inn
you will find in located right in the thick of it all, makes a great jumping
off point or as I like to call it base of operations for scouring the
country-side for Pinot Noir to take back home.
By the way; if
you end up like I did [and it’s not hard to do] with two full cases of wine,
you can either have them shipped home $45 for basic ground or if you play it smart
and chose to fly Southwest, where you can check those cases for little extra out of
pocket. I purchased two case boxes in town [$24], but in truth they only hold nine
bottles. If you want it to fit 12, it has to be the standard Bordeaux bottle to
fit correctly and you will not find any Pinot Noir in that style of bottle.
If you’d like
to stay with them, the off-season is a great time to do so, in fact it's snowing there at the moment.In the off-season the winemakers have
much more time to speak with you, as well as the tasting room staff, as there
are few other folks up during the very rainy time of year. Okay folks, I know
it has been quite a while since my last post, but I hope you enjoyed today’s
article and will give the wines from Youngberg Hill a swirl for yourself, until
next time sip long and prosper cheers!
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All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on! ~ Henry Ellis
This the first review written entirely via my iPhone, using the Blogger app I just down-loaded. So we shall see how it goes. In the spotlight for my wine of interest this time is the Franciscan 2008 Magnificat.
This wine was a sample sent for the review process. It has a SRP of $50, itsells at most places for just under $30, but the rumor of this wine selling under $20 is misleading at best. I scored this wine 90 points and can recommend it to you highly. Suave and sophisticated are the keywords here.
A Bordeaux [aka Meritage] style blend consisting of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and finally a few drops of Petit Verdot and Malbec. A wine aged for 20 months in 2nd use French oak barrels. This wine has boatloads of finesse and flavor, a hour in the decanter is recommended for maximum enjoyment.
The nose is crazy inviting, it just lures you in like a big-mouth bass on a spinner. Notes of dried herbs, vanilla, ripe plum and licorice are just a preview of the coming attractions. On the palate this wine is not shy about toasted oak and espresso but there is plenty of vibrant acidity to keep it all on balance. Sweet plum and fig join the chorus, with a few wise cracks from other dark fruits. The tannins are well integrated and nearly seamless and the finish while a bit dry sails on and on.
This wine is drinking very nicely now and will continue to do so over the next few years. I found it to bea very polished wine, with layers to it, only to be uncovered by decanting. Until next time folks remember sip long and prosper cheers!
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Life is too short not to make the best and the most of everything that
comes your way everyday. -Sasha Azevedo
Life is also
too short too drink bad wine, a point to which even the garden-variety
vino-sapien would agree with. It's on this point, one of the reasons why I implore
everyone I know and every reader who stops by this blog to catch up with the
wines that make their way to my glass; to please stop going to the same well
over and over [explore] and just say 'no' to mass produced chemistry set wines,
commonly known as plonk.
Now that I've
got my opening rant out of the way, it's time to put a wine in the spotlight
that is a fantastic value, pound for pound, this Pinot Noir from the RRV is one
I'm highly recommending that you run out grab a few. This was not a sample but
a wine I procured recently from my local neighborhood Costco for just under
$14. If you'd like you can read more of the details about this tasty example of
what the RRV can offer in Pinot here.
It will need to be decanted, [one hour] it's a bit shy and reticent about showing its ample goods, but once it's has time to relax and get to know you, then look out. Folks, this wine is just sitting in these stores, barely moving, but in my opinion it's quite a bargain for the thirsty vino-sapien. So please put down that bottle ofLa CremaPN [$19]this time and step up to a real-wine which really says, "you cantaste where I am from" besides if you do you'll save a few bucks to boot.
Peeking back at the few notesI scribbled out afterpopping the
cork just a few nights ago, I found the texture and mouth-feel of this
wine quite impressive. It was rich and velvety and infused with typical Pinot
Noir fruit flavors coming through each and every long slurp, but restrained
finish told me this is no cocktail wine.
Once you pop the cork, nice
bright clear crimson-red core; a
fragrant bouquet slaps your nose with gently spicy berries and wet earth, these
aromas easily make their way over to your palate. I scored this wine88 solidpoints,
it pairs ever so nicely with manypoultry dishes, the sky is the limit. A wonderful Tuesday-night wine, you won't mind popping the cork and enjoying all evening. It will contiune to evolve and come alive, so until next time folks remember to sip long and prosper cheers!
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