Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yes, Virginia, There Is A (bunch of) Good Wine

Just got done reading this article about a large tasting of Virginia wines in London, and the rave reviews they got. I was really impressed with the quality and variety of wines I saw at yesterday's wine showcase. I'm also really excited, because Virginia is starting to garner world attention. Which (hopefully) means more vignerons are going to start looking into the Virginia area, and maybe the damned AVA will give us some respect. Or at least we can get more than "But the eastern state that, after New York, offers the most excitement today is unquestionably Virginia, home to more than 100 small, intensely ambitious wineries, with Merlot and the Cabernets being particularly successful." (taken from the World Atlas Of Wine)
I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Virginia Wine Showcase

Wow, had a BLAST!!!!
I can't even begin to describe how cool it was. I can only imagine that this is what Napa was like, twenty years ago. Virginia is fifth in wine production in the U.S. and I bet it's going to continue to grow.

We got to taste some awesome wines, and a lot of interesting varietals I'd never heard of before, like "Traminette" and "Chambourcin", which seems to be a favorite for Virginia growers. I'm going to have to do some research, find out why. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend giving it a shot!

There were some awesome wineries, and I believe my visiting schedule is about to drastically fill up!! I got to talk to a few winemakers and owners, and had some really funny conversations.It was cool to get to know them, find out what they're about, like how they feel about things like sulfides, cornichons, the mixing of Skittles and wine, all kinds of random things! There was this awesome little shop selling wine stave furniture. I'm DEFINITELY buying the adorable candle holder, and I wish I had room for the adirondack chairs, they don't look like it, but they were so damn comfy!

We tried a lot of fruit wines, and even a wine made from 30 different kinds of peppers. Omg, it was so fucking hot I thought I was going to explode, I broke out in a sweat! My sinuses were clear!!! We got some cute stickers out of the deal that say I kissed the devil or something cute like that. Obviously we got a bottle! It's now referred to as the "Dare Wine". We also got one called "Chili Dawg", which was 97% apple wine, 3% chili pepper wine, and went GREAT with cheese whiz.

I even got invited to come help with the harvest!! How cool is that ?!?!?!? I get to help pick grapes, get dirty, really experience what it's like!! I can't wait!

Needless to say, we had a blast, our pockets were considerably lighter (like, $300 lighter), and our arms were definitely full of purchases!

Some of my favorite wineries and their links:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why Is This So Difficult?

Can you name all 5 Grand Crus from north to south?

After having the infamous Court Of Master Sommeliers exam question come up in two different conversations, one almost reverently, the other in more of a disparaging, put-me-in-my-place kind of way, I decided to look up this information once and for all. Without much luck...

Seriously, if this is such a deep and difficult examination question, don't you think someone *somewhere* would have posted the answer?!?!?

I had no no freaking idea, and finding a clear, concise answer online was like searching for a sane person among a PETA rally. Or the one goth kid at an emo concert. Or something else as ridiculously hard.

All I'm saying, is hooray google maps! I'm not sure how accurate this is, because some of the Chateau had less than clear addresses on their websites.

Anyway, in case you're wondering, from north the south:
  • Château Mouton Rothschild
  • Château Latour
  • Château Margaux
  • Château Lafite-Rothschild
  • Château Haut Brion

If you *really* want to get dorky, you can mention that there were only 4 Grand Crus in the original 1855 classification, as Château Mouton Rothschild was reclassified from Second Growth status in 1973...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Spirits of Mt. Vernon, Seriously, WTF...

So this is my second trip to "Spirits of Mt. Vernon" today, as my first visit ended with an old man sitting in the window telling me to come back in 10 minutes.
"You're there, can't you help me?"
"No, ten minutes, ten minutes"
(Where'd they go, to get your heart pills?)

Seriously, if your hours state you're open from 11-9 p.m. then, WHY are you NOT OPEN?!? Are you too cheap to spring for a "closed be back in hour" sign? Shit, how about writing it on one of the many wine-ruining windows you've got all over your store? Yours truly, in a different city, being within walking distance to a "Fine Wine Store", and not having it open is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment as far as I'm concerned.... It's just mean!

Every time I go in this sunshine-shithole of a store, I'm (barely) greeted by an older woman with bad manners and the personality of a pregnant, rabid, echidna. The selection is terrible, the wine is stored improperly. Here's a hint: if the sun has FADED your "Come In, We're Open" sign, imagine what it's doing to the WINE you have SITTING in the windows! IN DIRECT SUN.

I'm not a difficult customer, and trust me, if I have a question, I'll ask. Directly. Subtlety is not a strong point of mine.. So when I tell you for the THIRD time that I don't need any help or have any questions, that usually means I DON'T NEED ANY HELP. I'm sorry to bother you, as I know you were ever so busy sitting there with your piss drinking mother of a circus whore associate, discussing how terrible it is that you can't get out of jury duty for a second time. I just really wanted some Cava. And when I told you I wanted Cava, not something imported by Freixenet, and you sent me to the mini bottles of Freixenet, I knew ours was a relationship doomed.

Btw, next time, when you're giving the "hard sale" speech and recruiting your shriveled up coworker,going on about how much depth this one has as compared to the Cristalino, make sure you c-l-e-a-r-l-y say the name of whatever it is the customer is purchasing, as I bought a CAVA, not a comma..... Although maybe that's a business venture better suited to your temperament. And it would give you all the time in the world to gossip to your little group of twittering hags you had hanging out on the "tasting bar".

What's even funnier, is the people over at that Korean Market, who didn't know Cava from Crappola, were so awesome, I don't think I'll ever go anywhere else in Baltimore. The EXACT opposite from Spirits of Mt. Vernon; friendly, helpful, and has about just as a much of a selection, without the snooty exclusiveness...

I'm done ranting for the day... I hope....

Friday, August 1, 2008

Alice Feiring book review, or my book-based bitchfest...

So on a recent trip to Barnes & Noble, while wandering in their pathetically tiny wine section, I saw a book, "The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved The World from Parkerization" and I bought it. With a title as arrogant as that, it was hard to resist! Here's a book about someone who's going to save us all! How can you not buy a book like that?!? I mean, there it is, salvation, supposedly without all the confession and need to say "Hail Mary" a billion times. I might even get away without a time out OR a spanking!!

I shoulda known it wasn't going to be that easy. If you were thinking about buying the book, don't! Seriously! It's 258 pages full of Alice's own mental masturbation! She spends about thirty pages actually giving information about wines, and the rest is just her whining. It's worse than reading Dostoevsky!!

The book is all about our "heroine's" *snort* journey through the sometimes convoluted world of wine, and her (mis)adventures along the way. It's a fucking joke, I don't care about her first wine love and the scandal that she's never been able to clear up surrounding the winemaker. I also don't care about her stupid ass (lack of) love affairs, her friends and roommates, her dance therapy shit, her travels, her amazing super tasting skills, or her allergies and aches and pains.

What I care about are her views of wine and the wine world, her insights, and her purported saving of the world. And so far, I haven't gotten much. All I've gotten is that she doesn't like Robert Parker, which I happen to agree with her on. I also agree that the reason he rates so many in-your-face fruit bombs so high is because he is, as she calls it, "quantifying" as opposed to the rest of us, who "qualify". I also happen to enjoy wines grown with sustainable practices, and am a big fan of artisan wines.

I missed the part in the book where she saved the world. Did they leave that chapter out? I know I'm being petty and trivial, but if she says she saved the world, I'd like to see some evidence of it. Why do I still see Robert Parker scores on everything? Is she not realizing that by saying shit like that, and writing a book that goes nowhere, she's becoming exactly like the man she loves to bitch about?

Maybe I need that spanking after all....


The box wine champs, Franzia, own the Bronco Wine Company. Their other labels include:
  • Charles Shaw (Two Buck Chuck)
  • Crane Lake (a Baltimore specialty!!)
  • Dona Sol
I don't know why, I'm really getting into reading wine labels all of a sudden...

Is it just me, or is wine (especially American wine) becoming more and more like Coke and Pepsi??
Maybe I'm just paranoid?

2007 Bitch Grenache, Barossa Valley, Australia

Having heard glowing remarks about this wine, I (impatiently) ordered it from wine.com.
Maybe the heat, or the vibrations had an impact, because I was sorely disappointed.
I got raisin, black pepper, smoke, something medicinal, maybe copper. Honestly, all I can say is that it was diluted. I'm having a hard time finding information online about this wine, particularly concerning rain, because then I might be able to understand. But probably not, as there are ways of concentrating the fruit to make up for this dilution, and at 15% alcohol, they could have given de-alcoholifying a shot!!!!
Seriously can't believe this was $13!

NV Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, Penedes, Spain

I love this stuff!!
Clear, Pale Lemon Green, nice thin strings of tiny bubbles!
It's clean, light intensity, seems youthful, although that just be the effervescence.
The nose is full of citrus, honeysuckle, lime, peach, toast, bread, and biscuity.
It's dry, with medium acidity, obviously low tannins, it just dances in your mouth!
The flavors are again, citrus, peach, honeysuckle, toast, and bread. It's low alcohol, medium length, it's a great quality, I've bought four bottles of this, and I'm already down two!!
At $20 it's not the cheapest out there, but I think it's worth it. Also makes a great gift!

According to their website, it's 67% Macabeo, and 33% Parellada.

If you get the chance, DEFINITELY pick this one up! And if you find it anywhere near the Baltimore region, drop me a line, you'll be making one of my lab rats' day!!!!!!!