Piemonte, Profound

June 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

This isn’t about an article I’ve written. It’s about an event I’m proud to be a part of that will take place this Saturday, put on via my day job at Rosemont Market. We’ve recently started a new venture at Rosemont, which we call Rosemont Market Productions. It’s our event-planning wing: We put on private wine tastings and dinners, wine and food education events, pop-ups and other fun stuff.. All is farm-based, local and Good. It’s been fun, will get even more so. Email me at joe@rosemontmarket.com if you’re interested in working with us.

Anyway, this Saturday, June 8, we’re hosting a very special event: Profound Pleasures of Piemonte: A Family-Style Wine and Food Tasting and Seminar. There are only a few tickets left, so I thought I’d post the news here just to make sure our guest list is exceptional!

We’ll host Orlando Pecchenino, winemaker at his namesake winery in Dogliani, Piemonte. The Pecchenino wine estate dates back to the 1700s, and Orlando Pecchenino is a passionate, articulate ambassador for his family’s wines and the long traditions he is proud to sustain.

This area of Italy is beef country, and the wines will be matched with a series of matchless Piemontese beef dishes, prepared by Rosemont Chef Brad Messier from grass-fed Woodbourne Farm Red Devon.

Rosemont’s Chief Butcher, Jarrod Spangler, has lived near Dogliani, where he learned the craft of Italian butchery that has informed so much of Rosemont’s peerless meat department. Jarrod will be on hand to discuss his own approach to butchering, and the importance of using locally raised, all-natural meats.

We will feature extraordinary wines, of course, including two singular Dolcettos from the famed Dogliani region and a cru Barolo. The wine seminar and food will be presented family-style, just as you’d experience were you to visit Orlando Pecchenino’s home.

This will be a uniquely thrilling and informative evening of food, wine and expertise. We are pleased to be able to offer it for just $75 per ticket. To preserve the intimacy and communal feel of the event, tickets are extremely limited, so make your reservations right now!


Wine Fraud: critics, crowd-sourcing, comparison

May 29, 2013 § 1 Comment

Last week in the Portland Press Herald, I went polemical. Halfway through my column, I wrote:

Do not make comparisons. Do not grade anything. Do not assess movies. Do not compare children. Do not evaluate romantic conversations. Do not appraise sunsets. Do not organize your thoughts. Do not classify wines. Do not spend time with people who do any of those things.

The only salient criterion for wine is whether it’s true or false.

Like anything else, wine is either real or representation. That it’s so hard for us to discern the difference speaks only to our cultural confusion, our substitution of advertising for communication.

The signposts of our cultural decline (decried by name in the column, and I’m pretty sure on every other non-porn page on the Internet) are everywhere, and they’re so permeating and nigh-intractable that ya gotta start small. I’m going to start (and stay?) with wine. Maybe that will give me the armor to prepare for the larger war…

Pfister: Alsace, wound up

May 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve been so excited by so many wines lately that I’ve fallen a bit behind in committing them to 0s and 1s, pixels and screens. That’s a slippery way of excusing myself for failing to post to this-here blog in as timely a fashion as I’d like.


Super long finish, oily and full-bodied in classic style, but also quivering and agile. Amazing wine!

A couple of weeks ago now, in the Portland Press Herald, I wrote about a winemaker in Alsace who has exploded my notions of Alsace. That’s because Mélanie Pfister is carrying on her family’s wine tradition in the Bas-Rhin, the more northerly outpost of vineyards in this most distinct of France’s wine regions. As Mélanie herself explained to me, the Bas-Rhin compared to the Haut-Rhin is akin to Côte de Nuits as compared to Côte de Beaune, or Cornas as compared to Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe. More mineral, more precision, more finesse and focus. Haut-Rhin has the better known wineries, and I love ’em, those rich, ripe Weinbachs and Zind-Humbrechts. But try Pfister’s wines from the Bas-Rhin if every once in a while you like your wine a little bit more scalpel-like.

Dry Creek Vineyard, the Tom Hanks of Sonoma County?

May 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Dependable. Kind. Interesting, with a subtle edgy streak mostly kept under wraps. I usually want adventuresome wines that set me off kilter. Sometimes I don’t. That’s what Dry Creek Vineyard wines are for: when you want something very good but very consistent.


The ever elegant DCV Sauvignon Blanc

Ruffle feathers tomorrow. Today, settle in and settle down. Here’s my take on a benchmark-y, stable, classic line-up of wines from California that will break few-to-no balls, bones, habits,  relationships or banks.

May Day! Drinkers of the World Unite! Lose commodity-wine fetishism!

May 1, 2013 § 1 Comment

The other possible quotation to have put in that headline is “Ask not what your wine can do for you, but what you can do for your wine.” Kennedy’s birthday is coming up later this month, but today is International Workers Day, so Marx trumps JFK.

Both lines are relevant to my column in today’s Portland Press Herald, wherein I try to loosen the grip of what’s-in-the-glass fetish, and open up the conversation about the true juiciness of wine residing in process. That’s it: Wine is a process, not a product. A living thing, not a lump of money or sense-satisfaction in a convenient tasty-liquid format.

The column is kind of long-winded (big surprise) with perhaps too little payoff, but I felt I needed to write it to set up how I’m going to shift the perspective of future columns somewhat.

Most of it came out of my recent trip to Slovenia and Italy, and several moments of revelation therein. Visiting different winemakers in Vipava, Karst, Trentino, Friuli, and the Veneto, I heard different perspectives and arguments on viticulture and vinification each time: simultaneously, everyone was disagreeing with each other and everyone was right. I wanted them to get together and discuss. I wanted the truth!

But they won’t all get together. So it’s up to me, you, and other interested drinkers to connect the strands. To approach each taste of wine (and/or of life) as if the only important matter is the story, the entire sequence of events and methodologies that led to the wine’s birth, and its ongoing development in bottle, in glass, in mouth, in soul.

Sagrantino, the better Cabernet from Napa

April 24, 2013 § 1 Comment

That’s a pretty snotty headline. But there’s something to it, as I hope my most recent column in the Portland Press Herald makes clear: the testy dance of tannin, mineral and plump fruit; the not-entirely-settled question of whether brains or brawn or beauty is to emerge triumphant. Sagrantino, the indigenous grape of Umbria in central Italy, offers so much hard-n-old along with amazingly yummy fruit.

Any good Sagrantino di Montefalco is rare, expensive, and requires many years in bottle before its two sides come together. But Montefalco Rosso is the (cheaper) first step: Umbria’s famous grape, blended with Sangiovese and some other stuff. Easier to love, but still emotionally intoxicating. Read all about it…

Dry Muscat, the sexy two-night stand you’ve been waiting for

April 13, 2013 § 1 Comment

Latest Portland Press Herald entreaty is to enter the strange, sometimes wacked but usually fascinating and often elegant world of dry Muscat. Make that worlds, not world, since there’s so much variety. And the wines are made all over the world, rarely if ever oaked and therefore-ish exceptional windows into terroir. In the article I mention Alois Lageder’s beauty from Alto Adige, plus a surprising Malaga Muscat, Botani, from Spain. And Bonny Doon’s Ca’ Del Solo Muscat is Adige-esque but does its own thang.

Fruit, flowers, and spices galore: there’s no better way to welcome spring

I do pull out a “two-night stand” metaphor because for me Muscat drinks like sex, lusty and sweaty with someone new, but you wake up in the morning and still want to hang. Yeah!