Getting to Know Dezel Quillen

The man behind My Vine Spot


Not content with sporting on the epic beards in all of winedom, Dezel is also a prolific writer whose wine notes we look forward to, along with the close-ups of birds that are another of Dezel’s passions!  As we learn more about our wine friends we learn more about their palate, their approach to wine, and their preferences.  It’s a fascinating bit of voyeurism that we’re indulging in andover the years as we check in with everyone profiled here it’ll be very interesting to see how palates evolve and change. That might just be the grand takeaway from this project. A blueprint of sorts that can help others learn about wine and perhaps avoid some of the pitfalls that we’ve been prone to.

Let’s kick this week’s episode off as we get to know Dezel Quillen, the man behind MyVinespot!
Snooth: How did you get involved in wine?
D Q:  I’m a late bloomer to the wonderful world of wine. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I had a passion for it until well into adulthood. Having said that, I think I have done a pretty good job making up for lost time. For me, it all started with a job transfer from Orange County, California, to northern Virginia in late 2003. I’ve always had an interest in history, and in the spring of 2005 I decided to visit Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's abode) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Someone on my tour recommended we visit Jefferson Vineyards, which was a short distance away. This visit led to two more tasting room visits that same day. This was my first time ever visiting these “fun places” called wineries. I really didn’t know what a blog was back then either, but one night while searching for more Virginia wineries to visit on the internet, I came across a C-Ville blog and at the top of the page I saw “Start Your Own Blog” or something like that. So after several mouse clicks, I started my blog in April of 2006, purchased a cheap camera, and began to document my local wine experiences for family and friends to see. Many tasting-room visit, books, bottles, sips, tips, tasting / aroma kits, and wine friends later – the whole swirl-sniff-savor or spit ritual never gets old for me. My only regret is that I didn’t stumble upon it earlier.
Snooth: How did you get involved in wine writing?
D Q: Soon after starting my wine blog, I realized I would need to take pictures and document my experiences, so I started doing so.  For me, my interest and passion for wine has influenced my writing and photography, since I didn’t really do those things beforehand.
Snooth: Do you have any professional background in wine?
D Q: I do not. I’m a Systems Engineer by day, but it’s all things wine come 5PM (aka wine o’clock). It’s been this way since the journey began and I find wine a great substitute for television. And not just tasting wine, even though that’s the best way to learn, but getting a feel for what goes on from ground to glass – a better understanding of how the wine in your glass came to be. This is very interesting stuff to me.
Snooth: What is your favorite wine region and why?
D Q: Not trying to dodge the question, but I do not have a favorite wine region. I do lean towards cool-climate regions or warm regions with significant diurnal temperature variations. At the end of the day, I prefer harmonious wines that convey that vintage and a sense of place.
Snooth: Desert Island wine? You have to drink it for the rest of your life so let us know why this is your choice.
D Q: Tough call, but I’m going with Riesling and Pinot Noir. Both have good diversity, wonderful acidity, and the potential to be long-lived and complex. And since they're a food flexible duo, I assume they would pair well with island fare.
Snooth: Would you characterize your palate as new world, old world, or something in between? Why?
D Q: I would say something in between. I first discovered wine while catching up on some of my American history, so I have a natural interest in the history of wine. What I select to enjoy on any given day largely depends on my mood and/or food and there is room on my table for both camps. One of the first books I picked up when I got into wine suggested setting up comparative tastings for yourself and listed wines (by grape variety) to try from (traditional) old world producers along with their more modern new world counterparts. For every Cabernet Franc I had a Chinon, every Viognier I had some Condrieu, Pinot Noir / Burgundy, Malbec / Cahors, Tannat / Madiran, etc. – you get the picture. Be it new world or old world, rich or restrained, at the end of the day, it’s all about balance, and both camps offer that. My personal cellar is about 50/50.     
Snooth: What do you think of wine writing today? What do you like about it and what would you like to change?
D Q: Overall, I enjoy reading the thoughts and experiences of other wine lovers. It is generally opinion-based and we’re all enthusiasts -- be it newbie or seasoned. Additionally, year after year, there’s always something new to taste, learn, and write about, which makes it all the more exciting. As far as what I would like to see change, I would just suggest that bloggers, writers, etc. be clear, be themselves (being genuine goes a long way), and speak directly to their audience.
Snooth: What wine do you look forward to trying each year?
D Q: Without a doubt, drier rosés!
Snooth: What wine do you just not seem to like? Why?
D Q: I need to revisit (and plan to) drier, food-friendly examples of Sherry like Fino and Manzanilla. The few dates we have been on were not too favorable.  
Snooth: Recommend three wines, a red, a white, and a rose that will tell our audience the most about your palate, your likes, and your dislikes and please share a few of those likes and dislikes.
D Q:
a) Black Coyote Wines Atlas Peak Reserve 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: I have about a ½ case left and recently opened one. This is an expressive, well-structured, Cabernet Sauvignon that shows both generosity and elegance, good depth of fruit, range, and length. Its nicely integrated tannins, velvety texture, and ripe fruit flavors are supported by a firm and appealing spine of acidity. This vintage is drinking nicely now and will benefit from short-term cellaring. If you can find any 2007s, I highly recommend getting a few bottles to enjoy now and a few more to cellar.
b) Affinitas Dry Furmint: Furmint is one of the key white grape varieties used in the delicious, lip-smacking dessert wines from Tokaj (Hungary). It’s also vinified into a dry wine that largely goes under the radar here in the US. This example offers tangerine, lime peel and stone fruit aromas with some floral shades. The palate reflects the nose with good acidity and a smidgen of salinity and tanginess on the finish. You may not find this specific wine, but seek out a dry Furmint from a different Hungarian producer. Dry Furmint wines are reasonably priced (under $20), bright and food-friendly, and a good alternative white to toss in the mix this summer season.
c) Domaine De La Mordoree Tavel Rosé: This refreshing rosé has good weight and length on the palate with fleshy red fruit flavors alongside hints of mineral and perfume-like floral qualities that are balanced by good structural acidity. Tavel is an appellation in the southern Rhone of France that only produces rosé wines. These wines are often called “The reddest pink you’ll ever drink.” These wines are substantive, deeply colored, fuller-bodied, and pair wonderfully with fatty fish like salmon and tuna as well as grilled chops and barbecue chicken. Serve Tavel at the same temperature as you would a fuller-bodied Chardonnay and enjoy the brightness, texture, and vibrant flavors.  

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  • What a great read, Dezel! Love your blog and tasting notes. I had a customer in the other night at the wine bar. They wanted more info on a specific wine. When I googled the wine, I found your tasting notes on Wine Searcher, read them out loud and they bought the wine! Then they were gracious enough to offer me some of it!!! :-)

    Aug 10, 2014 at 10:00 PM

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