Height Matters (Exceptional Gigondas)


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Gigondas Dentelles de Montmirail

Smack up against the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range sits Gigondas, a former ancient Roman soldier retirement home area and Southern Rhône cru that, technically, contains more woodlands than vineyards. And that’s after a killer frost in the 1960s wiped out a good portion of olive tree plantings, ushering in a shift towards more vine plantings. All in all, Gigondas is about one third the size of its more famous, direct-competitor cousin, Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Terroir here is “like a layer cake,” noted Domaine Pierre Amadieu’s Henri-Claude Amadieu when I visited on a media tour last year. “A layer cake of limestone and clay, limestone and clay…” While Grenache is the name of the game here, there are a few main differences between Châteauneuf and Gigondas, excluding the fact that Gigondas’ slightly warmer climate has a tendency to make their reds even more powerful than CdP.

The entire Gigondas AOC has …

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Saint Gayan Gigondas 2014
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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For May 13, 2019


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I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
 
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

“Big Character” (Diving Into Rasteau’s New-Old Identity)


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Rasteau old vine 1

Well… I’m in the unenviable position of having to date myself.

Embarrassingly (not because of my age, about which I mostly don’t care, but because of my obvious lack of knowledge), I knew little about the Rasteau appellation prior to visiting it on a recent Rhône media jaunt, aside from the fact that it was the home of some bad-ass Vin doux naturel sweet wines (which were permitted under the Rasteau AOC since the 1940s). Ok, more like I knew nothing about the appellation outside of its VdN wines.

But the area has been making its dry red wines based primarily on Grenache, with Syrah and Mourvèdre playing heavy roles) under the Rasteau AOC for nearly two decades now, having been approved in 2010. That’s a long enough time that a self-professed wine pro type should have known something about it, but in the relative Rhône timeline is recent enough …

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Domaine de Pisan
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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For May 6, 2019


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I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
 
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

Southern Rhône’s Troubled Middle Child (Welcome To Lirac)


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Lirac stones
I can relate

Lirac has a bit of a troubled middle child syndrome on its hands. Being a middle child myself, I can relate.

Look at it this way: if I asked you to tell me about some killer Southern Rhône reds (which is 85% of Lirac’s output), you’re probably going to start waxing poetic about Châteauneuf-du-Pape. You might even mention Vacqueyras or Gigondas, which are offering up CdP levels of quality at about 30-40% lower prices. But Lirac? Not happening unless you’re seriously geeky.

The interesting thing is, the main difference between Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Lirac reds is… uhm… well, after touring the place on a 2018 media jaunt, I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Lirac is a small appellation of five villages that sits just on the other side of the Rhône river from its more famous older brother CdP. Like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Lirac gets a metric …

Lirac old vines
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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For April 29, 2019


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I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
 
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

It’s Spring, So Drink Some F*cking Tavel


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Tavel galet
Drink Tavel, or I’ll smack you upside the head with this galet!

It’s Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, which for wine writers means one thing: an inundation of Rosé samples and PR pitches. So I am here to remind you about the Southern Rhône’s answer to Rosé Spring Fever: Tavel.

You remember Tavel. It’s near Avignon. Wine has been produced there for centuries as a light-ish red. It’s one of the first Rhône crus, having become an AOC in the 1930s. It’s 100% rosé – 60% GSM, with a bunch of other (in typically Rhône-ish fashion, seemingly one billion) varieties allowed. It usually clocks in at 14% abv, and sports some of the deepest, darkest, sexiest shades of off-red in the wine world. It’s rosé with seriousness, versatility, and personality. It’s rosé that embraces its butch side. It’s f*cking great. And it’s a potentially endangered species: while there are …

Domaine la Rocalière Tavel Classique
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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For April 22, 2019


This post is by 1WineDude from 1 Wine Dude


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I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
 
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

Getting The Tables Turned On Me For WIN Advisor


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WIN Advisor 2019
image: Wine Industry Advisor
Tables have turned

Just a quick-hit today to let you know that I’m the latest victim subject of the
Turning the Tables – Interviewing the Interviewers” series over at Wine Industry Network. In those articles, Carl Giavanti (who, I must say, has the coolest glasses in all of the wine biz) flips the script on us journalist types, asking us the questions.

You can read my little TtT feature at the WIN Advisor website, if you’re so inclined (and so foolish) as to actually want to get inside of my head for a few minutes. We tackle topics such as recommendations to wineries when working with journalists, my most memorable recent wine tasting experience, whether or not I consider myself an “influencer,” why my postmodern writing style is sometimes the publishing equivalent of (bad) experimental jazz, and how to effectively de-feather a live chicken while driving …

“Sweet Lincoln’s Mullet!” (2019 San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge Highlights)


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I recently had the honor of judging at the 2019 San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge (now in its 37th year!), the results of which have been published, allowing me to share some of my thoughts on a few surprises that my panel had the good fortune of tasting during the competition. When I wasn’t feeding errant seagulls who begged at my hotel room window, that is. It’s a long story.

Sweet Lincoln's Mullet!

Anyway, seasoned 1WD readers will recall that I’ve been infecting the Stay-Classy-San-Diego-based Critics Challenge competition for the last few years, but this was my first time joining much of the same well-heeled, finely-tuned crew for the SD Challenge. I’m happy to report that the SD incarnation is every bit as fun and professionally-executed as CC, and I’m already crossing my fingers that I’ll be back next year. [ By the way, if you’re curious about how …

Sky sea-rat
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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For April 15, 2019


This post is by 1WineDude from 1 Wine Dude


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I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
 
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

We Now Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Features To Kick Your Ass


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Lately, I’ve been reserving this virtual space for featuring producers I have recently (ok, ok, more like not-so-recently) visited in-person, with my feet in tasting rooms, cellars, vineyards, dilapidated vineyard trucks, etc.

Today, however, I’m taking a short break from that feature run to turn your attention towards three items from the ever-expanding sample pool, all of which are exemplary examples of exquisite vinous fare, and all of which are perfectly capable of pulverizing your wine-guzzling ass in the best ways possible. Be forewarned, shiz is about to get very expensive.

Mouchao tinto 2013

2013 Herdade do Mouchão Tinto (Alentejo, $40)

One could make a very serious argument that this red is the finest produced in all of Alentejo, and maybe the world’s finest expression of the sometimes-maligned and almost-always-misunderstood Alicante Bouschet and Trincadeira grape varieties. I was converted to the chrch of Mouchão a couple of years ago, and happily …

Tamarack Cellars Twenty Annvrs Emerald Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley
Sibarita Sherry

Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For April 8, 2019


This post is by 1WineDude from 1 Wine Dude


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I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
 
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

It’s Good To Be The Princess (Azienda Vitivinicola Condé Recent Releases)


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Chiara Condello
Chiara Condello in non-princess mode

Chiara Condello grew up “ten minutes away” from Predappio’s Azienda Vitivinicola Condé, a place so picturesque – even by exceptionally picturesque Romagna standards – that it houses its own resort, which in turn houses its own restaurant in an area that’s nearly synonymous with Italian cuisine.

Condello’s father, Francesco, established this little slice of Napa-Route-29-in-the-heart-of-Romagna-wine-country in 2001, after retiring from real-estate finance brokering and consolidating nearly 80 hectares of vineyards (73 of which are devoted to Sangiovese, with a bit of Merlot and chardonnay making up the rest) from their previous owners.

Condé vineyards

The U-shaped Condé estate has 52 parcels, from which 7 wines are made, and boasts plantings dating back to the late 1930s on Spungone soils (sandy, sponge-like limestone rich in ancient seabed fossils) that date back a lot further (over three million years, to the Pliocene). In other words, it’s prime Sangio …

Condé vineyards 2
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Chiara Condello Sangiovese
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Condé Le Lucciole and Raggio Brusa
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Condé vineyard 3

Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For April 1, 2019


This post is by 1WineDude from 1 Wine Dude


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
 
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

Bless You, For You Hath Zin’d (ZinEx 2019 Highlights)


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ZinEx tasting

MS, MW, friend of 1WD, and exceptionally cool wine geek Doug Frost is not a man to mince words. As a media guest recently for the 2019 incarnation of Zinfandel Experience in San Francisco, I managed to catch up briefly with Doug, who had this to say regarding Zinfandel continuously being cited as the quintessential American grape variety:

“That’s utter bullshit.”

This is, of course, because Zinfandel is actually of Croatian origin, where it sometimes goes by the name of Tribidrag (which might also be the name of a character from The Silmarillion… I’m not sure). In the shorter-term history of American fine wine, however, Zinfandel does have deeper roots than most other grapes, Croatian or otherwise. As Frost put it, “back in 1961, Sonoma’s principal grape was Zin.”

ZinEx walk-around 2019
The wonderful Walkabout chaos of ZinEx 2019

ZinEx, for me, consisted of several tastings, both media-only and open …

Rock Wall Zinfandel Sparkling
Scott Harvey 1869
ZinEx 2019 Bedrock and Ravenswood
Ridge 2005
Pedroncelli Courage
Hendry Primitivo
Beekeper Rockpile

Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For March 25, 2019


This post is by 1WineDude from 1 Wine Dude


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I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
 
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

If Wishes Were Horses… Or Dogs (Drei Donà Romagna Recent Releases)


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Giovanna Drei Donà
Giovanna Drei Donà (& 1 of 10 dogs)

While Giovanna Drei Donà “hates” technical questions about wine, she is fond of horses; maybe more fond of horses than her children Ida Vittoria and Enrico, the fourth generation who have helped to run the winemaking operations at the picturesque Drei Donà estate now owned by her husband Count Claudio Drei Donà (who focused on its thirty hectares of land and its ‘La Palazza’ farmhouse, constructed around a fifteenth century watchtower, as a passion project after retiring from law in the 1990s).

Drei Donà’s wines are named after their several horses (after visiting during a media tour, I think that their ten or so dogs might be jealous, given their propensity for barking in seemingly coordinated protests), and she readily admits that she recalls the births of the horses “more than the birth of my sons!” Drei Donà’s horses earn their …

Drei Donà view 1
Drei Donà gate
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Drei Donà Pruno 1992
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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For March 18, 2019


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I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
 
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

And Then There Were… Five (Tenuta Casali Recent Releases)


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Silvia Casali
Silvia Casali

What gives one the impetus to isolate yeasts, experiment with, say, cumbersome large barriques, and pursue crafting world-class Sangiovese in a region best known for bulk wine? Probably having regional winemaking in your blood.

That’s the sense that one might take away from a visit to Tenuta Casali, in Romagna’s Mercato Saraceno, where Silvia, Francesco and Daniele Casali now work with the previous Casali generation, Valerio and Paolo, who themselves took over in the late 1970s from grandfather Mario, who farmed their alluvial, stony, and white clay soils since the 1940s as a grower. So there are five family members now involved directly, doing all of the normal family-winery stuff while also attempting the aforementioned experimentation/fine-tuning, and yet I got the impression that things were running well enough, and personally did not notice anyone trying to kill one another while I was there…

Tenuta Casali view 1

Tenuta Casali sits astride …

Casali Valleripa
Casali cellar
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Casali Quartosole
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Tenuta Casali view 2