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Tweet via CraigCamp

Date: Tue, Aug 2, 2011 Wine Tasting

CraigCamp (@CraigCamp) Fight the 100 point #wine score dictatorship: http://bit.ly/oB9s3s Thu, 28 Jul 2011 15:45:07

Sent via Osfoora from my iPad

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Tweet via CraigCamp

Date: Tue, Aug 2, 2011 Wine Tasting

CraigCamp (@CraigCamp) Fight the 100 point #wine score dictatorship: http://bit.ly/oB9s3s Thu, 28 Jul 2011 15:45:07

Sent via Osfoora from my iPad

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Tweet from James Suckling (@JamesSuckling), sent via Seesmic Desktop

Date: Sun, Aug 29, 2010 Wine Tasting

In what must be one of the more ironic Tweets of the year, ex-Wine Spectator critic James Suckling criticizes California wine for not aging well after almost three decades spent personally destroying the aging potential of many Italian wines.

Tweet from James Suckling (@JamesSuckling):

"The 1995 Ridge Montebello is sensational and the 1991 is not far behind. Who says Calif. reds don't age gracefully and wonderfully?"


(posted Sun Aug 29 18:43:09 GMT-0700 2010)

Sent via Seesmic Desktop - http://seesmic.com

Posted via email from The Wine Camp Blog

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The Burgundy Report

Date: Wed, Aug 18, 2010 Wine Tasting

Beaune Because I can – lingering over Beaune and its vines; premier cru by premier cru…

link: Summer 2010

If you’re buying Burgundy and not reading The Burgundy Report you’re a fool.

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A Gift

Date: Wed, Aug 18, 2010 Wine Tasting

So in a way, the 2006 Barbaresco by Produttori del Barbaresco is the financial crisis’s little gift to us: a wine that harks back to an era before the advent of Barbaresco’s Francophilia.

via Do Bianchi

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Do Bianchi on Big Beef and Big Critics

Date: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 Wine Tasting

This is a must read. Blogger Jeremy Parzen ruminates on the career of Wine Spectator critic James Suckling, while teaching us how to cook bistecca alla fiorentina.

There’s no two ways about it: during James Suckling’s tenure at the Wine Spectator, the scores he gave to modern-style Brunello — with Casanova di Neri as its poster child — helped to eclipse the sale of traditional-style wines,

link: The James Suckling era ends (and what we ate and drank for my birthday) Do Bianchi

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Porcini Pleasures

Date: Tue, Jul 13, 2010 Wine Tasting

That's $24 well spent you're looking at and my prize from this week's farmers market. Porcini mushrooms are the perennial World Cup Champs of the mushroom world for me. Their combination of firm texture with rich flavor is incomparable. As always when faced with produce of such fresh provenance, simple was the method of choice. Sliced (as you see) then sauteed in a lot of butter and a little garlic for a few minutes, I then added a few eggs for a slow scramble á la Mark Bittman. Preceded by a insalta caprese with a baguette from Bouchon to wipe clean each plate, I think it's hard to imagine a more pleasurable meal.

After an aperitif of the truly delicious Schramsberg Blanc de blancs, I opened a bottle of our new Oregon wine, the 2008 Cornerstone Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, and I can't say how thrilled I am by this first effort with our consulting winemaker there, Tony Rynders. Already heady with aromatics, but exhibiting not a bit of the fruit-bomb characteristics I can't stand, I think this is a really complex pinot with just the right earth, dare I say, touch of porcini, that marries so perfectly with the spicy, blackberry fruit of this vintage.

We only made fifty cases in this first vintage, but in 2009 made four hundred. I'm thinking of a September release - If I can bear to part with it.

Posted via email from The Wine Camp Blog

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Summer Arrives

Date: Sun, Jul 11, 2010 Wine Tasting

The first real selection of heirloom tomatoes showed up at the Napa Farmer’s Market this morning. For me that means my mozzarella fresca budget is about to go through the roof. More-or-less daily now through the end of the tomato season an Insalata Caprese will be the first course at dinner in our house. To me it is a perfect dish.

There is nothing simpler or more delicious to make. All it requires is:

  • perfect tomatoes
  • fresh, creamy mozzarella
  • fresh basil
  • fresh, vibrant extra virgin olive oil (hopefully as fresh as the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella)
  • salt and pepper

…and basta.

Learn to leave such a dish alone. Restaurants can’t seem to keep their hands off such perfection and add, add, add: ending up only subtracting and distracting. This is a lesson we winemakers should also learn. Sometimes leaving something alone requires more courage and attention to detail than doing more and more.

The problem with simplicity is there is nothing to hide behind.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from The Wine Camp Blog

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American Wine: The Locavore's Hypocrisy

Date: Fri, Jul 9, 2010 Wine Tasting

Link: American Wine and Locavore Movement, by Todd Kliman, author The Wild Vine – The Daily Beast

In an excellent article author Todd Kliman blasts American restaurants for their public devotion to buying local food, while snob-ily ignoring local wines. He correctly points out the superficial commitment to buying local by restaurants in Missouri, New York and Virginia, all states with vibrant wine industries and many dedicated and serious winemakers. When questioned by Kliman, sommeliers (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) noted under their breaths that the wines were not just up to their standards. That perhaps is flipped around as maybe it is the sommeliers, not the wines, that are not up to snuff as it is the job of the sommelier at a locavore restaurant to discover and offer the finest local wines to their customers.

While other American wine regions may be limited in the selections they offer to restaurants, the same cannot be said for West Coast restaurants. Certainly any sommelier worthy of the title could craft an outstanding wine list from the wines of California, Oregon and Washington. Anyone claiming they can’t is just not doing their homework.

Perhaps no more hypocritical example can be found than the famed Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame. Chef Waters can be found on national television constantly singing the praises of Slow Food, but one look at her wine list in Berkeley tells another story. I agree with Chef Waters that the vast majority of California wines do not match well with her food, but there are more than enough that do to provide her with an outstanding wine list. Toss in the wines of Oregon and Washington and she has no excuse.

Let’s give Chef Waters a break as Chez Panisse is a stones throw from Kermit Lynch’s wonderful store and Kermit’s exceptional wines can make anyone forget their locavore passions when it comes to wine. Certainly I cannot resist Kermit’s imported temptations myself. However, I am not on television saying the only way to eat and drink is by supporting local farmers. Winegrowers, it should be remembered, are farmers too.

Hard core locavore chefs in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco rant on about their local sources for eggs, cheese and meat, while their wine by the glass selections are more likely to be produced from vineyards 4,000 miles away. Hopefully someday locavore will be a term that is more than a marketing fad.

In Europe, chefs are locavores naturally, in America it is still a foreign concept. Oddly enough Europeans practice it, but don’t talk about it much. In America, we talk about it a lot, but don’t practice it well.

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Consumer Report?

Date: Wed, Jun 16, 2010 Wine Tasting

I received this PR release today:

“In the July issue of Consumer Reports, CR testers found four Chardonnays they rated “very good,” all for less than $10. One of them was even from 7-Eleven!”

Two things struck me. First was what must these people have done wrong to be forced to do a tasting of under $10 Chardonnay. Second was the image of the Consumer Reports team applying the same methodology they use to rate cars and stereos to wine tasting. This could explain the results.

In other wine judging silliness, the much hyped “NextGen” wine competition made Steve Heimoff’s day by making themselves meaningless by selecting Barefoot Moscato as their best of show. This either means that no winery submitted any serious wine (a possibility) or that the judges only proved how pointless these judgings are - regardless of the age of the judges. This “competition” was particularly embarrassing as it begged for samples with daily email barrages right up until week of the judging itself. Good luck getting samples next year guys. You must be happy to know that, like the results of the Consumer Reports tasting, your name will be on shelf-talkers in 7-Elevens, Walgreens and gas stations throughout the United States.

If you wonder what such judgings are about you only have to look at the Next Gen tasting website:

  • “FREE Gold Medal Wines iPhone App Listing!
  • Gold+, Gold, and Silver Medalwinners in the NextGen Wine Competition will receive a FREE basic listing on our exclusive Gold Medal Wines iPhone app, available on iPhone and iTouch. (We are also writing the app for Blackberry and Droid). NO OTHER WINE COMPETITION OFFERS THIS MARKETING ADVANTAGE!”

They are selling themselves to make a profit, judging the wines is only an brief inconvenience they have to deal with for a few days and hey, the judges are free. They get the wineries to buy in with their judging fees in the hopes of getting any kind of recognition. The wineries that enter carry as much shame as the people putting on the competition.

According to their website they had openings for 2500 wines. Let’s say all of them took advantage of the early entry “special” as listed below on their website. That’s $162,500.

  • “Online Special Through April 15th$65 early entry special (paper entries add $10)
  • 4/15/2010-5/31/2010$75 (paper entries add $10)
  • NextGen Wine Competition is proud to accept Visa and Mastercard for mail-in or fax-in entries. For online entries, PayPal accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.”

At least someone is making a few bucks out of these judgings. Too bad it’s not the people that actually make the wine.

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Date: Sat, May 29, 2010 Wine Tasting

$25, That’s right only $25 for a beautiful pinot noir. Nothing yet exists in new world pinot noir like the 2007 Cte de Nuits-Villages from Domaine Gachot-Monot. Pure and electric this is a wine that lifts both your intellect and the meal. Certainly this would be $50 if it where from Oregon or California. We have a lot to learn and need to be a little more humble as winemakers here on the west coast. What struck me was the almost compelling urge I had to have a third glass.

It’s a bit depressing to me that I’ve not figured out to make a wine like this in America yet, but I refuse to quit trying. In the meantime, drink this beauty over the next three to four years.

Not surprisingly, imported by Kermit Lynch.

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No 2006 Produttori

Date: Fri, May 21, 2010 Wine Tasting

Thor, a wine writer and blogger whom I greatly admire and an all-around mensch, wrote the other day to winemaker Aldo Vacca (left) inquiring about his decision not to bottle his 2006 crus. Thor was kind enough to share Aldo’s response and Aldo was kind enough to allow me to post it here.

Technical reason: 2006 is a very good vintage, but warm and ripe, lacking a little bit of the finesse and complexity to make a truly great S[ingle]V[ineyard wine] and yet preserve excellent quality in the regular bottling. We think 2005, lighter in body, has more fruit and balance, at least in Barbaresco and at least for Produttori.

Marketing: with the current economy we thought it more appropriate to produce a larger quantity of solid, extremely good 2006 Barbaresco avoiding a flooding of the market with too many SV wines, since 2007, 2008, 2009 will all be produced. Had 2007 or 2008 been bad vintages, we would have released 2006 SV, but since we have so many great ones, we felt we could skip one and stay on the safe side of the fence.

—Aldo Vacca

via Do Bianchi

It is perhaps difficult to understand what unusual act is being reported here by Thor Iverson (oenoLogic) and Jeremy Parzen (Do Bianchi). Here is a producer declining to make his most sought after and highest priced wines simply because being good is not enough. Also they are not doing this in some dismal vintage full of rain and rot, but from a vintage whose only fault was too much sun. This is the very type of vintage lauded as perfect by The Wine Spectator in 2000 and nearly so in 2003. Standards like this are almost unknown in wine anymore. When was the last time there was no Chateau Lafite, Screaming Eagle and so on? I think Aldo Vacca is doing much more than just staying on the “safe side of the fence” with this decision. Standards like this are why the wines of the Produttori del Barbaresco are true cult wines in a world of pretenders.

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The Pleasures of Youth

Date: Thu, May 20, 2010 Wine Tasting

The 2008 Vietti Tre Vigne is here! The Vietti Dolcetto Tre Vigne Dolcetto d’Alba is always on my every day favorite list. Explosively fruity, brisk, zesty and bright. It’s all about immediate pleasure - no waiting required. That’s why I’m always excited when the new vintage arrives as it’s never more fun to drink as when it’s a charming adolescent and, anyway, it’s a boring adult so waiting is not recommended. Maturity is for nebbiolo not dolcetto. In fact I’m already anxiously waiting for the 2009.

It’s always frustrating that we can’t seem to make wines like this in California. That’s something I have to work on.

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