Sunday, March 23, 2014

Variety's the very spice of life

                               The Sycophant
Who waits to dress us arbitrates their date;
Surveys his reversion with keen eye;
Finds one ill made, another obsolete,
This fits not nicely, that is ill conceived;
And making prize of all that he condemns,
With our expenditure defrays his own.
Variety's the very spice of life,
That gives it all its flavour.
     -William Cowper, The Task (1785)--'The Timepiece' (Book II, lines 599-607)

Wine is an immensely diverse product. Flavors and aromas vary widely depending on grape cultivars, places of origin and wine styles. Wine quality and price is as diverse as the number of SKUs available on the retail shelf. The wine world is a wide world of variety - and that is a good thing. Wine's diversity, and those who cheer it on, should not be discredited as being "a losing path." Wine does not fit nicely into some Platonic universal. Every person tastes wine differently and every person has an idea of what Wine should taste like. Some people like big, bold wines while others prefer light, delicate wines. Some drink only red wines, whereas others only drink white wines. Some only drink wines from a specific place, others explore the vast universe of fermented grape juice. Being able to choose to drink a wine from the United States of America, France, Italy or any other country is something that should be celebrated. Being able to choose from a variety of styles not expected from a specific place is also something that should be celebrated. Pleasure seeking through wine should also be celebrated, but so too should the idea that wine can offer more than just a party in your mouth.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tasting Turley Through Haiku

Last week, Christina Turley was in Colorado to lead a series of seminars showcasing a handful of Turley Wine Cellars' new releases. I've met Turley's winemaker Tegan Passalacqua and tasted a handful of their wines before, but this was the first time I was able to taste eight Turley wines at the same time. And yet, this tasting was just a glimpse of what Turley offers.
Turley Wine Cellars was founded in 1993 by Larry Turley after he sold his portion of Frog's Leap Winery to his business partner John Williams. Turley wanted to focus on zinfandel and petite sirah (though Turley spells it as petite syrah). After Larry's sister's, Helen, short stint as winemaker in the early years, Ehren Jordan held the reigns as winemaker for almost two decades. Tegan Passalacqua (who also is the co-founder of the Historic Vineyard Society and about to release his own wine brand, Sandlands, in the coming weeks) took over the title of winemaker in 2013, though for all practical purposes Passalacqua was the man at the helm since 2006. Turley now produces 34 wines from 38 vineyards across the entire state of California. In addition to this army of old-vine zinfandel and petite sirah, Christina Turley was instrumental in convincing her father, despite his less-than-delightful characterization of the variety and its fans in the past, to add a Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon to the stable."The Label" is marketed as an independent project and is meant to be a contemporary take on the classic Napa Valley cabernets from the past.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dr. Oldman on the Wine Writers Symposium

I was in Napa Valley two weeks ago for Premiere Napa Valley, but I was unable to attend the Wine Writers Symposium. Others have written a few accounts of what transpired during the workshops and sessions at the secluded Meadowood Napa Valley resort and spa. With not being there, I find it interesting to hear about the fun and informative events attended by a whole host of wine writers. I think it is pretty cool that simple bloggers, or people new to the world of wine writing, can hang out with established writers from Food & Wine, Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast as well as columnists from the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Wall Street Journal. My extern, Dr. Harry Oldman, was disappointed that I was not going to chime in on an event that I did not attend, so he asked if he could. I know I shouldn't let him post anymore, but he can be very persuasive...