‘Twas the Night Before the ‘Wine of the Year’ Was Announced

Santa Claus

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the winery,

my tasting room staff wore their holiday finery.

The sales were outstanding. ‘Twas like nothing before.

All the wines (even Merlot) seemed to fly out the door.

My winemaker fretted as the deadline drew near.

Wine Spectator 100, would this be the year?

To be on that list would be so prestigious.

But another year missed would be so egregious.

Then out in the vineyard there arose such a clatter.

I feared it was mildew, Pierce’s or shatter.

There, atop a small sleigh that defied quantum physics,

sat a round, bearded man and eight tiny critics.

They were chuggin’ down Harlan, the music was crankin’.

I knew in a moment it had to be Shanken.

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Born Digital Wine Awards – WineSnark Honored in Europe

bdwabywim-logo_transparentThe Born Digital Wine Awards has shortlisted WineSnark in the Best Editorial/Opinion Wine Writing competition. I think of BDWA as an international version of the Wine Blog Awards and WineSnark is up against competition from the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, New Zealand, South Africa, and Brazil. Here’s the post that somehow fooled the judges.

The Angel’s Share. It Will Be Mist. (Revisited)

Angel in Montepulciano wine cellar copyCenturies ago, Cognac producers learned that impermeable oak barrels were very good for keeping spirits in, but not very good at keeping spirits out. When cellarmasters discovered their precious product was disappearing from the barrels locked in their basements, they came to the logical conclusion that angels must be visiting the cellars and drinking from the heavenly casks. The missing portion became known as “la part des anges” or the “angel’s share”. I think most Cognac producers believe the 2% to 4% that disappears every year is fair compensation for the angel’s empyrean influence on their maturing brandy.

Two to four percentage points might not seem like much but it adds up over time. A single Cognac cask holds 263 bottles when full. Sixty years later the angel’s share will reduce that by 83 bottles, or approximately half the Cognac Busta Rhymes and Snoop Doggy Dog drink on Tuesday night. On the bright side, Cognac producers don’t have to pay tax on the missing spirit, leaving me to wonder; what does a line item deduction for angel’s consumption look like on a tax return?

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Either I’m Getting Older or I’m Not As Young As I Used To Be

How the sweet red wine trend sent me off my rocker.

don-carter-old-codger-posterIt’s the fall wine-tasting season and after sampling a thousand wines over the past month I’m left with the uneasy feeling that I may be suffering from old-timer’s disease. The symptoms include difficulty understanding why red wines are getting sweeter, confusion about labels that look like gothic murder scenes, and appalling marksmanship around the spit bucket. I think there might also be something about forgetfulness.

You may be thinking, “Aw fiddlesticks! Tasting wine doesn’t make you feel old.”

Just as sure as eggs is eggs there’s a chasm forming in the bedrock of wines priced under $20 that make us prellennials scratch our balding heads and wonder what in tarnation is going on. I feel old because by golly, I can remember back in the day when wines were dry!

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Life On The Road – Without Any Brakes

Gloria Steinem wrote, “More reliably than anything else on earth, the road will force you to live in the present.”

Oddly enough, Ms. Steinem’s words inspired me to revisit the past. This is a tale about life on the road – a passion I discovered long before wine but found no less intoxicating.

WineSnark Desert PondIt’s not like I thought I was going to die.

My canteen had run dry the previous day, the last of my granola two days before that. I desperately missed the water, the granola not so much. Sure, I was in a desert without food and water, dehydrated, exhausted, a Barry Manilow tune stuck in my head, but I didn’t think it would kill me. I only hoped it would.

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Margrit Mondavi. A Lighthouse for the Arts

Caroline Carter & Margrit MondaviNew Jersey summers are spent ‘down the shore.’ Every year my family heads south to read books on the beach, create music on the deck, and paint. Over the course of our vacation the growing collection of watercolor paintings, almost exclusively seascapes, flowers and lighthouses, compete for a coveted spot on the refrigerator door.

My wife Caroline brings her favorite watercolor books for inspiration and for the last few years that has included Margrit Mondavi’s Sketchbook, Reflections on Wine, Food, Art, Family, Romance, and Life. Caroline owns two copies of Margrit’s autobiography. The first copy, dog-eared, sand filled and paint spattered, comes with us to the beach. The second copy, pristine and autographed, is kept safely tucked away at home and in Caroline’s heart.

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2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 Years After (part 2)

WineSnark 2006 Napa Cab Showdown 2So you think 2016 has been a bizarre year? In 2006 the Vice President shot his friend in the face with a shotgun and Sacha Baron Cohen won a Golden Globe Best Actor award for his portrayal of Borat. But hey, the news wasn’t all bad in 2006. I was ten years younger, my friends had never heard of obstructive sleep apnea, and the world was still blissfully unaware of Justin Bieber.

In California the wine trade was schizophrenically trying to evaluate the 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons. Wine historian Jancis Robinson called 2006, “Far from a banner year”¹ while Bo Barrett, winemaker for Chateau Montelena, told the Napa Valley Vintners, “It should be a bitchin’ vintage!”²

Suspecting the facts would fall somewhere in the middle, WineSnark canvassed some politicians to find out the truth.

Ha ha ha ha!

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