Daily Wine News: Nature of Tasting Notes

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-01-2015

(Flickr: fred chiang)

“Notes are, thus, a vital way of assessing wine tasting skills…But they’re more than that.” — Andrew Jefford. (Flickr: fred chiang)

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford considers the nature of descriptive tasting notes, and whether the wine world has lost sight of what a good note needs to convey.

Joshua Greene on Bordeaux 2014 in Wine Enthusiast. “While some of the wines are quite beautiful, no one would consider the vintage classic, nor could any vigneron cite a parallel among vintages past.”

In Bloomberg, Elin McCoy participated in a blind-taste test at the West of West festival, and the panel couldn’t differentiate between “true” Sonoma Coast and premier cru white Burgundy.

Are manipulated wines unnatural?” asks Doug Frost in his exploration of Napa Valley’s wines in Le Pan Magazine.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Napa Wine Train could face suit by black book club members.”

Does Gramercy Tavern have the best wine program in America? Jon Bonné explores his answer in Punch.

Jancis Robinson interviews Larry Stone — “once one of the best-known sommeliers in America, or even the world. He ran Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook estate in Napa Valley before leaving to set up his own wine estate in Oregon.”

The Guild of Sommeliers features New York City’s pioneering female sommeliers.

“Marvelous whites for about $10?” Dorothy J. Gatier says it’s possible in Grape Collective.

Wine Spectator offers a vintage preview for 2015 in Australia.

Daily Wine News: No Way Rosé

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-31-2015

"So, no disrespect, rosé. It’s not like we’re breaking up for good. Really. We just need to take a break."

“So, no disrespect, rosé. It’s not like we’re breaking up for good. Really. We just need to take a break.”

Jancis Robinson checks in on the “glorious” 2005 Burgundy vintage. “Most of the 2005 reds I had tried early in their lives had been relatively surly and tough – so I was thrilled to find that…tannins have receded and the fruit has knitted together to produce really interesting flavours with enough acidity to keep the wines appetising but with real concentration too.”

In Bon Appétit, Adam Rapoport needs a break from rosé. “…it’s hard not to think, “Hmm, maybe I should order something other than rosé this summer.” I know. Can you imagine? What else is there!”

According to Wine Spectator, a team of researchers at U.C. Irvine believes they have developed a method to sniff out counterfeit wine without opening the bottle.

Since 2004’s Sideways made a star of domestic Pinot Noir, the U.S. has planted nearly twice the acreage of the finicky grape. But can a good bottle be had for under $40? Lettie Teague finds several in the Wall Street Journal.

On ilovewine.com, 9 experts (including David!) reveal their picks for best wines under $30.

In Grape Collective, Christopher Barnes explores the political troubles and the incredible potential of Turkish wine.

Rachel Signer explains why Gamay is a sommelier’s secret weapon in Eater.

Sasha Paulsen reviews Richard Peterson’s memoir, The Winemaker, in the Napa Valley Register.

In Le Pan Magazine, W. Blake Gray on “Napa’s unsung varietal” — zinfandel.

Dave McIntyre thinks you should get to know Georgian wines in the Washington Post.

Wine Reviews: Exploring Idaho Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-29-2015

People make wine in all 50 states. You’ve probably heard this before and thought: Yeah, but how many states produce wine worth buying and drinking? California, Oregon and Washington State lead the pack, of course, and wines from New York and Virginia have been showing great stuff for many years now.

So, which state is next to prove itself to the broader American palate? Michigan is home to some exciting vino. Missouri has been a key player in the history of American viticulture. And I’m a big fan of wines from some high elevation vineyards in Arizona. New Mexico, Texas, Maryland — the patriotic palate has plenty of options.

Well, what about Idaho?

When I told my wife I’d be tasting through a dozen Idaho wines she asked: “Umm… are they potato wines?”

I’m sure Idaho winemakers have heard similar comments more times than they care to remember. It can’t be easy convincing the average American wine drinker they should consider shelling out money for a wine from a state they know little about and have probably never visited. But if you shelve any preconceived notions and actually taste the wines, you may be surprised.

Idaho wine isn’t new, but it’s growing. In 2002, the state was home to just 11 wineries. By 2014 that number had grown to 51, according to the Idaho Wine Commission. These wineries produce more than 200,000 cases of wine a year, but that amount doesn’t even put Idaho in the top ten states in terms of production. (A bit of perspective: Ohio, the tenth-largest wine producing state, churns out about four times more wine than Idaho, according to Wines Vines Analytics.) So it’s understandable that Idaho wines don’t get much recognition on retail shelves or placement on restaurant lists outside of the immediate area.

Most of the states wineries are located in the Snake River Valley, southwest of Boise. In 2007, the Snake River Valley became the state’s first American Viticultural Area (AVA), an area that includes parts of eastern Washington. Several Idaho wineries in the Willow Creek area (a more hilly and rugged region) applied for their own AVA status in 2013, but that AVA is still pending.

I’d tasted a few Idaho Rieslings before, but this mixed case was my first real introduction to the state’s wines. And, I have to say, they make a good argument that Idaho wines should be taken seriously. I appreciated the freshness in a lot of these wines, and many of them have moderate alcohol levels. Also, the price points are generally quite attractive. If I have an overall concern about this lot, it’s the overreliance on new oak. Much of the underlying fruit seems solid, but too many of the nuances are overpowered by toasted barrel scents and flavors.

Still, if this batch is any sign, there’s a lot to explore in Idaho.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

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Weekly Interview: Aurelio Montes, Jr.

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 08-28-2015

Aurelio Montes Jr.

Aurelio Montes Jr.

Each week, as our regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Aurelio Montes Jr., the head winemaker at Kaiken Wines in Mendoza, Argentina.

Kaiken is a branch of Montes Wines. Some of our readers may recall that we have interviewed the chairman of Montes Wines, Aurelio Montes, who is this week’s interviewee’s father. This interview provides an important insight into a significant winemaking family. Below, we ask Aurelio Jr. about the influence of his father on his winemaking.

Aurelio Jr. is not, however, a home-grown winemaker. Instead, he traveled across the country to work at many wineries not affiliated with Montes Wines before he returned to the family business in 2007. It’ll be interesting to observe the next generation of wines from the Montes family.

Check out the interview below the fold!

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Daily Wine News: “Wine o’clock”

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-28-2015

Screen-Shot-2015-08-27-at-10.01.08-AMThe Oxford English Dictionary has entered the term “wine o’clock,” reports Tyler Colman.

“Though it’s not exactly her intention, Ms. Heekin and her La Garagista wines demonstrate that wines made of hybrid grapes can not only be deliciously satisfying but can also show a sense of place.” In the New York Times, Eric Asimov visits La Garagista in Vermont, and finds hybrid grapes that stand up to Vermont’s elements.

As top-end producers in Napa push the severity of their selections to ever more extreme limits, Kelli White wonders in the World of Fine Wine if they might be going too far, sacrificing individuality, complexity, and balance for concentration, softness, and purity of fruit.

Experts at UC Davis discuss wild or native fermentation, and other yeast issues in Wines & Vines.

Forbes’ Cathy Huyghe talks with an Amazon wine executive about analytics, pricing, commoditizing, and more.

Single critic opinions of panel tastings? Jamie Goode wants to know which is best.

Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka attends a four vintage vertical tasting of Langmeil Barossa The Freedom 1843 Shiraz and shares her thoughts.

A new wine book on China’s rapid emergence on the fine wine scene – and its sudden retreat – could make uncomfortable reading for several classified Bordeaux chateaux, writes Jane Anson in Decanter.

In Entrepreneur, Tracy Byrnes wants to know how much you should tip on a bottle of wine.

In the Los Angeles Times, “wine accessories you probably need now.”

Daily Wine News: Reappraising Graves

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-27-2015

White Bordeaux from Graves (Wikimedia)

White Bordeaux from Graves (Wikimedia)

Despite being the only high-profile Bordeaux sub-region classified for superb dry whites as well as excellent reds, Graves is still widely misunderstood and underexplored, says Elin McCoy, who argues that a reappraisal is long overdue in the World of Fine Wine.

NPR looks at the rise of rosé wine in the United States, and how the skyrocketing sales have impacted winemakers from Provence.

In Palate Press, Joe Roberts discovers heroic viticulture on the island of Pantelleria. “Viticulture revolves around the singular concern of protecting vines from the island’s unforgiving winds…”

E. & J. Gallo Winery (Gallo) announced that it has agreed to purchase Talbott Vineyards, located within the premier Santa Lucia Highlands appellation near Monterey Bay.

Wine Folly’s Madeline Puckette investigates whether the 2015 Washington Wines will be ruined by the recent wildfires.

Nickolaus Hines covers the evolution of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA in Grape Collective.

In the Telegraph, Victoria Moore thinks 2014 is a stellar year for Loire wines.

Wines & Vines reveals the secrets of cork testing and how the results are used.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, explains how China’s crisis threatens the U.S. wine industry.

On the New Yorker’s “Out Loud” Podcast, Bianca Bosker and Rachel Arons join Amelia Lester and David Haglund to discuss the language of wine.

Daily Wine News: The Chianti Debate

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-26-2015

Does Chianti have an image problem?

Does Chianti have an image problem? (Source: Wikimedia)

Does Chianti have an image problem? In Decanter, experts line up on both sides of the debate to have their say on the Tuscany wine region.

Wine Spectator reports that the word Vouvray will no longer appear on the labels of two of Vouvray’s leading winemakers—Jacky Blot, of Domaine de la Taille aux Loups, and François Chidaine. As of the 2013 vintage, the wines will be sold as Vin de France, thanks to a change in appellation laws the winemakers say they were blindsided by.

Oregon winemakers have singled out the UK as a major contributor to a 50% leap in wine exports for the state, reports Nigel Huddleston in Harpers UK.

According to the Telegraph, a retired surgeon sued an air-conditioning firm he claims destroyed his £200,000 wine collection, consisting of 1,253 luxury wines.

The chief executive of the Napa Valley wine train has apologized for his staff’s ‘insensitive’ actions after their decision to eject 11 women spurred a wave of criticism on social media, saying “The Napa Valley wine train was 100 percent wrong in its handling of this issues.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, on “The Rise of the UNESCO World Heritage Vineyard.

In VICE, Royce Kurmelovs says Australia’s largest wine producing region — South Australia — is struggling.

The Drinks Business explores the wines of Mexico.

America’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers” in Wine Enthusiast.

Emma Janzen recommends Spanish white wines to drink as the summer months start to wane in Imbibe.

Daily Wine News: Fake Wine Detective

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-25-2015

(Source: Wikimedia)

(Source: Wikimedia)

Michael Egan shares what it’s like to be a “fake wine detective” in the Financial Times. “The wine counterfeiters I’ve helped to pinpoint include Rudy Kurniawan, [who last year became the first person to be jailed for wine fraud in the US]. I was the government’s expert during the trial.”

Is Verdicchio ready for its renaissance? In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto visits Umani Ronchi in Marche, the epicenter of Verdicchio’s quality revolution.

In Le Pan Magazine, Jamie Goode makes the case for natural wine, and Christy Canterbury makes the case against natural wine.

Fast Company on the rise of orange wine, and why the world’s oldest winemaking technique is making a comeback.

Before Robert Parker, there was another influential voice guiding the wine world: Emile Peynaud. In Food Republic, Tom Acitelli explains “the real reason Americans love big, strong wines.”

Ron Washam’s (aka the satirist, The HoseMaster of Wine) “blind book review” of Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible: 2nd Edition.

In Condé Nast Traveler, Krisanne Fordham explores Sicily’s emerging wine scene.

Wine & Spirits Magazine announced the Best New Sommeliers of 2015.

In VinePair, “How Wine Bricks Saved The U.S. Wine Industry During Prohibition.

One in five people over the age of 65 drink to “unsafe levels”, according to a study by King’s College London.

Daily Wine News: One Year After Quake

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-24-2015

A facility where the Matthiassons stored wine. (Courtesy: Matthiasson Wine.)

A facility where the Matthiassons stored wine in the aftermath of last year’s earthquake. (Courtesy: Matthiasson Wine.)

In the Napa Valley Register, Jennier Huffman looks back on the earthquake that struck the heart of California’s wine country one year ago today, on August 24. “An estimated 60 percent of area wineries suffered some degree of damage in the disaster, with losses at more than $80 million… Today, all are believed to be back in business.”

One year after the earthquake, “the local wine community as a whole is as healthy as ever,” reports Esther Mobley in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Eric Asimov looks at how California’s drought has impacted winemaking in the New York Times. “Across the state, though, the drought has caused soul-searching in the wine industry… as wineries rethink how they use water and the way they do business.”

Jon Bonné and Valerie Masten’s recent wedding is featured elsewhere in the New York Times.

Dave McIntyre on “the Southern California” wine region whose appellation got an upgrade, Paso Robles in the Washington Post. But wait…since when is Paso Robles in SoCal?

Alder Yarrow features the Champagnes of Savart. “There is a reason that Savart’s wines have become the darlings of sommeliers and wine geeks everywhere… they display a fierce individuality that makes no apologies for itself, and it is this quality that sings in every glass.

Do women get shortchanged when it comes to wine and dining out? Lettie Teague investigates in the Wall Street Journal.

In the Guardian, David Williams wonders how good cooking wine needs to be.

Wine Reviews: Values from Chile & Argentina

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-22-2015

Chile and Argentina have been producing slick, tasty, inexpensive wines for a long time. When I first started (legally) tasting and exploring wines after college, I bought up lots of bottles from producers like Catena, Trivento and Concha y Toro. They were attractive for their inexpensive prices and easily identifiable labels, the grape variety stuck on there front and center.

Fast forward a decade, and these producers are still standard bearers for South American accessibility. With large production levels and wide availability in many markets, these bottles comprise a cheap crash course in South American vino.

I found nothing novel or exciting in this bunch. These wines won’t leave you contemplating your existence. But for $12-$25, Chile and Argentina still deliver.

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