Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Odds and Ends and Weird J. Addison

Hello, J. Addison the Wino Hedonist here. Many have been asking what happened to my lineup of products that was being unveiled on this website.

Because I am so very selective, what you have seen so far is all there is but rest assured dear fans, I will be back in the near future with more amazing wine enhancement products designed to step up the evolution of the wine world.

If you are wondering about my pose today, I did have in my hands a 4 liter tasting glass prototype that may possibly become a Wino Hedonist product but it slipped out of my hands and rolled away. My pants did not allow me to straighten up fast enough to capture it, and given the amount of time it took just to bend myself into this shape for the picture I'll be darned if I was going to go through that torture again.

Now I will turn this blog back to MonkuWino.

***

On a more serious note, just a few observations for today's odds and ends posting..

Dr. Debs had an interesting post a few days ago about the utility of PDA's for quick price checks on wine to see how they stack up or how reasonable they were. Personally I don't own a PDA but while at Costco today, the thought occurred to me that it would be useful not only for price checking but for looking up reviews of unfamiliar wines to see if that new bin arrival was worth purchasing.

For example, I ran across a 2005 Domaine de la Motte Chablis premier cru and a 2006 Pewsey Vale Eden Valley riesling (Australia) today and wondered if they were any good. The Wine Spectator had rated the riesling quite highly but we all know that means nothing in the real world. Haha, only half-joking. But when you are in a place where you really can't get much advice about the wine and no tasting is available, I think a PDA connection to the internet would come in handy.

***

Over on El Bloggo Torcido, El Jefe posted a link to a Wines and Vines article about a Family Winemakers tasting that recently took place. There was a list of the "family" wineries that were participating for the first time in the event. I thought I'd take a look a further look at the websites of these wineries to see what they were selling and for how much.

One thing I noticed was that almost all of them were pretty expensive. I guess that is to be expected considering the small production quantities which don't lend themselves to economies of scale. But then I found an exception: Bask Cellars, a 900 case winery (according to Wines and Vines) whose output so far have been a couple of vintages of chardonnay and viognier, both from the Suisan Valley. The prices: $14 for the chardonnay and $16 for the viognier.

Now I don't know anything about Bask except from reading their website and I could only find tasting notes on them over at Fork and Bottle (Cellar Tracker has zippo) - actually not even tasting notes, just a numerical score - so who knows what their wines are really like but what got my attention was that they weren't charging an arm and a leg for their small production wines.

I know there's all sorts of factors that go into determining the price of a bottle of wine so I make no value judgments about any of this. Given a dearth of information about a winery, it sure makes it easier to roll the dice on an unknown if the price is lower, though.

Monday, October 29, 2007

2003 Castano Solanera

The wine of this week, or rather last week (I'm running behind) is pictured at the right: $9.95 from Costco, it is a blend of 65% Monastrell and 35% Cabernet, from old vines in the Yecla region in Southern Spain.

This was a dark, nearly opaque wine. Initially there were aromas of creamy oak and cherries, with hints of chocolate and cinnamon. On the first night, the palate was mainly sourish cherries and a prominent mineral component which fell off midway and left nothing but a harsh alcohol aftertaste. This is a 90 point Parker wine???

I put away the rest, after spraying Private Preserve in the bottle. The next two nights were much better. The sour cherry aspect disappeared, replaced by a smoother black fruit character still mixed with prominent minerals, joined by a meaty, olive character. Tannins were smooth.

The aftertaste also improved - the alcoholic burn subsided and instead the meaty/olive nature of the wine is what lingered for a while. What started out on the 1st night not tasting too good turned into a pretty decent wine, well worth the $9.95. It has plenty of life left in it but it needs air time to allow the sour cherry character to dissipate. After it does, you are left with a nicely integrated blend of fruit, minerals and meats, nice and smooth. Two thumbs up on this one.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Connoisseur Sensory Evaluation Enhancer

At the left you see just part of today's offering from J.Addison, The Wine Hedonist whose unparalleled expertise in the field of wine-enhancement products is now being revealed to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Please read on for details of today's incredible product - actually, a suite of products carefully assembled to complement one another to the utmost degree. Would you expect anything less from J. Addison?

And now we are most pleased to present:

Connoisseur Sensory Evaluation Enhancer:

You know how critical it is to be able to properly evaluate a wine. You must be able to effectively judge its appearance. You must evaluate its aromas. And finally, you must be able to properly taste the wine. Doing this accurately requires that your sense of sight, smell and taste be in good order.

How do you prepare your senses for tasting? Do you prepare at all? Tasting can place an overwhelming strain upon your senses and you must ensure that you engage in the right preparation. We are not talking about trivial things such as rinsing out your mouth with water, or eating a neutral biscuit or piece of bread between wines; we are talking about a method that will assure you of each sense being finely in tune as it needs to be when subjecting the wine in glass to a critical evaluation.

Our Connoisseur Sensory Evaluation Enhancer consists of components specially designed to put you at an optimum level for the task at hand.

Eye Deglazer: one drop in each eye will ensure that you can accurately perceive the hue of the wine without alteration or perversion from dust and other impurities on your eyeballs. This patented solution has been calibrated to cleanse the eye and leave it streak-free, ready to gauge the color of even the most delicately hued sauvignon blanc or chenin blanc.

Nose Amplifier: one drop in each nostril and then a sharp blow into a handkerchief will insure that your inner nostrils have complete, full contact with the surrounding air with no foreign particles to interfere with even the most delicate aromas from reaching your sensory spots.

Mouth Purifier: gargle and rinse with one ounce of this highly effective solution to neutralize all foreign materials present in your mouth that will inhibit you from experiencing the full force of flavors that are present in the wine you are tasting. Carefully pH balanced so that it is neither acidic or alkaline, this perfectly blended concoction of all organic and natural ingredients places your mouth up there with the most expert of tasters. We highly recommend a one ounce rinse after each wine tasted as a palate refresher of the maximum order.

Because of the complimentary nature of your senses, these three components are offered only as a set; quantities have been carefully calibrated to last an equal number of tastings.

But wait, there is more. For a limited time only we will include, free of charge, a hand-stem pressure gauge that incorporates and optimizes your tactile sense, as well (see above picture).

We know that tension and stress can cause you to make what may turn out to be a critical misjudgment. Don’t let that happen when you are doing something as important as tasting and evaluating wine. You may not even realize how stressed out your body may be, but it will reveal itself by how tightly you grasp the stem of your wine glass.

Our Tactile Sensometer is a compact band that wraps around the stem of your glass where you grasp it with your fingers. When you place your fingers on this band, it automatically measures the amount of pressure being exerted, and the band changes colors to tell you if you are holding it too tightly, loosely, or just right.

Red means you need to loosen your grip, you are too tense and will not be tasting the wine properly.

Blue means you are too loose and will probably drop the glass if you attempt to pick it up. Thus, you need to tighten your grip.

Green means go – you are holding the stem with the optimum finger pressure to conduct an accurate, effective tasting.

We are selling the Connoisseur Sensory Evaluation Enhancer, including for a limited time the Tactile Sensometer, for $269.99. Each kit is good for 100 tastings.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wine Capsule Jackets from The Wino Hedonist

It seems that with each day J. Addision, The Wino Hedonist, unveils a wine-enhancement product that tops the previous day. Stunningly simple, yet poised at the forefront of technology, we now present for your discriminatiing review another marvel to facilitate evolution within the wine world.

Breathable Wine Capsule Jackets:

What are the biggest enemies of wine? Heat and air. Too much of either and you’ve got a bottle gone bad, badder than Lindsay Lohan, even. There’s nothing we can do about heat – that’s up to you, but we can help you with the air part of it.

Air, of course, causes wine to oxidize. However, in ways that we do not fully understand, air also participates in a wine’s developmental process; no matter how tightly sealed the bottle may be, a minute amount of air still somehow manages to infiltrate the bottle.

Our Breathable Wine Capsule Jackets are specially designed from a patented blended synthetic material to allow precisely the right amount of air contact with the wine capsule to promote optimum development of the precious juice within. No more and no less.

Our capsules come in a group of five. Simply snip off one from the base “hand” to use (see picture).

Take the membrane capsule, place it tightly over the bottle’s capsule (to expel any air) and then press the seal/adhesive around the borders to form a complete seal for your valuable bottle. Thereafter, the Capsule Jacket’s patented film will enable the proper air flow to and from the bottle.

Our Capsule Jackets are guaranteed to outlast any bottle of wine since they are absolutely non bio-degradable and 100% environmentally hostile. Lest you think that speaks unfavorably of our product, let us remind you that wine bottle capsules frequently contain more lead than a Mattel toy and therefore our product is sealing that lead from your environment. Because of this, there is no need for you to contact Al Gore or purchase any carbon offsets along with our product.

Small quantity package of capsules: 100 for $45.99 (5 capsules per each “hand,” i.e., 20 hands).

Large quantity package of capsules: 500 for $202.99 (5 capsules per each “hand,” i.e., 100 hands).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Another Wino Hedonist Product: The Cacophonic Harmonizer

Each day it seems that J. Addison, genius behind The Wino Hedonist outdoes himself for unveiling products that will greatly intensify your wine tasting pleasure experience! Today's offer truly stuffs hedonism into winoism to an infinite degree! Please step back and let this sink in:

Cacophonic Harmonizer:

Did you know that you are surrounded by sound? Not just what you can perceive with your ear right now, but also a multitude of frequencies that are registering on your brain even though you may not physically be “hearing” them.

Yes, the air is full of sounds. And these sounds are not necessarily in harmony with one another. In fact, in all likelihood they have formed a distressing cacophony, an unfortunate symphony of dischordant reverberations that have a subtle (or not-so-subtle) impact on your well-being.

For example, have you noticed how at times you may feel a sense of anxiety even though there is seemingly nothing surrounding you at the moment to make you feel that way? Your edginess, my dear friend and patron, is due to the ultra and subsonic cacophony that blares on ad-infinitum.

This cacophonic symphony is affecting your wines, also, and to an even greater, perhaps exponential degree. It’s been proven that vibration is harmful to wine. Think of the molecular damage taking place right now by these millions of frequencies that ring through the air, beyond your threshold of hearing recognition yet being absorbed into your valuable wine collection.

Multiply it by the magnifying effect bottle glass and wine storage unit walls have on these frequencies and if your wine could talk, it would be screaming in your ear for mercy.

And that’s how we can help. The Cacophonic Harmonizer is a patented, amazingly compact yet effective electronic device that operates on a 24/7 basis to undo the cacophony and transform it into tranquil, perfect harmony.

The direct result of employing this device is that your wines will age gracefully, free from the stress inducing cacophony that previously surrounded them. Think of it, the true elimination of “bottle shock.”

Simply plug in the device, then insert the Cacophonic Harmonizer output generator inside of your wine storage unit. The cord leading from the main body to the output generator is ribbon-thin and will not affect your door gasket/seal. There is also a battery-operated standalone version for placing in wine lockers and other areas in which there are no available power outlets.

Once operational, the Cacophonic Harmonizer’s solid state, digital circuitry deconstructs the entirety of the harmful frequencies permeating the environment and outputs them as a pure stream that is recognized as the most heavenly melodic breeze imaginable by your fine wine collection. Just think of it as a mantra for your wine. The result? A broad smile on your face as you raise the glass to your lips and savor a contented wine.

Cacophonic Harmonizer: $1,695.00.

Monday, October 22, 2007

R&R - Catching Up on DVD's

Normally I watch very little television or movies, but my pattern has changed a bit during my involuntary (but nice) recovery period from my recent surgery. I took the time to watch a couple of wine-related movies that I had been curious about: Sideways and Mondovino.

Yes, I know I am way behind the times since both of these were released in the theaters several years ago but like I said, I am not much of a movie or tv fan. Better late than never, though, huh?

What did I like about Sideways? The scenery up in the Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez area is gorgeous. I just love it up there and watching the movie made me long to be back up there soon. Also, it was quite interesting listening to the characters discuss wine.

What did I not like about Sideways? The acting was great; Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church did an incredible job with their characters because all I kept thinking during the movie was what total losers both of these two were! I know it was just a movie, but how anyone could act as pathetically immoral as these two got me totally disgusted. I did appreciate their acting talents, though.

What else about Sideways? It's a sad statement that this one movie could be so responsible for the decline in Merlot sales and an upswing (and resulting price increase) in Pinot Noir sales. Are people that fickle? I think if I knew little about wine, Mile's musings about Pinot Noir would pique my curiousity enough to want to try a bottle or two, but to create a total fad around this varietal? People are flakes is all I can say.

Moving on to Mondovino: This was an interesting movie. I did get somewhat seasick from the amateurish, home-movie style employed and the cameraperson's obsession with spending far too much time on meaningless, boring shots. It was also a film with an obvious bias in favor of the little guy, the terroirists against the evil Michel Rollands and other winemaking consultants of the world.

As I watched the movie, I tried to think of how the same content could be framed with a bias in the other direction, towards technology as a step forward instead of backwards. I suppose one could say that technology now enables wine to be more uniform, negating the effects of a bad vintage and thus reducing economic losses by being able to salvage wine that otherwise might be unsaleable.

But on the other hand, that does lead us more towards a global consistency in which the terroir and the vintage play a lesser role in the character of a wine than do the winemaker and the processes applied in finishing the wine. How do the "greatest" wines of today compare to the "greatest" wines of long-ago vintages? Have modern winemaking techniques made current wines any better than before? Maybe more consistent, but in terms of a truly great vintage, one in which the wines "made themselves" that year because all of the growing conditions were just right, would a wine from today still be superior to a wine from yesteryear because of the techniques applied now that weren't applied back then?

I guess part of it is, do you want a consistently good glass of wine every time you pop and pour, or do you want to be able to taste a difference that reflects the growing conditions of the vintage that generated that wine in your glass?

***

Note: tomorrow we'll be back with more annoyingly expensive wine-enhancement devices from J. Addison and the Wino Hedonist.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Power Filter/Conditioner from the Wino Hedonist

Today marks the unveiling of J. Addison's Wino Hedonist product number 4 that is specifically designed to enhance your wine experience. Please welcome the:

Wine Refrigerator Power Filter and Conditioner


If you use a standalone wine refrigeration unit, it must surely run on electricity. And if it runs on electricity, are you aware of how “dirty” the electric power can be in a typical city?

Brownouts, power spikes, inconsistent voltage – why, you would be aghast if you could see a graphical depiction of just how much your power fluctuates throughout the day.

And you are trusting this very power to feed your wine refrigeration unit, the very unit in which your precious, pampered wine collection is stored? Compare it to the man who is fed an inconsistent, unhealthy diet: when he is at work, he staggers, failing to properly attend to his duties because his body is not functioning properly. Give him any discerning task and he will complete it in a most incompetent manner. On the other hand, supply this man with a rich, well-balanced diet full of nutrients and he will excel in his duties.

The same goes for your wine refrigeration unit. Remember, garbage in, garbage out. How can it possibly care for your wines it you are not giving it the type of electricity it deserves?

Our heavy-duty Power Filter and Conditioner cleans up the dirtiest electricity you can give it, and transforms it into pure, rich power that your wine refrigerator will be most happy to consume. It will thank you and your wines will thank you.

The unit also comes with a detailed set of instructions showing you the precise orientation of the unit with respect to the earth's magnetic pole, along with the appropriate angle adjustments to make during periods of daylight savings time as well as leap years.

Power Filter and Conditioner: $1,495.00, plus applicable taxes, shipping and handling.

***

On a more serious note, I apologize but there is no One Wine Per Week review this week, mainly because I didn't drink anything. Ah, the woes of recovering from surgery! However, I fully expect to pop a cork next week and have a review for you like the old days, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile you will just have to put up with J. Addison and his wine voodoo, uh, enhancement products.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bottle Strategic Markers from the Wino Hedonist

Today we unveil revolutionary, incredible wine-enhancement product number 3 from The Wino Hedonist.

Bottle Strategic Markers

It is a well-established fact that coloring the edge of a CD (compact disc) with a green felt marker will result in an improvement of sound from that CD. The physics involved in this documented phenomenon are too complex to be described here, but the same concept can be applied to coloring strategic places on the bottles holding your valuable wine collection in order to promote an incredibly heightened development of that wine.

Unlike the simple process of coloring the entire edge of a CD, however, the optimal development of the wine in bottle depends upon strategically placed streaks and symbols on that bottle with a marker of a precise color tailored to the type of wine.

In other words, the symbols you make and the color used for a bottle of Chateau Margaux may be the same as for a Chateau Mouton since both are Bordeaux, but you would use an entirely different strategy for a bottle of Chambertin.

J. Addison, the Wino Hedonist, has perfected his wine bottle strategy over many years and is now offering them to you. Kits have been developed for several of the worlds finest wines; each kit contains a marker of the precise color (one marker contains sufficient ink for at least 50 bottles), along with an instruction manual that shows you exactly what symbols or figures to use on the bottle and the exact placement of those symbols and/or figures.

Once you have properly marked your bottles, you can expect a noticeable improvement of the wine after even a week or two. However, it is highly recommended that you wait much longer than that; holding the wine to its anticipated maturity will yield the most favorable results.

The special markings may be applied either before or after the Wino Hedonist’s Bottle Enhancing Polish, although it is recommended that you apply the markings prior to the polish for the cleanest effect.

The currently available kits include:

Bordeaux
Burgundy
Cote Rotie
Italian Superstar Cabernet Blends
California Pinot Noir over $50

More kits are underway; please be patient. Each existing kit, with enough ink for at least 50 bottles, can be obtained for a most reasonable cost of $495.99.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wino Hedonist Wine Bottle Enhancing Polish

The Wino Hedonist is proud to unveil product #2 in its line of wine-enhancing accessories: Bottle Enhancing Polish.

(If you are unfamiliar with J. Addison's new venture, please read the premier article about his company, The Wino Hedonist: click here.)

Bottle Enhancing Polish:

It’s not just what is on the inside of the bottle that counts, but the outside, also. Apply this specially-formulated (and 100% organic) polish to the outside of your wine bottles for maximum positive developmental impact. Your fine wine bottles will all have a microthin layer of polish that will:

Eliminate “hot” and “cold” spots in your bottle and thus facilitate a more even, consistent temperature of the wine inside;

Provide a frictionless surface on the bottle to reduce and even eliminate the effects of vibration transmitted from your wine storage unit to the resting place for your bottle. Without the frictionless surface created by this Bottle Enhancing Polish, the rack, container or other bottle on which your precious bottle rests will have a “grabbing” effect upon the glass. You may think that this grabbing effect is minor, but multiply this by the number of hours, minutes and seconds per day this takes place and as you can see, this can be a big source of potential harm to your valuable wine collection.

And of course, the waxing effect of our polish will give each of your bottles that “concourse d’elegance” appearance that will further enhance your total wine experience.

Bottle Enhancing Polish is made from only the finest available ingredients and is very easy to apply. It has been specially formulated with a precise protonal, electronal and neutronal ionic combination for optimum bottle performance. Simply use the supplied lambswool applicator and then buff with the supplied microfiber polishing cloth. It is perfectly safe to apply on both glass and wine labels of all materials.

Enthusiast size (3 oz., enough for 15 bottles): $34.99.

Sommelier size (12 oz., enough for 60 bottles): $109.99.

Larger quantity discounts are available; please inquire.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Wino Hedonist Debuts

The rapturous heights attained by consuming the wondrous elixir known as wine is absolutely incomparable.

Do you agree with me? Then you are precisely the person I seek in my quest to raise the bar even higher when it comes to experiencing the unmatched pleasure attained by an incredible glass of wine.

My name is J. Addison (“Addy”). The purpose of my venture, The Hedonistic Wino, is to magnify your imbibing pleasure by marketing an exclusive, limited selection of products designed to heighten your wine-drinking experience, taking you to heretofore unachieved heights of sensory pleasures.

In the same way Monster Cable revolutionized the audio industry years ago by offering sound enhancement products that improved even the most state-of-the-art system, my goal is to revolutionize the wine industry by offering wine enhancement products that will improve even that treasured bottle of Petrus or Romanee Conti developing in your cellar.

Each product in my line is so unique, so revolutionary that it begs introduction individually. Therefore, I shall unveil my complete line of wine enhancement products one by one, on a daily basis, in order that the full impact of each will make a suitable and appropriate impression upon you, my soon-to-be loyal customer.

Let us begin with product number one:

Aeration Filter:

Every wine connoisseur knows the value of repeated swirling of a fine wine in the glass in order to properly aerate the elixir for maximum effect. But what sort of harmful air components are you exposing your wine to by swirling it in such an indiscriminate way?

Take a sample of our air these days, whether indoors or out, and you will find all sorts of pollutants are present. Are these the type of things you want your fine wine to be exposed to? It’s like taking a new born baby and placing it behind the exhaust pipes of your car! Criminal, right? Yes, you are right! So why do that to your wine?

Our aeration filters are woven from the finest organic content with a patented structure of pores that trap 99.9% of all harmful microparticles in the air that would otherwise act to degrade your total wine experience.

Simply take one of our filters (making sure the “up” imprint is facing upwards away from the wine) and place it over your glass, sealing it with the special elastic border stitching. Then you may swirl away to your heart’s content. Remove the filter and sniff the wine. Ahhhh, did anything ever smell so sweet to you? It’s like removing the entire city of Los Angeles from your wine glass. You can use the filter for the entire bottle of wine. We do not recommend trying to reuse it after this, however, as there will be too many pollutants trapped within the weave.

Our aeration filters are also quite suitable for covering your wine during political speeches and other such events.

Small size (suitable for Champagne flutes, and smaller stemware) – 50 sheets in a sterile package, $49.99.

Large size (for larger-bowled glass, even up to the Riedel Grand-Cru Burgundy model) – 50 sheets in a sterile package, $69.99.

Tax, shipping and handling charges will be calculated upon checkout.

Please stop by tomorrow for the unveiling of revolutionary product #2. I, J. Addison, stand behind every product I advertise and offer you an uncompromising, unconditional guarantee of satisfaction.



Monday, October 15, 2007

Left or Right?

First things first: is the dancer in today’s picture twirling clockwise or counter-clockwise? (Note: if you don't see her turning at all, please click on the picture to see the original, then hit your browser's 'back' button to return to this page.)

A friend of mine sent me that picture embedded in an e-mail. The dancer was spinning clockwise. She said to her it was spinning counter-clockwise. I thought maybe this was supposed to be a trick or something, or she was trying to make me think I was crazy, but she insisted for her it was counter-clockwise.

Then my wife got home from shopping so I asked her to take a look at it. “Counter-clockwise,” she said matter-of-factly. I turned my hand in a clockwise motion and told her it was spinning this way. She moved her hand in a counter-clockwise motion and said no, it was spinning that way.

So what does that have to do with anything, especially with wine?

According to the article that came with the picture, “right-brained” people see the dancer moving clockwise, whereas “left-brained” people see the dancer spinning counter-clockwise. Most people see it as counter-clockwise.

“Right-brained” qualities were listed as, “uses feeling; ‘big picture’ oriented; imagination rules; symbols and images; present and future; philosophy & religion; can ‘get it’ (i.e. meaning); believes; appreciates; spatial perception; knows object; function; fantasy-based; presents possibilities; impetuous; and, risk taking.

“Left-brained” qualities were listed as, “uses logic; detail oriented; facts rule; words and language; present and past; math and science; can comprehend; knowing; acknowledges; order/pattern perception; knows object name; reality based; forms; strategies; practical; and, safe.

Some of the above terms are getting out into space if you ask me, but I think you get the general idea of the difference between the two types.

So as far as what does this have to do with wine, my question is, which way did you perceive the dancer as turning, and is the category you are supposedly in (right versus left-brained) say something about the way that you select and taste wine, and document your experience?

Now I do have to say that as I continued to stare at the picture, at times the dancer would abruptly reverse direction and begin spinning counter-clockwise. I thought maybe this was some trick of the graphic but since my wife and I saw her spinning in different directions at the same time, I guess there is no trickery involved. The vast majority of the time she is spinning clockwise, however.

In applying this to my own wine habits – am I “right-brained?” I think when it comes to purchases/selections, yes – I really don’t seem to have much of a rational sense. It’s more like buying something that seems attractive to me (within budget, of course). And those of you who read this blog know that it can move pretty far off the wall.

But my tasting notes? Left-brained. I always feel like my tasting notes sound like a grade-school book report or note in a corporation’s annual report: dry, dry, dry (the writing, not the wine style!). But I’m thinking, there are only so many terms you can use to describe something and if you get too flowery in your prose, no one will know what the heck you’re talking about.

Well, next tasting note maybe I’ll try applying more of a “right-brained” style and hope I don’t leave you scratching your heads!

Meanwhile.. for your own self, do you find any correlation between the dancer’s perceived direction and your own wine habits style?

***

Addendum: Thank you all for your well-wishes for recovery from my recent surgery. The doctor informed me that the growth was deemed to be “stage one,” contained and hadn’t spread, and it appears no further treatment, such as chemotherapy, will be needed. Yay! I’m taking one more week’s break from wine, mainly because my appetite is bigger than my stomach capacity right now (still stapled up) so I want to wait until I can really appreciate the liquid. But once again, thank you!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Bin Ends and Odd Lots

Well today's picture is not very clear at all, but it's the best I can do. Couple of things today, one continuing on with my endless obsession over the temperatures inside the Emerson Suites, and another, about an interesting website I ran across this morning.

One of the first things I did when I arrived home from the hospital was hobble over to the thermometers on the Emerson storage units and check the temperature (see, I told you I was obsessed). I was alarmed to see a 68-degree reading (from the standalone thermometer) for the one on the left! The unit's built-in thermometer was just sitting there whistling innocently, displaying 57 degrees so something was obviously amiss.

I placed the probe from the other thermometer inside the misbehaving unit and got similar results. Not good! I pressed the buttons to lower the temperature and let out a sigh of relief when I heard the thermoelectric fan start up, bringing the temp to a more acceptable level.

I did some fiddling around and what the picture is supposed to show, although you really can't tell, is that the misbehaving unit (left side) is showing a reading of 54 degrees on the built-in thermometer and 58.3 on the standalone unit, and the other one has a 57 degree built-in reading and a standalone reading of 58.6. Quite a variance, huh? I guess I'll try leaving the left side unit set at 54 and see what happens.

Being as obsessed as I am, you can be sure I will be monitoring the temps on a regular basis. Oh Emerson, Emerson, can I place my trust in you? LOL...

Speaking of LOL, here's the second item of today's odd lots and bin ends posting:

As I do every day, I peruse the Chowhound.com board. There's a thread in the wine section in which the original poster asked for recommendations about good sites for wine reviews. Someone pointed him to this website, which they thought (hoped) was a joke.

I checked it out and found it pretty funny. Funny, that is, if it is really a joke but you can't tell for sure. I suggest you take a look at it for yourselves:

www.justwinepoints.com

That's it for now.. I would like to say thank you again to those of you who sent their well-wishes for a speedy recovery, which it appears is the case. I fully intend to be back on the onewineperweek review trail very soon!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

51: Myth or Reality? Wine Tonight Tells You!

On this edition of Wine Tonight – think it’s hard to obtain a bottle of Romanee Conti? Petrus? We’ve got an exclusive interview with the proprietor and maker of what is by far the world’s most hard-to-obtain wine, bar none. Stay tuned, folks!

A wine so rare, so exclusive, many have questioned whether its very existence is merely a myth. We’re here to tell you that indeed, it is no myth, it’s for real but whether or not you will ever be able to partake of this amazing elixir is another question.

Imagine a winery that has an unlisted phone number. An unlisted address, even. And the only way to get on the mailing list is by invitation only.

Several days ago I was transported, blindfolded of course, to somewhere in the United States, I think, to meet X, owner and winemaker of '51.' I sat on one side of mirrored, bullet-proof glass and X sat on the other, speaking to me in a digitally-altered voice. Here is what transpired:

WT: So many people will swear up and down that there is no such winery as 51.

X: Yet, here you are.

WT: That’s true, here I am, wherever that may be. A winery so secretive that besides having an unlisted address and phone number, people aren’t even sure what your wine label looks like.

X: Yes, you can do a Google image search for our wine label and come up with all sorts of pictures, same as if you search for 'alien' or 'extraterrestrial.' They’re only guesses.

WT: But surely, one of the search results must be a picture of the actual label, isn’t it?

X: Could be, could not be. You will never know. Let me just say that yes, once I did run across a picture of our actual label. The person who posted it- let’s just say they paid a high price for their naughty act. They sleep with Luca Brasi now, if you get my drift.

WT: I tried searching for ‘51’ using Google Earth..

X: And got nothing, right? People type it in, get nothing and say, ‘oh well, it doesn’t exist, I knew that.’ (chuckles)

WT: So Mr. X, just exactly how does one go about obtaining a bottle of 51 wine?

X: Each individual must be invited personally by me. For every vintage I determine how many bottles are available and how I wish to allocate them. Then the notifications are sent out.

WT: So even if someone were to contact you, there’s no waiting list?

X: How do they contact me?

WT: That’s true. But to answer my question – there’s no waiting list?

X: No, you cannot request to receive my wine; you can only be selected by me and then invited to purchase them.

WT: And once you get on this invitation list, does it keep renewing each year? Is this something to be passed down from generation to generation, like Hollywood Bowl box seats? Or USC football season tickets before last Saturday’s game with Stanford?

X: Normally, yes, unless they happen to make the wrong move and then get bumped off.

WT: For example?

X: Well, I shouldn’t be saying this but as an example, there was this famous moviemaker who shall remain nameless and had been on our list for several years until he recently made, to put it bluntly, a ‘dud.’ Then we had to uh, ‘kill Bill,’ so to speak. I will not go into this any further.

WT: I gotcha. So just how do you determine who becomes eligible to purchase a bottle or bottles of 51?

X: They are the cream of the crop, the world’s most famous and influential people. People who would not dare appear on daytime television shows, for instance.

WT: What restrictions are placed on the bottles that are distributed?

X: They cannot be consumed apart from the person we have invited. And they cannot be consumed away from their main premises. There is too much risk of theft or loss if one of our bottles is transported away from the person’s estate, allowing it to fall into the wrong hands. That is why our wine is delivered by unmarked armored car. If any of these rules are broken, well, phfft, that person is dumped from our list. The overwhelming fear of losing their place with us keeps them in line.

WT: Sort of like how Academy members have to guard the Oscar-nominated DVD’s with their lives?

X: Sort of, but more so. We’re talking something much more valuable than a fleeting video.

WT: Let’s say that I am George W. and I want to purchase a bottle of 51. What happens?

X: Well let us assume for the moment that he is not on our list. I am not saying one way or the other. But assuming he is not on our list, there is nothing he can do to purchase a bottle. Not even threaten to send his vice president on a hunting expedition in my proximity. The only way is if you are invited.

WT: What do you do with the invitations that are refused? Do you have an alternate list of people ready?

X: Refused??

WT: Oh, sorry. What was I thinking?

X: I think it is time for you to go back to Kansas.

And with that, our interview was terminated and I was transported back to civilization. But dear readers, at least now you know that 51 is a reality, not just a myth that has been floating around!

Back in the studio..

WT1: That was one remarkable interview!

WT: Yes it was. 51 is all the rage these days. In fact, you may have witnessed the squabbles that arose at the presidential election debates of both parties this past week as some of them claimed to be on 51’s invitation list to gain an upper hand against their opponents. We all heard Hillary rip into Obama quite viciously, asking if he isn’t on 51’s list then how could anyone possibly envision him as the chief executive of anything?

WT1: I liked Obama’s retort, though. He looked Hillary square in the eyes and asked her point blank if she was on the invitation list.

WT: That made her squirm! She kept asking Obama, ‘why else would I be making a statement like this, and posing this question to you?’

WT1: And Obama kept saying, ‘Ms. Clinton, are you or are you not on the list? Can’t you tell me something definite?’ They both know full well that another no-no for Mr. X is that you can’t reveal the fact that you are one of the people on his invitation list.

WT: So all they could do is dance around the question all night.

WT1: I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of dancing around in the months to come.

WT: Me too. Goodnight everyone!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm Baaack.. Sort Of..

Well here I am sitting at the computer, typing away after being out of action for a few days. I'd like to say thank you to Jill at Domaine547 for her nice comment saying to hurry up and come back!

I was out on an involuntary vacation, having surgery to remove part of my colon because of a small malignant growth that was discovered recently. Had you seen me in the hospital, you might have guessed I had a lobotomy based on my appearance, though. Jack in the picture looks 100x better than me, lying there not able to take a real shower or wash my hair since Friday morning!

For what it's worth, the surgeon was quite optimistic. He said his visual inspection showed the growth to be very small and it appeared not to have spread anywhere. However, I won't know for sure until later this week. In the meantime, I was released from the hospital yesterday and as you might imagine, was so very happy to come home take a proper shower! By the way, my high praise to everyone at Kaiser's Baldwin Park facility - everything was first rate over there, which made the short stay a pleasant one.

Now I have this stapled-up incision vertically on my stomach that brings to mind a sausage casing, although someone else said I looked like a plucked turkey (very similar to the famous Twisted Oaks plucked rubber chicken, I'd say.. I wonder if El Jefe would like to use it in his blog?). I was originally thinking of posting a picture of it but thought the better of it as that might scare what few readers I do have away permanently. If you want to see it shoot me an e-mail.. but be forewarned!

Also, I didn't shave since Friday so you can imagine my heavy facial hair growth. Actually, being Asian (Japanese-American, to be exact), my 5 days of beard growth was equal to about a normal person's five o'clock shadow. I thought I'd go for the Brad Pitt or Toshiro Mifune look by not shaving but seem to have fallen way short of the mark. This morning I shaved it all off and now am more like young Kevin of the Wonder Years.

What does this all have to do with wine? Not much, I guess, except I don't expect to be drinking any for a short while. There's no dietary restrictions but with my stomach all stapled up I get full really fast and don't feel much like having any wine yet since I can't fully enjoy it. So no review of the wine of the week this week! Shucks.. but I'll get back on track soon.

Let's see.. I noticed they only have white IV's in the hospital, no red or rose ones. So I was on white IV the entire time but it went nicely with the liquid diet they fed me on Sunday, which segued into a good match for the turkey and salmon I had on Monday. The IV seemed very mild, went down smoothly with no tannins or acidic bite. There - how's that for the review for this week?

One thing I did notice - I am amazed at how unbelievably inane daytime television programming is. What's with all these courtroom tv shows? Judge this, and Judge that - no wonder our society is so litigation-happy. I tell you, if you want a lobotomy just watch daytime (or even night time) television and you can self-administer one on yourself for free. Thank goodness that I was able to find some reruns of I Love Lucy to watch - such a big difference in quality, then versus now.

Anyway, that's all for now. I'll be back with more of my own inane entries later this week to compete with daytime television, so stay tuned..

Thursday, October 4, 2007

2006 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc

I'm kind of cheating since I only had this wine one day, and it was from a bottle someone else had bought and brought to a restaurant. But nevertheless I got a good taste of it, so here's this week's review (oh, and obviously I didn't take the picture of the label myself, either):

Pale color. Lots of clean, pure grassy aromas that were very pleasant and not extreme in any way - I don't know how else to put this, but some sauvignons border on the herbal-vegetal or overly grassy, but this one was nice and fresh.

The predominant taste was of grapefruit, again nice, clean and pure along with some other citrus but mainly it was grapefruit. Very nice, crisp acidity - not what I would call "bracing" by any means, but well-integrated. The first glass also had a buttery feel in the mouth but that seemed to disappear after a few minutes and I didn't sense it after that.

The finish was decently long, with more grapefruit. This was a nicely-balanced wine that's easy to drink and has good aromatics and flavor. Price-wise, I don't think it is worth the $16-20 or so that it seems to be fetching; I had a Cameron Hughes Lot 26 New Zealand SB earlier this year at half the price and my memory tells me it was just as good, if not better. The Cloudy Bay is a well-made wine, though. So thumbs wise, one thumb up (for quality and taste), one thumb down (for costing too much in my opinion).

***

Administrativia: I'll be offline and taking a short break for a few days so you probably won't see any posts until late next week.. you'll have to find some other sleeping aid in the meantime!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

WSJ Interviews The WineBlog Advocate

There's been much talk recently about the increasing influence the WineBlog Advocate is having over the wine blogging world. All that talk gained the attention of another influential publication, the Wine Scoop Journal (WSJ). The following is the transcript of an interview WSJ conducted with the WineBlog Advocate's publisher, MonkuWino (MW).

To clue in the uninitiated before we get started, though, the WineBlog Advocate is an online independent subscription publication dedicated to the review of wine blogs around the world. Each information-packed issue reviews numerous wine blogs, assigning point scores ranging from 50-100, as well as incisive commentary to support the numerical rating and give readers a taste, so to speak, of what to expect.

Now here's the exclusive interview:

WSJ: It seems that the popularity of the WineBlog Advocate has grown by leaps and bounds since its introduction not that long ago. A very steep growth curve, it is.

MW: That’s true, it’s steeper than the increase in prices of Northern Rhone wines over the past years.

WSJ: To what do you attribute this amazing increase in readership and subscriptions?

MW: Isn’t it obvious? It’s the American infatuation with points – with assigning scores to things and ranking them. I perform a great service, recommending the readable and weeding out the unreadable. People love that kind of thing.

WSJ: In your opinion..

MW: In my opinion, yes. But that’s the beauty of it – most people want to be told what to do. They don’t want to take responsibility for their own actions so they depend on me to do it for them. And I deliver.

WSJ: And what if they feel you’re not doing a good job?

MW: First of all, I make it known that my points system is not a substitute for reading the comments I make about other people’s wine blogs. And of course all reviewed blogs are there for anyone to read to see if I am spot on or way off base.

Besides that, do you think most people are going to risk swimming the other way and going against my ratings and assessments? There’s safety in numbers, you know. Who’s going to argue with you if you say you agree with the “92” I just gave a wine blog? Disagree and people are going to call you on it - ask you why and what your credentials are. And then you risk possibly exposing your lack of literary perception and judgment. Swim with the pack and the odds are in your favor.

WSJ: There are dissenters, nonetheless. Those who complain about inaccessible blog sites because the servers are overloaded. You drive too much traffic to them. They can’t even read the highly-rated wine blogs anymore because of a “server too busy” error message.

MW: (chuckles) Supply and demand. There’s not enough Corvettes, either. Car lot too busy, too!

WSJ: And another complaint. There’s talk that you are encouraging a sameness among wine blogs. People write to please your tastes to get the points and in the process are compromising themselves. You seem to like the big, full, and rich blogs that have gobs of content- the ‘brass knuckles’ type of blog, where subtlety, if any, is lost on the reader.

MW: And my subscribers have the same tastes, obviously. It’s give the public what they want. If they like to read nothing but those kinds of blogs, which I happen to enjoy, then my service is doing them a service by pointing them in the right direction. No use letting them waste their valuable time and bandwidth on thin blogs with sparse content.

WSJ: Even, as these dissenters point out, if the ‘gobs of content’ on your highly rated blogs are positively National Winequirer-esque in nature? Lots of over-the-top content that hammers the audience on the head and really says very little?

MW: Even so.

WSJ: If I may, another voice of dissent expresses fears that many of the highly-rated wine blogs will become fee-based sites. In fact, a few are already doing so.

MW: Again, my job is to call them as I see them. I can’t do anything about the law of supply and demand.

WSJ: Conversely, your low-rated wine blogs, or the wine blogs under your radar, seem to be suffering. While they offer what many call “original” content written not to please anyone but to be a statement of the blogger, they are receiving very little traffic. Their blog hosts, such as Google’s Blogger sites, are threatening to shut them down for lack of traffic or else begin charging them for displaying content. Isn’t that going to repress individualism – one of the main reasons for blogging in the first place?

MW: Again, I am only posting my observations. It’s like anything else. A store offers what people want and they make a good profit. Another store might offer quality merchandise but it isn’t what people necessarily want. So it suffers and eventually either it changes the product mix or goes out of business. I have nothing to do with the stores and nothing to do with the blogs.

WSJ: So you don’t think there’s anything wrong with bloggers deliberately changing their content and writing style just to please you, and as a result wine blogs continue to undergo a homogenization process?

MW: Demand is demand. If it wasn’t so, they wouldn’t change. They want hits, they’ve got to compete. They’re changing because society demands they change. It’s evolution.

WSJ: So I understand as a result of the huge success you have enjoyed, other 'copycat' wine blog rating/ranking/review sites are popping up all over the place.

MW: That’s not right. My attorneys are on it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Wine Tonight:: A Visit to Zen Bareru

Tonight on this edition of Wine Tonight, we’re featuring the newest and perhaps hottest celebrity in the world of wine, Yuji Chibikawa, proprietor of Zen Bareru in California’s fashionable Napa Valley.

From the outside, Zen Bareru looks just like any other wine bar, albeit a sleek, contemporary one, de rigeur for the Napa Valley. Then what’s so special about it?

The diminutive Chibikawa-san doesn’t serve wines per se to his patrons, he serves barrel samples.

That’s right: barrel samples.

For the uninitiated, before wine is bottled and readied for sale, it spends time in large oak barrels undergoing fermentation and other processes that transform it from grapes to the fabulous beverage that’s everyday becoming more and more popular in America.

There’s a multitude of choices facing a winemaker when it comes to fashioning the final product that appears in the bottle you take from the shelves at your local wine shop: Should the wine spend time in stainless steel tanks, or should it go into oak? If oak, new oak or aged oak? American oak? French oak? If steel tanks, new tanks or rusty ones? Should the wine undergo malolactic fermentation or not?

We don’t have time to cover what all these terms mean and frankly our audience could care less anyway, so let’s cut to the chase. Why barrel samples and not the finished product from the bottle? We asked the polite and gracious Chibikawa this question, and more.

WT: Why barrel samples? Why not wine?

YC: Why sushi or sashimi and not cooked fish or shellfish? You don’t have to cook a fish to appreciate it and in fact the raw version captures the essence of the flavors so much better, I think. You don’t have to “cook” a wine to appreciate it, either.

WT: And your patrons enjoy that?

YC: Standing room only every night, and we are turning people away at the door. These are all samples rated in the 90-point range by either Robert Parker or the Wine Spectator.

WT: What is your most popular wine – er, I mean barrel sample? Sorry, I can’t get used to referring to it that way.

YC: What most patrons do, since they are filthy rich or else have to act like they are, is to simply go the omakase route.

WT: Omakase?

YC: Yes, similar to the way it is handled in sushi bars; it translates to “put yourself in the hands of the chef.” In other words, they trust me to pick and choose what will be the best experience for them.

WT: Which is?

YC: Which is normally a selection of 6 or 7 one-ounce portions of barrel samples starting with the lighter white wines and progressing to the big, full-bodied reds. Some people opt for a smaller selection, or tell me they prefer whites or reds, but some heavy hitters want the whole tour- 14 or 15 courses. And some patrons want only pinot noir. I am happy to oblige.

WT: Presentation is everything, I’m told. And you’re a master at that.

YC: We make it a point to put on a show of drawing out the samples from the barrel and using custom-made Riedel stemless crystal specially designed for this type of tasting. It’s artfully presented to the patron, arranged soothingly on a platter to be consumed right to left. Japanese-style, you know.

WT: Right to left..

YC: Yes, just like reading or writing in Japanese. It is done right to left, not left to right. If we see someone begin to consume the barrel sample on the left first, all of the barrel sample “chefs” will loudly point it out, ridiculing him and causing him to lose face in front of the entire room.

WT: Must be kind of embarrassing to the patron, no doubt.

YC: They learn quickly. As atonement, they have to stand up, bow, and ask us to please kill them.

WT: What’s the tariff for the barrel samples?

YC: These samples are of the highest, freshest quality. We do everything first class. Each sample may cost anywhere from $15 to $250. An omakase can run up to $3,000 or more.

WT: Yowie. But I guess that’s no different than many a sushi bar these days.

YC: Most people are afraid to even ask about price. And what price true quality? We offer something unique, wouldn’t you say?

WT: I would say. Yes, indeed. Last question, Yuji. What happens to the barrel samples that are left over?

YC: Left over? (shakes his head). No such thing.

WT: Thank you Chibikawa-san for a most instructive time!

YC: You are most welcome.

WT: And there you have tonight’s edition of Wine Tonight. From Zen Bareru in the Napa Valley, we’re signing off. See you tomorrow!