Daily Wine News: Rethinking Wine Criticism

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-18-2019



Eric Asimov says it’s time to rethink wine criticism. “I believe that the most valuable thing wine writers can do is to help consumers develop confidence enough to think for themselves. This can best be achieved by helping consumers gain enough knowledge to make their own buying decisions without the crutch of the bottle review… Perhaps a better way of making useful recommendations to consumers is to evaluate producers rather than particular bottles.”

Alder Yarrow explores “Napa’s Royal Cabernets” from Oakville. “Oakville is ground zero for Napa Cabernet, and with good reason. Year over year it produces some of the most tremendous wines in the valley. It’s hard to say that one particular area of Napa truly produces the best Cabernet, but it’s also hard to find someplace that has more claim to that title than the Oakville AVA.”

“Legendary wine importer Rudi Wiest is selling his personal wine collection,” reports Aleks Zecevic in Wine Spectator. “Now, after more than 40 years of collecting and nearly 7,000 bottles amassed, Wiest is ready to part with his collection.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Vicki Denig takes a look at America’s new nouveau-style wine boom.

Elsewhere in Wine Enthusiast, Maggie Hennessy explores Michigan’s growing wine scene.

In Vinous, Antonio Galloni offers his notes on the 2016s from Domaine Leroy. “Given the tiny production, I expected the 2016s to be even richer than they typically are. Instead, I was completely blown away by the elegance and finesse of the wines. The Leroy 2016s are striking, transparent Burgundies that pulse with energy and the expression of site that Bize-Leroy cherishes above all else.”

In Meininger’s, Simon Woolf summarizes an argument going on withing the natural wine community over the merits of glou-glou. (subscription req.)

Daily Wine News: Rosé…Berries?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-17-2019

Screen Shot 2019-06-16 at 5.21.08 PMThe rosé trend has now come for our strawberries, apparently. Driscoll’s just launched “Rosé Berries™” that are inspired by the color and flavor of rosé wine—which often tastes of…berries.

On the blog for First Vine, Tom Natan continues to explore the reasons why wine writing is less diverse than food writing, and what can be done to change that.

“South Africa’s wine industry is facing a challenging future and it is desperately searching for a hero – an icon wine,” says James Lawrence in Wine-Searcher. “South Africa, unlike Argentina and New Zealand, lacks a strong USP or overarching brand identity.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Michael Schachner reports that Chile’s red blends are having a moment.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre looks into the issues involved when recycling wine bottles. “Many counties and cities don’t recycle glass, even if they have recycling programs… The recycling industry as a whole is “in disruption…”

In the Daily Camera, Doug Brown pens a profile of Frasca’s Bobby Stuckey, who won the award last month for Outstanding Service from the James Beard Foundation.

James Lawther MW explores what determines freshness in Sauternes in Decanter. (subscription req.)

Grape Collective talks to Luca Baccarelli of Roccofiore about organic winemaking in Umbria and native grapes Grechettto and Sagrantino.

What does it take to launch a wine brand in the U.S.? In Meininger’s, Roger Morris follows the creation of Kin & Cascadia to find out.

Wine Reviews: Oregon

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 06-15-2019

It’s been a while since I’ve focused on some Oregon wines, but this week I have some special bottles that remind me why I fell in love with Oregon in the first place.

I’ve written a lot in the past about Troon Vineyard’s Applegate Valley wines over the years. With an organic and biodynamic approach and a seemingly endless desire to experiment with different varieties, blends, and styles, I’m always excited to see what they come up with next.

This was my first time tasting wines from Hazelfern Cellars, and I was immediately impressed. This is a family effort of husband-wife duo Bryan and Laura Laing, who founded this project in 2014. They started making wine together in their Portland basement in 2006 — fast forward to 2015, when they planted an estate vineyard with Pinot Noir, Gamay and Trousseau in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. If these two Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are any sign, they have things honed in remarkably well. Seems to me a winery to watch in the future.

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

Daily Wine News: Armenian Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-14-2019

Vineyards of Artashat in Armenia (Wikimedia)

Vineyards of Artashat in Armenia (Wikimedia)

“Unlike neighboring Georgia, where wine production has continued unabated for millennia, Armenia’s wine culture has ebbed and flowed, and occasionally been drowned by waves of inclement history. Yet a growing number of Armenians are returning home with ambitions to resurrect the country’s wine industry, exploring Armenia’s abundance of literally antediluvian grape varieties.” John Szabo explores Armenia’s wine renaissance in Wine & Spirits Magazine.

Wine Enthusiast announces their annual list of America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants.

In Wine-Searcher, Tom Hyland talks to Vietti’s Luca Currado about the sale of his company and protecting his brand and family.

In response to last week’s events, Cathy Huyghe discusses satire and misogyny in the wine industry with Alice Feiring in Forbes.

In the Los Angeles Times, Joe Mozingo investigates how the upscale wine country of Santa Barbara became the epicenter of pot cultivation in California.

In the Drinks Business, Lucy Shaw explores Sardinia’s native grapes.

In Vinous, Josh Raynolds takes a look at several Willamette Valley vintages.

On RobertParker.com’s Wine Journal, Liv-ex’s Anthony Maxwell looks back at some of the times when Robert Parker moved the Bordeaux market.

Daily Wine News: Time to Retire “Natural Wine?”

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-13-2019

(Flickr: Chris Pople)

(Flickr: Chris Pople)

Is it time to retire the phrase “natural wine?” Christina Pickard explores the issue in Wine Enthusiast. “Despite the style’s environmentally responsible directives and positive attributes, some longtime natural winemakers­ are now opting out, requesting that those who sell and support their wines cease referring to them as “natural.”… As natural wine’s evolution marches forward, the need for a new classification or, perhaps more realistically, a certification program, becomes ever more apparent.”

Is oak over in wine? Jamie Goode ponders the complex answer in VinePair. “But, as with any trend in wine – even a correcting one – the pendulum often swings too far. Just because over-oaking is a problem, it doesn’t mean that all oak is bad. Small oak barrels, including new ones, have a role in forming fine wines. Oak can never truly be “over.” We simply need to be smarter about how we use, think, and talk about it.”

On his blog, Jamie Goode addresses why “like what you like” is generally bad advice when it comes to wine.

Chris Yorke, global marketing director of New Zealand Winegrowers, has been named as the new head of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, taking over from the departing Willi Klinger.

Felicty Carter shares three things to know about wine writing.

In Wine Spectator, James Molesworth looks at how Napa Valley’s Colgin Cellars’ model—production, site-specific, finessed Cabernets—is a proven method for success.

On his Good Vitis blog, Aaron Menenberg relives a few memories through tasting a 2004 bottle of Syrah.

Daily Wine News: Rotgipfler & Zierfandler

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-12-2019

Zierfandler. (Photo credit: Weinland Thermenregion)

Zierfandler. (Photo credit: Weinland Thermenregion)

“Why, in the past decade or so, have we all felt so drawn to native grapes? Is it simply the inevitable urge to rip up the global wall-to-wall carpeting of international varieties? Or is there more zeitgeist at work?” In Grape Collective, Valerie Kathawala pens an in-depth look at the wines of Bernhard Stadlmann, the eighth generation of his family to work with Rotgipfler and Zierfandler in the heart of the Thermenregion in Austria. “The Thermenregion is the only place in Austria — the world, in fact — where Zierfandler and Rotgipfler have always had pride of place in the region’s best vineyards.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Mike Dunne has a piece about Shake Ridge Ranch, Amador County’s most highly acclaimed vineyard. “By California vineyard standards, Shake Ridge Ranch is an adolescent, starting to yield fruit only in 2005. In just 14 years, however, it has gained an uncommon stature among the state’s vineyards.”

Will subregions be the future of Provence rosé? Edith Hancock explores the idea in the Drinks Business.

In Wine Enthusiast, Alexander Peartree offers a travel guide to the Finger Lakes wine region.

According to Vitisphere, 12 percent of all French vineyards were organic in 2018, a 20 percent increase since 2017.

In VinePair, Ryan Hughley takes a close look at the sustainability efforts being made at López de Heredia.

Panos Kakaviatos highlights the stars in St-Estèphe beyond the classed growths in Decanter. (subscription req.)

Trump is threatening to put tariffs on French wine again.

Daily Wine News: 900-Year-Old Savagnin Blanc Discovery

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-11-2019

Savagnin Blanc (Wikimedia)

Savagnin Blanc (Wikimedia)

In the Atlantic, Sarah Zhang reports on findings that show Savagnin Blanc has been continuously propagated for at least 900 years. “Nathan Wales…and his collaborators came across the 900-year-old Savagnin Blanc among 28 grape seeds excavated from nine different archaeological sites around France. The seeds dated back to the medieval period, the Roman era (100 BCE to 500 AD), and in one case, even the Iron Age (500 BCE). The team found six separate pairs or groups of genetically identical seeds, sometimes hundreds of miles apart. The clones had almost certainly spread through vegetative propagation by humans.”

In Forbes, Lauren Mowery talks to Jen Parr about her transition from being a financial software saleswoman in America to a noted Pinot Noir winemaker in Central Otago with Valli Wine.

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Joshua Green comments on the 2017 Vintage Port declaration.

Neal Martin also explores the 2017 Vintage Ports in Vinous. “Clearly, these 2017 Vintage Ports merit a General Declaration. In fact, it would not surprise me if General Declarations do become more frequent, because winemaking techniques have improved so much in recent years. Nowadays not only is there more expertise in the vineyard, but winemaking techniques have been vastly fine-tuned…”

People see what they want to see, says Robert Joseph in Meininger’s. And that could spell trouble for some, including the English sparkling wine industry.

Marian Bull does a deep dive into natural wine for Vox.

On Robert Parker’s Wine Journal, R.H. Drexel reflects on BottleRock 2019.

Daily Wine News: Natural Wine + Wellness

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-10-2019

girl-162122_1280In VinePair, I respond to the New York Times piece about natural wine and self-care. “No alcoholic beverage is healthy. While some of it may be less bad for you than others, no alcohol is inherently good for you. Not triple-distilled vodka, not veggie-based cocktails, not low-calorie beer. Not even natural wine… By spreading the idea that it’s better than all other wines, natural wine enthusiasts are ironically engaging in the same elitist mentality that the movement formed in opposition against.”

Jancis Robinson is also thinking about natural wines. “A very significant proportion of the wine establishment, by which I mean producers and traders of conventional wine, roll their eyes at the very mention of natural wine. On the other hand, there is no shortage of converts to natural wine who, like the Frenchette team, will not sully their or their customers’ palates with wine they do not consider natural. They have a tendency to lecture the world on the iniquities of conventional wine.”

Sophia McDonald explores why mondeuse is gaining popularity among U.S. somms in SevenFifty Daily.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre looks at the ways climate change is reshaping wine. “Germany’s rieslings and the Loire Valley’s cabernet francs are enjoying more reliable harvests, year after year, than they were even a decade ago. English sparkling wine is challenging champagne. Sure, there are other factors involved, such as improved winemaking, but the effects of climate change are obvious.”

For most wines, glass bottles make no sense, says Jamie Goode.

Stephanie Cain considers the death of the wine country tasting room in Fortune.

In Wine-Searcher, Tom Jarvis delves into old vines.

Wine Reviews: California

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 06-08-2019

This week I have a big bundle of new releases from all over California.

Amici Cellars has been around for years, and I’ve found them to be a source of consistent, moderately-priced staples like Russian River Pinot and Napa Sauvignon Blanc. Their sister label Olema focuses on value-driven wines, and they’re quite good for the price.

Sonoma’s Jordan Winery comes through again with their Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, while Napa stalwart Shafer comes out swinging with their 2017 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay.

I also tasted a handful of wines from Morgan, which began back in 1982. Sourcing fruit from the Santa Lucia Highlands and Monterey, these wines offer lots of juicy fruit but show elegance and freshness as well. And they really deliver for the price. A few wines from FEL, Mi Sueno and Luck Rock Wine Co. round out this report.

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

Winemaker Interview: Gabriele Tacconi

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 06-07-2019

Gabriele Tacconi

Gabriele Tacconi

As our regular readers know, from time to time, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker to probe their winemaking philosophy and to gain insight into how they became who they are. This week, we are featuring Gabriele Tacconi, the chief winemaker at Ruffino.

You have undoubtedly seen at least some of Ruffino’s wines in wine shops and restaurants. But you may not have known that Ruffino was founded by Ilario and Leopoldo Ruffino in 1877 — more than 140 years ago — and that Ruffino has continued traditional winemaking while collecting prized vineyards. And while you may be familiar with Ruffino’s Prosecco, Riserva Ducale (Chianti Classico Riserva), or Riserva Ducale Oro (Chianti Classico Gran Selezione), you may not have known that Ruffino also makes Lodola Nuova (Vino Nobile), Modus (Super Tuscan), and Greppone Mazzi (Brunello).

Gabriele has been with Ruffino since 1998. After eleven years, in 2009, he became Ruffino’s chief winemaker, handling production of all of Ruffino’s wines, and he has continued in that role for ten years now.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »