Sunday, January 30, 2005

ZAP - The Morning After...

Spent the day (1.29) at the Zap (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) Festival. Crowded won't even begin to describe the scene in the Festival Pavilion, and the Herbst Pavilion was downright claustrophobic. Craziness! It was like trying to get to the front of the stage at a big concert. Earlier in the day, when only the sponsors and the press were milling about, it was nice. I didn't have to wait to taste a thing. When the multitudes poured in at 1 pm, things got crazy. I managed to hide out in the Press Box and try some of the best of the best. While I'm not any kind of a Zinfandel fan, I did enjoy -

Bonny Doon NV Cardinal Zin "Yeastly Bold Vines"
Yup, instead of the standard-bearing "Beastly Old Vines" on the old stalwart Cardinal Zin - this stuff has spent a lot of downtime on the lees , resulting in a really striking character that's missing from your usual California Zin.

Starry Night Winery 2002 Old Vine Zinfandel, Tom Feeney Ranch, Russian River Valley
A real classy number. Nicely structured and balanced.

Burrell School 2002 CV Zinfandel/Matero Blend, Santa Clara Valley
Of course, my favorite of the day would be a strange Zinfandel/Matero (our old friend Mourvedre) blend from another hometown hero. Good fruit, but with that visceral earthiness that I like.

Those are the ones that stick in my memory the most. I didn't get to do nearly as much tasting as I would like, and a lot of it was just...well...kind of unmemorable if not bad.

I'll tell you, I saw so many hipster kids there. Guys in trucker hats and girls in faux fur rubbing shoulders with tweedy Harry Waugh types. Late in the afternoon, I went out the side door for a cigarette on the pier. I saw three old men in suspenders and caps, all lazed back in folding chairs, snoring loudly with their empty tasting glasses clinking at their feet. A couple girls nearby had an impromptu picnic of baguettes and cheese and a bottle swiped from somewhere. Seagulls, loudly soared overhead, and the seals barked under the pier. San Francisco in a nutshell.

My compatriots and I did some meager sales, but it ended well. We all had a lovely time. See you all at the Rhone Rangers event in March.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

For Wine Blog Wednesday #5 = Wrongo Dongo

It's time I start actually posting here again. What better occasion to ressurect this moribund thing than with my first contribution to World Wide Wine Blog Wednesday!

Wrongo Dongo has them ALL beat in the wacky name department.

I first came across this little seven dollar number one afternoon in my friendly neighborhood wine store.
"Wanna try something really fun?" Bill, the clerk, asked me, eyes sparkling with enthusiasm.
He handed me the bottle and grinned. "This is alot of fun. It's from the Jumilla region of Spain, it's what the Spanish call Monastrell or Mataro. The French call it Mourvedre."
I know Mourvedre, and Bill knows my love of sturdy workhorse Rhone varietals, so I figured, why not?
The nose was at once familliar. It reminded me of the old compost heap in the backyard- coffee grounds and eggshells mouldering under a wild blackberry bush. Wet earth and sidewalks. I like such memories when I stick my nose in the glass. But the first mouthful was almost a shock. It was thick and greasy and tasted of wet leather and blackberry jam, an earthy, meaty taste that almost made me wince. I wasn't entirely turned off, but intrigued enough to empty my glass and fill another. "Hey everybody! Check out this crazy wine!" The same awkward initial reaction, but the eventual acceptance, and finally, enjoyment. "I gotta get me some of that!" They all said, grabbing their coats. I suppose that's the "fun" aspect of it that Bill spoke of. How something can grow on you.
Is Wrongo Dongo bad wine? No, of course not. Is Wrongo Dongo great wine? No, of course not. Is Wrongo Dongo good wine? Sure. It's definately not for everyone, but it roused me from my Cotes du Rhone slump and kept me interested while I finished the bottle. It went great with a Tuesday night roasted chicken, even better with a leftover slab of prime rib just warmed over.
I included a bottle of the Dongo in a gift basket I assembled for a friend of mine. A week later, I recieved a cryptic email from him. All it said was - "The Dongo doesn't f- around." True dat!

More information about World Wine Wine Blogging Wednesday here!
And make sure you check out all the Wacky Wine Names at Chez Pim!