Daily Wine News: Breaking Through

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-01-2021

More women and younger consumers are breaking into the world of fine wine, reports Liz Thach in Forbes.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre explores the importance of vineyard soil in the taste of wines. (subscription req.)

In Wine-Searcher, Caroline Henry explores the beauty of Champagne’s 2019 and 2020 vintages.

Wine Spectator talks to Regine Rousseau, the Chicago-based wine educator who has built a career teaching consumers how welcoming wine can be if you refuse to be intimidated.

“The single bottle of Grand Constance 1821 hammered for $30,000 last Saturday at the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction (CFRWA),” reports Robb Report. “Billed as a “true unicorn wine,” it’s believed to be one of only 12 remaining in the world.”

In the North Bay Business Journal, Jeff Quackenbush reports on how fires, the pandemic, and regulations are impacting California and Oregon wine-grape farming.

In VinePair, Vicki Denig on why you should be paying more attention to Carignan.

Premiere Napa Valley Wine Auction is back next week.

And in Wine Enthusiast, I highlight a crop of fortified rosés made by American winemakers.

Wine Reviews: Ashes & Diamonds Cabernet Francs

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 05-29-2021

I’m a big fan of Cabernet Franc. My palate tends toward those earthy, olive-laden, spicy and brisk iterations out of the Loire Valley, especially a well-aged one with some dusty tannins. But, living in Washington, DC, I’ve also spent many years browsing Cabernet Francs from Virginia and Maryland, too. There’s a of mediocrity out there, and some weird stuff for sure, but I’ve also found really delicious ones, which I will stand up for if I hear Mid-Atlantic wines disparaged.

California Cabernet Francs for me have been pretty hit-or-miss over the years. I have a handful of favorites, but I’m always looking for someone from somewhere to craft a wine that awakens that Cabernet Franc excitement in me. Well, I’m here to report a “hit” today: Ashes & Diamonds’ Cabernet Franc.

I recently tasted three vintages of this Napa producer’s Cabernet Franc, and have to say, they are fantastic. We’re talking structured tannins, vibrant acidity, moderate alcohol (around 13%), tangy fruit, and a bunch of earthy, savory, spicy tones to unpack. The wines have old-school Napa vibes, the kind of wines that leave freshness on the finish and beg for a big spread of food and a group of friends.

This project was founded by California native Kashy Khaledi, a media and advertising executive, in 2013. At the winemaking helm is renowned winemaker Steve Matthiasson and Diana Snowden Seysses, enologist at Domaine Dujac and winemaker at Snowden Vineyards. The several vineyard sources seem like truly special sites, from the gravelly, clay and loam soils of the Ashes & Diamonds Vineyard in Oak Knoll to the thin, rocky soils of the Mountain Peak Vineyard in the Atlas Peak appellation.

Using fruit from Carneros, Oak Knoll and Yountville districts, winemaker Steve Matthiasson has made something really special with these three wines. They will reward the patient in the cellar, and would be a delightful addition to any wine dinner with your Loire nerd friends.

I received these were as trade samples and tasted them single-blind. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: AI Wine Tasting

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-28-2021

CNN reports on Tastry, a California startup that taught a computer to “taste” wine using artificial intelligence. “Axelsson agrees that Tastry is not a substitute for a sommelier. But she says the scalability of her product makes it possible to analyze more wines per year than a human could ever taste.”

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov offers notes on the most recent Wine School, Txakolina, and announces what’s up next: Chenin Blanc from three places.

After tasting more than 800 wines, Jane Anson offers her Bordeaux 2020 en primeur overview in Decanter. (subscription req.)

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague reports on sommelier Yannick Benjamin’s new restaurant, Contento, which aims to be accessible to everyone. (subscription req.)

In Eater, Brooke Jackson-Glidden reports on Oregon’s new winery, Cho Wines. “In recent years, some of the new generation of winemakers in the Willamette Valley have moved away from making pinots, dabbling in less-represented varietals or blends. However, the Chos wanted to experiment more with pinot noir grapes, to expand what people expect of the varietal.”

In Travel + Leisure, Sean Patrick Flynn explores Portugal’s Algarve wine region.

In Wine Spectator, James Molesworth checks in on Long Island’s North Fork wine region.

In Paper City Magazine, James Brock talks grapes with winemaker Dan Petroski.

Daily Wine News: Preparing for Wildfire Season

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-27-2021

In VinePair, Tina Caputo looks at how California wineries are preparing for the 2021 wildfire season. “While it’s anyone’s guess if the state will ever again experience the unprecedented confluence of record-setting temperatures, high winds, and freak lightning strikes that led to 2020’s devastation, a dry winter and parched landscapes spurred by climate change have created the potential for another brutal wildfire season in 2021. Forty-one California counties, including Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino, are already under drought emergencies as of May 11.”

In PUNCH, Emily Wilson checks in on the frosé trend. “As we make up for lost time this summer, frosé won’t be as widely available as it was five years ago, but it’s likely that people will spring for it in the places it’s still served.”

In Eater, Patty Diez looks at the local gas stations that double as boutique bottle shops, stocked with natural wines and craft beer.

The price of a tasting has almost doubled in Napa and Sonoma in the past five years. W. Blake Gray looks into why in Wine-Searcher.

“Much has been written about the burgeoning trend towards “better for you” beverages in the wine space. It’s definitely a thing.  But, is it a sustainable thing?” Laura Ness explores the “better for you” beverage space in Wine Industry Advisor.

“Following a vehicle crash on May 12 on a back road near the town Sebastopol, Calif., in Sonoma County wine country, a winemaker is dead and a young vineyard manager is facing DUI and possible manslaughter charges,” reports Wine Spectator. “Mark Osborne, 53, an enologist at Gary Farrell Winery in the Russian River Valley, was riding his bicycle when a pickup truck driven by Ulises Valdez Jr. of Valdez & Sons Vineyard Management struck him.”

Is hyperspecific wine stemware worth it? Kelly A. Magyarics takes a look in Wine Enthusiast.

Daily Wine News: Better for You?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-25-2021

How good are “better for you” wines? MaryAnn Worobiec delves into the emerging category of “clean” and low-calorie wines in Wine Spectator.

“Is the term “elegant” overused in wine? And, do the “elegant” wines of the world have the capacity to age?” Elsewhere in Wine Spectator, Alison Napjus ponders the concept of elegance in wine. (subscription req.)

In Wine Enthusiast, Matt Kettmann explores the Santa Clara Valley, where 111-year-old vines lie just beyond outlet malls. “When wine grapes were planted in 1910 on what’s known today as Besson Vineyard, vineyards sprawled throughout the Santa Clara Valley, from the redwood slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the grassy foothills of East San Jose. But suburban development steadily swallowed this landscape, and only the most stubborn vines remained.”

So you want to be a wine consultant? Erik Segelbaum shares some pointers in SevenFifty Daily.

Treasury Wine Estates has pledged “net-zero” emissions.

In Food & Wine, Brian Freedman highlights the diversity of wines from Mount Etna.

Wine tours are ramping back up again on Long Island, says Florence Fabricant in the New York Times.

Daily Wine News: Expanding Rosé

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-24-2021

Rosé has mostly been marketed to white women. Black winemaker Donae Burston aims to expand rosé’s appeal across race, geography and socioeconomic status, reports Dave McIntyre in the Washington Post.

Yadira Lopez also looks at Donae Burston’s La Fête du Rosé brand in the Miami Herald. “Rising interest in Black-owned brands has widened the industry’s lens, he said. Quarantine and the booming popularity of rosé — with sales growing by more than 40% per year in the U.S., according to the site Wine Economist — have also created a snowball effect that’s quickly raised the label’s profile.”

Jancis Robinson wonders why Americans don’t seem to like Australian wine as much as she does. The amount of Australian wine shipped to the US fell by 3% last year. Why are Americans immune to the charms of Aussie wine? Is it because it is too like California wine? (Though the same could be said of Argentina, which has enjoyed considerable success.) Has the runaway success of the sweet, mass-market Australian brand Yellow Tail soured perceptions forever? Is it because of a lack of Australian restaurants in the US to act as useful discovery points?”

Speaking of Yellow Tail, the brand has launched “Pure Bright, a new lower-calorie and lower-alcohol wine that does not sacrifice on taste.”

On the 45th anniversary of the famous Judgment of Paris, Neal D. Hulkower we revisits a lesser known but equally fascinating wine tasting in Wine-Searcher: the Judgment of Paris According to Borda.

What’s causing your wine headache? It might not be sulfites, says Jamie Goode in Wine Enthusiast.

Robert Draper explores the Friuli wine region in National Geographic.

Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 05-22-2021

It’s been a very long time since I’ve traveled internationally, and with no plans for the future, I’m assuaging my travel lust this week with a mix of wines from all over the world.

I have some solid French wines in this report, including a diverse group of wines from the Languedoc region, some summer-friendly pink wines, and a delightful Chateauneuf. There are a few interesting wines from Germany (including a stellar Riesling), and some value from Portugal as well. Some crushable yet complex New Zealand reds make quite an impression, too.

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

Daily Wine News: Blockchain for Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-21-2021

In Wine Enthusiast, Lauren Mowery dives into how blockchain technology could help eliminate fraud in the wine industry. “For bigger producers and luxury brands, counterfeit prevention and quality control are key benefits of blockchain. They help build consumer trust.”

Eric Asimov remembers Au Bon Climat’s Jim Clendenen in the New York Times. “Mr. Clendenen was a big man who often had the loudest voice in the room and the loudest shirts. He wore a striking leonine mane of hair well after long hair had gone out of fashion, and a goatee long before goatees came back in style. His wines were similarly distinctive but never trendy… He never changed his approach, and for many years his wines were more celebrated abroad than in the United States. But in the last decade, the pendulum swung back. Classic styles like Au Bon Climat’s once again came to be prized in the United States, with the wines serving as models for many younger producers.”

“Even the grapes of Campania are comparatively obscure, with names like Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Coda di Volpe that are difficult for non-Italophones to pronounce. But thanks to ambitious producers who apply modern winemaking methods to ancient grape varieties—not to mention a great price-quality ratio—now might be the best time ever to drink Campania’s white wines.” In the Washington Post, Lettie Teague finds great value in the white wines of Italy’s Campania. (subscription req.)

A lawsuit was filed earlier this month in New York against retailer Wine Chateau, claiming the site is not fully accessible to blind and visually impaired customers as is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). W. Blake Gray considers the implications for other online wine retailers in Wine-Searcher.

In Forbes, Liz Thach reports on the results of a new E&J Gallo Study. “The surprising findings indicate that 1 in 3 of all new wine consumers enter the category through a sweet wine offering. Even more startling is that during Covid, sales of sweet wine increased by 40.1%.”

As more winery sales go digital, branded gear proves to be a winner. In Meininger’s, Roger Morris explores the world of wine merchandising.

In Kansas City Magazine, Natalie Torres Gallagher explores the rising quality of dry hybrid wines in Missouri.

Daily Wine News: Hybrids in California

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-20-2021

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley considers the future of hybrid grapes in California. “Returning native North American hybrid grapes to these soils is more than just a cute philosophical idea. Due to climate change, it may become a necessity… All of these factors have made this moment ripe for hybrid wines to at last find a receptive audience after centuries of ridicule. Thanks to the natural wine movement, wine drinkers’ palates are primed for flavors that are new and different, and for wines that might have once been considered off-putting.”

More than 50 winemakers from Basque part of Rioja denomination no longer want to be associated with name. Barcelona correspondent Stephen Burgen shares more details in the Guardian. “Supporters of the breakaway point to research that shows a trend towards consumers wanting to drink smaller amounts of higher-quality wine. What they want is something similar to the French system, where there is a regional appellation contrôlée such as Bordeaux or Bourgogne but within it numerous smaller ones such as Médoc or Meursault.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Alicia Ramírez talks to Arvind Ethan David about Broadway Wine Club, the wine subscription service that he launched during the pandemic to support boutique producers and Broadway professionals alike.

In TRINK, Valerie Kathawala talks to Terry Theise about what he’s learned from almost 40 years of observation and interaction with German-speaking wines.

For Club Oenologique, Terry Xu gives the lowdown on all the key wineries, grape varieties and regions in China.

On Jeb Dunnuck’s site, R.H. Drexel remembers Au Bon Climat’s Jim Clendenen and talks to Julia and Nikolas Krankl about their new brand, Fingers Crossed.

Alder Yarrow offers notes on current releases from Peay Vineyards. “This year marks the 20th year since their vines were planted in the remains of an old sheep ranch and apple orchard.”

Daily Wine News: Bordeaux’s Grape Revolution

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-19-2021

Climate change is causing profound changes—also and especially in the world of wine. Sooner or later, heat and drought will likely affect every region, no matter how prestigious it may be. In Bordeaux, the topic has long been on everyone’s lips. One solution: adapt the variety mix. In Meininger’s, James Lawrence explores Bordeaux’s grape revolution.

On JancisRobinson.com, Alder Yarrow explains exactly how and why Californian wine producers are so dependent on water—a commodity that is running out fast. (subscription req.)

With pink Prosecco proving an unprecedented success, producers are predicting a rosé Prosecco shortage this year, due to a lack of availability of eligible Pinot Noir grapes. James Lawrence shares more in the Drinks Business.

In Decanter, Victoria Moore explores the science behind Covid’s impact on the nose and learns how those affected—both wine lovers and professionals—are coping.

Tom Wark looks at the history of wine influences in two pieces: Part 1 and Part 2.

In Wine-Searcher, Laura McKenna delves into the history of Western Australia, and looks ahead to its wine future.

The Napa Valley Wine Train rolls again, for the first time in 14 months.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, reviews The Wines of Roussillon by Rosemary George MW.