Was Parker Snubbed?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-31-2011

Later this month, the Culinary Institute of America will hold its fifth annual “Celebration of California Food & Wine” and induct the newest members of the “Vintners Hall of Fame.” U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson will preside over the event.

Just days ago, this year’s Hall of Fame inductees were announced. The list included Richard Graff, founder of Chalone Vineyards; Joel Peterson, co-founder and winemaker at Ravenswood; August Sebastiani; Vernon Singleton, emeritus professor of enology at UC Davis; and Bob Trinchero of Sutter Home and the all Trinchero Family Estates wines.

Absent from that list? Robert M Parker, Jr. He was nominated last year and this year, and both times, he failed to receive enough votes.

Linda Murphy, a columnist for Decanter, has written a compelling piece arguing that Parker should have been inducted. “Parker’s omission is egregious,” she writes, “smacking of professional jealousy.”

I’m inclined to agree. While Parker isn’t a “vintner,” the Hall of Fame is designed to “celebrate the men and women whose collective vision, determination, and hard work have been responsible for the growth and worldwide prestige of the California wine industry.” Regular readers know I’m a proud member of the “anti-flavor wine elite.” But regardless of whether or not one agrees with Parker’s palate, rating system, or personality, it’s undeniable that he’s had a huge impact on California wines – for the better.

As I wrote back in November (in a post about Parker-bashing), “Love or loathe him, Robert Parker changed wine — for the better. Hate his 100-point scale? Without it, we wouldn’t have Burghound or CellarTracker! Without his Consumer Reports approach to wine criticism, a much higher percentage of bottles would be flawed.”

What do you think? Murphy’s column has generated quite a bit of controversy on the WineBerserkers message board, and we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Daily Wine News: Cult Pinot

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-31-2011

Uploaded to flickr by http://www.kvins.com.

In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Craig LaBan writes a nice piece on cult Pinot producers Kosta Browne and Littorai. He discovers that even though they’re “situated less than three miles apart… these wineries reside at nearly opposite ends of the pinot universe.”

Felix Salmon, the well-known financial journalist, drinks a bevy of 100-point wines at Davos — and watches the “plutocrats” who attend the annual the World Economic Forum descend into a “drunken mess.” The wines — which included 1982 Pichon Lalande Comtesse du Lalande, 1994 Harlan, 1998 Le Pin, 2000 Léoville Las Cases, 2000 Cheval Blanc, 2000 Pavie, and countless others — were served “pop-and-pour” style. Wow.

Jay McInerney discovers that there’s lots to be excited about in Cornas.

Lawmakers in Maryland’s House and Maryland’s Senate have introduced legislation to legalize the direct shipment of wine to consumers. Hallelujah. Let’s hope it passes.

“What is an artisanal wine, and what are the factors that are necessary to call a wine artisanal?” At the Huffington Post, Brad Haskel poses this question to five leaders in the wine industry, including one of my favorite Pinot and Chard producers, Greg La Follette.

Meat: It’s What’s for Dinner (With Wine)

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 01-28-2011

Serious cooks in the DC area are blessed with many great specialty shops for wine and food, but sometimes too many choices lead to the comfort level default. Although Let’s Meat on the Avenue is close by in Alexandria, I didn’t begin patronizing it until friends in Maryland and DC commented that they envied my proximity. One night I attended a dinner party where I was served veal loin chops unlike any I’ve ever had before. Not only were they at least 3 inches thick, but the texture of the meat was somewhat denser and more flavorful than you tend to expect from veal. I asked my host where these amazing chops were from and that led me to interview Steve Gatward, butcher and proprietor of Let’s Meat on the Avenue.

Gatward is English and came to the U.S. via Australia and South America. While he apprenticed for a butcher in his youth, his career has taken him from writing food and travel guides to newspaper advertising. He opened Let’s Meat on the Avenue in 2007 and has become a neighborhood fixture for the meat obsessed. His shop is small, but the range of cuts is comprehensive and he also offers a rotating menu of house-made sausages.

Earlier this week, we got together to chat about Gatward’s life, meat, and wine.

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Winter Rosé

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-28-2011

Uploaded to flickr by cbransto

Ever wonder why James Bond was sipping Chateau Angelus in Casino Royale? Product placement. As Dr. Vino discovered,  the placement was paid for “in cash and wine.”

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov urges readers to “consider rosé as a wine, rather than as a prop” and drink it during the winter. Nate Freeman at the New York Observer disagrees, accusing Asimov of throwing “caution, etiquette, logic and sanity to the wind.”

Jon Bonné writes a follow-up to Sunday’s column about Zinfandel. He recognizes the grapes “potential as a serious, nuanced, terroir-expressing grape,” but does a good job explaining why so many Zins are just “grubby,” and why “critics don’t even know what we’re supposed to be looking for.” I love a good Zin (like those made by TurleyCarlisleTaltyPorter Creek, to name just a couple), but too many taste like syrupy, unbalanced ports.

Three Thieves premiered last night on the Cooking Channel. I didn’t watch, but I’m looking forward to it. Yesterday, BottleNotes interviewed one of the show’s stars, Charles Bieler.

Speaking of TV, PBS has announced the creation of “Vine Talk,” a roundtable discussion and wine tasting hosted by actor and writer Stanley Tucci. The show is premiering in April. Wine Spectator has more.

Wine prices appear to have leveled off. What does this mean for closeout retailers like WinesTilSoldOut and Cinderella Wine? Have buying habits forever changed?

The secret to selling more wine? Targetting millennials.

In Wine Enthusiast, Michael Schachner visits Mendoza. I only ate there once, but I second Michael’s recommendation of 1884 Restaurante Francis Mallmann.

Faults and Flaws

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-27-2011

Uploaded to Flickr by roblisameehan.

As a student, I drink a lot of bad wine. Probably because I drink a lot of cheap wine. That’s not to say that inexpensive wine is always bad, but there are certainly more misses at the lower end of the price range than at the top. From the convenience store bottle bought at 9:55 pm on a Friday night to the pricier label found for 70% off, I’ve encountered bad wine in many forms.

If anything, I’ve become a connoisseur of wine faults and flaws. The wide variety of characteristics that make wine ‘bad’ are actually quite interesting. And understanding how to identify bad wine not only increases my appreciation for better wine, it helps me avoid similar purchases in the future.

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Dropped Suits

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-27-2011

I wish this were in my Eurocave.

I’ve said it before, but Mike Steinberger doesn’t write often enough. His stuff is always incredible, and his latest — about an awkward dinner with Jeff Sokolin and a magnum of 1947 Pétrus — is fantastic.

Counterfeit wine crusader Bill Koch has settled his lawsuit with Zachys.

Kansas University business professor Art Hall releases a study which concludes that deregulation of the Kansas liquor industry would benefit consumers and could result in 15,000 new jobs and $350  million in extra wages. (H/T: the American Wine Consumer Coalition. If you haven’t done so, please head to Facebook and “like” the AWCC!)

Lettie Teague interviews Michael Quinlan, the corporate sales manager of Table and Vine, one of New England’s best wine shops.

On the Oregonian’s blog, a nice look at “four unsung heroes and heroines of the Willamette Valley wine scene.”

Temperature-controlled shipping! Wine Business monthly writes about FedEx’s plan to launch an “overnight temperature controlled wine shipping solution for wineries in Northern California.” I actually see this as bad news, because it means I’ll have less restraint ordering wine from May through September.

The Napa Valley Register covers the recently released rules on viticulture appellations and bottle labels from the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Recent Uncorkings: Bacon in Your Glass

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews, Wine Where? | Posted on 01-26-2011

Uploaded to flickr by shawnzam

Swirl it and take a big whiff.  It smells. Like. BACON. According to the winemaker, you may also get hints of “blueberry, dark fruit, smoke, black licorice, spices with hints of rasperry and dark cherry. ” But personally, I pick up distinctive aromas of delicious pork product.

Take a sip.  There is a certain earthiness that resembles the gritty, yet rich taste of…potato skins.  Not kidding.

Now, I’ve never been to Idaho, but my experience of this wine matches up perfectly with how I’d imagine the terroir of the state.  Sawtooth Syrah is a savory, slightly spicy, and authentically pleasant wine from the unexpected state of Idaho. It’s a great sipping wine after a long day, especially if you want to forget about said long day — it’s 14.9% alcohol.  It would also be good with grilled meats (bacon-wrapped filet anyone?) or a big baked potato. :)

Details of Sawtooth Syrah

Blend of Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Viognier

Retails between $8-16 depending on vintage and where you get it. A small price to pay for the smell of bacon in your glass.

Available in DC at Whole Foods on P Street, Whole Foods in Arlington, and Modern Liquor on 9th and P NW.

Daily Wine News: Pop the Corkage

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-26-2011

Uploaded to flickr by Sam Howzit.

Gary Vaynerchuk sounds busy. A nice piece in Inc. from one of the industry’s most entertaining (and most successful) personalities.

Richard Gorelick, the Baltimore Sun’s restaurant critic, chimes in on corkage — which is illegal in the state of Maryland. Gorelick is for it.

Kudos to New York State Assemblyman Micah Kellner. He had a fantastic letter in yesterday’s New York Times urging his fellow legislators to update New York’s “arcane” wine laws and legalize supermarket wine sales.

“Merlot is intimately related to cabernet franc, which is a parent of cabernet sauvignon, whose other parent is sauvignon blanc, the daughter of traminer, which is also a progenitor of pinot noir, a parent of chardonnay.” A fascinating study from Cornell University geneticist Sean Myles about the lack of sex among grapes — and how it threatens their genetic health.

I love skepticism and reason. So I’m a huge fan of Stu Smith’s Biodynamics is a Hoax blog. That’s why I was pretty excited to listen to his interview with 1WineDude.

Wine Spectator looks at the first four wine auctions in Hong Kong this year. Some mind-blowing figures. As Peter D. Meltzer writes, “Between January 21-23, a total of 2,611 lots were offered in Hong Kong by Sotheby’s and Acker Merrall & Condit, bringing in $25.5 million. Another 1,007 lots totaling $9.2 million were sold by Zachys in Hong Kong in early January.”

Daily Wine News: Theft!

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-25-2011

Uploaded to flickr by edans.

VinTank publishes a damning exposé on Snooth.com, and discovers that Snooth is stealing data from CellarTracker. Eric LeVine is talking with his lawyers. Good luck, Eric!

Wine meets reality TV! Definitely looking forward to this one.

China makes wine. And by 2014, China could overtake Australia as the world’s sixth-largest wine producer.

Want a vineyard? Save $200,000, fly to Argentina, and talk to the folks at Vines of Mendoza.

Wine Spectator reports that Jeremy Nickel, the son of Far Niente founder Gil Nickel, has “filed a lawsuit against three members of the board of directors of his family’s wine companies.”

Lettie Teague explains why New York Jets coach Rex Ryan could learn some lessons from legendary winemaker Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards.

nice op-ed in the Oklahoman urging state lawmakers to update the state’s direct shipping laws.

The Search for Argentine Terroir

Posted by | Posted in Grape Adventures | Posted on 01-24-2011

Antonio Morescalchi and Carlos Vazquez in the vineyards of Altos las Hormigas. Taken by Sarah Trubnick.

Antonio Morescalchi and Alberto Antonini of Mendoza’s Altos las Hormigas recently toured the East Coast spreading the word about their new “Terroir Project” wines. Altos las Hormigas has specialized in Argentine Malbecs since its founding in 1995. Recently, the winemaking and viticultural team of Antonini, Atillio Pagli, and Carlos Vazquez paired up with Chilean soil scientist and terroir specialist Pedro Parra to conduct research on the various productive regions of Mendoza.

After extensive soil mapping, certain areas were chosen for their excellent terroir via Parra’s micro- and macro-zoning techniques developed during his PhD work in Paris. The result? A deliciously revamped line of wines focusing on the concept of terroir, including the top-of-the-line Valle de Uco Terroir and Vista Flores Single Vineyard wines, both full of floral notes, spice, and a distinct minerality said to be characteristic of Uco Valley wines.

This brings forth an interesting point of discussion: the concept of Argentine terroir. In the words of Felix Salmon, financial journalist and Reuters blogger, regarding a recent tasting with Mike Evans of Vines of Mendoza: “I didn’t feel as though I’d discovered anything which could reasonably be called Argentine terroir… when you drink [the Argentine wine] you’re not tasting the unique characteristics of the land it’s grown on, in the way that you do with regional wines from… Burgundy… Maybe that’s hardly surprising, since there’s lots of good reason to believe that new-world terroir doesn’t actually exist.”

So is terroir just a myth in the New World? Read the rest of this entry »