Archive for February, 2009

WBW #54: ‘na passione per Piemonte

threepiemontesi(yes, yes, this is a couple of days late, mea culpa… more like a “Venerdì del Vino” as I write this, or a “Sauce-Blogging Saturday” as I finally post it…)

The idea of a Wine Blogging Wednesday on Piemontese wines (see original theme posting) was at once compelling and daunting: compelling, because I dearly love Piemonte; daunting, because there are so many wonderful Piemontese producers, varieties, and regions, choosing just one, or even a handful of wines to even vaguely represent the region’s diversity is a great challenge. In the end, I settled on three off-the-beaten-path wines from small producers in three different areas.

Continue reading ‘WBW #54: ‘na passione per Piemonte’

1997 Cantina Terlano Pinot Bianco ‘Vorberg’

vorbergSometimes one tastes wines that seem to redefine what a particular grape from a particular place can do. Such was the wine I tasted tonight, the 1997 Pinot Bianco ‘Vorberg’ from Cantina Terlano. I bought a few bottles of this a number of years ago, and I’ve tried a bottle every year or two. Each time I opened a bottle, the wine was closed, but I could tell there was something special there; it was like having someone almost smack me in the face with a gold brick, but stop short. I could feel the rush of air that somehow implied the weight of the brick, but I knew I had to wait.

Tonight that waiting paid off. I grilled a beautiful piece of swordfish, put it on a bed of rapini with garlic and chile, and pulled out one of the last bottles of the Vorberg. When I opened it and decanted it, the first whiff told me its time had come: pronounced, mature, yet still vibrant aromas of wet wool, lime, grapefruit, pear, honey, and a hint of diesel. On the palate, the wine was dry, minerally, full-bodied, almost unctuous, with a creaminess that bespoke malolactic fermentation, yet still with fairly high acidity and excellent focus. The wine has a long, wonderfully complex finish, and keeps evolving in the glass — so much so that I’m sitting here two hours later not wanting to finish the bottle so I can keep enjoying it.

The producer, one of Italy’s top cantine sociali (or see cooperatives), obtains the fruit from member vineyards at 500-900 meters above sea level, with sandy, porphyrous soil. After temperature-controlled fermentation in large oak vats, the wine stays on its lees for one year, which explains the wine’s evident honeyed note. The winery itself suggests the Vorberg will last 8-10 years; usually I take these things with a grain of salt, but in this case they’re spot on.

The moral of the story? Some wines are worth the wait, and they’re not always the one’s you’d think. This not particularly expensive white has stood the test of more than a decade in bottle, and it just keeps getting better. Signing off now to go enjoy the last glass.

More references:

Calling all of you in the wine trade!

postcardv1I’d like to help you, your colleagues and your customers find more trustworthy, in-depth wine information on the Internet. And I could use your help getting the word out about Able Grape:

•  If you’d like a stack of Able Grape postcards (see image at left) for display in your store or restaurant, or to give to your trade clientele, please drop me an email with your address, and I’ll gladly send some to you.

•  If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, get in touch and I’d be happy to come out and demo Able Grape for you and your colleagues, and show you some tips and tricks for finding great, in-depth wine information (some of which is very difficult or impossible to find via Google!). I’d also appreciate the chance to talk with you and learn how I can make Able Grape an even better tool for our community. Have thoughts or suggestions about what you need when looking for wine information? Get in touch, I’d love to come out and meet you. (If you’re not in the Bay Area, get in touch anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts, and who knows when I may be in your neighborhood…)

Able Grape Turns One!

birthdaycakeThis is a short post for a momentous occasion, but I’ve been so busy working on the new version of Able Grape that I almost forgot: on January 28th, Able Grape turned one year old! (That’s not counting the three year gestation period prior to launch, of course…) I wanted to thank all of you for your incredible support during the past year. It’s been quite an adventure.

On a separate note, some of you may have noticed that I’ve been quiet for the last few weeks, and database refreshes have been delayed a bit. This is because I’m hard at work on new infrastructure to handle the incredible growth Able Grape has been seeing. Early tests have been going well, and I hope to crank up the new system to full scale as soon as I finish testing. The new database should come in at about 17 million documents, with 40,000 sites worth of trustworthy wine information. Thanks for your patience, the new database is going to rock! And when it’s up and running, it’ll be time for a proper birthday party. Looking forward to bringing lots of great things your way in this, Able Grape’s second year!

(P.S. that photo isn’t just a stock image, it’s a mille crêpe cake a friend and i baked recently for another friend’s birthday; 20 layers of crêpes (well, almost; we ran out of batter) with pastry cream in between, and a brûlée top. A “mattone,” as the Italians would say, but oh, so good. And so much fun with a kitchen flamethrower making it)

Able Grape, a wine information search engine