Wine Reviews: Arizona Wines from Aridus

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-03-2017

uVESaUeSc5MSZLpKUY5RWYs5hVFWcG9oKYNo_cSkmBopX92IBScott and Joan Dahmner founded Aridus in 2012 in Wilcox, Arizona. Their winery, whose name is a derivation of the Latin word for dry or arid, sources grapes from about 40 acres of estate vineyards (which rests at 5,200 feet in elevation). They also crush grapes from other vineyards in Arizona, and some grapes from New Mexico and California.

Built in a re-purposed apple warehouse, the Aridus winery produces a dizzying array of wines, everything form a New Mexico Pet-Nat Malvasia Bianca to Cochise County, Arizona Syrah and Malbec.

2017 marked the fifth vintage for this winery, and the first year their estate vineyard yielded white wines (Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Malvasia Bianca). This ambitious effort is another good example of what I see in the evolving face of Arizona wine. I find Arizona to be a dynamic scene full of exciting producers and diverse, delicious wines.

Why Arizona? “Hot days, cool nights, minerality in the soil,” Proprietor Scott Dahmer says. “I believe Arizona is the next up and coming grape growing region which will produce unique, world-class delicious wines.” (For more details on my Arizona wine country jaunts, and why I tend to agree with Scott’s strong statement, check out this piece I wrote earlier this year.)

I received these wines as trade samples and tasted them sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-02-2017

This week I have another catch-all report, sourced from various samples received from wine regions around the world. The stars of the show for me are the Don Melchor, which is true to form and so suave, and a killer Merlot from McLaren Vale’s Hickinbotham. Oh, and Spanish producer Arinzano makes another appearance. We also have some more budget-friendly wines from France, Spain and Italy.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: The New Wine Rules, by Jon Bonné

Posted by | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 12-01-2017

The New Wine Rules - CoverIn naming his book The New Wine Rules, Jon Bonné has essentially asserted the authority of his own line in the sand. But hey, someone has to do it. Because in a world of 24-hour opinion sharing, sometimes we need to hit the pause button, collect ourselves, and establish basic guidance for those who, amidst so much noise and so little objectivity, are just trying to enjoy a bottle of wine.

We need, in Bonné’s words, a “framework for embracing this weird, wonderful wine world that we get to live in.”

There’s something for everyone in Bonné’s book, which consists of 89 rules. But it will be especially helpful for beginner wine folks in need of a confidence boost—the two words I think best capture the sentiment of the book. From the five essential wine tools you should own, to the basics of malolactic fermentation, to starting a wine collection for under $300, you’ll get practical information, concisely presented.

Bonné has an impressive resume: senior contributing editor at Punch, author of The New California Wine, wine consultant for JetBlue Airways, and former wine editor and chief wine critic at the San Francisco Chronicle. But he won’t overwhelm you with knowledge. Each rule is pared down for quick consumption and broad understanding.

I particularly enjoy Bonné’s aggressive attempts to wrest wine from a past marked by pretentiousness and exclusivity—“Screw that. Fear was the guiding principle of the past. We’re officially done. Wine is too great a thing to be limited by fear”—and a present drowning in an abundance of choices—“Endless fretting takes place over this simple question: what do I drink with what I eat? … In any case, stop worrying. There is no single perfect pairing. Drink what you like. … We’ll all get out of this alive.”

The New Wine Rules is a sharp book. It’s small (roughly 5”x7”) with a stitched binding and full of crisp, colorful diagrams and pictogram-like illustrations.

My Recommendation
As Bonné says, “Certainly the world doesn’t need another ‘drink this, not that’ book.” I think he’s succeeded in giving us something else: an expert’s compilation of practical advice for the average drinker who wants to talk intelligently with friends and make semi-educated choices for Friday nights and special occasions. It’s an ideal read heading into holiday party season. On that note, I’ll leave you with Rules 81 and 82: “Don’t be the guest who brings the cheap stuff” and “Don’t assume your bottle will get opened.”

Daily Wine News: Sparkling & Sweetness

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-01-2017

Flickr, Jérôme-.

Flickr, Jérôme-.

Dosage isn’t all about sweetness, says Peter Liem in Wine & Spirits Magazine. “Rather, the importance of dosage in Champagne lies in its intricate interaction with other elements of the wine… dosage functions much like salt: We don’t necessarily add salt to a dish to make it salty, but to enhance our perception of other flavors.”

SodaStream has introduced a sparkling wine product. According to a press release, the latest addition to the DIY soda line is a “fine alcoholic concentrate” called “Sparkling Gold” and essentially allows SodaStream owners to turn tap water into a sparkling wine that has “the taste of a fruity Riesling wine.” (Sparkling Gold is currently only available in Germany.)

Does a better glass for Champagne exist? In Meininger’s, Felicity Carter contemplates a new glass invention, the “Synergy” glass.

In Decanter, Jane Anson reports on how the Bordeaux 2017 vintage is shaping up.

Are the reputations of the world’s “great” wines based on simple class snobbery? Oliver Styles explores the answer in Wine-Searcher.

In Forbes, Cathy Huyghe talks to Pascaline Lepeltier about what will shape the future of the wine industry,

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov recommends five wine books to gift this holiday.

In SevenFifty Daily, Vicki Denig explores the pros and cons of shelf talkers.

Daily Wine News: Bubbly & Beyond

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-30-2017

(Source: Charles Heidsieck)

In the World of Fine Wine, Anthony Rose is granted access to the collection of old Champagnes stored beneath Charles Heidsieck’s Reims headquarters.

Aaron Goldfarb delves into the strange history of drinking bubbly from women’s shoes in VinePair.The strange, once-popular practice is said to be of Russian origin, dating back to the late 19th century… Drinking from a shoe eventually spread to other countries, footwear, and beverages.”

W. Blake Gray takes a look at Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wines list. “Basically, the Wine Enthusiast list reads like its critics get in a room and fight for their favorites, which are all over the map… But it also represents the way the modern wine world actually is.”

Andrea Frost writes her final column for “Looking back to February 2015, it’s hard to believe it’s the same world in which I wrote my first article. The transformation has been gargantuan.”

In SB Nation, Tim Cato looks at LeBron James’ taste in wine based on bottles he has posted on Instagram.

In Meininger’s, Felicity Carter speaks to the founders of Wine Mosaic, which wants to change how heavily the world of wine relies on a handful of grapes.

Not Drinking Poison in Paris’s Aaron Ayscough offers an update from Paris, where he has been managing a restaurant called Chez La Vieille and working to sell a book about the wines of Beaujolais.

Bert Celce shares a report from this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau Day in Paris.

Daily Wine News: Abruzzo’s New Age

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-29-2017

Montepulciano grapes in Abruzzo. (Wikimedia)

Montepulciano grapes in Abruzzo. (Wikimedia)

In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto meets the pioneers inspiring a new generation of winemaking in Abruzzo. “Year by year, this wild, sparsely populated and earthquake-prone region of central Italy is making more wines worthy of attention.”

In Grape Collective, Dorothy Gaiter reviews Jon Bonné’s new book and explains why some wine writing today reminds her of a Woody Allen movie. “Why are any new rules better than old rules? Isn’t the idea to get away from wine rules?

Meg Houston Maker considers what sets Tavel apart from other rosés. “If Provence rosé is spring, Tavel is autumn, even winter—a pink-hued wine for fireside (not seaside)… Stylistically and gastronomically, Tavel feels like a drink unto itself—a fourth wine, and not to be taken lightly.”

Netherlands and Belgium to gain cross-border Protected Designation Origin (PDO), according to Lauren Eads in the Drinks Business. “With regards to wine, it will cover red and white wines produced using grapes including Acolon, Pinot Noir, Chardonmay, Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Dornfelder and Gewurztraminer.”

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray retests the Coravin screwcap extension.

In Wine Enthusiast. Roger Voss delves into the magic of Blanc de Blancs Champagne.

Condé Nast Traveler is encouraging zinfandel lovers to travel to Croatia.

What’s ahead for wine tourism in Mendoza? Mike Veseth, the wine economist, investigates.

Daily Wine News: Defending the Flute

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-28-2017

champagnetoastIn Wine Enthusiast, Jameson Fink stands up for the Champagne flute. “While flute haters concede that its shape is ideal for bubble promotion, their main gripe is it “stifles” Champagne’s scent… It will remain in my head, and my heart, as the preeminent pleasure-giver. After all, it’s not really about swirling and sniffing, just drinking and enjoying.”

Robert Parker Wine Advocate announces new reviewers for 2018: William Kelley will cover the regions of Burgundy, Chablis, Beaujolais, California Central Coast and Washington State; and Lisa Perrotti-Brown will cover Bordeaux.

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Josh Greene drives to Storybook Mountain Vineyards a month after the wildfire, following the path of the fire from Santa Rosa back to Tubbs Lane.

Jancis Robinson contemplates Christmas wines. “They should be very good – better than most people round the table drink usually – but, with big numbers, small children, tantrums, and candles constituting fire hazards, this is not the time for the grandest of wines…”

In Bon Appétit, Marissa A. Ross talks to Lou Amdur, owner of LA’s Lou Wine Shop, about selling natural wine.

Wine directors from around the country discuss how they structure their wine lists in SevenFifty Daily.

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford puts the Languedoc’s pioneer cru under the spotlight.

Cathy Huyghe considers the top wine stories of 2017 in Forbes.

Daily Wine News: Labeling Questions

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-27-2017

(Flickr: Daniel Gasienica)

(Flickr: Daniel Gasienica)

In SevenFifty Daily, Andrew Kaplan talks to wine industry experts about whether wine labels should be more transparent, revealing when common additives are used.

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Patricio Tapia reports on new terroir-specific labeling proposed in Priorat. “These new regulations will allow producers to label their wines with the names of the towns of origin or the vineyards from which they come… In the past, Spanish wine legislation focused on what happens in the winery, with aging requirements for designations such as Crianza or Reserva.”

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov offers notes on the most recent wine school, Savennières, and announces what’s up next: Amontillado.

Elsewhere in the New York Times, John Leland looks at how Someecards rolled out a line of wines called SomeWine to survive after Facebook changed its algorithm.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre shares his thoughts on three new wine books: The New Wine Rules by Jon Bonné, Peter Liem’s Champagne, and In Vino Duplicitas by Peter Hellman.

In Purple Pages, Richard Hemming offers a comprehensive guide to wines from the 2016 vintage in the Rhône Valley.

Alfonso Cevola offers insight into how to sell Italian wine to the U.S. market.

In Wine-Searcher, Liza B. Zimmerman reports on how California wine country is still hurting after the fires.

Wine Reviews: New Releases from California & Washington

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 11-25-2017

Thanksgiving is over — whew! So, now we can talk about something besides wine and Thanksgiving dinner pairings, right? OK, good.

It’s been a busy fall samples season, and I’m still digging out, but I’ve been receiving a ton of California wines (which make up the bulk of this report) and want to highlight some good stuff.

This week includes some wines from Lake County institution Jeb Steele, who always manages to release impressive varietal wines, from various California appellations, for seriously good prices. I also have some delicious Zinfandels from Quivira, Ironstone, and Grgich Hills, sparklers from Mumm, and a few other wines from across the state. Lastly, I received three wines from Washington State producer Mercer, which I had not tried before, but found them very tasty.

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

Daily Wine News: The Experience

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-22-2017

(Flickr: pedrosimoes7)

(Flickr: pedrosimoes7)

In Wine Spectator, Matt Kramer wants to know what the need for an experience with wine is all about. “It’s no longer enough, as it surely once was, for wine to simply be a refreshing accompaniment to your meal. Is this a loss? Yes. But nevertheless, it’s so.”

LVMH, whose brands include Louis Vuitton and Dom Perignon, buys majority stake in Napa Valley’s Colgin Cellars.

A store in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park sold wine produced by the Trump Winery as recently as September, reports Timothy Cama in The Hill.

In VinePair, Vicki Denig looks at how field blends exude terroir.

In Quartz, John Capone Visits Parallel Products in California, which turns wine into fuel-grade ethanol on a large scale.

In Bon Appétit, Marissa A. Ross recommends Banyuls, a dessert wine, for Thanksgiving.

On Tim Atkin’s site, satirist Ron Washam pens a blind review of Jon Bonné’s The New Wine Rules. “Having not read it, I can tell you there’s nothing new in it. Nothing. I promise. I say that because there isn’t anything new to say about wine.”

Gowri Chandra considers the 5 mistakes people make when drinking Champagne in Food & Wine.

In Decanter, Stephen Brook offers a look into the 2013 Brunello vintage.