Friday, October 24, 2008


One of my duties as wine buyer at Liquor Direct has been Webmaster (how I got roped into that assignment is anyone’s guess). And one of the components of the Liquor Direct Web site has been my own K2 Selections page. For the past few years, I have posted each month, a dozen wines I think are exceptional, whether they are limited releases, amazing values, or just something completely different.

Now, seven months into the Under the Grape Tree blog , the K2 Selections page has become irrelevant.

So with a sort of integration of the two entities, I will present my wine reviews in the following format:

The first part will be what I have been calling the “grade.” Instead of using the odious 100-point scale, I will use a 3-level system, with the top being AMAZING, the middle being OUTSTANDING, and the bottom being AVERAGE. My criteria for judgment are varietal-correctness, style, value and appeal. I don’t equate a full-bodied wine with being “amazing” nor do I think a light-bodied wine is “average.” If I try a Pinot Noir, it SHOULD be light-bodied, and it SHOULD be soft and fruity. Likewise, an Aussie Shiraz should be spicy, should be medium-to-full-bodied, and should be fruit-forward.

And forget the bad ones. Grandma always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.”

The second part is what I have been calling the “mojo,” a term used by importer Terry Thiese to describe the prose portion of a wine review. It will be a to-the-point paragraph concerning the character and profile of the wine, as well as a reason for why I brought it into our store. Wines blessed with the dubiousness of being left off a reviewer’s tasting table, or one that just was never submitted to the press gods (Spectator, Parker, et. al) for unknown reasons, are the primary focus for my diatribes.

So beginning now, I present to you the K2 Selection of the Day.

Mirabile Viognier Sicilia 2006 ($22.98). The Grade: OUTSTANDING. The Mojo: I was intimidated by the price of this Sicilian Viognier, a bit of an oddity in its own right, but I needed to satisfy a bit of curiosity and fill a niche for Sicilian whites. Trying this with pan-seared swordfish and Gruyere and Parmesan scalloped potatoes, the initial aromas of honeyed apricots and white flowers was overtaken by high alcohol (this is 14% for a white wine!). But letting the glass cool its heels while getting dinner situated for my wife and I gave the wine ample time to blow that “heat” off. What was left was a supple-tasting, medium-bodied white, with baked peaches, a dash of vanilla, some honeysuckle and an almost-creamy apricot finish. It was a pretty nice wine though the price may stave off some interest. Still, it’s a wine you should give a chance.

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