Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Tour riders are great. The demands that touring bands have for their venues can be from the ridiculous to the sublime. Krall provides a list of some seventy-some odd wines deemed "acceptable" for her dressing room spread. Pretentious wine snob?
Heck no! She's practically a Vine reader. (Who knows...maybe she is...) A quick glance down the page reveals about half of the wines listed fall squarely in our acceptable range. Sure, there are some $40+ critters on there, but heck -- I've reviewed a bunch of them.
And I'm happy to work my way down the list and provide her with copious tasting notes if she can hook me up for drinks with her hubby, Declan McManus.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Headfirst into the Wine Lake
French wine can be confusing.
As I've noted, French wines are usually tagged with the name of the region from which the wine hails. From there we can often get the specific city, the estate, the quality of the vines, and even the specific vineyard from which the grapes were harvested. From "Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée" to "Vin Délimités de Qualité Supérieure," French wine labels are a cascade of vocabulary. There's usually one thing missing:
The frickin' grape the wine's made from.
Unless you've done your homework, you likely wouldn't know that the
The French cling strongly to their winemaking tradition. Historically, they take as much pride in viniculture as in philosophy, art, or Fabian Barthez. Time changes all things.
French per capita wine drinking has dropped steadily for the last 40 years. In the 1990's alone, consumption dropped by almost 20 percent. During the same period, other countries markedly improved their own winemaking techniques, reducing demand for French wine worldwide. The "Freedom Fries" nonsense in the
The French government attempted to drain the lake by sponsoring vine pulls (as in
The French stood fast for a long time to their tradition, but they saw the effectiveness of
Les Jamelles 2005 Sauvignon Blanc -- Before the first shoots of The Vine caught sunlight, Les Jamelles was one of the first inexpensive French wines I discovered. It's been a solid, consistent choice ever since. This very drinkable Sauvignon Blanc has floral notes and peaches on the nose. The flavor is very light without too much initial acidity. The flavor is nice, round and peachy with some more citrusy flavor on the end. The crisp finish makes it perfect for the pool or any light meat or fish dish. $9-10.
Red Bicyclette 2005 Pinot Noir -- This pinot surprised me. We opened a bottle of this (among others) one night for the heck of it on our back patio with some friends of ours, and the bottle might have lasted fifteen minutes. Of course, that might have had to do with the company as much as the wine, but I digress. In any case, for the price, I certainly didn't expect a pinot this good. The nose is soft with cherries, and the flavor is very silky. Lots of berries and cherries. The finish was "relaxed." I thought it was a great kick-back wine, especially if coupled with some crackers and mild cheese – and, of course, the friends and conversation. Again, $9-10.
Georges Duboeuf 2005 Merlot Reserve -- Good old Duboeuf. Since they've basically cornered the market on inexpensive
By all accounts, the wine lake is still somewhat deep. While the high end French wines remain high end, the inexpensive versions should remain relatively good buys for the immediate future. Give them a swirl and see what you get -- and if you find one worth sharing, please do!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The Thunder Down Under
My initial experience with Australian libations came during my first semester in college. I was a semi-clueless freshman, hanging out with some of my soon-to-be fraternity brothers. One of them handed me something that looked like a can of 10w/30.
"Foster's. Australian for beer." (Any self-respecting Ozzie will clip you for repeating that phrase. Victoria Bitter is Australian for beer.)
I didn't bump into any other Australian beverages until eight or nine years later, when I learned the then-well-kept secret:
Set the Wayback Machine for the late 18th Century. Not long after
The strategy paid off handsomely. In 1990,
Here's some Down Under tipple for you:
Penfolds 2004 Thomas Hyland Shiraz -- Penfolds, arguably the most famous Australian label, has the distinction of making the
Little Penguin 2006 Chardonnay -- The Little Penguin (like Rosemount, Yellow Tail, Four Emus, etc.) is one of the aforementioned "pop tart wines." I find most inexpensive chards pretty bland or, if Californian, oaky as a burnt tree. Little Penguin actually distinguishes itself from the pack. I bought a bottle on a whim. I needed a sluggable white to go with angel hair pasta and shrimp. I was pleasantly surprised. The nose is nothing too out of the ordinary -- typical chardonnay scents of pears and such. However, the first taste was spicy, almost like cloves, dissolving to a nice fruity middle. The finish was surprisingly crisp. It's nothing too complicated -- but for $4-5 a bottle, this wine's a great value. Pastas, seafood, chicken -- any of your typical chardonnay pairings would work.
Villa Maria 2005
Enjoy the fruits of the Southern Hemisphere Remember, in the words of Charles Schultz: “Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in