Daily Wine News: Collecting Burgundy

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-12-2019

Vineyard in Côte de Beaune. (Source: Wikimedia)

Vineyard in Côte de Beaune. (Source: Wikimedia)

Chris Munro, Head of Wine for Christie’s in the Americas, profiles the 10 Burgundy producers every wine lover should be looking to have in their cellar.

On JancisRobinson.com, Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc puts the Bordeaux 2018 vintage into perspective. “While it was a glorious year for some growers, which will presumably be borne out by the tastings, for others the size of their crop was the stuff of nightmares.”

In the Dallas News, Alfonso Cevola explores how Bichi is rescuing long-forgotten heritage grapevines from nearby Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California.

Rémy Charest explains the science behind achieving the right shade of pink for rosé in SevenFifty Daily.

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford takes a close look at the wines of his local wine appellation, Grés de Montpellier. (subscription req.)

In Wine Enthusiast, Lauren Mowery speaks with six New World female winemakers. Each gives a nugget of advice for the next generation of winemakers.

Elsewhere in Wine Enthusiast, Roger Voss offers a guide to finding value in Burgundy.

In Harpers, Jo Gilbert explores how the rising temperature in Beaujolais is leaving producers to worry.

Christopher Barnes explores the soulful wines of Bruno De Conciliis in Grape Collective.

Daily Wine News: Nebbiolo in Australia

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-11-2019

Nebbiolo (Wikimedia).

Nebbiolo (Wikimedia).

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov explores Luke Lambert’s pursuit of nebbiolo in Australia’s Yarra Valley. “There, on part of a steep, bowl-shaped hillside facing northeast, he will begin this October to plant nothing but nebbiolo. Ultimately he will have about six acres, just about the size that Mr. Lambert, a fierce individualist, and his life and business partner, Rosalind Hall, can farm themselves. He will make just the one wine.”

Jancis Robinson reflects on the “the sheer magnificence of what man and Nature had achieved in the best reds of the 2009 vintage” in Bordeaux—and what their prices are today.

After more than 30 vintages at her Fattoria Le Pupille, Elisabetta Gepetti is releasing her first all-syrah red. Robert Camuto reports on the details in Wine Spectator

In this era of social-media influencers and crowdsourced ratings, which sources can wine drinkers trust? Lettie Teague looks into the LeBron James effect and what it means in the Wall Street Journal. (subscription req.)

In Wine-Searcher, Tom Jarvis talks to viticulture expert Dr. Amber Parker about how to mitigate the effects of climate change in the vineyard.

Alfonso Cevola on the complexities of importing Italian wine into America.

In the World of Fine Wine, David Williams reviews Miquel Hudin and Daria Kholodilina’s Georgia: A Guide to the Cradle of Wine.

Dave McIntyre offers his notes on a bottle of Playboy red in the Washington Post.

Alicante Bouschet’s Adopted Home of Alentejo

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-09-2019

In the summer of 2018, I spent a week exploring Portugal’s Alentejo region, and I came back with a much deeper respect for its wines, history and culture. Stretching inland, east of Lisbon, this hot, dry region is home to vast swaths of cork forests and vineyards spread across a countryside of rolling hills and farms.

One of things that surprised me most about Alentejo was how many good to excellent wines I tasted made from the Alicante Bouschet grape. With more than 100 years of experience with this grape, Alentejo and Alicante have a long, symbiotic relationship, and winemakers there have learned how to harness the full potential of this grape.


Winemaker Iain Richardson in the vineyards of Herdade do Mouchão

In the 1880s, a Frenchman named Henri Bouschet created the grape by crossing Petit Bouschet (itself a cross of two even more obscure grapes) with Grenache. The result was a thick-skinned, dark-colored grape variety that showed good defense against rot. It can produce such dark wines that Portuguese winemakers took to calling it Tinta de Excrever, which means “writing ink.” Fun fact: Alicante is a rare teinturier variety, which means the pulp inside is red (like the Georgian grape Saperavi). The grape flourished in California during prohibition, as its resistance to rot meant grapes could handle transportation to home winemakers and bootleggers. Because of its dark color and intensity, it was also widely used as a blending grape in order to add some meat and potatoes to thinner wines.

But it was a man looking to make some money in the cork business who helped this grape reach its pinnacle. In the mid-1800s, Thomas Reynolds (an Oporto-based exporter of Port, cork, and other goods) moved his family to the rural, largely untouched region of Alentejo. He established a massive estate, Herdade do Mouchão, dominated by cork tree forests, but also olive trees and vineyards. Sometime before the turn of the 20th Century, two professors from Montpellier brought cuttings of Alicante Bouschet to Mouchão, where it adapted well. In 1901, the Reynolds family built a winery, adding a distillery in 1929. The original winery is still functioning, and it operated without electricity until 1991! It is one of the most fascinating wineries I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. And the wines, especially the flagship red, are stunning.

With more than 200 indigenous grape varieties to choose from, it’s amazing an imported science experiment found such a foothold in Alentejo. But wine history is weird like that. Today, growers all over Alentejo use Alicante, frequently blending it with other indigenous and international grape varieties. Many respected winemakers use traditional methods of hand-picking and food-treading the grapes in large concrete or marble containers. Alicante Bouschet benefits from barrel aging, and it can withstand a good amount of new, toasty oak, though I’m more inclined toward wines that have been aged for long periods in large, old wood. No matter how it is made or where the vineyard is, these are almost always dark, concentrated, tannic, long-aging wines. But the best Alicantes maintain fresh acidity that helps balance out the density. The dark fruit is also accented by these notes of leather, pepper, charcoal, and herbs and spices, which I find really attractive. Pairing options with grilled meats and vegetables are endless.

I recently had the chance to revisit some Alicante Bouschet wines form Alentejo, most of which I had tasted during my trip. For fun, I tasted the wines single-blind, just to see if the Mouchão would stand out and wow me as much as it has in the past. (Spoiler alert: for my palate, this wine is so special that it stands out like a sore thumb.) Like many wines I enjoy from Alentejo, some of these are highly impressive for the money, and most of them could (or should) benefit from years in the cellar.

My notes on these wines (which were received as trade samples), are below. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: What’s Ahead

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-08-2019

(Flickr: JonathanCohen)

(Flickr: JonathanCohen)

In Wine-Searcher, Liza B. Zimmerman looks at what’s ahead for US wine: new delivery services, new shipping laws and new technology.

In SevenFifty Daily, Shana Clarke reports from Vinexpo, where wine professionals discussed how they were utilizing emerging technologies to maintain a competitive edge.

A project to install ‘colossal’ wind turbines in the heart of the Chablis vineyards will ‘completely spoil’ the landscape, according to wine grower Jean-Marc Brocard. Richard Woodard reports on the objection in Decanter.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley pens an obituary for John Shafer, founder of the influential Shafer Vineyards, who died March 2 at the age of 94.

In Wine Spectator, James Molesworth pays a visit to Faust Wines’ Coombsville vineyard. “Located adjacent to Hobbs’ vineyards, Faust’s 130-acre property was planted by the Huneeus family in 1998, making it one of the earliest vineyard developments in the area, following Caldwell and Farella.”

When speaking at the Climate Change Leadership conference in Porto, Jamie Goode said: “Wine is the canary in the coal mine of agriculture.”

On the Northforker blog, Cyndi Zaweski profiles Ami Opisso, the creative leader of two major Long Island wine labels: Lieb Cellars and Bridge Lane.

Tom Wark explores “wine, millennials and the art of a proper rant.”

VinePair shares a few details about their site redesign.

Daily Wine News: Today’s Somm

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-07-2019

(Flickr: portobaytrade)

(Flickr: portobaytrade)

“Today’s sommelier is a very different animal to her counterpart of previous generations… Today’s sommelier is a brand in their own right. They almost certainly have a sizeable social media following – a key requirement when applying for a new job – and a blog in which they can tell the world about their latest discoveries. And ‘the world’, in this case, means other sommeliers.” In Meininger’s, Robert Joseph explores the rise and rise of the somm.

In the Harvard Business Review, Gregory Carpenter and Ashlee Humphreys report on what the wine industry understands about connecting with consumers.

In the World of Fine Wine, Ella Lister rounds up the last of the auction news of 2018, paying particular attention to the seemingly unstoppable rise of Burgundy, which is having no difficulty in seeing off all comers.

In Wine Spectator, James Molesworth talks to Paul Hobbs about his most recent venture in Coombsville, which only earned AVA status in 2011. “What makes the wines from Coombsville different according to Hobbs is the area’s cooler climate—”cooler” by Napa Valley standards, at least.”

Shana Clarke reports on how Oregon wineries are coming together to save grapes rejected for smoke taint in NPR. “For the Solidarity winemakers, helping growers recoup some of the potential loss just by purchasing grapes wasn’t enough; all net proceeds from the sales of the wines will go to Rogue Valley Vintners, the nonprofit Oregon growers association.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Lauren Mowery highlights six women that became “the first” to achieve a high accomplishment in the wine industry.

Oliver Styles meditates on wine snobbery in Wine-Searcher.

Daily Wine News: Biodynamic Wine’s Origin Story

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-06-2019

Demeter certification on a wine label. (Flickr: Daniel Spiess)

Demeter certification on a wine label. (Flickr: Daniel Spiess)

In SevenFifty Daily, Hannah Wallace traces the origin story of biodynamic wine. “Most wine industry professionals are familiar with the basic tenets of biodynamics, including precepts like the prohibition against the use of pesticides and artificial herbicides in the vineyard… The history of biodynamics in the wine industry, however, is less well known.”

“John Shafer was 48 years old in 1972, working as a textbook publisher in Chicago, when he decided to pick up and move his family to California to pursue wine, despite knowing very little about the business. He went on to create one of Napa’s first cult Cabernets in his Hillside Select and was among the pioneers of Napa’s Stags Leap District. Shafer died March 2 at the age of 94,” reports Aaron Romano in Wine Spectator.

Terravant Wine Company, Santa Barbara County’s largest winery announced that it has purchased Summerland Winery. WineBusiness.com shares more details.

In Eater, Jordan Salcito says to buy a decanter, but skip the aerator.

In VinePair, Jake Emen highlights Tohu Wines, New Zealand’s first Māori-owned winery.

Michael Edwards offers a producer profile of Veuve Clicquot in Decanter. (subscription req.)

On his Do Bianchi blog, Jeremy Parzen shares how impressed he was by Chicago’s wine scene.

In Forbes, Tom Mullen looks at South Africa’s ever-evolving wine scene.

Daily Wine News: Tannat & Erbaluce

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-05-2019

Tannat grapes. (Source: Wikimedia)

Tannat grapes. (Source: Wikimedia)

From Tannat’s contested South American debut, back to its origins in southwest France, and forward to its latest outposts in New Zealand, Julia Harding MW charts the rise of this climate-sensitive and terroir-transparent grape variety in the World of Fine Wine.

“These are wines that sommeliers, retailers and Italian wine directors should take a plunge at. They are very drinkable and enjoyable, again and again (that which I can attest to). They are versatile, and they are varied in their flavor profiles to enjoy over different courses and seasons. Why isn’t America jumping on this wine?” Alfonso Cevola makes a case for Erbaluce.

In Bloomberg, Elin McCoy explores the rise of cabernet franc. “In 2018 the volume of direct shipments of cabernet franc in the U.S. jumped 19 percent, according to the recently released Direct to Consumer Wine Shipping Report. The growth trend, it says, started in 2014.”

Reuters reports that Australia’s hottest summer on record is impacting grape yields, set to drop to the lowest in years.

In Wine Spectator, winemaker Tegan Passalacqua offers James Molesworth a tour of Turley Wine Cellar’s lesser-known cabernet sauvignon vines.

In Wine-Searcher, Tom Jarvis explores the history of vine grafting.

WineBusiness.com highlights millennial vintners from California to watch in 2019.

Daily Wine News: Beer Before Wine?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-04-2019

(Source: Pixabay)

(Source: Pixabay)

Mother Jones reports on a study conducted in Germany wherein scientists researched the truth behind the “beer before wine and you’ll feel fine; wine before beer and you’ll feel queer” saying. “As it turns out, neither order nor type made enough of a difference to prove the theory right.”

In SevenFifty Daily, Amanda Barnes explores Corpinnat, an emerging category of Spanish sparkling wine made by a number of small producers who have broken ties with the Cava DO.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre reports on the winner of the 2019 Virginia Governor’s Cup competition: Horton Vineyards 2016 Petit Manseng.

“There can be no doubt that the quality of the wine produced from vineyards in England and Wales is better than it has ever been,” says Jancis Robinson. “The only problem is what to call it. And a single name would be awfully helpful.”

Business Insider shares photos from the flood that affected Sonoma County last week.

Elin McCoy explores Howell Mountain, “the wild child of Napa Valley,” in Decanter. (subscription req.)

How is climate change affecting Australian vineyards? Eleanor Danenberg talks to the winemakers to find out how they’re adapting to changing conditions.

Robin Shreeves dishes out some love for New Jersey wine in VinePair.

Wine Reviews: California Chardonnay & Pinot Noir

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-02-2019

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – they grow together, and they go together. And, this week, I’ve got a fresh batch of Chards and Pinots from California.

In this report, I tasted two vintages of Chardonnay from Oceano, which is owned and operated by Rachel Martin of Virginia’s Boxwood Estate. The fruit is sourced from the slops of Price Canyon in San Luis Obispo County, and the vineyard is located less than two miles from the coast. The wines were fermented and aged at Caldwell Vineyards in Napa. These wines really impressed me with their lively, salty, oceanic vibes, and I’m excited to see they have a Pinot Noir coming soon, too.

I also tasted some new Anderson Valley releases from FEL, which is owned by Cliff Lede and used to be branded as Breggo years ago. I’ve followed these wines for a long time, and these new ones keep up a long tradition of rocking yet nuanced Pinot and Chard.

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

Daily Wine News: Another Shot

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-01-2019

(Flickr: noviceromano)

(Flickr: noviceromano)

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov offers notes on the most recent Wine School, Valtellina. Up next? He takes another shot at supermarket wines—this time, highlighting mainstream American red wines that are both crowd-pleasing and readily available.

In the Terroir Review, Meg Houston Maker remembers her first trip to the Douro, and her first time helping to make port wine. “After I’d accepted the invitation, I had been stricken with anxiety. Port is hard: hard to make, hard to understand. There are many styles, and the best port takes decades to mature. I had tasted little of it.”

In SevenFifty Daily, Shana Clarke looks at why restaurant groups are adding wine bars to their portfolios. “Although these wine bars have personalities of their own, their operators suggest that tying the wine bar concept into the greater organization helps expand the overall business.”

“Vineyards in Napa and Sonoma have been submerged after the wettest storm of the winter swept through California yesterday,” reports Lucy Shaw in the Drinks Business.

“Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most famous wine styles, but it’s not without controversy.” Jamie Goode takes a guided tour of the stylistic diversity of Napa Cabs.

In Wine Enthusiast, Kerin O’Keefe offers a little insight into the 2014 Brunello vintage, which has, in general, overcome difficult conditions.

A case of poor labeling has sparked another interstate wine battle between Oregon producers and a California winery. W. Blake Gray reports on the dispute in Wine-Searcher.

In SOMM Journal, Tina Silverberg shines a spotlight on Bisol Prosecco.

In Decanter, Jane Anson takes a closer look at how Bordeaux 2018 is shaping up. (subscription req.)