Thursday, April 15, 2021

Climate change is harming vineyards

 All of us grapegrowers are noticing changes in the climate--we see it right on our grapevines. 

France was just devastated by a vicious 1-2 punch: It was 90F there recently (too warm, too early) and the grapevines were budding out in response, and then a severe freeze (down to 22F, too cold, too late) hit the vines. That sudden chill killed the new growth, despite heroic efforts to light smudgepots in entire vineyards. This affected all the major French wine regions. It will lower grape production by as much as half.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Drinking our wines at the correct temperatures

 Here's a good article on proper wine temps for drinking.

The old saw "drink your white wines cold and your reds at room temperature" was mostly correct before we had air conditioning and refrigerators and efficient home furnaces. Now, that old advice causes most of us to drink white wines too cold, when they're still asleep. Let them warm to about 50-55F or so, and they open up with their best bouquets and flavors. Similarly, when a red's drunk too warm, you may lose its nuances and only notice the alcohol. Best temp for a red is 60-68F, with maybe the sweet spot around 64 or so.

Here in the PacNW, with the outside weather cool on most days, it's not too difficult to reach good drinking temps. Just notice the weather and set a plan. And get the most from your wine!

(photo credit: istock)

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Limoncello! The right way I hope.

 WARNING re the online Limoncello recipes:

I'm going to make Limoncello, as the $30 version from Total Wine was so bad we couldn't drink it, and I can make it for about $10/bottle. As usual, I spent hours reading dozens of recipes and testing the recipes' conversions and calculations. About 80% of the online recipes are fatally flawed because the author doesn't understand alcohol calculation (and ends up far too high or far too low in the desired ABV), or is otherwise not in possession of basic facts. One describes Everclear (PGA) as "120 proof" whereas it is 190--if you plug 120 into the calculator, you're ruined). Others vary so wildly on the alcohol-syrup ratio that many of those recipes are flawed--there is a little margin depending on the style you want, but not that much margin. Traditional LCs are 28-32% ABV, and you need that much alcohol if you want to store the LC in your freezer and not have it freeze solid.

So I've made up a recipe and will try it this week. Ask in about 3 months how it went! PS-Don't even start unless you use organic lemons (inorganic lemons are waxed and have pesticides, both of which will be in your drink once the alcohol infusion is done).

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

2016 Cayuse Camaspelo wine review: Oh what a bad wine this is

 There is one thing to like in this wine: It has olive notes. But it's still a fairly poor wine, because you need much more than olives to make a good wine.  Please don't waste your money on this. Parker and Suckling gave it 94 points, but at just six years it hasn't aged well. I suspect if those critics were on truth serum, they'd have trouble scoring it in the 80s now. It's actually difficult to drink. It is so stridently different from any well-made Bordeaux blend that it's almost painful. By straining a bit, I could give it a "C." Meaning, 75 points. Save your money! There are THOUSANDS of good wines costing much less. Why pay into the Emperor's Got No Clothes? 

In fairness, Christophe Baron makes some very good wines, but you have to hunt for them. It's a poor strategy to just buy everything he makes. I finally wised up to that wisdom, and backed off-I only buy the superb Bionic Frog now. That is the ONLY wine made by Mr. Baron that performs well on the resale market. 

I say this too often perhaps, but it's essential information: Anyone can overpay for wine. It takes no skill. Do you really want to play in a game where everyone pretends that a wine is good, when it sucks? I wish I could've sold this bottle in the auction market, but the buyers understand that this is not a very good wine, so I had to drink it. Shame on me.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

2015 Horsepower Sur Echalas Syrah - Review

 First, this is a well-made wine. I can see how it received 98 points. But I hated it.

I think that, as wines are made from grapes, and as grapes are a fruit, wines should taste like fruit. There is no fruit in this wine. But it is a fascinating cornucopia of aromas: Bitter coffee; bitter chocolate; blood; spam. Problem is, I don't like any of those things. That's why I don't like this wine. 

California wine buyers must agree-I couldn't sell this profitably at auction, so we opened one to drink, instead of selling it. Man, was it painful. I could not drink it. I know Christophe is an artiste, but I wish he would allow his wines to taste like winegrapes.

My grade on this wine: The bouquet is A+ but the palate is D-. Not a very good use of $140.

Update 2 days later: The wine is marginally better--I can even sense a faint hint of some slight bit of purple fruit--but it is so bitter on the palate that it's not drinkable. This winemaker has made many supremely wonderful wines, but this one is a failure in the mouth, where the bouquet is so wonderful that perhaps this product's best use is as perfume, not for drinking?

Thursday, January 14, 2021

My Secret Squirrel was almost a bad wine

 2015 Secret Squirrel Cab Sauv: $27 retail. The appeal is that this is made by Corlis and Tranche, from the same fruit that goes into their $50-$100 wines (I don't personally now that bit is true-I found it online). Various online tasting notes are quite effusive, but this wine didn't do it for me. It's a lovely inky dark purple, but has no bouquet (if it has any, it's just alcohol). The Palate seems silky at first, which I appreciate, but later there's just no "there there." I swirled and splashed it, hoping it would wake up, but no dice. It's just bad. It's dead. Don't waste your money. I bet they knew there was something wrong with this wine, and they resorted to pushing it out into the market using an alternate name that wouldn't harm their primary labels' reputation. Not necessarily a smart plan. Two hours later, in the glass, it's still dead. Ugh.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Let's save Charles Smith's reputation!

 LOL. Tonight I opened 2014 El Jefe Tempranillo. 95 points Robert Parker and he nailed it, though I predicted (after tasting and before checking scores) 96 points, as Jane is my witness. This is so smooth, so big, and it's in my wheelhouse with lovely non-black-fruit flavors of purple berries and iron and bull's blood. The oak is lovely. Lots of complexity. I'm a fan! This is a $55 wine that is worth it!

Climate change is harming vineyards

 All of us grapegrowers are noticing changes in the climate--we see it right on our grapevines.  France was just devastated by a vicious 1-...