First Impressions: 2005 Bodega Del Desierto Cabernet Franc 25/5

Wine Review: 2005 Bodega Del Desierto Cabernet Franc 25/5 (Argentina, La Pampa, Alto Valle del Río Colorado)

Before I get into this review I want to give you a sense of what motivates me to pick up a bottle of wine when I’m at a wine store.  First and foremost: the region.  I usually start in the California/Washington State/Oregon region, meander my way along the French, Italian and Spanish wines (pausing to check out the German and Austrian offers), pausing at the Australian and New Zealand section (I cannot impress upon you enough the importance of buying Australian wines, they are just BRILLIANT) and finally, I always seem to end up spending most of my time in the South American area, featuring wines from Argentina and Chile.

You could say that Terroir is my major motivating factor; and you’re probably correct.  I love all wine regions, but I have a special fondness for wines produced from grapes in the Mendoza region of Argentina. 

The second thing that motivates me to pick up a bottle is the varietal.  While I do enjoy whites and rosé; my love of red wine is overpowering.  My two favorite varietal are Malbec and Cabernet Franc.

So enamored am I with these two grapes that I actually purchased two vines (one of each) to attempt to grow in my garden.  (I’m planting Cab Franc #01 and Malbec #08 Freedom Rootstock vines, ordered from http://www.mypersonalvineyard.com ).  I don’t really expect to make any wine from these plants, I’d just like to learn a little about viticulture.

So, there I was at our local wine store, staring at a bottle of 2005 Bodega Del Desierto’s version of Cab Franc.  I flip the bottle over to get an idea of the alcohol content (referred to as “heat level” by some of my wine-nut friends) and it’s a screaming 14.8%!!  That’s about the level of alcohol as you’ll find in a Zinfandel (some vintages of which are, in the words of Monty Python: “…not a wine for drinking, this is a wine for laying down and avoiding. 

Cab Franc is generally used as a “blending” wine, it’s lighter and less tannic than a Cab Sauv and is known for it’s pepperish notes and fruity/tobacco aromas.  My favorite Cab Francs are grown on Long Island, New York; and the few I’ve had from France lacked the “finesse” that I’ve gotten used to from LI wines.

Not that I really know what I’m talking about, when it comes to finesse mind you: but I like my vitis vinifera and this Bordeaux blend is one of my favorites.

So, I see this bottle, about $14 US price point, it’s a Cab Franc and it’s from Argentina…of course I had to buy it.

And here’s how it tasted:

Color (8/10)
Dull clarity, medium depth, ruby red color is exactly what you’d expect in a Cab Franc and that’s what I see here.  The edges fade to violet slowly revealing it’s thinness.  I scored this one a 8 because it get’s 5 for looking the way I’d expect a Cab Franc to look (based on my very limited experience)...in other words, it’s not pink like a Rosé, but it’s not purple like a Merlot.  It gets 3 more points for it’s apparent lack of sediment (although, I just opened the bottle and didn’t decant it: so it might end up with crystals all over the bottom). I’d call this a bright rusty color, much like the previously mentioned gemstone.  Anyway, it’s a nice looking wine.

Nose (27/30)
I loved the nose when I first opened it: it expressed lots of dusty green peppers, toasty raspberry fruit and a little bit of sweet tobacco: BUT, I only scored this a 27 because there’s something between that sweet and pepper smell that merges into a hint of sour.  I’m struggling to describe this: I want to say licorice but that’s not quite right; maybe old leaves is closer to what I’m getting below the fruit.  I liked this a lot: a Cab Franc always grabs me by the nose and makes me smile, but I have to be honest about that slight old leaf thing going on there: it’s not corked; this was something the wine-maker wanted: but this is the “earthy” flavor that usually gets masked in blending.  I like this, don’t get me wrong: but not when it’s this sour. Also: I don’t want to give the impression that this was overwhelming…but I’m trying to score objectively here, and while this wine is fantastic, it’s worthy of a 27.

Palate (37/40)
I have to digress a minute here and talk about a fruit called Blackcurrant.  Ever hear of this berry?  You don’t see them much in the United States, unless of course you live in New England.  We have these berry bushes all over the place: the birds love them…but as for eating, we prefer our blueberries.  As kids, we used to munch on these, but they are so sharply sweet, that we ended up spitting them out a lot.  They can’t hurt you: but since we’re filthy with blueberry bushes where I live (I have two growing in my yard that we pick from in August for muffins and pancakes) we usually avoid the harder, more tangy blackcurrants.

In wine tasting, blackcurrant is reserved for those wines that have a sharp sweetness to them, and this is what I love most about Cab Franc.  In the mouth, the first taste you get is the distinct flavor of blackcurrant, and it brings me back to my childhood camping trips at Camp Child in Plymouth, MA.

There’s also a slightly chalky (not tannic) mouth feel here: with an ample body to this wine.  It has a solid structure with a short astringency that doesn’t overpower the sweetness of the fruit.  The finish is a bit hot, with notes of black pepper and a little bit of cinnamon in there somewhere.

I really liked this wine a lot, but there was a warm alcoholic afterglow (not the effect, I’m talking the taste) that I wish was toned down a bit.  I’m scoring this a 37.

Overall (19/20)
For an overall score, I’m giving this a 19.  Yeah, yeah, yeah: I know what you’re saying “But Steve” (this is what I imagine you’re saying) “your color, nose and palate scores weren’t this high individually.

That’s because this wine is really well balanced.  This is a wine I could eat with Pizza, Steak, or even the Pork Roast I’m cooking tonight (I wrote this at 5:30 at night, just after I recorded a video where I gave my first impressions). 

Total: 8+27+37+19= 91

This is a great Cab Franc, from one of my favorite wine regions.  It’s not as light as the Long Island reds that I’ve had, but very nice just the same (and interestingly enough: a few dollars cheaper than those Cab Francs I’ve had on the North Fork).

The 2005 Bodega Del Desierto Cabernet Franc 25/5 from La Pampa, Alto Valle del Río Colorado in Argentina. Get it, pour it, savor and enjoy.



The Beauty of How Everything in the Physical Universe Will End

Tonight I was sitting outside, under a Waxing Gibbous 96% of full Moon, and I got to thinking about how the universe is going to end.  This isn’t a depressing notion, mind you: in fact, as I sat there with my F=12.5 mm telescope eyepiece jammed up against my right eyeball, I found great comfort in the knowledge that everything and everyone I have ever loved will face the exact same fate: “heat death”.

The atoms which comprise this body I inhabit are only borrowed.  They were born of stars originating 13.7 billion years ago.  I’m grateful that they were created in the fires of distance stars and that they managed to merge together into the living Homo Sapien that I’ve been lucky enough to become.

But the ultimate fate of the universe from which those atoms were created will one day grow very dark and cold.  Most of the evidence to this fact is based on measurements of the rate of universal expansion and mass density.  We now know that the universe is expanding (and that expansion is getting faster) but the fact is that it’s going to continue to expand, until every single atom in every single physical object is as far away from each other as is impossible to imagine.  This seems comforting to me somehow.

Think about this for a minute.  See that fingernail on your right hand thumb?  Pick any two atoms of carbon from the very tip of that nail, and there will come a day that those two tiny bits of matter will be billions of light years apart from each other and static in space.  In other words, they’ll be far away and unmoving.

How’s that for cool?

Here is the undisputable fact: The universe will fade to black, cold nothingness in 1,000,000,000,000,000 years.  This so called “heat death” is the “final state” of all matter: it’s inevitable and inescapable.  If the last human being was to stand on the last floating rock in the universe in the last few million years before this final “heat death”, she would look to the sky (it would have to be a woman, men couldn’t possibly survive without blowing each other up) and see: NOTHING: just a black inky zero.

Need another example?

Imagine you had a bag of marbles and you dumped it on the floor.  Those marbles would bounce, roll and hit each other for a while before coming to a stop.  The same is true of all matter.  Everything bounces, rolls and stops.  Welcome to the "Heat Death" of the universe.

All matter in the universe will one day reach a state of “maximum entropy” where there is no longer any motion of any kind; forever.  Sit around a ga-zillion years after that moment, and everything would look exactly the same: no movement, no energy: no potential for energy: NOTHING. 

There’s a certain kind of beauty in that image; and it’s the spiritual and religious side of me that really finds this ultimate unmoving state of the universe fascinating and appropriate.

I don’t claim to understand the way that God intercedes in the Universe; although I believe He is the greatest poet of all Creation (and we’re all part of His greatest poem).  I believe that the Word become Flesh, and I understand why He had to die on a cross (although I struggle with some of the mysteries, but then I’m no theologian ); but with only 5,000,000,000 years to go until the Earth dies in a solar explosion, scattering our clumpy ashes across and around the Milky Way Galaxy…we need not worry too much about the fate of the Universe, as humanity will no longer exist well before that cold, dark day.

With this understanding of the fate of all things doesn’t it boggle the mind as to why we fight and kill each other in wars?

Why can’t we just wait it out as we’ll all go together in the Universal Heat Death of the universe?

I sat under the beautiful New England Spring sky tonight, looking up at the cold, dusty-dead moon in the sky and contemplated what Buzz Aldrin called its magnificent desolation.

I think I like where God is going with this epic poem of His. 

 - Steve


Wine Review: 07 Jean-Luc Colombo Cotes du Rhone (FR) Les Abeilles

Everyone who knows I’m “into” wine likes to talk to me about certain varietals: Cabernet SauvignonCabernet FrancMerlotPetit VerdotMalbec and Carménère.  If we ever meet (and I really hope that we do) and should the opportunity arise (and if you’re a wine drinker…I like coffee as well by the way, so no need to imbibe) I would savor, with you, a glass of the aforementioned varietals.

But as much as I love (slobber over) Bordeaux, I’m kind of a Cotes du Rhone nut.

Cotes due Rhone (aka Banks of the Rhone) is an “Appellation d’Origine Controlee” (AOC) wine region established in 1650.  It’s a subset of the Rhone wine region (note to all who will drink wine with me: I AM A RHONE FREAK, thank you).  This is an area in the Southern Mediterranean that dates back to the Roman occupation (as my family is half Italian, I’ve got a healthy appreciation for the area). 

Ever hear for Saint Valentine?  The guy was an actual “Saint” of the Church of which I am affiliated (Roman Catholic) and his relics (bones) were brought to this region in 1868 in hopes that it would protect the vines from the Phylloxera of 1866 (French wine freaks like me lament over this period of wine history).

Saint Valentine appeared to help Cotes du Rhone, as tonight’s tasting clearly demonstrates.

This is a 2007 Jean-Luc Colombo Cotes du Rhone Les Abelilles, being tasted in honor of the fact that at 3:50 AM seventeen years ago I was in a baby delivery room in Worcester, Massachusetts watching my wriggling little boy be born (one of the most momentous moments of my life by the way). 

So let’s get sipping (and much to my wife’s chagrin: SLURPING)

Color (8/10)

This wine is translucently purplish in color with berry tones.  This is a Cote du Rhone for summer afternoons where the sun will shine through the glass illuminating your hand with a bright violet glow.  I score this an 8 because it deserves it.  This is just a shade darker than a Pinot.

Nose (26/30)
Chocolate cherry, strawberry goodness.  I’m getting light notes of Hershey’s dark chocolate, but it’s not overpowering the fruit.  I’m giving this a 26.

Palate (38/40)
Light body, Pepper finish; this isn’t a complex wine.  I decanted it for 20 minutes, then 40, then an hour…and it remained the same.  The grapes came from 25 year old vines.  The tasting notes talk of leather, but I didn’t get any of that. I did, however, get the spices they talked about: nothing too rich, but definitely sweet with a bite.  I went back and forth with the scoring on this; but in the end the balance won me over.  This is very well balanced: not too tart, not too sweet, not too sharp, not too dry.  Goldilocks would approve.  This was worthy of a 38 score.

Overall (17/20)
I’m scoring this low overall, relatively speaking.  Blame the nose, it should have been bursting with fruit; but it just kinda lay there in the glass (and I was drinking out of a Riedel).  I spent a looooong time rating the overall score, and I have to give it a 17.  Still, this wine is a keeper.  I think if I let it age it might be worthy of a much higher score in about 3 to 4 years; but what do I know?   I could see sticking this in a fridge for about 10 minutes before serving on a warm summer day.    

Total = 89
8+26+38+17= 89

This is a great wine, scored 89 points.  As someone who usually dabbles in Parker scores of 80ish, I’d highly recommend this one.  The price point was $12 US and well worth it.

Look for Wine the 2007 Jean-Luc Colombo Les Abeilles Cotes du Rhone.  You’ll like this one.



Intervals: a new audio podcast to run with!

This blog of mine; this “Intervals” thing, is more of a digital scrap-book.  It’s a generous mix of video (using Qik) textual essays and audio “Phlog” entries (using iPadio) to bring you content “between Phedippidations episodes”.

I really don’t know who watches, reads or listens to my ramblings: but that doesn’t really matter.  My purpose with this Intervals thing is to contribute more content to the running community network of fellow runners; and to be honest: with Intervals it’s NOT always about running.

Almost all of what I’m doing here is produced courtesy of my Motorola Droid smartphone.  I write the essays using Google Docs (and can post them directly from my phone to the Blogger site).  My Droid has QIK loaded for live video recording, and I’ve found that the iPadio service is just outstanding in many ways.

One thing these services have in common is the ability to post them to RSS (Really Simple Syndication).  A bunch of you (I’m not revealing how many, but enough that my inbox has been kinda clogged up lately, thank you very much) have asked if it is possible for me to post some of this content as a podcast.

Well, as I can’t image many of you running, reading or viewing a video: I’ve decided to submit only the audio content to iTunes as a brand-spanking new podcast.

(There is an RSS feed for the video at http://feeds.feedburner.com/SteverunnersRecentQikVideos but I can’t imagine posting these to iTunes, they’re kinda hacked together snippits).

In iTunes you’ll find the following description for the audio content of this digital scrap-book:

Intervals: Supplemental and alternative podcasting goodness from Steve Runner, host of Phedippidations: the podcast for runners at SteveRunner.com

If you use iTunes to download Phedippidations, all you need to do is execute a search for “Intervals” in the iTunes store (or navigate to Podcasts > Sports & Recreation > Amateur > Steve Runner) and you’ll have a new podcast to check out.

It’s not as slick or obsessively edited as my podcast Phedippidations: in fact, most of the time I’ll record Intervals as I drive to or from my office…but it will be a more frequent podcast offering than Phedippidations, and I’ll talk about many different things:

Wine, social networking, “new media” (can we still call it that?); baseball, life, podcast production, other podcasts and blogs, “listener email” and responses, what’s going on with my life, more wine, my puppy, thoughts opinions, observations and rambling diatribes (I bet you were wondering where THOSE went!), and even more wine. 

I’m expecting to keep this show at around 10 minutes or so (certainly no more than 15) and I’m guessing it’ll come out 2 or 3 times per week (sometimes more, sometimes less).

I hope you like it.  Think of Intervals as the rest between Phedippidations episodes.

Run long and Taper!

- Steve

Thoughts on PodCasting 2: Barriers and Rule Breaking

July third will mark my fifth year of producing my podcast, Phedippidations.  That’s not some huge, groundbreaking milestone; but it does give me a perspective that few independent podcasters have. 

I must point out, however, that Adam Tinkoff, The Zen Runner (whom everyone loves and appreciates) has been at this podcasting thing MUCH, MUCH longer than I have.  His perspective on podcasting is much deeper and more interesting than mine since he has produced independent content on a variety of topics, including: music, weight loss, health and fitness, running and even SHOCKING NEWS!

Me? I’m just the runner boy: interesting like a train wreck, goofy like the dog.

But as I wrote in my first post of this series, many of the original band of podcasters have “pod-faded”.  They’ve lost interest in this media, or found what they deem to be more important things to occupy their time.

Which is why Adam’s response to part one of this series was so perfectly correct and insightful: “I share in your nostalgia for the early days of podcasting, but the best is yet to come!” he wrote.  “Most of the great podcasters haven't shown up yet! If you're reading this, what are you waiting for? Get busy!

Adam is, of course, right….but I’d like to take it one step further.

Right now, reading this goofy little blogpost, is the NEXT great podcaster: YOU.

No Barriers to Entry

And why not?  What’s to stop you from using your computer (or cell phone), right now, to record your own podcast?  In the past five years the cost and complexity of entry into this medium has fallen dramatically.  Where before you had to concern yourself with the inner workings of audio processing, manual RSS manipulation and file formatting; today you can use FREE online services such as Talkshoe, iPadio, Posterous, Qik, UStream and YouTube, to create sharable downloadable content.

All you need is some kind of device with Internet access, and your voice (and/or video image) can be uploaded to services like iTunes and RunCast.TV for distribution around the world!

Podcasting Breaks the Rules

It might seem counter-promotional for this five year veteran of podcasting to suggest (beg) that you pick up a microphone and start producing your own “show” on the topic of running; but that’s one of the great things about podcasting: the old rules of traditional “over-the-air” commercial broadcasting does not apply here.

Prior to my foray into the world of podcasting, I worked for ten years (from 1983 through 1993) as a radio broadcast engineer.  I’ll spare you the details of my resume, except to say that I was, in the course of my brief and early career, chief engineer of the number one rock and roll (album oriented rock) radio station in Boston.  I also designed and built radio station “on-air” studios all over the world.  In the course of this work, I became well versed in the “rules” of commercial radio:

  1. Never mention the competition.
  2. Always self promote.
  3. All views and opinions must be crafted to agree with that of the audience.
  4. Listeners are peons (i.e. less deserving of dignity and respect than you).
I always found these rules to be inane and demonstrative of deep insecurities within the commercial radio universe.

But those “rules” do not apply to podcasting.  In the “pod-o-sphere” we are eager to promote other podcasts.  We have no need to self promote (you chose to subscribe, and if you don’t like it: you stop downloading the show). All thoughts, opinions, and observations are those of the producer: just as they would be in person over an ice cold Sam, or a steaming hot cup of Joe.

And, most importantly of all: Listeners are our friends: Literally.

If you’re reading this and have ever thought of me as the “host” of Phedippidations, with a large and expanding audience of devoted listeners; then you’ve missed the whole point of my “show”.  It doesn’t matter if I have 10 or 10,000 “listeners”, what matters is how many FRIENDS I have.

See: the REAL goal in podcasting is to make as many friends as you can.

So, if you find the idea of making MANY friends all over the world who share a passion for our sport of running, and if you like the idea of breaking old-media traditional rules: then you should seriously consider producing your own podcast.

As I approach the fifth year of my own goofy little show; I can think of no better way to celebrate than to listen to the voices of friends who might lend their voices to our network of fellow runners.

You are the next great podcaster; and you have many friends around the world who would very much like to run with you.

In the words of the great Zen Runner himself: “If you're reading this, what are you waiting for? Get busy!


Thoughts on PodCasting 1: Where Have All the Podcasters Gone?

This is the first in a series that I'll write, leading up to the 5th Anniversary of my podcast: Phedippidations; on July 3rd.

I am not writing this from the perspective of someone who has “weathered the storm” or who is an authority on this subject based on my almost five years of experience.  Every once in a while someone will send me an email wherein I’m referred to as the “podfather of running podcasts”, and while I appreciate the kind thoughts and words: I can’t accept the title or position.

I’m not being humble here, just realistic.  

Mine is just one of MANY great podcasts on the topic of running; and it would be untruthful and disrespectful of the running community of new media producers to attribute such accolades to my podcast: Phedippidations.

So, while I appreciate the sentiment, I’ll ask you to consider that my show isn’t groundbreaking or worthy of note.  Even those Peoples Choice Podcast Awards that I’ve been nominated for (and in one case won) over the years were suspicious in origin.  What does it mean to win an award in New Media?  Isn’t it true that what might appeal to some will be considered inane and uninteresting by many others?

(That was a rhetorical question there, the answer is YES: not everyone is going to love Phedippidations; and that’s okay!)

But now I’ve been at this for five years, and I think it’s worth spending a few kilojoules in typing out my thoughts on what podcasting means to me.

To start, I’d like to ask this question: Where Have All the Podcasters Gone?

See, to me the voices of podcasters are the voices of friends; and I feel like I’ve lost a bunch of friends over the past few years, as podcasts (and therefore, podcasters) are beginning to “podfade”.

I’ll spare you the detailed list, but there are well over two dozen podcasts that I used to listen to regularly (and looked forward to constantly) that are no longer in production.

And perhaps, more important than the question of “Where did they go?” is “WHY did they go?”

Was it because the “promise” of “Fame and Fortune” didn’t work out for them?  Were they tired of their side of the conversation?  Had they run out of ideas for episodes?  Was their professional and family life in conflict with their show?  Did they no longer have time to podcast?

These are the questions (and excuses) that come up from time to time; and it saddens me that these producers no longer produce the amazing content that they once had or took time to create.

This is NOT to say that the “Pod-O-Sphere” is suffering from lack of voices.  When I spoke about this in a recent iPadio Phlog, the great Adam “Zenrunner” Tinkoff tweeted back at me: “I share in your nostalgia for the early days of podcasting, but the best is yet to come!”.

As usual, Adam is right.  New podcasters enrich the deepening ocean of interesting audio content that listeners like me enjoy diving into.

But still, I miss the voices of people who I have come to consider friends.  This calls to mind the strange and happy nature of this new media: where I can consider someone who produces audio content to be my “friend” despite the fact that I’ve never met them, never spoken to them, never written to them and generally never contacted them at all.

But that’s not to say that I feel as if I don’t know them.  I know them very well, as I’m sure many of you know me.  And if we WERE to meet, in person and share some time together: on the road, at a pub or in a coffee shop; the encounter would be all the more meaningful because you’d know so much about me, giving us time for me to get to know you.

See, THAT’S the cool thing about this podcasting stuff: it’s not about audiences, it’s about friends.  It’s not about becoming rich and famous; it’s about hearing other ideas and perspectives. 

Podcasting is about developing tolerance for each other: people who have the topic of the podcast in common (in our case: running) yet can disagree on so many other topics (politics, religion, wine, baseball, or Nike).

Today, I subscribe to an ever-expanding list of podcasts (click on the image in this post to see what I’m currently subscribed to), some old; some new…some professional, some independent. 

I prefer the independent shows because, to me, they are the voices of friends: some of whom I may never meet, and few of whom I’ll ever agree with…but I’m learning to respect other peoples positions and perspectives every day as I listen to these people whom I consider “friends”.  THEY are making ME a better person.

And to those who have hung up their microphones, I hope they’re all happy, healthy and living their lives to the top.

Run long and taper!


Wine Review: 07 Cantina Zaccagnini Riserva (Italy)

Bless me Father for I have sinned.  That’s how I usually begin the sacrament of confession; unless the attending Priest knows me well enough to begin the ritual himself with an exasperating “Okay Stephen, what did you do THIS time?

I confess, to YOU fellow runners, that I know about as much about Italian wines as I do about properly hydrating for a marathon (which, if my last Boston is any indication: means I know just enough to be dangerous).  This might seem surprising to those of you who know that I am of half Scottish decent on my Father’s side, and half Italian on my Mothers side (my grandparents having immigrated from Pontecorvo, a small town and commune in the southern province of Frosione, Lazio Italy), but my ignorance of Italian wine remains.

Wine was always a part of my family culture, on my Italian side; as my Great-Grandmother Emma Fraioli would cook ENORMOUS Sunday dinners for our ENORMOUS Italian family, complete with multiple courses of ham, cheese followed by handmade pastas and sauces (she called it gravy) and fish or meat of some kind.  Wine was featured throughout; and yes: they were all Italian wine, some of which was grown and produced by my Great Grandfather Antonio.

So, when my wife and I were in the local wine shoppe (two “p”s and an “e”, so it had to be good!) and she picked out a bottle of 2007 Cantina Zacagnini il vino “dal tralcetto” montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($17 US, Wind Advocate rating 90-95); I was kinda excited to give it a taste.

This is a 750ms standard bottle with 13% alcohol and is described as:

“Deep garnet-purple color.  Ripe cherry and tobacco leaf aromas with a touch of game.  Medium-full body with a good concentration of fruit and a medium to high level of balancing acidity.  Medium level of grainy tannins.  Long finish.” 

The bottle comes with an off white label, cork top with a string of grape vine adorning it’s front and a two inch segment of grape branch tied on it’s front as a bow.

Blah, blah, blah, sure: what-evah…I’m here to taste the stuff and give you this runner’s opinion (for what it’s worth).

But remember, before we begin: I know very little about Italian wines, and I’m a total wine GEEK. 

Here’s all I know about Italian wine.  Please don’t blink or you’ll miss it:

Piedmont in the north, home of Docetto; The Tre Venezie in the north east, home of Prosecco, Bardolino, Valpolocella and Soave (but even my dog Indy knows THAT); Emilia-Romagna north of Florence (my favorite city so far, in Europe, not that I’ve been to many mind you) known for Lambrusco (remember Reunite on ice?  Yeah: THAT Lambrusco) Tuscany (my favorite wine region, home of Chianti, Brunello and Montepulciano), Umbria in mid-Italy, home of Orvieto, Sicily (in the south, the TOE of Italy’s boot) home of Marsala and that’s what I know about Italian wine.

Maybe some of you are impressed; but you shouldn’t be.  See, I’ve BEEN to some of these regions, I READ everything about wine: you know me as a runner, but wine is yet another major passion of mine that I try not to bore you with (except with these reviews) so…I should know what I'm talking about with regards to this region.  But, sadly I know almost nothing about Italian wines.

Enough of my yapping, let’s get into it.

Color (9/10)

Deep rich, frothy purple.  I decanted this into a glass decanter and as it poured the color really revealed itself, just a perfect glow of ripe plum (you know what I mean, right?  That deep dark juicy color that’s got a little blue in it: but not as dark as say a malbec…just agree with me: I’m not that great of a wine geek, but I know my wine colors…I had to study the resistor color codes in electrical engineering circuit theory class back in college.  This one I give a 9.  It’s a beautiful wine.

Nose (28/30)

WOW, I’m stunned at how good this is.  Sweet candy cherry Yubba-Bubba bubble gum, but not as tart with hints of leather and baseball mitt sweat (that’s a good thing) this is lightly fruit forward on the nose but not overpowering; I took my first wiff and BAM I was in love, I let it decant for 30 minutes, drew another pour and it was even better when it opened up.  Me likee. I’m giving it a score of 28 points.

Palate (38/40)

Medium bodied for sure, but not as full bodied as Wine Advocate says it is, but that’s a good thing because it makes it a good summer wine (mouth feel is not as thick as, say, a syrah or a malbec).  Flavor notes were rich and complex; tiny bit of good sour on the back of the mouth, but a nice light dryness (not “merlot dry”, but just a hint of chalk on the back end).  The finish is sublime (yes, I know what that means…I wasn’t just searching for an impressive word).  Remember that song by C+C Music Factory “Things that Make you Go Hmmm…” this is definitely one of THOSE things (in a good way).  This gets a score of 38 points from me.

Overall (18/20)

This was such a great wine; and for me: a Robert Parker Jr. devotee Bordeaux nut Malbec freak….that’s saying a lot.  I know I should be well versed in Italian wines, I should be able to rattle off good vintages and everything that makes a Super Tuscan “super”; but this Cantina Zaccagnini Riserva both took me by surprise and knocked my socks off (okay, I was barefoot as I drank this…but that’s more information than you needed to know).

Overall, taking into consideration how well balanced this wine was, how it developed over decanting, the sweet, rich nose and the delicious medium texture, light dryness (tannins were not overpowering and certainly not as grainy as reported by the Advocate) I have to score this a solid 18, overall.


9+28+38+18= 93

So there you have it, 93 points for the 2007 Cantina Zaccagnini Riserva from Italy.  A fantastic wine that you MUST find, and hide from your loved ones!!  (No one deserves it more than YOU do!!)

Of course, my wife has a much better palate than I do, so I’m at her mercy…and I’m starting to wonder if she has some of this wine hidden somewhere?



- Steve


Heal Thyself

There’s an interesting behavioral quirk that many runners nurse and foster over the years, myself included.  We develop this need to seek acceptable answers to our medical questions which meet our demanding requirements, rather than submit to the expertise of our own doctors.

Case in point: if our doctor tells us not to run, we seek a more lenient recommendation.

It typically takes at least eleven years to become a medical doctor: four years of college, four years of medical school and three years of residency work in a hospital. Depending on the specialty, some doctors may have to complete an eight year residency program.

A part of the modern version of the Hippocratic Oath, that every medical doctor takes reads as follows:  

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of over-treatment and therapeutic nihilism, that is, skepticism as to the value of any treatment.

From this it is clear that most doctors are fully dedicated to the treatment of their patients.  The great majority of these professionals have accepted the incredibly hard work needed to achieve their position as caregivers.  They’ve taken this sacred oath to administer the best possible medical treatment and advice, to their patients.

As such, the most common recommendation given, upon diagnosis of a running related injury, is almost always going to be: STOP RUNNING.

It’s not that they mean us ill will.  There is no secret society of medical practitioners who assemble each year to discuss how to bring upon the demise of the worlds running community.

There are no secret files hidden away in subterranean medical libraries listing the strategies intended to keep you off the road.

Still, there is something about runners that prevent us from accepting the medical recommendation “not to run”.  One friend of mine insisted on consulting with doctor after doctor until he found one who would not deny him his daily miles.

But there are some treatments which you can self administer to relive pain and return you to the road more healed than you’d be were you to sit on the COUCH OF DOOM and wait for a medical miracle or charlatan prescription of quackery based pseudo medical therapy.

Always trust in science and medical doctors who understand the efficacy of accepted therapy.  Avoid new age “alternatives” to medicine unless there is clear and unambiguous scientific proof that they work (and are more effective than doing nothing).  There are many alternative medical therapies that rely on (or are no more successful than) the placebo effect; but they will not help you return to the road more safely than proven medical therapies and the advice of your doctor.

Anti-inflammatory agents such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can be used to reduce soft tissue swelling and, yes you guessed it, inflammation!  Be careful not to take too much of these pain killers, and avoid drinking alcohol with them.

Aqua running, that is: running in a pool, is a great alternative for injured runners.  It permits the usual running motion and continued training without the stress of impact.  Furthermore, by using the resistive properties of water you actually train with over 800 times the resistance that running in air will afford.  You’ll probably want to wear a flotation device to keep your upper body afloat.

Cryotherapy is a fancy term for “icing” an injury.  You’ll hear runners use the term “RICE” which stands for “Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation”.  Simply put, for most running injuries, you’ll want to take at least some time off, apply ice to any swelling or inflammation for 15 minutes on and off (which constricts the blood vessels of your tissue and allows fresh blood to move in when warmed), apply light compression with an elastic wrap and elevate the leg above the level that your heart is at to allow the blood flow to move away from the injury, reliving you from inflammation and pain.

Heat Therapy is used only after ice therapy.  Where ice constricts blood vessels, heat dilates them increasing blood flow and white blood cells to the injured area.  Heat can also reduce the occurrence of muscle spasms.

Massage is a form of therapy that encourages the flow of healing nutrients through the blood to injured areas, and also can flush your muscles of lactic acid which can cause pain.  It also just feels good.

Bicycle therapy is simply using a stationary bike in lieu of running for a while.  As you’re resting fro running, riding a bike can give you the aerobic exercise you crave while working many of the same muscles you use while running.  This isn’t as good as aqua running, but it’s certainly more convenient.

If you are injured, I know better than to tell you to give up running, but my non-medical advice to you is to try to be patient. If you’re like me (and I happen to know that you are) you want to be running when you’re eighty years young and older.  The only way to achieve that goal is to give the tested and true healing powers of your body a chance to “do their thing”, using the advances of medical science to promote good health: all the while taking charge of our recovery through the self treatments recommended to us by our doctors and made available to us as we work to heal ourselves.


Run Net Community Directory Proposal and a Question

I’d like to propose that we nominate RNC members to be “managers of the directory” that is, that we try to gather at a minimum: 2 and at a maximum: 100 (it probably don’t matter how many we have included) fellow runners who could be “in charge” of maintaining the directory of “RNC nodes” that will be listed.

We can talk about who will do what and so forth later, but for now there's a much BIGGER question.

We need some kind of a medium to list these nodes (lists of items/links).  One example of how this has been done before is seen here: http://www.podcastdirectory.com which is a fairly simple page by page listing of categories and subcategories per page.

Ideally, if we were to use this simple method of maintenance, we would need “directory managers” to be able to maintain one (or more) directories (and possibly tree segments).

I don’t know the best way to create this.  Maybe we could use Wordpress or Blogger to host the pages/subpages (directories/sub-directories); but I’m open to all suggestions.

QUESTION: What is the best way to host and manage a hierarchical directory tree that would allow sub-managers to maintain portions of the tree?

For example (and I’m just using names here so we can have the conversation, I’m not suggesting any kind of a manager org chart here).

Nigel might be the manager of the Podcasting directory.
Phil might be the manager of the Video directory.
Kevin might be the manager of the Blogging directory.

These three directories might fall under the: New Media Sub Category, managed by Steve Chopper.

Toni might be the manager of the RNC root object.

So, Toni is in charge of what subcategories we have in the RNC directory.

Steve Chopper might be in charge of what sub categories fall under the “New Media” container.

And Nigel, Phil and Kevin each are in charge of what goes into their respective directories (for example, a new podcaster contacts Nigel when he would like his show listen OR Nigel learns about a new podcast and adds it himself…and he removes podcasts that have gone away and have no content available).

SO, knowing that this is an oversimplified proposal, and knowing that there are some RNC members who are sensitive to the idea of such a directory (but feeling that there’s a real and important value to maintaining such a directory), what do others think about this?

I’ll ask the question again, because it’s a big one: What is the best way to host and manage a hierarchical directory tree that would allow sub-managers to maintain portions of the tree?

You can go here: http://groups.google.co.uk/group/run-net-community to join the discussion.  We'd very much appreciate your opinions on this...because, after all, this is YOUR community!

Run long and taper.

- Steve