Daily Wine News: Promise in Oregon

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-14-2016

Ripe Pinot Noir (Flickr: docoverachiever)

Ripe Pinot Noir (Flickr: docoverachiever)

“The issue is finding a place with the soils, climate, elevation and exposition that permit those sorts of wines to be made: terroir, in short. In a general sense, the Willamette has what it takes. The particulars will only reveal themselves with time.” In the New York Times, Eric Asimov offers notes on the most recent Wine School, Oregon Pinot Noir, and announces what’s up next: Montsant.

In Wine Spectator, Harvey Steiman says longtime top sommelier and winery consultant Larry Stone’s Lingua Franca Oregon Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays look promising.

Jane Anson tastes through Bordeaux 1982 wines from top Left Bank estates and offers her thoughts in Decanter.

In Seattle Weekly, Zach Geballe responds to Jeff Gordinier’s recent piece about the growing success of natural wine, and calls out a problem regarding “snobby somms” and natural wine.

Bill Ward looks at what goes into the pricing of wine — from land and labor to equipment and marketing — in the Star Tribune.

Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc gives an overview of the quality and quantity of Bordeaux’s 2016 harvest in Jancis Robinson’s Purple Pages.

Wines & Vines offers “overwhelmingly positive reports” on California’s wine grape harvest, which is almost complete.

In Punch, Jon Bonné covers Loire Valley cabernet franc.

Book Review: Vertical: Passion and Pinot on the Oregon Wine Trail

Posted by | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 10-13-2016

Much like his first, Sideways, Rex Pickett’s follow-up novel, Vertical: Passion and Pinot on the Oregon Wine Trail, isn’t a wine book, per se, it’s a humorous effort loaded with winery visits, empty Pinot Noir bottles, self-loathing and sloppy sex.

CuHg0N6WAAAyc8rPickett plays an interesting game with real-life and fiction in this book. In this novel, Miles (the perpetually drunk, Pinot-loving protagonist) is a big celebrity in the wine world based on the publication of his novel Shameless (a stand-in for the real-life novel Sideways). He’s spent the past few years soaking in the fame, getting wined and dined by Pinot producers, and, as he’s always more than willing to tell, getting laid.

The relationship with Maya (the Hitching Post waitress and love interest from Sideways) and fizzled after Miles went back to his L.A. home to relish in newfound fame. His mother has had a stroke and his good buddy Jack is reeling from a broken marriage. The stage is set for a new adventure when Miles agrees to bring his mother to live with her sister in Wisconsin. He decides to rent a handicap-accessible van and take his mother, her dog and Jack to Wisconsin, with a little stop-over in Willamette Valley for the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC), for which Miles is the master of ceremonies.

If you’re looking for a primer on Willamette Valley Pinot, this is not it. Miles and his crew don’t get to Willamette Valley until page 223. And when they arrive for IPNC, there’s no master class in Oregon Pinot. Instead, there’s a hilarious scene where Miles is forced to sit in a dunk booth filled with Two Buck Chuck Merlot.

The dialogue is consistently punchy, funny, and witty. But the stage-setting and basic narration go through dips of boredom and laziness. (“The parking lot was so full it was difficult to find a place to park.” Hmm…You don’t say.)

However, Pickett does have the ability to get this particular reader a bit emotional during the scenes between Miles and his mother. The passages of dialogue between Miles and his mother are like flashes of brilliant sobriety and deep emotion in a novel filled with drunken excess and surface level human interactions.

For me, Sideways was the exception that proved the rule that books are better than movies. I absolutely loved the movie, and when I see it while scrolling channels, I almost always check it out to see which hilarious spat of dialogue is coming up next. But I found the book frustrating. Pickett’s writing struck me as overcompensating, overindulgent and tiring. In Vertical, there is still plenty of bro-down, dick-swinging, “Chicks, man!” kind of stuff, but I feel like Pickett has grown a bit less sophomoric with this sophomore effort.

The book does contain a series of brutal yet hilarious scenes about Jack’s penis, and more than a few of Miles’ kiss-and-tell confessions. There’s pants-pooping, impromptu dental surgery, (a lot of) drunken sex, spit bucket baths, and the like. While crass at times, Pickett’s protagonist maintains an interesting mix of humor, levity, and pathos, which hold the story together and make it a worthwhile read.

While the wine lover will have fun with the shout-outs to certain wines and wineries, this book is aimed at a far wider audience. But I think the wine world is frequently in need of a humor injection, and Picket provides that in this novel.

Now let’s see if Hollywood buys the screenplay, and Maybe Paul Giamatti will be back to play Miles again. I know I’d pay to see it.

Available now from Loose Gravel Press
E-Book: $9.95
Softcover: $12.95
Hardcover: $24.95

Daily Wine News: Free Wine Fountain

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-13-2016

The free wine fountain. (Source: TK Facebook)

The famous free wine fountain. (Source: Dora Sarchese’s Facebook)

A 24-hour free red wine fountain just opened in Abruzzo. The wine is provided by Dora Sarchese, which “noted that the fountain was not a place for “drunkards” or “louts”, nor was it a “publicity stunt”.”

According to Wine-Searcher, Rioja’s wine governing body, the Consejo Regulador intends to table “a detailed proposal” to allow bodegas to designate their wines by subzone, village, and single vineyard.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague profiles Alie Shaper, winemaker and owner of Brooklyn Oenology.

Panos Kakaviatos explains how rain in September was crucial to the 2016 Burgundy harvest, and predicts a rise in prices in Harpers.

In Eater, Andres O’Hara-Plotnik considers the importance of wine label design, and explores how our digital culture makes their appearance on wine shelves and on screens both important.

In Decanter, Chris Mercer reports that 2016 is predicted to be another strong vintage for English wine.

“There are few more exciting wine-production areas in Italy today than Sardinia,” says Ian D’Agata in an overview of Sardinian wine in Vinous.

In VinePair, Laura Burgess explains the importance of microclimates. “They say good wine is made in the vineyard, but more specifically, it’s made by the microclimate.”

Wine Folly covers the world’s most famous wine blends.

Daily Wine News: 2016 Montrachet

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-12-2016

lbl_montrachet-drcAccording to Jane Anson in Decanter, a shortage of grapes has prompted six prominent Burgundy wineries — Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC), Domaine des Comtes Lafon, Domaine Leflaive, Domaine Guy Amiot et Fils, Domaine Lamy-Pillot and Domaine Fleurot — to say they will jointly produce a Montrachet Grand Cru white wine from the 2016 vintage.

In the New York Times Magazine, Lindsey Tramuta profiles a handful of producers considered to be part of “the next generation of French winemakers.”

In the World of Fine Wine, sommeliers share their opinions on the best Champagnes to celebrate with.

The Napa Valley Register offers a report of the 2016 Napa harvest as it comes to a close, with specific reports for each AVA.

R.H. Drexel talks with lawyer and winemaker Theo Lee about her Theopolis Vineyards wines — and is particularly interested in her estate-grown Petite Sirah — and the Yorkville Highlands AVA.

Wines & Vines has details on Total Wine’s plans for expansion, which includes a goal to have 200 stores by 2018.

Yoshinori Ohsumi was just awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on autophagy, or “self eating”. In Palate Press, Erika Szymanski connects his award-winning research to winemaking, and how it helps explain the taste of Champagne.

Dan Berger reflects on the fallacies of gold medal wines in the Press Democrat.

Daily Wine News: A Taste of the Future

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-11-2016

Vineyards in the Swartland. (Source: Santam Swartland Wine and Olive Route)

Vineyards in the Swartland. (Source: Santam Swartland Wine and Olive Route)

Andrew Jefford tastes the future of wine — disease resistant hybrids — and shares his impressions of the organic supervines in Decanter. “I find it hard to believe that we won’t, sooner or later, find ‘invisible’ ways to use the resistant genes from Muscadines (as well as other non-vinifera vines) in new versions of every classic variety in the future.  At that point, organic vineyard cultivation really could become the norm.”

“Start-up company Champagne PIAFF is seeking investment in a bid to become the ‘first Champagne house of the digital age’,” reports the Drinks Business.

In Condé Nast Traveler, Mary Holland explores South Africa’s Swartland wine region. “How the Swartland has been overlooked is a marvel… At the foot of these Paardeberg mountains, you’ll find low-key wine farms and an unpretentious wine community working to promote the region together.”

BBC News explores the potential of Siberian wine, and wonders how a small change to Russian law could boost its success.

In Wine Spectator, Harvey Steiman reflects on the last 40 years of American wine culture — how it came to be and where we go from here.

Elsewhere in Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto visits Mariano Buglioni in Valpolicella, and finds out what a man with no wine knowledge does when he inherits 10 acres of vineyards.

In Wine Enthusiast, Michael Schachner highlights a handful of artisanal Chilean winemakers.

According to Wine-Searcher, New York rapper Action Bronson, who has a show on the Viceland channel, has brought an unexpected boost to Frank Cornelissen’s Sicilian wines.

Daily Wine News: Wine’s Economics

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-10-2016

Vineyards in Chianti Classico. (Flickr: telex4)

Vineyards in Chianti Classico. (Flickr: telex4)

“It’s not just me. Many former customers of classic wines have been chased off by price, and all those newly minted millennial wine drinkers will know most of the world’s legacy “great wines” simply as distant names.” In the Washington Post, Jon Bonné considers “the rise of wine’s crazy economics” and how that influences what we drink today.

According to Panos Kakaviatos, there’s been a sharp rise in grape thefts during the Burgundy 2016 harvest, with reports of extra surveillance being set up around vineyards.

In Vinous, Antonio Galloni offers his thoughts on the 2014 Chianti Classico vintage, which he says “are vibrant, pointed, mid-weight wines with bracing acidity and energy.”

In SOMM Journal, Jiles Halling discovers a surprising sanctuary of Sauvignon Blanc in the AOC Saint-Bris in the northern part of Bourgogne.

In Forbes, Lauren Mowery thinks white Bordeaux should be a household wine staple.

In Wine-Searcher, Tom Hyland explores Syrah’s charms, and ponders why the grape isn’t more admired.

In Beverage Media, Jeffery Lindenmuth looks at Germany’s new generation of Riesling.

In Palate Press, Roger Morris profiles a handful of producers of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Courtney Schiessl offers tips on how to learn to love grappa in VinePair.

Wine Review: Virginia’s Stinson & Keswick

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 10-08-2016

If you haven’t yet explored Virginia wine, getting started can be a bit tricky. With more than 250 wineries, it helps to start with a few reputable wineries. I recently tasted through a few wines from two Virginia wineries I think produce consistently good wines.

Stinson Vineyards produces some Monticello AVA fruit and source grapes from other areas. The father-daughter duo (Scott and Rachel Stinson) control about seven acres of estate vineyards, planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tannat. The wines are clean, vibrant, accessible, and I’ve noticed a strong consistency from vintage to vintage, something that can be especially difficult in Virginia.

Speaking of Virginia’s notoriously variable vintage conditions, during a recent online chat, Keswick’s winemaker and vineyard manager Stephen Barnard said, “The only consistency is that next year’s going to be different.” From frost to spats of torrential rain to heat spikes to looming destruction from tropical systems, Virginia winegrowers don’t have it easy. But he and other Virginia winemaker’s got a bit of a break in the exceptional 2015 vintage. A lot of reds are yet to hit the market, but based on the whites I’ve tasted and what I’ve heard from Virginia vintners, this is a vintage to check out.

Barnard, originally from South Africa, has been working with Virginia wines for about 15 years, the last 10 of which he’s spent at Keswick, garnering acclaim and doing his part to elevate the reputation of Virginia wine. Keswick has won awards at the annual Virginia Governor’s Cup wine competition several times, including their 2014 Cabernet Franc Reserve (included in this tasting), which won the 2016 Cup.

For a full re-cap on the 2016 Virginia Governor’s Cup winners, you can read my report here.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Interview: Dominga Cotarella

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 10-07-2016

Dominga Cotarella

Dominga Cotarella

Each week, as our regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we are featuring Domina Cotarella, the winemaker at Falesco in Umbria, Italy.

Falesco was founded in 1979 by Riccardo and Renzo Cotarella, who had worked with the famed Antinori estate. First a weekend project, Falesco became the passion of the Cotarella family. They revitalized their vineyards saved the indigenous Roscetto white variety from extinction. Dominga, Riccardo’s daughter, leads Falesco now, along with Enrica and Marta, Renzo’s daughters.

Dominga joined the winery in 2007 as the marketing director for the Italian market and soon began working with the U.S. market, too. She earned a degree in Agricultural Sciences from Tuscia University in Viterbo so she could better understand the winegrowing and winemaking processes.

Falesco’s flagship wine is a varietal merlot called Montiano, from an 88-acre, single-vineyard in Montefiascone, Lazio. Dominga also created the Tellus range, a new line of international varietal wines.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Rise of Petit Manseng

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-07-2016

Late harvest Petit Manseng. (Wikimedia)

Late harvest Petit Manseng. (Wikimedia)

In Decanter, Jane Anson says that Petit Manseng is on the verge of “having its Viognier moment,” with winemakers around the world starting to take notice of the grape’s overlooked charms.

Eric Asimov offers his annual fall edition of “20 Wines for Under $20” in the New York Times.

On the blog for First Vine, Tom Natan interviews cookbook author Domenica Marchetti and talks about her latest book, Preserving Italy, in which she reveals that she uses her husband’s wine fridge to cure pancetta and guanciale.

In Forbes, Lauren Mowery profiles viticulturist Barbara Shinn of Shinn Estate Vineyards in Long Island.

Bob Ecker considers the opportunities for wineries selling their wine to cruise lines in the Napa Valley Register.

In Grape Collective, Monty Waldin talks with winemaker Saverio Petrilli about the rich culture of Italy’s Lucca region, biodynamics, and the joys of illegal pig farming.

“The short version: it’s good. Again.” W. Blake Gray offers a 2016 Northern California vintage report in Wine-Searcher.

In Wine Enthusiast, Kara Newman looks at how Madeira is making a comeback in cocktails.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague recommends wines to pair with Chinese food.

The Drinks Business profiles the 10 most powerful winemakers in Chile.

Daily Wine News: An Issue of Authenticity

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-06-2016

Sauvignon Blanc.

Sauvignon Blanc.

In Punch, Zachary Sussman discovers the history of sauvignon blanc in the Styria region of Austria, and reflects on the concept of authenticity in wine.

“Evidence suggests that we may have already seen the most extreme of the Extra Brut craze and that the pendulum is slowly swinging back…” In VinePair, Carson Demmond discusses the subject of dosage in Champagne.

In Houstonia Magazine, Jeremy Parzen looks at the growing movement of Texan winemakers experimenting with grapes beyond the classic Bordeaux varieties.

Elin McCoy shadows top wine consulting winemaker Aaron Pott during a harvest day in Napa for Bloomberg.

Jackson Family Wines is also looking to buy more vineyards in Australia, and potentially southern England, according to Decanter.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague reviews the new documentary, Sour Grapes, after seeing it at its U.S. premiere on Friday.

“Fritz Hasselbach, who oversaw Weingut Gunderloch for more than three decades, turning it into one of Germany’s greatest wine estates, died Oct. 4 from complications due to melanoma. He was 70,” reports Wine Spectator.

Tim Atkin is the latest to explore what’s next for Château Miraval as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie divorce.

In Grape Collective, Christopher Barnes chats with winemaker Christoph Wachter of Wachter-Wiesler in Austria about wines from Eisenberg and the area’s greenschist soils.

Alison Spiegel dishes out sommelier secrets in Tasting Table.