Wine-ding Down?

I was at a tasting with a pair of friends who used to work in wine.  I say work in wine, because for them, it was a job and not a passion.  For me, wine is passion, but thankfully I also pay the bills because of it.  We're at this tasting and he, lets call him John, turns to me and says "Don't you just despise Silver Oak?" Our other friend in turn, says, "You mean Silver CHOKE?"  
When did we ever feel like we're better than staples of the wine world?  Chris Walker, a good friend and coworker will probably be shocked at reading this; Silver Oak, Caymus, Mondavi are all good wines.  Doug Baron who makes Silver Oak does a great job at giving the American Public what they want, utilizing American Oak to embolden his Cabernets to fit our massive palettes.  Chuck Wagner of Caymus put Cult Cabernets on the map and in our major retail markets.  Mondavi, well Mondavi showed us that wine was fit for everyone.  I've had his '76 Cabernet Reserve, and it's just now peaking.  Chris has a passion for wine that rivals my own, and he too is hesitant to mock someone's hard fought creations.  He, like myself, recognizes that sometimes we want something that people know and are impressed by.  I know that a Corvette is not necessarily the BEST car, but darned if it doesn't make heads turn.  If you ever want to impress a sommelier, ask them if they have any Silver Oak Bonny's Vineyard.  It's from back when Jason Meyer was the owner/winemaker and it may be some of the best wine to ever come out of California.  I had the '84 vintage a few months ago, and I nearly cried.  It's not cheap, but its a legacy that you can be a part of, and that should impress yourself. 
In short, if it's that popular, it's not a bad wine; you simply don't like it.  I love Frog's Leap Merlot, but for some reason people think that 100% Merlot isn't savage enough for our lifestyles.  Chris likes Gran Reservas, but some people think they're too fleshy and spice driven.  Who cares if you're not drinking it?  Leave the wine making to the pros and drink what you like, believe me they know what they're doing better than we do.  

Chard-ly worth the effort

          I like Chardonnays.  I'm not an ABC Wine Drinker(Anything but Chardonnay), but I see where they are coming from.  In an effort to embody the American Muscle Mentality, California has created a 'race' of bigger, tougher, more aggressive white titans that hardly resemble the Burgundian gems we first sought to emulate.  
I call it the 'Kendall Jackson effect'.  Somehow, years ago Chardonnay drinkers fell in love with really oaky wines.  Is that a bad thing?  You like what you like, and in this authors opinion, it's Rock and Roll versus Alternative Rock; the latter being a guilty pleasure and rarely maintaining any real merit.  So Jess Jackson and his brilliant team put together an oaky Chardonnay, and somehow it ended up in every restaurant that served workaday wine drinkers.  Now I don't know why it happened, or how it happened, but someone started messing with Malolactic Fermentation.  Malolactic Fermentation uses lactic bacteria to convert the harsh(but beautiful) malic acid into the more familiar lactic acid.  It's great in Red Wines, especially Tempranillo, but makes your Chardonnay taste more like Country Home Margarine if over done.  Fast forward a decade or so of 'juiced up juice', and we start seeing a trend of this 'Land O Lake' over buttery Chardonnay Chic.  
I like Chardonnays with butterscotch under tones, Jean Hofliger made a great example of this at Newton and then again at Alpha Omega.  Frank Family and Miner also make SUBTLE buttered toasty Chards as well, and that's why you don't see more of them.  The fact of the matter is, Macon and Fouisse appreciate a clean acidity, and we simply appreciate grandeur.  Jordan Chardonnay is overlooked because of it's lack of oak and butter, but I adore its Burgundian similarities.  It's clean pear and creamy mango mesh well with undertones of sweet honeysuckle.  I try not to bash anyones wines, because it really takes all types, so I apologize to Jess and his team because they make good wines, I just cannot take this Jacksonian era of over zest any longer.  
If you want quality Chardonnay, know too you may have to pay more, but the outcome is far greater.  Paying $25 dollars for a good Chardonnay is a blessing considering what us Cab Heads pay for our favorites.  Feel lucky that you aren't addicted to a wine that can easily stack up to $70-$100, and listen to us when we suggest sed wines.  Go find a bottle of Lambert Bridge Chardonnay and enjoy it's tight roping of Butterscotch, but also enjoy the fact that some of the fruit is still succulent like it's meant to be
On a side note, join my twitter, it's a short winded version of my long winded blog style.


The No-Spitter Twitter

Yay, we're finally catching up with modernity, catch us on twitter now for short wine blurbs.

Fair Drinkum

The Australians have a phrase that, unfortunately, hasn't caught on like 'Throw Another Shrimp on the Barbi'.  Firstly, they're called Prawns, and they throw snags(sausages) on the Barbi.  Secondly, the phrase 'Fair Dinkum' better sums up the Aussie, care free mentality.  Fair Dinkum means, 'Fair Deal' or 'Holy Cow, how great'.  It's used to fully communicate that sometimes it's not too good to be true.
The same is true about their wines.  From the bombastic Shiraz' of Barossa to the delicately oaked Chardonnays of Margaret River; Australia has become the go-to face of wine on a global scale.  Since James Busby brought Rhone fruit to the Valleys of Barossa's flat lands in the 1830s, Australia has advanced their wine industry at a pace that makes France and Italy(heck even us) look like viticultural snails.  Owing current vintage zip to a painfully long drought, the newer versions of the classics are pulling back that over lacquered, port like juice and coming out with the perfect reservations we expect from everyday wine.  I love love love the juice that Chris Ringland puts out, and now that he is on as the winemaker for Marquis-Phillips, it's only getting better.  A good deal of his wines see oaking in French rather than American, and in this writer's opinion they're all the better for it.  American Oak has nearly 4 times the lactone content that French does, and it really shoots the fruit into orbit.  Though most Barossa Shiraz sees American Coopering, the ones that get a solid French Connection are my personal favorites.  Look for the Number 9 Shiraz, it's got just enough Currant and Cassis up front, but the mid palette is a mix of tahitian vanilla bean and humidor spice.  
Seriously, check out the land down under, it's a fair deal and it's a tasty one.


Start the Revolution

Have no fear Buzzers, I am back.  I've been out preaching the good word, and that good word is 'Universality'.  As a statement of truly intrinsic redundancy, I write todays article in the vein of 'Wine is, in fact, for EVERYONE'.  The typically narrowed focus I take on blogging has been broadened as a means to profess what I hope will become a love for something that we should all enjoy but rarely do.  
I wave the white flag in the face of snobbery, something that I think is often confused with a lonely enthusiasm.  I am by no means giving up my quest to educate you to the next step in appreciating BETTER wines, but at the moment I am trying to encourage you to simply enjoy the wines you are currently consuming.  I am trying to get you to share your love of wine, not of the secret society we have nested it in, but in the everyday consumption of fermented fruit.  I am championing this wonderful nectar as the best possible pairing with any and every situation that you could possibly face.
I realize that I have a direct disdain for White Zinfandel.  I also realize that my beloved 'Motherland' is Napa Valley.  I also realize that White Zinfandel(Chateau Cashflow) saved Napa Valley in a time when workaday drinkers were simply popping bottles of domestic beer.  A comparison I almost liken having a clubbed foot and not being able to be drafted into the armed services; it'll save you, but you don't have to like it.  Furthermore, I realize that there are a lot of avid White Zinfandel drinkers out there, and in this moment of fervor I say: "DRINK ON".   Die-Hard Buzzers be at ease, it's a moment of amnesty for all wine drinkers.   Here's to you overly sweet, low acidity Riesling fans, and to you Two Buck Chuckers; thank you so so much for supporting our industry.
I'm young, both a hinderance and benefit when conversing on all things coopered.  I'm also tenacious about my love of wine, and that is something that I hope with both my age and my passion will be made contagious.  If you don't like wine, you haven't had the right one, and provided you confront me on this, I will help you see the light at the end of the bottle.  One of my biggest supporters and my faithful drinking partner is my loving godmother.  If you asked her what her favorite kind of wine was, she would simply reply, "the kind I enjoy".  I think we fall into some pit of clandestine tradition when discussing our personal joys, especially wine joys.  I myself find it hard to simplify my vino communications, and in doing such I get the reputation for somehow existing on some viticultural pedestal.  I'm not that special, I just get my word out.  I love wine, and I would lay down all that I have done to support it, if tomorrow I could fill the whole world's glass.  
Start the Revolution folks, its not too late.  We're on the cusp of something amazing, and with your help it can become as regular as 'after work drinks'.  Wine is for everyone, and it always has been.  Thank you so much for allowing me to pump my vine chatter into your eyeballs every few days, but more importantly thank you for allowing someone's beloved fruit to enter your palette.  To those of you who are already avid wine drinkers, I am your fan.


Heres looking at you, Chris..

This is an article that I find needs to be addressed, not only from this writers point of view but of my very good friend Chris, so, as it is his birthday here we go:  YOU DON'T TASTE WINE IN A RESTAURANT PRIOR TO POURING IT, TO FIGURE OUT IF YOU LIKE IT!!!!
Listen, I appreciate that you know what it means when a wine is corked; it's a buzz phrase that is as pervasive 'overly tannic', an association that I mention only because often the source is unnaware of what they are actually implying.  Trichloroanisole(TCA), the chemical compound responsible for tainting the wine, has effectively contaminated the cork and thereby ruined it.  The final product is something that smells like wet newspapers and that cardboard you swear one day you'll remove from under your front porch.  It's a fact of life, and it happens to more wines than you would think, so nothing is wrong the the establishment that provided sed bottle.  
If you encounter a 'corked bottle' or you think you do(that's what us wine stewards are for) then by all means send it back.  We don't like to serve you something inherently faulty, and unlike sending back a steak, will take great pride in fixing your experience.  Here's where the problem arises:  You don't taste the bottle to see if you LIKE IT!  The purpose of sniffing your vino is to make sure it's not "off", not good.  Most wines that you spend decent 'coin' on are good; it's possible like all human relationships, that you aren't compatible.  Our job is to introduce you to 'good wines', and your job is to enjoy yourself.  It is in that vein that I say this; "It doesn't make you less of a wine enthusiast to not like a wine".  There are wines that I am not fond of, but that doesn't make them less important.  I'm struggling to like Pinotage(A blend of Censault and Pinot Noir), but droves of people cherish this little South African gem.  It makes my skin crawl thinking of the number of times my servers have come back to me with a perfectly good bottle of wine that someone felt entitled to refuse.  It's not your fault, you thought otherwise, and that's just life.  However if you have read this article, consider yourself advised.  
I love you guys like family, and this is just my way of saying, "Please respect these wines I so cherish".  Like children, all wines need a home, and like all causes they take all kinds.  Do I like Boones Farm?  Lord no, but I know that someone out there does, and maybe one day they'll step up and swing away at something better.  Try it, and in the spirit of my own example-setting, I'll drink a Pinotage tonight.