Getting Vertical

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Vertical:  To be upright. Wine does a lot of things to people.  It evokes joy, it livens your tastebuds, it might even make you melancholy.  It can also make you a little Sideways.  When last we saw erstwhile Miles and sidekick Jack in the novel Sideways (and the subsequent movie which while it’s one of my favorite wine movies ever, is not exactly true to the book…ok most movies aren’t but still.  If you haven’t read the book READ THE BOOK!)  Jack was married (perhaps ill advisedly) and Miles was reconnecting with The One – Maya. Now, several years have passed, and Vertical explores Miles’ life after Santa Barbara.  If you remember Sideways, you know that Miles has a troubled relationship with his mother.  Now aging and unwell, Miles has the unwelcome task of caring for her, and helping her move to another state so she can spend her final days with her estranged sister. Miles has tried and failed, and tried again, quit drinking, and is attempting to ride out the success of his now published novel, without much luck.  The demands of his publishes and commitments for press engagements are pushing him in  to a hole as deep as the one he was in when the book wasn’t publishable at all. Bring in Jack, who’s philandering ways and hard drinking habits have now landed him in hot water woith his now ex-wife. Both a buddy road trip story and a bittersweet look at the life of two middle aged best friends, Vertical explores the relationships of two friends, for good or bad, as they muddle through the difficulties of every day life, love, alcohol abuse and aging parents. Vertical is tragically sad in places, and hilariously funny in others, in a way sideways was not.  I find it much more real, honest, and open in looking at the realities of life. I can’t recommend this follow up enough, particularly if you read the book Sideways, and didn’t just watch the movie.  Vertical follow it up with the realities of fame, the perils of life, and how you balance the two. I’m thrilled to announce that Rex will be speaking in person at the 10th Annual Pinot Summit on February 25th in San Francisco.  After hosting a #winechat twitter session a few weeks ago, I find him engaging, self deprecating, humorous and absolutely delightful.  You can follow him on Twitter as well. I hope you can join us for this one of a kind event!  Tickets are $130 for a full day of Pinot tasting, educational seminars, and the Grand Awards.  Alternatively, you can opt for the Grand Awards tasting only. I am trying to do more book reviews now.  I read like someone from Freaks & Geeks, and occasionally I get press copies for review.  This one however, I bought for myself. Happy reading!  

Bottle Shock REVIEW

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Last night I was lucky enough (OK, so I paid) to attend the San Francisco premier of Bottle Shock as well as a modern day interpretation of the Judgment of Paris. Prior to the screening, we convened at Crushpad to taste 5 chardonnays and 5 Cabernet blends, to see if the current results would match or best the original 1976 tasting. At the same time, i wanted to present myself with a personal challenge and see if I could (accurately) guess which wines being tasting were French, and which were from California. First, my tasting results, as compared to the crowd’s popular vote at our recreation, and the results in 1976. First, my results: Chardonnay My Place Wine # Popular Vote Origin? 1st Wine 2 2nd France 2nd Wine 5 CA 3rd Wine 4 1st CA 4th Wine 3 France 5th Wine 1 2nd tie CA Cabernet My Place Wine # Popular Vote Origin? 1st Wine 6 but it was a very close battle with my 2nd place winner 2nd CA 2nd Wine 10 1st CA 3rd Wine 7 France 4th Wine 9 CA 5th Wine 8 3rd France   Now that you’re wonder what the hell these wines were, here are the actual bottles we tasted (and if they were tasted in ’76, where they placed: Wine # Wine Crushpad Result 1976 Result Origin Wine 1 2005 Gustavo Thrace 2nd (tie) – CA Wine 2 2005 Girardin Meursault Charmes Du Dessus Premier Cru 2nd France Wine 3 2005 Puligny-Montrachet Clavillon Domaine Leflaive Premier Cru 8th France Wine 4 2006 Chateau Montelena 1st 1st CA Wine 5 2006 Freemark Abbey Winery 2nd 6th CA Cabernet Wine # Wine Crushpad Result 1976 Result Origin Wine 6 2004 Freemark Abbey Winery Bosche Vineyard 2nd 10th CA Wine 7 2004 Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2nd France Wine 8 2004 Chateau Montrose 6th France Wine 9 2004 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars SLV 3rd 3rd CA Wine 10 2004 Ridge Monte Bello 1st So now that I’ve completely confused you – a question: Are palates demographically and attuned? It it in our genes to like particular wines, or is it what wines we have been given as we are training our palates? Now! On to the movie! First, let me tell you how important it is to be able to bring wine in to the movies, particularly if the movie is, well, about wine. Fortunately, the Sundance Kabuki has a wine bar with balcony seating, that allows you to order wine and food for your enjoyment in the theater. You might think that this is sacrilege, but what better to go with a campy soap opera treatment of the wine wars than a nice glass of wine & a nibble? They have done a great job revamping this San Francisco institution, and include soft liek seating with cocktail tables every two seats int he balcony. For all this cozy atmosphere, you only pay $1.50 plus food, which brings the ticket price to $11.50. Doesn’t seem like […]

Bottle Shock!

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Bottle Shock is about to be released! Picture it. Paris. 1976. Scions of the wine industry gather in Paris for the annual Judgment of Paris wine competition. In a blind tasting, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from France and California were pitted against each other, where, shockingly California won and changed the wine world forever. On August 6th, the film adapted from the book Judgement of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine by George Taber, opens to audiences here in the heart of California wine county. To help celebrate the 22nd anniversary of this epic victory for American wine, Crushpad is hosting a premier party to celebrate our victory over the French. Come celebrate with us by tasting a recreation of the Paris competition, and then join us at the Kabuki for a screening of the movie. Details to follow soon. You can watch the official trailer below for your entertainment!