Maidenstoen: Exceptional Single-Vineyard Rieslings from California

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-17-2018

Michael Callahan has a thing for Riesling — an obsession, perhaps. But, as a Riesling-lover in general, and a big fan of California Riesling, I find it refreshing.

Michael, who works at Chamisal Vineyards, has scoured various Central Coast vineyards for Riesling, and has found some real beauties. Under his Maidenstoen label (which he started in 2013) Michael bottles single-vineyard Rieslings that speak clearly of their place. He seems to have set a mission with these wines: to pay homage to Riesling’s importance in the history of California wine, and to make sure Cali Riesling has a viable future.

“Although tastes change and financial decisions must be made, it is important to have advocates in order to keep some pieces of what California’s winegrowing history is,” Michael told me in an e-mail. “It is impossible to contribute to the greater world of wine without an understanding of our history and interpreting what is capable from our older vineyards. The story of California wine should be more than just Cabernet or whatever is selling for the most dollars.”

I say: Amen!

Even though dry Riesling has seen increased popularity with many consumers, Michael laments how some older Riesling vineyards in California have been pulled out or grafted to other varieties. The lower price that growers can fetch for their Riesling make it a difficult endeavor. But lovers of dry Riesling have a lot to get excited about when it comes to California. Though few and far between, there are some thrilling Rieslings out there. And (like these wines that cost $22 a pop), the quality to price ratio can be incredibly high.

Michael recently sent me three of his 2016 Rieslings, sourced from select vineyards in Sta. Rita Hills, Monterey and Edna Valley. My notes on these exceptional wines are below. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: The State of Natural Wine in the Bay Area

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-16-2018

At Ordinaire in Oakland.

At Ordinaire in Oakland.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley looks at the state of natural wine in the Bay Area. “At what point did Bay Area wine drinkers get on board? Certainly, the popularity of the wine bars, and their staff’s fervent advocacy, helped ease consumers into the idea of natural wine… The growing acceptance of natural wine seems to mirror, too, our local food culture’s embrace of the weird.”

Elsewhere in the Chronicle, Esther Mobley gathers a list of 11 lesser-known California natural wines to try.

In the Sacramento Bee, Mike Dunne on the world of wine podcasts.

In Decanter, Jane Anson explores the merits of the Cru Artisan du Médoc label wines and tastes some of the 2015s.

Jeanette Catsouilis reviews “Our Blood Is Wine,” the documentary about traditional winemaking in the ex-Soviet state of Georgia in the New York Times.

In Wine-Searcher, Natalie Sellers considers the rise of Austrian wine.

Lettie Teague finds where Napa’s best wines are really made in the Wall Street Journal. (subscription req.)

In Wine Enthusiast, Ilkka Sirén delve sinto Banyuls dessert wines, from the vineyards of southeastern Roussillon in France.

In Grape Collective, Marco Salerno explores Sicily’s Castellucci Miano.

Daily Wine News: Seeking Out Obscurity

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-15-2018

(Flickr: theloushe)

(Flickr: theloushe)

Has our singular focus on a vineyard’s terroir devalued the actual “making” involved in winemaking? In Punch, Zachary Sussman considers the consequences of “the wine makes itself” way of thinking. “What’s needed is a more nuanced way to frame the conversation, one that reexamines the winemaker’s relationship to his or her discipline and takes into account the complex reality of how wine is really made.”

In Wine Enthusiast, a Q+A with Jason Wilson about his forthcoming book, Godforsaken Grapes: A Slightly Tipsy Journey through the World of Strange, Obscure and Underappreciated Wine, and his journey into the lesser-known wines that inspired him to write it.

Food & Wine announces its lists of the 2018 Sommeliers of the Year.

Christy Canterbury looks at the state of the U.S. wine landscape on Tim Atkin’s website.

According to Meininger’s, Austria’s 2017 exports broke a new record, reaching an all time high of €158.6m. “The new value levels were reached even though the 2016 harvest was a challenging one”

In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto checks in on Frescobaldi’s Luce della Vite project.

Scott Tobias reviews “Our Blood is Wine,” a film about Georgian wine in Variety.

In Wine & Spirits, Jane Gladstone sat down with Becky Wasserman to talk about her half-century as an American in Burgundy.

Daily Wine News: Unsung Heroes

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-14-2018

(Source: Wikimedia)

(Source: Wikimedia)

Esther Mobley profiles Steve Edmunds, “the unsung hero of California wine” in the San Francisco Chronicle. “Unmoored from the structures that tend to prop up California wine businesses — vineyards, wineries, regional organizations — Edmunds is something of an island. With no winery of his own, the Edmunds St. John brand has drifted between various production facilities over the years… The wines are quiet, reticent to announce their substance. That fresher, lighter, brighter (read: lower-alcohol) approach to winemaking may be in vogue now, but Edmunds stuck with it before it was trending.”

In Food & Wine, Ray Isle profiles the groundbreaking women leading the future of the California wine industry.

Elsewhere in Food & Wine, Sarah Bray put together a list of “15 Women in Wine to Watch” from across the globe.

On the blog for First Vine, Tom Natan talks to winemakers about the effects of global warming. “…winemakers want people to understand is that while there’s a perception that years with warmer growing seasons make better vintages, that only happens because those warmer summers were formerly the exception rather than the rule.”

In Vinous, Stephen Tanzer revisits the “glorious 1999 Red Burgundies.”

Brendan Lowe explores how South Africa’s wine industry plans to survive the water crisis and move toward a more sustainable future in SevenFifty Daily.

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray looks at the list of the most counterfeited wines. “The top 15 currently counterfeited wines include nine from Burgundy and three from Napa Valley, according to Maureen Downey, founder of Chai Consulting. Oddly perhaps, only one Bordeaux makes the list.”

The Drinks Business catches up with Isabelle Legeron MW.

Daily Wine News: A Pointless Border

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-13-2018

A bottle of wine from Empordà. (Source: DO Emporadà)

A bottle of wine from Empordà. (Source: DO Empordà)

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford travels to Catalonia’s Empordà, and finds the Spanish wines have more in common with those from France. “I had previously always thought of it as classic Catalan hill country with a distinctive Mediterranean beauty and identity, like Alella or Penedès,” he writes. “That’s not right.  It is, perhaps, best seen as a part of Greater Roussillon: a sister vineyard to Maury and the Agly Valley, to Collioure and Banyuls.”

Elsewhere in Decanter, Elin McCoy comments on the rise of natural wine. “If natural wine makes people think harder about how the wines they drink are produced, that’s a good thing… But the movement’s ever-growing footprint in wine consciousness raises the possibility that future mainstream acceptance will eventually come at the price of losing the hipster street cred it now enjoys.”

After many regions experienced a disastrous 2017, global wine production is at its lowest since 1961. In the Guardian, Zoe Wood looks at how that will affect future wine prices.

Alfonso Cevola considers the importance of “the cool factor” when selling wine. “What I have been trying to find out, my entire career, with the person in front of me when I present a wine to them, is what they think cool is. This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. No plug-and-play here. Everyone is different.”

In Bloomberg, Elin McCoy writes favorably about the Plum, the latest in-room wine-on-tap machine being used in hotel rooms that “automatically keeps track of how many glasses you drink, adds the cost to your hotel bill, and even notifies management when it’s time to replace the bottles.”

“Lalou Bize-Leroy’s 2015s are absolutely stellar,” says Antonio Galloni, who shares his notes for the 2015 wines in Vinous.

In Wine Spectator, Mitch Frank reports on Vinexpo’s return to New York last week.

American cruise company Holland America Line has named James Suckling as its new wine curator, reports the Drinks Business.

Daily Wine News: Pét-Nat’s Return

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-12-2018

Bottles of pét-nat

Bottles of pét-nat

Eric Asimov chronicles pét-nat’s “triumphant return” in the New York Times. “The modern renaissance of pétillant naturel traces back to the early days of natural wines…The Loire Valley, a center for natural wine, was also home to many early pétillant naturel revivalists. It was hardly intended to be a movement. Rather, it was a delicious beverage for enjoyment with friends. But what is delicious has a way of catching on.”

Grace and Ken Evenstead, owners of Domaine Serene in Oregon and Château de la Cree in Santenay, have donated $6 million to Linfield College to support a world-class wine research and teaching program. Jane Anson shares more details in Decanter.

In Food & Wine, Ray Isle highlights 40 wines that changed the way we drink.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre catches up with Adam Lee three years after he and his wife sold their Siduri label to Jackson Family Wines, and finds out more about Lee’s new project, the Clarice Wine Company.

Jamie Goode provides an overview of Japanese wine, and makes a case for why we should be interested.

With Prosecco taking the U.S. by storm, Lettie Teague tasted her way through the particularly popular “mid-tier” category for the Wall Street Journal. (subscription req.)

In VinePair, Courtney Schiessl explores the higher end of prosecco—those from the Cartizze cru.

In Wine Enthusiast, Roger Voss explores the personalities of each of the 10 Beaujolais Crus.

Wine Reviews: Rioja from CVNE

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-10-2018

I’m a Rioja evangelist. The history, the unique place in the spectrum of red (and white) wines, the quality and value available — these wines entice me. So I was excited to taste six different Riojas from CVNE.

Compañía Vinícola del Norte del España (the Northern Spanish Wine Company), dates back to 1879, when it was founded by two brothers from the Real de Asua family in Haro, Rioja Alta. You’ll see the wines referred to as “Cune” and hear the word spoken phonetically, which is based on an old misspelling that stuck.

Today the CVNE winery still sits on its original site and it is still controlled by direct descendants of the founding family. CVNE now encompasses four different wineries: CVNE, Imperial, Viña Real and Contino. The first Viña Real wines were launched in 1920, and the wines are made from grapes grown in the heart of the Rioja Alavesa province.

I tasted three wines apiece from CVNE and Viña Real, and was blown away again by the high quality, relatively low price points, and aging potential of these wines. If you’re looking to stock your cellar with some Tempranillo-based wines, without breaking the bank, check out CVNE.

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

Daily Wine News: Evolving Wine Retailers

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-09-2018



And I’m back with the Daily Wine News after a brief hiatus caused by me losing power during the nor’easter! A few extra links for you all this morning…

Over in Punch, Megan Krigbaum looks at how retailers are changing how we buy wine. “Today’s curious, next-generation buyers are also benefitting from the fact that there’s just way more wine available… It’s now perfectly acceptable to have a substantial Jura section, but nothing from Alsace. Gone are the days of having to tick boxes.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley reviews James Conway’s Napa at Last Light. “The problem with “Napa at Last Light” is not Conaway’s position. He’s right to take a stand for the future of Napa’s environment…The problem, rather, is the way Conaway tells the story: melodramatically and hyperbolically. In doing so, he does a disservice to those he hopes to support.”

Elin McCoy also reviews Conway’s book in Bloomberg. “Most of the book is devoted to specific conflicts told through the interwoven stories of Napa’s colorful dramatis personae, helpfully listed at the front. Although Conaway doesn’t identify them as heroes or villains, you soon learn which is which in his eyes. A caution, though: Some of the tussles are more nuanced than Conaway prefers to portray them.”

On March 2, 2018, the TTB got its first MW: Caroline Hermann, the bureau’s import-export program manager for wine, beer, and spirits. Julie H. Case profiles Hermann in SevenFifty Daily.

In Wine Enthusiast, Lauren Mowery highlights 10 trailblazing women leading the wine industry forward.

Tim Atkin considers the success of New Zealand sauvignon blanc. “The remarkable thing about the rise and rise of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is just how quickly it has happened.” reports Nicky Hahn, founder of Hahn Family Wines, has died. He was 81.

Esther Mobley pens an obituary for Nicky Hahn in the San Francisco Chronicle. “Hahn was one of a small group of vintners to begin making high-quality wines in the 1970s in the Santa Lucia Highlands…He later led the effort to establish the Santa Lucia Highlands as an American Viticultural Area, winning federal approval in 1991. Later, Hahn would be instrumental in shifting the region from Cabernet Sauvignon cultivation to Pinot Noir, which remains the area’s predominant grape.”

In Decanter, Jane Anson profiles Richard Serisier, an Australian who is making wine on the edge of Bordeaux’s Right Bank.

Producer associations are proliferating, but few of them have any relevance, argues James Lawrence in Wine-Searcher.

“In a fitting twist of fate, Israel’s modern wine industry may have finally found its signature identity… in Palestinian territory,” writes Kristen Bieler in Grape Collective.

Daily Wine News: The Lifestyle Vintner

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-07-2018

Vineyards in Napa Valley. (Source: Wikimedia)

Vineyards in Napa Valley. (Source: Wikimedia)

In the Atlantic, James Conaway on the problematic rise of the “lifestyle vintner,” which he defines as a type of hobbyist investor who makes money in another field and then buys into wine, mostly for the social and financial cachet. “Lifestyle vintners’ websites sag with paeans to nature, viticulture, and terroir (as well as, of course, themselves). But few truly embody the back-to-the-land credo of the ‘60s and ‘70s that made world-famous places like Napa Valley, now first choice for American lifestyle vintnerhood.”

In Wines & Vines, Jaime Lewis considers the impact of the natural wine movement in California’s Central Coast.

“Wine also poses a significant health risk — or so say the country’s health minister, Agnès Buzyn, and a host of doctors who have rallied behind her…President Emmanuel Macron, Buzyn’s boss, begs to differ.” In the Washington Post, James McAuley reports on France’s public outcry over recent health claims about wine.

In Wine Enthusiast, Julia Coney—a “fragrance junkie”—reconciles her passion for wearing perfume and love of tasting wine.

In the Napa Valley Register, Henry Lutz profiles two Napa Valley wine industry families: the Araujos and the Krupps.

To help the region recover from wildfires, Jason Tesauro suggests visiting California wine country in Esquire.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, reviews James Conaway’s Napa at Last Light.

Daily Wine News: Wine Transforms China

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-06-2018

Ningxia wine region in China. (Source: Ningxia Wine Guide)

Ningxia wine region in China. (Source: Ningxia Wine Guide)

Can wine transform China’s countryside? In the New Yorker, Jiayang Fan reports on how Chinese wineries are part of Beijing’s new vision for rural life.

“Of all the Bordeaux appellations, St-Émilion has been the most aggressively modernised – by which I don’t mean improved but, to borrow a modern phrase, sexed up,” writes Jancis Robinson. “St-Émilion may no longer be the exclusive preserve of the sort of local smallholders who resurrected the medieval confrerie…But I do think many more of the St-Émilion producers, new and old, seem now to be on the right track.”

“Now, in Old World wine regions that traditionally handed wineries down from one male generation to the next, daughters are taking the reins in the fields and cellars.” In VinePair, Courtney Schiessl profiles some of the female winemakers that are taking over some of Europe’s oldest family wineries.

Producers of “responsible” products – from organic to vegan – are seeing healthy growth, even in flat markets, according to research presented at Vinisud. Felicity Carter shares the details in Meininger’s.

The Institute of Masters of Wine announced four candidates can now call themselves MWs, bringing the current total to 370 in 28 countries.

David Schildknecht reviews Alice Feiring’s The Dirty Guide to Wine in the World of Fine Wine.