Wine Reviews: Special Selections from California and Oregon

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-29-2023

California’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been following these crazy winter storms from afar, and hoping for the best for you all. I’m also excited to visit soon, and very much looking forward to seeing family and friends in Sonoma, doing some surfing, going on climbing adventures, and visiting some of my favorite wine country.

In anticipation, I’ve had the pleasure of tasting through some lovely California wines recently, and I have some selections this week that keep my love for California wine thriving. There are some real Cabernet-based gems in here, from the likes Napa’s Kelly Fleming and Priest Ranch, and from Sonoma’s Chalk Hill and Hamel Family.

From Oregon, I have some new options from the always inventive, reliably delicious Troon Vineyard. This crew does a whole lot, from Vermentinos to skin contact whites, deep Tannats and spicy Syrahs. But this week I want to highlight their Druid’s Fluid blends, which are really tasty and do a good job representing a cross-section of their different estate grapes.

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

Daily Wine News: The State of Education

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-27-2023

Shifts in traditional educational bodies and a wave of new resources have improved access to wine education—but is it enough? In SevenFifty Daily, Caitlin A. Miller looks at the changing landscape of wine education. “As both professional and curious consumers look for new sources of wine education, a diverse range of resources have sprung up. Mostly started during the pandemic as a way to connect when travel wasn’t an option, Zoom tasting, webinars, and even online conferences have become standard offerings, even as pandemic restrictions have subsided…With so many new entry points to wine education, access has changed significantly…”

“The state of the American wine industry is grim…Winemakers and advertisers are missing out on younger consumers, the report says, by failing to produce wines that fit their budgets and neglecting to reach out to them with targeted marketing campaigns.” In the New York Times, Eric Asimov delves into the results of this year’s SVB State of the U.S. Wine Industry report.

E. & J. Gallo is laying off 355 employees after shuttering its in-house distributor.

“Can adding charged quartz crystals during fermentation make a wine taste and feel more vibrant?” For InsideHook, I talk to the wineries embracing the spiritual power of crystals.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague suggests Langhe Nebbiolo for lovers of Barolo and Barbaresco.

Burgundy’s soaring prices are coming back to bite the region as many are simply too expensive to sell, reports W. Blake Gray in Wine-Searcher.

In Thrillist, Mekita Rivas highlights BIPOC wine narratives working to change the narrative in the industry.

Daily Wine News: Old Vines Matter

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-26-2023

Old vines in Amador County. (Source: Amador County Wine)

In Club Oenologique, David Kermode reflects on the role of mature vines and the environmental reasons for protecting these aged plantings. “Though the argument is admittedly more subjective, I believe that the case for these vinous veterans also extends to the glass. Some say that old vines result in a greater sense of refinement, yet that’s arguably attained from any grape grown in the right place, nurtured with the requisite care. Others argue that such grapes deliver greater concentration as a result of their lower yields, but – again – that can be achieved from plants still considered relatively youthful, through skilled winemaking.”

In Decanter, Clive Pursehouse checks in with members of California’s wine industry to discuss the impact of the state’s recent storms and their impact on the coming vintage.

Aleks Zecevic looks at the impact of nature and winemaking (nurture) on terroir in Wine Enthusiast.

Elsewhere in Wine Enthusiast, Nils Bernstein highlights some of the best wine bars in New York City.

In the World of Fine Wine, Adam Lechmere reports from Steven Spurrier’s Memorial Service, which took place in London on January 19. “It was reverent and raucous, intimate and rather grand, both timeless and very old-fashioned—in short, it was just the sort of send-off Steven Spurrier, who died on March 9, 2021, might have expected.”

In Vogue, Nicole Kleist pens a guide to traveling through the Vinho Verde wine region.

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Stephanie Johnson remembers Luciano Sandrone.

Daily Wine News: Alpine California

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-25-2023

Mount Shasta.

In PUNCH, Rebecca Grant explores Iruai wines, made by Chad Hinds, the winemaker behind Methode Sauvage, from California’s first alpine wine region in the shadow of Mount Shasta. “As with wine regions near the Alps, the area around Mount Shasta is at a higher elevation and has a continental climate. It has a short and intense growing season, which Hinds believes creates the tension between high acidity and ripe fruit flavors typical of many alpine white wines, as well as the bold texture and power that places the wines firmly in California.”

Despite a woeful growing season, 2021 Rhône wines are good – and you get them without paying a fortune, says Margaret Rand in Wine-Searcher.

Direct-to-Consumer wine shipments in the United States fell by more than 10 percent by volume in 2022, according to a new report on the state of the DtC market. Kerana Todorov delves into the report’s findings on WineBusiness.com.

In VinePair, Nicolette Baker also looks at how direct-to-consumer wine sales have changed from pandemic-era peaks to today.

The 1,300+ acre collection of vineyards and land commonly referred to as the Paicines Vineyards located within San Benito County, California, was recently sold to the Wine Group.

Kylie Minogue’s alcohol-free sparkling rosé is flying off shelves, reports the Drinks Business. “Kylie’s 0% alcohol Sparkling Rosé, launched in December, which sold one bottle every ten seconds over the Christmas period, and that’s without the sales that will no doubt be garnered during Dry January.”

In Town & Country, Jay McInerney explores Mexico’s Guadalupe Valley.

Daily Wine News: Farewell to Foil?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-24-2023

An EU law that states that the necks on bottles of bubbly must be sheathed in foil may be axed by the end of the year in a move that could save producers money on every bottle, reports Sarah Neish in the Drinks Business.

In Decanter, Andy Howard MW takes a deep dive into Bouchard Père & Fils and tastes some of the wines from the domaine’s premier cru vineyards which surround Beaune that are often overlooked.

In Grape Collective, Matthew Horkey provides an overview of Croatia’s Komarna wine region, which he describes as “the Mosel meets the Douro meets the Adriatic Sea.”

In the Robb Report, Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen share notes from a tasting through 161 years of Rioja’s Herederos del Marqués de Riscal.

Rick Noack reports on Dry January in France in the Washington Post.

In the Oregonian, Michael Alberty profiles Bee and Ross Maloof of Maloof Wines.

Josh Raynolds delves into Gigondas in Vinous. “Gigondas wines can show distinct elegance, even complexity on the young side, which is a big part of their appeal compared to quite a few of their neighbors.”

Daily Wine News: AI & ChatGPT

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-23-2023

On JaneAnson.com, Simon Pavitt ponders how ChatGPT — a computer program that can understand and respond to human language, and be used to generate text, answer questions, and perform other language-related tasks — could affect wine writers and sommeliers.

In the Buyer, Dan Hooper analyzes the future for AI in the wine industry. “With the advent of these more creative AI programs, it’s easy to see how creative agencies and hires could be cut from your brand’s marketing in the next few years. But I’m not convinced.”

In recent years an ever-increasing number of forward-thinking oenologists and growers have honed Albania’s potential for quality winemaking, finds Decanter’s Darrel Joseph, who highlights some the the country’s top producers and wines.

In Wine Enthusiast, Kathleen Willcox highlights the eco-friendly wineries working to create greener wines in both the vineyard and in the cellar.

The wine industry is failing to engage younger consumers. What can it do to change that? W. Blake Gray has some thoughts in Wine-Searcher.

In VinePair, Pamela Vachon explains three different approaches to making non-alcoholic wine.

On JancisRobinson.com, Paula Sidore takes a new look at an old Austrian region, Wachau, and its recent stylistic shift.

In Afar, Jessie Beck reports on how the Prisoner Wine Company is working to reform its problematic image and instead use its brand to promote positive change and prison reform.

Wine Reviews: International Values

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-21-2023

I’m looking forward to exploring more diverse wines and regions in 2023, so I’m starting off this week with a few such selections. In the coming weeks, I’ll be diving deeper into a bunch of South American wines, but this week I’ve got a nice round-up from all over. And they’re all in the $15-$35 range.

Winemaker power couple Bob Lindquist and Louisa Sawyer Lindquist have a really cool project called Vara. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, they source grapes from spots in Spain and California. Louisa’s experience with Spanish varieties brings them grapes from selected estates in regions like Ribera del Duero and Montsant, while Bob’s California experience brings in the good stuff from Central Coast vineyards like Santa Maria Valley and Paso Robles. It’s a bit different, of course, tasting a wine sourced from different regions and countries, but I think these experiments work out really well. The wines are delicious and different, and worth seeking out if you’re looking to try new things in 2023.

When it comes to vibrant, inexpensive Sauvignon Blancs, South Africa and Chile are my go-to countries. And this week I have some Chilean options from Leyda Valley, a region that sits just a handful of miles from the Pacific coast. Here, Viña Leyda’s winemaker Viviana Navarrette focuses on producing coastal-influenced, taut, vibrant Sauvignon Blanc from mostly granitic soils. They offer up crunchy, spicy, sea salty deliciousness with a lot of value and serve as a great introduction to this region’s Sauvignon Blanc goodness.

I’m a big fan of everything Portugal, and the amount of consistent and quality wines I find. And the value is always appreciated. This week’s selections from Douro’s Casa Ferreirinha deliver just what I look for.

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

Daily Wine News: Moldova Awakens

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-20-2023

Vineyards in Moldova.

Moldova is at last realizing its wine growing potential. Jancis Robinson gives an overview on her website.

In Meininger’s, Felicity Carter profiles Chinedu Rita Rosa, who went from working in wine in Nigeria, to business in Bordeaux. Now she is using her experience to help Nigerian wine importers and European producers connect with one another.

California winemakers are struggling to keep up with the demand for Sauvignon Blanc, reports Jess Lander in the San Francisco Chronicle.

California’s Suisun Valley has become a weekend destination for its top-notch wines and down-to-earth wineries—a reminder of how Napa used to be, says Barbara Noe Kennedy in National Geographic.

To Kalon, a vineyard regarded as California’s crown jewel thanks to its enduring renown for producing world-class, top-scoring Cabernet Sauvignon, has secured its legendary status with organic certification. In Decanter, Stacy Slinkard looks into the vineyard’s organic certification journey.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague talks to wine collectors about their wine storage options — from fridges to full cellars.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre shares his wine predictions for 2023.

Daily Wine News: The Challenges Ahead

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-19-2023

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley on why 2023 will be tough for California’s wine industry. She also looks at why wine will cost most more this year.

In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto explores Grignolino’s comeback. “Grignolino—delicately perfumed, crisp, relatively low in alcohol and so pale it’s only halfway to red—fell out of fashion amid the wave of big, bold wines that arrived in the late 20th century. But now, like many varieties from Piedmont, it’s made a comeback in recent years. In Italy, its renown has been helped by Argentina-born Pope Francis, who has family roots in Asti and reportedly likes a glass with his meals.”

In Food & Wine, Julia Sonenshein on what a restaurant’s wine glass quality means for guests. “The decision to use pricy glassware isn’t about signaling scarcity — in fact, it’s decidedly the opposite.”

W. Blake Gray remembers Mike Martini in Wine-Searcher. “When people talk about Napa in the good ole days, they usually talk about affordable wines and no tasting fees, and both of these are things Martini winery offered, because that was how both Mike and his father thought: wine for the people.”

Austa Somvichian-Clausen recommends Santorini as your next wine destination in InsideHook.

In Wine Enthusiast, Samantha Sette recommends wines for Lunar New Year.

On JancisRobinson.com, Julia Harding delves into the secrets of funky and flinty Chardonnay.

Daily Wine News: State of the Industry

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-18-2023

Silicon Valley Bank’s Rob McMillan has released the annual State of the Wine Industry Report, which shows overall wine consumption is down and the industry is at risk of losing the attention of a new generation of consumers.

Amanda Gabriele highlights the report’s key findings in InsideHook. “The report states that expensive wines continue to sell, but bottles that cost less than $15 are not doing so well. In addition, Gen Z and Millennial consumers are not drinking wine, despite recent marketing efforts to boost the booze’s sales among them.”

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray delves into both the good and bad news in the report. “McMillan blames neo-Prohibition anti-alcohol movements like Dry January, and also the way wine sells itself. Hard seltzer built a market by listing its ingredients, and calories, on the label. And the successful “better for you” wine category has taken off by criticizing other wines; i.e., “our wine is low in sugar, not like those others”. Very few wineries list ingredients on the label, but McMillan thinks that would turn into a strength.”

Decanter’s Chris Mercer is also breaking down the key takeaways from SVB’s report.

In Wine Enthusiast, L.M. Archer explores how California’s devastating floods may actually benefit winemakers this year.

Michael Alberty recommends a small handful of non-alcoholic wines in the Oregonian.

Eric Guido offers notes on the 2012 Brunello di Montalcino vintage in Vinous.