Thursday, March 31, 2005

Solar Power & Wineries

The St. Helena Star published an article today about solar power and wineries; Ted Hall gave a talk on how places like Frog's Leap and Domaine Carners are using solar power to reduce air pollution and the total cost of energy consumption at their wineries.

This kind of proactive arrangement lends even more credence to the idea that supporting those in the wine business who wine put up on a pedastal, who cherish the tradition and history of wine is a worthwhile endeavor (historically, corporate consumers of the agriculture business have tried to lie low, shying away from the scrutiny of environmentalists, though that too has been changing).

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Youth & Wine

Tom at Fermentations just posted about offering wine to children, something I have had quite a few discussions w/other folks about.

It's hard to talk about the American attitude toward wine & children without talking about the history and tendency toward prohibition, a topic covered well by Johnson's recent post.

While I am in agreement with the majority of rational wine drinkers on the subject, the ferocity of the other side's seemingly visceral argument is striking. Take, for example, this article on it's as if the folks behind the site believe that the only reason people would allow a teenager
(and they're talking about folks 17 or 18 years old) a drink is because they're afraid of what the child will think of them. Frankly, if you're afraid your teenager won't think you're cool, you've got problems that go deeper than throwing a kegger. While they take a slightly more sober viewpoint in another article, their tone is still terribly forboding.

"We want parents to understand that underage drinking is not just kids being kids, or a rite of passage. It is a serious - even deadly - problem,"

-- Wendy Hamilton, president of MADD (quote taken from this newspaper article.

Well, obviously it is serious and can be deadly. But because it is serious, it should be taken seriously, not simply waved away. It's hard to imagine this argument sounding sane to folks in France.

There are countless articles (such as this one) suggesting that lowering the legal drinking age minimum would by itself reduce the frequency of irresponsible drinking among America's youth, but as is pointed out elsewhere, it's not clear that the legal restriction alone is responsible for misuse -- it's a multivariable problem, one for which is seems entirely irresponsible to lay out blanket statements for all children like "it's never safe for children to consume alcohol." Potsdam University published a great article on such logical fallacies.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Wine: Wilridge Nebbiolo

Nebbilio, Italy's "wine of kings", is the varietal responsible for Barolo and Barbaresco (a Barbaresco was recently reviewed on this site) and is just starting to peek its head out in the Pacific Northwest.

Wilridge Winery, a relatively small winery in a Seattle neighborhood, has among its offerings a Nebbilio whose grapes are grown in the Red Mountain Appellation. The Nebbilio di Klipsun is a great wine at a reasonable price.

A few friends and I had a chance to enjoy a couple bottles of this wine with grilled veal chops and a variety of accompaniments. It paired very well with the food, which was rustic and relatively simple.

Wilridge's Nebbiolio has a handsome red brick color, a surprisingly floral aroma, and a somewhat tannic astringency that begged for a few more years of aging. Two of us detected different flowers in the bouquet, but all agreed the floral aroma was a delight. The wine's attack (that is, its intial impact in the mouth) was intriguing: it played gently and cleanly with our palettes. The aforementioned astringency proved pleasant when taken with food, but perhaps a bit harsh for casual drinking. It's complex and subtle enough to demand your attention with each smell and each taste. We paid $20/bottle.

While I had planned on just tasting a bottle, we enjoyed it enough that we had to open another. When we started to open the third, though, we actually switched to tall boy PBR cans. :)

Value: 3.5
Color & Clarity: 3.5
Bouquet: 3.5
Flavor: 3.5

Monday, March 28, 2005

Wine: Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc

As I mentioned before, it's finally the time of year when we can start drinking our summer wines in their natural habitat: the sun. :) Although this Easter weekend has proven to be an ugly one in Seattle, we did have a few good weeks recently. More good weather is coming. I hope.

Joel Gott makes a very good Sauvignon Blanc in California (not the wine pictured). The 2003 vintage was excellent, with bright acidity, beautiful citrus bouquet with hints of melon, and is entirely free of oak. It's a beautiful, clear wine. At about $12/bottle, you can't go wrong with it.

The 2004, it seems, is made entirely of grapes from the Napa Valley and is going to a screw cap in a green bottle.

Value: 4.0
Color & Clarity: 4.0
Bouquet: 3.5
Flavor: 3.0

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Wine: Lano Barbaresco

One of the nice things about having lunch at a restaurant with friends is that it makes it easier to split a bottle of wine. Yesterday, a few friends and I had such an opportunity at a local Italian restaurant named Firefly. They have a website that makes me cringe and the food was hit & miss, but the wine we shared was surprisingly good.

Made by Gianluigi Lano, the 1998 Lano Barbaresco can be had a for less than $40 online and in my opinion is well worth it. Like any other wine I've had made from the Nebbiolo grape, it took some time to open up and probably would have benefited from having been open even longer than it was. The Lano was a delight to look at: beautiful brick red with an excellent gradient from the center to the edges.

It is definitely the kind of wine you can relax with, simply smelling its complex and largely floral bouquet. Barbarescos, in my experience, have a tendancy towards spice that this wine didn't -- while there was some notable spice in the bouquet, it complemented a scent of orange peel very well. The Lano was soft and the smell of dark fruits come out more clearly upon drinking. The level of oak was pleasant and it had a long, dry, clean finish. For the 1998 vintage, this wine is to me definitely a winner.

Value: 3.5
Color & Clarity: 4.0
Bouquet: 3.5
Flavor: 3.5

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Wine: Two Cheap Italian Reds

DeLaurenti's, an Italian specialty store in the Pike Place Market, always tempts its customers at the cheese counter with an array of cheap wine. Because the friend I was with yesterday hadn't chugged cheap Italian vino in a few weeks, we grabbed a few bottles to go with dinner.

The first one we opened, the Luccarelli Primitivo Puglia, was disappointing to both of us. A somewhat pleasant berry and vanilla aroma was actually overwhelmed by the spice and tartness in the mouth -- this wine could hold its own against, say, a strongly flavored tomato sauce or a beef dish accompanied by pungent cheese, but it could easily completely overwhelm a more subtle dish. The wine is reviewed favorably over at; I also paid $9.99 for the bottle in Seattle. This isn't a wine I would enjoy drinking without food.

The second we tried, Crinaccio's Rosso Dell' Umbria (2002), was much more agreeable. A Sangiovese/Merlot (80/20) blend, the Crinaccio is a soft, smooth and relatively well-balanced wine. The color is quite dark and pleasant; it's quite clear and attractive. The nose is full of plum and strawberry and has just a suggestion of cedar. It has a long after taste and while it clocks in at 14% alcohol, it would pair well with a rustic (perhaps grilled) dish with fresh herbs. I believe my next order of wine will include a few more bottles of this for evening grilling with friends. Like the Luccarelli, it goes for ten bucks a bottle.

The Luccarelli:
Value: 2.0
Color & Clarity: 3.0
Bouquet: 2.5
Flavor: 1.5

The Crinaccio:
Value: 3.5
Color & Clarity: 3.5
Bouquet: 3.5
Flavor: 3.0

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Wine Haikus

My friend Amy recently got my mind spinning on haikus after she told me that she comes up with haikus during her rather painful daily drive through Seattle's traffic mess. Haikus are incredibly deceptive little beasts -- at once very easy to understand and difficult to write well.

A post on eGullet suggested folks try writing a few haikus about wine and another eGullet member pointed out a wine haiku blog of sorts! Some of those are outstanding. I can't resist. I may even make a practice of boring folks to tears with wine haikus... though it would certainly seem a bit strange if not rude to spout one off at a tasting. :)

A Zinfandel grape
before the day, gone too young
a June coyote

Vines in need of care
tangled unidentified
no grapes, rain soaked buds

Oh, and what discussion about haikus could go without mentioning one of my favorite sites on the web: a random haiku generator (actually, there are many).

Wine: Valmiñor Albariño

Albariño, the white and largely Spanish varietal, has been getting a lot of good press lately but its prices remain quite reasonable in the $8-$20/bottle range. I tend to have a preference for them myself...

The Valmiñor Albariño is no exception. Its grapes are grown in the Rias Baixas region of Spain and a bottle of it goes for $11 or $12. Valmiñor has a slightly pale color, which is for me most attractive on a bright sunny day. It delivers an almost understated bouquet of peaches and citrus with a faint vanilla note. Its acidity gives it that thirst-quenching quality desirable in an outdoor wine and plays well with many foods; there is a pleasant if feeble mineral quality in the mouth. The Valmiñor is one of the whites that is really a pleasure to swish around in your mouth while you pretend to listen to someone talk. :)

On my first taste of this wine, I prepared a dish of Gkai Pad Gkaprow with prawns instead of chicken (pictured). The recipe is on Kasma Loha-unchit's website. The website is truly worth a visit for those interested in or curious about Thai food -- her brand recommendation for coconut milk, for instance, turned my home versions of Thai dishes completely around. Anyway, the pairing worked very well, but I was left feeling that there was a pairing I could enjoy just slightly more...

...and I realized, on the second tasting of the wine, exactly what I wanted w/this wine: peanut butter! It may be a tad unorthodox, but I was pleasantly surprised with the way the acidity and the mineral note in the wine played with the peanut butter so well. I slathered a generous amount on a baguette sliced lengthwise, poured a very little bit of honey on top of that, and drizzled an extra bit of salt on top of the honey. I'll certainly be doing that again.

The best pairing suggestion I've ever heard may be a cliché but it still rings true: once the bottle is open, anything is a suitable pairing for wine.

Value: 4.0
Color & Clarity: 3.5
Bouquet: 3.5
Flavor: 3.0

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Funny Reminder Wine is Fun, Not Serious

Over on, Barbara has posted a geniunely funny article from The Observer on the difference between the approaches men and women take to wine... and no, it's not a chain-letter type of article.
Men reach a certain age – 34 or so – and stop thinking they know how to play the guitar, or how to DJ, and start thinking instead that they ‘know’ wine.

Spring Wines (The Usual Suspects)

As we had a spurt of nice weather up here in Seattle (read as: the seemingly endless onslaught on drizzle has almost come to its yearly four month hiatus), my friends and I have finally been getting a chance to enjoy what we call 'spring wines' out on a patio or standing in someone's backyard. Naturally, we enjoy rosés and whites throughout the year depending on what we're eating, the time of day, or what happens to be open, but bright, sunny weather makes a white seem especially apropos.

It's too bad, really, that so many people (perhaps young men, in particular) shun wines that aren't red. I have a semi-funny story about that, actually:

I was sitting at a café about a year ago, happily drinking a glass of rosé while awaiting a meal, when a couple wandered in and sat near me. The gentleman suggested that the server bring him a glass of "whatever is good" (which sometimes comes across as vaguely insulting as it did in this case). The server suggested the rosé I was enjoying to which the man replied, "Absolutely not -- only women and gay guys drink rosés!" Half of the place cringed; Seattle isn't the town to spout off ridiculous nonsense like that. The server didn't blink, though, and said, "Well, sir, the gentleman a few seats from you seems to like it." The offending customer looked over at me and I said, smiling, "Guess which one I am?" He didn't skip a beat: he immediately looked at the server and said, "A rosé sounds wonderful." He ended up drinking two glasses -- I like to think he's a convert, though it's conceivable that he isn't. :)

I'm not suggesting you go to the length these cats go to in their appreciation for pink wine...

At any rate, whites and rosés deserve more respect than they tend to get (particularly here in the States). I'll be putting up a few reviews of whites and rosés over the course of the next few days, but for now here's a few suggestions for picking out accessible & enjoyable whites and rosés:
  • Spanish whites, especially those with little oak on them, generally tend to be quite accessible and geared for warm weather. One good way to introduce yourself to the whites of Spain is to look for wines made from Albariño (especially from the Rias Baixas region) and Verdejo (behr-they-ho) grapes.

  • A decent/good white Burgundy or Bordeaux can be quite within the reach of the average consumer. A white Burgundy will tend to be made of Chardonnay and have dramatically less oak (and less of a buttery mouthfeel) than, say, a "typical" California Chardonnay whereas a white Bordeaux will probably be made of Sauvignon Blanc and/or Semillon and yet taste quite a bit different than a New Zealand wine made of the same varietal.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Napa Must Mean Napa (Still)

The Supreme Court today decided that it would not hear Bronco Wine Company's case that it should be allowed to use the word 'Napa' on its wine labels, even though its fruit doesn't originate in the Napa Valley. Previously, they were allowed to do so due to a grandfather clause.

It's awfully... interesting... when companies act as participants in debates about free speech.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Wine Blending

Yesterday, two friends and I got a chance to participate in a wine blending session with a couple of local winemakers at The Tasting Room which highlights a handful of Washington Wineries.

Paul Beveridge, of Wilridge Winery, and Don Corson of Camaraderie Cellars, poured the participants generous Washington barrel samples of the five Bourdeaux varietals* and asked us to blindly sample them. Amy loved what turned out to be the Petit Verdot, whereas Derek and I both found it to be the least appetizing of set (it wasn't lacking as much fruit character as was suggested it might, but its spiciness put it way out of the safety zone for my palette). Derek's favorite was the Cabernet Sauvignon and I preferred the Cabernet Franc. Blind tastings are something of an anomaly when you consider the typical drinking experience, but two of the things they do so well are to highlight and celebrate the differences in people's preferences and palettes.

After revealing the identities of the wines to us (only one person out of about twenty was able to guess all five of them correctly), we were given a chance to blend and taste them to our hearts' content.

I at first made some insultingly awful blends -- something I hadn't realized was so easy to do -- while the woman sitting next to me made a wonderful blend on her first time. Amy made a blend that was mostly Petit Verdot, which is, well, rare to say the least. While I didn't try it, I'll trust that it was good.

By the time Mr. Beveridge handed us a glass of his personal blend named Mélange (which is a killer wine, by the way), I had found that, for me, Merlot was much easier to start with as a base than, say, Cabernet Franc. That is, my blends that were heavier on the softer, less spicy wine seemed to be much more forgiving. None of this is a surprise, of course, but experimenting directly in that manner was much more reinforcing than tasting blended wines and reading about them.

If you subscribe to The Tasting Room's mailing list, you can get early notification of events like these. This is the first of any I've been to, and I must say it was very much worth the $25 (!).

*The Bourdeaux varietals, meaning the types of grapes that typically appear in the red wines of Bourdeaux, are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet
Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. All of these grapes are grown in France, California, Washington, and Oregon -- among other places.

Wine Blogs: Organization? Seal of Approval?

John Olney, over at The Wine Country Club blog (which I found out about via this post on Fermentations), posted a few thoughts on the nature of wine blogs and whether it may make sense to give readers a guide to or a method for identifying "qualified" wine critics/bloggers. His insightful post touches on issues of liability, responsibility, and honesty of blogs.

I think it's tough, really, to imagine a (semi-)formalized wine blogger directory or a "stamp of approval" because, in a way, the freedom to say things without worrying about whether this organization or that organization would agree with you is part of what blogging is all about.

It's definitely true that you can unfairly make a difference in someone's bottom line if you're an irresponsible blogger with a large readership no matter the field you're blogging about, but my personal (and therefore entirely anecdotal) observation has been that the wine blogging community is really more of an unabashed fan of wine rather than a group of folks attempting to unscrupulously make a name for themselves. (I'm certainly not saying that John was accusing anyone of this -- we're referring to hypothetical nefarious blogs after all!)

Worries about "viral marketing" blogging are usually blown out of proportion -- it's been attempted before, and usually a blogger or avid reader who smells something fishy can get to the bottom of it. And any bloggers that actually have a financial or otherwise vested interest in wine on some level will realize what it takes to be respected: disclosure, disclosure, disclosure.

...but, obviously, I could be wrong. Hopefully bloggers continue to prove, in the long run, that they are friends of wine, wineries, and wine drinkers.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Lodi Appellation Getting More Press

The Lodi Appellation in California, home most notably to some fantastic and accessible Zinfandels, has been getting quite a bit of press lately. The fruit there is certainly not limited to Zinfandel as there are some nice Cabernet Francs, Sangioveses, and even Barberas in the region. As much as 20% of California's wine starts with Lodi grapes. It is one of the places in the country where wonderful wines are being handcrafted in small wineries.

Contra Costa Times has a recent article with a bit of focus on Lodi's similarity today to the Napa of the past (bugmenot has a registration). USA Today published a favorable article on the Lodi appellation about six months ago. Michael Vaughan had some very nice things to say about Lodi just over a year ago. Sunset dedicated ink to Lodi as well.

Lodi is a personal favorite of mine largely because of its accessibility and the winemakers' dedication to quality. The tasting rooms, the wineries, and the nearby homes are a nice reprieve from the mansion-like monuments in some other regions.

Recommended wineries:

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Wine: Camaraderie Cabernet Sauvignon

Camaraderie Cellars, in Port Angeles, Washington, makes a few different wines. Friends of mine really quite like their merlots; I wandered into the Washington Wine Tasting Room in the Pike Place Market of Seattle to give it a few wines from Camaraderie a taste.

Camaraderie's 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon has received quite a bit of press, but I'm not able to find many references to the 2001 or 2002 vintages on the web.

This wine's grapes come from the eastern part of Washington, as is the case for many Washington wines. My understanding is that the 2001, at least, is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Both of the wines have a dark garnet color, tending toward ruby at the rim. They're both very clear as well. Both are full bodied, intense, markedly tannic wines that are clearly not completely evolved. The 2002, to my palette, really shouldn't be consumed yet as it definitely needs another year or two (or three) in the bottle where the 2001 is just beginning to develop to a point where the more concentrated flavors are coming to the front. The tannins in both of these wines are too short and affecting to make these wines I'd recommend drinking this year. Today I'm picking up pleasant blackberry and plum flavors wonderfully in the 2001, along with hints of vanilla. Both vintages are pleasantly oaked.

I'm looking forward to trying these again in 2007.

Please see the sidebar or the article linked there for more information on what the ratings below mean; the scores below reflect the experience of drinking the wine today.

Value: 2.5
Color & Clarity: 3.5
Bouquet: 2.5
Flavor: 2.5

Value: 2.5
Color & Clarity: 3.5
Bouquet: 3.0
Flavor: 3.0

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

On Rating Wine

Tom, over at Fementations, noticed the rating system used here and had more than a few interesting things to say about it. The folks at Drink Up! and Lenndevours also chimed in, among others.

It's remarkable how many different, valid points of view there are on the subject. Different people have different goals when rating a wine (or interpreting a rating for that matter), for example:
  • To objectively measure the quality of one wine against similar wines
  • To try and get as exact a measurement of the pleasure they experience when enjoying the wine regardless of its price
  • To somehow come to a truth about the wine, after carefully weighing its various attributes
  • ...and so on
The bloggers I've read so far don't neatly fall into any of those categories, but let's just say that we had to pigeon-hole some rating system... let's pick Parker's, since most folks don't mind beating him up a little bit. My guess is that what most folks who rate wines with a system like Parker's are using it because they're trying to get a good measurement of their experience whereas I'd conjecture that wine consumers (newbies especially) are typically assuming that it's an objective measurement of the quality.

Communication, Trade-offs

I, like many others, try to keep a pretty exhaustive set of notes on the wines I taste (naturally not every wine-tasting experience is conducive to this). That set of notes, multiplied by some constant plus the actual experiences I had drinking said wine, is my own internal rating. That is, the quality of wine is simply not quantifiable: human communication isn't a perfect vessel for communicating our experiences and even if it were, the experience we're talking about is still mostly subjective anyway!

We have to make a trade-off when we talk about wine: there is a natural, obvious tension between giving all of the information you can and trying to distill that information into something that's quicker to utilize. I think a simple number like 92 is much too brief. Delivering my set of personal incoherent ramblings verbatim is probably useless in the mind of anyone else. Pulling apart some of the components and placing them on a sliding scale does intuitively make sense, I believe.

Just as we have to make a trade-off when we talk about wine, the average consumer has to make one when buying it. Somewhere between just randomly picking bottles of the shelf and being able to predict what wines will taste like is where I hope typical consumers can get to.

My Personal 'System'

The rating system I use, which is by no means set in stone, is meant to judge wine that would be enjoyed in the day-to-day life of what I perceive to be the typical consumer. In particular, I'm thinking about folks who are interested in wine, tend to enjoy it, but don't want to invest the time and money it takes to find out what's good and what isn't. After all, while the experience is subjective, there are many commonalities and a set of respectable contraints.

The fact is that the consumer I'm referring to is exceedingly unlikely to be capable of or willing to spend $100/night on wine. Nor is that person going to be able to dodge that fact that wine costs money. I have almost arbitrarily picked a price range that seems accessible based (very unscientifically) on what I see in restaurants, wine shops, grocery stores, and in the homes of friends: $0 - $27ish. I'd guess that the closer you get to $30, the less likely you are to get someone to pickup something new on her way home.

When I say a wine's bouquet is, for me, 4.0, I don't mean that there isn't anything better -- instead, what I'm saying is, "in this price range, for this type of wine, I don't know of many that are significantly better than this." A 4.0 isn't nearly as exclusive for me as, say, a 99 in Wine Spectator.

Also, I do need to make clear on the sidebar that the points in the different categories I rate wine on are not intended to be equally weighted -- that, I hope, can be an exercise for the reader.

Phew. I've learned a lot from this conversation!

Wine & India

That blushing bride...
About six months ago, I had a glass of Indian wine at a restaurant near where I live. My initial excitement and curiosity gave way to horror as I tasted what was easily one of the worst beverages I have come across: it was a white (they weren't able to tell me the varietal), easily pushing 14% alcohol, and it had tons of residual sugar. It smelled frighteningly like an ash tray. Ack!

Word is, though, that like many things in India, their wine business is changing and that my (remarkably limited) experience with it is more of an anomaly. This isn't anything new, but the mainstream press is starting to give some attention to this. has an article about Indian wines, and mentions that there is a grower who has successfully raised pinot noir -- though what 'successfully' means remains to be seen. Asia Times Online mentions in an article that India's tax on wine is as high as it is on hard liquors, and they're trying to change that.

While some folks hint at the potential competition from Indian winemakers, it seems to me the interesting point here is that India's wine consumption is growing at a quick pace. As Indians being to consume more wine (the per-capita consumption is less than half a teaspoon per head as of 2004) and are in posession of more expendable capital, we can hope to see their demand rising as well.

Look for some Indian wine reviews here sometime soon.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

New York Times on "Mondovino"

Vineyard 023
The New York Times publishes an article in tomorrow's newspaper about Jonathan Nossiter's "Mondovino," a (semi?) controversial documentary on the differences and tensions between small time wine makers and the big corporations.

Unsurprisingly, folks like Robert Parker seem a little peeved.

Over at Vinography, Alder has an interesting take on the movie:
Go see the movie. Then think about it. Then go buy a bottle of your favorite wine no matter whether it is made by a little guy or a big guy. Drink it. Remember what life is all about.
More coverage on Slate; a quote from Mike Steinberger:
Delicious as it is to have a documentary devoted to wine, and as entertaining as Mondovinosometimes is, the film represents something of a blown opportunity ... He has made a film that perfectly mirrors the style of wine he deplores: obvious and manipulated.

Wine: Seresin Sauvignon Blanc

Seresin is truly one of my favorite wines. As New Zealand sauvignon blancs have become so popular, it's strange not to see Seresin in more restaurants and wine shops.

The wine has a beautiful, yellow-gold color and is almost perfectly clear. Even at a relatively cool temperature, the Seresin's bouquet can't help but make you smile with scents typical to the nicest sauvignon blancs: hints of citrus, passion fruit, and a surprisingly effective grassy note. While I've read others say it has a generally herbaceous quality, I distinctly smell fresh-cut grass in the bouquet and love it.

Seresin has a nice balance, at once crisp and rich. My favorite in-the-mouth quality is the mineral flavor of the wine -- a reflection, probably, of the three different soils the grapes came from. An excellent match for many foods; I've enjoyed it with everything from subtle, non-spicy Thai dishes to salads with fresh goat cheese and pickled beets.

This wine should be had for $18/bottle or less.

Value: 3.5
Color & Clarity: 4.0
Bouquet: 3.5
Flavor: 3.5

Wine: O'Reilly's Pinot Noir

O'Reilly's Pinot Noir, from David O'Reilly of the Owen Roe Winery, is a superb "value" wine. The wine, which is made from grapes farmed identically to David's pricier Owen Roe wines, is respectably balanced with enticing berry notes. Nearly every time I try it, I come across hints of strawberry and cedar.

Accessible pinot noirs are, to my palate, almost always noticably unbalanced -- this wine's balance is a delight. At around $14 per bottle, it's one of the only pinot noirs I've been able to recommend under $25.

Richard Kinssies reviewed the 2003 for the Seattle PI.

My personal rating (see side panel for how I score wines):

Value: 4.0
Color & Clarity: 3.5
Bouquet: 3.0
Flavor: 3.5

Monday, March 14, 2005

Open Containers & Wine

Wine Bottle
The Florida House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that would allow people in Florida have a previously opened bottle of wine in their cars -- but only if that wine was purchased at a restaurant.

I was quite surprised to hear this news. I couldn'€™t believe it had been illegal in the first place, when states like Wyoming actually allow open containers in hands of passengers so long as the driver herself isn't drinking. What really is strange, though, is the bit about proof: in the Florida bill, the driver of the car is actually responsible for producing a dated receipt reflecting the purchase of the wine and food. The requirement is remarkably short-sighted: are restaurants really the only place they can imagine someone drinking wine?

Open container laws have always seemed a little fishy to me: while it feels like common sense to disallow having an opened container in a vehicle, I had never heard any evidence that the law actually kept people from driving drunk. According to the president of the National Motor Association (an organization about which I know very little), there simply isn't any. Naturally, the vast majority of conversations about open container laws in this country are somehow interpreted to be endorsements of drunk driving.

Finally, what may be the worst thing about this is that wine is called out specifically by the bill: taking an opened bottle of gin home from a friend's house is not allowed. (Wine is singled out in this way in at least thirty states.) It reeks of elitism and I can't think of any other explanation for it. Thankfully, I'€™m not the only one who thinks it'€™s wrong to call out wine specifically.