Sorry I haven't been very active here lately, but I'm currently working on some new content and updating my site. Forgive me for any pages that aren't functioning properly.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Morning from Bali

So I broke my board yesterday. Again. Despite having far less critical surf this trip and a shorter stay, I've had my board repaired as many times this trip as any other. Oh well. I was surfing a fun little sandbar yesterday with just one other surfer when I got caught inside on a solid 4-foot set. I attempted to duck-dive it only to be slammed into the bottom, break off one of my fins, and nearly snap the entire tail off my board.
I'm set to leave for New Zealand tomorrow night, but may be delayed due to the eruption of Mount Bromo in East Java. I know there has been several flight cancellations but have yet to find whether any will be leaving tomorrow. As I'm set to start work in Blenheim the morning after I land, I'm hoping that I'll be on the plane tomorrow. I took the photographs shown after a fun session last week. Due to rather westerly swell direction and lighter winds, I've been mostly sampling Bali's west coast for waves.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Purple Haze

you've got me blowin, blowin my mind
is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wine Bottle Shapes

Packaging is a major consideration for wine producers, particularly in today's highly saturated wine market. Whether consciously or not, consumers consider several packaging variables when purchasing a wine off the shelf. Is the label classy or cute? Does it have a screw cap or a cork? Does the bottle have high shoulders or sloped shoulders?

Most of the industry agrees that bottle shape has no impact on wine taste (a case could be made that bottle shapes will offer different oxidation properties, but this is usually argued as negligible). Just like a label, bottle shape is a cosmetic issue.

Today's popular bottle shapes are traced to certain European wine regions, who over time developed bottles unique to their region. This allowed consumers to get an idea of what's inside the bottle prior to purchase, and this methodology still applies today. There are four primary bottle shape categories: Bordeaux, Burgundy, German (Hoch), and Champagne.
The Burgundy bottle (on the left in the photograph) has soft shoulders and a fairly wide base. Since Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the wines of Burgundy, these bottles are used for both varietals worldwide. They are also used for Rhone varietals such as Syrah and Grenache. Some people consider the Rhone bottle a different category (I lumped them in with the Burgundy because they are really similar; a little slenderer with slightly sharper shoulders).

The German bottle (middle in the photograph) is tall and slender, with quite soft shoulders and a long neck. This bottle is typically used for Reisling, Gewurztraminer, and many aromatic white varietals. Since they are also commonly used for sweet wines, many producers have moved away from using these bottles for dry-style aromatic whites to avoid consumer confusion.

The Bordeaux bottle (on the right in the photograph) is tall with straight sides and high shoulders. These bottles are commonly used for the Bordeaux varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon. Since it used for Sauternes (dessert wine from Sauternais region of Bordeaux), it is commonly used for other similar late-harvest/dessert wines. It has also been adopted by many California producers for bottling Zinfandel.

The Champagne bottle (not pictured, sorry) has a somewhat similar shape to the Burgundy bottle, with a wider base and sloped shoulders. The main differences give the Champagne bottle the ability to contain the enormous pressure inside; they have a rather pronounced punt (indent in the bottom) and far thicker glass. As you could guess, this bottle type is used for sparkling wines. These two qualities are also considered quality indicators (larger the punt the better, thicker the glass the better).

Plenty of producers use unique different bottle shapes to differentiate their products on shelves. Large format bottles are becoming more common in today's market; these bottles typically have the same shape as the standard 750 mL bottles but hold more (sometimes WAY more) wine. They also have really cool names, such as the Jeroboam (3 L) and Nebuchadnezzar (15 L).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

MontGras 2009 Reserva Carmenere

Located about three hours south of Chile's capital city of Santiago, the Colchagua Valley is one of Chile's premier wine growing regions. Vina MontGras, established nearly twenty years ago, is one of the several large producers in the valley today. They control over 800 hectares of land, with over 200 hectares (560 acres) planted to vines. While focusing mainly on red varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Syrah, and Zinfandel), they do a handful of whites (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Viognier).

Winery - Vina MontGras
Location- Colchagua Valley, Chile 
Wine - MontGras 2009 Reserva Carmenere
Varietals - 90% Carmenere, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation - Colchagua Valley
Alcohol - 14.2% v/v 
Price - $14 USD 

Nose/Aroma - Black fruit, pepper, and toasted oak. Little bit minty too.
Palate/Flavors - Rhubarb and raspberries, white pepper. Pretty tart, but not overly bitter or astringent. Med finish of toasted oak and dried fruit.
Style - Carmenere is Chile's bread and butter, with far more plantings than anywhere else in the world.
Food Pairing - Usually would go with usual pairing, some red meat. I think it would go well with some spicy foods or anything peppery.
Comments - Nice wine, showing well for how young it is. Definitely a buy and drink type of wine, though it's probably been released a bit early. Good flavors.

Other Chilean wine reviews - Aresti Reserva 2006 Maipo Valley Syrah, Porta Reserva 2005 Maipo Valley Carmenere

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bali Styles

I've been here in Bali for almost a week now. This being my first wet season visit, I've found that the vibe is a bit different than the dry season; different crowds, different weather patterns, and different spots breaking. While there hasn't been too much swell in the water, I'm enjoying exploring parts of the island that I've never visited. Plus, I'm finding plenty of fun surf to keep me occupied.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Throwback - Samoa

Here's another photograph I found during my archive searches. Samoa is a beautiful place that I know I'll return to one day. It's a beautiful place and full of wonderful people.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rutini 2006 Mendoza Syrah

Felipe Rutini emigrated to Argentina in the late 19th century, leaving behind his native country of Italy. He quickly put his heritage to work, planting vines and constructing a winery in Mendoza's Maipu region. He expanded his production to include vineyards in Los Corralitos and Medrano, focusing on producing quality wines. The Rutini family has continued to innovate their operations, fully updating their winery to include the latest winemaking technology while reaching capacity of over ten million liters. With close to 200 hectares (494 acres) of vineyards spread throughout Mendoza, Bodega La Rural now has a broad range of offerings including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Malbec, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Winery -  Bodega La Rural
Location - Mendoza, Argentina
Wine - Rutini 2006 Mendoza Syrah
Varietals - Syrah
Appellation - Mendoza
Alcohol - 14.4% v/v 
Price - ?? (my father got it as a gift)

Nose/Aroma - Red fruit and coriander seeds.
Palate/Flavors - Plum and red currant, with undertones of bacon fat and tobacco. Long finish of vanilla and red fruit. Medium-high body, with good phenolic structure. Quite balanced.
Style - New world Syrah, kind of a combination of a California and Rhone style wine.
Comments - Very well integrated. Still pretty tight, could age a few more years easily. I'd definitely be happy to get this as a gift.

Other  wine reviews - Catena 2007 Mendoza Malbec

Sunday, January 16, 2011

More Goodbyes - Off to Indonesia

It's always hard to say goodbye, particularly when it's for an extended period of time. One would think it would get easier the more often it happens, but interestingly, it seems harder now than before. Thank you to everyone I was able to spend some time with recently, and sorry to those I didn't get a chance to catch up with. I'm sure our paths will cross again soon enough.
I'm leaving San Diego this evening and beginning my 27-hour journey to Indonesia. Due to more restrictive baggage limits, I'm having a bit of trouble trying to pack everything I need for my time there and in New Zealand. So, that should be interesting.
I took the photographs shown here last night. The sunsets in San Diego lately have been stunning. On another note, I will be accessing the internet periodically during my two weeks in Indonesia, so please drop me an e-mail or keep in touch. I have prepared some posts in advance and will set them up for automatic release throughout my trip. Positive vibes and stay well.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Throwback - SD Sundown Session

I was going through some old photographs over the holidays. It's fun looking back on the past and thinking about all the experiences that have led me to where I am today. This photograph brought back so many good memories of San Diego afternoons.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

War Games

War games are a common sight in San Diego, at least compared to other locations worldwide. Why? San Diego is home to one of the world's largest naval fleets, and San Diego County has the largest concentration of naval facilities in the world, including the Naval Base Point Loma, Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, and Naval Air Station North Island. Add in the Marine operations, primarily focused at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendelton and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, plus the US Coast Guard Station San Diego, and it's hard not to see something flying over head or cruising off the coast here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bernardo Winery

San Diego was the home of California's first wine grapes, planted by Spanish missionaries under the leadership of Father Juniper Serra in the 18th century. Bernardo Winery has been in operation since the late 19th century, earning its place as one of southern California's first wineries. During prohibition, Vincent Rizzo purchased the financially struggling winery from its original founders. By the late 1940's, prohibition was long gone and Bernardo was producing approximately 50,000 cases of wine.
Still owned by the Rizzo family today, Bernardo Winery is now one of over fifty wineries operating throughout San Diego County today. The small village around the winery makes it a rather dynamic place to visit; there are over a dozen shops surrounding the winery, including Cafe Merlot, Cotton Cottage, the Salon at the Vineyard, and Stone & Glass.
Third generation winemaker and director Ross Rizzo Junior is revamping the winery, introducing new winemaking techniques and vineyard plantings to bring the winery into the 21st century. Their wine list is pretty extensive and includes wines made from grapes grown in San Diego County and throughout California. Below are a couple of my favorites from their lineup. 

2008 San Diego County Cabernet Sauvignon - Upfront raspberries and dried fruit, with a syrupy sweetness complimenting sandalwood flavors. Light body for a Cab, not much bitterness or astringency.

2008 San Diego County Meritage - Black currants and dusty wood with lovely underlying earthy tones. As it was just bottled recently, it was hard to make an accurate assessment due to bottle shock. 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot.

2008 San Diego County Reserve White Zinfandel - A new addition the their wine list. Good balance of sugar and acid provides a nice structure, floral aromas, rock melon and tropical fruit.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fita Preta 2008 Blanco Vinho

From the southwest corner of Portugal, FitaPreta Winery combines high-tech vineyard management with traditional winemaking techniques to create distinctive wines from the budding region of Alentejo. Despite producing just over 10,000 cases a year, Fita Preta can be found all over the globe. They focus mainly on Portuguese varietals (Alfrocheiro, Aragones, Trincadeira, and Touriga Nacional to name a few), but other varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are beginning to make strides. The Alentejo region is best known for its red varietals, with a divide between producers sticking to old world styles and those producing new world wines.
Winery - Fita Preta Vinhos 
Location - Herdade de Outiero da Esquila, Portugal
Wine - Fita Preta 2008 Blanco Vinho
Varietals - Antao Vaz
Appellation - Alentejo
Alcohol - 13.5% v/v 
Price - $16 USD

Nose/Aroma - Apricot, tropical fruit, and green tea.
Palate/Flavors - Crisp acid with grapefruit, rock melon, and apricots that broadens out nicely. Bit of an oily texture, and a long, honeyed finish.
Style - Reminds me a little bit of a Condrieu, but more acid structure.
Food Pairing - Seafood salad pita wraps.
Comments- If you can find it, definitely a good buy with a complex flavor profile. Don't find a whole lot of wine from Portugal in the US and this one give them a good name.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

Despite some trials and tribulations, I feel blessed when I reflect on the past year. I've been fortunate enough to have so many great experiences, and share them with so many wonderful people. Happy new year and may 2011 bring good times to all.
Photo - Wainui sunrise.