Gone, baby… gone!

Oh, in case I didn’t mention it (cuz I know I didn’t), I’ll be AWOL for the next week or so.  I’m off to visit my family in Portland, Oregon — Hurray! 

moar funny pictures

We’ll be spending a lot of our time in Bend, where there has been heavy snow in answer to all my husband’s Texas prayers.  I don’t think the cabin has web access, so instead of posting I’ll be toasting… marshmallows! 

And toasting you as well, gentle reader.  Thanks for continuing to tune in, and have a very merry collection of holidays.  I’ll see you next year!

industry personal

The New Phone Books are Here! The New Phone Books are Here!

Hey, remember a long, long time ago when I was shopping for wine magazines? I never got back to you on which I chose, but I did order some. I confess that I’ve gone really non-mainstream, so far… But the first one arrived! My first International Wine Cellar came in the mail today!

Tanzer TableauIt’s so thick and weighty, with such impenetrable columns of small type and no pictures! Ful-O-Pep, certainly, but in a very serious, Oliver Wendell Holmes kind of way.

And it discusses the wines coming in my first shipment from my Xmas present this year: a Tablas Creek Wine Club membership! (Thank you Dr. Debs for the recommendation.) And the wines arrive on Friday! And Tanzer gave most of them 90+ point ratings! And the wines arrive on Friday!

I leave on a trip to Oregon on Sunday and I’ve been wondering what to read on the plane, or rather how many books and what types I should bring. Now I can bring a magazine, too! And I can make little notes in the margins like my mom used to do in her theological texts while in grad school! I’m in wine grad school!


Why Tanzer, you ask, and not Parker? Well, two reasons. First, I’ve received Parker’s zine before and I wanted to try something new. Second, I must confess that the stinkiness from the eBob board brouhahas wafting around the wine blogosphere lately has put a bit of a bad taste in my mouth about the Advocate. On top of that distastefulness surrounding the eBob board (and thus, name), I don’t get that “champion of the consumer” vibe from Mr. P any more; I’m feeling him much more as an institution and less as an industry outsider with some wine tips for little old me.

Also, I feel that Tanzer’s 90 point ratings are a little harder to come by, and he’s not AS seduced by the old fruit-bomb, high alcohol, high extraction style of wine that Mr. P prefers and lauds. Not that I’m adversely inclined toward a fruity-tuity-big-booty-patootie myself, but lately the booziness of a 16% bottle will get to me, and I’m really enjoying more balanced, structured juice these days. Really interesting interview with Stephen Tanzer over at Grape Radio, by the way. Check it out; I very much enjoyed it.

I’ve never regularly read Tanzer (he wasn’t very influential in my market when I was in the business), so I’m really looking forward to getting to know his work. The other magazine I’ve subscribed to is Restaurant Wine, which is another industry-focused publication. I’m thinking I’ll also pick up Wine Enthusiast or the Spectator, just to keep an eye on the more consumer-oriented print mags.

But away with these sober reflections and plans! I’m going to pour myself a glass of something and dig in to my new tome.

personal wineries

Pennywise… and Poundwise, too

Warren en familleI was approached a month or so ago by my friend Jessica, whose co-worker Warren had been given a $100 gift certificate to Spec’s Wines, Spirits, & Finer Foods. Jessica reads my blog as regularly as her driving work schedule allows, and had spread the word about the Scamp around her workplace, so Warren now reads my blog. Friends are the very best publicity, I promise!

Jessica explained to me that Warren spent a couple of years studying in Italy, and thus has been exposed to good wine. As the father of two young children, however, he does not have the budget to spend much on wine, and the opportunity to spend $100 guilt-free dollars on himself is quite unusual and luxurious indeed. His desire was to spend it wisely, and so Jessica contacted me for advice.

IDK wine

IDK Wine: Bubbly

testifyAll y’all motherfuckers need to listen up, because I am here to testify!

Bubbles are the shit. If you don’t think you like sparkling wine, you need to sleep around some until someone does you the way you want, because bubbles are the answer! Bubbles will eat your lunch, tell you how good it was, and you will never be hungry again. Bubbles will make the roads safe for cyclists. The revolution will not be televised, but it will have bubbles in it. Bubbles will make your life look like it does in the magazines. Bubbles will make you weightless and bullet-proof. Bubbles will make your teeth tango like there’s Dancing With the Stars in your mouth and everyone’s invited. Whatever’s wrong with your life, there’s a bubble to fix that. Whatever’s right, there’s a bubble to celebrate it. Drink your bubbles! Drink them, I say!

If your paltry excuse as to why you don’t drink Champagne and other sparkling wines is that you don’t know anything about them, here’s another installment of IDK (I Don’t Know) Wine to the rescue. Cowboy up, people, because it’s December and the bubbles are coming for YOU!

events reviews

BubbleFest Report: 17 Sparkling Wines

Unpreposessing from the outsideI had a fabulous time at Vino Vino’s BubbleFest last Saturday: a total of 28 wines were poured and I tasted 17 of them. Despite the crowd, everyone was civil, and I was jazzed to see so many people there to try those beautiful bubbles. I was also pleased to see so many people buying wine on their way out the door. The wine tasting was free, and it’s only right to buy a bottle to say thank you. I picked up a lovely little Bourgueil, and I can’t wait to try it.

The dispensers of the bubbly knew a lot about their wines (for a change; it seems like lately stores just take the lady away from her electric skillet at Costco and slide her behind a wine table) and it was obvious they were having a great time giving it away.

Periwinkle and unidentified though amiable tasterVino Vino is a great place to get your bubbles on, and any other wine you might desire. It’s a great place to try something you’ve never heard of — their selection is eclectic and unusual. Wine geeks browsing the shelves will have lots of “Oh! Interesting!” moments. Not sure it’s the best place for a newbie to buy, but then again their staff is very knowledgeable and not in the least snobby. Price points for wine kind of start at 15; there are lots of $20 wines to choose from and prices continue up to about $80, from what I saw. They offer a 15% discount on any 6 bottles of still wine you buy, and 10% off any 6 bottles of bubbly. Beat that!

Here are the tasting notes I made, in order of the wines I tasted. If you find long lists of tasting notes for wines you’ve never heard of really boring, scroll all the way down to see the crazy picture I took on my way home.

food & wine pairing grapes reviews Wine Blogging Wednesday wineries

Wine Blogging Wednesday #40: Petite Sirah

Peirano Estate Petite SirahLovely Wine Blogging Wednesday, you are everything I ever wanted homework to be: only slightly challenging, involving some field research and ultimately delicious. Why did I pick The Bell Jar for my senior research paper, and not Petite Sirah? Thanks to host Sonadora at Wannabe Wino for a great idea for this month’s tasting, and to Lenn Thompson at Lenndevours for inventing this virtual tasting that brings the wine blogosphere together every month.

I found this Peirano Estate Vineyards “Heritage Collection” Petite Sirah 2005 at Grapevine Market, where it was one of a 6 bottle discounted case I bought, so I got it for $12.59. Tasted with carnitas on brown rice with sides of acorn squash mashed with gorgonzola and cornbread baked in a poblano cup.

Inky maroon in color. On the nose, mint is very strong, but not as strong as the waves of blueberry jam pouring off of it. There’s some coffee there at the end too, but really this is all about the minty blueberry madness. The palate presents juicy, sweet blackberry fruit, roundly passive tannins and a dark chocolate finish of medium length. This is a fairly rich wine, not flabby but certainly chubby.

world of wine

not to be drinking so much, thank you

Contrary to what it may seem, I don’t drink much. Honestly, I am a serious lightweight; the champagne over-indulgence story from a few days ago is a relic of a different age; these days, I’m flushed and giggly after my second glass of table wine. One martini, floor — that’s me.

But the wine, I love it! And variety, I am loving it more (almost)! What for to do with the need for many wines and the lack of drinkage that I practice?

events regions restaurants reviews

WineBat Tales: The Rhone

French Wine mapLast Monday was the WineBat Rhone tasting at Green Pastures. Six wines were presented for blind tasting, accompanied by some light apps, which were delish. Check the compiled results of the tasting here.

Food included charred beef with truffle oil and manchego, bacon-wrapped cherry-stuffed quail breast, blackened oyster with chimichurri, and dates stuffed with boursin — the latter of which was a huge hit at my table! There was a nice big crowd for this tasting, as you can see.

CrowdDamon told us ahead of time that we would have one Rhone-inspired new world wine in the mix of six, so I was on the look-out for that one, but I confess I didn’t peg it. Here is a list of the wines we tasted, from my most favorite to my least. The first three, to be fair, were pretty-much tied for first place with me:

Tasting TableE. Guigal Hermitage 1999, $70-110: 100% Syrah. Plummy, with a huge stank on it. Funky delicious barnyard aromas of manure and wet hay, with raspberry fruit and a whiff of bermagot. This is a monster nose, very heady and interesting to sniff. On the palate, black pepper, raspberry preserves and violets. Scratchy tannins, but a very stylish wine. I represented Guigal when I worked for a distributor, but I’ve never had a chance to taste their Hermitage. This was a knock-out, a beautiful example of the way the French can make a Syrah that has just as much power as an Australian Shiraz, but frequently much more fascination.

events wine bars

Bubble Fest at Vino Vino: Be There!

Girl on a CorkSo the guys at Vino Vino (4119 Guadalupe Street, Austin, TX 78751) are, for some reason I do not understand and yet heartily applaud, free pouring sparkling wine tomorrow, from 1pm until every bottle in the place runs dry (or 5pm, whichever comes first). 

And when I say free pouring, I mean FREE.  No money, unlimited bubbly.  Seriously.

They’re also pouring off all their sweet wines.  I hope this does not mean that they’re giving up on their Exceptionally Progressive Sparkling Wine Program and trying to ditch all their inventory in one fell swoop, because that would make me sad. 

I was over there the other night and enjoyed a gorgeous pink sparkler, the Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose if I remember correctly, for only $20.  (Sorry, no tasting notes, but the perlage was positively minute and the wine was delicious.)  Service was a delight and the prosciutto sandwich was lip-smacking. 

Vino Vino’s wine selection is wonderful and whimsical, and they offer 15% off of any six bottles of still wine you buy and 10% off any six of sparkling.  Because their markup on sparkling wine is so low.  Because they really want you, their valued customer, to discover the wide, wonderful world of bubbly.

I’ll be drinking stars tomorrow.  Will you? 

reviews wine bars

Four Calling Birds, Three Pinots Noir…

ErathI tasted these three wines in a flight at Cru on Second Street, simply ages ago. I enjoyed my visit; Cru has a respectable wine flight program and an interesting menu, including cheese flights. The ambiance is a little more restaurant than bar, and I get why people call it Dallas-influenced because its ambiance is more formal than most Austin wine bars I’ve visited.

Erath 2006 Oregon Pinot Noir, $19 retail: Light garnet, almost cranberry juice in color. On the nose, strawberry and cranberry cocktail, with some black tea with bergamot. Very Oregonian to me: light and elegant without all the dirt. The tea aroma is quite pronounced.

Palate is a good, tart cranberry with some mushroom in the mid-palate; the finish has some earth on it which gives it some weight. Not spicy, but not harsh and not a fruit bomb. Slightly silky; like a duet of cranberry and earth.

Dick Erath is like the inventor of Oregon wine, practically. He founded his winery (now owned by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates) in the Dundee Hills in 1967. Thirty-four vintages later, he’s still growing grapes and blowing minds. This wine was closed with a screw-cap, which I applaud.