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Wine Review: Kenwood Pinot Noir 2006

Thursday, October 30, 2008 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

Wine Review: Kenwood Pinot Noir 2006 - $21

It’s back. The Kenwood Pinot Noir from California’s Russian River Valley is one of my favorites, but I wasn’t able to find it the past couple of years. On Sunday, I picked up a bottle of the 2006 and popped it open that night. I tried this wine for a first time about four years ago at a company party and was immediately stricken by its harmony of flavor. The 2006 lives up to previous editions, with a tinge of oak melding perfectly with well-structured dark-cherry flavors. If you can find it, grab a case. It’s the kind of wine you can give as a gift and be reasonably sure the recipient will love it.

Quaffability Rating: 91


The Vino Chapeau

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

Because I’m fascinated by simple gadgets, I’m intrigued by a little product that's slated for release in mid-November called the Vino Chapeau. Here's what they say about it on their site:

Vino Chapeau discs are cling-enabled wineglass covers that double the
concentration of wine aromas. With their unique ability to cling to the rim of
your wineglass, Vino Chapeau discs remain secure as you swirl your wine. Made
from a high-grade polymer plastic, Vino Chapeau discs are completely reusable.
Thin and lightweight, they can be easily tucked into your purse or pocket.
I remember being amazed the first time I properly swirled a wine around in the glass and took a sniff. It makes a huge difference in the aromas that jump up into your nostrils. If this disc can amplify that effect, I’d give it try. An early report from Tom Wark’s Fermentation blog indicates that the hat does, in fact, do the trick.

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Drinking and Blogging

Friday, October 24, 2008 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

The subject of wine lends itself perfectly to blogging. OpenWine Consortium reports that four years ago there were fewer than 50 wine bloggers; today there are at least 500.

This weekend, more than 150 wine bloggers are meeting in Sonoma County for the first-ever North American Wine Bloggers Conference, put together by OpenWine Consortium and Zephyr Wine Adventures. I was hoping to attend this event, but couldn’t pull things together in time, so instead I’ll be covering some of the festivities remotely. The fact that the wine industry is wooing bloggers shows how influential they’ve become.

I’ve been meaning to link up a “Sipping and Surfing” list of some of my favorite wine blogs. Until I get them posted permanently on my main page, here’s a small taste:

Gary Vaynerchuk’s Thunder Show:
A highly entertaining and informative video blog from Wine Library TV. Vaynerchuk posts a video daily, and has a huge following of “Vayniacs.” My only complaint was that the episodes were too long, but they now offer a condensed version.

A hugely popular wine blog by San Francisco technology consultant Alder Yarrow.

Dr. Vino:
With a doctorate on the politics and economies of the wine industries in the U.S. and France, blogger Tyler Coleman compellingly dissects the business of wine.

The Pour:
Eric Asimov’s New York Times wine blog marries good writing with fine wine.


Traveling with Wine – the BottleWise Solution

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

Now that liquids are prohibited in carry-ons, bringing a bottle or two back from a trip is risky business. My wife and I visited beautiful Victoria, British Columbia last week to run the marathon. While we were there, we tasted some fantastic B.C. wines from the Okanagan Valley on Vancouver Island.

I bought a bottle to take back for my parents, and was forced to pack it into my checked suitcase by rolling it up in some clothes. When I picked up my bag from the luggage carousel in Toronto, I half expected to see a red stain in the bottom and find a shattered bottle of Merlot mixed in with my clothing. I breathed a sign of relief when I saw that it survived the trip intact.

To take the worry out of checking wine in your luggage, the ingenious people at BottleWise have launched a line of wine travel bags. Their bags are specifically designed to keep a bottle of wine safe in checked-in luggage, using padded, liquid-tight packs. They also recently introduced a new version called the BottleWise Duo that holds two bottles, plus two very stylish limited edition two-bottle bags, the $65 Duo TX, made of Denier Cordura with accented trim, and the $125 fine-grained leather Duo LX. Both would make a perfect holiday gift for the wine-drinking traveler.

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Real Estate Developments Pouring Out Wine Luxuries

Thursday, October 16, 2008 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

A quick peruse of the ads in Wine Spectator shows that wine enthusiasts tend sit in a comfortable salary bracket. Now some upscale real estate developers are wooing the ever-growing wine crowd with new wine-related amenities and storage facilities. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. If you’re a well-off wine lover living in a condo, why not have the developer help you out with some exclusive wine deals?

In Manhattan's Flatiron District, the Alma Lofts development just announced a partnership with James Beard award-winning sommelier Jean Luc Le Du titled, “Le Due’s Wines pour Alma.” Residents at Alma will enjoy:

  • Exclusive sommelier services to consult on wine pairings and suggest new, popular and hard-to-find wines
  • A seasonal case of select wines delivered to each of the 13 homes
  • And “The Alma 100,” a private collection of hand-picked wines for Alma

Not bad. It’s a shame the units are out of my price range at $6-10 million.

Other Manhattan developments are also pouring out the wine incentives. Residents of the Setai New York can buy storage space in a wine cellar near the exclusive Setai Club restaurant, and bottles can be delivered from the cellar to residents’ doors. They also offer state-of-the-art, in-home wine cooling systems.

At 15 Central Park West, they have 30 private climate-controlled wine rooms for up to 5,000 bottles, and a shared tasting room large enough for eight guests. They also have a wine tasting room over at 200 West End Avenue, offering regular wine-tasting events through a partnership with Wine Enthusiast Magazine. And for those who don’t have time to pick and choose their own bottles, SoHo Mews will offer the services of Centovini Restaurant’s sommelier to keep residents’ homes stocked with selections from the restaurant’s “library” of 100-plus Italian wines.

If these options are out of your budget, here are tips for storing wine if you live in a condo. Or, by contrast, if you’re looking to move into a house complete a stocked wine cellar, click here.

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Pairing Wine with Music

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

Pairing Wine with Music

In a follow-up to last year’s clever marketing campaign, California’s Wente Vinyards has launched a wine and music pairing for its latest vintage. Bottles of Wente wines will come with a list of wine-and-song pairings, and include an access code to download the featured songs for free.

As an ode to the Wente campaign, here is my general guide to wine-music matchups:

Chardonnay (unoaked) – Classical
Chardonnay (oaked) – Country
Sauvignon Blanc – Top 40
Pinot Gris – Adult Contemporary
Riesling – Euro Techno-Trance
White Zinfandel – Céline Dion (that’s right - she gets her own genre)
Cabernet – Classic Rock
Merlot – Reggae
Zinfandel – Blues or Hip-Hop
Pinot Noir – Jazz Fusion
Syrah – Gangsta Rap
Petit Syrah – Death Metal

There you go. So grab a bottle of California Petit Syrah, dust off your old Slayer CDs and taste the music. All joking aside, I do like the idea of pairing wine and music. Wine drinking involves all senses except hearing, so why not bring some music into your wine-tasting experience?

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Wine Review: Villa Santera Primitivo di Manduria 2006

Friday, October 3, 2008 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

Wine Review: Villa Santera Primitivo di Manduria 2006 ($18)

You may not have tried a Primitivo di Manduria before, but chances are you’ve tasted something very similar. That’s because the Primitivo grape, grown primarily in the southern Italian province of Puglia, is related to red Zinfandel. Despite its ancient-sounding name, Primitivo is relatively new to the region. The term Primitivo relates to the fact that the grape is known for ripening early – it’s not a “primitive” grape.

Interestingly, both Primitivo and Zinfandel appear to share a common origin in an almost-extinct, impossible-to-pronounce (for me, anyway) Croatian grape called Crljenak Kaštelanski. Researchers say this grape may have been introduced to Puglia in the late 1600s by some Dalmatian people who migrated to Italy. The question of how Zinfandel ended up in America remains a mystery.

This week’s wine pick is the Villa Santera Primitivo di Manduria 2006 ($18). There was definitely a Zinfandel quality about it, but it also had some other interesting things going on. On the nose, chocolate truffles mingled with strawberries and damp earth. The palette surprised me because it was so different from the aroma. I tasted black pepper, rosemary, bitter chocolate, fig and dark fruit. It was a little rough around the edges, but still a great value. I guess we can thank the Dalmatians for this one.

Quaffability Rating: 87

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Trend Watch: Corporate Team-building with Wine

Wednesday, October 1, 2008 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

Wine tasting ranks among the best corporate team-building events (no bias here). Our Captivate office in Toronto recently took a tour of some Niagara wineries. We learned a lot about the winemaking process at Lailey Vinyard, one of the smaller wineries near Niagara-on-the-Lake. Our tour was fairly unstructured, but some other wineries are doing some interesting things to attract corporate groups.

The Viansa Winery in Sonoma Valley not far from San Francisco (see photo above) has an interesting team-building program that involves corporate teams creating their own wine. For a minimum group of 12 or more (at $65 per guest) Viansa lets groups experience the creation of a new wine with their own custom-designed wine label. The goal of each team is to prepare the perfect blend using three component wines. After creating three trial blends, the team selects their "Master Blend." The wine, label and team spirit are then judged with prizes awarded to the winner in each category. Sounds like fun, so it’s no surprise that recent clients at Viansa include Google, Bank of America and Mercedes Benz.

If you work near a wine region and are organizing a corporate team event, find out what the local wineries have to offer. The combination of tasting wine, learning about winemaking and enjoying the vineyard setting will be sure to boost company morale in these shaky economic times.

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Michal Kapral has been enjoying wine at home since way before he was of legal age. The editor-in-chief of Canadian Running magazine runs marathons to burn off all the calories he consumes on wine and cheese. Kapral spent some time living in Italy as a teenager, solidifying his appreciation for all things wine-related. In his days as a journalism student, he was likely one of the youngest – and poorest – subscribers to Wine Spectator magazine. In 1999, Kapral turned down a job at a winery to work at Captivate, where he spent 11 years as a news editor.


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The Quaffer

Highlighting the best new wines from around the world, in the price range of $10-40, Michal "The Quaffer" Kapral reminds viewers some of the finer things in life are most definitely within their reach. This feature focuses on North American wines and includes reviews, food pairings and news from the world of wine.