Daily Wine News: New Year’s Eve

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-31-2012

Stephen Tanzer.

“As the Parker era draws to a close, the vinous zeitgeist seems to have caught up with Mr. Tanzer, whose palate favors finesse over power.” In the Wall Street Journal, Jay McInerney writes a wonderful profile of Stephen Tanzer, “who played Phil Mickelson to Parker’s Tiger Woods.”

Jon Bonné names his “10 most memorable wines of 2012.”

In Eater, Talia Baiocchi asks Jon Bonné, Ray Isle, Alice Feiring, Ron Washam, Katherine Cole, Jordan Mackay, Maggie Hoffman, Levi Dalton, Richard Betts, Brooklynguy, and Tyler Colman about “What’s Hot and What’s Over.”

In Austria, Dave McIntyre learns that the nation’s wine is “more diverse than you think.”

Jonathan Cristaldi names ten sparkling wines that rappers should be drinking, “with picks tailored for Jay-Z, Kanye, and more.”

On Playboy.com, Joe Roberts writes a Champagne primer.

In the Daily Beast, Winston Ross writes “An Idiot’s Guide to New Year’s Wine.”

In the Napa Valley Register, Paul Franson summarizes the ten biggest business wine stories of the year. (In Napa, at least.)

Panos Kakaviatos writes about a wonderful tasting of 1998 wines from across France. (Yes, I attended.)

Weekly Interview: Antonio Fattori

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 12-28-2012

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Antonio Fattori, the owner and winemaker of Fattori Wines in northern Italy.

Fattori is a third-generation winemaker. The family began making wine at the beginning of the 20th century, when Antonio’s grandfather planted 17 acres of vines in Veneto and started producing and selling wines locally. His son officially took over in 1970, expanding the operation by purchasing more vineyards and making more wines.

In 1979, Antonio — who had studied winemaking at both the University of Enology in Conegliano and the University of Dijon — took the helm. Today, Antonio owns 161 acres of vineyards, and they’re all located within three miles of the winery.

Check out our interview with Antonio below the fold! Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Tough Job

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-28-2012

“Tasting 1982 Pauillac is a tough job, but someone has to do it and I was ready for the task at hand. “ Jeff Leve inflicts jealousy.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Matt Villano profiles poker pro Joe Sebok, who recently decided to shift his focus to the wine industry.

In Wine-Searcher, D.L. Gissen reviews A Year in Burgundy,” the new documentary which “follows seven winemakers through four seasons of the 2011 vintage.”

“Just like an adolescent, the torrontes grape is unpredictable, idiosyncratic, and has yet to settle on a permanent style.” Elsewhere in Wine-Searcher, Amanda Barnes wonders if Argentine winemakers can turn the variety into a star.

New York City real estate investor Tod Waterman has filed a lawsuit against WineCare Storage, “claiming the company has refused to give him access to his $300,000 wine collection after the warehouse’s temperature-controlled cellars were flooded during Superstorm Sandy.”

“The wines of Jean-Louis Vergnon showcase the qualities Peter Weygandt values most: small, painstaking, low-intervention production; and idiosyncratic expression of terroir; and high-quality winemaking at fair prices.” Sarah Hexter writes about the Champagne of Jean-Louis Vergnon.

For readers who “drink wine but don’t obsess on it,” W. Blake Gray offers ”a very simple guide to buying sparkling wine you’ll actually enjoy.”

The New York Cork Report catches up with Alicia Valle, the in-house epicurean at Lieb Family Cellars.

The Champagnes of Marie-Noelle Ledru

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-27-2012

It’s the season for bubbles (though in fairness, is there such a thing as a bad time for Champagne?), and I’ve been able to enjoy a few good Champagnes in recent weeks.

At the start of this year, I had been keen on exploring Champagne in more depth beyond just the couple of big houses that I knew well, and was able to familiarize myself with a number of small growers making some incredible wines that, for me, were as compelling as some of the best wines I’ve had from the likes of Taittinger and Krug.

Ledru's Cuvee du Goulte

One producer that has consistently wowed me time and time again is Marie-Noelle Ledru. Ledru is a small grower based in Ambonnay, whose land is split between there and Bouzy.

I’ve had access to a few of her different bottlings imported by Bonhomie Wine on the east coast, which I’ve purchased from Chambers St. Wines and Crush Wines and Spirits in New York. At all price points and styles, the wines are stunning. Marie-Noelle Ledru’s wines aren’t particularly expensive considering their quality, and most of her wines retail in the $50-70 price range.

I’ve found these wines to be the equal of any top grower such as Cédric Bouchard or Selosse, with a remarkable sense of purity and focus to the flavors, fantastic depth and amazing balance.

Tasting notes on a few of her wines follow below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Modest Proposals

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-27-2012

From Wikipedia.

With 2013 just around the corner, Robert Whitley offers “a few modest proposals for the wine industry.”

In the Chicago Tribune, Bill St. Johns explains how wine has served as link between the secular and sacred throughout history.

W. Blake Gray catches Natalie MacLean in a lie.

In Niagara Falls, an all-New York wine boutique has opened. In New York Cork Report, Bryan Calandrelli has the details. Could a similar store in Virginia be far behind?

“For a wine to be a slow wine, it doesn’t just transmit taste. It must also transmit values.” In the Washington Post, Jason Wilson writes about the 2013 guide from Slow Wine. Elsewhere in the Post, Wilson offers some slow wine recommendations.

In Palate Press, Mary Cressler explains why it’s all about the barrels in Cognac.

“What we can say for sure about St. Vincent… is that you will be stunningly well advised on what to drink.” Jon Bonné writes a great review of San Francisco gastropub St. Vincent.

In the Sacramento Bee, Mike Dunne profiles the wines of Mumm Napa.

German Riesling Adventure: Northern Saar – Hofgut Falkenstein

Posted by | Posted in Grape Adventures, Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-26-2012

"Winzer Weber"

This entry is part of my German Riesling Adventure, a weeklong trip to wine country last August. To read the rest of the posts, including the introduction, click here.

After our visit to Geltz-Zilliken, where we also tasted the wines of Peter Lauer as part of the SaarRieslingSommer festival, we drove to the northern Saar for an appointment at Hofgut Falkenstein.

Hofgut Falkenstein is a relatively young (for Germany) winery, having existed around 30 years, yet everything about the place is traditional and makes it seem like it’s been around forever. The vines are old (over 70% are 30+ years old, the oldest are between 60 and 80). The grapes are harvested by hand and crushed in whole clusters with an old spindle press. The wines are fermented with natural yeast and aged in ancient 1000-liter oak casks before being bottled and labeled by hand. Like I said, old school.

Erich Weber, the winemaker and proprietor, is himself something of a throwback. He calls himself “Winzer Weber,” which means wine grower, as he prefers to let the land and the grapes do most of the work. Lars Carlberg describes Erich as “one of the most genuine and modest growers in the region.” Hofgut Falkenstein is a labor of love, not a financial investment. As Erich told me during our visit, “Too much money is something not so good.”

We tasted through the lineup of 2011 wines with Erich and his son, Johannes, one of three brothers, but the one most likely to take over from his father some day. The curly-haired Johannes attends Geisenheim, the famous winemaking school I mentioned in my introduction, and is every bit as passionate about the land and the wine as his dad. If I had to guess, we were meeting with another future “Winzer Weber.”

Hofgut Falkenstein grows a bit of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir, but as this was a Riesling adventure, that’s what we stuck with. The wines overall are of tremendous quality. Pure and precise, subtly sweet, and refreshing. I had no history with the estate before this visit, so I cannot compare the 2011 lineup to prior vintages, but I can say that we enjoyed every wine we tasted. I should add here that this tasting was conducted in perhaps the most serene setting of our entire trip. We gathered with the Webers around a picnic table, surrounded by brick-walled gardens, overlooking steep, slate vineyards beckoning down towards the village below. It was a relaxed tasting, punctuated by wide grins and hearty laughs; the epitome of how good wine and good people can elevate an experience into something magical. Join me below for my impressions of the wines… Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Indigenous Varieties

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-26-2012

“If there is anything that wine enthusiasts have committed to their memories, it’s that chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier… are the three grapes used to make Champagne. [But] seven grapes are legally allowed to be used in the production of Champagne.” From Chuck Hayward of J.J. Buckley, a fascinating piece on Champagne’s Indigenous Varieties.

“Mr. Cullen’s cardinal rule of Costco wine shopping? ‘If you see it—buy it.’” Lettie Teague goes shopping for wine at Costco.

In a tasting of Napa Zinfandels from 2010, Jon Bonné finds that they “offer a dust-edged nuance that shows the variety’s classiest side, and the best of our tasting absolutely echoed those characteristics.”

Alder Yarrow profiles Turkish vintner Selim Zafer Ellialti.

In the New York Times, advertising reporter Elizabeth Olson writes about the efforts of Bonfire Wines to reach younger wine drinkers.

Bloomberg reports: “French wine prices are climbing, led by a jump in the cost of whites since August, after vintners in the country had their lowest production in more than 40 years.”

Dan Berger is sick of wine critics tasting wines before they’re ready.

In honor of Christmas, Joe Roberts pleas for his readers to “explore (and introduce others to) the near infinite expanse of the wine world.”

Christmas Open Thread

Posted by | Posted in Terroirist | Posted on 12-25-2012

After the big night, Santa typically unwinds with chicken wings & Jack.

Merry Christmas to all our readers!

To me, Christmas has always seemed a bit less confusing than other holidays for the at-home sommelier. Unlike Thanksgiving, where you sit down to ten courses and 10,000 calories at once, it’s a great day to spread the drinking around — Champagne with brunch, maybe a nice white wine or light red in the afternoon, and then a couple of big reds with dinner.

So what’s on your holiday menu this year? Let us know in the comments!

Everything Sparkles on New Year’s

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 12-24-2012

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

These columns are hosted by Palate Press: The Online Wine Magazine. 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 offers a quick primer on sparkling wines, went out this morning.

Everything Sparkles on New Year’s

Champagne sales pop every December as party hosts stock up for New Year’s.

This isn’t surprising, of course. There’s nothing like popping the cork on a bottle of bubbly when the clock strikes midnight.

As the big night approaches, it’s worth learning the differences between sparkling wines to figure out which ones you’re going to purchase to ring in 2013.

Check out the rest of the piece on Palate Press: The Online Wine Magazine.

Daily Wine News: Secret Language

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-24-2012

“In the last few years… I’ve noticed some Zinfandel producers gravitating to a more restrained style, lighter in body and lower in alcohol.” In the New York Times, Eric Asimov convenes the wine panel to taste 20 bottles of Zinfandel, all clocking in at under 15 percent alcohol.

From Wikipedia.

Elsewhere in the New York Times, an op-chart detailing “the secret language of some of New York’s finest ‘Somms.’”

Decanter.com reports: “Soo Hoo Khoon Peng, the Singapore-based Malaysian businessman reported to have bought Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, still has close ties with the fine wine retailer Hermitage Wine.”

This story is one reason why, according to Adler Yarrow, December has been a soap opera in the wine industry.

“For the confused buyer faced with a wall of wine,” Will Lyons offers ”a few last-minute buying tips that will relieve your angst.”

In the International Herald Tribune, Eric Pfanner decodes the role of sugar in Champagne production.

Dr. Vino praises ”a pair standout Champagnes” from Jacquesson.

In the Press Democrat, Virginie Boone highlights some Sonoma County wineries that she thinks “will be doing great things in 2013.”

Fredric Koeppel explores terroir by tasting Sojourn Cellar’s Pinot Noirs.

In the Press Democrat, Cathy Bussewitz writes about the rising popularity of concrete wine tanks.

In 2012, Sotheby’s global wine auction sales dropped a whopping 25 percent.

Erol Senel explains how the “momentum” of Robert Mondavi and the judgement of Paris “created led to the US Wine Industry as we largely know it today.”

Dave McIntyre recently headed to Austria, where he “visited nearly 20 wineries in five whirlwind days.” So keep your eyes on his blog for the next few weeks!