Monthly Archives: January 2008

Tasting Vina Antigua Sangiovese-Bonarda 2006

For me, January is a month of financial abstinence; whether I spent too much on Xmas gifts, or I have newly resolved to be fiscally prudent, I tend to cut way back in January. This does not mean that I stop drinking good wine! Well, it didn’t until I moved to Austin and developed a dreadful allergy to cedar pollen.

But in the one day in a fortnight that I am in possession of two working nostrils, I am still able to open a bottle of wine without breaking open my piggy bank. In the spirit of January and the economic asceticism you, too, may be practicing, this month I’ll be reviewing about 6 wines that I bought at Specs for less than $7 each. They’ll have to come in spurts, depending on pollen levels. It’s supposed to rain this week, and I have high hopes! Continue reading

Flora Springs goes solar

What does this do to the carbon footprint of a wine? 

According to a story in Wines & Vines this Tuesday, Flora Springs, the Napa Valley winery owned by the Garvey and Komes families, has installed enough solar panels on a hillside behind their winery to power all of their yearly red wine production. How many solar panels does it take to power a year’s worth of red wine from Flora Springs?  435 SunTech panels at 170w each, that’s how many!  That covers over 6,000 square feet; they installed the panels on an elevated platform to allow for shady storage below.  Isn’t that clever, now?

Flora Springs takes its sustainability pretty seriously.  They’re in the process of getting all of their vineyards certified as organic, which takes 3 years in California.  About 70% of the vineyards will be certified organic by 2009.  No word if they’re planning to convert the white wine production to solar too, but kudos to Flora Springs!  They make great wine, and now there’s a great excuse to drink more of it.

Wine-DUR-com

Well, someone at wine.com should be fired by now.  Alder at Vinography broke the story (which was originally published in the Wine Market Report – 8k download here) to the blogosphere a couple of days ago.  Get this:  wine.com organized a sting operation in Washington state, in which wine.com – or stooges thereof – ordered wines from 29 different online wine retailers that could not legally ship to Washington, and then they turned the names of the law-breaking retailers in to state authorities.

Ironically enough, Washington prosecutors have no jurisdiction over out-of-state retailers who ship to Washington despite stupid protectionist wine laws that prohibit such activity.  The only people who could be in legal trouble from Washington state authorities would be people who actually ordered the wine, breaking the law while actually in Washington state!  Wut?

No company with this much of a rat-like approach to business, coupled with a severe lack of cognitive processing ability, should be allowed to have a link on this site.  Wine Scamp is no place for snitches, nor for tattle-tales.  So I’ve taken their ad off the site, and I hope you’ll join me in a boycott of wine.com for here on out.  Mostly for being morons, and then also for being wine law vigilantes.  Oops, I repeated myself.

I must join Tom Wark in directing your attention to the supreme response to wine.com’s perfidy, that of Emily and Stephan at Winemonger.com — it’s both brilliant and hilarious — located near the end of the comments to the post on Vinography.

Raking it in

OK, I know December 25th passed a long time ago, but I can’t resist showing off all the awesome-great stuff that Santa (via my family) brought me!

Mr. Bento & Tuesday’s LunchBouteille Call & Brix My sister April and her husband gave me a Mr. Bento (which I adore and have taken to work with me every day this year because that’s exactly how geeky I am, thank you) , as well as a bottle of Bonny Doon Bouteille Call (a raspberry-influenced port) and a package of Brix chocolate. April and Jason didn’t know it, but I have a special place in my heart for Bouteille Call; I love the name and package with ridiculous intensity, so much so that I convinced my wine director at Premier to buy 5 cases of it, and then could never sell it despite my love for the wine. I don’t care, though. It’s the bomb, and they discontinued it, making my little bottle that much more precious.

Food History, Wine BibleWine Temp CorkscrewFrom Mary, an exciting book that was not on my radar: Food: The History of Taste. This book looks fascinating, and I’ve really enjoyed the introduction. Did you know that the cardinal sin of gluttony included such sub-set sins as enjoying your food too much, eating food too daintily, and eating outside of the proper mealtimes? (I can’t help it; I think that’s fascinating.)

From my sister Adrienne, a corkscrew thermometer and the The Wine Bible. I’ll now be able to geek out with impunity about wine temperature! And I’ve wanted a copy of the Wine Bible for a long time — you can never have too many reference books, can you? Karen MacNeil is the wine director for the Culinary Institute of America, so I’m figuring she’s got a bent toward wine education – always a plus in a wine book author.

Tablas Creek Vermentino

From my darling husband, I received a wine club membership to Tablas Creek Vineyard’s VINsider, and my first shipment came in before Xmas, and included two bottles of 05 Esprit de Beaucastel Rouge, and one bottle each of 05 Syrah, 06 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, 06 Vermentino and 05 Grenache Blanc. All have been very flatteringly reviewed by Stephen Tanzer. I’ve buried 5 bottles in my cellar, but here’s a picture of the Vermentino, which I did open this weekend even though my nose did not bring its A-game; review forthcoming.

Thanks everyone for the fantastic, thoughtful gifts! (In case you think Dad was slacking, his gift came in an envelope and was Ridiculously Generous; I am very grateful.) The best part of the holidays, though, was to spend so much time with family, goofing around, eating, drinking and playing.  These times come too seldom, and I relish them.

Tasting Veritas Monticello Cabernet Franc 2005

Veritas 05 Cabernet FrancWhile in Portland, my husband and I stayed with my father and his partner Mary (and Nikki the dog), in Mary’s gorgeous craftsman bungalow. They’re both wine lovers and keep a respectable-sized cellar in their basement, wherein lie many gently aging bottle of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

On this trip, we drank a lot more beer than wine, my husband having brought 4 liters of his latest homebrew, a double chocolate stout, for all to enjoy. Also, Portland has so many truly great small microbreweries that when I visit, I try to take advantage of being able to walk down the block and fill up the growler. (sighs) I fear Austin will never develop the beer culture Portland enjoys.

In any case, rather than opening any Oregon Pinot Noir this year, Mary pulled out a bottle she had been given as a gift: a wine from Virginia. I’ve never tried a Virginian wine, and in a kind of queer Xmas cultural mash-up, “Yes, Virginia” was all I could say! Continue reading

Sneezy & Dopey

AchooWell, it’s happened: I am now officially an Austinite. (tho I’ve always been partial to Austinian, myself, or Austinera, for East-siders) What signals my belated welcoming into the fold by the Live Music Capitol of the World? Cedar fever, that’s what.

Austin is a terrible place to move if you are allergic to just about anything, but we consistently log the world’s highest concentrations of Mountain Cedar pollen in the winter months. January is the peak of the season, and for some reason you only really develop an allergy to cedar pollen after living here a couple of years. This is my third winter in Austin, in case you’re wondering. For those who care (and if you do, you’re probably sneezing right now), the tree at fault is not actually a cedar, but rather a juniper tree, and it’s the male tree that explodes all that evil pollen into the winds to torture us.

Symptoms include long, violent sneezing jags, itchy-red-watery eyes, and either a runny nose or a stuffy one. Sometimes they alternate. Sometimes a cough develops. For some reason, many sufferers report feeling exhausted and somnolent, which makes no sense to me but is true. Our pollen count is at about 3000 grains per cubic meter right now, and it’s going to be worse mid-week. I am experiencing all of these symptoms right now, and trees are dumb.

Anyhow, so my wine tasting abilities are going to be a bit sketchy for the next couple of weeks. Unless I cave and go to the allergist for some drugs or injections or something. I’d rather not, as Claritin makes me act like I’m on meth, but it may be that or give up wine until Valentine’s Day. And then what will we talk about?

I love to read

The Reader… and we’re back. Happy New Year to all!

The best news I’ve heard so far this year is that Dr. Debs at Good Wine Under $20 is founding a Wine Book Club. Similar to Wine Blogging Wednesday, this club will have rotating hosts and all of you, regardless of whether you have blog or not, can participate. Even you guys all the way in the back, there. It’s true!

What’s that? You’re a slow reader? Pish-posh. The Wine Book Club meets every other month, so that you can read with all the slowness you wish to cram in to 60 days. Not interested in joining any club that would have you as a member? You can check out the other joiners by looking at the Facebook group, or on a nifty site I didn’t know about before called Shelfari.

The first title, which will be discussed on Tuesday, February 26, is Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy, by Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch. Read a description of the book and get more details about how to participate over at the first site to host the club, and one of my favorite wine blogs, McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail.

One of the things I love about the book club that I’ve been a member of for two years now is that it frequently takes me out of my reading comfort zone. I get very comfortable in my reading ruts, too, so it’s good for me. The books we read in the PC Book Club (PC= pretentious c**t; Dana will have to tell you that story someday) don’t blow my mind every single time, but I love getting pushed out of my personal cannon, and I really enjoy discussing books with other people. Plus the ladiez in my group are dope, yo.

Here’s my confession, though: I suck ass at reading non-fiction. Big Ass. So a Wine Book Club, though exciting to me from a wine perspective, also provides a healthy challenge to my reading inclinations. Talk about out of the rut – I’m off-roading it here!

That being said, I’ve browsed through Vino Italiano in years past, and found it exceptionally readable for a non-fictional book on regional wine. It’s full of information about food (cookbooks being one of the few non-fictional genres I can peruse for hours – another is dictionaries, what can you do?) and folklore, as I recall, and I’m looking forward to reading it in full. You’ll stick with me to the bitter end, right? Good.

Are you one of those people who prefers non-fiction to fiction? Or do you pine for a good story, like me? Share with the group via your comment, even those in the back of the room!