Daily Wine News: New Theory of Terroir

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-26-2015


Is bacteria around the root system of vines the secret to terroir? (Flickr: farenough)

Scientists say the secret to terroir could have more to do with bacteria around the root system of a vine than the soil that it grows in, reports Decanter.

In Wine Searcher, Adam Lechmere discusses the process of preparing a blend for Bordeaux en primeur week and the controversies surrounding the practice.

Sorry, hangover-free wine still doesn’t exist. According to Wine Spectator, the development of a hangover-free wine has been “grossly overstated.”

Elsewhere in Wine Spectator, Harvey Steiman asks, “How real is minerality?

In Bloomberg, Elin McCoy says Benchmark Capital’s Kevin Harvey’s “savory, earthy, silky-textured Rhys Vineyards pinots are the closest yet to a California version of great Burgundy—and it’s time to pounce.”

“We must plant more grapevines, increase harvests, and produce more wine to meet demand,” says Virginia’s Governor McAuliffe. The 2014 harvest in Virginia showed that wine grape production had increased by 17 percent from the previous year’s harvest.

Wine Folly details the top wine producing countries of the world. China is now in the top 5.

According to new research, wine tasters’ teeth are at risk of rapid erosion.

In Forbes, Britt Karlsson tastes the world’s most expensive rosé wine and asks if rosé can ever be a great wine.

Daily Wine News: What’s the Big Deal?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-25-2015


J Vineyards & Winery, just purchased by E. & J. Gallo (Flickr: yajico)

“So you want to be a wine writer. Why?” asks Mike Dunne, in a summary of his experience at the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers in the Sacramento Bee.

“E. & J. Gallo, the world’s largest wine company, has purchased J Vineyards & Winery, a prominent Sonoma county producer of sparkling wine, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir,” reports Wine Spectator.

Tom Wark thinks “Robert Parker is wrong,” and that he’s not “part of the problem.”

What’s the big deal about Kosher wine? Adam Lechmere wants to know in Wine Searcher.

Alfonso Cevola looks at “why this might be our last Vinitaly in Verona.”

“If the industry is to lure the under-35 crowd away from beer and spirits to wine, it has to find ways to speak to them in their own language,” says Steve Heimoff.

“Holy moly. WTF, Wine Country? Something is seriously wrong.” Alder Yarrow comments on the current events in California wine country.

Frances Dinkelspiel visits Boisset’s new tool museum at Buena Vista in the Berkleyside Nosh.

Jancis Robinson congratulates the five new Masters of Wine.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, offers exchange rate lessons from “Australia’s Wine Boom and Bust.”

Monty Waldin offers a lesson on “pet nat” wines in Grape Collective.

Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka gets to know Lexington wines from Gist Ranch Vineyard.

Daily Wine News: “A Caste System”

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-24-2015

(Flickr: winestem)

“Of course, I’m part of the problem there by giving high scores…” — Robert Parker    (Flickr: winestem)

Robert Parker tells the Drinks Business “we have a caste system of wine.” He also admits that he is “partly to blame for the demand and subsequent high prices of certain fine wines.”

“Is anyone else wondering what happened to the investigation of the French Laundry wine theft?” In the Napa Valley Register, Jeannine Yeomans thinks it’s strange that no suspects have been arrested since the majority of the wines were recovered in late January.

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray reports on the potential ties between “certified sustainable” programs and the wineries accused in a lawsuit last week as having ‘dangerous’ levels of arsenic.”

“If you don’t think the arsenic story is a big deal, you better think again,” says Tom Wark. “…if bogus claims like this are left to metastasis it can grow into a cancer on the industry that will be hard to overcome.”

In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto profiles Cristiana Garella, who has been obsessed with Nebbiolo since he was a teenager.

Is mixed ripeness — some grapes barely ripe, some almost over-ripe — desirable at harvest time? “In principle, no,” says Andrew Jefford in Decanter.

“Do clones matter when it comes to chardonnay?” asks Mary Cressler in Palate Press.

In Punch, Zachary Sussman visits June, a new Brooklyn wine bar that offers a glimpse into how natural wine has gone from fringe movement to global phenomenon.

Daily Wine News: Scaremongering

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-23-2015

Not Napa. (Flickr: bunnicula)

Not Napa. (Flickr: bunnicula)

Worried about arsenic in wine? Alder Yarrow thinks it’s “a bullshit, scaremongering story.”

“Eleven years on from the release of Sideways, the movie that put wine tourism on the map… the region in which it is set is arguably one of the least developed in terms of facilities for visitors.” Jancis Robinson tries to understand Santa Barbara’s struggle for tourism.

Jon Bonné pens a farewell of sorts in the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Wine Searcher lists more than 6.8 million different wines. If you tried one wine a day, it would take 18,617 years to try them all and you’d then be well behind the times with each new vintage growing the list further.” In Wine Searcher, Rebecca Gibb wonders if there’s too many wines in the world.

Sophie Barrett thinks “it’s f—ed up that most people in the wine business demand the “freshest” rosé on the market.”

In Grape Collective, Dorothy Gaiter talks with Paul Hobbs about Malbec’s rise, the influence of Robert Parker Jr., and his new Finger Lakes project.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague profiles Mary Ewing-Mulligan, MW since 1993.

“Is a wine that costs four digits worth it?” Dave McIntyre finds out after sharing a bottle of Screaming Eagle with a friend in the Washington Post.

New York Daily News tries cake-flavored wines. The results sound horrific.

Wine Reviews: Greece

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-21-2015

Okay, I don’t have a ton of experience tasting Greek wine. There are a couple reasons for this: I haven’t visited the country; the labels are confusing and plastered with words I can’t pronounce; and I don’t come across many Greek bottles here in the States.

But I’ve been missing out.

I recently tasted through six Greek wines and found lots to like. I’m especially intrigued by the unique flavor profiles and food-friendly approach of wines made from the indigenous red grape, Agiorgitiko. For my palate, the wines from Claudia Papayianni stole the show, especially the Viognier-Assyrtiko blend, which would be killer with all sorts of seafood.

These Greek selections come from Stellar Imports, and they were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Persuasive and Pure

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-20-2015

Cathy Corison (Corison Winery)

Cathy Corison (Corison Winery)

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov praises Cathy Corison for making cabernet her way in Napa Valley. “Best of all, they demonstrate plainly that Napa cabernet can speak transparently and persuasively in a pure, restrained voice without artifice or bombast.”

CBS reports that some of the country’s top selling wines have “very, very high levels of arsenic.” More than 24 California winemakers are being sued.

Champagne producers are “especially giddy” over the weaker Euro, reports Jason Chow in the Wall Street Journal. But “while the current exchange rate is a potential boost to producers…the strong dollar has yet to translate into lower prices for American drinkers.”

Elsewhere in the Wall Street Journal, Will Lyons offers his top 5 Paris wine bars.

“A Vineyard Dispute, $800,000 in Cash and Two Dead in Napa.” More on Monday’s fatal shooting in Napa in the New York Times.

In the Guardian, Fiona Beckett encourages you to support your local independent wine store.

W. Blake Gray thinks Avignonesi’s ordinary wines are better than their highest-class wine. “Because they were for drinking, not tasting. Or scoring.”

In Punch, Christopher Ross on sommeliers who are pushing the boundaries of service.

An Asian species of fruit fly spread throughout European vineyards last summer. In Wine Spectator, Neville Galvin looks into whether it’s here to stay.

“Are some wine tasters simply better than others by means of raw talent?” asks Jamie Goode.

In Palate Press, Michelle Locke visits Montefalco for the region’s Sagrantino wines.

“Wine Experts Give First Rating of Bordeaux 2014,” in Wine Searcher.

Daily Wine News: Wise Investments

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-19-2015

Not such a "dumb investment" after all (Wikimedia)

Not such a “dumb investment” after all (Wikimedia)

In Wine Searcher, W. Blake Gray looks at how Cakebread – an Oakland garage owner’s “dumb investment” – turned into one of America’s favorite wines.

“2013 was not the easiest of vintages in Alsace,” says Panos Kakaviatos in Harpers. But “it is really hard to go wrong with Zind Humbrecht in 2013.”

An unusual proposal from the Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) would allow wines to be labeled with the grapes’ AVA of origin, if “fully finished” in an adjacent state. Who would benefit? Jane Firstenfeld investigates in Wines & Vines.

In Palate Press, Roger Morries shares his thoughts about “Provence’s failure thus far to distinguish itself as a premium wine region.”

“Can a new Cava classification win over consumers?” asks Amy Wislocki in Decanter.

In Travel + Leisure, Bruce Schoenfeld visits the “pristine” winemaking villages outside Vienna.

On the blog for First Vine, Tom Natan visits Castilla-La Mancha and finds that the region has much more to offer than stories about Don Quixote. “At least for the moment there’s an international spotlight on CLM, and the question now is whether the region’s wine can sustain the attention.”

VinePair made animated relief maps of the famous wine regions in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.

In the Drinks Business, a wine investment firm tracked the varied fortunes of 2005 Bordeaux and, with Robert Parker set to revisit the vintage, considers the impact of any upward re-evaluation.

Mike Dunne attends a blind tasting of American Rieslings in the Sacramento Bee.

Daily Wine News: Unexpected Outcomes

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-18-2015

Robert Dahl

A bitter, multimillion-dollar dispute between Napa Valley vintner Robert Dahl and investor Emad Tawfilis ended in a murder-suicide on Monday, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, explains how the U.S. and Canada accidentally destroyed wine. (Whoops!)

Ray Isle offers “An Insider’s Guide to Outsmarting Burgundy Collectors” in Food & Wine. “Sometimes, when I think about Burgundy and my love for this wonderful and frustrating wine, I’m tempted to do one of those pro and con charts”

In Wine Spectator, Matt Kramer says that expectation and experience can limit the enjoyment of a “wine of pleasure.”

Argentina needs to look beyond Malbec in order to avoid commoditizing its flagship grape,” Alberto Arizu, former president of Wines of Argentina and chief executive of Bodega Luigi Bosca, told Harpers.

Dustin Wilson, who stars in the documentary Somm, shares some of his favorite new wineries in Maxim.

In Grape Collective, Christopher Barnes chats with Victor Coulon of Domaine de Beaurenard in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Jonathan Lipsmeyer has an “exquisite dance” with head sommelier Aurélien Masse at Frenchie in Paris during a blind tasting dinner.

The Drinks Business interviews Tim Hanni MW.

Rest easy, wine lovers. Perception is easily fooled.

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 03-17-2015

CC0 Public Domain.

CC0 Public Domain.

As 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 – Terroirist.com).

In my latest column, I explain why wine enthusiasts shouldn’t worry about academic studies that call baloney on oenophilia.

Rest easy, wine lovers. Perception is easily fooled.

One glass of Cabernet Sauvignon was described as “powerful and heavy.” Another was described as “subtle and refined.”  The only difference? The music that was playing while people drank the wine.

A few years ago, Adrian North, a psychology professor at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, tested the impact of music on taste perception by pouring wine for 250 students. Some tasted the wine while listening to music identified by others as “powerful and heavy,” while others listened to music that was “subtle and refined,” “zingy and refreshing,” or “mellow and soft.” Other students drank without any music. After enjoying their wine for five minutes, the students were asked to rate how much the wine tasted like the musical descriptions.

The conclusion, as put simply in the British Journal of Psychology? “Background music influences the taste of wine.”

When North’s study came out, oenophiles were infuriated. Here was yet another academic calling wine appreciation into question.

Rest easy, wine lovers. Perception is easily fooled.

Widespread derision of wine criticism began in 2001 when Frédéric Brochet, a University of Bordeaux psychologist, poured one glass of red wine and one glass of white wine for 54 oenology students — and then asked them to describe each wine in detail. Students described each wine with the laundry list of descriptors one would expect for reds and whites. What Brochet didn’t tell the students? Both wines were the same. The white in one glass was simply dyed red.

Ever since, the media has jumped at any opportunity to call baloney on oenophilia. But psychologists have long known that humans are easily tricked, especially when relying on taste buds.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

Daily Wine News: Characteristic Swagger

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-17-2015

A Texan vineyard — very, very far from Bordeaux. (Flickr: Matt Peoples)

A Texan vineyard — very, very far from Bordeaux. (Flickr: Matt Peoples)

Food & Wine announces the 2015 Sommeliers of the Year.

“Every state, including Alaska, boasts at least a couple of wineries…But the Lone Star State has taken to wine with characteristic swagger.” In the Wall Street Journal, Ana Campoy explains how Texas farmers are turning to grapes as the state’s wine industry grows.

In Wine Spectator, Ben O’Donnell attends an “illuminating” seminar at the IPOB tasting that showed the importance of learning from your failures in winemaking. “I imagine winemakers shoot the shit about these things with each other, over beers, privately: Groaning about missing their ideal picking dates; kicking themselves for an oak regimen that didn’t work out.”

W. Blake Gray explores what “Gran Selezione” means for Chianti Classico in Palate Press.

“Germany has the third largest amount of pinot noir planted, trailing only France and the United States.” Tyler Colman reports directly from ProWein.

Where does San Francisco rank among world wine cities?” asks W. Blake Gray on his blog.

Dorothy Gaiter chats with winemaker Paul Hobbs about Malbec, the Finger Lakes, and his journey into wine in Grape Collective.

Elsewhere in Grape Collective, Rachael Doob profiles Alder Yarrow.

In Wine Searcher, Alfonso Cevola charts Barolo experts’ vineyard classifications to find the region’s best sites.