Sunday, May 22, 2005

D'accord, nous n'allons vous montrer aucun vin francais!

A man and his wife came in to the shop yesterday, and the wife described to me what kind of wine she was looking for. "Something cool and refreshing, and a little sweet, but not too sweet," she said. Considering that most people who amble in can no more describe what they want then they can explain chaos theory, I decided she was savvy enough to try something besides cheap American reisling. I immediately thought of a Cabernet D'Anjou Rose that I had, so I took her over to it and began to describe it to her. She was convinced it was just the thing, and had it in her hand, when her husband came over and said, "Yeah, uh, can we maybe find something similar from another country?"

The wife shifted her feet and mumbled, "Oh, yeah, we're not drinking French wine." she said; and as she looked over the bottle disappointedly, the husband grinned stupidly.

And what did he say next?

"Yeah, well, I'm usually a liberal, but I really love O'Reilly. He tells it like it is."

Oh, for fuck's sake.

Okay, look: if you think that echewing French wine is a sufficient statement of Patriotism, you go right ahead. After all, nothing will stick it to those surrender monkeys like turning your nose up at Cotes Du Rhone. That'll show that bastard, Chirac! Once he sees the great decline in French wine sales, he'll wring his hands, lamenting the day he ever crossed the Mighty Bush.

Chances are, your Yellow Tail swilling ass never laid lips on a decent French wine anyway.

I'm always tempted, at the risk of joining the unemployment line: So, hey, you are obviously a sincere American Patriot. Tell me: did you vote in the last election? No, not the one for the President, the last local election. The one about the smoking ban? And the community college? No? Well, what about this: can you name your congressperson? How about your Senator? Your mayor? Will Wynn? Hey, that's right! Easy name to remember, right? How 'bout this: how many seats are in the US Senate? The House? Don't know? Hmm...okay...well, what about this: when was the first time you decided to boycott French products? Please don't tell me it was after you read this article from July 2004, where O'Reilly shames his readers into complying with his idea of a Patriotic boycott by pointing out all the ways that Chirac "block(s) efforts by the USA and Britain to bring stability to former dictatorships and make it more difficult for homicidal terrorists to operate".
Do you really believe that Chirac was all up in his office, wringing his hands with a villanous smile, thinking, "How can I make sure that stability in Iraq never comes to pass? How can I make sure that homicidal terrorists continue to operate?" Give me a fucking break.

But I rant digressively. My point is this: if you think you're doing your patriotic duty by giving a local wine merchant sass over French wine, you're---how can I say this politely?---full of unfathomable amounts of shit.

Wine in your local store has already been purchased. By eschewing it, you're sticking it to your local retailer. If you want to do something Patriotic, try some of these less convenient but vastly more useful ideas:

1) Keep yourself informed. This means taking the time to glean truth from several different credible news sources, not just the Fox Network, CNN, America Left/Right Radio, the Daily Show, or your favorite personality guy (Bill O'Reilly, Al Franken, or whoever).

2) Vote in your local elections. You know, the ones that 'don't matter'? It's your duty as an American, stupid!

3) Volunteer your time. Food Pantry, AIDS patients, WTF ever. Make a difference, Talk Boy!

4) Understand the Other Side. If you only listen to whichever talking heads agree with you, you don't know jack shit. And don't listen to their talking heads, either. Talk to real people you work with, live next to, that think differently from you, and HEAR what they say; shut your arrogant, all-knowing cake-hole and LISTEN.

Goodness me, but I digress again. Here's a link to check out on the controversy of America vs. France, and how long it's gone on:

For a rather engaging adventure into the French winemaker's spirit, courage and cleverness during the Nazi occupation, read 'Wine and War' by Donald and Petie Kladstrup.

Now, drink your Minervois and STF up.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Yadda Yadda Yadda: 2003 Ca' del Solo Big House Red

I'm going to be honest. I've been wanting to buy this bottle for a couple of weeks now, but was afraid that my husband would laugh at me. He's not a fan. But I've had a secret love for the Bonny Doon wines for a long time, ever since I was given a bottle of Heart of Darkness, adorned with Ralph Steadman's handywork. Not only did I think it was beyond the coolest thing conceivable to drink from a bottle thus adorned, but I liked the wine...not because it was really tasty, but that it wasn't. It was a perfect expression of the promise of it's name. In other words, if you were actually reading the Robert Conrad novella, this was precisely the wine to drink while doing so.

If you visit the Bonny Doon site, you quickly learn that their concept is not about producing comercial contenders. Their goal is to "champion the strange, esoteric, ugly duckling varietals of the world", and to experiment. I love that. I don't think it's a journey every wine maker should take, but I'm damned glad someone is. I like that they think of the chemistry of wine as their playground, rather than something that must be harnessed and mastered. I'm also glad that they've found artists and marketing strategists that are on-board with the concept.

This wine is by no means exemplary of what the Bonny Doon boys do. The Big House line is probably the most well-known and commercially successful of their products. However, true to their promise, this kitchen-sink red is stuffed with every conceivable varietal, both conventional and not-so:
Viz (???)
Petite Sirah
and last but not least, Malbec.

You might wonder aloud, "Well, hell, if they just swept up the floor and threw it all in, what difference do all these grapes make?"

I'd have to answer: not a whole lot. But still, it's a friendly enough little wine under ten bucks. I wanted something soft and fruity (another justification for grabbing it), and here's what I got:

Rustic and tucked in on the nose, it is soft and amiable on the palate, with restrained but slightly savory, grapy fruit, decent acidity, and soft tannins. Not great, but not bad. I'd put it in the pizza wine category, and might even be suckered into getting it again because the etched, stylishly colored label is so effing cool.

Okay, I'll resist. There are bottles I like far better for the under-10 category. But I have not yet done with this Bonny Doon business. I'll report back as I discover more of their juice.


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Two Hands Reisling Pic

Not bad. Not baaaad at all. Posted by Hello

Friday, May 13, 2005

Two Hands, touching my body

I love this winery like Jesus loves to preach. Their wines are classy and full of personality, their packaging is engaging, the price of their wines are, with a couple of exceptions, fair for what they offer.

2004 Two Hands 'The Wolf' Reisling

"If Columbard is the guy in the cheap suit,
Sauvignon Blanc is the prize fighter who is over after the third round,
Chardonnay is the snob in the cravat,
Semillon the man in the Velrco shoes,
Viognier the guy with the good-looking sister,
Chenin Blanc the fella you never care to remember,
the Reisling is the wolf in sheep's clothing."
(back of the label)

I made a special trip to work yesterday to get a taste of this from the vendor who represents it locally. He always manages to schedule his tastings on my day off, but when he brings a Two Hands, I gotta be there, and I'm never disappointed for having made the extra drive.

The Two Hands winemakers are really good at making the very best under less-than-ideal circumstances. In a great Clare Valley vintage, this wine would probably have been a complete knockout, but in June, the weather became rather hot, causing problems with Reisling fruit.

This reisling struck me as a wonderful food wine. It has a beautiful, vaseline-tinged viscosity, and ample acidity, although the fruit was rather restrained. It's still a tight wine, but you can just make out some of the recalcitrant pear/flower nose, especially after it's warmed up a bit. The palate fruit was citrusy, sometimes white watermelon rind-y, over a touch of petrol, and the mouthfeel was lucious. I wondered if, with a little time, this wine would relax. It's really classy now, but if it opened up some, it would be a very sassy lady indeed.

The only thing that bugged me was the retail on this wine. It was a very special wine, but it's going to be a challenge to convince the wine consumers around here to spend $32 on it, especially since I think it needs some time. People 'round these parts are wont to spend their bigger chunks of cash on Cab, Cab, Cab. Always with the Cab! Very few come in who recognize the worth of other noble grapes, and whites? Forget about it (see last blog entry for an extreme example).

There are a couple of other of the Two Hands that I've tried, and I've been very, very happy for it. Shiraz can either be a toothbrush killing fruit bomb from hell, or it can be lithely muscular, elegant, and full of individuality. I love the latter, and think Two Hands delivers it. As I'm lucky enough to try others, I'll report back.


Saturday, May 07, 2005

A fine 'wop' wine

If you're here, then you don't need to know this, but I've changed the URL to: for your convenience. Or, actually, for mine.

OMFG, you will not believe what some people say to me at my wineshop. Okay, so this scrawny Westlake jackass comes up to me and says: "Yeah, I'm a red wine drinker myself, man. I don't go for that white crap, that stuff's for the ladies. My wife loves that Pinot Grigio stuff, and she's got a bunch of her little friends coming over, so can you point me in the direction of the wop wines?"

I ask you, gentle readers, how can someone stand there and show their ass like that without one singular dot of dignity? What in fuck makes this guy think this is an acceptible question? All I could muster was a befuddled "" and a gesture in the direction of the Italian section. Otherwise, I would've been collecting unemployment.

So, in honor of my gimme-cap sporting dickless moron, I offer one of my latest favorite white wop wines:

2003 Benito Favaro Erbaluce di Caluso

This is a beautifully golden juice with citrus rind on the nose, light bodied with zippy acidity, and flavors of grapefruit, lemon rind, green melon and minerals. Perfect with the herbed tilapia the Hub just cooked up. Retails for around 20 bucks or so. Definitely worth it; you can pay less for an Italian white, but you're not gonna get the magic.

Okay, I got to eat my din-din, or the Hub will be miffed. God Bless all wine-making wops!