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Archive: December 2, 2003

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Chardonnay Tasting

Tuesday,  12/02/03  01:02 AM

Shirley and I have some parties coming up - my birthday, a dinner party, and an open house - and so we have to pick wines.  I visited our local cheaper-than-dirt wine distributor (Wade's Wines), and picked eight possible chardonnays, in the range $5-$30 per bottle.  I also threw in a known-to-be-good $50 bottle for comparison, and we did a blind tasting.  Hey, it's hard work throwing parties :)

tasting Chardonnay blind
Tasting Chardonnay Blind

The results were amazing.  I totally mis-called which wines I thought I'd like.  My personal favorite going in was the 2001 Forman ($30), which ended up dead lastThis is why you have to taste blind.

Remarkably, Shirley and I had similar tasting notes.  We both found one wine to be the clear pick of the bunch - the 2001 Peters ($25).  I promise you, this is a great Chardonnay.  Our third favorite was a South African wine, the 2002 Graham Beck, which at $9 is a great bottle.  And the cheapest wine of the bunch, the 1997 Chateau Woltner ($5), finished a respectable sixth, ahead of the expensive "benchmark", the 2000 Kistler ($50).

Here are the results, your mileage may vary:

  1. 2001 Peters Family, Napa Valley ($25)
    Rich and smooth, with a wonderful nose and long vanilla finish.  What can I say, this was a great Chardonnay.  Yum!
  2. 1999 Thunder Mountain, Napa Valley ($20)
    Lighter than the Peters, but very sound.  Nicely balanced with full body.  Shirley thought it would be better with food than by itself.
  3. 2000 Graham Beck, South Africa ($9)
    A delightful surprise, nice and smooth, with full rich flavor.  Kind of an exotic finish.  It is always fun to find an inexpensive wine from "somewhere else" which is such a delight.
  4. 2000 Gary Farrel, Alexander Valley ($25)
    A rich buttery chard, maybe a little unbalanced.  Great nose.  Gary Farrel is pretty reliable, and this was really nice.  Plus, they have beautiful labels.
  5. 2001 Muir Hanna Estate, Napa Valley ($20)
    Austere and complex, a little dry, but overall nicely balanced.  Nice nose with a slightly bitter finish.  This grew on me, I rated it higher on each pass.  Maybe needed more time to air out...
  6. 1997 Chateau Woltner, Napa Valley ($5)
    A lighter wine, clean and smooth and dry.  Not rich enough to stand up to food, but a nice "sitting around and drinking" wine.  And at this price, get a few cases!
  7. 2000 Kistler Les Noisetiers, Napa Valley ($50)
    Probably not ready, seemed unbalanced and dull.  Not much nose and slightly bitter finish.  I'm a big fan of Kistler, this was a disappointment.  Might be better later but so what.
  8. 2000 Muir Hanna Estate, Napa Valley ($20)
    Thin and grassy, too much citrus.  Lemon nose, weak finish.  Way worse than the '01, not even remotely the same.
  9. 2001 Forman, Napa Valley ($30)
    Just completely disappointing, thin, acidy, and unbalanced.  Bitter finish.  I picked Forman to win based on past history, but so be it.  That's why you taste.

If you want to try this at home, here's how you do it.  Person A uncorks the bottles, and wraps them in foil.  Each bottle is given a letter (via a little sticky note), and Person A writes down the names of the wines and their letters.  Next fold the paper so only the letters are visible.  Then Person B removes the letter labels and at random assigns each bottle a number (via a little sticky note), writing each bottle's number next to the letter it replaced.  Now you taste, and each person makes notes on the bottles by their numbers.  Neither person knows which bottle goes with which number.

Some people like to compare notes as they compare wines.  Shirley and I typically each make a pass without sharing our thoughts with each other, then make a second pass comparing notes.

Remember to have crackers, bland cheese, bread, and water handy for "cleansing the palate".  Each person needs several glasses for comparison purposes.  And remember you don't have to drink a lot!  You can taste wines without swallowing...  Of course you can, if you want to.  Somehow our favorite, the 2001 Peters, was nearly gone by the time we were done.

tasting Chardonnay, the unveiling
Tasting Chardonnay, the unveiling...

Yeah, it's hard work, but somebody has to do it :)


Tuesday,  12/02/03  09:46 PM

Bad things happening on my hard drive, I'm crossing my fingers and performing other pagan rituals...

A couple of visitors suggested gently that I was out of my mind for agreeing with godless' thoughts on fashion.  The gist of their objection was that it is bad to judge women by their external beauty, and shallow to consider overweight women ugly.  Hey, it is what it is.  Bad or good, men judge women by their beauty, and shallow or deep, overweight women are unattractive.  Deal with it.

Cory Doctorow considers the "Analog Hole", and big media's efforts to plug it.  "The second section [of the MPAA's Content Protection Status Report], 'Plugging the Analog Hole,' reveals Hollywood's plan to turn a generic technology component, the humble analog-to-digital converter, into a device that is subject to the kind of regulation heretofore reserved for Schedule A narcotics."  Not good.  I can't believe these people actually believe they can put the digital genie back in the bottle.  [ via John Robb ]

YAMPA, from Wired.  (Yet another micropayments article.)  Will BitPass and PepperCoin supplant PayPal.  No.  The way is shut.

Joel Spolsky hits another nail on the head: Craftsmanship.  "It comes down to an attribute of software that most people think of as craftsmanship.  When software is built by a true craftsman, all the screws line up."  This is what I strive for, every day.  Lining up those screw heads...

ancient D20At Slashdot a post linked this Christies auction of a 2,000 year-old 20-sided die, known to D&D gamers as a "D20".   This is an icosahedran, a regular solid with 20 equilateral triangular faces.  These fascinating objects have five-fold symmetry with edges forming regular pentagons.  So I have to ask - what is the plane section with the greatest area?

Scoble discusses the state of Tablet PCs.  "I think the problem is that most people buy on screen size and quality and the truth is that Tablets look weak when compared to a 15-inch high resolution monitor."  That nails it for me.  Give me a high-resolution screen (like that found on my laptop), and sure, I'd be interested.  In 2003 nobody settles for 1024x768 anymore.

Matt Haughey reviews the Gateway connected DVD Player.  "Overall, I'd rate this unit very highly as a capable network media device.  With a simple setup and easy operation, it was painless to use all the files from my PC on my home entertainment center over the wireless network."  There are going to be more and more of these things, until finally a network connection becomes a must-have feature.

And a big part of every home will be their media server.  The Mirra is out, billed as the "first truly personal server".  Among other things, it can be set to automatically backup and synchronize files from all the computers in your house.  I wish I had this :\

Here's a cool new group blog: Blogging L.A.  No RSS feed, yet.  [ via Xeni Jardin, who comments "and then, in an unguarded moment, they loosened their standards and let me in" ]

Coral Castle Polaris TelescopeWired thinks Secret Energy Haunts Coral Castle.  Check out the Coral Castle website.  A friend who's seen it firsthand says it really is pretty amazing, especially the 25' lensless Polaris telescope, constructed from a 30-ton coral slab (see pic at right).  Even if it wasn't done with some secret energy source :)

I'll leave you with the Wired Geek Gift Guide.  A lot of terrific stuff here, for the geek on your list, or if you happen to be a geek, for your own list!


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Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
The Nest
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained