P.S. I Love You kicks it Dark & Delicious

P.S. I Love You: Dark & DeliciousYou can walk up to any wine-o-phile and ask them about the wines that they love the most and they’ll probably toss out some famous name from Napa, Sonoma, Bordeaux, Burgundy or what have you.  But if you were to pour them another glass, compliment their good looks and expound upon their precise palate, you might just find that they’ll open up a bit more and tell you about their “pet wines”: wines that they seek out and which light their face up whenever they successfully discover a new one.  One of my pet wines are none other than the true Pet, ie. Petite Sirah.  While a professed fan of cool climate, balanced wine I can’t help but fall over my feet (before AND after) whenever I spot a Petite Sirah within close proximity of my glass hand.  It is with this in mind that I’m foaming at the mouth at the return of PS I Love You‘s Dark & Delicious annual Petite Sirah fest at Rock Wall Wine Company, Alameda CA on 02/18/11.

P.S. I Love YouThe Lady and I attended last year at the kind invitation of organizer Jo Diaz and were overwhelmed at the quality and number of wines available and equally so at the amount of quality food that was thoughtfully paired by many of the extended Bay Area’s best restaurants and chefs.  Hear me now…many wine events proclaim the food and nibbles that are available at their events and some actually pull off some good matches.  PSILY:D&D takes those proclamations and stares them down while munching on a Kobe beef slider and slugging back some powerfully structured Petite Sirah: YesThe food is that good.  Pair that shizzy with some slammin’ wine offerings that prove Petite Sirah is a fantastically fun grape with which to make wine and what?… yeah, to drink!

So come join the Lady and I at this year’s PSILY:D&D and prove me right!  Deets below.  Cheers!

P.S. I Love You: Dark & DeliciousDark & Delicious Wine and Food Event

Rock Wall Wine Company

2301 Monarch Street, Suite 300, Alameda, CA 94501

“If you live in the Bay Area, PS I Love You’s Dark & Delicious Event provides an amazing food and wine experience. It’s on Friday, February 18, 2011, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. This year the event is returning to Rock Wall Wine Company in Alameda. With 45+ preeminent Petite Sirah wine companies and 30 fabulous Napa and Bay Area restaurants and/or food caterers, there’s nowhere else that you can have this much fun, food, and wine for only $63 per person. Free parking, no gratuity!”

DISCOUNTS for GrouPieS and Designated Driver available upon request. Call or Email. GROUP PURCHASES for eight (8) or more people available.

Note: Due to the nature of this event, please note that all ticket purchases are non refundable.

Minimum Age: 21, Kid Friendly: No, Dog Friendly: No, Non-Smoking: Yes!, Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!,

A Grahm of the Bonny Doon

Bonny Doon VineyardEarlier this month, the smashingly charismatic founder and leader of Bonny Doon Vineyard (Twitter) wrote an article that got me thinking…again. Randall Grahm (Twitter) is as much a household name as can be found in the wine biz, as the founder, longtime winemaker and quixotic leader of the alternating huge and boutique Bonny Doon winemaking endeavors over the decades.  Part devoted vigneron, part Biodynamic cheerleader, part shaman and part brilliantly funny and educational writer…it is difficult to try and put Grahm in a box. Indeed, if you were to try, he’d probably try and find the best, most neglected grape variety in which to grow in that shaded box.  One thing that cannot be said about Grahm is that he isn’t willing to risk everything in order to find the best place to grow the best grapes.

So, what was this article that got my mind running and my palate thirsty?  First off, a description of Grahm’s writing style is in order:  You can find more footnotes than your average college textbook of his seemingly random pop culture, classical and modern music, Latin and/or philosophy references in each piece…or even paragraph.  Yet each reference really does connect perfectly with the overall flow of each essay and while filled with whimsical puns at each turn, tie together the web of intellectual, seemingly disparate thoughts which Grahm is intending to legibly secrete from his darting mind.

His writing is so renowned that he recently released an anthology of his many wine parodies, essays as a self-commanded “terroirist” and a major proponent of Rhône varietals of wine over the last 30+ years.  Been Doon So Long is a fascinating read and one that, while challenging for the intellect and vintellect, is a hugely entertaining and hilarious tumble through the ups and downs of now 31+ years of winemaking in California (I received a signed sample copy).  Been Doon So Long by Randall GrahmGrahm does not humor dullards nor the stupid people of the world, yet he is also very humble and at times consumed with self-doubt, all of which is reflected in his writings over the years to his wine fans and club members.  Having the fortunate chance to chat with Grahm after his induction into the Vintners Hall of Fame for 2010, I’ve happily learned that he is much the same in person as he his in his writings.  All of his various forms of writings are included in this compendium including poems, essays, stories, speeches and much of the most provocative artwork that has been featured in his newsletters and on his highly unique wine labels.  I highly recommend opening a bottle of one my fav’s, the Bonny Doon flagship Le Cigare Volant after purchasing the signed tome and kicking back with some very engaging wine writing.

It is with this history of wine making and writing that I can now explain the stimulation which I received from Grahm’s latest article on his fine book/blog vinthology site that is also called Been Doon So Long (and well designed by WineLog’s own Jason & Kim Coleman via their Stranger Studios arm). His latest post, The Bee’s Knees, touches on the recent sale of his former wine property Pacific Rim and an update on the slow development of his dream vineyard in San Juan Bautista.

[winebadge id=”57289″]

It is within the comments for this post that I came across a reply of Grahm’s that included a tidbit about the challenges that will surround their use of dry-farming the SJB vineyard – namely that the little vines will need to their roots to dig 600 feet before comfortably finding a consistent water table!  OldWorldWK - WKBadgesThis small statement, replete with some juicy biology geekiness, set my mind wandering…can grapevine roots really reach 600 feet!? No way, I thought and I eventually wandered over to other parts of the interwebs.  Not even a few days later, I happened upon a fascinating article about the Croatian wine renaissance in the Jakarta Globe and there they detailed vines whose roots exceeded 200 meters in depth!  I tweeted over to Randall that my disbelief was unfounded and yet another interesting wine fact was filed into my humbled brain.  It’s continually heartening to find that not only am I the only one that geeks out on the smallest bit of wine info, but that this tendency has been repeated in others throughout history, including those in my own wine backyard.

Check out many of the wines in WineLog from Bonny Doon Vineyard in the list below and let me know your favorite wine made by Randall’s busy hands in the comments below.  Cheers!

Bonny Doon Vineyard:

[winelist query=”Bonny+Doon” num=”20″]

The Broke Wino Looks at Value Bordeaux

A new vinopanion of mine, Sam Klingberg, has been making waves in the vino writing webernets over the last year or so with his wine blog, The Broke Wino.  Sam contacted me recently to gather my thoughts on affordable Bordeaux wine.  As one of Le Wine Buff for Enjoy Bordeaux for the CIVB, I have been involved in a lot of great Bordeaux-centric wine activities over the last 1+ years, including a truly spectacular trip to Bordeaux this past summer.

The dichotomy between the high prices of First and Second Growth châteaux and the remaining thousands of much more affordable, yet still high quality wine producers and châteaux is a hot topic.  With the declaration of “vintages of the century” at least 3 times this decade alone combined with the increasing Asian markets, the prices of the high end Bordeaux have skyrocketed. Happily however, quality has also taken a great leap forward, all across the board.

I sent the thoughts in quotations below over to Sam and he combined some parts with some great recommendations from my fellow Buff, Megan Wiig for his own article on this topic.  Take a gander at my thoughts below and let me know your own thoughts in the comments.  Then jet over to The Broke Wino for Sam’s outstanding article, “Value Bordeaux is Not an Oxymoron.” Cheers!

Ward Kadel@drXeNoLe Wine Buff:

I think that one of the things for which Bordeaux has taken a lot of heat in the last few 10 years has been it’s seemingly regular pronouncements of the exceptional quality of each vintage since the truly great 2000s. The wolf has been shouting much to much this past decade and the wine writing field, wine social mediasphere and the general populace have all grown jaded with each new declaration. Looking at both sides, I think the Bordelaise have been very busy at tooting their own horn, yet I can’t deny that there has been a significantly large number of very good to great vintages in Bordeaux over the last decade than we’ve ever seen in modern winemaking history. Taste the wines for yourself…there are very few, broadly speaking, bad vintages in the “aughts.” But the arguments over whether these claims are hyperbole really don’t matter…it’s the wines that do, yo!

2000, 2005 and 2009 are deemed some of the best vintages in the last 110 years for Bordeaux. Whether the high end wines are good, great or epic doesn’t matter for the average consumer, but value or Quality to Price ratio does (QPR). When you’re strolling your favorite wine store or even down the vino section of your local supermarket, remember that these vintages don’t just mean that the $50-$500 wines are the shizzy…that quality extends all the way down to the $6 wines as well. This means that wine that would easily qualify for the first label of any given chateau is now relegated to their much cheaper second label; quality that can be had at a very affordable price.

Yet, regardless of vintage there are thousands of producers in the various AOC or sub-appellations of Bordeaux. The big classified Growths of Bordeaux get the press, but usually the true quality can be found in the smaller, unclassified producers that would be lovingly called family-run boutique wineries if they were here in the US.  Zingy and citrusy $8-$15 whites from Entre-Deux-Mers, minerally, balanced and complex reds from the Graves and juicier, fresh-tobacco driven red blends from the newer Pessac-Léognan AOC are all wines that throw down awesome QPR for any vintage, below $35 and usually less than $20. But honestly, this is just me talking, right? Go out and try some for yourself and see if you agree. Cheers!

Château Haut Guillebot, Bordeaux

As Le Wine Buff for EnjoyBordeaux.com, I am paid a nominal fee for most of my participation.  I also receive free wine samples and my participation on this trip is courtesy of the CIVB.

VinTank Deals Wines from the Vines

Deals from the Vines - Facebook Group - VinTankCrazy-smart wine biz innovators VinTank (Twitter), have successfully launched a new route on the Direct To Consumer (DTC) superhighway with their Deals from the Vines Facebook Group (DFTV). A relatively new feature on Facebook, closed Groups are an elegant yet simply powerful new component of the social media behemoth.  VinTank has seized upon this new feature to form their version of the popular flash sales site phenomena that has taken over the interwebs during this Great Recession.  While many of these sites have proven to be quite the boon to the budget-conscious wine consumer, they are not always so profit-friendly to the wineries, chateaux, Bodegas and Quintas that have participated in the various sales.  VinTank’s DFTV has already effectively smacked that paradigm with vigor, creating a sweet win-win for wino’s and wineries, alike.

While VinTank Chief Strategy Officer Paul Mabray (Twitter) has laid out the concept quite nicely on their blog, his Tumblr and even on the airwaves at Wine Biz Radio (Twitter) with DFTV moderator (and new VinTank alum) Peter Alig (Twitter), I will drop the simplest knowledge: wineries agree to sell an allotted amount of wine with super crazy dealness (1 cent shipping or 50-65% off, etc) and promise to ratchet up some seriously cool interaction within the group and in return, group members get to partake in the sales and chat directly with the winegrowers.  The wineries are charged no fees/percentages for their participation and VinTank takes no part in the transactions.  It’s really that simple.

A couple current and past deals are listed below.  Wanna join?  Friend me on Facebook (or find me on Twitter) and I’ll add you, straight away. Cheers and happy holidays!

Deals from the Vines wines “DVTV“:

“DEAL #16: 2006 Marita’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Release Celebration.

2 cases offered only. 50% off wine and 50% off shipping. Expires when sold out.”

#WKBadges - NewWorldWKMarita’s Vineyard Napa Valley Select Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Color: Garnet/brick core with garnet edges

Nose: Savory herbs here with bright red fruit, dark black fruit lurking and baking spice and toast.

Palate: Bright and cool black fruit in the fore, with more baking spice, sweeter red cherry and fine tannins in the mid with good acid. Finishes juicy, with lurking toast and a sweetness to the red fruit.

SOMA Napa Valley Limited Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

“DEAL #7: 2006 Twisted Oak Winery Tempranillo.

Here are three bottles of our delicious 2006 Calaveras County Tempranillo for just $49.95 – that’s 30% off of the regular price and shipping is included!”

Twisted Oak Calaveras County Tempranillo 2006

“DEAL #4: 2005 James David Cellars Eagle Point Ranch Syrah.

As a Deals from the Vines member, enjoy 33% off the 2005 with shipping included on 6 or more bottles! Suggested retail: $24. You pay $16.”

James David Cellars Mendocino Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah 2005

Deals from the Vines - Facebook Group - VinTank

The Mutineer Magazine Holiday Comedy Festival

The Mutineer Magazine Holiday Comedy FestivalThose loco wit’ the cake kids at Mutineer Magazine (Twitter) have rounded up some holiday misfits and done it again: set the stage for yet another massive blowout of fine beverage festivities!  Ever resourceful in the comedy department (witness Editor & Loco Alan Kropf’s (Twitter) brilliant 2010 American Wine Blog Awards presentation (sort of) alongside compat Ben Morrison (Twitter)) The Mutinous crew has assembled an A-List of comedians to entertain your mind as your palates and gullets are treated to a regular bevy of fine beverages.

The tasty drinks provided in quantities surely above any 2 drink minimum, will be  courtesy of Don Roberto Tequila and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards (Twitter, WineLog), the awesome location for this event.  I had the pleasure of visiting Jacuzzi and tasting their well-made Italian varietals back in 2008 on the Pops & Son 4th Wine Trip.  Good stuff and a beautiful Carneros AVA estate.  The lineup of guests include Jonathan GoldsmithNatasha Leggero, Bryan Callen, Ben Morrison (of course), Daryl Wright, Greg Wilson and Ben Gleib.

A Child's RightYou can also feel pleased at the end of your laughing, libidinous night, as proceeds from this event benefit A Child’s Right (Twitter), a leading global water relief organization.  Mutineer Magazine has been a great supporter of this organization, publishing a regular column by Executive Director Eric Stowe, covering his travels and work to provide potable water to urban children around the world.

I will be in attendance as an Official Blogger courtesy of the magazine (says so in the right column of my blog, ev-en, check out my Mutineer article, too). So be there, wear blue and laugh until you’re, well, blue.  Cheers and full deets below!

What: The Mutineer Magazine Holiday Comedy Festival

When: Saturday Dec 11th, 2010

Where: Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

How: $35 per person