Daily Wine News: Open Question

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-31-2013

Flickr, www.kvins.com.

Orange You Glad You Tried This Wine?” In Bon Appetit, Hannah Wallace writes about the increasing popularity of skin-fermented whites on restaurant wine lists.  

“Pinot is the red grape of the moment, and it’s an open question as to how long that moment will last.” In a great piece in New York Cork Report, Evan Dawson writes about the increasing popularity of Pinot Noir in the Finger Lakes, focusing on Bob Madill of Sheldrake Point Vineyards. 

“Choose your liturgy, but you need to make that leap.” At the New Zealand Pinot Noir 2013 conference, Matt Kramer wonders if atheists can make great Pinot Noir. Alder Yarrow has the rough transcript. 

Meanwhile, on the blog for J.J. Buckley, Chuck Hayward shares his impressions from NZ Pinot Noir 2013. 

“Thierry is an unpretentious but exacting man, and his wines show a finesse and precision that match these elements of his personality.” In the newsletter for Weygandt Wines, Sarah Hexter profiles Domaine Bernard et Thierry Glantenay. 

Be sure to visit Wine-Searcher regularly this week. W. Blake Gray is over there covering the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. 

Over at the Academic Wino, Becca Yeaman explores whether soil dryness is responsible for early grape ripening in Australia?

Gregory Dal Piaz wonders if Syrah’s time has finally come. 

On Wine-Searcher, Tyler Colman shares some data on wine consumption, thanks to a recent presentation by John Gillespie of Wine Opinions.

“Russia’s latest salvo in a long battle against alcohol abuse by its citizens is a sweeping ban on all alcohol advertising in media outlets. It’s likely to have an unforeseen victim: the country’s small but booming wine culture.” Wine Spectator’s Robert Camuto has the details.

An Interview With Lars Carlberg

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 01-30-2013

Lars Carlberg is regarded as one of the foremost writers and scholars on the wines of the Mosel. For several years, he has been involved with importing various producers to the United States – he established the Mosel Wine Merchant portfolio in 2005, though he now only represents – among Mosel growers – Hofgut Falkenstein under his “LCS” label.

Lars Carlberg

For those interested in learning more about Mosel Riesling, Lars also offers an insider’s view of the Mosel from his home in Trier at his website, larscarlberg.com. In his own words, he has “no interest in scoring wines or ranking sites.” Rather he offers subscribers a view into the history, vineyards, and producers of the Mosel, along with tasting notes from bottle and cask samples.

As a sample, non-subscribers can read his two-part essay on Mosel Kabinett: Unlocking the Kabinett, parts one and two.

Lars Carlberg is also one of the sponsors of Rieslingfeier, and will be pouring wines from Hofgut Falkenstein at Chambers St. Wines on Friday February 15th to kick off the Riesling celebrations in New York City. He recently chatted with Terroirist about German Riesling. Check out our interview below the fold.

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Daily Wine News: Drink Five Bottles

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-30-2013

Flickr, Leo Reynolds.

“Here’s an idea, thoroughly impracticable (not to mention completely unaffordable), but one that could remake wine writing into a far more vital exercise: drink five bottles.” From Meg Houston Maker, a wonderful essay on wine evaluation.

“The more the wines of Italy evolve, the more it seems there are people who want to control the progress.” Alfonso Cevola wonders if Italian wine has been hijacked by angry white men.

On Monday, Lily Elaine Hawk Wakawaka turned her blog over to Tyler Thomas of Donelan Winesto reflect “on faith in winemaking.” Yesterday, Thomas wrote an additional post detailing his personal winemaking philosophy.

“Someone recently said that if you mated John Belushi with Michael Broadbent, you’d kind of end up with me.” If you’re looking for some entertainment, check out Mike Bennie’s keynote address to Pinot Noir NZ 2013.

To fund social housing projects, the town of Dijon auctioned off 3,500 bottles of wine. More than $200,000 was raised.

In Napa Valley, a battle is brewing over a 1990 regulation which requires “new wineries in areas zoned for agriculture… to get at least 75% of their grapes from within the county.”

“I personally don’t find boozy Pinots and bombastic Chardonnays the most appealing wines, but many people do. Who is to say that all new world Pinot Noir should be a certain style?” In a thoughtful piece, Kyle Schlachter takes issue with Raj Parr telling W. Blake Gray that he hopes all Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producers will one day be “thinking the same way.”

“No matter how you think of American wine, this book shows you that there is more to it than you ever imagined.” Mike Veseth praises American Wine, the new book from Jancis Robinson and Linda Murphy published by University of California Press.

Wine Enthusiast summarizes the latest report from the Wine Market Council, which found that wine sales continued to grow in 2012.

Erol Senel explores whether Champagne is “truly a leading economic indicator.”

Profile: Weingut Nikolaihof Wachau

Posted by | Posted in Grape Adventures, Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-29-2013

Organic, biodynamic and other ‘natural’ wines seem to get a lot more attention these days, and yet it’s surprising how little the name “Nikolaihofof” comes up. After all, this great producer was the first winery ever certified by Demeter as biodynamic and more importantly, belongs in any conversation of the elite producers of great white wines in the world. Increasingly, it’s a producer I’m looking to buy from every vintage, regardless of its reputation.

Christine Saahs of Nikolaihof

Nikolaihof isn’t a particularly large winery, with just 20 hectares of vineyards and an annual production of only 8,300 cases — only a small part of which seems to make it to the US each year. The winemaking philosophy there is focused around a belief in organic and sustainable growing methods, great care and attention in the vineyards, and little intervention in the cellar. Christine Saahs,  the proprietor, has mentioned before her dislike of using cultured yeasts.

The wines can be challenging to taste when young. Some of my experiences with the wines soon after release have been initially disappointing; they’ve come across aromatically unyielding and dominated by their acid structure, yet even with a short time in bottle, I’ve found them much more expressive. Although Nikolaihof’s vineyards are mainly planted with Riesling and Gruner Veltliner, it’s worth keeping an eye out for its Neuburger, an unusual grape that in their hands produced a remarkable wine in 2010 (the only vintage of that which I’ve been fortunate to try).

In recent years, Nikolaihof has also been releasing small amounts of old, bottle-aged library wines (Vinothek), as well as recently bottled Rieslings that have aged in old casks for several years — its Steinrieslers. My few experiences with these wines have all been incredibly memorable: neither are cheap, yet the aged Nikolaihof’s Rieslings I’ve enjoyed are some of the most compelling wines I’ve been fortunate to enjoy.

Tasting notes on several of Nikolaihof’s wines follow below the fold:

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Daily Wine News: Metaphysical Lectures

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-29-2013

Alice Feiring gives thanks for Abe Schoener. (Abe is currently touring the country on a “Metaphysical Lecture Tour,” with stops planned in Austin, DC, New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Miami, and Napa.) 

Balance. Flickr, Spring Dew.

“The strange truth about U.S. wine consumption is that between 16 and 20 per cent of US citizens manage to consume 90% to 96% of the wine (these figures vary, depending on source).” Andrew Jefford dives into the data to search for America’s “missing wine drinkers.” 

Across the world, Jancis Robinson is witnessing a “deliberate attempt to make more refreshing, less potent wines.” The reason? “The majority of the world’s winemakers are now making wines they themselves want to drink.” 

In a different column, Jancis Robinson revisits Canada. 

Lily Elaine Hawk Wakawaka turns her blog over to Tyler Thomas, head winemaker at Donelan Wines, to reflect “on faith in winemaking.” 

“Nowadays, a wine has to do double- or triple-duty, pairing well with a myriad of things, and if there are 4 or 6 people in the party, it has to be as nimble on its feet as a Cirque du Soleil acrobat.” Steve Heimoff shows some love for sommeliers! 

In New Zealand, actor Sam Neill recently offered some “words of advice to prospective Pinot Producers.” Alder Yarrow has the details.

Lot 18 is failing and Fred Franzia is increasing the price of Two Buck Chuck. Rob McMillan sees some business lessons.

With the Super Bowl just days away, Melissa Clark offers a recipe for short rib chili nachos. Eric Asimov has some pairing ideas.

Steve and Jill Matthiasson find themselves with little choice but to slaughter a rooster (and make some chicken and dumplings). The process makes them really feel like farmers.

Daily Wine News: Hierarchy of Hipness

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-28-2013

“If there were a wine-world hierarchy of hipness, as unlikely as that concept may seem, Terry Theise would sit near the pinnacle.” Jay McInerney writes a wonderful profile of Terry Thiese. 

“She is helping raise the profile of an area that has long been overshadowed by Napa and Sonoma but that is arguably the sweetest spot for California winemaking.” Meanwhile, in Slate, Mike Steinberger writes a great profile of viticultural consultant Prudy Foxx. 

“I remain a fan, fascinated by the textures and subtle flavors that the best practitioners are able to achieve.” Eric Asimov explores the wines of Slovenia. Many are orange! 

“I can’t think of any other fine-wine region in the world that continues to mesmerize and fascinate quite like Burgundy.” Will Lyons is charmed by Burgundy’s 2011 vintage. 

“The United States is becoming a wine culture.” Patrick Comiskey explains. 

But restaurant wine sales are declining. According to a new report from Guest Metrics, “the number of wine bottles ordered in restaurants and bars dropped dramatically between 2011 and 2012 — by 13 percent — while the number of glasses of wine rose by 4 percent.” 

“From nooks, crannies, ridges and ruffles of western Sonoma county, some of the country’s best Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah wines are being eked out of chilly vineyards by passionate winemakers who are at the vanguard of where wine is going in this state.” Alder Yarrow reviews several wines from the West Sonoma Coast. 

Elsewhere, Yarrow writes about the “damn good” Chardonnay of Hawkes Bay. 

With the help of wine educator Jason Whiteside (my WSET instructor!), Joe Roberts writes a primer on wine flaws. (Warning: Site is NSFW.) 

Lettie Teague praises Vanguard Wine Bar, which just opened in New York City’s Murray Hill neighborhood.

Duck Walk Vineyards, based in New York, has ruffled the feathers of Duckhorn Vineyards.

Riesling: Not Just For Summer

Posted by | Posted in Grape Adventures | Posted on 01-25-2013

New York City sommelier and restaurateur Paul Grieco set out some time ago to bring Riesling to the attention of more consumers in the United States. Grieco’s efforts, along with various other wine bars and retailers that came along, led to the Summer of Riesling (previously highlighted here by David White) – a campaign to showcase its flexibility and quality at all ages, sweetness levels and versatility with a wide range of cuisines.

Riesling’s not just a wine for the summer though, as perfect as it may seem for a blazing July day with relatively low alcohol, often gentle or moderate sweetness and bright, refreshing acidity.

A powerful, layered dry wine such as a Brand Riesling from Zind-Humbrecht, or a Hochrain Smaragd from Franz Hirtzberger can be sensational in winter with a warm, braised dish. So can a mature, smoky and savory Auslese or Spätlese from a great Mosel or Rheingau producer with choucroute or other hearty winter fare.

Perhaps with this in mind, another celebration of Riesling has been scheduled in New York, this time during the chilly winter: Rieslingfeier.

Sponsored by various importers and retailers of Riesling (among others), Rieslingfeier is a series of dinners and tastings across the weekend of February 15th and 16th that aims to showcase the grape in Germany as a reminder why the greatest German Rieslings should stand beside Bordeaux, Burgundy or Piedmont’s finest reds as some of the most thrilling, complex and age-worthy wines in the world. Full program here.

With this in mind, there’ll be some more focus on this great grape in the next couple of weeks, leading up to Rieslingfeier. And those in New York City, or nearby, should keep time on their calendar on Feb 16th for the Rieslingcrawl – a series of free/open to the public tastings across various Riesling-championing retailers across the city, with the chance to meet various winemakers such as Klaus-Peter Keller and Florian Lauer.

Daily Wine News: Second Destination

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-25-2013

“Walla Walla may not turn into another Napa… but it does seem poised to become America’s second destination for wine tourism.” In an excerpt from Unexpected USA, a new book from Travel + Leisure, Bruce Schoenfeld explains why Walla Walla is such a gem.

Boola Boola! A team from Yale Law School crushed opponents from Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, UChicago, and UPenn to win the U.S. Intercollegiate Bordeaux tasting championship held Tuesday in New York.

“This lack of social and economic change is one of South Africa’s most intractable problems, and a source of growing frustration.” The Economist covers the efforts of vineyard workers in South Africa to “improve their poor conditions.”

Rick Bakas shares his “standouts and notes” from the recent Union Des Grand Crus de Bordeaux Tasting in San Francisco.

Ever heard of glutathione? Me neither. But, as Remy Charest explains in Palate Press, this chemical component “is remarkably powerful at fighting the effects of oxygen, in particular during the fermentation process.”

On Decanter.com, Courtney Humiston writes about Sonoma Valley’s new campaign “to differentiate the region from the larger Sonoma Coast and even larger Sonoma County AVA.” The accompanying map helps highlight why the AVAs in Sonoma are such a mess.

Restaurants and grocery stores in Oregon may soon be able to fill wine growlers (!) for consumers. Super cool.

FoxNews profiles Gary Fisch, founder and CEO Gary’s Wine & Marketplace. According to Tracy Byrnes, Fisch has “created the equivalent of a Toys R Us for us wine lovers.”

The second issue of Loam Baby: A Wine Culture Journal is out. In the Los Angeles Times, S. Irene Virbila has the details.

Mike Veseth urges his readers to attend the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento next week.

“Chablis is not Meursault”

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-24-2013

When blind tasting wine, you don’t get to pick what you’ll be drinking after the initial 2 ounces and (practice) exam portion, so forgive me if I’m not writing seasonally. I found myself halfway through a 2010 Louis Michel Chablis and thought, “this is awesome wine.” To me, deciding whether or not I enjoy a wine is as important as finding the prescribed fruits, non-fruits, and structural assets of an unknown wine.

A vintage that saw only July with temperatures above average, 2010′s crops were influenced by both wet and dry weather throughout the growing season. This meant that quality-minded producers were fervently searching and tossing aside grapes with unwanted molds or less than voluptuous ripeness. As a result, growers saw a 16% drop in production levels when compared to 2008 and 2009. And the finished wines are concentrated and suggest they should age and develop for at least a bit of time.

The mid-level offering from Louis Michel does not disappoint. Ripe golden delicious and yellow apples mingle alongside lemon oil, lime pulp and and a hint of starfruit.  The texture wide with piercing acidity and a strong yogurt tang. Louis Michel “enriches” its Chablis & Petit Chablis AOP wines for 8 month on the lees, and up to 12 for Premier & Grand Cru bottlings.

Louis Michel is a staunch proponent of stainless steel, hence the (obvious) quote from the domaine’s website in the title. For 40 years, not a drop of their Chablis has seen any oak. I like both styles, this style to accompany a raw bar, certain chicken preparations, or last night’s grilled cheese with tomato and turkey; and the oaked style with aromatic asian dishes and firmer cheeses.

This is certainly a wine to come back to in a few years, likely to outperform its “generic” appellation. So hopefully, the 16% dip in production for this great vintage won’t impede the availability here in the States.

Daily Wine News: Perennial Appeal

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-24-2013

In a thought-provoking column, Dave McIntyre wonders if wine choices are actually an illusion. 

Cheval Blanc. From Wikipedia.

Isaac James Baker, who regularly reviews wines for Terroirist, explores the wines of Hourglass. 

In Wine-Searcher, Sophie Kevany explains the “perennial appeal” of Cheval Blanc. 

In Serious Eats, Maggie Hoffman asks 16 sommeliers how to find the “best value on a wine list.” 

VinTank shares its stats on “Wine Varieties on Socia Media.” My guess is it’s more accurate than the recent report from the Wine Market Council. 

Australian biochemist Greg Jardine “believes he has created a drop so loaded with antioxidants that it could treat a range of ills.” It was derived from “a group of compounds created during the wine-making process.” 

Some big news out of Sonoma. “Gap’s Crown, a Sonoma Coast vineyard that supplies Pinot Noir to top producers like Kosta Browne, Patz & Hall and MacPhail, has been purchased.”

Tom Wark applauds the Wall Street Journal for taking the National Beer Wholesalers Association to task.  

Reuters reports: “The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) plans this summer to recommend ways that the alcoholic beverage industry can better protect underage viewers from seeing its advertisements online.” 

“In the battle for private banking clients, the Rothschild family brand is a powerful weapon.” Reuters examines “private banking’s new play.” 

In the latest episode of The Punch Down, Joe Roberts chats with Randall Grahm.

Shanken News Daily reports that brewers see rising opportunity in beer-wine hybrids.

Some wine gossip out of Canada! Taliah Aquilini, the estranged wife of Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini, wants to sell $600,000 worth of the family wine collection.