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POS Fodder

Date: Wed, Dec 9, 2009 Wine Tasting

Last week I had them right in my sights. In the crosshairs was The Wine Enthusiast and the painful, slutty commercialism of their “Wine Star” awards. I put up a blistering post, but later took it down. Why?” Because it doesn’t matter and I’m tired of railing against an obsolescent machine that is not worth the energy. When I woke in the morning my snit looked a little pitiful in the light of reality, which is The Wine Enthusiast does not matter one bit. As the Big Dog, The Wine Spectator, slowly slides into oblivion, its bad copy, The Wine Enthusiast, is worthy of no energy - good or bad. It just doesn’t matter. So few used the The Wine Enthusiast as their wine guide at its peak that they were irrelevant anyway. The reviews in The Wine Enthusiast were nothing more than POS fodder - producers would use their points for neckers and shelf talkers - things you hung on bottles in stores to help sell wines to consumers that did not know any better. Nobody ever had a brand take off because of The Wine Enthusiast.

The king pins, The Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate, are becoming ghosts of their former selves - powerful still, but spiraling into meaningless oblivion. Bad copies like The Wine Enthusiast are not worthy of my time, nor yours.The fact is that nobody sells wine of quality because they got a review in The Wine Enthusiast.

I do not need to rail against The Wine Enthusiast as they are their own worst enemy and define themselves in their choices for their “Wine Star” awards, which were clearly won based on the recipients capacity to deliver advertising dollars to The Wine Enthusiast combined with their ability to extract maximum profit from consumers. So we have mass brand producers dominate the awards with bland wines that pack in the bucks, while real winemakers are ignored - Wine Stars? I think not.

The Hall of Shame this year:

And the winners are

  • Man of the Year:Ted Baseler,Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

  • American Winery of the Year:Trinchero Family Estates,California

  • European Winery of the Year:Mezzacorona,Italy

  • New World Winery of the Year:Yalumba,Australia

  • Retailer of the Year:Best Cellars at A&P,Joshua Wesson

  • Innovator of the Year:Gary Vaynerchuk,Wine Library

  • Importer of the Year:Winebow,Leonardo LoCascio

  • Winemaker of the Year:Scott McLeod,Rubicon Estate, Francis Ford Coppola

  • Distiller of the Year:Hendrick’s Gin,Scotland

  • Wine Region of the Year:Valpolicella,Italy
Honoring for…
  • Lifetime Achievement
:Harvey Chaplin,Southern Wine & Spirits

Posted via email from Wine Camp Blog/Posterous Edition

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Fall colors - Napa November

Date: Tue, Nov 17, 2009 Wine Tasting

Fall colors - Napa cabernet vines near Yountville on a November morning.

Posted via email from Wine Camp Blog/Posterous Edition

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Last harvest - Cabernet vines ripped out after harvest 2009

Date: Thu, Nov 12, 2009 Wine Tasting

Last harvest - Cabernet vines ripped out of a Yountville vineyard after harvest 2009.

Posted via email from Wine Camp Blog/Posterous Edition

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Date: Mon, Nov 9, 2009 Wine Tasting

Smooth. Is there a smoother red wine made than Valpolicella? Add a touch of ripasso richness and you get a great wine bargain. Ripasso, the process of adding the pressed grapes from Amarone to Valpolicella causing it to referment, elevates Valpolicella from a lovely everyday wine to one worthy of special occations.

The 2006 Capitel della Valpolicella Ripasso from Montrasor is such a wine. Ripe, round and velvety without a touch of heaviness, it delivers an excellent wine at a very fair price - under $20.

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Scary Harvest

Date: Sun, Nov 1, 2009 Wine Tasting

Cabernet sill on the vine on Halloween

Posted via email from Wine Camp Blog/Posterous Edition

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Last of Summer

Date: Wed, Oct 28, 2009 Wine Tasting

A fresh tomato salad from The French Laundry Garden at Bouchon in Yountville.

Posted via email from The Wine Camp Blog

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Dawn over Yountville 10/26/09

Date: Mon, Oct 26, 2009 Wine Tasting

Late October dawn over Yountville

Posted via email from The Wine Camp Blog

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Mixed Blacks

Date: Fri, Oct 23, 2009 Wine Tasting

Mixed blacks, an old term that used to be the backbone of wines like Gallo’s Hearty Burgundy. It was a catch all phrase for varieties that did not command a premium like those that could be bottled under their own name. It also referred to a very old way of planting as farmers would plant many different varieties in their vineyards so they wouldn’t have all their grapes in one basket - if one variety had a bad year perhaps the others would do better. The ‘mixed blacks’ were the bottom of the totem pole and got bottom dollar for the farmer. Today that’s turned on its head as these old mixed planting vineyards have become a national treasure of old vines and interesting varieties.

Girard Winery has taken full advantage of one of these vineyards producing their 2006 Girard Mixed Blacks from a century old vineyard with a mixed planting of syrah, zinfandel, petite sirah, grenache, mourvedre, carignane and a few other varieties whose identity remain a mystery. All the varieties are co-fermented (always an interesting idea) and aged in a blend of French (85%) and American oak for eighteen months. What a wine this is! Loaded with explosive black fruit and layered with earthy touches of porcini and smoked meats, it fills the mouth without being heavy. Girard has avoided the ponderous, one dimensional character of so many “old vine” wines from these varieties. A crisp acid bite keeps this wine alive and it will remind Rhone lovers of a good Cornas or Crozes Hermitage, of course with an added dose of ripe California fruit.

Too few of these great old vineyards survived the rush to plant more fashionable varieties. It’s great to see a winery give such an old treasure its due.

Posted via email from craigcamp’s posterous

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Chave Bargains

Date: Thu, Oct 22, 2009 Wine Tasting

Chave and bargain don’t usually go together and indeed this is one of the most expensive Cotes du Rhone wines you’ll find, but it’s worth every dime. I found the 2004 Chave Mon Coeur Cotes du Rhone tucked away on a back shelf for $20 and it was indeed a bargain. The extra few years in bottle has amplified its personality, which is rich with brooding notes of bacon, butcher shop and black pepper layered over lush, intense black fruit. It’s wonderful when great winemakers like Chave use their considerable skills to produce not only great wines, but affordable ones.

Posted via email from craigcamp’s posterous

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Vielles Vignes under $20

Date: Wed, Oct 21, 2009 Wine Tasting

2006 Domaine La Milliere Vieilles Vignes Cotes du Rhone

Old vines, not filtered, under $20 and delicious, what more could you want? Actually this wine is more than delicious offering real complexity and flavor and no simple fruity stuff either, but earthy, warm complex fruit with a structured backbone that makes this wine exceptional with food. How do they do it? They have to grow and make the wine, ship it to the USA, put a importers markup on it followed by a wholesalers then a retailers markup and it still costs under $20 or $30 in a restaurant. It’s damn embarrassing for us American winemakers. Grab cases of this beauty and enjoy.

Posted via email from craigcamp’s posterous

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Feds Stop Fighting Medical Marijuana Laws

Date: Wed, Oct 21, 2009 Wine Tasting

The recent decision by the Federal Government to accept state medical marijuana laws seems to have caused things to go out of control in California.

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Waiting For "Just So"

Date: Fri, Oct 9, 2009 Wine Tasting

It’s a waiting game. We’re waiting for “just so”. Simple ripeness is not enough. Everything has to be just right - sugars, acids and phenolics all have to be “just so”. It’s a tough balance to achieve and in many vintages, like Godot, it never arrives. Because nature rarely offers perfection harvest is usually a battle of nerves - ours vs. Mother Nature’s and Mother Nature always wins. For small production wines like Cornerstone it’s all about precision harvesting. We focus all of our attention on small blocks of vineyards and strive to harvest at the moment of perfection when everything is “just so”. This year it seems that Godot himself has actually arrived as each of our vineyards has been coming in at the perfect point. Picking at perfection is only attained by being in the vineyards and knowing your vines. Pictured above, Cornerstone’s winemaker Jeff Keene (left) and consulting winemaker Peter Franus walk our Hardman Road Block in southern Napa near Silverado Country Club. We’ve picked half of our Cabernet Sauvignon now, but this block, a cooler site, is perhaps a week or more away. Indeed things are looking very, very good in Napa.

Posted via email from craigcamp’s posterous

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