Daily Wine News: Space Launch

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-14-2014

From Philip Togni Vineyards.

From Philip Togni Vineyards.

“Here is a man who was planting Cabernet in Napa Valley before the first American was launched into space.” In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné profiles Philip Togni.

Lettie Teague’s “favorite spring wine is… refreshing and crisp and even pairs well with so-called ‘difficult’ foods.” But unfortunately, “[Silvaner] remains woefully obscure.”

In a speech at UC Davis, Merry Edwards recently reflected upon her “40-year journey” in the wine industry. Wines & Vines has the details.

In Florida, liquor wholesalers are indistinguishable from the mafia.

According to Michel Rolland, 2011 in Bordeaux is “not a great vintage but a vintage that will give pleasure.”

Elsewhere in Wine-Searcher, Jane Anson looks at Bordeaux’s worst vintages.

In the Chicago Tribune, Bill Daley profiles “Brother Timothy Diener, [who] helped transform the wine industry of California’s Napa Valley… into a global player.”

Bill Ward checks in with some acquaintances in the Willamette Valley for their take Katherine Cole’s recent piece on Oregon’s “Grand Cru” vineyards.

In Wine Enthusiast, Mike Dawson chats with Scribe Winery’s Andrew Mariani “about creating leagues of loyal fans.”

“Ten years ago, you wouldn’t have seen a Virginia wine on any high-brow restaurant wine list north of the Mason-Dixon. Now, it’s another story.” In Yahoo! Food, Julia Bainbridge explores Virginia wine.

Bloomberg West chats with Alex Fishman, the CEO of Delectable.


Six Vintages of Trivento’s Eolo Malbec

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-11-2014

Victoria Prandina. Credit: Trivento.

Victoria Prandina. Credit: Trivento.

“Winemaking is an art not limited by age or gender,” says Victoria Prandina. As a young woman charged with crafting an old vine, single-vineyard Malbec, she proves this maxim.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Prandina, who makes Trivento’s “Eolo” Malbec in Argentina’s Mendoza region. She’s a dynamic person and winemaker, and her Malbecs are as structured and deep as they are refined and elegant.

We talked a lot about the vineyard, which sits at 3,200 feet, perched just 30 feet above the Mendoza River in the Lujan de Cuyo appellation. The 49-acre vineyard was planted to Malbec in 1912, but just 9 acres of prime plots are used for the Eolo bottling.

The wine is aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, around 70% of which are new. The oak may help integrate the tannins and smooth the wine out, but I was pleased at the lack of overt or heavy-handed flavor elements from the new oak.

Trivento is owned by Chilean powerhouse Concha y Toro, and Eolo generally retails for around $70. 2005 was the inaugural vintage of Eolo, and 2010 is the current release, so this vertical captured them all. I have to say, I was impressed with these wines. All of them were compelling, evolving and worthy of contemplation and cellar time.

I met Prandina and her colleague, marketing manager Silvina Barros, at Ripple in DC’s Cleveland Park, one of my favorite spots for any wine dinner. My notes from the comparative tasting are below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Connoisseur’s Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-11-2014

41-sommelier“Sometimes diners want to learn, and sometimes they just want a burger and a glass of Silver Oak. Know what? They’re paying the check.” In Wine Spectator, Mitch Frank writes about the “sommelier’s dilemma.”

“We’re drinking Pinot Noir. Not from Burgundy or California but from the Loire Valley, from the fertile hills of Sancerre.” In the Wall Street Journal, Will Lyons writes about “Sancerre Rouge: The Connoisseur’s Wine.”

According to Tyler Colman, Delectable is “the only wine app you need.”

“Fred Swan knew it was time to explore a new career path when even his tech business colleagues began asking, ‘When are you going to quit and get into the wine business?’” In the San Jose Mercury News, Jessica Yadegaran profiles Fred Swan.

“The method is ancient and simple. It just requires a lot of man-hours.” In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre writes about the “technique of making wine from dried grapes.”

“There is still room for Italian wines in the Victory Garden. But you’ll need to bring your shovel and dig in.” Alfonso Cevola explains how to sell Italian wine in America.

In three pieces, Panos Kakaviatos reports from Bordeaux. (Whites over red; Left Bank; Right Bank and bargains.)

“Change is what’s important. Even if it comes one diaper at a time.” Mike Veseth highlightsThe Democracy Series,” a new collection of short videos released by Wines of South Africa.

In Wine-Searcher, Rebecca Gibb reviews “Native Wine Grapes of Italy,” the new reference book from Rome-based winewriter Ian D’Agata.

In New Orleans, wine ice cream is still illegal.

Daily Wine News: Greatest Composers

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-10-2014

Flickr, Norman27.

Flickr, Norman27.

“There’s gotta be a little bit of ego in there — if you decide to write a string quartet as a composer, you’re instantly up against the greatest composers who have ever written — Beethoven.” Foie Gras and Funnel Cakes sits down with Alan Baker of Cartograph Wines.

“Marijuana still grows in the region, but now all the cool kids are talking grapes, not grass.” In Mendocino, according to Katie Kelly Bell, the conversation has shifted “from pot to Pinot.”

“It’s a myth to think that there is some objective measure of wine quality that professional critics can tap into. Yet many critics choose to project this image of wine criticism to their readers.” Jamie Goode wonders if critics should allow personal style preferences to influence their work.

“Kapcsándy has lived a colorful life, but the only sign at the gate of his crowning achievement reads: ‘This is not Goosecross Cellars.’” In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray profiles Lou Kapcsándy.

According to Ray Isle, Portugal is the “most exciting wine country in the world that the U.S. doesn’t know enough about.”

In the Wall Street Journal Asia, Ross Kelly shares some details on Michael Clarke’s plan to turn Treasury Wine CEO around.

In Grubstreet, Alan Sytsma goes behind the scenes at Eleven Madison Park, where “elite, old-school service” has been modernized.

In Wine Spectator, Harvey Steiman tastes the latest vintages at Torbreck and then visits its ousted founder.

Daily Wine News: Fox Hunt

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-09-2014

In Punch, Lora Smith heads to Blackberry Farm to examine the tradition of drinking Port before a fox hunt.

Flickr, the Italian voice

Flickr, the Italian voice

In Burgundy, biodynamic wine grower Emmanuel Giboulot was fined $687 for not spraying his vines against disease. He was facing up to six months in prison and a $41,200.

 In Wine-Searcher, Katherine Cole investigates which Oregon vineyards might achieve a grand cru-like status one day.

“This Lambrusco is not the sweet red fizz that became Italy’s most exported wine in the decades after the 1970s. It’s the good stuff: dry, not-quite-sparkling, easy-drinking wine crafted from select grapes and offered at reasonable prices.” In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto explores the Lambrusco resurgence.

“Terroir is a useful and meaningful idea. Let’s just try to be clear about what we intend to say when we wield it.” Elsewhere in Wine Spectator, Harvey Steiman attempts to define terroir.

In Crimea, reports Sarah Begley in Time, “wineries are optimistic that the change in political leadership will help their businesses.”

Lars Carlberg explores why “screw caps become so popular on the Mosel.”

In Palate Press, David Honig visits Israel, where “a burgeoning wine travel industry is growing around the new fine wine industry.”

Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka tastes Grenache with the Rhone Rangers.

“Food at the Oakland Coliseum is dreadful, and sewage overflows into the A’s locker room when it rains… But somebody has decided to take wine seriously.” W. Blake Gray has the details.

Cyril Penn digs into the data to investigate whether craft beers are taking a share from wine.

Daily Wine News: Formative Drinking

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-08-2014

From Wikipedia.

From Wikipedia.

“Because Bordeaux and I go back decades, to my earliest years of formative wine drinking, opening a bottle now is like embracing a dear old friend.” Eric Asimov discusses the first installment of Wine School and issues instructions for his second class.

“Within the last decade… the California wine industry has experienced a revolution. A new generation is making wines that are lower in alcohol, with less emphasis on ripe fruit and more focus on a sense of place. Buyers in New York have begun to take notice.” In Wine & Spirits, Stephanie Johnson reports on California’s “New Wave.”

In Grape Collective, Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly chats with Jameson Fink “about the meaning of “folly,’ Wes Anderson’s bathroom, and where to eat and drink in Seattle.”

“Alley discovered wine while reciting Elizabethan poetry on the Bay Area Renaissance Fair circuit (yes, really) in the early 1980s.” In the San Jose Mercury News, Jessica Yadegaran profiles Gwendolyn Alley.

“The Germans invented Riesling, so you know it’s going to try over and over again to conquer the wine world.” Ron Washam explains how to choose a white wine.

Terry Theise reports on Germany’s 2013 vintage.

Over at Great Sommeliers, Abe Schoener joins Joe Campanale to discuss the various perspectives of skin-fermented white wines.

In the Washington Wine Report, Sean Sullivan contemplates the future of Washington’s Rhone movement.

“You can’t keep shipping the same thing because it wont give them the same zing.” Rob McMillan takes a fascinating look at “The Most Important Factor In Wine Club Success.”

In Vino Veritas: A St. John’s Fundraiser

Posted by | Posted in Wine Events | Posted on 04-07-2014

St. John's College.

St. John’s College.

St. John’s College in Annapolis is best known for its commitment to the “great books” curriculum. But it should also be known for its impact on America’s wine industry.

Warren Winiarski, who played a pivotal role in the transformation of American wine, is an alumnus. Last summer, Jon Bonné credited Winiarski for birthing “an informal St. John’s mafia” in Napa, noting that the legendary vintner hired Abe Schoener and played a huge role in convincing Alex Kongsgaard to attend the school.

In 2011, The Friends of St. John’s College and Annapolis’ Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits launched a wine-centered fundraiser — In Vino Veritas — to raise scholarship money for the school. This year’s event takes place on Friday, April 25 and Saturday, April 26.

On Friday night, I’ll be moderating a discussion and tasting with an all-star lineup of SJ alumni. It features Abe Schoener of The Scholium Project; Christina Turley of Turley Wine Cellars; Zach Rasmuson of Goldeneye; August Deimel of Keuka Spring Vineyards; Paul Speck of Henry of Pelham; and Rory Williams of Calder Wine Company.

We’ll be exploring the concept of “honesty” in wine in seminar entitled “Transparency, Truth, and Terroir.” It should be a blast, so if you’re looking for a fun weekend in Annapolis, please join!

Daily Wine News: Con & Sham

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-07-2014

In Harper’s, “two of wine’s most-respected wine critics have called for urgent reform of Bordeaux’s en primeur system, describing it, in turn, as a ‘con’ a ‘sham’ and a system that the trade and investors have ‘lost faith in.’”

Lafite Rothschild. Flickr, BillBl.

Lafite Rothschild. Flickr, BillBl.

In case “you’ve forgotten what Bordeaux brings to the table,” Jon Bonné offers “a refresher course.”

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague visits “eight wine shops in three cities, seeking recommendations for any fabulous wine — red or white — under $30.”

“I’m not surprised that the labels are so familiar… but I never expected that the prices for the top-selling wines would be so high.” S. Irene Virbila comments on Wine & Spirits’ latest list of the top-selling restaurant wines.

“In the early years of the boom, buyers, still unsure of themselves, focused on just a few dozen notable names… Now buyers have spread their wings and are purchasing more types of wines, and from more places, than they did a few years ago.” In Asia, wine consumers are gaining confidence.

“There is still a great deal of very ordinary, often faulty, sometimes extremely questionable liquid on sale in China labeled as Chinese wine.” But today, according to Jancis Robinson, “the number of good Chinese wines is definitely rising fast.

In the Los Angeles Times, Jerry Hirsch profiles Kosher winemaker Gabriel Weiss, co-owner of Shirah Wine Co. in Santa Barbara County.

In Punch, Kenzi Wilbur digs into “The Twisted History of Jungle Juice.”

“Meals on wheels has suddenly taken on a new meaning.” In the Observer, Jay Rayner writes about the decision by The Fat Duck, Noma, and other high-end restaurants to completely relocate for short periods.

Wine Reviews: American Odds & Ends

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-05-2014

I don’t know how else to describe them.

These odds and ends were mixed into blind-tasted samples of California Cabernets and Chardonnays, Oregon Pinot Noirs, South African wines, stuff from everywhere. The dry wines were tasted blind, as they were mixed in with other regions, but I tasted the dessert wines sighted.

All wines were received as trade samples.

Review: 2012 Vie Winery “Belle-Amie” RoséCalifornia, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $18
Looks like the color of a cherry Jolly Rancher. A kick of pepper is the first thing I notice on the nose, followed up by roses, watermelon and wild strawberries. The palate displays a big, creamy feel along with persistent acid. The watermelon and strawberry fruit tastes fresh and ripe, there’s also this lime and grapefruit aspect that keeps it snappy. The white pepper and herbal undertones work great. Full, complex, but the acid makes it food-friendly. An impressive rosé blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache and Syrah. (89 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Macari Chardonnay Early WineNew York, Long Island, North Fork
SRP: $17
Faint bubbles, straw colored. Aromas of white peach, bright honeysuckle, lime zest, crushed rocks and sea shells. Medium-bodied with tingling acid on the palate. Crisp green pears and apples, sweet white peach, tangy, minerals. Very bright and steely, but there are also some honey and sweet floral notes. Really tasty stuff. Ideal for deli sandwiches, salads and seafood. They call it an early wine because it was harvested September 7, bottled after a brief fermentation on October 26, and released a few days later. An exciting wine. (89 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Nico Wines BarberaCalifornia
SRP: $30
Medium ruby color. Smells of ripe cherries, roses and red licorice candy. Medium bodied with medium acid and soft tannins. Juicy with cherries and sweet currant jam flavors, backed up by some earth and vanilla bean. A bit candied, but a fun, pleasant wine for sure. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2011 Stinson Vineyards MeritageVirginia
SRP: $25
Smells soft and sweet, lots of fresh blackberries and plums, mixed in with some mocha and toast. Medium tannins on the palate, some crisp acid, supporting fresh black cherry and plum fruit. I get some hazelnut and chestnut flavor, as well as some mocha. The combination of nutty and bright fruit flavors makes this a unique and tasty wine. A blend of 35% Merlot, 25% Petite Verdot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2010 Macari “Bergen Road”New York, Long Island, North Fork
SRP: $46
On the nose, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, all of it fresh and ripe. Silky and velvety, blueberry and black cherries, some nice acid adds tanginess, full and pure, some dark chocolate, earth, bell pepper and herbal elements, even some rocky-granite notes. Complex and long on the finish. Really delicious stuff, not overdone or bothersome. Tasted blind, I thought I was tasted an upper tier Washington State Bordeaux blend. But, no, this is an impressive Long Island blend of 56% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec and 2% Petite Verdot. Wow. (91 points IJB)

(The following dessert wines were tasted sighted.)
Review: 2011 Macari Riesling “Block E”New York, Finger Lakes
SRP: $40
Yellow-orange color. Aromas of sweet marmalade, honeycomb, orange peel, banana and oil. Rich on honeyed, with lots of apricot and dried pineapple fruit. Honeycomb, sweet marmalade, lemon oil and nut flavors add complexity. A lot going on here, and not overly sweet, but a bit low on the acid perhaps. 12.9% alcohol and 180 g/l of sugar. An impressive effort. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2011 Stinson Vineyards Tannat “Imperialis”Virginia, Central Region, Monticello
SRP: $29/500ml
Nose of smoke, fig paste, currant jam, caramelized sugar and charcoal. Fresh and fruity, with lots of fig and cassis. The smoky, earthy tones are really nice, and there’s some sweet coconut and caramel as well. Sweet, but not too much, and the acid keeps it balanced. One of the most impressive dessert reds I’ve had from Virginia. This 100% Tannat is fermented in open top puncheons and aged in old French oak, bottled unfined or unfiltered. 16% alcohol. (89 points IJB)

Review: 2009 Hawk and Horse Vineyards “Latigo”California, North Coast, Lake County
SRP: $45/375ml
Dark purple colored. Aromas of chocolate-covered raisins, raspberry candies, sweet black licorice and caramel. There’s also a nice bourbon cask-coconut aspect. Nice structure, with some coffee grind tannins, rich blackberries and raspberries, some mocha and coconut. Sweet flowers and caramel notes on the finish. A delicious, but also intriguing, dessert wine. Not subtle, with 17.2% alcohol and 13% residual sugar, but tasty. This 100% Cabernet is fortified with high-proof, oak-aged brandy. (89 points IJB)

Weekly Interview: Brooks Painter

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 04-04-2014

Brooks Painter.

Brooks Painter.

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Brooks Painter, the director of winemaking for V. Sattui Winery and Castello di Amorosa, both in Napa Valley.

Before joining the Sattui family in 2005, Painter worked at Robert Mondavi Winery, where he worked as the winemaking operations manager for five years. Before that, he was an assistant winemaker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Raised in northern California, Brooks studied chemistry and biology at UC Santa Cruz. He has been making wine for 30 years.

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