Wine Talk

Snooth User: spikedc

A little Thank You

Posted by spikedc, May 14, 2012.

How things have changed. When I first joined Snooth which has been quite a while now I was drinking mainly reds, usually Shiraz and Rioja and not much else.

Now I find myself drinking a wide variety and really enjoying every minute. I think i have now become a real 'wine lover', I can't get enough, not only drinking but talking and reading about it (have to get my daily fix here on Snooth). I go to as many tastings as I can and my wine rack is getting bigger and bigger

Being going through a Champagne, Prosseco and Riesling stage and more recently I've discovered  Manzanilla Sherry which I now love and get especially with my beloved Tapas. ( Big thanks to dmcker for introduction to Sherry)

I now try anything and everything while not forgetting my real passion which is still Rioja and anything Spanish.

Thanks Guys, I'ts true to say I think i'm hooked and long may it continue

Now where's that corkscrew !



Reply by EMark, May 14, 2012.

 A thank you, back, Spike.  I have enjoyed learning from your adventures.  I have very much appreciated your sharing of your experiences and your questions. 

Reply by GregT, May 14, 2012.


And don't forget your roots. Many years ago I drank Riesling and Spanish wine, then detoured through a lot of other regions and still find that I love those first ones.  Many wine drinkers feel that there must be some sort of evolution and you "progress" from this to that, but I think that's MAJOR BS.  You don't, unless it's very important to you to impress your friends and drink what they'll find impressive. But if you're a wine lover, you can find many things to love.

And it's OK if you don't love things too. Many people aren't fond of sherry in any form.  That's OK. Many people don't like whites in general, or sweets, or reds.  That's all OK. Just enjoy the journey.


Reply by Craig Bilodeau, May 14, 2012.

GregT - I'll second that.  the other day, I tasted a well rated Rose that was supposed to be "bone dry".  I thought that the thing was INCREDIBLY sweet and not enjoyable at all.  I guess that you can tell that desert wines are COMPLETELY out of the question for me.  So I agree, drink what you enjoy, keep experimenting, and don't worry that you don't enjoy all that the experts say is good.

Reply by dmcker, May 14, 2012.

Great of you to shout out like this, Spike, and to share how your wine experiences and joys are evolving.

Don't know if Greg and I are saying different things, but I do feel there is an evolution (usually growth in range and understanding, and perhaps some refinement over time, too) in a winedrinker's life in terms of what they drink and what they like. But often it boils down to recognizing better-made and lesser-made wines.

I started drinking a few varietals when I first began drinking in the '70s. California cabs and merlots and zins and pinot noir and chards and chenin blanc and riesling and sparklings. German and Alsatian rieslings. French Bordeaux (red and white) and Burgundy (red and white) and Beaujolais and Muscadet and a slow but steady creep to others further up the Loire, as well as Champagne. Italian Chianti and Barolo, later Brunello. Also a little Prosecco/Spumante but back then QC was rubbish and I quickly stopped in favor of champers and CA sparkliing. Somewhere along the line I picked up a love for the fortified and other dessert options, while I also quickly stopped drinking those California chenin blanc and rieslings and pinot noir (other than Chalone back in those days) after having more of the European versions. Now I'm circling back again wondering if there aren't some good chenins and riesling to drink because I recognized at some point that those which made me stop drinking were just poorly made, and sensibilities on the producer side have evolved a longways since. Have been drinking CA and OR pinots again for quite awhile now. I stopped drinking Chianti pretty quickly but then I realized I was just drinking the wrong producers after I recognized what sangiovese could do with the Brunello (and soon after Chianti Classico Riservas, etc.). Within a couple of years I was ensconsed in the Rhone and started then stopped drinking a lot of C9dP and Gigondas, though I never faltered in the love affair that bloomed with the northern Rhone and syrah. The problems with the southern wines were producer technique including quality control, and shipping/storage issues. Later I went back to grenache with a vengeance then spread my drinking to the SW of France, too.

All sorts of other wines came pretty quickly with travel to Italy and Spain/Portugal and Greece and Australia and Oregon/Washington, but those above are where I started. They still probably represent the larger portion of what I drink to this day, with the rest filled in from those travels and a few newbies I now learn of then try without the travel (like Chono from Maipo in Chile or Pyramid Valley from the South Island of NZ, as simple examples).

One key issue to mention is that information was a lot harder to get ahold of then. You'd find good merchants and occasional drinking groups, read what you could find in print that was good, occasionally even correspond with merchants and known experts by snailmail and later fax. Nowhere near the instant feedback and learning that can come from a forum like this, as well as other digital fora, blogs and merchants spread across the winemaking world. With the costs of buying all sorts of books, and traveling to distant merchants, and buying up all sorts of wine that you knew little or nothing about--aside from the extra time it took, it also wasn't always efficient in economic terms.

Keep letting us now what you find and like, Spike. Would be curious to hear at some point how your appreciation of shiraz might have evolved....

Reply by JonDerry, May 14, 2012.

To me, exploring different regions is one of the best parts of wine. However, you can also explore quite a bit within a single major region as well. Had a 2008 Louis Latour Marsannay Rouge yesterday that was so hard and acidic, but was still good and interesting at the same time. A much better experience than drinking another also-ran Napa cab.

Reply by dmcker, May 14, 2012.

BTW, I just ran across something that illustrates what we (consumers as well as anyone in the business) were having to deal with back in those days, in this case regarding Italian wines in the US. Here are a couple of snapshots from an excellent blogpost by Alfonso Cevola on a history of Italian wine in America over the past 50 years.  Things were, of course, far worse in Asia at that time, though Japan was a slightly bright spot--forget about anywhere else, including Hong Kong and Singapore.

Don't think this tangent is taking things too far in the wrong direction (but when I have I ever been afraid of tangents?). Greg, wanna talk about the history of Spanish wine in the US (or Hungarian or Argentine for that matter)?



1977 – I am living in Southern California, near Pasadena, and working in Hollywood at a restaurant on Melrose Avenue. Ours is more of a continental restaurant, but I get around to other places nearby on Melrose, Chianti and Emilio’s. In those days, there was Ruffino and Brolio for Chianti, Fazi Battaglia for Verdicchio, Fontana Candida for Frascati, and a few other wines. An Orvieto . Lambrusco, which was just not cool in those days.  Soave, Bardolino and Valpolicella from Bolla. Oh, and the Amarone from Bolla as well. An occasional Barolo from Bersano, maybe a Barbaresco from Calissano and of course Asti Spumante. That was about it, 35 years ago. Seriously.
1980 – I am living in Dallas and working at the Mother of all Italian restaurants in Dallas, Il Sorrento. All of the above wines were available and thanks to the insight of a local trailblazer, Tony La Barba, there was also available Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, which was kind of a stretch for most folks in those days. And the list branched into Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Barolo and Barbaresco vintages going back a few years. Bardolino in a 1.5 wicker basket was a big hit, as was Ruffino’s Rosatello, which was a light, fruity rose, the precursor of White Zinfandel. Also a big seller was Ruffino’s Del Magnifico, which was simply a vino da tavola, also a precursor, this time to the Toscana IGT, or in a smaller vein, a Super Tuscan. Biondi-Santi and Poggio alle Mura Brunello were available. Poggio alle Mura was eventually folded into the Castello Banfi Empire as the crown jewel of their Tuscan holdings.
1982 - Things started changing. I started seeing (and selling) Gaja, Giacomo Conterno, Vietti, Selvapiana, Illuminati, Barbi, Cavallotto, Girolamo Dorigo, Scavino, and Lisini. It was a great birthing, and as I was being born into the wine business, so was all of this wonderful Italian wine coming into America. And imagine, I was in Texas. New York was exploding. But Texas was holding its own.  I was selling stupid amounts of 1968 Sassicaia for $28 a bottle.
2011- Saw a year of double digit growth. Italy is the largest importer of wines into America. And while America is not the main market of Italian wine, it is a very large and growing one. But my Italian winemaking friends know Brasilia, Phonm Penh, Hong Kong, Berlin, Vancouver. Theirs is a world market, and they live in a global village. People like Roberto Bava, who travels the globe once or twice a year. It isn’t just America, but America is still very much on their minds in Italy.
Which brings us to the present day. Anyone who complains about not being able to get an Italian (or any other) wine of their choice is either lazy, unimaginative or just plain silly. Go down the aisles of a local liquor store, and see the immense selection we have now that we didn’t have in 1977. I hear the complaints, and I have to take a deep breath. There are so many of us who have labored our whole career to get it to this point. And when we hear someone complain because they cannot get the Etna Rosso they want, I want to ask them, “Where were you in 1982 when we brought the stuff in and no one wanted it?” I have a million wine stories like that. And so these feeble complaints about the 3-tier system or the choke-hold the large distributors have on the process, or that free enterprise needs to be free and unfettered, they all sound like the collective tantrum that many Americans have gotten themselves into when it comes to choice.


Reply by GregT, May 14, 2012.

Good blog link D. Fun read.

Today I talked to someone who turns out to be from the same region I'm from and we got to talking exactly about Italian wine in the 1970s and Robt Parker and I mentioned that he'd reportedly purchased a lot of wine from a retailer she knew well.  She said it made sense because that guy taught her about Italian wine and also, unrelatedly, put together a huge tasting of 1982 Bordeaux for RP. The latter of course, sent him on his way. At the time, wine was a passion for a few eccentrics, or so I thought.

Anyhow, I agree that there's a growth in range and understanding. I don't believe, like I've heard repeatedly, that one "starts" with CA or Australia or even Bordeaux, and "progresses" to something like Burgundy.  I sure as hell haven't. You can find people who say that they used to love CdP when they didn't know as much. What the hell does that mean? Do they have to hate it now? Duh.

I do believe, however, that if one is curious, one can find additional things to appreciate, hence increasing one's range. For example, for years, I'd never buy a white except for a Riesling, which I put into its own category. Now I'm quite happy to have whites from many places. You might try a Garnacha from the south of France or Spain and like that and buy it, but one day you might explore further and taste something like Lagrein that you've never heard of and suddenly you have a new item to add to your taste palate/palette. That seems normal and inevitable. Hell - it's happening to Spike right before our very eyes!

Reply by spikedc, May 15, 2012.

Another thing that's happening is my love of wine is rubbing off on my friends, suddenly they are asking me have i tried anything good lately and joining me at tastings even asking me for advice, feels strange. The only advice I give is the one I was given by you guys, just drink as wide a variety as you can enjoy and make your own mind up, I certainly did.

If I sound a bit enthusiastic that's because I am. Going to a 'Summer Wine Evening' tomorrow at a local retailer where they are showcasing their new range, can't wait.

Also on the 28th of this month we are going to Northern Spain for a holiday touring the Pilgrimage route from Madrid to Santiago de Compostela staying at Paradors on route, more importantly travelling through the heart of Rioja. Stopping at various local Bodegas.



Reply by dmcker, May 15, 2012.

Yeah, Greg, and we thought $28 for a bottle of Sassicaia back then was exorbitant!  Hell, good Sonoma cabs (Louis Martini) were going for something like $6 most everywhere, even cheaper if you knew where to look. Splurging on Gajas and especially Biondi Santis in those days didn't hurt as much, either.

Enthusiasm does transfer, Spike!  Looking forward to hearing about wines you encounter in Basque territory (San Sebastian?) as well as down in Rioja. A lot of Basques just view Txacoli the same as simple quaffs like beer or Portuguese vinho verde, but I find them a damned fine way to wash the dust from the throat on a hot afternoon....

Reply by spikedc, May 15, 2012.


Txacoli sounds iteresting, never heard of it . I will certainly try to find some and let you know what I think.

Found this bit of info




Reply by Richard Foxall, May 15, 2012.

Not a lot to add here, but that never stopped me here before. ;-)

As someone raised in the Bay Area in the early years of the great wine revolution with parents who drank wine and allowed us to partake from childhood, I naturally started with the local product. I've mentioned those BVs and Mondavis elsewhere--as I said, aspirational and special occasion bottles at prices that seem laughable now.  (On the whole, though, there's waaaay more good wine for relatively little money these days.) Lots of chenins in there, too, dmcker, which really didn't compare to what came later--they raised it in the Central Valley for fortified.  When I was 15, which was around the beginning of that blog post that dmcker posted, we moved to Boston, and getting the wines we liked from California was nearly impossible.  (We brought home cases one summer after my sister's wedding in Calabassas.) The better restaurants, such as they were, in Boston served Italian food and the state of the wine available then was completely dreadful.  Probably set my exploration of non-California wine back twenty years, no exaggeration.  As wine drinkers, we have lots to be thankful for.

Bad as the "yuppie" years were, the spreading of the revolution in food and wine picked up dramatically then.  Sneer at brie and chardonnay, but France and Italy both got the kick they needed in about '82, one from a good vintage, one from being nearly left behind.

Speaking of rubbing off on a friend or two, a couple months back a parent at my kids' school asked if I was "that Foxall on Snooth."  I sound on here pretty much like I do in the real world, I guess.  (And I didn't hide my identity, thinking I would never post, 1334 posts ago!)  He was looking to buy wine on a budget and found us.  Today, the principal of the school asked where I got that bottle I gave her after the school auction a while back.  I think it was a Ramey--gee, I'm a good parent!

Nice comment by GregT about the Lagrein--I was going to write something earlier and was going to use either it or Teroldego as an example of why I come here: My neighbor is not going to be much help in explaining why I was not wowed by my first adventure in Teroldego a while back.  Here, you can find someone else who is geeking out on Lagrein (now that's a grape I've had some fun with), and I've even texted JD from a restaurant to tell him I was trying a pecorino for the first time and gotten into a little discussion on what we expected.  On the other hand, dessert wines don't do much for me and not many fortifieds, although I've gone the sherry route and would explore more. There's so much to try in the areas I like--dry reds, whites, roses, sparklers--I don't feel like I have to force myself to broaden much more just for the sake of sophistication.  Preferences are just part of our make-up.

As for the ever-expanding world, I started that thread about the FTi:Cabernet as a kind of response to the idea that I hadn't had what is still at the top of my list in a long time.  You can get lost in trying stuff, in a good way, but it's fun to circle back around.  Which reminds me of a great poem by TS Eliot that sums up what any exploration is like:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Reply by GregT, May 16, 2012.

You guys may visit for wine reasons but I come here because who else is going to produce some line by T.S. Eliot?

D's post about the $28 Sassacaia got me thinking about the first "expensive" wine I ever brought. It was $18 and we carried it 12 blocks home from the store in both hands, fearing to drop it on the sidewalk. We got it into the house, carefully took it out of the bag and opened it. Poured two glasses, each took a sip, and we just looked at each other and said "wow".  I'd just learned that at some level, you get what you pay for.

Took a while longer to learn that there's not a linear correlation, and essentially no correlation once you pass $30 or so.

Spike - Txakoli is fine but the problem in the market, at least in the US, is that it's a little overpriced for what you get. Some people are OK with that but in the US, there's a huge difference between $28 and $18 in the market. And the Txakoli tends to be at the former end. There's the 'geek' factor that might add a buck or two, but that's about it and psychologically, people don't want to spend nearly thirty dollars for something that compares with many good twenty dollar wines. Got done with a tasting about an hour ago comparing Muscadet to Albarino and some of those Muscadets came out really well. Had one from 1999 and it was pretty good at over 12 years. Who knew?  There's some pretty good Txakoli out there but if it's not better at $28 than an Albarino or Muscadet at $20, why should I pay the price? First bottle is for curiosity but after that it's a hard sell. If they get their pricing in line, they'll be the next fad.

Reply by Richard Foxall, May 16, 2012.

GregT:  TSE had a man-crush on Groucho Marx which was pretty weird. 

On the txakoli front, I think it got faddish a couple years ago and the price went up.  I remember buying some and drinking it right at the beginning of my awareness of it and it was under $20 by a buck or two. Also was a hot BTG offering in the Bay Area a couple summers ago.  Right after gruner and albarino peaked.

My own muscadet experience has been in the sub-$15 range--there's plenty of it at $10 or so--and it's been all good.  Hasn't gotten traction like albarino and (my sense) txak, which is fine by me.  Not hard to find but still cheap?  I'm on that. I think that the faddish market eschews a wine that's too inexpensive.  Haven't tried to age the muscadet past a few years--4 or so--but with the sur lies treatment, I can imagine it going longer.  Just hard to keep my hands off it in the summer to let it age. Thanks to cellar management tools, it's less common to simply forget you have a wine and have it age by benign neglect.  (Lingprof, you listening?)


Back to Categories

Popular Topics

Top Contributors This Month

259386 Snooth User: zufrieden
7 posts
1413489 Snooth User: dvogler
7 posts
89564 Snooth User: GregT
4 posts


View All

Snooth Media Network