Weekly Interview: Jim Close

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 04-22-2016

Jim Close

Jim Close

Every week, as our regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we are featuring Jim Close, the winemaker at Gamble Family Vineyards.

Gamble Family Vineyards was founded in Tom Gamble, a third-generation Napa native. Tom proudly calls himself owner/farmer: one gets the sense that Tom is deeply committed to the land that he works.

Jim joined Gamble Family Vineyards in 2003, after spending a year in Languedoc. Before that, as you’ll read, Jim studied winemaking in the UK, where he grew up in a wine-appreciating family.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Reclaiming Terroir

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-22-2016

Winter on Mount Etna (From Tenuta delle Terre Nere)

Winter on Mount Etna (From Tenuta delle Terre Nere)

“My feeling has increasingly been over the last few years that Bordeaux will never connect with the next generation of wine drinkers in significant numbers until it admits that it lost its way over terroir, and that it is slowly but surely finding its way back.” In Decanter, Jane Anson looks at how Bordeaux is reclaiming its terroir.

In Punch, Jon Bonné on Etna Rosso. “…Etna offers something for everyone: plenty of staunch traditionalists; a few posh types, imposing their sense of style; at least one zany but charismatic super-naturalist to satisfy the whims of that crowd.”

“What drives the natural-wine movement is a sort of combustion reaction between ethics and aesthetics…” In Vogue, Rob Haskell explores the rise of natural wines, and explains why they “are the toast of the cognoscenti.”

Eric Asimov recommends 20 wines for under $20 for spring in the New York Times.

“Foley Family Wines has reached a deal to purchase Stryker Sonoma Winery in Alexander Valley,” reports Wine Spectator.

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray reports on recent California winery purchases.

Yossie Horwitz pens VinePair’s “Official Guide to Kosher Wines For Passover.”

In Food & Wine, Ray Isle chats with Peter Gago of Penfolds about wine and travel.

Daily Wine News: Chenin’s Success

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-21-2016

Chenin Blanc (Wikimedia)

Chenin Blanc (Wikimedia)

Rachel Signer on chenin blanc’s success with sommeliers in Eater. “As more winemakers began to concentrate on quality vineyard management, their wines improved, and it slowly became clear that chenin blanc was one of the world’s most unique and worthy white grapes.”

“As Robert Parker relinquishes Bordeaux tasting at the The Wine Advocate to Neal Martin, does an even greater cult following beckon for his ‘perfect’ 100-point clarets?” The Drinks Business investigates.

Avrid Rosengren, sommelier at Charlie Bird in New York City, has been named Best Sommelier in the World, reports Decanter.

In Vinous, Stephen Tanzer tastes through a vertical tasting of Joseph Phelps Insignia and offers a few thoughts.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, looks at a study that “finds a kind of “Overton” effect in restaurant wine programs and suggests that many restaurants may be leaving money on the table by the way they bind themselves to a particular narrow wine “window.””

In Bloomberg, Neil Weinberg pens a profile of Peter Deutsch and reports on how “Fidelity cheated him out of millions.”

Kerin O’Keefe offers impressions of 2011 Brunellos in Wine Enthusiast.

In Wine Spectator, Thomas Matthews talks with Argentine entrepreneur Alejandro Bulgheroni, who has wine properties on four continents.

Daily Wine News: Terroir & Supersomms

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-20-2016

Is terroir bullshit? Mark Matthews believes so.

Is terroir bullshit? Mark Matthews believes so.

“Comes now yet another book-length agony letter from the wine science establishment declaring how we in the popular press know nothing about wine, and furthermore, how you (and me) in the wine-drinking public don’t know a damned thing either.” Matt Kramer reviews and comments on Mark Matthews’ Terroir and Other Myths of Winegrowing.

“It is almost as unlikely a story as the Jamaican Olympic bob-sled team: young Zimbabweans leaving their country (‘things were bad’) and, after many hardships, re-inventing themselves in an altogether foreign field, as champions of wine, members of the crème de la crème of South Africa’s sommeliers.” For Purple Pages, Erica Platter features Zimbabwe’s Supersomms.

Wine Spectator reports that Washington’s Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has acquired Patz & Hall in Sonoma County.

In the Sacramento Bee, Mike Dunne profiles Michael and Anne Dashe of Dashe Cellars.

Antonio Galloni remembers Denis Malbec in Vinous.

According to Decanter, “Burgundy producers have approved a new ranking system for sparkling wine Crémant de Bourgogne, to include ‘Eminent’ and ‘Grand Eminent’ levels.”

In the New York Times, Paul Post on how New York wineries are using cold-hardy grape varieties developed at Cornell, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Elsewhere in the New York Times, Ligaya Mishan offers insight into what a dinner part at Alice Feiring’s apartment entails. Guests must be “ready to down, in one gulp, all the wine that can fit inside a ram’s horn.”

Daily Wine News: French Wine’s Image

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-19-2016



In Decanter, Andrew Jefford looks at two recent political controversies for French wine, and considers their impact on French wine’s global image.

At Vinitaly, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said, “Our wine is better than French Wine.” Alfonso Cevola comments on the remark, and looks at how far Italian wine is come in the past 40 years.

Alder Yarrow reports on 2013 Burgundy highlights from La Paulée, which “revealed a number of gems, including some wines that delivered exceptional quality at less than stratospheric prices.”

Jackson Family Wines has acquired Oregon’s Penner-Ash Wine Cellars according to Wine Spectator.

Richard Hemming reviews a range of wine label scanning apps for Purple Pages.

In Eater, Daryna Tobey recommends rosés from Washington and Oregon.

In Punch, Kara Newman on how Manischewitz is finding a new audience amongst bartenders for its surprising versatility in drinks.

A Portuguese winery decided to age wine at the bottom of a lake. Chris Matyszczyk tasted it and shares what he thinks.

The Napa Valley Register reports that St. Helena winemaker, and former Latour winemaker Denis Malbec died in a car crash over the weekend. He was 46.

The Daily Mail predicts the prosecco bubble is about to burst as its popularity soars.

And in other news, Hillary Clinton can probably take some credit for the creation of wine ice cream.

Daily Wine News: Wine in China

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-18-2016

Chinese vineyards. (Wikimedia)

Chinese vineyards. (Wikimedia)

Jancis Robinson offers an update on wine trends in China, as well as a report on the quality of Chinese wine. “Among Chinese wine lovers, red burgundy seems all the rage, but the range of wines on wine lists and in stores is very, very much more eclectic than even two years ago – and not all wine is red!”

In Wine-Searcher, James Lawrence discovers California’s new wave of sparkling wine. “In addition, the rise of craft fizz is helping to debunk the long-standing perception that only select sites in Napa and Sonoma are suitable for premium sparkling production. This is of particular importance…”

In Grape Collective, Cristom’s Steve Doerner talks about how Oregon became the center of American Pinot Noir.

In Munchies, Barbara Woolsey delves into the history of the wine, Rotspon.

Bertrand Celce reports on his visit to Domaine Rousset-Peyraguey in Sauternes.

“Chenin Blanc is that magical animal of the wine world,” says Carson Demmond in Food & Wine.

Elsewhere in Food & Wine, James Oliver Cury features the work of a Serbian artist who paints with wine.

“Don Ross, who founded Shibumi Knoll in St. Helena and produced dynamic Chardonnays, died on April 8 at the age of 74,” reports Wine Spectator.

Dave McIntyre on the wide world of Italian white wines beyond pinot grigio in the Washington Post.

Wine Reviews: California Cabernet & Merlot

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-16-2016

This crew of wines included some real beauties. As is usually the case, I find that the best wines aren’t cheap. However, I also find the most expensive aren’t always the ones I like the most.

Of course, it all comes down to personal preference and — when talking about California Bordeaux varietal wines — a lot of it comes down to your tolerance for oak. The Shafer is a massive and oaky steel-toed boot to the palate, but I love it because, somehow, it all comes together. However, I found some other wines with far less new oak tasted overdone and charred.

This report includes wines from four recently available vintages (2010-2013), which reflects tremendous variation in style and aging ability.

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

Daily Wine News: Sidestepping Rosé

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-15-2016

Ridge Monte Bello Vineyard in Santa Cruz Mountains (Source: Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association)

Ridge Monte Bello Vineyard in Santa Cruz Mountains. (Source: Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association)

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley finds the Santa Cruz Mountains the most exciting region for California Pinot Noir. “Over the past few years, a group of wine producers have begun to redefine what Pinot Noir from this region can be… Some are newcomers; some are long-established folks rediscovering the voice of the dirt in their backyard.”

Elsewhere in the Chronicle, Esther Mobley covers the revolution in high-quality kosher wine, with a focus on Covenant Wines in Berkeley.

In Eater, Susan H. Gordon recommends sidestepping rosé season and drinking pét-nat instead.

Jane Anson discusses the fragile environment surrounding the Bordeaux 2015 en primeur campaign in Decanter. “So – great wines but a small available pool of resources. Inevitably this will change the usual dynamics of a great vintage. If châteaux want to raise their prices, something has got to give.”

“There aren’t too many secrets left anymore in the world of wine. Alto Piemonte and Valtellina are two of them,” says Antonio Galloni in Vinous.

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov features Inglenook Vineyard’s 50-year plan, and Philippe Bascaules, who’s been the winemaker since 2011.

In Wine Enthusiast, Matt Kettmann believes it’s worth giving lesser-known regions a real chance.

Fortune says that Argentine wine is ready for a comeback.

Daily Wine News: “En Primuer Lethargy”

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-14-2016

Bordeaux wine. (Source: Wikimedia)

Bordeaux wine. (Source: Wikimedia)

“Bordeaux 2015 prices are expected to rise for a warmly received vintage but merchants warn there is only a narrow margin for error if consumers are to be coaxed out of their en primeur lethargy,” reports Chris Mercer in Decanter.

In his third report from Bordeaux for Wine-Searcher, Adam Lechmere finds that uneven tannin levels caused headaches for producers.

The trade is barely back from Bordeaux and already there have been a couple of release prices from small estates. The Drinks Business considers whether their increases foreshadow what’s to come.

On the blog for First Vine, Tom Natan recommends a visit to the Finger Lakes for any Alsatian-type wine lovers.

In Purple Pages, Richard Hemming explores what the most important factor in wine quality is.

Venetia Thompson covers Mexico’s only known natural wine producers for Munchies.

In Grape Collective, Ernesto Bajda, winemaker at pioneering winery Catena Zapata, tells the story of the rise of Argentine Malbec.

In the San Diego Union-Tribune, Michele Parente makes a case for revisiting Portugal’s old world wines.

According to Wine Spectator, a former pulmonary medicine professor developed a filter to preserve aromatic compounds in wine.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague decodes shelf talkers.

Daily Wine News: Cab Franc’s Reputation

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-13-2016

Cabernet Franc on the vine (Wikimedia)

Cabernet Franc on the vine (Wikimedia)

“From its first years here, franc’s reputation was mixed. People found reasons to dislike it—too green, too savory in its flavors, too jangly in its acid structure and sharp, peppery tannins.” In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Patrick J. Comiskey covers cabernet franc’s reputation in the Finger Lakes. “Cabernet franc acreage in the Finger Lakes now stands at 230 acres, more than any other red variety in the region.”

Elaine Chukan Brown of Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews visits the Michael Mara Vineyard with Richard and Susan Idell, Steven and Jill Matthiasson, as well as Abe Shoener — who all make wines using the Chardonnay from this vineyard.

The Drinks Business reveals the fight between Spain’s winemakers and the consejos over Spanish terroir.

“There’s another antidote to Bordeaux-bashing; Bordeaux’s top-shelf producers could do more to make themselves less bash-worthy,” says Joe Roberts in a commentary about consultant winemaker Michel Rolland’s response to “Bordeaux-bashing.”

In Food & Wine, Elin McCoy investigates whether or not aging changes your palate for wine.

Vinous publishes an excerpt from Alessandro Masnaghetti’s book, Barbaresco MGA: The Barbaresco Great Vineyards Encyclopedia.

Decanter reports that 32-year-old and 18-year old Syrah vines belonging to Clot de l’Oum in Languedoc-Roussillon have been vandalized.

In Eater, Jake Emen offers “an exhaustive guide to fortified wines.”