Posts Tagged ‘old vine


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day thirty-nine – now with more cheese

Oh, this will be a fun post because it will have a wine tasting and a cheese tasting.

Cabot Seriously Sharp CheddarThe reason for the cheese tasting began with my girlfriend’s father saying Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese was the best cheddar cheese. You know, the one from Cabot, VT, with the plaid packaging. It’s actually Tartan packaging, which is probably the reason he likes it since he has Scottish blood in him.

Heluva Good! Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar CheeseI immediately thought Heluva Good!, from Sodus, NY, made a some good sharp cheddar cheese. So then the challenge was instigated in my mind. When I arrived back in my hometown, I went to Wegmans to get Heluva Good! Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese to enter into the contest.

Yancey's Fancy XXX Sharp Cheddar CheeseThen when I was at Wegmans I thought to broaden the contest to another fine northeast cheese maker, Yancey’s Fancy, from Corfu, NY. The cheese representing Yancey’s Fancy is the XXX Sharp Cheddar Cheese. This one is currently favored to win the contest.

Let’s do some odds for the contest.

Yancey’s Fancy is even money, 1:1.

Heluva Good! is 2:1.

Cabot is 3:2.

Though I think Cabot will have the best texture because it will have a creamy edge to it as well.

Those are my odds. My girlfriend thinks Yancey’s Fancy will win and Cabot and Heluva Good! will tie.

But before we get to that, we have a wine tasting to attend to. We need to do that before we get fromage interference.

Brazin Lodi Old Vine Zin 2007This wine is the Brazin Lodi Old Vine Zin 2007. (For more information about Lodi Old Vine Zinfandels from California, see day thirty-one’s post.) We also had this Zinfandel when visiting my girlfriend’s father and his wife. Everyone enjoyed this wine, but what do you expect from an old vine wine. I was a little skeptical of its texture, though, since it seemed slightly like an oil slick. Alas, I now have a reason to drink this wine. For verification reasons!

But first, a zinful lesson.

Research has now shown that the Zinfandel grape originated in Croatia, and then made famous in the early days of Italy and the Roman Empire. The original wine is now known as “primitivo”. The original Croatian name for this grape is Crljenak. Zinfandel first came to California in the early 1800s. (See


I held up this zin to the light and could see through it. This is thin for a zin.

Well, there’s definitely a peppery nose with a faint hint of plums and cherries. I also get leather. There’s also something like a roast on the nose. My girlfriend gets olives, but I get olive oil.

I still get the oily texture, but it’s less oily this time. There are plums and pepper on the palate. (Listen to that alliteration.)

The Zin finishes tart, but also with mint and a hint of pepper that lingers. (Listen to all those in sounds.)

This could be a real good wine if it had a bigger body. Because it’s so thin, the tart finish dominates and distracts. (Listen to all those tees, esses, and in sounds.)

So what it comes down to is price. For $13, I’m iffy. If it had that bigger body, then $13 would be a good price. For now, I might pay $9 to drink this wine again.

But you know what?! There’s cheese to come. I think that will help this wine a lot.

This cheese tasting will be blind. First my girlfriend will go, and then I will.

Here are my girlfriend’s tastings:

  • Helluva Good! – She says it’s medium. On a scale of 1-10 it is a 6.
  • Cabot – This one she likes better. It’s sharper. It is a 9.
  • Yancey’s Fancy – “This one is a little weird tasting.” It’s bitter. It’s a 3.

My tastings:

  • Helluva Good! – This one is okay, a bit dry, and it has a semi-sharp but creamy finish. I’ll give this a 7.
  • Cabot – This one is better. Sharper. I’ll give it an 8.5.
  • Yancey’s Fancy – This one is unique. It’s neither here nor there, but I like the bizarre and bitter finish. I’ll give it 6.

If you chose Cabot, you won some money. My predictions were backwards. Cabot wins. Helluva Good! comes in second. And Yancey’s Fancy comes in third, which is a surprise because they usually have wonderful cheeses.

These testing will need to be repeated again, you know, for verification reasons.

Oh, and now the wine has a mushroom taste to it.

Until next time – day forty.//


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day thirty-one

Right now I’m trying to design a cover for William Heyen’s next volume of journals, volume 2. He is so prolific. He writes more than Joyce Carol Oates or Stephen King. He’s got like 50 or more collections of poems, a whole bunch of other stuff that I’m not going to list, and his journal. 600+ pages per volume, and the first one was about a 9-point type size. He’s got about 20 of these. Anyway. I’m designing a possibly cool cover for volume 2, but I need a break. Actually, I need a drink.

Plungerhead Lodi Zinfandel Old Vine 2008So tonight it is Plungerhead Lodi Zinfandel Old Vine 2008. I’ve heard this is  jammy. I heard the vines are 100 years old. I’ve heard the grapes have been purposely stressed out, which is a good thing. It makes the grapes taste better. The vineyard also, as I understand it, uses a wild yeast. If this wild yeast behaves as it should and the wine maker knows what he or she is doing, then you will get very good results.

Let’s talk about yeast for a second. There are two yeast than can be used: wild and cultured. When a using a cultured yeast in the wine making process, the  cultured yeast ferments the grapes without much trouble – it begins fermenting right away and finishes fermenting. It works from beginning to end. Fermentation is what turns grape juice into wine. With a cultured yeast, the wine will be 12% to 13% alcohol. With the cultured yeast, the fermentation process is more controlled, and it won’t get sticky.  There will be little hassle with the cultured yeast.

With wild yeast, the fermentation process does not begin right away, as it does with cultured yeast. With wild yeast, the fermentation process begins whenever it finds sugar, and then the wild yeast might act as it should. If it does, it will turn grape juice into wine. However, sometimes wild yeast can end up being sticky. If it does, then there is a lot of work to save the wine. When the wild yeast does act correctly, then you will get a wine with more depth and dimensions that could be had with cultured yeast. Oh, and most important, more alcohol. Up to 16%. The Plungerhead Lodi Zinfandel Old Vine 2008 has 14.9% alcohol. So, yay!

What does Lodi mean? It’s a region.

Zinfandel is California’s favorite son. Unlike the classic French and Italian varietals, whose history in the New World is well charted, the origins and history of Zinfandel remain mysterious to this day. Research at the University of California, Davis, has uncovered clear genetic links to two European grapes: Italy’s ‘Primitivo’ and Croatia’s ‘Plavac Mali’; but wines produced from these grapes bear only a passing resemblance to California Zinfandel. It seems that Zinfandel, regardless of its origins, is truly a California phenomenon.

Unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and dozens of other European varietals which first entered California at the port of San Francisco in the mid-nineteenth century, Zinfandel appears to have come to us by way of a New York nursery in the early part of the nineteenth century. It’s virtues were immediately apparent: prolific producer of large clusters, up to three flowering cycles per season, and juice capable of reliably producing very good wine. It is no wonder that this varietal was esteemed above all others in California for red table wine in the nineteenth century. Zinfandel vineyards sprang up in Sonoma and Napa Counties, in the Sierra Foothills, in the Central Coast, throughout the Central Valley . . . and in Lodi.

There are more old, head pruned Zinfandel vineyards in Lodi today than in any other region of California. Since Lodi had been upstaged by other regions until late in the 1990s, few consumers had even heard of Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel. Worse, the distinguished fruit of most of these fine, old vineyards was sold to large wineries, to be blended with fruit of lesser quality.

Today, Lodi is undergoing a Renaissance. . . .




That seems a good description to me.


Is Plungerhead a superwine hero?

So we got stressed out old-vine grapes from Lodi, a fermentation process using wild yeast, and a dude with wine barrels for thighs and a plunger on his head. This has to be delicious and fun.

Alright, so lets get to it. Allons-y.

It’s bright and deep purple with lots of legs, because of the wild yeast yielding 14.9% alcohol! It has a thin meniscus, particularly thin for such a young wine.

It has a jammy and spicy nose. A big nose. Vanilla. Cherries, like cherries from a farmers market. Like those cherries that are closer to ruby in color than red, and with a seed in the middle.

Oh my, I love this texture. It is really jammy. Like raspberry jam, but without the seeds. Oh, it’s so fun to swirl in the mouth. There might be some plum in there, too.

I think there is bacon on the finish.

I can’t stop tasting this wine. And oddly, I think I can taste the terroir of Lodi. I have some Lodi Zinfandels before, and when I drink this, I recall them. It’s in the back of the mouth right before I swallow, a second or two after I swallow, and in the nose as I hold the wine in my mouth.

This wine is so fun to drink. There’s a juiciness to it like the juiciness from biting into a mushroom.

It’s delicious.

Oh wild yeast, how I love you.

I’m glad “Zork Dork is back!”

Get a bottle, and you will understand that reference.//


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day thirteen

Day thirteen of the tour and I’m reminded Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot Number 51of Dr. Who. There are supposed to be thirteen regenerations of Dr. Who. As we know, however, the tenth doctor, David Tenant, had two regenerations. He once regenerated into himself. And like Dr. Who, the Juiciest Wine Tour also had a repeat with the Chateau de Paraza Minervois 2007. So maybe this is only day twelve. Maybe it won’t be unlucky. Maybe Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot Number 51 will be good. Let’s find out. Allons-y.

The back label says it is “predominantly comprised of Zinfandel.”

The wine looks young. It’s got a big clear meniscus where the surface of the wine meets the side of the glass. The color looks zinny.

It’s got a slightly spicy nose. It smells earthy. When I smell it, I think of the paleolithic painters who painted the bisons and ibexes  in a cave in Altamira. (By the way, the plural is “ibexes” or “ibices.”)

Oh, man. This is jammy. Lots of fruits and berries that I didn’t expect. I think I got some green apples, too. Definitely some cherries, and in the background some juicy plums. I envision those same paleolithic painters dancing with the shadows cast from a fire made from animal fat. I imagine some type of singing, as well. I imagine the fire, shadows, and singing animate the images of the bisons, ibexes, reindeer, boars, and horses. I imagine an underground party. I want to give them this wine. I want to party with them. I want to dance. I want my head bobbing up and down while I strut in a circular path inside the cave. I want my footprints in the dirt to last as long as the images on the walls. I want to play tunes on a flute made from a woolly mammoth’s tusk. I want Dr. Who’s TARDIS. . . .

This will go good with pasta and the summer squash, green peppers, mushrooms, and chick peas sautéed in Felix Oliver’s 18-year-old special reserve balsamic vinegar and a Tuscan Garden (oregano, rosemary, sage, and garlic) extra virgin olive oil. . . . And it was. Yum.//

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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