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Saturday night we had friends over for a long-delayed "wine and movie night." We enjoyed two Whites and a Red. The latter was a cabernet savignon/cabernet franc/merlot hybrid -- on the "big" side, but surprisingly drinkable on a hot summer evening.

One of the Whites was from the Alsace region, crisp with lime and citrus. Very refreshing. But the star of the evening was a new varietal to me, Vinho Verde, from Portugal. It has slight carbonation -- "effervescence," the wine-shop guy who recommended it told me. That's a huge red flag in my book, but because the varietal had received a rave in a recent issue of The Week, I bought a bottle. It didn't hurt that the bottle cost all of $5.99.

It was delightful. A just-right match for the quiche and spinach salad we enjoyed, before heading downstairs to watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a dreadful movie.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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One of the Whites was from the Alsace region, crisp with lime and citrus. Very refreshing. But the star of the evening was a new varietal to me, Vinho Verde, from Portugal. It has slight carbonation -- "effervescence," the wine-shop guy who recommended it told me. That's a huge red flag in my book, but because the varietal had received a rave in a recent issue of The Week, I bought a bottle. It didn't hurt that the bottle cost all of $5.99.

Trader Joe's almost always stocks a Vinho Verde (literally "green wine"). I don't think its a varietal, per se, more a method of manufacture. I've only had it once, but it was in Portugal (from whence it comes).

Edited by Buckeye Jones

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A local Arkansas vintner was able to get a winter harvest in December, allowing them to produce this quite rare ice wine.

Now, should I spend the $40-50 for a bottle of this rarity?

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How did they manage to not have raisins by December?

I can't really comment on how good the wine would be, I've never met a Seyval I've liked, so I would doubt that just because they got an ice wine out of it would make it anymore drinkable. But, hey, some people like seyval -- even if Europe does consider it a trash grape. It's one of the main grapes that the British use to make wine -- and you know what a great reputation the Brits have for wines.


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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I've never had that particular grape either, to my knowledge. But, according to the article, apparently this variety is one that can, from time to time, produce a second crop. This second crop usually doesn't amount to much, and gets used for table grapes or deer food, but this time it worked out.

Also per the article, this is apparently a fairly renowned practice, when available, in Germany. Although it doesn't mention which grapes they use there.

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The story behind the conception and development of the 100-point wine rating system.

Also, a local restaurant is trumpeting its recent


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I was always kind of fond of the 20 point system.

Thanks for the Tempranillo article. They are often a great value. The Jovens are a good turkey wine come Thanksgiving.


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Had a nice BC wine tonight. 02 Hester Creek Cab/Merlot that we picked up a couple years ago when we went through the Okanagan. Decent fruit and a hint of richness. Certainly decently priced at $13 (Canadian).


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Special treat tonight. We're really fond of lamb chops, and after picking some up at Sam's Club over the weekend, we need a wine worthy of them. So we're opening one of our Bonny Doon Le Cigar Volant (ours are from 2000). It's a Rhone blend. It doesn't qualify for the under $10 range than many of you look for.

The story behind the name is that back in the 50s when people were looking for UFOs, the village council of Chateauneuf-du-Pape was concerned that flying saucers (or flying cigars as the French thought of them) might damage the vineyards, so they passed an ordinance that forbade extraterestrial landings in the vineyards. It seems to have worked so far.


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Mount Riley Pinot Noir - Marlborough, New Zealand (2004, I think). $17 at Cost Plus as of a month ago. Probably the best sub $20 wine I've had.

We did a blind tasting with a bunch of friends a few weeks ago and the Riley was easily prefered over a 93 pt Ch


So you ladies and you gentlemen, pull your bloomers on...

-Joe Henry

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I have avoided trying Syrahs and such for fear that I wasn't "ready" for such earthy and peppery qualities. However, during my wander through downtown Asheville with Andrew in June '05, we stumbled on a wineshop that had some South African Cabs. The guy sold me on one that was a little old, a '98 "Prospect 1870". I got it quite cheaply and forgot about it until last week. So peppery it was almost hot!


"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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Do you equate Syrahs with Petitie Syrahs? They are different grapes. My rule of thumb with a PS is never to think about drinking it until it's at least 5 years old. (So a 98 would be drinkable for me.) They will turn your teeth purple (which I kind of like from time to time.)


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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But this was a Cabernet and one marked down because it was old (and presumably blended to be drunk, if not immediately, at least iminently). I brought it up for purposes of sharing that I might be ready for the sort of venture you describe.


"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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I forgot to ask about petite Syrah during my Saturday trip to Total Wine, during which I picked up a mixed case of mostly French wines. I'd taken with me two articles on "best bargain" wines, summaries in The Week of articles from Wine Enthusiast and, I think, the New York Times.

As usual, the wine place didn't carry wines from 10 of the approximately 15 bottlers mentioned, and of the remaining 5, they had the wrong vintage for two. So I grabbed 2 or 3 from the list, then listened as Jean Paul -- you just know from the name that this guy has a thick French accent, don't you? -- suggested several wines I might fancy.

I was humiliated by my own questions. Turns out that I got off on a bad foot when, shortly after entering the store, I asked where I could find a South African Cabernet -- was it in the Cabernet section, or was there a "South Africa" section?

"We split our store into 'Old World' and 'New World' wines," she said, then explained how the sections named after varietals were exclusively "New World" wines. So South African Cabernets would be in the "Cabernet" section, but, alas, they didn't carry the particular South African wine I wanted.

I was still thinking on why this "Old World/New World" distinction surprised me, when it should be obvious to any wine novice, when Jean Paul offered to help me out. Noting that he didn't have a particular bottle, he'd then point to a regional section of "Old World" wines from France, commenting on similarities with the wines on my list. When I saw "Bordeaux" or "Rhone" and asked how, say, such wine could be composed of 100% Syrah, as he had informed me, he gave me a patient, knowing look, and told me that the region and the varietal weren't one and the same.

Boy, did I feel stupid. Cuz, like, I knew that, but I'd, uh, forgotten. Guess I'm rusty.

So I spent late Saturday night, and some of Sunday, going through my "Wine for Dummies" and "101 Essential Tips on Wine" books, refreshing my memory and relearning the basics of wine. You think I'd know by now, but no, after learning all this stuff more than 10 years ago, it seems I've pretty much forgotten everything.

I'd been contemplating getting a copy of the new Oxford Companion to Wine, but Saturday's trip was so humbling that I think that volume is beyond me.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Some recent favourites:

(I'm not really sure how to embellish this list. I get rather tired of the list of flavours/aromas that a reviewer noticed)

2004 Ferrero, Rosso di Montalcino, $18

2005 Kim Crawford, Un-oaked Chardonnay, $13

2004 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Riesling, $7 (great value!)

2005 Cline, Zin, $8 (another good value, very drinkable)

Edited by Jeff Kolb

So you ladies and you gentlemen, pull your bloomers on...

-Joe Henry

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Jeff, I can't tell you how many bottles of the Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling we've been through over the past few months. I don't care for sweet white wines, but Joanna loves that stuff.

From


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Recommended instead: Washington Hills Riesling. I can

So you ladies and you gentlemen, pull your bloomers on...

-Joe Henry

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I was still thinking on why this "Old World/New World" distinction surprised me, when it should be obvious to any wine novice, when Jean Paul offered to help me out. Noting that he didn't have a particular bottle, he'd then point to a regional section of "Old World" wines from France, commenting on similarities with the wines on my list. When I saw "Bordeaux" or "Rhone" and asked how, say, such wine could be composed of 100% Syrah, as he had informed me, he gave me a patient, knowing look, and told me that the region and the varietal weren't one and the same.

Christian, don't be so hard on yourself. These folks are paid to know these things, not you. I'd say that this is a pretty good place to shop. Besides, he's giving good council by suggesting like product when he does not have the specific wine you ask for (which is bound to happen more often than not if you heed the recommendations of those outside your immediate market area).


"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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Did any of you check out the Wine Library TV blog I posted yesterday? The host is a relatively young guy who manages a large wine and liquor store in New Jersey. Each episode is only a few minutes long and typically involves a quick and highly opinionated tasting. For example, in Episode 9 he pulls out the six best-selling (in his store) California Cabs that are under $20, tastes each, and ranks them. (Fwiw, the 2003 Stephan Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon was his favorite.)

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I clicked over to the Wine Library site, Darren, but have yet to watch any of the "episodes." Maybe today. We got the magazine out yesterday and won't get color proofs until tomorrow. Yee-haw!


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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For the cheap wine crowd (which includes those of us who also drink non-cheap wines some of the time):

a couple nights ago we had a 05 Yalumbra Viognier from Australia. Very nice fruit. Styled a bit like Chardonnay. Hint of spice. We've also had the 04 and it was just as good. $9 at Cost Plus.


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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So has anyone watched an episode of Wine Library TV yet? I love that vlog. It is far and away my favorite site on the Internet right now, and it's quickly turning me from a casual wine drinker into a budding enthusiast. A couple recent bottles I've enjoyed (and all of them were cheap):

- 2005 Henry's Drive Pillar Box Red (a steal at $8-10)

- 2005 Bogle Petite Sirah

- 2004 Bodega J. & F. Lurton Malbec Reserva

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