26-12-2017

2017: A site’s year in review

Naturally, this is that time of year when everyone puts their websites on autopilot, steps back, and opens up a slew of bottles for the next week or so due to the holidays. It also offers an opportune moment to get all retrospective-y and look at your body of work for the last year, pulling out a few articles that you find to be of particular interest. This is indeed something of a space filler, but at the very least, it gives something to do between having finished the Amontillado and waiting for that damned Chassagne-Montrachet to cool down that yeah, it was awesome you guys brought but seriously, couldn’t you have showed up earlier? White Burgundy at “glove box” temperature just isn’t right.

Let me emphasize that these are web-only articles on this site. I write a great deal more for dead tree outfits. Are the two mediums different? Yes, a great deal, but that’s probably a topic for a longer post when I’m not fighting off sleep from delving headfirst into a “Cava Intervention”.

The appellations of Georgian wine
This ended up being a sleeper of a popular article. I suppose because people know so little about this country (buy the book) and to find out that they have appellations is probably something of a shock. What shouldn’t be a shock is that they’re a bit creaky in origin and there’s been a decided move away from them by newer producers. It’s not a “Super Tuscan” kind of thing but more a, “This 19th century shit ain’t doing anyone any favors” kind of thing.

The future of Pingus in 2014, 2015, & 2016
It was no end of fun to visit the cellar of one of Spain’s actual icon wines (unlike the faker but more on that in a minute) as Peter Sisseck’s project has shown for decades now what Spain is capable in terms of quality. This article admittedly didn’t see a lot of traffic probably because I didn’t plug out of it. It was a nice visit in the middle of winter trying the new wines. I’ve done this at a lot of cellars and to blather on about this specific one because the wines are so expensive seemed a bit indulgent. Still I post it here in case anyone wanted to have a gander because the wines are indeed quite lovely.

50 years of the Postup appellation
This is another article that didn’t get a lot of love but I really enjoyed writing it because I learned a great deal in the process despite having written a Dalmatian wine guide (yeah, the plugs don’t stop. Cava doesn’t buy itself you know?) It’s not only a geeky but esoteric topic, even in Croatia, but it forms a really large commentary on how they’ve essentially stalled in terms of defining proper wine regions for a half century now. Hopefully they’ll rectify this soon but those of us who like the wines say this every year.

Bodega Otazu’s Vitral, the 2,000€ ruse
I got out my angry wine drinker face for this one because I simply don’t like bullshit in wine and pricing a wine at such a ridiculous amount is painful. Naturally, I bang on about it without having tasted it but I did do a follow-up visit to taste most of their line of wines and I have to say that I still stand by the original article.

Building a wine & the art of the blend
There’s a common thread that the geekier and article, generally the less reads it gets. I’d draw up a graph but well, that’s not going to really help the point now, is it? But this was about a session doing the blends at my friend Albert Costa’s winery, Vall Llach (dope new website) and it was interesting to analyze the effect of each barrel at such a finite detail, very interesting in fact as who would have know that I’d hate Radoux barrels so much, but this is probably only for really geeky people in wine. Graph? I can color code it?

Wine & Health
This caught a lot of eyeballs. The wine industry in general has taken health a great deal more seriously in recent years. I posit it’s because a lot of us from a newer, webbier generation are crossing into our 40s but at the same time, there’s the fact we have to be honest that alcohol–and wine is alcohol–is poison and while there appear to be health benefits, there are risks as well. If it just didn’t taste so good, it’d be a lot easier. Back to the Cava!

Judging the Decanter World Wine Awards
Every sack of noodles in the wine world these days seems to anoint themselves a “wine judge” and it’s true, there really are no official qualifications for it other than knowing about a lot about wine and tasting just as much. There are those awards however where the bar of entry is quite high, which is why, as a contributor to Decanter I was happy to participate in the awards this year and see how 220 people taste and review 17,000 wines in five days. Two tricks if you’re doing Spanish wines: one Priorat flight per day and Bobal is saved for the very, very end.

Explaining paratge/paraje certifications in Catalan wine
I’m hoping this will be of great help to people who encounter this new term in our collective wine vocabulary this year: paratge or its Spanish counterpart: paraje. It’s going to be weird, foreign, and you’ll wonder why the hell we even need to know what this is when it’s already hard enough to remember that Mourvèdre is also Mataró and Monastrell or that they grow great Riesling in Australia or that not all Israeli wine is Kosher or that… the list goes on. At any rate, I hope this little article is of use, especially when it comes to, yes, Cava!

The story of Triaca
I really quite like this article as I like the story. It relates what it’s like to live in a doinky village and how there are pluses and minuses all around. That and this is a really tasty wine that I was happy to get to know.

The kvevri, of clay and wine
The Georgia book came out last June (I’d link again but that’s just tedious, no?) and so I made a little trip over there to promote it and do some tastings. I truly never get tired of going to Georgia and always eat and drink twice my weight but in addition to the gorging, we went out to a kvevri maker that I’d been to previously although just as he was shutting down last year. This time, we saw him in full swing which made for a truly excellent day out of Tbilisi.