New Videos from Peay Vineyards

Posted by | Posted in Videos | Posted on 02-29-2012

Peay Vineyards is one of my favorite wineries in the world.

I’m not alone in this assessment. Way back in 2006, when Peay Vineyards was still a newcomer, Eric Asimov wrote about the “rare intensity and precision” of the wines.  It was Jon Bonné’s 2009 Winery of the Year, and Alder Yarrow has written that all Peay’s wines are “spectacularly good — so good that I will simply buy any wine they make, no questions asked.”

Yesterday, Peay debuted three videos. The first is on the story of the vineyard; the next two are on Peay’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, respectively. Check them out!

Peay Vineyards – Tour from Farm + Cellar on Vimeo.

Peay Vineyards – Pinot Noir from Farm + Cellar on Vimeo.

Peay Vineyards – Chardonnay from Farm + Cellar on Vimeo.

Daily Wine News: Leap Year Day

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-29-2012

Frog's Leap Winery

Happy Leap Year Day! In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre writes about Frog’s Leap Winery’s plans for the big day.

A couple weeks back, Dave McIntyre wrote a blog post lamenting that he still hears people complain about the quality-to-price “value” of local wine. In the post, he wrote, “it really is irrelevant that $20 will give you more options in California Merlot than equal quality Virginia wine.” First Vine’s Tom Natan doesn’t think it’s “irrelevant.”

Wine Spectator reports on the early and unexpected departure of Noël Pinguet, the long-serving director of Domaine Huët. In Decanter, Jim Budd reports that the departure was the result of philosophical differences with the owners. Fortunately, Mike Steinberger isn’t worried about the future of the estate.

In Wine Enthusiast, the best article yet on Premiere Napa Valley – with a close look at the star of the show, Dana Estates.

The HoseMaster of Wine notices that wine bloggers are vanishing. He isn’t too upset.

Over just four years, the brand manager for Moët Hennessy, Romain Brunot, stole 400 bottles of Krug. He’s now in jail.

On the Bloomberg wire, John Mariani offers his thoughts on some Rhone wines worth seeking out.

Rosé Champagne: Think Pink All Year

Posted by | Posted in Wine Education | Posted on 02-28-2012

Uploaded to flickr by -Jérôme-.

Valentine’s Day was two weeks ago. Did you open a bottle of sparking rosé with your sweetheart, per the clichéd guidance spouted by seemingly every publication in the country (and beyond)?

Even respected wine writers can’t resist the urge to advise consumers to go pink in February. It’s great if you took their advice for the holiday — as long as you didn’t pair it with chocolate (haven’t we been over this before?). But I’m here to tell you, sparkling rosé – especially Champagne – is a serious wine for any occasion, and it deserves a place in your cellar and on your table more often than you may think.

I recently tried a relatively new rosé Champagne, made in a non-traditional style, and it blew my mind. More on that below, but first, some background.

Rosé Champagne is not cheap; it will cost you around $40 to get in the game, around $80 to play for real, and into the hundreds to roll with the best vintage têtes de cuvée. The reason for the higher tariff is that it is labor intensive, and therefore scarce (ok, and also maybe the market-driven notion that pink bubbly is reserved for special occasions). On average, rosé makes up only 8-10 percent of a given Champagne house’s production. Even at Billecart-Salmon, most famous for its fabulous rosé, less than a third of its 2 million bottles per year are pink.

Rosés were rarely seen, let alone taken seriously, in Champagne until the late 20th century, and only really began gaining steam as an earnest winemaking endeavor, as opposed to an afterthought, in the last decade or so. Before, they were often fruity and easy drinking, with lots of sugar (playing into the Valentine’s stereotype). Now, rosé Champagnes are increasingly serious, complex wines with low dosage that allows the wines’ true character and terroir to emerge. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Volcanic Wines

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-28-2012

“If you haven’t already guessed, I love these wines. I love the lightness of their textures, the purity of the red fruit and mineral flavors, their refreshing nature, their elegance and their subtlety. They have the weightlessness of good Burgundy, though not the complexity and the tradition (at least, not yet).” Eric Asimov, on the red wines of Etna.

According to Jon Bonné, “Grenache is on a star turn.” Huge congratulations to one of my favorites, A Tribute to Grace, for making Bonné’s list of recommendations.

“Wine by-the-glass? Why not just order steak by-the-bite?” The HoseMaster of wine offers some “actual secrets of a sommelier.” They’re hilarious.

In a great post at Grand Crue, Paul Mabray offers his thoughts on the “epic changes” we’re seeing in the wine industry as professional critics become less important.

Over at NorCal Wine, Fred Swan publishes the first part of an in-depth interview with Antonio Galloni. Meanwhile, Wine Enthusiast critic Steve Heimoff chats more casually with the Wine Advocate critic — covering Galloni’s background in Part 1 and tackling blind tasting in Part 2.

In his latest column, Robert Whitley recommends a dozen wines that are both cellar-worthy and affordable.

Jeff Siegel reconsiders his January prediction that wine prices would rise in 2012. The reason? Some smart folks don’t expect wine prices to budge this year.

This year, Premiere Napa Valley – the annual fundraiser for the Napa Valley Vintners — brought in $3.1 million, a new record. For the wine geeks, check out Roy Piper’s overall impressions of the festivities over at WineBerserkers.

In the Telegraph, Victoria Moore contends that the “much-maligned” Carignan grape is being re-evaluated.

Dogfish’s new brew, Noble Rot, is half wine and half beer!

Weekly Wine Roundup: Syrahs and Sassiacaias

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 02-27-2012

Credit: Flickr User naotakem.

The Terroirist team tasted through some Syrahs and Sassicaias this week while your usual correspondent, Terroirist Greg, climbed the mountains of Illinois (?) on a ski trip. Check out full notes below.

Matt Latuchie
Despite an unusually warm winter out here in South Dakota, I had an urge this week to try some syrahs. Three wines from completely different areas produced beautiful results. It speaks to the flexibility of this grape and the diversity of flavor profiles it has.

The first bottle was a 1997 Clos Marie Simon. I am familiar with this producer from my time working at Weygandt Wines in DC but had never had anything this old from them. I found the bottle for $16 at auction so was looking forward to this little experiment. This is typical equal parts grenache and syrah, but I found the syrah elements far more pronounced. It had smoked meats, dark fruit, and nice acidity. A fine example from the Languedoc and a wake up call to me that overlooking this region is a mistake.

The second syrah of the week was a bottle of 2003 Delas Les Bessards. I had my doubts about this bottle given the vintage and my aversion to roasted fruit notes but came away impressed. It started off with dense purple and black fruits and teetered on the edge of being too fruited. With enough air, the more classic syrah characteristics emerged: smoked meat, subtle olives, blackberries, and charcoal. I’m glad I had a chance to taste this as I feared the combination of a modern producer and such a ripe vintage. Shows what I know!

My last syrah of the week was probably the best and came from the Californian Edmunds St. John. Steve Edmunds has long championed the beliefs of minimally invasive winemaking and was recently featured in the documentary Wine From Here. Sadly, my experience with his wines has been limited, but that will soon be changing. This bottle was KILLER. The flavors were so elegant, balanced, and pure that I just couldn’t get over it. It had beautiful dark fruit, smoked meat, and perfumed floral notes. Just lovely stuff that completely flew under my radar. Bravo to Steve! Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Restaurant Celebrities

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-27-2012

“Sommeliers are the new celebrities of the restaurant world, and collectively they are increasingly influencing the way we think about wine and drink it.” In his latest Wall Street Journal column, Jay McInerney looks at how sommeliers have changed in recent years. Kudos to Matthiasson – which makes one of my favorite white wines in the world — for being included as one of the five recommended wines!

Some good news for winegrowers. Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, UC Davis, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture “have created specially engineered grapevines that can block the bacterium that causes Pierce’s disease.

“During a job interview, it is usually not a good idea to enthusiastically volunteer that you enjoy a drink now and then. But in Utah, it could soon be a requirement, at least for those seeking appointment to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.” In Utah, a bill is moving forward that would require at least two people on the five-member commission be drinkers.

Wine Spectator covers the fight over the meaning of “organic” between Europe and the United States.

Alder Yarrow is a machine. Before I’d even had a chance to reflect on Premiere Napa Valleyhe reviewed all 200 lots.

In a fantastic interview, W. Blake Gray chats with Colman Andrews, editorial director of

With increasing regularity, some high-end U.S. pawnbrokers are accepting wine as collateral for loans.

Robert Dwyer offers a great tasting report of some wines from Radio-Coteau.


Weekly Interview: Jeff Morgan

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 02-24-2012

Each week, as regular readers know, Terroirist poses questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Jeff Morgan, one of three vintners at Covenant Wines, one of California’s few Kosher wineries.

Jeff first became interested in wine while living in Southern France and working as a musician. In 1989, he decided he wanted to start working in the wine industry — so returned to the United States, where he grew grapes and made wine for several years on Long Island.

At around this time, he also started writing about wine – landing big hits in the New York Times and Wine Spectator. And in 1995, the Wine Spectator hired Jeff as its West Coast editor.

Four years later, Jeff headed to Napa Valley — and Leslie Rudd of Rudd Winery  soon hired him to become the wine director for Dean & DeLuca.

In 2002, Jeff and Leslie found themselves in a conversation about the lack of high quality Kosher wine – so the next year, they decided to do something about it and produce their first vintage. Today, Covenant Wines has gained a reputation for California’s “finest kosher wine.”

Check out our interview with Jeff below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Sommeliers!

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-24-2012

“The wine culture of each major city in the U.S. is constantly evolving as wine becomes an ineradicable feature of dining out.” In her latest Eater column, Talia Baciocchi explores the wine scene in four cities by chatting with Miami’s Eric Larkee of The Genuine Hospitality Group; San Francisco’s Paul Einbund, the consulting wine director at Frances; Chicago’s Master Sommelier Alpana Singh; and New York City’s Pascaline Lepeltier of Rouge Tomate.

Meanwhile, over at, Sarah White checks in with three sommeliers to compile a list of “nine wines to add to your collection now.”

“In a small corner of Austria, they have only just finished picking the 2011 harvest.” Never mind the fact that it’s 2012! In the Wall Street Journal Europe, Will Lyons writes a great piece on the wines of Austria.

In the Montreal Gazette, Bill Zacharkiw urges consumers to give “a second look” to Carignan and Aligoté. I agree!

On his blog, Dave McIntyre covers Virginia’s Governor’s Cup – and profiles the winery that took top honors, Glen Manor Vineyards.

Château Margaux is experimenting with screwcaps. Sort of, as Jamie Goode explains.

If you have $925,000 and are looking for a super cool retreat in Healdsburg, check this place out!

Beginning in July, French motorists will be required — by law — to carry a breathalyzer kit to make sure they’re able to drive. This story is just starting to get picked up, and it worries me, as I fear it could gain steam — and put us on a slippery slope to ignition interlocks. What do you think?


Daily Wine News: The Alcohol Factor

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-23-2012

At Serious Eats, Terry Theise offers advice on how to “get the most out of the sommelier when you go out for a fancy meal.”

Matt Kramer looks at recent trends in Americans’ coffee and wine consumption habits, and concludes that we’re becoming “more nuanced.”

Mike Steinberger wonders if wine geeks are “too cavalier about the alcohol factor.”

Meanwhile, the Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine has concluded that “the newfound lust for low alcohol wines is about to destroy the wine business as we know it.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Steve Heimoff interviews Jayson Woodbridge, owner and winemaker of Hundred Acre, Layer Cake, and Cherry Pie Wines.

Surprise! According to Dave McIntyre, “Argentina has much more to offer than just malbec.”

In Mississippi, the local wine industry is taking off.

“Petite Sirah, with a Stella chaser — it’s the next pickleback.” So proclaims Jon Bonné in a post offering his final thoughts on the Chronicle Wine Competition.

For the 20th straight year, the Oregon wine industry is expecting sales to rise in 2012.


The Charm of Oregon’s Wines

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 02-22-2012

David Lett.

As regular readers know, I write a free, twice monthly wine column that’s distributed to newspapers across the country.

All the columns are housed at, the fastest growing wine portal on the Internet.

If you don’t see my column in your local newspaper, please send an email to your paper’s editor and CC me (David- at My latest column — which offers a primer on Oregon’s wines — went out yesterday morning.

The Charm of Oregon’s Wines

There’s something special about the wines from Oregon.

The state produces some of the finest Pinot Noir in world. Its Pinot Gris, which generally flies under the radar, is full of character and often offers a tremendous value. Oregon’s top sparkling wines are absolutely stunning. It’s a region well worth exploring.

The modern Oregon wine industry traces its roots to the late 1960s, when a number of young idealists moved to the state.

The trailblazer was David Lett, who purchased a hillside property in the Willamette Valley in 1965, shortly after finishing the winemaking program at the University of California, Davis. Lett’s professors urged him against moving so far north, believing it would be too cold and too wet for wine grapes. But other pioneers soon followed in Lett’s footsteps, and within just a few years, they proved the naysayers wrong. Read the rest of this entry »