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Wine Review: Morandé Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2005 ($22)

Friday, April 24, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

Morandé Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2005 ($22)

Here’s Lookin’ at You, Kid

This Chardonnay from Chile’s Casablanca Valley is intoxicating at first sight

Along the remote northern edge of the Chilean coast, the Casablanca Valley boasts ideal growing conditions for white wines, especially Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. With its cool climate and wide temperature variation between day and night, the region is often compared to California’s Sonoma Valley.

Leading the charge among a host of new producers in the area, the Morandé winery was established in 1996 by Pablo Morandé, who had actually planted the first wines in the region back in 1982. Since then, Morandé’s daughter Macarena has danced her way into the chief winemaking position, and is responsible for crafting the winery’s reserve wines. Not afraid the take chances, Macarena Morandé has been experimenting with blending batches of cryogenically frozen grapes into the mix, presumably in an effort to enhance the complexity and depth of flavor.

This week’s featured wine, the Morandé Gran Reserva Chardonnay ($22 – less in some U.S. states), has an intense golden hue. It almost looks like a dessert wine, which begins to make sense when you consider that about a quarter of the grapes used to make the wine were cryogenically frozen – simulating the icewine-making process. On the nose, aromas of tropical fruit mingle with honey and vanilla, and despite its rich, golden color, there is only a touch of sweetness on the palette, which is easily balanced out by a flinty acidity and citrus notes. The Morandé is a very interesting wine – definitely not your average Sonoma Chard – and worth a try to experience a taste of one of Chile’s most sought-after wine-growing regions. A stylish bottle rounds out the effort.

Quaffability Rating: 89





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A Hedonistic, Biodynamic Wine

Friday, April 17, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

The Hedonist Shiraz 2005 McLaren Vale ($20)


With a name like The Hedonist, you’d expect this Aussie Shiraz to blow your socks off with tannic power, but instead the wine comes off as sophisticated and well balanced. This is not say there’s nothing hedonistic about it --- its aromas are intoxicating and every sip (or gulp) is pure pleasure.


The Hedonist is also a biodynamic wine. Biodynamic agriculture is a form of organic farming that incorporates a spiritual aspect of the interrelationship of plants, soil and animals. This system dates back to Silesia, Germany in 1924, when farmers began noticing degradation of the soil and crops as a result of chemical fertilizers. The concept arrived in Australia only a few years later.

According to Fork & Bottle, there are currently at least 475 biodynamic wine producers in the world. Proponents say the method of winemaking, which often involves using natural manure, stuffing it into cow horns and burying it in the ground, generates better-tasting wines with clearer flavors and aromas, as well as healthier vineyards. Skeptics deride the mysticism that’s wrapped up in this type of farming, arguing that regular organic practices would have the same effect on the vines and wines.


Whether it’s the result of biodynamic spiritualism or just plain old attention to detail, The Hedonist is certainly worth its $20 price tag – no skepticism is required to enjoy this bottle.


Quaffability Rating: 91








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Vaynerchuk Signs Book Deal

Thursday, April 2, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, Wine Library TV's Gary Vaynerchuk has signed a seven-figure deal with HarperStudio to write 10 books, the first of which will be published in September under the title, Crush It! Turn Your Passion into Profits in a Digital World. This is great news for "Vayniacs" but I hope at least one of those 10 books is focused on the wine tasting itself rather than the Twitter enthusiast's business success tips.





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About

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.