Surely it’s not too late for a few New Year’s resolutions? It’s seems so soon to be a few days into the New Year. I was busy trying to find last year’s list, just to see what I missed out on procrastinating about. Just say I’m just well-practiced in putting off making (and breaking) those pesky resolutions. So here goes, a partial salute to the New Year and a look ahead to months of swirling, sipping and scribbling.
Taste more Colorado wines – Notice I specifically didn’t say “drink” more Colorado wines.
There are many in-state wineries whose tasting rooms I’ve yet to sully, and this year I plan to sully as many as possible.
That said, there also are some (many? few?) Colorado wineries who wines aren’t worth drinking, sad to say.Over-reaching, under-ripe, too many chemicals and too few years’ experience all add up to undrinkable. I’ll taste as many as possible and steer away from those who deserve steering away from.
Find the hidden gems – Sounds great, too bad it’s already taken by Colorado Ski Country USA.
Those wise marketing folks at Ski Country know a winner when they market it and I hereby resolve to let you in on the better-kept secrets of Colorado winemaking.
You won’t ready anything about the plonk (see No. 1) but each year I find some gems at the Colorado Mountain Winefest.This year, I’ll take you with me when we swing around the state.
Encourage wine drinkers to use better glassware – Sure, you can use a jelly jar for drinking wines, but then you could drive a Yugo to the Indianapolis 500, too. Good stemware, the kind that allows you to hold, swirl and sniff, isn’t expensive and lets you enjoy the flavors, bouquets and beauty of the wine.
If you think it’s chi-chi or stuck-up or fancified, that’s OK, too. Some day you’ll be served a nice wine in a decent glass and you’ll wonder what took you so long.
Drink more sparkling wine – Like, this might be possible only if they add a few days to the calendar. Don’t save sparkling wines only for “special occasions.” There are some fun sparklers out there costing under $10 and some killers in the $20 and under range.
Besides, haven’t you noticed how opening a sparkling wine – a sparkling wine other than Cold Duck, that is – makes any occasion special?
This also is the year to explore grower Champagnes, wines from farmers who once sold their grape to immense wine houses but now are bottling their own labels.
Try more (domestic) chardonnay – I’ll admit it: Domestic chardonnay is getting better. By “better,” I mean it’s trending away from the over-blown, over-oaked, over-ripe, peaches-and-cream flavors that ruined California chardonnay for millions of former fans. Winemakers are starting to rediscover the taut minerality and vibrant acidity that made chardonnay America’s favorite white wine. South America and South Africa also are producing some excellent chardonnays but the finest chardonnays still come from France.
Explore more – Speaking of California chardonnay, did you know some excellent (not chardonnay) white wines come from Spain (viura), Italy (trebbiano), Germany (riesling), New Zealand (sauvignon blanc) and South Africa (chenin blanc), to name a few varieties? Not to mention Bulgaria (traminer), Portugal (albariño) and Austria (riesling).
Ditto for red wines. There’s really no excuse for falling into a wine-drinking rut.
Stay out of a wine-drinking rut – Enough said.
There always is an adventure waiting when it comes to trying new wines.
While the adventure occasionally proves to be one you’d just as soon miss next time it’s offered, most of the time it’s an adventure worth repeating.
Although I’m not sure it’s considered an adventure the second time around.
Maybe it’s more like falling in love for the second (or third or 20th) time, when it’s the promise of something new and exciting that keeps you on track.
This latest adventure began last winter, arriving in an eight-sided box containing the first of several selections from Octavin’s new Home Wine Bar system of boxed wines.
So far, and six wines into the adventure, it’s been an enjoyable and tasty ride.
Octavin wines (the wine is in a heavy plastic bag, which is inside the eight-sided cardboard box) is produced by Underdog Wine Merchants of Livermore, Cal., who, according to their Web site, are dedicated to offering “unique, esoteric wines that are distinctly characteristic of their origins and variety.”
There’s been a lot written about Underdog and their Octavin wines (check out the media section on the Octavin Web site) in the last six months or so as they’ve become better known and better distributed.
A month or so ago I received the Octavin Silver Birch (N.Z.) 2009 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and then a few days ago, the nice FedEx lady dropped off a box of the Boho Vineyards 2008 California Old Vine Zinfandel.
I opened the Sauvignon Blanc almost immediately, had a couple of glasses, and then kept the wine in the ‘fridge for about 5 weeks. Honest, I didn’t forget it, I was benignly testing the wine’s shelf life, something most boxed wines love to brag about.
Next to the Octavin box was an opened (and re-corked) bottle of SB from another producer, and when I tasted them side by side last week, the bottle was flatter than my 401(k) while the Octavin plastic-sealed wine was fresh and sparkly and wonderfully refreshing on a 98-degree afternoon.
As we all know, light and oxygen are the two greatest enemies of wine, and Octavin’s plastic liner and heavy cardboard box protected the precious liquid inside from both.
Even though I ignored the wine for most of a month, the wine forgave me, retaining its pear and green apple flavors balanced by the minerality (a neat wine-type word that really means something) and crisp acidity associated with the SBs from the cool regions of Marlborough.
The latest newcomer to my wine-storage area in the basement is the Boho Vineyards 2008 California Old Vine Zinfandel. I punched open the box last night and poured a glass, pleased with the big plum and jam fruit flavors and the easy-to-manage tannins that winemaker David Georges coaxed from the grapes.
Another plus is the typical (at least what I think are typical) alcohol levels (13.7-percent, in this case) that make American zinfandels not only food-friendly but also drinker-friendly.
Both wines are priced at $24 for the three-liter box (the equivalent of four .750-liter bottles), which makes this adventure affordable, as well.