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Craig Camp

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Craig Camp

  1. Who said that? What side of the bed did you get up on? Talk about the master of sweeping generalizations! Who said that. There is plenty of bad American Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, there is also a lot of great American Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I'm afraid you're the one with audacity. Big and oaky like Corton? You've got to drink more Burgundy sir. Classic Corton blanc is hard as nails. It has no more oak than Meursault or the Montrachet communes. That's just plain wrong. Umm.... Shopping for wines from places like Jura, Savoie, Gascony and Southwest France was the point of the article. Yes, yes, I see you deeply understand all the nuances of Burgundy. By the way, who is "they"? That explains a lot. All of us Oregonians are finally glad to find someone who includes 2003 in our line-up of great vintages! It's also great to know that vintage doesn't matter here in Oregon! I'll give Ken, Tony and Grace and Ken a call tomorrow. They'll be thrilled!
  2. A few more comments about Castle Rock Pinot Noir. When looking for values in American wine it is often best to stay away from varietals that are hard and expensive to grow. That = pinot noir. If you want deals buy less popular varieties. For example, when looking at a $10 bottle of sauvignon blanc and a $10 bottle of chardonnay, almost always the sauvignon blanc will be the better deal. That's because it costs less to buy sauvignon blanc (buying grapes or wine is how almost all low-end American wineries work) so for your 10 bucks you are either getting the left overs of chardonnay or some pretty decent sauvignon blanc. This rule also works at the higher end of the price spectrum. A $30 sauvignon is probably at the top of its class, while a $30 chardonnay can be pretty ho-hum stuff. When it comes to new world deals, pinot noir is the worst. The grapes are expensive and hard to grow and anything worth anything goes into higher priced bottles. You can bet that almost every low end pinot has the maximum allowed of something else blend in to make it both cheaper and bigger. Spend your money elsewhere. The same goes for Burgundy by the way. Expect $16+ for any pinot noir with a hint of character. Other than pinot, I'm sure Castle Rock sells some very nice wines for everyday drinking.
  3. 1. Concerning the Honig, that's just a difference of opinion - I'm not crazy for the cabernet. but it's a decent wine. 2. As far as I know, I'm a silly American too. At least that what my parents told me. As far as attacking American wine, I'm the only one so far that's supplied a list of favorites. I'll add to that shortly. Why is anyone who prefers European wine to American wine a snob? 3. The Castle Rock Pinot Noir is not to my taste and a bad deal even at 10 bucks - frankly even at 5 bucks.
  4. Here are some good values in American wine: Saintsbury Garnet Pinot Noir $16 Iron Horse Sangiovese Rose $18 Edmunds St. John Gamay $18 Benton Lane Pinot Gris $14 (Oregon) Wine by Joe Pinot Noir $16 (Oregon) Argyle Brut $19 (Oregon) Foxen Chenin Blanc $18 Alma Rosa Pinot Gris $18 Willakenzie Vineyards Pinot Blanc $19 (Oregon) Elk Cove Pinot Gris $18 (Oregon) Honig Sauvignon Blanc $15 Seghesio Zinfandel $19 Jade Mountain La Provencal $19
  5. I go to the store and buy them and and I enjoy them with my dinner in the evening. I try to avoid lining up wines and tasting them as much as possible. I buy most of my wines at: Liner and Elsen, Portland; E and R Wines, Portland, New Seasons (grocery store) Portland area, Pastaworks (grocery store) Portland area. I also have Doug Salthouse, owner of SmartBuy wines in New Jersey select a case of his favorites to send me once a month. He has a great palate and sends me some really interesting wines. Because I see the new world wine industry being dominated by corporate winemaking and unlike Europe there is little hope for small artisan producers unless they are making expensive wines from famous varietals and get big points from some critic. Yes, things are changing - for the worse. Sure you see more varietal labeling coming from France, they have to eat too and they are getting a beating from the Yellow Tails of the world because most buyers are too lazy or too greedy (payola talks). Screw caps are rapidly being adopted by quality producers the world over. European winemakers are just as technically sophisticated as their new world counterparts, but they have more a sense of their own terroir and history. I can't believe I forgot to mention that! Thanks for reminding me! Yes there is vintage variation in many of these regions and this is one of the big things that makes them more exciting to drink. Unlike industrial recipe wines that go from vintage to vintage with a palate numbing seamlessness, wines that show terroir and individual character actually change from vintage to vintage - how fun is that !! Best of all, thanks to advances in vineyard and cellar knowledge and technique (and perhaps global warming) the old vintage disasters of the past are behind us and the best producers produce at least good wines every vintage. Personally I love the excitement of experiencing the nuance of each year. After all, real wine is an agricultural product and should speak of three things: vineyard, varietal and VINTAGE. OK here is what I suggest you do. Whenever you see an article by me, just skip down to the tasting notes and cut and paste them somewhere else so you don't have to be bothered by my other prose. We'll both be happier.
  6. I would say any wine is ready for tasting by its tenth birthday, although I don't mean to say its done maturing yet. I'd taste one and see how its going. It should be lovely.
  7. A rich white or a light red. I just don't like oaky wines with the salty/sage flavors of this dish. For a white try a Greco di Tufo from Fuedi San Gregorio or a nice fresh Valpolicella like Speri for the red.
  8. Then you can keep these almost forever. Monfortino from the 70's are still vibrant.
  9. No! WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At 2009 this wine will just hit the staring line, at 15 its adolescence. (assume good storage of course - otherwise drink them before they are destroyed)
  10. 1. yes 2. mine 3. apparently you
  11. I would argue exactly the opposite. At the top end of the spectrum there are stunning wines being made throughout the world that equal the most famous French wines. It is at the lower price ranges where we are getting blown away by the French, Italians, Spanish, Germans and Austrians.
  12. That Chinon producer can also sell their wines directly to any consumer, retailer, wholesaler or restaurant in every country in the European Union with no additional paperwork or taxes. That's a huge advantage.
  13. I'm glad you see the point of the article. Wine lovers should try many different wines, but unfortunately they don't and are rarely given the chance by most wholesalers, retailers and restaurants.
  14. Wow! You certainly drink better than the rest of us. Please share your tasting notes with us so we can at least drink vicariously though you.
  15. That is simply untrue. Maybe it's true if your definition of "great" means over-priced, over-oaked, over-extracted, over-manipulated, over-pointed and over-rated. There are many great wines out there that don't meet this criteria. Big wine + Big Prices = Great Wine is one of the big lies propagated by the industrial wines producers as these are things they can manipulate. They have proven it is easy to manipulate wine, media and consumers. If that is your definition of great so be it, it's not mine.
  16. and a few more from other regions... Clos de la Vierge, Jurancon Sec, 2004 Man this is a nice wine to drink. Zesty yet substantial, rich but firm. Brilliantly alive throughout, layers of fresh lime blended with creme brulee all tied into a mouthwatering package dying for some really great seafood makes this a wine not to be missed. It's an under $20 bargain besides. If you like your wines with a lot of backbone, but not just simple acid bombs - this wine is for you. Cahors, Chateau Vent d'Autan, Anne Godin, 1999 What is this 1999 Cahors still doing around the market? A very good wine offering earthy, black tea laden fruit. Medium body, but plenty rich enough. Good balanced finish. A very nice wine at $15. Château Beaulieu, Cuvée Bérengère, Coteaux d’Aix in Provence, 2003 Now here is a big, complex wine that will should convince a lot of people they are wasting a lot of money on big name Bordeaux and California Cabernet. Deeply complex and powerful with layers of oak that somehow seems to not overpower the intense fruit. A great wine that will be ignored by most of the people that would love it. Next time you grill a big steak grab this bottle, although it will be much more interesting in about five years. Potentially a very serious wine. Chinon, Charles Joguet, Cuvee Terroir, 2003 A bottle full of easy charm here. Brilliantly fruity and alive. This is a wine not about complexity, but about the seductive fruit flavors and aromas and mouthwatering juicy character. What a great food wine. While this is not a wine defined by complexity, there are more than enough layers to keep any wine geek happy. A buy-by-the case wine at $17. Muscadet, Cuvee Vieilles Vignes, Chateau de l’Aiguillette, 1995, eleve sur lie Only a faint hint of older gold shines in the brilliant fresh straw yellow color. On the nose it is expansive yet firm, showing dense mineral highlights over fresh honeysuckle and red apples with cinnamon. Rich, yet zesty and alive on the palate with a finish that evolves into layer after layer of complexity for those paying attention. Yes, this is a current release selling for under $20. Touraine, Clos Roche Blanche, Cuvee Pif, 2004 An explosively attractive blend of cot (malbec) and cabernet franc, this wine is addictive it its pure charm. High on the list of perfect everyday wines, it goes far beyond this as it also offers plenty of complexity along with its fruity charms. This wine sends your saliva glands into high gear. Drink as soon as you can and buy cases of this pleasure
  17. Some Bordeaux bargains... Saint Estephe, Château Haut Baradieu, 2003 A refined, classically styled Bordeaux for drinking now and over the next several years. As befitting a St. Estephe, this is a real cabernet in style with plenty of herbs and spice that overlay the lovely, but appropriately lean fruit. If you’re wondering what a Haut Medoc Bordeaux is supposed to taste like but don’t want to break the bank this is a very nice wine. Think lamb chops. Château Puy Arnaud, Côtes de Castillion, 2003 The heat of 2003 was certainly a great year for Bordeaux’s lesser Chateaux and this very nice wine is one of the better values of the vintage. With a structure and aromatic profile that could be nothing but a Bordeaux, this nice wine is sure to please the true Bordeaux lover. Drink over the next 2 to 3 years to take full advantage of the lovely fruit. Domaine de Valmengaux, 2003, Bordeaux AOC Brilliant rich ruby. Ripe and velvety on the nose with a lush forwardness marked by touches of cabernet/merlot mint and herbs. Round and smooth on the palate with an excellent balance and a structure that carries the forward fruit on a firm backbone. The very round but still apparent tannins show themselves in a lovely finish. A modern style Bordeaux that does not forget its roots. Well worth the $25 price tag with a complexity and structure you will be hard pressed to find in new world cabernet/merlot at this price range. Drink over the next five years.
  18. Was it a 2003 by any chance? While there are a lot of good buys in the very low in of the market from the hot 2003 vintage in the Rhone, a lot of the more expensive wines (from better vineyards) were over the top.
  19. Clos du Bois and Hess are good examples of clean corporate winemaking. They won't offend, but they also never excite. Bordeaux produces huge amounts of wine and many good values, but then you have to like the lean, angular character of real Bordeaux, just like the Chateau les Grands Marechaux. If you like a more balanced, elegant wine with a complexity that grows rather than flatlines Bordeaux is full of bargains. As far a as Twin Fin, cute labels and funky names are to be approched with caution these days. There are some lovely Australians with cute names, but from the USA beware.
  20. Oregon as a wine growing region is still in its infancy - if growing up fast. That's why I'm here as the excitement of discovery in such a young region is an amazing experience. We are focused on the pinot family - noir, gris and blanc. We are not seeking to copy France, but use them as inspiration and a sense of what is possible. Our goal must be to develop our own style and character and most of all a sense of Willamette Valley terroir.
  21. Well there it is, great analogy. The uniformity is a big issue with new world wines and makes them less interesting.
  22. Yes, I see your point about sweeping generalizations.
  23. Why don't you discuss your concerns with the sommelier. I am sure they could pour "tastes" at a reduced price instead of full glasses from the matched tasting flight. Those (like me ) that want can opt for the full portions.
  24. I think there are still many, many estates out there that are not exported to the USA. However, the trick is finding a distributor to both carry them and work them. The importers Marty names and others have already tied up with the best distributors in most markets leaving only the giants, who have little interest in fine wines. The American three tier system is a disaster for small producers of all countries.
  25. I'm not sure what the Texas laws are, but first you'll need to get an Federal Importer Permit from the TTB (Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) http://www.ttb.gov/. It's not tough, you just have to do the paperwork and write the check. Large distributors have little use for interesting small wine producers that only miss up their warehouses, confuse their salespeople and add dreaded SKU's. Check out smaller companies like Virtuoso Selections in Austin for more information.
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