the Liquid Magic of Ryme: Agliancico


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Yep, that’s right, Liquid Magic…

2007 Ryme Cellars Aglianico

Luna Matta Vineyard, Paso Robles

Dark and deep aromatic profile of black root, cherry pit, smoked lemon pith, warm stone and mineral, fernet-like dry, bitter, floral and herbal notes. Espresso and black tea, sweet rubber and dust. Quite understated.

On the palate this wine is liquid velvet despite enormous structure and a warm texture. Oh so drying, and I love it, such noble tannins. Bitter walnut skin, sappy and thick black flavors, espresso infused cranberry, pepper crusted cherry, dusty rocks, grapefruit pith and violet stems.

And with that, it’s gone.

Any curious wine-drinker wishing to explore Old-World sensibilities in the New World should jump on the Ryme wagon. The Ribolla Gialla is outrageously beautiful as well…

This is REAL wine. Go get you some.


A Paradox, the Betrayal and the Reckoning


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A Paradox, the Betrayal and the Reckoning

by Seth M. Long

I didn’t know she was the Bastard Daughter. Like most, my love affair with Chardonnay had a rocky start. Her lineage was still unknown to me, I knew not from whence she came. When she met me on a whim, I had no idea that the loud and cloying, sweet and hollow frame was just an egregious impostor. This is the paradox. The ubiquity of it all has only exacerbated the problem of an already reprehensible masquerades of watered back, ethanol-laden, oak-chip saturated, indecorous and industrial swill.

When I made my judgment, I was not yet aware of her chameleon-like nature, I had not idea she was such a savvy traveler. Ignorance was not so much bliss as they say. In this case, it was a burden that I would learn to carry. Much of her beauty is easily masked behind façades – behind style. All bust and no curve, a Happy Meal version, Biggie Sized. I shudder to think back to our first encounter. The long and the short of it: we broke up before it ever started. The wine was like a one-night stand: clean but dirty, lustful and hot, awkward, quick and definitive. We’ve both moved on.

Before I saw her best work, I suffered through her worst. I came to realize she too is sometimes sullen. Can you blame her? Her power and her grace is easily misguided, her litheness and adaptability taken advantage of. While some adorn and house her lavishly, I find it rarely suits her and too often it seems, when we coax her out her glass house to play, she barely utters…

It is a shame when only her would-be pimps speak.

This is her identity crisis.

To truly know her, you must see through her faults, like anyone. When she shines, when she is permitted to thrive, this is true character. She is resilient and she is perhaps a great teacher. It was with Chardonnay that I began to see wine as a way to ground myself in place through it’s liquid. It was only after I opened my mind that I would be able to see through the paradox, to read between the wines.

This is a task anyone who desires to know Chardonnay must undertake.

Through the teachings of those more knowledgeable, I came to learn she could also speak in soft, mineral whispers, with crispness, freshness, eloquent richness. Her distinct demeanor began to enchant me as much as it annoyed me. I was intrigued, but played it cool. More and more as I delved into wine history, learned of her dirty limestone secrets, I came to adore her. I clamored for her attention, seeking the beguiling sensation of tasting through her expressions, exploring the clarity of her character.

I’ve learned to pay more attention to the details, to her comings and goings. Slowly I am learning to tune out the forceful and obnoxious habits she sometimes shows. I focus on finding the delicacy she embodies when treated respectfully.

Respect is the ultimate compliment to her.

The transparency she displays, when treated with respect, love and affection, can be breathtaking. But she has moods. I only want more of her innate character to come through, for she is beautiful without brawn, her tense robe of veracity needs little help. Liquid lambency exists within her, if you allow it, if you support the intrinsic character drawn from her roots, taken in through the light caught by her outstretched hands-those furrowed hands of stem, tendrils, leaf. Her bounty can be borrowed every year, though it must be tended, a careful guardian, a caretaker, and guide, a poet of the earth, liaison of the sun and moon, usher of the dirt.

It is like a vinous tightrope, such a thin line between ‘success’ and ‘failure’, between ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Her truths are often more palatable when subtle, more enchanting when lithe, fresh and taut. She so eloquently speaks language of crumbled limestone, weaving stern minerality into velvet stocking. She can echo the soil, shell and pebble, whisper lemon blossom and sweet herb, caress like peach skin and quench like nectarine juice. She can explain complexity of place, parse out the dynamics of wild interaction of grape, vine, human and time like no other.

You must allow her to shine in order to learn who she is.

Some of us have found a way to forgive false circumstance. We’ve seen the light that each of these authors described in their own way…about how Chardonnay has charmed her way back into our hearts.

Too many have sold Chardonnay short. It is too easy to strong-arm her charm, her grace, her transparency, to literally make a monster. She has no free-will, she is humble, pliable and honors every decision, wears these colors on her sleeve. There is nowhere to hide with Chardonnay. Look at the box store shelves cluttered with clumsy wines selling for $X.99 a bottle, but claiming no purpose to defy ease. There is power in knowing when to do nothing. She is case in point.

And what of the wildly expensive and cult bottlings? These too may reek of maligned disrespect of vine, earth and intrinsic expression. Those brooding bottles of muscle, pumped up with high glycerol, ethanol and pompous bravado. They bitch-slap you with contempt, they care neither for you to savor or share.

This project’s aim was merely to start a discussion, to raise awareness about the paradox of Chardonnay. Thank you to all those who contributed, your voice was heard! And now, a cheers to the vine, it’s caretakers, the crafters, the farmers, the vignerons… they deserve our respect and understanding. They are the ones who express the truth, who translate the vinous language of Chardonnay that so many do not want to hear.

To usher a grape that so deftly changes with site, with style of farming and vinification, is no easy task. For Chardonnay, every action is magnified in the liquid. Chardonnay is a sponge. There is nowhere to hide with her.

Does your bullshit meter go off when you look at that bottle? If it does, I urge you to put it down.

Just say no to bullshit Chardonnay. For that matter, say no to bullshit wine.

This blog, named Seler d’or, is after what I understand to be Vinous Aesthetics. This is the antithesis of bullshit. REAL wine, craft wine, grown and made clearly and without aid of makeup. Natural or not, you’d better have a good reason to be tending vine, vinifying wine, selling bottles or palates. The saying is that ‘life is too short to drink bad wine”. I’d add, life is too short to waste time on something you don’t believe in.

I urge you to vote with your dollar and buy REAL wine.

the Vinous Aesthetics of Chardonnay: Dr. Gallolove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Oak


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February’s 29 days of Chardonnay

a collaborative project


“Dr. Gallolove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Oak.”

Authored by Michael Alberty of Storyteller Wine Company

For the past 12 years I have been in the wine business. But long before I turned pro I was a bona fide wine geek. I embraced all things cool and obscure and I quickly figured out from my various mentors what I should avoid and criticize. One of the most egregious violations imaginable would be to serve an oaky California Chardonnay to my friends. If they even saw the bottle in my house I would probably have been mocked and ridiculed.

So I learned to embrace Burgundy because hey, since they were a cooler climate and thus lower alcohol, the fruit could interact successfully with French oak barrels. Then the un-oaked, no malo craze hit America’s West Coast and it was suddenly acceptable to start drinking Chardonnay again. If it was bracing and austere, then it was hip.

But you know what? There was something missing. The other day a friend sent me some links to a bunch of YouTube videos where someone with way too much time on their hands decided to post a bunch of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden songs with just the vocals. As I sat there listening to Eddie Veddder and Chris Cornell sing a capella, it was kind of interesting but it was also missing something. There were long gaps where the power chords should be. I needed those power chords and without them my favorite songs were woefully incomplete. And I will now confess that for me personally, I want the presence of oak with my Chardonnay. My friends can mock me all they want, but life’s too short to listen to “Alive” without guitars and drums.

But that’s not the only confession I need to make. The other day a representative from Southern Wine & Spirits, the Imperial Death Star of my wine world, walked in the door with a strange looking bottle. It had two words on the label that would normally make me look for the nearest exit when placed in combination: “Gallo” and “Chardonnay.”   

“You’re kidding, right?” No the rep assured me, this was something I needed to try. It was the 2009 Gallo Signature Series Russian River Chardonnay. It clocked in at 14.6% alcohol and had sat 15 months in French and American oak barrels, most of which were probably brand new. Every conceivable warning sign in my ultra-chic wine geek brain was clanging at DEFCON 4. I knew I was going to hate it but I like to think I have an open enough mind to try just about anything (once) that someone is willing to take the time to pour for me.

I was stunned. I loved the wine. Drinking unoaked, no malo Chardonnay has been like slow dancing with someone who has 2% body fat. Sure, they can be light and nimble on their feet but the experience can also be sharp and occasionally painful. But this Gallo Chardonnay was just what I was craving. It has aromas and flavors of Golden Delicious apple skins, tropical fruit, toasted hazelnuts and butter. Yup, this dance partner had some meat on its bones and still managed to be beautifully balanced. Creamy and dreamy, with all the holes filled in quite nicely with oaky power chords. 

This Gallo experience drilled home for me something I’m always lecturing customers about, which is to drink what you like. If you like an oaky Chardonnay then be proud and drink loud. And it also reminded me how much dogmatic thinking there is in my line of work. Sadly, if you spend too much time worrying about what’s hip or cool, you may just miss something genuinely delightful. So thank you Gina Gallo for making a wine that allowed me to stop worrying about my image and  freed me to hug the oak barrels when it comes to Chardonnay.

Michael Alberty
Head Storyteller

Storyteller Wine Company is a small band of wine pirates holed up in South Portland’s John’s Landing neighborhood…After nearly twenty-some years of wandering in the wilderness, I have been lucky enough to move my family back to where we came from, beautiful Oregon. Follow me as I go out and find great wines that have an interesting story to tell. I also found a lot of boring, “corporate” wines that may have had a cute animal label and slick marketing but the story behind it was as soulless as the juice in the bottle. I look forward to being an advocate for good wines that tell an interesting story about where they come from. These will be wines where the passion of the winemaker and the fruits of their skills are evident in every glass. I truly believe that behind every great bottle of wine there’s an even better story.

Sign up for Storyteller’s electronic newsletter where Michael conveys what the wines taste like in a way that will let you know if they are your style or not. Hopefully the stories we tell will also give you a sense of the wine’s place and make you feel as if you were sipping the wine side-by-side with the winemaker or the vineyard workers.

Storyteller Wine Co.
5511-B SW Hood Avenue
Portland, OR 97239

the Vinous Aesthetics of Chardonnay: Getting Personal, or It’s hard out there for a Chard…


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February’s 29 days of Chardonnay

a collaborative project


Getting Personal, or It’s hard out there for a Chard…

Authored by Kaitlin Ohlinger

Your task, should you choose to accept it:

guess the Chardonnay producing regions by the personal ads.

Region #1
Region #2
Region #3

Acronym Guide:

ISO: in search of
BBW: big beautiful woman
ASL: age/sex/location
LTR: long term relationship
SWF: single white female
WAA: will answer all
Domme: Dominant female
FS: financially stable
WTR: willing to relocate
D/D: drugs/disease
Tweet your answers to @winesnobsc

Thanks for playing!

Bio: Kaitlin Ohlinger is the General Manager of a funky little wine bar in Columbia, SC, and blogs about her wine obsessions at  A misplaced Yankee, she has a degree in Studio Art from The University of Vermont, which gets put to good use taking pictures of wine bottles with her iPhone.  Like most wine nerds, she favors a dry Rose over most other wines, if backed into a corner.  She loves to travel, but loves coming home more.  She’s extremely fond of her family, work family, friends, and so many awesome wine-centric customers at the restaurant.  Boo-yah!

the Vinous Aesthetics of Chardonnay: Allie Merrick’s Ode to Chardonnay


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February’s 29 days of Chardonnay

a collaborative project


ode to chardonnay
Authored by Allie Merrick

it was many and many a year ago
with a bottle of chardonnay
that a first fell in love
with wine in a whole new way

before this bottle
i swore an oath
to drink just red
and never both

red for me
was nearly ideal
i’d have it with
every single meal

when i dine
it just made sense
to drink red wine

then one day
i was poured a wine
in a home
that wasn’t mine

what filled my glass
wasn’t red
not even pink
but white instead

not wanting to offend
and come across as rude
i swirled the glass a bit
and shifted focus to my food

the focus never came
as i became distracted
it was to the aromatics
of the wine that i reacted

bright, steely notes
swirled and sped as i sat up
inhaling with intention
in attempt of keeping up

sipped and savored layers
of flavor streaking by
breathing in each nuance
i exhaled with a deep sigh

“what just happened”
i asked out loud
of the nearby crowd

“it’s chardonnay”
someone said
i grabbed the bottle
and then i read

it was indeed
but i’d never
had one taste that way

had i known
it could be like this
like an angel’s tear
like first love’s kiss

like heaven’s mist
and morning’s dew
like promises
and oaths held true

i would have never
turned away
and silenced a wine
with so much to say

speaking of which
here’s what it said
as i now hungered
for what it fed

while i’m not red
like cabernet
much like pinot
i have much to say

while i don’t shout
but whisper by choice
you’ll find there’s value
in my voice

i speak from vines
of burgundy
from a place
that’s called chablis

i carry with me
little weight
but substance
that will satiate

forward fruit
that will not bend
my acidity
knows no end

you’ll find that i
am beautifully brisk
worthy of one
taking a risk

the chardonnay
had made its case
and with it
built a solid base

on my palate
that now craved
for which i raved

cheers to you
may more explore
what you have to say

Allie Merrick is the co-host of My Wine Words (,

the NW Wine Correspondent for Northwest Wines To You (

and creative contractor under her own label Allie Merrick Inc (

Follow her on twitter @alliemerrick