Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

The Way We Were

June 2, 2011
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No rapture last week, but is it a sign of the Apocalypse that I’m posting a pic of Barbra Streisand on the blawg? Nah, I was just reminiscing about the way we were… that is to say, the memories. That’s what we have on Memorial Day, right? And, as I wage war with an unbeatable foe- named “acceptance”- over the rapid deforestation of my scalp, thinking about “the way we were” spurred me to splice in a pic of myself, back in the days of glorious hair. This gambit would furthermore prevent me just posting a straight-up pic of Barbra, which would relegate this wine blog to the equally-overcrowded-and-unpleasant realm of Streisand-fan blogs.

As I was saying: memories. Memorial Day is ideally about paying respect to those who have fought and died for our freedom. However, to more than a few of us, Memorial Day is about eating meats, drinking booze, and recalling the debauchery of Memorial Day weekends past. As the great Jay Thomas said on his SiriusXM radio show, “there’s probably some guy in a trench thinking, ‘I hope those [expletive] back home are enjoying their ribs.'”
As for this past Sunday (spilling into Monday), I do recall several memories of the purely civilian nature… that is to say, gluttonous ones. Alas, this is the way we were, Memorial Day, 2011:

– I can’t wait to make the Lemon Confit from Francis Mallman’s ridiculous cookbook, The Seven Fires. Yes, I made Lemon Confit… mostly. Then I never got around to finishing it. Then I threw it away. Nincompoop!
– Ghee (clarified butter) + Lemon Juice + Chicken Stock + Garlic Powder makes an exceptional injection for chicken. Also a great mouthwash, mixer, gargle, bathing liquid, intravenous injection.
-A bottle of Vinho Verde goes down way too easily on a warm day. Yeah, I was inside at the time, comforted by air conditioning, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a scorcher outside, where I was not… … … work with me here.
– (not gluttony-related) My daughter looks so stinkin’ cute in her bee bathing suit. Cue Blind Melon’s “No Rain”, please.

– When roasting a chicken, Rosé does the trick. You know, to drink while the chicken is roasting. It’s also good with the chicken. As is Oregon Pinot Noir (Bergström delivered the goods this day), and especially White Burgundy (made from Chardonnay). Olivier Leflaive’s “Les Sétilles” (a blend of grapes from Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault) is a ridiculous value for you Chard lovers for under $20.
– Ever dipped beef jerky into guacamole? Get ready to live, kemosabe.
– My next door neighbor has started experimenting with homemade hard cider. It’s certainly not bad. Next time, I won’t throw him under the bus by breaking out two bottles of Diane Flynt’s incredible Foggy Ridge Cider from Virginia after tasting his efforts. Diane had nothing to do with getting me these bottles. If you in Virginia, buy some. Or do something illegal. We’ll never know which route I took.
In retrospect, and in homage to the post title, I probably should’ve set the day’s compilation video to the song “Barbra Streisand”, by Duck Sauce. But this was a day for fowl of a different feather, and duck sauce has no place in the presence of chicken.
Ah, the memories…

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Pink is Pimp

April 14, 2011
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In the aftermath of an incendiary tirade berating the awful deficit of wine color-blindness in our culture, I received the following comment from the fine blokes over at Sediment Blog (which you should check out):
Almost hate to ask, but… where do you stand on rosé?
I can understand their meekness. I was on fire. “A madman drunk on adrenaline,” my old friend from Arkansas might say. But such a relevant question warranted no apprehension, as the post ignored pink wine: the proverbial pink elephant-in-the-room. And when one is seeing pink elephants, an explanation is often required. “Drunk on adrenaline” is rarely a satisfactory answer.
Pink wine- referred to as “blush” in the 80’s and on Franzia boxes, and now going by the more sophisticated name of rosé (accents and italics make anything more cosmopolitan)- gets a real bad rap among folks getting into the fermented grape…

Blame it on a guy named Bob Trinchero. One of the owners of Sutter Home winery in Napa, Trinchero would start making a dry, red Zinfandel wine in 1972. In order to concentrate the must (crushed, fermenting grapes), he would “bleed off” some of the juice (a process known as saignée) , ferment it to dryness, and bottle the pink juice for sale. However, in 1975, Trichero ran into a stuck fermentation with his byproduct, and the sugar just wouldn’t ferment out. The brass at Sutter Home decided that they preferred the sweet style, and the infamous “White Zinfandel”, as we know it, was born.
Perhaps you’re like me. When I was cutting my teeth as a “serious” wine drinker (that moniker has since derailed), I dismissed all pink wine as crap. I decried “sweet” wine as an elixir of the hillbilly. I dismissed anything not red or white as the garbage found in gas stations next to the St. Ides double-deuces.
Maybe you cursed Bob Trinchero for his scourge upon the civilized wine world. And though Trinchero was too busy banging a giant pile of money to hear your lamentations, his Frankenstein-wine set the tone for a rampage against everything that shared it’s horrid hue.
All rosé was not only unpalatable, but also the color of a cocktail befitting a bachelorette party, never to be confidently quaffed with the boys. Drinking wine among the beer crowd draws ridicule enough; knocking back something presumably sweet and the color of a Hello Kitty baby backpack… well, there just wasn’t swagger to it, right?
Wrong. Hey, I was wrong too. I been there, man (clearly, my new catch-phrase).
We’d gone through life thinking “pink is wimp”, not realizing that pink is pimp. Much of it is NOTHING like White Zinfandel (which has its place, too). There are examples that are fresh, vibrant, and acidic. They can be incredible with food. And, when you spill these wines on your 3-piece cotton-candy suit with flamingo derby hat, they don’t stain.
I live in the South. And people from the south eat a lot of pork. We especially like to smoke the tasty critters in the summer. So, let’s say I’m sitting out on my back porch on a July afternoon, sweating like a hoarder at a garage sale. As good as Pinot Noir is with pulled pork, I’m not reaching for a perspiration-inducing red. I’d like a rosé wine with a slight chill on it. It’s got just enough red fruit to sing with that pork, but retains a lightness that gives a good yard beer a run for its money.

Some of the best examples of pink wine come from the Southeastern corner of France. Seek out the wines of Provence, especially the Mourvédre-based wines of Bandol, and- my personal favorite- Grenache-based Tavel from the southern Rhône. These wines tend to be dry, and they promise an unexpected and mighty enjoyable experience, offering aromas that often bely the dryness within the glass. Still not convinced? You can look on the labels and view the alcohol content. If it’s hovering around 12% or higher, there’s a good chance you’re not dealing with anything sweet…
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But- alas- that is another rant, and I don’t want to get off-point, as is my M.O. Rather, the time has come to embrace your inner-Huggy Bear and give rosé– the pinkest, pimpest wine of all time- a shot. Sip it from a wine glass if you’re really cool. The rest of you insecure jive turkeys can ease into your pink drinkin’ with a transitional vessel if necessary:
Or, if you’re really slick:

Taking Flight at Montaluce (at last, Georgia Wines part 4 of 4)

September 20, 2009
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Dedication can be a tricky thing. Last thing I’ve wanted to do today is sit down and write a post. Football season can really wear one out, but a fan feels compelled to watch every minute of his favorite teams, even if the games run late into the night, sap all his emotional energy, and occupy his every waking minute from Saturday morning to Sunday evening. Call it, uh…dedication to the team. Unfortunately, the blog needs it’s attention too, so dedication need be mustered again (somewhere, an English teacher is cursing me for using the same word three times in a paragraph).

Furthermore, I feel compelled to write about the wines being produced on the Dahlonega Plateau. These guys put in a lot of hard work and- do I even need to say it?- into what they’re doing, especially at Montaluce. The folks there dropped everything to speak to some inquisitive boob from Woodstock, GA, so the least I can do is write about it. If you want to read my article about Montaluce, click here. For the purposes of this post, I’m sticking strictly to the wine:

2008 Risata: Three cheers for good winemaking. This Sangiovese-based effort was originally intended to be a red wine. When the grapes didn’t come in the way the winemaker wanted, he turned it into an intriguing Rosé. Nice move. I was met with a very pleasant nose of roses, orange peel, herbs, that Georgia “grassiness”, and rainbow sherbet. Yeah, the red, green, and orange stuff. It was dry and crisp in the mouth, with good acidity. A really nice wine.
2008 Chardonnay: A nice, buttery, earthy nose (maybe “grassy” again?) with some telltale Chardonnay aromas of green apple and citrus. In the mouth, there was once again good acidity (which you’d expect in a cool-climate, but not in the Deep South…nice). This wine also had a nice, long finish. It was not my favorite of the bunch, but that could be a personal problem. Why am I saddling you with my problems? You’ve got enough on your plate, and I respect that, valued reader.

2008 Viognier: A variety of grape that I’m seeing a ton of in Georgia, for which I am very happy (Viognier is SOOO good when done well). Montaluce’s- yet again- had a very interesting nose…extra virgin olive oil (or “EVOO” if you’re into terrible Rachael Ray references) was the first thing that jumped out at me. I also got apricots, peaches, and honey in my snout. Nice tangerine and spice in the mouth. Bought a bottle; what else can I say?
2008 Merlot: Another good nose. Herbs, green pepper, and berries dancing around in the glass. As I swished it around in my cheeks, this light-to-medium bodied red had a huge kick of strawberries, which never sucks. Really, what’s impressive about the Montaluce wines is the depth of flavor that I haven’t really seen in the other Georgia wines I’ve had. They’re more complex, and this Merlot is no exception.
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon: I think by this point, I was jaw-jacking with Rob Beecham, and I didn’t write down any notes. Nice one, Joe. Anyway, what I do remember is that it was pretty good: medium-bodied, good fruit, that signature Georgia “grassiness” (which may sound bad, but it’s not. It’s the “Georgia” in the wine). Sorry, Cab. I meant well, but failed to give you the respect you deserve.
So, there it is. This edition of my Georgia wine oddyssey is closed- for now. There’s a lot more going on up in the hills, so I’m sure I’ll be back…
…just like I’m sure I’ll be sitting on the couch again on a Sunday night, trying to avoid writing a post. But if they keep busting their butts to make the best wine possible, I’ll get off mine and write about it.
To dedication, even when it’s not the easy thing to do: Cheers, Sláinte, L’Chaim, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!