Daily Wine News: Respect

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-18-2014

Flickr, rudynorff.

Flickr, rudynorff.

“While it may be sad for Soave producers and their fans that the wines have not achieved an appropriate level of respect, some do benefit from the situation. Seven of our 10 favorites were $20 or less, and the remaining three were $25 or less. Advantage consumer.” Eric Asimov finds lots to love in Soave.

Reuters reports: “Billionaire oenophile William Koch has settled a lawsuit worth millions of dollars against New York wine retailer Acker, Merrall & Condit.”

“Scores have always lacked rigor and carried a false sense of precision, but with inflation like this, the central bank of Zimbabwe looks like a model of restraint.” In Vineyard & Winery Management, Tyler Colman contends that the era of the super critic is over.

“Most tastings I go to merely confirm what I already know and give me a chance to identify the plums in any representation of a region, producer or new vintage. This collection really did confirm the existence of a whole new era in South Africa’s wine history.” Jancis Robinson is optimistic about South Africa.

W. Blake Gray doesn’t think we decant enough.

“The emergence of “natural wine” as a category for people who share a similar concern for how their beverages are manipulated is, well, perfectly natural. But, it only gains real weight if its integrity can be protected and guaranteed.” In Palate Press, Simon Woolf reflects on natural wine.

“If you’ve ever wondered what some of the top sommeliers in New York are drinking during their nonworking hours, or perhaps even while they’re still on the floor, there’s an app that will help you find out.” In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague profiles Delectable.

In Grape Collective, Jameson Fink chats with Robert Dwyer of the Wellesley Wine Press.

Elsewhere in Grape Collective, Christopher Barnes chats with Fred Frank and Meaghan Frank, the grandson and great granddaughter of Finger Lakes wine pioneer Dr. Konstantin Frank.

In the Boston Globe, Tom Wark explains why Massachusetts’ direct shipping bill isn’t an unqualified victory.

According to Will Lyons, Robert Parker is “a glass-half-full kind of guy.”

Creativity in Wine PR

Posted by | Posted in Commentary | Posted on 07-17-2014


Complexity New Zealand’s Grapes on a Train

Scrolling through the inbox of a wine writer would be an enlightening experience for most wine industry PR professionals. A quick perusal would reveal that the standard PR toolkit relies on the following common tactics:

- press releases (yawn)
- requests to send samples
- invitations to large, walk-around tastings
- invitations to seminars, often called “master classes”
- invitations to dinners or lunches, sometimes with winemakers
- invitations to press trips

It’s hard for a message to stand out when every producer or trade group wants their press release shared, their “master class” filled, or their wines reviewed. So, what can PR do to make their efforts more memorable and effective?

I can think of two recent programs that have been particularly creative.

The first one was crazy and random. However, I still find myself talking to other attendees about it. Complexity New Zealand organized an event called “Grapes on a Train,” where a group of press and trade attendees took a scenic, 10-hour train ride to Montreal via the historic Adirondack train from Penn Station. Six winemakers joined us from New Zealand – Matt Dicey of Mt Difficulty Wines, Brett Bermingham of Nautilus Estate, Ben Glover of Mud House Wines, Nick Picone of Villa Maria, Tim Health of Cloudy Bay, and Rudi Bauer of Quartz Reef.

On board, we were handed wooden trays with stemless glasses (new ones for each seminar – I can’t imagine the logistics that went into organizing this event on a moving train). Attendees were then ushered through four seminars, which highlighted the variety and quality of New Zealand wines.


The event was brilliant in that it held a group of busy, easily-distracted writers and somms captive for the entire day. And it got all of us talking. Why had we all agreed to do this? Why were a bunch of New Zealand winemakers going to French Canadian Montreal? How did they get the budget to pull this off, including accommodations for the night in Montreal and flights back to New York in the morning?

It didn’t make sense. But somehow, it worked. The execution was flawless. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: What We Taste

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-17-2014

taste vin“Having spent a big part of his career as a critic in blind tastings, he now fully embraces context as one of the major parts of his enjoyment of and appreciation for wine.” In the New Yorker, Maria Konnikova explores “what we really taste when we drink wine.”

“For those of us on the sidelines, watching the crusaders on both sides saddle up for yet another joust leaves a bad aftertaste.” Matt Kramer wonders when wine became so partisan.

“An article in the International Herald Tribune in 1981… provided premature credibility, but there was no demand for Burgundy in the U.S. One knocked on doors.” In Wine-Searcher, Elin McCoy chats with legendary Burgundy personality Becky Wasserman-Hone.

Elsewhere in Wine-Searcher, Elin McCoy explains how different wineries are beating counterfeiters.

“At its root, Officer’s early love for seashells carries the same dedication now behind his work with old vine vineyards.” Lily Elaine Hawk Wakawaka spends a morning with Mike Officer of Carlisle Vineyards.

While visiting Champagne, Tom Natan finds himself “standing on land that was part of a decisive battle of World War I.”

Burgundy continues to become more and more expensive. Of the world’s 50 most expensive wines, 38 are from Burgundy. And land in the region now averages a whopping $5.4 million per hectare.

“In the mountains of the Tahoe National Forest,” Assyrtiko is now being planted.

Oregon Wine Press chat with Dorothy Gaiter.

“Will there continue to be consumers who buy and drink by the scales? Of course. The scales themselves are becoming more scientific and strangely personalized. But if there is any time in the last 35 years that Parker’s 100 point scale has looked its weakest, it is now.” So contends Michael Woodsmall in Grape Collective.

In Enotbytes, Pamela Heiligenthal profiles Alexandrine Roy, a fourth generation winemaker who is the owner and winemaker at Domaine Marc Roy in Burgundy and the winemaker at Phelps Creek Vineyards in Hood River, Oregon.

A Trip to France and a Brief Hiatus

Posted by | Posted in Terroirist | Posted on 07-05-2014

parisSince November 9, 2010, Terroirist.com has been updated every single (business) day – and more. But after 1,708 posts, it’s time for a brief break. Plus, I’m in France!

Don’t worry. I’ll return to regular blogging on July 17. Until then, follow my travels on Instagram and Twitter.

On July 4th, my trip began with an awesome tour of Paris’ natural wine bars and retailers led by Aaron Ayscough of Not Drinking Poison in Paris. After the tour, I dined at Le Baratin.

Still to come? For food, I’ll be visiting Spring, Clamato, Maison Troisgros, Le Café des Fédérations, L’Atelier du Cuisinier, L’Assiette Champenoise, and Les Avisés.

In Beaujolais, I’ll be visiting Château Thivin, Domaine Diochon, Domaine Michel Chignard, and Domaine Jean Foillard. In Champagne, I’ll be visiting Krug, Frédéric Savart, Vilmart, Didier Gimonnet, Anselme Selosse, and Taittinger.

It should be epic. Be back soon!

Daily Wine News: Carrying Forward

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-03-2014

“The new team has spent extensive time discussing the hallmarks of Mayacamas style in an attempt to hone in on their role carrying it forward.” mayacamasLily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka visits Mayacamas to explore what changes, if any, are ahead.

In Food & Wine, Charles Antin lists “10 Wine Superstars to Follow on Delectable.”

“Moments before I took this photo, the rack on my bike collapsed under the weight and the nearly two cases (22 bottles) of Mailly Grand Cru Champagne” In Grape Collective, Jameson Fink chats with Jeff Kralik, the Drunken Cyclist.

Elsewhere in Grape Collective, Kralik names his favorite places to wine and dine in Philadelphia.

In Winery & Vineyard Management, Christopher Sawyer chats with Helen Bacigalupi about “the past, present and future of her family’s legacy and the renaissance of the Bacigalupi wine brand.”

On Tuesday at the Wine Industry Technology Symposium, many industry leaders learned that social media can, indeed, offer a return on investment.

“Virginia wine has gotten some prominent loving recently from two of DC’s top toques.” According to Dave McIntyre, Robert Wiedmaier and Jose Andres have fallen for Virginia wine.

In Wine-Searcher, “10 Things Every Wine Lover Should Know about Marqués de Riscal.”

Daily Wine News: Hail & Fire

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-02-2014

FireFollowing Saturday’s devastating hailstorm, vintners in Burgundy have asked government officials for help. Panos Kakaviatos has the details.

And in Napa County’s Pope Valley, a 2,500+ acre wildfire continues to burn.

Terry Thiese shares his 2013 German vintage report.

“If Wong and Nick and the crew could work wonders with what was dealt them in 2011, this 2012 is a vinous walk in the park.” Dorothy Gaiter profiles one of my favorite wineries, Peay Vineyards.

When it comes to wine auction sales, Burgundy has “basically replaced Bordeaux.”

“If you want a cellar filled with fascinating wines,” then according to Matt Kramer, “there’s no substitute for seeking out the particular.”

“Most people with an interest in history will have heard of the first Battle of the Marne, but it is surprising how few realize that it was fought in the Champagne region.” In Wine-Searcher, Tom Stevenson shares this remarkable story.

Meanwhile, in Palate Press, Daniel Demers goes back in time to when Champagne makers were covered in “honourable nicks” from riddling.

“I am going to create a winery in Los Angeles, on the banks of the Los Angeles river, on the edge of what was once the greatest grape growing region in the whole country.” Abe Schoener’s latest missive is long but worth reading.

In Wine Spectator, Alison Napjus visits Schramsberg Vineyards.

Frank Morgan chats with Paul Wilkins, winemaker at Alta Maria Vineyards.

Panos Kakaviatos is “tired of expensive wine.” Fortunately, there are more fantastic affordable wines than ever before.

In Moldova, CNN travel writer Pat Kinsella got his hands on Putin’s wine.

In the Daily Meal, Jess Novak names the “101 Best Wineries in America.”

Daily Wine News: Devastating Hail

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-01-2014


From Wikimedia.

From Wikimedia.

From Wine-Searcher: “Hail has once more devastated the vineyards of Burgundy, leaving growers worried about their livelihoods.”

W. Blake Gray calls out Robert Parker for (yet another) “cowardly attack on sommeliers whose tastes differ.”

This week, Vivino “will unveil a feature containing the wine lists of approximately 300 restaurants in San Francisco and the South Bay, including wine prices and average ratings from Vivino’s user base. The goal is to help diners stricken with wine-list phobia navigate both pricing and styles of wine.” Jon Bonné has the details.

In mid-June, Peter Liem led a panel discussion exploring the ways in which Champagne and Sherry unwittingly resemble each other. Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka shares her impressions from the event.

For a great look at how social media is upending the wine industry — and creating countless new opportunities — check out Paul Mabray’s recent speech to the Wine Communicators of Australia.

“San Diego, the eighth largest city in the U.S., is famous for its craft-beer scene and year-round perfect weather, its wine and food have never been considered first-rate.” But according to Lettie Teague, “that’s changing fast.”

According to Josh Raynolds, “Finding elegant, lively rosés from California and Oregon has never been easier.” He’s right.

In Grape Collective, Michael Woodsmall profiles Amy Gross, the co-founder of Wine4.Me, an app that “gets scientific about the wines you like.”

Daily Wine News: Academic Excercise

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-30-2014

dom“If this seems impossibly pretentious, well, maybe, but I prefer to think of it as an academic exercise.” Eric Asimov tastes 16 vintages of Dom Pérignon.

“Although the quality of their Pinots has soared, none of Oregon, California, New Zealand and Australia can boast seven centuries of growing the red burgundy grape. But Germany and Austria can, just like Burgundy.” Jancis Robinson is impressed with Austrian Pinot Noir.

“The best versions offer precisely what has made Spanish versions so popular: Riesling-like aromatics, but without a razor’s edge; the freshness of Sauvignon Blanc without the screech.” In California, according to Jon Bonné, Albariño has found a home.

The Drinks Business names the “10 most powerful wine brands of 2014.”

In Decanter, Adam Lechmere reports on Abe Schoener’s plan to build a $2 million winery in central Los Angeles.

According to Bill Zacharkiw, Soave is “the world’s most underrated white-wine appellation.”

“When tasting them, it is impossible to confuse the two wines. Nevertheless, in 1993 the Hungarian government and European Community signed an agreement in which Italy was forced to abandon the use of the name Tocai for its wine and grape.” In Palate Press, Elisabetta Tosi writes about “The Ghost Grape.”

William Shatner has launched a new online TV show: Brown Bag Wine Tasting.

“Ever wish your wine tasted more like coffee?” If so, pick up a can of Friends Fun Wine.

Wine Reviews: Charly Nicolle’s Chablis

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 06-28-2014

Proprietor Charly Nicolle kicked off his domaine in 2004. He’s been expanding his vineyard holdings piece by piece since 1997, when he acquired one tenth of a hectare from his great-grandfather. Today Domaine Charly Nicolle tends 15 hectares of vines spread across several appellations, including Premier Crus and the Grand Cru Bougros.

Like many Chablis winemakers, Charly learned the ropes from his father, Robert, who runs Domaine de la Mandeliere. Charly still works with his father and the two domaines share a team of vineyard workers, but they each control different vines and make different wines.

Charly Nicolle’s wines are all fermented in stainless steel with natural yeasts. They have a clean feel with lots of verve, minerality and oceanic elements. The wines I tasted hailed from the 2012 vintage, except the 2011 Bougros. “The 2012 vintage is a very good one, rather round and aromatic,” Lucie Thieblemont, the domaine’s commercial director, explained in an email. “It has less acidity than the 2011, which makes it very pleasant to drink now, but might be not so good to keep long.”

The wines are indeed round and aromatic right now, but I’m thinking some of them could age well. All of the wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Interview: Elena & Karoline Walch

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 06-27-2014

Karoline Walch, Elena Walch, and Julia Walch

Karoline Walch, Elena Walch, and Julia Walch

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Elena Walch and her daughter, Karoline Walch, proprietors and visionaries at Elena Walch in Alto Adige.

Born in Milan, Elena had been an architect before marrying into a winemaking family in 1985 and moving to the Alto Adige. When she first arrived, Elena says she “became famous in a quick way,” as there were not many women in architecture at that time.

To add to her new neighbors’ curiosity, she then transitioned out of architecture and began to overhaul and make changes at the family’s winery. “Twenty five years ago,” she says, “being a woman in winemaking was very ‘suspicious.”

When Elena took the reins, Alto Adige was making a lot of red wine, namely Schiava. However, Elena started to plant more of the whites – at first, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Bianco. She also drastically lowered yields, made investments in different trellising, implemented higher density plantings, and began using high quality clones.

Over dinner with Elena and her daughter, Karoline (who manages U.S. marketing), their wines all showed beautifully. My favorite was the Pinot Bianco Kastelaz 2012, which comes from the steep hilly vineyards behind the local church. The wine is crisp and clean with depth and lovely floral notes. Elena says, “I find this wine more expressive than the Pinot Grigio, but it is not more loved. It’s like a hidden beauty.” Her Pinot Grigios (as recently called out by Lettie Teague) were also excellent and distinctive. Adding to Elena’s grape resume, she’s also been dubbed the “Queen of Gewürztraminer” by Gambero Rosso after accumulating so many bicchieri.

Get to know Elena and Karoline in the interview below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »