Celebrity Wine FAQ – Luke Perry

Luke Perry, courtesy Hallmark Channel

We have to admit, as far as Wine FAQs go, actor Luke Perry’s is one for the books:
“Why do you guys drink that shit? It tastes horrible!”
Hey, that’s a totally legitimate response. Perry, who was pushing his recent Hallmark Channel movie, Goodnight for Justice, said there are a couple reasons why he’s not into wine.
“I am a beer drinker,” he said. “II can walk you through the finer points of the greater darker ales and the ambers of our time. We’ll talk about it.”
Perry, for the odd one or two of us who don’t know, made his mark in the acting world as bad boy Dylan McKay in the TV series Beverly Hills 90210, that aired through the entire 1990s. He’s done a number of TV movies, including a couple westerns for Hallmark Channel, since then. Goodnight for Justice teamed him up with 90210 classmate Jason Priestly, who directed the film. Alas, Anne felt about the film about the same way Perry feels about wine.
But Perry also said that for some reason, he feels the intoxicating effects of wine more quickly than he does with either beer or single malt scotch.
“And it doesn’t matter if it’s white or red or where I come from, out of a box,” he said. “The deal is when I take two sips of wine, I feel it, so it’s always scared me.”
Part of the problem, Mr. Perry, might be the box stuff. Some of the newer boxes can be pretty durned good, but the old, semi-cheap rotgut that we used to get a buzz on in high school, that may be the source of your quick high. Either way, we loved talking to you.

Pinot Days Means Lots and Lots of Pinot

Courtesy Pinot Days

Tasting events are an amazingly cool way to find out about a lot of wine at one time. Most feature a region or even a single grape, such as Pinot Days, dedicated to the heartbreak grape that is Pinot Noir. Based in San Francisco, the organizers have also taken the show to Chicago and, for the last two years, Santa Monica, California. Michael was lucky enough to get involved as a volunteer for the recent Santa Monica show, which also allowed him to attend the event and mingle with the winemakers.

Imagine a beehive of four thousand people inside a large metal airplane hangar. Tablecloth draped tables with signs for each label present. Most are staffed by the winemakers themselves, sometimes the marketing staff. One ounce pours of as many as three hundred pinot noirs by seventy-five producers from California, Oregon, Washington and one from Tasmania this year.

Sustenance in the form of bread and cheese made the task of tasting every pinot almost manageable. Okay, not even close to manageable. Don’t even try tasting everything. It’s physically impossible. Some of the lines for one or two cult labels can take a half-hour and the entire tasting is only 4 hours. Besides, how much fun is it when you can’t taste the flavors of  a great glass of wine because you’ve already tried 30 others? Moderation, please.

Pinot fans are given to superlatives and plenty of rhetoric. But the winemakers themselves are not. They’re more interested  in telling the wine’s story and sharing its’ history, which you’ll read about in the weeks ahead.

Unknown Winemaker pouring, courtesy Pinot Days

Any wine event where the winemaker is there is worth the experience and the crowds. Winemakers seldom staff tasting rooms because they’re too busy making wine. And, trust us, having the person who made the wine pour you a sample and tell you about it is a blast. You can ask them anything from the most basic beginner question to the most obscure geek stuff, and they love it.

And if the high price of a tasting event like Pinot Days is beyond your budget, try volunteering. It’s a great way to support the program and you can almost always get in plenty of tasting time. Michael had an entire convention of great wine and fascinating winemakers at elbow’s distance for the price of a few hours of sweat equity. Nothing but the best for the readers of OBG!

Sawtooth 2007 Viognier

Type: Dry white
Made with: Viognier
Plays well with: Cheese, light sauces, chicken dishes

We’re always on the lookout for grapes in unusual places.  So Michael was pretty stoked when he found the Sawtooth 2007 Viognier from Idaho among the bottles he’d won in a silent auction to benefit the Southern California chapter of the Rhone Rangers. The Sawtooth vineyards are in the Nampa region along the Snake River.  They’re fairly new and there is a lot of interest in finding out what will do well there as time goes on. So keep Idaho on your radar screens and taste whatever turns up from there.

The Sawtooth Viognier had the gold color and floral smell that shouts, “This is a well-made wine.” The nose had traces of melon and no oak – which is good because you don’t usually use oak on viognier. The first taste turned up some nice, light acids which popped up again on the back of the palate. There was melon and some lemony citrus and some white grapefruit in the taste. The finish after swallowing was a good long one – meaning the taste stayed with us for a good twenty seconds – along with a nice hint of creaminess. That’s from some the malolactic fermentation – a secondary fermentation done with red wines and sometimes with whites that turns the malic acid in the wine into lactic acid, the same acid you find in milk, hence the creaminess.

We served the wine with a roasted chicken and it really put the high note on a lovely dinner.

Celebrity Wine FAQ – Jane Seymour

When we asked actor Jane Seymour for her wine FAQ, she didn’t have one.

“You know, I grew up with wine.  My mother was a wine merchant.  I tasted Givery Chambertin at, probably, eight,” said the actor who is currently reprising her role as Prudence, the Martha Stewart clone in the Hallmark Channel movie Perfectly Prudence.

Like other Europeans, Seymour said, it’s not unusual for young Brits to taste wine long before it’s legal, even there.

But not only is she into wine, she’s even got her own label of pinot noir, JS, which she’s making with vintner Jim Palmer, of Malibu Vineyards, whose Santa Barbara vineyard is next to her property there.

“We did if for fun,” she said, but it sounded a little like they’re going beyond simple fun.  “We blended it personally.”

Nor does she have any particular favorites.

“I love great wine and I’m always open to tasting everything,” she said.  “I don’t care what it costs.  Invariably the cheaper ones sometimes  taste better to me.”

We did ask if folks ask her questions about wine when they find out she’s into it.

“No,” she said.  “They open their cellars.  They get excited and open a bottle they wouldn’t ordinarily.”

More proof that we don’t hang in the right circles.

Dancing Coyote 2009 Albarino

Type: Dry white
Made with: Albarino
Plays well with: Seafood, salads and cream sauces.

Albarino, best known in Spain, is not as fragrant a grape as Viognier, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. But it makes up for the light nose with an acidity and minerality that is hard to beat.  And Dancing Coyote Winery’s Albarino is the one that introduced us to this light and tasty wine.  Michael stumbled across a bottle a couple years ago and we’ve been sold on it ever since.

The 2009 Albarino has the traditional light citrus scent.  The flavor is also light, with a little dry fruit, like melon without the cloying sweetness.  However, it does lack the minerality that we had in some of the earlier vintages – this may be a plus for you, it may not.  It’s still a terrific food wine that fills the hole left behind after too many chards and sauv blancs. A modest 13 percent alcohol makes it easy to enjoy at any meal.

Check out the winery’s website at www.dancingcoyotewines.com