The Cork and I; and the Badenhorst Family Wines Secateurs Red Blend, 2010

If you classify yourself as a wine enthusiast, chances are you have some opinions on how  your bottle is stored. Specifically, with the cap. Corked or screw cap? Opinions vary from being scientific to aesthetic, but often reaching more towards the romantic. Corks are typically attributed to the later.

Corks have the ability to add a touch of personality to the wine that wouldn’t have it otherwise: the designs, the wood used, the quality, real or synthetic and even exudes a sense of danger. Who among us, we who imbibe upon the oldest known intoxicant the world has known, has not plundered deep into a cork, twist and pulled, yanked and strained, only to find the cork crumbling away as it inches upwards? And how many exclamations of “oh, shit!” have been yipped in that respect? But those who stand by the cork, for good or for ill, feel that all the above are apart of the experience, a personal connection. It’s fighting the good fight, braving one last microcosmic storm before jollification at the end of an arduous day.
That’s a romantic perspective, however. Others like to simply collect corks as if conquered trophies. You’ll find some whom like to smell the butt of the cork before commencing the tasting – something looked down on by the snubs of the community for reasons I could never quite fathom.

Ah, worthy.

There’s been some flutter of information out there that says the screw cap method is not only more reliable, but actually better for wines needing a longer fermentation in order to gain elegance, insuring the wine with a long and effectuating period of ameliorate. And then you will undoubtedly hear from (whom I’ll go ahead an call) Corkies a recrimination: that the screw cap does not allow any air into the wine, thus rendering the fermentation process to be nullified.
It looks like we’re going to get a more solidified answer after September, 2013. The University of California, Davis, has been undergoing a study that will better solidify an answer to the conundrum, to what method of capping a wine is most beneficial. Over six hundred bottles of Sauvingnon Blanc are being capped in three different ways: by natural cork, synthetic cork, or screw cap. When the study concludes the bottles will be opened to both experts and casual drinkers which in turn will lend their interpretation on how much oxidation has occurred within each given capped varietal.
I suspect the aesthetic appeal will be under debate for quite sometime – until, that is, the UC Davis psychological department becomes involved.
Jillian Guernsey, an undergraduate working with the study, states that their goal is to “determine if individual bottles might be getting a lot more or less oxygen – and therefore aging at different rates.” The study hopes to conclude, conclusively, which cork should be used by the producers to ensure the proper expression which they wish the exude. If, for instance, they find a synthetic cork is effective, but much more porous than your typical wood cork, thus letting in more oxygen, a producer may be more inclined to use or shy away from a synthetic cork based on how they wish the wine to be expressed. Some wines meant to be drunken early may benefit from a slight upswing in air intake.
The radiology department is also being used to great effect in the study, using scans of the corks to probe the inner structure and composition of each. Every three months the wines will be analyzed for color change, using a spectrophotometer that will enable the researchers to inspect the wines compositional changes without opening a single bottle. The study also states that color change in white wines are phenomenal examples of how much oxidation has taken place.

We’ll have to wait and see what the word is. My only question is how red wines differentiate from whites under the same circumstances. Would the difference in oxidation in relation to the differences in structure and manufacturing be trivial? Or is it possible that red’s oxidize differently, thus reacting to the differences in corks in a whole other spectrum than a white wine?

This brings us to the Secateurs. It’s a screw cap wine, which I’m naïvely inclined to shy away from. Truth is, We’ve had many taut and sound wines that have been capped with a cap. But the ratio of insipid to luscious is respectively, in the ball park, 3:1. It’s only natural certain prejudices gestate. And so, we drink and study. Notes as follows:

Source:  UC Davis

Badenhorst Family Wines Secateurs Red Blend, 2010 – $ 14

– A dark, inky concoction threatening to make another storied stain on the couch. Deep and purple to the very edge of the rim.
– Saddle wood, dust, pepper and lively dark berries are all present. There’s a strong sense of tannins already.
– A heavy wine in the back-end. There’s not much of anything to discover in the front or middle of your mouth as you slosh it around, other than an acute, but agreeable, tinge of cherry and raisin sweetness. There’s a long finish with the jab of tannin, so you’re bound to take down the wine with ease. It wont fight you, but your not exactly able to take it out within a small meals time.
Overall: Worthy. For $14, you should give this a shot. The heaviness is actually fluttery, lively, and makes a strong case for its more acidic side. The 2010 Sectaeurs is as if a cousin to California’s most round and murky zinfandels, but that’s of little consequence when you don’t have to wrestle with every swallow.

Quote of the Evening:

“It’s not everyday a dinosaur falls on you.”
– Dr. Leonard McCoy, as played by Deforest Kelley.


Stacked Bottles: 11-18-12

It’s Sunday yet again and we’re only a few hours away from opening this week’s wine. The bread is baked to a ripe, golden tan, smelling lovely and rustic, and the cheese has been bought and remains planted idly by in the refrigerator, its frigid cell, counting down its last few moments of life before being eaten with terrific benevolence by its captors. Yes, great moments need long sentences.

As for the last week, we took on an adventurous pinotage from Argentina and a cheaper Australian table wine that we can personally attest to as being “pretty damned drinkable for the price.” Both wines are considered “worthy.” As such we say, Est! Est! Est!.

The term “Est” was used by a imperial emissary that checked in on local, Roman, taverns to check the quality of the wine before the emperor’s arrival to the area. This could be said to equate to today’s employment of being Hugh Hefner’s right-hand man. At any rate, this emissary would designate a tavern with the sign “Est” (Here it is) if they sold an acceptable wine from the Montefiascone region. The emperor was noted as shouting “Est! Est!! Est!!!” upon seeing the sign, being quite excited to imbibe (Keevil, et al, Wines of The World, p. 245, 2010).

Southern Right, 2009 pinotage – $20

– A dark, inky ruby in the glass. It looks to be a stainer.
– You come off reeling, for it smells like an old bookshelf, like your grandfather’s pendulum clock with many a story to tell. Some leather and raw hide.
– Some agreeable spoilage and acidity hits you. Then it happens; it releases and expresses an undercurrent of light blubbery with dust and saddle wood. This is nostalgia personified. If your ’68 edition of The Hobbit sitting on your bookshelf could have a taste, this would be it. There’s a deep sense of wonder, and an adventure to be taken, full of redolence of warm mid-summer night’s dreams and tales of high sea’s adventures. It leaves you refreshed, but dry.
Overall: Worthy. We loved this wine. It was worth every but of it’s price (way above or regular budget line). If you can not find yourself buying into the ancient taste, We’d recommend skipping, but otherwise We’d tell you to find the Southern Right and purchase, post haste.

Jackob’s Creek 2009 Australian cabernet Sauvignon – $5
– Light when swirling, looks to fairly strong in color.
– Licorice and molasses tinge to the smell. Somewhat promising.
– Tar and cherry is the first blush’s opinion followed by a high-tannin drop with a low acidity report, only to leave a breezy sort of sugared linger.
Overall: Worthy. The Jacokb’s Creek is a decently reliable wine for everyday drinking. The sugar is not flying off into unwelcome tangents, the tannins are right and the balance is sturdy.

Scripting and Sipping

It was six weeks into a summer script workshop, and I had finished with a full-length script. Producing a story so close to you and so personal, and so quickly, is a sickening endeavor. It’s all rush and no relish. They say the real pulp of anything ever written comes from the editing. Which I have to agree with; there has never been so good a writer as to produce a classic anything without much excoriated readings and hours spent in front of a desk rewriting the damned tale.

Ernest Hemingway once said to “Write drunk; edit sober.” There’s a simplistic brilliance to this that only a writer can fathom or appreciate. How lonely, dark, isolated, self depreciating, moody, and bleak the life of storytelling can be. Yet, there you are, in your own world, exploring only what you have trekked before; but not just what you have experienced before, instead intertwined with a cacophony of innumerable other experiences and situations that all spiral down into you and your story. This is why every story, no matter if it’s been told time and again, will be told differently. You must wrangle it to perfection. You wrangle yourself.

It’s all enough to make a guy thirsty for a fine drink.

I found myself in the corner of the workshop’s room, inches away from the table and clutching my plastic cup firmly. I stood and pretended to listen once again to the basic formatting rules, of which I’ve known for years. It’s simple to come off as attentive and interested; you must simply keep eye contact and bob the head now and again. All very easy to do when sampling a wine, a delicious wine that’s as easy as Elvis’ “Sweet and Kind.”

Mouton Cadet Rothschild 2010, Bordueax – $10
– Inky like squid oil, red on the fringe of the cup.
– Smelled of game and leather and raspberry rolled together by soggy paper.
– Antiquitous with its plum and date flourish. Pepper in the back and leather in the finish, like liking a boot. Upper class boot, mind you. The wine gave a strong linger, not wanting you to forget its name before plummeting down.
Overall: Worthy. I expect this type of structure, finesse and saline quality from a twenty dollar Bordeaux, not a ten dollar bottle. Sturdy and true and aching to be drunk now.

After finishing this first glass, and another for good measure, I checked on the class. My head was nodding in beat with theirs, to my amazement. Wine, the great vibe synchronizer, I thought. That’s my cue for another bottle and another poor, minding the scowling look from one of the other writers. Jealous? Religious? Was it her wine and I was taking too much of it? The ceaseless wonders.

Jeriko 2011 Pinot Noir, Mendocino California – $18
– A frightening hue of amber and sick red with a mixture of water that’s been soaking in a piece of bark. This wine tends to be lighter, like a runny, true maple syrup.
– Smells of a fall romp. My excitement increased ten-fold. Game, Autumn mold and cranberry was also present.
– What a different pinot! There was a first initial scratch-ing of sweet that gently folded into a spicy mixture of holiday spices: cinnamon, peppermint and clove. I found myself transported to a young me sitting and watching the wood burning in the fireplace of my childhood home near christmas time. The sweetness soon escalated into a more serious, dilute sherry that turned out not at all cloying.
Overall: Worthy. I can hardly attest to this being called…a pinot of all things. But what other name shall it go by? “A Rose by any other name,” indeed. Suffice it to say, this is the Jerkio take on pinot and, hell, it is a lively number. It’s only weakness may lie in the sugar balance, a tad too sweet. I would not hesitate to pick up a bottle for myself.

Two young writers, whom I’ve noticed becoming suspiciously close to one and other over the last fortnight of workshops, stumbled in late. They looked like the climax of coitus personified. I didn’t mind the interruption, one of them had a bottle in hand! a large one! But I saw the label and sighed a little, even died a little. A Gallo Family wine. It was called “Sweet Red.” Cheeky. No list of grapes used. It may have killed me, but I was on a quest and I would try it at any rate. Intoxicated-evocation of the wine gods be damned!
Gallo Family Sweet Red, no  vintage – $12
– The wine was pink. PINK!
– It had a candy smell.
– It tasted like a lollipop laced with cocaine and melted, viscous 7-11 slurpee syrup.
Overall: I don’t even need to tell you. My, God.


Quote of the evening:

[preceding a very odd look]

“This wine is so good I could jump out the window, get up, and keep going.”

[The look]

“What? Doesn’t mean I’d do it. It’s just worthy of a good ole’ jump out the window. Surely you’ve had one? No? Really? Truly? You’re quite odd…”