Daily Wine News: Opus One Sues Coopers

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-18-2018

opusoneOpus One is suing its coopers over tainted barrels for close to half a million dollars, reports Liza B. Zimmerman in Wine-Searcher. “The sum includes the cost of lost wine because of TCA taint and testing expenses for the wines in barrel, which are likely to have been high with 10 barrels in question and some previous issues with barrels provided by the same coopers and barrel makers in 2016.”

Is Provence rosé under threat? In Meininger’s, Elizabeth Gabay investigates. “Provence cannot easily make more rosé, as almost all its production is already rosé. Producers are responding by making higher-quality, higher-priced rosés, moving upmarket.”

“The Van Duzer Corridor AVA in Oregon’s Willamette Valley has been officially approved by the TTB,” reports Elaine Chukan Brown on JancisRobinson.com.

In SevenFifty Daily, Paul Adams examines the science of bubbles in wine, and their influence on mouthfeel, flavor, and aroma.

“What I want to say is this: ignore anyone telling you not to taste and drink vintage Port in extreme youth. You should. There’s no other wine pleasure quite like this. By all means store it until “full maturity” if you wish, and appreciate it in a state of subtle, graceful and polite refinement, unwrinkled by time. That’s a pleasure, too.” Andrew Jefford explores the pleasures of drinking port in its youth in Decanter.

In Forbes, Lauren Mowery talks to sommelier Emma Farrelly of Perth, Australia, Gourmet Traveller’s Sommelier of the Year 2019.

Elsewhere in Forbes, Brah Japhe talks to Gerard Bertrand about biodynamic wines.

Book Review: Red Wine: The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties and Styles, by Kevin Zraly, Mike DeSimone, and Jeff Jenssen

Posted by | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 12-17-2018

Red WineMy request for a copy of Kevin Zraly’s forthcoming biography was apparently premature, so the publisher sent me Red Wine instead. I hadn’t heard of it, but after poring through it in five- and ten-page sittings, I see why every wine bibber needs to.

Red Wine covers the basics of the 50 red wines you’re most likely to encounter. Full of beautiful photography and with just the right amount of detail, it might be the most practical coffee table book a wine lover can own.

Arranged alphabetically, each grape gets a two-page spread, with the exception of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and other biggies, which get more. To start, the grape name is listed and spelled phonetically—a tremendous blessing for those of us who can’t quite get the pronunciation right for grapes like Montepulciano (it’s MOHN-teh-pool-CHAH-no) and Sangiovese (SAHN-jo-VAY-say).

Next is a tasting profile highlighting the grape’s most common aromas and flavors, followed by a list of ideal food pairings. You’ll want these handy for your next dinner party. Or maybe you flat out want some specific wine recommendations. Zraly and team have you covered with suggestions for “Bargain,” “Value,” “Special Occasion,” and “Splurge” bottles.

Rounding out each chapter are a few paragraphs of abbreviated history, a bit on what’s noteworthy about the grape, and finally, where in the world it’s currently being grown in significant amounts.

What I love about Red Wine is it’s so darn handy. I can see myself using it in a variety of situations: pre-dinner-out research, deciding which wine region to visit next, or even in my own home wine making. A few weeks ago actually, when deciding whether or not to induce malolactic fermentation in batches of Lodi Petite Sirah and Carignane I was fermenting in the basement, I first turned to Red Wine to get a sense of each variety’s typical level of acidity. (We’ll see how that turns out though!)

Red Wine covers key wine styles and regions too. Read these sections and you’ll never again refer to Rioja or Chianti as a grape, and you’ll better understand what constitutes a Super Tuscan (spoiler: it’s kind of a catch-all).

My Recommendation
Some books I read and pass along. Red Wine is one I’ll keep around. It’ll probably find a home on the kitchen shelf next to my cookbooks and drink tomes. Much like Zraly’s Windows on the World, this is a book every serious wine drinker should have on hand, for reference, for inspiration, and for pure visual enjoyment.

Daily Wine News: Hybrid Wines

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-17-2018

Chambourcin, a French-American hybrid grape.

Chambourcin, a French-American hybrid grape.

In Bon Appétit, Marissa A. Ross explores the potential of hybrid grapes. “Today’s wine drinkers forego the “rules” of the old guard. We embrace experimentation, and we’re not afraid of grapes we’ve never heard of. We actively seek out new experiences in bottles of wine, and we want everything that hybrid wines represent. So, it’s up to us to spread the word and give these wines a seat at the table.”

In Wine Spectator, Suzanne Mustacich reports that winemaker Patrick Léon has died. He was 75. “The Bordeaux native enjoyed a career that spanned 50 years and four continents, crafting wines at iconic estates like Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château Lascombes in Bordeaux, Château d’Esclans in Provence, Almaviva in Chile and Opus One in Napa Valley.”

After reading Terry Theise’s new book, Tim Atkin ponders Theise’s opinions about wines above 14% ABV. “I love low- and medium-bodied wines as much as anyone. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had several wonderful wines that were below Terry Theise’s 13.5% ceiling point… But I’ve also had plenty of bottles that he might well consider coarse and over-bearing.”

In Grape Collective, Valerie Kathawala reviews Terry Theise’s What Makes a Wine Worth Drinking: In Praise of the Sublime.

Jancis Robinson offers her 26 picks for festive sparkling wine.

Dave McIntyre tackles Champagne and its food-friendliness in the Washington Post.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, explores Romanian wine. “The thing about Romanian wine is that just when you think you understand it, you discover that there’s another layer and you have to start over.”

Wine Reviews: Sparkling Wines for the Holidays

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-15-2018

So, the holiday season is in full swing, and, like every year, the bubbles abound.

I drink Champagne (and, to a lesser extent, Champagne-method bubbles from other regions) year-round, but the average occurrence of bubbly-popping definitely spikes between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

In this report, Champagne gets its due, with some wines from the houses of Bruno Paillard and Laurent Perrier. Gloria Ferrer, the Sonoma bubbly powerhouse, offers up three budget-friendly offerings, and a Santa Barbara sparkler from Lucas & Lewellen impresses. Lastly, a few sparklers from Alsace deliver — Crémant d’Alsace is one of my favorite sources of inexpensive but delicious sparkling wines, and this duo is a great example.

All of the wines in this report were received as samples and tasted sighted. Happy holidays to you all, and I hope the last few days of your 2018 include some lovely Champagne-method wines. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Future of Cigare

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-14-2018

(Source: Bonny Doon Vineyard)

(Source: Bonny Doon Vineyard)

“I am saying goodbye to Le Cigare Volant, at least to the wine that I’ve made in a certain, distinctive style for so many years,” writes Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm. “I think that perhaps what my Cigare experience has tried to teach me is a certain sort of humility. There are things that I can properly effect and things that I cannot; it is ultimately most useful to focus on that which one can potentially control, as well as, (very importantly) acknowledge the enormous power of that which is beyond one’s control.”

“As one who prizes the qualities of restraint, balance and refreshing acidity, which were in short supply in Ribera del Duero, I have not often gravitated toward the region’s wines. Yet I could not help but wonder whether this region, which had achieved such success with this particular style, had also evolved away from power toward more graceful, tense wines.” In the New York Times, Eric Asimov finds harmony in the reds of Ribera del Duero.

In Wine and Spirits Magazine, Karen Moneymaker reports on ten collectible cabernets that sommeliers have come to love.

James Lawrence wonders why the British have lost their taste for Rhône as well as Burgundy passports in Wine-Searcher.

In Wine Enthusiast, Anna Lee C. Iijima offers a guide to Southern Rhône’s wines.

South Africa’s wine growers are seeing a new demand from China, reports CNN.

The Economist explores India’s growing wine industry.

Daily Wine News: A Unique Partnership

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-13-2018

Source: Gruet.

Source: Gruet.

In SevenFifty Daily, Katherine Cole explores why New Mexico’s Gruet partnered with a Native American tribe to grow grapes. “While a few Native American–owned winemaking ventures—such as the Canadian Nk’Mip Cellars, Kitá Wines in California’s Santa Ynez Valley, and Séka Hills in the Capay Valley, northeast of Napa Valley—have started up in recent years, a grape-growing contract between a Native American tribe and a winery is a novel concept.”

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Elaine Chukan Brown tells the story about Rebuild Wine Country, created by Chris Strieter, Max Thieriot and Myles Lawrence-Briggs of Senses Wines in Occidental, who partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build and repair structures after the fires. This October, their efforts began to turn into homes.

“A cache of centuries-old Madeira discovered in New Jersey during renovation work has been auctioned by Christie’s, with one bottling from the late 1700s selling for nearly $16,000,” reports Chris Mercer in Decanter.

Bordeaux’s wine growers are lowering their use of herbicides and pesticides, reports Sophie Kevany in Meininger’s.

In the Drinks Business, Julie Albin takes a trip Mokelumne Glen Vineyards in Lodi and reveals why German-Austrian grape varieties have ended up in the Californian region, and why it’s no longer typecast as only offering high alcohol Zinfandel.

“Doug Ernst, who had a 33-year career in Napa Valley journalism, died Tuesday morning after a short battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS),” reports Kevin Courtney in the Napa Valley Register.

Shana Clarke pens a guide to sustainable wine certifications in Wine Enthusiast.

Daily Wine News: Changes in Champagne

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-12-2018

Glass_of_champagneIn Wine-Searcher, James Lawrence explores the changing face of Champagne. “The idea of Champagne becoming renowned for Burgundy-style reds and whites seems ludicrous today, but it’s a thought increasingly being entertained by the region’s top producers.”

In Food & Wine, Mike Pomranz reports that James Suckling is teaching a wine appreciation class online through MasterClass. In the official trailer, he sells the class by saying: ““I try not to be pretentious about wine, but if you want to be, I can help you do that also.”

Wine Enthusiast highlights six producers creating small-quantity, vineyard-designated zinfandel bottles that reflect California terroir.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague explores Barbaresco in the third in a three-part series on wines from Italy’s Piedmont. (subscription req.)

Tom Wark shares the six people identified in his 2018 American Wine Writer Survey as the most influential wine writers.

In Vinous, Neal Martin writes about a tasting of Symington Family Estate’s Vintage and Tawny Ports.

Japanese wine consumers have a wide and deep range of buying options. Roddy Ropner explores the major outlets in Meininger’s.

Tom Hyland looks at the wines of Etna in Forbes.

Daily Wine News: Brunello’s Challenges

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-11-2018

Montalcino landscape (Flickr: Eric@focus)

Montalcino landscape (Flickr: Eric@focus)

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford gauges the challenges facing Montalcino. “In theory, Brunello should be easy to understand, at least by comparison with the complexities of Chianti: it is a single, unitary area, roughly square in shape, lying to the south of Siena and rather closer to the sea than does Chianti. That apparent simplicity, though, hides some intriguing complications.”

“Willi Klinger, the irrepressible head of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (ÖWM), has announced that he will step down as Managing Director at the end of 2019,” reports Meininger’s.

Elsewhere in Meininger’s, Robert Joseph ponders the importance of a wine label.

“How did a dispute over appellations and marketing turn into a call to ban a wine brand? The answer may lie in competing visions of Oregon wine’s future.” Mitch Frank looks at what the pushback against Joe Wagner’s wines means in Wine Spectator.

Antonio Galloni offers a holiday gift guide with new books, wine glasses, maps and more in Vinous.

The California Aggie talks to Alecia Moore, more commonly known as Pink, and her assistant winemaker, Alison Thomson, about taking the pretentiousness out of the craft, the utter terribleness of Manischewitz and sharing their passion for winemaking with their children.

In Grape Collective, Dorthy Gaiter and John Brecher offer their sparkling wine picks for the holidays.

Elsewhere in Grape Collective, Lisa Denning chats with Christian Voeux of Domaine de l’Amauve about the Seguret appellation, in the process of becoming its own cru like neighboring Gigondas, and how simple his approach to winemaking is.

Daily Wine News: Reflections & Reports

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-10-2018

(Flickr: theloushe)

(Flickr: theloushe)

The Oregon ruckus over the Elouan and the Willametter Journal brands shows no sign of abating. Liza B. Zimmerman reports on the latest details in Wine-Searcher.

In VinePair, Gina Ciliberto pens a short profile of Zidanelia Arcidiacono, the 36-year-old assistant winemaker at Sonoma-Cutrer. “Her goal is to democratize wine for people of all backgrounds and professions, especially within wineries… Born in Texas to a Mexican mother and an Argentinian father of Italian descent, Arcidiacono identifies with the community of Latinas who harvest the grapes she makes into wine.”

Elin McCoy offers a list of the 50 best wines under $50 she tasted this year in Bloomberg.

As the end of the year approaches, Tom Natan reflects on four things he learned about wine this year on the blog for First Vine.

Andy Perdue writes about four new wine books that make for great gifts in the Seattle Times.

In Forbes, Lana Bortolot on what makes Georgian wines so unique.

Bon Jovi’s Hampton Water rosé is just one of two rosés to make Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines of the year.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre covers sparkling wine alternatives.

Wine Reivews: New Releases from California

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-08-2018

We’re headed back to California this week for another batch of new releases.

I’ve reviewed the wines of Jed Steele several times in the past, and they continue to offer tons of value for the money. Although the winery sources grapes from other regions, all of the wines in this report hail from Lake County. With more than 50 vintages under his belt, these are tried and true California wines that deliver gobs of goodness, and most of them cost $20 or less.

I also reviewed two wines from Windvane, the new Ramey Claret, and the new release of Cardinale, the latter of which (while expensive), is something to behold.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »