Winemaker Interview: Juan Micieli-Martinez

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 06-16-2017

Juan Micieli-Martinez

Juan Micieli-Martinez

As our regular readers know, we frequently pose a series of questions to a winemaker to probe their winemaking philosophy and to gain insight into how they became a winemaker. This week, we are featuring Juan Micieli-Martinez, the winemaker at Martha Clara Vineyards of the North Fork of Long Island.

Juan was born in Mexico, but was raised in Long Island. So he knew from childhood memories that Long Island had wineries. And when the wine bug bit him in college, Juan returned to Long Island to work in the wine industry. He began at the tasting room at Pellegrini Vineyards and moved into other roles in the cellar and in the winemaking team.

After brief stints as a brewmaster and then as a winemaker in other places, Juan joined Martha Clara Vineyards in 2007.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: A Love Letter to Pinot

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-16-2017

Ripe Pinot Noir (Flickr: docoverachiever)

Ripe Pinot Noir (Flickr: docoverachiever)

In Purple Pages, Richard Hemming reflects on his obsession with Pinot Noir. “When I open a bottle of wine, it is in ultimate pursuit of exactly what has been suppressed: a deep, raw, emotional reaction – something charged with passion and spontaneity and animal instinct. And no type of wine promises such ecstasy more than Pinot Noir.”

In Decanter, Jane Anson says the Bordeaux négociant system is in flux. “What will happen now isn’t clear. As châteaux change their business model to selling older stock that has been held back at the châteaux, they are taking on négociants’ roles as stock holders – which must surely mean they will be more closely exposed to consumers’ reactions to prices.”

In the Los Angeles Times, Patrick Comiskey explores why blending wine is one of the fastest growing trends in the wine industry. “For the big wine companies, with their vast vineyard holdings and surplus juice, the trend has been downright liberating. Tied neither to variety nor place, the wines can be made from anything, come from anywhere, and consumers no longer seem to care about what they don’t know.”

Newsweek reports that Israeli scientists have discovered an “invisible” ancient Hebrew transcription on a shard of pottery dating back to 600 BCE. It read: “If there is any wine, send it.”

Lettie Teague talks to various wine professionals about the wines they’ll be drinking this summer in the Wall Street Journal. (subscription req.)

The Guardian’s Fiona Beckett believes Tasmanian wine has more in common with Burgundy than with the Barossa.

In SOMM Journal, Roger Morris looks at the rise of Alentejo.

In Punch, Jon Bonné on Portugal’s under-appreciated white wines.

Daily Wine News: Instagram’s Influence

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-15-2017

Instagram Global Networking Smartphone Mobile PhoneOn the blog for First Vine, Tom Natan wonders how Instagram and other social media might influence winery tasting room design in the future. “In my experience, winery tasting rooms are designed to show you the beauty of the surroundings – rolling hills, rows of grapevines, trees, lovely outbuildings…But very little in the tasting rooms themselves that will draw your eyes to the wine or the inside surroundings to make you want to photograph them.”

In the Napa Valley Register, Jennifer Huffman catches up with Violet Grgich, daughter of Miljenko “Mike” Grgich of Grgich Hills Estate.

In Wine Spectator, Lexi Williams summarizes the different messages of two recent studies that found links between wine and brain health.

In Bloomberg, Elin McCoy says these are the three bottles you should always have on your fridge door shelves: a crisp, aromatic white; an easy-drinking sparkler; and a Provencal rosé.

Jamie Goode reports from the Atlantic Wine Symposium in Nova Scotia, and offers a glimpse into the region’s wines.

In Wine Enthusiast, Roger Voss is betting on Cru Beaujolais’ future.

The Drinks Business considers the potential of nebbiolo in South Africa.

Money Magazine declares that canned wine is the drink of summer 2017.

In the Chicago Tribune, Michael Austin explores Carinena wines.

Book Review: Your Wine Questions Answered, by Jerry Lockspeiser

Posted by | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 06-14-2017

e04ff4_bbb954651e2c4fb489743c439d31f286.jpg_srz_406_578_85_22_0.50_1.20_0The premise of Jerry Lockspeiser’s Your Wine Questions Answered is simple: 25 questions every ordinary wine drinker wants to know, answered. Although I wonder about the place of books like this in the age of Google, I found the illustrations charming and Lockspeiser’s guidance expertly distilled for the layman.

Best of all: “100% of the author’s revenue from sales of this book will be donated to The Millione Foundation,” which Lockspeiser co-founded, “to build primary schools in Sierra Leone.”

Lockspeiser has worked in wine for over thirty years and currently writes an opinion column for Harpers Wine & Spirit. So he’s more than qualified to write a guidebook. His target audience is the average wine drinker, not experts, and his aim is to offer clear and practical advice for selecting and consuming wine. “After all, it’s only a bottle of fermented grapes.”

Your Wine Questions Answered addresses many of the questions you’d expect, like “Does all wine improve with age?” and “How long will wine keep in an open bottle?” The answers are conversational and concise, keeping to just two or three pages. Lockspeiser also includes his thoughts on less-typical intro topics like the psychology of taste, varietal-specific glassware, and supermarket “own label” wines—the last of which I found very useful for my strolls down the aisle at Trader Joe’s.

I love the colors and layout of the book. Each section begins with a vibrant two-page spread, with an illustration appropriate to the section’s particular question. Honestly, without the artistic flair of Lotte Beatrix, this book loses a lot of its appeal. I can best describe her style as palatably grotesque. (That’s a compliment!) What the book also has going for it is its shortness—I finished it in just two short sittings. The average wine drinker will not be interested in going deep, so Lockspeiser is wise to hang his hat on brevity.

My Recommendation
The cynic in me thinks I can find all of this information online. On the other hand, while we may not need more of these types of “just the basics” books, we certainly need more projects like this that endeavor to combine individual passion (in this case, the author’s passion for wine) with improving people’s lives. Your Wine Questions Answered is a great gift for anyone new to wine, especially if they’re charitably inclined.

Daily Wine News: Mondavi Family & MWs

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-14-2017

Peter Mondavi Sr. with sons, Peter Jr., (left) and Marc (right) and his wife, Blanche in 1968. (Source: CK Mondavi)

Peter Mondavi Sr. with sons, Peter Jr., (left) and Marc (right) and his wife, Blanche in 1968. (Source: CK Mondavi)

Roger Morris profiles the Mondavi family in the Drinks Business. “Altogether, there are 16 Mondavi family members active in the wine business, clustered in the three branches of the family – five third generation and 11 fourth generation – producing 17 brands, and importing and selling wines from other countries.”

The Institute of Masters of Wine has released the questions from this year’s Master of Wine Examination. Could you pass the test?

Lettie Teague explores the long overshadowed category of Spanish rosados in the Wall Street Journal (subscription req.).

In the Napa Valley Register, Henry Lutz looks at the growing presence of female workers in Napa vineyards as a result of the labor shortage.

“Austerity is in for Napa Carneros Chardonnay,” says W. Blake Gray. The buttery days are mostly over, he says.

In Wine Spectator, Harvey Steiman talks to Gordon M. Shepherd, author of Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine, about how we perceive wine.

Elsewhere in the Drinks Business, Rupert Millar reports that Beaujolais is closing in on officially recognized ‘climats’.

In Decanter, William Kelley reports on the hailstorm that hit California over the weekend.

In Palate Press, Michelle Locke on Cariñena, the Spanish region that’s trying to differentiate itself from Rioja, Rías Baixas, and Ribera del Duero.

Daily Wine News: From the Rubble

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-13-2017

(Source: Trefethen Family Vineyards)

In Grape Collective, Dorothy J. Gaiter is moved by the 2014 Trefethen Merlot, which was still made and bottled after the earthquake that hit Napa Valley on August 24, 2014. “That it was bottled at all is a testament to the resiliency of the pioneering Trefethen family and the generosity of Nature even after it has seemed cruel and fickle.”

The Drinks Business reports that terroir-focused producers in Rioja have welcomed the new ‘vinedos singulares’ (single vineyard) classification that was given the go-ahead by the Consejo Regulador DOCa of Rioja last Wednesday.

Karen Moneymaker looks at how Côtes du Rhône continues to refine its appellation structure in SOMM Journal.

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Patricio Tapia on how cinsault is thriving in the coastal hills of Itata in Chile, “where it not only ripened well, but also quickly earned the nickname “cargadora” (the same word for a front-end loader) for its generous yields, the vines often packed with bunches.”

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford visits Dal Forno during a trip to the Veneto and is amazed. “In 30 years of wine reporting, I’ve never come across a story quite like this.”

Wine chemist Andrew Waterhouse talks to Chemical & Engineer News about teaching a generation of winemakers, and says the secret to great wine is understanding organic chemistry.

The wine website “I like this grape.” talks with designer Simon Frouws about what goes into designing a wine label, and how wine labels differ from spirits labels.

Tom Mullen explores the growing lure of golf and wine vacations in Forbes.

Daily Wine News: Underrated Antiques

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-12-2017

Chinon_wineJancis Robinson takes an interest in aged Loire wines, tasting Chinon wines from the 1980s and 1990s. “We were all knocked out by the quality, consistency, and freedom from TCA, of these underrated antiques.”

After a tasting of 14 vintages of Chateau Mouton Rothschild dating from 2009 back to 1952, the Washington Post’s Dave McIntyre reflects on the historical perspective in a bottle. “It flows through the history of civilization. It connects us to a year, an era, a tradition. That helps explain why wine lovers seek out the variety wine offers and build collections that defy logic.”

In Wine Spectator, Pascal Marchand describes Burgundy’s evolution over the past 30 years.

Eater talked to several wine professionals about what climate change means to the wine industry right now.

Alfonso Cevola remembers his first encounter with Puglia’s wines. “One I remember, a 1979 Salice Salentino from Barone Malfatti, was a large, lumbering bear of a wine. Unfiltered, it possessed a sort of animale nature, one that naturalistas today would love, for it was grapes into wine with nothing in between.”

Jamie Goode helps spread Felicity Carter’s message about the importance of wine tourism.

In VinePair, Courtney Schiessl considers the importance of the man-made Landes Forest to Bordeaux’s climate.

Wine Enthusiast offers a primer on Nova Scotia wines.

In Bon Appétit, Marissa A. Ross recommends sparkling reds for summer.

Searching for America’s Greatest Rieslings

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 06-10-2017

untitlehduntitlehduntitlehduntitlehd“What are we going to do about Riesling?”

Stu Smith, co-founder of the historic Smith-Madrone winery in Napa’s Spring Mountain Districtuntitlehd, is a lover and producer of Riesling, so it was a serious question. Some friends and I had coordinated a blind tasting of American Rieslings, and it just so happened that Stu was in town. The stars aligned, and we all tasted and discussed American Rieslings.

Since the late 1970s, Stu has been crafting Riesling from his Spring Mountain vineyards, a wine I love for its classic riffs on of Riesling’s greatest elements: freshness, purity of fruit, an intriguing mineral presence.

The idea for this tasting stems from a comment I made on Twitter about Smith-Madrone’s Riesling — I got on my soap box and declared it perhaps the greatest American Riesling. Aaron Menenberg, a Virginia-based wine-lover who recently started a blog called Good Vitis, chimed in. Other producers popped up, and I began to realize how many other American Rieslings could be considered “great.” It wasn’t long before we came up with a plan: gather dozens of high-quality American Rieslings and blind taste them. Read the rest of this entry »

Winemaker Interview: Roman Roth

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 06-09-2017

Roman Roth_Credit MarkWeinberg

Roman Roth

As our regular readers know, we frequently pose a series of questions to a winemaker to probe their winemaking philosophy and to gain insight into how they became a winemaker. This week, we are featuring Roman Roth, the winemaker at Wölffer Estate in Long Island, NY.

Founded by Christian Wölffer in 1987, Wölffer Estate is run today by his children, Joey and Marc Wölffer, along with Roman.

Roman’s path to winemaking is perhaps the most to be envied. Roman was born into a winemaking family in Germany, so, as he explains, his childhood was accompanied by great wine that was celebrated and revered. At age 16, Roman began an apprenticeship in winemaking in Germany. After more experience in the United States and Australia, and after finishing an oenology degree, he took his current position as winemaker.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Worldly & Aged Wines

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-09-2017



In the New York Times, Eric Asimov and the wine panel consider the factors that make Riesling flourish in Australia. “So what does Australian riesling taste like?… lime is a good place to start, especially with Clare Valley rieslings, which can also have a floral quality. Many have an earthy minerality, too, sort of a wet stone aroma, and the best are textured and resonant.”

In Decanter, Jane Anson reports on a tasting of 40 years of Château Montrose. “The three oldest wines in this tasting, 1975, 1982 and 1986, are perfect lessons in how great Bordeaux can age, while the youngest show the benefits of the vast investment programme undertaken in recent years.”

In Purple Pages, Richard Hemming tests out the eto, a new wine-saving device. “For me, the results were unanimous: there was no perceptible difference between a freshly opened bottle and the eto-stored sample, while the bottle-stored wines had significantly deteriorated, becoming far too oxidised to drink.”

“Owners of New York’s Hermann J. Wiemer Winery purchase Standing Stone Vineyards,” reports James Molesworth in Wine Spectator. “The deal includes 50 acres of vines and a winery that currently produces 6,000 cases per year.”

In Forbes, Per and Britt Karlsson highlight five young and ambitious South African wine producers.

W. Blake Gray blogs about some of his favorite Canadian wines. “Given their quality, Canada’s best red wines are also good value by world standards… There aren’t many very cheap Canadian wines, but on the other hand, Canadian wineries can’t get away with charging Napa Valley prices, even for terrific wines.”

Grape Collective chats with Pierre Acquaviva, owner and winemaker at Domaine d’Alzipratu, about the unique wines of Corsica.

In Palate Press, Elisabetta Tosi surveys the Italian rosato scene.