Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wine Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Creepy Wine Empire, you're doing it right....

Ernest and Julio Gallo, the "we want to be the Campbell's Soup of the wine world" guys creep me out!! Seriously, am I the only one freaked out by exactly how FAR their creepy little fingers have spread?!?!?!? Maybe it has something to do with the sordid tale of their lives, involving a murder/suicide of their mother by their father.
The significant campaign contributions to people like Nancy Pelosi are interesting.
Although I totally give them kudos on implementing the "Code of Sustainable Wine Growing Practices"
Here's a list, by no means complete, of all the labels owned by the Gallo brothers.
  • Anapamu
  • André
  • Ballatore
  • Barefoot Cellars
  • Barefoot Bubbly
  • Bartles & Jaymes
  • Bella Sera
  • Black Swan
  • Boone's Farm
  • Bridlewood Estate Winery
  • Carlo Rossi
  • Cask & Cream
  • Clarendon Hills
  • Dancing Bull
  • DaVinci
  • Don Miguel Gascon
  • E. & J. VS Brandy
  • E. & J. VSOP Brandy
  • E. & J. XO Brandy
  • Ecco Domani
  • Frei Brothers
  • Frutézia
  • Gallo Family Vineyard Estate
  • Gallo Family Vineyard Single Vineyard
  • Gallo Family Vineyard Sonoma Reserve
  • Gallo Family Vineyard Twin Valley
  • Ghost Pines
  • Hornsby's (the gross hard cider)
  • Indigo Hills
  • Liberty Creek
  • Livingston Cellars
  • Louis M. Martini
  • MacMurray Ranch
  • Marcelina
  • Martĩn Cõdax
  • Maso Canali
  • Mattie's Perch
  • McWilliam's
  • Mirassou
  • New Amsterdam Gin
  • Peter Vella
  • Pölka Dot
  • Rancho Zabaco
  • Red Bicyclette
  • Redwood Creek
  • Red Rock Winery
  • Sebeka
  • Tisdale Vineyards
  • Thunderbird (omg eew!)
  • Turning Leaf
  • Turning Leaf Sonoma Reserve
  • Whitehaven
  • William Hill Estate
  • Wild Vines
  • Wycliff Sparkling

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The fault, dear Riesling, is not in our stars....

So I was listening to NPR's Kojo Nnamdi show, with Michael Franz ( wine review online) and Paul Lukacs (Washington Times) as his guests. The topic of the segment was Riesling. Mainly, it was about Riesling's popularity, and yet it never actually manages to take off in the way of Merlot or Pinot Noir,or hell, even Pinot Grigio from Italy (lemon water) and exploring why that is. And then, naturally, callers called in claiming their undying love and allegiance to Rieslings.

This topic of discussion is getting old. Really old. Go to any wine tasting, read any wine article or blog or book, and sooner or later this debate comes up. Why are we beating a dead horse? Riesling is a wonderful grape, when vinified skillfully, it produces an amazing wine. Lots of people love it. I'm one of them! Just like pizza and sex, even when it's bad, it's still pretty good! I think most people start out on Riesling and then branch out from there, like Riesling is the gateway drug of the wine world.

Lots of people are still scarred from what I like to call the "Blue Nun" years. The demand increased for these amazing German babies, and then the market was flooded with horrible sugar bombs, even the hobos wouldn't touch it,stuff so bad it offended the jug wines! Then Germany stepped in and, well, you know the rest....

What I'm saying is that I think Riesling has HAD it's day. I think it will always be the next big thing, that perennial emotional favorite. That's it's place in the wine world. Riesling has it's niche, just like Merlot or Pinot or hell, even jug wine for that matter. Can't we just enjoy it and find something else to nitpick about already? Like the sad homogenization of wine, or the lack of easy to understand information. Or why don't we go back to the Right Bank vs. Left Bank one, I never get tired of that!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

2005 Bonny Doon Cardinal Zin, Central Coast

Bought this on a whim, as I'd been meaning to get more into the much-maligned Zins. Drinking it was as much fun as reading the label!! Seriously, check it out sometime, unless you live in Ohio, where, apparently, it's banned. And, naturally, that just makes me want to drink it more!! The artist is quite a riot, too. I'm thinking of ordering some of his prints.

It was a clear, deep ruby, with a light intensity.
I got aromas of red and black fruit, dried fruit, plum,cherry, raisin, vanilla, black currant, blackberry, raspberry, smoke, black pepper, herbaceous, and some black currant leaf.
Dry, low-medium acidity, medium tannins, pronounced flavors! Definitely jammy!!
Flavors were red and black fruits, plum, raisin, black pepper, cherry, blackberry, touch of smoke.

Definitely unique, and fun! I can't wait to get some more, this definitely has a place at my table!

2006 Caymus Conundrum, California Table Wine

I must admit, I'm quite partial to Conundrum. I really like the game of figuring out the blend. I'm using figuring out quite loosely, as normally I just end up giggly with an exasperated boyfriend who rolls his eyes at all my attempts to involve him in something he clearly just wants to drink and NOT discuss! Hooray internet! ;)

Clear, pale lemon color, nose was pronounced and youthful, very fun.
Nose was full of citrus, grapefruit, peach, apricot, banana, lemon, lime, pear, honeysuckle, and melon.
It was off-dry, with a nice medium acidity, obviously low tannin, light body and a wonderfully pronounced intensity that just dances right through the palate!
Again, the flavors were citrus, lime, grapefruit, tropical fruits,peach, butter, banana, melon, vanilla, honey, and honeysuckle.
The alcohol was low, (13.5), and definitely was ready to drink!

It was interesting to witness the in-glass transformations, starting out as fresh and fruity and flirty fun, then turning into something sexy, refined, with more herbaceous characteristics showing through.
Kind of like watching Tigger turn into Shere Khan!!
Day 2 was even better!! (Yes, I'm impressed I rationed myself as well!)

2006 Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir, Central Coast

I'm a big fan of the Cycles Cab, but I wanted to try their other wines to see if they deserved those two gold medals. At $15 it's a bust, though in a side by side comparison, my "lab rat" and I enjoyed the Cab much more!!

Somewhere between ruby and garnet, with a nose of black pepper, black fruits, definitely black currant, some strawberry, sweet spice, leather, cinnamon, and clove.
It's a dry, low acid, medium tannin, medium body, pronounced intensity.
The flavors were spicy, with black pepper, clove, black fruit, black currant, and smoke being the most noticeable ones.
The alcohol was medium (13.9) with a pretty decent medium to long finish. It's an okay quality, definitely could use some age.

I wasn't blown away, and I can think of better $15 Pinots.

Cheesetique White Wine Flight Tasting Notes

Cheesetique is this awesome little place in Del Ray. We went there for dinner this past Tuesday. It's a cool little place, the hours are weird, (closed on Mondays is kind of de rigeur around here I'm learning) the people were nice, and we walked out of there with some awesome new cheese, quince paste, and some clotted cream for a friend's birthday.

Unfortunately I wasn't as impressed with the wines. Most were served way too cold, a pet peeve of mine!
So first up is the 2006 Gavala from Santorini, Greece. I'm having a hell of a time finding information on this wine, but I *think* it's made of Assyrtico and Aidani grapes. Don't quote me on that though.

It was pale lemon, with the nose being of a very light intensity. Again, I'm stressing this was dumb, so maybe that's why I didn't get much from it.
I got a lot of grass on the nose, with some lemon and lime thrown in as well.
The flavors follow along the same vein, herbaceous, lemon, lime, and something bitter I couldn't pin down.
Personally, I didn't think the wine was worth the $9 price tag.

Next on the list was a 2007 Le Paradou Blanc Provence, France (Viognier)
I was rather excited about this one, I always get excited when I see organic wines being featured, if a bit wary. I happen to be a large fan of sulfites.
Pretty pale lemon, medium intensity, aromas of pear, apple, blossoms, and bananas.
It was off dry, light intensity, flavors of green apples, white pepper, green fruits, and a touch herbaceous.
All in all, it was good, fruity, and fun! In a kind of skip and go naked kind of way. Bet it'd be great on picnics! Definitely worth eight bucks!

The last on the tasting lineup was a 2006 Albarino do ferreiro from Rias Baixas. I was super excited, since the Rias Baixas is one of those trendy little areas that (hopefully) will be getting more attention now that we're all getting more global!!
Unfortunately, this was a total letdown, it was meaty and gross. Lots of wheat, some grass, no balance no love, just ick. Seriously not worth the $14.

Quince paste is awesome stuff, a little weird (it doesn't melt!!) but awesome!

Gettin' Screwed

So I was reading this article on the fact that Stelvins are coming to pricey wines. And I'm thrilled, because this means people are finally waking up and smelling the rosé !
I'm still kind of incredulous because people are wary of this shiny new cylindrical wonder. Consumers are still holding onto their outdated hunks of bark. Is it the tradition? The romance? The noise? I got nothing....

I'm done whining now, at least for the moment.
Wait, I lied, I'm going insane over here, waiting for FedEx to deliver my wine!!
Seriously! This is important! It's hot outside!! According to the website, it's been on the delivery truck since 8:04 this morning! Vibrations are bad!!Rub some now on it already!!!!

Okay, now I'm done.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Que Syrah,(petit) Sirah, Shiraz

I'm currently flipping through Jancis Robinson's *other* obscenely cumbrous book, "The World Atlas Of Wine" because I'm beginning to think I'm a glutton for punishment. Aside from that, it's dead useful, if a bit *ahem* sleep inducing? less than inspiring? stuffy? Whatever... And it just hit me, she never differentiates between Syrah and Shiraz, and skips over the Petit Sirah, aside from a few notes about Greece and California, where it does well. It's not a huge point, I know, but it's a handy one, none the less... A wine's name can *sometimes* give you a good clue as to where it came from, other times it just serves to confuse the crap out of you! Like, seriously, what's up with the weird name-swapping thing? Like Morio-Muskat, which is a Sylvaner & Pinot Blanc crossing. No Morio, Muscat, Muscadelle, Moscato, Moscatel, yada yada, we get the point...

Personally, I think we should start forcing a rename, and not in the oddball- marketing -Robert- Mondavi-Sauvignon-Blanc-as-Fume-Blanc (because we're afraid to screw up the pronunciation) kind of way, but in a more fun way... Sorry, I'm not creative enough to come up with a new name that doesn't involve a curse word... I'm open to suggestion though!

Incidentally, an easy way to remember is Syrah is "Old World" (basically France) and Shiraz is "New World" (or everwhere else that isn't France). has a very interesting article of Petit Sirah, in case you're interested....

And now I'm done whining for the day...