Very rare is the work tasting where wine goes unfinished, let alone actively dumped out. Last week was, unfortunately, one of those times. We decided to give Think Red and Think White a try, as the recycled/recyclable aluminum bottles appealed to our more eco-friendly sensibilities. Both wines are non-vintage, making this an iffy proposition to begin with, but, hey, we’ll accept sacrifices in the name of Mother Earth, aye? The added benefits of using aluminum, namely the lighter weight and UV protection, make it a vessel worth testing.
Non-Vintage Think White
The wine, much to our dismay, did not appeal to our oenophiliac sensibilities. The white wine was more palatable than the red, but that’s not saying much. A light greenish-gold color, rather dull, but at least clear, it looked like just about any other indiscernible white blend. The aroma was a dull, rotten combination of citrus and floral scents, frankly unpleasant. As far as the flavor was concerned, a generic mix of citrus, tropical, and floral with a way-too-high acidity, contributing wincingly bitter overtones. At 12.5% alcohol, at least there wasn’t a lot of heat.
It was overall a lifeless, bland, and disappointing effort. 3/10
Wine: NV Think White
Producer: Adega Coop de Borba
Region: Alentejo, Portugal
Varietals: 40% Antão Vaz, 40% Roupeiro, and 20% Rabo de Ovelha
Residual Sugar: 1.50 g / l
Non-Vintage Think Red
My coworkers had rather unkind words for this wine: “pointless,” “just like water,” “it just disappears.” That’s about how I felt as well. It had an unhealthy orange-ish red color and was slightly cloudy. It was both smelly and weak, with almost no flavor except for a bitter, light red fruit characteristic that disappears as soon as it hits your tongue. No real structure to it, a weak body, no spine, and the shortest finish I think I’ve ever experienced.
It was a barely drinkable wine that might as well have been water. 1/10
Every Monday, I’m bringing you what I sipped on over the weekend as well as what I listened to to enhance the experience.
This weekend, I reconnected with my college days with the band Hidden in Plain View. Yes, I was one for the weepy pop-punk brand of emotional bloodletting, and in some cases, I still am. Not exactly a world-beater in talent or popularity, they’re still a lot of fun for singing along to at an unnecessarily high volume in the car, screechingly-nasal falsetto highly recommended.
I can only imagine how much fun it would be to be their drummer… nothing fancy in his work, nothing intricate, just a straight-up 4/4 hard rock with ample room for fills. He really does drive the band; as often as they cut to him on chorus transitions just in time for a drumstick flourish or crash cymbal roll, his energy necessarily has to be infectious.
The wine for the weekend was a stalwart classic, the California-style Chardonnay. From Concannon Winery’s Conservancy vineyards in the Livermore Valley, the 2008 Conservancy Chardonnay brings every classic characteristic of the California Chardonnay with an ecological benefit: the vineyards were planted to protect land from urban development, and the production of wine is just an added bonus.
The wine has all the traditional notes on its nose: palpable oak, a touch of toast, a hint of butter, a good dose of vanilla, and just a bit of apple and lemon untouched by oak. The flavors match, with just a hint of citrus and tropical fruits that manage to overcome a significant oaking in French and American oak barrels.
Though the wine underwent malolactic fermentation and oak aging, the mouthfeel is not as round as you would expect, as the acidity is a little off. The alcohol, however, provides ample structure at 13.5% without bringing the heat.
Overall, I’d say it’s a serviceable Chardonnay, subtle enough to avoid becoming one of the many over-oaked monstrosities that originate in California, and at $15, it’s not going to put a hurt on your wallet to give it a try. 5/10.
Welcome, potential participants, to the fact sheet for the Triangle Fantasy Wine League! After a long brainstorming session with Gwynne Murphy, we’ve come up with the framework for the league:
We’ll do a 14 week league, meeting every other week for 7 meetings total. There are two byes built into the schedule, very flexible, so you can miss two meetings and still fully qualify for the league prizes. You can even show up for the tasting without bringing a wine, so long as you meet your requirements in the other weeks.
Everyone who participates in the league will be a part of the tastings. Each week, each person who attends will bring a bottle of wine to be judged by the other participants.
We’ll be treating the wines as players on a football team, with different categories counting as the “stats” for the players.
We will be scoring the wines on a scale from 1 to 5 in the following categories:
Appearance: is the wine cloudy and dull or clear and vibrant?
Aroma: Is the nose pleasant, complex, and harmonious or off-putting, off-balance, or weak?
Body: Does the wine have texture and weight, or is it lifeless or watery?
Taste: Does the wine have a rich array of flavors, and is it balanced, or is it simplistic and unpleasant? Does the alcohol, tannins, acidity, or sugar stand out too much?
Finish: Does the flavor persist long after the wine hits your tongue, or does it vanish abruptly?
I will take the average of all scores for all categories and assign those to the wines. If you collect scores for more than 5 wines, your top 5 will be used. Each week, I’ll update the scores for each player as well as list each wine as reviewed by the participants. We might end up with a *very* lengthy consumer’s guide once it’s all said and done!
The winner will be the person whose top 5 averages combined are the highest. I’m working on a tiebreaker system, so a clear-cut winner should always be possible.
We will have 7 “positions,” based on real football positions, and each one will get its own tasting day. It’s in your best interest to submit a wine that fits the criteria for the week, otherwise it might clash with the other wines and be detrimentally scored. You only have to have 5 positions filled to qualify for the prize. Here are the positions:
Quarterback: The face of the franchise. The most skilled player on the field. Many different styles and skill sets, but a complexity unmatched by anyone else on the field. Big reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Zinfandel varietal wines or GSM, Bordeaux, or Cote-Rotie blends lead the league in accolades, fame, and stat accumulation. Fail to draft a good quarterback, and your offense is stagnant.
Running Back: Stalwart players that, even if they don’t reach the same level of impact or fame as the quarterback, still can serve the role as the centerpiece of an offense. Noble reds Pinot Noir and Merlot are exemplary of this position, though up-and-coming varietals like Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Tempranillo, and Sangiovese or blends like Rioja and Burgundy are also worthy draft choices here.
Wide Receiver: A wide variety of styles and physiques. Your wide receiver can be a gangly, speedy down-field threat or a stocky, tank-like possession option. Noble whites like Chardonnay and Riesling or sleeper choices Chenin Blanc, Torrontes, and Pinot Grigio offer the versatility of minerality, floral character, and many different kinds of fruits that might help you win big.
Tight End: A hybrid of bruising, blocking strength and nimble pass-catching ability. These white wines are a bit more aggressive than the wide receiver, built to take on more punishing foods. Bigger, more acidic whites like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, and Picpoul de Pinet are a shock for the palate.
Defensive Back: Built like receivers with the mentality of a linebacker, the Rosé takes the best of both worlds. Any red that’s worth its salt, when prepared with minimal skin contact, creates a unique experience with just a bit more vigor than your standard white wine.
Defensive End: No-nonsense, bruising, in-your-face, dessert wines pack a lot of flavor and character into a compact frame. Moscato, ice wine, Tokaji, Port, and off-dry and late-harvest wines all do one job and do it well.
Linebacker: The ultimate combination of strength and speed, they bring a variety of talents with flash and stopping power. Sparkling wines, Champagne, Cava, Spumante, Asti, Vinho Verde, etc, will burst into the play with vigor.
The prize pool is simple: everyone kicks in a bottle of wine. Depending on how many participate, either the winner takes all, or we’ll split the award among first, second, and possibly third place. This decision will be made once the league is together.
Before I can set the schedule, I need to find out when people are available. Please fill out the following poll and let me know which days you are available. I’ll leave the poll open for a week, with the intent to start the league before the end of November. The sooner I get an idea of everyone’s availability, the sooner I can get this league off the ground.
Yeah, if you want to claim your clever fantasy team name, do so in the comments below. If you’ve never named a fantasy team before, or you need some inspiration, these guys have a few suggestions for you. At the very least, let me know if you’re interested, so I can start planning. Questions? Suggestions? Comment, message me, email me… you know how to find me.
Thanks for your interest, guys! Let’s start a new craze!