Wine Reviews: Livermore Valley

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-01-2015

When studying the history of California Wine, Livermore Valley pops up again and again. From the opening of the region’s first winery in 1880s, to the Chardonnay pioneering of Wente Vineyards, to Concannon’s work with Cabernet clones and Petite Sirah promotion. California wine, as a whole, owes a whole lot to Livermore Valley.

When I was first getting into wine, I drank a bunch of Concannon’s $10 Petite Sirahs and Cabernets. As I moved along in my wine journeys, I didn’t think as much more about Livermore Valley. But this west-east valley, which sits 35 inland from the San Francisco Bay, is home to some 4,000 acres of diverse grape varieties.

I recently tasted through a group of Livermore Valley offerings and found some interesting bottles. Several of the wines boasted hefty new American oak signatures, more so than I find in tastings of other California regions. But the richer wines (especially the Petite Sirah from Vasco Urbano) seem able to absorb it well.

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

Weekly Interview: Jim Dolphin

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 07-31-2015

Jim and Betsy Dolphin

Jim and Betsy Dolphin

Each week, as our regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we continue our interviews of Virginia winemakers by featuring Jim Dolphin, the founder and winemaker at Delaplane Cellars.

Jim had an entire career as an accountant before he plunged into winemaking in 2004, when he began a prolonged search for the right property. He found it in 2007 in Delaplane Cellars. He quickly went to work, planting the original vineyard in 2008 and opening for business in 2009. Nowadays Delaplane is thriving, producing high-quality wines left and right. But Jim is far from done. He is still approaching winemaking and his vineyard as a student. He just recently decided that Tannat does not do well in his vineyard and is replanting with Cabernet Franc. We are very excited to see how Delaplane Cellars will continue to grow and evolve.

Check out the interview below the fold!


Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: The Linguistics of Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-31-2015

(Flickr: pedrosimoes7)

“In recent years, flowery, elaborate flavor descriptions have become commonplace in the wine world and beyond…” (Flickr: pedrosimoes7)

“It seems possible that what we “taste” in a fine wine isn’t so much its flavor as the qualities of good taste that we hope it will impart to us.” In the New Yorker, Bianca Bosker on the obfuscation that has come to define how we talk about wine and whether there’s another, better way.

Recently, Jamie Goode was struggling with the same issue, asking, “Tasting notes are really bad, aren’t they?”

The vineyards of Piedmont in northwestern Italy are home to some of the country’s most individual and charismatic wines, and according to Will Lyons in the Wall Street Journal, “Piedmont is the New Burgundy.”

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

In Food & Wine, an open letter from winemaker Sean Thackrey about the low alcohol “fad.”

In Decanter, Jane Anson gets a rare glimpse of vast underground caverns on the outskirts of Paris, where a disused chalk quarry has emerged as a communal wine cellar for collectors across the French capital.

Quality in wine is a difficult concept to communicate without an elaborate philosophical discussion—what does it actually mean? In the World of Fine Wine, Francis Percival hypothesizes.

In Wine Enthusiast, Kerin O’Keefe offers advice on the right time to drink age-worthy Italian reds.

And in case you’re melting like I am, Wine Folly has a few wine cocktail recipes for summer.

Daily Wine News: Riedel & Reflections

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-30-2015

Maximilian Riedel

Maximilian Riedel, C.E.O. and president of Riedel Crystal

Emma Allen profiles Maximilian Josef Riedel, the thirty-seven-year-old C.E.O. and president of Riedel Crystal in the New Yorker. “For a nail you need a hammer,” he said, “and for wine you need a Riedel glass.”

In Noble Rot, Jon Bonné reflects on the highs and lows of covering Californian wine for The San Francisco Chronicle. “Despite what anyone thinks, my love for California is as strong as ever.”

In Decanter, Jane Anson reports that a new generation of private cellar operators say higher fine wine prices and the physical confines of urban living mean more French people are considering professional wine storage, and dropping the tradition for private wine storage.

A collection of wine jars and grape seeds, which could unlock the secrets of an ancient variety, have been unearthed in northern Israel.

According to Wine Spectator, a new study finds resveratrol, a red-wine compound, reduces brain inflammation caused by social stresses and may prevent serious depression.

Julia Calderone explains the real reason red wine is good for your heart in Business Insider.

Charles Smith, “the wine guy of the people,” shares advice for what to do in Seattle in the New York Time’s T Magazine.

Cathy Huyghe reviews Matt Kramer’s True Taste: The Seven Essential Wine Words for Forbes. She also recently reviewed Oz Clarke’s The History of Wine in 100 Bottles: From Bacchus to Bordeaux and Beyond.

Daily Wine News: On the Watch

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-29-2015

Pierce's Disease Symptoms in Merlot Leaf (Source: UC Davis)

Pierce’s Disease Symptoms in Merlot Leaf (Source: UC Davis)

Decanter reports that bacteria known to cause Pierce’s Disease that has blighted California vineyards for years has been found in France for the first time. “But, French government vine expert Jacques Grosman told the website that there was currently ‘a low risk of contamination in France’.”

“A third of wine drinkers in the United States (an estimated 58.5 million) go online to do research, but only 11 percent (10 million) actually buy wine online,” reports the Daily Meal.

Speaking to the Drinks Business, Stephen Finch, owner of Vagabond Wines said: “The traditional” model of wine retail involving bottles on shelves is dying.

In the Sacramento Bee, Mike Dunne on the impressive white wines produced in Calaveras.

In Wine Enthusiast, a Q&A with Ntsiki Biyela, Africa’s first black female winemaker.

Lisa B. Zimmerman features Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer and his move to Durham, North Carolina in Somm Journal.

Speaking of Durham, Sophie Barrett shares a few observations about the city’s wine scene.

In the Huffington Post, a look at what wine really looks like up close.

After a lousy 2014 vintage, Italian growers and producers are keeping their fingers crossed as this year’s grapes ripen, says Wine-Searcher.

According to the Napa Valley Register, wine has helped propel Napa exports to a record high.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, looks at the “Three Faces of Veneto Wine.”

Daily Wine News: Chasing Chasselas

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-28-2015

The vineyard of Dézaley, planted with Chasselas. This land is, according to some assumptions, the place of origin of this grape variety in Lavaux. (Flickr: raz1940 et Charlotte)

The vineyard of Dézaley, planted with Chasselas. This land is, according to some assumptions, the place of origin of this grape variety in Lavaux. (Flickr: raz1940 et Charlotte)

In the World of Fine Wine, Chandra Kurt delves into Chasselas and the myths surrounding its birthplace, which was proven in 2009 to be around Lake Geneva in Switzerland. “A good Chasselas is dry, delicate, and very refreshing, with lots of minerality and a slight floral expression…It is also said to be one of the few wines that tastes good at 10 o’clock in the morning.”

A forest fire erupted Friday afternoon near Bordeaux, and was still advancing Sunday afternoon, reports Wine-Searcher. The causes of the fire remain unknown.

Jancis Robinson shares her thoughts after lunching at Au Bon Climat. “Shockingly, this was my first visit to this vibrant corner of the wine world…Au Bon Climat is very, very different from the California norm.”

In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto witnesses a young Cinque Terre native son’s heroic efforts in Italy’s coastal vineyards.

Jonathan Lipsmeyer makes a case for Portugal’s age-worthy white wines. “Two Portuguese regions are dominated by granite: Vinho Verde and the Dão, and each produce stunning whites. And yes, even Vinho Verde makes terroir-driven wines that can age.”

Rachel Signer profiles Abe Schoener of the Scholium Project in the Food Republic.

In case you needed it, Wine Folly provides “99 Reasons to Drink Wine.”

Alfonso Cevola calls Sardinian wine “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

According to the Drinks Business, Concha y Toro has become the biggest vineyard owner in the world following Treasury Wine Estate’s sale of its Asti Winery assets.

Daily Wine News: Burgundy By Bike

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-27-2015

(Flickr: JPC24M)

(Flickr: JPC24M)

Andy Pietrasik experiences wine tasting in Burgundy by bike in the Guardian.

Kristen Bieler finds Long Island wines worth hunting for, and laughs at Long Island’s wine country’s nickname, “Napa of the East” in Grape Collective. “Aside from their expensive real estate and being planted with some of the same grapes, they are about as different as any two wine regions can be.”

William Sitwell pens, “Confessions of a middle-aged summer wine snob” in the Telegraph.I’ve sipped, slurped and quaffed some terrific glasses. And what I am coming to terms with is that life seems too short to pass cheap liquid through my lips and onto the flavour-noids of my tongue and mouth.”

Alder Yarrow features the wines of Renaissance Vineyards, “Lost Treasures in the Sierra Foothills.”

Jancis Robinson on “black-owned wine companies in South Africa.”

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague discovers some deals on wines that aren’t easily found at big N.J. discounter, Bottle King.

In Food & Wine, Ray Isle discovers what happens to a bottle of wine submerged in ocean water for 150 years.

According to Guy Collins in Bloomberg Business, the wine investment market is seeing “relative calm.”

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre explains why the sommelier watches notices little details, such as how you attack the bread basket, before recommending you a wine.

Wine Reviews: California Cabernet

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-25-2015

Since my last report on California Cabernets, I’ve received a bunch of impressive offerings from around the state, hailing from the 2012, 2011 and 2010 vintages.

I don’t usually pop a California Cabernet during these hot, humid summer days, but most of these wines will benefit from being buried in the cellar for at least a few years anyway.

Many of my favorite wines are not cheap, and many of the cheap wines were not my favorite. That said, there are some moderately priced and delicious wines in this lot. And some of these wines are worth the splurge, especially the single-vineyard Knights Valley Cabs from Anakota, which are just gorgeous.

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

Daily Wine News: Vintage Updates

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-24-2015

Montalcino landscape (Flickr: Eric@focus)

Montalcino landscape (Flickr: Eric@focus)

The New York Times tasting panel tastes 20 bottles of 2010 vintage Brunellos. Eric Asimov reports on their impressions. “With wines as good as these, it’s hard for me to understand the widespread criticism that I continue to hear of Brunello di Montalcino.”

In Decanter, Jane Anson visits Miraval in Provence, “what has become one of the most famous and fought over rosé wine producers in the world — helped along by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, of course.”

“A recent study by Wine Intelligence found that just 11% of US wine lovers surveyed had used the internet to buy wine in the first six months of this year,” reports the Drinks Business. “The findings suggest that a large majority of American wine lovers are yet to put their faith in the internet as an…arena for wine retail.”

In Eater, Rachel Signer looks at how the natural wine movement is to thank for the rise of more Parisian-style wine bars in the U.S.

Jancis Robinson reports on the “hot, dry 2015 vintage” in Bordeaux.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague explores whether the restaurant reserve wine list is a relic, rip-off, or reward.

Elsewhere in the Wall Street Journal, Will Lyons says South Africa offers the best fine wine for your money.

In Wine Spectator, “The World’s Three Greatest Underrated Wines, 2015 Edition,” as selected by Matt Kramer.

After 41 years, Bruce Cohn has announced that he has agreed to sell his Sonoma Valley winery B.R. Cohn to Vintage Wine Estates.

In the Washington Post, “How D.C. area residents turned their basement into stunning wine cellars.”

Daily Wine News: The Promised Land

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-23-2015

Vineyards in the Aube (Source: Domaine Vouette et Sorbée)

Vineyards in the Aube (Source: Domaine Vouette et Sorbée)

For a century, the southernmost outpost of Champagne—known as the Aube—has existed as the back office to Champagne’s northern holy land. Now it’s a promised land for rebels. In Punch, Jon Bonné on the freedom that’s propelled the region and its wines, and why they may have more in common with Burgundy than Champagne.

Randall Grahm launched a crowdfunding initiative on Indiegogo to raise money for the establishment of an experimental vineyard, Popelouchum, in San Juan Bautista. Jamie Goode calls it a “grand plan.”

According to Caroline Henry in Wine-Searcher, “Maximum allowable yields in Champagne this year will be lower than they have been in 10 years, as producers look to reduce the amount of wine they have on hand.”

Tim Fish checks in on California’s 2015 vintage in Wine Spectator.

In other California news, Wines & Vines reports that Mumm Napa was the first to begin harvesting grapes today. “Ludovic Dervin, winemaker at Mumm Napa, said an early bud break was responsible for moving up the harvest schedule, which would normally not start for another week.”

Pennsylvania’s privatization bill is a goner, but the direct-to-consumer shipping bill could still pass.

In Eater, Levi Dalton explains how American dining empowered Burgundy’s wine ascendancy and why Burgundy — not Bordeaux — is on the up and up.

“There are no great wines, just great bottles,” says Steve Heimoff.