Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Review of ALFA ROMEO 8C COMPETIZIONE: Only a concept?

Originally submitted at Autoweek.com

Only a cruel man, versed in wheelmanship, would have built a blind left-hand corner as tough as this one. A tall Armco wall blocks the sightline of the apex curb, and you can't see the sweeping right-hander you'll have to negotiate almost immediately by flicking the car the other way, but that's ha...


Think it through.

By JokeIII from miami, fl on 11/29/2007

 

4out of 5

Pros: Engaging, Easy To Understand

Cons: Lacks Information

Best Uses: Casual Reading, Staying Informed

Some things we need to understand:

This car was sold out wa-a-a-ay before anyone had even hinted at its driving characteristics, i.e. it was sold out on its looks alone.

At a quarter mill. a pop, it means it's going in the garages of people who know a thing or two about making a buck, so it's going there for a reason. Clearly that reason is not performance (by my reasoning, a 4.7L version of the corporate V8 could easily put out 550hp) which is very, very good, albeit probably the slowest sports car in price bracket. As near as I can figure it, it's merely a somewhat lighter/more powerful/prettier version of the outgoing Maserati Coupe. Instead, the reason it has been sold out is collectibility...again, based on looks alone.

Put it this way, 500 have sold and, even if I had the cash to spare without selling off one of my kids, I wouldn't know where to sign up for one. Alfa Romeo does not care AT ALL what normal people think of this car. (They would have offered it with a proper gearbox if they did.)

In sum: This car is nothing more than fanfare and halo effect for its "real cars" with which it has exactly nothing in common. It's purpose is only to get people talking excitedly about Alfa Romeo cars. That's it.

Don't think of it as a car, think of it as an ad campaign with wheels and an engine.

(legalese)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

For immediate, or earlier, release

Vinapedia.net takes on the Absurdities of the 100-point Scale

New Wine Website Calls for a "Wine Ratings System for the Rest of Us"

STUDIO CITY, Calif., November 28, 2007—
Vinapedia.net (www.vinapedia.net), a new educational website launched to help people learn wine basics, today posted "100 Pointless," which takes on and lampoons the absurdities of the 100-point wine ratings scale.

"The 100-point scale is like the Wizard of Oz. Yank back the drapes and it's really just a timid, elderly baritone," says "100 Pointless" author, J.M Garcia III.

In his inimitable mock-high-fallutin' style, Garcia points out that the 100 point system is effectively a 30 point system, because anything below 70 is undrinkable and everyone knows it. Furthermore, Garcia suggests, the ideal range for most authentic, regional, food-pairing wines is 85-89. Anything higher and you get a fruit, oak and/or tannin bomb that will pair well with only a narrow range of heart-stopping cuisine. He recommends a simplified, 5-level system more suited to the average palate.

"Wine, to me, is not about superlatives in a vacuum," Garcia continues. "It is about superlatives that can harmonize with the gamut of human sensations, not just those sensations that pair well with medium-rare USDA Prime Beef."

"Besides," says Michael Mattis,
Vinapedia.net's proprietor, "Robert Parker might be able to tell the difference between a 96 and a 97 but most everyone else would not only be stumped, we couldn’t care less. It's high time we called the old system into question and begun to think about a new system — one for the rest of us."

About J.M. Garcia III
J.M. Garcia III writes
Vinapedia.net's premier column, "The Oenophiliac." When not challenging people's assumptions about wine, Garcia serves as executive vice president of a strategy consulting firm in Miami , Florida . In addition to wine, he collects cars, watches and fountain pens, and searches in vain for the perfect tailor.

He is available for interviews upon request.

About
Vinapedia.net
Vinapedia.net was launched in the summer of 2007 by the admittedly novice oenophile, Michael Mattis. "I created Vinapedia.net because I'm not an authority on wine," says Mattis. "I created it so that I could learn more about something I've become passionate about and share what I've learned with others." A founding editor of Business 2.0 magazine, a freelance writer and professional blogger, Mattis currently holds the trendy title of blogster-in-chief at Yahoo! Search Marketing in Burbank , Calif.

Contact:
Michael Mattis, Proprietor
www.vinapedia.net
mike@vinapedia.net
(XXX) YYY-ZZZZ

Inquiries regarding advertising, partnership and content licensing opportunities also welcome.
Michael Mattis Writer :: Editor :: Blogster

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Just in time.

Some of you have expressed some frustration with the links to my Vinapedia.net columns. As a public service (and a special behind-the-scenes treat) here is my next column, unedited:

******

TURKEY-ISH DELIGHTS

Thanksgiving is nearly at our throats and, as this is the one holiday dedicated to the principle that one ought freely engage in lucullan self-abuse and be grateful for the opportunity, the motto of “What ought we drink?” is heard echoing throughout the top floors of Vinapedia Tower in ringing baritones.

Passersby accost us, women of a certain age and lurid disposition sidle up to us in the produce section of our local supermarkets, and incomplete foodies look upon us pleadingly. They all are aware of the searing need for Vinapedic guidance.

Which brings us – calloo, callay! -- to today, your day of potable deliverance.

In order for us to tell you what you ought drink, we must first start with whay you must specifically not drink: Beaujolais Nouveau. This is not some sort of atavistic Francophobia or anti-Gallic editorial policy or viticultural jingoism. It is based on the hard fact that Beaujolais Nouveau simply doesn’t play well with the typical Thanksgiving Day menu. The marketing wizards will tell you Beaujolais Nouveau “goes with everything.” Which is a yes-and-no proposition. It is simple enough and fruity enough and et cetera enough to not stand athwart the groaning board hurling vile abuse at your palate.

But that’s hardly a rousing endorsement, is it?

Mind you, this isn’t limited to Beaujolais Nouveau; the Usual Suspects (even when they avoid the dreaded International StyleTM) are all in trouble with the foodstuffs of gratitude. There is only one wine that has the muscle and finesse and fruit to cope well with the sage- and pepper-inflected turkey’s dark meat and white meat, and the cornbread, and the sausage-bedecked stuffing/dressing, and the gravy and the cranberries and even that thing with the green beans and the canned fried onions and condensed soup your least favorite aunt brings every year. We’re talking about Zinfandel.

Sadly, Zinfandel mostly gets recognition for “white Zinfandel” a role for which it is catastrophically ill-suited, i.e., to make a wine that is little more than a wine cooler without training wheels. No, no, no. We’re talking real Zinfandel. It even has the happy characteristic of not being one of those grapes that has been planted up one continent and down the other. It’s a cheerfully American thing, this Zinfandel.

Now, if you are having a Thanksgiving bash with 50 of your closest friends and family (several of whom might be, technically, philistines) you’ll want to pick a more accessible and affordable Zinfandel than if the party consisted of 20 or 8 sophisticates. Basically, you want something with soft tannins, cherry-berry fruit and a good spice backbone. Here are the choices depending on how colossal your festivities are.

2005 Ravenswood Winery Zinfandel Lodi ($10 street price).
If you had to pick a Zinfandel with exactly zero research – blind, if you will – your safest bet is to reach for something from Ravenswood. At any price, this is a great wine. At $10, it’s practically pointing a blunderbuss at you and demanding to be taken home. The color is a standard red, no purple and none of the rust/brick either. It has a berry brightness that is adorned with very notable spicy and mineral-ly characteristics, with a hint (just a hint, but I’m not crazy here) of citrus. Around this time you notice how deliciously unobtrusive the tannins are, lending just enough support to keep things smooth and sleek. The closer you get to the finish the more pronounced the berry thing becomes, which wraps up with a delicious cherry/spice character. Given that my Thanksgiving will consist of a medium-sized horde, I bought a case of this very thing. With the case discount, it really is an stunning bargain and will also pair up fantastically with grilled steaks. (You’re welcome.)

2005 Ravenswood Winery Zinfandel Dickerson Vineyard Napa Valley ($20)
Yes, it’s another Ravenswood. I know. But this serves to underscore my point that, if you wanted the closest thing to a “foolproof” choice, Ravenswood Zinfandels are among the finalists. This one is clear scarlet, with the usual blackberry/raspberry aromas, with a smoky/herby edge. It has a gleeful acidity and a crisp minerality. Amazing finish, with a bit more tannin than its kid brother above. Good bet for cellaring. If you can find the 2004 at a similar price, grab it and run like a bandit; the extra year will have made it even more stellar.

2005 Ridge Vineyards Geyserville Sonoma County ($30)
Ridge is another of the realibly excellent Zinfandel producers. This one is a deep red, with a bouquet of blackberries and cherries, assorted mineral-ness and herbes de Provence lifted, with hints of star anise and pepper. The body is less than you’d expect from a Zinfandel, but it’s lush and supple and the tannins just poke their heads out to say “hi.” (This is also available in half-bottles at about $18.)