Earlier this summer we received an invitation to visit the historic Giordano winery and to tour the famed Piedmont wine region of northwest Italy. For those who read Bacchus and Beery, you know what fans we are of Giordano wines, their high quality and value. Our Giordano journey started in the quaint town of Alba, whose roots date back to pre-Roman times.
Damn, it’s hot outside. We really enjoy sipping wine on the Bacchus and Beery patio all summer long. Nothing puts a damper on a good glass of vino than summer heat. Of course, you can keep your wine in a messy chiller or ice bucket but then it gets too cold to taste all the subtle flavors and you’re left waiting for it to warm up to the perfect not too hot…not too cold Goldilocks temperature.
Recently we received two sample products that claim to help beat the summer heat…and we love them! Take a look at these unique wine temperature control solutions. Both will make outstanding gifts or additions to your home.
It’s peculiar the songs that pop into your head and when they choose to take up residence. In this case the tune was an 80’s British pop dance hit I never really liked. But as you will see the song may have been more prophetic than I ever would have imagined.
On the fifth day of our 2013 Italian adventure, we drove five hours from the quaint town of Alba in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy to the renaissance era Tuscan town, Gaiole in Chianti, deep in the heart of Tuscan wine country. The route was mostly along the Autostrade (Italian highways) so the driving was easy in our rented blue Peugeot, even though I had been warned by many about driving in Italy. The only real challenge came as we approached picturesque Gaiole. Both our GPS and Goggle Maps kept routing us along dirt roads across the Tuscan hillsides in a 10 mile loop, never being able to locate our B&B.
“Whether I’m making a $100 bottle of wine or a $12 bottle of wine, I put just as much effort into each wine. All wines have to be balanced to be successful.” Charles Smith, winemaker
Charles Smith has been called everything from the Wildman of Walla Walla to Winemaker of the Year (2009 Food and Wine Magazine & 2010 Seattle Magazine). Looking more like rock star Sammy Hagar of Van Halen fame, than the stereotypical winemaker, Charles is a rock star in the winemaking world.
After years of managing rock bands across Europe, Charles landed in Walla Walla to follow his true passion; winemaking. His first vintage was a mere 330 cases of 1999 K Syrah. A self-taught winemaker, Smith created the House Wine label which he sold in 2006. Today his labels include K Vintners, Charles Smith Wines, Secco Italian Bubbles, Charles and Charles Project and Vino.
We met up with Charles on a beautiful spring morning in Austin, Texas in the courtyard of the trendy Hotel San Jose on South Congress. After the interview, we headed out for post-interview enchiladas at Guero’s Taco Bar, just up South Congress Avenue. While sitting at the bar, one fellow looked to his friend and pointed at Charles saying “look dude, this is cool thing about Austin, we’re sitting at a bar with Sammy Hagar.”
As you will see, Charles Smith is as unique an individual as are the wines he strives to create. He prides himself in creating high-quality value-priced wines that appeal to the consumer who might not reach for a glass of wine as their first beverage of choice as well as the budget conscious wine enthusiast.
“I am going to make it (wine seminars) worth their while. I have a short attention span. I don’t want to be bored. I am going to do whatever I can to make them walk away and say, that over-delivered.” Mark Oldman
During the Austin Food and Wine Festival we had the chance to meet wine style guru Mark Oldman, two time winner of Georges Duboeuf Best Wine Book of the Year Award for: Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine: 108 Ingenious Shortcuts to Navigate the World of Wine with Confidence and Style and Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine: Pleasure, Value, and Adventure Beyond Wine’s Usual Suspects.
Oldman has a distinct style described by Bon Appètit magazine as “winespeak without the geek” and by Publishers Weekly as “the ideal mix of wine connoisseur, showman, and everyday dude.”
I didn’t know what to expect from Oldman, of Drink Bravely fame. He was very fun, engaging and frankly a blast to chat with. While in Austin he professed his love for the Lone Star State repeatedly, interesting for a Jersey guy. He even pulled out his Longhorn money clip in testament.
One of the funniest moments however, was during his last seminar when he pulled out a 3X5 foot blowup of his outstanding arrest warrant from the 2012 AFW festival and his newly minted “Free Oldman” t-shirt. It seems Mark was caught by the tireless (obviously with too much time on their hands) Austin police for ….drumroll… Jaywalking, which in Austin is, believe it or not, a criminal offense. The crowd rolled out of their chairs laughing.
“I still get excited when I find a $17 wine that blows me away.That is a continuous hunt for me at the magazine.” Ray Isle
During the 2013 Austin Food and Wine Festival, I had the chance to sit down and chat with Food & Wine Magazine Executive Wine Editor, Ray Isle. A self-described “Texan living in New York,” Ray was one of the festival’s preeminent wine presenters, offering three seminars. His gentile Texan style eschewed any sense of wine snobbery as he shared his knowledge and passion for wine.
2013 was the second year of the current incarnation of the Austin Food and Wine Festival and by all accounts, much improved. The festival is, in its way, much like an excellent fine wine…a bit expensive but ultimately satisfying and hedonistically rewarding.
Chardonnay, in my opinion, gets a bad rap. Sure some are over-blown and flabby, but face it…many folks enjoy that creamy buttery profile that comes from oak and malolactic fermentation; good for them. That said, stainless steel fermented Chardonnay can be lean and crisp and many are somewhere in between. Just about anyone who enjoys white wine can find a Chardonnay to suit their palate.
So for those who prescribe to the tired ABC adage “Anything But Chardonnay,” I say phooey…This summer I’m “All In for Chardonnay!”
Guest Post By Erica Kritt, The Cruise Web Team
It’s amazing that two great things can combine to equal one extraordinary thing. Take for instance grilled cheese and tomato soup or Oreos and milk. Together these combinations are unbeatable. The same is true of combining wine and cruising, two great things that are truly greater than the sum of their parts.
Cruise lines are now offering special itineraries that feature large selections of wine and experts to educate their guests on everything from pairing to how the grapes are grown in various regions of the world. These cruises can include wine events onboard, wine-themed shore excursions, talks with wine experts, and special wine tastings.
Through Halo Branded Solutions we have found a classy and elegant solution to our wine gift and promotional dilemmas. While we are wine lovers in the professional service industry, these customizable wine accessories would be equally effective promotional as marketing tools for wineries with tasting rooms, restaurants and caterers, culinary schools, wine distributors and wine retailers.