Benevolent Wine Dictator Strikes Again

July 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

You know how when there’s something you know something about, and you talk with someone who’s interested in that something but has her or his facts a bit screwy, but thinks she or he knows quite a bit, and you want to correct the misinformation but don’t want to come off like a jerk, so you’re caught between fake-smiling and letting it go, or bringing the knowledge hammer down, and in the aftermath you resent yourself for either the fake abiding or the heavy-handed pedantry?

That was how I started my Portland Press Herald wine column last week. The rest of what I wrote was my way of exploring the best way to be of true help when you know something someone doesn’t.

Along the way, I mention some particular wines I like a lot — Chablis, Pinot Noir, Riesling — which betray many calcified notions we have of grape variety, region and style.

The big lesson is: Kill your idols, smash your categories. Every moment is a new one, and the primary purpose of your knowledge is to help you see how little you know. Knowledge to make you more curious, less rigid, more open and accepting.

Is German Pinot Noir (from Mosel) the world’s most popular wine? Yes! Er, I mean: No! But drink their Riesling and dream with me

June 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

My latest Portland Press Herald wine column brings together the world’s two greatest grapes, Riesling and Pinot Noir, from a spectacularly talented winemaker, Konrad Haehn at Freiherr Von Schleinitz in Germany’s northern Mosel Valley. The wines fly a bit under the radar, but they’re singular, delicious and reasonably priced. I write about the Kabinett Riesling and the Pinot Noir, but they do a full line-up of Pradikat Rieslings (Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese) as well as the lower-priced VS line which has a Dry and Off-dry style. Try a couple, and then go for the Von Schleinitz (sparkling) Sekt, which is my hands-down favorite sparkling wine in the world and yes I’ve had grower Champagnes. (The Sekt is less complicated than great Champagne, but more fun than most.)

Then, there’s the Von Schleinitz Pinots. The straight-up red is steely but delicate, a pure expression of Mosel slate terroir.  Of Von Schleinitz’s 5-6,000 cases per year total, a tiny sliver of Pinot Noir rosé is made, and then there’s the even-more-limited-production Blanc de Noir (Pinot, with skins removed before any maceration). It’s a mind-blowing magic act of a wine, with the full, suede mouthfeel of a red and the acidic cut of a…well, of a Riesling. Don’t know if you can find it where you live, but ask around…

Von Schleinitz isn’t distributed everywhere in the U.S., though word of their greatness is spreading. By you, if you catch on!

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