Daily Wine News: Blank Slate

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-31-2012

The Hungarian Parliament, in Budapest.

In a wonderful blog post, Alder Yarrow profiles Hungarian winemaker Zoltan Demeter, who “designed his own future on the blank slate of a new nation.”

From the New York Times: “When Is a Wine Not a Wine? When European Regulations Say It’s Not.”

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre discusses a recent tasting of three Chardonnays grown at Stoller Vineyards in the Dundee Hills region of Oregon’s Willamette Valley – and what each showed about “the hand of the winemaker.”

“Don’t look now, but California red wine may be returning to its old color. Which is red.” So proclaims Dan Berger in his latest column.

Remember those bottles of Champagne discovered in a 165+-year-old shipwreck in the Baltic Sea? Turns out they’re still quite tasty.

At a Sonoma State University conference about wine business education, attendees agreed that “those in the wine industry need a better grasp on the economics that drive sales.”

According to Blane Bachelor, Boonville is “the hidden gem of California’s wine country.”

On his blog, Jon Bonné  writes about the just released “Metro Wine Map” of California.

In Wine Spectator, Tim Fish details his 10 favorite Zinfandel values from the past year.

Deciding which emerging markets to invest in? Perhaps you should check out the wines.

The Wines of Salta

Posted by | Posted in Grape Adventures | Posted on 05-30-2012

The Embassy of Argentina.

Last week, I had the chance to step off American soil and into the Embassy of Argentina.

The embassy was hosting a seminar and tasting with five producers from the northern province of Salta. Salta, the eponymous capital of the province, is 934 miles northwest of Buenos Aires. To call it remote is an understatement.

Salta, referred to locally as “Salta la Linda,” is characterized primarily by its altitude. Some of its vines are planted higher than 9,000 ft above sea level. As it’s on the eastern side of the Andes, Salta sees almost infinite sunlight and a mere 10 inches of rainfall, per year. Salta’s wineries are predominately based in and around the city of Cafayate, the second most popular wine destination in Argentina.

The region’s wines certainly are not unknown.

Michel Rolland has his signature on the wines from San Pedro de Yacochuya, both on the bottle and in the wine.

Another winery, Bodega Tacuil, is notable because it sits high above the rest of the world’s vineyards, literally, at just about 10,000 ft. Bodega Tacuil is only accessible via a road from Cafayate that would qualify for an appearance on one of my late-night pleasures, Hell Roads. With the lack of accessibility and precipitation, the family spent 3 months digging miles-long aqueduct-like channels from the Andes to allow water to the vines. The wines from Tacuil were among the standouts of the tasting.

Most of Salta’s wines fit Argentina’s traditional mold — the reds are primarily Malbec or Malbec blends, and the whites are primarily Torrontés. There were some appearances of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Tannat as well. All wines were varietally recognizable, with lots of floral and stone fruit notes coming from the Torrontés, and big ripe plums and blackberries from the Malbec. In contrast to their Mendoza counterparts, the wines from Salta showed a refreshing amount of acidity and minerality, something I’m always looking for in Mendoza wines.

Here are a few of the more memorable wines: Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Poor Advice?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-30-2012

“We don’t know where the grape market is headed because the California wine industry operates on pretty poor advice and a lack of full, complete and unbiased facts.” So concludes Lew Perdue at Wine Industry Insight, in reaction to all the recent news on wine grape shortages in California. (H/T: Jeff Siegel.)

According to Fredric Koeppel, a wine is “vulgar” if it “sensationalizes a grape’s aspects instead of allowing them a natural and authentic expression.” Tom Wark responds with some thoughtful commentary.

Hospice du Rhone announces the end of its large, three-day event in Paso Robles to focus on smaller, more intimate tastings.

In Reuters, a great article detailing how sommeliers take the stress and guess work out of selecting wines.

In Wine Spectator, an interesting interview with New York sommelier Levi Dalton, who explains how his experience with Japanese, French, Italian and Mediterranean cuisines shaped his palate and informed his unique approach to pairings.

Could China’s Gobi desert be the perfect spot for wine production? Some Chinese vintners hope so.

Hungry for Wine profiles Hardy Wallace of Dirty and Rowdy Wine.

Robert Whitley shares his Top Ten value wines from this year’s Critics Challenge competition.

This Summer, Drink Pink!

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 05-29-2012

Uploaded to flickr by Noodle93.

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 why pink wine is the perfect accompaniment to summer — went out this morning.

This Summer, Drink Pink!

With Memorial Day behind us, summer has officially arrived. This means more time outside, and consequently, a different cocktail menu.

For lazy days by the pool or at the beach, it’s hard to beat a piña colada, margarita, or other tropical drink. When enjoying a hot dog or hamburger at a barbeque, beer is the obvious choice.

For wine drinkers, finding the perfect summertime match can be daunting. When lounging on the deck or patio, red wine can seem too heavy. And sometimes, that simple white wine is just, well, too simple.

That’s why it’s hard to beat a crisp rosé when the weather is warm. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Losing Money

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-29-2012

Shibumi Knoll Winery.

“If there is one investment that has more to do with the heart than the head, it’s vineyards.” In the New York Times, Paul Sullivan dedicates his latest “Wealth Matters” column to the lure of winemaking for those with money to burn.

Despite “rampant unemployment and the prospect of an economic collapse… the rejuvenation of the Spanish wine industry that began in earnest after Franco continues.” So contends Eric Asimov in his latest column.

In her latest Financial Times column, Jancis Robinson writes about a recent trip to Madeira – and explains why she’d bring the island’s wines to a desert island.

In the International Herald Tribune, Eric Pfanner explains why he has “no hesitation about recommending 2009s from lower down the Bordeaux hierarchy, the so-called Crus Bourgeois.”

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague explores whether women have superior palates to men. Jezebel, unsurprisingly, takes issue with the piece.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné asserts that rosé has “managed to develop into something a touch more serious” over the past few years. Elsewhere, he offers his rosé suggestions from more than 100 samples.

In Washington State, a new AVA is in the works.

In the New York Times, Howard Goldberg writes about Brooklyn Uncorked, a “sipping soiree” of the “best New York State wines.”

Dr. Vino poses an interesting question: “Why can crappy beer be so refreshing while crappy wine is always so… horrible?”

Memorial Day Open Thread

Posted by | Posted in Terroirist | Posted on 05-28-2012

Uploaded to flickr by buggolo.

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer — a time to head to beach, relax at the pool, finish up the spring yard work, and fire up the grill.

When it comes to wine, the holiday has always reminded me of Thanksgiving. If you’re having people over, your best bet is to open a variety of bottles — some reds (chill ‘em!), some whites, some rosés — and let people enjoy whatever they want.

And don’t forget the beer!

Earlier this week, Eric Asimov urged us to throw away the traditional rules of summertime drinking. In 2010, the Wine Curmudgeon marked the holiday by writing about how much he enjoys rosé. Last year, James Laube wisely suggested opening up some off-dry Riesling, as it’s “a great go-to wine for those occasions where you have a smorgasbord of food.”

So what will you be having? Let us know in the comments!

Weekly Interview: Gary Franscioni

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 05-25-2012

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Gary Franscioni, the owner of and winegrower for ROAR Wines in the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Franscioni comes from a long line of California farmers — his family has farmed for over 100 years. Gary went to Cal Poly to pursue a degree in agribusiness, and took over his family’s business upon graduation, managing over 200 acres of crops in the Salinas Valley.

In 1996, after recognizing the potential for wine grapes in the Santa Lucia Highlands, Franscioni planted a 50-acre vineyard — named after his wife, Rosella — to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah. The next year, he teamed up with well-known grape grower Gary Pisoni to plant “Garys’ Vineyard.” Both vineyards provide fruit to some of California’s top producers, like Siduri and Copain.

Farming grapes wasn’t enough for Franscioni, so in 2001, he decided to launch a wine label. The project — ROAR Wines — brought on Adam Lee of Siduri/Novy and quickly gained a stellar reputation.

Today, the wines at ROAR are crafted by Ed Kurtzman, the winemaker behind Freeman and Sandler, in consultation with Adam Lee. (Together, Kurtzman and Franscioni own August West Wine, along with grape grower Howard Graham.)

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

Daily Wine News: Aged Burgundy

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-25-2012

Uploaded to flickr by craig.camp.

In the Purely Domestic Wine Report (the new publication from Doug Wilder), an excellent piece on  old-vine vineyards in Sonoma County and the Historic Vineyard Society.

On the blog for Maison Ilan, a great post from Ray Walker on the rewards of cellaring Burgundy.

From Cloudwine, a fascinating series of short interviews with Jean-Louis Chave. (H/T: Eric Asimov.)

Looking for a history lesson on one of the most influential men in wine? Wine Spectator published an article about the “Prince of Vines” in Bordeaux. It’s a great read!

The debate over alcohol levels continues. Check out W. Blake Gray’s take on the “balance backlash.” Where do you weigh in?

In the Wall Street Journal Europe, Will Lyons profiles filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter, who just released “Mondovino: The Series,,” an extended version of the original documentary.

It’s rosé season and if you’re searching for an interesting bottle, there’s a nice review here. Take their advice and try the Arnot Roberts rosé. It’s stunning.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague highlights two New York restaurants that have “put together [wine] lists that aren’t encyclopedic and yet still manage to offer plenty of interesting choices that match the menu as well.”

Over on 1WineDude, an interesting piece on the wines of Beechworth, “which represents a side of Ozzie wine that few Americans ever get to see.”

The Associated Press tackles the challenge of “trail-ready” wine options.

Interviewing Peter Weygandt (Part 4 of 4)

Posted by | Posted in Videos | Posted on 05-24-2012

This week, I’ve been posting pieces of our four-part video interview with wine importer Peter Weygandt.

In Part 1, published Monday, we discussed how Peter fell in love with wine and why he decided to start importing and retailing. In Part 2, published yesterday, Peter explained how he finds new producers and offered his thoughts on France’s 2011 harvest. In Part 3, Peter talked about his favorite wines and offered some advice for those who are looking to get acquainted with European wines.

In our 4th and final video, Peter talks about “honesty” in wines and winemaking, as well as the issue of counterfeit wines.

Enormous thanks to Lisa Mathias, our videographer.

Daily Wine News: Happy #ChardDay!

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-24-2012

"Oh, smashing, groovy, yay capitalism!"

Photo courtesy of Purple Pages

Today is the 3rd annual global celebration of the Chardonnay grape! Grab a bottle (blanc de blancs works too!) and talk about it on your favorite social media site.

Speaking of social media, in WebProNews, Shawn Hess breaks down a recent survey on the online presence of wineries and concludes “that social media is having a dramatic impact on wine drinkers.”

But are consumers too busy to think about wine? The head of one research firm, The Source, thinks so, saying most wine is bought “quickly” and “emotionally.”

One way for time-strapped consumers to get a good deal: seek out private label wines. Bill St. John goes behind the labels of such new-age negociants as Cameron Hughes and 90+ Cellars in the Chicago Tribune.

Is “wine on tap” a more sustainable, drinkable alternative? Marlena John, a macroeconomics graduate student, argues that “[e]conomically, kegging wine makes sense.”

In Wine Spectator, Tim Fish provides an “Insider’s Guide to Sonoma,” with suggestions for dining and winery visits.

While in Sonoma, maybe you can stop in and see Terroirist favorite Jamie Kutch, the subject of this fantastic profile in Entrepreneur.

And make sure to seek out some Cobb Wines from the extreme Sonoma Coast, one of which Ed McCarthy annoints “California’s greatest Pinot Noir.”

“This old fellow with the amazing stories of royal patronage, and helping fend off scurvy on sea voyages before the use of limes, is picking up a few new tricks.” John Maher describes Fondillón, a unique sweet wine from Spain.

Can the shape of a Champagne bottle actually slow down oxygen exchange and produce a better, more age-worthy wine? Bollinger seems to think so, as it unveils a new, old (originally from 1846) bottle for its entire line.

Meanwhile, can something so unmistakably French as Champagne be the “Best of British”? Um, no. Jancis Robinson, among others, takes issue with some dodgy marketing of Lanson in the run-up to the Summer Olympics.

The wines of Southern France may not be the best of British either, but Dave McIntyre argues in the Washington Post that they are “tremendous in quality and value” and gives all of us some summer homework.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2012 Born Digital Wine Awards! According to the site, “The aim of the awards is to give value to writers, photographers and videographers who are successful at creating wine content online.” The photo essays are especially worth your time!

And bravo to the newest recipients of the Master Sommelier Diploma! Only four people made it this year, including Sabato Sagaria of Aspen’s Little Nell Hotel, Thomas Price of The Metropolitan Grill in Seattle, Dennis Kelly of the legendary French Laundry, and Roland Micu of San Francisco’s COI.

Finally, for something completely different, here is a guide to…the wine regions in “Game of Thrones”?