Weekly Interview: Francis Hutt

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 07-25-2014

francis huttEach week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Francis Hutt, the winemaker at Carrick Wines in Central Otago, New Zealand.

Francis joined the team at Carrick in 2010 as a viticulturist after deciding that he wanted to make wine in Central Otago. In the summer of 2011, he was named the chief winemaker.

Before joining Carrick, Francis spent nearly a decade at Martinborough Vineyard. While there, he worked northern hemisphere harvests in Burgundy at Domaine de l’Arlot and Oregon at Shea Wine Cellars.

Check out our interview with Francis below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Withdrawn Restitution

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-25-2014

rudy KurniawanSome big news in the Rudy Kurniawan case. On Thursday, “a federal judge delayed sentencing.” In addition, William Koch “withdrew his restitution claims” in exchange for a $3 million settlement and a promise that Kurniawan will “fully cooperate… and provide documentation and other information regarding counterfeiting in the industry.” On Wine-Berserkers, Don Cornwell shares some fascinating details.

“The rattlingly good plot in the book is made all the more edgy because it’s entirely true.” In Wine-Searcher, DonKavanagh reviews Maximillian Potter’s Shadows in the Vineyard.

Antonio Galloni explains why ”there has never been a better time to explore Santa Barbara County and all of its dimensions.”

Looking for a good deal on Petrus? “Start reading the auction notices in the provincial French press a little more closely.”

“It feels like you’re just hanging out at a friend’s house, albeit a very hip friend, which is exactly the feel co-founders Noah Dorrance, Baron Ziegler and Steve Graf were going for.” In the Mercury News, Jennifer Graue profiles Banshee Wines.

Fred Swan offers some thoughts on how to “[Get] the Wine Bloggers Conference We Deserve.”

In the latest installment of wine school, Eric Asimov will explore Zinfandel.

On the blog for Berry Bros. & Rudd, Emily Miles chats with Charlotte Sager-Wilde, “one half of the duo behind Sager & Wilde, London’s most talked-about wine bar.”

Food Arts awards Raj Parr a Silver Spoon Award.

Daily Wine News: Glorifying Vineyards

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-24-2014

In Wine-Searcher, Mike Steinberger urges Americans to “move on from [the] tendency to glorify wine personalities and to put a little more focus instead on the most important player on the wine scene: the vineyard.”

A vineyard in South Africa.

A vineyard in South Africa.

“The last night I ate there, the wine directors for Piora and the Momofuku group were in the house, cherry-picking the list. It doesn’t take an expert to get a great glass at Racines NY.” Pete Wells awards two stars to Racines NY.

In Thrillist, Jonathan Cristaldi details “how to not embarrass yourself while talking about wine.”

“As our thirst for distinctive pinot noir evolves in California, so do the regions in which we grow these wines and the ways in which they taste increasingly relevant.” In the Press Democrat, Virginie Boone previews the West of West Festival.

In Wine Spectator, Ben O’Donnell wonders whether Long Island wines can survive Manhattan’s restaurant scene.

James Molesworth finished his recent trip to “Rhône and Provence trip with a stop in Cassis, the charming seaside town that lends its name to the small appellation known for stylish, minerally whites and rosés.”

“Sotheby’s and eBay will partner in a new online auction venture that will see art, wine and other collectibles auctioned through the popular website.” Wine-Searcher has the details.

“We’re both scuba divers. We’re both big skiers. We garden. We’ve raised kids together. We have a whole farm. We have chickens and dogs and all of that.” In Grape Collective, Christopher Barnes chats with Heidi Peterson Barrett.

Elsewhere in Grape Collective, Jameson Fink chats with Debbie Gioquindo, the Hudson Valley Wine Goddess. In a separate piece, she names her favorite places to wine and dine in the Hudson Valley.

Mike Dunne finds some Pinot Grigio worth drinking.

Not Drinking Poison While Visiting Paris

Posted by | Posted in Grape Adventures | Posted on 07-23-2014

Aaron Ayscough at Aux Anges.

Aaron Ayscough at Aux Anges.

Earlier this month, I spent 10 days eating and drinking my way through France.

On July 4th, my trip began with a tour of Paris’ natural wine bars and retailers led by Aaron Ayscough of Not Drinking Poison in Paris. For wine geeks, I can’t imagine a better way to start a trip to France.

Our first stop was at Septime Cave, the wine bar from the team behind Septime and Clamato, two of Paris’ hottest dining spots. While there, we enjoyed two wines: Domaine Belluard’s 2010 Vin de Savoie “Mont Blanc” and Kenji & Mai Hodgson’s 2012 “Heart & Beat” rosé of Cabernet Franc.

Both were absolutely captivating. The sparkler came from Gringet, an obscure grape that’s native to the Savoie region — and barely exists. Aaron described the rosé — which saw 12 months in neutral oak — as “almost comically intellectual.”

Our second stop took us to Aux Anges, a small wine shop run by a young winemaker named Benoit Joussot. The shop’s selection was more conventional than expected — I recognized most of the labels — but we opened a fascinatingly interesting rosé-colored white wine.

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Septime Cave.

The Domaine Le Roc des Anges’ 2013 “Les Vignes Métissées” incorporated 15 local grape varieties (red, gray, and white) — all picked at once and co-fermented as a white wine. The acidity was electric, and if it weren’t for a hint of tart red fruit, it could have passed for a Sauvignon Blanc. It was delicious.

Next, we visited Cru et Découvertes, a gem-filled shop with overflowing shelves. There, we explored sulfur with two wines from La Ferme des 7 Lunes, a small, biodynamic winery in Saint Joseph. We compared the winery’s basic Saint Joseph bottling to its “Chemin Faisant,” which sees no addition of sulfur at bottling.

The differences were striking — and the opposite of what I expected. While the “normal” Saint Joseph showed tart, fresh fruits and focused aromas of meat, pepper, and black olive, the “Chemin Faisant” was darker and murkier, but somehow more compelling.

As Aaron put it, “the sulfured Saint Joseph is like seeing a painting on the clean white wall of a gallery – it’s curated and you know what qualities to look for – while the unsulfured version is like encountering the same painting in the home of collector, where it’s complemented by furniture, a piano, a bowl of fruit, etc.”

Finally, we visited Le Siffleur de Ballons, a popular wine bar and shop from Thierry Brumeau, the sommelier-restaurateur behind L’Ebauchoir, a neighborhood bistro. (Interestingly, Brumeau once worked for Michel Richard in Washington, DC.)

While there, we opened a 2011 Domaine Lise et Bertrand Jousset “Singulière,” a Chenin Blanc made from a small parcel of 100+-year-old in vines in Montlouis. The wine (and cheese we ate there) was awesome.

For those who aren’t familiar with Aaron’s blog, be sure to add it to your list of regular reads. It’s a great resource for discovering natural wines and keeping up with the Paris wine scene. And if you’re visiting Paris anytime soon, be sure to sign up for one of his tours!

Daily Wine News: Redeeming Zweigelt

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-23-2014


“The greatest compliment I can personally pay Umathum may be that he has single-handedly redeemed Zweigelt for me, producing not just a good rendition of the grape, but a great one.” Alder Yarrow visits “The King of Zweigelt.”

Lily Elaine Hawk Wakawaka visits Noel Family Vineyards in Oregon’s Chehalem Mountains.

Curt Dahl chats with Eric Asimov.

“Though the abbey has records mapping monastic vineyards from the Middle Ages, it wasn’t until 1992 that the monks decided to produce and market high-end wines.” In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto visits Frère Marie, the monk-cellarmaster of the Abbaye de Lérins “on the tiny, idyllic island of Saint Honorat.”

“To prepare for the nearly two months of intense labor, the 60-year-old winemaker trains for triathlons.” In the Wall Street Journal, Jason Henry profiles Rob Davis of Jordan Winery.

Tom Wark offers some thoughts on how the Wine Blog Awards “might evolve for the better.”

Napa’s Quixote Winery has been purchased by a Chinese-owned firm for approximately $29 million.

“I’m not making an argument for lowering the drinking age; only one acknowledging that–in a controlled environment–exposure to the world of wine can be an enriching part of growing up.” In the Huffington Post, Sharon Sevrens explains why she teaches her kids about wine.

Mike Veseth details “The Five Pillars of Walla Walla’s Wine Success.”

In Snooth, Gregory Dal Piaz sits down with Jon Thorsen, the Reverse Wine Snob.

Aaron Nix-Gomez shares some fascinating photographs of a German vineyard being prepped in 1928.

In VinePair, Adam Teeter explores the origin of the “light, refreshing mix of soda water and wine” known as the spritzer.

Beaujolais: The Greatest Secret in Wine

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 07-22-2014

Bernard DiochonAs regular readers know, I write a free, twice monthly wine column that’s distributed to newspapers across the country.

These columns are hosted by Grape Collective. If you don’t see my column in your local newspaper, please send an email to your paper’s editor and CC me (David – at – Terroirist.com).

In my latest column, I explain why Beaujolais is the greatest secret in wine.

Beaujolais: The Greatest Secret in Wine

One hundred years ago, the Wine Society, a wine club in London, offered its members a Beaujolais from the appellation of Moulin à Vent for $29 per case. It offered cases of Burgundy from the appellations of Beaune and Pommard for around $36 each.

Today, a case of wine from Domaine Diochon, a top producer in Moulin à Vent, costs around $250. And it’s one of the most expensive wines in the region. In Burgundy, however, most Pommard and Beaune on offer from the Wine Society go for well over $1,000 per case.

So whereas consumers seeking compelling reds from Burgundy instead of Beaujolais once paid a premium of about 25 percent, today’s consumers can expect to pay a premium of 400 percent — or more.

Burgundy is quite different from Beaujolais, of course. But serious wines from both regions effortlessly combine vibrant acidity with depth and complexity. And wines from both regions can age for decades.

That’s why today’s price differential doesn’t make any sense. Had those 1914 prices tracked inflation, that case of Moulin à Vent would retail for $690. Without any question, the top wines of Beaujolais represent the greatest value in the wine world.

Consider the wines of Domaine Diochon.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!


Daily Wine News: Unfashionable

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-22-2014

1982-bordeaux“But for a significant segment of the wine-drinking population in the United States, the raves heard around the world were not enough to elicit a response beyond, perhaps, a yawn.” Eric Asimov explains why, “for young Americans in particular, Bordeaux has become downright unfashionable.”

“The Álvarez family problems began around the time of the patriarch’s third wedding.” In the New York Times, Ian Mount explores the family feud at Vega Sicilia.

In Grape Collective, Jameson Fink chats with master sommelier Alpana Singh, Proprietor of The Boarding House in Chicago.

“I visited several wineries that will remain nameless, as the wines were far from thrilling—often quite salty and not terribly good, especially some unlikely combinations of grapes such as Cabernet and Grenache, and Nebbiolo and Cabernet.” In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague visits the Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California, Mexico.

In Palate Press, W. Blake Gray concludes that lower yields don’t necessarily mean higher quality.

In Wine Spectator, James Molesworth visits Château Miraval.

“His lair was a hole in the ground, no larger than a shallow grave. Across the top a tarpaulin was pulled taught and camouflaged. The hole smelled like cheese.” In the New York Post, Michael Kane reviews Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World’s Greatest Wine by Maximillian Potter.

In the San Jose Mercury News, Laurie Daniel visits Washington’s Red Mountain AVA.

Daily Wine News: Riesling Hero

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-21-2014



CellarTracker has launched a mobile app!

“Most of the wine trade loves… but many wine drinkers dislike it.” Elsewhere, Jancis Robinson explains why her “hero” is Riesling.

“The name of the new Newton winemaker may not mean much to the California wine scene, but it means a great deal to Australians.” Jancis Robinson profiles Newton’s new winemaker, Rob Mann.

Last week, the Malibu Coast became an American Viticultural Area.

“We have a band, Private Reserve. Ed Sbragia is in it. I play lead guitar. We do cruise ships. We do wine lectures in the morning and then play at night.” In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray chats with Mike Martini.

In Wine Enthusiast, Roger Morris profiles Clos de Vougeot.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné explains why “brightly flavored, aromatic, low-tannin wines are what you want” this time of year.

“Plenty strive to deliver a creative beyond-the-glass experience, and it’s never been easier to find them, on Yelp and TripAdvisor, on the advice of your friends or even in your favorite wine-and-food lifestyle magazine.” Ben O’Donnell visits wine country as a tourist.

From Wine-Searcher, “10 Things Every Wine Lover Should Know about Château Clinet.”

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford visits Languedoc to spend some time in La Clape.

Grape Collective profiles Adam Strum.

Wine Reviews: Hourglass

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-19-2014

At Hourglass, premium Napa Valley red is more than just Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Cabernets deserve serious credit, but Hourglass has been working on some great varietal expressions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec from the Blueline Vineyard in Calistoga.

2012 was the first full vintage for Hourglass’ winemaker Tony Biagi, who took over from renowned winemaker Bob Foley. It appears Tony arrived at a great time because 2012 was a good growing season, and the resulting wines show balance and depth. The 2013 vintage marks Hourglass’ first white wine, a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, which I found refreshing and intriguing.

The new oak in these wines is nuanced and integrated, adding creaminess to the texture and accents to the fruit and earth flavors. But given the complexity of flavors, the structure and the balance, the oak never overpowers, at least for my palate.

These wines aren’t cheap, but they’re delicious and cellar-worthy. All of the wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted from 375ml bottles. The prices below represent the mailing list allocation cost for a 750ml bottle.

2013 Hourglass Sauvignon Blanc
A pale straw color. Crisp apple and lime aromas, orange blossom, honeysuckle, a striking amount of slate and minerals. Creamy and rich on the palate, but the acid cuts through with impressive power. Richer notes of apricot, honey and orange marmalade blend with elements of oyster shell, sea salt and minerals. Lots of concentration and depth here, this is a beauty of a Napa Sauv Blanc that refuses to fit in a stylistic box. Hourglass’ first shot with white wine, and they nailed it. This wine sees stainless steel as well as some new and old French oak. (91 points IJB)

2012 Hourglass Malbec Blueline
Generous purple color. Vibrant and playful aromas of deep plums and black currants laced with violets, cola and charcoal. On the palate, fine grained but grippy tannins meet with medium acid, almost crisp. Rich and boisterous, full of bright floral tones, this wine is plummy and packed with tart berries. There’s an underlying mix of cocoa powder, charcoal, vanilla bean, cola and black olive. Bold but elegant, this is impressive stuff that shows some solid aging potential. Aged 16 months in 40% new French oak, this wine also includes 25% Petite Verdot. (91 points IJB)

2012 Hourglass Merlot Blueline
Nose of roses, raspberries, caramel, roses, a lot of explosive ripe fruit but it’s backed up by earth and smoke, menthol and smoked meat. Full bodied but this wine shows an elegant texture with fine tannins and medium acid. I get berry compote, raspberries and dark plums; all the fruit is juicy but very tangy. Significant amount of mushroom, balsamic, soy, barbecue sauce and sweet floral elements. Chewy, elegant, rich, complex, this wine is all of these, with a long finish. Could use two to four years and I think this will develop for quite a while longer. Includes 5% Petite Verdot, this wine is aged 16 months in new and seasoned French oak. (93 points IJB)

2012 Hourglass Cabernet Franc Blueline
Deep and saucy on the nose, I get blueberry, blackberry and plums, but also lots of deep loam, granite, paved road and mushroom. On the palate, wow, this is just beautiful — medium acid, great concentration, dusty tannins. Full of tart blueberry and currant fruit, like crunching through the skins, but then the earth, charcoal, cedar and eucalyptus notes come in. The mushroom, granite and tobacco flavors need time to fully show themselves. Great structure here for aging. This sees 20 months in 40% new French oak. Gorgeous. (93 points IJB)

Daily Wine News: Respect

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-18-2014

Flickr, rudynorff.

Flickr, rudynorff.

“While it may be sad for Soave producers and their fans that the wines have not achieved an appropriate level of respect, some do benefit from the situation. Seven of our 10 favorites were $20 or less, and the remaining three were $25 or less. Advantage consumer.” Eric Asimov finds lots to love in Soave.

Reuters reports: “Billionaire oenophile William Koch has settled a lawsuit worth millions of dollars against New York wine retailer Acker, Merrall & Condit.”

“Scores have always lacked rigor and carried a false sense of precision, but with inflation like this, the central bank of Zimbabwe looks like a model of restraint.” In Vineyard & Winery Management, Tyler Colman contends that the era of the super critic is over.

“Most tastings I go to merely confirm what I already know and give me a chance to identify the plums in any representation of a region, producer or new vintage. This collection really did confirm the existence of a whole new era in South Africa’s wine history.” Jancis Robinson is optimistic about South Africa.

W. Blake Gray doesn’t think we decant enough.

“The emergence of “natural wine” as a category for people who share a similar concern for how their beverages are manipulated is, well, perfectly natural. But, it only gains real weight if its integrity can be protected and guaranteed.” In Palate Press, Simon Woolf reflects on natural wine.

“If you’ve ever wondered what some of the top sommeliers in New York are drinking during their nonworking hours, or perhaps even while they’re still on the floor, there’s an app that will help you find out.” In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague profiles Delectable.

In Grape Collective, Jameson Fink chats with Robert Dwyer of the Wellesley Wine Press.

Elsewhere in Grape Collective, Christopher Barnes chats with Fred Frank and Meaghan Frank, the grandson and great granddaughter of Finger Lakes wine pioneer Dr. Konstantin Frank.

In the Boston Globe, Tom Wark explains why Massachusetts’ direct shipping bill isn’t an unqualified victory.

According to Will Lyons, Robert Parker is “a glass-half-full kind of guy.”