Weekly Interview: Felipe González-Gordon Terry

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 04-29-2011

Courtesy of Javier Delgado. www.photojavi.com

Each week, as regular readers know, Terroirist poses 16 questions to a winemaker.

This week, we’re changing things up a bit. Rather than a winemaker, we’re featuring what you might call a “wine diplomat” — Felipe González-Gordon Terry, who lives in the United States representing the fifth generation of one of Spain’s most celebrated wine families, González Byass.

Gonzalez Byass can trace its roots to 1835, when Manuel Maria Gonzalez started making Sherry in Jerez. In 1844, Manuel Maria set up the original soleras for Tío Pepe (today’s best-selling Sherry in the world), and they’ve been running, uninterrupted, ever since.

And since then, the Gonzalez family’s wine operation has grown considerably. Today, the family owns wineries across Spain. In addition to the company’s historic operation in Jerez (where its cellars hold over 45 million liters of Sherry and Brandy de Jerez!), Gonzalez Byass has wineries in Rioja, Cava, Somontano, Castilla, and Cádiz.

Check out our interview with Felipe González-Gordon Terry below the fold… Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Want ABV With That?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-29-2011

The San Francisco Chronicle’s recent announcement to print alcohol levels with the wines it recommends has generated quite a bit of feedback for the newspaper. So Jon Bonné, the wine editor, has taken to his blog to answer some frequently raised questions. It’s a super interesting read.

Could the Chronicle’s move start a trend? Decanter has announced that it, too, will state alcohol levels on all recommended wines listed in the magazine.

In the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, Virginie Boone writes a great piece on the story behind the newly formed West Sonoma Coast Vintners Group. Elsewhere, Tom Wark explains why he’s excited about this group.

Free the Grapes updates its site with an in-depth summary of legislative efforts across the country.

William Foley has purchased a non-controlling interest in Wineinc, an Australian wine company which produces value-oriented brands.

In the Napa Valley Register, a profile of Jessica Jimenez-Smith, the great, great, great-granddaughter of Jacob Beringer.

Daily Wine News: Respect Petite Sirah!

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-28-2011

This was a real wine! Not Petite Sirah, of course. Uploaded to flickr by jm3.

Mike Veseth, the Wine Economist, explains why Petite Sirah is the Rodney Dangerfield of wine. “Like the famous comedian,” he explains, “this grape variety ‘can’t get no respect.’”

If Petite Sirah is the Rodney Dangerfield of wine, is Dirk Van der Niepoort of the Douro Valley the Mario Batali of winemakers? He wears shorts and Crocs. Wine writer Harry Reginald writes a great profile of Niepoort.

In Palate Press, Joe Pollack writes about the third annual Drink Local Wine conference, which was recently held in St. Louis.

It’s not uncommon for a sommelier to upsell a patron – steering a customer toward a more pricey selection than he otherwise might order. Let’s say that happens, and you complain. Would you expect the restaurant’s manager to knock on your door a few nights later, with two free bottles of wine? It happened in New Jersey.

Lot18 is certainly one of the more interesting flash sale websites – a few months back, Terroirist Robby Schrum talked to Adam Lee of Siduri/Novy to learn how the company works. Turns out the company is doing pretty well. “While they won’t reveal exact numbers, cofounders Philip James and Kevin Fortuna say their company is generating 7-figures in sales every month.

Shanken News Daily, a free Internet publication covering the alcohol industry, launched on Tuesday. It’s worth keeping an eye on. Yesterday, it published a short article about how Australian wine is still struggling in the United States.

Daily Wine News: WSJ: #StopHR1161

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-27-2011

Huge. The Wall Street Journal chimes in with an editorial on HR 1161.  The key passage: “The wholesalers and their friends in Congress argue that [The] CARE [Act} promotes state sovereignty and limits Congressional abuse of the Commerce Clause. We might remind them that the original purpose of that clause was to stop states from enacting protectionist laws. The very reason James Madison called the Constitutional Convention was to eliminate interstate trade barriers that were balkanizing the union.” More commentary on this from our friend, Tom Wark.

On Wine Enthusiast’s website, a day in the life of Michael Madrigale, the head sommelier and wine director at Bar Boulud in New York.

I’ve long argued that Chenin Blanc from Vouvray is underappreciated. And I’ve loudly complained about how difficult it is to tell – in advance – whether a Vouvray will be dry or sweet. In his latest column, Eric Asimov shares both sentiments.

Among investors, “the hunt is on for scarce physical assets that offer protection against inflation and potential for strong returns.” One of the top performing asset classes, according to the Wall Street Journal, is rare wines — up an annualized 6.8% over the past ten years.

In Bloomberg, Ryan Flinn analyzes what Robert Parker’s departure from California will mean for Napa Valley.

According to Christian Moueix, the owner of Chateau Petrus, Pomerol’s Chateau Trotanoy is a “Poor Man’s Petrus.” He should know – he owns them both.

The Roots of Paso Robles

Posted by | Posted in Grape Adventures | Posted on 04-26-2011

Robert Haas explaining the terroir of Tablas Creek.

Of America’s up-and-coming wine regions, Paso Robles seems to be gaining quite a lot of recognition.

Hauling a yellow bin  filled with grapes, Justin Smith of Saxum graces the cover of Wine Spectator, reaping the benefits of having his wine named Wine of the Year. The cover story article chronicles his ascent to stardom, tracing his expertise in the vineyard and the cellar back to his days working in his father’s vineyard.

Another article in the same issue profiles other newcomer winemakers in the area, who are putting their collective thumbprint on the area’s prowess for Rhone styled wines. So while the coverage will undoubtedly bring a fair amount of recognition to the region, it begs the question: how did Paso Robles arrive at this point? That is, who laid the groundwork for this new generation of winemakers?

While there are certainly numerous entrepreneurs and innovators to thank, one of the key players in the rise of Paso Robles is Robert Haas of Tablas Creek Vineyards. How a kid from New York City came to influence an entire Californian AVA is quite an interesting story and we were lucky enough to learn about it from the man himself on a sunny Californian day amongst the vines that he first planted. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Chateau Chicago!

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-26-2011

Chateau Chicago!!! H/T: Dr. Vino.

The San Francisco Chronicle announces a plan to print the listed alcohol levels of each wine it recommends. The announcement is paired with a test of 19 wines to check their accuracy – and the results are eye opening.

Jay McInerney discovers the odd couple that finds a home at New York’s Le Bernardin: sommelier Aldo Sohm, “a master of matching food and wine,” and chef Eric Ripert, who “likes to drink red Bordeaux with pretty much everything, including oysters.”

All Things Considered welcomes Gary Vaynerchuk. It’s worth a listen.

Chris Macias tastes some wines from Oakville. Warning: His notes will make you jealous.

On the New York Times food blog, Eric Asimov writes a long piece on Britain’s sparkling wine. He’s excited about its potential.

In select stores, Whole Foods has opened “tasting spaces” for customers to sample beer and wine.

American wine doesn’t just come from California, Oregon, and Washington. Next March, the first ever “Eastern Winery Exposition” will be held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, providing Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern wineries and vineyards to network and meet with suppliers.

Daily Wine News: Expensive Champagne

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-25-2011

In July 2010, divers discovered the world’s oldest Champagne — several bottles of 185+-year-old Veuve Clicquot – at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Some of those bottles are going to be auctioned on June 3 in Mariehamn. Analysts predict the bottles will fetch about $150,000 each.

First, the nannies came for the premixed alcoholic energy drinks. Now, they’re coming for “another sugary, high-alcohol drink” — Blast by Colt 45. Nineteen state attorneys general want the drink recalled. Over on Reason magazine’s blog, Michael C. Moynihan sarcastically suggests that lawmakers should also target flavored vodka and Godiva liqueur. Please don’t give them any more bad ideas!

On the ShipCompliant Blog, Cary Greene – the COO and general counsel of WineAmerica – sifts “through some of the best evidence-based economic and legal reports that have implications for the CARE bill.”

In other #StopHR1161 news, Dick Rivera — president of the American Beverage Institute (ABI) and the former CEO of Real Mex Restaurants and TGI Friday’s – chimes in with a blistering Washington Times op-ed. Check it out.

The wine for the Royal Wedding has been announced: Pol Roger NV Champagne. Considering “southern England has become a source of excellent sparkling wines,” Eric Asimov wonders if the royal couple should have selected something from closer to home.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné and Stacy Finz wonder what’s next for Kendall-Jackson now that the company’s founder has passed away.

Jamie Kutch sits down with NPR’s Liane Hansen to talk about “balance” in Pinot Noir.

Weekly Interview: Michael Talty

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 04-22-2011

Michael Talty.

Each week, as regular readers know, Terroirist poses 16 questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Michael Talty, owner and winemaker of Talty Vineyards & Winery in the Dry Creek Valley

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Talty’s wines. I first heard about them in November 2010, when John Holdredge encouraged me to pay Michael Talty a visit. It was a great recommendation.

These days, too many Zinfandels are pruney and Port-like, and go down like cough syrup. Talty’s wines – like those of Turley, Bedrock, and Carlisle – are acid-driven and elegant. The big Zinfandel fruit is still there, of course, but the wines are relatively light bodied and pair well with food.

Michael Talty’s story begins in the kitchen, with his father. The two enjoyed cooking and drinking good wine together – and by the late-1980s, Mike had grown especially fond of Zinfandel, so decided to try his hand at winemaking. It started in his garage and in short order, he was taking classes at the UC Davis Extension winemaking school. By this point, his hobby had outgrown his garage, and he started dreaming about owning his own winery.

In the mid-1990s, he decided to quit his job and jump full-time into winemaking as soon as he found the right piece of land. In 1997, Mike and his family found the perfect, six-acre vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley. He’s been making wine there ever since. And he’s got a great story to tell. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: A Legend Passes

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-22-2011

Jess Jackson, the founder of Kendall-Jackson, passed away yesterday. He was 81. Some wonderful tributes have already been written — including pieces by Steve HeimoffLettie TeagueTim FishJay McInerneyW. Blake Gray, and Kevin McCallum and Peg Melnik.

At KCET.org, the website for  an independent public TV station in Southern California, John Guenther covers HR 1161. Check it out. It has a great graphic, too.

Wine Spectator has the scoop on how some wineries are celebrating Earth Day.

In Wines & Vines, a nice piece from Paul Franson on the wine industry in Texas — and how it’s matured in recent years.

In her latest Vintage America column, Talia Baiocchi, writes about the Mayacamas Mountain Range.

Daily Wine News: Empty Calories

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-21-2011

I’ve always wondered why Manischewitz is so popular on Passover.  In the Atlantic, Yoni Appelbaum answers this question. (H/T: Alder Yarrow, who caught this a few days ago.)

In his latest column, Eric Asimov asks if you would pay $410 for a corkscrew. I wouldn’t – even if it’s “a complete blend of blasted textures and vaporized titanium-based finishes.”

In New Jersey, some consumer friendly reforms are on the table for liquor regulation.

Alexander LaPratt, sommelier of DB Bistro Moderne, has won this year’s “Best Sommelier in America” competition. Lettie Teague has the scoop.

Bud break! Unsurprisingly, this makes the local news in the Bay Area. Very cool.

On April 1, the FDA published proposed regulations for nationwide menu labeling. Two categories were conspicuously exempted from the proposed rules — movie theater chains and alcoholic beverages. In the Washington Post, Tim Carman explains why.

Two wine producers are in a trademark battle with one another – the California-based winery behind “Mommyjuice” and the New Jersey based distributor behind “Mommy’s Time Out.” I haven’t tasted either. And don’t really plan to.