Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 09-23-2017

This week is another hodgepodge of wines from around the world — mostly from California and New Zealand.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

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Daily Wine News: Shifting Styles

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-22-2017

Flickr, Frank Fujimoto.

Flickr, Frank Fujimoto.

The ground is shifting in Italian wine, says Jane Anson in Decanter, who predicts the rise of new rebels focused on indigenous varieties and asks what this could mean for the Super Tuscan movement.

In the Los Angeles Times, Patrick Comiskey explores the rustic Chilean wines that seem to be gaining traction. “These are rustic, peasant wines; village wines, made for immediate consumption by farmers who tended vines passed down for generations. And as the generations passed, the vines got older, the fruit more interesting, until a new wave of Chilean winemakers and enologists discovered them.”

“As a marketing organization, the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) does an excellent job, and is of great value to our industry and our valley. But they’re tone deaf when it comes to land-use politics,” writes Stuart Smith in an op-ed in the Napa Valley Register, “generally taking the wrong side and causing consternation within our community.”

In Bloomberg, Elin McCoy looks at the extreme weather events influencing this year’s harvest around the world.

Eric Asimov recommends 20 weeknight wines for under $20 in the New York Times.

In Wine Enthusiast, Lauren Buzzeo on the charm of South African chenin blanc.

Grape Collective talks with Michel Laroche of Domaine d’Henri about his new venture and the beauty of Chablis.


In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Graydelves into Harlan’s 200-year plan.

Daily Wine News: Gamay & Grape Nerds

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-21-2017

Gamay (Flickr: dyfustifications)

Gamay (Flickr: dyfustifications)

“Pinot wants to be loved; gamay wants to fuck. It is the quintessential object of alt-desire, a sex toy for grape nerds. And that lust means we’re going to need a lot more good gamay in the world.” In Punch, Jon Bonné explores good gamay outside Beaujolais.

Jamie Goode explores how emotion affects our perception of wine. “We see emotion in tasting notes. A wine can be joyful. How? It’s an emotion. From reading tasting notes, there is ample evidence that emotion is an integral part of the perception that the writer is trying to capture verbally. Do colours have emotional content? I think so. Wines have colour.”

Food & Wine gets a look into a wine reception with the Congressional Wine Caucus, a bipartisan, bicameral group that advances the interests of America’s vast wine industry

Even with the heat and rain, 2017 has been better than previous years for California’s Temecula Valley, says Jaime Lewis in Wines & Vines.

Demand for wines bottled under cork in China is driving some producers to return to the closure according to Jordi Duran of Spanish cork producer Trefinos.

In Vinous, Josh Raynolds shares his impressions of the 2014 and 2015 Gigondas vintages. “Followed as they are by the often monumental, soon-to-be-legendary 2015s, the 2014s, from a generally difficult vintage, are bound to suffer by comparison…”

In Decanter, William Kelley gives his initial view on how the Burgundy 2017 vintage.

In Forbes, Thomas Pellechia looks at a recently released list of the top ten wine distributors in the U.S.

Daily Wine News: The Anchoring Effect

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-20-2017



“Why do many people believe a run-of-the-mill Napa Cabernet is a bargain at $35, while a single-vineyard Victoria Shiraz is expensive at the same price?” On his blog, W. Blake Gray explores the psychological phenomena known as the anchoring effect and how it correlates to wine.

Tardif, a “long lost” wine grape has been listed on the official French register amid claims that it could help winemakers to withstand the effects of climate change. Chris Mercer has the details in Decanter.

Rudy Kurniawan lost his most recent appeal, reports Reuters. In December 2015, a federal appeals court rejected an earlier request by Kurniawan to overturn his conviction.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Harold Brubaker reports on changes the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is making to the way restaurants purchase wine. “Starting Oct. 1, restaurant owners and other licensees ordering through the state’s special liquor order (SLO) system will have to pay 100 percent up-front, and they won’t be allowed to inspect an order when they pick it up at the state store. To fix an order or get their money back, a convoluted seven-step process is involved.”

Wine Spectator reports that Frescobaldi has acquired Castello di San Donato in Perano, a 617-acre estate with 128 acres of vineyards located in the Gaiole commune of Chianti Classico.

In SevenFifty, William Carroll talks to William Carroll, wine director for Blue Hill at Stone Barns, about building a wine program with no set menu.

In Wine-Searcher, Rebecca Gibb looks at how Chilean Semillon is making an unexpected comeback.

In Food & Wine, Ray Isle offers a 25-bottle starter guide to wine wisdom.

Daily Wine News: Winemaking in Utah

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-19-2017

Evan Lewandowski. (Source: Ruth Lewandowski Wines)

Evan Lewandowski. (Source: Ruth Lewandowski Wines)

Winemaking in Salt Lake City? In Wine Enthusiast, Carson Demmond profiles Evan Lewandowski, who trucks California juice to Salt Lake city for wines under the Ruth Lewandowski label, and whose next adventure is planting a vineyard in Utah.

Tucker Higgins looks at how Mi Sueño Winery in Napa is meeting labor challenges head on by hiring and mentoring staff, and boosting retention rates, in SevenFifty Daily.

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford joins Gaia Gaja in the Gaja vineyards in Barolo and Barbaresco.

Does a good restaurant wine list need to be up to date? Yes and no, says Courtney Schiessl in VinePair.

Tom Hyland reports on the challenging harvest Italian winemakers are facing in Wine-Searcher. “Thankfully, some recent rains helped slow things down so, while 2017 may not be an outstanding vintage, it certainly will be better than the disaster some had predicted only a month ago.”

In Meininger’s, Liza B. Zimmerman reports on the growth of the canned wine category. “Portable wine pours are easy to take to the beach and on a hike, which appeals to many active customers, as well as to Millennials who are significantly less beholden to the current wine consumption standard of wine being in a bottle.”

In Forbes, Amber Gibson reports on this weekend’s Sonoma County Wine Auction, which raised a record-breaking $5.2-million for local charities.

According to Larry Olmsted in Forbes, Hurricane Harvey has spared Texas vintners.

Daily Wine News: International Departure

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-18-2017

wine-890371_1280In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre looks at how some Chilean winemakers are researching old varieties and techniques as they move away from the international style.

Lawrence Osborne travels to China and finds the Chinese wine industry is getting its stride, with many wines to be discovered. “Wineries like Grace, Changyu and now Great Wall have begun to carve out segments of the growing Chinese wine culture… The national palate is evolving and Dr Pepper is no longer poured into glasses of Romanée-Conti.”

“It is extraordinary how much champagne has changed in the last 10 years or so,” says Jancis Robinson, who looks at trends of how NV Champagne is labeled, and more.

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Deanna Gonnella talks about wine and how it relates to candy.

On Jordan Winery’s blog, Rob Davis shares how the 2017 California heat wave affected vineyards.

Alfonso Cevola offers a brief harvest update from Umbria and Tuscany.

It’s up to Bordeaux winemakers to curb alcohol in their wines and global warming should not be an excuse for allowing levels to rise too high, argues John Salvi in Decanter, drawing on the historical perspective of alcohol in Bordeaux wine.

In Forbes, Tom Mullen delves into Corsican wine.

Wine Reviews: Moraga

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 09-16-2017

The Moraga Vineyards estate in Bel Air goes for sale including the Winery at $29.5 million

Moraga Vineyards – Bel Air, California

So, there’s this wine, it’s sourced from a vineyard within Los Angeles city limits, and the estate is owned by Rupert Murdoch. If you haven’t tasted Moraga, I can’t blame you for being highly skeptical. But, after tasting these wines, it is clear to me that this is no novelty wine, no vanity endeavor.

The small estate (only six acres combined, planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Sauvignon Blanc) is located within the city limits of Los Angeles, in the Santa Monica Mountains of Bel Air. (As in, “Yo homes, to Bel Air!” – Fresh Prince). This is the sole winery that sources estate grapes from within LA, and it is likely one of the most valuable plots of vineyard land in California. (I’m sure a developer would love to have a crack at this hillside, so I think its great vines are still there.)

Tom Jones, former Northrop Grumman CEO, purchased this property in 1959, and slowly converted the small ranch into a winery and estate vineyards. He first planted vines in 1978, and but 1989 was Moraga’s first vintage. Conservative media titan Rupert Murdoch purchased Moraga in 2013. Murdoch had fallen in love with the property and wine, and, as part of the purchase, he agreed to keep the estate contiguous. He also kept the long-time winemaker, Scott Rich. Today, Moraga produces about 10,000 bottles per year (approximately 70% red, 30% white).

The vines are planted on steep slopes of Santa Monica shale. Yes, this area can get lots of heat, but the Pacific Ocean sits just a few miles away, and cooling influences are pulled inland through a canyon that connects the vineyard to the sea.

The white sells for about $115 and the red sells for about $175, so these wines don’t come cheap. And I am by no means joining Moraga’s wine club. But, if you’re a high roller looking for something unique to add to your California collection, these wines could fit the mold. And their quality and deliciousness should be evident to even the most hardcore skeptics.

I received these wines as trade samples and tasted them sighted.  Read the rest of this entry »

Winemaker Interview: Jill DelaRiva Russell

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 09-15-2017

Jill DelaRiva Russell

Jill DelaRiva Russell

As our regular readers know, we frequently pose a series of questions to a winemaker to probe their winemaking philosophy and to gain insight into how they became who they are. This week, we are featuring Jill Russell, who was recently promoted to be the winemaker at Cambria Winery of the Santa Maria Valley in California’s Central Coast.

(We recently interviewed Jonathan Nagy, the winemaker at Byron Winery, who had previously worked at Cambria.)

Cambria is a part of the Jackson Family Wines portfolio. Following the footsteps of the late Jess Jackson, Barbara Banke and Katie and Julia Jackson manage the estate.

Jill studied winemaking at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. After graduating, she stayed in the area and began her career as assistant winemaker at Stephen Ross Wine Cellars. She then worked harvest in France and joined Paul Lato Wines, before being named Cambria’s new winemaker.

Check out the interview below the fold!

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Daily Wine News: The Oregon Wine Trail

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-15-2017

Vineyards in Oregon (Wikimedia)

Vineyards in Oregon (Wikimedia)

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov hits the Oregon wine trail. “But after spending 10 days here in late July… I can’t help but conclude that Oregon is right now the single most exciting winemaking area in the United States.”

Has Paris lost its taste for Champagne? Aaron Ayscough explores the answer in the Financial Times. “Even as demand continues to grow for high-end, vintage-dated “prestige cuvée” champagnes in luxury markets in the US and the United Arab Emirates, French consumers are showing interest in low-cost alternatives… In Paris, France’s age-old love affair with champagne goes unrequited for all but the wealthy.”

Drinking Champagne out of a flute is like “going to a concert with ear plugs,” says Krug’s CEO Maggie Henriquez, who shares her disdain for flutes with the Drinks Business.

In Decanter, Jane Anson looks at what’s been happening on the English Pinot Noir scene, and whether Burgundy should be worried.

In Wine Enthusiast, Christina Jackson enjoys the rise of cat cafés that serve wine.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague recommends 15 wines under $15. (subscription req.)

In Vinous, Ian D’Agata shares him impressions of the 2016 Sicilian vintage, and explores Sicily’s terroir.

W. Blake Gray offers an update on the Chinese wine market on his blog.

Daily Wine News: CA’s Next Chapter

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-14-2017

caleraThe sale of Calera Wine Co. to Duckhorn Vineyards signals the end of an era, says Jon Bonné, who explains why the next chapter for California may be a lot messier in Punch. “The problem is that the generational passing of the baton hasn’t yielded nearly enough land that the new guard can afford. And so it seems the landed story of California wine has effectively returned to its 1990s form: a tale told by the rich, signifying their own self-satisfaction.”

The winners of the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards 2017 have been announced.

“Wine transcends borders and bridges cultures, and it can be used to improve lives if we make the right purchases.” In SevenFifty Daily, Peter Weltman explores how wine buyers can be activists, using Château Musar as an example.

In VinePair, Courtney Schiessl delves into Château Musar, and explores how it became the sole Middle Eastern producer to earn a spot on the international stage of wine icons.

Oliver Styles wonders how reliable professional palates are in Wine-Searcher.

In Purple Pages, Richard Hemming ponders what the future holds for wine.

In CNN, Mallika Kapur profiles Sonal Holland, India’s first and only person to hold the Master of Wine qualification.

In the Sacramento Bee, Mike Dunne explains the enduring popularity of Italian wine in the U.S.