Linkin’ logs: 2-17-17

It’s a multi-media day here at Linking’ Memorial High:

• Cue the song “Pressure”: A grocery chain is being “asked” semi-nicely to stop selling Trump wines.

• My buddy Jason unearthed a compilation of cool wine commercials. The lame Yellow Tail Super Bowl ad is not amongst ’em.

• Merlot for cats? Cabernet? Uh, whatever.

• My friend Anna Katharine has great advice in this piece: It’s completely OK if you can’t taste like a somm.

• Finally, safety first, last and always:


Linkin’ logs: 2-8-17

Celebrities, calories, chanterelles and more as we scroll the InterWebs:

• I wanna hang with Johnny Depp, if this is how much he really spends on wine. (And check out the tattoo on his right arm.)

• Funny stuff: some ridiculous restaurant complaints such as “My Champagne was too fizzy.” Be sure to watch the short video at the bottom.

• I thoroughly enjoy getting the Thrillist package every day, largely because they find great story angles like this one on watching your calories in wine.

• My friend Chris Kassel not only recommends a couple of seriously intriguing wines, but makes a great point about the shape of Italy — and of Italian wines.

• Joe Roberts provides insight, and some remedies, for wine headaches.

• Finally, some ingenious (perhaps) ways of extracting that cork:


Linkin’ logs: 2-3-17

Rollin’ and scrollin’ Webward for the latest:

• Love counterintuitive stuff: For some very good reasons beyond economics, Sonoma tasting rooms almost all now charge a tasting fee.

• On his worst day, Ron Washam is as funny as almost anyone on the planet. (And trust me, I’ve seen him on some of his worst days, having to judge 75 chards) When the Hosemaster’s in high dudgeon, as in this takedown of new wineries, well, let’s just say you shouldn’t take a sip of anything while reading it. The comments are worth perusing as well.

• This “news” story‘s pretty droll, too.

• Unearthed: wine cellars under the Brooklyn Bridge.

• My friend Jim Gordon does his usual stellar job of taking a lot of info and culling the highlights in his look at current wine trends. Among my favorites: widespread acceptance of screw caps.

• Or for hipsters: For those who care to keep up with what’s “cool” in the wine world, Punch provides a roundup.

• Finally, it’s Friday, so …








Vinous verse: When it comes to wine, the poets know it

I’ve been diving into poetry lately, mostly as a salve for the soul in seriously bizarre times. Seems like a good time to pass along some soulful work from fellow wine lovers, starting with Keats and Yeats (whose names, alas, don’t rhyme):

“Oh, for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth,
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim.”
John Keats

“Wine enters through the mouth,
Love, the eyes.
I raise the glass to my mouth,
I look at you,
I sigh.”
W.B. Yeats

“With years a richer life begins, the spirit mellow:
Ripe age gives tones to violins, wine, and good fellows.”
John Townsend Trowbridge



“Fill every beaker up, my men,
pour forth the cheering wine:
There’s life and strength in every drop,
thanksgiving to the vine!”
Albert Gorton Greene

“For singing till his heaven fills,
’Tis love of earth that he instills,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup,
and he the wine which overflows
to lift us with him as he goes.”
George Meredith

“Apply thine engine to the spongy door.
Set Bacchus from his glassy prison free,
And strip white Ceres of her nut-brown coat.”
Alexander Pope

“O, thou Bright Wine whose purple splendor leaps
and bubbles gaily from this golden bowl
under the lamplight, as my spirits do.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley


“When in joy we tap the cask
All our dreams bring what we ask.
Drink it! Drink it! Kindly Friend,
Then our cares will swiftly end,
Drink to you, then drink to me,
Pledge our dual prosperity.”
Old French Poem

“Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness,
And Wilderness is Paradise now.”
Omar Khayyam


“Four fresh-opened oysters,
Soft as grey velvet,
Cold as deep-sea water;
One long-stemmed glass
Half full of light Rhinewine,
Tasting of fruit-flowers.”
Trevor Blakemore

“Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I’ll not look for wine.”
Ben Jonson


“(Marsala) Velvety brown and bitter-sweet,
a thimbleful cupped on the tongue
swelling in the mouth
like the nipple of Pomona (Roman goddess of fruit).”
William Fahey 

“O nectar, a poetry profound,
a liquid fair and hedonistic,
a drink meant truly not for mortals
but the gods of misty yore.
Burdened not by filtering or fining
or such slings and arrows beset by fools.
Get thee to a bottle.”
William Shakespeare


“God made man –
Frail as a bubble;
God made love –
Love made trouble;
God made the vine –
Was it a sin
That man made wine
To drown trouble in?”


Wines of the Week: Jan. 30-Feb. 5

Everyday: The best California chenin blancs are clean and fresh, easy-drinking and super-tasting. Like the 2014 Vinum Clarksburg Chenin Blanc ($15), which follows a refreshing nose with layers of citrus, melon and tropical fruit; it basically tastes “green” (lime, honeydew, green apple and kiwi). Love the juicy acidity on the midpalate and finish. My tasting notes include the phrase “almost too smooth,” which, btw, is a compliment. Go for some ceviche or fish tacos, tuna or chicken salads (circa 2016, with chunks of the protein, not a mayonnaise-y concoction). Or with the chips and Emeril’s guac on Super Bowl Sunday. The playlist? Start and finish with the broad-ranging wit and wisdom of songwriter extraordinaire Nick Lowe.

Occasion: It’s the shank of winter, and we’re embarking on what for Minnesotans is the ironically longest-lasting month. Time for a big and bold red blend. But rather than the candy-like concoctions like Apothic and Meomi, got for a sturdy Portuguese gem like the 2013 Esporao Quinta dos Murcas Douro Reserva ($29). This is heartiness incarnate, a bottle of (made-up-word alert!) robustitude and refinement and harmony. Dark red fruit, perfect tannins, solid mouthfeel, long finish, etc., etc. It’s dense but elegant, ripe but complex, perfect for drinking now or setting down for a few years. And ideal for such wintry dishes as this delicious lentil soup with beef. The smoky, sultry vocals of the inimitable Sarah Vaughan are another perfect accompaniment.


Linkin’ logs: 1-17-17

Time for drinking wine on the cheap, from everywhere (except maybe a nasty autocrat’s stash), via the World Wine Web:

• Can’t we all just get along? While California’s grape and marijuana growers remain at odds over water and workers, here comes the first Wine & Weed Symposium.

• Couple of really good lists, and not just because they include wines I’ve recommended before :o): Eric Asimov’s 20 winter reds  and Nick Passmore’s 10 best European reds under $20.

• I’m not linking to Blake Gray’s post because I’m quoted in it :o), but rather because he makes a damn good point: Korbel is making some super sparkling juice for the price.

• Yessir: VinePair, usually aiming for “edge,” endorses trying everything but the “trendy” wines in 2017.

• One of the last people in the world I’d want to drink wine with is Vladimir Putin, but taking a gander at his cellar is sorta kinda fun.

• Finally, a bit of vinous verse:



Wines of the Week: Jan. 9-15

Everyday: Holy crap, is 2014 ever a fantabulous vintage in Oregon. Exhibit A: the 2014 Erath Oregon Pinot Noir ($19), from a justly beloved winery. Especially given its price, this pinot has surpassing elegance and beauty, not to mention deliciousness (OK, I just mentioned it). Lovely red fruit, picked at optimum ripeness, and superb structure are hallmarks of this beauty. And what a lovely, deep finish, pure and persistent. It seems that one of Oregon’s first wineries – Dick Erath made his first batch in 1965 – is still one its best. Like all good pinots, this baby calls for roasted veggies or fowl, especially a recipe from the incomparable Ina Garten’s latest book, skillet roasted lemon chicken. Add the precise beauty of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune,” and the perfect pairings are complete.

Occasion: After the holidays, many of us find ourselves a wee bit strapped for cash. Good thing there are $21 wines suitable for special occasions, like the 2012 Coppo Barbera d’Asti Camp du Rouss. Starting with a complex nose, this Piedmontese red follows up with a superbly balanced amalgam of fruit, acid and dusty tannins. It’s bright and lively at the outset, multilayered and persistent on the finish. Darker fruit and Caribbean spices dominate the flavors, which linger nigh onto forever on the finish. A great way to celebrate the winery’s 125th anniversary. Along with the rustic but refined Italian classic, Pasta Alla Gricia, and the down-home goodness of the Billy Bragg-Wilco collaborations.


Judgment days, chronicled

What a week. Tasted nigh onto 500 wines, and most of them were good :o). I was judging at the San Francisco Chronicle competition, and yes it was work. (You try judging 43 domestic ports in one afternoon.) Some highlights:

• One of my panel’s weirdest categories was “de-alcoholized wines,” a first for my fellow panelists and myself. After trying and spitting the first one, a quite tasty Brut, I blurted out, “Wait a minute! We can swallow.”

• Kent Rosenblum was on hand, as always, and the Minnesota native shared some Ole & Lena jokes (too long to recount here, even if I could remember them) at a dinner. He prefaced the japes with this: “Did you know that the Swedes invented the toilet seat? But it was the Norwegians who put in the hole.”

• By the way, Kent is back consulting for the Rosenblum winery that he sold to Diageo almost a decade ago. (The wines need the help.) Also learned that Kent and his daughter Shonna, at their current winery Rock Wall, are making an “Ole & Lena” zin,

• Other stuff I gleaned: that the phrase “heart-warming” often is used as a euphemism for high alcohol; that I’m more OK with some brett than most judges; and that a good way to approach aromas in wine, from panel mate Greg Burns, is ” ‘I’m expecting this’ rather than ‘it tells me this.’ ”

• And the winners from among 6,850-plus U.S. wines were …
Sparkling: Korbel, 2013 Brut, Russian River Valley
White (tie) Hanna, 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, and Castello di Amorosa, 2015 Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley
Pink: Trentadue, 2015 Rosato di Sangiovese Estate, Alexander Valley (way to go, Miro!)
Red: Tonti Family Wines, 2013 Barrel Aged Zinfandel, Russian River Valley.
Dessert/specialty: Coopers Hawk Winery & Restaurants, Icewine, Vidal Blanc, Illinois



Linkin’ logs: 1-8-17

All the (vinous) news you need to know:

• As we all are aware, tomorrow, Jan. 9, is National Cassoulet Day. Here’s a lowdown on the French classic that includes cool history, a recipe, and of course most importantly, wine pairings.

• I’m not a bucket list kind of guy, but if I were, this photo package of cool vineyards would be part of the proceedings.

• Jamie Goode is one of the smartest (and wisest) wine people I know, as his thoughts on natural wine show.

• I have friends who are major devotees of the biodynamic calendar’s effects on the ways we perceive wine. Goode is not among them, and says he has the science to back that.

• Forgot Botox (please!): Wine grapes are a better skin treatment, it appears.

• Finally, I always follow doctor’s orders, especially when the doctor is this guy:


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