Oenophilia – An obsessive disorder or just a way of life?

Swirl, Sniff, and Spit with your friend, Patrick

Archive for November, 2008

Area 51…WBW…Madeira or not

I actually know nothing about aliens and what they might know about Madeira, fortified wines, etc.  But since it is Wine Blogging Wednesday #51, I pulled a wine out of my cellar that I had hidden away, out of public view: Rombauer VineyardsJOY – Late Harvest Chardonnay Carneros. The Rombauers – one of Napa’s royal families – are reknown for their chardonnay.  Not to say they don’t do a great job with all they produce, but I loved their Chard even before coming to wine.  The JOY is a barrel fermented botrytis Chardonnay that was picked at 45 degrees Brix at harvest, left with over 27% residual sugar and less than 10% alcohol.  Does this wine qualify for WBW #51?

Well, it’s not Madeira.  However it is oxidized and about as brown as iced tea!  Was this intentional?  I think not.  Should I have kept this bottle for about ten years?  Probably not.  It looks a lot more like maple syrup than the pale golden nectar I bought well before #43 learned the secrets of Area 51.

It is as viscous as syrup!  A beautifully complex nose filled with apricot, hibiscus, almond, honeysuckle, thyme, baked apples, and Meyers lemon peel.  The wine explodes on the tongue and coats the mouth like custard on the back of a spoon.  Overripe peaches and various nuts lead the flavors but are tempered by shining acids that have held on rather brightly around the honey and butterscotch.  As I would hope, a long, long citrusy finish that shows the wine’s Carneros roots.

While this wine – or any late harvest chardonnay – would not be my first selection off of a restaurant list, I do like it.  The toffee-brown color frightened me at first.  Thoughts of Kaluha and Tia Maria frightened me; they are o.k. in cocktails, but not what I want to have with Foie Gras or stinky Stilton.  Nevermind.  The Rombauers consistently bring JOY!  But next time… I’ll have some Madeira, M’Dear!

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Cute Little Bottle!

So here I am, minding my own business, looking through our wine closet for something to drink with dinner.  All of a sudden, it jumps out and grabs me!  This cute little innocuous bottle that was standing on a shelf (ignored for Bacchus-knows how long) demanded to be consumed. I have no idea from whence it came.  A 375 ml, dark green, bottle that could best be described a portly.

Turns out my little buddy is from Villa Sparina in Dolcetto d’Acqui, Gavi, Italy.  The 2000 <<Bric Maiolo>> was imported by Domaine Select Wine Estates, meaning it could have been a gift from my old friend Jeffrey Meisel who I met when he managed the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant – Oh so many years ago.   Well in the end…Who cares where it came from? It’s open and in my glass now!

This Dolcetto is dark, blood red, just starting to show a little age on the edges.  Ripe plum, black olive, almond, and licorice all teased my nose really peaking my interest in what is to come. The mouth is just as interesting. Add other fruits like black cherry and red berries, and lavender to the mix with very soft chalky tannins rounding the mouth as the finish shows cedar and spice, a little tangerine peel and juicy acids that go long.

It paired nicely with my wife’s lovely Butternut Squash Risotto, but I could easily imagine it with Salumi or other savory meats.

WBC: What a Day! And that was only the 1st half day!!!

The 2008 Wine Bloggers Conference is in full swing in Santa Rosa – our BIG city here in Sonoma County.  Over 175 bloggers from around the country have gathered for a weekend of wine, conferences, wine, breakouts, wine, meals, wine, friendly competition, wine, live blogging, wine, presentatons, meet & greets, wine, a keynote…. and did I mention there is a lot of wine here?

We started off with a ride out to Kick Ranch, grower for a number of notable boutique wines. I got to meet up with some of my favorite bloggers.  That is a very interesting dynamic here.  Most of us only know each other in cyberspace.  We follow each others blogs, we read each others reviews, we are Facebook friends, and we follow each other on Twitter.  Now we meet at the top of a vine-covered hill in Sonoma County and read name-tags as we squint at faces to see if someone might resemble their avatar or profile picture.  Then we embrace like old friends.  Pretty cool.  I will post more on Kick Ranch in the future.

Then we returned to the fabulous Flamingo Resort to get started with the meat of the conference.  Joel Vincent, our fearless leader got the conference rolling.  Joel is an amazing man.  He took a community of disparate individuals that shared a common passion and enabled us to create a community that we call the Open Wine Consortium.  He holds it all together and pushed us forward.

For me, the main event was the Wine Blogging Live – speed dating – wine tasting event.  There were 16 tables of bloggers all plugged-in and hooked-up.  Winemakers came around to each table and had five minutes to taste us on the wines and to talk us up as we blogged, Twittered, recorded, or scribed about the wines.  Pretty wild ride!  I chose to review the wines on Twitter.  If you follow me as Oenophilus or subscribe to my OenoTweets feed, you can click on that name and get the reviews.  I think most of the bloggers were with me and loved this event. 

We finished this and went on to the Blind Tasting Competition sponsored by the Culinary Institute of America.  Tracy Dutton – Head Wino at Greystone, CIA’s Napa Valley campus – led the comparative, multi-leveled tasting.  I got bumped out in the very first round.  In my defense, I think my two samples got mixed up. No! Really! Hard to pick Gewurtz and Viognier out of the air and just label the samples opposite!  Anyways, the eventual victor was Doug Cook of Able Grape.  This was well deserved as he is one of the most amazing wine gurus I have met.  By the way, If you don’t have Able Grape on your toolbar or bookmarked or widgeted on your own blog/site…get busy.  When it comes to wine, “Google” is no longer a verb; AbleGrape is the word!

We then retired to the next series of tastings! Yes. More wine. The Winegrowers of Dry Creek plied us with some gorgeous wines from that celebrated Sonoma County appellation in their cute hospitality suite by the pool.