#Vinopanion’s new wardkadel.com is live!

#Vinopanion: Domaine Chandon #wine

#thesunitburns

Well…the long wait is over!  If not for my fellow #Vinopanions, at least for my own incessant #wine cravings and the need to blast out my ramblings de vinos. WardKadel.com is finally live, as we are in the process of shutting down the long-running WineLog.net. With this relaunch, you will find more content combining my two passions of #triathlon & wine, as well as a newfound love of cooking and of course, the chronicles of our life in #Napa.

Indeed just last night, with the Lady (featured left in the vineyards of Domaine Chandon) in NYC for a fashion convention, I knocked out two very enjoyable recipes from Blue Apron, which has been a life-changer for me to finally learn and love to cook.

@BlueApron & #Beaujolais!

Cooking and first dinner (heh) was accompanied by the deliciously juicy 2015 Domaine des Quatre Vents Fleurie (review Vivino), from Beaujolais extraordinaire Georges Duboeuf. And since the journey of wine can never end (thank goodness, right??), I listened to my two favorite wine podcasts:

 

And so it with those two tasty #recipe‘s and these two brilliant wine podcasts, I will bid you adieu until my next Ward Kadel – #Vinopanion – @drXeNo post.

Vineyards of Domaine Chandon

Loving that #NapaLife!

¡Salud!

Pisco.

Yes, that there in the title is the name of a spirit…a SPIRIT!?  You ask such a question since I’ve never written about any spirits in the long history of Vinopanion, except for the occasional mention of Bourbon, after the previously enjoyed wine and Port, ahem, or something.  Yet, I am finally throwing down the spirit gauntlet (goblet?), and am excited to talk about the Peruvian grape-distilled spirit known as Pisco.  Yet, discussing the fine premium aspects of true Pisco does not put a slash across my wine-writing obsession, it merely adds to the annals of my vinous discovery.  For what is Pisco distilled from?  Come now…you must have guessed it by now: grapes!  Pisco is the national grape brandy of Peru and as such, is as highly regulated for quality and style as the finest and more widely known grape-distilled spirits found across the fine continent of Europe.

I was fortunate enough to receive a sample bottle of the very fine Pisco Portón (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube), crafted by Hacienda La Caravedo in Ica, Peru, courtesy of Pisco Portón.  The timing was fortuitous, Beth and I had just had another fine meal at the legendary La Mar Cebicheria Peruana (Twitter, Facebook) in San Francisco the week prior, and we were to have a Latin American/Iberian themed party at home the next weekend.  We tapped our good friend Jeffrey Sun, Proprietor of the respected Spoontonic Lounge in Walnut Creeek, CA to devise the cocktails for the night.

Pisco is a very old spirit, dating back to the early 1600s in what is now modern Peru.  There are four government-regulated categories of Pisco: Puro made from a single grape (their version of a single varietal wine), Acholado made from a blend of grapes, Aromáticas, made from a single Muscat-related grape, and the most highly regarded Mosto Verde, made from grape must that has not completely finished fermentation.  Only eight grape varieties are allowed in Pisco.  Pisco is also regulated on the appellation-side of things.  It can only be made from grapes grown int he 5 coastal valley regions of Moquegua, Tacna, Arequipa, Ica, and Lima. Hacienda La Caravedo is in the Ica regulated appellation for Pisco, and utilizes Quebranta, Albilla, and Torontel grapes for its Mosto Verde Pisco Portón.

Heff, as we like to call Jeffrey, took to the task of crafting tasty Pisco concoctions with the glee that one would expect from a talented bartender.  Before launching into the cocktail portion of our broadcast, we must try the spirit neat, however, in its native form.  The 86 proof, completely clear Pisco Portón has a very robust nose, showing some shared characteristics with a few of the ultra-premium Tequilas that I’ve had in the past.  The herbaceous aromas leap easily out of the glass, yet also show an interesting sweetness to that nose, touching on light vanilla and even a hint of peach blossoms and skin.  With this much alcohol on board, you can expect a full mouthfeel, but it barely leaves burn and has a nice roundness to it that also belies some sweetness in the mouth, with a more distinct vanilla, vanilla blossom, and further spicy white fruit on the palate.

Heff was getting antsy at this point, so we dug into his cocktails.  After some initial experimentation, there was one clear winner, happily dubbed The Elder Pisco:

1.5 oz. Pisco Portón

1 oz. St. Germain

2 oz. white grape juice

Splash of soda & fresh lime juice, & muddled mint

Serve garnished with slice of lime.

With a couple of these, we moved on to our Latin American/Iberian dinner and partied on into the night.  Pisco Patrón was an eye-opening spirit(-ed) experience, and one that we’re likely to repeat in the future.  Check out more info about this Pisco in the video below, from the master distiller himself, Johnny Schuler. Cheers!

[youtube width=”340″ height=”275″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XdwC8ZQbNs[/youtube]

#MFITV: 2011 Harvest Thoughts & the Quiet Winery

The 2011 Harvest is done.  It has actually been done for the Northern California wine industry for a few weeks, but I needed those weeks to digest all that I have experienced (and re-acclimate to my previous life), before I was ready to write this final post for Man Falls in the Vines#MFITV. Harvest is such a compressed, intense experience. It has proven to be hard for me to sum up in a somewhat, year-end post.  Despite such difficulties, I was able to complete my harvest insider feature article for the January edition of Mutineer Magazine, as well as their brand new Mutineer Magazine Beverage Trade Edition, also debuting in January.  All of this experience, hard work, and camaraderie demand applause and to be forever thanked for, however.  And after the jump, you will see all of the new (and one old) vinopanions that I made during those six weeks in Stags Leap, Napa at Chimney Rock Winery (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog).

Harvest at the Rock was a tremendous learning experience.  I feel as though I only knew a tiny bit about wine before embarking on my MFITV adventure.  Indeed, I only knew (some) of the consumer side of the story, 50% of the vinoquation (though I’ve got the imbibing part covered).  Once I began working in the winery and occasionally in the vineyards, I realized that I didn’t know hardly anything about the intricacies and craft needed to make a fine wine.  Each day was, at times, overwhelming with the large and small winemaking concepts that I was learning.  I eagerly accepted all of these new physical, mechanical, and intellectual learnings, with a giddiness that might have seemed a bit over the top I’d imagine, for my fellow talented cellarmates. I greatly enjoyed the physical labor aspects of the job, something that I rarely experience while researching cancer therapeutics in my day job.  I dropped 9 pounds and took a healthy 46 point chunk out of my cholesterol level, and gained quite a bit of upper body strength and muscle. Yet the best part of this entire wine adventure, as it always is for wine and myself, were the people and the relationships that I made and strengthened.

All of my fellow winery workers are crazy talented, beautiful, and deeply cultured and passionate wine workers.  I can’t thank them enough for willful sharing with me their knowledge, stories, passion, and most of patience, while I worked alongside them during the challenging and rewarding 2011 grape harvest.  Listed below are their photos and below that I have put together a short slideshow of some of my favorite photos that were taken during crush.  At the end of the video is a clip of the quiet winery, almost slumbering at the end of harvest.  The quiet that evening was almost shocking in its silence.  Thank you, Chimney Rock Winery.

Eddie Lona, Cellarmaster. The winery and cellar team are helmed by Eddie, who keeps us all in check and function with the appropriate attention to detail, all still with a sense of independence.

Doris Garrido, Cellarworker. A delightfully intuitive Latina with incredible strength built into someone so superficially small in stature.

Leo Almanza, Cellarworker. The papa bear with a penchant for asking any and all if everything was okay during a quiet moment.

Cindy Cosco, Cellarworker. An ex-law enforcement officer and already an accomplished winemaker for her own Passaggio Wines, working harvest to get a better grasp of red winemaking techniques

Rafa Alfaro, Cellarworker. The youngest of our group and a beacon of enthusiastic smiles and laughs

Jorge Leon, Cellarworker. The man from whom I learned the most in the winery, his advice delivered in a lighthearted, conversational way

Doug Fletcher, Vice President of Winemaking at Terlato Wine Group and former winemaker for the Rock, contributes his decades of wine experience, which have translated into some of the most innovative vineyard practices in the Valley.

Jeff van de Pol, Assistant Winemaker. A gruffer, mountain-man persona, yet willing to give his everything to anyone that shares his passion for the vine and its wine.

Elizabeth Vianna, Head Winemaker and General Manager. Elizabeth exudes the kindness and warmth of a den mother, filled with positivity and a measured excitement for all things wine and crush.

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvSjpkeyh7s[/youtube]

 

Follow all of my adventures during that crazy sabbradical, by keeping up to date here at Vinopanion and by following the #MFITV hashtag on Twitter. You can find even more content by checking out my Facebook.  The project also has it’s own photo albums on said Facebook, as well as on my Flickr.  Lastly, all of the videos are being posted at my YouTube channel.  Don’t be shy, I’ll add you to any profiles. ;-)

As a reminder, week 1 was detailed in my intro post, weeks 2 and 3 covered in my second post, and weeks 5 and 6 were detailed in my previous #MFITV post.  Lastly, my feature article about #Harvest2011 debuts in Mutineer Magazine and in the new Mutineer Magazine Beverage Trade Edition in their January/Febuary issues. Check them out and let me know if you have any harvest questions.  Cheers and a happy New Year to all!

Jet Bag Defeats AA at WBC11

I do a lot of traveling for wine.  Just the last 6 months has seen me pop up in New York twice and Charlottesville once.  Strangely enough, this means that I tend to accumulate a fair amount of wine during my travels (I know, cue the weeping and lamentations).  This does tend to present a Conundrum, however.  When one needs to fly these days, it tends to be very difficult to hide 750 mL of glass-encased liquid.

OK, but that’s fine, right?  I’ll just check my baggage with the bottle of red stashed inside…surrounded by all of my favorite clothes because I just went to NYC for the first time.  Hmm…not a recipe for success, especially as I watched the suplex being applied to my suitcase out on the tarmac.  Cue: the Jet Bag (Twitter).

I received a couple sample Jet Bags in the mail just under four months ago, from Spread the News PR.  I had planned to write a more extended article about this great product and was waiting for the perfect time to test out the Jet Bags.  Along comes procrastination WBC11 and I realize, bingo!  I always get a tons of vino at those awesome conferences, let’s bring them on the trip!  There’s nothing like a real life test scenario to well, realistically test things out.  Coming back, exhausted, from Virginia, I was subjected to American Airlines definition of flight-canceling weather at O’Hare in Chicago.  Never mind that no other airline appeared to be even delayed and my (slightly) discounted hotel for the few hours of no sleep night was mystified in regards to the supposed weather conditions (the Hyatt Regency O’Hare (Twitter) ROCKED, btw).  All this means is that my poor luggage was beat up much more than normal and most likely sweltering all night out in a non-temperature controlled warehouse somewhere.

All that said, after I got home for work and could unpack, I discovered that my fantastic sample of 2005 Tabarrini Montefalco Colle Grimaldesco Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG (garnering an OldWorldWK badge) Italian red was perfectly safe and insulated.  Very impressive.  And it’s actually the simplicity of this wine product that allows me to finish this article in way under 500 words.

Open the bag, place the bottle inside the absorbent, insulated bag, close the Ziploc and place it in your luggage.  Done.

I couldn’t be more pleased and thrilled to say that they’re also reusable.  Starting at $15 for 3, they throw down some good value. A complete win!  Check out their video of a Jet Bag in action.  Cheers!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZt5_5PrYTY&feature=channel_video_title[/youtube]

 

WBC11 Hits Virginia with Le Wine Buffs in Tow

2011 North American Wine Bloggers' ConferenceAt this point, my regular readers should know quite well about my participation in the cra cra known as the North American Wine Bloggers’ Conferences (Twitter, WineLog).  We’re coming up on the 4th in this great series, after the huge success in 2008, 2009 and 2010.  This year we’re invading Charlottesville, Virginia for our very first time plundering the wine life on the right coast (and East Coast wine bloggers rejoice).  The state of Virginia has been exceptionally supportive and I’m looking forward to learning a ton about 5th largest wine producing state in the Union.  Between the Keynote from Jancis Robinson (Twitter), the Virginia Wine (Twitter) Reception at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for dinner on Friday, another Keynote from Eric Asimov (Twitter) and the annual Vineyard walks in the local wine country, #WBC11 looks to be just as stunning a time as years’ past.

Le Wine Buff - EnjoyBordeaux.comThis year my trip is courtesy of the CIVB’s Enjoy Bordeaux (Twitter, WineLog) campaign, as Le Wine Buff.  We’ll be pouring two phenomenal Bordeaux during my favorite sessions at the conference, the Live Blogging Reds & Whites.  Fellow ‘Buff Erin McGrath (Twitter, WineLog) and I will be pouring the 2009 Château Le Gay Bordeaux Festival Rosé and the 2007 Château Edmus Saint-Émilion Grand Cru (which I adore).  Oh, and we’ll definitely have some more tasty Bordeaux to try during the annual Unconference, of course.

You can find our wines listed again below, as well as a growing list of wines after the Sponsors that I’ve tried at the conference as I get them up there, tagged with “WBC11” so that you can list them in your own WineLog.  So come find us at the event if you’re lucky enough to attend or follow our adventures online as we invade Virginia!

Le Wine Buff wines at WBC11:

2009 Château Le Gay Bordeaux Festival Rosé

Color: Strawberry pink

Nose: Tons of fresh juicy strawberry here with some slight citrus.

Palate: Crisp and easy quaffer, this also has great strawberry and orange peel

on the light to medium palate.

 2007 Château Edmus Saint-Émilion Grand Cru

Color: Darker ruby core, medium ruby edges

Nose: Loam, char and fresh cigar box here with bigger fresh anise and further darker fruits underneath.  Flint on the edges adds to the dried roses. Good.

Palate: Medium to full, with great fresh tobacco and flint to start off, then digs deep into dark fruit and anise to complement the medium fine drier tannins and juicier acidity.  Heads into great earthiness and more tobacco and char towards the long, black, cardamon finish.  Very good: KeeperWK, OldWorldWK.

All wines tasted at WBC11 (growing in real-time):

[winelist query=”WBC11″ num=”150″]