March 2010 Archives
A friend passed on this great post - http://palatepress.com/2010/03/there%E2%80%99s-a-reason-no-one-reads-wine-blogs/
Johnson essentially says "no one reads wine blogs" but everyone wants wine reviews and conversations. It's essentially what I said about wine being a great way to interact with others a few posts below - it's the story, the conversation, the opportunity to meet new people that wine is about. And we don't capture it on our blogs!
I post my reviews here and at CellarTracker. CellarTracker links the main page for any wine to Twitter when I post, so that sometimes starts a conversation, either on Twitter or on CellarTracker (or in it's new incarnation, Wine Stories - clearly they get it). And my writing becomes part of the aggregate record on a wine. But in a year I've only blogged about 120 wines, while I've talked about a lot more.
Good post, good link, and I'd love to hear from others about what they find interesting. But I probably won't hear it here - it will probably be on Twitter. Or CellarTracker. And that's OK.
Beautiful, beautiful cherry red translucent wine. This is the wine you see in commercials and on book covers for a bright, red, shining Pinot Noir. Would photograph if I had a fresh beautiful glass handy to showcase the wine in. Red strawberries, some cherry, a bit of cola, some spice and licorice from the French oak. It's bright, fresh and lively at the front, with fresh red fruit dominating, nicely acidic and tart, light to mid weight, and a very long, mouth watering finish, reminds me of cherry Twizzler's (that's a compliment from me). Well rounded, no inconsistency front to back. Relatively low production, 1000 cases according to their website at http://www.stewartcellars.com it's made from Russian River Valley Gibson Vineyard Pinot Noir, with Paul Hobbs as their consulting winemaker. I really enjoyed this wine, though some might say it's too much fruit and not enough other complexity in the wine. About $40 if I recall correctly.
Cellartracker.com notes at http://www.cellartracker.com//wine.asp?iWine=655608
Lucia Vineyards - http://www.luciavineyards.com/ and the winemaker notes at http://www.luciavineyards.com/factsheets/07_Lucia_PNSLH.pdf
Image via Wikipedia
Fast forward to the popularization of Australian wines by Yellow Tail, or other "pretty label" wines, and I might have one at a party, or pick up a bottle for dinner company. Still nothing spectacular, but maybe at least being exposed to different varietals made me learn more about wine's breadth.
Then I went to a tasting at a local wine retailer with a friend. A master sommelier did the lecture. He started to explain what it was we were tasting. But he didn't start with taste - he started with the way it looked. White, red, shades of each, transparency, translucency, rim of the wine, 'legs' and more. Then he went on to the way it smells, what components are in the 'nose' and how they compared from one wine to the next. Varietals had different characteristics, and so did different regions, both because of 'terroir' or the land it was grown on, and the way wines were made in each region. Minerality? Herbs? A whole wine flavor and nose wheel? Amazing what was there - and it varies tremendously from wine to wine.
Criticism began to take on the same meaning in wine as in books or movies - what are the components, how do they work together, what's good, what's bad, why does one wine vary from another, what's the approach the winemaker took to bring out the characteristics most valued? And all that before you even get to how it tastes.
Tasting wines then begins to take on new things - looking for the fruit, dark, red, blue, or fruity like jam or candied fruit, or cooked fruits, or specific fruits like blackberry, cherry, plums, or citrus fruits - tropical, stone fruit, grapefruit, or the earthy components, mushrooms, forest floor, brambles, and more. Alcohol level, body, tannins or structure. How those all play together from the first sip, or front, to the taste that lingers, or the finish, and whether they make your mouth water or dry it out. How they go together with foods.
And so that sparked an interest - so I did what most people who have research experience do - went looking for the resources to learn more. I found Wine Spectator. The Wine Advocate - Parker was a lawyer like many wine critics and writers, and later like many wine makers or vineyard owners [insert joke about how you make a small fortune in the wine business - start with a large fortune]. And then the same friend gave my wife the book What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea - Even Water - Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers.
That book goes through just about every food you could think about, and recommends good, great, and classic pairings. And does the reverse - if you have a bottle of wine and want to know what to cook with it, look up the varietal, the region, or style, and get recommendations. (And if you're really advanced, try another of their books, The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs.) Start with one flavor and work into the next and if you're a heck of a chef, you can put it all together.
After those, it was the Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia. (Advice - don't buy it if you don't have great eyesight - the print is TINY.) It's one of the best resources on wines, regions, houses, and wine makers you'll ever find. And there are so many books on wine that no matter your interest, you'll find something you enjoy as a resource.
Anyway, digression, after those tastings, that research, and a few more tastings we decided to take a few classes. We met lots of friends at the classes, engineers, professors, sales folks, business owners, and yes, lawyers. Quite a few. Other tastings and classes ensued, and we got to discuss travel, wines and food, restaurants, cooking, and, yes, more wines. It's interesting how wine can open up so many conversations about so many experiences that people have had around wine. Those led to wine dinners at a local French restaurant. (Yes, I had snails there again. Yes, I appreciated them far more than when I was 23 on the coast of Spain.) In short, wine has led to a lot of good friends and experiences that had nothing to do with wine per se. And that's why I enjoy tasting wine. I write about those tasting in part to remember what I've tasted, what I liked or disliked, but also because it's a way to give back to a community I've enjoyed being part of for the past few years.