Daily Wine News: Exquisite Mystery

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-17-2014

Clos_de_Tart“Why the wines are so exquisite is a mystery that’s vexed viticulturists and geologists for centuries.” Will Lyons visits Clos de Tart.

“The name may be delightfully easy to spell and pronounce, but it is its distinctively sultry wines that are so memorable.” Jancis Robinson praises the wines of Etna.

“As Niagara Peninsula vintners are quick to point out, their region is on a lower latitude than is Burgundy and other cool-climate regions in Europe.” In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague visits Canada.

Steve Heimoff concludes that “America is more of a wine-drinking country than it has ever been, and real wine-drinking countries don’t need critics to tell them what to drink.”

In the Napa Valley Register, Dan Berger profiles Tom Eddy, “an insider’s hero” in California wine.

“In case you’ve forgotten just how archaic and screwed up the laws concerning alcohol are in this lovely country,” Alder Yarrow can point you to a few recent stories.

In Wine Searcher, James Lawrence chats with Stéphanie de Boüard of Château Angélus.

In the New Yorker, Sarah Larson visits Aldo Sohm Wine Bar.

In the Village Voice, Lauren Mowery chats with Macari Vineyards on Long Island about this year’s harvest.

Wine Reviews: Cali Cabs & Merlots

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 11-15-2014

Since our last report on California Cabernets, we’ve received a lot of goodies, and some solid Merlots as well. Unsurprisingly, Napa steals the show, but this report features some impressive wines from other regions as well.

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

Daily Wine News: Drug Syndicate

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-14-2014

Flickr, Clearly Ambiguous.

Flickr, Clearly Ambiguous.

“One of the three brothers who transformed Yellow Tail wines into one of the great Australian export success stories has been charged over his alleged involvement in a major drug syndicate.” Nick Ralston reports on the Sydney Morning Herald.

Wine law attorney John Trinidad comments on the news that California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control reprimanded Revolution Wines for tweeting about a wine event.

“While Bordeaux scratches its head over how to rekindle interest in its wines, one young winemaker is taking an almost sacrilegious approach – by making Chardonnay.” Wine-Searcher has the details.

In Wine-Searcher, Adam Lechmere chats with Australian vintner Tom Barry.

“While appellations are inherently imperfect — terroir is made by nature, appellations drawn by man — would it really be better to draw no lines at all?” Mitch Frank defends the decision by vintners in Paso Robles to pursue 11 new American Viticultural Areas within their existing appellation.

In Palate Press, Simon Woolf explains why “wine is more than just a product.”

In Reign of Terroir, Ken Payton visits “Hans-Peter Schmidt, the first winegrower in Europe, if not the world, to have begun experimentation with biochar in his Domaine Mythopia vineyards located in the Valais region of Switzerland.”

Steve Heimoff thinks about minerality.

“As there’s no shower attachment for the bath, and so no opportunity to rinse myself off, I have no option but to dry myself on — and thus ruin — my week-old set of expensive fluffy towels.” Daily Mail reporter Kate Battersby bathes in red wine.

Daily Wine News: Look to Champagne

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-13-2014

IMG_20141112_181156“As with the Champenois, the Burgundians have shown that embracing change doesn’t require casting aside one’s identity or traditions — that a spirit of progress and a willingness to innovate can be the best means of preserving a way of life.” In Wine-Searcher, Mike Steinberger explains why “the rest of France should take note” of Burgundy and Champagne.

Jonathan Lipsmeyer discovers a game that’s “crack for French oenophiles.” Play it. Trust me.

According to Don Kavanagh, “next year’s Bordeaux en primeur campaign could be the last, if châteaux refuse to accept market realities and drop prices.”

Steen Öhman reports on a visit to Domaine Leflaive.

“While it might be tempting for them to make stars of their own wines, Rahn, Armstrong and Cowin all tell me they’d be too self-conscious to do so.” In the Oregonian, Katherine Cole writes about the advent of the sommelier-winemaker.

“It’s inside the foudres and bottles that counts though—as pure an expression of sanguine and iron-driven Syrah as you’ll find.” James Molesworth goes “Back to an Old-School Cornas Cellar.”

Elsewhere in Wine Spectator, Harvey Steiman catches up with Jacques Pépin.

With #TempranilloDay upon us, Tom Natan thinks it’s time for “a special designation for wine holidays dreamed up by marketers that have no historical basis.”

“There’s something about challenging, tough harvests. It makes you dig deep inside and ask what is important.” Alfonso Cevola reflects on “the toughest harvest in years.”

In Serious Eats, Stacey Gibson offers some Thanksgiving wine advice.

Alder Yarrow attends a Champagne tasting put on by the Institute for the Masters of Wine.

Want to drink better coffee? Treat it like wine.

White Rioja and Red Sancerre

Posted by | Posted in Grape Adventures | Posted on 11-12-2014

White Rioja on ice at an event 07/2013

White Rioja on ice at an event in NYC, 07/2013

The joy of discovery and the unexpected is one of the great delights in drinking wine.

Rioja typically conjures up images of luscious, oak-aged red wines made from Tempranillo. And, of course, Sancerre immediately brings to mind refreshing, lively, and mineral-driven white wines. Rightly so given that 85% of wines made in Rioja are red and 80% of the volume in Sancerre is white.

However, both Rioja and Sancerre have fun surprises in terms of their lesser known, respective white and red counterparts.

White Rioja

As the prevalence of Rioja wines grows in the U.S. (45% increase in Rioja exports over the last three years, according to Vibrant Rioja), consumers may see more and more white varietals on the market. Be prepared: there is a vast amount of diversity among the whites of the region – ranging from mellow and lightly herbal to powerful and smoky.

I attended a tasting of Riojas Blancos sponsored by Vibrant Rioja and discovered whites across the style spectrum. Some are great for lighter fare and some demand weightier and richer dishes of the fall’s cooler months. (Note: The whites of Rioja follow the same categories as the reds with Young, Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva, but with slightly different aging requirements).

Tasting notes of the wines, including a couple white Tempranillos, are below:

  • Muriel Blanco, 2012 Bodegas Muriel, $11/bottle: 100% Viura. Pale colored; lightly herbal with notes of lemon-lime and white peach. Mellow and easy sipping.
  • Dinastia Vivanco Blanco 2012, Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco, $12/bottle: Blend of Viura, Malvasia, and Tempranillo Blanco. Green-tinged and pale; strongly herbaceous and grassy (like “grassy” grassy, if you know what I mean) on the nose. On the palate, apple, sweet herbs, and fresh-cut grass.
  • ‘Inspiracion Vademar” Tempranillo Blanco 2011, Bodegas Valdemar, $23/bottle: 100% Tempranillo. Intense yellow in color; tropical peach, pineapple, and honeysuckle. Papaya, sea salt, and peach cobbler finish.
  • Placet Valtomelloso Blanco 2008, Bodegas Palacio Remondo, $25/bottle: 100% Viura. Reminiscent of oak and smoke on the nose; vanilla cream on the palate held in tension with the grassy, limey characteristics typical of Viura; texturally thick and oily; long finish.
  • Marques de Murrieta Capellania Reserva Blanco 2007, Bodegas Marques de Murrieta, $23/bottle: 100% Viura. The nose gives the impression of a slightly oxidative wine; nutty and waxy on the palate with a salty finish. A little like a Fino Sherry in profile.

Red Sancerre

When there is no Beaujolais to be found, or I should say red Bojo, since the region does make a small amount of white wine (~1% of production), red Sancerre is a lovely alternative. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Right Now

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-12-2014

wine-gifts-wine-trolley-wine-luggage--franmara-sku1650-36Paul Mabray comments on the news that California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control reprimanded Revolution Wines for tweeting about a wine event.

Sophie Barrett reflects on her first day selling wine on the street for Selection Massale.

For the 11th consecutive year, Eric Asimov has Thanksgiving wine recommendations.

“Sometimes the surest path to truly understanding something is to try to make it, to pour one’s self into the nitty-gritty of its creation.” In Grape Collective, Dorothy Gaiter profiles Raj Parr.

Sales of sparkling wine are exploding.

“Winemakers Morgan Twain Peterson and Chris Cottrell are pioneering a sparkling project, called Under the Wire, modeled after grower Champagnes. They create vineyard-designate sparkling wines in conjunction with interested winemakers that, in their words, are ‘unique, delicious and terroir-driven.’” In Forbes, Katie Kelly Bell writes about America’s growers.

In Creative Loafing Atlanta, Brad Kaplan interviews Hardy Wallace and Matt Richardson, aka Dirty & Rowdy.

“Our wines are carefully bottled unfined, unfiltered, and unexpectedly.” The HoseMaster tours a winery with a master sommelier.

Jameson Fink details “Five Unavoidable Realities You Endure at Wine Tastings.”

In the San Jose Mercury News, Jessica Yadegaran profiles Theodora Lee, who grows and produces Petit Sirah and Symphony in Mendocino.

Grub Street names “5 New Wine Bars to Try Right Now.”

Levi Dalton names seven places to “Drink Barolo in New York City Right Now.”

With Priest Ranch, Craig Becker Is Betting On Honesty

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 11-11-2014

Courtesy of Somerston Wine Co.

Courtesy of Somerston Wine Co.

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 profile one of Napa Valley’s most successful winegrowers, Craig Becker. His business plan for a new project is particularly noteworthy, as it relies on nothing more than good grapes and honesty!

With Priest Ranch, Craig Becker Is Betting On Honesty

“No one needs a new wine brand,” explained Craig Becker, a veteran Napa Valley winegrower, over breakfast one recent morning. We were discussing the market for expensive Cabernet Sauvignon.

Even though Napa Valley produces less wine than most people realize — it accounts for just four percent of California’s yield — the region produces plenty of high-end offerings. Napa Valley is home to more than 500 wineries, and the average price for a bottle of “Napa Cab” shipped directly to consumers exceeds $80. Yet Becker is betting that one of his latest projects, Priest Ranch, will thrive.

His blueprint is simple: it relies on good grapes and honesty. Considering Becker’s track record, his plan will almost certainly succeed.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

Daily Wine News: Britain’s Oldest

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

britain“For well over two centuries they have done battle in the British marketplace, but nowadays their immaculately tailored sales teams are just as likely to be jostling for orders in Hong Kong and Singapore too.” Jancis Robinson spends time with the proprietors of Justerini & Brooks and Berry Bros & Rudd, Britain’s two oldest wine merchants.

“The mysterious darkness of her wines is merely the air she breathes every day, the rolling cobbles under her feet in the vineyard, and the sound of her wines quietly resting in their old oak homes.” Alder Yarrow visits Laurence Feraud of Domaine du Pégau.

“Among traditional Barolo producers, Cavallotto has never achieved the cult status of firebrands Bartolo Mascarello or Giuseppe Rinaldi.” But according to Robert Camuto, it “deserves attention.”

“The challenge has been in adapting what he learned to California.” In the Los Angeles Times, S. Irene Virbila profiles Graham Tatomer, “the 36-year-old [who] is making thrilling Riesling under his own Tatomer label in Santa Barbara County.”

“In a region where vintage variation has a strong effect on quality, 2014 might be a Goldilocks year.” In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre contends that “the 2014 vintage will help establish Maryland and Virginia as a world-class wine region.”

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray profiles the “Lodi Native Project,” which brought together six wineries to treat Zinfandel “more like Pinot Noir.”

Andrew Jefford recently visited Limoux. And “it’s still challenging [his] imagination.”

“Though exceptions exist, producers aren’t allowed to promote retailers.” That’s why a recent tweet from Revolution Wines was a “major no-no” for the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Liquor laws are totally insane.

“The building may not be at risk of collapsing, but it’s still uncertain how much it will cost to rehabilitate it, and if that can be accomplished without compromising its historical appearance.” In Wines & Vines, Andrew Adams looks at Napa’s ongoing recovery from the August earthquake, with a focus on the cleanup at Trefethen.

Daily Wine News: Not Actually News

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-10-2014

According to Zack O’Malley Greenburgarmand-de-brignac-champagne, expert on all things Jay Z, the “news” that Jay Z had purchased Armand de Brignac wasn’t “actually new.”

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov remembers Hubert de Montille.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague explains why wise wine drinkers “pursue the unexpected [and] eschew the tried-and-true.”

Elsewhere, Teague chats with the all-female wine team at Del Frisco’s in Midtown Manhattan.

“For all the aspirations, what’s elusive thus far with Pine Mountain is a sense of distinction in the wines.” In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné visits one of California’s newest AVAs.

In a wonderful video, “Christophe Roumier talks about his land, his family and what makes a great wine.”

The Daily Sip interviews Peter Mondavi, Sr., who turned 100 on Saturday.

“Like so many of the more delicious things in life, you’ll have to seek these out — but you’ll be glad you did.” In the Guardian, Christian Holthausen names “three Swiss wines worth yodelling in the mountains for.”

In Grape Collective, Jameson Fink interviews Josè Rallo of Donnafugata.

A vineyard estate in Beverly Hills just hit the market. The asking price? $195 million.

Pro tip: You can’t make sparkling wine with a SodaStream.”

Wine Reviews: Bordeaux

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 11-08-2014

We get a lot of California Cabernets and Bordeaux blends here at Terroirist, but this week we’re going back to the source. Bordeaux. These aren’t the sought-after big growths but these bottles make up quite a good bargain-hunting list.

The wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Review: 2010 Château de Sours Blanc “La Source” - France, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Contrôlée
SRP: $35
A clear lemon color. Interesting mix of rich fruit (guava, pineapple) and tangy citrus (lime, lemon zest), a hint of mineral and green onion. Tangy on the palate, with a crisp citrus profile. Some guava, honey and nutty notes add richness, but the mineral and saline tones keep it balanced. Lovely freshness to this wine. A blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2009 Château de Malengin - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Montagne-St. Émilion
SRP: $20
Vibrant ruby color. Soft, juicy black cherries and wild blackberries on the nose, also some bay leaf, tobacco and pepper undertones, woven together quite well. On the palate, dusty tannins, some freshness from the acid. Juicy red berry fruit leads to notes of sweet red flowers, some cedar, notes of black pepper and mushroom, a hint of spearmint? Juicy, fresh, probably one to drink over the next three or four years. For $20, a solid wine for sure. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2011 Château Royaumont - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Lalande de Pomerol
SRP: $45
Bold nose of plum cake, currant jam, cedar, smoke and some dusty, earthy notes. On the palate, fleshy plums and tart currants on a firm tannic frame, a balancing act with the fresh acid. The loam and graphite elements are pronounced, and I get touches of bell pepper, bay leaf and dusty earth. Pleasant young, but this is one for the cellar and I’d like to try it in another three to five years. 70% Merlot, 30% Cab Franc. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2011 Château La Pointe - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
SRP: $33
Nose shows vibrant berries, red currants, violets, loam and some tobacco. Silky on the palate with tart red and black currants all over the place and fine but firm tannins. Notes of roses, coffee and graphite add complexity. A bright personality, fresh and inviting, but could develop and settle in the cellar. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2011 Château Moulin Riche - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
SRP:$56
Dark ruby colored. On the nose, blackberries and black currants abound, mixing in with some cedar, incense sticks, dried violets and roasted coffee. On the palate, this is plummy and dark berry-driven with dusty tannins and medium acid. Lots of roasted coffee, pencil lead, cedar and loamy soil. Some violets, tobacco and crushed granite as well with a long, pretty finish. Needs time to unwind for sure, but a very solid blend of 71% Cab and 29% Merlot. (90 points IJB)

Review: 2004 Château Canon - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Canon-Fronsac
Medium garnet colored, a bit of bricking at the edges. Smells of red currants covered with sun-dried tomatoes, roses, rhubarb and pickles. Fresh acid on the palate, the tannins are quite strong. Tart currants and cherries meet earth, dust, tobacco and rich soil. Underling notes of iron and mineral. A hint of sweet herbal spice on the finish. A lot of stories to tell now, but still holding up and could age more. 100% Merlot. (89 points IJB)