Saturday, February 27, 2010


Through the ozone hole, the sun's intensity is amazing. In a violent flash, a crusty pipe fitting finally gives in to a desperately torqued spanner. Two feral bite marks scar the worker's thumb, one pumping bright, thin blood across his palm and down his wrist, the other turning sickly black under the almost-broken skin. It's OK, despite an onlooker's concern. It has to be OK. Lift with your legs. Righty tighty.

It is a lot of juice and wine, a lot of value lost if the brain is in the wrong place at the wrong time. There will be little cuts and strains and caustic burns, but skin and ligaments regenerate faster than confidence.

Recent notables:
  • Allan Scott Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2008: Refreshing but still substantial mouthfeel. Great white-gold color without much green. Fruit over grass and herbs--melon, fig, pear. Excellent.
  • Gunn Estate Pinot Noir 2008: Very dark color suggests overconcentration, confirmed by the stewed aromas and gummy texture. There are some intriguing flavor elements here--jam and minerals--but in the end it's too graceless.
  • Monteith's Summer Ale: Ugh, the first loser from this otherwise great Kiwi brewery. Watery and dominated by a cola off-flavor.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Updating this from Napier is going to be tricky because I'm limited to coin-op internet kiosks, which are expensive and usually block access to this site when they pick up the word "fisting" in this post. I'm starting work on Monday--not sure if fruit is coming in yet, so not sure if it's going to be a smooth or brutal transition to doin' it in a big winery. Stay focused, stay focused, stay focused. You are not afraid of the Merlot, the Merlot is afraid of you.

Recent Notables:
  • Kilkenny: Not exactly Guinness Lite, but a similar soft mouthfeel and subtle bitterness. Cream ales are OK by me if they usually taste like this.
  • Speight's Golden Lager: Somewhere between a crappy American adjunct-infested pilsner and the real thing from Deutschland, this is a good thirst-quencher but not worth the NZ$7 it costs in bars here.
  • Macs Sassy Red Ale: I don't get why this is billed as a bitter--it's vigorously but elegantly carbonated, very clear, and has intense aroma hopping reminiscent of good IPA's back home. This is probably my go-to beer for the next couple of months.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

E noho rā

Off to New Zealand for the next ten weeks, with no intention but to make excellent wines.

Recent notables:
  • Allegrini Valpolicella Classico 2007: At first taste, grandstanding sharp red cherry stuff almost suggests Sangiovese. Then an out-of-left-field peardrop note awkwardly evokes above-average Beaujolais. Ending on a vanilla plot twist worthy of M. Night, this McValpolicella has some typicity but ultimately takes too long making its point.
  • Hill of Content Shiraz 2005: Rich, coughdroppy black fruit quickly asserts alpha status over listless, dull acidity and tannins. Sawdusty oak cheers from the sidelines.
  • Allan Scott Wines Pinot Noir 2007: The slightly funky berry flavors that make this varietal interesting are well-represented here, but it was impossible to ignore the obvious bubbles quivering around the bowl of the glass and breaking for the surface every two seconds. This wine was fizzy. Maybe, hopefully, a one-in-a-thousand flawed bottle.
  • Homebrewed "Spin-Out" Stout: Multiple freak-outs over the health of this beer's fermentation have proved unwarranted. The end result is a dark, brooding, espressoesque brew that delivers great enjoyment week after bottling. Beneath a creamy tan head, six different hops counter the primally sweet, savory malt with a bitter jolt of electricity.