Archive for the 'Various and Sundry' Category

My precious

Breaking: important news from the medical community:

Wine is the most precious and the most energy-imparting part of the diet. Its use in family meals saves a third of bread and meat, but more than that, wine stimulates and strengthens the body, warms the heart, develops the spirit of sociability; encourages activity, decisiveness, courage and satisfaction in one’s work.

— Dr. Jules Guyot, 1868

As quoted in The Botanist and the Vintner, by Christy Campbell. Guyot is also the father of a vine trellis training technique still widely used today (including here in the Willamette Valley).

Well, he’s a doctor, so he must be right. I plan to take two swigs and call him in the morning.

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New Radiohe_ad

In Rainbows, the long-awaited (by me, anyway) new album from Radiohead, just up for download direct from the band. You pay what you want for it, from 0 to £100. I paid £7.50, which is about $11, about what you’d pay on iTunes except that iTunes doesn’t take all but $1.50 of it.

That’s right, a major rock band self-distributing: no label or retailer in the middle, which has ’em quaking in their Alberto Guardianis, especially since it seems to be working.

My first pass through the album doesn’t disappoint (“Bodysnatchers” is a particular standout): if you love Radiohead, you’ll love it.

If you don’t, well, you better not click Her_e!

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Rodrigo y Gabriela

Rodrigo y Gabriela: acoustic rock stars?I tried to think of something witty to write about Rodrigo y Gabriela, somehow tying them to wine in some tangential way as a flimsy excuse to blog about them in these vinous pages.

But what the hell. I can’t remember the last time a performance made my jaw drop like this one. Buskers from Mexico City by way of Dublin, Rodrigo and Gabriela squeeze every last sound out of two acoustic guitars: lyrical picados, thunderous rasgueados, pulsing, primial cajónista percussion. It’s like flamenco crossed with ranchera crossed with raw rock ‘n roll. Check out their blistering performance on Letterman, or check out the video they’ve got posted on their site. They’re playing the Portland Zoo series August 31st.

See you there, vato!

[UPDATE: quick review of the concert in the comments] 


Red, Red Sox

Like all right-thinking people long accustomed to the sulfurous taste of failure followed by the sweet, sweet ambrosia of success, Les Garagistes are fans of — believe in, identify with — the Boston Red Sox. The confluence of ferment and postseason makes October the most glorious month, and many of our fall sessions are accompanied by the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd playing on a laptop in a corner of the winery. I for one will never forget, late that wondrous night, sitting at Matt’s and watching David Ortiz plunk a Paul Quantrill pitch into the Yankees bullpen to win Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, the conclusion of which was not only the most crushing upset in the annals of sport but also one of the greatest events in human history.

That said, I’m not sure that Longball Vineyards is a great idea. Setting aside the pairing of wine with the national pastime, a dubious proposition especially since the demise of the Montreal Expos signalled the end of major-league baseball in French — ‘lanceurs staring into home plate, frappeurs swinging for the fences and voltigeurs tracking down fly balls at la piste d’avertissement‘ — the choice of varietals is problematic.

The ‘CaberKnuckle’ should clearly be Pinot Noir. Tim Wakefield’s signature pitch is the knuckleball, la balle papillon, which makes a slow, lovely and unpredictable dance to the catcher’s mitt. As Willie Stargell said, ‘Throwing a knuckleball for a strike is like throwing a butterfly with hiccups across the street into your neighbor’s mailbox.’ You don’t know how it’s turned out until it’s crossed the plate (or not), and anyone who’s made Pinot Noir knows what that’s like. As for the Schilling Schardonnay, one need only point out that the bloody sock, the holy relic of the 2004 miracle, was red.

‘Manny Being Merlot’? Maybe. Red Sox fans’ exasperated expression over Ramirez’ unreliability has lost its freshness, but Merlot can be great, and Manny is indeed one of les plus grands frappeurs de nos jours. Plus, the drapery of his oversized uniforms suggests Merlot’s softer side. And given what we know of Manny from this recent New Yorker profile,

Ramirez’s appearance—he styles his hair in dreadlocks, wears a uniform cut for a sumo wrestler, and smiles broadly and indiscriminately—hints at this extracurricular flakiness, and even gives off a whiff of pothead.(In 2002, he requested that the song “Good Times,” by Styles P, be played over the Fenway Park P.A. system before one of his at-bats, and unsuspecting fans were treated to lyrics such as “Every day I need a ounce and a half…take a blunt, just to ease the pain…I get high, high, high.”)

this may well be what Bob Marley had in mind when he sang ‘Red, Red Wine.’

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What they’re really smelling

At last. A penetrating, behind (and I mean behind) the scenes look into what they’re really doing at all those fancy wine tastings. 

(To check this out, you’ll need the Flash plug-in, available for free here. Thanks to Amy W for the link!) 

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(P)retty (V)irulent (C)apsules

Traditional wine capsules on Burgundy and Bordeaux bottlesVirtually all professional winemakers finish the tops of their wine bottles with some kind of capsule — and while we are as unprofessional as they come, we’ve mostly done the same. Whether it’s composed of wax, lead, tin, or plastic, the capsule is thought to help protect the cork from microbial intrusion, but also to betray any evidence of tampering. A swig-safety cap, if you will.

But what if that seal — whose function is to keep the wine safe — is itself unsafe? That’s what I wondered when I discovered that the capsules we’d been using (and most of the industry uses) are made from PVC, a material targeted by scores of watchdog agencies for its dire environmental impact.

So I did some research, and the surprisingly terrifying results spurred me into a little R&D about how to finish our treasured bottles differently. This gripping journey of revelation and redemption awaits you below the fold… Read more

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Balsamic Vinegar

I have begun experimenting. I know it’s wrong, I just can’t help it. Was it you, James, who was talking about B V? Just twelve short years in a succession of casks made of various woods. (I’ll have to use wood chips.) Now, some of you out there may be in a position to enable me. I believe B V is unfiltered and has cells of the authentic micro-organisms in every bottle. If anyone out there has a little, a teaspoon full, of B V that they could donate to the vat to help innoculate, I would be grateful. The formula is start with white grapes, boil down the juice to about half of the volume, dose it and put it in a cask in the attic. It might work.

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