Daily Wine News: The New Yorker Tackles Natural Wine—Again

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-19-2019

Bar at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Bar at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

“In the Napa boom of the nineteen-nineties, consumers prized wines that were rich and flawless. Now they’re seeking out wines that are more expressive than correct; wines that are earthy, with visible sediment; wines that taste alive.” In the New Yorker, Rachel Monroe considers the factors that led to the natural wine boom, and the problems with it going mainstream.

What makes a wine taste expensive? Margaret Rand ponders the answer on Tim Atkin’s site. “We’re not talking here about what makes a wine expensive, but what gives it that burnish, that gloss, that announces – whispers, even – money. Some expensive wines don’t taste expensive. They might taste so fascinating, so complex that you know they are expensive – but that’s not quite the same thing. I can think of great Austrian whites that are deservedly very expensive but don’t have that burnish. It’s harder for whites. The taste of money is much more a red thing.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Kathleen Willcox looks at the rise of Italian grapes in American vineyards.

In Bloomberg, Elin McCoy explains why cider should be the official drink of Thanksgiving.

On JancisRobinson.com, Alder Yarrow reports on the recovery efforts being made in Sonoma after the Kincade Fire. (subscription req.)

In Grape Collective, Valerie Kathawala explores why Domäne Wachau is Austria’s number one winery.

In the Drinks Business, New Zealand-based lighter wines pioneer Dr. John Forrest speaks out against the rise of zero % abv wines.

Daily Wine News: Native American Wines

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-18-2019

glass_glasses_restaurant_drink_wine_glass_wine_clear_liquid-989609.jpg!dKathleen Willcox explores the rise of Native American wines in Wine Enthusiast. “Tribes in California, New Mexico, Utah and British Columbia have created small, successful and critically acclaimed brands… Outside winemakers are also working with Native American growers. It’s not just a socially responsible business plan, but an investment in the future.”

“China is by far the most important market for Australian wine today, worth more than twice as much as the second most valuable market, the US.” Jancis Robinson looks at the influence of Chinese investors in Australia.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague recommends Thanksgiving wines from America’s up-and-coming wine regions. (subscription req.)

Jamie Goode tastes a few wines made in talhas, “the Alentejo amphorae that are back in fashion.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley highlights Gail Wines, “a thrilling new label” to “reinterprets Sonoma Valley terroir.”

In the World of Fine Wine, David Williams reviews Oz Clarke’s Red & White: An Unquenchable Thirst for Wine.

In Wine-Searcher, David Allen reviews Wink Lorch’s second wine book, Wines of the French Alps.

Wine Reviews: California New Releases

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 11-16-2019

This week, we have another round of new releases from California. In recent weeks, I’ve received a lot of different wines (whites and reds) from all over the state, from good bargains for early drinking, to splurge-worthy wines that should be cellared for a few Presidential elections.

For me, Steele wine from Lake County has long been a reputable producer of value-driven wines of high quality and distinction. The current crop of releases keeps going on that same track.

There are a few wines from different Gallo brands in this tasting, and some wines from the Hess Collection as well. I also tasted four wines from Hestan Vineyards (a first for me). These “Stephanie” label wines are sourced from a 56-acre estate vineyard, and all four of these wines hail from that vineyard’s 2015 vintage. I found these four wines (treated the same way in the cellar), offered a nice look into their vineyard and style, and I think the wines are really pretty and offer a lot of value compared to many other Napa reds.

Lastly, Napa stalwart Shafer contributes three exciting wines. And the Relentless Syrah and Hillside Select Cabernet strut their stuff.

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

Daily Wine News: Adapting to Change

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-15-2019

(Flickr: telex4)

(Flickr: telex4)

In SevenFifty Daily, Rémy Charest looks at how France’s National Institute for Agricultural Research has developed new, disease-resistant varieties that allow growers to adapt to environmental challenges.

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov recommends wines for Thanksgiving.

The audacious but risky Venissa project, a unique vineyard in the Venetian lagoon, was hit by the city’s highest tide in 50 years, reports Robert Camuto in Wine Spectator.

In SOMM Journal, Thomas Molitor reports on how the reputation of the wines of Bosnia-Herzegovina is changing.

In Decanter,Jane Anson explores the history of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and evaluates ten different wines from across the region spanning 25 years. (subscription req.)

Neal Martin offers his impression of the Bordeaux 2018 vintage in Vinous. “The 2018 vintage is very good to excellent in quality. However, it does not demonstrate the consistency of 2005 or 2016, and it lacks the pinnacles that mark 2010 and, again, 2016.”

In Travel + Leisure, Kevin West explores what makes Adelaide, Australia such an exciting food and wine destination.

Daily Wine News: Sylvaner Savior

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-14-2019

Sylvaner_-_panneauIn PUNCH, Megan Krigbaum profiles Stefan Vetter, who helped turned Sylvaner—one of Germany’s most underappreciated grapes—into a cult obsession. “Vetter has been described as humble, shy, full of self-doubt and awkward in a cute, endearing way. When he laughs, it’s almost in a whisper. That this modest winemaker is elevating an equally modest grape with such success is evidence of how little we actually know when it comes to wine’s less-trodden terroirs. It’s just a matter of the right person stepping up to give us a new way to see them.”

In VinePair, Emily Saladino looks at what’s behind the rise of the array of hybrid wine shops-slash-bars popping up nationwide.

SevenFifty Daily announces its 2019 Drinks Innovators, including winemaker Lourdes Martinez Ojeda from Mexico’s Baja region, and Rebecca Hopkins and Cathy Huyghe of A Balanced Glass.

Noelle Hale offers a guide to grape clones in Wine Enthusiast.

In Decanter, Tim Atkin MW reports on the 2018 vintage in Chablis. (subscription req.)

Tom Wark talks to Elizabeth Schneider, author of Wine for Normal People.

On JancisRobinson.com, Louise Hurren compares attitudes to women winemakers in France and China. (subscription req.)

Daily Wine News: Sherry’s Future

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-13-2019

Fino sherry. (Wikimedia)

Fino sherry. (Wikimedia)

Tim Atkin is hopeful for the future of Sherry. “Sherry is beginning to focus on origin rather than its famous method of fractional blending. The solera system is a fine way to achieve consistency, but often occludes nuances of terroir. Back in 1868, Sherry had 134 pagos or specific vineyard sites, compared with around 40 today. But they could become increasingly relevant to fine wine consumers. A Sherry from Balbaina, Macharnudo or Carrascal should be as sought after as a Musigny, a Chambertin or a Montrachet from Burgundy.”

Lana Bortolot is also exploring Sherry’s uniqueness in Forbes.

In Vinous, Antonio Galloni compares the 2016 and 2017 vintages of Barbaresco.

On WineBusiness.com, Linda Jones McKee remembers Missouri wine pioneer Jim Held, owner of Stone Hill Winery, who died on November 8.

The sommelier Anthony Cailan, who was a rising star in the wine world, has resigned from the downtown Manhattan hotel where he worked, after a New York Times report last week in which several women said he had sexually assaulted them.

Grape Collective talks with Tom Gamble of Gamble Family Vineyards in Napa Valley about making wine in America’s most famous wine region.

In Wine Enthusiast, Lauren Mowery offers a guide for where to eat and drink in Adelaide, Australia.

In the New York Times, Ingrid K. Williams spends 36 hours in Barolo.

Daily Wine News: All For Aligoté

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-12-2019

Aligoté (Wikimedia)

Aligoté (Wikimedia)

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray looks at how Aubert de Villaine, proprietor of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, is working to elevate the reputation of Aligoté, Burgundy’s “lesser white grape.”

In Meininger’s, Jim Boyce considers the place of Australian wine in China and concludes that there’s more to its success than the usual explanations.

In VinePair, Kell Magyarics profiles Manuel Choqque, the Peruvian farmer making “wine” from high-altitude heirloom potatoes.

Gian Annibale Rossi di Medelana, the owner of Castello del Terriccio in Tuscany, died aged 78 last Thursday night in Rome, reports Aldo Fiordelli in Decanter.

Elsewhere in Decanter, James Lawther MW goes looking for value in St-Emilion. (subscription req.)

“While it’s customary to casually speak of “good” and “bad” vintages, the wording critics and winemakers use is actually more circumspect. Growing conditions may be “nasty” or “challenging,” but that doesn’t mean the resulting wines are inherently poor.” In Fortune, Jim Clarke considers whether vintages even matter anymore.

On JancisRobinson.com, winemaker Charles Symington offers notes on the Douro and the 2019 vintage. “It is easy for visitors to the Douro to assume that ours is a region where change happens slowly, if at all… However, a closer look shows a region experiencing accelerating rates of change across all dimensions – social, economic, viticultural and environmental. The 2019 harvest marks another milestone in our region’s transition into a new era – both challenging and exciting in equal measure.”

In Forbes, Tom Hyland explores Grignolino, “Piedmont’s alluring red wine.”

Daily Wine News: Scandinavian Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-11-2019

wine_white_wine_glass-499579.jpg!d“Nordic vintners are betting that they can develop what were once mainly hobbyist ventures into thriving commercial operations. The dream is to transform Scandinavia into an essential global producer of white wines, which are beginning to flourish along Europe’s northern rim.” In the New York Times, Liz Alderman reports on how climate change is fueling the wine industry in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

Jancis Robinson explores the many faces of pinot blanc. “These are wines that can continue to develop for five years or more in bottle – and can, like serious white burgundy, go superbly with food.”

On NPR, Michel Martin talks with Marissa A. Ross about sexual harassment in the wine industry.

Leslie Pariseau explores the world of wine clubs in the Los Angeles Times.

In the Seattle Times, Andy Perdue looks at how Red Mountain grew into Washington’s premier wine region.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre explore Jancis Robinson’s new edition of the World Atlas of Wine.

Lina Zeldovich considers what climate change means for wine in Quartz.

In VinePair, Tim McKirdy highlights five lesser-know white wines.

Wine Reviews: Loudoun County

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 11-09-2019

Washington, DC, has become my adopted hometown. When I first moved here from New York about a dozen years ago, I spent one of my first weekend trips hiking around the Potomac River and tasting wines in the area around Leesburg, Virginia.

The wines I tasted were hit-and-miss, but I fell in love with the area, and have been trying to keep up with the wine scene since. Loudoun is full of beautiful spots, and with more and more quality wines coming out of this region, there is plenty to see and taste.

“DC’s Wine Country” (yes, they’ve trademarked that) dates back to 1981, when Lew Parker planted his first grapes at Willowcroft Farm. Now, there are more than 40 wineries in the county.

During a recent online tasting coordinated by Virginia wine guru Frank Morgan, I tasted through several wines from this Northern Virginia region. While many of the wines and wineries were familiar to me before, this tasting reminded me that I need to get back to Loudoun more often — there’s still so much to explore.

Casanel comes through with a sparkling Chardonnay, and I learned they also make a sparkling Norton that I now must try. Walsh Family makes some really good stuff, and I highly recommend tasting their wines if you get a chance. Their Viognier (notoriously fickle and frequently flabby) was one of the most vibrant Virginia iterations I’ve tasted in a long time. Breaux (another producer I really appreciate) has gotten a lot of praise over the years for their Meritage, Merlot and other reds — and for good reason. Lost Creek and 50 West were both new to me, and offer up some interesting red blends, especially 50 West’s Tannat/Petit Verdot-based blend, which I found fascinating. Lastly, I tasted a Merlot from Rocky & Co., and I found the wine very attractive. This Middleburg-based project seems like one I need to watch.

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

Daily Wine News: In Praise of Blends

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-08-2019

Vineyard_in_Cote_de_Beaune,_BurgundyThe received wisdom that single-vineyard wine is better is a pervasive myth, says Margaret Rand in Wine-Searcher. “Single-site wines get all the plaudits and have all the glamor. They’re at the top of most producers’ ranges. But not always at the very top. Sometimes, even above the swaggering, look-at-me single vineyards, is another, even more swaggering wine – and it’s a blend.”

Before I moved to California to begin my job with The Chronicle, I didn’t know much about Lodi wine — and I honestly didn’t think there was much to know. My only real exposure to the region came while working at an East Coast wine shop; the Lodi wines we sold there were cheap, jammy and sickly sweet,” writes Esther Mobley. “Oh, but how wrong I was. Discovering the wines of Lodi has truly been one of the great pleasures of my job over the last few years.”

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov offers notes on the most recent Wine School: Malbecs from Argentina, and announces what’s up next: American bubbly.

Damien Wilson, of Sonoma State University, has a warning for the US wine industry: wine premiumization can be a path to ruin. He explains why in Meininger’s.

In the Buyer, Justin Keay has an inspiring visit with Alois Lagedar in Alto Adige. “Lageder says global warming has led him to experiment with varieties that would have been frankly quite unimaginable in this Alpine region even ten years ago. He now grows Viognier and Assyrtiko as well as for me some unexpected red varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat, alongside the more traditional local red varieties Schiava (aka Vernatsch and Trollinger) and the more weighty Lagrein.”

In Decanter, Jane Anson reports from a vertical tasting of Château Lafleur, which “doesn’t play by the usual rules of Bordeaux.” (subscription req.)

In Bon Appétit, Emily Schultz highlights Canada’s Okanagan Valley as a wine destination.