Friday, February 29, 2008

2006 Tablas Creek Vermentino

The wine for this week was produced by Tablas Creek. It was purchased from the winery for $21.60.

This is my first Vermentino and I wasn't sure what to expect, but I thought it would be sort of Riesling-like with aromas leaping from the glass for some reason. I thought wrong.

Pale in color, the aromas were reticent. I agree with the winery's "peppered citrus" description. Palate-wise I must agree too, finding green apple and lime. There was also a slate component. This wine had a long finish, with good acidity that I really didn't notice at first but all of a sudden it was there. Sounds kind of stupid to say it that way but that's the only way I can describe it.

This is a subtle, elegant and understated wine that kept me coming back for more. It's by no means one of those hit-you-in- the-face wines - this is one to appreciate its elegance. It gets two thumbs up from me!

And below is the YouTube video that I thought matched the wine very nicely. If it isn't visible to you, click here to see it.



View the Amazon product page for the above DVD and the music soundtrack MP3 download, respectively:


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Poll Thursday

Today I thought I’d summarize the results of a couple of polls that had been sitting on the site for a while that I feel are somewhat related to each other.

First question asked respondents to indicate if the number of bottles in their wine collection was (a) decreasing; (b) remaining steady; (c) increasing; or (d) so large they’d never be able to drink them all in their lifetime.

3 people said decreasing, 7 steady, 11 increasing and 1 had way too many bottles. Me, I am in the “increasing” category.

Second question asked of the books purchased during the past year, what percentage of them remained unread.

3 diligent readers said 0%-10%; 1 said 11%-25%, 4 said 26%-50% and 5 (of which you can count me in) said “don’t ask.”

Why do I say these two questions are related? It seems to me that we like to accumulate things. Something looks interesting so we buy it with the best of intentions – at least if we buy it now, we are assured that it is here rather than having to take a chance that it is no longer available should we decide to wait.

Trick is, when (if ever) will we get to it? One of these days, lol? That fits me to a tee.

Then I got to thinking I should have worded the poll a bit differently so without further adieu, please take a moment and answer the new poll question to the right.

Oh, there was one other poll question, asking what percentage of the total books owned were wine related. 12 said 0%-25% and 1 said 26%-50%. There were no fanatics in this group.

Overall not a very big response but would you say that the results are indicative of the population as a whole? Well are the sample sizes used by the major pollsters that much larger as a proportion to the population they are purportedly trying to measure?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Writer's Block Wednesday Ad Infinitum

Well, not much going on around here and I'm going to stick to my routine of posting my weekly wine review on Friday even though I know what I'm going to say about it right now. So Friday is covered but what to say today?

Important things first: Head on over to El Bloggo Torcido and cast your vote for your favorite Rubber Chicken at Work pic! I am not one of the finalists *sigh* but that means I am not a party of interest in my urgings that you show your patriotic spirit and exercise your right to vote. You may even win a $20 discount coupon as a reward for your diligence! So check it out and vote!

***

Rant: This has nothing to do with wine but I did want to mention a really sleazy practice regarding domain name registration by one of the official name registrars, Network Solutions.

On their home page is a box that allows you to check if a domain name is available. I entered a few names and found out they were available. The reason I use Network Solutions is because you can enter up to 10 names at a time to check. They charge too much to register names, though, so I use a registrar with lower fees (such as GoDaddy or 1&1 - sort of how you thumb through a book at Borders and then go buy it online at Amazon).

After ascertaining from Network Solutions that the names were available, I went to GoDaddy to check the availability and lo and behold, it said the domain names were taken already! To make a long story short, what sleazy Network Solutions does is they put a "hold" on any potential domain name that is entered in their search box so that no other registrar can register the name except Network Solutions.

Their rationale for doing this? To protect against what they call "Front Runners," people who register domains that someone else has just searched on, apparently to hold them ransom? I can understand the reasoning, but then they go on to say that the domain name will be held on reserve for four days during which it may still be registered by anyone, but only through Network Solutions.

So what is the point??? If the name can still be registered by anyone, then how does this prevent front runners from stealing names? All this does is ensure that sleazeball Network Solutions gets the registration money for basically doing nothing, and the other registrars across the net get shut out from the opportunity to register the domain name at a more reasonable fee.

I think it stinks.

So a word of advice, if you are planning on registering a domain name, unless you are going to pay more than necessary by using Network Solutions, don't check the availability of the name using their site.

For example, I went to GoDaddy.com and entered something from the top of my head, "boohoobodaddy.com" in the search box and surprisingly enough, the name was still available. Then I went to NetworkSolutions.com and entered the same name in their search box and got the same result: name is available. Then I went back to GoDaddy.com and entered the name and what do you know? In the course of just a few seconds all of a sudden the name was no longer available! It said it had been taken!

Now if that isn't a slimy practice worthy of a politician then I don't know what is.

Also I am thinking "boohoobodaddy.com" is a pretty catchy name and I ought to register it. But now I have to wait four days until it is taken out of reserve by Slimeworks Solutions. So now don't any of you go and steal my new domain name!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wine Book Club #1 - Vino Italiano The Regional Wines of Italy

Today marks the inaugural blog posting for the recently-formed Wine Book Club. I suppose since it takes less time to drink a bottle of wine than it does to read a book about it, the plans are for bi-monthly online discussions of the chosen title, rather than the monthly discussions taking place for Wine Blogging Wednesday.

Without further adieu, here’s what I have to say about the very first book chosen for the Club, thanks to David McDuff of McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail. For information from his site specific to the Wine Book Club, click here.

The complete title of this work by Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch is Vino Italiano, The Regional Wines of Italy. It’s the revised and updated edition copyright 2005 (the original was released in 2002).

The authors of this comprehensive volume have organized the book into three logical and well-organized sections: Part I discusses the history and current state of Italian wine, along with an overview of the grapes used, rules and regulations, and the export process. Part II covers the major wine regions, one by one. Part III contains five appendices including a glossary, description of the grapes, a directory of the various wine zone demarcations, listing of producers, and finally, resources.

Each chapter within Part II that covers the various wine regions throughout Italy is arranged in the same manner: An anecdote starts it off to give the reader an introduction to and feel of the region; an overview of the wines/grapes of that region by grape category (white, red, sweet, sparkling); a section of fast facts about the region; suggested tastings; and a discussion of the food of that region including an appropriate recipe. A map of the region accompanies each chapter, also.

My favorite parts of the book were the anecdotes that started off each regional chapter. This was a great way to provide a feel of the local color of the region and set the tone for the remainder of the chapter. I also found the descriptions of the wines made by the various producers to be quite mouth-watering. The authors are great ambassadors for the wines of Italy, that’s for sure.

Overall this is one incredible labor of love presented by the authors. Does it tell you everything you’ll ever need to know about Italian wine? It sure seems like it. It’s chock-full of information, presented in a readable, organized manner that makes this not only superb reference material, but interesting pleasure reading, too.

Does the book get you thirsty? It certainly does. My experience with Italian wines has been very limited, most of it in drinking insipid, diluted Pinot Grigio that made me stare at the wine glass and wonder if I had really gotten what I had ordered because it was so bad. While the authors lament that so much of this type of wine leaves the country, they also point out that there’s plenty of good stuff, too. And the way they describe the good stuff – wine with character and flavor, reflecting the regional terroir, made by caring people who love what they do – made me very thirsty.

Is this book worth buying? You bet. If you have any interest whatsoever in Italian wine, the $14.93 Amazon charges will be money well spent. That is a bargain price for the wealth of information you’ll get from this massive, well-written volume.

Without a doubt this book rates two thumbs up.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Crystal Winos Awarded Last Night

Almost derailed by the Wine Bloggers Strike but thankfully settled when an agreement was reached last week that allowed both Blogger and Wordpress to co-exist, the 80th Annual Wino World Awards ceremony took place last night.

Capturing top honors for best performance of a red grape in a starring role, the Crystal Wino was awarded to Cabernet Sauvignon. This year’s competition was close, with Syrah/Shiraz reportedly coming in a close second.

Sauvignon Blanc surprised quite a few people this year by being awarded the Crystal Wino for best performance of a white grape in a starring role. Many in the audience had expected another shoo-in for perennial favorite Chardonnay but this year it just didn’t happen.

Another surprise took place in the best performance of a red grape in a supporting role, with Petit Verdot coming out of nowhere to claim the Crystal Wino.

The evening of surprises continued when Viognier was named the winner in the best performance of a white grape in a supporting role. Commentators pointed out that its versatility in being blended with both red and white grape varieties enabled it to get the jump on its competition.

Even more attention-grabbing than the awards themselves were the designer labels worn by the nominees as well as the other bottles in attendance.

“This has got to be the most ostentatious display of labels yet,” observed Marvin Zabriski, well-known Napa Valley wine columnist. Vintages and ratings of Robert Parker and Wine Spectator scores etched in 24K gold on platinum labels were prominently displayed throughout the celebrity bottle crowd, while reporters furiously snapped pictures as they rolled down the red carpet. Onlookers stood in awe.

As might be expected, the wine was flowing like water at the post-Crystal Wino celebration party.

***

On a serious note, I was searching for a picture to use for the Crystal Wino and came across the Amadeo Lyra decanter from Riedel, which is pictured above. I’d never seen this before but it sure is gorgeous. $285 from Amazon (but shipping is free!).

Friday, February 22, 2008

2005 Twisted Oak Viognier

What better way to follow up yesterday's Take Your Rubber Chicken to Work post than with wine from the winery whose blog introduced the event to the world!

This particular bottle came with my WineQ shipment and set me back $21.99. I must also add it's a classy bottle - the label and the writing on the back is etched on. No paper labels and dead trees here!

But what's inside? This medium-gold wine featured prominent apricot aromas, along with floral, ripe peach, mineral and powdered cocoa elements. It has been a while since I've had a Condrieu, but there was no mistaking the resemblance - much more so than any other non-French Viognier I can remember drinking.

Taste-wise, it was full and forward with apricots and peaches, a slight bitter character, and a bit of alcohol bite. The acidity arrived in the mid-palate. I'd say drink it now.

Two thumbs up on this one.

And here's the accompanying YouTube video. If you can't see it below, then click here.



Thursday, February 21, 2008

Take Your Rubber Chicken To Work?? Never Again!!


Inspired by the call to Take Your Rubber Chicken to Work Week promoted by El Bloggo Torcido's El Jefe, I joined in and took my normally house-ridden pest, uh, pet rubber chicken Yolko to work with me yesterday.

I let him add up some important figures for the financial statements and as you can see, he really enjoyed himself. I forgot to check if he did it right though, but what the hec
k, am I any different from the big auditing firms?

I am always sensitive to the fact that Yolko must have his time of worship each morning so even though we were at the office, I wanted to make sure he didn't miss out on his usual session with El Pollo Jefe.

Kids are often shy in new environments but once they get used to things, they'll start exploring and getting into mischef. Yolko was no different than a kid. He got bolder and bolder and started exploring the office. And you can see what happened when he encountered the postage meter.

I brought him back to my office and told him to sit still. But I got engrossed in something and didn't pay attention to him. Next thing I knew, he had disappeared again. I searched all over the office and finally...
That darn fool chicken managed to get himself in the freezer!! Luckily I found him in time, although he still managed to turn white from the experience.

A few more moments and I might have had to change his name to Tyson. Or Zacky or Foster. Oh wait, never mind. Zacky and Foster have the good sense to never get frozen.

Oh, and please excuse the disgusting filthy condition of that bacteria-generator we refer to as our refrigerator in our office. We're really conducting secret scientific experiments, you know.

Poor Yolko was so cold I decided to warm him up a bit. All we had was a microwave oven so I put him in there and pressed the "minute plus" button to take away the chill.

I guess I pressed the button a few too many times. He was feeling pretty crispy after that, but later in the afternoon his usual jaundiced color returned and he was back to normal.

All in all it was a very exciting but busy and tiring day for Yolko and he had no trouble dozing off soon as we got home. I tucked him into bed and as you can see, he's already catching some zzz's.

That's his favorite poster up on the wall, by the way.

I'd like to thank El Jefe for his wonderful idea and I suppose this is now going to become an annual event. Will I participate next year? I'm not sure. That chicken got into so much mischief at the office I don't know if it is worth the trouble!

By the way, head on over to El Bloggo Torcido to read/see about other people's experiences taking their rubber chicken to work! Here's a couple of blog posts also to check out: Sonadora at Wannabe Wino and Farley at Behind the Vines.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

2006 Casa Lapostolle Chardonnay Cuvée Alexandre Atalayas

Today is another WBW entry - Writer's Block Wednesday. I'm deviating from my one wine per week standard to include a review today, plus the regular one will be on Friday, as usual.

This wine with the very long name was purchased at Costco last August for $16.99. Surprisingly there are no reviews of this at Cellar Tracker. I noticed at the time that the bin had the 2004, 2005 and 2006 vintages all mixed together so I chose the newest one.

This light straw-colored wine had nice fruity aromas mixed with a bit of oak. On the palate there was a good concentration of crisp, fresh, ripe tropical chardonnay fruit mixed with what reminded me of black olive juice, balanced oak, and overall a very juicy quality because of the fruit and acid balance.

There was nothing particularly complex about the wine and it didn't change much as it sat in the glass, but it had lots of flavor, very good balance, and was ready to drink.

Two thumbs up on this one.

***

Late breaking news - the real WBW (Wine Blogging Wednesday) #43 assignment has just been posted by Juice Cowboy. Click here to see what it is!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wine Rack / Riedel to do Joint Venture?

There has been much buzz lately about the Wine Rack, a sports bra that can be filled with one's drink of choice, to be consumed via a stealth straw most anywear since it is rather difficult to detect the presence of one of these devices. For those of you who haven't read about it, click here.

Rumor has it that the Wine Rack has caught the attention of premium crystal maker Riedel, best known for its series of wine glasses whose shapes and sizes are tailored to enhance the best characteristics of individual grape varieties.

Now the buzz is that Riedel has teamed up with Wine Rack to release a line of sports bra wine wear whose cups are custom-designed to complement the type of wine that is poured into them by the wearer.

Sources who asked to remain unidentified told us that this new line of cupware will be called the Cupiere Line, featuring models with names such as Madonna, Dromedary, Goodyear, Beacon, etc. We were also furnished with a draft of what they claim will be the official release poster for the line (see above picture).

Although this venture has not been officially announced, we queried wine industry expert Terrance Rouilly as to his thoughts on the rumored product.

"It's a sweet idea," declared Rouilly. "It's the ultimate logical next step in the evolution of this product. Just because you are drinking the wine through a tube doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy it to its fullest potential. It's commonly accepted throughout the wine community that the aromas and tastes of a wine are impacted by the shape and size of the glass. Why not carry this one step further and apply it to the Wine Rack?

For now, we will have to wait and see if the rumor becomes reality. In the meantime, other rumors have surfaced in the wake of this one: Eisch is reportedly trying to develop breathable cups, but apparently has been stymied by leakage problems. Another third party developer is attempting to find a way to insert a Vinturi device between the cups and the stealth straw to aerate the wine before it reaches the mouth of the wearer.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Faux Pas of the Century in Super Bowl XLII

I am not a football fan so I am probably among the 10% or less of you out there who didn’t watch the Super Bowl. Almost everything I hear about what’s happening in the football world is from watching Gary Vaynerchuk on Wine Library TV.

So I was amused by the article in last Saturday’s wine column of the Wall Street Journal which mentioned the furor over scenes of Gisele Bündchen sitting in her luxury box sipping red wine while watching the game.

Had I not read this article I would have no idea who she is, but now I know she is Tom Brady’s girlfriend. At least I knew Tom Brady is the quarterback for the New England Patriots, up until that time candidate for the greatest football team of all time, better than the Vince Lombardi Packers, the Terry Bradshaw Steelers, the USC Trojans at the beginning of any season, etc.

Outraged bloggers and media people criticized Ms. Bündchen’s choice of beverage for such things as being out of place at a football game, insinuating she was in her own snobby little world disconnected from the game enjoying her snobby little wine, and even blaming her for the Patriots loss because it was so distracting for Brady.

A couple of things this pointed out to me: One, that many people still perceive wine as a snobby thing, and two, rabid sports fans will find any excuse in the world when their oh so beloved team fails.

The whole furor could have been easily prevented had Ms.
Bündchen chosen to be more discreet as to her choice of vessels containing the wine. The product illustrated in this video would have been satisfactory (thanks to Wine Life Today where I got the reference to this product in the first place).

Friday, February 15, 2008

2003 Sky Saddle Zinfandel Twin Oaks Vineyard

The wine for this week is the 2003 Sky Saddle Zinfandel, from the Twin Oaks Vineyard in Sonoma County. 220 cases were made from organic grapes grown on a two acre vineyard high in the Mayacamas Mountains.

This bottle was received from WineQ as a beta club sample. According to Marshall over at WineQ, the retail is $26.00.

First thing I noticed about this wine was that it smells like a box of new pencils. Lots of cedar and graphite along with some smoky black pepper are in the aromas. I also detected something like the skin from roasted peanuts. Cedar was the most prominent characteristic.

The initial palate impression was like the nose and then smooth plum and berry tastes emerged. There was lots of fruit on the sides of my tongue and lots of cedar and some peppery spice in the middle. The graphite-like finish tailed off rather quickly.

This well-made wine is not your typical California fruit bomb. It had interesting aromas and flavors and is drinking very well right now.

For the wine itself I have no problem giving it a thumbs up. I'm sort of hesitant on the price but I can understand the higher costs of production for a small winery such as Sky Saddle, as well as their commitment to organic farming. Taking that into account, if $26 is within your wine budget, then by all means this one is worth trying.

Oops.. this is an edit. I forgot to insert the YouTube video for this wine! If you are unable to see the video below, click here.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

WBW #42 - A $14 Barolo?

This is my initial participation in Wine Blogging Wednesday, and what a challenge for the first one: Andrew over at Spittoon was in charge of this 42nd WBW and specified an Italian red wine to sample and review. Easy enough, but he also specified the review be in 7 words. That's more difficult than trying to write a review in Haiku.

My WBW submission is a 2003 Barolo from La Loggia, which I purchased at Trader Joe's for $13.99. A Barolo for $13.99?? I found out about this via a post on the Chowhound Wine Board and decided to take the plunge.

Not only is this my first WBW but it is my first Barolo. So without further adieu because I am wordy enough as it is, here is my seven word review:

Deceptive tannins turned my mouth inside out.

Based on what I've read, the characteristics of this wine weren't particularly Barolo-like but I have nothing to compare it to from personal experience. On the basis of judging it as a wine and not knowing what kind it was, however, I would give it two thumbs up.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

WINE WARS Preview #5 - May the Terroir Be With You

Preview number five begins at the hidden Rebel base located on the planet Eni Amod 745. On this small planet are some of the last remaining vineyards in the galaxy that have not been destroyed by the evil Empire.

The digital technical readouts of the Oak Star have been brought to Eni Amod 745 by Luke Skysaddle, Han Zello, Princess Bonny and Chewy, stuffed inside of a rubber chicken to evade detection by the authorities.

While Rebel wireheads race frantically to decipher the technical readouts before the Oak Star can make its way into firing range of their planet, Luke, Bonny and several assistants huddle over glasses containing barrel samples from the various vineyards of Eni Amod 745. Surrounding them is the Winepodalyzer: a wall-to-wall menagerie of advanced electronic equipment sporting meters, flashing lights, and graphs that devises the formula for perfect blends.

Smauls, a long-time friend of Luke since childhood, is standing next to him shaking his head in wonderment.

Smauls: How’d you manage to get those Oak Star plans past the Starport security, anyway?

Luke: They were inside the rubber chicken. I just told the guy I was taking it to work with me because it was “rubber chicken at work week” and he waved me through.

Before Smauls can respond, Han Zello and Chewy walk into the room.

Han: I came by to say so long, kid.

Luke: So.. you got your reward and now you’re leaving us?

Han: That’s right. Yeah, I got some debts I have to go pay off. Even if I didn’t, you think I’d be fool enough to stick around here? Look, you’re pretty good with the grapes. Why don’t you come with us? I could use you.

Luke: C’mon, why don’t you take a look around? Don’t you see what’s happening? You see what we’re up against. They could use a good pilot like you. You’re turning your back on them.

Han: What good’s a reward if you ain’t around to use it? Besides, attacking that Oak Star ain’t my idea of courage. It’s more like suicide.

Luke: All right, well, take care of yourself. I guess that’s what you’re best at, isn’t it?

Luke, angry and disappointed, turns back to his barrel samples while Han starts to walk away with Chewy, then hesitates.

Han: Hey Luke! Uh, may the Terroir be with you!

Luke gives Han a weak smile and watches as Han and Chewy leave the room.

Princess Bonny: Luke, he has to do what he has to do. No one can choose his path for him.

Luke: I just thought he would stay. I sure wish Eno Juan was still here.

Luke, Bonny and the others continue tasting the samples, trying to come up with a final blend of wine. Luke finally slams down his glass in disgust.

Luke: This just isn’t working.

Princess Bonny: Don’t give up, Luke. We’re almost there. Can’t you see the data on the Winepodalyzer is telling us we are approaching the apex?

Luke: We don’t have much time. When we blow up the Oak Star, someone is going to have to supply the universe with wine. Good wine. And what we have now just isn’t cutting it.

Smauls: I’ve got it! I’ve got it! The Winepodalyzer says this is the perfect blend! It’s giving me the thumbs up!

Startled, Luke and Bonny rush over to Smauls. He offers them a taste. Luke thoughtfully swirls, takes a sniffy sniff then tastes it. He spits it out and shakes his head.

Luke: It’s just not there, Smauls. There’s something missing. It's lacking depth. I’m sorry.

Luke puts his head down in his hands and is very still. He just can’t figure out what to do.

Eno Juan’s Voice: Use the Terroir, Luke.

Luke raises his head a bit and looks around the room, as if searching for the candid camera. Looking defeated, he stands up and heads toward the Winepodalyzer to further refine the controls.

Eno Juan’s Voice: Let go, Luke.

Luke raises his hands to one of the knobs on the Winepodalyzer, hesitates, then puts it back down.

Eno Juan’s Voice: Luke, trust me.

Luke walks to one side of the huge machine and turns it off.

Princess Bonny and Smauls: Luke, you just turned off the Winepodalyzer! Are you all right? What’s wrong?

Luke: Nothing. I’m fine.

Luke walks determinedly back to the tasting table and begins selecting and mixing barrel samples with a renewed fervor. Bonny and Smauls watch in astonishment. After a few minutes, Luke swirls, sniffy sniffs and takes a drink.

Luke: This is it! Perfection!

Bonny and Smauls each sample the blend.

Princess Bonny: Luke, this is gorgeous! This is the best wine I’ve ever tasted!

Smauls: I knew you could do it, Luke! You aced it!

Eno Juan’s Voice: Remember Luke, the Terroir will be with you.. always.

Princess Bonny: Luke, we have it – the greatest wine ever made! Now all we have to do is get it past the Empire and their Oak Star’s embargo, and distribute it throughout the universe. People will know what a real wine tastes like again!

Luke rejoices with the rest of his fellow Rebels but it is obvious by the look on his face that he is pondering Princess Bonny’s last statement. How are the Rebels going to evade the Empire? Will they be able to destroy the monopoly of the Oak Star and transport their wines to surrounding planets?

Stay with us for preview #6 coming soon!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Preview #4 in the WINE WARS saga

We begin this 4th preview on the Oak Star. Luke Skysaddle, Han Zello, Eno Juan and Chewy have been successful in helping Princess Bonny to escape her cell. All but Eno are running through the corridors towards the Millennium Magnum to board and then speed away from the Oak Star.

Eno Juan, meanwhile, has disabled the tractor beams and now there is nothing to prevent the Millennium Magnum from taking off. He is hurrying down another corridor to meet the others when he encounters the evil Kang Aru. On one side of him is the hangar housing the Millennium Magnum. On the other is a steep drop into a huge vat of grapes ready to be crushed.

Immediately Kang Aru pulls out a tastevin that is hanging from a chain around his neck. Eno Juan follows suit with his own tastevin.

Kang Aru: I’ve been waiting for you, Eno Juan. We meet again, at last. The cork has now been put into the bottle.

Eno Juan moves with elegant ease into a classical offensive position. The fearsome Kang Aru takes up a defensive stance.

Eno Juan: You should know it’s Stelvin, not cork these days, Aru.

Kang Aru: When I left you I was but a learner; now I am the master.

Eno Juan: Only a master of bloated, over the top evil wines and at preventing free trade, Aru.

The two of them begin angling their tastevins at each other, attempting to reflect light into one another’s eyes to blind them. As they jockey for position, the Oak Troopers who are guarding the Millennium Magnum notice the duel and come running over to watch.

Kang Aru: Your eyes are weak, old man.

Eno Juan: You can’t possibly win, Aru. If you strike me down I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

The two continue fighting. Luke, Princess Bonny, Han Zello and Chewy arrive at the hangar housing the Millennium Falcon and notice no one is guarding the ship. They take that opportunity to run on board. As they are running towards the ship, Luke notices the duel that is taking place. He stops.

Eno Juan looks over and sees his companions. With a serene look on his face, he lowers his tastevin, letting it hang loose from his neck, then closes his eyes. Kang Aru takes advantage of the opportunity and swiftly kicks Eno Juan into the giant grape crushing vat. We hear machinery operating and it is obvious that Eno Juan has been crushed inside the vat along with the grapes.

Luke: Noooooo!

The Imperial Oak Troopers realize they have left the ship unguarded. They turn and begin firing at the group boarding the ship. As Kang Aru peers into the vat to confirm Eno Juan’s demise, he then turns and heads towards the ship. Han Zello manages to blast the buttons next to the doors of the hangar and they close before Aru can step inside.

Eno Juan’s voice: Run, Luke, Run!

In a wild frenzy, Han drags the shocked and disbelieving Luke onto the ship. The group gets into position and is able to blast off into space before the Oak Troopers can stop them.

On board and having successfully fought off the TIE fighters and having made the leap into hyperspace, Princess Bonny tries to console the grieving Luke.

Luke: I can’t believe it. Crushed in a vat of grapes.

Princess Bonny: There’s nothing you could have done, Luke. Look at it this way, though. In the year 2525 we can say that it will be the vintage of the decamillennium because Eno Juan is in the wine.

Luke: “Wine of the decamillennium?” That’s so clichéd.

Princess Bonny: Sorry. But the wine truly will be spectacular. There are some very old ‘vines’ in there, if you know what I mean.

Luke looks at Bonny, then looks down at the ground and shakes his head.

And that is preview number four, folks. Tune in next time for number five!

Friday, February 8, 2008

2006 Trevor Jones Virgin Chardonnay

I picked up this bottle from Costco last summer because it looked interesting and also came with some decent reviews (of which I can't remember). It set me back $14.99.

This pale-colored Australian wine is unoaked. It didn't smell like a chardonnay; it smelled more like a Riesling with lime, citrus and honeysuckle. Lots of lemon lime and sweet tropical fruit on the palate but it had an artificially sugary feel to it. This wine had nice crisp acidity, which I liked.

I'd have to say that at first the wine makes a good impression because of its nice aromas and abundance of fruit, but the sugary mouthfeel becomes monotonous. It's more like soda or fruit juice than chardonnay; the vibrant acidity helps but not enough. Unfortunately this wine is a one-trick pony. I feel bad, but thumbs down on this one.

Here is the YouTube "music" video for this wine. If the screen is not visible below, click here.




Thursday, February 7, 2008

WINE WARS Preview #3 Is Here

Continuing with the previews that began last Tuesday, here is preview #3 of the summer of 2008's blockbuster movie, Wine Wars (with apologies to George Lucas).

A group of sleazy, slimy-looking men that could be mistaken for elected officials or their political appointees are all sitting around a conference table inside of an Imperial Fruit Bomber that is headed towards the Oak Star. Guards are stationed around the room. Commander Toobuk, a particularly slimy looking general, is speaking.

Toobuk: Until the Oak Star is fully operational, we are vulnerable. The Rebel Alliance is too well-equipped and continues to make wines that express true varietal character. They are more dangerous than you realize.

The bitter Admiral Waswah, who has a nervous eye tic, twists nervously in his chair.

Waswah: Dangerous to your wine fleet, Commander, not to the Oak Star Super Colossal Wine-Making Helluva Thing!

Toobuk: The rebellion will continue to gain support in the Imperial Wine Senate as long as-

Toobuk’s speech is cut short and all heads turn as the Grand Vin Poobah Wynekom, governor of the outland regions, enters. He is followed by his powerful ally, Lord Kang Aru. All of the men stand and bow before the evil-looking governor as he takes his place at the head of the table, while the intimidating Kang Aru stands behind and to his side. Kang Aru’s appearance is indeed formidable; his face is hidden behind a mask, his breathing enabled and also amplified by apparatus attached to the mask. Each time he inhales, it makes a very loud sniffy sniff.

Wynekom: The Imperial Wine Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I’ve just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remains of the Old Garde will be swept away.

Toobuk: That’s impossible! How will the Emperor maintain control over the interstellar shipping lines without the bureaucracy?

Wynekom: There are no more interstellar shipping lines. WE control the shipping and the only shipping will be coming directly from the Oak Star. Those little wineries scattered across the galaxy will not be able to ship their pathetic little wines anywhere beyond their own planets because the Emperor has disallowed it. Fear of the Oak Star will keep them in line.

Toobuk: And what of the rebellion? If the Rebels have obtained the technical readout of the Oak Star it is possible, however unlikely, that they might find a weakness and exploit it.

Kang Aru: The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hot little hands.

Waswah: Any attack made by the Rebels against the Oak Star would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical information they have obtained. The Oak Star is now the ultimate winery in the universe!

Kang Aru: Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to infuse oak into billions of bottles of wine is insignificant next to the power of Terroir.

Waswah: Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Lord Aru. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion hasn’t helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes or given you clairvoyance to find the Rebel’s hidden vineyards, much less identify what grapes are used in the latest vintage of Conundrum..

Kang Aru glares at Waswah, slowly raising his right hand. The sniffy sniff sounds get louder and louder. Suddenly Waswah chokes and starts to turn blue under Lord Aru’s spell.

Kang Aru: I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Wynekom: Enough of this! Aru – release him!

Kang Aru: As you wish.

Aru flicks his wrist and moves his hand away from the choking Waswah, who gasps and tries to regain his breath.

Wynekom: This bickering is pointless. Kang Aru will provide us with the location of the hidden Rebel vineyards by the time the Oak Star is operational. Then we will crush them, all with one swift stroke.

And that’s preview number three, folks. Stay tuned for the next one coming next week!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

WINE WARS Preview #2

Yesterday we announced Wine Wars, sure to be this summer’s and 2008’s, big blockbuster. Here is another preview of a scene from the movie:

We catch up with Luke Skysaddle and Eno Juan. They have escaped Imperial Oaktroopers and outrun the evil Empire’s Imperial Fruit Bombers by making the leap into hyperspace in the Millennium Magnum with the aid of the ship’s Captain, Han Zello, a renegade mercenary winemaker and his partner/co-pilot, Chewy.

Meanwhile, aboard the Oak Star, Princess Bonny watches helplessly as the entire vineyards of the planet Vielles Vignes are destroyed in one brief moment by a massive infusion of oak rays that emanate from the Star.

Back on the Millenium Magnum, Luke and Eno Juan sit hunched over a number of soil samples, examining each one when Eno Juan suddenly clutches his chest and staggers.

Luke: Eno, what’s wrong? Are you all right?

Eno Juan: I felt a great disturbance in the Terroir. It was as if millions of grapes suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly crushed. I fear something terrible is underfoot.

Eno Juan sits there and rubs his forehead, appearing to be in a trance. Slowly he looks up at Luke.

Eno Juan: Luke, you’d better get on with your analysis exercises.

Han Zello enters the room.

Han: Hey, I told you I’d outrun those Imperial Fruit Bombs!

Luke continues examining the soil samples and Eno Juan watches him.

Han: Well don’t everyone thank me at once.

Eno Juan: Luke, remember that a Vin de Garde can feel the Terroir flowing through him and into his wines.

Luke: You mean it controls your actions?

Eno Juan: Partially, but it also reacts to the way you vinify the grapes.

Han: Look kid, hokey religions and ancient techniques are no match for a good dose of new oak.

Luke: You don’t believe in Terroir, do you?

Han: Kid, I’ve flown from one end of this galaxy to the other. I’ve cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis. I’ve pumped a lot of pain down in Tattooine. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s some all-powerful character controlling how a wine tastes. There’s no mystical force field that controls the wines I make!

Eno Juan smiles quietly.

Han: It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

Is it? Stay tuned for more previews from Wine Wars. Coming during the summer of 2008 to a theater or drive in near you! Or a theater, at least.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Coming Summer 2008: WINE WARS

Joining the ranks of movies centered around wine will be what might turn out to be the summer’s biggest hit: Wine Wars. Based loosely on the 1977 Mega-Hit Star Wars by George Lucas, Wine Wars similarly takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far away.

It is a world in which the varietal and territorial distinction between grapes and the resulting wines made from those grapes has been eradicated by the Evil Empire. The Empire has declared that all wines must be made in a highly oaked, fruit-bomb style.

To this end, the Empire has commenced construction of the Oak Star, a huge winery with output in the billions of cases, and whose wines will be the only ones available throughout the known universe.

Bent on overcoming their oppressors, a small group of rebel wineries has formed the Rebel Alliance to fight for the preservation of varietal and territorial character in wines. They face an uphill and so far losing battle against the much larger Empire that seems unstoppable.

Here is an excerpt from one of the scenes in the movie. It is a conversation between young Luke Skysaddle and the much older and wiser Eno Juan. The two have just met.

Luke: My father didn’t know how to make wines, he drove a delivery truck that took the wines to the stores that sold them.

Eno Juan: That’s what your uncle told you. He didn’t like your father’s ideals and thought he shouldn’t get involved in dealing with grapes.

Luke: You fought in the clone wars?

Eno Juan: Yes, I was once a Vin de Garde, same as your father.

Luke: I wish I knew him.

Eno Juan: He was the best grape grower in the galaxy. And a cunning winemaker. I understand you’ve become quite a winemaker yourself.

(Luke modestly shrugs, and Eno continues)

And he was a good friend. Which reminds me, I have something for you. (Eno Juan gets up to fetch something in the corner of the room) Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn’t allow it. He was afraid you’d follow old Eno Juan on some damn fool idealistic crusade like your father did.

Luke: What is it?

Eno Juan: Your father’s tastevin. It is the instrument of a Vin de Garde. Not as clumsy as a oakometer but a more elegant device symbolic of a more civilized day. For over a thousand generations the Vin de Garde were the guardians of wine, keeping wines distinctive and elegant. That is, before the dark times. Before the Empire. Before all wines were made the same way and tasted alike and there was no need to taste them before bottling anymore.

Luke: How did my father die?

Eno Juan: A young Vin de Garde named Kang Aru, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the empire hunt down and destroy the Vin de Garde. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Vin de Garde are all but extinct. Aru was seduced by the dark side of the Terroir.

Luke: The Terroir?

Eno Juan: The Terroir is what gives a wine its power. It’s an energy force composed of all living things. It surrounds the wine and and penetrates it and binds the vineyard together.

***

And that folks, is a preview of the upcoming movie. Stay tuned as we will have more previews to show you in the days to come. Here are some of the exciting characters that will be appearing in the movie:

Luke Skysaddle – his father was a Vin de Garde and now it is up to him to save the wine universe.

Kang Aru – once a Vin de Garde himself, he was seduced by the dark barrel and murdered Luke’s father. Now he works for the Emperor.

Eno Juan – another former Vin de Garde and a fountain of wisdom. It will be up to him to mentor and protect young Luke so he can accomplish the great task ahead of him.

Princess Bonny – One of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance, who have sworn to defeat the Emperor and his evil ways, and bring back varietal distinction and territorial character to all wines in all places.

The Emperor – Leader of the evil Empire, it is his goal to standardize all wines throughout the universe into massive oak-laden fruit bombs. All territories in the universe must cater to him by making wines to please his palate or else be doomed to failure.

Han Zello – An oak-toting mercenary who is on the side of whoever pays the most. Will he be seduced by the dark barrels or will he join the ranks of the Rebel Alliance?

Chewy – a creature whose name defies description. The running joke in the movie is that whenever anyone is introduced to Chewy, they say the same thing: “Chewy? What does that mean, anyway?” And Chewy just lets out a bellow and shrugs.

The Oak Star – Giant planet-sized winery constructed by the Empire that produces billions upon billions of cases of wine to distribute throughout the universe.

Imperial Fruit Bombs – The massive star fleet destroyers used by the Empire, which are made of new oak, of course.

Millennium Magnum – the band-aid wooden starship used by Han Zello and his companion Chewy as they cruise the universe looking for their next mission.

Stay tuned, there’s more to come!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Does Music Affect Wine Development?

Do wines respond to noises and types of music?

Excerpt from the dialogue currently taking place over on The Pampered Wine Forum:

Posted by Mr. Peabody 9:30 am February 3, 2008:

Vinnyphile, oh yes there is indeed a connection between the kind of music played around wines being cellared! Let me tell you, my collection of wines has its share of rare and expensive bottles and for the longest time I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why they all seemed so poor. Every bottle I opened was suffering from bottle shock – all disjointed, muted aromas and tastes, out of balance, just not showing well at all.

It couldn’t have been bottle shock since they had been cellared for at least months if not years. And the conditions were perfect – 55 degrees with 70% humidity all through the year.

Then one day I figured it out. My boy was playing his rap music real loud as usual and finally I got sick and tired of it and told him to shut it up. Which he did, and from then on I put a moratorium on that garbage. I told him take it outside, don’t play it in my house any more.

After that rap music stopped I noticed that my wines started tasting just fine. No more bottle shock, no more out of balance, just fine wine.

So as an experiment I asked my boy to play more of his rap music in the house. He was surprised but complied and sure enough, the wines started tasting awful again. Then I kicked him and his music back out.

I started experimenting with different types of music to see what kind of effect it had on my wines and as I suspected, classical seemed to bring out the best in them. Jazz wasn’t too bad either, and even some pop music didn’t seem to harm them. But Barry Manilow… and country and western.. forget it.

So Vinnyphile, I say most definitely there’s a connection between music and the development of a wine.

Posted by Vinnyphile 11:04 am February 3, 2008:

May I suggest, Mr. Peabody, that it is not the wine that is affected by the music played in your abode, but rather you that are affected by it. Obviously you have preferences for certain types of music and when those types are played, psychologically it makes your wine-drinking experience more pleasant.

On the other hand, you also evidently do not care for certain types of music such as rap, country and western and the Mandy Man, and hearing these types sets your nerves on edge and prevents you from enjoying whatever wine you happen to choose. You are the jittery one, not your wine.

That is my hypothesis. Wine is not affected in the least by the type of sounds around it.

Posted by Mr. Peabody 1:43 pm February 3, 2008:

Vinnyphile I disagree with you. We all know that wines are supposed to do best when kept in a dark, vibration-free temperature-controlled environment. Music and sounds in general are perceived by us due to the vibrations made on our ear drums. So don’t you think that music causes vibrations that resonate off of the bottle and are transmitted to the wine inside?

Certain frequencies or tones must be more damaging to wines than others. It sure makes sense to me that rap music would be harmful to wine. And sorry, but my wines just don’t like the Copacabanaman either.

We’re all familiar with those studies that show how plants are affected by sound. Wines are made from grapes and grapes come from plants. So why wouldn’t sound affect wine also?

Posted by Vinnyphile 2:06 pm February 3, 2008:

The plants in those studies were alive. The grapes in your wines are dead.

Posted by Mr. Peabody 2:29 pm February 3, 2008:

If the grapes are dead why does the wine still continue to develop in the bottle? They still have a spirit in them. No pun intended.

**Topic locked by Moderator 3:06 pm February 3, 2008**

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Happy Groundhog Day!

Normally I take a break on the weekends but I thought I'd do this special edition and wish everyone a happy Groundhog Day!

Remember the Bill Murray movie of the same name? Here's a wineophile's nightmare Groundhog Day movie scenario: opening a bottle of 1982 Latour and... it is corked!

From what I read the groundhog is also the same animal as a woodchuck. So how much ground could a ground hog hog if a groundhog could hog ground?

Okay, that's enough for today. I just got carried away.

Friday, February 1, 2008

2005 Cameron Hughes Zinfandel Lot 43

This was quite an interesting wine. According to Cameron Hughes' website, its composition is 80% Zinfandel, 15% Syrah and 5% Petite Sirah. While it cost me $12 from the "winery," many Costco locations in California carry it for two bucks less.

I split the bottle into four servings, three into 187.5 ml bottles for subsequent nights, and the first quarter for the first night.

Night one: Very muted aromas that took a very long time to open up but when they did, there was a lot going on: Earthy, white pepper, plum, peach pit, sandbox sand and some smoky spice mixed with mocha. Complex but not very forthcoming - the aromas didn't come wafting out of the glass, they waited to be sniffed out.

The wine was more open on the palate. Gravelly red fruit, plums and some pepper that turned more and more lush, jammy and viscous with air. There was an initial tannic bite that mellowed out over time, too. There's 14.5% alcohol content but the "heat" is well covered by the abundant flavors.

The three 187.5 ml portions over the subsequent nights were all pretty much the same although the aromas didn't open up as much as the 1st night's tasting. Two thumbs up on this one; great QPR at $12 but even better if you snag it at Costco. My only complaint is that the aromas were pretty shy.

Give this wine lots of air time and it makes for a good drink now.

Here's the Youtube music video that I thought matches with the wine. If you can't see it below, then click here.