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16 January 2007

GW + Wine

Earth From the SeattlePI:  Global Warming + Washington =

"Wine grapes in Eastern Washington will be pushed to the upper limit of their temperature tolerance range, meaning they'll have to move uphill or to other regions. Cooler areas, such as Western Washington, may become more suitable for grapes."

Of course those new vines might be just a bit too toasty..

"Increased carbon dioxide will mean bigger trees, while higher temperatures increase the incidence of wildfire. The number of acres burned will increase by 50 percent by 2020 and by 100 percent by 2040, so the annual cost of fighting wildfires may exceed $75 million by 2020 -- 50 percent higher than the current expenditures. That cost will double by 2040"

Meanwhile in Spain..

"Xavier Sort is Technical Director at Miguel Torres SA, the Barcelona-based producer of Sangre de Toro wine. He worries: “Any increase in temperature in Spain may make it impossible to produce wine in lower areas.” Currently, his company is buying fields in the peaks of north eastern Spain, where the weather is cooler. “There may be a move of wineries into the Pyrenees in the future,” said Sort."

09 February 2006

The Big Smooth

PerkinssicoverGather round sports & wine fans, I've got an analogy for you.  Do you remember Sam Perkins?  He played basketball at the University of North Carolina with some guy by the name of Michael Jordan.  To me, Sam was always the 'other guy' with MJ in the 1983 Sports Illustrated cover I had taped to my bedroom wall as an aspiring Bantam Basketball player.  I averaged 10 minutes, 2 points, 3 rebounds and 3-4 fouls.  In other words, I was average.  Indeed, I was quite unlike Mike.  Most folks saw MJ's potential.  However, at the time, Sam was the more complete player.  He was a big guy (6'9") who could pass, shoot from the perimeter and rebound well.  In fact, Perkins was the 4th overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft.  He was a fairly solid player in his younger days, but later in his career, Sam became a niche player.  He evolved into a long distance shooter - the player who always hangs out by the three point line.  Perkins garnered the nickname "Big Smooth" for his trademark shooting form.  He was a crowd favorite, yet in my humble basketball opinion, he actually devolved as a player over the course of his career.  He was a liability on defense, he didn't rebound particularly well and for a coordinated big man, he never developed a passing game.  In other words, the Big Smooth was a one-trick pony.

...Segue to one-trick wine ponies...

KviognierRecently I sampled a wine which also might easily receive the moniker, "Big Smooth."  It's a chubby, full-bodied, high-alcohol, lusciously-oaked Viognier.  One whiff and your nose welcomes a sweet vanilla-cream bouquet.  One sip and your mouth welcomes a smooth vanilla/caramel custard cocktail.  Great stuff.  This wine is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  Yet whiff & sip #2 delivers the same scents and flavors.  Then whiffs/sips 3 through 12 bring more of the same.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  However, the wine is lacking in nuance and complexity.  This Big Smooth is most definitely a one-trick pony.  Perhaps, if you're a fan of big 3-point shots, you'll enjoy this wine.  On the other hand, if you're partial to assists, blocks, rebounds and mid-range jumpers, you may find yourself wanting more from K-Vintners Columbia Valley Viognier, 2004 ($20).

As for me, I'll take Oscar Robertson over the Big Smooth every time.

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26 January 2006

I'm The Magnificent

I'm the magnificent with the sensational style
And I can go on and on for like a mile, a minute
I get in it like a car and drive
And if the record is smash, I can still survive
'Cause I'm the man of steel on the wheel that you're steerin'
Or rather playin' on the record that you're hearin'
You might not understand what I'm saying at first
So Action Love, put it in reverse

--“I’m the Magnificent” (1989) by 17-year old rap phenom Special Ed

CharlessmithK Vintners’ winemaker Charles Smith (dude, at right) appears to be North America’s wine phenom du jour.  Much ink has been spilled singing the praises of his wines:

“His 2002’s tasted from barrel appear to be exceptional…K Vintners rocks with Washington Syrah.”
“Top ten Syrah in America.”
“Pinot Noir and Merlot are first-rate wines.”
“His Syrahs are focused, pure and abounding with character.”
“I recently tasted Smith’s Syrah and it sent my taste buds into orbit!”

Yawwwwn.  As with most items so hyped in the wine world, I ended up sleeping on Mr. Smith’s vino.  It must be my inner brat that resists tasting the wines of any winemaker who garners so many ‘TOP’ and ‘!!” proclamations from the wine press.  Perhaps, it’s post-consumerism exhaustion.  I’m not sure.  In any event, until recently, I had yet to sample any of Rockstar Smith’s wines - either from K Vintners or the Magnificent Wine Co (the requisite second label).  Then a couple months ago, I noticed an open bottle of ‘House Wine’ by the M.W.C. sitting on the counter of someone who used to post here every once in a while.  I respect her taste in wine, and thus filed House Wine under ‘to-try’ in my brain.

The wines of K Vintners and the Magnificent Wine Co. are now available in my neck of the woods.  With some trepidation I took M.W.C’s House Wine home as a companion for Pizza + Movie night.  Three words sum up my experience with this wine: “Truth in Packaging.”

The Skinny
HousewineThe Magnificent Wine Company ‘House Wine’ 2004 ($~10)

  • 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Syrah from Washington’s Columbia Valley

My in-house bold-n-fruity wine lover remarked upon tasting this wine, “It’s a little too fruity.  There isn’t much going on.”  At that, I recoiled just a bit.  I thought, “If she thinks this wine is too fruity then perhaps I just purchased grape Hi-C.”  Then I noticed her glass was empty, and I heard the subtle *clink* of my as yet untouched glass being absconded from its place of aeration (don't go absconding my wine from its place of aeration).  After wrasslin the glass away from my wife, the wine thief, I tried House Wine for myself.

Yup.  It’s incredibly simple and easy to drink.  But it isn’t off putting in the least.  It’s not too fruity, too oaky, too tannic nor too full-bodied.  As I said, “Truth in Packaging.”  House Wine is indeed (good) house wine.  Give it a try.

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01 August 2005

Northstar Merlot

Northstar1998_11998 Northstar Merlot ($50)   
Clear, medium to deep, ruby core fading to a pale garnet-ruby rim. Clean, with an intense, developing nose of jammy black berries, plums, chocolate, leather and cassis. Dry, with a sweet attack from the ripe, concentrated fruit. Medium acid with medium, soft tannins. Full-bodied, with an intense palate layered with chocolate, toasty oak, blackberries, plums and leather. Medium alcohol and a long length. Smooth and silky, this merlot from the Columbia Valley drinks perfectly now, but could easily last another 5 years without losing too much fruit character and tannin structure.

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