hello goodbye

Monday, November 26, 2012

In some form or other, this blog has been chugging – occasionally sputtering – along for the past six years or so. It’s been through four major redesigns, and several not so major. It’s been nominated for a couple of Poodle awards, and recognized frequently by the major blog accumulators (is that the term?) as having an interesting post to link to.

All good.

But as you may already have noticed, it’s time for me to de-couple from blogging, at least till further notice. It’s clear I don’t have Fermentation’s Wark ethic. Unlike Heimoff, I desperately need time-off. A Prosemaster I may be, but I’ll never ascend to Hosemaster heights. Being 2WineDude (or 92WineDude) isn’t gonna cut it. Wild Walla Walla Wine Man? Not so much.

Speaking for myself, this is a welcome change. The blog has been challenging, inspiring, occasionally frustrating, but always compelling, in the sense that I wanted to show off my chops, express an opinion or two, engage in the lively discourse that social media inspires, and simply keep on top of events in the world of wine. Mission accomplished.

My writing about wine isn’t going to change, but my day-to-day projects and priorities are transitioning in significant ways. I am moving further into a consulting mode, backing away from the relentless writing deadlines that have prevented me taking on other, more long term projects. I am making time for more speaking, consulting, and actual wine making projects. More on that shortly.

My work for Wine Enthusiast and the Seattle Times will continue as before. These new projects will be in the mix, while the blogging and other freelance work will go away. I will continue to leave the blog up so that the hundreds of archived posts are still accessible. And I will continue to post updates, rants and (hopefully) entertaining muses on my Facebook page.

In all honesty, having a totally free day once in awhile is a luxury that I have rarely known for many years. It’s time to do a bit more of nothing. More guitar. More reading. More time with my dog! Thank you all for your interest in this blog over the years. It’s been great. Happy holidays, drink well, and I’ll see ya later.

Peace out...


here we go again – what to drink at thanksgiving

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Certain wine column topics are de rigueur, at least among those of us who have been scribbling about our favorite beverage for a number of years. None is more inevitable than the Thanksgiving wine column, adumbrating the joys of gewürztraminer.

You know a line has been crossed when PR emails arrive with headlines such as “Spice It Up With Gewürztraminer...” and tout the perfect match of gewürz and pumpkin. OK, not a bad thought, really, but in all honesty, this is not a wine that is likely to grace too many tables after November 22nd.

And that’s too bad. And I’m as guilty as anyone. I wondered how many NW gespurtstraminers I’d reviewed this past year, and checked the Wine Enthusiast database. A grand total of nine! Which, I am embarrassed to say, is about 8.5 bottles more than I opened and drank with meals during the same time frame.

It’s not that I carry a grudge against geslurptraminers. Au contraire, the nine reviews included three scores of 91, a 90, two 88s and three 87s. There were four Best Buys, an Editors’ Choice and a Cellar Selection. I would guess that, despite the very limited sample, no other category of varietal wine could compete with that sort of success.

So what is it about these besmirched-traminers that bugs me?

Paul Gregutt/Seattle Times Top 100 NW Wines for 2012

Monday, November 05, 2012

This weekend the Seattle Times published the seventh annual Wine Adviser Top 100 list. Once again it was focused exclusively on wines from Oregon and Washington, and based upon a year’s worth of my tasting notes. Over the years I have developed and fine-tuned a specific methodology for this particular list. Not necessarily better or more valuable than the three lists to which I contribute as NW Editor for Wine Enthusiast. In fact, without the constant tasting and reviewing that I do for that magazine, I couldn’t tackle a NW-only list of this magnitude.

In order to spread the wealth, I select just one wine each – the highest scoring wine of the past year – from 100 different wineries. It is my goal to be inclusive, which is why every winery gets just a single spot on the list. I trust that this will give readers a better sense of the scope and depth of the industry’s offerings.

The wines listed here were reviewed between November of 2011 and September of 2012. All told, about 2000 Washington and Oregon wines were tasted and scored in that time. I recognize that a simple listing is just that. The full reviews are available, for free, online at www.winemag.com. In doing the ranking, I take into consideration both score and price. So within each numerical rank, the least expensive wines (based on the original suggested retail) are ranked higher, because they offer better value.

It goes without saying that there will be gaps, missing wines, and most of the follow-up comments that I get reflect someone’s annoyance that their favorite wine or winery was left off the list. Apart from the fact that there are 1200 wineries and only 100 spaces, I do not taste every wine from every winery every year. Quite a few wineries choose not to submit wines for review. That being the case, they are self-excluded from consideration for any Top 100 list, not just this one. Sometimes release dates fall in such a way that I miss an important winery in a given year (in this case it was actually an 11-month tasting window).

This is not a “go out and look for these wines” type of list! Many of these wines have already sold through. Others are on mailing lists that are closed. The purpose here is to provide a broad overview of the top five percent of the year’s wines. Nonetheless, there are two unavoidable biases built into the list. First is a bias toward red wines over white. I have nothing against white wines, but for whatever reason, as a group they score lower on average than red wines, and not just from me. The same is true for virtually every major reviewer in the country.

A second bias: the list favors more expensive wines. Almost always, wines cost more when they cost more to produce. Better grapes, better barrels, better corks and bottles, more bottle age, all add to the expense of production. So there is a definite correlation between cost and quality as far as this list is concerned. For those who wonder why their favorite $8 bottle of Columbia Crest didn’t show up; that’s why. This is not a Best Buy list, although Wine Enthusiast has already published one that includes quite a few NW offerings.

You will find vintages 2007 – 2011 represented here. Wineries release vintages according to their own schedule, but each is the most recent vintage for the listed wine that I have tasted. Where two or more wines share the same score and price, a tie is indicated. I have included the scores here also. Have at it!