Friday, May 11, 2007

Wine of The Week: May 11th, 2007

Well, it's been a bit of time since I last updated this and quite a lot has been going on, especially of a wine-related category. More on that in another post, though....

Your wine this week is the fantabulous Falasco Valpolicella Ripasso (the one I had was a 2004). Valpolicella is traditionally made with corvina, rondinella and molinara grapes (although this specific one is made without molinara). Ripasso is a Veronese term which means "go over again," and this is what is done with this wine.

Ripasso is an Italian process used in Valpolicella to give more richness to the Valpolicella. It also assumes that the grower also makes Amarone.

Amarone is made with dehydrated grapes which have lost 30% or 40% of their juice by drying the grapes in open air (today this is done in modern, computer-controlled conditions; it used to be done in drying houses, which were basically giant barns). The wine is then pressed and that viscous liquid is put in barriques to age from 1 year to 18 months; with time, the lees drop to the bottom and the wine is clear. After bottling, the lees of the Amarone are kept in the cask which is then filled with Valpolicella. The new wine—which is now called a ripasso—stays for about 3 months and the lees are still able to transfer aromatic elements to the new wine which becomes rounder and richer.

So, you get some of the qualities of an Amarone without the steep price! And let me tell you, this wine is a beauty... Plums, cherries, hints of anise. Just delicious! It's got smooth tannins and nice acidity, so you can drink it by itself (which is how I had it) It's a medium-bodied wine, which allows it to be matched with a wide range of foods: pasta with tomato-based sauces, meats, roasted fowl, etc. This wine is very drinkable right now, but you could also lay some down for the next 3-5 years (if you can hold out with it that long!), so it's also a good investment.

The best part? It's $15.00! Considering the price of some West Coast U.S. wines, this is an excellent value. so, go grab some today!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

New Pics

Here's some pics (post-storm) for ya...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Too Many Links

I've just been thinking about anonymity online, and not from the angle you might think (if you knew I did information security for a living)...
It all started cuz I was thinking about putting some pictures I've taken up here in this blog. Now, I'm not knocking blogger at all, but their layouts for pictures is, um, very limited, so I was thinking of linking to something like flickr to lay out the photos, if that was possible (embedding, anyone?). But then, I was thinking that I'm very anonymous at the moment on a picture service (or seven)... And that said anonymity is kinda cool (as is this blog's anonymity, but more on that in a minute). And by linking too much stuff together, you can suffer that fate that all superheroes want desperately to avoid: divulging their secret identity. If the watchword of this movie was "too many secrets," then mine is "too many links."

But there's a lack of anonymity, too. There are probably as many people I know reading this blog as there are people I don't know reading this blog. And that's cool. It's a way for people I don't get to see or hear from much to see what kind of wackiness is up in my life. They can leave comments if they like, but it's not required. There are people you can get to know, as well as letting people get to know you (albeit in a strange, voyeuristic fashion :).

OK, that made little sense, I suppose, but I tried....

Friday, March 02, 2007

Wine of The Week: March 2nd, 2007

I've been getting into a LOT of pinot lately; ever since I've been studying the Burgundy region for wine class. There's all kinds of good pinots out there—including some fine, light ones from the Vin De Pays region of France—but the one I've come to really, really like lately is The Four Graces Pinot Noir, pictured over there on the left.

Supple, tasty and more full-bodied than most pinots, this Willamette Valley gem is expensive, coming in at $28.00 a bottle retail, but well worth it.

I tasted the 2004, which has really nice, balanced red fruit flavors. And I mean really well balanced. There's raspberry, strawberry and cherry in here, but with none of that overpowering, artificially-flavored kind of element. And no sour notes, either, which I have lately been tasting in anything with red cherry in it (I think my palette is changing, but who knows? In any event, I shy away from much that people describe as cherry flavors these days, just because I want to avoid that sour cherry tang). There's also a slight vanilla oak flavor. Smooth, balanced and again, supple. Almost velvet-like, and in a good way.

And this wine is a whopper too: 14.5% abv. Not that you can really feel it... well, not until it's too late, anyway. :) The bottle gets emptied deceptively quickly, whether you are drinking it yourself (as I did the 1st time I had it), or with other folks (as I did the 2nd time I had it ;). And there's no feeling of "oh, I shouldn't have had that much of it;" on the contrary, you wish you had more of it (and more of it, and more of it, and more of it...).

The Four Graces website has quite a lot of information for those interested, including full notes on fermentation and maturation of each of their offerings, which I find not only educational—I'm always interested in how a wine I like turned out the way it did—but really detailed.

That's my pick this week. Not cheap, but quality, crafted wines like this hardly ever are. So, if you enjoy a quality wine and have the money, I'd say you won't be sorry, nor feel your money wasted on this one. Enjoy!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Wine of The Week - February 19th, 2007

OK, I'll make this quick, cuz you really should run out and buy about as much of this stuff as you possibly can. This stuff isn't a port, really, as it's made in Australia (port can only be called by that name if it is produced around the city of Oporto, Portugal). It's a classic tawny, for sure. Aged eight years, this thing is complex, layered and friggin' DELICIOUS. It's also inexpensive as hell: $15.00 (even less if you buy it online).

My friend Richie summed this one up pretty perfectly: it's like a glass of flan. Creamy, seemingly viscous, with caramel and creme brulee flavors throughout. Delicious. I've found myself sitting down in the living room on a number of occasions with the bottle on the table, pouring out small glass after small glass, almost unconsciously (and no, I'm not an alcoholic; this stuff is so good, you just find yourself having more of it, without really noticing).

But here's the biggest indicator for me: I opened a bottle a few weeks ago for some friends who were over for dinner (there were six of us total) and the bottle was gone by the time everyone had left for the night. And every one of them kept asking me about the stuff: where to get it, how much it cost, could I get them a bottle, etc. And quite a few of them have gone out and picked up a bottle or two for themselves.

So, go out, find it and try some. Even if you think it sounds too sweet for you, it's really not. It's very balanced in terms of its flavors, alcohol and sweetness. Don't get me wrong; it's a port, it's just not the kind you've ever really had before.

My Moment of Doubt

You know it when it happens to you: that moment, however fleeting, where you ask yourself, "what the fuck am I doing here, really?" Or, "do I really wanna be doing this?"

It happened to me a few weeks ago, while I was sitting in wine class doing a series of blind tastings. Out of 6 wines, I had correctly identified one: a fino sherry. It wasn't hard: straw-colored, oxidized smell—if you've ever had/smelled sherry, you know the smell: nutty, "off" smelling wine—and that was all I got. So depressing.

Here I was, I thought, having decided that some aspect of wine was going to be in my future, and my palette was limited (and seemingly off), my eye for wine was seemingly faulty (I have come to find out since then that I'm slightly color-blind (pink-green, to be precise)), so things on that end are a bit better) and I was just sitting in this room, filled with people from all over the wine spectrum—distributors, bar managers (from, like Per Se at the Time-Warner Center!), etc., etc.—and I've been doing wine work seriously for about seven months. Who was I kidding?

I've stayed in the class, although there was a point where I thought I might drop out and/or take it later, and after a night like last night, I'm happy that I've stuck with it. I was en fuego last night with regard to getting people wines they liked/wanted. Of course, being the people person that I am (what Aquarian isn't? :) helps, but apparently the overwhelming amount of information I must learn and keep around for instantaneous recall is actually sinking in, as I was waltzing through the French section last night pulling wines for folks. I really, really enjoy dealing with people and helping them find wines that are to their taste.

So, my enthusiasm & energy for wine are back and I'm seriously thinking about doing my Masters of Wine. IF I pass my exam at the end of April, that is! :)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

40... WTF?

Man, I gotta be honest: 40 has been fucking with me. For the most part it's been something I felt but couldn't quite put my finger on. But then, suddenly, it came to me (Ha! Take that, Alzheimer's!): I feel like the kid on Halloween who's been called out by people as too old to be trick-or-treating. I'm like, "whaddaya mean?" How am I old? Why does that thought occur to me? Why do I care?

Ah, sweet mystery of life, at last I've found you... Now, how the hell do I get rid of you?

Luckily, I have a new job and my wine career to keep me occupied...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Aquarius. 40. Oh m'gawd, shoes

This is gonna be a quick one, as it's my birthday and I'm about to out and about, oh, probably all night. Hide the breakables, cuz I'm 40! That's right! Saaaaaay what?

In any event, I'm happy and proud to represent my fellow Aquarians and kick off the birthday month. Rock on, my astrological brethren!

If you haven't seen it yet, you must click this link. Hysterical!

Aight, I'm out!