Category Archives: Wine Blogging Wednesday

Tasting Santo Cristo Garnacha 2008 Wine Blogging Wednesday #71

Here’s how it went, today at 5:50: “Hm, I guess while the kiddo is watching a special treat TV show before dinner, I’ll surf around wine blogs for a sec.

Wait, is it Wednesday?

Wait, isn’t there a WBW coming up?

Wait, is today the effing 16th?

GD it, I was going to drink that crisp white in the fridge tonight.

Hell.

Do I even have any Rhone varietals in the closet?

Cotes du Rhone, Morgon, Bourguiel… Oh!  I forgot about this little Garnacha.

Campo de Borja, cool.  $7.50, easy to open for no other reason than blogging.

Plus, that’s all I’ve got that works.

OK, let’s crack it open, snap a photo and get to writing.”

So I poured out a glass and got started 10 minutes before dinnertime.

This is a pretty little wine; purple in the glass, with ruby-red tints, it smells of raspberries and mint. Tart on the palate, with pepper and flavors of unripe blackberry now, as well as a hint of… tar?  Then the tannins come and chase everyone out of the room; the finish is pretty long, with cane berry flavors re-emergent and lingering.  A decent level of complexity for this wine I spent $7.50 on at Austin Wine Merchant, though more of a quaffing wine and less of a food wine, to my mind at least.

I am confident of the latter statement because I happened to make barbecued chicken thighs, anasazi beans and baked sweet potato fries tonight for dinner, which was, I thought, fortuitous.  I like Rhone varieties with barbecue flavors – Syrah especially, of course – but Spanish Garnacha can be so heavily extracted that they can sometimes pull off that sweet fruit/charred notes match.

With the Santo Cristo, though, the barbecue sauce on the chicken really brought out the tarry notes in the wine.  Maybe if there were more acidity in the wine to offset the tomato… but the creamy sweet potatoes and beans didn’t match very well either.  If I knew then what I know now about this wine, I’d put it with a fattier meal, like a grilled sirloin, or maybe just not tricky-dick barbecue sauce.

Garnacha is my ticket in to Wine Cast’s Wine Blogging Wednesday #71 because it is the Spanish version of Grenache, that staple grape of the Southern Rhone.  Grenache/Garnacha is a high-producing vine that is known for its spice, ample berry fruit and high sugars (which translate to high alcohol).  When the Spanish vinify their really old, old vines, however, the resulting Garnacha wine bears only superficial resemblance the French Grenache.

OK, so this is probably my worst WBW post ever.  I did not plan, so I have not had time (had people over this evening after I got the kid to sleep, and it’s late – for me at least – now) to really research the producer or write a cogent breakdown of the region or the grape. I really like the Campo de Borja region for wines that drink way above their price tag, just so you know.  And I am in favor of Rhone varieties wheresoever they are planted.

Drink Garnacha.

Scamp out.

Wine Blogging Wednesday #43: Comfort Wine

800 boxes of kitchen with wineYou’ve probably noticed that The House of Scamp favors a certain Scandinavian home furnishings store. Well, we’re remodeling our kitchen, and guess where the new cabinets are coming from? That’s right, I have 800 boxes of kitchen piled up in my living/dining room, and for the next 2-3 weeks I’ll be assembling, installing, and then playing with tile as well.

So I’m very glad that this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday theme was chosen by Joel at Wine Life Today to be “comfort wine,” because I could really use some right now. Tearing up my kitchen is starting to have a rather profound effect on my psyche; something about chaos affecting the hearth makes my house feel less like a home and more like a take-out dumpster.

But from this destruction will arise a phoenix of a kitchen: a kitchen with more than 36 inches of counter space, with more than 5 cabinets and enough room for all of my appliances! (For the record, “all” equals 7, including the toaster, coffeemaker and blender. OK, I meant for that to seem like Not A Lot, but instead it seems like A Lot. How many appliances do you have?)

La Vieille Ferme Rouge 05And I have my comfort wine to keep me warm in the meantime. It’s not fancy by any means, and I mean that: La Vieille Ferme Rouge is a mere Cotes du Ventoux, a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan. It’s a friendly little table wine from the Perrin family, the makers of the iconic Beaucastel Chateauneuf-de-Pape, and I discovered it when I was in the wine business. As you can see from the label, it’s not much of an eye-catcher on the shelf, and thus it’s a well-kept secret. I’ve been drinking it for years; some vintages it’s a little lighter and sillier, some vintages it’s more intense and rich.

Dark, deep red in the glass. Nose of grape must and raspberry juice, as well as dusty earth and a hint of white pepper. Pretty structured this vintage, with brusque tannins, dark earth, cranberry and blackberry on the palate. Really, this wine would go better with barbecue or kielbasa than the turkey and dressing I frequently pair it with (it’s been a go-to Thanksgiving wine for many years now). Also, it’s less of a quaffing wine this vintage; however, it sells for about $6.99, tastes damn delicious, and really takes the edge off of a slight mis-calculation in kitchen dimensions and the subsequent gnashing of teeth.

Thanks to Lenn at Lenndevours for inventing Wine Blogging Wednesday, the wine blogosphere’s most enduring meme, and to Joel at Wine Life Today, for reminding us that wine can soothe just as much as it can excite.

In which there are evidently no new ideas at this site

Hey, you know who’s been writing haiku wine reviews since 2005? Not me. Nope; it’s none other than Lane Steinberg, at the Red Wine Haiku Review. Thanks to Amy Rootvik for the post that I finally got around to reading after another insanely hectic week.

And for the record, Joe also wrote a lovely haiku for WBW #42.  And then he was told (in haiku format) that he had missed an important aspect of haiku writing, as I did apparently, by missing the reference to a season.  I think perhaps in the writing of winehaiku, perhaps a wine descriptor word (oak, fruit, tar) should replace the kigo?

If there is someone out there writing wine reviews in sestinas, I demand that they step forward immediately.

Addendum to WBW#42: words and wine

Reviewing a wine in 7 words: it was the best of ways, it was the worst of ways.

I know that the idea behind the Wine Blogging Wednesday #42 seven word limit was meant in a whimsical way, but it got me to thinking about the words we use to talk about wine. Of course, this has been a subject on my mind lately, as evidenced by the poll I’ve been running for a week or so about whether or not winespeak makes it difficult to learn about wine.

The results to the polls indicate that while occasional words are confusing (technical words like carbonic maceration and battonage, I’m guessing), on the whole people get what we wineaux mean when we babble on about aromas and flavors. Or at least, 8 of the 13 voters said so.

I can’t blame them; some of the more technical words having to do with wine are not things that you’d natrually just pick up on the side of the etymological road.  And you won’t get a chance to use them very often, unless you have lots of wine geek friends or you work in the business.

So that’s been kicking around in my head, along with all the other maundering thoughts of recession, elections, new jobs and the old What I Should Be Doing Right Now.  And then Andrew Barrow of the British wine blog Spittoon (love that tag line) proposed that we review a wine in only seven words, I thought “Boy, that’s going to be tough.”   My reviews tend to run about 200-500 words, and the tasting notes alone run 30-80, depending on the wine.  How to truly sum up a wine for my readers in a mere seven?

Poetry to the rescue!  Mr. Rogers got me writing poetry since before I could write (I dictated to my mother); I don’t write many poems these day, but if you want to communicate a lot of sensation in few words, a poem is your magic bullet.  So I figured I’d take those shockingly few seven words and make them a haiku.  It was tough, but I was happy with the results.

So now I’m thinking… why not other poetic forms? Why not a sonnet about a wine you love dearly? A villanelle about a wine you drink often? Drinking a wine that’s so complex it seems almost impossible, try a sestina! For a rustic vin de table, a limerick?   If poetry communicates the ineffable, then it seems made for wine, as anyone talking about wine is describing a completely subjective, sensual experience.  Poetry and wine!  Game, set, match.

Wine Blogging Wednesday Logo Contest

One of the aspects of my new job as Empress of Marketing for this general contractor that I find the most pause-giving is that of the layout and design. Other than my experience on my high school newspaper, I don’t have much of a background in layout, but I feel I can muddle through there. Design, however, in its visual art component, is something that I struggle with in concept and practice. I couldn’t draw my way out of a paper bag (which would be awkward if I ever randomly morphed into that “You Know My Name Is Simon And The Things I Draw Come True” guy), and when I see some of the stuff designers come up with, I am mystified as to how they even thought that shit up.

So I might fiddle around with some ideas for the Wine Blogging Wednesday Logo Contest, but I harbor no illusions that I might actually win. I will definitely take to heart the excellent recommendations from Tom Wark as I fiddle. But you — are you good with the graphics? Worldwide fame certainly awaits you if you can create the new WBW logo. Your deadline is March 31, so you’d best get to cogitating!

Wine Blogging Wednesday #41: Friuli Whites

I really didn’t want to get a Pinot Grigio for this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday tasting of Friuli-Venezie Giulia whites, hosted by Fork & Bottle. I know that if they make Pinot Grigio well anywhere in Italy, it’s in Friuli, but still. There are all these other interesting white wines coming from this region, not the least of which is Tocai Friulino. I’d been reading all about them in Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy, the book we’re reading right now in our Wine Book Club. And then, two things happened.

Italo Cescon Pinot Grigio 2006First, I decided that my unreasoning, stubborn resistance to Pinot Grigio, even when I knew it would be well made and really interesting to drink, is unnecessary and stupid. Great wine is great wine, no matter how many people make plonk from the same grape all over the place. Second, I saw this adorable bottle with its cute little twig wrapped up in ribbon and a strong recommendation from the wine buyer at Specs. Cute, almost definitely good, and cheap? Italo Cescon Pinot Grigio Friuli Grave DOC 2006 here we come!

The twig, by the way, called a tralcetto in Italian, is attached to the bottle as a tribute to patriarch Italo’s grandmother Anna, who had a practice of keeping a bit of dead grapevine in her pocket after harvest as a remembrance of the vine’s rebirth in the spring. Or at least, that’s what the back label said.

Anyway, here goes tasting wine with one nostril tied behind my back: Continue reading