Friday, June 22, 2007

Onwards & Upwards

A letter from the Editor:

Dear InterWinos,

InterWined has moved to its own site

At, you’ll find buyer recommendations, wine reviews, wine videos, clothing, and a whole lot more.

Here’s a preview of just one of the things you'll find at

Friday, June 08, 2007

CO2 Zero

During the course of Interwined's struggle to get together some good wine entertainment, Interwined's writer, Jacob Gaffney, is sometimes asked to do other things. In this case, Gaffney recently wrote a few articles on Carbon Neutral wineries, published by Wine Spectator magazine(subscription recommended).

So now the Oregon Environmental Council is asking for Gaffney to speak at a conference on Global Warming and the Wine Industry in mid-July. Naturally, Gaffney is honored and excited, especially at the prospect of writing an incredibly self-indulgent mini-biography, which Interwined will now share with you:

International wine journalist, Jacob Gaffney, has contributed frequently to Wine Spectator magazine for nearly eight years. His personal interests in the environmental issues and impacts of the wine industry have grown greatly since his move to London six years ago, where the weather continues to grow warmer and warmer year after year. Jacob greets the sunnier skies with suspicion.

Gaffney's recent coverage for Wine Spectator has included the decision by many wineries to go Carbon Neutral. His focus is on the correct implementation of a CO2 zero strategy for wineries. But his eco-expertise doesn't stop there. Gaffney was also honored recently to be the guest speaker at the launch of Organico, Britain's first and only dedicated organic and biodynamic wine shop.

The 2.4 tons of Carbon emission from Gaffney's flight to Oregon will be offset by UK-based Climate Care, at his expense. Gaffney intends to exercise full bragging rights for committing this nobly selfish act.

Also, Gaffney is not a big fan of Fairtrade. It's best not to ask him about that if you have somewhere to be in the next five minutes.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Vertical Magnums, Dude

This entry will not be as exciting as the title makes it sound.

There will be no snow, no young kids self-propelling, with the aid of gravity, down some slope on some stick of wood of some sort.

Two things: Magnums are big bottles of wine that hold the equivalent of two bottles of wine (1.5 liters).

Interwined recently had two Magnums. The idea is that magnums, which look cool and work great for dinner parties, mature at a much different rate. Wine matures quickly in a big vat, not as quick in a smaller barrel and even slower in a tinier standard bottle of wine. Think of a magnum as between a bottle and barrel.

The 2003 Bodegas Olvena Magnum from Somontano, Spain was purchased after some hard bargaining between Interwined and the fabulous wine shop, Planet of the Grapes. One of the owners, Matt, said, "Hey, Interwined, buy that bottle for 20 quid and stick it on your blog."

It was an offer Interwined couldn't refuse.

(two bottles worth for 20 pounds equals ten pounds per 'bottle,' the far end of the Interwined budget-per-bottle.)

As expected, the magnum was smoother and more elegant that it's single bottle counterpart. The black cherry was also expected, but no less enjoyed. There was a hint of tarty flint, which would be more pronounced, and likely less enjoyable, in a single bottle offering. Delicious. 8.7 points.

The 2003 Magnum of Vendange California Cabernet is a example of a big American wine in a big American bottle.

Interwined sees visions of drivers in hybrid cars, humming through the highways of Los Angeles, driving around with long, silly-slurp straws poking out the top of a magnum of Vendange. Ready to drink on a Friday night, this one, and the new oak abounds with black berry. Simple and effective. Let breath for two hours to one day. 8.5 points.

The second thing: Verticals are a wine tasting technique where one is offered several consecutive vintages of the same grape, from the same producer. The aim here is to appreciate vintage, the year in which the grapes were picked. In this case Vina Ventisquero Pinot Noir, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005.

The 2005 will be the best. Eventually. Now it's the 2003. The 2002 is on its way out, and so lacks fresh vivacity and sandal soapiness of a Chilean Pinot Noir. The 2004 had too much rain, and that is evident in the wine, especially when running against the others.

A vertical of the Cabernet Sauvignons 2003, 2004, 2005. All decent. New Oak and mineral. The evening was sealed as winemaker Felipe Tossa Bruna presented a sneak peek of Ventisquero's latest Iconic wine, Pangea. The wine is a collaboration of John Duval of Penfold's Grange fame. The wine is being launched at the end of June, and will retail for around 25 GBP per bottle.

Out of the league for Interwined's wallet, which doesn't want to give away any tasting notes on Pangea just yet, except for this: buy a bottle for a special occasion. It is an incredibly delicious and drinkable wine.

Pangea rocks, dude.

Even more than those bitchin' Vertical Magnums.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Oz Clarke, Jancis Robinson, 60 Pound Australia Wine

Let's get one thing straight, Champagne can only come from France. Champagne, France to be exact. The method of making Champagne is oft repeated, but nothing matches the earth of Champagne. Many other producers add gas to make a wine sparkle, many other producers don't -- but in Champagne, the wine goes in the bottle with some extra yeast.

The cork goes on.

The wine ferments a second time and releases gas. The Carbon can't escape a corked bottle, but instead pushes and pushes until it 'pops' free. Boo-yah. Global warming in a bottle.

Some people, who incorrectly label their sparkling wines, presumably for phony marketing, and sometimes even add extra ingredients, as with an Almond Champagne are bending the rules. Interwined is told this Almond Champagne is the bomb. But it is wrong, so wrong.

Can't wait to try it.

Ruinart is a Champagne house that appeals both in taste and in price. In fact, their lower priced bottlings are tremendously delicious. Unfortunately, the Blanc de Blancs (only Chardonnay) is not worth the 45 GBP price tag. (It was a celebration.)

Other positives are the Lanson Black Label which frequents the cheapside London party scene. Not sure of the price, but it's nice.

But, it's the Bollinger NV that takes the cake. Minerality, mainly flint, a nice, crisp profile with a touch of tarty green apple. Not to mention a decent weight and enjoyable finish. 8.8 points. Bollinger also continues to bubble for FOUR days after being opened. Now that's gas.

A black cab driver (his taxi is painted black para mi Gringos) aired his wine grievances to Interwined during a 35 GBP fare today. The French keep the best wine to themselves, as do the Australians, he said. He claimed to have once called Oz Clarke a wine snob to his face and maintained that he watches Jancis Robinson's TV show, Uncorked Italy, in order to fall asleep.

Harsh stuff. And unfair. Interwined regrets not telling the driver it was not necessary to drive all the way through Hampstead Heath, but Interwined is not in the business of judging the jobs of others.

The cabbie did add that he felt Argentina trumps Chile with its block-buster Malbec and that 2005 Ribera del Duero was going to be a very promising vintage (!). Would have name-dropped, but he admitted to not owning a computer.

His daughter also does these puppet commercials for Italian sauce company, Dolmio, and is often on set in Australia. She returned with a 60 GBP bottle of wine and opened it with much fanfare at the house. She gave him a glass, he took a sip, and told her, "Darling, I wouldn't even rate this wine."

And Interwined agrees. From now on, when Interwined tries a bad bottle, not word will be written. That way if you see a rating behind a wine, just remember its name.

And know it's all good.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Wine Basics, How to Taste Wine, Wine 101

A guest just left the Interwined palace. This guest also reads this blog religiously.

After dinner with some wine importers, the guest declared the very same wine importers had "finally taught [this person] the correct way to drink wine."

Again, this person reads Interwined religiously.

---------- So -------------

How to taste wine:

1. Sniff the empty wine glass. This will reveal if there is any left over soap or vinegar residue that would confound the wine's aromas and flavors.

2. Do not fill the glass past one-third full or one-fourths empty. This leaves enough wine to swirl, enough wine to get a decent sip.

3. Swirl the wine to release the aromas. Smell. Do this step before each sip to truly appreciate the way wine evolves as the alcohol evaporates (among the other chemical reactions that cause the wine to 'mature' in the glass).

4. Drink the wine and then suck in some air. This will evaporate the wine on your palate and release 'smells' for you to 'taste.'

5. Swallow the friggin' wine. Observe body, weight, finish. Or spit and observe how wine stains clothes when zurburred.

6. Skipping any of these steps will equal less enjoyment.

Now, let's get back to work.

P-S -- Ignore the cork, legs, robe, etc. Have little to do with wine drinking and only serve to confuse.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reisling, Verdicchio, London Underground, Biodynamic Italian Rose

Picture a jar crammed full of pennies. Now picture Interwined stuffed at the bottom of that jar. Also, put that jar out in the sun, surrounded by rotten eggs. That is about a close as one could get to imagining a journey on the London tube during rush hour last week.

What's worse is that the cost of the journey is about the same price for a nice bottle of wine!

Interwined likes to pass the time on the tube thinking about wines, of course, and pairing food and wine, and cheese and wine, if it's late in the evening, pairing chocolate and red wine, etc. But what sort of wines pair well with a packed subway car?

Oddly, summer wines!

(TIP: Don't overuse exclamation points, the point becomes diminished when you do!)

A 2004 Riesling from the German winery, Schloss Schonborn, in the Rheingau proved to be the perfect pair. This wine had a slight greasiness with a flinty aroma. The body is soft and easy and swirling is unusually fun. Hint of apricots and a lower than average ABV means you can have two glasses before flinging yourself headfirst into a wall of stinky flesh and not lose your cool.

Forget the pennies imagery, come to think of it. Getting on a packed tube feels more like you're a rusty key being sunk into a bucket of cream cheese. German Riesling with packed public transport: 8.8 points.

Other runners up include a Verdicchio from central Italy. Verdicchio oftens look like a chardonnay, but tastes better. In this case the clear, hay yellow hue of the wine was tinted with light green (thus the use of 'verde' in its name). The first day it was opened it was crisp and lively, if too tart. The second day all had balanced out. By the fourth day, a day that most Chardonnays would spoil by, this Verdicchio tasted like a chardonnay!


A great grape to look for and experiment with.

There is a biodynamic rose on the go right now… so check back this week for a review.