Daily Wine News: Tannic Bath

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-20-2014

bathtub-tile-design-ideasEric Asimov concludes that “2010 was an outstanding year for Barolo.”

“The young breed of ‘New’ Californians and ‘New’ New Yorkers are bringing vibrancy and energy to the sorting table.” And that makes Alfonso Cevola very happy.

Will Lyons believes the wines of Chêne Bleu “could be the world’s first Super Rhône.”

“The past decade or so has seen an inflation of points scoring from a significant number of prominent critics. It has been a gradual but undoubted trend.” Red To Wine Wine Review explains how score inflation is making the 100-point system less and less relevant.

Tim Atkin thinks that “we are going to see a lot more 100 pointers in the future.” But few of those wines will deserve such praise.

Bill Ward asks some friends to share “an oh-wow experience at a particular vineyard or AVA.” The stories are great.

In contrast to all the recent praise, W. Blake Gray thinks American Wine Story is a “boring documentary without a plot.”

In Punch, Adam Houghtaling takes a close look at the commercials Errol Morris created for Miller High Life between 1998 and 2005.

For more than six months, Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire “has been taking baths in red wine at a spa to help his body rejuvenate.”

Wine Reviews: Rosé Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 10-18-2014

Summer’s been over for a while. Sigh. But rosé season never really ends — at least it shouldn’t. I drink the pink year-round because I love the crispness of dry rosé and the food pairing options. And a lot of rosé wines get discounted after their summer heyday, so bargains abound.

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

Weekly Interview: Ben Riggs

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 10-17-2014

ben riggsEach week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Ben Riggs, a prolific winemaker based in Southern Australia.

After three decades as a winemaker, Ben is now a major player in his region’s wine industry.

To start at the beginning, Ben’s experience with wine began early. His father who knew Wolf Blass and so Blass’s Yellow Label Rieslings were often found on the Riggs family table. After an oenology course at the University of Adelaide, Ben joined Brian Croser’s team at Petaluma, followed by a 14-year stint at Wirra Wirra with the late great Greg Trott.

Ben now operates as consultant winemaker to a select group of principally McLaren Vale labels. His portfolio includes Shoofly, Penny’s Hill, The Black Chook, Woop Woop, Pertaringa, Geoff Hardy, Zonte’s Footstep, Jip Jip Rocks, Journey’s End, and Tatiarra from the Heathcote region of Victoria. He also maintains his own winemaking venture under the Mr. Riggs label.

In addition to all of those projects, Ben has served ten years as a board member of McLaren Vale Winemakers, including three years as Chairman. He also chaired the McLaren Vale Wine Show for five year period.

Check out our interview with Ben below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Social Hobby

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-17-2014

Lafite Rothschild. Flickr, BillBl.

Lafite Rothschild. Flickr, BillBl.

“For centuries, wine cellars have been dark, windowless spaces with bottles stuffed into cubbies, more function than form. But that doesn’t suit a new generation, for whom wine collecting is as much a social hobby as an investment strategy.” In the Wall Street Journal, Lisa Selin Davis looks at the rise of luxury wine “rooms.”

“Should You Let the Sommelier Taste Your Wine?” Lettie Teague explores.

“It takes a certain personality… that listens to inner voices calling them away from the security and comfort of an office cubicle to search for greater fulfillment in helping earth express itself in fermented grape juice.” In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre reviews American Wine Story.

“Instead of glamour, these people all found something far more meaningful: a life’s work that makes them want to leap out of bed each day to get their hands dirty again.” Elsewhere, Lucy Mathews Heegaard reviews the new documentary.

In Wine-Searcher, Adam Lechmere chats with South African winemaker Bruce Jack.

The Drinks Business names “10 Chilean winemakers to watch.”

This year, “there’s a sense of cautious optimism” in Bordeaux. Gavin Quinney reports.

“If .wine and .vin are granted to firms outside the wine industry, second-level domain names such as napavalley.wine could be owned by a company that has never seen a vineyard, cultivated grapes, or made a single bottle of wine.” And that’s why industry trade associations are arguing against the deregulation of domain names.

“In the morning, we headed north on the Harvest Highway to the Annapolis Valley, about an hour away, to visit something I never expected to find here – a thriving wine country.” In the Napa Valley Register, George Medovoy visits Nova Scotia wine country.

With a series of beautiful photos, Whitney Adams visits The Restaurant at Meadowood’s Garden.

Daily Wine News: Vines & Soil

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-16-2014

metras“If Yvon Métras wines stand out, that’s in large part because he takes cares of his vines and soil, using a cable-powered plow to get rid of the grass, not chemicals, and on these steep terroir this is not an easy job.” Bertrand Celce profiles Yvon Métras.”

“What became clear as the members of the panel spoke, however, was that Kurniawan’s eventual fate was paved by the suspicions raised about another forger before he even became a suspect.” This past weekend, Levi Dalton attended New Yorker’s much-anticipated panel discussion on fake wine.

In Vanity Fair, Alex Beggs lists “10 Red Wines for 10 of Life’s Biggest Problems.”

“Fatal wood-borne fungal diseases affecting vines have become a national issue in France.” Wink Lorch has the details.

“Italy is not as set up for the tourism side of wine visits in the same way as California. They are in the process of developing this side of the business (wine tourism), but it’s still pretty much a mamma-papa kind of business.” In Grape Collective, Jameson Fink chats with Alfonso Cevola of On The Wine Trail in Italy.

“We’re in the midst of a sherry renaissance, partly because of a gradual shift in the American palate—from sweet and rich to higher acid and savory—that is reflected in both food and drink.” In Forbes, Maridel Reyes gets excited about Talia Baiocchi’s Sherry: A Modern Guide to the Wine World’s Best Kept Secret.

Daily Wine News: Plummeting Sales

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-15-2014

220px-Fallout_shelterSales of Bordeaux are plummeting.

“A bottle of wine might look like a closed system, but inside there are complex chemical transformations that scientists are still unraveling.” In Wired, Nick Stockton explains “Why Some Wines Taste Better With Age.”

“Imagine a world in which you hold ownership of both a physical bottle of wine and a unique digital record that verifies exactly who owned the bottle of wine before you – traceable all the way back to the original producer.” Vinfolio explains why “Bitcoin is going to revolutionize the way that wine provenance is understood in the digital age.”

Tyler Colman wonders why boutique wine shops don’t act like jewelry stores — and hide prices until consumers express interest.

“The truth is that there is a lot of mediocre Kiwi Sauvignon out there and it is doing no favors to an industry that is producing some jaw-droppingly beautiful wine from other grape varieties.” In Wine-Searcher, Don Kavanagh contends that New Zealand offers more than Sauvignon Blanc. (Coincidentally, this was the topic of my latest Grape Collective column.)

Elsewhere in Wine-Searcher, Darrel Joseph explains why Grüner Veltliner is a “big deal.”

In Wine Spectator, Harvey Steiman contends that Oregon Riesling has “started to shine brighter in recent vintages.” He’s right.

“The advantages are clear: reduced packaging and shipping costs results in reduced prices for consumers; low oxidation and spoilage; and possibly most important — no waste at the end of bottles.” In Grape Collective, Michael Woodsmall predicts a bright future for keg wine.

Tom Wark previews – and defends – the new quarterly magazine, 100 Points By Robert Parker.

In Punch, Regan Hofmann explores if New York City restaurants are in “a dark age of cocktailing.”

In the Napa Valley Register, L. Pierce Carson writes a thoughtful obituary for Harvey Posert, the “dean of wine PR.”

New Zealand: More Than Hobbits and Sauvignon Blanc

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 10-14-2014

Credit: Carrick Wines.

Credit: Carrick Wines.

As 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 contend that New Zealand offers much more than just Sauvignon Blanc.

New Zealand: More Than Hobbits and Sauvignon Blanc

Americans are fascinated by New Zealand. Thanks to “The Lord of the Rings” — and the tourism board’s “100% Pure New Zealand” marketing campaign — we envision stunning landscapes when we think of the island nation. We picture a playground for adventure, with endless options for hiking, bungee jumping, whale watching, and the like.

When it comes to wine, though, Americans know very little about New Zealand.

If anything, we simply think of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Because of brands like Oyster Bay and Kim Crawford, most wine enthusiasts are familiar with the nation’s signature style, marked by explosive aromas of fresh-cut grass and bracing acidity. Indeed, that single variety accounts for 84.5 percent of the nation’s wine exports. And each year, New Zealand ships nearly 50 million bottles of Sauvignon Blanc to the United States.

Eric Platt, the U.S. representative for Pacific Prime Wines, an import company backed by four, family-owned New Zealand wine producers, is on a mission to show that New Zealand’s offerings are actually quite diverse.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

Daily Wine News: Improbable Darlings

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-14-2014

From Wikipedia.

From Wikipedia.

In Punch, Alice Feiring visits Georgia, whose “wines have become improbable darlings in the natural wine world.”

“De Villeneuve’s survival is a good thing for Provence wine.” Robert Camuto chats with Raimond de Villeneuve, who is in his 20th vintage at Château de Roquefort. Villeneuve lost his entire, 62-acre crop after a hailstorm in 2012 and the resulting damage left him with just half his crop in 2013.

“The grape variety that has, to quote the stereotypical disc jockey, zoomed up the charts most dramatically is Spain’s most famous red wine grape Tempranillo.” In 1990, Tempranillo was the world’s 24th most-planted wine grape. Today, it’s in fourth place. Jancis Robinson comments on this stunning surge.

Dave McIntyre, meanwhile, urges his readers to check out Texas Tempranillo.

“It’s a type of winemaking that relies on the faith of both the place and the eventual drinker that you’re working with a site that is deigned to grow something delicious.” Jon Bonné helps with the “first real harvest” at SunHawk vineyard in Mendocino.

“We are vital partners with many of the wineries. We depend on them for quality items and they depend on us to deliver their product to the end-user.” In the Press Democrat, Bill Swindell chats with Costco’s Annette Alvarez-Peters.

“Grape yield isn’t directly related to wine quality. Lower yields often do mean higher quality, but that’s not because one causes the other.” In Palate Press, Erika Szymanski looks at the science on grape yields.

“Constantia in South Africa is one possibility, as is Australia’s Hunter Valley, but neither is as old as Chile’s best known wine region.” Tim Atkin explains why “there aren’t many New World vineyards with the Maipo Valley’s pedigree.”

In Grape Collective, Jameson Fink interviews master sommelier Evan Goldstein, author of the just-released Wines of South America: The Essential Guide.

Daily Wine News: Licking Rocks

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-13-2014

gravel“Françoise told us about how she used to think that, through taste, she would be able to find a correlation between the rocks and their resulting wines. As she said this, I looked over at Helen who was discretely licking the inside of one of these freshly smashed rocks.” Ted Vance spends time with Françoise Vannier, Burgundy’s resident geologist.

In a wonderful post, Cari Borja profiles and chats with three Bay Area couples who “interact, overlap and share a similar passion for wine.”

“California has better things to spend taxpayer money on than prosecuting wineries who invite some friends over to help them pick grapes.” Alder Yarrow is pissed about California levying Westover Winery in Castro Valley with $115,000 in fines for using unpaid volunteers.

“Over the next 12 months, Rosen will surely appear at gatherings of alcohol regulators where he will get a standing ovation from his peers.” Tom Wark worries that the New York State Liquor Authority’s crazy behavior will be “precedent setting.”

Lettie Teague heads to Napa Valley to find out “when and how some key California winemakers became interested in producing ‘serious Sauvignon.’”

“Sherry covers a dazzling gamut of styles and flavor profiles, from bone-dry fino and manzanilla to raisin-y sweet Pedro Ximénez (a.k.a. PX). And there is much in between, all of it ably described by Baiocchi.” In the Los Angeles Times, S. Irene Virbela reviews Talia Baiocchi’s new book, Sherry: A Modern Guide to the Wine World’s Best-Kept Secret.

“Is Alquimie the most ravishing drinks magazine to publish in the last decade?” Lauren Mowery thinks so. I agree.

Although “we are unlikely to see a widespread move to vintage blending,” it can create complexity and fill gaps in a wine. Dave McIntyre explains.

In Wine-Searcher, Jane Anson offers “The Busy Wine Lover’s Guide to Clos des Papes.”

Wine Reviews: California Chardonnay

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 10-11-2014

Since our last review of California Chardonnay, more goodies have found their way to my glass. This batch includes some impressive value-driven wines and a wide range of stylistic interpretations.

All wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind.

Review: 2012 Ripe Life Wines Chardonnay “The Clambake”- California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
SRP: $17
Bright on the nose with sea salt, lemon curd, grapefruit and flowers. Creamy on the palate, tangy acid with white peach and green apple fruit. A leaner, crisper style, the seafood themed label fits with this wine’s lean, food-friendly aesthetic. All stainless steel. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Tolosa Winery Chardonnay No-Oak- California, Central Coast, San Luis Obispo County
SRP: $21
Very bright on the nose, with green melon, limes, honeysuckle and some waxy notes. Crisp and clean on the palate with refreshing acid. Flavors of key lime, green melon, some pear. Clean, lean, with floral perfume and green apple on the finish. Fresh, fun, begs for mussels or white fish. (86 points IJB)

Review: 2011 Alma Rosa Chardonnay Santa Barbara County- California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $19
Pale yellow color. Nose of dried apricot and pineapple, some serious honeyed tea and green herb elements, a kick of minerals, Tangy and lively on the palate, the green and yellow apples taste tart and crunchy. Also some lime and pineapple, a taste of lime peel, saline, white tea, chalk and herbal tea aspects. A much more tart and mineral-driven style, and quite impressive if you’re into this kind of Chardonnay. Aged in old oak with no maloactic fermentation. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Alma Rosa Chardonnay Santa Barbara County- California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $19
Smells of fresh laundry, some white peach, apricot and bright flowers, a some spicy-herbal notes. Medium body, medium acid, full of pear, green and yellow apples and honeydew melon, some ruby red grapefruit. White tea and a spicy herbal elements linger on the finish. Not as much nerve as the 2011 but very nice for this style. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Moniker Chardonnay- California, North Coast, Mendocino County
SRP: $23
Medium golden color. Nose of whipped honey, yellow pear, nougat, some peanut shell and honeysuckle elements. Rich and creamy on the palate, with medium acid and a medium body but showing some complexity: white tea, honeycomb, sea shells, candied lemon, nougat, peanut skins. Big, bold, but complex and interesting. Includes a bit of barrel-fermented Viognier. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Isabel Mondavi Chardonnay Carneros – California, Napa/Sonoma, Carneros
SRP: $30
Nose of bright white peach, honeysuckle, green pear and sea salt, Tangy and bright with lemon verbena, orange peel, apricots and crunchy white cherries. Lemon tea, margarita salt, whipped honey and graham cracker notes, but it’s still very floral and bright. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Piña Cellars Chardonnay Low Vineyard – California, Napa Valley, Oak Knoll
SRP: $34
Nose of white peach, green apple, orange peel, some honeycomb and white flowers. Creamy and nutty on the palate, with apricot, white peach and glazed pear, but tangy acid cuts through. Some dried honey and white tea, along with complex nutty notes, drizzled with lime. Some minerals, sea salt and stones linger onto the finish. Balancing itself out well. Fermented in 38% new French oak. (90 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Amapola Creek Chardonnay Jos. Belli Vineyards- California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $45
Light yellow color. Nose of golden apples, pears, some peach nectar and an herb butter element as well. Creamy texture but fresh and elegant as well, with complex interwoven flavors of apricot, golden apple, glazed pears. Notes of cinnamon, hazelnut and caramel corn add complexity but don’t overwhelm. Clean, fresh, notes of crushed chalk and sea shells in here as well. Clean, pure, but quite rich, this Chardonnay ends up pulling it off. I’d love to lay this down for four or five years because it’s got so much complexity to unravel. (91 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Gundlach Bundschu Chardonnay Estate Vineyard – California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $27
Floral aromas, some white peach, baked apple and honey but also some rocks and minerals. Crisp acid and a creamy mouthfeel, this is rich but also nervy and lively. Lots of green apple and apricot, mixing with honey, limestone, slate and minerals. Quite deep and mineral-driven, with saline notes on the finish. Impressive stuff that doesn’t fall into one Chard camp or the other. Aged 10 months in 20% new French oak. (90 points IJB)