Amelior

IMG_3394‘Who am I you ask?  Let it be know that I am Amelior Amanitas, alchemist extraordinaire  and supreme sage of the north”. From Forgotten Realms, Dungeon & Dragons.  Impressive credentials , but totally unrated to our Amelior.

Our Amelior is a 750 ML bottle of delicious Petit Verdot wine.  However, our Amelior is as mysterious as the mythical Amelior Amanitas.  For the first time in my blog experience I have found almost nothing about this wine on the internet.

Let’s see if we can exegete this wine together. The wine is very good, exceptional in my humble opinion, and since I can’t find another review, I must be right!  Color Inky dark purple.  Pleasant nose.  I got violets and a hint of smoke.  Flavor think spice, chocolate, fig and plumbs.  Strong tannins.  Ideal for roasted meats.

The grape is Petit Verdot and since I can hear my wine drinking buddies yelling at me because I always mispronounce Petit Verdot that’s Puh-tee’ Vair-doe’.

100% Petit Verdot is  an uncommon wine.  Usually this grape plays a supporting role in Bordeaux blends or what we call a Meritage here in the United States.  A typical Meritage is a big does of Cabernet Sauvignon, say 60%, then a smaller amounts of Merlot or Malbec and even smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc or Petit Verdot.  By law a wine must contain at least 75% of one grape to  be labeled as that grape.  Many wines labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon are blend of 75% Cab and 25% others.  The bottle is still labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon.  Many wine makers, most notable Joseph Phelps, felt to make the best tasting wine using less than 75% of one grape would produce a better tasting product. As Aristotle said “the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”.  So, a Meritage can be more interesting to drink than a single varietal.  Personally I like both the single varietal versions and the blends.  I have a very strong preference for Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Now let’s read the label.  The wine is from California.  That’s not surprising because most really good Petit Verdot’s are from California.  The California climate is idea for growing Petit Verdot. It’s a 2016 vintage, which according the Wine Spectator was a good year.  Still not much of a story.  2016 is a little young for a Petit Verdot.  Because they are very tannic they need some time to settle down.  2013 or 2014 would have been preferred.

Lets move to the back label.  Here is where things got a  little more interesting.  The wine was Vinted and Bottled by Incognito Wines, Parlier California.  I couldn’t find anything on Incognito wines.  But I swear I’ve heard that name before.  I check Cellar Tracker and found 14 wines produced by Incognito.  No producer website.  I had reached a dead end.

Okay, I bought the wine at a retail outlet called The Wine Cellar.  This is not your usual wine shop.  The Wine Cellar is a retail outlet for Laithwaite’s Wine.  Laithwaite is a huge wine club.  They might be a story all by themselves.  They are actually a few Wine Clubs; Wall Street Journal Wine club and i believe two others.  I’ve been drinking their wines for years, never had a bad one yet.  So I went to their website. Amelior was there, unreviewed.   Dead End

Went to Vivino.  Once agin Amelior was there.  4 .0 out of possible 5.0 top 5% of wine ratings.  Now I’m getting somewhere.  Had a few reviews all positive.  That’s where it ended.  No information on the Winery, or the wine maker.  No drink by date.  Nothing, another dead end.

They did list similar wines. Two common names emerge “Inkblot” and “Freak Show”  both are Michael David Winery wines.  Michael David also has a wine called “Incognito”.   Maybe a connection.  Micheal Divid Winery is in Lodi which is about 154 miles away from Parlier.  So my case is weak.  Both Inkblot and the Freak Show are Petit Verdot’s.  Ah, I’m grasping at straw.  My finial analysis is I don’t know.  All I know if I enjoyed the wine.  I’d buy it again.  I’d by a case if I knew how long it would age.  Right now all I know is what’s above.

Try a Petit Verdot.  If nothing else it will give you better appreciation of the red blends you are drinking now.  If anyone knows anything about Incognito Wines let me know.

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Foradori Vigneti Delle Dolomiti 2013

 

IMG_3410Wine is essentially four things: weather, soil, grapes and people.  When these elements all come together and aline, something special happens. This is one of those wines.

People drink wine for all kinds of reasons.  Wine appeals to our sense of sight, smell and taste.  Enhances our enjoyment of food.  Heightens our enjoyment of social occasions.  And yes, we enjoy it’s intoxicating effects.

Wine tells stories.  Stories about the past, present and future.  The stories are about people, places, events, and locations. Wine cheers us, heals us, and enlightens us.

How did I fine this wine?  A show simply called “The Wine Show”.  The show is based at the D’Amico Wine Estate on the Laizo-Umbria boarder in the Italian hills.   The show has a segment called “the road trip” where wine expert, Joe Fattorini,  sends two actors Matthew Goode and Matthew Rhys on a quests to fill a case of wine that exemplifies Italian wine.  Week 10’s challenge was to find a wine that “ captures the spirit of the landscape the wine is from”.

Matt and Matt take off in their trusty Fiat 500.  No kidding. It’s gray not canary yellow.   It might have winedar, because they show a map of where they are going.  The trip in Episode 10 takes them to Northern Italy to the city of Trentino. 

You can watch the show on Ovation,  Hulu,  or go to the website “thewineshow.com” and watch on YouTube.  The scenery is awesome.

They travel to the plain of Campo Rotalian in the Dolomite mountains between Trentino and Tyrol.  The land is amazing.  It’s the crossroads of Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.  All these cultures are present but none dominates, why can’t every place be like that?

This is the home of the Teroldego grape.  It grows here like nowhere else.  Teroldego has a deep red color. Great nose.  Full body, fruit forward.  Nice finish and can be aged up to 10 years.  This is an ancient grape been cultivated for hundreds of years in Italy.  It reminds me of Pinot Noir. Campo Rotaliano is sandy and gravelly, perfect for this grape.  It’s a Goldilocks climate, not  hot, not too cold and sheltered from extremes by the looming mountains.

So, we have the grape, we have the soil, we have the weather, let’s add the people.  The winemaker is Elisabette Foradori.  It is said that Elisabatte’s wines are not so much “made” as “inspired” by the mountainous terrain.  I can testify you can taste the land and Foradori’s passion in the wine.  For thirty years, since she was a teenager and took over the vineyard when her father died she has worked to increase the quality and prestige of her wines. This mother of four and internationally famous winemaker has truly captured the landscape in her wines.

Foradori utilizes a unique aging process.  She doesn’t use barrels, no oak.  She uses terra-cotta urns where the wine sits and slowly matures.

There are other people involved with this story; Matthew Goode and Matthew Rhys to be sure, certainly Elisabatte Foradori, but also anyone who drinks the wine.  Elisabatte says “how can you tell the wine is good”?  “The bottle will be empty”.

The story here is of goodness.  A critic writing about the wine described the wine’s nose as being what a good dream smells like.  In drinking the wine I felt harmonious and balance.  Feelings that are often missing in our lives.  I got the feeling that Elisabatte cared more about her wine, land and family than she did about being famous.  Something else missing from our celebrity crazed world.

If you want to drink a wine that will have you believing “most people are good” this is the wine.

May you live in interesting times

 

Up until this morning I never knew this was a curse.  I thought it was what intellectuals said to each other to impress.  “Good Morning good fellow, where are you off to”?  “Oh, good morning to you chap, I’m bashing off to the lab for a bit of heavy thinking”.  “Jolly Oh!, well may you live in interesting times”.  To bring it down to my level, it’s something Spock would say to Dr. McCoy.

It’s called the Chinese curse, but it has no actual Chinese connection.  “Interesting” times are those connected to war and social disorder.  Where as “uninteresting” times are of peace and tranquillity.

I’ve always felt blessed that I did live in interesting times.  I can see my time has been both a curse and a blessing.  Like the Blake Shelton song  “I Lived It”;  

Oh, you think I’m talking crazy

In a different language you might not understand

Oh, That’s alright

That’s just the kind of life that made me who I am.

 Just taking my mind on a visit

Back in time ‘cause I miss it’

You wouldn’t know how to love it like I love it

Unless you lived it

  And man I lived it. 

For wine lovers there has never been a more interesting time.  More wine, better wine, more affordable wine.  More free time to enjoy the wine.

Science helps predict the weather better.  Sensors monitor everything from the soil, to the fermentation process.  Electronics and satellites monitor ships, airplanes, trucks movements and store’s inventory levels.  Refrigeration and Central heating systems keeps us and the wines at comfortable temperatures. 

Modern economics allow more of the worlds population to afford wine.  Trade allows wine to flow around the world.  Now,  a person in China, can afford, obtain, and enjoy a wine form France.  Soon wines being produced in China, might be on the table in a home in France.

Where am I going with this?

Two stories in Wine Spectator caught my eye.  I love all this technology.

  

Champagne in space.   Star Trek had its drinking scenes, but I don’t remember them drinking Champagne.  Looks like G. H. Mumm has solved the problem of how to keep all those bubbles from being sucked out into the ice cold black void where no one can hear you scream. Wow, it sounds like Connecticut.  They have design a champagne bottle that pours in zero gravity.  Here is video https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2018/06/gh-mumm-figured-out-how-to-serve-champagne-in-spac.html They also had to design special glasses.  The glasses even allow you to clink and toast.  BTW the glasses have no bases so you’ll have to always hold them.

 Wine is going to Mars.  The country of Georgia has a project to help colonize Mars by learning how to grow wine there.  The history of wine will not stop on Earth.  The project is call the IX Millennium project.  The Georgian National Museum has built a greenhouse mimicking the Martian terroir.  From a historical stand point Georgia has a creditable claim to have introduced wine to Earth, it’s only fitting that they get to pioneer wine on Mars.  They are currently focused on what varieties will do best on Mars.  Next step,  fermentation in clay kvevris in the Martian ground?

My mind races to envision all of this, well, maybe not the Champagne.  I can see robot vine workers tending vines growing on Mars.  Domed Chateau’s.  R2D2’s doing all the grunt work in the fermentation process. Shuttles bringing wine from Earth to Mars and making the return trip with Martian wine. Wine tourists?

Makes me want to be like some of the characters in the science fiction stories I have read.  Having my brain transferred into a robotic body so I can see how all this stuff works out. With a robotic body and the miracle of compound interest even I could have a 4,000 bottle wine cellar, and be able to drink it too.  Would the sensors be able to allow me to taste the wine?

For good or ill these are interesting times.  The older I get the more I say rejoice and be glad, because this is your life.  The future is bright and full of possibilities.  To the next generation I say fix the mistakes my generation has made, don’t judge, you’ll make mistakes of your  own.  Drink the wine, eat the cake, dance like no one is looking` and may you live in interesting times.

Aluado

IMG_3393It’s all about the grape, bout the grape no Trebbiano… okay that’s a grape too.  

I enjoy finding, learning about, and drinking wine made from different grapes.  “Man does not live by Cabernet alone, that might be in the Bible, or maybe not!  But, wine is not just a drink, it’s an adventure!  Yeah, just made that up, ah maybe not!

I’m excited about this wine because it’s made from the Alicante Bouschet grape.  This grape is usually used as a “teinturier” or a “dyer” used in other wines to add color.  The color of the wine is a very deep purple.  The grape is a hybrid of Petit Bouschet and Grenache.  Developed in the 19th century by viticulturist Henri Bouschet.

Our wine Aluado is from Portugal. The wine Maker is Jose Neiva Correia, who’s known in Portugal as MISTER WINE, and is owner with his brothers and sisters and is Chief wine maker at DFJ Vinhos.  When he set out to make a single varietal Alicante Bouschet people called him Aluado, “looney” or “moonstruck”.  Well, you don’t pull on superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger and you don’t call the Winner of “Revista de Vinhos” Portuguese  leading wine magazine’s Wine Oscar looney!

Aluado is impressive right out of the bottle.  First, the color, it’s beautiful, deep elegant purple.  Second, the nose is superb.  I was thinking Cabernet, and my second thought was Grenache.  Either way I was happy.  Taste; you get the spiciness of the Grenache, the mouth feel and body, with cherries of Cabernet.  The flavor was fantastic.  Folks this is a red meat wine and if you are looking for a wine for that summer steak barbecue, this is the wine.  The only thing “looney” about this wine is the price quality ratio.  Excellent value.

Now, the “experts” which I am not one, will tell you Alicante Bouschet produces and “uninspiring” wine that lacks distinction.  All I can say is “Bouschet” this wine is good!  You’ll have to look for it.  Look for wines produced in the Alentejo area of Portugal for you best values.

Now every wine has a story.  The story of Alicante Bouschet goes back to prohibition days.  During Prohibition the grape was grown in California, sold as a table grape.  Because of it’s thick skin it could withstand transportation to the East Coast.  The grapes came with a warning label on what not to to do to keep the grapes from becoming wine.  A very detailed warning, like don’t crush your grapes in a large container. Or if the grapes begin to bubble in the container…. you home wine makers understand the warning.  Where there’s a will, there’s a wine!

Will Alicante Bouschet take over the wine world?  No! It doesn’t have to it’s a great wine at an affordable price that’s not the same old, same old.  Diversity is the thing right?  So ask for it, they they say they don’t have it ask if them for another wine you can’t pronounce,  or walk out singing “it’s all about the grape, bout the grape”.

It’s Chewy!

Have you ever had a chewy wine?  Chewy is a real wine term.  It’s a common way of describing a BIG, BURLY almost solid feeling wine.  Usually it’s a full body, high tannic, high in alcohol, red wine.  It describes mouth feel.  For most, it’s a pleasant flavor found IMG_3316in robust red wines.

The occasion where the term came up I was enjoying a great bottle of a red Portuguese wine, and my buddy says, “I love this wine, it’s chewy”!  I was busting with pride.  I was also surprised as hell that my friend would use such a technical and eloquent wine term.  Wow, we’ve come a long way since our nights with Yellow Tail.

The wine was Vila Santa Reserva 2013, Vinho Regional Alentejano, from Portugal.  I’ve spoken many times about the fantastic, affordable wines coming from Portugal and here is just another example.

The name Vila Santa means “Holy Village”, which refers to the nearby city of Estermoz.  And as with most wines there’s a great story that goes with this one.  It’s called the “Miracle of the Roses”.  In the 13th Century Estremoz  was ruled by King Diniz and his wife Queen Isabel.  Isabel was dedicated to helping the poor, an activity the King was not keen about.  One day the Queen was leaving the castle with her apron full of bread when she was surprised by the King who demanded to see what she was hiding in her apron.  When she opened her apron the bread had been miraculously transformed into roses.  The King never again question Isabel and she continued her work free from his suspicion.  She also reportedly prevented a civil war in 1323 and was canonized in 1625.

The wine is an expertly assembled red blend.  Consisting of 25% Aragonez, 25% Alicante Bouschet, 20% Touriga Nacional, 20% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  One of the things I really like about Portuguese wines is they use their domestic varietals.  I also think they currently hold the commanding edge in the cost quality ratio in wine.

Part of the harvest is foot trodden in marble troughs called “lagares”, the rest is fermented in stainless steel tanks.  After a long post fermentation the blend is aged for nine months is French oak.

Color; bright garnet.  Nose: Ripe black fruits.  The flavor is big and bold with a spiciness from the French oak which really adds to the uniqueness of this wine.  Oh, yeah, it’s chewy!

 

EST! EST! EST! di Montefiascone

 

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There I was, minding my own business, heading north out of Rome, on A1 the Autostrade per Italia when I started getting weird messages from the WINEDAR.

I should note that the WINEDAR is a special option that came with my carrie yellow Fiat 500.  I should also say in the interest of full disclosed neither is real, nor am I driving, and I am not in Italy.  Other than that, everything I’m about to tell you is almost certainly true. Well, maybe!

So, the WINEDAR started flashing EST! take next exit!  EST, what’s EST?  Having failed Latin in High School I didn’t have a clue.

Next flashing message was EST!, EST! Turn left.  Okay, in WINEDAR I trust.  I turned left.  Twenty minutes later, the WIEDAR got very excited exclaimed EST!, EST!, EST! and the engined turned off and I costed to a parking spot.

I saw a sign that announced I was in Montefiascone.

Now EST! EST! EST! di Montefascone is a DOC northwest of Rome near Lake Bolsena.  Considered by most wine experts as “the dullest white wine with the strangest name in the world”.   Wow, can the WINEDAR pick them!

So, I got out of the Fiat and started walking around and saw a sign that said  “Se state fernando un sego che is consiglia di bere questo vine el”! My Itailan being not much better than my Latin I think that means “If you are looking for a sign that says you should drink wine this is it”!  So, there’s my sign!  I went in and sat down.

The wine was EST!, EST!, EST! di Montefiascone Secco 2016 winery Pietro.  The wine was clear bright yellow straw, Nose of pears, Tasty, light body, low alcohol. It’s a blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes.  I liken the flavor to a Bosc pear or green apple.  Went great with cheese and dried tomato with chicken fajitas.

The critics say the history of the wine is more compelling in than the wine, I’d say they are being harsh.  The wine was excellent.

But, here’s the story of the wine. In 1111 a German Bishop, Johann Fugger was fallowing the German King Henry V to Rome where the Henry was to be crowned as Holy Roman Emperor.  For Fugger the trip was more vacation than politics. Each day he sent a servant ahead to scout out which Inn had the best wine and accommodations.  The servant would mark the door of the selected Inn with EST which means “IT IS”.  The servant was so impressed with the wines of Montefiascone he wrote EST! EST! EST! on the door of the Inn.

The Bishop was so taken with the wine that he returned to Montefiascone and lived there the rest of his life.  The wine took on the name of EST! EST! EST!.  Tradition has it that on the anniversary of the Bishops death it is appropriate to pour a bottle of this wine over his tombstone.

The wine is as great as the story.  Trust me WINEDAR is never wrong!

Big Data

I’m really enjoying my new job.  One reason is because it is exposing me to new ideas, new technologies, and new ways of thinking. Plus, I like the people.

One technology that I have learned about  that is very cool is wireless power transfer.  You might own this technology already.  Instead of plugging your cell phone into a charger, you lay your cell phone on a charging pad, that’s wireless power transfer.  Now let’s say you have a smart door lock, a door lock that you can control with a smartphone, card reader, or sensor.  How do you power that?  Well, for the most part they use 4 AA batteries.  They needed to be changed about once a year, like your smoke detector.  Not a big deal if you were a homeowner with two doors.  What if you were a college campus with 100’s or thousands of doors?  The expense in batteries, maintenance and the environmental impact of all those batteries would be enormous.  Now wire a wireless charging station in the door jam near the lock.  The lock would be recharged indefinitely at a far lower cost than just the batteries and the savings would be huge!

Now think about, toasters, coffee pots, crockpots, blenders, and appliance you currently have to plug in an outlet in a kitchen, or think of TV’s, lamps, computers, or anything you need to plug into the wall at home or the office.  Think about no cords getting into the way.  Now, you are thinking wireless power transfer.

One more, how about electric public transportation cars, charging at stops?  Or electric cars charging at traffic lights, shopping malls, supermarkets, places of business, and in the home garage or driveway?  Think about all this happening in the next five years.

The other technology I’ve learned about is BIG DATA.  What is Big Data?  Big Data is the process of examining and analysing large and varied data sets (Big Data) to uncover hidden or unknown correlation patterns, like market trends, customer preferences and other sometimes surprising useful information that can help the user make more insightful and better informed decisions.  Think a spreadsheet on steroids!

All this and a glass of Syrah got me to thinking about the implications of Big Data on wine.  Well, I’m happy to report Big Data is already on the job.  Gallo and IBM have teamed up with an irrigation systems using satellite imagery covering 20,000 acres down to ground sensors that can monitor as few as 40 to 50 vines and determine how much water those plants need for optimum yield.  Results, water use cut by 25% grape yields up 26% and you can taste the results if you drink Dark Horse Wines Cabernet Sauvignon.  The computer system handled everything, no humans were need to open or close values.  IBM is also working with Almond, Citrus and Marigold flower growers to prove this system out.

The company Enolytics is a Big Data wine company co-founded by Cathy Huyghe author of “Hungry for Wine”.  The system starts with data within the wine industry and then moves out to third party sources.  You begin by asking a question you want to answer.  How can I sell more wine to Millennials or what’s should my new label should look like?  Let’s pick we want a new label.  The traditional way of doing this is developing several labels, picking the ones liked best internal to the organization, taking those out and getting some customer feedback picking one and running with it.

Using big data, you can look at every wine being sold thru e-commerce look at that wines labeled, compare sales to company size and distribution, determine demographics, who’s buying the wine.  From this first pass you analysed thousands of labels never even seen in most wine shops.  You got a clue of those labels effectiveness over a wide audience.  You got a feel for impact with cultural and age differences.  You could next compare tourism and wine purchases within the areas where the wine sales came from to see if that label cross cultural differences.  Now, you’re getting a feel for label preference by sales, demographics and acceptance level on a world view.  You might decide you need different labels for different regions.  Or pick one that has the most universal appeal.  You could then try your label and test reactions in online consumer behavior or see how fashion designers react to it.  You could test your labels against the competition, even competition you don’t think you have like beer, soda, tea and coffee labels.  Then you can check you label for legal compliance everywhere you want to market you wine.  Now realize, you can do all this, and more, sitting at your desk in real time looking at a computer dashboard.  Check out Enolytics at www.enolytics.com.

Not only will big data help winemakers grow better grapes with less water and less people, it will help make better decisions in the winemaking process, make better wines, and then allow better marketing decisions.  Big data will also help consumers make better choices about which wines to buy and from what distribution channel.  Inform on how best to pair wines with what foods.

Big Data helps us to know what we don’t know.  To learn what questions to ask.

Is there a downside to Big Data?  Yeah, some people are scared to death of this technology.  The first thing is Big Data  incentivizes the collection of data, any data, and holding it longer. Not sure I’m comfortable with that.  As a result of this data collection and retention there will be a loss of personal privacy.  Not comfortable with that at all.  Here is my biggest concern.  Big Data will tilt the playing field to BIG INSTITUTIONS.  Big to me is not beautiful, but possibly envidiable. The entity that I worry most about is BIG GOVERNMENT.  I can see how they could, are, and will use big data and reach all the wrong conclusions and that scares me. Elements of these fears are in Dave Eggers book “The Circle” and yes there is  the movie.

In the movie Tom Hanks has a line “Knowing is good. Knowing everything is better”! Is it? If it’s to make a better wine I’m all for it, if it’s to engineer society I’m not so sure.  It’s a very fine line between Utopia and tyranny.

This blog represents my opinions and not any other entity.

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