Weekly Interview: Remi Cohen

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 10-24-2014

Remi Cohen

Remi Cohen

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Remi Cohen, the vice president of operations at Lede Family Wines, which encompasses Cliff Lede Vineyards and FEL Wines.

Remi is originally from East Brunswick, New Jersey. When she came over to the West Coast to study at U.C. Berkeley, she thought she was going to become a doctor or a genetics professor. But fast forward a few years, and Remi was enrolled at the Viticulture and Enology program at U.C. Davis.

Below, Remi talks about how in the world she got to where she is; she comments on her impressions of the 2014 vintage in Napa; and she reveals her passion for dancing (World Beat Dance Collective?).

Check out our interview below the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Windy AVA

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-24-2014

windgap“Most AVAs, and most wine regions worldwide, are defined by geographical features like mountains and valleys and, in more precise cases, by types of soil. Petaluma Gap would be defined by wind.” In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray chats with Ana Keller about the Petulama Gap Winegrowers’ push for a new AVA.

JetBlue Airways has hired a wine expert to select wines for its flights: Jon Bonné!

Tom Natan wonders if “eating more highly-flavored foods [will] make people want more highly-flavored wines.”

“By common consensus, it seems vines were first planted there in the 1530s by Spanish settlers. One estate can trace its lineage back to 1597.” Will Lyons visits Mexico – and praises its burgeoning wine scene.

Joshua Greene announces the winners of Wine & Spirits 2014 Sommelier Scavenger Hunt.

“Sohm played the role of consummate host, skills likely honed over his many years in the fine-dining business. He floated around the room with enough presence that I could sense him looking after everyone without imposing indelibly on their stay.” In the Village Voice, Lauren Mowery visits Aldo Sohm Wine Bar.

“To remain happy, you have to give yourself over to this repetition, exult in it, in a sense, almost as a deepening of your spiritual practice.” Randall Grahm reflects (a bit) on 35 years in the wine industry.

Ever wonder what makes a wine blog successful? Academia can help you out.

From the AP: “France has reclaimed its crown as world’s biggest wine producer after a poor 2014 harvest saw Italy’s wine production plunge 15 percent.”

VinePair offers “11 of the coolest wine-themed tattoos.”

The Eater crew chats with the bartender at Manhattan’s First Denny’s.

Daily Wine News: Skinny Jeans

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-23-2014

hipstersWilliam Fevre has released a “hipster” Chablis. It’s only being offered to those with skinny jeans, chunky glasses, and a mustache.

Elin McCoy knows that “[Champagne is a place where concepts of brand, blend and house style reign supreme.” But for her, “the most exciting development taking place now in Champagne is the antithesis of all that.” I agree.

“It’s an ideological thing, alcohol level. It’s polemical. Good wine just tastes good. It’s not a political decision.” W. Blake Gray chats with David Ramey.

“Pennsylvania plans to destroy 2,447 bottles seized from Arthur Goldman, a Philadelphia-area lawyer who was charged this year with illegally reselling wine.” An illegal operation, sure. But most of the wines Goldman had on offer aren’t legally available in the state!

“Baiocchi has created a book that’s equal parts travelogue, resource, and recipe collection that’s personal, informative, and, well, easy to read.” In Epicurious, Matt Duckor praises Talia Baiocchi’s Sherry: A Modern Guide to the Wine World’s Best Kept Secret.

“If the usual harvesters had turned into soldiers, there were women, old men, and sometimes even children to take their place. They picked and pressed in the face of German enemy fire to produce a drink which is still celebrated 100 years later.” The Associated Press’ Raf Casert revisits Champagne’s 1914 harvest.

In Beaujolais, at least, Alice Feiring’s work is almost done.

On the blog for Jenny & Francois Selections, Nick Gorevic explains why Emmanuel Lassaigne is his hero.

“Although airline wine consultants don’t think passengers choose an airline for its superior Bordeaux or Champagne offerings, they do think their work is noticed.” In Wine-Searcher, Janice Fuhrman notes that inflight wine has reached new heights.

Daily Wine News: Esprit Calvados

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-22-2014

In the New York Times, Jason Wilson writes a wonderful piece profiling “a serious group of younger producers, who have banded together under the name Esprit Calvados, [to bring] Calvados into the 21st century through innovation and experimentation, as well as by reclaiming traditional farming and distilling methods.”

D-Day. (Flickr: The U.S. Army.)

D-Day. (Flickr: The U.S. Army.)

In New York Magazine, Matthew Giles explains “Why Amar’e Stoudemire and a Bunch of Other Rich People Are Bathing in Red Wine.”

Jamie Goode urges wine producers to “just pick earlier.”

Matt Kramer offers a “trick to instant wine geekdom.”

In Willamette Valley, according to Harvey Steiman, “the French Keep Coming.”

“Wine experts are not purveyors of B.S., but are simply no different from any other experts: we’re just trying to overcome our faulty, ingrained human perception wiring as best we can, and we probably do it better than those who haven’t devoted any real time to it.” Joe Roberts explains why wine criticism isn’t B.S.

Jordan Vineyard and Winery CEO John Jordan hopes to convince Americans that the Republican party offers more than just “no.”

Scientists have concluded that “Champagne tastes better from a normal wine glass.”

“Thanks to regulations imposed by the Turkish government, you are no longer permitted to market or promote your wines within that domestic market. No website. No printed brochures. No consumer wine tastings.” In Forbes, Cathy Huyghe visits Turkey, where it’s illegal to market wine.

Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka surveys the Santa Cruz Mountains with vineyard manager Prudy Foxx.

Something Special in the Swartland

Posted by | Posted in Grape Adventures | Posted on 10-21-2014

If you doubt the quality of South African wine, the Swartland will make you a believer. Thanks to terroir, winemaking philosophy, camaraderie, and personality, there is something special going on there.

Named after the indigenous rhino bush that turns the soil a dark color during certain times of the year, the Swartland – which translates as “black land” — is about one hour north of Cape Town. In appearance, the Swartland is reminiscent of the Texas wild west combined with a Mediterranean climate. It has a rugged terrain and an untamed, wild personality complete with gnarly bush vines, rocky soils, and seemingly unkempt planted rows. It’s also a very hot region, tempered by the altitude and by the neighboring Atlantic Ocean.

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Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Wines describes the region and his decision to make wine there in this way: “Why the Swartland? There are no people there! It’s the biggest appellation in terms of size in South Africa. And we have some of the best soil — iron rich soil like the Douro and also brutal, pure granite.”

The winemaking style is most loudly all about dry farming, old bush vines, and minimal intervention. Appropriately summarized by a South African Tourism article, “This minimalist, some might say old-fashioned, philosophy is at the center of a winemaking revolution, spearheaded by a new generation of boutique, family-run, and garagiste producers.”

Old bush vines in the Swartland

Old bush vines in the Swartland

The people of this “revolution” are mostly making Rhone-style whites and reds, along with some Chenin Blanc.

Originally, I was struck by the exceptional whites of the Swartland. Of all the wines I tasted over a week-plus stay in South Africa, the only one I brought home was a Swartland white — more specifically, Palladius from Sadie Family Wines. The blend of 10 grapes has layers of textures and flavors that hit all over the palate — a lush mouthfeel turns to a touch of smoke and then a refreshing zip of fresh apple and chalky stone, followed by lemon and white flowers, and a long, satisfying finish. Yum.

Terroir-driven "recipe" for Palladius

Terroir-driven “recipe” for Palladius

More recently, I had a chance to experience a more in-depth tasting of the reds from the Swartland during a vertical tasting with Eben (see our previous interview with him here). We tasted through his Columella line (a blend of Rhone grapes, mostly Syrah), from his very first vintage in 2000 through his current release, the 2012. There wasn’t a dud in the line-up.

That said, Eben’s maturity and viewpoints as a winemaker punctuated various vintages throughout the tasting. For example: Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Mission California

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-21-2014

From Wikimedia Commons.

From Wikimedia Commons.

“If you blinked while driving past California’s vineyards this year, you might have missed it.” In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné looks at this year’s compact and early harvest.

In London, a California wine bar has opened! It’s called Mission.

“Such is the power of the prestigious Priorat name and relative obscurity of Montsant in the U.S. market, which is fine by me.” Josh Raynolds lists some of his favorite wines from Montsant.

In the Seattle Times, Andy Purdue profiles John Patterson, the owner and head winemaker for Patterson Cellars in Woodinville, Washington.

In Great Sommeliers’ most recent “Somms on Vineyards” segment, Eleven Madison Park’s Caleb Ganzer meets with Fred Merwarth, the winemaker at Hermann J. Wiemer.

In Craft, Arto Koskelo concludes that the tasting note is dying.

“For years, boomers over-rewarded big companies that mass-produced and manipulated wines. Now millennials might over-reward companies that make a personal connection.” W. Blake Gray examines millennial drinking habits.

Shiba Sommelier makes Buzzfeed.

If you’re in DC on October 29, check out “50 Years of American Winemaking.”

A four-year-old visits The French Laundry.

Daily Wine News: Tannic Bath

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-20-2014

bathtub-tile-design-ideasEric Asimov concludes that “2010 was an outstanding year for Barolo.”

“The young breed of ‘New’ Californians and ‘New’ New Yorkers are bringing vibrancy and energy to the sorting table.” And that makes Alfonso Cevola very happy.

Will Lyons believes the wines of Chêne Bleu “could be the world’s first Super Rhône.”

“The past decade or so has seen an inflation of points scoring from a significant number of prominent critics. It has been a gradual but undoubted trend.” Red To Wine Wine Review explains how score inflation is making the 100-point system less and less relevant.

Tim Atkin thinks that “we are going to see a lot more 100 pointers in the future.” But few of those wines will deserve such praise.

Bill Ward asks some friends to share “an oh-wow experience at a particular vineyard or AVA.” The stories are great.

In contrast to all the recent praise, W. Blake Gray thinks American Wine Story is a “boring documentary without a plot.”

In Punch, Adam Houghtaling takes a close look at the commercials Errol Morris created for Miller High Life between 1998 and 2005.

For more than six months, Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire “has been taking baths in red wine at a spa to help his body rejuvenate.”

Wine Reviews: Rosé Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 10-18-2014

Summer’s been over for a while. Sigh. But rosé season never really ends — at least it shouldn’t. I drink the pink year-round because I love the crispness of dry rosé and the food pairing options. And a lot of rosé wines get discounted after their summer heyday, so bargains abound.

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

Weekly Interview: Ben Riggs

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 10-17-2014

ben riggsEach week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Ben Riggs, a prolific winemaker based in Southern Australia.

After three decades as a winemaker, Ben is now a major player in his region’s wine industry.

To start at the beginning, Ben’s experience with wine began early. His father who knew Wolf Blass and so Blass’s Yellow Label Rieslings were often found on the Riggs family table. After an oenology course at the University of Adelaide, Ben joined Brian Croser’s team at Petaluma, followed by a 14-year stint at Wirra Wirra with the late great Greg Trott.

Ben now operates as consultant winemaker to a select group of principally McLaren Vale labels. His portfolio includes Shoofly, Penny’s Hill, The Black Chook, Woop Woop, Pertaringa, Geoff Hardy, Zonte’s Footstep, Jip Jip Rocks, Journey’s End, and Tatiarra from the Heathcote region of Victoria. He also maintains his own winemaking venture under the Mr. Riggs label.

In addition to all of those projects, Ben has served ten years as a board member of McLaren Vale Winemakers, including three years as Chairman. He also chaired the McLaren Vale Wine Show for five year period.

Check out our interview with Ben below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Social Hobby

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-17-2014

Lafite Rothschild. Flickr, BillBl.

Lafite Rothschild. Flickr, BillBl.

“For centuries, wine cellars have been dark, windowless spaces with bottles stuffed into cubbies, more function than form. But that doesn’t suit a new generation, for whom wine collecting is as much a social hobby as an investment strategy.” In the Wall Street Journal, Lisa Selin Davis looks at the rise of luxury wine “rooms.”

“Should You Let the Sommelier Taste Your Wine?” Lettie Teague explores.

“It takes a certain personality… that listens to inner voices calling them away from the security and comfort of an office cubicle to search for greater fulfillment in helping earth express itself in fermented grape juice.” In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre reviews American Wine Story.

“Instead of glamour, these people all found something far more meaningful: a life’s work that makes them want to leap out of bed each day to get their hands dirty again.” Elsewhere, Lucy Mathews Heegaard reviews the new documentary.

In Wine-Searcher, Adam Lechmere chats with South African winemaker Bruce Jack.

The Drinks Business names “10 Chilean winemakers to watch.”

This year, “there’s a sense of cautious optimism” in Bordeaux. Gavin Quinney reports.

“If .wine and .vin are granted to firms outside the wine industry, second-level domain names such as napavalley.wine could be owned by a company that has never seen a vineyard, cultivated grapes, or made a single bottle of wine.” And that’s why industry trade associations are arguing against the deregulation of domain names.

“In the morning, we headed north on the Harvest Highway to the Annapolis Valley, about an hour away, to visit something I never expected to find here – a thriving wine country.” In the Napa Valley Register, George Medovoy visits Nova Scotia wine country.

With a series of beautiful photos, Whitney Adams visits The Restaurant at Meadowood’s Garden.