Wine Reviews: Spain

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 10-17-2021

The diversity of Spanish wine never ceases to amaze me. The more I taste (and dream of visiting wine regions), the more I realize there’s how much more there is to explore. Recently, a slew of impressive Spanish wines came past my doorstep, and this week I’m highlighting some goodies.

Galicia’s Virgen del Galir comes out swinging with a complex and inviting Godello and a spicy, delicious Mencia. This was the first time I tasted wines from Enate, a producer in the Aragón appellation of Somontano. And they opened my mind to what Merlot and Cabernet are capable of here.

There’s also some autumn-friendly Riojas at various price points, and a burly but exciting Garnacha from Clos Mogador.

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

Daily Wine News: Biodynamic Alto Adige

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-15-2021

Vineyards in Alto Adige. (Wikimedia)

Valerie Kathawala explores Alto Adige’s burgeoning biodynamic movement in SevenFifty Daily. “Biodynamic practices—from intensive composting to work with teas and preparations tailored to the individual needs of a particular plot of land—build moisture-retaining soils, resilient vines, and ecosystem stability, all of which are already critical needs in Alto Adige, where some of the highest growing-season temperatures in all of Italy are routinely recorded.”

Wine ingredient labeling is coming to the EU, reports Jeff Siegel in the Drop. “The project, called U-Label, will use QR codes on wine and spirits bottles. Scan the code, and you’ll be taken to a website that lists ingredient and nutrition information for the product.”

In VinePair, Rich Manning explores the importance of selecting the right trees to make wine barrels. “Low-quality barrels stem from bad wood, which comes from inferior trees. This subpar lineage can greatly disrupt a winemaker’s ability to shape a wine’s character to match their desired results.”

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Esther Mobley reports on the changes California announced to ease the thorny problem of fire insurance for vintners and farmers.

Warming temperatures over the past 60 years have led to increased wine quality, but a new study looking at sugar and color content in grapes indicates the industry may be facing trouble if trends continue, according to collaborative research out of the University of California, Davis, and University of Bordeaux.

In Insider, Heather Schlitz highlights the ways in which the lives of vineyard owners and winemakers are far more unglamorous and unpredictable than you’d think.

For Wine Anorak, Treve Ring explores Canada’s Wine Islands. “Marine swept and volcanic-borne, the Wine Islands are an unofficial name for the collective of wineries on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, off the southwest coast of Canada. After decades of experimentation, much by hobbyist farmers, the region has quickly matured in viticulture and viniculture.”

Daily Wine News: Terroir Troubles

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-14-2021

In the Drop, Zach Geballe says our obsession with terroir gives winemakers a get-out-of-jail-free card. “The problem is that calling your wine a wine of terroir has become a get-out-of-jail-free card for those throughout the wine industry. Did your grapes fail to ripen properly? That’s just your terroir speaking. Did you just plant a vineyard three years ago and the results are underwhelming, but you’ve got bills to pay? Slap on a single-vineyard designation and charge big bucks because you’re exploring the terroir of your little corner of nowhere. Did raging forest fires leave your wine tasting like an ashtray? Terroir!”

In SevenFifty Daily, Joshua M. Bernstein looks at how many craft breweries are embracing various aspects of winemaking by producing natural wines, piquettes, fruited spritzes, and more.

In Wine Enthusiast, Michelle Williams explores the people and lands of Chile’s Indigenous wine movement.

“For the second time this year, the Supreme Court declined without comment Tuesday to hear a case in which a lower court ruling seemed to contradict its guidance on retail stores shipping wine,” reports W. Blake Gray in Wine-Searcher. “The case, Sarasota Wine Market v Schmitt, revolved around Missouri consumers trying to order wine from a retail store in Florida. Missouri allows local wine shops to ship to its residents, but not out-of-state shops.”

In Barron’s, former senior advisor at the US Department of Treasury Dan Katz explains what’s going on with the wine market, and why inflation may be here to stay.

Tom Wark thinks there isn’t a gatekeeping problem in wine.

In VinePair, Laurie Wilson talks to Doreen Winkler about her new orange wine boutique, Orange Glou.

Daily Wine News: Delays & Disruptions

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-13-2021

A paper shortage and supply chain delays is causing a disruption in printing wine labels, reports Sam Jones in the Napa Valley Register. “Without paper, there are no labels, and with no labels on the bottles, there is no wine.”

Argentina’s vineyards are struggling to find wine bottles amid a global shortage of glass, reports Bloomberg. “The shortages are being exacerbated by a fire at a facility belonging to one of the few glass producers in the South American nation. Winemakers now say jobs and profits are at risk if they don’t bottle their products on time, while local politicians warn prices will go up for consumers.”

Beaujolais Nouveau prices have soared by up to 50 percent, according to Vitisphere.

Electric tractors are being put to work in Wine County vineyards, thanks to a $1 million grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District that helped growers purchase new electric machinery, reports Kerana Todorov for WineBusiness.com.

Does more vineyard area mean more grape variety? Yes and no, David Morrison explains.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague tackles salad wines. (paywall)

In Wine-Searcher, Tom Hyland offers an update on Italy’s 2021 vintage. “It’s a good news/bad news year, with the bad news being a decline of yields ranging from 10 percent to almost 50 percent in limited instances. But the good news should offset that, as most producers are thrilled with the results, believing the quality of the fruit to be among the best in recent years.”

Daily Wine News: Loire Cab Franc, Reconsidered

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-12-2021

Cabernet Franc on the vine. (Wikimedia)

Rebecca Gibb explores how producers in the Loire Valley are reconsidering Cabernet Franc in Vinous. “The appeal of Loire Cabernet Franc is its purity and fragrance, and it seems that many vignerons have learned not only that warm fermentation and vigorous extraction is not the best approach, but also that maturation in lashings of expensive new oak, as if it were a Right Bank Bordeaux, muffles the variety’s joy.”

A 1,500-year-old wine factory was found in Israel. Experts say it’s the largest known winery from that era. The Washington Post has the full story.

Drought has left several Napa winemakers wishing for a bigger crop, but there is also optimism that 2021 could prove to be a high quality vintage, reports Chris Mercer in Decanter.

In Wine Enthusiast, Jess Lander looks at how grapes beyond Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are being embraced by boutique producers in California.

In Food & Wine, Ray Isle looks at how restaurants are reviving the house wine, and highlights nine top bespoke restaurant wines to order.

Despite the pandemic, US visitors have flocked to Napa Valley during harvest, reports Paul Bomberger in the Press Democrat.

In Wine Spectator, Catena Zapata’s wine director Alejandro Vigil talks about his early years in Mendoza, connecting with consumers on social media and how a bottle of Burgundy changed his outlook on wine.

In the Drop, Jim Clarke looks at the rise of serious blueberry wine.

Daily Wine News: A Future Generation

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-11-2021

(Flickr: Rostislav Sedlacek)

In Wine Enthusiast, Stacey Lastoe looks at the current crop of harvest interns, part of a growing generation of future winemakers.

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov highlights the wines of Mary Taylor, who is betting that curious consumers will want well-made bottles, labeled with just the facts. “…for years the wine industry has rationalized inexpensive, bad wines as “gateway bottles,” steppingstones for consumers who eventually will graduate to the good stuff. It doesn’t matter what they drink, the thinking goes, so long as they are paying for wine. But what if curious young people were offered legitimate gateway bottles, gently priced introductions that gave an appealing taste of the wider world beyond?”

Washington state wine grape growers have generally seen smaller crops in 2021, but the state as a whole should produce more wine this vintage. How is that possible? W. Blake Gray investigates in Wine-Searcher.

In the Drop, Roger Morris explains why you need wine collection insurance.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre talks to California winemaker Robin Lail, who is switching to carbon farming and hopes more vineyards join.

Jancis Robinson says Burgundy 2021 is not a total washout.

Should Provence Rosé be pale? Should English fizz be made in the same way as Champagne? And should the next Bond be a woman? In Meininger’s, Robert Joseph highlights some connections between these questions.

Wine Reviews: California Highlights

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 10-10-2021

It is finally starting to feel like fall here in the Mid-Atlantic region, with cooler weather and leaves just starting to change color – my favorite time of year. And with October baseball featuring the Dodgers and Giants keeping me entertained, I thought it was a good time to highlight some recent California favorites.

So, I chose a mix of California red wines that wowed me – a bunch of delicious, serious red wines that I think would fit well with the season. Biodynamic producer Hawk and Horse delivers a handful of impressive wines from Bordeaux reds. Based in Lake County, I find these are some of the most consistently delicious wines from the region, and they can age really well.

Speaking of aging well, Eden Rift’s estate Pinot Noirs from the Cienega Valley have a ton going for them. I recently tasted three vintages (2016, 2017 and 2018), and enjoyed parsing through the nuances in the vintage variation, seeing how they are aging. All three of these wines are crisp, lighter, red-fruited, spicy wines that are worth checking out if you, like me, enjoy that style.

Cliff Lede knocks it out of the park with their Magic Nights Cab-based blend from Stags Leap, and two nice Sangiovese wines from Castello di Amorosa round out this report.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: We the People

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-07-2021

(Source: We the People)

In Wine-Searcher, Liza B. Zimmerman delves into the issues surrounding the new We the People wine brand. “Winery owners have always held their own political values, but most of them have done so discreetly. At a time when the United States, and the world, is dealing with massive political upheaval and a pandemic, it is an odd time to launch such a strongly positioned brand. Such an outright push for “freedom” at any cost also seems to be out of touch with how many of the world’s residents feel about the storming of the American capital on January 6, and the fact that the Covid epidemic is leaving more bodies in its wake – particularly states that seem to prioritize “freedom” over health and safety.”

“When a region’s wine identity is so intrinsically tied to cool climate, what happens when it changes?” Anna Lee C. Iijima reports on how the last two decades have affected German wine regions in Wine Enthusiast.

Deals by private-equity funds to invest in wineries, vineyards and distributors have risen 75% in 2021 so far, compared with last year, reports the Wall Street Journal. (paywall)

Chasity Cooper profiles sommelier turned Skurnik wine rep Etinosa Emokpae in the Philadelphia Inquirer. ““Wine is more than just a beverage — it encompasses culture, history, and so many other facets that make it noteworthy.”

NBC looks at how NBA players are helping drive diversity in the wine industry through ownership and advocacy.

Mateus, the wine that seduced dictators and rock stars, is roaring back according to Henry Jeffreys in the Drop.

“Angelina Jolie has sold her 50 percent stake in Château Miraval to Tenute del Mondo, a subsidiary of the Stoli Group, for an undisclosed sum. That makes the drinks group partners with Jolie’s ex-husband on the Provençal rosé winery,” reports Wine Spectator.

Daily Wine News: Grey Poupon Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-06-2021

Famed Dijon mustard producer Grey Poupon has released a white wine that is infused with Grey Poupon mustard seeds, along with honeysuckle.

Italian winemakers have increasingly relied on migrant workers for the autumn harvest, but travel restrictions and soaring wage costs are pushing many to turn to machines. Ian Lovett has the story in the Wall Street Journal. (subscription req.)

Wine Spectator columnist Robert Camuto has a new book out, South of Somewhere: Wine, Food and the Soul of Italy, which chronicles a variety of emerging wine scenes in Southern Italy in the 21st century. He shares more about the book in a piece for Wine Spectator.

In Wine Enthusiast, Jacopo Mazzeo reports on how European winemakers are reconsidering still and fortified wines amid climate change.

New federal law makes aid available for North Coast vintners who suffered smoke taint loss in 2020.

The 2019 vintage in Burgundy was extraordinary, but the premier cru bottles are beyond the budget of most wine drinkers, says Lettie Teague in the Wall Street Journal, who goes searching for white Burgundies that offer a taste of a very good year at an affordable price point. (subscription req.)

Prices of Beaujolais nouveau are set to soar, according to Vitisphere.

Daily Wine News: Rioja’s Battle

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-05-2021

(Wikimedia)

In the Drop, James Lawrence reports on Rioja’s ongoing battle between tradition and modernity. “Winemakers in Rioja have been arguing about [the use of oak] for more than 15 years. But the divide isn’t just about attitudes to oak; modernizers are pushing for a number of reforms, including a Burgundy-like classification of the best vineyards.”

In Meininger’s, David Schwarzwälder also looks at Rioja and how small bodegas are changing the region’s image.

Alder Yarrow charts the evolution of Anderson Valley wines. “Those in the know (or simply intrepid enough) who venture over the Yorkville Highlands and down into the idyllic, quiet green of Anderson Valley can discover something that most of the state’s top winemakers have known for years. It’s one of the best places to grow Pinot Noir on the planet.”

In SevenFifty Daily, independent retailers across the country share their tips for efficiently running a profitable subscription-based wine club.

In Wine-Searcher, David Allen on the importance of the right wine glass.

Whatever happened to the “Peach in Champagne” drink? Robert Simonson investigates its history in VinePair.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, thinks deeply about Laura Catena’s Grand Cru Project. “Can (or should) the Grand Cru concept be applied to the New World? And if so, how and where?”