Daily Wine News: Unexpected Outcomes

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-18-2015

Robert Dahl

A bitter, multimillion-dollar dispute between Napa Valley vintner Robert Dahl and investor Emad Tawfilis ended in a murder-suicide on Monday, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, explains how the U.S. and Canada accidentally destroyed wine. (Whoops!)

Ray Isle offers “An Insider’s Guide to Outsmarting Burgundy Collectors” in Food & Wine. “Sometimes, when I think about Burgundy and my love for this wonderful and frustrating wine, I’m tempted to do one of those pro and con charts”

In Wine Spectator, Matt Kramer says that expectation and experience can limit the enjoyment of a “wine of pleasure.”

Argentina needs to look beyond Malbec in order to avoid commoditizing its flagship grape,” Alberto Arizu, former president of Wines of Argentina and chief executive of Bodega Luigi Bosca, told Harpers.

Dustin Wilson, who stars in the documentary Somm, shares some of his favorite new wineries in Maxim.

In Grape Collective, Christopher Barnes chats with Victor Coulon of Domaine de Beaurenard in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Jonathan Lipsmeyer has an “exquisite dance” with head sommelier Aurélien Masse at Frenchie in Paris during a blind tasting dinner.

The Drinks Business interviews Tim Hanni MW.

Rest easy, wine lovers. Perception is easily fooled.

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 03-17-2015

CC0 Public Domain.

CC0 Public Domain.

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 wine enthusiasts shouldn’t worry about academic studies that call baloney on oenophilia.

Rest easy, wine lovers. Perception is easily fooled.

One glass of Cabernet Sauvignon was described as “powerful and heavy.” Another was described as “subtle and refined.”  The only difference? The music that was playing while people drank the wine.

A few years ago, Adrian North, a psychology professor at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, tested the impact of music on taste perception by pouring wine for 250 students. Some tasted the wine while listening to music identified by others as “powerful and heavy,” while others listened to music that was “subtle and refined,” “zingy and refreshing,” or “mellow and soft.” Other students drank without any music. After enjoying their wine for five minutes, the students were asked to rate how much the wine tasted like the musical descriptions.

The conclusion, as put simply in the British Journal of Psychology? “Background music influences the taste of wine.”

When North’s study came out, oenophiles were infuriated. Here was yet another academic calling wine appreciation into question.

Rest easy, wine lovers. Perception is easily fooled.

Widespread derision of wine criticism began in 2001 when Frédéric Brochet, a University of Bordeaux psychologist, poured one glass of red wine and one glass of white wine for 54 oenology students — and then asked them to describe each wine in detail. Students described each wine with the laundry list of descriptors one would expect for reds and whites. What Brochet didn’t tell the students? Both wines were the same. The white in one glass was simply dyed red.

Ever since, the media has jumped at any opportunity to call baloney on oenophilia. But psychologists have long known that humans are easily tricked, especially when relying on taste buds.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

Daily Wine News: Characteristic Swagger

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-17-2015

A Texan vineyard — very, very far from Bordeaux. (Flickr: Matt Peoples)

A Texan vineyard — very, very far from Bordeaux. (Flickr: Matt Peoples)

Food & Wine announces the 2015 Sommeliers of the Year.

“Every state, including Alaska, boasts at least a couple of wineries…But the Lone Star State has taken to wine with characteristic swagger.” In the Wall Street Journal, Ana Campoy explains how Texas farmers are turning to grapes as the state’s wine industry grows.

In Wine Spectator, Ben O’Donnell attends an “illuminating” seminar at the IPOB tasting that showed the importance of learning from your failures in winemaking. “I imagine winemakers shoot the shit about these things with each other, over beers, privately: Groaning about missing their ideal picking dates; kicking themselves for an oak regimen that didn’t work out.”

W. Blake Gray explores what “Gran Selezione” means for Chianti Classico in Palate Press.

“Germany has the third largest amount of pinot noir planted, trailing only France and the United States.” Tyler Colman reports directly from ProWein.

Where does San Francisco rank among world wine cities?” asks W. Blake Gray on his blog.

Dorothy Gaiter chats with winemaker Paul Hobbs about Malbec, the Finger Lakes, and his journey into wine in Grape Collective.

Elsewhere in Grape Collective, Rachael Doob profiles Alder Yarrow.

In Wine Searcher, Alfonso Cevola charts Barolo experts’ vineyard classifications to find the region’s best sites.

Daily Wine News: A Step Forward

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-16-2015

Winegrowers in Romania, 1940 (Wikimedia)

Winegrowers in Romania, 1940 (Wikimedia)

In the Guardian, David Williams looks at the resurgence of wine industries in Bulgaria and Romania. “Retailers are much more willing to list wines from this part of the world than they have been in years – and that in itself is a step forward after the dark days of the 1990s and 2000s.”

Jancis Robinson looks at the results of climate change on the wine industry. “For us wine drinkers the most striking has been the rise in alcohol levels…Who wants to drink a wine that can offer little other than alcohol?”

“It turns out one of Napa Valley’s best places to learn about wine doesn’t even require a glass.” Jon Bonné highlights the Napa Valley Wine Library in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In Wine Spectator, Bruce Sanderson talks Dolcetto, Barolo, and high altitude vineyards with Giuseppe Vaira of G.D. Vajra.

“How much is a $10 bottle of wine really worth? $2.40,” reports Tyler Colman in Wine Searcher.

Megy Karydes selects the best “green” wines for St. Patrick’s Day in Forbes.

According to Decanter, Priorat wineries are facing a “shortage of grapes.”

“Wine headache? Chances are it’s not the sulfites,” says Lettie Teague in the Wall Street Journal.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre suggests wines that will make you believe it’s spring.

Wine Reviews: Bila-Haut

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-15-2015

The Roussillon region of France is full of value. Refreshing rosés, bright whites, saucy reds and rich sweet wines (vins doux naturels), the adventurous consumer has a lot of options.

Some of the most widely available bottles come from a Michel Chapoutier project named Bila-Haut. When I first caught the wine bug in the early-2000s, I remember being attracted to these wines based on their interesting labels and low price points. And the juice was good, too.

I recently tasted through a bunch of new Bila-Haut releases and was impressed with their across-the-board quality and value. At $27, the high-end cuvee, Occultum Lapidem, is really worth seeking out for the cellar.

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

Daily Wine News: Breaking Through

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-13-2015

Can Brunello match the charms of Bordeaux?

Can Brunello match the charms of Bordeaux? (Wikimedia)

There’s a feeling that a wave of commercial success is about to hit Italy’s Montalcino region. But can Brunello break through the mainstream like Bordeaux? In the Wall Street Journal, Will Lyons admits he’s not convinced.

Elsewhere in the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague profiles wine importer Michael Riahi and his wife, Gayle Martin, who runs a cheese shop.

Christopher Barnes chats with Coleman Cooney of Los Pilares about pre-industrial winemaking and San Diego terroir in Grape Collective.

According to Wines & Vines, grape growers in Oregon and Washington report early season, weeks ahead of schedule.

This week, Eric Asimov takes a break from wine to cover the Renaissance American lagers are enjoying.

Over the last half century sake has gone through a process of standardization that has limited its range of flavors. In Punch, Nancy Matsumoto reports on the breweries now looking to flower yeasts in the hopes of revitalizing the industry.

A German Pinot upstages Riesling at a wine auction at Rheingau’s Kloster Eberbach winery. The wine was a 1935 Assmanshäuser Höllenberg Spätburgunder.

In Wine Searcher, a Q&A with Olivier Paultes, the director of distillation for Hennessy.

In Vine Pair, Adam Teeter shares how two families turned Australia into America’s biggest wine brand, aka “The Yellow Tail Story.”

Daily Wine News: Blowback

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-12-2015

Are sommeliers in San Francisco really "lost"? (Flickr: Matthieu Aubry)

Are sommeliers in San Francisco really “lost”? (Flickr: Matthieu Aubry)

Alder Yarrow thinks Jon Bonné’s article (in which Bonné suggested that San Francisco’s wine scene is on the decline) “seems like a quick lesson in how to piss off a lot of sommeliers.”

In the Napa Valley Register, county officials tackle wine industry growth concerns, including “the perception that too many wineries are becoming glitzy event centers that overshadow agriculture, generate too much traffic and us too much groundwater.”

In Wine Spectator, James Laube examines the struggle between prosperity and quality of life in Napa.

Château Smith Haut Lafitte has teamed up with bottled water company Perrier to “sex up Sauternes,” reports Adam Lechmere in Wine Searcher.

In Bloomberg, Mendoza Governor Francisco Perez says Argentina’s Mendoza must change bulk wine production.

“Fruit wines…aren’t very popular in California,” says Mike Dunne in the Sacramento Bee. “But this might be the year that that intolerance begins to shift.”

Joe Roberts wants wine producers to stop shoving wine scores in his face.

Becca Yeamans-Irwin, the Academic Wino, breaks down a scientific study on minerality in wines. “The results…suggest to me that perhaps minerality is just a simple term to describe a complex sensory beast.”

Wine Enthusiast celebrates “Sicily’s Top Wine Regions.”

Daily Wine News: Drinking Like Da Vinci

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-11-2015

The vineyard given to Da Vinci, photographed in the 1920s (Source: Fondazione Piero Portaluppi)

The vineyard given to Leonardo da Vinci, photographed in the 1920s (Source: Fondazione Piero Portaluppi)

“I think that the en primeurs market – except in a great, great vintage – is largely moribund, it is largely dead, for now,” Robert Parker told the Drinks Business.

“Italian experts using genetic testing in bid to produce the same crisp white wine that Leonardo da Vinci enjoyed from his Milan estate 500 years ago,” reports Nick Squires in the Telegraph. He was given the vineyard in 1499 as payment for the painting of “The Last Supper.”

In Wine Spectator, Ben O’Donnell talks to Stéphane Derenoncourt about making wine in war-torn Syria.

Winebow founder Leonardo LoCascio is retiring. Elsewhere in Wine Spectator, Bruce Sanderson looks at his career.

In the Washington Post, after attending last month’s Premier Napa Valley, Dave McIntyre finds that many Napa winemakers are trying to return their cabernets to the restrained elegance of the 1970s.

In the Science Times, a group of researchers have suggested that drinking wine makes you more attractive. (But, I’m sure you already knew that.)

After writing a piece for Murmur, Mike Veseth, the wine economist, wonders what wine tourism can learn from food.

Alfonso Cevola offers “solid advice for Italians looking to entre the US market and a primer on Italian wine for young sommeliers.”

In Grape Collective, Rachael Doob profiles Robert P. Koch, president of the Wine Institute.

Movie Review: Idaho Wine: From Bud to Taste Bud

Posted by | Posted in Movie Reviews | Posted on 03-10-2015

Washington, Oregon… Idaho? Pacific Northwest wine has long been dominated by two states, but they may soon be joined by a third. Known more for spuds than Syrah, Idaho is making a bid to join the conversation on quality wine. Idaho Wine: From Bud to Taste Bud is a newly released documentary that chronicles the history and current state of Idaho winemaking.

Idaho WineIdaho Wine has all the things we have come to expect from a modern documentary: catchy music, some animated graphics (although too many Galileo quotes for my taste), and varied camerawork (including time-lapse sequences and a few haunting shots of frozen vineyards).

It also does what a documentary about a relatively unknown wine region should do. It gives an overview of the enological history (which dates to the mid-1800s), details the terroir and common varietals (Syrah, Pinot, Mourvedre, et al.), and marries it all with vignettes about the grape growers and winemakers themselves. Especially interesting are the stories of journeyman Idahoans like Dick Symms and Jim Mertz of Symms Fruit Ranch and Bill Stowe of Indian Creek Winery. The younger generation of winemakers is well represented too. I was intrigued by Martin Fujishin’s experimental style at Fujishin Family Cellars, as well as the duo at Clearwater Canyon Cellars who live on $24,000 a year and have never been happier.

While watching Idaho Wine, I couldn’t help but think of American Wine Story, another recent documentary, which I reviewed several months ago. Both films have a uniquely American essence and aesthetic. They both call to mind images of early America, wild and ripe for those willing to take risks. If American Wine Story reminds us that a pioneering spirit is the heart of American winemaking, then Idaho Wine shows that that spirit is still being tested on new frontiers.

If there is a central theme to Idaho Wine, it is that of community. The winemakers, the growers, and the consumers: they are a proud, tight-knit group — by necessity. Without a nationally established reputation for quality wine, word-of-mouth and community-organized events like outdoor tastings and farmers’ markets are the primary drivers of success. I get the sense that the winemaking environment in Idaho is that of a collaborative community in which everyone is cheering for each other, sharing knowledge, and contributing to a momentum that they hope will elevate Idaho wine to national significance.

Although Idaho appears to have the infrastructure for becoming a wine destination — including distinct microclimates, several established wine districts with tours, and AVAs with branding-friendly names like Snake River Valley and Lewis-Clark Valley — I am still not exactly sure what makes Idaho wine (i.e., the wine itself) unique. Is the Lewis-Clark Valley turning out killer Pinot? Will the Snake River Valley make us rethink Mourvedre’s status as a blending varietal? The only way to find out is to taste.

At just over an hour, Idaho Wine asks only a small investment of your time. But the ROI is pretty good. You’ll get a solid (but by no means exhaustive) overview of this emerging wine state. You’ll also come to realize, as I have, that there are stories like this everywhere, in every state. Personally, I can’t wait to hear them!

Idaho Wine: From Bud to Taste Bud premiered at the Sun Valley Film Festival, March 4-8, 2015. Screenings outside of Idaho are not yet available, but the trailer can be viewed here, and DVDs are available here.

Daily Wine News: Natural Nuances

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-10-2015

Mixed feelings on natural wine (Flickr: piker77)

Mixed feelings on natural wine (Flickr: piker77)

“I love the idea of natural wines,” admits Harvey Steiman in Wine Spectator, but he believes the faults of “natural wines” are too often given a pass.

In Punch, Aaron Ayscough on a new era of Czech winemaking. “A Prague wine bar has become a hub for the first new natural wine scene to emerge on the international market since the late 2000s.”

Kristen Bateman catches up with Jessica Certo of Del Frisco and Laura Maniec of Corkbuzz in Harper’s Bazaar, calling them “Two Women Changing the Wine Industry.”

“In theory, making pinot gris like a red wine should make something that tastes very much like pinot noir, even if it’s the wrong color, and vice-versa for making pinot noir like a white.” In Palate Press, Erica Szymanski wants to “end pinot racism.”

Tyler Colman pens “The Wine Destination Guide to Manhattan” for Wine Searcher.

Chris Broomell of Vesper Vineyards discusses the unique history of wine in San Diego in Grape Collective.

New Zealand’s wine exports hit a new high record last year, rising 8.2 percent, reports Decanter.

Wine Folly details the 7 regions that define New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

In Condé Nast Traveler, Krisanne Fordham thinks Montefalco is “Italy’s best “new” wine region.”