Today I'm rounding out the field of featured bloggers for Taste Texas (though there are some other great bloggers that will be participating, and I will make sure and throw some love their way after the tasting). Jim Wilkerson is easily one of my favorite wine reviewers, throwing down some serious wine knowledge on his VINEgeek blog, and in a really enjoyable and approachable style. He is the founding father of Mourvèdre Monday, and I also love his free associations that he includes in each review. Jim resides in the Austin area of Texas, and was one of the first bloggers that I thought of when putting together Taste Texas.
VINEgeek: VINEgeek is about reveling in the fun of wine. For me that’s the sensory enjoyment of it and finding wine that tastes good, but also – probably more so – the cerebral fun of wine, both the academic (learning about obscure grapes, pondering the details of vineyards sites and winemaking practices) and the silly (comparing wine to comic books, movies, and Mr. T).
Vinotology: How long have you been blogging?
VINEgeek: I started the blog on a whim about a year ago. Prior to that I just drank.
Vinotology: What was the wine that changed your wine life?
VINEgeek: I first got turned on to wine on a camping trip in Arkansas. At that point I was still a post-collegiate beer drinker. But we were friends with a couple who were 6 or 8 years older than we were and they were into wine. One night, we stayed up late around the campfire drinking a couple of bottles of California Cabernet. I don’t remember the producer or vintage — I just new that I really liked this stuff and I wanted to taste more.
My second wine epiphany was a year or two later. We were on our first trip to Napa/Sonoma (with the same wine-drinking couple) and were having dinner at Bistro Ralph in Healdsburg. We ordered a bottle of Bannister Zinfandel Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley (mid-90s vintage) and I fell in love. It was the first bottle that made me care about specific vineyards and appellations.
Vinotology: What is something that readers can get from your blog that they might night find elsewhere?
VINEgeek: I try to blend the highbrow ($30 for a beverage is a luxury and is objectively ridiculous, no matter how you slice it), the lowbrow (taking pot shots at Amy Winehouse, references to Paris Hilton and stoner movies) and the geek-brow (Dungeons & Dragons, video games, the rosé wines an Imperial Stormtrooper might drink).
In terms of the kind of wine I tend to review, I skew toward the out-of-the-ordinary. I’m running a yearlong series on the Mourvèdre grape (Mourvèdre Mondays) and I have an irregularly scheduled Oddball Wine of the Week series, which has featured Lagrein, Prieto Picudo, Slovenian Tocai and others.
Vinotology: Tell me about the wine scene in your area.
VINEgeek: I wouldn’t know – I have kids. I don’t know what a scene is anymore. The scene at my house is pretty off the hook though.
Vinotology: What kind of experience have you had with Texas wine in the past?
VINEgeek: I’ve visited several wineries in the Texas Hill Country and have tasted wines from a dozen or so others. On the whole, I have not been very impressed. There have been a handful of very nice wines, but I’ve had to taste through a lot of plonk to find them. One that I really liked recently was the Vermentino from Mandola Estates, whose wines we’ll taste Thursday night. So I am hopeful to find some more winners.