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!  

Pinot – how do I love thee, let me count the ways!

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It’s Valentine’s Day today, and that means, roses, chocolate, and – yes!  Pinot Noir!  What better way to say I love you than to share the heartbreak grape with your sweetie. Personally, Pinot Noir is the wine that excites me the most, because of its mystery, and allure.  There are so many different styles and flavors in a Pinot Noir, and it’s a world in your glass!@ Do you want to learn MORE about Pinot Noir? On Saturday, February 26th, 300 lucky Pinotphiles will be able to attend the Pinot NOir Summit in San Francisco.  If you are thinking about attending, and you should be, I have a secret deal for you  just because you actually read my blog.  This deal is SO amazing, SO huge, SO fabulous, that you just can’t pass it up! Because it’s so amazing, i can only offer this deal to two of my readers – well really it’s four – because  here’s the deal.. You can get 2 tickets to the ALL DAY SUMMIT for the price of one!  That’s a $250 value for $125. Now, I know that seems like a lot of money to spend on wine, but look at what you get: A full day of Pinot Noir!  Starting with a blind tasting of the top rated juice from a long and arduous process (yeah well I was a judge, such hard work), test your buds against pros, panels, and pinotphiles.  Vote for your faves!  We will find out what women liked, what men liked, and what the judges liked at the end of the day. You also get your choice of two Pinot Noir workshops.  This year we have: Session One New World Pinot Noir A Question of Style Discovering New Stars Session Two Oak and Pinot Noir…Getting it Just Right Pinot Noir, the Most Versatile Wine on the Planet Winemaking 101 But wait!  You thought I was done?  Nope.  You ALSO get a Sparkling Wine Reception, to see how Pinot Noir behaves under pressure. And then, the GRAND finale – the 9th Annual Pinot Noir Shootout Grand Awards Tasting with top Pinot Noir winemakers showcasing their wines. Includes a pinot-friendly selection of light hors d’oeuvres. SO if you want to take advantage of this deal, post a comment here and let me know WHY you really want to go and should get this half of deal.  HURRY though!  I only have two to offer and I know it’ll be popular! I can’t wait to hear your comments!

A little vertical

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I walked by the TWELVE Wines tasting room in McMinnville, OR last Labor Day weekend, but didn’t get the chance to pop by since we were on our way to meet my dear friends from Republic of Jam, Lynnette & Amy. As luck would have it, I was contacted by their PR rep, and received samples of the 2005, 2006, and 2007 Pinot Noir 144 to taste.  Yay!  Twelve Wines is a family owned winery in the Yamhill-Carlton area of the Willamette Valley AVA in Oregon, where they have 11 acres of Pinot Noir planted. First up, I opened the 2005 Pinot Noir 144 after a long day of spring cleaning.  Sipping away in a long bubble bath while reading about Spain, I really enjoyed the boldness of the wine on a cold San Francisco day.  the trick with bold Pinots is that they don’t really evote a Pinot Noir feeling however.  This wine is 50% Pommard clone, 17% Wadenswil clone, and 33% 115 clone.  It was 100% destemmed, and fermented in 50% new French Oak for just shy of a year.  This was a big Pinot, with flavors of cranberry, dark strawberry and rich raspberry with some strawberry jam, with huge cherry pie filling.  I detected a bit of cola nut as well as some strong dark plum characteristics.  I’d TRY this if you’;re curious about the area, but you might save your money for the later vintages.  I enjoyed this wine, but prefer my wines from Oregon to be a bit more Burgundian in style, and not so much Santa lucia highlands.  there was an unexpected smoke to this, and it was way to full bodied for my expectation of Oregon. In contrast, the 2006 has a much higher acidity and a lot more zing.  This is somewhat surprising given that 2006 was quite a warm year in the willammette and the ABV is over 14%.  There were a lot of bright cranberry, hibiscus, and raspberry flavors, followed by a touch of violets and spice rack, with some root beer and bark, and a touch of vanilla.  It was much lighter than the 2005, but stil had a medicum body with crisp acidity.  I think it was great with food and would BUY it if i found it on the shelf. As luck would have the wines kept getting better and better.  nowing that, for hte most post, Oregon is known to have the best vintages in odd years, I was looking forward to the 2007. I certainly was not dissapoitned as this was my favorite of the three by far.  It was was classically burgundain, iwth lovely acidity and bright red fruit.  The spice notes were earthy and forest floor, and it was simploy a lovely example of what I love about Oregon wines.  big bright red cherries and a touch of nutmeg were clearly present, but it almost tasted older than an 07, in the very best way.  this is a MUST BUY for me and is still affordable for this quality […]

Pontificate your passion!

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Passion for pinot that is.  As a judge for the 8th Annual Pinot Noir Summit, on Feburary 27th, I am able to offer you my dear readers a 20% discount off of the ticket price. click me I hope you will take advantae of this offer, and join me in San Rafael in two weeks for a day of Pinot Passion! Please make sure you have images enabled in your email program to see this email properly. Google

Can I ask you a personal question?

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Why are you so in to pinot!  I mean it’s like a thing for you. Yes, that is a line from the movie Sideways, in which Pinot Noir played a central character, and yet, it is so true in my world.  For me, Pinot Noir has a certain j’ai n’est c’est quoi, that certain something that you cannot put a name on.  It has an allure, a mystery, that cannot quite be explained with worlds. Pinot is so diverse.  Yes, you can probably say that about many varietal(as my friend Randy pointed out recently) but Pinot in particular has such a wide variety of styles, even within a small growing area.  There are hundreds of micro climates that influence pinot, just as the fog influences the weather.  Pinot Noir is grown around the world, and varies greatly.  And yet, it’s made from the same grape.  Are these wines different?  Are they the same?  Is there a commonality you can find?  All of these things inspire me to seek out new pinot noirs. This Passion for Pinot, leads me to return to my favorite stomping grounds in the Russian River time and time again.  It also leads me to spend a LOT of money on Pinot noir, and to attend every Pinot tasting I can including Pinot Days, the huge tasting at Ft. Mason, and the Pinot Noir Summit.  This year, I was delighted to be invited to be a judge for the Pinot Noir Shootout, which is where we, the panelists, tasted literally hundreds of entrant wines for final voting and inclusion in the Finals at the Summit.  BOY oh boy were there some interesting wines during the judging!  There were good, there were bad, and there were down right scary.  OF course, there was also the sublime and the occasionally off wine, which is to be expected in any large tasting. The time has come to put our judges hats (and taste buds) to the test at the 8th Annual Pinot Noir Summit, presented by Affairs of the Vine, on February 27, 2010..  As a wine consumer, you can bring your taste buds along to taste what we taste and make your own decisions on the winners and losers. This is a rare opportunity for you to taste the top wines blind, and vote for your favorite.  An added feature is that we tally the votes by male / female, in an effort to see if gender effects taste. If you saw my post on last year’s summit. you will see that not only do the gender of the tasters matter, but the judges and the public also had different opinions. That is part of the fun of these events – you can fancy yourself a wine judge for a day!  In addition, the Pinot Noir Summit offers some world class seminars on Pinot Noir.  This year, some of the topics are: When Pinot Sparkles! Sparkling wine is traditionally made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and / or Petite Munier.  Taste some examples […]