Sunday Espresso: On Showing Up and Wine Badges

    As much as I like anything that makes wine more fun, and approachable, I'm not so sure we're going to see the 100-point system replaced anytime soon.

    Sunday Espress Editorial Clint

    Sunday Espresso Editorial ClintOne of my favorite parts about what we do here on SSC, my dear kith, is the unexpected. Usually it’s the result of, as they say, just showing up. When things are too planned and too organized, we get decent output–be it a play, a wine event, an interview, or backstage video segment. Nothing wrong with that of course. But show up enough times, and let the cameras roll long enough, and soon enough you get the unexpected.

    Often it happens as the result of a certain amount of loosening up. Especially with interviews, there is an initial stage that is somewhat formal and stiff. Each of us is feeling out the other. Who is SSC they must wonder. And we too wonder how good they’ll be on camera, and if they’ll open enough to give us more than just stump speeches and canned responses. In almost every instance I can recall over the last two years, it has always worked out.

    But most often it’s the result of showing up. We flog the car; get there. Up and down 101, 880, 680, 29. Wherever we need be.

    Many times we don’t know if a “story” or angle will emerge. Are we seeking to entertain, inform or just profile something or someone? I do know it won’t happen sitting in front of our computers, or bantering at home over a late night cocktail.

    Hopefully it keeps the content here fresh, unique and quirky, for better or worse.

    Gift Horse
    Scott Kildall and Victoria Scott show Loni a 1/4 size replica of "Gift Horse" in their San Francisco studio.

    Take, for example, the Gift Horse. The husband/wife team of Scott Kildall and Victoria Scott are building a giant wooden trojan horse in an arts loft in San Francisco. Next month it will be wheeled down the streets of San Jose as part of the 01SJ Biennial, where it will then be gifted to the San Jose Museum of Art. But… not before viruses–foot-and-mouth disease, small pox, among others–fall from its belly.

    The concept came from a virtual game called Second Life. Instead of creating the virtual out of reality, a la Avatar, this exciting project is doing the opposite. I think the results will be spectacular. We have a look into their studio, the project and an in-depth interview coming soon. It was another unexpected pleasure.

    Wine Badges

    Have you heard, there’s a wine revolution?

    It involves… get ready for this… “badges.” Aimed at taking down the wine hegemony and the traditional 100-point scoring system most often associated with Robert Parker, a scrappy coalition of wine bloggers aspire to change the game with these cheeky stickers, and hope consumers can make more informed buying decisions.

    Chances are you haven’t heard of this movement. The world of wine bloggers seems ginormous, but only when viewed from within its own circle. Venture outside of it and it’s like an unseen universe of ants scurrying underneath a rock in the rear yard. To the rest of us it looks like a lawn. Still, I’m a proponent of new and innovative ideas, it’s the Silicon Valley way. After all, something like SSC would likely not exist if it weren’t for social networking, the “cloud”, and an occasional desire to change the world.

    These badges seek to make scoring of wines more consistent (unlikely), more helpful (possibly) and, as a fringe benefit, more fun too (definitely). However, as much as I like anything that makes wine more fun, and approachable, I’m not so sure we’re going to see the 100-point system fall anytime soon. Some day maybe I’ll come to realize why a “Friggin’ Awesome” badge, for example, helps a consumer understand the relative merits of a wine, as opposed to a score of ’94’ which has universal meaning.

    Also, shouldn’t a real revolution draw blood?! Could anything be less Napoleonic than inciting the masses with TweetDeck, tasting notes, and a corkscrew?

    This much I know: wine is subjective.

    You could take the world’s best wine, award it 100 points, and you or I may still not like it. It’s a bit like art, and a lot like food. It’s personal. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be guidelines, flavor profiles, terroir analysis, etc. These are all helpful in better understanding the world of wine.

    In the end, though, a badge (as colorful and playful as it may be) is still just a badge. And what matters most, at least in this oenophile’s humble, tannin-loving opinion, is the credibility and the authority of the name behind any wine rating.

    Speaking of wine…

    Last night, we celebrated with some kith. Loni plated up a wonderful lamb dinner. Cheese from France. Jam from Tuscany. And apple pie from good old America. I pulled up GrapeStories, as I love to do, and dialed up some fun wine from the cellar to pair with the courses. But if you followed me on Twitter, you’d have known all this in riveting real-time.

    2005 Iron Horse Vineyards Russian Cruvee

    It ended the cold war, and while we didn’t plan on any in-depth Gorbachev/Reagan like discussions, it kicked off the evening in style. I appreciate the dry style, and it was luxurious with Saint-André cheese. This was one of the bottles we picked up at the vineyard as part of the Grape to Glass event in Sonoma.

    2003 Talbot Chardonnay Diamond T Estate

    I don’t like oak bombs. Thankfully, this Chard was spot on, with just enough butter feel to give it a sense of occasion without giving me Mario Batali nightmares.

    2002 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley

    This was supposed to be the star of the evening. Decanted for 90 minutes. It was smooth, and elegant. But I was ultimately disappointed. Possibly too laid back, and (I should’ve known better) wimpy next to Loni’s rack of lamb.

    2005 The Hess Collection Syrah Small Block Series Napa Valley

    The surprise of the night came from the burning typewriter. After the laid back Silver Oak, it was nice to re-awaken the palate with this juicy, playful wine.

    Post-dinner: U2 360 on the home theater; conversation about theater, travel channel pilots, and an inspiring story about a boy with autism. A memorable night.

    Alert: Word of the Day. In play. Can you find it?

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    • Jim S – Ottawa

      So where is the recipe for the rack of lamb?? Is Loni’s California Kitchen negotiating a network deal or something?? Don’t forget your faithful readers 8-))

    • Jim S – Ottawa

      So where is the recipe for the rack of lamb?? Is Loni’s California Kitchen negotiating a network deal or something?? Don’t forget your faithful readers 8-))