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Month July 2013

Will We Ever Get Over the Movie Sideways? – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

Will we ever get over Sideways?  I mean the collective we not the literal. I still hear people talking about Sideways or even ask… what was that movie….?

It was an amusing film but not one that is endlessly quotable.  The anti-Merlot stance interesting and mostly puzzling shows how influential this movie was for a marked decline in Merlot in the US.  Miles Raymond (played by Paul Giamatti) protagonist, adores Chateau Cheval Blanc and is dismayed by Merlot though Merlot is a part of Chateau Cheval Blanc.  Trefethen displayed a sign on highway 29 “Clearly, Miles had not yet tasted Napa Valley Merlot.”  Pinot Noir took a more central focus and Merlot clearly a decline.  Sideways received five Academy Award nominations and out of that one win – best writing (adapted screenplay)–Sideways was a surprised hit and box office sales of about 105 million dollars.  Pinot Noir was bound to rise with so many eyes on this film and Merlot’s decline can be questioned if it was the movie that solely had that much influence.  I do think Merlot’s decline was due more to the popularization of Malbec at Merlots expense.  If Miles’ character was so influential –isn’t it a bit scary that a fictional character could be so influential in the wine world?

The Hitching Post restaurant still has a reference and picture of Sideways and a bit of copy talking about how Maya (Jack’s love interest) played by Sandra Oh is a waitress here.

I do think there is a great desire to find a film whose centering is both comical and relatable and yet the only source material is Sideways.  Few films can find such a close category relationship. There is no doubt more interest in wine in the US now than at any other time before.  I do think another film about wine where like Sideways it can be a central focus in addition to a creative and humorous storyline.  And in time we can let a new movie take central stage and perhaps we can move forward.

Miles Merlot

 

 

 

 

 

¡Salud!

http://www.jamesthewineguy.com

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2013 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content and logo and all designs. I do not claim copyright of Wired magazine content or Conservation International’s map.

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It Was the Best of Times…Best of Wine Times that Is… – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

It was the best of times…Best of wine times that Is…  While the world and its interlinking economies is in the doldrums it cannot be said the best of times in that respect.  We live in the best of wine times where quality has never been better.  We also have access to more producers and wines from almost the furthest reaches.  When I look at my current review tables I still can’t get over how many wine worlds are represented on my wine table.  If this was a decade ago I would have had a very difficult time finding the diversity I have available to me today.

The import wine category isn’t new but it is far richer today than 10 years ago.  I live in a nicely sophisticated wine town–San Francisco but I can tell you I would have struggled to find wines from Lebanon, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Uruguay, Republic of Macedonia, Israel, Uruguay and other wine countries would have been impossible or nearly impossible.  South African wines was in short supply in terms of what was available on wine shelves–maybe a Chardonnay, maybe a Pinotage.  But in some well stocked wine merchants I can find 16 SKUs of South African wine.  Ten years ago I would have found no wines from the Balkans.  I might have tasted Greek wine (other than Retsina) at Greek food festivals around the country.

We would have never seen wines from lesser known wine regions from better known wine producing nation-states:  Italy: Puglia, Südtirol, Sicily, Sardegna; France: Alsace, Bergerac, Jura and I am sure you get the point.

I do expect more wine regions to promote their wines–you will see more diversity to come and more wine countries to find a spot on a wine shelf near you.  Not because there are so many shelves to be had but because consumers are intrigued and want a greater diversity of wines to purchase.

We also live in the best of wine quality times.  Wine quality is not just a situation where it just happened but it is a resolution of hard work and great effort and sterling conviction.  Wine producing nations or appellations have worked endlessly hard to produce the best wines possible.  The world of wine is not necessarily an even playing field for several reasons but wine regions have made a conscious choice for the higher road.

As example I look at Canada–a great example of a concerted effort to have a high standard of quality.  Okanagan Valley as a more detailed example had a large concentration of hybrid grapes and in the world of cosmopolitan wine drinkers would demand wines from Vitis vinifera.  Okanagan Valley to some extent has always had Vitis vinifera but it wasn’t the dominant wine crop until recently.  The Osoyoos First Nation had foresight and planted Vitis vinifera on their land in 1976 – they called their winery NK’Mip Cellars.  Also, in the late 1980s NAFTA (North America Free Tree Agreement) promotes the uprooting of Hybrid to Vitis vinifera.  A fantastic story for Okanagan Valley a mass replanting, the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) is founded and in a generation and half superb quality wines–world class–are now flourishing in Okanagan Valley.

I would not have enjoyed the world of wines that I enjoy today in a not so far yesteryear.  We live in a world of variety and vintage call out.  Seems nearly foreign that wouldn’t have been standard a 50 to 75 years ago.  A lot has changed in a short period of time and I do expect a furthering of quality measures to be a continuous process.

¡Salud!

http://www.jamesthewineguy.com

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

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© 2013 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content and logo and all designs. I do not claim copyright of Wired magazine content or Conservation International’s map.

James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Response to Wired Magazine’s article “Wine Flight” – James Melendez

Wine Flight

I found this article in the last Wired Magazine written by Eric Smillie – While this map or prediction map is intriguing it is not the complete story. This was an interpretation I am assuming by Eric of the Conservation International map. There is no doubt that I have of global warming– I am not so certain it will be easy to predict or be as cleanly demarcated on this map. I was curious to see what credentials Eric has as a wine writer and I could not see any listed on his website. This popular “science” of interpretation for me was imprecise and not the whole story. The article mentions book your flights to Washington state and get use to high alcohol wine like Zinfandel that is assuming one would drink only California wine and that other varieties wouldn’t come into play. I do not think there is a uniform agreement that global warming will happen in this manner exactly.

Through this interpretation I was thinking was rather weak what else might be weak or misinterpreted in Wired magazine–this got me thinking–what else are they observing incorrectly?

Not so sure I will renew my subscription to Wired.

¡Salud!

http://www.jamesthewineguy.com

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2013 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content and logo and all designs. I do not claim copyright of Wired magazine content or Conservation International’s map.

James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Dennis Leary’s Canteen – A San Francisco Institution Closing –

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I have written a lot about restaurants and have kept that mainly in the Yelpsphere.  But with the recently announced closing of Canteen I had to write a brief article.  Dennis Leary is easily San Francisco’s best kept secret and most under-rated chef.  I have come to adore Canteen from the very first time I set foot in this small and intimate restaurant.

There are four booths and a counter to eat California fresh new American cuisine.  The books on the wall next to each booth give that great personal touch and Leary was very successful to present his personal touch, and brand.  The art of the restaurant is always perplexing to both guest and owner.  Bringing the right combination of space, service, concept and overall feel is baffling to most restaurant owners.  Often the soul is what was once there and evades after the “great idea” is no longer new or great.

Boston reared Dennis Leary is a chef’s chef, über low key and a sense of exactingness in his cooking style.  I have talked with him a bit and he is quietly inquisitive.  

Dennis’s had completed a renovation in the past couple of years taking away the gorgeous lime green counter I absolutely adored.  His restaurants business cards were of the same colour.  There is a mood, an emotional extension that comes from such simple yet perfectly spirited touches.

While Dennis has a mini restaurant empire–The Sentinel, Golden West, House of Shields and the upcoming opening of Cafe Terminus and Trocadero Club promise Leary’s golden touch and I am awake with anticipation.  But I cannot help feel that Canteen is a very personal and private restaurant–though of course it is open to anyone.  While I love many San Francisco restaurants few have the same feel of Canteen; a throwback time to San Francisco in mid-Century– a feel for a restaurant concept that didn’t exist before or will exist in the near future.  For me Canteen was a hidden restaurant, off the beaten track, approachable, honest, serving stellar food in an environment where I could hear my dinner guest without the aide of a megaphone or the use of mega loud power talking to be heard.   I want an intimate space, personal, and Canteen always felt like I was eating in Leary’s bonafide and true home kitchen.

I could only hazard a guess but this is something that perhaps Leary will look back and say what a great experience Canteen was.  There is no doubt that San Francisco is a tough restaurant town–the leasable space is tight, small and hard to find, acquire and maintain.  Also, the economics require a certain number of tables and turnover to make any sense.

I do enjoy a dining adventure where there are cavernous interiors, jelly fish lighting elements, and other standout features but sometimes I want simple, clean, elemental yet creative styles to capture and captivate.  Some times I just want to eat and not be entertained.

I look forward to one more meal at Canteen and of course to Dennis’ new concepts opening soon.

¡Salud!

http://www.jamesthewineguy.com

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2013 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – Content and logo.

James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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