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14 October 2007

A Case for Creativity (AKA Free Wine!)

Chateaubeau Are you the Mac-daddy/-mommie when it comes to creativity? 

Have you ever looked at all the blasé wine labels out there and thought, "I could do so much better."? 

Well, here's a chance to explore your creative side and score a case of a soon-to-be classic red wine - Juice Crew Red.

So far, the J.Crew has nicknamed our maturing vino, "The Mighty Brick."  I think we'd like the label to reflect her personality (perhaps listening to a little Rick James could inspire potential label designers out there):

"So all and all, the blend has resulted in what we wanted - a rich rhone style wine with some backbone. The different varietals playing nicely in the sandbox. Great dark color, long sexy legs and built to party"

Here's the deal - submit a label design, which reflects our sexy Rhone brickhouse and you could win...1 case of JC Red.  Now that's what I call a case for creativity!

Details: Submit* your design entry by November 15, 2007.  The editor will select 3 designs to be voted on by Juice Crew members and Basic Juice readers.  The winning designer will receive the case of Juice Crew Red when it's released (we award no wine before its time).

*by submitting a design, designer retains no rights to design, but will be credited by name

Gentlepeople, start your creative engines..

12 October 2007

A Question of Eis

Ice_wine_grapes Reader Dag from Norway (Oslo rep-re-sents!) poses a question about Eiswein:

"May I raise a question after a discussion we had in Luxembourg recently, about icewein.

Must be picked at minus 7 degrees and pressed while still frozen.

But, I was once told that there is also something else happening to the wine stock at minus 7. That some “elements” are withdrawn from the grape during this freezing process, which also contributes to the divine taste of eiswein. Therefore, real eiswein should/must be made this way ??

Have you heard about this process and which elements are withdrawn ??

Hope you have the answer.

Eager to hear from you.

Best regards from an eiswein lover in Norway."

Well, Dag.  Allow me to first refer you to a fun article I wrote a few years ago called, "Ripeness or Ruin."  It is my understanding that the divine taste of Eiswein is derived from the fact that the extract is devoid of most, if not all, water (since it's frozen).  Thus the extract is fruit-essence goodness (sugars, -ols, etc.), which apparently ferments slower than typical must.  Perhaps the combo of less/no water and slower fermentation adds to the otherworldly flavor of Eiswein.

Any Eis-experts out there care to chime in?

21 August 2007

Wanted: Listed Austrians

Dear B.Juice Reader:

Look, I know over the last several months I have let you down.  My per-week posting rate has dropped dramatically.  Forgive me.  However, as many out there know, it's incredibly draining to write nearly every day about wine (especially when one considers the fact that I live in #$%#$%ing Ut.).  However, my pledge to you is this:  I will go for quality over quantity.  The Juice may not be as freshly updated as it once was, but in the near future, you will see seriously good stuff.

Ok.  Now that you've been slathered with butter substitute, I've got a favor to ask:


Have you seen a good selection of Austrian wine on a wine list or in a retail shop?  And by good selection, I don't mean 1-2 bottles of G. Veltliner gathering dust on a rack.  I mean, you've visited a restaurant or shop that offers a gaggle (or at least 4-6 bottles) of tasty Austrian wine.

So, if you have a favored sipping or shopping spot for Oesterreichische Weine, please let me know in the comments!  Danke & Cheers.

20 August 2007


For the wine-imbiber who travels, there often seems to be 'that one bottle', which surprises - not only for how tasty it is, but also for the grape varietal used.  During my recent trip to lovely Vancouver, BC, I discovered something new and very tasty from the Okanagan Valley.  I might add this discovery was pure luck - as it involves the Chenin Blanc grape, which only occupies ~20 hectares in Okanagan vineyardom.

Goldenmilechenin06 Golden Mile Cellars Old Vines Chenin Blanc 2006 ($15-$20) - This CB is textbook CB - a la Vouvray.  It possesses intense floral-fruity scents underscored by an aroma that can only be described as, "slightly earthy" and perhaps a little bit naughty (picture naked grapes frolicking in the mud after a rainstorm).  This wine's body is notably more stout than old world Chenin-based wines.  A big-boned structure, coupled with the high-volume scents translates to an initial impression of Golden Mile Chenin Blanc being sweet.  But wait!  This wine is in fact dry with enough zippy acidity to balance out its high-ish alcohol content and seemingly sugar-full nose. 

I fell in love with this wine for the fact that it's fairly rare (I doubt it's available in any US retail ship) and entirely unique.  That's the bad news - you won't be able to find it.  The good news is that this calls for an air/road-trip to BC!

Sip GM C.Blanc solo, or with, naa, sip it solo - no need for food to muck up this wonderfully tasty wine.

Read another review on this BC CB from App. America's John Schreiner.

Question:  What big wine surprise have you discovered on a recent trip?

11 May 2007

On the road to 70

70_2 Some frightening math for you: 35 + 35 = 70.

I have this friend who just turned 35.  I want to help, uh, him celebrate in style.  He is most definitely a lover of odd/obscure vino.  Which of my three choices would befit a half-septuagenarian?

1. Bbbbandol, Baby - A meaty, Mourvedre-based red wine from Provence.  The candidate: Domaine du Gros Nore Bandol Rouge 2003

2.  White du Pape - While not as full of diverse grape varietals as red Chateauneuf-du-Pape, white d-P is often a rare treat.  The candidate: Chateau de Beaucastel C-d-P Blanc 1999

3.  Zerious Zweigelt - No, Zweigelt is rarely considered a classic wine.  However, in the hands of my friends, err my friend's friends The Müller's of Domäne Müller, Zweigelt can be downright epic.  The candidate: Domäne Müller 'Der Zweigelt' 2000

So which wine should I select for my friend in order to help him continue along the downward spiral experience-rich path to 70?

19 April 2007

Varietal in a Haystack

Needlehay Here's something I've been pondering after sampling two wines with 'hidden varietals' lurking somewhere in the bottle.

Wine 1: Chateau St. Michelle Orphelin Red 2004 (Washington) - This wine is a fine, bold-style, soft and juicy red blend.  It's straightforward and simple.  Nothing wrong with that.  Except....  Why oh why does the winery tout the presence of Malbec (0.1%!), Touriga (0.4%!!), Souzao (0.5%!!!) - and even Petit Verdot (3.5%).  I suppose it's intellectually stimulating to consider some odd varietals kicking it in my glass.  However, I'll be blunt:  I can't taste them.  There may as well have been 0.2% Concord and 0.12% Via Niagara.  With this wine's hefty dose of Rhone rag-a-muffins (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre), it really doesn't matter what grape make up that last 4.5%....or does it?

Wine 2: Sexto DOC Terra Alta 2004 (Spain) - Lest you think I'm picking on the exuberantly styled new world wines, try this affordable Spaniard (~$9).  Again, it's a perfectly pleasant pizza wine.  And yet, there, on the label is the Spanish word 'sexto' (= 6th).  Why is this wine named, '6th'?  Well, it contains 6% Lledoner Pelut Noir (also referred to as the 'hairy Grenache' clone!?!).  Now that's a grape very few have ever sipped, let alone heard of.  But honestly, this wine simply tastes like a cheap-n-cheerful Spanish red.  Fine and dandy, but nothing unique. 

Why can't I get a unique, varietal-based wine that doesn't have the unique varietals buried under an avalanche of commoners?

Have you sampled a unique, varietal-based wine recently, which was also unique-tasting?  Do tell.

29 March 2007

Poll: The Restaurant Decision

A question for you..

11 February 2007

Air Banding/Rerun Wine

Have you ever air band-ed?  If your answer is 'no', I shall either A) call you a liar or B) an anti-music cretin.  For those of us with little-to-no musical talent air banding/lip synching is one of life's guilty pleasures.

Who hasn't used the shower head as a mic stand-in and wailed out Highway to Hell while the Pert-Plus worked it's magic?  Perhaps you're an air guitar virtuoso who enjoys spinning around whilst doing your best Eddie V.H. Eruption axing.  We're getting to wine, I promise.  The point is that air banding is fun and highly contagious (see 'exhibit A' [click to play] below)


The problem with being an OC (that's obsessive compulsive not the OC) wine dissector/analyst is that nearly every glass of wine I sip ends up being broken down by color, scent, flavor and texture.  It's nearly impossible for to drink wine and just enjoy wine for wine's sake.  So sad.  One solution to this quandary is to take a wine, which I know well.  My personal favorite in this wine rerun category is Beaujolais Cru.  BeauJo Cru is rarely disappointing and nearly always delivers the berry-brambly flavor combo (which I can finally resist analyzing).

Like air banding...Actually, this is nothing like air banding - unless you consider both air banding and rerun wine as two of life's simple pleasures.  Then yes, air banding and rerun wine are exactly alike.

My favorite rerun BeauJo Cru of the moment is Morgon. Try G. DuBoeuf's Morgon 'Jan Descombes' 2005 ($10).  It delivers great Gamay character and I don't feel compelled to dissect it.  Ok, Ok, I'll dissect a little - I have discovered a nifty Beaujolais trick:  Chill it down, open the bottle and let the wine air out for about an hour or so.  You'll get even more berryliciousness.

What song do you air band to?  Do you have a fave rerun wine?

07 February 2007

Is it/Isn't It?

Question_2 Let's do something a bit different for WineBloggingWednesday #30.  This month's theme is new world S[hi]yra[z]h.  My entry is most definitely new world.  But, the 100-Shiraz question is this:

Is this single-varietal wine a Shiraz or something else?

 The Entry: An old-vines (allegedly really old vines) 2004 red w/screwcap from Australia's Barossa Valley.

This deep, indigo wine offers initial scents of cedar chips and bacon fat.  However, rather quickly, these nasal treats are overtaken by big, burly berry scents of blackberry preserves (some may say, "jam") with hints of black pepper and asphalt.

In the mouth, this red Aussie wallops the tongue with hearty, shrivelly fruit flavors coupled to coffee and vanilla accents.  Even though body-wise the wine is a big-un, it still possesses fairly balanced acidity (a nifty trick) and semi sandpapery tannins.  All in all, as new world reds go, this wine is actually hospitible to food - the right food of course.  Try it with mashed potatoes slathered in truffle butter and a medium rare, dry-aged slab of steak.

So what say you, S[hi]yra[z]h or no S[hi]yra[z]h?

Reminder: SLC folks can taste more wines like this at next week's, "Wines of the Future" class/tasting.  Don't forget to sign up.  It's only twenty-bucks!

05 February 2007

The Aussie Signature?

Jhan I may be crazy..

It seems every red Australian wine carries a typical scent signature.  Whether it's Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvedre, or any of the permutations of "GSM" blends, I can nearly always sniff out an Aussie.

The tell-tale scent can best be described as, "blackberry preserves, with a hint of pepper and dash of asphalt."  Yes, asphalt isn't the most savory of descriptors, but I believe it aptly completes what my nose detects in most any glass of Aussie red.

So the question is this:  Does anyone else detect this Australian scent signature?  Any hypotheses as to what actually causes it?  Or is it just me?

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