Archive for August, 2011

Let’s Make Fun of Celebrity Wine Makers, Mike Ditka Edition

August 27, 2011

Attitude, Character, Enthusiasm.  Welcome to the wines of Mike Ditka.  When the Hall of Fame player and coach decided to let the prolific Mendocino Wine Company craft his lineup of wines he wouldn’t settle for anything less than Kick Ass!  Mike Ditka actually traveled to some of the best 3rd rate vineyard sites to watch the blending of five wines.  Only the toughest, forward moving wines were good enough to have his name on the label.  Then, all that was needed was Ditka’s coaching expertise and mustache know-how to complete the brand.  No cheerleader or sissy placekicker wines here.

But please don’t change your intake until you have ordered and paid for these wines.
from his website

Cabernet Sauvignon:   Attitude means a clear, direct approach or stance. Clear, true-to-type varietal character is a hallmark of my wines. Character is integrity and appeal, that extra zing that makes this wine stand out from the pack. And how can a wine have Enthusiasm? By being ready to go, any time, any place. Open this bottle and see for yourself. $19.99

Merlot: Whattaya want in a good house wine, anyway? Lemme tellya: Good fruit flavors, nice balance, somethin’ at goes great with a lotta different kinds of food. This is it, a real good wine I know you’re gonna like. Rich and dry with flavors of smoky black cherry and plum and complexities of clove and toasty oak in the lingering finish. $13.99

Kick Ass Red:  This blended red wine, Kick Ass Red, is the top of the line bottling for the Mike Ditka brands. It is a brilliant, concentrated dry red wine with luscious aromas and flavors of jammy wild blackberry. It has a lingering finish of freshly ground black pepper and toasty vanilla. Worthy of cellar aging, this wine is delicious now with fine beef, wild game and artisan cheeses. $49.99

There is also Mike Ditka’s Kick Ass Wine Club that you can join. It’s described as “Kick Ass!”

Kick Ass Perks include: 20% off all Mike Ditka Wines and logo merchandise; first access to newly released and limited edition wines; 30% off your Super Bowl wine party order; recipes and party ideas.

Mike Ditka,

Hall of Fame Player.

Hall of Fame Coach.


Former guy who once thought about running for senate.


Got Caught in the Blades

August 23, 2011

Playing around the windmill, she’s alright now though.  

Moulin-à-Vent is one of ten important villages in the central-north area of Beaujolais.  The area has more hills than the Côte-d’Or with some vineyards even situated on the Beaujolais mountains.  The dramatic shifts in landscape and soil types make for expressive variations of the Gamay grape.   Moulin-à-Vent and the other nine Cru Beaujolais are nothing like the unfortunate mass-marketed Beaujolais Nouveau and really shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath.  Moulin-à-Vent is often considered the richest and darkest, most long lived of all the crus, often being compared to fine Burgundy.  The soils here are abundant in iron and manganese which put extra stress on vines.  Too much of these elements will be toxic for grapes (just like too much manganese in the human body will cause neurological disorders) but just the right amount  will naturally lower yields and produce grapes of great concentration and character.

2009 Domain Gerard Charvet Moulin-à-Vent “La Reserve au Amelie”, $18.  Imported by Wine Traditions.

Most examples of Moulin-à-Vent can come with a price tag, Charvet’s is a great value and a great example of what the village can produce.  It is plump and mineral and smells like sex.  The press refers to the 09 vintage as perfect, plenty of sunshine, just the right amount of rain and dry enough to make a bountiful, ripe harvest producing wines of great body and immediate pleasure. “La Reserve au Amelie” is tasting great now, I would be curious to sock away a few bottles to taste what happens in a few years.

Here are The Smothers Brothers singing about their favorite wine.

Company Profile: PRÉDEL, for Tannin Management!

August 22, 2011

Since 1989 the Bordeaux based PRÉDEL has helped struggling winemakers with problems of filtration, microbiology and hygiene. Here are some of the winemaking products they provide…

Liquid  and powder Enzyme formulations:  These can do about everything from pumping up color, clarifying cloudy wine, to enhancing aromas.  All meant for super hot thermo-winemaking.  When you bring the grapes and the must to a near boil before fermentation you can do miracles with color and tannin extraction.  Deconstruct the wine, get rid of the bad stuff and put the good stuff in.

Anti-Oxidants:  Protects the grape must from oxidation and decreases bitterness.

Specially Prepared Yeasts:  from their website, here are some names of yeast strains…

ESSENTIAL GRAND CRU: For structured, elegant and complex wines(good with Merlot, Cabernet S, Zinfandel)

ELITE PREMIUM: For structure, color and spiciness (good with Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Malbec)

PRIMA: Develops cherry and fruit aromas (good with Pinot and Gamay)

HAR 17: Chardonnay variety

FINAROME: aromatic white wines, high capacity for revealing terpene-type varietal aroma precursors (ß-glucosidase                            activity) ? huh…

THIOL AROMA: aromatic white wines, high capacity for revealing thiol-type varietal aroma precursors. ? wha…

® – PINK EXCEL: fruity rosé wines

DAVIS 522: safe fermentation and highlights the primary aroma

PDM: development of white, red and effervescent wines

Aging Products: These include tannin extracts from French and American oak, chestnut, grape seeds and grape skins, also Acacia and Eucalyptus plants and Cherries.  Want the wine to taste of coconut, vanilla or cocoa?  How about spicy or smoky or caramel?  PRÉDEL also cheats by providing fresh oak shavings, oak staves and barrel inserts. Toasted to any degree of toastiness needed.

Filtration Services:  Oh man, just go to their website, every aspect of their company is listed.  It really destroys the romantic notion of leather skinned farmers growing grapes for generations, waking up at dawn to pick the years harvest and delivering it to an underground, chalk cellar, vinifying a beverage to drink alongside a fresh chicken.

Onward! To The Canary Islands!

August 11, 2011

Volcanoes can kill, it’s true!  Mount Vesuvius totally wiped away Pompeii.  Mauna Loa off of Hawaii may soon blow,  Mount Merapi is just waiting to ruin Indonesia’s day, remember Krakatau?  Iceland took it pretty hard from Lakagigar!  But before you duck and cover and give up all hope remember that volcanoes are our friends too.  They can give birth to land masses, forming beautiful vacation getaways with unmatched sunsets and baked-sanded nude beaches.  Take the eastern most island of Lanzarote off the coast of Spain.

Lanzarote is the fourth largest island of the Canary Island’s fame born from volcanic ash creating an otherworldly landscape reminiscent of Mars (if Mars wasn’t red, wait a minute…Lanzarote is named after the Genoese explorer Lancelotto Malocello, the original name-Insula de Lanzarotus Marocelus translated from the original, native island tongue means “THE RED MOUNTAIN”!!) Oh my god, where are we???


These two wines from Los Bermajos come from quick draining volcanic soils which have a hard time holding water from the extremely harsh and dry, wind swept climate.  The vines are actually trained in foxholes to deflect the intense breezes meaning they have to be carefully tended by hand (no tractors can cruise through these vineyards!) making the yields extremely low producing wines of intense composition transmitting an honest sense of place.

2009 Los Bermejos Malvasia Seco Lanzarote, $25.  Imported by Jose Pastor Selections.

If there is any doubt that terrior is fantasy this wine will make you a believer.  Medium bodied, wildly textured, dry and savory.  This is  zesty fruit flavor mixed with a handful of sea pebbles.  Drink it with a sun baked and seasoned mackerel or by itself while shakin your ass at Carnival.

2009 Los Bermejos Tinto Carbónico Lanzarote, $22.  Imported by Jose Pastor Selections.

Carbonic maceration is the process of throwing whole clusters of grapes into a sealed container.  The grapes on the bottom get slightly crushed and eventually kick start fermentation, carbon dioxide is released and permeates the skins of the grapes on top fermenting them from the inside.  This process reduces natural malic acid and creates a softer, less tannic and fruity wine.  The 100% Listan Negra is definitely fresh and fruity but is interwoven with a wonderfully raspy herbal note giving it a stiff, mineral structure.  Have it with any combination of pork, cilantro, dried pepper, boiled egg and potato.

Check out the cool lip on the bottle, you can pour without dribbling!

Fun fact!  Did you know the islands are not named after canaries?  They are in fact named after “canaria” which are wild, fierce dogs that Romans encountered when they first landed here.