Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bringin' in the Southpaw

Sometimes, a severe writing funk just takes a cold, hard smack to the face.

That's my impression of getting punched in the face. Pretty good, huh? What? Yes, that's a "hulk hand". Uh huh. I'm a thirty-year-old man. Yep, I got those hulk hands as a 30th birthday gift. No, I'm not single. Agreed. I don't get it either.

Phantom conversation aside, and back to the clever metaphor. This wine pictured is a serious left-hook to the face. And it's the cold-cocking that got me writing again...

But it all makes sense, doesn't it? The brand is South Australia's Mollydooker (means "left hander"), and the wine is the 2008 "The Boxer" Shiraz. How's that for truth in advertising? Anyway, I've heard rave reviews on Twitter about this wine (and it fetched a 91 point score from Wine Spectator, whatever that means), priced anywhere from $20-25 clams in many retail stores. Not exactly the heist-of-the-year, but I'm not exactly saving up for any hot dates (see "hulk hands" conversation above).

Before I get into tasting notes, I do want to note that this wine is the absolute poster child for Australian wines, especially for all of you learning wine. The Land Down Under- known for kangaroos, koalas, "Men At Work", and "Midnight Oil" (sorry, I only know marsupials and 80's rock bands)- is also a wine behemoth: the 9th largest producer in the world as of 2007 (source: wikipedia). However, the population of the entire nation is around 20 million, or that of New York State. For this reason, export is huge, and the Aussies check in at #4 (chalk it up to wikipedia again). With that daunting responsibility to keep the world (especially the U.S.) nice and toasty, Australia wine often focuses on a very marketable style: ready-to-drink, with softer tannins and big fruit flavors. Basically, if you were that guy that spiked the punch at the high-school sock hop, you've got a little Colin Hay in you.

"The Boxer" is no exception to the rule. Made from at least 85% Shiraz (aka "Syrah" in France and the States), it's already got a heavy-duty pedigree. On the nose, I get pretty intense black cherry, raspberry, spice, pepper, eucalyptus, and grape "Big League Chew"...kind of a fake fruit-punch flavor. Usually, the nose is where I make my assessment of whether I like the wine. However, this one's a real pipe bomb in the mouth. Tons of dark fruit, black pepper, vanilla, cinnamon, guava (? ...just going by the notes, folks), cherry, berries, and charcoal. The mouth-drying tannins are definitely there, but they're pretty smooth, especially considering that this is a 2008 wine (granted, that comes earlier in the Southern Hemisphere). Oh, yeah. The alcohol by volume is on the bottle at 16%. You feel it in your nostrils, you taste it in the wine. It's THERE, but integrated pretty well for being that high.

Overall, a pretty good wine. I've got no problem with big flavors, a lot of fruit, and high alcohol. I could see how I'd get sick of it if I only drank typical Australian wines, but that's yet another reason why wine is so interesting. The incredible subtleties and delicacy of a European wine may be manifested in a COMPLETELY different style somewhere else in the world, even though the grape may be the same. Such examples are a great way to learn how climate, soil, irrigation, and winemaking can manipulate the final product. Furthermore, one can start to learn what styles go better with food, and what go better with a tidy buzz.

Speaking of food, this massive wine befuddled me. What to pair it with?

Lamb? Possibly, but I'm thinking more beastly...

A dirty, dirty wild hog? Getting warmer...

Patterson's Bigfoot? That may be the kind of gaminess this wine needs, and it would really bring new meaning to the prospect of Messin' with Sasquatch.

Alls I know is that you need to approach "The Boxer" with caution. I'm on night two with this bottle, and there's still plenty to go. Drink it all in one sitting, and you may end up like this:

Eureka! Wendy's hamburgers it is! So raise your glasses to getting that writing groove back (hopefully- you're the judge of that), those winemaking blokes down south, and to finding the perfect pairing: Cheers, Sláinte, L'Chaim, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

When Your Mind's a Complete Blank...

...is it better to put something- anything- out as a post on the site, or is it better to just leave the site outdated? The argument for the latter is that "cop out" posts bring down the quality of the content altogether.

The support for the former: maybe the quality of the content wasn't that good to begin with. See? How good could it be? I'm ending sentences with prepositions. Rascal!

I have some wine in the keep to review, but I'm really not in the mood for wine (I know...crazy). I watched a lot of football this weekend, yet I'll leave analysis to the experts (some would say that about the wine reviews too). Had some good food and wine on Friday, but didn't take any pictures or notes...sometimes it makes sense just to enjoy the moment.

But I'll keep snapping pictures and taking notes. Good content's out there. I think...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another kind of flood...

For some, writing is a paycheck. For others, a passion. Others yet, an escape.

As I sit in my living room, wonder if and when the raging water outside is going to start seeping into my carpet, ruining an investment that already has us stretched thin, I can think of nothing better than getting on the computer and typing.

And I've got it easy. Yeah, the yard has washed away, a literal delta of silt covering what was grass, but at least the home is unharmed. Furthermore, no one I know has been injured, displaced, or killed. I wish I could say that for others in the city tonight.

Forgive my unusually somber mood...just a little shellshocked right now. Fortunately, one of the great things about wine and food writing is that its focus is on four things that offer a great deal of comfort: a good meal, good drink, good friends, and family. It doesn't really focus on shelter, but hey- that's good too. Let's knock on wood!

Stream of consciousness out of the way, I want to discuss another flood: a veritable deluge of Lodi Zinfandel, single-vineyard Pinot Noir, and incredible edibles at a recent get-together. Ed Thralls, Atlanta resident and writer of a tidy little wine blog (winetonite.com) recently had some folks over to dunk our whiskers into a case of various Lodi (an American Viticultural Area east of the San Francisco Bay) Zinfandels. As an added bonus, Ross Halleck of halleckvineyard.com joined us to cap a whirlwind, week-long trip to Atlanta, bringing along some of his incredible Sonoma Pinot Noirs. Luckily, Ross got out of town before the relentless wash.

Oh, added bonus #2: gourmand-extraordinaire Jimmy (of eatitatlanta.com) brought some crazy-good grilled meats (including skirt steak with chimichurri and ground lamb kebabs with a spicy, curry, yogurty-goodness sauce...I think that was its official name), and photo-whiz Broderick (of savoryexposure.com) snapped shots that will certainly make mine look terrible.

While all the Lodi zins were certainly delicious, I noticed that most all had a very herbal, peppery nose that was not quite as fruit-forward as many others from places like Dry Creek Valley or elsewhere in Sonoma (the source of many of the best). Not that this was bad; I found the smells very intriguing, and almost more appealing for food pairings. In the mouth, I got the usual berries and spice, but they all kind of fell flat in a hurry...not a lot of structure and tannin, that I tend to like. They all were, however, complete bruisers in the alcohol department, one sporting 16.5% on the bottle. If you ever get your hands on a bottle of "Gluttony", do NOT do so while operating heavy machinery!

Two did stick out in my mind as having great depth of flavor and structure: one was the OZV from Oak Ridge Winery and the other (oddly enough) from Eola Hills, and Oregon winery (who sourced the grapes from Lodi). The OZV demonstrated a great deal of rich blackberry, strawberry and cherry, interlaced with a nice structure that incorporated the likely-high-alcohol well (I didn't catch the number off the bottle). Similarly, the Eola Hills demonstrated more fruit than the others, but what really drew me to this one was the incredible spice and structure on the finish. It didn't fall flat at all, and it could definitely stand up to the grilled lamb and steak.

They were all nice; these two just jumped out at me. Regardless, if you like Zinfandel, Lodi is not a bad place to look. Not having the pedigree of a Sonoma County, this region can offer really good wines on the cheap, usually between $12-15 buckaroonies.

Yeah, I just said "buckaroonies". It cheers me up.

Anyway, check out some of these wines. I think you will be very happy with them. And happiness is something we all need, because you never know when everything else will wash away.

To the things that can't be taken away: Cheers, Sláinte, L'Chaim, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Taking Flight at Montaluce (at last, Georgia Wines part 4 of 4)

Dedication can be a tricky thing. Last thing I've wanted to do today is sit down and write a post. Football season can really wear one out, but a fan feels compelled to watch every minute of his favorite teams, even if the games run late into the night, sap all his emotional energy, and occupy his every waking minute from Saturday morning to Sunday evening. Call it, uh...dedication to the team. Unfortunately, the blog needs it's attention too, so dedication need be mustered again (somewhere, an English teacher is cursing me for using the same word three times in a paragraph).

Furthermore, I feel compelled to write about the wines being produced on the Dahlonega Plateau. These guys put in a lot of hard work and- do I even need to say it?- into what they're doing, especially at Montaluce. The folks there dropped everything to speak to some inquisitive boob from Woodstock, GA, so the least I can do is write about it. If you want to read my article about Montaluce, click here. For the purposes of this post, I'm sticking strictly to the wine:

2008 Risata: Three cheers for good winemaking. This Sangiovese-based effort was originally intended to be a red wine. When the grapes didn't come in the way the winemaker wanted, he turned it into an intriguing Rosé. Nice move. I was met with a very pleasant nose of roses, orange peel, herbs, that Georgia "grassiness", and rainbow sherbet. Yeah, the red, green, and orange stuff. It was dry and crisp in the mouth, with good acidity. A really nice wine.

2008 Chardonnay: A nice, buttery, earthy nose (maybe "grassy" again?) with some telltale Chardonnay aromas of green apple and citrus. In the mouth, there was once again good acidity (which you'd expect in a cool-climate, but not in the Deep South...nice). This wine also had a nice, long finish. It was not my favorite of the bunch, but that could be a personal problem. Why am I saddling you with my problems? You've got enough on your plate, and I respect that, valued reader.

2008 Viognier: A variety of grape that I'm seeing a ton of in Georgia, for which I am very happy (Viognier is SOOO good when done well). Montaluce's- yet again- had a very interesting nose...extra virgin olive oil (or "EVOO" if you're into terrible Rachael Ray references) was the first thing that jumped out at me. I also got apricots, peaches, and honey in my snout. Nice tangerine and spice in the mouth. Bought a bottle; what else can I say?

2008 Merlot: Another good nose. Herbs, green pepper, and berries dancing around in the glass. As I swished it around in my cheeks, this light-to-medium bodied red had a huge kick of strawberries, which never sucks. Really, what's impressive about the Montaluce wines is the depth of flavor that I haven't really seen in the other Georgia wines I've had. They're more complex, and this Merlot is no exception.

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon: I think by this point, I was jaw-jacking with Rob Beecham, and I didn't write down any notes. Nice one, Joe. Anyway, what I do remember is that it was pretty good: medium-bodied, good fruit, that signature Georgia "grassiness" (which may sound bad, but it's not. It's the "Georgia" in the wine). Sorry, Cab. I meant well, but failed to give you the respect you deserve.

So, there it is. This edition of my Georgia wine oddyssey is closed- for now. There's a lot more going on up in the hills, so I'm sure I'll be back...

...just like I'm sure I'll be sitting on the couch again on a Sunday night, trying to avoid writing a post. But if they keep busting their butts to make the best wine possible, I'll get off mine and write about it.

To dedication, even when it's not the easy thing to do: Cheers, Sláinte, L'Chaim, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!

Friday, September 18, 2009

"...but sorry about your pet, Mary. That sucks."

Huge thanks to good neighbor Chris and chef Bart for the incredible vittles the other day...between the Greek roasted lamb, the dragonfruit sangria, the stuffed, fried zucchini blossoms, and the heirloom tomatoes (oh, and the tasty wine), I'd say the party was a resounding success. This is truly what good livin' in the 'burbs is all about:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

At The Source: Wine Blogging Wednesday #61 (aka "Georgia Wines, part 3 of 3, but now with a part 4 because I suck at brevity")

Been building up to this for a while; a little too difficult to condense my experiences of Georgia wine into one post (another big thanks to Lenn Thompson at Lenn Devours for putting together Wine Blogging Wednesdays and hosting #61!). And I know, I've come off as pandering. I get it. Talking about "beautiful grounds" and "great people" and "unforgettable experiences" in two previous posts: first about Montaluce Winery, then another about Wolf Mountain Vineyards, both on the Dahlonega Plateau in North Georgia. I've probably come off a sell-out advertiser for their businesses.

Well, lay off. I was born in Atlanta. I grew up in the 'burbs. I attended the University of Georgia. Then I moved back to Atlanta. Now I live in the 'burbs...

...crap. I forgot to attend the University of Georgia again somewhere in-between. Why does my life feel like a scene in Groundhog Day? Anyway, I guess my point is that I can't help but have an affinity for the natural beauty that does exist in my home state, especially up north. I won't be faulted because people in the hospitality industry are generally quite nice (especially folks I've met in the wine industry, and especially in the South). And I won't apologize for (even shamelessly) backing a wine industry if it helps Georgia's economy. We DID genuinely enjoy the grounds and the views. The folks HONESTLY came off as genuine and welcoming to my wife and I. Was it because they knew they'd get free publicity? Sure, that's possible, but I don't believe it's the case. For these reasons alone, visiting Georgia wine country is a good idea, even if you don't drink wine at all. But, despite my abhorrence of critiquing anything (I was once told- quite correctly, I think- that a critic is no more than bitter fool slamming something he's not good enough to do himself), I at least owe the wineries and the readers an honest opinion of what I drank. I'm not good enough to do what they do. I also suck at being critical. If anything, I offer fodder for you to provide an entertaining dissent.

We tried a LOT of wine...I think 15 total, including ones made from Chardonnay, Viognier, Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre, Touriga Nacional, and Syrah. Georgia's really still trying to figure out what works best with the climate. I also know of Riesling, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Grigio, Petit Verdot, and Malbec creeping up the trellises in the Peach State, so there's a lot going on.

Okay, okay, I know I'm filibustering. On to the wines, and I'll try to keep it as brief as possible:

2008 Blanc de Blancs Brut: French for "white from whites", this is a sparkling wine made from 100% Chardonnay. Wolf Mountain employs the "Méthode Champenoise", or tradional method of secondary fermentation in the bottle. This creates a yeasty, biscuity bubbly with smaller, longer lasting bubbles. This one was very lightly yeasty, with a nice herbal, melon, and citrus nose. Clean and herbal in the mouth. Frankly, one of my favorites...paid full price and took a bottle home with me.

2008 Plenitude: An unoaked, 75% Chardonnay, 25% Viognier blend (blending being a common theme in Wolf Mountain wines). Peachy, herbal nose, kiwi, cantaloupe. Nice acidity in the mouth, very clean, but a little hollow, like the flavors dropped off. Nothing complicated, but a fine easy-drinker.

2008 Chanteloup: Same blend as the Plenitude, but it spent 6 months in French Oak (I couldn't find out whether the oak was new, neutral, or in-between). I think the oak aging helped in this case. Where the Plenitude fell short, the structure and tannin of the oak kind of "filled in the gaps". It reminded me a lot of an Alsatian white: nice floral nose, really dry in the mouth, with a fuller mouthfeel. I really preferred this to the Plenitude

2008 Sunset Rosé: a Rhône-style blush wine of Mourvèdre and Syrah. It was really earthy and clean, once again subtle and simple. I noted that I wasn't sure if these wines were just VERY subtle, or if they were just lacking complexity. Regardless, I'd knock this back with some pulled pork any day. I just wouldn't pontificate about it. I guess, often, that's what rosé is about anyway: uncomplicated summer quaffing.

2006 Coupage: A right bank Bordeaux-style blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. 40% of the grapes underwent a whole-berry fermentation, or "carbonic maceration", which you see a lot in Beaujolais. My wife really liked this one, so I'm sure it had its merit. To me, this was my least favorite. The nose was just kind of sickly, and I couldn't get past it. I'd like to give it another try, but it really wasn't doin' it for me on this day. That being said, I really respect the creative techniques in effort to make better wine.

Howling Wolf Red: A non-vintage blend of leftover 51% Syrah and 49% Cabernet (winemaker Karl Boegner referred to it as a "byproduct" wine). Well, it was a damn good byproduct, and probably my favorite of the day. A very earthy, minty, chocolate & berry nose led into a silky, smooth mouth of dark fruit. Nice, smooth and ripe tannins. However, the incredible earthiness in it (like many of the wines) really screamed "Georgia terroir" to me, in the best way possible. I drank this with my wife and a professional chef on Sunday. The chef, although half-in-the-bag, declared it to be "pretty damn good wine". That's a ringing endorsement. Nice effort.

2006 Claret: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Mourvèdre. Nice berry, tobacco, and pepper nose. Once again, I wrote down "clean" in the mouth, suggesting it was a little hollow and lacking in complexity to me. Despite the grapes, the tannins were pretty smooth, so it was ready to drink.

2008 WMV Demi-Sec: an off-dry 75% Chardonnay/ 25% Viognier blend with 3% residual sugar. Nose of pineapple, melon...almost "Riesling-y" (can you just add a "y" to the end of anything and make up a stupid new word?) in the sense that there was a fuel-ish smell (okay, you can frivilously add "ish" as well). Banana-y (crap!) as well. The mouth had tropical fruit flavors: papaya and mango, but I think it lacked acidity. Not bad.

Okay, originally, I planned on talking about the Montaluce wines as well, but the length of this thing is getting ridiculous. I'll do that in a separate post. Until then, I've seen Wolf Mountain wines at Harry's/ Whole Foods, and Total Wine (check your local bottle shop too). Give them a try and compare notes. I welcome you to disagree with me, because that just proves how trivial wine reviews really are. It's all about personal taste, and mine is very likely different from yours. I'd like to think I've just given you some cliff notes. At the very least, I hope- once again- that you support the local growers and vintners.

And now, I will shut up. Okay, not yet: Cheers, Sláinte, L'Chaim, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Wine in Wolf's Clothing (Georgia Wine, part 2 of 3)

How many of your most enjoyable wine experiences start this way?

Wake up in strange bed in strange house (fortunately, not with strange woman), hazy-headed, blurred-vision. Dry mouth, pounding headache, regret. Oh, the regret. And yet, it's unclear what I'm regretting.

Oh yeah. Beloved alma mater lost football game. Stupid other games didn't cover. Drowned sorrow in what may-have-been root beer-flavored vodka.

Wake wife. Get dressed. Stop by Wendy's, hoping that they're serving a chicken sandwich at 10 AM. Chicken sandwich and large Sprite perhaps saves life. "Why did I set up a meeting with a winery today," I continually question myself. "The last thing I want to see is anything remotely alcoholic, let alone an entire operation dedicated to it."

Not familiar? Perhaps you're not an Irish-blooded, football-crazy wine lover. It happens.

But upon reaching the beautiful grounds of Wolf Mountain Vineyards in nearby Dahlonega, GA (about an hour north of Atlanta), things start to turn around. Up a very steep driveway off a non-descript backroad in an unknown (to most) part of the world, one is greeted by Cabernet Sauvignon vines, picturesque grounds, and- on this day- a packed parking lot. Apparently, the secret's out. My wife and I amble into the inviting tasting room and we're quickly greeted by winemaker and owner, Karl Boegner. The friendly, Hawaiian-shirt clad Boegner, looking about in his mid-fifties, is the patriarch of the family-run operation, and has spent most of his life in the wine industry, including tours in Epernay and Reims, two strongholds of Champagne, France.

As we walk through the rows of ripe Cabernet vines- only a couple weeks away from harvest- Boegner regales me of the great challenges and opportunities of growing vitis vinifera in North Georgia. He tells me that the 1800' above-sea-level elevation of the Dahlonega Plateau is the critical factor allowing traditional wine grapes to grow in such an unforgiving climate (in fact, Boegner has been a relentless voice in pushing to make this region Georgia's first AVA, or American Viticultural Area, giving real creedence to the local terroir). We discuss the experimental nature of the industry. Besides Cabernet, Wolf Mountain is also growing Syrah, Malbec, Mourvèdre, Tannat (a brutally-tannic variety indiginous to Southwest France), and Touriga Nacional (one of Portugal's signature red grapes) on its southwest-facing slopes. We move on to viticulture, the advantages of rain-repellant clay soils in a rainy climate, and how vine fungal diseases are a constant threat where notorious high-humidity is the norm, rather than the exception. When not fighting downy and powdery mildew- spraying every 7 days until June- Pierce's disease is a constant threat to the vines. Trust me: when you talk to a Georgia winemaker, you gain a great deal of respect for amount of, well, crap, that he endures in pursuit of a passion.

One thing is for certain: if the wines are half as lovely as the surroundings in where they're poured, then Wolf Mountain has a very good chance of putting local wine on the national map. What comes next is state support, and both Karl Boegner and his son Brannon seem hopeful that future administrations will loosen their historically-strict regulations on the industry. Distribution laws have recently opened up a bit, but there's more work to do. Indeed, the positive economic impact of a burgeoning wine region- both for product sales and tourism- cannot be ignored. What will come out of full support can only be a good thing.

The final piece of the puzzle is local backing. Visit Wolf Mountain, as well as its neighbors. No, I'm not being compensated to say this, and I was not asked to do so. But I have a great deal of pride in where I'm from, and every place in the world has something unique about it. One of the greatest things about wine is that it can express that uniqueness unlike anything else.

On Wednesday, I'll focus on the wine, touching on the highlights of Wolf Mountain's many offerings. I hope to find something in the glass that cannot be found anywhere else, much like what I've found in the foothills just north of my beloved city.

Oh, I'll also be staying away from root beer vodka, as I raise my glass of Pepto Bismol: Cheers, Sláinte, L'Chaim, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!

Friday, September 11, 2009

God Bless America

No words today; I wouldn't dare try to be that profound.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Don't Hassle Me, I'm Local (Georgia Wine, part 1 of 3)

"We're not trying to make California wine. If you want California wine, go to California. What we are doing is making Georgia wine...and Georgia wine is good wine."

-Rob Beecham, Montaluce Vineyards

An obvious statement on the surface, but one profoundly rooted in the European concept of terroir- the concept that a wine is so much more than the fruit itself. The soil, the climate, the orientation of the slopes, the training of the vine, the care of the grower and the mastery of the winemaker; all culminating in the glass as so much more: a truly unique expression that can only be found in certain parts of the world.

I'd expect this talk from a Frenchman or Italian vintner. Yet Beecham is certainly neither. The hip, forty-something, boundless ball of energy and enthusiasm, builder, developer, family man, and obvious wine-fanatic hails from Decatur, GA - just east of downtown Atlanta, attended Roswell High School in the suburbs, and now resides in the hills an hour north of the city.

Yep, I found my kindred spirit: the other Atlanta native. Seriously, it seems NO ONE living here is from here originally.

But what's happening in those hills- namely, Dahlonega, GA- is incredibly exciting. When faced with a burning desire to move west and settle down in wine country, grow old with his friends and family with a cigar in one hand and a glass of wine in another, Beecham, along with brother Brent, decided to build something close to home. The result: Montaluce, a community of homes, vineyards, a beautiful winery, restaurant, and event facilities. And it's all a stone's throw from the 8th largest metropolitan area in the States. And, as their vines hit the magic 3-4 year birthday, they're making wine with their own grapes. "Why can't we have wine country in our home state?" questions Rob. "Georgia used to be the sixth largest producer of wine in the union, but we're having to learn the process again."

Another dubious feather-in-the-cap of Prohibition. But the notorious 18th amendment is only part of the story. A growing temperance movement (that just sounds lame) that manifested in the early 1800's reached a head in 1908, and the Georgia legislature ratified a statewide ban on alcohol that even outlasted the national Prohibition that ended in 1933. Georgia wised up in 1935, but the damage had been done...most vineyards were abandoned and neglected.

But enough with the history lesson. More on that can be found at http://www.georgiawinecountry.com/

And now, where America's first gold rush began, another treasure trove- first reemerging in the 70's- is firmly establishing itself: quality wine produced from vitis vinifera (traditional European wine grapes), all in an area naysayers would criticize as too humid and rainy to produce great vino. Are there challenges? Huge ones. Peronospera and oidium, among other fungal diseases to the vine, are combatted weekly. Pierce's disease runs rampant. Furthermore, economies of scale, global reputation, and awareness are a constant threat: how will a consumer choose a $20+ wine from a fledgling growing region over internationally-renowned regions' products at half the price?

I think the "locavore" movement will play a critical part. As forward-thinking restauranteurs and consumers look to support local farmers, ranches, and fisheries, providing local wineries seems the next logical step to me. And if there's not a golden goose sitting on the locavore nest (what does that even mean?), then tourism can play its role. Anyone as wine -nerdy as me daydreams about trips to the west coast, France, Italy. What we all need to understand is that there's a pretty damn good time only an hour away.

But even more promising to the success of Montaluce and wineries like it is the incredible passion of the folks backing it. Rarely have I known tireless visionaries to fail in their endeavors, and if I can say one thing about Rob Beecham in the short time I spoke with him, it's crystal-clear that he's putting everything he's got into his dream, and it resonates in the product; whether that be the homes, the tasting room decor, or the surprising wine.

I'll be talking about some of the wines in greater detail next Wednesday for "Wine Blogging Wednesday #61" (a brainchild of Lenn Thompson, head honcho at lenndevours.com, a read definitely worth your glance). In the meantime, take a look at montalucewinery.com, or even better, hop in your car, leave your preconceptions cellared with your Mondavi and Opus One, and prepare yourself for a great time. You'll not just be helping the local economy, you be participating in a wine culture that can literally be called home-grown.

As I proudly raise a glass of unique, Georgia wine, I say to you Cheers, Sláinte, L'Chaim, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Welcome Back, Fall!

For the winemakers and wine lovers out there, fall means harvest, bottling, culmination of a arduous growing season.

However, in the south- and particularly at the households of suburban winos everywhere, fall is a new beginning, perhaps best illustrated in pictures and copious thumbs-up:




After Saturday's debacle, who knows if it might be a long season for the team? While I don't know the answer to that, I can say for certain that there's no better time of the year, whether you're making wine or whining about your team.

Ah, to crisp Saturday afternoons: Cheers, Sláinte, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009