Wine Reviews: California Grab Bag Reds

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized, Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-04-2015

It’s the dead of summer and it’s hot here in the District. These days, white and pink wines are my go-to. That said, drinking juicy California red wines and grilling out on a summer day is something of a patriotic duty for the American wine lover. And what better day than the Fourth of July to crack some Cali Zin, Petite Sirah or Charbono and toast to the good ol’ US of A?

These diverse wines were received as trade samples and tasted single blind.

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Weekly Interview: Michael Heny

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 07-03-2015


Michael Heny

Michael Heny

Each week, as our regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. After a much-too-long hiatus, this week, we are featuring Michael Heny, the winemaker at Horton Vineyards.

Located in Monticello wine country, Horton Vineyards was founded in 1988 by Dennis Horton and Joan Bieda. Michael joined the team seventeen years ago and has overseen Horton’s production of a vast portfolio of wines, which includes rare varietals like Petit Manseng and Rkatsiteli.

Michael presented some of Horton’s wines recently at an event organized by the Rhone Rangers. Having tried the wines, and having greatly enjoyed them, I look forward to getting to know Horton — and other Virginia wines — more.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Wild Weather Woes

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-03-2015

The next Wine School lesson (Flickr: Lazy_Artist)

Next up in Wine School… (Flickr: Lazy_Artist)

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov offers notes on the most recent Wine School, Cava, and announces what’s up for next month: Santorini Assyrtiko.

VinePair’s Adam Teeter and Joshua Malin believe millennials drink, and think, about wine differently than other generations do. Lettie Teague profiles the two men and their online wine magazine in the Wall Street Journal.

According to Decanter, “temperatures have soared across Europe this week, in a heatwave reminiscent of the prolonged hot summer of the 2003 vintage in French wine regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne.”

Wines & Vines reports that wild weather has many Northwest growers “on toes.”

In the Record, recommendations for all-American wine for your 4th of July festivities.

Eater chats with E.P. + L.P.’s GM/sommelier Kamden Watson about wines that pair with barbecue.

W. Blake Gray on why, for most people, the location of Pinot Noir vineyards doesn’t matter.

In the Napa Valley Register, Bob Ecker reports on the first Cal-China Wine Cultural Exchange (CCWCE), which “primarily focused on understanding the immense and emerging Chinese wine market from an import/export perspective.”

Wine Enthusiast’s maps out America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants.

Jameson Fink interviews Gaetana Jacono of Valle dell’Acate in Sicily who is straddling the traditional and the modern in Grape Collective.

Mashable’s Susan Shain thinks Georgia is the next big food and wine destination.

Daily Wine News: Charting Trends

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-02-2015

The newest method of gathering wine trends data. (Source: Delectable)

The newest method of gathering wine trends data. (Source: Delectable)

In the New York Times, Stephen Heyman reports that Delectable is releasing data collected from 1 million user submissions to show how wine drinking habits are changing among those who use the app.

Will Lyons profiles Bordeaux’s Château Pontet-Canet and highlights the winery’s biodynamic winemaking in the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Drinks Business, “twelve wines have been given “perfect” 100-point ratings in Robert Parker’s 10-year retrospective of the 2005 Bordeaux vintage.”

In Decanter, Jane Anson examines why there is so much resistance to new ideas when it comes to sweet wine, and talks to the “Mick Jagger of winemaking, Dr Ernst Loosen.”

Joel B. Payne ponders Jura’s future in Vinous. “The local authorities…see Chardonnay as the future of the appellation and are paying producers to rip out old vineyards planted with Poulsard and Trousseau and replace them with Burgundian clones.”

Almost 40 years after it was made, Cockburn’s 1977 Vintage Port is finally released, reports Adam Lechmere in Wine-Searcher.

In Eater, “How Brianne Day is Leading the Next Generation of Natural Oregon Winemakers.”

Jordan Michelman lists “7 Natural Wines You Need In Your Life Right Now” in Sprudge.

Mary Orlin suggest 5 great wine books for summer reading in the San Jose Mercury News.

Daily Wine News: Rise and Fall of Coravin

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-01-2015

(Flickr: bovinum)

(Flickr: bovinum)

Jamie Goode looks at the rise and fall of Coravin in the World of Fine Wine, and asks if swift action by its manufacturers has been enough to turn things around for a tool with the potential to transform the way fine wine is consumed.

In Forbes, Cathy Huyghe on Austria’s wine success, and how the country is able to earn more while producing less.

The head of the wine council for Beaujolais has revealed that the region is hoping to gain appellation status for its sparkling wines, although approval is expected to take around five years, reports Decanter.

In Wine Spectator, Google street view goes inside California wine country.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, shares concerns for New Zealand wines and terroir’s importance in marketing them.

In the Sacramento Bee, Mike Dunne features California winemakers who are embracing Iberia’s albariño.

Miguel Torres Maczassek, the general manager of Spain’s most famous wine brand talks about Chile’s forgotten grape varieties, China and Lego in Wine-Searcher.

In Wine Enthusiast, “10 All-American Sparkling Wines Under $30” for July 4th.

In VinePair, Laura Burguess toasts “badass American wines” and the laws that make them possible.

Dave McIntyre explains why the American market is so important to Bordeaux winemakers in the Washington Post.

Daily Wine News: Vineyard Mapping

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-30-2015

A detailed vineyard map of Barolo (Source: Consorzio di Tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Roero)

A detailed vineyard map of Barolo (Source: Consorzio di Tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Roero)

“Burgundy, by comparison with Barolo and Barbaresco, is so simple to understand: one slope,” says Andrew Jefford in Decanter. “…but the majestically quilted Langhe in Piedmont is a grand puzzle. Is that why it now has some of the best vineyard mapping in the world?”

Tyler Colman notices Europe’s searing heatwave, and not just in Greece. Searing temperatures are expected in Burgundy, Bordeaux, Barolo, Brunello, Britain, and more.

Alder Yarrow gets a first taste of Idaho wine and finds that in most of the wines he sampled the dominant flavor was wood. “Having said all that, these wines from Idaho did show some redeeming features, namely that the climate certainly seems capable of producing wines with freshness and bright acidity, and that some people are trying for as much.”

Meg Maker features Cathy Corison and her wines. ‘“Every little thing in wine is small,” Cathy said, “but it adds up to something big.”’

In Wine Spectator, Harvey Steiman believes Malbec is poised to become Washington’s next breakout grape.

Gavin Quinney of Château Bauduc sends a report on the 2015 vintage in Bordeaux so far to Jancis Robinson’s Purple Pages.

In San Francisco Weekly, “Cheers to San Francisco’s Emerging Wine Bar Trend & Tofino Wines.”

Tom Wark wonders if America’s small, “craft-oriented” wineries should rethink its position on adopting the term “craft wine”

Jonathan Lipsmeyer thinks Wine Geology 101 is a book that needs to be written.

English wine is to be served at Wimbledon this year for the first time reports Rebecca Smithers in the Guardian.

Daily Wine News: Meditations on Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-29-2015

Cathy Corison (Corison Winery)

Cathy Corison (Corison Winery)

“More than anything, these wines are a meditation on the relationship between a woman, her vines, and the place she calls home. And what a statement it is.” Alder Yarrow shares his thoughts after tasting through 25 years of Corison Napa Cabernet.

In Lucky Peach, Patrick Comiskey looks at how winemakers are flirting with flaws to disrupt California’s greatest asset: fruit.

Aaron Ayscough of Not Drinking Poison in Paris visits Jean-Claude Lapalu in Beaujolais. “A born raconteur, he’s among the rare great vignerons whose verbal expressivity is a match for that of his wines.”

The discovery of the ocean as an ideal cellar has yielded a rash of new underwater-aged wines—but many of them are no different from their land-aged brethren. In Punch, Zachary Sussman on one very notable exception: Julie Benau’s Libero, a picpoul aged for six months in barrels submerged in an oyster bed.

In Decanter, Howard G. Goldberg offers the ultimate tour of the Finger Lakes, where you can find “arguably the best Riesling outside Europe are the drawcards of this exciting region.

A chemist from Chicago has created a disposable filter to remove the added sulfites from a bottle of wine, reports W. Blake Gray in Wine-Searcher.

Jancis Robinson explores how producers are experimenting with Savagnin Blanc in Australia and how Jura wines have become the height of fashion with certain wine trendsetters.

Stephen Tanzer does a horizontal tasting of Napa Valley’s 2004 Cabernets in Vinous.

In Business Insider, “5 rosés for serious wine drinkers.”

Wine Reviews: California Merlot

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 06-27-2015

A decade ago a character in some movie made some comment about Merlot sucking. All of the sudden, poor Merlot was persona non grata.

Not sure what all the fuss was about because Merlot can be a beautiful thing. Sure, there’s plenty of uninspiring Merlot, but replace the word Merlot with any grape and the same thing would be true.

Luckily for me, this bunch of California Merlots contained a few really good ones. The wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine At The End of History: How the New York Times (Sort Of) Saved the World From the Natural Wine Revolution

Posted by | Posted in Commentary | Posted on 06-26-2015

(Flickr: winestem)

(Flickr: winestem)

Whether you know it or not, you’re witnessing a revolution. Being a wine drinker in recent years has meant taking sides (or refusing to take sides, which is just another version of a side) in a revolution in how wine is made and consumed.

While the battle has been waged mostly beneath the radar of the non-wine geek world, a recent article in the New York Times Magazine has changed this.

In “The Wrath of Grapes,” Bruce Schoenfeld embeds himself on the front lines where upstart winemakers and sommeliers have been fighting for balanced and “natural” wines — against overripe, alcoholic, bombastic “Parkerized” wines — in the very territory where the enemy seemed to have the surest hold: California.

The revolution took shape in all the regular ways. There was the overbearing, conservative dictator (Robert Parker) who controlled the information and, increasingly, seemingly, the means of production. There were the radical gorilla fighters (the biodynamic winemakers) getting their hands dirty while other rebellious ideologues (sommeliers, bloggers) pursued the Manifesto of Balance online and in the coolest new restaurants. Across the disputed zone, in underground wine stores and restaurants – and deep in the bunkers of certain online wine blogs and boards — weak and staticy instructions were sent out to the comrades and a counter-market of natural wines gained foothold on both coasts. And there’s been a lot of carnage; just ask the Australian wine industry.

Perhaps more than anything else, the Times article makes clear that The Dictator is all too good at playing his role. Like any good dictator, he ignored the voice of the opposition. And then, precisely at the point his power was most tenuous, he only acknowledged the counter-movement to say that it didn’t actually exist: “The jihadist movements of non­sulphured wines, green, underripe wines, low alcohol, insipid stuff promoted by the anti-­pleasure police & neo-­anti-­alcohol proponents has run its course as another extreme and useless movement few care about.”

In his inimitably gruff, paratactic writing style, Robert Parker speaks with immodest certitude, disregarding the opposition while issuing his 100-point decrees.

Admittedly, no matter which side you’ve been on, it’s been exciting times to be a wine drinker. But I’m ready to climb out of the trenches. I’m going AWOL. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: The Wine Snob

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-26-2015

(Flickr: pedrosimoes7)

(Flickr: pedrosimoes7)

On the blog for First Vine, Tom Natan comments on the recent debates over wine snobbery. “I don’t think you should lord your taste (good or bad) or expertise over anyone. At the same time, though, why is it OK to disparage people who happen to enjoy more expensive wines or who bother to learn more about a subject they enjoy?”

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov’s tips on how to make an outdoor glass of wine as enjoyable as possible.

Will Lyons ponders whether Australian wine can rule again and features the wines of Brian Croser, owner of the Tapanappa winery, in the Wall Street Journal.

Joe Roberts, 1WineDude, wants to know why we’re still debating the merits of the 100 point scale and whether or not traditional wine criticism influence is waning.

Tyler Colman explains why you don’t find winery restaurants in the U.S. Surprise, surprise — it’s all thanks to Prohibition.

“More” was the theme Wine Spectator’s James Laube took away from this year’s VinExpo. “The next decade and more promise to provide American wine drinkers, already the most curious and well-financed of consumers, with even more and better wines competing for their attention.”

W. Blake Gray finds that the book Vermouth by Adam Ford is not as tasty as Vermouth the wine.

In the Daily Meal, “Why the Texas Wine Industry Is Set to Become a Major Player.”

Bordeaux’s criminal court found all 15 men involved in robbing 18 wineries and négoiants in Bordeax in 2013 guilty, reports Wine Spectator.

Decanter shares an excerpt about monasteries and Clos de Vougeot in the 12th century from Oz Clarke’s new book, The History of Wine in 100 Bottles.

In Forbes, Katie Kelly Bell offers an updated guide to the best wine clubs.