Wine Reviews: Wakefield – Clare Valley

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 09-24-2016

CsexdcWUIAACvwZEarlier this year, I reviewed some new releases from Southern Australia’s Wakefield. Well, I’m back to Wakefield again, and this reports includes some really solid buys from the mid-shelf offerings. If you’ve turned away from Australian wines generally, it might be worth turning to Wakefield wines specifically. These wines in this report are moderately priced and highly delicious, showing a stylistic trend toward brighter acidity and fresher fruit.

The Taylor family kicked off their winery in 1969, after scoring a 430-acre vineyard near the Wakefield River in Southern Australia’s Clare Valley region. These wines are known as Taylor’s in Australia but, due to trademark restrictions, they’re labeled as Wakefield in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Clare Valley wines all come from the Taylor family estate, where vineyards at more than 1,100 feet above sea level vineyards get plenty of sun but receive the benefit if large diurnal temperature swings. The St. Andrews wines come from the estate fruit grown in their terra rossa soil, while the Jaraman wines are blended with fruit from other sites.

And for those looking to splurge, Wakefield has some stunning high-end reds, the Pioneer Shiraz and Visionary Cabernet. I reviewed these wines in November 2015. Spoiler: they are amazing.

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

Weekly Interview: Maryann Houde

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 09-23-2016

Maryann Houde

Maryann Houde

Each week, as our regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Maryann Houde, the winemaker at Gouveia Vineyards.

We normally feature winemakers from regions that are internationally renowned to be winemaking regions. A lot of great wine comes from those regions after all. But this week, our interview series take us to a place that few would know to produce wine. Gouveia Vineyards is located in Wallingford, Connecticut, just 15 miles north of New Haven.

Wine-lovers often say that they love wine because wine is infinitely diverse. But just as we marvel at the diversity of wine, perhaps we fail to appreciate that behind those diverse wines are diverse winemakers from a striking range of backgrounds. Maryann’s voice is a welcome addition to the chorus of winemakers who studied winemaking in school before they began their careers.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Grapevines in Space

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-23-2016



TIME reports that China launched Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir vines into space in an experiment designed to see if vines can become more drought, cold and virus resistant.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague recommends Oregon’s Willamette Valley for a wine-country trip. “In almost everything—from wineries to hotels to dining locales—travelers will find a disarming lack of pretension.”

In the Seattle Times, Andy Perdue profiles several young and talented vintners who are evolving Washington’s wine industry. “Here in Washington, you can still leave your fingerprints on the industry. And that is what these three have every intention of doing.”

W. Blake Gray offers updates on the Wine Advocate sake scandal he reported on last week.

In Rioja, winemakers are standing up in defense of traditional, blended wines — resisting the single-vineyard cuvées that are in fashion. Adam Lechmere has the details of the enduring debate in Wine-Searcher.

In Grape Collective, fifth generation winemaker Karl Wente talks about how a Chardonnay clone his family brought into the US in 1915 is responsible for 80% of America’s Chardonnay plants.

USA Today considers how French wine might be benefiting from global warming.

In Decanter, Jane Anson makes several interesting white wine discoveries in Bordeaux.

Daily Wine News: The J-Lo of Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-22-2016

Bottles of pétillant-naturel

Bottles of pétillant-naturel

On the blog for First Vine, Tom Natan wonders about the trendiness of Pét-Nat, “the J-Lo abbreviation of Pétillant Naturel,” and thinks their popularity is partly due to being the wine that’s most like craft beers.

According to the Drinks Business, Burgundy is anticipating a smaller 2016 harvest, with yields potentially dipping by around 25%.

Will digitizing wine open it up to more consumers? In Forbes, Eric Annino explores the new frontier of wine digitization and how it can revolutionize the wine industry. “The database of words describing food may be immense, but wine’s is bigger. Accordingly, it demands powerful algorithmic technology to make it usable.”

In Punch, Jon Bonné looks at the slightly off-dry German Rieslings, which are often bottle as “feinherb.”

The Napa Valley Register continues its 2016 harvest coverage, with reports that cabernet sauvignon is being harvested in some parts of the Napa Valley.

“The defeat of a proposal to expand the production zone of Nebbiolo in Piedmont is a victory for consumers,” says Bruce Sanderson in Wine Spectator.

In VinePair, Carson Demmond talks to somms about their guilty wine pleasures.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, reviews Jerry Lockspeiser’s new book Your Wine Questions Answered: the 25 things wine drinkers most want to know.

Daily Wine News: Wine Label Changes

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-21-2016

(Flickr: alexbrn)

(Flickr: alexbrn)

W. Blake Gray reports on a small rule change the federal TTB made regarding wine labels, and he argues that “wine will be better” because of the rule change. “The rule change is a simple, smart one. When applying for federal label approval for wine, producers and importers no longer must list the alcohol level on the application. Wine companies also no longer need to list the vintage on the application, which makes sense.”

“It can’t be said often enough: This really is a Golden Age of Fine Wine,” writes Matt Kramer in Wine Spectator, where he recommends must-try wines from unfamiliar or unconventional places.

With news of Angelina Jolie filing for divorce from Brad Pitt, Decanter’s Chris Mercer wonders about the future of the couple’s Château Miraval rosé wine.

The 23rd Parallel’s David Rogers tastes through half a dozen Second Growth Bordeaux wines from the 80’s and offers his thoughts on the aging process of the wines.

In Food & Wine, Ray Isle recommends Bordeaux châteaus that are open to public visits, not just to those in the wine business.

Brian Freedman reflects on the expanding world of American wine in Forbes.

According to the Huffington Post, “women are driving the wine revolution in India.”

In Food Republic, Ethan Fixell explores how Abruzzo’s Masciarelli winery is working to improve the international appeal of the light and pink Cerasuolo.

Mead: Wine, Beer, or Something Else?

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 09-20-2016

Larsen MeadworksMead is the oldest known alcoholic beverage, with lineage back to 7000 B.C. It predates wine and beer by thousands of years. But it’s only now gaining favor among American consumers. The American Mead Makers Association’s inaugural Mead Industry Report showed mead to be the smallest but fastest growing segment of the American alcohol industry. In the past decade, the number of commercial meaderies in the United States has increased nearly tenfold, from approximately 30 in 2003 to now close to 300 in 2016.

Mead is growing. But it has yet to solidify its identity with the drinking public. Part wine, part beer, but not wholly either, mead is a strange beverage. Those who know it as honey wine are shocked to encounter something dry or even hopped, instead of something viscous and saccharine. It’s perhaps mead’s resistance to classification that has turned off drinkers for so long. But it’s also what’s fueling its current momentum, especially among novelty-craving Millennials.

I recently encountered mead in an unlikely place—Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. That’s where Larsen Meadworks is quietly producing some of the freshest, most creative and delicious concoctions I’ve ever tasted (see my brief notes below the fold).

Nate Larsen, who opened his Mechanicsburg tasting room in late 2015, has only been making mead for three years, but in that short time he’s become proficient at achieving balanced and brightly nuanced meads. He uses only the freshest local ingredients—no concentrates and no evident backsweetening—and brings together techniques from winemaking and brewing. Fermentations are done completely in open-top containers, lasting anywhere from two to four weeks, with different ingredients added in stages. This incremental approach imbues the mead with distinct layers, which unfold almost sequentially, allowing you to taste every bit of each ingredient. The rapidity of the process says beer, but the complexity and alcohol level, which ranges from 10 to 15 percent and is dangerously imperceptible, says wine.

When it comes to ingredients, everything is intentional. As a former bartender, Larsen knows the difference between a lime that is juiced and one that is pressed—and chooses the latter in his mead making because of the rind essence that it produces. And for anyone who knows what it’s like to eat a fresh stalk of rhubarb, the Larsen Meadworks Aura is just about as close as you can get to the real thing.

The lineup of meads at Larsen is long, but each is interesting in its own way, not least for the backstory. You’ll want to read my notes below, but to list some of the ingredients that come into play: strawberry, rhubarb, cascade hops, ginger, mango, passion fruit, peppermint, peach, turmeric, saffron, maple syrup, and almond meal.

Larsen meads are now available for order nationally on Vinoshipper.

Somewhere between wine and beer, mead is carving a niche all its own. There is great pressure, say some, to turn mead into something wholesale and sugary, sold in six packs. Thankfully, mead makers have yet to acquiesce.

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Auctions & Purchases

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-20-2016

Part of Aubrey McClendon's wine collection that was auctioned. (Source: Hart Davis Hart Wine Co.)

Part of Aubrey McClendon’s wine collection that was auctioned. (Source: Hart Davis Hart Wine Co.)

According to Bloomberg, the wine collection of late Chesapeake Energy Corp. co-founder Aubrey McClendon sold for $8.44 million on Saturday, breaking records for some of the rare French bottles in the collection, which included Bordeaux wines and several Napa Valley cabernets.

French wine firm AdVini buys 51 percent of Stellenbosch’s Ken Forrestor, reports Wine Spectator. Founder Ken Forrestor will remain as CEO.

Wines & Vines looks at how this year’s drought is impacting New York’s grape harvest. “Berry size is a bit smaller overall, and the crop size is down a little bit… The good news is that New York vineyards have had very little disease pressure.”

In Decanter, Simon Woolf remembers natural wine pioneer Stanko Radikon, who died from cancer at age 62 on Sept. 11.

The Drinks Business asks a variety of winemakers from around the world about their opinions on the use of extended skin contact with white wines.

In Vinous, Antonio Galloni reports on a comparative tasting of the white wines of J. F. Coche-Dury and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. “The objective of this tasting was to take a look at two of Burgundy’s benchmark whites across a number of vintages in order to gain a better understanding of how the style of the wines is expressed in those years.”

WineFolly looks at the lifecycle of a grapevine and explains what each season contributes to that year’s vintage.

Courtney Schiessl suggests seven off-the-beaten path wine countries in VinePair.

Daily Wine News: Pairing Wine + Place

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-19-2016

Bottle of German Silvaner. (Wikimedia)

Bottle of German Silvaner. (Wikimedia)

In the World of Fine Wine, Jacqueline Friedrich considers the notion of matching wine and place. She reflects on the different contexts in which wines are consumed, and remembers the restaurants, homes, and other places that have played host to some of her most satisfying wine experiences.

Jancis Robinson surveys the white wines of Germany beyond Riesling — grapes such as Silvaner, Weissburgunder, Grauburgunder, and more — but finds them to be “a bit monotone” in comparison to the “nervy, concentrated, expressive 2015 Rieslings.”

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague sheds light on the reality of winemaking during the season of harvest winery visits.

Eric Asimov offers notes on the latest Wine School, Albariño. Up next is Oregon Pinot Noir.

In the New York Times travel section, Seth Sherwood spends 36 hours in Burgundy.

Winemakers in Priorat have moved from a Bordeaux approach to winemaking to a Burgundian approach according Scala Dei’s chief winemaker Ricard Rofes.

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford hears the Napa Mountain story from one of its most thoughtful practitioners, Chris Howell of Cain.

Dave McIntyre talks with Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker about the similarities in his team, wine, and baseball in the Washington Post.

In Wine-Searcher, Liza B. Zimmerman visits the distilleries in California wine country, and considers the overlap in spirits and wine tourists.

Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 09-17-2016

It’s time for another grab bag of wine reviews from all over this great big sphere of ours. This batch includes wines from New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Italy and Southern France. We’ve got some serious values in here, as well.

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

Weekly Interview: Robbie Meyer

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 09-16-2016

Robbie Meyer

Robbie Meyer

Each week, as our regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we are featuring Robbie Meyer, the winemaker at Murrieta’s Well, a winery in Livermore Valley, California.

The vineyards of Murrieta’s Well are old; they have been producing grapes since the 1800s, when Louis Mel planted them with cuttings from Chateaux d’Yquem and Margaux. In 1933, Louis Mel sold the property to Earnest Wente, and the estate has been in the Wente family since then. Philip Wente and Sergio Traverso opened the new chapter of the estate in 1990, when they began producing wine under the current label, Murrieta’s Well.

Robbie Meyer joined Murrieta’s Well in 2015. Besides working at Murrieta’s Well, Robbie also makes wine at several other places.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »