Thursday, December 24, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Opened a bottle of 2004 Chateau La Fleur Bibian ($15) the other day. It's a Listrac-Medoc "Cuvee de Coeur" Grand Vin de Bordeaux, and it's nothing. Sharp-edged and with insufficient fruit, it's a disappointment.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
|It's bottling season at New Jersey’s Alba Vineyard|
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I said I was behind on my posts, but this is ridiculous! I was plowing through my files for materials from some recent tastings and I came across this unposted report on a fun tasting we did for my other wine group, The Pompous Twits (of Hayward, CA and environs).
Eleven of us gathered at the newly relaunched Rue de Main in Hayward on Saturday February 21st for this new BYOB event. We tasted 17 wines, most of which fit the Weird classification, some of which even arose to the Wonderful category. Here is a summary, as best Mac was able to copy down the names.
First, two introductory "pump primer" champagnes to get us in the right mood. And it worked!
1. Mumm Cuvee Napa Sparkling Pinot Noir - The Pinot added a nice fruity note to this champagne!
2. Frank Variville 1996 Grand Cru Champagne Brut, brought by Dave Hulet. Very nice!
3. Champagne Le Nombre d'Or, L'Aubrey Fil a Jouy-les-Reims - this was Dave's first contribution to the Weird category -and I thought it was pretty wonderful!
4. Kinneskillan 01 Pinot Noire Okanagan, from somewhere in Canada. Oh dear! Very amusingly weird!
5. Volcano Winery Macademia Nut Honey Wine, Hawaii -- really a nice mildly sweet dessert wine. From Canada to Hawaii in two bottles!
6. Domaine de Belliviere - Le Rouge-Gorge-Coteaux du Loir 2002 - a red of unusual grapage. Interesting! Only $20 said Dave!
7. Saint Gregory Mendocino Pinot Meunier 2002 - Nice sweet undercurrent to this one.
8. Creston Vineyards 1995 Pinot Noir Paso Robles. Hmm. Some people liked it!
9. Grgic Plavac Mali 1996 Croatia - made by the same Grngch as here in California, but from a grape that is a precursor to Zin, we're told.
10. Imagery Series, International Imagery Red Table Wine - no year - A blend of wines from around the world. Corked, unfortunately. That could have been fun.
11. Finca Sandoval Manchuela 2002 - A Syrah of some sort from Spain.
12. Topolos Sonoma Alicante Bouschet 1997. A nice light Alicante.
13. Pine Ridge Onyx 99 Napa Rutherford - a Malbec-Merlot-Tannat blend. Not the most common blend in the world -- I'll bet some of you have never (knowingly) even tasted a Tannat!
14. Souzao 1996 from Bonny Doon -- the Portuguese port grape has here been transformed into a table wine -- interesting dense!
15. Tradition (?) Tiara Rhone Reserve diVieux Cardinal - a declassified French vineyard. And for a reason, too!
We finished up with a couple of regular wines to end our most interesting evening:
16. Ridge Pajano Ranch 1997 Zin
17. Retzlaff 2003 Merlot (newly bottled)A most curious and entertaining evening, I think, and one that should
Friday, September 18, 2009
Small controversy going around about wine reviews: Some experienced, sophisticated wine writers who are published in top wine journals are complaining about the flood of Web wine writers and bloggers (like yours truly). Many of us don't know much about wine; many don't know much, period. Some established wine critics are busy making fools of themselves by asserting that some kind of training or bona fides are required before you can take a wine writer seriously. The Web and especially the Blogsphere is reacting as you would guess they would: angrily.
But writing about wine the way I do in this blog does raise questions. I often ask myself, when writing up an event like ZAP or the Livermore Wine Fest, or a trade tasting, what exactly am I telling my readers that is of value? "I went to a trade tasting and you didn't!" is hardly helpful. Even "I took notes while walking around Ft Mason drinking wine" isn't much better. Impressing you is not a value-add. Not for you, anyway.
At a basic level, it has to be "Here's what I tasted and here's what I thought about it." But is that helpful to you? How about if you don't know me, and you don't know what kinds of wines I like? Unless you can dope out my preferences from what I write, so you can compare it to what you like, no, it won't be helpful.
Rather than make you wade through the full list of wines tried and scored, it might be best to give the reader the "top line view" -- here are the wines that impressed me most, and why; here are a few oddballs or losers worth mentioning for reading fun; here's some atmosphere from the event. I tried that with the recent Livermore tasting notes elsewhere on this blog.
Squaring the Wine-Review Circle
There are so many problems with evaluating and recommending wines to the general public:
--Individual variations in how people taste things; I suspect this could be a bigger problem than we realize.
--Individual variations in which flavor components people like and how much. This is the biggest problem. I like big jammy reds; my taste buds are shot so I can tolerate high alcohol levels; I like off-dry wines. Others hate jammy/dense/concentrated reds, some dislike sweet, some are overwhelmed by alcohol. Writing about a wine in a way that talks to each of these as if their tastes matter is tough — when I’m giving a thumbs ‘way up to a Rosenblum Monte Rosso Zin, I’m not helping those who can’t stand a wine that big. But do you end up writing “for those who prefer this style, you’ll like this wine” babble?
--Evolving palates of readers: Beginning wine drinkers appreciate different flavor profiles as they drink more wine and get used to different kinds of wines. Do we try something like, “This isn’t a wine for beginners, but for sophisticated palates” in our writeups? And as people age, their palates change, regardless of how much wine they’ve been drinking.
--Sophistication of palates varies a lot, of course: Some people drink a lot of wine, but they don’t reach out and try different kinds, they just drink Cab all the time, and from the same narrow list of producers, so they aren’t learning anything. Some drink a variety of wines, but don’t learn anything about what they are drinking, what tastes and sensations they are experiencing, don’t try to think about what they are drinking and what it means. That portion of your audience won’t read your review the same as the hobbyists who study it for fun (or a living) – they’ll read your elaborate reviews as farcical jargon-fests. Go to the other extreme and wine hobbyists learn nothing from you.
(Wine shops know more about the audience than anybody, because they watch the wines fly out the door. Some of them might have ideas about what various groups of drinkers have in common, and what they want to know and learn.)
--Finally, of course, your job as a wine writer varies considerably depending on the audience you write for: sophisticated wine drinkers or wanna-be’s; daily newspapers read by casual drinkers; web-reading wine hobbyists who want to learn stuff but don’t know the jargon – and don’t want to, especially the “I detected notes of white tobacco” nonsensical tasting notes jargon.