Jury Duty

Loyal Daddy Winebucks Readers,

12-angry-menYes, I’ve been remiss in posting but with good reason.  Call it civic duty, call it following in the footsteps of the Founding Father’s, call it sitting around for eight hours switiching buildings, from jury assembly to courtroom having to pass through metal detectors each time.

But whatever you choose to call it, I’ve got Jury Duty.  I’ve not yet been put on a case yet, but I’m sensing I will be on a jury by this morning.  If I’m right, I should have some interesting insight for the blog come next week.

Will the defendent please rise?

Published in: on May 5, 2009 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  

This Cab’s for You

rubegoldbergI’ll admit from the outset that I’m somewhat of a technophobe.  It took me awhile to get a cellphone that had e-mail capabilities, I fumble around with Excel like Garo Yepremeian in the ’73 Super Bowl and need my eight year old son to help me set up a password on my computer.

But with all this said, can we please, please slow down when it comes to wine innovation?

So now some resourceful restauranteurs are using a keg system to serve wine by the glass, making it not only cheaper but less wasteful, as the wine can last far longer than it would with a corked bottle behind the bar.  Yes, all these things on the surface are good – it’s hard to complain when the wine being poured into a glass you have purchased is as fresh and flavorful as if the bottle was just opened and yet, at the same time, part of the allure of wine is the ancient way its rituals have been passed down for thousands of years.

In some ways, I want my friendly neighborhood bar keep to grab that bottle of Pinot from behind him, pull the cork and pour my glass right in front of me instead of having to put on a Hazmat suit, flip the carbon filtration system to the ready position – which can only be done together with another co-worker who must turn his key at exactly the same moment, set the pour spout to “ON” and wait for the wine, forced by nitrogen, to make its serpentine journey from wherever, into a glass to be served.

I know I love my Petite Sirah cut with a little N.  Don’t you?

Now you may ask, “Okay, Daddy Traditionalist, what about screw tops?”  Okay, I like them.  Not to replace corks but just to assist in my laziness.  I love the feeling of going to open a school night wine and finding a screw top.  Means I’ll be drinking sooner.  But I prefer when I buy wine at a restaurant, to enjoy the whole experience of having the wine presented to me, the cork being pulled by the sommelier or server and having the wine come to my glass that way.

Call me old fashioned, call me a curmudgeon, heck call me about to turn 44 (hopefully that explains some of my charming contradictions).

For me, wine is one of life’s pleasures that does not require updating with fast aging swizzle sticks, Wine Pod’s (is Apple suing?) or any other Jetsons-esque machinery for getting me my glassful of vino.

Just pull and pour, baby.

Published in: on April 9, 2009 at 10:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Grape Madness: The Final Four (aka Don’t Cry for Me…)

argentina2Throughout the course of Grape Madness, there have been charges lobbied from all directions at the blind tastings, some educated, others basically the rantings of the oenocologically challenged.

But one fact that cannot be overlooked whether you are Robert Parker or someone with the initials DG is that we each go into the evaluation of any wine with our preferences on our palate.

For me, over the years I’ve become more accustomed to, and enjoy more, those wines that exhibit strong upfront fruit, not a “bomb” per se but certainly not an austere, trust me this will be good in fifteen years kind of wine.

So heading into the Final Four this weekend, I felt I knew a lot about the wines I was tasting and like RJ in the Northern California brackets, I too went into my first final four matchup with a certain expectation of what was going to happen, even if I did not know what wine was in what bag.

(3)Talus Pinot Noir versus (3) Bodega Norton Malbec

Both of these wines deserved to be in the Final Four.  Talus, a sure fire early exit pick of mine got through its part of the bracket against two more expensive challengers and showed its worth in a close but sure handed victory over the Rawson’s Retreat.

But like an aging fighter visited in the locker room by an Atlantic City mob boss and told, “Sorry kid, this ain’t your night.” the light and airiness of the Pinot, so pleasant in the Elite Eight, really did not stand a chance against a gamer challenger in the Norton.

From our first sips of each wine, Marc and I looked at each other and knew.  Well I looked at him, I think he was writing down his estimated brix at harvest for each wine as part of his scoring system.

The Malbec was big and jammy on the nose, yes, but as I’ve said ad naseum before, big fruity nosed wines often disappoint on the palate, not living up to what you anticipate from having your olfactory glands massaged by some big, brassy broad.  What impressed about the Argentine was its structure, that balance all the way through that to me is the hallmark of great wine, at any price point.

The Talus hung as close as possible but found themselves down by 16 at the half, 55-39.

The second half was more of the same, each time the Pinot got close with some mild and enjoyable fruit, I’d take a sip of what I had surely indentified as the Malbec, and heard Patti Lupone singing in my ear.

The game was never really as close as the final score:

Bodega Norton 84, Talus 74

So the plucky wine from South America has made it all the way to the big dance on Monday.  And earned its trip every step of the way.

Published in: on April 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm  Comments (1)  

Improv Blogging

Call it Blogger’s Block, hectic start of the year workload or just suburban ennui, I’ve been a little lean in the writing department lately.  I’ve got the wines to review, sure, but most of my enjoyment in being a hobbyist blogger is the creative process involved in hopefully being entertaining.

So what better way to get the juices flowing than abdicating all responsibility in the process and throwing it back to you, Daddy Winebucks reader.

Picture yourself on Melrose Blvd., in Los Angeles, the home of the world famous Groundlings.  I’ve come on stage and asked you to throw out any topic, which I’ll turn around and form into an improvosational blog post.

Come on people, it’s either that or a succession of under $5.00 wine reviews.  Help me, help you…

Published in: on January 6, 2009 at 12:48 pm  Comments (5)  

The Race for 57 – Day Four

On a night where the final four teams in this year’s MLB playoffs were set, I popped a bottle of Black Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.

From Blue Moon Wines in Walnut Creek, this is a simple wine, a Cabernet that adds a touch of Cabernet Franc & Petite Sirah to the blend.  At 13% alcohol (my new favorite lucky number – for wine), its got a little upfront fruit and a bit of acidity, nothing earth shattering but pleasant.

Interestingly, the website has several brands, one of which is called Brownstone.  Its Cabernet is also listed as having “a touch of Cabernet Franc and Petite Syrah”, exactly as it states on the Black Ridge label.

I once heard that there is only one vitamin company that simply bottles the same C, E & B12 into many different brands.

Wonder if this is more of the same…

I rated this a DOUBLE last night but am going to pull that back to a SINGLE.

Still, a hit’s a hit.


Published in: on October 7, 2008 at 1:13 pm  Comments (2)  

Are you Ready for some Football (and wine)?

As my friends and I have gotten older, our regular guy events have gotten more subdued.

The most noticeable change in our habits these days is the inclusion of wine when we get together.  As a group, we’ve done many an “Open that bottle” night, where everyone brings a super special bottle and we pop them all with delight.  We’ve done our blind tastings, where I recall my ringer bottle of ’95 Gevrey Chambertin getting way outloved by a $12.99 bottle of Coppola’s Diamond Label Pinot Noir.

Well played, Francis.  Well played.

Now though, wine is associated with our most “manly” get togethers, the monthly poker game, where smoking is strictly prohibited and seven or eight Riedel wine glasses share space with our chips, bad language and sub standard card playing skills.

But no where have we left those  American Sunday values behind us more than drinking vino when we watch football.  I’m not saying we’re imbibing it for the 10am PST Eagles game, but any time we’re watching the second game, a bottle will surely be opened.

I can only imagine what it would look like if the fans at the game were looking through a screen at us, as we sit in my friend’s plush home theatre, stadium seating giving everyone a great view of his 105″ Hi-Def screen.  My guess is we’d get beer thrown on us, complete with slurs about our manhood, how we probably moisturize our faces before we go to sleep (at least I do), how we drive Prius’ (which many of us do) and how we’re probably voting Obama (which I suspect we all are).

In the immortal words of coach, Reg Dunlop of the Charlestown Chiefs, “Go ahead, call us Names.”  Just don’t expect us to share our Lewis Cellars Cabernet with you.

Ain’t gonna happen…

Published in: on September 9, 2008 at 3:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dateline DWB: To Catch a (Nationally Recognized Wine Publication) Predator

So I’m sitting in a Peets Coffee in Marin County, CA waiting to meet a friend I made on Facebook thumbing through the wine section of the San Francisco Chronicle (to all you Rush Limbaugh listening, Ford Econoline driving, Toby Keith worshipping conservatives, yes, I was a Volvo away from being your worst liberal nightmare) when I came across a great story describing a scam perpetrated against the Wine Spectator.

I’m not a “gotcha” kind of guy.  Even though I’m often guilty of schadenfreude, I take no joy in seeing those misled into something being vilified for it in the public square.  Whether it’s the politician forced to explain a statement they made ten years before on “Meet the Press” to even the creepy low life caught with a four- pack of wine coolers speaking to a girl they think is fifteen years old, only to have an equally creepy Chris Hansen slither from the shadows like Dick Dastardly, with us, the audience, his snickering sidekick, Muttley.

But of course these people need to be exposed, caught for doing things if not outright illegal, than surely worthy of scrutiny, as in the case of Wine Spectator.

Each year the magazine gives out awards for noteworthy restaurant wine lists, and for those that meet their editor’s criteria, special certificates of excellence are given that these restaurants can use to print on menus, post up on their websites, etc.

Making matters worse for WS is that they charge for the privilege to be considered for their prestigious awards, $250.00 per submission (of which they received over 4000).  For those scoring at home, that’s over a million dollars in revenue (not gross mind you, I’m sure there are many expenses associated with this issue).

Where the story gets interesting though is not that the scammer, a writer who blogged about his treachery on his very own Word Press (yeah!) page, filled his bogus wine list with the world’s great wines, thereby ensuring his place in the Wine Spectator Wine list Hall of Fame.  No, the genius of this scam was that the list included some of the highest priced, worst scored Italian wines the magazine has ever reviewed.


AMARONE CLASSICO “LA FABRISERIA” 1998 (Veneto) Tedeschi 185,00 €:  Wine Spectator rating: 60 points. “…Unacceptable. Sweet and cloying. Smells like bug spray…

With Raid staining the crisp white shirts from New York to Milan, the magazine’s editors were quick to cry foul, citing their victimhood in this “elaborate hoax” but really, could the White House press secretary for W sound any sillier, claiming they’ve been reminded that “no one is completely immune to fraud.”

The more I’ve thought about this story the less I feel sorry for the magazine.   Could they have been expected to review 4000 entries accurately, maybe not, I’ll give them that.  But perhaps, instead of cashing 4000 checks they should have only done so for those restaurants that were truly verifiable, with wine lists that were exactly what they should have been to receive recognition that is then used to take our money as a result.

In this case, Wine Spectator isn’t being duped.  We are.

Published in: on August 25, 2008 at 8:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Me & My Shadow

While Americans are told at an early age that alcohol is a big no-no for our beloved children, in Europe, they’ve been doing it for centuries and those kids all turned out fine (WWII Axis power dictators notwithstanding).

So when our then three-year old cherub, Joss (pictured above) asked for a sip of my wine, then proceeded to say, “Mo”, while reaching for the glass like Ponce de Leon, I knew he must be my child.

He has since tried many a sip of wine over the next three years and although his vocabulary now includes the properly pronounced “more”, his kindergarten-esque passion for wine is as strong as ever.  Thus Daddy Winebucks, blog# 456,768,311,000,000 was born this day on the World Wide Interweb.

My plan is to write about all manner of subjects wine and kids related, regaling you not only with tales from the winery trenches in my daily life, as partner in Waugh Cellars and Six Degrees, but also those of being the best husband in the world (my words) to raising two young boys, one of whom, due to his excessive drinking has already earned a waiting list spot at Promises in Malibu.

I’ll pepper in book and restaurant reviews, as well as my own wine ratings (system TBD) from both me and the kid, who nearing six has already tasted 25 vintages of d’Yquem (okay, that’s a lie – just wanted to link them).

C’mon, wine reviews from a child?  A must read, no?

Take that Gary V! 🙂


Published in: on August 7, 2008 at 1:31 am  Comments (2)