Delectable: A Wine App That Could Revolutionize Drinking

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 12-09-2014

delectableAs regular readers know, I write a free, twice monthly wine column that’s distributed to newspapers across the country. These columns are hosted by Grape Collective.

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).

In my latest column,I explain how Delectable could revolutionize how Americans purchase wine.

Delectable: A Wine App That Could Revolutionize Drinking

Alexander Niehenke began to appreciate wine ten years ago. But for the first four years, it was simply a beverage he enjoyed with dinner from time to time, especially when cooking at home.

But then he put his nose in a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from Justin, a winery based in Paso Robles, California. He was at a bachelor party, where few attendees were paying any attention to the wine inside their glasses. But for Niehenke, the aromas were intoxicating. Something clicked. So he promptly dove into the world of wine.

For the next five years, Niehenke’s passion for wine grew steadily and predictably. As a resident of San Francisco, weekend trips to Napa Valley and Sonoma were easy — so he started driving north regularly. He began attending tastings, reading wine publications, and even collecting.

Then he discovered Delectable, a mobile wine app. Since downloading the program last fall, Niehenke has been moving towards oenophilia at lightning speed.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

Rethinking the Tasting Note

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 11-25-2014

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

These columns are hosted by Grape Collective. 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).

In my latest column,I explain why the baffling rhetoric of tasting notes intimidates consumers and stands in the way of wine appreciation. And I urge wine enthusiasts to change the way we talk about wine.

Rethinking the Tasting Note

“This first wine is a fighter; he’s loud. The second wine is pensive; she has a dark side.” This past Saturday, as I led a seminar in Chevy Chase, Maryland, one of the participants offered these tasting notes while comparing two wines.

We were exploring Pinot Noir from California and France. I offered more typical descriptions to highlight the differences — dark, ripe cherries on the Sonoma example versus earthy, tart cherries on the one from Burgundy — and several students pushed back.

At least half the room admitted that they find tasting notes bewildering. Others acknowledged that they scoff at wine descriptors. Many confessed that such notes intimidate them.

At first, I defended the standard wine review. I collect wine, so I pay close attention to people whose palates are similar to mine, like Eric Asimov of the New York Times. And I read reviews from critics like Stephen Tanzer and Antonio Galloni of Vinous to glean information about a wine’s general flavor profile. With Chardonnay, for example, I’m interested in wines that are high in acid and offer aromas of tart citrus fruits. I’m rarely excited by a heavy Chardonnay with notes of ripe tropical fruits, butter, and oak. Basic descriptors like these help describe a wine and its style.

But I could sympathize with my students. Communicating effectively about wine shouldn’t demand an encyclopedic knowledge of rare fruits and bizarre aromas; after all, wine is just fermented grape juice. Thanks to mass-market wine magazines, however, we’ve come to expect gobbledygook.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

With Priest Ranch, Craig Becker Is Betting On Honesty

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 11-11-2014

Courtesy of Somerston Wine Co.

Courtesy of Somerston Wine Co.

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 Grape Collective. 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).

In my latest column, I profile one of Napa Valley’s most successful winegrowers, Craig Becker. His business plan for a new project is particularly noteworthy, as it relies on nothing more than good grapes and honesty!

With Priest Ranch, Craig Becker Is Betting On Honesty

“No one needs a new wine brand,” explained Craig Becker, a veteran Napa Valley winegrower, over breakfast one recent morning. We were discussing the market for expensive Cabernet Sauvignon.

Even though Napa Valley produces less wine than most people realize — it accounts for just four percent of California’s yield — the region produces plenty of high-end offerings. Napa Valley is home to more than 500 wineries, and the average price for a bottle of “Napa Cab” shipped directly to consumers exceeds $80. Yet Becker is betting that one of his latest projects, Priest Ranch, will thrive.

His blueprint is simple: it relies on good grapes and honesty. Considering Becker’s track record, his plan will almost certainly succeed.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

A Napa Valley Tech Entrepreneur Is Revolutionizing Customer Service

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 10-28-2014

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

These columns are hosted by Grape Collective. 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).

In my latest column, I profile Paul Mabray, who is revolutionizing customer service for wineries across the world.

A Napa Valley Tech Entrepreneur Is Revolutionizing Customer Service

Earlier this year, the number of wineries in the United States passed 8,000. When the news hit, Napa Valley tech entrepreneur Paul Mabray took to Facebook to remind his followers that “in a world of infinite wine choices, the only differentiator is service.”

This quote has long been Mabray’s mantra. And it’s the guiding philosophy behind VinTank, the company he launched in 2009.

“If your phone rings, you answer. If someone sends you an email, you reply. But with social media, there’s so much noise that some people simply ignore it,” Mabray explained one recent afternoon in Yountville, California.

For Mabray, this is crazy. Every communication deserves a response. So together with programming wizard James Jory, he designed a platform to “hear” every conversation about wine on social media, and for wineries to “listen” to conversations about their brands.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

New Zealand: More Than Hobbits and Sauvignon Blanc

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 10-14-2014

Credit: Carrick Wines.

Credit: Carrick Wines.

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 Grape Collective. 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).

In my latest column, I contend that New Zealand offers much more than just Sauvignon Blanc.

New Zealand: More Than Hobbits and Sauvignon Blanc

Americans are fascinated by New Zealand. Thanks to “The Lord of the Rings” — and the tourism board’s “100% Pure New Zealand” marketing campaign — we envision stunning landscapes when we think of the island nation. We picture a playground for adventure, with endless options for hiking, bungee jumping, whale watching, and the like.

When it comes to wine, though, Americans know very little about New Zealand.

If anything, we simply think of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Because of brands like Oyster Bay and Kim Crawford, most wine enthusiasts are familiar with the nation’s signature style, marked by explosive aromas of fresh-cut grass and bracing acidity. Indeed, that single variety accounts for 84.5 percent of the nation’s wine exports. And each year, New Zealand ships nearly 50 million bottles of Sauvignon Blanc to the United States.

Eric Platt, the U.S. representative for Pacific Prime Wines, an import company backed by four, family-owned New Zealand wine producers, is on a mission to show that New Zealand’s offerings are actually quite diverse.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

America’s Thirst for Wine Insatiable, Despite Rise of Cocktails, Craft Beer

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 09-30-2014

From wikipedia.

From wikipedia.

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 Grape Collective. 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).

In my latest column, I explain why the wine industry has nothing to fear from cocktails and craft beer.

America’s Thirst for Wine Insatiable, Despite Rise of Cocktails, Craft Beer

Wine industry executives are worried about the growing interest in craft beer and spirits from America’s 20- and 30-somethings. That’s one takeaway from a fascinating new survey of the wine industry’s top executives by Robert Smiley, dean and professor emeritus at the University of California Davis Graduate School of Management.

Smiley’s survey is conducted each year and always generates headlines, since Smiley is able to connect with some of wine’s heaviest hitters. This year, for instance, senior executives at E&J Gallo, The Wine Group, and Constellation Brands participated. The nation’s three largest wine companies, these firms account for nearly half the wine sold in the United States.

Worrying about America’s 75 million millennials makes sense. But fearing millennials’ interest in craft beer and spirits is misguided. America’s thirst for wine appears insatiable.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

Life Is Richer With Wine: The Magical Connections We Make

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 09-16-2014

Smiles all around from current and former Terroirist contributors. (Left to right: Isaac James Baker, David White, Scott Claffee, Sarah Hexter.)

Smiles all around from current and former Terroirist contributors. (Left to right: Isaac James Baker, David White, Scott Claffee, Sarah Hexter.)

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 Grape Collective. 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).

In my latest column, by sharing stories from a number of wine enthusiasts, I explain why life is richer with wine.

Life Is Richer With Wine: The Magical Connections We Make

Wine demands to be shared. Enjoying a glass alone is fine, of course. But there’s an emotional component to wine appreciation. That’s a big reason why enjoying a bottle with friends is always more meaningful than drinking alone.

Chicago wine enthusiast Mark Boldizsar recognizes that few experiences are quite as enchanting as sharing a special wine. So last week, he took to the world’s most active wine discussion board, Wine Berserkers, to detail his journey of wine discovery — and ask fellow oenophiles about the doors that have opened thanks to wine.

“As much as I enjoy drinking nice wine, I have to admit it’s only a small part of a larger picture,” Boldizsar wrote. “From my personal experiences, my fondest wine-related memories are of sharing my wines in the good company of other wine lovers.

“In regards to my personal story, I was able to reconnect with a good childhood friend on the basis of wine. Over the past 4 years, we have been fortunate enough to meet up several hundred times (at least once a week). The wine is all well and good, but it’s the side stories, wine talk, and laughter that makes it so enjoyable.”

Shortly after his post went up, other enthusiasts shared their stories.

Many credited wine for their strongest friendships. For instance, California resident Leon Markham thanked wine for introducing him to “some of the smartest, kindest people I know.” Others praised wine for enhancing food and travel.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

After Shock: A Community Rallies in Napa Valley

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 09-02-2014

Credit: Vintner's Collective .

Credit: Vintner’s Collective .

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 Grape Collective. 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).

In my latest column, I share post-earthquake stories from Napa Valley. While people associate the community with expensive wines and Michelin-starred restaurants, Napa is a working-class community at heart. And across the Valley, people rallied to help those in need.

After Shock: A Community Rallies in Napa Valley

John Trinidad, a wine industry attorney who lives on Main Street in Napa, was cleaning up from a party when his home started shaking.

“At first, I thought it was a little roller,” he explained. “But then, it got pretty violent, with full-on shaking. I had already braced myself, so just kind of rode it out — but heard a lot of things crashing around me. After the shaking stopped, I looked around and yep, a lot had come out of the cupboard — broken glass, broken plates, lots of things on the ground.”

The 6.0 magnitude earthquake that struck southern Napa County on August 24 was the strongest California had experienced in 25 years.

The media quickly turned its attention to wine — and the economic impact of the quake. Although Napa Valley accounts for less than 4 percent of America’s total wine production, it’s the country’s best-known wine region. And it’s a big moneymaker. The region’s wine industry has an economic impact of $50 billion annually.

At its heart, though, Napa Valley is a working-class, farming community. And in the wake of the earthquake, brand Napa Valley — $300 “cult” Cabernets, Michelin-starred restaurants, and the like — was overshadowed by kinship and kindness.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

Anselme Selosse’s Terroirist Manifesto

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 08-19-2014

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

These columns are hosted by Grape Collective. 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).

In my latest column, I profile Anselme Selosse, the Champagne producer with a cult-like following.

The Terroirist Manifesto of Anselme Selosse

“Nature is larger and bigger than all of us. It’s crazy to think that man can dominate nature.”

Anselme Selosse issued this profound statement while explaining his winemaking philosophy one recent morning at his small property in Avize, a village in Champagne’s Côte des Blancs.

“Wines must show the characteristics of the place,” he continued. “Illuminating the vineyard is my obsession.”

For Selosse, wine has a higher purpose. A wine must translate place, clearly expressing the characteristics of the soils and climate in which it’s grown.

This concept — the notion of terroir — is hardly unique. Winemakers across the world wax poetically about how “wine is made in the vineyard.” When Selosse took over his father’s winery in 1974, however, such talking points weren’t yet clichéd. In Champagne, especially, few producers cared about such things.

There were exceptions, of course. But most of the large producers that dominated the region sought simply to deliver a consistent product each year. They purchased grapes from thousands of growers across Champagne and paid by the ton. So growers sought to “dominate nature,” maximizing yields by utilizing fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides.

The results were predictably atrocious, but it didn’t matter. For most producers and virtually every consumer, Champagne wasn’t about wine; it was about luxury.

So Selosse’s philosophy wasn’t just unusual, it was downright revolutionary.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

Maintaining Tradition in Champagne

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 08-05-2014

Didier Gimonnet.

Didier Gimonnet.

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 Grape Collective.

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).

In my latest column, I profile Didier Gimonnet — and detail his beef with Champagne’s “new wave” of growers.

Didier Gimonnet: Maintaining Tradition in Champagne

“Gimmonet is not trendy,” explained Didier Gimonnet, a third-generation vigneron in Champagne. “It’s unfashionable.”

During a recent visit to Gimonnet’s estate, the two of us were chatting about the growing popularity of Champagne’s “new wave” producers. While those who are “moving in the direction of single expressions”—single-vineyard wines from a single vintage—are garnering lots of praise from writers and sommeliers, Gimonnet believes such wines are “always less complex, less interesting, and less capable of aging.”

Fighting words. But if any winemaker has the credentials to make such an argument, it’s Didier Gimonnet.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!