Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's the holiday why not go camping? Oh and drink wine too!

I just looked and it's been a ridiculous amount of time since I updated, over two weeks. What's going on here! Apparently one of my (many) 2010 resolutions will be to update my blog at least once a week.
However, it's not like I was idle, just sitting there not updating. I worked a ton, drank some wines, got some great editorial feedback on my burgeoning blog, and had a fun holiday season with my family and friends.
The editorial feedback was pretty valuable, as were the things I was able to learn from people like Gary Vaynerchuk. I watched some of his videos that didn't so much deal with wine as with what you have to do to reach out to people, create connections and build your brand. For us in the blogging world, it's critical to build that brand. Gary's approach seems to advocate building those connections, keeping your content fresh and original, and working your ass off. So what I have been trying to do is integrate that message with some other things I've learned, like creating that niche to get your voice out, the value of an original approach, and just plain writing well.
Before I go into what I drank for the Christmas Day stuff, I do want to post up something and maybe make my readers aware of it. There's a conference in June, in Washington that's called the Wine Bloggers Conference. Basically it's open to anyone who writes (blogs) about wine and features some great ways for both beginners and advanced bloggers to network, learn, taste, eat, and just get really deep into the wine world and more specifically, the ever changing wine blogging world. The reason I'm writing this out is because there are some scholarships available to people who might not be able to afford the airfare or hotels or the registration fee to this event. I know times are tough for most of us but they could really use some donations to increase the amount of scholarships and truly open the event up to as many people as possible. The link is here, and that's really about the extent of my solicitation to you. They'd appreciate any amount and you'd definitely get some press.

So, onwards to the review!
2005 Parson's Flat Padthaway Shiraz/Cabernet
(image credit to

There you have it, that's what I drank on Christmas Day, out in the Anza Borrego State Park with my Dad and younger Brother. We used to camp all the time, going back to our days in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. This year we'd planned to camp in the winter, when it was cooler, and the trip ended up falling on the 25th and 26th of December. It wasn't a huge thing, just load up the truck with supplies and a bbq and head out for the night. Our menu wasn't even that fancy, we brought burgers, stuff for sandwiches, chips, beer and wine (duh!), along with various other smaller things. This would be a big departure from the somewhat fancier Christmas dinners I was used to but it seemed fun and different, which always appeals to me.
Now I won't take a lot of time to describe the trip, because after all, this is a wine blog! I would like to share a couple of things though. First off, I was amazed at the fact that out there, the world is in basically five colors, and three of them are shades of brown/gray. The landscape is so austere, rugged, but also lonely and almost primeval. You could easily think that it's looked the same for 1000 years, maybe 10,000. We hiked through rough country, across terrain that varied from semi-truck sized boulders to soft ravines of broken granite sand. Cacti were everywhere, you really felt surrounded by desolation, that feeling pressed down on us like a giant hand. I was moved and reflective of a few things, but this also isn't a philosophy blog.

So after we retired back to camp, it was time to relax, enjoy beer, listen to the Chargers game and prep dinner. The bottle of wine, 2005 Parsons's Flat from Padthaway was opened about two hours before dinner was ready, to give it some time to breathe. As soon as I pulled that cork, I was struck by big fruity aromas, like a mixed-berry pie! Pie that maybe had a bit of blackberry and boysenberry in it, less on the strawberry. There was some raspberry too, and a dollop of vanilla, the oaky kind though. Vanilla notes always make me think, can we describe it better? I want to say it's something like a fresh cut board quickly dipped in a jar of vanilla, then held about six feet away from you. Does that make sense? You get the stronger vanilla note but also a subtle undertone of oaky-woodsey kind of smells.

Okay so enough with trying to wow you with my super-cool wine geek references. We finally got the burgers done (thanks Dad!!) and poured cups (yes I said it, cups) of the stuff. Another sniff left me with the same expression except maybe a small bit of that cocoa powder smell from really high end hot chocolate. Cool! This was going to be interesting. Right as soon as I tasted, that ripe fruit was back, but it was well balanced. What struck me as interesting was the firmness of the tannins on the palate. I suggested it was the mid-palate but my dad didn't think so, and well he's got 30+ years in the business so yea I was off the mark. What I felt though was this firm tannic streak right in the middle of the tasting procession, that is to say it broke up the lush, soft fruit notes and gave the wine a backbone. That was good because the burgers were juicy, cheesy and cooked to perfection. The finish was clean, with some lingering tannin and maybe blackberry and almost this tarry quality, which I felt was rather interesting.

What did I think of it? Well here's the thing, it usually retails for around $40 U.S. I paid $14.99 for it. Would I buy it again for $15? Yes! Definitely, at that price it gets an A- from me, a really tasty wine that pairs well with great food. Now, would I be happy if I'd spent $40 on it? No way, it was too simplistic at that price, overwrought with the juicy fruit notes, the tannins weren't as silky as they should be, and there was too much oak all through the wine. If the wine was $40, I'd give it a C+/B-. What a difference $25 can make right? There you have it, a fun Christmas experience that hopefully interweaves some nature and some wine. My dad said it was the perfect wine to have outdoors while grilling burgers, and I think he hit the nail on the head.
I hope everyone had a stellar Holiday Season and will have a great New Years, I for one am really excited about 2010 for a bunch of reasons. I'll cover that in a future blog entry. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, I appreciate it to no end.

Beau Carufel

1 comment:

  1. Another delightful and informative wine blog from one of the best palates in the biz. Lots of images and taste sensations, thoughtfulness and astute observations.

    BTW, your choice of the Parson's Flat Shiraz/Cab for the camping trip was perfect; informal and affable, as if the parson himself was shooting the breeze with us by the campfire.

    Thanks, Beau!