Monday, November 30, 2015
Friday, November 27, 2015
Yes, I know Petite Sirah is usually big and bold, exhibits deep, inky pigmentation and is redolent with robust chalky-tannins, but I had no idea that this wine varietal could age so well. A well made and balanced wine ought to age gracefully (if cellared well, of course), but unfortunately this is not always the case. Still very fruit forward, and with a lovely spiciness, this wine did not betray its age, it was simply fantastic. And it paired wonderfully well with our dinner of Beef Stroganoff.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
There aren't a lot of places in the San Francisco Bay Area that sell Necco Wafers, in fact I have never seen them for sale anywhere local. I bought this packet of Necco Wafers in a petrol station in Utah on one of my trips there. Necco Wafers are made by the New England Confectionery Company, (the oldest candy company in the United States and founded by Englishman, Oliver Chase), and a roll of Necco Wafers contains eight different flavours. I'm thinking that it is a combination of five of those flavours, specifically clove, cinnamon, wintergreen, licorice and chocolate, that may be responsible for a cheap glass of red wine smelling like a candy/sweet.
Each one of us will have different descriptors for wine depending on our individual life experiences. Apparently, Vinomaker and I associate certain aromas and flavours with candy/sweets from our respective childhoods. Considering that one's sense of smell is more closely linked with memory than any other sense, it is not surprising that certain smells can evoke particular memories. I may not be exactly sure how that all works, I'm just glad that it does.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
I went to three different supermarkets, but there was not a bottle of Barefoot Zinfandel to be found. Each store carried a different selection of Barefoot wines, including; Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon blanc, Merlot, a Rich Red Blend, a Sweet Red Blend (perhaps wanting to steal Conundrum Red's market share), Pinot noir, Pink Moscato (ouch! Just typing that makes me wince), Pinot grigio and a White Zinfandel (erm, no thanks). Undeterred, I finally found the Zinfandel in a CVS drugstore - for $5.00. Five, dollars, people!
In the same section of the Register it was reported that Wine Spectator had recently named their No. 1 wine of the year: a Cabernet Sauvignon from Peter Michael Winery (Sir Peter, actually), the 2012 Au Paradis (Oakville AVA). Incidentally, just in case anybody is interested, the Au Paradis garnered a 96 on the Speculator's scale.
Do these two wines have anything in common? Yes, both wines are wet, red, Californian and alcoholic. However, one of these wines would set the consumer back about $160 - $180 (if you could even find it, which is highly unlikely), and the other is currently a fiver at CVS (though, almost just as hard to find if my experience is anything to go by). And how did the Barefoot Zinfandel taste? One would be justified in expecting this wine to taste fabulous, after all it won Double Gold at the '2012 Ultimate Wine Challenge'. (Please, don't get me started on the merits and demerits of wine competitions.) This perfectly quaffable wine proved to be very fruit forward with an abundance of sour-cherry, a slight ripe-raspberry component and a nose-pleasing pepperiness. Vinomaker commented that the nose reminded him of Necco Wafers, a candy from his youth. Although a tiny bit low on acid for my liking, and with perhaps the faintest suggestion of residual sugar, I nevertheless ended up pouring myself a second glass.
WWRPD, or think? No matter, it's a fait accompli. And besides, I don't really care.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
The Parkerization of wine, especially Napa Valley wine, is not a new topic. Nevertheless, my wine marketing instructor started tonight's class with a video; 'Robert Parker's Bitch' (written and directed by Tina Caputo in 2009), which elicited an enquiry from the back of the classroom, "Is it about his wife, or his dog?" Titter, titter.
The video was interesting and was, appropriately, more about marketing than anything else, and fittingly contained an appearance by my instructor, Paul Wagner. The classroom discussion that followed was rather thought-provoking. I may deride the 100-point system, (and the so-called millennials may regard the system as a dinosaur from their parents era), but unfortunately the system still wields a lot of clout among distributors who often won't even consider adding a particular wine to their portfolio if said wine simply does not have enough 'Parker Points'.
Don't be sheep, people.
Monday, November 16, 2015
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Apparently, our instructor has it on good authority that the Sharks were simply "blown away" with all four student-presentations last week. How special. On a more personal note though, the powers that be at the college are seriously interested in trademarking my group's redesign of the college's wine label. From the comments my group received during both presentations of our business plan, I could tell that the new concept-label we came up with was a real contender for being considered as the new brand for Napa Valley College. Fame at last. Yea, right.
Monday, November 09, 2015
This Scrabble game has been a dramatization: do not try this at home.
Sunday, November 08, 2015
The amount of kitchen scraps that Vinomaker and I manage to produce never ceases to amaze me. I think that if we were to put it all the food waste that we put into the compost bin into the rubbish bin we'd quickly run out of space for actual rubbish.
Besides being good for the vineyard, I must admit that I like to observe all the goings-on in the compost bin: not in the least the antics of the red wiggler worms (Eisenia fetida). And I also find fascinating the number of things that spring to life in the dark of the bin; sprouting potato eyes, onion-ends, tomato seeds and even the single leaf of a ZZ plant (that I had tossed into the compost simply to dispose of it). It's like magic.
Composting is not without its dangers, however. This morning, after breakfast, I took a small bag of food items down to where the compost bin resides (behind the barn); bits and pieces of vegetables from last night's dinner, sundry coffee grounds and tea bags, and a few eggshells. When I lifted up the lid the first thing I spotted was a black widow spider luxuriating, full-stretch in her web across one corner of the bin - just where I had had my fingers. Never fear, madam has been composted into cobweb-heaven.
Thursday, November 05, 2015
It was all a bit chaotic and nerve-racking. The Sharks wasted no time in finding fault with some of the ideas being proffered, at times even interrupting the student-presenters mid-sentence (that doesn't happen on the telly). And some of the comments were really quite brutal, or, as the head of the Viticulture & Winery Technology programme, (a panelist himself), described them, candid. Ouch!
By the time it came to my groups turn (now down to just three bodies as our fourth member was away on a business trip), it was already after 9 pm. Last week I had made the decision that my group would present our business plan first. However, this week I definitely felt that it was in our best tactical-interest to go last. Standing at the front of the class, facing all the other students who now looked shell-shocked and tired, I knew I had made the right decision. By now, it was patently obvious that everyone just wanted to toddle off home and that included the Sharks.
That's not to say that because of the late hour that my group's presentation was not well received; once again, our business plan was the least criticised of the four and the Sharks absolutely loved our redesign of the college's wine label. One tiny criticism though, from the lawyer-Shark, was that the font on our blog was too small and it was strongly suggested that we look up somebody called Guy Kawasaki on the internet. In return, I suggested to Mr. Lawyer-Shark that he should have brought along his opera glasses.
Hopefully, I won't have to think about this midterm project, or swim with sharks, ever again.
Wednesday, November 04, 2015
The past few days have been rather cool, so tonight I gave in and fired up the wood stove: it felt good. It also felt like winter is just around the corner.