Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

The Best Wine Post Ever Written

July 15, 2011
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After sipping on some wines sent to me (as samples) from Virginia Wine, I didn’t spit out enough and have a confession to make: I don’t write these posts. I have a ghost-writer. However, with the WBC looming, it’s time I come out of my shell and write my own material. Away we go…

Virginia is for lovers, WINE lovers that is (LOL!). Tonight, I got to open six bottles of Virginia Viognier (which is a kind of Chardonnay), and they were super-yummy! YUM-O, as Rachael Ray might say! I love Rachaell Ray! LOL, girlfriend! We need to PAR-TAY soon when I’m a famous blogger!
Anyway, the Viogniers were super tasty and also G-R-E-A-T!!! They were fruity and grapey and smelled like Chardonnay and flowers and peaches and pears and honey and fruit and stuff. They tasted like if you poured a bowl of fruit into some wine and then drank it. Like a fruit cup filled with vodka! They should make a bomb out of that! LOL! I can’t wait to pair these wines with dinner. These Viogniers would be super-good with chicken ceaser salads and shrimp ceaser salads too! The best would be to make them into S-A-N-G-R-I-A. Holler! DeeeeeeLISH!
I would definitely buy these wines, and you should too! ZOMG!!! So next time you’re in a fancy restaurant with some hottie, ask the somilyer if he has any Viognier Chardonnay from Virginia. Then, you’ll look all smart for your date, and it will be awesome!!!!!! LOL!
I’m not sure where you can buy Chardonnays made out of Viognier, but tell them I sent you! LMAO! Like me on MySpace HERE!!!
Fine. I had a crummy day. Thus, a curmudgeon-y post. However, the day ended well. Tried six Viogniers (which is not Chardonnay, by the way. Totally different grape) from six Virginia wineries: Horton, Blenheim, King Family, Barboursville Vineyards, Copper Vineyards, and Delaplane Cellars. Solid juice. Distinctly “Virginia”, though I’m not yet sure what I mean by that. Eager to find out soon, when I can get my hands in that Shenandoah dirt.

I really, REALLY hope this underdog can shock the world with all those West Coast palates in Charlottesville next week. Go get ’em, kids. I cheering for you like crazy.

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Wine Blogging Wednesday #71: What the crap is all this "Rhône" mess?!

March 16, 2011
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Do you get irritated by words with accents, umlauts, lines through the “o”, “CCCP” standing for “The Soviet Union” somehow, tildes, backwards accents, the Greek alphabet as a whole, and those damn hieroglyphics? Maybe you don’t. Perhaps you’re more “worldly” than the rest of us jackasses. Okay, more worldly than me. Sorry I called most of you jackasses.
To me, if it’s difficult to find on the keyboard; if I have to access the “character map”, copy, then paste (making sure the font is consistent), well… it’s irritating. Listen; I’m not language xenophobe, and I get and respect the need to accuracy. But that doesn’t mean I can’t bitch about it.

Compound the irritation when someone not only takes a word that requires a funky rooftop above the “o”, but slings it around in his lexicon like a warm and familiar word that everyone will understand. “Here, we’re pouring a classic Rhône blend. Mmm, it just smells like a Rhône blend, doesn’t it? Oh, you don’t know what a ‘Rhône blend’ is? Well, I guess I have the psychological upper-hand at this wine tasting, don’t I, shit-for-brains?” (for the record, “shit-for-brains” is one of those very familiar terms I was talking about that everyone knows. )
My point- which absolutely required graphic cursing- is that wine folks all-too-often throw out obscure terms and industry-speak to the curious masses that are assumed to be commonplace. Blogs are probably the worst about this. I bet this blog is terrible about it. And sure, wine lovers are likely the ones reading wine blogs (actually, it’s probably just other wine bloggers). But I think we get too comfortable speculating on what our audience already knows, without taking the time to explain what the terms mean. Coupled with the fact that many of those terms are foreign and contain weird slashes and dashes and flip-flaps only exasperates the problem.
When in doubt, a little education never hurts. Remember: it’s okay to be geeky. People actively seeking wine blogs and articles are probably into that stuff. But assumptions can be very alienating. Subscribing to this proviso, I will probably lose all the super-knowledgeable folks with the rest of this post. But I’d rather hope one eager vinophile gets learned on some tight science. Some things just deserve a thorough explanation.
And such is the case with the Rhône. Ever heard the term “Rhône blend” and wondered what that meant? Much like “Bordeaux blend” or “Super Tuscan”, a “Rhône blend” is something thrown around in the tasting rooms of California, Washington State, and Australia, among others. But what does it mean? First off, the Rhône basically refers to the Rhône river valley in southeastern France. It’s a very famous wine region, containing some sub-regions that you may recognize: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, and Condrieu, to name a few. The region is basically broken into two geographic sections: the Northern Rhône and the Southern Rhône… I know; it’s not very creative. Maybe they should’ve brought in Big Ten Conference big wigs to name the regions (tongue planted firmly in cheek).

Anyway, the Northern part focuses on dry red wines made primarily from the Syrah grape, and the most-notable whites made from Viognier (and some from Roussanne). In the Southern section (sorry, I just can’t say “Rhône” anymore, and I’m sick of the extra keystroke to put that hat on the “o”), Grenache [Noir] is king of the reds, but you’ll see tons of different grapes, including the aforementioned Syrah, along with Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Carignan (among others). On the white side, there’s Viognier and Roussanne, but there’s also Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul, Bourboulenc, and on and on. Confused yet? Me too.
So let’s simplify: the phrase “Rhône style blend” is probably used by someone not in the Rhône. But when a winemaker in Santa Barbara County, California or Walla Walla, Washington says that, he/she means that it’s a wine made from a blend of traditional Rhône grapes. That’s it. Tasting a Syrah with a little Viognier blended in? You’ll probably impress someone if you describe that as a “classic Northern Rhône” blend. Or irritate someone. Depends on the person.
In Australia, they grow a lot of Syrah, but it goes by a different name: Shiraz. Same grape, different name. Those wacky Aussies; don’t let them trip you up. Down under, you’ll see a lot of bottles labeled GSM. That’s short for “Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre“. That is a great example of a “Southern Rhône” blend. Or maybe you’ll run into a white wine made from Roussanne, Marsanne, and some Grenache Blanc. Same deal.

Stateside, you’ll see quite a few varietal bottlings. Blends just aren’t as hip yet here. Syrah is the predominant variety I see (though sales are slipping). You’ll also probably find some Grenache on its own, Viognier, Roussanne, maybe a Mourvèdre or two, and that odd Carignan. As for the 20+ other predominant grapes that grow in the Rhône… well, you shop at interesting places if you see many (or any) of them grown domestically and bottled by themselves.
Well, there you go. Pretty sure I scared 99% of folks off with all that technical mess. What a boring post. But I couldn’t throw phrases out without an explanation. Hopefully, just one person was eager enough to learn something new. If that’s the case, then all the “ô” typing, the hyperlinks, and the damn, damn italicizing was worth it.
This edition of “Wine Blogging Wednesday”- something I accidentally only seem to participate in once every 6 months or so- is hosted by Winecast. Wine bloggers across the world write on a common theme. This month’s is “Rhônes not from the Rhône”. I’m pretty sure I bastardized the topic a bit, but I guarantee you don’t want to read tasting notes here. Ever. Anyway, thanks to the host. Rhône wines- either from there or made elsewhere from the traditional grapes- really are fantastic, and worth a few too many words.

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!