Daily Wine News: A Return to Port?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-18-2015

The Douro Valley (Wikimedia)

The Douro Valley (Wikimedia)

“After two centuries in abeyance, the original wines are back,” says Andrew Jefford in the Financial Times. “Unfortified Douro wine sales have been growing by at least 5 per cent annually; indeed, in 2014 they surged 14 per cent. A significant change is under way.”

In Grape Collective, Dorothy Gaiter tells the complex story about the complex wines of Dunham Cellars.

Wine Folly offers a primer on national wine days. FYI, today is National Pinot Noir Day.

Tom Wark shares what he learned at the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference, which was held in the Finger Lakes this year.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné recommends five nascent California wineries to discover now.

According to Fortune, Starbucks has confirmed it has applied for liquor licenses at several hundred additional locations, with plans to have most of the stores selling beer and wine by the end of the year.

Cathy Huyghe talks to Karen MacNeil about the craft of writing about wine in Forbes.

Elsewhere in Forbes, Per and Britt and Karlsson explain why the next wine in your wine cellar should be a Sagrantino di Montefalco.

What’s the cheapest wine worth faking?” asks Leslie Gevirtz in Le Pan.

A new study shows that a daily glass of wine, as part of a healthy diet, slows cognitive decline, reports Wine Spectator.

Daily Wine News: Tasting History

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-17-2015

Kvevri in Georgia. (Wikimedia)

Kvevri in Georgia. (Wikimedia)

“If you’ve never had a wine from the Republic of Georgia, then you’ve never really tasted history.” Alder Yarrow rounds up a few of his favorite Georgian wines and shares them on his blog.

In Decanter, Champagne expert Peter Liem shares his guide to the most exciting grower Champagne estates, and their wines.

“Once loved by Frank Sinatra, Federico Fellini and Ernest Hemingway, who called it “a wine as congenial as a brother’s house,” Valpolicella is now a rare presence on restaurant wine lists and retail shelves.” In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague makes a case for Valpolicella being a terrific summer wine.

Jancis Robinson reacts to Riedel’s letter to the satirist Ron Washam, The Hosemaster of Wine.

According to the results of a new Sonoma State University survey, the majority of local residents from Napa, Sonoma, and Lake counties view wine industry positively.

Winemaker Matt Courtney, now at Arista, unveils his own Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir label, which Wine Spectator called “extraordinary debuts.”

In Eater, Levi Dalton explains why sushi restaurants are paying more attention to wine.

Dave McIntyre looks at how Barboursville Vineyards holds its enemies at bay in the Washington Post.

Wine. All the Time‘s Marissa A. Ross shows Punch what it looks like to really drink wine all the time.

In Food & Wine, “12 Essential Red Wines for Summer.”

Wine Reviews: California Whites

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-15-2015

Last week, I focused on some California Chardonnay. This week, the focus is on, well, pretty much everything else. This summer I’ve tasted through a bunch of non-Chardonnay California white wines, and I’ve come across some interesting ones, some unique ones, and some that are just plain okay. Some of the Sauvignon Blancs showed really well. I’ve gotten excited about a few California Grenache Blancs, and Kita’s Camp 4 Vineyard is one of them. It left me wanting to explore more and more California Grenache Blanc.

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

Daily Wine News: Identity Crises

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-14-2015

(Flickr: epeigne37)

(Flickr: epeigne37)

In the New York Times, the wine panel sampled 20 bottles of Pouilly-Fuissé from the 2013 vintage, and Eric Asimov offers his thoughts on them. “The difficulties with the vintage were evident to all of us. Many of the wines seemed disjointed…seemed to show the characteristics of the grape rather than of the land, as if the 2013s were chardonnays rather than Pouilly-Fuissés.

California’s Malibu Coast AVA has just turned one year old but growers continue to face court battles over the right to plant new vineyards. Could it be a case of the ‘terrible twos’? In Decanter, Christy Canterbury reports.

Ben O’Donnell catches up with Randall Grahm’s about “Popelouchum—The Project” in Wine Spectator.

“Hawke’s Bay has a vital role to play in supporting New Zealand’s export ambitions,” says Gabriel Stone in the Drinks Business, “but the region is struggling to create a clear identity for itself.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Virginie Boone on Merlot’s quiet comeback in California.

7 Tips to Work Successfully with Wine Distributors” on WineBusiness.com.

W. Blake Gray says a wine’s aging vessel really does matter.

According to the Washington Post, a Northern California fire has leapt from Lake County into wine-famous Napa County, but no vineyards are threatened.

In Eater, Blackhouse Hospitality’s Scott Young offers tips on wines to pair with caviar and foie gras beyond Champagne and Sauternes.

Daily Wine News: Sherry, Right Now

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-13-2015

Olives with glasses of manzanilla (Flickr: goodiesfirst)

Olives with glasses of manzanilla (Flickr: goodiesfirst)

“Not only is it arguably Spain’s greatest wine, it’s also the most undervalued wine in the world. Some say shockingly so.” In the Wall Street Journal, Will Lyons sings the praises of sherry. “Some say sherry’s biggest problem is that people don’t know when to drink it. The answer is right now.”

Is Jay Z’s new all-pinot Champagne worth $760 a bottle? In Bloomberg, Elin McCoy taste tests the newest bubbly from the Armand de Brignac “Ace of Spades” Champagne line to find out.

In the Sacramento Bee, Mike Dunne profiles Gonzague and Claire Lurton, two French vintners now turning to make wine in Sonoma. “Both are from longtime Bordeaux wine families. Claire is the granddaughter of Jacques Merlaut… Gonzague is the son of another prosperous Bordeaux vintner, Lucien Lurton…”

“Oregon winery Willamette Valley Vineyards (WVV) has filed a lawsuit seeking damages for the loss of nearly 13 tons of Pinot Noir grapes ruined by an herbicide drift incident in 2013,” reports Wine Spectator. “The company, owned by Jim Bernau, has accused the neighbor of one of the vineyards it leases of irresponsible spraying.”

According to Wines & Vines, Texas researchers have developed an experimental solution to Pierce’s Disease.

George Skouras, founder of Domaine Skouras, spoke with the Drinks Business, and said Greek wines are now “very competitive”, but that the next step was to produce an “icon wine” to further build the country’s reputation in international markets.

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Patricio Tapia travels to the Canary Islands to explore some of the world’s most exciting volcanic terroir—and the patrimony of vines preserved on these islands for centuries.

When Did Rosé, Like, Become a Thing?” in Vanity Fair.

Book Review: True Taste: The Seven Essential Wine Words, By Matt Kramer

Posted by | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 08-12-2015

True TasteMatt Kramer’s newest book is not a lineup of tasting adjectives. If it were, I would never have read it.

Instead, I found True Taste: The Seven Essential Wine Words to be an important contribution to the current push — in the vein of recent pieces like “The Wrath of Grapes” — to rethink how we ascribe value to wine.

Like many oenophiles these days, Kramer is tired of watching contemporary wine critique morph into some kind of pretentious thesaurus. Today, tasting notes are ubiquitous, despite the fact that they are full of increasingly bizarre and wholly subjective flavor descriptors, “without any inherent meaning,” that tell us “surprisingly little about a wine’s actual quality.” But the real problem, Kramer says, is not the “descriptors in themselves,” but “the near exclusive use of them in ‘discussing’ wine,” which “leaves wine drinkers with the impression that, if you can’t find all these flavors, you as a taster of wine are somehow lacking.”

Kramer is spot on. We’ve all seen wine drinking at social gatherings devolve into a forum where those “in the know” rattle off a list of esoteric terms masquerading as value judgments, while the “uninitiated” shy away from voicing an opinion. True Taste is for the initiated and uninitiated alike, attempting to reform the former and encourage the latter. The book is “about those values that involve actual judgment.” It is about “tasting wine with discernment rather than a game of I Spy flavor description.”

Kramer’s seven “essential” words are insight, harmony, texture, layers, finesse, surprise, and nuance. Each gets its own chapter, in which Kramer, in his casual and straightforward style, breaks down how the particular word plays out in a bottle of wine. I most enjoyed the chapter on “layers.” Kramer suggests that this word is in many ways superior to its more commonly used sibling, “complexity.” Whereas “complexity” connotes multiplicity, “implicitly suggest[ing] that more is better,” “layers” connotes order, pattern, coherent depth. The subtle differences between seemingly synonymous wine words, according to Kramer, matter a great deal.

It is in the “layers” chapter that Kramer makes his most important point of the book. He discusses the term “good” as it relates to wine and argues that it is not only a subjective term. In wine, “‘Good’ exists independently of one’s personal preference.” The popular viewpoint that “if it tastes good to you, then it’s good” is erroneous. As Kramer explains, we as humans are wired to seek out increasingly complex stimuli over simpler stimuli. Thus, things that are more complex satisfy an innate human desire, and are objectively good. But this complexity must have coherence—our minds demand order—so it must have “layers” that aggregate to a pleasant whole.

As much as I agree with Kramer’s arguments about contemporary wine critique, I do think the book could have worked better as an article, or series of articles. It is definitely short enough. I also have a problem with the last chapter, “A Word About Nuance and Cheese,” which seems out of place. An epilogue that provides guidance on how to put these newly acquired “true tasting” skills into practice would have been more useful to readers. Lastly, I am not entirely convinced that Kramer’s seven words are mutually exclusive. For example, there is overlap in the words “layers” and “nuance.” Although Kramer does an excellent job of describing each word, the line, for me, is sometimes too fine.

Situation in which I would purchase this book: At just over 100 pages, True Taste makes for great weekend travel reading. It’s not a “must have” for all wine drinkers, but it does contain a very important message about wine valuation. If you wish to expand the way you think and speak about the quality of the wine in your glass, True Taste is probably your most efficient option.

Daily Wine News: Feeling Parched

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-12-2015

What's the wine equivalent of a good beach read?

What’s the wine equivalent of a good beach read? (Flickr: will ockenden)

In the torpor of August, even the most discerning wine brain needs a break. In Punch, Jon Bonné makes the case for the wine equivalent of a great beach read: bottles that are delicious, cheap ($15 and under cheap) and satisfyingly uncomplicated.

In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto visits Jean-Marc Espinasse, a southern France winemaker fighting to save his infant vines from the two-month drought and summer heat wave that have been baking southeast France.

Fortune publishes an excerpt about how Champagne changed the global economy from Mike Veseth’s new book, Money, Taste, and Wine: It’s Complicated.

In the Wall Street Journal Magazine, Zachary Sussman on the rise of female sommeliers.

Washington State wine harvest is gearing up, reports Wines & Vines. Treveri Cellars kicked off harvest on August 7th, the earliers harvest ever in the state. Ste. Michelle is to start on the 12th.

At Domaine de Reuilly, located in an adjacent appellation to Sancerre, Denis Jamain mixes innovation with respect for tradition. Grape Collective interviews Jamain about his wines, which are stored in barrels made from trees cut on the property where he plays music to his vines.

5 Things You May Not Know About Lebanese Wine” in Le Pan.

WineFolly goes inside New York wine country.

Daily Wine News: Most Expensive Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-11-2015

The World's Most Expensive Wine

The World’s Most Expensive Wine, according to Wine-Searcher

Based on the results of Wine-Searcher’s annual ranking report released earlier this month, the world’s most expensive wine averages over $15,000 per bottle. It’s from Burgundy.

According to the Drinks Business, Riedel and Tim Atkin MW have resolved the dispute over HoseMaster’s satirical article published on Atkin’s website.

Should your sommelier pour your wine for you? Alice Feiring prefers to be in charge of pouring her next fill.

Ella Lister examines the recent stronger performance of the fine-wine market and presents an overview of auctions around the world in the first half of 2015 in the World of Fine Wine.

In The Week, John Lingan offers insight into a different type of tasting: the 25th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, the so-called Oscars of Water. “The Saturday competition was arranged in four “flights”: municipal, purified, bottled, and sparkling.”

In Harpers, Tim Atkin compares Swartland and Stellenbosch.

Visiting Milan? Krisanne Fordham recommends visiting Franciacorta in Condé Nast Traveler.

There are now 159 wineries operating in North Carolina, a state that boasts a $1.7 billion wine industry according to the Charlotte Observer.

Punch features Bacchanal, “the magical backyard party of a wine bar that’s become a New Orleans institution.”

In Palate Press, Erika Szymanksi has an update on wine and cancer.

Daily Wine News: Fading Parker Influence

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-10-2015

(Flickr: winestem)

(Flickr: winestem)

In Le Pan, Elin McCoy asks if Robert Parker’s days at the top are numbered? “There is, though, a wider shift happening in the world of wine criticism. Today, fewer people, especially younger drinkers, seem to care about scores. Meanwhile, other, more mature consumers have the confidence to follow their own path.”

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray analyzes the consequences of Riedel’s threat to HoseMaster’s satirical blog entry.

Grape Collective explains how Chilean wine pioneer Aurelio Montes rose to hero status in his county — a story of innovation and entrepreneurial courage.

According to Decanter, PBS’s reality show, The Winemakers, that pits would-be winemakers against each other as they attempt to create their own wine brand is set to film a third series, despite delays of airing series two.

Harvey Steiman compares the wines of yesteryear to 18th century classical instruments, and how those instruments are played today in Wine Spectator.

In Food Republic, Chantal Martineau offers tips on how to drink Bordeaux and Burgundy for the rest of the summer.

Condé Nast Traveler looks inside Malibu’s emerging wine scene.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre on the brosé phenomenon and whether wines can be gender-specific.

The Wall Street Journal takes a trip to Sonoma County — but not for the wines. Debra A. Klein discovers Sonoma’s burgeoning craft-beer scene.

Wine Reviews: California Chardonnay

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-08-2015

Since my last report on California Chardonnays, I’ve tasted through a group of interesting and exciting wines. The best hail from that beautiful Central Coast Chardonnay haven, the Santa Maria Valley, but I also found a few fun and inexpensive Chards that would please many a palate.

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