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
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)

Big News! The Everything Wine Book

Posted by | Posted in Terroirist | Posted on 11-07-2014

Adobe Photoshop PDFBaseball cards. Stamps. Barbie dolls. Coins. You name it, and you’ll find a dedicated group of obsessives. Those who love wine are no different — they’ll brag about their collections, trade old and rare bottles, and forever pursue perfection.

Until 2007, I assumed that wine fanatics were crazy. Sure, I enjoyed wine, but it was simply a drink.

And then I put my nose in a glass of Syrah from Failla. Something clicked. And at that moment, I became obsessed. I promptly dove into the world of wine, planning trips, taking classes, attending tastings, and reading every wine publication I could find.

I wish I’d had The Everything Wine Book. The latest edition was officially released today, and it offers a comprehensive introduction to wine. Plus, it was revised and updated by me! So please pick up a copy!

Weekly Interview: Dan Fishman

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 11-07-2014

Dan Fishman

Dan Fishman

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Dan Fishman, the owner and winemaker at Hatton Daniels Wine Cellars.

Dan did not grow up in the wine industry. It was by chance in college that he took Wine Appreciation 101 and feel in love. Now, a decade or so later, Dan makes wine not only at Hatton Daniels, but also at Donum Estate.

Below, Dan tells us about dropping out of a PhD Program in Psychology to work harvest, about how working retail shaped his winemaking philosophy, and about making a name for yourself as a new winemaker.

Check out our interview with Dan below the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: California Conundrum

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-07-2014

2000px-Flag_of_California.svg“When the Letts’ wine came in second in this rematch — just two-tenths of a point behind a 1959 Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny — the world took notice and a struggling local industry took off.” In Willamette Week, Richard Meeker explains how Becky Wasserman played a critical role in the development of Oregon Pinot.

In Esquire, Aldo Sohm offers “8 tips for drinking fantastic wine.”

Ray Isle share some tips on “How Not to Get Ripped Off on a Restaurant Wine List.”

“The California conundrum of too much sun and not enough acidity has so far largely kept it from achieving the balance and brightness in the glass wine geeks love.” Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka chats with Michael Cruse about his efforts to “make a California sparkling wine with all that entails.”

With the release of Barolo Boys, a documentary, and Barolo and Barbaresco, a book by Kerin O’Keefe, Italian wine is in the spotlight.

From Tim Atkin, “10 Things Every Wine Lover Should Know About La Rioja Alta.”

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray chats with John Shafer.

“With the Space Shuttle Red, I was introduced to the passion of the people behind the wines, people whose stories I knew I wanted to learn, and eventually get a chance to tell.” MaryAnn Worobiec fell in love with wine in the Finger Lakes.

Tom Natan reflects on seven years of wine blogging — and notes that his most popular post is about sulfites in wine.

Grape Collective profiles Tim Gaiser.

In Vice, a bartender explains what it’s like to “watch your awkward Tinder date.”

Daily Wine News: 99 Problems

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-06-2014

armand-de-brignac-champagneJay-Z has purchased Armand de Brignac Champagne.

According to Levi Dalton, “Italian wine in New York long suffered a dearth of sommeliers.” But fortunately, he has found a new “generation of Italian wine proponents.”

From Wine-Searcher: “The number of wines given a perfect 100 points by Robert Parker and his fellow Wine Advocate critics stands at more than 500, and the list is growing with exponential speed.”

“Bordeaux’s finest winemakers have been hurt by the Chinese Communist Party’s quest to restore discipline and fight corruption among its ranks, which has led to a campaign to stamp out gift giving and extravagant official spending.” The Washington Post reports.

In Decanter, Yohan Castaing reports that “Sylvain Pitiot, the long-standing manager and technical director of Clos de Tart in Burgundy, is set to step down at the end of the year.”

To celebrate their World Series victory, the San Francisco Giants opened 130 cases of Mumm Napa’s Brut Prestige.

“The successful wine writer always puts wine on a pedestal, speaks of it in mystical tones. Naturally, one also has to be on that pedestal in order to know about wine, to understand it.” Ron Washam explains “how to become a succesful wine writer.”

The team behind Pearl & Ash is opening a new restaurant on the Bowery. Called Rebelle, they’re “bringing Daniel Eddy of popular Paris restaurant Spring to New York to open the restaurant next spring.”

Before the Bubbles: Still Pinot from Veuve Clicquot

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 11-05-2014

It’s painful to say this, but I’ve never visited Champagne. It’s high on my list but, alas, my Champagne experience comes only from sipping flutes. So I was excited to attend a wine dinner with one of Veuve Clicquot’s winemakers, Pierre Casenave, at Boss Shepherd in Washington, DC.

Clos ColinsmallOf course, the menu featured lots of bubbles — the orange label brut, the non-vintage rosé, the 2004 rosé and the tête de cuvée La Grande Dame — but I was most excited by the still red wines. Rarely bottled or sold, these Coteaux Champenois reds offer a unique peek into the terroir-translating power of Pinot Noir.

Pierre, who joined Veuve Clicquot in 2008, is part of a team of winemakers and tasting panelists who work together under chef de caves Dominique Demarville to craft the different house blends. At this tasting, Pierre focused on the different Pinot Noirs that are blended into the higher-end cuvées. These 2013 vintage still reds came from Verzy and Bouzy, both Pinot-heavy Grand Cru vineyards in the Montagne de Reims region.

I asked Pierre about the difference between Verzy and Bouzy in terms of their terroir imprint for Pinot. He said Verzy is “impacted more by minerality” and provides a fresher, brighter approach. Bouzy is more about depth, structure and spice. But, Pierre cautioned, the vintage is everything. “What’s true one year is completely false the next year.” In addition to the Verzy and Bouzy, we also tasted the Clos Colin. Pierre produced only six barrels of the Clos Colin, a select parcel within Bouzy that is blended into La Grande Dame.

When it comes to Pinot Noir, Pierre said his job is to avoid bitterness and astringency as the grapes struggle to ripen in the cool Champagne climate. If that’s his goal, I think he succeeded wonderfully in 2013. I found these wines to be fresh, open, inviting and complex, without a trace of anything green or bitter. As I swirled and sniffed the wines extensively, taking in the complex aromas, Pierre chimed in with a disclaimer: “First of all, it’s not meant to be drank as a still wine.” Well, he could’ve fooled me.

The Verzy was brisk, clean and full of fresh red fruit and minerals. The Bouzy had a lot of similar elements, but it was tinged with more floral and tea elements. The Clos Colin was one of the most mineral-centric Pinot Noirs I’ve tasted. It’s an unbelievably stony and complex Pinot with laser-like focus and electric acid, yet an effortless feel on the palate.

At the end of the night, we were served glasses of Cliquot’s orange label brut, Clicquot’s bread and butter bubbly, along with straws. Diners were encouraged to use the straws to stir some of the still red wine into the bubbly and create our own blends.

It’s a fun idea, but I pushed the bubbles aside and continued contemplating the beauty and uniqueness of the still reds.

My tasting notes on the Coteaux Champenois reds and the Grande Dame rosé are posted below. Read the rest of this entry »