Wine Reviews: A Trio of South African White Wines

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-18-2015

While exploring the Cape winelands last year, I tasted many a fine Bordeaux and Rhone blend from Stellenbosch, and some delicious Pinot Noir from the Southern Cape. But the biggest wine-related revelation from my trip was the high quality and value of South African white wines.

I tasted a lot of exciting Chenin Blancs, Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays, but one of my favorite white wines of the trip was a Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Clairette blend that floored me with its freshness and sea-salty elegance.

You have to look around a bit to find some of the really good South African white wines here in the States, but they’re out there. I for one would like to see more and more of them.

I recently tasted through three South African white wines that were delicious and full of value. These were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Interview: Mark Patterson & Barry Tortolon

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 04-17-2015

Mark Patterson

Mark Patterson

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we continue our focus on the Finger Lakes by featuring two winemakers: Mark Patterson and Barry Tortolon of Heron Hill Winery. Barry joined Mark at Heron Hill only about a month ago. They are now co-winemakers and collectively oversee Heron Hill’s entire portfolio.

Heron Hill Winery’s first vintage is 1977. By Finger Lakes standards, that puts Heron Hill squarely in the group of established wineries. John and Jo Ingle planted Heron Hill’s first vineyards in 1972, just a year after getting married. They started small — their first vintage consisted only of 5,000 cases — but they have grown tremendously in the past four decades. They now produce 18,000 cases per year and welcome more than 50,000 people per year.


Barry Tortolon

Barry Tortolon

Mark and Barry are both newcomers to Heron Hill. Mark joined in 2014; Barry joined just a month ago. So our interview comes at an exciting time of transition for Heron Hill. We enjoyed deviating slightly from our usual interview structure to accommodate the two of them in a single week and wish them the best in their new venture.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Sta. Rita Hills

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-17-2015


Sta. Rita Hills AVA (Wikimedia)

“This is still a relatively new region…they are still discovering the character of their sites and the best methods for managing the vineyards and making the wines.” In the New York Times, Eric Asimov reviews Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir.

In the Wall Street Journal, Will Lyons profiles Château Lafleur, one of the few top château still home to the owners’ family. “Everything about Lafleur feels tiny…The only thing that isn’t diminutive is the wine’s reputation, which over the years has been laden with superlatives.”

In Purple Pages, Alder Yarrow highlights the difference in pricing strategy between the worlds two greatest concentrations of Cabernet quality, Napa Valley and Bordeaux.

Napa vintner and pioneer Joseph Phelps dies at 87, reports Wine Spectator.

Elsewhere in Wine Spectator, how the sinking Euro and rising dollar are making waves in the wine industry.

Fiona Beckett looks at the trouble with wine apps in the Guardian.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Provence rosé, Miraval, is being targeted by counterfeiters in China.

Grape Collective talks to winemaker Alessandro Cellai about organic winemaking, French-Italian relations and Amar’e Stoudemire.

Stuart Pigott profiles Mosel winemaker Markus Molitor in Wine Searcher.

In Eater, Roberto Paris offers advice for which wines to drink with burgers.

Daily Wine News: Oldest Ruinart Found

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-16-2015

(Champagne Ruinart)

(Champagne Ruinart)

Ransacked by the Nazis, Ruinart had no pre-World War II bottles — until now. In Wine Searcher, Adam Lechmere reports that bottles of 1929 Champagne Ruinart were found in a private cellar in Alsace.

Wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan appeals conviction, reports Wine Spectator. “’Dr. Conti’ argues FBI search of his home was unlawful and counterfeiting evidence should be suppressed.”

Elsewhere in Wine Spectator, Tim Fish talks to Ian Brand about blazing new trails on California’s Central Coast, and his labels Le P’tit Paysan and La Marea.

On the blog for First Vine, Tom Natan dissects a study on pesticides in wine conducted by Que Choisir, a French consumer organization, in 2013. “Reading the study (in French) and some of the supporting documentation, I think the study is far more significant than the news reports indicate.”

“Andrea Calek Is a Lazy Bum and That’s Why His Wines Are So Good,” says Rachel Signer in Eater.

Rosé season is back! In Serious Drinks, Maryse Chevriere recommends 8 rosé wines to drink right now.

“Blind Book Review: Lettie Teague’s “Wine in Words”” on the HoseMaster.

The Rabobank Wine Quarterly report was just released, which showed that domestic wine outperformed imports as value rises faster than volume in the U.S. More findings and trends are included in Wines & Vines.

Wine Enthusiast picks the best sherry bars in the nation.

“For premium flyers, the era of mediocre vino is (mostly) over,” says Justin Bachman in Bloomberg.

Science has not really spoken on the study of big flavor wine, says Joe Roberts.

In Forbes, recommendations for hidden, ‘natural’ wine bars and restaurants in Paris.

Daily Wine News: Summer of Trocken?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-15-2015

(Flickr: dpotera)

(Flickr: dpotera)

“I believe I speak for many fans of good Riesling when I say: “Sweet Jesus, thank the lord it’s over!”” In Wine Searcher, Jason Wilson reflects on the end of the Summer of Riesling campaign, and makes a case for drinking more trocken Riesling.

“Raise a toast to Madame Pommery,” says Bill Daley in the Chicago Tribune. “For it was she…who steered the world’s taste in sparkling wine from sweet to drier styles — a preference that stuck.”

As the natural wine movement enters its second generation, the techniques and principles that define it are changing. In Punch, Alice Feiring talks to some of natural wine’s icons about now-popular techniques and what they believe to be fad, or the way of the future.

“Is the current U.S. wine market the new “new normal” — can the recent upmarket shift in wine sales be sustained into the future?” Mike Veseth, the wine economist, explores the answer.

“Scientists show glass geometry controls where and how vapor rises from wine, influencing taste,” reports Jennifer Newton in Scientific American.

According to the Drinks Business, Rhône producer, Michel Chapoutier, has bought Beaujolais negociant La Maison Trénel.

In VinePair, Adam Teeter explores how China inflated a global bubble in fine wine and spirits — and then popped it.

Bon Appétit lists “7 Wine Bars You Need to Drink at Now.”

Stunning Wines on the Edge of American Viticulture

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 04-14-2015

finger_lakesAs 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 –

In my latest column, I praise the wines of the Finger Lakes region in New York — and highlight the collaborative nature of the winemakers there.

Stunning Wines on the Edge of American Viticulture

Finger Lakes’ wine pioneer Hermann Wiemer released his first wine 35 years ago. While his wines helped the New York region gain critical acclaim, he never curried much favor with local winemakers. And he had little patience for collegiality. In a 1985 interview with the New York Times, he described most Finger Lakes wine as “rubber hose” quality.

Things have certainly changed. Today, consumers everywhere consider Finger Lakes Riesling to be on par with the best offerings from Germany and Austria. Serious oenophiles recognize that other wines from the region show tremendous potential. And ironically, the region’s winemakers credit the collaborative spirit Wiemer shunned for the surge in quality.

Indeed, it’s a struggle to get vintners there to talk about their own wines. Virtually every Finger Lakes winemaker is more interested in promoting the industry as a whole — and praising colleagues — than talking about himself.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

Daily Wine News: New York State of Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-14-2015

NY-State-Terroir-and-Growing-Regions-MapIn the New York Post, Tom Wark shares his opinions on New York State’s “out-of-control” regulations concerning the wine industry. “It simply boggles the mind to think the authority would want to shut down a New York retailer for the crime of committing no crime at all.”

Wink Lorch notices the natural wine movement is spreading to Brazil in Purple Pages.

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford checks in on the Douro’s development and prosperity. “For what it’s worth, I’m convinced that the Douro has the potential to rival Bordeaux, Burgundy, Piedmont, Tuscany, Rioja and Napa as a table-wine region – it is a rare world ‘great’ – and that we will all realise as much in fifty years.”

In Grape Collective, Dorothy Gaiter profiles Gavin Chanin, “the youngest winemaker in Santa Barbara, and yet this is his 14th harvest.

Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka spends a day with Andy Smith in his DuMOL vineyards of West Sonoma Coast and Green Valley.

In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto profiles Tiziano Mazzoni, who is rising to become “Ghemme’s star for Nebbiolo.”

Jonathan Lipsmeyer chats with winemaker Olivier Clape about the changing faces of Cornas, and how Alsatian barrels ended up in the Clape cellar.

Nick Trend sets out to Alsace in search of “the world’s greatest white wines” in the Telegraph.

What do you really think of that wine? Ask your brain, says Erika Szymanski in Palate Press.

Daily Wine News: Past, Present, Future

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-13-2015

Barboursville Vineyards founder, Gianni Zonin, overlooking his Virginia vineyards

Barboursville Vineyards founder, Gianni Zonin, overlooking his Virginia vineyards

Lettie Teague uncorks a few bottles of Gavi to see if the Italian white retains the romance it held decades ago in the Wall Street Journal.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre addresses the current state of Virginia wine. “High-quality Virginia wine may surprise some, but it shouldn’t.”

“A visit to Cape winelands earlier this year left me both excited and concerned about the future of South African wine,” says Jancis Robinson, who thinks the “young guns of Cape need ammunition.”

Alfonso Cevola makes the case for darker rosé wines. “Perrin (and Brangelina) said “Let there be light.” And it was a game changer…But. Wait. There are some of us who still like the deeply colored rosė (or light red) wines.”

Wine Searcher chats with Angelos Iatridis, “Greek Wine’s Alpha Male,” about the challenges of selling Greek abroad and why he prefers the term ecosystem to terroir.

The Guardian reports that for the first time in the UK, prosecco outsold champagne. In 2014, £181.8m of prosecco was sold, compared to only £141.3m of champagne.

Some vineyards in Lodi suffered extensive damage after a storm dropped dime-size hail, reports Wines & Vines.

UK wine merchant, Majestic, has bought Naked Wines for £70 million ($102.89 million). And W. Blake Gray has a few opinions about it.

In Eater, a look at affordable wines produced by premier vineyards.

Wine Reviews: Bubbles and Port

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-11-2015

American bubbles, Champagne, Port, and a Sherry thrown in for good measure. Some samples are distinct in style and sporadic enough that they don’t fit into a designated category. Although, one could argue a common thread among these bottles is that they all scream: Invite people over and open me!

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

Weekly Interview: Steve DiFrancesco

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 04-10-2015

Steve DiFrancesco

Steve DiFrancesco

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we are featuring Steve DiFrancesco of Glenora Wine Cellars. With Steve, we continue our series of interviews of Finger Lakes winemakers, following our interviews of August Deimel at Keuka Spring Vineyards and Peter Bell at Fox Run Vineyards.

Steve is a veteran in the region, with more than thirty-six Finger Lakes vintages under his belt. So we were particularly delighted that, in his interview, Steve gave us some historical background of the region as an important reason why the Finger Lakes is such a special community and viticultural region.

Check out the interview below the fold!


Read the rest of this entry »