Daily Wine News: SMOKE

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-23-2012

The tower at Chateau Latour.

Christian Seely, the managing director of AXA Millésimes — which owns Château Pichon-Longueville and a host of other properties – does not think Chateau Latour’s decision to quit the En Primeur system “is the beginning of the end of the current system.”

Quebec’s SAQ, which has a monopoly on wine retail in the Canadian province, has responded to accusations that it paid James Suckling $24,000 last year. (Both parties denied any financial relationship.) If you can’t read the response (it’s in French), the agency has admitted to paying Suckling $18,000 in exchange for three videos. Total running time? Just over nine minutes.

“The Wine Advocate hired the firm of Spin, Misdirect, Obfuscate, Kneejerk and Evade (SMOKE) to investigate whether the conduct of Dr. Jay Miller had compromised the standards of independence expected by The Wine Advocate.” Another classic from the HoseMaster of Wine.

“The beautiful amphitheater of Apalta, along with other subregions of the Colchagua Valley, seems to be the perfect home to most of the so-called Bordeaux varietals, as well as Syrah.” In the Wall Street Journal, Jay McInerney visits Chile.

Jeff Siegel recently acquired “a copy of a report from an important U.S. distributor, detailing sales from March 2011 to March 2012 in the Dallas market.” The details are fascinating.

Jon Bonné has been “hearing word” of dramatic improvements in Chardonnay, “one that transcends both oceans of oak and the industrial plonk that killed Australia’s wine reputation in the first place.” So he tasted 20.

When French winemakers visit New York City, they eat at Christian DeLouvrier’s La Mangeoire. So contends Lettie Teague.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has unveiled several new road signs, alerting motorists to the fact that they’ve “entered a particular Virginia American Viticultural Area.”

Discovering Monterey County, Part I

Posted by | Posted in Grape Adventures | Posted on 04-20-2012

Monterey county might be California’s most overlooked wine county. Not only is it in the shadow of Napa/Sonoma for bay area wine spots, but its southern boundary sits right up against the Paso Robles AVA. So hot right now, Paso. This leaves Monterey in somewhat of a no-man’s land, albeit a beautiful one.

The county varies drastically in climate and terrain. The tourist viewpoint often doesn’t extend beyond the peninsula which grows fairways, not wine, and the stunning views of Big Sur on the coast. It’s the inland (that’s a relative term here) valleys where the vine thrives and the pace of life is closer to Kansas than San Francisco.

Santa Lucia Highlands

I admit I don’t have the highest opinion of Monterey wines, thinking it of somewhat of a producer of fine bulk wines, if that makes any sense. It’s better than Fresno, but rarely reaches the heights of Sonoma.

Or does it? I have decided this spring to give the county the fair chance it deserves, and there was no better way to start this tour than a helicopter ride over the Salinas Valley to get a better understanding of the geography and its influence on what goes into the bottle.

Jackson Family Wines graciously offered a ride from the small airport in Monterey proper to their Panorama Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco AVA. Arroyo Seco is in the larger Salinas Valley along with a few other AVAs, and I’ll be focusing on this piece of the county first. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Sustainability and Winemaking

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-20-2012

“In practice… wineries can get certified sustainable for doing the things any business would have to do to survive economically and for potentially creating more environmental loading with time.” In a long-but-super-interesting blog post, First Vine’s Tom Natan looks at “sustainability and winemaking.”

New York Cork report unveils a good-looking new website!

Dave McIntyre and Jeff Siegel sit down to chat about the upcoming DrinkLocalWine conference in Colorado. (In case you’re wondering, I’ll be out there.)

Bruce Cass explores California terroir by tasting through three Chardonnays “grown in separate districts, but all made in much the same manner by the same winemaker” at Steven Kent Winery in Livermore Valley.

“If you would like to drink red wine with your Asian food, by all means give it a go. Just remember to ignore the quizzical look from your sommelier.” So proclaims Will Lyons in the Wall Street Journal Europe.

Attention British sparkling wine producers: Don’t complain about increased demand. It’s a good thing!

On Playboy.com, Joe Roberts makes the case that rosé makes men more popular with the ladies.

Decanter.com reports: “Bernard Magrez, owner of Chateau Pape Clement and Chateau La Tour Carnet, has extended his portfolio of estates with the addition of three new Bordeaux names.”

Heart’s Delight Wine Tasting & Auction: A Must for Wine Lovers!

Posted by | Posted in Wine Events | Posted on 04-19-2012

Heart's Delight Wine Tasting & AuctionWhat if I told you there was an event that lasts four days, features tastings of ultra-premium wines, including First Growth Bordeaux and Cult California Cabernet, dinners crafted by celebrity chefs and James Beard award winners, and incomparable seminars and receptions?

What if I told you that the event also includes live and silent auctions, where you have the chance to win luxurious wine vacations to France, Australia, South America and other wine regions, rare and exceptional wine in large formats and case quantities, and other unique items and experiences?

And what if I told you that the event has raised over $10 million for the American Heart Association over the last 12 years, helping to support research into the number one cause of death in the United States?

You would want to get involved. Admit it.

Well, you can. And it’s easy. The 13th Annual Heart’s Delight Wine Tasting & Auction is taking place May 2-5, 2012 in Washington, DC. There are two ways for a wine lover to get involved in this great event: (1) attend the festivities, and (2) bid on auction lots!

To attend one of the fantastic Heart’s Delight experiences, just pick which day you wish to attend and purchase a ticket:

Wednesday is the United States of Wine celebration, with a wine tasting with owners and winemakers and a live auction featuring large format bottles direct from the winery. The reception will be followed by a BYO-style Collectors Dinner in the company of the participating winemakers.

Thursday is a series of intimate wine dinners with an international flair in homes, restaurants and Embassies with a host, chef and winemaker at each.

Friday is a black tie Vintner’s Dinner featuring the wines of Château Mouton Rothschild presented by Philippe Dhalluin. The evening will also include a live auction, and the whole evening will be presided over by Jamie Ritchie of Sotheby’s.

Saturday is the big one. It includes a formal seated tasting of Bordeaux wines from the famed 2009 vintage – including several 100-point wines – as well as older vintages, presented by representatives of the chateaux in attendance. There also will be cooking classes and seminars. The evening continues with the showcase tasting reception with a silent and live auction, celebrity chef stations, wine tasting stations, and Vegas-style entertainment and games. It all concludes with a VIP after party!

Don’t live in, or can’t get to, Washington, DC? That’s okay! You can still bid on any of the great auction lots by completing an absentee bidder registration form. Check out all of the amazing items up for bidding at the links below, and if you see one (or more!) that you must have, get your form in to Heart’s Delight!Friday Night Vintner's Dinner

Wednesday Silent Auction
Wednesday Live Auction
Friday Silent Auction
Friday Live Auction
Saturday Silent Auction
Saturday Live Auction

Between now and the start of the event on May 2nd, Terroirist will be highlighting some of the more unique and exciting auction lots with reminders on how you can bid. For now, get your tickets and make plans to attend, or start browsing the catalogs and submit your registration forms! Heart’s Delight is an amazing organization for a tremendous cause. I am proud to be a committee member, and everyone here at Terroirist is proud to support the event!

Daily Wine News: Drinking Local

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-19-2012

A map of the West Sonoma Coast.

Despite claims to the contrary, “SAQ, the state-owned wine entity that has a monopoly on wine retail in Quebec, paid wine critic James Suckling $24,000 last year.” So reports Dr. Vino. My take? This wouldn’t be a scandal – or even unethical – if the parties hadn’t lied about it.

Reuters and StarkInsider report on Silicon Valley Bank’s “Annual State of the Wine Industry Report.”

After chatting with Bill Harlan, Steve Heimoff concludes that “optimism [has returned] to Napa Valley, after a long, dark recession.”

“You’ve heard of eating local, but what about drinking local?” On The Kojo Nnamdi show, Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post, Todd Kliman of The Washingtonian, and Virginia Tech enology professor Tony Wolf discuss the local wine movement.

“In the United States, the “American Viticultural Area” (AVA) designation is based more on, well, politics and marketing. AVAs often seem to have no rhyme or reason except for their marketing value, which is questionable.” In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre explains why AVAs have “no rhyme or reason” by profiling the Sonoma Coast. Elsewhere, he offers some Sonoma Coast wine recommendations.

In Wine Spectator, Tim Fish details the “time-honored etiquette to BYOB that newcomers should learn, but even veterans need the occasional refresher course on.”

Tom Wark chats with James Conaway, author of Napa (1990), The Far Side of Eden (2002), and the forthcoming The Language of Cabernet.

Eric Asimov offers some wisdom: “It’s… wholly unnecessary to get overly caught up in the intricacies of wine and food pairing.”

W. Blake Gray profiles Melissa Burr, winemaker at Stoller Vineyards. (As regular readers know, we interviewed Melissa last May.)

Daily Wine News: State of the Industry

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-18-2012

On Tuesday, Silcon Valley Bank released its annual State of the Wine Industry Report for 2012-2013. Among the predictions? 7-11% sales growth in 2012; imports taking larger market share in the United States; and bottle price increases. One eye-catching conclusion? For now, at least, millennials are over-valued in their importance. (For the full report, click here.)

In the past week, Jon Bonné has “had a few chances to taste California Cabernet from 1999.” His takeaway? “The end of the ’90s caught the brunt of that transitional stage in California Cabernet.”

“Sommeliers are no longer just there to give the diner what they are familiar with; they’re there to expose them to something they probably wouldn’t have discovered on their own.” In Eater, Talia Baiocchi contends that “The Era of the Sommelier as Delphic Oracle Is Over.”

“Unvarying consumption can make us ‘wine stupid.’” In his latest column, Matt Kramer offers some pointers for those looking to avoid a “wine rut.”

In case you missed it, Fred Swan has been chatting with John Alban. In the first installment, they discuss the First Hospice du Rhone. In the second installment, they discuss the evolution of the event and the increasing popularity of Rhone wines.

“The customer isn’t always right.” In his latest Decanter column, Andrew Jefford laments the fact that so much wine in Bandol is produced as Rosé.

In the Telegraph, Victoria Moore and James Hall report on Chateau Latour’s decision to exit the En Primeur system.

#MalbecDay! Celebrating Malbec

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 04-17-2012

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 Wines.com, 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 -Terroirist.com).

My latest column — which explains how and why Malbec has become so popular — went out this morning.

Celebrating Malbec

On April 17, wine enthusiasts across the globe gathered to celebrate World Malbec Day. For novices and oenophiles alike, the celebration was a great opportunity to sample some of Argentina’s flagship varietal.

Although Malbec is stunningly popular, few Americans knew anything about the grape just ten years ago. Thank goodness it made its way North — today, Malbec represents a great value for those in search of a bold-yet-approachable reds.

World Malbec Day was created by Wines of Argentina to commemorate the day in 1853 when Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, an Argentinian political leader, asked his government to spend money on the nation’s agriculture industry. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Argentinian Malbec

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-17-2012

In anticipation of World Malbec Day, I recently sampled some Argentinian Malbec that had arrived over the past few months as press samples . All were tasted single blind.

Review: 2010 Bodega Colome Malbec Estate
SRP: $30. Explosive nose of sweet blackberries, tart blueberries, ripe plums, vanilla crème brule, and hint of alcohol. On the palate, the wine is marked by a creaminess that reminds me of melting milk chocolate. Quite a treat. (91 pts.)

Review: 2008 Twigs Malbec
SRP: $15. On the nose, a cedar box full of potpourri, with lots and lots of lavender. Exceptionally floral, with a hint of plastic. On the palate, the wine is very tannic – and it finishes a bit artificial. While not varietally pure, there’s something tasty about this wine. (86 pts.)

Review: 2010 Bodega Colome Amalaya
SRP: $17. On the nose, ripe blackberries and boysenberries, some tart blueberries, and oak, with a seductive floral foundation. The palate matches the nose – and the wine is impressively balanced and juicy. (89 pts.)

Review: 2009 Clos de los Siete (Michel Rolland) Clos de Los Siete
SRP: $18. 57% Malbec; 15% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Sauvinon; 10% Syrah; 3% Petit Verdot. On the nose, ripe blackberries and blueberries, with gobs of white and black pepper and sweet, dark chocolate. Some Bordeaux notes come out on the palate, along with a streak of salinity. This wine is quite impressive – soft tannins, great acidity, and no noticeable alcohol. (92 pts.)

Review: 2010 Graffigna Malbec Reserve Centenario
SRP: $12. On the nose, it’s classic Malbec but a bit more refreshing – blueberries, blackberries, and lavender, along with some seawater, vanilla bean ice cream, and spicy oak. The wine has a nice floral lift, and the palate is impressively balanced. A great QPR. (89 pts.)

Wines scoring less than 85 points.

Review: 2010 Bodegas Caro (Barons de Rothschild / Catena) Malbec Aruma
SRP: $15. A bretty mess.

Review: 2010 Cultivate Malbec The Gambler
SRP: $15. Disappointing. A nose of charcoal, smoke, and sweat.

Daily Wine News: Humble Pizza

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-17-2012

“If it seems like overreaching to pair elegant Champagne with humble pizza, perhaps that’s because we underestimate pizza.” In the New York Times, a brilliant piece from Eric Asimov on a perfect food-and-wine pairing.

Elsewhere, Asimov offers a “happy solution” for those who would “like the opportunity to drink aged wines without paying a fortune or waiting them out.” (Rioja Reservas, of course.)

“2011 is especially difficult to sum up. It is a vintage for careful note-taking, with some very good wines and quite a few disappointments… If you’d rather drink great wine than invest in it, then the 2011 whites, both dry and sweet, are the clear choice.” In the International Herald Tribune, Eric Pfanner writes a great En Primeur report.

Meanwhile, over in Bloomberg, Elin McCoy offers her dispatch — explaining why “This year, it’s all about price.”

In case you missed it, “Chateau Lafite Rothschild has released its 2011 at €420 per bottle (about $552) to the wine trade, a reduction of 30% on last year’s price.”

Talia Baiocchi previews the 2012 Rosé season with some of New York’s top sommeliers.

In Newsweek, Alice Feiring explains “why we should love natural wines.”

Jeff Siegel strongly endorses “Beyond Jefferson’s Vines,” a new book by Richard Leahy on “The Evolution of Quality Wine in Virginia.”

“As long as someone enjoys what they’re drinking, the romance will still be there.” New York Magazine looks at the debate over whether wine labels should list ingredients.

In the New York Times, Howard Goldberg contends that “Chardonnay made in stainless-steel tanks is emerging as a strength at Long Island wineries.”

Daily Wine News: End of Futures

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-16-2012

The tower at Chateau Latour.

James Suckling breaks the news that Chateau Latour will stop selling futures. “Only bottled wines will be sold from the winery, and vintages will be released when the chateau believes they are ready to drink.”

“Out of this chaos, great wine can appear. But it’s never an obvious discovery.” In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné brings attention to the “quiet vineyard revival” just outside Santa Cruz.

Elsewhere in the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné makes the case that Chenin Blanc is “having a quiet resurrection.”

In the Daily Beast, Mike Steinberger writes about the increasing popularity of “marijuana-laced wine.”

Lettie Teague has tasted a number of 2010 white Burgundies, and they’re “uniformly excellent.”

Elsewhere in the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague highlights a restaurant “where ‘nonnas’ know the wine.”

In Bloomberg Businessweek, Claire Suddath makes the case that “you should drink at work.”

In Palate Press, Patrick Frank profiles the “Original Grandpere Vineyard in the Sierra Foothills… the oldest documented Zinfandel vineyard in California” It’s 143-years old.

Wine Spectator reports that “Jordan Vineyard and Winery has sold 269 acres of land, including 110 acres of vineyards, in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley to Lytton Rancheria of California, a Native American tribe.”

Huge, huge congratulations to Hardy Wallace and Kate Graham.