The Good, the Bad, and the . . .

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As many of you know, I like to talk a little 🙂  I also like to write a little 🙂 AND I like to take part in discussions about many things, including wine every now and then. I am active on wine bulletin boards and love the interactions that take place, and it gives me plenty of ‘food for fodder’ for blog posts, etc.

There is currently a somewhat heated discussion occurring involving a rather pricey Napa Cab that has been fun to watch – and take part in. This particular cab is produced by a well-established Napa winery that has a reputation for well-made wines, and has had that reputation for quite some time.

In fact, this particular cab was made in honor of their 40th Anniversary as a winery. That’s a long time to be making wines – and keeping the doors open for ANY business. So what’s the ‘issue’ here? Well . . . .

This cab happens to be made in a very ‘new world’ style. It’s rich, unctuous, and speaks little of ‘old world  cabs’ that the winery was known for in the past. Some might find it difficult to even determine what variety the wine is – something I personally have a problem with but others apparently do not. I don’t hold it against the wine or the winery – it’s the way they wanted to make this particular wine. And even though it’s ‘sweet’ to me, others have found it unbelievably drinkable – even at the retail price of nearly $60.

Side story – a very well-known winemaker once poured me a glass of wine and asked what I thought. I told him that it was an interesting wine but couldn’t tell what variety it was. ( It turned out to be a Grenache, my favorite variety, from a very sought after new world trophy winery.). His comment to me, which still rings in my ears years later – ‘when a wine is perfect, it transcends the variety.’ Yeah, right – BS!!!

So who has the ‘right’ to say whether this is a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ wine? Who has the right to tell you, me, or anyone else that they are ‘crazy’ or ‘wrong’ for enjoying a wine such as this one?

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this . . .

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Reflections on the Wine Blogger’s Conference – #1 . . . . In the Beginning . . .

The-Beginning

2014 marked the first time I’ve experienced the Wine Blogger’s Conference. I went into the week somewhat trepidatiously, truly not knowing what to expect.

Yep, I do ‘blog’, but not at the level that most ‘wine bloggers’ that I know do. I’m not as consistent or focused as they are, and I was truly and honestly hoping to learn a bit more about myself and a lot more about many of the bloggers and what makes them tick.

I had the pleasure of hosting a few key players in my tasting room before the festivities began, and I immediately felt a whole lot more comfortable and confident about who I am and my ‘point of view’.  This, to me, is as important if not more so than anything else when blogging and creating an image of who you are and want to be perceived as.

I learned that I could convey on paper what I try to do in person – to educate people about wine in a different and entertaining way. I like to look at the industry through a consumer’s point of view, even though I am a winemaker, and constantly ask the question ‘why’. Why is it that people feel the way they do about screw caps? Why is it that many think they know what a ‘corked’ wine is but that their use of the term is different than mine?

I therefore owe this ‘posse’ my gratitude for ‘setting me straight’ and helping me set the table for four of the most fun-filled and confidence-building days I’ve had in my 10 years in the industry.

A lot more to follow . . .

Cheers!

A Lucky Hour . . .

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As some of you may know, I am wearing multiple hats next week when the wine blogosphere descends upon my backyard, the Santa Ynez Valley, for the annual Wine Blogger’s Conference!

First and foremost, I am attending this event for the first time as a blogger for this blog, wineverbiage. I hope to be able to rub elbows with some of the best in the biz, as well as many newbies like me ta boot, to learn ways to make what I say and how I say it more interesting for you, my readerdom.

I am also attending as tercero wines, a small label that produces wines using grapes from leading Santa Barbara County wineries. I’m excited to share not only my wines but my stories and my passion for what I do with those in attendance.

Since that’s not enough, I’ll also be moderating a panel featuring four winemakers who truly are considered ‘living legends’ not only in our parts, but nationally – Richard Sanford, Ken Brown, Rick Longoria and Bob Lindquist. I’ll be a bit of a fanboy here and say that it’ll be a true honor to share a stage with these four.

Yesterday, I got together with Rick and Ken to discuss the panel and what we hoped to accomplish. This, my friends, was my lucky hour for the day! First off, let me come clean – I was about 45 minutes late for the meeting – no Bueno whatsoever . . . but in true winemaker fashion, I entered a room to the two of them laughing and drinking beer. I’m not even sure they noticed I was late!!!

Though I’ve spent some time with these two over the decade I’ve lived in the area, I’ve never heard some of the ‘back label’ stories of these two – and of the other two who will be part of the panel and who were not present – Richard Sanford and Bob Lindquist.

I learned about the Nielsen Vineyard, the first planted in the County post prohibition, and how Mr. Nielsen, a UC Davis grad, had been convinced by those at Davis that quality grapes could not be grown there. What did he do? Approached folks at Fresno State, who told him otherwise – and the rest is history.

We discussed AVA’s old and new, discussed life lessons, grapes, wine, people . . . what an hour.

Why do I bring this up? As a blogger, I feel like I am a storyteller as well. Sometimes I’m more like a joke writer – one liners here and there. But more often than not, I try to be a short story teller – and I enjoy the challenge.

These gentlemen have stories to tell – and then some. They tell their stories each vintage through their wines, but their ‘collective’ stories should not be missed. If you have a chance, reach out to any of them – your time will be very well spent indeed . . .

Cheers!

Does It Matter How A Wine is Made or Just Whether You Like It Or Not?

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As many of you know, I love to partake in other blogs and wine bulletin boards, for these discussions are always ‘fruitful fodder’ for my own blog here. And believe, not a day goes by where another topic comes up that I feel is perfect to ‘verbiage’ about it!

There is constant chatter about being ‘non-interventionist’ when it comes to making wine, ie. taking as few steps as possible in going from grape to bottle. I think all of us can agree that, in theory, this is a desired path, and not only with grapes to wine, but with farm to table, etc.

The reality is that winemakers are interventionists, each and every one of us. By mearly making the decision WHEN to pick a grape, we have intervened. By choosing specific rootstocks to put into the grand, we are intervening. By choosing to age our wines in stainless steel or oak or cement, we are intervening. And on and on and on.

But there are many other steps taken by some, but not all, winemakers to go from grape to bottle, and this is where it gets a bit ‘sticky’. One discussion veered off toward the topic of MegaPurple, a product that was created to give red wine more color and to add a touch of sweetness.

The product itself is created from wine grapes, so it is a legal additive and is approved for use in wine. That said, it is associated with mass production, ‘industrial’ wines that lack color and depth and therefore NEED this product in order to make them palatable and, more importantly, visibly ‘appealing’.

Therefore, should a winemaker admit to using this, they would be ‘banned’ from many a discussion about ‘better’ wines because, you know, it just shouldn’t ‘happen’. These ‘smaller production, higher value’ wines obviously don’t NEED this product because, you know, they are ‘better made’ and more ‘artisinal’.

Guess what – this product, along with others that wine connoisseurs would find ‘unmentionable’, are used by smaller producers from time to time. And what about ‘oak chips’, created so that wines could age in stainless steel but still have that ‘oak flavor and aroma’ that consumers just dig? Again, this product is associated with lower priced industrial wines, but I know of a few producers who have used this, and continue to say in their marketing that their wines are ‘aged in French oak’. They just conveniently forget to add the word ‘chips’ J

Which brings me back to the original question – do you care how a wine is made if you like it? Or in other words, do the winemaker’s means justify the winemaker’s end? Do you truly care if MegaPurple is added if you like the finished product? And just as importantly, how would you feel if that winemaker didn’t disclose this?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this today . . .

Cheers!

Would You Like an Ice Cube with That Glass of Red Wine?

red wine with ice cube

I’m just curious what your first reaction is when you hear that first line? Is it ‘outrage’, as in ‘I can’t believe anyone would even THINK of asking that question!’? Is it ‘disgust’ as in ‘I can’ think of anyone ACCEPTING an ice cube with their red wine!’? Is it ‘sympathy’ as in ‘I feel SORRY for that person who would put an ice cube in their red wine.’ Or is it something else?

I was talking with a good friend of mine the other day, and he said that he always thought that putting ice in a red wine was ‘blasphemous’ – until he was in Florida and every glass of red wine he had was served too warm! Guess what he did – yep, added a little ice to it to cool it down . . .

I continue to be amazed out how dated some of the’conventional wisdoms’ are in the wine business – the generally accepted ‘dos’ and don’ts’ that seem to guide so many people. Now, I know many of you are thinking – but that’s not me, I’m really open minded about all things wine.

Really? Let me hear it for white zin!!! Yep, I know many of you are laughing right now – it’s just a knee jerk reaction that is prevalent in the wine biz – both at the producer level AND definitely with consumers. Well, did you know that white zin continues to be one of the most popular wines out there? And no, it’s not just because ‘many wine consumers are uninformed’ . . . a lot of people, wait for it, actually LIKE white zin. You may not, and that’s cool – but it is not cool to look down upon or not accept those who do like it.

There are so many of these conventional wisdoms that I feel need to be ‘re-evaluated’ these days and either discarded or updated. What about the ‘only have white wine with fish’ idea? Can this ‘rule’ be broken?!?!? Heck yeah – I am many of my friends do it all of the time! What about ‘only reds with red meat’? Well, how about a nice glass of white burgundy or perhaps a roussanne – yep, these can and do certainly go with red meats.

What are some of your favorite ‘rules’ in the wine business that you feel need to be ‘broken’ or re-evaluated? Here’s another one to start the discussion – screw caps are only meant for ‘cheaper’ wines or only those wines meant for ‘consumption now’!

Cheers!