Daily Wine News: The Experience

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-22-2017

(Flickr: pedrosimoes7)

(Flickr: pedrosimoes7)

In Wine Spectator, Matt Kramer wants to know what the need for an experience with wine is all about. “It’s no longer enough, as it surely once was, for wine to simply be a refreshing accompaniment to your meal. Is this a loss? Yes. But nevertheless, it’s so.”

LVMH, whose brands include Louis Vuitton and Dom Perignon, buys majority stake in Napa Valley’s Colgin Cellars.

A store in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park sold wine produced by the Trump Winery as recently as September, reports Timothy Cama in The Hill.

In VinePair, Vicki Denig looks at how field blends exude terroir.

In Quartz, John Capone Visits Parallel Products in California, which turns wine into fuel-grade ethanol on a large scale.

In Bon Appétit, Marissa A. Ross recommends Banyuls, a dessert wine, for Thanksgiving.

On Tim Atkin’s site, satirist Ron Washam pens a blind review of Jon Bonné’s The New Wine Rules. “Having not read it, I can tell you there’s nothing new in it. Nothing. I promise. I say that because there isn’t anything new to say about wine.”

Gowri Chandra considers the 5 mistakes people make when drinking Champagne in Food & Wine.

In Decanter, Stephen Brook offers a look into the 2013 Brunello vintage.

Daily Wine News: Neal Martin Joins Vinous

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-21-2017

Neal Martin. (Source: Vinous)

Neal Martin. (Source: Vinous)

Neal Martin has left Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate to join Vinous as Senior Editor. He will cover the wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy, South Africa and New Zealand.

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford considers Priorat’s white wines. “One reason for a close look at these is their diagnostic energy.  This is something they share with the red wines, derived from a birthright intensity of fruit….Priorat’s wine-growers, consequently, are beginning to ask whether they shouldn’t be making more white wine and less red.”

Grape Collective talks to Franck Duboeuf about how the Beaujolais Nouveau became an international phenomenon.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley tackles the Thanksgiving wine pairing dilemma.

Alfonso Cevola lists “Nine Reasons to Give Thanks for Italian Wine.”

In Meininger’s, Liza B. Zimmerman provides an overview of the rise of the Oregon wine industry. “The state is also notable for how much both inter-state and international investment, primarily from California and Burgundy, it has attracted in recent years. “

In Robert Parker’s Wine Journal, R.H. Drexel reports on the Napa Valley music festival, “Live in the Vineyard,” which donated proceeds from a benefit concert to Napa County fire relief funds.

In Condé Nast Traveler, Mary Holland offers a guide to traveling Australian wine country.

Daily Wine News: Portugal’s Wine Scene

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-20-2017

The Douro Valley (Wikimedia)

The Douro Valley (Wikimedia)

Jancis Robinson looks at the evolving Portuguese wine scene. “The most striking change I was made aware of is that producers are no longer scared of asking high prices for their wines.”

Wine Enthusiast Media announced their official partnership with Rebuild Wine Country (RWC), a long-term giving fund dedicated to rebuilding homes for owners and renters most in need in Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Lake and Mendocino Counties.

In Wine-Searcher, James Lawrence considers how different sizes, formats and closures are moving us away from the traditional bottle-cork-glass wine experience and changing the way we consume wine.

Jeff Siegel reflects on 10 years of writing about cheap wine on the Internet on his blog, Wine Curmudgeon. “I’m telling a story that the wine business prefers wine drinkers not know. That has been the constant over the past decade…”

New York’s “wine mecca” Rebelle is closing, reports Jeremy Repanich in Robb Report.

In Wine Spectator, Alison Napjus reflects on the character of the 2017 Beaujolais Nouveau vintage.

Chris Sadler tried the synthetic wine produced by Ava Winery and shares his impressions in Slate. “The manipulated wines that many of us buy at grocery stores begin to seem not that distant from lab-made wine.”

In Bloomberg, Elin McCoy recommends eight wines for Thanksgiving, all under $25 a bottle.

Wine Reviews: Côtes de Bordeaux

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 11-19-2017

If you’re looking for moderately-priced, accessible Bordeaux reds, Côtes de Bordeaux is a great place to start.

Winemade in the Côtes appellations, in aggregate, make up just 10% of Bordeaux wines, and they’re almost entirely red (with a few Sauvignon Blanc-dominated blends in the mix). Merlot is dominant here, backed up by Cab Sauv, Malbec, and other red Bordeaux grapes. Blaye is the largest of the appellations, producing more than 5 million cases, while the smallest, Sainte-Foy, produces only about 110,000 cases. In 2009, these non-contiguous appellations joined forces to create the Union des Côtes de Bordeaux to collectively promote their wines.

The region’s calling card are small, family-owned estates who produce quality wines at moderate prices. Sourced from predominantly clay soils on the right banks of the Garrone and Dordogne rivers, these juicy, fruity wines offer a great Bordeaux introduction for new or intermediate wine drinkers, especially those seeking to snatch up a lot of wine for a little money. If you’re not sure of the style of Bordeaux wine you like, you can get adventurous without spending a ton — the wines in this report all retail for $12-$21.

Unfortunately, I don’t come upon a lot of these wines here in the U.S., but hopefully that will change. I for one would love to see more and more of these wines on by-the-glass lists at wine bars and restaurants. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Fowles Wine from Victoria

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 11-18-2017

farm to tableWe’re off to Victoria, Australia this week, with a look at a range of wines from Fowles.

Fowles is located in one of Australia’s coolest winegrowing regions, the Strathbogie Ranges in Victoria. Located about 80 miles north of Melbourne, this area is home to decomposed granite soils, low rainfall, and plenty of wind, which combine to form fresh wines with vibrant acidity.

Founder Matt Fowles is an avid hunter and gatherer, which is evident in the winery’s branding aesthetic. Fowles releases three lines of wines: Are you Game?, brighter and fresher-styled wines; Ladies who Shoot their Lunch, which Matt Fowles says are designed to be paired with wild game; and Farm to Table, richer wines to pair with farmed meats.

The Farm to Table brand wines can be found in the U.S. market for about $16 a pop, while the Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch wines should cost about $35 per bottle.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Midwest Wine Culture

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-17-2017

(Flickr: piker77)

(Flickr: piker77)

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague pays a visit to her home state, Indiana, to see what her fellow Hoosiers are drinking and explore whether it’s sweet or dry wines that prevail there.

Akshat Rathi covers the new wine countries that climate change is creating in Quartzy.

Felicity Carter looks at recent studies on social biodiversity and terroir in Meininger’s. “One thing is for sure: a vineyard is not just a place where vines grow, any more than a forest is just land with trees. And there’s still so much more to discover.”

Jane Anson tastes historic Lynch-Bages wines and delves into the estate’s history in Decanter. “To drink these alongside Jean-Michel Cazes’ memories was amazing, but the wines would have spoken even if tasted alone.”

Sales of U.S. wines rose 4% in October, according to Wines & Vines.

In SevenFifty Daily, Melissa Davis, beverage director at Staplehouse in Atlanta, shares how she challenges customers to try adventurous bottles.

Eric Asimov offers advice on last minute buys for Thanksgiving wines in the New York Times.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, reviews the new book, Cracking Croatian Wine by Dr. Matthew Horkey and Charine Tan.

Travel + Leisure calls Canada’s Okanagan Valley “one of the world’s top emerging wine regions.”

Daily Wine News: Sicily’s Revolution

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-16-2017

Frank Cornelissen (Flickr: FrankCornelissen2)

Frank Cornelissen (Flickr: FrankCornelissen2)

Sicilian winemaker Alberto Tasca d’Almerita tells the Drinks Business he is adamant that indigenous grape varieties will drive Sicily’s wine revolution.

In Sprudge Wine, Christina Rasmussen talks to Frank Cornelissen and terroir, philosophy, and his zero-sulfur winemaking approach.

Warren Winiarski, founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Judgment of Paris legend, has been inducted into California’s hall of fame. Chris Mercer shares the details in Decanter.

Jamie Goode visits with the team at Plaimont in southwest France, who are looking to find “new old” varieties. “It is encouraging to see a large company, with some 5000 hectares of vines under their control, taking an approach that is based on regional flavour and identity.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Roger Voss offers a snapshot of the 2017 Beaujolais Nouveau vintage.

In Punch, Jon Bonné on the current state of California cabernet, and “the identity crisis that saddles cabernet today: Its biggest fans during the previous maximalist era endorsed the very things that stop making it true cabernet (namely, that green streak).”

In NPR, Alicia Cypress talks to Jon Bonné about his new book, The New Wine Rules.

In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto reports on the latest news of the lawsuit between families in Valpolicella over the Amarone name.

Daily Wine News: Cult of Natural Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-15-2017

(Flickr: Chris Pople)

(Flickr: Chris Pople)

Tony Naylor on the cult of natural wine in the Guardian. “It is easy to over-romanticise this world of hippy farmers, part-time idealists and big characters… Nonetheless, it is hard to be cynical about these tiny, driven winemakers.

Don’t count Amazon out of the wine game just yet, says Andrew Adams in Wines & Vines.

In Wine Enthusiast, Anne Krebiehl breaks down what happens in the rhizosphere, the area that immediately surrounds a vine’s roots.

Do we put too much emphasis on balance in wine? Oliver Styles wrestles with the issue of balance in wine in Wine-Searcher.

Bruce Sanderson shares his new impressions of Bolgheri in Wine Spectator. “Bolgheri, a hotbed of the “super Tuscan” movement, has made its name on Bordeaux varieties…Cabernet Sauvignon is still king, but its dominance has declined slightly since the 2010 survey of grape varieties planted. Merlot has also declined slightly.”

Alder Yarrow looks at the long road ahead for wine country in Purple Pages.

In SevenFifty Daily, Kathleen Willcox looks at how Quintessential Wines bucks tradition by working solely with family-run wineries around the world.

In Grape Collective, Monty Waldin talks to Federico Bartolomei of Podere Canapaccia, Montalcino’s smallest winery.

Jamie Goode writes about rediscovering his love for Barolo.

Daily Wine News: Wine from Prehistoric Georgia

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-14-2017

Georgian kvevri. (Wikimedia)

Georgian kvevri. (Wikimedia)

“Researchers found wine residue on pottery shards from two archaeological sites in Georgia dating back to 6,000 B.C. The findings are the earliest evidence so far of wine made from the Eurasian grape, which is used in nearly all wine produced worldwide,” reports the New York Times.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley talks to Kashy Khaledi of Ashes & Diamonds about Napa’s “Napathy” problem. “In Khaledi’s view, modern Napa has become too safe, too risk averse, and its wines too homogenous… Has Napa gotten lazy, resting on its laurels and churning out overblown, excessively high-octane wines?”

A private wine collector from Mississippi bought the most expensive wine ever sold at a charity auction for $350,000, according to the Daily Meal. The wine was a bottle of The Setting 2015, an Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon created by celebrity winemaker Jesse Katz.

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford considers the significance of comfort zones in wine appreciation.

Sean Sullivan breaks down what’s happening—and where—with Washington’s white wines.

Elaine Chukan Brown spends a day with Michael Brajkovich at Kumeu River in New Zealand. “Kumeu River stepped into the international stage at a time before New Zealand was recognized as a wine region….The brand’s iconic reputation has persisted.”

W. Blake Gray looks at a recent study that finds “there is no difference in wine preferences between men and women.”

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre offers tips for picking Thanksgiving wines.

Book Review: Drink Progressively, by Hadley and TJ Douglas

Posted by | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 11-13-2017

Drink Progressively CoverIt’s difficult to put a new spin on wine, but TJ and Hadley Douglas have done it with Drink Progressively, a gorgeously printed volume capturing the rhyme and reason of their award-winning wine shop, the Urban Grape, in Boston’s South End.

I met with TJ on a recent trip to Boston. Over a few glasses of Pinot, picked right off one of the store’s wall-to-wall racks, he got down to telling me about his Progressive Scale, a 0-10 ranking for white and red wines that enables average and seasoned drinkers alike to make informed buying decisions.

For whites, it starts with the 1Ws. These are oakless, steel-fermented whites with lip-smacking acidity (“lemonade,” says TJ), like Alvarinho from Portugal. It ends with the 10Ws, which see full oak and ML, like the butteriest of California Chardonnays. For reds, 1Rs have bright acidity and low tannins, like Trousseau from the Jura, and 10Rs are jammy with tons of new oak aging, like Syrah from Walla Walla.

The scale moves from light to heavy—or skim to whole milk, as TJ puts it, paying homage to Zraly’s Windows on the World, the book that launched a thousand wine careers.

It’s all meant to minimize the stress of wine selection. For those of us who hate relying on the name-tagged folks walking the aisles at Total Wine, the Urban Grape is a sanctuary. The wines are grouped by their similarities, from light to heavy, and not by region or varietal. It makes everything easy, fun, and actually encourages experimentation, which is one of TJ and Hadley’s ultimate goals.

The scale helps with food pairing too. As the subtitle (A Bold New Way to Pair Wine with Food) suggests, the book is filled with recipes. Each chapter contains a summary of a progressive category (2W, 7W, 6R, etc.), regions where the wines can be found, an example bottle, and two recipes, one from the Douglases and one from award-winning chef Gabriel Frasca. TJ and Hadley’s recipes come right from their family table, simple yet lovingly crafted amidst the hustle and bustle of raising two children. Gabriel’s, on the other hand, are fancier and require a bit more time and effort, but from the pictures they appear well worth it.

The Urban Grape is a labor of love, and that shines through in Drink Progressively. TJ and Hadley’s relationship was forged around wine—special bottles shared, tasting trips to famous regions. TJ provides the vision and content, based on his years of experience in food and wine, and Hadley brings it to life in writing. And because I’m such an appreciator of killer descriptions, I have to call out Hadley’s equating tannin to “a dragging sensation like corduroy pants on a velvet couch.” Nice!

If you’re fortunate enough to live within a reasonable distance of the Urban Grape, visit! If you’re not, Drink Progressively is the next best thing and a truly helpful guide for everyday drinking and pairing.

My Recommendation
Drink Progressively isn’t just a reshuffling of existing information, like many wine “How To” books out there. It’s unique, it’s something special, and it’s an important step, in line with so many others of late, toward making wine more accessible. If you’re interested in experimenting beyond your standard drinking wine, or concerned with learning how to match your meals with a perfect bottle, this book should be on your kitchen shelf—it’s on mine!