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An Eventful Friday – Sparkling, Port, Radio Talk Show and more

December 7, 2014 10 comments

Writer's Block Cabernet FrancAs you probably noticed, the number of posts on Talk-a-Vino is down very significantly. There are many reasons for that – different workload from my day time job, few time consuming projects we tackle at home, and of course the plain familiar writer’s block. Yep, the writer’s block – when there is lots running in your head, and you have a great difficulty to put something out on  the “paper”. I tried to address the last one using the wine, I would hope specially made for such an occasion – the wine called Writer’s Block and made by Steele Wines in California. I first saw this wine mentioned in the blog I follow, called Mrsugarbears, and as you might see in my comment to that post, “Must. Find. This. Wine” was the first thing I said. I found the wine, and I got the Cabernet Franc and Grenache to try, out of the vast variety of the wines under that “Writer’s Block” label (you can see the full line of wines here).

We opened the 2011 Writer’s Block Cabernet Franc Lake County, California (13.8% ABV, $17) – it had eucalyptus, tobacco and fresh leaves on the nose. Palate was showing a medium body, tart blackberries, green bell peppers and more tobacco. On Friday, the characteristic cassis showed up, which made me happy while finishing the wine. Not sure it helped with my writer’s block, but I will gladly drink it again. Will try the Grenache next time. Drinkability: 7+

Let’s get back to that Friday. In the morning, the shipment of Horsepower Syrah arrived. I’m not sure how I managed to get on the list for this first release of super-highly allocated wine – but somehow I did, back in May. The wines comes from the legendary Christophe Baron (Cayuse, No Girls), from the tiny vineyards in Walla Walla Valley, all farmed sustainably and biodynamically (here you can read more about Horsepower Vineyards).

Okay, so it is all great, but not my main point here. I got a shipping notice from UPS at the beginning of the week, and then I got shipping delay notice from UPS, saying that the wine would be delivered only on Monday, which would be a problem as I’m traveling again next week, and there would be good chance that nobody would be able to sign for the wine during the day. This is why the delivery on Friday was so exciting that I even decided to share it in this post. This was also the first wine I received wine in the nice wooden box – so here are some pictures for you.

The next event on Friday was a really a double pleasure. At the beginning of the week, I connected to the @TheVineWineClub on Twitter, and then I got a note about possibly joining a radio talk show about the wine. Really? Yes, I can talk wine, I actually love to talk wine, so I said that I will be glad to do it – and it instantly happened, right on that Friday. At 3 PM, I was a guest at the regular radio talk show called “Off the Vine Radio Show with Benita and Terricinia“, hosted as you can tell from the name, by Benita and Terricinia. The theme was about the sparkling wines, so to support the conversation I decided to open a sample which I recently got – Ferrari Perlé from Trento in Italy. I almost feel guilty talking about Ferrari wine just matter-of-factly – the winery was founded by the Guido Ferrari in 1902; he was responsible for bringing Chardonnay grape into Italy, and he can be pretty much considered a father of Italian Méthode Champenoise wine industry. Full range of Ferrari sparkling wines is nothing short of spectacular and again, it really deserves it own coverage in a separate blog post.

This 2007 Ferrari Perlé Trento DOC, Italy (12.5% ABV, $35, 100% Chardonnay) was absolutely delicious – fine mousse, delicate aromas of apple and hint of toasted bread, perfect balance on the palate – apples, yeast, toasted bread, acidity – just very classic wine, making you say “ahh” after every sip. Drinkability: 8+

And the radio show – it was fun all the way! Benita and Terricinia were great hosts, very knowledgeable about the wine, so we definitely had a fun conversation (I really hope I didn’t overstepped my boundaries by talking to much)! I’m not going to recite our conversation here, but if you got a bit of time, here is the link for you for the broadcast. And if you will actually listen to the program – let me know (honestly!) what you think.

And the last highlight of the day – Port and Madeira tasting!

The tasting was focused on the Graham Port wines, one of the oldest Port houses in Portugal. There were 4 different ports presented in the tasting. The first one was really special, produced in the total quantity of 500 cases (less than 300 cases imported to US). This port was produced as part of the “Six Grapes” line, but for the first time in more than 100 years, it was done using the best grapes from 2011 and 2012 vintages, which were both simply outstanding vintages (some are saying that 2011 was one of the two or three very best over the last 100 years), and this is something never done before. You can read the full story here. Well, for what it worth, here are my notes:

Graham’s Six Grapes Old Vines Port ($34.99) – young and aggressive. Needs some time to mellow down – it has a sharpness of young fruit which still needs some polishing when it comes to the Port wine. After a bit of the breathing time, will perfectly finish a meal.

2011 Graham’s Vintage Port ($75.99) – again, this is the port from the amazing vintage, so it needs a lot of time to develop. Young bright fruit, blueberries and blackberries, firm and powerful body, excellent balance. Give it a 20 years, it will show what it is capable of.

Graham’s 10 Years Old Tawny ($27.99) – delicious. Dried fruit all over – figs, apricots, touch of hazelnut. And I love the bottle’s look and feel – this is a new packaging for this port which I think makes the wine shine even more.

Graham’s 20 Years Old Tawny ($45.99 – great price!) – make it double delicious. More dried fruit, nuttiness all the way, extremely complex. Thought provoking and might make you forget all the world troubles if you will be left alone with the bottle. My favorite from the tasting.

Last but not least – Blandy’s Malmsey 10 Years old Madeira ($23.99 – an amazing QPR) – a bit of sweet fruit on the palate, lots of complexity between nutty and salty profiles – delicious all the way.

Here we are, my friends – one eventful Friday. Writer’s blog, be bone – I can’t deal with you. Cheers and have a great week ahead!

Paintball, Halloween and Writer’s Block

November 2, 2012 3 comments

If you are trying to figure out the connection between paintball, Halloween and writer’s block – don’t, there are none. I’m experiencing a writer’s block as I’m trying to create a competition entry about the Tuscan wines (if you remember, I mentioned that competition in the Wednesday’s Meritage last week). I passionately despise (yeah, see, I’m doing pretty well avoiding the heavy word “hate”) the fact that I can’t write a post about Tuscany, one of the most diverse winemaking regions in the world, so I decided ( as many times before) to share a few pictures with you, while I’m pounding myself on the head trying  to get the block out.

First, here are a few pictures from the friendly game of paintball which we played on Sunday (right before the arrival of the dear f…ing Sandy). My team lost all the games, but that is not important – we had lots of fun.

Our guns:

And here is me, first in the front:

and back (after the last “free style” round) – yes, it was painful, in case you are wondering:

Then after dear f…ing Sandy departed, we found ourselves super lucky ( knock on wood as many times as possible, still going), as our street didn’t lose power, so we managed to carve pumpkins and celebrate Halloween:

The Halloween dish (clearly influenced by the post from A Detailed House):

zoom-in:

And the pumpkins (kids had lots of fun):

May you never encounter writer’s block – and never experience the wrath of hurricane, even if it’s called by a cutesy name, such as Sandy.

That’s all for now, folks. I’m back pounding on that block. Cheers!

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Actually, a Daily Glass Post)

June 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Over the course  of last week, I found it almost impossible to write even a line in the blog. There is plenty of stuff to write about – Spanish Wine Festival, Bordeaux Vertical Tasting, many great wine encounters – and, nevertheless, not a line. Like someone turned the switch off. Until today, when I happened to share my frustration with my 12-year old son. He asked how my writing was going, and explained that it is not going well, as I can’t produce anything. Ah, writer’s block, he said, nodding understandingly. That’s it. As it often happens in my beloved Fantasy books, once you know the True Name of something or someone, you can control it. Here as well, once I managed to name my inability to write as a “writer’s block”, situation magically became controllable, and here I’m am – or to be more correct, here is the post, which I wanted to write before I will get to the couple of big subjects.

I wanted to talk about life lessons and tasting of the 2004 Chalk Hill Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon, coming from very respectful producer in Sonoma County, Chalk Hill. Why life lessons, you ask? Very simple. I pride myself with being a semi-pro when it comes to wine. One of the important traits of such a self-image (in my opinion, of course), should be an ability to take the wines objectively – even if I don’t like the wine, I expect myself to be able to declare that while the wine is not in my style, it is still a good/well made wine.

First sip of this 2004 Cabernet – and I don’t follow that “objective” rule even for a split second – I declare wine as not my style at all and also simply as not being a goods wine. Reason for such declaration? The first sensation I got on the palate was “burnt fruit” – this is not necessarily a standard term, but I use it to describe an over-ripe fruit flavor, which used to be very common in inexpensive Australian Shiraz. Therefore, after the first sip, I declare that I can’t drink this wine at all.

Now, talk about luck – I was actually lucky that the wine, which was opened during a dinner with friends, was not finished completely. Subsequently, I had an opportunity to finish this wine two days after the bottle was opened (bottle was preserved with vacuum pump). As you can see, the word “opportunity” was used to describe the experience, so I guess you can sense some change. Yes, magical transformation took place over those two days. The wine became incredibly elegant, with silky smooth tannins and very gentle, yet powerful mouth-feel. Classic Cabernet fruit flavors, such as black currant and blackberries were present, together with hint of eucalyptus and cedar, in perfect harmony with acidity and tannins. This was truly a magnificent wine, and I was simply upset with my inability to recognize great wine from the get go. Drinkability: 9

Oh well, I learned my lesson, and I also learned to control writers’ block (hope both statements are true). And I will have to prove that I did by not repeating these mistakes again. Of course you will here about it – through this exact blog. Until the next time – cheers!

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