Archive for June, 2010


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day twenty-six

Egervin Egri Bikavér Bulls Blood 2005

The wine of strength and virility.

I got this bottle of Egervin Egri Bikavér 2005 strictly for the label. The red label with BULLS BLOOD and the picture of a bull weren’t the only selling point. It’s from Hungary. After drinking this Bull’s Blood, I’d better be stronger and more virile. I’m hoping it acts on me like spinach acts on Popeye.

“Egri Biakvér” translates into “Eger Bull’s Blood.” The translation makes me appreciate the missing apostrophe. It’s another selling point.

Eger is the name of the hills in Hungary from where this wine is born.  It’s “origin goes back to the seventeenth century,” so says the back label, which also says “To appreciate EGRI BIAKÉR at its best, open at least one hour before drinking and serve at room temperature.” Alright. I’ll be back in an hour. I know exactly what to expect, and I can barely wait.

In my waiting, I translated (used the Google translator) “védett eredetũ száraz, vörös bor controlled appellation of origin” and got this “of protected dry red wine with controlled appellation of origin.”  That’s nothing special, but I’ve got an hour to kill.

This is what I expect. I expect to taste Hungary in all its harshness. That’s what is known as terroir, pronounced te wah. (Listen to i here: (Here’s a good piece about terroir:

Gypsy ViolinistI also expect to think of gypsies. I like gypsies. They seem to be the embodiment of living, at least to me.

Well, it’s been over an hour-and-a-half, so menjünk.

Bull’s Blood has a dark and musky nose.  It smells like the other side of the forest where the mushrooms grow and the trees decay. It’s much lighter in body than I thought, and it tastes just like I thought. It’s like a Baco Noir, which some people like, but, not to me. I expected this, and it was fun. I feel virile and strong.

Unfortunately, I won’t be finishing this, which is ok. I think it will be a good wine for some. //


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day twenty-five

First off, I’m totally on board with Ghana and Spain. I’d be on board with Chile but for Brasil – the great jazz players of futbol.

Second, I’m gonna try a new grape again. I hope it goes better then the Monastrell. This grape is Mencia. This is an old grape that has been forgotten about, but it’s gaining popularity. It should be gentle, which I’m hoping for this Sunday evening, especially since I’ll be making this meal: Squash Ribbon Salad with Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese. (By the way, is an awesome recipe site. You must visit. )

Today’s wine is El Castro de Valtuille Joven Mencia 2007. It arrives from the Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) of Bierzo, which is northwest Spain.


This one has a tall, wide meniscus holding a royal ruby color that releases a nose of dark berries, some currants, a hint of a vanilla orange cream soda?, and one unripened plum. It smells thick and layered.

This isn’t thick, it’s bright with long dry finish, a finish reminiscent of a Cabernet Franc, but more bearable.

The Green Knight

The Green Knight

Up front it’s like a thin Merlot or a thick Oregon Pinot Noir with no pepper. It’s very dark berried and leathery. This will go good with the squash and some pepper. I think this one of those wines that will go real good with vegetables. No wonder I keep thinking of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, especially The Green Knight. W. S. Merwin has the best translation.

It gets better and better the more it receives the air, and the more it receives the air, the less the Cabernet Franc-y finish. It’s actually getting more juicy and less dry, too.

Give this an hour-and-a-half to two hours to open, and you’ll understand why the Wine Advocate gave it 90 points.//


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day twenty-four

This will be a quick. I’ve been busy all day. I just got back from a picnic with some good people, and soon I’ll be going to the CnS, the local bar, to hang out with some other good people. Hm. I had a beer at the picnic, now I’m having wine, soon I’ll be drinking beer, again, and inevitably, as always happens at the CnS, I’ll be doing shots. Yes, today I’ll be drinking for the cycle!

Vinos Sin-Ley M5 Monastrell 2006To get the cycle going, I’ll be drinking Vinos Sin-Ley M5 Monastrell 2006. “Vinos Sin Ley” translates into  “wine without laws. So it’s a rebel. Looking at that lime green label, how can I think otherwise.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a Monastrell, but it’s from Spain, so that’s a good thing. And the Wine Advocate gave it 90 points, so that should be a good thing, too.

Deep Purple "Smoke on the Water"The back label says it’s deep purple, but I don’t see any smoke on the wine. (Sorry. Sigh.)

Anyway, it’s got a huge nose. I can help but to smell it, and it’s about 1.5 feet away. From this distance I smell a wild-flower perfume, berries, camp fire smoke, and something sweet, like popsicles? Closer up there is leather, and my girlfriend gets “gasoline but in a good way.” But that gasoline could be all the alcohol in it, which is perhaps why it seems like a perfume and drifts so far. It definitely smells pleasant and I can’t wait to get it in me.

Well, it’s got an interesting texture. It’s very thick. And it has horrible a finish like a bad rhubarb pie with gasoline and grape leaves. It’s like a very bitter dolmades. The finish tastes like America’s loss today. I should know better. I don’t like Robert Parker’s tastes. I rarely agree with him. He like the darkest, earthy wines.

This wine is good on the nose in the mouth, but it disappoints on the finish. Maybe this is what it should taste like?

George ClintonI just did some research. Monastrell is Spanish for Mouvedre, which I said before taste like it comes from Funky Town.

But this, this finish is just funk, and not like James Brown or George Clint, but sad and yucky.

It just doesn’t suit my palate.//


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day twenty-three

U. S. vs Ghana

U. S. vs Ghana ("Yes you can" vs "Yes you Gyan")

U. S. won today and advances. Ghana won and advances. (I knew they were ghanna.) And on Saturday they meet. Yes you Gyan, but not this Saturday Ghana. Despite all that, I feel blasé. To fix that, I’m gonna get my groove on. I’m gonna/ghanna get my Richard “Groove” Holmes on. It’s time for “Groovin’ For Mr. G”.

Root:1 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008That got me right. Now, I can continue with mini Chilean Wine tour. This is the last day of it, so I’m gonna go out with one of my favorite everyday wines: Root:1 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. It’s from Colchagua Valley, Chile. “Chile. The original ungrafted. Varietal. Rootstock.”

Here’s the story from the front of the bottle:

Chile is a true rarity in the wine world. Unique geographic & climatic forces have allowed it to remain one of very few grape growing regions in the world where the original European rootstocks, survive, unaffected by phylloxera – the disease that forced grape growers worldwide to graft vines onto generic rootstocks. Chile’s isolation, protected by the mighty Andes to the east and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean to the West, ensures that grape vines can remain on the original rootstock, in the purest form. These same geographic characteristics provide Chile’s fertile central region with optimal climate & soil conditions to produce consistent and outstanding grapes each year. This Root: 1 Cabernet Sauvignon is crafted exclusively from grapes grown on the original, ungrafted root systems tended by our Master Winemakers. This gives the wine its pure, rich fruit flavors & aromas.

This seems to be turning into an advertisement, and maybe it should. This wine receives a dedication in my latest collection of poems.

Alright. Let’s get to the wine. Vamos.

A lovely nose of cherries, chocolate, vanilla, and maybe some caramel. Hm. This one is not as good as previous years. It’s a bit tart, especially on the finish. It’s a bit thin. It still has the cherries and chocolate. But, oh, the 2008 is a disappointment. The 2007 was wonderful. Arg. Arg is how I felt through the whole United States game today until they scoredin injury time. They dominated, but they couldn’t score, except for the phantom offsides, and then the glorious goal in extra time.

Arg. That’s how I feel about this 2008. It’s a phantom of the 2007. Ohhhh, the 2007 is splendid, but the 2008, eh, not so much. Now, I’m sad again. Back to Richard “Groove” Holmes.



in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day twenty-two

Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) Los Vascos Reserve 2006Day twenty-two of the Juiciest Wine tour and Chile defeated Switzerland 1-0. Next, Chile plays its twin country separated by mountains and an Ocean – Spain. A tie with them gets them into the next round. Even with a loss, they’ll probably get in. Vamos Chile! And vamos the next wine in the mini Chilean Wine tour – Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) Los Vascos Reserve 2006.

You’ll notice the “(Lafite)” in the name. Here’s a little history. (I know, geography and history all in one mini Chilean wine tour. What’s up with that?) In 1855, Château Lafite was classified a first-growth wine. On August 8, 1868, Baron James de Rothschild purchased Château Lafite, which was under public sale as part of the Ignace-Joseph Vanlerberghe succession. Just three months after the purchase, Baron James passed away, and Lafite became the joint property of his three sons: Alphonse, Gustave, and Edmond. The estate then included 74 hectares of vineyards. It is now 500 hectares.

So what does that mean? Nothing if the wine doesn’t taste good. So let’s get to some tasting.

This is a Bordeaux, but I don’t know what is in the blend, but I do know it’s got some crazy legs like the other Chilean wines I’ve had on this tour. Because of the legs and because it’s a Bordeaux, it’s got some Cabernet Sauvignon.

You know what I want to taste in this wine? A winner. A decisive winner. I want to feel like a winner. I haven’t won anything in a long time, so I want to feel that. I want to feel the same as today’s winning Chilean futbol team.

Vamos Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) Los Vascos Reserve 2006.

I can smell Cabernet Franc in there for sure and some earthiness. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some Syrah in there, too. There are some raspberries, too. And of course, there is Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s got that peppery nose to it, as well, and it’s got a big body. I’m thinking winning rugby team, now.

Oh my. It’s big and dry with dark chocolate, vanilla, and dried red roses. It tastes like how the Chilean futbol team plays but more aggressive. Soccer meets rugby in this wine.

A few sips later and an hour of air . . .

It has loosened up and lightened up. It’s immensely better.

And in the nose some mushrooms have popped up out of nowhere, as only mushrooms do.

The Los Vascos is now kinda creamy in the front of the mouth, and it’s smooth, and it actually has a pretty finish despite it’s robustness. It’s a big fat opera singer with a pretty, tenor voice. And you know what? After another glass of this, I’m sure I’ll feel like a winner.//


Sean Patrick Hill’s The Imagined Field

I get very excited when a lesser known but deserving poet who has appeared in the pages of Redactions releases a new collection of poems.  In this case, it’s Sean Patrick Hill. Redactions published his poem, “Sometimes I See My Country” in issue 11, and then we nominated it for the Pushcart Prize. (You can read the poem here:

Sean Patrick Hill – The Imagined FieldAfter my first read through of Hill’s first collection of poems, The Imagined Field (Paper Kite Press, 2010), I felt as if I had read all these poems before. The poems seem so familiar. The language seems familiar. The tone of the poems is receptive and meditative.

It’s when I finish one of Hill’s poems that I feel the sense of completion and familiarity. In fact, it’s in the last line and for a moment after that when I feel I belong in these poems, and that’s partly what I mean by a receptive tone. The poem receives the reader. But the tone is also receptive of the nature and world around it. So actually the tone is receptive, meditative, and intimate. The poems have the tone of a young, growing mountain capped in snow. Because of all that, I had to read the book again.

On one level, the content of The Imagined Field is of poems noticing, or as Hill says, “love is what love notices.” Replace “love” with “poem” and you’ll understand. And behind most of these poems is the faint echo of some recognizable but unidentifiable melody. It’s like a back melody that responds to the poem and gives the poem’s music more depth. At times, I also hear a faint chorus.

Oh, that’s all abstract. Let’s talk about particulars.

The Imagined Field is Hill’s memories and reflections of his life in Upstate, NY, and the Pacific Northwest. In one poem, “The pond that wouldn’t freeze in winter,” the memories merge from a collection of remembered fragments from both places. At first I wondered what Hill was up to because this poem was so different from the others, which are slow, cohesive, and forward moving. But eventually through the slow accretion of dark and sobering disparate memory-moments, the poem yielded a narrative – a narrative of an inner Hill and a repressed emotional side of Hill. I get a feel for this in the poem “Rearview Mirror” when he says, “there is the smallest piece of your life seen / Reflected in an abandoned wreck on the reservation.” The reservation has dual purpose. One, it is an initial presentation of an image-situation that will appear with some importance later in the book. Two, it has set up the word “patience” and the condition for it at the end of the poem:

Patience is the longest shadow on the face of the earth. And yours.
Only yours never lets on that you struggle – why would it?
Rain finds its way through the holes: it’s cold. It lies.

Where you is himself. And earlier in that poem, he references hell, but I don’t catch the significance of that until sixteen poems later in “Glass”:

[…] A casket cut from glass, I am pulled from an oven.
I crack in the cold bath.

Waking in a bed of hot coals, pockets of dust,
I imagine building a temple in my chest,

My heart growing so large it can touch
All sides of the coffin at once.

Before I go any further, how do you not love that last image? It’s overwhelming. It’s beautiful. It describes the feel of this book perfectly. And it also makes me think, “What a tortured soul he is.” He’s suffering like Saint Augustine or Gerard Manley Hopkins. All the beauty in this book comes from that suffering, meditations upon it, and the underlying melody and chorus, which I now assume are his unconscious angels singing in the back ground like the car radio sings to him in many of these poems. And all of this leads to the one sentence that he has been trying to write his whole life:

Like a river stone
in the current, I turn over once in my bed
and come to rest.

And even those lines had some previous work and set up, such as in “Advice the Basque in Eastern Oregon Might Give.” It’s in this poem where the above mentioned tones meet a tone of ancient wisdom, which also occasionally appears in these poems. But here is his first go at writing his last sentence and an ars poetica:

The way the river molds stone
Like pearls:
That is how to make poems.
Still, some rock won’t weather.

Many of these poems in this collection are weathered into those poetic pearls, and this book will stand up to the weather of time. I hope The Imagined Field and Sean Patrick Hill both find a large audience because both are deserving.//


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day twenty-one

Santa Ema Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2006Day twenty-one of the Juiciest Wine tour and day two one the mini Chilean Wine tour is brought to you by Santa Ema Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2006. I’ve had the other Santa Ema Cabernet Sauvingon when Mahan’s was selling it for $4. At that price it was excellent. Then it went up to $5, and it was still good. Then it went up to $6, and then it was ok. Same wine, but the taste didn’t match its price. Still, it’s a pretty good wine. This one is different. It’s the Reserve, so it should be better.

Santa Ema is in Maipo Valley, which is in Valle Central. See day twenty‘s map of Chile.

The Santa Ema Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2006 has long-lasting legs like the Armador Cabernet Sauvignon 2007. It also has a peppery and dark berry nose with a hint of honey-dew mellon. It’s chewy and leathery especially on the finish. There’s some currant, dark currant, especially up front and around the gums. It finishes with pepper and dark berries. This is a solid cab with a big body. It’s cohesive. The tastes are intertwined with each other and are hard to separate – like my girlfriend and me.//

The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

The Cave

Poems for an Empty Church

Poems for an Empty Church

The Oldest Stone in the World

The Oldest Stone in the Wolrd

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Pre-Dew Poems

Pre-Dew Poems

Negative Time

Negative Time

After Malagueña

After Malagueña

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June 2010


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